It is still a little cold out and we had to break out the winter coast this week, as a reminder that winter is not over yet. So it has been that kind of week. Cold in the mornings, much warmer by afternoon and then temps drop as soon as the sun sets. It has been a very busy week this week.
I’ve been spending a lot of time with Grasshopper this week. Doing a few more meetings than usual, I’ve been hitting the 7:30 morning meeting at Wood this week. Which means a 6 am wake-up call and a quarter till pick up for the meeting. Grasshopper took his 6 month chip on Thursday which led to an adjustment in my meeting schedule. The morning meeting is in need of experience, strength and hope so one should never try to disappoint.
The only time I get to share on a usual week is on Tuesday nights, if the circle gets round to me, and on Sunday morning at the breakfast meeting. It was suggested that I add some morning meetings to my schedule because grasshopper benefits from hearing me share on the Daily Reflections and at other meetings. He says that unless I hit sharing meetings, where do I get to put to use ten years of sobriety? So I have added a few mornings to my schedule.It is just some minor adjustments have been made to accommodate morning events.
Thursday was a busy day with the chip in the morning and then later that night was Ron’s wake. It was a beautiful gathering of family, friends and fellows all “Friends of Bill.” Grasshopper and I and my sponsor went to pay our respects and to chat with people we might not get to see as often as we’d like. But for the most part, everyone affiliated with F.W.E. was there to represent.
Today we hit the morning meeting, and afterwards I came home and went back to bed. I get up at 6 and shower and shave for the day and hit the first meeting, then come home and go back to bed until I am needed later in the day. I don’t know what it is lately, but I have been having some serious dreams and I wake up with them and carry them into my day. And it is coming every day this week.
We got out to the church early on tonight and set up was short and sweet. We got a new power bar for the coffee urns, and I perked the coffee in the kitchen before moving the pot to the serving table. It was a full house. They emptied both the tea and coffee urns. The speaker was farmed from the wake on Thursday night.
It was a good share. At almost ten years the story was not unlike many others. Growing up with the drink. It becoming a problem. Being in denial for years until the ex wife says, “Time to go for you …” But like a friend shared tonight when he thanked the speaker, “We are everywhere!” And it was because one of us was present and listening our speaker came to the rooms. It took a few try’s at kicking the can, but eventually he got it. And still has it today.
A long time member took her ten year cake at the end of the meeting. Friends and family were all there to share in the joyous occasion. A good night was had by all.
Can anyone tell me what is going on with Mother Nature? Can she not decide whether or not it is Spring or Winter ??? Because it is freaking cold outside.
It is (3c) outside and they say it is going to snow overnight into tomorrow.
Last night I went to class wearing only a fleece hoodie and I was cold. On the way home as night wore on, it got even colder. So today I broke out my winter jacket once again, because the temps dropped again. Mother Nature is having a good laugh at us giving us some Springy weather for a few days then dropping the mercury, just because !!!
I have been listening to MDNA over the past day and overnight last night, and it is growing on me. You have to listen to it through all the way to appreciate the creativity and genius.
I was out early today and it was a good thing I was out early, because I didn’t get set up finished before some of our women came early to read their books. People don’t usually get there at 5:15, but today was different.
It was a business meeting, and we got a few more members over the last week, which we are almost at twenty members. There are not enough jobs to go around, so we are doubling up on clean up and greeting. We are giving all the newbies jobs over the next few weeks.
We sat 40 people around the circle and filled all the chairs in the round. The chair took us on a slogan journey tonight. With so many people sitting it was prudent to get the topic on the floor quickly to give everyone time to share.
- Live and Let Live … I can only get me sober and not you …
- Easy Does It … Don’t take too much on at the same time …
- But for the Grace of God … I could be worse off than I am …
- Think, Think, Think … But don’t think too much …
- First things First … Sobriety comes first, everything else follows
It was a great night. Everybody got to share and a good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of Heaven, and the pains of Hell. But most of all because I love Thee, and I want so badly to be good.”
Here are the tunes I am liking right now:
- Girl Gone Wild
- Turn up the radio
- I don’t give A …
- I Fucked Up
- Beautiful Killer
- Love Spent / Acoustic
- Give me all your luvin’ (Track 1) / Track 2
- Girl Gone Wild – HOT !!!
- Gang Bang – Massive !!! If you act like a Bitch then you are gonna die like a Bitch !!! BANG !!!
- I’m Addicted – Boo Yah !!!
- Turn up the Radio – Great
- Give me all your Luvin’ – I love it
- Some Girls – Good tune
- Superstar – Good tune
- I don’t Give A … – Whoa !!!
- I’m a Sinner … Very Austin Powers !!!
- Love Spent – very Madonna
- Masterpiece – I think it’s my favorite track YES !!!
- Falling Free – it’s ok
- Beautiful Killer – Love it !!!
- I Fucked up … Yeah Baby !!!
- B-Day Song – Bubble Gum Pop !!!
- Best Friend – it’s ok
- Give me all your Luvin’ Track 2
- Love Spent Acoustic – Excellent !!!
So it’s here … and I put a copy on my phone and now I am sitting here listening to the CD. I may have been premature until I actually sat down and listened from beginning to end one track after another, because at first I Dj popped through the tracks (a bad dj habit) to see what I want to play at a club for the floor, its a trick I learned a long time ago. It is growing on me and may become a new favorite in the evolution of Madonna. The Bad Girl Madonna is appealing.
The interspersion of religious language here and there are indicative of Madonna to make a statement about faith and God. She opens the album with confession words and goes into bad girl mode almost immediately. It feels so good being so bad, thought she is trying hard to be good.
The tracks flow very nicely from one to the next. I quite like it actually. I could learn to love this album. She did a good job. It is different from her other albums over the years. But I have my show/music/concert favorites.
- Blonde Ambition
- The Girly Show
- Ray of Light
- Confessions on a Dance Floor
- Hard Candy
I think I am a little partial to Hard Candy for the show itself. Secondly The Confessions Tour for the music. Ray of Light is up there too. Every album is another incarnation of Madonna. I guess I have to listen to it a little more closely, and I will do that over the next few days. It is worth the money paid. If you love Madonna, then buy the album.
