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Archive for June, 2015

Sunday Sundries … Trudging

tumblr_lybtza3QzS1qjldjvo1_500 jackanthonyCourtesy: Jack Anthony (Archives)

June and July are Pride months around the world. Pride this year is ever so much more festive because of just how forwards many places in the world have become. The last year alone we have seen LGBT people recognized and laws changed and also how the perception of the gay community has changed.

However, that is not the norm in many places. Jail and death are the norm for some places who punish our LGBT people for being who they are. We’ve seen atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion in the Middle East. It’s abominable how some pervert the religion of many to suit their extremist ideas.

For many, in many places, we should be grateful for small mercies that we live where we live, and are for the present, free from being thrown from atop a building or imprisoned for who God created us to be.

The marriage business just got a huge boost in business this weekend.

The great thing about providing services to LGBT people is that we know how to spend money. And when it comes to love, marriage or any celebration, we tend to go ALL OUT.

It’s a pity that some are still so ignorant and stupid when it comes down to belief and practice.

I heard someone say, a few days ago that Gays and Lesbians now have the right to be as happy or as miserable as their straight counterparts.

Also that Marriage is not for everyone.

Committing to another human being is not a fly by night decision. For me, my marriage was a celebration of humanity. My husbands humanity. It was a celebration that he was still whole after months of treatment for his Bi-Polar situation.

I was telling a friend earlier tonight, because he inquired about hubby, that he was indeed well, and I explained that a bit further. The man I met and fell in love with was not the same man I ended up with, after doctors treated him, quite successfully for his condition. But that treatment was not kind and changed him from day to night.

I accepted that. Because I was not going to leave him when he needed me the most. So when he got up, we celebrated with family and friends.

Marriage was not something we took lightly. And God knows, He tested us to make sure this was what we wanted. Life threw us the cards and we played. More than ten years later, we do not take a single day for granted.
Marriage has changed the face of gay life. There are some who still run on the Grindr system and flirt with people and live inside frenetic sexual exploration. Never to settle down and have a solid relationship. We’ve had to educate ourselves on just what it means to settle down, and be ok with that in the long term. (My God, you mean I have to settle for having sex with just one person for the rest of my life ???) What happens to the local gay bar, if there are no single and happy with that crowd? There are plenty of APPS for that.

I loved working in the bar when I did, because of the people, not necessarily about the hunt. Meeting hubby was a one off occurrence. If we were off by seconds, we might have missed that perfect opportunity.

I would never enter the market again, should anything ever happen to either one of us.

LGBT folks all over the world are giving credence to our ability to settle down, become responsible and learning to love just one man or woman.

NOT ALL OF US THINK WITH OUR CROTCHES. AND WE DON’T LIVE IN OUR BEDS FUCKING DAY AND NIGHT, JUST TO PROVE A POINT !!!

Funny, all those wingnuts who believe that all we do is have sex, are so misguided. I wonder if they secretly long to be in our bedrooms watching to see if having sex is all we do, because they fixate on sex so much, their husbands and wives must be pretty sexually boring.

If only they really knew the truth.

It’s not all about sex at all.

The LGBT community needs to teach the world just what we mean and how we live with each other, in unity and love. We need to stand up and be counted. To attest that love is possible and marriage is something we take seriously, and that we can raise children just as well as our straight counterparts.

Because we know just how well straight people raise their children right?

  • They toss their kids in the street.
  • They send them away to be REPROGRAMMED
  • Some kids are physically and sexually abused
  • The drive to make money, supersedes the desire to be a parent
  • Kids are ignored or starved
  • They go to bed hungry at night, some have very little clothing

These are not generalizations, they are facts, based on what we see everyday or in print or on TV.

Can you imagine that we, LGBT people, would  treat our kids the way WE were treated when we were kids? Do you think we would perpetuate the shit we saw from our parents or our communities?

We think NOT !

We shall see just who wins the argument on what sexual model best raises their children.

In the end, I know for a fact, that there are adults out there, who should never have gotten married in the first place, let alone have children. There are many of us out here, who know that they are gifts from God, having been raised by parents that did what they did to us. We might not have been created out of the best situations, but nonetheless we are here.

The least we can do, is to never raise children under that same model.

The world has shown us how kids have been raised. The picture isn’t pretty.

Just a few thoughts for Sunday …

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – The After Party

Do you believe in Love

“… Then too, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness, very deep, sometimes quite forgotten. Therefore, we should try hard to recall and review those past events which originally induced these conflicts and which continue to give our emotions violent twists, thus discoloring our personalities and altering our lives for the worse.”

This passage, from tonight’s A.B.S.I. is taken from the Twelve and Twelve, and it speaks towards Step Eight … Making that list you are going to use for Step Nine … The Amends.

The first step to make, in this effort, in my belief, is to forgive ones self. After probable years of self hatred, self abuse, self loathing, and beating ones self up with the drink, or drugs, we have come to the point, if we are IN our steps, that we have decided to get clean and sober.

But with that decision, comes a second decision we must make, in order to get better. And that is to take ourselves to task for what we have done, what others have done to us, and how we feel about those two factors.

I was talking to my friends after the meeting about these decisions. If we take these steps and we are moving towards completing our steps, we must be prepared for whatever emotions come up, whenever they come up and deal with them, (however we are able, at whatever stage of sobriety we are, at that point) This is not the easier softer way for most of us.

Dealing with the wreckage of our pasts, for some, as it was said tonight, creates for many, a state of P.T.S.D. about our addiction as it played out. Now we decided to get sober.

The deal is, that we don’t run back to the bottle or the drugs when things get tough. I want so badly for some of my friends to walk forwards and just DO IT.

That means the rest of us have to step up, get off our asses and DO SOMETHING.

If people, men or women, don’t have proper support, 24 / 7 then what good are we to our fellows? I did what I had to do to get better. And God provided me with opportunities to be present, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

It went as it was going to go. This reading brings up specific feelings about the past and many of us spoke to this issue. I was not the only human being in the room tonight, who has heartache and may not be able to properly complete my (read: our) steps a full 100%.

In the end I spoke my piece, not to seek pity or a love fest, but there are very few topics in my life today that spike me into un-sober behavior. This reading speaks, also, to emotional sobriety, which was also brought up tonight.

There are days and holidays which I work very hard to get through, and not loose my composure and I teeter on the edge of a cliff of un-sober thinking, acting and speaking. Steps Eight and Nine, for me, are sore subjects, because I will never get the resolution I am looking for because I have learned and come to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.

At the end of the meeting, I was standing outside with friends, and the meeting matriarch came out and stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes as she hugged me, saying that I was a wonderful human being. I was almost driven to tears, because I knew what she was trying to tell me and show me, one human to another.

I love my friends. They make all of this possible. My friends have my back and I have theirs. I’ve said before that where else could one go to be loved so much and someone there for you when ever you need them to be?

We are totally blessed.

I am 47 years old and today the United States made history. Gay marriage is legal across the United States. So many Republicans and Preachers have the sadz …

The evangelic base is stirring like hornets. And the battle lines have been drawn. Obama Care and Gay Marriage are the wedge issues that are going to fire up those hell bent voters who disagree with both decisions, as the White House celebrate their winning streak.

Those wily homosexuals got their win today. And you can take that to the bank.

In the end LOVE WON.

All we want is to be recognized legally. And like a friend said earlier today, now everybody can be as happy or as miserable as the rest of those who have marriage rights. Divorce happens on both sides of the fence. Now the gays can do the same.

But I know, most gay folks put straight folks to shame when it comes to marriage.

We do marriage right, we do planning right, we get the flowers right, and we get the music right. Many old timer couples have been together much longer than their straight counterparts. NOW it is legal for their unions to be recognized by the constitution.

We will see who wins this argument in the coming years.

