Today is FIFTY, day seven.
Having a supporting role, in sobriety, is much easier, than being the LEAD actor. I’d rather come in quietly, and do some manual labor, setting up, and sit out front, and saying hello to people. I think, and I said this to one of my guys on the way home that:
Manual Labor is a requirement for sobriety. You have to spend some time doing the grunt work (as long as you can). I think service is THE cornerstone of anyone’s sobriety.
Service is something I learned to do, and still DO to this very day.
So it went, Tonight, we traveled across town to the entertainment sector of the city, where our Performing Arts Center is located. Place Des Arts. This is the HUB of Montreal’s Concert/Ballet/Symphony/Music Festivals … You name it.
It is where we gather to have some serious fun.
The Monday meeting is just up the hill from here. Notre Dame De la Sallette Church.
Monday Central is a well attended meeting. We had decided to change-up the game after completing a full reading of The Big Book, last week.
We were sitting out front tonight, as one of my elder friends, and another elder sober friend approached. They were surprised to see us. Others felt the need to change-up their routines as well, from where we had been going for so long.
Changing up your routine is necessary sometimes. My friend told me that when he gets into a funk about people and places and cliques, it is time to move on and go somewhere else.
We read from the Big Book, Page 92, in fact on “Working with Others.”
This passage talks about working with an alcoholic. And you can imagine, as it was said tonight that, back in 1939, when the book came out, Bill and Dr. Bob had their work cut out for themselves.
Imagine meeting a contact, via a wife, or a doctor or a hospital, someone who probably. really knew HOW to Drink … There was no A.A. There were no meetings. No television commercials.
In its Infancy, it was The Book, and that was it.
It was Dr. Bob and Bill, sitting with a real Winner …
The passage talks about what our role is when working with another. And how everything that matters, is about telling our TRUTH. Sharing the message of recovery as we have recovered, and how that went down for us. Speaking about what happened to US, honestly. That’s it.
There were a few young people sitting in the room tonight, that when THEY got the message given to them, insanity erupted, and they took to sobriety like wild fire. And in their zeal for recovery, tried to bring their friends and fellows, along for the ride.
They know today, in listening to them talk tonight, just how bad they cranked up the message and made it all about their opinions and not a whole lot about personal experience.
Sometimes we need to return to the roots of the program and listen to what the book actually says, and how this program works.
Sobriety is SO different in 2017, than it was in 1939.
The stakes are just as high. Alcoholism is still alcoholism. And a drinker, is still a drinker.
The chance that someone had heard of A.A. before they hit the rooms are higher today, than yesterday. Imagine what it was like 80 years ago ?
Today, one of the MAIN struggles we hear over and over ad nauseam, is God. God is mentioned over and over in the book, and God is seriously, the biggest DOWNER for people across the board.
If God was your only problem, you wouldn’t be sitting in the room, would you ?
High Roller drunks of the 1940’s were a serious problem, just as the High Roller drunks are today, only today, you can bet, that alcohol is not their only vice. Times have changed.
And they haven’t changed for the better.
How do you stay sober at age FIFTY ???
I don’t know, myself. But I am figuring it out one day at a time.
I follow the men who participate in my own personal sobriety. I do what they do. I go to meetings they go to. And I listen to what they say to me.
Not everyone is meant to STAY, people come and go. At certain points, sober roads might diverge. The lesson there is to Let Go, absolutely, and Let God. That was good advice tonight.
If You are stuck in addiction, somewhere far, or somewhere near, there is help.
Over the past few months, I’ve been asked to sponsor rehab’s in the U.S. on the blog.
I have done this gladly, if someone out there needs help, and you read these pages.
Drug Rehab.Com and Elevate Rehab.org …
The links are on the sidebar, on the right hand side. If you click the links, they will take you where you need to go, if you need help.
Thank you for following and reading.
Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,
“Only You know what you do in secret…”
The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.
The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …
“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”
The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.
All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!
At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.
Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.
Straight men, in the corporate world have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.
14 months ago, that few night slip took place. Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.
At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.
Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.
Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.
Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others. Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.
And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.
You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.
For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.
My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.
Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…
My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.
He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.
Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.
He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.
Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,
“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”
Well, God knew. And He knew as well.
Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.
My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.
I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.
Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.
Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.
Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.
More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …
Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.
She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.
The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …
She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….
The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.
I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.
I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …
Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
There is a God and I am not He.
Some of my friends are not so lucky.
The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.
And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…
YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)
It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.
We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”
Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.
Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.
Who am I to complain …
We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.
People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …
Anyways, back to this evening.
Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.
She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.
We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.
READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.
Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.
San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …
The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.
She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.
I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.
I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.
I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.
I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.
Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.
A good night was had by all.
“… Some years have passed, and as I look back from the clarity of this moment, I know that the way here for me could not have been by an easier path. I would not willingly have stopped the course my life was on. I needed harsh reality to see the damage that alcohol abuse causes, in so many ways. I needed to be forced into acceptance and humility.”
Some alcoholics and addicts chase our diseases to the gates of insanity, institutions and even death … Some end up locked up, or covered up. Then there are those of us, who’s ships were righted, in the middle of the storm, and got to a safe port, and the opportunity to change our lives for the better.
In this story, our writer tonight, is a woman. Who went from childhood, directly into alcoholism. She passed GO and did not collect her $200.00. And before she GOT IT, she really had GOTTEN IT.
Cirrhosis of the liver, that is …
If you don’t think the girls won’t or don’t party like the boys, some girls are just another kind of party animal, and they go all “Lampshade, Bat Shit Crazy” before their cards come up. Our woman tonight, got to the bitter end, medically, before she wizened up.
Then she gets sober and has the audacity to say this, remember, now how hard a party girl our little lady was … She writes:
“By the time my name was placed on the transplant waiting list, I had become very sick. My liver had progressively continued to shut down, and the official wait had really begun. I had no way of knowing how long it would be before a suitable organ would become available or how long it would be before I rose to the top of the list.
At times I felt resentful of the selection process, the tests, the close supervision of my A.A. program, and the seemingly endless wait. Unquestionably it was only because of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was able to let go of that resentment.”
She’s the one who sunk herself into this pit of sickness and almost death, and at one point SHE gets resentful at the lengths her transplant team was going to to make sure she was sober and taking care of herself.
What transplant team is going to give a healthy organ to someone who is just fucking off, and is really not the human being who really deserves another kick at the can ?
A good few of us needed a swift kick in the ass, before we got sober.
My sponsor paid his price. He was an inter-venous drug use, and got AIDS and Hep C, and all the baggage that came with it, much earlier in the timeline than I did. He got sick in the 1980’s. Before there really was BEFORE in my own story.
I paid the price as well. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction took me to death’s doorstep and I was diagnosed with AIDS as well, I got it in 1994. Still, there were no doctors or drugs for me, and they would not come for a number of years, in my personal timeline.
Thank God for Todd… Really ! I should just thank GOD.
I was in A.A. the first time, for a long time. But like I have said before, I had bigger fish to fry than just staying sober. I mean, I did stay sober, as long as the messaging was telling me to stick around until the miracle happened.
The miracle did happen. I LIVED…
When I moved town from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, the messaging went from Stick Around to Go Away. And that devious, slick, steady and patient little voice begins talking to us, and when that happened to me, ALL bets were off.
