Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

Posts tagged “Sobriety

Spring Cleaning – Fresh Things Up a Bit

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Last night, I went across my social media accounts and the blog, and got rid of all kinds of old information, photos and material.

You will see, today, the fruits of that late night effort. The blog has been scrubbed of old and outdated personal information. The photo log on the sidebar has been freshened up with new images, reflective of where I am in my life.

The last week of March, I began the Keto Genic Diet. Next week is the beginning of May. I will accrue two months and a little longer on the diet. At the end of May, I drop labs across the board. This Keto Diet, removes sugar, carbs, sweets. soda, and junk foods and moves towards an entirely new dietary regimen.

I continue to drop weight. Hence the sporty tone of the blog and my present state of mind. A gym and exercise schedule has been added to the dietary regimen. I am hoping that this change of lifestyle has changed the insides, as I was told they would, if I adhered to the diet religiously.

I’ve updated the Gravatar and updated the About Me section on Gravatar and above in the About Me Page up top.

The march towards fifty continues. As it goes, every day it feels a little more comfortable and this new way of life has been working well.

People are noticing the changes in my looks and my figure. This week people have been commenting to me that I’ve seriously changed physically, and they all tell me that I’ve never looked better in as many years.

Something seems to be working.

It is not too late to change your life.

My friends all care about me, and when it mattered, they spoke to me and told me that I needed to make some changes in my life. And I listened to them.

And now we are here, today.

Thanks to all my new subs and my dedicated readers to the blog.

“Because without you, I am indeed, talking to myself …”

Joey Elias, CJAD Comedy host.


Thursday … The Shoe Store

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I was talking to an elder friend at the meeting tonight and he was in Florida for a month. He had gone to a meeting, and met a very nice woman from India. They were talking about that meeting, on that night.

Every meeting has one, we all know what it is, but nobody who really engages in their sobriety, will utilize them. Where you sit, in a room, is a good barometer of where you are in your sobriety. Some call it, “Front Row Sobriety,” however, not a lot of people sit in the front row, except for those who are used to sitting there regularly.

Many of us don’t want to sit in the very front row …

I am a second row sober man. I always sit in my same seat on Thursday’s. On Friday I sit in my regular seat, right at the front of the table, next to the chair. That is my seat.

Every meeting has a “Back Row” of seats, right along the back wall. Various people, in various meetings, sit in that proverbial back row. Some sober folks with lots of time, who don’t necessarily want to draw attention to themselves, sit in the back row.

That is common.

Then, you have those people who are the last ones in, they either come right at the hour, or just after. So all the seats up front are all taken, by the time the meeting starts. Which dictates that, if you want a front row, or front of the room seat, you have to get there early.

The back rows of a meeting, are usually sat with folks who sneak in, just under the hour mark, and fail to get a seat up front, or further to the front.

The conversation my friend had with the Woman from India, concerned The Shoe Store:

And she said to him, “You know that back row of seats ? Yeah, he said, she continued:

That back row is the Shoe Store … You have the Loafers, the Sneakers, and the Slippers.

All the shoes are represented …

We had a good laugh.

Here, we know about that back row. Those people who come in last, or late. Usually, they don’t make it till the end of the meeting. Or, they are the last ones in and the first ones out after the prayer concludes. They come and go, with negligible contact with anyone, because they really don’t want to interact with anyone in the room, for one reason or another.

Seating in a meeting is time sensitive. The earlier you get there, the better seat you are going to be able to choose, if you choose. Most of my friends always sit in the same areas.

Those who sit in the front row, or those who sit in the middle of the action, and those who tend to hang back in the pack. In an unobtrusive seat, like I said, where they do not bring attention to themselves.

In all my meetings, I do service, one way or another. So I have my choice of seat. I see everybody who comes in the room. I try and shake hands with each one of them, as one of my other elder friends said to me once …

When you shake a hand, it is very important to ALWAYS make eye contact. And you always want to SMILE. Because we want people to feel welcomed and that we mean goodness when we shake their hands, and not seem like we are put out by having to greet, when we really don’t want to greet …

Before the meeting tonight, one of my friends, whom I have not seen in a while came. And we sat outside talking about Yoga, the Gym and Work.

I know for me, as I said to her, that, “You just got to stick around…” “You just have to STAY and watch your friends and your fellows.” I know that I watch my friends, and over the past many months, I see how hard I have worked, and how little others have worked. And it shows in their carriage and demeanor, and in their words, when they speak.

The amount of work you put into your sobriety, shows up over time. And every time you hear someone talk, you get an idea of just how MUCH or how LITTLE, they are contributing to their own sobriety.

I’ve been around a good stretch of time. And I know all of my friends. I know who they were when they came in, and what kinds of decisions they made, and how fucked up things got, in the interim.

My friend added … Yeah, Shit Happens. And that is true.

I, at least, have an idea of the trajectory I am on, and where I want to go. I feel good. I look good, because for a long time, I did not look good at all. I was just hanging out, waiting for something to happen. I really wasn’t concerned with my well being, all that well. Not Good at all.

I was sober, but I was physically, COASTING …

Back in February, I got a kick in the ass at the doctors office. For the first time, in a long time, I really noticed that my body had changed for the better. I had settled for my pear shaped, bloated belly, ass hanging out HIV look.

For a good decade, I was resigned to the shape my body had taken. I had said to myself,

“Well, fuck it. This is the body God gave me so I better get used to it.”

In February, through diet, exercise and medical treatment, My body did actually shift in the positive direction. And I noticed it. Which sent me into overdrive, mentally and emotionally. I changed my wardrobe. I got sexy. And damn, I looked good.

And my friends all noticed. That has changed my outlook in ways I had not really considered.

Here we are today.

Fifty is beginning to feel good to me. And thankfully,

I am not sitting in the Shoe Store.


Monday: You are NOT ALONE any more …

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In the Book of Genesis, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, So he took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Adam was no longer alone.

  • How many of us grew up alone ?
  • How many of us are alone ?
  • And how many of us drank ALONE ?

My grandmothers, the two women I hold in my heart, believed in me. And while they were in my life, for those brief years, I was not alone. My father, in his misguided way, thought that we, as a family, were better off :

ALONE …

And over my childhood, alienated every family member out of our lives, so he could shape his family, in his own image, without the influence of anyone else.

As a thirteen year old, loosing that connection to the women who helped me stay alive, amid the violence and alcoholism that pervaded our family, was catastrophic.

For everyone.

I always kept to my room, even when my father took the door off the hinges. I was never alone, my father was always in my face. But there were times, when I was alone. And looking back now, I see how alone I really was.

Everybody knew about the alcoholism. Nobody spoke of it, or offered a solution to the problem. And Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. Nobody allowed me to speak my mind or my heart.

When I had a job, that job was my life. There were several successive jobs that I really loved, and did well. I was not alone at work. The last job I had before I moved away from home was in a travel agency, where alcohol was served during business hours.

Over the ensuing years, those people I worked with got sober, while I remained a spinning tornado in their lives. In hindsight, none of them offered me “The Solution,” until I found my way to the rooms, by force when Todd saved my life.

I was a lone drinker, however, I drank in a bar, with people around me. I had many bell weather friends, but nobody who knew anything about life beyond drinking, drugging and having sex.

When I moved away to be Gay, I was told, by a shrink, that in order to fit in, I had to drink. So that is what I did. I never found the holy grail. I never found the answers I was seeking or the total acceptance that I was craving.

Being a lone alcoholic is a terrible way to live. Being around people, en mass, was not the answer. Nobody was paying attention, except to know what they wanted to take from me in the end.

It wasn’t until I got sober in 1994, that Todd had come to me, and picked me up off the parking lot pavement and took me in. For that first couple of weeks, he had stationed Danny in my apartment to keep an eye on me when we weren’t working at the bar.

Those first two years, with Todd, were the greatest period of my life. I was not alone any more. Todd was there to show me how to survive. How to live soberly, and he kept me above the water, when everybody else was sinking fast.

As long as He was there, I was fine. It was when he moved away, and I found myself alone, WITH TOOLS, but not having the ability to make things work by myself.

I just could not do it ALONE.

When I returned from my slip, I found a place to live, from a woman who thought it would be good to rent to me so that I would not be alone. And from that apartment, came the job that would change my life.

