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Friday … We’re Closed … Selfish … Paradox

tumblr_na1os98mxP1t7d7l8o1_500 freshieCourtesy: Freshie

Another week in the books. The weather is holding. Our fair city has been lucky so far, from where we sit, geographically on the map, the latest round of nasty weather has passed us by, either to the North, or to the East and into the Maritimes. Right now we are in sitting in the sweet spot.

Did you brave the crowds to shop till you drop today? I wouldn’t be caught dead in a mall today even if you paid me. On the trek back from the meeting, the stops that are located in shopping complexes, there are two (McGill and Peel) there were hoards of people with bags and boxes and all kinds of holiday goodies on the train. Traffic was certainly up tonight.

Tuesday I wrote about Step 11 and the insights I had to this point on the topic.

Last night I was corresponding with a fellow who is sixty days sober, and miserable.

Now, there are massive numbers of subscribers to this blog, many of them are women, few are men, a good number of them are in varying degrees of sobriety. The interesting ones, I bookmark so I can go back and read and maybe participate. And I do that tentatively. Lately it seems that people are hit and miss when it comes to the program. I don’t overstay my welcome, and I certainly know when to leave.

… Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …

The word God keeps coming up for discussion, and the problem of the fact that the Judeo-Christian God is written into the book so boldly. There are a few points I want to make. Bill gives a caveat, in the four word phrase … As We Understood Him… But if you read As Bill Sees It, there is a paradox phrase that states … You can believe in whatever you want, as long as it works, BUT, it always comes back around to God.

Lots of people have problems with God for one reason or another.

  • People have prejudices against God because of (C)hurch
  • People don’t always believe in God
  • People feel alienated by the (C)hurch or her ministers
  • People hate God because of certain life story issues

I watch people get sober. I have done that for the better part of thirteen years. And I’ve witnessed every scenario you can think of. People who come with a negative spin on God, usually take a long time to (1) find a power greater than themselves, (2) They do it without ever mentioning the word God, or (3) they make peace with God in the end, and they find new ways to approach God.

In the past few months, several of our men, have expressed their disdain for God, especially, when we got to the reading in A.B.S.I. that says … It always comes back around to God.

Last night I said to someone who has a problem with the program and God, that yes, the word God is in the book. And not everybody is comfortable with that word, and they find ways around it. I’ve come to realize that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

God, as we understand him. As YOU understand him.

In the Past, there has been a desire to remove the word God from the reading, and the steps. And I’ve seen splinter groups form who have rewritten the steps to placate those who hate the word God.

You know, if you can’t stomach the word God, with its Judeo-Christian connotation, then we come to a new interpretation. Yes the word God is there. But if we remove the taint of religion and intention from the word God, and we re-appropriate the word with your own concept, then God can work for you.

And that is what I have said to the guys I work with, and that seems to work for the good of all.

If you are trying to get sober, all by yourself, there are ways to end your suffering.

This is where reading, listening and the powers of deduction come to bear.

I come and I read you. I listen to what you are saying, and I get a feel for who you are and what you are going through, and if I have words, I share them, from my point of view and my experience.

I’ve done that on several occasions.

One woman I used to read, came to the decision that the fellowship was a cult.

I walked away.

The next man I read, the one listed above is sober on his own, he can’t stomach God and he doesn’t do the fellowship. This after I participated in a discussion of what early sobriety can look like then I share some tips and suggestions that seem to work for the rest of us.

  • Read the Book
  • Get thee to a meeting
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being
  • Find ways to fill free time with useful work, passions, hobbies
  • Read Living Sober

I left one comment about God (see above) and said a few words about staying sober on one’s own. If you think you can do it alone, then more power to you. I just know that for me and for many of the people I call my friends, we could not do it alone.

Especially going through the holidays, sober for the first time.

I know what worked for me, that solution may not work for you.

  • We did not stop drinking because we were lonely.
  • We stopped drinking because we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable.
  • I know that I did not get sober to be MISERABLE.
  • I got sober to be Happy, Joyous, and Free

If you are miserable, then may be you should do something about it. Find a place to BE. There are places to BE that you won’t be ALONE any more.

People are who they are, I cannot change anyone, or get you sober. All I can do is point the way and tell you my stories and share my experience.

Step One – WE admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable. Part two of Step one is this … I am powerless over People, Places and Things.

That includes YOU.

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

Last night, was a very bittersweet night. Our little men’s group that could, came to an end. A little over eighteen months ago, a handful of men, some from the Tuesday Beginner’s Group and a few from downtown, and a few from Verdun, came together to open this new meeting.

Since I have a history with the parish in Westmount, they gladly gave us space, and were happy to have us in the parish. We opened a modest meeting with a handful of folks. Over the last year, we have had our issues with one another. Winter last year almost did us all in. We learned about each other in ways only a brutal winter forced us to look at.

We lost several members to work, illness, and extenuating circumstances. We tried to make it work, but in the end, we weren’t attracting new folks to come, albeit, the same faces came week after week, but that did not pay the rent. A few months ago, we began to consider closing. It was a bad omen for me, that our cabinet we paid a pittance for, broke. I did not fix it. Too much trouble.

Last night was our last night meeting.

We divvied up the spoils. We donated all the literature to other meetings, we sorted out stock of cups, coffee and materials, to the other meetings in the church and to our Tuesday meeting at Vendome and the Yellow Door. The only things we kept were the coffee urn and the tea kettle, because at the moment, there was no need from any of the groups we all go to on other nights.

So that was a thing …

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

Tonight it was chilly. I layered appropriately. Arrived at the church early, and we waited for a key. We cranked out set up which affords the opening crew to chat about our weeks as they happened. The Friday meeting is the end of the week rallying point for those who come.

We are all sharing the holiday together, in varying forms of who is here and who is home for the holiday and who is coming and going. One of my sponsees is coming in from Pittsburgh on the 13th of December and he is triangulating dates and get togethers in advance to maximize his visit with the maximum number of people.

Holiday parties have been organized and sign up sheets for food are going around. Christmas and New Years fall on Thursday this year. Hopefully, everybody will be open because our little meeting is now closed. Which means, probably that we will hit St. Matthias Christmas Night.

Tonight we read from A.B.S.I. and “Selfish” …

“If we cannot or will not achieve sobriety, then we become truly lost, right in the here and now. We are of no value to anyone, including ourselves, until we find salvation from alcohol. Therefore, our own recovery and spiritual growth have to come first – a right and a necessary kind of self concern.”

We get sober for ourselves. Some folks take a long time to realize that, which ends up in several attempt to get sober, first for others, then finally they see the value in getting sober for ones self.

Yes, this is a selfish program, that is laid out in a way that the steps are, in the order that they are written for maximum usage, by those who work them dutifully. We get to look at ourselves, warts and all, we get to look at the wreckage of our pasts, we get to clean it up and clean ourselves up, we learn, we share, we clean, we pray, then we give at away.

  • You cannot transmit something you haven’t got.
  • This is a selfish program
  • In order to keep it you have to give it away
  • The past is our greatest treasure – there is great wisdom in that statement
  • A Searching and Fearless moral inventory will lead you to Freedom and Hope
  • It is in giving that we recieve
  • It is by understanding that we understand
  • It is having compassion for others, that compassion is returned
  • It is by loving that we get love in return
  • We have to love ourselves, before we can love another
  • God cannot fill a full vessel, one must empty the vessel in order for it to be filled
  • If we don’t clean house, how can we give to others?

“This great experience that released me from the bondage of hatred and replaced it with love is really just another affirmation of the truth I know: I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” B.B.pg.552