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 …
Damn … It is COLD outside. We are sitting at (-17c/-23c w.c.) Winds are light, but it is still Frigid.
The week ended in a flurry of people, places and meetings.
The Work continues as new folks have been introduced into our sober family.
Pigeons have pigeons, which means we all have considerable work to do.
Friday is always the best day / night of the week.
I quadruple layered for my trip tonight, and yes, the rubber boots came in very handy.
Or should I say, Footy !!!
They keep my feet nice and toasty, not to mention warm European sox to go with them. A good portion of my wardrobe comes from other places.
I departed early because of snow en route. Tonight’s theme was, “you just missed the train …”
Both going and on my return, there were trains in the station, but my timing was a little off, because I watched them all leave without me, and I had to wait and entire cycle for a train. During rush hour, trains run every 3 to 4 minutes. Off hours trains run every 6 to 9 minutes.
Up on the North End, they are still plowing snow. It was piled up all over the place. The mini dozers were corralling snow for later pick up tonight. Which made it tricky for buses so they dropped us on the street, outside the berms.
We sat a large crowd as usual. And as I said, Friday is the best night of the week.
Every meeting begins the same way, but Friday, is a little different.
This is the place that all our friends come to. It is the rallying point for the weekend. Fellowship after the meeting is part and parcel of going to the Friday meeting. It is part and parcel for many meetings, it gives our young people stuff to do outside the meeting.
When we sit together, around the table, there are small table lights on the tables, and not that oppressive overhead fluorescent light. We call it Mood Lighting …
The chair rings the bell, and calls the room to attention, makes the necessary announcements. Then invites everyone to take a moment of silence before we say the Serenity Prayer.
And I wait all week for this one moment.
Our collective, friends, family, fellows and elders, take a deep breath and center ourselves for a moment, chairs go quiet, the room gets quiet, and for that moment it feels like we are ONE.
Then the chair calls for prayer, and it is spiritual song.
It is that way at every meeting, and everybody is important. Every moment of silence to think perhaps of someone out there or in here who is suffering …
The sound of my friends voices is music to my ears. This is the one night where we are all together in the same room at the same time. One says that “there is an energy in the room, that is palpable.”
The reading, from A.B.S.I. Watching Loneliness Vanish.
People drank to escape, People drank to be alone. At the bitter end, we are all alone, in varying degrees, suffering and lonely. We hear the common story from old timers about the slogan, that isn’t on a placard in many meetings, however it can be found,
“YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE.”
It is better to be on the inside, I heard it again tonight. I heard another young person speak about The Work Passionately, and suggest, quite seriously, that The Work is the way to go. That it saved their life after returning from a devastating slip.
Proviso … Sober people get lonely too. It is not uncommon.
That little voices tells us we are different and have nothing in common with others, which in turn, keeps us from connecting and engaging. And little by slowly, the space grows between people, and if that space gets wide enough, a slip is not that far off.
People suffer from “I am unique” and “I like to be alone and isolate.” Our young women are devastated by these ideas. They seem to suffer more the terminal uniqueness than do our young men. But we do find our men, don’t connect right away either, that takes time.
The girls feel, too much, the boys think, they over think too much. Both troublesome problems.
I tell and retell this story over and over, and it still gets discussion.
The first time I got sober, I was waiting to die. I was going to meetings in a hall that treated me like a race horse, with wagers on my head as to when I would skip out and drink again.
So that first year was a lap around the race track, and on my anniversary, I took that chip and told the guys there to go Fuck themselves… I never went back to that meeting. I had a job that I loved. I was well cared for. Everyone was sober, my sponsor worked there as well. I was safe for those two years.
I had everything I ever needed or wanted. I had a safety net that kept me alive, fed and sober.
When that run ended and I was the only one who did not go West, I was alone, and left to my own devices. I did not carry what I had inside forwards. i was clueless about what I was supposed to do with nobody to help me do it.
(Read: Move city, Move House, carry a life forwards, stay sober).
Remember I lived in the South, technically. Florida was South, and people were as ignorant and heartless as they were all over the deep red south.
At the two year mark, I was asked to speak to a particular meeting. Of course I said yes.
What I did not think about was disclosure and how that would go over.
There were a couple hundred folks in the meeting. As I was telling my story, the men began to get up and leave the hall, 100 men got up and left the hall while I was speaking. When I finished, I went outside to find them waiting for me. One stepped up and said …
“We don’t respect people like you, please leave this place and don’t come back.”
Go get sober some place else.
Now, I am a twenty something kid, with a bulls eye on my back. I was alone. New to the area and that meeting hall, I did not know anyone except a couple of folks. And they tell me to leave and not come back.
I was lonely, I was alone. Fighting a battle by myself, one to stay sober, the other was to stay alive.
The loss of my sober family and secondly, this toss off comment, drove me out the door and into a slip that almost killed me, because I went looking for something to make me NOT alone, it was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life.
Insert Slip Story Here … I’m not gonna tell it
On my way back, I had three friends. Two were out of sight and out of mind, the third was my drinking/drugging buddy. I lived alone, I worked alone, I had no life, and so I went to the club every Saturday night with my buddy. He would dope up and I would drink myself black.
Delusional thoughts of if I drink enough, they will notice me and take me in. If I drink enough, I will never grow up and I will become part of the “beach crowd.” None of those things happened.
I knew the last drink, when it came. I prayer for deliverance via another alcoholic.
I went to my first gay meeting. That did not go so well. Nobody noticed me. So I sat outside the hall until the 10 p.m. meeting where Fonda, Ed and Rob and Christian found me, alone on the stoop.
Fonda gave me a hug, and welcomed me into the room and brought me coffee.
They noticed me. And from that moment, I was never alone again.
With some time, I arrived here, sadly, a second time, I heard another alcoholic tell me to go get sober somewhere else. That I was unwelcome in their meeting. I never went back there to this day.
You want to alienate a human being who is new, alone, and seeking help,
Tell them to go get sober somewhere else.
It is a good thing I stuck around. I tell this story as a warning to the pitfalls of the human condition in the rooms. You need to connect, because there are sick alcoholics in some rooms. And they justify their ignorance behind sexism, homophobia, egos and attitudes. Good Christian values.
I did all the right things. I met all the right people. I owe my life to the fellowship in Montreal.
I’ve never been more happier than I am today. I am in it to win it. I do what I am told.
We are deep in The Work. All of us. Nobody is alone in our sober family.
Now that I work with others, and I give it away, and I teach The Work to my guys, they are now teaching The Work to their guys. We are four generations strong tonight.
We are part of a grand collective of many faiths, hearts, traditions and languages.
Unified under a common affliction. And we deal with it together as one.
Nobody is left out in the cold. Our men and women know they are no longer alone.
You too can Never be alone again …
Gratitude. Lots of Gratitude.
More to come, stay tuned…