The weather has definitely shifted overnight. Yesterday we hit the 30c mark. Today, when I left the house it was 14c. It was a little chilly, so it was a second layer kind of evening. I did not have to travel far today, the Tour De L’ Isle was today, thankfully they stayed away from downtown.
I left early and arrived at the church and was greeted by the church super. He wanted to tell me of the plans they are putting in place to uber secure the church, after the break in and theft that took place a couple weeks ago. He was able to purchase his stolen tools (read: saws, routers, and other assorted power tools), at a reduced price, less than half of what he paid for them originally, thank you Home Depot for the deals. New doors were put in and other security features will go in including an alarm in our end of the basement. Churches are very popular in the thieving ring in the city. Over the last decade, St. Leon’s has been hit several times.
I find it sad and also sacrilegious to steal from a church, especially one that is on the Heritage Site list. Surely, some people are going to burn in hell for robbing the parish.
We sat an uber full house. And we read from the Twelve and Twelve and Tradition Five.
“Each group has one primary purpose, to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
Over the years, meeting numbers go up and down. We attribute that to seasons and weather patterns, and also the frequency of hockey games.
I guess you could say that Sunday Niter’s does well in the “carrying the message” responsibility, because our numbers are way up from this past winter. Many folks, this evening, spoke to that effect. We have an open and honest bunch of folks, from across the board, with various lengths of sobriety, and we work very hard at welcoming the newcomer and making you feel at home for the hour or so you are with us.
Some of our folks keep coming back, and over time they learn to share what they have been given, and that keeps them in the loop, and reminds them of how important it is to reach out to new folks as they come in the hall. A day sober will perk someone’s life up, in unexpected ways.
Can you believe it, May is done and Tomorrow is June 1st.
Summer is some time away, but as things go here in Montreal, the Summer season has already started for tourism and the get outside event calendar. We are hopeful that our seasonal summer visitors will return. As the Summer concert series begin and film houses come to film here in Montreal, our numbers will swell. Sunday Niters is a very popular stop on the tour circuit.
Another successful month of meetings in the book. The jobs are all taken for June. The matriarch of our meeting has indicated that she is stepping down and she handed the meeting off to our small group of trusted servants, our main goal, as always, is to keep the doors open for as long as we can.
More to come, stay tuned …
The weather is holding, which was very good tonight.
As the weather gets good, things to do outside increase. There is no time to waste when the weather is this good, because sooner or later, Mother Nature is gonna piss on us.
Tonight in Montreal, was the Tour La Nuit. The first of two bicycle events circling the Island of Montreal and the mountain. The Big Bicycle event comes on Sunday with the Island wide riding event.
I had checked on the transit website before I left to make sure I would not find my travel route blocked. Well, that did not go so well. I departed with PLENTY of time to get up to the church, and made it all the way to my bus transfer, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a stoppage sign on the pole at the bus stop. On TOP OF THAT there was a bus sitting in the bay, with a driver behind the wheel, going no where fast.
I stood for a bit, I had my tunes and my patience was ok. But that did not last. People started leaving the bus queue and others were talking to the driver. I waited, patiently. After while, with the bus still sitting there, I went to talk to the driver.
No Bus – Streets Closed – If you gotta get there, you are gonna WALK !!!
I half decided to turn around and come home. I got past the turnstile, and almost to the platform, and met one of my friends coming from a train that just went through. I told him, “no buses…” And his reply was, “well, we’ll walk it, 20 minutes tops!” I know the route, I could walk it blindfolded.
So we walked a mile to the church.
All the main streets were blocked off. The tour began at seven and began to wind its way around the island of Montreal. Numbers were nominal. We sat two groups. People had decided to walk the mile to the meeting instead of turning around and going home.
The weather was on our side tonight.
Two kinds of Pride
“The prideful righteousness of “good people” may often be just as destructive as the glaring sins of those who are supposedly not so good.”
In sobriety, is there any kind of good pride? Not really.
We are supposed to become, humble, quiet, right sized people. Knowing that we only know a little, that more will be revealed to us. That we are not the center of the universe and that that world does not revolve around us.
I don’t have all the answers.
I’ve learned a few things about pride, righteousness, arrogance and bullshit.
Over the years, I have learned to pick my battles wisely. Like my fellows, I have various opinions on every sordid topic that we are all reading and seeing on tv, hearing on the radio, and seeing in print. I just choose not to give you my opinion, unless that opinion is backed up with honest truth, book studied knowledge and/or practical life experience.
Over the years, I have dealt with certain self righteous people. Over the years, I have dealt with people who thought that I could not possibly be honest and sober (read: at that point in my sober journey). Even when those certain people were rifling through my life tearing me apart in word and action,
I learned that I should never engage negative criticism, for ANY reason whatsoever.
Just wait a while, keep your mouth shut and eventually they will tire, and they will go away.
Eventually they got tired, and they went away.
I survived, two of the biggest hits to my pride and my life, a few years ago.
I can say that I added a few letters to the end of my business card. Twice. And that paid out to one community that disparaged me in ungodly ways. I can also say that I stayed sober, after being hit by people who wanted to drag me through the mud because of my choice in recovery methods.
Now in my late 40’s I do know certain things as truth. I know who I am, and what my message is and what my goals are. And its not about self righteous pride or ego. I have enough people in my life that keep me in check.
We all laughed at ourselves for an hour. That was right sizing.
I walked all the way back from the church to the Metro. 20 minutes tops.
There were thousands of people riding their bikes around the city, all lit up, some dragging baby buggies behind them. It was very exciting and people were in a festive party mood. Many people had front row balcony seats to watch the spectacle.
The Summer Festival season has begun. For the next three months the city will be buzzing with activity across the board, from concerts, to Pride festivals, to fireworks, to the Best Jazz Festival in the world in July. Let us not forget, the biggest draw of the summer will be the Montreal Grand Prix, that is the crown jewel in Montreal’s crowning events.
I got on the train, came home, and in the end, I got here, at the same time I usually get home on a Friday night. No loss there.
More to come, stay tuned…
They say that “If you can, live by the seat of your pants, then do it …”
Kind of like, not wearing underwear … I never leave the house without my butt covered.
I got a call from a friend this morning, asking me to hit another meeting tonight. Of course, I said yes, because, I will go where ever this particular friend asks me to go, anytime.
I don’t usually plan my days, they just happen, aside from the regular meetings schedule, but that can always change if a better choice is offered.
I kind of like living dangerously !!
There are several competing meetings on Thursday night. Two of them are in NDG, across town, and down the road. Bus and Metro meetings. The third is right up the street in Westmount,
My day consisted of receiving packages for my mama friend, who is returning from New Found Land in a couple of weeks. What she can’t bring on a plane, she is buying and shipping to me to store. What we can donate to her, will seriously help her bottom line spending.
So far we have lots of baby furniture, dishes, a dining room set, and another friend, will have furniture and kitchen appliances, so that she won’t have to buy them, in any case.
Along with her stuff that came was a little something for me. The first of two packages that traveled the world to get here. I logged into EBAY last week, and my front page was filled with little impulse things, they probably thought I’d like, to either look at, or more to the point BUY !!!
I have plenty of shoes, from all over the place. I bought a sweet pair of combat boots from a friend some years ago, and this past Winter, my left boot began to take on water during a stroll out to dinner on a winter’s night. My local shoe repair is being remodeled so that is a no go.
In any case, a sweet pair of Military Tactical Combat Boots were on offer, and the price was right, so they are on their way from China. Ebay has become an international store front. They used to only show you items for sale in ones region, and if you wanted to shop on other Ebay locales, one has to log into that area, which usually brings with it, Google Translate.
