Courtesy: Heath (Iheefz) Chicago Photography
It rained … all . day . long …
Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella. And Lawd knows how I hate carrying my huge umbrella anywhere. But this morning it was necessary because we had to travel in . the . rain.
A few days ago, hubby mentioned his graduation ceremony was coming up but he wasn’t expecting me to attend because it was, in his words, “long and boring!” The topic came back up the other night and he once again intoned that he wasn’t expecting me to go … and I replied “Why Wouldn’t I??? “
Two years work. Watching him toil night and day pounding out his thesis and defense for his M.A. I went to his defense. We were all so proud of him. And so today was the culmination of all that work, a 15 second walk across a stage in front of his peers to get his M.A. Diploma.
The program opened with bagpipes, piping in the graduates, then the faculty.
And One very special man – LtGen. The Honorable Romeo A. Dallaire (Ret’d), O.C. ,CMM,GOQ, MSC,CD, B.ES., LLD , Senator.
He was presented with an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters.
And he gave a short speech for the graduates and encouraged them to step up and be change in Canada. Because in politics and government, he spoke, they have not risen to their ultimate abilities.
2017, is a special date and there are a confluence of dates and events, anniversaries and commemorations that will come during 2017, and Canada does not have a plan to mark the occasions.
Offering questions in the Senate and to the M.P’s in Parliament, what is the plan and what are we going to do ? the answer was – We Don’t Know !!!
This is our time to rise. To become active in the affairs of the nation be it in your community, your home, your job or your country, He encouraged us all to become change.
He spoke a bit about the children in Rwanda and the deaths and situations he witnessed. He spoke of a young boy, sitting in the road there in Rwanda distended, poor and in need (in a bad way), looked in those boys eyes, and the vision of his sons eyes came to mind.
He encouraged us to go abroad and work in developing countries. To see, witness, feel and participate in the lives of those who need more than they have today. They have very little, compared to the have’s and the have not’s in the developed world.
It was a tall request. But not out of reach. If you know where to look.
I know of people in Europe and the U.K. who actually go to Africa and other trouble spots in the developing world to work for charities helping those who need it most.
It is part of Gap Year work, Charity work, and just a great character building exercise to spend time in a place that will change the person you are, just by your presence.
We don’t often think about traveling so far away – it isn’t a North America thought, just because it is “over there” out of sight, out of mind.
But numbers of Canadians do great work in Africa and areas beyond.
If I could do it, I would. But the time needs to be right.
*** *** *** ***
Once hubby did his walk across the stage, he was in the first two rows of graduates, he texted me. I was sitting about ten rows behind him on the aisle so we could make a quick getaway. The ceremony started at 3 p.m. and I needed to be at the church at 5, so we made our way out shortly after the B.A.’s started their march to the stage.
We took some photos with his cape and gown and degree for his parents, turned in his robes, and we came home. We got back around 4:30. And I was back out the door at quarter to Five.
And . It . Rained …
I arrived at the church, a little damp and the hall was a bit damp and cold. I cranked out chairs and tables. My sponsor showed up a few minutes after I arrived to make coffee and help with set up.
Little gift …
At the roundup a couple of weeks ago, all the shares were taped for mass consumption and sold on site. For quite a chunk of money. So a few folks bought a master copy of all the shares. And now they have been duplicated and are being shared amongst us.
I had mentioned that I wanted a copy of them, and one of our sober women did the duplicates and brought them to the meeting tonight. But there were a few women who have not heard them, like we got to hear them live, so I told her to give them to someone who hasn’t heard them yet before I get them.
I was sitting in my chair waiting for folks to show up and one of my friends came up and handed me a cd, with all the shares and more on it. Just because !
Then I was standing near our literature table talking to some folks, and my sponsor walked up and had a gift for me. He was given a cache of Big Books and other texts we use regularly. And from a private collection, he has already given me a copy of the original manuscript of the Big Book. Tonight he had another book for me … A Second Edition of the Big Book.
Which has an extra large collection of stories in the back of the book.
There are four editions of the Big Book in circulation. First editions are rare and cost a pretty penny. Seconds and Thirds are in circulation. But for the most part, unless you need a 2 or 3, Inter-group sells Fourth Editions, solely.
The Book, Experience, Strength and Hope is a collection of stories from Editions 1 , 2 and 3. We read that book on Sunday Nights some time ago.
But now I get to read all the stories from the book in the Second Edition.
The meeting was packed. Which was good. Lots of newcomers. And great opportunities for our girls to get out there and pound the pavement.
We read from Living Sober, page 10 – Live and Let Live …
A good topic. Lots of good shares. Many people all over the place on the slogans.
Live and Let Live
Easy Does It
But for the Grace of God
Think, Think, Think
First things First
You see them posted at every meeting we go to in the city. Keeping our side of the street clean. Not getting into other folks drama. What people think of me is none of my business. I am powerless over people, places and things.
I can’t change you – I can only change me.
And people are struggling with this slogan. On a daily basis.
It was a good night. Fun was had. I walked home.
A good day over all Me thinks.
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…
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 rained today. But more sun is on the way for tomorrow and much warmer temps by the end of the week.
The FLU has been a formidable foe here at home. It just won’t go away. And I’ve been plying hubby with pills and trying to get him to eat every day. I’ve been shopping for foods that he will eat and be able to keep down. I cooked for us last night and have left overs for tonight’s dinner. He asked for Indian for dinner tonight so I bought him a couple of meals that hopefully he will eat.
We’ve been hitting the hay earlier than usual for the last week. Which has totally thrown my schedule off – but sleep is something we need. My nightly ritual has been chopped to death and my body is not responding with proper working.
I was up early today because I had to drop labs for my HIV doc today, seeing my appointment is on May 15th, it takes a month to prep my labs. I marked the testosterone box on the lab sheet just to see where my numbers are, seeing my body is doing what it wants to do, and not what I want it to do !! UGH !!!
I walked over to the stop for the Cote de Neiges bus, and another bus was sitting there in its place. I got on. The bus pulled away from the stop and up Guy towards Sherbrooke. Instead of continuing up the hill he turned left and I freaked out. Where was he going? As the hill was blocked off because of construction and we ended up at Atwater to go up the hill the other way to get up the hill and cut across above the construction and to the hospital. Crisis averted…
I stopped by the diabetic clinic to get my appointment and lab sheet, I thought my doc would want to see me sooner that six months from now. He was out and the nurse said he would see me in six months unless my sugars were high, which they are not. They’ve gone down considerably on the double Glyburide.
I crossed the hall to the test center, the room was packed to the rafters. usually Tuesday early is a good day to drop labs because there aren’t so many people, usually. That wasn’t the case today. I took a number. I pulled a 53, and the number on the wall sign was on 20.
I had time to kill. So I prayed.
A couple of recitations of the Serenity Prayer worked its wonder. They ran the numbers and I got right in.
The phlebotomist, I think she was green, because she kept looking for a vein for about five minutes. I have good veins and I said to her, if you can’t get the needle in the first time, please find someone who can. She hit her mark, and nine vials later she let me go. I made it to the 144 stop with a few minutes to spare until the next bus passed by.
I came home and farted around while hubby built up some steam to get out of bed and I decided to take a nap and he followed. Sleep is good. I’ve been using my alarm clock frequently, and it seems that I set it and don’t use it because I get up just prior to it going off naturally. I sorted myself out and got ready to travel for tonight’s meeting.
It was a good meeting. I saw a bunch of friends I need to see often, because they are kind and I feel better when I am hanging with them. The topic was ANGER !!
Anger is a dubious luxury that alcoholics cannot afford to have. People are angry. Everyone is trying to navigate their feelings. Our emotions don’t just go away when we get sober. They are stronger without medication and inebriation.
Coming from the home I did – with all the mental, physical and spiritual abuse that was heaped on me – I always find it amazing that I never returned the favor. The older I got, I put distance between myself and those angry people.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with AIDS that anger took over my life. I was all over the place with emotions. I was spinning out of control. Trying to drink my feelings away until I took my last drink.
I learned a lot of lessons during that time. Working in a bar while getting sober was just what I needed to keep me busy. Todd kept my mind focused on work and my sponsor kept my sobriety in check. I had to learn how to harness my anger and turn it into useful energy, rather than a destructive source.
Do you know how much power negative emotions carry? If left to their own devices they will destroy you. Anger seeps into your soul and your heart. It bleeds power from your t-cells. When the body is in conflict, so the body goes.
Learning how to turn negative energy into healing energy took a long time. But I learned how that worked. Anger is wasted emotion, because in the end we are powerless over people, places and things. The more energy you waste on people that don’t matter – the farther down the ladder you get. We need to rise above our anger – pray – and let it go. Anger hurts us from the inside.
This is a tough lesson to teach newbies. They have to live into this way of life. And the only way we can transmit these lessons is to suit up and show up at as many meetings as is necessary for them to leech from us how it works.
We had two cakes at the end of the meeting. A 24 and a 27 year cake. Our man who took his 27the year cake has changed so much in the last year. He was hopeless for such a long time. And I’ve been seeing him on Tuesday nights regularly. He is 185 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. He has come a long way, and we all love him dearly because he is kind and gracious.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
“What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.”
“Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God’s will into all of our activities.”
It is Sunday. And it seems that we have run our course with flu. After a week of sniffling and coughing and sleeping and not eating very much, because let’s face it, when we are unwell the last thing we want to do is cook full meals. I’ve tried to eat something good at least once a day. Hubby is feeling better today.
