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Hubby

Friday on Saturday … Learn in Quiet

serenity prayerIn 1941, a news clipping was called to our attention by a New York member. In an obituary notice from a local paper, there appeared these words (above).

Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words. With amazing speed the Serenity Prayer came into general use.

Last night I heard a young lady say that the long version of the Serenity Prayer was written by Bill’s secretary Anne, based on prayers Bill had around the office.

I wanted to do this post justice and give it proper time to build and be able to tell the story coherently.

At every meeting, where ever you go, this prayer starts the whole show. And in most meetings, more likely in Montreal, specifically, we use the long version of the Serenity Prayer, quite often.

In the beginning, we hear the words, and we recite the prayer as rote, because everyone else is saying it. Over time, we (read:me) begin to learn just what this prayer is saying about life and how things really are.

When we admit we are powerless over alcohol, we come to the second part of that Step One, that we are also powerless over people, places and things. However hard we assert ourselves in thinking that we can change other people, and therefore change the world, the Serenity Prayer quietly reorients us back to center, reminding us just where we sit in the grand scheme of things.

A couple years ago, at Christmas. hubby bought me a Serenity Prayer, sign that hangs over my desk, it is also right next to the front door. I see it throughout my day and as I come and go, I say the prayer, and usually, add the second part of the prayer to it.

I heard it also said, last night, that the Serenity Prayer is a “pause” or “break” to stop and rest. Amid the business of the day, we often need to stop and pause to reorient our minds and thoughts.

Yesterday evening I was sitting with a friend, talking about life and marriage. Marriage is a hot topic among my friends as of late. Our men are growing up into fine men, and marriage is one of the next things on the agenda of life.

Many years ago, when I was a new into sobriety, I moved from having nothing and no one in my life, to at eleven months, meeting my now husband, moving into the apartment we now live in, and beginning my University Career all the while maintaining my meeting schedule.

That happened over a short period of time.

We were in the deep end of the pool.

What happened next changed our lives in ways we did not envision, or expect, or really had a choice in. The man I met on that rainy Sunday afternoon and subsequently dated and that quickly morphed into cohabitation, is not the same man I married two years later.

Hubby had a cycling problem. The story of how our home evolved is directly attributed to his cycling issues. What was once a white sterile apartment, is now splashed with color in every room.

Soon after that issue arose, hubby had a nervous breakdown, and we found him a shrink who diagnosed him Bi-Polar, rapid cycling. At that time, or just prior to that time, hubby was a ebullient, vibrant, active in every way, man. We had an exciting life and a very deep and connected sex life as well. When ever where ever, jack rabbit activity.

When hubby fell into his stupor, he was comatose on the sofa for 15 hours a day. I was going to school, going to meetings, coming home, cooking, cleaning, and feeding him then I put him to bed every night. Doctors began dosing him with medication to try and help him.

This lasted then months …

We did not find the right mix on the first go. Medication usually takes three to four weeks to start working and for the next ten months, we tried every drug known to man, to try and fix him.

I can tell you that at night, I would sit here in the dark, in front of this box and weep. Not knowing what to do, what I could do, or what I could do better. I prayed, every day, every night, and in retelling this story yesterday, I thought about how my prayer life saved from from personal melt down, when that was not really an option.

Someone had to take care of hubby,

What we did not know then, we found out later, much to our surprise, Bi-Polar medications are toxic and really do a number on ones brain. In ten months of medical treatment, hubby went from the young man I met, to the man I got when he finally got up from his stupor.

Finally after ten months of treatment, the shrink offered one last trial. That was the pill that changed everything. Overnight, hubby went from stupor to alive and well.

It was miraculous.

That was August of 2004.

We had weathered the medical storm. But what we got on the other side, was night from day, how it was when this all started. The man I met and came to love and adore, was not the man I ended up with as his treatment progressed.

I was powerless over what was going to happen.
I was powerless to retain what was once reality.
I was powerless over everything.
I was powerless over the man who emerged after treatment.

Over time, I had to make peace with the man I ended up with, because he was so different from the man I met in the beginning. Half the man I knew had disappeared. it was like someone took a spoon and just dug out half of his brain and half the man he had been.

It totally emasculated him.

During all this time, the thoughts of, “I can’t handle this, it isn’t my problem, and I should just cut and run, would run through my mind.” I had decided in the beginning that I was going to stick and stay. I wasn’t going to leave him when he needed me the most.

I once heard a story, a friend told me about love and loss.

One day an elderly man went to the hospital to have stitches removed from his hand.

As he sat in chairs, the staff noticed him fidgeting and nervously looking at his watch. One of the male nurses decided to take him and do what needed to be done.

The man was nervous and shaking, as the nurse removed his stitches. And so the nurse asked him why he was fidgeting and “did he have somewhere he needed to be?”

The man replied that he had breakfast with his wife every morning, and if they did not hurry he would be late. He also offered that his wife had Alzheimer’s Disease and that she did not know who he was any longer.

The nurse then asked him, “why do you have breakfast with your wife every day, if she doesn’t remember who you are?”

The elderly man replied …“Because I remember who she is.”

After hearing this story, I was more resolute than I had ever been in taking care of the man I knew and the man I ended up with.

How did I make it through the darkness? I prayed. I went to meetings, I talked to my friends.

I was never alone, and hubby was never alone either.

The power of prayer can save lives, if used correctly.

The End…


Sunday Sundries … City Under Seige …

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Courtesy: Split Minded

It is Very Scary out tonight. People are invoking the memory of the Great Quebec Ice Storm. And tonight, it is looking very likely that conditions are going to go from bad to worse over the next forty eight hours.

We are sitting at (1c) at this hour. But let’s go back a couple of days.

Friday night it was cold, a little too cold. But we all traveled to the meeting. It was a mega packed house. Everybody is back from coming and going. Almost all of our youth stayed sober over the holidays, save for a couple.

The lesson here: Family is a good thing, in small doses, when we are in early sobriety. Not having an out or a meeting to get to is fuel for the fire. Spending too much time with your family can really fuck up ones sobriety, as was proven by some of our folks.

The government website, and tv people and everyone else has been waving the “WARNING” flag for the last week, warning us that a storm was coming. We expected snow to fall all day Saturday and we would then have a ton of snow on the ground.

Snowfall did not start until around 6 p.m. Saturday evening, and it snowed into the night, with just enough snow to create havoc on streets and sidewalks. I had shopped like a madman so I wouldn’t have to go out unless it was an emergency, because they warned us a BIG storm was coming.

Well, it never came.

Saturday night came, it was snowy and very cold.

Early in the evening we got a call from my in laws, hubby’s grandmother, his father’s Mother, had died early in the evening. She had Alzheimer’s for many years. In reality, she left the building ten years ago, when she lost her ability to remember us. She was in an assisted lock down care facility, because she was a wanderer. Several times in years prior, she found ways out of the home in the dead of winter on several occasions, and it was good thing that she didn’t get killed or freeze to death wandering around Ottawa in her nighty.

She ended up in palliative care last week, and in the end, they doped her up to make her comfortable. Once you introduce sedatives, morphine or dilauded to the mix, death is not far away. Nana gave up her body after years of being absent to her body. A sad end in any case.

