Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Addiction

Thursday – If I sit down …

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeed

Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

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

Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

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

Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …


Human connection and love is what we need to be addicted to

indexLifted from: McGuire on Life, Disability and Grief

A while back, I was introduced to Tim McGuire’s blog by someone I respect and admire. He is one of the most insightful men I read on a daily basis. Go, Read Back, Identify.

I read an immensely powerful and provocative story this weekend that has me thinking about our journey.

The story attempts to debunk the long-held belief that the drug causes addiction. It has always been a bit of a no-brainer that heroin, cocaine and alcohol cause us to become addicted. I have always subscribed to the theory that some people have the “gene” and some don’t. This story takes a totally different approach and argues that human isolation is the real issue. The argument seems logical and the research seems convincing. The author, Johann Hari, who has written the book,  Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs writes, “Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find –the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.” The writer draws this conclusion: “So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

That strikes me as nothing short of profound and sets down an extraordinary challenge for all of us. If addiction comes from loneliness and isolation then certainly the addicted person owns some of that. As a friend of mine says, “It’s an inside job.”

Yet, I am taken by our fundamental obligation to love people fiercely and with joy. I have become preoccupied lately with that overpowering sense that I need to love people openly and with abandon.

It is only in the last couple of years that I have become willing to tell male friends that I love them. And, I notice that the expression of affection is more often greeted with enthusiasm and a return of the emotion these days.

As the “me” culture seems to become more rampant, selfishness tends to overwhelm us. It strikes me as logical that selfishness leads to isolation for others in or around our lives. If we are all focused on ourselves that leaves little time and space for embracing the lonely and isolated.

I find brief but important connections can be made with a joke and friendliness in the coffee shop, the grocery story and even on walks around campus. It is naive to think that each connection we make can save someone from addiction. However, a habit of friendly connection strengthens the human bonds between people and just might make other addictive “bonds” superfluous.

Tim J McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance


Thursday … It’s Better to be on the Inside

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitWe are sitting at a balmy (-1c/-7c w.c.). Today was grey and dreary. We did not even see the sun once today. And as I was leaving, snow fell over the city. It started slowly, but as we got to the church, it was really coming down. Just enough snow fell to pile up but not enough for a plow, however plows were out salting and carelessly and with no real effort, plowing the rut of the plow as it went by.

It was a careless day, I really did not have much to do, I sat and doodled around here for a few hours, then called it a day at 3:30 for an afternoon nap. I was up and ready to go by the time I had to go, and like I said, it was snowing when we left for the bus. Had I looked outside before I went downstairs, I would have chosen my rubber boots instead of my sneakers.

Cause they got WET !

It was a good evening. One of my friends spoke. I’ve known her since she came in, a few years ago. We travel in the same circles, and hit the same meetings during the week. There are several groups of young people who travel in packs all over the city.

The Girls, The Guys and The Gays.

Getting sober with your friends is the way to do it. Because when we were out there, many of us did not have many friends, and the ones we did have we eventually alienated them and ignored them into obscurity.

That’s a common theme amongst our young people.

It is also a really good thing that our young people embrace the thought that:

IT IS BETTER TO BE ON THE INSIDE … than on the outside.

That being on the inside, gives us the feeling of being part of, the direct opposite of how we felt when we were out there, being all alone in our misery.

All of our young people are in the rooms, and they are actively working and doing service.

Another common theme amongst our young people, is just that, they are young.

In the beginning when they first came around, they saw us old folks getting sober, and that little voice spoke to them saying “Aww you’re young, you still have a few years of good drinking and using to go, why get sober now, you can always come back when you are thirty or forty, and turn your lives around!”

So they may have stayed a bit, but eventually went back out only to prove to themselves that NO, they did not have any more youth to waste on misery and addiction.

Even then, the road was tough. The world is not kind to our young people. This is the third revelation for them, and in the beginning they found it a daunting process to stay sober, being so young and not having lots of them together (As they are NOW) It seemed to me, they came in, in stages and not all at once. So each of them needed to find their ways.

They did not initially get connected (As they are NOW).

That took some work, honesty, humility and self determination.

I can safely say that all of our young people are connected to home groups of their choosing, they are in their steps, and they are present all the time.

They are PRESENT in their recoveries.

Having them at the meeting tonight, gave us old timers the opportunity to speak to them and check in and chat for a bit. Our young people are truly kind people. We cheer for them and we hope for them, and in getting sober with them, we get to see them grow up into honest, humble young adults.

Growing up in the real world is a challenge for any human being, and many young people don’t make it. They come from other places, to Montreal, where it is Bright Lights and Big City, booze, liquor, beer and drugs are aplenty.

Many of them got caught in that web of misery, until they found their way to us.

Montreal is not New York, size wise. But you can surely find your way into depravity and darkness, because it is everywhere. Where there is a bar, there is darkness, for those who get caught up in addictive behavior.

Who didn’t Cheat, Lie and Steal, when they were out there?
Who didn’t ignore that little voice that said, “I don’t think you should do this!” and ignore it?”
And Who didn’t push the envelope when it came to MORE, and not More in a good way?

It seems to me that our young people suffered their own torment, and went to places they really should not have, but addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Their journey to hell. might have been shorter than ours, (We who came in much later in life, and went to the bitter end ourselves).

So they all now know, that had they stayed the course, they might not have survived, pounding the drugs and alcohol they way they did, because they were young and invincible…

We not only get to get sober with these young people, we get to participate in, hopefully a good way, in showing them how to grow up into sober adults. That this isn’t the end of the road for them socially, emotionally and mentally.

It takes a village to raise a child in the real world. It is no different in the rooms.

By being present to them, by listening to them, and by sharing with them, they listen to us and they either take it or leave it, but they are always respectful. Everybody in the rooms plays a part in raising our little village of young people.

There is no greater challenge for us than sponsoring a young person.

I mentioned at the top that many did not connect right away. Now, after several round ups and hearing how others, in other places got, and get sober, many of our young people are hooked into THE WORK. They are hooked up with sponsors who are taking them through The Work.

Hence … It is better to be on the inside, rather than the outside.

Hearing our young people talk about the rewards of sobriety so young fills my heart with joy.

Because that tells me that they’ve got it.

We just have to keep the fields fertile for them to flourish.

And that takes PRESENCE. Everybody’s presence.

Presence is the greatest gift you can give another human being.

All my guys, and all the girls, and all the gays are sober another night.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …


Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”

That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.

Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.

It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.

I had plans early this evening.

But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.

I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.

So I went back to bed.

I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.

Glorious !!!

We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.

How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?

Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.

I heard very familiar themes.

Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.

Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.

I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.

I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …

Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.

My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.

We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.

She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.

Not always knowing the WHY ?

In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).

And it was done that way with me when I got sober.

I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.

If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.

All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.

I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.

Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

  • One group are those who will die from the disease
  • Another group who will go insane
  • And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm

I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.

We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.

I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …

  • Go to meetings
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being

Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.

Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…

We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.

So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …

Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …

Yes, That Day …

  • The day we admit we have a problem.
  • And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
  • Now knows what the problem is,
  • Who the common denominator is,
  • And what we call it.
  • The disease of alcoholism
  • And then we ask for HELP

We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.

Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.

  • And if we are lucky,
  • and the stats are very slim,
  • we get sober,
  • and hopefully we are in it to win it,
  • and we stick and stay.

I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.

And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.

I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.

You got to be in it to win it.

I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.

And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.

We live life with enthusiasm.

Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Busy Day and … The Return

tumblr_l9aodkIKWb1qzk77co1_500 singlifessongCourtesy: Sing Life’s Song

Can I tell you how cold it is outside right now? (-11c/-15c w.c.) Brrrrrr…

After yesterday’s excitement and Boo Yah purchase, today had to get even better.

And it did.

Today was beauty day, well, my appointment with my stylist. The ever evolving haircut continues. Let’s just say, it is a work in progress.

Not to mention, on the train (that story is coming) on the way out there was a very very HUMPY Montreal police officer on the train, with a version of “the haircut” and I was like M.E.O.W. come arrest me please !!!!

When I left for the mall, I really had no plan beyond getting my hair cut.

You know what happens to me whenever I make a plan right?

God Laughs …

My sponsor is M.I.A. for the past two days, and I am having a love affair with his answering machine, which he jokingly replies when I say that is … “that is the safest relationship.”

So, I packed my bag with warm fuzzies and I left my headphones home, because, I wasn’t going anywhere far, that would require music to follow.

It was 12:30 and I was already out. And I put in an order at inter group for chips that I was going to go get tomorrow. Standing in the mall, I decided to check the service office hours, which were from 1 until 7 this evening.

I thought to myself that I would charge my Opus card, walk from the mall home to get my headphones, and walk to the next Metro Station, which is 3 blocks East of home. The mall is 3 blocks West of home, so that was my plan.

Did I mention that it was cold?

I chose not to go home, instead I got on the train and headed to the East End to pick up chips.

It was a 30 minute commute out East, and a trudge up the Olympic Park Hill, yes, that Olympic Park. The BIG O … Where the 1976 Olympics took place. There is a nice coating of ice citywide on all the sidewalks. UGH !!!

I am superstitious about chips.

  • Your sponsor is supposed to get your chip, (He asked me to get it instead)
  • You don’t get your chip prior to the actual anniversary
  • And you don’t touch your chip until it is handed to you by your sponsor

It is bad juju to break any of these conditions !

My chip was waiting for me, and I asked the kind lady to bag my chip and I shared with her my superstitions. (cue eye roll and the thought … Oh those alcoholics !!!) While I was there I purchased chips for my guys in advance, since I was there already, and their dates don’t come up for a few months, in any case, I have them all now.

Another 30 minute commute back to where I started, and had some Micky D’s for lunch, and then got home close to 3 in the afternoon.

I skyped with a friend who lives in Pittsburgh, and who is coming home for Christmas next week !!!

Cue Happy Dance …

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

The Return – A First Share

Our men’s meeting closed last week, which frees up a meeting night. Our little band of happy men decided that we would indeed return to the regular Thursday night speaker meeting at St. Matthias church, which is just up the road from St. Leon’s (where our men’s meeting met).

We arrived to a great welcome, since we haven’t seen folks on Thursday in 18 months. We were joking amongst ourselves on the bus that we should have worn our royal jewels, diamonds, sapphires and Gold !!! Really make a Liberace entrance …

You don’t know that you miss a certain meeting, until you spend a good amount of time doing something else. I missed this meeting. It has been a staple meeting for many years, and when we chose to open the men’s meeting, we knew we were knocking off tradition.

Anyways …

Lots of people I know, lots of people we all know. It was good.

My favorite human being, because he is stately and humble and kind was in the chair.

Our young speaker got up there, and knocked it out of the park.

Some meetings are hardline singleness of purpose meetings, where you can only talk about alcoholism and nothing but. And I’ve seen people get up and leave a meeting midway because someone up there says the word “Drugs!”

And in the 21st Century, what alcoholic is NOT cross addicted??? The numbers are staggering!

Guesses, anyone ???

It seemed that nobody gave a shit, in any case.

Our man got up there and told a story that tugged at my heart. I laughed, I felt sad, I felt sorry for him, and in the end, we were all proud of him.

You could have dropped a pin in that room, nobody got up, nobody left, nobody said a word.

Why?

Because we all respect the man who chaired the meeting, and the young man who got up there to share and because of the people who run that meeting. These are all truly respectable people, who do good things for all of us.

It is Grace when you get to sit in a meeting and hear a newcomer speak for the first time.

Because, how often and always, those of us with time, forget what it was like to be newly sober, or coming back, and have to get up there and share experience, strength and hope for the first time.

We all did it, many of us have forgotten what that felt like. And what it sounded like.

Tonight we were reminded, every single one of us in that room.

Our chair said afterwards, of the young speaker, that, “when I asked him to speak I did not know him, but when I asked him, he said yes, and now tonight, I know him a bit better.”

Never say no to a request to do any kind of service.

Bittersweet … The longer I stay, the worse it gets for some. Leave a meeting for a while, and then return, and witness people who decided to toss it away and go back out, only to show up and take another beginner’s chip. People with serious time go out, and it is unnerving. And it makes me think about either, what I am doing right? or what they are doing wrong?

There is a simple list of things to do to guarantee not going back out.

And I bang those things into my guys heads over and over…

Sadly, not everyone can exceed expectations. The revolving door still exists. And sadly, people I knew 18 months ago who were long sober, are once again, trying again. You never know what pulls people out the door, but I do … cunning baffling and powerful …

One moment of indecision, one lapse in thought, the 12 inch gulf between ones head and their heart.

How did they slip through the cracks? How does that happen when they used to be connected to a home group, doing service and staying sober?

I’m really grateful that I am sober another day. Because I know, in an instant, I could be right back there, hating myself and starting over. I choose not to do that, and I am willing to go to any length to stay where I am right now. I worked too damned hard to get here, to piss it away with a momentary lapse in judgment.

Serenity – Acceptance – Courage – Wisdom – Patience – Appreciation – Tolerance – Strength

The long version of the Serenity Prayer in brief …

A good day and a great night.

At least for tonight, all of our folks are sober one day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Beginning Again

tumblr_lbvzzftgHR1qacs5po1_500 everythingsmagic

Courtesy:EverythingsMagic

Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).

Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.

We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.

We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.

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

I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.

We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.

I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.

The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.

When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.

And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.

So that is a thing.

There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???

Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:

The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …

“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”

Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23

When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!

I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.

If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.

I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.

I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.

Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.

Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…

I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.

When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.

I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.

But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.

But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !

And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.

The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.

And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.

The rest is history.

All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …

It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.

“I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” Pg. 552


I May Not Have Another Recovery in Me … Reflections on Death

tumblr_ljxktkG7IG1qdizh9o1_500 lovepainandhopeCourtesy: Love Pain And Hope

It has been a very sad twenty four hours. And I am conflicted.

Up front we must remember that:

  • Never judge another human being, because you really don’t know the struggles they have.
  • Tolerance for those with different struggles
  • But for the grace of God, That could have been me.
  • Every Life is sacred, and we should never take life lightly, or decide to end it prematurely.

I have always said, that if I drank again, I am not sure that I would have another recovery in me because I have used up all my chits. People are talking. And once again, we face the stigma of mental illness and the added struggles of addiction and alcoholism.

I wonder if he had a sponsor? I wonder who he was talking to, because in the end, he wasn’t talking to anyone but himself. And the pain must have been immense to decide to take his life while there were people in the house that could have stopped him.

Married folks usually sleep in the same bed. But they did not. And he went to bed alone, got up alone, and took his life alone.

I’ve seen friends with twenty or more years of sobriety go back out and drink again. For some, to drink was a conscious choice. They knew they were going to do it and they did.

And if they do that, the odds on return get slim, the more time you have.

Alcoholism is the disease that in hushed tones, speaks to us, ever so quietly, “come on, you know you want one, and yes, you can have one, it really isn’t a problem.”

One of my close friends of many years, suffered from breast cancer. Beat it, went through surgery, chemo, reconstruction and came out the other end and one night at dinner, she drank, and not only once, it went on and on.

For months I spoke to her daily, and she did not tell me she wanted to drink, nor that she HAD drank. And one night at a meeting, she got up and took a desire chip. I was so angry. Words were spoken, and our friendship died in that moment. I haven’t seen her since.

It is common to watch people with substantial sober time go out and drink again.

It is terrible and sad.

My sponsor told us and others at the meeting that if we had a sponsor, made use of them, we did not drink, and hit a meeting and worked our steps, that we would not drink today.

His line is very simple… If I did not drink today, it was a good day.

I have several truths.

  • I suffer from depression
  • I have lost love to suicide, so I know how that feels, and what it took for me to recover.
  • I am an alcoholic, who by the grace of God, hasn’t had a drink in almost thirteen years.
  • Suicide is NEVER the answer. No matter what.

When James killed himself in 1993, I was devastated. I was the one who went to the morgue to identify what was left of him due to decomposition. And it was his mother who said to me on the day I signed his remains to be transported home that “For the rest of my life, I hope that when you close your eyes before you go to sleep each night, you see his dead body.”

To this day, if I close my eyes, I can see him lying on that gurney DEAD.

You know what I did on the way home? I went to the bar and drank myself into oblivion. And I did that for days, weeks, a month. Until Todd and Bill stepped in and got me help. I sat in a survivors of suicide group for weeks and weeks.

I’ve seen trauma, I have watched my friends die on my watch. When I was diagnosed I needed serious help. I was suicidal. But there were active people in my life who were there to help me and get me the help I needed. I was not alone.

Why was there nobody who knew what was going on with him? Where was his wife, who was in the house, who did not check on him, and left him there.

People suffer from the “2000 pound phone syndrome.” Addicts, alcoholics and regular people just like you. We’d rather suffer in silence, than pick up that phone to ask for help, because nobody would understand what we are going through and if we are in pain, we do not speak that pain for fear of judgment.

So we suffer in silence.

That is why we go to meetings, we have sponsors and we take numbers.

So that you are no longer alone and that someone will care when you decide to call.

Hubby is Bi-Polar. I lived through his diagnosis. I lived through months of testing drugs until we found the mixture that worked. And I live with the man he is today, because I remember the man he was when I met him. And I was In it to Win It. I married him for all those reasons we speak in our vows. I live them every day of my life. He is never alone.

So we restate that when someone goes out and drinks again, after however long they are sober, the chances of them returning are very slim.

There is a gamut of feelings that take place when we go out.

  • Shame
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Insecurity
  • beating ones self up
  • self loathing

I know I felt a number of these when I finally decided to come back. And it probably would have been worse, had I had a real chunk of sober time that I pissed away.

Which brings up another point. I know what was going on when I went out, and what mistakes I made with the decision to do what I did. TODAY, I know what happens when someone chooses to drink again. I am connected in ways I was never so connected, back in the day.

They say that we plan our slips. And there are only a few inches between us and that next drink. The space that lies between the bar top and our mouths. Just a reach away.

Addiction and alcoholism can be managed. But it takes someone willing to go to any length to stay sober. And even that is a slim proposition. I see people come in and warm a chair for months and months and then decide that a drink would feel better, and they drink again.

At some point we (read:Me) reaches out to a newcomer to get them connected to what they need to be doing so that they don’t have to make that decision. Once they are connected, the decision is already made for them.

I wonder what sober circles for celebrities looks like? Are they in it to Win It?

Depression, on top of addiction and alcoholism is a trifecta that can kill.

And it did. AGAIN.

Usually, when the pain gets so bad that you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, and you decide to either (1) get help or (2) take your life … there are options.

Suicide is Never an option.

But when we get into that tunnel vision of “all about me” and that “nobody cares or would understand the pain I am in” or “I just can’t face life on life’s terms and I need to get out” how do we help you out of that darkness?

That is why, in sobriety, we are connected to the people we work with on a daily basis. And if professional help is necessary, we help you find those resources so that you can get better.

It is an affront to God to take ones life prematurely.

Only God should choose the time and place of our deaths.

Because when you die, there will be a ripple effect on the water that will flash all over the earth, to whatever extent as your star has risen. So many questions. Why didn’t we know, why didn’t you ask for help, we could have prevented this man from taking his life.

There is no shame, pain or problem, that brought out into the light of day that cannot be surmounted and conquered. There are ALWAYS options.

You don’t have to die to kill the pain.

Because you take a little piece of all of our hearts with you to the grave. And for that we will never be the same. The closer to the event horizon the worse.

We spoke of gratitude tonight.

  • I am grateful for my sponsor, my friends, and my pigeons.
  • I am grateful that I have all that I need
  • I am grateful that I have the medication to take to keep living and be able to afford them
  • I am grateful that I have not had a desire to drink
  • I am grateful that there are people to call, and places to go so that I am not alone
  • I never get to the point that suicide is ever an option.

You DO NOT have to die to kill the pain. There are always options.

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is: 1-800-273-TALK.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol click: AA.org 24 hours a day.

Talk to someone, make that call. You are never alone.


