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Marriage

Sunday Sundries … Trudging

tumblr_lybtza3QzS1qjldjvo1_500 jackanthonyCourtesy: Jack Anthony (Archives)

June and July are Pride months around the world. Pride this year is ever so much more festive because of just how forwards many places in the world have become. The last year alone we have seen LGBT people recognized and laws changed and also how the perception of the gay community has changed.

However, that is not the norm in many places. Jail and death are the norm for some places who punish our LGBT people for being who they are. We’ve seen atrocities perpetrated in the name of religion in the Middle East. It’s abominable how some pervert the religion of many to suit their extremist ideas.

For many, in many places, we should be grateful for small mercies that we live where we live, and are for the present, free from being thrown from atop a building or imprisoned for who God created us to be.

The marriage business just got a huge boost in business this weekend.

The great thing about providing services to LGBT people is that we know how to spend money. And when it comes to love, marriage or any celebration, we tend to go ALL OUT.

It’s a pity that some are still so ignorant and stupid when it comes down to belief and practice.

I heard someone say, a few days ago that Gays and Lesbians now have the right to be as happy or as miserable as their straight counterparts.

Also that Marriage is not for everyone.

Committing to another human being is not a fly by night decision. For me, my marriage was a celebration of humanity. My husbands humanity. It was a celebration that he was still whole after months of treatment for his Bi-Polar situation.

I was telling a friend earlier tonight, because he inquired about hubby, that he was indeed well, and I explained that a bit further. The man I met and fell in love with was not the same man I ended up with, after doctors treated him, quite successfully for his condition. But that treatment was not kind and changed him from day to night.

I accepted that. Because I was not going to leave him when he needed me the most. So when he got up, we celebrated with family and friends.

Marriage was not something we took lightly. And God knows, He tested us to make sure this was what we wanted. Life threw us the cards and we played. More than ten years later, we do not take a single day for granted.
Marriage has changed the face of gay life. There are some who still run on the Grindr system and flirt with people and live inside frenetic sexual exploration. Never to settle down and have a solid relationship. We’ve had to educate ourselves on just what it means to settle down, and be ok with that in the long term. (My God, you mean I have to settle for having sex with just one person for the rest of my life ???) What happens to the local gay bar, if there are no single and happy with that crowd? There are plenty of APPS for that.

I loved working in the bar when I did, because of the people, not necessarily about the hunt. Meeting hubby was a one off occurrence. If we were off by seconds, we might have missed that perfect opportunity.

I would never enter the market again, should anything ever happen to either one of us.

LGBT folks all over the world are giving credence to our ability to settle down, become responsible and learning to love just one man or woman.

NOT ALL OF US THINK WITH OUR CROTCHES. AND WE DON’T LIVE IN OUR BEDS FUCKING DAY AND NIGHT, JUST TO PROVE A POINT !!!

Funny, all those wingnuts who believe that all we do is have sex, are so misguided. I wonder if they secretly long to be in our bedrooms watching to see if having sex is all we do, because they fixate on sex so much, their husbands and wives must be pretty sexually boring.

If only they really knew the truth.

It’s not all about sex at all.

The LGBT community needs to teach the world just what we mean and how we live with each other, in unity and love. We need to stand up and be counted. To attest that love is possible and marriage is something we take seriously, and that we can raise children just as well as our straight counterparts.

Because we know just how well straight people raise their children right?

  • They toss their kids in the street.
  • They send them away to be REPROGRAMMED
  • Some kids are physically and sexually abused
  • The drive to make money, supersedes the desire to be a parent
  • Kids are ignored or starved
  • They go to bed hungry at night, some have very little clothing

These are not generalizations, they are facts, based on what we see everyday or in print or on TV.

Can you imagine that we, LGBT people, would  treat our kids the way WE were treated when we were kids? Do you think we would perpetuate the shit we saw from our parents or our communities?

We think NOT !

We shall see just who wins the argument on what sexual model best raises their children.

In the end, I know for a fact, that there are adults out there, who should never have gotten married in the first place, let alone have children. There are many of us out here, who know that they are gifts from God, having been raised by parents that did what they did to us. We might not have been created out of the best situations, but nonetheless we are here.

The least we can do, is to never raise children under that same model.

The world has shown us how kids have been raised. The picture isn’t pretty.

Just a few thoughts for Sunday …

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – The After Party

Do you believe in Love

“… Then too, damaging emotional conflicts persist below the level of consciousness, very deep, sometimes quite forgotten. Therefore, we should try hard to recall and review those past events which originally induced these conflicts and which continue to give our emotions violent twists, thus discoloring our personalities and altering our lives for the worse.”

This passage, from tonight’s A.B.S.I. is taken from the Twelve and Twelve, and it speaks towards Step Eight … Making that list you are going to use for Step Nine … The Amends.

The first step to make, in this effort, in my belief, is to forgive ones self. After probable years of self hatred, self abuse, self loathing, and beating ones self up with the drink, or drugs, we have come to the point, if we are IN our steps, that we have decided to get clean and sober.

But with that decision, comes a second decision we must make, in order to get better. And that is to take ourselves to task for what we have done, what others have done to us, and how we feel about those two factors.

I was talking to my friends after the meeting about these decisions. If we take these steps and we are moving towards completing our steps, we must be prepared for whatever emotions come up, whenever they come up and deal with them, (however we are able, at whatever stage of sobriety we are, at that point) This is not the easier softer way for most of us.

Dealing with the wreckage of our pasts, for some, as it was said tonight, creates for many, a state of P.T.S.D. about our addiction as it played out. Now we decided to get sober.

The deal is, that we don’t run back to the bottle or the drugs when things get tough. I want so badly for some of my friends to walk forwards and just DO IT.

That means the rest of us have to step up, get off our asses and DO SOMETHING.

If people, men or women, don’t have proper support, 24 / 7 then what good are we to our fellows? I did what I had to do to get better. And God provided me with opportunities to be present, and I take that responsibility very seriously.

