Tonight, our little intrepid group of men and women, finished a full reading, cover to cover, of The Big Book. This herculean task, once begun, took over a year of reading.
The front of the book is much more labor intensive, than the last portion of the book (the stories).
It was said that, and many of us concurred … For the last many months, we have been sitting in a speaker meeting, (reading) stories from speakers telling us their stories, but it was US that gave voice to those story tellers.
The last story in the book, is titled A.A. Taught him to handle sobriety …
The concept of Living Sober is not unfamiliar.
If YOU got sober, you probably were introduced to a little blue book called: Living Sober. If you have not seen it, don’t know of it, or have not yet read it, I highly suggest you go find a copy, and Read The Book.
It was good, this time around, that the first few months in the rooms, I had the opportunity to have the book “Read” to me in meetings. Because back then, I could not hold a book, nor read it either.
When I moved to Montreal, in my infancy of sobriety, I had access to a meeting that was dedicated to this little book.
These things I know to be true for me:
- I wanted to Grow Up and become a Man (did not know what that was)
- I wanted a new life, SOBER.
- Those decisions I made twenty and sixteen years ago, played out
- I move to Montreal SOBER
- I rooted, stuck, and stayed (I did everything I was told to do and then some)
- I spent most of my thirties, and ALL of my forties in sobriety
- Next Monday I will be FIFTY, sober
- I am alive and well today
- AND I have a choice today, in WHO I want to be, TODAY
- I have a choice in WHO I want in my life today, and who I don’t
- I know, NOW, I think, what this past year has been for …
For fifteen years I have been doing things, By The Book. Listening to People tell me what to do and how to do it, and when to do it, and not complain …
A little over a year ago, now looking back at it, after working a serious round of inventories and lists and writings, that ONE cathartic event, was God, ripping the band-aid off my wounded heart, which sent me into disarray and confusion.
I had to learn the hard way, that not every sober man who is Double Digit sober, is not necessarily SOBER. I have learned that Double Digit sober Women, have issues well beyond those of an alcoholic nature, watching them react adversely to my emotional upheaval.
It seems that Emotional Upheaval is not something long sober people are schooled in, talk about, or deal with openly, in front of others. Because in the end, NONE of them could help me.
None of them wanted to talk to me or listen to me talk. Many of them told me to go because Emotional Upheaval is not a kosher subject to honestly talk about in community.
I have THREE friends who have allowed me to talk, without judgment and shame.
I must say that our little Monday meeting has served me well. It was the one place I could go, on a weekly basis, and talk. Openly. Honestly. Without Judgment.
I know today that I need to cut another group of people out of my life, because they do not align with my morals and values. I know today, that I CAN Choose what I do with the rest of my life, as in who I want to work with, why that is important, and why people who only take from me, without giving anything back does not align with the way I work my program.
I see things now, a little more clearly. I’ve walked many people through their Steps. Several times. I am currently walking a few souls through Steps right now.
I see how many of my friends fall into certain un-sober behaviors.
People are selfish, self-centered and self-seeking. This is fact. I know what it looks like and what it sounds like. I said this earlier today, as long as I am feeding the pigeons what THEY want to hear, and listen to them talk about THEMSELVES, and I stay away from talking about ME, everything is kosher.
As soon as the stream of consciousness stops, and I turn the conversation to helping ME instead of helping THEM, my friends tell me to Shut Up.
Earlier, before the meeting I was talking to my best friend, and he was dismayed when I told him this story, of recent events. Like I said, I have THREE non judgmental friends.
- My Best Friend
- My Mennonite Preacher Adviser
- My Mormon Elder Best Friend Spencer
My spiritual advisers asked me to work a serious inventory of writing, prayer and letting go and forgiving. Brene Brown has taught me about Trust, Vulnerability, Shame and Guilt. Timber Hawkeye has given me Buddhist teaching that I found very useful.
I did those inventories, as I was asked to do, by men I trust with my soul. I spent time, each day, listening to learned men and women talk about things I needed to know.
I’ve spoken, in the past about … NOW I KNOW …
I was talking to a fellow before tonight’s meeting about turning Fifty next week, and I shared about what happened to me when I turned forty and beyond. When that little door in my brain opened and I began to KNOW things, for sure.
Having forty years behind you of practical life experience was useful to me. And at forty, I had six years of sobriety behind me, A LOT of Oprah in my bucket, lots of books read, and a university career in the works as well, I knew, intimately, that I KNEW THINGS for SURE.
Now I have almost fifty years of practical living experience behind me, and God has been stripping away all those things He thinks I don’t need any more. And I know, when I turned forty-nine last year, that I told God that I was ready for the Big Time.
I asked Him to lay it on me …
For sure, God did not waste any time in laying it on me thick.
