I schlepped into my first OA meeting late and in dirty clothes, fearful of the people around me. I left early too. But I kept coming back, and eventually I found sanity, a benevolent higher power, and abstinence. I’ve recently become interested in exploring the Traditions at a deeper level. This is what Tradition Seven means to me.

I strive to give more than I take. I come to meetings to support the still-suffering through whatever forms their eating disorders take. I come to offer experience and hope, strength and compassion. And I reach out for support when I need it. Members in my meeting need to hear about the healing that is possible. I don’t dwell on the events of the week, wallow in self-pity, or detail the latest argument with a family member unless it underscores recovery. I bring the message to my meetings and the mess to my sponsor or another OA friend.

Being self-supporting means that I perform service at the meeting level and beyond when I have the time and resources. Somebody has to do it, so why not me? I learned that service providers will sometimes be criticized, but criticism doesn’t kill. I learned to step back from service when I took on too much and discovered that people still loved me. I took on tasks to learn them, not because I was already an expert, and taking these risks taught me faith, trust, and new skills.

Whatever my circumstances, I can give something: time, talent, or money.

Something as simple as decorating tables or carpooling with other members is a meaningful contribution. Volunteering at special events enriches my recovery: At a marathon lunch, I learned to design beautiful food trays from a member who catered professionally. At our region assembly, I was introduced to Robert’s Rules of Order, which now enables me to lead business meetings at work and at intergroup. And when I was a regional delegate, I learned to dance the Y.M.C.A. (and had a blast!) when I stayed for a convention.

The Seventh Tradition encourages me to be financially responsible for myself and to OA. I don’t expect my meetings to give me free literature or pay the rent without my help. I don’t expect a free ride. Whatever my circumstances, I can give something: time, talent, or money.

To be self-supporting means so much—it means making our own decisions with the help of our Higher Power and being grown up. So share what you know, share your hope and recovery, and support this life-enriching Fellowship.

— Cindy W., Arizona USA