“The only thing you need to change when you get sober, is Everything !!!”
There is a common thread running this past week. Change …
In speaking at length with my sponsor, last week, his advice to me was simple. I need to avoid certain people, to the best of my ability, keep my mouth shut, and not attend the Friday meeting any longer. Because of the unhealthy topic on the table, I am told to just stay away, and not involved myself any further in the drama.
So I add another night to my baby watch.
When does a baby, realize time (read: what day is it), days and presence?
The baby is clearly awake to certain things that we did not expect her to be at this point.
I have a regular, consistent schedule, with Mama and the baby. Sunday afternoons in the park, Wednesday dinner, and now Friday dinner. This past week, we changed up my arrival times, to coincide with the baby going to bed. Instead of her staying up later, we try and put the baby down at a more manageable time.
Wednesday, Mama asked me to come later than I usually do. Not a problem. In the early evening, Mama tried putting the baby down, before I had arrived. But the baby wasn’t having any of that. She wouldn’t go to sleep, and was clearly acting differently.
I’ve kept this Wednesday date since July, so it is consistent. We are now October.
I arrived at the apartment, and mama came down to let me in, and the baby was wide awake.
Clearly, so it seems, she realized, we think, that I had not come, as early as I usually do, and we think, the baby has a grasp on time and presence. I set down dinner, and mama put the baby down and she went for some toys. We put her in her chair to eat, usually she will eat dinner that I make on top of the dinner she gets earlier (read: baby food).
She indeed did eat some chicken, we spent half an hour together, the baby then decided it was ok to go to bed, we think, because she had seen me, and maybe she had been missing me earlier, she demonstrated behavior we had not seen before, in this manner.
Saturday I went to the Saturday meeting, a new addition to the weekly schedule.
I have a book in the works, that I haven’t been writing towards, because I’ve been mulling things around in my head these past few weeks. And it revolves around family. This topic has been on the front burner these past few days.
And again, it was talked about in today’s reading.
Our guy, living in the early 1900’s, told a story about San Francisco before the big fire that destroyed the city. So the story is older, and appears in the First Edition of the Big Book.
Simply, our guy became a drinker, to get over the fact that his father was emotionally unavailable to him growing up. Not satisfied with staying in one place, he starts moving from one location to another. Eventually joining the army, and seeing action in the Great War.
He tells his mother, on the day of his deployment, that if he survives the war, that He will come home and be present and make his home with his mother.
He indeed survives. But already, he is drinking himself two ways from Sunday. Always being able to find liquor, even if it was banned to American troops, as was said in the story.
Anger and Resentment, fear and missing something are all good reasons for an alcoholic to drink, right? Yes …
I have many thoughts in my head tonight. And I chose not to speak at the meeting. But as it went around the room, family was the topic of conversation.
I don’t know when, as children, we ever got the “talk” about being emotionally available to our parents or our brother’s and sister’s. I didn’t. I guess you could say, growing up, that I WAS emotionally available. I had to be, both my parents were consummate drinkers. I had my brother to consider. But as far back as I know it to be, my father always encouraged my brother to be my rival, never to listen to me, or respect me either.
That is a thing.
Growing up, when I got to that jumping off point, and I knew I had to go, I indeed moved out. My brother drove my car up, while I was in the moving truck. We never really had emotional conversations, and he was just “doing a job.” Either to get rid of me, or not, I don’t know.
But in the end, I left. And I left him behind, with my drinking parents.
Should I have thought more about this? Was there more I should have done for him?
This is one particular existential question I ask myself.
Later in life, my brother was never my keeper. Nor my protector. Nor someone I counted on for anything. He never stepped up and said or did anything for me, even when I got sick. He could not have been bothered, either way.
And that was the way we left things in the end.
I wonder, if my parents ever think about emotional unavailability. The fact that when I moved out, i was only thinking about myself, and nobody else. And in the end that was a problem. Because as repulsive as it is, I was irresponsible, and in the end, laid my problems on my father’s shoulder’s without any thought.
He did what he thought he should do, and he bailed me out, the the tune of $30,000.
That was a kick in the rubber parts.
He never mentioned it. And I never brought it up either. But the damage was done.
When I moved out I was emotionally unavailable to the parents, who became emotionally unavailable to me when they figured out I was gay, and it got even worse when I got sick.
As long as I was a straight boy, my father had time for me. Sex talks, learning to drive a car, taking care of the house and cars, he was all in it. Up and Until he figured out that I was gay. So he drank, he beat me regularly, and never said a word about it, ever.
Like He’d ever admit what a fuck he was and what he did to me.
It was like they were relieved of their responsibility, and the fact that maybe they should care, and maybe they should be present and help me, one way or another. But they had made their choice, I was on my own, my father’s humiliation at Christmas Dinner was a dead give away.
Neither my parents, nor my brother and his wife, nor myself are in any way emotionally available to the other. There is just a black pall over us, the lights are out and communication is not a possibility. I made my choices, and now live with the circumstances for those choices.
My brother and my father are both on Facebook. And to this day, neither one wants to even be my friend, or speak to me. And to this day, this fact blows my mind and turns my insides out.
We aren’t getting any younger, and my delusional self longs to believe that one day we will all wake up from this terrible nightmare, and all sit at the same table to talk.
Fat Chance …
I know better than to try and put into words what is in my head. That would be too much emotional and mental energy to point in a direction that probably, still to this day, would be met with silence and derision.
Alone and with one’s thoughts … A mixture, for some, that would lead right back to a drink.
I don’t have that option, it is NOT an option.
I can’t drown my thoughts with alcohol like I used to. And sometimes growing up and coming to is a bitch, because the longer we are sober, and the more hindsight we have to the past, and the more meetings we go to, and topics come up, we re-tread old pain and sorrow, and see it from another perspective, once again …
What do we do with it, when solutions are not forthcoming ?
God only knows, right ???
More to come, stay tuned …
Montreal’s week of PRIDE events culminated earlier today with the annual PRIDE parade which stepped off, just up the block from home, not that I was, in any way, inclined to go anyways.
The older I get, the less I am inclined to go out and parade myself in public, when at the parade all you see is buff beautiful people riding floats and marching. I just don’t get into objectification and all the pretty pretty people. Maybe I am just old and jaded, and maybe it is also the fact that I have bones with the Montreal Gay community that are old bones. I shop where I shop because of the people who work at those shops. And I have gay friends, inside and outside the rooms, but as a community as a whole, many of them turn me off.
But it was a party nonetheless.
I had people to see and things to do well before the meeting even opened, so it wasn’t like I had a block of hours to devote to going to the parade, standing around and people watching. I didn’t. And my people come first in any case.
Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with some of my guys, since we haven’t been able to spend time together these past few weeks for one reason or another, but the stars aligned yesterday.
Today I had an appointment with a client who is a blog customer of mine. I do web customization and Word Press installs for some of my friends. People want to blog because of their profession and some for personal reasons. One of my clients is a film maker friend from the room, so I have been working with her for a while now, formatting and organizing a bilingual blog (read: French and English) as well as her films. Every Word Press theme is different and offers different perks, so I teach how they work and sit down with them to work out the kinks and the layout.
This site is an uber iteration of Modularity Light Theme. I have tweaked it and worked it out to work for me. Getting to know a theme and how it works, then making that theme work for you takes a while on intense, sit down and thrashing it out. Doing that on a laptop is not my preferred idea of fun, I’d rather work off my desktop. (read: Much Easier)
We cranked out set up between several folks. And our matriarch stood back watching happy, peppy people, smiling and laughing together and we all had a moment of gratitude.
We sat a full house. And we ran the read and the discussion all the way around the circle with not a moment to spare. Tonight’s read: The Car Crasher …
- One leads to MORE
- Having just one is impossible
- Controlled Drinking is useless
- We need to finally admit we have a problem
- And we cannot do it alone
- We need to come to the point where we realize Divine help
- Then ask for it and accept it when it comes
The theme of drunk driving was popular for discussion. How many of us did it, those who got away with it, and also those who got caught.
I noted that watching my grandfathers, uncles and my father drink with impunity was something that I paid close attention to. Because when I started drinking, I drank with impunity myself as well. And that did not go so well, because there were consequences for my actions, and I paid a heavy price from my family, which made me pretty resentful because why should I be treated any differently, than the way the family treated every other alcoholic in the family?
It was a common belief among us that God does take care of drunks.
It is harrowing to think how many of us tempted disaster by getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, with just us in the car, and for many, with their children in the backseat to boot. These stories are numerous. And Not uncommon. Nary a drunk and their alcohol can be separated for very long.
