It was a gloomy day out as I prepped to leave for the evening. And loathed to carry my umbrella, I wore a hoodie and had my tuque in my bag, just in case.
There have been discussions about my sharing my thoughts on death and the fact that my doctor is adamant that I am to drop dead soon. The consensus is that I should definitely get a second opinion – a new fresh set of eyes to look at my file and give me some constructive truth.
All of my labs are fine. There was no discussion of them directly or in passing. My HIV numbers are all nominal – like they have been for more than a year. Tomorrow I will call the clinic and make my request. And if they can accommodate me then I will take my business elsewhere. I am not going to sit here and ruminate over dying. That is the farthest thing from my heart and mind and I don’t appreciate someone taking that tack with me and give me no further information. based on his appraisal.
It rained …
I made my transit across the square with a stop at Pharmaprix both on the way out and on the way back. The mall is still in remodeling phase. Lots of empty space and walls up all over the main floor.
I noticed last night, that the Seville crane was being taken down. They completed that mission over the weekend. I guess that means no more heavy lifting for phase three any more. There are a few stacks of bricks on the property still waiting to be used. In the main large space underneath phase three is Adonis, a small chain grocery store. That should be a welcome change.
There are lots of plans going on for this end of town. We’ve not heard anything since the proposal to raze the Provigo and build a high rise building in its place, and move Provigo further up the block in the old Omer de Seres space, but there is a condo sign out front of that space, so it may not be taken up by Provigo unless they build up – out of the main building into a high rise condo.
We sat a modest number of folks. Die hard Sunday night attendees. We are at Chapter 8 – to Wives. When the book was published long ago, it was geared to men. Not many women were represented in the room just yet, but this chapter was written to the few who began women’s recovery in the rooms.
We read the first few pages of what the lay of the land was for the woman with an alcoholic in their lives, and just what happens to relationships and businesses and work lives.
And I wonder… What would have happened if this solution based answer to the problem of alcoholism was introduced to my family? Because back then, in the 40′s for my grandparents, the 50′s and 60′s for my parents, women married for better or for worse. They were in it good or bad. My mother’s sister was smart, she did not marry into the problem of alcoholism. She stayed clear of what she was witness to through the eyes of her siblings, family and friends.
I ran roughshod through my family life. Dad was a Jekyl and Hide drinker. And he could flip the switch on his personalities with ease. When it was good it was good, but when it was bad it was worse.
My parent’s were not solution oriented people. Alcoholism existed. Deal with it, but never speak of it or go to find a solution for it. What happens at home stays at home, no one need know about this blight on our family.
Thank God I am sober today. I am grateful for all good things.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
The weather has been up, and it has been down. It rained a little and I heard tonight, from some, that we had hail overnight. Go Figure. The temperature has dropped to freezing levels overnight, and I actually turned off the a/c and opted for Heat to sleep last night. I had to further retrofit my a/c dock because the wind was blowing so hard and cold that the apartment was chilled, and so I added a second layer of plastic around the enclosure, that seemed to have worked.
It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit cooler than usual, which meant a hoodie layer when out and about. We ventured out to Trinity Memorial for the meeting, but we took a new route. Instead of tracking all the way through the metro system we hopped on the 90 bus just up the block to Vendome. It was quicker and I would consider using this route instead of two metros and lots of time in between.
We sat a full compliment of folks, with varying amounts of time. The topic came from Living Sober and “Getting active.”
What do you do with yourself when you quit the drinking and the drugs? All that time you spent procuring them, arranging them, consuming them and in the end recovering from them as well? How do we fill that time with constructive “things to do?”
First you need to find your bearings … hence the compass …
In the beginning, going to as many meetings as is possible is recommended. Suggestions are 90 in 90. And for some, they do twice as much. Once the drink and the drugs are removed, we need to dry out and clear our heads. I am one for sinking into your chair and listening for a while, until you begin to feel your footing.
Many of our young people still struggle with themselves and the voices in their heads that crops up daily and encourages them into chaos and calamity. But once we begin to sober journey, it takes time to turn that tape off and start listening to the voice of calm and serenity.
When I got sober, last, I went to meetings when possible. Because I had things going on in my life at the time and my actions were needed in other places, other than meetings. Until I came to Montreal. And time was on my side.
I spent a few weeks scoping out meetings. Meeting people, and finding someone to work with me. That first year was amazing. I did so many cool things and went many places, and hit hundreds and thousands of meetings. I traveled sober. And I stayed sober.
I rooted in a meeting, in several actually, but I had one home group five months in. I started with service, because that is what our group required from new members. In order to be part of you had to work as part of for a period of time, before you earned privileges like secretary and chairing. And I did that.
There are still groups that I know of today that require a period of service before you get put into service rotation. In order to be part of you have to become part of. And you do that in service.
Over time, we learn how to engage in life soberly. We take on responsibility and we begin to engage the world and our emotions through sobriety. And it ain’t easy. It takes work. And our young people all seem to be of the same mind when it comes to sobriety. “Give me something to do, help me occupy myself with constructive things to do, please.”
For me, I took it as it came. I did not overburden myself with too much to do. But I had something to do every day. I had meetings, I had aftercare, I had service to be done at aftercare, which is where we spent hours a day working and chatting and being counseled by our therapy team. And that lasted a year.
The next layer I added to life was a university education, which took up the next seven years of my life. A few years in I got involved and into a relationship which turned into a marriage in sobriety. After university, I had more time to burn and two years of Cgep that I took on and returned to the classroom for two more years. Which makes education almost 10 years.
Aside from my school and family time, I had to make meetings. And I learned to build my life around my meetings. And that method of sobriety served me well to this day.
Once you root in the rooms, opportunity presents itself. I did not have too far to go looking for it. Everything I have today came directly from the rooms. I learned how to fill that “using time” with good things. It takes some practice, and time is on our side.
All we have is time, it is what you do with that time that matters.
Do what you enjoy doing. Find your passion – DO IT – Money will follow.
We had a 27 year cake and lots of good conversation.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned.
Another day, another adventure. But tonight I was flying solo, because my friend who usually accompanies me decided to stay in. The neighborhood has been jamming as of late, everything waits for a hockey game, even meetings.
There were crowds of people on the corner at the Sports Bar again tonight. He must be making a killing. Which brings much needed business to our neighborhood. With the completion of the Seville Project revitalizing further down Ste Catherine’s, our neighborhood has been given a much needed facelift.
I took off early as I needed to go by the mall on my way out, I took the train from Atwater instead of Guy. It was an easy ride out and to Laurier and the 51. The room was full, and we started from reading #1, in As Bill Sees It.
“It has often been said of A.A. that we are interested only in alcoholism. That is not true. We have to get over drinking in order to stay alive. But anyone who knows the alcoholic personality by firsthand contact knows that no true alky ever stops drinking permanently without undergoing a profound personality change.”
We thought “conditions” drove us to drink, and when we tried to correct these conditions and found that we couldn’t do so to our entire satisfaction, our drinking went out of hand and we became alcoholics. It never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves to meet conditions, whatever they were.
I sat and listened tonight, to many shares that I understood.
I don’t know if conditions, in hindsight, were reason that I drank. I was told in no uncertain terms that the only way to break into community was to go to a bar, have a couple drinks and to see what happened.
I didn’t drink out of anger, or hatred for the conditions that existed in my life as a young person. You can’t choose your family, and I had my hands full with Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde.
I was an alcoholic before I ever left home. I had done my fair share of drinking before I took that leap away from the nest. And that alcoholism only took off worse in my twenties and into my thirties.
I was an empty shell when I came to the end of my drinking career. I was living alone, and only my landlord, my friend Mark, and a couple of others, knew that I was merely existing. I had no life. I had no personality. It was all taken from me my disease(s) and things were pretty hopeless. Because I surely did not see a way out of the hell I was living in.
Thank God for people and the program. And what they did for me. I had begun to battle back from nothingness into healthiness. And at the point that I felt I was strong enough to act in sobriety, I acted. Decisively and Pointedly.
I was at that proverbial turning point. To continue to ply myself with alcohol would surely lead to death or insanity. It wasn’t doing me any favors. Time was ticking and it was not on my side. So I acted …
When I arrived here – with what little I owned – I began a new start. I had left the past in the dust, all those conditions I wanted to escape, and a life that wasn’t serving me very well. And here is where I began to build my new personality.
Over the past eleven or so years, I have accomplished many things. I have learned about me and what makes me tick. The people in my rooms were my salvation and my guides. I met a man who became my mentor and is still, to this day, one of my best friends.
Everything that I went through as a child, a young person and a young adult, I have surveyed over the years, and I studied life from many angles, and I conclude that all that happened to me informed who I would become, here and now. I didn’t have to carry shit North with me. And I didn’t.
With a fresh start and a new life ahead of me, the world was my oyster. All those things that I had listened to all my life, were deleted. All the things I was taught was right, became wrong. All those things I had learned down south became questionable here.
I had hit a proverbial wall. I hit culture shock big time, and it was my mentor and guide who helped me create who I wanted to be. I was a fresh slate. So it began and has been written over the last almost twelve years.
I’ve done all those things that I wasn’t allowed to do. The braces came off my brains and through the vehicle of the rooms and the people in them, my life began to be shaped. I learned who I was.
I’ve heard it said recently from newbies that fresh in the program, they have no idea who they are, and in the long run, it will be a blessing to see who they become, because I understand that. I walked that road myself.
Everything I know today came from people and university and my sober journey. I am not who I was over a decade ago. Life is far greater than it ever has been. I do what I please, within range. I live a much greater quality of life and I count great people as my friends. I have changed and for the better.
I have had a complete personality overhaul. Just like the book says.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
T minus two days and counting.
It was a warm day today. For some strange reason, my alarm clock was an hour fast. I don’t remember re-setting it last night, and I programmed a wake up ring for 4:30 this afternoon. It rang and I got up, I came into the living room and “The Cycle” was on. I was an hour off. I just reset the clock and farted around for an extra hour before getting ready to go.
The Tuesday meeting was well attended. I did some networking and invited the guys to the Thursday meeting. Each of them gave me an excuse as to why they could not come. Oh Well …
We read from As Bill Sees It and the slip.
Suppose we fall short of our chosen ideals and stumble? Does this mean we are going to get drunk? Some people tell us so. But this is only a half truth. The Tuesday meeting is a beginners meeting and we had them in spades tonight.
The sober time in the room varied from one day to double decades. And the discussion went – how to avoid the first drink.
We hear it often from newcomers how hard life is in early sobriety, because things were so upside down when they came in, that telling them to stick around and it will get better, (but not have a firm date as to when that will happen) is somewhat problematic.
The key here is to help them keep coming back, and to teach them to Act as If ! All those little key slogans that help us in the early years. For some, they are hard pressed to listen because the voices in their heads are vying for the ear.
I’ve been stirring up sobriety by going to new and different meetings, because the time came for change. I needed new voices and new stories. I have found that every one who shares in a meeting is either one of two things, (1) a warning or (2) a lesson.
Since I don’t have a drinking history here, I don’t want to start one. I came here sober and I want to die here sober. We’ve been hearing all the key warnings coming from old timers slipping, and newbies slipping, and folks in the mix of what one should NOT do and what one SHOULD do to guarantee sobriety.
