Loving the sacred through word and image. Iona Chapel – Iona… Just another WordPress.com Blog


Thursday … Acceptance

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It was a clear and sunny day today, albeit, a little chilly. I opted for my coat instead of a simple hoodie. It was also a busy day today. I am investing heavily in the lives of my guys this week, with tickets to the roundup and one of my guys is just days away from his second anniversary.

Two is a Big deal, and comes with a special silver oval chip. The new “two” ovals are a bit more flashy than the one I have. Mine is now gold dipped. The hope is this, that once you get your two, you hold onto it, and hopefully you get to your ten year mark, when at that time, we get it dipped in gold to mark the double digit.

Since he is celebrating at several meetings, I have a second bronze chip which was much cheaper than the first one. And his chip at the M.A. fellowship. That makes three.

It was a quick ride out to the East end on the Metro and back. Traffic was light because I was traveling mid-afternoon. I got back in time to get in a power nap before the nights events began.

Holy week celebrations are in full swing. While I was setting up, the annual Maundy Thursday mass was going on in the church above.

We sat a small group, some of our guys were at church, and we hosted a few guests, which was good. I chose a reading from the Big Book, Pages 416-417.

Acceptance was the Answer …

This is a loaded reading, there is a lot to chew in the reading like, “Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems. And Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

We learn about powerlessness, and that the only thing that we can change is ourselves.

“When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

It goes on to tell us that we must accept life on life’s terms.

All these ideas – even to some old timers – are bitter pills to swallow. We are still talking about accepting that nothing is a mistake and happened for a reason…

Our guys are in it deep. and all we can do is listen and offer words of encouragement and support. Hopefully they will keep coming back.

We locked up and walked home together, and another of my guys and I took a table at a local coffee shop to go over his step work. We are working from both the M.A. workbook and the A.A. questions my sponsor supplies.

It was a great discussion. Very fruitful. I am proud of my guy tonight.

I am proud of both of them. Good things are happening in their lives. And getting good things clean and sober are added gifts.

It was a great night.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … After the Honeymoon

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Mother nature is giving us the piss …

In the last 48 hours, we have gone from (Plus 24c) sunny and spring like, to today, it rained, and rained, THEN it snowed, and we are sitting at (-2c) at this hour.

It rained all day and I carried my umbrella, not sure of where we would be by nightfall, from the time I left home, until we hit the Metro on the way home it was snowing pellets and then wet flakes. Right now, it is calm outside …

UGH !!!

It was a busy day today, lots of shopping and taking care of chores during the day, it seemed that a lot of folks decided to do laundry all at the same time, thankfully I snuk myself in between and was in and out in 90 minutes.

No power nap today, Booo !

I left early to get some food on the way out and I needed tickets and do some shopping at the pharmacy, and hit the trains. I got all the way across before the tones of death sounded. I was on the escalator and the trains were stopped.

It was a nice evening. All of our folks showed up and a couple more. I was in the chair due to the Passover holiday for one of our members.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “After the Honeymoon.”

Sometimes – for some people, when we come in and the months that follow, we might be graced with a “pink cloud” or the “honeymoon phase.” That feeling of euphoria of being clean and sober, and everything seems bright and happy.

Phases like these don’t usually last very long, a few months or so. Because eventually the world comes along and slaps us upside the head with a dose of reality. Not that we weren’t in reality to begin with, but for a time we are apart from that reality.

What do we do when the honeymoon ends?

This is an eternal question. Because married folks know what their honeymoon was like and how long it lasted, and when it ended. Really, over many areas of life, we might experience a “honeymoon” when starting something new.

I can’t say that I went through a pink cloud or a honeymoon coming back the second time. When I came back, I spent the better part of a month beating myself up and feeling sorry for myself. It was no picnic.

When I got here, I got hooked up with aftercare counselors and things to do during the day. I was hitting meetings around the clock for the first year.

I guess the closest you could say I had a honeymoon, was David.

He took me on as a sponsee. And we did everything together. Every day it seemed. We were attached at the hip. We got Very Close. Almost too close. He had a girlfriend, and I was single. And on several occasions, we were close.

I loved him, and he knew that.

But that honeymoon ended on my first anniversary, when he invited friends from the West Island to revel in his achievement of keeping me sober for a year.

(Read: He had an ego attack) and words were spoken, that ended our relationship.

I’ve seen him twice in the last twelve years, and he ignored me like I did not exist.

Life went on …

I homed. I got active. I set and Stayed. I did whatever I was told to do.

I relied on my meetings, because sobriety came first. Everything else came second.

I try to teach my guys this truth, and so far they have worked it our for themselves. However, some guys I work with cannot seem to get into the groove and put sobriety first. It is hard to watch them struggle, and have the answer, but be unable to get that answer across where it nests in their brains.

The good thing is that they keep coming back, however fucked up they are, they come back to the source, so for 90 minutes we get to see them and spend time with them in a closed environment.

I get that sacred space notion. I know for sure, that several times a week, there is someplace I can/will go to see my fellows and friends. Where I can talk and I can listen, and hopefully be able to take something away to put into practice in my life in some way. And I have done that for almost thirteen years.

And it works for me.

Life has thrown several curve balls at me and hubby over the years. Life has not been a cakewalk. We’ve had ups and downs, like any other human being. And we remain a couple, married, happy. All that shit that life threw at us was dealt with, with the rooms, the discussions in them and the people who took care of us over the years.

I’ve built my life around my meetings. It is a very simple principle. I know it works. I use it every day. It is something I learned to do in every case.


If you do this, life will ease up. If you give yourself time, space, belief, and surrender to this very simple program and the people in it, if you can, for 24 hours at a time, trust us, and learn to trust yourself again, you too can live this life.

Sadly, most people can’t surrender fully, or even partially. The human will to hold on with a vise grip, is a way of life that can be un-learnt. White knuckling it every day gets hard after while. Running on self will is tough.