For the last little while I’ve been nursing pain and sorrow and old expectations. Oprah once said that, wisdom comes:
“When You Give up the Idea/Expectation that life could have been any different.”
Life did not turn out the way I had expected. Life did not turn out the way I hoped it would. My desire for all the adults in my life, to grow up, and one day, come sit at a table and be able to be civil and have discussion, and everything would be alright, never happened.
And I have to let that old idea go.
I asked for a spiritual cleanse. I uttered those words to God. I said it. And as God is, in my life, when I am ready, and even when I am not ready, God threw down that gauntlet.
And He was not kidding either.
This is the make or break week in sobriety.
Tonight, is the Seventh night out.
The seventh night out from my birthday. When I drank, the party would officially begin, tonight. It would begin slowly, methodically. And the party would last, seven nights, with the grand crescendo, on the night of my birthday, with the BIG BLOW OUT.
Honestly, This is how it used to be. And I think that Twenty Six, was the last year that this routine practice took place. I was waiting to die, and trying to kill myself.
Thank God, Todd, (read God) stepped in and stopped that circus.
God has been very good to me. I must admit that. God has been gently moving me forwards. A handful of men, acting on His behalf have carried me gently to this point, and I am grateful to all of them.
Randall, Spencer, and my best friend.
So now, I know, I have a choice. Who Do I want to be, and who do I want in my life ?
I know those answers.
This is it. The next chapter to be written, is in the wings. I think I know what I need to do and why.
They never said sobriety was going to be easy. In my case, at eleven months of sobriety, God dropped me into the deep end of the pool. Over the last fifteen years, both hubby and I survived the deep water swim.
I grew up and became a man.
Tonight we read the book and the story-teller said that, it is not so much about quitting the drink, But more importantly, HOW to live SOBER.
One day at a time, I’ve learned how to do that.
Not everyone who has time is necessarily Sober.
I am ok tonight. A little bit more at peace.
At some point we quit fighting everyone and everything, and we stop and pick up that simple kit of tools laid at our feet, and we begin …
To learn how to Live Sober.
“If your marble jar is empty, you don’t have it to give away.” “Do you have marble jar friends ?” “What is a marble jar friend ?”
Trust – is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.
This mirrors A Vision for You, when it says: “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I have a marble jar. I’ve been working to fill it, over these very trying months of my life.
And I have spent time listening to Brene Brown, Timber Hawkeye and others talk about The Anatomy Trust, Vulnerability, Shame, Guilt, Peace, Letting Go, and the Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and finally, The Fuck It List…
When my emotional roller coaster left the station, I observed something that shook me to my sober core. My friends, fellows, sponsors, allies, did not want to hear my pain. They did not want to listen to me, honestly and compassionately, and without judgment.
As the months wore on, the people who did not want to listen to me, became afraid of me, and some, even asked me to go from meetings because of their fear factor.
Men and Women who were double-digit sober, MUCH more double digit sober than I am right now, thought out loud that “Oh, you want us to treat you special, unlike everyone else in the room!” No … I just want to be treated as a human being in difficulty.
I have friends, well, they’re not friends any more, who just cannot sit with me and listen to me talk when I need to talk. If only to hear words come out of my mouth, that seem important to me in the moment.
Yesterday I was sitting with a friend, well, I thought she was a friend. We were talking about HER. There is a situation on the table, she wants to invest in. And she wanted me to walk her through this process, because I have personal experience, in this area.
I have friends, well, fellows, who will invest every dollar of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves with people far away, or on people who have a very low R.O.I. (Return on Investment).
I’ve been floundering here in my own stew of emotional and mental soup for months, and every time I want to talk to and/or in front of these people, they tell me to SHUT UP.
I’ve learned that I have a choice in the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY …
I don’t have to engage in every problem in a room. And I don’t have to invest in something that is wasteful and/or a waste of time.
I’ve done this over and over again.
Timber says that WE need to be LIGHT.
Light as in a LIGHTHOUSE.
A lighthouse is static. Stands in one place, and shines its light for ships to see to navigate away from rocks and danger.
For years and years, I thought I needed to shine my light in people’s faces, as if to say …
“Here is the light, do you see it, I am the light …”
NO, WRONG …
I just have to sit still and be present, and keep my mouth shut until it is necessary to speak.
One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar.
It is apparent to me now, many months later, that as long as I am serving other people, talking about what THEY want to talk about, and helping THEM, as long as the conversation is serving THEM, everything is kosher.
As soon as there is a break in the stream of consciousness, and I turn from helping THEM into hoping they will listen to ME, to help ME, that’s when they tell me to SHUT UP.
Does that seem right to you ? Because it doesn’t seem right to me.
Timber tells us to make a list of our CORE VALUES. Write them down. All those things that we want to be, the men and women we want to become.
