The weather has gotten dreary, wet, humid and miserable. Thanks to tropical storm Cindy. She stormed the gulf coast, and now she is making it rain here, and it is supposed to rain for the next three days.
Which meant numbers were down. But we had a good showing.
Faith … What is Faith. Not sure ? Take the action.
We talked about Faith and Action tonight. If you don’t have the former, then you need the latter. And how do we do the latter ? We go to a meeting.
As many meetings, as it takes, for you to hear someone who has a message or you identify with the words, and you take that EXTRA step and go talk to said person to see
- What it is that they have
- How did the learn what they said and/or did
- And how do you replicate that piece of advice
- You take a SUGGESTION and you RUN with it
- As far as it will get you
So many of our young people struggle with Faith, and God and Suggestions.
Many people want the easier softer way, and only the die-hard newbies will listen when you tell that WHAT it is that YOU DID, and WHAT happened because you did that thing.
If you are new to the rooms. Sit down, open your heart, and listen.
Listening is an ACTION step. It will come to pass, that if you sit in your chair long enough, you are going to sink in and then you will hear just what it is you need to hear.
You might have to hit a number of meetings, over a LONG period of time. In Montreal, there are plenty of choices of where to go, around the clock, every day.
I know, I did not know what to do, and I needed people to show me what to do. And I connected to all the right people when I needed them. And over the years, certain special sober folks appeared, because I went looking for them, where ever sober people gathered.
Meetings, Step Series, Round Ups. Going out-of-town.
It may happen for you tomorrow, and maybe it won’t. That is the adventure, RIGHT ?
If you want to get sober … If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are READY to take certain STEPS…
It’s written in the book.
If you don’t have faith, let us show you faith. Sit with us and listen to our stories. At some point, even you will identify with at least one human being sitting in that same room as you.
The last Paragraph of tonight’s read mentions the first meeting between Bill W. and Doctor Bob, on that fateful night, I wrote about a few days ago.
Dr. Bob got sober, because Bill told him HIS story. And for the first time in his life, he met another human being, who knew what Dr. Bob was going through. Bill was speaking his language. On June 10th 1935, Dr. Bob recorded his first full day of sobriety…
And what did that take ? One alcoholic talking to another.
If you don’t have something, then take your needs to a meeting, and lay them down on the table and speak your words.
ALWAYS take your needs to a room. ALWAYS. Because you would be surprised how often you will find exactly what you NEED on a need to know/have basis.
If you glean everything a room has to offer, EVERY single human being who walks into a room has something you might need. All you have to do is ask. That is why we stress the 20 minutes before and after.
Every single person in the room has something to offer, even if they don’t know it themselves.
The forward action of faith, is showing up, every day or every night.
You might not know what that looks like, but if you just try, one day at a time, your actions will become faith.
I promise you that.
I spoke to three people on the way out tonight. Hopefully they will return the next week for another dose of Friday Night Sobriety.
It’s the Best night of the week.
It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.
We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”
Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.
Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.
Who am I to complain …
We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.
People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …
Anyways, back to this evening.
Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.
She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.
We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.
READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.
Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.
San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …
The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.
She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.
I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.
I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.
I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.
I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.
Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.
A good night was had by all.
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.
It was a full and beautiful day. And Now I Know …
After a year of searching, talking and listening, Now I Know, what it is I am supposed to be doing. Now I know, what brings me joy. Now I know, who I need to be with.
Now I know, that friends I am connected to, friends I have known for a long time, that I never really connected to intimately, like those that I HAD been intimately connected to, have come to the fore.
There are friends and fellows, searching for connections and solutions. And over the past week or so, new connections have been forged. And working with others has come in small and simple ways.
They say … “IF you build it, they will COME.”
A Booking (read: Big Booking) series that began last Summer 2016, with Joe from New York City, with a small intrepid group of First Gen students, worked the 12 week program. We then endeavored to find other like minded folks on both the French side and the English side.
At that time, we hosted an Open House for the French side, and 50 women showed up and a handful of men. We opened a dedicated meeting serving the French side, to sister up with the Sunday evening meeting on the English side, doing the same format.
Big Book in both French and in English.
That 50 plus group of men and women were partnered with men and women, on both sides, and over the calendar year, all those men and women, went through the Book.
Now, all those men and women are taking another generation through The Book themselves. And the 2017 campaign has opened. The initial Gen Booker’s from last Summer, are beginning a new Summer session with another Gen of men and women.
I begin my next Gen Booking myself in August, for the second time.
On Sunday last, a young man who has been showing up on Sunday’s came and asked me if he could do the Booking himself. Today, we sat for our first Booking Session, that will run 12 weeks.
Tonight, at the regular Thursday meeting, a very good friend spoke. The same man, who, when I spoke a few weeks ago, did the Thanking.
Before the meeting I sat and listened to a Fifth Step from one of my men.
Then at the meeting, I heard my friend speak. He hit many salient points that I had spoken earlier in the evening. My friend has spirit, and he has God, and He lives in the solution, every day.
And as I sat there listening, I said to myself, Now I know.
I know my message. I know my experience. And I said to my friend afterwards that, I should have known better, when I got up there and made a fool out of myself.