It went as it was going to go. This reading brings up specific feelings about the past and many of us spoke to this issue. I was not the only human being in the room tonight, who has heartache and may not be able to properly complete my (read: our) steps a full 100%.

In the end I spoke my piece, not to seek pity or a love fest, but there are very few topics in my life today that spike me into un-sober behavior. This reading speaks, also, to emotional sobriety, which was also brought up tonight.

There are days and holidays which I work very hard to get through, and not loose my composure and I teeter on the edge of a cliff of un-sober thinking, acting and speaking. Steps Eight and Nine, for me, are sore subjects, because I will never get the resolution I am looking for because I have learned and come to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.

At the end of the meeting, I was standing outside with friends, and the meeting matriarch came out and stood in front of me and looked me in the eyes as she hugged me, saying that I was a wonderful human being. I was almost driven to tears, because I knew what she was trying to tell me and show me, one human to another.

I love my friends. They make all of this possible. My friends have my back and I have theirs. I’ve said before that where else could one go to be loved so much and someone there for you when ever you need them to be?

We are totally blessed.

I am 47 years old and today the United States made history. Gay marriage is legal across the United States. So many Republicans and Preachers have the sadz …

The evangelic base is stirring like hornets. And the battle lines have been drawn. Obama Care and Gay Marriage are the wedge issues that are going to fire up those hell bent voters who disagree with both decisions, as the White House celebrate their winning streak.

Those wily homosexuals got their win today. And you can take that to the bank.

In the end LOVE WON.

All we want is to be recognized legally. And like a friend said earlier today, now everybody can be as happy or as miserable as the rest of those who have marriage rights. Divorce happens on both sides of the fence. Now the gays can do the same.

But I know, most gay folks put straight folks to shame when it comes to marriage.

We do marriage right, we do planning right, we get the flowers right, and we get the music right. Many old timer couples have been together much longer than their straight counterparts. NOW it is legal for their unions to be recognized by the constitution.

We will see who wins this argument in the coming years.

Heterosexual divorce is up there in numbers. I encourage my gay and lesbian friends to put those straight people to shame. We will show you just how good we do marriage.

Well Done Supreme Court.

It was Great day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Supreme Court affirms right to gay marriage

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Supreme Court affirms right to gay marriage 

The Supreme Court has found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, striking down bans in 14 states and handing a historic victory to the gay rights movement that would have been unthinkable just 10 years ago.

Anthony Kennedy, a conservative justice who has broken with his ideological colleagues to author several decisions expanding rights for LGBT people, again sided with the court’s four liberals to strike down the state bans. The 5-4 majority ruled that preventing same-sex people from marrying violated their constitutional right to due process under the 14th Amendment and that the states were unable to put forth a compelling reason to withhold that right from people.

“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” Kennedy wrote of same-sex couples. “Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves.”

“They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law,” he continued. “The Constitution grants them that right.”

The United States is now just the 21st country in the world to allow same-sex marriage in every jurisdiction.

Chief Justice John Roberts read a stinging dissent from the bench, as Kennedy sat beside him, his hand on his chin. “Five lawyers have closed the debate and enacted their own vision of marriage as a matter of constitutional law,” he wrote. “Stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.”

Roberts told same-sex couples they could “celebrate today’s decision,” even though he disagreed with it so strongly.

“Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits,” he wrote. “But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Despite Roberts’ harsh words, people in the courtroom were all smiles as they poured out onto the steps after the decision. Some wiped tears from their eyes.

In oral arguments last April, Kennedy expressed reservations about changing the traditional definition of marriage to include LGBT people and seemed to suggest that the court should allow the American public to continue debating the relatively new concept.

“The word that keeps coming back to me in this case is millennia,” he said then, referencing the amount of time societies had considered marriage to be only between a man and a woman.

But Kennedy was swayed by the fact that hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples already exist and that they — and their children — are being treated differently by the law when they move to a state that doesn’t recognize their union. The states in the case also had trouble articulating why they had a compelling reason to deny that recognition, saying only that it was in the interest of children to only allow couples of the opposite sex to marry.

The decision came just two years after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government could no longer refuse to recognize married same-sex couples who lived in the handful of states that had legalized their unions. That decision, also written by Kennedy, caused a cascade of lower court decisions striking down state same-sex marriage bans, and now 36 states allow same-sex marriage. Public opinion on gay marriage has changed at lightning speed as well: 60 percent of Americans support it, compared with just 37 percent 10 years ago.

This transformative opinion will most likely continue the trend toward greater acceptance of LGBT people around the country, as the highest court of the land has ruled that same-sex unions are legitimate and lawful everywhere.

Even with the landmark decision, however, support for gay marriage has been almost nonexistent among elected Republican officials, whose positions on the issue likely will not change overnight. To date, no major Republican presidential candidate has endorsed marriage equality. Many 2016 GOP candidates even struggled with the question of whether or not they would attend a gay wedding.

Despite public opposition, many Republican operatives privately have suggested that court rulings favorable to gay marriage are a blessing in disguise for GOP politicians. With the judicial system expanding gay rights, the courts have eased the burden on the legislative and executive branches, removing pressure for them to act proactively on marriage equality policy.

The opinion is a big win for the Obama administration, which is already flying high after the Supreme Court batted down a potentially fatal challenge to the Affordable Care Act on Thursday. The president came out in favor of same-sex marriage in 2012.

Friday’s ruling also could have a big effect on religious institutions that have maintained their opposition to same-sex marriage. Religious schools that refuse to provide housing for same-sex couples could face lawsuits and lose their tax-exempt status, for example. (Religious clergy will not have to marry same-sex couples, however.) Some states will most likely respond to this ruling by attempting to pass legislation to exempt people who oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds, such as the controversial Indiana law that passed in March.

The gay rights movement, meanwhile, will move on to employment discrimination. Activists want a federal law that forbids discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation.

Gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry immediately in the four states named in the case — Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Michigan. There may be a delay of a few days or weeks for same-sex marriage to be legal in the remaining states with bans, since lower courts will have to apply the opinion to them.


