Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. AIDS – THIS IS MY PRIDE – SURVIVAL !!! A Wordpress Production

Dreams

Friday … First Thought Wrong !!!

indian thoughtSo it is a little colder tonight. ( -8c w.c. -14c) It was not so bad, without wind in your face. However I chose to layer a little better tonight, than last night. I have a particular polar sweater, which I never wear, because it is cumbersome and warm. Add that to a Henley, and it was downright toasty!

Friday’s are productive and when all my work was done for the day, I got my power nap in before having to get ready to go.

And damned if I had one of my regular dreams, this one repeats itself in varying ways, its the same people, the same situation, but the way I work out that situation is different every time the dream comes to me. And it usually ends, without resolution. (read: my alarm clock always gets the last word, and the dream is incomplete, EVERY time).

I knew I was in this dream, and I was hell bent on seeing it through to resolution. The dream involves me having to get myself away from someone (who shall remain nameless) it doesn’t really matter. But I was involved with her a long time ago.

Getting away … It isn’t as cut and dry as it seems, the getting away is always complicated, each dream presents a new problem/route, that I never get to the end of, so I guess the dream repeats itself every so often, to see if I get to the end or not.

In which case, today, I finally got to the end…

How do you get away from someone who makes it totally difficult to just walk away, of ones free will?

This time, it was getting past a security system. And people who work in the security office, who do their damnedest, to make sure you can’t get away. And once you got past security, you had to secure a ticket for a bus, that comes on a schedule, (that took several attempts in the dream) I got stuck several times in the office, which is at the entrance to the property which I am trying to get off of.

Moving from the main house, where one is stuck, getting all your electronic devices which have been tampered with, intentionally, (read: my phone) which was hacked and killed… I had to get across a plot of land to the exit security office. Then get past the watchers. Get myself to the station, just down the road, get a ticket, and finally be able to get on that bus, which took me away …

I needed my phone, and I had to get it away from the person who had it, (that took several attempts in the dream). Finally I secured my phone, but in the end it was useless to me. All the while, as I am trying to move through these steps, there is always someone trying to drag me back to the property against my will. I would get past the office and to the station, only to be thwarted repeatedly.

It just kept cycling over and over, and each cycle I got closer to the bus.

I could feel I was coming to the end of my nap cycle. The alarm clock was getting very close. I was cradling one of hubby’s pillows sleeping, and he came in and pulled it away, and I was just at the brink of success, and I wanted it to end, finally, so I held on to the bitter end.

Then the alarm clock rang …

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

I had a half hour to get ready to go, made a couple of phone calls, and headed out. In some areas, there is black ice crusted on the sidewalks, it was a very gingerly transit. When I got to the church, there was a blanket of snow in the yard. The yard is big enough that when it really snows, you have to use the sidewalk, and not walk through the snow across the yard.

We sat a full house. As usual.

“Following a gossip binge, we can well ask ourselves these questions: “Why did we say what we did? were we only trying to be helpful and informative? Or were we not trying to feel superior by confessing the other fellow’s sins? Or, because of fear and dislike, were we really aiming to damage him?”

This would be an honest attempt to re-examine ourselves, rather than the other fellow.

Grapevine, August 1961.

The rest of the reading speaks about inventory, credits and debits. And ends with, even when we have tried hard and failed, we may chalk that up as one of the greatest credits of all.

So, Gossip, Inventory, Words …

In the book it talks about resentment, selfishness, self centeredness, dishonesty and fear …

There were several threads …

Personal situations, work situations, life lessons, Inventories and gossip.

At some point after we get sober and begin our steps, we get to step four, in our own time and at our own pace. This step is always a work in progress, because it never comes out perfectly, and we get to repeat our steps continually, as we stay sober, long term.

We all have situations that arise daily. And we either do (A) get riled up, come out firing with guns blazing, shoot our mouths off, and intentionally hurt someone else, or (B) before we open our mouths, we engage our brains, and think the thought through carefully.

In May, I attended my first Men’s Intensive weekend. And in my notes, I have written, “First Thought Wrong.” Meaning, the young man who said this, said that usually when he has a thought about a certain situation, that his first thought is wrong. Which brings a modicum of process when finally he decides to speak.

Words are powerful.

Used correctly, they can change, uplift and encourage.

Used incorrectly, and those words can destroy, tear down and discourage.

I’ve learned from my past that I listened to my father tear me apart, in many ways. I swore I would never become him. But coming into my own, as a gay man, I learned how to be catty and bitchy from the best drag queens on earth. It was ones pedigree, to be able to cut someone to pieces in short order. (read: taking someones inventory, either in front of them or behind their backs).

I have that ability. And sometimes, in the past, I have used it liberally, without thinking through the consequences.

I have grown up …

I have said that sometimes, I talk with my friends, and sometimes we don’t usually pay attention to words. But for the most part, when needed, words come, and they usually are from someone other than myself. Sometimes I sit here and write words that come from another part of me, I get wisdom from a source other than myself.

When I work with people, on a sober or pastoral level, words have power, and if I misuse my words, I take liberty with someone else’s life. It so happened that I was asked for advice, and knowing the human being I was talking to, before I answered him, I picked my words gently, and carefully.

Sometimes I don’t do so well.

And other times I do do well.

It all depends on thought.

Am I using words to build up someone and encourage them and to enlighten them? Or am I just spouting words, without thought, never considering the consequences of those words?

When we make an inventory, we are taking stock of goods, thoughts, problems, Issues, resentments, etc … An inventory, is an excellent tool for use, post inventory. Some people burn their inventories when they finish, I did that several times. This past round, it is in a nice little notebook, I keep on my desk. From that inventory, I work six through eight.

It is good that I have someone to talk to every day, (read: my sponsor and a choice couple of others)

It is good to get a really SOBER take on life, from some one much longer sober than myself. But my sponsor is a little crazy at times, and has a sense of humor, but he always comes back to brass tacks: In the end, if I did not drink to day, it was a good day. And that simple thought, keeps it simple.

Every day we use words. How are you using yours?

Think about it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Better than Gold

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Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano

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

A.B.S.I. #57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – Panic Attack

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Courtesy: Shinybrat

The week quietly comes to an end. And the weather lately has been stellar. We hit double digits again. But it is still a bit cool. I had downgraded my coat for a hoodie, but tonight I was a bit chilled.

My days have been full of things to do. I find that doing the next right thing, over and over, in succession, takes up a lot of time, which leaves time to make phone calls (a little later than usual).

The end of the week means check in dates for coffee to discuss progress and make plans for the week to come. A daily written Tenth Step has proved to be very fruitful when working with my guys, so they can monitor their progress and can share with me thoughts and reflections as they happened.

We are gearing up for a run through Steps for both my guys. I learned today that there is indeed a step workbook for the M.A. book. The M.A. book covers the steps and gives explanation on each step, but it doesn’t tell you HOW to work the step. Everybody is glad that we will be working with two texts instead of one.

I have started my 4th Step timeline. After a couple of days worth of nightmares about it, I actually spoke to my aunt out West about dates and events that I had questions about. She mentioned the collection of photos that she had sent me some time ago to help jog my memory, I had not thought about them, so now I can use them.