You need key things to stay sober.
1. You need to go to meetings
2. You need to work your steps
3. You need a good sponsor
4. You need to build your life around your meetings
5. You need to do service
6. You need to read the books
All these things will help you guarantee sobriety. Stay away from sticky places and don’t go into your head alone. And keep coming back, even when it hurts and when things are good. Because when things are good you can learn gratitude, and when things are bad, you have banked time to hold onto sobriety and not take that first drink.
A good night was had by all.
It’s Tuesday but Thursday’s a coming …
More to come, stay tuned…
We are on the final countdown for the first meeting of Changing Attitudes. The cabinet is installed, there is a coffee pot and coffee in the cabinet today.
Tomorrow I pick up the laminates and office supplies, and we will be shopping for sundry items to fill the cabinet.
Opening a meeting is daunting. There are so many things to do before we can put on a meeting. You have to apply to GSO for group registration. They approve your application and notify the D.C.M. for the area that a new meeting is opening, so that they can come and inspect the group to make sure we are following the traditions and the book.
Then you have to find a space that will allow you to hold a meeting, and that takes work. Thankfully St. Leon’s was open to our request for space on another weeknight. Now there are several meetings that take place in that space. And you need to front the first months rent to pay for the space in advance of the first meeting, which meant the founder fronted all the money necessary to pay the first months rent. And pray that the seventh tradition will carry you forwards to be able to pay rent in the long run, and keep supplies in the cabinet.
We are in the Blue Sheets for the months of May and June already, so that is a good thing. We will get press as the new sheets have been mailed out to other groups in the city.
The founders must meet to work out the details of the meeting format, discuss what we want to do in ways of format and topic. I typed up the meeting notes and all the proper readings, Steps, Traditions, Promises and the format sheet. They are being laminated for pick up tomorrow.
Then there is the inviting of the men from our meetings to come, which means traveling to other meetings during the week to publicize the meeting.
We are expecting a good showing from the folks we have already invited since the beginning of this process had begun a few weeks ago, since we had a set date for the first meeting. G.S.O. has put us in the sheets as a new meeting requesting registration and with the D.C.M. inspection, we will make it into the next printing of the meeting booklet.
I left early to get the paperwork in the process on the way to the meeting tonight, we sat a fair number of folks tonight and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Tradition #4.
“Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.”
Our old timers spoke on this tradition tonight saying that the opening of a new group should always be grounded in Traditions 2,4 and 9.
#2 – For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern.
#4 – Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
#9 – A.A. as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
We are told in no uncertain terms in Tradition Four that “We should not take ourselves too seriously.”
There are a group of men who are founders of the group. We came together to rally around the one man who made the initial suggestion of starting this new group. And my sponsor was apt to say that “If the meeting is meant to be, God will make it work.”
We all put up the funds to pay the rent, buy supplies and work out the format. It was a group effort. We all agreed that in order to make it all come together we needed to bring together a group conscience and let God do the rest. And it seems that He is with us, as we are in the final prep days for the meeting.
Where ever two or more alcoholics come together for the purpose of sobriety, they can call themselves an A.A. Meeting. Our main goal is to carry the message to alcoholics who still suffer and to be a part of our rich fellowship in the city.
The one thought that sticks in my brain is that “YOU cannot keep your EGO and get sober at the same time.” As long as you remember that and you don’t take yourself too seriously, sobriety is attainable. Egos and attitudes are problematic and will sink a ship surely, as if one drink will take us out.
Principles before personalities.
It was a good night. Lots of happy sober friends and fellows.
Pray for our men, some of which are suffering great grief tonight. And we keep him close to our hearts and in our prayers.
More to come, stay tuned…
What a day !!! What a day !!!
We hit the sack early last night, because bright and early this morning we were up preparing to go listen to Hubby defend his Master’s Thesis on the Tea Party.
But before that all happened, I did not sleep much at all last night, and I got out of bed around 5 a.m. because I got a bug up my ass … And I should know better than to get up out of bed to do what I thought would be easy and painless …
I’ve been singing songs from old movies lately, to myself. And I thought, why not download the tunes for my phone. So I did that. Now my SD card in my phone, a 2 gig SD, is very itchy. It is tempermental when I try to add or subtract music from it, and I should know better then to try doing this while hubby is still in bed, or when he just goes to sleep late at night.
After several failed attempts to get the two files moved from my hard drive to the sd card, my computer crashed and fucked up my sd card. I don’t know what I did to it, but it wouldn’t work. Hubby was not having any of my drama this morning because it was all about him.
He set off around 8:30 for the college and I went over about 9:30. It was a small gathering of panelists and guests. Hubby had printed out his 20 page presentation to follow. And it was a full stop SUCCESS !!! He blew his readers and his adviser out of the water. There were two rounds of questions from the panel and on the first round, one of his readers just twisted him up and was on this “Debbie Downer” trip.
Needless to say, Hubby fought tooth and nail for his defense. The second round was much better. Lots of compliments and kudos. In the end they granted his Master’s Thesis Defense. His supervisor said that he did far better work than an M.A. researcher, and it was good enough for PHD work. And after their consultations after the presentation, they accepted his thesis fully and without any needed revisions. Which is quite a feat of academia.
We were all so proud of him !!!
After the ordeal we went our separate ways, I had errands to run to drop off our rent for the month of May. It was lunch time, so I missed the secretary. But it got paid. On the way back through the tunnel and the mall, I stopped at the Telus store to try and get my sd card fixed. That was a no go. They said that I could reformat the card on hubby’s laptop, but he didn’t have a reader converter. UGH!!!
I did some sundry shopping on the way in, had some lunch and went to bed around 2:30. It was a great nap because at the end I was having this massive technicolor dream about Christmas and as someone asked me a question like, “are you coming for Christmas??” I woke up.
Actually, hubby was woken up first. Me thinks we have a ghost in the apartment. Because things happen, the tv turns on by itself, not all the time, and not predictable. So about a minute before my alarm clock was set to go off, the tv turned on by itself again !!!
I got dressed and departed for the evening event, which was a trip out to St. Michel to pick up our new cabinet for the group at the church. The cabinet is beautiful. Just what we needed. And just the right size.
On the way out I stopped by the Telus store because I had called them to see if I could buy an sd converter card for the laptop, and they said that a brand new sd card comes in the packet. They don’t sell separately. The girl that helped me earlier was still there and I asked for a 2 gig sd card, and she sold me a 4 gig sd card for the price of a 2 gig sd card … SCORE !!!
Hubby left me some directions on the way home to shop and get groceries and now we are home, he is having Chinese food for dinner and I am having Subway.
Later on, I need to reinstall ALL my MUSIC AGAIN !!! UGH Kill me now ! Albeit on a larger sd card so that should be painless, Let Us Pray !!!
All in all it was a great day.
More to come, stay tuned …
It has been a sunny past couple of days. And the excitement is rising. Hubby finally finished writing his 160 page thesis for his Masters Defense which comes tomorrow morning. Two years of blood, sweat and tears culminates in a twenty minute presentation in front of the M.A. Advisers and his thesis readers.
We are nearing the end of the month and May is just around the corner and the dawn of Changing Attitudes. Tomorrow night we will travel up town to pick up our new cabinet and bring it to the church for installation. And the ritual filling of that cabinet will follow soon after. There is a list of things we need to get sorted and purchased for the first meeting. It is all very exciting.
I met a friend to head over to Tuesday Beginners for the meeting tonight. Everyone was happy to see me since my absence from the group. My seat that I have always sat in was waiting for me with lots of love and hugs.
My sponsor had a gift for me, which is why I went there and not to Vendome Beginners tonight. I now have a copy of the original manuscript for the Big Book. prices run in the hundreds for copies of the manuscript. There is a link in the pages to the site where it can be purchased. That will be a good read.
Our ladies took us on a journey through Living Sober tonight and the topic read was “Getting rid of Old Ideas.” I was third from the end and we didn’t get all the way to the end to get everybody in.
I heard many good things that resonated with me. Having been in for a few years, Having left safe harbor and left to my own devices, I got to the point where I was ready to allow someone else do my thinking for me. I believed that I was missing something and someone and in allowing someone else into my thoughts, I invariably put myself in danger and that facilitated my slip.
But at some point, the end of June 2000, I had had enough. I was extricated from my no win scenario and the taking back of my life began. I put down the drugs and shady behavior and I never looked back. I had been beaten almost into the floor and I needed certain help, which came.
I never picked up a drug again. I did, however continue to drink because I “thought” that that would bring me into community. I “thought” that the drink would magically make me one of many instead of just the One I had been. I was living a sad existence and I would pour my sorrows into a cup and drink them away believing that things would magically change. Alas, they did not.
I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. I finally made my way back, through the help of another member. From that day forwards I began to change the tape in my head. I divorced myself from the thought that alcohol would solve my problems, and surrendered myself to the people who helped me sober up the second time.
The running theme in sobriety for me is that I allowed sober people to help me stay stopped. Certain people in sobriety presented themselves to me, I believe, on God’s dime, to help me and help me they did. I pulled that last geographic in sobriety and left the old me where he was. I never looked back.
I learned a great many lessons the first couple years I was sober. I found a sweet spot here and the people in my life were good for me. I could stay stopped. I became confident. I became strong. I became whole. All these things did not come over night. And it took work to get here.
I still had old ideas running in my brain when I got here and thank goodness the folks here saw them and God removed all those old ideas in due time. I learned to trust God again. And I trusted my friends and fellows. And here we are going on twelve years. The longest I have been sober in my life. I have no desire to go backwards, only forwards.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
The days have been bright, and kinda windy. It was very blustery last night on the way to St. Matthias. The skies were darkening as we began our transit across town for our Friday meeting.
We are reaching the last pages of As Bill See’s It. And today’s reading was taken from page 164 in the Big Book. A vision for you.
When we first open the book, and begin on the blank page, there is actually a first blank page in the book. This reminds us of how blank our lives are, now that we have reached this point, and we are prepared, somewhat, to make some serious admissions and get into the program. The illness of body, mind and spirit are laid out for us and we read about the disease of alcoholism.
The book is laid out :
- The Forewards
- Bill’s Story
- There IS a Solution
- More about Alcoholism
- We Agnostics
- How it works
- Into Action
- Working with Others
- To Wives
- The Family Afterward
- To Employers … and
- A Vision for You
The first 164 pages of the book contains all you need to get the job done. We read and learn about the steps. We read the book, And we set out to clean up our side of the street, to the best of our ability, After a few readings of the book we come to learn that there are 182 promises in the book. And this last chapter, a Vision for you, is a recap of the 12 steps in short form. What we have read and worked on is reintroduced to the reader, once you complete the book work.
Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask him in your morning meditations what you can do for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others.
This is the great fact for us …
Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellow. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and keep you until then.
Imagine 75 years ago when A.A. was in its infancy. The book was fresh off the press and began to be disseminated amongst groups and individuals scattered all over the United States, Canada and farther afield in time. Imagine what it must have been like to see the first peoples getting sober and coming to this page in the book. This was all they had before meetings grew and became organized.
