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Posts tagged “Sober

Monday Essay: Twice Gifted

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People who drink and drug, seem to forget their mortality, and their sense of well-being, once we pick up that first drink or a drug. I don’t know a single man or woman who has not said, in a meeting, that before they picked up, said to themselves, “this might kill me!”

It might not kill us right now, but given enough time and abuse, we bypass the jails, we bypass the institutions, and we end up Dead in the Ground.

There are warnings out there, from people in the know, that if you abuse drugs and alcohol, you too will eventually die. And usually quicker, when you play the mortality game with the Sacred Temple, that is our bodies.

A long sober lady friend of mine, who passed away last summer, used to say, about herself that, when she drank, in order to attain a certain goal, she would allow a man to “Touch the Sacred Temple.”

How many of us think about that fact ? None really, until it is too late.

I have many friends who tempted fate, with their excessive drug and alcohol use. We number in the double digits on Monday night. In many other meetings, those numbers are quite higher, because some of my long sober friends, tell horror stories about themselves. That is knowledge in the bank, for sure.

My sponsor, for instance, spent the last portion of his using days in New York City, shooting up and having sex. When he met his now wife, he had AIDS and HEP C. They procreated and produced a son who never tested positive. She never tested positive either, and when she learned about this fact, she was none too happy about it.

Imagine what she went through, getting tested over and over for nine months ? I can imagine, because I was on that end of a test myself a number of times, until I had hit that proverbial Jackpot and my diagnosis.

The good thing about my sponsor and I was this … We both ended up here in Montreal.

In the beginning, many years ago, I was treated in Miami for AIDS. And my doctors kept me alive. I was one of the first patients in that medical clinic to receive Phase One Issue drugs that had just come off the pike for use in general community.

That did not last long because of that little small voice that assisted my SLIP.

When I came back, I had fallen out of Florida’s State Medical insurance program, because I was out-of-state too long, and I had to start back at the beginning, which took longer than I had anticipated.

I had done myself in, so I paid that ultimate price.

My sponsor had been here for the entire 35 years he has been clean and sober. He, like myself, found the fountain of eternal life, in the doctors we both have today.

He had a double dose of reality with two major illnesses. HEP C is much more lethal than AIDS is, in the Big Picture. The liver is a serious organ. And if that one goes, the rest of you goes with it.

There is no coming back from HEP C, you are a dead human being.

I watched a very long sober man, when I first came in, many years ago, be well and healthy, living with HEP C. A number of years later though, his fate changed. The HEP C got the better of his body, and in a matter of four days, JUST FOUR DAYS, he was dead.

I saw him on a Sunday, and he was alive. On Thursday of that same week, he was dead.

My sponsor was treated by the best doctors money could buy, through the year 2014. After several treatments with Interferon, he went into remission. All the while, in Montreal, the city is well stocked with the luminaries of AIDS treatment professionals.

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Doctor Mark … A life taken too soon. He was a master at his craft of saving lives.

We just lost a Major Luminary not long ago, our research Head of Science and clinical trials. My sponsor never took another drug or drink, after he got sick. He jumped the border and settled here with his family.

I was not so lucky.

After returning from my slip in July of 2000, to Miami, I would not jump the border until April of 2002. On my first visit, over Easter of 2002, I found a place to live and the doctor who treats me today. When I landed here in April of 2002, I was still not yet a citizen, and that took some time. In February of 2003, I was given my citizenship. Which cleared me for treatment in Quebec. (In the meantime – My doctor back home was sending drugs over the border to treat me while I waited).

Like our woman, in tonight’s story, who had found out her liver was failing because of the excessive way she drank, she had a choice to make when she got sober. For her, there were no two ways about it. She needed a new liver, and transplant teams, across the board hold to certain standards.

They aren’t going to give up a healthy organ to a drug or alcohol pusher…

So she had to walk through tests, some random, and some not. She had to adhere to certain rules of engagement. And like me, she waited for a liver to come, as I waited to get into the clinic I desired. Both of us put ourselves in mortal danger.

On our Own Dimes.

All three of us; our woman in the story, my sponsor and myself, all survived.

When I got into the clinic, I was given an ultimatum. I would be treated. In exchange for my drugs, I would become a drug test patient. And for the rest of my years, to this date, I am still testing new medications, as they roll out of the science departments in Canada.

Over these fifteen years, I have tested numerous types of drugs. Each patient with AIDS/HIV, is unique. None of us carry the same strain. In the beginning they tested all of us to Genotype and Phenotype our strains of the virus.

With that information on hand, as each drug came out of the lab, depending on what strain we carried, we would get certain drugs, that would work for us, so they thought. Which was why we were testing the drugs on ourselves. Because if they worked for us, they would eventually get passed into general populations around the world.

I had to adhere to certain rules and regulations. I was tested many times to make sure I was clean and sober, and every time I drop labs, to this day, they test me for substances.

There are no two ways about this sober life. I am not only responsible for my own life, I am responsible for every life that comes in contact with the drugs I am taking right now. There is NO ROOM for fucking up a treatment regimen because if they get failed regimen data, that drug becomes useless because we did not adhere to treatment protocols.

That Skews the data.

Folks who come to recovery, get off Track A – and they get to choose Track B.

If they choose Track B – they get their do over.

Medicinal patients in the program, know that they fucked up their lives, and if they want to live, they are going to make the Track B choice. Many of my friends who made that Track B choice, are alive because of cutting edge science, here in Montreal.

I can say that, without a doubt. I know several of my friends are alive right now, because they got clean and sober, and sought out medical assistance from our World Re-known Science Labs here in the city.

I know, like our woman tonight, for myself, I was in no way prepared to change what I was doing, when I got sober the first time. I knew I was going to die, and I also knew that I was not going to suffer like many of my friends did. I was going to kill myself with the drink, Until Todd got a hold of me and changed that outcome.

He did quite well, don’t you think ? He made a wise choice.

Until I take my dying breath, I will sing THEIR praises, because of the Goodness of God, made incarnate in Todd.

In the beginning we make the decision to drink and drug. To some extent we all know, we made that decision. It might not have been a logical decision then, and we may not nor never admit that in open community and for many an alcoholic and drug addict, the fear of death was nonexistent.

We chased the HIGH or the Magical Affect of Alcohol, not death in and of itself.

It wasn’t until we had that Mirror Experience, or we sat in a jail cell, or was told that we were very sick, and for a few of us, we were going to die, if we did not Shape the Fuck Up.

For many, that takes several kicks at the can.

Today, those of us who have made successive passes at the can, and did GET clean and sober, our jobs, in our community, is to drive that point HOME, that, if you continue on this path of self-destruction, You Too Will Die.

There won’t be another chance to get this right.

Many of our young women, early in the rooms today, were Itty Bitty Bad Asses.

The girls usually can out drink and out drug the boys. The Sober Women in Montreal, the young ladies and some of our older ladies, were serious party animals, and could quite clearly, out do their male counter parts.

Which is why we have to work twice as hard to keep the women, IN the ROOMS, clean and sober. Because if we fail them, they are dead women.

Some of our young men are just as bad, and always need that swift kick in their asses on a regular basis. I’ve lost several good friends to the beast over the last few months, and a handful of them as well, have slipped over the divide and are stuck in the proverbial revolving door of addiction and using.

I can’t seem to get them to be able to admit they are powerless over their drugs and alcohols of choice. They seem to think that a Friday “Night Cap” is good for them, instead of being responsible and smart.

How do you say that to your friends, and not alienate them from the fold ?

All we can do is be present.

We pay a lethal price for alcohol and drug abuse. But if we GET IT, we want you to KEEP IT and STAY. Because the alternative is jail, institution or

DEATH …

Bodies only last so long on this earth. Sometimes the damage is so severe there is no coming back from our using and drinking.

Some of us got very fucking LUCKY.

Never look at a chance to live again, twice. You might never get another chance.


