Phillips Island Australia …
The weather has been on our side that past few days. Today, it was downright balmy, with a little drizzle on the way home.
We have been on a really good trend this past week. After our group conscience a couple of weeks ago, we reworked the format, we dropped old literature, and opted for solution based material instead.
Tonight was our first run through of the new Rebooted Format. Since it was the last Sunday of the month, we began our Step/Speaker format tonight.
The room was full and everybody was really receptive to the reboot. We ran a bit long, and therefore, at the business meeting afterwards, we talked about what tweaks we need to make, and how we need to concentrate on “timing” so that we get everything in. We need to re order a few items, because like I said, we went long, because I wanted to see how the flow would be.
We added a few new items to the list of “things to do” that have to happen before we send the basket around. As it read, when the basket starts we loose the momentum and the attention of the room. People take that cue as it is “time to go” therefore they are not paying attention to anything else.
So we need to renumber the order and cut the time for the room sharing, to Seven Fifteen, to give us enough time to finish the script, twelve step rep, read the promises, and give some closing remarks, THEN pass the basket.
All in All it was a good start. People are excited that we are going to new literature and solutions, instead of the problem and the disease. The reboot leans heavily on the newcomer and how we can help them and get them to STAY.
The new French meeting that we are sponsoring, begins on the 11th of February. They are a sister meeting, on the French side, following the same format, only in French, we are going to be administering their finances within Sunday Niters, so they don’t have to worry about banking and all that crap right now. We shall see how that works.
I have been asked to be the new treasurer fo both groups, as our matriarch is ending her term and becoming GSR for the Sunday Meeting and alternating for the French meeting. Both meetings are part of our area (19) but each GSR only gets one vote when necessary at the GSR level, even if we represent two groups.
Lots of good stuff to look forward too in February.
Most importantly, Spring coming as soon as it can. We haven’t had any big snows lately and there is no massive snow in the weekly outlook, as of tonight.
Let us Pray …
The fallout from my weekend of hell continues. In the end, it all comes down to this: Some seem to think that they can blame me for all of their problems, that the way I treated some from birth throughout my life, is credible. NOT !!
When I left home, I was liberated from the tyranny of my father. But I would not fully understand what that meant until I moved to Canada. So the best thing I did in my life was to One, leave home, and Two, to finally make my way here.
We all played a role in each other’s lives. And people need to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. You can’t put all the blame on one persons shoulders.
Not mine … for that matter.
Nuff said …
The weather is looking up. It was supposed to get down and dirty snowing and shit from the next few days, we had some flurries earlier today, then skies cleared.
I had coffee with a friend earlier, then did my grocery shopping, came home and did a quick turnaround, then back out for the Thursday meeting.
I had been absent from the meeting for a few weeks, due to other activities, so it was good to reconnect.
In sobriety, there are always … YET’s to be experienced.
If we take sobriety for granted, or we disconnect along the way, and we start keeping secrets and telling lies … YET’S are definitely coming …
Our speaker was a woman I know from the rooms. Most stories follow the same trajectory. We can all identify with the insanity, the suffering, and the final crash and burn.
But when sobriety turns into isolation, lies and secrets, the chances of surviving these critical factors, is very slim. Tonight, we heard another tale of secrets and lies and what happens when we enter our heads alone and decide to listen …
I know this from personal experience, what secrets do to someone who is sober. We think nobody will find out, or that nobody will notice. Or for that matter, say anything about them.
When I was first sober, I was emotionally unstable. And while I was with my friends, I devised a secret geographic, and did not tell anyone.
Cue Crash and Burn SLIP into Hell…
Lies are so much more destructive. Because when we tell one lie, others are waiting in the wings to be told as well. And then we have to add lies, to justify the first ones, and then the lies turn into what we call the “Avalanche into Insanity.”
How do you recover from the secrets we tell ourselves and to others? How do we recover from the lies we sometimes tell ourselves, then to others?
We don’t …
We go back out and begin self destructive behavior that if not stopped soon, ends up in some serious scrapes and quite possibly … death.
At some point, we find our way back. And we have to face those people we isolated from, the ones we kept secrets from and the ones we told lies to. And in How it Works, we hear the words, “Rigorous Honesty.”
And how many of us are truly ready to get honest and face the wreckage, and do something about it? Only the most bravest in the land, or those who have no where else to go but up.
Nowhere in the world can you go, and have people understand what it is like to fall into traps like secrets and lies. Because we have all done it. Nobody is immune to these pitfalls. And we have all learned from our past mistakes.
Well, at least some of us have.
The second and third times around are so much harder than the first.
I had crucial problems when I got sober the first time. I heard sober men and women ask me to leave because of homophobia and AIDSaphobia. I did not trust the people in my sober circle, because of this problem. I was physically present in meetings, but I had checked out mentally and emotionally.
BIG mistake …
I was in fact, brutally honest about myself the first time around, because I had to be, because it was a life and death proposition for me.
Sometimes honesty doesn’t pay.
The second time around I had to face my demons and return to rooms where I knew everybody in the room, at one point, after I came back. I spent months decompressing, and dealing with shame, guilt and fear.
I stuck around and listned to some good people. And I worked for a long time to fight back into sanity and serenity. Coming to Canada, was the BEST decision that I ever made in my life.
There was only one thing I wanted, to be able to survive, and thrive.
It has been a very long road into rigorous honesty. It did not come overnight. And I would say that when I hit my twelfth sober year, I had come to the point where, I wanted something more, and I learned what it would take to make that happen.
We cranked up the heat. And things changed.
Life, my life, is not easy. There is serious baggage in my past. Family situations that are 100% dysfunctional. But with the rooms, and the people in those rooms, there is nothing I cannot do. I am never alone. I am honest with my friends. I try, not to keep secrets, unless it is vitally necessary. However, my friends encourage me to do the right theng in those cases. And I listen to them.
We were warned again tonight, just how fast, the avalanche of insanity can take us down, and out the door.
- Unhealthy people in our lives
That last item is crucially important. The people in our lives will either enhance our lives or they contribute to the insanity in our lives. We heard tonight that “changing people” is crucial to successful sobriety.
The better people we have in our lives, the better our lives will be.
In sobriety, some have learned how to build bridges back into life, and to people in our lives, that might not necessarily be in the rooms, but are good for us.
I have two circles of friends. My roomies and my normies …
All of my friends, one way or another, enhance my life. I surround myself with great friends, and great people. And as long as I am honest and true to myself, in all things (that, sometimes is difficult) There is no place to go but up.
“On Fire” Sobriety can happen. Sobriety is only as good as the work and time you put into it. Some are happy with doing minimum effort, and they get what they get.
Then there are those who have cranked up the sober heat, and sobriety gets exceptional. It doesn’t get any better than this.
I am really grateful for the people in my life. There is never a dull moment in life, either good or bad. I am still learning but for the most part, life is good.
I just happen to hit a rough patch that was necessary to understand and learn just how important my sober decisions were, in making me the man I am today.
I fucking survived …
More to come, stay tuned …
The good thing is, I know what to do.
