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Steps

Friday … Fathers and Their Babies …

rockyAnother busy week is in the books. Lots of people to see, things to do, Steps to be worked for some, and sharing meals with people I care about. That’s the kind of week it has been.

The weather has been stellar. Lots of Sun, Heat and a little humidity, but not like the heat they are getting over in Europe or down in the South. Thank God … For air conditioning…

This week I practiced being present to my friends, and breaking bread with them as well, two of the most important things we can do to create “Connections.”

Which leads quite nicely into the next paragraph.

The Opposite of Addiction is Not Recovery it is “CONNECTION.”

I heard this a while back, probably on another Ted Talk. Today a friend of mine who works in Colorado posted another similar talk to his feed. So I went and watched it.

One can never get enough of Ted Talks in my opinion.

When we were/are out there using, for most of us, we are isolated, and alone. And we engage in soul destroying activities like drinking and drug use. We become, “Disconnected” from ourselves, our families and our friends.

A well known psychologist in the U.S. studied this problem, also looking at how the U.S. and other countries punish, shame, incarcerate and disconnect addicts from their lives and others.

In Portugal, they decriminalized all drugs and began providing “connections” for them. They got them help, the state actually participates in rehabilitating addicts back into society, wherein they go to a business and say to them … “if you will employ this person, we will pay half their salary.”

They are building people up, instead of tearing them down.

Punishing, shaming and incarcerating addicts is the wrong approach, as said by those who have studied this problem, Worldwide.

Another scientist took lab rats and in one case, put a solitary rat in a cage, with two water bottles. One was regular water, the other water laced with heroin.

The lone rat, with no connection or activity, drank the heroin water until it was dead.

He placed another rat in a cage with the same two water bottles. But in this cage he added a rat run, with slides, caves and things to do. The second rat, ignored the heroin water, never drinking from that bottle and it stayed clean.

He never mentions ways to get sober in his talk. The entire talk was centered around making human connections, for addicts, and just how we can do that for our friends and families.

The Human Connection is the most important aspect of our lives, whether we are using drugs and alcohol or not. In today’s day and age, with the prevalence of social media in all its forms, humans are devolving into their smart phones and gaming consoles and music delivery systems and totally disengaging themselves from other human beings.

Everywhere you go, people are connected to some kind of electronic device.

On the bus, on the train, and even while driving a car, sadly …

When people in our groups come to us, they are broken, soulless, and alone. But for one reason or another, they have come to a meeting. The most important part of the meeting, for any meeting, is when we welcome the newcomer.

We invite them to connect. We invite them into the one act that might change their lives in ways they can’t imagine, at that very moment.

But it is the connection we try to make.

We offer our time, we offer our phone numbers, and we offer coffee and meals, to bring people into our lives, because we cannot keep it, unless we give it away.

And then you hear those words, maybe for the first time in a long time …

YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANY MORE …

For many, this is the first time they have heard those words in a long time.

Today, being present, available and accountable to my friends is what I do with much of my free time. And you would be pleased to hear someone tell you just how important that connection was and is to them, and how that connection sustained them during dark times.

“PRESENCE” IS THE GREATEST GIFT WE CAN GIVE FRIENDS AND FAMILY.

Over the last two to three years, I have worked very hard at “Connections.”

And that has been the huge difference in the lives of people I count as friends.

Every night we come together, to connect. And that is the God’s honest truth for our Friday Night Meeting. People come to this meeting to see their friends. It is the one night a week, where we are all in the same space at the same time, it is the best night of the week for us.

Tonight, we heard a reading from a very old Grapevine and the second portion of the reading was taken from Step Ten. The nightly inventory.

The reading warns us about the fact that we have no opinion about outside issues. And the reading centers around the models people use to get better. People, worldwide, use various tools to be better, to get better, and for some, to get clean and sober.

Be that Religion, Spirituality, Counseling, Therapy, and many other modes of help.

The Book tells us that we do not own the monopoly on sobriety. And we are also not the Be all End all solution to your problems.

However we offer “A” solution.

The step reading talks about restraint of tongue and pen, and how important that little phrase should have on what we think, what we say and how we say it.

The flip side of this notion comes like this, as was stated by one of our women.

“Yes, we should always practice restraint when we might keep our mouths shut, unless we have something to share, BASED on life experience, but also, to know when to say NO, you have stepped over a line, and you are wrong, and I need to stand up for myself.”

There is a fine line between argumentativeness and Self Preservation and Boundaries.

I’ve been in situations where I was attacked and I had to learn how to defend myself, whether that dealt with my personal being, my education, and my sober life. In the end, I just had to leave them alone, wait patiently, they would tire of attacking me, and finally go away.

This is true …

  • I earned a B.A. in Religious Studies
  • Certificates in Theology and Pastoral Ministry
  • I am unabashedly a Gay Christian
  • I’m sober almost fourteen years
  • And I am married

It took the attainment of these things for me to see the wisdom in the words that are contained in the Book and the Twelve and Twelve. That has taken many years of study and guidance of fellows and my sponsor.

It has been a beautiful week. I have beautiful friends.

On the way to the meeting and on the way home, I saw two fathers carrying their sons in those body hugging wraps. It was so sweet.

On the train ride home, a family was in my car, and dad was carrying his son, holding him close to his chest, hand on his head, and it just made me smile a big smile. And it warmed my heart to see love like that between father and son.

All kinds of warm fuzzies …

It was the BEST night of the week once again. As is usual.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday – The After Party

Do you believe in Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are totally blessed.

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

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

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

In the end LOVE WON.

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

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

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

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

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

Well Done Supreme Court.

It was Great day and a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Now, Later, Maybe and Never

friends becomeThe Up/Down temperature swings have leveled off, and today we swung into sunny, hot and moderate humidex readings. Thank God for Air conditioning. I was wise to load it up a few days ago, when they warned us that this trend would come.

When temps rise above 18c and above, things begin to get sticky. Living amid the concrete jungle, here in Western Downtown, cement and concrete buildings, warm during the day, then radiate heat when the sun goes down.

We aren’t insulated for seasonal hot and cold. This building is concrete and most apartments have windows across one entire wall, no matter what direction you face. We face West, which means, we get direct sunlight from 11 a.m. through till sundown.

That gets very warm. We get so much sun, that over the past decade or so, we had hung blinds, we papered or foiled the windows to turn sunlight away, these things did not help very much.

When we renovated the space a few months ago, we splurged on special sun sensitive roll blinds that work really well. They cut the heat quotient in a great way. With the added a.c. unit in the bedroom, we can maintain the apartment at a steady cool and comfy level.

It was so beautiful today, that I walked from the Metro to the church on the way out. (read: there was no bus waiting at the station, so I walked it).

It was our fourth year anniversary for the meeting today.

It’s very funny, our meeting.

They say, that all you need to have, to open a meeting, is a resentment and a coffee pot…

You actually need at minimum $350.00 to do it right.

And that is exactly how Vendome started. ONE pissed off alcoholic and his resentments.

Many years ago, well, four to be exact, Tuesday Beginners was in transition. We dropped from two meetings on a Tuesday Night, to just one. One of our members wanted the key and said he would operate the second meeting himself, in our space, inside our window of occupancy.

That idea was instantly nixed …

So he left, and along with my current sponsor, opened a brand new meeting right up against Tuesday Beginners, but half an hour earlier. Which put it smack dab in the middle of the Five o’clock shadows meeting at 5 and Tuesday Beginners at 7.

All three meetings are close. They are all on bus and Metro lines.

A couple of years later, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners and followed my friends over to Vendome. By that time, the original member who opened the meeting copped another resentment with the group, and he fled. Which left us with a meeting to run and populate.

We were at Trinity for a little more than a year, then the N.D.G. Food Bank, was tossed on the street by their landlord, so they really needed a place to operate, because the food bank serves the entire N.D.G. and surrounding Burroughs. They came to Trinity.

Our meeting was tossed into the auditorium where the food bank had set up all around us, so we were sharing space with them, and several other meetings that book ended ours.

That did not go very well, and we ended up moving the meeting to where it is now. Up the hill and close to Villa Maria Metro and the 24 bus route. Sadly, most of the folks who used to come to Trinity, did not follow. We could never figure out the why? It was only 2 city blocks away.

We’ve maintained the group, albeit, by the skin of our teeth. We aren’t making seventh, hand over fist, and funds have fallen off because we can’t seem to hold over many people, they just don’t come week after week, however, we do have a small group of committed members.

Along with our anniversary today, one of our old timers celebrated 29 years of sobriety.

