Thursday – If I sit down …

tumblr_lxerkgWVPI1r556eno1_500 followeed

Courtesy:Followeed

It is December and it has been one hell of a week so far. There is much to say, and there has been plenty of opportunity to speak words, or better yet, write them down. Tonight is that night.

Tuesday was December 1st, World AIDS Day. The yearly date when we honor all those who have died, and for those of us who survived that period of tragic times, we remember.

A particular story came to mind on Tuesday, that I thought about writing down “Again” but decided against it. Suffice to say that those of us who were diagnosed with AIDS or today, HIV, we go from Hero to Zero in no time flat.

Back in the day, AIDS was a death sentence. Today they call it a “manageable condition!” Every new diagnosis under ANY circumstances is very sad.

You would think, in today’s gay community, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, that an ounce of prevention would go a long way, yet there are those who continually decide to play Russian Roulette with their lives. Or are caught up in behavior that is detrimental.

One cannot claim ignorance about disease today.

There are still millions of reasons why we can’t stop marking this day, until a cure is found, that would be available to every single human being, to eradicate this scourge.

**** **** ****

Once again, now in the U.S., two deranged killers walked into a service center, and killed 14 people in cold blood, and injured many others.

This is just terrible. And there are not enough words to say that is going to make a hill of beans difference, to those who could do something, but they don’t. There aren’t enough prayers to be said, or vigils to attend that are going to change anything.

Sometimes it is well and good to just not say anything, because someone already has said what we are all thinking, and we are powerless to do a god damned thing.

**** **** ****

Sometime last weekend, I did something to my back. I am not sure what it was, or when it happened, but I have never felt the degree of pain I am feeling today, in all my life. My back is killing me, and I have resorted to taking pain killers just to be ambulatory.

Addicts and painkillers are not a good mix.

At least here, I can phone up my pharmacy and get over the counter medication. In many Canadian pharmacies, they keep assorted drugs behind the counter, so if you know this, that opens up treatment. I don’t need a script nor do I need to see my doctor, but I will see him on the tenth, if I survive that long …

This afternoon baby mama came over to use my computer and as we sat together, she remarked that etched on my face was the look of pain. I can sit down, but there is no guarantee that I will be able to get back up. During our visit, I had several Holy Shit, moments, where I thought I was going to pass out.

I have only so many pills left, before I need a doctors note, and it is the weekend, so no doctor till next week now. And I sure as shit ain’t going to no E.R. because I will sit there for hours and hours, um NO!

It has been rainy / cold the past few days. Rain, that falls in conjunction with below zero temps, means ice on sidewalks.

I half thought to stay home tonight, but decided to go to St. Matthias and hit a meeting. I left earlier than usual, because walking, reaching, bending and stooping is quite the task, which requires some serious deep breathing and equilibrium.

I got to the church and visited with friends before the meeting, and as a friend sat next to me, I had a Holy Shit moment, and I told her that if I sit down, for any amount of time, that I may not be able to get back up.

I waited until the seventh tradition was started and tried to get up, gritting my teeth, because I had to pee … That was a tedious moment for sure. I did get up, but it wasn’t pleasant.

It was a good meeting, nonetheless.

I was talking to my sponsor and a few friends on Tuesday night, and I was explaining that I was riding that “roller coaster of insanity” and what was going on in my head and they responded with, “yup, you are one of us …”

We pushed my cake back until the 20th, because next Sunday is early, and my anniversary falls on Wednesday the 9th. And superstition dictates that you never take a medallion early.

The 13th, is my sponsors Home Group Anniversary on the West End at Loyola. So He will be there, while I do service at my Sunday Home Group. Which leaves the 20th as the first Sunday we can both be in the same place at the same time.

What is good about living in Canada, is this … When shit goes down anywhere else, the media goes crazy. And for the most part, for what it is worth, Most shit going down elsewhere, has nothing to do with us, and when necessary, which is often, I can either turn the channel, shut down my computer, or turn the tv off …

There is so much tragedy. I can only take so much saturation about death and destruction, not to mention, Republican Presidential hopefuls.

I have little patience for crock of shit politics.

Thank God for cable t.v.