Our guys are working their damnedest to live spiritual principles. And in the space of 90 minutes tonight, we had some serious discussion. All learning from one another. So we did what we came to do.

Everybody is sober another night.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … I’m On a Maintenance Program

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Thunder and lightening is rolling over the city right now. At least the rain waited for us to get home. It was a chilly night, windy and dark. It was grey when I arrived at the church, rain was coming, it was just when that mattered.

I left a few minutes early so that I would have some time to sit and read before folks started turning up. Folks are busy with final papers and exams, and my coffee mate did not show, so I set up alone. Which isn’t a bad thing.

We sat a good crowd. A few visitors from out of town, as one of my guys said later on that tonight was not all that exciting, citing our high profile guests last week. All in a days work, I guess.

We read from the Big Book. “Flooded with Feeling.” This story’s central message was the writers coming in and eventual Third Step. A good number of our folks are not at that point yet.

It was what came after the meeting that matters.

One of my guys came to the meeting, but did not share. And I asked him why after the meeting. It seemed he did not think he had something useful to say.

It is at these points that we should say something.

I have said that my guys are dually addicted. And we work out of both books.

There is a problem at one of the meetings, my guys are going to. The problem of mixed messages.

When I got sober, there were scores of folks who claimed to be sober, come to a meeting, state their sobriety date, and speak to the effect that they were still drinking.

Then there are those who are alcoholic, come to a meeting and get sober, yet they go on what we call the marijuana maintenance plan.

Tonight, I heard the story about folks who go to M.A. who stop smoking, but openly admit that they are on a drink maintenance plan.

Clean and Sober means “clean and sober.” That we have stopped using any mind altering substances. Some folks did not get the memo.

One of my guys came away conflicted. Why bother going to meetings, if you are still using and/or drinking?

I pondered that thought for a bit before answering. One theory could be that if their initial addiction was pot and they have been successful at stopping, and they drink, AND the drink has not yet become a problem, (but it might) the thought is that they are clean (albeit, partially).

When we go to a meeting, we invest in the people at that particular meeting. And we listen and we participate. Active listening means that if we hear something that we can speak experience to, then we do so after the meeting.

But at the end of the day, once we depart and arrive home, it is all about us, and whether we have used or drank today. Wasting time worrying about whether certain people are honest and truthful at the end of the day is a waste of time.

It is they who have/might have, a problem. And in time they might figure it out, or they might not. And it is not up to us to point a finger and point that out. People have to come to their own conclusions. Hit their own bottoms.

This is where strategic sharing comes to bear. Speaking from experience, strength and hope we can offer an opinion in open community and not stand up and point the finger directly. Allow them to come to or not. It isn’t about us.

I try to speak humility to my guys. No one is better than the other, and we can’t get on our soap box and shame folks. All we have is our experience at the end of the day. And if and when an opportunity comes up for us to share one on one we take it.

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Live and let Live comes to bear.

We are powerless over people, places and things.

And what people think of us is none of our business.

At the end of the day we do our tenth steps, and a gratitude list. Every day we speak to one another.

And remember but for the grace of God, you could be them.

Stuck in the vicious cycle of drugs and alcohol.

My guys are headed towards their steps. Which is a good thing.

It struck me a couple weeks ago that for months, I have been reciting my prayers. Speaking the words, and coming to believe in them. A great sponsor came into my life, who is on my side, supports me, and when we did my third step he got on his knees with me and we prayed together.

I knew that he was In It with me.

That is a very good thing.

A good night was had by all.

More to come. Stay tuned…

Two Pups and their Friend

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What happens when friends with similar loves get together for an afternoon of frivolity and scampering all over town? Naughty, Kinky, Fun time …

It is rare that we get to spend time together, and in real life, there isn’t real time to share intimate things with each other. Today was one of those days.

After hurried lunches and chores that had to be done first, we gathered at the hotel and set off for some adventure. The Old Port is still icebound. But the esplanade is free of snow and the grass was a nice shade of early spring green.

Our tour guide of the group explained all the intricacies of architecture from EXPO 67 and the sites situated around and in the Old Port complex. Many pictures were taken, but sadly, none of ourselves.

We did a fair amount of walking from one end of the Old Port to the other and then up to the Berri Metro and then on into the village. We had a short expensive coffee break on the way, after walking all that way.

I have to say that I make MUCH BETTER COFFEE … just saying !!! And it is cheaper too …

I am pleased to report that there are new shops in the village that I had not known of before. On the West end is a cute little leather/rubber shop with assorted bits and bobs. Toys, gear, clothing and all the stuff one would need for some good fun.

The shop keepers were very kind and pleasant. They chatted us up the entire time we were in their shop. It was nice to walk into a shop and be greeted and doted upon.

Ste. Catherine’s street is still traffic passable. And they have not decorated the path with the customary pink baubles hanging from the buildings across the path, that will come later on in June when they close the street off to traffic and it becomes pedestrian walking only, which will also lead into Pride.

We did go into the New and I think Improved PRIAPE shop.

The store was flipped upside down. The old employees are gone, opting for beefy, humpy men that look good in tight t-shirts. The music was pumping.

The fetish items (leather,neoprene,rubber) and all the assorted bits and bobs that go with them are now on the main floor. They have quite the collection of Oxball toys, they probably buy from them directly and repackage and sell at higher prices, or they get them from the U.S.

Where as in the old incarnation, a good amount of clothing was for sale in the main space. NOW, the clothing is gone. In/on the basement level, there is a wide assortment of underwear in many configurations. And some Nasty Pig gear, I was sad that they got rid of a good portion of that line, opting for more simple fare.

It looks like they streamlined the shop and are focusing on fetish sales up front, as the new floor plan speaks to. Canada has banned the sale of scents, and it is against the law to import them over the border or from Europe, so that sales point has all but dried up.

Canada bans a good deal of items from coming over the border. And when one orders from the U.S., shipping is extremely expensive, and is usually cost prohibitive.

We walked through to the West end of the village – it is quite sad. Mostly boarded up buildings and not so visually appealing as the West and Central district of the village.