Now I know, what I should have said. But like a good alcoholic, breaking the rules about intention, I had to have a fucking script, thinking that I needed to tell a specific story, for whatever fucked up reason I had.
When I should have really spoken the message that was supposed to be spoken and wasn’t, and listening to my friend talk tonight, I Got The Message.
I’ve spoken my displeasure. I’ve spoken my words. And I’ve said to those who needed to hear it, “I Don’t Give a Fuck anymore…so Fuck It.”
I’ve had spiritual teaching from my Elder friend Spencer. Who is a very bright light, whom, it seems, God smiles upon, every day.
I have faith. I have God. I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and wants the best for me, and so I am surrounding myself with really good people.
Now I Know.
I know what I want to do, and why. Every day I am presented with choices of what I AM going to allow in, and what I am NOT. Every day I am presented a choice of what I want to do. How to Pray, and what I am going to engage with.
I don’t have to engage in thinking, and acting like a miserable dry drunk.
God has been very gentle with me. And gives me that persistent PUSH in the right direction, because I hear it in my heart, and the prompts come, and have been coming far more often, maybe because I am paying attention to that Still Small Voice Within.
Tonight Elder Spencer said to me that, “if he had the chance to go back to the beginning of his mission, with what He Knows Now, he would do it in a New York Minute.
His younger sister is just a few weeks into her two year mission in Montana. And a brand new crop of young Elders and Sisters are engaged at the M.T.C. Elder Spencer is right back at the beginning of a new mission, sharing stories about His mission, with a new crop of missionaries.
Indeed, he spoke his intention to return, so God has brought him full circle to return to the beginning of a mission for a group of young men and women, with ALL of the wisdom he learned on his mission here in Montreal, that ended last Fall.
When Elder Spencer went home, I gave him homework. Home work to record the wisdom he learned here, on paper. Which he did gladly.
And that homework led him to this new job. One he had not anticipated when he got home and finished his first semester at B.Y.U.
Successfully I might add.
Now he has come full circle. And I reminded him of this blessing that he intention ed himself. We both believe that when we met and through today, that there were too many coincidences between us, that were confirmed spiritually before our eyes.
And we both acknowledge that there are No Coincidences. Only God.
I feel renewed with a new solution, based in Love and God and the Book and Prayer.
It is all about the Daily Surrender and the Quality of that Surrender.
The work is there to be done. And Now I Know…
NOW I KNOW …
So you went back out, and you either DRANK or USED or BOTH.
What happens now ?
What happens with all that time you banked, before you walked out the door ?
Do you loose that time, or does that time still matter ?
There are two schools of thought on these questions. I’ve heard them discussed over the years, but in recent years, I’ve heard no mention of the options in open community.
Option #1: Time on the Continuum exists and is still in motion, your slip is but a blip on the time line, so keep moving forwards.
Option #2: You HAD time, but you slipped, your continuum has stopped running, NOW you go to the BACK of the line and start over.
This came up today while talking to my best friend.
I’ve mentioned over the past few months, the number of friends I have who decided against better advice, to go back out and drink and use.
Here, in Montreal, my “Core Group” is trying to figure out how to help our friends, and get them back on the horse and reconnected.
We decided, as a group, to give keys, jobs and responsibilities to those who need to reconnect. Service will keep you sober, because you become accountable. Turning, back benchers and slippers into Service Hounds is what we have decided to do.
Will it work ? That is yet to be seen.
When I accrued my four years and had orchestrated my slip, I really had nothing to return to, as in accrued sober knowledge and time. I was too busy trying to survive.
That was the greater challenge, even if I took that life for granted, and pissed away that time endangering my life with more drugs and more alcohol.
I have a friend, one of our men, who went out at almost the four year mark. He was good, and stable. In the end, he fucked off, and isolated, and that black hole swallowed him whole.
My friend speaks of it this way … “He needs to practice his Emergency Exit Plan.”
Everyone needs an Emergency Exit Plan …
Everybody, no matter how long you are Clean and Sober.
You need to put your oxygen mask on FIRST, before you can help someone else !!!
Had he done that, he could have avoided using again.
I’ve learned in sobriety that in certain cases, I must be liberal in my approach to my friends and fellows.
My friend, returned with three years banked in the hopper.
Does he go back to the end of the line, or does he just keep going ?
He has ALL that TIME, in history, knowledge and sobriety.
He knows what to do, it isn’t like he forgot.
Pushing him to the back of the line, is detrimental, I believe to his well being.
The time one spends on a slip has to be calculated on where you land when you return.
If you have some serious time banked, and your slip is brief, (sometimes that can also be disastrous) You need to figure out where you are in your head and in your life.
The worse the slip, the harder the climb back into life.
Some people don’t make it back. They resign themselves to sobriety loss, and decide to just pack it in. They might be in a meeting, but they have disconnected.
Time has no meaning for them any more.
What does my friend do ? Well, right now he is doing service and he’s pounding his meetings. He feels shame and fear because of what he did to himself, and now what came of his actions upon those he worked with and friends he has known.
We know he is his own worst critic.
My friend and I talked about the TWO OPTIONS plans.
We agree that Option #1 – works for him.