Heterosexual divorce is up there in numbers. I encourage my gay and lesbian friends to put those straight people to shame. We will show you just how good we do marriage.

Well Done Supreme Court.

It was Great day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Last Paragraph – Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the decision legalizing same-sex marriage in the U.S.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who authored today’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, is sometimes made fun of for his notoriously purple prose. But today he managed to close his opinion with one of the most beautiful passages you’ll likely read in a court case. I teared up. So did a few other Slate staffers.

kennedy_2.png.CROP.promo-mediumlarge


Supreme Court affirms right to gay marriage

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Supreme Court affirms right to gay marriage 

The Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, striking down bans in 14 states and handing a historic victory to the gay rights movement that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago.

Anthony Kennedy, a conservative justice who has broken with his ideological colleagues to author several decisions expanding rights for LGBT people, again sided with the court’s four liberals to strike down the state bans. The 5-4 majority ruled that preventing same-sex people from marrying violated their constitutional right to due process under the 14th Amendment and that the states were unable to put forth a compelling reason to withhold that right from people.

“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Kennedy wrote of same-sex couples. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.”

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” he continued. “The Constitution grants them that right.”

The United States is now just the 21st country in the world to allow same-sex marriage in every jurisdiction.

Chief Justice John Roberts read a stinging dissent from the bench, as Kennedy sat beside him, his hand on his chin. “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law,” he wrote. “Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

Roberts told same-sex couples they could “celebrate today’s decision,” even though he disagreed with it so strongly.

“Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits,” he wrote. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Despite Roberts’ harsh words, people in the courtroom were all smiles as they poured out onto the steps after the decision. Some wiped tears from their eyes.

In oral arguments last April, Kennedy expressed reservations about changing the traditional definition of marriage to include LGBT people and seemed to suggest that the court should allow the American public to continue debating the relatively new concept.

“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia,” he said then, referencing the amount of time societies had considered marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

But Kennedy was swayed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples already exist and that they — and their children — are being treated differently by the law when they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union. The states in the case also had trouble articulating why they had a compelling reason to deny that recognition, saying only that it was in the interest of children to only allow couples of the opposite sex to marry.

The decision came just two years after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could no longer refuse to recognize married same-sex couples who lived in the handful of states that had legalized their unions. That decision, also written by Kennedy, caused a cascade of lower court decisions striking down state same-sex marriage bans, and now 36 states allow same-sex marriage. Public opinion on gay marriage has changed at lightning speed as well: 60 percent of Americans support it, compared with just 37 percent 10 years ago.

This transformative opinion will most likely continue the trend toward greater acceptance of LGBT people around the country, as the highest court of the land has ruled that same-sex unions are legitimate and lawful everywhere.

Even with the landmark decision, however, support for gay marriage has been almost nonexistent among elected Republican officials, whose positions on the issue likely will not change overnight. To date, no major Republican presidential candidate has endorsed marriage equality. Many 2016 GOP candidates even struggled with the question of whether or not they would attend a gay wedding.

Despite public opposition, many Republican operatives privately have suggested that court rulings favorable to gay marriage are a blessing in disguise for GOP politicians. With the judicial system expanding gay rights, the courts have eased the burden on the legislative and executive branches, removing pressure for them to act proactively on marriage equality policy.

The opinion is a big win for the Obama administration, which is already flying high after the Supreme Court batted down a potentially fatal challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. The president came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2012.

Friday’s ruling also could have a big effect on religious institutions that have maintained their opposition to same-sex marriage. Religious schools that refuse to provide housing for same-sex couples could face lawsuits and lose their tax-exempt status, for example. (Religious clergy will not have to marry same-sex couples, however.) Some states will most likely respond to this ruling by attempting to pass legislation to exempt people who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, such as the controversial Indiana law that passed in March.

The gay rights movement, meanwhile, will move on to employment discrimination. Activists want a federal law that forbids discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation.

Gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry immediately in the four states named in the case — Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. There may be a delay of a few days or weeks for same-sex marriage to be legal in the remaining states with bans, since lower courts will have to apply the opinion to them.


Thursday … FIRE IT UP !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21

I’ve been thinking about this image all day long. It goes along with our theme tonight:

BESTS …

After my not so sober post on Sunday, we return to regularly scheduled programming.

We begin on a very happy note.

We are still experiencing on and off rain/sun/rain again/sun … weather

Tuesday, the city was under a severe storm warning all evening, into the night. The threat of rain, and the size of Baby LuLu’s stroller, was the deciding factor for hitting the meeting.

The rain won.

We began reading Living Sober. This book is probably the third most important book to read in early sobriety. The most important book, first, is our meeting list book, because it has all the meetings listed in the city (read: over 500 meetings a week). Second is the Big Book.

Living Sober is the book we suggest our new folks to read because it gives you actual practical advice about how to “live sober,” if only that in the beginning. We are faced with certain situations and life experiences that, when we used and drank, were really, not an issue.

But now we’ve given up the drugs and alcohol, how do we manage and mitigate those situations soberly, when before we used to use? There are many chapters in this book, that talk about various situations, feelings, problems that we may face, now sober.

Along with other sober human beings, having a book that tells you what to do, is also very useful.

But nothing beats talking to another human being when times get tough.

That’s what we are all here for.

Wednesday Night Cookery …

With Baby Mama moving back, we’ve all been working very hard at making sure she has everything she needs. On Wednesday evenings, I go over to her house and I cook a meal that we share, and she gets leftovers for the rest of the week. This is so I ensure she is eating, not that she isn’t, but a little more food is good. Next week she moves into her forever home.

**** **** ****

Which leads very nicely into tonight’s offering.

We got to St. Matthias early. I got to reconnect with a friend that I spent a good deal of time with, discussing some very serious topics the other night. He listened to what I said and that proved to be useful to him.

Then as we walked back inside the hall, a very familiar woman was talking to our greeter. I had not seen her in a while, she is a West Islander, so seeing her in the city, is a treat.

It was a double treat, because, she was our invited speaker.

She is on her way, God willing, One day at Time, to her five year mark this fall.

The last time I heard her speak was more than four years ago, which would have put her, just inside her first year.

There are no “Bests” in the rooms. We usually don’t think that way. But one of my guys was in the meeting and at the end he said to me that “her share was the best share he had ever heard.”

I have to concur…

The routine in the room is “what it was like, what happened and what it is like now.”

That is the method.

Every delivery of that method differs from person to person, woman to man, young to old.

I’ve said before, that hearing people share, more than once, or even several times in sobriety, allows me to hear wisdom in their words.

Where, in the beginning, we hear the story, and at times, said speaker might be in the middle of their story, so the resolution into “what happened” might not be over yet. They might not understand or see the wisdom or grace of portions of their story, until they are standing on the other side of it, or even, having the wisdom of time, and hindsight to be able to see their progress in certain areas, or have concrete feelings one way or another about their story as a whole.

Here in Montreal, the odds of hearing someone more than once is high. That depends on how many speaker meetings you hit in any given week over long periods of time.

Those odds go up, if you hit meetings here in the city AND hit meetings on the West Island.

I know of a handful of people I’ve heard speak at a speaker meeting more than once. Some, also hit discussion meetings, but many don’t.

Tonight, we laughed, we cried, we sobbed and came full circle and laughed again.

It is very rare to hit all of these in one night.

The loss of a child, I believe, is one of the greatest heartaches, any mother or father can go through, and I can’t touch that feeling because I’ve never lived it.

  • Most don’t make it out.
  • Many go back to the bottle, usually much heavier than when they were just “drinking for effect.”
  • Now they were drinking for an entirely different reason.

And let me tell you, this kind of drinking would usually end up in death, for any normal drinker, but for an alcoholic, it is suicidal drinking.

Survival from this kind of drinking is a miracle.

At some point, man or woman, we get to the end of the line. However we get there, we get there, usually in a haze of delusion, or a crash and burn situation.

