Courtesy: Michael Shainblum Photography
There was an incredible Solar Eclipse earlier today… I slept right through it. But I have an amazing image to show you, if you missed it.
Overheard at the Meeting tonight: Imagine … How many people stopped their lives to look up at the sun, all at the same time, across the globe. What an amazing day it was.
Yesterday afternoon, Hubby was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital Emergency for an emergency operation to remove a sub-sebacious cyst on his lower spine. The operation was a success, and he was home, inside of three hours, post op.
Today was spent in follow-up doctors appointments and trips between home and the pharmacy. All is well.
This morning, well, at 6′ o clock a.m. I was up to go drop labs for my diabetes blood work, since being on Teujeo insulin now 2 months.
I got there uber early, so that I could get in and out quickly. Which is where this post will materialize. When you check in at the desk, they swipe your cards and file your work into the computer system for your bar code stickers for your vials.
I sat down with a young lady, who was going to do the deed. She asked my name and my birth date. I responded as usual, then added that I had just turned fifty a couple of weeks ago.
With a little amazement, she asked me how fifty felt ? I told her that I did not know yet, being so close to the epicenter. I furthered that explanation with what happened to me when I turned forty and beyond.
That, it was at the forty mark and beyond that point, that I began to have spiritual experiences, in the way I saw the world around me and what I actually could say, with some certainty, that I KNEW things for sure.
I was using spiritual language, like I knew what I was talking about, and the words came out so freely. She responded with …
Well, that happened to me when she turned thirty. She said …
She told me that she had heard things all her life from her parents and family and that when she hit the thirty mark, she had the same feeling of enlightenment.
For a moment I was jealous, thinking, “Shit, you mean I could have had that for me at thirty, had I been in the game of growing up when I hit thirty ???”
I did not say that, but it was what I was thinking in the moment.
I missed thirty, thirty-one until I finally hit thirty-four, when I got sober the second time and had made the decision to grow up finally. AND even then, it took a further six years of sobering up and learning what life as a grown man would look like, and how I would inhabit being a grown up man for myself.
When I turned forty and years after, if you have been following this blog all those years ago, you would have read the way my life changed in miraculous ways over the last ten years.
Last Monday we talked about resentments from the resentment section of the steps. I did not get a chance to share before the hour was up.
Tonight we read the passage in Step Nine, and the Ninth Step Promises.
“The Spiritual life is not a theory … One must LIVE a spiritual life.”
How one does that, follows the process of sobriety.
Along with the Preamble, we repeatedly hear How it Works, The Promises, and A Vision for You, over and over again.
Our chair read the Promises. And everyone in the room got to think about them, from their perspective, in their specific sober experience.
Having been sober this long, and being fifty now, I see the wisdom of the Promises as they happened for me, what order they came in, and when the final Promise we had been waiting for to come, did finally come.
“FEAR OF PEOPLE AND OF ECONOMIC INSECURITY WILL LEAVE US …”
That was the last one to come, and it only took thirteen years of waiting for it.
We just were not sitting on our asses begging God to just give that one to us.
Over the long history of our relationship, I would read a passage, hear it talked about in a discussion, and then hear a speaker talk about it in a speaker meeting.
Then God would say, “OK, Now you’ve heard all you need to know. NOW go work it out for yourself.” And so it was.
We would get a glimpse of freedom, as each day, week, month, and year that passed.
God would give us a peek, a little money, and we had to learn how to use it wisely, save it when necessary, and spend it where applicable.
Life was like that. God would give me a glimpse of what life would look like. That happened over and over again.
We certainly had our work cut out for us, on every aspect of sober life. It was not a cake walk, by any means. We learned our lessons well.
Imagine how many times you hit meetings over almost sixteen years, and hear those same readings, over and over again.
That is what is really GOOD about the BIG BOOK. Because the book tells us, right on page 112, In the chapter – To Wives … READ THIS BOOK.
If you are in step work, you would know about reading the book. Safe to say, I’ve been reading this book, over and over for more than fifteen years.
Now I am Fifty. What kind of wisdom do I have about the book today ?
I don’t know, I’d have to sit and think about this a little bit.
We shall explore this topic further in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Suffice to say, I shared a spiritual experience with a complete stranger this morning and that was a blessing for her and for me.
You never know who you will sit with on any given morning and what they might ask you.
More to come.
It has been a couple of weeks, and my strategy of keeping my friends close has sustained me, during this life transition I am in.
There are certain people in my life, that are anchors for my soul. Just seeing them come into a room is soothing. That look of hello from the crowd, as you are sitting in the chair, and it is your job to “Bring it” to the room.
Tonight was my second sitting in the chair, and both weeks, I really “Brought it.”
Last week was my favorite lady friend. Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting another anchor friend, who is part of my life. There are only two Jeremy’s on the English side of Montreal sobriety. Myself, Jeremy the Elder, and my other friend Jeremy, the younger.
It is like a Solar Eclipse when you get us both at the same meeting at the same time.
I was chairing for a lady friend of the meeting tonight, and she had lined up my friend to speak tonight. A little serendipitous meeting tonight.
I enjoy listening to my friend talk. And as I listen I am reminded just how hard we fought to get to this point, when so many of the people we knew in rehab or early sobriety, did not make it and have since died.