The doctor who came to see me almost at once did not assail me with any new doctrines; he made sure that I had a need and that I wanted that need filled, and little by little I learned how my need could be met…
All of my needs are met …
It is also a good thing, that I have the support system I do, the people in my life that I have, a sponsor who I am connected to, that I have friends who really care, and family that does love me. Not to mention rooms to go to.
Many of my friends are afraid that soon, I will suffer an emotional breakdown. That the emotional overload cliff is looming … As long as I have you in my life, that isn’t going to happen.
I learned a long time ago, not to dwell too long on emotions that were toxic. Like any good alcoholic, bottling up, ignoring and denying emotions was what we did when we drank and used. We just doused/drugged the pain, but that pain eventually returned and usually with a vengence.
If I stopped too long to actually think about what was going on with me and how I was feeling, I am sure, I would have imploded by the impact of such pain.
You call me surivor. You tell me that I am amazing. You remind me what I have survived and just how strong I am. You also tell me of my faith in God. And I am told that one day, I will give myself permission to feel some kind of emotional feeling.
I know what happened to me as a child, as a young adult, and now as a man. And to tell me that I am delusional is just plain wrong. To tell me that my life does not matter and that nobody cares, and that I am unforgiveable, is utterly sick.
And reprehensible… repugnant …
You don’t know how broken hearted I feel. My heart aches …
You don’t know that pain and agony I feel in my soul, having had watched all of my friends get sick and die. You have no idea what it felt like to watch families, husbands, wives, friends, churches, employers, toss their sick significant others into the streets and leave them there to die alone.
In speaking to my cousin last night, she related a story to me that I had never heard before about my parents. Shortly after I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994, my Aunt and Cousin were in Florida for an event, my parents were there as well.
My mother told them that I was sick and going to die, without my permission, not that she even thought about that really, but she took it upon herself to Out me to family before I had the opportunity to do that myself in my own way and in my own time.
My Cousin Sandy turns to my mother and says, “Jeremy is sick and is going to die, what are we going to do for him?” My mother turns to her and says …
“What do you mean, What are we going to do for him?”
What she really meant to say was that she wasn’t going to do anything for me.
And she never did.
As a child my mother never stopped my father from beating me up. She never defended me, because if she did, he would go after her. My brother never came to my side either. When I got sick and was going to die, and I went to them for support and love, they turned their backs on me like everyone else had to the hundreds of friends I lost in that war.
My mother is a failure of a woman, a mother, and as a friend. My parents were never my friend. My father had his good points, and so did she. They gave us everything we ever wanted and more, so I must give them that.
Can we all say together … This is ABJECT FAILURE !
Todd was wise, when I got sick, to give me the tools he had given me. He knew very well, where I would go, If I remained in my head for any amount of time.
So his advice to me, every day was the same:
When you come to work, whatever problems you have and whatever emotions you are feeling are to be left outside the door, no questions asked. When you cross the threshold of that door, all I want you to do is your job, and nothing more.
Can you even understand what this little piece of advice did for me?
For however long I was at the bar, inside those walls, I did not have to worry about being sick, or even dying. I’m not saying that I did not feel anything, because there were nights when I was an emotional basket case, certifiably !!
In our relationship dynamic, I turned my will and my life over to Todd, (read: God) on a daily basis.
While my friends were drugging and drinking, and killing themselves quicker, I was skating just above the water, on a cushion of love that was complete. It was the best and the worst times of my life, in equal measure.
I survived. And that is no small feat. I fucking lived.
In the end, I really do not think about the horror of what I saw, and I don’t sit here and ponder my own mortality. Because if I do that, I will get lost in my head, and in recovery we learn that to be inside our heads for any period of time alone, is not suggested.
I’m alive and that is all that matters.
- How I got here, was one day at a time.
- It began with one day, tacked on to one day,
- tacked on to a week,
- then another, until I could tack together a month.
- Then it was a string of months.
Finally, I reached the day I was supposed to die, and I was still alive.
The rest they say is history.
What do I feel right now? I feel Red Hot Poker Anger. If it were my decision and I had the opportunity, I would fucking loose my marbles on my parents.
The one thing is, and I have to remember this, is, that I will never get my day in court. I will never get to say all those things I want to say to certain people. I would give my ass to be able to one day have the ability to say …
You have no idea the life I lived, and the things I witnessed, and the pain and grief I went through burying all of my friends. You have no idea how hurt I am that you fucked off on me and you turned your back on me when I needed love, compassion and care. You have no idea what true abandonment did to me. What it did to my friends, and how they went to their deaths alone.
My mother then reminded me yesterday that getting sick was my fault and that I did this to myself and that I am getting God’s revenge for being gay. She mentioned twice, that according to her, my actions are unforgiveable. She kept repeating to me, “your actions…”
What kind of God, puts humans like this in our lives, only to say to us that we must pray for them, and forgive them, and to love them anyways? Why? Because God, Jesus, asks us to forgive seventy times seven. He tells us to turn the other cheek.
Pope Francis tells us that God always forgives. He never tires of forgiving, it is us that err, in failing to ask to be forgiven.
Rafa, tells me that one day there will be a reckoning. That one day they will reap what they sowed. Forgiveness is not earned just because.
Penitence is required to recieve forgiveness.
My parents and my brother, are resolute in the ways they think. It was all on me, it is all my fault, and they owe no debt nor compassion towards me.
I got what I deserved.
Yes. I know what I did. I can still see it to this very day. What happened happened. What we did not know, we did not know. And before I got tossed into the deep end of the pool, AIDS was not a topic of conversation, not that I remember.
I am not blaming anyone else, nor am I asking for pity. I am only human.
I did not have time to be angry, or point fingers, I was terribly sick, and Todd did everything he could do to keep me alive. And it worked.
All of my decisions, all of my actions, were made, because that’s where I was at that specific time on the continuum. All things considered, for a long time, I lived to drink, and I drank to live, because I was taught, TAUGHT that alcohol was my way in. Nobody else offered me any other thoughts.
It was good that I had Todd for the time I had him. Because now, I am sober a long time. I grew up a great deal. I feel every day. Every day I look in the mirror and I thank God for Todd. I can’t begin to tell you what my heart feels when I think about this at length. I just want to sob and be in his arms again.
He gave me love. He made me feel important and he made me feel like I could do anything with the training I was given. And I have that today.
I don’t have time to be angry.
I don’t have time to pine about shit I don’t need to think about, (at any great length).
Revenge ? One day ! God will avenge me. I hope that I see that day come.
My mother has to live with herself. She has to live with what she said to me, not that that is going to matter to her, because she is the delusional one, not me. AND she hung up on me a second time.
I wonder how she lives with herself.
That is one fucked up self imposed prison she has there. That is a place, I would not wish on anyone. Nor a place I would ever visit.
Resentments and anger are wasted energy. People who feed on that and live in that space are pitiable.
Yes, I am angry and heartbroken.
I was reminded last night at a meeting about humility.