I shop in the U.K., Germany, China, the U.S. and Canada. Now on Ebay, I get search results for all over the world on the same page. But for specialty items, I go shop direct.
I had the afternoon to do nothing and take a power nap before I had to go.
I took the train into NDG and got picked up for the evening event. I had been to this particular church before, I used to go to another meeting there, in the past. I don’t usually go into NDG for a meeting, because there are closer ones a short walk from home.
Anyways, we sat an intimate little group. When we got there, my friend said, “oh, hey, you wanna chair tonight?” I’ve never been to this meeting before, and he asked me to chair. Obviously, I said ok. What ever works.
We talked about “Things we heard from Old Timers that made a difference in our lives.”
This particular meeting was began by a guy who runs a rehab, so the chair book has the meeting script, the readings, and also pages and pages of meeting topics for discussion. I had plenty to choose from, I just chose an easy one for this evening.
I find it enjoyable going to small, intimate meetings. It was a good hour.
That little group is trying to keep the doors open, so they need a little love.
On the way home he asked me if going there was a problem, and I said no, a meeting is a meeting where ever it is. If you wanna go there you make the time and put forth the effort to get there, no matter where it is.
It’s a little more work to get there, but smiles on one’s friend’s faces is priceless.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
The Up/Down temperature swings have leveled off, and today we swung into sunny, hot and moderate humidex readings. Thank God for Air conditioning. I was wise to load it up a few days ago, when they warned us that this trend would come.
When temps rise above 18c and above, things begin to get sticky. Living amid the concrete jungle, here in Western Downtown, cement and concrete buildings, warm during the day, then radiate heat when the sun goes down.
We aren’t insulated for seasonal hot and cold. This building is concrete and most apartments have windows across one entire wall, no matter what direction you face. We face West, which means, we get direct sunlight from 11 a.m. through till sundown.
That gets very warm. We get so much sun, that over the past decade or so, we had hung blinds, we papered or foiled the windows to turn sunlight away, these things did not help very much.
When we renovated the space a few months ago, we splurged on special sun sensitive roll blinds that work really well. They cut the heat quotient in a great way. With the added a.c. unit in the bedroom, we can maintain the apartment at a steady cool and comfy level.
It was so beautiful today, that I walked from the Metro to the church on the way out. (read: there was no bus waiting at the station, so I walked it).
It was our fourth year anniversary for the meeting today.
It’s very funny, our meeting.
They say, that all you need to have, to open a meeting, is a resentment and a coffee pot…
You actually need at minimum $350.00 to do it right.
And that is exactly how Vendome started. ONE pissed off alcoholic and his resentments.
Many years ago, well, four to be exact, Tuesday Beginners was in transition. We dropped from two meetings on a Tuesday Night, to just one. One of our members wanted the key and said he would operate the second meeting himself, in our space, inside our window of occupancy.
That idea was instantly nixed …
So he left, and along with my current sponsor, opened a brand new meeting right up against Tuesday Beginners, but half an hour earlier. Which put it smack dab in the middle of the Five o’clock shadows meeting at 5 and Tuesday Beginners at 7.
All three meetings are close. They are all on bus and Metro lines.
A couple of years later, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners and followed my friends over to Vendome. By that time, the original member who opened the meeting copped another resentment with the group, and he fled. Which left us with a meeting to run and populate.
We were at Trinity for a little more than a year, then the N.D.G. Food Bank, was tossed on the street by their landlord, so they really needed a place to operate, because the food bank serves the entire N.D.G. and surrounding Burroughs. They came to Trinity.
Our meeting was tossed into the auditorium where the food bank had set up all around us, so we were sharing space with them, and several other meetings that book ended ours.
That did not go very well, and we ended up moving the meeting to where it is now. Up the hill and close to Villa Maria Metro and the 24 bus route. Sadly, most of the folks who used to come to Trinity, did not follow. We could never figure out the why? It was only 2 city blocks away.
We’ve maintained the group, albeit, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t making seventh, hand over fist, and funds have fallen off because we can’t seem to hold over many people, they just don’t come week after week, however, we do have a small group of committed members.
Along with our anniversary today, one of our old timers celebrated 29 years of sobriety.
There was cake, and other goodies to feast upon.
We are closing in on the end of our Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes.
AH, I can hear the angels sing …
We have reached Steps Eight and Nine.
It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.
In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.
In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.
It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.
That solves our Mental problem.
In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …
An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)
Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:
- Make Four lists:
- Those we can make amends to NOW
- Those we could make amends to LATER
- Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
- And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to
Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.
Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.
- Family and
At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.
So we better make it a good life, in the end.
I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.
When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.
Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.
With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.
There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.
We had THAT discussion.
She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.
And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.
Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.
Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).
I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.
All these things are liabilities.
So fuck me for surviving…
We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.
We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.
Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.
More to come, stay tuned …
Lifted from: Jeremy Don’t Eat Trash
After the evening we had tonight, we need a little Jesus to lighten the load…
You know what grieves me to my core? Like, deeply grieves me? And has done for most of my life because I’ve seen it up close, I’ve seen it destroy peoples lives. People that i love intimately….
The division of Christians around the world makes me want to vomit. And i’m not talking about an 80 year old catholic being a little wary of the very outspoken, tongues-speaking, 19 year old from another country. Thats difference of experience and opinion. I’m talking about hatred. Hatred brought on by a sense of self-righteousness. A deep ignorance of Gods love for man blinded by the ‘king of the mountain’ elitist ethos that drives home the truth that man is unsavable outside of the redemptive blood of Christ.
When Jesus was asked to speak about the stoning of a woman who may have been caught in adultery he looks at the crowd and said “Throw stones if you are perfect” – They left. He then looked at the woman and said “Stop doing what you know is wrong, you are free”.
When Jesus saw a most probable fraudulent tax collector staring at Him from a tree, he didn’t start a riot to lynch Zacheus, he invited himself over for tea. Giving everyone dignity and proving that freedom is for all.
When a member of the religious elite, whom Jesus passionately defamed for their self-righteous, stumbling-block ways, met up with him to ask genuine questions, Jesus met him where he was, and treated him with respect and dignity.
When other people were casting out Demons in Jesus’ name, Jesus not only held his disciples back from stopping them, but he encouraged them that they were working together, even if it looked like they were playing for different teams.
Jesus seemed to have more issues with those making more rules, than those who were commonly looked at as rebellious. One of his own followers was a Zealot. The rock he built his church on was the same man that denied him three times even after being told he would. Others jostled for more power in the kingdom, whilst Thomas the doubter is celebrated in scripture as one who risked to make sure it was Christ.
And yet when Rob Bell reaches out to those who have completely written off Christianity as a conservative boys club, he is only befriended by Francis Chan (it seems), as the rest of Christendom (most of whom don’t know why he is black listed), black lists him as an amazing communicator and one who connects with those who do not know Jesus but deeply crave something of meaning.
When Mark Driscoll is demoted, for good reason, a fight storm blows up. Not about restoring the mans dignity, but about a whole lot of OTHER stuff that makes us feel superior somehow.
When Christian bands communicate their wish not to be labelled as that, when Christian story tellers, artists, inventors, scientists wish to contribute to the good of the world without the baggage of the destructive ununited parts of Christianity, apparently that means they are Satanists, as well as quality creators.
We don’t like doing youth group with the other church, even tho we only have 5 members each because they dress weird. Or their building isn’t hip enough. They pray differently, or they have musical instruments we don’t like.
The petty conflicts in the church have ruined Christs good name throughout the world. Jesus is presented as an ugly, trashy, irrelevant, uncreative, judgemental beast. And He is none of those things.
