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Long Term Sobriety

Thursday … He Met the Founders

1000 yearsThis book, published some time ago, tells 20 stories. Men and Women who had fifty years of sobriety, at the time of publishing. A few years ago, a founder gave me his copy to read. It made a definite impact on my life and my sobriety.

Tonight, we heard a man who has more than fifty years of sobriety. I imagine that he is in his eighties now. It was a different time then. He grew up, lived, loved and worked in Montreal.

But most of all, he learned how to drink here as well.

He learned how to drink early, and back then, beer was 50 cents a quart.

The drink devastated his life in many ways.

You could have heard a pin drop tonight, because of his soft spoken voice, people in the back of the room, probably did not catch every word, as we who were sitting up front may have.

Jobs were a dime a dozen, in his words, “you could get fired one night, and by the next afternoon, you’d find another job.”

Try that, while you are binge drinking.

He met his wife at age 22. They were both 22 years old.

Before they got married, his parents tried to warn her off because of his drinking history. Her response to this information was … “well, we love each other.”

They imagined that this marriage wouldn’t break the six month mark.

Our couple was married for fifty two years and had several children.

But the marriage was almost lost. His wife, could not speak to him, to tell him her fears and concerns, so she wrote them down, telling him that she was going to take the children and leave, it came to pass, that is was because of his children that he finally put down the drink.

The first time he put down the drink for a number of years, he did it by himself.

You know where this is going right?

One night in St. Eustache, he was stuck in a snow storm, and walked into a hotel and had “A” drink. That drink led to a binge over several days.

Which facilitated his return, (well, his introduction to) the rooms.

He said there were only FIVE meetings in the city back then. The founders were opening meetings in the city. He said that he had met the FOUNDERS.

That would be Dave B. in Montreal, and Bill and Bob, respectively.

Dave B. founded the first A.A. meeting in Montreal, in the year 1944.

What does an OLD TIMER say about the program?

He gets on his knees every day. And he thanks his creator. If that was the only take away, that would be enough. It was because of his children’s prayers for him, that they had faith in him, that he finally got sober.

In sobriety, he got an engineering job in 1966, working for Mayor Drapeau, prior to the opening of EXPO 67. Then we got a pearl. One Pearl.

One night, he was working on site.

Ille Notre Dame, and Ille St. Helen, are man made islands, that sit in the middle of the St. Lawrence Seaway on the East end of the city. When they dug the Metro System, the rock and debris they dug for the system was then used to create these Islands. Truck after truck of debris was brought out night after night. They built the islands to house some of the EXPO 67 displays.

Which is where you see, today, the remnants of Expo 67, on the river. Habitat 67 is on the South shore of the river which you can see from the islands and Old Montreal.

So back to the story …

One night he was sitting on the island as trucks brought rock from the tunnels.

He looked up into a star filled sky, all alone, by himself, and he said two simple words …

” Thank You…”

You never know when an OLD timer is going to get up and speak. There are not many Montreal founders left. And when they come out, and speak, you listen. And you listen good.

We’ve got a number of young people who are periphery squatters.

Those kids who come in at the last minute, sit in the back, and at the end, they are the first ones out the door. If this man, of more than fifty years of sobriety can stay sober, they can stay sober.

I hope for them, at least, that they got that message.

Many of our folks will never see fifty years sober. That is just a life fact for some.

Tonight we all were very grateful for the simple message, in very few words.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … It Is COLD !!! … If You are Breathing, You have a Chance …

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclearCourtesy: James Clear Flickr

Boy, is it FRIGID outside tonight. We are sitting at (-15c/-21c w.c.). We got a little snow, and city workers, are tonight, hurriedly trying to clear snow from the streets. There is good news coming in the way of positive numbers beginning on Sunday with a trend moving from Zero to plus (+7c) by Wednesday next week.

That warmth cannot come sooner, as February was the coldest month on record here in the city.

Yesterday I welcomed a friend back from the U.S., the long nightmare that was Pittsburgh is over.

We had lunch, did some shopping, and sorted out various things that he needed to do so that he can reconnect with the community here. I had not been to the core malls in some time, so while we were there yesterday, we happened into Indigo Book sellers. and I invested in the next two books by Kathy Reichs, in the Temperance Brennan series, and last night, I could not get to bed early enough to start reading them.

