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Posts tagged “Humility

Friday: Humbly, On Our Knees …

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In the Original Manuscript of the Big Book, on page 26 of that manuscript, Step Seven reads: Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings, holding nothing back.

There are such religious notions, peppered throughout the Original Manuscript. Not all of them made it into the first printing of the Big Book in 1939.

I actually have a First Edition Big Book, printed in 1939.

Some of the more drastic “suggestions” that might seem, just a little too harsh for the sensibilities of those who see the Judeo-Christian influences in the Big Book, a problem in getting sober, were scrubbed from the final copy that went to print.

In one pass at my Steps a few years ago, in reading the Twelve and Twelve, approached Step Seven with this process: Read Step Seven, and find every word Humble or Humility.

Step Seven is the Step where we encounter this term. Humility.

  • What does it mean,
  • What does it look like,
  • And how do I find it for myself ?

For me, as I have stayed sober, Humility has been defined and refined over my years.

One friend tonight said that for him, “Humility was the recognition that he was not as big as he thought he was, but also that he was not as small as he thought he was either.”

Others talk about being “Right Sized” What does “Right Sized” mean ?

My definition of Humility, at this moment, means, “I don’t know.” I also add that, one specific old timer has offered to me that, “If I think I know something, I’d better sit down, and keep my mouth shut.”

Humility asks us to be Vulnerable to that Power Greater than Ourselves.

We constantly work towards turning it over, to that Power, which I choose to call God, every day.

Humility has been the lesson that has been hammered home in my life over the last year.

When the Orlando Tragedy happened, I threw in my spiritual towel and I cursed God. I fell apart in public, and fell to my knees, sobbing, pleading God to help me, because I was bereft, and had no idea how to begin to figure out why I was on my knees sobbing.

It all begins, when we get on our knees.

We might not know the reason why ? But to defer to God, and set one’s self before God in humble supplication, begins on one’s knees.

I learned that in Seminary. Why we prayed, and why we knelt and what it meant as men who came together to learn how to follow God. The men who were leading us, in the end, turned out, not to be the finest example of humility, based on the scandals they caused during their tenures in their priesthoods.

I wanted, so badly, to count myself as a man who would serve God. I made God that promise all those years ago, as a teen-ager, with stars of God in my eyes.

That promise to serve God would take my entire life to figure out.

It has to be the right time, the ground fertile, and I would be able to fulfill that promise, one way or another.

A year ago, I fell to my knees, and was rebuked by a man who was LONG sober, rebuking me that “You think you are so special, that we should treat you differently, You are such a child.”

I could have slapped the shit out of him right then and there. I could have hurt him seriously, in that moment, but my better judgment took over, and I got up, wiped my face and walked away, keeping my mouth shut, and not saying a word or acting on my impulses.

Thank God, Elder Spencer came into my life.

I don’t think I would have made it without him, today.

Sometimes, I have shared, that I need to be Bitch Slapped by God, in order for Him to get my attention.

Oprah has a better definition of this process:

God speaks to us in a whisper. If He whispers and we miss it the first time, He will whisper again. If we miss it the second time, He hits us over the head with a 2 x 4, if we miss Him the third time, finally, He drops a wall on top of us.

I actually lived this out a few years ago.

I’m not sure God was trying to get my attention, with a catastrophic massacre of kids in a nightclub to get me to notice Him. But He had my attention for sure.

Which led to an entire year of trying to find God, after I had cursed Him as I sat where I am sitting right this very moment.

Enter Elder Spencer … There are no coincidences. Only God.

I was there at one time, now I am here.

Now I Know !

The message is loud and clear. My life and sobriety are all about God and His goodness and kindness. I can let go of that old, tired and miserable story.

Sobriety today is about Humility, Faith, Love and the Atonement. 

The Atonement makes everything work.

Without it we are nothing, and can be nothing.

Humbly, on our knees, we asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Holding Nothing Back.


Suffering and Sacrament: On Finding Connection as a Grocery Store Cashier

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Borrowed from: Stephen – S. Bradford Long Blog – Daily Reflection.