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 – Shoots and Buds

tumblr_lrhaqa79eH1qelkcko1_500 benc0baneCourtesy: Benc0bane

If you are going to jump out of a plane, do it with your friends.

This weekend we celebrated the marriage of one of our men to his wife. The thought of marriage was not his first thought when he got here. Among family and friends they shared their vows, and today was their first day of married life.

It could not have happened to a better friend.

The month of May is a very busy in sober land. The first push of sober events begin next weekend, with the Spring Men’s Intensive in Vermont. We will be leaving Friday afternoon, returning on Sunday.

Later in the month, we have the Pioneer’s Roundup and the weekend following is the West Island Round Up. Kind of a One Two Punch of sober experience, strength and hope coming from all over the map.

I have said that the Spring offensives have begun in earnest. People marching in the streets will be the norm for the months to come. Last night they marched Westward through the downtown core, today they marched Eastward for the March against the Armenian Genocide.

I left just in time to see the parade step off not far from home, I was traveling against the tide. A solemn memorial then took place further down into the core.

I’ve been noticing all the shoots and buds that have been appearing in gardens, on bushes and trees. Little by slowly, Montreal is greening up. On my walk to the church we walk through a row of condos, and all of their gardens are coming to life. New flowering plants, the bushes and slowly slowly, the hundred year trees are beginning to bud out.

The trees in the church yard were struck with the blight last fall, so the leaves dropped dead and did not color. Hopefully the long cold winter has killed whatever bug is going around the tree tops.

There were signs on the church door when I arrived this evening, “Le Petite Chanteurs de Montreal” were performing this afternoon. (The Little Singers of Montreal) The BEST youth choir in all of the city. They performed a few months ago and today kicked off their summer tour, which will take them from Montreal to Europe this summer.

In the end, it all came together. We swapped the kids out and restored the hall to normalcy and we had our meeting, albeit a much smaller crowd, because you know, the weather is good, and there was hockey on tap, which gives anyone who enjoys hockey a pass for anything other than the great game.

This week is also auspicious because it is May anniversary sweep for my guys. Today we celebrated one six month anniversary. He survived a terribly stressful trip to Europe that did not end well, because of immigration issues. In the end he navigated the swells, he didn’t drink, and he got back to Montreal eventually, after several trips between Vienna and Frankfurt to sort out his paperwork and passport.

It was a nightmare …

Tomorrow we celebrate a three year anniversary at the M.A. meeting with another one of my guys. I was going to say Friday as well, but I won’t be here on Friday. Oh well.

It was a small meeting and we read a couple of short stories from Experience, Strength and Hope. The sense of gratitude for the first 100 folks who got sober, did it by the skin of their teeth and through fellowship with the suffering alcoholic, affords us the opportunity to read their stories, the first stories, and how they got by in the hardest of times, World War One, the Great Depression.

If it weren’t for them, we would not have what we have today.

It was a good night.

More to come, stay tuned…


Thursday … Let’s Start with this …

tumblr_lcxi09wRjw1qzizdco1_500Right now it is (-3c with a wind chill of -11c) … And it was bitterly windy and cold outside tonight.

It is a momentous day today. And it was a very productive day today.

I was up very early this morning, with a plan in mind to get many things done early and have the afternoon free to fart around. I made one phone call to make a hair appointment, that I wanted in the morning, because, like I said, I was up already. What I got was a 2 p.m. appointment, which shifted my morning into the afternoon, because I wanted to make one trip and not several.

I thought about going back to bed, but thought better. Today is our tenth wedding anniversary, and I wanted to do something special, since tonight and tomorrow night I am busy.

I trashed an old monitor that’s been sitting in the living room gathering dust. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, since it is electronic, so I dumped it in the basement for the super to take care of. Then I cleaned up the apartment, and decided that I would put the Christmas Tree up.

I un-crated the tree and put it up, and loaded it up with lots of lights. We usually wait until the first snow to put the tree up. And it’s not so much a bother really, so that is a thing…

I went and did my grocery shopping early on.

I had to fill a few hours of time, I usually loathe daytime television. And I am finding that the massive amount of “stupid news” in the news is beginning to get on my nerves. I wish there was another page I could assign as my homepage instead of Yahoo or Bing or BBC. UGH !!!

My take on the news is this … If it ain’t Canadian, It’s not my bother… And most of that shit news is coming from all points south. But the Canadian Yahoo picks up every stupid news story that comes across the wire on any given day.

I mean really, people are being denied marriage rights in the states and with the push of marriage equality coming to South Carolina, we’ve broken into the RED south. And as of a few days ago, Charles Manson, was given a fucking marriage license to marry some tart who is trying to exonerate a killer who is in prison for life, and some say she is “smart???”

Let’s deny marriage rights to gays, yet let’s give a murderer a marriage license !!!

The world is seriously coming to an end me thinks …

I got prepped to go early, I really did not have a plan in mind, besides getting my hair cut. So I headed out to the mall with plenty of time. My favorite card store was having a sale on Christmas Cards, and I needed a card for hubby, so that was stop one. This year I was smart, I bought regular sized cards, and not those micro cards that aren’t mailable.

I saw a commercial on tv for this great little griller from T-Fal. It would make a great little Christmas present. So stop two was Canadian Tire. I was terribly disappointed to see that that little gift was running a whopping $300.00 !!! Certainly out of my price range.

I went and looked at decorations, like we need more? We have a huge box of baubles that we have collected over the years and we really don’t have any extra room for another storage box for more baubles.

I went and had some lunch. My one guilty pleasure, fatty, fast food. It was good !!!

Finally I made my hair appointment. It was pretty cut and dry. High and tight, just like Papi !!!

I’ve seen many variations on this haircut, and it seems to be the most popular cut as of late.

I made my way home with a couple hours to waste before my evening departure.

