Courtesy: Flickr James Clear
The weather is beginning to turn. We are now the fourth week of November and we are heading into negative territory. Currently it is a flat ZERO outside. It was nippy when I left the house this evening, and it was colder when I left, even with layers, as it was, I was chilled.
It was an uneventful weekend. Santa Claus rolled through the city on Saturday morning. Our building sits on the step off corner for all the parades that roll through the downtown core, placing us at the maximum viewing point.
Last night we had a good showing for the Saturday night meeting. And we talked about resisting change.
The book says that when we get sober, the only thing we have to change is everything …
Easier said than done.
I departed as usual and like I said, it was chilly out. It was a good thing that the church’s heating system is computerized. It was nice and toasty when I opened up. We were missing all of our women tonight. The flu is making its way around at the moment.
We sat a small crowd, and read a story that was 14 pages long, so we made two circuits around the room, and then the room got to talk about it.
Some of the old stories are really harsh. Back in the day, not unlike today, in some cases, the man in our story really had it bad. A late bloomer, in regards to when he began to drink, unlike most stories, the early writers, for the most part, were weaned on alcohol, it seemed.
If you end up in a sanitarium once, you might have a problem. In our man’s case tonight, he hit Bellevue hospital thirty five times. Yes, that is correct, 35 times.
He not only drank, he got married, had three children, and was in the hole for most of the story. It was one of the saddest stories we have read to date.
Most sad stories, even in our book, have somewhat happy endings, wherein our folks, find the way, the meet us, get sober, and turn their lives around. But not before some major loss or tragedy.
Early on, a son of our man grows up and with not even two nickles to rub together, becomes a show shine boy, were talking the late 1930’s. He makes some change, but further on in the story, his drunk father happens upon him and dad takes his earnings, and drinks them away.
It is a bad scene. You think, in this read, that things just could not get any worse, and that eventually, he has to Get It. Our man eventually does get it, the kicker in the story was the loss of that son to a streetcar accident.
Now the story reads … nobody would begrudge him a drink, after loosing a child. But bolstered by two recovering alcoholics, one under each arm, our man tackles, identifying his sons remains, then burying that son, sober …
Some of us have had tragic loss in our lives. For myself, when that happened to me, it was the drink that soothed the visual and helped kill the pain of loss, until Todd stepped in and got me the help I desperately needed. That was a year before my own personal tragedy.
You never know when the people in the room are going to come in handy, and to what degree some of us will go to to make sure our fellow men and women, get by, without taking that first drink.
The story talks about us drunks who go to meetings, and are happy, cleaned up folks, who help each other by swapping stories. That’s what our writer calls us, when he opens his story. Because when he was at his worst, he happens upon the rooms, and sees these men doing what they do best, and he just can’t believe his eyes.
But every one of us has a story, a journey we have to walk, before we finally figure it out and we come in.
I’ve had plenty of my share of tragedy. And I survived them.
In two weeks time, I will celebrate 14 years without a drug or a drink.
One day at a time …
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: The Sneaker Boy Well, our Prime Minister spoke to the Governor General and decided to dissolve Parliament, triggering our Next Federal Election Scheduled for October 19th. As I told our M.P. who called on Friday, I am supporting Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party. I just hope voters are not going to be scared into voting the Conservatives back into power, most Canadians agree that change is needed in Ottawa. This will be the longest running election campaign, over eleven weeks.
The Conservative Party has the most money to spend. And by triggering the election today ( Sunday) the other Federal Parties are stuck with just what they have collected to this point. And the Conservative Party is well known for their dirty ads and underhanded way they run a campaign.
We shall see how Canada swings this fall.
Before the meeting, I was talking to one of my lady friends, and I talked about the universe as being full of souls, and all the energy that the universe must have collected over the eons. I also talked about how we are “stardust,” and if we are stardust, then we are a living connection with all that is out there, where we find (in sobriety) a power greater than ourselves. I kept going on and on about spiritual teachings and the Angel and Michael story, that she wants to read now.
There is so much out there, the wisdom of centuries and of men and women and children. How amazing it is to think, that we have the ability to connect with all that energy and being, if we just connected to it spiritually. And how do we do that, with prayer and meditation.
We think, we form thoughts, and where do those thoughts go? Do they stay in our heads, or if we are stardust, part of us is constantly connected to the universe, and if the universe is alive and sentient, then it knows what we think and what we desire, even before we know we need it.
Absolutely amazing, don’t you think ?
It was the First Sunday, and we are back in the book, reading “The Educated Agnostic,” about a man who had the problem, and saw no relief even telling his doctors that he would never be able to quit the drink. Faced with certain destruction his doctors brought him three men to talk to him, each of their own experiences.
His response was the same, “you poor sods, with your simple spiritual practice, good for you, but it won’t work for me.” We know from experience that if one attempts to intellectualize God and the Spiritual practice, you won’t come up with any answers that will help you.
But every story has a happy ending. Little by slowly, over time, our man began to practice these simple spiritual practices, and he too got sober.
So what did we all talk about? God. One of our men spoke about a book he read while on vacation about Joe McCarthy, the demonized senator in the United States in the 1950’s and 1960’s. People feared him, he bullied and threatened those who would speak against him and he went out of his way to accuse people of being communist and traitors. Even the president was afraid of him, until he bucked up. In the end, he read that our demon senator McCarthy died of severe liver disease.
Joe McCarthy was one very big alcoholic, who did not find his solution to his attitude or the drink. In the end it was the drink that killed him.
Funny that, I never knew that or knew about the man beyond documentaries I’d watched on tv. He was so vitriolic – his anger and hatred turned inward, and it was alcohol he used to cut the edge, sadly, like most die hard alcoholics, the drink eventually kills us.
I started my read of the Odyssey last night.
Everyone is good tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …
“Quick, Run. Find someplace to hide … Yeah, up the stairs, Go, Quickly, He’s coming. I run up the stairs and dive underneath Grammy’s bed. She is following and stands in the doorway; protective, resolute … You will not hurt that boy !!!
Dad is screaming and shouting, swinging a bat in his hands … You Were a Mistake and Should Never have been Born.”
This scene is repeated many times during my childhood.
Human beings transit many seasons in life, and for every season there is a birth, life, growth and in the end death brings up the rear. This story, my story, is a story about seasons, and how I came to be, who I was, and who I am becoming right now. I am a child who was born in Generation X.