When you finish writing, take that list and compare it to WHO you ARE right now.
Right away, we begin to see just how much work we have to do with US, to become the people we want to be.
I have that same list for my friends. People are people and I have to let them be who they are, without expectations, judgments or conditions.
We have to allow people to be who they are warts and all.
But in these times of troubles and strife, I need my friends to help me. I bowed down and asked for help. I’ve asked people to help me, to rise up and do for me when I could not do for myself.
Barely a handful of those people did RISE UP and helped ME.
I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be the voice of reason and sobriety. Not everyone wants to listen to me give them unsolicited advice, because someone, or a friend is in difficulty. I gotta let them work it out. And not get involved in their spiritual journey.
That is one of the Great Sins …
One, to get in the way of YOUR spiritual journey, and TWO, getting in the way of someone Else’s spiritual journey.
I’m tired of my friends, telling me to just SHUT UP.
The fact of life, when you are sober is, Life Does Not Stop, It Keeps On Going.
I know that feelings pass, as the days go by. The less we hold on to impermanent things, the better off we are. I’m sad about the death of a man who was uber talented. But that was yesterday. Being so many degrees separated from the epicenter of tragedy, tells me that I can mourn and move on.
So we move on.
I left really early, so I could commune with the dead via music. I arrived at the church with PLENTY of time to do my thing, ALONE. About ten minutes to seven, I was finished setting up and I went to sit outside.
Squirrels were bouncing through the tree canopy. And something very spiritual happened. Something I know to be true to me, that hasn’t happened in a very long time.
Birds are a very significant signs in my life. As I was sitting outside on the steps, I looked in a tree nearby, and there was a Red Breasted Robin sitting in the branches.
She came out of the tree, and landed about six feet from where I was sitting. And she came close and ran around the ground around where I was sitting.
The red breasted robin is significant, because the robin is a spiritual manifestation of my grammy. When ever she comes to visit, it is the robin who shows up.
All my dead relatives came back as birds. My grammy, my grampy and Memere.
That was spiritually significant. I had not been visited like that in a very long time.
We sat a full house, and then some. Lots of visitors from out of town. We are amid the summer visitor rush. The Friday night meeting is unique in many ways. There is not another meeting like ours, in all the city, on the English side.
Tonight’s read spoke about: The Honeymoon. Or as some may call it, the Pink Cloud period that sometimes takes place, in the weeks and months following our entry into the rooms.
Once you sink into your chair and you find your voice, one begins to participate in greater abilities. It seems, for some, that the realities of life, have been suspended.
We spend a little time with our fellows, and some of those fellows become friends as we find our ways. That is a good thing. We may need a little respite from the insanity we have come to learn how to let go of.
My warning to newbies is always the same …
You might be sitting on your pink cloud and everything seems in order as the insanity you walked away from is abated for a while. But like all things natural, life does go on around us. It just does not take a vacation.
It is just waiting for us. And hoping that we’ve learned something minimal by now is the key, so that when the cloud edge comes, you don’t fall off of it, and hit the ground with a THUD. Some go back out, and drink and use again, shit happens.
I’ve seen this happen. So I encourage our men and women to stick close to others in the rooms. Find commonalities. Use the rooms as they present themselves to you.
You CAN, figuratively, GET anything you need from the rooms. That worked for me famously. But times have changed. The rooms fifteen years ago, are not the rooms of 2017.
For me, the first eleven months were really great. I was connected. I had a sponsor that i was connected to with an umbilical cord through my first anniversary.
Sobriety, like life, happens, and sometimes sober people do really Un-Sober things.
At the eleventh month mark, I met my then boyfriend, and the race took off.
That Christmas of 2002, hubby went home to Ottawa and he gave me keys to the apartment we live in today, and said I could stay here, while he was gone.
I never left … tee hee
That was the beginning. Once that train left the station, it never stopped.
The honeymoon was definitely OVER.
Learning how to have a sober relationship took A LOT of work. Learning how to be responsible for another human being, was the beginning of my reaching the point I had been looking for for the whole of my life.
When does a boy become a man ??? Gay or Straight, the answer is the SAME.
Boys become MEN when we learn to put the needs of our significant others before our own.
Putting a home together took YEARS.
This apartment was sterile, dirty white. Take out containers were all over the place. The tv was black and white and had rabbit ears. We did not have a computer. We did not have food in the fridge. We did not have two nickles to rub together.
There were 300 empty beer bottles on the balcony, that took months and months to return, so we could buy groceries. Hubby was a pot head, so we had to cleanse the apartment of weed, rolling machines and papers … UGH !!!
Yesterday I was reorganizing the closet and I found another rolling machine, and a package of papers … Does this ever end ???