That is very emotional for all of us.
I am also reminded, watching some of the folks I know, just have no desire to know me beyond saying hello before a meeting. Since my life event, I have changed my tack, so to speak. I’m concentrated on some young people, who need a little hope, and are willing, at this point, to get their hands dirty, ala Service and Reading.
It is Thursday, and after my Thursday meeting, I get to sit with a very close friend who is part of my life. And I am eternally grateful for his presence in my life. He gives me food for thought, and each week, I give him a faith challenge to go study, and I get his weekly bible studies, then I get his weekly lesson from the Book of Mormon.
Life could not be better right now. People I have not seen in some time, have been showing up at the other meetings I go to, which is nice. It is also good that I have changed in so many ways, emotionally and physically, and people are noticing.
I guess I am doing all the right things for now.
Time is of the essence, and if people don’t want what you are selling, then you find those who want to buy, and or, listen to what you have to say.
Sixteen is a very round number of time. Lots of wisdom to share. It is knowing who, really wants what you have and who doesn’t.
And not waste your time with people who don’t want what you have.
More to come.
There may come a time, in your life, in your Sober Life, that you reach a tipping point. A moment of Do or Die, or more aptly, Do or Drink … A moment where the resentments of the past, are about to rush over you like a BIG wave on the beach.
That time may come for you, as it came to me, not so long ago.
Tonight we read the Resentment Passage from the Big Book, as it tells us that:
Resentment is the number ONE offender, and if not dealt with accordingly, We Will Drink Again…
For many years, when I worked my steps, I had resentments that ended up on the Never list for my Step Nine Amends. That anger of my idealistic melancholic hopes that “The Past could have been any different, thereby giving me the end I wanted, instead of the end that I got.
There was not ONE sober member, when it was needed so badly, not one member who gave me a solution to my anger. Oh, they recognized my anger, then told me to go, and deal with that on my own, leaving me to my own devices.
My solution, the Very Spiritual Solution came from my spiritual advisers.
The format of the inventory I needed to work came from them, and them alone.
I learned to Pray a Forgiveness Prayer, for those who had harmed me so badly. Praying to forgive them of pain, knowing that my prayer was not one of absolution, but in the end, of Release.
There may come a time when resentments that end up on your amends list, that fall in the Never Column. There are three columns. Now, Later, and Never.
For the whole of my sobriety I sat on anger and fear. I sat in sick anger that invaded my spirit, and as the book tells us, that sickness, keeping us from the Sunlight of the Spirit.
I heard it said tonight, that when we are in that place, we are walking around the world, with an open umbrella, shading ourselves from the Sunlight of the Spirit, intentionally.
We have to let go the expectation that the Past could have been any Different.
The example I was given, was Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. After the war, that she survived, she later met a man who stopped her on the street in Berlin.
He said Corrie, Don’t you know who I am ? Yes, she did. Before her stood one of the guards that killed her family, in front of her, and terrorized her in the camps.
He asked her for forgiveness … And on that pass, she said Absolutely Not.
In time, she came to the Spiritual Battle Ground, where she learned about Faith, God, The Cross of Crucifixion, Jesus, and of Forgiveness.
She found forgiveness for that man.
When her story came to me, via my spiritual director, my very banal resentments and anger, paled in comparison to this very tragic story of suffering and death. I thought out loud that I could not compare my pain, to that pain of someone who survived the death camps.
I had to let go my pie in the sky expectations of the past, and get to the forgiveness prayer, for me, for them, to be free, finally, once in for all. Because I needed to move on with my life, and I truly needed to shut the door on this past story, forever.
I came to this point. I had a spiritual solution that worked.
I came to know that in the end, I COULD LET GO that old story and never have to tell it again, so long as I live…
I am Free …
We are imperfect humans, and as soon as we recognize that, within the frame work of the Spirituality of Imperfection, and we make that crucial decision to LIVE in the Spiritual Solution, we begin to live Freely, Humbly with Gratitude and Love.
The Solution to Sober Problems can be found in Spiritual Principles.
The Spirituality of Imperfection is a good place to start.
What a day, what a week, what a life …
After two months of scheduling, one of my most favorite people, well, one of my most favorite young women, spoke for me tonight.
She Is Joy Overload !!!
A while back, my best friend turned me on to a book. The Spirituality of Imperfection, Storytelling and the Search for Meaning, by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham.
HE had read the book, previously, because a friend gifted him the book at a meeting some years ago. So, He read the book, and then gave said book to me. I read, said book, and while reading the book, time and time again, I saw my best friend within the read.
Meaning: He had learned, and then employed certain Spiritual Principles. Every time I hit a topic that he had learned, then employed, I noted it in the margin. I was totally impressed by the way he had learned and how he used what he learned with ME.
Now, my best friend, another one of my guys, and His Girlfriend, née fiancée, have read the book too. The book has made the rounds of people, in the rooms. I have certain friends, who have had a hard time with sobriety. I bought them a copy of the book, and asked them to read it, to maybe get a handle on simple spirituality, based on the premise that we are all that we are.
That we are NOT one or the other, or a This or a That.