But I remember one particular day when my mother took me aside and said to me:
“Don’t ever drink and drive, because if you get caught, you are finished.”
That stuck in my brain for all these years. I did pay attention to those words, because I never got caught. I am not proud to say that I drove while intoxicated many times in my early drinking career.
The bar I haunted was mid way between work and home, in those days. I would stop for happy hour and tie one on, then drive the rest of the way home, one eyeballing the white line all the way, get home, change my clothes, and drive back, the same way I had come, to go back to the bar and finish off the night very heavily.
The one time I did get stopped at a checkpoint, I had a roll of Rolaids in my door pocket, so I ate the whole pack, hoping to get the scent of alcohol off my breath long enough to answer coherently, the cop who was asking me if I had drunk that night, to which I said … NO !
That was the last time I took that route home after that.
But like every alcoholic, the party came to an end, when I became a story in the back of the book, when the woman I was living with was getting sober, and I was the alcoholic tornado running through her life, locked me out and asked me to leave. I was not very proud of that either.
All of those friends I used to drink with, including myself, eventually got sober, just not all at the same time, which was a pin in the ass for the early sober folks who had to deal with us drunk a few more years before we would eventually get sober.
In our story our man knows he’s in the mix. He actually figures out that he has a problem, because every time he drinks, he gets fallen down drunk. So he attempts to do some “controlled drinking” which does not end up really working for him.
He comes in and gets some time, but he then begins to think to himself that, alright, I’ve got this licked. Maybe I will go have one beer. Which leads to more beer, which leads him to the pit of despair. He is powerless from the first one. And that for him, like us, One leads to MORE.
Funny how we, many of us, that is, battle with the notion of powerlessness. How dare you ask us to admit we can’t handle our liquor. And then proceed to tell us that alone we are powerless and that we need to find a power greater than ourselves who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? That Admission is crucial to getting sober. To finally get to the point that we are willing to concede we may have a problem and that we need help, and that when we ask for help, HELP does appear, seeming out of no where.
Some forget the harrowing details of their last drunk debacle. They get some time and then get cocky and believe that finally they have licked it, and they go back out for some controlled drinking. And that may take a while, but for some, it only takes very little.
Usually they end up in worse state than when they began.
I know why I got sober and how the rooms worked for me.
And I know, also that there are those who hate the very notion of the program.
But I will say this again.
If you come and you get sober, and you work the program like we did it, and your life does NOT get better, we will gladly refund you your misery and you can go on your merry way.
More to come, stay tuned…
We are keeping with the Winter theme tonight.
We are sitting at (-14c/-16c w.c.). It was much warmer, if warmer can be a thing in the middle of Winter, than it has been as of late. And it was nice to have buses available on my extensions, meaning I did not have to walk from the stations.
It was a quiet weekend. Almost mundane in how our lives have become so routine. I was so bored on Saturday afternoon, that I did laundry, for the first time, on a weekend. I seem to hit the wash room with the freedom to use my super washer, because nobody else is doing laundry.
Sunday, I had dressed for the meeting, and I was layered because it was frigid. I walked up my usual path, and through the Forum building, and went to cross Atwater into the mall. I crossed the street and took a step on to the other side of the street, onto the sidewalk. I put my foot down, and I slipped on ice and fell face first onto the sidewalk. My headphones went flying, my coat got dirty, and the brand new Bayern Munich white shirt I was wearing was covered in icy mud stains.
I got to the church and one of my friends said to me that my shirt was dirty. I did not know how dirty it was because the mud was all the way across my backside. I took off that shirt and thought to rinse it in the sink, (a bad decision) it was useless. Needless to say I was pissed.
Which set up Monday for another round of laundry in less than three days. Now I am back on schedule with laundry on a weekday, instead of the weekend.
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In the evening, when I don’t have to be anywhere, we nap before dinner. A couple hours of downtime usually is a good thing. Yesterday, I had this really cool dream about time travel and worm holes and slip stream travel. The dream began in my friends living room, and morphed into a space dream, I’m not sure how that happened or why, but it was a great dream, and I woke up with it and remembered the dream.
Today, I was sleeping my afternoon, prior to getting up and getting ready to go, and I was in my favorite drinking establishment, and I had a drink in my hand. I then drank that drink, and in the dream, it only took that one drink to get me to black out mode. I felt the alcohol go down, I felt the drunkenness of the drink, and I woke up, thinking that I was drunk, that I did indeed take a drink.
I don’t usually have drinking dreams. This one was particularly vivid.
I got to the meeting and waited for my sponsor to get there, we had been talking about dream between ourselves prior, and one of my friends said to him that I had a drinking dream, and his response was, “That a drinking dream is good for us, and that it means we are doing something right.” It means we are healthy. Well, after that dream I wasn’t particularly healthy, when I woke up.
It made me stop and check that I did not have any alcohol in the house.
Not that I sleep walk to the SAQ (read: Liquor Store) right up the street and buy liquor !!!
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Today, as I said, was much warmer than it has been. I made my transit and it was good. When I got to the other end, there was a bus in the bay, which meant I didn’t have to walk down the hill.
Today’s edition of Joe and Charlie spoke about “Craving.”
We might crave some kind of food, or something salty, fruity, spicy, or sweet, bread, so forth and so on. I get these kinds of cravings, when I need to have one of these foods. I also get the “thirst of death” when I could drink an entire bottle of lemonade in one swig … That is a thing.
But when it comes to alcohol, we might want a drink, and we might take a drink. Once we’ve introduced alcohol into our system, the phenomena of craving begins, because like most alcoholics, we start with just one, and who, really, can have just one?
One leads to more which leads to insanity.
I don’t think I ever craved alcohol. I just drank. I had to have it, one way or another. In the end, it went part and parcel with my Saturday Dance Hall Party. Music, Lights, People, Alcohol. Not necessarily in that order. The bar opened early to give you time to nurse a drink or two before the main dance hall opened, we would drink first, the rest would follow. All I wanted to do was skip the preliminaries and get right down to business. I didn’t crave, I was well into delusional obsession.
They also talk about the feelings that rise, once we get sober. Everything doesn’t all of a sudden get rosy red and wonderful. We might have been drinking to drown or to forget. But if you take away the alcohol, everything that you may have been trying to avoid, when you sober up, there they are …
Where ever you go, there you are…
I wasn’t trying to drown my feelings, I was delusional, in thinking that alcohol would stop time from moving forwards, and prolong my immaturity a little while longer, until the time came, and it did indeed, that I was forced to stop and decide to grow up.
Which led to the decision to move here. Which leads me nicely into the next topic.
I was packed up and ready to go on Shrove Tuesday 2002. My friend Steven (read: the man who would not marry me, much to my dismay), had taken me to the post office and I mailed myself (here) all my things that I boxed. Then he drove me to the airport the next day.
Tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, was my trip from Miami to Montreal. It was the tail end of Winter that year. I did not look back. So it is with great pride I can say that tomorrow is my 13th anniversary of coming to Canada.
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When I left this afternoon, there was mail in my box. When I got home, there was more mail in my box. Did I forget to get the mail yesterday? I think so. During the holidays, we used to get two mail deliveries, one for letter mail, and another for packages. Today, my Marco gear came in the mail.
Another week, another adventure. We’ll see what kind of high jinx we can get into.
More to come, stay tuned …
We are sitting at (-14c/-23 w.c.) It is COLD.
I got ready to go and thought I was properly layered, but when I got downstairs, and went outside, I turned around and came back up and put another layer on, just to be safe. I have this odd problem of always leaving my scarf at home, then regret leaving it behind, once I get outside.
#First World Problems
The U.S. is bracing for a record breaking blizzard over the next few days.
I’m reading all these, “End of the world, Armageddon like reports” threat to human life, dangerous conditions coming … Don’t get caught out in the storm kind of warnings.
Here in Canada … Ah, just another snow storm … We live for them. At least some of us do !!!
Once again, Montreal is sitting in that sweet spot. Environment Canada is not calling for snow, except for a couple days this week, but no storm or accumulations are in the forecast.
It was a quiet weekend. Last night, hubby went to bed as usual, and I stayed up to watch a Nova program and at 2 a.m. on the nose, I was sitting here and darkness fell. Once again, the power went out and we were plunged into darkness. No heat, no water, no electricity.
And I said to myself, it will be a quickie and the power will come back on. Twenty minutes, tops. Well, twenty minutes turned into forty, and forty into sixty minutes. No Joy.
I had plans. Mother Nature had hers, guess who won?
I had the light from my phone. After waiting for an hour in the dark, I resigned myself to the fact that No, indeed, the power was not coming back on any time soon. I got myself ready for bed, took my pills and covered the bed in blankets, because we had no heat. And I went to bed.