He needs to get back on the horse. Yes he is marking new time, but with years of sober time banked behind him. So he has all that experience to work with, in figuring out what he wants to do now.
There are those who come back, and they reconnect, but they need to re-engage with The Book, The Steps and Meetings. (also contingent on how long they were absent).
We need to provide for everybody ALL the TOOLS they need to recover.
We are human, and we need to be reminded that (If we had time) that time still exists, on the continuum. You just don’t STOP living, because you slipped.
So let’s give you tools and trades to get back into the game as quick as possible, so that this time, you STICK and STAY.
We don’t need to punish people by telling them to go to the back of the line, now you start over in sobriety, that none of your past time matters …
That is NOT true.
All time matters. It matters by the strength of that banked time.
In my case, my past time was pretty non-existent. What I got the second time around mattered more now, than it did the first time around. The messaging was off, I wasn’t in the book, I wasn’t connected to a sponsor and I was my own worst enemy.
So the second time I DID start over from scratch.
Because I had nothing to bank on …
What if YOU have TIME to bank ON ? And you SLIP ?
Would you rather get back on the horse and pick up where you left off, or would you like to go back to square one, and start over, as if your past banked time, did not exist in the first place ? Or that your past time did not matter ?
The choice is yours.
It was another beautiful day in the neighborhood. Much warmer than it was yesterday, and we will take any day full of sun, as we can get. It might be the second week of June, but before we know it, it will be the beginning of September, and Summer will all but be gone.
For the past few months, I have witnessed new members coming to our rooms, that we have not seen, at all, in the past. Montreal’s Jewish community is legendary. When I got sober, this time around, it was the Jewish Chabad community, who took me in and cared for me when I needed it most.
Whenever I am able, I give back, until I am empty.
It seems, as of late that, we are serving the Hasidim community on a much more personal level. I’ve been listening to our men talk, about their struggles, their families and their troubles with addiction.
Addiction knows no barrier when it comes to the who and the why. Everyone is fair game. With communities that are insulated, they usually deal with daily problems, “in house, among themselves.”
Montreal is a city that is based in communal living. With many religious and ethnic communities existing side by side. But again, there are certain conversations that are only dealt with, inside the sacred circle of that respective community.
For a handful of men, they have left the security of their communities, and they have found their way into our rooms. And I have been paying attention to them, personally.
Today we read from the book, and the chapter: The Perpetual Quest.
It is a story about a woman, who reaches her bottom, and finds her way to the rooms, in her city. The portion of the read I focused on was the last three pages of the story, where she hears just what she needs to do to stay sober.
I chose the reading, because, if we could cut, copy and paste this portion of the story, and hand this document out to newcomers or, more to the point, to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking, we would have our work done for us, in one swing.
Many people talk about the suggestions.
Service, Meetings, Big Books, Steps and Sponsors.
Everybody hears the same message, from the get go. Many of us would rather eat dirt, than follow a simple suggestion.
This problem exists everywhere. There is a lot of anger being spoken about. Yet, we come to meetings, anyways. Because we are told that if we show up, the rest will fall into place.
Getting sober is just the tip of the iceberg for many members and my friends. Many people come with multiple problems, and are cross addicted, or have more than, “just a drinking problem.” And I heard those words spoken again tonight.
Our new men, who come from their respective communities have said to us that they deal with more than just drinking. And people across the board, beg the question, “what do I do with the twenty four hours, each day?”
One answer I heard tonight was, “well, as long as you are sitting in a meeting, you can knock that hour off the time line.” And “the more meetings you fit into your weekly schedule, the less time you have to spend in your head.”
When we come into sobriety from whatever addiction we inhabit, we begin to cleanse the temple of our bodies, that God has given us.
I was not sure how to approach this topic with our men, I just spent the last hour with my Elder friend Spencer and he gave me some sound advice, at how to bridge faiths.
Now I have an idea of what I need to do. God brings certain people and problems into our lives for a specific reason. We either know what to do, or, we know other people, who might know what to do, or we ourselves learn what it is we need to know, in order to serve the greater good.
I have faith. I have the book. I have my knowledge. And I have God, in my pocket.
If some have left the security of insulation, searching for a solution they need, because they have suffered and have transgressed their scriptures and proscriptions and doctrines and covenants of Judaism, they have come to places that I exist in.
I have a desire to help them, and tonight, I was taught, what it was that I did have, by someone I respect fully, and now from him, I know what I can do, with the tools God has already given me.
There is a three fold recipe that is necessary for transmission:
- One, you need a Human Being
- Two, you need the Book
- Three, you need a problem that you can give context to, teaching wise
If you have these three dynamic pieces, miracles happen.
Spencer was at the MTC this week, and he met a young missionary.
While Spencer was here, in Montreal, he worked in Cornwall, a few hours drive from Montreal. While there he ministered to our young man’s grandfather, who was, later, baptized in the church.
His grandson, our young Elder in training, there in Utah, had met Spencer here, while on his mission. It was a Miracle Full Circle moment for him. Because our young man said to him, weren’t you in Canada, that answer was yes. Weren’t you in Cornwall, that answer was also yes, he put the pieces together that before our young man was called to his mission, he met Elder Spencer here in Canada, during His mission.