There was cake, and other goodies to feast upon.

We are closing in on the end of our Joe and Charlie Big Book tapes.

AH, I can hear the angels sing …

We have reached Steps Eight and Nine.

It is said that alcoholism is a three fold disease. Spiritual, Mental and Physical.

In steps One, Two and Three, we realize our powerlessness, we come to believe in a Power Greater than Ourselves, and we decide to turn it over. For many, this might be their first time around with (a) god. But many know who God is, and they have turned away for one reason or another. That solves our spiritual problem.

In Steps Four, Five, Six and Seven, we set to paper all those things that hold us back. Resentments, Guilts, and Fears. After an exhaustive, moral personal inventory, we clear away the wreckage of our pasts. Then we unload it upon someone we trust. We figure out from that inventory our character defects and our shortcomings.

It is also said that we continue to work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives.

That solves our Mental problem.

In Steps Eight and Nine, we make our lists of those we need to make amends to, and prepare to do so, as we are able, with this proviso …

An Amends list is not something to take lightly, depending on how much damage you have done to yourself and others. (read: Family, Friends, Employers etc …)

Many come to this point and balk. So Joe and Charlie give us this tool:

  • Make Four lists:
  • Those we can make amends to NOW
  • Those we could make amends to LATER
  • Those whom we could MAYBE make amends to at some point
  • And those we will NEVER be able to make amends to

Reading the text out of the Big Book, Bill covers almost every single situation that might turn up for someone working at this juncture of The Work.

Many an old timer took to the work slowly. But it is what it is. Amends cross many areas.

  • Personal
  • Business
  • Family and
  • Financial

At some point in ones sobriety, we should complete this list, in any way possible, because we drank, for some, in any way possible. And if we had to Beg, Rob or Steal it, alcoholics and addicts have done that. It may take a lifetime, but we only have ONE lifetime.

So we better make it a good life, in the end.

I’ve done these lists. There are people on each of these lists. With the dawn of sobriety the second time, I had to make amends to certain people, which I did early on, because I could.

When I got sober the second time, about a month in, I met those friends I ditched opting for a geographic, instead of honesty and respect. Those amends were made directly, face to face.

Let me tell you, that was not easy. It took everything I had to look my friends in the eyes and ask for forgiveness.

With the dawn of Facebook, I made amends to my friends whom I had not seen in many years. Many of my drinking friends, are sober themselves, so that made it a bit easier, because they were in the program, and the amends were mutual and went both ways.

There is one woman, a good friend of mine, who is still in my life today, who WAS in my life through every stage of my life in recovery the First and Second time.

We had THAT discussion.

She forgave me. But to this day, my heart aches, every time I think about her or see activity on Facebook, because I have unfinished business with her. You see, she was the only friend who was financially involved with helping to take care of me when I was really sick, my family had long since backed out of any responsibility or desire to help me.

And she carried me to my geographical move and then she left and went on to her own geographical cure. I was all the way OUT, she was only PARTIALLY the way out.

Life went on. But I owe her more than asking for forgiveness. One day I hope to make full financial restitution to her in my own way, for everything that she did for me. But I have yet to say these words to her, because they have been a long time coming.

Then on the final list, are those who I will NEVER be able to make amends to. Those are the people who walked out of my life for various reasons, (which are all about them, and not about me, but really, it is all about me no matter how you cut it).

I was an Alcoholic. I was Gay, I was living with AIDS, and I reside in Canada.

All these things are liabilities.

So fuck me for surviving…

We’ve come a long way over the last year or so. Each pass at the steps gives us perspective, insight and then the gift of hindsight. The greater the vision, the greater the effort to sober up.

We grow up when we get sober, and hopefully, we do it right this time.

Maybe NOW, Maybe LATER, MAYBE sometime, and sadly, quite possibly NEVER.

More to come, stay tuned …


Drill it Down … What’s Done is Done … Act as If

tumblr_md2lb5P8Ep1qenwdto1_1280 laurenmarekCourtesy: Lauren Marek

It was a very productive day today. After having a nightmare that ended just as my alarm clock went off, this one, was new. Feeding off the manic experience I had on Sunday.

Sometimes, we should never act on or say words we might regret, even in the heat of the moment, or wanting to be heard. I read something the other night that said:

“We should be ok living alone, because it is a waste of time chasing people who really don’t care about you.”

The other one came from a friend:

“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” – Jack Kornfield.

I got up, and half decided to go do something that I wanted to do, but the urge to hibernate was very strong. I got into the shower and that did the trick. I got dressed and headed out for the mall.

I wanted to get the next two books in the Temperance Brennan series, by Kathy Reichs. The collection at Indigo is getting slim. I’ve about completed buying their entire stock of books. They only had one of the two books I wanted.

I had some lunch and came home. I logged into the Indigo website and ordered two volumes of the collection, which were in stock. Indigo/Chapters takes major credit cards, but they also take Pay Pal, which is as good as cash.

At the moment, I have 4 books running at the same time.

At the retreat I picked up another biography of Pope Francis. This one is a lot more complete as I am reading it presently. I am still reading Tim Winton, I am wrapped up in Tempe, so I started another book last night, and I bought one today, and two are coming in the mail. Which brings me up to two final volumes in the series that I will buy or order in the coming weeks.

Last week I got my health card renewal slip in the mail, which means a trip to get photos taken, then bring them to the CLSC (read: public health clinic) to get signed and validated with the form that came in the mail.

I’ve done several circuits of the neighborhood today. (read:walking in circles)

I killed a couple of hours before I had my Step appointment at 5:30.

I printed out my post from Sunday evening and brought it with me. I sat with my sponsor and read it to him. He took six pages of text and whittled that down to a sentence of ten words.

It comes down to simple things, first, we are powerless over people, places and things.

The past is the past. What’s done is done. If I want to move forwards, why am I living in the past, (read:revenge,words,feelings,emotions)

I am better off walking away from what is haunting me. What happened happened. But really, for all intents and purposes, just how much power am I giving the past to affect my present? It seems to him, that I’ve given it too much power.

I don’t need to keep bringing certain stories up in community, that certain stories should only come to mind when there is a situation or other human being who is in the same boat, then share the story. I can put certain stories to bed, unless they are necessary.

He mentioned the weekend. And made comment to some things I missed in social cues, and reminded me how hospitality works in sober circles. He also said to me, after reading my sheets, was that I spent way too much time worrying about what people think about me.

But that did not change the fact that I had “this” particular experience.

Human beings are in many ways the same. We want to be loved. We want to be appreciated, We want to be accepted, and We want to hear that spoken. In many cases, that is the norm. When it comes to assholes and attitudes and Egos, these can be difficult.

I tell the lesson about “approval.”

Do what you do well, and master that. You don’t need my approval any more. But one day you might find yourself working for someone who may not appreciate you or the job you do, so you need to be certain of what you do, how you do it, and then do it well.

I am told, that beyond my skewed perception, that people on the weekend had no problems with me and that from what he heard, what I thought was really not the case.

Some people are just not good at some skills of communication. Especially alcoholics.

We are all crazy, we are psychotic, we have personal expectations, sometimes that are unrealistic. Which begs “we should just be gentle with ourselves” and realize that we are not the center of the universe. And that just being … should do us just fine.

I also tell the lesson about “What people think of me is none of my business.”

When it comes to certain people, I had mentioned in my writing, I am reminded that sometimes we have to step up our game of tolerance and acceptance.

I know what my limits are with certain people. And the less I see of them the better.

What do I want removed ?

  • I need to distance myself from the past.
  • I need to accept who I am in the moment, in any moment.
  • I need to not worry so much about what people think of me.
  • I need to get on with the present and stop my addiction to the past.
  • In the end, do I really care about them, or do I just want to get even?
  • The sick side of my brain says, Exactly !
  • The sober side of my brain says, maybe I just need to keep my thoughts clean and my mouth shut.

I guess I am ok with the discussion.

My sponsor agrees that I have grown up a bit more, and that clarity did happen, and that everything is alright. I am progressing forwards.

I think that’s it for the moment.

Mischief Managed …


Sunday Sundries … The Flu Edition

tumblr_libzh0GjqF1qeohomo1_500If a photo can speak a thousand words … Then this one needs no explanation…

Exactly how I feel right about now.

I have managed to keep myself above water, with regards to my daily/nightly schedule these past few days, while fighting a bad case of the flu. Early last week, I could actually feel it coming on, as a frontal assault on my system. It took a couple of days, but by Friday night I was down for the count.