So that happened early Saturday night.

Somebody was on a plow late Saturday night a few blocks from us East, and they hit a gas main, and it exploded. Which plunged our section of the city into darkness. The power went out just after 11 p.m. as the news was starting.

When the power goes out, we loose heat, water and electricity, in one swoop ! We were on the Western edge of the blackout. And thanks to text messages we figured out how far to the East the blackout extended.

My neighbors on our floor began to panic. Really, it was the first time I have seen my neighbors all at the same time. Nobody knew what to do because the lights went out. Like the super was going to be able to turn the lights back on just for the asking … um, NO !

We have an emergency generator that operates the elevators in case this situation occurred.

Someone was stuck in the elevator that is not served by the generator. We have two elevators. One gets juice the other does not. We got the car to ride down to the ground floor and those folks got out. And like good frantic people, some had to go out to see what happened.

I was like – it’s almost midnight, It’s freakishly cold out, and you want to go outside and find the damage? WTF ??? Why not stay inside where it is relatively warm and safe ?

I eventually went downstairs to talk to people on the ground floor to see what they knew, and I found a bunch of folks who lived farther east of us, from their dark buildings, sitting in the darkness in our building, hoping to find electricity and when they got here, we were dark too. So they sat in the dark for hours until the power came back on around 1:15 a.m. in the morning.

We decided that there was nothing to do but to sit in the dark and stare at a single candle burning. Just after midnight we went to bed, the heat had been off for a while, and it was starting to get chilly, so I piled extra blankets on the bed and we went to sleep. Only to be woken by the sound of appliances coming back on, the computer, and finally water being pumped up to our floor and to the ones above.

Massive amounts of people all over the city and far and wide went dark since last night, and crews are working double time to get them all reconnected.

I had an appointment with one of my guys early so I was up and ready to go before I needed to go. It had warmed up enough that the snow that fell, melted. Which in turn created standing puddles of water at every intersection. Water, Water Everywhere …

The house of slush and puddles …

I really need a pair of rubber boots. Because even with my winter boots, my socks got wet.

Imagine folks stranded on street corners not knowing how to ford the lakes of water without getting their feet wet, and trying to get around mounds of snow that had been plowed creating these lakes all over the place. The trek out was tedious.

I got a couple of emails from folks who were not going out. So I opened, chaired, collected the kitty and closed the church. My peeps helped out in between.

Step Four was on the table. Lots of good stuff.

I was afraid nobody would show up, because the weather was frightful. The ice and snow that had collected on the roof of the church fell in great bangs to the ground while we were inside. I could not shovel the walkway, because the snow had turned to ice. Everything was covered in ice. I could only shovel the stoop in front of the doors, so people could get inside.

A handful of hearty weather goers showed up. The hardened “In sleet, rain, snow or ice, nothing will keep us from a meeting” crowd.

Temps warmed up, snow is melting, there is ice covering cars, sidewalks, streets, etc …

We will drop to Minus (-10c) by tomorrow, and (-20c) on Tuesday. Anything that is not iced over right now, will be iced over very soon. Then things could get really dicey.

Getting home was a challenge. It took a bit longer than I had expected because of lakes, puddles, ice and snow. Freakish weather. A lot freakier than it was last winter.

It has been a freakish, sad, and tedious weekend to say the least.

More to come, stay tuned …


I am here, I survived, and that matters …

Do you believe in Love

Today is my birthday. Last night I got an odd call from my aunt. Strange that she called because we usually speak on Facebook. Nonetheless, she called, and I figured there was a reason for the call, hoping that she had something to give me, and she did.

It seems my estranged father is on Facebook. He had sent my cousin a friend request, which she denied, and so I sent my father one right then and there. My brother is also on Facebook as well, but he has blocked me. So I looked him up while we were talking and started a short conversation with him. I invited him to friend up, and also to come by here and look me up and also sent him my mobile number to see if he would “man up” and call and speak to me in real time.

Today I am 47 years old. And in a maudlin kind of way, I am reflective. I am currently re-reading Halfway Home by the late Paul Monette, who died of AIDS around the time I was diagnosed in 1994.

I wonder if certain people wonder who I am today, and what I have done with my life and how I have chosen to live that life? And I wonder, does it really matter? Yes, it does. For the one fact that I survived a dreadful disease and I lived and that alone should be a point of respect. I have dignity, a life and I live it fully.

I have been sober now almost 13 years. The running joke is that if I lived to see another birthday, I would live to see the next Christmas. So I made it to my birthday today, so I will make it to Christmas.

So many years have gone by for old resentments and anger to fester any longer. I am too old and sober to remain angry and resentful. And I expect that others should be grown up enough to accept life on life’s terms and come to the table, like sane adults.

I matter. I lived. I am alive. I have earned my place in this world. I have earned the respect of my friends and my peers. And I have earned the love of a good man who cares about me and my life, and cares for me like no other has or had.

You just don’t know what years of silence does to someone.You just shut someones light off and plunge them into darkness, it is cruel and unjust. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

Here I am, take it or leave it. This is who I am.

Good and bad.

I lived, God Dammit. Respect !!! You owe me that much. That I lived…


Sunday Sundries … Countdown

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Courtesy: Sweet soles

Mother Nature is in a tug of war at this hour. The clouds moved in today and attempted to drop rain on us earlier, i felt a few drops and that was it. I figured the skies would open during the meeting and soak us. That did not happen. But it is dark and foreboding at this hour. It’s not a question of if it will rain, but when at this point.

If I were still drinking we would be amid the great countdown to the birthday, which is on Thursday this year. The drinking party would have begun on the seventh day out and we would party every day ending with a grand slam drinking event that always took place on the birthday.

 

Thank God I am no longer drinking. And that I have never had a drink here.

I spent the afternoon with my sponsor going over the shift that is taking place in my brain and got his advice on what I should be doing, what is my responsibility and what is not. Marriage is work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Knowing what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when not to do it … Learning careful and thoughtful ways of speaking … and how two people relate to each other, in the many ways possible. We even had “THAT” conversation.

You know, “That” conversation …

The most intimate way two people communicate.

So that was a thing.

I arrived at the church a half hour early because we were just up the road at Second Cup, and i cranked some tunes and cranked out set up. My coffee gal showed up and we made coffee and sat and talked for a while. She was also chairing tonight, which was a tradition meeting.

7th month, 7th Tradition … Money !

“Every A.A. group should be self supporting declining outside contributions.”

They had a tough time with this one, back in the day. But wisdom spoke when the fellowship decided to decline outside contributions because … “Whoever pays the piper is apt to call the tune.”

We need money to keep a group open. It costs a pretty penny to open a meeting in today’s day and age. Among five original members, our Thursday night meeting just makes rent on a monthly basis, because we cover whatever we are short at the end of the month. We haven’t been able to raise prudent reserve yet, a year later.

Then one factors in a coffee pot, literature, supplies, cups, coffee and a cabinet to put your stuff in AND then pay rent on a monthly basis.

I was told wisely, when we opened that “if the group is meant to be, God will make it so, and so far He has. Larger groups make more cash on a weekly basis and keep a prudent reserve and covers all their operating expenses. It is vitally important that we keep the doors open because you never know who is going to show up on any given night.

