I am a member of the long term recovery community and have more than 25 years of continuous sobriety under my belt. I have been able to achieve a number of milestones during my journey including a very happy marriage, a couple of children, pets, a good career, and many good friends in the recovery circles.
Spending decades in recovery, I find that staying sober is something you need to work on continuously. As I continue to work on my sobriety, one of the many things I have learned is that in order to remain sober and happy, I have to surround myself with like-minded people. For several years, I have been successful at doing so. However, in early March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic started to take hold in the United States, social gatherings were reduced or restricted, building occupant capacities were lowered, and regular in-person meetings or events became virtual. I found myself struggling to keep connections.
Speaking with people through FaceTime and attending meetings or appointments via Zoom or Google Hangouts worked to some extent, but things didn’t feel the same. I desperately missed the close, personal interactions that are, for me, such a significant component of being in recovery. Although I wished I could go back to a real, in-person meeting, I understood the health risks at stake. I had to become accustomed to new methods of staying connected and become understanding of the changing world we are now living in.
Living through these times has inspired me to make some new commitments in my life. For example, every morning I read a positive daily meditation just like I used to do in the early days. It has definitely been helpful. I also try hard to make sure that I actually pay attention when I attend a Zoom meeting and participate in discussions. I am easily distracted when I’m talking to people through a screen, and I often try to focus on more than one thing at any time. I have a couple methods of combating the distractions. Reminding myself of the meeting’s purpose encourages me to pay attention, and exercise definitely helps me to stay focused. Plus, fresh air does wonders for the soul. If I can get outside and be active between periods of screen time, I can be more engaged in virtual meetings. I've come to understand that online recovery is an extremely helpful alternative to in-person meetings that allows me to stay connected to and foster relationships with like-minded people.
The pandemic has quickly forced us into a different way of life and, despite the pain and sheer devastation surrounding the past few months, I have found some positive in the new norms we’re following. For example, I am amazed by the number of people like me that I have virtually met all over the world, and extremely grateful to have met them. The connections I’ve formed give me something to look forward to when we get back to normal (meeting some of them in person). I am looking forward to continuing the journey I am on, understanding that challenges like this will come up. I know that as long as I keep moving on this path I will be okay.