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Miami

Sunday Sundries … Shuttered

tumblr_lx332xnuMf1qajbwho1_500 justathoughtfulmindCourtesy: Justathoughtfulmind

We are sitting at a Zero degrees this evening. A bit cool. Slowly, ever so slowly, the snow is melting and bits a pieces of grass have been uncovered in the neighborhood.

On my way out, I passed through the mall, and it is with great sadness that I report tonight that our little Target that couldn’t has been shuttered. What was once a store brimming with possibility, is now an empty shell of its former self. Gone too soon.

Now Target Canada has to make something of all of the branded items that are now useless, like scooters, bags, and shopping carts that bear the Target name. Destroying them is useless, they will have to go back to the U.S. in its closure settlement.

All the Target stores are set to be fully shuttered over the next two weeks. The mall proper will now remove all the signage that hangs inside/outside the mall.

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

It is the last Sunday of the month, we sat a fair crowd tonight. And we read Tradition Three:

“The Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

The story I am about to repeat, I have never heard come from another human being I know, who is in the room today.

“We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling, and unfortunate results thereof, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners,queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out.

Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics.”

Twelve and Twelve pg. 140

The first time I got sober, was in the fall of 1994. I then relocated from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. I was two years sober at the time of this story taking place. I was attending meetings at a Club Room called “The Coral Room,” in South Miami. A club room hosts meetings all day and night seven days a week.

I was attending an evening meeting, that counted a few hundred in attendance at that particular meeting. Around my two year anniversary, the chair asked me to speak at that meeting. I accepted the invitation. Mind you, I had a lot going on during this period of time.

I was one, trying to stay sober amid still learning how to survive my AIDS diagnosis, just two years earlier. I had about reached my death date, and I was still alive, I did not die, and I was trying to figure out what I was going to do now. Nobody knew what to do when they were supposed to die, and were still living.

So that was a thing …

Imagine. a room full of people. I got up there and began my share. Partway through my share, I hit that rough patch, when I disclosed … Hindsight tells me that I should have not disclosed

One by one, men began getting up from their seats, and left the building. In the end, about 100 men had gotten up and left. I finished my share, some clapped, I don’t remember the rest. What I do remember was walking outside after the meeting and was greeted by one of the men, who seemed to want to speak for the rest of them saying:

“We do not accept people like you, we don’t respect people like you, we would like you to leave this meeting and do not come back in the future…”

What the Fuck ???

There were other meetings to go to in this room at other times. I never went to this earlier meeting ever again. But the damage was done. I did not have a sponsor. I did not touch the book, however I was going to meetings, I just wasn’t present for myself to do any good.

I no longer trusted anyone in the program from that point on. I hung on barely.

Two years would pass, and I took my leave of meetings. I went back out and drank again, much to the dismay of the people I counted as friends.

Upon my return a few years later, my friend Troy took me to my next First Meeting. It was a gay meeting at SOBE. (Sober on South Beach) Nobody noticed me, so I hung outside until the 10 p.m. meeting, where I met the people who would welcome me and help me stay sober.

I was sober four months when I moved to Montreal. I was new in the city, and new to the meetings here. One Friday night I went to a meeting on the West end of the city. There was a group of folks at this particular meeting, and they plied me with twenty questions about myself.

You know, the who, what, where and why of it all …

Upon considering my answers, the Patriarch of the meeting stepped up to me and said:

“We think that it would be better if you got sober somewhere else, don’t come back to our meeting.”

This would be the second time in sobriety that someone told me to leave a meeting and go somewhere else to get sober…

Thirteen years later, I’ve never set foot in that hall on the West end. It is a good thing that people usually stay in their general vicinity for their meetings, because I never crossed paths with some of those ignorant fucks ever again.

There are some sick people in the rooms.

When push comes to shove, we are all suffering alcoholics and addicts. Stats today confirm that the presence of dually addicted people are high across the board. Today, we turn no one away, no matter who you are, or where you come from.

We are ALL afforded the chance at recovery and a full share in the Solution that awaits every man, woman and teen ager who walks in the room on any given night.

Hearing “Go Away,” twice in recovery could have ended very badly the second time.

But I did not have a drinking history here. I never drank here and I wasn’t going to try, at any rate. I found meetings to go to where I would not be judged based on my sexual orientation, or my medical situation either. For a while I went to gay meetings and meeting where nobody judged me.

Over the last decade, the dedicated LGBT meetings have fallen apart, and LGBT people assimilated into mainstream meetings across town.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol, there IS a Solution.

Tradition Three guarantees you a seat in any meeting world wide.

It was a good meeting. Next month we begin reading Experience, Strength and Hope. Stories from the First, Second and Third editions of the Big Book.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Another Chance

tumblr_lguex92boy1qgplzqo1_500It is Sunday Night. We had a little rain, and today the temps dropped into single digits. We are sitting at a cool (5c) at this hour.

