After a day of insanity and politics, we return to our regularly scheduled programming.
I’ve said what I am going to say.
It is an odd thing that happens, not very often, but tonight, we had one of the deepest meetings, we have sat, in a very long time. So many people are suffering. From a great many things, not necessarily drugs, or alcohol, or sex.
And it was mentioned after the fact, from friends, that when we compare notes, some of us are seeing and hearing the same things from many places. It is terribly unnerving to me after so many years, that so many of my friends are hurting, and there is nothing I can do for them, until they ask.
It is a very good thing that there is a handful of us on Friday night, who are tight. My Greatest friends, those who have been around the block and then some, those friends who at times were at odds with each other, have found that we want friendship more than anything else.
When the chips were handed out at the start of the meeting, two men got up. One, sitting behind me reeked of alcohol, and was sobbing in his beer all night. He said …
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. And he SOOOO wanted to stay in Vegas, but he decided to come into the hall tonight and take a chip.”
He disappeared after the meeting, after one of our women said no to him when he asked her if he could drive her home.We got her a taxi instead. But the man slipped out before we could stop him driving home, being intoxicated as he was.
A second man, who was terribly plastered hung back, had driven to the meeting intoxicated to begin with, instead of allowing him to drive home, at the end of the meeting a group of us, (we never travel 12 step alone) decided to sober him up a bit over coffee at a coffee-house not far from the meeting.
We drove him home. Because he was in no shape to drive.
My friends are suffering. And as we listen to each other, when we talk, there is so much more shit going on than we can address in any meeting. It was spoken tonight that the holidays were not kind to our men and women. And now we are reaping what has been sown for months and months.
People are beginning to crack around the seams.
I’ve been saying this for weeks and weeks … Months really, I’m not sure what I am doing right, or what my fellows are doing wrong, but I am in a totally different place, than many of my friends who have comparable time in the rooms.
And it’s not a point of judgment, just plain skills of observation and listening.
GHOSTS IN THE ROOMS
At this point in my journey, after listening to people talk for the last few months, I have seriously worked my ass off for the whole of my sobriety. What I am hearing and what I am seeing is that there are too many GHOSTS in the room.
I can share with you this poignant story …
There are some of us, who are still alive, twenty-five or more years after the AIDS crisis. In many big cities, Ft. Lauderdale, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc … Thousands of people died, ugly, serious, and terrible deaths.
Handfuls of men survived. We are a new breed of men. About five to ten years ago, we crossed a new life line. Those of us who had survived the carnage and are still alive.
Twenty plus years away from the epicenter of AIDS.
Some of those men, who had seen the worst, and lived, did not integrate back into society, they became GHOSTS. Many of them did not find their way back, after all the suffering we witnessed. And in many places, we know who they are. We can see them, but you might not necessarily be able to distinguish them, but we can. They walk around alone, lost.
Today, in the rooms … There are GHOSTS among us. People who have some serious issues that have never been dealt with. Yet they are in various lengths of sobriety. They might have the time, but, like I have said before, many times, many of my friends are cracked emotionally. I’ve been hearing these ghost stories for months.
I don’t know what to do any more. I know so many people, because I hit the same routine meetings week in and week out. I see them and have watched them for a long time. And you cannot connect with everyone. Not everybody wants to know you past the chair you are sitting in on any given night. There are only so many people who want to invest.
But I am told, by a good friend, that there are certain men with some time from the Friday night meeting, that when we talk, people listen. They might not say anything to us, but when I talk, I am honest. I tell the truth. I only talk about what I know, and what I have observed and heard, and how all that information relates to me soberly.
I want something more. I have worked the rooms for everything they can give me. I’ve pounded the pavement for the whole of my sobriety. And now, at this point, I know, for certain, just what a good chunk of friends have been doing. Because I listen to them talk.
I am told, by my friends that I’ve walked a certain path, that has brought me to this point, that my journey is unique. From the very beginning, I made a decision, that I would listen and observe my friends. And from that, my sobriety would be built by what my friends were either doing well, or not doing well. I think I’ve made wise choices, because I see where my decisions paid off, in the ways my friends are cracked today.
I made sure that I was never alone. That I wasn’t making decisions on my own, and that I had people, across the board to talk to about various things, along the way.
Not everybody took that same route. And now I know that for sure. I’ve got enough time and the skills to hear it for myself, just how cracked many people are, and just how hard they are suffering. And for many of them, I can do nothing but listen, and where possible say something that isn’t stupid and pithy.
The rate of return for those folks who went out over the holidays are low. And we are working very hard to keep those men and women “In the Loop.” But some of my friends are still walking around shell-shocked. One of my friends in particular, is just a mess, but he is hanging on by a thread. I say very little, beyond Hi and Nice to see you again.
I don’t know what is worse … Being sober, where I am right now, or not being able to do a God Damned thing for the many who need it. I don’t have the ability to help everybody and not everybody wants help.
Some just want to be left alone. And we have to respect that.
When people need us, they will say so. We just need to keep showing up.
And we need to be honest and willing to go to extraordinary lengths to make sure, that when needed we step up and do what we need to do to safeguard the lives of those who come to our rooms.
As was the case tonight.