At 4:30 a.m. in the morning, the power came back on.
The T.V. the computer, the radio, and the clocks all whirred back to life. I got up and adjusted the clocks, rebooted and shut down the computer, and went back to bed.
We seem to be on a different circuit than the rest of the neighborhood, because the streetlights in the neighborhood did not go out, and the rest of the buildings that sit next to ours all had power, while we were sitting in the dark. My friend who lives two blocks from here (East), went dark as well, so a big section of this section of downtown, went dark again.
I left early to meet one of my guys for our Sunday read and discussion.
We are reading the Big Book together, and we are on Chapter Six … Into Action.
This section covers steps five through ten, that’s as far as we went.
None of the words in this section of the book have been changed in seventy six years. Yet, I am reading the book actively again with someone else. And we read through the Ninth Step Promises and a new word came to me, as I explained what they meant for my guy.
Sobriety is all about perception, and the changing of our perception. It is also Experiential as well.
Reading the Promises people usually zero in on:
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”
For a program that is so “forwards thinking,” we sure do spend a great deal of time, dwelling on the past. In order to move forwards, we need to learn from the past. It is in getting rid of the wreckage of our past, cleaning house, working our steps, and helping others, that true freedom will come.
I’ve seen promises come true in my life, and in others lives.
Sometimes quickly, Sometimes slowly.
Some promises, seemed, to be unapproachable or unattainable in my life. But after years and years, the one that dogged me to the end of the earth, finally came to pass.
I said to my friend tonight that the Promises are Experiential. That was the first time I had ever said that word, in relation to reading them. And I caught the use of the new word. And they are …
We get the book in the beginning. And someone reads it with us. This is, in my opinion, time sensitive.
We don’t read on the first day and expect any of it to make sense. But when the time comes, we (read: Sponsors and Sponsees) know when the time is right to start reading.
We’ve read the first five chapters. And we begin our steps. Meanwhile we are reading through the book from the beginning each week. Are we putting the cart before the horse ??? No …
At first we read through How it works, and up to Step Three. That is when I introduced Step One to the one who is ready to start. Meanwhile we are reading. We had the discussion about adding prayer to ones day. Steps Three and Seven Prayers, every day. From the beginning. And we see how that is working on a weekly basis.
We’ve now read up through Step Nine. And the homework is to read pages 84 through 86, covering Step Ten. Now we have begun the book, introduced prayer, and we now add a daily review, from the start. The Tenth Step.
This is where I deviate from process and tweak The Work.
Having something to look at and write on a daily/nightly basis, gives us something to talk about. If you get used to writing right away, as practice, and use it as a tool to see ones progression, that’s a good thing, Yes ?
We might not have eyes to see in the beginning, and we may not have ears to hear, in the beginning, but if we introduce “things to do” in the beginning, then we cultivate those eyes and ears.
Getting sober is all about experience. We have had experiences, some we may wish to forget, and in time we get to see/learn about the wealth of those experiences, and in time, we learn that wisdom.
Every time we look at specific situation and stories we get to look at them, with the eyes we have “in the moment, at that time.” And every successive look we get, over time, we have new eyes to see and new ears to hear with. The cyclical nature of time and the past repeats, hence the wisdom of:
Not regretting the past nor wishing to shut the door on it.
This ties directly into the reading for tonight. January, Month One, We read Tradition One.
“Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends upon A.A. Unity.”
There is wisdom there. And it comes over time.
How does an organization run properly and well, if there are no bosses, no money and no real organization and nobody in control? They ask …
Take a rag tag bunch of drunks, give them a coffee pot and a church basement, and see what happens. I’ve spent thirteen years getting sober in St. Leon’s Church basement.
When I came, there had already been over fifty years of experience in that said hall. A lot of people, a lot of experience, tried, tested and proved. I walked in not knowing anyone, not knowing anything, and needing help. They welcomed me, they gave me simple jobs to do, and I sank in.
That unifying presence welcomed me, took me in and taught me everything that I needed to know, on a need to know basis. When we walk in the door, and down those twelve steps (yes, there are actually twelve steps down into the church basement) whatever is going on outside stays outside, and the purpose of the rooms become clear, if we stick around.
We know that we can’t do this alone. And we also learn, that once we darken the doors, we are no longer alone, that we don’t have to be alone any more, unless we want to hold onto our misery.
The unifying purpose of the rooms is to welcome the newcomer and share the message of recovery with the alcoholic who still suffers. Only an alcoholic or a drug addict, can help another. Because we have shared experiences. Where else can you go and listen to people share, and realize that hey i was there once, I did that, they were there once, and they did that too !!!
Each group has its ways and means. Passed down through the years from those who came before us, and we carry them forwards, tweaking them as necessary, to serve the greater good. We rely on the goodness and faith of a power greater than ourselves, God as he speaks to us in our group conscience.
I’ve never had to leave the security of the A.A. Circle for any of my needs, in more than thirteen years. Because I was taught that if I had a need and if it was necessary, that I should take it to a meeting and speak it, I did that, the rest, they say is history.
I came to the rooms knowing not much. And for many years I sat in the warm and safe nest. During that time I made a lot of meetings, and did service. Two years ago, after eleven years of nesting, the fire was lit and my quest for MORE began.
What alcoholic isn’t obsessed with wanting MORE ???
I listened to people tell me about More, They told me how to get More, how to practice attaining More, and told me that if I did these things, MORE would come.
Then miraculously, I’ve been working on MORE. And More came. I was then ready to step up and be able to share the message with the alcoholic who still suffers. You just don’t step into the fray from the beginning and have everything you need to do and share The Work off the bat …
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !!!
It took me more than eleven years to see that wisdom. And now the fire of More burns.
The sisters of recovery and the brethren of New York live in this solution based fire of More.
I get to share this with my guys, and they get to share it with their people.
It’s freaking amazing.
Unity, Recovery, Service … The Three Legacies.
We come, We come to, And we all come to believe. Each in our own way.
The goodness of the rooms are fortified in that, for every human being there is experience. No two people are the same. How useless we would be if we were all the same. But we are unified under one common purpose to recover from a hopeless state of body, mind and spirit.
Rooms are everywhere. We are everywhere.
Where else can you go in your life where people are genuinely interested in your welfare, without the expectation of personal gain, who only want to see you succeed and will go to any length to help you get there ?
The world is a busy, noisy, wonderful and terrible at the same time, place.
But once you step in the door, you will find calm in the middle of the storm, a place that you can go to unload for an hour and recharge your batteries for a pittance.
All the money in the world won’t get you freedom from pain and misery.
All the money I spent on drugs and alcohol, I can never get back; and I wasted a ton of money drinking and drugging myself into a stupor. Today my loonie goes a lot farther in my recovery, than it did when I was using.
We have a solution. That works.
It is what we do.
More to come, stay tuned …
We’ve gone from minus double digits over the past few days, to a balmy (+2c) today, and at this hour we are sitting at (-2c). They are saying 5 to 10 cm of snow will fall over night, But me thinks that is pushing it, seeing it is warm outside, and rain is falling. Not sure how cold it needs to get for that rain to turn to snow.
And last week, when they told us that a significant snow event was coming and that we should be prepared, that never happened. That’s the second miss in as many weeks.
It was a good weekend. All of my peeps are home from vacations, or it was the first night (read: Friday) that we were all in the same place at the same time. However, I’ve noticed that we are missing a number of folks that I have not seen in more than a month. hmmm….
I departed early to meet folks at the church for our study hour, so I cranked out chairs and tables, and made coffee and as I was finishing up my guys arrived. Everybody is getting back into the swing of things, and we have set out plans for the coming weeks.
Today’s reading … Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Having been relieved of the obsession to drink, wouldn’t you want God to remove our most glaring character defects? Some say, I don’t want to let go of this one right now, and others say, I will never let this go…
I am on this step as we speak. My sponsor has given me homework to do and I sat down yesterday and started the book section of the questions. The second phase is a review of Steps 4 and 5 to see what I am still holding on to, and that is as far as I got.
So We read from the book, and the discussion began back around with me. In the reading the book mentions the seven deadly sins … and what caught my attention was this:
… Else why would we consume such great amounts of time wishing for what we have not, rather than working for it, or angrily looking for attributes we shall never have, instead of adjusting to the fact, and accepting it? And how often we work hard with no better motive than to be secure and slothful later on – only we call that “retiring.” Consider, too, our talents for procrastination, which is really sloth in five syllables. Nearly anyone could submit a good list of such defects as these, and few of us would seriously think of giving them up, at least until they cause us excessive misery.
