“In recovery, the wish to keep indulging without consequences doesn’t vanish suddenly. How many of us hoard, ruminate, fidget or pump ourselves full of coffee or nicotine, or go the other way with exercise or rigid dieting? Old habits die hard, you say? Consider that quitting may not end our problems–some say quitting exposes our problems.”
~ Joe C., Beyond Belief — Agnostic Musings For 12 Step Life
I’m still amazed – although, by now I guess I shouldn’t be – by the extraordinary ways that people in the fellowships step up and do what needs to be done in a crisis. I’ve seen that so many times: when arrangements need to be made for holiday meeting coverage; when members are going through devastating personal crises; when a new meeting site is suddenly needed, organizing picnics, bonfires and other get-togethers, and numerous other ways. For some odd reason, sobriety seems to bring out the best in folks.
Never has that willingness to be of service been more obvious than over the past month. As our options for mobility and meeting face-to-face have contracted to – finally – our own living rooms, members have, without being asked, set to work establishing online and phone options to continue the fellowships that keep us sober and relatively sane. Those who are able to host Skype and Zoom meetings have done so and spread the word. Phone meetings have been set up and information has gotten out with astounding speed. Websites have gotten extensive and prompt attention. The information has been spread by phone calls, text chains and probably smoke signals for all I know.
In short, the things that need doing to meet the Responsibility Statement of AA, which is generally adhered to in spirit by all the fellowships to which I belong and most others, are getting done. That is happening with a minimum of fuss and bother: just people helping others in the best ways they know of. The way it’s been for the several years I’ve been around the rooms, and for decades before that.
If you’re having trouble finding meetings, support or just folks to hang out with (electronically), check around. Call your local Intergroup office, or look on the website. If you haven’t explored those sources before, now is a great time – a critical time – to do so. The folks in the fellowships have been there and done that. Help and support are always available if you look for them, and that is even more true in the current test that the entire human race is undergoing. Anyone who has been around the rooms for a while has experienced the hollow feeling of arriving at a meeting and finding no one there, for whatever reason. In my case, at least, it seems like there was usually an oldtimer who showed up “just in case,” and who was up for a cup of coffee and a chat. I’ve been the newcomer and the oldtimer, both, and I guarantee that the feeling – for me – was the same in all cases: relief. Oldtimers need love too.
If you’re looking for support, reach out; it’s there. If you’re bored, reach out to another addict; the means are there. This pandemic is likely to change the world in ways we haven’t dreamed of yet. Perhaps that will be for the worse, perhaps not. We can dwell on the good versus bad question, or we can choose to move forward. One thing is for sure, in my not-so-humble opinion: the fellowships are going to change, expand, and become even better at achieving the intent of that Responsibility Statement.
Stick around. Be part of the change. Be part of the solution. You’ll be glad you did.
And please be safe! May whatever part of the universe you choose to think is watching keep you that way.
Reinhold Niebuhr is known for ideas that were highly influential in Christian theological debate during the early 20th Century, but as far as alcoholics and other addicts are concerned, his restating of a basic philosophical truth in the Serenity Prayer is a life preserver in the roiling sea of life.
Too many recovering people give only lip service to the prayer. In most of our fellowships, if we attend meetings regularly, we recite it at least a few times a week. The question is, do we listen to what we’re saying? Continue reading
In recovery, our early delight at feeling better and a burning desire to spread the word can lead to what I call the Guru Syndrome (GS). The GS can stem from a sincere desire to help others, but it can also hide a profound fear of getting the help we need for ourselves.