How often do you see someone in a foreign country, and meet them and share time with, and then find out that they are right in your own back yard, preparing to go on their very own mission ???
That is a miracle for sure.
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.
It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.
I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.
A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.
Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …
Service will keep you sober.
The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.
I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.
It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.
Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.
The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.
Read This Book …
This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.
The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.
How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%
I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.
With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.
Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.
I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.
We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.
If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.
Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.
That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.
We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.
I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …
So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.
That was a particularly good God Moment.
When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.
The rest you can say is history.
Because I am right here, right now.
And We did not drink today.
And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.
It was a good thing …
Today was a beautiful day. The shift in my life continues. If you are not growing while you are getting sober, then, you are wasting valuable time.
I got a major clothes haul in the mail, a few more pieces for my sporty wardrobe. There is a major piece on its way right now.
I did my chores and my grocery shop, and had the rest of the day to fart around, and get a power nap in, before I had to go. One of my lady friends, lined up my speaker for the evening. And she is a critical woman in my life.
My friend took her lumps early on in her sober journey. After a crash and burn, and the loss of everything good in her life, a husband, children, family, and friends, she ended up in the familiar “Spa Rehab” that many of our women characterize their rehab experiences as.
That is a common theme with some of our gals. We all know what that Spa is …
She came out of rehab and landed back here in Montreal. That was just the beginning of shit that happened to her. Not long after, doctors told her that she was going to die, because she trashed her liver.
Thankfully, because she was sober, she got on a transplant list. Cue the Hurry Up and Wait period of time. In that time, she was very sick and on the edge of death. By God’s Grace, a donor was found. We hauled her off to the hospital and sat with her from start to finish.
I can report that my friend is indeed, Alive and Well.
I had not seen her since I began this trek with my personal well-being. And like most of my friends, she was flabbergasted with how good I looked. She said to me, that I looked really well, and add to that, she noticed that my entire “being” had changed. She commented that “the energy I was giving off was the biggest change.”
Both of us have experience in recovery and rehab. We are both schooled in nutrition and both of us are on the “real food diet.” We compared notes together and found that we were on the same page mentally, emotionally and physically.
Sometimes listening to our friends talk from the chair, is just what the doctor ordered.
Sobriety brings many gifts to us. But they only come when we are ready to receive them. One thing she focused on was her belief that what we send out to the universe, comes back to us, from the direction we sent it out.
Over time, we learn that sending out negativity and sorrow, turns into positivity and happiness. Because a little bit of the universe, is inside of us, and a lot of the universe lies UP THERE, in the firmament, we are connected, every second, to all that is …
The universe is always there, paying attention to our progress. My friend is a prime example of what is possible when you get well. We take care of the insides, and over time, the outsides begin to match us pound for pound.
We only want good things to come to us, so together, like many others in our lives, we send goodness out, and in time goodness returns.
Another thought was this …
Once we get sober and we begin to honor our bodies, soberly, we must turn inwards and honor our spirits and our well-being. Over time, the Inside Job, turns into an all out Outside Job.
90% of feeling good is looking good.
Me No Frumpy Man …
Everybody has noticed. And it looks really good on me. People are amazed at the positive progression that I have been on. And my lady friend is right up there with me.
People who face serious adversity, and some, even death, we see life in a way that most don’t. Because if you survive a trip into mortal territory, and you survive, one never takes for granted the life we have been spared.
All of my friends – a good number of them – have faced medical challenges over the last year, and on certain nights, we get to sit in the same room together and share experience, strength and hope.
Life is good. Everybody is well. And we are all sober.
Claim your life, Honor your spirit, and be Good to Others.
The Universe is paying attention.
We are all very thankful that we did not drink today.
One little drink, would really fuck up a good thing.
Which is why we go to meetings.
This visual of the “Jam Jar” came up in our Elder discussion tonight.
My Elder friend works at the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah. As a leader, it is his job to bring new missionaries into service. And hopefully before they depart Provo, they will have a basic understanding about what they need to have within, a foundation in service, to be able to give, and a working knowledge about The Book, they need to share.
Ministry and Sobriety are very similar.
In my life, and in my experience, service is the foundation for survival. When I was very ill, and Todd was taking care of me, the “doing” of service was the tool or lesson, so to speak, was where we began.
In Sobriety, this time around, way back when, people in the rooms, basically said, “You will do this, and learn to love it.” It wasn’t a suggestion, it was Gospel. Service was the beginning of getting sober. And service is something I live by, to this day.
Today’s generation cannot be bothered when you tell them what to do, because they look at you and say to your face … “You’ve got to be kidding, You can’t be serious, Why do I have to get my hands dirty, to stay clean and sober ???”
People don’t want to be told what to do, but in reality, this is what you NEED to do. It will keep you humble and focused on doing for others, just because, because this is what I did, and it worked for me.
People today, don’t have respect for long term experience. They cannot wrap their heads around it, service. Like us, Young Missionaries who come to the center, need to know how to serve and get their hands dirty in the classroom, because when they get into the field, they might need to get dirty, or wash dishes, or rake leaves, or something like that.
And if they are not prepared to give FIRST, they surely won’t be able to share the book, well, or at all, because they won’t have foundational abilities to give.
