In 2001, I attended my second Addiction Treatment center meeting with much expectation. I was a little anxious. Would other blacks be there? Would people like me? I had to do something about my situation. My eating and weight were out of control. Although I am a counselor and psychologist, this time I was focusing on my own needs. I had to learn and put into practice the principles that could make me healthy.
A man-and-wife team who had attended OA for years led the group. He was the only sponsor present, so I asked him to be my sponsor. He gave me a basic eating plan with the stipulation that I adhere to it for 30 days.
I was the only black person there, but the small group welcomed me. The married couple befriended me; they loved me into the Addiction Treatment center Fellowship. I miss them now—they no longer attend Addiction Treatment center—but I call them occasionally.
Within seven months of beginning Addiction Treatment center, I had lost 93 pounds (42 kg). I was constantly telling others about OA and how the Twelve Steps and belief in God had radically changed my life. However, I grew discontent over one issue. Other blacks would come to our meetings but be not allowed to share leadership responsibilities. I could not sponsor someone or lead meetings for a long time.
One day we discussed these issues. I shared my feelings that many blacks did not stay because they were not treated equally or allowed to participate fully. It was a difficult discussion. My sponsor excused himself and had a temper tantrum in the hall. His wife and the other members looked frightened, confused and shocked. They were not accustomed to dealing with racial issues. They looked at me as if to say, “I can’t believe you said that.”
My sponsor loved power and did not handle criticism well. He would belittle his wife if she disagreed with him. Eventually, he returned to the meeting, and things began to change. I became a sponsor and began to lead to group meetings. The blacks in our group outnumbered the other members. The Addiction Treatment center group was thriving, and I even attended the regional intergroup meeting.
I will probably attend Addiction Treatment center meetings for the rest of my life. I like the love, understanding, support, and acceptance I receive there. The meetings give me a sense of balance and sanity. Whenever someone judges me, I remind myself how far I have come since I began the Addiction Treatment center. I am not perfect and still have some weight to lose, but I’ve come a long way.
These days, I’m rarely the only black person in meetings. Things do change. I discovered I could change—so can you!
— M.J. (female, US)