I wasn’t listening any longer. I needed to fill the Hole in my Soul. That alcohol and drugs would be connected to that seeking, never entered my brain. And when I got to the other side, there was no escape route, no way out.
I was FUCKED, ten ways from Sunday.
Had the cops not come for me, I probably would have died out there, and nobody would have been the wiser, because nobody knew where I was, save one human being, who did indeed called the cops for me.
I put my life in serious danger. I took my tenuous health for granted and fucked myself over for sex. I did not get the sex, what I got was drug and alcohol addiction, ten times over, what I had left behind the first time.
All because Alcoholics looked at me and said the words ….
GO AWAY and DON’T COME BACK.
Never Ever tell someone coming in, to go away.
Never ever speak that way to another human being, ever.
You never know the challenge that that human being is facing.
Tonight, some folks, in the room, on their second pass, asked this question, What did I NOT have the first time, that I DO have this time ?
The answer was simple. They have US. They have LOVE. They have FELLOWSHIP. They have SPONSORS, they have FRIENDS, and they have THE BOOK and MEETINGS.
And simply, They are NOT ALONE any more.
And we never have to drink again.
For many, in our intrepid group of sober men and women, the problem is NOT the obsession to drink, but the MENTAL aspect of sobriety that is shaking the trees.
The Three Pronged Approach :
- The Physical
- The Spiritual and
- The Mental
Many of my friends deal with this mental aspect of alcohol addiction on a daily basis. That little voice in the back of our heads, that is just waiting for us to slip up and think something stupid.
That’s why we keep coming back, to make sure all three areas of our lives are covered.
For the REST of our LIVES.
One Day at a Time.
Thank the baby Jesus that I am still alive and SOBER.
And thank the Baby Jesus my friends are all still alive and SOBER TOO…
In the Book of Genesis, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, So he took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Adam was no longer alone.
- How many of us grew up alone ?
- How many of us are alone ?
- And how many of us drank ALONE ?
My grandmothers, the two women I hold in my heart, believed in me. And while they were in my life, for those brief years, I was not alone. My father, in his misguided way, thought that we, as a family, were better off :
And over my childhood, alienated every family member out of our lives, so he could shape his family, in his own image, without the influence of anyone else.
As a thirteen year old, loosing that connection to the women who helped me stay alive, amid the violence and alcoholism that pervaded our family, was catastrophic.
I always kept to my room, even when my father took the door off the hinges. I was never alone, my father was always in my face. But there were times, when I was alone. And looking back now, I see how alone I really was.
Everybody knew about the alcoholism. Nobody spoke of it, or offered a solution to the problem. And Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. Nobody allowed me to speak my mind or my heart.
When I had a job, that job was my life. There were several successive jobs that I really loved, and did well. I was not alone at work. The last job I had before I moved away from home was in a travel agency, where alcohol was served during business hours.
Over the ensuing years, those people I worked with got sober, while I remained a spinning tornado in their lives. In hindsight, none of them offered me “The Solution,” until I found my way to the rooms, by force when Todd saved my life.
I was a lone drinker, however, I drank in a bar, with people around me. I had many bell weather friends, but nobody who knew anything about life beyond drinking, drugging and having sex.
When I moved away to be Gay, I was told, by a shrink, that in order to fit in, I had to drink. So that is what I did. I never found the holy grail. I never found the answers I was seeking or the total acceptance that I was craving.
Being a lone alcoholic is a terrible way to live. Being around people, en mass, was not the answer. Nobody was paying attention, except to know what they wanted to take from me in the end.
It wasn’t until I got sober in 1994, that Todd had come to me, and picked me up off the parking lot pavement and took me in. For that first couple of weeks, he had stationed Danny in my apartment to keep an eye on me when we weren’t working at the bar.
Those first two years, with Todd, were the greatest period of my life. I was not alone any more. Todd was there to show me how to survive. How to live soberly, and he kept me above the water, when everybody else was sinking fast.
As long as He was there, I was fine. It was when he moved away, and I found myself alone, WITH TOOLS, but not having the ability to make things work by myself.
I just could not do it ALONE.
When I returned from my slip, I found a place to live, from a woman who thought it would be good to rent to me so that I would not be alone. And from that apartment, came the job that would change my life.
Still drinking, I had to get to the end. And I did eventually.
The day Troy walked into my life an uttered those simple words …
I did NOT drink today … He led the way into sobriety again, the second time.
When I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners became my home. I went there religiously for the following eleven years. That was the home group that made this life possible. Because my Home Group was hallowed ground.
My first sponsor, David, attached himself to me with an invisible tether. For a year, he took care of me, and I was not alone.
On my first anniversary, he ceded control, and that very night, was the first night I spent with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband.
God spoke and said that “it is not good for Jeremy to be alone …”
I’ve not been alone, from that moment on … To This Day.
There have been times, as I sat, where I am sitting at this very moment, in the middle of the night, as midnight closed in on me, mentally and emotionally, and felt that I was terribly alone with my sorrows, my trials, and my tribulations, when hubby was sick.
As long I was hitting my meetings, I was never alone.
I am better at being alone today. And I love the hours of the day when I am home alone. Because for many hours of the days, weeks, months and years, I am never alone.
I don’t think I could ever live alone again. And I am not sure what I would do if I ever found myself alone, for some UN-forseen circumstances.
The rooms provide.
That is a refrain that I repeat to my friends. The rooms of 2001 and beyond, here in Montreal, are not the same rooms in 2017. People have long since come and gone.
The rooms, and their people, are not as giving as they once were. But there are exceptions to that rule. Because, if you ask, people show up and step up.
That is a given, in many situations.
People today, still have problems asking for help. But I tell my friends that if they need something, anything, to bring it to a room and put it down on the table.
You might never know the results you might get, if you choose NOT to ask them.
In our story tonight, “He lived to drink” a successful, evangelical young man, with promise, God, family and a good job, falls into the addiction to alcohol.
All it took, was that FIRST drink, on his FIRST visit to a cocktail bar with friends from school.
From that point on, he was off and running.
He ran so far, that he ended up on skid row …
“It still did not register that the drinking might be the cause of all of my misery. I sold my blood. I prostituted myself; I drank more. I became homeless and slept in the bus and train terminals. I scrounged cigarette butts off the sidewalks and drank from a common wine bottle with other drunks. I drank my way to the men’s municipal shelter and made it my home. I panhandled. By this time I lived only to drink. I did not bathe or change clothes; I stank; I became thin and ill; I had begun to hear voices and accepted them as death omens. I was frightened, arrogant, enraged, and resentful of man, God, and the universe. there was nothing else to live for, but I was too frightened to die …”
It was at this point that a woman who was a social worker on skid row and a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous sat me down in her office and told me her story – how she drank, what happened, and how she got sober. No one had ever done this before.
I had been been preached to, analyzed, cursed, and counseled, but no one had ever said, “I identify with what’s going on with you. It happened to me, and this is what I did about it.” She got me to my first A.A. meeting that same evening.
Once our man, a black man, accepted goodness and love into his life, and he opened his heart to his fellows and later God, He realized that he was not alone.
