Today was a beautiful day. The shift in my life continues. If you are not growing while you are getting sober, then, you are wasting valuable time.
I got a major clothes haul in the mail, a few more pieces for my sporty wardrobe. There is a major piece on its way right now.
I did my chores and my grocery shop, and had the rest of the day to fart around, and get a power nap in, before I had to go. One of my lady friends, lined up my speaker for the evening. And she is a critical woman in my life.
My friend took her lumps early on in her sober journey. After a crash and burn, and the loss of everything good in her life, a husband, children, family, and friends, she ended up in the familiar “Spa Rehab” that many of our women characterize their rehab experiences as.
That is a common theme with some of our gals. We all know what that Spa is …
She came out of rehab and landed back here in Montreal. That was just the beginning of shit that happened to her. Not long after, doctors told her that she was going to die, because she trashed her liver.
Thankfully, because she was sober, she got on a transplant list. Cue the Hurry Up and Wait period of time. In that time, she was very sick and on the edge of death. By God’s Grace, a donor was found. We hauled her off to the hospital and sat with her from start to finish.
I can report that my friend is indeed, Alive and Well.
I had not seen her since I began this trek with my personal well-being. And like most of my friends, she was flabbergasted with how good I looked. She said to me, that I looked really well, and add to that, she noticed that my entire “being” had changed. She commented that “the energy I was giving off was the biggest change.”
Both of us have experience in recovery and rehab. We are both schooled in nutrition and both of us are on the “real food diet.” We compared notes together and found that we were on the same page mentally, emotionally and physically.
Sometimes listening to our friends talk from the chair, is just what the doctor ordered.
Sobriety brings many gifts to us. But they only come when we are ready to receive them. One thing she focused on was her belief that what we send out to the universe, comes back to us, from the direction we sent it out.
Over time, we learn that sending out negativity and sorrow, turns into positivity and happiness. Because a little bit of the universe, is inside of us, and a lot of the universe lies UP THERE, in the firmament, we are connected, every second, to all that is …
The universe is always there, paying attention to our progress. My friend is a prime example of what is possible when you get well. We take care of the insides, and over time, the outsides begin to match us pound for pound.
We only want good things to come to us, so together, like many others in our lives, we send goodness out, and in time goodness returns.
Another thought was this …
Once we get sober and we begin to honor our bodies, soberly, we must turn inwards and honor our spirits and our well-being. Over time, the Inside Job, turns into an all out Outside Job.
90% of feeling good is looking good.
Me No Frumpy Man …
Everybody has noticed. And it looks really good on me. People are amazed at the positive progression that I have been on. And my lady friend is right up there with me.
People who face serious adversity, and some, even death, we see life in a way that most don’t. Because if you survive a trip into mortal territory, and you survive, one never takes for granted the life we have been spared.
All of my friends – a good number of them – have faced medical challenges over the last year, and on certain nights, we get to sit in the same room together and share experience, strength and hope.
Life is good. Everybody is well. And we are all sober.
Claim your life, Honor your spirit, and be Good to Others.
The Universe is paying attention.
We are all very thankful that we did not drink today.
One little drink, would really fuck up a good thing.
Which is why we go to meetings.
This visual of the “Jam Jar” came up in our Elder discussion tonight.
My Elder friend works at the Missionary Training Center in Provo Utah. As a leader, it is his job to bring new missionaries into service. And hopefully before they depart Provo, they will have a basic understanding about what they need to have within, a foundation in service, to be able to give, and a working knowledge about The Book, they need to share.
Ministry and Sobriety are very similar.
In my life, and in my experience, service is the foundation for survival. When I was very ill, and Todd was taking care of me, the “doing” of service was the tool or lesson, so to speak, was where we began.
In Sobriety, this time around, way back when, people in the rooms, basically said, “You will do this, and learn to love it.” It wasn’t a suggestion, it was Gospel. Service was the beginning of getting sober. And service is something I live by, to this day.
Today’s generation cannot be bothered when you tell them what to do, because they look at you and say to your face … “You’ve got to be kidding, You can’t be serious, Why do I have to get my hands dirty, to stay clean and sober ???”
People don’t want to be told what to do, but in reality, this is what you NEED to do. It will keep you humble and focused on doing for others, just because, because this is what I did, and it worked for me.
People today, don’t have respect for long term experience. They cannot wrap their heads around it, service. Like us, Young Missionaries who come to the center, need to know how to serve and get their hands dirty in the classroom, because when they get into the field, they might need to get dirty, or wash dishes, or rake leaves, or something like that.
And if they are not prepared to give FIRST, they surely won’t be able to share the book, well, or at all, because they won’t have foundational abilities to give.
Having Elder Christensen in my life today is SO important to my spiritual growth. I have spiritual teachers in my life, spread all over the word, that I speak to regularly, who keep me on the spiritual beam, so to speak.
So here is my jam jar, filled with every little lesson I can teach you. Take that lesson filled jam jar home with you, open it and begin to use the tools within.
In the beginning, all we want you to do is serve others.
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Tonight we heard a woman from our community speak. What she shared, struck me familiar, because I had heard some of her story in others, in the past. Familiar themes exist in a community, and you hear of them every once in a while, they are not constant.
After several stops and starts, our woman makes her first pass at the rooms. She reaches her year and her husband says to her, after all that work that …
“You did a good job this year, getting and staying sober. Now you are CURED, you don’t need THOSE PEOPLE any more.”
What does she do? She walks away, and never returns. But she does stay sober for SIXTEEN YEARS.
She gets a real estate job, and she wants a particular listing. She takes this client out for dinner and a local ritzy restaurant in Westmount, very close to home. The waiter walks up to the table and the client orders a glass of wine.
Our long sober woman, takes a five second pause, while she considers ordering a glass of wine for herself. Those Five Seconds, change her life. She does indeed say to herself that, wow, I’ve been sober all this while and I haven’t had a drink, a glass of wine, how much harm can that cause ?
She orders a glass of wine and then has a second.
In six weeks time, from that point, she looses her marriage, her children, her job, and those clients she covets.
Four years of in and out begin.
Women suffer too …
By this time, almost twenty years have passed and she has not logged another long sober period, until she has a blackout and comes to, in her living room, surrounded by 20 wine bottles, laying on her living room floor.
She makes the call, and tries to find herself in a ritzy, spa, rehab. She does not.
There is a rehab here called Toxico Stop. It is rough and tumble. Not the kind of place a ritzy Westmount wife would find herself in. But that’s where she ends up.
A few of us in the room tonight were familiar with it, so it made us all giggle …
She meets some serious drug addicts and learns about heroine, and crack and all kinds of sordid addictions. All this is unfamiliar territory for her.
Three weeks later she comes out and finds herself at a meeting, and at the door, are two women, who knew her from almost twenty years ago. They recognize her and they take her in.
They give her the ground rules.
- You’re gonna go to these meetings,
- you are gonna do service,
- and your gonna READ the BOOK.
- These are non-negotiable.
It was like that for me too, fifteen years and six months ago as well.
Drunks and Addicts today, don’t want non-negotiables. They don’t want rules. And they sure as shit, don’t want to be told what to do. Because let’s face it …
It’s us who are crazy, not them. I would never listen to your suggestions, firstly, because this is the way ( I ) am going to get sober. They say …
The above notes experiences, I have heard them all before, never all together, but as bits and pieces of several story tellers.
Our woman is sober today. By the Grace of God.
She’s not so focused on old timers, but finds joy and humility is working with New Comers. Because they have the most to teach us about ourselves and our sobriety.
I know what I have to do now. I know who I want to be. I want to be like my Elder friend Spencer. And in order to be like him, I have to act, every day, LIKE HIM, and in that be LIKE Heavenly Father.
