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Education

Sunday Sundries … The Elevator’s Not Working, Use the Steps …

tumblr_lyv23dDgvu1ronyvyo1_500 tyleroakley

Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

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

we_were_here_full_size_wb

Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

I remember What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Religion Fiction … A Continuation …

robin_shoots_with_sir_guy_by_louis_rhead_1912Lifted From: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

Children brought up in a religious environment, according to a recent BBC story, are more prone to believe in fictional characters. The story, based on research from my alma mater, Boston University, suggests that if children are taught to believe miraculous stories at a young age, they will more likely believe that fictional figures are based in reality too.

Undoubtedly this will be seen as yet another brick in Montresor’s wall by those who can find no good in religion. The reasoning will go something like this: believing in no religion is the “neutral” position. If we raise children in a religious context, we are inclining them toward a fictional belief system and making them less likely to reason their way out of it. Therefore, we should raise children secular.

Even in the BBC story there are dissenting voices. Perhaps children who learn about Jesus find Thor a more compelling character. Perhaps they are open to possibilities that logic shuts out. Our brains have two hemispheres for a reason. I often wonder whether it is possible to be fully human while ignoring about half of what evolution gave us to work with.

Logic tells me that religious belief serves a survival function. And my creative side still appreciates the possibilities that my Manhattan brain is forced to shut down every day when I punch the clock. If there’s nothing more than work, perhaps believing in fiction serves a valuable function after all. But I suspect this is playing right into the rationalists’ hand. Pass me another brick, will you, Fortunato?

The jury, however, is still out on the nature of reality. Even for materialists. Gods of the gaps tend not to survive very well. The question is actually much larger than that. We don’t know the nature of ultimate reality. We’re not even sure what reality is yet.

Can a parent who believes in God, after the experience of growing to maturity in a heartless universe, be blamed for teaching their children the same? No humane parent raises their child purposefully teaching them falsehoods. Yes, some children are damaged by religious upbringings. Some are damaged by materialist upbringings as well.

What seems to have shifted, in my humble opinion, is the popular perceptions of religion. What used to be understood as the foundation of a civil society is now challenged as a harmful fantasy that encourages children to grow up into terrorists or non-functioning adults.

The belief that we can raise children with no biases, however, is clearly fiction. Until we have the full truth, there should be room for both Gilligan and the Professor on this island. But then again, I was raised to believe in the divine world, so what do I know?

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

I am a child of the 1970’s,80’s and beyond. Now in my late 40’s I can reflect on what I have learned so far, and be able to look back on what I learned early on. If you grew up in this period of time, then you will get all these references that I am about to write about.

I come from a Catholic background. And back in the day there was much family and prayer, saints and church. But aside from all of that there were many outings and adventures.

The first movies I remember were Old Yeller, Bambi, and the much anticipated Star Wars. We went to see the very first installment at Twin City Theatres in New Britain Ct. I’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.

And as I look back on 47 years of life. we can safely say that George Lucas gave the world something to believe in. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …

Star-Wars

CUE Music ….

I never thought about religion or God when viewing these movies. Fictional characters were larger than life. Luke, Leia, Obi Wan and of course Yoda. Then you had the dark side represented by Darth Vader. Those movies were stories for the ages.

Faith – Power – Good – Evil – The Light – and The Darkness – Family Etc …

I would not realize what that meant for a very long time. And cannot be seen unless in retrospect. From this side of the story and not the earlier. As the next two motion pictures came out, the story filled out and we got a few steps closer to the depth and gravity of the story.

I remember sitting in the Falls Theatre, I was a teen ager by now, watching Return of the Jedi and I had a spiritual experience watching Luke being tortured by the Sith Lord. And Darth coming to his rescue. I felt emotions that I could not name, however they were occurring at that time.

That whole series of movies were existential and spiritual for me. There are no two ways about it. They certainly made an impact in my life and the way I chose to live it after all these years.

The whole cosmic universe of Star Wars was a teaching in religion and faith from a distant galaxy. I know that now, having studied the worlds greatest religions in university and spent 47 years getting to know God myself.

Over the decades we played with toys, you know we all had them. We built legos and star fighters. We had the figurines. And we believed that those people were indeed real because George Lucas brought them to our collective consciousnesses. Amid all that was going on in the world, we could escape into the universe of Star Wars when ever we wanted to.

I know we have all seen the Star Wars Trilogy and the subsequent prequels several times over, I know I have. What was more important was that in the 70’s and 80’s we got to live on Tatooine, and live the life of Luke and his family, like they were our family.

We learned all the teachings of Yoda. And I am sure we can all quote word for word every sentence he spoke from every movie he was in. I know for myself that I still cling to those words and I have applied them to my life and I use them in the work that I do today with others.

Do or Do Not … There is No Try !!!

Yoda, you seek Yoda, Take you to him …

Yoda was a teacher, and I am positive that the world is a better place because of him and the other teachers of the stories. Escapism, either good or bad, can lead to spiritual awakening or another. And I believe that my horizons were broadened in the experience of these stories.

God or the universe, what ever you called it then, existed. I believe that those movies fueled the hearts and minds of millions over the decades. I think it was a bit special to be of the generation to have experienced Star Wars in Theatre as they were released.

Today’s generation, only get them on dvd. They did not get to see the movies on Big Screens. When they did the digital reload of the films, I got to see them on DVD, I own the collection today.

I don’t know if the impact of these films were or are as great as when they were first released. Times were different. We did not have the internet or social media, and today’s kids are too engrossed with technology to sit for a long period of time and concentrate on anything that isn’t connected to Twitter, Facebook or a Cell Phone.

I know that my love of music, from the 70’s onwards was part of my lexicon. The movies were as well. And when finally cable tv came to Florida when I was a teen ager, we got to see much more film and programming.

