And That’s a Wrap 2017 Retrospective

19029726_10155372118702731_359503408334335110_n

This blog is very young. A few months old to be specific. One of the features of Word Press is the Year End Review they sometimes provide. I missed it last year, when on New Years Eve I sat here and waited for it, to no avail.

A Happiness Engineer said that they had invested those monies in system and feature upgrades so NO year-end review for 2016. I was shattered.

We do have stat pages within the blog that has the numbers, but I loved the way Word Press would present your blog, in the grand scheme of the Word Press World, with little bits of trivia and live numbers as the system recorded it.

Eighteen months ago, June 12th, 2016 to be exact, a gunman walked into Pulse Night Club in Orlando and shot and killed 50 young LGBT kids. Well, not really kids, but young adults, the same age I was, when I stood in that bar myself at age 21.

My life was shattered.

In the past twenty-six years, I’ve only had three cataclysmic events that elicited the kind of emotional response that this latest tragedy caused.

My sober world view was tilted heavily in the I HATE GOD way. I was so angry. That anger was not abated. It just kept running at full tilt.

An entire new sober experience opened up to me. Long Sober men and women turned their backs on me and ridiculed me, and asked me to leave meetings, because like I have said already, many sober people LIVE IN FEAR MODE.

In the Fall of 2016, I was on a Metro platform coming home from the doctor’s office and there were two young Mormon Elders standing near me. They approached, and said hello in French. I said hello, in English.

Elder Sorenson wiped his brow and said, “Oh Thank God you speak English.” Elder Christensen was with him. That began a relationship that has withstood the months of trials and tribulations, that took place as I was investigating becoming LDS.

That journey did not pan out. Elder Christensen went home to Idaho in November of 2016, and the other elders here in the city were shuffled all over Canada at the same time.

To This Day, Elder Christensen is part of my life. His youthful progressive heart and mind, kept him in my orbit. And today he is a faithful spiritual director for me. That is in addition to Elder Friesen of the Mennonite Church out in Wetawiskin Alberta. When the chips were down, God was front and center, in these two men of faith.

If they had not been in my life, I am not sure I would have survived this emotionally vulnerable rough period of my life. I was introduced to Brene Brown. Via Oprah and her work on Vulnerability, Guilt and Shame.

Brene Brown changed my life.

In July I turned fifty years old. Having spent the entire decade of my forties sober, life got very interesting during that past decade. My mind opened up and I realized that I just “knew things” intimately.

A while back a young lady at the hospital asked me what fifty felt like, and I really did not have an answer for her, because it was too early to tell. What I can say is this: I’ve lost a great number of people, I thought were friends, who, in the end were not.

No love lost there.

I’ve changed up my meetings. and I’ve reinvested with our young people. Many people whom I was emotionally invested in, in the past, I am not invested in any more. I just don’t have the mental energy to devote myself to people, who aren’t invested in return with me.

I know who my friends are today.

I have good people in my life. I have three best friends. Rafa, Elder Spencer and Elder Randall. They are good men. And have devoted themselves to making sure I am good.

We celebrated 13 years of marriage this year. And the holidays were simple and uncomplicated. My in-laws are aging, and not in a good way. Hubby went home for Christmas and was very saddened by what he witnessed. Heartbreaking for sure.

I’m not quite sure how long that ship is going to stay afloat in the future. With people growing old and infirmity a constant problem, we’ve tried to get my in-laws to sell the homestead and move somewhere a bit more accessible for them both, yet again and again they refuse. And if the ship goes down, the one left in the lifeboat is going to have a hard time of it for sure. Which would call us to go to Ottawa to finalize those issues.

My best friends mom flew to Canada from Brazil for Christmas and we all made sure she knew that her son was safe, protected and loved. That emigrating here was the right choice, even if success across the board has not arrived, we are all working towards that point in time, one day at a time.

We hosted Christmas dinner for my friend Juan and his fiancée when they returned from Toronto on Boxing day. We dined the following Wednesday. It was a grand affair. Being friends with “couples” is important in sobriety, because we learn from each other how to be married and what marriage looks like, before and after those words are spoken.

2017 was a good year for everybody, one way or another. It wasn’t stellar, and we all had hard times for sure. But we all survived those hard times because we were together, and united.

When the chips are down, friends come to the rescue and that is how things panned out.