We all grow up, and for all of those boys and girls who grew up when Madonna was an MTV star … she has come a long way since the 1980’s. Madonna has evolved again. I want to see how she presents this music en show …
TORONTO – New Democrats opted Saturday for a rhetorical spear carrier over an ideological puritan, selecting mercurial Thomas Mulcair to carry the official Opposition into electoral battle against Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
Mulcair, a combative former Quebec Liberal cabinet minister, won the NDP leadership on a fourth ballot, besting longtime party strategist Brian Topp in a contest that severely strained the party’s self-styled tolerance.
A perceived centrist who was once wooed by Harper’s Tories, Mulcair overcame loud complaints that he would abandon social democratic principles in the pursuit of power — a federal pursuit that New Democrats can now truly taste for the first time in their 50-year history.
In the end, a party now dominated by its come-lately orange wave in Quebec went with its star candidate in that province to replace the late Jack Layton, whose sudden death from cancer last August staggered New Democrats just weeks after their spring electoral breakthrough.
Mulcair claimed 57.2 per cent of the vote in the final, head-to-head showdown with Topp on Saturday’s fourth and final ballot.
Mulcair assumes the role of leader of Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition when the House of Commons resumes Monday after a one-week break.
The experienced legislative sparring partner was the candidate most New Democrats conceded was best prepared to hit the ring swinging. He’ll be put immediately to the test when the Conservatives bring down their first budget as a majority government this Thursday.
“Thomas is fearless, Thomas is organized,” NDP MP Charlie Angus said Saturday after his first choice, Paul Dewar, dropped out following the first ballot. “He’s one of the strongest MPs we’ve seen in the House of Commons and he’s certainly a match for Stephen Harper.”
Topp, a close Layton confidant and the first candidate to enter the race just three weeks after his death, fell 8,542 votes short on the final ballot against Mulcair.
He vowed to work with the new leader in a united front against the Conservatives.
Topp had earlier defended his decision to force the final ballot, rather than concede, even after it was clear he could not win.
“I think it’s fit and proper to let the party decide who the leader is and to not have the appearance that it was arranged,” said Topp.
Dark-horse contender Nathan Cullen, written off at the start of the race last fall after proposing co-operation with the Liberals, made it to the final three and cemented his role as a rising star in the party.
Cullen said his strong showing in the contest proves there’s an appetite for co-operating with Liberals.
“Change is in the wind, my friend,” he said. “I think anybody who (thought) New Democrats aren’t open to the ideas of change was obviously mistaken.”
Peggy Nash was eliminated following Saturday’s second ballot, while Paul Dewar, Martin Singh and Niki Ashton all dropped out after the morning’s initial vote.
Mulcair, Cullen, Nash and Dewar are among the NDP’s best parliamentary performers and their long absences on the leadership campaign trail have not helped the official Opposition consolidate its role.
Their return next week should reinvigorate a Commons already boiling with political controversy over allegations of election fraud and the prospect of a ground-shifting federal budget.
The NDP’s weekend leadership showcase, however, was drained of much of its excitement and vigour Saturday by a series of technical delays with the online voting system — although the source of the delay did add a minor element of intrigue.
Party president Rebecca Blaikie confirmed two IP addresses had been isolated as the source of cyber-attacks that appeared designed to slow entry into the system, effectively gumming up the works but not impairing the vote.
“Whoever this is or whatever it came from, their goal was simply to make it a pain to get into our site, to make it harder for people to vote, to block it up with a lot of traffic,” Blaikie said.
Whatever the cause, Mulcair’s victory wasn’t confirmed until late Saturday evening — timing the party had scrupulously planned to avoid.
That wasn’t the only come-down for New Democrats.
The day’s biggest ballot topped out at 65,108 voters, a less than 50 per cent turnout from a party membership that swelled to over 131,000 during the leadership campaign.
About 56,000 people had voted in advance of the convention.
Under the preferential ballot system, in which voters ranked their choices first to last, those 56,000 votes were locked in for all subsequent ballots and couldn’t be influenced by floor-crossing endorsements.
None of the vanquished candidates except Singh — who, as expected, went with Mulcair — chose to publicly endorse another contender.
As it transpired, key endorsements weren’t required.
Mulcair’s high profile in Quebec helped him maintain his status as the candidate to beat. Once a western-based protest party, the NDP’s world has revolved around Quebec since last May’s election, when an unexpected Layton-led wave swept the province and vaulted the party into official Opposition status for the first time in its 50-year history.
As the lone Quebec MP in the hunt, Mulcair made a powerful case as the standard-bearer for a party in which 58 of its current 102 seats came from his home province. Mulcair was the lone New Democrat among those 58 Quebec MPs who held his seat before last May’s federal election.
He has also caused divisions, however, among social democrats who believe he’ll turn the party into a pale imitation of the more centrist Liberals.
Elder party statesman Ed Broadbent lambasted Mulcair as temperamentally ill-suited to leadership in an extraordinary public broadside just two weeks before the convention. Jack Layton’s mother Doris endorsed Topp in the final week.
None of it could stop Mulcair.
This is the second time I try to post this because it did not auto save.
It was an adventurous day. Not to begin with mind you, it was actually a regular kind of Friday. I was up and ready to go by the time grasshopper came to get me for the trip to the church.
Set up was uneventful. I think we need to have someone look at the fuse box in the hall because every time we plug two urns into that one socket, it trips the switch on the power bar, which means that it is taking too much juice on one line. Both urns were perking until it tripped the switch. And I had to restart the urns halfway into a perk to get them finished and by the time the meeting was getting ready to start the coffee was warm at best. So something need to get checked on this week.
Our speaker came from (I think) the West Island.
It doesn’t matter how we came to addiction, whether we were introduced to it at home, or whether we come to it by friends and peers. For our man, it was the latter that brought him to addiction.
A little too young to become a “Woodstock” child. The Hippie movement came to Montreal soon after. And with it came the drugs that were part and parcel of the Woodstock experience. So it was on a playground that our man had his first taste of LSD. ( you know the conversation… You do it, no you do it, I can’t do it, and then finally, I will do it … ) just to fit in. Because it was all about fitting in.