Things were much simpler in those days. We had each other. We had family, we had friends, whom we shared our greatest treasures with. Music, Film and TV.

In the last fifteen years, Peter Jackson gave us the Hobbit and all those stories. I read them in school, and I have the books in my library, but I did not take to them like I took to Star Wars and other stories.

We had the Tween movies of late.

dhonesheet

And then there is Harry Potter.

Harry Potter. Do you dig him like I do?

I fell into Harry Potter because of my therapist who’s office was decorated in Harry Potter Sheik. When we were talking I gravitated towards him, because I felt like an orphan and I was alone in my life and I really needed certain direction.

When I learned that Harry and I shared a birthday in common, I was hooked. It is also J.K. Rowling’s Birthday as well. I have every book and related story that was published. All the monster books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and of course all of the books, and every dvd that was produced.

I remember the day the first Harry Potter movie came out, I was living on South Beach and I bought two tickets and I had to watch the first one by myself, however hard a good friend tried to go with me, I insisted we take in the second showing together.

I think I had the first three books by the time I moved here to Montreal in 2002. And Montreal does books very well. Each subsequent release was an event to partake. The book stores were decorated, the employees dressed up and there were hundreds of people who would come to partake and be sorted into houses and then wait for hours until the midnight release time to get your next book.

Harry Potter is another Story for the Ages. No matter where you live, or who you are, unless of course you derided magic and everything to do with Harry, you got hooked, at least I did.

I got to grow up all over again.

I even have my own wand that my therapist gave me when I moved here. Harry Potter fandom is not isolated. The world was taken by him and the story.

I loved reading. And if you search Harry on my blog here you will find hundreds of entries about him. When each book came out I would sit a read through the entire book in one fell swoop. I did that for all of the books.

And to this day, I have several Harry Potter books along side my bed at arms reach so that I can read certain chapters over and over again. I loved Harry, but silently I always rooted for Ron Weasley. The stalwart sidekick who always got second billing.

Hogwarts was a place we could all believe in.

The battle for Good over Evil.

The importance of Family and of Memory.

The value of Friendship and Honor.

The incalculable potency of certain magic.

If you’ve read the Deathly Hallows, then you understand these things.

Like Star Wars, for the older set of folks who are reading, Harry Potter was of this age, something to cling to, to honor, to love and to cherish. We all know what house we belong to.

I am a Gryffindor… I was sorted a long time ago.

And I think we all strive to be a little like our counterparts from the stories. And I think we carry a little of each character/person into our daily lives.

So what does God have to do with any of this?

Do you believe in God? Did you believe in the Star Wars Universe? Were you a Trekkie? Are you a Potter Head? Do you have a favorite story or set of books you would carry with you to your grave and believe strongly in the story, its characters and the words on the page?

Does your faith in God battle with the Gods and Characters of Fiction?

I say that if you have a solid faith in God, or in the faith you practice, then none of this should shake that foundation. That has been the battle for the last ten years for some, people get all in arms over religion and faith, that any little chink in the chain rattles them to high heaven. God forbid …

Can you find or did you find room in your religious/spiritual lexicon to include all those favorite characters you have read in your lifetime as a belief system?

And does the fictional world augment or detract from your religious/spiritual life?

Can both exist in the same space/mind? And if it can how has it impacted the life you live and the way you work with and or relate to others?

I just thought that this was an interesting post, originally found on his blog. I said as much, in fewer words there the other night.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you like it, give it a thumbs up.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … It’s Happening Right in Front of You !!!

tumblr_mpn14j3Iqv1qd1vj6o1_400 hauntedboyCourtesy: Haunted Boy

It is Sunday …. My favorite day of the week… Well, second favorite behind Friday Nights.

Another weekend in the books. Not a whole lot going on. Mother Nature has heaped shitty weather upon us for the last week, and tonight I listened to many grumble about the weather. There is a marked change in the weather as of late.

I think the seasons are beginning to turn ever so slowly.

Fall does not begin for some time, but that never stopped mother nature from dropping pissy weather on us for days at a time.

All the pieces came together tonight. The entire team of players was present, which makes a meeting all the more polished. And we sat a fair number. And we both read/and/discussed the entire circle with a short overage.

Tonight’s story – Twice Gifted.

When you get sober, at some point in your sober journey, you may hear another human being tell your story, sometimes exactly. It may take some time, but the odds are good that there is someone out there who has lived your story in their lives.

Then there is the second option. That eventually you will open the book and read a story and come to find that the writer of said story lived your life and has written it down for your benefit, and to the benefit of others.

For myself, I am mentioned twice in the book. Once as an alcoholic tornado running roughshod through the life of someone else. And that episode cost me a very good friend and ended a wonderful relationship.

The second time was in the above mentioned story. It so happened tonight that when the reading got to me, I started my paragraph and quickly noticed that it was word for word, my life in print. Kind of eery if you ask me. 

The writer does not stop at drinking young, she gets to the point that her drinking has caused her to suffer cirrhosis of the liver, and required a liver transplant, which she indeed gets, which leads to sobriety.

How many alcoholics suffer illness of one form or another stemming from their abuse of alcohol?

Many …

And how many alcoholics ended up with life threatening illnesses directly related to the abuse of alcoholism?

Many …

I listened to the rest of the story that was read tonight and a thought came to mind.

When I was a child, my grandfather was a drunk. And suffered cirrhosis of the liver, he also had a stroke and those combined took him to his death when I was a teenager. There was no love lost there.

My father was also an alcoholic, but not to that extent. He skated by, and how he skated by I do not know, because he was a top notch drinker, along with my mother.

And I mused tonight … I read the book each week. And the more I read, I came to the realization during tonight’s read that as a young boy, the Big Book was open and was happening all around me, in living color, for me to see and experience. Alcoholism was rampant. Nobody said anything about it, perish the thought. I watched the consequences happen for people who drank too much, several times over.

