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.
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.
It was a full and beautiful day. And Now I Know …
After a year of searching, talking and listening, Now I Know, what it is I am supposed to be doing. Now I know, what brings me joy. Now I know, who I need to be with.
Now I know, that friends I am connected to, friends I have known for a long time, that I never really connected to intimately, like those that I HAD been intimately connected to, have come to the fore.
There are friends and fellows, searching for connections and solutions. And over the past week or so, new connections have been forged. And working with others has come in small and simple ways.
They say … “IF you build it, they will COME.”
A Booking (read: Big Booking) series that began last Summer 2016, with Joe from New York City, with a small intrepid group of First Gen students, worked the 12 week program. We then endeavored to find other like minded folks on both the French side and the English side.
At that time, we hosted an Open House for the French side, and 50 women showed up and a handful of men. We opened a dedicated meeting serving the French side, to sister up with the Sunday evening meeting on the English side, doing the same format.
Big Book in both French and in English.
That 50 plus group of men and women were partnered with men and women, on both sides, and over the calendar year, all those men and women, went through the Book.
Now, all those men and women are taking another generation through The Book themselves. And the 2017 campaign has opened. The initial Gen Booker’s from last Summer, are beginning a new Summer session with another Gen of men and women.
I begin my next Gen Booking myself in August, for the second time.
On Sunday last, a young man who has been showing up on Sunday’s came and asked me if he could do the Booking himself. Today, we sat for our first Booking Session, that will run 12 weeks.
Tonight, at the regular Thursday meeting, a very good friend spoke. The same man, who, when I spoke a few weeks ago, did the Thanking.
Before the meeting I sat and listened to a Fifth Step from one of my men.
Then at the meeting, I heard my friend speak. He hit many salient points that I had spoken earlier in the evening. My friend has spirit, and he has God, and He lives in the solution, every day.
And as I sat there listening, I said to myself, Now I know.
I know my message. I know my experience. And I said to my friend afterwards that, I should have known better, when I got up there and made a fool out of myself.
Now I know, what I should have said. But like a good alcoholic, breaking the rules about intention, I had to have a fucking script, thinking that I needed to tell a specific story, for whatever fucked up reason I had.
When I should have really spoken the message that was supposed to be spoken and wasn’t, and listening to my friend talk tonight, I Got The Message.
I’ve spoken my displeasure. I’ve spoken my words. And I’ve said to those who needed to hear it, “I Don’t Give a Fuck anymore…so Fuck It.”
I’ve had spiritual teaching from my Elder friend Spencer. Who is a very bright light, whom, it seems, God smiles upon, every day.
I have faith. I have God. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and wants the best for me, and so I am surrounding myself with really good people.
Now I Know.
I know what I want to do, and why. Every day I am presented with choices of what I AM going to allow in, and what I am NOT. Every day I am presented a choice of what I want to do. How to Pray, and what I am going to engage with.
I don’t have to engage in thinking, and acting like a miserable dry drunk.
God has been very gentle with me. And gives me that persistent PUSH in the right direction, because I hear it in my heart, and the prompts come, and have been coming far more often, maybe because I am paying attention to that Still Small Voice Within.
Tonight Elder Spencer said to me that, “if he had the chance to go back to the beginning of his mission, with what He Knows Now, he would do it in a New York Minute.
His younger sister is just a few weeks into her two year mission in Montana. And a brand new crop of young Elders and Sisters are engaged at the M.T.C. Elder Spencer is right back at the beginning of a new mission, sharing stories about His mission, with a new crop of missionaries.
Indeed, he spoke his intention to return, so God has brought him full circle to return to the beginning of a mission for a group of young men and women, with ALL of the wisdom he learned on his mission here in Montreal, that ended last Fall.
When Elder Spencer went home, I gave him homework. Home work to record the wisdom he learned here, on paper. Which he did gladly.
And that homework led him to this new job. One he had not anticipated when he got home and finished his first semester at B.Y.U.
Successfully I might add.