Homeless, Hungry, Drunk and High … Redux. The Rebirth and Renewal

 

cabot 2I wrote this some time ago, well, a LONG time ago. July of 2007.

This is Cabot Square – and the Children’s Hospital to the Left of frame.

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

Since this writing took place, Cabot Square is now closed and fenced in. It is being re-purposed to reopen soon. The Children’s Hospital is slated for closure and demolition in 2017. It will become a great green space along with Cabot Square.

The area referenced the Stretch from our home towards Alexis Nihon, (the Old Seville Theatre) has been razed, and brand new condos were built on the site, which has rejuvenated this end of downtown. The Hotel du Fort, which was heavily populated by Native peoples was sold and is being turned into condos, so there is no place to stay unless you are a tenant or a condo owner in this section of town.

The Sports Bar on the corner has more than tripled in size all the way down to the Karaoke Bar, which is mentioned here as well. The Old Omer De Sere’s building is slated for rebuilding into brand new High End Condos. Which is across the street from the New Seville Condos.

Starbucks and a brand new Adonis grocery store fronts the Seville complex, on the ground floor.

The entire area around Cabot Square is under renovations. And only a couple of defunct shops still remain from the past, still boarded up.

The AMC Theatres were bought out by Cineplex Odeon, Which now owns the old Forum. But all the downstairs shops, eateries, and Future Shop have all since closed and the ground floor is now dark and vacant. Which is a terrible blight on the Cineplex building.

Pekarna and Tim Hortons is the saving grace for the ground floor shops. They both do good business.

The city hired Reintegration teams and counselors that have been teamed up together with Native men and women to address the problems that this posts addresses in detail. It took almost a decade to see these changes come into effect.

The Homeless are still on the streets. ALL of the men who were homeless that I reference here, are still on the street today in 2014. Dans Le Rue still ministers to the street kids and the missions and homeless shelters are still full to bursting. Fall is coming and soon, Winter will follow. And the homeless will need all the help they can get. But the city has finally found the money, time and commitment to see our most needy on the street are found, named, repatriated and or resettled here.

The Can/Bottle exchange does very good business daily. I see the same men and women coming in with boatloads/shopping cart loads of cans and bottles, and the Provigo keeps up with them, especially when there is an event on the strip.

The angry, belligerent folks I also mention below are gone now. But only one remains. She wants money and will swear obscenities at you if you don’t give and I’ve told her so on several occasions. But life has toned down in as many years with what we used to see on a daily basis.

There is business to be had, and the owners of the many businesses that have opened on this end of the strip will NOT tolerate the homeless or the squatters on the sidewalks, which has facilitated the purchase of prime street frontage where massive terraces now sit for the season until winter when they roll them up until next year.

I still see the same poor folks out front of the grocery stores, but not so many young people much any more. But every now and then.

It works when we purchase already prepared food, and we feed the poor when we can. But it is still overwhelming because I would go broke if I did that every day. And we are not rich people.

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

Posted:July 25, 2007 … I was six years sober at the time of this writing.

I guess I am not a thinker, by the standards of some. There are blogs that I read that put my writing of certain subjects to shame. I cannot tell you of the forest or the trees, the birds or the animals, the river or the trail.

I don’t talk about heavy metal drinking and the stupid things I did last weekend so that my friends can read just how much of an insane member of society that I really am. I have my own insanity in my sobriety. And just because I am sober, did not make it all better as I mentioned earlier tonight.

What can I tell you that would make you think? If you walk out the front doors of my building you face the BattleNet 24 Internet Gaming Station. They are always open and never close. There are three radio stations in the building that this cafe is located on the ground floor. The Towers, as I call it is a North – South facing building. We are an East – West facing building.

You cannot walk 50 paces in any direction from this building and NOT run into a busker looking for food, money and beer. There are two pubs located within 200 yards of our front door, and one karaoke bar with pool tables. Our Asian community loves karaoke. I live in what we call the Concordia ghetto area, since we are only a few blocks from campus.

There is an architecture museum across the street on Rene Levesque above the tunnel that I have visited before, when they had an open house and also they had a wonderful Expo ’67 exhibit on the anniversary.

There are 20 churches within walking distance of my home. Pentecostal, Evangelical, Catholic (French) and Catholic (English), Bethel Baptist and Franciscan friary that is due to be closed right around the corner from here.

Are you thinking yet? This will get your juices pumping… I wrote it some time ago on another blog I owned.

A fellow is dealing with the “homeless” factor in his ministry of life. And so I left him some words of advice, But I don’t know how else to tell you this, but share with you Montreal‘s daily ritual.

We have recycling posts (street collecting boxes – that have since been removed in opt for recycling in the stores primarily) all over the city where the homeless go and collect cans and bottles from these depots and they go to the grocery stores to exchange their “returnables” for more beer and wine money. They troll the kiosks and metro platforms and street garbage cans for returnable merchandise day and night. They ride the metro from one end of the city to the other every night. The stores will not sell beer and liquor after 11 pm to stem the problem. In Ontario you cannot buy liquor or beer on Sundays, but in Quebec you can.

So the tide of homeless drunks starts to rise as the stores open and they “stock up” for the morning. Downstairs on the corner (just outside) my front door they sit on the corner begging drugs and money. Out front of the grocery store and on every street corner and in the spaces in between, they sit like hookers who have claimed their spot on the sidewalk.

They are all over the place, “Literally!”

You cannot walk 50 feet in any direction in Downtown Montreal and not get begged for cash or food. Or smell POT in the air from the street kids!!! The kiosks are even worse. One cannot get through the door with out passing by someone sitting IN the doorway where you have to navigate around them, or find them sleeping, “Sprawled out” across the floor in doorways drunk and comatose!

They piss in the kiosks, they throw up on the floors, they beat each other up, and the men are “PIMPING” the women, so you see there is a whole “other” dynamic.

At night, as the evening “MEETINGS” commence they wait like buzzards for free coffee and what ever food is set out for the attendees. And they become belligerent and vocal and VIOLENT towards the people who want a cup of coffee and a cookie because that’s why we have coffee and cookies to help calm them down( the people in recovery). We have decided not to engage the homeless any longer and the city wide “homeless” directors (there are they in Montreal) men who run in homeless circles, powerless to affect change because people are set in their ways.

We have missions in town here that specialize in the feeding and housing of homeless people, every day and every night. The first problem is the sheer NUMBERS of homeless people who have migrated East from the west and up from the U.S. and down from the North, Yes, it IS a very sad reality.

There are natives who are stuck in the divide between their leaving their reservations for the bright big city, they don’t make it and end up hooking and begging in the park, they become addicted, well most are already addicted to something or other, when they get here, and they never return to their homes for fear of persecution and alienation, so they sit in the parks all day and night and troll the strip here in Downtown for cash. They are violent and painfully in trouble with each other. Come sit in Cabot Square with me and watch. It is truly sad.