More to come, stay tuned …

Human connection and love is what we need to be addicted to

indexLifted from: McGuire on Life, Disability and Grief

A while back, I was introduced to Tim McGuire’s blog by someone I respect and admire. He is one of the most insightful men I read on a daily basis. Go, Read Back, Identify.

I read an immensely powerful and provocative story this weekend that has me thinking about our journey.

The story attempts to debunk the long-held belief that the drug causes addiction. It has always been a bit of a no-brainer that heroin, cocaine and alcohol cause us to become addicted. I have always subscribed to the theory that some people have the “gene” and some don’t. This story takes a totally different approach and argues that human isolation is the real issue. The argument seems logical and the research seems convincing. The author, Johann Hari, who has written the book,  Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs writes, “Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find –the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.” The writer draws this conclusion: “So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

That strikes me as nothing short of profound and sets down an extraordinary challenge for all of us. If addiction comes from loneliness and isolation then certainly the addicted person owns some of that. As a friend of mine says, “It’s an inside job.”

Yet, I am taken by our fundamental obligation to love people fiercely and with joy. I have become preoccupied lately with that overpowering sense that I need to love people openly and with abandon.

It is only in the last couple of years that I have become willing to tell male friends that I love them. And, I notice that the expression of affection is more often greeted with enthusiasm and a return of the emotion these days.

As the “me” culture seems to become more rampant, selfishness tends to overwhelm us. It strikes me as logical that selfishness leads to isolation for others in or around our lives. If we are all focused on ourselves that leaves little time and space for embracing the lonely and isolated.

I find brief but important connections can be made with a joke and friendliness in the coffee shop, the grocery story and even on walks around campus. It is naive to think that each connection we make can save someone from addiction. However, a habit of friendly connection strengthens the human bonds between people and just might make other addictive “bonds” superfluous.

Tim J McGuire is the author of “Some People Even Take Them Home” A Disabled Dad, A Down Syndrome Son and Our Journey To Acceptance

Thursday … It’s Better to be on the Inside

tumblr_lw1xczBKEE1qfbc2to1_500 weheartitWe are sitting at a balmy (-1c/-7c w.c.). Today was grey and dreary. We did not even see the sun once today. And as I was leaving, snow fell over the city. It started slowly, but as we got to the church, it was really coming down. Just enough snow fell to pile up but not enough for a plow, however plows were out salting and carelessly and with no real effort, plowing the rut of the plow as it went by.

It was a careless day, I really did not have much to do, I sat and doodled around here for a few hours, then called it a day at 3:30 for an afternoon nap. I was up and ready to go by the time I had to go, and like I said, it was snowing when we left for the bus. Had I looked outside before I went downstairs, I would have chosen my rubber boots instead of my sneakers.

Cause they got WET !

It was a good evening. One of my friends spoke. I’ve known her since she came in, a few years ago. We travel in the same circles, and hit the same meetings during the week. There are several groups of young people who travel in packs all over the city.

The Girls, The Guys and The Gays.

Getting sober with your friends is the way to do it. Because when we were out there, many of us did not have many friends, and the ones we did have we eventually alienated them and ignored them into obscurity.

That’s a common theme amongst our young people.

It is also a really good thing that our young people embrace the thought that:

IT IS BETTER TO BE ON THE INSIDE … than on the outside.

That being on the inside, gives us the feeling of being part of, the direct opposite of how we felt when we were out there, being all alone in our misery.

All of our young people are in the rooms, and they are actively working and doing service.

Another common theme amongst our young people, is just that, they are young.

In the beginning when they first came around, they saw us old folks getting sober, and that little voice spoke to them saying “Aww you’re young, you still have a few years of good drinking and using to go, why get sober now, you can always come back when you are thirty or forty, and turn your lives around!”

So they may have stayed a bit, but eventually went back out only to prove to themselves that NO, they did not have any more youth to waste on misery and addiction.

Even then, the road was tough. The world is not kind to our young people. This is the third revelation for them, and in the beginning they found it a daunting process to stay sober, being so young and not having lots of them together (As they are NOW) It seemed to me, they came in, in stages and not all at once. So each of them needed to find their ways.

They did not initially get connected (As they are NOW).

That took some work, honesty, humility and self determination.

I can safely say that all of our young people are connected to home groups of their choosing, they are in their steps, and they are present all the time.

They are PRESENT in their recoveries.