I had errands to run on the way out and arrived at the church on time. For some reason the coffee pot seemed slow in perking. I don’t know what’s up with that, but eventually we had good black coffee.
We had a good showing. And we finished reading Into Action and steps ten and eleven. The next chapter is totally devoted to Step twelve in Working with others.
This week was a study in how to be of service to others. Namely hubby. When push comes to shove and I practice these principles in all my affairs, it seems that everything works as it should – because I am not in the way of God.
It has been a very fluid week. Actively working my daily inventory for the house and for myself it is the action that matters. There were plenty of opportunities to meditate and pray as we spent a great amount of time in bed.
It is good we are reading through the book, and we get to hear other folks talk about how they understand the reading and how it applies in their lives.
If we ask God to direct our thinking at the beginning of the day, and we live in God’s will, our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.
Take good thoughts in a send good thoughts out.
It was a good meeting. Everybody was happy. We took caravan home.
More to come, stay tuned…
Whew. What a week and weekend this has been. I remarked to a friend this evening that I haven’t been this busy with things to do in a long time. It is raining tonight, little wispy rain.
Our little meeting that is shaping up made a huge leap forwards today. The founders of the group met and we polished the minutes and readings, we talked about what we want to concentrate on and how things will play out. We also ponied up, paying our first months rent, which I will pay tomorrow. Word of mouth is working in our favor. All of the young men whom I have spoken to over the past few days seem positive that they will come. That may play out for a great showing on our first night (May 02 Thursday) …
We headed out to get the coffee perking and set up early for the Sunday Night Meeting. We sat a good group of folks. And we continued reading from the Big Book and Into Action through step 9.
” Made direct amends to such people, where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”
We read in the book that “The Spiritual life is not a theory. We Have to Live It.
It was brought to attention that the end of that sentence is italicized, which means that it is important and should be made note of.
In my life, as it pertains to family, we had a tit for tat relationship. Many of the decisions I made, in sobriety the first time AND the second time, were in response to something that was done to me.
My father poisoned the well between my brother and myself and I haven’t been able to mend that fence. My mother was ambivalent, and she lives in resentment. In my life, if she copped a resentment against you, she would shut you off like flicking a light switch. And they did that to many family members, not only me.
Being Gay and HIV+ was a death knell. My father said some very hurtful things, and for a long time as I was growing up he would constantly tell me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. How do you counter something like that? What do you do? I did the only thing possible and I legally changed my name as to leave the family once in for all. And I was sober when I did that.
My father told me that I would never live up to the man he named me after, a soldier who was killed in Viet Nam. And a man I know my father felt something more than friendship, since a room in his house is dedicated to him openly.
Coming to Canada was another decision I made in sobriety. One because I could not afford to live in the states any more. And my mothers propensity for lying paid off for me giving me a birthright into Canada. How could I pass that up?
I tried for years to make amends. To keep communications open. I guess I expected blood from a rock, knowing my family history. The last things my mother said to me was that if they got sick and died, nobody would call me.
Fuck me for trying.
Amends are tricky things. And there were many takes on the topic tonight. Someday in sobriety I won’t be expectant of any kind of response, if there was a response. Silence is a bitter pill to swallow. But in my family silence is the tactic to punish those who have fallen out of favor.
That’s why we pray. To accept things I cannot change, and to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.
I am grateful for the people in my life and the good things that come from meetings.
All is right in the world tonight.
More to come, stay tuned…
This evening we set out for Victoria Hall and the screening of the Bill W. documentary. A number of folks already saw the film when it came to theatres a few months ago up on Parc. It was considerably more expensive at a theatre than it did tonight. Members paid $2 a head for the showing and got free coffee and a muffin before the show.
We heard from our Public Information workers here in our area, which is Area 87 in Quebec. You might ask what public information does, it works to make sure that “when ever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to always be there and for that we are responsible.”
We need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of Press, Radio, TV, and Film. Public Information is the group that handles dissemination of program materials to the public. Because we as members, if we are to do this work, of helping folks get and stay sober, we must always be ready to reach out a hand to the suffering alcoholic. For every member in A.A. there are 25 suffering alcoholics in our city. Exponentially there are hundreds of thousands of people in Quebec, 1/10th of those are in the program, on both the French and English sides.
There were hundreds of people at tonight’s screening. A great time was had in fellowship. It seemed that many of the folks present tonight were from our downtown meetings. Some from the West Island, and some, I had never seen before. The balcony was full of folks, as was the main floor.
Bill was not a saint. But he was just a man, who held the world on his shoulders in creating the fellowship and getting words to paper and into print. It was hard going in those early days. But when A.A. Came of Age in St. Louis, Bill handed over the fellowship to the members. But because of the man he was, a normal life was never close. He had his issues and problems. He suffered from depression and was close to many women in his life, including Lois his wife of more than fifty years.
The film documented the formation of A.A. out of the suffering of a handful of men who came together after their “spiritual experiences” to form the beginnings of A.A. We saw how the book came together, how the Steps and How it works came to be and finally the traditions, through the vehicle of the well known publication “The Grapevine” our meeting in print.
Bill used the Grapevine in its infancy to write his pieces on what he was thinking while he was writing the book Alcoholics Anonymous. The Steps keep us in line. Where as the Traditions keep the groups in line. Bill, working from the Oxford Group steps which were few, sat on his bed one night and wrote out the steps on a steno pad, coming up with the round number of 12. A providential number in Christian and sacred texts of other religions.
A.A. has changed the face of alcoholism and is found in hundreds of countries around the world and has been translated into many, many languages. Who knew that this little movement would save millions of people from a fate worse than death, the disease of alcoholism, the suffering Body, Mind and Spirit.
Some call Bill a genius, and he was just that. Many of us would not be here if not for the tireless work of those who came before us.
Lots of gratitude tonight.
Where do we aim what we thirst for ???
This question plagues the suffering alcoholic. Because we all thirst, for one thing or another. A drink, A drug, An addiction. This question is not lost on me, once we get over the desire and thirst for a drink, we eventually will have an experience that tells us that there is a God, one way or another.
The most important part of the steps is: God as we understood Him.
This was the inclusive sentence that would help us all come and come to.
Thirst was a theme that I wrote about on my tenth anniversary, so much that my Tattoo in Hebrew, on my arms speaks “I Thirst…” Mother Teresa spoke of Thirst, the thirst of Jesus for our love and prayers. And the program speaks about our thirst – once we come to the end of our alcoholic thirst, we set our eyes upon something spiritual to maintain our sobriety for months, years, decades and so on.
Where do you aim what you thirst for?
What a busy week it has been. And it has only just begun. Our new group is meeting on Sunday afternoon to go over the specifics and odds and ends of putting together a brand new meeting from scratch. Exciting and Daunting.
Tomorrow will be a busy day for our folks. The Tuesday meeting is having a group conscience tomorrow morning with all their new members. This may prove to be quite a meeting of minds and attitudes. Thankfully I won’t be there.
Saturday evening the community of sober Montreal will meet at Victoria Hall for fellowship and food and to meet trustees from New York City who will be speaking prior to the screening of “Bill W.” a documentary. It is a sold out event. There will be more than 200 folks showing up – which is always exciting.
Tonight we headed up the plateau for North End English. A new man is in the chair this month so we went to support him and to see the others who come. I am liking this meeting because there is open and honest discussion on the topic from the book we are reading, “As Bill Sees It.”
” Even so, when making specific requests, it will be well to add to each one of them this qualification: … if it be thy will.” A.B.S.I.#329
We spoke about prayer and we spoke about God. We heard good things from folks who have been waiting and trusting in God in their lives, and it was all good news. When we let go and trust, God seems to move vividly.
And some, even with time, are having a hard time navigating the “time of transition or down time.” The question, “What the fuck does God want from me came up…”
One of our men is on his way to finding a concept of God that works for him. It is a grace to witness someone coming to find their “god” small g. Because not a lot of people trust “God” Big G. But the process of coming to believe is one of grace and love. And what we heard tonight from him was this …
If I go within, and find that quiet place, where everything is good, and the feeling is good, and I contact “someone” and it is good, then it is good for me. It may not be God at the moment, but he is frustrated at fighting this “good.” But he has realized that there is “good.” And what is God, if he isn’t good ???
Many of us have come to realize that we don’t ask for things directly. It seems the direct route is harder to accomplish rather than thy will be done. In Catholic circles they say that if you wish anything of God, that you take the back door route and ask Mary to intervene on our behalf. Mary gets things done.
But you can’t offer that kind of advice at a meeting. With people having trouble with the God word, what are they going to do with Mary to boot ?
In my life, I’ve found that making plans, in the long run, is pointless. I have done this in the past, made lists and expected things prematurely, when in reality God had other plans. And with this I would get resentful and angry because I expect. And you know what happens when we expect !!!
I try to stay in my day today. To say my prayers and to turn it over and trust that God knows what he is doing. I kind of like, flying by the seat of my pants, not knowing all the answers, or know what is coming or how things are going to go.
It was a good night. Lots of friends and a little gratitude.
Always try to end your day saying Thank You and having a little Gratitude.
It is raining. The great spring wash has begun. As is usual, April brings showers to wash away the snow on the ground. It has been a couple of beautiful days with sun and warmer temps.
It is Easter Sunday and I had hoped for a good showing tonight, as for it is a holiday and the biggest night in bar traffic always comes on holidays after folks have spent the better part of the weekend with family, they need a night out for some liquor.