If I calculated how much money I wasted on alcohol, I try to put money in the kitty when I can.

Then the entire question of financial security came up. Many struggle with this issue, and so keeping the doors open is an imperative. It is suggested that at home, one should have a prudent reserve of three months salary in the bank, in case of emergencies …

We’ve never been able to do that, as of yet.

Money makes the world go round, and is one major cause of all marital discord, along with sex, secrets and infidelity.

It was a short discussion tonight, lots of passes. I had expected a larger crowd, but we were happy with who showed up. We are set for jobs next month.

It was a good night overall.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Step 3 … Humanity … Thoughts and the Weather

loveThe weather here at home has been stellar lately. Sunshine, breezy and very pleasant.

The shift in light and seasons is being noticed by some folks. I was standing on my balcony the other night, just as the sun was setting on the far side of the mountain and I noticed something I had never seen before. There are a bunch of windmills/turbines on the south shore that one can see from here, miles away, when the sun is right and there is not much haze in the sky. The same goes for the beacon lights at night.

The way that light moves around the west end of the city (where I can see) is quite incredible. For a brief few moments the sunlight wrapped around the west end, around the buildings and the highways and high-lit the turbines in a way I had never seen before. It was a picture perfect view, had I a camera that would shoot that far away. The sunset is different every night, it is never the same light two nights running.

So that is a thing …

It has been an emotional few days and I came up with new insights tonight at the meeting reading Step three with the guys. These are some new insights:

Every once in a while, When God sees fit, I am reminded of the vows I spoke on my wedding day. Usually, when I am not pleased with something, someone or myself, God steps in and points out that “Yes, You indeed spoke those words, need I remind you of them?”

For better – For worse, In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer …

I seem to forget these things when I turn on myself and attempt to wrestle my will back from God. I only get so far, before I fall flat on my face and cry uncle …

We are guilty of improper use of our will.

And once we made that decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (as we understood Him) can we begin learning the proper use of our will and our lives.

I also did not think about the fact that Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems. Nor, did I stop to recite the serenity prayer like I should have. I am powerless over people, places and things, and that I accepted the life that I am living. I may not like it all the time, and that is ok.

I am only human.

We also learn in Step three that we, men, have problems sitting with silence and we would rather shock ourselves than sit with our feelings and the silence. I felt that as well this week. The silence was deafening. And try as I might, to fill it with something, I failed.

It was funny that I decided to perk less coffee because we always end up throwing some away at the end of the night, tonight we sat a full compliment and ran out of coffee before the meeting even started. That usually never happens. The summer season has brought dozens of visitors from out of town to several meetings that I hit. And they are making it to Thursday’s meeting.

It is said that, “At any given moment during the day, we are right where we need to be and are supposed to be.”

Once again, that word: Acceptance, rises from the book into reality.

All my guys are good. Two out at camp and one here with me. He took his three month chip tonight. It is incredible to see how far he has come in such short of a time.

The best medicine in sobriety is watching someone else get sober, from day one, over time.

To see the evolution of Person, of God and of Prayer and how they all work together.

It was timely that I got the last two weeks to chair, we spent two weeks on steps and next week is my birthday, a business meeting and a tradition.

Tomorrow I get to sit with my sponsor and talk out all this stuff with him. Then the usual Friday meeting and time with one of my guys in from camp. We are a couple of weeks from his departure from the country. The long goodbye continues …

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Throwback Tuesday … If Only … Thoughts

tumblr_lz5457StmH1rp4e81o1_500 pbjars danielCourtesy: PBJars Daniel

Life is easing up. Things are back on track. as much as they can be. But we are not out of the woods just yet. And I hate feeling like a hostage in my own home, but it is what it is. It took me to get to a meeting and picked a topic that it crystallized for me, just what was going on in my head

… “If Only!”

When I was drinking, that last miserable year 2001, I was deep in denial, and full of excuses and justifications concerning “If Only” and what that would do for me. The story goes, I wanted to retain my youth, (i.e. I feared growing up), I wanted into a specific community, that upon today’s review, I could not keep up with even if I tried.

I could not drink every day, or every night, that was too much, so I ended with the binge. If only I was accepted and made part of, but then I thought tonight, “would that have curbed my drinking or stopped it?” No, it wouldn’t have, because the community I wanted into drank daily. They did high end drugs and drove high end cars and had high end lives that were sunk in a bottle at 5 every evening.

Too much for me.

I got sober, in spite of myself. And in the end I moved away from the drinking. Like when I put down the drugs, I moved away from them, and did not go looking for them again. Likewise, when I moved here, I was sober, I did not have a drinking history here, and I wanted to keep it that way.

I may have put down the drink finally, But I still had me, and my brain. And what was contained between my ears. In early sobriety I started asking questions like, “what if I don’t get this, or don’t have that, or what if I don’t get what I want when I want it …”

That’s popular … What if I don’t get what I want … classic !

I learned how that was going to go down. I can’t say that I liked it then, and I am not saying I like it now, but it is what it is …

I don’t like where I am right now. If only things were a bit different, or our specific situation were different than what it is, if only we had more, more of what is the question?

I don’t know what more looks like, when we struggle just to have something.

And over the weekend, and into last night, I knew I had sunk into the “If Only and the What If’s. And I know when I get to this point, I usually say something wrong, or shoot my mouth off at someone – nobody in particular. And I had to sit with that knowledge until I worked it out and that came this evening.

I may have quit drinking. I surely have not quit thinking. And even though I am sober a while, I still find myself with a thinking problem on the odd occasion.

One of our gals said tonight at the meeting she heard from a speaker that “A.A. you are either ON it or you are IN it. Think of a submarine. When that baby goes down, you don’t want to be On it, you want to be IN it.

There is a solution. I’d rather not live in my problems. Hence, more work.

Nuff said …

Throwback Tuesday …

A long while ago a good friend gave me an I-Tunes gift card. We are a p.c. family. And so we don’t do Apple anything. I tried at one point to make a purchase from U.S. I Tunes, and that did not go well, so I sat on my card until this morning. I downloaded I Tunes for p.c. and searched for the record I had originally wanted to buy, and it was in the Canadian library.

Dionne Warwick, Hot, Live and Otherwise … 15 tracks Live.

I had this double vinyl record when I was a teen-ager. I had an extensive record collection. I tunes is like Christmas morning every day. Amazing what they have on offer. I’ve about filled an 8 g.b. sd card in my phone. I am going to have to delete some shit to make space for the new music I have gotten from that gift card. Boo Yah …

I also got a copy of Juice Newton’s Greatest Hits. She is an odd one. A little pop and a lot of country. She was featured on Solid Gold several times during the 80’s, and Dionne Warwick was a host for a while.One of my friends out in Cali made me a podcast with lots of 80’s music and now I am getting around to finding them on I tunes.

Back when one had a hand held tape recorder with cassette tapes. I would record music from the tv into my tape recorder and listen to it until I could buy a record or two.

Sometimes I had taped entire shows on cassette to play, I went through a had to have it roller skate kind of phase.