In 2011 “The Generation X Report” (based on annual surveys used in the Longitudinal Study of today’s adults) found Gen Xers, defined in the report as people born between 1961 and 1981, to be highly educated, active, balanced, happy and family oriented. Citation, Wikipedia
The city of my birth, New Britain, Connecticut, was a small town with pleasant neighborhoods, multi-ethnic families, a local school, parks and stately family residences. It was a time of plenty for us. I was born to a working class family. My father was in the machine industry, my mother worked in the medical field, and my grandparents worked for the best industry in town, “The Stanley Works.” One of the biggest tool manufacturers in the North East.
My father, war torn, returned from fighting in the Viet Nam war, imported a wife from Canada, and impregnated her. My mother, being a Quebecois Catholic girl, from a very Quebecois Catholic family, one did not impregnate a woman and leave her destitute. I believe that my grandparents were not very happy about this, in the end, my father married her in 1967, which is subsequently also the year I was born.
We lived on Kennedy Drive … Did that mean anything? I think not. Our home was a split ranch with three bedrooms. We had an outfitted basement with the required record player where we played Sonny and Cher, The Mama’s and the Papa’s and the Jackson Five. We had a large kitchen which led off to an outside deck, raised above the back yard, which gave us ample space for a sand pit below. It was a great home. Our neighbors represented many different countries from around the world. My best friends, Jimmy and Steven were from Poland. Theirs was a very kind and warm family, they lived across the street. I had several other friends who lived on the street. We all went to school together. We were quite the melting pot of America way back in the 1960’s.
I have few memories of this place, a Christmas full of snow, an aluminum Christmas tree back lit with a color wheel, dad putting lights on the house, the holidays at Grammy’s house. I do remember walking to and from school. And I have specific memories of classrooms and a teacher, I see places, but not faces.
I am told a story by my mother once … It was my father’s birthday and I had climbed into the kitchen sink, taking with me the flour pot, the sugar, coffee and I had even gone to the trouble of emptying all the tea bags into the sink, attempting to make a cake for daddy … There is also the day I learned about fire … Mom holding my hand over a hot fire on the stove.
If Gen X’ers are said to be family oriented, that indeed would be true. Because I had family in spades. Those first years of my life were managed by all the women my family could throw at me. During this time, all of my family lived no more than twenty minutes away in any direction. While my parents worked, I was shuttled between grandparents and aunts and uncles.
I would not be lying if I said that this was the best time of my life. Being the first born son, I was spoiled and the women did their best to give me everything they thought I would need, when I became an adult.I had three years on my brother, who in turn was created, specifically to be my rival, my challenger, the son who was meant to be born, never to see eye to eye with me, for the whole of my life.
I learned how to take care of a home, I learned how to garden and grow food for the table, I learned numbers by “The Price is Right,” and my ABC’s by “Sesame Street. It was a time of plenty. Family was all we had in those days. And it was a good family, if I do say so myself.
My first memories, nursery school in the basement of a church, Kindergarten in a two classroom building with a large “mud room” between them. Music lessons and the production of The Wizard of Oz, where I played the cowardly Lion. First grade with Miss, Hesslin. Her son, played on my father’s softball team.
Neighborhoods were safe, in those days. Parents did not think twice about allowing their kids to walk to school, because we lived not far away and we did not have a bus to take us. There was a covered bus stop halfway between home and school, where we would gather on the way home to share what we did not eat during lunch that day. I remember the smell of paint, in art class. The library, and the smell of books. I remember playing out in the yard at school, the field trip to the farm, the bull fighting ring, the animals. And sharing milk out of cardboard containers.
My paternal grandparents lived in a split ranch house, with a huge yard around the periphery, gardens located alongside the house. In the backyard, were two gardens. In one corner, a vegetable garden where Grammy grew tomatoes, peppers and all kinds of other things. In the other corner was a rock garden, with brightly painted rocks painted rocks bordering a tiered flower garden. There were century old willow trees in the front yard, maple trees and pines.
The lot next door, held the remnant of a century old building that a family once lived in, but now were ruins. The empty lot was strewn with the refuse of cuttings that Grammy threw over the fence, which took root and raspberries, blackberries and flowers grew aplenty.
The house had two bedrooms, one for Grammy and the other for Grandpa. They had taken to sleeping in separate bedrooms because grandpa was a drunk. (more on that later) There was a full bath upstairs and a laundry drop chute that fell into the basement for washing. There was a laundry line out the bathroom window, connected to another century old tree in the backyard to hang the washing to dry.
My grandparent had lived in this house for decades when I came along. In the living room was an old 78 record player with thick vinyl records, and a grand fireplace, where the Christmas tree was always set up. The den, was a small squat room, with a sofa, a chair for grandpa and the television. Many a night were spent in that room.
In the kitchen, the heart of the home, was an aluminum table seating for eight, and a plush chair that sat besides the door. We never used the front door, unless we were going outside to sit after dinner to enjoy the scenery. The entrance door was in a mud room, sitting between the garage and the main house. My grandmother’s green thumb was present everywhere in the house.
Across the street lived a large family with three generations of them living under the same roof. Mom and pop, on the third floor, sons and daughters on the second, and grandma living in the attic, which was a fully appointed space just for her. She was an old woman and only spoke Italian with Grammy. Grammy was multilingual, and talented beyond her means, when it came to gardening, cooking and gabbing.
Grandpa was a solid man, but he had his problems. Alcohol being one of them. Grandpa was a bottle hider, and a drinker, at any time of the day. Larosas Tavern was fifty paces from the front door, and so was the liquor store. The men of the family spent a pretty penny in both those institutions. And to this day, circa 2015, Larosas is still there.The old house has since been knocked down and the side yard was appropriated to build a larger parking lot for the tavern.
Grandpa had bottle hidden all over the house, so he could get his nip, at arms length from where ever he stood or sat. Alcoholism would be the running theme throughout this story.
Grandpa had his endearing qualities as well. I remember him taking me to a particular ice cream/soda pop place, by a lakeside. You could have your pop and ice cream, then drive just up the road to a park where we would park the car and toss stones into the lake. I don’t remember either of those names, but the memory is clear for me.
My Maternal grandparents had split up and Grand Pere was already living in a home. Memere and my uncle Michael lived together for many years, for a time, they even shared a one bedroom apartment, where I would sleep on the sofa when I would visit. All of us lived a short walk away, meaning I could walk from our home to either house within minutes.
Memere was the woman who taught me about faith and family. Both my grandmothers did that, each in their own way. The Italian on one side and the Canadian on the other. The maternal side of the family boasted six children, Michael, the youngest son, followed by Paula my aunt, Leo, Pete and Guy, my other uncles, and my mother bringing up the rear. My father being an only child bemoaned the extended family and resented and hated them from the get go.