Sobriety does not come over night. One day at a time. And I spoke on the line that says “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …”
There are things that have to happen in order for you to be able to talk the talk, once you begin walking the walk. It is like collecting puzzle pieces and putting them in your tool box. Every meeting, Every share, Every reading and every day we don’t take a drink, we collect bank time. Every opportunity to learn something is bankable. In order to give – you have to live …
And from that living bank, we get to give it away because it was freely given to us. All those men and women who are long sober have given of themselves in opening meetings, sharing and talking, listening and being present, we learn from them.
Obviously, I cannot tell you things that I do not have experience with. otherwise I am talking smack or talking out of my ass. Every word I write comes from my heart, based on what I know and what I have learned. Every meeting I go to I get to experience a little more sobriety from someone else. And in turn I can return home and tell you what I learned.
Tonight it rained on us. We got soaked on the way home. I did not think to carry my umbrella – not that I like carrying an umbrella. But we made it home in one piece.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
One on One
This photo, a very sacred photo of a charm that we, as young people were given on our first high school retreat, called the One on One. Over that weekend, back in tenth grade, we were introduced to a spiritual relationship with Jesus. And we came to know God and Jesus and we were called to commit to a life of Christian service to one another. How I wish I knew then, what I do today about religion, faith and God. It would have been much easier. The large cross is Jesus and the smaller cross is us.
This was our Jesus …
We had our mountain top experience, then we had to come back into the world and be Christians. And that was a task that I was woefully unprepared for. Which is probably why I chose the path I took when I moved here. Today I know my Jesus and I know my God. I also know who God is and who God isn’t.
Funny that …
*** *** *** ***
The weekend is almost over. And things are happening. The weather is beginning to warm up a bit. The snow is melting. Walking through Westmount this evening I saw snow piles that reached about 10 feet in some places. At the church the snow is melting off the lawn and grass is starting to peak out from underneath.
I was out early for set up, and that went quickly, have tunes will travel. We sat a fair number of folks tonight. And we continued reading through the steps. Last week we finished Step five, so tonight’s reading covered Six and Seven.
The reading there are only one paragraph covering Six and Seven, and moved right along to Eight and Nine. We have heard to night about the book titled “Drop the Rock” which covers in detail steps six and seven.
We also heard from one of our men that shadows of step three can be found in step six, if you have read the book. Once we write our inventory and speak it to another, we get ready, “To have God remove all these defects of character” and then humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
And moving right along to steps eight and nine, made a list and began to make amends. This is a big chunk of work to do, with very little reading from the book. The text moves rather quickly over these steps. And once we complete five we look back at our list and think about, ponder and name our character defects and shortcomings.
I heard an old timer woman say that it took years for her to cultivate her spiritual tool box to work on defects and shortcomings. My sponsor told me when I worked through my steps this last time was that defects and shortcomings never really go away.
But I have a choice to act out or act upon, and return to self will, (which runs riot if we allow it), It is a daily step work that is required. And thought this is daunting at the start, the longer we stay sober the more investment we can make into step work.
We’ve heard that step work is a daily regimen, that if we are diligent, we never really stop working our steps, because in any situation (out there) we can fall back into old habits and reactions. So that’s why we have meetings. To show up and recharge to be able to go out into the world and do the right thing.
Most of our folks tonight are amid their steps. Lots of beginners at the head of the bunch on Steps one, two and three. A good bunch working step four. Some doing their fifths soon, and some working on six and seven.
The discussion did not move past seven, it seemed the spirit in the room focused on what was necessary, which in turn really helped some of our guests feel better about step work.
Do we take time each day to say our prayers and reflect on what needs to be lit and what needs to be worked on? One day at a time, is daunting when applied to steps, and it struck me when it was spoken tonight, that if we don’t do what we need to do on any given day, we will sink into self and quite possibly drink again.
While I was sitting there listening, the shares came around to me quickly tonight and I didn’t have a lot of time to formulate what I wanted to say, but the first thing that came to mind was a memory of my youth.
I was a raging alcoholic who lied, cheated and schemed to get what I wanted and I really didn’t think twice about it, the lies and deceit just came. And I am of wont to tell myself that I was young and inexperienced. I didn’t know what responsibility meant, and I didn’t. I just could not work out how to live on my own for the first time, pay bills, pay for a car, pay rent, buy food, and still have money to drink with. And in my adolescent brain – because I surely was not a responsible adult yet, I tried every trick in the book to maintain my addiction.
The older I got, I perfected the art of drinking. But I fell into the trap of dishonesty and irresponsibility several times over. It took me a long time to grow up. There is a passage in the Big book that tells part of my story to a tee.
Once upon a time, I had a good job. People liked me. I had a roof over my head, and a good woman who took me in after family fell apart. And I screwed her over big time. At the time, this is prior to my first sobriety. I was drinking away my rent money, and one night I returned home from a party night, still reeling from the drink, and my lady friend had her son there waiting for me, with locks changed and told me that I could not get in until I paid my rent.
She as getting sober at the time. I did not know this for many years later when we crossed paths eventually at a meeting. I was the alcoholic running roughshod through her life, I hurt her – in the end I spent the next week borrowing clothes to go to work finally getting paid – I paid my back rent and she asked me to leave.
That turned out to be another adventure in insanity. The theme of geographic was still in play. So was my alcoholism. I would not get sober for a number of years just yet.
There are clear character defects there. Things I did, things I said, things I didn’t say but should have, and one great big amend I had to make to my friend. By that time I was a couple years sober the first time – but I was coasting on meetings. I wasn’t rooted in the book, I wasn’t working like we work today.
And that turned out to be my own undoing. Because I went out.
And boy did my character defects rise up and bite me in the ass. My next geographic turned me loose into the lives of others, and onto drugs in a way that killed me inside. Stuck in a no win scenario, I had to play the game close and tight. Another undoing. Any addict will tell you that anything goes when you need a fix. Thank God when I walked away from that life, it was over for good.
At the end of my drinking, it was just me. And myself and I. I had a studio, work and a roof over my head. But I was barely surviving. In the end I got sober and pulled another geographic. Where I am now. And since I came here sober, I left my past far far away. All those defects stayed with them there, so I thought.
Once again in sobriety, I thought I was entitled. That God owed me and that I should have all that I wanted now. I guess you call that self centered, and selfish.
Here is where the lesson of one day at a time began to play in my life. Even before I started working my steps, my glaring defects were on display for everyone else to see and the one thing they kept telling me was “keep coming back, stay in your day, one day at a time.”
I’ve had the odd ego attack in sobriety. I have said things that I was not proud of, in sobriety. But that was a long time ago. And I am a few more year sober now, and I look back and see where self will ruled the day. I sank my anchor in a safe harbor for a long time, and I coasted.
And now we are in shake up mode, and we are amid the steps, and reading them now brings to mind the more work that still needs to be done on a daily basis. I often like to think that this is the way things go …
You work your steps, write them out, say your prayers and then God gives you some time to work them out in your life. I have found in the past that I would learn a concept and then get to try my hand at making it work. And life and responsibility grew the longer I stayed sober.
I’ve become sober, accountable, reliable. I get to work my issues out in the face of my peers. And they reflect back to me what still needs to be done. We are constantly recovering… One day at a time. One moment at a time. One experience at a time. One person at a time.
Progress not perfection.
Once again we saw tonight what happens when you stop going to meetings and take back your will … Member going back out to drink. For weeks now we have been hearing the warnings. I don’t think folks are paying attention. Yet !!!
We are given a daily reprieve based on our spiritual condition. Because we have a malady of body, mind and spirit. And if we don’t feed our body right, and feed our mind positively, and feed our spirits Spiritually, we will never be whole.
Jane Fonda says that we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole.
I want to be whole. I want to walk through that arch at some point, free from the bondage of self and my alcoholism. It is coming, soon, very soon …
Pray for us.
Holy Week has begun, will you be participating in the services of your choice of faith? How will you feed your spirit over the next week? And what will you do to prepare for the coming of Christ from the cross ???
More to come, stay tuned.
It is past my bedtime but there are some things I need to put down before I go to bed tonight. When I got home from the meeting, as I am wont to do, I unpack and change out and sit down at the box and see what has gone on since I had left the house. I was surprised to get a letter from Scotty. Work in Progress
Some time ago, well, a long time ago, I came across his blog and as a young person he exemplified the word faith. His moniker “Live the Word, Breathe Prayer” was a thought that I admired and at that time, wished I could Live the word more fully and to breathe prayer.
Prayer is like a garden that must be cultivated and cared for. There are many ways to pray, and there is the Ladder of the monks that talk about prayer, and that I have posted about some time ago.
I have always aspired to promote people who do good works, share their faith, minister to others and truly live the gospel in their daily lives. For a while I hosted Scotty’s photo on the blog and even created headers of the prayer thought.
After while – some found my blog and began writing and commenting about the fact that I (a sinner) would associate myself with a Good Book Following Christian. I got those nasty emails too.
It seems – over the past year the nasty commenters have tired of berating me and my blog and my journey. I wiped Scotty off the blog so as not to offend any more sensibilities and left it at that.
I still followed the blog from a silent point. Today I received Scotty’s letter and it truly filled my heart with joy. It reads:
I’m not sure if this is still your email but I thought if give it a bash.
I wanted to drop you an email that I should have sent a long time ago.
I owe you a massive apology.
Sorry for caring too much about myself and not enough about others.
I wrote to you a long time ago not quite sure what to do with a couple of comments I’d received when someone had seen my picture on your blog. I immediately sought to “save myself” and didn’t stop to consider how it would make you feel.
I’ve had a couple of years of deep growth where God has been softening my heart, stripping back my pride, and filling me with a compassion that I lacked.
I have thought about that email several times. I think of the grace in your response which I did not deserve. I think of the email I should have sent, which shouldn’t have gone to you but to the people who had made the comments telling them to get a grip. I should have laid aside my own pride and selfish ambition and stuck up for you.
Thank you for your grace, and thank you for all your encouragement. You read numerous blog entries, interacted, and consistently encouraged me. I just read back over some of your comments and feel further conviction and sorrow.
Thanks for the energy you invested in praying for me and advocating for people to support me.
Please forgive me for acting in such a self-seeking way, and in doing so, trampling all over the grace you’d been pouring out.
I pray that God blessed you richly,
Today Scotty is married with a beautiful child. He has suffered with God and he surmounted and won his fight with disease. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to know he won and is well. God is glorious. God is good.
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.
We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.
No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
Self-seeking will slip away.
Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not.
They are being fulfilled among us—sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
Another day, another meeting.
Snow fell today and was falling on the way home from the church. Just enough snow to blanket white spaces and on cars. It was a good night to travel.
It was a busy day with hubby and I coming and going here and there. There is a Sociology Conference going on at Concordia. Hubby is presenting on Saturday afternoon. It will all be exciting. And I get to see Margaret after her presentation that is timed at the same time as hubby’s.
It seems the government wants to audit me !!! UGH So I have to send them some tax information for past filings. I’ve never NOT paid my taxes, even as a student. Hubby guarantees it will be painless and it will all be ok, so no worries here.
I met a friend around 7 for our transit across town for North End English tonight. We take the green line East to Berri and change to the orange line North to Laurier. And then take the 51 bus to the church. We did not have to wait long for trains because it was rush hour still.
We had a modest showing, all the seats were filled. We are almost at the end of As Bill Sees It. Our reading was about Criticism. And how Bill used good and bad criticism to help the movement – move along as it did.