It was a quiet week. Lots of meetings. Lots of reading. We hit Step Six on Tuesday, and Thursday we read from Came to Believe, and Friday’s topic was on the subject of financial insecurity. I listened carefully to our readings, and came away with some lessons.

It was a blustery weekend, like I said, a little rain, a lot of clouds, and today I broke out my winter jacket for the first time this season. Over the weekend, I crated the a.c. for the second time. And we probably won’t need it again, as the long term forecast says that temps won’t rise into positive double digits again any time soon.

The weather usually goes North just before Halloween. In years past, we have seen negative digits, and even snow on the odd occasion. We know that if it does snow before or on Halloween, that it will be a long and drawn out Winter. The kids will be bundled up in winter coats with their costumes again this year.

There is a load of construction going on in the neighborhood lately. They dug up the sidewalk in front of the Forum just up the block, and are replacing piping in the ground, which has caused a nightmare for pedestrians and the frontage shops in the Forum proper. All the terraces are rolled up because there is no place for them to be aside from the construction.

Cabot Square is coming along ever so slowly. They have yet to complete the bus lane ways that need to be finished before the first snow. And they need to sort out the bus stops for the same reason.

I was up and ready to go early today and arrived and cranked out set up before most folks showed up. We have been seeing good numbers lately, which bodes well for the future. Tonight we sat a full house again, and are one story closer to the end of the book. November 16th is our deadline.

This last section of the book, are stories that range from a few pages to a lot of pages. What else is there to talk about when you are in low bottom territory but I drank, I got drunk, I fell down, having suffered yet another black out and waking up who knows where, how much money did I loose, and what did I do last night? Tonight’s story was quick, dirty and to the point, in five pages.

“Another Chance”

I listed to the read and followed along, because I was in the chair. We got all the way around twice, once for the read, and second for the discussion. Stories like these are warnings to our young people that it can get bad, very quickly, and in short order. Some of them have already been to these places,  And most of our long time members have also visited these places.

I stopped to think about my story, and I realized that at the start of my drinking career I did all those stupid things first. All those activities written about that usually occur at the bitter end, when the drink is really bad, and the obsession is running rampant.

I guess I am glad that I had completed my list of really stupid things first. That speaks volumes to the depth of addiction I had fallen into so quickly, early on. I could not care less about responsibility, paying rent, buying food, making car payments. My vision was very narrow. All I really cared about was where my next drink was coming from, and who would participate in its attainment.

It was also very good that I only had a car for a few years in my twenties. I lost it once to repossession, and my father got it back. That was probably, and still is, in my estimation, a very real resentment my father has against me. He never did anything that stupid, not that I ever knew about. But it is what it is.

Once I had hit my last stop in Ft. Lauderdale, in my 26th year, I lost the car again to flood waters, caused by a hurricane. The car was never the same after that, and I finally had gotten rid of it. I am sure it could have gotten very worse, as I grew up. But I sort of nipped that one in the bud when I got sober the first time. Who needs a car, when you live in the big city. After that round, I stayed close, I have lived in big cities ever since. I don’t need a car here because mass transit is so plentiful.

All those things that happen at the end of ones drinking career that signal that the end is near and that maybe you should stop happened to me. But in reverse order. I had hit rock bottom several times early on but did not get the memo for a while. I just kept going, until, like I have said before, another human being said the word S.T.O.P …

It could have gone on to the bitter end, and that’s how I wanted it, I wasn’t ready to die a gruesome death, I would rather have died from the bottle rather than a terrible disease. That was not to happen.

I would face my challenge sober, and I would, in the end, prevail.

I’ll say it again. When I really needed God, He presented himself to me and saved my life. And I will take that to my grave.

The other identifying factor from most low bottom stories are the drinking bouts that end up in a black out. The Not Knowing. At the end of my slip, I had perfected my drinking to one night a week, because that’s all I could handle. One great night of debauchery.

Trying to fit in, by drinking my way in.

And in the end the night ended with someone pouring my sodden body into a taxi, and finding myself in my bed, having gotten through two locked doors, never knowing how that happened.

To this day, I cannot tell you the who, where, what or why of my black outs.

Either someone removed me by force, or someone was watching out for me without my knowledge. I don’t know, but that is one memory that keeps it green for me. The black outs, that final hangover, the admission that I was licked. The alcoholic who appeared because I asked God for one to appear.

My last drink, was my last drink. So far. To this day. One day at a time.

I’ve seen enough in my lifetime, and over the last almost thirteen years, I have heard stories from my friends and fellows that remind me over and over of just how bad it will get if I ever pick up another drink.

It doesn’t have to get that bad.

There is a solution. The women I know work very hard at working and living in the Solution.