Having them at the meeting tonight, gave us old timers the opportunity to speak to them and check in and chat for a bit. Our young people are truly kind people. We cheer for them and we hope for them, and in getting sober with them, we get to see them grow up into honest, humble young adults.

Growing up in the real world is a challenge for any human being, and many young people don’t make it. They come from other places, to Montreal, where it is Bright Lights and Big City, booze, liquor, beer and drugs are aplenty.

Many of them got caught in that web of misery, until they found their way to us.

Montreal is not New York, size wise. But you can surely find your way into depravity and darkness, because it is everywhere. Where there is a bar, there is darkness, for those who get caught up in addictive behavior.

Who didn’t Cheat, Lie and Steal, when they were out there?
Who didn’t ignore that little voice that said, “I don’t think you should do this!” and ignore it?”
And Who didn’t push the envelope when it came to MORE, and not More in a good way?

It seems to me that our young people suffered their own torment, and went to places they really should not have, but addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Their journey to hell. might have been shorter than ours, (We who came in much later in life, and went to the bitter end ourselves).

So they all now know, that had they stayed the course, they might not have survived, pounding the drugs and alcohol they way they did, because they were young and invincible…

We not only get to get sober with these young people, we get to participate in, hopefully a good way, in showing them how to grow up into sober adults. That this isn’t the end of the road for them socially, emotionally and mentally.

It takes a village to raise a child in the real world. It is no different in the rooms.

By being present to them, by listening to them, and by sharing with them, they listen to us and they either take it or leave it, but they are always respectful. Everybody in the rooms plays a part in raising our little village of young people.

There is no greater challenge for us than sponsoring a young person.

I mentioned at the top that many did not connect right away. Now, after several round ups and hearing how others, in other places got, and get sober, many of our young people are hooked into THE WORK. They are hooked up with sponsors who are taking them through The Work.

Hence … It is better to be on the inside, rather than the outside.

Hearing our young people talk about the rewards of sobriety so young fills my heart with joy.

Because that tells me that they’ve got it.

We just have to keep the fields fertile for them to flourish.

And that takes PRESENCE. Everybody’s presence.

Presence is the greatest gift you can give another human being.

All my guys, and all the girls, and all the gays are sober another night.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …

The Great Return

football-mario-gotze-fc-bayern-munich-munchen_3183483jersey cropA Very Mario Christmas Continues …

Guess what came in the mail today …

The excitement of the holidays has begun.

We welcomed friends who arrived from out of town, just in time for the Friday Night Meeting. People will be coming and going over the next two weeks, and our social schedule’s for those weeks have been already planned to maximize all the time we have together, before people go back to their respective schools across Canada and the United States.

In other news … Unlike the downtown core, where there is little snow piled up, basically because it has already been plowed away, up on the plateau where the Friday Night Meeting resides, there is snow piled up ALL over the place. Cars are buried, sidewalks are passable because the city workers plowed away enough snow to make them passable.

I suited up, with many layers, incorporating my new jersey, front and center, bundled up and headed out. There are 2 stations on the same line that are equidistant from home, one up towards the college, Eastbound, and the other down to the mall, three blocks Westward. I needed tickets in any case, and I can get them at the pharmacy, which is in the mall, above the train station.

So that was  my plan.

There were lots of people coming and going. People are certainly taking part in the holiday shopping binge. The mall stations were packed with merry holiday goers. So I made my transit, and I was amazed to see that my phone actually works on the train across both the Green and Orange lines.

They have been upgrading the cell reception and service across the core stations and it seems they tweaked the outbound stations on the Orange line, that I take to get to the meeting. For the second time recently, I got a live text while in the tunnel, with the train in motion. YAY Telus !!!

We sat a good group. A friend that I haven’t seen in some time, came, and actually, I had been thinking about him specifically, over the past few days, and I like to believe that when we think of people. we send a ripple out to the universe, and within hours, or sometimes, days, they show up.

The universe is funny in that way.

These are hard times indeed. Our folks have been coming from other places, and new folks that don’t usually come, have shown up and visitors from out of town are in for the holidays. We are happy to oblige. We talked about A.B.S.I. and “We cannot live alone.”

This particular reading speaks about steps four and five respectively.