The same goes for members. Holidays, family, alcohol, a mix not for the feint of heart, beings people out of the house and to a meeting, which is why meetings are open on holidays.
As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And it is the third month, so we read Tradition Three. ” The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Have you ever …
Have you ever judged someone in the rooms, based on their story or circumstance? Have you ever felt that someone should go get sober somewhere else because it might happen that a particular person upset the delicate apple cart of members egos and attitudes? Have you ever shunned someone from a meeting because they were different ? Have you ever felt superior to someone new to the rooms, or towards one of your fellows ?
The only requirement…
The first time I got sober in Ft’ Lauderdale, I got sober in a gay room of A.A. a Lambda room. I was safe and amongst my people. As circumstances presented themselves, a couple years in I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to be treated for my HIV by a specialist. Because there was no infrastructure there to assist people with AIDS.
I began attending meetings at the Coral Room in South Florida. That was a club room, which meant it was open all day from 7 am to midnight, and housed many meetings a night – every night.
At one point, I was sober a few years, and I had never really shared my story with community up until that point. I was asked to share at a meeting, of course I said yes. I was at the podium talking and at the point where I got to where I came out and said that I was living with AIDS, many men got up from their chairs and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking. At the end of the meeting they took me outside and said …
DO NOT COME BACK HERE, GET SOBER SOMEWHERE ELSE !!!
Had I been versed on the traditions, I would have recited tradition three. This is a hindsight observation. I never attended that particular meeting again. I then settled at the late night meeting at 10, where people welcomed me with open arms. Just goes to show you that there are IGNORANT people in the rooms.
It was in that room that I planned and executed my slip.
I never returned to that place, when I returned the second time. The second time I got sober on South Beach in 2001.
When I moved to Montreal in 2002, I was hitting meetings all over the city. And it happened again that I went to a meeting on the West End, holed over by a family of sober folks. At the end of the meeting they starting plying me with twenty questions about my life and sobriety. A second time I stated the truth and once again I heard those words…
ISN’T THERE SOMEPLACE ELSE YOU CAN GET SOBER, OTHER THAN HERE ???
Once is enough to be told that one is not welcome, but twice is a problem. Being new to a city and meeting new people for the first time, it doesn’t bode well for a community to be so ignorant and intolerant of those with different struggles. I mean that’s what we pray when we recite the long version of the Serenity Prayer.
There are ignorant people in Montreal. To this day there are some who ignore me and will come to a meeting I sit in and ignore me as if I didn’t exist. I don’t know why this is, but I have my suspicions. Years ago, it was odd to find a queer in a straight meeting. We had queer meetings dedicated to the queer factor.
But over time, queer meetings fell apart and the LGBT folks scattered across the city to main line heterosexual meetings. We are everywhere today. And for the most part there is no qualm about it. We are all alcoholics, who want to get better, and far be it from anyone to tell someone that they are not welcome at any given meeting.
The only reason we would ask someone to leave a meeting is, and only when they get unruly and threaten anyone’s well being in a meeting. And in all my years I know of only One Man to be barred from a particular meeting, which is above and beyond the pale of any group conscience.
People come to a meeting because they suffer the same affliction we all do, a sickness of mind, body and soul. And the only way to get better is to put down the drink and come to a meeting.
I have always erred on the side of caution. When dealing with new folks, to allow them to sink in slowly, to be welcoming, to be grateful and to be of assistance. Never throw a book at them prematurely or to force them to “get it my way or the highway” or suggest they “come to” quicker than they are able, each according to their gifts.
There are meetings where old timers pound the book from the first meeting. I don’t agree with the heavy hand approach. Sobriety takes time, and all we have is time. Take as much time as you need.
Young people are suffering. We heard it again tonight. Conflicts about God, and spirituality are coming in between people. Egos and attitudes are coming to blows for some. And we hear as well that newcomer numbers are dropping on the young people groupings, all because of heavy handedness.
There are also some young people who deign to say the word God and have come up with their own set of steps rewritten to omit any reference to God, and that isn’t sitting well with older members.
Our book is meant to be suggestive only, we realize we know only a little …
It is written in the way it is written for a reason and the steps were written for a certain reason in the format they were set down to paper. Far be it from someone to rewrite them because of the God issue. In the end this is a spiritual program, and sooner or later we come to the God word.
However you get there … there is one who has all power that one is God, may you find him now … the words spoken in How It Works.
Seasons are changing. And people are shook up. And it is distressing to see these kinds of flare ups, but what can you do ? Always check your motives when dealing with others.
You belong when you say you belong.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
I am grateful for my friends tonight and every night.
It was a good but painful meeting, but that happens occasionally.
Pray for our young people.
More to come, stay tuned…
The cross that sits atop Mount Royal during the “interregnum” or in between, is turned purple. And today we would see purple on vestments for Good Friday services.
This is the day that Christians mark the crucifixion and death of Jesus on the cross and the church is in mourning. Tony Campolo is oft to preach the message about it being “Friday … But Sunday is coming…”
Also to mention the words ” I Thirst …” one of the last seven statements Jesus makes from the cross before his death. The words in Hebrew I have tattooed on my right bicep. This meditation which has been spoken about in the memoirs of Mother Teresa focuses on Jesus and his thirst for our love and devotion.
Tonight’s topic from the book As Bill Sees It spoke about ” Providence.”
There is a question on the first blank page of my Big Book :
ARE WE GOING EASY ON THE GOD STUFF ???
At some point in our lives, one way or another, we come face to face with coming to believe in a power greater than ourselves. Many of us grew up in some form of religion, one way or another. The odds are high that we have all been introduced to God sometime in our lives.
For the person coming in for the first time, God is a dirty word, a repellant, something to be avoided at any cost ! One way or another we process steps 1,2,and 3. We come, we come to, and we come to believe.
And even today there are folks who still struggle with the notion of God. But even if they cannot locate God – there is a passion to stay sober – to live – a power that moves them forwards, one day at a time.
The reading talks about never pushing our own agenda on those who have not come to the point of recognizing God for themselves, but we should be kind and observant, but never egotistical to believe that we have “all the answers” for anyone else in the room.
For every person in the room, there is a concept of “something.” From the simple “group of drunks, good orderly direction, get out doors even.” God is cultivated in each life to their abilities and their belief system.
Providence … To be provided for …
Coming off my slip, I prayed to God. Specific prayers of need and desire.
1. For the hangover to mark the end
2. For a member to come into my life
3. To get me to a meeting
One, Two, Three … all three prayers came to pass in succession. I took my last drink. An alcoholic came into my life and brought me to my next first meeting.
In Hindsight, I had completed One, Two and Three before I hit my first meeting. I knew where God was, and I believed. I just needed to ” come to.”
It is providence for me to say that everything I need in my life has come from the rooms, one way or another. I’ve never had to go outside the rooms for anything. I always tell people that if there is something on your mind or a need you have, take it to a meeting.
God does provide.
Lots of friends and fellows tonight, great fellowship and a ride home from the meeting. All in gratitude.
Tomorrow is the great Easter Vigil.
More to come, stay tuned …
We are sitting at (2c) at this hour. And a snowfall warning is in effect for tomorrow, they say 15 to 25 cm of snow will fall, which is pretty big for the month of March. If totals are high over the city on this round, we could see a repeat of piles of snow everywhere. Stay tuned on that front … it will be exciting.
The last week of the month has not been kind, and being a few days early and a few dollars short, I got another chance to practice humility and honesty. I don’t fear being honest, and having to ask for favors on the odd occasion.
The pharmacy fills my medications ahead of time, and they called today to say they were ready, but the $85.00 total was out of my budget and my hands today. Thankfully, my words is good, and I get another credit today so that I could get my meds and pay on Thursday.
The weather has been balmy the past couple of days, the calm before the storm, the sun even made an appearance for a while today. I set off for the church around 5, with stops on the way pegged my arrival around 5:30.
My newbies did not show up for set up. So much for accountability. I got the urns perking and jammed out setup before the 6:15 business meeting began. We gained another handful of members tonight, which brings us up to I think 25 members. I need to add them to our email member list.
We sat 50 people tonight. And the chair had us read from Came to Believe. The read comes from the back of the book, page 103, Changing Beliefs.
The quote that stood out to me was: “There is good in all of us. Seek it out, nurture it, tend it, and it will flourish.”
This passage touches on the Steps and most importantly, Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. It also talks about “coming to believe.”
At the end of my drinking career, I was a lonely lone drinker, in a room of people who cared not that I was standing there. My self esteem was shot, and I was alone. And had I dropped off the face of the earth, prior to coming back in, nobody would have missed me. And that’s the truth.
I had nothing to loose when I came back. And thank God that people took me in and helped me begin to rebuild the life that I was living. I pulled a geographic in sobriety here. The only thing I did right was spending two weeks prior getting to know the city, find meetings and connect.
The journey began when I started doing meetings here. I needed someone to take me by the hand and show me how it was done here. And I got that from my sponsor at that time. The journey to learn about God began. Because I had to find the God of my understanding once again.
They told me to keep coming back, to stay in my day, to turn it over. It took me a long time to learn what these things meant. Akin to planting a new garden. I came here, and began to till the soil, so to speak.
I started going to meetings, I began to plant my seeds, THEN I had to give the garden time to grow. If you’ve never planted a garden, you can’t rush the growth cycle. It is going to grow on God’s time. I became willing to wait on my garden, when at first I thought I needed a full garden, RIGHT NOW !!!