The cycle of addiction moved from the gateway drug into full fledged alcoholism. And then what follows are the lies, the deceit, the cheating and scheming. Our boy had become a man and gathered unto himself all those things that make us men. A house, a wife, kids, a car and a pool. For us on the outside, it was all looking good. But one thing led to another and things began to go south for our man.
When does a boy become a Man ???
Sooner or later, by hook and by crook, our man made it to the rooms. That would have been in the late 1980’s. It happened to pass that our man got sober and did what he was told, all the while, things at home were getting worse. And what man would want to admit that things were falling apart at home. That is the greatest black mark for men across all ages. That we keep home, marriage, jobs and kids in tact… but that did not happen for our man, that kept him in sober bondage.
We are only as sick as our secrets.
They say that in order to get sober, we must shine the brightest of lights on those areas that we dare not show to the light of day. That the secrets we keep only keep us stuck in our sickness. Our man stayed stopped – but his secrets kept him from really getting sober. Because after 16 years of sobriety, our man fell victim to sobriety loosing its priority.
He drank over his secret.
The one thing that stood in the way of freedom and peace. He came back to the rooms, although sheepishly. It took a few weeks of hiding in the shadows because like any crazy alcoholic, “what people think about me matters more than anything else.”
We couldn’t fess up to the truth. It was better to lie and keep the sickness from getting better. That is a fear we can all attest to. Is it always better to lie or to tell the truth?
It took an old timer to get up there to say, “If you are coming back and you are sick in your soul, the come up here and take this chip.” That was the key.
Now, I don’t have to LIE any more …
Today our man is sober some almost seven years come June 2012. One day at a time and one secret at a time. It was a good story. I hope I recreated this post to the best of my memory. There are take away points from the story:
- We are only as sick as our secrets
- What people think of us is NONE of our business
- We are powerless over people, places and things
- The truth shall set us free
- Only the brightest light shone on the darkness will allow true sobriety to flourish
It was a good story. And our man is free today.
Grasshopper and I started for home. And as we got on the exit we came upon a car stopped on the ramp, in the dark. Grasshopper stopped and the car was on empty and needed gas. So we went on an adventure to find an open gas station. And after making two full circuits to try to get back to the spot we started on the highway failed, we dropped our guy off at the mouth of the exit to walk back to the car against traffic. Because to get back onto the highway to get to that exact spot would have been too far to travel in circles.
So now it is after midnight. I’ve spent the better part of 30 minutes trying to recreate this post because the machine farted and the post did not auto save.
Oh well, hopefully I hit all the salient points.
The women of my home group are all about this book as of late. It has made the rounds from one member to another and finally it came to me this past Tuesday.
I was all excited and ready to read something that was, hopefully, going to blow my socks off. That I was going to read something that I had never heard of in sobriety until now.
I’ve read a lot of books over the last ten years. Our bedroom is full of stacks of books that we have read for school and for fun. I found that in reading this book, I have heard the lessons written about before. But I wanted to give you some point of reference to look at in your own sobriety.
Stage I sobriety is the first stage in recovery. The admission of addiction, the surrender of ones life and the coming to believe that a Power Greater than Yourself can restore you to sanity. And so the journey begins. And last for a number of years. Numbers like 5 years, 7 years, 10 years appear in the text as the when Stage II recovery begins or should be begun.
You have to tackle stage one and work it successfully to begin to get your life back in one way or another. After so many years, one approaches Stage II recovery. The book, written from a woman’s perspective addresses many ideas. But I will begin with the first question that stopped me in my shoes.
- How do you define recovery? If you are in a recovery program of any kind, you need to know. Write out your definition.
When we define recovery, we also define (1) what the problem or issue is, (2) what needs to be done about that problem of issue, and (3) what our program is for. Your program cannot take you further than your own definition of recovery
- If your definition of recovery is ________, then your problem is ________, and your program will take you to _________ .
The book makes a specific request of the reader to actually specifically define what recovery means to you/the reader. And secondly asserts that problems exist in your life, therefore you need to name them in order to learn about them and thereby ridding yourself of them so as to move forwards in recovery. That before you can move forwards in recovery these things must be accomplished.
The major thrust of the book is about relationships. How to define them, what they are, who you are, what roles we played in past relationships, how do we change the people we were, into people we want to be and how to live in harmony in true loving relationships with the alcoholic.
In the book, the word “men” is missing from the story, but is instead noted as “the alcoholic.” This book was surely written by a woman to address women readers and how to get them into right space and right life in order to live accomplished lives with alcoholic husbands.
My life story, as it has been documented here gives credence to the lessons I have learned over the last 18 years living with disease, and dis-ease. Learning how to live and what to do to take care of myself and others.
I understand the sick patterns I used to follow when in relationships with others in the past, I did not have many successful relationships in the past, until now.
In the book, she talks about types of people:
- The Caretaker
- The People Pleaser
- The Workaholic
- The Martyr
- The Perfectionist
- The Tap Dancer
The writer assumes that each of us either in the past or in the present find ourselves as one of these people. And therefore have certain issues that must be dealt with in order to have a loving relationship with another.
She goes on to ask “Who is driving our Bus ???”
Then moves into this next project:
” According to my best insight, the habit pattern I most need to change, because it is limiting my recovery is this: _______________________.
We all have habits. Good ones and bad ones. And as sober people we are supposed to be able to detect and once detected, change habits. But habits are hard to change and will go down to the death before they allow us to change them. Hence, habits are a civil war …
What you live with you learn
What you learn you practice
What you practice you become
What you become has consequences.
The book moves on to change … And in order to have change one must hit a conversion point. When we “hit the wall.”
The Second First Step:
Everyone familiar with the Twelve Step Program knows that the First Step is called the desperation step. You take it when enough is enough, when things get to such a point that you say, “I don’t care what it takes. I’ll do anything. Anything. But I am not willing to continue this way.
Until there is a first step, there is nothing.
Stage II Recovery takes another first step. We call it the second first step. With it, you become as serious about your living patterns and habits as you were about the addiction that brought you into the program in the first place. Until the second first step happens, there is no Stage II Recovery …
We can only change ourselves and we are powerless over people, places and things. The whole thrust of the book is to recognize aspects of your life that need to be changed in order that in the end, you will be prepared to embrace a Stage II recovery level.