Needless to say, it was one thing after another. Mental illness happened. I learned how to care for my boyfriend who was sick for almost a year. That was a huge challenge.
Then he woke up, and we got married …In November 2004.
The Honeymoon was deferred until December that year. Things were honeymoonish for a few weeks.
That did not last for long.
Thirteen years would pass, until that final PROMISE came to pass …
Fear of People and of Economic Insecurities will leave us …
The grind of life took us on a life changing journey together. And we survived it.
In year thirteen and beyond life got exponentially better.
It was clearly NOT a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.
We both worked our asses off. Went back to school, we amassed 5 University degrees between us.
Sobriety grew on us and not without its challenges.
Life is SO much better today than it was a little more than fifteen years ago.
I had 11 months of non stop meetings. I had 11 months of a sponsor who was part of my life on a daily basis. I had aftercare rehab counseling for two years when I got sober this time. I had everything I needed and NOT a single thing more.
I worked my ass off, for twelve years in sobriety, before BOB came into my life and turned my sober life upside down. I thought I was doing everything right, WRONG …
Bob introduced me to Intense Prayer and Meditation, like I had never heard before.
Three – Seven – Eleven …
My sobriety was definitely enhanced.
Twelve through fifteen was all about learning MORE about the book.
Year Fifteen has been one Hellacious, Terrible, Emotional, Nightmare.
I never want to go through this kind of pain ever again in my life.
In ten days, I will be Fifty years old.
It works if you work it.
One thing I know for sure is that if you were to make that call in a rage it would never bring you peace, but then again, neither would living without closure. The peace you are looking for will come to regardless of what your family does or does not do. That must be your goal, to reach conclusive harmony independent of what they choose to be.
Your question is insightful. What do we do with the horrible truth? What do we do with a justified rage? It is all fine and well to say “love thy neighbor, and honor thy father and mother,” but then those people do something like this. What then?
First, you cannot diminish or try to deny the fact that the rage is there. Sometimes good Christians try to bury emotions like these because they don’t feel like a christian should ever have them, but we do. We can’t just hope for them to disapear. Emotions, like energy, are neither created nor destroyed. They only change forms under certain conditions, and that is exactly what can happen to this last complex of work for you to do.
It requires certain catalysts in order to break down a mass of pent up anger. You have to fill your soul with so much light that it forces the darkness into submission. Coming to peace with something as entrenched as this requires your own personal Gethsemane. When the spirit of Christ is at work, it can literaly break down the worst in our lives. The spirit of Christ comes to us in the form of truth, so we have to saturate our minds and hearts with it. We feast on the scriptures. We pray with an intensity we have never known. We meditate on things as they really are, as they really were, and as they really will be. We plead with God to do the real work for us.
Then, slowly but surely, we start to feel our anger changing shape and flavor. It gradually undergoes a change from rage into strength. The storm becomes calmed. The huge tangle of emotions has been examined, undone, and ironed out into a clear vision. We realize that we haven’t cast aside the rage, we have transmuted it into something useful and not destructive to ourselves and others. When you can think of it all, all that they did, and all that they might yet do, with that calm inner strength, that reassurance that you are at total peace and they have no more power to effect you in any way, when you have achieved that firmness of mind not to be swayed in your resolve to maintain your peace, then you can do anything, even look them all square in the face, and whatever they do, whether they vomit up all their old bile over again, or beg your forgiveness, it would change nothing about how you feel in your own shoes.
At that point you have taken the high ground. If they lash out, it is like a man shouting at the sea to stop producing the tide. You have united yourself with a force of nature, the creator of nature, and you cannot be stopped or swayed. They might choose to struggle with their own poison for the rest of their lives, but you will be free.
As to what God thinks of you and your situation, if you fill your mind with enough light to dislodge this hurdle in your progress, his desires for you will be revealed so naturally you will hardly have to ask. Light shows us the pathway we need to travel. The light of spirit reveals the mind of God. God knows better than any of us what it is to endure injustice and shame. We took upon himself such a load of it that it defies human comprehension. There is no better source to go to learn to pass through it, because he knows it so well.
My advice? Find peace. Take the high ground. Then you will not be asking for closure from them. You will already have closure regardless of what they say or do or think. Then, if you feel ready, in your mercy, you might give them one final chance to have closure, and if they refuse it you will pity them, but no longer hate them.
Where we are today is a direct result of decisions we’ve made as far back as ten years or lifetimes ago, and as recently as last night.
We have a tremendous personal responsibility for the way our life has turned out, and an equally important role of steering it into the future. Although we constantly make decisions, we’re not always mindful of their far reaching consequences.
Here is the catch: the path of LEAST resistance will often take you farther from your destination than the seemingly more difficult one, but an easy trek in the wrong direction is ultimately far more exhausting and devastating than the uphill climb toward euphoria.