IN the WINTER when the temps drop to (-20 C ) and farther, the homeless think that they can sleep in the kiosks because of the warmth of the trains, think again. They lock the kiosks at night and the homeless end up on the streets in doorways and under bridges and such. The missions go out with buses trying to get them off the street before they freeze to death. Some don’t make it and invariably, we loose a number of homeless people each Winter.

It is a rude saying, but, If you feed a stray animal they will continue returning to eat as long as food is available. And you know what that means. You will be spending allot of money on a problem that will not go away because of their lack of ability to get off the street and societies apathy to step up and help them as a community! “Oh, but it’s NOT our problem!”

Yes it is and no it’s not.

By whatever default – people end up homeless out of one circumstance or another. NOW, the reality is, DO they want off the street, if you ask any of them here, they will say NO!! So they choose to stay on the street, when they know that help is available and rehabilitation is possible.

Most of our homeless population will not ask for help, (the natives by example). They are a sad lot. Drunk, Addicted, Violent and Doomed by Default. Montrealer’s are FED UP with the population of homeless who have overtaken the streets and green spaces and Metro Kiosks. And the city does SQUAT!! They do nothing, they see nothing, they say nothing.

So what can we do as a religious body, to feed, clothe and assist the homeless, NOT Very Much.

It is a long standing problem with no city wide attention, as of yet. Most Christian people can talk the talk, but they cannot talk the talk and walk the walk for fear of being seen doing something that Jesus would have done, to go out on a Sunday and minister to the poor. Only one man I know did that from Dans le Rue – and he retired and moved away and someone else is taking care of his kids now.

Oh what would their friend and family say if they were seen cavorting with homeless people, God forbid they follow you home! or what happens if you get attacked by one on a bad day or night? Dealing with the homeless here is a dicey business, you never know when one will try to beat you up or stab you for some cash or drugs for their next fix. A homeless person is not above violence. Especially when it comes to jonesing off of drugs. That is for sure on any Saturday night or the full moon.

The “soup truck” cavorts through downtown daily feeding the multitude of young people who hang out at the Berri Metro selling drugs and hooking and such. It is very sad, that if you walk through the village on any corner at any time, they sit there, in their leather and spikes, boots and makeup, with their placards begging for food.

Some of our homeless populations are handicapped (in wheelchairs) and some of our young people have PETS!!! YES dogs and some have more than one. SO it is not only a feed the human story, it is a FEED THE PET AND THE HUMAN STORY!!!

How do we help them, well one at a time, rehabilitation is possible but at the end of the day it is useless. They stay on the streets because they know no different. The shelters and feeding stations are powerless and TOO POOR to feed the multitudes because the city won’t fund the missions and shelters. So individual churches go out and try to make a dent in the sea of the hungry and downtrodden, but alas, they are too numerous and we are too powerless to help so many who are in need.

The worlds poor, are rising in number and dying by the thousands daily in 3rd world and poorer countries, they are dying in the big cities, unnoticed by the daily hum and ritual of every day life and the business of work and survival.

Think before you put yourself out there and try to tackle a cities homeless problem, it takes alot of work, money, food and prayer. And not to mention Fortitude. I am all for helping the homeless, but I know how to pick my battles wisely. I don’t mean to sound so discouraging, but this is the reality in my big city!!

No one is immune to the homeless – we are called to share and to give – but when is enough enough?? If i gave a quarter to every homeless person I saw on the street every day, I would have NO money to feed myself on a daily basis.

THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY OF THEM TO COUNT AND HELP!!

What the saddest fact is in the homeless populations here are the women who have young children, and are on the streets. Just at Cabot square, the mothers work the Upper kiosk at the top of the escalators, and their kids beg at the bottom of the escalators. Junkie mothers with kids in tow, is terribly disturbing, Along with their “pimps” who abuse both the children and the mothers!!

What the fuck is that ??? And we are powerless to change them. Because they are stuck. There are NOT enough resources to help them off the street, get them into rehabs (waiting lists are 6 to 8 months in Quebec) and who is gonna take the children? Like family services has the ability to care for every homeless child and young person on the street? NO!!

There are natives from the many reservations and Inuit locales at all points North. They come to have their children cared for at the Children’s hospital right up the street from here. They pile out of vans, buses and cars. Some are transient and some are better off than others. When a native leaves their reservation in Quebec, it is every man and woman for themselves. Nobody gives a shit. And if they do not assimilate, they end up in a park and on the street, because they get “hooked on whatever” and they don’t repatriate.

There is – along Ste. Catherines Street a city block long mural on the wood that barricades the burned out and empty buildings that LITTER the West end of Downtown like broken defunct sentinels of lore. If you walk from here to Alexis Nihon Plaza, there are Inuit women who are vicious, belligerent, and sometimes violent. If you pass them by when they are drunk and high they swear obscenities at passersby.

They accost people for smokes and money. They are there, in the same spots day in day out… Because they have no place else to go. Cabot Square in the locale in my neighborhood where all native peoples gather. It is a rallying point for the “troops” so to speak. I pass homeless kids in front of the grocery store and I buy them cooked and prepared foods from the deli. We don’t give the kids cash, but we feed them. But they choose to stay on the street, so what are we supposed to do?

We write about these issues and nothing gets done, and I am not a rich aristocrat with money who is sitting on the land on the West end, and developers have not been able to get the land released for development. If it DID get released, we could clean up this end of the city and make it beautiful. But all we see when we walk down the street is hungry, homeless, drunk and high folk, and the burned out decrepit buildings that haven’t seen life in over a decade. The mayor does nothing…

Politics and Crime…

I could go on and on and on… But you get the picture.

If cities and local governments do nothing as they always have, this problem will continue. Until the Worlds governments take a BIG LONG LOOK at the homeless and hungry populations and they DO something concrete to stop it, we will be having this conversation until we all die.

This is a world wide problem, and no you are not alone in your quest to be Jesus, but I know that Jesus is not a “half measure” kind of man, so pick your battles wisely. Mark Kelly from CBC News did a “Seven Series Report” here in Montreal on the homeless last Winter, did it do any good for the city? Not One Bit.

The shelters are still overflowing and they can’t help everyone that Montreal calls homeless and destitute. I know a man who comes to my meeting. He’s been in the program longer than I’ve been in Montreal (now almost 7 years) and he is homeless and prefers the shelter to a life. I look at him and he still doesn’t get it but who am I to judge?

Sometimes the disenfranchised are hopeless which is sad, because I have come so far in the last six years, but many are still where I found them so long ago.

And that is sad…


Sunday Sundries … It rained !!!

tumblr_mvr218HsTv1rsipmuo1_500 walterjenkel2013Courtesy; WalterJenkel 2014

And the weather took a turn today. It rained, and brought with it hot and muggy !! ICK…

It has been a quiet weekend. Lots of snuggling in bed and reading of good books.

