Wednesday, April 15, 2020

STUCK AT HOME, WHAT TO DO?

"Isolation" by Aidansane
 I have communed with the birds and squirrels, taken even more pictures of my dog, made home repairs, stayed in touch with the NA program and its people, I go to NA Zoom meetings and wait along with everyone else for things to go, well, not back to normal. But at least to lighten up. It is astonishing the complainers and foot draggers who cannot wait to return to jobs and schools they thought they hated. It was like when I got injured in the Army. I couldn't think of anything better than being in hospital with a (not too serious injury), lying around in bed all day, meals brought to me, and so on. After three days of that I was fit to be tied. After nineteen days I so grateful to get back to work upon my return I almost hugged my sergeant.

By occupation, I am a novelist and short story writer. It is not considered an essential occupation. What I can do, for those who like a good story, is fill up a stretch of time every day until the all-clear with some readings at no cost. The readings use the Zoom platform. Download the video conferencing app, and this will open a number of useful and entertaining doors. Once you have it on your device, click on the app, click on "Join Meeting" then enter the meeting code (see below).

I will be reading from Saint Mary Blue, the story of a group of patients going through rehab for addiction (researched the hard way). Curiously enough, one of the patients is a science fiction writer.

It is a very important story to me and to many of my readers. So, the following announcement:

●Beginning Thursday, March 16th, 2020 at 12 Noon EDST (-4 GMT) I will begin reading a chapter a day every noon from my recovery novel Saint Mary Blue (Internet willing and the creek don't rise). SMB is a story of very early recovery filled with laughs, tears, warnings, and hope.
●The Zoom reading meeting code is 292-024-0794. At the end of each chapter reading there will be some time for questions and comments. Hope to see you there.
12:00 noon (-4 GMT) beginning April 16th, Zoom 292-024-0794.  

Pass it on.

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

LOOK FOR THE OPPORTUNITY

Scary times: invisible death stalking the streets, jobs lost, businesses going under, world and local disease and death tolls on the rise, meetings of all kinds---business, church, Twelve Step, Scout, National Guard, even boot camp---being cancelled, it's the Covid-19 Boogie. These are the kinds of times that remind me of early recovery when I couldn't work, all my remaining relationships were like walking through mine fields, I was frightened of everyone who I needed to ask for help, waiters in restaurants and friends at parties kept offering me drinks, and every cell in my body was demanding a return to business as usual. Then I would call my sponsor or a program old timer, lay my bucket of woes on him, and invariably the return comment I would get was, "Look for the opportunity."

Opportunity? My disease had latched onto twenty excellent reasons to feel terrified and miserable enough to use, and this guy wanted me to dig through all the horseshit to find the pony? 

Well, yes. See, a grateful addict doesn't use. And although times may be tough, the tough times contain and even generate opportunities. For example, at last night's video conferencing meeting of the Farmington, Maine Dragon Slayers Group of NA, a newcomer at the meeting from Pakistan shared that he was only a few months clean and was pretty much limited to one meeting a week in his area, which was not enough. Then came the pandemic, physical NA meetings around the world shut down, Zoom and other video conferencing platforms began holding NA meetings open to the world, and now he can do numbers of meetings every day. He found lots of opportunities.

I even found a couple of opportunities myself. At the three Farmington meetings, we had been pretty much limited to our local recovering community along with the occasional visitor. Now the number of those attending has increased quite a bit, and with recovering addicts attending from outside Franklin County, Maine, from all over the United States, and from many countries around the world. In the past week we have had recovering addicts from Iran, Australia, England, Iceland, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and Pakistan. The stories shared are both familiar and new. We are indeed a fellowship bound by a common disease arrested by the mechanism of one addict helping another through the program of Narcotics Anonymous. What's more, now the number of addicts who I can help and who can help me has increased enormously.

There was another opportunity I found for me. I have seen a lot of faces and heard a lot of voices in the virtual NA meetings, men and women, young and old, of many nationalities, religions, political persuasions, colors, and economic stations. Instead of focusing on those differences, at the NA meetings we focus on the common problem: Staying clean and growing as happy productive members of society. It shows me that we are but one race: The Human Race. And we are all in the same little lifeboat, Planet Earth, sailing through space. It shows me that if we focus on our common problems and treat each other with compassion and respect, there are answers to be found.

Times are tough, but there are many opportunities within and around you. You can find them if you look for them. If all you look for is pain and disaster, of course, that is all you will find. Or, as an old timer once advised me, "If all you do is look at an asshole, sooner or later you are going to get an eyeful of something you really do not want to see."
Be careful out there.




 

Saturday, April 04, 2020

BOMBING ZOOM MEETINGS

Social distancing and staying home and what to do about those whose lives depend on regular meeting attendance? Modern technology provided us with video conferencing, and Many Narcotics Anonymous meetings are on Zoom. You have a screen with a lot of faces, the hugs are virtual, but the sharing is still the same, except now with people from all over the world. This morning, April 4th, at the Ninish Group of Narcotics Anonymous, we had at one point 80-90 persons logged in from all over the United States and Canada, as well as England, and even Iran. It was a terrific meeting. And then it was Zoom bombed.

Zoom bombing, for those who do not know, is disrupting a meeting by loud language, profanity, and putting up genuinely gross porno clips that essentially make it necessary to shut down the meeting. From eighty recovering addicts dealing with life and maintaining being clean and serene by getting in touch with other recovering addicts, it went straight down to . . . well, it was another opportunity to use the Serenity Prayer, call sponsors, and dust off that list of things I really needed to let go of.

The easiest thing for an addict to do when Zoom bombed is to judge, condemn, and begin turning that old rage crank. The disease loves that. Make yourself miserable, and the payoff is what? Using. On the other hand, a whole bunch of other addicts take such virtual violence, become frightened, and swear never to go to another meeting again. The disease loves that, too. Make yourself miserable, deny yourself the program, and the payoff is what? Using.

There is a bone in every recovering addict that has to vibrate at such disruption. Don't these people know they are costing lives? Have they no clue what is at risk? 

I believe that no one enters a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous by accident. See if you can relate to the using addict terrified of getting clean. If he or she can destroy recovery, then there is no point in putting down the drugs. I've seen this countless times over the years, mostly in school kids trying to get clean. Their using peers in school use all the pressure they can muster to drive the clean kid back into using. Don't these kids know they are costing lives? Have they no clue what is at risk?

All a using addict can see is that nothing comes between the addict and the drug. The law, health, family, future, loved ones, the respect for human life, none of it matters to one attempting to remove the threat of recovery from their lives. So, have I just inventoried a bunch of folks I don't know? Other than having been one of them at one point in my life, yeah, I guess I am. I think I'm pretty accurate, though.

The point is letting go: Accepting the things I cannot change (them), having the courage to change the things I can (myself and the settings on our Zoom meetings), and understanding that the best way to screw up your own day is to try and change someone else's.

I saw a terrific poster. It said, "Serenity is not freedom from the storm, but peace amid the storm.

The meetings, with new settings, will continue as usual. It took learning a lot of technical stuff no one was interested in, and a few tests, and we will see how it goes at our next Zoom meeting on Tuesday. And when you send a prayer to your Higher Power, throw in a thought for those terribly frightened addicts driving themselves to despicable depths to run from recovery. Pray for them and be grateful you are not one of them.

Serenity, and . . . be careful out there.

 



 
 

STUCK AT HOME, WHAT TO DO?

"Isolation" by Aidansane  I have communed with the birds and squirrels, taken even more pictures of my dog, made home repairs...