Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. B-Down Gobo Light Show – Memories. A Wordpress Production

SOBRIETY

November 20, 2015 … 11 years

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11 years ago tonight, with family and friends present, we exchanged vows and spoke sacred words. Today, we continue to live into those words. Tonight, we had dinner at the fabulous FIRE GRILL, once again.

I have shared before that there are three restos, that are at the top of the budget when it comes to dining out …

  • Fire Grill
  • Rueben’s Smoked Meats
  • Baton Rouge

This short list is a foodies paradise of good eats.

I am grateful that I live in Canada. Due to recent events, in the world, people are at odds, and words are being spoken, that are totally, out of left field. I’m not sure most folks, politicians and leaders alike, know what they are saying.

My tight group of friends are at odds with each other, because of differing views of current events, and what each of them thinks, as to what we should do and how we should do it.

The ties of friendship are being tested. And if a second conversation that needs to take place, because the first one began and ended badly, doesn’t heal the rift, I am afraid that my circle will be broken over non-negotiable statements.

We are Canadian. And we, for the most part, share Canadian values, and for some, that is not good enough. Everybody has a right to their opinions, because of their origins, how they were educated, and how they each decide to live their lives.

No One Person has the definitive answer, because, let’s face it, we don’t. I don’t think a real, tangible, solid, workable answer is possible amid the heat of argument and prejudice.

Let us keep each other in our thoughts …

Notice I did not say “prayers…”

Religion has become a dirty word. People are choosing to incriminate all, due to the actions of “a few.” And that does not bode well, for an entire community of people, world wide.

One day we will see this for what it really is, and we will shake our heads and say to each other …”Was I really that stupid?”

Yes, we really are that stupid.

At least I can unfollow people. And I can turn the channel, and better yet, I can totally turn off my computer when it all gets to be too much of hateful overload.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


Thursday – Feed the “Right” Fire

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Our local weather has indeed turned. We are sitting at (10c) at this hour.

Last night it was cool enough to warrant a little heat, just to break the chill. Today, as it happened, I crated the A.C. for the Winter. We won’t need it again this year. It was cool and comfortable all day, but as the sun went down, it was markedly cooler.

I broke out the winter jacket and my toque collection.

It is October already, can you believe it? Thanksgiving is not far away. The second Monday in October, but I always cook on the Sunday. And This year I have a full table, with the addition of Baby Mama and Baby LuLu. Which meant, today, I went to my local butcher shop and ordered a 15 lb turkey that will be in on Monday for pick up.

It was a full day of coffee dates and get togethers. I had more coffee today than I usually drink in a weeks time. My tummy is not happy at all.

We headed out for our usual Thursday fare. And a very good friend of mine was in the hot seat.

I’ve known her since she came in. I’ve been present for her, at several meetings in town. And tonight, we got to hear her share.

Oh to be young again.

It is, on one hand, great to see young people in the rooms. But at the same time, it is terribly sad to know that alcoholism is an equal opportunity predator. I was as young as she, when I came in the first time. But I lacked a lot of what I see today in our young people. And I don’t see it the same way in many people, but there are a select few who, have learned about:

“Feeding the right fire.”

I haven’t heard those words in a long time from any of my friends, put so succinctly.

Once a fire is lit, in order to keep that fire burning, we need to feed it with fuel. And for many of us, as young people, we learned of “fire” and were enamored by it. It was warm and soothing, and in the beginning, it kept us warm and shed light on our pains, and fears.

More like, burned away our pains and fears …

But like many, once that fire was lit, it felt so good, that we heaped all the fuel onto that fire that we could to keep the burn going for as long as we could.

Sadly, in the end, we all came to that terrible “Crash and Burn” end.

Some end up in jail, some end up in hospital, many end up dead.

My young friend, at the end, was lying in a tub of water, a broken bottle on the side, and thinking that she could not go on any longer, contemplated joining the “27 Club.”

Ten points if you get that reference …

Most women I know, when the end comes or life takes a serious turn, they do what comes natural, “they call their mothers.”

That started the ball rolling, not to mention closing up shop, moving provinces, and living under “family rehab” as she put it.

She, like many, fed that fire of addiction to its bitter end. She had to stamp it out, once and for all. And she needed help. Months later, she came to us. Now she is one of our gang.

A beautiful young woman of courage, faith and beauty.

She talked of spirituality, that which she chooses to call God. And she warned us tonight that recovery is no laughing matter. And is not for the feint of heart.

Shit is going to get real, and it is going to take work.

Those who begin and end their days praying and meditating, interspersed with meetings, inventories, sponsors, and sponsees down the line, learn about the “Right Fire.”

Spirituality is a fire, that when lit, will warm our hearts and keep us warm in the cold. Because alcoholism is a cold and patient predator. But if we learn early on, what that fire means for each of us, that becomes powerful, personal flames.

Today we feed the Right Fire. And we do what is necessary to keep that fire burning.

Because we all know, each of us, what it felt like to get burned from the inside out, gong down in a hail of drugs and alcohol. It wasn’t pretty in the end.

But as young people, we get sucked into bad fire, and once sucked in, we are on for the ride until it kills us.

Thankfully, our young people lived through burning destructive fire.

Now they are here, safe, clean and sober. They never have to go back.

The rooms might not have been where they really wanted to end up, but for most, I can safely say today, was the best choice they have all made in their lives.

And I get to know these young people.

The best part of my community is that young people are so glad to have us.

That thanking hug was the best part of the night.

Not to mention giving my number to a man, on his valiant return after a slip.

Pray for him.

Feed the RIGHT fire within …


Sunday – Pride and One Leads to More

tumblr_mpbpmk3oUO1rnykcvo1_500 scottmalfoyCourtesy: Scott Malfoy

Montreal’s week of PRIDE events culminated earlier today with the annual PRIDE parade which stepped off, just up the block from home, not that I was, in any way, inclined to go anyways.

The older I get, the less I am inclined to go out and parade myself in public, when at the parade all you see is buff beautiful people riding floats and marching. I just don’t get into objectification and all the pretty pretty people. Maybe I am just old and jaded, and maybe it is also the fact that I have bones with the Montreal Gay community that are old bones. I shop where I shop because of the people who work at those shops. And I have gay friends, inside and outside the rooms, but as a community as a whole, many of them turn me off.

But it was a party nonetheless.

I had people to see and things to do well before the meeting even opened, so it wasn’t like I had a block of hours to devote to going to the parade, standing around and people watching. I didn’t. And my people come first in any case.

Yesterday I spent the better part of the afternoon and early evening with some of my guys, since we haven’t been able to spend time together these past few weeks for one reason or another, but the stars aligned yesterday.

Today I had an appointment with a client who is a blog customer of mine. I do web customization and Word Press installs for some of my friends. People want to blog because of their profession and some for personal reasons. One of my clients is a film maker friend from the room, so I have been working with her for a while now, formatting and organizing a bilingual blog (read: French and English) as well as her films. Every Word Press theme is different and offers different perks, so I teach how they work and sit down with them to work out the kinks and the layout.

This site is an uber iteration of Modularity Light Theme. I have tweaked it and worked it out to work for me. Getting to know a theme and how it works, then making that theme work for you takes a while on intense, sit down and thrashing it out. Doing that on a laptop is not my preferred idea of fun, I’d rather work off my desktop. (read: Much Easier)

We cranked out set up between several folks. And our matriarch stood back watching happy, peppy people, smiling and laughing together and we all had a moment of gratitude.

We sat a full house. And we ran the read and the discussion all the way around the circle with not a moment to spare. Tonight’s read: The Car Crasher …

Themes included:

  • One leads to MORE
  • Having just one is impossible
  • Controlled Drinking is useless
  • We need to finally admit we have a problem
  • And we cannot do it alone
  • We need to come to the point where we realize Divine help
  • Then ask for it and accept it when it comes

The theme of drunk driving was popular for discussion. How many of us did it, those who got away with it, and also those who got caught.

I noted that watching my grandfathers, uncles and my father drink with impunity was something that I paid close attention to. Because when I started drinking, I drank with impunity myself as well. And that did not go so well, because there were consequences for my actions, and I paid a heavy price from my family, which made me pretty resentful because why should I be treated any differently, than the way the family treated every other alcoholic in the family?

It was a common belief among us that God does take care of drunks.