Many people talked tonight about Coming to the rooms, Coming to, then Coming to believe. Notice the steps are gradual. Everybody is unique and it may take some time to come to believe. And that’s where willingness comes in.
The other thing I heard tonight is that what ever is going on in my head, the act “AS IF” works if you work it. Also, just suit up and show up, you never know how you will help someone by just showing up.
At one time we may have thought terrible and unreal things about ourselves, and when I came in to the rooms, like many others like me, the people in the rooms loved me and believed for me until I could love myself and believe for myself. The paradoxes of sobriety ring true.
Obviously we cannot transmit something that we don’t have ourselves.
Come to meetings, keep going to meetings. Learn about yourself and your fellows. Read the book. Work the Steps. Honesty, Willingness and Open mindedness is key. Stick around until the miracle occurs.
Give freely of what you have been given.
Plant your garden, and watch it grow. Patiently.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Christopher Jordan
It was a fair day, and not so bad for travel this evening. We are sitting at (-6c/-12c w.c.) at this hour. It is a little later than usual for this entry, I’ve been working my butt off cleaning and throwing away garbage and sorting things into recycling since this afternoon.
We have been advised by the rental company that our apartments are going to be inspected beginning on Monday. This is the first time in memory that anyone has done this in all the years I have lived here. They have not given us a reason as to why we are being inspected, so we will be ready for them.
I met a friend just after 7 to make the journey to St. Matthias, it was a good crowd. Lots of visitors from far away. We sat all the seats put out. And our speaker came from the St. Matthias family.
For the past year we have been participating in prayer circles and sending cards and good wishes to one of our dear members who got very sick last fall and was in need for a liver transplant because of long standing liver disease. Something our lady ignored for a long time, and in time it almost took her.
Miracles happen for us when we come to this organization. After being told the operation would happen, there was a blood scare and all transplants were put on hold. And she had to wait. Then they found cancer in the liver and things got dicey. The donor – who was on deaths door – did not die – for a while. But thankfully, the door was reopened and the operation did take place, and for the last 5 months we have been waiting for our lady to make it to a meeting.
A few weeks ago she showed up at our Tuesday meeting, quietly sitting in the back away from prying eyes. We were so happy to see her alive and well. It seems the operation was a success and she is alive and well to tell the tale of how she came to today.
In her own words … “Everything that has happened up to today has been preordained.” And “everything happens for a reason.”
She spoke words that I have never heard before. But they resonated within me as I sat there listening tonight. “We” she spoke, are born close to a spiritual being. We are different from any other person, by the way we come into the world, and find ourselves in the predicament that many alcoholics find themselves.
It is near to the image that when a baby is born, they are close to the being of God. From the womb they come new and unharmed and they come unblemished and innocent. A true spiritual being.
But as time passes by, we grow up, and we grow apart from the spiritual being. If you’ve ever heard the story about the little boy who sits in his new born sisters crib asking her “what does God look like?” If only we knew the answer…
Make no mistake. Alcoholism is patient and waits for us. From the very beginning it is there. And many of us got caught up in the drink for far too long and shit happens, very few succeed in getting sober, many come, but few make it until they have been licked and torn down to nothingness.
And it is by the Grace of God that we find the rooms. And for those of us who come and stay, we get to learn about ourselves, and we, in time, come to understand that we are spiritual beings. Coming out of the fog of alcoholism and drug addiction, the people who suffer the most, are those we have hurt the most. Family, friends, children and spouses.
We may go to our graves sober, but those we leave behind will carry what we have done inside them till they take their last breath. And now we get to clean up the wreckage of our pasts, to make good on relationships, and get back to the living of life.
The two things that are the most important in this life, as recovering alcoholics are Acceptance and Gratitude. For many, coming to the rooms is a first step, but as we read in the book “Acceptance is the key to all my problems.”
We must come to realize that we are not in control, and for many, giving up that control is a tooth and nail battle. How many people have we seen come in, sit around, listen to the words, and read the book and get to this passage and say “oh, give up control, I don’t think so… Not Now … and they go out and drink.
“But there is one who has all power, that one is God, may you find him now…”
We come in broken and bruised. And today I know that there are many of us who are suffering. The winds are blowing, and the tide is against many a folk today and watching them founder is not fun. This is when one might say “time to let go, and let God.” The sooner you get here the better you will feel.
Gratitude is, for me, a default setting. For a long time, I would joke that I have hit many a meeting in the past eleven years, that I go to a meeting that a topic must be chosen, and when a topic isn’t chosen, it usually falls to gratitude.
But gratitude is something we may take for granted. And it is something that should be recognized as crucial to good sober living. We made it here. We are alive. So many have died in the throes… Many folks are stuck in the revolving door of the drink.
The one take away from this is that life is too short. For many, we fail to recognize just what a gift sobriety is. For some, this is a one shot deal. You never know how much another is suffering when they come in the door. But God knows what we need, even before we ask the questions.
I live with a terminal illness myself. And I should have died a long time ago, but I survived and I am still here. If I had not met the men I did, when I did, at that specific moment, that God stepped in and gave me a way out, I would have died.
This is my second kick at the can, and I am not screwing around with my sobriety, I will do whatever it takes to stay sober and do what I am told, and take to heart every word I hear from every person I hear speak.
Like a friend shares … “We should have hands of sand and feet of clay.”
We were all grateful to hear our lady speak tonight and share this message with us. It was a great night. We took caravan home which was nice.
All’s well that ends well.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is Sunday. And it was bitterly cold out. We are sitting at (-11c/-21c w.c.) It has been cold all weekend, but today the winds whipped up and brought a new chill to the air.
Today was one of those days where I was bored off my rocker. I can only sit in front of this box and twitter my thumbs, for so long. I check my mail, I visit my reads, not many of them post on a Sunday, so that is a bust. I don’t usually Tumble during the day, I save that for my nighttime schedule.
I tried to nap on and off and that did not go very well. Hubby has been wheezing and puffing for the last couple of days, and I am trying to avoid catching whatever he has…
Finally around 3 I decided to take a shower and get dressed which put me ready to roll well before I needed to go. And I left the house around twenty to five which put me at the church early. I beat our coffee man – when he came in I was sorting out chairs and tables. And we had the room ready to go by 5:15.
We sat a full house and then some. I heard through the grapevine that the 2:30 meeting was packed as well today, because when I got there, they had left out stacks of chairs which I turned around for tonight’s meeting.
Tonight was began reading Chapter 5 from the Big Book, titled, “How it Works.”
From our first days in the program we hear this reading read at almost every meeting that we go to. But how many of us really pay attention to the words as they are read from the podium? Most meetings start out with the Serenity Prayer then move into How It Works … during the preamble of most meetings.
“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path …”
In the historical stories about A.A and of Bill Wilson, The one word that they would have changed from this reading would have been RARELY… And the new word would have been “NEVER.” But cooler heads prevailed and the word rarely stuck.
The preceding chapters of the Big Book, cover Steps One and Two. Squarely setting us up to move into Step 3. How It Works is the lead up to the text covering Step 3 …
I heard something interesting at the meeting tonight that How it works is just that, it isn’t “why” it works, but How it Works. Much of tonight’s discussion centered around letting go and turning it over.
“Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our will and our lives over to God as we understood him. Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?
The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success.”
God as we understood Him. Who is that, why is it God and do I have to believe in God to begin with? Finding a power greater than ourselves is a personal choice. There is no direct mandate that we direct our prayers to God. But in reading How It Works … The text reads: Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find him now…
That spiritual experience is what we hope you will experience in one shape or another once you come to the meeting and you eventually Come To, and eventually Come To Believe.
How may times have I heard this reading at a meeting? And how often do we let the words, as they are read, to pass in one ear and out the other, without really allowing the words to work their way into our consciousness? How it Works is the guide to staying sober. And every time I hear this read, I am reminded of How it works, not why it works, but How.
It outlines who we are, and what it takes to get sober, in step form. How It Works outlines what we do when we stand in front of a room of alcoholics, and share our experience, strength and hope … Simply … What it was like, what happened and what it is like now.
The reading also tells us, “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”
Over the years I have worked my steps a number of times. My 4′s and 5′s have not been perfect. They were adequate. I shared these things with my sponsor. A few months ago, I worked through my steps again, for a refresh.
Since I came to this city sober, I left the baggage of my past in another country. Sobriety is not a perfect ride for any of us. And that goes for me as well.
A big mistake I made in early sobriety was that I felt entitled, and I thought that expectations were part of the deal, I mean, I had them, I needed them and I felt like God should grant me them.
How wrong I was.
I also know that I work my steps to the best of my ability. And once again, I must admit that sometimes I feel like I have been sober more than a decade now, and I often think that long term sobriety should become all that is. In my mind I say to myself that I’ve been sober a long time, and that because I’ve been sober that long time, that sobriety should change those things in my life that I have no control over … Like other people.
This is an inside project the longer you stay sober and I must also remember that I am not God, because as soon as I assume God’s authority, I have lost conscious contact with my God.
My sobriety will never be perfect. And that is something that I battle with. I want so bad for a certain sector of my life to be healed, BUT I am powerless over people, places and things. And going into my head – a place an alcoholic should never go alone – I want to get up on a soapbox and rattle some cages and yell at the top of my lungs that “HEY I am sober, Don’t you see me? Love me, be part of me, but this is where I loose my mind on occasion.
I cannot change people. I can only change me. And I am not in control.
How it works … I need to hear this reading at as many meetings as possible. Because I need to be reminded that it is progress rather than perfection.