Nobody knew from recovery or quitting the drinking.

And You think I would have learned something, as in (Don’t do this too!!!)

Nope, Nada, Nothing.

I can’t tell you when or why I contracted AIDS. I was involved with someone (read:James) who had it, but I did not learn this fact until after he killed himself. I do remember on several occasions coming to the end, being in the wrong place, doing things I should not have been doing with people, I was drinking around the clock.

Back in the day you could drink 23 hours a day, and on several occasions, I took the city up on that offer. I could drink happy hour away, drink through the night, drink after hours till the bars closed, then take an hours break, and start all over again the next morning. I was young and back then I was still pretty, until I got tainted. Alcohol facilitated many episodes between other alcoholics, which may be construed as quite possibly, unsafe, sexually …

Peeling back the onion the longer I am sober, takes me back to places I haven’t thought about in more than twenty years. But that’s what the stories are there for, to remind you of how insane your drinking was ( read: in your case-based on your history).

When life is fueled by alcohol, and everyone you knew, drank, and every day of your life revolves around the drink, you don’t think about stopping, nor do you think about anyone else who is not directly involved with imbibing. And that was the story of my twenties, until I was diagnosed in 1994, then everything changed.

Life had finally caught up with me and I was slapped with a severe dose of reality.

Death was the end, that’s how it was supposed to end.

God had other plans for me.

Once you get sober, the beginning is the outside job. You get cleaned up. You might even get new clothes. You wash and get to your first meeting. The longer you stay sober, and you begin to peel the onion, the job moves inside. And for the rest of your days, you will be peeling back the onion, the job is never over, and never ends, (unless of course you drink again).

It was a great night. Lots of good people, coming together to be together, and everyone is eternally grateful for having a place to go …

More to come, I still have a post to finish.


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

tumblr_ljxktkG7IG1qdizh9o1_500 lovepainandhopeCourtesy: Love Pain And Hope

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

Up front we must remember that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is terrible and sad.

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

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

I have several truths.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we suffer in silence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it did. AGAIN.

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

Suicide is Never an option.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We spoke of gratitude tonight.

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday Sundries … Super Moon Sunday … and Things Like That

tumblr_n5wtzkmAyw1sh33qco1_500 blamboyzCourtesy: Blam

What? Were you hoping for a picture of the moon? It is making its way around the building as we speak. As the moon progresses on its arc across the sky, starting lower in the sky, it tracks around us and sets early. Now we are at Full Moon, and it is high in the sky and tracks in a tight arc from East to West. It circles around us and comes around the building, so it seems, after 9 p.m. till moon set.

I set out early this evening, my coffee gal was called in for the night shift so I was alone. I arrived and cranked out set up, ( have toons will work quickly). One of my friends came to help, but by the time she got there, I was already finished. I spoke to Baby Mama in New Foundland for a bit, I try to call her as often as I can. We have had a spate of babies come to the rooms in the last two months. Everett and Charlie were born not long ago, added to Luisa Grace 3 months ago this week.

We sat a humble crowd. Not as large as next week, and I had hoped for high numbers returning just to hear the end of the story we were in last week. We backtracked a bit for continuity and finished the read.

Even in the worst case scenarios, our writers eventually find the solution.

The miracle is how they got the message and from Whom?

Our writer ended up drunk, in a laundromat, not knowing which washers were hers, and who’s clothes were who’s. So she decided to remain there until everyone was gone, and decided to take whatever clothes were left in the end. Meanwhile an energetic woman doing her laundry took notice of our woman, who was in bad shape, our woman comments about how energetic she is and how she could be so fastidious.

The woman handed our gal a note with one sentence … “If you want to quit drinking, call A.A. 24 hours a day.” Our gal pocketed the note in her jeans and continued with the insanity until one day she could not go on any longer, after weeks and weeks, the note remained in the pocket of her now discarded jeans on her bedroom floor.

She got the number and called. And from the point on her life was never the same.

In the end she was connected to sober native women and men who took her in and helped keep her sober.

There is a terrible curse on our Native populations here. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction.

Not many make it. And so many are stuck in the throws of addiction.

Native and Inuit people come from where they live, the reservation or from up North. The park, right downstairs from home here, is a local watering hole, respite space, adjacent to the children’s hospital. They come to the big city and they hit the grocery store or even worse, the liquor store right downstairs. And they are off and running.

I have watched for over a decade people loosing what little dignity they have in the bottom of a bottle. In most cases, folks who leave the reservation and come here, either (1) get stuck here drunk and or high or (2) never return to their people due to shame and addiction. Once you leave your home and go somewhere else, the chance of proper return is slim.

A very good friend of mine was hired some months ago to work on a reintegration team, working with the Inuit and Native folks, and also with our homeless population in the downtown core to find them, name them, get them the help they need and repatriate them back to where they need to go. And that is such a daunting task.

When they come to us, we do our best to help everyone regardless of where they come from or who they are. Recovery is an equal opportunity event. Everyone who comes in the door gets at least a running start.

We all spoke about the angels who helped get us sober, people who carried the message to us in order that we might get it too. Everyone has a story.

Like our gal in this story, who was a binge drinker at the end, the not knowing what happened the night before was exactly my story. That happened to me several weeks running, until I had had enough and took my last drink.

I prayed for an alcoholic to come to me.

And He did.

The young man who found me where I was, spoke softly each day… “I did not drink today.”

I eventually let my guard down and told him I needed help, and in turn he got me to my first meeting this time around.

I was blessed because I met all the right people, who tended to my needs and my spirit.

I remember, when I first moved here, my sponsor was a young guy I really liked, in more ways than one. Over that period of time we shared a great deal of time together and we were very close. One night, he brought me to the mountain. It was midnight, and he decided that we would climb the mountain, in the dark, instead of using the paths that there were.