We hit the meeting tonight a bit early, which was nice because it was so nice outside that we spent a good chunk of time sitting on the steps outside talking before the meeting.

We sat a good crowd. Lots of happy shiny people. Friday is always a good night to hob nob. The one night where most of our friends meet from all over the city.

We talked about “Living Serenely.” From A.B.S.I.

It was a good discussion. Towards the end of the meeting, I was sitting in my chair, and I happened to look down to the floor and noticed that my bag was missing. Not that it had something priceless in it, but I had a momentary panic attack like I had never had before.

When we arrived at the hall I walked in and put my bag down in a chair that I later did not sit in. I sat myself a few chairs down from where I started. And forgot about my bag, and then all of a sudden, towards the end of the meeting, I began to freak out while one of my friends was sharing. My heart started pounding and I began to sweat. I got up and looked around, in the bathroom, to the stairs outside. I couldn’t remember whether I carried the bag off the bus on the way there, or where I had put it. By now the chair noticed that something was wrong with me because I was freaking out, for some unknown reason.

I guess I am a little on edge …

In the end my bag was on that chair and we were reunited.

All’s well that ends well.

Tomorrow is our day out with my friends from out of town.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Tap Tap Tap …

francis

“The way you make people feel says a lot about you.” Jordan Bach

Add another stellar day to the calendar. At the sun’s zenith this afternoon, it was quite steamy out. And the sweaty, dirty, humpy roofer men were up on a second roof just cranking out another new roof.

Several of these men took matters into their own hands as I watched them cut the sleeves off their shirts because it was so steamy up there, out in the sun.

They have another day’s work ahead of them, but the roof is covered and they still have a layer of roofing to put down.

It was a glorious day. I ran some errands, did some supermarket safari this morning after waking in the middle of a very strange dream.

I was on a sinking ship and then found myself in a foreign place, but at the end of the dream, I met up with someone who had been looking for me and knew my name and where I came from … The rest of the dream is gone and I woke up before I could figure out just what was going on.

That’s what usually happens in these technicolor dreams that take place at the very end of a sleep cycle.

I almost went back to bed to see if I could reconnect with the dream and let it play itself out, but that never happens either. Once a dream ends, it is impossible to reconnect to it, later …

I’ve not been able to work that one out.

So I got up – dressed – went to the store – got my laundry money and came home and proceeded to do laundry for the week since we were on our last pairs of underwear in the dresser.

You know its time to do laundry when you run out of clean underwear…

I departed early because I had stops to make on the way and I arrived at the church early and cranked out set up – I had brought a book with me but I was satisfied with listening to music on my phone.

I can’t get enough of Fleetwood Mac.

We sat a full compliment. One of our elder statesmen was in the chair. And he chose to read from Daily Reflections and The Spiritual Angle.

There was a healthy discussion of all things spiritual. From quoting the Big Book and hearing the sainted words of sponsors past, and what each of us has learned about the spiritual path, that is recovery.

One friend has returned to church looking for God, and in that quest to find God, he has a lot of questions. Then he said this … “I’ve never had a spiritual experience of the extraordinary kind, but the educational variety”

And I am half waiting for God to drop out of heaven and tap me on the shoulder and say “Hey, here I am, I wasn’t lost, you were…”

Another member said that if we only took the time to get quiet, and listen for that still small voice, we would make room for God to make His presence known to us.

Tap, Tap, Tap … “This is God, Here I am. I’ve been sitting her waiting for you to find me. All you have to do is look within and notice the breath in your lungs and the life you have – and there I am.”

I’ve lived a long life to this date. And there are many occasions I could tell you about where I saw or felt God’s presence.

The most important spiritual experience, well two of them in fact that happened when I was in seminary and just after I left was when David came to me after he had died.

The first time was the night of his wake – I was there. I returned to the school and went into the chapel to pray. I was alone, and along the back wall of the chapel were confessionals. I heard a door open and footsteps that moved from the back wall to the altar in front of me. The sacrament candle exploded and illuminated the high mural on the back wall above me.

And there was David, standing in front of me wearing my favorite shirt, the one he appeared to me in twice. And he said not to be sad, that he was free.

I have a Miraculous Mary medallion that his mother gave me when he died. I wear it still, to this day. I never leave the house without it.

The second time David appeared was in San Francisco. I had gone on a trip to San Francisco with colleagues. I went on a Mission District tour of an old church. In the graveyard was a life like statue of St. Anthony, our patron saint.

I heard a voice that bade me to follow. So I did. i walked into the church and up to the lectern and a voice said to me “look up …” I looked up and there was David standing on the balcony above the congregation seating.

God exists. And He does great things for us.

When I got sober the first time, God made manifest in the guise of Todd, who became my greatest champion. When I was sick, he took care of me, when I cried, He held me, when I was lost, he found me. And in my worst times, he lifted me up, unlike any other man, IN MY LIFE !!!

I did not die, But I lived.

There is a God.

Over the past almost twelve years, I’ve attended hundreds of meetings in the same space since I got sober. That’s many meetings. That’s hundred of people that have come and gone from those rooms.

If you want to see God – go to a meeting. Participate in someone else’s life. Watch them, over time, get clean and sober. 

See the life return, see the light rise in their eyes, and watch THEM find a God of their own understanding, trust me, you WILL see God.

You never know when something you say, may bring God closer to someone than He’s ever been.

I know that this spiritual practice we engage in takes time, and like all things, takes practice, prayer, and patience. I know that after all these years, my spiritual practice has given me words that are not mine at times.

During my days, a multitude of situations may arise. People come into my life right at the right moment, or vice versa, I come into their lives at the right time, because I get to share words with them. I find I have words in my heart that appear when needed and are useful.

Sometimes a kind word comes, a teaching, a lesson from experience, that I get to pass on to someone who might need it. And that has happened in the past few days. On a number of occasions.

When do you pray ???

It depends. It depends on the moment, and what is in front of me. I have friends all over the world by association and in person. Those people I know personally, and those I follow as part of a specific community.

Numerous times a day, someone writes … “Please pray for this or that…”

And momentarily, I stop and I say a prayer. I send light in a specific direction to a particular person. And in the moment I connect with the God of my understanding and WE participate in the life of another, if only for a moment.

Then, at the end of my night, when I sit here and close my day, I recall all those people from the day, and I mention them to God once more, as I give them over for the night into the hands of God.

I’ve learned how to do this over time.

I also realized today after hearing someone mention “church” at the meeting tonight, that he was sitting in Phillips Square … Which is a small square downtown with a statue and several street shops, where people congregate, and across the street from there is Christ Church Cathedral.

And this man walked across the square and went into the church, where he sat down, and eventually knelt to pray. And in that moment, he sat with God.

I realized that yes I go to the Cathedral for services on the odd occasion.

But I miss the sacrament.

I miss the tabernacle and the presence of the Body of Christ in the church.

There are hundreds of churches in this city. Most of them tourist traps. I used to travel to Old Montreal to Notre Dame Cathedral Church/Sacre Coeur to pray before the blessed sacrament.  I haven’t done that in a long long time.

But that message made itself perfectly clear to me as I was sitting in a meeting.

Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

I know for me – God exists.