Still drinking, I had to get to the end. And I did eventually.

The day Troy walked into my life an uttered those simple words …

I did NOT drink today … He led the way into sobriety again, the second time.

When I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners became my home. I went there religiously for the following eleven years. That was the home group that made this life possible. Because my Home Group was hallowed ground.

My first sponsor, David, attached himself to me with an invisible tether. For a year, he took care of me, and I was not alone.

On my first anniversary, he ceded control, and that very night, was the first night I spent with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband.

God spoke and said that “it is not good for Jeremy to be alone …”

I’ve not been alone, from that moment on … To This Day.

There have been times, as I sat, where I am sitting at this very moment, in the middle of the night, as midnight closed in on me, mentally and emotionally, and felt that I was terribly alone with my sorrows, my trials, and my tribulations, when hubby was sick.

As long I was hitting my meetings, I was never alone.

I am better at being alone today. And I love the hours of the day when I am home alone. Because for many hours of the days, weeks, months and years, I am never alone.

I don’t think I could ever live alone again. And I am not sure what I would do if I ever found myself alone, for some UN-forseen circumstances.

The rooms provide.

That is a refrain that I repeat to my friends. The rooms of 2001 and beyond, here in Montreal, are not the same rooms in 2017. People have long since come and gone.

The rooms, and their people, are not as giving as they once were. But there are exceptions to that rule. Because, if you ask, people show up and step up.

That is a given, in many situations.

People today, still have problems asking for help. But I tell my friends that if they need something, anything, to bring it to a room and put it down on the table.

You might never know the results you might get, if you choose NOT to ask them.

In our story tonight, “He lived to drink” a successful, evangelical young man, with promise, God, family and a good job, falls into the addiction to alcohol.

All it took, was that FIRST drink, on his FIRST visit to a cocktail bar with friends from school.

From that point on, he was off and running.

He ran so far, that he ended up on skid row …

“It still did not register that the drinking might be the cause of all of my misery. I sold my blood. I prostituted myself; I drank more. I became homeless and slept in the bus and train terminals. I scrounged cigarette butts off the sidewalks and drank from a common wine bottle with other drunks. I drank my way to the men’s municipal shelter and made it my home. I panhandled. By this time I lived only to drink. I did not bathe or change clothes; I stank; I became thin and ill; I had begun to hear voices and accepted them as death omens. I was frightened, arrogant, enraged, and resentful of man, God, and the universe. there was nothing else to live for, but I was too frightened to die …”

It was at this point that a woman who was a social worker on skid row and a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous sat me down in her office and told me her story – how she drank, what happened, and how she got sober. No one had ever done this before.

I had been been preached to, analyzed, cursed, and counseled, but no one had ever said, “I identify with what’s going on with you. It happened to me, and this is what I did about it.” She got me to my first A.A. meeting that same evening.

Once our man, a black man, accepted goodness and love into his life, and he opened his heart to his fellows and later God, He realized that he was not alone.

And it is for this reason, in A.A., that you are not alone any more …

And that you never have to drink again …


Thursday: Good for another Year !

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Today, I paid my yearly domain fees. And we embark on another year of writing. The first post on this blog was posted on November 30th 2006. That is 11 years worth of writing. And today begins year number 12.

Earlier today, Face Book reminded me of things I have written in the past, that back then, were cross posting across all my social media. Today, it does not, except Twitter. On April 20th 2009, I wrote an extensive post on the Gospel of John. And as I re-read that passage today, I was amazed at how academically oriented I was, because I was still in University at that time. And I thought to myself …

I can’t believe I wrote that post.

It was amazing to me today, to see what and how I was writing throughout my university career. I mean, I don’t write like that today, except once in a blue moon when I really write something that is useful and pertinent.

I only kept a few of my course folders from university when I was studying Scripture and the Gospels and my Gnostic class notes.

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

Last weekend, I spent 5 days with Mama and Lu. Part of that time was spent crafting with Lu. Play Doh, Coloring, Puzzles, Markers, Stickers, so forth and so on. I had not touched a coloring book, oh, in ages, I guess. Mama told me that she found coloring with Lu to be really therapeutic and calming. So one night we sat and colored together and I left my pages tacked to the refrigerator there at home for them to look at.

Today, while out shopping, I went into our local Art Shop, which is on the ground floor of the mall, and they had a HUGE selection of Adult Art Therapy coloring books. I looked through all of them until I found one that appealed to me. In the end, I came away with 100 Mandalas.

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What is a Mandala ?

Oriental Art. a schematized representation of the cosmos, chiefly characterized by a concentric configuration of geometric shapes, each of which contains an image of a deity or an attribute of a deity.

With that book, I selected a deluxe set of colored pencils, instead of markers, because some of the art is very intricate and requires a fine hand with color.

If you haven’t colored since you were a kid, I highly recommend it. Turn off the computer and the tv, turn off your phone, and spend an hour coloring. You will feel so invigorated, it may change the way you spend your days.

So that is a thing …

This evening we sat a small group of folks. Passover and Easter have come to an end, and we were missing a good number of regulars. And tonight we heard a young lady speak. We are taught that we never say NO, unless we just can’t get up there and talk.

I’ve spoken before about the trials and tribulations of our young men and women. Young people in their twenties, going into their thirties, have difficulty finding their ways into sobriety and life, when they are so young. Unlike a good number of men and women who are much older than they are.

A young person, coming in on their first pass, into a room full of old people IS daunting.

Because they don’t see anyone like themselves. And in the suburbs and locations Off Island, many of those far off communities are filled with older folks who have moved off island to either retire or raise their kids away from the city. Our young lady grew up off island, in the burbs, to parents who were in the program while she grew up.

Kids being kids, we cannot, as members, get in the way of their spiritual journeys, I’ve heard it said by parents, in the program, while raising kids, that yes, they brought their kids to meetings early on, and yes, those parents can be positive role models for their kids to … Not to Do What We Did…

In the end though, they had to allow their young people to do what they needed to do, as in grow up and move away, go to school. They, as parents, could only do so much, without blatantly saying … Anything.

One night our young lady heard her mother tell her that:

Well, you know, You have the ISMS …

Having family in the program while we are drinking, can be both a blessing and a curse. But the one thing that stuck with her early on is this …

She could not enjoy her drinking while she tried to control it, And she could not control her drinking while she was enjoying it …

A conundrum for sure …

In the end, at twenty seven, she made it in. And in a couple of months will celebrate three years. Having to get up and tell people what it was like, what happened and what it is like now, she told us all the things she is NOT doing concerning her sobriety. Which spoke to her, telling her that she really had nothing to say, because she was resting on her laurels and really is not engaged as she should be, and she knew that going into tonight.

They tell us and the book says: 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…

I know for me, in years One through Twelve, I was going to meetings, working my steps, and going through the motions. In year twelve is when Bob from NYC sparked a fire under my ass and told me what I needed to do.

The Three, Seven and Eleven Shuffle …

Go to your Big Book … Copy out the Three, Seven and Eleven Prayers, right from the book, and post them where you will see them every day.

Some days, prayer is hard in coming. Some days I cannot be bothered. And some days, I cannot pray at all. But I see those words daily. They are on my computer … Where I put them almost four years ago.

Sometimes I just read the words. Sometimes I pray the words. Either way, I am taking the forward action of acknowledging the word printed in front of me.

I was told that if I did that, that my life would change. And in a matter of months, God shifted the cosmos for me and indeed, my life did change.

And that life is still in motion.

That was the advice I gave the crowd tonight as I gave away the Desire Chip ….

If you do this, and you pray, and then return to page 164 and read and re-read A Vision for You, you will know what you need to move forwards, and with that knowledge of what you really have to offer another human being, when your bank is full, then God will bring people to you..

In His Time and in His Wisdom…

It never fails …


Monday: Window of Opportunity

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One definition of a bottom is the point when the last thing you lost or the next thing you are about to lose is more important to you than booze. That point is different for everyone, and some of us die before we get there.

Our young man, at age nineteen, walked through a second story window, and had fallen twenty feet head first into a concrete window well.

He got sober after that event… YOUNG !!!

How many people get that chance to figure out their lives so young, find the rooms, and live successfully ?