I learned how they do it, and now my guys are doing that as well. By The Book.

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

And on an entirely different note…

Here it comes … Are you ready?

There are 67 shopping days until Christmas

More to come Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Hey Day !!!

coverThe weather has been stellar, very warm and sunny. The Farmers Almanac was published yesterday for the Fall predictions. Environment Canada also published their Fall predictions as well. Both surveys tell us that we should have our Indian Summer continue through October. However November calls for wet and cold weather, and into December, the Polar Vortex should return, hopefully not as bad as it did last Winter. All these predictions rely on an El Nino in the Pacific Ocean.

It was a quiet weekend. Everybody is doing well. The numbers are returning. We are sitting good numbers across the city. Tonight was no different. We sat a fair group. We read through the circle and back to the start, and everybody got in on the discussion.

Building a New Life …

We are still in the Low Bottom stories, and the insanity factor is very high. None of our folks had sunk to the levels our writer did tonight. The one thought that repeated itself over the shares was the fact that “when we start drinking, our emotional quotient remains that age, throughout our drinking story.” This thought was repeated several times. My drinking took off in my twenties. And I had a brief growth spurt at age 26, through 28. I had no choice, when I got sober the first time, to grab the bull by the horns and ride him out. It was either learn or die.

I had that time under my belt. The second time I got sober, delusional as I was, fear of growing older was omnipresent. I really tried to hang on to something that I certainly could not hold on to. It was either grow up or die, a second time.

All that I have and all that I am, came from the rooms, and from the people in the rooms. It was as if, as soon as I put down roots here, soberly, life began in earnest. I was not sure if I was ready, but life certainly took off within months of my arriving here. The rest they say is history.

It was not easy. Every lesson learned was done by the book, through the rooms, tried and tested and retested over and over. Sobriety came in cycles. I’d hear something, or I’d read it from the book. We would talk about it in a meeting, then I would get “think time” and then God would go … “Ok, so you got this lesson? Let’s see you put it into practice.”

Rinse, Wash and Repeat …

So here is where I am today.

On an entirely New Note …

A few weeks ago, one of my long time friends sent a notice out that his new album would be dropping the coming week. That friend would be the One and Only Lucas Mire, from Atlanta Georgia. I’ve been following him for years, and have in my music collection several of his albums.

If you go to Lucas Mire.com

There is his music page. You can order his latest work “Hey Day” from Band Camp. You get one of two choices, a physical CD, or a Digital Download, if you don’t need the jewel case. Over the weekend Lucas was sending out pre-orders. I was waiting for my electronic notice from Band Camp, which magically appeared this afternoon.

So I brought it down and put it into my phone. I am happy to say that Hey Day is a really great album. Probably the best sound Lucas has ever produced. If you live in Atlanta, you can usually find him at Eddie’s Attic. One of the clubs, Lucas is known to play in.

I was at the church this evening setting up, with Lucas in my headphones. I had sent him a note on Face book before I left. And he replied that he released the album three days early for ME !!

I smiled…

Buy the album. Go, Now, Buy It !!!

A good night was had by all.

More to come. Stay tuned …


In Case of Fire …”BREAK GLASS”

Pope Francis in a selfie photoIt has been a week of change. People have come and gone. One of my men is now living in Pittsburgh and we get to talk every night, thanks to Skype. The wonders of technology never cease.

Last night we heard from a second of my men, who is moving his family back to Oshawa to his family home where the kids will have a house, a yard and parks to play in close to home, which is a big change from their 3 1/2 here in Montreal. That move takes place in a fortnight.

My third and final man is coming home in the days to come, which will be exciting since he has been gone all summer long at camp.

The Friday night commute was quick and painless, and we set up quickly and quietly. Then everyone came for the Friday night meet and greet. It was a full house by the time the meeting ended. We talked about prayer, and we talked about God.

At some point in the game, you get to God. And the Book speaks about the “spiritual experience” and the “psychic change” that has to come about to guarantee a sober life.

Everyone has a story. And at some point or other, in our drinking story, that we get to the end and we say …”God, help me, I can’t go on like this any longer !” In case of Fire, Break Glass…

There has been a lot of talk about religious faith amongst my fellows, which I am going to write about in a separate post later tonight. I read an interesting post last night about religious faith and the belief in fictional characters we find in pop culture and in film. But more on that later.

I’ve noticed along the way that there are buzz words and concepts that have popped up this time around that did not come to mind the first time around, not that I remember. That was more than twenty years ago now.

When I hit my slip, I surely was not thinking about God. He never came up. I never thought about Him. And the thought did not come to mind until I had had my last drink and I finally called out for help. I prayed, and I believe that that is all He needed to hear. You see, God allows us to do what we are going to do, usually He doesn’t act, unless we are in peril, for some.

