Nothing pisses me off more, than a room of few people, an hour fifteen for a meeting, 45 minutes to share, and a chair with the penchant for egg timing people from the chair.
I go to meetings to listen to my friends. And I go to meetings to hear God speak to me. And if the share gets to me, you bet your ass, I am going to take all the time I want.
We have two Hasidim men who come to our meetings out of their communities. We had a woman who had just days, and she was in pieces trying to get her words out. There were old timers who just sat there and tutted me every time I said to the chair to put his goddamned egg timer down and let people finish.
It wasn’t like we were pushed right up against the hour. No we had 45 minutes, and everyone should have gotten the time they needed to speak.
And Be Damned your Egg Timer … Damn it to Hell.
I made it a point, when our Jewish friends came, to make them feel comfortable and welcomed and supported and all. They usually come in late and have to catch up, which means, if time allows, you Let Them Talk, for Christ’s sake !
I never egg time anyone. And I’ve never egg timed anyone in a meeting that I chair. Not in all the years I have chaired any meeting in this city. There are very few occasions that I’d stop someone from going on and on and on. We all know, in the rooms, who they are.
The last time I had to kettle someone was after the election and a man started ranting and raving about politics and Donald Trump, at a Friday Meeting. We don’t do politics in the meeting. That’s in the Preamble.
The share got to me, and I had things to say, and I picked up my phone and said to the chair that, “I had 30 minutes to speak, and I was going to take every minute I wanted.”
My former sponsor and her boyfriend were sitting in the circle TUTTING me.
That meeting is the hall at St. Leon’s where I got sober. The room where I saw God. The room that has been a weekly fixture in my sobriety for more than 15 years.
And you’re gonna egg time me ??? You Fucker …
**** **** ****
This morning I went to sit for my first design appointment for my birthday tattoo. My guy did not show. This is the image of the tattoo as my consultation began. The boy on the stairs, walking towards time, over the ocean.
It is a black and white image. No color to speak of.
The discussion went along, and we eliminated the clock works from the image. The clock is now a spiral configuration. The stair case is also Spiral, with the boy climbing a Spiral set of stairs, and in my mind’s eye, his shirt is red.
We are going to go along a blue theme. Having One Color, and many hues, is much cheaper than going full-bore, with many colors on the same tattoo.
The reason being is that your paying by the hour. Each color is, in and of itself, one set of color. And every time you have to change colors, you have go to through a cleaning process, eating your time and your money.
The outline is black. The ocean is blue, and whatever else needs to be colored will be a hue of blue, except my required red shirt on the boy.
The Clock denotes … TIME.
The Past, The Present and The Future.
The Stair Case … Is self-explanatory if you are in recovery.
We all know what Stairs or Steps mean.
The Ocean … Is life in all its turbulence.
The Boy’s shirt is … RED. A nod to my journey with AIDS.
One single shot of color. And the boy is going UP the stairs.
Not looking back or coming down. He is moving forwards.
The Clock is ticking, The steps are in front of you, and the water is gurgling below.
The Journey Home …
There is also a Kryon Parable about Michael and the Angels. A story I’ve read over and over again. Michael has suffered a terrible tragedy, the loss of his parents, he is living a dead-end life, and there is no one special in that life either. He gets mugged and almost killed. While in the ER he has a vision of an angel, who he tells, “That all he wants is to go home!”
The angel facilitates his way out of the hospital after a benefactor pays his bill and tells him to pack his things and prepare for the Journey Home.
In the story there are seven angels who teach Michael about life, in seven very colorful houses along the way. The last house is the House to go HOME.
Michael’s final walk, is up a staircase, to a door marked HOME.
Then he threw up …
If you’ve never read the story, you won’t get the last sentence.
People who know me, know I am a gentle man. And I never raise my voice or get angry. But the last few months has changed all that. I am more apt to speak my mind a bit more openly, even if it pisses my friends off and imbalances the power in the room.
I may not be in the chair, but if you displease me, you will know it for sure.