It was safe to say that as long as there was family present, my father’s death wish for me never happened.
My Aunt Paula and Uncle Roger lived a bit away in the mountains. The drive to their house was through cathedral century trees lining the road one traveled. There were apple orchards and all type of family homes dotting the mountainside. The house was a multilevel home, with a rumpus room, converted from a two car garage, a stately living room with a King Edwardian dining table that sat the entire family. The kitchen was small, compared to the other homes I visited in my childhood. In the 1970’s they built a pool in the backyard, which was a large hillside that dropped into a pond, fed by a stream, that ran behind all the houses on that side of the mountain.
There were many family gatherings in that house, when the Quebecers all came to visit during the summer vacations.
– Naked and Sacred –
As a young child I have fond memories of old churches and polished pews and candles flickering in dark corners of the building, statues of saintly persons who looked out over the congregational spaces and the dark corner grottos making sure we knew that they were watching over us and praying in tandem with the many who came to find peace, solace and faith within those walls.
I remember that day that my Memere took me to that grand church all alone, just her and I and God. It was an afternoon event; she brought me here for mass on a regular basis. These were the days of the old missal books and rosaries, women wearing lace over their faces, it was an ethnic parish church attended by many from ethnic communities all around.
On that day she took me to the church, she had a purpose. I remember this as if it was yesterday because, in my minds eye, this was very important to her. We went to light some candles and leave our offering in that little tin box attached to the candle display, we sat in quiet supplication and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, and we lingered to hear the voice of God speak to us. I am sure that Memere and God had brokered an agreement over me.
After a while she got up from her place and she gathered me to herself and we walked to the edge of the banister that protected the main altar from people walking up on the dais. The banister was open, as if to welcome us to step up there – so with great pride Memere walked me ahead of her until I was standing on the dais before God. I must admit there were no words that were spoken to me; this is where the agreement must have been made. Memere looked up that the altar, then at her favourite statue and then beckoned God to look down upon us and take us into His arms and protect us. In that moment I believe I had been “consecrated” to Christ and to God and the Blessed Mother, not to mention Marguerite D’ Youville. (This will be explained later in the timeline)
Memere had a “tight” relationship with God. Her homes were shrines to the family that had gone before us, to the saints who protected us, and the God who gave us life. I always felt naked before God in her house. As if God sat with us daily and saw us for whom we really were simple God fearing folk. I never for one moment feared God. There was nothing I could not say to Him nor ask of Him, but I also knew that there were things one just did not ask of God, because greed and excess were not part of Memere’s lexicon.
I learned to pray the rosary as a young boy, we went to mass frequently. I don’t know if my mother and father were aware that I had so much “sacred time” in my early life. I am sure she knew that if I was with Memere that I would go where she went and I would love her for taking me and I would love the adventure of going to see God all the time.
The church of old is not the church of now, unless of course you live in Montreal and have living “great” relatives who live in a convent not far from home.
Being the first of two children in a family firmly grounded in the late 1960’s brought a lot of opportunities to me as that first child. I had three years on my brother. Three years are a big deal. I had the adoration of the matriarch’s of the family; I had three years of unadulterated wisdom taught to me over time. My time was my own; there was no one to deflect that attention away from me, which endeared me to the hearts of the women of the family. But secrets existed, secrets that would one day turn my life upside down.
My father was an abusive man; he came back from Viet Nam with major issues. I was born out of the man who came back from war, damaged and lost. He took a wife of Canadian blood, gave her an ultimatum and got her pregnant. I was there at the wedding, my mother carrying me in her womb, walked down the aisle that day and agreed to bear his children and live by his rules and regulations. My father, the racist, bigot that he was wanted to force a continental divide to rise from the ground to separate that which made my mother who she was and force her to become the woman he required.
That divide never rose, and my father’s resentment of the maternal “nursery” that I entered as a child began. I guess this is why I am so maternal, because all the men in the family were war shaken and damaged. They worked all the time in business, in the fields and in factories. It was up to the women to rear the children into the people we were to become. My father’s resentment of my presence was well known.
Later in my life I would be told of the fact that my father wanted to kill me, that I was a mistake and should never have been born. He tried many times to snuff my light out as quick as he could. The one thing that he did not expect was the backlash that came in the form of vociferous rebukes by the matriarch’s of the family, hence my “consecration to God.” If I was consecrated to the Almighty, then my father’s plan for ending my life would never come to fruition.
I remember being chased through houses by drunk men in my life, I remember my grandmothers standing in doorways between me huddling beneath a bed, hiding for my life, and my drunk and angry father fighting with them to let him “do it already!” He wanted nothing more than to wipe me off the face of the earth. The women of my family tell me that he fought often with them to abuse me and to hurt me and eventually to kill me.
They were not going to let that happen, my mother was powerless to try and stop him, why, they had an agreement, and she was his bitch, and she did what he said without argument! That was his way unto this very day.
When I was born he gave me my name. I was given to the earth as the man he loved from the war, who died in the war, so every time he looked at me or said my name or heard my name called, the memory of “one dead soldier” would rise to the fore. What kind of man places that kind of sadistic torture on himself? Was he hoping to exorcise that memory from his brain by personal reprogramming? I think there was more to this story than met the eye. Yes, there was, it took me decades to divine the truth from those who knew, and in hindsight I was able to complete the puzzle.
At age 30 I changed that name and exorcised it from my life, it was the final conflict that separated me from my parents. Being gay – HIV Positive and changing my name was three strikes, I was now damned to live without parents. He made damn sure of that.
Needless to say, faith was a priority; God would protect and save me. My grandmothers agreement with God was non negotiable with any one else. Not that my father knew she had this deal on the table. Women are tricky characters you know! When Memere beckoned upon those she regarded as spiritually powerful, hell hath no fury like the wrath of an angry saint and my grandmother generating the turbine of retribution with her dedicated prayers.
Who was God? And why should I care? Because it was beaten into me that I was a mistake and should never have been born, for 18 years my father made it his life’s work to destroy me mentally and emotionally. Later on in my 30’s the revelation of my sexual abuse at my father’s hands would rise from my sobering mind. And you think HE had issues?
I went to church, as a young boy. I would complete all my sacraments in the order of succession. I would be in communion with the church I would pray my rosary and my novenas. God was present in my daily life. I was always naked when I was sacred. There was nothing I held back from God, because my relationship with God was between him and me. To stand before God is to be naked in his sight.
How much more sacred could it be?
The stellar weather finally turned on us. Skies are dark, the humidity is way up there, and showers have been coming and going all evening. We are being warned at this hour that we might get “Pounded” tonight.