Friday: The Language of the Heart

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Why, at this particular point in history, has God chosen to communicate His healing grace to so many of us ? Every aspect of this global unfoldment can be related to a single crucial word. The word is “communication.” There has been a life saving communication among ourselves, with the world around us, and with God.

From the beginning, communication in A.A. has been no ordinary transmission of helpful ideas and attitudes. Because of our kinship in suffering, and because our common means of deliverance are effective for ourselves only when constantly carried to others, our channels of contact have always been charged with the language of the heart.

There is a reason that the Friday night meeting is the BEST meeting of the week. There are times when the depth of gratitude appears and we are reminded just how lucky was all are to be sitting together in a darkened room for an hour.

They say that the opposite of addiction is not recovery, but CONNECTION.

We all need someone in our lives to stand in our corner and cheer for us. We all need that one particular friend, who is going to show us love and encourage us to step out of our boxes and expand to meet the world head on when we get clean and sober.

The words Gratitude, Silence, God and Rooms came up in discussion.

Another friend spoke about how scientists found Seven planets orbiting a cool dwarf star, Trappist One, some 39 light years from Earth. And if we can prove LIFE on another world, in the coming decades, that is going to blow all of our socks off and change the face of humanity as we know it.

I talked about silence. And how important Silence is to me. I also talked about “The Spirituality of Imperfection,” a book that is making the rounds with the men I work with. And just how important that book is, in teaching us to be spiritually aware, connected to God and connected to one another.

One of the things I think, is important in the lives of my men, is that we learn how to pump GOOD into the world. To ourselves, to our spouses, to our friends, and also to the people we work with on a daily basis.

Pumping good into the world, just for the sake of it, is not the goal here, but for us to engage our fellows with communication that may, one day, come back to us …

Juan works with our young millennial who is stuck in tunnel vision which I wrote about a few days ago. Juan’s job is to pump as much good into his young friend, that one day, he might sit in his office, and have a moment for himself, maybe a moment of clarity, and walk up to Juan and say … “Remember when you said “this” to me, well I get it now !!!

We need to communicate on many levels every day, with many people. And this is something we work on every day, to engage, polish and hone our messages. Because one day, all that work will come back to us, when we least expect it.

That is why, working with others is crucial for our recoveries. The communication of self worth, faith, love and charity can change a life, in ways we just cannot imagine. Which is why we hone our skills together, so that we can welcome a newcomer and spend precious time with them “showing them the ropes.”

God, is the hardest word to communicate to new folks. As we heard tonight, from one of our young men, who is in rehab here, who came from an evangelical home, who later turned his back on God, and went down the addiction rabbit hole, only now, “Coming to, to finding out, who the God of his understanding is, one day at a time.”

The words, keep coming back are appropriate here, because each day we return for another dose of sobriety, we hear communications and we see God (read:Higher Power) move in the rooms.

When I realized this, early on when I got sober this time, watching other people have spiritual experiences themselves, proved to me that there was something outside of myself that was working on my friends. And I wanted that for myself, so I kept returning to particular meetings, watching my friends get sober.

It was the chase for spiritual experience.

Something I tell people who are new, is the most thrilling aspect of going to meetings. Instead of chasing a buzz or a high, or a drunk, we chase healing, spirituality and in the end, God.

Last week, I got on a bus, traveling from Montreal to Ottawa. That ride, is the most peaceful ride. I can find my seat, usually, two rows from the back, on the right side. I sit down and I sink into my seat knowing I am turning my life over to the driver. And however long it takes us to get from point A to point B, is how long it will take.

I just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The return trip, both times I made this transit, is a quiet ride. The “coming home.” People usually sit quietly, not necessarily listening to music or reading, but it is like, we all know, we are, “returning.” And this ride is almost silent, aside from the bus moving and creaking along.

Last fall, on the way home, we were rewarded for our silence. Because as we entered Downtown Montreal, on the highway, a bright, Rainbow stretched from one side of the city to the other. It was magnificent. Everyone on the bus was stunned by the beauty of God.

What do we do at meetings is, we learn to turn off the chatter in our heads. We learn how to sit still. We learn how to listen. And we learn how to communicate.

And one day, it will happen for you, when you sit in a room and you share from your heart, and someone walks up to you afterwards, and says, “what you said changed my life…”

In the rooms, we expect miracles, because where else can you go and witness the miraculous ?

 

 

 

 


The Night Before, The Night Before, New Years Eve

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“Accept the Past with No Regrets. Handle the Present with Confidence. Face the Future with No Fear…”

Montreal weather, this week, has been all over the map. A flurry here, some freezing rain there, terribly dangerous conditions ensued. As the rain came to an end on Tuesday, Wednesday, it was warm enough that all that ice melted, not before wreaking havoc on the population.

Last night, clouds began to form from fronts coming from the Great Lakes, and warnings went up for some serious snow to fall. It snowed all day, and into the evening. When all was said and done, there was about 6 to 8 inches of snow on the ground.

Twitter exploded early this evening telling riders of rapid transit, that buses would be running late (read: Or not come at all) because of heavy snowfall.

I listened to Rafa’s advice, so this afternoon, I downloaded the UBER app to my phone and filled in all the info for tonight’s trip.

I told the app where I was, and where I wanted to go. I set up my payment option and hit the “Request UBER.” Within three minutes my driver was at my front door. He actually called me while I was coming down in the elevator to tell me he had arrived.

I will NEVER take another TAXI in Montreal, so long as I live here.

Taxi drivers here in Montreal have been up in arms about UBER operating here and decimating their bottom lines and livelihoods from direct competition.

If there is one dishonest taxi driver out there, there are more, I am sure !

Thank you UBER.

This will be the last post of 2016. I am looking forward to the WordPress end of year report that comes on New Year’s Eve. After a year of writing, I get the specific stats on just how well we did this year in regards to trends, numbers and readers.

God has been very busy this year, taking many of the most important people that entertainment has ever seen, and will never see again.

In 1977, I was TEN years old, ( My apologies ) when Star Wars came to New Britain, Connecticut. The first time we saw Star Wars was at the Twin City Theatres, across the street, from the store my mother worked in when I was a kid. The name escapes me at the moment.

Star Wars has been a HUGE part of my life, for all of my life. I remember when Return of the Jedi came out, And I specifically remember sitting in the theatre, weeping. I had had a spiritual experience, one of many through the franchise of films.

“Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, You’re my only hope ….”

While God is calling home luminaries of stage and screen, there are those who are speaking petitions to the Almighty, to remove certain people off the face of the earth, specifically. By name …

And I have to agree with them.

Death is never a good option, but, while God is doing what He is doing, why not take a few more for good measure !!!

Let Us Pray …

It is crunch time in the rooms of recovery. We’ve been prepping for this weekend for an entire year. making sure our folks have everything that they need, in terms of time and sobriety. And we even have printed worksheets for people to take home with them, along with a copy of Living Sober, for good measure.

Christmas and New Years can be real killers, both Figuratively and Literally.

As is usual, the stats go down through the weekend, and come January 1st, the stats rise and we welcome folks from all over, to the rooms. We’ve worked very hard this season to anchor our men and women in the rooms.

But, in the end, it all comes down to choices.

There are sober places to go on New Year’s Eve, all over the world.

Sober people really know how to throw a good New Years Eve Party. At least we do, here in Montreal. There are several choices one can make here in the city. Nobody has to be alone, or need to drink. You don’t have to be alone.

I thought about writing a retrospective on the past year, but decided against it.

Good Riddance 2016. It was my toughest year in sobriety for many reasons.

In the end, I am still sober and I listened to good advice where necessary

People might have LOTS of years, but some of those men and women, are not very SOBER.

There but for the Grace of God go I.

Let us turn towards goodness, hope and love.

Goodnight, for the last time in 2016.

I thank all of you who have stayed around, for those who read, and for a certain author, of my acquaintance, who LOVES the LIKE button.

You know who you are.

Many words have been written this year.

On Saturday we will see just how many words were written.

Thank You So Much.