I’ve never walked out of a meeting before, ever.
Tonight I did … Wanting a drink !
Romeo Dallaire – in the hills of Rwanda. A place he speaks of warmly, as the place he would go, amid all that carnage, to find inner peace.
The first order of business, is to take care of ourselves.
Lately, some of my friends are beginning to find that they have overextended, over compensated, and spent themselves giving to people, who have taken advantage of them, and did not take into consideration what “their” friends have been doing for them all this time.
I’ve said recently that when the sun rises, the first order of business is Me. It begins with me and it ends with me. Everything else in between, comes as it comes. I know better than to over extend. The lesson about becoming a man, for me, was learning how to put the needs of someone else’s, (read: My Husband) before my own.
A certain number of my friends, the chosen few, also hold that place in my heart. They all know that I am at their service, should they ever call upon me. If I give it all away for free, and walk away empty and overextended, then I have not learned the lesson.
For the last little while, I have been up early, and my daily routine has gotten sharper and I do what needs to be done, which frees up the rest of the day to be able to be present for my friends, at any given hour.
Resting is part of my routine. Every day, one way or another.
Nothing pleases me more than having a few hours of down time to nap. I shut off my phone, I crawl into bed, and I sleep. Many of my friends don’t have that kind of luxury, however I encourage them to make time to just stop, drop and rest.
One of the things we learn in sobriety is to be gentle with ourselves, to be kind to ourselves, and to remember our spirits (thank you Oprah). If there is not time in every day to find peace within, how can you offer that kind of peace to anyone else in your life?
I had lined up a speaker for tonight’s meeting. On Monday night, he told me that he had to cancel, but he offered one of his sponsees to speak in his place. I said that was fine.
It is good practice, I think, to put people in the hot seat, so that they can hear themselves talk about where they are, in this thing we call life. My man tonight, said to me that he had spoken at St. Matthias, a year ago, and did not think he had anything worthwhile to say. I encouraged him to get up there and talk anyways.
He did just that.
There are many people in the rooms. Every single human being came to the room, with collateral damage. There are a handful of men, who worked their ways up into some serious positions in the community. Either by wealth, education, family, or addiction.
I know of just a few men, who are similar to my man tonight.
Coming from an Italian home where image was everything, and working his way up the proverbial education, work, and money ladder, to the pinnacle of PhD, a beautiful wife, home, and cars in the driveway, the fall was catastrophically deep.
We all know men and women, who had it all, by the looks of it. Many of them had a really hard time keeping up appearances at the bitter end. It takes one serious human being not to kill themselves, after surviving a fall like my friend’s fall.
I’ve said before, that everyone comes with a story. At the end of the day, it is all about humility. I am a pretty good judge of character. As I sat in the chair tonight, some of our guests, do not rank very high on my respect meter, by their own doing. There are just some people who rub me wrong like spiritual sandpaper.
And and my guy got up there and spoke from his heart, and as I watched my fellows, twitch in their seats, there are those few, who just shut off, and pay not a moment’s attention to what is going on in the front of the room. They are only concerned with what is going on between their ears, and how good they look, or how good a hockey game they can talk up.
There are some men in the program here, that I just cannot stomach, even on a good day.
When I sit in the chair, and I bring people to speak, there are those who just have contempt for anything that I do in the rooms, to this day. Which is why I stay well away from those certain members. I don’t go to their meetings, I don’t go out of my way to be kind, or even speak to them. I sat in the chair tonight, and most people know my name, and greet me warmly, and have good things to say.
Then there are those, who don’t give a damn who’s in the chair.
Over the many years I have been sober, Mama has encouraged me to always take care of me, and not allow people the ability to stir my inner peace. It has taken a long time to get where I am, and over the last year, I have told some serious time holders to go fuck themselves.
I know who I want to have in my life, and what I will take from them, and make my own, then there are those who are thorny bushes who only exist to prick us and make us bleed. Sad but true. There are some people who we know we need to stay away from, because I have watched them, and I’ve listened to them, over the years, and I know the way they treat me in meetings, on retreats and in group dynamics.