I’ve been so busy with things to do, lately, my plate is full. Saturday I installed Baby Mama’s air conditioner in the baby’s room. However, as of late, the baby isn’t using her room, because she won’t sleep for long periods of time. And that is proving to be quite the problem for mama.
Saturday evening I went to visit with a friend. This, our regular Saturday night to sit outside on the patio and talk for hours. We had Portuguese pastries, Portuguese cheese bread, which is totally addictive, and the never ending coffee pot.
I go there to talk to my friend about life, this week it turned out that he was the one giving me advice.
You know, I watch a good amount of You Tube. I read books written by young people who also produce content on You Tube. I read a lot. I see young men from other places, who aren’t necessarily following the North American “This is how you do life” idea.
We of the latter generation, were bred from 1960’s stock. You know that stock. The birth to the age of eighteen growth pattern. Going to school, making the grades, if you can, go to university, get a degree in some far flung topic, that may or MAY NOT get you a job in the real world.
Then you meet a girl, get married, and pop out a couple of kids. Add to that the prospect of owning a house, with the two car garage, the yard, “things” and get work in probably a dead end job that you only go to because it pays the bills and keeps a roof over ones head.
Your dreams going up in smoke, and quite literally we end up bored, sad, never fulfilling those desires or things we really would like to do but can’t, because we are locked in old ideas and ways of life.
We end up in that place where we have to make ends meet, in any way we can. And for most of us, we are not doing what we enjoy or love, we are doing what pays the bills. Because you know, it’s all about the almighty dollar.
In today’s social media driven world, an entire generation of boys and girls, men and women, have turned the normal grind of life and nine to five, into something quite different. They seem to have found their groove doing exactly what they want to do, in the way they want to do, and learning about life themselves, Doing things that the rest of us only dream about doing or putting them on a bucket list.
They have not necessarily followed the old tried and true model.
Most of these folks have been at this for a number of years, and after hours of work, and years of building a following, have lives that contribute to the greater good, in ways that the older generation had never done before.
I know of men, in my age bracket, and some a little older, who, like me, have accrued several pieces of paper, granting us degrees in our chosen fields, who for some, can’t find work in our fields because we chose fields that have fallen out of favor at the educational level, and jobs are scarce for some of us.
There are others who are at a certain juncture of their lives, where it is time to do something to produce content to guarantee us future income, and/or a retirement fund so that when we finally get there, there is money in the bank.
I watch these young people going into the world doing exactly what they want, and they are doing it well. They have built lives of substance and the give back to humanity in the ways they choose to use their fandom (read: stardom). Young people who produce content in video, they write books, the have charitable projects doing things for others, they have record ventures, they have merchandise to sell, and many of them, have done things, the rest of us, only dream about doing, like traveling the world, meeting all kinds of people, seeing places that many of us will never get to see ourselves, but through their content, we get to live vicariously through them.
So I wonder, at my age, with what I know, if the kids of this generation are doing what they love and they are giving back, and making a living at the same time, then why not me?
I’ve considered writing a book a long time ago. I wrote a single manuscript and gave it to my academic adviser when I was in university, but I never pursued it further. I started writing a blog more than ten years ago. I’ve been at this for a long time. I am not of the “Video content” circle. I have a face for writing and a voice for speaking, but I am too self conscious to see myself on film.
I look at myself in the mirror sometimes and say to myself, UGH, I am getting old, yet I have friends who love me just the same. So that’s an all about me concern.
I have over 101 stories located in my pages section. These stories and memories were written in a free thought form, as they happened, as they exist in my memory. I have over 3500 posts collected on the blog to draw from in addition to the stories section.
I was talking to one of my lady friends tonight at the meeting. She is a university professor of fine arts and she is also an academic writer. And I mentioned my discussion with my friend last night to her, and at the moment, she is working on a book herself.
We launched into a conversation about publishing, how to do it, where to find it, and who to talk to. I mentioned to her the amount of written word I have already compiled here, and she told me that unlike the young folks I am reading/watching/ and or listening to, who create content “in the moment” kind of thing, what I have going for me, is that I have content already produced and on file. All I really need to do is polish that manuscript up a bit, and put it into a presentable form to put out a prospectus and a preliminary manuscript.
There really is not much editing to be done with what is already written. I would not change any of the words I wrote, nor would I let an editor or agent, edit my stories or butcher them for the sake of a book, or my readership, in the name of money.
I’ve been reading my social media sites. I have solid life experience in areas of life that are historical. The gay, AIDS experience of the 1990’s is a story that is unique. It is my story as it happened in real time.
Young gay readers of today, have no idea what that was like. Today, HIV is still an issue. However it is not a “you’ve got AIDS kind of problem.” There is medication to be had by the masses. It isn’t what it was twenty years ago. Many of my friends believe that I have a story to be told. That my experiences over the last forty seven years are worthy of telling.
I spend a few hours a week writing here. And when a memory hits me, I sit here and record it on the blog, because I am not getting any younger, and the more time that goes by between a memory and today, my memory begins to get fuzzy.
When I worked my last Fourth Step, we used a particular method. And I was encouraged to work on a Lifetime – Timeline. It took me months to finish it, and it is written down in a journal I kept that is not on the blog. My Aunt Paula was a big help in connecting the dots between memories, and places and specific periods of time, or seasons in our lives as they were lived.
With that long form memory exercise, I compiled some stories that I have never told before, based on the emotions connected to certain memories as I grew up. It kind of goes like this: Write down your years of life, from birth until today. Now, I want you to plot, on that graph, your earliest emotions, as you remember them.
I have this list of emotions, that are connected to people, times and places. I can see them in my minds eye. And with each feeling there is an attached memory, that I can spin out and write about. Forty seven years is a long time.
Today, I have almost fourteen years of sober experience I have written about extensively here. The whole notion of growing up and finding a career that pays, is still a work in progress. Who I am, and what I know today, and how I live my life and care for my husband and my friends, is a direct result of all those people who have listened to me in meetings over the years.
My manhood, you could rightfully say, is an amalgamation of all the men I have in my life today. Not to mention all the women I know as well. They are both integral to who I am. Because if not for them, I would not be who I am today.
I just think that we can learn a great deal from the young people of today’s generation. And if you are not happy doing what you are doing, and you are unfulfilled, and need a specific focus in your life, all we need to do is spend some time watching young people do what they are doing right now, and ponder.