That was a great night. I got to climb the mountain and sit atop in the middle of the night sober.

It isn’t the Rockies or Alberta or Calgary or B.C. But there is a mountain in the middle of the city. Looking at it from the farthest point out, the city seems to be terraced up the side of the mountain and around it. If you get up to lookout point, and look West, over the side when the sun sets, it is quite a view from the top across the West side of Montreal into Laval.

We are very grateful people. To have what we have, and also to have someplace to go where other people care about our lives like no other.

There is no place I would rather live.

More to come, stay tuned …


Hot Flash … “Desire” versus “Thought” … And Things Like That

tumblr_lh6xeiqS8U1qz72e6o1_500 poyi.orgCourtesy: Poyi.Org

Last week ended with the final discussions in the second interview for a new job for hubby. And over the weekend, we hoped that everything would work out. To that end, I’ve been reticent in getting over “elated” or “counting my chickens before they are hatched.”

We got word early this week that hubby did get that job. It pays very well. And it looks as if we will finally dig ourselves out of the hole we have been in for so long. We have been playing with virtual money as of late. There are things that we would like to do, on top of paying bills and taking care of household responsibilities.

Monday night “Max, my computer” went to bed as usual. I shut him off as I usually do and went to bed. Tuesday morning when I got up, I turned Max on, and he had a Hot Flash and died.

Computers have a mind of their own, and tend to crap out at the worst time, Thankfully there was money in the bank for just an emergency. Hubby bundled Max off to Micro-Bytes and they figured out that Max had a Hot Flash, who knew computers had hot flashes …

For as long as I remember, Max ran hot and loud. You could hear him whine in the hallway outside the apartment. Max’s heat synch needed to be replaced, and a new fan for the motherboard was added. After a good cleaning out he fired right up. We got him back on Wednesday morning. He runs almost silently.

It is good we have a laptop and that I have a second user account there, which has all my bookmarks and sites in the memory, so transiting between two machines was painless.

The weather has been nice the past few days. We got spits of rain here and there and not for very long. And the weekend is looking up.

Tuesday night we sat a small group, and my sponsor was in the chair and he opted for the default topic for any meeting, meaning … If you can’t think of a topic, the auto default is always gratitude. UGH !!! Gratitude again ??? Some of my friends do gratitude lists and write every day, I just can’t be bothered with a gratitude list. Tells you where I am for the most part.

Tonight I was ready to go early and I could not sit still, so I took off early and did some shopping on the way out. I needed a new Opus Card for the metro since my old card is expired. I’ve been using hubby’s card for months now, and he needs his card for work now so I needed a new card. And they would not sell me “just the card,” I had to charge it with something additionally.

I shop for several groups, Sunday Niters, Thursday Men’s, and Tuesday Vendome. Coffee, stirrers, sugar, tea … All those kind of things. It costs some good money to feed and fill the coffee and tea hordes of people every week. And I’ve been borrowing from each other when one runs short. Now I have to refill the coffers.

We sat a good number tonight. New faces and New members which is great. The chair, for the second week in the chair read from Living Sober, “Avoiding Over elation.”

There are happy times and then there are unhappy times, and alcoholics usually never needed a reason to drink, we just drank … And the reading continues …

“The thought of a drink is not necessarily that same thing as the desire for one, and neither need plunge us into gloom or fear.”

It is rare to find someone who “got it” on the first pass. And there are many who have made several attempts at “getting it.” And finally, there are those of us, who after periods of sobriety, went back out and had to come back in.

We drank because the alcohol worked for us for a time, then it failed. We drank because it was what we did, not for any reason but to enhance a good mood or bring a bad one up to par. And we heard tonight that “it is the first one that changes everything.” It isn’t the second, or fifth, or the tenth, but the First One.

I along with many of my peers stated matter of factly, that we may have another drink in us, but not many of us may have another recovery in us. Like a cat’s nine lives, many of us have used up all of our chits …

When I got sober the very first time, twenty years ago this month, had I stuck and stayed I would have celebrated twenty years of sobriety this August. At the time I was working in a bar. And I have said before, that job was the best job I ever had in my life. When I put down the drink, I did not pick up again. I had far worse things pressing in on me and a drink would not have solved those problems. I don’t ever remember, maybe one night, that I desired a drink. My sponsor came in handy that night.

When I chose to make that move in sobriety, with no back up, I found myself with another person handing me a joint and a beer, which I smoked and then I drank. It wasn’t like I was desiring either of them, I never thought about it really. They appeared and I was defenseless.

I pick up and I was off and running until oblivion …

In the end, I drank because I thought I needed to. It was delusional drinking. What I desired was inclusion. And the alcohol was going to get me there, until it failed me ultimately. That last year, I had imposed stretches of sobriety, when I did not desire a drink, nor did I really think about it. And that’s why it took another year to get back here.

I put the drink down and I walked away from it. I never set foot in another club after that.

Wow … That was weird … The power went out and everything went dead. And I just figured out where this post went to try and recover it and not have to start all over again…

Thank you Word Press … You saved it again …

The second time I got sober, when I got here, I not only quit drinking, but I quit smoking as well. And both are formidable attempts. On St. Jean Baptiste Day, June 24th, 2002, I was at the Old Port and there were hordes of people double fisting beer and alcohol.

In that moment I really wanted a drink and I wanted a cigarette. I was craving both.

At the wrong place at the wrong time, I needed to get my ass out of there.

My sponsor had told me that if it came down to a choice between a smoke and a drink, that the better choice was a smoke. I did not drink.

I never Craved a drink again.

But “Thinking about a drink” is something that happens, to everyone. Maybe not so often, but it does happen. I know what to do when that happens. I stay out of sticky places.