“… We cannot wholly rely on friends to solve all our difficulties. A good adviser will never do all our thinking for us. He/She knows that each final choice must be ours. He/She will therefore help to eliminate fear, expediency, and self deception, so enabling us to make choices which are loving, wise and honest.” Grapevine August, 1961.

I remarked to a friend that there is always something to take away from every meeting. It might be a word, an exercise, or just an identification.

In the beginning, folks are very leery about step work. Especially when they consider the “what we think” daunting process of writing our step four. Then speaking it through Step five. Tonight, there was not one horror story. Many of us have done them, and found that they were truly enlightening, freeing and liberating. Everyone had a unique story to share on the topic.

THEN …

We heard about a writing exercise, that is said to be the most powerful writing exercise that is used at the famed Betty Ford Clinic.

  • Pen to paper – Write out the Third Step prayer
  • Pen to paper – Write out three lists: Resentments, Fears and Gratitude list
  • Pen to paper – Write out the Seventh Step prayer

We do this on a daily basis, first the prayers, then our lists for that respective day. You must put at least three things on the Gratitude list every day. And as we do this writing exercise, we watch how items move between the lists and eventually land on the gratitude list.

If you can commit to this writing exercise, it will prove to be a most useful tool.

Every little bit of experience pays off from time to time. Our young people can never get enough of stuff to do to keep them “on the beam.” And those of us who have some time and experience, adding a little something here or there tends to be very useful in our daily ritual of prayer and writing.

I am very keen on having the guys I work with follow simple suggestions.

Like I mentioned yesterday, eventually, for better or for worse, your sponsor should help you along with tools that will make your life easier, which is to say, a good sponsor knows what they are doing, and I work very hard to be that person. And If I suggest something to my guys, again, for better or for worse, following a suggestion usually ends up in the positive column often.

If I’ve done it, or heard that it can be done this way, or know someone who had results doing something specific, I do it myself, then I suggest that idea out, and I watch the results.

It all comes down to The Work …

You are either In It or you are IN IT TO WIN IT …

Which leads back to How it works, chapter five … 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.

Little did I know, how that sentence changes in literal meaning, the further IN IT you get.

I mean, this seminal reading we hear ad infinitum at every meeting, read over and over, day after day, night after night, these words now leap off the page when I hear them read. Because now I know what it feels like to go to ANY length.

Imagine it only took me eleven years to understand this.

It took another member who was IN IT to tell me that I need to be IN IT and how to do that.

What a rush …

I love my life. My friends. My fellows.

It was a love fest tonight, that will continue until January 5th.

I’ve heard about gratitude living, and there I usually roll my eyes …

But I truly know what that feels like and means for me.

We need people in our lives, but in the end, the final choices should be ours alone, given with good guidance from people we trust. Not having to pollute ourselves helps a great deal in learning how to make right and good decisions, soberly …

More to come, stay tuned …

Live Life With Enthusiasm

tumblr_l8yrf9m0gc1qb730lo1_500 thiswillnotdefineusCourtesy: This Will Not Define Us (Archives)

… And it snowed. it snowed so much, there is snow all over the place. Yes, it snowed, but it is not piled up like I have seen it in the past, where everything seems to be buried in snow. The one shit problem that comes with snow is the dreaded “Slush Puddle.”

That is the convergence point on every corner of every intersection. where snow has melted and now there are deep puddles of slush/water that one must trod through, jump across, or find another way around them.

Thankfully I have a sturdy dry pair of winter boots that make this possible.

It began to snow on Tuesday and it snowed until last night, when skies finally cleared. Light snow is falling again on the city tonight, and it isn’t as cold as it should be.

I had plans early this evening.

But First … This morning a friend of mine came over with a box full of clothes he was getting rid of, thinking that I might want some of them, and when he got here it was snowing, there was slush all over the place, and I really did not want to stand in the snow and sort stuff, so we decided that it would all go to charity instead.

I hate mornings, and I usually don’t do them, unless I necessarily have to.

So I went back to bed.

I set my alarm clock for my afternoon meeting with my sponsor, but I was secretly praying that I did not have to go out in this shitty weather twice in one day. While I was sleeping he texted me and cancelled, I got up, checked my messages and went back to bed.

Glorious !!!