True to God and True to myself and my Fellows.
This is where it begins, and will follow.
“… Some years have passed, and as I look back from the clarity of this moment, I know that the way here for me could not have been by an easier path. I would not willingly have stopped the course my life was on. I needed harsh reality to see the damage that alcohol abuse causes, in so many ways. I needed to be forced into acceptance and humility.”
Some alcoholics and addicts chase our diseases to the gates of insanity, institutions and even death … Some end up locked up, or covered up. Then there are those of us, who’s ships were righted, in the middle of the storm, and got to a safe port, and the opportunity to change our lives for the better.
In this story, our writer tonight, is a woman. Who went from childhood, directly into alcoholism. She passed GO and did not collect her $200.00. And before she GOT IT, she really had GOTTEN IT.
Cirrhosis of the liver, that is …
If you don’t think the girls won’t or don’t party like the boys, some girls are just another kind of party animal, and they go all “Lampshade, Bat Shit Crazy” before their cards come up. Our woman tonight, got to the bitter end, medically, before she wizened up.
Then she gets sober and has the audacity to say this, remember, now how hard a party girl our little lady was … She writes:
“By the time my name was placed on the transplant waiting list, I had become very sick. My liver had progressively continued to shut down, and the official wait had really begun. I had no way of knowing how long it would be before a suitable organ would become available or how long it would be before I rose to the top of the list.
At times I felt resentful of the selection process, the tests, the close supervision of my A.A. program, and the seemingly endless wait. Unquestionably it was only because of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was able to let go of that resentment.”
She’s the one who sunk herself into this pit of sickness and almost death, and at one point SHE gets resentful at the lengths her transplant team was going to to make sure she was sober and taking care of herself.
What transplant team is going to give a healthy organ to someone who is just fucking off, and is really not the human being who really deserves another kick at the can ?
A good few of us needed a swift kick in the ass, before we got sober.
My sponsor paid his price. He was an inter-venous drug use, and got AIDS and Hep C, and all the baggage that came with it, much earlier in the timeline than I did. He got sick in the 1980’s. Before there really was BEFORE in my own story.
I paid the price as well. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction took me to death’s doorstep and I was diagnosed with AIDS as well, I got it in 1994. Still, there were no doctors or drugs for me, and they would not come for a number of years, in my personal timeline.
Thank God for Todd… Really ! I should just thank GOD.
I was in A.A. the first time, for a long time. But like I have said before, I had bigger fish to fry than just staying sober. I mean, I did stay sober, as long as the messaging was telling me to stick around until the miracle happened.
The miracle did happen. I LIVED…
When I moved town from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, the messaging went from Stick Around to Go Away. And that devious, slick, steady and patient little voice begins talking to us, and when that happened to me, ALL bets were off.
I wasn’t listening any longer. I needed to fill the Hole in my Soul. That alcohol and drugs would be connected to that seeking, never entered my brain. And when I got to the other side, there was no escape route, no way out.
I was FUCKED, ten ways from Sunday.
Had the cops not come for me, I probably would have died out there, and nobody would have been the wiser, because nobody knew where I was, save one human being, who did indeed called the cops for me.
I put my life in serious danger. I took my tenuous health for granted and fucked myself over for sex. I did not get the sex, what I got was drug and alcohol addiction, ten times over, what I had left behind the first time.
All because Alcoholics looked at me and said the words ….
GO AWAY and DON’T COME BACK.
Never Ever tell someone coming in, to go away.
Never ever speak that way to another human being, ever.
You never know the challenge that that human being is facing.
Tonight, some folks, in the room, on their second pass, asked this question, What did I NOT have the first time, that I DO have this time ?
The answer was simple. They have US. They have LOVE. They have FELLOWSHIP. They have SPONSORS, they have FRIENDS, and they have THE BOOK and MEETINGS.
And simply, They are NOT ALONE any more.
And we never have to drink again.
For many, in our intrepid group of sober men and women, the problem is NOT the obsession to drink, but the MENTAL aspect of sobriety that is shaking the trees.
The Three Pronged Approach :
- The Physical
- The Spiritual and
- The Mental
Many of my friends deal with this mental aspect of alcohol addiction on a daily basis. That little voice in the back of our heads, that is just waiting for us to slip up and think something stupid.
That’s why we keep coming back, to make sure all three areas of our lives are covered.
For the REST of our LIVES.
One Day at a Time.
Thank the baby Jesus that I am still alive and SOBER.
And thank the Baby Jesus my friends are all still alive and SOBER TOO…
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.
What is a Mandala ?
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 …
The emotional roller coaster is still in motion. And I am working on staying above the water. I just had a conversation with my favorite Elder in the world who gave me wise counsel.
We may work with others, and sometimes that work is grueling and emotional, but we ourselves need to be grounded as well, and have someone in the wings, who is helping manage US. Which goes back to the adage that, if any area of my life is unwell, I can’t really give from that area, if it is lacking in some form or fashion.
My young Elder was that person today.
Last night we read from the book again, with Winner Takes All. A story told by a woman who is visually impaired, but in the end, finds her way into winning, against all the odds against her. She, many commented last night, had fortitude and grace and strength to never quit …
Ok, Never Quit … A sidebar to this post …
A few days ago, Casey Neistat introduced a book from a soldier he met in Afghanistan during mission Bulldog Bite in the mountains of Afghanistan. Jimmy Settle tells his story about becoming an Alaska 212 Pararescueman, a P.J.
I read, all the time. And this book, was not wasted time.
I was engaged from the very beginning of Jimmy’s story. I found myself crying tears of joy at one point of the story, after reading the long and arduous journey Jimmy walked to become that P.J. he always wanted to be.
Then the last few chapters tells the story of his time working on Bulldog Bite in Afghanistan. It was riveting.
The whole idea of working towards a goal, no matter what, fighting tooth and nail, taking ones lumps and gets up and keeps going is familiar territory. I’m not a soldier, by any means, but I can tell you that the last twenty three years has not been a cakewalk for sure, but like the EverReady bunny …
You Just Keep Going .
You Don’t Admit Defeat.
You Don’t Quit.
For a P.J.; quit is not in your vocabulary. You trained long and hard to be a superhuman soldier who can do anything with very little when faced with that situation, when bullets start flying, you jump right in, and do what you came to do.
Anyways, back on the farm…
The first thing that triggered was in her opening statement in the story …
From the very beginning I felt different and unwanted. At a very young age, as children do, I had to make sense of my life, so I came to the conclusion that I was bad and God knew I was bad, so God made me handicapped to punish me. I thought that the undertow of sadness in my family was because of me. (it was not, it was the death of her younger brother)
Later I realized that a part of it might have been due to my handicap, but there was still a lot of grieving going on. My father turned to alcohol and was a very angry man. When we were growing up, he was very critical. I was told things on a daily basis, like I was dumb and lazy…
Right there, my mind stopped on this passage. And that is where I stayed for the entire meeting. It was the others who talked about fortitude, grace and the fact that she did not quit, she kept going, after all the odds against her.
Human beings, say things and react in ways, that are not entirely about us, but more all about them. Their fears, insecurities, problems or issues. A parent should NEVER negate or belittle or verbally abuse a child for any reason, NONE what So ever…
I know that angry alcoholic father. I know the angry critical words spoken. I may not be physically or visually handicapped, but I know disability.
I know how my father used to chase me around the house with a bat, trying to kill me screaming the words … YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN.
To this day, my parents still think this thought and have said it to me not so long ago.
Everybody was moved to say that, what was said and done to our young woman, when she was a child was unconscionable. Those men with children in the room, reacted to this in their own way.
