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…
Sadly … Another friend of mine from my former second fellowship has relapsed.
That would be three in total …
It is a common theme over the past months, of people we know, very well, from around town, are stuck, and have either gone back out and are still out, or as in tonight, a friend I know well, for many years, who had some time, decided to jump out of a window and use again.
If you have decided what we want and are willing to go to any length, then you are ready to take certain steps.
Addicts and Alcoholics are terribly INTOLERANT people.
And the Friday meeting, is one of those meetings, that has been through the crucible of intolerance. In as many years, we have all stayed around, through adversity and intolerance, we survived.
Intolerance has cost us a great deal over the years. People with time, deciding at one point to be intolerant of some who come to that meeting, because they feel welcomed, were, at one point, asked to leave, because of intolerance of some of our number.
Tonight, one of the men who fled that drama, was sitting in the room. I have not seen him in many many months.
Everyone sitting at that table tonight, must have been thinking about what happened to us, a while back, when friends became enemies, and silence fell and people fled that meeting.
Because of INTOLERANCE.
God, in his infinite wisdom has done for us, what we could not do for ourselves.
Wisdom speaks to me tonight and says … If you stay, and you pray, God Will Move.
Once again, I am sitting in a room, and God is moving among us.
Last year, intolerance raised its ugly head and disbanded an entire community of people, sending people running for the hills.
Sadly, three of those intolerant people, used and drank again. And they have, over the past few weeks, returned to the sanctity and acceptance of the Friday meeting.
Is that Odd or is that God ????
I left a community, and people left me in return, because of intolerance.
I remained at the Friday meeting, making it my home group some time ago and I have been sitting in that room, doing service, and waiting on God.
God has not disappointed …
“Gradually we began to be able to accept the other’s sins as well as their virtues. We coined the potent and meaningful expression “Let us always love the best in others – and never fear their worst.”
“Finally we begin to see that all people, including ourselves, are to some extent emotionally ill as well as frequently wrong. When this happens, we approach true tolerance and we see what real love for our fellows actually means.”
Shit happens in meetings, and more especially in business meetings.
Normal everyday alcoholics, while sitting in a meeting, practicing tolerance, will step into a business meeting, and the gloves will come off and dust begins to fly …
Tolerance goes right out the window.
I’ve seen what intolerance does to people who are terribly intolerant. And at one point, I pointed that out to a particular friend, and in doing so, cost me several friendships.
Some of those friends decided against their better natures to use again.
This is what happens when communities fall apart, and contacts disappear.
People use again, because they feel that they cannot talk to you because of
I sat with that friend, before the meeting, and I am sure that look of pity crossed my features when he told me that he was just a week clean and sober.
And I asked one question … What did you NOT do that you should have DONE ?
Those answers are always the same.
A Room is a Furnace. A Crucible. A Testing Ground. An Ego Buster. A Humility Teacher.
We are all wounded, one way or another. And at times, the best of us, gets swallowed up by the worst of us. And usually that happens in front of and to our friends, who are closest to us.
The chair spoke tonight and he said … We are evilest to those closest to us, and we are gracious and accepting to a perfect stranger …
He also added: Fear leads to Anger, Anger leads to Hate, and Hate leads to Suffering …
We quote the Jedi in our meeting on Friday.
All I can do is be present.