Very Few

There are young people in our rooms. Some of them have stuck it out, on the first pass, and made it. However, many of them made several passes, and are in the room, not so sanguine as they once were. Then there are those who came in, cleaned up, figured out they were good, left the rooms, and never returned.

Some of those young people are dead now.

Had I figured out, at twenty-eight, how to do this when I found myself alone, at that time, I would be twenty-three years sober today. Those times, were fraught with complications, and sober groups, were not so accommodating to people with AIDS.

The good thing about hindsight is this … I have recorded, on this blog, every single lesson I learned during those first two years I was sober, the first time. And on this second pass, with proper support and people in our meetings here, I’ve succeeded very well.

But I know, I don’t have another recovery within me. I know that at any point, life can turn on a dime.

The book says quite succinctly:

There will come a time, when the only thing that stands between YOU and a DRUG or a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

Which is why, we need to connect with something Greater than Ourselves, sooner rather than later. I know, from experience lately, that those folks I see often, who are not spiritually connected, have flirted with crack pipes and heroine and alcohol.

The other night, I sat with a friend and told him what he really needed to do, if he wanted to succeed and not pick up that crack pipe again. Whether he follows that direction is still yet to be seen.

Funny that while we were reading this story, I got the portion that read:

“The speaker said, If you’re an apple, you can be the best apple you can be, but you can never be an orange. I was an apple all right, and for the first time I understood that I had spent my life trying to be an orange. I looked around at a room filled with apples and, if I was understanding the speaker, most of them were no longer trying to be oranges.”

I pride myself in knowing that if I wear something, I am completely sure that not another person in this city, owns, the same clothing I do.

I was wearing my orange outfit tonight. Everybody laughed at me.

The clock is ticking down to my departure for New Foundland on Thursday morning. While at the meeting, one of our guys showed me pictures of St. John’s from his recent trip to The Rock and what I can expect and what I should see while I am there.

When we come into the rooms, in whatever state we find ourselves in, and whatever our bottoms were, The Promises start materializing for each one of us.

Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.

Our writer talks about the fourteen year mark, as he is writing his story. He was married in year nine, and had his first child in year twelve.

My route into sobriety was not easy. I persisted though, and the final promise that eluded us for years and years, finally came to pass in year thirteen.

2014 was the year that Mama and then, the baby, came into my life. A relationship that I chose to build, from the ground up. One phone call, turned into this relationship where Am now married, have a life, and a child in my life who calls me Daddy.

Besides Grand Pa, I am the only other man in her life. And on Thursday, I will get to see the little girl I have spent the better part of three years raising with Mama.

The closing paragraph of tonight’s story says:

I once knew a woman who was crying before a meeting. She was approached by a five-year old girl who told her, “You don’t have to cry here. This is a good place. They took my daddy and they made him better.”

That’s exactly what A.A. did for me; it took me and made me better.

And for that we are eternally grateful.


Monday: Lamentation … 417

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AND Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

NOTHING, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.

Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes…

…Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.

This reading should be tacked at all points of view in everybody’s home, no matter who you are, alcoholic or not. It is a reading that I should have used recently, for some of my guys, and most importantly for myself.

I am told, and I tell this to my guys that, it isn’t the destination that matters, it is the journey in between that matters, and will mean something. I heard one of my guys talk about the counter-intuitive nature of the above passage.

In his work, he is sober. But his workmates are not. And the million dollar millennial has stars in his eyes, and is idealistic, and is of the mind, that if he puts in the time, work and talent, that at 35, he is going to be a millionaire, and be able to retire on that yacht in Monaco.

I am afraid, and we are afraid that the end point is nigh, and may not happen, and placing such expectation on God, is folly…

They say that: We make PLANS and GOD laughs …

Acceptance comes, daily. In the moment. Every moment.

I’ve seen people come in, having lost everything, some who have lost some, and even others, who lost nothing, but their self respect and dignity. I watch people come in and have stars in their eyes, and hear them say,

“Well, I’m going to get it all back, just you watch and see…”

And how many of those people recoup their losses on any kind of grand scale ?

Very Few …

You might get sober, and then come to realize that God has bigger and usually better plans for us, than we know ourselves. God’s time, is a long haul proposition.

Waiting for God, is like watching paint dry on a house.

Every time I read this story, or think about acceptance, I get choked up. Tears fall from my eyes, and I feel lamentation, in the worst way.

Mental Illness is serious business.

When I met hubby many years ago, he was ebullient, romantic, sexual, dynamic and young. The early months, of our relationship was filled with things, that have long since disappeared, never to be seen again.

It was good, that, at the time, people were quoting page 417 to me constantly.

Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.

Because when Mental Illness struck us, the man who went into treatment, was NOT the same man who came out the other end. The doctors failed to tell me this truth while it was happening right in front of me.

Talk about Acceptance …

Relationships are built on Love, Trust and Respect. If you commit, you commit. Even before we spoke vows in front of family and friends, shit had happened. Cruel shit, that nobody knows about, to this very day.

Not One Person …

Nobody knows how bad it got. Nobody knows the finer details of what mental illness does to a couple. But I was damned sure that what my family and friends saw, was the best possible vision of a man who survived treatment for Mental Illness. And on that very day, He was the Best Presentable Image of a Whole Man, Body and Soul.

That was the man I married. We were celebrating who HE was, in that moment.

It took me a long time to reconcile who He was, with who He became, through treatment. I kinda felt cheated that I was short changed in the end. But I was committed. Those wedding vows were tested for damned sure, before we even hit that altar.

Acceptance was the key.

It was a very good thing that I was getting sober, and I had at least 15 months in the program, before SHIT hit the FAN. Because it took all of my friends, some serious work, to keep me ON THE BEAM, for the next year of treatment.

I do not regret one day of it. I did the best I could do, given the circumstances. I did everything possible to make hubby comfortable and to care for him, to the best of my abilities. Every Single Day, and I still do, to this day.

I miss the ebullient man he used to be. And every time someone suggests this passage, I get emotional, because I know, to my very core, what this passage means to my life, in a visceral way.

We have two choices in our relationships.

  • You can either accept life as it unfolds, knowing you are powerless over many things, and you won’t have all the answers, or
  • You run, in the other direction, when life gets tough.
  • You either LOVE harder than you have ever loved before, or
  • You never love that way ever again …
  • That is what makes a marriage, every bit sweeter …
  • That you can live up to, and into those vows you speak

Marriage vows are written in a certain way. They are a warning about what may happen to you, when you least expect it, and better be informed as you stand before God, and you commit to your husband/wife/partner/significant other, that you are promising these certain unknowns.

That if they happen, you were once warned.

Running out when shit happens, is not suggested, but many people fail this test, when shit hits the fan. Which is why 417 needs to be plastered in every home on earth.

If you can accept that whatever is going to happen, probably will happen, and that God, in his infinite wisdom, ordains the universe, and that you might not get, that end point filled with expectations, you just might get, whatever God believes we are due …

That is total acceptance.


Friday: Source of Strength

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Next week Canada will Mark the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of  Vimy Ridge in Northern France, (At Vimy Ridge) remembrance of all those soldiers from all over the world, over 4,000 Canadian Soldiers, who died in service of the war.

Tonight, we read another Vignette from Bill, taken from the Twelve and Twelve, which was written after the first Big Book was published in 1939.

I have an original 1939 Copy in my library.

When WWII broke out, out A.A. dependence on a Higher Power had its first major test. A.A.’s entered the services and were scattered all over the world.

Would they be able to take discipline, stand up under fire, and endure the monotony and misery of war? Would the kind of dependence they had learned in A.A. carry them through?

Well, it did.

They had even fewer alcoholic lapses or emotional binges than A.A.’s safe at home did. They were just as capable of endurance and valor as any other soldier. Whether in Alaska or on the Salerno Beachhead, their dependence upon a higher power worked.

Far from being a weakness, this dependence was their chief source of strength.

I’ve never read, in any literature that is in my library, an account of soldiers who were sober, prior to WWII, then going to fight that war, remaining sober throughout, and came home, and stayed sober.

I brought up this thought in the meeting tonight, because there are friends of mine who might have something to add to this question.