This is not new news to me. I have been in a loving relationship for almost 10 years now, and over those years I have learned about these things via other means of learning. Books, School, Life and medical situations.
I think the author assumes that we are damaged goods. That we have been addicted ourselves and so have our significant others. And that we all have issues that must be approached honestly and genuinely. And not until you face these things are Stage II recovery possible.
Been here, Done that, got the t-shirt.
In Working a Program there is a chart to fill out:
Daily Reading or Input …………………….. What and When
Sponsor / Mentor …………………………… Who and When
Group ……………………………………………. Where and When
Evaluation ……………………………………… How and When
Prayer / Meditation …………………………. How and When
Health Care …………………………………….. What and When
Celebration …………………………………….. What and When
We each should take part in every portion of this list on a daily basis. Because if you do it regularly, it becomes ingrained and then becomes a habit. I think I hit all of these on a weekly basis.
All in All habits can be good and bad. We need to foster the good habits and detect, define and work on changing the bad habits. And the writer assumes that in order to reach Stage II recovery, you must first do all this work and then be able to approach and begin to reap the rewards of Stage II Recovery.
At the end of the day, I see things that I need to work on. Some habits that I would like to change. There are areas in my marriage that could be better and need to be discussed in the future.
We are both heading into a transition period over the next few months and life with make a certain turn for the better. Because we will finally define what it is that we each want to do with the next stage of our lives.
You have to have stage I recovery for a while, well lived and situated, before embarking on Stage II. I don’t agree. Recovery comes as it does, and as life happens we see these things and habits that we need to change. At least for me and my sponsees. They write, they look and investigate and so they are always changing as the days go on.
We are all damaged by addiction. And it is up to us to make things better. It takes time. Years really. And you can’t rush the process, it comes with time. Well invested and finely worked one day at a time.
I am really glad that so many of you enjoyed last nights post on Strongholds. It took me hours to write it, thanks to some good tunes and a couple hours of peaceful time to sit and be able to write something really coherent and substantial.
The post is also PAGED so that you can return to it if you wish instead of having to go look for it after it gets buried by other posts. All you need to do is look through the PAGES list on the sidebar and click “Stronghold.”
So many people liked and sent me some beautiful comments. I really enjoyed writing that for you and for myself. I am often amazed at what comes out onto the page when I write sometimes. I continually surprise myself with insight.
Welcome to all my new followers, I am glad to have you on board. I love hearing from you.
I think Spring is finally here. The terraces in the city are open and people have been out and about all day today and yesterday reveling in the beautiful weather we have been having. We are sitting at 18c at this hour.
It was a beautiful day. I was up mid day and set out for the church early because it was so nice, I took the overland route to the church instead of walking through the tunnel.
It went like clockwork. I was done with set up around 5:30 and our women started showing up shortly afterwards. People are making good use of the room as we open the hall 90 minutes before the meeting so that people can come and read and fellowship.
We sat probably 40 + people, I did not count but it was a full house. Lots of people sat and the topic was from “Living Sober” the chapter titled: Using the Serenity Prayer …
It was short reading so we had time to get everyone in the room the opportunity to share. So many different stories about prayer, how they found it, how they use the prayer, and in the end what results come from using the prayer.
The whole prayer reads:
God grant me the Serenity
to Accept the things I cannot change
the Courage to change the things I can
and the Wisdom to know the difference
Grant me patience with things that take time
Appreciation for all that I have
Tolerance for those with different struggles
and the Strength to get up and try again
One day at a time …
I find that sometimes I use this prayer in pieces. Breaking up the first four lines into daily meditations. God grant me serenity, To Accept the things I cannot change, The Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.
Often, at the start of my day I pray for Serenity. I sometimes want to be in other places in my life by situation and circumstance, and I know that I can’t change where I am at this stage of my life, So acceptance is a good lesson. I am powerless over people, places and things, so the only thing I can change is my vision, my attitude and my thoughts, And sometimes I need to be reminded of what IS changeable in my life and what is NOT. I can’t change YOU but I can change ME, at any given point of my day, and sometimes I get to start my day over again, just by saying this prayer. So it’s a WIN – WIN scenario …
We say this prayer at every meeting. It comes like rote. It is the meeting opener, and for many a meeting closer as well. But aside from repeating the words like rote, do we take the time to dig deeper and really get to the meat and potatoes of what this prayer actually means? Everybody has their method.
It was a good night, everybody got in to share and we all learned from each other. So it was a good night over all. It’s good to be sober today.
Thanks for spending some of your time with us here. Welcome …
More to come, stay tuned …
Lifted from: Chaz One Direction
‘Stronghold’ is a term I’ve often heard used to describe patterns of thought and/or behaviour that are particularly difficult to access or change.
To me, it is like having a fortress somewhere deep in our psyche that holds these patterns and protects them from normal efforts to change or influence. The walls are so high and so well defended that we are often not even aware of what is being fortressed.
In the darkest dungeons of these fortresses, we tend to keep our oldest and deepest traumas; The hurts from childhood and the patterns we were roll-modelled in our upbringing.
The fortressed patterns even go beyond the walls and create supplemental patterns of thought and behaviour in our life that support the existence and influence of our strongholds. In other words, the help us stay sick or become even sicker. They act like the moat around the fortress. Helping keep it strong and defended.
From my own life, I can easily see my alcoholism as a stronghold. One that eventually got broken… at least as far as active drinking went.
In the deep dungeons, I kept the role modeling of my alcoholic family members, among many other things I am sure.
But I had no idea that I was learning alcoholic behaviour and thinking. In fact, it was hidden from me by my professed despising of the behaviour of the alcoholics in my family. And I did truly despise it. I remember feeling a sense of security in this aversion to their behaviours, believing that my aversion would not keep me from following a similar path.
This sense of security played the role of one of the supportive patterns of thought that fortified the stronghold. It was a completely false sense of security. It was in fact, a diversionary tactic to my alcoholism.
A friend had been abused horribly as a child. She seldom talks about it, yet the evidence is plain. She continues to lock the experience in the dungeons. Her stronghold seems to be self-destructive relationships; poor choices in men, needy friendships, and door-mat family relationships.
She supplements these patterns with achievement in her career. Rationalizing that she must be ok because she is doing so well in it. And she is… but only on the surface … and only for now.