We departed for our now, regular, Thursday Night Meeting. We are getting reconnected to folks that we haven’t seen in some time, and the thought came to my mind as I was standing in the hall that had I not met several of my friends who were present tonight, I would not be where I am today.

How do you convey that kind of gratitude to your friends ?

Tonight we got to hear another First Share, this time was a woman from St. Matthias.

I heard very familiar themes.

Alcoholic home, one or more parental unit caught in the disease.

Parents can be loving people, but hindsight teaches us just how unprepared they / one or the other / are prepared to be a parent. The disease of alcoholism doesn’t help these matters.

I’m not sure about my parents. My father drank, and if by providing bells and whistles, (when it was good) and providing a roof over ones head, there was always the flip side, the very worst of human emotion and anger pointed at the children and the mother.

I also heard the theme of (us) being labeled as less than, or not fully realized …

Father being the commander and chief and we are merely, lowly players.

My father was parent to a children he conceived, but for the whole of my life, in his house, he would abuse me saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born!

Was that the reason I became an alcoholic? NO

It seems, and I hear it from many people, that WE are the last to know or realize that we suffer from a disease, that disease is called alcoholism.

We, as children, see it in our home lives. We watch people drink, and some go to their deaths from the drink, and at some point we cross that invisible line between responsible drinking, and downright disgusting and compulsive drinking.

Ten are not enough, and one is too many

In the end, when we get sober and we truthfully look at ourselves, honestly, we find that the people in our lives when we were drinking, we hurt the most. And only now can we make living amends to those people by achieving sobriety.

She talked about early sobriety, and that she did everything that was suggested.

Not always knowing the WHY ?

In the beginning, most folks take one of many paths into sobriety. I’ve found wisdom in working with young men, who are early on. We take them in, we get them connected, and we provide infrastructure for them to keep them in the loop, so to speak. (At least I do that).

And it was done that way with me when I got sober.

I met all the right people at the right moments in my life.

If you are willing to go to any length to get and stay sober, you will, for better or for worse, do as you are told, and I say that in the most loving way.

All we have are merely suggestions. Take them or leave them.

I’ve found that people who take them (Suggestions), get and stay sober.
And those who leave them, and try to do this on their own, usually drink again.

Over time we learn the “Why” of “Why do we do the things we do?”

We did not get sober to be Miserable …

There are three types of alcoholics.

  • One group are those who will die from the disease
  • Another group who will go insane
  • And the third group who will live life with enthusiasm

I can safely say that for the most part, all of the people I know who are sober are in varying degrees of living life with enthusiasm, from early on to long time sober. I find it a grace to see someone who is graceful, full of life, and embraces enthusiasm like our woman does. And that is why we go to meetings, because we need to witness that, and in turn we get to give away what we have.

We show up, so you will show up, and in the end we are sober another night together.

I heard another trilogy of sound advice, that I tell others who are new …

  • Go to meetings
  • Call another alcoholic
  • Work with another human being

Nothing guarantees sobriety, like intense work with another alcoholic. It gets us out of ourselves, it shuts down the committee in our heads, and keep us Right Sized.

Many of us, come in shot to hell, miserable, with little hope, and dejected. Then there are those who come in with Egos the size of Mount Everest. That is a daunting task…

We learn many things as children and growing up, that we don’t necessarily understand at the time. I know for me that a number of things happened in my life, that I did not understand at the time, and I did not have words for them. And only now, in hindsight, I know what they were, and why I turned out the way I did.

So it goes for us as well. We learn either by teaching or default, how to grow up. And we are either stunted by it, or we are able to use what we are taught positively. An alcoholic in training doesn’t get the benefit of the doubt in many cases. We are usually destined for disaster …

Until we get to that day, You know the day I am talking about …

Yes, That Day …

  • The day we admit we have a problem.
  • And for the first time, the person who was the last to know,
  • Now knows what the problem is,
  • Who the common denominator is,
  • And what we call it.
  • The disease of alcoholism
  • And then we ask for HELP

We all get there, hopefully, and later on we are grateful for it.

Because now We own it, We speak it, and We name it.

  • And if we are lucky,
  • and the stats are very slim,
  • we get sober,
  • and hopefully we are in it to win it,
  • and we stick and stay.

I was thinking in the shower tonight that I believe that today, I have been sober a little longer than my drinking career lasted. At some point in sobriety we cross that line where we are sober longer than we spent drinking. I’ve given my liver a reason to live.