We know that thousands of letters crossed from the U.S. and other places to the war fronts all over Europe. I know that G.S.O. in New York City, has a gigantic archive of letters that passed from Alcoholics in the states and worldwide, who were writing to sober individuals (Military Personnel) in Europe and all over the world.

None of those stories were ever included in any of the Big Book Printings.

The visual of war, to many in the room, was pertinent. Because Alcoholism is a disease, and the battle to get sober, is not for the feint of heart. For some, the odds are stacked against them, few make it into serious sober time, on the first pass.

One of our old timers, who had met, veterans, in the rooms, when he first came in over twenty-five years ago, spoke about how serious they thought sobriety was. And that they listened to some, in those meetings, at that time, making light of the fight that is Alcoholism.

Yes, we laugh a lot in the rooms, at our miserable failures, and sordid stories about what it was like, what happened, and what it is like now. But getting sober, is a serious business, it is not a joke, or something to take lightly. Lives are on the line, and if someone who is really down and out, comes in, and hears people joking and laughing, they might run in fear, and never come back.

Many stories in my memory begin with someone down and out, walking down some stairs into a smoky church basement, and hearing jovial laughter and happiness, is somewhat jarring at first, until they get across the threshold.

Last night, we heard a friend talk about his journey, and after twenty years of not drinking (Read: Dry Drunk) he figures out that he needs to step up his game and commit to really, getting sober. Which brought him right up to Step Three.

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

What he said resonated with the many who heard that story last night.

When I was a young seminarian, I had turned my will and my life over to God. This was just another pass at God, throughout my young life. But I was conscious of this decision, and I was willing to go to any length to prove my worthiness to God.

The common man was much harder to convince.

But life has a funny way of turning out.

The next pass at God was in the guise of Todd, when I got sick, and was going to die. I know, today, that Todd represented to me, the incarnation of God on earth. I had made that same commitment to God again. But alas, I could not carry it through, because of my own inability to trust myself alone.

At thirty-four, when I put down the drink for the last time, (let us pray) I spoke to God and in that moment, I had done Steps One, Two and Three, all at once.

To this day, every day, I turn my will and my life over, because I know, that God has done for me what I could not do for myself.

In the last week, I have listened to several Pod Casts, from my favorite channel, The Art Of Charm. We’ve heard of The Hero’s Journey, James Campbell, and Narrative Building.

If you grew up in the 1970’s and onward, you might have seen a few little Star Wars Films. We were introduced to the Jedi. To Obi Wan, and Yoda. We saw, for our own eyes, and most probably, learned the mythology of the Hero’s Journey, The Force, and The Rebels fighting the Empire.

Another friend, tonight, spoke of us as Padawan’s, and not necessarily Jedi. I’m not sure I’ve met a Jedi in the rooms, to date. In the rooms, there is “A Force.” We come in and we see it in others, and we watch and listen to them, and eventually, we either want what others have, or we don’t.

In an Earlier post, we spoke about the Spiritual versus the Religious.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program. With as many people in the rooms, there is a vision of what we are, who we are, and what we do in meetings.

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.

Lorna Kelly, a long time sober member of the New York Community, who died last July, says that the Preamble is one of the most important pieces of literature ever written. Because it tells us who we are, what we suffer from, and how we achieve sobriety.

Together …

It is said, that in war, that there are no Atheist’s in foxholes.

Atheism was also mentioned tonight by one of my friends, who asked the question, “What about those members or people, who may not have had identified a Power Greater than Themselves, or really believed in God, in the time of War, he wanted to know, where they were, and if they were, how they stayed sober, during the war ?”

I was reminded by one of my best friends, what I really needed to do, to safeguard my spiritual well-being, when it comes to others in the rooms. Something I have mentioned ad nauseam over the past month or so.

He also gave me some advice in stepping up my health and well-being game. He said that if I was in for a penny, that I should be in for a pound. That is something I will be adding to my life toolkit.

I spoke briefly, about two men, who went to war. Jimmy Settle, P.J. in Alaska’s 212 Pararescue Unit. Jimmy went to Afghanistan, and was shot and almost killed by the Taliban. His story is grueling. And for me, it was a very emotional experience, just reading his Hero’s Journey.

The Other is Romeo Dallaire. Who Commanded Canadian and United Nations forces, during one of the worlds worst Genocides, in Rwanda, after that of Nazi Germany of course.

Jimmy trained, went to war, came home, and served his country valiantly. Alcohol was not much mentioned in his story, because if you are going to be an elite soldier, drinking is the least of your problems. (Read: Read The Book Yourself)

Never Quit: by Jimmy Settle and Don Rearden.

Romeo, was shattered, watching and collecting visual and written proof of genocide in Rwanda as it happened all around him. Shake Hands with the Devil is one serious book. And not a tome to take lightly, by any means.

When Romeo came back to Ottawa, he was living on the Gatineau side of the Ottawa River, a bridge walk to Ottawa proper. His bottom came, as one night, he bought a bottle of Scotch and walked the bridge to Centennial Park, on the Ottawa side, along side Parliament Hill. He suffered greatly, in silence, until that night, when he drank that bottle, and was found almost dead, on his stomach, drunk, with his face in the mud.

War is War, and War is hell. Death, Terrorism, Genocide, you name it, if you are fighting for your country, you pledge to serve your country to the best of your ability.

You will go into your experience, as one kind of soldier, be they Man or Woman. But we all know, from some serious experience, that the soldier you were, when you went in, you will not be the same soldier, when you come out.

We know, here in Canada, how many men and women, after serving our nation, and the world at large, came home injured, broken, and certainly changed people, on the other end.

And we know, sadly, how many of those men and women came home to ingratitude, a lack of services, no mental health services or for some, any services at all, and in the end, many, so many young men and women, took their own lives because of the trauma they experienced over seas.

Alcohol, is the least of their problems, when men and women go to war …

Bill write the above noted story, because, I believe, he either met some soldiers, heard stories, read letters, or spoke to someone as second-hand, the experience I wrote above.

Bill’s vignettes, in my opinion, were on his mental radar. He had some experience in what he was writing about, because this story comes in the Twelve and Twelve. This particular story was collected then added to that particular book, which came much later than the first publishing of the First Edition of the Big Book in 1939.

God, the three-letter word that keeps multitudes of people from freedom.

At one point in As Bill Sees It, Bill writes in one passage that your Higher Power can be whatever you want it to be. A seeming plausible system of belief, that comes as a relief to many, but on that same page, the final sentence reads:

But it Always comes back to God …

Tradition Three, in the Twelve and Twelve, expands on the idea of who can attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. You are an A.A. member if you say so, nobody can keep you out, no matter how far down you have gone… you are a member if you say so …

Over the many decades, literature has become a little more fluid, and not so set in stone as it was read, by those in the early years of the program.

God as we understand Him, can be, if you just allow it, for a moment, can be as fluid as you wish it to be. As long as we realize that there is a Power Greater Than Ourselves, and that:

We are NOT that Higher Power …


Monday – Shouts and Whispers

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My head SHOUTS, but my heart Whispers, So I stay out of my head …

This passage is written at the bottom of the story we read tonight; Me an Alcoholic ?

There are only certain people, whom, I know, were messengers from God.

Memere was the first. Todd was the second. Elder Christensen is the third.

I believe that when I pray to God, I don’t usually expect a direct answer, not in the past. And I know that if I pray, and that answer does not come, then I need to go sit with my friends, because answers usually come from someone close, between people.

I had a conversation with Elder Christensen the other day. On Friday I sat with my friends, who gave me sound advice, that I can trust. Over the weekend, I sat, for a long time, and I prayed, then I listened.

The conversation I was having with God, came in the form of a conversation that I was having with Elder Christensen, because his word is true, his faith and conviction are second to none. He is spiritually connected.

And he is connected to me.

Talking to him in real time the other night, was something I really needed, if only to hear him talk to me.

When I doubt myself, which is most of the time, I did not necessarily turn to prayer to confirm what it was I was hearing in response. In a moment of inspiration, I imagined the voice of the Elder in my minds eye.

All of a sudden, the words became true. I knew they were true. In that moment.

God is with me. And everything is going to be alright.

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Everything is alright in the end, if it is not alright,  it is not the end …

Big Snow is on the way. It is going to be miserable for the next few days.

