It is raining. And has been raining All, Day, LONG ! Many things were going on today, and I had to get out of bed early, because we needed some repairs to our fuse box, and I had an appointment later in the afternoon, on the East end, and it was pouring down rain all afternoon. And I really did not want to go out in the pouring rain ….
Even with an umbrella …
The repairs were made, sadly, a couple of hours before I was supposed to leave, I got a cancellation call from The Maison that my masseur was stuck in the townships with a flat tire. (Townships – To the East and South of Montreal – a little far away).
When the coast cleared and I was free of commitments, I gladly poured myself back into my warm bed for a couple of hours. (read: Being good to myself).
It was a joyful evening, as we had a fellow join us for his first (read: Second first) meeting. It is hard having family in the place of suffering and not being able to do anything for them, because all we can do is attract rather than promote.
And we’ve been working really hard at attraction.
We got to the meeting with time to spare. And as I sat down, the chair asked me to thank the speaker. Common themes are repeating themselves, albeit, from different generations of people.
For a second week in a row, our speaker had not one, but BOTH parents in the rooms for more than twenty years. And rather than push the rooms or preach the goodness of its people, the parents waited, listened, and then, when the time was right, then say, quite clearly and out of character, that “Maybe it is time for a meeting.”
Both the gentleman last week, and our young lady tonight, came in by a suggestion from a parent. And it worked. Both are sober today.
The theme of tonight’s share was:
SITTING ON THE FENCE IS NOT A COMFORTABLE PLACE TO BE …
Some, who come in so young, are not quite sure they fit in, at first glance. They come, sit in a few meetings, then leave, because they are either:
- A. Thinking they are too young to get sober
- B. What will my Old friends think
- C. I can’t get sober when my friends drink and drug
- D. It just isn’t the right time for me
- E. I’m too young to be an alcoholic. I still have good years to drink more…
- F. I’ll do it when I’m Thirty …
So they go back out for further experimentation, until they hey rock bottom, and usually, once you come in and see, your drinking is screwed up for the rest of ones life.
So the BIG push to the bitter end is usually a tragic crash and burn.
Do I or Don’t I ? What will life look like ? What will my friends think ? How will I survive without drugs and alcohol, in my twenties …?
Hearing our young lady share, she spoke the “Litany of the Young People.”
How many young people do we know “out there” who could use what we have “In here?”
And how many make it IN and how many do NOT ?
I have to applaud our young people, every day. Because they have courage, that I did not have. But like them, at one point, I was told, that I WAS going to get sober, NOW.
We hear common themes among our young women. That of:
- Self Loathing
- Negative Self Talk (Read: Saying things to ourselves things we would never say to another Human Being)
- I’m not like all of you
- It’s really Not That Bad !!!
- Lonely and Heartbroken
- and finally … Desperation and Hopelessness
We hear this from the men, to a degree, but for the women who come in, (Read: At any Age) these feelings are only magnified times TEN.
The men just don’t connect like they should, because guys just don’t do that kind of thing.
But between the women, the pain runs deep, and they ponder that maybe there won’t be another woman in the room who can identify.
Sadly or more positively, ALL of our women share common threads. And it isn’t until they really connect, that they see that they are No Longer Alone.
I’m very happy that our young men and women, who are IN today, have stuck and stayed. They did what was suggested. They come, the all have Home Groups. Some, who have been a little while, are giving it back in working with others.
Then there are those whom are beginning to connect in ways they had not, in the beginning, and they have stepped it up a notch.
It was a good night.
April and May are the Big Roundup and Pioneers Roundup weekends. Every year, we all wait for the programs of sober events that fall during this period. Spring has begun, however, Mother Nature is going to toss negative temps at us all weekend. UGH!
Spring is a good time to get sober, because if you participate, often, You Too can turn up the heat and really raise your game better than it ever has been.
One of our Women celebrated her first year sober. There was Cheesecake !!
A good time was had by all.
Seven people have died after a small private plane crashed on an island off the east coast of Quebec.
Authorities said the plane crashed as it approached Iles-de-la-Madeleine Airport amid heavy winds and snow.
Jean Lapierre, a broadcaster and former Canadian transport minister, and members of his family were among the victims.
Mr Lapierre worked as a political analyst for CTV and other Canadian media outlets.
He also served as a member of parliament from 1979 to 1993 and again from 2004 to 2007.
Officials with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are en route to Havre aux Maisons Island in the Magdalen Islands to determine the cause of the crash.
The twin-engine turboprop plane departed from Montreal’s St Hubert Airport on Tuesday morning.
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Mr. LaPierre, his wife and family, were on their way home, to attend the funeral for his father, who died yesterday after a long battle with Parkinsons Disease.
I was sitting with my friends in a meeting this evening, when one of them arrived to tell us who was in the plane that was reported crashed earlier in the day. I had no idea who had been killed, but after hearing the news, everyone was terribly sad, at such a tragic loss of an entire family.
Jean was a well loved political reporter in the Province of Quebec. He participated in all things politics, on French and English television, Radio, across the province on both sides.
We would hear him nightly, on CJAD’s 24 hours of 800.
I am terribly saddened by this loss for Quebec, for Canada, Jean’s family, and the platforms he served for so many years.
This is terrible loss for so many, a very popular man voice of knowledge has been silenced, and there will never be another Jean LaPierre.
Eternal Rest Grant them and may Perpetual Light Shine upon them.
Skies are blue, the temps are up. It was a stellar weekend to be outside. It will be a week of Spring rain, to wash away all the leftover snow and salt from the sidewalks. Last night we sat a very small number, as was expected.
However, this evening, we sat a full house. We are beginning to see a merge of folks from the French meeting on Thursday, into the Sunday meeting in English. Over the last week, a gathering was held at my friends apartment building to introduce the forty five folks who showed up, THE WORK, as we do it.