Why would anyone want to look in the dungeon, or break the walls of the fortress when they are (over) achieving?
I could go on at length, with example after example, in my life and others’. It is a pattern I observe again and again.
Why do so few people break down the strongholds in their lives? In my experience, we are often to afraid or unaware to ever go there. But for those of us whose lives have either exploded or imploded, we are often faced with nowhere else to go but to deal with the stronghold if we ever want a chance at recovering our lives.
It is often then and only then that we are prepared to unlock the dungeon and deal with that ominous trauma that has been locked away for so long. And similarly, it is only then that we begin to recognize and become willing to deal with the supportive thoughts and behaviours that keep us sick.
When life blows up, maybe it is time to ask, what stronghold(s) got me here? What am I avoiding? What, if I dealt with it, would give me the opportunity to come back better than before I crashed?
*** *** *** ***
I wanted to write a comment on this post that Chaz wrote, but my comment went on and on so I thought it better to write here on my own sheet of paper, so to speak …
Being a child of alcoholics is not unique. There are many of us in the world, but what makes me unique? Every life is unique and every story is important. When I was a boy, before I knew what the word “alcoholism” was, it was visibly a part of my life. I was born into the cycle of abuse, addiction and alcoholism.
I did not know why things happened the way they did or why I was the point of so much abuse, as a young boy. I know why today. I was the mistake, that should never have been born. And I wonder if alcoholism was something that was used to wipe away the feelings that were being felt by my father at the time.
That abuse went on for years and as I grew older the abuse got worse. Because I was becoming more defined in who I was, and the more I grew into myself the worse the abuse got because my father had to exorcise that “other” out of existence.
And I think this is the first fortress that I had built.
How do you circumnavigate alcoholism correctly? Do you run away from it? Or do you embrace it? or do you live with it because in my shoes, there was no where to go. I learned how to bury things deep in the soul by the women who long suffered from the alcoholics in their lives. They took it and buried it, never to see the light of day.
Alcoholism was something we did. It was part of family life and existence. It was a major food group. How did I or how could I avoid becoming what I abhorred myself ? Alcohol was readily available all the time. It was a go to.
I don’t remember if my alcoholism – at first – was a product of the heaps of abuse I was shoveled over my young life. If I was drinking to forget. I don’t ever focusing on forgetting so much as fitting in. Because when I was old enough to move away and get away, my shrink taught me how to fit in …
Go to a bar, sit down and have a drink, hell, have two and see what happens.
I walked away from my family after decades of abuse with a fortress already built in my head and heart. But I can’t tell you if that played in a part in my alcoholism.
I was 21 years old, with cheek of tan and an ass of death. Alcohol only made it easier to hock my wares on the groups of other boys I was running with at the time. Maybe you could say that I drank to escape, because I drank to excess. And I guess you could say that in excess was bliss of forgetting. I did not know the first thing about being a responsible adult.
It was one failed relationship after another, I don’t know if you could even call them relationships, because I always ended up loosing … apartments, cars, clothes, and dignity. I just wasn’t wired to be an adult, and that was because I took nothing of value from the abusive parents that I had.
GAY had everything to do with it.
They say you can never go home again. And I had to go home once. And it was a huge mistake ever to make. You Can Never Go Home … again.
In my mid twenties I was still abusing the alcohol. And I did not escape the ravages of AIDS. This would be the second fortress that I learned to build. It came from deep within. But this fortress was necessary. I can tell you exactly where I built it and who helped me build it. When I met Todd and Roy working at the Stud and I learned that I was going to die, the fortress was begun.
I had two lives. The one I lived outside the bar, and the life I lived inside the bar. I couldn’t bring anything from outside – into the bar. But I had to carry everything I learned inside the bar, into my life outside.
That fortress WE built did exactly what Todd intended it to do.
I was inside that fortress, safe from anything that could impact me. Every lesson was hand picked. Every tear that I shed was borne out of suffering and sweat. I did not have time to reflect on my childhood or on the abuse heaped on me because the task on hand was much greater than any suffering that I had once experienced. That fortress kept out everything that was not good for me. Part of that fortress was sobriety. It was the glue that held the walls together. Because without it I was finished.
I can tell you now, that I still use that fortress. It exists like the skin on my body. It protects me and keeps me safe. Because at any given moment now, I can retreat into the fortress and draw up the gate and the moat is quite deep.
At one point, with my defenses down and missing my greatest supporters, I stepped outside that fortress and took my life into my hands. Something that I regret to this day, but had that portion of my life not happened, I would not be here where I am today, because I feel that everything happens for a reason and that I was destined to get here.
And the circuitous root I took to get here almost cost me my life. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful and PATIENT !!!
It waits for us in the parking lot, doing push ups while we are in the safety of a meeting. And when I least expected it – alcoholism dangled a fish in front of me and I was off and running …
I have spent the better part of my life exorcising the demons of my past and making spiritual amends with people I may never see again, and for what it is, I don’t care if I ever see them again.
Ten years sober and I can take a look into my soul and see the fortresses. For there are more than one. They are plotted about at distinct points on my life map. I guess you could say that in order to get to me you need to pass the many gates and fortresses that are protected by magic, dragons and wizardry.
Fortress One …
In order to survive my childhood I had to build a pretty imposing structure to stay safe and alive. And I guess I learned to do that from my mother, and my grandmothers. It was a mental fortress that kept my mind in tact whilst my father tried to kill me with abuse. It’s really something that I did not go out of my mind or retaliate in any way. Because that would have gotten very messy.
You always imagine giving it back in the same method and severity that was dished out to you. That would not have ended well.
Fortress Two …
I had to build a fortress that would keep me safe inside its walls in order to survive the ravages of AIDS that was taking men and boys around me with such ferocity that I don’t know how I escaped. But Todd and I build rapidly and heavily. And like I said, that fortress did exactly what Todd intended it to do.
Fortress Three …
This fortress I built myself in sobriety. It is the one that I am the most proud of. Because it not only protects me, it protects my husband. They say we do should not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I’m sorry, but I have regrets in the past, and I wish to shut the door on areas of my life. It may not be healthy, but It is what it is. We don’t discuss my past. We don’t discuss family, and we surely don’t discuss the past – at all …
My life is safely ensconced inside a fortress of my own making. Because like any good alcoholic, I can readily access the past. Better today, than I could in years past, because there is such distance between then and now. I know where those memories are. Aided and abed-ed by a collection of family photographs I own.