Having Elder Christensen in my life today is SO important to my spiritual growth. I have spiritual teachers in my life, spread all over the word, that I speak to regularly, who keep me on the spiritual beam, so to speak.
So here is my jam jar, filled with every little lesson I can teach you. Take that lesson filled jam jar home with you, open it and begin to use the tools within.
In the beginning, all we want you to do is serve others.
**** **** ****
Tonight we heard a woman from our community speak. What she shared, struck me familiar, because I had heard some of her story in others, in the past. Familiar themes exist in a community, and you hear of them every once in a while, they are not constant.
After several stops and starts, our woman makes her first pass at the rooms. She reaches her year and her husband says to her, after all that work that …
“You did a good job this year, getting and staying sober. Now you are CURED, you don’t need THOSE PEOPLE any more.”
What does she do? She walks away, and never returns. But she does stay sober for SIXTEEN YEARS.
She gets a real estate job, and she wants a particular listing. She takes this client out for dinner and a local ritzy restaurant in Westmount, very close to home. The waiter walks up to the table and the client orders a glass of wine.
Our long sober woman, takes a five second pause, while she considers ordering a glass of wine for herself. Those Five Seconds, change her life. She does indeed say to herself that, wow, I’ve been sober all this while and I haven’t had a drink, a glass of wine, how much harm can that cause ?
She orders a glass of wine and then has a second.
In six weeks time, from that point, she looses her marriage, her children, her job, and those clients she covets.
Four years of in and out begin.
Women suffer too …
By this time, almost twenty years have passed and she has not logged another long sober period, until she has a blackout and comes to, in her living room, surrounded by 20 wine bottles, laying on her living room floor.
She makes the call, and tries to find herself in a ritzy, spa, rehab. She does not.
There is a rehab here called Toxico Stop. It is rough and tumble. Not the kind of place a ritzy Westmount wife would find herself in. But that’s where she ends up.
A few of us in the room tonight were familiar with it, so it made us all giggle …
She meets some serious drug addicts and learns about heroine, and crack and all kinds of sordid addictions. All this is unfamiliar territory for her.
Three weeks later she comes out and finds herself at a meeting, and at the door, are two women, who knew her from almost twenty years ago. They recognize her and they take her in.
They give her the ground rules.
- You’re gonna go to these meetings,
- you are gonna do service,
- and your gonna READ the BOOK.
- These are non-negotiable.
It was like that for me too, fifteen years and six months ago as well.
Drunks and Addicts today, don’t want non-negotiables. They don’t want rules. And they sure as shit, don’t want to be told what to do. Because let’s face it …
It’s us who are crazy, not them. I would never listen to your suggestions, firstly, because this is the way ( I ) am going to get sober. They say …
The above notes experiences, I have heard them all before, never all together, but as bits and pieces of several story tellers.
Our woman is sober today. By the Grace of God.
She’s not so focused on old timers, but finds joy and humility is working with New Comers. Because they have the most to teach us about ourselves and our sobriety.
I know what I have to do now. I know who I want to be. I want to be like my Elder friend Spencer. And in order to be like him, I have to act, every day, LIKE HIM, and in that be LIKE Heavenly Father.
True to God and True to myself and my Fellows.
This is where it begins, and will follow.
Our sobriety is in our hands. I am personally responsible for my sobriety. If I want to be sober, then I have to do the work. That’s all there is to it, really. I’m not going to get sober, sitting at home isolating, or sitting in a meeting and not engaging.
There is only a short amount of time for you to just WARM a chair. At some point you are going to have to engage, or go back out and DRINK. Who wants that for themselves ?
There are some who still do that, to this very day.
If you want sobriety, then you are going to have to work for it. What you put into it, is what you get out of it. And I am putting a lot into me right now. It’s coming fast and furiously.
If someone gives me suggestions, I should really DO THEM. If you ARE NOT doing service SOMEWHERE at least one night of the week, what the FUCK are you going to meetings for ? Really !!!
I tell my friends to do service, or to call a friend and connect, and they look at me like I am from MARS or something, or that I must be CRAZY.
Oh, for the Love of God ….
I am still processing all the pieces of advice I have heard from friends and fellows. I’ve been to a few meetings. Tonight, I saw my sponsor and HIS sponsor. I spoke to another friend who is LONG sober, and understood where I am in my head.
- I have been through the Angry Period
- I am sitting in my Unvarnished/Unfiltered stage
- My Sober “Give a Damn” is Broken
- Sometimes I just need to call a “Douche Bag a Douche Bag”
- I am allowing assholes and elbows to infect my serenity and sobriety
- That’s not good at all. Working on that presently !
- Heavenly Father is directing the show – there is no doubt
- My Elder Friend Spencer is in the loop
- According to the men who were in the room on Thursday, I did fine
- I was honest, I spoke what needed to be said
- Even if assholes and elbows were sitting in the room
- My Long Sober friend who “got me” said that once he was so angry from the chair that he got up and stopped talking and left the meeting, because of the same shit I was seeing from the chair the other night
- I may not have IT, but I do have a variant of IT
- I am directed to PAGE 112 in the Book – The first three words … READ THIS BOOK
- We are reading the book.
