Sep 15: Taking the program and fellowship of AA wherever we go

Taking the program and fellowship of AA wherever we go

I am currently on a much-needed holiday in Greece. I come here every year and every year before I depart for my hols I check online to see if there is an AA meeting or a loner on the island (where two or more are gathered it’s a meeting!) Last year when I visited there was a woman I met with and we had a meeting. Unfortunately, there is no meeting or loners presently on this island. I don’t know if they moved away or didn’t stay sober but I have put in the action to maintain a lifeline to my program and the fellowship. Thank God for technology today as I can keep in touch with people via apps on my phone as well as email and Skype on my computer. Where there is Wi-Fi there is a way to AA.

I have been sober since ‘87 and I have traveled or lived abroad most of my sober life. I was only 3 years sober when I moved to a small town in the South of France to study at university for a year. I remember writing NY central office 6 months before I departed and requesting an international guide for meetings in Europe. [Back then they used to publish this international meeting guide about every 2 years, of course, this is way before the internet]

When I arrived in this small town in France I looked up the address listed in the book as the only English AA meeting. I found the address and knocked on the door and in my broken French asked for the man listed in the book. They told me he moved back to the US a year ago. I thought what do I do now??

I did find the one AA French meeting in this small town and showed up. It was a small meeting of about 4-5 people and I must have really wanted to stay sober as I stayed throughout the entire meeting which lasted about 2+ hours (bless them but they were truly French – they loved to talk, smoke, talk and drink coffee and talk J). I was 21 years old and I sat in this very smoky room in the back of a church with these older French people who were complete strangers to me. I ended up enduring (that’s what I felt at the time) incredibly fast-talking French who all smoked about 4 packs of Gauloise (unfiltered cigarettes) in one meeting alone.

Thankfully a few months later I did eventually find some English AA meetings in the Cote d’Azur and would take a 3-hour bus ride to Nice to get to some English AA once in a while. I met some really amazing people who took in this young, naïve college student (that was me back in the late 80s) who kindly offered me the hand of AA. I remember going to one meeting in Monaco and the secretary gave me a brown paper bag full of English AA speaker cassette tapes to take back with me.

I can look back now and see that by taking small actions I kept my AA lifeline which helped keep me sober one day at a time. Towards the end of my year studying abroad in France, I managed to speak fluent french because of those french AA meetings I attended. It now seems like a (very) long time ago but I remember as clear as a bell feeling so sad saying goodbye to those lovely French AA folks who were so patient and kind with me and my broken French months before. I learned a lot from that early living abroad experience – mostly that I needed to put in some footwork and try my best to reach out to stay connected to other AA’ers.

I love GROW because it’s another tool in my recovery toolbox to stay connected to the program– if I’m working a lot or traveling (like I am this week) I can stay connected by reading shares, emailing or phoning people.

Over the years I have accumulated so many stories and ‘coincidences’ when traveling through remote places in my search to find an AA loner or a meeting. I would always end up meeting the most amazing people!

If I can’t get to meetings because they don’t exist or are not there anymore I know I can listen to AA speakers online or participate in a Skype meeting or read literature online. Yes, it’s not the same as f2f meetings but better than nothing if I have nothing. I also keep the Big Book, 12 & 12 and other AA literature on my Kindle app for my phone and computer.

I love AA and I am truly blessed to have met so many wonderful AA’ers around the world through meetings and AA encounters. London has been my home for the last 19 years. I am grateful we are all connected through this amazing fellowship with our primary purpose to stay sober and help other alcoholics. No matter where you are in the world today thank you for helping me stay sober ODAT J

Would love to hear your experience about traveling, living remotely, or living abroad and how you stay connected to AA and the fellowship.

Thank you for letting me be of service today