And now, folks are lining up for sponsors, and appointments to begin reading the Book. This is a good sign. The French side is much more interested in The Work, than the English side is. Old timers, and people, who think they know whats good for them, debate the merit of The Work, from the perspective of …
I’ve read the book, just how much more information can you wrest from it ???
Our Answer … A great deal, if you read the book with us.
The last Sunday of the month, brings us right up to the Step of the month. And our speaker talked about Step Three.
Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
Everyone, well most folks, in time, develop their own take on a Power Greater than themselves. For some, it is God. Yet for others, it is Not. For as many people that sit in any given room, on any given night, there is a conception of a Higher Power.
I just know that God is part of my life. I know that without a shadow of a doubt. Someone, beyond my scope of understanding, is calling the shots, because I am still alive, to this date. So what do I attribute this to? Good medication, a little Faith, a little God, someone who takes care of me and people who love me?
A little thank you for life in the morning, a little thank you at the end of the day, and a Heaping spoonful of gratitude, sprinkled generously throughout the day is the recipe.
If you aren’t praying, I wonder why Not ? And if you aren’t praying, it is a forgone conclusion that you sure as shit aren’t meditating.
They go hand in hand.
When most folks come, they are beaten into the ground. They have, in some form or fashion, said to the universe that, “I am beaten.” “I need help.” Those words have been said, in one way or another.
I’ve seen people come, and for YEARS battle with God, I’ve seen this happen. Old ideas run strong in pig headed people, who want nothing better than to hold on to old pain and grudges against God, that they cannot see the forest for the trees.
Those who never, or won’t let go, usually end up back out the door at some point.
If you are a drunk, or a drug addict, and you hit rock bottom, and you are still alive, then something, somewhere, did for you what you could not do for yourself, because you are here now. Does that make sense to you ???
There is something that keeps us breathing. In spite of all the damage we have done to ourselves. Maybe it is God, maybe it is not.
But I have come to the conclusion, for me, that there IS a God, and I am not He.
Let go and Let God they say.
For some, this is an epic battle for supremacy and willfulness.
I just know life works better when I step back and allow God to do His thing for me.
I know this, because I have all that I need. Without a drop overflowing.
He is Risen, Hallelujah !!!
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene – John 20: 11-18
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”
“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
The beautiful weather we had been having recently, ended last night. The clouds rolled in, and this morning, snow began to fall … On March 24th … SNOW !
Two systems ran through Ontario, they got slammed, then into Quebec. They called for the trifecta of misery, Snow, Freezing Rain, and more Rain, on top of that. Warnings went up for Freezing Rain across the board. No rain has fallen yet tonight, but it did snow all day long and dropped about 5 cm of snow. Just enough to be a pain in the ass.
By Easter Sunday we will see double digit positive temps with lots of sun for the next few days. Hopefully, this is Mother Nature’s Last blow of Winter.
I have been waiting, impatiently for a couple of packages to arrive. Seeing this is a holiday weekend, everything stops tomorrow afternoon. And if they did not get here today, they would not get here until next Tuesday. Because Monday is a holiday here.
I checked twice, throughout the day, and no joy. When I left for the meeting, my mail box was full, and in it was the key to the package cabinet. YES !!!
I have finished reading Reza Aslan’s Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. And within that book, the scholar cites several other texts he is reading and including in this religious/academic study of Jesus. When I got to the end of the book the other day at the doctors office, the entire latter section of the book is end notes. And what end notes they were. All the citations and explanations of where he got his info and from whom. Out of that read, I ordered two new books to read, One, The Book of Enoch the Prophet by R.H. Charles. Enoch is a text that was edited OUT of the biblical canon when the bible was originally codified. The Second, The Book of Ezra, another text Reza uses in his book. Both are slim volumes, but I am sure will be interesting reads, nonetheless.
Once you start the academic process IN university, it usually follows that your education WILL continue well after you leave the building. That has definitely been the case for me and many of my scholarly friends in the Religion and Theology fields. Once a student, always a student, even if your degree means nothing, and you can’t find a decent job in your chosen degree field.
I got notice that my Adidas Trainers were available in BLUE, and were located in North America. So I scored another pair of sneakers, and a few odds and ends. I did some clothes shopping as well. If I shop for shirts, they must be wearable throughout the year, and pay off in the Winter. My particular seller had stock in colors I did not have so I add four more shirts to my closet soon.
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Most folks in the circle are traveling today and tomorrow for the holiday, so I imagine turnout is going to be slim all weekend. Family holidays are important, but alcoholics can only take so much family time, before they either crack, or run for the hills.
Which is why it is so important to have the rooms open all weekend.
I met one of my friends for the trip out and the meeting. He and his girlfriend are heading to Quebec City tomorrow for the weekend. So he squeezed in the meeting, while she was home finishing up some work and packing.
A good friend was in the chair. Someone I have known from the day he walked in a few years ago. Hearing your friends share on a grand scale is always great.
The take away: SOMETHINGS GOT TO CHANGE, BUT NOT ME !!!
He spoke about the obsession … The obsession of drugs and alcohol.
Once you introduce alcohol to begin with, the more one drinks, if drugs are waved under our noses, the odds are high, that we are going to partake.
So the simple obsession for alcohol, is only exacerbated by further drug use.
Some have said that they drank, and drank, and drank some more, then participated in recreational drug use, that for most, became severely intense. And when you mix the two, and I’ve heard it twice in the same room, that once you cross into drugs, the words “organized crime” usually follow.
Every alcoholic has at least one of these … A GEOGRAPHIC
We’ve all done it, some have done it way better than the rest of us. They don’t always stay in North America ( read: U.S. or Canada ). Some go all out and head to other locations around the world, for one reason or another.