 

 

 


Friday – 15 Years Introspection

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A comment that came in just now, I will explain in detail …

I’m curious about your change in church allegiances; first it was banners all about the pope, pope, pope, pope! Now it’s LDS. You know that neither of these institutions will ever accept you as a gay man, right? LDS has even given you the ultimatum.

My observation about you is that you seek a system of rules that will keep you sober and safe; The Catholic Church was first, now it’s the LDS church. Both absolutely and completely anti-gay. Although, let’s face it: the Mormons are ever so much more polite about it.

It’s our relationship with our Higher Power, independent of any institution, AA included, that is at the heart of our sobriety.

That’s why the lady stomped out when you asked her to delay her trip: she didn’t have that internal strength in place and was relying on external institutions to manage her sobriety for her. She knew it in that moment, and was pissed off.

What are you looking for outside that you don’t already have inside? Work on *that* rather than wanting people to like you. It feels to me as if there is an ancestor (Father? Mother? Aunt? Uncle?) who you are trying to please. Ignore them and please Jeremiah. For once figure Jeremiah into the equation. Be self-centered in a good way, because that is where your center IS.

The stewardess tells you to put your oxygen mask on first: if you’re not conscious, you can’t help anyone else. Jesus tells us to take the beam out of our own eye before even thinking about trying to help our neighbor. We can only give when our own cup overflows.

Just like the lady who couldn’t tell her adult children she couldn’t come to England, I know that you have a lot of rules about why you can’t put yourself first. Examine them. AA is supposed to be all about self-examination first, and helping others SECOND, AFTER you get truly sober. And I’m not talking about white-knuckled strict adherence to the rules as a substitute for true inner serenity and sobriety here.

Alcohol is not cunning, baffling and powerful — I don’t care what the big book says: the ginormous hole in your soul that needs constant feeding IS. Fix that. See it. Acknowledge it. Fill it with good things. I wish you the utmost best.

So, I’ve spent fifteen years adhering to the rules and suggestions of those I most trusted. And they have served me well, because I did not CRACK UP and I am sober still. And I think I am a little more sober this year, than I was last year.

At this time last year, there was open rebellion in the Best Night of the Week Meeting, and the alcoholics and the addicts were in open combat, and I chose a side and stuck with it. That almost ruined certain key relationships in my life, and when I took my chip last year, it was very apparent that I was terribly upset with one of my best friends in the world.

For the last two and some odd years, I had been serving a second fellowship almost entirely, and at the end of my run, my cup was empty and I left them to seek my own renewal. That has only been a few months in the works today.

I also left another meeting that was totally unhealthy for me, because of the toxic people in that meeting, so that cut me back to just two meetings a week, where I am homed today, the Thursday meeting and the Friday meeting where I open and set up as well.

I had come to the realization that I was not taking care of me, opting that if I served others dutifully, that I would stay sober. This was not a really good tack, because I know now that I really want to take care of me. And I wasn’t…

Which leads to the LDS.

On that fateful day a few months ago, the elders appeared and opened dialogue. If you have read back some ways, I explain how we get around GAY in the LDS. The marriage issue is just a paper formality that is the stumbling block NOT my homosexuality. I am on the back side of Gay today. Been there, done that.

There is a reason and a method behind my pursuits. I’ve explained in detail in several posts listed below.

I talked to Heavenly Father prior to the Elders coming to me and set my 50th birthday as the cut off day to sever ties with everything that was not serving me. HE, in his infinite wisdom, set that plan into action much earlier than I had expected it to begin.

Hence where I am right now.

After seeing my friend crack up last night, I realized just how hard I worked to stay sober, by following the rules like Gospel, because had I done things that I saw my friends do, or had I taken a tack that some of my friends did, I would not be of such sound body and mind as I am today.

You might have the time, but you may not be very sober …

I’m really not in a bad place. I am happy, all things considered. I have everything that I need, and I seek contact with Heavenly Father on a daily basis. And for the most part I find Him when I seek Him. I know that for sure.

In reaching this anniversary, I was prepared to do what I needed to do for me, spirituality was one segment, and self care was the other. I am just trying to work out what I need to do, where I need to go, and whom to seek for advice. Because I am nothing without those I trust. And there are just a chosen few that I do trust today.

Over the last year, it has been made plainly aware that there are just some people I should stay away from, even though they are WELL double digit sober.

They might have the years, but they are certainly not sober, and I really do not want what they are peddling. So I’ve moved on from those folks over the last year.

Approval … As alcoholics and addicts, we are always seeking approval, one way or another, and I admit I am guilty of that myself. I want to be seen as a human being worthy of love, and human decency from people who will never give that to me, and that has been a thorn in my side for the whole of my life, and I am turning the page on that, and I’ve been working on that for some time.

That is going to take some more work, to be honest.

Self centered and Selfish for me … I’ve never been keen on doing things for me, however I do do thing for me on a daily basis. Meanwhile in the meetings, the plan of action is always to serve everyone else, to the exclusion of ourselves, because in serving others, we get to stay sober. Working with others also suggests that that work will guarantee sobriety.

But I know from experience, that throwing myself into serving others on a one to one basis is all time consuming and taxing on my spirit and I am glad that I have just my two guys that I work with today.

I am trying to find the balance, and I am seeking balance in places that most of you tell me are unwelcoming and judgmental. That may be the case, but I have found the work arounds, to a certain degree. And I enjoy the LDS community and the people in my ward. They are loving and kind people who only want the best in each of us who are part of that contingent of men and women. Elders and Sisters included.

I know what I need to do, these realizations have been coming for some time. And I have listened to my spirit more, and stepped up my prayer and spiritual life, and I am seeking spirit in the LDS church, because when they came to me they offered a way of life that was truly engaging and open to possibilities. And I was ready to hear their message and become part of something I had not found in the Catholic, Anglican and other faiths that I had studied and been part of for the last decade and a few years here in Montreal.

I know where I come from, and I may not know where I am going, but this journey is still ongoing, and I am seeking the way, the best way I know how and I am trusting Heavenly Father, that He knows the way and in time will show me, one day at a time.

Heavenly Father has a plan, I just need to Trust, have Faith and Believe.

Over the last few months after working this round of steps, and seeking a New Experience with the women who were in my study pod, I did have a new experience, and at the end of those studies, I learned just what I was seeing for the first time, and found out just who certain people were, on their insides, and I chose to walk away from that toxicity.

When people show you who they are the first time, believe them …

I’ve encountered old timers with LOTS of time, who turned out to be charlatans and fakes. And that truly turned my stomach and sent me into a tail spin earlier this summer after the shooting in Orlando. That was a totally catastrophic emotional bottom that I had never experienced before. And it took me months to work myself out of it.

I don’t suggest anyone go through that kind of emotional bottom if possible, but you know, shit happens.

Sobriety has been a challenge, and for the last year, I pounded service till it bled me dry and my cup was empty at the end of the summer and I have been endeavoring to refill that cup with good meetings, good people, and a smattering of service because I still feel that a little service goes a long way to keeping my head on straight.

It keeps me rooted in the basics of sobriety and keeps me mindful of where it all started, and why I still go to meetings, and why I want to stay sober.

Because I don’t want to CRACK UP like some of my friends are CRACKING UP.

At least that suggestion is still in active motion. I can’t NOT do service.

It’s like tossing a loonie in the basket …

My chip and its giver are stuck in San Diego at this hour, so we postponed my anniversary for one week, until next Friday.

More to come later tonight.

Thanks for your comment Bill, it was very much appreciated.

 

 

 


Thursday – Some People Just Crack Up

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It is the night before the BIG DAY, and my Chip and the Associated Human that has that chip, is out of the country tonight, and won’t be home in time for the meeting tomorrow night. So we just roll with the punches and we do this next week instead.

I’m not loosing my head, because one of my best friends is giving me my chip.

Last week, his wife surprised him with a trip to Las Vegas and right now they are in San Diego surfing, meanwhile, there is three inches of snow on the ground, that fell fast and furiously in the past two hours.