And pondering my retrospective, I have friends I am eternally grateful for, because it was by their example and their love and grace, that I am where I am today. I count a specific group of particular women who have changed my life in ways, I could not have imagined.

I did not know it could get like this. It is all down to The Work.

You got to be in it to win it.

I have friends who are in it, despite themselves, and they are just there. I look at my friends, some of them, and I have this knowing, I can see it. I was just IN IT at one point, then I heard a speaker light a fire under my ass, and I got IN IT TO WIN IT.

And that changed my life, and the lives of my guys by extension.

We live life with enthusiasm.

Because it is our right and because we’ve earned it.

It was a great night.

More to come, stay tuned …

Thursday … Busy Day and … The Return

tumblr_l9aodkIKWb1qzk77co1_500 singlifessongCourtesy: Sing Life’s Song

Can I tell you how cold it is outside right now? (-11c/-15c w.c.) Brrrrrr…

After yesterday’s excitement and Boo Yah purchase, today had to get even better.

And it did.

Today was beauty day, well, my appointment with my stylist. The ever evolving haircut continues. Let’s just say, it is a work in progress.

Not to mention, on the train (that story is coming) on the way out there was a very very HUMPY Montreal police officer on the train, with a version of “the haircut” and I was like M.E.O.W. come arrest me please !!!!

When I left for the mall, I really had no plan beyond getting my hair cut.

You know what happens to me whenever I make a plan right?

God Laughs …

My sponsor is M.I.A. for the past two days, and I am having a love affair with his answering machine, which he jokingly replies when I say that is … “that is the safest relationship.”

So, I packed my bag with warm fuzzies and I left my headphones home, because, I wasn’t going anywhere far, that would require music to follow.

It was 12:30 and I was already out. And I put in an order at inter group for chips that I was going to go get tomorrow. Standing in the mall, I decided to check the service office hours, which were from 1 until 7 this evening.

I thought to myself that I would charge my Opus card, walk from the mall home to get my headphones, and walk to the next Metro Station, which is 3 blocks East of home. The mall is 3 blocks West of home, so that was my plan.

Did I mention that it was cold?

I chose not to go home, instead I got on the train and headed to the East End to pick up chips.

It was a 30 minute commute out East, and a trudge up the Olympic Park Hill, yes, that Olympic Park. The BIG O … Where the 1976 Olympics took place. There is a nice coating of ice citywide on all the sidewalks. UGH !!!

I am superstitious about chips.

  • Your sponsor is supposed to get your chip, (He asked me to get it instead)
  • You don’t get your chip prior to the actual anniversary
  • And you don’t touch your chip until it is handed to you by your sponsor

It is bad juju to break any of these conditions !

My chip was waiting for me, and I asked the kind lady to bag my chip and I shared with her my superstitions. (cue eye roll and the thought … Oh those alcoholics !!!) While I was there I purchased chips for my guys in advance, since I was there already, and their dates don’t come up for a few months, in any case, I have them all now.

Another 30 minute commute back to where I started, and had some Micky D’s for lunch, and then got home close to 3 in the afternoon.

I skyped with a friend who lives in Pittsburgh, and who is coming home for Christmas next week !!!

Cue Happy Dance …

**** **** ****

The Return – A First Share

Our men’s meeting closed last week, which frees up a meeting night. Our little band of happy men decided that we would indeed return to the regular Thursday night speaker meeting at St. Matthias church, which is just up the road from St. Leon’s (where our men’s meeting met).

We arrived to a great welcome, since we haven’t seen folks on Thursday in 18 months. We were joking amongst ourselves on the bus that we should have worn our royal jewels, diamonds, sapphires and Gold !!! Really make a Liberace entrance …

You don’t know that you miss a certain meeting, until you spend a good amount of time doing something else. I missed this meeting. It has been a staple meeting for many years, and when we chose to open the men’s meeting, we knew we were knocking off tradition.

Anyways …

Lots of people I know, lots of people we all know. It was good.

My favorite human being, because he is stately and humble and kind was in the chair.

Our young speaker got up there, and knocked it out of the park.

Some meetings are hardline singleness of purpose meetings, where you can only talk about alcoholism and nothing but. And I’ve seen people get up and leave a meeting midway because someone up there says the word “Drugs!”

