Help Will Always Come

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Staying the course, and always doing the next right thing, is good sound advice.

When the chatter in my head is running at fever pitch, and my emotions seem to rule every decision or thought at times, I know that I need to stop and take a break.

Read: I need to STOP and Pray !!!

Funny how things fall into my lap, when I most need them. Or, little signs from somewhere outside of myself, seem to appear, in front of me, at the oddest moments.

I have told the story about my I-Phones tendency to shuffle me a speaker, one speaker in particular, when I really need a talking to. It seems to know me better than I know myself at times, which begs the question … Are Our I-Phones sentient ???

Thursday night, after the meeting I was really emotional and I realized that I was not done mourning the passing of my father. Because of a comment made about him, amid a conversation with a friend, at the earlier meeting.

We were talking about care giving and being a care giver for family and significant others and how tasking that is on everyone involved. A few days prior to this chat, the National News carried a story about just this topic, and how the province of Quebec is going to step up and help care givers of patients and family in assisted living facilities.

I told him the story about my father, when I was in eighth grade, how, when his mother had a very serious stroke, and in a VERY LUCID moment, outside of his alcoholism, he thought that IF he took ME to Connecticut to see her, he believed, from somewhere deep within him, that if she looked at me and recognized me, that she would in essence,
WAKE UP!

What we did not know about serious stroke paralysis was apparent.

Who knew from the now famous “Stroke Treatment” delivered within a very short time from falling into stroke, can avert serious paralysis. That drug did not exist in the early 80’s.

We took a night flight out and arrived late that evening in Connecticut. My uncle picked us up and took us to his house. The next morning we ate breakfast and they drove me to The New Britain General Hospital.

I was not prepared at all for what was coming.

We got to Grammy’s room, and she was laid out, drooling spittle, half her face was in her lap, and the entire right side of her body was paralyzed. I took one look at her, and I fainted. My head hit the tile floor and I ended up in the emergency room that morning.

She indeed, did NOT wake up. However, she knew who I was. I could not rouse her from her lethargy. I sat on her bed for a few weeks time, to no avail.

In the end, a few weeks later, I returned home defeated. My father was crushed.

It is my belief that he held that little trip against me and never forgave me for not being able to do the job, HE BELIEVED, I needed to do for him. His alcoholism cranked up to 200%. And the abuse ratcheted up 200% as well. Whenever he drank, it was me he came after.

Which is why, as time went on, I found other houses to stay in, so I did not have to be at home. I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping at successive friends houses over the ensuing years, just to get away from my father.

A functional abusive alcoholic can have lucid moments of brilliance and compassion and thought. Interspersed with the drinking came incredible kindnesses. My father paid dearly, in “Things” to assuage my pain that he himself caused me.

When my friend mentioned to me the other night that “My father KNEW that  my grandmother loved me more than any other, i.e. my brother, it was me he took on this trip because “we” (my grandmother and I are spiritually connected).

When I got very sick, it was Grammy who visited me and stayed with me, when everyone else fled the scene. It took a psychic to tell me this, because she would come into my apartment and my bedroom door was always closed, (at that point) at which time she would move pictures on the walls, and scatter magazines all over the floor, until I invited my friend to come over and tell me what was going on …

In his words to my ears: He told me Grammy was standing in my living room, and had been there for a long time, looking after me, and she could not quite figure out how to get through the door, (after which time, I never slept with another bed room door closed, to this very day). She still visits me on occasion here !!!

That comment unnerved me to the degree that I came home an emotional mess and when I got home, I sat down and wrote it all out and did my Step 4 at the same time.

I went to bed Thursday night, not so myself.

Friday, I left for the meeting as usual. I got to the church, and unlocked, and began my set up routine. I was still, not in the right frame of mind. I grabbed the coffee pot, from the cabinet and lo and behold, a single sheet of paper fell to the floor at my feet, from the stack of papers we have to one side of the cabinet.

I picked it up, as it fell face down, on the floor, and took a look at the newspaper clipping. It was a newspaper clipping telling the story of the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset, Vermont.