Oh Well …

My little team of Elder’s and I hit a snag on Wednesday, when I was faced with an ultimatum, of ending my marriage or no forwards progress in the church.

I am NOT ending my marriage for any man nor any Prophet, nor Heavenly Father, Period !

That message went out earlier this afternoon.

I got a response saying that we could have more discussion.

More on that next week.

Tonight, at the hour when people begin traveling towards a meeting, a snow squall hit with furious power, and caused mayhem on the roads. The first furious snowfall usually fucks with people’s heads.

Most, don’t have their snow tires on yet. And many, forget how to drive, when it begins to snow. Fear sets in and they won’t leave their driveways.

As was the case tonight.

I left early, because it was snowing. But I did not really look outside, or I would have changed the shoes I was wearing. I walked up to the bus stop. And as I arrived at that stop, there was a bus sitting at the light, which was green … I crossed the street through moving traffic to get to said bus, and the bus driver looked at me, and I waved him to stay so I could get on the bus;

He looked at me and put the bus in drive and took off down the street.

Even though I waved him to stop. Fuck these smug STM bus drivers …

I got to the church and it was dark, so I waited, until the church’s choral director found me outside standing in a snow squall, waiting for someone to open the door, because our door lady, was supposed to get a ride from someone who would not leave her driveway because it was snowing, got there uber late.

Which made the COFFEE late as well. People were not happy at all.

There is something to be said about being sober in double digits. There is a wisdom that sets in, when you meter your sobriety against your time. I am always mindful of the saintly words that …

YOU MIGHT HAVE THE TIME, BUT YOU SURE ARE NOT VERY SOBER …

When I got sober, this time around, I did everything that I was told to do. And whatever that was, that I was doing, kept me on a short leash, and sober.

I have enough years now, that I have seen many people come in and get sober, or attempt sobriety. I have watched people come in, stay a while, then leave and never come back.

I’ve watched many of my friends who had come in long before me, go back out and drink for some considerable time, and return, beaten and destroyed by drugs and alcohol.

Because when folks go out after having some time, they go out with a BANG.

Sadly, there are no search and rescue teams here. They know where we are, all we can do is try to help, as we are able, the rest is up to them and God.

I also know, that to this date, after listening to every suggestion known to sober man and woman, and following that advice as if it were gospel, I did NOT do what many of my friends did.

I had my issues, to be sure. It was not a cake walk by any means, but I survived without CRACKING UP.

I’ve watched a multitude of men and women come in, after I had come in. And I’ve seen them attempt sobriety, along with their assorted issues and problems.

Nobody is immune to Cracking Up. Shit happens.

I know I had mental health assistance for a long time, this time around, so there were people in my life taking care of me in that way.

Sadly, not many people get that kind of assistance, in the way it came to me, and it make a difference in their lives. Our man, who spoke tonight, is one of those who could have used it back in the day, because tonight, I saw a friend crack up.

14 years sober. Time in the rooms. And Mentally and Emotionally Cracked !!!

I sat there, and I was like, What did I do right, that he didn’t?

People come to the rooms with the lives they have at the time. And the associated life baggage comes with them. After a decade or so, you would think that people would have their shit together, and be alright.

Nope …

I am once again reminded that By the Grace of God go I.

When so many people come to the rooms, with their associated baggage, sometimes, they slip through the cracks, and you either don’t connect with everyone or you connect with those who really want to connect with you.

There are people in the rooms, who came in relatively close to my IN date. And successive years after. And I paid attention to every person who came through the rooms I was HOMED in over the last 15 years.

Some got sober, and sorted out their lives and got their shit together. Many, did not, for one reason or another.

Emotional, and Mental baggage from the past are killers of souls.

For some reason, many do not find useful outlets. The don’t find those who might help them, because they either don’t want the help, or are afraid to open that floodgate to see what comes out.

FEAR is a great motivator, but it is also a Sinister Killer.

People FEAR what is locked inside their brains when they sober up. People FEAR that if someone out here, finds out what’s in their heads, they will be shunned. People FEAR that they won’t survive their first moral inventory …

FEAR, for many, rules their lives, and that fear permeates their sobriety and handicaps them into silence and they turn inwards, though they might be sober, and some for a long time, they never find PEACE and SERENITY.

It is painful to watch your friends CRACK UP.

And once again, I ask myself, WHAT DID I DO RIGHT THAT THEY DIDN’T ???

I was one dumb lucky bastard.

I had the right help, at the right moment, for the right reason.

Bitter Bernadette

It was Christmas many years ago, and bitter Bernadette was a guest, coming to my home group. I was either five or six years sober at that time.

It was right around now (Just Before Christmas) that this conversation happened, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

Bernadette had kids in the U.K.. And she was freshly sober. And she was so angry that she could not drink any longer. And I listened to her narrate a transatlantic flight to London, and the way she was going to plan a drink.

  • A – She would drink on the flight over and be sober on the other side
  • B – She would be sober on the flight over and drink when she got there
  • C- She would try not to drink, but would give no guarantee of that
  • D – She would drink, ONLY on the flight out and the flight back

I was flummoxed by her insanity and so I said something … Those words haunt me to this day … “I said to her; IF you cannot stay sober and you are trying to figure out when you can or cannot drink, then JUST CANCEL THE TRIP until you can stay sober.”

Why put yourself through all this insanity ?

She looked at me, and said “You don’t have children do you ? No, I said. I asked her how old her kids were, she said they were all adults. And I was like, “And they won’t understand that you are trying to stay sober, and you are not sure that you can, so rather than take the risk, delay your trip?”

If your kids are adults they will understand, won’t they ???

She grabbed her purse, walked out of the meeting and never returned…

Every Christmas I tell this story.

Watching people crack up is not pretty.

But for the Grace of God, Go I …

 

 

 

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries – It’s the Little Things that Matter. Reflections on 15 years.

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In five days time, One of my best friends, will give me my fifteen year chip. And many of my best friends will also be in attendance. People have been calling to confirm they will be there. They did not have to do that, but my friends are special people.

I’ve been in my head all weekend, thinking about everything that has happened over the past seven months in my sobriety. A long time ago, a sponsor of mine gave me some sound advice …

People might have time (read: Years) but they are not necessarily sober …

Sadly, he fell victim to his own wisdom. We are still friends to this day.

It has come to pass, that men and women who have been sponsors have failed in many respects. They all have had YEARS, but in the end they lacked empathy, kindness, understanding and compassion.

People do not listen to you and invest in your life, BUT then when it is expedient for them, they toss your hardest hurts in your face and stab you in the heart with them.

That is reprehensible.

Over the last fifteen years, I have done, everything that I had been told to do, when I first got sober fifteen years ago.

  • Get a Home Group – check …
  • Make Coffee – check …
  • Set up chairs and tables – check …
  • Never miss your home group unless you are sick or dead – check …
  • Never put anything before your sobriety, or it will fail – check …

Fifteen years ago, they told me these things. And I accepted them as gospel. And I built for myself a framework of meetings and service. And I stuck to that schedule for all these years later. The SAME schedule. For fifteen years …

For the last three years, I was involved in two fellowships, which led me to doing six meetings a week. I had keys to multiple churches and buildings and I served my friends and fellows, because for a long time it was only me and a couple of others to do all the work.

In September I backed away from that other fellowship, because my friends failed to learn simple lessons I tried to teach them. KINDNESS…

I had hoped that in serving others, I would impart a simple lesson of

“giving back and reciprocation.”

For all these years, I have asked simple things of my friends and people I attempt to invest in. Like phone calls to their friends, and if I invest in someone, I ask the same in return, that they invest in me.

I know, in past decades, how heavy a house phone was. And lifting that 200 pound phone was always problematic. But today, we have cell phones and smart phones that weigh next to nothing, and to this day, it still exists, that people CANNOT BE BOTHERED to use them.

I mean why do you have a cell phone ???

  • Selfies,
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Snap chat
  • Instagram !!!