Xanadu came to mind the other night because I heard a cut from E.L.O. “All over the World” on a bumper cut on overnight radio. So I had to download the soundtrack and the movie while I was at it. I remember that both my parents got to see this movie, on separate occasions, I got to see it several times overall. “Whenever you’re away from me …”

We are back to Staying in the day. I need to speak to my sponsor sometime soon. He has been busy with family from out of the country. It will all come around.

That’s my snapshot of the day today.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … So Long for Now … Changes

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Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)

The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.

The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.

I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.

Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.

We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.

We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.

There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.

What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.

And your destiny …

Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”

I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.

I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.

Nobody said stop.

Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.

I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?

Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.

He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.

I lived …

Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.

For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???

Everything else after that pales in comparison.

Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.

I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.

There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.

I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.

And I have to be ok with that.

I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.

When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.

I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.

And I have to be ok with that.

I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.

We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.

Life is good. Life is as life is.

I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…

I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.

It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.

That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.

When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.

There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.

And so we have.

Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.

More to come, stay tuned …


Passports, Paperwork and Pigeons Oh My !!!

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It was a beautiful day today. But for every good day, we must deal with at least two days of winter to follow, as has been the case. A winter storm warning is up and they say that 15 to 20 cm of snow will fall tomorrow.

God Help Us All …

I was up with the birdies this morning. After staying up well past a decent bed time, damn those books … But it is so good !!!

I was off to the Government Offices here in the city to hand in and pay for my passport. I was very pleased, it took all of 30 minutes and I was out of there. Hit to Pocket $120.00 CAD for a 5 year passport.

I dropped off some paperwork for hubby in the same building. I was out of the building close to 10 a.m. with the whole day ahead of me.

My sponsor is very excited that we will be able to attend together The Mad River Barn Sober Retreat in May. A weekend workshop of speakers, steps and fellowship. This will be my first trip out of the country since my honeymoon in 2004.

It was a great night to be out and about. We hit the Friday meeting as usual, and we talked about “Companions.”

It was a good thing that the right people appeared in my life when they did, because they made a huge difference in who I am today. You could not buy the support we get in these rooms in the real world.

If you need help in today’s world, you better have the bucks to pay up forwards, sadly, folks who need real help can’t get it because they can’t afford it, or even sadder, the lack of resources is a serious problem all over the place, not only here in Canada.

But we do what we can for each other. We do our best.

I picked up a new pigeon today.

Very grateful to be of service.

All is well in the world.

More to come, stay tuned…


Some Days I Feel like This …

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There are some days, like today, where this image is appropriate.

One day the sun comes out, the next, it is shrouded in cloud.

One day it is cold, the next a bit warmer, and tonight going into tomorrow calls for rain, only for 12 to 20 hours we will rise above zero, enough to give us rain, then it is back down into minuses.

More snow will fall the middle of next week.

I got up early today after having a dream about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge. It was a sweet dream, in the dream we were very close.

Then I woke up … I hate when that happens !!!

Hubby has left the job that was such a godsend, and paid the bills, because not all political aspirations can succeed. So he is home with me during the day, and I am getting used to him being here when I have my daily routine and ritual. Now that has to run with him present.

I am two steps away from completing my passport application. One, I need photos and Two, I see my guarantor on Monday for lunch.

Had my old passport NOT been so expired more than a year, I could have used the One Click form which was much easier to complete. I had to use the old method, the one where you have to jump through several circus hoops and get all kinds of signatures and legal proof of cit and recommendations and a legal guarantor.

The ease of which this has come to completion is a reminder that on any given day, I get what I need. And that I have all the people I need in my life. My cup is filled.

Tonight I purposely left later than usual, because of the fact that particular people are setting up, that I try not to interact with. But from point to point took 40 minutes. I arrived first, besides the set up guy.

He was almost finished. And we had 45 minutes to wait for the meeting to start. It is a good thing that my sponsor tells me to be kind and to be wary and to do the right thing in all situations. It was not as intense as I was fearing. Since I held out my hand it was empowering and kindness in action.

Today’s Topic, “Daily Acceptance.”

I cannot blame anyone else for the fact that I am an alcoholic. I don’t ever remember pouring liquor down my throat in an act of defiance or anger.

The old adage …”You hurt me so I’ll show you, I’ll hurt me!”

In the end my drinking was all self centered. All I cared about were the magical qualities that the drink was supposed to give me, but didn’t. It wasn’t about others, it was all about me.

On a daily basis, we have a daily reprieve, based on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake, so why tonight, am I sitting in the pity pot bemoaning what I don’t have?

One of my friends sitting next to me tonight, after I spoke, tilted his head over towards me and said “well, in this case the word is Fuck them.”

Succinct.

Blood is not thicker than water.

Sometimes we must build the family we need.

And in the rooms, as well as my tight social circle, I have everyone I need.

There is that small space in my heart that breaks because there are living human beings in this world bound by blood, who want nothing to do with me. And like a good alcoholic, I want to make it all better. And no amount of words or energy I put into these thoughts, is wasted time and energy.

Determining long ago that I would never become my father, or treat people the way he did all the time I was growing up, All those folks he alienated, I worked so hard at making it better behind his back.

I have those people in my life, who are active and supportive.

How can one live with themselves knowing that you hate so deeply?

I just cannot understand, 46 years now, and I still don’t get it.

I may ask the questions of God, and to this day he is mum, on the subject.

So my friends are right – Fuck Them.

It was a very quick ride home. The bus came right away, the trains came one after another, and in a flash I was back in my burg.

I got to see my friends. What a blessing.

I have everything that I need. So some gratitude.

I don’t need anything more than what I have in my yard.

Life is good.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


Friday … Snow, Realizations, Material Achievement

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Courtesy: Voodoovoodoo

The other night I heard a man say that he wanted snow …

Well, we got snow. A lot of it. Piled up all over the place. However, the estimated final snowfall total, was a bit less than we expected, which meant that life did not come to a stand still because of snow.

That usually doesn’t happen here. We need a good snow fall to incite panic and travel stoppages on our streets. We haven’t had that kind of snow event, yet, this winter.

I saw lots of flowers, roses, bouquets, bottles of wine, being carried on the Metro from place to place on my travels tonight. Even though the weather was shitty going into today, people made the most of it.

Thankfully the trains were all running properly. However the buses were a bit slower than usual because of piled up snow. I imagine the plows will begin working this weekend.

We sat a largely male crowd with a sprinkle of women here and there.

The topic … Material Achievement.

By the time my father was in his forties, he had amassed a wife, two kids, a home with a huge yard, a riding lawn mower, a two car garage with two cars to to in it, and a pool.

We were living large. But it was still a competition to see who had the most toys and who would win. Sadly, my father did not have all the nice toys that some of our neighbors had, so he came in third place.

It seemed that alcoholism did not affect the attainment of wealth. It was part of that wealth. It came with the territory. A trade off, you might say.

In order to have nice things, you needed the alcohol.

Sad, that I am in my mid forties, and all I have to speak of is a husband, a 1 bedroom apartment, enough food in my fridge, a roof over our heads, and the rent payed on a monthly basis.

It’s not about money or wealth. We hear stories from the many about the evils of money and how money can’t buy you happiness. One story in particular, a friend of mine, over the holidays, has a good paying job, but he is a humble servant. Goes to see his family on Christmas, and is repulsed by the fact that the rest of the family thrives on Big Ticket Items and large sum money pot presents. You can tell, from his point of view that he cannot compete with his family on the money front. And he doesn’t want to either.