When the sun went down, the temp’s plummeted. But it wasn’t as cold, early on, as it was on the way home. They have rerouted sidewalk traffic up the block, because workers have dug up the entire walkway in front of the Forum, and they created a pedestrian lane counter traffic with big cement barricades.

I got to the church. There is a nice blanket of snow on the yard. I am sure this will be a good first layer of snow, that will now pile up over the winter. The shrubbery by the main door is covered in snow.
We sat a small group. And the writing is on the wall. We won’t be going into December. I now have both keys, to turn in for their deposits, $25.00 a head. And I am slowly redirecting supplies to other meetings, since others can use them so we don’t have to bring them home and store them.

We don’t have very much in the way of supplies, but we do have a $65.00 coffee urn that will go into storage. And the literature as well. I might just donate it to the other house meetings. They will go to good use.

We talked about self acceptance, which lead back around to page 417.

Acceptance is the KEY to ALL my problems.

It was a nice little discussion. We walked home, and it was bitter.

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

evils-wedding-13So monumental day today… Ten years ago today, hubby and I were married in front of family and friends, at the Loyola Chapel on the Loyola Campus of Concordia University. It was the most responsible decision I have ever made in my life. We made a good choice. Marriage is a good thing.

I don’t see why some people in America can’t support marriage equality for every one. But like I said above, it ain’t Canadian, so why bother? Another great reason I left the U.S. when I did, because I have certainly more rights and privileges and a better life than had I stayed down there.

Life is beautiful, Marriage is beautiful. Family is beautiful. I could not have asked for more.

That was the day as it happened.

More to come, stay tuned …


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 …


Gratitude for the Wives

loisbwilsonLois Burnham Wilson

 

 

“I believe that people are good if you give them half a chance and that good is more powerful than evil. The world seems to me excruciatingly, almost painfully beautiful at times, and the goodness and kindness of people often exceed that which even I expect.”

Lois Burnham Wilson

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

“… And, speaking for Dr. Bob and myself, I gratefully declare that had it not been for our wives, Anne and Lois, neither of us could have lived to see A.A.’s beginning …”

As Bill Sees It, Page 67

…The Burnhams taught their children to be thoughtful and caring of others and to be of use in the world. The impressions of her home life are ones of excitement and lots of fun. Lois was particularly adventuresome and cared little for how she looked and was often referred to as a “tomboy.”

      This aspect of her personality was given its fullest expression during the Burnhams long sojourns in southern Vermont. Each year, the family spent half a year in the Manchester, Vermont area where Dr. Burnham’s New York patients also spent long periods. Her parents were fully part of the upper-class social life there and were friends with many well-known people of the day, including Abraham Lincoln’s son whose children were among the younger Burnham’s playmates.

One of the children the Burnham’s played with, especially Rogers, was a boy who came each summer with his prominent family from Albany, New York. His name was Edwin or “Ebby” Thacher who would also become a close friend of Lois’ future husband, Bill Wilson, and be instrumental in Bill’s getting sober.

      Rogers also found a pal in Bill Wilson, and in 1913 introduced him to his sister. Lois was over four years older than Bill, and being 22 at the time, did not regard him as anything other than her brother’s friend. But as the summers went on, she and Bill more and more found many common interests and gradually fell in love. They were both intelligent, athletic and fun-loving. Lois encouraged Bill at his studies and thought him to be a most remarkable young man. Her family shared this assessment. And so, in 1915, the couple became secretly engaged and married on January 24, 1918, just days before young officer Wilson shipped off to Europe in the First World War.

      When Lois married Bill, she wed an upstanding young man of good character filled with exciting ideas about his future. What Lois did not marry was a drinker. On the contrary, Bill has a disdain for liquor partly because he believed it had played a part in his parents separation and divorce. It was a great shock to Lois some months later when, visiting her husband at his New Bedford, Massachusetts station, his soldier friends told her about Bill getting so drunk one night they had to carry him back to barracks. Lois could not believe they were speaking of her husband.

      Bill shipped off to England, and Lois found work as an occupational therapist. As an educated woman, Lois believed in being independent and making her own living. She worked at the YWCA and was promoted several times within the organization leaving in 1917 to assist in a school her aunt had established in Short Hills, New Jersey. She left that position to marry Bill.

      When Bill returned from the war, Lois hoped to start the family she always wanted. However, a series of miscarriages made childbearing impossible. This was a devastation for her. All Lois wanted out of life was a family and a home. Now she would not have the family. She and Bill tried to adopt, but they were unsuccessful. She later found out why – agencies performing routine background checks would eventually be told about Bill. Stories about his drinking would surface and be enough to make adoption impossible as well.

      Bill’s drinking alarmed Lois very much. At first, she tried not to be concerned, but his drinking progressed during the early years of marriage to the point where he would see all his ambitions dashed and his wonderful opportunities for employment and advancement shattered. He became a broken man who eventually had to seek refuge with his wife in the house of his in-laws.

      Lois employed many tactics over the years to help Bill get sober. She really thought she would be able to help him stop drinking. She would realize later how futile this was. Bill did stop in 1934, but it was not due to the efforts of his wife.

      In 1939, Bill and Lois were forced to leave the Burnham’s house. Her father and mother had died, and the Wilsons could not afford to go anywhere except to the homes of various friends which they did for the following two years. Over the years, Lois had been the breadwinner bringing in a modest income from her work in department stores as a decorator and also from her consultations with private clients. While working at Macy’s she wrote an article on veneered furniture that was published by the popular House and Garden magazine.

      Living as Lois once wrote “from pillar to post” was difficult for Lois. Not having children was a deep loss, and now, not to have a home was quite painful. She did her best and maintained her dignity throughout the ordeal but sometimes despaired that they might be homeless for a very long time.

      But in 1941 an extraordinary thing happened. A generous offer was made by an acquaintance for the Wilsons to purchase a home in Westchester County. Due to this magnanimous gesture, the Wilsons moved into their first and only real home — Stepping Stones in Bedford Hills, New York. It took them 23 years, but they finally had a home of their own.