We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
We are all wounded people. In one way or another. I drank like many of my fellows and came to the point of incomprehensible demoralization. There was no way out but through the meetings.
The Big Book was simply written, by simple men, who like us, found that they could not drink like normal men. So they set out to write a book in which we would find commonality, conviviality, comradery, and identity.
And in these pages we would read How They Did It. And for more than seventy years, they have been doing it the same way, with the same words, and the same steps, both men and women alike. If we, just for a moment, believe that like they, we could learn how it works for ourselves.
In time we learn what it means to “Turn it over” and to “Let go and Let God.” it doesn’t come overnight, but the sooner you learn this the lighter the burden gets, when we can step up to prayer and meditation and ask God to take from our shoulders the burden we carry and to help us stay sober one day at a time.
Hundreds of Thousands of alcoholics all over the world have read this book. And they got it and found sobriety. And it all begins with How it Works.
I am human, therefore I am an imperfect being. God is perfect.
In all things. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
In scripture it is written, “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect!” I don’t know if I will ever be that perfect.
But this thought keeps us on the path.
To be able to begin ones day with prayer. Allowing God control, and to turn it over, and be at peace with that is a tall order. To be of service to my fellows, here at home, at a meeting, on the phone, and with myself, is something I have to practice on a daily basis.
Watching our women get sober and work their steps is amazing. They really get down to the nitty gritty of How It Works. There are no half measures for them. It is true that there is no comparison to how our women do it. Every day, from sun up to sun down. Talking to their sponsors every day, spot checking when necessary, 4′s and 5′s on a regular basis. 6, 7, 8 on a daily basis. 9′s and amends when called for. 10th step every night. And living 11 and 12 on a daily basis.
Our women exude How It Works. They live and breathe these steps.
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps…
How many of us men are ready and willing to let go and let God and allow the steps into our lives, without hemming and hawing, and huffing and puffing and making things harder than they need to be?
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. Even getting sober, alcoholism is that entity that sits in the parking lot doing pushups, waiting for us to come outside.
Old Timers tell us these simple words … Don’t Drink, Go to Meetings, and Keep coming back. Because if we stop going to meetings that rat will get back on the wheel and start spinning. Meetings are one way to keep that rat off the wheel.
Watching others get sober, and spending quality time with those people, we get to see how it works come to life in our fellows lives. That is why it is such a grace watching folks get sober. Spend ten plus years in the same rooms, week in and week out, eventually you will witness spiritual experiences. And if you are lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of God, by the by.
What it was like, What happened, and What it is like now.
I love my life. I have everything I need. My needs list is very short. I don’t expect from God, but I listen for God. I’ve learned how to do that over the last eleven years. I have good friends. People are happy to share the same space with me.
Today, case in point, one of my friends, came up to me and gave me the biggest hug I have had in a long time. That is a gift of the program.
I don’t know why it works, But I can tell you that it does work. Sobriety is give and take. In order to reap the rewards of sobriety, you have to give up the life you had, in opt for the life you can have if you trust in How It Works.
Life, is a journey. We need meetings like we need water. We must give up our ego in opt for Godliness. We must sacrifice all those things we thought we needed and realize that in God’s time and goodness, we will get everything that we need.
And always end the day with some gratitude.
Because you won’t be truly happy until you can learn to be grateful for something every day. As long as we stay on the path, the only way is up.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Heath at IHeefz
Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours. I hope you all got candy, cards and flowers. I did my VDay shopping yesterday, however hard I didn’t feel like leaving the house for some strange reason, but I got it done.
It was a cold day and into the night.
We exchanged cards and candy today, so that was a good thing.
We are sitting at (0c) at this hour. And snow is on tap overnight and into tomorrow. I met a friend to meet the 104 to go to St. Matthias tonight. It was a bit chilly walking up there.
It was a smaller crowd than usual tonight. Not sure what else was going on that people not show up, but we were missing a fair number of familiar faces.
Sometimes small and intimate is nice.
Our speaker came from a field, with 22 years of sobriety. He lives local now, but he used to own a farm up North. So his share was a little here and a little there, rambling and brambling in a round about sort of way.
Like most young men, we took to the drink early, and it made us feel great, at the beginning, but add some drugs and shady lifestyles, and things, in their own way, become tedious.
After a short stint in meetings, and some time away, he found his way into the rooms after hitting that invisible door in the soul that something had to be done, and the first thing was to put down the drink.
He spoke of how hard it was to achieve months at a time, and then finally his first year sober. And he spoke about the “Carrot at the end of the stick” that folks w0uld dangle in front of him encouraging him to keep going.
And after that trek – over months and months, he reached his year. And in hindsight he said that he would never drink again, after suffering all those months to gain time.
I know what that is like – the first time I got sober, how hard I had to work to get to that first year. And in the end it was like a big Fuck You to the men and queers who made my life miserable that first year.
Then we come to increments of time, the first five years, then ten and the following ten, and how life began to open up to him and just how much he learned about himself and his life in sobriety.
Working the steps, going to Big Book Meetings, and getting down to brass tacks because it was in sobriety that his resentments almost got the best of him, but he worked his way through and finally took responsibility for his life and the things he had done, and what role he played in the grand scheme of things.
Realizations came to him years into the program. Things he missed in the early years, like how the steps work and that little thing many of us like to ignore, the “God” thing.
Prayer and meditation for many is a tried and true path. It just doesn’t come over night – but takes years of practice and work. It is so important to attain and maintain that conscious contact with a power greater than ourselves.
Getting sober is a day at a time process. Our man met a few old timers that made an impression on him, and how they helped and challenged him to stay sober. And the memory of the first year, I think, only reinforced his desire to stay sober.
No matter where you go – there you are. And our man traveled all over the world and he stayed sober. He faced terrible illness and a liver transplant and he survived to tell the tale, so that is a good thing.
The take away … Every day is a chance to better your sobriety. And not to take for granted any day, because today could be your last day, when you have surmounted and conquered disease(s).
The other take away is … LOVE … Love is the most important part of the program. We come to, and we learn what those words mean, words like Love, Respect, Dignity and Peace. Finally in time, we learn that we can love ourselves and love others as well. Family, Friends and Fellows.
We can come to and if we are lucky, we begin to feel these wonderful feelings and know exactly what they mean to us.
I want to leave you with this thought from a fellow Beaver …
“And you shall know it … You shouldn’t make somebody your priority who considers you one of their options…”
A good night was had by all. Happy Valentines Day and Good night.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a bitterly cold night, manageable when the wind was with us. We are sitting at (-17c/-26c w.c.) With snow on the way overnight and into tomorrow. When all is said and done, we should see upwards of 15cm of snow. However points south and west will get slammed with more than 20cm of snow.
I met a friend and we walked over to the 104 stop. We only had to wait a few minutes for the bus and we arrived at St. Matthias early on. It being so cold outside and the threat of snow on people’s minds, we sat about half of our usual crowd of people who usually come to the meeting on Thursday night.
Our speaker was a woman who is a member of the St. Matthias group. It was a good share, our woman has a little over 25 years sober. The disease of alcoholism is swift and certain in many of us. Once you take that first drink, for some, becomes a long and disastrous dalliance with the bottle.
We heard the concept of More, More and More …
One is too many and 10 is not enough…
We all agree on one point, that we just could not have “just one.” And as life goes, we more we drink, the more we loose. And for most, none of us put together that “maybe the drink is the cause for disaster and misfortune.”
Coming from another 12 step group for children of alcoholics, she hit a meeting one night and was asked why she didn’t join the group after the meeting for coffee – she admitted quite freely the reason. It just came out. Soon thereafter a friend took her to her first meeting at Serendipity.
And the room erupted in laughter …
Grace came upon her then – the desire to drink was lifted from her.
And what is the take away from our speaker tonight? What was guiding force of all her years of sobriety? God …
Coming from where she had, she had de-sacralized her sacraments that came from the church, and after writing an angry feminist manifesto about all the ills of the church and God, coming into sobriety, the one thing that “got her, and held her” was the recognition that it all starts with the Divine.
And here I was waiting for some really profound truth that I had never heard before, she said we are all seekers, even if we don’t know it, we are seekers. We come to the rooms to find the solution to make the pain go away and to help our lives get better.
And the message was simple. Don’t drink, and Go to meetings. Sooner or later we come to realize that our daily grace is based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. A commonality that I shared with our speaker tonight was that we both took time to study God, from the many perspectives of the world’s religions and traditions.
Once I completed my first year of sobriety, I returned to university and spent the next seven years studying God, six ways from Sunday.
We find that over time, sobriety becomes an inside job. Sobriety is nothing unless it is book-ended by prayer and meditation. Throw in a good measure of gratitude and humility, and you have a recipe for success.
It was spoken that at times, over the past years that she came upon newcomers in the rooms, and that at times it proved very troubling that when asked what to do to stay sober, she would answer … “Don’t drink and go to meetings!” For few, that advice fell on deaf ears. Some newcomers don’t want our tried and true advice – they scoff at some simple suggestions, in opt for doing things their own way, and over time, they too did not return.
The slogans, the advice, the acronyms are all the same. We see them, we use them, we read them and we share them. A number of years into sobriety, one night at home, our lady was alone, angry, lonely and tired, and in a brief moment of weakness, she thought a drink … With time under her belt.
In a moment of grace, she picked up the 2000 pound phone and called a member, who met her at a meeting. And she was saved once again.
We never know when the drink is going to court us to partake. I’ve often used the quote that “Alcoholism stands in the parking lot doing pushups while we are in a meeting.” It is cunning, baffling, powerful and PATIENT !!!