It is harrowing to think how many of us tempted disaster by getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, with just us in the car, and for many, with their children in the backseat to boot. These stories are numerous. And Not uncommon. Nary a drunk and their alcohol can be separated for very long.

But I remember one particular day when my mother took me aside and said to me:
“Don’t ever drink and drive, because if you get caught, you are finished.”

That stuck in my brain for all these years. I did pay attention to those words, because I never got caught. I am not proud to say that I drove while intoxicated many times in my early drinking career.

The bar I haunted was mid way between work and home, in those days. I would stop for happy hour and tie one on, then drive the rest of the way home, one eyeballing the white line all the way, get home, change my clothes, and drive back, the same way I had come, to go back to the bar and finish off the night very heavily.

The one time I did get stopped at a checkpoint, I had a roll of Rolaids in my door pocket, so I ate the whole pack, hoping to get the scent of alcohol off my breath long enough to answer coherently, the cop who was asking me if I had drunk that night, to which I said … NO !

That was the last time I took that route home after that.

But like every alcoholic, the party came to an end, when I became a story in the back of the book, when the woman I was living with was getting sober, and I was the alcoholic tornado running through her life, locked me out and asked me to leave. I was not very proud of that either.

All of those friends I used to drink with, including myself, eventually got sober, just not all at the same time, which was a pin in the ass for the early sober folks who had to deal with us drunk a few more years before we would eventually get sober.

In our story our man knows he’s in the mix. He actually figures out that he has a problem, because every time he drinks, he gets fallen down drunk. So he attempts to do some “controlled drinking” which does not end up really working for him.

He comes in and gets some time, but he then begins to think to himself that, alright, I’ve got this licked. Maybe I will go have one beer. Which leads to more beer, which leads him to the pit of despair. He is powerless from the first one. And that for him, like us, One leads to MORE.

Funny how we, many of us, that is, battle with the notion of powerlessness. How dare you ask us to admit we can’t handle our liquor. And then proceed to tell us that alone we are powerless and that we need to find a power greater than ourselves who will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves? That Admission is crucial to getting sober. To finally get to the point that we are willing to concede we may have a problem and that we need help, and that when we ask for help, HELP does appear, seeming out of no where.

Some forget the harrowing details of their last drunk debacle. They get some time and then get cocky and believe that finally they have licked it, and they go back out for some controlled drinking. And that may take a while, but for some, it only takes very little.

Usually they end up in worse state than when they began.

I know why I got sober and how the rooms worked for me.

And I know, also that there are those who hate the very notion of the program.

But I will say this again.

If you come and you get sober, and you work the program like we did it, and your life does NOT get better, we will gladly refund you your misery and you can go on your merry way.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries – Relationships

tumblr_lx332xnuMf1qajbwho1_500 justathoughtfulmindCourtesy: Just A Thoughtful Mind

It was reported by my sponsor tonight, that when he awoke this morning, up North, at the cottage, that the temps were in the low single digits. We haven’t seen single digits yet, overnight, but little by slowly, the nightly lows have dropped into the mid teens.

We need at least a week of (Tens) for the trees to trigger and begin to turn.

The weekend weather was stellar but will go down hill overnight and well into Tuesday.

We sat a full house tonight, and we got the read and the discussion all the way around the room, and a cake to go with it this evening, ending right on time.

The first section of Experience, Strength and Hope, deals with the stories that were collected and published in the first edition of the Big Book back in the late Thirties.

Those first one hundred sober folks, did not have the Big Book to read, nor Steps to work, nor any of the tools that we have at our disposal today. They had their long suffering wives, their children, and a sparse handful of men, who found the solution.

Within those first 100 sober folks, who counted days and months as something incredible, they only had each other and their story telling ability. It was the spoken word, shared between one alcoholic and another. That is an incredible thought.

A common story, told by an uncommon story teller.

A common theme runs throughout those early stories, that of the:

“Sodden drunk husband, and the long suffering wife with kids in the background.”

It came up in discussion tonight, how many of the wives mentioned in most of the stories, stay. They use all their powers of refusals, denials and threats to get their husbands to quit drinking. Those first stories speak about the wives getting very savvy and find the solution, and then physically driving their husbands to “Town’s Hospital” in New York City for treatment.

They do not mention “A” particular hospital, but we know from other sources that it is indeed Town’s that many a drunk end up in. From historical literature published much later, we learn about this system and how it worked.

Funny, that in the end, for many drunk husbands, it is the wife who figures out what to do.

Back in the day, one did not read, often, of divorce, but separation is common among the stories. Divorce, was a taboo subject, and was not reported often. Which led to the comments about relationships by some of our folks tonight.

Many of our women noticed the long suffering wife, who stayed by her man.

When I was born in the late 1960’s, alcoholism was rampant. We are three generations strong in the drink. I’m not quite sure if my brother perpetuated the drink, into his own kids.

None of the women in my family would have left their suffering husbands because of the drink. It seemed that those pesky wedding vows, kept them beholden to their sodden husbands, for better or worse, and in good time and bad. They accepted their lots in life and dealt with it each in their own ways.

My father had always told my mother, that she could never leave him, because she had no place to go, and would have no money to get there either. My mother was a captive Canadian wife, whom my father assimilated into American life. She would not have had the wherewithal to find a life on her own, even if she thought about leaving him.

Alcoholism was an evil scourge for us. And God forbid, anyone talk about it openly, or complain about the drunks, running amok in our lives. Nobody ever said a word.

I imagine that today’s divorce rates are high due to many things. We see many separated and divorced folks in the room today. It is not like it was decades ago, with women not having a say in their destinies and lives.

Women today have the ability to tell us alcoholics to “Go Fuck Ourselves…”

The other discussion that came up was about guns. In this particular story, our man is drinking with his buddy. And at some point, both are sodden drunk, and are trying to figure out a way to get back into the house and past their wives, and between them come up with a number of salacious stories about how they got so drunk.

One story goes like this … Our man, sodden with the drink, is standing on a bridge, ready to jump and holding a gun to his head, and his buddy comes upon him and saves his life, and is not delivering said man to his long suffering wife… They end up, not at home, where they planned to go, but in the hovel of a space, where the buddy lives. He has a gun, and attempts to shoot himself, but the gun is empty. Which sends our man running for the hills is fear, and he ends up home, where his wife is waiting … with the solution …

Which brings up the story about Angry Larry …

One of my stories that is in the book talks about my friend Larry. He is another AIDS survivor. Back in the day when we were all sick and dying, many of us were trying to get sober as well.

Larry used to bring a loaded gun to the meeting and he would say that he would either get sober or he was going to kill himself. That went on for a long time.

Larry eventually turned it around and became a leader of the community.

Back in the day, when we were dying of AIDS, heterosexual mortuaries, Read: Straight folks, would not touch a body with AIDS. They would not prepare the dead, nor allow anyone who worked for them to have anything to do with an infected body.

People were turned into the streets.

Larry, in his infinite sober wisdom, figured out what to do and did it gladly.

He built a mortuary. He got a license and opened his services to the community.

Larry did what the straights would not. He allowed his friends to die with dignity, gave them a place to be where family and friends could mourn them properly.

Larry broke the stigma and was celebrated as a hero amongst us.

Let no one forget what he did for the least of these.

It was a good night, everybody is well.

We’ll see you all soon.


Friday … Offensive People

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21 – Because sometimes you need a happy dog photograph

It is late, as this entry is being written. Another successful week in the books.

I am always amazed at just how things turn out when I just go with it.

I sorted out my outline yesterday, and restructured my program a bit. Speaking to my writing coach this evening on the way to the meeting, I explained what I had done, in anticipation of our discussion over that outline tomorrow.

We talked about Change tonight, and as that was the topic of last night’s post, I need not go over those thoughts again.

The only thing we have to change in sobriety is everything.

The sooner one lets go and lets God, the easier it gets.

Funny, how folks desire to hang on to old ideas and old perceptions of themselves, deciding that if they let go and really allowed themselves to “change” they would not know who they would become, and that’s kinda the whole mystery of sobriety.

You never know what you are going to get on the other side.

I had breakfast with my sponsor this morning and I finally completed my Step 6.

After more than a year working on it.

Some people in the rooms have no class or tact whatsoever. A woman (read: militant, shaved her head, lesbian)  made comments to me in passing at the meeting that really rubbed me the wrong way. Some people don’t understand the power of the written word or what some words mean, when strung together in a certain order.