Instead of looking to blame others for your dilemma, look within. Any circumstance (no matter how devastating it may seem), is not only caused by a past event, but is actually a blessing if we gain wisdom from it. History doesn’t have to repeat itself if we can learn from our mistakes the first time around.
Treat every living being, including yourself, with kindness, and the world will immediately be a better place.
Buddhist Boot Camp pages 17,18…
If you really want to do something,
you will find a way.
If you don’t, you will find an excuse.
E. James Rohn
I’ve been dealing with another round of rage and anger. The book says I need to pray for those I resent and are angry at. I say No to that idea, categorically.
I will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER utter one word of prayer for my father, my mother, or my brother, in no uncertain terms. I don’t care if it eats me alive. As long as I don’t drink over it, so be it.
I will never offer God my words of prayer because of choices they made in my life. I would never ask God to give them ANYTHING, EVER. That would be a waste of my good prayer life, my prayer energy and my values and morals.
God knows what needs to be done about this situation.
Twenty years ago, I made one decision about my life. I never thought about the far reaching circumstances that would arise from that one decision.
Sixteen years ago, I made a second decision, which brought me here to Montreal. The only goal I had in mind for myself was the better life I wanted for myself. I never imagined that it would get this good, or that I would live this long to see it happen.
Now, in hindsight and a little Buddhist Boot Camp, I see just what circumstances befell me in making those two critical decisions in my life and where they took me to date.
Fifty is just days away now …
Gratitude really matters.
That which makes your heart beat, the name you give it, isn’t as important as the appreciation you have for it.
Let go the need to know.
Is my behavior in line with my values ???
This response, was sitting in my box since I got it, and it applies directly to something I am going through right now. Forgot it was there, so I had to find it and post it for posterity.
You had quite the birthday this year. Any time spent with the “littles” as I call them is a blessing.
It wasn’t long ago, about a month or so, that I was on the phone with my friend Mary, the woman I took care of and her daughter when she moved back here.
Lu Lu heard my name every day. She saw me almost every day. I talked to her, and on the odd occasion, I would get he undivided attention. That was Joy.
So one night, a little while back, I was on the phone with Mary. Lu was in the tub. And Mary said to her, Jeremy is on the phone. Say hello to Jeremy… And for the first time in her life, she said my name. It was pure joy.
a little joy before more serious topics.
A while back, my cousin Carol died. I had decided to call my mother, whom I had no spoken to in fourteen years. She cursed me when I arrived in Montreal, telling me that if either she or my father died, nobody would call me and nobody would tell m where they were buried. I took that as a direct word of goodbye.
My parents are “Light Switch” humans. If you piss them off, or deviate from the family gospel they preach, they shut off your light. They put you in the dark, they cop resentments and they carry them for lifetimes.
I watched them do that to countless family members while I was growing up. And to this day, those people are still in the dark, never to see the light of day ever again.
So I decided to call my mother and talk to her, to try and get something proper from her.
I am an idealistic man, who on one side believes that one day, everyone will grow up and become human beings again. And one day come to the table and talk.
That never happened. My bad.
Family is at the root of most of my past pain and heartache. Because when i got sick and almost died, they all walked away and told me to just die already.
So my mother says to me that, “I was the cause of all of her problems, from the day i was born, till the day I left home.” It was all my problem. And she said assorted other hateful things as well about family that I talk to today, and she does not.
So hasn’t spoken to her sister in over thirty years. My aunt is also on the dark list like me.
Then she hung up on me. Naturally, I was devastated, and it took me a couple of months to get over that conversation.
Mary’s parents celebrate 50 years of marriage on the 13th of August. I sent a card to New Found land last week.
I also wrote a three page letter to my mother and father. Explaining just who was the cause of whose problems. It was not all about me, it was about the choices, both my mother and father made, well before I was even conceived. Because for years while I was growing up, my mother and father used to boast, quite openly to whomever was around, just HOW I was conceived, and where.
That would have been in the back seat of a Ford GTO at a certain Drive Inn Cinema, we were all familiar with, back home in Connecticut. We were all part of that grand story.
A story I reiterated to my mother in my letter last week.
I explained how my alcoholism took me to pitiful incomprehensible demoralization and just how bad it really was.
And also that when I moved away, nobody wanted to know where I was going, or how I was going to survive. And that has been the problem the whole of my adult life.
Nobody wanted to know, nobody really cares and to this day, none of them, my father, mother or brother, want to speak to me because of their perceptions of just HOW life went down for them. And they all blame me for their perceptions as how life went down.
We all have a story about life, based on our personal recollections and perceptions. This becomes apparent when sober people attempt to make amends to family.