It is not beneath me to say I need help, nor is it beneath me to ask for help, and to say, that in certain moments I am weak, and to admit that I need my friends sometimes more than they need me. But they don’t know that.
Rafa does …
I get what I gave. God returns to me the love I have given in spades.
How do I conquer my anger? By loving my friends and my family.
I’ve learned that negative energy and negative feelings are extremely powerful agents. And that if you retain negativity, and you internalize it, it will destroy and kill you.
I’ve learned how to turn that energy into useful positive energy, and that is how I remain alive to this day. Every ounce of power I can put behind the pills I take, equals supercharged positivity.
There is no time to be sad, mad or angry. Why, What good is it ?
I spend my days doing good for those people I love. That is a much better place to live than waiting for revenge.
Vengence is mine sayeth the Lord …
Can you ever not feel heartbreak?
It is never a dull moment in my life. The past twenty four hours, has been a whirlwind of discussions, feelings and heart breaking truths.
You all know the story. I have been writing it for ages now. When I moved to Canada my mother’s last words to me were “If your father or I get sick and die, nobody will call you.”
Then she hung up on me… That was fourteen years ago.
I had not spoken to either of my biologicals since.
I got sober, and grew up, and now I am here today. However, there is unfinished buisiness, when it comes to step work and clearing the wreckage of my past. There has always been an uncertainty that has existed.
Unfinished business so to speak.
With the passing of my cousin Carol yesterday, I made an adult decision to call my mother this afternoon, and speak to her. That was a really bad decision.
She did not know who I was.
Nor was she interested in anything I had to say to her, and she said that nothing that I had to say mattered, and that none of them, wanted anything to do with me any more.
She went on to say that from the day that I was born, until the day I walked out of that house, what I did to her, as a child, was ten lifetimes worth of pain that is unforgivable. So she blames me, (read:my childhood) for all of her problems.
I asked her about that childhood, and said that my alcoholic, vicious, abusive father who wanted me dead at any cost, that was all bullshit ??? I asked her if my life experience was real, she said no. She said that I was just delusional. That all the abuse and negative shit was all in my head and never happened.
My brother, as I was told, wants nothing to do with me either, once again, because of our childhoods and what I did to him.
I was the first born child, I had three years on him. Three years of love and affection from family that desired that I survive. My father always said, for the whole of my life that I was a mistake and should never have been born.
When my brother came along, he was the son my father wanted.
He bred that child to be my opposite. To always fight me and to never agree with or support me whatsoever. I own the adult decisions I made in his regard. And I said to my mother that I wanted to speak to him to explain the specifics, but once again, she said he didn’t care and did not want to know.
So fuck me.
She also offered a few choice family secrets, truths she probably thought, would taint my visual and feelings towards my aunt. A very long time ago, a secret was floated in front of me. A secret that I had no information on, and did not who to ask it about, or figure out.
And like all secrets, eventually they come out into the open.
Now I know the secret. Does it change anything? No.
My mother lives in a world that is delusional. That what I think, and what I experienced was not real and never happened.
She attempted to paint her sister into a corner accusing her of family heresy and accused her of theft and betrayal. All lies.
When I pressed her to extend the conversation, she abruptly said that she did not care about me and that she had to go.
Then she hung up on me …
Cue dialtone …
I called my sponsor right away. I was in shock. I was heartbroken. I thought at least she would come to the table and want to know, but she didn’t. She doesn’t care, neither do my father nor my brother.
This evening, I spoke to my aunt. And while I was sitting in the meeting this evening, my cousin called from B.C.
I got up and left the meeting and ended up talking to her for more than an hour.
Tonight, I know many things about truth and family. Tonight I know that we, as a family, have a special gift, of second sight. And I learned a great deal about one of my uncles, who lives here in Quebec. Something I never knew, but it makes perfect sense, why we, the children of our generation, are so gifted.
In the end, my life does not matter to those who it should matter. I can go to bed tonight, and sleep with a clear conscience. There are some people who just aren’t supposed to be in our lives for specific reasons. I know tonight, that those three human beings will have to answer to God in the end and not me.
This is entirely Not about Me.
My cousin tonight confirmed a great deal of truth for me. And for that I am grateful.
Does it pay to be idealistic and have a belief that inside every human being is a shard of redeemability? No.
I was not offered forgiveness nor redemption.
I was offered revulsion and scorn and bitter vindictive spite.
I am told by a friend that I need to pray for them, and I agree. They need my prayers more than I need my own prayers, because between God and myself I am good.
But for them, there is not much hope for redemption and forgiveness.
But I am not God.
And God always forgives, He never tires of forgiving. So says Pope Francis.
I don’t understand how human beings can be so vindictive and hateful.
It seems, you can never go home again. At least for me.
When I spoke to my cousin about Home, she corrected me firmly with the fact that I am HOME. Montreal is Home. And that is where I need to be.
They don’t care, That is not home. And I don’t need them in my life any longer.
Of that I am God damned fucking sure…
This is my cousin Carol.
There is a force in the cosmos. Something much greater than myself. For some reason, the force is strong in my family. And for the whole of my life, I have had visitations of family who have passed over, once they are gone. This is the case, in every single loved one I have lost in my life.
- When my uncle Paul died, he returned to my uncle and their family.
- When my Grandfather Alexander died, he came back to my family.
- When my Grandmother Jennie died, she came back to me and she stayed with me for a very long time. This was proven by a medium twice.
- When my Grandmother Camille died, she came back and I channeled her for weeks on end.
- When my Aunt Georgette died, she returned to me, HERE in this apartment.
I am fully aware of Omens, when they speak. I can see the signs, and I know what they mean. I am fully aware the subtle shift in the energy around me when the Omens show up and when I get a solid message from them.
The other night, I was standing on my balcony outside, and a shift occurred. It was real, I felt it happen, and I felt it inside of me, a great feeling of sadness, and loss. It was an acute feeling, and it stayed with me.
Over the last month, an Omen appeared on my balcony, a very familiar Omen that has come in the past. I heard the message. And I’ve been paying attention to it ever since.
Three days ago, my cousin Carol, who has been sick with Cancer, had a stroke. At one time, we were told she was terminal and was going to die. The family that mattered connected. We took action to do what we needed to do for her.
The day the stroke happened, eerily coincided with what I was feeling here. I felt it shift. She is in Connecticut. I am in Montreal. I soon learned from my other cousin who lives in British Columbia Canada, got the same feeling herself, that something was off and that something was just not right.
Carol, ended up in the hospital, unconscious last night. The doctors said that there was nothing that they could do for her and that it was just a matter of time. This morning around 5:30 a.m. Carol passed.
It has been a lifetime, that I haven’t seen Carol. Probably since the night when my Uncle Leo got married, or better yet, when my Grandfather Emory died. Those were the last two times, all of the family were in the same place.
Carol was part of my life when I was a child. My brother, myself, and the cousins, before we moved south to Florida. She visited with us several times, throughout my childhood. But at one point, my father had alienated family out of our lives, because he had no family and could not stand the family he inherited, basically, because they all wanted me to live and succeed, and he was hell bent on my destruction. And He didn’t want their influence on my mother, who he was grooming to be an American wife that he wanted. That she was Canadian, was not an asset but a liability.
