When I moved to Montreal, Dr. Mark Wainberg was researching AIDS drugs, like he had in decades past. I was one of his test patients at the Montreal General. Every drug that came out of his lab, went through Doctor Chris (my doctor today) and people like me, for the drugs to get to the world market.
I mourn his passing.
Dr. Mark is directly connected to my life as I live it today.
One of Canada’s leading AIDS researchers has died suddenly in Florida.
Dr. Mark Wainberg was in a Miami suburb with family on Tuesday when he had difficulty while swimming.
According to the Bal Harbour Police Department, his son noticed Dr. Wainberg was missing, swam out to where he was last seen, and brought him to shore.
“The victim had been in the water with his son, his son had lost sight of him. He didn’t know where his father was, so he swam out to where he had last seen his father – was able to retrieve him and swam back to shore with him,” said Acting Chief Mike De La Rosa.
“Other beachgoers assisted in bringing the victim onto the beach which is when we arrived. After fire-rescue was treating the victim, he was transported to hospital.”
Firefighters continued performing CPR as Dr. Wainberg was taken to hospital, where he died.
Acting Chief Mike De La Rosa could not confirm if Dr. Wainberg drowned or had some other medical condition that led to his death.
Dr. Wainberg was a world-renowned researcher who began his work on HIV/AIDS in the 1980s
His group discovered that 3TC, also known as Epivir and lamivudine, was effective in treating HIV.
As the founder and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, and the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, he oversaw research into HIV and AIDS in conjunction with dozens of scientists and several companies, including BioChem Pharma.
He co-chaired the International AIDS conference in 1984, and went on to become the president of the International AIDS Society from 1998 to 2000.
He also organized the 13th International Congress on AIDS in South Africa.
Wainberg frequently lobbied for more funding and more education about HIV and AIDS — which is one reason he chose South Africa as a place to hold an international conference.
Friends and colleagues said Dr. Wainberg was fantastic about encouraging people in their research.
“Thirty-five years after the discovery of AIDS and Dr. Wainberg would talk about AIDS like it was the first days,” said Dr. Rejean Thomas.
“He would transfer his passion to colleagues, to young doctors.”
Dr. Thomas said Dr. Wainberg spoke last week at a conference in Montreal, and told him he had no plans to retire.
“Working hard with passion, that would describe him. And doing for the patients, first thing, doing for the patients,” said Dr. Thomas.
His recent work focused on trying to cure HIV infection and working on different strains of the disease and their drug resistance.
Dr. Wainberg said the world should also spend more money on getting antiviral drugs to the estimated 7 million people living with AIDS in the world who cannot afford treatment.
In 2001 Dr. Wainberg was named to the Order of Canada, and made an officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2005.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2000, and in 2008 was named a Chevalier of France’s Legion d’honneur.
Wainberg is also known for advocating to change a controversial policy in Canada that barred all gay men from donating blood.
In a 2010 article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Wainberg and his co-authors suggested the policy should be modified to allow gay men in long-term, monogamous relationships to donate blood.
Two years ago Dr. Wainberg was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for revolutionizing the understanding of HIV/AIDS at the medical and political levels.
Born in 1945, Dr. Wainberg would have turned 72 on April 21.
Fears, are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build. As faith grows, so does inner security. The vast underlying fear of nothingness commences to subside. We of A.A. find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening. A.B.S.I. 196
Tonight’s read talks all about fear(s). One of my friends asked whether the reading was addressing who we were while we were drinking, or who we were when we quit ? It can go both ways.
Another friend of mine, who is back around again, after a spectacular crash and burn over the summer, spoke about the house he is building now, this time around. That house, he had lived in had to look pretty, because he was consumed with what people thought of him, while he was suffering the terrible disease of excessive people pleasing.
He is currently Fumigating the house he lives in now. Trying to find where all the termites are, that destroyed the foundation he once had. And he says that, now, the house may not be so pretty on the outside, as it once was. The paint may be peeling, and there are serious cracks in the walls, which he is not covering up this time with pretty pictures.
He sees the value in being who he is, today, and working diligently, on himself, and who he is today. Admitting that the man he is becoming is in a constant state of flux and change. And we may not like what we get this time, save for the honest attempt at humility and self-awareness.
We were all afraid for my friend, because we did not think he would get it all back because the fall was so steep and the pit all but swallowed him whole. And it has been a serious uphill battle for every day of sobriety. But he made it out of the pit and is rebuilding again.
The front group was small, but the conversation was deep.
A young man, who is in for the first time, wonders if he will ever achieve anything in his life that he can be proud of. Having something he can call his own, because right now, he is where many of us are, when we first come in.
Devoid of any money, possessions, or anything resembling what he is seeing from his peers and more importantly, his brothers and sisters in his family. He sees them with lives, marriages, children, homes. His sister is pregnant right now, and he sees them, “having it all, so it seems, on the outside,” Himself, he has very little to speak of beyond the home he lives in right now, (read: Rehab).
I started talking and went on and on. Relating how fear was always present for me, in my life, one way or another. When you introduced alcohol (and drugs) into my equation, the fears subsided, because I was told that alcohol would make it all better, the more I drank.
The first time around, when I got sick, and Todd said the word STOP, I was going to die, because I was very sick. I had literally, the clothes on my back. Todd provided the home I would live in for that period of time, along with everything in it.
I started sobriety with some serious FEARS. And one day at a time, those fears were mitigated, by what Todd taught me and how he directed that stage of my life. I survived, because he provided me a solution and salvation.
Because I trusted him as he asked me to do.
The fears were still there, and returned with a vengeance when he departed my life. And those fears ruled my life until I got sober, the second time around.
When I moved here to Montreal, I had two suitcases and four boxes. The first thing I bought when I got here, was a clock radio, that kept me company overnight.
Sadly, just the other day, 15 years later, that clock radio died a spectacular death.
When I got sober this time around, I had moved here for a better life. It had to be anything because what I had, was not much at all. I was living in famine, and poverty. So it HAD to get better.
Like I have said, time and time again, I did everything right. In hindsight, over the past fifteen years and a few months, listening to my friends talk about themselves, and knowing the choices I did make, and the life I lived because of those choices, I did everything RIGHT. Because I know how many of my friends are still cracked.
I heard our resident Old Timer say tonight that he did not have much when HE came in, but the rooms and the program looked really good to him, so he stuck around. And in his life, the miracle happened for him.
Miracles happen for all of us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. There is a MAGIC in the rooms that comes to us, being with our friends, night after night. Just knowing where many of my friends were, when they came in, and seeing how their lives filled out and how the miracle happened for them, it is Magic. It is God. It is Us. It is We.
One of my friends, was down and out like I was. He was living in a hovel, washing clothes in his tub, delivering pizzas for cash. All he wanted was to kill himself, but he stuck around, today fifteen years later, he lives in a big house. He is married with children, and he works for a company that affords him travel around the world.
Because, like me, when he came in, we did everything we were told to do. We boded our time. We went to meetings, we did direct acts against our wills. (read: we did what we were told, and decided NOT to take matters into our own hands).
Magic happened. Only a handful of us, who got sober, WHEN we got sober, made it all the way to this point with us. Many of our friends did not make it, in one swing. Many of them Sputtered. Skipped. Stopped. Went back out, came back in, some right away, many though, took months and years to get back.
A good handful of them are dead.
After the meeting I was in the kitchen talking to a friend and we both agreed that
“We were not afraid anymore.”
Many of us have put in The Time. The Effort. And THE WORK.
And over the years, all that hard work, paid off in SPADES.
Many of us rebuilt our lives, filled with worth and meaning. We earned everything that we have through hard work and perseverance. And nobody can take that away from us, because we earned what we have through Hard, Honest, WORK.
I think about having a terminal illness myself. And how that played out for me. For a very long time, I was living with one foot in today, and one foot in the grave. I had lived, in the space “Waiting for that other shoe to drop.” or “The pills to stop working.” or “Waiting to die.”
