The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.
Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.
Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.
We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.
As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see
- What it is that they have
- How did the learn what they said and/or did
- And how do you replicate that piece of advice
- You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
- As far as it will get you
So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.
Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.
If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.
Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.
You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.
I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.
Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.
It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?
If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…
It’s written in the book.
If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.
The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.
Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…
And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.
If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.
ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.
If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.
Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.
The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.
You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.
I promise you that.
I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.
It’s the Best night of the week.
I once heard someone say that during an interview. And in tonight’s story, “Building a New Life,” You get to read about how our man “saw the ball, and became the ball.”
After a life of self-abuse, immaturity, and several attempts at sobriety, via rehab institutions, he finally finds his way to us. And you’d think that somewhere on his route to us, he would find the key, the desire, and the will to get sober.
He does not.
Finally, after admitting defeat, he finds his way in.
They say, well, it was said to me, this time around that:
“At the time we begin drinking and using, for most of us, that begins very early in life, that we stop growing emotionally and mentally, AT the age we began consuming.”
Most people, who enter the rooms, at whatever stage they enter, are stuck somewhere on the emotional and mental timeline in their lives. If we stick and stay, like we remind our folks, we begin to grow up, be it ever so slowly.
When our man came in, he was a disheveled mess of a human being. But what he saw, changed his life for the better. It is said by many, that on their first entrance to the rooms, they witnessed people, well dressed, happy, and laughing among themselves.
For most of us, this was jarring, to say the least.
Our man saw men, well dressed in suits. I imagine that he was not a “Man in a suit, just yet.” He just wanted to be a man in a suit. There is a metaphor there.
I know, from the read, that our man wanted to clean up his life and his person. That does not happen overnight either. We first have to put down the substance, and gather ourselves together to make that walk into the rooms, with whatever self-respect and dignity we might still have.
Eventually, over time, our man does become, “That man in a suit.”
I know, for me, that it took a very long time to figure out who I wanted to become in sobriety. I had past examples of men I wanted to be like, (read: Todd). In the rooms, this time around, I found men, whom I came to respect and admire.
I’ve always said that, getting sober this time around was a scientific study of people; Situations, Decisions, Choices, and even Bad Choices. I brought to myself everything that I saw that was good, and made them mine. Everything else I left.
Like our man who saw the suits, and wanting to become a suit, he worked hard to become “that man in a suit.”
There are many layers to this achievement.
One, he had to figure out who he was, when he walked into the rooms. That takes time. He got into service early on, which will save your sobriety, if you do service early on.
Two, he had to find a sponsor and get into The Work and the Steps, to figure out where he had gone wrong, what led him to drink, and to clear away the wreckage of his past.
And Three, he had to figure out who he wanted to be. What he wanted to be was “That man in a suit.” Well dressed, well put together, and Mature …
In the beginning, it might have meant something to him, to get dressed, when he went to a meeting, like the men he saw, when he walked in.
90% of feeling good, is looking good.
He walked in and saw something that appealed to his better nature. He dressed the part, hoping, that at some point in his journey, he would fully inhabit, “That man in a suit.”
When I came in, I had already made the decision that I was ready to grow up and become a man, now. THEN, I had to figure out what that looked at in real-time, in watching the many men, I came in contact with, in the rooms.
I wanted to be grown up. I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to be a man.
I saw the ball, and I started acting like the ball, at over time, I became the ball.
This runs along the lines of “Acting as if…”
The visual I am talking about now is a much better example of acting as if.
I’ve been through many incarnations of myself over the years. Looking good, was the first stage of becoming good. Responsibility came second. I walked into a room, and I joined that group … Tuesday Beginners” right off the bat, on that first night.
The first thing they said to me is “do service.” I did service. I still do service to this day.
I wanted to be part of, and to “Become.”
You can’t become, if you don’t engage.
It wasn’t a suit that I was after. There were men, in certain meetings, who had a certain dress code, for their men, at that specific meeting.
I know when the Elders walked into my life, dressing the part, was part in parcel of becoming part of.
First we get into the rooms. We find a focal point. We meet people we want to be like. We clean up the wreckage of our pasts, then we are ready to begin building.
My education, at the beginning, was just to get settled and build my foundation.
At eleven months, my manhood appeared. I made a crucial decision. The rest, you can say, is history. All the goodness, all the badness, all the pain, and all the struggle, made me the man I am today.
The one CONSTANT in my life IS the rooms and SERVICE.
They told me that if I put anything before my sobriety, that would fail. I began to build infrastructure of meetings, people, sponsors, etc …
I still have that framework in action to this very day.
Shit happens in life, and it ain’t all rosy and happy, all the time. In all seriousness, over the last year, I have been in the emotional and mental wringer, to be honest. And watching my friends, or people I considered my friends, react, to my distress, has been an eye-opening experience for sure.
