Definition of collateral damage: injury inflicted on something other than an intended target specifically: civilian casualties of a military operation

As we all remember all too well in March of 2020 the world got turned upside down as the COVID-19 virus spread its deadly tentacles into every corner of the world. Life as we knew it stopped and, in some cases, ended. 750,000+ American lives later we are finally coming up for air, piece by piece.

A quote from the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Big Book page 86.

The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others. Hearts are broken. Sweet relationships are dead. Affections have been uprooted. Selfish and inconsiderate habits have kept the home in turmoil. We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough. He is like the farmer who came up out of his cyclone cellar to find his home ruined. To his wife, he remarked, “Don’t see anything the matter here, Ma. Ain’t it grand the wind stopped blowin’?”

For many this virus has been like having an active addict in your home, and now that is seems to be somewhat subsiding [fingers crossed] we get to come out of the cyclone cellar to look at the wreckage. Not just the 750,000+ lives or even the economy but the smaller less visible one’s.

Seattle is/was a great recovery city. Before the plaque we had 1,700 AA meetings a week. That’s an unbelievable number.

If someone would ever say they couldn’t find a AA meeting its because they didn’t want to.

Since I moved here in 1997, I’ve been fortunate to always find great AA meetings usually connected to where I lived or where I worked. I true blessing. Since 2005 my home group was the Phoenix Club on the northside of town. The Phoenix Club had 30 meetings a week. Its last location was at 152nd and Aurora. The lasting joke was that within one block of the AA club in either direction anyone could find, drugs [Legal Pot shop was in the parking lot], gambling casinos, the sex industry, alcohol, and every other known vice. Not to mention the street crime. One would literally have to walk a gauntlet just to make in the room.

The Phoenix Club started in 1986 on Thanksgiving with an all-day Alca-thon [meetings every hour all day long] and a turkey dinner. A tradition that continued until COVID-19. That AA club saved countless men and women’s lives, fed the homeless a least a few times a year and was a beacon of light, and like all AA Halls all that was for a dollar a day [if you had it]. It ended with COVID-19.

As the lock down took root the meetings did a re-org and went to zoom. Making the best of a bad situation these zoom meetings were for some the only link to connection and recovery. As time went on some folks didn’t make it. The isolation became overwhelming, they relapsed. Some even died.

At the same time down south, the Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) community was also shutting down. The main SLAA meeting said to be the largest continually running non speakers meeting in the country was in the University of Washington district on Thursday night. On any given Thursday night this meeting would attract up to 75 people and would break up into three rooms. Real strength in numbers for such a shame producing illness.

SLAA is/was very strong in Seattle, but I say that with a * since there were pre- COVID-19 thirty-five meetings weekly, a far cry from 1,700 for AA. As in AA the meetings went zoom, and yes people relapsed, and yes people went away.

To my chagrin both meetings are now gone forever. The Phoenix club was forced to lose its lease. Without meetings there was no basket to be pasted around. That’s thirty people thirty times a week. The executive board is still hopeful to find a new home, but the timing must be just right. As the world comes back to life a report just came out this week stating the rise in drug overdosing to an all time high. Over 100,000 deaths in 2020 alone. That’s more than guns and cars combined. Tragic and preventable. I miss my safe haven.

The SLAA church also did a space utilization and mission re-org during the pandemic and as a result that venue is no longer available. In addition to the Thursday night meeting there was also a Saturday night meeting there that also turned into an area wide monthly speakers’ meeting open to anyone. Those speakers brought their experience, strength and hope to people who are still sick and suffering. Some of the speakers’ meetings drew over 100 people. Their leadership group is now looking for a new venue. Those two SLAA meetings have been operational in that church since 1995. A lot of lives were saved in that church and I’m not talking about on Sundays. Dignity of self, marriages and families repaired while taking sex and love addiction out of the shadows and into the light!

The world will reconfigure eventually. A new norm will be established and sanctuaries for wellness will be found and put to good use. The potential for the miracle of recovery springs eternal. Humans like all living things twist and contort towards the light. I have faith that a new dawn is coming.

If you’re struggling with an active addiction or the despair of isolation is closing in on you be comforted that you are not alone. Reach out and remember don’t leave before the miracle.