Reason One: Moving out of the home
Reason Two: So that my friends don’t impede my alcohol/drug use
Reason Three: To get away from my parents always over my shoulder
My friends father, has been IN for over thirty years. And never once pushed them on him. But when times got tough, he stood tough and watched. Coming to the end, dad did say to his son, you can always hit a meeting you know, it might do you some good, but that was it.
Eventually my friend hit that Brick Wall. And turned around and asked dad to bring him to a meeting. He did what everyone does. Comes in, takes a chip, does some service, but in his case, he did not engage.
Read: No Home group, No Sponsor, and No Steps.
He wanted to stop drinking, But he did not want to be sober.
So he went through the motions, until one night he found himself sitting in a bar, with a beer in front of him on the table. He once heard a shrink say to him that if he left the tank, and went back out and drank again, that they would soon see him back in for the rest of his life.
THE REST OF HIS LIFE…
Sometimes it only takes presence, and other times, it only take a sentence. Once again, fragments are in action here.
Sitting in that bar that night, with a beer beckoning, he heard that shrink speak to him, and he thought to himself, “If I drink this beer, nothing is going to change.”
He walked out of the bar, and got himself to the next meeting.
At a particular meeting my friend was approached for a seventeen week Step series, but in order to do that, one needs a sponsor. So he hit both needs in the same breath.
He did the work. And he got sober, despite himself.
Eventually, he is sober a little while, and he goes into the toilet mentally, watching other people get sober, and get “Things, or People, or Stuff,” and asks himself, why isn’t he getting those things too?
Why? Because things and people and stuff comes on God’s time, not our time.
That funk lasted a while until he smartened up and began to communicate better with his sponsor. Then, like many of us, somewhere on our sober timeline, we begin working with others. That is the pay out of getting and staying sober, we get to share it with our men and women in the rooms.
Sometimes working with others is like pulling teeth. That has been the way with me. Most folks have no time or desire to get connected. No matter how often I give my phone number out.
But there came a time when I proactively walked up to a newcomer, (Read: My friend who was sitting next to me tonight) and gave my number and told him to call me.
Our man tonight lauds the effort WE should make in making connections, and not sitting back waiting for them to come to us. I share that observation.
Last month I needed a speaker for a Step meeting, and I asked one of my friends to do the job. He was IN but not engaged. He was showing up, but not working. So he went home that night, when I asked him to speak, and he did his homework. He spoke the following Sunday.
Since then, my friend got the bug. He went to a meeting, and found a sponsor, whom he calls every day and they are both IN THE BOOK, now.
You never know when you are going to help someone into the work, indirectly.
It may not be sunshine and roses every day.
But if we did not drink, or use drugs today, it was a good day.
With a little snow on the ground, it was a good day.
Gratitude is the attitude, if you don’t have gratitude every day, you have nothing.
A musical impresario once asked his teacher, how one got to Carnegie Hall ? The answer was simple, Practice, Practice, Practice …
Sports, Music, Life, Love, Marriage, Relationships, Sobriety … all take Work and Practice.
The conversation of questions continued this weekend. We saw little traffic over the weekend, all the numbers were down, across the board. Not sure why, because although it was chilly, skies were blue all weekend.
On Saturday night, one of our number asked the question of herself, and then to the rest of us, “Why do I have to keep coming back?” “Why do I bother, what’s in it for me?”
What’s the matter with smoking a joint, ONE joint? Because one leads to ten, for most of us, just like One drink, leads to ten more, because we all suffer from the same malady, the disease of “MORE.”
On Friday we talked about fragments, and how they play into our daily lives, when we least expect it, and when we most need them. Newcomers still grapple with the fact that we tell them to keep coming back. And usually, it happens, often, that we ask ourselves, Why do I come here, and when is this thing gonna pay out?
I can’t tell you “When” this thing is going to pay out. Those results differ from person to person. In most meetings, we hear, “The Promises,” which come in the Ninth Step work.
And our lady who asked those questions to begin with, we asked her to read the promises, at the end of Saturday’s meeting. And I said to her, that THAT is why you keep coming back. Because at some point, those promises will begin materializing for you too.
Tonight, we continued our read of the Big Book. And as it happened, our chair drilled into Step Three, since we are in the Third month. Last week we read How it Works, which precedes Step Three. That reading is a wealth of knowledge and reverence.
In tonight’s read, we finished reading Step Three. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, As we understood Him.
The prayers in the book, are there to facilitate the work we are trying to do here. Over the last couple of years, I have worked with several of my folks, who do not believe in God, therefore this prayer is useless. But with the work, I encouraged my folks to find their own words to pray, words that resonate with themselves.
Over the years, coming back a second time, and staying clean and sober, and working Steps, I’ve learned to integrate all of them into my daily life.
God has been the constant, giving, God in my life. And has been for the whole of my life. When I decided to step off the beam and back into self, I turn from God and rotate into self. Which usually ends up in a shit storm.
I tell the same story when I talk about God, this time around. When I was done, I was done, I knew it, so I prayed. I prayed a very specific prayer. Funny that God brought me every single item I prayed for, in the order I wanted it, and I found my way back.
In sobriety, I was good for a long while. Until year twelve, when I was restless, not necessarily, irritable and discontent. But I wanted MORE and I was ready for more.
I heard Bob speak and he asked us one thing … Do you pray the prayers in the book?
The answer was a big NO.
If you want fire and more, the place to begin is prayer. And the Step Three Prayer is the first one on that list of prayers you need to speak.
If you do not pray and meditate, every day, then what you get with that lack of effort is what you are going to get. Like it or not.
I invest in my prayer life, like putting money in the bank and going to meetings, and working with others.