I can speak perfect CUNT too …

If you are going to comment on something I wrote, at least have read the piece correctly and understand what was written instead of giving me your judgment of the most important story in my life that I have to tell. Some people have no fucking class.

You might have more time than I do, but you sure aren’t sober.

Tomorrow is another day. We will have Portuguese pastry and coffee.

Oh and I got a copy of

Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho

With English subtitles.

Finally we get to watch it from beginning to end,and actually understand the whole story.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Cold, Mechanical, Repetitive, Why ???

tumblr_n13s5xEYHg1st07y0o1_500 thebraingasmCourtesy: The Braingasm

“In sport, like life, in order to be good at something, one must practice …”

The Pan Am Games in Toronto started off with a BANG !! And from the start, Canadian Athletes showed the world just how good they are at what they do, with multiple GOLD medal wins.

Torontonians, are not very enthusiastic about the games, we are hearing. If it were The Olympic Games, you wonder, if they could get their heads out of their asses and stop worrying about traffic, and get on the bandwagon and support our men and women who are competing, the Pan Am’s are a dress rehearsal for something much bigger, but it seems the people, really don’t care one way or another.

They also say that these games, are being judged on Olympic Levels, hence, if Toronto pulls of a great games, they might be in the future running to bid for an Olympic Games.

Wouldn’t that be something.

Saturday evening I went to visit one of my guys for a few hours. And we continued the conversation that began the night prior on the way home.

From the foundation of a tenth step inventory, we come around to Step 11, the spiritual practice.

At 11 years sober, I was going to meetings, and doing everything right, but after hearing it said to me, I really needed to step up my spiritual practice, if I really wanted the pay out that sobriety promises, if we stick to the game plan.

Not knowing where to start, Bob suggested Steps Three, Seven and Eleven prayers, daily, nightly. Saying them for as long as it took for them to start making a difference in my life.

So that’s what I did, for months and months.

The principles explained in the book, are universal. We talked last night, about a man who got on the path to be better, and he eventually did get better, following a prescribed plan of action. His daughter spoke to my friend telling him what her father did, and in the listening, he recognized that the man had followed the steps, to betterment.

But he never came in contact with The Book.

People may never come in contact with The Book. But some do find “The/A” path to wellness, and those pathways usually involve some kind of adherence to certain principles and practices.

“In sport, like life, in order to be good at something, one must practice …”

My friend accepts that going to meetings is necessary to stay sober. Meetings are repetitive, we read the same readings, read the same books, say the same prayers, over and over and over again.

Rote, Cold, Mechanical and Repetitive…

He admits to not having a spiritual practice and the reason he doesn’t is because it is cold, mechanical and repetitive. I added that, why do we go to meetings, and do the same things over and over ?

To learn how to get and stay sober.

So I am suggesting to him that he find (Read: Build)  a practice of prayer and meditation. In fact, I tasked him with Prayer and Meditation, every day for the next month.

Just DO IT. Don’t ask me why, I just want you to do it.

I don’t want you to plan it or map it out, I want you to pray and meditate, organically.

Just let it flow.

So we opened the book, and we read the prayers, and we even highlighted them.

We read Step 11 in its entirety from The Book.

I explained it this way …

Usually, we are in our heads and that means a little insanity when it comes to dealing with situations and problems. Something happens and instead of first, thinking and pondering what we are going to say, we just blurt out the first words that come to us.

And usually, that ends up in an apology one way or another, because we shot our mouths off.

It’s not What you say, but How you say it …

If we want to be fully oriented in the spirit, be fully aware of the universe and the Power Greater than ourselves, we need to make that connection. Then we need to practice communicating on that channel. Then we need to be able to sit quietly and patiently, and wait for an answer.

That usually does not come directly from God.

No, it’s gonna come from someone close to us. In a voice we know.

Because that’s how God works, dontcha know !

If, in the morning, we are orienting our minds and spirits with God, then we enter our day, from the right direction and with the “right” side of our brains, instead of the impulsive, “wrong” side of our brains.

Does that make sense to you ?

If, during our day, we are a bit disconnected, we can STOP, and reorient ourselves, with a moment of thought, prayer, meditation.

Stop what you are doing, and if need be, go to the bathroom, and shut the door.

Sit on the throne of thought, and meditate …

If you don’t pray and meditate, then why not ?

I got the answer written above.

Which is why I suggested a months worth of practice.

You may not see a change right away, but if you give it time, and you practice, and you stop, wait and listen, I can assure you, God is going to show up. Be He in the guise of a word, or a feeling or the presence of another human being.

We get up, start our day, sometimes we are off and running as soon as we open our eyes, yet our feet haven’t even hit the floor.

I’ve heard it said, that Prayer and Meditation begins the moment we open our eyes.

You might not get that, or do that, but I do that. Because I was told that it works, and months and years later, I can report that it does work.

Dealing with Life on Life’s Terms, on a daily basis, can get rough, depending on what life throws us at any given moment. And I rather like having a framework to consult, when shit happens and I am not quite sure what the hell to do.

You know, they say, if you are on FIRE, to Stop, Drop and roll …

In life, before you start, Stop, Drop and Pray …

Get on your knees and pray. That is an act of humility.

How many of us humble ourselves before God ?

hmmmmmm ……

Life, for me, seems to run smoother, when I do what I am told to do, and if I can’t, I practice how to do it, until I start to enjoy it, and later, I find that it really does work.

The outcome of practicing the art of Anything is particular to every person.

No two outcomes will be the same.

I can promise you that the end result will eventually blow your mind.

We sat a full house. A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … TRUTH set me FREE !!!

tumblr_nc9hsq2i2A1syuvebo1_500 jd2canadaCourtesy: JD2Canada

It’s beginning to feel like Summer, Finally !!! This week will see temps rise into the (30’s,c) and no rain in sight for a few days. However, there are many places out West on the Prairies, and in B.C. as well, who could use some serious rain. Wildfires are burning out of control in many places, and families have been displaced or have lost everything to the flames.

Yesterday was another banner day. Spending time with friends is something we all enjoy together. We hit the mall shopping like mad women, we had a meal, and then ice cream at Place Ville Marie, where we watched the Carifiesta Parade go by. Lots of Caribbean folks, with floats playing obnoxiously bad music, very loudly, as if to add insult to injury.

We hosted another full room once again. And we seem to be on a roll with one topic the past few days. It seems the readings from all the books, as we are reading them, all have mentioned or are based around the topic of money. Again…

I get to tell you another story about money.

The title of tonight’s read is, “Truth, set me free.”

Our writer, from the later 1930’s find himself in a pickle, and then attempts to get sober, with a small “beer experiment” that did not last very long. But one day, without the ability to pay his bills finds himself financially strapped. He walks into a bank and tells the officer that he needs funds, BUT that he is an alcoholic, and he is on his way, sober. The bank officer listens to him tell the truth, (even breaking his anonymity to do so) and she turns around and speaks to him about GOD, the “Divine Comforter.”

She does not know him from Adam, yet here she is telling him about trust, doing what is right, and talking about God.

She goes on to help him, even in his truth.

He walks away from this experience with what he needs.

A friend told a similar story that happened to him. Walking into a bank, breaking his anonymity, and walking out of a bank with a credit card, being broke at the time. The woman in the bank heard his truth, and she stepped up to help him anyways.

The next night he goes to an N.A. meeting. And who is the speaker that very night ?

But the very same woman he saw in the bank the day before.

IS THAT ODD OR IS THAT GOD ???

In early sobriety, I needed many things. Pots and pans, food for my fridge and some much needed cash. In the beginning they kept telling me to go to more meetings. I did that.

My experience thus far tells me that If I have a need, that I should always bring that need to a meeting. If you have something that is on your mind, or a need you really NEED, then take it to a meeting, and SPEAK your Truth.

God seems to like us addicts and alcoholics, because you would be very surprised to hear me tell you that, in the last almost fourteen years, I’ve never had to go outside the circle of A.A. for ANYTHING.

Take it to a meeting.

That is sane, sound, advice I tell all of my friends and fellows.

I share this at meetings.

Because you would be surprised to hear someone share something they need, and inside that very hour, get positive responses and almost always, a solution.

I can’t tell you how many times that happened for me over the years.

When I was in the hole, and I needed help, I always asked for it.

And every single time I did that, HELP appeared.

God did for me what I could not do for myself, and to this day, he continues to do so for me and countless others.