There are plenty of young LGBTQ folks out there, across the age spectrum. There are also a generations worth of people living with HIV because they don’t call it AIDS any more, they are in a specific metal and emotional state, that they bemoan the lives they have today as far as what they can do, who they can do it with, and they are saddled with having to take medication and what a drag that is. And my story is one that my friends think would be beneficial for them to hear, what it was like, what happened and what it is like today.
That’s the running theme in my life today …
What it was like, What happened, and what it is like today.
I have a lot to say, and my friend thinks I have a hit on my hands, in the bank, already written. I just need to get it out there. His final comment that if I self publish, I would probably make money hand over fist. I’d like to think that was possible, but lets stay in the moment and not get sucked into expectations and pie in the sky dreams.
I need a publisher. Somewhere.
Maybe a specific LGBT publisher who would think my story is specific enough and important enough to share with the masses.
So all you people who are subscribed, shoot me an email. Tell me something good.
I need you all to step up and help me as I continue this next phase.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a very productive day today. After having a nightmare that ended just as my alarm clock went off, this one, was new. Feeding off the manic experience I had on Sunday.
Sometimes, we should never act on or say words we might regret, even in the heat of the moment, or wanting to be heard. I read something the other night that said:
“We should be ok living alone, because it is a waste of time chasing people who really don’t care about you.”
The other one came from a friend:
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Jack Kornfield.
I got up, and half decided to go do something that I wanted to do, but the urge to hibernate was very strong. I got into the shower and that did the trick. I got dressed and headed out for the mall.
I wanted to get the next two books in the Temperance Brennan series, by Kathy Reichs. The collection at Indigo is getting slim. I’ve about completed buying their entire stock of books. They only had one of the two books I wanted.
I had some lunch and came home. I logged into the Indigo website and ordered two volumes of the collection, which were in stock. Indigo/Chapters takes major credit cards, but they also take Pay Pal, which is as good as cash.
At the moment, I have 4 books running at the same time.
At the retreat I picked up another biography of Pope Francis. This one is a lot more complete as I am reading it presently. I am still reading Tim Winton, I am wrapped up in Tempe, so I started another book last night, and I bought one today, and two are coming in the mail. Which brings me up to two final volumes in the series that I will buy or order in the coming weeks.
Last week I got my health card renewal slip in the mail, which means a trip to get photos taken, then bring them to the CLSC (read: public health clinic) to get signed and validated with the form that came in the mail.
I’ve done several circuits of the neighborhood today. (read:walking in circles)
I killed a couple of hours before I had my Step appointment at 5:30.
I printed out my post from Sunday evening and brought it with me. I sat with my sponsor and read it to him. He took six pages of text and whittled that down to a sentence of ten words.
It comes down to simple things, first, we are powerless over people, places and things.
The past is the past. What’s done is done. If I want to move forwards, why am I living in the past, (read:revenge,words,feelings,emotions)
I am better off walking away from what is haunting me. What happened happened. But really, for all intents and purposes, just how much power am I giving the past to affect my present? It seems to him, that I’ve given it too much power.
I don’t need to keep bringing certain stories up in community, that certain stories should only come to mind when there is a situation or other human being who is in the same boat, then share the story. I can put certain stories to bed, unless they are necessary.
He mentioned the weekend. And made comment to some things I missed in social cues, and reminded me how hospitality works in sober circles. He also said to me, after reading my sheets, was that I spent way too much time worrying about what people think about me.
But that did not change the fact that I had “this” particular experience.
Human beings are in many ways the same. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated, We want to be accepted, and We want to hear that spoken. In many cases, that is the norm. When it comes to assholes and attitudes and Egos, these can be difficult.
I tell the lesson about “approval.”
Do what you do well, and master that. You don’t need my approval any more. But one day you might find yourself working for someone who may not appreciate you or the job you do, so you need to be certain of what you do, how you do it, and then do it well.
I am told, that beyond my skewed perception, that people on the weekend had no problems with me and that from what he heard, what I thought was really not the case.
Some people are just not good at some skills of communication. Especially alcoholics.
We are all crazy, we are psychotic, we have personal expectations, sometimes that are unrealistic. Which begs “we should just be gentle with ourselves” and realize that we are not the center of the universe. And that just being … should do us just fine.
I also tell the lesson about “What people think of me is none of my business.”
When it comes to certain people, I had mentioned in my writing, I am reminded that sometimes we have to step up our game of tolerance and acceptance.
I know what my limits are with certain people. And the less I see of them the better.
What do I want removed ?
- I need to distance myself from the past.
- I need to accept who I am in the moment, in any moment.
- I need to not worry so much about what people think of me.
- I need to get on with the present and stop my addiction to the past.
- In the end, do I really care about them, or do I just want to get even?
- The sick side of my brain says, Exactly !
- The sober side of my brain says, maybe I just need to keep my thoughts clean and my mouth shut.
I guess I am ok with the discussion.
My sponsor agrees that I have grown up a bit more, and that clarity did happen, and that everything is alright. I am progressing forwards.
I think that’s it for the moment.
Mischief Managed …
The Underground Storyteller, by Alex Day.
He hasn’t had the best time in the last year, but I chose to support him.
What would happen if the London Underground ceased to exist ?
“When I visited Wales to find the oldest passenger train in existence, I discovered it wasn’t there. Faced with the idea that this could happen to the Tube, I set off to visit every station – all 270 of them – to see what stories they had to share and preserve them forever. This is the tale of my obsession and of the human stories that are only a train ride away.”
Courtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You
Today it was much warmer than it was yesterday (it is still cold) and last night. As I said over the weekend, things would get worse, before they got better. With the wind chill last night, temps dropped to Minus (-26c) over night. It was windy, and brutal. The shelter buses were running all over town gathering the homeless to take them to sites that had beds for them.
And I actually heard one of them say, on the news last night, that “some homeless folks won’t take shelters up on a warm bed and hot food and coffee, because of pride, and obstinacy.” Sadly, they would rather sleep in a snow drift, or in a cardboard box, or under a bridge instead.
The metro platforms across the city are choice sleeping sites because they are warm, BUT they aren’t open all night, and will eventually have to be vacated, so they end up outside in any case.
No matter how hard we try to work with those who have nothing, some choose having nothing rather than accept help. Kinda makes you throw up your hands …
All the snow that fell in the previous week, has turned to ice. They have not plowed several streets near home or in NDG tonight. So all those snow drifts that exist, are now ice castles. it was a dangerous trek tonight, with sidewalks and streets covered in ice, and then snow fell this evening to top it all off … This cold snap continues through the week, and we will see minus twenties again.