Over the weekend, a Winter Hurricane Storm rolled over New Foundland. Many homes were destroyed. Mama’s roof has considerable damage and needs to be repaired. Her parent’s home roof was also destroyed in the storm, along with hundreds of other homes  across the island.

Street lights are down. Buildings have been trashed. Cars and trucks have been either damaged or destroyed due to falling trees or building material, or just that they were blow off their bottoms.

The “cities” don’t have surplus supplies of things that were destroyed in the storm, but they have some, until they run out of stock. Then they will have to ship supplies, food, building materials and the like from off island.

Say a little prayer for our people out on The Rock.

 


Saturday: Walking in my Shoes

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I spent the night wondering, thinking, praying … All those things we are supposed to do all the time, but for the most part, are not done all the time, and not until it is vitally necessary, to do them all the time.

I had a conversation in my head with Spencer, thinking about what he might say to me after writing what I did last night, seeing most of that post’s information came from him directly.

I spent the day with a lady friend, and I unloaded on her until I was spent.

The word that came to me, last night, we call it a “prompt” was this …

This is my journey and my experience. And there might not be anyone to give clear directions, as to where I should go or what I should do, since the sober factor among our peers is dreadfully poor.

I know what people around me are doing because it is plain, by their actions, that they have made their moves, as in, away from me.

Really, over the past few months, there really has not been a concerted effort by anyone long sober, speaking to this effect.

But like I heard last night, I need to stick to familiar meetings, with familiar people, and walk through the dark, the best way I know how, with my head held high and doing the right thing, as in, talking when talking is needed, listening when listening is needed, and being the man I am, and on the whole, keeping my mouth shut when it comes to other people in tight places.

Coming from the life I have come from, I know what it feels and looks like when people fuck off on you.

That rubs me like spiritual sandpaper.

There aren’t a whole lot of people, “in the game.” Because it seems like, most of my friends are just doing their own thing, showing up at certain meetings, and trying to figure out, on the fly, what we need to be doing, by ourselves, together.

We just have not connected outside the rooms, specifically.

Things of note:

  • Not everyone is going to like me
  • Not everyone is going to agree with me
  • Not everyone is at the same point in sobriety, so reactions will differ
  • How people react, is solely based on their abilities to cope with stimuli
  • I am Powerless over people, places and things
  • Yes, I may spend hours bitching and moaning, but life is a process
  • Experience, Reaction, Bitching, Moaning, Discussion, Resolution

The take away … I don’t fuck off on my friends. Period ! I don’t take kindly to be treated as less than, or invisible, or that people don’t respect my humanity. I don’t like what I am seeing and/or hearing from people I have known for years and years. it is like all the words I have spoken in all that time, went in one ear and out the other, and nothing I tried to do with my community made a hill of beans difference in the way my peers treat each other and myself.

I think I knew all of this information all along. But with all the noise coming in, listening to God or my intuition, went by the wayside.

I need to talk to Spencer soon. He will know what needs to be said right now.

 

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So that is a thing …

 


Friday: Honestly !!!

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Do we ever reach a point in our lives that we can trust that, we’ve done our best to be good, to be kind, to be giving and to be Honest, to be able to speak words that are honest as well?

I am told, by a long time friend tonight that “An alcoholic’s mind is a place we should never go alone.” Another friend also said that, it is not so important what people think about me, the important thing I need to remember is my relationship with God.

The Emotional Roller Coaster is running at full speed. And I am not enjoying the ride. For the whole of my sobriety, I’ve watched my friends and my fellows. I’ve listened to them and saw what kind of choices they have made over this long run.

Everything I learned to do, or decide to do, was always based on what others have either done or not done.

I know when I hit my forties, I found that I knew things, for sure. I had enough time and hindsight behind me to be able to, matter of factly, say with some clarity, what I really thought about whatever I was seeing.

Over the past 10 months, I’ve felt a myriad of emotions. Unlike anything I have felt in some time. I’ve talked about this before, so we are coming full circle again.

The other night I had a conversation with Elder Christensen. The young Mormon missionary I became friends with during my investigations. He is still in my life, because that was the choice he made when he went home.

My investigation came to an end, when I would not leave my marriage and OBEY the “one man, one woman, biblical concept of marriage.” All those young people who made all kinds of promises and encouraged me to continue, all fell off a cliff, so to speak.

Now I know why …

Elder Christensen, when faced with the reality that I was not going to leave my marriage, sat in on a discussion about my fate with the Missionary team. The team, as a whole, did not see me as acceptable. They did not see me as fully human, with rights to be able to decide who I was and what choices I would make.

They just stopped seeing me.

Elder Christensen told me that during that discussion, he was at odds with his team and the Mission President. He was headed home, so his view of me would not be considered because he was going home, being the odd man out.

The young elder could not understand why the others did not feel about me, the way he felt about me ? He told me that, the others failed to understand and respect my humanity and dignity. That they had problems with emotional connections.

The Sunday I was shopping and ran into the Sisters at the grocery store, they told me that I belonged and that there was always a place for me, so I sent them back to the group with one request. It is obvious to me now, that nobody cares, what I need.

If I wasn’t prepared to make an ultimate sacrifice to “become One with the Church” there was really no place for me, in that church.

The good that came out of that investigation was that Elder Christensen, is still my friend. He takes time out of his schedule to write and to spend time talking to me on Hang Out. He knows my humanity. He identified with it, and respects it.

That is a thing…

I heard tonight, that sometimes in sobriety, things can get dark. And people may not agree with me. And people may walk out of my life. The things I need to remember are  …

I have friends. I have a home group. And I have people to talk to.

Another friend reminded me of one simple axiom …

I am powerless over people, places and things.

For a while, I hoped that someone would point me in some certain direction, and tell me what I really need to know, because right now, I don’t really know what is going on.

So I wonder … Can we be honest ? And at what point in sobriety, do we get to speak up and call bullshit when we see bullshit ? I’ve spent so much time sitting on my hands, keeping my mouth shut, because people around me are so afraid of being honest, to certain degrees, that they would never say anything against the status quo …

It has just been months and months of emotion. I am just finished with people, places and things. For a very long time, after spending time with certain groups of sober people, listening to them and seeing how they treat me in open community, I just want nothing to do with them.

I imagined that when things began to change for me, with my emotions running at high speed, that someone would come along and have something to offer to help me.

No, instead, they told me to go away. That I was TOO emotional and angry and that I was scaring people away from their meetings. In essence, I needed to leave certain meetings.

So I left those meetings and all those people. Not in all these months, has anyone from the meetings I do go to, said anything to the effect that … This is what I needed to know, at this very moment.

I believe I’ve seen enough to be able to make my mind up, one way or the other. I know who I want in my life. And who I don’t.

There is a short list of people who see me and care about me, and who love me for who I am. I don’t have to hide or put on an act.

I’m just not using the phone like I should. On the way home, my friend told me that I can count on him, any time I needed him.

After the meeting, several people came up to me and said that I just needed to stick close to my home group and the people in it. Because some of my friends who go to the Friday night meeting, have known me since I came in, So They Know …

I’m just dumbfounded to realize and see how people treat each other. How people have treated my friends, and how they treat me.

I am also dumbfounded at just how insignificant I am to certain people. And that now approaching my fifties, Some people still find my presence, unacceptable.

And that for some, I will never be equal.

There must be a lesson in all these things I am seeing and experiencing. There’s got to be some cosmic God kind of truth to all of this ..

God has not revealed that to me yet …

Maybe I am supposed to walk through this and see and feel what I am seeing and feeling. To be able to identify and be able to communicate these things to my fellows, for their benefit, but not necessarily my own, just yet.

I thought people with serious time in the program would be better at advice and counsel, it is now obvious to me that, People may have the time, they are just not sober…

Not sober in the way I really need them to be sober.

There aren’t a lot of double digit sober people, who will not make the time, nor the investment to point people near them, in any certain direction.

People, in many places, do not care to invest in others, beyond sitting in a meeting with you for that designated hour.

So Fuck Me …


International Women’s Day

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My Aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy.

What would the world be like with NO Women ???

How often are women treated as second class citizens, toughing it out, trying to climb the ladder in work, taking care of babies at home, shopping, cleaning, cooking and everything else that us men, don’t do ourselves.