I am truly saddened and disappointed in so many people, that those thoughts have consumed my brain for the last few days. Old timers that were shit heads and assholes, and young people who cannot be bothered to step up and be accountable.

As long I was there, it was assumed that I would always be there, so they did not have to show up or do anything in return, because I was doing ALL the WORK.

I have also learned that I cannot hold my friend and fellows to any standards.

They cannot rise to any challenge I have given them. Sadly, that was our failure to communicate.

We cannot and should not expect anything from the alcoholic or addict. Because they are selfish, self centered and ignorant of anyone else but themselves.

Like we do not get that, after all these years ? Like We cannot see that and we know ?

Many times over the past year, I have had addicts and alcoholics tell me to go fuck myself when I have asked them to do simple things, like think of others, think of me and to do simple things, like show up, be accountable, and call …

Those simple things are so heavy that they cannot lift them.

Because time and time again, they fail at the simplest things.

When working with others came into my life I attacked it with vigor. And I did the best I could do, with what I had. And for a while that worked. And people had a specific visual of who I was based on what they saw and heard.

That all changed on one specific day when I got angry at the group for failing to do what was asked of them. And in that moment their delusions were smashed and all those young men I worked with, all walked away, because one day, I got angry.

People in the fellowship fail to learn the lessons of Giving Back. The lesson that is in the simple Things, given freely, without expectation, is they key to fellowship and community.

I don’t know what I could have done differently to affect change in any way better.

One of my friends, said last week that when someone tells him something or asks him to do something it is his right to question they WHY and in most cases he ignores that piece of advice, because most young people are only concerned with what is in it for them and what they can get out of any interaction.

It is all about THEM.

I’m tired of giving and giving and giving and not one person coming back and reciprocating or saying thank you or stepping up and being accountable.

FAIL !!!

Another Christmas is going to come, and the Christmas morning that I feel I deserve at age 49 will never come. I have been waiting for this particular Christmas Day to come for more than 30 years. And I will not get it this year …

Or any other year, and this I will take to my grave…

I testify that the Big Book is true. And what it says is true as well.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and
what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it—then you are ready to take certain steps.
At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we
could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Everybody, it seems, wants the easier softer way, because they cannot do for others or be kind to others, or to reciprocate.

This is NOT our failure, it is theirs …

This is what I have learned at year fifteen.


Friday – Our Family Has Grown – Best Night of the Week

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The weather has turned cold, and a little of the white stuff may fall over the next few days. Sadly, not enough to make a difference on the ground. The hope is for a White Christmas.

I’ve met my new Elders this week. We spent family night together, and it was their first “Family Night” because this community event was not part of where they had been prior to coming to our ward.

The Holiday Event for the LDS church began: Mormon.org Christmas Message

There are twenty five days of giving on a daily schedule. After the short film we played a crowd favorite: Werewolf … gather your folks, each has an identity, and it is a day and night game, with a narrator who guides the game. One of our local Mandarin Elders is really good at that, and our new Elders had never played before so that was a treat to watch.

Wednesday I started my Christmas shopping for home and New Foundland. I am sharing Christmas with Baby Mama, she recently moved into her new home with baby LuLu. And given recent events, and child support still up in the air, money is an issue. So I have been collecting Christmas for both of them. We have a date at a food bank Christmas Gift Program, and a lady friend of mine is going to go shopping with me, for Mama in the coming days. All that will go by Express Post as soon as we’ve collected everything that needs to go to New Foundland.

Today, I had my first “Discussion” with my new Elders. We set the stage for continuity of ministry, I shared with them what my LDS mentors in Salt Lake City have said about my circumstances. Now they are consulting the Mission President so that I can sit with him and have a discussion about me, because his no win repugnant suggestion is totally off base and disrespectful to me and my husband.

I came home with time to spare, so I got a disco nap before I had to head out. We welcomed a couple, (Who are now new parents) from Toronto. These young people have been staple members of the group for a long time. Tonight they brought their new baby.

Babies make things brighter. We are so proud of both of them.

We are marching towards the holidays. And I’ve made some suggestions to our young people:

  • Go and find someone who might not be IN the meetings, and CALL THEM, and do something good for that person. Coffee, Meals, Meetings.
  • Go into your community and find someone, or a family, that might not have enough to make Christmas really special, and give something because you can.
  • Christmas is a time of miracles. Go Be a Miracle for someone.
  • The Holidays can be sketchy, and we have options and guides to help make things a bit easier. We introduced them this evening. (READ: Living Sober)
  • Invite a member to your Holiday Dinner if you can and are able.
  • Make sure your elderly neighbors are not alone. Check on them, make sure they are alright.
  • Meetings are OPEN on the holidays. There are very few closures and cancellations here, so there is no reason you can’t make a meeting on the holiday.

The Holiday Season is a a season of happiness and giving. But it is also a season of misery and sadness for some. And this is a fact. We see this every year. So I’ve been working tirelessly in making sure there is a room to go to and people to care for their neighbors and their fellows.

Numbers always fluctuate during the holidays. And Sobriety Looses Its Priority for some. The factor of a slip versus making it back after the new year are slim. So our job is to keep our numbers stable, because we always see numbers spike in January, so everybody needs to be on deck. Every good moment we create NOW, will carry through the Holidays.

GOOD DEEDS COUNT TWICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE …

Go Do Good Deeds.

 


Thursday – Israel is Burning

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About 80,000 people have been told to evacuate their homes as wildfires swept into Israel’s third largest city of Haifa. The fires follow a two-month drought and are being fanned by strong winds in the north of the city. Wildfires are also threatening homes near Jerusalem and in the West Bank.

If you pray … Now would be a good time to do so. This is NOT a good situation at all.

**** **** ****

It was a full day of “things to do” here at home. And once again, I missed the parade. I had other things to do, after I had decided to force myself out of bed, because I would rather had slept in, but there were chores to do.

I am quite efficient when it comes to chores and shopping and cleaning all at the same time. I drop the laundry in to wash, i come back and scrub the bathroom and vacuum the apartment. By that time it is time to dry. Once the dryer is started, I have sixty minutes.

I change up and go do my grocery shopping, and return home with 17 minutes to spare. I fold my laundry and have the rest of the day free to do whatever comes to mind.

A common question that is tossed back and forth between Rafa and myself is:

What are you reading ???

I got three new books this week:

  • The Suitors – by Ben Ehrenreich, a retelling of the Odyssey
  • The Bone Collection – by Kathy Reichs – Highly anticipated read
  • Cross Bones – by Kathy Reichs – another Highly anticipated read

This week the news came from the Mission President, after our one young man returned home to Idaho on Monday, that a good number of our Montreal NDG team is being broken up and scattered to all points. My second Elder who was on my team has been moved to Lasalle, at the end of the Green Line. Another Elder from the Mandarin side is going to Ottawa. And one of our Sisters is moving to the Singles Ward, up in Outremont.

I know who is replacing my team at the moment, but I am awaiting introductions and to ask for an appointment to see the Mission President myself. Hopefully we can reach some kind of agreement or consensus. We shall see.

So to be honest, I am in Spiritual Limbo at the moment. I came all this way with a certain team of young men, only to have everything be ripped apart by ending missions and moving people from here to there.

My books from Deseret Books are still in the pike.

Tonight we heard some good wisdom from a visitor from out of town, who is here for the Winter. Instead of fleeing to somewhere warm in semi-retirement, he came here instead. Like he said, Montreal is an infectious city. Once you visit, you WILL return, and most likely STAY.

The numbers of members with MANY YEARS going BACK OUT is a problem. Just as well
The numbers of members with LITTLE TIME going BACK OUT is also a problem.

I’ve spoken of this before. And tonight we heard one reason why old timers go back out and drink/drug again …

They (read: Old Timers) have TOO MANY YEARS, AND NOT ENOUGH DAYS.

They tend to forget, after so long, what the feeling felt like to have their last drink, or what that last hangover felt like, or what their first day sober looked like.

