Monday Meeting Miracles: 11/25
My Monday meeting was a great one, despite the freezing weather! There were eleven of us in total, one newcomer to the meeting, the rest were regular attendees.
Since today is the fourth Friday of the month, the literature selection is “Chairperson‘s Choice.” I still laugh at this, as I am the sole chairperson of the meeting. This morning’s selection was an article from the AA Grapevine, which is the International Journal Of Alcoholics Anonymous. The article is entitled “Open 24 Hours,” and it chronicles the history of online AA meetings, the evolution of online participation in AA, and the similarities of virtual meetings to traditional “live” meetings.
I selected this article for two reasons. First, and this is a little sad to admit, I had no idea that AA hosted meetings online! The information I took away from the article was substantial, and so I figured I needed to check it out before I could write about it, so after my regular meeting I attended my first online meeting. I went to www.aaonline.net, and, sure enough, there was a meeting to start within minutes! I will talk about my experience with the online meeting in a bit.
The second reason I selected this article is that a lot of the positive experiences reported in it reminded me of my experience in our “blogosphere.” I have read much in our community about people who came here because they wanted to stop drinking, and desired a supportive community, but were unwilling to look for help within their live communities. The reasons are varied, from a fear of being labeled, philosophical differences of opinion with 12-step groups, or simple time management issues, there are many of us who want recovery but need the online community to be our primary resource. What I did not realize is that you can participate in the 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous virtually! There are a variety of meetings online, just as there are in churches and clubhouses… there are discussion meetings, Big Book meetings, step meetings, to name just a few that I saw in my preliminary research. And they seem to be run in a format very similar to live meetings: there is a chairperson, they have a meeting format, there is an order to sharing, just like in regular meetings. Best of all, you can just sit at your computer and read the interaction, if you just want the experience, but are fearful of sharing.
The online meeting was an interesting experience. As a newcomer to both online meetings and chat rooms in general, I was unsure of the proper etiquette for sharing, and unfamiliar with some of the lingo used. But within minutes I had the general hang of it, was able to participate in the discussion, and encourage others who participated. In my online meeting, there were about 15 “attendees” who stayed for the entire hour, but many more “entered” and “exited” throughout the meeting. The format was a topic meeting, there were two main points of discussion: how to handle the upcoming holidays, and how to determine if you are an alcoholic or just a problem drinker. The people who shared were very candid about their sobriety, and equally candid about their certainty in terms of their alcoholism. Some were completely uncertain, others were zealous in their belief that they had an incurable, progressive illness. Everyone was respectful of one another’s opinion (an issue about which I worried when there were such differing viewpoints), and everyone seemed grateful for everyone else’s honesty.
For me, the online experience would be something I would seek out if I were in imminent need of a meeting and could not find one live; I would probably never look to switch over to online meetings exclusively, or even regularly. I guess because I am somewhat entrenched, as it were, in my live 12-step community, I find it easier to follow the meetings when I can see and hear the people as they share, rather than waiting to read each sentence as they type it. However, for someone who is looking to get sober, but reluctant to go to a live meeting, I think the online meetings would be an amazing resource! And I think that newly sober people will find an enormous amount of like-minded individuals all reaching for the same goal.
I would love to hear feedback from anyone else who has participated in online recovery, and how it has worked (or not) for you!
Finding new resources for staying sober, and sharing them with others, is a great way to expand my recovery tool box!
Posted on November 25, 2013, in Monday Meeting Miracles and tagged Addiction, Alcoholic Anonymous, Big Book, Friday, Meeting, Recovery, Sobriety, Substance Abuse, Twelve-Step Program, Web conferencing. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.