COVID-19 and Zoom AA Meetings

These are extraordinary times that are upon us. No doubt.

Anyone who says they see clearly around the corner, be it three-weeks, three-months, six-months, or beyond, is fooling themself. Sorry. The situation we are in is uncharted water. We all have to take it one day at a time and see what happens.

So what to do in the meantime?

Here are two things I am doing.

The First Thing – Remembering AA is not therapy.

First, I am not talking about “it” at AA meetings.  The other day I heard a burning desire share at the end of the Zoom meeting, “I’ve heard enough about COVID-19, I need to stop drinking!”

Wow, just wow. Something we all need to hear.

Imagine someone wanting to stop drinking at an AA meeting?

I get this is a most unusual time, and people need to vent, but I think now is the time to move past this in meetings and focus on “our number one problem” and the solution upon which we agree.

For those sincerely wanting to get sober, hearing about how to get there has the most value. And, exciting as weighing in with our thoughts on the virus may be, it is more group therapy then recovery.

I honestly don’t know what was happening in the world when I got sober. What I remember was the excitement of writing an inventory, making amends, and beginning a new life that continues through today. Those deeply significant and personal events trumped whatever was going on in “the real world.”

So, now that the novelty of video conference AA meeting has worn off, I’m trying to keep my sharing to alcoholism and recovery, not COVID-19.

The Second Thing – Capturing the Moment

All this is not to say I should deny or bury thoughts and feelings about the pandemic. Quite the contrary. I think now is the time to pay close attention to these thoughts and feelings that are being stirred up, then in the AA way, getting them on paper and sharing them with someone.

For me, I am having all kinds of big broad thoughts.

  • What is truly important to me? Am I living my life in a way that reflects this?
  • What do I miss? How will I savor those moments more in the future?
  • What is driving all this fear?
  • How great is it to be sober through all this!

I think these unusual times present a rare opportunity to pause, reflect, and gain some deeper self-knowledge on some of the things that make us tick, and what we value. Whenever things get back to some type of ordinary, trust me, you’ll forget these feelings and thoughts pretty quickly.

So, capture them now while you are feeling them. Nothing better than in-the-moment. Then, talk about these thoughts with a sponsor or other trusted AA confidant. See if there any changes you can make now or in the future. Then, enroll your sponsor in helping you stay accountable.

Noise is Noise

Much has been made of the AA Zoom meetings, both positive and negative.

The positive is how quickly the AA community almost overnight became mobilized getting AAs connecting online. The negatives have been the disruptive crashers, technical glitches, and security breaches that have created a whole lot of noise to the much beloved AA meeting.

But “noise” has always been a component of AA meetings. Those who want to get and stay sober, they learn to live with it.

The issue for me with these Zoom meetings is one of safety. “Do I feel safe to share in a meeting with disrupters and people who are hardly paying attention?” For me, the answer is no, I don’t. So, I’ve chosen to “pass” at most meetings when called on, opting instead to connect with fellow AAs one on one.

I hope this changes. The message here is, there is always “noise” in AA meetings one needs to push through, but, if you don’t feel safe, OK to pass.

The Message is Hope

In AA, the message is one of hope. You can get sober regardless of your current situation! Millions have.

And, look around, see all the people that are doing it, who are all saying, “you can too!” It’s easy to see why people are crashing our meetings to tap into this hope energy.

COVID-19 will end. That will be a great day. It will even be more glorious if you have used the time in between to either get sober or deepen the inner dimension of your sobriety.

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