- If faced with an asshole, I should suggest page … 112
- Right now, I don’t really care if I hurt your feelings, this is where I am right now
- If I don’t know what to do, I do service, ALL the TIME
- It is HIGHLY suggested that if I give you a suggestion … LISTEN for Fuck’s Sake
Oprah on God …
Heavenly Father speaks to us. Often. However, we don’t always hear Him or get the message or the memo. In the beginning, the first time, Heavenly Father whispers, if we don’t hear it the first time, He whispers again, the second time.
If we don’t get it twice over, the third pass, is when Heavenly Father hits us in the back of the head with a 2 x 4. If we miss it the third time, the final pass is when Heavenly Father drops the wall, on top of us …
I’ve actually experienced this series of hits, I had the wall fall on me. This happened a few years ago, during my heavy growth period between twelve and fifteen.
I’m sure that some of my friends took it personally, that I said the words, “YOU are a Douche Bag,” at the Friday meeting, two weeks ago, because they are not returning my phone calls.
That’s the problem with some people. People always assume, you are talking about THEM, in a meeting, and rather than ask ME what was going on, or if I indeed was talking about them, they go silent and they avoid me like the plague. If I have something to say to you, I am going to say it to your face.
That night, I WAS talking about someone specific, which was very close to cross talking,
It is what it is …
Some of my friends ARE Douche Bags. That’s just the honest TRUTH !
My friends, my CLOSE friends, will come to me and tell me when I am being a DOUCHE BAG. Last Friday my friend Joe took me aside and sternly suggested that I change my tack, because I scared some of my friends out of the room that night.
Douche Bags … All of them.
Why do we always have to be Politically Correct, and skate over the truth, so we don’t harm someone’s tender sensibilities ???
FUCK ME ALREADY
I’m tired of SUGAR coating my WORDS and dancing on the head of a fucking PIN.
I’d rather be Imperfect and Honest, rather than be Perfect and Dishonest.
I’d rather be honest and be hated, than to always have to sprinkle sugar on my friends character defects and shortcomings, like they don’t exist.
Oh, but they say, progress not perfection, you cannot expect someone who is less sober than you, to be in the same place mentally and emotionally, where you are. People have been straight up honest with me, they never let me skate across the ice like I was a professional hockey player.
I don’t play hockey and I’ve never been to a hockey game, not once.
It’s OK for you to be an asshole and I let you slide, and if I step one step out of your comfort zone, you fucking shun me like pariah …
What the FUCK is that, really ???
I may not be very sober, at least, here I can be honest. I am doing my best.
I’m so glad that I got my “Geographic Disease of Alcoholism” under control. I just know that if I had a car, all bets would be off … Not that I’d drink again.
Heavenly Father took the car away from me for a reason when He did. If I was grounded in One Place, I might settle down and get better and stop drinking.
Which is what I did here. I landed sober, and I’ve stayed sober.
Living here is the longest period in my life that I have been settled in One Place for this long. I made the right decision.
Met a young girl from ICELAND tonight, here on vacation. I asked her, “Why would you come here of all places, if you lived in freaking ICELAND ???”
Her response … Well I live there. She wanted to see Canada for the first time.
That’s like when I lived on Miami Beach. Locals never pay attention to their surroundings, because we live there and work there for a living.
I never went to the beach, probably once or twice in the middle of the night, and not during the day. It’s funny, I worked for a bit in a friend’s tanning salon, during my final drinking period.
I was amazed at all the GYM bunnies, who would not dare go to the beach and get sand in their bathing suits. On a Friday afternoon, or all day Saturday, they would come and tan, so that they had that GLOW about them to go drinking that night.
God forbid someone actually had to do the work of taking care of one’s self naturally.
If I can drink it, bathe in it, or spray it on, all the better.
That is, if you can afford, the easier softer way …
God I love sobriety.
This entire emotional period of my life is like one HUGE rocking roller coaster.
They warned me that I would feel again. It only took fifteen year to get here. I have friends who are early on, who are also on this roller coaster themselves.
Political Correctness has gone out the window for many of us. Not sure how sober that is, by my sponsor and HIS sponsor tell me that sometimes Honesty is the best policy.
YAY for Honesty …
The sun is shining. The city has been basking in Summer like weather for the past couple of days. Days of sun, are going to turn into days of rain tomorrow, and on through Monday and Tuesday. UGH !
Tuesday and Wednesday are my off days. Off days, are reserved for chores, laundry and cleaning. Yesterday I cranked all morning to get all my chores done, so that I had the rest of the day to sleep.
It pays to have the BED of DEATH …
Once you lay down, there is no getting up, it’s so GOOD.
Recent New Updates
I am so very tired of politics on the telly.
I’ve changed up my home page to the BBC a while back, so as to change the messaging coming at me on a daily basis. I am more interested in what is going on overseas, than I am in what is going on down South.
Any senseless killing of any innocent is a tragedy. The killing of innocent young people is abominable. There is no joy, blessing or eternal inheritance when you kill innocents.
If you kill an innocent, there won’t be 72 virgins waiting for you on the other side.