After my Sunday event of trying to get from home, to the church and back home with dry feet failed, I had to do something. My favorite pair of boots failed on me again. I had a hair appointment Monday afternoon. Afterwards I went to “The Tire” to check out pro style rubber boots. I must say that they aren’t cheap. Fifty dollars later I had a pair of my own.
I had a conversation with a friend last night and told him about my trek and purchase, and I learned something from him … “Never let your feet get wet and cold” because that will kill you fast !
I’d never heard that before. But I never had a problem with wet socks and feet up until now. I always managed to get around slush puddles well. It was just terribly bad on Sunday. They had cleaned up that mess overnight, don’t know how they did it, but the puddles were all gone today.
I made the trek out this evening. When I got to the other end, it was slip and slide all the way down the hill to the church. People were lined up like penguins following each other step for step, managing the slick ice covered sidewalks.
We began a 35 week survey of the Big Book, with Joe and Charlie. Joe and Charlie are two sober members that host Big Book Weekends. I don’t know if they are still alive today, but we have the tapes, nonetheless. Once you get past the southern accents and the drawl speaking, and some don’t, they go over the book section by section. But they don’t just go over the book, they tell stories around the section of the book they are on.
Reading a book on any given subject is good. Going to university to learn about a topic or subject is good. You have a book to read, lectures to hear, and papers to write in the end. But I found over ten years of study, reading books that lie “around” my subject was also a good decision.
I have all kinds of books in my library that touch on many areas of let’s say religion, or theology, or spirituality … and on and on. Then I have books that I’ve collected that I have read to broaden my reading into other, familiar areas. I call that “Side Literature.”
The Big Book, is a stand alone read. It tells us about the problem, what doctors and others say about the problem, as it pertains to them, then it tells us the method on how to get sober, and offers a solution to our three fold problem, that being bodily, mentally and spiritually.
You can get sober if you read the book, hopefully with another set of eyes, to help you along. I’ve been reading the book for more than thirteen years, and to this day, every time I read from it, something new comes to light, even if the words are still that same.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve read all the historical books: A.A. Comes of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good old timers, Language of the heart (Grapevine articles), and Pass it On.
Aside from the main story told in the Big Book, the “side literature” speak about all those involved in the very first years, decades into today. It is good reading. The broader view of the main players in the fellowship give insight to how it all happened.
Now I listened to the first section of the tape tonight, and I heard the guys talk, and I knew what they were talking about and the who, what, where and why, because I added the side literature. This is all added knowledge for the guys I work with.
For a long time, I skimmed the surface. And that was sufficient to a point. And I thought tonight, that yes, I read the books, worked my steps, and did all that was told to me. And that was all well and good, again, for a while …
But I witnessed people doing something different, and I wanted to do it too. And I stepped up and joined the party going on around me. I went to round ups and listened to new people tell me how they did it, and what happened because of that work, again, I wanted that too. So I stepped up my game, and I did what they told me to do, and that made all the difference in my life.
There is a wealth of information to be had, if you know where to find it. All those books you see on the literature table at any given meeting, are meant to be read, not just meeting decoration on a table nobody really pays attention to. Yet we put it out at every meeting.
Pamphlets and literature are what keeps up going in between meetings.
This is merely a suggestion … Read the Books.
A new study method was introduced tonight. Not everyone was pleased with that choice. Hopefully they will come back for more, because this is a long haul project.
A good night was had by all. More to come, stay tuned …
It was a good night. More to come, stay tuned …
The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.
I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.
And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.
He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.
Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”
Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.
Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.
I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.
God has been on the front burner lately.
And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.
Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???
I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.
And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.
We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.
We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.
We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …
Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.
Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.
Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.
I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.
Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.
My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.
Ugh… newcomers !
In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.
We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …
With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…
I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.
Some did not get that memo.
Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.
Some folks with serious time, forget.
- They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
- They forget that they should be living in the solution.
- They forget what it was like to be new.
- They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
- They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
- They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
- And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.
Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.
I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.
I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.
I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.
Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.
Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.
Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.
It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.
Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.
It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.
If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.
We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.
And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.
I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!
UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!
More to come, stay tuned …
More to come, stay tuned …
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.
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 …
Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr
I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.
In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.
The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.
One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?
This is how we do it.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!
Are you listening??
I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.
In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.
On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.
There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.
It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.
And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.
In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.
The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.
The Mantra was “THE WORK.”
Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.
Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.
I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.
My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.
On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.
Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.
We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.
Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.
The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.
There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.
It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.
Thank God for technology and sponsorship.
They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.
Now they do their work.
Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”
Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!
We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.
So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.
This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.
It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.
I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.
What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?
We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.
I am very grateful for all that I have.
Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …
Another week has come and go. The weather is getting cold. This is the time of year where I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching weather come and go overhead.
The city is little by slowly getting taken over by elf magic. Decorations are going up in the stores, in the malls, on lamp posts, if it stands by itself, one can put lights on it, it seems.
From where we live, up as high as we are, weather is a huge feature of this home of ours.
Every night the sky is different. Every night, the sunset can be spectacular, and sometimes it is just meh ! This getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is definitely disconcerting.
Yesterday I was sitting outside and I watched a lone cloud, move from West to East, around the West end, and over the South Shore, (read: The south side of the St. Lawrence River), we are on the North side, the island of Montreal.
There were no other clouds nearby, not over our section of the city, that we can see. And this one cloud dropped rain over the South Shore, in one fluid movement, moving West to East.
Tonight, it was somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00, hubby had just gotten home from work, saying that he saw snow. I walked outside, and once again, there was a single cloud hanging over the South Shore, and it was snowing from that one cloud.
Our view is quite expansive. On a clear day we can see all the way to New York State, to the West, Mount Royal to the North, the South Shore to the South. The lighting in the section of the city is not white. It is more like an amber color in the streetlamps. The buildings on the west end are up lit from their roofs. And it is an optical illusion, but when it is cloudy or stormy, it seems the clouds drop out of the sky, and are lit from the ground and the buildings. Sometimes they cover the top of the mountain.
It is especially cool in the winter to watch the clouds come over. One can usually tell when the clouds are fit to burst with either rain or snow.
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This was an ordinary week, so far. Nothing exciting going on here.
Tuesday we sat a small group, and we read through Step Ten. All the usual suspects came, but we were missing some folks. Thursday we sit the same group of men, the ones holding together that meeting, one month at a time. We read from Living Sober … Getting Enough Rest.
Tonight I traveled across the city to North End English. The Friday Who’s Who meeting of the week.
Tonight’s reading … Who’s Responsibility ???
“… That is why sobriety – freedom from alcohol – through the teaching and practice of A.A. Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group ( read: or a group). If we don’t stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse we cannot help anyone.”