Today was quiet. I was sleeping, and at one point, the same dream scene kept repeating itself over and over again, so I knew it was time to get out of bed, to try and reset the cycle. As I can only sit so long in front of this box, I spent some time surfing and stuff like that, and when I completed my circuit, I had two hours before I needed to get ready to go… I went back to bed for a short run.

Winter has not been kind to our folks. They are choosing to stay home, instead of venturing out in this frigid weather. I’ve been noting as well, some of our old timers have been MIA for a while. Which is out of character for some of them.

One of those men, returned to the fold this evening. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and I was starting to worry about him. Weren’t we all surprised when he got up there and spoke.

My friend has a number of years in, twenty seven to be exact.

For a while now, having listened to old timers talk and share at meetings, I know some things about them. Each of them approach the program differently. No two of them do it the same way, and I’ve written here, recently about folks who are just comfortable to warm a chair and occupy space.

If you hit enough meetings, and listen well, you sometimes get nuggets of wisdom, here and there.

I’ve talked to my friend who spoke tonight, in great depth over the months that have passed, and asked him why some folks, have put down their roots and roost where they are, and others keep to the notion that there is always something new to learn, and if you have the time to invest, they why not do that ?

While we were out there, most people have experiences of certain individuals who step in and stop us in our tracks which begins the slow grind out of hell, into life. As was the case for my friend.

He was working in a hospital, barely hanging on to life, trying to dry out after another ritual alcohol infused dance with massive amounts of cocaine trip. He was ordered to get a medical check up by his boss. So he goes to this office and sits down, as the doctor has his back to him. He, “the doctor” turns around and looks at my friend squarely and without skipping a beat says quite bluntly …

“Alcohol and Cocaine huh !!! ” Exclamation point …

He had not set eyes on my friend, nor knew his state. But he pegged him substance for substance.

That doctor knew him and began to sort him out and get him help.

The doctor tells him emphatically …

“You go and talk to this guy, do it now, Do it now, DO IT NOW !!!”

In a few months time, and after a few ins and outs, the miracle happened.

  • The admission of powerlessness over his chosen substances
  • The realization that there was a kernel of faith inside of him from his childhood
  • And that that Power Greater than himself could actually help him

This was another example that most of us are either born into – or are educated in, some kind of faith background. And for some of us, when we come in, are provided the grace to be able to appreciate it for what it was and is, and allow that grace to save us.

I am very keen to know and to learn perspective from my long sober friends.

That kind of dictates or allows me to see where I am in the grand scheme of things. I’m not just walking around aimlessly not doing anything with my time. That I am, in fact, using my time properly, I’m invested in my own sobriety, and I am invested in the lives of my friends at large, and then, on a daily basis, I am invested in the lives of the guys I work with.

Constant. Daily, By The Book.

My friend tells us that “If we are alive, and breathing, we have a chance to live a life of our wildest dreams, in the program.” Simply, “if you are breathing, YOU have a chance !!!” Exclamation point !

You never know when God is going to step in and sort you out. Be mindful.

In my life, God, or angels, or particular people, stepped in when I most needed it and gave me a chance to get out of hell and get sorted out and clean up my life. When that happened in my life, it was not by my own steam, or by my choice, in those cases, it was divinely ordained. There are no two ways about that.

My friend tonight, had that same experience, when he most needed help.

God stepped in and rescued him from hell.

One day at a time, this past January, he celebrated twenty seven years sober. And in April, he will turn sixty six years young, Some old timers, with oodles of time, have aged very gracefully.

Others, not so much.

I remember the words spoken by another long sober member here …

CONSTANT VIGILANCE !!!

Alcohol and drugs are pernicious, patient and deadly.

If you go back out, it is a foregone conclusion that you will return to where ever you left off, when you quit, and will wind up in a much bigger jackpot that you could have imagined.

Meetings, Prayer, Meditation, Working with Others …

When you come to us, you get the recipe for life. My friend lives in that recipe.

i want men like him in my life, because they challenge me to cook.

What are you cooking ???

More to come, stay tuned …