We took the Metro back to the hotel and we shared our Tumblrs with each other, we listened to manga music, and assorted other musical selections.

Simply to get a few hours to share with good friends is priceless.

I could not ask for better friends. Who knows when the next time we will all be in the same place at the same time together again?

Love your friends, tell them so, appreciate them. Spend time with them when you can, because those times might be rare and far and few between.

A good day was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday – Panic Attack

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Courtesy: Shinybrat

The week quietly comes to an end. And the weather lately has been stellar. We hit double digits again. But it is still a bit cool. I had downgraded my coat for a hoodie, but tonight I was a bit chilled.

My days have been full of things to do. I find that doing the next right thing, over and over, in succession, takes up a lot of time, which leaves time to make phone calls (a little later than usual).

The end of the week means check in dates for coffee to discuss progress and make plans for the week to come. A daily written Tenth Step has proved to be very fruitful when working with my guys, so they can monitor their progress and can share with me thoughts and reflections as they happened.

We are gearing up for a run through Steps for both my guys. I learned today that there is indeed a step workbook for the M.A. book. The M.A. book covers the steps and gives explanation on each step, but it doesn’t tell you HOW to work the step. Everybody is glad that we will be working with two texts instead of one.

I have started my 4th Step timeline. After a couple of days worth of nightmares about it, I actually spoke to my aunt out West about dates and events that I had questions about. She mentioned the collection of photos that she had sent me some time ago to help jog my memory, I had not thought about them, so now I can use them.

We hit the meeting tonight a bit early, which was nice because it was so nice outside that we spent a good chunk of time sitting on the steps outside talking before the meeting.

We sat a good crowd. Lots of happy shiny people. Friday is always a good night to hob nob. The one night where most of our friends meet from all over the city.

We talked about “Living Serenely.” From A.B.S.I.

It was a good discussion. Towards the end of the meeting, I was sitting in my chair, and I happened to look down to the floor and noticed that my bag was missing. Not that it had something priceless in it, but I had a momentary panic attack like I had never had before.

When we arrived at the hall I walked in and put my bag down in a chair that I later did not sit in. I sat myself a few chairs down from where I started. And forgot about my bag, and then all of a sudden, towards the end of the meeting, I began to freak out while one of my friends was sharing. My heart started pounding and I began to sweat. I got up and looked around, in the bathroom, to the stairs outside. I couldn’t remember whether I carried the bag off the bus on the way there, or where I had put it. By now the chair noticed that something was wrong with me because I was freaking out, for some unknown reason.

I guess I am a little on edge …

In the end my bag was on that chair and we were reunited.

All’s well that ends well.

Tomorrow is our day out with my friends from out of town.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner …

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Courtesy: Alexander

It has been an interesting week. Today was the warmest day yet this season. When I left the house it was (16c). I downgraded my coat to a hoodie for the first time.

I have friends in far flung places. The internet has changed the way we meet people and form friendships. I have a small group of intimate friends. People I can call on at any time, if I need them. I have a circle of friends who share common interests. Some are here in Montreal, and some are in the U.S.

The other night I signed into Facebook, and one of my friends in the U.S. sent me a message. Which was totally out of character for him, we kept missing each other to chat live. So we traded a few more massages.

On Tuesday night, I get another message from a friend who lives here. He had asked me to meet him for dinner, which is, once again, out of character for him. Because it is always me who initiates a dinner date, not the other way around. I couldn’t make it Thursday (tonight) or Friday. So we planned to get dinner last night (Wednesday).

So I have two friends trying to get my attention at the same time, which was odd. They are in a certain social circle of common interest, but I failed to make the connection, if there was one.

I headed out to dinner last night thinking that something was wrong, and it would be made known to me over dinner. I arrived at Dundee’s and my local friend was waiting outside for me, and escorted me over to our table.

As we turned the corner, there was someone already sitting at the table. Waiting.

It turns out that a friend I have known for more than ten years online, came to Montreal to attend a conference. And they planned to surprise me with a dinner together. (color me surprised). It was a fantastic night. We are planning to get together on Saturday for a tour day around the city.

You never know what will happen when you invest time into people from afar. One day they might turn up on your doorstep to say thank you.

Today, as I said was a great day. Lots of sun, dog walkers and people out enjoying the weather. I arrived at the church and cranked out set up and returned to the church stoop to enjoy the evening.

We sat a good number. Both my sponsees were there. We are all working to help them manage life as term comes to an end over the next couple of weeks.

We read from the Big Book and pages 86-87.

“…upon rising we set forth the day, say our prayers and make our way into the day…” so forth and so on.

Everybody has their method of practicing the program. Some better than others, and some put forth No effort what so ever in working. And we saw again tonight what that kind of attitude towards sobriety does to someone, they DRINK again.

I can’t help a stubborn individual, and I have extended my hand and my phone, to no avail. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink …

Over the years, I have learned a few things. My Do Over has had its advantages.

In the beginning I did a ton of meetings. I found a home group, I stuck and stayed. And over the years, looking back, As life progressed, i was faced with certain issues and problems. I would come to my home group and other assorted meetings and I would share, listen and ask questions afterwards.

A lesson would come up. We would talk about it, we would study the book a bit. Then I would get time to settle into the new lesson, to digest it and THEN I would get a chance to practice that lesson in real time life.

So the cycle … Lesson, Reading, Sharing, Learning, Integration, then Application.

This has been the routine of my entire sober life this time around.

Last year, almost to the date, life began to turn on me. My relationship with my old sponsor was coming to an end. I was stagnant. I went to the Roundup last may and my sobriety was turned upside down.

I learned about how they worked it in New York. A HUGE departure from the way we do it here. I heard the lessons.

  • Work the Book, don’t only just read it and forget it.
  • If you have lots of time, can you recite the prayers? If not, you aren’t working hard enough.
  • Are you working with others?
  • Do you have a sponsor who is active in the book/steps/sponsorship?
  • What are you doing to augment your sobriety?