      In 1951, Lois followed the suggestion made by her husband who had crafted the 12 steps of recovery in Alcoholics Anonymous to create a similar 12-step program for the family and friends of alcoholics. In truth, there had been several family groups around the country that Bill had become aware of and Anne Smith, wife of AA co-founder Dr. Bob, had been involved in working with wives and families from the very first…

… Working from Lois’ upstairs desk at Stepping Stones, Lois and Anne B., a nearby friend whose husband was in AA, wrote to 87 non-alcoholics who had written to AA asking for information about alcoholism. The letters had come from the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Australia and South Africa. Forty-eight people wrote back and eventually the organization known as the Al-Anon Family Groups was formed. It now has over 29,000 groups worldwide and a membership of over 387,000.

      Lois Wilson died on October 6, 1988 at 97 years old. She was present and energetic throughout her latter years and enjoyed good health for most of them. She wanted to live to be 100 and almost did.

      Lois was one of the 20th century’s most important women. Her life has been somewhat overshadowed by that of her husband, but, in recent years, she has emerged more visible than before for her unique contribution to humanity. It is through her tireless efforts and vision that Al-Anon is the strong organization it is today and why it continues to attract members through its message of hope and renewal.

 

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

In the history of the fellowship we read the stories of Bill and Dr. Bob, their wives and the first hundreds of folks that they worked with wholeheartedly and with the only desire to help them achieve sobriety, behind every drunk, stands his wife.

Many of the stories we read from the back of the book historians write about failed marriages and separations. You don’t really ever hear the word “divorce” very much, and as I sit and think about it, I don’t ever remember coming upon that word as yet in our reading on Sunday’s.

There is something to be said about Love and Marriage. I think about these actions and sentiments as a backdrop to my own life as it was lived.

We all know what the history books say about each decade as it happened. The 20’s,30’s,40’s and beyond. Things were very hard. Survival was paramount during a time when there was not really all that much to hold on to.

It isn’t until you speak your vows to your beloved that they begin to manifest. For myself, I got some good practice in, prior to our marriage in 2004.

In my history, couples married for life. Talk of separation or divorce did not enter my lexicon until I was a teen ager. All of the wives in my family were long suffered. All of the men in those marriages were drinkers. Nobody said a word. Nobody dared speak out or even consider leaving, because where would the women go in any case, and with what/who’s money?

There are several texts “Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers,” “Pass it On,” and “Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age,” all of these books tell the back stories of the fellowship, where it came from, who was part of it, how it came to be, and finally where it finally went when Bill stepped away.

The reading tonight spoke of Founders. And in this reading Bill writes that he wished that he could remove the word “Founder” all together. But to this day June 10, is marked in Akron as the day (June 10, 1935) Bill and Dr. Bob set out to find the best way to reform alcoholics and A.A. was born.

In the beginning jobs were hard to come by, and owning a family home only happened for those who could afford it or were born into it. Back in Old New York, there are images in print of the places that Bill and Dr. Bob lived. And how their wives played a crucial role in the rehabilitation of the alcoholic who still suffers.

And you might imagine, a kitchen, complete with dining table and chairs and fair sitting rooms and bedrooms housing assorted drunks from town. While Bill pounded the pavement and tried sobering up the masses, The likes of Anne and Lois, busied themselves with jobs, AND cooking, cleaning and serving those who came to their homes. Imagine what that must have looked like in the 30’s and 40’s.

I can see it in my mind’s eye … Kitchens in the houses of my grandmothers. You actually ate in the kitchen at the table. My aunt had a very small kitchen and we ate in a dining room off to the side.

But just imagine what it looked like, opening your home to complete strangers, if only to help your husband sober them up and put them on the path. And from what we read in the history, the numbers were not very good. The odds FOR sobriety were pretty slim.

There were a handful of women who played a crucial role in the lives of the men who brought the program of recovery to fruition. There was something very solid in how the wives of Bill, Bob and assorted other characters stuck and stayed. It was not easy, by any stretch of the imagination.

Bill and Bob eventually got sober. I imagine in my minds eye, the conversations going on in the kitchens of many women together and by themselves, about their husbands, and just how they would like them to get sober, and how they were going to do that. The men eventually got sober, but not because of their wives.

In How it Works, it states that “We are not saints…” Both Bill and Bob had their assorted issues. And if you have ever seen the documentary, “Bill W,” I will only say that Lois was a rock star, in every stage of Bills life.

It WAS important, the roles those wives played in the maintenance of home, family, marriage and love.

Love the one you are with, and be grateful for their presence in your life today. It matter so much more when you have someone who loves you in your life, who supports you and wants the best for you.

Lois and Anne were those kind of women.


Wisdom sets In … Motives … It takes Two to Tango

maybeThe city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

I guess I was right when I said last night that wisdom usually follows a question, and so it has. I sent an email to my sponsor last night before I went to bed, and he followed up with a call today to speak about what I wrote him. He said I did the right thing in opening communication, stating that I was long sober now and that I / we are getting old to harbor such resentments.

Every human being wants to be seen.

Every human being wants to be acknowledged.

Every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

So looking back on yesterdays post, the question that was posed tonight was, what are our motives and why do we do certain things? Beyond simple connection, my motives are certainly self centered. To make waves, to be petulant and to point fingers.

We, as alcoholics have done damage to others, for the most part, we try to avoid and not see our part in these damages.

Children of abusive alcoholics are certainly victims of indignities beyond their control.

So that is a thing.

When you tell a child that he was a mistake and should never have been born, you damage that child. When you beat that same child into submission continuously, you damage that child.

When that child grows up, he has learned that he was a mistake. That he should not be here, and that takes a toll on that person. And when you follow up that indignity with verbal abuse that he is an abomination and that (having contracted AIDS and is mortally sick) you remind that person that they are less than and that they should die already, what do you think goes through the mind of that person?

When I got sick, I, In turn got sober. I was doing the best I could with what I had. I was young, and I was dying. So I thought. The doctors certainly thought that. When family turns their back on you and humiliates you in front of others, that is an indignity.