I once heard a lady friend say at a meeting that she has an addiction to the “publish button.” And that she needed to practice not always hitting the publish button. And with that I have to agree.
Growing up in an alcoholic home predisposed me to criticism. Night and day, up and down, from birth parents who felt it necessary to berate and negate my existence for 21 years that I lived under their roof.
And coming out at a place that drag queens congregated predisposed me to the catty gay criticism that is prevalent in the gay community. There are some straight men in the program that I just cannot stomach. And in those instances, I just avoid them. However critical I am about them, I know better today to keep my mouth shut and walk away.
I’ve been critical on this medium and that cost me valuable relationships. But that is life I guess. I’ve noticed in hindsight that I’ve been critical of people, and I mentioned this a while ago here.
Last night I spoke to a lady friend about the stir up and she gave me some crucial critical advice. She told me not to take it lightly and that maybe I should shake up the rest of my sobriety ( read: sponsor) and I said that I was on a listening tour. At some point I will hear the next man who is to step on my path.
That’s why we are traveling to new meetings. To hear new voices and get to attend different meetings with new faces.
I am actively practicing Live and Let Live much closer to the heart than before.
It was a nice ride home via rail and bus.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Firstly, welcome to all the new followers of the blog. It seems you like what I am doing, and that is always a good sign of where to go next.
I’ve got a new follower from our magic city of light. And after reading his blog earlier I thought I’d put up something I did a while ago – but never wrote about it because it was a school assignment. Maybe he will engage this post…
I took a semester of Sociology, because my husband is an M.A. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at Concordia. This was at Dawson last year.
One of our work papers consisted of performing acts of breaking the norm when it came to mass transit, elevators and escalators.
When I first moved here more than 10 years ago, I fell in love with the city, not only because it was my birth mother’s city and I have family here, I came to visit and decided to stay.
It IS my anniversary of my arrival in Montreal this Easter. And so the first week I visited places, found meetings, found a place to live, sent off my application for my birthright citizenship form, and began to get to know the city.
Coming from Miami, there was little mass transit. One train, One line, and feeder buses connecting both points. I was blown away by the Metro System here. It is a big system. But pales in comparison to other Canadian cities and some in the U.S. like Washington and New York.
Montreal has its own charm. And there were things I learned early on. Like how to line up waiting for the bus in orderly fashion. Nobody seemed to push or barge in front of someone in line. People were polite and orderly.
Escalators … Stand Right, Walk Left. Never stand on the left, and never walk on the right. Except of course you are on a BIG escalator in a station.
Then it is all fair game.
Elevators … Always be kind to your neighbors. I live in a highrise. Never play music while others are in the elevator. It is rude and antisocial. People come in the elevator and talk on their phones. (Like I want to overhear your entire conversation !!! ) Going Up, What floor?, Hello Good day/evening.
If you enter a crowded elevator – take off your backpack and hold it by your feet to save space. THIS GOES for the Metro and the Bus as well. Because sometimes buses and trains are packed in peak hours.
When you get on a bus, if you are in a queue line, you are observant of others in front of you and behind you. Never sit in the front seats of a bus – they are often reserved by handicapped folks, older members or children.
Always be mindful of your bus driver. Be polite. Say hello – good day – have a nice day/night, and goodbye. Preferably in FRENCH !!!
People wait in orderly bunches on Metro platforms. On some platforms there are clear door markers on the floor marking where the doors will open. Always allow riders debarking the train to get off before you barge your way onto the train.
Never sit in marked seats for the pregnant and disabled.
Always be mindful of what is going on ON the train while you ride. You never know when you will get to practice your chivalry or your French. Always be kind – don’t hog two seats because you only need one. Take care to pay attention to others, in case shit goes down while you are traveling.
You will notice that most folks are connected medically to their devices. Be they phones, players, I-phones, MP3 players and the like. Don’t blast your music and be aware of what is going on around you in case you need to step in and do something.
Learning how to navigate the Metro system took some time, until I learned what the directional signs meant. There are four lines. Green Line (downtown) Orange Line (Financial district line – going from one end of the city to the other) and the Blue line (which bisects the city up on the Mountain) from Snowdon to St. Michel. And finally the yellow line which operates from Berri to the South Shore and Ille Ste. Helen (where Expo 67 took place).
Your stop corresponds to the direction the train is traveling. You get on the train in the direction of your stop, the end points are identified on all metro platforms. I live downtown.
Our building sits equidistant between George Vanier on the Orange line, Atwater Metro on the Green line and Guy on the Green line up the way from here going into the East end.
Over the years the STM has perfected the way we use transit. We went from tickets we fed into turnstiles to plastic monthly passes we swiped to the all important OPUS pass that is a rechargeable credit card that holds all kinds of fares, be it daily, weekends, monthly etc …
If you are not fully fluent in French, you will learn, if you come here to live.
French is mother tongue over the transit platform. I’ve learned my French at Dawson and learning to live in this multicultural city. However I identify as a member of the anglo community. I find the only places I use French in my daily life is on transit, the grocery store and the shopping malls. For the most part I live in English Montreal. My meetings are in English and most of my friends are English – but a fair number of my friends are fully multi lingual.
The English AA and French AA share the same space at the Intergroup office. Our meeting lists are printed multi-culturally, French, English, Spanish, and Farsi. With the need of meetings crossing cultures, AA has adapted to the needs of the people in the city.
So now that we have given you the pointer of how to navigate our city, we come to the highlight of the post. The breaking social norms exercise. We had a week to complete this task. Then it became a written paper for class.
We were asked to do things a bit differently. With all that I have written above about etiquette and social responsibility this was our task.
1. To sit where we shouldn’t
2. To stand/walk where we shouldn’t
3. Take seats that are not usually sat in (see above)
4. Be counter the flow
And add to this watch how folks respond to breaking the social norm.
I found that I could not break social norms when it came to the bus, metro and escalators. And I surely did not sit in a front seat on a bus, I never sit in the front seats on any bus, Even if I at at the head of a line getting aboard.
I’ve learned in Living here more than a decade, there are unspoken rules that we all live by. And your lessons start the first day you set foot on our streets. We are kind people. We are forgiving. And we are polite.
However, there are those who just don’t fill any of these qualities.
NEVER be rude to an S.T.M Employee.
NEVER be rude to a bus driver.
Just Never be RUDE if you can handle that.
Smile, be kind and be aware of what is going on around you because you might, one day, have to act to help another human being on your day’s journey.
And that is a snapshot of Montreal from my perspective.
What have you learned about people, where you live???
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It has been a good few days. We are sitting at (-4c/-11c w.c.) and light snow has been falling all day today. I am on coffee this month which means I leave here around twenty to 5 for a 5pm arrival because one of my friends comes to help set up, which gives us time to talk together before everyone else arrives.
Today we continued reading from Chapter 5 – and How it Works, and today’s reading spoke to steps three and four. As we read from the book, a certain passage jumped off the page once again, because I heard it spoken at a meeting on Thursday night.
… Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom…
Feeling a bit peckish, I just ran to the store to get something to munch on before dinner. And as I got into the elevator and arrived on the first floor, someone is burning incense and I was immediately transported into a “puja” ceremony.
Years ago, I was involved in a group who practiced Eastern Religions and puja was something we did quite often. I guess it was a good reminder because of where I am in my head at the moment.
Since hearing the message on Thursday night, I have been dis-eased, to say the least. And I mentioned these feelings to another old timer who has just joined our Tuesday group. He has a chunk of time and he is chair on Thursday night so he has been picking speakers that have upturned the apple cart of life.
Last year I joined a group to do my steps, in 17 weeks. I was not in a place to live and let live. I was judgmental and soon there after, it so coincided with my speaking on my 10th anniversary some time ago. I ended up leaving the step group because of perceived Egos and Attitudes. As a gay man I have little patience for certain straight men in the program.
By the By I finished my steps with my sponsor. I wrote out my fourth and spoke my fifth with my sponsor on a Sunday night and in hindsight, right now, there was no light of God experience, no earth shattering release or catharsis.
I was talking to this old timer tonight, and I told him that life has been very mundane. There are no earth shattering circumstances going on in my life, no major upheavals. Things are just good. So to speak.
I have dropped my anchor in a safe harbor and I have been living my life quietly, not making waves and certainly not shaking it up. Tuesday has a good group of members – three quarters of them are women. Young women. There are only six men as group members. We’ve never had solid male newcomers come and stay for any period of time. So working with others seems lacking.
I get my meeting, I do my service and that is all and good. I share when it comes around the table. Yet, I have repeatedly said that the women really get into the steps and they do it very differently than the men have done it. It’s been too long since I have been amongst men who are really “doing it.”
I have my issues. I have some perceptions that may not be healthy. I see some people in meetings, and I roll my eyes, my patience for certain people in this city is less than hospitable. As long as they don’t invade my space, I am good. But when we do cross paths, the bile in my stomach burns from the inside.
What do you do, and where do you go to get good solid honest male fellowship when your home group is a bunch of girls? For the last two years I have been living a female program in a men’s body. One of our women has suggested we have a group conscience because of all our new members, many of which have less than a years sobriety. Some of our women have solid time. But that doesn’t solve the conundrum.
I’ve been sitting in my little haven. Calmly doing the same thing week in and week out. I hit the same meetings week in and week out. And everything is status-quo.
Now where does that leave me? I’m not sure. But I know that I am a bit shaken up and things are a bit off kilter. I heard some good things tonight from other folks around the circle. The guys are seeking to get better, each in their own ways.
The apple cart has been turned upside down for my sponsor for the last few months and he is mulling over a career change, and he wants to rotate off of treasurer position, and change it up, and do something new. But where he is going, is in the long term and totally speculative at this point, I don’t know where that leaves me in the long run, but I wonder if finding someone new to shed light on sobriety with some serious time and new focus, wouldn’t do me some good?
Shake up is good. Finding answers is the point isn’t it? When life gets boring and mundane, maybe it’s time to shake up the apple cart.
That is where I am at the moment.
Stay tuned. More to come.
What Are We?
The Reformation Project is a Bible-based, Christian non-profit organization that seeks to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more below and visit our Statement of Faith to learn more about our beliefs.
We are a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in the United States of America.
Our Plans and Our Vision
This fall, we will host our first leadership conference for 50 straight, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians who are committed to reform. From September 18th-21st at Asbury United Methodist Church in Kansas City, KS, we will put them through a Bible boot camp. There, we will equip them with the tools and training they need to go back to their communities and make lasting changes to beliefs and interpretations that marginalize LGBT people. Once they go back, we will continue to offer them personal, financial, and infrastructural support for months and years to come. We will ensure that even those with the biggest and most daunting of goals will have the means to accomplish them.
Crucially, the aspiring reformers that we train will not be seeking to change their churches by asking them to ignore or look past the Bible. The Bible is not anti-gay. It never addresses the issues of same-sex orientation or loving same-sex relationships, and the few verses that some cite to support homophobia have nothing to do with LGBT people. Careful, persistent arguments about those passages have the power to change every Christian church worldwide, no matter how conservative their theology. The mission of The Reformation Project is to train a new generation of Christians to streamline that process and accelerate the demise of homophobia in the church.