If you enjoy murder/mystery stories may I suggest to you Kathy Reichs, I just happened across a couple of books given to me by a friend, and the last two I read from her, Bones of the Lost and Bones are Forever, seem to be written close together, because there are threads between them in common from both reads. Bones are Forever seems to take place prior to Bones of the Lost, but I read them in reverse order.

I got out of here early, and arrived with rain piddling on my head. It was not enough to open carry. But while I was setting up, we had a minor downpour. Several folks came down the stairs soaked to the bone.

I put out all the chairs and we sat every single one of them. We are having a good run as of late. It seems people like our little meeting because they keep coming back.

We are another story into part III of the Book. He Lived only to Drink.

Many of us picked out that our writer came from good, solid Baptist, God fearing, go to church on Sunday, stock. No alcoholism on either side, and did not begin until our man was well out of the nest and on his own. Coming from a clean and sober house, is introduced to the drink by friends. And it is love at first drink. The smells, the smoke, the tinkle of ice in the glasses…

You know where this is going right?

It does not take much time for our Good stock man to end up on skid row, poor, un-bathed, stinking and hating life, god and man.

But it only took a charitable social worker who took him into her office and shared her story with him and said the following words … “I identify with what is going on in your life…” Nobody had every said that to him amid all the misery and debauchery that became his life.

She got him to his first meeting. And he got taken in and it started with believing in the people who were in that room that night and that something was working for them.

First, it was identification. Second, it was attraction. Sobriety followed.

And after all these years, a thought came into my head as I was sitting there tonight that I had never thought of before.

The first time I got sober, it was because I had to.

I did not like the men who attended meetings in the room I got sober in. For a year, newcomers were called race horses. And they all bet with each other which one of us would go out and drink again …

I had a job. I really GREAT job. It was probably the best job I ever had and would ever have in my life. And that job kept me more sober than the meetings did. Because my sponsor worked at the bar.

My focus was on living, working and THEN staying sober. I missed the teaching that I needed to connect with people, to trust them and to work with them. That did not happen.

Life happened and I planned and executed my slip.

The second time I got sober, it was a much more healthy place I got sober in. I immediately took to my surroundings and the people who welcomed me in that night. They cared about my life and my sobriety, as proof of just how far they went to make sure I would not drink again.

I moved here a few months in. I had no job. But I did have meetings.

And I’ve said it before, I met all the right people at the right time. I came to love them, and to trust them with my life, because I needed them to create the life I had moved here to find. It has taken me 11 years to find the gift that was waiting for me, ( ala sponsor/steps/and The Work).

The right women came into my life. And taught me about The Work. Then it took a year for The Work to sink in, and that I needed to do The Work. Enter year twelve and moving towards year thirteen, I am halfway there this month.

I have stayed sober because of the meetings I go to and the people I call my friends. Everything I have came from the efforts of hundreds of people over the years who gave me what I needed when it was needed.

Where the first time I had settled into work to get me by and sobriety took a back seat, the second time, I did not have what I had the first time, and I started with just meetings and the people in them. And I have not had a desire to drink since I put it down, almost thirteen years ago.

I hope this is the last time I have to do this, because I don’t think I have another recovery in me.

People are eating up the book. And they come back each week to read more and participate in discussion where they can hear each other share. And that is a good thing.

Everybody is good. It was a good night.

More to come stay tuned…


Better than Gold

tumblr_m2buloq4sx1qfq8r5o1_500-hikenow-nyiragongo-volcano

Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano

“… The newcomer feels like they have struck something better than gold. They may not see at once that they have barely scratched a limitless lode which will pay dividends only if he mines it for the rest of their lives and insist on giving away the entire product.”

A.B.S.I. #57

It rained again today. But the skies were dry during the outing this evening. And the rails were running efficiently and on time. There was no sign of yesterdays tragedy in the Metro when I got there.

The above reading is truncated. But the thought that I want to use comes from this portion of the passage. the visual of “mining for Gold.”

Some felt this passage in its entirety was lacking, because it doesn’t tell you how to begin. That from day one, we have to pick up the pick axe. And over time to begin excavating our own mine for the wealth promised by recovery.

I’ve spoken before about “the chair” and what that means. It took me over a decade to realize this piece of wisdom. It isn’t about us, or me.

We come in and find our chair. It is custom where ever you go, if you hit the same meetings continually, people always sit in the same chair, where ever it is in the room. I find that people usually sit in their comfort zones, either up front “at the table” or more to the back of the room.

We listen from our chair, we share from our chair, and over time we learn that where ever we go, there is a chair for us, any place in the world. Over time we learn from our chair, and in time, when it will come, we speak from our chair, and you never know when something we/you say, will impact another soul, by identification and in that moment a life may be changed.

Do we have to go to meetings for the rest of our lives? Yes, if we want the long term rewards of this mining process. Alcoholism never leaves, we are never really cured, or recovered. It is a one day at a time effort.

And serenity comes when we maintain our spiritual condition. Sobriety is contingent based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. The outside world doesn’t change. We have good days and bad days, but the good news is that we don’t ever have to drink again.

And we begin to learn the wisdom of “The Work.”

It took me a long time to get the message that my life could change in even bigger and better ways if I undertook “The Work.” In the beginning when I first got sober I did a round of work, and I coasted. In years past, I did another round of work, and let it go. I coasted for a long time, upwards into my 11th year of sobriety.

I thought I had learned all that I could. Boy was I WRONG !!!

Coming out of year ten into eleven I met a group of women who pounded “The Work” with their girls. They were passionate and committed. And over time, I realized that I wanted that passion and commitment as well.

The Roundup of 2013 came and I heard the message loud and clear.

There was more Mining to do. This was year twelve and into this year.

I picked up my pick axe and started working. I dug deeper and deeper, it seemed for months and months. I dug with reckless abandon. A new sponsor came and I hit another round of “The Work.” Then sponsees came into my life. After years of meetings, making coffee, sharing and learning, the time came for me to give back what I had mined to another alcoholic.

In order to keep it you must give it away. Hence the fact of the above passage, “We insist on giving away the entire product.” The gold isn’t ours to keep or hoard. We don’t get to keep the gold, we get the gold, we bring it inside ourselves, we learn and integrate, then we have to give it back to the source.

We must freely give what has been freely given to us.

When we work with others, we hand them their own pick axes. And we encourage them to start digging themselves. And they get to experience their process and one day they too will give it back when they get to the point that they get to work with others in their lives.

There is wisdom in the book. And as each person is able and willing, we hand them the book and we read it with them, side by side.

In the beginning for many, warming a chair is all that they can do for a time, until they get their feet wet, and find their way into the fellowship.