The Friday meeting was a success. When I got home and retired, I was finished for the week. Saturday was a total write off. Besides having to eat, which we did, I slept that balance of Saturday right up until I had to get ready to go this evening.

The Mall is going through another transformation. The other day, I noticed that the vacant space on the ground floor, which has yet to be rented, is slated for an Omer de Seres art store, opening in July. They once had a store right up the block from home for a long time. That vacated building has been torn down recently, and a condo tower is going up in its place.

We had wondered if they would move back into the neighborhood, we can say yes to that question now.

It is T-Minus 5 days and counting for the Target final closing sale. I’m sure what ever is left on store shelves is going for rock bottom pricing. The store was empty the last time I was in there so I am not sure just what they are selling off now?

We don’t know yet, if anyone, will be taking over that lease space. There are rumors coming from several sources that tell us that certain sellers are lining up to buy the Target leases when they finally depart their spaces. I am sure that it will take a few months to tear down, restyle and reopen a new space.

I would not be surprised if I tell you that Target Red might become Walmart Blue in the coming months. But that would be an educated guess based on rumors to their purchase ability in Montreal.

We could use another Walmart on this end of the city. We could use any of the Big Box stores in the downtown core. With the building of several condos ongoing right now, this end of downtown is prime real estate for good anchor stores.

We could speculate for a long time, as to who is up next …

Over the last three days, temps fell more than twenty degrees from where they were to where they are tonight. It was a cold and windy day for the parade this morning. We are sitting at (-10c/-18c w.c.) at this hour.

There were two competing events this morning. One that was sanctioned by the city, the Patty’s Day Parade. The other was an Anti-Police brutality demonstration, that, in the recent past, devolved into violence and arrests. With that threat looming over the parade, several schools pulled their marchers, bands, and so did the Boys Scouts. Better to be safe than sorry was the thought.

The police did their job. The parade was a success. And there was no violence. So far as my research proved tonight. It might have been the cold, but by the time I departed for the meeting, the streets were clean. No garbage anywhere, and no vomit on the sidewalks.

We sat a good group. Our chair did not show. So I was voted in again. Our return rate of young people coming back in, rose again tonight. Over all the losses we suffered through the winter has been proving itself resilient. We spoke about the relapse rate the other night, as being high, but the return rate is high as well.

The Step Twelve read is over twenty pages long. And I did not account for that this evening. We read all the way around and then some, and almost made it around for shares. The read tells us about all those things that will come, if we practice these principles in all of our affairs …

The list is exhaustive and goes over many details that can come, if we stick to the steps and we work them diligently. The theme in the second portion of the read is “relationships.”

A long long time ago, I watched my best friend meet, connect and stay with the man he is still with today. That was over twenty years ago. I wanted that for myself. But I wasn’t really prepared for it, nor did that come to pass for me either.

God needed to strip the tree bare.

I decided that I wanted to grow up, and I did that slowly.

Eleven months in, the miracle happened. It was a do or die situation. I acted.

The rest they say, is history.

There are several scenarios for sober people. They get together, and they (1) grow together and thrive or (2) they get together and grow apart and crumble. It takes a special breed of sober people to make it work and for them to thrive. Individual programs are important. We can’t get sober, or maintain someone else’s sobriety. It just does not work that way.

One either finds the tremulous balance or they don’t.

My marriage is a direct product of more than a decade of sobriety and work.

There is a difference between people who are in it to win it, and those who are not.

Everybody is sober tonight. There is HOPE in the air.

And Hope is what is going to keep them in the nest we hope.

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday … Rambling About Many Things … Insight About Others

tumblr_lbphrtqohD1qbs0f7o1_500 noneedtoaskmynameCourtesy: The Gargoyle – Nothing like a little vertigo !!!

We thought that the weather was going to get better, tonight, it snowed. It was cloudy when we started the meeting, and there was inches of snow on the ground when we left. Tomorrow’s hopeful positive digit temp, has been brought down to a solid zero (0c) tonight.

As of late, children have been in the news, and not for good reasons.

In What the Fuck News …

The first case, a mother was convicted because she poisoned her son with salt, that eventually killed him, all the while she was blogging about his illness, prior to his death …

A second case involves a Muslim mother, (we know this because proceedings are having to be translated into Arabic) she beat and starved her two twin daughters to death. A gruesome story, and the other day the judge stopped proceedings to ask the mother Why did you do that ???

I mean, WHAT THE FUCK OF IT ALL ???

A third story involves “Free Range” parenting … Two small children, were allowed to walk to the neighborhood park by themselves. Because the parents practice “free range parenting.”

The police were called and the children returned home and six police cars followed, with C.P.S service workers to indict the parents for child neglect… Meanwhile, the kids are playing outside in the yard, unsupervised, and the neighbors are going MADDDDDDD ….

I’ll tell you a secret story about children …

When I was in grade school, we used to be bused to daycare after school, my brother and I. We did that for a long time, but at one point, I was like, NO MORE DAYCARE … In those days we had private bus service with door to door transport for our neighborhood.

I forced the driver, to take us home, instead of day care. I was probably not more than ten. This was in the 1970’s in Miami. After that day, my parents gave me a copy of the house key, and from that point on, both my brother and myself went home after school, forever more. Nobody noticed. Well, the spinster lesbian couple across the street knew we were there alone, and minded us if need be.

Nobody blinked an eye, there was no C.P.S issues. Who would you call (back then) to report two small kinds home alone for a few hours, until their parents got home from work? I learned responsibility, I took care of the house, I cleaned, I cooked, (we got our first microwave oven) that was a bit of excitement.

I understand the safety issues of allowing children to navigate neighborhood streets alone, in today’s day and age. There are too many perverts, and sickos on the street and you never know who is going to harass, or kidnap and kill your children if you don’t have eyes/hands on them 24 – 7 …

Let’s just leash them and let them wander around the yard aimlessly, or keep them locked in the house or at some day care center where someone can watch them while the parents can’t !

It is not the same world I grew up in … sadly !!!

I just had to get that off my chest …

I’m better now

So it snowed. We sat a good group. We finished Bill’s Story, via Joe and Charlie.

This is important, why?

I’ve spent thirteen years reading the Big Book, over and over and over. I worked my steps several times and I am in them right now. Last year, our Sunday night group, finished a cover to cover read through the book as well. That took more than a year of Sundays.

There are meetings all over the world, and I know that many meetings use the book as source.

You could go from reading the book, to reading a chapter, to reading a page, reading a paragraph, and finally, reading a sentence. Each chapter/paragraph/word leads into the next in a specific way. Each chapter has its job, to tell you something certain, factual. Which leads into the next chapter, which tells you something certain and factual, so forth and so on.

You could parse down to sentences and words.

For the last year, I have had the honor of working with sponsees. Each of them see me weekly, for a chat/read/discussion. Over the past year, I’m reading the book four times, at the same time, with four guys. Separately.

Like I said I’ve read the book. But it wasn’t until I read it with a sponsee, that words began to jump off the page at me as we read together. I saw things, and realized things, that I had not, in the past. I’m fairly certain, that after spending years reading the book myself, with others (in a group setting), I learned something. So that wisdom was in my brain,

The first section of the book hasn’t changed in over seventy five years, so after so many years, we should have been able to memorize the front of the book. I do know certain sections by rote. And I know the rest of the read, because I’ve read it so many times now.

Nothing will guarantee us sobriety, like working with another alcoholic.

I mean, that’s how it works, doesn’t it?

I am working with a new guy and he is concerned that I should be getting paid for what I am doing in the meeting, and in working with him. I don’t think I explained how that works very well. Someone has to get paid for working with others, he asked ? I gave him his Big Book, and stuff to read, on the side, (we give books to newbies) better they go home with someone, rather than sit in the box collecting dust.

Tonight we heard Joe and Charlie talk about these insights from the book, in the chapter called, “Bill’s Story.” The steps hadn’t been written yet, as the book had not been thought of when Bill got sober in the beginning. But in writing Bill’s Story, the steps are written out. He tells us the steps he took to get sober. Those steps originated in Ebbie’s witness of the Oxford Group, Ebbie told Bill about getting sober himself, and they worked through the One, Two, Three Shuffle.

Bill wasn’t having any of that Religion Shit.

But he came around when ( in squiggly writing ) the book says, “Well why don’t you find a concept of your own ?” With that statement, Bill got on board. He then tells us how he saw, and understood the rest of Oxford’s Steps and how he turned their short list of proposals, into the twelve steps as we have them today.