An A.A. group follows the singleness of purpose rule, our job is to welcome the newcomer, and anyone else who needs a meeting. That is our job. The first order of business, when we stop drinking, is to stay stopped. And the way we do that, is by coming, and listening, and watching. And learning …
We cannot solve all your problems. Social, Marital, Financial, etc …
An old timer spoke tonight telling the story about his life. He had all those kinds of problems. Our One Common problem, between us all is that (a) we were powerless over our alcoholism, and (b) that our lives had become unmanageable.
It is usually a foregone conclusion that if we remove the alcohol, usually, everything falls back into place. But not every situation is like that. Sometimes by the time we quit the drink, we have wrecked our relationships, our families, our spouses, and the lives of children, if we have them, our jobs and our financial security, sometimes all at once, or they fall, like dominoes, one at a time.
The first thing I (read: me) had to do was put down the drink. Because at that point, I was sick and delusional. I could not go on drinking like I had been. And for the first five months, this time around, I went to meetings, and I listened to people talk, I went through a couple passes of the Steps, Living Sober, and the Big Book. I was pretty well set, when I moved here, to get started.
I got connected right away. I worked very hard at doing everything right, hoping that I would never “want” to drink again. One of my friends and I were talking on the way home about wants and needs.
When I came back, I had thoughts about things I wanted … Things I thought were important.
God had other plans for me.
In the beginning, I relied on meetings and the people in those meetings, like I had never depended on anyone before. I wasn’t dependent on them, but I depended on them. Never in the last thirteen years, (almost), I have never had to go outside the rooms for anything.
Our meetings follow the singleness of purpose, true. The addendum to this is this …
We always get what we need, whenever we walk into a meeting. And in this program, if you’ve ever come in, went back out, and come back a second, third or fourth or fifth time, you gotta really “want it” to be able to get it.
I heard it tonight. A friend came in crazy, worried and afraid, and she spoke it to the meeting, and at the end of the meeting, several members stepped up and said, “We will help you …” Situation averted!
If there is something on your heart or on your mind, speak it to a meeting. If the need is great, and the desire is genuine, God will provide, one way or another. It may not come right away, but I’ve seen God turn things around within an hours time.
They also say that be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready, He will give it to you. Without even an expectation on the books.
Many people have come and gone through my life in sobriety. Not everyone is meant to be with us for the entire journey. I can tell you that there is only one woman, who is still in my life today, who was there when I got sober in the beginning. I see her at work, because she doesn’t go to meetings any more, but we are still close friends. I can always count on her for support.
God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This reading also talks about personal responsibility.
Firstly, We are responsible for ourselves and the decision we made to stop, and to Stay Stopped.
Once we put down the drink, we may or may not be very responsible, but we get there eventually. A good sponsor steps in at the right time, to support you. Our job, to help you stay sober, and get you through your steps. But not all at once, and surely not right away.
I’d rather help you sink into your seat and get comfortable with where you are, before The Work begins. In the beginning, all I had to do was get me to a meeting. I had to learn how to do that in a four season setting. That took work. A lot of work.
They gave me jobs to do in the beginning. Chairs and tables, for a long time. Months …
Then I made coffee, for a long time. I still make coffee to this very day.
That’s almost 13 years of weeks, making coffee for a meeting at least three times a week.
An urn usually holds 30 cups of coffee per night. I go to 4 meetings a week. I make coffee, three times a week. That is three urns of coffee a week, at thirty cups a night, times thirteen.
30 cups x 3 times a week x 365 days x 13 years = that’s 427,050 cups of coffee in 13 years.
I learned how to be responsible for simple things, which prepared me for the bigger things.
I had good people in my life all along, from the very beginning. Who taught me very important lessons about life, love, responsibility, accountability, etc …
I got that all from the meetings, and the people in them.
Little by slowly, I got a life.
Little by slowly, I got the man.
Little by slowly, I got the home I wanted.
Little by slowly, I got the education.
Little by slowly, I got the marriage. Next Thursday it will be 10 years …
And little by slowly, in December, I will reach thirteen years sober on December 9th.
It did not come all at once. I learned that I go to meetings. I talk things out. I work my steps.
Then God says … ok, now you’ve done the homework, let’s see you work it out in real time.
And one by one, I get a little study time, a little think time, and a long period of work it out time.
Then the cycle repeats itself. Season after season, year after year.
I am responsible.
Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there,
And for that I am responsible.
God has been good, to me and my fellows. Not all times are good. Sometimes things can get very shitty and it seems that God steps out of the picture for a time, I’m not sure why that happens, maybe we need to learn something about ourselves ( read; study period) then He re-engages.
The only thing we have to change when we get sober is everything.
It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can be downright HARD !
But they tell us, wisely, to stick around until the miracle occurs.
More to come, stay tuned …
“I get everything I need in Alcoholics Anonymous – 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.”
Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, page: 552.
Courtesy: James Clear – Flickr
It isn’t snowing, yet … But we are hovering right around ( +2c with a low of -2c) tonight.
And I just love this photo as well.
It is a bit chilly out. And last night we turned the clocks back, which fucked up overnight radio, but I slept a good night’s sleep anyways. Some folks did not get the memo over the weekend, and some of our number were all discombobulated worrying that they would be late, when in reality, they did not turn their clocks back last night.
I’ve been noticing that some bus stops have been moved farther away from their original locations, and now we have to walk farther to get a bus than the local usual stop. And the city workers have pulled up many flowerbeds and planters in anticipation of the coming snows.
They city does that, they plant great flower beds and tall growing plants in planters located all around the intersections all over town. Knowing that when it snows, those plants and flowers stand no chance of survival once snow begins to pile up, so they dig them up early, and most probably, they end up in a compost heap somewhere.
I got to the church, and I was soon followed by new people to make coffee, set up and greet. With numbers of folks, set up takes mere minutes. Then we all waited.
At 6 the bells ring in the bell tower. Most of the chairs were still empty. I figured that folks were slow today because of the time change, but in the end we sat a full house. This month one of our women who is new to the program and just crossed her year, is chairing for the first time, and that is always exciting. We are all so proud of her.
We are one more story closer to the end of the book, with the reading of “A Late Start.”
“It’s been ten years since I retired, seven years since I joined A.A. Now I can truly say that I am a grateful alcoholic.”
After reading a story like this one, one can easily say, “better late than never.”
Our woman who writes this story, had a life, a family, and everything else that came with it. Then, one by one, she began loosing things. First a child, then a husband, and her life soon followed. Drinking came late, but did not spare her suffering. No matter what age you start drinking, the end point is always the same for those of us who just can’t stop.