Now he has come full circle. And I reminded him of this blessing that he intention ed himself. We both believe that when we met and through today, that there were too many coincidences between us, that were confirmed spiritually before our eyes.
And we both acknowledge that there are No Coincidences. Only God.
I feel renewed with a new solution, based in Love and God and the Book and Prayer.
It is all about the Daily Surrender and the Quality of that Surrender.
The work is there to be done. And Now I Know…
NOW I KNOW …
So you went back out, and you either DRANK or USED or BOTH.
What happens now ?
What happens with all that time you banked, before you walked out the door ?
Do you loose that time, or does that time still matter ?
There are two schools of thought on these questions. I’ve heard them discussed over the years, but in recent years, I’ve heard no mention of the options in open community.
Option #1: Time on the Continuum exists and is still in motion, your slip is but a blip on the time line, so keep moving forwards.
Option #2: You HAD time, but you slipped, your continuum has stopped running, NOW you go to the BACK of the line and start over.
This came up today while talking to my best friend.
I’ve mentioned over the past few months, the number of friends I have who decided against better advice, to go back out and drink and use.
Here, in Montreal, my “Core Group” is trying to figure out how to help our friends, and get them back on the horse and reconnected.
We decided, as a group, to give keys, jobs and responsibilities to those who need to reconnect. Service will keep you sober, because you become accountable. Turning, back benchers and slippers into Service Hounds is what we have decided to do.
Will it work ? That is yet to be seen.
When I accrued my four years and had orchestrated my slip, I really had nothing to return to, as in accrued sober knowledge and time. I was too busy trying to survive.
That was the greater challenge, even if I took that life for granted, and pissed away that time endangering my life with more drugs and more alcohol.
I have a friend, one of our men, who went out at almost the four year mark. He was good, and stable. In the end, he fucked off, and isolated, and that black hole swallowed him whole.
My friend speaks of it this way … “He needs to practice his Emergency Exit Plan.”
Everyone needs an Emergency Exit Plan …
Everybody, no matter how long you are Clean and Sober.
You need to put your oxygen mask on FIRST, before you can help someone else !!!
Had he done that, he could have avoided using again.
I’ve learned in sobriety that in certain cases, I must be liberal in my approach to my friends and fellows.
My friend, returned with three years banked in the hopper.
Does he go back to the end of the line, or does he just keep going ?
He has ALL that TIME, in history, knowledge and sobriety.
He knows what to do, it isn’t like he forgot.
Pushing him to the back of the line, is detrimental, I believe to his well being.
The time one spends on a slip has to be calculated on where you land when you return.
If you have some serious time banked, and your slip is brief, (sometimes that can also be disastrous) You need to figure out where you are in your head and in your life.
The worse the slip, the harder the climb back into life.
Some people don’t make it back. They resign themselves to sobriety loss, and decide to just pack it in. They might be in a meeting, but they have disconnected.
Time has no meaning for them any more.
What does my friend do ? Well, right now he is doing service and he’s pounding his meetings. He feels shame and fear because of what he did to himself, and now what came of his actions upon those he worked with and friends he has known.
We know he is his own worst critic.
My friend and I talked about the TWO OPTIONS plans.
We agree that Option #1 – works for him.
He needs to get back on the horse. Yes he is marking new time, but with years of sober time banked behind him. So he has all that experience to work with, in figuring out what he wants to do now.
There are those who come back, and they reconnect, but they need to re-engage with The Book, The Steps and Meetings. (also contingent on how long they were absent).
We need to provide for everybody ALL the TOOLS they need to recover.
We are human, and we need to be reminded that (If we had time) that time still exists, on the continuum. You just don’t STOP living, because you slipped.
So let’s give you tools and trades to get back into the game as quick as possible, so that this time, you STICK and STAY.
We don’t need to punish people by telling them to go to the back of the line, now you start over in sobriety, that none of your past time matters …
That is NOT true.
All time matters. It matters by the strength of that banked time.
In my case, my past time was pretty non-existent. What I got the second time around mattered more now, than it did the first time around. The messaging was off, I wasn’t in the book, I wasn’t connected to a sponsor and I was my own worst enemy.