Not everybody is your friend, especially when time get tough.
But we persist !
In the beginning, I had just a simple idea of what I wanted.
Simply, I wanted to grow up and become a man.
How to get there was the challenge. Like our man, in the story tonight, he connected to something that spoke to his better nature, and he latched on.
Sobriety, takes time. A LOT of time.
Eventually our man became “That man in a suit.”
With all the love, adoration, respect and dignity, that that SUIT bestowed on him.
90% of feeling good, is looking good…
Today we talked about the survival of the fellowship.
Clearly, our first duty to A.A.’s future is to maintain in full strength what we now have. Only the most vigilant care taking can assure this. Never should we be lulled into complacent self-satisfaction by the wide acclaim and success that are everywhere ours. This is the subtle temptation which could render us stagnant today, perchance disintegrate us tomorrow. We have always rallied to meet and transcend failure and crisis. Problems have been our stimulants. How well, though, shall we be able to meet the problems of success ?
I wonder out loud, quite often, to my friends that, “Is anybody listening ?” Are people really that stupid ? Does anyone take into consideration that the words we speak really do matter, and that if you follow these very simple suggestions,
“You won’t have to drink today !!!”
I don’t know what more I can do for the men and women I work with, then to continue repeating the same refrains to them, because, right now, they are not listening.
Yet my phone rings daily, with the drama of the day …
It is beginning to wear thin, on my very last good nerve.
Conflict is something that happens in the rooms. I know, from conflicts past, that if conflict happens, that I just keep my mouth shut, walk away, find a meeting to do service in, and wait for God to work His miracles, in the universe.
Recently, God has been bringing the douche bags into the Friday meeting, one by one.
I talked last night about saying words, that may well fall on deaf ears. I talked about letting people slide, when they piss us off, or do something stupid.
All day, the rat has been on his wheel in my head, thoughts about people, places and things, that really have no bearing on my life today. I am going to be in the hot seat next week, and I’ve been working on my script … Yes I use a script, because my memory is not what it used to be, and the last time I spoke it was a HUGE shit show. And I am not going to stand up in front of my home group next Thursday and be a douche bag myself.
I wanted to nap for a few hours and my brain was on overdrive, and that fucked up the entire day. I took a shower and headed out to do set up. When I finished, I called my sponsor and told him I was in the weeds. I only asked him to work with me last week, so the ground rules have not been spoken, and we need to do that and talk about next Thursday while we are at it.
He does not agree with me on a script. That’s ok. I’m not going to get up there and fuck it up for sure, in any case.
I talked tonight about degrees of separation.
The people in the rooms, are in our lives, in degrees of separation. The closer you are to me, the more likely I am to tell you when Yes, You Are A Douche Bag.
The further away you are from me, I will let you slide. There are people who rub me like spiritual sand paper. They can go fuck themselves. I already know You Are A Douche Bag, and I want nothing to do with you.
On the way home, I was talking to a friend about negativity and people who have no bearing on our lives today. And he asked how did I cope with assholes and elbows ?
It has taken the whole of my sobriety to figure out how to let go of people who are assholes, namely family, who are total Douche Bags. The less time I spend thinking about them the better. I used to ruminate at great lengths the depth of pain these people HAD caused me in the past, and I used to allow that pain to infect my daily life, for a long time.
Bob calls this the hostage theory … His theory was that he was adopted. Then he used to use Well, I’m Gay … It was one thing after another.
I don’t have any more hostage stories to tell. And nobody wants to hear them either. I don’t want to listen to myself, dredge up all that old bitter shit …
Ugh, the drama of it all.
The less time and personal emotional power I spend carrying people, places and things that have no impact on my life today, the better.
If we carry around all that shit baggage, and we spend hours upon hours of our days and nights ruminating over that shit, that’s a lot of personal mental energy spent WASTED.
Do you know how long it took me to get that ? Having heard Bob talk about this more than five years ago ? And I listen to him often, because he’s on my pod cast player.
UGH… I’m so tired.
I hate sitting in a meeting knowing one of my former douche bag sponsees is sitting in the room trying to ignore me and not talk to me. But he came with a friend, who I haven’t talked to in seven months, who rang my phone at 11:30 last night.
Oh, Hi, How are you ? It’s been so long, we need to catch up. What have you been up to ? I wanted you to know I started going to other meetings. He came to Friday meeting last week, because my best friend took his five-year chip.
I gave him that piece of advice – going to other meetings, more than ten months ago, and he finally got around to making that work.
Douche Bag !
Working to stay sober. I’ve done what I’ve always done, when conflict happens. I shut my mouth, I walk away, I find another meeting, and I do service.