That we are human, and imperfect and that to embrace our humanity to embrace ALL that we are, warts and all, in a tremulous balance of Love, God and Spirituality, there can be a beginning.
Our Imperfect-ness …
There are people, FEW, people I know, who haven’t necessarily read this book, but in knowing them, this far, in my journey, THEY live and inhabit spiritual principles. I can hear it in the way they speak, in the way they work with others, and if you listen closely, you too will hear it as well.
Back in June, I had spoken at the Thursday meeting, and that was a BIG shit show. The following Tuesday, I spoke at an evening meeting, talking about Step 11. Prayer and Meditation and God. Yes, I know this topic very well, and I can talk about it till the cows come home.
I was the opening act for my very favorite woman, Miss. Joy Overload.
When she finished speaking that night, I felt something I had never realized before. I had a feeling of spiritual truth, of honesty and of spiritual principles. WHY ???
Because I had read this little Tome of a book, and I was listening with not only my mind, or my ears, I was listening to her with my heart and soul. I had learned this by reading the book. I have accepted certain spiritual axioms into my practice, therefore giving me the ability to “Experience.”
Experience is everything.
Spirituality is not a Sunday morning event. Spirituality is not a once a day prayer, or a once a night prayer. Spirituality is something that we LIVE, every day, every hour, every minute.
Spirituality is something we learn to LIVE. Every Day … Every Hour.
At this stage in my game, I’ve learned this way of life. I know what it looks like, and what it feels like. To walk near God. To live near God. To stay “On The Beam” for more of my day, than being “Off The Beam.”
The more we move Towards God, the better our life can be. Because when me move towards God, life tends to take a more spiritual tack. Learning this principle took a very long time for me.
For most of my life, in the In Between times, I thought I had to live life according to the worlds specifications. When I got sober the second time, I turned my will and my life over to the care of God as I understood Him, at that time in my life.
I’ve spent the better part of fifteen years perfecting my connection to the God of my understanding, by learning and inhabiting spiritual principles.
This did not come overnight, by any means.
Spiritual practice is like sobriety. You have to practice every day.
We need each other. We need each other’s stories. We need community, and the care, love and support it provides.
Together, we need to Remember, Together.
It is not good for man or woman to be alone. And we know, as my friend spoke words tonight, that together, we can do many things. And you know the axiom of “When two people get together, there I AM in their midst.”
When two drunks get together, there God is …
There is something to be said about the power the fellowship has to help each other heal those areas of life that need to be forgiven and healed. And the book does say, and we say as well, “That eventually, in a meeting, now or later, you will hear another human tell your story. The book goes on to say that “in community, when we hear our story mirrored back to us, we are forgiven and we are healed.”
The fellowship might give us a way to quit the drink, and never have to drink again, the truth is that, unless you live inside spiritual principles and come to learn and know the God of your understanding, your chances are less than average.
Because there are those too, who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. If you cannot be honest with yourself, How in God’s universe can you be honest with God ???
I have friends, they are friends, because we sit in rooms together, they might not call ME a friend, but they are … They who are just white knuckling it, who just won’t Let Go and Let God.
Tonight, my lady friend told us how to do that.
You never know when the message is going to sink in and settle where it needs to.
Which is why we keep coming back.
We stick around until the miracle happens …
Ever since that one doctors visit back in February, and seeing clear proof that my body was responding positively to treatment, I’ve been discovering the man I really wanted to be. To feel beautiful, something I was missing, to feel sexy, since nobody had ever mentioned that to me, not even my husband, and finally find that spark that made me visible to people around me.
I figured out I could rock a look, that was sporty and flashy. I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last seven months. And now, I’ve brought my best friend over to the “dark side” with the very same diet I have been on for a while now.
I found this young, sporty, sexy, Otter of a man, (Otter – Young, Gay, Skinny, Hairy Man) and he has a look. A beautiful look, that is modern, sleek and hip. I like that.
At fifty, I decided to let things roll, and I’ve adopted a more “Otter” look. In the past, I was the one who would never be seen with facial hair, because, I used to say, that facial hair gave you a certain AGE look, that I worked so hard to avoid like the plague for the whole of my life. I may not be as skinny as I would like, but dropping thirty pounds has definitely put me in the race.
It’s been two weeks, and I have a full beard, “Otter” look now. It is distinctive, I think. I figured that I needed a new look that conveyed a little wisdom for myself at fifty. Some of my elder sober men friends have that “elder status look.”
And if I am honest, when I grow up, I want to be like some of my long sober men friends, in many ways.
I am trying to find comfort at Fifty. I’m trying to find that place where I feel good, look good and look good doing it too. I have the wardrobe. I’ve spent a pretty penny on new clothing that makes me look smart, fit and alive.
The friends that matter, see me, and they love me for who I am. All of them notice how hard I have worked to get here, and one lady friend, who has had her share of suffering knows what happiness and joy are, and she said to me not long ago that when she looked at me that I looked happy from the inside – out …
Friends that make your heart smile are precious.
I have friends like that in my life today.
Today is FIFTY, day seven.
Having a supporting role, in sobriety, is much easier, than being the LEAD actor. I’d rather come in quietly, and do some manual labor, setting up, and sit out front, and saying hello to people. I think, and I said this to one of my guys on the way home that:
Manual Labor is a requirement for sobriety. You have to spend some time doing the grunt work (as long as you can). I think service is THE cornerstone of anyone’s sobriety.