I think men fail to realize that WOMEN make the world go round. Women are under appreciated, and mostly scorned for wanting better for themselves.

I am a man of the late 1960’s.

My life was filled with women. Across the board.

It fell to the women of our family to do all of the heavy lifting, when it came to family, because all of the men in our family were saddled with work and alcoholism. And the women bore their crosses well, and rarely complained about their lots in life.

If it were not for the women in my early life, I surely would have ended up dead, because that is what my father intended from the very start.

We lived in Connecticut. Most of the family were concentrated in New Britain, but aunts and uncles were scattered in other areas, one needed a car to get to.

My Grandmothers, Camille, and Jeannie, and my Aunt Paula, were my main caregivers. I could not have asked for better people in my life than them. They provided for everything that I might have needed.

Back in the day, we lived simple lives. We did not want for anything, because we had everything we needed. I don’t ever remember any of them going without. But back then, there really was not much else we needed to “get,” like I said, life was simple.

We had a large family that was extended from Canada. The Québécois faction of the family always gathered at Aunt Paula’s house during the summers. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else in between.

I knew I was loved by everyone else, except my biological parents. The women in my life fought to keep me alive. In the words of Toxic Parents, my mother was the silent woman in the family. She did what she had to do to survive.

My father imported her from Montreal, and began to strip away every vestige of who she was, who she knew and he pried her apart of every family member that stood in the way of him making my mother, “In His Image.”

She would become an American Wife, if it killed him in the process.

For a long time, my mother gave us what we needed, and growing up, my brother and I, never wanted for anything. We climbed the social and economic ladder very quickly and very successfully. My mother was not perfect, but she provided. My mother, like my father, was a successful functional alcoholic.

As a young person, I listened very carefully to every word I heard come out of my parent’s mouths. And it was from those words, that I made my life decisions, because they openly shared what they abhorred, and sooner or later, I would become all of what they abhorred.

My mother suffered. And today she is a shell of who she once was, and is a miserable, insufferable, vindictive, bitter old woman. I don’t know who she is today.

I was the one who got out. Who broke the mold, and lived the life, in the end, today, that I was meant to live.

ALIVE.

As I grew up, illness began to creep into our lives. And little by slowly, the women in my life began to disappear. My brother and I would travel North to visit family on vacations and during the summer.

Memories of my brother are negligible. He is not a person who is heavily imprinted in my memory at all. My brother, taught to be my adversary, kept a fair distance from me, even if we were in the same house at the same time, and that included during family vacations.

Camille and Jeannie, and Paula, kept a good eye on me. They taught me about life, family, love and devotion. And I was devoted to them, and still am to this very day.

In the eighth grade, Jeannie suffered a tragic stroke, and the woman she was disappeared, and as hard as I tried, I could not bring her back from the abyss. She was gone. She lost her memories, most of her movement, and much of her speech.

She remained a tragic disabled woman, along with my later stroke ridden grandfather. They lived in rest home after rest home, in Miami, until their eventual deaths, when I was in High School.

Camille languished in a rest home in Connecticut, as I grew into my twenties. When I got sick with AIDS in 1994, my mother banned me from family gatherings, however, I did go home once for Christmas, where my parents humiliated me in front of a dinner table full of friends and family. I never returned…

In my twenty-ninth year, I was living in South Miami, I had been very sick at the time, and Camille died. For weeks after her death she visited me. I wrote letters to my mother, dictated to me by Camille, and I mailed them blindly, as they came to me. My mother must have thought I was crazy, because she never mentioned the letters to me ever.

When the funeral was arranged, in Connecticut, I was devastated. Now the only other woman I was connected to, who I knew loved me inside and out, was dead. My mother banned me from going to the funeral. I had a lump of cash, I was sitting on, and I thought to myself that I would go anyways, but that did not happen.

My mother did not want any other family to know I was sick. Because she was ashamed of my presence. I knew, from listening to her talk over the years, before I left home to “come out” I knew what she thought of homosexuals, and especially, men who had AIDS.

I was now, one of them. I had become abhorrent.

It was my experience, that my grandmothers, and my aunt loved me unconditionally. My mother, did not, in the end. Like all human beings, we fear and abhor what we do not know or understand. And it was my experience that normal human beings who loved their families and children, turned into raging animals, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground when it came to AIDS.

I’m kind of glad that Camille and Jeannie never saw me, as sick as I had gotten. They had only seen the best of who I was, as a young child, into my early teens. AIDS came after they began to depart my life.

All of my family, Alexander, Jeannie, Camille, Carol … Each one of these people, came back to me after they died, in one form or another. I knew them. I saw them. I experienced them in the spirit world.

Jeannie came back to me and used to stand at the foot of my bed for years. When I got sick, living in Fort Lauderdale, Jeannie, had come back and she watched over me for a year. I know this because a friend of mine, who was a medium, at that time, visited me, and confirmed she was there in my apartment.

Alexander came back, when I was in high school. So did my uncle Paul, who returned to my uncle’s house in Connecticut. As the story went, in the end, Paul and Alexander, brothers in life, reunited in death at my uncles house, after they both appeared in two cities, for two families at the same time.

My Aunt Paula was a dignified woman, along with my cousin Sandy. My mother had a love/hate relationship with them. Resentments ruled our family dynamics. At one time or another my mother was pissed at one or the other, throughout my entire young life.

AIDS killed my family. It shattered the very foundation of all we had been.

I moved to Canada in 2002, to follow the maternal blood line of my mother, back into the historical past of our family, much to her consternation.

I then met my great-aunt Georgette, who was living just two blocks from the apartment I live in today. I had two years with her, before she died of cancer, I collected all the stories she had of herself and Camille, because sister Georgette’s family, took Camille in when the Spanish Flu killed thousands of people in the twenties and thirties. Camille had been orphaned by the flu.

My life, is a testament to the dignity and love that I received from the women who made me who I am today. I had but a few generous years of them in life. My life today, is a testament to their spirits that inhabit me.

You might not consider the strength of the human spirit, but it is a life force that can sustain human life. Because I am still alive.

Thank God.

My aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy are a part of my life today. They love me for who I am and both of them contribute to my life today and I am grateful for their presences.

Now, in sobriety, I know many women. In the beginning it was the women who helped me get sober. All the women who ran Tuesday Beginners, when I came in, taught me How it Works, and What to do to stay sober. Margo, my therapist, the first two years of sobriety, took care of me in every way possible. Margo set me on the road to my university education. It was she who afforded the decision to do “something for me” after reaching a year sober.

There are too many women to mention all of them in this post. All of those women who have been or are, presently, part of my present sober life.

Like I said, at the top, Where would we be without the women in our lives ???

Women make the world go round.

 

 

 


Friday: I’m Not Afraid Any More

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Fears, are the termites that ceaselessly devour the foundations of whatever sort of life we try to build. As faith grows, so does inner security. The vast underlying fear of nothingness commences to subside. We of A.A. find that our basic antidote for fear is a spiritual awakening. A.B.S.I. 196

Tonight’s read talks all about fear(s). One of my friends asked whether the reading was addressing who we were while we were drinking, or who we were when we quit ? It can go both ways.

Another friend of mine, who is back around again, after a spectacular crash and burn over the summer, spoke about the house he is building now, this time around. That house, he had lived in had to look pretty, because he was consumed with what people thought of him, while he was suffering the terrible disease of excessive people pleasing.

He is currently Fumigating the house he lives in now. Trying to find where all the termites are, that destroyed the foundation he once had. And he says that, now, the house may not be so pretty on the outside, as it once was. The paint may be peeling, and there are serious cracks in the walls, which he is not covering up this time with pretty pictures.

He sees the value in being who he is, today, and working diligently, on himself, and who he is today. Admitting that the man he is becoming is in a constant state of flux and change. And we may not like what we get this time, save for the honest attempt at humility and self-awareness.

We were all afraid for my friend, because we did not think he would get it all back because the fall was so steep and the pit all but swallowed him whole. And it has been a serious uphill battle for every day of sobriety. But he made it out of the pit and is rebuilding again.

The front group was small, but the conversation was deep.

A young man, who is in for the first time, wonders if he will ever achieve anything in his life that he can be proud of. Having something he can call his own, because right now, he is where many of us are, when we first come in.