And it is for this reason, in A.A., that you are not alone any more …
And that you never have to drink again …
Just as material losses are not necessary to indicate alcoholism, material gains are not the true indications of sobriety.
We heard from another young lady tonight, and her story, “Student of Life.”
Growing up, in an alcoholic house, was tedious at best. But I did have certain lessons down pat. I knew how to take care of a home, and myself to a certain degree. I went to school, and did fairly well.
I was 13, I think, when I got my first job. I was a bag boy in a grocery store. It was the first of a string of jobs I would have. And I had some seriously good jobs. They were the best. I worked a season scooping ice cream. I worked a double header in two shops that fried chicken and hot wings. I was a short order cook for a while as well. I had the chops to do a good job and BE responsible.
My parents were not going to pay for college. My first year was a scholarship that went no where. The second, I have spoken about before, in Seminary. But that did not go anywhere either. Working for a living now competed with my drinking.
When the time came to move away, you’ve thought that I would carry all the things I already knew forwards. This theme does repeat itself …
Thinking that I would carry forward what I did know …
I knew the apartment I wanted, in the specific Orlando apartment complex, because of specific people I knew who lived there, and at 21, I wanted to be them, and damned the torpedoes. I had a new car, that I could not pay for, and the expensive apartment, well outside my means, and the inability to be responsible for any of it, because of my drinking.
You’ve thought that what little responsibility I knew about, would carry forwards…
All my wants … Did not square with the Responsibility that needed to exist and didn’t.
Because I was ruled by my addiction to alcohol.
Our writer tonight talks about the fact that she did not LOOSE anything, so she figured she wasn’t an alcoholic. But we also know that she had not lost anything, because she had NOTHING to loose, YET.
Loss is a common theme in my life, as is geographical cures, lies, and irresponsibility.
Within the first few months of moving away, I lost apartments, I lost a car, I lost jobs, I lost boyfriends. If it was not nailed down, I lost it.
Nothing in life was nailed down at all.
When I got sick and was going to die … I NEEDED to get sober. There were no two ways about it. If I was going to LIVE I was going to STOP drinking.
I had to stem the losses and get right. And that worked for a few years.
But listening to people telling me to go, disconnecting from meetings, and lying to my friends, and listening to the voice in my head, was very detrimental.
I’ve said before that, ask any alcoholic in the room, male or female, about the HOLE in the SOUL, and they will tell you that (If I ONLY had a relationship, everything would be better).
Not So Grasshopper …
My needs were warped to begin with, and the need for a human trumped my need to stay sober, in the end.
I pissed away four years sober for an imperfect human addict.
And in the end, I lost everything that I owned that time, and almost my life with it.
The first time I got sober, it was because I needed it.
The second time I got sober, was because I WANTED it.
The blackouts and the sickness came. And I just KNEW, I was DONE.
I prayed for that alcoholic to show up, and he did. Like clockwork.
When I moved to Montreal, I had 2 suitcases and 4 boxes. That was my life.
Not very much.
In my twenties, I could not hold down a job, make money, or have a solid home. But for a brief stint, when I got sick, I had a solid roof over my head, while Todd was in my life.
When I moved here, sobriety took the drivers seat. It was all I had. And I busted my ass for all these years, and now I am here. The Promises came, albeit, very slowly. In years 13 to today, my life has taken a serious turn, and I have arrived, in a place, I never thought I’d find in this life. Because I am not supposed to still be here.
I should have died, long ago. But it seems God has other plans.
I had to learn how to be responsible. One thing at a time, and nothing more. I learned to to be spiritually fit, from spiritually fit people.
Little do you know that setting down chairs, making coffee and shaking hands, is the prep work we get to do.
Those simple jobs of making a meeting, are the beginnings of a life of responsibility.
What a Grace. What an absolute Grace. Sad, many people don’t see it that way.
One of my friends said tonight that, the Program is to help us become Spiritually Fit. And in the end, if it works right, We find Spiritually fit people, who can help spiritually Unfit people, get better. But, it has come to pass, and the lesson applies to many … You might have the time, but not necessarily be sober.
Sobriety comes little by slowly. What I failed to carry forwards as a young person, and even in my twenties and from Todd, specifically … I got my Do Over.
I’ve been in Do Over Territory for a long time. All those things we failed to learn when we were young or while we drank, we get to relearn. We get to try again. We get to get it right.
How many normal people who fail at life and give up, they don’t get their do over… We in the rooms get that grace and we get our Do Over.
I know who I am. I know my goals, dreams, values, and boundaries, and I know how to protect, nurture, and validate them. Those are the true rewards of sobriety, and they’re what i was looking for all along. I am so grateful that my Higher Power stepped in to show me the way to the truth. I pray every day that I never turn my back on it. I came to A.A. in order to stop drinking; what i received in return was my life.
Truer words were never spoken …
Selfishness – Self-Centeredness ! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self seeking, and self pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.
Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible… B.B. Pg. 62
How many of us, Man or Woman suffer from FEAR ? And, how many of those Men and Women, would admit that to others, or better yet, to ourselves, that we are fearful in some way, shape, or form ?
Fear is pervasive and terribly detrimental to all of us. I don’t know a single human being in my life, that has not, in one way or another, suffered from FEAR.
We heard about FEAR tonight. We also heard about SELFISHNESS and DELUSION.
Every story is unique. no two stories are the same. Certain aspects of our stories do track the same, in the form of feelings and emotions. It is the circumstances of each story that differ. Spend enough time in the rooms, and you will eventually identify with something you have heard.
After years of Deep Dive Drinking, Lies, Secrets and Delusions, our man made it to his first meeting. How he got there, is unknown. Skeptical as our man was, “there had to be an angle to this group of people…” Before he could hit the exit to escape his first meeting two men cornered him and said …
“We Love You, We Need You, Please Come Back …”
For him, and as well for many of us, who come to the rooms, delusional and sad, those of us who think we are unimportant, unlovable, and needed, hearing this phrase, changed the trajectory of his life for a time.
Indeed, he did return. And he stuck. For a while.
Knowing the right thing to say to someone who is new to the room is dicey.
I heard a friend say on the way home tonight …
YOU CAN’T SAY THE WRONG THING TO THE RIGHT PERSON AND
YOU CAN’T SAY THE RIGHT THING TO THE WRONG PERSON …
I know, from experience, that words matter. And I also know, in retrospect, that I may have the right words sometimes, and everybody is happy. But there are also times, when words are needed, and I need to say those words, and they maybe unexpected to those sitting in the rooms, those words can be dividing.
Coming from a very abusive home, fear was something I knew very well. Having and Jekyll and Hyde father, you never knew who was going to show up on any given day.
But that did not make me drink. As, an alcoholic. Yet …
But when I was told that a drink, or TWO would set the stage for acceptance, I took that direction as gospel. The fear of not finding my way in, or to not be accepted, added to my need to “get it right, the first time.” I may have found my way in, but that period of my life was exceptionally insane, chaotic and did not lead to any success whatsoever.
My addiction to alcohol, turned me into a liar, a cheater, and a selfish beast.
Take away the alcohol, at any point in the timeline, I am still a liar, a cheat and I am still selfish, albeit, a dry or better, a sober, liar, cheater and selfish.