There is Gold in them thar hills. Go find it. But be reminded, you can’t keep even an ounce. You must give it back.

The only thing they tell you must change when we get clean and sober is Everything. And that this is an inside job.

If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.

Eventually you will find that there can be life without the drinking and drugging. And there are plenty of people to participate with you. Find them.

Come on in, the waters fine, Leave on shore your troubled mind. We don’t care where you’ve been just so long as you come on in …

And old song we used to sing on retreat weekend in school.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Daily Acceptance, Brilliance and Loving One’s Self

tumblr_l5ddbvDdeT1qzfjmqo1_500 oriental tiger

Courtesy: Oriental Tiger

The weather was a bit iffy tonight. Dark skies and spitting rain hung over the city through the rush hour period. After the rain storm, there has not been a repeat.

I left early to go shopping on the way out there is a birthday tomorrow. Our local card seller always has a great selection of cards, they could be read as embracing the LGBTQ community, or that the creator took into consideration who might purchase their cards. I found one to my liking and went to pay, When she rang it up, that nice pretty card cost me $9.00 …

Somebody is making a killing off the greeting card trade.

I could buy an entire box of Christmas cards for $9.00 …

Highway robbery me thinks …

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

I’ve been having dental issues. And dental issues cost money. And having no insurance past Ram Q, for prescriptions, we pay out of pocket for everything else.

There is a dental clinic within the I.D.T.C. department where I see my HIV doc. So I called the clinic yesterday and they gave me the number. I called and then spent two days playing phone tag. I got a call just before the meeting from the dentist who agreed to see me. Then she told me how much it was going to cost …

Cue the groaning machine … $100.00 UGH …

Now we have to find the funds because I have been on a steady dose of Advil for a couple of weeks and I have an appointment on Thursday.

Let us Pray …

Set up was quick and painless. Our chair read from A.B.S.I. #44

“Daily Acceptance”

“Our very first problem is to accept our present circumstances as they are, ourselves as we are, and the people about us as they are…”

It took me a long time to understand how this works.

First we learn about Powerlessness. Over people, places and things.

We also learn that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

And finally that “Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.”

And then we have to square all these axioms in our present condition. Easier said than done.

I had to come to the point that old pain was dimmed enough that I eventually became indifferent to it. And that the past is just the past. It carries no weight in today and has no place in the future.

As we rise, we say our prayers, (we are supposed to do that,) and we turn our day over to God. Usually the Third Step Prayer suffices.

I have no control over anything or anyone during my day. BUT I am responsible for my words, actions and reactions.

I cannot change anyone else but me.
I can’t change the outcomes of situations.
And for me Expectations are a no no …

I do what I can every day to help someone else. I work to be present for my friends far and wide. And I take care of me. Because when I do that, I can then take care of other folks.

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

Why are brilliant people plagued by self doubt, self loathing and self hatred?

Is it their ego? Or that they cannot be perfect? Perfection is so outdated.

I feel so terrible when I hear that someone is in the dumps. How can someone be so brilliant, and hate themselves so hard? I just do not understand.

So I do what I can. I try to fill the vessel with light and love.

That’s the best I can do.

My other guy is graduation on Monday Morning and I found out that an old time friend who moved to the U.S. to teach will be here for the graduating class Monday afternoon. So we hooked up earlier to plan a get together while he is here.

So that’s exciting.

It was a full day, a good meeting, a sand end, but everybody is sober another day.

So that is something to be grateful about.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Surrender … Victory … And the Rain

tumblr_l9jckmnvBG1qab9oro1_500 jack's empty mind

Courtesy: Jack’s Empty Mind (Archives)

They say … “If you don’t like the weather, wait twenty minutes!”

We got a warning. I got up to do laundry this afternoon, hubby got me some coin, so I set to work. The skies were dark, DARK, and it was heading for downtown. We watched the progress of the storm come over the mountain, moving North to South.

Thunder rolled and lightening flashed and the drip became a torrent. We have not seen rain this hard in a season. Flash rain that falls fast and furious can cause major headaches all over the city. Streets flood, tents fall, (as happened at McGill this afternoon) convocation had to be relocated inside after winds tore down their tent outside.

Certain streets flooded. I guess it was a good thing I was not at the church because we have seen rains like this flood the basement 4 inches deep. It is quite the mess.

I headed up stairs and it was like twilight. Someone, (read: the super) screwed the windows open, so that nobody could shut them, and I tried because the folding table was being pummeled by rain through the open windows.

Oh, well, not my problem.

What Was my problem was that it seems a crack has occurred on the frame of our living room windows. They have been changed some time ago, and when they put the new windows in, it took some time for them to complete the job of securing and caulking the space between.

I might add that we live in a High Rise on the 17th floor. So to get to the outside of the window frame would entail the use of One Big Crane !!!

It seems the crack must have happened during the winter where ice forms in the crack presented. Today, with rain pouring down, at the same time, water was pouring in the seam above the window and flooding the floor. The crack goes right through from the outside to our living room.

And if we don’t address it, it will only grow larger as summer and winter comes again. So I need to advise the office tomorrow. UGH !! What a headache.

Meanwhile … in another room …

I decided to hang the air conditioner (in the bedroom window) while I was up doing things, since it is a chore I would have had to do eventually, and with the rain comes muggy weather, so that was a good decision to do so.

It was one of the best purchases we made last Summer. It can get downright hot and muggy at night, so much that sleeping is difficult.

As quick as the rain came, it blew itself out to the South, over to the South Shore. And I noticed as the day went on, the winds were blowing out of the North and as of this evening they are blowing out of the South West. Clouds are streaming across the city tonight.

I carried an umbrella to my Tuesday event, which I did not need, in any case. It was dripping on the way out, and it had rained itself out by the time I left the church to come home. I was on foot all evening, because all the cars that usually come, did not tonight.

We sat a fair crowd. More people than we had expected. Meetings are hit and miss when it either rains or snows. People won’t come out when there is snow falling and they surely won’t venture out in a rain storm. (that had blown itself out already)

All of our familiar faces came. Our faithful supporters.

The topic came from Daily Reflections and spoke about Surrender and Victory.

Some say that end point language like “victory” or “recovered,” should not be used when we deal with a one day at a time, never ending journey that is recovery. There is no end word, until you are dead, mind you.

Surrender, along in step one … We make that admission and eventually surrender to that fact, and later to a power greater than ourselves.

But for one of our women, she spoke eloquently about victory as a positive in her life, that every day she makes that decision to turn it over and NOT pick up a drink, that that is a personal victory for her. And I know her well and she speaks with such kindness and love – you just GET what she is saying because the words come from her heart.

I knew surrender was coming.

And I can tell you, when I made that decision to use again, after some sober time, surrendering to the drugs was as easy as putting them down, in hindsight.