The other side to that coin is this … People who suffer catastrophic illnesses like Cancer or something along those lines, they get sick, they have an operation or chemo or treatment of some sort, some survive and some do not.

It is common for sober people who have been through the mill to one day just say:

Fuck It … And they drink again. After what I have been through A drink isn’t going to kill me. I survived a particular illness so I get a dispensation …

My friend Togani took his 34 year cake from a friend. I saw some friends and arranged for my chip to be gotten and to plan my cake in a couple of weeks.

It was a good day.

 

 


Tuesday: Part 2, You Can Take a Break

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It is a new day. And it is the most important day of the year in the United States. I cast my vote by absentee ballot a few weeks ago. My ballot is sitting in the hopper in Miami, to be counted this evening. I am told that the Democrats Abroad organization has a very large number of ballots in play, and hopefully, where they are needed, may swing the vote in our favor.

Let Us Pray …

I met with my spiritual God Mother this morning to talk about life. I told her the story and told her about my spiritual journey. And she, like me, has faced adversity. Just a few weeks ago, she was recovering from quadruple bypass heart surgery.

Them are some big words … Quadruple Bypass Surgery.

She survived. Because, like me, God isn’t finished with her yet. And I am truly grateful that she survived that surgery and that she is still in my life today.

We talked program. And we are both on our respective journeys to find God,and in a way, she gave me permission to “Take a Break.” The rooms are there to help us find our Power Greater Than Ourselves. And provides a Bridge to the outside world.

If you do it right, spiritually, and you do The Work, the good way, in time, it may come to pass that one desires to move outwards into the world. Which we have both begun to do ourselves.

She told me that “If this is where I need to be right now so be it. You don’t know how long you are going to be here, and if you have the time to devote to God, then devote time to God. Pay attention, and go where God leads you.”

I know where I am going.

 


Sunday: Part 4, The Fifteen Year Itch

people

The Pre-Cake roller coaster is in full motion. And it is rocking like bat shit crazy.

This year has been a challenge for me, in many ways. A few years ago, when I was introduced to working with others for the first time, I invested in a community because that is where my guys came from originally. Long sober people have turned out to be fakes and charlatans, liars and cheats. Obviously, I trusted the wrong people, for what I thought were the right reasons.

Lessons Learned.

Sober people are not perfect and I am told that I have to accept that an alcoholic and an addict are sick people, and that I should not hold long sober people up to certain standards of respect, dignity and human kindness. But if you turn on me I will, walk away.

No questions, No excuses, No problems.

Two and Three Quarter years later, for a certain fellowship, it is no more for me. That stage of my life has come and gone. I could only do so much, as in paying for all the supplies out of my pocket, running three meetings, carrying the lion’s share of the load. And it came to a head and I walked away. I was done.

I’m only hitting a couple of A.A. meetings now, and my patience is wearing thin for those meetings as well. One meeting, is full of young people and is, at least functional. But I drew down my service to that group last Friday night, opting to open another night for fellowship where I want to be right now.

My Sunday meeting, people are acting odd around me, they have just gone quiet on me. The don’t talk like we used to, and nobody waits to walk home, and that is a trend I have watched happen in other meetings that met in that space as well. And my sponsor cared to inform me just how scared people are of me and that they don’t trust me and even to the degree that some won’t come to that meeting because of me:

AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO FEEL ABOUT THAT ???
Drop me another bomb why don’t you !!!

I am frustrated with people, I am short tempered. I am impatient. I’ve been running very hard at recovery for so long, that I am just about out of steam. I’ve pounded service, and tried very hard to grow up, yet I am reminded again and again, when it is expedient for my friends to remind me, that I have shortcomings, not that I have forgotten any of them.

I’ve accepted that I am damaged. And I accept that I may never heal fully. And I am told that over and over, I have to remember what I did to others, and that my issues are all about me. When you do life work and you pound it hard, you move forwards, sometimes only a little. What is done is done.

I listen to folks sober twice as long as I am. And I listen to them tell me where they think I should be, in relation to where they are themselves. Like I need to hit spiritual benchmarks already, that I know, for myself, I am not close to at all.

God is calling the shots. All the shots. And I am letting Him call the shots.

God knows how much time I have left.

My doctor does not even know what to do with me now, since I hit the fifty benchmark next July. I am not supposed to be still alive. And now this opportunity has come about, a path, a new focus in my life, and there is no better time than the present.

If not now, then when?

I’m bored with the rooms. I am tired of sitting with folks who, all they want to do is sit in, “Can’t be bothered.” We talk and talk and talk, UGH … enough talk already.

I just need some room to breath. I just need to have my friends give me some slack to decide what is good for me, without having to tell me how damaged I still am, thinking that if I listen to all the things wrong with me, I won’t want to serve Heavenly Father in the Church !

That’s what the enemy wants me to listen to. All those things wrong with me that make me less potential as a human being, because I am damaged. And I have faults. And I have challenges. If Adam and Eve did not fall in the garden, we would not have the dichotomy of good and evil, right and wrong, good and bad, light and dark.

If we did not have the bad, we would not know the truth and find the good and blessing of our stories, and our challenges. Gosh, I am going to be fifty next summer, and I cannot make decisions for myself, because people around me are so used to having me around, reliable, capable of doing all the work, answering to my fellows, and being the good sober boy I have been for the whole of my sobriety ???

And people tell me they care about me and that I matter and that I am important, and that I should return to places I have walked away from on purpose. And at the same time, the only time my phone rings is when certain people make concerted attempts to get my attention, when I had not heard from them for weeks.

Now that I’ve made my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints commitment, people are freaking out.

For God’s sake, let me be … This is my call, not yours. This is my life, not yours.

I have not said a word in response to all this crap being shoveled at me recently. I’ve been respectful, because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I am feeling a little pressed into a corner, having to choose between comfort and growth.

THERE IS NO GROWTH IN THE COMFORT ZONE AND
THERE IS NO COMFORT IN THE GROWTH ZONE.

I heard that from an Elder this morning. And it is true.

For people, who have nothing but the rooms, and their concept of a higher power, and they do nothing but stay within those confines, it becomes comfortable. And predictable.

I’ve been living a wholly comfortable and predictable life for all my sober years.

There are not many people who are devoted to organized religion, so to speak. And I’ve been around the block with numerous religions. And I know ALL the arguments made towards the LGBT community. Good and Bad.

And I think, that my friends think, that if I surf too far off the wave of sobriety, that I am going to find myself in some kind of serious jeopardy, that will threaten my sobriety. If you stray too far from the farm, you might get caught someplace you really should not be.

God forbid, you should find community somewhere else, that is not sober related.

The alarms go off, the lights start flashing and the warning sirens go off.

Whoa look out, one of us is heading in another direction,

Danger Will Robinson, Danger …

I made it here on my own steam. I am still alive and breathing.

Let me make my own decisions. I am of sound mind and body.
Really !!!

There is nothing bad or dangerous about God.


Sunday: Part 3, The Many Voices

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After a great day, spent in fellowship, worship and community, I figured that the night would pass without incident.

I was WRONG.

People are concerned for my spiritual welfare, and the couple of my lady friends spent considerable amounts of time tonight, reminding me of my shortcomings and patterns they have observed, or heard me speak of, concerning my past.

When I work my Steps, when I reach Step Nine, the Amends process, I stop. Knowing that it will snow in Hell, before I can get past this step completely. And there is anger in my soul. Anger that I keep in check quite well, save for the odd moment, when the dam bursts and I speak words that I should not.

My spiritual director gave me specific counsel on these topics and I have followed his advice to the letter. I must turn my entire life over to God and allow Him to do what I cannot do for myself. The truth about anger and rage is real. I don’t think I will ever be 100% rid of it, and will probably take them to my grave with me.

Like I really need my friends to point out my shortcomings when it is expedient for them to remind me, which only stokes the fires burning in the pit of my soul. And exacerbates the utter sadness I feel about people who have hurt me terribly.

If we felt nothing, and buried the truth in a lock box, who would we be ?