There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self-searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings whic the process requires for its successful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it.
When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet.
The reason we continue to go to meetings, to listen and do The Work, is that sobriety is progressive, when you work the program set before you.
BUT – If you, at any time, think that You’ve got this, that You are ok, and then the delusion sets in that, maybe I don’t need meetings or a sponsor or the book any more, what comes next can be disastrous, and even deadly for some.
Sobriety Looses It’s Priority.
After nine years, our man reached this point. And went out for TEN YEARS.
The progressiveness of positive forward momentum, turns into the progressiveness of backwards spinning. Which leads to a drink. And for some, we all know, never make it back.
They end up in either Jail, in an Institution, or they end up DEAD.
While our man was out, he drank, heavily. Keeping Secrets and telling Lies.
But you know, we never completely escape our secrets and lies.
Our man was stopped by the police, drunk ! He went to jail, lost his license for a year, and now has a criminal record. All this, he kept from his wife, who was an ALANON. Don’t you know…
In order to keep the secret, our man drove his car, with a suspended license, for that entire year, so his wife would not find out. He wove an intricate web of secrets and lies to cover his tracks.
In the background of this story, is a nondescript young lady, who witnessed our man in jail. Years later, knowing our man’s daughter, told her that she had seen him in jail.
The daughter sat on this information until one pivotal night.
Our man had left his room, to get ice for a drink. His daughter intercepted him in the kitchen, and asked him, if he had ever gotten a DUI ???
CAN WE SAY BUSTED !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A family meeting was called the next day, and the lies became truths. That one lie did not go over well at all.
Eventually our man found his way back. And is nine years sober, this time around.
Fear can kill. The Drink can kill. Lies can kill.
There is a solution.
We Love you, We need you, Please come back …
The most important words we can speak to another suffering alcoholic.
Don’t you know you can only sail to the north east end of the Mediterranean sea, then travel by land But what if we sailed in the other direction? Don’t you know if you sail out there your going to sail off the end of this sucker?
Columbus had to be an alcoholic, ” I believe the world is round, I do not believe that it’s flat,” then he made one of the most drunk statements the world has ever heard: ” I believe that we can get East by sailing West.” Now if that isn’t drunk thinking, I don’t know what is.
- Many of his mannerisms indicated he was alcoholic,
- When he left he didn’t know where he was going,
- When he got there, he didn’t know where he was,
- When he got back he didn’t even know where he had been,
- But what really made him a real alcoholic is a woman financed the whole trip for him.
- She did that twice.
Columbus followed a little formula, the world is always known, that if you want to change anything at all, there are certain things that have to take place. The first thing you have to do in order to change anything is to be willing to do so.
Circumstances are what make us willing.
Trying to find the new trade route to the East Indies, is what made him willing to change.
The second thing you have to do to change anything, is to believe you can do so. “I believe the world is round and not flat, and I believe you can get East by sailing West.” But his belief didn’t do him any good either cause he’s still standing on the shore of the ocean the day he expressed that belief.
Some days, weeks, months, years later, he did the third thing He made a decision. He said “by golly I’m gonna go find out that this thing is really round and not flat and can you really get East by sailing West,” but his decision didn’t do him any good either. Because he was still standing on the shore of the ocean the day he expressed that decision.
Some days, weeks, months, years later he did the next thing you have to do, he started taking action. The first thing he did he went to the king of Portugal to get the money, but the king was a very astute business man and said “there’s no way I’m not gonna let you have this money cause you’ll sail out there and sail right off the edge of this sucker and I’ll loose it all.”
That’s why Columbus ended up with the Queen of Spain.
Sweet talked her out of the money. On the promise that he would bring back gold, silk. spices and all the goodies of life. She gave him the money. He bought three ships, he put provision on those ships, he put crew members on all those ships And they began going East by sailing West.
Sailing West, day after day after day, now we don’t know for sure but we have a suspicion that on that first trip he hired a special sailor and put him on the bow of that lead ship at night with a lantern and he whispered in his ear said, “I believe this thing is round but if you see the edge of this damn thing, you holler so we can get turned around in time.”
Now after having sailing West for several days, he got results. They found land on the other side. Which was the result of the action that they had taken. Now we know that he thought that it was the East Indies, it wasn’t, it was the West Indies, but he’d proven himself that the world is not flat, it is round and you will not sail off the edge of it.
He turned right around and came back to Europe.
Went right back to the Queen of Spain, and she said to Columbus, “where are the gold, silk and spices you promised you would bring me?” And he said “sweet heart I’m sorry but I didn’t find any but he said, tell you what I’ll do, if you refinance me I’ll go back. Trust me honey please,” this time I’ll find it. And she refinanced him, and he got some more ships and more provisions, more crew members they begun sailing East by going West, but with one big difference, the second trip he didn’t hire that special sailor, put him on the lead ship by night, this time he went back on faith.
He went back on knowledge. The first time he went back on belief. you can’t start with faith, the only thing you can do is start with belief, make the decision, take the action, get the results, then you will have faith.
**** **** ****
I thought I’d start this post with this story. It comes from Joe and Charlie, speaking to the chapter in the Big Book called “We Agnostics.”
It was a beautiful day today. It is getting warmer by the day. It was also a great day because one of my best friends is here for 10 days for a work conference, all the way from California. It is our yearly get together. Along with a third friend who lives here, we make the three Musketeers.
This afternoon, I got a letter from a friend. My young Elder Friend who returned home to Idaho, prior to the holidays, wrote me, sitting inside the grand library at Brigham Young University.
The hallowed institution B.Y.U has educated some of the finest young men and women in all of North America. Our Elder served his two year Mission here in Montreal, where we met, just a few months before his departure.
What little time we spent together was jam packed with Love, Faith and Hope. The Elders had a purpose coming into my life, and in the end, the fact that the LDS church states quite clearly their view of “one man and one woman,” has prevented me from becoming a full and baptized member of the church.
But, his words to me were thus … “You came into our lives for a reason, and Heavenly Father knows that reason. We are converted to the Gospel, and NOT the church. So whether you are baptized or not, there is a place for you, and Heavenly Father will never let you down. There were just too many God moments shared between us to discount the hand and spirit of Heavenly Father. So believe me when I tell you that he loves you and so do I…
**** **** ****
Last night, I began reading The Dispossessed, by Szilard Borbely, Translated from the Hungarian, by Ottilie Mulzet. I was hooked on the first page. The first page.
I have a stack of books on my bedside table right now. All going at some point. I am expecting a follow up tome by Viet Thanh Nguyen, titled “The Refugees.” I had read, a few months ago, his first novel called “The Sympathizer” which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for literature. Along with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, was the best book I had read last summer.
The Refugees, comes out in February. I almost missed the title, thanks to Indigo’s Pulitzer Prize listing, saved another book for me to read.
**** **** ****
I said this as the Holiday’s began. I gave a dire warning to my friends. All of them, over a series of weeks. I made sure that every single one of my friends had my number with solid directions to call if they needed to, at any time, for any reason …
My phone did not ring save for Rafa and Juan calling to check on me.
Tonight, was the best night of the week, because it is the best meeting of the week. As I said, my phone did not ring. One of my friends, who lives not far away, offered to drive me out and back tonight. He was, WAS, clean and sober just a short 4 months, this time.