They say that when you get sober, everything changes. Things start to get good. And that is the time we need to be wary. Left to our own devices, a drink in a good moment might sound good but in the end, won’t taste every well, if you blow sober time on a fancied drink.

I stay connected. I do service. And I take it one day at a time.

Live – Easy – But – Think – First …

Desire is not the same thing as thought …

More to come, stay tuned … 


Sunday Sundries … Listening to the Wind … Messages … Seeds

coffee cupThe weather held for the weekend’s festivities. The summer concert series is in full swing. There was and will be lots of music to come over the next couple of weeks. Osheaga was this weekend, and Coming up will be Thirty Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto and friends) with guests Linkin Park. That was a ticket i would want to buy, but coming in close to $100.00 is a little steep. I, however have all the latest music on my phone already. I’m not sure I want to find myself in a mosh pit with screaming teen-agers.

I guess I fared well with all that’s going on in my head and heart. You can’t make someone love you and you sure as shit cannot change someone who is stuck in hate and ignorance. However broken hearted I am about the situation, I must remember that I am powerless over people, places and things. I did however send another message through last night when I got home from dinner, the channel is still open and I haven’t been blocked “Yet.”

We had dinner with my sister in law while she waited on her kids to attend the concert last night they got home close to midnight, and mom left for Ottawa this afternoon and another set of parents are here to chaperone them another night and to La Rhonde tomorrow then they will all return to Ottawa Monday night.

It was another festive Sunday afternoon. The weather has been glorious and we will take it while it lasts. I cranked out set up and sat outside on the stoop to await my peeps. And we sat a full room. I had imagined that we would get through the entire story (read wise) and have a full discussion, But we read the entire circle (Listening to the Wind) and I stopped the read a few pages short, it was quite a long story with lots of insanity, and that’s where I left it tonight, next week we will get the resolution and the solution of the story.

Folks were like “damned … I really wanted to get to the end …”

Keep em coming back for more is my take on it.

Which leaves us only a few pages of reading next week, because we usually only stick to one story at a time, since we are in the “total insanity” chapter of the stories in the back of the book.

In the fourth edition, several stories were removed from older editions, several new stories were inserted, and a few were renamed from older editions, and there are several topical sections that set apart sets of stories as they were published.

Insanity was the one thing I took away from this read.

When I left home, all that I knew how to do was drink. Who knew from responsibility. We were young and pretty back then. And I lived in an apartment complex heavily populated with Disney employees. You either were one, or you knew someone who was.

It seemed that what ruled the day was the amount of alcohol one could consume on any given night, and between the gay bars, Southern Nights and the Parliament House, and the Disney bars located at Downtown Disney, we had all of our bases covered. You could drink very cheaply no matter what night it was. And who you were friends with usually dictated the alcohol and drug consumption. I was not interested in drugs early on, alcohol was much cheaper and it was legal.

From beginning to end, several times, I was the alcoholic running riot through people’s lives. And reading from the back of the book, in several stories, you could insert me into a story because at some point I was the writer.

For whatever reason, I graduated from staying in one place and attempting to live responsibly, which at one point I could not, and many room mates later, and several failed relationships, most ending in horrible ways, I began the geographical moves. I followed the boys from town to town.

I moved from Miami to Orlando to be gay and come our at the Parliament House. I failed at relationships so I moved on to Daytona Beach and Up and down the coast for a period of time.

I was always on the loosing end, meaning that I had lost everything several times. I had a couple of neat room mates. But that only lasted so long. There had to be alcohol and there also had to be good sex. Because if you were young and pretty, the world was your oyster.

In my twenties I remained slender and cute for a while. I eventually ended back in Miami for the grand crash and burn. And from that jackpot I rented from a friend, and ruined that relationship over alcohol.

When I lived in Orlando I dated a young man who I was very much in love with, but he was a seasonal Disney employee. And while the getting was good, we dated. And every day after work, we would talk and it would either be “Bottle or Blender?”

You were either going to bring a bottle or you would bring the blender.

We would get tanked, watch Mary Poppins drunk and then the night would take off. That was during the best of times. Eventually I transited into the worst of times. i really did not know why i was having such problems. Because nobody ever mentioned alcoholism to any of us, not that any of us would have responded well to an inquiry like that.

Nobody said STOP.

Nobody ever intimated that any of us had a problem with our drinking.

Imagine what life would have looked like had I gotten sober in my twenties.

The rest they say is history. I am learning so much this time around. Every day it is something new. I read, I talk to friends, I study the book, and I look at the past with new eyes. I almost feel sorry for that young man that I was. I had some friends, but no one substantial to stop me when I should have been stopped. I “wung it” for a long time.

Eventually someone did step in and tell me to Stop.

I had no choice then. Death was the only alternative. And I did not want to die.

I am committed to my sober journey and the sober journey’s of the men i work with. We are all planting seeds in our own ways. We all have something to give, depending on what we have in our virtual banks of sobriety. But the book does say that …”Obviously you cannot give something that you don’t have …”

Which is why we keep coming back for more.

I am ok tonight. Tomorrow we move on.

More to come, stay tuned …


It’s My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …


July 8 2014 retrospective from July 8 1994

world-aids-day

Here is the story of that week from my journal.If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day.Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft.Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft.Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building.The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft.Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.

Friday July 8th 1994

the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.

I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.

I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.

“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.

Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “

“You are going to die.”

The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.

I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.

He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.

So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.

I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)

I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!

I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.

That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…

I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.

That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.

I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.

Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier.They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.

Todd eventually returned to Ft.Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.

Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft.Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)

I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.

I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.

One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.

I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.

Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.

Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.

Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!

The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.

Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.

In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.

For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.

All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.

So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.

We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.

A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.

From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.


We Are Star Stuff …

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“Millions of years ago, the universe was filled with light elements. Those light elements came together to cook and form stars. And those stars grew into heavier elements, and in time went supernova. And those new heavier elements scattered across space, and ended up in our solar system and became planets. Our planet is made of star stuff, and out of the planet we came to be, therefore we are star stuff.”