Why do we keep coming back, to hear things over and over again. To read the books, over and over again. To hear fragments over and over again. And to learn how to pray and meditate, over and over again.
Because eventually, God is going to hear us, and if He thinks we are ready, answers and “things” begin to happen for us. It took decades for certain things to come. It was surely not overnight.
Everything I needed, or wanted, I had to approach it from the right direction of need versus want. I would pray, and I would wait on God. I might get a peek, or a period of time where things began to appear, but not everything at once, or everything I might need.
I kept coming back, and listening to my friends talk, and I learned how to listen for God to speak, because God doesn’t speak from a cloud, He speaks from our friends, people close to us. it is us who have to learn how to listen and wait.
First you pray … You talk to God.
Then you meditate … You get quiet and learn to listen for God
Then you wait … For the answer to come. If you are always in self and in your head, you sure as shit, are not willing to listen for God’s voice to come.
You never know when God is going to speak, like I said, it is going to come from someplace familiar, someplace close, from somebody we might know. God is a mystery, that He does speak is NOT. So I go to meetings, to rooms that are familiar. Rooms I have spent inordinate amounts of time in, where I know God moves.
I have seen Him move, among my friends over the past fourteen plus years.
It seems, for many that, they have to get down to nitty gritty, to be broken enough that they finally make the decision to stop living in self, and turn it over.
Let Go and Let God.
That is why we keep coming back, because eventually, someone is going to drop a piece of wisdom that is going to hit us right between the eyes, and we finally get that puzzle piece, hopefully, early in the game, so that you don’t have to wait years and years to begin reaping the good stuff.
I stopped battling God, and I stopped, well, I really never thought of myself as God, because I am not that arrogant, today I can walk and talk with God.
I am really grateful for the life I have and the people in it.
Even if I don’t know how to accept good things, that I have never had before.
I guess God loves me.
Another Thursday, and it was a light day today. I had appointments in the morning, one to see the director of an AIDS organization. He seems a good man with noble goals, to serve his community. And I got my application in and sorted out my services schedule.
They have a massage service that is free, once a month, that is scheduled every month so that all the clients get to meet a new masseur each time they come to the Maison.
After that I visited a friend who lives in an old converted convent just a few blocks away from the Maison. All of the religious buildings that once housed congregations of nuns, priests and monks, are designated as Hertitage Structures, which means that they cannot be torn down, and must be re-purposed for community use.
So this convent has been converted into subsidized housing for aging LGBT folks who live in the city. Once you hit the age of sixty, you can apply for housing at this site. The units are smartly designed and decorated. There is a full kitchen, living room, the bedroom is quite small, and a bath.
There is a communal dining area which is located in the former de-sacralized chapel, which is under reconstruction, after a flood that ruined the floors. There is seating for probably a hundred or more on the main floor, and about seventy on the balcony that surrounds the main hall.
During off hours the room is converted into a Disco or Line Dancing party space. My friend plays DJ for these festive dance parties. On the seventh floor, which was the old attic for storage, is located a very smartly decorated lounge/theatre/bar where feature films are shown to the community, as a community event on a weekly basis. Te whole idea and function of this home is to encourage community and forge relationships among residents. A very important need in the elder LGBT community. They are not living alone, but in a newly designed community.
Along with the LGBT housing is a new opened homeless reintegration home, where that part of the building has been converted into low cost subsidized housing for the homeless, and gives them a place to live, instead of a shelter or on the street.
This is the first time I have seen integrated housing for a population that needs so much help. I loved the idea and the service this organization provides to those who are in need.
I came home and did my rounds online, and then watched some HGTV … I do love me some HGTV. I can’t get enough of it. I went through all the channels that we don’t watch and found a set of channels that I wanted. Recently the government changed the rules about cable/HD pricing and ala carte services, so I dropped a bunch of channels and subscribed to the new ones.
All of this is functional so that from this point forwards, I have alternative television to watch, instead of watching Donald Trump on every news channels for hours at a time.
There is a Trump ban in this house. and a N.I.M.B.Y. policy about politics.
If it doesn’t concern us, then we watch something else.
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This evening I met my friend for the meeting. When we got there, my old sponsor rolled up and when he got inside told me about the death of His sponsor, who was living in South East Asia on retirement.
Bill was a great man. He as wise beyond his years, and had been sober more than 60 years. He would pass through Montreal on occasion, coming from our East to the city to visit always on his way to his new home of Asia. Bill was 88 years old So this news was not a shock, but it is still sad. He will be missed by all of us, including my friend who had been friends with Bill for decades.
He will be cremated and his ashes scattered over the ocean out there.
The speaker was from out of town. It was a good share. She talked about the point where we are sober so long and we are discontent and we begin the slump in sobriety. I’ve heard this fact before, and been through it myself. She, got the spark re-lit at the eighteen year mark … Imagine coasting for that long not working the program?
I hit that point at year twelve. Thank God I hit it a lot sooner. I can’t imagine being sad and irritable and discontent in sobriety for that long.
We bid goodbye to our friend Bill and we pray …
Eternal Rest grant him and may Perpetual Light shine upon him.
We will miss you.
What do I have, to bring, after hubby spent an inordinate amount of money updating computers and laptops this month? Off the top of my head, I cannot think of anything of substance I can bring to the table, to match what has been given.
Except gratitude …
What do you do in this situation? I don’t know.
The brand new monitor came yesterday, and it is HUGE …. and bright.
I feel like a rock star, compliments of hubby and our tax returns.
The past piece of the upgrade puzzle came in the mail today. The adapter for my old keyboard, so that I did not have to remain with the one that came with the new box.
Now I can type like I have always typed. I buffed the keyboard and cleaned it up, so it kind of looks new. But I am still using an eraser as a foot for the broken one. UGH!