When the end came for our woman, she made that crucial call.

The man who took that call, was sitting in the room with us tonight.

Hello, Alcoholics Anonymous, my name is ______ HOW can I HELP you?

His first sentence was “IT’S GOING TO BE OK!”

For a woman who had never heard that before, that was earth shattering.

She took herself to what we call “the Squirrel Cage” on the West Island.

The squirrel cage is a small meeting with a handful of folks, which is an offshoot of the main meeting which used to be held at the same time, in the same location, in a different room.

So one used to have a choice. Today, only the Squirrel Cage remains.

A member was at the door, in her words … “600 year old man …”

He welcomed her warmly, took her to get a cup of coffee and sat her down.

She wanted to slink in and not get noticed. We are savvy alcoholics, if you had not figured that out yet. Anyways, at the end of the meeting, folks took her into their hearts, 100%.

She really wasn’t sure about the program or the work involved, but she had to walk her road.

You hear the same things in the beginning.

  • Go to meetings
  • Read the Book
  • Get a sponsor
  • Do the work

Reticent to do all these things, they took time to begin. She sure as hell was not going to get a sponsor, and if she did, it would be a man, like mistakes she had already made.

They told her to find a woman ? A woman, she responds? “Yes a woman.”

In the end she met, in her words… “Hitler.”

Sometimes we need a swift kick in the ass to get started. For most, this approach sends people running for the hills, but there are those who take certain concrete directions from the get go.

Sometimes there is no better time than the present to get started.

And her sponsor said to her …“IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING !!!!”

You know, I didn’t get that exact message when I came in, but I was willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, so I did everything I was told, without question. Because the first time was a gift, the second time I had to really work for it, and I worked it for all it was worth.

I was eleven year sober when I heard that exact message.

IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING…

Our woman got off her ass and she did the work. She did something that most people balk at, looking into our stories, seeing the pain and heartache, for her this was immense, dealing with the wreckage of her past and making peace with it.

Then the suggestions of prayer and meditation rose.

In her words …”You want me to pray to a God, who took my child?”

You must be kidding.

The vehicle for her prayer life began with her child that she lost.

In her words … “My child came into my life, only to die, and bring me to this place of grace.”

She has come full circle.

She needed her child to get to a certain point. Now, with a few years of wisdom, she was able to let her child go back to God, where He could use her.

All along, there is her son, who now is almost twelve years old. A child that has seen her through all her mishaps and bad decisions. A child who, himself, once or twice, said to her,

“REALLY? Do you think this is a wise decision?”

Her son, had that kind of intuitiveness.

At the end, with him sitting in the passenger seat, mom in her pajamas, no seat belt, drunk, wraps her car around a tree, he survived. When the car stopped, he got out of the car and ran for his life, screaming for help.

Can you imagine what that little boy feels after living the life he had up until that point?

**** **** ****

On moms first anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms second anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms third anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On her fourth anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, this time he said yes!

A few days ago, he said to her, “October is coming soon? mom said yes,
and he said, I want to be there.”

These are just snapshots of the entire message.

Points that I think were important to talk about.

Who can you call, and get help, right then and there?
Where can you go, and find people who “know” where we have been and not run?
Where can you go, and have your life change and to see dreams come true, in certain order?

No Where…

We might be a rag tag bunch of alcoholics. But when push comes to shove, we will move mountains to see you succeed. I don’t know any other place that this is possible.

There is no place I would rather be, then here in this life, with my kind of people.

Because I would not have the life I have, or the lives we have, if not for these people.

We laughed, we cried, we sobbed and we laughed again…

I love my life.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries, Episode #2 … Honor thy Father and Mother

title_ten_commandments_blu-ray

Exodus 20:11

יא  כַּבֵּד אֶת-אָבִיךָ, וְאֶת-אִמֶּךָ–לְמַעַן, יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ

עַל הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ.  {ס}

Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

The day passed without feeling or anger. And it would have gone untouched, had not a good friend of mine called me tonight, inquiring if I was “ok.” I knew what he meant, and I answered that I was. But after ruminating over this, I owe this letter to posterity.

In a months time I will be 48 years old. I have lived well past my expiration date, as doctors told me several times that I was going to die. God, it seemed, has other plans for me, because I am still breathing.

God spoke to Moses, and these words are inscribed on the stone tablets Moses brought down from the mountain. This is one commandment that I cannot abide with. And it doesn’t abide with me either.

How could one honor thy father and mother, when they could not honor their first born son. How could they create progeny, abuse them throughout their lives and turn on them with hatred and condemnation, and ask a child to “just die already” and expect to be honored themselves?

My father’s two phrases he used to toss around like the scripture he quoted from a bible that he never opened were:

  • Blood is thicker than water
  • Be careful the words you speak, because once you speak them, you can never take them back.

When I was a young boy, I listened well to everything that was spoken by both my parents. I knew I was Gay, before I knew what Gay was. But by the time I had learned what it was, and that I was Gay myself, remaining under my father’s roof was not something I could do and survive, because he tried several times as a child to kill me, chasing me around the house with a bat, only to be thwarted by vigilant grandmothers who protected me from him.

I moved away, but alcoholism followed me where ever I went.

I was a problematic alcoholic, what I did not know created rifts with my parents.
To this day, I don’t think they ever forgot nor forgave me.

I always lived apart from my family, mainly because I knew they would not approve of my lifestyle, and they did not. They made that perfectly clear well before I left the nest. When I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, I turned to my family. I called them together to tell them and to ask for help and support.

How do you think that turned out? It didn’t …

Along with my then boyfriend, all of my friends, and my fucking family, everybody walked away. My mother worked in home health care, and knew AIDS patients in her line of work. She knew fairly well, what was going to happen to me, in the end.

Do you think that gave her compassion or love? It did no such thing.
No she just wanted the faggots to “just die already !!!”

That Christmas, 1994, I went home for the holiday, against my better judgment. I knew what was coming. I was locked in at night. I could not use the phone, nor could I visit anyone while I was there. On Christmas day my father set a card table in the living room with a plastic chair. He set me a plastic plate, and plastic cutlery and a plastic cup.

The rest of the guests sat at the dining room table and ate in front of me, while I was separate from the group itself. My father humiliated me in front of friends and guests. The son of one of the guests left the main table and came and sat with me so I would not be eating alone. The next day they invited me out on their boat and they asked me for forgiveness for what was done to me, and how horrified they were to see my parents do that to me in front of others.

I NEVER went home again.

I got sober the first time. And a few years in, my father granted me visits with him when he would travel to Miami from Sarasota. But every time he visited he would belittle me and ponder my death right in my face.

One night, on the way home from dinner, (while on the highway) he started in on me. I asked him to stop the car (on the highway) where I got out of the car (on the highway) and walked miles home by myself. I told him never to come back and see me.

The first time I got sober, I was not of right mind in many ways. I was not very sober. As I am sober today. And I made several decisions based on self that were less than charitable.

My sponsor agrees that certain decisions were not self centered but were made out of self preservation.

I pissed my brother and his then fiance off, which afterwards, they would never communicate with me ever again. And that has been their story for more than twenty years.

I could not live up to the man they named me after upon my birth. How could a gay, HIV+ faggot live up to the honor of a man who died fighting a war in Viet Nam? I legally changed my name to be done with them. That was a direct strike across the bow of their battleship.

Years would pass. I would be sober, I would drink, and I would return to the program in due time.

On New Years Day, January 1st 2001, I was sober. I had not drunk. I had just returned from a job at a nightclub, where I had worked an all nighter. Just coming home and getting into bed, my phone rang. My mother was on the line saying that they were in Miami, and would be coming to see me on their way back.

A little while later, they rolled up and my father parked in a fire zone (read: No Parking in a fire zone) with the car idling. I said to them that we could go out for breakfast and that I would pay for parking and food. They said no.

