How to Overcome the Pandemic Blues. What do the principles of AA tell me?

Updated: Jan 12, 2021

Covid-19 is a world pandemic. In the rooms of AA, we have been hit especially hard by a forced isolation we can’t escape.

Meetings are the mainstay of our program. They provide a fellowship like no other. The meeting before the meeting and the meeting after the meeting amplify all the good things we share. As a group, sitting together, we share an indescribable spirituality that is beyond hugs, handshakes, and coffee.

For AA’s, our problem is being isolated from our fellows. Meetings are an essential part of our recovery. Left to myself, my thinking easily becomes distorted. For many, boredom and isolation are very real relapse triggers.

Online meetings are helpful. At my first Zoom meeting, I was overcome, when, for the first time in weeks, I saw the faces of my friends and heard their voices. I came away with a lighter heart, but it was not the same.

What can we do then, to the overcome this situation? The answers we’re looking for can be found in the spiritual principles of AA.

In AA, our task can be summed up in a few words: clean house, trust God, and help others. If our goal is sobriety, a life that is happy, joyous and free, then that’s how we’ll get there. Even in a pandemic.

Clean house. Before I can be of help to others, I’ve got to clean up my side of the street. What can I do to sweep despair and doubt form my door?

I hate discipline, but I know it set’s me free. Under lock-down, pajamas, snack food, and laziness seem to be my only friends. Wake up, Meadows! Set a regular schedule and stick to it. Eat as well as you can. Get enough sleep. One way or another, get out of the house every day; find a spot in Nature where you can chill. Don’t wallow in self-pity; make a gratitude list instead. Count your blessings, not your lacks.

The biggie, of course, is to deepen my spirituality. Sure, I’m missing out on some fun stuff, like parties, beach trips, and going shopping. But these are not necessary for my spiritual fitness. My sobriety is based on a daily reprieve and requires a daily dose of spirituality. This spirituality, they said, comes from going to meetings, and from prayer and meditation. In the absence of meetings, I can still maintain that spiritual fitness, but I have to remember where that fitness comes from. Regular prayer and meditation are absolutely essential now.

Help others. “Our very lives, as ex-problem drinkers, depend upon our constant thought of others and how we may help meet their needs.” Clear instructions, never more needed than now.

Deny my isolation. Don’t put any limits on my Higher Power, my recovery, or myself. I am trapped in any situation, only if I think I am.

Pick up the phone, call people you know. Call people you barely know. Just call. Share online if you can. Share your own pandemic experience. Listen to theirs. No matter how far down I have sunk into despair, there are others worse off than I am, and I can be of help. We need each other.

Trust God. I worked hard to find a Higher Power I could believe in. He lifted my spirits, showed me the way, and answered my prayers. He has not gone anywhere. I just have to remember to call on Him, and often.

Remember this, Meadows! Let go and let God. I must put my worries aside, remove my selfish wants and desires, and think more or others than myself. Look into the face of everyone I meet and smile, even if we’re both wearing masks. See the humanity in them; they are just as frightened as I am. Listen to what they’re saying. Get outside of myself and try to see the world from their point of view. Treat other people the way I want to be treated. Especially now.

Remember this as well. I no longer have to respond to the world reflexively. Today, I can take a step back and see the beauty around me, beauty that’s unaffected by any craziness in my world; beauty in the love that surrounds me, beauty in the faces of the children running screaming through the house, beauty of the summer flowers in bloom. We ceased fighting anything and everything. Take a deep breath. You’re going to be just fine.

“Overcoming substance abuse through the use of the spiritual principles behind 12-Step programs, to find long-term recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol and to live a sober life.”

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