So the second time I DID start over from scratch.
Because I had nothing to bank on …
What if YOU have TIME to bank ON ? And you SLIP ?
Would you rather get back on the horse and pick up where you left off, or would you like to go back to square one, and start over, as if your past banked time, did not exist in the first place ? Or that your past time did not matter ?
The choice is yours.
This One Tragic Event, turned my life and my sobriety upside down. And began a Year of wandering meetings, looking for God, Seeking help for myself, that did not come as it was needed, when it was needed. I walked this road alone, save for Elder Christensen who was a balm to my soul when I most needed God.
I learned that some things in sobriety have to be experienced, felt and spoken about, even if people didn’t listen to me. Or want to listen to me. Sobriety gave me a challenge and I walked through it, the best way I knew how. I did not drink over it either.
Which was One Serious Blessing.
I’ve not be shaken to my core like this in recent memory. In the end, I grew from this, in locating my grief and experiencing the pain that rocked me to my inner core.
I remember those young people, taken too soon, from lives that were yet to be lived. I mourn for their families who will gather tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with them every day that I walk this earth.
I have not Forgotten. And I will Never Forget Them.
Tragedy of the Heart – Revisited
Last night around 3 a.m. I saw the first report of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and my heart sank. Why did he choose that club and not another, (The Parliament House) which would have been at max capacity at that hour as well, and then I was relieved that he did not choose that site as his first hit, because he would have hit my home, or, that place I called home for so long.
I chose to move to Orlando because I thought that that was a safe place to be Gay. That was where my journey of becoming a citizen of the gay community was to begin. So I moved there. I became part of a vibrant community of people I loved and respected. People who would shape the life I have today in ways I could never imagine.
Tragedy in other places, is not like a tragedy that hits at your home. Tragedy by extension and degrees of separation have less intensity when they are far removed, or far away. Last night’s tragedy hit me right in the chest. My heart broke to think that my brothers and sisters of life were targeted by a crazed gunman who wanted to kill homosexuals. Hate crime or religious ideology? That question is still unanswered.
In any case, I can imagine what that loss feels like having spent so much time IN that community for so long. I have a long and devastating relationship with death and tragedy. I lived through some of the darkest times in Gay history. And now another story of tragedy has been written.
Families lost loved ones, friends have lost friends, the community at large has lost souls to senseless violence, and the relative safety of a city that welcomed and cared for their own, is no more.
There are no guarantees of safety and freedom anymore. I look back at life some twenty or more years, and I know what relative safety felt like, to not have to fear going out to a public place and having to worry about some crazed human being stalking us like animals on a safari hunt.
Guns are too easily sought and bought. The availability of these firearms undermines the safety of every human being where ever you are. That is more so in the United States. Canada has its gun issues, but as long as I have lived here, I have never felt threatened to go out in public for fear of my life.
Every day, the fear of being killed is a new set of skills for the human being. This insidious fear has been forced upon us by those who would seek to kill us for a myriad of reasons, and nobody is safe, it seems, any longer. Relative safety is a thing of the past now.
I’ve been watching these mass killings day after day and it saddens me to no end. And now, with this latest tragedy, I am forced to speak these words in testimony to my brothers and sisters that lost their lives so tragically last night. I can do that because for a few years, I was one of those brothers and sisters.
I cannot tell you how this tragedy makes me feel. When religious ideology kills indiscriminately, my first reaction is “An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If ideological killers kill to prove a point, killing humans in inhumane ways, the rage in me reacts first. All sense of Christian values leaves me.
It is reported that the gunman pledged his loyalty to Isis, which makes him an ideological killer, there is no forgiveness for those who kill senselessly because of ideology. I make no excuses for them, and I wish them direct judgment and death. It is all well and good that this gunman is dead. Because he killed his fellow humans in cold blood for reasons we still do not know, and there is no forgiveness for a human like that. Even though I know when that man made it to where ever he ended up, I was taught that whatever God there is, forgiveness will follow, even if I cannot.