Service is something I learned to do, and still DO to this very day.
So it went, Tonight, we traveled across town to the entertainment sector of the city, where our Performing Arts Center is located. Place Des Arts. This is the HUB of Montreal’s Concert/Ballet/Symphony/Music Festivals … You name it.
It is where we gather to have some serious fun.
The Monday meeting is just up the hill from here. Notre Dame De la Sallette Church.
Monday Central is a well attended meeting. We had decided to change-up the game after completing a full reading of The Big Book, last week.
We were sitting out front tonight, as one of my elder friends, and another elder sober friend approached. They were surprised to see us. Others felt the need to change-up their routines as well, from where we had been going for so long.
Changing up your routine is necessary sometimes. My friend told me that when he gets into a funk about people and places and cliques, it is time to move on and go somewhere else.
We read from the Big Book, Page 92, in fact on “Working with Others.”
This passage talks about working with an alcoholic. And you can imagine, as it was said tonight that, back in 1939, when the book came out, Bill and Dr. Bob had their work cut out for themselves.
Imagine meeting a contact, via a wife, or a doctor or a hospital, someone who probably. really knew HOW to Drink … There was no A.A. There were no meetings. No television commercials.
In its Infancy, it was The Book, and that was it.
It was Dr. Bob and Bill, sitting with a real Winner …
The passage talks about what our role is when working with another. And how everything that matters, is about telling our TRUTH. Sharing the message of recovery as we have recovered, and how that went down for us. Speaking about what happened to US, honestly. That’s it.
There were a few young people sitting in the room tonight, that when THEY got the message given to them, insanity erupted, and they took to sobriety like wild fire. And in their zeal for recovery, tried to bring their friends and fellows, along for the ride.
They know today, in listening to them talk tonight, just how bad they cranked up the message and made it all about their opinions and not a whole lot about personal experience.
Sometimes we need to return to the roots of the program and listen to what the book actually says, and how this program works.
Sobriety is SO different in 2017, than it was in 1939.
The stakes are just as high. Alcoholism is still alcoholism. And a drinker, is still a drinker.
The chance that someone had heard of A.A. before they hit the rooms are higher today, than yesterday. Imagine what it was like 80 years ago ?
Today, one of the MAIN struggles we hear over and over ad nauseam, is God. God is mentioned over and over in the book, and God is seriously, the biggest DOWNER for people across the board.
If God was your only problem, you wouldn’t be sitting in the room, would you ?
High Roller drunks of the 1940’s were a serious problem, just as the High Roller drunks are today, only today, you can bet, that alcohol is not their only vice. Times have changed.
And they haven’t changed for the better.
How do you stay sober at age FIFTY ???
I don’t know, myself. But I am figuring it out one day at a time.
I follow the men who participate in my own personal sobriety. I do what they do. I go to meetings they go to. And I listen to what they say to me.
Not everyone is meant to STAY, people come and go. At certain points, sober roads might diverge. The lesson there is to Let Go, absolutely, and Let God. That was good advice tonight.
If You are stuck in addiction, somewhere far, or somewhere near, there is help.
Over the past few months, I’ve been asked to sponsor rehab’s in the U.S. on the blog.
I have done this gladly, if someone out there needs help, and you read these pages.
Drug Rehab.Com and Elevate Rehab.org …
The links are on the sidebar, on the right hand side. If you click the links, they will take you where you need to go, if you need help.
Thank you for following and reading.
Timber Hawkeye, talks about being a lighthouse.
A light house is a static structure. It is located in one place, and does only one thing, it sheds light. Up there on the rock, the light house gives light to those at sea, warning them of danger, rocks, the shoreline.
A light house does not move around, shedding its light in ones face.
For a long time, in sobriety, I thought that because I “had” light, that in order for people to see it, and pay attention to it, I needed to shine that light in their faces …
A meeting IS a LIGHT HOUSE. We give light, We share light, We offer light.
Last night, I took the stupid liberty to shine light in someones face once again. Reminding him that I had “Seen” him and was paying attention to him.
That really means nothing to him, because he thinks little of me.
Tonight, one of my long sober friends, who was sitting in the room prior to last night’s meeting and knew of my plans ahead of time, spoke to me before the meeting tonight. And he asked me why I was wasting my time, with someone who doesn’t seem to need light, or want it for that matter, from me at least.
He told me that there were plenty of people who want light, and that I need to stop and notice who they are in the future, thereby not wasting a perfectly good opportunities to
On the way home, I was talking to another friend driving the car home, and I told him about an observation that I had about people in general. And he said …
For God’s sake, you have fifteen years of hard-fought sobriety under your belt. WHY are you worrying about those fuckers who really don’t give you a second thought. They aren’t worrying about you, and you really don’t need to be fixated on them either.
Nuff said about that …
A few weeks ago, an older man showed up on our Friday doorstep.
More like, came down our staircase.
I noticed him.
He shuffles in before the meeting for some coffee. He keeps to himself and doesn’t say much, that I also noticed. Tonight, he shuffled in, just as I finished setting up and was going to go sit outside. He sat in the chair next to the one I was sitting in.