When I got in the car tonight, he was visibly shaken. New Years came and went, and on New Years Day, his lady friend packed up and left him high and dry. Instead of calling, as he was told, he took a chunk of money and got HIGH and DRUNK. Alcohol is one problem, it is the COCAINE that is the real killer.
That started the night off with a bang.
The meeting we talked about Faith without works is Dead … If a man does not expand his Spiritual life and turns around, and works with others, and gives it away, he will surely drink again …
As was tradition, we split up, and the discussion went around. Those who needed to know he had gone back out, knew. So it was a night of protracted song and dance around the room, cross-talking among ourselves, but quite directly talking to him, but not TO HIM.
After the meeting I spoke to my handful of men whom I work with directly. The men who I choose to support directly, even if they don’t want it. I am there. All those conversations led to the same conclusion …
The Holidays sucked, everybody is miserable. Thank God the holidays are over, and I wish they had never come.
Like I said, my phone did not ring except expected calls from my guys.
WHY DO I FUCKING BOTHER …
The way I have stayed sober for so many years, is that, First, I did not make the stupid decisions that my friends did. And Second, I did not do many things I watched my friends do. This holiday, I warned my friends, I gave them my number, told them to call,
Thank God I am sober, and that I don’t make really bad choices.
I am never alone. You are never alone. Whether you stay clean and sober or drunk and high all comes down to A CHOICE.
Your Choice !
YOU make that choice to be sober or not. I can’t make that choice for you. Tonight I spoke to many miserable men, (all straight) by the way, who had horrible holidays, yet they did not even think to call when they could have, but chose not to call.
Fuck me for trying, I mean God the Fuck Damn …
Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of shoes in the world ? Knowing that I probably could not find them here on Amazon or Ebay, because I did not know what they were called, so ZOOM the photo, get a good look, and load that image into Google.
Classic men’s Orange/Neon Green/Black Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 31’s …
For a cool $160.00 CAD shipping included.
Next week …
It is the night after the First Night of the New Year 2017. I was terribly upset when, after an inquiry about our year end reports, to hear that Word Press decided not to produce them this year.
Today the holidays end. Everybody goes back to work tomorrow, and I get my house back. Having another soul sharing the same footprint for two weeks, is trying…
My friend Juan and I hit the Monday Big Book Meeting down the hill. And we were all glad to see that our hearty band of men and women survived the holidays clean and sober.
Tonight’s fare: The House wife who drank at home.
I had to hide, as a great many people in A.A. have had to do. I did my hiding in the hampers and in my dresser drawers. When we begin to do things like that with alcohol, something’s gone wrong. I needed it, and I knew I was drinking too much, but I wasn’t conscious of the fact that I should STOP. I kept on.
My home at that time was a place to mill around in. I wandered from room to room, THINKING, DRINKING, DRINKING, THINKING. And the mops would come out, the vacuum would come out, everything would come out, but nothing would get done.
Toward five o’clock, HELTER-SKELTER, I’d get everything put away and try to get supper on the table, and after supper I’d finish the job up and knock myself out.
I never knew which came first, the thinking or the drinking. If I could only stop thinking, I wouldn’t drink. If I could only stop drinking, maybe I wouldn’t think. But they were all mixed up together, and I was all mixed up inside.
And YET I had to have that drink…
This was my portion of the read this evening. Reading this passage soberly, with the appropriate emphases, speech and tone, we all laughed at the insanity.
It may not have been funny at all, when we were hiding bottles and drinking and thinking and being all over the map when it came to feelings, only to finally realize that we sat in the middle of the balance …
I can’t live with alcohol and I can’t live without it …
I just have to have that One Last Drink …
Coming to the rooms, in the very beginning, was no laughing matter for many of us. I know for me, it was One Very Long Slog the second time. I was shot to death. I was a sad human being, it was definitely NOT a laughing matter.
How can we laugh at someone’s misfortunes when it came to alcohol ?
Well, stop drinking, and come to the rooms. In time, as we read the Big Book, read, and re-read it again, and again, we realize just how bad it was, and with some sober time under our belts, how good it really is now.
Tonight, we all laughed. As was mentioned by some of our folks.
But the laughter, was tempered, by the fact that, some of our number have lost family over the holidays, and that it was not all shits and giggles for some. And we knew that.
But you know, they got through it, with us, Together. They were not, and are not alone.
It is the New Year. And there are those out there, who muddled through the holidays, spitting and sputtering. And there will be those who have realized that they cannot go on the way they have been carrying on, for how ever long the slog has been for them.
Numbers will bump over the next month.
- For those who think they drink too much
- For those who have decided to cut back and come in, but not to stay
- For those who KNOW for sure, they drink too much
- And those who come in via the courts
We who are in it to win it, will listen to people tell their stories and just how insane it was for them, and how they just need to get a handle on their drinking, and they will be good, and they can go back to their lives … and drink again.
The odds are not good, in the month of January, for those who come in and may not, or will not stay. They just need a place to DRY OUT for a bit.
In reading this story, our house wife speaks of SURRENDER…
I went to closed meetings and open meetings. And I took everything that A.A. had to give me. Easy does it, first things first, one day at a time. It was at that point that I reached SURRENDER. I heard one very ill woman say that she didn’t believe in the surrender part of the A.A. program. My Heavens !!!
Surrender to me has meant the ability to run my home, to face my responsibilities as they should be faced, to take life as it comes to me day by day and work my problems out. That’s what SURRENDER has meant to me.
I surrendered once to the bottle, and I couldn’t do these things. Since I gave my will over to A.A., whatever A.A. has wanted of me I’ve tried to do to the best of my ability…
A.A. gives us alcoholics DIRECTION into a way of life WITHOUT the need for ALCOHOL. That life for me is lived one day at a time, letting the problems of the future rest with the future. When the time comes to solve them, God will give me strength for that day.
My grandfather was a bottle hider, as was our house wife tonight. I identified with her story, because I had met her, early on in my life, She was my Grandfather.
My father did not hide bottles. He had a liquor cabinet and a rolling stock bar. He did not hide anything. He drank in open company. The more the better. My parent’s always encouraged us to DRINK. And drink at home, they would even supply the alcohol, no questions asked.
For me, I never kept alcohol at home. I never bought it at a liquor store. I had to go out to get it. That was the adventure. The Going out to Get It.
When I realized that I could not drink every day any longer, I became a BINGE drinker.
In my mid thirties, deluded still, in the belief that if I drank enough, someone would notice me. After the first drink, all bets were off.
In the end, I would have that first drink, and be totally smashed. Several more drinks would follow, and finally, I would go from the club to waking up in my bed, through two locked doors, after someone rushed me out of the club, into a taxi, and got me home.
To this day, I do not know who performed that chore every Saturday night, that I went out to BINGE.
But I am grateful for whomever it was, because this could have ended very badly, someone UP THERE was paying attention, and did for me what I could not do for myself.
You Don’t have to ever drink again.
There IS a SOLUTION.
The rooms await, with people in them, there to welcome you and to be your friends.
One day at a time.
