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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chipping away...

I believe that if you want something you must work for it. Good things seldom come overnight without blood, sweat and tears being shed. Often, in the pursuit of reaching a goal, obstacle blocks are placed in the middle of the path.

In my attempts to create the support group, OARS F&F Group, I’ve reached many obstacle blocks along the way. At first it was a trial and error sort of thing. I started the open page on Facebook as Immortal Alcoholic. After the open page started getting some momentum, I began receiving e-mails that more privacy was needed and that gave birth to OARS Family and Friends group on Facebook. But there were still more concerns with the unpredictability of the Facebook format.

Today, people who find themselves involved in the life of an alcoholic can find support on the independent site, OARSFFGroup.ning.com. This is an independent site which can only be joined via invitation. Although joining is easy since the invitation link is published in many places, the posted content is monitored for signs of disrespect, judgment and criticism — which are just not tolerated.

You might be surprised what you see if you visit the site. If you don’t have any experience with an alcoholic, you might even be shocked. There are videos, pictures, poems, songs, and links nestled in with the posts that support whoever is in need of a virtual hug. As we went along creating this site and watching it grow, I realized that we needed more. Virtual hugs and understanding was just not enough.

One member was facing an especially critical event and was alone. Her alcoholic father was dying in the hospital. She had no family to hold her hand. No friend offering encouragement. No person to talk to who could relate to her dilemma. If she had not been so geographically far away, I would have run to her and provided a shoulder to cry on, an objective listener when medical jargon was provided, and someone to sit by the hospital bed so she could take a much needed nap. But I could not be there and she was alone. Oh, she posted on OARS every step of the way. The entire group reached out and provided words of encouragement which helped her immensely -- yet – she was alone.

My goal has always been to take OARS to the next level by creating LIVE meeting which would provide an opportunity for members to network and form one-on-one relationships. The meetings would be informational with speakers relating to whatever topic was on the agenda. There would also be an element of fun. As a person involved with an alcoholic, laughter doesn’t always come easy and even something as simple as reading the newspaper, requires planning.

My obstacle block for having live meetings was a very common issue – MONEY. An event such as the one I wanted would require funding and I was barely making my website cost commitment through donations on my GoFundMe.com site. (http://www.gofundme.com/17t82w)  Someone referred me to an organization called Pollination Nation which offers grants to individuals who want to make positive changes in the world. I thought it couldn’t hurt to apply; after all, I had heard the word “no” before and was still alive. What was the worst thing that could happen??

I submitted my paperwork and within a very short time I received the e-mail telling me I had been approved for a grant! (www.thepollinationproject.org/grants-awarded-page/may-2013/) I could hear a large corner of that obstacle block as it cracked and fell out of my path. It isn’t a large amount of money – just enough to organize a meetings (possibly two) and that’s about all. BUT, it is a start and maybe a start is all I need to build OARS Live into what I dream it could be. Maybe I can help a few people connect, and those few will connect with some other people, and the next thing you know – we have hundreds or even thousands – of people connecting everywhere.

Imagine if you were that woman with her husband in the hospital and someone was right by your side. Can you envision how different it might feel if there were a person to just go get you a cup of coffee? Imagine, if you can, how it might feel to not be “alone” during a crisis.

The first ever OARS goes LIVE meeting / workshop will be held at the end of June on The Outer Banks of North Carolina. The topic will be “Survive and Thrive”. Guest speakers will include an addiction therapist and a career counselor. There will be a light lunch and many opportunities for networking. Tentatively the fun element will be a lot of laughter lead by a Laughter Yoga coach. The goal of this first meeting is to provide information, entertainment and, most importantly, lots of connecting. Each person in attendance should leave the event with the names of three other people with whom they feel they can relate.

The monthly meetings will each have a different topic with different speakers relating to the topic. If I have enough money in the budget, I hope to video the event (while trying to not expose the participants) and put it out on a webcast. But, I’ll have to wait and see.

Corners of the obstacle block are falling off and I can see that if I just keep chipping… the block will disappear. 

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