A good many of those photographs draw blanks in my mind. I can’t recall certain things in my life, and I can’t explain why that happens. There must be some deep seeded emotions connected to those photographs that my mind won’t allow me to access, and probably for good reason. I guess as Chaz writes about past traumas from childhood, most of my childhood was traumatic well into my late teens. But it was terribly aggressive when I was much younger.
I can recall some things, but not all, and I guess that’s a good thing. I think it would take some serious drugs or serious therapy to get those doors to open and right now, I am not about to go looking into those rooms in my mind. They are better left alone.
What do I know at ten years of sobriety ?
I have not had a drink in more than ten years and three months. That’s the longest I have gone without a drink. But I had to get here. And at the time of my coming back the second time, I had to make a decision. I was no longer a boy. And I surely did not know what it meant to be a man. And that definition came to me well after I got sober. The fortresses that were built by me and for me served their purposes. To get me to the next way point …
My first, real time, sober relationship. I was ready and willing. It happened before I knew what was happening. And I knew in that flash that that was it and the rest they say is history.
In all my years of being in this relationship I can tell you that only once, only once, did I feel savage anger of the past grip me and almost take over. The kind of savage anger that is destructive and harmful in every sense of the word. And I never want to feel that kind of savage anger again. So that fortress is strengthened to the highest degree of readiness.
But for me today … I know for certain these things …
I will never get to say words that need to be said, to the people that those words need to be spoken to.
I will never get to become a man in the eyes of those who truly need to see me as a man.
I will never get my day on the stand, to plead my case and make others understand that I made decisions in my life that had to be made for my own survival and were not because of any one else except for myself.
You can never go home again … EVER !!!
Those fortresses play a crucial role in who I am today. They protect me, and they protect my husband. And if you are lucky enough to know us, and we know you, one day, you may be invited into that fortress. But for now, it is only hubby and myself … inside our fortress.
The view out of our 17th story windows…
2012 … Winter has come and gone. I have been marking time as I write each night and it seems to have come to an end. Another Winter in the books. It has gotten progressively warmer as the days have come. And today on March18th, we opened the windows for the first time since the beginning of Winter 2011.
And so we bid goodbye to the silence as we do every year. Here is my yearly Ode to the Silence …
This is my yearly Ode to the Silence Post… as seen earlier on the blog.
The weather has changed as of late. It got warmer over the last few days and so for now the first order of business is to take down the plastic on the windows and for the first time in six months, open those windows and let some much needed fresh air into the house. This is the view from our living room out to the West. There is a slight breeze blowing and the sky is clear.
My Ode to the Silence comes every year as we celebrate the opening to the world once again after a long and hard winter. So for a few moments we reflect on the silence that has wrapped us in her embrace for the last six months. If I look back at the date this was originally written, it was April 20th 2007. Today’s “Opening” came on April the 2nd 2010.
Silence, she is warm and inviting, she is womb like and soft. She brings with her soft breezes and the quiet that accompanies the first falling snow. There is wisdom on learns about when one welcomes the silence into ones life. I find that if one does not find their place within the silence one is truly lost to the elements and noise of the world around them.
This yearly “Ode” that is written to bless the silence and thank it for months of kindness and warmth, and bid it farewell for now until we meet again. This does not mean that one will not be able to seek the silence amid the business of the day or the noisiness of night. One must understand what worth lies amid the silence and how that silence can become ones mentor instead of ones enemy.
She teaches me that it is within the silence that one finds the breath. And when one finds the breath, one finds the heartbeat. For if you do not take time to honor the beating heart, then you have no life to be grateful for. Hence the need to always seek and respect the silence. In the business of the day we forget that silence is important to the management of ones life.
So we bid the silence adieu for now until we meet again in months to come. For now we must find a place within that we can reunite with the silence that has left us, and we can remember her warmth and care over the last six months of winter.
Farewell mother of the womb, until that day you greet us again…
What is St. Patty’s Day without the prerequisite glass of Guinness and some serious partying with your friends? Since the parade here in (Montreal) is tomorrow, it was solely a drinking day.
We are all wanting to take a day off from recovery because it has been meeting overload for the last week. With it being March break and all we have been hitting a few more meetings than usual.
With time on my hands, I received Grasshopper’s daily journal entry and word from a friend who just moved out to Victoria ( and lives by the sea) read: Jealous!!! I didn’t have much to do today. So around 3 we took our daily afternoon nap.
But it wasn’t going to be that easy. Somewhere very close, either on the balcony next door or above us or whether from the hotel next door, a group of rowdy party makers were getting it on pretty heavily.
It started out slow … a few drinks in hand. And there must have been a handful of people involved because as the party ramped up the voices got shrilly. And we were laying there and I was like “really, REALLY !!!”
The chant began small … chug, chug, chug, chug, chug … then crescendo ed to a loud CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG CHUG …. They were pounding down the alcohol fast and furiously. It was almost like being in the middle of the party.
Furniture crashed and people fumbled. It appeared that they were very drunk by the end of the chug a thon. This went on for a good hour. They really must have been slammed, because I sure was, just listening to it.
Then thankfully, it got very quiet.
Maybe someone complained, or they ran out of liquor or quite possibly they all blacked out and passed out from the copious amounts of liquor that was being imbibed.
The party must have broken up because I did not hear them again, thankfully.
I got my nap in. And it was a good nap because my dreams were heavenly. Oh the things I get up to in my dreams. Thank God they are only dreams, because I don’t think I could handle them in real life. ” just saying.”
They say that it isn’t a party until something gets broken.
I am sure the thudding we were hearing was furniture being overturned and destroyed. But a little while ago I was out on my balcony and from below someone dropped a bottle on the sidewalk and it shattered …
It was a party now …
Britain’s Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, presents shamrock flowers as a parade ground at Aldershot army base in southern England March 17, 2012. She was presenting shamrocks to members of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, a tradition on St. Patrick’s Day.
Reuters/ Toby Melville Britain Entertainment, Military Society Royals.