My family is neck deep in denial and alcoholism. That subject was Never spoken about in our house.
And when I left home, I was an alcoholic, It was terribly bad in my twenties. I just managed to work out my drinking career for longevity, until I finally put the drink down fifteen years ago.
Is it all my fault ? Does no one else in my family bear any responsibility for the way they treated me, abused me and said abominable things to me when I came out and got sick?
My parents have a bible, they never open nor read. Yet they can quote the seven deadly scriptures as if they studied them theologically. They can throw an arrow with pin point precision, at fifty paces and always hit their mark.
Somewhere in my deluded soul. I believe that every human being has redeeming quality, and that one day, that will make all the difference.
So I wrote this letter, and I sent it a week ago, and today it would have hit its mark. I know I will not get a response, because my parents have hardened their hearts against God and me.
I will never get a fair hearing.
A while back, I read a book about Toxic Parents. It was all about my abusive father, and my silent mother.
In the book, the writer, a PHD talks about the confrontation. That time when some one gets their day in court, to say all those things we need to say and she tells you how you are going to speak the words, from what direction and with what inflection and tone.
i will never get that day, Ever. My parents will probably go to their graves, bitter, angry and spitting hateful words as they suck their last breath.
That is really not a nice thing to say, coming from me right now, but it is the truth, as I see it.
I just don’t know if I really should invest an inquiry to investigate if the letter achieved what I needed it to do. It was a literal shot in the dark.
I know, that talking to estranged family always turns into heart break and weeks of pining and moaning in meetings about things I should not have done in the first place.
I know that in my case, trying to teach old dogs new tricks is pointless and will be fruitless, based on the depth of their denial and sickness.
I am going to be 50 next year. They will be married 50 years as well. And try as I might, at my age right now, I just wish I could finally make peace, one way or another. And I am not quite sure if that would even be successful, since my mother and father still blame me for all of their problems to this day. I’ve been sober a long time and I am tired of fanning this flame.
What does one do in cases like this ? Do we ever get peace and hope? Because my love hate relationship with then is sunk in hate and has been for ages.
What happens when we turn 50 ? Because I know what happened to me when I turned 40 and beyond. My entire world shifted, in ways I was aware of in ways I had never knew before.
I am trying to age gracefully with the time I have left, because I am living on borrowed time, the grace of God and several bottles of assorted pills I have to take daily to survive.
My parents don’t get that either.
I’m not sure where this is going or what I need from this note, but I know you will pray on this and what ever words you get, you will send back.
I hope you and the missus are well and the young adults are all fine. I think of Micah quite often and wonder how he is doing. We don’t get to see him very often.
Anyways, it is way late now and I should go get some sleep.
Thanks for listening.
In the month of March, this year, I was preparing for my trip to New Foundland and needed some books, knowing there would be no entertainment while I was there.
I was at my favorite book seller and I actually picked up “The Mountain Shadow” from the shelf, first, because it looked like quite a meaty book, at 873 pages.
When I reached the word “Sequel,” I was like damn … Now I have to read the first book, Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. When I got on the plane on April 13th, I began reading Shantaram, at 933 pages.
It took me more than a month to complete that read, and I was not disappointed by any stretch of imagination. I loved that book from start to finish, and I gushed about it here.
That’s 1806 pages in total. April 13th to July 15th.
One of my followers warned me about The Mountain Shadow. So I went into the book, with a shadow of my own. I finished the book, because I always try to finish a book, I had begun to read. That is not always the case though.
I felt obligated to read the whole book, to dispel the shadow I went into it with, and to figure out what I would eventually say about it here.
I really missed Prabaker. His smile, his love, and his charm.
“The Mountain Shadow” had its cast of characters that were well written and fleshed out. The First book in a series is usually better than the sequels that follow. That is a usual trend in many series I have read over time.
The Mountain Shadow was a bit darker and much more intense, with the story unfolding into a new chapter of Shantaram’s life. I had to reach the conclusion, to find out if, in the end, Shantaram had found redemption and had figured out his life.
It was not the end I was looking for. I was hoping for something with a little more depth, so the end fell short for me. I’m not giving anything away in saying that. If you want to know why, then you’ll have to read the series from start to finish as I did.
Being in recovery from drugs and alcohol, and reading this series is like smoking and drinking with every word on the page. Everything is book-ended with a chillum and a drink it seemed.
Gregory says at the end of the story that:
This novel depicts some characters who are living self-destructive lives. Authenticity demands that they drink and smoke and take drugs. I don’t endorse drinking, smoking or drug taking, just as I don’t endorse crime and criminality as a lifestyle choice, or violence as a valid means of conflict resolution. What I do endorse is doing our best to be fair, honest, positive and creative with ourselves and others.
Shantaram comes to Bombay to find a life. Because he is fleeing a life in prison.
