There may come a time, in your life, in your Sober Life, that you reach a tipping point. A moment of Do or Die, or more aptly, Do or Drink … A moment where the resentments of the past, are about to rush over you like a BIG wave on the beach.
That time may come for you, as it came to me, not so long ago.
Tonight we read the Resentment Passage from the Big Book, as it tells us that:
Resentment is the number ONE offender, and if not dealt with accordingly, We Will Drink Again…
For many years, when I worked my steps, I had resentments that ended up on the Never list for my Step Nine Amends. That anger of my idealistic melancholic hopes that “The Past could have been any different, thereby giving me the end I wanted, instead of the end that I got.
There was not ONE sober member, when it was needed so badly, not one member who gave me a solution to my anger. Oh, they recognized my anger, then told me to go, and deal with that on my own, leaving me to my own devices.
My solution, the Very Spiritual Solution came from my spiritual advisers.
The format of the inventory I needed to work came from them, and them alone.
I learned to Pray a Forgiveness Prayer, for those who had harmed me so badly. Praying to forgive them of pain, knowing that my prayer was not one of absolution, but in the end, of Release.
There may come a time when resentments that end up on your amends list, that fall in the Never Column. There are three columns. Now, Later, and Never.
For the whole of my sobriety I sat on anger and fear. I sat in sick anger that invaded my spirit, and as the book tells us, that sickness, keeping us from the Sunlight of the Spirit.
I heard it said tonight, that when we are in that place, we are walking around the world, with an open umbrella, shading ourselves from the Sunlight of the Spirit, intentionally.
We have to let go the expectation that the Past could have been any Different.
The example I was given, was Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. After the war, that she survived, she later met a man who stopped her on the street in Berlin.
He said Corrie, Don’t you know who I am ? Yes, she did. Before her stood one of the guards that killed her family, in front of her, and terrorized her in the camps.
He asked her for forgiveness … And on that pass, she said Absolutely Not.
In time, she came to the Spiritual Battle Ground, where she learned about Faith, God, The Cross of Crucifixion, Jesus, and of Forgiveness.
She found forgiveness for that man.
When her story came to me, via my spiritual director, my very banal resentments and anger, paled in comparison to this very tragic story of suffering and death. I thought out loud that I could not compare my pain, to that pain of someone who survived the death camps.
I had to let go my pie in the sky expectations of the past, and get to the forgiveness prayer, for me, for them, to be free, finally, once in for all. Because I needed to move on with my life, and I truly needed to shut the door on this past story, forever.
I came to this point. I had a spiritual solution that worked.
I came to know that in the end, I COULD LET GO that old story and never have to tell it again, so long as I live…
I am Free …
We are imperfect humans, and as soon as we recognize that, within the frame work of the Spirituality of Imperfection, and we make that crucial decision to LIVE in the Spiritual Solution, we begin to live Freely, Humbly with Gratitude and Love.
The Solution to Sober Problems can be found in Spiritual Principles.
The Spirituality of Imperfection is a good place to start.
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 …
Just as material losses are not necessary to indicate alcoholism, material gains are not the true indications of sobriety.
We heard from another young lady tonight, and her story, “Student of Life.”
Growing up, in an alcoholic house, was tedious at best. But I did have certain lessons down pat. I knew how to take care of a home, and myself to a certain degree. I went to school, and did fairly well.
I was 13, I think, when I got my first job. I was a bag boy in a grocery store. It was the first of a string of jobs I would have. And I had some seriously good jobs. They were the best. I worked a season scooping ice cream. I worked a double header in two shops that fried chicken and hot wings. I was a short order cook for a while as well. I had the chops to do a good job and BE responsible.
My parents were not going to pay for college. My first year was a scholarship that went no where. The second, I have spoken about before, in Seminary. But that did not go anywhere either. Working for a living now competed with my drinking.
When the time came to move away, you’ve thought that I would carry all the things I already knew forwards. This theme does repeat itself …
Thinking that I would carry forward what I did know …
I knew the apartment I wanted, in the specific Orlando apartment complex, because of specific people I knew who lived there, and at 21, I wanted to be them, and damned the torpedoes. I had a new car, that I could not pay for, and the expensive apartment, well outside my means, and the inability to be responsible for any of it, because of my drinking.
You’ve thought that what little responsibility I knew about, would carry forwards…
All my wants … Did not square with the Responsibility that needed to exist and didn’t.
Because I was ruled by my addiction to alcohol.
Our writer tonight talks about the fact that she did not LOOSE anything, so she figured she wasn’t an alcoholic. But we also know that she had not lost anything, because she had NOTHING to loose, YET.
Loss is a common theme in my life, as is geographical cures, lies, and irresponsibility.
Within the first few months of moving away, I lost apartments, I lost a car, I lost jobs, I lost boyfriends. If it was not nailed down, I lost it.
Nothing in life was nailed down at all.