Which leads us to the next command … Constant Vigilance.
In the end the message was simple. Don’t drink, go to meetings, find a power greater than yourself, let go and let God, and keep coming back.
The advice is not profound, nor complex. It is tried and true guidance to help you change your life and often, the lives of the people you call family and friends.
That is all.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a cloudy day, Montreal got a light dusting of snow since yesterday, and now we are under a freezing rain warning over night.
Today proved to be very exciting and fulfilling. I set out early because tonight we were celebrating Tuesday Beginner’s 55th anniversary. There was a lot of food, so much so that at the end of the meeting, we tossed food into the trash because everybody left after eating and we had too much left over and no where to store it so we tossed it.
Our most trusted woman member chaired the meeting and she read from the Foreward to the Second Edition to the Big Book. There are two schools of thought about these pages of the book. We heard a young member share tonight that she had no desire to read the forewards but skip ahead to the meat of the text.
Then there are the old timers who say that in order to gain context for the book, we must read about how the movement was begun, where things went wrong, and how the steps and traditions came together.
Our society then entered a fearsome and exciting adolescent period. The test that it faced was this: Could these large numbers of erstwhile erratic alcoholics successfully meet and work together? Would there be quarrels over membership, leadership, and money? Would there be strivings for power and prestige? Would there be schisms which would split A.A. apart?
Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group. But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A.’s had to hang together or die separately. We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.
In our long history of our meeting, people came and went. Many stayed sober, but moved here and there and to other groups as time progressed. I’ve seen hundreds of people come and go. A good number came for a season but decided that they did not want what we were giving. The meeting grew in numbers and we used to have a two meeting format.
But times changed and our speaker meeting numbers dropped off, so much so that the three members who were the only members for a number of years, retooled the meeting format to the Beginners Literature Discussion meeting we now employ. And this April we will celebrate 2 years in this new format.
Our group grew from 3 male members to more than twenty members of our group. Three quarters of our numbers are women. I tell the story about our most trusted female member came one week, and tens and twenties of women followed her to our meeting.
Our women bring a whole new dimension to our group. I’ve said in the past that the women do things so richly and the offer an example of true devotion and service to the book, to each other and to the steps. If it weren’t for our women, my sobriety would not be as rich as it is today.
At the end of the meeting our chair hosted a sober countdown. We began at 40 years sobriety, our first hit came at 38 years all the way down to one year. We sat almost 75 members tonight. Give or take a few heads. I wasn’t sure of the final tally. But I took down the sober numbers. Put together – we had 433 years of sobriety in the room, all together. There were also 25 folks with less than a year – and the most important – the newcomer – we had 3 newcomers with a day sober. We gave a brand new Big Book to one of those young men tonight.
I was also happy that our man who was rushed to hospital over the weekend came in and sat down as the meeting started. He did not drink today. The shares went around the room, everybody on the outer circles got to share. We went three quarters around the main table before time ran out.
We heard many good things, the most important was about gratitude. The old timers told us how they did it, the new comers shared about their struggles but for many of us, we were just happy to be at a meeting.
I had a few conversations before and after the meeting. It was good to take a little time to get to know the newcomers a little bit better. Some came to talk to me, about what they heard from me last week. And I got to share with some of our women – how they touch my heart.
I’ve been actively praying for one of our young women with a little over 75 days sober. She is in transition moving on from a breakup. And I so want her to stay sober – so we talked after the meeting. I offered her some advice because I want her to stick around. She needs to find a way to stay here, because she is on a visa and time is running out. I will be helping her figure out what to do next.
Lots of people came – all of them got to share. We had good food, good conversations and fellowship. Fellowship and being a member of a group were two things that need to be part of our sobriety. Becoming part of and being in fellowship with.
Those two things are vitally important for the newcomer to get involved.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Lauren Marek
The weather is turning warmer, well, warmer than it has been as of late. It is manageably cold, (-13c/-19c wc) at this hour, but not frigidly cold.
There are a lot of thing percolating in my brain tonight. I’ve mentioned that lately sobriety is coming in small bits and pieces or more like words that jump off the page, the ones we read over and over, but lately, I’ve been noticing and making note of words that come up haphazardly. I’ve also been very grateful for meetings because you never know when someone is going to say a word that y0u need to focus on and keep in mind.
The warnings are stark. Lessons I learned early on in sobriety have nested and become habit. The warning is this … You know what will happen if you decide you no longer need meetings!!! A long time friend is battling his demons and fellows were called upon to get him to a hospital because he just cannot stop drinking. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling, powerful and (patient).
I’ve heard it said before that while you are sitting in a meeting, alcoholism is waiting out in the parking lot doing pushups.
Today’s lesson is Humility.
And the fact that today I have humility. I take comfort in that I have the tools to ask for help, and not feel ashamed of not being enough or having enough. I’ve learned this lesson but it keeps repeating itself in my life even today.
We are not rich people, and sometimes not being rich is a problem because we need money, and not having money is a constant fear. The end of the month has come and we are a few days early and a few dollars short. I have been out of medication for two days but they were filled at the pharmacy for me ahead of time, they have a new loyalty renew program now. Meds usually run me close to $80.00 a month. I just don’t have $80.00 in hand right now.
Hubby tasked me with the job of being honest once again. And I am at peace with being honest, and speaking honestly, and being able to admit when I need a favor or a kindness from someone. And not feeling ashamed at being so honest.
I stopped at the pharmacy on the way out to see if they could cut me a a few days pills, which is a pain in the ass, and luckily my total bill for the month was only $10.00. And I looked at the young pharmacy lady and said …”I don’t have $10.00 on me right now…” She replied, “well, here you go, come and pay when you can.” (which will be Thursday)…
Simple kindness …
I called hubby from the mall to tell him that I got my meds and he replied, “all’s well that ends well.” So it was.
I arrived early and helped set up the room and folks came early so we had a meeting before the meeting. Sunday’s are a day to catch up on friends and fellows to sort out the week coming and to check in and plan to be of service in kind ways. People are not used to asking for help and today’s Tradition came from the book… Tradition one … “Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.
It is cold, people are tired of the cold. And folks are finding it a challenge to stay connected and talk to fellows on a daily basis to check in so that if needed we can try and help. Where else can you go, to share what’s on your mind, with like minded folks, anywhere in the world, on a daily basis?
Why do we go to meetings? Because on our own, we could not lick this problem of alcoholism. We need the group to help us stay sober. And there is the warning again about what happens if you stop going to meetings, or finding that you don’t need meetings.
We are complicated people. And this is not a complicated program. Nobody is going to tell you what to do or what to say or command you to do anything. But we find ourselves, going back into our heads and getting crazy. And that’s why people showed up tonight. To take an hour out of their day to reconnect with a power greater than themselves.
We are not supposed to keep what we have, lest we loose it. We have to continually give it away. And we do that in little ways. We do that with a phone call, or a coffee date, some let’s get together time, doing service, but simply by just suiting up and showing up.
Last Sunday a friend came to the meeting and we sat through the meeting and we shared on topic and at the end of the meeting came the Serenity Prayer where he spoke to words You and Me. And I was receptive to You and Me.
This Sunday he came again, and at the end of the meeting we spoke and I was able to share with him how the words he said touched my heart and my mind and how grateful I was for the lesson that came to me simply. And he in turn told me the story of where he heard the iteration of the prayer, from a fellow traveler now living Down Under. So “You” and “Me” traveled from one to another and another.
Saturday night I hit a meeting and I heard another word that leap out at me that I was able to put into perspective something from my life that had since, evaded me, until a member spoke words that I was ready to hear.
Sobriety is coming in single words. Simple sentences.
I guess that’s the gift of coming back. The literature never changes. The words on the page have been there for decades. And week in and week out we read the same words, we say the same prayers, and we do the same things over and over again rote …
Now 11 years in, I am finding that I read the books and see and hear the words, and now, simply, words are leaping off the page and into my field of vision. I’ve also heard it said from long sober folks who speak the words “once you stay around for awhile, the outside job becomes an inside job.”
At the end of the meeting a young man got up to take his 2 year chip from his sponsor, who didn’t have a chip in hand for him, BUT another member just got his 2 year chip a few days ago, “and it’s about giving it away right” … so he dipped into his pocket and handed over his 2 year chip to our young man so that he could take a real chip from his sponsor.
What was it like for me at two years? that was 2003. I stayed sober. I had decided to go back to school, in my thirties, I attained Citizenship. I sat through culture shock and integrated into society here in Montreal. If it weren’t for the people who were part of Tuesday Beginners at that time in my life, my life would not have turned out the way it did. I relied on my home group unlike any other group of people, perhaps except Sober on South beach.
I had begun a sober relationship which later turned into a marriage. And today we are nine years married and eleven years together.
I came, I rooted. I listened. And I served. And I do that today.
I came, and I learned from the group, and in time I learned about giving it back freely. I get to rid myself of my ego and my attitude. When I cross that threshold of the room, I am just one of you. I am not better or worse. I am just me…
And on any given Sunday, when bunch of me’s show up and we share, we find we are no longer alone. That we don’t have to be alone, or do this alone. And there’s the gift of the group and our common welfare.
I am grateful for simplicity, my friends and everybody who showed up today.
Wau Lam … 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 …
Thursday rolls around, the snow is melting fast. We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. It has been a quiet day. I am waiting on a package from Canada Post that is due here tomorrow or on Monday.