I knew then that my sobriety was stagnant and I needed to make a change. I decided to leave my home group of 11 years. I did that.

A fellow came to me and asked me to help him open a new meeting. We gathered a group of men and made it happen. And in three weeks that little meeting we started will celebrate its First Anniversary.

I studied the book, And I handed my life over to newcomers for a year. I found a new home group with young guys I could be present for and that work carried me to my anniversary last December.

I did not connect with a new sponsor until a couple of months ago. And by process of elimination, I asked a long time sober man at my new home group to sponsor me. We went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. To make sure I was serious.

He got me into the book. Not only reading it but actively working my steps. I had to call him every day for the first month. I did that. Last night I forgot to call him amid all the excitement. So I called him earlier today and apologized for not calling last night, and he replied that I was off the hook, that I didn’t have to call him any more because I completed the month requirement. “You’re finished” he said.

I replied … “what do you mean I am finished?” I want to call every day, I need that daily connection with you, I am not finished.

His reply … “good for you, I am glad you have chosen to keep this up.”

So I learned my prayers, I read/worked the book, and was active in several groups. I had been in a dry spell, (read: Not sponsoring anyone directly) And then God stepped up and offered me two guys to work with within days of each other.

That is a very good thing. Now that I learned about sober investment a bit harder, and I did that harder, I was ready to work with others intimately.

The cycle had repeated itself once again.

And we are a couple months away from another Roundup, with guests from New York once again, and now I get to carry my sponsees through that event. Which is too cool for words.

My sponsor and I are traveling to Vermont the beginning of May for an intensive weekend. And the round up is two weeks later. It has been a very good year.

Sobriety becomes how much you invest in it.

You need to order your life around your meetings, not your meetings around your life. I can’t stress that enough. Put your sobriety first, then life can happen. Find a home group, make it your own. GO to your home group every week, without fail.

Life will begin the change.

It was a great night. Everybody is sober another night, some not so much.

It is what you make it.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … It Works !!!

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It was a dreary night and today was a dreary day. It rained. Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella, but when I got out there, it was just spitting rain, so I carried for no reason ! UGH. The snow is beginning to disappear.

They have been tearing up Ste. Catherine’s street the past couple of days, and barricades are up and the system of bus stops up the block have been turned upside down. People loose their minds when they loose access to mass transit at a major hub, as this one is.

The Sports Bar/Resto on the corner is almost ready to reopen the entire restaurant. A long time ago, all the tenants on the strip were evicted, and all the walls knocked down to expand the resto. The small (initial) space was open while they built the new space. They then opened the new space and closed the old space to renovate. They worked on the upper floors and are now bricking up the walls above the resto, and when I walked by on my way home, the new (old) space has all the monitors up and chairs and tables. The build is complete.

With summer coming, and the entire resto open, with a tiki bar in the back, which is open, and during the summer he opens a patio out front, which takes up an entire lane of traffic about 500 feet long, they will be bringing in Big Bucks this season.

The Great Big News that came today was that tickets for the West Island Roundup are on sale, and one of my gal pals is picking me up three tickets for me and my sponsees. This is a “Must Attend Weekend” of the year. May 17 and 18. New York is coming to Montreal once again, last year’s event was earth shattering and changed my life, so bringing new guys to experience a taste of New York Sobriety will be a treat for them.

I left early to run some errands and arrived to a very quiet church. Quiet is good. I can take my time setting up and I get to spend time reading. I cherish amounts of time that I can sit and read during the day, because I don’t do that at home. Reading time usually occurs before bed.

I have arrived at my 4th Step with my sponsor. And it is quite an undertaking. To lead off the step is an exercise to plot feelings and emotions that “happened” from the day I was born until today. (so on the way home I picked up a diary to write in, so that I can carry it with me) when I meet with my sponsor. I have particular memories in my minds eye, but not necessarily a year to correspond.

So I have enlisted my aunt to help me peg a few dates so I can complete the work. The assignment is 15 to 30 minutes, every other day for as long as it takes. Which is a 46 year assignment. Add to that the regular question and answer form that will follow, and then the actual writing of a 4th step.

We sat a fair crowd. More than we had expected. AND several folks came, who came for the anniversary last week. So we gained a few guests. The chair read from the Daily Reflections from March 1st. (March is the third month, therefore all the entries cover Step 3).

The reading is simply, “It works … it really does.”

The passage talks about finding faith, and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can work for us, and that we learn to trust it. And how do we do that? Three things … Go to meetings, find a sponsor, work the steps.

Once again the word STAY came up.

Our newbies are getting used to rooting at a home group and making it their own. Meeting and learning to trust the room and the people in it. To devote time to reading, working and saying a few prayers here and there. All this is on a steep learning curve. It all takes time to change old habits, and learn new ones. Coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves has our best interest in mind. You might not see that on the outset, but if you can trust others, and see how their lives change, one day, your life will change as well.

Getting sober a second time had its advantages. I got a Do Over.

Lessons I learned the first time, that I forgot, when I went out, came to bear. Without the specter of death hanging over me, I was free to focus on myself unlike the first time. ( I was wrapped in a death shawl for years waiting to die) and I didn’t.

I hit a ton of meetings that first year. I rooted in One Meeting and I stayed.

I did whatever I was told to do without argument. The right people came into my life and I depended on the folks at my home group like my life depended on it and that served me well.

Over the years, staying in one place for a long time had its perks. I got to watch other people come in, sit down, stay for a season or two or three, and get sober. There is nothing more gratifying than watching God move in people’s lives. I knew who God was, and he had already moved heaven and earth to get me here, so that was a no brainer.

But at St. Leon’s, I have said before, God likes that room. I’ve seen the light come and rest. I’ve seen people come in lost and find Him. I learned a great deal about people as they came down those 12 steps into the hall. I studied it like science.

That’s when I came up with the Neon Sign Theory.

