Sufficient Memory …

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“…We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.” pg. 24

“yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.” pg. 152

The former passage, I read with my sponsor as we are working through the Big Book together right now. And I have to say that, right now, tonight, I have more notes and perspective written in the margins and underlined in the passages, than I have ever had before. My book is marked up and high-lit with notes from my sponsor that I had never seen in all the years I have been reading my book with people in the past.

The second passage comes after we open A Vision for you, as we read, the harrowing passages about oblivion coming to the words …

“As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settle down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand.” pg. 151

Throughout the Book, we are visited with the ghosts of former alcoholics who went to the bitter end, blotting out everything around them. Over and over again, Bill and the first 100 writers of the book, tell us stories.

For all those men and women, the miracle happened and they got and stayed sober. So that the rest of us who have come along behind them, can know how bad it got for them, and for many, we heard tonight, all went there, themselves …

A Vision for You does not start out strong in the hope department for sure. It throws down the gauntlet, one more time, then proceeds to tell us that once we get sober, and clean up our lives, shit does get real … and that The Most Satisfactory years of your existence are ahead.

Many of my friends, farther back on the road, have walked, in as many months, a very hard road. I watched many of them struggle, but they persisted. Shit is getting real for many people. And I get a front row seat to watch and participate in the rehabilitation of lives on a nightly basis.

It is like day and night for many. Life is good all the way around. Many of our Down and outers, who never imagined that life could get so good, are besides themselves with gratitude. We all survived the bitter end. And together, we are beginning to see the light.

I’ve never wanted to be so sober, as I do today. My friends are the best people in the world. I cannot begin to tell you how great life is for many of them. One of my best friend and his wife hiked Machu Picchu for two weeks and climbed over 17,000 feet into the sky. Amazing …

Our intrepid chair tonight, invited us to read the first two pages of A Vision for You, as a whole, and many of us revisited the last drink.

And I can tell you that many of us, CAN, with SUFFICIENT FORCE, bring into our consciousness of the suffering and humiliation of our last drink.

I heard many things tonight. And I pondered my own story again.

When I got sober the first time, Todd was there. That voice of calm, the voice of wisdom and the voice of control was always with me. Yes, I was working in a bar, but that bar was the safest place I could be, given the circumstances we had been visited with at the time. AIDS was the great equalizer. Many went to their deaths, miserably.

Thankfully, due to Todd, (read: God) I live to tell that particular story.

When Todd moved away, I could not keep it together by myself. I just could not fathom, living by myself, on my own, without Todd behind me.

When I went out, it was my own fault. I listened to all the WRONG voices. When those final weeks of my drinking took place, it was binge drinking one night a week, because I just could not stomach drinking every day.

I was still, drinking to fit in. Drinking to be seen. Drinking to be noticed.

Nobody noticed.

I would drink, until I fell down. In a room with a couple hundred other men doing the same thing. But nobody noticed me. So I drank more. Thinking that if I kept drinking, SOMEONE would NOTICE me …

At the bitter end, Black Out after Black Out … I came to believe that I could no longer drink any more. I called out to God, and He answered me in due course.

The rest is history they say…

But I still wonder, who was it that picked me up, off the dance floor after I collapsed, took me outside, got me a taxi, drove me home, AND got me in through TWO locked doors, into my apartment ???

I don’t know the answer to that Million Dollar Question.

Someone did notice me, and did me a great favor.

There must have been angels in that club, watching me.

Walking from home to the SOBE room, where I finally arrived in, I had to walk past the building that housed the club, I used to drink in. On the way out and on the way back.

A few weeks after I got sober, I heard they shut down the club for good.

I like to say, with a giggle … The last alcoholic left that building, so they had to close …

I mused tonight, that I needed a steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot go through life and NOT have that steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot do life alone. I know that today.

I knew it long ago, but when Todd left my life for good, there was nobody to take his place, and I foundered.

It wasn’t until I walked back into the rooms, in South Beach, that Fonda, Ed, Charlie, and Shane stepped up and took me in and cared for me.

When I moved to Montreal seventeen years ago, I did it the right way. I stepped into the room, with the people who would change my life. I needed that steady hand on my shoulder, and I got it in spades.

The right sponsor at the right time appeared, and took me on a journey, that first year. I was Never Alone. Not for one Minute. He showed me Sobriety. He showed me everything that this city could offer me, now that I was sober.

He took me places and showed me life. And little by slowly, A Vision for You Came to pass for me and countless others. The most satisfactory years of my life WERE ahead of ME.

And they are STILL AHEAD of me YET !!!

Life did not only get better, it got richer beyond my wildest imagination.

I’ve survived twenty-five years of a death sentence. I live every day to tell people that story to the degree that many of my friends roll their eyes at me when I mention it.