It was the usual routine for the day. I had plenty of time to do all the things I needed to do, except supermarket safari, which I did on the way home, instead of earlier in the day.
I met my friend Bill outside to walk to the stop for the bus to the meeting just after 7 p.m. and we arrived shortly thereafter. It seemed many of us who sit on the left side of the room were channeling BLUE tonight, because we all had on blue shirts. It was almost eerie akin to a ole Finchley meeting with blue shirts, sans the ties.
It has been shared that the Bill W. documentary that we all saw a few weeks ago at Parc will be shown on March 28th at Victoria Hall. We all signed up for tickets since seating only allows 200. And they are selling copies of the film on dvd for a sum of $20… So I put my little group of warriors down for the screening, and two copies of the dvd.
We were surprised to hear that one of our fellows was going to speak tonight. His first time out of the chute. They say not to plan what you are going to say or that one should not try to be witty, charming, funny etc … But our man did not get up there without a plan in hand.
The theme of the night was gratitude. And here is where I tell the story about a certain gratitude list that I happened upon some time ago. Because at some point in the history, I got a hit from a writer on this blog. He blog marked my blog on his blog. He was local, but I never knew who it was, and I sent a message that didn’t get a reply. So I followed back.
And as I read, I realized that our writer was a member – and not only that – but he became a member at our home group. So he writes a gratitude list every day, and it has changed his life, and from the get go tonight, you could see and hear gratitude with every word that he spoke.
Every story is unique. And I was, and many of us were happy to learn a little bit more about our fellow. I find it amazing to hear how our friends and fellows have these amazing long term relationships. It is gratifying to know such people, because it is an honest statement of “Being.”
And he opened with this thought … That standing up in front of all those people and speaking is a sacred action, and that the room, in itself is a sacred space, which is true.
We – most of us – all drank for many reasons, for the Buzz, for the Effect, and for Bragging Rights. Being gay and lesbian as a young person, puts us in the spot to be bullied and called names. And for some, this truth is one reason that we used to drink. As a young person he was bullied and it wasn’t until just recently that this came to light for him.
To my memory, I can’t recall ever being harassed in school, because I had a group of Christian friends who would never speak a foul word to me. Better than that, it was my own father who called me names and bullied me with his belt whenever the mood hit him. Usually during a roaring bender. I didn’t have to leave the house to hear the word fag, queer or that I was a mistake.
But once our man had his first drink, he realized that “Oh, this is what it is like to be buzzed…” And I like it …
Thus went his life for a good chunk of his life. In the end when he came to the end of his drinking, doing things that he could not remember and having to be cleaned up after by his husband, and being questioned about what he had done, he decided for the second time in his life that the game was up.
Our man got two kicks at the can. The first time he was stepped into the rooms, not our rooms, but other rooms. And he went to meetings, but he wasn’t going to meetings… We respect the dually addicted, and the first time around he was able to give up the drugs because of an important relationship. But he wasn’t ready to put down the alcohol. Because like some, we are able to give up certain addiction, but nobody was going to take away our alcohol.
But things were afoot. And it was time to come clean and get sober. And in reflection, our man, in the beginning, he was reticent, and was not really keen on following directions. He had his ideas of what he should be doing, I know this because I worked with him a while, and that did not go very well. And I had to let him go and watch him find someone he WAS WILLING to listen to and to follow. And that eventually happened.
Hence the gratitude list…
I don’t write gratitude lists. But I write here. Over the past year and a half our man has grown leaps and bounds. He is fully engaged in meetings. He does what he needs to do, and a little bit more. He participates in group business, he chairs meetings, he makes sound recommendations, and he is one gratifying man of the people. And we could not be prouder of him.
In the end one of the Thursday night ladies took a 32 year cake. And we heard on a couple of occasions, just what happens when you get sober. The promises start coming true. As was mentioned by our speaker.
At his first meeting they read the promises at the beginning of the meeting, and just fresh in the door, he heard about all the things he was going to win … A.L.A The Price is Right, in winning the final showcase showdown.
Insert Promises here …
Our woman has traveled around the world, she has worked with the less fortunate and gone to and ministered in areas of conflict in Africa. Just you wait, stick around and just see how the promises come to fruition when you get and stay sober for a long period of time.
I have a good few years on our man, but not as many as our woman tonight. It was a great successful meeting. Everybody left with some gratitude in the hearts and on their lips.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is a bitterly cold night. We are sitting at (-15c) at this hour.
Last night we rang in the year with the Ball Falling in New York City. Old habits die hard. It just wouldn’t be New Years Eve without the ball. Hubby bought a bottle on non-alcohol bubbly that we drank at midnight. The one night of the year where we break out the crystal flutes that we bought for our wedding night.
Today was a sleep in day. And I guess the day began with the usual routine and the prep to get out to the church. I opted to a later call time since it was a holiday and I arrived at the church about a quarter to five. I was still cranking out chairs when our chair arrived, then others followed.
We had a successful business meeting with new members participating in the decision process of the group. And we will be adding a couple of new books to the reading rotation. We’ve only been using the Big Book, 12 and 12 and Living Sober. But for the next three months we have added As Bill Sees It and Coming to Believe.
We sat a FULL compliment of folks. The room was packed with many friends and fellows, very grateful for the meeting. Some of my friends came that don’t usually come to our meeting regularly. So that was good.
We served up lots of goodies along with the regular fare of coffee and cookies. And that went over very well. The chair read from Living Sober and the topic of Live and Let Live.
“An ancient sage said that none of us should criticize another until we have walked a mile in the other person’s boots. This wise advice can give us greater compassion for our fellow human beings. And putting it into practice makes us feel much better than being hung over.”
When I wrote my 2012 reflection I realized that I had not practiced Live and Let Live very well on certain occasions, with certain people. Like another friend of mine from our meeting says that “she has a problem with hitting the publishing button prematurely before considering what she is saying!”
That has happened in the past. And that jumped off the page to me in stark reality when I wrote about it. I lost certain relationships because of this issue and on the other hand, I ended certain relationships because I had to walk away and live and let live. I also heard to night that some folks forget the “Live” portion of the slogan. That we are so consumed with people pleasing or seeking approval that we forget to live in real time.
One real issue that has dogged me forever and a day is that I am still trying to gain approval or really any word from certain people in my life, and I sent a particular Christmas card out knowing how long a reply would take, and no reply came, again another year has gone by with no response. I did not practice live and let live. I acted on a thought – in good faith – that gave no return on the investment. Sad !!!
The good thing tonight was all of my good friends came to the meeting. A good night was had by all. Lots of first sober New Years in the room, and first holiday seasons for some also. And over the last week or two, we served the community and helped keep numbers sober. Lots of gratitude for simple gestures of kindness.
All in all it was a successful holiday season. No real problems and lots of kindness and fellowship with good friends.
That’s about all I have for you right now.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a great Christmas Day. I hope you all had a great day as well. We are sitting at a balmy (-9c) at this hour.
We were up around 11 this morning and I put the turkey in the oven to bake around noon, for a 3 p.m. dinner time. This was the first year that we shared our table with guests. I had invited a good friend over for dinner today. We had good food, great conversation. Hubby talked his ear off … He spoke more words today than he usually does in a weeks time … I kid.
We had a simple gift exchange this morning. Since we really did not specify what we wanted exactly, I bought a couple of items for hubby, and he bought me a couple of beautiful shirts. I can always use shirts.
I did the dishes while hubby entertained our guest, and he and I set off for the church around 4:45 for a 5 p.m. arrival. It was a cold night so we traversed Westmount Square. It was odd walking through the tunnel and the Metro Station and having it basically deserted because of the holiday.
On the way through the mall we stopped to see just how Target is going to extend the store outwards from the original front of the space. And it seems that they are expanding out some 30 feet into the mall, and more than 100 feet to the side all the way to the “Yellow” store. That’s about all the space they can have seeing there is a diner directly in front of the appropriated space unless they push them out and they take that space as well. They really can’t extend out any farther because there are retail shops to the opposite side of the store front.
Set up was quick because there were two of us working. Which gave us some time to sit and chat before folks began trickling in. And I was surprised that we sat 23 folks, a good turn out for Christmas. We read from Living Sober and “Being wary of Drinking Occasions.”
Living Sober is a great “first book to read” when you just come in to the rooms. Even before you set eyes on the Big Book or the Twelve and Twelve. Because it deal with REAL life situations. And addresses all those things you might ask about with real advice and guidance. Several members spoke to that point tonight. It was apropos to read this passage, somewhat a longer reading than most of them, but important nonetheless.
It spoke about being wary of drinking occasions. And it gives advice at how to navigate the sticky topic of the fact that we don’t drink, and it gives prudent, honest advice as to how to navigate this topic with friends, family and coworkers. Since it is the holiday season, we get a reminder of just how we can navigate the holiday party, family gathering or night outings with friends.
We went around the room once – everybody got in. And we finished up around 8:15. Several folks brought food, candy, cookies and nachos. And in the end we packed up all the goodies because everybody was stuffed from Christmas dinner. So we will have goodies galore next week on New Years Night.
It was a beautiful bright sunny day. We have a little snow on the ground. And if the forecasters are correct, we will get a 20 cm dump on Thursday. We are hopeful for a good dusting or more.
A good day was had by all. For many at our meeting, this was their First Sober Christmas. And they chose to spend part of their night with us. We are blessed. Many of my friends came to the meeting after serving meals to the community all afternoon. We all believe in random acts of kindness, and many of us did service in some shape or form today. Which made the day rich and hopeful.