We all have one, hanging over our heads. And it tells the world things about us, but we might not see the sign for a while, but it is there. And if you stay in one place long enough, you will begin to see them yourself. People who come, and come again and again, over the years, that sign changes depending on our moods and feelings.

It was that light that I was searching for. And God did not disappoint.

So if you are new, stick around until the miracle occurs.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober another day.

More to come, stay tuned …




Sunday Sundries … A Beautiful Sunday

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Say it with me …. Ahhhh SPRING !!!

It has been a stellar weekend. Albeit, with a little rain. But we do need to jump start the melting of all that snow that was all over the place. Today was a great beautiful day. The sun shone, the birds were singing, and the church lawn has much less snow and ice than it had a couple of days ago.

There is a large area of grass just needing to dry out and green up.

I was flying solo tonight, as coffee girl texted me she would not be making it. I popped out chairs and the assorted things, and turned to a a book I had begun reading last night, but the real treat came at the end of the meeting, when one of my sponsees brought me the text for M.A. (Marijuana Anonymous) “Life with Hope” 12 Steps and 12 Traditions. Since my guys are cross addicted, and myself as well, I thought it prudent to read this book because I had not in the past.

When I stopped smoking, I had moved 1000 miles away from it and I never went back nor did I go looking for it. Alcohol was my main issue, so it was back through the rooms I traveled.

It is the 21st Century and a book written in 1935, for our young men and women, and including many adults we see coming through are not only alcoholics, they have other issues as well. And I am of the mind, where it applies, to be able to work with our guys in whatever medium they need help.

We sat a full house. And I am chairing this month. Funny that I did not notice what tonight’s story was before the meeting started. I looked at the page numbers to write in my book, but I didn’t read the caption.

TIGHTROPE — Trying to navigate separate worlds was a lonely charade that ended when this gay alcoholic finally landed in A.A.

One never knows how a gay story is going to impact a room full of people. Our group is diverse. We have a large L.G.B.T. contingent, and as the share went around the room, I realized that our numbers were more numerous than I had first thought.

They tell us, not to compare, but to identify.

There was plenty of identification across the board. And although we did not get all the way around the room, for the most part, it was a good discussion.

You never know who is going to show up at our humble meeting. Our folks are very welcoming and are humble and kind to any guest who comes.

We believe in the anonymity statement and Who you see here, What you hear here, When you leave here, let it stay here.

It is common and often that a celebrity comes to our meeting. Tonight was one such case. It was shock and awe.

In the end, we are all the same.

And our folks kept the room safe and anonymous.

Everybody is good, Everyone is sober another week. That is a good omen. There are a few who are on the bubble after further experimentation at a the bar. We are keeping a close eye on them. And for now, we are keeping them close.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…

Blockade … You Can’t go that Way !!!

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Courtesy: ShinyBrat

It has been raining for most of the day. Ever so slowly, the snow is melting and washing away. It wasn’t pouring rain, not enough for an umbrella, just slow meandering rain fall. I planned on carrying one, but by the time I remembered my umbrella I was too far to turn back and get it. So I went without it.

One of my sponsees hosted a leadership symposium this afternoon, and with a few hours to kill before the Friday main event, I attended. I haven’t stepped into a classroom in a long time, it was kind of like Deja Vu. A good number of students showed up along with some high powered speakers to address them.

It was a good event. The university is stepping up their care of students and offer them these events to point them in the right direction after graduation. Because many kids are graduating into a world that they will be very “over qualified,” for the job market.

It is a known fact that thousands of us who went to university, cannot find work in our chosen fields, and that we are over qualified for what IS on the market in the way of work.

After then event ended, I set off for the meeting on the other side of town. I hopped on the Green line to Berri and when I arrived at Berri and approached the Orange line connection, the platform was taped off and security and the police were on the platform and the “tones of death sounded” meaning there was a train stoppage. And said that the trains would not be back up for an hour.

Now, it was rush hour. And it has been a common problem that some shit goes down during rush hour and thousands of commuters get stuck in stations, not being able to complete their transit.

I went back down to the Green line and had in mind just to call it a day and go back home, but on the train I remembered that there was a plan B to get uptown. I rode back two stations to Place Des Arts and got off and found my way to the 80 bus going north. There wasn’t a huge rush for the bus and I was the last person allowed on the bus, it was packed.

Amid the rain, I arrived at the church ahead of schedule, and did some set up and talked to my sponsor and my other sponsee. We read from A.B.S.I. the reading spoke about Self Reliance, versus God Reliance around the story of the Wright Brothers and the Kitty Hawk first flight.

And yes the word God came up again. Whether you believe in Him or not, most are on their way to finding some power greater than themselves.

God has been the constant in my life. I am the variable.

Over my lifetime, God was always present, one way or another. And whenever I was “engaged” life went smoothly. But whenever I “disengaged” life went into the shitter.

I was very lucky that at the end of my second drinking spree that at one point, I “re-engaged.” Steps One, Two and Three were done before I ever set foot back in the rooms. I’ve said recently that my life timeline had to be divinely directed. I played no part in it, I just went with what ever was in front of me.

Yes, I made certain decisions.

I got here and engaged the rooms and the people in them. I relied on them just as much as I relied on God. I learned to find God in the people in the rooms. The rest they say is history.

There is a God, and I am not Him.

We heard the slogans. We heard Do the Next Right Thing. And we heard Hope.

Cake followed. A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…

Crossing that Invisible Line …

wine statement

Today the sun came out. It was a very pleasant day. The warmth is being received by the millions, grateful for it. Snow is melting and there is even grass peeking out between the swaths of ice and snow that is still piled up at the church. Along with the warmth comes rain … to start washing all the snow, salt and muck away.

And you know what comes after that, right? The BIG CLEAN.

As is usual at the end of winter, all the garbage, paper, cigarette butts, and all the shit that has been trapped in layers of ice and snow over the past six months will have to be cleaned up.

Today my new Passport was delivered. YAY for that.