I don’t know what it is about God, to do things like that, but every single time I needed help, the right alcoholic was there at the right moment.

Example …

We were in the middle of classes one term, a number of years ago, and my desktop computer crashed and burned, and was in dire need of repair. We did not have the $200.00 to pay that kind of bill. I went to a meeting and spoke that truth. At the end of the meeting a member walked up to me and handed me $200.00 in cash. We were totally floored.

Over and Over again, sober members helped me out in ways that I could not imagine.

IS THAT ODD OR IS THAT GOD ???

The book talks about rigorous honesty in all our affairs. And it also talks about having HAD a spiritual awakening as a result of THESE steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in ALL our affairs.

Half measures availed us nothing.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

If we are honest from the start, I can attest that God will do for you what you could not do for yourself. In EVERY area of your life. But you gotta get honest and tell the TRUTH.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – “Complete Security?”

pope_francis_quote_graphic_1024x512-1-1024x512“Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.”

It was another stellar day today. And it was a Go, Go, Go kind of day.

I had some shopping that I needed to do early on, then I was set to have a meal with Baby Mama, while baby LuLu was napping.

I spent some cash on some new summer clothes, that I was in great need of. One of my friends, is a huge inspiration and has great sense in clothing. And as I was shopping, I was thinking about him. I found a few items that were on sale, and I had never seen the shirts before, so that was a deal.

I returned home and went to buy a meal for our lunch date. Single Motherhood is no walk in the park. And trying to build a home by ones self is a daunting task. Thankfully, she is not alone. We have an entire team of folks on twenty four hour duty for her.

While the baby was sleeping, (thankfully we had two hours of peace and quiet) we ate and spoke of many things. People have been coming and going for the past few days. A crib was delivered last night. Today, another woman brought curtains and more pillows for her bed. She also donated an entire bedroom suite for her bed style. So far, the bedrooms are complete with bedding, curtains and furniture. The last room to be furnished will be the living room. We are seeking a driver to ferry them over without having to pay a small fortune for a mover.

I brought new clothes with me to change into because I needed to hit the Shadows meeting at five, where on of my guys picked up his two month chip. Now he is two months clean and sober from all substances. Next month, on his third month, we will assign him a single date for both, so that he is tracking one timeline instead of two.

We went for pastries after the meeting, then hiked back to his house up the mountain, where we found his fiance home from a day of bridal dress shopping. We invited her to come for the Friday Night meeting. I was very pleased to see a Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on her bedside table, which started one serious discussion of all things “Potter.”

YAY for Harry !!

A few minutes later, we made a fifty one bus to the Friday meeting. I usually take that bus, but coming from the East, traveling West. This bus was an Eastbound route. I quite enjoyed the bus ride because the route is a remarkably touristy ride, past beautiful neighborhoods that I had never seen, with million dollar houses, and tall stone churches with pristine yards. It also goes past Saint Joseph’s Oratory, the most important of churches here on the island.

We all decided, in the near future to spend a day trekking this route together as a day event.

We made it to the meeting with about thirty minutes to spare. And we scored the ever important Front Row sobriety seats at the table. And the topic tonight talked about “money,” which in turn lead to the mention of the PROMISE, noted above…

It was good to hear shares from across the spectrum concerning this topic.

After I had said my piece about how we learned to respect money and how to properly use it, pay bills, buy food and still have ample, if only just enough, I thought of a particular story that I wanted to write about here.

Do you remember back in the day, father’s went to work and made the money, and mom was in charge of spending it, properly. Back in those days, we did not have credit cards, (we’re talking about the seventies) we either had cash, or when necessary, a check.

I remember my mother using the checkbook, with the ledger.

We would go to the grocery store, and wait in line for the manager of the store to sign off on a check, affording my mother the ability to spend a certain amount of money. Over time that amount would rise. In the eighties, when big box grocery stores appeared, the all important check approval routine was still alive.

Alcoholism was alive and well in my family. My father provided everything we ever thought we needed, but we were not spoiled with riches and spoils. When we moved for the last time as a family, my father climbed the financial ladder so well, it afforded us a three bedroom house, with two car garage, a one acre yard, with many fruit bearing trees, and the biggest ticket item, a screened in, in ground pool.

We had arrived.

Among the families we grew up with two were middle class white, and the third, was the richest family we had ever come to know. They had the same lot, same size, same acreage, and pool, but they were “better off” than my father had ever known. My father could not compete, but he damned well tried. One Ups man ship was the call of the day.

By the time I moved out of the house, I knew how to take care of a house. I had had several part time jobs, so I knew the value of the dollar and the ethic of work. But with stars in my eyes, and alcoholism on my back, I set off to find “gay” in the gayest city of Florida, Orlando, the home of the Tragic Queendom and the ever popular “Parliament House, hotel, pool bar and show lounge.”

Sadly, Alcoholism was rampant. I was powerless and my ethic of work for money fell apart.

The money I spent on alcohol over the decade of my twenties, would probably have bought me a home. And the cash my father paid out to get my car back from repossession, took a direct hit on their retirement for sure. One fact my parents never forgot.

Where they managed money and drank, well on both accounts, I failed at miserably.

After I was diagnosed with AIDS, I was shit house poor. Thankfully the money Todd paid me, more than compensated for my financial situation. What I did not know in the beginning, was the price I would later pay for survival. Back then, twenty one years ago, we got second hand medication from dead people to start with because there was nothing new on the horizon.

Two years later, in 1996, I fell, quite unexpectedly, into a treatment program in Miami, where I began to pay the ultimate price. Imagine how much life saving drugs cost, when you have no insurance. And you are living on social assistance, (that’s welfare speak).

Medication ran thousands of dollars a month. THOUSANDS !!!

Thousands that I did not have, even working under the table, until I got so sick, I almost died to get on disability. I literally stopped taking my pills, did not shower for weeks, and ended up in that social assistance office, where I literally coughed on my social worker, and fearing for her own life, she finally signed off on my application, after four rounds at trying.

That was a sub human existence.

I would not wish that ordeal on my worst enemy.

I am sure, had I stayed in the states, I would be long since dead already.

I think about the things we did to stay high and drunk boggles the mind.

And the amount of money we poured into our addictions.

I don’t know how I survived. Maybe my will to live, was alive and just waiting for me to finally stop and get straight. Or something greater than myself had my survival on His mind.

After getting sober this time around, all those years ago, we had a bare apartment, with shoddy furniture, broken appliances but a roof nonetheless.

It only took thirteen years for us to learn about money and how to use it properly. We learned what it was like to have nothing, together, to having a little, and sometimes barely enough. But over time, we learned how to respect money and we learned about what “enough” was.

Today we have enough.

I’ve never been so grateful in my life for health, life and love.

Instead of spending THOUSANDS of dollars a month for medication in the U.S.A. For all of my medication, ALL OF IT, I pay no more than Eighty dollars a month.

You think the decision to move North was wise ???

I do. Certainly.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … A Little Bit of Everything

tumblr_ln3takPnYT1qemrxpo1_500 dyingwontkillyouCourtesy: Dying Won’t Kill You …

After yesterday’s miserable weather, today was magnificent. It was warm, with blue skies, a light breeze, a picture postcard day, that many agreed tonight, we’d like to see for the rest of the summer.

Today was moving day for many folks, who put it off for twenty four hours because of the shitty weather. I was roused out of bed this morning by Team Baby Mama and only had time to get dressed, (then rifled through my kitchen bagging everything that we don’t use or haven’t used in ages)… They picked me up and off we went to move Baby Mama into her forever home.

You wanna hear something STOOPID ??? yeah, of course you do…

They took up the carpets and put down hard wood floors in her apartment. Then they painted. They painted everything that stood still. They did not take any of the face plates off the walls for the electrical sockets nor the light switches. They just slapped paint all over them.

Now the apartment has three pronged plugs throughout the apartment. But none of the three pronged plugs are usable because they painted right over the plugs, the plugs are all plugged up with paint, making them unusable. Cheap, Cheap, Cheap …

Can you say STOOPID !!!

All thing considered, the apartment is furnished. We are missing some tables and a sofa for the living room, but both bedrooms have beds/cribs/draperies. A handful of women donated a boat load of housewares, kitchen gadgets, microwave and other assorted thingamabobs.

It was a very successful day.

I headed home for a break, then headed off for our Thursday fare.

Last month we heard an Old Timer, with a little time. Tonight, we heard his wife speak, and she has a little bit more time. They met when he was in rehab here in the city, as she was working with the women in the same house where he was, and they were introduced.