I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother. We walked around the block where I lived. I walked her back to the car, she got in the car and they drove away. I had twenty minutes with my mother after years of no communication or visits.

I later found out that my parents has been in Miami for a week prior to them showing up on my doorstep. A week !!!

I never saw either of them again, to this day …

I got sober on December 9th 2001. I was sober a few months, when the lies my mother told us as children came up. My mother, being a Canadian citizen when I was born, lied to us, saying she was an American.

I got a letter from the Canadian Government soon after offering me a birthright certificate into the country if I met the criteria, which I did. I sent the check and the paperwork.

The way I was living in Miami was not viable. I was barely surviving, even when I got sober.

I turned my sights on Canada. I came up on Easter Ash Wednesday 2002. I stayed a week, I loved it, so I stayed another week. I found a doctor and a home. I flew back to Miami, for a few days, to pack and sent everything North.

Three day later, I left the United States for good. I never looked back.

Moving to Canada was akin to High Treason on my American Father’s honor.

For the following two years, I worked very hard at relationships with my parents. At the two year mark, my mother called and said:

“If me or your father get sick and die, nobody will call you. Nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

That was the last time we spoke.

It is now 2015. I am closing in on Fifty. I am sober. I am alive. I have a life, a home, a husband and all the things I ever wanted and more. I could not be any happier. The life I have today, would never have happened had I stayed in Miami, I would have probably died sooner.

I am an idealistic man who has dreams of grandeur.

I am a lot more sober than I was fourteen years ago, and much more sober than I was the first time, close to twenty years ago. I work very hard at living and being sober.

With the dawn of Facebook, several family member are on the site. And to this day, they refuse to communicate with me. Every year that goes by, and I am still alive, I get angrier and angrier.

All I want, before I die, is for certain human beings to acknowledge me and the life I live.

If I am to honor thy father and mother, they need to step up and honor me, if only for the fact that when they asked me to die, I lived … How can you turn your backs on your children in their hour of need? How can you live with hatred and scorn for so long?

Happy Fucking Fathers Day you hateful old man …

tumblr_m1x5tpsILv1qmi5uao1_500 alexander


Sunday Sundries … Fired Again (read: Self Sabotage)

tumblr_mny6xdcYk61qmbg8bo1_500They warned us that it would pour down rain today … We are still waiting on that.

It was a beautiful day, albeit a little steamy. Everyone was prepared for rain, that has not materialized yet tonight. Today is the first day of Summer, and it is also the longest DAY of the year.

I had a long discussion before the meeting with one of my friends about family, dogma, resentments and anger. And we both agreed that it takes a pretty good amount of energy to live with these issues in our everyday lives.

I wonder what it takes to tap that kind of negative energy and from what well it comes from and how some people can live that way and be fruitful and productive.

I don’t have that kind of spare energy to devote to those kinds of things. I need all the energy I can get just to live my life as freely as I do today.

**** **** ****

We sat a full house. Our men and women are engaged in step work, which is a very good thing for them and for us.

Today we read “Fired Again.” This particular story happens in the early teens and twenties, well before the conception of the fellowship. And one thinks, how did these people get better when help was still a ways away.

So the story, as it happened, fell before Dr. Bob and Bill were introduced, yet this story comes from the First Edition, which means, that our man, in this story, was introduced to the good doctor at some point in his life, and finds the solution.

Family alcoholism is not a new concept. This problem, for me, can be traced back, three generations. By the time I came along, and my brother as well, alcohol was a major food group.

It was part and parcel of everyday living. My father always said that he would rather have his children drink at home, then going out to get it. And that was the line we were fed early on, when getting beer from a 7/11 was the routine.

Alcohol, for our writer was the constant, around which he tried to build a life, get a job, find a wife, get married and have children.

You could say this story wreaks of “All About Me.”

From a very young age, driven by the disease of alcoholism, he would get work, want to be the best and make the most money, and if he found out that someone was making more than he was, he would quit said job and go somewhere else.

This routine repeated over and over again. Later he would end up fired from several jobs in succession.

This is All About Me, You aren’t paying me enough, turning to, I can’t get by, I need to make money, I want a life, a wife and money, but I am hampered by unrealistic expectations, and the desire to drink is stronger than the desire to get along with my life.

Unsatisfied with the mere gratitude and satisfaction of just having a job during that period of time, and making some money, where ever he went, alcohol followed.

We read shades of self importance, arrogance, self centeredness, and resentful attitudes.

There was no pleasing this guy, given the times he was living in. You might say that some one barely getting by, living from hand to mouth, would be satisfied with just having enough.

Just enough wouldn’t fly for him, he had to have MORE.

The disease of MORE was alive and well, even during those days.

Not only MORE, but MORE on his terms, or no terms at all.

You play the game my way, with my rules, or I am taking my ball and going home.

It is apparent that for many years, our alcoholic man, was living in his insanity, expectations that were well outside his ability to reach, and a drive that ended in the hole, monetarily, personally, physically, morally and spiritually.

Throughout the story, our guy realizes at certain points, that the drink, might be the problem. So he moderates and for a bit, even stops drinking, on his terms, by himself.

Well, we know how that routine usually works out.

The next step is sanitariums and institutions. Which he does several trips through. He attempts the Three Day Cure, once, twice, three times, and a longer stint in detox.

But he fails and drinks again.

In the end, facing a very distraught wife, sullen children, severe debts, and nothing to show for his efforts at working, due to his superior expectations, comes full circle. Finally, his wife, hears about the good doctor, in turn she turns her husband on to him as well.

Our man has a moment of clarity when he writes … “If these men can get sober and live within the means of The Solution, then I can get sober as well.”

He could not do it on his own. Alcoholics, left to their own devices, don’t have snowballs chance in hell of staying sober, without help.

Some, in today’s day and age, would beg to differ, and argue that one can, using one of many techniques today’s world can offer.

It came down to the one tried and true route …

One alcoholic talking to another.

By the end of the story, our man is introduced to no less than twenty men who found the solution, by common identification, and got sober. These first men would be the integral, core founders, of the fellowship.

Alcoholism is rampant way back. And the more dire the situations, the stronger the desire to drink. The whole mystery of alcohol is alive and well, and the attainment of alcohol was the most important task of those early alcoholics.

These first stories run on that common theme. One alcoholic talking to another. That’s all they had, each other. Can you imagine what that must have been like? It was by grace that these folks got and stayed sober. If not for them, we would not be here.

Everything we have and everything we are, comes because of those first 100 men and women.

We are lost, if we forget the contributions of the first founders.

More to come, stay tuned …


Shepherds and Sheep

the_steeple_of_emanuel_african_methodist_church_charleston_scPhoto Credit: Spencer Means, Wikimedia Commons

Lifted from: Steve Wiggins – Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

The murders in Charleston this week are part of an epidemic. The members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church join, unfortunately, a growing list of victims of hate. Not only hate, but that subspecies of hatred that calls the unstable to attack in a church, or synagogue, or mosque, as if to defy the very gods with their misanthropy.

Growing up we used to be taught that any place of worship is sacred. Then we believed it was because God had made it so, but now it is clear that sacred space is made so by the intent of those who worship. We find places where we believe we’re safe from the trials of the everyday world.

A place where God will look over us. A place, dare we call it, of sanctuary. Sanctuary is a concept that has gone extinct. As children we all knew of the concept of “home” in chasing games—the place where you were free and need not worry about someone coming after you. Amnesty was granted at the cry of “olly olly oxen free.”

In the biblical world, we’re told, those in danger could flee to the temple and grasp the horns of the altar and be safe. It wasn’t that someone couldn’t be pulled off, but it was that an inherent respect attended sacred places.

No place is sacred any more. Hatred has a way of overriding what we all recognize as civilization. Well-armed youth and a culture of hatred have never led to peace. Xenophobia may be natural, but it can be disarmed through education.