Funny how Bill negated all that religious shit, when he got sober, but as he sat writing the book, he had religious men, who were advising him on spiritual matters.

And that’s the God’s Honest Truth.

There are those issues that split many people along fracture lines.

  • Religion
  • God
  • Spirituality
  • Faith
  • Practice

The concept of God is problematic. God is problematic. So find your own, but there lies the contradiction between the Big Book, and As Bill Sees It.

It reads: “You can find a concept of your own, whatever works for you is good, then the reading goes on to say, all that is well and good, but in the end it always comes back around to God.”

Well, fuck me sideways on Tuesday !!!

When we get sober, we get new hearts, new eyes, new livers, and new lives. The longer you stick around you get to polish the temple of God we inhabit and so on. The longer you stick around, the more we learn, and that knowledge comes to bear when we sit down with another alcoholic, and do The Work together.

It can be that good !!!

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … It Can Be That Good

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitCourtesy: We Heart It – Four is the magic number !!!

February is behind us, Thank God and hallelujah !!!

It is not so bad tonight, (-6c/-9c w.c.) with light snow falling. Wednesday is still pegged to be the best day of the week coming. A positive temp, in the middle of negatives. That is a start.

This week, is sitting in the minuses, but next week, we will flirt with just above and just below zero. This comes from the weather channel 14 day outlook. Hopefully March will be the transitional month there is snow on the map, into March, so we will see how that plays out.

It has been a fabulous weekend. And this week will see all my guys reunited here in Montreal.

Last night there was lots of cake, cards, and candles, and medallions.

Nothing can compare with seeing your folks achieve milestones.

The First Year is the hardest. But he came, he saw, and he conquered. It doesn’t get any easier from this point but Two Years is the Silver Oval Chip, that once you get it, you keep it, and hopefully, when you reach ten years, that chip gets engraved and dipped in Gold for Ten Years. That’s a tradition here in the city, if you know who to go to to get that done.

Today I left early because I had to meet with one of my guys and set up for the meeting. We had our meeting before the meeting, and new folks in new jobs, and we sat a good group. In keeping with the series, we read Step Ten …

“Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

Once again, a few of us, when all was said and done tonight, scratched our heads, over things that were spoken. No two people work the program the same way. So you have to give them that.

When I realized that I wanted MORE, I had to find a sponsor that was MORE.

I had things I needed and he had some requirements for me as well.

  • Sponsees call every day
  • We meet once a week to chat
  • We read the book together weekly
  • We make one meeting a week together
  • And they do daily inventories from the beginning

I can’t ask another human to do something that I am not doing myself. If I am going to talk the talk, I better walk the walk. I do that.

There are several types of 10 step inventories. From the small, to the exhaustive. From up to the minute, to the seasonal house cleaning. A daily inventory, only if brief and simple, in the beginning, is useful for everyone. It gives one a chance to look at ones day, in simple terms, and gives us something to talk about daily. So by the time we hit step ten, eventually, in the series, they are used to writing, and have it down as rote.

It has been proven that this model of recovery works, at least for my guys it does.

I learned this from women I respect and love, and if they can do it, I can do it too. It was just that, not many men, that I know, are committed to recovery as hard as I am or as the women are. It’s a stepped up game that is proactive, engaging, and workable.

Each of my guys are unique. Each has their own needs, so I have to work with each of them and set them up for their strengths, and to help their weaknesses into strengths. In turn, I can tell you that they push me to be a better man every day. They challenge me to grow.

Working with others, is the best job you can do in your sobriety.

Sobriety is a full time job, and working with others, just makes that job much better.

It is Transformational. It will change your life in ways, you could not even imagine.

It is going to be an exciting week ahead. And I am SOOOO ready for it.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Learn, Serve, Love

tumblr_l8s7v2G5CF1qaz2rlo1_500 steffrawrCourtesy: Steffrawr

It was a little frigid tonight. It is cold still, at (-13c/-23c w.c.) It was the wind that made the transits rough tonight.

It was a quiet day. Friday, “the best day of the week, and the best night of the week.”

I spent the day shopping for the anniversary party tomorrow night. One of my friends asked if I had gotten a card, I will need to do that on the way tomorrow evening. But I said that he could bring a card if he liked. You can never have too many cards.

I left around twenty after six, and made my transit clean. Halfway up the bus transfer one of my friends got on the bus, and we got to the church a little after seven. The room was lit, and one of our men had already set up the room, got the milk and was making coffee. There was little to do.

We had almost an hour to sit and chat.

We’ve been comparing notes between friends lately, how much time have you got, how did you get that far, how many meetings do you make a week. Then the discussion turned to age. We had been talking about a friend of mine and how old he really was, and I was like, really? Are you kidding me?

None of my friends, look their age, in a good way.

After all that pickling with drugs and alcohol, our bodies were preserved, so now into sobriety, we get to perfect our temples of God. I forget that folks with serious time in the high double digits are about ten years ahead of me on the time line.

I’m not quite fifty yet myself, but I am surely on the way there.

Fifty is the new Thirty … It’s all about attitude and taking care of ones self.

The room was full. We had guests. And we had cake.

The reading … A.B.S.I. … “In All Our Affairs…”

“The chief purpose of A.A. is sobriety. We all realize that without sobriety we have nothing.

However, it is possible to expand this simple aim into a great deal of nonsense, so far as the individual member is concerned. Sometimes we hear him say, in effect ‘sobriety is my sole responsibility. After all, I’m a pretty fine chap, except for my drinking. Give me sobriety, and I’ve got it made.

As long as our friend clings to this comfortable alibi, he will make little progress with his real life problems and responsibilities that he stands in a fair way to get drunk again. This is why A.A.’s Twelfth Step urges that we practice these principles in all our affairs. We are not living just to be sober; we are living to Learn, to Serve, and to Love.”

When I got sober, this second time around, it was a good thing that I did not have a whole lot on my plate, responsibility wise. I had a roof over my head, a part time job, and meetings to go to. And I was fine with just that, because that was about all I could handle.

For months I was read to, I was ministered to. I was fed and I was encouraged to STAY.

When I got HERE, something in my head said that it was ok to “expect!” WRONG!!!

I thought I needed things, that in the end, I really did not actually need, or got.

For the first year, I did meetings. All day and every night. I had a great sponsor who cared for me and in the end I cared for him deeply. Sadly, egos got in the way.

At the one year mark, I decided to go back to school. I also added a relationship. And I added the apartment that we live in today.

I went to meetings.

Then we had to clean up the wreckage of hubby’s past, we had to learn how to shop and cook for two. We had to learn how to pay bills responsibly, and it took 13 years to become financially secure. That one took a very LONG time.

I was making a home together with my then boyfriend. I was learning a great deal of how you take care of another human being, because, let’s face it, I was barely taking care of myself, when I quit drinking this time around.

Shit happened. it got very dark for a year.

I had to step up and be responsible in ways that I was woefully unprepared for.

AND I was starting my University Career.

If I did not have the meetings, and the people in those meetings, I would never have gotten this far.

In all my affairs …

I got sober first. And I put sobriety first. Before I did anything else, I went to a meeting. I spoke with my sponsor, I did service, I made my home group, every week, for more than thirteen years now.

I’ve said before that life came in stages. And not all at once, yet you would observe that at the one year mark, I added several things, that came unexpectedly, but were divinely ordained.

If one particular moment did not happen the way it did, in that very moment, I probably would not be where I am today, and where we are together.

You never know when Mr. Right is going to appear, or when that moment will present itself to you. So if it does, you better be ready to act. I chose to act. And in the end we won.

If you put anything BEFORE your SOBRIETY, you will loose it.

Trial and error proves this adage amongst my friends.

I hear my friends talk about themselves. Some of them are bat shit crazy, even in sobriety. And I love them warts and all. We are all crazy to some point, which is why we need to gather and talk amongst ourselves daily and weekly.

I’ve learned how to be responsible. In stages. And over the past two years, I’ve been able to really give back what was freely given to me.

I can’t tell you the pride and happiness I feel, knowing that tomorrow night, one of my guys is taking his 1 year chip. How do you quantify a years worth of work, in helping another human being rebuild his life, from the ground up. Now I have four of them. They are all building lives for themselves.

My heart is full.

If you aren’t giving back, WHY ?

There is no greater joy than walking another human through sobriety together.

I practice these principles in all my affairs.

Having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of THESE steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all our affairs.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Thoughts, Amends, and Everything Else

tumblr_lm5d60Hzy01qzhzruo1_500 flickr jamesclearCourtesy: Flickr James Clear

It is frigidly cold. So cold that we thought we might get frostbite walking to and from the church.