I admit my truth quite openly. It is no secret, my past. But Must I be constantly reminded of it? It’s like pouring salt into the wounds in my soul ?

I told three people of my spiritual path. My best friend is standing by my side. The other two folks, not so much. I walked away from a community that I could do no more for, and it seemed that God had plans for me, because I am where I am at this very moment.

People are talking about me behind the scenes, because oddly, I got two phone calls that I was not expecting. You know how often your friends think of you, or how they don’t think of you often, when your phone does not ring for weeks and weeks. I tried my hardest to break a silent streak among my friends, to no avail. And now I have to explain why I am walking away from people, who have no concern for my welfare or me in general.

I know what silence speaks of …

So, knowing how fast the adversary comes in and tries to darken my spirits, I turned to my scriptures for advice. It did not take but a few moments to find the words I needed to read.

I did everything I was asked to do this morning, when I got home.

And I did everything I was supposed to do, to make the meeting a success again. And as usual, I locked up the church, and walked home alone. That is also a contentious issue.

I know that people think little of me, when we all walk the same direction home, or to the Metro, which is on the way home, when nobody waits to walk home with me, like they used to. Maybe the gossip I am hearing about me is true …

People have judged me and by their words, and actions or lack of either, speaks volumes.

All I know is that I must trust the Savior to care for me, and for Heavenly Father to take the lead and bring me that which will be fruitful in my life.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen

2 Nephi 4:35

 


Friday – Money – Before and After

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There is so much WRONG going on right now. The wisdom goes thus … It is better to keep ones mouth shut on certain issues, because there are no sides to pick, save for one, and if you speak, counter to that ONE, the hoards of massive crazies will come out with their pitchforks and batons of fire to smite you.

Some of my friends have taken this advice, but a choice few said, “fuck that” I am going to speak my truth, and be damned the naysayers. Which ended them in a pit of fire with comments that are truly inhuman.

Words Matter.

When a WOMAN SPEAKS, HER WORDS MATTER.

Nuff said …

In our drinking time, we acted as if the money supply was inexhaustible, though between binges we’d sometimes go to the other extreme and become miserly. Without realizing it, we were just accumulating funds for the next spree. Money was the symbol of pleasure and self-importance. As our drinking became worse, money was only an urgent requirement which could supply us with the next drink and the temporary comfort of oblivion it brought.

Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we find that we cannot place money first. For us, material well-being always follows spiritual progress; it never precedes.

The talk tonight was all about money. It began with a friend reminding us that money is a necessary evil. Without it, we have nothing, and can get nothing. We are reminded daily that to get on a bus, you need money, or else you get tossed off the bus.

We need money. For some of us, or maybe, all of us, we have to cultivate the right attitude and respect for money.

I had a respect for money growing up. I’ve spoken at length about some of the best jobs I ever had, and why. When one gets mortally sick, and death is the next stop, trying to figure out HOW you are going to survive becomes paramount.

Been there, Done that. Got the T-Shirt.

In my world, growing up in my family, I said tonight, “All the men in my family drank, heavily, BUT they all had nice homes. If I had a million dollars I would seriously find a parcel of land, and an architect, and rebuild my grandparents house brick for brick.

They provided the cash to sustain families, they all had good jobs, and it seemed to me that they were getting away with highway robbery, being able to make the scenes look good, all the while, drinking behind the scenes, abusing their wives and children, who suffered that abuse silently, because we dare NOT say one word.

Silence gave consent. Nobody complained openly, and the men got away with the drinking, the abuse, and the violence, unpunished and / or reprimanded, ever.

I was an alcoholic from the word Go. When I left home, I had the good sense to know that I HAD worked in good paying jobs that I really enjoyed doing. Been there, done that.

For some strange reason, when I moved out, I had a brand new car, that I could not pay for, I had to have that big ticket apartment, in the apartment complex that my new Gay Friends lived in, because I wanted what they had, and had NO IDEA how I was going to pay for it. I had never balanced a check book in my life, and also, why, I was terribly irresponsible, and I should have known better, but I did not.

When faced with the reality that one might not have enough money to buy alcohol, because, before you moved out, your shrink told you that the only way into the Gay Community, back then, was through several drinks at the bar, where all that money was going to come from was the challenge.

And what was my answer ?

Daddy will pay for it.

Almost a sick perversion, to make that man pay for his indignities perpetrated on me. I don’t think I thought that deeply about indignities, but I do today, and would love to ascribe certain PAY BACK for his abuses.

I just used the excuse that daddy would pay, and that got me only so far. They took the car away, and in the end, daddy did pay.

But in the end, I would pay.

Dearly.

Dueling alcoholics you could call us. My assault began, the first time I got sober, but there was a preemptive strike when I was a teenager, I gave up my musical talent as a punishment for his abuse of my mother, and the double decker organ had to be returned because I told him that I would never play another note on that organ again.

And I never did, to this day.

That was serious wasted talent down the drain. What I did not know then hurt me.

I was clean and sober on the first pass, but still untreated properly. I would not understand what that meant, until recently, (read:Today). My father, being the active untreated alcoholic, is just as bad as a sober person who has untreated alcoholism.

The brain is just as fogged as the active drinker, sometimes worse.

Somewhere in my young brain, I realized that all the men in the family were getting away with bloody murder and not paying for it, in any case. Nobody complained, we bore our pain in our own ways, (that was my perception) (read: Not the same as my family, as I was the cause of all of their problems).

How it became ALL MY FAULT, is still beyond my comprehension.

I figured that if the men got away with it unscathed, then I would get away with it too.

I didn’t.

I am clean and sober almost fifteen years, and I carry a terminal disease that will probably not kill me, my doctor likes to tell me, because of my alcoholism and my own short shortsightedness and stupidity.

So there’s that. I did not physically survive my alcoholism, I paid a hefty price in the end.

The tenth promise of the ninth step reads:

Fear of People and of Economic Insecurity will leave us.

I can attest to you right here and now, that that certain promise took thirteen years to come to pass. We’ve learned a healthy respect for money. We know how to use what we have properly and to respect the almighty dollar.

I hear Cyndi Lauper sing … “MONEY, money changes everything …”

 

 

 


Jeudi – La Dixiem Etape – The Tenth Step

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God, Let me have a new experience, Let me see the truth …

My new and improved meeting schedule began on Monday night, with a meeting, right down the hill from home. A ten minute walk through the tunnel to Georges Vanier Metro.

Now I know, where several of my friends disappeared to, when they left meetings we used to do together. This particular Monday Meeting is a Big Book study …

Like I can’t get enough of the book as it is.

Tonight, I attended my first meeting in French. In all these years of meetings, I never ventured across the solitude’s for a French meeting, because  I’m Anglo.

My friends, including my sponsor opened this meeting, specifically to open a “New Experience” for folks who want something a bit different. It’s a carbon copy of the Sunday Night meeting, being a literature discussion, only in French.

Having read the Big Book for all these years, in English, I know what it says. And after all these years talking about said book, I know what to say, on various topics. We read from the Book tonight, and the 10th Step.

Not shying away from a challenge, They asked me to read first, which I had a huge paragraph, in French, I read like a Boss… When the share went around the room, I was on the tail end, so I had time to think about what I wanted to say, I just needed to find the right words, in the right tense, in the right order. And I was able to speak “In French” for the first time, in a room full of Francophone folks.

And we talked about The Tenth Step. Having just completed these steps with my sponsor, I knew the territory and what I wanted to say. I think I made sense, in the end. Everybody was proud of my effort.

My friends were impressed with the fact that I made the effort to talk, and not just sit there and not say a word. It always goes, if you make the effort, and not hit the nail on the head, people understand. But if you don’t try, it’s a bad reflection on you.

I had a French Big Book here at home that I was reading off and on all week, practicing my reading and comprehension. Like I said, I know the book, so reading it in French was really not a stretch. I understand and comprehend more than I give myself credit for.

Learning a second language “in the rooms” is sometimes easier than learning it in a classroom. Because on both sides, the words are exactly the same. However, the French Big Book, is twice as FAT as the English Big Book.