Can I just say, right now, that it was terribly DANGEROUS outside tonight. A fine sheen of ice covers every square inch of real estate, sidewalks, roads, walls, etc … So much ice that walking from point A to point B was an exercise in fine balance and agility.
People were slipping and sliding all over the place.
The Morning Drink
Did you drink in the morning? For many, the “morning drink” is that fine line, that many used to justify their drinking. If you did not drink in the morning, one was not necessarily an alcoholic, or so we thought.
I have some questions about “The Morning Drink.”
- What do you consider MORNING ?
- Is it morning if you did not go to sleep yet ?
- If your nightly drinking, extended into the morning, does that count as morning ?
I had knowledge of what alcoholism looked like from a family perspective. So my alcoholic practice had certain rules.
- I never bought alcohol at a liquor store, ever
- I never kept alcohol in my home, ever
- I never drank in the morning
- Once I crossed into hard liquor, I never drank beer again, so beer does not count
- I always had to go OUT to drink.
- Or I drank in other places, other than home
When I was much younger, I engaged in levels of alcoholism.
I was told, in my twenties, that alcohol was going to make me acceptable to others. I once had a job, where alcohol was served in the office. Later, I worked for R.C.I. International, then Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. Alcohol was served at special events, during work hours, and open bar was the name of the game with new ship introductions.
Happy Hour was very useful, because happy hour got the ball rolling. Then I would drive home, change my clothes and return to the bar, for the nightly drinking ritual until last call or until the ugly lights came on.
Going out to the bar or club was a part of life. It was the lubricating event that usually sealed the deal for human sexual interaction. I drank most nights, but back then, You usually did not drink in the morning, unless ONE, there was an open bar in the a.m.,or TWO, you had alcohol at home, which I never had at home.
When I lived in Fort Lauderdale, you could actually drink 23 hours a day. Beginning at happy hour, (5 p.m.) you would begin the ritual. Then, you either stayed where you were, or you went to a secondary location to continue drinking all night, (8p.m. to 2 a.m.)
When that bar/club/location, closed for the night, you could go to a club, that was open after hours, or open into the wee hours of the morning. (2 a.m. to 6 a.m.)
When that bar/club/location closed, you would be forced to endure 60 minutes without a drink, which usually lent itself to going to the Diner to get breakfast, and give your liver a break for an hour.(6 a.m. to 7 a.m.)
At 7 a.m. one local bar opened for business. It was open for twenty three hours a day.
So if you planned accordingly, you could reasonably drink, 23 hours a day/night.
I only did that maybe a couple of times. That was pretty desperate drinking.
I know, for a fact, that on one particular morning that I continued drinking into that 23rd hour, the next decision I made, sealed my mortal well being and ended my sexual viability.
I can piece together what went down after years of trying to figure out the specifics. That morning, specifically, was the morning that I crossed the invisible line into AIDS.
I know that James was sick when he killed himself, which was a year prior to my diagnosis.
I was working for Todd by then, but I was not yet sober. It would be another year before I got sick, but I was told that I carried for well over a year, before I got very sick with hepatitis hence, activating my immune system, and AIDS exploded into my system.
Like I said, I never drank in the morning, if you want to split hairs.
If I had not gone to bed, it was not morning yet, so that did not count.
It’s that morning drink that will kill you.
It almost killed me – Literally.
Even when drugs were introduced, when I went back out, by my own hand, it wasn’t alcohol that was the problem, it was POT. Our days began with a joint and continued well into the day and into the night, all night, until you either passed out or ran out of weed.
You can see above, that my sober decision skills were nonexistent.
Even sober, I could not make things work on my own, and I certainly did not think straight when I was drunk for sure. My brain was fucked for a very long time.
Sometimes, I am under no illusion, that at certain times, I should not do anything, make any decisions, or even leave the house for that matter.
When Todd stepped into my life, He was in the game with me. I was no longer alone, and for a couple of years, under his wing, I did what I was told, I did not make ANY decisions, alone or by myself, and in the end … I Lived !!!
As soon as that guiding hand departed, and left to my own devices, you would have thought that what I learned the two years prior would play out, it didn’t.
The second time I came in, again, I was no longer alone. I put my trust in the group of men and women who helped me get sober again.
When I moved here, I connected to people, who had my back, and the best of intentions. The right people, were in the right place at the right time.
And I’ve said this recently, about my friends … I must have done something right, by NOT doing what I watched my friends do. My decision making skills were honed in the meetings, and with the people I trusted.
I never did anything without a second or third opinion.
Many of the people who got sober when I did, or came in after, and now are double digit sober, are CRACKED in the HEAD. I’ve listened to them week in and week out, and I know what decisions they made, because all those pitfalls are part of their sordid sober story.
And for some, they still, to this day, double digit sober now, Don’t have their SHIT together. Comparing apples to apples, I stayed very close to my center. I never ventured very far from it. And I think that made all the difference.
I was visiting with RAFA earlier tonight, and we were talking about our fellows, and that they see things in a particular way. And when they see or hear something that rocks their moral or spiritual boat/foundation, they loose their shit.
And I jokingly said, I can’t be angry, and I can’t get mad, or show any emotion, in any meeting, in any capacity, in front of any of my friends. I can’t express certain things in public, because that shakes my friends up so much, they they flee in all directions.
I got mad in a meeting, and lost three quarters of my sponsees in one conversation. Rafa, at one time, voiced an opinion, and all of our friends, ostracized him from the fellowship and the group, because he rocked their perfectly tenuous moral boat.
That Boat, I am talking about is like evangelicalism.
Evangelicals are fed one truth. Based on either scripture or a human being (read: Preacher). What they hear, and what they take in, is taken as gospel and that becomes foundational.
Alcoholics and Addicts suffer from the same malady. And I am not sure why. It probably has to do with where they come from, how they were raised, how much life experience they have outside their comfortable community bubble, where they were educated, and finally, how they see the world.
We see this situation play out with our fellows, when you introduce to them alternative ideas or concepts. Or you share an opinion that is not as conservative or as liberal as their own. We’ve seen, over the last year or so, how people react when they hear things that do not necessarily jive with their world views.
Friendships end. Meetings close. Ne meetings open because people are distressed and they need someplace safe to be, so they open a meeting, formed in their image.
People do not return to certain meetings or they go back out and drink and use, which is the most dangerous consequence to differing opinions.
Foundational Sobriety, for some, is as tenuous as the foundation of an Evangelical Christian. They believe certain truths and they bank on those truths never changing, because if they do, people usually implode.
Many years ago, I could not talk about being Gay AND being a Christian.
That one relationship was so abhorrent to some evangelicals, that they mercilessly attacked me for years, on this blog, until I achieved my degree in Religious Studies in University. Then they just went away …
Thank the Baby Jesus …
They just could not wrap their heads around a Gay man being a Christian. That has changed for some, in today’s day and age, but not for many religious.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
My dalliance with The Church of Latter Day Saints, was an honest endeavor with honest Elders in conversation. It was the Mission President who said, in finality, that in order to be baptized in the LDS church, I would have to annul my marriage.
Not Gonna Happen.
Today, I am still waiting on a meeting with said Mission President. Tonight I got a text saying that they were trying to find time for us to meet, so there is movement there.