I departed on time and arrived at the church about 6, with the bells ringing in the bell tower. The Angelus rings every night at 6. We sat a small group. We were missing a few guys, one of my sponsees was getting an award at school and the other was playing the piano for the event. But because I am the only key holder, I could not attend. Booo !!!

We read from the Big Book, There is a Solution, and pages 21 and 22.

Somewhere in there it mentions that “Invisible” line we all cross, when one is not enough, social drinking goes out the window, and we wind up with the obsession of “MORE.”

For some, they don’t even see the line. Or don’t know that it exists.

A particular visual came to mind as we read tonight.

My parents always encouraged us to drink at home. It was a food group in our home. Nobody ever mentioned alcoholism, even though it was right there in front of us, and nobody dared speak those words. God Forbid the neighbors found out that someone was an alcoholic.

They found out. They did know. Nothing was ever said. Not a word.

After work my parents would come home from work and dad would hit the liquor cabinet or the bar, and mom would pop a beer, and usually, work colleagues came with them to commiserate.

My mother worked in healthcare and hospitals. At one point she was working for a company that supplied medications and medical assistance to people who were sick and home bound and those who had just been released from hospital and needed a little extra T.L.C.

Some of those people were gay. Many of them sick with AIDS.

I am a teen ager now. I’ve begun to drink. I was NOT out of the closet yet. But I was well on my way. This story is the trigger that I vowed I would never come out to my parents, Ever …

My mother would come home and talk about those poor “Faggots” who were sick and how sickened she was that she had to enter their homes and give them meds and actually help them survive, when she thought that they should be dead. That happened day in and day out for months, while she had that contract.

It was very sad and sickening.

Everybody would laugh.

I wasn’t laughing. At all.

My shrink, at some point, later on, was speaking about integration into the Gay Community. And the way that that was going to happen, was for me to go to a gay bar, and drink… And wait for the fireworks.

I drank at home, at parties. But this green light meant that I could drink without impunity to what end I wasn’t quite sure. I never drank one drink.

By the time I was of age, I had run through my beer days. Once I discovered the thrill of hard liquor, I never touched another beer again.

I remembered all those derogatory things my parents said about The Jews, The Niggers, The faggots … I was ashamed …

Growing up I had a friend from South East Asia, we were friends for a very long time, AND he would show up later on in sobriety the second time, (he was always not that far away), but I digress.

He had dark skin. But he was not black.

My father decided from the first day he met that boy that he would never allow a dark skin boy to cross our threshold and enter our house, God forbid the neighbors saw a dark skinned boy, (who might have just crossed the tracks) enter a white house.

Hence the bigotry and racial sickness in my family.

I would later come out, far far away, and only when I was diagnosed did I ever speak about it to my family, to my detriment. I was an abomination.

So would you blame me if I began to drink that hatred away?

Anyways … where was I ?

From the get go, There was Never just ONE. One what? One Beer, One Drink? The would be preposterous. How do you just have one and that’s it?

Being a third generation alcoholic, that invisible line had been crossed. I am sure that the women in the family saw that line and watched their spouses walk up to it, look at it, then confidently walk across it, as if it did not exist.

Because any real alcoholic, would never admit they have a problem or admit that they themselves crossed that invisible line.

And that became my life. The rest they say is history.

I suffer from the obsession of More. In many other areas of my life, and it has taken me almost 13 years to learn that I don’t need MORE.

I am good with what I have. I don’t drink, well, I didn’t drink today, as my sponsor would remind me, so that’s a good thing.

All is well in my world.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Ending Self Criticism

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Courtesy: Minhos21

Today it was “Warm.” Warmer than it has been in as many days. This week will see single positive digits, and beginning next week, we will hit double positive digit temps.

I was out early to meet my sponsor at the church. And thankfully the trains were all running on time. I hit my appointment right on. Tonight we went over my Step Three homework and then said our prayer. Step four, I am told, or the “approach” to step four, is all about life, 46 years of it. Starting at the beginning and working my way up to the present, on an every other day schedule, looking at feelings and emotions that I experienced as early as I can peg them.

Today was a BIG day. Our little beginners meeting is Three Years Old.

You know what they say about meetings, right? All it takes is a resentment and a coffee pot and you too can open a meeting. And that is exactly how this meeting was started.

A long time ago, our Tuesday Beginners was a 2 meeting (meeting).

An early discussion and a later Speaker. But at one point, we could not populate the second meeting any more. So keeping it open was a waste. So we decided amongst the members to cut down to a single discussion meeting.

Some of our fellows, (read: not members of the group) wanted a set of keys to host the later meeting themselves in the same space. Out trusted servant nixed that idea right from the get go.

And a RESENTMENT was born.

Those fellows took their grievance away, bought a 100 cup coffee urn and then opened a Beginner’s Meeting right up against the Tuesday Beginners meeting at 6:30 p.m. Just up the road. As if thinking that they would pull all our guests away to populate their own meeting.

That did not happen. Tuesday Beginners was for a time, a handful of members, until the girls from W.O.W. came. (Women of Wisdom). That meeting has numbers in the 40 to 50 guest on a Tuesday Night.

Only one member (my sponsor) is the remaining original member who helped to open our meeting. A while back, a handful of original founders copped new resentments because of attitudes and assholes, and moved on. Where I was a member of T.B.’s for 12 years, I moved to Vendome last year, to work with the young guys who were there. It is all a full circle moment.

Our meeting, has since moved from its original location, further into N.D.G. We have lost a good portion of our young people. I am hoping that Spring will bring our numbers back up. It’s not like we are in a dead end portion of town. There is a Metro at the top of the hill and a Metro at the bottom of the hill, and a bus that runs between them. That bus stops at our doorstep, so getting there is not an issue. People need to decide to come to our meeting.

We have a handful of members today. We usually sit 10 to 15 on any given Tuesday, tonight we more than doubled our guest numbers because of the anniversary. We had food and drink. We have a newbie in the chair for the month of April.

It seems our Blue Sheet announcement did what it was supposed to do.