My Francophone friends use English meetings to practice and hone their English, in the same way, I want to practice and hone my French, the same way. Knowing people in said meeting makes it a bit easier, because if I get stuck, I get help.

But, You Must Make the Effort …


Sunday Sundries – October Welcome

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Hello out there. Today is October 2nd – I’ve noticed in many places, the leaves are beginning to turn. Thanksgiving is next Sunday and I am cooking a feast for my little family once again.

Imagine, next Monday, here in Canada, The battle for Christmas will begin. An entire month earlier than you folks down in the U.S. of A. They won’t be closing up Halloween shops until the end of the month, and in the meantime, the competition for WHO puts up Christmas decorations FIRST is always a holiday mystery.

I know that in St. John’s New Foundland, Christmas trees are up in stores there already. Winter always hits the Atlantic Provinces first.

It has been a very busy week.

This week my meeting routine takes a turn for something a little bit different. My sponsor has encouraged me to seek out a new adventure, since completing this round of “Booking.” (read: The Steps)

The Set Aside Prayer

God, please set aside everything I know about

Myself
The Twelves Steps
A.A.
Meetings
And You God

 So that I can have a new experience, Please let me See the Truth

Tomorrow night, we hit a new meeting, just down the hill from home, called “Love and Tolerance.” It’s very close to home, and very convenient.

Before the meeting we had been talking about changing it up, and my sponsor then asked me to do something totally out of left field. I’ve been learning French, via the Metro Method, (read: There are tv’s in most of the Metro Stations that show news, weather and train times) and they all run in French. And I’ve noticed that my French is getting better, well, my reading comprehension.
With that said … I am going to start hitting our sister meeting on Thursday night, ( Jeudi St. Leon) at the same church we meet on Sunday night’s, IN FRENCH. My friends from that meeting, who are native Francophones come to Sunday night, and other English meetings to learn, or improve their English. So they invited me to come on Thursday to begin integrating into the French community, which will be something totally new for me.

I brought home a French Big Book to look over, and one of my friends is going to send me the prayers, translated into French so I will at least learn them before Thursday.

Instead of hitting an English meeting, I will be hitting a French meeting.

Saturday is still up for grabs. I hoped to initiate a Saturday night Date night for hubby and myself, seeing we never go out ever unless it is a special occasion for dinner or something.

Fall is certainly on its way. My favorite season of the year, because in just a few short months up here in the North we traverse three seasons, and everything changes so much, very quickly. And in the Fall we get to see the Majesty of Mother Nature in all her Grandeur.

Tomorrow morning, bright and early, (read: The ass crack of morning 8 a.m.) the building workers will begin the destruction of my balcony. They have been knocking down all the balcony banisters and walls on the entire building. 7 apartments. Ours is the last one to be started. Last week, they asked if I would clean all the crud that was on the balcony floor, (read: All that Shit that has been under the floor boards for the last 42 years).

And I was like, “How am I supposed to do that ? I don’t have a freaking shed in my bedroom with cleaning tools and leaf bags, and by the way, a shovel would be great for that kind of thing.” Our Super came up and told me this in French, and I did not get it at first, so about half an hour later the building manager came up to translate, when I then inquired about “Tools and Bags.”

They got me a square shovel and a handful of bags. A plastic shovel at that.

There is a hanging wall of plastic over the opening and I stirred up a shit load of dust in doing the job, I failed to remind them that I am immuno-compromised and that I will probably get sick from dust and allergens from the shit on the ground…

Of course I did …

2 leaf bags later, I had completed said work.

Now tomorrow at the crack of dawn, jackhammers will announce the arrival of morning before I even get out of bed. Which at such time, I will have no choice but to get out of bed because my bed, is just inside the balcony door, and sleeping while jackhammers pound the building is a lost cause.

More to come. Stay tuned …

 

 

 


Sunday Sundries – He Said “Hello”

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Life is busy. Fall has come. Single Digits followed. The A/C unit is in its box until next Summer. And we have the windows open until it gets cold at night, and they have to be shut.

Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away. And then PUSH for Christmas will begin.

UGH, God Give Me Strength !!!

For a few weeks now, folks have been in a funk. The funk of untreated alcohol/marijuana addiction. There Is A Solution. It just seems that not many people WANT that solution, and I am totally frustrated with how hard my friends want to make life, when it could be much easier.

Let’s go back to Friday.

I had a doctors appointment in the morning. BOTH my doctors have been bemoaning the fact that my sugars are up a bit, and my triglycerides are high again. Not that they’ve managed to fall with all the pills I put into my body.

My diabetes doctor wants me to further curb my diet, when I don’t even eat three meals a day, because I just don’t. I might eat lunch occasionally, when I am bothered to go get something to cook. That happens here and there. On Thursday I always treat myself to some Burger King on the way to the meeting, if I am not book shopping, or I do both.

My HIV doctor has been giving me the same complaints …

I was dumbfounded when, on Friday, Dr. George says to me …

OH I HAVE A MAGIC PILL THAT WILL DROP YOUR TRIGLYCERIDES TO ZERO …

I was like, how long have you had this ACE in your pocket ? You’ve been on my ass about this for a year, and now you decide to drop this little pill into my life now ? Now we add another pill called EZETIMIBE to my regimen for a month to see what happens. I have another appointment on Tuesday for my HIV doctor and I am going to chew him out as well.

The day gets better from there, Friday …

The Book of Mormon …

I walk back to the Metro at Acadie and I am standing on the platform and a couple of CUTE Mormon elders came down and stood next to me. One walks a little further away, and One stands just off to my left. We stood there for a few minutes, when the young Elder says to me “Salut” in French, ( Hello for those who don’t speak French) I said Hello to him in English.

He let out a breath and sighed … “Oh God, you speak English!”

Wiping his brow …

We got on the train, and a flurry of conversation began. When we got to the terminus of the Blue Line (Snowden) I was transferring to the Orange line to get to a job I was working next, our young Elder handed me his card and smiled … Call Me Anytime.

The next afternoon, I did call him back. We have a date for coffee on Tuesday evening.

I rode the Metro to Vendome and walked several blocks to a small church in Westmount where I had been hired for the day to do a theatre installation for a photography group in the meeting hall.

The group had paid $7,000.00 for a theatre sized motorized screen that needed to be mounted and hung in the rafters above the stage. This monster weighed about 400 pounds and it took 5 guys to build the framing, figure out how we were going to hang the beast and make it all work in less than five hours.

We made a trip to Home Depot and bought the supplies, and returned to build 2×4 trusses for the rafters, from which we would hang the screen. My friend (in the program) is in construction, so he had all the major tools we would need. It was a precision job to get the screen up and hung. It was a great success.

In hanging heavy machinery, you need good framing. You need solid metal works, and you need to double your fail safes, in case the brackets on the end caps of the screen give way and fail. We used high quality chain in the rigging and solid metal works for the hooks and clamps.

When all was said and done, on the way home, I said to my friend that, we might want to secure the chain looping in the rafters further, because there are two clamps on each end that connect chain to the screen. and the chain hangs from large hooks in the framing we had already hung.

If one of the clamps on the screen end caps fail, the chain is going to go into the rafters, come out of its ring, and the failing end of the screen is going to fall to the floor, and probably bring the other side down with it. My thought was, if we secure the hanging ring and the chain with a larger C clamp, that will prevent the chain from running loose and bringing down the screen.

At $15.00 dollars an hour, my advice is not cheap.

Light and sound is a great business to be in. Having built a nightclub from the ground up in the past, and working in the nightclub industry, this job was right up my alley.

The job ran me right up to my Friday night departure at 6:15. I had twenty minutes to spare when I got home. Enough time to unload groceries and change into clean clothing.

While at the doctors earlier in the day, I had updated my apps. And I’ve never seen my battery go from 85% to zero in like thirty seconds. Which meant my phone was dead for the rest of the day, because I had left my charger at home.