After we build our leadership training model with 50 reformers this year, we will start to expand aggressively. As soon as we raise the money to do so, we will open a headquarters here in Wichita, Kansas. We will host more conferences, both in the U.S. and abroad.
Here in America, we will partner with churches and pastors to develop vocal and visible allies in every church around the country. We will launch regional offices in places where LGBT people have the least support, and we will work to reform the churches there from within. Soon, gay kids in Jackson, Mississippi and Kingston, Jamaica won’t just have to hear on YouTube that it gets better—they will have the personal support of outspoken, influential Christian allies in their communities who can ensure that it does.
How You Can Help
In order to make our vision a reality, we need your support. This spring, we are running our initial fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, we need thousands of donors to pitch in to reach our goal of $100,000. This will fund our first leadership conference in Kansas City this fall, covering all of the basic expenses of those who attend, and it will allow us to start laying the groundwork for the future.
A Message From the Founder
A little less than a year ago, I gave a speech at a church in Kansas about the Bible and homosexuality and posted the video of it online. Two years earlier, I had left school at Harvard and set out on an improbable quest to confront homophobia in my conservative Wichita church and find acceptance there as a gay Christian….
We are dedicated to training LGBT Christians and their allies to reform church teaching on sexual orientation and gender identity through the teaching of the Bible.
We believe in:
- The inspiration of the Bible, the Word of God.
- The Triune God, eternally existent as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- The supremacy of God the Father, who created all things seen and unseen through Christ our Lord.
- The deity of Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of the invisible God, firstborn over all creation, fully God and fully man, head of the church, author and finisher of our faith; His death for our sins; and His resurrection and eventual return.
- The regenerative power of the Holy Spirit, whose fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
There is a reason I posted the prior article from the Daily Beast, because it resonated with me so vividly.
Let me tell you a story…
I graduated High School in 1985. I spent a year at the local junior college, but all the while, I was actively working at my home parish, I was an altar server, and a member of the youth group and later a Eucharistic minister.
In 1986, I applied to the Diocese of Miami – Minor Seminary in Miami. I took all the tests and passed, I guess. My parents were neither here nor there. It was because of my grandmother(s) that my passion for God was so strong.
All I wanted was to serve the church, And I did that without question during that year. I loved God with all my heart and all my soul. And I wanted to do right by my upbringing. But men at the seminary did not think that I was suited for ministry, that is why I only lasted a year.
You could say that when I was dismissed, God fell out of favor. I did not come out until I turned 21 and was well away from my family. What I didn’t know at 19 I should have in hindsight.
I was all of 19 years old. I had eyes for the church, and I was accepted into the minor seminary in the Fall of 1986 – thru – Spring 1987. I was a boy trying to find his way in a community of men who, in most cases, were older than me, also, (and this is purely hindsight observation) most of my peers knew who they were, as in sexual orientation.
There was a dichotomy of states I observed. I kept my nose clean, I did not make waves, I did my studies, went to chapel, participated in community, but still, I was an odd ball.
In hindsight, there were many things that I felt passionate about. A certain priest, had a problem with the drink. He would drink and find himself in the lodging hall and some of us took it upon ourselves to get him back to the rectory and into bed without incident. This happened more than once, and more than twice.
He eventually got sent away to dry out. And it was upon this campaign that I seized upon. I lobbied for him to be returned to us. Because he was a priest in a certain position of authority when he was sent away.
The priest who was installed as his replacement, was a Big Frock Priest. He loved his vestments, and you would have thought he had aspirations to the Vatican, by the way he held himself, marched through the chapel and wielded his limp fist. I did not like him. Because he had an ego of authority.
There were gay priests in residence at the seminary. It so happened that certain priests were taken out of their own churches because of personal issues that seemed as punishments for their transgressions. And were sent to live with us.
Among my fellows, there were surely young men who were gay. I did see them OUT in community, when I was asked to leave the community. Some of my fellows did end up being ordained. I have since seen them on televised masses on tv, and over the past years I have posted reports about the exploits of some of the priests that were in residence during my year.
I can tell you that YES there are gay priests in churches. And It would not phase me one bit to know that there are gay priests ensconced in the Vatican. It does not shock me to read items such that I have posted here.
One of the priests, whom I know was gay at the time, when I was in seminary, studied at the Vatican during his formation years. So it is not a stretch that there are homosexuals in the highest echelons of Holy Mother Church.
I will defend some men. Because although they may be gay, many of the priests I have come to know in all my years, are good upstanding priests who serve their communities without fail. They don’t run around in the shadows and act out as we have read below.
Some I will not defend.I do draw a line in certain situations.
As a young man, at that time, I had not come to any realization about my sexual orientation. And I must ponder how I would have turned out, had I remained in seminary and eventually ordained like some of my fellows. I don’t know how that would have turned out.
There were gay men in my formation class. Some were upperclassmen, some from other countries. We had a good population of seminarians from other parts of the Latin world. And it was apparent that some of them were terribly gay.
It was a bit off putting. We had orientation weekends when new prospects would come to visit the school, and for some, would be followed by coming online with us. One particular boy who came after me, brought along his trunk with his assorted speedos and colorful underwear. Which he wasn’t shy about showing off to us as he unpacked.
He did not last very long. He came and went in less than a season.
The rector of the seminary … Big Frock Priest … was a character. I would name him, but I won’t because that would bring me too much grief. I imagine that in hindsight, as an older man myself, today, that he was a priest with a flair for the dramatic.
You know when you stand in church and a priest raises his right hand to offer a blessing to the people, there is the regular way a priest would hold out his hand to offer that blessing. Then there was Big Frock Priest, who, like I said, had aspirations of higher office, his pointed blessings with hand held high in mock of a bishop or the pope. I can see it in my minds eye.
We’ve talked about Gay priests … and If they are the problem?
We cannot discount the countless men of faith who have abused their positions in the church to abuse children. Actions that are morally and ethically deplorable. I cannot condone these men.
You come to serve the church, and you come to serve God first and foremost. With that in mind, if you desire to abuse children, then renounce your ministry and be on your way.
I have known a handful of men in ministry. Many of them straight. But since my coming to Canada, and being educated here, my affiliation with the Catholic and Anglican Churches has introduced me to a group of saintly Gay Clergy in both the Catholic and Anglican faiths.
One of them is one of my best friends, is to be ordained later on this year.
There are gays in Catholic ministry. That I can confirm. It is not a stretch to think that there are gay priests in the Vatican. This whole gay black male situation in Rome is perplexing. But it would not surprise me if these allegations are true. There are priests, then there are those men who over step their roles and bring shame upon themselves and to us by their actions.
It’s kind of repugnant.
But what do you do with all that pent up frustration of ministry work day in and day out. having to perform for the masses and the bishops, cardinals and the many who pass through the gates of Holy Mother Church?
The gay priests I knew, who were schooled in Rome, were certainly members of a particular community, and surely there were others there are well. This is not just a North American Phenomena. Gays come from most civilized countries.
Pope Benedict XVI was always known as the bulldog, for his strict stance on Church doctrine. The late Pope John II appointed him to his position for the Doctrine of the faith, because he was so learned and highly educated and well known for his smarts and clerical knowledge.
With this kind of cleric in the highest office of Holy Mother Church, I don’t think for one moment that he did not know what was going on in his church? A watchdog of this caliber had to have eyes in the community.
But what was an 85 year old frail pontiff going to do about these men? What recourse was he to take, and what punishment could he enact? Who ever wins the next conclave is going to have quite the mess to clean up, in addition to all the scandals that are rocking the church from the inside.
Some gay men have good character and are good men.
Some gay men are characters and give us all a bad name.
Some gay clergy are priests first and human second.
Some gay clergy have blurred the lines between the sacred and the profane.
But what is the answer to these situations? Do we punish all the clergy for the transgressions of some? Do you defrock those priests who have been implicated in these tawdry accusations? Do you close every sauna in Rome and take into custody all those gay men who (the reports say) have damning evidence on those so called (transgression priests)?
What will unfold, and what is truth and what is false?
I guess we shall see.
I’ve stood in St. Peter’s Basilica, I have climbed to the top of the cupola and looked down into the papal gardens, and I have visited the tomb of St. Peter.
I don’t understand how men of faith could spit upon the church and their vocations by doing such stupid and repugnant things…
Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.
God is perfect; yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
I can’t imagine what God is thinking about these things.
I would offer that he isn’t terribly pleased.
The snow began to fall this evening, We are sitting at (-4c/-6c w.c.) And more snow is on the way. Thankfully we are not in the major snow event zone this time.
I am not feeling quite myself today. A cold is coming on and I am feeling a bit wonky, so on the way out I did my supermarket safari and stopped at the pharmacy for some cold/flu pills.
It was a good meeting. We sat almost 50 folks. And we read from Living Sober, number #20, “Remembering your last Drunk.”
I picked this reading on purpose and the person I wanted to participate in this reading did not show up for the meeting tonight. UGH !!!
I got to the church about 5:30, and folks were waiting since 5. Set up went quickly one of our newbies is on coffee which freed me up to do tables and the girls did chairs. Then they paired off to read their books for an hour.
They say that the farther you are away from your last drink, the closer you are to your next drink. People tend to forget their last drink as they get sober, so today’s reading was a good reminder for many.
“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…”
We heard a bunch of good advice regarding the reading. Old timers share that with remembering the past, and being able to recall the past, when working with others, can use their experience to help others coming along the path.
For me, I don’t remember my last drink. But I do remember my last drunk. At the end of my drinking, I was an all or nothing binge drinker. My Saturday nights were reserved for getting pretty and going to the club (Salvation) and partying it up with all the buff boys, that I so badly wanted to be part of.
And the first hour I drank to excess, and at 1 a.m. religiously, they would blast a tank of liquid nitrogen and that would chill the crowd, and it was then that the shirts would come off and the music would pound because everybody was fairly buzzed or fairly high, and the night continued.
I kept drinking like I always had. I knew I was coming to the end of my drinking because I kept praying for the hangover of death to come. And for that to occur, I had to drink to the point that would trigger such an event.
I don’t remember taking my last drink, nor how I got home, who poured me into a cab, and how I got through two locked secure doors, into my apartment. I do remember that I got terribly sick and on my knees paid homage to the porcelain god.
I never usually got sick. I would always come home on that Sunday morning from the bar, turn on the tv and sink into sleep with a movie playing on the VCR. I worked a Sunday – Wednesday schedule, so I would get a little sleep in order to be at work by noon on Sunday.
I prayed for that hangover.
The second prayer I said was for God to put an alcoholic in my path, which actually did happen, within days of uttering that prayer. That person eventually took me back to my first meeting.
I sat through a Gay meeting of A.A. but did not connect with anyone, nor did anyone notice me coming or going. So I waited outside for the next meeting which was at 10, and that’s when I met Fonda and Ed and a bevy of other alcoholics, who hugged and welcomed me. I sat with them and got sober with them, and we are still friends to this day, however far apart we are, thanks to Facebook, we are just a short note away from each other.
Consequently, that bar I used to drink in (Salvation) soon closed and never reopened. And I joke that the best drunk left the building so they had to close. I had to walk past that building to get to the Sober on South Beach Group.