Unfortunately, in this country at least, education is not valued. In fact, in the culture wars, those who have the most sympathy for those who commit hate crimes will be among the first to cut education spending. It’s a luxury we can’t live without. We need to teach the meaning of sanctuary again. We need to teach the meaning of love.

Human beings shouldn’t have to rely on sanctuary to be safe. No matter what our racial heritage or gender or orientation, we are all simply people trying to make our way in the world. As a child I knew “olly olly oxen free” meant that nobody would try to tag me if I came out from hiding. I was also taught that the word “hate” was as bad as any swear and that it should not be said.

While my mother was teaching me the virtue of love, we were sending young men to kill foreigners in Vietnam. I grew up with no doubts as to which was the superior way. One way leads to life and peace, the other to constant fear and death. The people of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church have told Dylann Roof that they have forgiven him. They are offering sanctuary to one who has done nothing to earn or claim it. They, like children, lead us.


Friday … Calm Courage

kneel

“… Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself; trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended.”

We have tweaked the blog a bit. A little bit of change, with a few new images and a new header we are featuring. This photo comes from my preacher friend Gordon in Texas. This was his worship space where he ministered to his flock for many years, before giving up his church to go into the field and find God.

We are in a rain today, sun tomorrow, rain to come, and sun to follow kid of pattern this week.

Today we were on the upswing.

I spent time with a friend, and we followed that with a meeting. Tonight, the night was still bright at nine o’clock as I walked to the bus stop on the way home.

Tonight’s topic: Trouble – Constructive or Destructive

I listened to the reading twice and I did not think that I would have anything to say, until a friend drew upon this line from the reading.

Troubles … I’ve had my fair share of troubles. God has a funny was of making his presence known, and that usually happens when I am in serious trouble. Someone up there is watching me and keeping an eye out for me as well. Because I seem to have navigated this life, well, sometimes living on the edge it might seem, at certain times.

When have we transcended our troubles ?

And at what point point does transcendence take place ?

What would you call transcendence, how would you know ?

An old timer once said to me that, in order to see wisdom, you need two things:

The benefit of time, AND the experience of hindsight.

When we find ourselves in trouble, sometimes that trouble might seem, insurmountable when we are in the middle of it. And it might seem that trouble will never end. In most cases, save certain troubles, let’s say, life and mortality, troubles come and troubles go.

It is how we manage these troubles that matters.

As a young person in my family home, there was trouble. And I surfed it to the best of my ability. When I moved away, that trouble ended, but that did not last, because where ever I went, trouble seemed to follow. I must consider my youth and naivete. Add to that, my own blindness to the one trouble I had, that I never realized was a trouble (read: Problem).

Often when we read the Big Book, Bill had a certain way of writing. He never used the same word twice. If he was trying to get a point across to you, he would use as many words, that meant the same thing, without telling you that that was what he was doing, and I did not learn this until recently, when someone pointed this out to me.

You could use the word “trouble” or you could interchange the word with “problem.”

I skated through life, until I hit my mid twenties. I thought I was getting by, when I really wasn’t. I was involved with someone who was walking trouble. When that relationship went south, one night I walked into a bar, alone, and on that night, my life changed.

God began his slow emergence into my life. He knew better than I did, that pretty soon, I was going to need his help, because the trouble that was coming, would rock my world.

I can share these stories with you, because I know for a fact that in certain cases, I squarely faced trouble, and I transcended them.

TROUBLES SQUARELY FACED …

I was at work on a Sunday afternoon, and my mother called out of the blue. She tells me that my ex boyfriends mother called HER, to find out if I had seen him, because his mother could not reach him.

A few days would pass. Eventually, the police got involved. We found him a few days too late, and by that time he was long since dead. By this time, I also had the bar job at night. And God, in his infinite wisdom was right where He needed to be.

And not a minute too soon.

Suicide is never a good thing, for the one who kills themselves, nor for the persons they leave behind. How do I describe what it felt like to have a coroner call you and ask you to come and identify remains ? How do I quantitatively explain the gravity of such a request?

Do you know what a corpse looks like 5 days in ? I do…

His mother’s last words to me, after I identified him, and signed the papers to send his body home for burial were these …

“I hope for the rest of your life, the last thing you see when you close your eyes is my son’s dead body !”

I can tell you that twenty two years later, I can still see him, as I did on that fateful day.

I was still drinking. Let me tell you, I drank A LOT of liquor in the days that followed that day and that specific conversation. God was watching. Very closely. My friends, at one point, tried to intervene in my excessive drinking. They got me into therapy. Suicide survivors therapy.

For months, it seemed, I sat in a room, with family members, who were left behind. And I listened to them recount their specific war story every time someone new showed up. I kept on drinking, and I was working at the bar.

Todd passed an edict that nobody could drink while on the job. Ok, that was cool. There was plenty of time to drink after hours. And I did that. For a calendar year.

The second big trouble hit. I get a call from a certain friend, who tells me that my ex killed himself, because he was diagnosed with AIDS. Well nobody told me that !!!

Soon after that, I got very sick. I was in the middle of two tragedies.

One, facing the loss of a life, Two, facing the end of my own life.

That is when God stepped in definitively and took control.

Mortality, that, is one of those troubles that many don’t surmount and win.
Death is a forgone conclusion…

I can tell you that in both situations, I surmounted those two troubles, and I have transcended them. I have more than twenty years experience of time and hindsight, to offer.

When people began to get sick, it was inside a flurry of live fast and die young.

Where all of my friends decided to go out in a blaze of drugs and alcohol, Todd decreed that he would never let me go that way. He stepped in and kept me focused on living and surviving. He chose me, out of all those sick men to help. Probably because everyone I knew, including my family, tossed me to the gutter and I was alone.

All of my friends are dead. I am, very soon, going to cross my twenty second year, and I am still here. Those two very cathartic events in my life have come and gone. And while I was in the middle of them, it seemed that they would never end.

I can tell you squarely, my troubles came to an end.

I don’t know why I am still alive, nor why I lived and everyone else is dead.

God, is the only one who knows that answer, and He hasn’t shared that answer with me.

That means I get to tell this story as many times as I have to, to teach you all what can happen when one allows God to come step in and take control. Hopefully, these specific two stories will change a life for the better.

And maybe, just maybe, I will save a life.

I did not know what “Calm Courage” was. Todd did. I did not know if I would live or die. Todd did. I did not know life would end up this way, Todd did.

I don’t know how he knew, but he knew things that I needed to know.

I know … Now …

When I finally got to “that day” (read: the day I was supposed to die) And I was still alive, Todd helped me decide what I was going to do with myself. I was going to live.

I can tell you, that it was not the easier softer way, No, I took the long way round.

In the doors, out of the doors, back in the doors, I survived a third cathartic “trouble.”

God stepped in a third time and saved from me from imminent death.

Since I got sober the second time, my troubles seem insignificant, when I look at them against the lens of having survived suicide, my own mortality, and a near death experience.

There is no trouble I can’t face and deal with.

Unlike, many people on the earth, who walk around (some, blindly and not knowing from one moment to the next), I have someplace to go when I need help. It might cost me a loonie ($1) or a toonie ($2) at best, or it might cost me the price of a cup of coffee.

How much would you pay for someones life experience if you knew that experience would save your life? You can’t monetize life experience.

The rooms provide things for us, that normal human beings probably spend thousands or more dollars trying to find solutions to their problems.

If only everyone was an alcoholic.

They would have access to our fathomless bank of experience.

Today I have “calm courage.” I know this, because my experience has shown me where it saved my life, when I should have long since died.

I don’t often recognize it and sometimes I take it for granted.

All I need to do is stand in front of my medicine cabinet.