We are sitting at that frigid (-21c/-32c w.c.) at this hour. The wind does not make it any better.

Yesterday we celebrated love by sharing a great dinner and exchanged cards. I noticed in my travels that the pharmacy has cleaned out all the Valentines stuff, off the shelves and there are boxes of stock ready to be unpacked, for what I imagine is St. Patty’s Day in March.

I departed on time and boy was it cold. I got to the church and one of my friends was already there so we cranked it out and waited for our folks to come, those who are reading with us before the meeting.

On this frigid night, a handful of folks came out. We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 9.

“Made direct amends to such people where ever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

Every time I read this step, I get more insight to the process. I this this list is useful:

  • There will be those who ought to be dealt with just as soon as we become reasonably confident that we can maintain our sobriety.
  • There will be those to whom we can make only partial restitution, lest complete disclosures do them or others more harm than good.
  • There will be other cases where action ought to be deferred,
  • And still others in which by the very nature of the situation we shall never be able to make direct personal contact at all.

I’ve made this pass before. And to this day, it is all about me. Still …

The people I owe amends to, don’t have a clue as to who I am today. When people turn away from you because of who you are, it makes it kind of difficult to deal with. When children are created, simply to be sibling rivals, that is a problem. When the first child is branded a mistake, and the second child, the make up child, what does that say about the parents?

I don’t know my brother. The last time I laid eyes on him was more than twenty years ago. The last time I laid eyes on my parents it was 2001, for only twenty minutes, then they were gone.

It is 2015. I don’t think I owe amends to people who don’t even know I exist, or that they choose not to acknowledge my existence. Because if i am real about this, I only want two things. One, I want my dignity back, and Two, I want to be acknowledged as a living, feeling, human being.

So we are back to all about me.

One of my friends, tonight said, that We are supposed to be agents of healing, not for us, but for them. How can you heal a hardened heart? What would that look like? You can’t change someone who is homophobic, hateful, ignorant, and bigoted. This is truth, I am not making this up.

Sometimes, it is better to just walk away, and let people be. And this has been a long and coming road in sobriety. With the dawn of Facebook, knowing where someone is, and also knowing they know that you are on here as well, makes it just as difficult. I’ve made my introductions and to this day, there has not been one word coming in my direction. So fuck me …

Like I’ve said before, the only thing I can do for me today is live my amends by staying sober, and growing up. And I am a work in process. The day you finish learning is the day one dies.

And I am sure as shit not there yet.

Another week begins. More will follow.

Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Boy Is It COLD Outside !!!

thunder-snowWe are sitting at (-14c / -26c w.c.) at this hour.

And Man, was it cold out there tonight. We had snow, and lots of blowing snow, and it was cold.

I departed early to meet my guys at the church, and it was a good thing too. There was three feet of snow piled up outside the church door, which meant I had to find a way to get the door open so that I could get at the shovel, to shovel the snow away from the door at least. There was no shoveling the walk, because snow fell all night long, and I made several trips outside to shovel the stoop so that people could get inside. There was too much snow at the end of the night and I had to jam the door shut and try to get it locked a secure when we left.

Aside from the shitty weather, people came. It seems that folks are deciding against going out when it snows this way. It is too much for our older generation to go out in this kind of weather.

We sat a good group and we read from the Twelve and Twelve, and Step Eight.

“Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

It is a good thing, that so many of our men and women are “In” their steps. Everyone seems to be devoted to The Work. Going through the steps is a useful tool so that we hear the steps read, followed by a discussion. Whether you are at that point or not. It gets the creative juices flowing and folks get a preview listening to people, who are either at this point, or have been past this point in The Work.

A common theme that arose from our discussion was one particular thought:

When we make our list, of people we have harmed, and we write them down, we must be sure to put ourselves on that list as well.

When we attend the Roundups every Spring, we hear A.A. speakers, along with an Alanon Speaker. People in the rooms, are usually not familiar with those who have been affected by our alcoholism. That is another point of learning for folks who do the round up. We don’t often think of those we hurt until we sift through the steps. Most of us are so self centered that we only think about ourselves, and how others hurt us …

Another fellow shared that he sits in this place that “why should we forgive others, when certain people did hurt us, intentionally, and did it without any thought about the consequences?”

Forgiveness is about letting go and releasing us from that kind of thinking.

The read mentions the family dynamic. And my family was fucked up for a long time.

I’ve said before that when it was good it was really good. My parents provided well beyond what they could have. We had everything we ever wanted and more. On the flip side, when it was bad it was very bad. My father was a very angry, vicious, bitter and abusive man.

How does one forgive a man who abused you severely for decades, told you, you were a mistake, and should never have been born, then when finding out I was Gay, called me an abomination, and toss me out of the house because he could not have a fag under the roof. Then add insult to injury, when I got sick and almost died, that same man would encourage me to die quickly, and humiliated me before friends and guests over the holidays. He was an alcoholic. But he was also a man.

I put my family on the list. But since we do not talk today, and have not spoken in more than a decade, I have tried to make amends, but they fell on deaf ears. So fuck me right ???

All those people I hurt in the past are miles away, and out of sight and mind.

When I moved here, I began my life with a clean slate. I was sober. I have not hurt anyone in the ways I hurt those I did when I was drinking and using. Today, sober people make mistakes. We hurt one or anothers feelings and we correct those mistakes in the moment, or in the day.

My sponsor explained to me his life, which is very similar to mine. We did what we had to do to get and stay sober. We make no excuses, because we want to survive. Amends may come or they might not. It is about our frame of mind and whether we live in forgiveness, or reside in resentment and anger.

I choose to live in forgiveness.

With age comes wisdom. I know the story, forwards and backwards. I’ve studied all the characters involved. Some people choose to live in their ignorance and call it Christianity. I can’t help someone who lives in that space. I choose to call it what it is, and I let it go.

All I ever wanted from them is respect and my dignity restored. I did not get that. I won’t ever get that.

What I am, what I suffer from, and who I am married to is more important to them than WHO I am.

This is WHO I am, like it or not.

It was a great, honest discussion.

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

Over the weekend, I was watching an old web series made by a friend of mine who lives in South America, Venezuela, to be exact. He and and his merry bunch of moto bikers travel the mountains and he films it on a Go Pro. So I’ve got the entire collection from the last round. Then on Christmas, they visit shanty towns and those less fortunate, and the give Christmas presents to all the children along the way. It’s a very good thing …

So we have the video, and then, there is the music. I have a program that will capture music from video and creates Mp3’s. I spent the weekend, sorting through video and music and I created entire new music playlists. Then I upload them to my phone, and it lets me sort them into playlists and to sort them as to the order I want the music to play in.

Over all it was quite a successful weekend.

Everybody is happy, sober and doing well.

More to come, stay tuned …


Friday … Our Nightly Review … a.k.a. 10th Step

tumblr_mz3e3aHkI71sv37tvo1_500 cameronjohnCourtesy: Cameron John

Sometimes the image speaks to the message I will write, and sometimes, it is just an image.

We are sitting at (-2c / – 9 w.c.) at this hour. Not as chilly as other nights, and they tell us there might be flurries, maybe that is a stretch…

I went to bed a little late last night, and I spent some time reading before bed as usual. I did not have anything pressing that needed to be done today, but I woke up and knew that I wasn’t going back to bed again, like I usually do. I don’t watch daytime t.v. and I can only sit in front of this box for so long before I want to pull my hair out, so with nothing to do, I usually nap …

Not the case today.

I did some supermarket safari, early. I usually do it on my way home from the meeting. I’ve been waiting for several packages to come in the mail, so there were excessive trips down to check the mail throughout the day, because our mailman comes at his leisure and not on schedule.

No Joy today.

I got ready to go early, which meant I departed early, I needed to pick up a script at the pharmacy and it was on my way out. I got lucky all my trains were prompt and running for that matter. When I got to the church a friend told me the green line had been down the entire rush hour period.

Honestly, trains ONLY go down during rush hours. Totally Predictable.

I did not see anything on social media prior to leaving. I made my transit and I have hours and hours of music on my phone, and I listen to certain songs over and over – In a certain order, by single selection. I have a collection of dance hall mixes that I like, and if I had the equipment, I would seriously consider mixing my own sound files. Alas, no mixing board here.

My little phone does amazing things. It also has a mind of its own. Androids do funny things. If you upload a tune, in a specific folder, my phone will sort that music by itself, and shuffle those tunes into the select screen, in the order it wants, and not necessarily the way I want. It knows where music comes from and how to sort it. I’m not sure how it knows this, but it does.