We all might not be in the same place, at the same time, all the time, but when the opportunity to gather arises, we take every opportunity to get together if only for an hour or so, or for a meal.

Goodbye 2017. May you not return again.

Hello 2018. May you bring us prosperity, love, and a couple of weddings, Please !

There are two couple waiting in the wings for that day of matrimony.  We are working hard to make them happen. One has a date, and the other is not quite there yet.

Let us hope for our friends.

Last Friday Night in 2017

maxresdefault

It is very important that we have someplace to be, work to do, and people to serve.

We have been repeating this message in every meeting for the last few weeks. Hoping that the message sticks, and that our young people “get it.”

I walked the tunnel tonight, because it is a straight shot down to the Orange Line, instead of walking across the neighborhood to a connection Green Line train. i arrived at the church along with a friend of mine, and together we cranked it out.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, a “couple” walked in the door. I did not recognize them, so I greeted them the same. And I asked the man, if I knew him, and he looked me dead in the eye and said … “YEAH, I WAS YOUR FIRST SPONSOR!”

Holy Shit Bat Man.

I haven’t seen my elder friend in more than fifteen years, since he had moved out of the city, got married to a sober woman, AND they had two kids along the way.

You never know who is going to walk in that door on any given night.

They now live Off Island out in Laval.

It seemed that he had a message to deliver to the GSR of our group, which happens to be me. Since I don’t have a car, and it is a hassle to get off island without one, I skip the monthly GSR meetings for the Northern Area.

He wants to hook me up.

We sat a full house. The flu is going around but through sniffles and sneezes and snarfles and quaffles, our young people all showed up, with stories about how they survived their first Christmases sober.

And once again, I repeated my advice, as I did the other night.

Our folks are set up for New years Eve. Tickets were sold to the Young People’s Conference party Sunday night. People all know where they can go.

A good news item was this … Our young people who did not have family in town, or they did not travel back to see them, all found themselves at members houses for Holiday Dinners. The community stepped up and made sure our kids were not alone.

That pleases me very much.

It’s a good sign, that our young people know what to do, and where to go. They have been steadfast in showing up to every meeting. And the rest of us are on top of them.

Tonight we read about self-pity. Which evolved into beating ourselves up, which then led to talk about our elder SINKING situation.

Before the meeting I was talking to a friend after we set up about last night’s speaker, and we chatted about the elders who go into self-pity mode, then they begin the crank over One, Not feeling good about themselves, Two, Feeling useless, and Three, thinking that disappearing from the rooms is better than engaging people, that THEY think, think little about them.

This is dangerous territory.Which usually leads back to a DRINK.

We spoke about old friends now long gone. When my old sponsor and I were chatting, we figured out that many of those old timers who were around when I first got sober, and that man became my first sponsor, many of them are long dead. There aren’t many old timers from that period of our lives still around.

It so happened, during that first five-year period of my sobriety, we had several HIGH population meetings. We’re talking meetings that would bring in over a hundred people for a regular meeting. There were several meetings like that.

Back in the day, here in Montreal, a good number of founder meetings, brought in hundreds of people. HUNDREDS.

A good six years into my sobriety, you’d be lucky to bring in 40 or 50 members at any given meeting. 60 if you were lucky.

At the five-year mark, all those high population meetings closed, for one reason or another. And almost overnight, every single person who used to go to those meetings, disappeared. It was like a bad magic trick.

People either died, moved off island, or just stopped going to meetings.

The island of Montreal is a big place, and there are nineteen boroughs on the island. Neighborhoods, put simply.

If you drew an invisible line around each neighborhood, you’d have a solid border all the way around. Now, depending in which neighborhood you lived in, dictated which meetings you went to on any given night.

There are over 500 meeting in Montreal in any given week.

So, you live in a particular neighborhood, and you attend particular meetings, in the designated neighborhood you reside in. Most people will not cross that invisible demarcation like drawn around any particular neighborhood.

That little rule of thumb still applies.

Whether you live North or South, East or West. Downtown or Uptown, people will not usually travel outside their comfort zone, except if a friend of your is taking a cake somewhere specific. Then people cross the invisible lines.

This piece of information is something I’ve studied for the whole of my sobriety, in trying to figure out where all those people went, when high population meetings folded.

The age of high population meetings are long gone.

But you know, if you go to meetings in New York City, THEY have meeting attendance in the HIGH hundreds. Like multiple hundreds. Numbers only we can imagine in our minds eyes.