It was a dreary wet night. The air was misty with drizzle. And a little on the cool side. We were all waiting for tonight, I am not sure what we were all waiting for except that we would all be together again tonight for a meeting. And the people were not disappointed.
Someone threw a wrench into setup tonight, as I opened the door to our cabinet our huge box of paper cups was gone, and only 2 packages of cups were left. It seemed that someone was messy with the way they went about taking from us. The box must have been pulled out and the stuff that was there was just thrown back into it haphazardly. We made due …
We had a packed house. It was a good night for a meeting. Lots of sobriety in the room. And our speaker came, (I think) via the West Island, because she mentioned being a West Island Girl. And she knocked it out of the park. There was so much to her story that I tried to grasp one or two themes that she brought up to write on.
Alcohol for most, is but a symptom. But for our speaker alcohol was but the gateway drug that took her to the darkest places one could go, from an innocuous sip of beer as a child down the rabbit hole into a full fledged heroine addiction that almost killed her.
She spoke about being the black sheep in the family and being branded a scapegoat for all the sins and problems of her family. That seems to be a common theme that came up for me and grasshopper. But when she got sober, the rest of the family had to stop pointing fingers at her and start looking at themselves. Hence let us take two looks at “Scapegoat.”
“A person made to bear the blame for others.” In the historical religious sense the scapegoat was used to bear the sins of the priests and people on the day of atonement…
Lev. 16:8-26; R.V., “the goat for Azazel” (q.v.), the name given to the goat which was taken away into the wilderness on the day of Atonement (16:20-22). The priest made atonement over the scapegoat, laying Israel’s guilt upon it, and then sent it away, the goat bearing “upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited.” At a later period an evasion or modification of the law of Moses was introduced by the Jews. “The goat was conducted to a mountain named Tzuk, situated at a distance of ten Sabbath days’ journey, or about six and a half English miles, from Jerusalem. At this place the Judean desert was supposed to commence; and the man in whose charge the goat was sent out, while setting him free, was instructed to push the unhappy beast down the slope of the mountain side, which was so steep as to insure the death of the goat, whose bones were broken by the fall. The reason of this barbarous custom was that on one occasion the scapegoat returned to Jerusalem after being set free, which was considered such an evil omen that its recurrence was prevented for the future by the death of the goat” (Twenty-one Years’ Work in the Holy Land). This mountain is now called el-Muntar…
In the end she arrived in the rooms in 1990, but took until 2000 to really get it. And she shared that the first time you come in, it is a gift, but if you don’t get it the first time, you really have to work for it, no matter how many times you take a step into the rooms. Some of us took more than one run at sobriety before we really got it. But she is sober today some 11 years now.
We are all human and we all feel. Coming from being a fearful young girl, there are still some things she battles with today. Many of us deal with self esteem issues, being not enough, not being able to do enough good, fear and so forth and so on. That is something that we learn how to deal with in sobriety.
It was a great share. We laughed and we giggled, but really, we all felt for her getting up there and sharing such a stark warning of a story for us all … You come in, you go to meetings, get a sponsor and do service. Because if you don’t do those things, your success in the program are slim.
It was a happy ending to the night with not one but two cakes.
One of our trusted servants to the meeting, one of our many incredible and kind women I have ever met and know today took a 37 year cake from our Matriarch, we are all so happy for her. So much long term sobriety.
Secondly, a good friend from the South Shore, a woman I know very well, and have seen ever since coming into the rooms here in Montreal took a 41 year cake. It is always a blessing to see her in any meeting where ever that meeting is. She was pure joy.
A good night was had by all.
Dinner time and some late night tv.
The radar says “A storm is a coming …” And if it does, it may be the first storm of the year for us. But because of where Montreal sits on the map, weather is a capricious lady.
I’ve been hemming and hawing about writing something today, because I usually wait for Friday to work in a meeting and what’s going on. I confirmed with grasshopper his attendance tomorrow night and he wryly said that “he wouldn’t miss it for the world, the chance to watch sparks fly!”
It was an off day today. Hitting meetings over several days takes a toll on you, where today I was like, “can I just turn recovery off for a day, maybe?” Always being on point get tiring at times. Always having to have the brain on “safe mode” is a pain in the ass. But I can’t turn it off, no matter how hard I try.
I was up early today farting around. And so I called grasshopper to see what he was doing tonight, and he was pooped out, or as he called it “meeting’d out!”
So I hemmed and hawed, and finally around 5 o’clock, I decided that a disco nap would be nice. Hubby joined me and it was all nice and quiet. For a little while. Then I was lying there and the hum of a helicopter was approaching and then you could feel it really close by, the noise it was making and how noisy it was, like right outside the windows. So I got dressed and went out on the balcony and there over head was a helicopter holding steady. I guess the riots on the streets were getting out of hand.
I was like, “really!! Really!!” A nap was quickly fizzling out.
My brain has been working overtime. Thoughts coming one after another. As fast as they flit in, they flit out. And with each pass, the thought carried with it it corresponding feeling or emotion. That’s when I like to spray Teflon on my brain so that none of the corresponding emotions stick in my brain for any length of time.
The one thing I need to say here is that I am hiv+ and with that comes the curse of being able to read people at 50 paces. And trusting that I know what I know, and listening to my heart – sometimes we have to say things that hurt people for their own good. I learned very well how to write – I paid a princely sum for a university education so my abilities to “Compare and Contrast” are very good.
I write for me and my readers. And with ten years of sobriety I know a few things about life, myself and the program. 18 years being Poz has served me very well. If I don’t like you, I sure as shit aren’t going to waste my time on you.
It is not a sin to write about life and people. That is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we need to hear words that we don’t like. And sometimes it takes a queer to speak those words…
I am where I am. And that will have to do. I wrote a few notes to friends around the world and dropped a few comments here and there. Trying to offer counsel and offering a kind word here and there.
You don’t get a day off from sobriety. There is always something to do, learning how to manage the thoughts as they come in, learning where to put them as they pass by. Knowing which ones to keep and which ones to discard.
I don’t know if I’ve drained my brain well enough here …
We shall see what happens over the next 24 hours. Holy told me not to make any decisions and stick to a years commitment to what I am doing. After that change is fair game. So that’s that.
Dinner time. Time to boogie …
( 0 c ) and wet flurries are on tap for overnight. I heard the word “Snow” thrown about on the evening news tonight, I think points farther North are getting slammed with the white stuff. We might get away with a dusting.
It is March Break this week. So I have time on my hands. It has been a very eventful last few days. Sobriety is has been keeping me on my toes, so to speak. After the last dust up over my “taking someone’s inventory” and writing about it I have spent the better part of the past few days processing where I am on the whole matter.
I spoke to my sponsor about it. And he said that A.A. cannot remain static. It has to change with the times. And if you stick with it long enough, one day the older members will go and then, things can move forwards.
I spoke to my feminine sponsor who tells it like it is. She doesn’t mince words, with me or anyone else for that matter, and she told me to step the matter. And to see what part I played in it, if I was mentally masturbating the issue or harboring a resentment. I haven’t harbored a resentment in a long time, and the feeling was unfamiliar.
Yes, I attended a Group Conscience. And Yes, I did take your inventory. And this is my blog, and so whatever I write here is a snapshot of what is going on in my head at any given time I decide to sit down and write. So you see me actively working my sobriety out in real time. And if you got bent out of shape then so be it. I had a feeling and felt an emotion and it held me hostage for a few days. And I mentally masturbated it for a while.
But last Sunday I picked up a new book called “Emotional Sobriety II.” And I’ve been reading it against what is going on in my head and last night I came upon a reading on the Tenth Step.
“Tenth Step” “You’ve heard the words at every meeting. But maybe you need to understand more of what they mean. “Continued to take personal inventory” “Continued” was easy enough, since it refers to an ongoing process I do frequently – some – times daily or even minute by minute. “Inventory” was also easy. It was an echo of a fourth step, where I did an inventory of myself.
But then I noticed a difference. It was always there, so how did I miss it? In the Fourth Step inventory was “moral”; in the Tenth Step, it is “personal.” Was the different wording significant?
Bill W. warned us … (“After Twenty-Five Years” ) Grapevine, March 1960 and reminded us that unless we keep growing, we fall back.
My inventory includes my spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical dimensions, to say nothing of how I relate to other people. And so, taking a “personal inventory” means that I attend all aspects of myself, of my “person,” including, but not only, the “moral” part of me.
Suffice to say … I am over it now. Sometimes we change over a period of time, and sometimes you change over a period of days. Step work is something you do actively, daily and often.
Tonight I had time on my hands and grasshopper was off to Lachine to share at the Beacon Group. So I invited myself along. It was a sparse meeting, but a few familiar faces. Grasshopper is growing before my eyes and blossoming into the man he is becoming. Every time we share we get to rework our stories and certain aspects of our story get honed. It was a good night. Everybody welcomed his message. And thanked him accordingly.
I try, each week, to spend time with him if only to listen to him talk. It is a good job if you have one. Cherish that time while you have it.
I have a good group of friends who give me sound advice whenever I need it on whatever topic I need to deal with at any given moment. This is life, there is no dress rehearsal. You either work your sobriety or you fall by the wayside.
With that I will close with my sponsors words …
“You may have time in the program, but are you really sober???”
“Are you really making good use of your sober time in being presently sober ???
It got frigidly cold this evening as we departed the church to come home. With the sun out all day, it was much warmer all day and into sunset. We are sitting at (3c) at this hour, with rain to come for later tonight and overnight.
I noticed that they took up all the carpets from the elevators and in the lobby of the building, with the hopes that we are done with messy snow and snowy shoes coming in the building.
The long range forecast over the next 14 days is clear of snow, which means that we must be on the end of snow for this winter season. Hopefully the weather will become warmer as the days go on.
I was up early today and farted around on the internets for a few hours before getting ready to hit my Tuesday routine. I had to hit the grocery store on the way out for milk and cookies and I arrived at the church well early for set up and I was finished by 5:30. I wasn’t expecting anyone for at least half an hour so I got some reading in before the girls started showing up around 6 to read their Big Books.
The room was packed. We sat the entire table and both sides. The reading came from Living Sober, the reading Remembering your Last Drunk. It is a short reading but elicited some really tough shares around the circle.
The share got all the way around the table and halfway around the outer circle before the chair called time. Everyone had a story. And it wasn’t like someone trying to “out drunk” the person sitting next to them. There are some serious stories out there and so it went.
I had two last drunks. And I share about that, because I compare the first last drunk with the second last drunk. The first last drunk happened in August of 1994. A month had passed since being told that I was going to die, and so after work I headed to a club to drink myself into the ground. I was going to kill myself softly with the drink. And I ended up in the club parking lot, passed out in my friend Danny’s arms while the ambulance came to administer help. It wasn’t pretty and I lived…
The second last drunk happened sometime around December the 8th, which would have been a Saturday, and the 9th of December 2001, followed on Sunday. Which is the day I hit my first meeting, the second time around.
I was in my mid thirties. I was living in South Beach. And I was trying to hold on to my youth by trying to fit into a community that was much younger than I was, and much much prettier, buffer and tan. It was always the same, work all week, to binge on Saturday night at Salvation… ironically, I did not attain salvation. I went out that fateful night, I drank copious amounts of liquor throughout the night, I don’t remember what happened, who put me in a taxi or how I got home, and through 2 secured locked doors and into my apartment. That’s how my Saturday nights ended those last few weeks I was drinking.
I was loaded, and sick to death with the hangover of death the next day. Troy came into work the few days following and took me to my first meeting on the 9th of December 2001. They say that the first time is a gift and the second time you have to really work for it.
For most alcoholics, there is always another drink waiting. But there might not be another recovery for them. The chances of success over successive slips gets slimmer the more you are stuck in the revolving door of drinking and slipping.
We heard a lot of good stories tonight. It was serious talk, and very painful for many to recount what happened on their last drunk. We do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
I am grateful that I am sober today. I don’t ever want to forget, because I don’t think there is another recovery left in me. If I ever drink again, I may not survive. And that is a truth.
We are on vacation this week from school, March Break is here. Thank God.
I jammed both my midterms and did very well. Onwards and upwards. I can’t wait for this term to end. Because this is the last term I will have to study ever again. There is a God …