Over there —> in the Pages if you look down to “Naked and Sacred” you can read my story about my relationship with God, when it started and how I got here.

God was part of my life. I went to church, I attended seminary, visited the Vatican. God and I were close. And as long as I remained “on the beam” my life was pretty sweet. Everything went according to plan, it was never my plan, per se, but it was a plan that worked.

But every time I stepped “off the beam” my life became a real shit storm.

I have had several shit storms in my life. Most of my twenties, half of my thirties. I had brief connection when I got sober the first time, but I account that survival to people and not God. But in hindsight, I have said that when I really needed God, (read: my diagnosis) He came to me in human form. I was so satisfied with my job and the people in my life, I really did not think about God, because He was there, right in front of me.

The second time around I learned how to trust God all over again. And I have said that from the moment I put down the drink, God moved heaven and earth to get me here. And He was running the show. I have stayed “on the beam.”

When I hit my ten year anniversary, the theme of that anniversary was ” I Thirst” a meditation from the journals of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It would not come to pass for another couple of years that God spoke to me. At the West island Roundup in 2013, I met Lorna Kelly. She went to Calcutta and worked along side the sisters and had a relationship with Mother Teresa for years, prior to her death, and later spoke in the case for her canonization.

Anyways … I read both her books. The Camel Knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel. In the story in the first book is all about Calcutta. Lorna steps into the chapel and there stenciled on the wall next to the crucifix are the words … ” I Thirst.” It floored me.

It was also at that roundup that my prayer life got a huge jump start. I was coasting. And the fire that was lit pushed me to new lengths in my prayer life. And from that blossomed a new sponsor, sponsees and something entirely new for my sobriety.

But as of late, I’ve had problems finding God. I know He is there, but there are times that I can’t see him, or I forget to call out His name. And that usually happens when I am stuck on my hamster wheel obsessing or worrying about things that are way outside of my control.

In certain situations, the older I get the angrier I get about people and situations. I imagine in my minds eye that adults grow up eventually and we reach a point that darkness is overcome by the light.

That hasn’t happened yet for me.

I spoke about it last night again, because we read on resentments and anger. And throughout the meeting I heard the the older men speak, and we got two round robins in and I heard those sentences from the book that makes sense of everything that is going on …

  • ACCEPTANCE is the KEY to ALL my problems and that
  • NOTHING absolutely NOTHING happens in God World by Mistake.

God is in control, to the extent we allow that control. But God allows for self will. And when we take back our will, it usually ends up in self will run riot. I would rather not be in that place.

Where ever you are at what ever time it is, no matter what day it is, we are right where we need to be at any given moment on any given day. And that if nothing happens by mistake and I an right where I should be, then I can let go of my expectations and my fears and my pains of heart.

I got here right? Well, God got me here.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I’ve read countless books about Karma, Family, Parables, Teachings.

One book I love is The Journey Home – a Kryon Parable.

In it the lead character looses his parents very young, and spirals into a pit of depression and loneliness until he winds up in hospital because of a robbery gone very wrong. In the story he gets to take a journey through seven Angelic Houses. And learns many lessons about life.

When we are born, we incarnate in groups usually. Everybody has their prescribed roles, agreed upon before we get here. And certain people may not be on board for the entire journey, because each contract is different. And we may not get very far, but far enough to the point that we either move apart or we die.

I believe that my family had a very short contract. We only got so far before we parted ways and i went on with my life by myself. And I wonder why that happened, well I know why, I am Gay, HIV+ and I live in another country now. Grounds for immediate dismissal.

So that is a thing.

I pray for the time when everybody grows up to a point that communication is possible. But I am not hedging my bets. Cue resentment and anger. 

Unfounded.

I must go on trusting that God knows what He is doing. Can you see I have trust issues?

I am right where I need to be and there are no mistakes.

I must connect daily, many times a day. I must be humble and get on my knees and pray.

There are no two ways around it.

I must remain “On the Beam.”

It is getting late and I have a second post to finish.

More to come, stay tuned …


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

tumblr_lh6xeiqS8U1qz72e6o1_500 poyi.orgCourtesy: Poyi.Org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Word Press … You saved it again …

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

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

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

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

I never Craved a drink again.

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

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

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

Live – Easy – But – Think – First …

Desire is not the same thing as thought …

More to come, stay tuned … 


Sunday Sundries … Listening to the Wind … Messages … Seeds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nobody said STOP.

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

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

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

Eventually someone did step in and tell me to Stop.

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

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

Which is why we keep coming back for more.

I am ok tonight. Tomorrow we move on.

More to come, stay tuned …


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.


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…


We Don’t have to live Alone

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

With the weather holding, it was another stellar day. A bit breezy and not as humid as of late.

