People in our lives, exist in certain degrees of separation from our center orbit, or universe. Depending on who they are, their relation to you, or the level, of your friendship, we keep certain people close, while others, remain in an orbit, of our determination.
We sit in the center of our universe, but we are reminded that we are NOT the center of the universe. Our family and our friends orbit locally, close to us, or farther out.
I have experience.
Sixteen years of experience in the rooms, and Fifty years life experience on this planet. Fifty years of life is not something to sneeze at.
Fifty is A Lot of time. That’s fifty orbits around the sun. No Small Feat …
Coming into sobriety the first time, had its challenges. And every human being who stepped onto my life path, played a role. Whether that role was good or bad.
I’m really grateful that Todd was on my path, because if it were not for him, I would not be here right now. He saved my life, and set me up for life success.
That was No Small Feat Either.
When it came to the rooms, I could have done without them, because the messaging and the delivery folks, were less than supportive.
Yet, today, I can safely say, I learned from those people, just what NOT to do.
Today, I know, I am hypercritical.
I am very good at what I do. Because every human being I know, in the rooms today, has been part of who I have become. Every decision my friends made, every good piece of advice they spoke either to me or to a meeting, is part of who I am.
On the other hand, every stupid mistake they made, every bad piece of advice I listened to, or every action that flew counter to who they were, and who I am, played a role in who I am as well.
I talk about my friends. I may not tell you their names, but you get to hear my experience of what goes on around me. I can carry the message, and I DO that. Some people do not like that I tell stories about them. But if we do not learn from others and share those lessons, we are wasting valuable resources for sobriety.
It was good, back in the day at the S.O.B.E room, I did not have to do anything, but show up. People were good to me. They loved me. A handful of that original group of men and women are still part of my life, almost sixteen years later.
The Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
When I moved to Montreal, at five months sober, I walked into Tuesday Beginners, and I rooted there. I walked into a meeting hall, run by a gaggle of women.
Women rule the world. Just saying …
They told me what I needed to do. First things First.
They had a notebook, full of rules and regulations. This is 2002.
Before I could do anything substantial, I had to do service, for a certain period of time.
That meant Coffee, Chairs and Tables. Greeting and just Being PRESENT.
After a period of time, I was able to Chair the discussion meeting. Along with the sundry grunt work. After a year, I could chair the second Speaker meeting. Because how can you toss a newcomer into the chair of a speaker meeting, and THEY go out and find speakers for your meeting ??? That ain’t gonna happen.
You needed time in the room, around other alcoholics and some SOLID experience in sobriety, in order to serve at a greater capacity any room in the city.
That’s why GRUNT work is so very important.
WAX ON WAX OFF. PAINT THE FENCE, UP DOWN…
It took me TWELVE years to understand what it was that I HAD, in my bank, in order to begin giving it away. It took Bob from New York City, to come here and speak to a Round up, and give me the necessary tools to be able to know, with certainty, what the book says, why it works, and what I needed to do in order to give it away.
He taught me the Three, Seven, Eleven Shuffle …
Nobody, HERE, knew this. Because I had never heard those words from anyone in the rooms here, not even from the man I called my sponsor. Nor from the women getting sober around me either.
Over the years, from day one in Montreal until today, people have come and gone from my life, for one reason or another. A few, VERY FEW of those original folks that were there in the VERY beginning are still a part of my life today.
They either have moved away, or moved to another section of the city, OR I have outgrown their usefulness.
Outgrowing people is a common theme.
We must begin to understand that FIRST, alcoholics are HUMAN BEINGS.
None of us are perfect, by any stretch. NOBODY.
I’ve found, over my years, that people can only do so much for us. They only understand to the level of their own perceptions. Be they newcomers, Middle runners, or folks with Double Digit Sobriety.
I can look back at my years, and I know everyone who walked with me, a short time, or a long time.
And I know who is in the ARENA with me now.
Some chips are more front of mind than others. Some years are more prominent than others. A certain specific stages of my sobriety, I was HOMED in certain meetings, with certain members for a certain reason.