I made several decisions during my first sober period that were all about me. I really did not have a sponsor, Puddles had moved to California so I was on my own then. What did I know about sober decisions and correctly motivated actions? First, I made a certain decision about my brothers wedding and I was only thinking about myself. I hurt some people in this process.

I would never be forgiven for that, to this day.

My parents lived in Sarasota and my father would come to Miami on business and he would visit me, only to remind me how abominable I was and that I should die already and leave the family once and for all, because I was unacceptable and an abomination.

One particular night he was in rare form after sharing dinner together, and he started in on me and I asked him to stop the car ( On the Highway) I got out of said car and told him never to come back and visit me until he grew up.

I walked away, down the highway and walked all the way home by myself.

You see my father fought in Viet Nam, (and he fell in love). That soldier was killed in action, Who knew from gay in the 1960’s. My father named me after a dead soldier. He abused me and beat me telling me that I was mistake. I realized that I, as a gay, infected man, would never live up to the honor of that dead soldier. Hence the name change.

Some time later I had a spiritual experience. It came and I acted on it. Again, another decision made in “all about me” mode. I must have been 28 or 29. I went to legal aide, spoke to a lawyer and soon after I had legally changed my name. I was going to reclaim myself once and for all so that whatever life I was going to have, would be of my creation. I would kill that person my father thought was a mistake.

So that is a thing. 

It was a complete dagger to my parents hearts.

My father, the man who for years abused me and degraded me, telling me that I was mistake, would get his comeuppance. I would have the last word for his indignity.

I went on with my life. I survived …

A long time ago, my soldier father met a Quebecois woman, (my mother) they got it on in a drive in theatre in a Ford GTO. And she got pregnant. My ultra Catholic grandparents most likely forced him to marry her because she was carrying his child.

My father buried a secret that I learned about throughout my life. He hated Gay, because he was a heterosexual man with homosexual leanings, and that was abominable to him. Internalized homophobia …

The dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.

She was STILL a CANADIAN when she had me and my brother.

In 1967 they were married, with me in the oven, at the wedding. I was born in July of 1967. My brother followed in 1970. My father wanted to purge every Canadian family member, ritual, tradition, and way of life from her. He would make her a God fearing, Blood thirsty American, if it was the last thing he would do.

My mother was naturalized in 1974, and became an American.

Fade to black …

Years later we came upon a lie about their actual wedding date. We were told they were married in 1965, and I was born in 1967. And we happened on that lie when on their 25th wedding anniversary, we bought a gift, had it engraved, only to learn the dates were wrong.

Hmmm…

I always say “Never lie to your children, because eventually those lies will come out.”

I stayed sober through my 4th anniversary. And followed several of my friends out the door and into my slip. I came back to Miami in 2000. I had a job that paid cash. I had a studio apartment just off the beach, on Miami Beach. My parents were really not a part of my life, unless they chose to be because I was a faggot with AIDS and an abomination.

When I got sick, they turned their backs on me. And humiliated me.

They had humiliated me in front of guests at a Christmas dinner a year before and I swore that I would never darken their door again. My mother accused me of indignities she thought I had committed on someone I met only once.

On New Years Eve 2000 – into 2001, I was working in a bar doing lights. I went into work at 7 pm on New Years Eve and left work around 8 am the next morning with a mound of cash in my wallet. I went to bed and soon after my phone rang, it was my mother on the phone, telling me that they were in Miami and wanted to see me. (They had been here for a week, but only decided to contact me on their way out of town).

I was happy to oblige. They showed up a short time later. My father parked the car in a no parking zone out front of my building and gave me twenty minutes to speak to my mother. We walked around the short block, while he waited in the car. I even offered to take us all out for breakfast, which they categorically said NO to.

Twenty minutes later, my mother got in the car, they drove off and that was the last time I saw my mother.

So that is a thing

In December 2001, I got sober the second time. I was given a computer which led to my meeting people here in Canada. One thing led to another and I received a letter from Canada stating that If I was born between certain dates, and my mother was a Canadian, that I could apply for a birthright citizenship.

Since my mother was still a CANADIAN in 1967, both myself and my brother were afforded birthrights into Canada.

You know what I did right?

I was living in a dead end life, alone, having to choose between paying for food, or paying rent, or buying medication. Because I could not afford to do all three at the same time.

A friend sponsored me into Canada, helping me pay the fees for the application. At Easter time in 2002, April or May, I traveled to Montreal. I stayed two weeks. I had filed for citizenship and went back to Miami, packed my belongings, got on a plane, and did not look back.

A few months later, I was living in Verdun. I got a call from Sydney Nova Scotia. An office worker just happened to pick up my envelope and opened it which began the paperwork process officially. Things needed to be added to the file.

It was then that Immigration Canada went after my mother.

Her paperwork was not in order regarding her naturalization papers and her birth certificate. They needed to be fixed OR they would deport her back to Canada. Needless to say my mother was not very happy with me.

I crossed the border. It was all about survival for me. I was going to have a life, or die trying.

That was the last straw for my father. I left the country of my birth, the very country my father fought to defend in Viet Nam. He told me I was spitting on my birthplace and my country.

That was unforgivable.

Once again, I had stabbed my parents in the heart.

Now I repeat … Parents are supposed to raise children into adults who make their way into the world and make something of themselves. And what ever decisions they make, whether you agree with them or not, you should at least respect them for their decisions.

Aren’t parents supposed to acknowledge their children’s successes?

My mother did in fact correct her paperwork and in February of 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. I hold dual citizenship today.

My parents were not happy with me at all. I worked very hard for two years trying to keep communications open between us, but in the end, I eventually failed.

My Mother’s last words to me were ” If either me or your father die, nobody will call you and nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

We never spoke again.

So I ask you, who was right, and who was wrong? And who is guilty ???

I got married in 2004. I returned to university and earned two degrees. One in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. I spent two years following that in Cegep, because I had those credits afforded to me by the government.