We hosted a small group on Tuesday night. And we read from Living Sober. It is good that the same core group attends, which means over the months we have progressed together, in a roundabout sort of way.

Working this Fourth Step, I realized tonight, is like a cork screw. First we looked at life in all its years, and what we felt (emotionally) from year to year. Then we made a list of resentments, fears and guilts. Now we are looking at each entry on each list, drilling down into the respective issue and scrutinizing them, sort of like a corkscrew going into a cork.

(read: the whole drilling down action)

I left a little early and I was mostly done with set up by the time the bells rung at six. Again tonight we sat a small group. We read from A.B.S.I. and We Don’t have to live Alone.

The reading as a whole, speaks about being alone, then the reading turns specifically to steps four and five. In the sense that we are not alone any more, that steps are the way to go, and that the process of four and five seem insurmountable, but working with someone (read: Sponsor), the word does not appear in the reading, but it is implied, Eventually all the stuff we are holding on to at some point must be discussed with someone else.

I thought about what “Alone” means to me. It is one thing to want to be alone, and wholly another when we are Alone.

When I was a kid, growing up, I was really good when I was alone in my bedroom with my stereo and my records, when I was drawing, ( I used to be a good drawer), or when I wanted to be alone, I could, in essence shut my bedroom door, that was my choice.

I also had bunches of friends. At any given time, I was never really alone, ever …

When I got sick in 1994, and doctors told me I was going to die, and everybody, including family scattered, I was totally ALONE. I know what that feels like. I know what it is like to be secluded, not by ones own decision, but by the choice of others. I know what it feels like to be shut away and excluded. To be sorted into a group of untouchables.

But then, people stepped in and I was no longer alone.

And for a while that worked for me. I got and stayed sober.

When my group of friends all moved away, I found myself alone again.

Not having the structure and the people around me who created and maintained some sense of normalcy to my life, I was left to my own devices, I (in essence) was pushed into the world that I was ill prepared for and did not know what to do for myself.

I stayed sober for a while longer. In the end, after being pushed aside by people of no matter, I pulled away and into myself. I started creating “alone.” I stopped reading the book, and talking to my friends ( at that point), and I planned my slip.

And now I am really Alone, in a place I was not prepared for, with no one to call, nor nowhere to run to in case I needed to get away.

I moved from point A, to point B, to point C.

At point C, I was living alone. I quit using, but kept drinking. I like to say that during this last phase of my drinking life, had I dropped off the radar, nobody would have come looking for me.

How much worse can it get that I was delusional, thinking that the drink would bring me inclusion and acceptance into a community I thought I so badly needed and desired.

I was drinking ALONE in a dance hall full of people, who probably never even noticed I was there. Big, Buff, Beautiful people don’t notice chaff in the same room, unless of course you look and act like they do.

This time around, I stuck close to the rooms. I learned how to be part of and I worked very hard at that for the last twelve and some odd years. I learned early on that if I needed “Anything,” read this correctly – If you need anything, you bring it to a room and you ask. You’d be surprised in just how great that works. If you learn this early on, that you are no longer alone, and that you can rely on us, that when you get to a need that you need, bring it to a room. Put it down on the table or into a group and you ask. You’d be surprised to find another human being very willing to help you attain what it is you need.

I’ve not been alone in a very long time. And I choose to live that way.

They say, “Now, you are not alone, anymore.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … So Long for Now … Changes

tumblr_lgobofjaDU1qzbcvvo1_500 alex-stoddard

Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)

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

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

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

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

We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.

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

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

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

And your destiny …

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

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

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

Nobody said stop.

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

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

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

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

I lived …

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

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

Everything else after that pales in comparison.

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

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

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

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

I am powerless over people, places and things.

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

And I have to be ok with that.

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

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

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

And I have to be ok with that.

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

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

Life is good. Life is as life is.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so we have.

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

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday Out of Defeat – Strength

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Courtesy:FashionDiplomacy

Another week ends. And in certain circles, today is Good Friday.

And in the immortal words of Anthony Campolo …

“… it’s Friday, but Sunday’s a coming !”

I heard this message spoken many many years ago on a retreat in high school.

It is a rousing sermon centered around Jesus being in the tomb, and it is dark, and people do not know what to do. They are scattering all over the place, not knowing where to go or what to believe, and so the message is “It’s Friday but Sunday’s a coming.”

It is a call to be expectant. To await the coming of Jesus on Easter Morning. When the church rejoices in the risen Christ. The choirs sing, the bells ring, and the crowd sings Hallelujah.

It was a quiet day today. Things are coming together for my guys. And as on any holiday we wait expectantly for people to show up.

When I used to work in the bars, holidays were the busiest nights for business. Gay boys after spending time with their families, needed to drown their minds in alcohol, so they would come in droves.