We should be known by our love. Our ability to get along. The way we give preference to each other, listen to each other, go out of our way to bless each others lives so that others go “WOAH, that community rules, I wanna get me some” Instead of – “Why does that community hate each other, I want nothing to do with that community”
It has been an up/down kind of week last week. Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, gave us a week of roller coaster temperatures, from single digit pluses, to ground frost, to windy (I need a jacket) cool, and today we are in double digit pluses. People never knows what to pack, what to wear, so that was a thing…
Life has become very busy, and almost frenetic. I’ve spent a good amount of time with my friends, which has been a real good thing. Getting to spend time with friends outside the normal travel routes is a nice addition.
A few weeks ago, I went to see my main doc for my spring checkup. While I was there, he floated the idea that he might be able to put me on brand new next gen HIV medication. I’ve been on my present regimen for almost ten years now.
But because of the transition from multiple sites, into the main Glenn site, everything is upside down. Medical files are currently being digitized and uploaded to computers, because the Glenn is attempting to be paper free.
This has posed numerous problems.
For the last two weeks doc has been trying to find my archive file, which has all of my genetic coding information. They rotate old paper into archives and store them in the basement, so you have to actually go looking for them.
We’ve been talking on and off for the past week. Monday last week, I got the call about the switch. Doc did eventually find my file, and double checked the genetic profile. When I was diagnosed many years ago they did genotypes and phenotypes to type and cross reference my particular virus type. This will tell doctors what will and won’t work, on a grand scale.
Depending on the viral typification certain drugs are automatically disqualified for future use.
Genetic testing has been useful to optimize drug success. But it also is problematic, because even if new drugs come online, if you don’t match, you don’t get new drugs. Even if they have been reworked and strengthened.
I failed the mark this time around.
Which means, I stay on the present regimen for at least another year, until the next round is released. Bummer …
I’ve been keeping an eye on my baby birdies on the balcony, and I think that mom has abandoned her chicks, because she hasn’t been in the nest for days now, and I am not sure what to do, beyond calling the ASPCA and getting someone out here to take them and nurse them.
Yesterday, it was a double layer kind of day. It was that chilly. Today we are in the twenties, and I chose to walk the outer route to the church. Everyone, well, most of our folks were at the roundup this weekend, so I pulled all the jobs tonight.
We sat a good number and read another serious war story.
The take away:
- Alcoholism is insidious
- If nobody says STOP the alcoholic will keep going
- Where ever you go, there you are
- Functional alcoholism always devolves into insanity
- Eventually, if we are lucky, we find the solution
We read all the way around, and the shares went all the way around. What started as many message discussion, turned into a meeting for one particular woman.
Before the meeting started, I was alerted, by a friend, that there was a newcomer in the crowd, which falls to the 12 step rep.
I was feeling a little iffy early on today. I just had a sinking feeling that something was just not right. I can’t tell you where that came from, but it is what it is. I knew my Sunday guy was out at a function, and that the women were at the roundup, so nobody came in early, to either read or help set up. My uneasy-ness was confirmed shortly after the meeting started.
A friend, who is fresh, was sitting in a lump, and I knew there was something wrong.
“The alcoholic will drink again …”
You never know when it will come, but at some point, the only thing that stands between you and your next drink, will be your higher power. This time, it went unused.
Been here and done that.
It only takes a millisecond. One moment of freak. One action, putting a drink to ones lips.
For a few minutes everybody listened.
Anguish is a very heavy emotion. What do you say, what do you do?
At least she made it to the meeting, in one piece.
I just knew something was off tonight.
We strolled home, and I phoned a friend to pick up the pieces.
More to come, stay tuned …
By: Shawn Pogatchnik, The Associated Press/The Canadian Press.
DUBLIN – Ireland’s citizens have voted in a landslide to legalize gay marriage, electoral officials announced Saturday — a stunningly lopsided result that illustrates what Catholic leaders and rights activists alike called a “social revolution.”
Friday’s referendum saw 62.1 per cent of Irish voters say “yes” to changing the nation’s constitution to define marriage as a union between two people regardless of their sex. Outside Dublin Castle, watching the results announcement in its cobblestoned courtyard, thousands of gay rights activists cheered, hugged and cried at the news.
“With today’s vote, we have disclosed who we are: a generous, compassionate, bold and joyful people,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny proclaimed as he welcomed the outcome. Beside him, Deputy Prime Minister Joan Burton declared the victory “a magical moving moment, when the world’s beating heart is in Ireland.”
Ireland is the first country to approve gay marriage in a popular national vote. Nineteen other countries, including most U.S. states, have legalized the practice through their legislatures and courts.
The unexpectedly strong percentage of approval surprised both sides. More than 1.2 million Irish voters backed the “yes” side to less than 750,000 voting “no.” Only one of Ireland’s 43 constituencies recorded a narrow “no” majority, Roscommon-South Leitrim in the boggy midlands.
Analysts credited the “yes” side with adeptly employing social media to mobilize young, first-time voters, tens of thousands of whom voted for the first time Friday. The “yes” campaign also featured moving personal stories from prominent Irish people — either coming out as gays or describing their hopes for gay children — that helped convince wavering voters to back equal marriage rights.
Both Catholic Church leaders and gay rights advocates said the result signalled a social revolution in Ireland, where only a few decades ago the authority of Catholic teaching was reinforced by voters who massively backed bans on abortion and divorce in the 1980s.
Voters legalized divorce by a razor-thin margin in 1995 and now, by a firm majority, have dismissed the Catholic Church’s repeated calls to reject gay marriage. Abortion, still outlawed, looms as the country’s next great social policy fight.
Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the “overwhelming vote” against church teaching on gay marriage meant that Catholic leaders in Ireland needed urgently to find a new message and voice for reaching Ireland’s young.
“It’s a social revolution. … The church needs to do a reality check right across the board,” said Martin, who suggested that some church figures who argued for gay marriage’s rejection came across as harsh, damning and unloving, the opposite of their intention.
“Have we drifted completely away from young people?” he asked. “Most of those people who voted ‘yes’ are products of our Catholic schools for 12 years.”
David Quinn, leader of the Catholic think-tank Iona Institute, said he was troubled by the fact that no political party and only a half-dozen politicians backed the “no” cause.
“The fact that no political party supported them must be a concern from a democratic point of view,” he said.
Fianna Fail leader Michael Martin, a Cork politician whose opposition party is traditionally closest to the Catholic Church, said he couldn’t in good conscience back the anti-gay marriage side.
“It’s simply wrong in the 21st century to oppress people because of their sexuality,” he said.
Some political leaders in Canada approved of the result. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who is openly gay, and federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair both tweeted congratulations.
“Especially proud of my Irish roots today. A clear progressive message from voters & resounding victory for equality,” Mulcair tweeted.
After the result was announced, thousands of celebrants flooded into the Irish capital’s pubs and clubs — none more popular Saturday night than the city’s few gay venues.
At the George, Ireland’s oldest gay pub, drag queens danced and lip-synced to Queen and the founding father of Ireland’s gay rights campaign, Sen. David Norris, basked in the greatest accomplishment of the movement’s 40-year history.
“The people in this small island off the western coast of Europe have said to the rest of the world: This is what it is to be decent, to be civilized, and to be tolerant! And let the rest of the world catch up!” Norris, 70, shouted with jubilant zeal to the hundreds packing the disco ball-lit hall.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Norris waged an often lonely two-decade legal fight to force Ireland to quash its Victorian-era laws outlawing homosexual acts. Ireland finally complied in 1993, becoming the last European Union country to do so. This time, the gay community in Ireland managed to build a decisive base of support.
