VIRTUAL MEETINGS and my Higher Power
From October 2017 up to early March 2020, I was a member of a AA group in Inverness in the Highlands.
I was responsible for one or two service positions and therefore reasonably active in the group, attending almost all our meetings.
And then, on 22 March, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our meeting room became inaccessible due to the lockdown restrictions.
We were just one of thousands of groups across the country affected, and no-one knew when we would be able to resume our vital AA meetings.
After giving it some thought, I decided that it was important that our group did not fragment whilst this lockdown was in place.
It was then I thought of setting up on line a Virtual Group using the world wide web as a platform.
To explain further, as part of my service to our group and to AA as a whole, I had set up a website dedicated to the group. I have always funded the cost of this service as part of my personal contribution to AA.
Having done the same for other groups that I had belonged to since the early nineties I was simply carrying on with something that I had found to be useful – not just to others, but to myself. It also helped me to pass on the message from a broad platform - i.e. the world wide web.
And so, I placed a note on the website that I would set up a meeting using ZOOM as a platform. To ensure that any of our meetings would not be restricted to the 40 minutes as allowed on the free version of ZOOM, I purchased a 12 month subscription.
Consequently, on Tuesday 24th March, we had our first Virtual Meeting with about 8 people attending.
Very soon, word got around and at our next meeting on Thursday 26th March we had doubled the number of attendees.
It was then decided to hold a Group business meeting online on Sunday 29th March where it was established that I would continue to host meetings from the Zoom platform.
Some of the members wanted me to advertise the meeting on the AA National Website. I made it clear at the meeting that I was not prepared to do this, as my primary purpose for setting up the Virtual Meetings was to try to ensure that the members of our own group could hold onto each other in the group that they were familiar with.
My argument followed that if our meeting went to a wider platform it could lose the cohesiveness of a small group. (We averaged about 14-15 members per meeting at our normal meetings in our designated meeting room in the city up to then).
I pointed out to the members who wanted to post our meetings on the National website that if they would like to fund and host their own Virtual Meeting, I had no problem with that whatsoever.
This was also entered in the minutes of the meeting.
It was shortly afterwards, that the members at this business meeting who were at odds with my personal views abruptly stopped attending our Virtual Meetings.
By early April, other groups in the region were setting up their own Virtual Meetings, mainly using ZOOM and others on SKYPE.
Now our own group was progressing well and we were holding meetings every day of the week having started with Virtual Meetings on Tuesday and Thursday in line with what we had been doing at normal meetings before lockdown.
However, on 24 May I reacted to something that happened at another meeting I was attending. (Not my home group meeting).
As a result of the action taken against me at this particular meeting I became furious and I reacted badly, abusing some (not all) of the people attending and left the meeting. After over 32 years of continuous sobriety, I behaved as never before in recovery and I felt so ashamed.
I did what I considered to be the honourable thing and made a public apology through the group website. I did this immediately.
Because I was fairly well known in the fellowship both here in the Highlands and elsewhere, I though the only proper thing for me to do was to end my association with my home group because I felt I had also let the group down by my outburst.
I made this publicly known on the same day (24th May), and set up another Virtual Group. This group I registered and named it “JUST FOR TODAY”.
This group has been running since 25th may under the new name and some of the people - (not all). who were there when we started online on 24th March still attend.
Recently, numbers have fallen away from around 15 per meeting in June to an average of eight per meeting as of today - (19th August). The decline can be attributed to some of our members having work commitments that clash with our meetings held only in the day and so far not the evenings.
I was thinking that perhaps we were not doing the right things at our meetings and this could also contribute to the lower numbers.
This morning my mind was considering several options including perhaps reducing the number of meetings or changing the meeting format. I even considered closing it down and starting a new meeting but that would be a last resort.
I sat a while and meditated on what I had asked my god to advise me in my prayers. God stayed silent but I continued to listen.
And I got my answer at our meeting today.
We did have 13 people in the room today which was just a part of the answer.
But there was also the things that our lovely members shared that convinced me that no matter what, I must try to continue doing what I have been doing this past while.
After all, it is not MY will that is important any more. I have serious obligations to my Manager - (God as I understand him). I made a commitment in my third step to allow my god to guide my thoughts and my actions.
I handed my affairs over to my manager (God as I understand him) a long time ago and trust his guidance.
He does expect me to make decisions, some not easy. But today, the way he contacted me through the love of my home group members today will sustain me for today.
For it really is JUST FOR TODAY that my life is under control. Providing I follow directions.
If you can identify with anything I have posted here today then I have made some progress.
You might not identify at all but it has helped me to share this with you whether you might be a close friend or a total stranger. Thank you.
Take care and stay safe and well…………………………Doug