Instant gratitude…

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … He Met the Founders

1000 yearsThis book, published some time ago, tells 20 stories. Men and Women who had fifty years of sobriety, at the time of publishing. A few years ago, a founder gave me his copy to read. It made a definite impact on my life and my sobriety.

Tonight, we heard a man who has more than fifty years of sobriety. I imagine that he is in his eighties now. It was a different time then. He grew up, lived, loved and worked in Montreal.

But most of all, he learned how to drink here as well.

He learned how to drink early, and back then, beer was 50 cents a quart.

The drink devastated his life in many ways.

You could have heard a pin drop tonight, because of his soft spoken voice, people in the back of the room, probably did not catch every word, as we who were sitting up front may have.

Jobs were a dime a dozen, in his words, “you could get fired one night, and by the next afternoon, you’d find another job.”

Try that, while you are binge drinking.

He met his wife at age 22. They were both 22 years old.

Before they got married, his parents tried to warn her off because of his drinking history. Her response to this information was … “well, we love each other.”

They imagined that this marriage wouldn’t break the six month mark.

Our couple was married for fifty two years and had several children.

But the marriage was almost lost. His wife, could not speak to him, to tell him her fears and concerns, so she wrote them down, telling him that she was going to take the children and leave, it came to pass, that is was because of his children that he finally put down the drink.

The first time he put down the drink for a number of years, he did it by himself.

You know where this is going right?

One night in St. Eustache, he was stuck in a snow storm, and walked into a hotel and had “A” drink. That drink led to a binge over several days.

Which facilitated his return, (well, his introduction to) the rooms.

He said there were only FIVE meetings in the city back then. The founders were opening meetings in the city. He said that he had met the FOUNDERS.

That would be Dave B. in Montreal, and Bill and Bob, respectively.

Dave B. founded the first A.A. meeting in Montreal, in the year 1944.

What does an OLD TIMER say about the program?

He gets on his knees every day. And he thanks his creator. If that was the only take away, that would be enough. It was because of his children’s prayers for him, that they had faith in him, that he finally got sober.

In sobriety, he got an engineering job in 1966, working for Mayor Drapeau, prior to the opening of EXPO 67. Then we got a pearl. One Pearl.

One night, he was working on site.

Ille Notre Dame, and Ille St. Helen, are man made islands, that sit in the middle of the St. Lawrence Seaway on the East end of the city. When they dug the Metro System, the rock and debris they dug for the system was then used to create these Islands. Truck after truck of debris was brought out night after night. They built the islands to house some of the EXPO 67 displays.

Which is where you see, today, the remnants of Expo 67, on the river. Habitat 67 is on the South shore of the river which you can see from the islands and Old Montreal.

So back to the story …

One night he was sitting on the island as trucks brought rock from the tunnels.

He looked up into a star filled sky, all alone, by himself, and he said two simple words …

” Thank You…”

You never know when an OLD timer is going to get up and speak. There are not many Montreal founders left. And when they come out, and speak, you listen. And you listen good.

We’ve got a number of young people who are periphery squatters.

Those kids who come in at the last minute, sit in the back, and at the end, they are the first ones out the door. If this man, of more than fifty years of sobriety can stay sober, they can stay sober.

I hope for them, at least, that they got that message.

Many of our folks will never see fifty years sober. That is just a life fact for some.

Tonight we all were very grateful for the simple message, in very few words.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – Life Update & Working with Others

BabyL2It’s a baby …

It has been a very exciting couple of days.

Monday early on, my lady friend and I set out for the airport, via the express shuttle from our local Metro Hub. Arriving at the airport, Baby Mama’s flight was due in twenty minutes early, which only gave us a few minutes heads up to get flowers for mama and a balloon for LuLu.

In the arrivals area, there is a barrier that one is not supposed to cross, into the baggage claim area proper. People were crossing the barrier in front of us.

Across the arrivals hall we spied baby mama and LuLu coming. I crossed the barrier and went and greeted her and gathered her luggage and stroller/car seat contraption.

It was a cathartic moment, the day we all worked so hard for, for the last year.

There were tears and lots of hugs. Then the realization that mama was here and that it really happened.

We gathered the bundles and ourselves and took a taxi to her condo where she is staying. It is right down the hill from where she will be living come July 1st.

I have to say that AIR BNB have some really nice properties. And kind folks running them.

The condo is a basement suite with washer/dryer, (read: Fully furnished to high spec) Full kitchen/dining room, Full size bed/room, Fully stocked bath. Security system and A.C. and Heating. The living room is handsomely furnished with a flat screen HD tv and surround sound stereo system.

While we unpacked, the reality was starting to hit.

My lady friend took mama and baby grocery shopping, my old sponsor picked me up and we headed home to get the boxes and furniture that has arrived here for the baby. We drove back to the condo and unpacked and I put together the furniture and un-boxed the rest of the goodies baby mama had ordered.

We were all famished and exhausted, it seemed neither of us got very much sleep Sunday night, we ordered some Chalet Barbeque and shared a simple meal. Miss LuLu was a handful and was beginning to realize she was some place new, a new home and lots of new faces.

I think it was all a little too much for LuLu.

We took our leave around seven, when the second string ladies came to visit with mama and baby, so she was not alone. By the time I got home, I was pooped. I crashed.

This evening I met mama and we walked up to the meeting, stopping to show her where she would be living next month. Everything is local. The daycare is just down the road next to the new hospital complex, adjacent to the Vendome Metro station.

The new apartment is up the hill just a few minutes walk, and is equidistant between Villa Maria and Vendome Metro’s. The Tuesday meeting is just across the street from home.

The folks at the meeting tonight were warm and welcoming. The issue of the baby did not come up, it was wise that people kept that opinion to themselves, because by the end of the meeting Mama was in tears of gratitude that she was so warmly welcomed.

All part and parcel of who we really are. Warm and welcoming.

We finished Joe and Charlie. 35 weeks of Big Book lectures.

And the angels sang, Hallelujah !!!

If there is one thing this group has proven in the last year, is that we will go to any length to help our friends. Inside or outside the room. It took a village to make this event yesterday come together. Finding a home, seeing it and securing the address, going to the daycare and arranging baby care, (that was no small task). Then taking care of arrival and getting into her home, away from home.

This is departure week for my guys. Summer Camp starts next week, so people are traveling to get settled in early. Summer Camp is home away from home, it gives our folks another perspective so that they can devote their other skill sets to the task at hand.

Bittersweet because they will be gone until late August.

We are all very grateful and we could not be happier to have baby mama and miss LULU home with us. Their new chapter of life is now open.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Home Run, Mission Accomplished

tumblr_npm0kk2JV41rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox

We continue with our Baseball Themed series tonight.

Today was “D” day. The day that had to come together no matter what the cost, or time commitment. Our team of go getter ladies stepped up and took care of business.

With only 16 spots available for the 60 odd people who showed up to register their kids, we got Miss Lu Lu a spot in daycare, based on her dire need and our immediacy of placement of the baby. She got bumped to the head of the line.

There was much dancing and tears of joy for Mama. She could not have been more pleased to see this final hurdle come together as it did. Now all we need is for her to get on that plane tomorrow afternoon and come home.

It will a most festive day tomorrow, the day we all have worked so hard to see come to pass.

We spoke to New Foundland before the meeting where it was a chilly 10c, where here it was 24c and sunny.

We sat a full house. And read the story: “The Salesman.”

Once again, our story takes place in the 1920’s and eventually our man, by the end of the story had attained two years sober, at the time of his writing the story. Two years seems to be the magic number for those first 100 sober folks.

As a young man our writer comes from a farming family, and sees big business and dollar signs he imagines will come forth, if he becomes a traveling salesman.

And as stories go, he learns how to drink. Then he looses himself in the drink. And he becomes a traveling “drunk” salesman. This is not good.

He starts drinking … then stops !