“People from the LGBT community in Ireland are a minority. But with our parents, our families, or friends and co-workers and colleagues, we’re a majority,” said Leo Varadkar, a 36-year-old Irish Cabinet minister who in January announced on national radio that he was gay. “For me it wasn’t just a referendum. It was more like a social revolution.”
Many gay couples took the moment to declare their intentions or renew their vows. One lesbian couple in Limerick proposed on bended knee at the vote count there, while one of Ireland’s most prominent advocates for gay marriage, American-born Sen. Katherine Zappone, asked her wife live on Irish TV: “Today in this new Ireland, Ann Louise Gilligan, will you marry me?”
The couple, who met at Boston College and already were married legally in Canada in 2003, sued Ireland unsuccessfully in 2006 to have their marriage recognized as valid. Once parliament passes enabling legislation by this summer, that Canadian wedding license will become legal in Ireland. But Zappone and Gilligan, a former nun, still plan an Irish ceremony.
“There’s nothing like an Irish wedding,” Zappone said.
The Dublin Castle crowds saved their greatest roars of approval for Panti Bliss, Ireland’s most famous drag queen, who strode gingerly into the castle’s central square in high heels and a body-hugging floral dress to conduct a joint live interview on Irish TV beside Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Sinn Fein party chief Gerry Adams.
“It feels like we asked the whole country to marry us and they just said yes,” said Panti, aka Rory O’Neill, who in a viral-internet speech last year inspired a national debate on the level of homophobia in Irish society.
“Today’s vote isn’t actually for 46-year-old aging drag queens like me. This vote is about all the young faces out there,” Panti said, gesturing to the square-full of mostly 20-something onlookers, some donning rainbow-colored feather boas and parasols. Panti said that within a few years going to a gay marriage “will become an ordinary, normal part of life — and that’s what changes hearts and minds.”
When asked whether she — Panti’s preferred gender of pronoun — intended to marry, the already surreal scene turned flirty. “Sure, why not, if I can find the right fella,” Panti said, slyly putting an arm around a beaming Adams. Laughter cascaded through the crowd.
Political analyst Sean Donnelly, who has covered Irish referendums for decades, said Saturday’s landslide marked a stunning generational shift. He noted that two decades ago in Ireland’s last tortuous vote challenging a benchmark Catholic teaching, voters barely approved divorce — but only because heavy rain deterred voters in the then-conservative west. More than half of Ireland’s constituencies recorded “no” majorities to divorce.
Not this time. Even far-flung Donegal in Ireland’s northwest corner, renowned for its reactionary record of voting against the national mood, voted “yes” to gay marriage.
“We’re in a new country,” Donnelly said. “When I was reared up, the church was all powerful and the word ‘gay’ wasn’t even in use in those days. How things have moved from my childhood to now.”
With files from The Canadian Press
It was a beautiful day today. Absolutely stunning.
It was a usual Sunday afternoon. I took the long way to the church to enjoy the sun, and arrived with plenty of time to set up. Our early crew arrived shortly after. Numbers are up, as season kicks into gear, the Sunday meeting is a very popular stop on the city sober tour.
The sober train is in full motion, with the Round Up coming next weekend. The area is hosting open houses in the East End, opposite the West Island event over the weekend, next.
We sat a fair crowd and read “My Wife and I,” from Experience, Strength and Hope. The stories from the First Edition were collected from amongst the first 100 men and women who got sober, when the fellowship was in its infancy.
The time period we are talking about it just prior to the Great Depression, during and the years that followed. Some of our writers were young, in their twenties, when the drink began to take them. These stories parallel the lives of our young people, as well as the rest of us, the timeline is the same, but the circumstances and social conditions were a bit different.
Our story opens with a young couple, low on funds, have high aspirations as to how they want to live their lives. It was a good match that our man found a wife who was smart, astute and a very good thinker, because he was going to need that, later on.
What ever one had prior to the great depression, was laid wasted when it fell.
Alcohol is a relentless foe. And little by slowly, it took our man to the depths of despair.
Trying to manage a business, family (read: children), a wife, and the drink, during probably the most difficult period is U.S. history, was challenging.
All the while, as our man was sinking, his wife was reminding him, sometimes more forcefully than at other times, what he stood to lose, what they had lost and what they had in meager terms. He ignored these words, and kept drinking.
However, his wife was steadfast and in the end, it was she who contacted Doctor Bob to come help her husband.
During the read, the wife speaks to one lady doctor who introduces her to another doctor, who we assume, if the reading is correct, is Doctor Bob. She asks him for his help.
The conversation goes like this …
“Does you husband want to stop drinking, or is he merely temporarily uncomfortable? Has he come to the end of the road, (Dr. Bob) asks his wife.
There is discussion between them.
Dr. Bob visits our folks at home.
Our man knew, in the beginning, that he did not want to become one of those “rummies!” But the drink had other plans for him, he not only drank, and drank hard, he became that which he tried so valiantly to avoid.
Dr. Bob greets our man saying … “I hear you’re another ‘rummy,’ he said as he smiled and sat down beside me. I let him talk. Gradually, he drew me out until what I did tell him gave him a picture of my experience. And then he put it to me plainly. “If you are perfectly sure that you want to quit drinking for good, if you are serious about it, if you don’t merely wish to get well so that you can take up drinking again at some future date, you can be relieved,” he said.
I told him that I had never wanted anything as much in my life as to be able to quit using liquor, and I meant every word of it.
“The first thing to do with your husband,” he said, turning to my wife, “is to get him to a hospital and have him defogged.” I’ll make the necessary arrangements.
It was Doctor Bob who finally got our man into recovery.
I heard a young person share tonight about the “window of opportunity.”
For our writer, the window of opportunity opened, at just the right time, and our man was “ready and willing” to hear the message. As we have talked recently, that very particular window of opportunity opens at the oddest of times.
It opens and either we hear the words, or a human being appears at just the right time, carrying the message, which we either hear and understand and we make a move, or we ignore that message or human being, opting for further descent into the pit of alcoholism.
Those windows, don’t stay open for very long, but they appear when we might least expect them to open, and as experience has shown us, alcoholics are the last persons to “get the message” because we are insane and hard headed.
But as it has turned out, those of us who are “in the fellowship” were afforded windows of opportunities, and we are sober today, by the grace of God.
Oprah says that “When God speaks to us, it is in a whisper, and if we don’t pick it up the first time, He whispers again, if we don’t pick it up the second time, He hits us in the back of the head with a two by four, if we ignore that hit, then He drops a Brick Wall on us.
More to come, stay tuned …
Lifted from: Jeremy – Don’t Eat Trash
I just feel like refusing to bake a gay couple a wedding cake is the worst example of who Jesus is ever. Making statements by NOT doing things doesn’t sound like Christs style outside of NOT being a member of the religious elite club.
The religious elite club seemed to have pretty strict standards of building large fences around God and those who didn’t know God. Both physical boundaries like those around the temple, and social boundaries around specific behaviours and identities (prostitutes, tax collectors etc) Jesus was great at literally destroying these fences. By whipping some cows or hanging out with those he was expected not to hang out with.
I’m not sure which Jesus-time activity is the greatest equivalent to refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but… it seems like a stupid mountain to die a stupid death on. As the happily in love gay couple walk away from the refusal of the cake baking, are they thinking ‘Woah, Jesus must be great’?
Baking a gay couple a cake isn’t a salvation issue. Its not a life and death situation. Baking a cake for a gay couple isn’t having sex with a dude as a dude. In fact, for a black and white conservative ‘homosexual marriage’ isn’t really a thing. Neither is non-christian marriage.