How immense a thought is that … We are star stuff … profound !!!

 

The week is coming to an end. And the weather has changed. It is not so humid as it has been. It was a great night for shirtsleeves. There were a multitude of people out and about tonight. It is the final weekend of the Jazz Festival. All along the Metro stations, the platforms were full, and so were the trains, out and back.

People are eating up this wonderful weather. For as long as it lasts, we will take it, because we know, eventually, the weather will change as the seasons change.

I headed out early. In fact, a bunch of people headed out early, it was a group effort setting up tonight. We sat a good crowd, that was a good sign.

The reading … Brain Power Alone.

To the intellectually self-sufficient man or woman, many A.A.’s can say, “Yes, we were like you – far too smart for our own good. We loved to have people call us precocious. We used our education to blow ourselves up into prideful balloons, though we were careful to hide this from others. Secretly, we felt we could float above the rest of the folks on our brain power alone.

Scientific progress told us there was nothing man couldn’t do. Knowledge was all powerful. Intellect could conquer nature. Since we were brighter than most folks (so we thought), the spoils of victory would be ours for the thinking. The god of intellect displaced the God of our fathers.

But John Barleycorn had other ideas. We who had won so handsomely in a walk turned into all time losers. We saw that we had to reconsider or die.

Listening to all the folks share on this reading brought a multitude of remarks. The most profound was the thought at the top of this post. “We are star stuff.”

If you think you know everything and have all the answers, pondering how the universe came to be in all its profundity, is humbling.

Because what do we really know ? Very little.

And even the best minds of science admit that, even they, don’t know everything, and don’t have all the answers. Some of the stupidest things I have ever heard have come out of the mouths of so called “educated and intellectual people.”

I may not be the brightest crayon in the box. And I know I am not the most intellectually smartest man. I only got so far in my university education, until the point when my intellect could not rise to the occasion.

I learned that I was limited intellectually.

And I know that because of this story.

Growing up I learned many things.

By the time I graduated High School, I was an active alcoholic. And I barely survived. I told a truth, versus cheating, and the one class I needed to pass (math) I was the only one who did not have a copy of the final cheat sheet. So on the last page of my exam I wrote to my teacher that “I was the only one who did not cheat on this exam.” I passed and graduated.

Coming from an alcoholic home, I had little control. I was abused. My father had it out for me. And the only control I had was being able to shut and lock my bedroom door. That was my only safe zone. Until at least my father realized what that meant for me. Because then he took the door off the hinges and put the door in the garage.

Talk about Fucked up …

When I left home, woefully unprepared, I did not do much thinking. I did do a lot of drinking. I did not get much training in thinking while living at home.

I got a stab at learning how to think in dealing with my own mortality. I learned a great deal of things. But it wasn’t until I failed and fell that I admitted I was licked and that it truly was time to grow up, and that took some thought.

At a year sober, I was 35 years old. I returned to university and I worked on a degree in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. It was a success. I spent the better part of seven years getting sober while in school.

Being an older student in a university filled with teeny boppers, and self centered girls who needed to be the center of attention ALL THE TIME, I had few friends. When I graduated the second time, the Theology department BENT OVER backwards to court me to join their department for an M.A.

When classes began the next fall, all of my fellows crossed the bridge into greatness, and EGO and self centeredness.

I did not get that memo…

I knew on the first day of class that I had not risen to the intellectual heights that my fellows had risen to. I was not one of them. Over time, I realized that although I thought I knew my friends, I really didn’t. And they sure as shit did not include me in their bestie club.

I had become intellectually stunted.

There is that all powerful rule in an M.A. program that “2 C’s and you’re out!”

As fast as I was courted into the program, they, (read: the administration) turned their backs on me in an instant. I went from celebrated student to persona non grata overnight.

That was a kick in the rubber parts for sure. And it was a bitter lesson and for a long time a bitter pill to swallow.

But I did not drink over it. I must have missed the memo on building my ego, or becoming better than others, and knowing all things. Because my friends, who became my fellows became Prideful Blown Up Balloons.

And reading this reading tonight, I knew and felt exactly what that meant.

I used to say that in the end, I knew who God is and who God is not. That became my tag line for a long time. But being sober this long, I am not so sure any more.

I don’t have all the answers, and I would not presume to say that I do.

And knowing who God is … is presumption.

And who am I to presume that knowledge. When every day God reveals himself to me in ways I did not or do not expect.

I see God in my friends.

They are kind, thoughtful, insightful and wise.

They are humble, they aren’t arrogant or prideful.

They are far from Prideful Balloons.

We try, on a daily basis to stay “Right Sized.”

I think that borne down to simplicity, tonight’s reading is a warning and a reminder that we need to be “right sized” to be who we are. Because if we become puffed up popinjay’s we will not be who we are or who we are meant to be.

I don’t need intellectual friends. Because NONE of those people are part of my life today. I need sober, right sized friends. And a sponsor who talks kindly and kicks my ass when necessary. And I got it in spades…

More to come, stay tuned …


Turn Your World Upside Down

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Courtesy: free minded

So it rained today. God is up there taking the piss. And rained on the big party today. At least the community got a good day yesterday to do what they do.

With everything closed today, it was a hunt to grocery shop and find a restaurant that was open, ala Subway. I’ve been craving a burger and wanted one and woke up wanting one, and the burger joint across the street was CLOSED !!!

I didn’t feel like walking all the way to the mall for some Micky D’s so I settled for Subway, it is right up the street and convenient. Laundry will have to wait until tomorrow. And that is fine because it is an off day.

I headed out for my transit and that went well. I got to my connection and the buses were all sitting in the bay with drivers doing this and that. I could’ve skipped the transfer and walked, but I was like, it’s raining, and probably folks would be slow on the arrival. As WAS the case.