She came, she saw, and she scoffed. For a long time, she listened and at least she kept showing up. Like many people we see today, coming to and then the coming to believe is a tall order. The other kicker in this story is our writers inability to admit powerlessness over the drink. Many of us fight tooth and nail to maintain control, in some way, and end up kicking and screaming all the way to the bank, until we finally become willing to admit we are licked.
Many, have to come to the point that they are willing to be willing.
We hear the same words. We read the same slogans. And in time we either find it, or we end up warming a chair until that magic moment that we become part of. And in our writers case, after some time in sobriety she says, quite pointedly that “she will never be responsible to or for anyone else ever again!”
It took her years to become willing. YEARS.
Eventually she reached the point that she was ready and willing to give it away, and work with another alcoholic.
But as the book says in A Vision for You … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got!”
I heard a friend say tonight that it was his experience that he is stubborn, like our writer tonight.
“NO, I don’t need your help,
Help me …
NO, I don’t want to talk to you,
Call me … “
Am I coming or am I going?
I am hearing a very familiar message from our women, who are homed at our Sunday group. They have all had the experience of getting sober and coming to and then coast for a number of years. At some point in the game they realized that they were stagnant, and they needed a pick me up. And so they found other women who knew the way into living in the book, in the steps and in the solution.
And now they’ve all really “Come to Believe” that the only way to LIVE IT is to be IN IT.
To be IN it to WIN it…
Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
Nothing gives me/us more pleasure than to try and make a difference in another human beings life in that most important period of time, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after. We got all the way around the room, and while we ate cake, we talked to each other. Trying to give hope that things WILL eventually get better. You just got to stick around and believe that WE believe in you and are here for you as well. And that simple statement can change a life in ways one would never expect.
Our five year celebrant this evening has just come off a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa …
That little tid bit of information got everybody going. It was very exciting.
I reiterated the thought about your chair, and learning to get comfortable in your chair, and to listen from your chair and that eventually, you will say something from your chair, that will change someones life, so stick around.
The only thing you have to change in sobriety is EVERYTHING. That’s what the book says.
And you know how control freak alcoholics resist change as if change was fire …
Eventually we learn that to let go, make the admission, come, and then come to, that is when life begins to change, and don’t you want to turn it around and help another alcoholic? That’s the whole point. To get better, to learn and to change, and then allow your experience, strength and hope to bring another human on board.
In order to keep it, we must give it away.
I think we did that in spades tonight.
We laughed, we cried, we ate CAKE !!!
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
It was a hit or miss weekend for weather. A little of this, a little of that. Our good stretch of weather came to and end overnight Friday. All that rain they called for did not fall. ( they called for four days of rain).
I always attribute the “hit or miss” aspect to the weather to the frequent flyovers of high altitude aircraft that crisscross the island dropping whatever they drop from planes into the air above the city.
So that is a thing …
Friday was had a good showing and we talked about God, (as we understood Him) in the reading from A.B.S.I. The read speaks about what we call our power greater than ourselves. For every human being that walks into a room, there is a concept. And in the spirit of respect, every point of view must be respected. There is a dichotomy …
This reading #73 comes from a letter written by Bill W. in 1950.
He writes here that you can believe in ANY power greater than yourself, whether that be the room, its people, or God for that matter. It is a liberal thought that whatever works for you is good.
BUT in the Big Book, it says that we eventually come to the point where God comes into the picture. The notion of God is written into the book, as if everyone comes to that one same conclusion. In the back of the book, the book reads that:
… many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. Appendix II – Spiritual Experience.
Here is the rub … On one hand Bill says that whatever concept you come up with will work, and nobody has the right to tell you that you can’t or that it is wrong, that we should respect each others beliefs. BUT on the other hand, it all comes down to God Consciousness.
Some people find themselves at odds with this dichotomy.
I know what my concept of a Higher Power is, and that would be God. But that isn’t the same for a number of my friends, and my guys as well. Some may not believe in God, but they have their own concept that works for them, so be it.
I tell this story to my friends. Come to a room and stick and stay, Watch your fellows get sober. This is a long term proposition. Eventually, one or another is going to have a spiritual experience. I’ve seen it happen, many times. The light rises from the belly, up to the head, and comes to rest above them, it is a figure of speech, but the idea is that they have an experience of God, or the power greater than themselves, and if you are there and paying attention, God moves.
So that is a thing …
We sat a full house tonight. We are 5 stories from the end of the Big Book. It has been a year since we started reading the book. That’s a year of Sundays and we will complete the read on November 16th. Between now and then we need to come up with our next reading plan. We are flying by the seat of our pants as of late because our matriarch has been ill and hasn’t been here to chair the next business meeting. The meeting must go on, and we all pitch in to make sure it does.
Tonight’s read … Empty on the Inside.
I identified with feelings and parts of the story. Our writer was a low bottom drunk. Once she started drinking, she never wanted to stop. She flunked out of school, married a man she didn’t really care about, had children she could not possibly take care of nor love properly. Finally she came to when she writes about having one of “THOSE hangovers” and the signs fell before her, one after another.
It is actually emphasized like that in the book.
For me, I prayed for one of “THOSE” hangovers. I needed that final recognition that the end was in front of me. It was one of those signals I needed from God that yes, it was time to STOP. It was great, this evening, that a couple of old timers I really enjoy listening to at meetings came tonight, and I heard that story I hoped to hear.
One of them, was deluded, well, terribly deluded, that he could drink, and drink, and drink. And that his ability to drink copious amounts of liquor was all due to the fact that he had superior genes, that allowed him that ability. Until he had come to the end and had one of THOSE hangovers …
It wasn’t good genes. It was delusion.
Since the crowd was big, we did not get back around the circle. But is was a good evening.
It was a bit chilly on the way home. Definitely a night to layer clothing.
For the last week, I have been in some serious pain. I don’t know what did it, or how it happened. But from my right shoulder to my right wrist, there has been unmanageable pain. Not banging, not pounding, but slow and steady pain that wares at my consciousness. My right arm is my dominant arm, my writing hand, and my mouse hand. Sitting at my desk is becoming a problem. Hubby got me some creme for my arm that I use, and advil to try and alleviate the pain, but that only goes so far.
I called the doc last week and he won’t be in the office until Tuesday coming up. I believe it is an internal problem, and not external as in “a creme will make it all go away.” Not sure quite what the problem is, but it is becoming a real pain in my ass. (Well my shoulder really!)
And that is the last thing to talk about tonight.