I did house chores this afternoon and then headed out for my weekly dinner with Baby mama and Lu Lu. Friday we get her definite departure date. Then we can begin planning the move back, and the emptying the apartment of everything that we put into it when she moved back here last year.
Tomorrow I have an appointment at Maison Plein Coeur, an AIDS support center here in the city. I have never tapped those specific resources before, because I have never needed them. A very long time ago, I applied to work for an organization here when I first moved here over a decade ago, but they told me I was unqualified to work for them.
Hell, I had been POZ for more than ten years, not sure how unqualified that makes me to serve a specific community.
My Sober Lady friend who joined the masseur group where she lived, who will be working with me in the future, asked the director to see me, so I see him tomorrow.
Lots to do in the next few days.
My I Tunes guru is coming on Friday to help me with my tunes, because I can’t seem to make them work correctly. I have so much music on my hard drive, but getting that music from my I tunes to my phone has not worked for me.
More to come tomorrow.
Just a little update.
It is a usual phenomena that discussions arise from topics at several meetings over days and weeks at a time. And the readings are repetitious because we read and reread the same books over and over again. Sometimes, we hit similar topics across several texts and when I sit down to write there is a coherent flow to the discussion.
Attending two fellowships that share books and ideas, there arises, at times, topics and discussions that are common to both, and writing towards both, sometimes falls right into place.
Yesterday we talked about “Are we there yet.”
This evening, I hit my Tuesday meeting. And we are in the back of the Big Book, and today’s story … He sold himself short. How the fellowship started in Chicago.
In the fourth edition, the first section of stories are from the first 100 founders, who were drunks, got sober in the 1930’s and subsequently started A.A. in their respective cities, in the U.S. and Canada. The Montreal story, of Dave B. falls in this section and tells the story about how A.A. came to Quebec.
Let’s return to Chicago.
In regards to yesterdays question of “Are we there yet,” We get this response from our man…
These last eighteen years have been the happiest of my life, trite though that statement might seem. Fifteen of those years I would not have enjoyed had I continued drinking. Doctors told me before I stopped that I had only three years to live on the outside.
This latest part of my life has a purpose, not in great things accomplished but in daily living. Courage to face each day has replaced the fears and uncertainties of earlier years. Acceptance of things as they are has replaced the old impatient champing at the bit to conquer the world. I have stopped tilting at windmills and, instead, have tried to accomplish the little daily tasks, unimportant in themselves, but tasks that are an integral part of living fully.
Where derision, contempt,and pity were once shown me, I now enjoy the respect of many people. Where once I had casual acquaintances, all of whom were fair-weather friends, I now have a host of friends who accept me for what I am. And over my A.A. years I have made many real, honest, sincere friendships that I shall always cherish.
I’m rated as a modestly successful man.My stock of material goods isn’t great. But I have a fortune in friendships, courage, self-assurance, and honest appraisal of my abilities. Above all, I have gained the greatest thing accorded to any man, the love and understanding of a gracious God, who has lifted me from the alcoholic scrap heap to a position of trust, where I have been able to reap the rich rewards that come from showing a little love for others and from serving them as I can.
Over the last twenty two years, I have heard doctors tell me that I was going to die a handful of times, in the beginning, I really was GOING to DIE, and over the decades I heard it again and just twice in the last ten years. I have outlived all those predictions, much to the surprise of the medical establishment.
The only things I can attribute my survival to are my resolve to live each day fully, to have learned how to pin point direct energy to serve me best, the medication I take daily, but most importantly, my faith in a God who sustains me.
If I had no faith, which I did not during the death march, I would have died. God, read:Todd, stepped out of heaven and onto earth in the vision of the man who saved my life from utter despair. I got to see, meet and live with God incarnate, I truly believe that to my innermost self.
Death brings life into perspective as in what I CAN do and what I DO do. This passage from the last two pages of the read resonated with our folks tonight. When the chips are down, and we think, we don’t have enough, or aren’t where we should be at any given moment on the continuum, we are reminded quite succinctly, what we DO get in the rooms.
You can’t put a price on respect, dignity, love and friendship. And the wisdom that comes when you stick and stay is invaluable. Not to mention, in my case, living through my 40’s now and learning what real wisdom is. That has been a theme in the 40’s. Wisdom …
If you tell folks that it isn’t in what you gain materially that matters, and that money is good, but having just enough is the lesson, how to make it, what to do with it, and what NOT to do with it. Living in Quebec, Anglo’s won’t get rich here. So you make do with what you can do to make what you can in salary. That is a recent bitter pill for some.
University Degrees, for the most part, aren’t worth the paper they are printed on, for many in this city. I don’t know many people who parlayed studies into degrees, be they B.A.’s, M.A.’s or PHD’s, into money spinners. And several of my friends went back out and drank after this happened to them. It happened to me too, two degrees not worth the paper, and no opportunities for a Religion and Theology major who is Gay to be had.
Sobriety is about the journey, and what we learn along the way. Showing up day after day, night after night, week after week, month after month, year after year, life changes the longer you stick and stay. And all this to say that life can be rich, even if you are not, because what we get together, is more important and is worth more, than what you might get on your own.
Are we there yet? Probably not. But you are HERE right now. So let’s remind ourselves, just what you have gained in staying, and what is possible.
Things that you cannot put a price on.
That matters …
When we get here, we are usually shot in many ways. Some have lost, and some have lost BIG, and we come, we come to, and then we start moving forwards.
The moving forwards might be slow at first, and some of us might not be so sure on our feet, or in our heads. With the encouragement of others, and hopefully a sponsor in our back pockets, we begin the slow climb out of hell.
I’ve been through several losses in my life, due to addiction and bad choices. And that last bad choice, cost me everything that I owned save a backpack full of clothes, my bible and a few books.