I have been sober 12 and a half years. Since my moving here my family and I have been estranged. And they say, it is All My Fault.

A few years ago, I found my brother on Facebook, and that twisted my heart. I tried to speak to him and he blocked me. And that broke my heart. I thought that we had grown up and could try and reconnect. That did not happen.

Facebook fucked with my sobriety in a big way.

On July 30th, this year 2014, the day before my birthday, my aunt calls to tell me that my father was on Facebook. And while we were on the phone I looked him up and sent him several messages hoping against hope that he would reconnect. He did not.

Once again, Facebook fucked with my sobriety.

On one hand I want redemption, and acknowledgement and finally some dignity and respect. On the other hand, I want to shoot off my mouth and incite anger and make a scene.

Not all very sober motivated actions.

I wrote here and asked the question. I spoke to my sponsor today and hit a meeting tonight.

And I got my answer.

Always Check your motives …

I did what I needed to do. I opened a door. Whether he responds, is entirely up to him, if he does re-engage or he does not re-engage, I am powerless over people, places and things.

I have to go on with my life.


Sunday Sundries … Countdown

tumblr_n854u9is0Z1r92k5yo1_500 sweetsoles

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 …


Sunday Sundries … It rained !!!

tumblr_mvr218HsTv1rsipmuo1_500 walterjenkel2013Courtesy; WalterJenkel 2014

And the weather took a turn today. It rained, and brought with it hot and muggy !! ICK…

It has been a quiet weekend. Lots of snuggling in bed and reading of good books.

If you enjoy murder/mystery stories may I suggest to you Kathy Reichs, I just happened across a couple of books given to me by a friend, and the last two I read from her, Bones of the Lost and Bones are Forever, seem to be written close together, because there are threads between them in common from both reads. Bones are Forever seems to take place prior to Bones of the Lost, but I read them in reverse order.

I got out of here early, and arrived with rain piddling on my head. It was not enough to open carry. But while I was setting up, we had a minor downpour. Several folks came down the stairs soaked to the bone.

I put out all the chairs and we sat every single one of them. We are having a good run as of late. It seems people like our little meeting because they keep coming back.

We are another story into part III of the Book. He Lived only to Drink.

Many of us picked out that our writer came from good, solid Baptist, God fearing, go to church on Sunday, stock. No alcoholism on either side, and did not begin until our man was well out of the nest and on his own. Coming from a clean and sober house, is introduced to the drink by friends. And it is love at first drink. The smells, the smoke, the tinkle of ice in the glasses…

You know where this is going right?

It does not take much time for our Good stock man to end up on skid row, poor, un-bathed, stinking and hating life, god and man.

But it only took a charitable social worker who took him into her office and shared her story with him and said the following words … “I identify with what is going on in your life…” Nobody had every said that to him amid all the misery and debauchery that became his life.

She got him to his first meeting. And he got taken in and it started with believing in the people who were in that room that night and that something was working for them.

First, it was identification. Second, it was attraction. Sobriety followed.

And after all these years, a thought came into my head as I was sitting there tonight that I had never thought of before.

The first time I got sober, it was because I had to.

I did not like the men who attended meetings in the room I got sober in. For a year, newcomers were called race horses. And they all bet with each other which one of us would go out and drink again …

I had a job. I really GREAT job. It was probably the best job I ever had and would ever have in my life. And that job kept me more sober than the meetings did. Because my sponsor worked at the bar.

My focus was on living, working and THEN staying sober. I missed the teaching that I needed to connect with people, to trust them and to work with them. That did not happen.

Life happened and I planned and executed my slip.

The second time I got sober, it was a much more healthy place I got sober in. I immediately took to my surroundings and the people who welcomed me in that night. They cared about my life and my sobriety, as proof of just how far they went to make sure I would not drink again.

I moved here a few months in. I had no job. But I did have meetings.

And I’ve said it before, I met all the right people at the right time. I came to love them, and to trust them with my life, because I needed them to create the life I had moved here to find. It has taken me 11 years to find the gift that was waiting for me, ( ala sponsor/steps/and The Work).

The right women came into my life. And taught me about The Work. Then it took a year for The Work to sink in, and that I needed to do The Work. Enter year twelve and moving towards year thirteen, I am halfway there this month.

I have stayed sober because of the meetings I go to and the people I call my friends. Everything I have came from the efforts of hundreds of people over the years who gave me what I needed when it was needed.

Where the first time I had settled into work to get me by and sobriety took a back seat, the second time, I did not have what I had the first time, and I started with just meetings and the people in them. And I have not had a desire to drink since I put it down, almost thirteen years ago.

I hope this is the last time I have to do this, because I don’t think I have another recovery in me.

People are eating up the book. And they come back each week to read more and participate in discussion where they can hear each other share. And that is a good thing.

Everybody is good. It was a good night.

More to come stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … Windows of Opportunity

tumblr_ln5vibOhgK1qcy8x7o1_500 theworldshavoc

Courtesy: The Worlds Havoc

The weather has been on our side as of late. It has been just beautiful here on our side of the country. However not so much out West. From Ice Bergs on the East Coast to Sun in the Center and finally rain and floods out West, it hasn’t been a cake walk for so many. We are keeping many in our thoughts and prayers.

I’ve had a jumble of thoughts running through my head as I work on my fourth step work, and as that work coincides with readings from literature, my brain has been on overdrive for a few days. And rather than sit here and drop verbal diarrhea, I have spent the past few days sitting on my thoughts, allowing them space, and trying to find the balance of feeling what is there on the surface, and then being cool with letting them go, and not hanging on to shit that has nothing to do with today.

It is one thing to speak to my guys and then my friends and giving them sound advice, it is quite another thing to listen and take my own advice on board. I am a work in progress.

My fears, guilt, and resentment lists are short, but what is on the lists is strong and potent. The past is just that, the past. It has no bearing on the present, or on the day.

Estrangement is a funny beast.

I have problems coping, as an Adult, with how another human being can just shut off one’s light off and plunge them into darkness as a punishment for sin or non-compliance.