What I remember from that time after my last drunk, was the feelings of shame and demoralization I felt. And how long it took me to come to see myself in better light. When I went out, I left my handful of friends with no explanation nor warning that I was skipping town. I did not tell anyone what I was up to, except for the woman who was moving away as well, because we shared a moving truck.
When I returned to Miami and got sober, I hid on the beach, hoping that I would NOT run into my old friends because I felt so ashamed at the major jackpot I found myself in and kicking myself that I did that to myself with no way out, it was total insanity.
But news travels fast in certain circles. And the folks on the mainland found out that I was getting sober on the beach, and it was Christmas Eve 2001, that we met in the Poinciana meeting one night. I got lots of hugs, but I could not escape the looks of sorrow on the faces of folks, because I was at a bottom, and was working my way back.
I am sober today – in spite of myself. Because of the goodness of God and the members who took me in when I most needed it. I remember those times fondly, because many folks broke bread with me, shared their homes with me and helped me regain my dignity and for that I will always be grateful.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
We are sitting at (0c) at this hour, and a little snow is falling over the city.
We have been trying to stir things up at T.B.’s … To get some new folks into rotation with jobs and responsibility. I departed home a few minutes past five, with two stops en route. I arrived close to 5:30 and opened the church.
A handful of women must have been waiting for me in the wings, because I got there later than usual, but I was hoping that some of my new hires would show up to learn the ropes. And I was rewarded with one, and a handful of women come to read their books, so I got our youngster on coffee and kitchen duty, while I pounded out tables and chairs.
With a group of people, it takes very little time to crank out set up.
I was in the chair this and next week. And we read from Living Sober. Tonight’s topic was : Telephone therapy.
They tell us, over and over again that we need to go to meetings, show up early and leave late, join a home group, do service, and get phone numbers. Because when push comes to shove and you are sitting in a place that a drink is near, picking up that phone just might save your life.
We heard tonight many people share of just WHY they cannot bring themselves to pick up the phone. Some folks get on the rat wheel before even picking up the phone by engaging in inner dialogue with themselves about what the other person (whom they are about to call) will say to them before they say it !!!
There are hundreds of excuses why we cannot pick up the phone. For newcomers, that phone weighs 2000 pounds. It was suggested that if we give a phone number – get one back, so that if in over 48 hours that call doesn’t come, that we ourselves have a number to call and check on them.
I have a bunch of phone numbers on my phone. And I use the phone on a regular basis. I enjoy conversation and the back and forth. But it comes to pass that I am the one who always makes the Out Call. Very rarely does anyone call me even though my number is out there.
And I resolved this year that I wasn’t going to chase people to be friends. I see my fellows at meetings, and I have a lot of friends, in the meetings, but back at home, I don’t ever talk to many of them, many of my friends are women, and they stick with their own. They guys it is a bit harder to get them on the phone, but I did give out my number tonight to a newbie. He’s got a little over a month in and he does coffee for our Sunday meeting.
Reluctant sponsee came to the meeting tonight. With two days under his belt the topic was apropos, and I asked him to read the Steps, which he choked over. Hopefully he will heed direction this time around and really take suggestions and do what is asked of him, because if he doesn’t – he will drink again …
We sat a full compliment tonight, as one of our direct competitor meetings was shut for the night so we carried a good number from that meeting. Many of our attendees have days, some weeks, and many with less than a year sober. And with such a full room, we didn’t get all the way around to give everyone time to share, however I remind folks to be brief, I usually will never interrupt someone when they are speaking. Unless of course some (go on and on and on …)
A good night was had by all.
Next week, Remembering Your Last Drunk, Living Sober #20.
More to come, stay tuned …
The day was bright, the sky was blue, flecked with cloud. A bit on the cold and damp side, once the sun went down. It will be a mixed bag tomorrow with temps rising above the zero mark, snow and rain in the same day. Mother Nature cannot decide what to give us.
I was up and out early this afternoon because I had stops to make along the way, our coffee man was busy working in the kitchen when I arrived, saintly music was playing from his Iphone. It was very heavenly.
We sat a good handful of folks, and we finished up “We Agnostics.” Who are we to say there is no God? God is everything or else He is nothing, God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?
What happens when an alcoholic takes back his will and for a moment ponders the thought that “yes, I can drink like regular folks.” We drink.
Reluctant sponsee came to the meeting and sat down, everything seemed normal, but that was not the case. When the 12 Step rep got up and did his thing, he offered the chip and reluctant sponsee got up and took a chip.
I had not gone by his daily gratitude list. Over the past few weeks, he left our group for greener pastures of another meeting, following his sponsor. But even that did not keep him from another drink. It only takes a moment of indecision and a moment of weakness to do the deed.
You never see it coming, but when it happens it is very sad. I guess Sobriety Lost Its Priority. One night, One bottle of Gin, sitting home alone in front of the tv …
Our man did not pick up the phone. He did not stop to think, think, think…
All the spiritual principles in the book will not keep a man sober, if he is not connected to his higher power and another member and to a meeting.
He Will Drink Again …
One night’s quest to ponder and act upon the thought that “oh, I’m not an alcoholic, I can drink like a regular person.”
I imagine that in that moment he felt hopeless and powerless, and in that moment as he lifted that first drink to his lips, that taking back his will would be sufficient to prove he wasn’t an alcoholic, after all, really …
Now he returns to step one. and starts over again. What will be different this time? What will he do differently to insure that he doesn’t take another drink again? And what did he learn from these drinks he took this time, that put him over the edge?
What DIDN’T he do that he should have done to insure that he would not drink again? We can only speculate.
Constant Vigilance is the code for any alcoholic. Because it only takes a moment and a thought and we could end up right where our man did last night, bottle in hand and drink down his throat…
Where was God? And why did He not stop what was to happen?
You know, some people need to bang their heads against a stone again to see if the pain will be the same. We can only Pray for our man, that this momentary SLIP of mind and body does not happen again.
It is sad really, that he pissed away the time he had under his belt, but you know, From here we begin again, from the beginning. I’m going to do things my way and put myself in harms way, that is the great conundrum for us alcoholics, that “one day we will be able to drink like normal drinkers …”
Pray I never want to utter these words, and lift to my lips a drink of alcohol.
Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful and Patient.
Alcoholism sits out in the parking lot doing pushups while we are inside of a meeting, just waiting for us to come out … It waits for that moment that we are weakest, where we loose contact with a power greater than ourselves, in that moment that we take back our will and lift a drink to our lips.
I never want to forget what that felt like. I don’t ever want to drink again.
And hopefully our man will never take another drink again.
Let us Pray for him, and lift him up to God. You are not alone.
The week has begun and things are moving as they will. It is (-10c/-15c w.c.) at this hour, and they tell us that flurries are on tap overnight.
We have been changing things up at the meeting. Trying to find jobs for new members of the group. If you give someone a job, they take on responsibility and the show up every week to do their service. So I have wrangled three new members to come and learn set up next week. Things this week were a bit dodgy and emails weren’t read and folks couldn’t make it …
I left early because I wanted to scope out the mall and more changes have been made to the footprint of the ground floor. It seems many more of the shops that sat in the approach to the Metro platform have been closed. Yellow, the Florist, Laura Secord, and another corner store have all been shuttered. I don’t know if they are being moved to the other side of the large open space, we shall see.
I arrived around 5 o’clock and got the coffee and water urn perking and I waited until someone showed up to finish setting up. We had a rush of women show up around 6 so we all pushed out tables and chairs.
Turn out tonight was WAY up. We sat more than 60 folks. They just kept coming and coming, and we used up all the chairs we had. Many of the newbies who made their first meeting last week, on the anniversary, returned this week. And a new handful of newbies came as well. It is obvious that we are doing something right because numbers are up as of late.
We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 2 … Came to believe that a Power Greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity…
… When we encountered A.A., the fallacy of our defiance was revealed. At no time had we asked what God’s will was for us; instead we had been telling Him what it ought to be. No man, we saw, could believe in God and defy Him, too, belief meant reliance not defiance…pg.31
Once again the shares went around the room, and of course we talked about GOD once again. We heard all those things you hear from newbies in the room, and from one of our old timers as well … “What is with all this God shit ???”
For most readers, we now refer you to the Appendix 2 of the Big Book and the reading Spiritual Experience.
We hear all those sayings that give us pause over the god bit like Good Orderly Direction, Group of Drunks, and Get Out Doors… We even heard from a newbie, with some time under his belt share that he has been attending young people’s meetings here in the city, and that some, have re-written the steps to void any mention of the word God.
He found that disconcerting that people with days and weeks were re-writing the steps to serve their own needs, instead of working the steps are they are written in all the texts.
Eventually, at one point or another, we come, we come to, and then we come to believe. God is not absolute or the end all be all, because some come and they find the power that works for them, but for many, in the end, we come back around to the word GOD.
I share my story about my SLIP being one big disaster. And how long it took me to find my way back. I was in no hurry and I needed God to step in and He did. I was pretty raw and ashamed. I earned a few months sober before coming here and I hit a lot of meetings.
The God I knew from childhood, I mused, now in hindsight, is not the same God that I know today. I came to meetings, my home group for one, with a list of expectations and what I thought were entitlements. Since I returned and I had a little time, I thought, God would give me what I wanted.
The old timers kept telling me to Keep Coming Back, and Stay in my Day. It took me eighteen months to learn how to do that. One day at a time. Little by slowly, God reduced my list to nothing …
In the end I got what I needed and not what I wanted. I began to trust people at their words. I listened to them like my life depended on it. Because it did. I learned to wait upon God. And over the last eleven years I have learned to look for God, to listen for his voice and to see him move in a meeting.
Stay around for a while, and you will come to realize that God exists.
The steps were written in a certain order, with certain words to say something particular. When Bill penned the steps it was with a pencil and a yellow pad, sitting in bed one night. The steps came easily to him, but it was the traditions that took a bit longer to work out and codify them into being.
There is not really a way around it, eventually we admit our powerlessness, we come to believe and we surrender. Then Spiritual Experience is possible, because if you are holding on white knuckling it – eventually you will tire of hanging on in such a way that letting go becomes a good possibility.
In the end one of our new members earned her three month chip. It took her ten years to amass three months sober time consecutively. We were so proud of her. Secondly, another one of our members took her year. Another proud moment for the group. Lots of newcomers at their first meeting tonight.
We had cake, we had lots of conversation. A good night was had by all.
That is all.
More to come, stay tuned …
I’ve always wanted a reason to use this image …
It has been a very cold past few days. FRIGID by Montreal standards. We are sitting at (-20c with a wind chill of -27c) at this hour. The wind chill is going to drop to a bitter (-38c) overnight.
The past couple of days we’ve been keeping inside. Tomorrow I see the doctor for my latest round of numbers. We shall see how he decides to “shake things up” in my treatment plan.
Today I was up and around early. I set out early because I had stops to make on the way out and as bitter as it has been out, the getting there was the goal, without freezing on the way.
I arrived at the church close to 5 and I had just opened the store room and was heading towards the kitchen with my coffee urns and people began to arrive and the room wasn’t even set up yet.
The group met for our monthly business meeting. And many of our members showed up and we made some new decisions about the money in the kitty, how we were going to spend our surplus, to buy books and pamphlets, and for the anniversary party next week.
We invested in the Grapevine last year and it doesn’t get much traction, we sell three copies within the group and not many people avail themselves of the literature table at all, so we decided not to renew another year. Instead we will spend that money on books for newcomers and for the group.