I don’t get it that people who know me, for more than a few years, seem to think, that keeping it simple is such hard work !
I’ve done the same thing I was told to do when I came in. I took to heart every piece of advice given to me, and I still do those things today, like clockwork.
My life is built around my meetings and doing service.
How difficult is that ?
Yet, there are a handful of friends, who did not heed that advice, and over the past seven months, have gone back out and drank again, and used again. One of my friends took a chip tonight, and he just does not get it.
It’s not complicated.
Pick up the phone, talk to someone, get to a meeting, do some freaking service for God’s sake. It’s not complicated.
Obviously, people are not listening to anything lately.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
You’re a Douche Bag …
You never know, when the subject of Faith and God will arise.
Earlier today, I got a call from my Friday driver, to say he was going to make a 12 step call on the way to the meeting, and if I could take the Metro to the meeting, No Problem.
I met with a sponsee for an hour and made my way uptown for 7 p.m. I got there 10 minutes early. I cranked it out and waited for folks to show up.
Little did I know, that the 12 step call would be for someone I know, from the Monday meeting. This particular man, talks about God, in words and actions that nobody else I know use, in the rooms, across the board.
The other night, he was talking to an old friend, as they shared old war stories between themselves, and he ended up with a crack pipe in his hands, on a two night binge.
Where his faith went, even he does not know…
I sat and listened in, to a conversation, and then I asked him about his faith life, If he had lost his faith, or was he still hanging on to it. From what I had been hearing from him, I just shot into the dark with an idea.
Last night, I listened to several talks from General Conference. Thomas S. Monson, Carol McConkie, and Robert D. Hales. For some strange reason, I was moved to mention General Conference to my friend. I had no idea where he had been, in the way of faith or church, but I began to talk, nonetheless.
I told him what I had seen last night about Prayer, and Community, Service, and Discipleship. He Listened, then offered that he was indeed Investigating.
We had an entire conversation about faith from the L.D.S perspective. A few minutes later, we were sitting there talking, and my phone rang, and it was the Young Elder, who was new to Montreal, calling to say hello and to arrange a meeting with his new companion next week.
Is that ODD or is that GOD ???
I had a thought, I acted on that thought, that led to a familiar conversation, which then was cranked up a notch with a phone call out of the blue, from the last person, I thought would have called me at that very moment.
Tonight, Bill spoke to us, about Higher Power, as We Understand Him. In this reading he talks about the many ways you can find your way, into the program, with very little faith:
“They just don’t realize that faith is never an imperative for A.A. membership; that sobriety can be achieved with an easily acceptable minimum of it, and that our concept of a a Higher Power and God – as we understand Him – afford everyone a nearly unlimited choice of spiritual belief and action.”
This subject is treated in many different ways in A.B.S.I.
In a later writing in the book, Bill comments:
“It does not matter what you choose to believe in, whatever will work for you.” At the end of the page he throws a wrench into the mix by then offering this nugget:
“That in the end, it always comes back round to God.”
Tonight, many of us who have been sitting in that room for years and years have seen people come in, sit down, say NO and Go. They come in, sit down, say NO and Go.
I’ve said it before that God, this three letter word, is the MAJOR stumbling block that prevents MANY people from getting sober. No matter how we couch, frame or talk about the “multitude of choices” one has to believe.
The numbers of people who have come, gone, drank and used again, never came back, or ended up DEAD are very high.
It Boggles the mind to ponder how many people we have seen come and go over the last three years.
They say that words are difficult in the beginning. But we all also agree, that the first simple action we take, leads to more simple actions, which lead to feeling better, which leads to sobriety.
If you cannot pray, to begin with, then say anything. You don’t need rote prayers or words you don’t identify with, and speak them to a God, you may not necessarily believe in, YET …
I have atheist friends who are sober today. And they do just fine.
We all agree that action makes the world go round.
- Making Coffee
- Setting up chairs and tables
- Greeting the Newcomer
- Step Work
- Reading the Big Book
- Thanking the Chair
- Participating in Fellowship
Simple steps of action, that done, over and over, DO LEAD SOMEWHERE.
It is not your word that matters, it is WHAT YOU DO that matters.
When you don’t have words, then do the next right thing. Over and Over again.
This is a program of action. We all agree on that. Once you begin to DO and to ACT, the rest falls in place as long as you stick around, and have an open heart.
When I leave my life open to Heavenly Father, He tends to amaze me in ways that I could not imagine.
I saw Him move in a room tonight.
In closing all I can say is this …
- I am not the center of the universe
- My world does not revolve around my navel
- I have a God of my understanding, and that is great, as long as I remember that
- I am NOT HE ….