When I got sick and was going to die … I NEEDED to get sober. There were no two ways about it. If I was going to LIVE I was going to STOP drinking.
I had to stem the losses and get right. And that worked for a few years.
But listening to people telling me to go, disconnecting from meetings, and lying to my friends, and listening to the voice in my head, was very detrimental.
I’ve said before that, ask any alcoholic in the room, male or female, about the HOLE in the SOUL, and they will tell you that (If I ONLY had a relationship, everything would be better).
Not So Grasshopper …
My needs were warped to begin with, and the need for a human trumped my need to stay sober, in the end.
I pissed away four years sober for an imperfect human addict.
And in the end, I lost everything that I owned that time, and almost my life with it.
The first time I got sober, it was because I needed it.
The second time I got sober, was because I WANTED it.
The blackouts and the sickness came. And I just KNEW, I was DONE.
I prayed for that alcoholic to show up, and he did. Like clockwork.
When I moved to Montreal, I had 2 suitcases and 4 boxes. That was my life.
Not very much.
In my twenties, I could not hold down a job, make money, or have a solid home. But for a brief stint, when I got sick, I had a solid roof over my head, while Todd was in my life.
When I moved here, sobriety took the drivers seat. It was all I had. And I busted my ass for all these years, and now I am here. The Promises came, albeit, very slowly. In years 13 to today, my life has taken a serious turn, and I have arrived, in a place, I never thought I’d find in this life. Because I am not supposed to still be here.
I should have died, long ago. But it seems God has other plans.
I had to learn how to be responsible. One thing at a time, and nothing more. I learned to to be spiritually fit, from spiritually fit people.
Little do you know that setting down chairs, making coffee and shaking hands, is the prep work we get to do.
Those simple jobs of making a meeting, are the beginnings of a life of responsibility.
What a Grace. What an absolute Grace. Sad, many people don’t see it that way.
One of my friends said tonight that, the Program is to help us become Spiritually Fit. And in the end, if it works right, We find Spiritually fit people, who can help spiritually Unfit people, get better. But, it has come to pass, and the lesson applies to many … You might have the time, but not necessarily be sober.
Sobriety comes little by slowly. What I failed to carry forwards as a young person, and even in my twenties and from Todd, specifically … I got my Do Over.
I’ve been in Do Over Territory for a long time. All those things we failed to learn when we were young or while we drank, we get to relearn. We get to try again. We get to get it right.
How many normal people who fail at life and give up, they don’t get their do over… We in the rooms get that grace and we get our Do Over.
I know who I am. I know my goals, dreams, values, and boundaries, and I know how to protect, nurture, and validate them. Those are the true rewards of sobriety, and they’re what i was looking for all along. I am so grateful that my Higher Power stepped in to show me the way to the truth. I pray every day that I never turn my back on it. I came to A.A. in order to stop drinking; what i received in return was my life.
Truer words were never spoken …
God, Let me have a new experience, Let me see the truth …
My new and improved meeting schedule began on Monday night, with a meeting, right down the hill from home. A ten minute walk through the tunnel to Georges Vanier Metro.
Now I know, where several of my friends disappeared to, when they left meetings we used to do together. This particular Monday Meeting is a Big Book study …
Like I can’t get enough of the book as it is.
Tonight, I attended my first meeting in French. In all these years of meetings, I never ventured across the solitude’s for a French meeting, because I’m Anglo.
My friends, including my sponsor opened this meeting, specifically to open a “New Experience” for folks who want something a bit different. It’s a carbon copy of the Sunday Night meeting, being a literature discussion, only in French.
Having read the Big Book for all these years, in English, I know what it says. And after all these years talking about said book, I know what to say, on various topics. We read from the Book tonight, and the 10th Step.
Not shying away from a challenge, They asked me to read first, which I had a huge paragraph, in French, I read like a Boss… When the share went around the room, I was on the tail end, so I had time to think about what I wanted to say, I just needed to find the right words, in the right tense, in the right order. And I was able to speak “In French” for the first time, in a room full of Francophone folks.
And we talked about The Tenth Step. Having just completed these steps with my sponsor, I knew the territory and what I wanted to say. I think I made sense, in the end. Everybody was proud of my effort.
My friends were impressed with the fact that I made the effort to talk, and not just sit there and not say a word. It always goes, if you make the effort, and not hit the nail on the head, people understand. But if you don’t try, it’s a bad reflection on you.
I had a French Big Book here at home that I was reading off and on all week, practicing my reading and comprehension. Like I said, I know the book, so reading it in French was really not a stretch. I understand and comprehend more than I give myself credit for.
Learning a second language “in the rooms” is sometimes easier than learning it in a classroom. Because on both sides, the words are exactly the same. However, the French Big Book, is twice as FAT as the English Big Book.
My Francophone friends use English meetings to practice and hone their English, in the same way, I want to practice and hone my French, the same way. Knowing people in said meeting makes it a bit easier, because if I get stuck, I get help.
But, You Must Make the Effort …