And in the 21st Century, what alcoholic is NOT cross addicted??? The numbers are staggering!

Guesses, anyone ???

It seemed that nobody gave a shit, in any case.

Our man got up there and told a story that tugged at my heart. I laughed, I felt sad, I felt sorry for him, and in the end, we were all proud of him.

You could have dropped a pin in that room, nobody got up, nobody left, nobody said a word.

Why?

Because we all respect the man who chaired the meeting, and the young man who got up there to share and because of the people who run that meeting. These are all truly respectable people, who do good things for all of us.

It is Grace when you get to sit in a meeting and hear a newcomer speak for the first time.

Because, how often and always, those of us with time, forget what it was like to be newly sober, or coming back, and have to get up there and share experience, strength and hope for the first time.

We all did it, many of us have forgotten what that felt like. And what it sounded like.

Tonight we were reminded, every single one of us in that room.

Our chair said afterwards, of the young speaker, that, “when I asked him to speak I did not know him, but when I asked him, he said yes, and now tonight, I know him a bit better.”

Never say no to a request to do any kind of service.

Bittersweet … The longer I stay, the worse it gets for some. Leave a meeting for a while, and then return, and witness people who decided to toss it away and go back out, only to show up and take another beginner’s chip. People with serious time go out, and it is unnerving. And it makes me think about either, what I am doing right? or what they are doing wrong?

There is a simple list of things to do to guarantee not going back out.

And I bang those things into my guys heads over and over…

Sadly, not everyone can exceed expectations. The revolving door still exists. And sadly, people I knew 18 months ago who were long sober, are once again, trying again. You never know what pulls people out the door, but I do … cunning baffling and powerful …

One moment of indecision, one lapse in thought, the 12 inch gulf between ones head and their heart.

How did they slip through the cracks? How does that happen when they used to be connected to a home group, doing service and staying sober?

I’m really grateful that I am sober another day. Because I know, in an instant, I could be right back there, hating myself and starting over. I choose not to do that, and I am willing to go to any length to stay where I am right now. I worked too damned hard to get here, to piss it away with a momentary lapse in judgment.

Serenity – Acceptance – Courage – Wisdom – Patience – Appreciation – Tolerance – Strength

The long version of the Serenity Prayer in brief …

A good day and a great night.

At least for tonight, all of our folks are sober one day.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Beginning Again

tumblr_lbvzzftgHR1qacs5po1_500 everythingsmagic

Courtesy:EverythingsMagic

Another weekend is in the book. The snow that fell is slowly disappearing due to mist and rain. As is Montreal, the weather is morphing by the hour today. Last night we had ice pellets, and the sidewalks were slushy and wet. Today we had rain, that changed to mist, that changed to fog, that turned into dreariness. We are sitting above freezing at a balmy (6c).

Last night hubby and I celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary with dinner at Fire Grill on Stanley Street. We walked from home along Ste. Catherine’s Street, past the Ogilvy holiday window. This is a long standing tradition. They dress a window for Christmas, and every year it changes. The costumes on the characters are all hand made, from hand me down fur coats and donations for charity.

We don’t usually eat out at high end restaurants, so last night was a treat. The restaurant is finely decorated with comfortable booths around the main bar, which was not very busy at all. It was around 9 that we had reservations, and there were only a handful of folks sitting at the bar, the entire time we were there.

We dined on French Onion soup, Caesar Salads, New York Strip Steak and Rib Steak. The prices were a little steep, but hubby had budgeted for the dinner. The Steak portions allowed us to share the two entrees between us, and there was steak left over at the end as well. The portions on all servings were large and the steaks were plenty good size. Overall it was a nice place to eat, but not all the time.

**** **** ****

I departed early and there was fog, as thick as pea soup hanging over the city. I watched it roll in from the west and I could not see past my balcony, it had devoured space and time. I had missed the rain, or the rain missed me.

We cranked out set up in short order due to the fact that several of my fellows came early. I started working with a new guy these past couple of weeks. Well, I offered to work with him and he accepted. He is new and this past week he grabbed himself a Big Book, which he brought with him this evening and for the hour prior to the meeting, we sat and began reading the book from the beginning. That is something I do with my guys here, to read the book together, and we high lite particular sentences, and we discuss the read as we go along.