It is almost the same when you quit drinking. Holidays are always difficult. Parties, family gatherings, and so forth. It is for that reason that rooms need to be open on holidays, to welcome folks in after spending time in situations where there is alcohol and sometimes copious amounts of it.

I was out early this evening. The transit was swift. I arrived at the church even before the key holder got there. We set up and made coffee, and for the first time we saw an urn filled with water and a hopper of coffee, not perk.

The urn heated the water, but it did not perk the coffee. That’s never happened before in my memory. The coffee grinds were dry. So we refilled the urn with cold water and plugged it back in and it perked the second time. WEIRD !!!

The regular gang gathered for our Friday meeting. It is the meeting of the week, where we can connect and spend time together. Both my guys were in attendance.

We read from A.B.S.I. – Out of defeat, strength …

“If we are planning to quit drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that some day we will be immune to alcohol.

Such is the paradox of A.A. regeneration: strength arising out of complete defeat and weakness, the loss of one’s old life as a condition for finding a new one.”

Short and sweet.

The first time I quit drinking I was drinking to kill myself. I was defeated.

The second time I quit drinking, I was under the delusion that the alcohol would remake me, into someone I wanted to be because I wasn’t happy with who I was.

I knew I had come to the end. I knew God was the only one who could help me, I admitted to myself that I was powerless, and that I needed help. I came back defeated once again, but much more in a sad state.

I had made the move here because I wanted to reinvent myself, and start a new life. And that is just what happened. I got much more than I had expected, and life is much more than I had ever imagined.

This is a common thought of people who come from somewhere else, and end up here, either for school, work or life circumstances.

I have always said to my readers that if it is possible, leave your lazy boy chairs and your beer and chips, pack your bags and move somewhere else for one year, and see life from someone else’s perspective. Your life will never be the same.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned…


Tuesday … It Works !!!

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus

It was a dreary night and today was a dreary day. It rained. Enough rain to warrant carrying an umbrella, but when I got out there, it was just spitting rain, so I carried for no reason ! UGH. The snow is beginning to disappear.

They have been tearing up Ste. Catherine’s street the past couple of days, and barricades are up and the system of bus stops up the block have been turned upside down. People loose their minds when they loose access to mass transit at a major hub, as this one is.

The Sports Bar/Resto on the corner is almost ready to reopen the entire restaurant. A long time ago, all the tenants on the strip were evicted, and all the walls knocked down to expand the resto. The small (initial) space was open while they built the new space. They then opened the new space and closed the old space to renovate. They worked on the upper floors and are now bricking up the walls above the resto, and when I walked by on my way home, the new (old) space has all the monitors up and chairs and tables. The build is complete.

With summer coming, and the entire resto open, with a tiki bar in the back, which is open, and during the summer he opens a patio out front, which takes up an entire lane of traffic about 500 feet long, they will be bringing in Big Bucks this season.

The Great Big News that came today was that tickets for the West Island Roundup are on sale, and one of my gal pals is picking me up three tickets for me and my sponsees. This is a “Must Attend Weekend” of the year. May 17 and 18. New York is coming to Montreal once again, last year’s event was earth shattering and changed my life, so bringing new guys to experience a taste of New York Sobriety will be a treat for them.

I left early to run some errands and arrived to a very quiet church. Quiet is good. I can take my time setting up and I get to spend time reading. I cherish amounts of time that I can sit and read during the day, because I don’t do that at home. Reading time usually occurs before bed.

I have arrived at my 4th Step with my sponsor. And it is quite an undertaking. To lead off the step is an exercise to plot feelings and emotions that “happened” from the day I was born until today. (so on the way home I picked up a diary to write in, so that I can carry it with me) when I meet with my sponsor. I have particular memories in my minds eye, but not necessarily a year to correspond.

So I have enlisted my aunt to help me peg a few dates so I can complete the work. The assignment is 15 to 30 minutes, every other day for as long as it takes. Which is a 46 year assignment. Add to that the regular question and answer form that will follow, and then the actual writing of a 4th step.

We sat a fair crowd. More than we had expected. AND several folks came, who came for the anniversary last week. So we gained a few guests. The chair read from the Daily Reflections from March 1st. (March is the third month, therefore all the entries cover Step 3).

The reading is simply, “It works … it really does.”

The passage talks about finding faith, and coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves can work for us, and that we learn to trust it. And how do we do that? Three things … Go to meetings, find a sponsor, work the steps.

Once again the word STAY came up.

Our newbies are getting used to rooting at a home group and making it their own. Meeting and learning to trust the room and the people in it. To devote time to reading, working and saying a few prayers here and there. All this is on a steep learning curve. It all takes time to change old habits, and learn new ones. Coming to believe that a power greater than ourselves has our best interest in mind. You might not see that on the outset, but if you can trust others, and see how their lives change, one day, your life will change as well.