There are but two sins … The Lesser, is to get in the way of our own spiritual path. The Greater, is to get in the way of someone else’s spiritual path.
I see humility for today as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values.
The reading tonight touches on Arrogance, Attitude and Humility.
Which leads back to yesterdays quote:
I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !
The Fellowship, early on, was a sordid affair. And thinking about it logically, the Big Book was written towards a certain segment of the population. And in the early years, the Fellowship grew out of trials and errors.
They really did not have a leg to stand on, when it came to knowledge or certainty.
This reading talks about some, early on, who believed they had the “Real A.A.” And that they had a definitive answer to the problem of the drink, and only they could impart this message and that, from the reading, “You better get it…”
A very arrogant approach, don’t you think ?
This reading is dates 1961. The Fellowship came together in 1939. That is only 22 years from inception, to the point Bill wrote this passage for the Grapevine. I imagine that Bill probably mulled over what he was either hearing himself, or from others, who came in contact with the men, whom this reading, refers to.
I don’t know, in my life today, WHO has the definitive answer to recovery. Because I know, for myself, that there are old timers with TIME, but they surely are not sober. There are men and women I respect, who have some time.
All I know is this … Every so often I am introduced to someone who has a method, or a practice, or a way, they work their program. Over the past four or so years, I’ve employed several practices and methods that I know worked for the men and women, I have adopted these practices from.
None of them, we could say are the End All Be All. They are merely, additions to practice and method, to incorporate, along with the Book.
Working with others, is a great way to find out for ones self, that:
No, I don’t know, but I am trying to find out. OK !
I don’t have all the answers, which is why I go to meetings and talk with people I respect, who have a little more experience than I do. We are all souls walking in the same direction, trying to figure it out ourselves.
There is no ultimate authority, except the God of our understanding as He speaks in our Group Conscience.
I know what size my pants are. And I know how big, my head can get if I am not careful.
Keeping it simple and staying out of my head is a daily task.
If either my pants or my head swell to greatly, then I know:
I must decrease so that He may increase.
In business, like in life, or in love, we may come to a crossroads, where a major decision has to be made. It is called a PIVOT. And listening to The Art of Charm today, we heard from Jenny Blake.
“Get Unstuck – How to Separate Difficult Decisions From Difficult Conversations.”
- Make your decision based on gut instincts
- How to express your decision in words clearly and directly
- Deciding WHEN to have that discussion
- Communicating that Decision
- Responding to reactions and any ensuing consequences and follow up
There have been many serious pivots in my life, thus far. The last great pivot took place when I decided to move to Canada, and to Montreal. It was a gut decision, based on spiritual faith. I was sober.
Since that time, I have been sitting in a safe harbor. And people around me are in one place in their lives and sobriety, and I am where I am right now as well. No two people, are ever at the same place together, experiencing the program together. Little by slowly, Heavenly Father is showing me where I need to go, and what does not serve me. And contrary to the opinions of some, I am headed where I need to go.
This Major Life Pivot took place when I met my Elders on that Metro Platform some time ago. That series of discussions led to my reviewing my life and major a major life decision, that is EPIC in size. This move into a faith community IS a MAJOR PIVOT.
I regret saying anything to some of my friends, because now I am seeing just who they are, based on the words they are speaking, I should not have opened my mouth, but it is what it is.
Heavenly Father, in His wisdom is pivoting me away from people, places and things that no longer serve me. And I have a community of Elders both Men and Women who are taking out specific community farther along, each of our respective paths.
I know who I can trust, and who I cannot.
Monday is Family and Friends fellowship at the church. We meet each week for a teaching video from an Elder of the Church. This week we heard from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.
You can find him on the General Conference Page on the LDS.ORG website
He spoke on the story about the ugly duckling. And spoke to the effect that we are all Children of God, and when we look in the mirror, we will see exactly who we are. We are Children of a Loving Heavenly Father.
We had a room full of Elder young men and women tonight, who all come from different parts of the world, speaking a multitude of languages, but together we shared, in a common language. After the teaching and share, we play a game.
Tonight we played Le Citoyen … The Citizen.
We had about a dozen people, each were given an identity:
- Werewolf’s ( there were three )
- A witch
- A Fortune Teller
- and A Mayor
It is a close your eyes, open your eyes game, led by a narrator who tells a story involving the people sitting in the circle. Nobody knows whom is whom, except for the narrator who leads the game. And it is a kill the werewolf’s and save the citizens.
The witch can either kill or save someone who is killed by a werewolf. Th Fortune Teller is given information he might need from the narrator to save the community. The hunters are trying to figure out, as the game progresses who the werewolf’s are so they can kill them, before the werewolf’s kill them and the citizens.
It was a good game. I won round two.
All is well. Tomorrow is another day.