Every day, I go to work as a grocery store cashier at a family-owned business in a prosperous region of the more generally depressed Appalachian mountains. This work has transformed my life, not because it is the exciting, high-impact, high-power job so many of us dream about in our twenties and thirties, but because it brings me into direct contact with humanity.

I am sometimes astonished by the suffering, just beneath the surface, that permeates the air. I see it in the grocery store in a way I might not see it in other careers, because all humanity – the miserable and the joyful, the ill and the well, the rich and the poor – need to eat. Therefore, the grocery store is a gathering place where all social lines breakdown. We are united by the commonality of food.

I see a young man – eyes drooping, so thin I can see his spine poking against his teeshirt, dragging himself through the aisles as if he is dragging a tank behind him. I watch him through the aisles, I check him out at the register, and he is often rude, empty. Being a depressive myself, I know the marks of an inner Hell that is tearing him to shreds.

I watch people dying slowly and miserably of terminal illnesses that they cannot afford to address. Some are full of bile, their regret cast before them like a long shadow, while others are trying to soak up as much life as they can.

I remember the old woman who received a phone call while in my line to inform her that her grandson had just committed suicide. She wept, and I listened hard to her stories of her grandson. She thanked me, and went on her way.

I remember the man who wandered through my line, tears in his eyes. He looked at me as if he were starving for something I couldn’t give him, and he said, “My best friend just died of a heroin overdose. Please, please, value your friends, value every moment you have on this earth.” He wandered out the door, lost in his grief.

An old woman came through me line once, and her cart was full of frozen cakes. She met my eyes. “My daughter just killed herself,” she said. “These frozen cakes were her favorite. I will save them, I will keep them forever.”

I see meth addicts, skeletons of their former selves. I see alcoholics, the smell of whiskey heavy on their breath. I see the mentally ill, talking to people who aren’t there, and I see the homeless, wandering in from the street because we have air conditioning and cheap food. I see shreds of humanity abandoned and forgotten.

I see joy, too. I see the old woman who had finally, after years of saving money, finally got teeth. And, to top it all off, she got an aesthetist to remove all her facial hair. Now she flashes her brilliant smile at everyone she can, and she is radiant with joy. All she ever wanted was teeth, and now she has them.

In this setting, in which new suffering walks through our doors every day, mixed in with the mundane, the regular, the blithely happy, feeding the public is transformed. It’s no longer a chore, but a sacrament. When I hand people whatever nourishing food they’ve chosen off the shelves, I hear the words of Christ, “This is my body, broken for you.”

That everyday moment is transfigured into something sacred, for it is full of the recognition that this is another human soul, and that this human soul is capable of galaxies of silent suffering. That connection with suffering, and that offering up of nourishment – that is holy, that is sacred.

Every day, I am reminded that we all feel pain. We all suffer. We all yearn to be seen. And this realization fills me with a tenderness that words cannot express. I can’t put it into words, this seeing of humanity. I wish I could share this tenderness with everyone I can. I wish I could tell everyone who seems dubious of my work, “no, you don’t understand. Working in a grocery store is not a waste of time. It’s not a waste of my talents. If only you could see what I see.”


Friday: Sacred, is the Room I find in Myself

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There are but two sins … The Lesser, is to get in the way of our own spiritual path. The Greater, is to get in the way of someone else’s spiritual path.

I see humility for today as a safe and secure stance midway between violent emotional extremes. It is a quiet place where I can keep enough perspective and enough balance to take my next small step up the clearly marked road that points toward eternal values.

The reading tonight touches on Arrogance, Attitude and Humility.

Which leads back to yesterdays quote:

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

The Fellowship, early on, was a sordid affair. And thinking about it logically, the Big Book was written towards a certain segment of the population. And in the early years, the Fellowship grew out of trials and errors.

They really did not have a leg to stand on, when it came to knowledge or certainty.

This reading talks about some, early on, who believed they had the “Real A.A.” And that they had a definitive answer to the problem of the drink, and only they could impart this message and that, from the reading, “You better get it…”

A very arrogant approach, don’t you think ?