I HOMED at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. I took my Ten Year Chip at Friday West End, because I was in that meeting to listen to OLD TIMERS with Serious Double Digit Sobriety.
Men and Women who knew the founders.
Yes, back then, there were old timers still alive, who knew the founders. Founder of the Program, in the States, and most importantly, Dave B, who founded A.A. in Quebec.
Eleven Through Fifteen I relocated to other meetings, for one reason or another.
“ALL YOU NEED IS A RESENTMENT AND A COFFEE POT TO OPEN A MEETING.”
IT ALSO TAKES, AT THE LEAST, $300.00 TO OPEN A MEETING.
Over my years, watching people, seeing what they do, listening to what they say, and then see how they treat people around them, have been lessons in action.
Do their actions agree with their sobriety ? Do they align ?
I was often reminded that “Just because people have TIME, does not necessarily mean that they are SOBER.”
This is the curse of sobriety. In my opinion. Like I said above, we are all Human Beings, and we are only capable, based on our abilities and our perceptions.
Heterosexuals are at a disadvantage working with a Homosexual.
People who are not GAY, cannot possibly identify with my particular story. Nor are they capable of stepping up and being present, accountable, reliable, and supportive.
Very few Gay men want to talk about AIDS, or FEELINGS, or EMOTIONS.
And very few Straight men wanted to walk with me through my minefield of cathartic emotional pain over the last two years.
Long Sober alcoholics with serious Double Digit Sobriety, failed me miserably.
Men and Women.
Like I said, people are only able, based on their abilities and perceptions.
NO TWO Men or Women are at the same place, on the sober spectrum, at the same time.
And a good long sober lady friend of mine, who is about to hit THIRTY YEARS, has said to me recently, that:
A.A. is One Big Hospital. But Not everybody is on the same floor. And when I have (when we have) a problem with someone else, then we must turn our selves to our own mirrors and look at ourselves, and see what needs to change in us.
Because we cannot change anyone else…
Our Leaders are but trusted servants. They Do Not Govern.
I learned all those years ago, how to DO GRUNT WORK.
We teach you how to do Grunt Work, from the very beginning. Because one day, YOU will become a trusted servant to a meeting, or your district, or your city, province, or country.
An Old Timer at our Friday meeting said this tonight …
Rooms just don’t open themselves. Coffee does not perk itself either. Literature does not magically appear from inter-group on its own. The chairs and table do not mysteriously appear set in place by themselves either. The treasury does not bank by itself.
Someone has to do the work.
If there was no one to open the door, make the coffee, set up and do all the GRUNT work, there would be no meetings.
In time, someone, in some meeting, is going to hand you a key and tell you, it is your job to make this particular meeting SING.
In my second year, of sobriety, I was handed the Key to Tuesday Beginners, and I had that key until I hit the twelve-year mark.
To this day, I have a church key on my key ring.
I am still doing service. But these days, All I do is show up and open the door, and make coffee. The rest of the GRUNT work is up to our newcomers on Friday Night.
People come into our lives, for a specific period of time.
It is wisdom that Family, Friends, Fellows, and Others, are not necessarily supposed to be with us for the whole of our lives.
People WILL COME and they WILL GO.
That is a fact of life.
People are human, and resentments can be very real, very raw, and very dividing.
It has been my experience, that there are sober members in the rooms, with serious double-digit sobriety, who want nothing to do with me because I have been critical about them in the past.
Gay men with serious double-digit sobriety, don’t want to know me either, because they cannot identify with my particular story, or my particular bent on sobriety, because at fifty, for me, I really don’t want to be like them, nor do I want what they have, certainly because of how they treat me in community, in front of everybody else.
I have my best friends. Those whom I cede authority. Those people who love me for who I am and what I am, flaws, warts and all.
People I trust have my best interests in mind. They will tell me when I need to stand down, and be quiet. When I need to listen, and when I really need to change.
Not every sober member in the rooms has that much authority in my life.
A very few select men and women hold that rank in my life.
Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.