So, another death, another family member gone.
I knew it was coming, I felt it happen. Now she is gone.
The sinking feeling that I have right now is this …
The Omens come to me and to others. We feel the subtle shifts in familial energy. One day, those omens are going to speak again, but this time, the news they relay, will hit far closer than I may like, and I am not sure, how I am going to deal with that.
I know what the right thing to do is, and time is of the essence. I am just powerless to be able to speak, as I think I should, to those whom I do not matter.
Utter Sadness …
Eternal Rest Grant her and may Perpetual Light shine upon her.
Goodbye cousin …
Another Sunday, some more stories. Today I took it kind of slow, after yesterday`s running all over town, and didn’t get home until after ten at night.
I had shopping to do on the way, So I departed early. I was the only one at the church, but I did not look at my watch (read:phone) on the way. I cranked out set up and was finished by the stroke of five.
Today’s read, was particular in many ways. Coming from Section Three in Experience, Strength and Hope. I noticed that this story, spoke very heavily about God, and quoted scripture, and our man, in the end, began to cultivate his own relationship with his higher power, whom he called God.
The mention of God so up front, and so insistently sets this story apart from the others we have read. As the relationship with God (as we understand Him) is so important in our spiritual and sober maintanance.
Reading this story I identified with several parts of the story:
- The Bottle Hiding
- Drinking in Germany
- Spending time in religious community
- Finding creative solutions to drink better
- The realization that God does exist
When I was a young boy, as I have said in the past, the men in our family were all alcoholic. But my father’s father was the ultimate drinker. He was the ultimate in bottle hiding. Imagine, a bottle in the kitchen under the sink, bottles under the sinks in both bathrooms, Everywhere he could possibly sit down, anywhere, inside or outside the house, a bottle was within an arms reach from that seat.
Next door, in a small strip mall, was the local liquor store AND a tavern called LaRosa’s (that tavern still exists in that same spot to this very day), I have Google Earth’ed the old address, the house has been gone for over a decade, and a shack sits in its place.
The tavern appropriated much of the front yard of the old homestead, to build a much bigger parking lot. They must be packing them in at night.
Our man, from tonight’s story is from Germany, originally. Alsace to be exact.
I have a particular drinking story when I was in my late teens, I took a trip to Europe with my then boss. Little did he know, he’d be a captive tourguide. One stop was Munich, during Octoberfest.
One day we took a tour of Ladies Island. An attraction which boasted a replica copy, castle, called Versailles, as in the Palace of Versailles in Paris. It was handsome and all decked out.
It wasn’t the tour that I remember, but what took place after.
We had coupled up with some travelers on the tour. A young guy and his mother. I would later find out that, my boss had slept with that particular young man, after that trip, much to my consternation. (I was not yet out of the closet).
Anyways, we walked into a tavern. I being a young, white, American, the Germans were going to have a bit of fun, at my expense. I was only willing because it involved alcohol. I found out later, that the Germans were betting to see just how much dark beer I could drink. I had, in the end, upended many steins of beer.
Let’s just say that I was plastered.
We had to get on a bus to take us back to the city. I took a seat on the back wall. And some of you might know how warm it is in the back of the bus, against the back wall, engine and all.
I don’t know what happened next. And I have no memory of it either. What I do remember is waking up in my hotel room, in bed, so sick, I thought I was going to die.
I was told that the bus had to be taken out of service, because apparently, I was sick all over the bus.
Not my proudest moment …
Time spent in a religious community
The Chapel and grounds of St. John Vianney College Seminary, Miami.
Prior to my Really Good Job, I spoke about in an earlier post, the job that afforded me the above mentioned trip to Europe, I had spent the year prior in a Catholic Seminary in Miami.
I was not drinking, because I was only 19 years old, so going out to a bar was non existent. Many of my classmates, I would later learn, were GAY, and they used to hit the local Gay Bar “Uncle Charlie’s,” in Miami, after I had come out of the closet, later on.
I could not reconcile Gay / Seminarians, and a calling to serve God in the same breath. I was naive and somewhat very idealistic, in my own thought about serving God. I had not an inclination that I was gay at that period of my life yet.
But Church and Homosexuality WAS a thing when I attended seminary. IN fact, it was thrown in my face every day that I was there.
Drinking … The seminary had several buildings. The library/office, the rectory with chapel, the students residence/classrooms. And the Chapel, on the grounds.
A certain rector, who shall remain nameless, I loved and adored him. He was a great man, who had a great problem. He was an alcoholic. Many a nights would pass, and we would be up in the residences, after hours, and He would come up to our rooms, totally plastered. And a number of times, I found myself, along with a few others, who would take him back to the rectory and put him to bed.
That kept happening. That at some point, the diocese decided to remove him from the Seminary and they put him someplace to get “better.” That did not go over very well with me. I could not see why they had to send him away. I lobbied very vocally, my disapproval of the way the diocese handled the issue.
The man they sent to us in return, was a pompous, arrogant, thought he was Pope, was holier than thou, asshole. I could not stand him. It was he, in the end, I think, who had veto or acceptance powers of who stayed and who went.
At the end of the year, it was I who was asked to go.
Many years later, sitting here, in the very spot I am sitting right now, read that a handful of priests and seminarians from my old seminary days were in jail for various reasons. One of those men, was the man I cared a great deal for.
**** **** ****
We read these stories and we get to see how our folks thought about what they drank, how they drank, and how they invariably, went to great measures to try and figure out, how to drink MORE, without the associated after affects.
As a young gay boy, I went to the bar when I was old enough to do so. It was the place I enjoyed much of my twenties. Alcohol was present at ALL the jobs I had. It was part and parcel of working in the travel industry.
Alcohol was served at work, often. Then after work I would hit happy hour and drink until happy hour ended.
I would drive home …
Change my clothes, and drive back to the bar for the nightly drink specials, and dance parties.
And drive home again…
There came a time when I could not drink every day. It was just impossible. By the time I quit drinking the first time, (in Fort Lauderdale) you could very easily drink 23 hours a day … for real !!! I did that on occasion.
I would then resort to the binge drink, do the drag show and dance till 5 a.m. run, every night after work. I was working for Todd by now.
He got me sober. And saved my life.
It was on my slip, that last few months that the binge became ritual. That one night of week blow out, that ended in total destruction.
Even that did not last for very long, until I hit my bottom.
The rest they say is history.
There is a God, And I am NOT God.
I love God.
I love my friends.
I would only change portions of my story if I could go back and relive them. I would want to know how certain sections of my story would have turned out had I stayed in certain places, schools, jobs, careers. Or what woud have happened had I followed Todd to California, when he did leave.
That is probably one of my few regrets.
I should have gone, But I believed with all my heart that my fate was to reclaim family after my father’s hopeful crash, burn and death.