There are no words I can say right now, that haven’t already been said by those who have been in the loop since last night. My heart is broken in this senseless loss of life. All I can do is say a prayer for those departed and for those who are left to pick up the pieces.
The Orlando Gay Community is family, they will survive this, in time. Phillip De Franco said this yesterday, “There is no silver lining to this story, no good ending, for now the pain is acute and one day this pain will recede and the intense feeling won’t go away, but will be less, but not forgotten.”
I stand with my brothers and sisters tonight in solidarity and hope.
I wish I could go back and be of some comfort, but that is not an option, so all I have is this place to tell you how hard this hit me and why, and to allow myself to feel this tragedy because it hits me right in my heart of hearts.
Eternal rest grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.
It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Much warmer than it was yesterday, and we will take any day full of sun, as we can get. It might be the second week of June, but before we know it, it will be the beginning of September, and Summer will all but be gone.
For the past few months, I have witnessed new members coming to our rooms, that we have not seen, at all, in the past. Montreal’s Jewish community is legendary. When I got sober, this time around, it was the Jewish Chabad community, who took me in and cared for me when I needed it most.
Whenever I am able, I give back, until I am empty.
It seems, as of late that, we are serving the Hasidim community on a much more personal level. I’ve been listening to our men talk, about their struggles, their families and their troubles with addiction.
Addiction knows no barrier when it comes to the who and the why. Everyone is fair game. With communities that are insulated, they usually deal with daily problems, “in house, among themselves.”
Montreal is a city that is based in communal living. With many religious and ethnic communities existing side by side. But again, there are certain conversations that are only dealt with, inside the sacred circle of that respective community.
For a handful of men, they have left the security of their communities, and they have found their way into our rooms. And I have been paying attention to them, personally.
Today we read from the book, and the chapter: The Perpetual Quest.
It is a story about a woman, who reaches her bottom, and finds her way to the rooms, in her city. The portion of the read I focused on was the last three pages of the story, where she hears just what she needs to do to stay sober.
I chose the reading, because, if we could cut, copy and paste this portion of the story, and hand this document out to newcomers or, more to the point, to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, we would have our work done for us, in one swing.
Many people talk about the suggestions.
Service, Meetings, Big Books, Steps and Sponsors.
Everybody hears the same message, from the get go. Many of us would rather eat dirt, than follow a simple suggestion.
This problem exists everywhere. There is a lot of anger being spoken about. Yet, we come to meetings, anyways. Because we are told that if we show up, the rest will fall into place.
Getting sober is just the tip of the iceberg for many members and my friends. Many people come with multiple problems, and are cross addicted, or have more than, “just a drinking problem.” And I heard those words spoken again tonight.
Our new men, who come from their respective communities have said to us that they deal with more than just drinking. And people across the board, beg the question, “what do I do with the twenty four hours, each day?”
One answer I heard tonight was, “well, as long as you are sitting in a meeting, you can knock that hour off the time line.” And “the more meetings you fit into your weekly schedule, the less time you have to spend in your head.”
When we come into sobriety from whatever addiction we inhabit, we begin to cleanse the temple of our bodies, that God has given us.
I was not sure how to approach this topic with our men, I just spent the last hour with my Elder friend Spencer and he gave me some sound advice, at how to bridge faiths.
Now I have an idea of what I need to do. God brings certain people and problems into our lives for a specific reason. We either know what to do, or, we know other people, who might know what to do, or we ourselves learn what it is we need to know, in order to serve the greater good.
I have faith. I have the book. I have my knowledge. And I have God, in my pocket.
If some have left the security of insulation, searching for a solution they need, because they have suffered and have transgressed their scriptures and proscriptions and doctrines and covenants of Judaism, they have come to places that I exist in.
I have a desire to help them, and tonight, I was taught, what it was that I did have, by someone I respect fully, and now from him, I know what I can do, with the tools God has already given me.
There is a three fold recipe that is necessary for transmission:
- One, you need a Human Being
- Two, you need the Book
- Three, you need a problem that you can give context to, teaching wise
If you have these three dynamic pieces, miracles happen.