I have a few sorted files of dance hall mixes, all single shot pieces. They aren’t on an album, but I’ve pulled them singularly, and sorted them where I want them. On certain files, my phone makes no distinction, but on others, it auto sorts music the way it wants to.

  • You get the album sort screen.
  • You get the artist sort screen.
  • You also get the “single” screen, where it lists every song alphabetically
  • Then you get a “playlist” screen – Those you create on your own

My phone creates playlists by itself. I am not sure how it does that, but it has pulled certain music that I listen to often, and sorted it into playlists. I finally decided to create a couple new playlists, one is dance hall mixes and the other is my Annie Lennox massive mix. Very cool …

Those playlists will cover an entire transit from one end to the other.

Tonight’s fare was a reading from A.B.S.I. and the Nightly Review, a.k.a the Tenth Step.

Steps are merely suggestive. At some point or other, you do them, in the order they come in, with a sponsor, is your best bet. Listening to others from other places, there is wisdom in doing certain things, and in my opinion, there are things I ask my guys to do, which fall out of order. Some old timers have told me that I am wrong in my approach, my sponsor, on the other hand says that, if it works, then keep doing it.

A nightly review, for anyone, is something we learn to do later on in the process. I am of the mind that if you start with prayer and you learn to write, from the start, it becomes second nature. Writing a list gives us (my sponsees and I) something to talk about nightly. So they write. I write as well.

The calling every day, is something that is a tall order for some. It is something that does not come easily, and for years, I did not do that either, until I was shown how that worked, by people who were doing it themselves. I adopted practices from many, into one set process that is my sponsor model.

My sponsor gave me certain things I must do every day and for that matter every week.

  • Call me every day
  • Make a meeting with me once a week
  • Work your steps
  • Help others

I do this every day and every week. I had to practice, myself, these things, before I could be able to share them with others. “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got !”

Everybody has their comfort level as to what they can or will do to stay sober. And I think about this thought, most of our folks went to the round ups in 2013, and 2014. They heard the same messages I heard, and we all go to the same meetings every week. I can see now, two years later, where those messages got me, and how I applied what I learned and made it my own. And also where my fellows are in this same time period.

I also know, now, that people with considerable time, are comfortable, dropping anchor in a familiar meeting, doing service, and navel gazing. They don’t feel the need to spice it up, or crank up the heat in any way, that would shake their equilibrium. And I wonder why ?

There is a reason my old sponsor is not my sponsor any more. He was comfortable sitting in his chair and not going to the round ups as we all did. It was also the way he spoke to me that cranked me up in a negative way. I don’t allow people to shit on me no matter how much time they have.

Last night I heard him share. I did not get to speak to my sponsor at great length today because he was busy entertaining guests at home, so after the meeting tonight, I spoke to another friend who’s got twenty five years as well, and he is in a different place than other folks with the same time.

I explained to him my observations. He knows me personally, and he knows how I do my thing. He knows my guys and we hit the same meetings week in and week out. He does meetings across several spectrum meetings, A.A. C.A. and such in two languages. French and English.

He listened to me talk, then I listened to him talk. He explained to me how he sees things, and what observations he has himself. He went on to explain how he sees life at his twenty five years and what he does, and how he does it.

This is a program of action, that is merely suggestive.

You either take the action or you don’t. It’s very simple.

At some point I was fired up to do something MORE. I wanted MORE. Some people are comfortable with doing just enough. And doing nothing more than what they believe is what they should do.

And nothing more.

I’ve had more than a decade to figure this out. And it has been a fact finding, and practice inducing activity. In the beginning, I sat and listened, and did what I was told. I sat in meetings, did my steps, did service and got comfortable, until the ladies came and shook up my world.

That changed my entire trajectory.

Listening to New Yorkers talk, just fired me up to want to do more and to push the envelope as far as I could in The Work. When my guys came, we spoke of what we could do together, they wanted to get clean and sober, by any means. So The Work became their work as well.

I’ve talked about giving my number and expectations.

My sponsor explained it this way.

  • If someone approaches ME and asks me to help them, I offer them my plan. I ask of them the same things my sponsor asked of me. They get my number and they follow the plan. It is their decision to step up and do the work, or they don’t. They came to me.
  • If I approach someone and offer to help them, and give my number, then I cannot expect any return on my investment. They did not ask me, I offered. Again, it is their decision to either do or do not do something. I can say, call me every day, and we know how that turned out. Calling every day is a tall order for many people. I went to them.

For every human being in the program, there is a way to do it. No two people are the same, and no two people do the same thing, unless of course you follow the suggestions of your sponsor.

In New York, you do The Work, as it is given to you, the way it is given to you, by the book. They have rules for their meetings in New York. Something we have never done here, to the extent they do it there, so when they came here and told us how they did it, most people tuned out to the severity of just how hard they work at it and share that message with others.

Things are way laid back here.

I had never heard of these methods until I met folks from other places. Even when I go to Vermont and I listen to folks there talk, they don’t do it the same way either. The path I choose to walk myself and with my guys is an amalgamation of the methods they use in New York, with a tweak here and there.

How it Works says … “If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.” I have my method. My guys chose to follow them, and they are all the better for it. And I am as well. Thanks to New York and my sponsor.

It is the weekend. The weather is looking up. Everybody is sober and happy.

What more can you ask?

More to come, stay tuned


Sunday Sundries … “Entirely Ready”

tumblr_ln5vibOhgK1qcy8x7o1_500 theworldshavocCourtesy: The Worlds Havoc

We’ve gone from minus double digits over the past few days, to a balmy (+2c) today, and at this hour we are sitting at (-2c). They are saying 5 to 10 cm of snow will fall over night, But me thinks that is pushing it, seeing it is warm outside, and rain is falling. Not sure how cold it needs to get for that rain to turn to snow.

And last week, when they told us that a significant snow event was coming and that we should be prepared, that never happened. That’s the second miss in as many weeks.

It was a good weekend. All of my peeps are home from vacations, or it was the first night (read: Friday) that we were all in the same place at the same time. However, I’ve noticed that we are missing a number of folks that I have not seen in more than a month. hmmm….

I departed early to meet folks at the church for our study hour, so I cranked out chairs and tables, and made coffee and as I was finishing up my guys arrived. Everybody is getting back into the swing of things, and we have set out plans for the coming weeks.

Today’s reading … Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

Having been relieved of the obsession to drink, wouldn’t you want God to remove our most glaring character defects? Some say, I don’t want to let go of this one right now, and others say, I will never let this go…

I am on this step as we speak. My sponsor has given me homework to do and I sat down yesterday and started the book section of the questions. The second phase is a review of Steps 4 and 5 to see what I am still holding on to, and that is as far as I got.

So We read from the book, and the discussion began back around with me. In the reading the book mentions the seven deadly sins … and what caught my attention was this:

… Else why would we consume such great amounts of time wishing for what we have not, rather than working for it, or angrily looking for attributes we shall never have, instead of adjusting to the fact, and accepting it? And how often we work hard with no better motive than to be secure and slothful later on – only we call that “retiring.” Consider, too, our talents for procrastination, which is really sloth in five syllables. Nearly anyone could submit a good list of such defects as these, and few of us would seriously think of giving them up, at least until they cause us excessive misery.

When I got sober this time around, it was a few months in, I had De-fogged a bit. And from out of left field these thoughts came into my head, and I even listened to them, and had the audacity to speak them to people I did not even know at the time.

I’m not sure where my sense of entitlement came from, But I expressed it. I was mentally twisted way back then, and I am not sure I am all that mentally figured out now. I had lists for God to fulfill. I wanted things I was entirely not ready to receive. I “Expected.”

“Expect” is a dirty word. Just like the word “plan” is a joke.

Not that I wanted shit handed to me on a silver platter, I just wanted things. Things I later figured out that I HAD to work for. God whittled down my list of wants, to nothing. Meanwhile, He gave me everything that I needed, on a need to have basis. Just like information, early on, was on a need to know basis. Everything had its time and its season.

Nothing was easily gained, without a lesson attached to it, for greater measure. A very long time ago, on this very blog, if you know where to look, is a post on the Seven Deadly Sins. The path was, in hindsight, ordained. I would ask a question, or read from the book. We would discuss it, and then have time to think about that discussion. Finally, God would give me situations that I would get to work out those questions/answers/discussions in real time.

That is how my sobriety worked. And still works today.