She adopted him. Then asked him out on a date, which came after several requests.

Over many cups of coffee and a few meetings later, they got married. Both are in their seventies today. Who says, sobriety does not pay off, when you stick around long enough?

Both had stories about Montreal in the 1940’s. I always like great stories.

One of our long standing members took his twenty seven year cake.

It was a good day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …

That post on the disease of MORE is still percolating …


Thursday … FIRE IT UP !!!

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21Courtesy: Minhos21

I’ve been thinking about this image all day long. It goes along with our theme tonight:

BESTS …

After my not so sober post on Sunday, we return to regularly scheduled programming.

We begin on a very happy note.

We are still experiencing on and off rain/sun/rain again/sun … weather

Tuesday, the city was under a severe storm warning all evening, into the night. The threat of rain, and the size of Baby LuLu’s stroller, was the deciding factor for hitting the meeting.

The rain won.

We began reading Living Sober. This book is probably the third most important book to read in early sobriety. The most important book, first, is our meeting list book, because it has all the meetings listed in the city (read: over 500 meetings a week). Second is the Big Book.

Living Sober is the book we suggest our new folks to read because it gives you actual practical advice about how to “live sober,” if only that in the beginning. We are faced with certain situations and life experiences that, when we used and drank, were really, not an issue.

But now we’ve given up the drugs and alcohol, how do we manage and mitigate those situations soberly, when before we used to use? There are many chapters in this book, that talk about various situations, feelings, problems that we may face, now sober.

Along with other sober human beings, having a book that tells you what to do, is also very useful.

But nothing beats talking to another human being when times get tough.

That’s what we are all here for.

Wednesday Night Cookery …

With Baby Mama moving back, we’ve all been working very hard at making sure she has everything she needs. On Wednesday evenings, I go over to her house and I cook a meal that we share, and she gets leftovers for the rest of the week. This is so I ensure she is eating, not that she isn’t, but a little more food is good. Next week she moves into her forever home.

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

Which leads very nicely into tonight’s offering.

We got to St. Matthias early. I got to reconnect with a friend that I spent a good deal of time with, discussing some very serious topics the other night. He listened to what I said and that proved to be useful to him.

Then as we walked back inside the hall, a very familiar woman was talking to our greeter. I had not seen her in a while, she is a West Islander, so seeing her in the city, is a treat.

It was a double treat, because, she was our invited speaker.

She is on her way, God willing, One day at Time, to her five year mark this fall.

The last time I heard her speak was more than four years ago, which would have put her, just inside her first year.

There are no “Bests” in the rooms. We usually don’t think that way. But one of my guys was in the meeting and at the end he said to me that “her share was the best share he had ever heard.”

I have to concur…

The routine in the room is “what it was like, what happened and what it is like now.”

That is the method.

Every delivery of that method differs from person to person, woman to man, young to old.

I’ve said before, that hearing people share, more than once, or even several times in sobriety, allows me to hear wisdom in their words.

Where, in the beginning, we hear the story, and at times, said speaker might be in the middle of their story, so the resolution into “what happened” might not be over yet. They might not understand or see the wisdom or grace of portions of their story, until they are standing on the other side of it, or even, having the wisdom of time, and hindsight to be able to see their progress in certain areas, or have concrete feelings one way or another about their story as a whole.

Here in Montreal, the odds of hearing someone more than once is high. That depends on how many speaker meetings you hit in any given week over long periods of time.

Those odds go up, if you hit meetings here in the city AND hit meetings on the West Island.

I know of a handful of people I’ve heard speak at a speaker meeting more than once. Some, also hit discussion meetings, but many don’t.

Tonight, we laughed, we cried, we sobbed and came full circle and laughed again.

It is very rare to hit all of these in one night.

The loss of a child, I believe, is one of the greatest heartaches, any mother or father can go through, and I can’t touch that feeling because I’ve never lived it.

  • Most don’t make it out.
  • Many go back to the bottle, usually much heavier than when they were just “drinking for effect.”
  • Now they were drinking for an entirely different reason.

And let me tell you, this kind of drinking would usually end up in death, for any normal drinker, but for an alcoholic, it is suicidal drinking.

Survival from this kind of drinking is a miracle.

At some point, man or woman, we get to the end of the line. However we get there, we get there, usually in a haze of delusion, or a crash and burn situation.

When the end came for our woman, she made that crucial call.

The man who took that call, was sitting in the room with us tonight.

Hello, Alcoholics Anonymous, my name is ______ HOW can I HELP you?

His first sentence was “IT’S GOING TO BE OK!”

For a woman who had never heard that before, that was earth shattering.

She took herself to what we call “the Squirrel Cage” on the West Island.

The squirrel cage is a small meeting with a handful of folks, which is an offshoot of the main meeting which used to be held at the same time, in the same location, in a different room.

So one used to have a choice. Today, only the Squirrel Cage remains.

A member was at the door, in her words … “600 year old man …”

He welcomed her warmly, took her to get a cup of coffee and sat her down.

She wanted to slink in and not get noticed. We are savvy alcoholics, if you had not figured that out yet. Anyways, at the end of the meeting, folks took her into their hearts, 100%.

She really wasn’t sure about the program or the work involved, but she had to walk her road.

You hear the same things in the beginning.

  • Go to meetings
  • Read the Book
  • Get a sponsor
  • Do the work

Reticent to do all these things, they took time to begin. She sure as hell was not going to get a sponsor, and if she did, it would be a man, like mistakes she had already made.

They told her to find a woman ? A woman, she responds? “Yes a woman.”

In the end she met, in her words… “Hitler.”

Sometimes we need a swift kick in the ass to get started. For most, this approach sends people running for the hills, but there are those who take certain concrete directions from the get go.

Sometimes there is no better time than the present to get started.

And her sponsor said to her …“IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING !!!!”

You know, I didn’t get that exact message when I came in, but I was willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, so I did everything I was told, without question. Because the first time was a gift, the second time I had to really work for it, and I worked it for all it was worth.

I was eleven year sober when I heard that exact message.

IF YOU WANT WHAT THE PROGRAM OFFERS, THEN GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING…

Our woman got off her ass and she did the work. She did something that most people balk at, looking into our stories, seeing the pain and heartache, for her this was immense, dealing with the wreckage of her past and making peace with it.

Then the suggestions of prayer and meditation rose.

In her words …”You want me to pray to a God, who took my child?”

You must be kidding.

The vehicle for her prayer life began with her child that she lost.

In her words … “My child came into my life, only to die, and bring me to this place of grace.”

She has come full circle.

She needed her child to get to a certain point. Now, with a few years of wisdom, she was able to let her child go back to God, where He could use her.

All along, there is her son, who now is almost twelve years old. A child that has seen her through all her mishaps and bad decisions. A child who, himself, once or twice, said to her,

“REALLY? Do you think this is a wise decision?”

Her son, had that kind of intuitiveness.

At the end, with him sitting in the passenger seat, mom in her pajamas, no seat belt, drunk, wraps her car around a tree, he survived. When the car stopped, he got out of the car and ran for his life, screaming for help.

Can you imagine what that little boy feels after living the life he had up until that point?

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

On moms first anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms second anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On moms third anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, he said no …

On her fourth anniversary, she asked him if he wanted to come, this time he said yes!

A few days ago, he said to her, “October is coming soon? mom said yes,
and he said, I want to be there.”

These are just snapshots of the entire message.

Points that I think were important to talk about.

Who can you call, and get help, right then and there?
Where can you go, and find people who “know” where we have been and not run?
Where can you go, and have your life change and to see dreams come true, in certain order?

No Where…

We might be a rag tag bunch of alcoholics. But when push comes to shove, we will move mountains to see you succeed. I don’t know any other place that this is possible.

There is no place I would rather be, then here in this life, with my kind of people.

Because I would not have the life I have, or the lives we have, if not for these people.

We laughed, we cried, we sobbed and we laughed again…

I love my life.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Fired Again (read: Self Sabotage)

tumblr_mny6xdcYk61qmbg8bo1_500They warned us that it would pour down rain today … We are still waiting on that.

It was a beautiful day, albeit a little steamy. Everyone was prepared for rain, that has not materialized yet tonight. Today is the first day of Summer, and it is also the longest DAY of the year.