I’ve made space for him in my life.

And that took almost twelve years of sobriety to realize.

And I think I will end on that note.

Goodnight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Introspection – What do I do Now ???

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

It was another glorious day today. Fresh Air and Blue skies…

It was a busy day today running errands and taking care of business here at home. Finances have been tight and the promise of ” fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us” comes to light in such situations. It is good to be UP on financial responsibilities and on top of the bills and home finances.

I was a little late tonight, having to make stops on the way that took longer than I had expected, because they could not find my huge bag filled with pills in the mass of bags that had been filled recently at the pharmacy. I saw new faces behind the wicket so that was the challenge.

It seems the mall is in the final stages of preparation for the BIG REVEAL that is coming very soon now. The spaces on the mezzanine level outside of IGA and Pharmaprix are coming along. The ground floor is still in process as I noticed tonight that they are again working on the floor and other shop spaces that were open are now blocked off and being worked on.

Set up went quickly. And I set out more than enough tables tonight, almost begging God to bring us more folks tonight. I am of the mind that “If you build it, they will come!” and come they did. We sat a fair number tonight.

Most of our guests, aside from the group members who have considerable time, are new to the program. A good sign, that we have work to do and people to work with.

Our chair for the evening spoke to us in opening the floor to discussion with recent events that will translate into a topic.

A number of his sponsees are working their steps, and having transited 4 through 9 – the actual writing and inventory and personal house cleaning they have reached the “MAINTENANCE” steps … 10, 11 and 12.

And the question invariably comes up … “What do I do now?”

We’ve just spent the better part of our sober time working on ourselves and writing the garbage that was our past on to paper and we’ve made lists of character defects and shortcomings, we’ve discussed them with our sponsors and each other, and we step into the final part of recovery.

Most people who get here get the stock answer … “let’s turn to page 84 in the Big Book and let’s read the Tenth Step.”

“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it …”

For the women, who really know how to pound the book, would tell us that this is a written step that one does every day. To actually sit down and write a tenth step in order to speak it to our sponsors the next day during our appointed call time. For those of you paying attention … The women are always working on something. And calling every day EVERY DAY, is standard operating procedure.

Most men do not call each other every day or every other day for that matter.

We read from the book, on ten, making that impromptu inventory, we then set it to prayer and meditation (step 11) and we go to meetings and we work with others (step 12).

In the beginning we rely on the book and a good sponsor to guide us into the parts of the book that will, over time, become rote. We learn what it means to work 10, 11 and 12, we read the book, we act it out for ourselves, and each other and we carry the message to others coming up the ranks.

Once we’ve taken the inventory steps and done the work, we know a little about who we were, what happened and we now sit with what we are like now. And in some cases, here is where we get our lives handed back to us to actively work towards building the life we have been promised in the book.

And it is work. But it is not the big, bad and demeaning work, but it is positive and uplifting and enhancing to our sobriety. We have, for some, found a power greater than ourselves that we turn our lives over to every day, for most, it is God, but there are some, as I have said recently, cannot find God, if he came down from heaven and stood in front of them …

But I digress …

On a daily basis now, we take spot inventory during our day. We notice where we might be off and where an amend might be prudent. And I’ve heard it said over and over, if you are having a bad day … You CAN start your day over at any time of the day as needed.

There is also the practice of writing a gratitude list every day, to keep us mindful of all the good things in our lives on a daily basis.

We should, by now, have begun the formation of spiritual practice. Post finding that power greater than yourself we learn how to pray, for those who may not know how to pray or who to pray to, the universe, God or something that brings you peace and comfort.

For me that is God.

A while back a good lady friend of mine gave me a package of prayer cards, 12 in fact. A prayer for each step and a few dropped in here or there. I keep these cards by the computer and I read them every morning and every night before bed. A little help in the prayer department never hurt.

They say that Prayer is the speaking to God bit, but after we’ve spoken our words, we should cultivate “time to listen” for an answer. And that is where meditation comes in. (Step 11)

“Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood him. praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”

Prayer comes in many forms and can be done throughout the day and night, as we learn how to incorporate this practice into our lives. The serenity prayer is very popular. For the religious members, The Our Father and other assorted prayers come to mind.

And now, we should have, as I have mentioned in the past, built our lives around our meetings, and namely our Home Group. A Home Group is a non-negotiable night. You always attend your home group, because that is where we get connected and we learn to do service.

Because it is in working with others, that we get to practice the 12th Step.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.”

Nothing guarantees our sobriety like direct work with another alcoholic. If we have read the book, worked with our sponsors and gone to enough meetings, and we have come – we’ve come to – and we’ve been restored to sanity, we get to share our experience with others who come up behind us.

Our lives, our stories, the what, where, who, when and why of our stories is what makes us who we are. And at some point, someone is going to ask you to share/speak at a meeting. I would say that when we speak, we have arrived.

We’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months talking in discussion meetings, We’ve been a numerous speaker meetings, we’ve been to Big Book and Step meetings, and all along, we are working on ourselves.

We have, in essence, been polishing the diamond that is our lives, with a little help from the God of our understanding, and each other.

The final three steps are meant to get us into the practice of actively living and working a sober lifestyle. It is our choice what we do with our lives, once we’ve cleared the wreckage of the past.

The promises state that (in time) we will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.

We are not who we were, or what we did or what we have said.

You are WHO you are at this very moment. Right now, as you read this. It was your choice to change and your choice to cultivate the life you are now living.

I have said over and over that there is no greater blessing than to attend the same meetings over the years and watching folks get sober.

Because when they come in they are sad and disillusioned. They come, they come to and they begin the work. And in time, the gem begins to appear and over time that gem gets polished, and in the end it sparkles with the life that has been renewed and that is YOU.

Embrace the 10th, 11th and 12th steps.

They will dictate the person you become, as you work the program.

It was a good night.

Now it is time for dinner. More to come, stay tuned …


As We Understood Him …

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Courtesy: Noneedtoaskmyname

It has been bitterly cold. The weather has been changing by the hour here today. What began as snow/rain squalls earlier today has turned into clear skies and bitter cold. The Temps at this hour are (-12c/-24c with the wind chill).

It was an uneventful weekend. But it has also been very productive for me, in ways that are different from the usual days in and out. I am enjoying my daily routine of getting up early, getting things done, and having my afternoon nap with hubby. I am really loving sleep. Because I’ve been practicing my prayer and meditation and shutting down my brain for a couple of hours in the afternoon and it seems to be working very well.

I am finding that it is in simple things that make my heart sing. I am taking bits of my day and learning to be satisfied with that, instead of woofing a huge plate of things. For some, who suffer from “more, more and more” it is a daily grace to be satisfied with a nibble. And this relates to our reading from today.

I set off early for the meeting. I was looking forwards to seeing if the mall had made any other significant changes to its floor plan. And that hasn’t changed in the past week. But that doesn’t mean that it won’t.

I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and settle in for the meeting, On the way our chair texted me and asked me to chair for him tonight, which was cool with me. We cover for each other when it is necessary.

We sat a fair number of folks. With different amounts of time. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 4, “We Agnostics.” It was a short read tonight which ended in the Appendix II, “A Spiritual Experience.”