When I got sober this time around, it was a few months in, I had De-fogged a bit. And from out of left field these thoughts came into my head, and I even listened to them, and had the audacity to speak them to people I did not even know at the time.
I’m not sure where my sense of entitlement came from, But I expressed it. I was mentally twisted way back then, and I am not sure I am all that mentally figured out now. I had lists for God to fulfill. I wanted things I was entirely not ready to receive. I “Expected.”
“Expect” is a dirty word. Just like the word “plan” is a joke.
Not that I wanted shit handed to me on a silver platter, I just wanted things. Things I later figured out that I HAD to work for. God whittled down my list of wants, to nothing. Meanwhile, He gave me everything that I needed, on a need to have basis. Just like information, early on, was on a need to know basis. Everything had its time and its season.
Nothing was easily gained, without a lesson attached to it, for greater measure. A very long time ago, on this very blog, if you know where to look, is a post on the Seven Deadly Sins. The path was, in hindsight, ordained. I would ask a question, or read from the book. We would discuss it, and then have time to think about that discussion. Finally, God would give me situations that I would get to work out those questions/answers/discussions in real time.
That is how my sobriety worked. And still works today.
When I wrote my 4th step, it was short and concise. The discussion I had on step Five was intense.
When I look back at them, It isn’t about what am I holding on to at the moment that is blocking me from moving forwards. Hence, Six and Seven.
I was warned early on that my brain would do a number on me. My sponsor has said, while working his steps in tandem with me, with his sponsor, that once we start working, the brain goes on over drive and shit happens.
Brief pause for a long distance conversation…
AND WE’RE BACK !!! (10 points if you can guess that reference)
Another door in my brain has opened up.
The beautiful lotus flower has turned into a ratty pile of shit.
Over the past decade, my aunt has collected photographs of me at various points in my life, with various people, events, places, holidays, and I have them here to look at. Some of these photos I look at and for the life of me I cannot remember them. I mean, the photos prove I was there, but I can’t seem to locate that specific memory.
I’ve always been afraid that my alcoholism and drug use in the past has caused some serious memory damage. But then that was yesterday, in the grand scheme of things, and this is today.
When I got sick I was treated by a psychiatrist. And I had to seek that help again.
Because when the hamster gets on that wheel in my brain, he runs at 90 mph. And he just keeps going and my brain goes into over drive and I don’t know how to make it stop. And for as long as I can remember, I relive certain memories continuously. I hear certain people say things, they once said to me. I relive the feeling those words elicited and the pain and fear become palpable.
I have recurrent dreams, and the same nightmares over and over.
As of late, like I said above, another door in my brain has opened. And I am not enjoying what I am reliving; Memories I haven’t thought about since they happened, shit I haven’t thought about since forever. It is like Groundhog Day.
I’ve said before that my twenties was the worst decade of my life. But as bad as it got in the end, there was one bright spot amid all the calamity and death that was going down around me. Amid the hurricane that was my life, I had periods of time in the eye of the storm.
I’ve never really spent time dissecting the past. And any good alcoholic will tell you that the mind is not some place one goes without a hardhat and certainly not alone. Recently, God, in His infinite wisdom has brought me a list of all the stupid, irresponsible, most painful, pitiful and terrible things I did in my twenties.
The longer you are sober, the harder you work your program, the time is going to come when the floodgates open and you get to seriously look at all those shitty things you did while drinking. I’ve not had this opportunity, YET ! I’ve never really thought about the things on my present radar screen.
It’s a really good thing that when I go to bed at night, I have assistance.
It is during the day, when I try to nap that becomes a nightmare. Totally unscripted, unaided attempts at sleep. I can shut the hamster down at night, but during the day, I am powerless.
I had this partial conversation with a friend during the break, and he said that there must be a reason these things are coming up at this specific time, and it is up to me to figure out why ???
If you’ve ever read the book “Experience, Strength and Hope,” that is the compendium of all the stories that appear in Editions One, Two and Three of the Big Book. Reliving my twenties is like rereading those stories.
The First edition is riddled with the lowest bottom stories, because in the thirties, men were down and dirty low bottoms. The second and third get progressively better, ever so slightly. And the fourth has a mixture of all of them, and a few new additions for good measure.
My drunk journey played out in reverse order. All the losses that usually come at the end of ones drinking happened to me within the first ten years of my rampant and flagrant drinking career.
By the way, as I’ve written this post, it is indeed snowing right now.
I have to figure out why these memories are coming up now, and thinking a bit, I was Totally stupid. Totally self centered. Totally consumed with how I was going to keep drinking at the rate I was drinking and have the funds to do so, to my mind, indefinitely.
There wasn’t anything I would not do to guarantee alcohol.
My excuse, what did I know about responsibility? I had no clue. I did not have the knowledge that would have said, “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this right now, and maybe you should not be so dishonest and flagrantly self centered!” Do you see a pattern here ?
Ah, the lies we tell ourselves. I was not responsible. I didn’t have the capability.
I know for a fact that my father and mother were burdened by my alcoholism. Even though alcoholism was rampant in my family, three generations back, they seemed to skate by with nary a word about it, nor do I ever remember losses in their lives, like they hit me. But everybody took notice when I drank, but nobody said a word against it. They just rolled with it. At their expense.
I lament, Not One Person ever said STOP until Todd did at age 26.
By then it was too late. What was done was done, There was no changing fate.
When I learned I was going to die, Todd stepped in and turned my life around.
Against my suicidal tendencies, I had to take responsibility for my life, at long last. It was either become responsible or DIE. There were no two ways about it.
The rest is history.
Why my brain has focused on this particular section of my life I don’t know. the worst of my drinking was the first half of my twenties, and ran up to age twenty five, the second phase of my drinking started there and ended at age twenty six. I was supposed to die.
God had other plans for me.
My father once said to me that “Once you speak words, you can never take them back.”
He never took his own advice, and neither did my mother.
I can add to that, once you do something unforgivable, there is no going back. Once the action is done, it is done. There are no do over’s. You can’t take an action or a word back.
Where man fails at forgiveness, God forgives. Totally, 100%.
Jeremy says that “If you give God everything, God will forgive everything.”
But as humans, we tend not to believe that God forgives all, and we hang on to shit that we could easily let go of, and let God get rid of it.
My life played out the way it did. I can’t take any of it back. Tucked into all that insanity were moments, hours and maybe a few days of beauty, some good people who had a good influence on me, and created genuine memories.
But King Alcohol had its grip on me in any case.
There is no excuse. I drank. And whomever I had to railroad to keep drinking I did it.
Not proud of that truth, but it is what it is.
I guess that’s the lesson here.
I am so glad that I never have to drink again. Because I could end up right where I started.
I think I am done here for tonight.
More to come, stay tuned …
The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.
I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.
And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.
He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.
Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”
Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.
Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.
I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.
God has been on the front burner lately.
And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.
Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???
I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.
And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.
We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.
We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.
We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …
Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.
Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.
Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.
I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.
Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.
My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.
Ugh… newcomers !
In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.
We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …
With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…
I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.
Some did not get that memo.
Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.
Some folks with serious time, forget.
- They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
- They forget that they should be living in the solution.
- They forget what it was like to be new.
- They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
- They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
- They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
- And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.
Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.
I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.
I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.
I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.
Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.
Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.
Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.
It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.
Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.
It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.
If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.
We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.
And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.
I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!
UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!
More to come, stay tuned …
More to come, stay tuned …
… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”
That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.
Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.
It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.
I had plans early this evening.
But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.
I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.
So I went back to bed.
I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.
We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.
How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?
Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.
I heard very familiar themes.
Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.
Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.
I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.
I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …
Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.
My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!
Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO
It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.
We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.
Ten are not enough, and one is too many
In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.
She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.
Not always knowing the WHY ?
In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).
And it was done that way with me when I got sober.
I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.
If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.
All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.
I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.
Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”
We did not get sober to be Miserable …
There are three types of alcoholics.
- One group are those who will die from the disease
- Another group who will go insane
- And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm
I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.
We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.
I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …
- Go to meetings
- Call another alcoholic
- Work with another human being
Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.
Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…
We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.
So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …
Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …
Yes, That Day …
- The day we admit we have a problem.
- And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
- Now knows what the problem is,
- Who the common denominator is,
- And what we call it.
- The disease of alcoholism
- And then we ask for HELP
We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.
Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.
- And if we are lucky,
- and the stats are very slim,
- we get sober,
- and hopefully we are in it to win it,
- and we stick and stay.
I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.
And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.
I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.
You got to be in it to win it.
I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.
And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.
We live life with enthusiasm.
Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.
It was a great night.