The ATONEMENT Is everything. It is the guiding force behind the LDS Church.
I’ve atoned, ten times over.
Good sobriety is all about Good Decision making skills.
At least, that is what I have learned so far, by the example shown by other sober people, in the program, who haven’t all made the wisest decisions, and suffered for their poor decision making skills.
Thank the Baby Jesus, I am not one of those poor souls.
Honestly ! It isn’t my ego that says that, but my soul.
You never know when something you do, or something you say, will impact a life.
I’ve learned in my life, that it isn’t about STUFF, really. It is about connections, love, giving, sharing. Where in the world can you go, on any given day or night, and know, that every single soul in a particular room, has your back 100% ?
The most important job I have in this life, that I live, is to make sure, the meeting I do service at, is opened, set up, and ready to receive whomever walks through that door.
Service is a thankless job. If we don’t do service, the men and women who count on us to be there for them, will be left standing outside in the cold, with no where to be among their own for the hour they chose to visit us.
When I was young, Christmas was a family event. We all participated in decorating the trees, and bushes and anything that stood still long enough to be lit up with lights, to make sure, our house was the best LIT house on the street.
My parents provided wonderful Christmases throughout my life, until of course they found out that I was gay. Then all that good cheer went out the window. It did not matter that I was still family, what mattered was that I was a confessed homosexual.
Baby Jesus and Homosexual did not compute !!!
I remember my first sober Christmas, this time around. It was the year 2002. I had met my then boyfriend just a couple of weeks before Christmas. He lived in the apartment we live in today. But the home we live in today, is light years from the apartment we had back then.
He was going to Ottawa for Christmas. And he gave me a set of keys to this apartment. And he said that I could stay here while he was out of town.
I never left …
We did not get a Christmas tree until Christmas 2003. Because by then, the world had shifted, and not in a good way. The mental illness roller coaster had left the station, and for the first and last time, I went home with him for Christmas. To guard his privacy and protect him from everybody else, because nobody knew the struggle he went through, and to this day, nobody knows about how hard he struggled and what we had to do to keep him safe and sound.
Christmas is an important event in our lives. For a long time, and for many years, after we first got together, Christmas was very paltry. We could not imagine participating in the holiday to the degree that the family participates in Christmas. We just did not have the money to pull it all off.
Peter’s Brother and Sister, have more money than we will ever see. Every Christmas, it is guaranteed, that we will get three sets of gifts. Baskets full of nice things. Useful things, stuff, we would not necessarily purchase for ourselves.
I remember the first year that we could spend money on gifts for everyone. All the adults, and especially the kids in the family. There are five young men and women today. Everybody gets a gift.
Christmas is a well planned event.
Over the years, we have learned the value of a dollar. We live in a very spartan apartment, so there is not a whole lot of room to put STUFF. We do share gifts together. But our lists are very short. And we get to open presents on Christmas gifts on Christmas morning.
For the last ten years, I have opened our home to friends who do not have families, locally, and I invite my friends to our dinner table, both on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is a tradition that my step mom taught us about.
There is an incalculable gift when you invite your friends to dine at your table on the holidays. It isn’t about anything but the simple gift of sharing.
Two years ago, Mama and the baby came into my life. Lu’s first Christmas was spent visiting grandma and grandpa in St. John’s. I was here, they were there. This is Lu’s second Christmas. And I am all in.
Today, the shipment of gifts I sent to St. John’s arrived. Lu and Mama will have Christmas in the best possible way. Even if I am not there with them.
I will win the best Christmas Gift EVER award this year for sure.
The most important job I have today, is making sure the meetings I go to are opened, and ready to receive.
I’ve worked in the nightclub business for a long time, when I got sober the first time, and I know very well, the lengths that people go to, to party on holiday nights. Holidays are some of the best nights in club business.
Alcoholics, in recovery, need just as much attention, as their drinking friends and family.
I’ve seen many, many people suffer through the holiday’s. I know what they are going through. I’ve spent fifteen years watching people make choices during the holidays, that were not necessarily, well thought through.
I once spoke my mind to a suffering alcoholic, at Christmas time, and we never saw her again. Where she went, or if she is still alive, is unknown.
I know today, that the best thing I can do for my friends, is to make sure that whatever room, I am in, on any given holiday night, is open and ready to receive.
The hour that people come to the rooms is sacred. You never know, 100% what is going on in someone else’s head, but we all have a idea. We are all there for the same reason.
It is in that hour that we can affect change. You never know, to what degree, an act of selfless kindness, will do for someone who is suffering or just needs a place to be themselves for an hour without judgment or argument.
The room is set up. There is coffee ready to go. And usually, there are treats on the coffee table as well. We really know how to do holidays right, in Montreal.
Spend enough holidays in the rooms, and you will see just what a difference you make in someones life, every year they return to spend an hour with you.
That is the way we form relationships with people. One cup of coffee at time.
One conversation at a time.
One day at a time.
We are called to be kind. We are called to be just. We are called to be merciful. We are called to care. And we are called to do good in people’s lives, because we must.
That is the message of Christmas.
There were no smart phones in Bethlehem. And there was not a single Big Box Store in all of Sinai.
We give because we can, if we are able.
There is so much suffering in the world today. The world needs a day where EVERYONE is kind and just and merciful.
All we can do, is what we can do, on a daily basis, for someone else, because that is what we are called to do.
Find a kindness and do it …
This morning my phone rang, and as usual I answered it. It is a great feeling to know that I am still useful. This evening I took that friend to a meeting, even though it was bitterly cold outside. We, in Montreal, are still trying to accept that a bitter winter is upon us.
It usually does not get THIS COLD here, this early. But it HAS.
Last night, I had a conversation and today I am blessed to have a best friend in my life.
The taxi drivers in Montreal are all tightly wound because of the competition that UBER has put down on them. Yet, there is at least one taxi driver in this city who willingly stole $150.00 from me on a bitterly cold (-30c) night. I’d never taken a taxi before to a meeting, and I won’t soon do that ever again either.
That drama is now being played out by my bank.
Merry Christmas, you dirty animal.
I hope that when karma comes back around that you loose more than $150.00.
Maybe you should loose your cab and your livelihood, because you are a dishonest pig, who should never serve the general public.
Alcoholics are allowed to get angry, at the right moments.
Tonight’s read, The Missing Link, was written in the portion of the Big Book, hosting seventeen stories, of folks who did not loose, anything, nor did they hit bottom, like the stories that come before them.
But it reads in the book that: “Their bottoms rose to meet them, and they realized they had a problem, and they came into the program.”
Oh, we all lamented tonight, that someone should have said STOP. But many of us, at the meeting, all honestly admitted that, for many of us, nobody was going to stop that party where we were concerned. No way, the party was just too good to stop.
I tell this story of my best friends, Peter and Mike.
We, the three of us, along with a sister, used to host, heavy metal vomit parties, with the requisite beer and hard liquor. Alcohol, was readily available to us, at all times, like water. I don’t ever remember having issues with procuring alcohol, ever.
We had a system.
Invitations went out prior to the parties. The girls were always advised to bring a second change of clothes, if they planned on drinking.
After the party, drunken and stupid, we would load, said girls, into a car and drive them around the neighborhood, while they puked it out. We’d bring them back, they would shower and re-dress, then we would take them home. A little more sober than when this all began.