People actually came.

The chair read from a Daily Reflection Book that was not an approved piece of A.A. literature, but for another fellowship. Nobody said a word about that. So we just went with it. It would have been rude to say something when the room was full of guests.

The topic was Ending Self Criticism.

I spoke to the story that when I was still drinking, I was under that delusion that the drink was going to magically make me 1. Younger, 2. buffer, and 3. prettier, because I wanted into a social grouping that I was way out of league for.

The drink was not working, and I would tell myself that something was wrong and that I needed to step it up and to work harder. I was pointedly CRAZY !

I got to the last drink. And blessedly, some time after I got sober, the club I drank in shut it doors for good. Jokingly I said that “the last great drunk had left the building so they had to shut down.” It wasn’t funny at all.

What I must have looked like and who took care to get me home when I did not know how I got there myself.

I beat myself up for about a month. I felt sorry for myself, I was ashamed. I really did not see myself in good light. Thankfully, the fellows who took me in DID. And the first night I faced my friends who had been sober when I went out, and were still sober, when I came back was a bitter pill to swallow.

You know those pitying looks … “oh there he is, look at him!” For a while it was all about me. Which is a big part of the disease of alcoholism.

Or should we call it “Allaboutmeism.”

The more often I can point that light from myself to others is the key to stay out of “allaboutmeism.” The more I work with others, work my steps and work for the betterment of my fellows and my sponsees, the less I have to think about myself.

All this is outlined in the ninth step promises.

In total there are 182 promises in the Big Book.

It was a good night. People came and for that we are all grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Go Somewhere else, You Aren’t Welcome Here !

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It snowed last night. There is a lot of snow piled up all over the core. Many are hoping that this was the last round for the season. In the past we have had snow all the way into May. The temps will moderate and rise over the next few days, so I am not sure they will spare the expense to clean it up off the streets.

It was a quiet weekend.

I departed on time and when I got to the church, there was three feet of snow piled up in front of the church doors, covering the stoop and out into the walkway. The shovel was inside the door, and I had to get the door opened to get it, which took some serious pulling and shoving a door barricaded by snow. It took me a couple of passes to remove all the snow, which is piled up at least three feet on either side of the doors, where the bushes are covered with ice and snow.

It is the last Sunday of the month, and we sat a fair number which was good. Several of my friends whom I haven’t seen in a while came and that was a good sign. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Three …

“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

Many talked about finding similarity when they got here, and over time realized that they were not that different from their fellows. Secondly, the word God popped up in conversation. Step Three and Tradition Three kind of go hand in hand.

Every time we read this tradition I zone in one one specific passage from the reading:

“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and the unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely OUT. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics!

Emphasis added …

The first time I got sober, was in an LGBT room catering to gay sober folks. It was not a cake walk, as I have shared before that newcomers were regarded as race horses that should be bet on to see who would go back out and drink first.

I stayed sober, in spite of them, and on my first anniversary, I told the crowd to go fuck themselves. In my second year of sobriety, I moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami. I was still counting the days to my death date doctors had given me when I got sober. I was on the bubble, to say the least.

I got connected to a club room in South Miami, (The Coral Room). The room was open all day and hosted meetings all day and night. Around the second year of sobriety, someone asked me to speak at a speaker meeting. It would be the first time I had ever spoken at a meeting in sobriety.

The room was packed. At least more than a hundred were in the room. And I got up to the podium and began to speak. Getting around to my diagnosis and my living with AIDS came up and as I started this phase of my share, all the men got up and left the room and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking.

At the end of the meeting I went outside and one of the men stepped up and said to me

“We don’t support or condone people like you, so please go somewhere else to get sober!” Needless to say I was floored.

I remained at that room for another two years, but I went to other meetings where I felt some sense of belonging. I pulled back, I stopped reading the book, I did not have a sponsor AND I trusted no one. Which directly led to my slip.

I went out on my fourth anniversary. Following all the men who went out at the four year mark. When I came back, I was on the beach, and went to Sober on South Beach for my return. They welcomed me and did not judge me.

A few months later, I ended up here in Montreal. I was five months sober the second time, and I was hitting different meetings all over the city.

Here in Montreal there are invisible lines drawn between the different Burroughs, and sections of the city. For the most part, people who live in one section of town, never cross that boundary to go to other meetings in other parts of town.

So one night I was in the West End. And hit a Friday night meeting. I was new in town, Did not know anyone and I hit this particular meeting. At first they welcomed me and then drilled me with twenty questions. As we talked they got an idea of my situation and my status.

Once again I heard those words … “We don’t condone people like you, please go somewhere else to get sober, you aren’t welcome here!”

That is something you don’t really hear about. People being told that they are not welcome and to go somewhere else. Especially if a particular group follows the traditions.

I never went to that meeting again, and for many years I never went to NDG for a meeting for a long time. On my tenth anniversary I spoke at a West End meeting and I told this story. People were shocked but some were not. This only solidified for me the fact that there are sick people in the world, and I should stay away from them. I haven’t spoken at a meeting since that night.

Tonight we read Tradition Three, and I shared this story once again. Many of the old timers at the Sunday meeting have never heard me tell that story before. We are a welcoming meeting. There are several LGBT folks at the meeting.

The only requirement for membership is a desire to Stop Drinking.

One of my sponsees was sitting right next to me, he was moved.

This lesson runs deep, because we must treat everyone who comes in the door kindly, compassionately, and with care. If we judge and are careless with our words, they may leave and never come back again.

No matter who you are, what age you are, what orientation you are, man, woman, boy or girl, everyone is welcome at our meetings, well welcome at ALL the meetings I go to.

There are assholes here and there. Sick alcoholics who can’t see past their own prejudices. Sadly, that is part of the times.

We transcend those barriers in many meetings, and that is a good thing.

It was a good night. Jobs are taken for the month of April. Painless…

Everybody checked in, everyone is well and good to go.