Devoid of any money, possessions, or anything resembling what he is seeing from his peers and more importantly, his brothers and sisters in his family. He sees them with lives, marriages, children, homes. His sister is pregnant right now, and he sees them, “having it all, so it seems, on the outside,” Himself, he has very little to speak of beyond the home he lives in right now, (read: Rehab).

I started talking and went on and on. Relating how fear was always present for me, in my life, one way or another. When you introduced alcohol (and drugs) into my equation, the fears subsided, because I was told that alcohol would make it all better, the more I drank.

The first time around, when I got sick, and Todd said the word STOP, I was going to die, because I was very sick. I had literally, the clothes on my back. Todd provided the home I would live in for that period of time, along with everything in it.

I started sobriety with some serious FEARS. And one day at a time, those fears were mitigated, by what Todd taught me and how he directed that stage of my life. I survived, because he provided me a solution and salvation.

Because I trusted him as he asked me to do.

The fears were still there, and returned with a vengeance when he departed my life. And those fears ruled my life until I got sober, the second time around.

When I moved here to Montreal, I had two suitcases and four boxes. The first thing I bought when I got here, was a clock radio, that kept me company overnight.

Sadly, just the other day, 15 years later, that clock radio died a spectacular death.

When I got sober this time around, I had moved here for a better life. It had to be anything because what I had, was not much at all. I was living in famine, and poverty. So it HAD to get better.

Like I have said, time and time again, I did everything right. In hindsight, over the past fifteen years and a few months, listening to my friends talk about themselves, and knowing the choices I did make, and the life I lived because of those choices, I did everything RIGHT. Because I know how many of my friends are still cracked.

I heard our resident Old Timer say tonight that he did not have much when HE came in, but the rooms and the program looked really good to him, so he stuck around. And in his life, the miracle happened for him.

Miracles happen for all of us, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. There is a MAGIC in the rooms that comes to us, being with our friends, night after night. Just knowing where many of my friends were, when they came in, and seeing how their lives filled out and how the miracle happened for them, it is Magic. It is God. It is Us. It is We.

One of my friends, was down and out like I was. He was living in a hovel, washing clothes in his tub, delivering pizzas for cash. All he wanted was to kill himself, but he stuck around, today fifteen years later, he lives in a big house. He is married with children, and he works for a company that affords him travel around the world.

Because, like me, when he came in, we did everything we were told to do. We boded our time. We went to meetings, we did direct acts against our wills. (read: we did what we were told, and decided NOT to take matters into our own hands).

Magic happened. Only a handful of us, who got sober, WHEN we got sober, made it all the way to this point with us. Many of our friends did not make it, in one swing. Many of them Sputtered. Skipped. Stopped. Went back out, came back in, some right away, many though, took months and years to get back.

A good handful of them are dead.

After the meeting I was in the kitchen talking to a friend and we both agreed that

“We were not afraid anymore.”

Many of us have put in The Time. The Effort. And THE WORK.

And over the years, all that hard work, paid off in SPADES.

Many of us rebuilt our lives, filled with worth and meaning. We earned everything that we have through hard work and perseverance. And nobody can take that away from us, because we earned what we have through Hard, Honest, WORK.

I think about having a terminal illness myself. And how that played out for me. For a very long time, I was living with one foot in today, and one foot in the grave. I had lived, in the space “Waiting for that other shoe to drop.” or “The pills to stop working.” or “Waiting to die.”

I am still alive. I’m not afraid of dying. I stand in front of my medicine cabinet every night, grateful and thankful for what is in my medicine cabinet. Because I know, today, that:

I am Not going to Die Today … One day at a time.

I spoke last night about how all of us have crossed a very important threshold in our lives, all at the same time. The period of living in ambiguity is over. We made it to the other side.

God opened the doors across the board for all of us. And I think, as I was talking to my friend in the kitchen that, I can finally breathe again.

It was as if, I had been holding my breath, as I walked my guys through ambiguity, and I did not know where the “other side” was, or how long it was going to take to get HERE today. But we arrived HERE today.

And I can breathe again. Because I am no longer AFRAID. For Them or Myself.

The magic happened. The miracle happened. It took years of hard, blood, sweat and tears to get here. But with perseverance, one day at a time, we all made it safely over the water.

I can’t tell you where you are going, but I can show you where I walked, and how this all works, and tell you that, you just have to start with one step. Or step one.

I’m an alcoholic and I am powerless over alcohol, and my life is unmanageable.

I find great strength in saying that turning my life over, having constant direction, as I needed it, when I needed it, on a daily basis, helped me build the life I inhabit today.

By the grace of God and the fellowship, I have everything I ever needed, and not a drop more. My cup is full and I am grateful for small mercies. And miracles.

I have a life beyond my wildest dreams.

I never imagined that this was possible, because, all those years ago, I was at day one, with nothing to call my own. Today I have a home and love and good friends, and the love of a child in my life.

My heart overflows.

Fear has no room to live when our lives are full of love and goodness to overflowing.

When we are not plying our bodies and minds with drugs and alcohol, anything is possible, if we just Re-Orient, and begin to build that life we were meant to live.

I have a life, because I am no longer afraid …

God has done for me, what I could not do for myself.

Gratitude overflows …


Thursday: I’m Going to New Foundland !

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I am seriously hoping for Icebergs …

This is the year, we all make serious strides in life. The Promises have materialized for many people, all at the same time. I helped to keep my friends “on the beam” while we traveled through “Ambiguity.” Tonight, I can say that we’ve all crossed a new threshold in sobriety, across the board.

Today I did something I have never done before. I booked a ticket to St. John’s New Foundland for Easter weekend. Traveling to St. John’s is not cheap, but since we crossed another threshold at home, I was able to make good on my relationship with Mama and Lu.

I had schemed in my head, what I really wanted to do for this trip. I was not going to tell anyone I was making the trip, and wait until the week “OF” to tell mom that I was coming and not to tell Mama.

Hubby said to me that might not be a good idea, so I slept on it over night, and this morning I called mom to tell her what I was planning to do, and she told me that I should call Mama and tell her.

I waited all day to make one phone call …

I leave on the 13th of April, and spend 4 days in St. John’s and I return on the 17th. This is the farthest East I have traveled in Canada. In my first year sober, we took a road trip to Halifax, driving the 18 hours each way. This time I am doing it right.

Almost three years ago, I made a decision to invest in Mama and Lu, before Lu even entered the world. It all began with a single phone call. My relationship with Mama and Lu is the most important relationship I have with any of my friends, because Lu is part of my life.

Lu’s biological father wanted Mama to abort Lu when she was pregnant and to this day wants nothing to do with Lu at all. He’s just a big horses ass. Who takes no responsibility for the fact that he fathered a child, and is out of sight and out of mind ever since Lu was born. Aside from Grand pa, I am the only OTHER MAN in her life today.

I helped raise Lu for the first two years of her life while they lived here, but like all good things, they come to an end, and mama returned to family in New Foundland.

I may not be her biological father, but I am part of her daily life. I participate in the parenting process from far away, on a daily basis. And not long ago, I was on the phone with Lu and she tossed another new word at me … She calls me Daddy …

I remember the night she said my name for the first time. Now I have a new day to remember, the day she started calling me Daddy.

I sent Christmas to St. John’s in December. I am bringing Easter with me in April.

Sobriety gives us so many good things once we put down the drink (and the drugs).

Many people think, when they finally stop that life is going to end if they cannot drink and party like they used to and that sobriety is going to be absolutely BORING !!!

I can tell you, categorically, that that is NOT the case at all.

Our speaker tonight tells the story about socializing with old friends (today) in sobriety. She might be sober and does not drink, her friends though, can’t drink like they used to because they are much older, and CANNOT BOUNCE BACK LIKE THEY USED TO …

Life gets real, when we start to age …

I don’t think I would have made it to this point, had I kept drinking.

I am very happy for my guys and their gals.

One couple has crossed the Financial Insecurity Promise. The other couple, we are planning a wedding and costing a honeymoon for next Spring. And we are all working together, soberly.

And it is freaking AMAZING !

If your sobriety isn’t exciting, and life changing, what do you need to do to Step up your game ?

It is all about how you play your game.