More to come, stay tuned …
Can I tell you how cold it is outside right now? (-11c/-15c w.c.) Brrrrrr…
After yesterday’s excitement and Boo Yah purchase, today had to get even better.
And it did.
Today was beauty day, well, my appointment with my stylist. The ever evolving haircut continues. Let’s just say, it is a work in progress.
Not to mention, on the train (that story is coming) on the way out there was a very very HUMPY Montreal police officer on the train, with a version of “the haircut” and I was like M.E.O.W. come arrest me please !!!!
When I left for the mall, I really had no plan beyond getting my hair cut.
You know what happens to me whenever I make a plan right?
God Laughs …
My sponsor is M.I.A. for the past two days, and I am having a love affair with his answering machine, which he jokingly replies when I say that is … “that is the safest relationship.”
So, I packed my bag with warm fuzzies and I left my headphones home, because, I wasn’t going anywhere far, that would require music to follow.
It was 12:30 and I was already out. And I put in an order at inter group for chips that I was going to go get tomorrow. Standing in the mall, I decided to check the service office hours, which were from 1 until 7 this evening.
I thought to myself that I would charge my Opus card, walk from the mall home to get my headphones, and walk to the next Metro Station, which is 3 blocks East of home. The mall is 3 blocks West of home, so that was my plan.
Did I mention that it was cold?
I chose not to go home, instead I got on the train and headed to the East End to pick up chips.
It was a 30 minute commute out East, and a trudge up the Olympic Park Hill, yes, that Olympic Park. The BIG O … Where the 1976 Olympics took place. There is a nice coating of ice citywide on all the sidewalks. UGH !!!
I am superstitious about chips.
- Your sponsor is supposed to get your chip, (He asked me to get it instead)
- You don’t get your chip prior to the actual anniversary
- And you don’t touch your chip until it is handed to you by your sponsor
It is bad juju to break any of these conditions !
My chip was waiting for me, and I asked the kind lady to bag my chip and I shared with her my superstitions. (cue eye roll and the thought … Oh those alcoholics !!!) While I was there I purchased chips for my guys in advance, since I was there already, and their dates don’t come up for a few months, in any case, I have them all now.
Another 30 minute commute back to where I started, and had some Micky D’s for lunch, and then got home close to 3 in the afternoon.
I skyped with a friend who lives in Pittsburgh, and who is coming home for Christmas next week !!!
Cue Happy Dance …
**** **** ****
The Return – A First Share
Our men’s meeting closed last week, which frees up a meeting night. Our little band of happy men decided that we would indeed return to the regular Thursday night speaker meeting at St. Matthias church, which is just up the road from St. Leon’s (where our men’s meeting met).
We arrived to a great welcome, since we haven’t seen folks on Thursday in 18 months. We were joking amongst ourselves on the bus that we should have worn our royal jewels, diamonds, sapphires and Gold !!! Really make a Liberace entrance …
You don’t know that you miss a certain meeting, until you spend a good amount of time doing something else. I missed this meeting. It has been a staple meeting for many years, and when we chose to open the men’s meeting, we knew we were knocking off tradition.
Lots of people I know, lots of people we all know. It was good.
My favorite human being, because he is stately and humble and kind was in the chair.
Our young speaker got up there, and knocked it out of the park.
Some meetings are hardline singleness of purpose meetings, where you can only talk about alcoholism and nothing but. And I’ve seen people get up and leave a meeting midway because someone up there says the word “Drugs!”
And in the 21st Century, what alcoholic is NOT cross addicted??? The numbers are staggering!
Guesses, anyone ???
It seemed that nobody gave a shit, in any case.
Our man got up there and told a story that tugged at my heart. I laughed, I felt sad, I felt sorry for him, and in the end, we were all proud of him.
You could have dropped a pin in that room, nobody got up, nobody left, nobody said a word.
Because we all respect the man who chaired the meeting, and the young man who got up there to share and because of the people who run that meeting. These are all truly respectable people, who do good things for all of us.
It is Grace when you get to sit in a meeting and hear a newcomer speak for the first time.
Because, how often and always, those of us with time, forget what it was like to be newly sober, or coming back, and have to get up there and share experience, strength and hope for the first time.
We all did it, many of us have forgotten what that felt like. And what it sounded like.
Tonight we were reminded, every single one of us in that room.
Our chair said afterwards, of the young speaker, that, “when I asked him to speak I did not know him, but when I asked him, he said yes, and now tonight, I know him a bit better.”
Never say no to a request to do any kind of service.
Bittersweet … The longer I stay, the worse it gets for some. Leave a meeting for a while, and then return, and witness people who decided to toss it away and go back out, only to show up and take another beginner’s chip. People with serious time go out, and it is unnerving. And it makes me think about either, what I am doing right? or what they are doing wrong?
There is a simple list of things to do to guarantee not going back out.
And I bang those things into my guys heads over and over…
Sadly, not everyone can exceed expectations. The revolving door still exists. And sadly, people I knew 18 months ago who were long sober, are once again, trying again. You never know what pulls people out the door, but I do … cunning baffling and powerful …
One moment of indecision, one lapse in thought, the 12 inch gulf between ones head and their heart.
How did they slip through the cracks? How does that happen when they used to be connected to a home group, doing service and staying sober?
I’m really grateful that I am sober another day. Because I know, in an instant, I could be right back there, hating myself and starting over. I choose not to do that, and I am willing to go to any length to stay where I am right now. I worked too damned hard to get here, to piss it away with a momentary lapse in judgment.
Serenity – Acceptance – Courage – Wisdom – Patience – Appreciation – Tolerance – Strength
The long version of the Serenity Prayer in brief …
A good day and a great night.
At least for tonight, all of our folks are sober one day.
More to come, stay tuned …
Hello Sunday Readers. It is a little chilly, and it is wanting to rain, but that did not happen on the way home. The theme of this past week is turning out to be the number 11. The way the readings have come this past week, and the way the month ends, on this particular Sunday, the last Sunday of the month, we focus on Tradition 11.
Attraction rather than promotion.
Not sure what the reason is, but our numbers have fallen off the past few weeks. Students are in the final push with exams and the end of term, and the beginning of the holiday break starts as well. I’ve said before that this period of time is the toughest time of the year for many, normies or not.
Friday night, I pilfered a couple Grape Vines to read, because I am between reads on my bedside table. And upon reading one of the issues, one writer talked about volunteering at the Bill W. house that I went to see in October. And I was like, HMMMM …
I had some literature that was given to us at the house, that I really did not read through, so I went back to it and found that they indeed have a list of things they need, certain people who can do certain things, skills, building, plumbing and all sorts of house care abilities. Later I spoke to my sponsor and put a bug in his ear about maybe returning to the house next summer to volunteer for a while.
Tomorrow is December 1st. World AIDS Day.
December already, Can you believe it ???
We are nine days out from my anniversary.
The second booklet I was reading from had a particular story based in Mississippi. And I want to share with you part of that story…
… A tall, thin man … had a treatment house for drunks out in the country. My uncle knew about him from the church and took me out to this house to get me some help after finding me drunk once again. This man talked about how he felt before and after he drank.
He taught me from the Big Book.
At this house I heard things like, “I didn’t get drunk every time I drank, but every time I got drunk, I had been drinking” … “The first thing you have to do to stop drinking is to stop drinking” … “Reveal yourself to God and ask God to reveal Himself to you” …
Red, you’re doing everything backwards.
You are trying to get clean before you get in the bath, It’s the purpose of the bath to get you clean” … and … “All my life I ran from the bears and tigers, when the fleas and ticks were about to carry me off.”
When the time is right, and we are prepared to listen to the message, the right folks appear and speak the words that will, hopefully, take root, and change our lives.
We encourage folks at our meetings to grab the free stuff, those pamphlets that usually gather dust in the cabinet. We also tell them to read that literature then leave them where someone who might need it, will find them.
Buses, Trains, Doctors offices. Subtle, don’t you think?
Many of us have had opportunities on the many modes of transportation in our city, to be able to be present for another human being. It is not all about us. I am reminded of a certain young woman who I have not seen in a while, but one night she saw someone in need on a Metro platform, and she sat with that person and talked to them about experience, strength and Hope.
What we do, we do out of the goodness of our hearts. To share and to help others. It’s not about personal gain or accolades. We talked about the paradox on Friday night. The loss of ego, the loss of selfishness, to the state of humility and the acts of selflessness.
I can talk about me, and I can tell stories, and share insights with you.
We are all on a journey together. And like I have said before, I don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, and I know that if I do hear it, that it is going to come from someone familiar. You never know when you are going to hear something or say something that is going to change a life.