Once again, I had to rebuild from the ground up.
It took a while to reach my ultimate bottom, and the biggest decision was, “was I ready and willing to grow up now?” The answer was a hesitant, Yes.
When I got here, like I have said before, I was already hooked up when I landed finally to stay in one place and give it a go.
Having nothing but a couple of suitcases and a few boxes was good for me, because I was not carrying much of the past, into my future. Just mental baggage and trauma.
They have said to me, that when we start using and drinking, we become stunted, and we mentally and emotionally remain the age we were when it all began. With that said, I was a twenty year old boy, living in a thirty four year old body. In congruent to say the least.
I walked into a room one night, with an expectation list as long as my arm for God, because, in some universe, I thought God owed me for coming back.
Those ideas were shot down immediately.
I did the work required of me. Had a sponsor, and was participating in an aftercare rehab program with a therapist, who I had in my life for a couple of years. Tonight we read a story about a woman who got sober quite young. But in the room tonight, were folks of varying ages and situations.
It was mentioned that some thought that where they are right now, is not where they thought that they should be, or that they should be somewhere else, or have an idea of what they want to do with their lives.
Some of these questions are still outstanding.
But we learn, that sobriety and clean time, is about the journey and NOT the destination.
And no two people are at the same point in my social circle in either fellowship.
In my first year, I was not ready to commit to much except staying clean and sober. The clean was really not an issue of me because at that point I had been clean for more than a year when I landed here, it was the drink that worried me.
On my year anniversary, my therapist sat me down and asked me a single question.
You’ve been sober a year now, What do you want to do now? What is it that you would like to accomplish that you haven’t yet done? well, those are two questions, really.
I decided that I would go back to school. At age 35.
I was in a relationship that came out of nowhere, and I was really happy with that new part of my life. I had the idealistic idea, that I would meet a man, on a one off situation, and that that would be it, all said and done, because I saw my best friend, a number of years ago, get that one off attraction, and he and his husband had been together for over a decade when I got sober the second time.
I moved in with hubby, in the Winter of 2002. I became a Canadian Citizen on February 13th of 2003. And started school that next fall.
I had built for myself meeting infrastructure. I had my “set in stone” meeting nights that I maintain to this very day, now fourteen years later. I had a boyfriend, whom, in 2004, became my husband. We were, by that time, both in university. We were building a home, and both of us going to meetings. We are both clean and sober.
I never had real plans that were outlandish. I had just enough strength to keep together what we were building together. And we started with an empty apartment between us and we began to build. That build had reached its climax last fall, 2015.
I live with a terminal illness and nobody knew if I would live this long. My doctor had hope, that the medication I was and am taking today, was going to raise the stakes and keep me alive. And so everyday, for me, is a new day, because I am still alive and breathing. At twenty two years now, we don’t know the long term life expectancy, but the odds are good right now, so this keeps things in perspective.
My story is unique. Because among this sober community, I am one human being who survived the 1980’s and 1990’s AIDS death story. I am the only one left in the room that survived.
I know my limits and I know the detriment that expectations bring. I keep it simple and I live every day well. I did not know where we were going to end up or how life was going to turn out. We did not plan for this, but we hoped with all that we had, that we would be able to make this relationship work as it was dealt to us, illness and bi-polar diagnosis situations as it turned out.
They also say that, in sobriety, we make plans and God laughs.
Lately, God has been laughing a great deal at some of my friends. That is the running joke right now.
Coming from nothing into the life I had, I could not have predicted it, and did not know it would get this good. We live one day at a time, very simply.
For many, in sobriety, this is a bitter pill for folks who expect to be somebody substantial, and to have something to speak of, or be proud of, expectations, again …
Some folks are not there yet, and so they ask … “Are we there yet?”
One day at a time.
There seems to be a pattern in my life. And I am noticing this more and more, as the days go past. “People come and go so quickly here!”
This is my pride and joy. We took this picture this afternoon, after a trip to the park. One way to remember special moments are on film, or in today’s words, digital.
I spent the better part of the afternoon, with Baby Mama and LuLu. I wanted to take her to the park, because it was a stellar day to be outside. The park, was not all that hospitable, there was snow still on the ground and puddles of water under all the climbing structures, and the swings were missing from their racks. UGH !!
So it was an abbreviated visit. So after a while trying to navigate snow and puddles we went back home, and spent time together there. This was my favorite photo for today.
Last night, we celebrated one of my ladies First Year anniversary with cakes and chips. This morning she got on a plane heading to the Back country of B.C, for her tree planting season which lasts until August.
I texted her just before the meeting tonight and she arrived safely, in one piece, with all her luggage and tree planting gear, tonight, she was headed Up Coast, for her first port of call.
Several of my “people” are in the process of going somewhere else. It has been my privilege to have them for each part of their journeys. People, coming and going.
Last night we talked about staying clean and sober through transitions. My last transition, coming to Montreal, was my last. I have been here longer, clean and sober, than anywhere else I have been in my entire life. That includes my childhood, because I started drinking in my teens.
We have not really thought about going someplace else. We’ve just recently hit that point where everything is working in our favor, for the first time in our marriage. Unless good money was attached to a move, we would not leave the city.
But maybe there is a Yet to be had.
Tonight, we re-tread an old topic that I have been talking about for a couple of weeks:
How It Works …
Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path.
We read this passage tonight. I began the read, quietly, and methodically, and as the read continued through the room, it went from thoughtful to machine gun fire …
It was tonight that I realized that this passage, is a reverent, introduction to what the work will be, how it works, in what order and who we are. This, as it was said by one of my friends, is a great CV for an alcoholic.
When I was pondering this reading tonight, the one word that came up was Reverence.