Getting sober a second time had its advantages. I got a Do Over.

Lessons I learned the first time, that I forgot, when I went out, came to bear. Without the specter of death hanging over me, I was free to focus on myself unlike the first time. ( I was wrapped in a death shawl for years waiting to die) and I didn’t.

I hit a ton of meetings that first year. I rooted in One Meeting and I stayed.

I did whatever I was told to do without argument. The right people came into my life and I depended on the folks at my home group like my life depended on it and that served me well.

Over the years, staying in one place for a long time had its perks. I got to watch other people come in, sit down, stay for a season or two or three, and get sober. There is nothing more gratifying than watching God move in people’s lives. I knew who God was, and he had already moved heaven and earth to get me here, so that was a no brainer.

But at St. Leon’s, I have said before, God likes that room. I’ve seen the light come and rest. I’ve seen people come in lost and find Him. I learned a great deal about people as they came down those 12 steps into the hall. I studied it like science.

That’s when I came up with the Neon Sign Theory.

We all have one, hanging over our heads. And it tells the world things about us, but we might not see the sign for a while, but it is there. And if you stay in one place long enough, you will begin to see them yourself. People who come, and come again and again, over the years, that sign changes depending on our moods and feelings.

It was that light that I was searching for. And God did not disappoint.

So if you are new, stick around until the miracle occurs.

It was a good night. Everybody is sober another day.

More to come, stay tuned …

 

 

 


Crossing that Invisible Line …

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Today the sun came out. It was a very pleasant day. The warmth is being received by the millions, grateful for it. Snow is melting and there is even grass peeking out between the swaths of ice and snow that is still piled up at the church. Along with the warmth comes rain … to start washing all the snow, salt and muck away.

And you know what comes after that, right? The BIG CLEAN.

As is usual at the end of winter, all the garbage, paper, cigarette butts, and all the shit that has been trapped in layers of ice and snow over the past six months will have to be cleaned up.

Today my new Passport was delivered. YAY for that.

I departed on time and arrived at the church about 6, with the bells ringing in the bell tower. The Angelus rings every night at 6. We sat a small group. We were missing a few guys, one of my sponsees was getting an award at school and the other was playing the piano for the event. But because I am the only key holder, I could not attend. Booo !!!

We read from the Big Book, There is a Solution, and pages 21 and 22.

Somewhere in there it mentions that “Invisible” line we all cross, when one is not enough, social drinking goes out the window, and we wind up with the obsession of “MORE.”

For some, they don’t even see the line. Or don’t know that it exists.

A particular visual came to mind as we read tonight.

My parents always encouraged us to drink at home. It was a food group in our home. Nobody ever mentioned alcoholism, even though it was right there in front of us, and nobody dared speak those words. God Forbid the neighbors found out that someone was an alcoholic.

They found out. They did know. Nothing was ever said. Not a word.

After work my parents would come home from work and dad would hit the liquor cabinet or the bar, and mom would pop a beer, and usually, work colleagues came with them to commiserate.

My mother worked in healthcare and hospitals. At one point she was working for a company that supplied medications and medical assistance to people who were sick and home bound and those who had just been released from hospital and needed a little extra T.L.C.

Some of those people were gay. Many of them sick with AIDS.

I am a teen ager now. I’ve begun to drink. I was NOT out of the closet yet. But I was well on my way. This story is the trigger that I vowed I would never come out to my parents, Ever …

My mother would come home and talk about those poor “Faggots” who were sick and how sickened she was that she had to enter their homes and give them meds and actually help them survive, when she thought that they should be dead. That happened day in and day out for months, while she had that contract.

It was very sad and sickening.

Everybody would laugh.

I wasn’t laughing. At all.

My shrink, at some point, later on, was speaking about integration into the Gay Community. And the way that that was going to happen, was for me to go to a gay bar, and drink… And wait for the fireworks.

I drank at home, at parties. But this green light meant that I could drink without impunity to what end I wasn’t quite sure. I never drank one drink.

By the time I was of age, I had run through my beer days. Once I discovered the thrill of hard liquor, I never touched another beer again.

I remembered all those derogatory things my parents said about The Jews, The Niggers, The faggots … I was ashamed …

Growing up I had a friend from South East Asia, we were friends for a very long time, AND he would show up later on in sobriety the second time, (he was always not that far away), but I digress.

He had dark skin. But he was not black.

My father decided from the first day he met that boy that he would never allow a dark skin boy to cross our threshold and enter our house, God forbid the neighbors saw a dark skinned boy, (who might have just crossed the tracks) enter a white house.

Hence the bigotry and racial sickness in my family.

I would later come out, far far away, and only when I was diagnosed did I ever speak about it to my family, to my detriment. I was an abomination.

So would you blame me if I began to drink that hatred away?

Anyways … where was I ?