So I don’t talk about it any longer.

We live in the Solution today. You too can live in the solution.

With all the good, there is also bad. Sober people, are sick people, at the root of life. Those who do not work, falter and get sick. They freak out, and I see this happening around me, in old-timer disease.

I can see when old timers freak out and go down the rabbit hole. I can see it, when they cannot see it themselves. I spoke to one particular guy about it when he freaked out and he said to me, all twenty-six years of his sobriety said … How dare you call me on my shit, when you are only sixteen years and a few months sober ???

Go fuck yourself !!!

Alcoholics get sick. When they stop working and go into Ego and Resentment.

If you are NOT in The Work, then why not ?

Our kids work their asses off, day in and day out. We do not get a day off. There are no free passes to sobriety. It is just NOT GONNA HAPPEN without our doing anything.

Because when we sit back and wait for it to happen, we too could end up going down the rabbit hole ourselves.

I’ve been seeing it happen all around me, so I buck up on program. I listen to speakers on my phone. I hit meetings, and I am in the Book right now. With a young lady friend who has infinite amounts of wisdom to give us all.

When I realized I wanted what she had, I asked her to walk me through the book.

I have not looked back yet.

I love my life and those people who are IN IT TO WIN IT with me.

The whole point of getting sober, is to one day be:

Happy, Joyous and Free …

Some say I look happy. I feel joyous.

I AM FREE ….

Tuesday: The Four Horsemen

 

A Vision for You …

Never could we recapture the great moments of the past. There was an insistent yearning to enjoy life as we once did and a heartbreaking obsession that some new miracle of control would enable us to do it. There was always one more failure.

Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Hideous Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair.

Unhappy drinkers who read this will understand !

This chapter is one of my favorites. Because at the end, this chapter tells us what we really need to know, before we look into our sober bank, and think about helping others.

It came for me late in the game, this realization. And it took some one much more sober than I was to point it out to me. And I learned the lesson.

Did you know that when we drank the Four Horsemen followed us around, without us ever noticing them, until we took that last drink. Looking back …

Did you also know that the Four Horsemen, follow us around in sobriety as well ?

Shit does not only happen to us while we drank. Shit happens when we get sober too.

And if I am Honest, when shit happened to me in sobriety, not many sober people wanted to know me, help me, or give me any kind of support, one way or another.

You never know when it is going to hit you. That one Event, That one Tragedy, That one Serious Illness, or That Next Drink.

They never warned me that sobriety could be so difficult.

I know, in the past, that I had known several women, in the rooms, who hit the shit storm, and had to muddle their way through ALONE.

Let’s just say that, after the way that people treated me, over the past year, I am a bit more harsh on people. I am a bit more Honest with my words and warnings.

I’ve spent the past fifteen years and eight months of my sobriety listening to people talk. I’ve watched them act. I’ve watched them go back out.

Some returned, many did not.

You think that what I have to say means something other than a warning to:
NOT DO THAT YOURSELF ???

If people put so much meaning into what I write or what I say, you’d think, that everybody would be long sober now.

If words mean everything, and we should taste our words before we SPIT THEM OUT, do you think that I did not think through every word I have written here over the past fifteen years?

This running record of sobriety AND my life experience is the greatest wealth of information someone suffering from the disease of alcoholism may ever read.

If we are not honest with people about everything, and if we sugar coat our words and always say YES to everyone and not rock the boat, and we let our friends continue to do stupid things, then what are we getting sober for ?

If we do not share the messages of HOPE as well as the Messages of WARNINGS, then what do we have to give?

Sobriety is not pretty. It does get ugly. And Sober people can be assholes.

I know this is true. When the four horsemen visited me on that one day that I fell to the ground and sobbed on my knees, a long sober man called me irrational and a child.

Everybody continues to blow smoke up his ass to this day, and every time I see one of those people, they stay well away from me !

I’m tired of being the pretty gay boy who loves everyone and never says the word NO to anyone. I’m tired of having to eat shit from people who turned their backs on me.

I sat in one particular room for a solid year, talking, begging, for someone to step up and help me. Not One Soul Stepped up and Helped me.

People who are long sober, look at me and say nothing.

That’s the God’s honest Truth.

Sobriety is worth every penny you invest in it. Sobriety is NOT a cake walk. Sobriety is not pretty, when it really gets UGLY. And not every sober person wants to be your friend.

People look at me and think I AM CRAZY ??? That nothing I have to say to them matters, and that the way I work my program is stupid and unnecessary ?

The Second time you really have to work for it.

I will tell you that the first time around there was a boy who could not string a week together. And for FOUR YEARS he was stuck in that revolving door. I could not figure out why he could not “Get It.”