I got back around to:
If you have decided you want what we have, and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are ready to take certain steps.
For a select few people, who have been set on fire, for the book and the work, we get these ideas. That did not come overnight. It took years for me. And years for many as well.
We are all working towards some goals with each other. Some folks are not in good places, life has been throwing some left field hardships, and we are doing what we can for each other.
The good thing is, everybody, it seems has just enough hope to hang on, until hardship passes.
It was a good day.
But sadness is coming.
We are making the most of our remaining days together.
I think you all know about MAX … The name I gave to my computer some time ago. With the tax refund we got this year, hubby spent a pretty penny on buying me a brand new computer, fresh with mega memory and Windows 10.
It took hours and hours to set Max back up, moving all my files from his old box to his new box. This morning, after watching status bars crank and files moves from there to here, we are ready to rock and roll.
Max’s old box and innards are more than a decade old. And this is what he looks like today, I have to say that I am less than pleased with the factory keyboard that was provided with the new system. I would rather have had the ability to use my old ergonomic keyboard that is much larger than this little thing I am trying to get used to using.
Along with Max comes his brother the Evil Laptop of Scott Evil.
If you get this Austin Powers reference, you get 100 points.
I am really grateful that hubby thinks about everything I might need, over the past month, he has let slip the lengths he has gone to to see to my safety and care, should something happen to him.
More to come, later, but for now, BED !!!
Goodnight Y’all …
“Every Day is a Great Day …” Who said that ? Mark E. Miller
Things are looking up. The weather is holding. Still a bit chilly, and I am hot or cold, as to wearing an extra layer, because of the chillness in the air. Next week we will see double digit teens, hopefully, we have seen the end of Winter …
Let us pray
This weekend we send one of our number out to the bush in B.C. for her tree planting season, but not before celebrating her One Year clean and sober on Saturday.
Hopefully we have done our jobs, in filling her with what she will need for the next little while, out there in the bush.
I received some rather sad news the other night. After almost a year living in Montreal, and raising baby LuLu, Baby Mama made the call that it was time to go, Baby Mama and LuLu will return to Newfoundland, in a months time.
I visited them on Tuesday night and she broke the news to me. What could I say ? And what was I supposed to do, convince her to stay ?
I am terribly sad. On Wednesday night we had a heart to heart and she admitted to me that there just wasn’t enough of me to go around. I’ve spent the better part of two years, being a friend, being the only man in their lives, besides grand dad, and helping to take care of the baby.
But there is only so much I can do. I have to let them go, no matter how heartbroken I am, that they will be gone in a few weeks time, and there won’t be any more dinners, and trips to the park and swings, and laughter.
Every human being needs at least three people in their lives to create a stable “unit” of family/friends.
The other people who had, at one time, stepped up to be accountable, failed in that manner, honestly, quite miserably.
We as a group failed a friend.
We are powerless over people, places and things. I am just sad how people just walked out of the relationships, they, at one time, called the most important relationships in their lives.
I guess they weren’t really.
So that is a thing …
Tonight, was standard Thursday fare. And our speaker was a woman I know very well, because she comes to our Tuesday meeting. At twenty six years, the message was poignant.
- You can’t reap rewards for anything where work is required, if you don’t do the work required.
- I.E. You can’t benefit from meditation, unless you learn how to meditate.
- You can’t benefit form the Steps, unless you WORK the steps.
- You can’t live sober, in the NOW, if you are constantly mired in the PAST.
- Just because we put down the drugs and alcohol, doesn’t mean there will be sunshine and roses every day, but we learn to live Life on Life’s Terms.
Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, or to hear a reading or listen to a teaching, again and again. She says that the goal of sobriety, for us, IS
Finding our Spirits…
Last week, I talked about How it Works, and the 4 ideas of
Sitting with me tonight, was one of my guys, whom I get a few hours with on Thursday evenings, and we heard a woman read How It Works.
It goes on, that this reading, depending on the reader, at the Thursday meeting, or any meeting for that matter, is rattled off, like machine gun fire … Batta, Batta, Batta ….
Rushing from beginning to end, like a speed reader.
Then there are those who enunciate, using the pauses and nuances of the written word as it is on paper. We don’t often hear the spoken word version of How It Works, tonight, we did.
I had spoken to my guy before the meeting about reading, and studying, he was reading a textbook, and finding no joy in it, but I encouraged him to keep reading and studying.
So the meeting started, and How It Works was read, patiently, honestly, thoroughly, and thoughtfully.
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path …
It begins with this sentence. And when read, with thought and intention, an entirely new understanding of How It Works emerges.
It really gives meaning to the depth of this reading, as it applies to every one of us, man or woman, just what we can and should do, once we get here and start the journey of sobriety.
If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – THEN you are ready to take certain steps.
Some of us tried to hold onto our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go ABSOLUTELY.
I’ve spent the better part of fourteen years parsing words, doing the work, and living in the NOW. Every time I run my steps, I look at what is on the table, and for a very long time, every time I did look, All I saw was The Past.
Over and Over again, I flogged myself with the Who, What, Where and Why, only to come to the conclusion that, and I heard it tonight from our speaker …
You can’t get sober, and live in the now if you are saddled in the past. At some point, you have to let it go, heal what needs to be healed, let Go and let God, (her words not mine) forgive, move on, and get on with the present.
Instead of telling us stories, the usual routine, she spoke about the NOW.
And I realize, something that has come to me recently, that I am done with the past, I no longer care to fret or ponder all that was. Nobody in the past gives a shit about me in the present, nobody cares… I no longer have to reside in this place any longer.
This realization, gives me a sense of freedom.
I don’t have to give my time and talent to shit that does not matter any more.
There are too many people who need me right now, to allow my brain to be saddled in the past.
