I live in between two very different fellowships of Narcotics Anonymous. I have gone north and south to be a part of and be of service to in many various ways. It is weird that they are less than an hour apart but never manage to ‘work together’ for the common good. In 2019 I found myself between fellowships again. Our service efforts in the south had declined to a trickle and died. My offer to go north and help with PR were met with a “You’ll have to let go of your judgements” which didn’t seem terribly spiritual and nothing I wanted to get involved with. My friend Jonas called a couple months later and shared that he no longer felt he could be a part of that local fellowship and he died of an overdose a week later. It seemed like good advice even though he died, and I wondered about my own choices. I sought guidance from a higher power and drew on the strengths of many new relationships with people around the world who were compassionate and inclusive. It felt very odd to be so alone, yet so connected and a part of.
COVID Arrives and The Rooms We Know Close.
In early 2020, the COVID 19 Pandemic descended on the planet. Many meetings closed where I lived. A few remained open but some members seemed to disregard the protocols that health officials were advising us to follow and I found the environment uncomfortable. I thought of joining some of the existing virtual meetings that had been established for years and riding out the storm. On the suggestion of my wife, I decided to start a ‘local’ virtual meeting with a friend with the hopes of providing support to the local fellowship. We eventually listed our group on Virtual-NA.org, established ourselves as self-supporting and talked about how the traditions applied to our new home. It felt like an NA Group. The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous states (All Versions);
Our First Tradition concerns unity and our common welfare. One of the most important things about our new way of life is being a part of a group of addicts seeking recovery. Our survival is directly related to the survival of the group and of the Fellowship. To maintain unity within Narcotics Anonymous it is imperative that the group remain stable, or else the entire Fellowship perishes and the individual dies.
It wasn’t until we came to Narcotics Anonymous that recovery became possible. This program can do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We became part of a group and found that we could recover. We learned that those who did not continue to be an active part of the Fellowship faced a rough road. The individual is precious to the group, and the group is precious to the individual. We never experienced the kind of attention and personal care that we found in the Program. We are accepted and loved for what we are, instead of “in spite” of what we are.
Our Fellowship Grows.
As our fellowship grew, we experienced all the things that we hear about in our literature. Each newcomer or visitor was treated like family coming home. We have grown and expanded our fellowship rapidly. The growth pains caused some struggles, but we developed policies to try and maintain the stability of the group. We met regularly at biweekly, then monthly business meetings to discuss and communicate with each other what was working and what was not working. Every decision we made seemed to strengthen the resolve of our group to continue. Many times, I needed to leave the meeting quickly to escape the overwhelming feelings of camaraderie and joy. Nothing had prepared me for this previously. Addicts both new and old came, joined and grew our fellowship.
Autonomous is Critical to our Success.
We have remained autonomous as some service bodies have not adapted to being accountable to virtual groups. Prior to the pandemic, service bodies were geographical in nature, but our group is diverse in all aspects, including geography. There is discussion about what purpose a service body could provide for us. We have created literature and when we change any of our policies or procedures, we discuss what it means to the group. Stability does seem to benefit our recovery as we are growing. For some members, this may be the only fellowship they need.
Virtual-NA.org has grown from 300+ meetings weekly to over 2500+ weekly since we listed our group. Because we are no more or less than other Fellowships of NA, we list and encourage anyone to participate in other groups by visiting virtual-na.org. We also try to share the experiences of members who are local to a particular geographical area with anyone new. Virtual meetings might not be for everyone, so when possible, we provide links to local websites which list ‘brick and mortar’ meetings.
Our Primary Purpose.
Our group is heavy with newcomers in their first year of recovery. Some joined and started with the group. They have never experienced any other fellowship than the one we provide as a group. During the worst moments of the last year, we have been together for each other including relapse and death. We have also been together for the greatest moments as members approach milestones in their recoveries. I may never return to a local brick and mortar meeting. My support and contacts are on a global scale, with opportunities to serve. Most importantly, there are opportunities on a regular basis to grow our fellowship by welcoming newcomers, which benefits our group, other groups and NA, as a whole.