I know that my friends see these observations themselves. They are sitting in the same rooms with me, so I am not wrong in my observations. I have really great friends, who care about me and love me. I was thinking on the way home that:
I just want to be loved. I just want to be included. And I just want to be respected.
We are taught, in the rooms, that we must be cognizant of other people’s struggles, and not judge them for where they are on the continuum. We are taught to respect everyone. And offer the shoulder, and to give people the benefit of the doubt.
And I do that.
I know today, that there are those who do not get what I am told to give them.
Living with AIDS for so long, I learned certain self-preservation lessons. Which I still employ to this day. I will give you all those things that they tell us to give you, until you do something uncharitable to me, or you disrespect me, or you treat me less than, in any group or meeting interaction. Or you shoot your mouth off in stupidity.
I have no room for disrespect, indignity, and unkindness. There are a handful of heterosexual men in the rooms that I just won’t give the time of day, because of words spoken, or actions made, in my presence.
I will give you what I am supposed to, from the get go, until you break one of my nonnegotiable. After that, you are on your own. I won’t have anything to do with you.
Sitting in a room, and watching certain men, disrespect other men, who get up to the table and speak, just makes my blood boil. We can see you, standing up in front of the room. Behavior like this does not go unnoticed.
Next week, I am in the hot seat. I’m the one who is going to be standing up there, knowing that there are some folks in the crowd, that just rub me the wrong way.
This past year has been the hardest year. Number 15. My guy is in the same space I am right now. Fifteen, seems to be a pivotal year for many. The word vulnerability has come up more than once over the past few weeks.
Being vulnerable, does not necessarily translate into kindness from others. Especially from those men and women, who have lots of time, but are not necessarily sober.
Once you speak word, you can never take them back.
My father said those words.
People shoot their mouths off all the time. And we are just supposed to let them slide, for the simple reason, that the are IN the rooms, right ? People are ignorant, all over the place. People are indignant. People do not treat each other equally, or respectfully in many places. And we are just supposed to let them slide, for the simple fact that;
“they are in the rooms, and are just “not there” yet ?
I just know, today, in my sober journey that, NO, I’m not gonna let you just slide, for the simple reason that you are in a room. That “NO” becomes more indignant, the more time you have under your belt. It seems to me that lengthy sober time gives someone the credence to be an asshole. That’s been my observation over the last five years or so.
But they are IN the room, so you must cut them slack.
No I don’t have to cut anyone any slack, in my book.
I’ve fucking pounded the pavement, wore my heart on my sleeve, given it everything that I’ve got, just to be able to say, with some certainty, that I am sober …
To the best of my ability.
Long sober time, does not necessarily make you sober.
Inner Peace is necessary when there are buzzards in the room for sure…
I’ve spoken before about my commitment to my covenant with God. This renewal came with the introduction to the Elders. Namely Elder Christensen. This wise, kind and compassionate young man, turned my covenant upside down.
As Summer came to an end, and I knew change was coming, I had said to God that I was ready to make a serious change. I was telling a friend this morning about that particular conversation. I had given God a few months notice, that at a certain point, I would conceded my inner most self and turn again.
Well, God was having none of that. And in God’s time, everything happens for the greatest good. That day I stepped onto the Metro platform at Acadie, Elder Christensen stepped into my life. Noting that my entrance into the LDS came at a price that I was not willing to pay, what I learned in that spiritual process was not lost on me in any way.
Months prior, early in the Summer, during the month of June, my emotional safety valve was turned and the first of many cathartic emotional moments began to occur.
It is what it is.
My friend pointed out to me that maybe I need to stand on my own two feet, and trust the process and the feelings that are hitting my dashboard right now, and not need to seek approval to stand where I am. And that maybe the message is quite clear, to my friend, at least, that maybe I am being taught something particular.