When I wrote my 4th step, it was short and concise. The discussion I had on step Five was intense.

When I look back at them, It isn’t about what am I holding on to at the moment that is blocking me from moving forwards. Hence, Six and Seven.

I was warned early on that my brain would do a number on me. My sponsor has said, while working his steps in tandem with me, with his sponsor, that once we start working, the brain goes on over drive and shit happens.

Brief pause for a long distance conversation…

AND WE’RE BACK !!! (10 points if you can guess that reference)

Another door in my brain has opened up.

The beautiful lotus flower has turned into a ratty pile of shit.

Over the past decade, my aunt has collected photographs of me at various points in my life, with various people, events, places, holidays, and I have them here to look at. Some of these photos I look at and for the life of me I cannot remember them. I mean, the photos prove I was there, but I can’t seem to locate that specific memory.

I’ve always been afraid that my alcoholism and drug use in the past has caused some serious memory damage. But then that was yesterday, in the grand scheme of things, and this is today.

When I got sick I was treated by a psychiatrist. And I had to seek that help again.

Because when the hamster gets on that wheel in my brain, he runs at 90 mph. And he just keeps going and my brain goes into over drive and I don’t know how to make it stop. And for as long as I can remember, I relive certain memories continuously. I hear certain people say things, they once said to me. I relive the feeling those words elicited and the pain and fear become palpable.

I have recurrent dreams, and the same nightmares over and over.

As of late, like I said above, another door in my brain has opened. And I am not enjoying what I am reliving; Memories I haven’t thought about since they happened, shit I haven’t thought about since forever. It is like Groundhog Day.

I’ve said before that my twenties was the worst decade of my life. But as bad as it got in the end, there was one bright spot amid all the calamity and death that was going down around me. Amid the hurricane that was my life, I had periods of time in the eye of the storm.

I’ve never really spent time dissecting the past. And any good alcoholic will tell you that the mind is not some place one goes without a hardhat and certainly not alone. Recently, God, in His infinite wisdom has brought me a list of all the stupid, irresponsible, most painful, pitiful and terrible things I did in my twenties.

The longer you are sober, the harder you work your program, the time is going to come when the floodgates open and you get to seriously look at all those shitty things you did while drinking. I’ve not had this opportunity, YET ! I’ve never really thought about the things on my present radar screen.

It’s a really good thing that when I go to bed at night, I have assistance.

It is during the day, when I try to nap that becomes a nightmare. Totally unscripted, unaided attempts at sleep. I can shut the hamster down at night, but during the day, I am powerless.

I had this partial conversation with a friend during the break, and he said that there must be a reason these things are coming up at this specific time, and it is up to me to figure out why ???

If you’ve ever read the book “Experience, Strength and Hope,” that is the compendium of all the stories that appear in Editions One, Two and Three of the Big Book. Reliving my twenties is like rereading those stories.

The First edition is riddled with the lowest bottom stories, because in the thirties, men were down and dirty low bottoms. The second and third get progressively better, ever so slightly. And the fourth has a mixture of all of them, and a few new additions for good measure.

My drunk journey played out in reverse order. All the losses that usually come at the end of ones drinking happened to me within the first ten years of my rampant and flagrant drinking career.

By the way, as I’ve written this post, it is indeed snowing right now.

I have to figure out why these memories are coming up now, and thinking a bit, I was Totally stupid. Totally self centered. Totally consumed with how I was going to keep drinking at the rate I was drinking and have the funds to do so, to my mind, indefinitely.

There wasn’t anything I would not do to guarantee alcohol.

My excuse, what did I know about responsibility? I had no clue. I did not have the knowledge that would have said, “maybe you shouldn’t be doing this right now, and maybe you should not be so dishonest and flagrantly self centered!” Do you see a pattern here ?

Ah, the lies we tell ourselves. I was not responsible. I didn’t have the capability.

I know for a fact that my father and mother were burdened by my alcoholism. Even though alcoholism was rampant in my family, three generations back, they seemed to skate by with nary a word about it, nor do I ever remember losses in their lives, like they hit me. But everybody took notice when I drank, but nobody said a word against it. They just rolled with it. At their expense.

I lament, Not One Person ever said STOP until Todd did at age 26.

By then it was too late. What was done was done, There was no changing fate.

When I learned I was going to die, Todd stepped in and turned my life around.

Against my suicidal tendencies, I had to take responsibility for my life, at long last. It was either become responsible or DIE. There were no two ways about it.

The rest is history.

Why my brain has focused on this particular section of my life I don’t know. the worst of my drinking was the first half of my twenties, and ran up to age twenty five, the second phase of my drinking started there and ended at age twenty six. I was supposed to die.

God had other plans for me.

My father once said to me that “Once you speak words, you can never take them back.”

He never took his own advice, and neither did my mother.

I can add to that, once you do something unforgivable, there is no going back. Once the action is done, it is done. There are no do over’s. You can’t take an action or a word back.

Where man fails at forgiveness, God forgives. Totally, 100%.

Jeremy says that “If you give God everything, God will forgive everything.”

But as humans, we tend not to believe that God forgives all, and we hang on to shit that we could easily let go of, and let God get rid of it.

My life played out the way it did. I can’t take any of it back. Tucked into all that insanity were moments, hours and maybe a few days of beauty, some good people who had a good influence on me, and created genuine memories.

But King Alcohol had its grip on me in any case.

There is no excuse. I drank. And whomever I had to railroad to keep drinking I did it.

Not proud of that truth, but it is what it is.

I guess that’s the lesson here.

I am so glad that I never have to drink again. Because I could end up right where I started.

I think I am done here for tonight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Wisdom Comes Over Time

indian thought

Over the last calendar year, Sunday has been the best day of the week, as posting goes. I completed 52 weeks of Sundays which is a good run. So let’s keep up that momentum.

We are sitting at a balmy (-5c) at this hour, and snow is on tap for tonight into tomorrow. And twice, in as many days, our local tv weather presenter is warning us of an impending storm coming for the end of the week where we should expect “SIGNIFICANT” snow fall. Remember the last time they spent a week warning us of impending doom, it never really materialized.

The end of last week saw the reunification with my guys who have been away for the holidays. We all gathered at the Friday Night Meeting, where we, once again, spoke about God, as we understood him, which parlayed into thinking about Step Three.

You can’t force the God concept on people, one must allow them their process, and coming to the same meetings over and over, people have moved in one direction or another, which is a good thing. The post holiday, “getting back into the swing of things” is taking place.

I had an appointment with another of my guys tonight, so I departed uber early to meet him at the church. After last weeks meager showing we sat a good crowd tonight. We did a little reading of the Book, and we have commenced with “THE WORK” for another human being. Chapter five in the Big Book begins with How it Works, which runs into Step Three. And before we hit step three, we have to get through one and two.

The reading tonight, from the twelve and twelve, was Step Five. In a room full of people, there were many, “haven’t gotten there yet, and a few, doing my step four now, and many who haven’t touched pen to paper in some time, which leads to the following … “my life is unmanageable and I am miserable, I haven’t been working my steps, and I really should, at some point…”

Since the Round Up in 2013, when the fire was lit for me I’ve been on the journey of a deeper sobriety, starting with the book, a little prayer, and a new sponsor. Over the last calendar year, I attended two men’s retreats, which book ended my steps four and five, respectively. After months of working on myself, and working with my guys, It came around to me. I’m currently working on my Step Six.

This past Summer, I wrote my fourth step and at the beginning of the Fall, I sat with my sponsor and did my fifth step. They say, or I heard it said, and I think it came from Oprah, that

“It takes a long time to understand and see the wisdom of ones life …”

Or something to that effect.

It is suggested, that once you’ve been in for a while, you start your steps. There is wisdom in that thought, but experience has shown us that people need their process, and when they are ready, they are ready, everyone’s process is different. With that said, I’ve done my steps several times since I got sober this time around.

But it wasn’t until this round, that I had sufficient perspective on my story, how it unfolded and where I was then, and where I am now. What ever made it to paper then, was what it was, and we dispensed with it accordingly. But since I am really pounding The Work, I’ve allowed the lotus flower to blossom a bit bigger.

“Instead of peeling a stinky onion, sobriety is like a lotus flower, a beautiful blossom.” Lorna Kelly said that when she spoke here a couple of years ago.

The process that I undertook with my sponsors guidance, was impressive. It took a while to complete it, but when it was finished and we talked about it, I listened to my sponsor tell me some of his stories and in the end, I knew that everything was forgiven.