More to come, stay tuned …

Friday … True Ambition

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Temps are going up. It actually rained tonight. A good sign that Spring is making a good attempt at driving winter away. But one more snowfall is in the cards for Saturday and Sunday. We will be well above the freezing mark over the next few days.

It was another one of those days, I had an idea for the evening, and I went and planned an evening with hubby, but when He got up from his nap he nixed my plans. UGH ! Return to regularly scheduled programming …

I departed amid a little rain, people were carrying umbrellas, but really, why? Have toque will travel. I made my transit in good time and arrived to half the room complete so I helped finish up, quietly and without words and needing none.

We filled the room, and everyone was there, pigeons included. Nice, I get to see them regularly which is a good thing.

We talked about ambition, true and false. We talked about fear, pride, humility and humiliation. Humility is NOT humiliation. When it comes to ambition, I think I have some. But in good measure in all the right ways I think. My friends and fellows keep me in check, in realizing what is really important and why my friends ARE my friends.

Our men are good men, every one of them, each in their own way. I learn something different from each of them on a weekly basis.

Who knew a year ago, that after the West Island Roundup that it would come to pass that God would grant me certain graces and place me in the right place at the right time. It is coming on a year that sobriety took a turn.

And in all that time, I learned from my friends, just what we do, and why? And for what reason. I am where I am and I am satisfied with that. I have been ambitious about sobriety, and endeavored to work with my guys and I have done that.

And now I get to work one on one with my guys who came into my immediate life from the universe, at just the right time.

It was a great night. We had three cakes. And three firsts, again.

I have been doing the Friday meeting for more than a year, And it has been a year that I have participated in the journeys of our celebrants tonight. We are all the better for their presences. Each of them brought lessons we all needed to learn.

I am not my father. And what I have today is representative of how my life, my sobriety and the gifts of the program have given me. I don’t have the cars, the children, the house with a yard, pool, and riding lawn mower.

Life did not pan out that way for me. Alcoholism took its ransom and the rest they say is history. It isn’t all about me, I am not the center of the universe. I have everything I need, and that is good for me.

I have the friends I need. They are all a blessing. They keep me humble.

It is one thing to have ambition. But quite another when you have people who keep one right sized, so ambition is metered, and not get out of hand.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Freedom

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It snowed today. Just a dusting. And they say it will snow more overnight, then changing to rain…Temps are going up. We will see a (10c) over the weekend. How I know Winter is over is when we get a full weeks worth of (10c’s). At that point we can turn off the heat and open the windows for the first time since last fall.

It was not a good night last night. I turned in early and early this morning I awoke with a migraine headache that was killing me. Then I ended up tossing everything in my stomach. You would have thought I drank too much and was praying to the porcelain God !!! Not very pretty …

I popped some Advil and went back to bed, with my head pounding. Eventually I got back to sleep and woke up a few hours later, none the worse.

All my fellows I entrusted with things to do came through today. I often give my friends things to do when I need something for a particular group, and it always seems to work. Never say No when another member asks for help.

I am learning that if I don’t step up, I might miss an opportunity. A friend I follow is expecting his first child very soon, and he says that one must act, and always work to bring something new into the world. You could be that change, that good thing, that good word, something like that.

And so it goes.

I learned tonight that the great “West Island Roundup” is once again going to be open the 17th and 18 of May in Dorval with speakers from NYC. It will be a good weekend to spend with my sponsees doing something together. Tickets are $30.00, another expense for the month of May. The second weekend of May we are going to Vermont for a retreat, at $120.00. May is going to be one expensive month. But monies worth spending for sobriety.

We sat almost the entire group and a guest tonight. Another successful business meeting was held. May 1st is our First Anniversary. It really has been a very fast year. And the group has only grown, which is always a good thing.

We talked about Freedom from Today’s Daily Reflections.

We all came to the rooms for one reason to another. And in turn we all have seemed to realize how freeing that decision was in our lives. And later, on in time, the grace that came from having a free choice to choose what we want to do with our lives, vis a vis Sobriety.

I could not have written the story that took place over the last thirteen years. God has been good. I am free. I do what needs to be done, on any given day, and I serve my fellows to the best of my ability.

You can’t get sober and keep your ego. Sadly, some forget that.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

Tuesday … Just a Phone call Away

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Courtesy: TapThatGuy – Central Park NYC

The weather is looking UP ! We dodged the bullet with that NorEaster that is headed to all points East and North. Thanks Be To God … It was a bright and sunny day and they tell us that warmer temps are coming soon. Let Us Pray …

Winter can’t come to an end sooner. People are fed up and tired of the long drag.

I was up early today with errands to run to the bank to cash coin for my meeting so that we could pay rent tonight. I had a stop to make on the way out which brought me up to the parish a little after 5.

We sat a good little group. Next week is our 3rd anniversary. I chaired for a friend and read from A.B.S.I. I put two topics on the table, Gratitude from today’s Daily Reflections and the second reading, which all played out well.

The meeting was a blur because I got a call prior to the meeting that took my attention away. I spoke about planting seeds and what has been going on in my life as of late.

It is something special to be book-ended with someone I am accountable to every day and the young men I get to work with because of grace. I did the right thing and put myself out there and God saw and was pleased.

My mind was elsewhere because I needed to meet a young man after the meeting and that was the only thing on my mind. So my sponsor rushed me to the Metro and I rolled off to meet him on campus.

You never know when the phone is going to ring, and who might be on the other end and what God will call you to do when the call comes. I am honored that our young men trust me and I get an opportunity to share with them.

You need a plan. And the courage to put that plan into action. And sometimes, when it happens, you need to be able to tell someone to go Fuck themselves.

The only way to see a plan work is to put it into action. And trust in the process one day at a time. I find that when I need words, I have them, and there is God.

We always get what we need on a need to have basis.

My young man needs our prayers.

What is the last sentence of the Serenity Prayer ?

Not my will, but Thy will be done … (Twelve and Twelve pg. 41)

More to come, stay tuned …

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