I had a long discussion before the meeting with one of my friends about family, dogma, resentments and anger. And we both agreed that it takes a pretty good amount of energy to live with these issues in our everyday lives.

I wonder what it takes to tap that kind of negative energy and from what well it comes from and how some people can live that way and be fruitful and productive.

I don’t have that kind of spare energy to devote to those kinds of things. I need all the energy I can get just to live my life as freely as I do today.

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

We sat a full house. Our men and women are engaged in step work, which is a very good thing for them and for us.

Today we read “Fired Again.” This particular story happens in the early teens and twenties, well before the conception of the fellowship. And one thinks, how did these people get better when help was still a ways away.

So the story, as it happened, fell before Dr. Bob and Bill were introduced, yet this story comes from the First Edition, which means, that our man, in this story, was introduced to the good doctor at some point in his life, and finds the solution.

Family alcoholism is not a new concept. This problem, for me, can be traced back, three generations. By the time I came along, and my brother as well, alcohol was a major food group.

It was part and parcel of everyday living. My father always said that he would rather have his children drink at home, then going out to get it. And that was the line we were fed early on, when getting beer from a 7/11 was the routine.

Alcohol, for our writer was the constant, around which he tried to build a life, get a job, find a wife, get married and have children.

You could say this story wreaks of “All About Me.”

From a very young age, driven by the disease of alcoholism, he would get work, want to be the best and make the most money, and if he found out that someone was making more than he was, he would quit said job and go somewhere else.

This routine repeated over and over again. Later he would end up fired from several jobs in succession.

This is All About Me, You aren’t paying me enough, turning to, I can’t get by, I need to make money, I want a life, a wife and money, but I am hampered by unrealistic expectations, and the desire to drink is stronger than the desire to get along with my life.

Unsatisfied with the mere gratitude and satisfaction of just having a job during that period of time, and making some money, where ever he went, alcohol followed.

We read shades of self importance, arrogance, self centeredness, and resentful attitudes.

There was no pleasing this guy, given the times he was living in. You might say that some one barely getting by, living from hand to mouth, would be satisfied with just having enough.

Just enough wouldn’t fly for him, he had to have MORE.

The disease of MORE was alive and well, even during those days.

Not only MORE, but MORE on his terms, or no terms at all.

You play the game my way, with my rules, or I am taking my ball and going home.

It is apparent that for many years, our alcoholic man, was living in his insanity, expectations that were well outside his ability to reach, and a drive that ended in the hole, monetarily, personally, physically, morally and spiritually.

Throughout the story, our guy realizes at certain points, that the drink, might be the problem. So he moderates and for a bit, even stops drinking, on his terms, by himself.

Well, we know how that routine usually works out.

The next step is sanitariums and institutions. Which he does several trips through. He attempts the Three Day Cure, once, twice, three times, and a longer stint in detox.

But he fails and drinks again.

In the end, facing a very distraught wife, sullen children, severe debts, and nothing to show for his efforts at working, due to his superior expectations, comes full circle. Finally, his wife, hears about the good doctor, in turn she turns her husband on to him as well.

Our man has a moment of clarity when he writes … “If these men can get sober and live within the means of The Solution, then I can get sober as well.”

He could not do it on his own. Alcoholics, left to their own devices, don’t have snowballs chance in hell of staying sober, without help.

Some, in today’s day and age, would beg to differ, and argue that one can, using one of many techniques today’s world can offer.

It came down to the one tried and true route …

One alcoholic talking to another.

By the end of the story, our man is introduced to no less than twenty men who found the solution, by common identification, and got sober. These first men would be the integral, core founders, of the fellowship.

Alcoholism is rampant way back. And the more dire the situations, the stronger the desire to drink. The whole mystery of alcohol is alive and well, and the attainment of alcohol was the most important task of those early alcoholics.

These first stories run on that common theme. One alcoholic talking to another. That’s all they had, each other. Can you imagine what that must have been like? It was by grace that these folks got and stayed sober. If not for them, we would not be here.

Everything we have and everything we are, comes because of those first 100 men and women.

We are lost, if we forget the contributions of the first founders.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Calm Courage

kneel

“… Indeed, that was the essence of A.A. itself; trouble accepted, trouble squarely faced with calm courage, trouble lessened and often transcended.”

We have tweaked the blog a bit. A little bit of change, with a few new images and a new header we are featuring. This photo comes from my preacher friend Gordon in Texas. This was his worship space where he ministered to his flock for many years, before giving up his church to go into the field and find God.

We are in a rain today, sun tomorrow, rain to come, and sun to follow kid of pattern this week.

Today we were on the upswing.

I spent time with a friend, and we followed that with a meeting. Tonight, the night was still bright at nine o’clock as I walked to the bus stop on the way home.

Tonight’s topic: Trouble – Constructive or Destructive

I listened to the reading twice and I did not think that I would have anything to say, until a friend drew upon this line from the reading.

Troubles … I’ve had my fair share of troubles. God has a funny was of making his presence known, and that usually happens when I am in serious trouble. Someone up there is watching me and keeping an eye out for me as well. Because I seem to have navigated this life, well, sometimes living on the edge it might seem, at certain times.

When have we transcended our troubles ?

And at what point point does transcendence take place ?

What would you call transcendence, how would you know ?

An old timer once said to me that, in order to see wisdom, you need two things:

The benefit of time, AND the experience of hindsight.

When we find ourselves in trouble, sometimes that trouble might seem, insurmountable when we are in the middle of it. And it might seem that trouble will never end. In most cases, save certain troubles, let’s say, life and mortality, troubles come and troubles go.

It is how we manage these troubles that matters.

As a young person in my family home, there was trouble. And I surfed it to the best of my ability. When I moved away, that trouble ended, but that did not last, because where ever I went, trouble seemed to follow. I must consider my youth and naivete. Add to that, my own blindness to the one trouble I had, that I never realized was a trouble (read: Problem).

Often when we read the Big Book, Bill had a certain way of writing. He never used the same word twice. If he was trying to get a point across to you, he would use as many words, that meant the same thing, without telling you that that was what he was doing, and I did not learn this until recently, when someone pointed this out to me.

You could use the word “trouble” or you could interchange the word with “problem.”

I skated through life, until I hit my mid twenties. I thought I was getting by, when I really wasn’t. I was involved with someone who was walking trouble. When that relationship went south, one night I walked into a bar, alone, and on that night, my life changed.

God began his slow emergence into my life. He knew better than I did, that pretty soon, I was going to need his help, because the trouble that was coming, would rock my world.

I can share these stories with you, because I know for a fact that in certain cases, I squarely faced trouble, and I transcended them.

TROUBLES SQUARELY FACED …

I was at work on a Sunday afternoon, and my mother called out of the blue. She tells me that my ex boyfriends mother called HER, to find out if I had seen him, because his mother could not reach him.

A few days would pass. Eventually, the police got involved. We found him a few days too late, and by that time he was long since dead. By this time, I also had the bar job at night. And God, in his infinite wisdom was right where He needed to be.

And not a minute too soon.

Suicide is never a good thing, for the one who kills themselves, nor for the persons they leave behind. How do I describe what it felt like to have a coroner call you and ask you to come and identify remains ? How do I quantitatively explain the gravity of such a request?

Do you know what a corpse looks like 5 days in ? I do…

His mother’s last words to me, after I identified him, and signed the papers to send his body home for burial were these …

“I hope for the rest of your life, the last thing you see when you close your eyes is my son’s dead body !”

I can tell you that twenty two years later, I can still see him, as I did on that fateful day.

I was still drinking. Let me tell you, I drank A LOT of liquor in the days that followed that day and that specific conversation. God was watching. Very closely. My friends, at one point, tried to intervene in my excessive drinking. They got me into therapy. Suicide survivors therapy.

For months, it seemed, I sat in a room, with family members, who were left behind. And I listened to them recount their specific war story every time someone new showed up. I kept on drinking, and I was working at the bar.

Todd passed an edict that nobody could drink while on the job. Ok, that was cool. There was plenty of time to drink after hours. And I did that. For a calendar year.

The second big trouble hit. I get a call from a certain friend, who tells me that my ex killed himself, because he was diagnosed with AIDS. Well nobody told me that !!!

Soon after that, I got very sick. I was in the middle of two tragedies.

One, facing the loss of a life, Two, facing the end of my own life.

That is when God stepped in definitively and took control.