SADLY, my father is still alive … BOOOO …
He wants nothing to do with me to this day. His loss…
Thank God I never have to drink again.
The week has come to an end. And the week was insightful, enlightening, and also, very hard on some. Life on Life’s terms sometimes requires, hard truths.
The week also brought gifts, in the form of books, that arrived in the mail today. Indigo is very good at sending “get this book now” notes via email. And that is exactly what I did.
First, is Pope Francis’s first book of sermons and memories, called “The Name of God is Mercy.” Then to add to my Donna Tartt collection, I got her first novel called “The Secret History.” If this second book, is as GOOD as The Goldfinch, as in brilliantly written, and a must read, then my heart will sing again.
It was a full week of work and discussions. Much of those discussions revolved around God, and Pope Francis. Tonight, we read a page from A.B.S.I. and the topic was humility.
In the opening chapter of the Pope Francis text, We get a reading from the Gospel of Luke 18:9-14.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
It was something that I began reading this book, at the coffee shop, prior to the meeting tonight, because it related to the topic on the table.
God, has always been a presence in my life, even when I ignored Him. After graduating High School, I did a stint at Junior College, because I had a free ride because I earned a scholarship. It was a start, but not where I wanted to end up.
Along the way, I was active in Church. And by the time I ended that first year, I was on my way into the next chapter of my life, that of a seminarian, studying to be a priest. This was the period of time where I intentionally set out seeking God.
It only lasted a year. At the end of that year, my desire to seek God, did not match up with those who judged, my seeking God, saying that I wasn’t what they were looking for.
I was a good Catholic boy, the pride of the family, having entered the Holy Life, so it seemed. But that was not to be. I had not decided what side of the fence I would end up on. I saw too much, and knew too much, and that may have been the deciding factor, in my exclusion from a fraternity of liars, and deviants.
When I left seminary, I left God as well. I was angry, and who wouldn’t be, after having the experience I had, and being told, “You’re not good enough.”
I got a really good job, a REALLY GOOD job, that should have been the beginning of success, as young as I was. Sadly, my alcoholism took precedence. And that stunted my growth, for years to come.
Life went on. I stopped talking to God, and I stopped seeking God.
That road took me to utter terror and despair. Hindsight speaks to the reality that God was always there, for me in particular, for some reason. That blood line began when I was just a child.
The grandmas, I look now, with the eyes that I see with, and feel that they had organized my life agenda, knowing in the way they knew it then, that I was destined to walk a different path.
My life took a certain trajectory, with God intertwined. I had been introduced to God and Jesus, on a retreat, where in the end, we turned our will and our lives over to Jesus, and pledged to live good, honest, Christian lives.
Do you know how hard that was to do, in the 1980’s where carrying around a bible was tantamount to heresy on teen age culture.
Life took its time. Alcoholism was raging. And in my mid twenties, I began to hit tragedy after tragedy. In the beginning I turned to the bottle to blot out the pain. It was then, for the first time that Todd stepped in and said No.
I didn’t listen. Meanwhile, He kept me on at the bar, as an employee.
When the second tragedy came, I again, turned to the bottle, this time, to not only blot the pain, but to kill myself, because what was coming was far greater than what I was prepared to suffer.
This time I called Todd.
The night I told him that I was going to die, was the most important night of my life. But that was not to last, because there were plenty of night’s after that that were the best/worst/and most important nights of my life.
When everyone else scattered like rats off a sinking ship, Todd stood tall and He took my life into his hands, and He decided that I would be the one. He would save me, if it was the last thing he did in his life.
Once again, Hindsight gives me particular insight into the mind of God.
God was there, I was just not connected. Every time I disconnected, life went down the tubes. Now, life was in the gutter, and there was no other place to go but Up.
I turned my will and my life over to Todd (read: God) as I understood him.
And I can safely say that God came out of heaven and incarnated. There is no other rationalization I can make to explain, just what that means to me and my survival.
It was Divine. I know it, I lived It, and I have the tale to tell of it.
I was given a plan for life, as I was getting sober, and being taught by Todd (read: God) about how I was going to live and how I was going to survive. I had someone physically, in my life, calling the shots, because I sure as shit did not have the ability to call them on my own.
When Todd moved away, God was still there, but I did not see Him, and had no idea what to do, left to my own devices, alone in a world that I did not see a way into.
I did not know what to do.
Sobriety turned into Sodriety, which landed me in a well planned and orchestrated SLIP. Sobriety Lost Its Priority.
When I was on my way back, And I got to the bitter end, I was hopeless.
Once again, I am reminded that it was I who sought God out again.
The Good news was, He wasn’t lost, I was.
I said prayers, in a specific order, and I asked for specific things to happen in a certain order. I began to turn my hopelessness into faith, then I waited.
I speak about the Universe, as alive, sentient, and aware of us.
Well It knew, It listened, and God rearranged the heavens, and the answers I sought, came to pass, in the order I needed.
Troy showed up. You could call him an angel. Over a months time, I came to believe that this was an answer. I admitted my truth, and I humbled myself, and I asked him for help.
I had already crossed Steps One, Two and Three off my list of things to do.
The rest they say, is history.
Now, today, I sit with my spiritual children, and I do what I am called to do, to work hard, to be honest and humble and to help those people in my life, to the best of my ability, no matter what.
I once, went to God, seeking admission into His Church, to minister to His people as a servant of God.
In the past fourteen years, I went to church. I also attended University and earned degrees in Religion and Theology. Meanwhile I was getting sober. I did not find God in the book, nor in classes. In fact, I didn’t find Him in Church either.
Where I DID find God, was in the basement of those churches. The first time I saw Him move, I was awestruck. So I stayed and waited to see Him again.
I’ve turned my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him.
And I do that on a daily basis.
And I get a daily humility check, every time I stand in front of my medicine cabinet.
Then, when I wake in the morning, and I am still breathing and alive, I get a moment of gratitude.
Francis calls us to be humble and loving, servants of a God who wants us to seek Him in all things, in all people, at all times. And finally …
To be reminded that in all humility, we are all sinners, and that we should never be afraid of asking God for forgiveness, because God NEVER tires of Forgiving.
Because God loves us, and because we are all children of God.
I just got home from sitting with one of my spiritual children, and several ideas came to mind as we spoke together.
- In Life, there is no dress rehearsal
- Do Over’s are not always a given
- Your Life Path is YOURS to choose
- We are NOT our parents
- We are living in Canada in 2016, not anywhere else in 1960
- Go into the world and do good, to the best of your ability
- There are some, in our lives, who are our spiritual children, in the best way possible
- What we have to give, on any given day, is what we have to give
- There are some people who are “Spiritual Sandpaper”
Oprah says that “Doing what you love to do is important. Because what ever you put out to the universe, will eventually come back. Some people, put stuff out there, and make money from it, which is good as well. But if you put something out there, and you’re not making money from it, that’s even better.”
I consider myself a teacher of sorts. I don’t do videos, and I don’t have a page on Facebook where I espouse my ideas for public consumption. All I have is my experience and this blog. I haven’t made a penny on my universal investment, but I can tell you that what the universe has given me, is more than I ever thought could be mine.