Spencer was at the MTC this week, and he met a young missionary.
While Spencer was here, in Montreal, he worked in Cornwall, a few hours drive from Montreal. While there he ministered to our young man’s grandfather, who was, later, baptized in the church.
His grandson, our young Elder in training, there in Utah, had met Spencer here, while on his mission. It was a Miracle Full Circle moment for him. Because our young man said to him, weren’t you in Canada, that answer was yes. Weren’t you in Cornwall, that answer was also yes, he put the pieces together that before our young man was called to his mission, he met Elder Spencer here in Canada, during His mission.
How often do you see someone in a foreign country, and meet them and share time with, and then find out that they are right in your own back yard, preparing to go on their very own mission ???
That is a miracle for sure.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.
It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.
I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.
A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.
Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …
Service will keep you sober.
The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.
I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.
It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.
Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.
The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.
Read This Book …
This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.
The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.
How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%
I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.
With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.
Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.
I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.
We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.
If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.
Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.
That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.
We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.
I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …
So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.
That was a particularly good God Moment.
When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.
The rest you can say is history.
Because I am right here, right now.
And We did not drink today.
And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.
It was a good thing …
Today was a beautiful day. The shift in my life continues. If you are not growing while you are getting sober, then, you are wasting valuable time.
I got a major clothes haul in the mail, a few more pieces for my sporty wardrobe. There is a major piece on its way right now.
I did my chores and my grocery shop, and had the rest of the day to fart around, and get a power nap in, before I had to go. One of my lady friends, lined up my speaker for the evening. And she is a critical woman in my life.
My friend took her lumps early on in her sober journey. After a crash and burn, and the loss of everything good in her life, a husband, children, family, and friends, she ended up in the familiar “Spa Rehab” that many of our women characterize their rehab experiences as.
That is a common theme with some of our gals. We all know what that Spa is …
She came out of rehab and landed back here in Montreal. That was just the beginning of shit that happened to her. Not long after, doctors told her that she was going to die, because she trashed her liver.
Thankfully, because she was sober, she got on a transplant list. Cue the Hurry Up and Wait period of time. In that time, she was very sick and on the edge of death. By God’s Grace, a donor was found. We hauled her off to the hospital and sat with her from start to finish.
I can report that my friend is indeed, Alive and Well.
I had not seen her since I began this trek with my personal well-being. And like most of my friends, she was flabbergasted with how good I looked. She said to me, that I looked really well, and add to that, she noticed that my entire “being” had changed. She commented that “the energy I was giving off was the biggest change.”
Both of us have experience in recovery and rehab. We are both schooled in nutrition and both of us are on the “real food diet.” We compared notes together and found that we were on the same page mentally, emotionally and physically.
Sometimes listening to our friends talk from the chair, is just what the doctor ordered.
Sobriety brings many gifts to us. But they only come when we are ready to receive them. One thing she focused on was her belief that what we send out to the universe, comes back to us, from the direction we sent it out.
Over time, we learn that sending out negativity and sorrow, turns into positivity and happiness. Because a little bit of the universe, is inside of us, and a lot of the universe lies UP THERE, in the firmament, we are connected, every second, to all that is …
The universe is always there, paying attention to our progress. My friend is a prime example of what is possible when you get well. We take care of the insides, and over time, the outsides begin to match us pound for pound.
We only want good things to come to us, so together, like many others in our lives, we send goodness out, and in time goodness returns.
Another thought was this …
Once we get sober and we begin to honor our bodies, soberly, we must turn inwards and honor our spirits and our well-being. Over time, the Inside Job, turns into an all out Outside Job.
90% of feeling good is looking good.
Me No Frumpy Man …
Everybody has noticed. And it looks really good on me. People are amazed at the positive progression that I have been on. And my lady friend is right up there with me.
People who face serious adversity, and some, even death, we see life in a way that most don’t. Because if you survive a trip into mortal territory, and you survive, one never takes for granted the life we have been spared.