Alcoholism and drug abuse took too much from me. Twice in my lifetime I have lost everything that I owned because of alcohol and bad decisions.

On my slip, I moved my house and all of my wealth that was considerable to a new home. Which turned out to be the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. Because when it was over, the cops took me and on that day they told me that I could only take what I could carry and leave.

I left everything behind. My life, My things, Almost everything that I owned. Save for what I could carry with me.

Granted, coming into sobriety the second time, when I moved countries, I had a few boxes, a couple of suitcases, And that was it.

I remember those first few months living here, I thought I was entitled. how wrong I was. That began a journey of learning just how much I needed, how I was going to get it, and keep it, and make it work.

I went back to school. I worked my ass off for two degrees, that translated into NOTHING. I learned a lot, but what I learned served no one but the folks in the meetings and you here my readers.

I am not rich. We live simply and Spartan.

Coming from a life of having everything and more, and moving into a life where it took work, blood sweat and tears to get here, I don’t know if it seemed that it came so easily when I was a teen ager? For all the good things we had, there was that trade off … Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

I survived the great purge of 2013. We own what we need. We gave the rest to charity over Christmas.

We have the trinity of needs, and that is all …

The roof over our heads,
Food in the Fridge and,
A warm bed to sleep in.

And we are grateful for those things on a daily basis.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Physician Heal Thyself

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Courtesy: Friend on Facebook

It was a good day. hubby was away in Ottawa celebrating his brother’s 50th birthday, family, friends and a mariachi band were on tap. It was a successful visit with family he doesn’t get to see very often in the same place at the same time.

When I am home alone, I find that I don’t know what to do with myself, and I admit, that I hate sleeping alone in our bed. It is just very odd going to bed alone, and not have him sleeping next to me.

It was a regular Sunday night. We sat a nominal group and the reading lent to some raw emotions. Funny, that we come in, we begin the process of getting sober, and inadvertently, we begin to get really honest.

Our chair spoke tonight … “Where on earth can you go to hear such a diverse group of people speak about their lives with such honesty?”

We completed the reading “Physician Heal Thyself.” Which is a loaded story. We make our admission, we come to believe, and then we make a decision to turn our will and our lives to some joker, who we can’t see???

What is with that? How do I do that? Who is He and how is He going to help me? With all my complicated problems and assorted issues?

There is the word again … God

Our ma speaks about the steps, he also touches on How it Works, Page 58 in the Big Book. Several things jumped out at me during the reading.

“Half measures availed us nothing … and Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. The latter comes from another section of the book, but I repeated it for others in the room.

Some of my long sober friends are bent out of shape for one reason or another, and we are all living life on life’s terms, and sometimes those terms rub us against the grain. And sometimes unfair.

I’ve been relying on the book much more as of late.

“Nothing, Absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.”

Sometimes that is a bitter pill to swallow. Because at times, life is not fair and in the end whatever happened, happened, and we have to live with that therefore this line comes to bear.

I’ve said before that this time around, I did things very differently. I relied on people first. I had moved to a new place, and I was newly sober. I thought that I was entitled to a few “needs .. read: Wants” because I was back in the rooms.

God has a sense of humor. Because his reply never wavered.

No!

No!

Not Today!

Ask me later

Definitely Not …

It took me a while to get that message. If it weren’t for the folks in the room, I probably would have self imploded. I stuck and I STAYED.

In the U.S. where I once lived, at the end there, I was living below poverty. I had no health insurance. I relied on the charity of many groups to provide me with the things we all take for granted, food, furniture, assistance, etc … And at the end it was like this, I needed medication, I needed food, and I needed to pay my rent. I could NOT do all three at the same time.

When I moved here, all that changed. And over the past twelve years, I’ve learned to be grateful because I get everything I need, when I need it, as I need it. There is no juggling and having to choose whether to buy medication or buy food, or pay rent.

And the running theme lately is “Half measures availed us nothing.”

I’ve been falling into behavior that is not very grateful and appreciative of all that I have. God has provided all those things to me, and I’ve never had to go outside of the groups to get anything, within moderation.

I have everything I need, and sometimes I forget that. And I do not follow what I should be doing, when I get into, “I don’t feel like it today, maybe tomorrow or maybe later…” (reference: My medicine cabinet)

If I am in gratitude, I make use of everything that I have, and not take them for granted. How easily we forget to be grateful.

Who is God? Ask the universe. It is that which is unknowable, but he knows who I am, and He hears me. And I go to a meeting and I hear Him speak to me.

It was good to sit and listen. it was good to be able to share with newcomers, and to greet new guests, and to see friends I always get to see on Sunday night. I am very thankful.

Another week begins.

More to come, stay tuned …


Christmas Day 2013

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Courtesy:Sunsurfer (Special Archives)

It is a cold day in Montreal but not so bad in the sun. We are sitting at (-18c/-24c w.c.). The turkey is ready to go into the oven, and we are having a friend over for dinner.

With Christmas music playing on Galaxy tv, we opened gifts. All of my gifts went over well. Not that we spent oodles of money on each other. The holiday is all about sharing a meal with good friends.

I did get a few goodies like an 8 gig memory card for my phone. My old one cranked out and blew up on me. And when I went to Telus to get it replaced, they gave me a 4 gig for a 2 gig price. A steal. But after I got home I realized that the card was too small. Oh Well …

I’ve been shuffling music on and off the card I have now, and I almost cranked it the other day, nothing makes the heart fall faster than seeing your phone say “sd card corrupt !!!”

I needed in a great way, a new pair of headphones for my computer since the ones I’ve been using have been broken and were all taped up to keep the ears in tact. Now I have a brand new pair.

Hubby bought a few communal gifts for us. And I also got a nice sweater to add to my collection. All in all it was a nice haul.

My eye appointment is on the 11th of January so hubby can come with me and help me pick out frames. That will be an expensive day for sure.

Glasses and frames are not cheap especially when you need progressive lenses, they cost a bit more than regular lenses. Which I need.

May your day be Merry and Bright.

Merry Ho Ho Ho

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Great Build of 2013 and Many Other Things…

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Courtesy:Teq (special archives)

It was a bitterly cold and snowy evening. But first …

Last week our “super” said that this would be the week that they were going to rebuild our bathroom.

Monday at 7:45 in the morning the workers showed up and worked all day long, pulling down the ceiling/rebuilding the ceiling, replacing the old bathtub/putting in a new bathtub, putting up fresh drywall in the enclosure, and putting in new water pipes in the wall for the new set up.

I haven’t had a bathroom for two days now.

There are two bathrooms up on the 20th floor, on the pool deck that we have been using instead. There are two shower/toilet set ups just outside the sauna. In all the years I have lived in the building, I have never used the pool deck or the facilities there until this week.

Monday evening they said they would be up here at 7:45 this morning, so we were both up. Hubby stayed home to work, and we waited…

There was pounding going on somewhere below our apartment, it could have been the builders in the adjacent building or they were tearing up another bathroom below ours, but you could hear the drills and pounding one would associate with hard work.