I took a breath, and asked him how he was doing …
Be the LIGHT.
People suffer unimaginable terrors and mental pains. And mental illness is NOT strange in our business. We see it all the time.
A conversation began. And I learned a great deal about this man, in a few minutes before the meeting. He IS where I WAS, many years ago. With a shattered life, nothing to call my own, nowhere to go, and a soul devoid of LIGHT.
I was carrying The Spirituality of Imperfection, in my bag.
He spoke of God. And said to me that he was devoid of spirit and did not know how to find it. AND he told me that at least, an ember of fire was still glowing in his tummy.
When a fire burns down, what is left in the pit, is charred coals, burnt wood, and maybe an ember just simmering, waiting for kindling to get it to burn once again.
That ember was still within him. And with that knowledge, I ran with it.
I told him that we all have, or hopefully still have, when we hit the rooms, an ember still there, inside us. I wanted to blow some air on his ember, and hopefully reignite the fire.
Ever so small it may be.
We spoke about foundations. We spoke about structure. We spoke about doing small things, small acts of kindness for ourselves and for others. And hopefully build some self-esteem and self-respect.
He has a plan. He is housed at the Old Brewery Mission, here in the city. The Mission is a Homeless Shelter. He has a paid room, and structure.
That is a beginning.
He has a roof, 3 meals a day, a bed to sleep in, and he gets a shower every day.
He has everything he needs, very simply. His cup is not full, but he’s on the way.
I gave him some suggestions. And as the meeting began, he whispered in my ear:
I have thirty days today.
I had a thirty-day chip in my wallet, I have several in fact, should they be needed.
At the end of the meeting, he got his thirty days.
We shared our light with him again tonight.
We dropped him at the Metro, and I gave him my number.
You never know when someone will need your light, at the right moment, for the right reasons.
It is Fifty, day four.
The other day, I was traveling. And I let my I-Phone do its thing and run the Shuffle. Instead of poking around for something particular to listen to, I let my phone do that for me. I’ve not listened to a play list like the one that is playing right now.
I have SO many hours of music on my phone, that I would never get around to listening to all of it. Strangely enough, there must be an algorithm in the phone itself on how it chooses music. I have to say that I’ve listened to a lot of music over the past few days. Odd and obscure songs I really like, have played, and in a certain order, as they popped up.
Where I am mentally and emotionally, plays into the music I am listening to. Being on the doorstep of Fifty plus, not really sure where I am going, I get words of encouragement from the singers I have loaded into my system.
Chester Bennington has come up several times, in a certain order. He is dead now, and I hear his words in a different way, from beyond the grave now, instead of picturing him on a stage ALIVE. Odd but comforting. I’m sad he is gone, because he told us where he was and still he killed himself. UGH.
This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch I wrote about last night, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.
This afternoon, I walked another soul through their first Fifth Step, in his sober life. It was a miraculous experience, because we both learned something about ourselves together. I see honesty in him, and a desire for a new beginning.
Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.
I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.
A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.
And we build Self Respect.
Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.
He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.
I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME
They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.
Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that kindness.
Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?
I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.
After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.
I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …
WHO DOES THAT ???
I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him , prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.
In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.
I hugged him and walked away.
Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.
I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …
I won’t be going back to the Monday meeting because after eleven months of sitting in that room, it did not produce one human being who wanted my number nor made an effort to be my friend. No Love Lost There …
I did see another friend who hits the Monday Central Meeting where we are going, starting next week, and he welcomed that choice I had made. He is no longer going to the Friday meeting.
All of my long sober friends, congratulated me and wished me good things for my birthday, which was nice. Most of my straight friends offer me words of wisdom and counsel, quite often. The Thursday meeting is like that, in certain circles of men and women, who’ve got a lot of time.
Others, not so much.
All I know is that I am still alive and I am still SOBER. But for the Grace of God, the fellowship and the wisdom of my very talented doctors.
That’s all Very Good.
People make stupid decisions. Alcoholics make stupid decisions. People who are in the rooms, but not using them properly. The whole goal of getting and staying sober, is that we begin to learn how to live sober. Gain some Self Respect, and LIVE LIFE.
Over time, as you rack up time, you STOP making stupid decisions. It is obvious to me that many of my fellows, are not there yet. I told my fellow that the way I stay sober is by watching them all go to meetings, talk, act, and make stupid decisions.
Thereby, I know, exactly, what NOT to do for myself.
I’m not any better than you are, because that would be my ego talking. I just don’t make the same stupid decision that YOU do. And the fact that I haven’t had a drink in over fifteen years and eight months.
I may be from Mars, and People might think I am strange and stupid, but I am clearly sober today, but for the grace of God.
The decision was made and I am walking away from communities of people now. I am leaving meetings, and I’ve purged my life of people who have been abusing my good will and my loyalty.
It sucks being honest with myself and my friends and fellows. Because in the end, it is me who loose, because I am honest, vulnerably Honest.
Self Respect, Dignity and Honesty are key to my values and morals.
This is my Fifty Promise to Myself.
Over the last few days, I have put in place, the boundaries and rules of engagement, that align with my morals and values. The battle is over, and the arena is drenched in blood and gore, and I rise victorious.