… We find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality of the program. Willingness, Honesty and Open Mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” Herbert Spencer

We are instructed, early in the Big Book, to refer to this reading amid the text of the book. I remember hearing it read at other times as we have begun reading the book from the beginning this time around.

The notion of “finding our own conception of God” is taught to us from the very beginning. Because we find that many have differences of opinions about God, be he religious or not. But in reading the book, coming to meetings and sharing with another brings perspective about this “notion of God.”

I’ve written about my God in the Pages “Naked and Sacred” and how I was introduced to God as a child. And I followed that God for the whole of my life.

At one point in my life the “powers that be” suggested that I might want to pursue God in seminary. And I eventually did that. I loved God, I loved being with God and praying and studying God. And for a year I did that with reckless abandon.

But in the end, the man who decided our fates brought me in and told me that I would not be returning for a second year, that I had not shown enough zeal or that maybe, I just didn’t jive with my fellows very well. I was just a boy, trying to find my way in a system that was bent towards ego instead of selflessness.

I guess you would say that I was very angry with God. I returned to my home and went to work with friends. And my alcoholism really got out of control. For the next several years I drank  my way through life. And I did some stupid things.

So the story goes, I grew up, I drank, I got sick, and I got sober. I stayed sober because of the men who took hold of my life and helped me survive. God manifested himself in the guise of Todd, in all things. He did for me, what I could not do for myself. God made manifest in my life in great sweeping actions. God looked down on a simple boy and saved his life.

But as time went by, the universe shifted and I found myself left to my own devices. Without that controlling force in my life, I had no one to rely upon and soon I was off to the races and out the sober doorway and into hell.

Years would pass and I found my way back to the rooms. I relied on people to help me stay sober. With folks who took it upon themselves to see me sober once again, on a daily basis. I needed fellowship, someone to look to, someone to hold their hands with.

When I moved here and found my home group I had my list of wants. But the old timers kept telling me to “keep coming back” and “one day at a time.” It took me a long time to learn how to stay in my day. To learn about God, as the book directs us, and I did that.

My then sponsor, David was a godsend. We were attached at the hip for a years time. We did everything together. We grew quite close, and I loved him. They gave me my fourth edition, we read it, worked our steps and went to meetings.

At the end of a year, he still had his ego and our relationship ended. A rather sad ending. Bitter words were spoken and he cursed me saying that “I would drink again…”

On my first anniversary my addictions counselor asked me “Now that you have stayed sober for a year, what are you going to do for yourself?” I decided to go back to school. Which was the logical thing to do since the government payed my way through University.

I was sober. One day at a time. My fascination with God was apparent, since I joined the department of Religious Studies at Concordia, and met my now best friend and mentor Donald. I spent the next seven years studying God every way from Sunday. I have two degrees, in Religion and Pastoral Ministry. And I came away from university wanting more.

Since I did not make it in seminary, my thought was that if I can’t seek God through the church, I would seek him outside the church. I would climb that ladder to God from the outside of the building.

Donald, today is a deacon and will be ordained a priest this year. It was mentioned to me in passing some time ago that maybe I should consider Holy Orders. I’ve been sitting on that thought for a long time.

In order to do that I would need to complete the last pillar of good Christian practice, which is finding and settling into an active prayerful Christian community, like the Anglican Cathedral where I worship on the odd occasion. I have yet to make that kind of commitment.

That does not mean that I do not seek God in my daily life. Learning the A to Z of God, studying traditions and religions from all the major faiths in the world, East and West, left me wanting more. I had studied God, By the Book. Now I needed to incorporate that into my life.

Ten years into sobriety, I was ready for some excitement. And I got that in spades. My eleventh anniversary passed with little fanfare, this past December and I’ve been living one day at a time for ever and a day. And God has been showing me new ideas and I spoke today about that “more” mentality.

Wanting more – from my perspective is a very broad view. I look to open sky and my vision is of everything that is possible. And I’ve been learning, over the recent past that, I can’t have everything.

And I need to be satisfied with a little bit each day. I’ve been learning how to focus my needs to one simple idea a day, or one word a day, or one passage or prayer a day.

I’ve been practicing the “Parsing of Sobriety.” I’ve read, indulged and re-read the book. And like any good alcoholic, we always want MORE. You know what it is like to sit in front of a full plate of “MORE” food, and know that you can’t possibly eat all that food on one go… It is like I am on a spiritual diet.

Last week a friend offered me a prayer in his words. Subtle but effective. And I took those two words he spoke (YOU) and (ME). And so I settled into the notion of You and Me. And I have been satisfied with two words. And I meditate on those words daily, and I find that satisfying. Which relates back to my daily routine.

We read from the book today. And we talked about finding our own concept of a God of our understanding, and I heard twenty five different ideas, to chew on for the next week. And we read from Appendix II. Spiritual Experience.

Over the last eleven years, I have learned about God, and I’ve seen him make His presence known to a room full of people. I’ve seen God’s light come down from the church and alight on people’s heads and into their lives. So I am sure that God exists, I am totally sure of that fact today.

I’m still alive. I know who told my heart to beat. And I am present to my breath.

There is a particular one young girl who I have come to know in the rooms, and she has been hoofing it every day. She struggles with “thirst” yet she keeps coming back. She is amid her steps and she’s doing the work.

And for the last two to three months I find myself whispering her name to God in my daily prayers. But whispering people’s names to God is something that I just do … I so want her to stick around. And as a man, I must stay a step apart, because men work with the men and the women work with the women.

But today I stopped her after the meeting and told her that yes, I have been praying especially for her every day.

And that made a difference for her today.

God is alive, and he is tending the flock, every person, every day.

I am grateful for simplicity. I have “enough” today and I don’t need “more.”

And I am good with that.

It was a great night. More to come, stay tuned …


Where’s the Off Switch ???

tumblr_mf8k4zkwRy1qdkrbko1_500 spoonsdammit

Courtesy: Spoonsdammit

I am so tired …

I opened Pandora’s Box over the holidays, and now I find myself reliving memories, which for the most part, I have buried in my brain. After so many years one would hope that adults could look at a situation with time and thought and rise to the occasion and come to the table to rebuild. But when there are braces on your brains, and a patriarchal mandate over your head, people choose to live in the past and are unable to come into the present.

It is really sad …

Today was Sunday, and I needed a meeting. I left early and arrived in time to help set up as usual. We read from the Big Book and we finished the read through of More About Alcoholism. The room was packed. We needed to bring out more chairs as the meeting started to accommodate more folks.

Over the last few days my brain has been on overdrive. I spend my day doing what needs to be done, but when I lay my head down on the pillow for a nap, the rat gets on the wheel and the wheel spins at 100 mph.

My past is a veritable Pandora’s Box. And my sponsor is apt to tell me that I should just let it go and get on with living. And for the most part I can do that.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (YOU) (OTHERS)

The courage to change the things I can (ME)

And the Wisdom to know the difference.

I chose to open Pandora’s box this Christmas, by sending a card to my estranged family, to which they did not reply. I had a conversation with my aunt, who is in the same boat I am, (we call this the punishment cell)…

Just because I am sober now 11 years and a month, doesn’t mean that people in the past will consider allowing me entrance back into family, and in that I am forever damned.

