I’ll never forget the first time I tried to attend an AA meeting online. The year was 2006 and it was a painful experience. Yahoo Chat rooms were still a thing and Myspace was on the rise. I didn’t have a camera with my computer, so I was left with only the words running across red Dell laptop screen. The speaker would start by introducing themselves by their first name and stating they were an alcoholic. And then, you had to wait for EVERYONE in the chat room to chime in…”Hi Bob!” “Hi Bob” “Hi Bob” over and over and over. (and over and over) Even more painful, many times the person speaking would be a slow typer. I don’t do anything slow. I didn’t drink slow. I don’t read slow. I don’t drive slow. I want everything to be efficient and fast. I even fall asleep fast. Online AA meetings were not for me. I was one and done.
Fast forward to March 2020 in Seattle, ground zero in the United States for the Covid-19 pandemic, and I find myself faced again with having to get my meetings online. I have underlying health issues that put me at high risk if I get exposed to the coronavirus and so does my 23 year old son. We are on lock down and we have been since March 5th.
Nearly 14 years into my sobriety, I still attend meetings. Maybe not as many as in the early years, but I still go. Sometimes I want to, sometimes I don’t. Regardless, they always give me the results that I’m seeking. Connection with people that speak my language is what I crave.
“Connection with people that speak my language is what I crave.”
And then Covid-19 hit Seattle and businesses, restaurants, meeting halls and churches started closing down all over town. Many AA meetings are in church basements. There’s something comforting to me of the smell of a musty church basement after all these years. I immediately started reaching out to my sober network asking what they were doing for their meetings. I was contacted by a former co-worker and interviewed for this article in the Huffpost. I really wish my 5 seconds of anonymous fame was under different circumstances. (While I am very open about my recovery, I in no way represent or speak for Alcoholics Anonymous) But I do share my experience, strength, and hope so that people within my extended network feel safe to ask me questions if they are questioning or seeking sobriety.
Tonight I logged on to an online meeting with a group of people I am already familiar with. We connected via Zoom at what would have been a normal meeting time. Many of us had cameras on and for those that didn’t, they could still listen and take turns sharing. It felt like home. Maybe because I was literally in my home, but regardless I was able to make the connections that I so desperately have been craving during this time of isolation. Alcoholism is an very isolating disease and the most dangerous place I can be is alone in my head for long periods of time. Tonight I was able to get some relief. We shared laughs and we shared tears. While the world feels upside down and very uncertain, the one thing I do know for sure is that I don’t have to go through this journey alone.
If you or someone you know is questioning or seeking sobriety and living in the area during this current crisis, I encourage you to check out the Seattle Intergroups website for a list of meetings that are now available online.