Around 9 a.m. my guy showed up, and yes he was late, because they were tearing apart another bathroom in the building. It seems that the owners of the building are spending a good chunk of money rehabilitating apartments recently.

They are very good with making sure that things run properly and that if there is a need, that it is taken care of. All I know is that the hole in my bathroom ceiling has been there for months and months. They finally got around to it this week.

Today they tiled the bath area. It looks really nice. They have spackled the entire bathroom, where all my doodads hung, Tomorrow they will grout and finish the plumbing and we will finally have a working bathroom.

After two days of being up at the crack of dawn, it seemed, and spending all day (up) not having my daily nap, has thrown me all out of whack. My little loveseat is not habitable as a sleeping couch.

I went upstairs and showered and shaved, (without a mirror), I’ve never attempted to shave without a mirror before. It was quite easy. I was ready to go early, but I was timing my departure to coincide with the key holder so I would not be stuck outside in the cold again tonight.

I had my gloves in my bag, because I haven’t needed them until this evening. It was snowing when I left and there is snow piled up all over the place, they haven’t gotten to our neighborhood with the trucks yet.

Did I mention it was bitterly cold out???

I got to the stop and the snow was piled up more than a foot deep besides the sidewalk. They plowed the main drag, and pushed the snow onto the wide sidewalk. Then the smaller plow plows the sidewalk proper. Which then creates a burm of snow between the sidewalk and the street, which doesn’t give you any space to stand roadside because of piled up snow, thankfully someone had dug a 2 foot path through the snow berm from the sidewalk to the street.

My hands were freezing, so cold they hurt, and then I fished my gloves out of my bag, by that time it was too late. But I put them on anyways. And I waited for a bus. It was close to 5 o’clock, and traffic on Sherbroooke going West was a nightmare. Eventually, TWO buses showed up, one after another. And I went to get on the bus and I took a step into the bus, and took a dive into the bus landing face first on the floor of the bus onto my knees.

The driver was like “WHOOPS !!!”

I got up, and paid my fare. The bus was empty for a few stops. On the way, like I said, traffic was bumper to bumper, and we passed a third bus going West towards Decarie, where the 24 turns North.

I arrived to an open door and a warm meeting space. We made some coffee and settled in. The chair arrived, and there were three of us as 6:30 approached. Thankfully, it became a meeting when several others showed up late, thanks to the fucked up buses/traffic running late or not at all. Falling snow and piled up snow is a problem for traffic.

People tend to loose their marbles when that happens.

We read from A.B.S.I. Number 5 – Maintenance and Growth.

But the reading is all about anger and resentments. Hence …

“Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, but for us alcoholics it is poison.” B.B. pg. 66

We knew why the chair chose this reading, because we had chatted before the meeting about it. But it became appropriate for the group assembled. Some with serious time, some with a little time, and some with mere days. My buddy celebrates 25 years today, and I didn’t get around to call him earlier, my bad. He got to the meeting in any case.

The discussion went around the table. And with each person the topic was magnified and polished. I don’t get angry very often, but I get cranked by that odd newcomer who steps over a boundary, and that has happened recently. It took a couple of days but I got over it.

Aside from those minor instances, I don’t usually rent free space to people who vex me for very long. But I have spoken before about old hurts that reside in my heart and mind. And someone spoke about family and boundaries, and emotional sobriety, and wanting to be heard and standing ones ground.

It is the holidays, and all I want for Christmas it for certain people to acknowledge me and show some love and acceptance. I’m a human and I deserve to be loved and not shunned/shamed and placed in the dark for years and years because of bitter resentment.

Old, bitter, resentments and anger is a healthy trait of my family of origin.

That is not who I am or part of my lexicon. And every year I go through the motions of trying to beg God for a little grace, but that grace is a two way street only getting one way effort on my part.

You might pray God to do something, but if you don’t take the action first, how can He help you?

I can’t expect active, living alcoholics to get it. I can’t make someone want to be part of my life. However hard that vexes me. I just have to go on with those who do care about me. That is all.

Don’t rent free space in your brain to people who don’t deserve space.

Anger is pointless emotion, it only hurts you.

And if you realized just how little people think of us, those who vex and trouble us, that we think/crank about them when we harbor resentment and anger.

Do you really think that assholes and egos spend as much time pondering us from their position?

No they don’t. So why waste time on them?

Tomorrow I get my bathroom back. And the angels will sing…

Hallelujah !!!

THERE ARE SEVEN SHOPPING DAYS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS !!!

More to come, stay tuned…


11 Years. The Past Year, The lessons learned and the next phase, Year 12 …

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus (special archives)

I always try to find the right image to go with a post. This is one of those “right” images.

Monday December 9th, 2013. 12 years to the day I attended my Second First Meeting. I have said so many times in the past that up until that day I had already begun to talk to God. And surrender came when I realized that I was finished drinking, again…

We should all say a thank you to Troy for taking me to the meeting. I wonder if he is still sober today?

WHEN YOU KNOW RIGHT, DO RIGHT …

I think the theme of this past year has been “newcomer.” I may not have been a direct sponsor to anyone in particular, but I made a decision to leave my home group of 11 years to move to another Beginners Group made up of young men and women, with days, months and a few years of sobriety.

One young man in particular, one Sunday night, shared parts of his story about how he came in this last time. Struggling badly, he called his father in Europe. Our young man had been to meetings but found them not his “cup of tea.” His father flew to Montreal to see and consult.

They shared, and the question came … his father is long sober. How did dad get sober? And he confidently replied … In Meetings and A.A.

Needless to say he was floored. Our young man came in and got sober.

I did not know him very well when we met on that particular night. But something in him moved me because I spoke about him to a good friend on the way home that night. And ever since that night I have been keeping up with him, and over the last year we have become great friends.

And it is timely because that young man will give me my chip on Friday night December 13th at North End English.

All of the young men at this beginners meeting are special men. They never say NO when you ask them to do something for the greater good. And over the last year, I have had my hard times. I will touch on that later on in this post, suffice to say, when I needed a friend, they were there for me.

Like I said the theme is newcomer. And I feel like I have put my sober journey this year in the hands of newcomers. I’ve tried to practice presence. To be there for them as equally as they have been there for me.

I’ve not always been a good member. Because I have been less than forgiving with certain newcomers. And that is a fault.

A shift in my consciousness took place in May during the West island Roundup. Where we met for a weekend of talks given by speakers from New York City. My life has not been the same since. I wanted so badly to attain New York Sobriety. Whatever that means.

We don’t do sobriety like New York, here. Montreal is much more laid back. I have said in the past as well, that the women I know from Tuesday Beginners and Room of our Own, do it so much better than the men.

So I have kept my relations with them up to speed, even if we don’t see each other as often as I would like, because since leaving Tuesday’s I don’t see the women. But I call them often.

I’ve struggled with where I am going. I’ve struggled with sponsor. I felt at one point that we were both on different pages after the roundup because I went and my sponsor didn’t. He had his reasons, and I respect them.

But our relationship was changed in huge ways.

A long time ago, a friend of mine got sick with Cancer. And I made a conscious decision to be present to him in any way he needed. And I have honored that relationship to this day. We attend meetings together, and we are homed at the Thursday Men’s meeting, which we founded in May of this year.