In the end, a little kindness went a long way.
I hope you had a good day and we will see you tomorrow.
More to come, stay tuned.
Today has been a day of anticipation. The first snow storm of the season is on our doorstep. The Ave Maria moment we have been waiting for since last winter. So tonight we wait for the maiden to arrive and we will welcome her into our lives for another season. They say it will snow BIG snow overnight. And it will be glorious.
We’ve been bemoaning the weather men because they just could not agree on a forecast, but it seems Environment Canada is sticking to its story of a Storm Warning for the city at this hour, and that hasn’t changed all day, so we shall see.
We were up early, hubby is working away on his next few chapters due to his supervisor before Christmas. I headed off for some supermarket safari because I won’t want to go out in shin deep snow tomorrow.
I headed out early for the church, and when I got there, the place was blazing with light from the church. Tonight was the holiday concert which ran into our allotted time slot. Which was glorious.
It was a good group. Lots of friends came tonight, some that I have been missing as of late. We sat a full complement. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 2, “There is a Solution.”
“We are a people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful…
The feelings of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement that binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution…
This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.”
In the portion of this chapter we read about the many “types” of alcoholics. And from our numbers we heard tonight who inhabited which description. And just how precarious some find themselves, to think a drink is dangerous, and to take a drink, suicidal… We all agree that we can’t never have ” just one…”
We went the entire period and squeaked in everyone who wanted to share.
And I remarked that I began to drink as a young man. Being a third generation alcoholic was my lot in life. My grandfather was a type A drunk. “The bottle hider.” My father was a type B drunk. The “Jekyll and Hyde” alcoholic. I was neither. I never drank from a bottle, never hid alcohol. I never drank at home, and always in the company of others. Because for me, drinking was done to “fit in.” At least that’s what I was taught.
In my early young life, all I wanted was to be like my father. And as I grew up and Jekyll and Hide would come to visit, I remember saying that I would never become my father. But as I aged, I became an alcoholic, just like my father, to a certain degree. Not to the degree that I had witnessed in my life, but I did run my own circuitous path, into sobriety eventually. Twice …
Another year has passed. And I get another candle on the cake, and another medallion on Tuesday night. I would like to think that I earned my keep this past year. In retrospect, God gave me just enough to keep me busy and away from the drink for another year. I stay close to the book and my fellows.
I communicate with my friends at least once a day. I do service for my fellows and I give freely of what was so freely given to me, one day at a time.
I have great friends, who care about me and I about them.
But therein is the choice we all make for ourselves. We can be a participants in our sobriety or we can just sit there and warm a chair on the outer circle. Most of my friends are front row participants. Very few choose to sit on the outer circle.
I get to listen to folks share about sobriety at every meeting I go to. And we, with time, get to hear, reiterated, why we are here, and for what reason, and why we could never go back to the way it was, because to drink is to die. Because for me, I don’t know if I have another recovery in me, if I go back out.
I remember what it must have felt like for my friends when I embarked on my near fatal slip. I was not communicating, I was isolating, and I know in my heart of hearts that I truly hurt my friends. People who were long time sober when I came back the second time.
I know that look that came upon me when I finally crossed the bridge from the beach to the city on Christmas Eve at The Poinciana Meeting. They were all there to welcome me, but in hindsight, I knew the looks on their faces. That pained pity look of “wow, that could have been me…” “But for the grace of God, I am still sober…” All those things I would say to myself now, seeing folks coming in and out having gotten stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism.
Now that I have banked 11 years … Hindsight is my best teacher. I know what lengths I will go to to stay sober, and what is possible when I work with another.
And I know for me, as the book says,
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 meditation what you can do each day 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 fellows. 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.
This is what you find at the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book. It has come to pass that for a while we work our steps. Then we get to put them into practice in our daily lives. And we work a little more, and we get more practice. And we keep working on and on, day after day, month after month and year after year.
And sometime in the future you mark your first year, then five, and hopefully ten, and further up the line where I sit at 11 years.
I am really grateful for my friends and my fellows, and for my sponsor. Who tells it like it is, honestly and from his heart. “You don’t want to go back there because you know what will happen if you do…”
I got a card from friends today along with a packet of prayers from the Big Book. And I will close with these words:
My Creator, show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love…
Goodnight from Montreal. More to come, stay tuned …
It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was cold last night. Our first night coming ever so close to single digits. Definitely hoodie and sweater weather. I have to get my toques out of the closet.
I spoke with my friend Sam last night, and after said conversation I took the plunge and opened up a Twitter account. (@jandrews1350). It was the last piece of technology that I had been avoiding since it’s inception. But thanks to Sam, you can follow my tweets. There is a twitter feed on the blog on the top right side of the sidebar.
This morning came early and I set off for the Metro and went to put tickets on my card and the damned machine would not accept my debit card … So I drained my wallet of all my cash to buy tickets.
My fellow community seeker met me for church at the Cathedral. It was a nice service. And I did not know that one of our mutual friends from the room is a deacon at the cathedral. He was getting on ok, without his cane until the end of the service. As usual my spiritual director was on the altar with the rector and the assistant priest (they were ordained together in June).
We stayed for coffee and conversation with a few folks. I joined up for a talk on Spirituality on the 21st of September. (this coming Friday). That should prove to be exciting. Since I have Friday night’s free.
After service we walked back to my friends home and it was beautiful out. I had never been up in that neck of the woods. McGill was hosting a football game so there were a lot of people out and about. And then we crossed Parc – right at the mountain and I spied the cross on top of the mountain. That’s someplace that I haven’t been in a long time.
She showed me her films and we farted around on the blog. You really don’t know the love and care that I put into this site. It’s a lot of grunt work, making all the bells and whistles work.
We had simple lunch of soup which was great. And then I took the bus home. The day is only halfway finished. More to come later on this evening.
The evening grew cooler as the sun went down. I was needed to meet up with one of my friends to help with set up and coffee. I just enjoy this meeting so much because of all the wonderful people that attend.
It was a packed house. And we are two stories from the end of the book that we have been reading for many months now. One more story, then the end of the month tradition meeting and then the first week of October to finish the book, then we move back into reading the Big Book from cover to cover.
We won’t get to the stories in the back for some time because of the first 164 pages are the same in all editions. We will have to make sure folks are reading from a 4th edition because we did not read those stories yet, because the text we are in now only cover editions 1,2,and 3.
Our story tonight was about a man of war located in Europe in the late 1930′s and into the 40′s and WWII. And after more than twenty years in the armed services our man found himself looking at a medical discharge because of his drinking. They let him go, even when he couldn’t see that he had the problem. He had to be hard off to get booted from WWII service.
The thread that most of us picked up on from the story was the connection between our man and his mother. She had done everything for him that she could to the point of becoming pitiless and sorrowed. It came to pass that she was going to turn him out into the world on his own, and at this point, there was nothing he could do to or know how to take care of himself because he was so thick in the drink. But he found the rooms in Ireland. And got sober. And he got his family back and he stayed sober.
I was twisting in my chair all throughout the meeting because my mind was churning. I was trying to find the words to speak what I wanted to say, and it went like this …
The first time I got sober, it was mere weeks into my AIDS diagnosis. All of my friends bailed. My parents bailed, my brother bailed. My then boyfriend bailed on me. Leaving me with nothing but the shred of self respect I had left.
There was nobody to care for me or about me, so why bother?
If Todd and Roy had not saved me from the grip of death and addiction to alcohol, I would surely have died years earlier. They loved me back into life and well into years of sobriety. From point A to point B, when I worked for them and then point B, when they decided to pull up stakes and move out West, I was safe.
Once they were gone I had to reintegrate back into a world I knew nothing about, because I lived in their world for two years never having to deal with the outside on my own. I always had them to guard and guide me.
But they moved away. And for two years I stewed. I wasn’t sponsored. But I was going to meetings. I made a few friends in Miami, where I was now living and I had a job. While that lasted. Not very long …
But the farther that time took me from the protection of Todd and Roy, I was left to my own devices. And hindsight tells me that that was not a really good place to be (left to my own devices). And I made a fateful decision that facilitated my slip back out the door.
And you would have thought that after everything that I was put through during those next few years that I would not walk, but RACE back to the rooms. I knew where they were.
The sad fact is that after 9-11, We, Me, Us, and everybody else, just could not stop drinking. It was sickening. But I thought tonight that had i stayed on the drink, and not gotten sober, nobody would have been the wiser. I had no family to get back, no friends to get back, no real life to speak of. And that’s the way it was.
Had it not been for Troy taking me back to my first meeting, after his kind and loving care over the weeks prior to him breaking his anonymity to me and inviting me for his cake that very night, I may not have gotten sober again.
And had it not been for Ed, and Fonda, and Charlie and Malaika and Christian, I probably would not have stayed. They cared for me around the clock. For months at a time. They gave me a reason to get sober again. Having other people counting their days like I was was stimulant to the journey to begin in earnest.
Family has always been a sore spot for me because we live in separate worlds. And it is ignorance, stupidity and arrogance that keeps us in separate worlds. Once an abomination always an abomination… There is no salvation there.
I have a reason to stay sober today. And I am grateful for every single person in my life today. Especially my new found friends who make time for me and want to break bread with me and who love me because I am a human being who deserves love and care. It has been a wonderful day.
Welcome to my twitter followers. If you have twitter, add me and follow along the blog on twitter, since I added the link now.
I hope you all had a good day today.
More to come, Big Brother begins shortly.