I know, that many folks who come to meetings, on any given night, come to hear their friends, and to participate in the journey’s of our fellows. We all want what each other has. There is something attractive about every human being I know.
I was talking to one of my guys tonight about growing up. And I told him that I took what I needed from my parents, and left the rest that was unnecessary. When I got sober the second time, I went to meetings, and I met all the right people. Men and Women.
I am an amalgamation of every human being that I have known in the past thirteen years.
I watched and listened to all those people over the years. I did what they did. I learned about me and I did it one day at a time. I really had all the time in the world, and when they told me that “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it made sense. I was in no hurry to grow up.
But I did grow up. And what I have and who I am, is a direct result of the hundreds of hours that I have spent in the rooms themselves with the people I love and adore.
December 9, 2001. Day One. 365 days x 13 = 4,745 days.
I’ve lived almost 4,745 days one day at a time. I wanted what I wanted. I worked for every sober day I got. And I lived. When I should have died a long time ago. I’ve lived 21 years past my expiration date. Because I moved here. I met the right doctor, the right men, and the right women.
All of them participated in my recovery and in my life.
Montreal was an attractive city. Montreal IS an attractive city. And If you’ve never been here, then one day you must come here and see it.
The program was attractive. It was not pounded into me. I was shown, a day at a time, how it worked, and if I wanted it, and I was ready to go to any length to get it, then it was mine to have.
And now I have the opportunity to share that with you. I share with my friends and fellows, and with my guys, not because I have to, but because I want to. Today, people want to know me and be my friends. It isn’t about me, in the end. It’s about my friends and how much they enrich my life.
Words are important. Make sure you use the right words.
I hope I have used the right words tonight.
I want to end on the right word.
Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).
Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.
We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.
We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.
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I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.
We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.
I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.
The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.
When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.
And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.
So that is a thing.
There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???
Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:
The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …
“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”
Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23
When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!
I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.
If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.
I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.
I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.
Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.
Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…
I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.
When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.
I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.
But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.
But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !
And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.
The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.
And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.
The rest is history.
All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …
It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.
“I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” Pg. 552
Another week has come and go. The weather is getting cold. This is the time of year where I enjoy sitting on my balcony watching weather come and go overhead.
The city is little by slowly getting taken over by elf magic. Decorations are going up in the stores, in the malls, on lamp posts, if it stands by itself, one can put lights on it, it seems.
From where we live, up as high as we are, weather is a huge feature of this home of ours.
Every night the sky is different. Every night, the sunset can be spectacular, and sometimes it is just meh ! This getting dark in the middle of the afternoon is definitely disconcerting.
Yesterday I was sitting outside and I watched a lone cloud, move from West to East, around the West end, and over the South Shore, (read: The south side of the St. Lawrence River), we are on the North side, the island of Montreal.
There were no other clouds nearby, not over our section of the city, that we can see. And this one cloud dropped rain over the South Shore, in one fluid movement, moving West to East.
Tonight, it was somewhere around 5:30 or 6:00, hubby had just gotten home from work, saying that he saw snow. I walked outside, and once again, there was a single cloud hanging over the South Shore, and it was snowing from that one cloud.
Our view is quite expansive. On a clear day we can see all the way to New York State, to the West, Mount Royal to the North, the South Shore to the South. The lighting in the section of the city is not white. It is more like an amber color in the streetlamps. The buildings on the west end are up lit from their roofs. And it is an optical illusion, but when it is cloudy or stormy, it seems the clouds drop out of the sky, and are lit from the ground and the buildings. Sometimes they cover the top of the mountain.
It is especially cool in the winter to watch the clouds come over. One can usually tell when the clouds are fit to burst with either rain or snow.
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This was an ordinary week, so far. Nothing exciting going on here.
Tuesday we sat a small group, and we read through Step Ten. All the usual suspects came, but we were missing some folks. Thursday we sit the same group of men, the ones holding together that meeting, one month at a time. We read from Living Sober … Getting Enough Rest.
Tonight I traveled across the city to North End English. The Friday Who’s Who meeting of the week.
Tonight’s reading … Who’s Responsibility ???
“… That is why sobriety – freedom from alcohol – through the teaching and practice of A.A. Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group ( read: or a group). If we don’t stick to this cardinal principle, we shall almost certainly collapse. And if we collapse we cannot help anyone.”
An A.A. group follows the singleness of purpose rule, our job is to welcome the newcomer, and anyone else who needs a meeting. That is our job. The first order of business, when we stop drinking, is to stay stopped. And the way we do that, is by coming, and listening, and watching. And learning …
We cannot solve all your problems. Social, Marital, Financial, etc …
An old timer spoke tonight telling the story about his life. He had all those kinds of problems. Our One Common problem, between us all is that (a) we were powerless over our alcoholism, and (b) that our lives had become unmanageable.
It is usually a foregone conclusion that if we remove the alcohol, usually, everything falls back into place. But not every situation is like that. Sometimes by the time we quit the drink, we have wrecked our relationships, our families, our spouses, and the lives of children, if we have them, our jobs and our financial security, sometimes all at once, or they fall, like dominoes, one at a time.
The first thing I (read: me) had to do was put down the drink. Because at that point, I was sick and delusional. I could not go on drinking like I had been. And for the first five months, this time around, I went to meetings, and I listened to people talk, I went through a couple passes of the Steps, Living Sober, and the Big Book. I was pretty well set, when I moved here, to get started.
I got connected right away. I worked very hard at doing everything right, hoping that I would never “want” to drink again. One of my friends and I were talking on the way home about wants and needs.
When I came back, I had thoughts about things I wanted … Things I thought were important.
God had other plans for me.
In the beginning, I relied on meetings and the people in those meetings, like I had never depended on anyone before. I wasn’t dependent on them, but I depended on them. Never in the last thirteen years, (almost), I have never had to go outside the rooms for anything.
Our meetings follow the singleness of purpose, true. The addendum to this is this …
We always get what we need, whenever we walk into a meeting. And in this program, if you’ve ever come in, went back out, and come back a second, third or fourth or fifth time, you gotta really “want it” to be able to get it.
I heard it tonight. A friend came in crazy, worried and afraid, and she spoke it to the meeting, and at the end of the meeting, several members stepped up and said, “We will help you …” Situation averted!
If there is something on your heart or on your mind, speak it to a meeting. If the need is great, and the desire is genuine, God will provide, one way or another. It may not come right away, but I’ve seen God turn things around within an hours time.
They also say that be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready, He will give it to you. Without even an expectation on the books.
Many people have come and gone through my life in sobriety. Not everyone is meant to be with us for the entire journey. I can tell you that there is only one woman, who is still in my life today, who was there when I got sober in the beginning. I see her at work, because she doesn’t go to meetings any more, but we are still close friends. I can always count on her for support.
God has done for me what I could not do for myself.
This reading also talks about personal responsibility.
Firstly, We are responsible for ourselves and the decision we made to stop, and to Stay Stopped.
Once we put down the drink, we may or may not be very responsible, but we get there eventually. A good sponsor steps in at the right time, to support you. Our job, to help you stay sober, and get you through your steps. But not all at once, and surely not right away.
I’d rather help you sink into your seat and get comfortable with where you are, before The Work begins. In the beginning, all I had to do was get me to a meeting. I had to learn how to do that in a four season setting. That took work. A lot of work.
They gave me jobs to do in the beginning. Chairs and tables, for a long time. Months …
Then I made coffee, for a long time. I still make coffee to this very day.
That’s almost 13 years of weeks, making coffee for a meeting at least three times a week.
An urn usually holds 30 cups of coffee per night. I go to 4 meetings a week. I make coffee, three times a week. That is three urns of coffee a week, at thirty cups a night, times thirteen.
30 cups x 3 times a week x 365 days x 13 years = that’s 427,050 cups of coffee in 13 years.
I learned how to be responsible for simple things, which prepared me for the bigger things.
I had good people in my life all along, from the very beginning. Who taught me very important lessons about life, love, responsibility, accountability, etc …
I got that all from the meetings, and the people in them.
Little by slowly, I got a life.
Little by slowly, I got the man.
Little by slowly, I got the home I wanted.
Little by slowly, I got the education.
Little by slowly, I got the marriage. Next Thursday it will be 10 years …
And little by slowly, in December, I will reach thirteen years sober on December 9th.
It did not come all at once. I learned that I go to meetings. I talk things out. I work my steps.
Then God says … ok, now you’ve done the homework, let’s see you work it out in real time.
And one by one, I get a little study time, a little think time, and a long period of work it out time.
Then the cycle repeats itself. Season after season, year after year.
I am responsible.
Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. to be there,
And for that I am responsible.