This reading is dates 1961. The Fellowship came together in 1939. That is only 22 years from inception, to the point Bill wrote this passage for the Grapevine. I imagine that Bill probably mulled over what he was either hearing himself, or from others, who came in contact with the men, whom this reading, refers to.

I don’t know, in my life today, WHO has the definitive answer to recovery. Because I know, for myself, that there are old timers with TIME, but they surely are not sober. There are men and women I respect, who have some time.

All I know is this … Every so often I am introduced to someone who has a method, or a practice, or a way, they work their program. Over the past four or so years, I’ve employed several practices and methods that I know worked for the men and women, I have adopted these practices from.

None of them, we could say are the End All Be All. They are merely, additions to practice and method, to incorporate, along with the Book.

Working with others, is a great way to find out for ones self, that:

No, I don’t know, but I am trying to find out. OK !

I don’t have all the answers, which is why I go to meetings and talk with people I respect, who have a little more experience than I do. We are all souls walking in the same direction, trying to figure it out ourselves.

There is no ultimate authority, except the God of our understanding as He speaks in our Group Conscience.

I know what size my pants are. And I know how big, my head can get if I am not careful.

Keeping it simple and staying out of my head is a daily task.

If either my pants or my head swell to greatly, then I know:

I must decrease so that He may increase.


Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

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Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !


Sunday Sundries – “I’m Paying Attention”

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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 …


Friday – “Complicated”

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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.

UGH …

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.

UGH …

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.

 


Perfectly HONEST ???

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“No one can teach you how to be a storyteller, you have to live to be able to do that.”
Casey Neistat

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.

WRONG !

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 ???


Tuesday – When is Medicinal Marijuana Allowed ?

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When we put down alcohol, because we are alcoholics, we know that we can never pick it back up. And when we stop smoking POT we also know that we can never smoke again.

Times are changing, and the rules of engagement are also changing.

Living with AIDS for so long, in the very first few months, I was given medicinal marijuana because I was told that it would help me eat and bulk up, and not waste away and die.

So I smoked up.

When I stopped drinking – I had to stop smoking and using recreational drugs as well. Until the day my slip began, and I picked up and began using again, only that time, the using was far worse and had serious consequences when I was done.

When I finally relented and stopped drinking, I had not smoked a joint for over a year, the drink still existed, until December of 2001.

Fast Forward to 5:30 a.m. this morning.

I had gone through hubby’s backpack a couple of hours earlier, and found a zip bag, with all the accoutrements a good pot smoker would have.

As his caregiver, when his behavior changes and he becomes despondent and catatonic sitting in the same room, I needed to figure out what was going on.

He’s just been stoned …

When we met and began co-habitating, we got rid of copious amounts of empty beer bottles and all the pot rollers, papers and assorted other things.

Color me surprised when I made this find earlier this morning.

I was LIVID …

Hubby is smoking. He made an executive decision for himself, assuming that because I was clean and sober, that I would judge him and condemn his using, and toss his shit down the toilet. That was my first word in fact. Toss It …

He did not TRUST me.

Since he kept this a secret, I was absolutely angry and pissed off.

I tried to go back to bed, but only tossed and turned. He got up to pee at 5:30 and I called him into the living room and lit into him like a madman.

Words were said. Threats were made. Tears were shed.

Discussion followed.

Many years ago, in the beginning of his Bi-Polar disorder, he was drugged heavily for ten months until we found the mix that worked. During that time, the drugs emasculated him, robbed him of who he was, and left me with someone I did not know on the back end.

I had to mourn that loss, and decided to stick and stay, because I remembered who he was.

Over the last two or so years, his shrink has been trying to get him off all those pills and to give him back some of his “Self.” That has only worked so far.

Hubby found that the odd joint, now and then, made a real difference in his Bi-Polar state (read: manic depression) and his mental functionality, so he kept smoking.

He did this by himself, here at home, when I was not here.