The house is NOT on any map. You would have to know, before hand, where you were going in order to get there, because there aren’t any signs along the way saying …

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THIS WAY TO BILL’S HOUSE !!! This is the actual house as it is.

Anyways, I read the article and thought to myself, wow, I had never seen this article in the cabinet before, so there has to be a reason it fell out, onto the floor, at just the most opportune moment.

Which hearkened me back three years to the weekend that my then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and I, were on our way to a men’s intensive at Mad River Barn, not far from East Dorset that very weekend.

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And ON THE WAY … We visited Bill’s house where he was born. We also visited Bill and Lois’ grave, just up the road in a very small and non-nondescript cemetery. If you did not know the cemetery was there, you’d not know to go there and pay your respects to the Founder and his wife.

Coming back to the present moment, I was in my head, clearly not myself, standing there alone in a church basement, with this piece of paper in my hand, and the very clear and resonant memory in the front of my brain.

Another of life’s synchronicity.

These little spiritually ignited occurrences happen often to me. And when I most need them, HP does the trick and sends me a sign from above, to remind me, that I am well cared for, and there is always someone up there, looking out for me.

The weekend was a success. It has been Hotter than Hell in Montreal since last Friday, and the heat wave will continue through Thursday night, later this week.

It has been UNBEARABLE !!!

I am chairing this month at the Monday meeting, and we read from the Big Book. Before the meeting I was sitting outside the hall, thumbing through my Big Book, looking for a suitable passage to share with the group. And I happened upon the story:

Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three … Pioneer of Akron’s Group No. 1 The first A.A. group in the world …

And I came to the end of the story where he is having breakfast with Bill and his wife Henrietta, and Bill says to her:

“Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

This one sentence is A.A. Gold…

The reading, in the end, speaks about an Absolute State of Grace and Gratitude.

Which brings me this realization as I am sitting here typing these words that:

If you don’t have a topic for a meeting, the default is ALWAYS

GRATITUDE !!!

We’ve come full circle now.

When Passion Dies

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Have you ever loved something so much, that you thought at one point, that you would do that thing for the rest of your life ? Climb the ladder of success, in a field/job, a sport, in music, or a trade ?

And what happens when you reach the point of success, let’s say, “going to an Olympics in Beijing as a Canadian athlete at the top of ones game.” And then having the tables turn on you, and that sport you loved, and gave it all of your heart and soul, and then that passion for the game DIES within, and alcohol becomes your best friend and companion.

When I was a boy, I had a gift for music. Beginning as a small child with a little organ, and graduating into the BIG LEAGUE with a double Decker two keyboard Wurlitzer organ that I was a master at playing.

I took private lessons, had lessons in school, and competed at Regional and State musical competitions. 12 years of music, died, on one fateful evening, when my drunken father grabbed my organ seat,(Leather bound, heavy mahogany furniture) and threw it at my mother, to try to hurt her.

I grabbed my fathers throat and said to him that after that stunt I would never play that organ again, so he might as well, send it back to where it came from.

All those years of musical genius went down the drain. And I never touched another keyboard for the whole of my life.

The passion died, because of principle, not because the gift died within me.

When I hear someone talk about a passion that is specific, let’s say, sport, not everybody is cut out to train and compete at the Olympic Level.

The stress of being a young athlete, away from home, not knowing ones asshole from their elbow, and finding the companion of alcohol to fill the whole of the need for external approval, is a killer.

I know this also, the lesson about approval comes to mind with Todd all those years ago, thinking that I needed him to tell me that I did a good job, every time I did a particular job, because I did not trust myself or my inner self. He taught me that lesson, hard and fast.

When you cannot look yourself in the mirror and be kind to ones self and always beating ones self up, always needing someone else to affirm us, is the death knell for mental health and stability.

Oh how the mighty fall. I’ve known athletes who threw in the towel and sabotaged their careers because of drugs and alcohol.

Once you get that Olympic Tattoo on you, you can never remove it. It will always be the constant reminder of who you once were, and where you had been. Only Olympic Athletes get that specific tattoo. it is a rite of passage.