Scrubbing up from the battle and reviewing the wreckage, I know, who got in the arena with me, and who did not. I know all the people who gave me criticism and feedback that was abusive and really not what I had expected from sober men and women, let alone from some of my closest friends.
With that said, I have purged my life of people, places and things.
Thursday, last week, I was presented with responsibility that was not mine to begin with. Nonetheless, as the weekend began, I told a friend that I would engage this responsibility this week, in fact. That did not happen.
Putting the rules of engagement on the table from the beginning was a waste of time.
I chose not to engage because Friday really is not a good day to expect an institution to process an intake. Especially on a Friday afternoon. I chose, instead, to wait until the beginning of this week, to make my move for a total stranger, because I was asked.
Over the next three days, my phone rang off the hook. You’d imagine, that, if I did not answer one call, that I probably would not answer the second, third, or twelfth…
I chose NOT to answer my phone because I really was NOT in the mental space to deal with anyone else but ME over my fiftieth birthday weekend.
Mental Illness is a delicate business, and I need all my faculties to do my job correctly.
I thought I had made that clear with my, Not Gonna Touch this till Monday response.
On Sunday, my best friend met me for a day of fun, food and conversation. Having my best friend physically, with me, instead of on a long distance call, is PRIME TIME.
We took the Metro up to his old neighborhood, to get some Brazilian food and drink. On the way there, we stopped in that most dangerous place, A RECORD SHOP.
Whilst I was thumbing through records, in total bliss, my phone rang, yet again. I let it go to voice mail, again, on purpose.
As we exited the shop and made our way to food, my best friend hands me HIS phone. On HIS phone was a text, from the human being I was ignoring on purpose. Her text said and I quote …
“I know Jeremy is with you. He is not answering my calls, so I need you to tell him that he needs to call me …”
Major Fuck Up there …
What part of Not Gonna Deal with You Right Now, don’t you get ?
My lady friend not only spends her free time dialing my phone like I am some Beck and Call Boy … she expects me to answer her every time she dials my number, and she invades my personal space, while I was busy spending time with my best friend.
Like the only thing on my mind is serving the needs of a self-centered, selfish, bitch.
As I was preparing to order my food, I let it rip.
How do you properly tell someone to fuck off, nicely ???
I tried. Didn’t work …
Lunch was served in Styrofoam take out containers. And we dined like rich Romans in the park, whilst pot was being smoked left and right.
The rest of the day was blessedly void of interruptions. Thank the Baby Jesus.
Monday Morning, I crafted my final fuck off salvo.
Needless to say, my phone has not rung once, in response to said salvo.
I don’t like to be abused by my friends, or strangers for that matter. I really don’t like being taken advantage of either, because, for the record, I never say the word NO to any of my friends, unless I am sick or dead.
They expect me to always say yes, be amenable, and never raise my voice or cuss, for that matter.
Over the last year, that has all changed.
We chatted about reciprocation:
Many of my friends, sober they may be, Never reciprocate, Ever.
Especially, if that means they need to listen to me talk about ME.
Over the past many months, many of my friends took this tack with me. And over and over again, told me to just shut up. And out of the other side of their mouths, continued begging for me to help them, just the same. Just as long as I was doing for THEM.
Nuff said about that.
**** **** ****
Thursday we spoke about a fellow who was addicted to a light switch. Addicted to that light switch so badly, that he was not paying attention to reading The Book with us, let alone listen to anything that had been said over the last eleven months, I have been sitting in this particular meeting.
So I went to The Tire and bought a light switch. Something you wire into the wall and use. Tomorrow night I am going to give said light switch to that fellow who drank again with the words as follows:
Here is your light switch. I am giving it to you so that you remember what took you out the door and to another drink ! Every time you touch your dick or reach for a drink, I encourage you to “Flip the Switch!”
Gay men, are only concerned with three things: Dick, Drugs, and Alcohol.
Like I have stated before, my gay friends have no love for me, and haven’t for some time.
Sometimes, after witnessing my friends and fellows make really bad decisions, when they knew the consequences, I can’t help myself but to be brutally honest with them.
I’ve listened to this man talk bullshit out of both sides of his mouth for as many years, I have known him. Hell, I even sat with him and attempted to help him.
Many people never get past the first direction: Call Me Every Day !
Even if they own a cell phone or hell, better yet, a SMART phone. People don’t use the phone for the intention is was built for. Only for an APP…
UGH Fuck me ten ways from Sunday !!!
So, you spend YEARS listening to someone caterwauling about sorrow, and men, and drugs, and sobriety … Spinning their wheels whilst really needing us to engage you and feel sorry for you and engage with your story, as we drain our hearts in meetings week after week, and in the end, what happens ???
Every word spoken went in one ear and out the other. AND …
He drinks AGAIN.
UGH, Kill Me Now …
That I tried to help you, and you said FUCK YOU … just makes me even more angry.
Working with others has its challenges. The odds are against them all. But I can safely say that every human being I have engaged, is still clean and sober.
And I am not talking about my ego or my skills. It isn’t about me.
Is Fifty looking good on me yet ?
I’ve been sitting in meetings with my friends for over fifteen years. We have all heard the same stories, the same warnings. We’ve listened to LONG sober men and women come from distant places to encourage us to heed their warnings about drugs and alcohol.