It was a packed house again tonight. Our most loyal lady member spoke to me before the meeting, and from where she sits, on many committees in this city, our group is doing something right because we have been able to maintain good numbers for more than 2 years.
The chair read from the Big Book and Page 417.
Acceptance is the key to all my problems today. 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. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
This passage tucked farther back in the book, past the first 164 pages of the book, is important to us to be able to learn how to live life on life’s terms. And it was good to go back and read this portion of the book tonight.
While the share went around the room I was formulating what I wanted to say tonight. In hindsight the word acceptance pops up many times in the past, because there were many moments in my life, in the past that I had no choice but to accept life on life’s terms.
In 1994, when I was approaching my last drunk, I was diagnosed with AIDS, a fatal, and terminal disease. And instead of acceptance, I attempted to kill myself with the drink. Thankfully I failed at that attempt, and people and powers greater than myself took over and began to care for me, when I could not or did not have the knowledge to take care of myself.
When doctors tell you that you are going to die, and give you your end date – what do you do? There were two choices. I could go out in a blaze of glory, like some of my friends did, OR, I could buckle down and accept the sentence and turn my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) as I understood him.
I stayed sober and I stayed alive. I waited to die all along, and when I got to the date that I was supposed to die, and I was still alive, the next question was “what do I do next?” Well, you stay alive and you go to meetings and you come to work and do as you are told, trust us and we will help keep you alive.
It was very easy to say, but it was a challenge to turn my life over to God (read: Todd). But it worked. I stayed sober. For the first four years.
I made my bed and I lied in it and sobriety lost it priority and I had to do this all over again. And the second time I came to the rooms, I was much older, but still stuck in my twenties. I was hoping that the drink would magically turn me into a buff, blond beach boy with six pack abs. Well, that didn’t happen.
I had to accept that I was no longer in my twenties and that I was heading into my thirties and my behavior had to change, however I kicked and screamed on the floor like a five year old.
Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems.
Over the past eleven years, I have been able to practice the art of acceptance. And it was shared as well tonight, the use of prayer and many folks have realized the “real” way to pray the Serenity Prayer. It’s not about YOU – it’s about ME.
There are those two words, YOU and ME, again…
It must be a sign that these two words have come up again in discussion, which means that many of us have something to work with for the next little while. Which is good. I get to trust, turn it over and let go and let God.
The share did not get all the way around the room, there wasn’t enough time so a number of folks got left on the roadside. There was a lot of hanging out after the meeting. It being bitterly cold out, folks were wanting to stay in the hall and not venture out into the cold.
A good night was had by all. Next week we shall party our 55 years anniversary. My sponsor has been hunting around for old timers who came to our meeting some 40 plus years ago to complete our group history lesson to be read next week.
A good friend of mine, who has been very sick for a while and ended up needing a liver transplant – got that transplant a couple of months ago. We all have been praying and pulling for her in her days of recovery, and she came to our meeting tonight – looking very well – alive – and happy to be given a second chance at life. This was a very exciting part of the night for me.
More to come, stay tuned …
It has been bitterly cold. The weather has been changing by the hour here today. What began as snow/rain squalls earlier today has turned into clear skies and bitter cold. The Temps at this hour are (-12c/-24c with the wind chill).
It was an uneventful weekend. But it has also been very productive for me, in ways that are different from the usual days in and out. I am enjoying my daily routine of getting up early, getting things done, and having my afternoon nap with hubby. I am really loving sleep. Because I’ve been practicing my prayer and meditation and shutting down my brain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it seems to be working very well.
I am finding that it is in simple things that make my heart sing. I am taking bits of my day and learning to be satisfied with that, instead of woofing a huge plate of things. For some, who suffer from “more, more and more” it is a daily grace to be satisfied with a nibble. And this relates to our reading from today.
I set off early for the meeting. I was looking forwards to seeing if the mall had made any other significant changes to its floor plan. And that hasn’t changed in the past week. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t.
I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and settle in for the meeting, On the way our chair texted me and asked me to chair for him tonight, which was cool with me. We cover for each other when it is necessary.
We sat a fair number of folks. With different amounts of time. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 4, “We Agnostics.” It was a short read tonight which ended in the Appendix II, “A Spiritual Experience.”
… We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer
We are instructed, early in the Big Book, to refer to this reading amid the text of the book. I remember hearing it read at other times as we have begun reading the book from the beginning this time around.
The notion of “finding our own conception of God” is taught to us from the very beginning. Because we find that many have differences of opinions about God, be he religious or not. But in reading the book, coming to meetings and sharing with another brings perspective about this “notion of God.”
I’ve written about my God in the Pages “Naked and Sacred” and how I was introduced to God as a child. And I followed that God for the whole of my life.
At one point in my life the “powers that be” suggested that I might want to pursue God in seminary. And I eventually did that. I loved God, I loved being with God and praying and studying God. And for a year I did that with reckless abandon.
But in the end, the man who decided our fates brought me in and told me that I would not be returning for a second year, that I had not shown enough zeal or that maybe, I just didn’t jive with my fellows very well. I was just a boy, trying to find my way in a system that was bent towards ego instead of selflessness.
I guess you would say that I was very angry with God. I returned to my home and went to work with friends. And my alcoholism really got out of control. For the next several years I drank my way through life. And I did some stupid things.
So the story goes, I grew up, I drank, I got sick, and I got sober. I stayed sober because of the men who took hold of my life and helped me survive. God manifested himself in the guise of Todd, in all things. He did for me, what I could not do for myself. God made manifest in my life in great sweeping actions. God looked down on a simple boy and saved his life.
But as time went by, the universe shifted and I found myself left to my own devices. Without that controlling force in my life, I had no one to rely upon and soon I was off to the races and out the sober doorway and into hell.
Years would pass and I found my way back to the rooms. I relied on people to help me stay sober. With folks who took it upon themselves to see me sober once again, on a daily basis. I needed fellowship, someone to look to, someone to hold their hands with.
When I moved here and found my home group I had my list of wants. But the old timers kept telling me to “keep coming back” and “one day at a time.” It took me a long time to learn how to stay in my day. To learn about God, as the book directs us, and I did that.
My then sponsor, David was a godsend. We were attached at the hip for a years time. We did everything together. We grew quite close, and I loved him. They gave me my fourth edition, we read it, worked our steps and went to meetings.
At the end of a year, he still had his ego and our relationship ended. A rather sad ending. Bitter words were spoken and he cursed me saying that “I would drink again…”
On my first anniversary my addictions counselor asked me “Now that you have stayed sober for a year, what are you going to do for yourself?” I decided to go back to school. Which was the logical thing to do since the government payed my way through University.
I was sober. One day at a time. My fascination with God was apparent, since I joined the department of Religious Studies at Concordia, and met my now best friend and mentor Donald. I spent the next seven years studying God every way from Sunday. I have two degrees, in Religion and Pastoral Ministry. And I came away from university wanting more.
Since I did not make it in seminary, my thought was that if I can’t seek God through the church, I would seek him outside the church. I would climb that ladder to God from the outside of the building.
Donald, today is a deacon and will be ordained a priest this year. It was mentioned to me in passing some time ago that maybe I should consider Holy Orders. I’ve been sitting on that thought for a long time.
In order to do that I would need to complete the last pillar of good Christian practice, which is finding and settling into an active prayerful Christian community, like the Anglican Cathedral where I worship on the odd occasion. I have yet to make that kind of commitment.
That does not mean that I do not seek God in my daily life. Learning the A to Z of God, studying traditions and religions from all the major faiths in the world, East and West, left me wanting more. I had studied God, By the Book. Now I needed to incorporate that into my life.
Ten years into sobriety, I was ready for some excitement. And I got that in spades. My eleventh anniversary passed with little fanfare, this past December and I’ve been living one day at a time for ever and a day. And God has been showing me new ideas and I spoke today about that “more” mentality.
Wanting more – from my perspective is a very broad view. I look to open sky and my vision is of everything that is possible. And I’ve been learning, over the recent past that, I can’t have everything.
And I need to be satisfied with a little bit each day. I’ve been learning how to focus my needs to one simple idea a day, or one word a day, or one passage or prayer a day.
I’ve been practicing the “Parsing of Sobriety.” I’ve read, indulged and re-read the book. And like any good alcoholic, we always want MORE. You know what it is like to sit in front of a full plate of “MORE” food, and know that you can’t possibly eat all that food on one go… It is like I am on a spiritual diet.
Last week a friend offered me a prayer in his words. Subtle but effective. And I took those two words he spoke (YOU) and (ME). And so I settled into the notion of You and Me. And I have been satisfied with two words. And I meditate on those words daily, and I find that satisfying. Which relates back to my daily routine.
We read from the book today. And we talked about finding our own concept of a God of our understanding, and I heard twenty five different ideas, to chew on for the next week. And we read from Appendix II. Spiritual Experience.
Over the last eleven years, I have learned about God, and I’ve seen him make His presence known to a room full of people. I’ve seen God’s light come down from the church and alight on people’s heads and into their lives. So I am sure that God exists, I am totally sure of that fact today.
I’m still alive. I know who told my heart to beat. And I am present to my breath.
There is a particular one young girl who I have come to know in the rooms, and she has been hoofing it every day. She struggles with “thirst” yet she keeps coming back. She is amid her steps and she’s doing the work.
And for the last two to three months I find myself whispering her name to God in my daily prayers. But whispering people’s names to God is something that I just do … I so want her to stick around. And as a man, I must stay a step apart, because men work with the men and the women work with the women.
But today I stopped her after the meeting and told her that yes, I have been praying especially for her every day.
And that made a difference for her today.
God is alive, and he is tending the flock, every person, every day.
I am grateful for simplicity. I have “enough” today and I don’t need “more.”
And I am good with that.
It was a great night. More to come, stay tuned …
The day was bright with lots of sun. It has been very mild in the city over the last few days. We are sitting at (-1c) at this hour, and flurries are on tap overnight, but we shall see. Much of the snow on the ground is melting. On the way to the church there is snow piled up here and there. But the lawn in front of the church is popping up amid melting snow.
We were up early today and we did our supermarket safari this afternoon instead of waiting for the afternoon rush hour. I had to take bottles back today. I attempted to do that the other day, but the bottle warriors beat me to the machine, with their loads and loads of bottles and cans.
It is a gamble if you bring back your recyclables and be able to use the machine. There was somebody at the machine when I got down there and I started running my bottles into the machine and 3 bottles in it stopped, the bag was full, which is when you have to go alert the speed cashier to tell a bag boy to come and collect the full bag and reset the machine. Thankfully, that got done quickly and I finished running my bottles.
A few of our newbies told me last week that they would show up early to help set up so I was going to leave close to 5 o’clock, but I was ancy so I called them to confirm, and a good bunch of folks are sick with the flu and they all skipped the meeting.
I left around 4:30 and walked through the mall.
I noticed today that the new Target has taken up a larger footprint, on the ground floor – it keeps growing one day to the next. Now they have appropriated all the space in the mall proper closer to the Metro tunnel entrance. Many of the phone kiosks that were located to that (right side) of the ground floor are now gone. And the new work wall sits about 50 feet from the front of the existing edifice (of the old Zellers) proper.