Because ‘Marriage’ is between a man and a woman and God – a “three stranded cord” to bring the glory of God on the planet and to multiply the human race to have dominion over creation in harmony with the kingdom of Heaven. Its not ordained by the state, its not ordained by the pastor even. It is a commitment between a man and a woman, agreed to by their community.
The reason the state is involved is because we forgot how to bless each other in community so the state had to stand up for the ‘injustices’ involved in crap marriages and unwanted children. Although NOW, the state involvement seems more to do with tax and inheritance than anything else.
In fact, for most black and white conservatives Christians ‘homosexual marriage’ doesn’t really seem like its a thing. Neither is non-christian marriage. Because ‘Marriage’ is between a man and a woman and God – a “three stranded cord” to bring the glory of God on the planet and to multiply the human race to have dominion over creation in harmony with the kingdom of Heaven. Its not ordained by the state, its not ordained by the pastor even.
It is a commitment between a man and a woman, agreed to by their community. The reason the state is involved is because we forgot how to bless each other in community so the state had to stand up for the ‘injustices’ involved in crap marriages and unwanted children. Although NOW, the state involvement seems more to do with tax and inheritance than anything else.
So taking away the states odd involvement in marriage, gay marriage is two people convinced that they want to commit to each other for the future and their community stands in agreement to their decision.
Now, separate to the argument of ‘gay marriage in the church’ which I believe is a completely different issue as to the leadings of the creator and saviour of the world, a gay couple, deciding to be together forever, choosing to let ‘the state’ and their community join them in celebrating their choice enter a cake baking establishment. Because that’s what a cake baker does.
They bake cakes for the consuming of said cake at specific celebrations. The cake baker is not a part of the couples community. The cake baker is not invited to the ceremony. They are simply asked to trade money for a baked good.
This representative of capitalism and creative foodstuffs then proudly stands there and refuses to do what they actually do, because they disagree with what the cake is for (which is neither illegal or effects their lives in anyway) And for some reason we think ‘I did Jesus a great service today’ as if that is the good news. That Jesus came to seek and save the lost, unless….. they are gay and want a cake.
Our crap logic and knee-jerk conservatism doesn’t just stop at gay cake making either. Our days are filled with these strange black and white decisions that we have concluded brings glory to our saviour and lover Jesus Christ when really they turn people away from the community of redemption that we enjoy and represent.
I didn’t get told about Jesus after I had become perfect. In fact i still am not, but I am counted among those called by his name, and it is saddening when we dirty that name by choosing holiness instead of love, when our job is not to be holy in our own right, we are called to be holy as Jesus was holy. Which, looks more like bringing people to God for him to love, instead of being the doorman at an exclusive club that only lets the rich, white and straight people in.
I’ve said before that Friday is the best day of the week. Because the best meeting of the week falls on Friday night. And all of my friends are in one place all at the same time.
It was a quiet day. Not having much to do, left me with plenty of time, to do nothing.
Sometimes, doing nothing is just as important as doing something.
Being busy is too easy, learning how to manage ones time, with intervals of nothingness is pretty useful. At the stage of the game, being kind to myself and doing things just because is the norm.
I had to pick up an anny card on the way out for one of my guys, as we were celebrating his third anny tonight amongst our Friday friends because I was out of town last weekend.
The fallout continues from last weekend. I am still processing my emotions and I am still seeking counsel from my old timer friends.
Tonight, we discussed working with others, in a round about sort of way.
It was a sold night of things shared. Having solid friends who care about you early on seems to have been the key ingredient for our folks.
From the reading:
“Our chief responsibility to the newcomer is an adequate presentation of the program.”
Today, I know that my sobriety is not all about me. I’ve come a long ways from where I was the first few weeks of sobriety. And I am thankful for what I learned this time around. I wasn’t rushed to make any decisions, or start my steps before it was timely.
The right people were there when I most needed them, in the right ways.
In the beginning is was important to count my days, as the meetings was at the same time and at the same location every night of the week. Montreal sobriety forces you to really work for your time, having to travel to different locations on a nightly basis.
In the beginning it was about healing my soul through fellowship and food.
Funny, food always follows fellowship.
It is an integral part of getting sober. We do our best work over breaking bread with one another.
I was told, not long ago that I must remember to always live in the solution, and to always work towards that solution in working with others. That is my job with my guys.
That seems to work.
One of my friends is just weeks in and tonight he wanted experience, strength and hope about Step One … The only step you must do 100%.
We admitted we were powerless and that our lives had become unmanageable.
Powerlessness … That word still dogs me to this day.
That has been a real learning word.
I can’t save anyone. I can’t save the world. I can’t change anyone. I can ONLY change me.
Just a short entry tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …
The weather is holding. A bit chilly, temps went into single digits last night.
For the last few days, I have been in consultation with people I know and trust. Sobriety is good for many things, having long sober people to talk to is a good thing.
Tonight we were treated to a sober woman, who in June, will reach 42 years sober.
She got sober, when I was just a boy. Almost as long as I’ve been alive.
Her’s was a unique story, players wise. What astounded me was that at age 13, after the family unit failed her disastrously, she struck out on her own. Moving to an apartment not very far from where I live today. At age 13 …
Not being a drinker, YET, served her well. She was employed in a successful career by age 17, and life was colorful, yet sad, and at the right moments, we all laughed, but that did not take away the fact that drinking is a subtle foe.
As alcoholics, we usually don’t survive the YET’S …
Alcohol, as stated by our thanker, is an equal opportunity foe. Alcohol can take down even the strongest people, at the most inopportune times.
Strong women are fixtures in our community. Some war stories are more tragic than others, and hearing the tales told, I ask the question … “how did they get here and survive?”
I know a little about long term survival.
Life takes its course, and our woman walked her walk, she had a child, on the journey, then because of family issues, could not baptise her daughter, so she married someone she later fell in love with, for a name, so that her child could have her name, (read:In the Church).
A while later, she wanted to have her husbands child. After four miscarriages, heartache and loss, she got pregnant again, and carried full term and gave birth. Only to have her child die a crib death, 40 days into her infant life.
In her words … “it seemed a really good time to have a drink.”
One bottle of wine, and she went from zero to hero in very little time.
Life was hard in the fifties and sixties. Women were supposed to play certain social roles, and do social things and be good housewives, living in suburbia.
The war story continues.
One day, she was at work, and a guy walked into her office and said to her, “hi, My name is John (read:not his real name), and I am an alcoholic and got sober in A.A….
Ok, thank you for sharing, good for you.
Here is where I share part of her story. For some of us, the right human being appears in our life, right when we need them, but we may not be ready for the message, right then and there.
That man was a constant in her life for months. He’d call her weekly to check on her, and her response was always the same.
Hello … hello
How are you doing?
Everything is fine.
Good I’ll call you next week.
That went on for months, as our woman wound her way into the pit of hell, ever so slowly.
One night John calls and says, “I’ve got a problem, I have to speak at a meeting, and I need you to come with me for moral support. (momentary vacillation) but she agreed to go.
The meeting they hit that night, is right up the street from home, where I used to go when I first got sober. He took her to dinner and they made a meeting. Upon arriving, she made sure to tell everyone there that she was not an alcoholic and that she was just “here for a friend.”
The literature guy introduced himself to her and offered her some literature. Our woman said that she would find it useful for “some of her friends, but not for her.” (read: at that time).
She went away from that meeting, unmoved.
But we all know that alcoholism is cunning and patient. It took her slowly.
She became a suburbia wife, moving from the city to the West Island.