We had a small showing. We have a smattering of newbies, a few with time, then those of us with decades or more.

The chair read from a Grapevine and the reading was on “The Serenity Prayer.”

The topic went all over, and folks were talking all over each other. And I sat there for a while pondering prayer, and nothing was coming to mind.

I was totally blank.

I mean On my way back I prayed. When I came in, I heard the prayers and participated in the meetings, but it wasn’t like I was PRAYING overtly.

Those first few months when it came to meetings, I mean, I went, I was there, I hit massive amounts of meetings, but it was all a blur.

When I got here, I hung out, got connected. Found a sponsor. And I worked my steps that first year in. So I did the prayers from the book with my sponsor, and that was that. I had my issues coming in that had to be abandoned. And I learned a few things.

I went back to school. I studied Religion and Pastoral Ministry and Theology. So all that time, it was all about God in His many forms. I call that religious education. At the same time I was going to meetings, year in and year out.

I did what we all did. I would not say that I was paying lip service to my prayers, I mean I was praying, but I guess not hard enough. I got through and life panned out. I did whatever I was told to do, by people I trusted and respected.

But it all came to a head at the Roundup of 2013.

One of the speakers got up there and hammered the message home that “if you have lots of time, you should be able to rattle off the prayers from the book” right then and there. And like I have said before, we here in Montreal, where sobriety is concerned, we say ” Aw, we’ll do it tomorrow!” Nobody in the room could rattle off the prayers rote.

Then it hit me.

If I want what these guys are talking about and the lives that they are speaking about, I really need to step up my game. And that game began with prayer. Ardent, on your knees, pound the book, PRAYER !!!

Three, Seven and Eleven, morning, noon and night.

And so that is what I did, for months on top of months. I prayed as if my ass was on the line, and I meant it. And then I waited for the payoff.

I changed up my meetings. I spent lots of time with guys I really care about and meetings with people I love, and I did that for months on top of months.

Then a new sponsor came into my life. And we started my steps, of which I am amid today. I met a young man, whom I sponsor today. Then one night my second guy walked into my life and I took him on as well. And they are working their steps today. And just a little while ago, after a meeting a third guy wanted to connect, so three’s a charm.

The girls work New York Sobriety. And I wanted New York Sobriety. And I was going to find it no matter what I had to do to get it. Our girls here won’t sponsor guys, but they do in New York, So I had to wait for one to come to me.

I got to go to Vermont in May for a Men’s Intensive Weekend. And that was a watershed event in my life. I hit the 2014 Roundup a couple of weeks later, and that was mediocre at best. And that was the general consensus.

When I ponder prayer, over the long haul, I did it in the beginning. And it went as it went. I stayed sober. I used the Serenity Prayer all along. I’ve posted it, I spoke about it, I’ve shared about it.

It is a pervasive prayer that is said all over the place. In many forms. Long and short. Meeting after meeting. And you work your steps and as they pop up you say them when needed and then you let them go.

But I’ve learned that sober prayers, if said correctly, from the heart in the right direction can change your life, in ways you can’t imagine.

Until you DO IT.

Our young people, (read: newbies) come and they sit, yet they tell us that they don’t understand the steps or how to do them. I don’t throw Big Books at newbies. I’d rather they come for a while and sink into their chairs and get comfy in them.

It has to happen organically. You can’t force someone into a book. It just does not work very well that way. And I said as much tonight to them.

It has been a journey. And at different times, different things pop up onto the radar that we get to work on, and Prayer was the last real lesson that came in the past year that I worked on for an entire year. And that has helped me and my guys immensely.

I know who God is and I know who God is not.

Education does that for you. So it wasn’t a wasted opportunity.

Can you recite Three, Seven and Eleven from Memory?

If you can’t then maybe it is time for you to practice.

Time to eat. More to come, stay tuned …


Better than Gold

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Courtesy: Hike Now Nyiragongo Volcano

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

A.B.S.I. #57

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Acceptance … Do Right !!!

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Courtesy:Rockthesox

The weekend is coming to a close. And it was a stellar day today. God has been shining love and sunshine on us. The streets and highways are all torn up due to construction, and streets are closed due to the Tour D’lisle today.

Our folks are getting to practice Patience and Serenity in spades.

It was a great weekend.

Oprah’s Masterclass is on. Earlier was an encore presentation of Maya Angelou, and now Whoopi is sharing. It was important to listen to Maya again to remind me of how I am supposed to live(rightly), to know who I am, (a Child of God) and how to treat others, (when you know right, Do right).

It was a regular Sunday afternoon. The top of the month brought new faces to the rotation, and at the end of the meeting brought new folks who want to join. We are carrying the message and attracting folks from far and wide.

One of our founding members has left us for a new home in New Brunswick. So we are in hand off mode. New people in responsible positions to take care of the group and its expenses.

We read from the Big Book tonight, and the most (well one of the most) important chapters in the book. “Acceptance was the Answer.” We sat a huge group and we had decided to read half way and open the room to discussion. That was a good decision. We went the whole period and went over a bit in order to give everyone a chance to share.

The really Good Stuff comes in the second part of the reading … Pages 416-417.

“Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems and Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

These two sentences bring about all kinds of thinking, more thinking and denial and discussion, and finally, in time, Acceptance.

Most folks cannot square their pasts with Nothing happens in God’s  world by mistake. As in God had a plan, and we were merely actors in the grand scheme of things. But this share has to wait until next week.

Today we heard the insanity portion of the read. A doctor and his inability to “get it.” Only a good doctor knows how to prescribe all the right pills for what ailed him. And the insanity of having to manage the right mix of alcohol, pills, uppers and downers – what a nightmare.