All of my friends – a good number of them – have faced medical challenges over the last year, and on certain nights, we get to sit in the same room together and share experience, strength and hope.
Life is good. Everybody is well. And we are all sober.
Claim your life, Honor your spirit, and be Good to Others.
The Universe is paying attention.
We are all very thankful that we did not drink today.
One little drink, would really fuck up a good thing.
Which is why we go to meetings.
Today, I spoke a second time, I got to finish what I had begun a couple of weeks ago, when I spoke for the first time in years. Tonight, I spoke about God. And I was on fire. It went very well. Our Second Speaker knocked it out of the park. She was just amazing. I was so moved, the story was beautiful. I may get her to speak for me later on.
A thought that came to me as I meditated on my talk, last night before bed, came in a whisper. In order to find God, one must begin with Gratitude.
We are given the authority to label things. Then we live with the consequences.
As I sat in a building purpose built for worship, I watched as at least a hundred people walked in, crossed them selves, knelt, and labelled that space as sacred. The same naming has been done by thousands of people for decades in that place. The walls are painted and named on behalf of certain stories and blessings. And daily prayers and rituals are done in that space bringing even more purpose filled direction to that specific space.
It finally clicked. After watching my catholic housemates do things that my ex-evangelical mind didn’t understand for a few months, it finally clicked.
We label things, and that labelling holds with it such power.
Every time I walk into a Catholic church, I am filled with awe. A deep respect. Even if I don’t agree with every conclusion made about the physical building. There is still honour and awe enough in me that I take off my hat, and I walk around quietly.
I grew up in a church that was a white shoe box. No decoration. No labelling. No awe inspiring. Just dirty carpet, weird smells, and white walls. But there was always something special when a bunch of us would gather. We would gather around a campfire and sing into the night. We would gather on a soccer pitch and compete. We would gather to go on a road trip. And thats where our labelling was held. Not a building. But a gathering point.
So as we gathered for pentecost, we combined the two. This physical location that had been drenched in prayer and labelling and a gathering of a community. One that loved each other and celebrated a time that the spirit was first liberally poured out on the people of God. And the spirit fell again. I have journaled that much in a long time. I haven’t felt joyous shivers down my spine whilst songs I didn’t understand were sung around me for months or more. Tangible yet spiritual God, met spiritual yet physical humanity, and we celebrated the union.
Fast forward to this morning. A week ago I had finished reading a history of the orthodox church. And I wanted to see what I had read in action. So I figured out a place and a time. 8am, old town. And got there on time. I waited for an old lady to walk in, and following her I found myself in an almost empty giant church. I found a seat (not normal in orthodoxy, everyone stands) and got my journal out. A man started singing, occasionally responded to by another man behind a door. And after awhile a group of women started singing to. It was heavenly. It smelled awesome. And although there was only 5 people there, once again, this space had been labelled a place of worship. Of community. Of meaning. Once again I journaled like crazy, and then moved on to a second orthodox church. Smaller. More intimate. But just as beautiful.
We live in houses that get labelled “home”. We are educated in the halls of schools that are sometimes labelled as safe spaces, but are more likely places of tumult. And ultimately we are all apart of nation states that have labelled out populace, our neighbours and our history, one way or another.
And after a year and a half in a country not my own, watching my own from a far. I have this deep desire to walk nations through a process of conviction. We parts of our history we need to deal with. And what parts of our future we need to dream about and work towards.
I want to paint this world with life, because death sucks. And a life paint for ALL, not just an elite few. And i feel like God calls us to label sacred spaces, to connect with Him, but also to become sacred spaces that walk this earth, connecting with others so that God can work through our sacred spaces in his redemption plan for eternity.
Be a sacred space. Clean house.
Our sobriety is in our hands. I am personally responsible for my sobriety. If I want to be sober, then I have to do the work. That’s all there is to it, really. I’m not going to get sober, sitting at home isolating, or sitting in a meeting and not engaging.
There is only a short amount of time for you to just WARM a chair. At some point you are going to have to engage, or go back out and DRINK. Who wants that for themselves ?