And as of late, my brain has been on ” Haunt Mode.”

Every time I close my eyes, I get a playback of the past in HD color. And I can’t seem to shut the damn tv off. And I lay in bed and the images roll on like a film being played behind my eyes.

And it is driving me insane. You’d think I’d know better doing this every year like clockwork. But No, I just want to sit there with the hammer in my hand banging my head in because it feels soooo good.

I’m tired of this pain. Because it will never go away, until I hit my deathbed.

People stuck in the past are unwilling to rethink, and possibly forgive because there is fault on all sides. And that doesn’t diminish the pain that I feel because of the way people treated me. I do have feelings. I cannot change being gay and I sure as shit cannot get rid of HIV in my body. But to hold these things over ones head as punishment is terrible.

FUCKERS !!! that’s what you are. Unforgiving assholes .

So the Globes are on. I am gonna go watch.

More to come, stay tuned…


Growing Up …

Courtesy: Cameronjohn

The essence of all growth is a willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.

As Bill Sees It P. 115

Sometimes when I’ve become willing to do what I should have been doing all along, I want praise and recognition. I don’t realize that the more I’m willing to act differently, the more exciting my life is.

The more I am willing to help others, the more rewards I receive. That’s what practicing the principles mean to me. Fun and benefits for me are innate results. Being a little kinder, a little slower to anger, a little more loving makes my life better – day by day.

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

Were you forced to grow up before your time? And how did that impact your life then, and how has that shaped the man/woman you are today?

There is truth in the statement that sick kids are forced to grow up much faster than their more healthier counterparts. I know that AIDS forced me to grow up very quickly when I was diagnosed, because I was facing my own death in short order. Thank God for good teachers.

But before I talk about that topic first the bullet notes for the day.

  • It is (5c) outside. A little nippy and it was cold in the hall tonight as well.
  • I left extra early for set up – and nobody showed up until 6 ugh !!!
  • My Geography Prof. lives in Westmount. He came upon me sitting outside the church on his way home from school. (busted !!!)
  • We will get another week extension on the mapping assignment (WIN!)
  • We sat 40 folks around the circle. Everybody got to share.

The shares went around the circle, and one of my friends spoke about being thrust into adulthood as a child and that experienced scarred him for life.

I’ve been thinking about the past for the past few days and nights. I’ve been dreaming about my grandmother and the house and events that took place in that house when I was a child. It is almost a physical place I can go in my head when I want a change of scenery. Hence my story …

Both my father’s parents were felled by strokes. A year to the day apart. My grandmother was struck down first. I was in 8th grade. It was 1981. My father took me out of school and flew me 1500 miles back to Connecticut to work on bringing my grandmother out of her stupor. Since I was the first born child and it was thought that my affinity with her would prove invaluable to them in rehabilitating her back to health.

It was a night flight North from Miami. The next morning they suited me up and took me to the hospital. I was not properly prepared. At All !!!

I walked in the hospital room, and there in a bed was a lump of a body. What was lying there was not my grandmother. (If I only knew then, what I know today, I would have known what to do) I did not recognize her, but upon seeing her in that moment, I collapsed to the floor and they had to take me to be examined because my head hit the floor none too gently.

It was believed that familiar faces could rouse stroke victims out of stupors. That affinity with certain people can do great things for someone so sick. Well, I must tell you, that is not true. At least it wasn’t true for my grammy. She had terrible brain damage. He entire right side was paralyzed. Her face was misshapen and she could not talk. The only words she remembered were shit, god dammit, and things of that nature. Grammy was not a swearer but it was all she had going for her.

Days went by, then weeks went by and nothing changed. What can you say for occupational therapy in the 80’s? Doctors did not know shit and there surely weren’t staff to do the job like they can today.

So you know, When things did not pan out, they sent her to a sanitarium and flew me home to complete my year at school. I was scarred for life. Over the next decade that she survived, she regained the ability to walk with a cane/brace. We eventually moved them both to Florida to live close to the family. Where I got to work with them as I was able. I was just a kid. What did I know about rehabilitation?

It was scenes like this that are scattered about my childhood all the way into my teens. Taking care of the home. My brother. My parents. Myself.

I grew to become an all or nothing alcoholic.

When doctors told me that I was going to die, everything changed. I learned a lot of lessons from my teacher Todd. As I grew up, and learned lessons and did certain chores I expected praise and recognition. One of the hardest lessons he taught me was about expecting recognition. I’ve written about that lesson in the Pages.

I had to grow up. I had to learn how to take care of myself and in that vein, take care of others like me. Because I was learning from others as well. I had to change and accept whatever responsibility that entailed. It was do or die. And dying was not an option available to me. At least my handlers made sure I never went there mentally, or physically.

I got sober the first time during this period of time and I racked up 4 years of sobriety before I went out. Life had changed several times over during those four years, and I was not as connected to people as I was in the very beginning, and that lack of connection only exacerbated my slip.

When I returned from my slip, I went back to doing what I should have been doing all along. I reconnected. With old sober friends, and new sober friends. I was in my mid thirties and I had to make a choice, I could either remain static where I was and become stagnant, or I would grow up. When I realized that growing up was the only viable choice, I grabbed hold of that decision and went to town with it.

I made decisions in sobriety that brought me to this place I am in today. It has come to pass for me that growing up came in stages. I read the book, worked the steps, went to meetings and did things by the book.

After a period of study, I was given time to work out practically, what I had learned over the past couple of months or few months. And over the last ten years of sobriety, you read the book, go to meetings, work your steps, you get time to work them out in real time in life. And that process has led me to this point in my life.

I have tons of memories in my head. I also have a list of lessons that I have accrued in my time bank to apply to my life today. And I am willing to do whatever it takes to grow. Because growth is eternal. You can either choose to be stagnant and get complacent, or you can choose to learn and grow and evolve.

I don’t expect big things. But I have gained grace and peace. I do what I can every day to do the right thing. I pray and I work. I work with others, and I do service twice a week on Tuesday and Friday nights. I sponsor people near and far. And I work with my sponsor when I can.

I am still alive almost 18 years later, I guess I learned something.

The most important growth I can speak of is my marriage. Because I learned how this boy that I was grew into the man I am today. By learning how to love another, and to put another’s needs before my own.

That’s the whole focus of Stage Two Recovery. How to have a real, loving, sober relationship with another. That’s what was in the book I spoke about a couple of weeks ago here on the blog.

I am kind today. I am gentle with others and myself. I am slow to anger, I don’t get angry usually, even at the grocery store when the fast cash is backed up ten deep and I really need to get out of there …

I went back to school in sobriety and racked up two degrees. I will finish my educational run this May. When Hubby and I will move into a new phase of our lives together. And it will be great.

I can’t say that there isn’t a little fear there. But I am promised that if I stay on course, and do the next right thing, then good things will come to pass.

What did you do today to grow ???

Welcome to all you new folks.

More to come, stay tuned …


I Think I had a Drink …

What is St. Patty’s Day without the prerequisite glass of Guinness and some serious partying with your friends? Since the parade here in (Montreal) is tomorrow, it was solely a drinking day.