Monday: Flooded with Feeling …

Do you believe in Love

Friday night I saw some folks I don’t usually see at the Friday meeting. In fact, I haven’t seen either one of them since last September. Not a call, Not a meeting, Nothing …

Saturday I spent time with one of my women I work with. And she told me a story, about one of those men I saw the night prior. Many, Many months ago, our man went to Florida and he used, pissing away 11 years of sobriety … I know, of him, that he stopped coming to meetings for a long time, so long, that I was given his key and his treasury responsibility. He did not call, nor did he talk to me or anyone else in that particular room, for that matter.

Now I know why … He used and came home and isolated and kept a secret. For MONTHS. And I know, from his history, how hard he worked to get sober, quoting the book, like he knew the book, like the back of his hand … He didn’t …

Friday night, he sat next to me, and did not say two words to me all night long. He and my other friend left after the meeting and did not stay to talk.

This is what happens when you stop going to meetings, you stop talking to people, you keep secrets and your sobriety looses its priority.

Sad. That particular meeting did not feed him, like it needed to and he stayed away from meetings that might have fed him and kept him “on the beam.”

But addict for addict and alcoholic for alcoholic, we are going to do what we are going to do, and damn the torpedoes.

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

You never know what is going to rise to the surface, when you step into a room.

Tonight’s read talks about:

  • Drinking,
  • Drinking some more.
  • Driving Drunk,
  • Driving drunk some more.
  • Going to a meeting because it meant more for them, rather than for us,
  • Coming to realize that “hey, maybe I’m an alcoholic too !”
  • Coming, Coming to, and Making a decision …
  • Speaking the Third Step Prayer for themselves …

Flooded with Feeling, has been the story of my life for the past good chunk of months. Many of my friends, men and women, are in this mix right now, themselves. The Monday night meeting is a wealth of experience, strength and hope.

The line that stuck out in this story goes like this …

“I just wanted another drink …”

 

My Momma once said to me that: “You better Never find yourself in jail, because if you do, I will never bail you out, you will be on your own.”

I did listen to some of the advice she gave me, however backhanded that single piece of advice was, when it was delivered. I did, many times, get behind the wheel while intoxicated. And it is a good thing that nobody ever got hurt. Because I was seriously stupid. But what is an alcoholic going to do ?

Nothing stands between us and that next drink …

Happy hour only lasted from 4 to 7. Then you had to go home, change your office clothes for dance clothes, and return for the nightly debauchery. Over and Over and Over.

Until one day, You become a character written about in the Big Book, being that tornado, running ragged, in the life of someone trying to get sober at the same time.

Sadly, I would remain that tornado for three more years, until Todd stepped in and said the word STOP. I am amazed, that all the people I drank with, who got sober, before I did, never said a word to me, while I was IN IT. And to this day, I don’t know why they didn’t try to help me. Because the trajectory of my life would surely have been different, had that actually happened, but didn’t.

Our man, in this story, relates his approach to the Third Step and the Prayer. While on the phone, with the lady friend who took him to his first meeting, he writes that “while on the phone he read the Third Step Prayer to her… then afterwards he returns to the prayer and repeats it to himself.”

When I got sober the first time, I had Todd in my life. And every night, coming to work, the practice was, to turn my life over, every time I crossed the threshold into the bar. I practiced that task every night for two years. I learned how to do that and trusted in the man I was turning my life over to, because I am still alive.

When I got sober the second time, It was just me, and my prayer to God. There was nobody else out there, holding my hand. And let me tell you just how unsure I was of myself, not knowing IF I could TRUST myself alone … IF I could do it RIGHT.

It did not come for a long time, the revelation of Todd and Step Three, being the incarnation of God Himself in my life when I really needed it. I did not make that connection until I began to relate my memoirs on this blog many years ago.

I had seen God, in the flesh. I knew there was a God, all along. I knew the drill. I just did not trust anything that I did, on my own.

But I am getting better at it, today.

Over the years, I’ve watched the men I worked with, who for some, did not necessarily believe in God, how they worked around the Third Step, each for their specific sensibilities. The Friday meeting has been a proving ground for our young people, who also, many of them, could not see past the word God, and got and stayed sober.

Many of them came, stayed a bit, left, and never returned.

Even though we spent years studying the word God, trying to find work around’s to allow the belief in whatever worked until they figured God out for themselves.

Every day, we have an opportunity to learn something new about ourselves.

Do I want a thimble full of God, one day at a time, or
Do I want a bucket full of God, one day at a time ???

And when is it that I realize that I am a drop in the big ocean that is humanity (read: God). And that I am one with ALL that is, because a little of all that is OUT THERE, is within me, and that a little piece of WITHIN ME is one with all that is OUT THERE.

And that, as I live and breathe, the universe out there, knows, before I even utter a single thought, prayer or word …

How amazing is that ???

 

 


Thursday: Dueling Dragons …

dueling_dragons_by_shawnr22

It was a pleasantly BALMY day in Montreal today. This week, we saw temps that are darn right Springy … But we are warned that it won’t last, and that March is going to keep us in the cold for another month.

This week saw all kinds of change.

I live with competing dragons in my system. And either one can be in control, but not both at the same time. And one never knows who is in control until I drop labs. This round, my HIV is in good check but my Diabetes is all out of whack.

On Tuesday I went to clinic one for my lab drop session. Both brothers were in attendance, I got to kill two birds with one stone. The drawback is this, depending on who rules the roost, medication has to be adjusted, and you can’t adjust one side without adjusting the other accordingly.

Doctor Chris, over the years, has managed my medications very well. Because I’ve been testing drugs for him for many, many years. And if they work for me, (in our respective medical circle of drug testers), we are the main line to getting drugs approved in Canada on the whole. So what we do is very important for the community at large.

One by one, over the last five years, my twice a day drugs, have been dropped, opting for once a day dosing medication. But the Once a Day dosing takes time, because the new drugs in the pike were taking longer than usual to get to me, (read Us).

This week, new drugs came online finally. But, if you change one side of the equation, then you have to change the other in conjunction. HIV medications and Diabetes medications, don’t always work together. And I don’t know if one or the other is working well, without trial and error dosing.

If the trend drops either way, the HIV drugs come first.

If I don’t live, no other drug is going to make a difference. So Doctor Chris has to make sure that any new drug he gives me now, needs to plays nice with Diabetes drugs. This round, Diabetes lost.

A new Single dose HIV medication came online … EDURANT

Before I could take this pill, Doctor Chris had to make sure it would work with everything else I was taking already. It didn’t. Which meant my Diabetes drugs had to be tweaked.

Doctor George dropped my Janumet, because Metformin cancels out any good the Edurant will do. Which means I am down one Diabetes drug. And that was the end of that appointment.

Wednesday, I saw Doctor George at his clinic and along with his trial nurse, tried to figure out what they needed to do to make up the difference.

Three months ago, I went on Trulicity injections, once a week at a low dose. Now, it seems, that the low dose was not enough, because I am not managing well at all.

While they conferred together, I stepped on the scale and learned that I dropped ten pounds over the last six months. I knew something was up, when I put on a pair of hubby’s skinny jeans and they fit, WELL.

My Diabetes team upped my Trulicity to double the dose, weekly, along with Invokana, I have a bottle of Glyburide hanging in the wings if need be.

When I got home, I sat down with my nutritional map and planned another tweak to my diet, I am working to eliminate sugar intake at all levels. I put the new plan into action, and I have three months to see how all these changes work together.

If this series works, as it is hoped it will, I will manage both dragons better, and that is the plan. I can produce 1200 t-cells with my eyes closed. That is a given. I am over the ten year mark where my viral load is still undetectable.

Diabetes on the other hand is a capricious lady, who does not play well on the playground.

I have to test every other day to check my trends. I don’t have to prick myself every day any more. The Trulicity is a slow release, weekly dosage. Now that dosage is doubled, along with a moderated dietary plan, it should all work.

Now we dose for this observation period. And I hope to see further weight loss, and better numbers overall.

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

Tonight’s take away … I would be ok, if everyone would just leave me alone.

How many of us got to this point before we stepped into the rooms.

Our speaker tonight got sober in December of 1994, the same year I got sober the first time, and I was reminded that had I stayed the first time, I would be 23 years sober now.

But that was not meant to be, and as he said to me, I had a hiccup.