God has been good, to me and my fellows. Not all times are good. Sometimes things can get very shitty and it seems that God steps out of the picture for a time, I’m not sure why that happens, maybe we need to learn something about ourselves ( read; study period) then He re-engages.
The only thing we have to change when we get sober is everything.
It isn’t always fun. Sometimes it can be downright HARD !
But they tell us, wisely, to stick around until the miracle occurs.
More to come, stay tuned …
“I get everything I need in Alcoholics Anonymous – And everything I need I get, And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”
Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, page: 552.
Well, it is a common occurrence that the weather forecast changes by the hour here, and the snow that appeared the other day, is gone now. It will be too warm for snow, so it’s going to rain instead ! BOOOO ….
Another week begins and on Tuesday Canada will stop to remember. It will be a very bittersweet Remembrance Day this year, because of the recent events that two Canadian soldiers lost their lives because of terrorist activity here in Canada. Our men and women are proud to serve their country and to also wear their uniforms. As one soldier said the other night, “We Will NOT Be Intimidated !!!”
Security will be stepped up at all gathering locations.
Hopefully, nobody will do anything stupid on Remembrance Day.
It was an uneventful weekend. I have spent a good chunk of hours before bed reading “Price Lestat.” I am impressed with the way the story is unfolding so far.
I departed early. The weather is chilly, and the trees are quickly dropping leaves all over the place. The church had raked ten bags full of leaves that got picked up last week, now they have to re-rake the yard because the entire lawn is covered again. Best to get them up before the first snow fall.
We had a gaggle of women for set up. Not that there is really, a lot to do, once the coffee is on, setting up chairs with more than three people takes little time. I have a newbie that came with a friend, and he joined the group and we exchanged numbers so we will see where that goes. He’s on the call every day program. Hopefully he will take.
We set out all of our chairs as usual, but in the end, many of them were empty. We sat just the right number of folks because we read all the way around and them shared all the way around just under the wire.
We are one story closer to the end of the book. “Freedom from Bondage…”
We heard several key words from this read … Power, Control, Ego, Self Centeredness, Obsession …
Step Three Prayer says .. “Relieve me from the bondage of self that I may better do thy will…”
In the beginning our writer was of the mind that she could never trust another human being, and that what ever it was she wanted, she was supposed to go out and get it. Kind of like, King and Master of ones life. Through trial and error, well, mostly errors, it took her a long time to figure out that, the attainment of “things” or “people” or “situations” was not really what mattered.
Drinking to escape ones self and constantly trying to find ones self in the act of marriage, whether that marriage was for money, or children, trying to fix ones self, by adding people or things to the mix was not the solution.
We also heard about emotional maturity. Something I can identify with.
They say that when we begin drinking, whenever that is, we stunt our growth, emotionally.
When I started drinking, I was woefully prepared for the big wide world, and totally immature to handle adult situations.
When I got sober the first time I was forced to grow up, as I was able, to deal with life threatening illness.
I conquered that situation because I was sober and had a guide.
Then I lapsed, and gave back the gift. And turned my back on it.
When I got sober the second time, I was at that crucial jumping off point.
I was too old to keep drinking the way I was drinking. The alcohol was not going to add years to my life. And sure as shit, it wasn’t going to turn me into a buff beach boy that I wanted to become or regress into.
Fear was ruling my life, because I was really not ready to grow up, but there was no other way to go.
God had a plan, and when I finally surrendered, I trusted in where ever He was going to take me.
I did grow up, into the man I am today, and if not for the rooms, I don’t know where I would have ended up.
Our writer says in her story that “I get everything I need in A.A. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.”
If you are in, I encourage you to stick and stay. Because in time you will learn the same truth. Everything we need will come from the rooms and the people in them. I guarantee that to you.
You always get what you need when you step in a room.
We welcomed newcomers. We helped a woman trying to get help for her partner. We got another member. We had visitors from out of town. And it seemed that everybody got fed along the way.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: James Clear – Flickr
It isn’t snowing, yet … But we are hovering right around ( +2c with a low of -2c) tonight.
And I just love this photo as well.
It is a bit chilly out. And last night we turned the clocks back, which fucked up overnight radio, but I slept a good night’s sleep anyways. Some folks did not get the memo over the weekend, and some of our number were all discombobulated worrying that they would be late, when in reality, they did not turn their clocks back last night.
I’ve been noticing that some bus stops have been moved farther away from their original locations, and now we have to walk farther to get a bus than the local usual stop. And the city workers have pulled up many flowerbeds and planters in anticipation of the coming snows.
They city does that, they plant great flower beds and tall growing plants in planters located all around the intersections all over town. Knowing that when it snows, those plants and flowers stand no chance of survival once snow begins to pile up, so they dig them up early, and most probably, they end up in a compost heap somewhere.
I got to the church, and I was soon followed by new people to make coffee, set up and greet. With numbers of folks, set up takes mere minutes. Then we all waited.
At 6 the bells ring in the bell tower. Most of the chairs were still empty. I figured that folks were slow today because of the time change, but in the end we sat a full house. This month one of our women who is new to the program and just crossed her year, is chairing for the first time, and that is always exciting. We are all so proud of her.
We are one more story closer to the end of the book, with the reading of “A Late Start.”
“It’s been ten years since I retired, seven years since I joined A.A. Now I can truly say that I am a grateful alcoholic.”
After reading a story like this one, one can easily say, “better late than never.”
Our woman who writes this story, had a life, a family, and everything else that came with it. Then, one by one, she began loosing things. First a child, then a husband, and her life soon followed. Drinking came late, but did not spare her suffering. No matter what age you start drinking, the end point is always the same for those of us who just can’t stop.
She came, she saw, and she scoffed. For a long time, she listened and at least she kept showing up. Like many people we see today, coming to and then the coming to believe is a tall order. The other kicker in this story is our writers inability to admit powerlessness over the drink. Many of us fight tooth and nail to maintain control, in some way, and end up kicking and screaming all the way to the bank, until we finally become willing to admit we are licked.
Many, have to come to the point that they are willing to be willing.
We hear the same words. We read the same slogans. And in time we either find it, or we end up warming a chair until that magic moment that we become part of. And in our writers case, after some time in sobriety she says, quite pointedly that “she will never be responsible to or for anyone else ever again!”
It took her years to become willing. YEARS.
Eventually she reached the point that she was ready and willing to give it away, and work with another alcoholic.
But as the book says in A Vision for You … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got!”
I heard a friend say tonight that it was his experience that he is stubborn, like our writer tonight.
“NO, I don’t need your help,
Help me …
NO, I don’t want to talk to you,
Call me … “
Am I coming or am I going?
I am hearing a very familiar message from our women, who are homed at our Sunday group. They have all had the experience of getting sober and coming to and then coast for a number of years. At some point in the game they realized that they were stagnant, and they needed a pick me up. And so they found other women who knew the way into living in the book, in the steps and in the solution.
And now they’ve all really “Come to Believe” that the only way to LIVE IT is to be IN IT.
To be IN it to WIN it…
Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.
Nothing gives me/us more pleasure than to try and make a difference in another human beings life in that most important period of time, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after. We got all the way around the room, and while we ate cake, we talked to each other. Trying to give hope that things WILL eventually get better. You just got to stick around and believe that WE believe in you and are here for you as well. And that simple statement can change a life in ways one would never expect.
Our five year celebrant this evening has just come off a climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa …
That little tid bit of information got everybody going. It was very exciting.
I reiterated the thought about your chair, and learning to get comfortable in your chair, and to listen from your chair and that eventually, you will say something from your chair, that will change someones life, so stick around.
The only thing you have to change in sobriety is EVERYTHING. That’s what the book says.
And you know how control freak alcoholics resist change as if change was fire …
Eventually we learn that to let go, make the admission, come, and then come to, that is when life begins to change, and don’t you want to turn it around and help another alcoholic? That’s the whole point. To get better, to learn and to change, and then allow your experience, strength and hope to bring another human on board.
In order to keep it, we must give it away.
I think we did that in spades tonight.
We laughed, we cried, we ate CAKE !!!
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
I love my collection of holiday photos. This particular image comes from my archives of old.
Yes, it is Halloween. And no, it didn’t snow, nor did it rain. Thankfully !!!
From end to end, there were hundreds of folks dressed up riding the rails to events all over the city. When I arrived at the church, which sits in a residential area, there were tons of kids trick or treating, Some of us sat outside watching and reminiscing about our days when we were kids.