We are all wanting to take a day off from recovery because it has been meeting overload for the last week. With it being March break and all we have been hitting a few more meetings than usual.

With time on my hands, I received Grasshopper’s daily journal entry and word from a friend who just moved out to Victoria ( and lives by the sea) read: Jealous!!! I didn’t have much to do today. So around 3 we took our daily afternoon nap.

But it wasn’t going to be that easy. Somewhere very close, either on the balcony next door or above us or whether from the hotel next door, a group of rowdy party makers were getting it on pretty heavily.

It started out slow … a few drinks in hand. And there must have been a handful of people involved because as the party ramped up the voices got shrilly. And we were laying there and I was like “really, REALLY !!!”

The chant began small … chug, chug, chug, chug, chug … then crescendo ed to a loud  CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG, CHUG CHUG …. They were pounding down the alcohol fast and furiously. It was almost like being in the middle of the party.

Furniture crashed and people fumbled. It appeared that they were very drunk by the end of the chug a thon. This went on for a good hour. They really must have been slammed, because I sure was,  just listening to it.

Then thankfully, it got very quiet.

Maybe someone complained, or they ran out of liquor or quite possibly they all blacked out and passed out from the copious amounts of liquor that was being imbibed.

The party must have broken up because I did not hear them again, thankfully.

I got my nap in. And it was a good nap because my dreams were heavenly. Oh the things I get up to in my dreams. Thank God they are only dreams, because I don’t think I could handle them in real life. ” just saying.”

They say that it isn’t a party until something gets broken.

I am sure the thudding we were hearing was furniture being overturned and destroyed. But a little while ago I was out on my balcony and from below someone dropped a bottle on the sidewalk and it shattered …

It was a party now …


The Voice of God …

Courtesy: Infinityler

It is a cold night in the fair city. A little more cold than I would prefer, but manageable. We are sitting at (-5c) at this hour, and they tell us that snow will fall over night. We shall see about that …

I was agonizing over my Psychology midterm exam last night. I did all the studying that was assigned. I completed the study guide because we had to hand it in before the exam for study credits. I got to school about an hour before class so that I could read from the book, which I did. There were 55 questions on the exam all multiple choice. I sat the exam and it was challenging. I hope that my classmates read all the questions completely, because many of the questions were very similar. I only got stuck on one question out of the 55 which means that I must have done alright on the rest of the exam. I finished in less than the first hour and was home by 7:30.

My new kicks are in the pike, and hopefully they will show up here tomorrow like clockwork. USPS is not updating their site as often as I would like, but I assume that the box is here in the city and will clear customs in the morning and be delivered to me some time tomorrow. *crosses fingers*

I got out of the house early today for set up and it was usual and effortless. A group of women came to read early which was nice. I spent some time reading from the collection of Grapevines we have in the box before the meeting.

Today’s reading came from the Big Book, namely the passages that deal with Step 3, since we are in the third month of the year the chair had us read these few pages and discuss. The questions posed were – How do you know your Higher Power and if you know him/her/it – what does his voice sound like?

I’ve been reading from Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age over the past couple of days, I am only past the first chapter, which tells the story of the A.A. convention in St. Louis in July of 1955.

It was at this convention that the founders of A.A. would hand over the operations of the organizations to the many committees that had been formed for the stewardship of A.A.

I have been amazed at the spiritual rhythm that existed back in the day. And how many clerical men had participated in the early formation of A.A. and just how much Bill Wilson relied on these men to guide him spiritually to write those hallowed words in the books, and the steps and traditions. When you read from the old timers – you begin the see just how A.A. came together and what care was taken to address so many issues that came up, and they did come up …

I have written in my Big Book a question …

” Are we going easy on the God stuff? ”

Many of the founding fathers spoke at the St. Louis Convention to thousands of alcoholics, their families and friends. And they spoke of hope and of solutions. They told the stories of how this all came to be and what hopes they had for where it was going to go. There is a spiritual rhythm to the movement. And in my time in the program I have found my rhythm. And therefore I could appreciate and admire the rhythm that the old timers of A.A. had as well.

When I read from the text, I can hear the desperation that came out of adversity, and the grace that took hold and the healing that saved hundreds of thousands around the world over the first twenty years that A.A. had journeyed. The story goes on to tell the story of the world tour that Bill and Lois went on to Europe and Scandinavia and the Netherlands and Amsterdam.

How A.A. started with a lone alcoholic and how that one person in a certain city started a meeting and how others followed after them. And in each and every city, someone kindly and confidently translated the English text into the language of their location. You just cannot imagine how gratifying it is to know just how much care went into the founding, codifying and administration of  A.A.

Read the literature and be amazed yourself.

So many men and women some 57 years ago heard the call to come and partake of the gift of sobriety. And each one of them had made the admission, and came to believe and then made a decision … “To turn their wills and their lives over to the care of God, as they understood Him.” And tonight we read those words again. Each word written on the page was chosen faithfully and confidently.

Every word was caressed and loved into being through the ministrations of Bill and the many people who edited the text until it met final approval and was printed for the first time. The first 164 pages of the Big Book have never been tampered with to this day. The program is set out in those 164 pages and works if you just let go and surrender.

Tonight when the reading went around the table it fell upon a friend of mine who got to read the Third Step Prayer, out of the book. We all heard it spoken. And everybody had a word to share about when they took that third step and what it meant to them and how it affected them.

The discussion went around the outer circle and then came to the table and then it came to me. And I had been thinking about this topic for a few days because I have been reading this historical information about the program. I have conscious contact with my Higher Power. And sometimes he speaks and I hear it in my heart, and other times, he speaks through other people and it takes a keen ear to know how to filter the words of man from the words of God.

And I’ve heard the voice of God … Come out of my husbands mouth. I wrote about it a little while ago in the post  ” The State of our Union. ” being Poz, one knows how not to forecast or make plans ahead of nominal time. I’ve been doing the next right thing for a long time. I hit my meetings, I do service and I work with my sponsees. I have a life, a marriage and my education.

I am tired of being in school. Going to University has not served me in any professional way, except to help me polish my writing voice here on the blog. I’ll never get a job in this God forsaken city because I don’t speak French. And I’ve been waiting on God to tell me what I am supposed to do next. I have been saying that prayer for months on end. And finally the answer came …

Hubby sat up, he gave me hope for the future and said that he wanted to take care of me and to allow me to do more of what I love to do, write, work with the program and get more involved with what I do best. And this is what I do best, bar none. It gives me more joy that anything else I do, besides go to meetings and do service.

Several time over the past couple of weeks, hubby reminds me of where we are going and that hope is tangible. He has goals that are coming to fruition, if we just hold fast and do the next right thing until the day comes to make the next move, when all the puzzle pieces are in place. Then we can move forwards. We’ve been waiting for more than ten years to reach this point, so waiting a little while longer is not too much to ask.

We sat almost fifty folks around the table, the room was packed, and the coffee pot was empty when we closed up. A good night was had by all. Tomorrow will be exciting if my kicks come as I hope, and I have class tomorrow night and then the group conscience on Thursday night, for Friday West End.

More to come, stay tuned…


No More French !!!