I am still alive. I’m not afraid of dying. I stand in front of my medicine cabinet every night, grateful and thankful for what is in my medicine cabinet. Because I know, today, that:
I am Not going to Die Today … One day at a time.
I spoke last night about how all of us have crossed a very important threshold in our lives, all at the same time. The period of living in ambiguity is over. We made it to the other side.
God opened the doors across the board for all of us. And I think, as I was talking to my friend in the kitchen that, I can finally breathe again.
It was as if, I had been holding my breath, as I walked my guys through ambiguity, and I did not know where the “other side” was, or how long it was going to take to get HERE today. But we arrived HERE today.
And I can breathe again. Because I am no longer AFRAID. For Them or Myself.
The magic happened. The miracle happened. It took years of hard, blood, sweat and tears to get here. But with perseverance, one day at a time, we all made it safely over the water.
I can’t tell you where you are going, but I can show you where I walked, and how this all works, and tell you that, you just have to start with one step. Or step one.
I’m an alcoholic and I am powerless over alcohol, and my life is unmanageable.
I find great strength in saying that turning my life over, having constant direction, as I needed it, when I needed it, on a daily basis, helped me build the life I inhabit today.
By the grace of God and the fellowship, I have everything I ever needed, and not a drop more. My cup is full and I am grateful for small mercies. And miracles.
I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.
I never imagined that this was possible, because, all those years ago, I was at day one, with nothing to call my own. Today I have a home and love and good friends, and the love of a child in my life.
My heart overflows.
Fear has no room to live when our lives are full of love and goodness to overflowing.
When we are not plying our bodies and minds with drugs and alcohol, anything is possible, if we just Re-Orient, and begin to build that life we were meant to live.
I have a life, because I am no longer afraid …
God has done for me, what I could not do for myself.
Gratitude overflows …
Can I just say that it is bitterly COLD outside. My poor tootsies froze on my transit.
UGH, can we get to Spring any sooner, please ?
February is moving along, and our team tonight, was made up of all new people in all areas of the meeting. I opened and a lady friend of mine was in the chair.
Hearing fresh stories are such learning experiences. Thursday night has seen a number of “Firsts” over the last few months. Our speaker tonight, was a young lady, whom I know from other meetings.
In her own words, “throughout her life, she thought it was necessary to hide every identifying marker that defined her. That she just had to hide who she really was, because her view of the world was so skewed.”
I try to tell my Lady readers, when I hear stories like this, that there are women out here who suffer, sometimes worse than the men do. Because in the end, tonight, when she finally made it to the rooms, she was dead inside.
Her junkie boyfriend once said to her, after he visited us occasionally, that “she would like us, if she was an alcoholic.” That one sentence rattled around her brain, until she was ready to come to a meeting.
People who come from small places in Canada, small towns, in far away provinces, this story is particular. Coming from dysfunction she did not know any better. By the time she hit high school, she had constructed a very fine facade to make sure she gave her friends the right image of who she thought she should be, and certainly, not who she really was.
People coming from small communities, with very little population, and moving into large city situations where many people are, can be jarring.
- In the end, she drank fast, to get “somewhere” other than where she was.
- She was always trying to get somewhere else.
- Because where she was, wasn’t cutting it for her.
Bring an Atlantic Province, small town girl, to Big City Montreal, with all its distractions and situations, brought our young lady to her knees.
The part of her story that I identified with was this …
Her longest relationship was with a boy, who was a junkie. Living in a house that was falling down around them, the only thing our young lady really wanted was “really good window coverings.”
She just did not want to see the light of day at 4pm while she slept.
Holding together an abusive, junkie relationship took all she had. And barring anyone or anything else, all she could do was try each day to hold it together, until that challenge became untenable.
I’ve said before that our young people suffer greatly. And the women, more so than the men. Their stories are frightful. Some of us guys listen and compare how hard we got into trouble with our addictions, and our stories pale in comparison.
When I began my slip, I was answering the call of the Hole in My Soul. And I packed up my house and moved 1000 miles from home into the middle of the United States answering a call to be with someone, I really had no idea about in reality.
Nobody knew where I was. If I had been arrested or died in that place, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me either. Living with an active junkie is a seriously tall order. Because, to outsiders, we had to present a common front, as if to say, its really not bad, we are ok. When in reality I was dying inside, stuck somewhere I really regretted finding myself.
That eighteen months was serious hell. I did make contact with an angel in the outside world at one point, who, when the time was right, sent the cops to get me out and save my life. There is no holding together a relationship with someone who was dead set upon self destruction and my destruction as well.
I had to get out.
Our young lady, in the end, found her way out, into the rooms.
What she found turned her life around in so many ways. That finely crafted facade fell away, when she realized that there were other women like her to talk to, and identify with.
I talk about how restorative the rooms are, if you use them wisely.
In our young lady’s case, all those problems like home, house, money and life, just melted away, and turned around, as if on their own.
I do not minimize the work she had to do, in this one years time, to see the wisdom in the choice she made that fateful day when she arrived on our doorstep. She is wise. After only a year and a couple of months, her life has seriously turned around.
I see her on Friday nights. Our young women are a tight bunch and they travel in packs to meetings, which is a very good thing.
Coming out of the dark, not having to hide who she was, behind a facade was freeing in miraculous ways. Can you imagine the energy and effort it took her to construct this wall between her and the outside world ?
Now, imagine for a moment, when she frees up all that pent up energy, and points it inwards, and turns all that negativity into positive strides …
That is Miraculous Power.
I know what that power is, because I learned that lesson myself.
In the end she said that in the rooms she had “Found her people.”
She exuded Gratitude from the heart.
“Almost the only scoffers at prayer (and meditation) are those who never tried it enough.”
Friday the 13th began very early this morning, when I was awoken out of a sound sleep with reflux and heartburn that lasted for more than two hours. So bad, it was, that I got dressed and went to the pharmacy to get some medicine. Twenty dollars later, and a walk back home, I was feeling better.
I later attempted to go back to bed, for a medically induced period of sleep. And my phone rang right in the middle of a dream, so sleep ended abruptly, again.
People come and people go from my life so often, that I am used to being alone. I am learning that sometimes, people in my life, are only there for a short period of time, and my mourning the loss of friends is getting shorter. I am getting much better at letting things go quickly, instead of holding on to beating myself up for one reason or another.
The other thing that is meaningful to me is that, I am an emotional being. In a few days, here in Canada, another Bell Let’s Talk Day is coming. That day, is spent shedding light on those suffering from mental illness, depression or any form of mental issues.
I’ve been on anti depressants for decades. When you are going to die, and you’ve got nothing to live for, the people in my life, my doctors and my shrinks took very good care of me, so that I did not, in fact, DIE…
Last year was an emotional shit show. I lost an entire community of friends over the fact that I got angry in front of them, and that shattered the calm and sedate demeanor facade that everybody hung on to so hard.
I accept now, that yes, I can be emotional. Because when I stuff my feelings nobody wins. And I am tired of always having to be Happy, Joyous and Free all the time, when on the odd day, I want to strangle some people until they choke …
Some people, in the program, are seriously afraid of me and avoid me like the plague. Like I am just going to get up one morning, and find that I feel nothing any more and never say that “hey you are an asshole, or that is fucked up, or you are full of shit, you fake bastard.”
Tonight we read from A.B.S.I. and shared on prayer and meditation.
The little door in my brain opened and I saw something I had not noticed before. I’ve been practicing prayer and meditation, on and off, for the whole of my life. Some periods were longer than others.
The visual that came tonight was this …
When I got sick, and Todd had stepped into my life, and gave me certain directions, that that specific structuring of my life, was, in part, meditation. I went to work every day, and I learned over that time, how to still my mind. Rudimentary practice.
I had a heart, mind and soul, that was in terror of dying. The rat in my brain was spinning that emotional wheel at 150 miles per hour. When I approached the building we worked in, I had to learn how to shut that part of my brain OFF.