We are reminded, once again, to be VIGILANT, where ever we live. Be mindful of your surroundings. Be mindful of your fellows in public places, and most especially on the TUBE or the METRO, BUS or any other public transportation.
You are the best eyes law enforcement has, on the ground, in real time.
You might be cranking your tunes on your head set, Just pay attention to what is going on around you, as concert and events begin to crank up for the season.
If you see something strange, SPEAK UP.
If you see someone strange, PAY ATTENTION.
No city is totally guaranteed safe. Those fuckers always find a way to undermine our security. Go about your daily life, just a little more VIGILANTLY.
This afternoon I sat with my new sponsor to go over my script for tomorrow night’s meeting. I am speaking.
We are Ready to Rock and Roll people.
It is going to be great.
I once heard someone say that during an interview. And in tonight’s story, “Building a New Life,” You get to read about how our man “saw the ball, and became the ball.”
After a life of self-abuse, immaturity, and several attempts at sobriety, via rehab institutions, he finally finds his way to us. And you’d think that somewhere on his route to us, he would find the key, the desire, and the will to get sober.
He does not.
Finally, after admitting defeat, he finds his way in.
They say, well, it was said to me, this time around that:
“At the time we begin drinking and using, for most of us, that begins very early in life, that we stop growing emotionally and mentally, AT the age we began consuming.”
Most people, who enter the rooms, at whatever stage they enter, are stuck somewhere on the emotional and mental timeline in their lives. If we stick and stay, like we remind our folks, we begin to grow up, be it ever so slowly.
When our man came in, he was a disheveled mess of a human being. But what he saw, changed his life for the better. It is said by many, that on their first entrance to the rooms, they witnessed people, well dressed, happy, and laughing among themselves.
For most of us, this was jarring, to say the least.
Our man saw men, well dressed in suits. I imagine that he was not a “Man in a suit, just yet.” He just wanted to be a man in a suit. There is a metaphor there.
I know, from the read, that our man wanted to clean up his life and his person. That does not happen overnight either. We first have to put down the substance, and gather ourselves together to make that walk into the rooms, with whatever self-respect and dignity we might still have.
Eventually, over time, our man does become, “That man in a suit.”
I know, for me, that it took a very long time to figure out who I wanted to become in sobriety. I had past examples of men I wanted to be like, (read: Todd). In the rooms, this time around, I found men, whom I came to respect and admire.
I’ve always said that, getting sober this time around was a scientific study of people; Situations, Decisions, Choices, and even Bad Choices. I brought to myself everything that I saw that was good, and made them mine. Everything else I left.
Like our man who saw the suits, and wanting to become a suit, he worked hard to become “that man in a suit.”
There are many layers to this achievement.
One, he had to figure out who he was, when he walked into the rooms. That takes time. He got into service early on, which will save your sobriety, if you do service early on.
Two, he had to find a sponsor and get into The Work and the Steps, to figure out where he had gone wrong, what led him to drink, and to clear away the wreckage of his past.
And Three, he had to figure out who he wanted to be. What he wanted to be was “That man in a suit.” Well dressed, well put together, and Mature …
In the beginning, it might have meant something to him, to get dressed, when he went to a meeting, like the men he saw, when he walked in.
90% of feeling good, is looking good.
He walked in and saw something that appealed to his better nature. He dressed the part, hoping, that at some point in his journey, he would fully inhabit, “That man in a suit.”
When I came in, I had already made the decision that I was ready to grow up and become a man, now. THEN, I had to figure out what that looked at in real-time, in watching the many men, I came in contact with, in the rooms.
I wanted to be grown up. I wanted to be responsible. I wanted to be a man.
I saw the ball, and I started acting like the ball, at over time, I became the ball.
This runs along the lines of “Acting as if…”
The visual I am talking about now is a much better example of acting as if.
I’ve been through many incarnations of myself over the years. Looking good, was the first stage of becoming good. Responsibility came second. I walked into a room, and I joined that group … Tuesday Beginners” right off the bat, on that first night.
The first thing they said to me is “do service.” I did service. I still do service to this day.
I wanted to be part of, and to “Become.”
You can’t become, if you don’t engage.
It wasn’t a suit that I was after. There were men, in certain meetings, who had a certain dress code, for their men, at that specific meeting.
I know when the Elders walked into my life, dressing the part, was part in parcel of becoming part of.
First we get into the rooms. We find a focal point. We meet people we want to be like. We clean up the wreckage of our pasts, then we are ready to begin building.
My education, at the beginning, was just to get settled and build my foundation.
At eleven months, my manhood appeared. I made a crucial decision. The rest, you can say, is history. All the goodness, all the badness, all the pain, and all the struggle, made me the man I am today.
The one CONSTANT in my life IS the rooms and SERVICE.
They told me that if I put anything before my sobriety, that would fail. I began to build infrastructure of meetings, people, sponsors, etc …
I still have that framework in action to this very day.
Shit happens in life, and it ain’t all rosy and happy, all the time. In all seriousness, over the last year, I have been in the emotional and mental wringer, to be honest. And watching my friends, or people I considered my friends, react, to my distress, has been an eye-opening experience for sure.
Not everybody is your friend, especially when time get tough.
But we persist !
In the beginning, I had just a simple idea of what I wanted.