Working in a high stress career, she drank her way through. John, her alcoholic friend, was still speaking to her, and at one point, she offered that she was in difficulty. he knew she was drinking, and she was over her head in work. And she admitted to having a problem and his response was:
“Well, why don’t you quit?”
So she quit her job.
She then became a suburban wife, and in time, she had all the other wives in the neighborhood drinking just as much as she was, in very little time.
Husbands would be coming home from work, having to pick up their sodden wives to come home and cook dinner, albeit, a little late.
Not soon after her husband informed her that he was leaving her, and he did just that.
At this point, our woman was well south of happy.
She came home one night to a sick child, being taken care of by her babysitter.
That night she said “that prayer.”
“God, if you are up there, please do something !”
Falling asleep on her daughters bed, she woke up there the next morning.
The next day, her daughter was alive and kicking. She took up the phone and called John, and he asked her one question …
“Do you have a problem?”
After listening to John, tell her repeatedly that he was in recovery, getting phone calls every week for months, and attending a meeting once, she had reached the bottom. Denying or not really (read: admitting) that she had a drinking problem.
He took her back to the meeting they attended together months ago.
That man who had given her literature, remembered her by name and said …
By the grace of God, she has not had a drink in more than 40 years.
In memory of her father, instead of cake on her anniversary, our woman takes a pizza.
It is ODD or is it GOD?
Some of us are damned lucky, for the right human being, to walk into our lives at the right time, even if we aren’t ready to hear the message, as happened to me this time around.
Whatever you call it, “something Greater than Ourselves seems to step in, right when we need it, even if we don’t think we need it at the time.
Oprah says that “When God speaks to us, it is in a whisper, and if we don’t pick it up the first time, He whispers again, if we don’t pick it up the second time, He hits us in the back of the head with a two by four, if we ignore that hit, then He drops a Brick Wall on us.
Obviously, in the end, the brick wall had to fall on our woman.
As it usually has to happen to an alcoholic, because we are thick headed…
The Brick Wall falls …
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a very productive day today. After having a nightmare that ended just as my alarm clock went off, this one, was new. Feeding off the manic experience I had on Sunday.
Sometimes, we should never act on or say words we might regret, even in the heat of the moment, or wanting to be heard. I read something the other night that said:
“We should be ok living alone, because it is a waste of time chasing people who really don’t care about you.”
The other one came from a friend:
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Jack Kornfield.
I got up, and half decided to go do something that I wanted to do, but the urge to hibernate was very strong. I got into the shower and that did the trick. I got dressed and headed out for the mall.
I wanted to get the next two books in the Temperance Brennan series, by Kathy Reichs. The collection at Indigo is getting slim. I’ve about completed buying their entire stock of books. They only had one of the two books I wanted.
I had some lunch and came home. I logged into the Indigo website and ordered two volumes of the collection, which were in stock. Indigo/Chapters takes major credit cards, but they also take Pay Pal, which is as good as cash.
At the moment, I have 4 books running at the same time.
At the retreat I picked up another biography of Pope Francis. This one is a lot more complete as I am reading it presently. I am still reading Tim Winton, I am wrapped up in Tempe, so I started another book last night, and I bought one today, and two are coming in the mail. Which brings me up to two final volumes in the series that I will buy or order in the coming weeks.
Last week I got my health card renewal slip in the mail, which means a trip to get photos taken, then bring them to the CLSC (read: public health clinic) to get signed and validated with the form that came in the mail.
I’ve done several circuits of the neighborhood today. (read:walking in circles)
I killed a couple of hours before I had my Step appointment at 5:30.
I printed out my post from Sunday evening and brought it with me. I sat with my sponsor and read it to him. He took six pages of text and whittled that down to a sentence of ten words.
It comes down to simple things, first, we are powerless over people, places and things.
The past is the past. What’s done is done. If I want to move forwards, why am I living in the past, (read:revenge,words,feelings,emotions)
I am better off walking away from what is haunting me. What happened happened. But really, for all intents and purposes, just how much power am I giving the past to affect my present? It seems to him, that I’ve given it too much power.
I don’t need to keep bringing certain stories up in community, that certain stories should only come to mind when there is a situation or other human being who is in the same boat, then share the story. I can put certain stories to bed, unless they are necessary.
He mentioned the weekend. And made comment to some things I missed in social cues, and reminded me how hospitality works in sober circles. He also said to me, after reading my sheets, was that I spent way too much time worrying about what people think about me.
But that did not change the fact that I had “this” particular experience.
Human beings are in many ways the same. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated, We want to be accepted, and We want to hear that spoken. In many cases, that is the norm. When it comes to assholes and attitudes and Egos, these can be difficult.
I tell the lesson about “approval.”
Do what you do well, and master that. You don’t need my approval any more. But one day you might find yourself working for someone who may not appreciate you or the job you do, so you need to be certain of what you do, how you do it, and then do it well.
I am told, that beyond my skewed perception, that people on the weekend had no problems with me and that from what he heard, what I thought was really not the case.
Some people are just not good at some skills of communication. Especially alcoholics.
We are all crazy, we are psychotic, we have personal expectations, sometimes that are unrealistic. Which begs “we should just be gentle with ourselves” and realize that we are not the center of the universe. And that just being … should do us just fine.
I also tell the lesson about “What people think of me is none of my business.”
When it comes to certain people, I had mentioned in my writing, I am reminded that sometimes we have to step up our game of tolerance and acceptance.
I know what my limits are with certain people. And the less I see of them the better.
What do I want removed ?
- I need to distance myself from the past.
- I need to accept who I am in the moment, in any moment.
- I need to not worry so much about what people think of me.
- I need to get on with the present and stop my addiction to the past.
- In the end, do I really care about them, or do I just want to get even?
- The sick side of my brain says, Exactly !
- The sober side of my brain says, maybe I just need to keep my thoughts clean and my mouth shut.
I guess I am ok with the discussion.
My sponsor agrees that I have grown up a bit more, and that clarity did happen, and that everything is alright. I am progressing forwards.
I think that’s it for the moment.
Mischief Managed …
There is so much to say, and I want it to be coherent, so this might take a while.
Oprah says that “When God speaks to us, it is in a whisper, and if we don’t pick it up the first time, He whispers again, if we don’t pick it up the second time, He hits us in the back of the head with a two by four, if we ignore that hit, then He drops a Brick Wall on us …
Well, I missed the three attempts, and now the Brick Wall has fallen on me.
We’re Entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of Character…
This journey begins decades ago. It started with messages I heard, as a young man. From those messages, I made certain decisions, based on self preservation. I had begun to do this before I ever got sober, and before my alcoholism got into a full steam roll over.
In my life, in “sobriety” I made two more self preservation decisions. Decisions that I paid for dearly, which haunt me to this very night. When I did my Fourth Step I discussed these decisions with my sponsor to make sure they were not self centered decisions, and he clarified that no, they were self preservation decisions.
Ok, I can live with that truth.
I’ve carried a certain number of boulders on my shoulders for the whole of my life. I carried the drama of my family for my entire life. Problems that are not mine. Situations that were created by others, and NOT by me. For simple thought, I’ve been carrying this victim hood for the whole of my life, and it informed the decisions I made, and it has turned me into the seething pot of shit I have become over the last 72 hours.
I’ve been stuck on Step Six for months. Because my sponsor wanted me to be perfectly sure what I wanted to put on this list. And If I prayed enough and listened enough, that it would be made clear to me.
I’ve had a definite Moment of Clarity.
A clarity that is so clear, I am almost manic over it.
