The Most Expensive Meeting I’ve Never Been To

This is a piece I am working on for our local OA Intergroup newsletter:

Recently, I was in Baltimore attending a trade show as part of my job. It was a Natural Foods/Supplements/Body Care trade show, and a full half of the show was dedicated to food samples. It’s a crazy atmosphere and I have to attend a lot of business dinners where there isn’t always an abstinent meal option that fits my food plan. Last year I had a really hard time at this show, so I knew that this year I would need to take some different actions in order to stay abstinent. I called the hotel in advance and asked for a refrigerator for my hotel room. We did not rent a car, so when I arrived in Baltimore I made a plan of what I would eat for the week, made a list of all of the food I would need and took a taxi to the nearest grocery store so I could stock up. I forgot my measuring spoons at home, so I purchased a new set. I also decided to buy disposable plates and cups so that my meals would not be eaten off of napkins or eaten standing up, which always makes me resentful and triggers the disease. I didn’t want to spend the extra money on these items initially, but today I know that my recovery is worth it and that the money I need will come somehow.

I knew that in order to maintain my sanity and recovery, I needed to go to a OA meeting somehow even though I didn’t have a car. I found two meetings that I thought would work with my schedule for the show, which frequently involves 12 hour-long days full of meetings and chaos. Of course, something happened with work that caused a delay during the day of the first meeting and I missed it. I decided I was going to the second meeting no matter what. Little did I know how far that sentiment would take me!

The Friday meeting had two contact people listed, and I called both of them to make sure that the meeting was happening, but was unable to get in touch with either of them. It made me nervous about going to the meeting, but I decided to try anyway. It was only about 15 minutes away, so if something went wrong I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. The day of the meeting, it was raining really hard, and being a Las Vegan I did not have an umbrella. I decided to hail a cab anyway and risk getting wet. It took almost 15 minutes to get a cab because cabbies in Baltimore apparently do not like to pick up fares in the rain. The window on the passenger side in the cab was broken and did not roll up. At this point, I was already pretty soaked, but determined.  I thought, “Hmmm, HP, is this me being totally in self-will about this meeting or what? The signs all point to no, but I really want to go.” I had about two seconds to pray about it before the cabbie took off like a bat out of hell, so that was that. We sped off, and were immediately met with sheets of rain and blocked off streets due to a festival that only happens once a year. Half an hour and many detours later, we arrived at the church. I asked the cab driver to wait just in case and dashed out into the monsoon-force rain. I tried first one door to the church, then another, and then a third and they were all locked.  By this time I was soaked to the skin, so I decided to go back to the hotel. I’ll admit, I was pretty mad! We then encountered a traffic jam the likes of which I’d never seen before. This cab wasn’t going anywhere. So I spent the whole cab trip back to the hotel texting back and forth with another OA member. $62 dollars and hour and a half later I arrived at the hotel, starving, soaked and car sick.

In the past, this kind of event would have sent me into a full-blown food meltdown. My disease takes difficulties, especially with program, and turns them into reasons to get into the food. I was really upset that I spent $62 dollars that I couldn’t afford on a meeting that I never even got to attend. Did I binge over it? Hell no. I took a shower, had an abstinent dinner, called my sponsor, chatted with some more friends in program, did some reading and went to bed abstinent. The next day, I chuckled all day long at the image of me soaking wet and frantically banging on the doors of a locked church. The nuns from my rebellious days in Catholic school would get a good laugh out of that! Today, thanks to the program of Overeaters Anonymous, I truly am willing to go to any lengths to be abstinent, deal with life on life’s terms and stay in recovery.

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