High School is well known for its S.A.T. Tests …
Standard Aptitude Tests.
We did them three times in High School. Well, on my third pass, we decided to throw caution to the wind, and drink excessively the night prior. I was terribly drunk, as my friend carried my limp body into the house. Mum said nothing. And put me to bed to sleep it off.
The next morning we got up and headed into school for the test.
Thank God I was in the library, which was in the biology wing. A bathroom, just down the hall from said library. As each module began, I would start bubbling. Then have to hurl, run to the bathroom, puke it out, come back and finish said module.
It was not pretty at all.
My best friend Peter, committed an indiscretion, with my virginal cousin who was visiting that summer. She gave up her virginity to a boy. My father called her father, who flew down to Florida, for “The Talk.”
I never knew what was said, but after that night, my best friend, was no longer my best friend. In fact, I never heard from him ever again, until I looked him up on Facebook some time ago.
A handful of friends I grew up with eventually got sober. Others still drink, responsibly.
Other friends, I have attempted to reconnect with, were cold and unresponsive. Intimating that it was just ME that had a problem, and that it was good I had contacted them, but thanks but no thanks.
I’ve reflected recently about Listening, Choices and Actions.
From a young age, I listened to many things said to me, around me, and behind my back, and in front of others. I think, growing up, I may have made some wise choices. But you toss a kid into the world, without a safety net and no counsel, those good choices become far and few between.
For the last twenty three years, since my diagnosis, I have been learning how to make good choices. And I know, that when I make choices by myself, that there is a high probability that those choices are going to be SHIT.
I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. And almost died because of really bad choices and actions. So you can say that this last stretch of fifteen years has been in perfecting my listening, my choice making and my actions.
Because our writer honestly asks in his story … “What are shortcomings?”
I am told, and we heard this tonight from our 28 year celebrant that, if you don’t think you have shortcomings, stick around, you may find some along the way.
Another friend of mine, with a little time, is asking this question…
“When is my miracle going to happen. I’ve been around a number of years, and I just can’t seem to find my miracles.”
We all laughed at him, in love …
Stick around until the miracle happens.
A woman used to say that to me when I first got sober. Every day.
I forgot that. So I had to go back out looking for my own personal miracle.
How wrong I was.
Now I know that miracles do happen. They have happened in my life. And continue to happen quite frequently.
God is Good.
I am loved.
I have the BEST friend in all the world.
And one day that dirty rotten taxi driver will get his comeuppance.
Karma is a bitch…
My weekly meeting schedule took a huge hit over the last few months. I spend the bulk of my meeting time in M.A. these days. So my sober meetings are exclusively Sunday’s and Friday nights.
I have not written a whole deal about sobriety since my melt down in June. It has just been a very tense time, and I needed to return to basics, until I felt the emotional shift back into equilibrium.
I’ve stuck very close to my friends, who saw me through this period of time. I stayed away from most old timers, opting to only seek the counsel of two, my temporary sponsor, and another friend, I have yet to sit with. We haven’t been able to connect, since the “incident” but that meeting is in the works.
I learned early on, this time around, what needs to be done, when your world gets turned upside down in sobriety. The totally bad news about sobriety is this …
The time will come, and IT WILL COME, that something happens, either to you, or someone you love, or someone you know, or people you know, or a community you identify with, and you will feel. Let me say that again … YOU WILL FEEL.
Now, not every alcoholic or addict is going to respond well to this truth, because, when the chips fall, if you don’t have a sturdy plan of saving action, YOU WILL DRINK or USE AGAIN.
Now that I am on the other side of a serious sober meltdown, we talked about the “Bad Day” tonight. Sadly, I am the only long time member in the M.A. fellowship, at the moment. All of my friends are inside of five years, and some inside their first year, so I listen to them talk with close attention.
When all else fails, and the chips fall, you can do one of two things:
- You can go back out and self destruct OR
- You find the path through the fire and you live.
I know what to do, for me, when times get tough. I get out of the house/ I go to meetings/ I call my friends/ I talk to people/ I open/ I close/ I make coffee/ I set chairs/ I serve others.
I know this works, because I have used this method without fail for almost fifteen years now, and it has never failed me.
Now that I am on the other side, this experience I had was specific. I kind of went “off line.” I was showing up to meetings, but I was only halfway there, mentally and emotionally. I had conversations with friends, that in hindsight, were half conversations, and I did speak with those friends as it happened, and they remained with me, and they sat with me and they understood me, and they let me be me, even when I was only half there.
Those are real friends.
We need to know what to do, when things get really rough in sobriety, and the only thing we can do is wait for it to happen to us, then walk through that experience, learn from that experience, “in real time” then share it openly.
Traversing tragedy and Trauma differs from person to person. Because we all deal with adversity in our own ways. I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on formal therapy, because, in the rooms, I get it for free.
Professional help, when needed, is needed, and should ALWAYS be an option, when necessary. Never go it alone, if you can’t go it alone. Sometimes we need that professional point of view to make sense of life at times.
My circle of friends are battle tested men and women, whom I trust with my life.
I knew, that I was not alone, at any point during this period.
I guess I had to find the end of this pain and emotion. And I guess that began when some guy pulled me aside after a Friday meeting, and said that he was tired of listening to me talk about it over and over.
I was like, “thank you for sharing …
” I hope you never find yourself in the shitter and need a safe place to fall, until you yourself can get back up …”
I just kept doing what I was taught to do, to insure that I would not drink or use again. And I did it naturally. I have a “Good Habit” routine now.
I’ve watched too many of my friends go back out and drink / use again. I watched a handful of my friends die, because they crashed and burned, and did not do what we were all taught to do, by those who knew what to do, instead taking life on, by themselves, taking back control, and killing themselves in the process.
Sometimes the adage: DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO, applies
Other times the adage : IF YOU DO AS I SAY, YOU MAY STAY CLEAN AND SOBER.
The only way the second adage work is IF you have the experience to impart.
If you don’t, then shut up …
There are some folks, I’ve known, all along, through the years, were people I knew were sick people. Those who I stayed away from. Then there were those I gravitated towards because it was an opportunity.
Sadly, a major opportunity turned into a MASSIVE CRASH AND BURN.
The wisdom of the old timer is this …
YOU MAY HAVE THE TIME, BUT YOU MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE SOBER.
A friend of mine, a few months sober, was working with a friend, and they handed him the chair of the Friday night meeting. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Monday he went out and drank, and drank all week, and called me at 5:30 this evening to tell me that.
I asked him why he didn’t call his sponsor before he took that first drink, his answer was this … He does not connect with him, ergo, does not trust him, ergo, he drank again.
But when he finished, he thought to call ME instead of his sponsor.
Hopefully, he will be sober tomorrow night.
We give folks our numbers to make sure they are connected, Whenever they need it.
Sadly, most folks call a few times, then stop. Some never call at all, and they never come back to meetings.
If someone is SURE AS SHIT going to drink or use, they sure as shit aren’t going to call before they do it. Some, do call, when they get to the end.
What they do with our advice now matters.
They either want to stop or they don’t.
Thank God my bad day came to an end.
As it eventually would.