Many Many years ago the pain of not knowing began. Knowing I was gay, not having the ability to tell anyone for fear of my life. Moving away to be gay, and later getting sick, I have no one else to blame for that but ME. I never pointed a finger, because I only have hearsay evidence from one person about said issue. But I was a dirty filthy alcoholic.
Where alcohol is involved, all sense and sensibility flew out the window.
One particular day comes to mind. I can see it, smell it and I can relive it, as if it happened yesterday.
When I got sick I called a family meeting, and I did not get the response I so needed, and that discussion ended on a Christmas night months later, being humiliated by my father and mother in front of guests at a Christmas dinner.
I will never live that day down for as long as I live.
So In sobriety I made two crucial decisions that changed my life and brought me here to Montreal. I paid dearly for those decisions. I am now sober a lot longer now, than I was when I made those decisions.
The changes I made were merely cosmetic dressing. The family and blood line remains the same, but my parents would beg to differ. Once I made one fateful decisions, then another, in the end it was me who lost. The light switch was turned off and I’ve been in the dark for ages.
Self preservation …
You can’t change your family of origin, we are stuck with them.
Be careful the words you speak, because once you do, you cannot take them back
Blood is thicker than water.
Things I heard, from one side of a mouth, and hatred and homophobia coming from the other side of the same mouth.
Fuck me …
I am sober, but I am emotionally and spiritually sick.
Being told to leave a meeting and never come back in two separate meetings, the first and second time I got sober, did a number on me emotionally. I carry that shame and pain like a badge of courage. It has defined the way I see myself in relation to other sober people, even to this day.
It has infected me to the point of sickness. It taints my perception of every single heterosexual man I come in contact with. And has for the whole of this sober journey.
You cannot change another human being. And we cannot hold onto old ideas that someone is going to change as we expect them to. We cannot find the sunlight of the spirit if we are so blind, and relentless, vowing never to let it go and really get sober, after all this time.
I am carrying these boulders, and I am sick with an unrealistic expectation in the hopes that I will change the situation. I, Me, Me, Me …
A year ago this past weekend I went to my first men’s intensive weekend. I brought up old pain and tossed it on the table to see what the guys would say to me, when they found out who and what I was, and what sickness I was carrying. Shame … Fear, Guilt … Perception.
I was the odd ball.
Whisper one …
I worked through my steps that weekend, but came away amused and challenged.
For the next six months God would whisper.
In October of last year I attended my second men’s intensive. Same folks, same steps, but the pain became acute. But not enough to get me to act on it.
I got hit by the two by four. No response on my part.
Seven months later, this past weekend, I attended my third men’s intensive weekend.
This weekend there were three fruits in the proverbial basket. But it seemed that I was the only odd ball in the bunch once again. I felt that way, I said nothing, I let that fester all weekend, and it tainted the entire weekend experience, into visceral pain.
I listened to speakers talk, I listened to guys share, and I shared as well. This went on all weekend.
The disease of alcoholism is a disease of perception.
Let me tell you, my perception has been skewed for a long time. Because of old ideas, old pain, unrequited expectations, anger, frustration and RAGE…
I felt all weekend long, like I was sitting in left field all by myself, because of how others did or did not interact with me all weekend.I watch people with a morbid fascination to see what they will or won’t say, whether they break bread with me, or even have a conversation with me, simply.
And by the end of this mornings meetings, all I wanted to do was run. We could hot have left any earlier, but that’s what I wanted.
I was so emotionally sick by noon today, it was turning my stomach. The ride out and the ride back, more than 300 miles to and from, was excruciating. There are just some people who get on my nerves, and I can’t stand to be in the same room with them. Let alone stuck in a car for an indeterminate amount of time, going to someplace I’ve never been, to hang with a group of men, some I knew, many I did not.
When I shared, I shared things I heard, in the past from other drunks getting sober. Things I do in sobriety today.
My spiritual sister tells me tonight that I wasn’t sharing I was lecturing. And I got it.
Nobody wants to be told what to do, especially an alcoholic.
But that’s what this entire weekend was, a primer in what to do, how to do it and why. The messages were the same.
It was the delivery that mattered.
When we got around to steps eight and nine,
Made a list of all the persons we had harmed and, and became willing to make amends to them all. And made direct amends to such people where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.
The words: Parent, Father and Mother came up, in regards to amends and everybody was off and running. I went from calm and sedate to manic rage in about three seconds.
The brick wall fell on me.
I guess I was in enough pain to feel something. I went through the roof, I spilled my guts in the meeting, nobody said anything to me after that meeting. After that meeting I sat with an older gay man who was there, who happens to live here, and we discussed the boulder.
That was just the beginning.
It all came to fruition on the way home.
My sponsor driving the car, one of his sponsees, (read: the man I cannot stand) sitting shotgun, one of his sponsees and myself in the back seat.
They ignored me all the way home. One would not shut up the entire way home. He calls my sponsor COB. (read: Chris Old Boy)
Can I tell you how many times I heard him say that phrase all weekend? Or how many crude and stupid jokes he told ad nauseum.
Oh My God, I wanted to throw him out of the car, and we were so relieved when we dropped him off finally.
Before we left, we were warned that:
It might not hit you right away and it might hit you later, or it just might hit you like a ton of bricks when you least expect it.
I was mere hours away from critical mass.
After an intensive, they recommended that we go home and hit a meeting to Decompress.
I did that.
I got home with thirty minutes to spare. I unpacked and changed, charged my phone, packed my bag with what I needed, grabbed the umbrella and set off.
My head was spinning like a washing machine on HIGH Spin Cycle.
My chest was heavy and I was angry, resentful and almost in a rage.
Do you know what they did to ME?
Do you know how I feel?
Do you want to know what I think?
I asked someone else to be my new sponsor the other night. That might have been a tad bit premature.
My friend, tonight, showed me the pattern of cut and run that I am so adept at doing.She showed me the pattern of old ideas I was still carrying almost fourteen years into sobriety. It might seem I have all my shit together, yet I could be so spiritually sick. She showed me the pattern of God trying to get my attention in the repetition of those pattern she paid out.
I am holding on to this grudge, this pain, this shame, and this anger and rage so hard, and that I have little faith in my God that He would remove these things from me.
Oh Ye of Little Faith …
She offered me her God to supplement my lack of faith in my God.
Patterns that are etched in stone on my heart. Old ideas ensconced in my soul. Ideas that I have harbored for decades. Fantasies of getting even and having my say finally, once and for all, words I want to say, people I want to rage at for personal parental injustice, years of ignoring me like I did not exist. For hating who I became by no fault of my own.
I did not chose this life, it happened the way it did.
I would not change but a few little details in my history and my life story.
I am alive. I am sober. I survived, Don’t you know who I am? Or Don’t you want to know who I am today? You’ve been ignoring me for decades. I have a narrative in my head that I have spent my entire life, fleshing out, based on stories, evidence, study and family.
This two ton boulder has been hanging around my neck and God has been trying to get me to pay attention and see it. Today I am in enough pain to see it.
Have I been paying lip service to prayer and meditation? I don’t think so. But I haven’t been very forthcoming to God about removing this from me, because it is such a deep and heavy boulder, that if I let it go, what will happen, who will I become?
What is going to happen?
FUCK ME …
I have an appointment to complete Step Six Tomorrow.
Courtesy: VIP Football Collection / via Getty Images Copyright attributed.
Lionel Messi, F.C. Barcelona
The first HUGE match of the season took place yesterday between Bayern Munich and F.C. Barcelona. Team Messi, went up against a very unprepared Bayern Squad. There are many things being said about Bayern tonight, some, not that kind at all.
Too many good players were out with injuries. Too many players were benched before the match even took place, who would not see any action, even though they were kitted up and ready to play. So the team that Bayern did field, failed in goals.