And when I stepped across the threshold, all I HAD to THINK about was WORK.
Let me tell you, that that took a long time. But once I had the lesson, it came in handy.
I did not have to think about being sick, or how I was going to survive, or that I was going to die. I turned my will and my life over the God, (read: Todd) every day that I worked for him, until the day he left for California.
Even back then, now that I look at it now, twenty three year later, it may not have been meditation to me then, but a practice in compartmentalization. And that practice did wonders for me, because it worked.
I know, today, that I have a daily ritual. A certain order to my day. There is stillness in my life, daily. I start my day quietly. And I like it that way. I have prayer reminders all over the apartment. I see them all day and I see them before I go to bed.
Every day I have to stand in front of my medicine cabinet, for one reason or another, several times a day. And that is when my mind goes on autopilot. I see people in my minds eye. I say their names to myself. I remember them, daily. In a way, those moments standing there, are really for those who did good for me and saved me and continue to help me.
At the end of the night, I return to stillness. I do my final prayers and meditation when I shut down this box, and I go to bed. I spend an hour in bed reading, NIGHTLY.
Every night, unless I am dead tired, and I just shut off the light and go to sleep.
I don’t often think about prayer, or meditation, or gratitude, in word form, like Oh, I need to pray, or meditate, or be grateful, for God’s sake …
I pray. I meditate. And I am grateful. Every day. Those aspects of my life are integrated into how I live my life, on a daily basis.
If you take any kind of medication for any reason, you understand gratitude if you are still alive because of that medication, WE are grateful for every day those pills still work. How can you NOT be grateful for the ability to get up every morning, and know those pills are keeping you well and helping you survive.
Prayer and Meditation, the conscious contact with that, that is greater than yourself is necessary for any modicum of serenity.
I’m still here. There is still work to be done. My friends and my husband need me to be here, so in order to do that, I have to take care of me, and it begins with prayer, and a little gratitude and some meditation.
When we crank up the heat on Prayer and Meditation, our lives change.
If you don’t at least try it, how do you know, that it wouldn’t work for you too ?
There is so much shit going on in the world, and social media is rife with crap that we need not take part in. Shutting that all off for a few minutes a day, may just save your sanity.
Because, let’s face it, INSANITY is coming to the White House, and it is going to be there for at least four years, unless we find a way to get rid of that insanity, one way or another.
Thank the baby Jesus, I live above the Northern Border.
Because we need a happy dog photo right now. It’s my favorite image too …
Every one wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be loved…
How often we see people come in the room, and we notice them, but at the end of the meeting, we watch them walk out, because WE did not step up and say, “I noticed you.”
There are two young people in our community, that I have been watching bounce in and out of the rooms, stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism and drug addiction. I noticed them a long time ago, but back then, as my young man said to me tonight, “he wasn’t in it to win it.” But I watched.
I reminded my young lady friend of a story she shared at a meeting a long time ago, about a specific spiritual experience she had one night on the Metro. Indeed, she had forgotten that story, tonight, I reminded her of it.
I decided that the time was right to step up and do something. I asked one question of him after the meeting … “Who is invested in your sobriety?” He replied, no one specifically.
So I told him the story. We spoke for a while, and he has my number, and I asked him to call me every day, to at least, connect with one alcoholic every day, no matter what.
He is working with a man I know, who is good people, so he has a sponsor now.
My friend said something in the meeting we all thought important to remember:
“IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS, PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN.”
A funny statement that is in tonight’s read:
I HAVE YET TO FIND A PLACE IN THE BIG BOOK THAT SAYS “NOW YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS; HAVE A NICE LIFE … “
I’ve said it before, sobriety never ends. Once you begin, buckle up, because this is a long ride, through ups and downs, good times and bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part…
See the pun there, did you notice it ?
I’ve been listening to several pod casts lately. I’ve told you about them in earlier posts. One of them is quite good. The writing is stellar, the pod cast is one I look forward to.
A couple weeks ago, I bought a couple of his books. Sold “in house” and not on the “open Market.” Halfway through the first book, I put the book down.
I think I read too much, across the spectrum. So I’m thinking to myself, someone who spends hours upon hour writing scripts, should be well versed in certain research for his books just the same. That is not the case it seems.
Reading a simple story is simple. No expectations, or demands from the read. I read for story. I read for content. I read for details and spins. Don’t waste my time with a book that goes no where, but the simple straight route from point A to point B. End of story.
I am spoiled by Kathy Reichs and Donna Tartt. I am spoiled by several other authors who write stellar books, that I am guilty of holding up expectations for other authors who “should” write like them with attention to detail and story method.
Sadly, not many writers got that memo …
October is getting closer. The holiday season is just weeks away now. I could give you a day count, but that would be a little compulsive, don’t you think ?
If you go to a meeting, notice people around you. And go say hello to at least one person before you leave that meeting. Tell them that “You were paying attention.”
I am paying attention …
You never know when you are going to save a life …
Why do you have to make things so complicated, and do stupid things, and then ask why me when shit gets bad ??? We are complicated people who don’t necessarily follow simple suggestions, yet are honest enough to tell you to go Fuck Yourself when you tell folks that it really isn’t that bad, if you did, for once, do as you were told.
I don’t get this generation of folks, who think they own the world, and demand everything and want it for free, on demand. How many times do you have to have a brick wall fall on your ass, before you stop and listen for once ?
People are going to do what they are going to do regardless of how many times you tell them that they are barking up the wrong tree. I have worked to get my young folks back into the fold and to get active again, because so many of them have fallen away and have spent weeks and months isolating in their misery, instead of showing up and investing in each others lives. I don’t know how to get them to invest in each other beyond seeing each other at meetings !!!
The building fire alarm is ringing – hasn’t done that in a long time.
The daily construction on La Catherine begins at 7 a.m. A mere 500 yards away from my balcony. They are working on the 15th floor right now and are close to pouring it. One more floor to 16 and the roof and they will finish in less than a month.
There is a cherry picker crane in the alley down stairs and every day, there are men IN that cherry picker riding it up and down the side of the building that faces the alley. It seems that some do not know how high the building is so they are spray painting the numbers on the side of the build, just to make sure. You know how industrial trucks and cranes have that automatic “Beep, Beep, Beep” when the truck, or crane is in reverse ?
Well, this particular cherry picker is always in reverse it seems. If it goes up it beeps, if it goes down it beeps, if they move it forwards it beeps and if they move it backwards it beeps as well. So for hours every day, all I hear is that God damned beeping.
At the same time, the company that owns this building is doing hard construction all over the facade of the building all at the same time. They are rehabbing the balconies, knocking down the banisters and rebuilding them. They came the other day and took off the flooring on my balcony ( the wooden slat flooring ) not sure what they did with it, but there is 42 years of shit strewn all over the underfloor. Feathers, dirt, rabbit shit and other assorted crap that was underneath the flooring all these years.
The jack hammers begin pounding the building at 8 a.m. every morning. Every morning !!!
Two construction sites. Both running together, first thing in the morning.
Sleeping in has lost its charm.
Our building manager has encouraged me to be patient, while this major work job continues.
Tonight the topic was all about Step 4. And I laughed to myself. This time around, the first time I hit Step 4, I was a neurotic mess. I was 34 years old, and neurotic. I wrote pages and pages and was insufferable with the sponsor I had back then.
Fifteen years later, I see serious progress in the way I approach Step Work. For the first time in sobriety, I am clear and free of every item that first appeared on that list fifteen years ago. I have come full circle.
I’ve been living my sober life, By The Book. By some of my design, but highly dependent on the advice and counsel of those I trust. My sponsor, and my spiritual adviser and a couple of other important people in my life.
As it happened, everything came together quite spiritually. This pass at Step 4 was more spiritual than clinical. I did a good amount of writing and in the end, was given the final key to free myself from the past that has been dogging me for the whole of my life.
People who are all over the map, from day one to thirty years plus, all have stories to tell and fears to be addressed. Sobriety is a lifetime journey and never ends, and is never over, this is it, if you accept the challenge of getting and staying sober and sorting your life out once and for all. Inventories are or should be cyclical, and done often and when necessary.
If you don’t know what is in storage, how is your shop going to be profitable?
Fall is on its way. Temps are coming down, ever so slowly. October is mere weeks away, and Thanksgiving will follow soon after.
Fifteen years have passed, since the day the earth shifted on its axis, and in certain ways, the world, “our world” changed, and would never be the same ever again.
When I was a young man, I spent time in New York City. I visited the Twin Towers, so I was familiar with the layout of the land and the buildings.
That Tuesday morning, it was quite early, I was still in bed. My phone rang, and it was my friend Ricky on the other end. He said “You need to turn on the tv, something is happening, and I’m not quite sure what it is.”
I turned on the tv, and watched the second plane hit the building. I watched the buildings burn, like everyone else did. Then I watched them fall to the ground.
When the air plane hit the Pentagon, the only thought on my mind was my brother’s life, because I knew he might be in that building. I called my mother, whom was not speaking to me, nor was my brother, speaking to me either. I asked her where Kenny was.
She did not answer me, and then hung up on me.
I called several more times, when she finally assented to telling me he was not in Washington at the time of the attack. At least my brother was out of harms way.
I chose not to open the store that day, and I would not open the store for a number of days in the end.
I turned to ABC News and the wisdom and guidance of Peter Jennings. If any one had the power to guide, He would. That began several days of 24 hour ABC news hosted by Peter Jennings. I emailed the news station and got Peter’s On Air Email Address, and I was writing to him back and forth.
One night in particular, Peter was looking very haggard, all suited up and tightly wound. So I wrote him a note, and said …
Peter, you seem a bit wound up. Why don’t you loosen your tie and shirt and relax a bit. A few seconds later, I watched him loosen his tie and shirt.
September 11th, took its toll on Peter, and eventually killed him, because he picked up smoking and that smoking killed him.
**** **** ****
Do we ever get a break from memory, from reliving the past, or from mourning ? No, we don’t.Ever !!! From the earliest days in school, we are taught all those stories of those who came before, and the many that sacrificed their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy to this day.
We are always mourning an Event, A Human Being, A Time, A Place, a War, A Shooting, Buildings Falling, the list just goes on and on.
I wonder, if there are some out there, who are just tired of mourning.
We owe eternal debts of gratitude for family that went before us, for soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. For those who were killed unjustly, for those who were slaughtered by terrorists who only want to kill the infidel.
We mourn the loss of children shot up in a school, people shot up in public places, and those fifty young people gunned down in a nightclub in Orlando.
Today we remember and mourn all those souls who went to their deaths on air planes plunged into The World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville Pennsylvania.
We mourn the first responder’s who climbed the buildings trying to save peoples lives, and in turn lost their own in the process. For all those who were killed in those buildings in New York City, the Towers, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. Thousands of lives lost because of deranged and sinister terrorists.
For days and days, Miami Beach was comatose. The bars and clubs had closed, and we entered 14 days of mourning. I sat in an internet cafe, where the owner gave me free air time every night, to surf, to try to help in some way. I did that night after night.
At dusk, we brought candles to the beach and lit them so satellites could take our pictures from space, and be published for maximum consumption.
There was no partying, no liquor, no nothing. We mourned because that is what everyone else was doing. I was stone cold sober.
Fourteen days later the bars opened and they began to have matching funds Fund Raisers, where if we donated money, we could drink the same for free.
Over the next three months, we drank all the alcohol that was available in a 5o mile radius of the city. We were drunk for months.
The rest is history. A few days before December 9th, 2001, I had had my last drink. Troy took me to my Next First Meeting.On December 9th. My sobriety Anniversary.
And by the grace of God, I haven’t desired a drink since.
We Remember …
“No one can teach you how to be a storyteller, you have to live to be able to do that.”
If there is one thing you should do right now, if you don’t already, Go to your You Tube Account and SUBSCRIBE to Casey Neistat. Right Now. Today. Now, Right Now !!
I’ve learned, at this point in my life that, maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.
That is so freaking true for me right now.
Tonight we talked about Honesty. Honesty is one word that appears early in How It Works:
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 demand 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.
Before I say anything else, we must begin this discussion with the fact that we are all HUMAN, we are FALLIBLE, and we all make MISTAKES. Alcoholism is a human disease, and when we come to the rooms, however damaged and hopeless we are, some tend to forget the human quality and hurriedly ascribe some nasty word to describe fellow humans sitting in the same room with them, forgetting, that at one time, THEY were just as damaged and hopeless as newcomers are.
What have I learned in 49 years of life ?
We are born into families, be they rock solid and honest, or broken and hard pressed for any semblance of honesty or love.
As children and well into our teen years until the day we walk out of that house we were born into, walk out of said house and strike out into the great unknown.
We all carry that around with us, and that taints what we do next, (for many) and how we see the world. For me that was the great challenge. I lacked many things when I left home.
And I see that today.
Knowing all the secrets at home, and watching people live inside a secret and watch them produce a show for the outside world, where they were not their true selves, fucked me up.
My thoughts always centered around, “Well, if this is good for you (read: Your Secrets) then it is good for me.” (Read: What’s Good for the Goose, is Good for the Gander).
Gay IN secret was better than being gay OUT in the world. That was an abomination.
While all the while, I heard my parents demean me and many others, with racist, ethnic and homophobic hatred. In the end I knew I had to go. And I did.
But like I have said before, alcoholism followed me, and so did some seriously bad behavior. Namely, dishonesty, lies, and immaturity.
Honest was not something I aspired to.
In my twenties, I hit several serious situations that put me between a rock and a hard place. At first, I drank to drown. And I failed at coping with suicide. The second, when I got sick, I again, drank to drown, until Todd stepped in.
If he was one thing, he was honest. And I had to get honest to begin with, or there was no future. I learned the hard way what happens when you have to get honest, and remain silent for your own good, because the truth would cost you a lover, a home, a job, a family, and your friends.
Been there Done that …
When people show up, they bring with them everything that happened to them, everything they believe, and everything they have lost. Hope is the last thing on many minds in the beginning. And if we are honest with you, life is not a dress rehearsal, and this is not a trial run, there are no do overs.
This is it. You only get one shot. So you better make it a good shot.
Sadly, many don’t learn this the first time around. I surely did not.
Almost fifteen years later, I am still working on my Good Shot.
Honesty is something I struggle with every day. Honestly, I’ve expected better of people, and hoped in people to rise and grow up, when they are not able to do so. I’ve held onto idealistic expectations, that I will never see “This side of heaven.”
I have known for a while now, that when I turned fifty, I was no longer going to be willing to wait for people who are not part of my life today, to become part of my life. Because, as a wise man said to me tonight, “Twenty five years later, is a long time to make an amend to someone that might be sunk in their way of life, and that outcome be anything else but a big HUGE disaster.”
Good for me, my spiritual director cut me to the chase and made me see, how I was not being Honest with myself or GOD. Withholding my trust in God, and thinking that my will was the better will, and that God did not have the right answer, because the answer I have long wanted had not come YET, yet I was willing to hold on until it came, come hell or high water.
Over the years, being Gay and POZ, I watch people, when I tell the truth. I watch what they do, and I listen to what they say. And it is in what they Don’t Do and what they Don’t Say that I find appalling.
Sober people are just as guilty of this kind of behavior as those who live on the outside.
Today, I know what I know. And I’ve seen what I’ve seen. And I know, for damned sure, who I want to hang around, and who I don’t. They say that “Who we are is directly related to the top five people we have in our lives.”
Rafa is right up there at the top of my five list.
When we come, we bring what we have. And we cope the best way we can, based on each of our abilities to do that. Making sobriety the first priority, when we bring life into the room with us, is the challenge in making sobriety work, Honestly.
I was ready, this time around, to do whatever it took, at what ever cost, no matter what.
And I will have, very soon, fifteen years of making that system work for me. I have accrued all those years of work, honesty as I was able, and truth as I spoke, and love and care where it mattered to give away.
Not Many People are interested in my honest attempt to be a good human being.
And I have to let that be.
I know my elder friends who I speak to and trust implicitly are all on their journeys. My elder man is heading towards 65 soon, and my elder lady friend is heading towards 63, I am headed towards 50, my spiritual director just hit 53.
We are all trying to figure out wisdom of our times. We are all trying to figure out what we are supposed to know, and what is coming around the bend. I know what happened in my twenties, my thirties, and my forties.
I hit sobriety at 34. Wisdom did not begin to set in until I hit 40. I’m not sure what is going to happen when I hit 50. We all know what happened to some, who have hit the 70 mark. They got OLD very fast, became despondent, they suffer from old age that came on quite suddenly, and tragically. I don’t know but I watched what happened, I watched several of my friends age FAST. And they have faded into obscurity, by their own choices.
I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of old ideas and old expectations.
Sometimes being honest is not the wisest counsel.In certain situations.
Today I had a conversation with a friend, who is not in a good space, so I’ve been on top of that with her. She made a decision today that was detrimental to her, despite what we’ve been through together, and I know why she did what she did, and I could not be totally honest with her, because I am not her, and I am not in control of anyone but myself.
The only honest thing I could say was, Do you think that choice was wise ? Good or Bad ?
The scales of the past fall from us, the longer we work on ourselves. And truth and honesty comes in stages, and not all at once, because we are HUMAN, and we can only progress forwards, with TIME, WORK and with FAITH. As we are able, with what we have at each moment we need it.
I see that wisdom now, about how dishonestly I began my adult life. And just how long it took me to figure all that out.
That is twenty eight years later …
Better late than never.
I would rather you be honest with me, than give me the silent treatment or ignore me. Some of my friends just walk away. I’m not sure why, because I work very hard at relationships, it’s just that for some of my friends, I don’t have that kind of relationship, let’s say, that I do with my best friend or my husband.
Certain friends of mine when I ask them to be honest with themselves and me, have turned around and told me to go fuck myself.
One, they can’t be honest in recovery, And Two, they can be honest in telling me to go fuck myself.
That doesn’t make sense to me.
You cannot be all things to all people, its just not possible.
I’m honestly working on being better at honesty, all the way round.
How Free Do You Want to Be ???
Here we are, the last day of the Labor Day Holiday Weekend. The official end of summer here in North America. It is September. In a matter of weeks, Thanksgiving will be here, and that yearly crazy push for Christmas begins in Montreal.
The fun here is .. To see who puts up Christmas decorations up first ???
More on that later.
Rafa said to me the other night, that I haven’t been writing very much, and that is true. Spending inordinate time in M.A. does not lend to writing about sobriety so much, because of the few people we are and the sameness of every discussion we have had over the summer.
Not to mention, I curtailed my A.A. meetings, because my time was necessary to keep three meetings open all summer long.
Today I have a treat for you.
We are going to talk about Step Work. But before I do, a quote …
“Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol. The sensation is so elusive that, while they admit it is injurious, they cannot after a time differentiate the true from the false. To them, their alcoholic life seems the only normal one. They are restless, irritable and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks – drinks which they see others taking with impunity. After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomena of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.”
“One feels that something more than human power is needed to produce the essential psychic change. The aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. Many types do not respond to the ordinary psychological approach.”
The Doctors Opinion
We read this section of the Doctor’s opinion last night. And very soon after the discussion began, it took a serious turn when one of our guys asked some questions about “when is it going to happen for me, because right now, nothing is happening, the second question was when are these damned promises going to start coming true for me ???”
We shifted from the topic of the book, to sharing experience, strength and hope with him.
When these two questions come up, people laugh, because we know what the answers are, and it is the same answer for both … T.I.M.E.
I know for me, that in total, all The Promises took 13 years, THIRTEEN years, to all come fully round. When is it going to happen? well, root yourself to a meeting, commit to some service, SIT and STAY for a while, (well really, a LONG time) and watch other people come in, sit down, and get sober.
I believe that there is genetic information in my body, one chromosome, that is four letters long, and that gene is M.O.R.E. Do we have the MORE gene, some of us?
Because I sure as shit do.
They say we need an entire psychic change to get sober and it stick.
I can say without a doubt that when I had my first drink, there was a psychic change. I was an alcoholic from the get go, because it started with one, but always turned into MORE.
I love MORE.
I mean, really, ONE, is that it ? No, give me MORE.
When I started using drugs, it was the same thing … One joint? No, MORE please !!!
Just the same, when I came to the end of my slip, and had had my last drink, I prayed for the first time, in like forever, to be honest. I really did not think about God at all, nor did I utter one word in prayer, up until that point.
But when I did, I experienced a psychic change.
I really have not desired for a drink, in a long time. But today, in 2016, yesterday, in fact, I said, during my 5th, that I felt like I had just put the drink down, in the sense that, certain shifts and changes in my life recently, give me that feeling like I am at the beginning all over again.
How Free Do You Want to BE ???
The great thing about a best friend, is that we can talk. About anything and everything. And Rafa and I did that, often, and for hours at a time. So my Step Four was very short.
A few resentments to speak about. What was more prominent was my FEARS list. That took much longer to suss out.
In working on the program I am on, with my sponsor, she has unique wisdom and cheat sheets she uses to mine my step work for GEMS. She has what is called a “TURN AROUND” sheet that expands feelings, defects and shortcomings. This sheet has each root word, and listed below them are the expansive list of associated terms that go with those words.
This was a great help. And from start to finish, 3 hours later, I had had a psychic shift, because when we finished, she said the look in my eyes was different than when I had first walked in.
I was FREE !!!
This walk towards freedom has been long in coming. And started with Rafa, long ago, and continued with him, and my spiritual director. Not to mention, my discussions with another spiritual mentor here in Montreal, who helped me in understanding the minutiae of Forgiveness.
So, I am in this space of “Change.” Letting go of those final vestiges of the past, meaning people, places and things, and learning what that feels like to once in for all,
LETTING IT ALL GO …
I don’t know what that feels like, but I am in the first stages of finding out, and like I said, it feels like I just put the drink down, again. I know this feeling, from the past. Yes, it is unnerving, but getting sober is a long term proposition and also, nobody said this was going to be easy.
The only thing you have to change when you get sober is EVERYTHING !!!
It is just NOT a One Off event.
The longer we are sober, and each time we work our steps, from different directions and methods, if we are diligent and work hard, and be honest, psychic changes will happen, again and again.
It is all very humbling to be honest.
I want to be the right man, the man I want to be. I’m not sure what that looks like, but if I had to be honest, the man I am, is directly related to the men I have in my life today.
Those eternal questions men ask of themselves, and of others ?
- Who am I ?
- Am I doing this right ?
- How do I know when I have arrived ?
- What is a real man, in who he is, what he is, how he becomes who he is ?
- And my favorite, “When does a boy become a man?”
Step work really works.
I am seeing things I have never seen before, but I am now feeling feelings I have felt before, in a new context. Scary, but good in the same way.
For Leah, she just wanted the love of her husband, JacobRemember, Jacob thought that Leah’s younger sister Rachel was beautiful. Jacob had been tricked into marrying Leah when he wanted Rachel..
Genesis 29:14-3531 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon..34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..For Leah, she was not loved, something which she craved. So she did what women of that time were to do, have babies, male babies. And she did it really well. She thought that if she had God plus her husbands love, she would have all she needed..And so she kept trying to gain his love, by producing male babies..“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”.“Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”.Each new baby you see her heart torn out that maybe now Jacob would love her. But he never did..All these sons she was producing, and the reason was to gain the love and respect of her husband. She craved his love and affirmation just like many of us do today. She was willing to try the best that she could to gain his love. But it didn’t work..We think if only we could have the love of someone close to us, then it all would be ok, and life would be good or better or we would feel heard. But that equation never worked for poor Leah. And it really doesn’t work for us either..And then we see with her last son, a shift in her heart..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..This last time her focus was not on her husbands love, but on her God. Her heart changed and she decided to focus her needs her value, on God who was worthy of praise..And when she did that shift, Judah was born. When she stopped trying to gain value and love from her husband, and just from God, life came. The line that Jesus would be born into, came through that line of Judah. Life came then and there.And interestingly enough, Rachel would die in childbirth and Jacob was buried with Leah..God took notice on the unloved Leah (and he took notice on the “unloved” Jeremy too). When she stopped trying to gain Jacobs love, she was free. When she decided to gain her value and self worth from God, who was worthy of praise, she was free.
Hello peoples, how the hell are you ? It’s been a while. I’ve spent the better part of these many days unpacking and thinking about life in general.
I’ve been sitting in a place of gratitude and respect and pride that I have for where I am, how I got here, and just what it means to really savor, Citizenship. My experience sitting on Parliament Hill with my best friend, listening to Oh Canada being sung, meant a great deal to me personally and spiritually.
I’ve been trying to understand what it meant to attend a Pride Event, after so many years, NOT attending pride at all. Pride twenty five years ago, is not Pride in 2016. Everything changes. The mission of Pride, every year, is a gathering of people, who want to be seen, want to be heard, want to be respected and want to be legitimized.
I expected to see, people like me. Men and Women from my time period, who came, survived, and are still alive to celebrate life. That did not happen. I did not see many men from my specific range of experience. I did not see any mention of People living with HIV, however, we collected package after package of specially wrapped condoms.
What I did see is many young people. Boys, Girls, Gays, Lesbians, Trans, Bisexuals. What struck us odd was the militant lesbians, especially one very outspoken black militant lesbian at the Dyke March Protest.
The trans bathroom issue was front and center. The black-white divide is alive and well. The pushing out of privileged white men, opting of course for the more politically correct minority groups, within the LGBT community.
What I think they lack in realization is that the LGBT community began as a minority group, marching for acceptance, inclusion and respect. And we have passed through those times as the LGBT community grew in number and visibility over the last two decades.
AIDS has come and gone. And is not the hot button issue it was just a mere two decades ago. What do these young people know of AIDS ? Not One Idea. Most of the kids we saw at Pride in Ottawa are young enough to have been born in recent years, never having to see or participate in the real fight for life.
So while in Ottawa, the Big Wide LGBT community is right back where it started for this new age. Pockets and small communities of young people marching for their own causes, which are today’s Hot Button Issues.
The politics and issues of the past, are no more. Our community has evolved, as the binary male/female, gay/straight, simple issues of sexuality has blossomed into what we see today and the FLUIDITY of Sexual orientation. This notion of Fluidity has broadened the spectrum of people and personalities. We’ve moved from a few voices of change, to an entire spectrum of voices fighting to be heard and legitimized.
Very complicated. And I am not the person to illuminate these topics. But a few of my friends, today, are much more well versed on this discussion. I cannot speak for what I don’t understand or fully comprehend the minutiae of the sexes.
Suffice to say, Pride … There is a difference.
How free Do You Want To Be ?
It has been a few weeks, working a new round of steps with my new sponsor. I, along, with one of my lady friends, sit on Sunday evenings before the meeting, and we do step work together.
The last few months have been trans formative. I know now, how free I want to be. Because I understand, with certain hindsight and perspective now, where I want to go because I am willing now to go to any length for spiritual freedom.
When you have new eyes on the book, and The Work, after so many years, reading and reading and re-reading, over and over again, one of my friends, tonight, said that this round of steps is teaching us to be efficient in learning How It Works, to be able to Give it Away to our sponsees.
Within our group of intrepid steppers, we all agree, in one way or another, that we are just tired of ourselves, and the things we cling to, not because we are blind to them, but because we have been made aware of just how insidious alcoholism is, and what it does to us emotionally, mentally, bodily and spiritually.
Today, I am prepared to walk away from the area of my life that has been fruitless for the whole of my life. Rafa and I spent weeks and months talking together about life, family and my book manuscript that is sitting on my dining room table right now.
I get it. We are all human. And the whole journey through my forties has been a journey of wisdom and understanding. I know, where I come from, and what makes people tick. I know the roles we all played in making this life what it became.
I am the only one, who is clean and sober today.
I can’t save anyone.
I am not Jesus Christ.
In a sort of way, I feel an amount of guilt for leaving people in a bad situation, when I decided to leave and not look back. I am guilty of hoping and denying God’s truth from reality. I know, that for the whole of my life, God has been with me, and has given me what I needed, when I needed it, in certain truth order.
But I was holding on to my will, in this one area, denying God’s will and hoping for my own will to manifest. It is time to let it go. Turn my will over to God in ALL areas of life, and not just some.
You cannot be ” Just a little Pregnant …”
So that is a thing.
Our young people are back from their summer vacations and jobs. And in the coming days, we will be sorting out meetings, jobs and money. It’s time to hand over responsibility to someone else for a while.
Fall is on its way. Cooler night temps are coming little by slowly.
THERE ARE ONLY 118 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS …
Pride in Montreal came to and end tonight with a massive T- Dance that ends in just an hours time. This afternoon, the 10 anniversary edition of the Montreal Pride Parade Stepped off, just around the block from home.
I watched the parade go from my balcony. My Pride event will come next weekend, when I attend Pride Ottawa in the Nations Capitol. Our Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was here today and marched in our parade, as he has been marching in all the Pride Parades in Canada so far. Next weekend he will march in Ottawa. And I will be there with Rafa. I have my outfit all picked out and ready to go.
I noticed just now, looking at the weather, that this week, all week, we will see mid teens overnight, and day time temps in the mid twenties. It is gradually cooling off here. Canada’s East has been in dire need of rain. Yesterday, and well into last night, it rained, not just rained, but poured down cats, dogs and little fishes rain. I got soaked at the meeting last night.
Our young people are on their ways back to Montreal. One friend is in Calgary right now, having left Vancouver last night around 11 pst. I had called her around 2 am our time last night as she was boarding her first bus leg.
By the end of next week, we will have all of our folks back from their summer jobs around Canada.
Our little Big Book Group met today for the last reading for Step One, next week everybody is away, which means we crank through How It Works in two weeks time.
I’ve extended The Work to one of our men in the other fellowship last night, so he is cranking through the preliminary reading material.
Tonight, at the meeting we read through page 94 – 96, and working with others. It was good discussion. I spent some time with an old friend after the meeting, trying to forge connections within my circle of friends. My circle of friends all know each other.
Funny, that whenever I talk to Rafa, he asks about another friend of ours, and when I speak to that other friend, he asks me about Rafa. I feel like a push me – pull me. So I suggested to both tonight, that maybe they should start talking together again, between themselves, since Rafa moved away, his friends here don’t call as much as they should.
The wisdom on “Connection” is a thread I am trying to weave for my friends. We have had a good start with that here among the guys here, now I need them to reach out to their friends in other places on a more regular basis.
A good night was had by all.
One more week of work then I am off to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.
Happy Pride …
Though many theologians hold that sudden spiritual experiences amount to a special distinction, if not a divine appointment of some sort, I question this view.
Every human being, no matter what his or her attributes for good or evil, is a part of the divine spiritual economy. Therefore, each of us has their place, and I cannot see that God intends to exalt one over the another.
So it is necessary for all of us to accept whatever positive gifts we receive with a deep humility, always bearing in mind that our negative attitudes were first necessary as a means of reducing us to such a state that we would be ready for a gift of the positive ones via the conversion experience.
Your own alcoholism and the immense deflation that finally resulted are indeed the foundation upon which your spiritual experience rests.
Bill W. Letter, 1964
The time has come in our circle of intrepid young men for much needed change. This summer has not been kind to our small fellowship. And retreading the same mundane literature in one fellowship, is not the same as retreading old literature in another.
The main corpus of the Big Book has not changed since the day those words were printed in the 1930’s. But the wisdom of its writers was genius. Reading from the first 164 pages gives a wealth of wisdom. And over the past four years, a growing number of folks in the Montreal A.A. fellowship have been introduced to people from other places, who see ideas and words and the writing of the Big Book, in ways, we, here, do or have not, in the past.
When I met Bob in 2012, He introduced me to The Work. At that same event, over 300 people were introduced to the Same Work. Maybe a handful of folks went home and did as we were shown. I did, at least.
Now this Summer, I met another man from New York, who is working with a primary small group of people, reading the book, and doing The Work, anew.
The Big Book is written in a way that, beginning with The Book, at large, can be drawn down to chapters, and further into pages, then further into paragraphs, and finally into sentences. The book is written in a certain fashion, with certain reason and process.
When you add further “in depth” homework, questions to ask ones self, working along side a sponsor who is IN the primary small group, doing the work themselves, miracles happen.
In our other fellowship, Life With Hope, is just a book, that has the twelve steps and traditions and a number of stories, akin to the Big Book format. There is no retreading Life With Hope. It lacks the wisdom writing and the function of the book, to be gleaned for new wisdom, as the Big Book offers.
Some of our men, have realized that “If nothing changes, Nothing Changes.” And I’m about at the end of my journey, as mentor with the most time banked.
The problem with the fellowship(s) is this … In today’s day and age, addiction crosses many boundaries. The oldsters, who have remained, in A.A., most of them have singular problems, and they came and rooted in the “rooms.”
Over the last fifteen years, I have seen dual addictions come into A.A. and years ago, speaking of dual addiction, or uttering the word DRUGS, in ones share, was met with anger, resentment, and the person who uttered that dirty word, was shown the door.
Usually, they never came back.
Today, in certain meetings, speaking about dual addiction has become more commonplace. Peoples sensibilities have softened. Because, we must meet the times with equal concern and try to be accepting and welcoming.
Some do, but Some DO NOT.
Before other (A) meetings opened, A.A. was the only route to recovery. That is IF you found your way to our rooms. And there are, today, many routes to recovery. The fellowship is not the only way to find freedom from addiction.
Tonight, I talked with some of my friends at the regular Friday Night meeting, because we really need some additional man/woman power, for our floundering M.A.meetings. What I got in return was … addicts, who cross many addiction lines, stick to certain groups, for certain reasons. That is a logical answer, because they have found some solidarity with others in the same boat.
Men and women who were equal opportunity users of many drugs, pick the strongest affinity with the most commonality. That is N.A./ C.A. or M.A. so forth and so on.
Even if they cross several boundaries, they do not cross meeting lines into the lesser of their evils. Many just don’t see the need to add just One More Meeting. Even if I asked them to participate, none of my friends are inclined to do so.
That has been a long standing problem. When the needs of one group cannot be met, by bringing in fresh folks to share experience, strength and hope, the wealth of existing experience only goes so far, before we hit the bottom of the wisdom and experience bank.
You can only tell the same story so many times, without fresh wisdom, and if you do that your story becomes boring and useless, and those around you go looking for something different, because you are retreading the same material and not adding to it.
That is where our little fellowship is right now.
Our barrels are empty. And not all of my guys, hit other meetings, other than the ones we provide three times a week, even if the topic changes along with the type of meeting.
We are tired and burned out. We need to replenish our banks with fresh knowledge, wisdom and sober education. So it goes, I have told my guys that if they want to remain clean and sober, sitting in a stagnant room, is not going to get them anywhere. They need to hit other meetings, IF and ONLY IF, they have commonality with another fellowship.
Most drug users, have crossed several boundaries. Alcohol, other drugs, pills, and other mind and mood altering substances. Some pot heads, drink, still. Some have come to the realization that clean and sober, means, just that: Clean and Sober.
So it goes.
“Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I’ve given all I’ve got at this point. When our young people, who have been away all Summer return in the next week or so, those of us, on the front lines, will step back and go fill our banks, while they step up and take the reins, so to speak.
Tonight, we talked about Gifts. And God. And Sobriety.
Bill believes that God would not exalt one over another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. And with what God gives us, each in our own ways, should accept, and have some humility in the grand scheme of things.
A friend of mine spoke about a conversation he had with one of his friends the other day. He asked his friend if he had heard from God that day, and the answer came back,
When I am listening for Him.
Life is one Big Spiritual Experience, if you want to see it that way. Some do, Some don’t.
Another friend talked about alcoholics and addicts being The Chosen Ones. That pushes the envelope into arrogance. Once you cross that line into ego and arrogance, you’ve lost your humility and grace.
That kind of shit is the first thing that many people recognize right off the bat.
I can ponder my story, now, with the eyes and experience I have, and see where God had stepped into my life and did for me what I could not do for myself. And that means that in all cases, it was another human being who was at the right place at the right time, to get me through certain periods of time in my life.
I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy, death and suffering to last me ten lifetimes.
I know, for me, that when I got sick and was going to die, that had Todd not stepped up and did what he did for me, I would have died like all my other friends who did.
Out of all those people, Todd chose to help me. And Saved my Life.
I can say, without a doubt, that that was a Certain God divined decision.
For my entire life, well back in my teens, I was searching for God. I went to church, I prayed, I attended Seminary, and failed.
When I put down the drugs and the drink for the last time, when I was beaten and broken, and had no where else to turn, I prayed once again. Because up until that point, I had not uttered a prayer, once.
I knew it was the end for me, if I did not STOP.
I prayed for an alcoholic, and that alcoholic appeared. Another God ordained decision.
Today I serve my God to the best of my ability. I do what I can, every day to help my friends and fellows. Even if I don’t want to, I know, that if I just Do the Next Right Thing, God will provide.
We hear, many times from both men and women, that when they come in, bashed and broken, many feel unworthy of anything like freedom or happiness or life. Then they hear the Promises, and they come back for more, waiting for them to come true for them as well. I heard a particular woman tonight say that early on, she felt as if she deserved nothing and was hurting inside. Those feelings of unworthiness are common among many folk, men and women alike. And I’ve heard the slogan that people have repeated to me countless times since I first got sober…
Stick around until the miracle happens.
When I first got sober, a woman who worked at the associated rehab, where I was getting sober, would tell me that every day. The miracle was coming rather quickly. Todd was on the case, and every day that he gave me a reason to hang on and to choose life over death, the miracle was happening. That miracle is still ongoing, because I am still alive. twenty two years later.
Come, Sit, Stay …
You will find that power greater than yourself.
The obsession will leave you, I promise.
And You Too will see how HP, or God, as I call Him, will work miracles in your life as well.
**** **** ****
God never fails us.
It is we who fail God.
For many years God had been trying to get my attention. And I wasn’t aware that I really needed HIM when I was off the beam. Because when I was in SELF, I did not need God. But God waited, and through trial and error, several times He got my attention when needed. It took me until this time around to really consider, living by God’s will and not my own. I never knew that turning my life over, to the degree I did, TOTALLY, that life would be like this. I never imagined it that way, way back then.
I thought that I would find my way “OUT THERE” in the Other World. That included drugs, alcohol and warped thinking. When I moved here, to Montreal, I said to God that I would do this, if HE would take care of me. I really had no idea what I was going to do, when I got here. When I walked into St. Leon’s Parish hall, I settled in for the long haul and i waited upon God. I was steadfast and obeyed every word that was given to me. And here I am, almost fifteen years later.
God did not disappoint.
The rooms provide. I have not had to go outside the room for ANYTHING in all my years of sobriety. You can take that to the bank.
Be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready for it, it is going to come, and usually in spades.
But on the flip side, if you get up and want a SHIT DAY, you will get your shit day, because that is where you go in your head.
It is our choice, what we choose to connect with on a daily basis.
Because we all know, and the book says,
All we have is a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of our Spiritual Condition.
If I don’t hear from God directly, that just means I need to hit a meeting and go listen to my friends. Because one way or another, the words will come, I just have to be attuned to listen for them.
That is, to this day, a work in progress.
One day at a time.
My weekly meeting schedule took a huge hit over the last few months. I spend the bulk of my meeting time in M.A. these days. So my sober meetings are exclusively Sunday’s and Friday nights.
I have not written a whole deal about sobriety since my melt down in June. It has just been a very tense time, and I needed to return to basics, until I felt the emotional shift back into equilibrium.
I’ve stuck very close to my friends, who saw me through this period of time. I stayed away from most old timers, opting to only seek the counsel of two, my temporary sponsor, and another friend, I have yet to sit with. We haven’t been able to connect, since the “incident” but that meeting is in the works.
I learned early on, this time around, what needs to be done, when your world gets turned upside down in sobriety. The totally bad news about sobriety is this …
The time will come, and IT WILL COME, that something happens, either to you, or someone you love, or someone you know, or people you know, or a community you identify with, and you will feel. Let me say that again … YOU WILL FEEL.
Now, not every alcoholic or addict is going to respond well to this truth, because, when the chips fall, if you don’t have a sturdy plan of saving action, YOU WILL DRINK or USE AGAIN.
Now that I am on the other side of a serious sober meltdown, we talked about the “Bad Day” tonight. Sadly, I am the only long time member in the M.A. fellowship, at the moment. All of my friends are inside of five years, and some inside their first year, so I listen to them talk with close attention.
When all else fails, and the chips fall, you can do one of two things:
- You can go back out and self destruct OR
- You find the path through the fire and you live.
I know what to do, for me, when times get tough. I get out of the house/ I go to meetings/ I call my friends/ I talk to people/ I open/ I close/ I make coffee/ I set chairs/ I serve others.
I know this works, because I have used this method without fail for almost fifteen years now, and it has never failed me.
Now that I am on the other side, this experience I had was specific. I kind of went “off line.” I was showing up to meetings, but I was only halfway there, mentally and emotionally. I had conversations with friends, that in hindsight, were half conversations, and I did speak with those friends as it happened, and they remained with me, and they sat with me and they understood me, and they let me be me, even when I was only half there.
Those are real friends.
We need to know what to do, when things get really rough in sobriety, and the only thing we can do is wait for it to happen to us, then walk through that experience, learn from that experience, “in real time” then share it openly.
Traversing tragedy and Trauma differs from person to person. Because we all deal with adversity in our own ways. I don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on formal therapy, because, in the rooms, I get it for free.
Professional help, when needed, is needed, and should ALWAYS be an option, when necessary. Never go it alone, if you can’t go it alone. Sometimes we need that professional point of view to make sense of life at times.
My circle of friends are battle tested men and women, whom I trust with my life.
I knew, that I was not alone, at any point during this period.
I guess I had to find the end of this pain and emotion. And I guess that began when some guy pulled me aside after a Friday meeting, and said that he was tired of listening to me talk about it over and over.
I was like, “thank you for sharing …
” I hope you never find yourself in the shitter and need a safe place to fall, until you yourself can get back up …”
I just kept doing what I was taught to do, to insure that I would not drink or use again. And I did it naturally. I have a “Good Habit” routine now.
I’ve watched too many of my friends go back out and drink / use again. I watched a handful of my friends die, because they crashed and burned, and did not do what we were all taught to do, by those who knew what to do, instead taking life on, by themselves, taking back control, and killing themselves in the process.
Sometimes the adage: DO AS I SAY AND NOT AS I DO, applies
Other times the adage : IF YOU DO AS I SAY, YOU MAY STAY CLEAN AND SOBER.
The only way the second adage work is IF you have the experience to impart.
If you don’t, then shut up …
There are some folks, I’ve known, all along, through the years, were people I knew were sick people. Those who I stayed away from. Then there were those I gravitated towards because it was an opportunity.
Sadly, a major opportunity turned into a MASSIVE CRASH AND BURN.
The wisdom of the old timer is this …
YOU MAY HAVE THE TIME, BUT YOU MIGHT NOT NECESSARILY BE SOBER.
A friend of mine, a few months sober, was working with a friend, and they handed him the chair of the Friday night meeting. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Monday he went out and drank, and drank all week, and called me at 5:30 this evening to tell me that.
I asked him why he didn’t call his sponsor before he took that first drink, his answer was this … He does not connect with him, ergo, does not trust him, ergo, he drank again.
But when he finished, he thought to call ME instead of his sponsor.
Hopefully, he will be sober tomorrow night.
We give folks our numbers to make sure they are connected, Whenever they need it.
Sadly, most folks call a few times, then stop. Some never call at all, and they never come back to meetings.
If someone is SURE AS SHIT going to drink or use, they sure as shit aren’t going to call before they do it. Some, do call, when they get to the end.
What they do with our advice now matters.
They either want to stop or they don’t.
Thank God my bad day came to an end.
As it eventually would.
It has been a long birthday day. Which began with breakfast with my sister in laws daughter, Hubby’s niece, so I guess that makes her my niece as well ??? Hmmmm.
Later around noon, we hit the theatre for the noon showing of Absolutely Fabulous.
When a long running, successful, small screen television series finishes its run on tv, and had the numbers and a handful of seriously good episodes, sometimes producers figure that a Silver Screen adaptation of said television show is possible.
Sometimes turning a television show into a movie works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Absolutely Fabulous is a DOESN’T …
If you are going to see a full feature film presentation, then you will be sadly disappointed. If you are going to see the ensemble cast, together again, then you might enjoy this film, along with the assorted cameos, tossed in here and there.
About halfway through the movie, I seriously thought about getting up and going, but since hubby bought the tickets, I sat till the end.
Nuff said …
I had a few hours before my evening event, so we hung out and had a nap, before I had to leave again.
It being the last Sunday of the month, we had a speaker for Step Seven.
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step Seven is the exercise in Humility. Something the world lacks, and is the basis for all the twelve steps.
When I think about Humility, I think of the story I often tell when sharing on this topic.
Not long after I got sick, many years ago, I was working at the bar. I learned many lessons there, about life, myself, others, and survival.
Sadly, In the short term, I did not figure out how to marry these lessons, with my first stint in sobriety. Had I made that connection, and remained, in a few weeks, I would have celebrated 22 years sober. Alas, I did not make it.
So, back to my story …
On certain Saturday night, the bar is packed, and it is late in the night.
I walk into the bathroom and a toilet is overflowing with piss and shit, with water all over the floor. I run up to my boss an start bitching about the pig men in the bar and that they stopped up a toilet, again…
He was like, Go Clean the Toilet and Stop Your Bitching !!!
Being the only “bar back – cleaner” cleaning up messes was my job.
I pull on my rubber gloves and fish out a plastic cup that is shoved into the toilet backwards, that had blocked up the toilet, and none of the guests, saw fit to NOT put that cup in the toilet. They did it on purpose.
I do the job … Not at all happy … But I learned a valuable lesson or two.
If I need a lesson in Humility or Being Right Sized, All I need is to think about that toilet.
The other lesson was more personal.
When you got AIDS, (had you back then), the stages usually went from, healthy human, into sick human, into incontinence, and having to wear diapers, when you went out in public.
Several of my friends lost their ability to remain dry and continent.
The lesson was this … If you learned how to clean up someone else’s shit, if you ever got that sick, in the end, and were in a diaper, I would know how to clean up after myself.
Gratefully, I never got that sick, ever …
Lesson Learned …
It was a great day. We had cake, and guests from my original Home Group on Miami Beach, who know my friends, who still live there, and hit that meeting, the SOBE 10.