There was a time, when I was much younger, that trick or treating began as soon as sundown occurred, and we walked for miles carrying king sized pillow cases full of candy, that supplied us with sugar, all the way until Easter the following year. Some of those trips lasted until the wee hours of the morning, when the getting was good. Oh, the memories …
After last weeks exciting visit to Bill’s house and grave, this week was terribly boring to say the least.
On Sunday night we took sage advice and hit the meeting to “De-press” from the weekend. On Tuesday we sat a nice group and read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step Eight. Very few people, amid their steps are at this point in The Work.
Our Thursday night Men’s group took another hit, we lost another founder due to medical issues, which leaves only two original founders and three additional members. We are down to Five now, we are hoping that God will provide for the meeting over the next few months.
Christmas and New Years fall on a Thursday this year, which means we will be hosting early dinner for guests on Christmas and then we will open to room for the meeting as usual. People actually show up on Christmas day for a meeting, which is always good.
Tonight’s reading from A.B.S.I. spoke to social events … Bars, nightclubs and parties, and the question of should I stay or should I go? This is a tedious question for folks in early sobriety, how to handle social events that involve liquor. That’s why I recommend Living Sober to people to read.
This topic brings me all the way back around to “Bitter Bernadette.”
Picture Sicily, 1910 …
It was the Pre-Christmas run up, a few years back. It was a Tuesday night. And people were agonizing about what to do about the holiday, and what kind of game plan they should have.
In the end, some folks drank, yet others did stay sober.
I can talk about Bernadette because she is no longer around. She was an older woman, with adult aged kids who lived in the U.K. She was scheduled to travel transatlantic for the holidays, but was worried about drinking. She mulled over drinking on the plane all the way across, then not drinking while visiting family, then she had a second plan, that also included drinking, and a bit of sobriety.
The fact that she was willing to drink again spoke volumes about where she was in sobriety.
I listened to her incessant worries in community. I was about five years sober. At the end of the meeting I took her aside and said, ” You know, your kids are adults, and right now you are sober, don’t you want to keep it that way? Why put your sobriety in jeopardy with trying to battle a demon that has you in its grips? If you can’t make the trip and NOT drink, then don’t go! Go another time, I’m sure they will understand…”
If you are so worried about drinking, then just Don’t Go !!! Change your plans.
She did not like that answer, she then said to me “that I wasn’t a parent and that I surely don’t understand what it is like to have kids,” and I admit, I don’t … then she gave me a one finger salute and told me to go fuck myself, she proceeded out the door, and never came back. That was the last time I ever saw Bernadette. She never returned to the meeting, nor did I ever see her again in any other meeting in the city after that.
In early sobriety there are plans of action we talk about. Things to do and not to do. We plan out game plans with our folks. We set them up with sponsors, contacts, phone numbers. We open meetings on holidays to make it a bit easier.
One must be in Good Spiritual Condition to walk into an event that liquor will be served. Do you need to go to that party, or that bar, or that nightclub? Do you have a good reason to put yourself in that kind of atmosphere? If not, then don’t go.
Now is the time we start talking about whether one should stay or should one go.
In the early years, this time around, I played around with going to nightclubs for a few years.
You must understand that when you live by mass transit, one must figure out the hours of operation, what you are bringing with you ( i.e. coats, jackets, scarves and such) during the Winter. Then you have to figure out how you are going to get home after hours, because the metro shuts down at 1 a.m. and you are stuck with the scary night bus or a taxi ride back into downtown, which usually ends up in a twenty dollar taxi ride, on top of what you are going to spend on drinks while out.
After all that organization, who wants to think about drinking ???
Going out in the Winter is a Bitch … Wearing the right clothing and the right shoes. Having to check your gear in a coat check, with tons of others at the same time. Then trying to navigate a taxi with snow on the ground all over the place … It became all too much to handle. So I stopped going out all together. Haven’t been to a club in probably a decade or more.
It wasn’t a question of the drink, but everything else.
Too Much Aggravation …
It is the weekend. It will get colder, but no snow as of yet.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a quiet week. Lots of meetings. Lots of reading. We hit Step Six on Tuesday, and Thursday we read from Came to Believe, and Friday’s topic was on the subject of financial insecurity. I listened carefully to our readings, and came away with some lessons.
It was a blustery weekend, like I said, a little rain, a lot of clouds, and today I broke out my winter jacket for the first time this season. Over the weekend, I crated the a.c. for the second time. And we probably won’t need it again, as the long term forecast says that temps won’t rise into positive double digits again any time soon.
The weather usually goes North just before Halloween. In years past, we have seen negative digits, and even snow on the odd occasion. We know that if it does snow before or on Halloween, that it will be a long and drawn out Winter. The kids will be bundled up in winter coats with their costumes again this year.
There is a load of construction going on in the neighborhood lately. They dug up the sidewalk in front of the Forum just up the block, and are replacing piping in the ground, which has caused a nightmare for pedestrians and the frontage shops in the Forum proper. All the terraces are rolled up because there is no place for them to be aside from the construction.
Cabot Square is coming along ever so slowly. They have yet to complete the bus lane ways that need to be finished before the first snow. And they need to sort out the bus stops for the same reason.
I was up and ready to go early today and arrived and cranked out set up before most folks showed up. We have been seeing good numbers lately, which bodes well for the future. Tonight we sat a full house again, and are one story closer to the end of the book. November 16th is our deadline.
This last section of the book, are stories that range from a few pages to a lot of pages. What else is there to talk about when you are in low bottom territory but I drank, I got drunk, I fell down, having suffered yet another black out and waking up who knows where, how much money did I loose, and what did I do last night? Tonight’s story was quick, dirty and to the point, in five pages.
I listed to the read and followed along, because I was in the chair. We got all the way around twice, once for the read, and second for the discussion. Stories like these are warnings to our young people that it can get bad, very quickly, and in short order. Some of them have already been to these places, And most of our long time members have also visited these places.
I stopped to think about my story, and I realized that at the start of my drinking career I did all those stupid things first. All those activities written about that usually occur at the bitter end, when the drink is really bad, and the obsession is running rampant.
I guess I am glad that I had completed my list of really stupid things first. That speaks volumes to the depth of addiction I had fallen into so quickly, early on. I could not care less about responsibility, paying rent, buying food, making car payments. My vision was very narrow. All I really cared about was where my next drink was coming from, and who would participate in its attainment.
It was also very good that I only had a car for a few years in my twenties. I lost it once to repossession, and my father got it back. That was probably, and still is, in my estimation, a very real resentment my father has against me. He never did anything that stupid, not that I ever knew about. But it is what it is.
Once I had hit my last stop in Ft. Lauderdale, in my 26th year, I lost the car again to flood waters, caused by a hurricane. The car was never the same after that, and I finally had gotten rid of it. I am sure it could have gotten very worse, as I grew up. But I sort of nipped that one in the bud when I got sober the first time. Who needs a car, when you live in the big city. After that round, I stayed close, I have lived in big cities ever since. I don’t need a car here because mass transit is so plentiful.
All those things that happen at the end of ones drinking career that signal that the end is near and that maybe you should stop happened to me. But in reverse order. I had hit rock bottom several times early on but did not get the memo for a while. I just kept going, until, like I have said before, another human being said the word S.T.O.P …
It could have gone on to the bitter end, and that’s how I wanted it, I wasn’t ready to die a gruesome death, I would rather have died from the bottle rather than a terrible disease. That was not to happen.
I would face my challenge sober, and I would, in the end, prevail.
I’ll say it again. When I really needed God, He presented himself to me and saved my life. And I will take that to my grave.
The other identifying factor from most low bottom stories are the drinking bouts that end up in a black out. The Not Knowing. At the end of my slip, I had perfected my drinking to one night a week, because that’s all I could handle. One great night of debauchery.
Trying to fit in, by drinking my way in.
And in the end the night ended with someone pouring my sodden body into a taxi, and finding myself in my bed, having gotten through two locked doors, never knowing how that happened.
To this day, I cannot tell you the who, where, what or why of my black outs.
Either someone removed me by force, or someone was watching out for me without my knowledge. I don’t know, but that is one memory that keeps it green for me. The black outs, that final hangover, the admission that I was licked. The alcoholic who appeared because I asked God for one to appear.
My last drink, was my last drink. So far. To this day. One day at a time.
I’ve seen enough in my lifetime, and over the last almost thirteen years, I have heard stories from my friends and fellows that remind me over and over of just how bad it will get if I ever pick up another drink.
It doesn’t have to get that bad.
There is a solution. The women I know work very hard at working and living in the Solution.
I learned how they do it, and now my guys are doing that as well. By The Book.
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And on an entirely different note…
Here it comes … Are you ready?
There are 67 shopping days until Christmas
More to come Stay tuned …