There are some who still do that, to this very day.
If you want sobriety, then you are going to have to work for it. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. And I am putting a lot into me right now. It’s coming fast and furiously.
If someone gives me suggestions, I should really DO THEM. If you ARE NOT doing service SOMEWHERE at least one night of the week, what the FUCK are you going to meetings for ? Really !!!
I tell my friends to do service, or to call a friend and connect, and they look at me like I am from MARS or something, or that I must be CRAZY.
Oh, for the Love of God ….
I am still processing all the pieces of advice I have heard from friends and fellows. I’ve been to a few meetings. Tonight, I saw my sponsor and HIS sponsor. I spoke to another friend who is LONG sober, and understood where I am in my head.
- I have been through the Angry Period
- I am sitting in my Unvarnished/Unfiltered stage
- My Sober “Give a Damn” is Broken
- Sometimes I just need to call a “Douche Bag a Douche Bag”
- I am allowing assholes and elbows to infect my serenity and sobriety
- That’s not good at all. Working on that presently !
- Heavenly Father is directing the show – there is no doubt
- My Elder Friend Spencer is in the loop
- According to the men who were in the room on Thursday, I did fine
- I was honest, I spoke what needed to be said
- Even if assholes and elbows were sitting in the room
- My Long Sober friend who “got me” said that once he was so angry from the chair that he got up and stopped talking and left the meeting, because of the same shit I was seeing from the chair the other night
- I may not have IT, but I do have a variant of IT
- I am directed to PAGE 112 in the Book – The first three words … READ THIS BOOK
- We are reading the book.
- If faced with an asshole, I should suggest page … 112
- Right now, I don’t really care if I hurt your feelings, this is where I am right now
- If I don’t know what to do, I do service, ALL the TIME
- It is HIGHLY suggested that if I give you a suggestion … LISTEN for Fuck’s Sake
Oprah on God …
Heavenly Father speaks to us. Often. However, we don’t always hear Him or get the message or the memo. In the beginning, the first time, Heavenly Father whispers, if we don’t hear it the first time, He whispers again, the second time.
If we don’t get it twice over, the third pass, is when Heavenly Father hits us in the back of the head with a 2 x 4. If we miss it the third time, the final pass is when Heavenly Father drops the wall, on top of us …
I’ve actually experienced this series of hits, I had the wall fall on me. This happened a few years ago, during my heavy growth period between twelve and fifteen.
I’m sure that some of my friends took it personally, that I said the words, “YOU are a Douche Bag,” at the Friday meeting, two weeks ago, because they are not returning my phone calls.
That’s the problem with some people. People always assume, you are talking about THEM, in a meeting, and rather than ask ME what was going on, or if I indeed was talking about them, they go silent and they avoid me like the plague. If I have something to say to you, I am going to say it to your face.
That night, I WAS talking about someone specific, which was very close to cross talking,
It is what it is …
Some of my friends ARE Douche Bags. That’s just the honest TRUTH !
My friends, my CLOSE friends, will come to me and tell me when I am being a DOUCHE BAG. Last Friday my friend Joe took me aside and sternly suggested that I change my tack, because I scared some of my friends out of the room that night.
Douche Bags … All of them.
Why do we always have to be Politically Correct, and skate over the truth, so we don’t harm someone’s tender sensibilities ???
FUCK ME ALREADY
I’m tired of SUGAR coating my WORDS and dancing on the head of a fucking PIN.
I’d rather be Imperfect and Honest, rather than be Perfect and Dishonest.
I’d rather be honest and be hated, than to always have to sprinkle sugar on my friends character defects and shortcomings, like they don’t exist.
Oh, but they say, progress not perfection, you cannot expect someone who is less sober than you, to be in the same place mentally and emotionally, where you are. People have been straight up honest with me, they never let me skate across the ice like I was a professional hockey player.
I don’t play hockey and I’ve never been to a hockey game, not once.
It’s OK for you to be an asshole and I let you slide, and if I step one step out of your comfort zone, you fucking shun me like pariah …
What the FUCK is that, really ???