Finally, in his story he comes to sobriety, after traveling a very circuitous route. And he says at one point … “I sat down with me” in all his insanity and someone shared on this saying that her sponsor says to this portion that that is “an Idiot speaking to an asshole.”

I know when I came back, I couldn’t sit with me very well. I needed someone to sit with me until the guilt and shame left me and I had to eventually dig myself out of self pity, my friends all stayed with me.

There are some things that in hindsight become important for people in early sobriety. And I did not see these things as important until a couple of years ago.

Yes, the Big Book has its method. It is written in a specific order, and the steps come in an order as well. And that’s the way we are supposed to read it. The stories in the back of the book are just gravy on a plate of meat and potatoes.

But working with others bring challenges. I want my guys to learn about themselves AS they work their steps and hit meetings.

We speak once a day.
We hit meetings together.
They work their steps.

At night they write 10th steps. Even though they are not there yet. They write in the beginning, from the beginning, so that they get used to writing. And each day we have something to talk about. And that is kindling for our weekly discussions that take place once a week.

Also, There are chapters in the back of the book that folks should be made aware of because, it is only my opinion, but there are crucial lessons in the back of the book that we need to hear from the beginning, because in the long run, knowing certain truths and axioms, pay off in spades when they get further into their steps.

And we (at the Sunday meeting) are working our way through the back of the book as we speak, and my guys are on Steps 4 and 2 respectively.

I want my guys to come away from The Work feeling accomplished and that their lives are changed by the process of The Work.

It was a good night. People came by the droves. Everybody had a great time.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


The Easier Softer Way …

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

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

The shares went around the room. And I listened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One day at a time.

I am very grateful for my guys and my friends.

More to come, Stay tuned …


“The Work …” Courtesy of The Atlantic Group NYC

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Courtesy: Tyler Oakley

O.M.G. I am SPENT !!! Spent I tell you…

This weekend Dorval hosted the 40th Annual West Island Roundup. And our guests came from New York City, and the Gigantic – Atlantic Group of New York City.

They have meetings SEVEN nights a week, and the most anticipated meeting of the week brings out 600, yes that’s SIX HUNDRED people for a meeting.

Imagine a meeting that size here. I don’t think there is a hall open in our city that would hold that many people. HUGE !!!

The theme of the speakers was “The Work.”

You have to Do the Work. In order to be happy, joyous and free, you need to do “the work.” It was a similar message from all our speakers.

Last night, Saturday, we heard from the Founder of the Atlantic Group.

Today we heard from similar group members.

This morning our first speaker right out of the gate got up there and knocked it out of the park. Once that meeting was finished, the copies of his talk went up in smoke. They could not keep up with demand. And by the end of the day they took payment, addresses and told us that they would send us the talk, for those of us who bought ALL of the talks for the weekend.

Our guy got up there and extolled the virtues of “the work” and how it changed his life, from the life he was stuck in, using, abusing and hurting the ones who loved him, not to mention himself. That group is known for its bent on unapologetic Big Book Thumping.

The message here: Don’t waste your time with folks who don’t want it, because there is always someone in the wings waiting for you to work with them.

The odds of success are slim from the start. The percentages are not good. 1%

That only should embolden you to get up from your seat, get a book, and find someone to walk you through it.

Later on this morning we heard from an Al-Anon speaker.

And then they served everyone lunch from Scores restaurant. The place was packed for today’s events.

After lunch we got a One Two Punch by a couple who met in the Atlantic Group and later got married. We got to hear how a long sober couple works together in love and how they work with others.

Us alcoholics suffer from a hopeless malady of the body, mind and spirit.

And the way out of that misery and malady is through the solution that is laid out in the first 164 pages of the Big Book.

I spent the entire weekend with my friends. The people I love the most. The people who give to my life those things that nobody else can give me.

And a year to the date, exactly, I got to share this weekend with my guys. We listened, we chatted, we broke bread, and we discussed.

It is my hope that this weekend made some kind of impression on them that they can take into their lives and their respective sobrieties.

A year ago, I attended my first round up and it turned my world upside down. And I started doing “the work,” truthfully, I had a sponsor that was a hands off kind of sponsor, who really didn’t do “the work.” So I began to move away.

I changed up my meetings, I practiced my prayers for a year. I read the book. I participated in the lives of newbies for months. That is how I began “the work.”

I practiced until God put a new sponsor into my life. And after that my life changed again.

After 12 or so years, two men stepped into my life, and I got the opportunity to start “The Work” with them. Nothing makes sobriety more important or special that having someone to work with. Because they keep me on my toes. I must now do “The Work.” I must have a sponsor who does “The Work.”

I am, what they call, SANDWICHED…

I have a grand sponsor, I have a sponsor, I have myself, and I have my guys.

Not to mention all the others I work with or I am friends with. All those folks who come to my meetings, that I see every week. Meetings are important.

But more importantly, the guy who opens the door, sets up, makes coffee, welcomes guests, reads, shares, discusses, and then cleans up afterwards.

If there is no one there to do “The Work,” If there is no one to welcome the newcomer, then how would we survive? How would they survive without us?

Thankless jobs, but so vitally important. I have done that for the whole of my sobriety. Week in and week out. Month by month, year by year.

It is unrelenting work.

And in the end it all comes down to gratitude. Because I am only carrying on “the Work” that was shown to me by those who did “the work” before me.

And this weekend, I got to spend time with the one woman who welcomed me to my first meeting at the home group I began here in the city. She lives far away now and I don’t get to see her very often, so that was a treat.

It was a great weekend. And my batteries are charged. And so commences “The Work” that will carry us for the next year.

It was a great investment of time, talent and treasure for my guys.

And to close I got an email from the member who drove them out and took them home all weekend. saying how impressed she was with my guys’ kindness.

A great weekend was had by all.

IT IS TIME TO DO “THE WORK !”

Let us begin anew.

More to come, I am sure…