Courtesy: Everythingsmagic

The province of Quebec can kiss my right butt cheek today. I felt a change coming and it has begun. No more pandering to the Quebec language law. I don’t give a shit any more. Today I am making choices for what’s good for me in the long run.

I did not get much sleep last night, and I am wired. Hubby did not sleep well last night either, and the Seville construction site was pounding piles at 7:30 this morning along with deliveries next door to the hotel and those fucking BEEP BEEP BEEP reverse alarms were just out of hand. There was much slamming of windows and the spilling of drinks and a lot of huffing and puffing …

I finally got to sleep around 10 I’d say and woke up to a dream that was taking place in my dream and in my bed at the same time around 1:15. I am off medication so I am having to try and work around it till money comes and so sleeping is a chore.

I got to sleep and I guess I progressed into a dream, and in that dream I was at some gay fair and we were covered in paint and riding a merry go round and for some reason I was peeing in the dream at that stage of the dream, and as I was dreaming – I was doing it in my sleep. I woke up to a warm sensation in my undies and once again, a dream crossed over into my sleeping self.

That’s not the first time that has happened.

So I got up around 2 and showered and shaved and got dressed and headed out for school. I got there around 3/3:15. I got to student services and got a drop/change slip and got in line. I was close to the front. They later came and dropped purple sheets off to us with the proviso that a $20.00 fee was due for changing the schedule and fees had to be paid in full at the time of change. Well, I didn’t have $20.00 on me nor in the bank. So I was essentially

FUCKED !!!

I called hubby and he was in transit and luckily he had some cash on him which he brought to me at school to pay the fees due.

SAVED !!!

The line opened up and it was a short wait to get to the change operator and they DROPPED my French class (Thank Fucking Christ!!!) and then told me that Western Civ. was full but I could wait list.

FUCKED AGAIN !!!

So I got in the wait list line and handed my sheet to a kind young lady who punched in my info on the computer then she checked her wait list sheets and signed my slip with OK. I was like, the class was full, and she said that she fit me in anyways. So now I am taking Sociology on Monday nights and Western Civilization on Thursday nights.

SAVED !!!

I then had to pay my fees. They punched me into the system and got my account up and told me that I was due a credit of $30.00. The new course must have cost less in fees or shorter hours, so they credited my account the $30.00.

WIN !!!

I had $20.00 in my pocket and $30.00 in refunds which put us up $50.00 for the day. Not a bad haul.

So I let go and got there early. The stars aligned for me today. Grateful for little mercies. Let’s hope that Quebec opens up the coffers sooner than later, but I am not expecting. Friday is coming and all will be well in any case.

It was a WIN/WIN day today …

I am keeping it GREEN !!!


Ten years ago, did you expect that your life would be anything like it is today?

Courtesy: Pasdechance
Question: Plinky

***NOTE***

It is the eve of my tenth year of sobriety, So I am sticking this to the front page until I post my debrief at the end of tomorrow night’s festivities.

Milestones … Milestones are important. These little signposts that we stick in the ground as we walk the path we are on are useful. I walked through the gate into this land and have been traveling this path for almost ten years.

I could not have told you then, that I expected to be anywhere other than where I was in a dead end position scraping a life together trying to figure out how I was going to stay alive with all the money that was required to be paid out to fund this little life I was living.

Getting sober was the first step in making this life possible. And the group of people that I got sober with were instrumental in getting me to the point that I could look forwards. Last night I tried to pin down some dates to tell a particular story and my memory is too far gone to remember the finer details of the dates to plot on a map to say I was “here” and I went “there” and I did “this” and ended up “there.”

Suffice to say the beginning of this long journey into life began in 1994 when I first attempted to get sober. I held onto that for more than four years and a few months. That’s as close as I can get to the specific date of when I fell off the path.

There was the errant few years of uncertainty and my eventual re-arrival back at the starting point where I had been living to begin with. There are a series of memories that fall in this time period. When I arrived back in Miami – the summer of 2000. The last time I saw my parents – New Years Day 2001. Living in my studio and being called on the morning of 9-11 by Ricky to turn on the television because something was going down. But what I was doing from the summer 2000 until the summer of 2001 is missing.

I remember where I was, I think. All these points on the timeline can be confirmed. I’ve written about all of them before. I know what I was doing the months leading up to my return to the rooms. And then my final drink occurred and we reach the 9th of December 2001.

I was living. I was sober. I was hitting meetings every night with my friends. I made some connections online that ended in me coming to Montreal to visit over Easter of 2002. I came for a week, I stayed for two. Thus began the second chapter of my life in a new city, far from where I was.

If you told me then, that I would live – not just survive, I don’t think I would have believed you. But sobriety had its perks. There were a group of people in my life here in the city that were instrumental in me getting where I am today. And those people are still in my life today.

The meetings have changed. People have come and gone from my life. People are only meant to be in your life for a specific period of time. I know that some of those people were not meant to be with me longer than they had. But I had a good foundation in the program by people with some serious time in the program.

The first year and a half were spent learning to stay in my day, and live one day at a time. It took me a long time to learn that lesson. And as I remained sober and also stayed rooted in the series of meetings I was attending everything was coming as it would, in God’s time, and not my own.

Nobody tends to remark that I am still alive at this stage of the game. I think people take it for granted that I live on borrowed time. I don’t know who’s life I am living but someone has granted me this time for some strange reason. The god’s must be crazy. Why they took so many lives from me and at the same time allowed me to go on living is still that mystery I have yet to solve.

I am a medical anomaly. If you looked at my numbers you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong. These little med students I get to meet along the way are humorous. My doctor prides himself in telling the same story every time we get a student in the office. He grins and shakes his head as they look at me with skepticism. They don’t get it at all.

For the last ten years, as the years pass by, new abilities came to pass. New lessons to learn, new experiences to have. And all of it came by way of the rooms. Nothing I have today came from outside. All these years of gifts and lessons came by way of the program, because I did what I was told to do.

I had no idea when I got sober this time around that anything that has happened to me was foretold by anyone. The only exception to this story is the man I met on the beach so many years ago who gave me some sound advice. “Don’t wait to die to ask those questions in your head.” Ask them now. Find the answers now.

I guess it was fate that when I got sober, it must have been a sign from God, but the dance club I used to get drunk in closed its doors for good just after I got sober. It was a sign that I would never have to go back there and drink. But I walked by that building every day on the way to the meeting on South Beach.

All these achievement that I have been blessed with are gifts of the program. Canada has become the land of plenty. The passage of civil rights for LGBT people was a massive score for Canadian gay and lesbian men and women. We are a forwards thinking country. And many of the rights I have today came after I had moved here. Thank god for lies and people who told them. Because I have them to thank for this journey into life.

It’s amazing that so many years later, I haven’t spoken to my family at all. And in the end it was my family that made all of this possible. I know where they are and if I needed to I could go looking for them. Facebook is a useful tool, and I had my dalliance with family on facebook, that never materialized anything but silence.

But I have reconnected with family here in Montreal and the outlying areas. I had a relationship with my late great aunt Georgette before she died of cancer a number of years ago. That was a gift that came from my mother of all people. She was the one who told me that sister was still alive somewhere. And had I not visited the Mother House in Old Montreal on that fateful day, none of that would have happened.