From the get go, There was Never just ONE. One what? One Beer, One Drink? The would be preposterous. How do you just have one and that’s it?

Being a third generation alcoholic, that invisible line had been crossed. I am sure that the women in the family saw that line and watched their spouses walk up to it, look at it, then confidently walk across it, as if it did not exist.

Because any real alcoholic, would never admit they have a problem or admit that they themselves crossed that invisible line.

And that became my life. The rest they say is history.

I suffer from the obsession of More. In many other areas of my life, and it has taken me almost 13 years to learn that I don’t need MORE.

I am good with what I have. I don’t drink, well, I didn’t drink today, as my sponsor would remind me, so that’s a good thing.

All is well in my world.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Ending Self Criticism

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Courtesy: Minhos21

Today it was “Warm.” Warmer than it has been in as many days. This week will see single positive digits, and beginning next week, we will hit double positive digit temps.

I was out early to meet my sponsor at the church. And thankfully the trains were all running on time. I hit my appointment right on. Tonight we went over my Step Three homework and then said our prayer. Step four, I am told, or the “approach” to step four, is all about life, 46 years of it. Starting at the beginning and working my way up to the present, on an every other day schedule, looking at feelings and emotions that I experienced as early as I can peg them.

Today was a BIG day. Our little beginners meeting is Three Years Old.

You know what they say about meetings, right? All it takes is a resentment and a coffee pot and you too can open a meeting. And that is exactly how this meeting was started.

A long time ago, our Tuesday Beginners was a 2 meeting (meeting).

An early discussion and a later Speaker. But at one point, we could not populate the second meeting any more. So keeping it open was a waste. So we decided amongst the members to cut down to a single discussion meeting.

Some of our fellows, (read: not members of the group) wanted a set of keys to host the later meeting themselves in the same space. Out trusted servant nixed that idea right from the get go.

And a RESENTMENT was born.

Those fellows took their grievance away, bought a 100 cup coffee urn and then opened a Beginner’s Meeting right up against the Tuesday Beginners meeting at 6:30 p.m. Just up the road. As if thinking that they would pull all our guests away to populate their own meeting.

That did not happen. Tuesday Beginners was for a time, a handful of members, until the girls from W.O.W. came. (Women of Wisdom). That meeting has numbers in the 40 to 50 guest on a Tuesday Night.

Only one member (my sponsor) is the remaining original member who helped to open our meeting. A while back, a handful of original founders copped new resentments because of attitudes and assholes, and moved on. Where I was a member of T.B.’s for 12 years, I moved to Vendome last year, to work with the young guys who were there. It is all a full circle moment.

Our meeting, has since moved from its original location, further into N.D.G. We have lost a good portion of our young people. I am hoping that Spring will bring our numbers back up. It’s not like we are in a dead end portion of town. There is a Metro at the top of the hill and a Metro at the bottom of the hill, and a bus that runs between them. That bus stops at our doorstep, so getting there is not an issue. People need to decide to come to our meeting.

We have a handful of members today. We usually sit 10 to 15 on any given Tuesday, tonight we more than doubled our guest numbers because of the anniversary. We had food and drink. We have a newbie in the chair for the month of April.

It seems our Blue Sheet announcement did what it was supposed to do.

People actually came.

The chair read from a Daily Reflection Book that was not an approved piece of A.A. literature, but for another fellowship. Nobody said a word about that. So we just went with it. It would have been rude to say something when the room was full of guests.

The topic was Ending Self Criticism.

I spoke to the story that when I was still drinking, I was under that delusion that the drink was going to magically make me 1. Younger, 2. buffer, and 3. prettier, because I wanted into a social grouping that I was way out of league for.

The drink was not working, and I would tell myself that something was wrong and that I needed to step it up and to work harder. I was pointedly CRAZY !

I got to the last drink. And blessedly, some time after I got sober, the club I drank in shut it doors for good. Jokingly I said that “the last great drunk had left the building so they had to shut down.” It wasn’t funny at all.

What I must have looked like and who took care to get me home when I did not know how I got there myself.

I beat myself up for about a month. I felt sorry for myself, I was ashamed. I really did not see myself in good light. Thankfully, the fellows who took me in DID. And the first night I faced my friends who had been sober when I went out, and were still sober, when I came back was a bitter pill to swallow.

You know those pitying looks … “oh there he is, look at him!” For a while it was all about me. Which is a big part of the disease of alcoholism.

Or should we call it “Allaboutmeism.”

The more often I can point that light from myself to others is the key to stay out of “allaboutmeism.” The more I work with others, work my steps and work for the betterment of my fellows and my sponsees, the less I have to think about myself.

All this is outlined in the ninth step promises.

In total there are 182 promises in the Big Book.

It was a good night. People came and for that we are all grateful.

More to come, stay tuned …