You know, not many people visit death, as intimately as I have and watched his friends die, and lived to tell the tale. I got a DO OVER. Now, in sobriety, we get a DO OVER as well.
I’ve had several chances at a Do Over.
How many people get the opportunity (read: Do Over) to grow up and do it well, and take that offer and run with it? Not many …
So the question came up … When do you know you are sure? When does the security come, when you know what you are doing is sure? Confidence?
You know, I know many things. I’ve studied, I’ve been tested on that knowledge, I’ve read a ton of books, I’ve sat in over 5,000 hours of meetings, had thousands of conversations, met thousands of people to this day, and lived almost forty nine years on this earth, and today I know a few things about God, and the universe.
When doctors told me I was going to die, I set out and I read every book that was on the shelf that spoke about AIDS, life, death, the afterlife, and anything else that had to do with the stage of End Of Life.
I even went so far as to consult not one, but two mediums, to contact family on the other side, so that I would know they were waiting for me and that there actually was someplace I would go when I shuffled off this mortal coil.
I am constantly studying, reading, listening, participating in my life and in the lives of my friends.
I read books written by people, who talk to people, who talk to God.
I also read books, written by people, who they themselves, talk to God.
Pope Francis is one of those men.
Over the last 25 or maybe 30 years, I know for sure, that God exists, that He showed Himself to me and He continues to reveal Himself to me to this very day. And this I know for sure, that the day Memere took me to that church as a small boy, and presented me to God, that she struck a deal with God for my safety and my life.
That is a long story, going into my book, that is still being written.
Of that I am sure, 100%
Pope Francis calls us out of our homes to go out to the fringes to seek out those who we would help, in any way possible, because that is what we must do.
My friend has colleagues at work, who are younger than him, who hold positions above him in business. He is older than them in age, but beneath them on the office totem pole. Yet each of those young people are “spiritual children” for him, because in our discussion tonight, I asked him, if he saw his colleagues as spiritual children, and he looked askance, and replied, that he had never thought about them in that way before. Because, every day he goes out and he does good, because that builds faith and character. Now he knows more about that job.
Every day we go into the world, I.E. work, recreation or at home, and we are with people. Our colleagues, our friends, our fellows, our peers, and our wives and children.
Then there are those who we call “Spiritual Sandpaper.”
Each person we come in contact with, IS an OPPORTUNITY to teach, whether by word or action. And we all know that actions speak louder than words. But, what if we are not sure of ourselves, our words or our actions?
Each one of us is a spiritual child of someone in our lives. Each one of us have someone in our lives that we go to for help, to talk to, to get advice from. And for some of us, we have spiritual children ourselves.
If there are young people in your life, is what you do or what you say, something you would do or say, for your own children, if you have them, or for those children, you might one day have? Every opportunity to teach a young person, about life, is great experience, that you will one day teach your own children.
There are are those spiritual sandpaper cases, those people who we don’t know so well, those we don’t know at all, but are in our lives for some reason, or those people who rub us like sandpaper on a baby’s ass… Those people exist.
These are the situation where we really get to practice spiritual truth and in the end spiritual growth. One of my lady friend sponsors, talks about this idea with her women, and I listen to her as well.
Life is not a dress rehearsal, this is the real deal. There are no do overs. You only get so many chances at getting it right. I am only as sure, as all the banked experience I have to speak of and the contents of the hundreds upon hundreds of books I have read to this date.
I am sure of many things. Fourteen years of sober experience was not wasted on me, I know I live on borrowed time. The end will come, when it is going to come, but until that happens, I live free and I do what is best, as it comes to me, on any given day.
I may not have all the answers, or the ones you need, but as I spoke tonight, sharing perspective and stories that relate, and drawing on my entire life experience, of living, almost dying, loosing, gaining, loosing and gaining, I know certain things for sure.
I would bank my life on that confidence.
Because it is tested and proven.
God exists. Of that I am sure.
The universe always knows, even if we don’t. Of that I am sure.
We are made of star stuff, therefore, a little piece of us, is always in contact with all that is, in the universe. Of that I am sure.
Go Hard or Go Home !
This is your opportunity to teach, live, love and learn.
And right now, is the most opportune moment to live.
OF THAT I AM SURE.
It has been snowing for hours now, all day, in fact.
Over the weekend, a storm blew through, the winds were damaging, to life, and property. I was standing on the balcony, and from the looks of it, were were traveling at warp speed, because the Westerlies were blowing the clouds, clipping West to East, The windows were buckling and temps fell steeply overnight into Monday.
Power was knocked out across the Island, and also across the entire province of Quebec. Baby Mama and her entire neighborhood were knocked out for more than twenty hours, into this morning. By dinner time, when I got there today, Hydro Quebec had set a power generator on the corner, just outside the apartment building, providing power to the grid.
When I got to the church tonight, the furnace was out. And it was quite chilly in our room. We had called the super lady, and there really wasn’t anything she could do at the dinner hour. So we all sat, bundled up in coats and hats.
The discussion of who we identify as, in meetings, is still going on. First it hit the A.A. rooms, and that drama lasted months. But finally came to resolution. Last night, I was at my other fellowship, where most of my sponsees attend, so I attend as well, because there are drugs in my story, the question was raised by a woman who rotates in her own universe, and is stuck in the Me, Me, Me’s and the I, I, I’s, who said she is pissed off because we are a Marijuana Anonymous meeting, and that everybody in the room should identify as such, (read: Marijuana Addicts). Several of our folks, identify as “Potheads” and still others, rattle off an entire list of names they fall under.
We don’t require you to say anything specific. The First and Third traditions, guarantee group unity, and the membership requirement is the same across the entire fellowship system of … The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using or (read: Drinking).
I guess there are some people who did not get the memo.
I did not sit quietly. I said what needed to be said, because I am the elder statesman in that room, and the only, longest clean and sober member, and a voice of reason and experience. That did not go over very well, because people do not take criticism very easily, but truth is truth, at the end of the day.
So that is a thing …
Tonight, we finished our read of Living Sober. A very good book that every newcomer should read, upon first entering the program, because it offers a way out of misery and answers a bevy of questions and concerns one might have about, “What the fuck do I do now, and how the fuck do I live, in soberland, and not drink again?”
Well, there are many suggestions.
We got the the last two chapters. Using the Steps, and finally, Finding One’s Way. it is funny that “Finding your way” is the last chapter and not the first. I gather that we are supposed to read the book, and take in, very sage and wise advice, then, with those tools in the box, we then get to “find our way.”
It is also interesting, reading this text again, just how reliant I am on it’s suggestions and tools, even to this day. And I also see how many of those “suggestions” in that book, I actually use in every day life!
When I came in, AGAIN, I did exactly what I was told to do.
- I got involved
- I joined several Home Groups, which I am still a member 14 years later.