When I got sick, I crossed that invisible line from normal humanity, to defective sinner, who was suffering God’s revenge for my sins. AIDS, is a disability. You cannot imagine what I went through to survive. The things I was forced to do by those who provided for my care, and it was not easy at all.
Our woman goes on an odyssey and in year three of sobriety, leaves a marriage with two children and moved 100 miles away to start a new life. She finds a job, she goes back to school, while working and caring for children. In twelve years of sobriety, coming to the end of her story, she meets all the right people, at the right moments, and she gets it done. She Freaking WINS the story, hands down, against all her odds.
I know what “the fight” looks and feels like. I know what I had to do to make my life something that I could be proud of. A life built by sobriety and God, and by the people who directly guided me in every decision or action I have made thus far.
I, too, met all the right people, at the right moment, for all the right reasons. And I flourished. My life, like our writer, is a life beyond imagination.
I may not have all the right people in my life, but I do have a few. And that has to work for me, until the sober pool of wisdom is replenished in the coming weeks.
Can I just say that it is bitterly COLD outside. My poor tootsies froze on my transit.
UGH, can we get to Spring any sooner, please ?
February is moving along, and our team tonight, was made up of all new people in all areas of the meeting. I opened and a lady friend of mine was in the chair.
Hearing fresh stories are such learning experiences. Thursday night has seen a number of “Firsts” over the last few months. Our speaker tonight, was a young lady, whom I know from other meetings.
In her own words, “throughout her life, she thought it was necessary to hide every identifying marker that defined her. That she just had to hide who she really was, because her view of the world was so skewed.”
I try to tell my Lady readers, when I hear stories like this, that there are women out here who suffer, sometimes worse than the men do. Because in the end, tonight, when she finally made it to the rooms, she was dead inside.
Her junkie boyfriend once said to her, after he visited us occasionally, that “she would like us, if she was an alcoholic.” That one sentence rattled around her brain, until she was ready to come to a meeting.
People who come from small places in Canada, small towns, in far away provinces, this story is particular. Coming from dysfunction she did not know any better. By the time she hit high school, she had constructed a very fine facade to make sure she gave her friends the right image of who she thought she should be, and certainly, not who she really was.
People coming from small communities, with very little population, and moving into large city situations where many people are, can be jarring.
- In the end, she drank fast, to get “somewhere” other than where she was.
- She was always trying to get somewhere else.
- Because where she was, wasn’t cutting it for her.
Bring an Atlantic Province, small town girl, to Big City Montreal, with all its distractions and situations, brought our young lady to her knees.
The part of her story that I identified with was this …
Her longest relationship was with a boy, who was a junkie. Living in a house that was falling down around them, the only thing our young lady really wanted was “really good window coverings.”
She just did not want to see the light of day at 4pm while she slept.
Holding together an abusive, junkie relationship took all she had. And barring anyone or anything else, all she could do was try each day to hold it together, until that challenge became untenable.
I’ve said before that our young people suffer greatly. And the women, more so than the men. Their stories are frightful. Some of us guys listen and compare how hard we got into trouble with our addictions, and our stories pale in comparison.
When I began my slip, I was answering the call of the Hole in My Soul. And I packed up my house and moved 1000 miles from home into the middle of the United States answering a call to be with someone, I really had no idea about in reality.
Nobody knew where I was. If I had been arrested or died in that place, nobody would have missed me or come looking for me either. Living with an active junkie is a seriously tall order. Because, to outsiders, we had to present a common front, as if to say, its really not bad, we are ok. When in reality I was dying inside, stuck somewhere I really regretted finding myself.
That eighteen months was serious hell. I did make contact with an angel in the outside world at one point, who, when the time was right, sent the cops to get me out and save my life. There is no holding together a relationship with someone who was dead set upon self destruction and my destruction as well.
I had to get out.
Our young lady, in the end, found her way out, into the rooms.
What she found turned her life around in so many ways. That finely crafted facade fell away, when she realized that there were other women like her to talk to, and identify with.
I talk about how restorative the rooms are, if you use them wisely.
In our young lady’s case, all those problems like home, house, money and life, just melted away, and turned around, as if on their own.
I do not minimize the work she had to do, in this one years time, to see the wisdom in the choice she made that fateful day when she arrived on our doorstep. She is wise. After only a year and a couple of months, her life has seriously turned around.
I see her on Friday nights. Our young women are a tight bunch and they travel in packs to meetings, which is a very good thing.
Coming out of the dark, not having to hide who she was, behind a facade was freeing in miraculous ways. Can you imagine the energy and effort it took her to construct this wall between her and the outside world ?
Now, imagine for a moment, when she frees up all that pent up energy, and points it inwards, and turns all that negativity into positive strides …
That is Miraculous Power.
I know what that power is, because I learned that lesson myself.
In the end she said that in the rooms she had “Found her people.”
She exuded Gratitude from the heart.
Tonight we read another “Woman’s Story.” Because I am an Alcoholic, was written by our writer, in the 1950’s. By the end of the story, we find out that she is also 28 years sober, at the time of penning her story.
Trying to find out “Who We Are?” is a question that I think is universal, and not uniquely an alcoholic problem.
For every man or woman in the room, there is a story about who they thought they were as kids, then progressing throughout their lives, to the point they drank trying to figure it out, and finally coming to the rooms, where FINALLY, we figured that out.
In the end our lady found out that she was gay, she moved from the city to the country, and built a garden, where she found peace and serenity.
For me, I knew I was gay which was why I had to leave home. And the one bit of advice I took as gospel was that … “In order to be part of you had to drink…”
That was SOOOOO Wrong !
There were several point in her story that I identified with. Her life began in the country and a solitary childhood and her imaginary friends, then moving to a big city, where she encountered other kids, she still felt apart from, different.
Her odyssey of alcoholism took her all over the world, looking for connection and inclusion. But those tell tale signs, the massive drinking bouts, and black outs and not knowing what she did the night before, began to haunt her.
In her mind though … She just could not be an alcoholic.
Through a series of unfortunate, or maybe fortunate events, in the presence of her therapist and friends, she came around to see that actually, she WAS an alcoholic.
How many of us, just don’t see it while we were IN IT. How many of us came around at first, thinking that “I could not be an alcoholic!” How much time did we sit in the rooms trying to figure it out, justifying our habitual drinking, until we could not fight it any more.
We hear those same words again: Fear, Guilt, Anger, Rage …
We are in a season of “feeling” right now. Something I had not necessarily seen, but the signs were there. My circle of friends is tight. And we’ve been in each others company for a while now.
We have had losses of family, the loss of friends, communities. We’ve seen insanity come to other places, and tragedy occur here at home. I guess you could say that there has been a confluence of “current events” that have shaken the equilibrium of our people.
Our writer talks about finally being able to see and experience the world around her. Be that in her garden, or among her friends, or in the rooms, she mentions the word Seasons.
In my life, I think about the first time around, and what really mattered about that period in my life. Life was coming fast and furiously, and I really did not have time to stop and breath for such a long time.
I HAD coasted to the four year mark, relatively alive.
The familiar Geographical is a common theme in many alcoholic stories. As was apparent in our writers story. I had gone to the many places she did, in my own story.
My first stint in sobriety, did not offer me what this round did. There were too many unhealthy people in my vicinity. The messaging was all wrong. I was too disconnected to know better, that I was disconnected. And nobody knew to say anything before it was too late to affect change.
Even if I did know that, the HOLE in my SOUL, was running the game at the very end …
When I got sober the second time, I was all alone, save the people in the SOBE room who took care of me. I had no friends, no family, no relationship.
I reflect on the year 2001 … I was numb through a national tragedy.
The opportunity to make One Final Move presented itself. I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. I made that move, and did not look back.
I got to Montreal, in April of 2002. In the buffer zone between the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. During that first year of time, I was living alone, going to meetings, attending after care, and I stayed sober, by doing everything I was told to do without argument.
I had eight months of being able to experience my surroundings. The people in my life, then, kept me very busy and on a short leash. In the end, it took me about two years to fully integrate into Canada and find my footing.
I remember that I had time to breathe. You might not think that that is so important, but coming out of the scourge of AIDS and surviving, knowing how hard that was and how we held out collective breaths, hoping to live, because expectations were not very high, nor were the prognosis-es, realizing that I could breathe was very important.
I had come to the point that I was One, alive and Two, sober. With those two markers out of the way, I could concentrate on living life for the first time in my life.
I was almost a year sober before I met my now husband. I had all the time in the world to get to know my world intimately and soberly. And by the time we did meet, I was ready for that portion of my life to flesh out.
The book says that the only thing that has to change in sobriety is Everything.
We see, right now, that people are feeling. In Open Community. I did not notice this until now, having spent the last year and a bit feeling, myself. But over the past few months, feelings have been on our dashboards for some time.
Spend enough time with your friends, and life happens.
My fifteenth year was, as I have said, the most emotional year I have experienced, since I got sober this time around. I’ve been “feeling in open community” and in the end, those people, whom I thought were my friends, punished me for feeling, openly.
I had not known a time where my shortcoming would be used against me by people who watched me crack under my emotions, and then say that they just could not be part of my life anymore.
Alcoholics and Addicts have very selective abilities. Many of them, placed me on a pedestal and it seemed to me, in the end, that I was supposed to be this “Vulcan type” hybrid a.l.a Spock. Not allowing myself to feel anything.
Because when I did feel and express myself “in open community” people ran for the hills screaming and yelling…
I just cannot wrap my head around they way my friends turned around and ostracized me.
But it is what it is. I’m involved in new meetings and a new social circle.
Living in a four season country, if you take the time, there is so much to look forward to. So much to see and so much to experience.
My favorite season is Fall.
That is the season where the most happens. Falling leaves are amazing. Fall is beautiful in a country where trees and green spaces matter.
It is a religious experience, the very first night it snows. I wait for that night to happen every year. The first snow for me, is Holy.
Had I stayed where I was, in Miami, in a 2 season state, Wet and Wetter … Living in the hole I was living in, alone, I would never have flourished the way I did here.
This last move had to work, and I did all the right things.
I would never go back to the life I had for any amount of money.
Coming up on my fifties soon, all I have is time. And I need to remember to appreciate every day, because I never know when this other shoe is going to drop.
Twenty three years later, nobody knows what is going to come, or what life is supposed to look like, so we are all playing the game very carefully.
One day at a time …
It is a bit cold outside. And thinking I would change it up, I dressed a little simple with single layers … Note to self … No Single layers in the winter.
It was a full day for me. I think I said a few nights ago that I had looked in the mirror and realized that I had much more grey hair than I thought. I don’t usually study myself in the mirror, actually.
On my morning shop, I stopped into Pharmaprix, and bought me some hair color.
And I was gonna “Wash that grey right out of my hair …”
I bought a lighter shade, with some lighter tones, well, 35 minutes later, my hair was a bit redder than when I started, and not a hint of “light.” UGH. I guess the hair I have did not like the mix I gave it, so it spit something out totally different.
It’s ok. It’s not bad. I’m working on a grow out for a new cut next week, because I didn’t want to get a cut and look like I was stuck in between two styles.
I cleaned the apartment, did the laundry, cleaned the bathroom. Very good things.
**** **** ****
This month I am doing service again, at my Thursday home group. They gave me a set of keys so I can open/close this month. Last month I was talking to some of our women before the meeting, and they asked me if I could open, and I said to them that I have had a key for a church on my key ring, for the last 14 of my 15 years of sobriety.
I’ve maintained all the First Things First routine that I learned in my first year. I lived my life around that system and it worked for me. So rather than change something that works well, I just do what I have to do on a daily basis.
Our speaker was “family.”
The theme of the share was the Fading Away …
People who have had slip experiences, and get back, and make it, tell this same story, in differing ways, and differing circumstances. The consequences are always the same.
The theme is common.
I’ve said before that I’ve seen many people, in the double digit territory, tens, twenties and thirties … just fade away. They stop doing meetings. They stop calling.
They just STOP. Common.
Our lady friend tonight spoke about her ten year anniversary. Some, at certain points in sobriety allow the tape to begin to play …
- Ah, I’ve got this
- I haven’t had a drink in a long time
- I can skip a meeting or two
- or I can go without a meeting for a while …
In sobriety, things begin coming back, and life gets good. We get settled in a routine, that may/or may not/ require our full attention, and meetings fall by the wayside, as happened for our woman tonight.
Children, Mortgages, Jobs happen, Life happens.
She just faded away. When the fade begins, we tend to disconnect in small ways, that may seem innocuous in the beginning, but if we don’t catch the trend, we end up out the door.
She did not drink right away. Not for a while.
Then over a holiday in France, she was out with friends, and she had a simple glass of champagne. And was like … I am GOOOOOOOOOD !!!
Just one drink.
That eventually led to two, which eventually led to pitiful incomprehensible demoralization.
Double digits, down the drain.
Women suffer too. Drinking to have fun, and to be part of turned into drinking all alone on her night “to herself.” Shame Drinking in Secret …
One drink turned into “Bottles of Wine…”
Cue up Shame, Fear and the Killing of Self Worth …
She knew the drill. She has, like many of us, alcohol in the family. BUT she also had sober family for a bit. And good things came to her, but in the end …
She Forgot …
Thankfully, she found her way back a few years ago. And is now sober again, with some time. She made it back. Many women don’t make it back because of boatloads of problems like:
- Low Self Worth
- Nobody Cares if I am out here so why bother ???
Shame and Fear are two major killers, not to mention a killer bout of depression in the middle of all the drinking…
We are not doctors. And Depression is a serious topic, that if it arises, and we need help, we get that help. In the end she got that help.
The warning was really clear to me, because the same thing happened to me, at the first “four year mark.” But I did not fade away on my own steam. I faded away because members of a room of drunks, asked me to leave and not come back.
Dealing with a terminal illness, Go and Don’t come back, and the HOLE in the SOUL, are serious deal breakers if you are trying to stay sober, in a world that does not want you around.
But the fade away took place, because, like our lady tonight, she was DISCONNECTED from the system.
- No meetings
- No Sponsor
- No Book
- No Steps
- No Service
If you tick two or more of these things off your mental list, that is going on with you at the moment, then the warning is clear, the Fade Away IS IN Progress.
Nip that shit in the bud right away.
Because like they say, “The first time is a gift, the second, third or fourth time, you really have to work for it.”
And that’s the God’s Honest Truth …
The Fade Away can be avoided.
Recognize it before it is too late.
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 …
They say that in life, this life, that there is no dress rehearsal. This is the BIG SHOW.
You don’t get a do over…
Unless of course, you are a drunk, who pissed away their life drinking, or a drug addict, who ruined what life they had abusing drugs …
And you come round and get CLEAN and SOBER.
The world out there, doesn’t really get a do over, those out there doing their thing, not necessarily hurting anyone, they are just going about their lives. But for those of us, in the rooms today, who had done damage to ourselves and others, one way or another, before death calls your name, you find your way to us …
The odds are stacked against us, when we come through the doors. Some come in and get it right away. Are struck with the gift of desperation, and they stick and stay. And they begin their do over right away.
Then there are those of us who need two and three and four kicks at the can to finally reach the point where we do get that gift of desperation, and we come to, and we then get OUR do over as well.
I’ve been living in “do over” territory for a long time. I not only survived a death sentence and outlived all of my friends, I’ve been sober almost as long as I drank. Here in Montreal, old timers like to say that, you have arrived when you reach the point in sobriety, where you have been sober as long as the time you spent drinking and using.
God gave me several “Do Overs,” Thought it wise to give me a chance to live. Because for a very long time, I was not living at all. I was merely existing. Existing to drink, Existing to use, Existing to party.
You’ve thought that facing my own mortality would keep me on the beam for the rest of my life. But as I wrote earlier today, people in the program want the easier softer way, they don’t necessarily want to follow the directions, do they ?
In my case, it was the messages I was getting that sent me back out.
Never tell someone who is hurting, trying to survive, to Leave a Meeting and Never come Back.
Those words could very well kill someone.
They were said to me.
Folks in meetings, want to fit in. To be accepted. To be loved. Because while we were out there punishing ourselves, trying to fit in, where we did not, and in the process of trying to fit in, found ourselves at the bottom of a bottle …
Our young writer of tonight’s story wanted so badly to fit in, and she just could not do it, until she allowed herself to be cared for, in the rooms.
What do you do, when you are a teenager, and you are one of us ? At first, you might not want to admit that you are defeated. That you could not possibly be one of us, that you have many more “good years” of drinking/using to do before you settle down and grow up.
Our young writer tonight, was a teenager when she hit the rooms.
Our young people here battle with the idea that they are addicts and alcoholics, and they come in and try sobriety on for size. Some stay, most don’t. Because they believe that life could not get any better, that there is no life, without the party and the self-destruction.
They have to reconcile, not drinking/using with age and their peer group.
When I came in, my first sponsor was a young man. Younger than I was. But at the time, he was ten years sober when we met, and we hit it off. But after a year, his ego got the best of him, and he got pissy and he stormed off never to speak to me again, ever. I saw him once after that fall out, at a meeting one night, and he ignored me like he did not know who I was … not very sober !
Los of people with serious time, are not very sober. And that’s the truth.
What young people don’t see, in the beginning is that, they get their do over early on, that they have their whole life ahead of them to live clean and sober. Most old timers look at the young people and muse … “IF only I had come in that early, what would my life have looked like ?”
But how do you tell someone that early on, without them laughing in your face ?
Like I said, the odds are stacked against us. And people don’t necessarily want to hear “suggestions or How To’s.”
We tried to find an easier softer way but we could not.
Among our folks tonight, I heard many snickers from my friends, because I tell the truth. A friend who is mourning a loss, who at times, is rude, heard me share in the circle before he did and commented to the rest of the group that, “He wasn’t as sober as I was, with a snicker…”
Last week, I had a conversation with a friend and he said to me that he admired me because I don’t sugar coat the truth, and when I speak, I use my words wisely. That answer came back to me from another friend this evening.
I don’t know what is worse, telling the truth, or trying to step around someone who does not want to hear the truth ?
Is it better to tell the truth or dance around the head of a pin ?
We were all young once. And we all had our fun, didn’t we ? Those out there, who skated through, with nary a problem, make it into life whole. But for some of us, that brick wall has to come down on top of us, for God to get our attention.
I’ve seen several walls fall on me in my almost fifty years on this planet.
God placed certain STOP signs in my path at various points in this journey. Some were a day late and a dollar short, and some were right on time.
I still don’t know why I lived and all of my friends are dead. I still don’t know what I am supposed to be doing all these years later. 50 is coming and I have no idea.
Like my doctor tells me … “Well we’ll just make it up as we go along.”
Sobriety does not necessarily give you the directions on what to do with your life, when we get sober, “but it DOES give you the tools to construct a ladder, with the twelve steps.”
With the right guidance, time and advice, we get to make right choices. How many of my friends, did not jump at that chance like I did ? How many of my friends hung back and held on to old behavior, people, places and things, until they got pulled down into that pit of hell, only to find much later that they should have let go absolutely.
And now some of those friends, have some time, some, double-digit time, but they are miserable shells of human beings, because they are still broken and shattered inside.
And over the past few months I’ve seen this with my own eyes, and heard their stories with my own ears, and I think to myself …
Thank the baby Jesus, I did not do what they did when I came in.
People think I am egotistical and prideful when I say that thank God I did not do what some of my friends did, and that I did not make the same choices some of my friends made as well.
It isn’t about my Ego or my Pride. It’s the God’s Honest Truth.
Because had I fucked off like many of my friends did, mentally, emotionally and sexually, an ended back out the door, drunk and/or high, I would surely not be where I am today.
Each successive time you drop off the radar and go back out for further experimentation, in the drink and the drugs, the odds of your return get slimmer. Some get back and they have to fight even harder to get back.
Sadly, a handful of those who go back out, end up DEAD !!!
None of my friends can say that I am not observant or that I don’t pay attention in meetings. I sure as shit pay attention, because I listen to my friends and in their own special way, they say out loud … Don’t do this …
This is Your Chance to Live … You might not get another do over.
FOLLOW DIRECTIONS GIVEN …
It is the night after the First Night of the New Year 2017. I was terribly upset when, after an inquiry about our year end reports, to hear that Word Press decided not to produce them this year.
Today the holidays end. Everybody goes back to work tomorrow, and I get my house back. Having another soul sharing the same footprint for two weeks, is trying…
My friend Juan and I hit the Monday Big Book Meeting down the hill. And we were all glad to see that our hearty band of men and women survived the holidays clean and sober.
Tonight’s fare: The House wife who drank at home.
I had to hide, as a great many people in A.A. have had to do. I did my hiding in the hampers and in my dresser drawers. When we begin to do things like that with alcohol, something’s gone wrong. I needed it, and I knew I was drinking too much, but I wasn’t conscious of the fact that I should STOP. I kept on.
My home at that time was a place to mill around in. I wandered from room to room, THINKING, DRINKING, DRINKING, THINKING. And the mops would come out, the vacuum would come out, everything would come out, but nothing would get done.
Toward five o’clock, HELTER-SKELTER, I’d get everything put away and try to get supper on the table, and after supper I’d finish the job up and knock myself out.
I never knew which came first, the thinking or the drinking. If I could only stop thinking, I wouldn’t drink. If I could only stop drinking, maybe I wouldn’t think. But they were all mixed up together, and I was all mixed up inside.
And YET I had to have that drink…
This was my portion of the read this evening. Reading this passage soberly, with the appropriate emphases, speech and tone, we all laughed at the insanity.
It may not have been funny at all, when we were hiding bottles and drinking and thinking and being all over the map when it came to feelings, only to finally realize that we sat in the middle of the balance …
I can’t live with alcohol and I can’t live without it …
I just have to have that One Last Drink …
Coming to the rooms, in the very beginning, was no laughing matter for many of us. I know for me, it was One Very Long Slog the second time. I was shot to death. I was a sad human being, it was definitely NOT a laughing matter.
How can we laugh at someone’s misfortunes when it came to alcohol ?
Well, stop drinking, and come to the rooms. In time, as we read the Big Book, read, and re-read it again, and again, we realize just how bad it was, and with some sober time under our belts, how good it really is now.
Tonight, we all laughed. As was mentioned by some of our folks.
But the laughter, was tempered, by the fact that, some of our number have lost family over the holidays, and that it was not all shits and giggles for some. And we knew that.
But you know, they got through it, with us, Together. They were not, and are not alone.
It is the New Year. And there are those out there, who muddled through the holidays, spitting and sputtering. And there will be those who have realized that they cannot go on the way they have been carrying on, for how ever long the slog has been for them.
Numbers will bump over the next month.
- For those who think they drink too much
- For those who have decided to cut back and come in, but not to stay
- For those who KNOW for sure, they drink too much
- And those who come in via the courts
We who are in it to win it, will listen to people tell their stories and just how insane it was for them, and how they just need to get a handle on their drinking, and they will be good, and they can go back to their lives … and drink again.
The odds are not good, in the month of January, for those who come in and may not, or will not stay. They just need a place to DRY OUT for a bit.
In reading this story, our house wife speaks of SURRENDER…
I went to closed meetings and open meetings. And I took everything that A.A. had to give me. Easy does it, first things first, one day at a time. It was at that point that I reached SURRENDER. I heard one very ill woman say that she didn’t believe in the surrender part of the A.A. program. My Heavens !!!
Surrender to me has meant the ability to run my home, to face my responsibilities as they should be faced, to take life as it comes to me day by day and work my problems out. That’s what SURRENDER has meant to me.
I surrendered once to the bottle, and I couldn’t do these things. Since I gave my will over to A.A., whatever A.A. has wanted of me I’ve tried to do to the best of my ability…
A.A. gives us alcoholics DIRECTION into a way of life WITHOUT the need for ALCOHOL. That life for me is lived one day at a time, letting the problems of the future rest with the future. When the time comes to solve them, God will give me strength for that day.
My grandfather was a bottle hider, as was our house wife tonight. I identified with her story, because I had met her, early on in my life, She was my Grandfather.
My father did not hide bottles. He had a liquor cabinet and a rolling stock bar. He did not hide anything. He drank in open company. The more the better. My parent’s always encouraged us to DRINK. And drink at home, they would even supply the alcohol, no questions asked.
For me, I never kept alcohol at home. I never bought it at a liquor store. I had to go out to get it. That was the adventure. The Going out to Get It.
When I realized that I could not drink every day any longer, I became a BINGE drinker.
In my mid thirties, deluded still, in the belief that if I drank enough, someone would notice me. After the first drink, all bets were off.
In the end, I would have that first drink, and be totally smashed. Several more drinks would follow, and finally, I would go from the club to waking up in my bed, through two locked doors, after someone rushed me out of the club, into a taxi, and got me home.
To this day, I do not know who performed that chore every Saturday night, that I went out to BINGE.
But I am grateful for whomever it was, because this could have ended very badly, someone UP THERE was paying attention, and did for me what I could not do for myself.
You Don’t have to ever drink again.
There IS a SOLUTION.
The rooms await, with people in them, there to welcome you and to be your friends.
One day at a time.
Things are not as they should be right now. One of my sponsees is sitting in a hospital at this hour with a friend visiting from out of town, and during this evening, found out she has an ectopic pregnancy. She is going to loose the baby. Or more to the point, the baby is going to be removed, because it is not viable where it is.
A very sad note for this evening. But both women are doing the best they can at this hour.
Say a prayer for them both.
This evening I sat with an Old Timer from our Best Night of the Week Meeting, before the meeting. And I shared verbal diarrhea with him. We traded ideas of what should happen next, his first response to that question was “The Third Step Prayer…”
We have similar thought about a great many things. One thought that came up is that people don’t seem to appreciate the work that goes into a meeting. Starting with managing that space, paying the bills, doing the shopping, setting up, making coffee, washing dishes, and breaking down.
A whole host of people take part in the nightly event (Around the world).
Managing a meeting is a thankless job. And is never really truly appreciated, because you never hear a member come up to you, and say Thank You …BUT you will hear, occasionally from their seats, that they are grateful for the meeting.
Now, in the past, I have seen coffee makers and setter uppers, have mental breakdowns at certain meetings, bitching and complaining quite openly, to the meeting itself, while the meeting is still going on, how ungrateful folks really are, and that said setter upper demands a thank you from everyone sitting in the room.
We are cautioned quite often, that service is a gift of the program, because it keeps us humble and rooted to the reason why we need the meetings, because when we came in there were people doing just what we do today, for us, and at times we can get angry and resentful at the ingratitude of most people who walk through the door every week.
So beware your EGO.
Kindness was the other idea that was floated.
We do this work gladly, because it is necessary, because if we don’t do the service, the meeting isn’t going to happen at all. And he told me that people, over the years, as they come, form the meeting in their image, as they see it. Which leads to a meeting ever changing. People come, people go. Formats come, and Formats go.
Meetings begin, get popular, have a good run, then, almost mysteriously, they fades to black, when the novelty of a particular meeting looses its shine. People get bored.
Boredom is also problematic.
We do the same rote actions week after week, month after month, year after year. Like a robot. We all have our assigned roles, per week. And on Friday night, we are a well oiled machine. We can crank out set up in twenty minutes with the right number of setter uppers.
People don’t seem to take notice of those of us who do this work.
And one thinks that maybe one day, something we have done is going to surface in someones life, that something we do or say, will make a difference in a life. That may come to pass, and maybe it won’t.
My counsel to folks is this … Pick a meeting. Find a seat, and STAY.
Watch, Listen and Pay Attention.
The reading from A.B.S.I. was long and convoluted. But the front room, went with the:
SLIP … Sobriety Looses Its Priority.
There are a number of young people who come, who are in rehabs across town. So the first horse out of the gate shared on the topic of a slip, and day counts.
There are two schools of thought in this area, and I’ve heard them both spoken over the years.
In the program, you come in, and begin your day count. if you decide to go out a drink again, you start over at day one.Then, there is a more linear view of a slip.
The thought that, when one comes back, that you do not punish the slipper by restarting their day count, but you keep counting to keep the momentum, even though, one drank again.
Well, that started the ball rolling and it just kept going until the top of the hour.
The odds that one enters the rooms, and stays, and makes it a one time drive, are slim. The odds that one returns after a slip, go down even further, the number of times you go back out. Most folks at our meeting has had a slip experience. For one reason or another.
It is usually common that once folks fall off the wagon and drink again, come back and never go back out. But these stories are far and few between. Statistics on this are proof.
An old timer spoke about Alcoholic.
- The real alcoholic out there, usually would never admit he/she is one.
- Then there are those who come in, leery, not knowing for sure.
- There are also those who come in, knowing full well the facts.
- There are also those who come in and need to figure it out for themselves.
- And there are those who are mandated to show up by a judge.
Long Sober men and women that have been around double digit years, either ONE, stay put and stick to the rooms, and prosper and do well, or TWO, Long Sober men and women who also have double digit years, come for a while, then they fall off. They stop coming to meetings, and the tape begins to play in their heads …
- Ah, you’re really not an alcoholic, look how long you’ve gone without a drink
- Ah, its a waste of time and energy to go out, (in minus twenty temps)
- Ah, I really don’t need a meeting
- I deserve a break after so many years, I can take a breather
- And you know what follows, if the tape continues, don’t you ?
- They Drink Again … And the odds on return are almost nil
Some people, in sobriety, go through really dark times, either Mental, Emotional, Medical or Financial. They spin out into the darkness. Some find their way, others do not.
I’ve seen medical issues take people out. Men and women fight battles with Cancer, or AIDS, or MS, or any other myriad of diseases. And they either conquer, or they fall. There are just some illnesses that you never come back from.
Death is a forgone conclusion.
But many women, who have, (for example) Breast Cancer, they get diagnosed, and they begin treatment. Radiation, Chemo, Surgery, Reconstruction, and Recovery. This is one serious long haul drag for our women.
With a good support system, women to walk with them, and women who are present for them for the entire journey, those women return victoriously.
On the other hand, (in my own experience), I knew a woman, I was very good friends with. I was here, she was in Florida, getting treatment, surgery and reconstruction. She was victorious. She was long sober, more than twenty years at the time.
I spoke to her every day. We talked about everything, So I Thought.
One night, she went to Lincoln Road, on Miami Beach, for dinner. She ordered a glass of wine, then another. Over the next few weeks, she went to have dinner, with a glass of wine and several more.
She never expressed the desire to drink to me ever. She never spoke about it either.
A few months later, at twenty and some odd years, she returned to Montreal. One night, she walked into the meeting, and when the chip was offered, she got up and took it.
I was mortified.
I was so angry. Words passed between us, she left the meeting, and never came back. And we never spoke again, even though I can see her condo building from my living room windows. She lives that close.
She had been victorious at beating Breast Cancer, so she deserved a break, she said during the meeting. This is not a one off story … But it is my story about her.
Illness is a beast. It fucks with our minds, whatever other issue we are dealing with, falls by the wayside. The tape begins to play, like our men’s tape above, and women find themselves surviving a visit from death, drinking is the least of their worries.
So what does one do with this type of situation ?
I should have kept my mouth shut. Maybe I should have understood what I know today, but did not then. But what can you say when friends keep secrets ?
Secrets and Lies are two markers, that if they begin, a drink is not far away.
Women suffer too. Most in silence, because they don’t know what to do, who to talk to, nor what to say, when this takes place. I’m not a woman, but I know how I felt for her and for me, when she took that chip.
So you see, our jobs, in the meetings, are fraught with complications.
When Sobriety Looses Its Priority, all bets are off.
Man and Woman alike.
Knowing the warning signs, and being present when someone speaks, to have the right words, is a fine art. That does not come over night. It takes time. A lot of time, investment and friendship.
Relationships like that are far and few between.
You cannot walk into a meeting, and sit for very long, and NOT invest in its people.
Once you pick your seat, buckle up and hang on. Because it is going to be a bumpy ride.
It always is…
The weather has been looking up. The rain has stayed away and blue skies have been prominent today. The only complaint I have today is that on several fronts, construction or building clean up started way too early this morning. I’ve never seen a vacuum so big as the one that is hanging on the side of the consulate building right now. It literally is a HUGE collection bin (read:vacuum) on the ground floor, with a tube that reaches more than ten stories up the building. And it roared all day like a jet engine. Just a mere few meters away from my balcony. UGH …
I was up and down like a Yo Yo all day until I finally had had it with noise and I got up.
The sadness train has left the building, because Baby Mama and Baby LuLu are scheduled to depart Montreal on the morning of the 18th. Just two weeks away. We are now in clean and move mode, scheduling trucks and movers to move the furniture to other places in the coming month.
Move Day is July First. That is, EVERYBODY moves in Montreal on July First. So you can imagine the gridlock on trucks and traffic on that one day of the week. It is a sheer nightmare. So we are hoping to get this all wrapped up before the end of June.
Let Us Pray …
We sat a bumper group tonight, and read another “Women’s Story, Student of Life.” And once again, the men piped up, I wonder why I never read this story, because, you dumb ass, you skipped it because you didn’t want to read another woman’s tale of alcoholism.
This story has tragic appeal.
But just as material losses are not necessary to indicate alcoholism, material gains are not the true indications of sobriety. The real rewards aren’t material in nature.
I have friends now because I know how to be a friend and I know how to nurture and encourage valuable friendships.
Most importantly, 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 came to A.A. in order to stop drinking; what I received in return was my life.
The story of a young woman, never seeing alcoholism or dysfunction in her home life, leaves the nest, and enters college. And never drinking before, she attends her first of MANY fraternity parties.
She has a drink, then she has MORE, ends up sick as a dog, tossing her cookies in a bathroom stall, and after all that she gets up from the bowl and she thinks …
OMG I’ve arrived, Give me MORE, I like it …
It is like sitting at the bar, with a stiff shot in a nice little shot glass, and you grab that shot and toss it back, as it bites your throat as it goes down, and you lick your lips and repeat that phrase …
OMG, I like it, Give me another …
When she had a moment of self appraisal with one of those alcoholism questionnaires, she grades high, in the “never had those losses,” so I must not be an alcoholic!
But she writes that in the end, it was ALCOHOL that was the LIE.
Alcohol, it is a lie, an evil, insidious lie, and I chased that lie for a long time, even when it was obvious that I was going nowhere and killing myself while I was doing it.
And how many of us fell for that lie, and went down this road ourselves, until we indeed, hit our respective bottoms, and quit digging, and realized just how duped we were by the LIE of Alcohol ?
After a little bit of time, she is sitting in a meeting, and gets asked to speak, for the first time, and the story goes:
It was the second meeting that clinched my resolve to pursue sobriety. There were about thirty five people in attendance, but the space was small, so the meeting seemed very crowded. Being from out of town, I stood up and introduced myself when asked to by the chairperson. Later on in the meeting, the chairperson called on me to share. I got up and somehow walked over to the microphone and podium – I’ve never been so nervous in my life. But the words came out naturally as I described the events that led up to the meeting that night.
As I spoke, I looked around the room. More importantly, I looked at the faces of the people in the room and I saw it. I saw the understanding, the empathy, the love. Today I believe I saw my Higher Power for the first time in those faces. While still up at the podium, it hit me – THIS IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN LOOKING FOR ALL MY LIFE.
This was the answer, right here in front of me. Indescribable relief came over me; I knew the fight was over.
How many boys and girls, not yet adults, move from home into university settings, or into early job prospects, and moving away from home for the first time, and we hear this lie told to us, that “Alcohol will get you where you want to go, and if you don’t hear that one, you get that “first drink, give me more phenomena!”
I lived my story backwards. I started in Hell and began loosing in the first few months of leaving home. And even with those losses, I took my lumps, and just kept going. That was the bulk of my twenties, until I got sick at 26.
I had a two year break from misery, to meet and conquer death, soberly. That was a success, but the lie was not over, I had not hit that final bottom.
But when I did, in 2001, at 34, I was licked. I was done. I knew where I had to go, and I prayed that God would get me there, and He did.
The rest is history.
Some things I heard this evening:
- I can’t stand looking in the mirror, even sober
- I feel less than, because I am being hit with life lumps and I don’t quite know what to do with them
- Well, I’ve got some time, and sure as shit, life is not getting better for me
- When are the Promises going to begin coming ?
- I don’t know who I am
It is the same for everybody, woman or man. When we come in, life may suck, but you haven’t had a drink in a while, so stick with it. Just because we get sober, God doesn’t turn around and flatten the mountains and raise the valleys to meet us.
Life is as Life is going to be. This is Life on Life’s terms, raw and unadulterated.
It ain’t easy, and now you know about the lie, because you fell for it. And now you are learning how to live with the truth. So sit down, shut up, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth, and pay attention.
You put one foot in front of the other. You Join a Group. You get active. You do some service, and try a little gratitude for today that you did not drink or drug.
My sponsor really likes simplicity:
If you did NOT drink or drug today, then that is a good start.
Alcoholics love control, complexity, and sitting in ones own shit.
The problem with sitting in ones own shit, is that, eventually you begin to smell like shit, and who wants to hang around someone who is sitting in a shit pile for very long ?
Not Many People.
I can’t give final answers to any of the questions above. All I can tell you is that it took a very long time for the Promises to come true, more than a decade for some, so hang on while the roller coaster is in motion.
Life is not easy, just as Sobriety is not any easier either.
But you are here, I suggest you come back for more.
It will get better. If you want results, you have to DO the WORK.
You cannot reap benefits from a program that you do not work conscientiously.
Women suffer Too …
The weather took a definite turn into crap today. It has been pissing rain all day.
Things around town are on pause right now. With rain forecast until Tuesday, pouring concrete is going to wait until things dry out. Season has come to Montreal, with the closure of sections of the cities streets, and turning them into pedestrian only access.