They have pushed all the way out possible from the front of the empty store and on the left of the entrance, down the entire side of the mall proper. On the right hand side moving left to right, from center, all the way down to the Yellow shoe store, which is about as far as they can push sideways/outwards into the mall walkway moving towards the gateway arch into the metro station.
It is a lot of space.
There is one diner kiosk that sits back to back with the new work wall (right of center) that has not been moved – yet !!! And they have put up the new front work wall right up to the back of the chairs that sit around the little diner.
All this space appropriation means that Target will have a very large footprint on the ground floor. In moving outwards into the mall proper, the walk way from the escalators from the mezzanine floor (street level) is cut by half.
If they appropriate more storefront property from the mall, that would kill the two existing diners that still sit where they have sat for years. The store is going to be BIG. We will see how much more space they may take up in the coming weeks.
The floor plans seems to be divide and conquer, because they keep changing up the footprint. There is not much more space they can take from existing vendors that occupy what is left of the ground floor. I did notice that there is a welcome sign on the front of the construction wall directly in front of what I assume will be the store front proper.
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Since I was alone, set up went by rather quickly, and I was finished by 5 o’clock. and I sat outside for a while until the girls started showing up. We were a full house tonight. We sat 46 folks. The chair has us read from Chapter 2 of the Big Book, “There is A Solution.”
“We have no desire to convince anyone that there is only one way by which faith can be acquired. If what we have learned and felt and seen means anything at all, it means that all of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.” pg. 28
We reflect on these words. This chapter offers us “A” solution. Which if you stick around a while becomes “THE” solution. They say that in the beginning we come to the rooms, then we “come to” and finally we “come to believe.”
Alcoholism is a disease of mind and body. And one day, if you stick around, you may have a spiritual experience that will change the game for you. As it has for countless others. Long time sobriety is contingent on the state of our spiritual condition on any given day.
On my anniversary, friends gave me a packet of all the prayers in the Book, which I have sitting here by the computer. I use them here and there. And today I realized that I need to use them every day.
I’ve been talking about the rat on the wheel situation, and I heard one of our ladies speak to this thought tonight as well. Once we stop drinking, and we find the solution to the drink problem, what comes next is the Think Problem.
And I allowed my brain to basically move out of my day. The further I spread my brain the more trouble I find myself in. Which means I have to reign in my brain and focus on today. With the 24 hours that I have today. And I have to listen to my friend Will when he iterates the Serenity Prayer thus …
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOU)
The courage to change the things I can (ME)
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
It was so simple, and I missed the cue for days. So Simple, two words, YOU and ME. When you parse the prayer into its constituent pieces it becomes so easy. And today we read from There is “A” solution. Thank god for simplicity.
Because I can really complicate things … so do we all at times.
We had two cakes. Two of our members took cakes. Both women, one took her 5 year cake … And we share this thought, at 5 years you hear that POP sound, which is your head coming out of your ass.
5 is a good round number.
You come in, you take your multiple months, then your year, then two, then five, ten, twenty and so on and so forth. And if you stick around you get to our second cake and that was 21 years. The women at our group are a tight bunch. And the sober sisters grow a little larger this year. They all keep us in line.
We had cake, lots of cake. Lots of new folks. Lots of conversation. A good night was had by all. Everybody left with food for thought. Which is always good.
Wau Lam… that is all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Tomorrow is New Years Eve. And it will definitely be a cold one in the Big Apple. This year some folks I know from the Tubes will be in the crowd watching the ball fall and ring in the New Year in the middle of it all.
I went back and perused some old posts from the past year, like my prospectuses and I chose one post per month to see where my head was and whether or not it was screwed on in the right direction. But let’s start with some numbers shall we?
In the year 2011 … I posted 260 posts. Uploaded 404 photos and we ranked 28,000 page views in that calendar year.
In the year 2012 … I posted 272 posts. Uploaded 326 photos and we ranked 47,000 page views in the last calendar year.
That is a rise of 19,000 views.
The goal I had set was to best 28,000 page views and You did that.
To date there are 99 followers of the blog. Which has grown exponentially in the last year. Somebody at Word Press pushed a button for me and the last year has seen an explosion of visitors from 160 countries from all over the world. Ranked first was the United States, Second was Canada, and in Third Place is the United Kingdom.
I don’t know what turned the tide, but I was consistent with my writing, as you all came on board and the numbers began to rise, I wrote more. With the new “LIKE” feature, several weeks went by and I hit records with “liked” posts.
I can only guess that where ever you are you enjoy reading what it is that I write about. And I appreciate all that you have given me this past year.
Let’s see, what do I want to say next? I hit more than 200 meetings in 2012. Which span four nights a week at one point. But I backed down to three for the last 8 to 9 months.
I will start with my 10th sober anniversary. On December 9th 2011. A few months prior to that anniversary, I was bored with my routine, and I was looking for something exciting to happen. I was going to a certain meeting on a Friday night, a speaker meeting. There was an old timer whom I became friends with and he introduced me to many books about the Real Old Timers. One of those books was called 1000 Years of Sobriety. 20 stories from men and women who have been sober more than 50 years.
I joined that group eventually. And did service there for a few months. The culmination of my time there afforded me a Gold Dipped 10 year Medallion on my 10th anniversary. I also got my first Tattoo for the occasion.
But you know, when it comes to people, if you piss me off, I usually write you off. And I had beef with a man who turned me away from service and then I had some readers who would critique what I was writing and bash me for some of the things I was writing. If you don’t like what is here, then go away !!! I got good practice in De-Friending people on Facebook. I stopped going to that meeting and withdrew my membership. Because after a while, I came to see that I didn’t want what they were peddling.
At our Home Group of Tuesday Beginners, we grew from three members setting up and hosting two meetings a week, One a discussion and the other a Speaker meeting, we dropped the speaker and changed format to a Literature Discussion meeting at 7pm on Tuesday night. One night our most dedicated ladies came and said that she had come to join the group because she heard we needed help. And after that more than twenty women followed her.
These Women with Lots of Sobriety came. And they brought their sponsees to the meeting. And now Tuesday Beginners has 23 members. More than half of them are women. I open the room early and every week, like clockwork, they come in two’s and three’s and four’s to read for an hour. And I have grown to love these women with all my heart. They have done great things for many people.
We have become a tributary of New York City. Many of our girls are city gals who travel between Montreal and New York. And we have adopted many practices from New York at our meeting. There are so many folks that there aren’t enough jobs to go around, so we shortened the chair to two week stints, we have a gaggle of greeters, and directors for sponsorship, set up and clean up and literature folks.
The best new thing of the year is that we have a fair amount of LGBT folks at our meeting. Something that I am very proud of. For many years, LGBT folks were scattered around the city – and you would see them here and there. There is an entire city of LGBT folks in the rooms. And we have our own handful and I try to take good care of them. I share all my big events with my people. We are an open and welcoming group to all who come.
This past Winter 2011, saw me work my steps again. I started in a step group, just prior to my 10th anniversary. And I was slated to speak on my anniversary and the chair of the step group gave me a smart ass comment, which did not go over very well. Needless to say I didn’t finish my steps with them. I left the group and worked them directly with my sponsor.
I had a sponsee for a season. And that did not go very well either. And now we are no longer friends and we don’t hit the same meetings either, which is good. Words were said, egos and feelings were hurt, and nothing came of that. Sad.
I could not see sponsoring someones Face Book Statuses. That’s not how it works.
That left me free for the balance of the year to maintain my weekly routine.
I finished School at Dawson College last Spring 2012. I had used up all the credit hours that the province gave me and racked up some good grades, in the end I came away with some new knowledge having taken many different courses over two years time. And when that ended that put A LOT of time on my hands, to find something to do with.
I wrote the State of Our Union in January setting forth hubby’s time line of what was going to happen when. He was supposed to finish his M.A. last summer, and that did not happen. Thank you mental illness.
We were supposed to be riding high on the hog because with his M.A. he would be gainfully employed teaching, but he decided that teaching was not what he now wants to do. Which will parlay into some marketing job in the near future.
New income was supposed to see us into bigger digs not far from here, and we were going to furnish that space with new furniture and really great decor. And that did not happen. Hubby is still writing his thesis for his supervisor. She granted him a shit load of time to work on it. I was more “put a stick up his ass” and make him finish it already, but he is taking his sweet old time. Which keeps me in this holding pattern until he actually does finish his thesis.
We saw his best friend finish and defend her M.A. in the summertime, and now she is back here in Montreal working on her PHD. Hubby could have been there too if he hadn’t fucked off on his work for so long.
We are managing the house we live in and we are living inside of our means. We live very simple lives. This year also afforded me some of the promises. Some of the promises that have been elusive to me came to pass this year, which is a great blessing.
To date, I have lived another calendar year. Which brings us to my 18th year living with AIDS. The pills are working well. And I have been in good health for the entire year. A good year is one that nothing goes wrong with you, like flu or pneumonia or any other AIDS related sickness.
I haven’t dropped labs in some time, and I need to do that because I see the doctor in January, and they are going to have to push that back because I haven’t gone up the hill to do labs. My doctor did say at my last appointment that new meds were coming down the pike and that he would be changing up my pills in opt for some new ones that are once a day dosing and not twice. In his words, I am taking too many pills. I’ve been taking too many pills for a long time.
What have I learned this year? I’ve learned that I live simply and love deeply. Hubby and I are on the same page in many ways. We get along well and we take care of each other. I like this story that on our anniversary, hubby went to a store and bought a card, signed it and enveloped it. The next day, our anniversary I went to a second store and bought a card. Signed it and enveloped it too. And when we opened them, the cards were exactly the same card.
Every year you stay sober, in the beginning it is an outside job. You get to clean up and sort out your life. You read the books, and work your steps and things begin to change. Now that I am beyond my first decade of sobriety, it has come to pass that it has been a very inside job for me.
I have foibles and short comings. I did not do everything right this year. I made some crucial mistakes. I upset some folks, and I ended some relationships that were not working out. I don’t do well with egos and attitudes, or assholes and stupidity. Ignorant is right up there as well.
I turn back to my books that keep me on the beam. I Heard the Owl Call my Name and Nobody to Call me home. I’ve learned a lot about people in the last year. Some good, and some not so good.
I’ve read a number of books this year.
- The Bishops Man
- I Heard the Owl Call my Name
- No One to call me Home
- The Alchemist
- The Way is made by Walking
- Looking for Alaska
- Harry Potter – assorted
- The Historian
- The Wounded Healer
- The Life of Pi
- We Need to Talk about Kevin
- Many Live Many Masters
- John the Baptizer
- Christ the Lord Out of Egypt
- Memory and Identity JP II
- Why He is a Saint – JP II
- The God Box
- Out on Holy Ground
- From Boys to Men
- Halfway Home
- Living on Borrowed Time
- The Betrayal
- John Paul the Great
That’s a long list.
I think I am finished writing this piece. I’ve hit all my bullet point on my outline and I covered the bases on what is going on in my life today. The goal for the next year is to best my numbers that I posted earlier tonight.
Welcome to all my new followers. And as always, if you want me to talk about something or you have a topic that you would like me to write about just drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you all for the great year, let’s now turn our eyes to 2013.
I am sure there is more to come, stay tuned …