by Tom B (London, England)
It is 8 o’clock on a January morning and the sky is still dark. Outside, the rush of the day has begun. Cars and buses whiz by, the morning talk shows are in full gear. Children arrive at school. The sky is still dark. The perpetual dampness, which keeps our grass green year-round, covers the tiled walkways. A light snow falls but doesn’t stick — for this is London. The buses are double-deckers, and though we have a mild winter climate, due to the Gulf Stream, (Thank you North America!), our winters are dark and dreary; we lie at a latitude closer to Newfoundland than to New York.
More importantly than the weather, however, is the fact that nearly all my historical connections to recovery are in another continent and time zone. By the time MY sponsor (and sponsee) in New York have had their first cup of coffee, it is afternoon. I was lucky to come into programme whilst living in New York City. I had access to meetings everyday. Fellowship, sponsorship, and all the tools of SCA were available to me. Yet I had no idea how lucky I was. Coming back to my original home was a product of my sobriety, but, surprisingly, London, a city of 6 million people, has only one SCA meeting per week and just a few members.
So, I have learnt to keep connected using one of the most important tools in my recovery: the Internet. That, combined with the telephone has become an integral part of my sobriety. Instead of my check-in calls to my sponsor, I now send e-mail. We are still trying to iron out a suitable combination of phone and Internet contact. But generally, a weekly call combined with more frequent emailing does the trick. Since I have already been through the formal step-work with my sponsor, this arrangement works well.
My sponsee and I, however, have much more of a dilemma. He and I are trying to get through his fourth step transatlantic style. It is not easy and we are still working it through. We discussed using a simultaneous chat program, but that presents too many logistical difficulties, mainly having to type at breakneck speed. Once again, e-mail can help us. We have learned to do the main step-work on the phone, something we had already started when I was still in the USA. (My sponsee lives in a rural area, far from NYC.) But now with the time-zone difference, it seems an e-mail list of fears, resentments, etc before our phone call helps prepare us and focus our calls. It also gives us a chance to catch up, bond, and enjoy some fellowship without worrying about the minutes.
Now that I don’t have daily fellowship through meetings and frequent programme calls, I have also grown to rely more heavily on the SCA Internet tools. Firstly, I tend to go to the SCA website more frequently, just to read. Sometimes I look at the meeting lists, (USA and International) just to remind myself that we are a global fellowship and that I am not alone. More importantly, I read the postings on the SCA Yahoo Groups site [Ed. note: this is the E-group mentioned in Tra’s article], nearly every day. I know that I can get a meeting-between-a-meeting by going there, and that the time difference doesn’t count. If I’m struggling, feeling slippery, or just feeling isolated, I will post, knowing that I will be heard.
I am trying to sort my schedule so that I am able to get to an online chat-style meeting once a week. There are many of us around the world in need of online fellowship, and having morning, afternoon, and evening meetings gives all of us in various time zones the opportunity to connect. And connecting, keeping us from our isolation, is the greatest benefit the Internet offers us.
The Internet, however, is not just a tool I use to do SCA work. It is also a form of Third Column, life-affirming celebration. I love to listen to certain National Public Radio shows, as well as Radio Classique in France. Because of the Internet, I am now able to give myself those special times as gifts, time to enjoy being with myself and to nurture myself with things I like. And I feel like it’s something special because it comes from a far off land.
In sum, the Internet has become one of my most important life-tools. It has narrowed the distance, geographically, spiritually, and emotionally for me. Time zones and oceans are bridged with a screen and keyboard. My recovery continues, one keystroke at a time!