I sit back and I listen to words. And I hear those words and I pack them in my bank. And over and over again, people do stupid shit.
It’s like a compulsion.
I hear you, but I think I am going to do THIS OTHER THING INSTEAD…
When you get sober, you have two choices.
- You sit in your chair and you pay NO attention to anyone or anything, OR
- Over time, you engage with your fellow-men and women.
- Engaging has its issues, you see, Note Above …
My friend Roger would tell me that: If I think I know something for sure, that I better sit my ass down and keep my mouth shut, for better or worse.
Thank God I have this blog that I can write whatever the hell I want and rant about stupid shit and stupid people.
FUCK ME …
They never said Sobriety was going to be a cakewalk. Getting sober is a bitch, and the odds are against us every day.
Nowadays, it’s not so much quitting the drink, but Staying Stopped.
The very last story in the book said that line. We all read it. Together. And we all talked about what that meant.
STAYING STOPPED …
And three days later, dumb shit drank again…
What part of Staying Stopped did you miss ???
UGH !!! I hate my life …
Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those too who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.
It was a good day. Filled with friends and good wishes. I started the day with a stiff broom, sweeping out the trash. I got my laundry done in the morning. I can toss a load in the washer and then get my grocery shopping done during the dry …
I even got a nap in.
Tonight we went to Fire Grill. I had invited my friend Juan and his girlfriend Nadia to join us for a meal. It was really nice. We don’t get to spend much time together outside of meetings, so tonight was a treat.
I have a plan. And this week that new plan begins.
We are going to go meet new people and hit some new meetings.
Now we will all find out what living in my fifties is going to look like together.
Thank you all for subbing and reading and joining the conversation.
Writing this little blog is an act of love, every day.
It is the best day of the year, and the most IMPORTANT day of my life.
I have reached the ripe age of Fifty … Harry would be 37 years old today.
I woke up very early this morning, as the sun was coming up. Just to be quiet for a time and appreciate that when I did get up this morning, that my heart was still beating.
I survived. I made it all this way. Miraculous, really. Who knew I’d live this long ?
What has changed ? I jettisoned a whole bunch of takers from my life. I re-ordered my priorities, and closed the book on the last chapter of my life.
Today, we begin writing the next decade …
When I turned 40, and the years that followed, I realized that I KNEW things for sure. It was only after I crossed the 40 mark that that began to dawn on me. So I suppose that whatever I am supposed to know now, will materialize on the days, weeks, months, and years that will follow.
Another personal cull is waiting in the wings, and I will know that list by the close of business today.
All I know is that NOW, instead of Forty years, I now have Fifty years of practical life experience and a BUNCH of sober knowledge about many people. Intimate knowledge that has helped the cull process.
I really know who I want in my life, and who I don’t. I know what I am willing to invest in and what I won’t. I have sobriety that was proofed in the furnace of vulnerability. I got down and dirty in the arena, while everyone else watched from the stands.
Only three people got in the arena with me.
If you aren’t in the arena with me, getting your ass kicked, I don’t need your feedback.
I’ve changed things up here on the blog. Added a few things, took others away.
I’ve decided to embrace the wisdom and look of a fifty year old. So that is a thing.
There are a few things I really need to focus on over the next little while.
Fifty feels good right now. That may change. We’ll see …
Anyways, Happy Birthday Harry …
The meeting AFTER the meeting was better than the actual meeting itself. The meeting AFTER the meeting was spurred on by the discussion we had the hour prior.
The reading talked about Ego Smashing. But words like Powerlessness, and Surrender came up from the circle, so I went with Surrender. I just reiterated the thought we had heard a few weeks ago, that I wrote about that night, here, that:
Every day I admit I am powerless and I don’t have all the answers, and I am sure as shit NOT in control. And what matters, when I kneel to pray every morning, is the QUALITY of my daily surrender.
What I did not know fifteen years and seven months ago, I kind of know NOW. The topic of anger and rage, came out of the mouth of a very holy man sitting with us. And when a very holy man says the word FUCK in his share, you know it ain’t good.
The last year has been learning about Surrender, and the Quality OF that Surrender.
The last page that needed to be turned in my life was anger and rage, combined. I’ve turned it all over, ALL of it. Every last shred of my soul is now in God’s hands.
When we pray, each day, we ask God for something. But as we ask from God, He asks something from us. Spencer tells me all the time that, God requires us to surrender something to Him, in order for HIM to help us.
And the Further we let Go and Give it to God, HE, in His infinite wisdom, knows what to do with that which we give Him. Our relationship with our Higher Power, (read GOD) is based on a give and take, not just take, take, take.
If we don’t give God anything to work with, what are we doing asking for anything in the first place ?
I told my holy man tonight that he really needed to sit down and write out his seething resentments and anger that is eating him from the Inside – Out. Seething anger, I KNOW, ate at me for the whole of my life, and I hung on to that shit, for dear life.
Today, the anger and resentment is gone from my life. One day at a Time. But you know, it only takes a thought from my sick mind to reignite that rage and anger.
The Program tells us, through the book, that the ultimate goal in sobriety is to become Happy – Joyous – and Free … Am I there yet ? Maybe.
The book of Fifty is waiting on me to open the cover. The spine has never been bent. It is a new book. I love New Books.
I am re-reading the Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernie K.
Funny, I read that book, over the last year, and it had been sitting on my bedside table all this time. I SHOULD have cracked it because I am reading again, stuff I really needed to hear over the last little while, and had forgotten, in my resentful seething anger.
We are changing up the Monday night meeting in a weeks time. We are sure as shit not going to listen to another man piss and moan about digging himself out of the pit of hell that he put himself into by drinking. I just don’t have the stomach to listen to another shit head moan about Letting Go and Letting God.
Like, really, Don’t fucking talk a game you think you have and talk shit about sober topics you think you know, and play a game, with everybody in the room, like you really wanted to get sober … Fuck You … You HAD NO Game to begin with, which is why YOU DRANK again…
I just cannot sit in the room any longer listening to your shit …
So we are going somewhere else to meet new people and hear new things.
Thank God I am sober today.
Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,
“Only You know what you do in secret…”
The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.
The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …
“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”
The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.
All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!
At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.
Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.
Straight men, in the corporate world have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.
14 months ago, that few night slip took place. Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.
At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.
Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.
Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.
Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others. Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.
And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.
You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.
For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.
My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.
Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…
My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.
He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.
Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.
He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.
Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,
“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”
Well, God knew. And He knew as well.
Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.
My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.
I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.
Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.
Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.
Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.
More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …
Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.
She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.
The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …
She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….
The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.
I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.
I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …
Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
There is a God and I am not He.
Some of my friends are not so lucky.
The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.
And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…
YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)
“If your marble jar is empty, you don’t have it to give away.” “Do you have marble jar friends ?” “What is a marble jar friend ?”
Trust – is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.
This mirrors A Vision for You, when it says: “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I have a marble jar. I’ve been working to fill it, over these very trying months of my life.
And I have spent time listening to Brene Brown, Timber Hawkeye and others talk about The Anatomy Trust, Vulnerability, Shame, Guilt, Peace, Letting Go, and the Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and finally, The Fuck It List…
When my emotional roller coaster left the station, I observed something that shook me to my sober core. My friends, fellows, sponsors, allies, did not want to hear my pain. They did not want to listen to me, honestly and compassionately, and without judgment.
As the months wore on, the people who did not want to listen to me, became afraid of me, and some, even asked me to go from meetings because of their fear factor.
Men and Women who were double-digit sober, MUCH more double digit sober than I am right now, thought out loud that “Oh, you want us to treat you special, unlike everyone else in the room!” No … I just want to be treated as a human being in difficulty.
I have friends, well, they’re not friends any more, who just cannot sit with me and listen to me talk when I need to talk. If only to hear words come out of my mouth, that seem important to me in the moment.
Yesterday I was sitting with a friend, well, I thought she was a friend. We were talking about HER. There is a situation on the table, she wants to invest in. And she wanted me to walk her through this process, because I have personal experience, in this area.
I have friends, well, fellows, who will invest every dollar of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves with people far away, or on people who have a very low R.O.I. (Return on Investment).
I’ve been floundering here in my own stew of emotional and mental soup for months, and every time I want to talk to and/or in front of these people, they tell me to SHUT UP.
I’ve learned that I have a choice in the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY …
I don’t have to engage in every problem in a room. And I don’t have to invest in something that is wasteful and/or a waste of time.
I’ve done this over and over again.
Timber says that WE need to be LIGHT.
Light as in a LIGHTHOUSE.
A lighthouse is static. Stands in one place, and shines its light for ships to see to navigate away from rocks and danger.
For years and years, I thought I needed to shine my light in people’s faces, as if to say …
“Here is the light, do you see it, I am the light …”
NO, WRONG …
I just have to sit still and be present, and keep my mouth shut until it is necessary to speak.
One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar.
It is apparent to me now, many months later, that as long as I am serving other people, talking about what THEY want to talk about, and helping THEM, as long as the conversation is serving THEM, everything is kosher.
As soon as there is a break in the stream of consciousness, and I turn from helping THEM into hoping they will listen to ME, to help ME, that’s when they tell me to SHUT UP.
Does that seem right to you ? Because it doesn’t seem right to me.
Timber tells us to make a list of our CORE VALUES. Write them down. All those things that we want to be, the men and women we want to become.
When you finish writing, take that list and compare it to WHO you ARE right now.
Right away, we begin to see just how much work we have to do with US, to become the people we want to be.
I have that same list for my friends. People are people and I have to let them be who they are, without expectations, judgments or conditions.
We have to allow people to be who they are warts and all.
But in these times of troubles and strife, I need my friends to help me. I bowed down and asked for help. I’ve asked people to help me, to rise up and do for me when I could not do for myself.
Barely a handful of those people did RISE UP and helped ME.
I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be the voice of reason and sobriety. Not everyone wants to listen to me give them unsolicited advice, because someone, or a friend is in difficulty. I gotta let them work it out. And not get involved in their spiritual journey.
That is one of the Great Sins …
One, to get in the way of YOUR spiritual journey, and TWO, getting in the way of someone Else’s spiritual journey.
I’m tired of my friends, telling me to just SHUT UP.