Mortality, that, is one of those troubles that many don’t surmount and win.
Death is a forgone conclusion…

I can tell you that in both situations, I surmounted those two troubles, and I have transcended them. I have more than twenty years experience of time and hindsight, to offer.

When people began to get sick, it was inside a flurry of live fast and die young.

Where all of my friends decided to go out in a blaze of drugs and alcohol, Todd decreed that he would never let me go that way. He stepped in and kept me focused on living and surviving. He chose me, out of all those sick men to help. Probably because everyone I knew, including my family, tossed me to the gutter and I was alone.

All of my friends are dead. I am, very soon, going to cross my twenty second year, and I am still here. Those two very cathartic events in my life have come and gone. And while I was in the middle of them, it seemed that they would never end.

I can tell you squarely, my troubles came to an end.

I don’t know why I am still alive, nor why I lived and everyone else is dead.

God, is the only one who knows that answer, and He hasn’t shared that answer with me.

That means I get to tell this story as many times as I have to, to teach you all what can happen when one allows God to come step in and take control. Hopefully, these specific two stories will change a life for the better.

And maybe, just maybe, I will save a life.

I did not know what “Calm Courage” was. Todd did. I did not know if I would live or die. Todd did. I did not know life would end up this way, Todd did.

I don’t know how he knew, but he knew things that I needed to know.

I know … Now …

When I finally got to “that day” (read: the day I was supposed to die) And I was still alive, Todd helped me decide what I was going to do with myself. I was going to live.

I can tell you, that it was not the easier softer way, No, I took the long way round.

In the doors, out of the doors, back in the doors, I survived a third cathartic “trouble.”

God stepped in a third time and saved from me from imminent death.

Since I got sober the second time, my troubles seem insignificant, when I look at them against the lens of having survived suicide, my own mortality, and a near death experience.

There is no trouble I can’t face and deal with.

Unlike, many people on the earth, who walk around (some, blindly and not knowing from one moment to the next), I have someplace to go when I need help. It might cost me a loonie ($1) or a toonie ($2) at best, or it might cost me the price of a cup of coffee.

How much would you pay for someones life experience if you knew that experience would save your life? You can’t monetize life experience.

The rooms provide things for us, that normal human beings probably spend thousands or more dollars trying to find solutions to their problems.

If only everyone was an alcoholic.

They would have access to our fathomless bank of experience.

Today I have “calm courage.” I know this, because my experience has shown me where it saved my life, when I should have long since died.

I don’t often recognize it and sometimes I take it for granted.

All I need to do is stand in front of my medicine cabinet.

Instant gratitude…

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Home Run, Mission Accomplished

tumblr_npm0kk2JV41rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox

We continue with our Baseball Themed series tonight.

Today was “D” day. The day that had to come together no matter what the cost, or time commitment. Our team of go getter ladies stepped up and took care of business.

With only 16 spots available for the 60 odd people who showed up to register their kids, we got Miss Lu Lu a spot in daycare, based on her dire need and our immediacy of placement of the baby. She got bumped to the head of the line.

There was much dancing and tears of joy for Mama. She could not have been more pleased to see this final hurdle come together as it did. Now all we need is for her to get on that plane tomorrow afternoon and come home.

It will a most festive day tomorrow, the day we all have worked so hard to see come to pass.

We spoke to New Foundland before the meeting where it was a chilly 10c, where here it was 24c and sunny.

We sat a full house. And read the story: “The Salesman.”

Once again, our story takes place in the 1920’s and eventually our man, by the end of the story had attained two years sober, at the time of his writing the story. Two years seems to be the magic number for those first 100 sober folks.

As a young man our writer comes from a farming family, and sees big business and dollar signs he imagines will come forth, if he becomes a traveling salesman.

And as stories go, he learns how to drink. Then he looses himself in the drink. And he becomes a traveling “drunk” salesman. This is not good.

He starts drinking … then stops !

“Is he gonna get it or is he not?”

He starts drinking again, and winds up in the loosing column, he stops again, this time a little bit longer !

“Is he gonna get it or not?”

He starts drinking again, and winds up in hospital, drunk and poor.

“Now, he might trip over it …”

A doctor. known for his solution oriented program, introduces our man to his men.

He’s not sure about these people, or the God angle, but in the end, it comes down to one alcoholic talking to another, with stories told, identification dawns.

He begins “The Work,” in earnest.

He writes that “it was a good thing they got him to work so soon after he quit drinking, and that kept him busy.” We are not talking about business work or making money. But it is inferred that they got him into talking to others and sharing the solution.

In the story, our writer talks about how he started his days, with a double shot of whiskey, just to get on the page. It wasn’t for the hair of the dog that bit him, but a necessary imbibing to get him rolling.

And as I sat there listening to one of my friends read this passage in the story, I had a sick feeling, I may have not had a drink in a long while, but my brain remembered just what whiskey feels and tastes like going down my throat.

As I sat there, I felt that whiskey go down my throat.

That’s never happened before.

Mindful, how close we are to the drink, if we forget what it was like, and then the next thought comes that “maybe we can handle another drink, normally!”

I sure as shit don’t know what normal drinking is, nor do I want to even contemplate a drink.

If we have nothing in common, we have our stories. The stories may differ, drinking histories, men or women, young or old, the basic theme is the same.

We began to drink, then we get taken by the drink, and end up in the loosing column with nowhere else to go.

You reach your bottom when you STOP digging.

Tonight, all of our folks, men and women, are sober, and have stopped digging.

All of us are in some way engaged with The Work, to some extent.

The themes of turning it over and letting go came up.

Who knew a room full of crazy alcoholics would have a solution to whatever ails us ?

G.O.D.

Good Orderly Direction
Group of Drunks
GOD.

One way or another, you find that power that is going to help you get and stay sober, some know what that is, others still don’t know, but they are sober another day, we all agree, that something greater than ourselves is doing the job.

Maybe it is the power that resides in each other, when we come together to share.

One alcoholic talking to another. Crosses all boundaries to that place that receives.

A good night was had by all.

Tomorrow is the Big Day, watch this space…

More to come.


Saturday … Double Play

tumblr_np1kb7y0531rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox

Rain Rain Go Away, Come again Another day …

This week, it rained, and rained and rained some more. Kinda pissy rain, not a flat out pouring, however it might have, I was just out when it was just pissing …

Today, the skies cleared and we have sun and blue skies.

It is the big week this week. The project that we have been working on for more than a year comes to a head on Monday. Tomorrow we hit our last hurdle, getting space in a day care for Baby Mama’s daughter. The girls are taking care of that.

Monday Baby Mama flies in with assorted luggage and the baby. We will be meeting her at the airport Monday afternoon, and bringing her to her temporary home, until her apartment is ready on the 1st of July.

We’ve spent the last year working with her, finding her a place to live and sort out baby needs between St. John’s N.F. and here in Montreal.

There is a lot to write about, so much that a second post will go up after this one.

Thursday was all about friends, cake and major milestones.

I have known our speaker man ever since I got sober. And I’ve heard him share several times over the last decade or so. We only hit one speaker meeting during the week, so repeat performances are usually slim. Anyways, He tells the story, but what I took away from his share was the wisdom that has come about his story and how that relates to the present.

Time is the one constant that we have that polishes wisdom of our lives.

One of my long time friends celebrated thirty years. I can’t believe he’s been sober that long. He hasn’t aged a day in ten years. It is fact that he got sober in his twenties, which speaks to his longevity. I’ve known him as long as I’ve been sober as well.

The LGBT community came out in force to celebrate his anniversary.

Our guys are preparing to go away for work this summer. One of our men is in South Africa with his family for the summer, departure one, two of my guys leave Wednesday, departure two and next week for the other, departure three.

Friday was spent with people coming and going, friends came over for a visit, and then I was off to meet up with a friend before the Friday evening event. (it rained)

As Friday goes, it is the best night/meeting of the week. We sat a full house and then some.

The topic, “Freedom through Acceptance.”

When we come in, who wants to admit they are powerless over alcohol, and also, everything else in our lives? And who wants to turn it all over to a Power Greater than Ourselves in the second breath? But it is true, that when we do relent and let go and turn it over, things begin to turn around. For some, it takes longer than others.

In the end, “We neither ran nor fought, but accept we did. And then we began to be free.”

I learned the first time around that, in reality, there was no where else to go. And I knew nothing, and I needed serious help. And help stepped in. I loved this man more than I had ever loved anyone else up to that point.