Did he find that life ? Yes, I think so. Was he honest, Yes I think so.
I believe he had to do what he thought he had to do to survive, in the choices he made to do what he chose to do in the story. Behind the work Shantaram did, there was honesty, love and devotion. That is clearly evident.
Shantaram knows loyalty and love. He learns these two things in the relationships he has with many of the men and women he works for, and those he serves in the Island City.
I’ve known my share of alcoholics and I’ve also known my share of drug dealers. The drug dealers I knew in my past, were good people. They had good hearts even if those hearts were wrapped in weed and alcohol.
I don’t hate them, nor do I scorn them either. They did what they did, because those were the cards they were dealt.
Behind the dirty, crime ridden, drug infested, alcohol swilling story of survival, is a story about love, honor, loyalty and in a way redemption.
We all have lives to live. It might take some time, but if I am honest, at some point we find the vocation we are meant to live out, eventually.
It is all about the Positive Attributes and the Universe that exists around us. Our connection to all that is, in the service of the many, to the good of all.
We are to bring positive attributes into the world, in our lives, in our relationships and in our work. The greater good you bring into your world and the world, the better off we all are.
Shantaram and The Mountain Shadow are worth your Time, Effort, and Devotion.
Gregory David Roberts did a fine job in telling a total story.
Here’s the story of my homecoming! Thanks for the challenge and for the trip down memory lane.
November 22nd, 2016, came so much faster than I thought it would. My mission seemed to end as fast as it had begun. The last few days where a whirlwind. We had to make transfer calls, pack bags, prepare the area for the next elders, and all at the same time, I was trying to process exactly what it would mean to go through such a radical change.
We had a final devotional in the Laurier Chapel, and we all took turns sharing the highlights of our missions. There was not a dry eye in the room. It felt so good and hurt so much all at the same time. The day finally did come, and on the way to the airport, it felt unreal, as if it where all a dream and I was going to wake up any minute. I couldn’t believe I was going to see my parents and my sisters again after years being apart.
We arrived at the airport, and I shook hands and hugged the same Elders I had trained with in the MTC two beautiful years earlier. I still keep in touch with every one of these lifelong friends. When the plane took off, I looked out one last time at the Saint Lawrence river, and had to hold back my tears. It was as if I were leaving home all over again. My friends and my family were down there. People that I loved deeply and was so sad to leave. I was leaving wards and branches that had loved me and my companions, taking care of us, supporting us in our work, and becoming lifelong friends.
I was working so hard that I hadn’t even had a chance to get my hair cut. It was much longer than I would have liked, and it probably looked a bit sloppy. I was wearing the same trench coat that I wore on my first night as a missionary in Joliette Quebec, freezing clear down to my bones and wondering how I would ever survive in this place where I could not even speak the language. Today was cold like it had been then, the same time two years ago.
Missionaries stick out like sore thumbs to other members of the church, and several times, people would come up and ask “Are you coming or going, Elder?” It felt good to be surrounded by community even in such a strange place. The hours ticked by in that airport, and I started realizing just how tired I really was.
I was drained to the core. My body mind and spirit had gone to their limits. Now that I literally had nothing to do but wait, it was as if my whole soul finally breathed a sigh of relief. I wandered over to my terminal and sat down, feeling like a washed up piece of driftwood. I somehow felt like I still had energy, not tired enough to try and sleep, but I was just worn completely out. I felt totally emptied. I don’t remember how long I sat there, in that weird state.
I was jarred back to reality by a voice asking “Elder! How are you?” I looked up to see a lady, clearly a member of the church, holding half a pizza in her hand. “Elder” she said “I can’t eat the rest of this, would you like some?” She had hardly touched that Pizza, and it was probably a lie, but suddenly it downed on me that I hadn’t eaten in hours, and I was so tied up in my thoughts that I hadn’t even realized how hungry I was.
They opened and there was a huge shout as I was welcomed home by a crowd of friends and family. There were posters, there were balloons. Mom hugged me first, then Dad, then my sisters. My lips were really dry, because I smiled so wide that I actually split my lip. My uncle and aunt with my cousins were there too. We drove home, and we talked about so much. It was late at night when we pulled into our driveway.
As is tradition in our family, we knelt down to pray together before we all went to bed.
It still felt weird to be alone, and besides that, I still wasn’t released from being a missionary, so the rules of having to be with a companion 24/7 still applied. We talked a little before falling to sleep. We reached the same conclusion. It had been a hard two years. It had also been the best thing we had ever done in our lives.
The stake president, who reads directly from the assignment given by one of the twelve Apostles, lays his hands on the missionaries head, usually with his/her father and everyone else in the family who has been ordained to the priesthood. He sets you apart as a missionary specific to the area of the world where you have been called by inspiration to serve, and blesses you with all the rights, powers and privileges you need to teach the gospel, along with any other blessings he feels inspired to give you.