We have a funny service in Montreal. Pot Delivery systems. You call, they deliver.

I’ve heard of this service from some of my guys before who used it themselves.

I may be clean and sober, that doesn’t mean I am a flag toting militant judgmental prick.

I think, when circumstances warrant, and choices of what we want to do for our personal health and well being, that decision IS up to US, and nobody else. Who am I to judge?

If that time came for me, I would want the same latitude and acceptance of the choices I make when the time came. I know, I am not going to mt death miserable and shitting in a diaper, nor deluded with dementia. I have already chosen my exit plan.

What was I supposed to say, after hearing his explanation of why he made that choice, and what it means to his mental functionality and his happiness ?

NO ???

Our Canadian Government is on track to legalize POT across the board in the next few month hopefully. But medicinal marijuana is available here in Montreal.

One can get a compassionate use card from Health Canada, and you can order pot online and have it sent to you through Canada Post.

There is no shame in being KIND and UNDERSTANDING.

Times are changing in many places, and we have to be accepting of those changes, knowing full well, that I cannot drink or smoke. Again.

In the end this is a Page 417 issue …

ACCEPTANCE IS THE KEY TO ALL MY PROBLEMS.


Monday – Psychic Change

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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.


Sunday Sundries: Mother …

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Today Pope Francis Canonized Mother Teresa into Sainthood. What is begun in the church, usually follows certain protocol. And in most cases, the Church is always right.

Whether She is Right or Wrong …

Amid controversy and medical science, The Saint of the Slums was elevated.

I’ve studied the cause for sainthood for a specific handful of men and women, of the Catholic faith, so I am truly familiar with how the process works, how it is carried out, and just how exhaustive that research really is.

I have several books in my library that outlines each process for each human being who is being investigated for sainthood. In University I studied John Paul II. I’ve read every book that has been published, “In university” and “outside of university.”

The question of the validity of miracles that must take place, and are therefore attributed to each “saint in the making” has to be verified several times over. Now we must give the Church her times, because the process for sainthood is long and storied.

And that process has been modified and tweaked, and can even be put on a fast track. We’ve seen, in my generation, what direct sainthood acclimation looks like.

In the case of John Paul II, the day of his funeral, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, made a direct acclimation to their church, that John Paul II be elevated to Sainthood. Once certain elements were satisfied, the process began to elevate him into Sainthood.

I’ve read the book, several times over.

Mother Teresa, was one serious woman, who was friends with the late Pontiff, as you see, if you scroll down on this blog, several photos of them together. I’ve read many books about Mother Teresa. And when I talk about her, I always raise the ire of those who think that I am blind to her controversies, I assure you I am fully aware of all the trash and vitriol that has been aimed at her and myself over the years.

I have a tattoo that I got on my right bicep on my tenth sober anniversary. It is a quote that came directly from the writings from one of her biographies, “Come be my Light.”

The words, “I Thirst…” was, on my first pass, attributed to the story told of Mother Teresa’s relationship with Jesus Christ, when Jesus, on the cross, says, “I Thirst.”

Mother Teresa was oft to talk about how we should thirst for God, ergo Jesus. I took the words from her book, and put them on my body. Only to later find out, via a sober member in the fellowship, who spent time IN Calcutta working in the slums with the poorest of the poor, that the words “I Thirst” are written on the wall, of the Mother House chapel in Calcutta, adjacent to the crucifix on the wall.

This quote is also attributed to Teresa of Lisieux.The “Little Flower.”

When I met said sober member at the Round Up in 2012, and we heard her tell the story of how she went to India, to the Mother House, wanting to meet Teresa, she was terribly shocked when she finally did.

On the fifth day of her visit, Mother Teresa arrived back at the Mother House. She had been away for some time. Lorna, a Manhattan socialite, and the first female auctioneer at the famed Sotheby’s auction house, went to Calcutta, in her fine chino pants, and pressed blouse, made up like a model and her nails brightly painted, approached Mother Teresa on her home turf.

What Mother Teresa said next changed her life and the way she approached the now Sainted woman.