How does one live with themselves when you intentionally place another human being in the DARK?

You silence their voice and kill their spirit.

How does one go on with life, knowing that your voice is not important, and that your life is not important in the grand scheme of things?

When we are born, we have family. Whether good or bad, it is out of our control.

We grow up and find our way into the world, on whatever path we take. I certainly went through my fuck up phase. I did my own damage. But in the same breath, damage was done to me as well.

Post fuck up phase, we move into our age of enlightenment. I got it once, and I got it a second time. I made my series of life decisions that were meant to keep me alive, fed and a roof over my head.

Family is supposed to be thicker than blood. Family is the most important part of our lives, either the one we came from, or the one we create on our own. I did not choose my family of origin. They are the ones who shut my light off.

Today, I have my family of choice. And that has worked for me.

The time had come for me to sever the connection with family of origin. Because that was a toxic situation. Today, I am guilty of many things. I made self serving choices. Self centered choices, that were necessary for my life to move forwards.

But that light switch is still off. And it will never get turned back on.

OMENS

Some time ago, an omen came to me. It appeared and it happened more than once.

This omen has presented itself to me before. And always took place after a death. And I respect this omen as truth. But this time there was not one but two omens to appear. They came as a pair.

I blew it off as coincidence.

But the more I ponder them, the more it has become clear to me that it wasn’t just coincidence. They were sent. I had no part in the sending. But I was part to the appearance. I know what the omen means.

So that is a thing.

I know I can’t change what’s done. And I am coming to accept that I won’t ever get to speak my mind, as I think I need to. Because at this point, what is it going to matter? What good could come of it?

I made the shift. I had to make it. That was what had to happen, to guarantee my survival. People got bent. We are all adults. It is sad that as an adult, my decisions were seen as a slight and irreconcilable. How does that work?

Do you parents punish your kids when they make adult decisions? We all make decisions in life. And most likely, not everyone may be happy with the decisions we make, but I would have thought, maybe stupidly, that people would grow to respect and acknowledge our truth.

That did not happen.

And that is a thing.

One day, thanks to social media, and the progress of communication, the people who need to find me, when they get to make that decision, will. I am hoping that one day we will all find the pieces.

Because like Troy Dunn says, “You can’t find peace, until you find all the pieces.”

My puzzle is in pieces.

So that is a thing.

There is a storm blowing about, and I am in the eye of the storm, so to speak. As long as I stay in the center, eventually it will all work out.

You can either get stuck in the storm or you can navigate around it. I hope with my time (in) that I have learned how to navigate.

So that is a thing.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Gratitude and Anniversaries

tumblr_lgfsy7PUEL1qfc9b9o1_500 tortoisehare

Courtesy:Tortoisehare

It is very late as I pen these words. I have been very busy as of late trying to be as present as I can for the communities I serve. Which means traveling from one end of the city to another, hitting meetings that I don’t usually hit, but I have added them nonetheless, on nights when I am usually dark for that evening.

It is good right now to be who I am and where I am. All those hours doing “The Work” are paying off in spades. Working with others is a true blessing. And there is nothing that I would do differently than what I am doing right now.

Sunday’s are full on High Throttle days as of late.

I had to go shopping on the way out for coffee, and didn’t realize until I hit the cash that the coffee I bought was NOT on sale ! FML … But we needed it and I had the cash. I cranked out set up and one of my guys met me to make coffee.

Tonight was a very special occasion. Today June 15th 1962, is the 52nd anniversary of our Sunday Nighter’s Group. We are amid Gratitude Week in the Fellowship. We are marking the meeting of Bill W. and Dr. Bob. And we thank the esteemed Henrietta Sieberling for the introduction.

As it was a special night, we read an excerpt from the story of the Who’s, What’s, Where’s and How’s of the first meeting of Bill and Dr. Bob.

Dr. Bob had a drinking problem and the Oxford group was trying to help him, and Henrietta made the initial introduction of Bill to Dr. Bob. From the outset it looked like Dr. Bob would be difficult when upon meeting he informed Bill that he could only give our man 5 minutes of his time.

The story goes that 6 hours later, they were still talking.

One alcoholic talking to another.

We then shared on the topic of gratitude and the reading.

Fresh on my slip, I knew the end was near, and when I got there I prayed. I did not go looking for a room, or people, I prayed that God would bring them to me.

And He did.

That young man who walked into my life at just the right moment, using just the right words “I did not drink today” was the line he fed me for over a month before I broke my anonymity with him and he took me to  my second “First Meeting.”

The rest they say is history.

I had been living in Montreal from May 2002 onwards. I was going to Sunday Nighter’s regularly. Along with Tuesday Beginners and Foundations, a Sunday afternoon gathering that met in the St. Leon’s space. where Sunday Nighter’s is today.

Back then, 13 years ago, they were across town on the East side of Downtown at St. James United Church.

This is how the story goes.

It was nearing my anniversary, in December. I was 11 months and a couple weeks sober. And I passed a young bright man in the doorway of St. Leon’s Church. In that passing moment, I knew I was going to marry him. It was 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon.

That evening, it rained. And that young man I saw, ended up at St. James United that night, and we had our first conversation. We talked about angels and spiritual experiences. He had one. And I was amid one. We connected.

It was also the holiday season, and in those days Sunday Nighter’s used to host a fantabulous Holiday Dinner for the folks and the homeless there. it was THE event of the season to attend. We would eventually attend many of those dinners over the first few years.

I was 11 months and some weeks sober. He was sober just weeks. But Sunday Nighter’s and a few other meetings solidified our relationship. We did not look back, and we have been together since that first day we set eyes on each other.

Sunday Nighter’s has been a constant friend to me and to many over the past fifty two years. Few original members exist to this day. Many have died or moved away. But it has been a great run.

St. Leon’s church has been very good to us, to all the meetings that call that church basement home.

We are very grateful.

It was a great night. And tomorrow will be even better.

More to come, stay tuned …