A release, on the other hand, is much more direct, simple, and even abrupt. President Nelson, the counselor who released me, came over to our house. We had a short talk about my mission, and we enjoyed catching up on each others lives.
He then said, “Elder Christensen, are you ready to be released?” I said something about being ready. His next words stung. He said: “Then Brother Christensen, acting under the authority of President Christensen, I release you from your obligations as a full time missionary.” I instantly felt different. There was a moment of silence. Then he quietly said, “Its time to take off your tag.” I did so. I stared at it for a few seconds with a deep sense of loss.
Nothing pisses me off more, than a room of few people, an hour fifteen for a meeting, 45 minutes to share, and a chair with the penchant for egg timing people from the chair.
I go to meetings to listen to my friends. And I go to meetings to hear God speak to me. And if the share gets to me, you bet your ass, I am going to take all the time I want.
We have two Hasidim men who come to our meetings out of their communities. We had a woman who had just days, and she was in pieces trying to get her words out. There were old timers who just sat there and tutted me every time I said to the chair to put his goddamned egg timer down and let people finish.
It wasn’t like we were pushed right up against the hour. No we had 45 minutes, and everyone should have gotten the time they needed to speak.
And Be Damned your Egg Timer … Damn it to Hell.
I made it a point, when our Jewish friends came, to make them feel comfortable and welcomed and supported and all. They usually come in late and have to catch up, which means, if time allows, you Let Them Talk, for Christ’s sake !
I never egg time anyone. And I’ve never egg timed anyone in a meeting that I chair. Not in all the years I have chaired any meeting in this city. There are very few occasions that I’d stop someone from going on and on and on. We all know, in the rooms, who they are.
The last time I had to kettle someone was after the election and a man started ranting and raving about politics and Donald Trump, at a Friday Meeting. We don’t do politics in the meeting. That’s in the Preamble.
The share got to me, and I had things to say, and I picked up my phone and said to the chair that, “I had 30 minutes to speak, and I was going to take every minute I wanted.”
My former sponsor and her boyfriend were sitting in the circle TUTTING me.
That meeting is the hall at St. Leon’s where I got sober. The room where I saw God. The room that has been a weekly fixture in my sobriety for more than 15 years.
And you’re gonna egg time me ??? You Fucker …
**** **** ****
This morning I went to sit for my first design appointment for my birthday tattoo. My guy did not show. This is the image of the tattoo as my consultation began. The boy on the stairs, walking towards time, over the ocean.
It is a black and white image. No color to speak of.
The discussion went along, and we eliminated the clock works from the image. The clock is now a spiral configuration. The stair case is also Spiral, with the boy climbing a Spiral set of stairs, and in my mind’s eye, his shirt is red.
We are going to go along a blue theme. Having One Color, and many hues, is much cheaper than going full-bore, with many colors on the same tattoo.
The reason being is that your paying by the hour. Each color is, in and of itself, one set of color. And every time you have to change colors, you have go to through a cleaning process, eating your time and your money.
The outline is black. The ocean is blue, and whatever else needs to be colored will be a hue of blue, except my required red shirt on the boy.
The Clock denotes … TIME.
The Past, The Present and The Future.
The Stair Case … Is self-explanatory if you are in recovery.
We all know what Stairs or Steps mean.
The Ocean … Is life in all its turbulence.
The Boy’s shirt is … RED. A nod to my journey with AIDS.
One single shot of color. And the boy is going UP the stairs.
Not looking back or coming down. He is moving forwards.
The Clock is ticking, The steps are in front of you, and the water is gurgling below.
The Journey Home …
There is also a Kryon Parable about Michael and the Angels. A story I’ve read over and over again. Michael has suffered a terrible tragedy, the loss of his parents, he is living a dead-end life, and there is no one special in that life either. He gets mugged and almost killed. While in the ER he has a vision of an angel, who he tells, “That all he wants is to go home!”
The angel facilitates his way out of the hospital after a benefactor pays his bill and tells him to pack his things and prepare for the Journey Home.
In the story there are seven angels who teach Michael about life, in seven very colorful houses along the way. The last house is the House to go HOME.
Michael’s final walk, is up a staircase, to a door marked HOME.
Then he threw up …
If you’ve never read the story, you won’t get the last sentence.
People who know me, know I am a gentle man. And I never raise my voice or get angry. But the last few months has changed all that. I am more apt to speak my mind a bit more openly, even if it pisses my friends off and imbalances the power in the room.
I may not be in the chair, but if you displease me, you will know it for sure.
I’ve never walked out of a meeting before, ever.
Tonight I did … Wanting a drink !