The Star Players Lionel Messi, was the King of the match, hands down. He just killed the Germans with his Top of the League playing.
I couldn’t give a shit about hockey, unless of course, it is the Olympics and Sydney Crosby is playing for Team Canada.
So that was the big sports news that I am interested in.
I was at the Thursday meeting tonight, and I heard our guy say something that really resonated with me. At some point in sobriety, we learn about people, by listening to them speak, either in person with us, or from the chair, or from their chair.
At some point we might hear something come out of someones mouth, that is a “truth” and you learn what that means for you. Sometimes people talk, and in most cases, they are unscripted and unvarnished. To a degree I am judgmental, but I also attribute my judgment to this:
“When someone shows you who they are the first time, believe them.”
Oprah said it, and I have used this advice sparingly.
We are not immune to this happening to ourselves.
For a year, my little band of friends at our Tuesday meeting have been working tirelessly in the meeting, and for the most part, outside the meeting, to bring normalcy and sobriety to certain women we know, who are out with small babies.
We’ve invested in these lives because we love our women, all women. Some of those women have just moved back into the city from points farther away, and they have come to our little meeting, because we invited them to come, and guaranteed that we would all welcome them with open arms.
Couples marry and they have children. It is a natural progression in life.
Pregnant women, go to meetings. New mothers, go to meetings. And sometimes they bring their babies with them. And in years past, every “other” woman in the room, knows what to do. One by one, we play hot potato with the babies. We hold them, feed them, rock them, while mom gets an hour to go to a meeting.
That is a certainty. This is how we do things here.
On Tuesday one of our new mothers, brought her daughter with her. We had seated a small group. Caveat … babies are not naturally silent, for long stretches, unless of course they are sleeping.
She came a few times prior to this weeks installment. Every time she came, she got up and left because the baby was a little noisy. She did not get her meeting in.
A particular old timer (read: My Sponsor) who is thirty one years sober has an opinion about small children.
On Tuesday, mom was sitting, baby was chirpy, and we let it go. Nobody said anything. She stayed for the entire meeting. However, five minutes into the meeting, my sponsor was already fidgety. He got up, went to pee, and went home.
After the meeting I called him, and asked what his problem was? His response …
A.A. is not a nursery, we come to get sober, not to listen to babies cry…
This was unvarnished truth. I heard the words, I listened to them as they came out, and right away I knew, in my heart of hearts, that he was telling me a real truth. Not an opinion.
That did not sit very well with me. I said to him, pointedly, that I will not ask a woman with a child to leave a meeting, because she is carrying a baby. I will not go against the third tradition for no reason whatsoever.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
The tradition as it reads in the Twelve and Twelve states:
“You are an A.A. member if you say so. You can declare yourself in; NOBODY can keep you out. No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications – even your crimes – we still can’t deny you A.A.”
Having a child is not in the handbook. Bringing that child to a meeting, is also, NOT in the handbook.
If you read Tradition Three from the book, and you have studied the early fellowship, this tradition was really needed early on because of all of the strife, judgment and problems, those early drunks had with certain people. Some of those prejudices still exist.
It was a very good thing when the Traditions came in, because they solved a lot of problems.
But like I said, shit still happens in meetings to this day.
Traditions be damned in some people’s opinions.
So I heard that judgmental and sexist remark.
Some alcoholics get sober, some do get SOBER, and some do not. Nobody is immune to judgment or opinion. We all have them. It was my judgment that someone with thirty or more years of sobriety would “behave better” or be a little kinder or compassionate and understanding.
I did not hear that when he said, A.A. is not a nursery.
What I heard was, women with babies do not belong at a meeting. Not mine of course.
For many weeks, I have been in consultation with another Old timer. I respect him a great deal, and I have been talking to him about many things. After this small succinct conversation with my sponsor, I knew the deal was done.
I don’t agree with you, and I won’t be part of your campaign.
I just lost all respect for someone because they were honest, to a fault.
Tonight after the meeting, I asked this other old timer to be my new sponsor.
He respects me as a man, that is mutual.
Tomorrow I am getting in a car, with my present sponsor and going to Vermont for the Spring Men’s Twelve Step Intensive retreat, at St. Anne’s Shrine in the Vermont lake district.
I have shared my displeasure with him.
I paid $200.00 for this weekend. I can NOT go. One, it is nonrefundable, and Two, my husband would kill me if I stayed home.
Suffice to say, I am glad that there are two other people riding in our car. That will make the transits a bit more pleasurable.
But the deed is done. I made my decision. I trust my intuition.
I’m not going to ask my friends, that I have spent inordinate amounts of time ministering to afar and close, ask them NOT to come to the meeting with their babies. That is just NOT going to happen, not on my watch. The other women in the group would agree. You can’t kick someone out of a meeting because they are “with child.”
I will be away until Sunday.
I need to pack my bathing suit before I forget !
More to come, stay tuned …
If you are going to jump out of a plane, do it with your friends.
This weekend we celebrated the marriage of one of our men to his wife. The thought of marriage was not his first thought when he got here. Among family and friends they shared their vows, and today was their first day of married life.
It could not have happened to a better friend.
The month of May is a very busy in sober land. The first push of sober events begin next weekend, with the Spring Men’s Intensive in Vermont. We will be leaving Friday afternoon, returning on Sunday.
Later in the month, we have the Pioneer’s Roundup and the weekend following is the West Island Round Up. Kind of a One Two Punch of sober experience, strength and hope coming from all over the map.
I have said that the Spring offensives have begun in earnest. People marching in the streets will be the norm for the months to come. Last night they marched Westward through the downtown core, today they marched Eastward for the March against the Armenian Genocide.
I left just in time to see the parade step off not far from home, I was traveling against the tide. A solemn memorial then took place further down into the core.
I’ve been noticing all the shoots and buds that have been appearing in gardens, on bushes and trees. Little by slowly, Montreal is greening up. On my walk to the church we walk through a row of condos, and all of their gardens are coming to life. New flowering plants, the bushes and slowly slowly, the hundred year trees are beginning to bud out.
The trees in the church yard were struck with the blight last fall, so the leaves dropped dead and did not color. Hopefully the long cold winter has killed whatever bug is going around the tree tops.
There were signs on the church door when I arrived this evening, “Le Petite Chanteurs de Montreal” were performing this afternoon. (The Little Singers of Montreal) The BEST youth choir in all of the city. They performed a few months ago and today kicked off their summer tour, which will take them from Montreal to Europe this summer.
In the end, it all came together. We swapped the kids out and restored the hall to normalcy and we had our meeting, albeit a much smaller crowd, because you know, the weather is good, and there was hockey on tap, which gives anyone who enjoys hockey a pass for anything other than the great game.
This week is also auspicious because it is May anniversary sweep for my guys. Today we celebrated one six month anniversary. He survived a terribly stressful trip to Europe that did not end well, because of immigration issues. In the end he navigated the swells, he didn’t drink, and he got back to Montreal eventually, after several trips between Vienna and Frankfurt to sort out his paperwork and passport.
It was a nightmare …
Tomorrow we celebrate a three year anniversary at the M.A. meeting with another one of my guys. I was going to say Friday as well, but I won’t be here on Friday. Oh well.
It was a small meeting and we read a couple of short stories from Experience, Strength and Hope. The sense of gratitude for the first 100 folks who got sober, did it by the skin of their teeth and through fellowship with the suffering alcoholic, affords us the opportunity to read their stories, the first stories, and how they got by in the hardest of times, World War One, the Great Depression.
If it weren’t for them, we would not have what we have today.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned…