Friday – Updates and Thoughts

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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…”

Discussion followed.

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…

 

 

 

Friday – 15 Years Introspection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which leads to the LDS.

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

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

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

Hence where I am right now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s like tossing a loonie in the basket …

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

More to come later tonight.

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