They pack them in, because you can usually find a meeting on any given corner, connected to one of the myriad of churches in New York City. And there are MANY.

We are happy with our current numbers. They are constant. And Strong. And people show up, in the heat AND the cold.

I think they know that we have their backs, that as long as we are there, putting the meetings together, giving them simple jobs to do, they will continue to show up.

The Twenty minutes before and the Twenty minutes after rule still applies.

Coffee, conversation, fellowship after the meeting are also regular occurrences.

Sobriety is Never boring. If you aren’t connected, then WHY NOT ?

If you connect and invest in others, you will not spend so much time in your head, being maudlin, and miserable, beating yourself up, and thinking less of yourself. Because if we are constantly connected to others, in our daily lives, we aren’t so bothered by what’s between our ears.

And not being so bothered with what going on between our ears is better than listening to the hamster crank that wheel at 60 mph.

Suit up and Show up.

It will save your life.

Thursday: Presence

18010374_1330811956955247_3098710804517333202_n

It is BRUTALLY COLD outside. ( -23c / -32 w.c. ) At this hour. It is so cold that skin that is open to the cold will freeze in moments, if you aren’t protected. The weather people have been warning us for days about this cold snap that will last at least for another week at best.

The City has opened the Metro Stations as warming centers for the homeless. Shelters are stacking more beds, and the city shelter bus transport system is working over time to make sure that people are not sleeping on the streets and in the parks.

But, let’s be honest too. There are those who will NOT accept shelter assistance. Even if it is minus 30 outside. There are those who prefer to sleep on the streets. And again, this year, people will die from cold and exposure. The story is the same across Canada, in many cities, especially in the Prairie Provinces.

A question that was posed to me a very long time ago was this … Not that I came from a four season city, but I live in one now. If you went out to score drugs or alcohol in the middle of a blizzard, or go out in the COLD to SCORE, then you are able to hit a meeting, no matter how cold it is.

I learned when I moved here, what it was going to take to make it out when it is brutally cold outside. Every year I polish my cold weather gear. Since I changed up my wardrobe months ago, My sporty training gear that I do wear, has to be warm.

I spent a pretty penny purchasing Professional Hockey Thermal Gear this year. I went to a local hockey outfitter and I bought the exact same warming system that professional hockey players wear on the ice. Tonight a friend of mine asked me if I was cold, and I told her no, I am pretty well insulated.

I saw an old, lady friend from the Tuesday meeting. She had not seen me in many months, and she was floored when she learned how hard I had been training these past few months, and the way the KETO diet works, and how much weight I have dropped in the last calendar year.

I notice, on a nightly basis, those young people who are suiting up and showing up. They all have been schooled in where to sit ( UP FRONT) and not in the back. They sit AT the table at the other meetings, we call that (Front Row Sobriety). Our young people struggling through their first sober holiday season, have been present.

And WE are present for THEM.

I spoke to a friend tonight about paying it forward. He agreed. If we can circulate young people into service positions now, and hope they maintain a connection to others, in that service, they will stay sober in the long run.

One of our elder men spoke tonight. There are a handful of old sober men, (read: 30 Plus years sober) who suit up and show up and are engaged. A common complaint within our elder men and women community, is that at some point, old timers or elders, think that they have had enough, that they have served enough, and they back off. Some show up, others DON’T. And a handful of them DRINK AGAIN.

Darkness and Cold are harbingers of bad news. If you don’t suit up and show up and remain connected and PRESENT, for yourself as well as for others, You Are SUNK.

I’m happy to report that our young people are actively involved in meeting fellowship and service. We have worked hard to get them to stay and connect, from the very first, NOW, and not wait until they have a bit more time under their belts.

The sooner we get them connected and serving their fellows, the better off they will be for the future. Our Monday crowd is on the beam, so to speak. They are showing up, even when it is brutally cold outside.

New Years is coming up, here in Montreal. And the biggest bash of the city, the FINAL 375th Anniversary Montreal Celebration, takes place on New Years Eve, in the Old Port. OUTSIDE !!!

I was secretary tonight and in  my announcements, I told the crowd that if they wanted to brave the cold like a good alcoholic to ring in the New Year, that was a choice they could make.

But I also gave the crowd a couple of other choices too. The Montreal Young Peoples conference is hosting a New Years Dance and Party, like they do every year. And they bring them in too. Everybody shows up for this yearly event, which is INSIDE.

The third choice is out on the South Shore, that’s a drive from here, across highways that are all torn up and useless due to construction and demolition. But the South Shore groups are hosting a New Years Dance, with food, fun and a live band.

People have choices. I am sure that in every city where people are sober, You Too can find someplace Sober to be for the New Year.

I spoke to a friend the other day about New York City and the Ball Drop. Some people get to Time Square in the afternoon, and they get PENNED IN, for HOURS. In the BRUTAL COLD, with no bathrooms, no drinks, no food. NADA. Just to see that damned ball drop in Time Square.

I watch that ball drop from the comfort of my warm and toasty living room.

Can you imagine that hell on earth, all to say that you at least experienced New York on New Years Eve, I’d rather eat dirt …

Remember that PRESENCE is the greatest gift you can give your family and friends this holiday season, just by suiting up and showing up, You Too can change a life for the better. Because you are there for them, like we were there for you, when you came in.

Now we teach that if this is your first sober holiday, that let this year be a template for you for years to come, when next Christmas you will know what to do and where to do it, so that you keep a room open for those kids who might need it, because this year, you needed it and we were there for you.

Paying it Forward.

If you practice the sober plan of living and you build it into your life, you will always have someplace to BE, something to DO and people to give TO. Year after Year, for the rest of your life.

Sobriety is NEVER boring.

I hope for all of you this New Year.

Christmas Dinner – Traditions

IMG_0014 (2)

Growing up, over the holidays, in our home, those holidays were filled with lots of people, lots of food, good conversations, and always ended in heaps of physical abuse.

When we arrived at the final iteration of home, in my 6th grade year, my parents were introduced to social circles that they had never experienced before, as of yet.

Meeting new people always invited others to ones dinner table, over the holidays. Those dinners became the stuff of legends. My mother perfected her cooking while competing for the top spot ranking of who threw the best soiree…

Hands down, my Step mother had this competition IN THE BAG.

We grew up in the company of several local families who hobnobbed together at festive times of the year. My step mom, Nancy (not my real step mom/but close enough), she and Fred had The House, The Wealth, and the Alcohol, to win the grand prize of best party hosts.

My father, as hateful as he was, and as judgmental he was, and as HOMOPHOBIC as he was, relented when it came to dinner parties, even if those dinner parties had invited guests of the HOMOSEXUAL stripe. Elton, Garcia and Bob, were the three gay men I grew up with.

My step mom knew I was gay, before I openly admitted to anyone that I was gay. So did my parents. It was like, they all knew, and nobody told me. However I had, all along, been doing my gay homework, reading the assorted “Material” my father left out, in their bathroom, for public consumption.

I can’t, for the life of me, believe, that my father did not know, I was reading his smut. I mean, you can’t be that stupid to think that if you leave something in the bathroom to read, that someone isn’t going to pick it up and PERUSE …

Yet, after every dinner party, where gay men were on the field, that I could carry on conversations with, that I never carried on with my own father, made him IRATE. And when we arrived home each night, he would beat the shit out of me, hoping to BEAT THE GAY, out of me.

My step mom had the huge house, with the appropriate dinner table that sat an army of men and women, all at the same time. When we were kids, the kids would find themselves at the kids table in the breakfast nook, off the kitchen. Separated from the adults, until we grew up and had “Come of Age” and were invited to dine WITH the adults.

I was telling my friends at dinner tonight, parts of this story, minus the gore.

Nancy taught us social skills, she raised all of the kids/Nee teenagers, into quite well-behaved and respectable young adults. Alcohol was always available to us. When we crossed the room, into the main dining room, with the adults, we had arrived.

The other day, Nancy’s oldest daughter said that she missed mom. Nancy died a couple of years ago, so holidays are a bit bleak for her daughters. Me as well. Because if it was not for Nancy, we would have never had the life experiences we did, growing up.

I told Dawn that yes, mom is gone, and we miss her terribly. But, the silver lining to missing someone is that Mom sure knew how to throw an A-List dinner party with panache and style.

Juan and Nadia are two very important friends. Juan and I have been friends since the day he walked into Sunday Nighter’s more than three years ago. He is still sober.

When Juan and Nadia got engaged, Hubby and I began to include them in special events, or dinner “Double dates.” Bringing friends into your social circle is an important part of growing into well-rounded sober adults.

So it went. Juan and Nadia had gone to Toronto for Christmas with his parents, to visit his brothers and sisters, down south of us. The weather was NOT stellar, so the drive down and back was fraught with danger.

I had decided this year to change-up my guest list. We put off Christmas dinner until this evening, so that Juan and Nadia could have Christmas Dinner at our place tonight.

This dinner was special. Because my in-laws had gifted us a ton of money in HSBC gift cards for The Bay. We really did not have the proper tools to entertain, because we only have the one set of dishes from our wedding registry.

And in Mom’s honor, I wanted to do this the right way.

I shopped new earthen ware dishes, in yellow, hubby shopped cutlery and glasses. I cooked a turkey dinner to feed a small army. We spent all day yesterday cleaning and scrubbing the apartment to standards that aren’t usually seen.

With the stage set for success, today, we did the shopping that needed to be completed for dinner, and this afternoon we cooked.

Dinner was a grand affair. We learned a little bit more about each other. And as a married couple, our jobs, as friends, is to paint a picture of what married life is going to look like, in a general way. Socializing outside of a meeting can be fruitful and is also important. I don’t invite many people to my table.

Out of respect for my elders, my GAY elders, in the rooms, I always invited a particular friend over for holidays. But after my gay friends turned their backs on me over the last year, my jaded and bruised heart was resolute. No more charity for people who aren’t charitable towards me.

Our little spartan kitchen is not huge. And space comes at a premium. And making a grand holiday dinner work, takes a bit of work. I have a system that I have polished over the past sixteen years of holiday dinners. It all worked.

A good time was had by all.

I think I did Mom proud tonight and I know she was smiling down at me.

Sober at Christmas, Suffering is Optional

23167748_10155808087217731_3813351174623982239_n

Fifteen years ago, the home we live in, to this day, was very different. Hubby and I had met just a few short weeks shy of Christmas, 2002. The apartment was dirty white. There were over 300 beer bottles to return on the lanai. The tv, was a small black and white set, that had foil rabbit ears and hardly worked. We had no stereo system. We had no furniture, and we had no money either.

That Christmas hubby was going home to see his parents, I was living in Verdun, on the backside of the Island, in a basement apartment that I hated. Hubby handed me a set of keys and invited me to stay here.

I NEVER LEFT !!!

Our first Christmas together was a sad affair. Like I said above, we had no money. We didn’t even have a Christmas tree. And no presents to speak of. We had each other. That fateful pass through a door at St. Leon’s was fate, tempting us.

Fast Forward, fifteen years to 2017 … The tree we have, is the first tree we bought together at Christmas Number Two. 2003. The ornaments have changed, over the years, and the apartment surely has changed as well.

We Painted, Cleaned, Scrubbed, Bleached and Sterilized the apartment. We have new furniture that we finally could afford after many, many years. We have a flat screen HD tv, with a stereo surround sound system my in-laws bought us, a number of years ago.

We keep things simple. Because God likes simple. That is the way He fed us. SIMPLY.

If a holiday falls on a meeting night, where ever that meeting might be located, if it is possible, that particular room is open. And usually, I have keys to that particular basement hall, anyways. We have always hosted friends for dinner over the years. This year, I changed up my game, and dis-invited the Queers. And Invited my friend Juan and his fiancée for Christmas dinner on Wednesday evening.

We are doing the “Couples” thing together.

Tonight we hosted Monday Central at Notre Dame de la Salette, up on Parc Avenue. If the room is open, people will come. Thirty odd folks came for the meeting. Several of them were suffering through their first Christmas sober.

Christmas Sober is a gift … Suffering is Optional.

Many of my friends don’t listen to a single word I say to them.

I can tell you that a handful of my friends, (well fellows) who have my number don’t use it, yet they show up where ever I show up. And many of them are addled. And many of them are not yet ready to admit that their suffering is getting on their nerves. And I quietly sit in a meeting, and I listen to them talk about suffering and IF ONLY, they would just get it over with and ask for help …

Nobody wants to ask for help. And I am sure as shit not going to volunteer to help them. I gave out my number and said one thing … Call Me … My phone still does not ring.

FUCK ME

A number of our young people are away. So whomever was still here, was at the meeting tonight. Several of them were suffering through their First Christmas Sober.

All I could say was … It Does Get BETTER … Stick around.

Make it easy, show up and do service. THAT will definitely keep you sober.

Putting the needs of another before your own, will show you sobriety from a totally different angle. We heard this bit of advice tonight from one of our young women.

Our young people suffer needlessly. Many of them have been around a while, testing the proverbial sober water to see if it is pure. A handful of them tonight, admitted to the rest of us, that when they finally admitted they had a problem, and gave the fellowship a fair shake, and they committed to doing to work as they were told to do by the rest of us, that life definitely GOT BETTER.

People who HATED Christmas, who have kids, who gave in and put up their trees FOR their KIDS, because Christmas is about the KIDS and not necessarily about US, and are in their Second sober Christmas, having kicked and screamed through their first one, see the wisdom of relenting and putting the needs of their kids before their own.

Christmas does not SUCK sober.

We are a family of people who really care about each other, care enough to open a room and make coffee, (tonight we brought it in from Timmies). People are just floored that someone they barely know, but see at meetings, care enough to give their very best on Christmas Night, just because … of them …

We share a common bond as people who would NOT normally mix.

Alcoholism is an equal opportunity taker and does not discriminate.

The fact is this, there is a room, full of people like you, working the same program of simple work, however complicated you make it.

Just Show Up …

A Perfect Montreal Christmas

tumblr_me70e8djqB1qas1mto7_500

The weather people define a Perfect Christmas, as 2cm of snow on the ground, and snow falling from the sky, together. Last night, there was more than 2cm of snow on the ground when it began to snow again. Snow fell all night and into dawn, this morning.

There is a good amount of snow on the ground, as the snowfall wrapped up around 8am this morning. I had been up since about 6am because I had enough sleep, so I got up and watched some videos and made some breakfast, while hubby slept further.

All of my friends are in other places for the holiday. With all the travel delays and weather problems over the past few days, everybody made it to their destinations without a hassle.

Neither hubby nor myself had a very big Christmas list. We agreed that we really did not need anything expensive or huge numbers of presents. We kept it simple. I had shopped for hubby and he was pleased with the clothes I got him, some dress shirts for work and a new pair of cozies.

All I wanted was a 2 TB external hard drive for my computer, which is what he got me, along with a few odds and ends for the house. We are hosting a Christmas dinner party on Wednesday. So a few little bits and pieces did the job.

My in-laws spent a pretty penny on HSBC gift cards, in lieu of cash we usually get. However, I think that they went overboard with gift cards, when we really could have used some cash on the ground until hubby gets paid in two days, because money is tight.

Hubby is cooking a late lunch, and I am hosting a meeting at Monday Central at 8pm tonight. The church allowed us to keep the room open over the holidays. On Holiday Open Meetings are important. Because at some point, we need to get out of the house, so a meeting is very useful to the many.

The Holiday was a success.

More to come.

 

The Thursday Before Christmas

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebook

The mass exodus of people going home for the holidays is in full swing. Our numbers have dropped by more than half, over the week. Tonight, we sat half the room. The final list is out of who will be open and who will be closed on Christmas.

This year, Christmas is on a Monday, and we will host a meeting on Christmas Night, at Notre Dame de la Salette, for Monday Central. Monday Central is the Oldest Meeting in the city, by years. It was opened by the founders of Montreal sobriety, all those years ago.

Many of my friends will be away for the holiday, so I am cooking Christmas dinner on Wednesday, next week, when folks return home. Christmas is a very quiet affair, here at home. It isn’t about money and tons of gifts.

We will keep it simple again this year. Hubby was not pleased with that assessment, but it is what it is. It’s not like we both NEED anything particular, as in THINGS.

A few of my friends are still in the thick of exams through tomorrow. I’ve been working with many of them, to keep them, above water, working to keep them from going under and ending up “in the weeds” so to speak.

Over the last week, I’ve been talking to my friends and fellows, and many of them are freaking out over what they hear coming out of my mouth. When I took my cake last week, I had said that sobriety is work. It takes work, and if you aren’t doing WORK, then why are you sitting in the room ?

I believe that if you aren’t studying your friends and those folks who have time and even those who don’t have a lot of time, then why bother getting sober ! If you are just going to a meeting and occupying a chair, because we’ve told you to do meetings, and when you leave that hall, you forget what you have just heard, then why go to meetings, if you aren’t taking anything away from the experience.

My friends freak out when they hear me say that I own this space and that when I get home from a meeting, I do home work. I write everything down and I study my friends like lab rats. I know my friends intimately. More intimately than they probably know themselves.

This little fact tends to freak people out on a grand scale, because I’ve breached their anonymity, by writing down my thoughts about them. If I told you their names, and shared specific personal information about them, THEN, I would be breaking anonymity, as far as I am concerned, I can carry any message from a room, as long as I keep the human I am talking about anonymous.

If I have a conversation with you, my life is my business. If I give you advice, and you shake your head at me or tell me to fuck off, it is open season.

I get sober, and stay sober, by watching everything that my friends and fellows do. If you succeed, I succeed. If you fail, I learn from that failure, and I do not repeat your failure behavior. I collect every piece of wisdom I hear. I write it all down, and post it here.

If I am not sharing the messages I am hearing from you, out there, then why am I getting sober, in the first place ? Tonight, my thirty year sober friend said to me, on the way home, when I told her how I get sober said … Why are you taking folks inventories ?

I don’t … I just collect words and I parse them and I use them to my advantage.

The only two things people are concerned with are One, their anonymity and Two, doing actual work to get sober. They don’t want to be talked about and they also don’t want to work for their supper …

I’ve seen, over the past few months, how specific people have stopped coming to specific meetings, for one reason or another. Their absence is noticeable. I know they aren’t showing up.

People do not like the fact that they are subjects of sober scrutiny. I’m finished with people and places that don’t do me any favors. People have proven to me that they cannot be accountable, nor reliable.

They do not bother to step up and be counted as sober folks and help people who are in the weeds and in pain. They’d rather just walk by and say nothing, and not offer a single word of support or love.

ANGER

Anger has arisen in the rooms as of late. And it isn’t just with me either. The waves of ANGER have risen among men and women alike. Since my meltdown, we all learned that many alcoholics, men and women alike, LIVE in FEAR.

You don’t know, if you don’t ask or witness this but, many people have extenuating circumstances to their lives. Many people have deep seeded problems that lie, in the darkness of our minds, never to see the light of day.

When I hit the skids and had my emotional breakdown, and my emotional control went wacky, people were clearly freaked out. People are afraid of me, afraid of the anger I was displaying. I wasn’t acting out or hurting anyone, but I was sharing in open community, what was going on inside my head, in real-time.

People fear what they ONE, either don’t know, or TWO, what they fear themselves. I am not the only human in the rooms here, who has been through the emotional wringer over the past year.

I had a conversation with an old friend, a lady friend, who is long sober, who has also walked through the anger wing of sobriety herself. And she took a sober hostage along the way, and he was so scared of her, that he dumped her clean and clear.

Alcoholics do not do anger … Because they live in FEAR.

The rooms, might not be the best place to figure out your emotional business in open community, but I did not have a professional therapist in my back pocket, and for the life of me, NOT ONE ALCOHOLIC said the words, “I know how you feel, this is what I did !” Not One of my fellows even offered to help me out or point me in the direction of help, at any point of my insufferable journey of self discovery.

I walked it ALONE.

The only saving grace was that I knew what to do. I kept showing up, and I did service. Because I knew if I did those TWO things, I would stay sober.

And FUCK what everyone else had to say about my suffering.

They were too busy judging me and tutting behind my back to each other, because not one of them offered any kind of sober help or even simple love.

People might be sober, and now I know that many of my friends suffer in silence, their own demons. I know this because they all ran in the other direction when I was in the thick of my anger and pain. They saw in me, something of themselves. Their own anger and pain because of abuse or something from their past.

Folks don’t want to look at themselves. But when you are freaking out, in front of them, and they see fear, anger, pain and suffering, all my friends walked away.

I know what my experience has been. And how people treated me.

And to this day, One person has come to me and made amends, because now SHE can empathize with me, my anger and pain, because she walked through her own, over the past year, and she needed to know what I did when she walked away.

I told her the truth.

People don’t like the truth.

And they surely don’t like my scrutiny about their behavior.

It is what it is …

If we do not learn in sobriety, then why bother getting sober in the first place, if you are just sitting in a room, taking up space, while you bury what is within you, never to see the light of day, until one of us goes off the deep end ourselves and suffers seriously.

Alcoholics, many of us, are not well, across the board, and over the past year, we have seen these things take place. And we watched them react in fear.

Because FEAR is the default …

That is scary …