This is a yearly event, to attract residents to explore their neighborhoods, and to encourage tourists to come, sit, stay, and spend money. The open space of terraces, more than double in car free zones, giving restos and bars, traffic and profits, beyond what they usually make with only indoor service.
Everybody was out early today, and when I got to the church, the room was set up. I had forgotten that we had a newbie coming for coffee, so I cranked out the rest, and had ample time to sit and read, because sitting outside as ruled out by rain.
We read from the Big Book tonight, and the chapter, “Women suffer too.” Men who read the back of the book, it seems, and we heard tonight, from some men, that when it came to women’s stories they actually skipped those sections, because:
“What do I have in common with a woman?” Well, A Lot actually …
Zeroing in on pages 206 – 207 … Then the miracle happened – to me !!!
Themes such as:
- Coming Home
- We cannot live with anger
- Being able to contribute to your fellows
I read this passage with my friends, and my friends read as well. Some of my friends remarked that they had never read this story, because it was a woman’s story, and wondered out loud, why they intentionally skipped the read, when they identified with our lady storyteller.
I grew up in a family of alcoholics, who drank, got pissed off and copped resentments, that lasted years, decades, generations. The old “I’ll Show You…” been there, done that.
After seeing my parents do this to family, I swore that I would never do that to people I loved. And I did not. But honestly, when I first got sober, I engaged in “I’ll show you” behavior IN sobriety.
When you are sick and dying and you need friends and family, and they fuck off and walk away, the only one left in the game is YOU, and whoever is in the game with you.
I made two “I’ll Show You” decisions in sobriety. In the same retaliation form as my drunk parents had done to me. And I was Sober !!! Not as sober as I could have been, but it is what it is.
For the whole of my life, I was trying to find my way into communities that I thought would supply “acceptance and support.” That did not happen.
What I thought I needed to do, to be part of, did not materialize, until I got honest and returned to the rooms in 2001. All that I had been looking for was there for me to find, without having to seek “the outside world” for it.
Alcoholics suffer a great many things; fear, anger, resentment, sadness, isolation, just to name a few. Over time, we learn how to get rid of, to mitigate, and to change those negative feelings and learn to turn them into positives.
Salvation comes, with time and investment, when we allow our untreated alcoholism to get washed in the machine of The Book, The Work and The Steps. Recovery is a full time job. It isn’t just an hour a week, or a few hours a week, in meetings.
How freeing is it, for men and women, to know, that for the last time in our lives, we see how to get rid of all that shit that saddles us in our misery, anger and fear ?
We learn to Let Go, Absolutely, as How It Works says.
Some come to this readily, right from the bat, but others, hang on for dear life, because who will they be without this anger, fear and resentment to show others, who we are ?
Freedom comes, but not without work on our parts. Osmosis does not work, you have to Do The Work, to get the results.
I’ve spoken about freedom recently. The purpose of sobriety, is to get to Happy, Joyous and Free, and also, sobriety “real sobriety” comes when we allow the past to go, and we stop holding onto shit we don’t have to, and we come to the point where we can:
LIVE IN THE NOW.
This lifetime investment in the betterment of our lives, and the betterment of the lives of all those we meet in the rooms, brings wisdom and peace. When we are free, and we have spent time working on us, at some point, YOU will begin to see what you have to GIVE BACK to your fellows.
You never know when something you say, in a room, or in a conversation, that just might change a life, in ways you never imagined.
What better place to be, than in a room with your friends, OFTEN, and seek the same goals: Happy Joyous and Free …
Read the Book, all of it. Don’t skip. That’s why the back of the books is there. So at some point, you realize that You aren’t crazy, that You aren’t alone, and that We all suffer.
One of my friends said tonight that, “If they print a Fifth Edition, of the Big Book, they should call it simply … WE ALL SUFFER …
Come and join us, and find what you’ve been looking for. Then stay until the miracle happens for you…
Because, it will.
It is raining. And has been raining All, Day, LONG ! Many things were going on today, and I had to get out of bed early, because we needed some repairs to our fuse box, and I had an appointment later in the afternoon, on the East end, and it was pouring down rain all afternoon. And I really did not want to go out in the pouring rain ….
Even with an umbrella …
The repairs were made, sadly, a couple of hours before I was supposed to leave, I got a cancellation call from The Maison that my masseur was stuck in the townships with a flat tire. (Townships – To the East and South of Montreal – a little far away).
When the coast cleared and I was free of commitments, I gladly poured myself back into my warm bed for a couple of hours. (read: Being good to myself).
It was a joyful evening, as we had a fellow join us for his first (read: Second first) meeting. It is hard having family in the place of suffering and not being able to do anything for them, because all we can do is attract rather than promote.
And we’ve been working really hard at attraction.
We got to the meeting with time to spare. And as I sat down, the chair asked me to thank the speaker. Common themes are repeating themselves, albeit, from different generations of people.
For a second week in a row, our speaker had not one, but BOTH parents in the rooms for more than twenty years. And rather than push the rooms or preach the goodness of its people, the parents waited, listened, and then, when the time was right, then say, quite clearly and out of character, that “Maybe it is time for a meeting.”
Both the gentleman last week, and our young lady tonight, came in by a suggestion from a parent. And it worked. Both are sober today.
The theme of tonight’s share was:
SITTING ON THE FENCE IS NOT A COMFORTABLE PLACE TO BE …
Some, who come in so young, are not quite sure they fit in, at first glance. They come, sit in a few meetings, then leave, because they are either:
- A. Thinking they are too young to get sober
- B. What will my Old friends think
- C. I can’t get sober when my friends drink and drug
- D. It just isn’t the right time for me
- E. I’m too young to be an alcoholic. I still have good years to drink more…
- F. I’ll do it when I’m Thirty …
So they go back out for further experimentation, until they hey rock bottom, and usually, once you come in and see, your drinking is screwed up for the rest of ones life.
So the BIG push to the bitter end is usually a tragic crash and burn.
Do I or Don’t I ? What will life look like ? What will my friends think ? How will I survive without drugs and alcohol, in my twenties …?
Hearing our young lady share, she spoke the “Litany of the Young People.”
How many young people do we know “out there” who could use what we have “In here?”
And how many make it IN and how many do NOT ?
I have to applaud our young people, every day. Because they have courage, that I did not have. But like them, at one point, I was told, that I WAS going to get sober, NOW.
We hear common themes among our young women. That of:
- Self Loathing
- Negative Self Talk (Read: Saying things to ourselves things we would never say to another Human Being)
- I’m not like all of you
- It’s really Not That Bad !!!
- Lonely and Heartbroken
- and finally … Desperation and Hopelessness
We hear this from the men, to a degree, but for the women who come in, (Read: At any Age) these feelings are only magnified times TEN.
The men just don’t connect like they should, because guys just don’t do that kind of thing.
But between the women, the pain runs deep, and they ponder that maybe there won’t be another woman in the room who can identify.
Sadly or more positively, ALL of our women share common threads. And it isn’t until they really connect, that they see that they are No Longer Alone.
I’m very happy that our young men and women, who are IN today, have stuck and stayed. They did what was suggested. They come, the all have Home Groups. Some, who have been a little while, are giving it back in working with others.
Then there are those whom are beginning to connect in ways they had not, in the beginning, and they have stepped it up a notch.
It was a good night.
April and May are the Big Roundup and Pioneers Roundup weekends. Every year, we all wait for the programs of sober events that fall during this period. Spring has begun, however, Mother Nature is going to toss negative temps at us all weekend. UGH!
Spring is a good time to get sober, because if you participate, often, You Too can turn up the heat and really raise your game better than it ever has been.
One of our Women celebrated her first year sober. There was Cheesecake !!
A good time was had by all.