There was a time when my recovery was confined to 12 step meetings in my own home group in my own little town, in my own corner of the world. That corner of the world would be Ireland, for those of you who have no idea who I am. Initially I didn’t really notice that the recovery rooms I frequented were full of the same faces with the same stories day after day. So eager was I to “get it” that I spent every ounce of energy I possessed soaking up what all these remarkable people had to say. What I heard was solid, unwavering recovery at its very best. I am blessed with my recovery fellowship and my first introduction to 12 step programs was so spiritually based that it has enabled me to end my love affair with every self sabotaging behavior – except for drinking too much coffee.
And I’m very glad to report that I have managed to continue to halt my dance with death. Because of the exquisite people in my home group and the message they carry I am living a very different and productive life these days. After my first year of blood sweat and tears in the name of recovery I finally started to live. I felt like I was seeing the world for the first time. Fear of people, places and things disintegrated pretty fast and all of a sudden I had this immense zest for life which was urging me to get out there and explore.
I began to wonder about all the other people, in little towns and big cities trying to get well in their own corner of the world. Surely, despite popular belief, all the alcoholics couldn’t really live in Ireland could they? What does it mean to be an addict, alcoholic, food addict etc., in other parts of the world? Did the same stigma and difficulty exist for recovering people right across the globe? What better place to have these questions answered than the internet.
Indeed our recovered forefathers predicted that technology would play a major role in the future of recovering people. The founder of AA, Bll W. himself said in an article for the Grapevine in November 1960 “Nothing matters more to AA’s future welfare than the manner in which we use the colossus of modern communication. Used unselfishly and well, it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.” And now with a 12 step program for every conceivable addiction, unbeknownst to Bill, this would also apply those programs.
In my endeavor to expand my own recovery consciousness I came across, what I imagine, would most definitely surpass anything Bill could imagine. I found many online groups encompassing all kinds of recovery communities but I have yet to find something more mind blowing than the community of recovering people on the website, InTheRooms.com. This is, for want of a better description, facebook for recovering people. The brainchild of Ron Tannebaum and Kenny Pomerance this online community now exceeds 400,000 members from every corner of the planet. Right there in my living room I was able to access recovery on a whole other level. To say it has had an immensely positive impact on me is quite an understatement.
All the questions I had about people in other countries regarding recovery were very quickly answered. Yes we all go through exactly the same difficulties and no, all the alcoholics do not live in Ireland. So what’s so special about this online community you may ask. Isn’t there endless communities of people on the web connecting and conversing all day everyday? Yes there is, but for me as a recovering person this place is unique because, not only does it allow people who normally hide their illness come together in relative safety, but it also encourages in a major way, their collective wellness.
I’ve been a member of InTheRooms.com now for about five years. What I witness everyday on there is nothing short of a miracle. A spiritual colossus with real people sharing their experience, strength and hope in a very real and non pretentious way. When I discovered that In The Rooms provides a platform for online video meetings I was a little skeptical and didn’t quite know what to expect. I thought it would just be another online meeting where people log in and type to participate in the meetings. Of course these chat meetings are very beneficial for a lot of people. But when you can log on and see real people, in real time, and have the programs of AA, NA, OA, ACA, SLAA, GA, Alanon and Dr Jamie Marich, Author and Trauma Specialist hosting Trauma & The 12 Steps meetings, streamed live into your home and participate with others on the same path as you, it brings healing and wellness in a very profound way.
Many who read this will be concerned about their anonymity should they choose to take part in the video meetings. From my experience, many people stay very much anonymous and still get involved by never using their full name or showing their faces on camera. It is very easy to uphold the traditions of 12 step programs if you wish. You can also just be present in the audience and listen and nobody will disturb you. It’s just the most amazing, forward thinking tool that can be used by each individual in their own way. There are other meetings also available which are not 12 step based. There are live guided meditation practices, Tommy Rosens 2.0 recovery, Robert Weiss LCSW, CSAT-S talking about sex and love addiction, Kyczy Hawks Yoga Recovery, Women In Recovery, Veterens In Recovery and a host of other amazing guest speakers.
In a world generally ruled by fear and prejudice this gem of a website opens up the world to me in the most profound and unexpected ways. It not only encourages global addiction recovery but also helps breakdown assumptions we may have about other nations and cultures. It’s like taking a little trip around the world everyday, which is pretty awesome for those of us who don’t get to travel. On average there are 70 plus people in any one meeting. One of the most profound aspects for me, is that we ALL have the same concerns, problems, hopes and dreams and unite as human beings no matter where we are from. We are all one, and accents, religious beliefs, social backgrounds and any labels we may define ourselves with, are just smoke screens blocking us from truth and what is really important in this world.
For me a connection like this is a huge part of my recovery. Active addiction promotes fear and global healing promotes freedom. I am not just recovering from a physical addiction, but also from the perception of the world that addiction forced upon me. I have friends, real friends, I speak to everyday on InTheRooms.com from all over the world and it’s the real time video meetings that have promoted a feeling of safety to connect with them. I’ve even had the privilege of travelling to meet some of them. So how cool is it to know that the internet is not full of evil and danger? Right here there is a little part of it that is promoting love, recovery, tolerance and truth. Pretty cool I think!