My parents may not support me because I am gay. And they don’t, let’s not make bones about that. Their Catholic upbringing did nothing to assuage them into becoming friends with me at any point. There is error on both sides of this story. And one day Sometime maybe in the future I will get to make my amends, which has been long since overdue. but until then, all I can do is pray for that situation and hope one day it will resolve itself. But it is not on my radar of expectation.

I remained true to my heritage. I live the life I set out to find when I came here in the beginning. I followed that spiritual path that I was introduced to very early on in  my life by my grandmother Camille. It was her faith and determination that fed this journey from the beginning. Had she not taught me all that I know about today, I would never have ventured into this without something to go on.

I’ve learned a lot over the last ten years. Probably so much that I could possibly fill a book, if I ever decided to sit down and write it. But all the stories that would go into it, are here on the blog. You can read all those stories here.

We are about to begin the Fall of 2011. Lots to do and life will progress. We live only for the day. We hope for the best and we strive for the truth. Hubby’s career in teaching will begin not too far down the road. And he is looking forwards to that. I have my studies and you know I do my best and hope for the best as well.

The seasons will change and the fall will come. And soon we will celebrate the coming of the silence. That is the most important day in my yearly observance of the seasons. That night always comes, but you never know it is there until it is upon you. So watch this space. It is one of the most blessed days in my spiritual observances. We welcome the mother maiden of the silence for her season. And it is always glorious. This time of year is truly magical.

Because we see the outwards changes in our surroundings like no other place. I love the seasons. The ending of Summer, the coming of Fall, the welcome of Winter. It is all magical and blessed. Life will move with the rhythm of the seasons. We shall get there – my 10 year anniversary.

I am having conversations with an old timer from the West Island at Friday West End. I may end up joining that group and quite possibly take my cake there in a few months time.

But we are not there yet. God willing and one day at a time. This has been a brief look at what ten years of sobriety has brought to my life.

More to come, stay tuned …


Maps, Dreams, People…

renovation-old-house

The other night I had another “past” dream.

I was in my grandparents house on 160 East Street in New Britain Connecticut. I even went onto Google maps to see the house, and it isn’t there any more, I don’t know how recent the views were taken. It took me a while to find it because I had forgotten the address off the top of my head. But I did remember the name of the bar that was next door to where the house was. And that aided me in my search.

The Dairy store is still there and the package store and LaRosa’s Bar on East street. My grandparents house was right next door on an embankment with large trees in the front yard. Although there are no trees in the photo and there are two houses on the lot that (160) fits in between which must mean that the trees were cut down and the land razed – I remember that there were 2 trailer houses on the lot next door to the old house – and they are gone as well. Sad to see how things have changed over 40 years time.

It seems they paved the side parking lot farther across which would tell me that the land that the old house sits on was razed. I don’t recognize the house that is sitting in the spot where (160) used to sit. It is not my grandparents house. There are no trees – no garage – no gardens -no picture window out front – it has all been changed up.

So usually when I dream about my grandparents – I dream in black and white. When I go back in time, I only get a black and white picture, I cannot open any doors in the house nor can I walk around the house. I usually end up in one room and that is where the dream takes place. I’ve had several dreams like this where I visit the house.

This last dream about the house was in color. Unusual. I was able to move from room to room. And what was different about this dream was that there was a piano in the living room. And there were people there in the house and i was talking to a spirit. I called him “old man.” And I kept calling him and he would appear in the house and sit down at the piano and play in spirit form. And I could actually feel his energy as I stood there next to the piano. There was not enough room in the living room for a piano of any sort.

As of late, when I dream, I know I am dreaming and it feels like I am awake in my dream because I carry the dream out into waking hours and they stay with me a lot longer than usual.

**********

The other dream that stayed with me from the other night was a ship dream. I was in Alaska, there was a lot of snow, (go figure) … I was in a wet suit factory. It was all very strange because I am not sure how they make wet suits. But alas, there I was.

Then I was floating out of there and I was flying over the ground to some place and ended up on some airplane flying to our final destination. We landed and got on a bus and traveled to a pier where there were two ships/boats/crafts waiting for us. One side of the bus was to embark on one vessel and the other side of the bus was to embark on the other. It was all very science oriented, if I had to picture the ships they would have resembled a Wind Star cruiser. They have a mono-hull and sail masts. But each of the vessels were science vessels and had nominal defense systems on them. I am not sure what we were doing there but I remember speaking to the people on the bus telling them where to go and to what vessel to report to, and that is when I woke up.

Oh well, I guess that’s all from me at the moment…

More to come, stay tuned…


Stories from Jerome

Do you believe in Love

We find Jerome sitting in the dining area of a local KFC with his laptop plugged into an area outlet. It is late at night and the cleaning crew is tidying up the store as Jerome and his friends are finishing their meals and shutting down their laptops, and making their way out the doors.

Where are we going to go now? one of his friends asks, “Let’s head to the Metro and take a ride.” Making their way down to the platform there are guards at the bottom of the escalators shooing people away from an attacked man. Everybody looks around in surprise, there is an attacker in the area and where are we going to be safe?

Jerome pipes up and says “follow me.” Up out of the metro the gang all follows out onto the street. “Come and let’s be off, there are miles to travel!” and like magic Jerome rises into the air over his friends they look astonished at Jerome’s ability to rise into the air. It’s a gift that he has had for some time now, “Come and let’s be off…” He waves his hands and fairy dust falls from his palms over his friends heads and one by one they rise off the sidewalk and into the air, as Jerome leads them on an adventure over the city.

From here to there they travel over the city marveling at the freedom that flight brings to them, as they follow Jerome through the night sky. He leads them one by one to their homes where they drop out of the sky to the stoops of their front doors. He has taken care of them once again tonight, they are safe and indoors once again. And finally he comes…

“Come Jerome, let us be off there are miles to travel before we rest…”

The words that Jerome longs to hear from the one who bestowed the gift upon him. And they rise in unison over the roofs of houses and buildings across the wide dark sky.


Sleep…

This photo originates on: Yani Blog

What do I do with time on my hands, and no schoolwork that has to be done? I sleep.

We have a ritual at home here. Hubby is a get up at sunrise and burn through the day kind of person. So that works for me. I, on the other hand, am a night person. That is why my classes are in the evening, like I had any input on the academic calendar at Concordia… Hubby goes to bed around 1 a.m. and I usually follow afterwards, as has been our routine ever since he got sick. It’s just how it works around here.

So I have been having some really twisted dreams as of late. When they do come, they come in vivid technicolor. Yesterday I was a homeless kid running the streets with two friends of mine, it was all very surreal, but I was happy in whatever I was doing in the dream. And the fact that I can still recall that dream means it stayed in my head longer than the others.

We spend a good deal of time each night listening to late night radio in the form of Coast to Coast AM, on our local 940 Montreal radio. I usually do much of my writing at the end of the day when I do my Examen and my Collect, this isn’t one of those planned posts that was in my head.

I spent some time talking to an old friend today to make sure she was ok. She knows that whatever I can offer her and hubby, I will. Anyways, time for CSI…

Toodles…