“Is he gonna get it or is he not?”

He starts drinking again, and winds up in the loosing column, he stops again, this time a little bit longer !

“Is he gonna get it or not?”

He starts drinking again, and winds up in hospital, drunk and poor.

“Now, he might trip over it …”

A doctor. known for his solution oriented program, introduces our man to his men.

He’s not sure about these people, or the God angle, but in the end, it comes down to one alcoholic talking to another, with stories told, identification dawns.

He begins “The Work,” in earnest.

He writes that “it was a good thing they got him to work so soon after he quit drinking, and that kept him busy.” We are not talking about business work or making money. But it is inferred that they got him into talking to others and sharing the solution.

In the story, our writer talks about how he started his days, with a double shot of whiskey, just to get on the page. It wasn’t for the hair of the dog that bit him, but a necessary imbibing to get him rolling.

And as I sat there listening to one of my friends read this passage in the story, I had a sick feeling, I may have not had a drink in a long while, but my brain remembered just what whiskey feels and tastes like going down my throat.

As I sat there, I felt that whiskey go down my throat.

That’s never happened before.

Mindful, how close we are to the drink, if we forget what it was like, and then the next thought comes that “maybe we can handle another drink, normally!”

I sure as shit don’t know what normal drinking is, nor do I want to even contemplate a drink.

If we have nothing in common, we have our stories. The stories may differ, drinking histories, men or women, young or old, the basic theme is the same.

We began to drink, then we get taken by the drink, and end up in the loosing column with nowhere else to go.

You reach your bottom when you STOP digging.

Tonight, all of our folks, men and women, are sober, and have stopped digging.

All of us are in some way engaged with The Work, to some extent.

The themes of turning it over and letting go came up.

Who knew a room full of crazy alcoholics would have a solution to whatever ails us ?

G.O.D.

Good Orderly Direction
Group of Drunks
GOD.

One way or another, you find that power that is going to help you get and stay sober, some know what that is, others still don’t know, but they are sober another day, we all agree, that something greater than ourselves is doing the job.

Maybe it is the power that resides in each other, when we come together to share.

One alcoholic talking to another. Crosses all boundaries to that place that receives.

A good night was had by all.

Tomorrow is the Big Day, watch this space…

More to come.


IT DEFINITELY GOT BETTER – 5 Years on …

Acceptance-Quotes dot netFive years ago, the “It Gets Better” campaign began.

It was the hope that the many voices around the world, would bring hope and strength to young people who were, at that time, suffering from bullies and negative attitudes.

The other night, a friend of mine, put up a video on the fifth year anniversary of his original video talking about just where he is right now, five years later. His message:

IT DEFINITELY GOT BETTER !!!

This blog has been the center of my life, for many years, and where we are today as a community is a result of all the work I have done for the past five years and more.

So much has changed in the last five years, that it would take me hours of going through past posts to give you an idea of just what happened.

I was 42 when It Gets Better began. I was beginning to figure out that wisdom was beginning to come and that has only deepened over the years. I am 47 today. I would not have changed anything about the journey.

In the gay world, the youngsters tend to think us old fogies are now, “Over the hill” and could not “possibly still be relevant.”

I assure you that I am not over the hill, nor irrelevant.

I have a history and a story that needs to be remembered and shared, because young people of today’s generation have no idea what it was like just twenty years ago. Because that is when the story really starts.

As Dickens writes: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Things were pretty bad and they really needed to get better.

And in the end it took twenty years for that to come to fruition.

The dawn of social media bright all kinds of trouble with it. Insulated kids who were alone and at home after school, now had the tools to reach out to their peers and the rest of the world. That was not necessarily a good thing. Because we all know what happened.

Social Media brought the instantaneous attack to the fore.

You didn’t have to wait to have conversation locally, thoughts and feelings went global, like wildfire, overnight. And young people, like their adult counterparts were fair game.

Then we saw the ugly side of humanity enter the picture and teens began to kill themselves because of haters and internet trolls. For them it was not good, and it needed to get better.

I am here to tell my young readers that It Does Get Better.

You just have to hang on and walk forwards. Believe in us. Some of us have seen life get very ugly, we have seen human beings get very ugly (without the aid of social media) to begin with.

Suicide is Never an option. Your Life Matters. Every one of you matter. Even if you can’t imagine what that means on a greater scale, but you do.

All you need to do is page back and read. The history of what it was like, what happened and what it is like is here for you to study and learn from.

In just the last calendar year, life has changed so much.

Having all that we need, and being satisfied with that is no small accomplishment.

All you need to have is someone in your corner rooting for you. Someone who speaks kindness to you and supports you. If you can’t find that at home, find it here with all of us. Amid all the ugly internet assholes, there are genuine people who care about you and all we want is for your happiness and survival.

You’ve come so far and you have your whole life ahead of you.

Life is about the Journey, not the destination.

Just keep walking. Believing. Trusting.

We are out here.

You are never alone.

It Does Get Better.


Saturday … Double Play

tumblr_np1kb7y0531rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox

Rain Rain Go Away, Come again Another day …

This week, it rained, and rained and rained some more. Kinda pissy rain, not a flat out pouring, however it might have, I was just out when it was just pissing …

Today, the skies cleared and we have sun and blue skies.

It is the big week this week. The project that we have been working on for more than a year comes to a head on Monday. Tomorrow we hit our last hurdle, getting space in a day care for Baby Mama’s daughter. The girls are taking care of that.

Monday Baby Mama flies in with assorted luggage and the baby. We will be meeting her at the airport Monday afternoon, and bringing her to her temporary home, until her apartment is ready on the 1st of July.

We’ve spent the last year working with her, finding her a place to live and sort out baby needs between St. John’s N.F. and here in Montreal.

There is a lot to write about, so much that a second post will go up after this one.

Thursday was all about friends, cake and major milestones.

I have known our speaker man ever since I got sober. And I’ve heard him share several times over the last decade or so. We only hit one speaker meeting during the week, so repeat performances are usually slim. Anyways, He tells the story, but what I took away from his share was the wisdom that has come about his story and how that relates to the present.

Time is the one constant that we have that polishes wisdom of our lives.

One of my long time friends celebrated thirty years. I can’t believe he’s been sober that long. He hasn’t aged a day in ten years. It is fact that he got sober in his twenties, which speaks to his longevity. I’ve known him as long as I’ve been sober as well.

The LGBT community came out in force to celebrate his anniversary.

Our guys are preparing to go away for work this summer. One of our men is in South Africa with his family for the summer, departure one, two of my guys leave Wednesday, departure two and next week for the other, departure three.

Friday was spent with people coming and going, friends came over for a visit, and then I was off to meet up with a friend before the Friday evening event. (it rained)

As Friday goes, it is the best night/meeting of the week. We sat a full house and then some.

The topic, “Freedom through Acceptance.”

When we come in, who wants to admit they are powerless over alcohol, and also, everything else in our lives? And who wants to turn it all over to a Power Greater than Ourselves in the second breath? But it is true, that when we do relent and let go and turn it over, things begin to turn around. For some, it takes longer than others.

In the end, “We neither ran nor fought, but accept we did. And then we began to be free.”

I learned the first time around that, in reality, there was no where else to go. And I knew nothing, and I needed serious help. And help stepped in. I loved this man more than I had ever loved anyone else up to that point.

So I gave it up. I allowed myself to be led, to be healed and to survive.

I’ve spoken about this before in great detail. Hindsight tells me that when I needed God the most, He came, incarnate and walked with me for that period of time. I am 100% percent sure of this fact. It happened, I survived, and today I am here because of it.

I know what that kind of freedom feels like.

When I got here, I again, had nothing, I knew nobody and I needed serious help. Over time, I met folks, went to meetings, and one day at a time, turned it over to people who knew better than I did, and I survived, and today I am here because of it.