I have said that I am not one to bang someone over the head with the book at the outset. I would rather you come and find your way and when you are ready, we will read the book. Hindsight is very good when talking about the book. My book had a multitude of colors and notes in the margin, all my books are like that, seeing I have been using the same books for so long. And I just continue to add notes as we read and re-read.

The first read, I think I was trying to wrap my head around what the book said. And having a meeting where all we did was read the book, several times over, these past thirteen years or so, was good. Sunday’s we spent the better part of a year and more reading the book again, and I realized several things on this passage.

When we got to the end of the book, the “Stories” section, I found that each of them had information that was pertinent to everyone, and in certain cases, I now come to believe that certain back stories should be read before you begin the front read.

And that wisdom comes, after reading the book from front to back. We began reading the book from the beginning, for both my guys. And I also suggested to them that it might be interesting for them to read the stories from the back of the book, concurrently as we start our study together, along with their journals and the daily phone calls.

So that is a thing.

There has been a burning question in my head for some time now. A question I have been asking myself for a long time. I can’t really answer it now, because it concerns the past. What happened happened, and life went as it did. But rhetorically, what would have happened, if someone had said the word “STOP” when I was in the thick of my alcoholism when I was in my twenties ???

Every time we read Step One, I get hung up on this one line from the read:

The read tells the story about the first edition of the Big Book being written for the Low Bottoms. It goes on to say …

“It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years this had changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families, their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their alcoholism. (then comes the kicker for me) … As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone through.”

Twelve and Twelve, pg. 23

When I was in my twenties, I was more than potentially an alcoholic, I was ONE. And nobody was none the wiser. Who knew from recovery in the bar business, who knew the word moderation, or better yet, the word STOP !!!

I imagine in my minds eye, the life I would have had, had I gotten sober in my twenties. Where I was living, what I was doing, who I was associating with. But that was not to be. It is written, in the book, that “Nothing, Absolutely Nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” Then that means, the journey I had, happened, and not by mistake, and by Divine Direction.

If that is so, then God had one fucked up idea with the journey He took me on.

I did have free will, at any time on the journey. I could have stopped the ride and gotten off at any point, it was my choice to ride the ride, in any case. You could say, my first go at sobriety, was getting off the ride, and finding God’s Grace. Sadly, I failed in that attempt.

I talked tonight about Powerlessness. And about example.

Had someone showed me the book, early in my life, I would have realized that I was living, the “Big Book Live,” for the whole of my life. I knew early on what alcoholism was. I say my grandfather’s were type one’s, my father was a type two, and I came along and perfected alcoholism into type three.

Living with active alcoholics, types one and two, was a Master Class in just what alcohol does to a human being. And what that addiction does to the immediate family. However, in our cases, nobody ever made a scene, or spoke out, or said “Why don’t you stop drinking!” ever…

I learned what all those words meant as a young person. However I did not know it at the time. I was powerless over my father, and my mother. Children are powerless over their parents. They used to say that as long as we lived under their roof, it was by their grace and by their rules.

When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was really bad.

I learned a great deal by listening. That I did very well. By listening, I planned my exit from home. I knew where I wanted to go, and why.

But where ever you go, there you are. I took me with me.

But my alcoholism followed. I was completely powerless over it. From the word GO !

And it took me until I hit the age of thirty four to finally understand what that meant. There are two parts to that step … One – that I am powerless over alcohol, and Two – that my life had become unmanageable. In my life I went from an unmanageable state, to a functional state.

The really terrible things that usually happen at the end of ones drinking career, happened in the first decade of my drinking, and I survived them, miraculously. After that I began to perfect my drinking, trying different methods, different locations, different people. At one point I added drugs to my history, that was a complete failure of rationality. That last year, I could not handle drinking every day, so I turned to binge drinking. Until failure was the only option.

And I knew the end was coming. I asked God for help.

The rest is history.

All I wanted when I moved here was to never drink again. 16 days and counting …

It was a good night. I worked with my guys. I spent an hour with my friends. Nobody drank since last Sunday. And everybody is still sober, thanks be to God.

“I get everything I need in A.A. – and everything I need I get. And when I get what I need, I invariably find that it was just what I wanted all the time.” Pg. 552