Mother Teresa looked at Lorna and said … Why are you made up like that? Intoning that she was lofty in her approach and that she should sell her fine rich “things” and strip her nails, and give the money to the poor …

What an entrance …

Lorna died not long ago, I remember her fondly in sharing this story. It comes from her own book, The Camel Knows the Way … About her association with Mother.

Mother Teresa was shrewd in her condemnation of worldly things. Many have said that the Missionaries of Charity were/are rolling in money, that she accepted dirty cash from dictators and rulers that were not “above board.” That with all the money in the church or convent coffers she could have done much better, but eschewed wealth at every turn.

This is a serious taint on Mother. Not to mention other accusations that she shielded pedophile priests, with full knowledge of their transgressions. Well, let’s be clear on a few items of order as well … Mother Church, has also been complicit in the shielding and shuffling of pedophile priests from one parish to another, moving them around the countries of origin, and even bring some of them to Rome.

This is not in contention. This is truth.

Many high ranking Holy figures in the church turned a blind eye to abuse, because for some, that tainted the vision of the church, and the human being. And to acknowledge such abuse openly and directly, would be casting aspersions on Holy Mother Church, therefore God Himself.

Right or Wrong, this is fact.

In the pantheon of the Holy of Holies, facts and negative associations, it seems, are ignored on the face of it, not true… That does not mean that truth was not added to the cause for canonization. When all the data is collected, there is a “Devils Advocate” who’s job is to see the flip side of the process, insuring that both sides of an argument is written in the collected works and are bound for posterity and published for mass consumption.

There are many other aspersions I have read recently about the state of the Missionaries of Charity and their austere lifestyles and the lengths Mother Teresa went to, to maintain austerity at any cost, to the detriment and health and well being of her sisters.

The Church is going to do what she does, in spite of and sometimes blindly ignoring the negativity, knowing full well, what controversy exists, in favor of popular acclimation and the faith of community.

We see this notion in the story of George Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. In his story we see the merging of “popular faith of the people” in direct competition with “the faith of Holy Mother Church.” These are two different faith practices. Common in many places in the Southern Hemisphere and South and Central America.

One cannot remove popular culture and religious practice from the people, so Pope Francis, ergo George Bergoglio, had to find a way to marry the two traditions, to bring everybody to the table of Faith in the Church.

In India there is a multitude of faiths and practices.

Mother Teresa was popular culture and popular faith. This factor has to be recognized when we talk about her canonization, in just what this move does to appease popular culture and regional religious communities where she lived, worked and died and brings everyone together in one unified community.

Pope Francis has been making saints in higher numbers than his predecessors at the same time in their papacies. If you study the trend, Pope Francis is making Saints regionally, and for specific countries, and specific communities for specific reasons. He is recognizing popular religious practice, while maintaining Holy Mother Church standards for sainthood.

There is method, reason and rationality to this process, that you would only recognize if you did the research I have into Popes, Saints, and Holy people.

This is why I went to University, to be able to speak with authority on these topics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Final Turning Over …