All it took was the extension of my arm out the window and I was off and running into the pit of hell, until I was removed from it eighteen months later.

I walked away from it and never went looking for them. I surrendered on that day, it took a little longer to surrender the drink. But when the time came, I knew it on the day it came. It had been foreshadowed. The blackouts, the hangovers, the not knowing??? The end was coming so I began to pray for deliverance.

I spoke to God before I even set foot back in the rooms. Because how I got back was entirely Divine Intervention.

Now I know that Surrender is a Daily Grace.

When I rise I pray, I surrender my day to God. Because I never know what is going to happen during the day, aside from my daily routine and ritual. Turning it over daily, is a practiced art. it doesn’t come naturally.

Sobriety is learned behavior.

Not Picking up is learned behavior.

And as another fellow spoke about recovery, we come into a room full of different people with all their assorted issues and bents. And if we STAY, and he warned us about the stay, (which I agree with), we begin to strip away our ISMS and we begin the PURIFICATION of our souls.

At some point in my recovery, I found the spiritual path, or it rose to meet me. Again. I walked away from God, He was not lost, I was.

I would like to believe that I am on a continuing journey of purification.

Because we are spiritual beings having a human existence.

On the way home I was on the train coming to my connection point, and as if “the all knowing and seeing Metro Lady Voice” knew I was in transit, She sounded those “Tones of Death” which meant a stoppage on my connecting line.

I was like “FUCK ME!”

I stepped off my first train onto the platform and I waited. Trains in the opposite direction were coming into the station on my Green line. They just were not moving in the direction I needed to go, so we waited. And waited. And waited.

Finally trains started running normally and I made my way home.

This middle of rush hour train stoppage is not uncommon. It happens quite often and usually occurs as I am getting off the train and up the station. But today it caught me in process.

Everybody is safe and sound.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


The Easier Softer Way …

kneel

Friday has come and almost gone. I left uber early to meet with one of my guys to plan his next assignment. His first 4th Step. We celebrated his three months tonight. People tend to celebrate milestones at the Friday Meeting as of late.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “Seeking Guidance.” The act of praying, and then actively listening for the response, and what do we do if that response does not come? What do we do next, as in the right decision or the next right thing.

The shares went around the room. And I listened.

After my conversation after the meeting last night with Mr. Google, I spoke to my sponsor about it. And before I went to bed, I rifled off an email to Mr. Google about half measures, balking, and willfulness.

I got a response earlier today, but I did not read it until I came home after the meeting. I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get back.

And after the meeting I was on the way home with one of my guys and I spoke what was going on in my head with him.

When I went to Vermont, I met guys who were severely addicted to hard core drugs and alcohol. Addiction is not a game. This is some serious shit. This is our lives we are talking about here. This is not a joke or something to be trifled with.

When I speak to someone about program or sobriety, I want my words to come from the right direction, and the right place. That I am not just spewing bullshit from the left side of my brain.

I began “The Work” over a year ago, and my life did change. Shit happened. Shit that I did not expect, but I asked for. And because I did “The Work” the universe paid out in spades.

“The Work” is ongoing, it never ends. Sobriety is not a destination it is a journey.

The day you take your last breath, that’s when the journey ends. But until then, we keep going. Experience, Strength and Hope is cumulative. It is a mass of information you collect on the way, the shit that happens when we least expect it.

Maya Angelou said … “People won’t remember what you did, nor what you said, but they will remember the way you made them feel…”

I’ve been working days, weeks and months on life and on “The Work.” And it isn’t about my ego or that I know more than some, or that it is all about me. It isn’t.

I took the lessons that were given. And I practiced. I humbled myself before God. There is something miraculous that happens when you humble yourself before God when you drop to your knees and pray.

I feel the embrace. And I know, for me, that there is something that hears my prayers and does for me what I could not do for myself. One of my friends doesn’t believe that there is anything on the other end of his prayers.

I have time under my belt where practiced is concerned. I have spoken to very wise men in sobriety who have done the same. Men who I came to know and respect. They laid it all out for us. And you either took it and adopted it, or you wasted the time and left with nothing to carry back to your guys.

It is one thing, to spout from the book and the left side of ones brain. But it is an entirely different beast when it comes from pure, unadulterated daily practice.

This is no joke. These are our lives. The good news is, is that with a little practice and a little faith, and a little humility, we never have to drink again.

One day at a time.

I am very grateful for my guys and my friends.

More to come, Stay tuned …


Tuesday … I Drink Because I am Bored !!!

tumblr_llkcok2XIT1qbo6vuo1_500 korybalski

Courtesy: Korybalski

The skies are a little grim. And the seasonal affectation disorder is in full swing.

One day it is sunny, and folks are happy. The next day it is overcast and threatening rain, and folks are depressed, enough to take a drink.

Today I felt normal, after the pumped up weekend. I think I was jonsing for coffee, since I drank enough coffee to drown an elephant over the weekend. I don’t, as a habit, drink coffee at home, except for rare days.

I spent the better part of yesterday, (oh, let’s say all day and night) in bed. I got up for dinner and the news and went back to bed for more sleep.

Today I left early so I could do some shopping on the way out. Tickets for my Opus card, candles for the meeting, so forth and so on. I hit my train and was on my way.

My coffee mate came about 5:30 and we sat a small group. And we had a unique visitor. I have not seen a case like this in as many years, and we were not sure what to do or what to say …

When folks come in, they usually lay low, participate and they move towards the room in process, so to speak.

I don’t know what to say when I hear “I’ve got 6 D.U.I’s, but no jail, I’ve got a breath-o-meter in my truck to test my alcohol level so that I can drive.”

I drink and drive every day. Because when I get off work, during the day, after working the 4 a.m to noon shift, I need a couple of beers on the way home, so I make the stop and drink them on the way.

Then One, then Five, Then 10 more …

The other night my wife got on my case about my drinking, so I slugged her.

She called the cops.

I am now living out of home, at my parents place, on the other side of town, from my estranged wife and my 6 year old son.

I can’t go back, because I have to go to court before they will allow me back…

So I am here.

I drink because I am bored !

Needless to say, we were at a loss for words, and there were men and women with more than twenty years of sobriety present.

A topic went out – but was severely deviated from.

I did not hear the words, “I have a problem” or “I want to quit drinking.” What I heard was his qualification for being at a meeting.

Again, the only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to quit drinking.

He spoke no word, nor breathed a desire in any case.

He left before we could get a word in. But he left with a meeting list in any case.

I’ve never come across a situation like this before. All he wants to do is go home, and drink. But because he raised his fist, he can’t. And now he is paying a price, but the admission of a drinking problem never came up.

Maybe I will see him again. Maybe I won’t.

I drink because I am bored…

Sad, very sad.

That’s all I can say.

More to come, stay tuned…