Jeremy speaks about forgiveness: We might have something on our hearts and we turn to God to give it away, and God, forgives everything, right then and there. Then we have a choice, we can allow the ever cleansing forgiveness to wash us clean, or sometimes we think in shades of forgiveness, that everything is not totally made clean. And we tend to hang on to stuff we really should let go, forever.

In The Book it tells us that God is or He isn’t. He is Everything or He is Nothing !

If God is everything, than He knows all, loves all and forgives ALL.

End of story …

And that is the wisdom that I have learned in my step work this time. I’ve said before that life and sobriety are cyclical. Every time we look at the past, we see it in a different light, depending where we are in our process. I haven’t committed any grievous acts, and the past is the past. I haven’t racked up many terrible resentments, fears, or guilts either, but I had a few. (that were old to begin with)

“Taking this book down from our shelf we turn to the page that which contains the twelve steps. Carefully reading the first five proposals we ask if we have omitted anything, for we are building an arch through which we shall walk a free man at last.” Is our work solid so far? Are the stones properly in place? have we skimped on the cement put into the foundation? Have we tried to make mortar without sand?”

That’s what we all want, that New Freedom.

I may not see it every day. Or feel in in my heart, all the time. I am a little bit freer that I had been in years past. And this specific insight, I have realized, is important to my progress, because I get to apply this insight with my fellows.

The evolution began when I turned forty. Things began to make sense to me. I can’t explain it unless to say that when we turn forty, we have forty years of experience behind us, to be able to look at our pasts and say, “yeah, I’ve been there and this is what I know, and truly understand and be able to relate that knowing to ourselves and to others.”

The next phase of life, in my estimation, begins at forty.

In the Gay scheme of things, forty is over the hill. To any twink or young gay out there, forty is past the prime and becomes unimportant or useless. We are too old to relate to the youngsters, and that is true, but for those of us who survived into our forties, having lived through the crisis of AIDS, we are certainly important to the history of us all. Our lives matter, however hard, some seem to dismiss us from the greater life conversation. Because we are forty or older.

Youth tends to ignore us, opting for young and hip.

This has become a many layered life. I’ve seen progress over many areas of my life. And it all comes down to being sober, and doing the work, talking to my sponsor and working with my guys.

I could not ask for more, I have everything that I need today.

What else is there to say?

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … T – Minus 3 days

tumblr_n013yxPwUD1r1arpmo1_500 themoonadntehstarsandtheoceanCourtesy: TheMoonandTheStarsandTheOcean

We are under a special weather advisory this weekend. The snow on the ground is surely going to melt and wash away due to massive rain that is in the forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas. We are sitting at (-8c) at this hour, but temps are going to rise well above freezing into positive digits.

It won’t be a very White Christmas this year.

There is not much going on here. All the Christmas packages that needed to be mailed were completed yesterday. Now we are waiting for stuff to arrive that I purchased online last week.

We sat a fair group tonight. People are busy with traveling here and there. It seems everybody has places to go so they, at least, won’t be alone on the holiday, and meetings are open on Christmas night so that is a good thing.

We read from the Twelve and Twelve and Step 4.

We heard lots of good stuff.

Here’s hoping I get mail tomorrow.

More to come. Stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … Decisions, Decisions …

tumblr_l5ddbvDdeT1qzfjmqo1_500 oriental tiger

Courtesy: OTiger

The weekend is in the books. Little by slowly, the city is clearing away all that snow. At this stage of the game, we do not have a Christmas Forecast, but we always hope for snow on Christmas Day.

I posted the piece on the Universe last night, and I tweeted several people. And wouldn’t you guess, the biggest fish in the sea came and read me, someone I have been listening to on the radio for years and years. The esteemed Ian Punnett famed host of Coast to Coast A.M.

And he tweeted my piece to his followers. I feel like I’ve had my five minutes of fame.

He tweeted that I was “close.” I must have said something right.

Bringing together all the knowledge I have on a certain topic is a synthesis of many books, hours and hours of study, lectures, science, the afterlife, and the paranormal. I go back and re-read several books that are in my library, because they give me different takes on “how the universe works and how we live in this universe and what happens when we die.”

Learning about God, is something that is continual. An education and those little pieces of paper that I earned are gathering dust in my library. Neither of them did one bit of good in the end.

Was University a waste? No, not really. It gave me a platform to stand on and the ability to speak my passion with the book knowledge and a lifetime of experience to back it.

I also seek the guidance of a number of people, who know God a little bit better than I do. Several of my friendships are very important in spiritual terms.

God has been on the front burner lately.

And all the writing I have done over the past month is starting to become useful with my friends and fellows. It is one thing to have thoughts and observations, and be able to synthesize them into print.

Lately, I have been having conversations with my friends who want to know where God is, why isn’t He speaking back, when I pray, and how do I turn it over ???

I touched on all of these questions in pieces I have written over the past couple of weeks.

And as of late, all that insight, has become very useful.

We’ve been covering the Steps on Sunday Nights. That is one of the best ways to introduce steps to newcomers. They can hear them read, in long form, then listen to the room, work it out in real time.

We sat a modest group tonight. And tonight’s offering was Step Three.

We’ve been hovering over the word God for a while now. And the most important job that we, those with considerable time in it, can do is to support and encourage folks to stick and stay, and do the work. As we have talked recently about God and what He would sound like and when that voice is going to come, because He isn’t answering fast enough and I am not getting the answers I want …

Tonight, someone I am working with came with a burden on her heart. And I’ve encouraged her to speak those burdens to the rooms, whatever room it is on what ever day it is, no matter the topic on the table, if you’ve got to get rid of something, you must speak it.

Usually, as it goes, someone has a word for you, or a contact, or a piece of advice that can be useful.

Tonight it was no different. She prayed, and God didn’t speak. So she was unhappy.

I asked her what she needed and she told me. Luckily, I know a few people, who can help her. There was her answer. I told her that she would need to seek out my old sponsor at a particular meeting and if he could not help her, he would know someone who could. Most definitely.

Then she countered, but that night is my home group and I can’t miss that meeting.

My answer was this, if you need something and there is someone you should seek, going to another meeting might be necessary to make that connection. There are plenty of women at that meeting that she would have enough in common with.

Ugh… newcomers !

In the end, God spoke. She didn’t necessarily want to take the advice on the first pass, it was her choice. If you really want something, sometimes footwork is necessary.

We have all been reminded that tis’ the season for Misery and the Poor Me’s …

With that said, we are all stepping up our games, so as not to be taken down into Misery and the Poor Me’s…

I’ve said this over and over lately that we did not get sober to be miserable.

Some did not get that memo.

Sadly, I’ve come to know, recently, that several members I know well, who had decades in, went back out and drank again. This is not uncommon. It happens more frequently than we like to admit.

Some folks with serious time, forget.

  • They forget that we suffer from a cunning, baffling and powerful disease.
  • They forget that they should be living in the solution.
  • They forget what it was like to be new.
  • They stop reading the books, and going to meetings and speaking to others.
  • They stop calling sponsors and take matters into their own hands.
  • They are so far from their last drink, that they forget what it was like.
  • And finally the think that they are cured (read: Deluded) and so, they drink again.

Bringing folks back into the fold, once they go back out, is tenuous. One’s approach must be carefully planned. But most importantly, what we know, based on what we do today, has to matter, when working with folks on the bubble.

I made a huge mistake and ruined a relationship some years ago, when I openly chastised a very close friend who had serious time and after a bout with cancer, drank again. She was in the U.S. and I was here. We spoke every week, sometimes more often. During that whole time she never told me she was drinking, and when she returned she walked into a meeting and took a chip, and I reacted, terribly.

I took it very personally, that she could not confide in me that kind of truth and I said as much.

I don’t know if she is still sober, but that all but ended our decades long friendship.

Ah, the things we learn about ourselves in sobriety.

Even with time, every once in a while, I open my mouth and stick my foot in all the way up to my thigh.

Big Mistake. Lesson Learned.

It is not going to be an easy holiday. All those warning signs are starting to pop up.

Thankfully, all my guys are sober. All of them are in the city tonight. And I get the pleasure of spending quality time with all of them through till January.

It was a good night, it was a challenging night. We have our work cut out for us in the days to come.

If you pray, pray for our folks, especially our newcomers.

We really want them to make it. Getting them through is the job right now.

And you know how stubborn an alcoholic can be at times.

I want to speak to God, and I want an answer right now on my terms !!!!

UGH … God don’t work that way missy !!!

More to come, stay tuned …

More to come, stay tuned …