And you know, I had to go back out MYSELF, to understand the SLIP properly.

So you think that I waste my time writing here and talking to the air night after night, and you think that what I say is wrong or rude or inappropriate ?

UNBECOMING a SOBER member of A.A. ??

Fuck You.

I worked my ass off from day one. I did EVERY single thing I was told to do, EVERYTHING.

  • I got a home group
  • I did service
  • I made coffee and set up tables and chairs
  • I went to thousands of meetings
  • I worked Steps and More Steps and More Steps Over and Over
  • I went back to university at age 36 and got TWO degrees
  • I got Married in Sobriety
  • I lived 23 years longer than I was supposed to Living with AIDS
  • I am still alive today
  • And I hit FIFTY years old last month

I fucking worked my ass off. And I talk about people, who cannot be bothered to even lift their little finger to get sober. Who moan about God and the Steps and Spirituality.

Oh For Fucks sake … Read the God damned Book

More to the point READ HOW IT WORKS and tell me if you understand the concept of HONESTY ????

YES ???

NO ???

People from other places told me, front and center, that if I did not work my ass off, that sobriety would mean nothing and that I would not learn one God damned thing.

If I did not WORK. And PRAY. And Serve. And Give.

I did that for years and years, and what did I get for that effort ? NADA !

I have a handful of good friends. I can count them on two hands.

I sponsor people, who care about me. I don’t waste my time with takers and users.

Time is precious. And sobriety is precious.

If you are not willing to do the work, then don’t waste my time.

The Four Horsemen are always there. And keeping them away is a full-time job.

TERROR – BEWILDERMENT – FRUSTRATION – DESPAIR

Friday: What are you Carrying ???

It is Friday. The best night of the week. It was a good day. I got out early, and arrived at the church, with my music on Shuffle … However, I chose some vintage Duran Duran.

I cranked out set up, in time to spend time with a new man I am working with these days. Now, I get to choose who I invest in and why.

The read spoke about the fellowship, and how there is a give and take in the rooms, when we get here. In the beginning we learn how to give, by simple acts of service, Coffee and Chairs. Greeting at the door. Shaking Hands.

In the ensuing years, we begin to learn about recovery. And we also begin filling our buckets with useful information, that at some point, we will know what to do with and how to use it.

Page 164, in A Vision for You, reminds us that
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

It was a very long time, until I realized that, in fact, I did have something to offer, I just needed to learn how to do that from the spiritual angle. That only took 12 years.

Read: I had to learn and know how to pray and communicate with my God.

The read also says that we should give, because it is in giving that we receive. And that we should give, without the expectation of anything in return.

I thought about this, and spoke up early in the hour.

When I do not know what to do myself, I return to the basics. I do service.

History shows me that for a long time, I gave, to people who really did not care that I was giving, because as long as I was doing the lion’s share of work, they did not have to do anything. And some of my friends told me just that. They would not show up, nor do anything to serve, because they knew that I would be there to carry the load.

Selfish and Self Centered.

At the point, post emotional breakdown, that I spoke my mind out loud, people were incensed. They had never heard me get emotional or raise my voice, in all my years of sobriety.

What I did not realize, until a long sober woman said it tonight, that I needed to choose:

Was I going to Carry the Message, or Was I going to carry an Alcoholic/Addict ?

I’ve said before that I usually never say no to my friends, nee sponsees. I will do whatever they need to be done, without complaint. That usually worked for me, until I NEEDED myself.  When it came to the point that I needed from my friends, they could not comprehend that need, nor could they respond or give me what I really needed, because I was carrying them, with the unspoken expectation that My Friends Would be able to give me what I so seriously needed.

I had not realized that then, until my long sober friend said that in the meeting tonight.

I had very lax boundaries. They were porous to a fault.

And several of my friends thought nothing of barging into the private sector of my life with their self centered and selfish needs, even when I said to them that I needed a few days off to grow up and become Fifty years old.

It was obvious on my birthday that my friends did not care about boundaries.

I know today, what I need to know about boundaries.

Those who I work with where I Carry the Message, they are just fine. Those people whom I was Carrying All Along, are no longer.

Alcoholics and Addicts may be light when we pick them off the floor in early sobriety. Because they are void of life and soul, and we take them on to help build them up. But if we don’t know when to let go, and stand back and allow them to walk on their own, and we continue to carry them into sobriety, where we do all the work, they do not learn healthy boundaries, and they tend to take advantage of us.

Over time those same Light Weight Alcoholics and Addict become Very HEAVY.

I can’t carry anyone any more. I need to take care of me. I was told, by my lady friend, that I needed to step back and fill my bucket and relax, and not try so hard to do what others can do themselves.

Food for thought.