These realizations don’t come over night and they take work on our parts to know when the time is right, when we have learned all there is to learn about something, but IS there a time, when we have learned all there is about anything?
No there isn’t.
Life goes on, and we learn every day, but it is our choice to remain teachable.
All I have is what I have today, to be able to do what I need to do, for those people, I need to do for, at any given moment, based on what I have in my bank, and that takes time and WORK.
The WORK continues.
Because we are never DONE, until we take our last breaths.
A good night was had by all …
Another Sunday and we are in the month of March. It is still chilly out, but much better than it has been for a while. We are sitting at Zero at this hour, and temps are going to rise in the coming week up to tens, during the day. The usual rainfall that comes after the last snow is coming as well.
I had begun to write a piece Friday night, but it was getting a bit too verbose, and was all over the place, so I nixed it. We sat a fair group on Friday night, and I sat and listened for the hour. I had had discussions with a friend loosely related to the topic Friday night, so I really had nothing to say.
Our steering commitee met this evening prior to the meeting to talk about the future of our Sunday/Thursday combo meeting program. We opened a brand new meeting in French on a Thursday, and we reformatted the Sunday meeting, so both meetings are fresh and new.
We have hopes of what we would like to see happen, and to be able to attract folks to come and stay, which is still the issue at hand. With only a handful of members to do the jobs of the group, we hope that attraction grows.
We sat a small group tonight, and we read from the Big Book, and the story from the back, “It could have been worse.” We only read a couple of pages, about how someone took to the rooms and the program.
It wasn’t how far I had gone, but where I was headed. It was important to me to see what alcohol had done to me and would continue to do if I didn’t have help.
I was told that I must want sobriety for my own sake, and I am convinced this is true. There may be many reasons that bring one to A.A. for the first time, but the lasting one must be to want sobriety and the A.A. way of living for oneself.
A willingness to do whatever I was told to do simplified the program for me, Study the A.A. book – don’t just read it
This passage, now that I write it down, is what we talked about on Friday night, from the book A.B.S.I. and “Do as I do.”
I have always prospered when somone else was, simply, taking care of me, because left to my own devices, in most situations, my choices have not been that good, and it only has come about in the last period of sobriety, this time, that I have learned how to take care of me and others in my life, to the best of my ability.
I had had Todd … And while he was here, I was good. But as soon as he left, I was left alone and I just could not make it work for myself.
When I came back to sobriety, I spent those first few months, clearing my head and working on a plan of action to take my life back from the dead end it was stuck in and I ended up here.
I immediately connected, I was not alone, ever. And I did everything I was asked to do, I got involved in my sobriety and the lives of my friends. And the common thread that runs through this sober period of time is this one fact ….
I went to meetings, and I followed directions, but more importantly, I did NOT DO what my friends did. I skated above the water, listening and paying attention, and evry time someone went out, I noted what they did do, and what they did NOT do. I have mental files of problem that happened, and how they were dealt with, and why my friends chose to drink and use again.
I still do that, to this day. And over and over again, we’ve been hearing stories about folks who have been long sober, keep secrets and tell lies, and end up back out there drinking and drugging.
Watch enough people go out and you have the recipe for success.
Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly …
When I was a kid, they should have stamped on my forehead,
“You cannot drink, Period !!!”
I should have known better early on, but alcohol was good. And I was alcoholic from the very start. Every time I drank, my life became unmanageable. And I talked tonight about what I was seeing in retrospect.
Every time I drank, it was like jumping into the deep end of the pool, every time. In the beginning I was way over my head, in trouble. And somehow, some way, I always manged to rise again, and I would get out of the pool and stand on the deck for awhile.
But I would always find my way back to the pool, only to jump in once again.
My alcoholism came in waves. Each wave got bigger, and more dangerous. And finally I surfed that last wave that hit me full force, and I got sick. And Todd pulled me out of the pool.
I was on deck for a while, until he was no longer there, and what did I do? I walked over to the pool, and with one flourishing leap, I dove back into the deep end. This time there was no life presever, I was on my own.
An object that is in motion, stays in motion until affected by some outside force.
Thankfully, that outside force stopped my forward motion.
Alcoholism is cunning and waits us out, for that one moment, when we let our guards down, and it swoops in, and takes us down.
Having a terminal illness did not stop my alcoholism. It spoke to me like that serpent in the garden. It convinced me that I knew better and that a few secrets and a few lies were not going to hurt anyone, but me of course.
One learns a great deal about honesty, the longer you are IN. The more often you see your friends fall around you, some go, some return, others die in the process, you either grow up and get smart, or you go down with them.
And I for one, am not going down with the ship.
Sober twelve years, and I thought I was alright. I had read the book, and did several rounds of steps, going to meetings, and I was alright, so I thought.
Then Bob from NYC came along and lit the fire. I began to STUDY the book, not just read it. And over the past two years, I’ve studied the book, in group readings, via Joe and Charlie, and listening to slippers, find the book again, and hearing them talk about the book in new ways.
Parsing the chapters, into paragraphs and down to words.
I can still learn today. That book might be half a century old, and the words never change. The more we read them, and the more we study them, in new ways, through new eyes, and for some, old eyes, words begin to jump off the page.
That is one of the best gifts of sobriety, teachability …
I am so blessed to have the people in my life that I do. And that I am part of a community of sober men and women, who are on fire for the book.
Many people are put off by fire, and they resent and deny it. They are comfortable being comfortable, where they are, doing to same old thing.
Some of us heard the message at that Roundup that changed some lives, and we live that message today. And there are some, who want fire, and want life, and all the excellent adventures that have come from that work.
That is what we want for our people, to set them afire, to change their lives in ways they could not imagine could be.
Study the Book, don’t just read it.
A good night was had by all.