- I built my LIFE around my MEETINGS, I still live on that plan to this day
- Everything I have came from the rooms
- I’ve never had to go outside the circle for anything, ever…
Over the years, I’ve had people come here and rail on the program and rip it and me to shreds on their respective sites. But we heard tonight from the people around the table, “where can you go, for a hour or several hours a day, and sit with like minded people, who have been there and done that, and that you can identify with and listen to, and learn from, and live a wonderful life, all for $1.00 an hour?”
Where can you find Honest, Sober Life enhancing, life coaching, that WORKS for just a dollar an hour? A DOLLAR or a Toonie … ???
Fuck, what would the world look like if everyone took the time to invest in the work we do together, it would absolutely change the face of the earth, in ways you would never imagine.
The dollar or the toonie is absolutely voluntary. We are self supporting through our own contributions.
That is why we do this. So that we don’t end up as fucked up and the world is in real time these days. Our work changes lives.
If it weren’t for the program and the people in it, I would not be the man I am today.
Hands Down … God’s Honest Truth …
It has been downright balmy this weekend. Temps went up into positive territory, and rain followed. Lots of rain …
I should have told this story earlier, but it slipped my mind. I have told you that our Provigo Grocery store on the corner was shutting down, and it has been “ONE VERY LONG GOODBYE!”
On Thursday night, on the way home from St. Matthias, I stopped by the store to say goodbye to my friends. I did not expect what happened in the store. Obviously there was nothing to buy at all, so I stepped up to my friends and began to say that I had come to say goodbye … Then the waterworks started, and we were all crying and sobbing on each others shoulders.
I didn’t know that that goodbye was going to be so difficult. There was light on Friday night, and on Saturday, there was brown paper covering all the windows around the building. Elvis has left the building. More than 45 people are out of a job.
This is a great loss for our neighborhood. But we will adapt, we have no other choice.
**** **** ****
They called for rain last night, and I carried my big umbrella out with me. I stopped at Micky D’s and the Tabamag on my way to the Metro. At the Tabamag, I hung my umbrella from the facing assorted candy boxes, so I could get at my wallet.
I made my purchase, turned around, and walked out of the shop and into the Metro. I got all the way across my transit of two lines going uptown on Orange. I sat down in the car, and thought,
“I left my umbrella at the Tabamag, FUCK !!!”
Thankfully it only drizzled.
I had a baby sitting appointment with the baby this afternoon, and on the way I picked up the umbrella and carried it to the house with me. I did my stint, as my backup arrived, freeing me to leave a bit early to make it back for the evening meeting tonight.
I walked all the way back up the hill to Villa Maria, and once again, realized as I stepped onto the train, that I had left my umbrella somewhere else again !
The text read … “Do you have your umbrella?” No …
The wisdom of the ages dictates that, “if you do a good deed, don’t talk about it, because the charm is lost.”
On the odd occasion, well, really, quite often, I find myself in places with people I love, the people I do whatever I can for, at any moment, for any reason.
I try to always live in the moment. Spontaneity is something most people never get, or they avoid it at all costs.
My friends, the people I love, for what its worth, mean the world to me, because we see each other as human beings. We are also, spiritual beings, having a human existence. And every once in a while, life happens, where love and service collide.
And the SMILE at the other end is PRICELESS !
Life is moving at breakneck speed. And once again, I am called to be present, as I am able. So I am taking care to make sure I don’t over do it again.
We talked last night, about being good to ourselves. Learning from past lessons, has paid off. Now I get to practice those lessons, on future plans.
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see with God’s eyes. All one has to do is look with love, at humanity. Then do, DO RIGHT AWAY, what is in front of you, not because you have to, but because you want to, or that you should, because when that moment opens, if you pass it up, you will loose more.
I have a friend, who has a certain world view. She sees herself as less than, a reject and a fuck up. She listens to people make promises they don’t keep, she watches people engage, but when the game gets tough, they walk away.
The other day, I sat with her and I told her that she was loved, and that I would do everything in my power, to help her, as God would want it. Because I believe that everyone in my life, IS a child of God and worthy of respect, love and care.
Basic Humanity 101 …
Sadly, too many people, did not get that memo.
I am truly blessed to have the people I have in my life, who teach me every day, how to be A better man, A better Servant, A better Christian, and a better elder statesman.
Sobriety, this time around, has taught me many lessons.
- I had the choice of what I was going to do
- I don’t need approval from those who do not matter
- I’ve worked damn hard at growing up
- I trust my advisers, implicitly
- And I have the best friends in all the world.
My heart is full.
The weather has been all over the place this week. We hit an all time low the other night, with a dip to minus – 24c overnight, it was quite frigid. Last night it was downright balmy, in relation to that big dip into the minus category. Tonight, it was a bit colder than it was last night.
It has been a full week of activity. Meetings are beginning to populate after the holidays, across the city. Wednesday night I went to visit the baby, and I have to say, she is adorable. She has long brown hair that we have yet to get cut, so we have resorted to pony tail and the other night, she had pig tails. She’s very aware, and she is beginning to show distinct personality. She is also beginning to find words. She has a few expressions like “I know … Uh Oh! … No, No, No … and Mama …
**** **** ****
Today was a full day of things to do. A friend and I went to see Star Wars, The Force Awakens, this afternoon, in Imax. I don’t get it, that the theatre we went to was not fuller than it was. There were only ten people in that entire theatre for the afternoon showing.
Having seen the first Star Wars movies when they were originally released in the 1970’s and having grown up with all of the films over 48 years of life, I had expectations.
In the end, we learned that there is a lineage. Generations of Jedi, and generations of characters that are new. And the original grouping came back for the story.
The First Order is now the Dark Side. And then there is the Resistance. The battles were epic. The cinematography was absolutely amazing. I wondered out loud, where they found the locations to film such amazing and majestic locations.
There are three new backstories that need to be fleshed out. And the original thread was re-introduced, with the addition of successive generations of family, that also need to be fleshed out.
The film ends with a finding of a certain Jedi by the new young heroine. Which totally leaves the next film to explore.
It is well worth the time and money to see this film. And I haven’t spoiled anything for you …
**** **** ****
I had very little time for transition from film to my weekly Thursday meeting. I dropped off my shopping, and turned around and set off by myself for the meeting.
A very good friend spoke. The last time I heard her share, the take away was, “That she was waiting for her husband to leave!”
She was drinking heavily when she got married, and she took a hostage, who, in time, said to her that “he did not like the woman she became when she drank!”
She eventually found her way to us. And on her first meeting she witnessed two events. A Three year anniversary, which she just could not wrap her head around, how she would stay sober for three years, on her first night. The second, was a Thirty Day chip.
Now that was more manageable. 30 days …
She saw, in the eyes of that particular woman, HOPE.
And that kept her coming back for more. A good thing too.
Because she has grown into a fine woman, who is still married to the man she was waiting for, to leave. He stuck around.
It wasn’t what she said that stuck with me this round, but what the thanker said in his Thank …
“How Extraordinary that life becomes Ordinary …”
Who drank for show, or how many of us drank, and that became notariety, being popular amongst our fellows, because of the amount of liquor that we could throw back …
When in reality, our friends were making comment on that fact that “We drank so much…”
It takes time, and it is also said that for some, we get sober, and we think that now that we are sober, that all of life, is going to be great.