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Hi brother,
Your email overwhelms my heart. I’ve been sitting with it for days now, just holding it and you there in my heart, and before God.
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Your life journey is epic in size. There has been great cost to you, and much brokenness. Caring and nurturing parents have not been a part of your journey it seems.
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Yes, you know the joy of the little ones calling your name, and so you also know some of the pain of missing their little hugs. Its such a bitter sweet thing. Their love and the distance that separates your heart from theirs. Life and its distances seem to be such a challenge these days.
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Even distances of the heart.
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Your heart distance with your parents is a longing that, as you are seeing, may never be crossed over. I’ve seen aged men long for and crave the love of their moms and dads and it never comes. Never ever comes. And how is the aged man supposed to live with that love gap in their lives?
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Maybe it’s connected with your love for this little girl, Lu Lu.  Perhaps it stirs your own questioning of your parents and how they could so easily reject their little boy?
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The pain you are experiencing, the desire to be heard, the desire for justice, that is all legitimate and real.
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But you may never feel heard this side of heaven.
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How are you to live then with this glaring injustice in your life?
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There is an emotional need in you, in all of us, to be respected. To be loved and cared for, supported and listened to. We crave emotional connections, or intimacy with significant humans in our lives. Our parents, our spouses, our friends.
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And when it is slow in coming, we end up getting our self worth our intimacy our value and love from other places. Maybe from our jobs, maybe from our financial worth. Whatever, but we crave it, we want it.
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For Leah, she just wanted the love of her husband, Jacob
Remember, Jacob thought that Leah’s younger sister Rachel was beautiful. Jacob had been tricked into marrying Leah when he wanted Rachel.
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Genesis 29:14-35
31 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.”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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 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.
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 And so she kept trying to gain his love, by producing male babies.
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 “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.”
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“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.”
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“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.”
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Each new baby you see her heart torn out that maybe now Jacob would love her. But he never did.
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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.
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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.
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And then we see with her last son, a shift in her heart.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
There is something there for you too Jeremy. It is a grief you go through realizing that you will never be heard and received by your parents. That’s real pain. But as you are able to shift your sense of value or self worth or even just being loved, from your parents to God, you gain freedom.
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And there are prayer things you can do to unhook the barbs from your parents that are still hooked into you. Things that I can explain later. But shifting your measure for happiness from the love of your parents to the love of God, is a real start.
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This letter has been a few days in the writing, because its included prayer and some levels of discernment. I believe God is here too, and I’m asking you to prayerfully consider what God may be inviting you to consider. I assure you of my own prayer for you these days.
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It seems like things in your heart are opening up in these love areas these days.
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**** **** ****
This letter from my spiritual director came the other night. I have been engaging in this discussion with him for some time. When we reach Step Three, in The Work, The Book, we pray to turn it over to God, to trust that He has our backs to relieve us of the bondage of self.
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I’ve not been completely “Willing” to let go my need for self will, when it comes to “waiting” for people, who will never affirm, love, nor dignify me, to be who I want them to be.
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I know, for the whole of my life, that God has been doing for me what I could not do for myself. And that is just plain fact. I am here, because of God’s grace and His intervention, by placing the right people, in my life, at the moment of most need, and so here I am.
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 I knew this, all along.
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 Secretly, in my heart of hearts, I’ve been “Waiting to exhale” waiting for the moment when God was going to say YES, to a desire, that clearly was a NO. I admit that the NO was in my rear view mirror. I knew NO, but was unwilling to let go, that part of me that desires love, respect, dignity and validation.
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 That is never going to come, from people I need it to, because of WHO they are and not because of who I am. Never…
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I am so plum stock, lock and barrel tired of holding my delusion of self will any longer.
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I just want to be Free of It. Finally, once and for all.
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I was waiting for permission, in a sort of way from God, to let this go and be ok with it, knowing I exhausted myself totally, and that it was ok, to let it go and walk away, without the guilt, remorse and shame, for not being able to change them.
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I just cannot do this any more.
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In the back of my mind, I feel guilt for leaving people in a bad situation when I left and did not look back. I feel sorry for the way that their humanity was destroyed by trauma, drama and alcoholism. I feel remorse for not being able to change THEM, because what alcoholic, does not want to change others, instead of ourselves? Always trying to run the show and have all the actors hit their cues just right, so the show is a hit, because of OUR control.
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 I cannot save anyone. I am not Jesus Christ.
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The lesson of approval, that is —> over there in the PAGES, is appropriate right about now, and I knew that lesson, because I learned it long ago, yet I was unwilling to allow God the rest of my heart, because of a desire I HAD, that was never going to come to fruition.
I’m tired of waiting to exhale.
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I just need to breathe.

Sunday Sundries – How Free Do You Want to Be ?

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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 …


Friday – Accepting God’s Gifts

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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.

Edit Addition:

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.

 

 

 


Thursday -When A Bad Day Lasts for Months

 

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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:

  1. You can go back out and self destruct OR
  2. 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.

 

 


Sunday Sundries … A Full Heart

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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.