I’ve had my God conversion. I know there is a God and I am not He. I can talk about God of the bible and God of the book. But I am better at talking about God, as He presents himself through my friends lives.

My friends are sober, they have had their own experiences. I just happen to be in the same room at the same time. We are here, we survived and today we are here because of that.

When I turn it over, to my friends and fellows, and I trust in God, as I understand Him, I thrive, I prosper, and I become strong, I gain strength when I let go and let God. I don’t need all that power or strength, nor do I need my ego. The simple power exchange between that which I know and that which I do not know grants freedom and power where I need it, when I need it.

At the end another friend took a year chip. We are all very proud of him. It has been a long year for him, but we were steadfast and we did what we could for him, and he stayed sober.

It was a good end to the week. Everybody is sober.

Another post will follow.


Tuesday … If You Do This Now, it will Pay Off Down the Road

tumblr_np8sopPXWW1rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox – Montrealer Baseball BooYah !!!

The weather has turned on us, and it rained cats, dogs and little fish today.

At first, I thought I’d get around the rain, being at the right location at the right time, but I decided against such an assumption, because when I got to my transfer point, it was pouring rain.

Even though it rained, our folks, and then some, showed up. We are one episode from the end of Joe and Charlie, today we heard the Step 11 talk.

I’ve said in the past that, the Big Book is written in a really specific way.

  • Each Chapter deals with a certain topic that
  • Leads into the next chapter
  • You can, if you wanted to, read a page,
  • Or you can drill down further and read a paragraph
  • and even closer, read a sentence
  • And down to particular words on the page.

Joe and Charlie, take us through the Twelve Steps, and at times, they stop to talk about a particular chapter/page/paragraph/word. During those talks, they often parse particular passages down to word for word explanation.

I found this method of reading very helpful, because I’d never heard this approach before, and it furthered my understanding of those certain passages. We work the Steps in the order that they are presented. And the further you get in your steps, if you read the book closely, you will find earlier steps mentioned later on in the book.

Steps four through nine, repeat themselves when reading Steps ten and eleven.

We do the steps the first time through, to the best of our ability. As we progress, and we hit a second set of inventory requests, Steps ten and eleven, (in the book) we return to earlier steps to drill down closer to those things we need to look at, first, in the morning, and then again before we go to bed at night.

I’ve spoken about the three different people you find in meetings:

  • Those with No lives
  • Those with Half lives
  • And Those with Full lives

When we come into sobriety, where ever we are in our lives, I mean in the subject of lives, wives, husbands, careers, school and work, each human being brings with them whatever they are engaged in at that time.

In time, we are told that if we put anything before our sobriety, we will usually end up loosing it. But some already have lives they are living, and at some point, decide or have it decided for them, that they need help, and they come to us.

Then the challenge is to be able to learn the discipline of sobriety, and to work that into your sober journey.

  • Some can do that,
  • some may be able to do that,
  • then there are those who cannot.

I guess I was lucky, because when I got sober this last time around, I had no life. And I was taught certain guiding principles.

If you DO THIS now, it will PAY OFF down the road.

  • Your home group is sacrosanct
  • Never miss your home group, without a really good reason
  • If you can, hit as many meetings as you are able
  • Find the balance between your life activities and you sober journey
  • Find a sponsor and work your steps

I am not a “throw a Big Book” at you your first days in. I would rather you find a chair, get used to the chair, relax into the flow and become part of. You will, eventually, find your groove, and your voice.

For a while, I would go to meetings, but I wasn’t prepared to step up. Until I was taught what I really needed to do, to be able to step up. I was sober a long time, coasting, shall we say, until a man from New York, turned on the fire for me.

Early on I had begun a certain discipline of meetings, home groups and service. I had the right men show up and sponsor me as I needed them. I did exactly what I was told, without question, because, like I said, I had no life really.

I had to build it. And in time, life happened. I HAD the discipline already set up, so as life began, I worked my life around my sober journey. And I’ve done that for almost fourteen years.

I’ve been through my steps several times. And it has only been in the last three years that I have learned how to drill down my steps and parse the words that appear on the page to a finer degree and that has changed everything for me.

Prayer and Meditation are the two topics in Step Eleven.

  • How do we do that,
  • When do we do that,
  • And how does it work?

My daily life, is really tossed into the wind. (read: I make plans and God laughs at me).

I enjoy the fact that I have this ready built in system of discipline that I get to augment as the years move forwards. It is something I learned to do in the beginning, and today, I work on perfecting that methodology and practice.

I don’t have the ability to travel to far flung places, spending days, weeks or months, praying and meditating like some “old timers” get to to. (Read: I’ve read this about some sober folks who are long time sober).

I’ve heard it said that prayer and meditation is something we should do BEFORE our feet hit the floor. What ever your morning or evening ritual is, in time, we should try to work in a period of prayer and meditation into our daily lives.

Joe and Charlie talk about the morning rituals of the normal human being. From getting up and First, hitting the bathroom, Second, the coffee pot, Thirdly, Back to the bathroom, Fourth, getting dressed (making sure everything matches), then going into our days.

We spend an awful lot of time preparing the physical and material parts of our lives. How much better we could be if we add into that ritual, some prayer and meditation, however long you can stand to begin with, (and we will see over time, how you augment that effort).

I was eleven years sober, doing my thing, when Bob asked me if I could recite prayers from the book word for word. I could not. That began months pf practicing prayer every day, and every night, until I began to show. That took about eight months.

The recitation of Three, Seven and Eleven throughout the day.

I can’t tell you how it works or why it worked the way it did, but after eight months, God presented me with opportunities, that had not occurred in the past. I was ready to Step Up. For some, they came to me, because they saw something they wanted, and in other cases, I stepped up myself and things went as they have.

  • Prayer is the act of reciting or saying prayers
  • Meditation is the act of waiting for a response to those prayers

For some, we spend a awful lot of time asking for things, just for us, in the beginning, but we learn, in time, that God does not care about what we want. In the end God cares about giving us, just what we need, on a need to have basis.

I learned that this time around. Because I went at God, those first months, with my list of

  • I need this,
  • and gimme that,
  • and if it’s possible,
  • this would be good too.

Over the weeks and months God responded with

  • NO,
  • NO,
  • Ask me later,
  • Maybe Tomorrow,
  • and in the end Definitely NOT !!!

If we pray, we sort of have to wait for an answer. I’ve learned over the years that God does speak to us, sometimes daily.

The Man/Woman – God relationship is a vertical relationship. ( UP – DOWN ).

The God – Woman/Man relationship is Horizontal ( LEFT to RIGHT )

If God is going to speak to us, that answer is going to come from someone close. On our level. From someone we know. Which is partly why I go to meetings. To listen for God to talk to me.

And if I am so inclined to pay attention to my fellows, there will come a time, when God speaks directly to me (read: Us). That Does Happen, and frequently too…

God doesn’t usually drop out of the clouds to talk, he usually uses an intermediary.

Be careful what you ask from God, because if He thinks you are ready, it is going to come or it is going to happen, and usually much greater than we had expected.

When finally, in sobriety, you are ready to Step Up, working with another human being is the greatest act of humility and character building you will ever experience.

Having walked through Joe and Charlie, as my guys work their steps, respectively, I have a little bit more insight into how to work, how to read, and then how to work our steps by parsing the pages, and not skipping through paragraphs, and missing the words, in between the words.

  • I remember, daily, that life is not all about me.
  • I am not the center of the universe.
  • That I don’t have all the answers
  • I get exactly what I need, on a need to have basis, (ALWAYS)
  • and that turning it over and helping someone else or caring for another human being,
  • is my greatest act on a daily basis.

Do you know how many years it took me to learn all these lessons, understand what they meant, and how they work in my life? More than DECADE in sobriety.

If you do this NOW, it will PAY OFF down the road.

More to come, stay tuned…