I may not be very sober, at least, here I can be honest. I am doing my best.
I’m so glad that I got my “Geographic Disease of Alcoholism” under control. I just know that if I had a car, all bets would be off … Not that I’d drink again.
Heavenly Father took the car away from me for a reason when He did. If I was grounded in One Place, I might settle down and get better and stop drinking.
Which is what I did here. I landed sober, and I’ve stayed sober.
Living here is the longest period in my life that I have been settled in One Place for this long. I made the right decision.
Met a young girl from ICELAND tonight, here on vacation. I asked her, “Why would you come here of all places, if you lived in freaking ICELAND ???”
Her response … Well I live there. She wanted to see Canada for the first time.
That’s like when I lived on Miami Beach. Locals never pay attention to their surroundings, because we live there and work there for a living.
I never went to the beach, probably once or twice in the middle of the night, and not during the day. It’s funny, I worked for a bit in a friend’s tanning salon, during my final drinking period.
I was amazed at all the GYM bunnies, who would not dare go to the beach and get sand in their bathing suits. On a Friday afternoon, or all day Saturday, they would come and tan, so that they had that GLOW about them to go drinking that night.
God forbid someone actually had to do the work of taking care of one’s self naturally.
If I can drink it, bathe in it, or spray it on, all the better.
That is, if you can afford, the easier softer way …
God I love sobriety.
This entire emotional period of my life is like one HUGE rocking roller coaster.
They warned me that I would feel again. It only took fifteen year to get here. I have friends who are early on, who are also on this roller coaster themselves.
Political Correctness has gone out the window for many of us. Not sure how sober that is, by my sponsor and HIS sponsor tell me that sometimes Honesty is the best policy.
YAY for Honesty …
The Odyssey of self has returned to where it all began. It has been a long time coming, and after listening to Brene Brown talk about Vulnerability this afternoon, I got dressed and took myself back to the Sunday Evening Meeting.
Where they elected me Chair for the month of June …
My sponsor said that I needed to un-clench my fist and open my hand to God. The only place I thought that I could begin that process, was in the church I first got sober in over fifteen years ago.
The woman who led me through my booking last Summer, is important to my spiritual path, and has been for many, many years. I need her in my life, and anything that took place in the past, was amended tonight.
In sobriety, you either grow towards God, or you wilt, and drink again. I don’t want to drink again. I know who I need in my life right now, and returning to my roots, just reorients me back into spiritual truth.
“We are responsible for the energy we bring into a space…”
Urban Legend says that this thought is in Oprah’s office. Brene Brown spoke those words during the talk I heard earlier today. I was watching her talk on the Good Life Project.
We are still working on the subject of vulnerability. And I am still a work in progress.
Today the woman who led me through my booking spoke on Step 5 …
Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. It was a pertinent subject, seeing that it was in that particular church that I worked my last round of steps, and in turn, took my very first sponsee through his steps in that very same church basement.
Working your steps can be life changing, if you allow the process to work, as you are able, and to the level of honesty you employ yourself in your step work. Then turning around and booking a sponsee and seeing them through their steps is another life changing event for sure.
Only someone who has been through the process themselves, can lead another through that garden of self discovery, and be able to receive someones steps.
I walked to the church, overland and not through the tunnel because te sun was shining and I wanted to collect light form the sun, as I walked back into the church, and also, to have the right state of mind and be able to have a moment of repentance.
Elder Christiansen has been speaking to me about repentance over the past few weeks we have been talking. It is the lesson he is teaching at the Missionary Training Center in Idaho. My Elder is a wise young man with insight I appreciate greatly.
I need to feed my spirit and commune with God. The first place I learned how to do that is in the Church Basement of St. Leon’s Church. The location I first watched God move among my friends.
We are still in “New Experience Territory, and have come full circle tonight.”
We have all changed over the past nine months. New people are in the room, some old people are still in the room, new relationships have blossomed, and we are all the better for the spiritual journey we are all on.
That IS a good thing.
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 …
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…