I don’t always see patterns for myself. Which is why, when I talk to friends, they must be “in the game” with me, not someone looking from the outside in, and giving commentary.
Who knows what the “right way” to grow up is ? How do we know we are doing this thing correctly ? Am I supposed to just mushroom, sitting in the dark, and being fed shit ? Are we not supposed to have emotions, and better yet, express them in open community ?
For the record, I give of myself, until my tanks are empty. I’ve spent countless days, hours, months and years, being of service, that led to the point where I had another emotional encounter with someone, in the past, that I had to meter what I said to him, knowing how I had to speak to him and with him, always editing my comments, so as to not put a dent in his very fragile sensibilities.
But at the point where I had to be brutally honest, and speak my mind, it may not have been pretty what I said, but what I said was the truth. I had over two years invested with this particular human being, and in the end I learned a lot about myself, and also, I learned much about my friend, and other friends, in conjunction together.
That crowd of people who sit in “Cannot be Bothered” and “Telephoneaphobia” they are maddening. One particular friend who was witness to an outburst of voice, will not call, ever. However, he sends me a cryptic text on Christmas day, that kind of passive aggressive one liner … I know you are unwell, so I am sending you positive vibes… But I won’t call you because I don’t want to have a conversation with you in any case.
The cork is out of the bottle. The genie is out of the lamp, and there will be blood.
I am at this point where the filter is off and I am running on pure emotion. And my friend, this morning said that, maybe I need to sit in my truth and continue feeling what is coming, because this might be a serious teaching moment of GROWTH.
I told God I wanted change. I said that I was ready and willing, and I guess that’s all we need to say to God, “I am ready and willing” and God responds by shifting the cosmos to meet us. And at the point, everything changes.
I can freaking see bullshit. And I know what an asshole looks like and smells like. I’ve seen people, in the recent past, turn into animals. Arrogant, self righteous, compassion-less, and stupid. And I’ve heard the words they said to me, and instead of responding in kind, I just walked away and cut them out of my life.
People in the rooms, travel on the calm and never emotional river of life. We don’t express ourselves to others and surely not to ourselves. God forbid we rock the boat or say something that might be construed as “uncouth.”
I just know, I am at a point where, I can’t stay silent any longer. My silence on certain topics just tells people that I give consent to whatever bullshit is coming out of their mouths.
They Say Silence Gives Consent.
We’ve read the books, over and over, We’ve done the work, over and over … Isn’t about time we turn it all over and let is all hang loose, and just BE ?
I don’t usually listen to my own advice, but I have said that the only thing that has to change in sobriety is everything, and that at some point, in sobriety, we are going to begin feeling. What we don’t know about that second portion is, “feeling to what extent ?”
I mean just HOW MUCH is this going to hurt … ?
People do not like that I am a bit cracked emotionally. But I’ve been listening to my friend talk about themselves, and they are CRACKED well worse than I am. Some of my friends are just plainly Fucked. I’ve heard their stories, and now I know, that I sure as shit, did not make the same decisions, nor the same mistakes they did. And I am much better for having been able to distinguish that when it really counted.
The way I am sober is directly related to all the shit I watched my friends do over the last fifteen years. I did something right. I am growing up. I mean fifty is just around the corner You’d think I would KNOW a few things by now, and be able to call BULLSHIT honestly, from the get go when I see it and hear it.
But I know, I don’t want to piss off my friends are say something that is totally out of my calm, sober and demure character. My friends have been witness to my emotional cracks in my persona. Many of them have cut me off and run for the hills.
Fuck me for being me. You really did not care about me, you were more concerned with the package than what was on the inside. Many of my friends were attracted to the image of calm and serene, but when faced with chaos and uncertainty, they all ran away screaming and yelling.
That speaks volumes about them, and not necessarily about me.
I’m really trying to find my way in this new reality. My friends are doing for me what I can’t do for myself.
And God is in the drivers seat.
Clearly in control of the bus.
Not sure where this was going, or where we ended up, but a few thoughts for the night.