So I gave it up. I allowed myself to be led, to be healed and to survive.

I’ve spoken about this before in great detail. Hindsight tells me that when I needed God the most, He came, incarnate and walked with me for that period of time. I am 100% percent sure of this fact. It happened, I survived, and today I am here because of it.

I know what that kind of freedom feels like.

When I got here, I again, had nothing, I knew nobody and I needed serious help. Over time, I met folks, went to meetings, and one day at a time, turned it over to people who knew better than I did, and I survived, and today I am here because of it.

I’ve had my God conversion. I know there is a God and I am not He. I can talk about God of the bible and God of the book. But I am better at talking about God, as He presents himself through my friends lives.

My friends are sober, they have had their own experiences. I just happen to be in the same room at the same time. We are here, we survived and today we are here because of that.

When I turn it over, to my friends and fellows, and I trust in God, as I understand Him, I thrive, I prosper, and I become strong, I gain strength when I let go and let God. I don’t need all that power or strength, nor do I need my ego. The simple power exchange between that which I know and that which I do not know grants freedom and power where I need it, when I need it.

At the end another friend took a year chip. We are all very proud of him. It has been a long year for him, but we were steadfast and we did what we could for him, and he stayed sober.

It was a good end to the week. Everybody is sober.

Another post will follow.


Tuesday … If You Do This Now, it will Pay Off Down the Road

tumblr_np8sopPXWW1rkbqteo1_500 whffboxCourtesy: Whffbox – Montrealer Baseball BooYah !!!

The weather has turned on us, and it rained cats, dogs and little fish today.

At first, I thought I’d get around the rain, being at the right location at the right time, but I decided against such an assumption, because when I got to my transfer point, it was pouring rain.

Even though it rained, our folks, and then some, showed up. We are one episode from the end of Joe and Charlie, today we heard the Step 11 talk.

I’ve said in the past that, the Big Book is written in a really specific way.

  • Each Chapter deals with a certain topic that
  • Leads into the next chapter
  • You can, if you wanted to, read a page,
  • Or you can drill down further and read a paragraph
  • and even closer, read a sentence
  • And down to particular words on the page.

Joe and Charlie, take us through the Twelve Steps, and at times, they stop to talk about a particular chapter/page/paragraph/word. During those talks, they often parse particular passages down to word for word explanation.

I found this method of reading very helpful, because I’d never heard this approach before, and it furthered my understanding of those certain passages. We work the Steps in the order that they are presented. And the further you get in your steps, if you read the book closely, you will find earlier steps mentioned later on in the book.

Steps four through nine, repeat themselves when reading Steps ten and eleven.

We do the steps the first time through, to the best of our ability. As we progress, and we hit a second set of inventory requests, Steps ten and eleven, (in the book) we return to earlier steps to drill down closer to those things we need to look at, first, in the morning, and then again before we go to bed at night.

I’ve spoken about the three different people you find in meetings:

  • Those with No lives
  • Those with Half lives
  • And Those with Full lives

When we come into sobriety, where ever we are in our lives, I mean in the subject of lives, wives, husbands, careers, school and work, each human being brings with them whatever they are engaged in at that time.

In time, we are told that if we put anything before our sobriety, we will usually end up loosing it. But some already have lives they are living, and at some point, decide or have it decided for them, that they need help, and they come to us.

Then the challenge is to be able to learn the discipline of sobriety, and to work that into your sober journey.

  • Some can do that,
  • some may be able to do that,
  • then there are those who cannot.

I guess I was lucky, because when I got sober this last time around, I had no life. And I was taught certain guiding principles.

If you DO THIS now, it will PAY OFF down the road.

  • Your home group is sacrosanct
  • Never miss your home group, without a really good reason
  • If you can, hit as many meetings as you are able
  • Find the balance between your life activities and you sober journey
  • Find a sponsor and work your steps

I am not a “throw a Big Book” at you your first days in. I would rather you find a chair, get used to the chair, relax into the flow and become part of. You will, eventually, find your groove, and your voice.

For a while, I would go to meetings, but I wasn’t prepared to step up. Until I was taught what I really needed to do, to be able to step up. I was sober a long time, coasting, shall we say, until a man from New York, turned on the fire for me.

Early on I had begun a certain discipline of meetings, home groups and service. I had the right men show up and sponsor me as I needed them. I did exactly what I was told, without question, because, like I said, I had no life really.

I had to build it. And in time, life happened. I HAD the discipline already set up, so as life began, I worked my life around my sober journey. And I’ve done that for almost fourteen years.

I’ve been through my steps several times. And it has only been in the last three years that I have learned how to drill down my steps and parse the words that appear on the page to a finer degree and that has changed everything for me.

Prayer and Meditation are the two topics in Step Eleven.

  • How do we do that,
  • When do we do that,
  • And how does it work?

My daily life, is really tossed into the wind. (read: I make plans and God laughs at me).

I enjoy the fact that I have this ready built in system of discipline that I get to augment as the years move forwards. It is something I learned to do in the beginning, and today, I work on perfecting that methodology and practice.

I don’t have the ability to travel to far flung places, spending days, weeks or months, praying and meditating like some “old timers” get to to. (Read: I’ve read this about some sober folks who are long time sober).

I’ve heard it said that prayer and meditation is something we should do BEFORE our feet hit the floor. What ever your morning or evening ritual is, in time, we should try to work in a period of prayer and meditation into our daily lives.

Joe and Charlie talk about the morning rituals of the normal human being. From getting up and First, hitting the bathroom, Second, the coffee pot, Thirdly, Back to the bathroom, Fourth, getting dressed (making sure everything matches), then going into our days.

We spend an awful lot of time preparing the physical and material parts of our lives. How much better we could be if we add into that ritual, some prayer and meditation, however long you can stand to begin with, (and we will see over time, how you augment that effort).

I was eleven years sober, doing my thing, when Bob asked me if I could recite prayers from the book word for word. I could not. That began months pf practicing prayer every day, and every night, until I began to show. That took about eight months.

The recitation of Three, Seven and Eleven throughout the day.

I can’t tell you how it works or why it worked the way it did, but after eight months, God presented me with opportunities, that had not occurred in the past. I was ready to Step Up. For some, they came to me, because they saw something they wanted, and in other cases, I stepped up myself and things went as they have.

  • Prayer is the act of reciting or saying prayers
  • Meditation is the act of waiting for a response to those prayers

For some, we spend a awful lot of time asking for things, just for us, in the beginning, but we learn, in time, that God does not care about what we want. In the end God cares about giving us, just what we need, on a need to have basis.

I learned that this time around. Because I went at God, those first months, with my list of

  • I need this,
  • and gimme that,
  • and if it’s possible,
  • this would be good too.

Over the weeks and months God responded with

  • NO,
  • NO,
  • Ask me later,
  • Maybe Tomorrow,
  • and in the end Definitely NOT !!!

If we pray, we sort of have to wait for an answer. I’ve learned over the years that God does speak to us, sometimes daily.

The Man/Woman – God relationship is a vertical relationship. ( UP – DOWN ).

The God – Woman/Man relationship is Horizontal ( LEFT to RIGHT )

If God is going to speak to us, that answer is going to come from someone close. On our level. From someone we know. Which is partly why I go to meetings. To listen for God to talk to me.

And if I am so inclined to pay attention to my fellows, there will come a time, when God speaks directly to me (read: Us). That Does Happen, and frequently too…

God doesn’t usually drop out of the clouds to talk, he usually uses an intermediary.

Be careful what you ask from God, because if He thinks you are ready, it is going to come or it is going to happen, and usually much greater than we had expected.

When finally, in sobriety, you are ready to Step Up, working with another human being is the greatest act of humility and character building you will ever experience.

Having walked through Joe and Charlie, as my guys work their steps, respectively, I have a little bit more insight into how to work, how to read, and then how to work our steps by parsing the pages, and not skipping through paragraphs, and missing the words, in between the words.

  • I remember, daily, that life is not all about me.
  • I am not the center of the universe.
  • That I don’t have all the answers
  • I get exactly what I need, on a need to have basis, (ALWAYS)
  • and that turning it over and helping someone else or caring for another human being,
  • is my greatest act on a daily basis.

Do you know how many years it took me to learn all these lessons, understand what they meant, and how they work in my life? More than DECADE in sobriety.

If you do this NOW, it will PAY OFF down the road.

More to come, stay tuned…