Something happened a couple of weeks ago at another Thursday Meeting, my sponsor was there and after the meeting we chatted and he asked my friend if he was taking care of me … Now that I think on it today, my friend has been the closest thing to a sponsor as I have had. Seeing we spend a great deal of time together.

This is provident because yesterday when I talked to my good lady friend about an issue on my mind,  we touched on many issues. And I talked about my sponsor and she told me that maybe it was time that I moved on and that finding a new sponsor was important, and that once I did that, he would help me take care of my old sponsor. This is new ground here.

I’ve learned a great deal in the past year. Across many fronts.

In April of this year, one of my friends, another former member of the Tuesday meeting said he wanted to form a new meeting. And he pulled together a few hands, and I pulled a few hands together, and the six of us put together a new meeting. It was one of the biggest undertakings we had ever done in sobriety. It took over $300.00 to open a meeting, from space, to rent, to supplies, just to open the door.

The rest they say is history.

We have population. And a fine group of long time sober men. I was told that we should open the meeting and let God do the rest. He did …

I’ve had some issues with people and that has been a challenge. I did not do the right thing on several occasions, and I have learned from those lessons. I took for granted where I am at this point, and I forgot what it was like to be newly sober. As was pointed out to me recently. This is an ongoing issue that is on my plate right now.

MARRIAGE …

This year saw my marriage and my husband and I almost falling apart. That God Damned George Zimmerman trial almost killed us. Mostly because my husband finished his schooling and was homing in on his defense, and got pulled into this trial and spent every waking hour watching feeds from the states.

Our finances fell to an all time low. We were close to being broke. And I was not happy at all, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the hole was staring me in the face that I finally put my foot down and said something.

I relied on my boys like no one had. And they rose to the challenge with me and they took care of me. And I survived this test …

Yeah it went like this …

“I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore!”

The earth shook, to say the least. And it seemed that God was watching from the sidelines, because I felt like I had been forsaken, but that was all to change. We survived his defense, and it went perfectly. And after that followed the biggest event in our marriage, hubby landed a job that has set us on new paths financially, now we have been digging ourselves out of the credit hole he put us in over the past six months. And that has been a challenge.

I’ve worked to be a good husband. And relationships are hard work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. You roll with the punches and the tide.

I am not ready to surrender my marriage. Even though I came close.

Christmas is not far off as I begin writing this after 1 am on a Thursday night. Gifts are not necessary, but we do gift. Simply. We don’t spend oodles of cash on the holiday for material things. We do spend more money on my holiday dinner instead.

It is far better to cook, share and eat than be burdened by “Things.”

SUGGESTIONS TO THE CLUTTERER …

Lorna Kelly writes in a book about clutter and at some point you are long sober, that it comes time to pair down your life and rid yourself of all that shit you’ve collected over the years.

When we get sober, we are empty shells with baggage for days. We sober up, we clean up, we start meetings, and we start working our steps. And over many, many years, it seems, we clear out the wreckage of the past.

And in this eleventh year, I have read “The Camel knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel.” And I think after several read throughs. I have taken to heart what I read because it made sense to me recently.

This new knowledge began the Great Purge of 2013.

This is recent information because it just finished the other day. Suffice to say that there are very few “things” we have kept, mainly because it doesn’t belong to me so I couldn’t throw those things away.

But I did toss every item that was communal. Shit from the balcony, old files, trash we kept and didn’t toss when we should have. I sorted through every piece of clothing we owned and tossed 2 boxes and 4 leaf bags full of clothing in the charity bin. Someone will have a Merry Christmas this year.

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SACRED GIFT …

While hubby works, I am a stay at home housewife. I clean, do laundry, shop and do all those things that need to be done during the day. I have cultivated time to pray and meditate. Having the house to myself is a good thing because I can devote time to all my sober activities.

Prayer has become something I truly rely on. And I need reminders. That has been a theme in my life. Reminders… A good friend gave me a packet of prayer cards that I use every day. I have tacked the Third Step, the Seventh Step and Eleventh Step prayer on my computer So that the first thing I do in the morning is pray. And it is the last thing I do before I turn the box off and go to bed.

Sunday’s are a Big Book Meeting. Tuesday’s are Beginner’s Meetings, Thursday is the Men’s meeting, and Friday is for me, the As Bill Sees It meeting, where I will take my chip on Friday night. I have been religious about my meetings, and on those nights, hubby has his space aside from our together time.

Every day is different. The social tape that plays out changes every day. It is something that I have learned about after hubby fell sick Bi-Polar. That after he rose from the dead, the tape of the day began to play. And it took a long time to notice it, but it became very clear to me what the tape meant.

You know, the way you communicate with your husband or wife? The little inside jokes, the things only you would know? Sayings from movies, that are in common, jokes from comedians? The little things that pass between you on any given day?

We enjoy our time together. And every day there is something different. The tape is never the same two days running. When hubby got our cell phones, basically so that I could keep in contact with him while he was at Uni, communication took on a new purpose.

Many many years ago, when I was much younger I used to bar hop with my friend Ricky. We worked at R.C.I. together. And we hit up Uncle Charlies every night after work. He met his husband, on the first pass. They connected and have been together ever since.

They had a hole in the wall apartment with a card table, an old sofa and a few chairs. And over the past fifteen years built themselves quite the home.

I always longed to have what they had. And it took my coming to Montreal and sobriety to gift me that which I had so longed for. And it was on the first pass that I saw my then boyfriend, who eventually became my husband. And now nine years later we have turned that hole in the wall apartment into quite the home. We are climbing the financial ladder.

Those Pesky Ninth Step Promises were slow in coming. And just this year, the final promise of “fear of people and of financial insecurity will leave us” has come to pass, so I mention this gently and carefully, because I don’t want to jinx it.

That promise it seemed, was the one that dogged us for so many years. And I think that we have been fired in the crucible for so long, that it was finally time to get out of the heat of the oven. We have long term goals, some of which were promised to me long ago, and are still outstanding. I wrote about them in that long ago post “The State of Our Union.”

We have reached a new benchmark in our lives, and I am hopeful that the next stage of our lives will bring some good news. I hope we are on the up and we keep that momentum, because falling would be heartbreak.

MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO

Translated: Unworthy but chosen.

Pope Francis translates it as “By having compassion and by choosing.”

Just like John Paul II who believed that suffering and pain was sacred, that in the suffering one’s soul comes closer to Christ. Pope Francis once wrote that “Pain is not a virtue in itself, but you can be virtuous in the way you bear it.”

Living with a terminal disease only held at bay with a concoction of powerful pills, does not mean that there is not suffering, either mentally or physically. I have survived another calendar year. Which is no small achievement. This is part of my sober message to my fellows. People do not see death until it hits them right between the eyes. Living with “diseases” is for many a difficult burden.

People tend not to look at the inside of a person, because what they see on the outside looks normal and healthy. It has been a year of remembrance for me. It seemed that quite frequently there was some kind of documentary on television (READ: “We Were Here”) reminding me that I must remember, that we must remember.

It’s been a while, two years, since the last time I spoke at a meeting, which fell on my 10th sober anniversary. You could say that I am off the speaking circuit.

EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY

I don’t know if I am totally emotionally sober. I am finding that part of me holds on to old pain. Over the past few days I have written some stories about memories. And at the moment, I am of the mind that someone owes me an apology. I bore the burden of abuse as a child, defending my mother and brother, yet they stand unified behind a man who denies my existence and has shut off my light because of the family gospel.

I have this internal dialogue going on in my life and I hear myself saying things I so want to say to someones face, to shake them and throttle them close to death … words for my father, who has kept me in the dark and silence for the last twelve years …

LOOK AT ME GOD DAMMIT. SEE ME. ACKNOWLEDGE ME FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I AM 46 YEARS OLD. GROW THE FUCK UP AND STOP BEING A SON OF A BITCH !!! YOU BASTARD !!! FUCK YOU !!!

There are many thing I would like to say and the one thing I wish at this point in sobriety is that I am heard, and that my voice counts. And that my life has not been a waste of time or effort.

But in reality, this may never come to pass, because in this family dynamic, nobody won.

Like Nelson Mandela, he had to rise above all the hate and abuse to become the man that he did, to lead a people and a nation. And holding on to hate and anger only would have tied him down, emotionally and mentally. He had to let it all go in order to move forwards.

Sobriety is the practice of letting go on a daily basis. If it doesn’t concern me and it isn’t my problem, then don’t entertain it. And if someone irks you who is fresh in the program, but for the grace of God, folks in early sobriety don’t have the time we do to understand many things. Life took years and years to come together and we can’t expect a newbie to come in the room and grow on with “miracle grow.” It doesn’t work that way.

It has been a long haul this last year. I made it and lived it, and nobody can take that away from me. I’ve earned this day, one day at a time.

AND ON THIS LAST NIGHT OF SOBER YEAR 11,
Sunday December 8 – 2013 …

It was early, and I departed early, and set up quietly. A good friend showed up and we had a good time. And on this last night of my sober year, I was reminded why I go to meetings. It is the holiday season, and people are suffering. And as I have alluded to above, I forget what it was like to be newly sober the farther I get from my last drink.

But they say that the farther you get from your last drink, the closer you get to your next drink ! Thank God for newcomers who come, join, and tonight chaired the meeting. I am reminded of the important points: Meetings, Sponsorship, Fellowship and a connection to a Power Greater than Myself.

A man came in with a friend, I could smell alcohol from where I was sitting.

And admitted that he was in bad shape, that he was an alcoholic. In a blackout he hit his wife last night, and he doesn’t remember the rest …

I’ve been there, the darkness, the not knowing, but I know what happened to get me here. I needed life, I needed sobriety, I needed something more than I had had and the only place I could get it was in a meeting.

Before the book was published, the Oxford Group had spirituality and six steps … (1) Complete deflation, (2) Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power, (3) Moral inventory, (4) Confession, (5) Restitution, and (6) Continued work with other alcoholics.

It all sounds so simple and it is – once you get in the door, you dry out and come to.

Then the journey begins. And what a beautiful journey it has been the last year. I would not be here if not for the people I call family, in my life. I am grateful to be reminded of what matters, and why I serve my home group, because if I do not open the door, then people would have no where to go.

And for that I am responsible !!!

Christmas is right around the corner.

THERE ARE 15 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

Thanks for your time and support all these years.


Out of the Field they Come …

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They say the weather is going to change for the worse overnight and into tomorrow. The usual plans are now up in the air depending on whether or not the heavens open up and dump torrential rain upon us like out in the prairies.

Just thinking about torrential rain brings back terrible memories because of what happens to our city when it rains a little too much. Highways flood, streets flood. Our 1800’s drain system of the city become overwhelmed and water goes everywhere.

If we are lucky the church won’t flood like it did some time ago. Hopefully that much rain won’t fall, and we will escape the ills of the city along with mother nature.

It has been a quiet couple of days. Lots going on down south to which I am proud to witness in my lifetime. Not the balance of the U.S. states who DON’T have marriage equality, in my opinion, once the tidal wave begins will fall like dominoes and everybody will be a participant in being “equal” — still Florida does not have marriage equality so it matters not to me or my life at this point. So we can be hopeful of the future.

It was a breezy night and I arrived at the church with plenty of time to set up and enjoy the weather in the garden before the meeting. It is my belief that if we get one, or better yet two newcomers at the meeting, we get to do our jobs and do God’s work well.

As was the case tonight, new faces came and participated. As the meeting progressed and the shares began we learned a great deal about each other. And what we have learned is that there is a whole “other” group of people out there suffering in their addictions and one of our men is part of that grouping.

Sadly, I have to concur that there aren’t many open and affirming A.A. groups that openly support and welcome LGBTQ members. I have seen it in my own life.

And today I ONLY participate in groups that folks are Open and Affirming to ALL and not just Some.

I was sorry for them and inquired at the end of the meeting what I could do to help, hopefully we will see our new friend again and be able to reach out and minister to those who need it and are afraid of coming …

We shared on the run up to Step Three … “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.”

The notion of changing our lives, turning it over, letting go of ourselves and become interested in others, coming to know a Higher Power and allowing him to guide our lives from this point on.

But so many people get stuck here and some never move past the log jam. And this is all down to what the world, society, and religion has forced down our throats about who God is and what he will do to us if we err and sin …

I heard something that resonates … When one of our men came in and got to this point, his sponsor said this to him … God is God is God. However it falls, God is God. Find him in your own way and come to believe that He will help you if you are ready.

Group of Drunk
Going Out Doors Good Orderly Direction

It’s all the same thing. The biggest help that Bill and Bob gave to the fellowship come in one short sentence. “God … As we understood him.”

It opens the door to those who have had such issues with God that they can’t come to believe because of the hang ups. No two powers are the same. No two alcoholics are the same. But eventually we find a power greater than ourselves.

What is His Work, and how do we do it well ???

That line shows up on page 63 of the Big Book. In the beginning it was all down to service to a group. To begin rebuilding your life, you had to give of yourself at the group level and become Part Of so that you can become One Of.

Suit up, Show up and be one of many, instead of alone and lonely.

I’ve said in the past and I repeat it often that “PRESENCE” is the greatest gift we can give each other. The meeting before the meeting and the one that follows the meeting is very important to outreach and working with others.

I come early, I set up and make coffee so that when YOU show up, we can have a coffee and chat a bit and i can get to know you better. That’s the whole purpose of community. Man is not meant to be alone. But there are those out there who are alone, and it is always my hope that one day I could walk out into the field with my fellows and welcome and affirm folks who are out there suffering.

Changing Attitudes, Tuesday Beginners, and Sunday Niter’s, Vendome Beginners and North End English are ALL open, welcoming and affirming.

We will welcome you and be part of your lives. We have all known suffering and pain, and through our groups we will help you heal your souls.

That is what I believe that Jesus would have wanted us to do. Because He always did what was right in front of him, he never really had a plan, it all played out day to day. But he welcomed and affirmed. Loved and cared for the least.

And that is what we do too … What is in front of us.

Tonight we had work come, and show up, right in front of us. Hopefully the words we shared tonight will nest and foster our guys to come back and visit us again.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…