But that isn’t reality, really.
Life comes as Life on Life’s terms. It is not easy, shit happens and we are not impervious to tragedy, in our lives, or in the lives of our friends.
The good thing is, when tragedy strikes in sobriety, we don’t have to drink. In time, we realize that we don’t have to drink over anything, if we stick to the rooms and the people in them.
Sponsors, are truly remarkable people. I see my friends getting sober, and I hear what they have experienced, and they survived tragedy after tragedy, and did not drink.
And that comes down to meetings, friends, and sponsors. Who took time out of their lives to make sure that they stuck and stayed, and that the God of our understanding did what we could not do ourselves.
You never know when God is going to speak, and when He does, it’s gonna come from someone we know, someone close …
When we drank, most of us, well, I did, drank for excitement, for the thrill, and the hope that something BIG was gong to happen.
Well, shit did happen, and for most of us, it wasn’t very good.
We ended up in a room, a room full of alcoholics. And we were the last to know or to admit that we were alcoholics, even though the writing was on the wall all along.
And in the end, we get sober, life goes on, shit happens and we hear a man say to us tonight that:
ISN’T IT EXTRAORDINARY THAT LIFE IS SO ORDINARY ???
I never have to drink again.
I love my ordnary life, my husband, my friends, and the baby.
My heart is full.
It was a quite bitter day today. It has been snowing, ever so lightly for the past 24 hours or so. We are sitting at -7c with a wind chill of -14c. It was a bit nippy on my transit out and back.
With the holidays over with, like we expected, the first Sunday of the month was a huge success. The room was full to bursting. Some new and young faces, everyone was happy to be there.
With the new year comes a new meeting to the St. Leon’s space, this time, on the French side. We sorted the group out and arranged for them to have a cabinet in the storage room, a coffee pot, and cups. We have been sharing books and supplies among several meetings, so that meetings can save some money in not having to but supplies that are already there, in storage on nights we are not in session.
The Sunday library of books, is being tapped by my Tuesday meeting across town. Instead of buying a box full of new books, we trade them back and forth, as they are needed, because they are sitting in the cabinet collecting dust.
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The photo above, taken in Akron, Ohio, back in the 1920’s is of A.A. number #3, Bill D. This is the photo that hangs in most every A.A. service office around the world. It is the photo that has circulated for decades. His story appears in the 1st edition of the Big Book, as A.A. Number Three.
Tonight we read the story “He Had to be taught,” this particular story, coming at the head of section three, in Experience, Strength and Hope, comes from the Third edition and is quite a long, arduous, and painful story, that takes place in the mid to late twenties.
Our man, in this story, is one sick puppy. He is a war torn alcoholic. World War One is mentioned in the story, but it seems our man does not make it into the war itself.
His war is a war with the bottle.
He learns to drink, by watching a guy, sitting in a bar, drink a martini. He does not like alcohol at this point, this episode comes at the start of his story. On the way to a sports banquet, our man and his friends end up in a bar, where they begin drinking. And not knowing how to drink, is watching a stranger, (in his words) “Throw back a martini.”
Slug for slug, drink for drink, olive for olive, our young man tosses back a martini. He doesn’t like it one bit, but this episode starts him on his way. This one drink, lands him in a black out, and then he is off to the races.
Having money, a good job, a wife and kids, and posperity, the good life is short and because of the drink, all are lost. Page for Page, folks in the room were all thinking the same thing …
Can we please stop … This story is just too much !
A friend of mine, after the meeting, was talking to me in the bathroom, saying … Bill and Dr. Bob must have decided to be kind to our man, in allowing him to write this entire story out, because it went on for pages and pages. It is just one war memory after another, and in relation to Bill or Dr. Bob’s own stories, was much longer than the founders.
He tries religion, Christian Science to be exact, but they fail to keep him engaged. Finally, in the hospital, our man’s brother and Dr. Bob begin to help him sober up. But all he wants, is for (in his own words again)
“these clowns, to just give him a drink, and leave him alone.”
He gets a double dose of paraldehyde, while in the hospital and he looses a number of days, he goes comatose on a Thursday, and wakes up the following Sunday.
In the end, it is Bill D. who appears in his room, and talks him around to getting sober, after Bill D. tells him his story.
Finally our man gets it, and gets sober. His final comment in the story is that:
at the start of the day He asks for what is God’s will for him, each day, and then to the best of his ability to follow that, and at the end of the day be grateful to God for all that happened during the day. He does that continually, and at the time of writing this story, he is sober 18 years.
Bill D. A.A. #3 in Akron, is the man who gets our man in the story above sober. Bill D’s story, A.A. number #3, appears in both the First Edition of the Big Book, on page 182 and is carried into the fourth edition as well.
I had to read and re-read that particular story to figure out some semantics. Bill D. appears as the message carrier for the “man who needed to be taught.” But, Bill D’s actual “story” is separate from this telling, and appears separately.
Ok, now that I have all my Ducks in a row. Because as I wrote this out, it was all out of sync and I had to put it in chronological order.
The First week of the New Year begins tomorrow.
Make it count !!!
This morning I asked a question on Twitter…
What side of the bed did you get up on this morning?
Today was day one, of the New Year.
I am told, and was told, that every day should begin with prayer. I heard an old timer say tonight that at this stage of his game, survivng cancer, and still sober, he meditates daily, and that he has stopped praying. His prayer, is the active way he lives his every day life.
They say, if God is to act, then we must make the next right action.And if God is going to speak to us, it is going to come from someone we know.
I trust the God of my understanding. The loving God who acts in my life, through those people close to me, on a daily basis.
I am nothing without good advice and someone always there, to make sure that I don’t fuck it up. And I trust this way of life, because it has served me well. I listen to what I am told, and I listen to certain people who give me direction.
So I did that.
I prayed, and then I waited. God’s timing is perfect.
So this morning I got up with only one planned activity. Baby Mama and the Baby, were returning form New Foundland earlier this afternoon. I had done the shopping for the week, in advance, and also had things to do around the house.
I set off as our friend who picked them up at the airport was coming back home, and we met outside.
It was a happy reunion.
We played, we broke bread, and we laughed. It was clear that the baby missed us, over the holidays, because she was laughing and giggling, and she was all over the place.
My Friday’s have been all over the place, as the situation that was playing out, finally came to a resolution. Tonight, I returned to the Friday Night Meeting, with all of my friends.
My Best Friends.
All I wanted for Christmas was MY family all in one place, happy, sober and free. And that’s exactly what God gave me.
Because I trusted Him.
And what did we talk about, tonight? Again? God.
I spent time with my best friend, on the way to, and on the way home from, the meeting. That 20 minute walk is the highlight of my week. It is the best part of my week, walking with my best friend.
This week, everyone is back from Holidays. We’ve got some big plans for the new year, and my guys are all reconnecting, and so the year began on the right foot for everyone.
My heart is full.