Simply, I wanted to grow up and become a man.
How to get there was the challenge. Like our man, in the story tonight, he connected to something that spoke to his better nature, and he latched on.
Sobriety, takes time. A LOT of time.
Eventually our man became “That man in a suit.”
With all the love, adoration, respect and dignity, that that SUIT bestowed on him.
90% of feeling good, is looking good…
Today we talked about the survival of the fellowship.
Clearly, our first duty to A.A.’s future is to maintain in full strength what we now have. Only the most vigilant care taking can assure this. Never should we be lulled into complacent self-satisfaction by the wide acclaim and success that are everywhere ours. This is the subtle temptation which could render us stagnant today, perchance disintegrate us tomorrow. We have always rallied to meet and transcend failure and crisis. Problems have been our stimulants. How well, though, shall we be able to meet the problems of success ?
I wonder out loud, quite often, to my friends that, “Is anybody listening ?” Are people really that stupid ? Does anyone take into consideration that the words we speak really do matter, and that if you follow these very simple suggestions,
“You won’t have to drink today !!!”
I don’t know what more I can do for the men and women I work with, then to continue repeating the same refrains to them, because, right now, they are not listening.
Yet my phone rings daily, with the drama of the day …
It is beginning to wear thin, on my very last good nerve.
Conflict is something that happens in the rooms. I know, from conflicts past, that if conflict happens, that I just keep my mouth shut, walk away, find a meeting to do service in, and wait for God to work His miracles, in the universe.
Recently, God has been bringing the douche bags into the Friday meeting, one by one.
I talked last night about saying words, that may well fall on deaf ears. I talked about letting people slide, when they piss us off, or do something stupid.
All day, the rat has been on his wheel in my head, thoughts about people, places and things, that really have no bearing on my life today. I am going to be in the hot seat next week, and I’ve been working on my script … Yes I use a script, because my memory is not what it used to be, and the last time I spoke it was a HUGE shit show. And I am not going to stand up in front of my home group next Thursday and be a douche bag myself.
I wanted to nap for a few hours and my brain was on overdrive, and that fucked up the entire day. I took a shower and headed out to do set up. When I finished, I called my sponsor and told him I was in the weeds. I only asked him to work with me last week, so the ground rules have not been spoken, and we need to do that and talk about next Thursday while we are at it.
He does not agree with me on a script. That’s ok. I’m not going to get up there and fuck it up for sure, in any case.
I talked tonight about degrees of separation.
The people in the rooms, are in our lives, in degrees of separation. The closer you are to me, the more likely I am to tell you when Yes, You Are A Douche Bag.
The further away you are from me, I will let you slide. There are people who rub me like spiritual sand paper. They can go fuck themselves. I already know You Are A Douche Bag, and I want nothing to do with you.
On the way home, I was talking to a friend about negativity and people who have no bearing on our lives today. And he asked how did I cope with assholes and elbows ?
It has taken the whole of my sobriety to figure out how to let go of people who are assholes, namely family, who are total Douche Bags. The less time I spend thinking about them the better. I used to ruminate at great lengths the depth of pain these people HAD caused me in the past, and I used to allow that pain to infect my daily life, for a long time.
Bob calls this the hostage theory … His theory was that he was adopted. Then he used to use Well, I’m Gay … It was one thing after another.
I don’t have any more hostage stories to tell. And nobody wants to hear them either. I don’t want to listen to myself, dredge up all that old bitter shit …
Ugh, the drama of it all.
The less time and personal emotional power I spend carrying people, places and things that have no impact on my life today, the better.
If we carry around all that shit baggage, and we spend hours upon hours of our days and nights ruminating over that shit, that’s a lot of personal mental energy spent WASTED.
Do you know how long it took me to get that ? Having heard Bob talk about this more than five years ago ? And I listen to him often, because he’s on my pod cast player.
UGH… I’m so tired.
I hate sitting in a meeting knowing one of my former douche bag sponsees is sitting in the room trying to ignore me and not talk to me. But he came with a friend, who I haven’t talked to in seven months, who rang my phone at 11:30 last night.
Oh, Hi, How are you ? It’s been so long, we need to catch up. What have you been up to ? I wanted you to know I started going to other meetings. He came to Friday meeting last week, because my best friend took his five-year chip.
I gave him that piece of advice – going to other meetings, more than ten months ago, and he finally got around to making that work.
Douche Bag !
Working to stay sober. I’ve done what I’ve always done, when conflict happens. I shut my mouth, I walk away, I find another meeting, and I do service.
I don’t get it that people who know me, for more than a few years, seem to think, that keeping it simple is such hard work !
I’ve done the same thing I was told to do when I came in. I took to heart every piece of advice given to me, and I still do those things today, like clockwork.
My life is built around my meetings and doing service.
How difficult is that ?
Yet, there are a handful of friends, who did not heed that advice, and over the past seven months, have gone back out and drank again, and used again. One of my friends took a chip tonight, and he just does not get it.
It’s not complicated.
Pick up the phone, talk to someone, get to a meeting, do some freaking service for God’s sake. It’s not complicated.
Obviously, people are not listening to anything lately.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
You’re a Douche Bag …