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But we come in and we are messed up emotionally and mentally. Character defects running rampant. Arrogance and egotistical behavior abound, until we hit the proverbial wall of humility and humiliation, because of our attitudes, lies, and cheating.

And if we don’t get right, we will never get sober, ever !

Humility is a long hard lesson to learn for a lot of people, myself included.

But I know what it looks like and feels like today.

We all sabotage our lives with drugs and alcohol. The good news is, that there Is a Solution. One of the only solutions that work …

You – We – Us – Together – In a Church Basement – As often as Necessary !!!

You don’t have to go to the bitter end and sabotage a life of promise, you can always make that choice, for many, they could not make that choice alone.

Save for a few friends who did.

Self Sabotage is a familiar story line.

Sad that such promise went to pot, because of insecurity, ego, arrogance, and cheating.

Olympic careers are made out of a life of hard work, dedication and stamina

Very sad, that such a passion died for one of our young people.

But he is sober a few years now. Regretting nothing, because he is renewed every day.

Because he is with US now.

The Family Afterward

 

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This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.

We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.

Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.

Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.

In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.

Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …

I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.

But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.

As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.

When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.

I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.

I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.

People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.

Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.

Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.

Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment. 

Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.

Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.

But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.

Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.

We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.

The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.

They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.

Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.

Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.

The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.

We all have STEPS.

We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.

When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.

It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.

I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.

I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.

I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.

All three of them tell the same story about me …

To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.

Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.

None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.

And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.

Fuck me for trying …

I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.

She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.

And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.

She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.

I call BULLSHIT on that.

I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.

And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.

And she had the balls to say to me that …
I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???

I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.

I represent nobody or any fellowship.

All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.

Every life matters. No matter who you are.

At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …

I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.

Honesty is always the best policy.

You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.

And say something kind in return.

Monday: Sobriety Through New Eyes

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This past week, a new rotation of working with others began. On Friday night, last, I started a new round of the Big Book, with one of my guys. It is interesting to see how my friends and fellows are growing up in sobriety.

Tonight, I sat with a young lady friend.

I sing her praises often, because I’ve seen her grow up before our very eyes over the past couple of years. I listen to her speak at meetings, and share within discussions, and with that said, I asked her to take me through the book, with her eyes and experience.

The thought when we approach the book, as of late is – Having a New Experience.

From the get go, reading the book with someone new, who is taking you through those hallowed pages, is a gift. I know my lady friend, and this endeavor is for me to learn what she knows, and how she came to know it.

I’ve been through the book with seasoned sober men and women over the past five years. I survived them. I don’t even see any of those men and women from the past, in meetings I go to. That is a thing.

People with A Lot of time under their belts have time, and the method is the same, as the book does not change. What changes is the presentation, and what each presenter believes is important for us, as followers to pay attention to.

My lady friend is a few years in, and I have “years” on her, what I don’t have, is her perspective, from her point of view. Tonight, as we began the read, I have already learned more from what we read tonight, than I had read over all the years I have been sober.

I’ve been lead through the book, with a template that has made the rounds, from sources in New York City. Now, I have a series of passes through the book, with that method. This time I wanted something new.

I get to go through the book, and I am walking one of my guys through the book at the same time, so he will learn, exactly what I am learning from my work.

Double Whammy !!!

Tonight, we hit Step One again, because we hosted newcomers at the meeting. The rule of thumb is, if it is your first meeting, we always default to Step One.

As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether they have entered this dangerous area, let them try leaving liquor alone for one year …

The room snickers together…

If they are a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success…

For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming of course, that the reader desires to STOP… This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – the utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.

When I left home, I really had no practical experience of living alone. I had always lived under someone else’s roof. Namely, my parent roof. I knew right from wrong, at least I thought I did, until it came to alcohol.

An alcoholic will break their standards quicker than they can lower them.

My body was just as fucked up as my brain was. What did I know then? Not Much. Who knew from values and morals, when the desire to drink to excess was the name of the game from the word GO ?

I know a lot of young people, who are working towards sobriety. Every time we hit Step One, I hear more insanity than I am capable of fully understanding.

Who knew, what my life would have looked like, if, on the first pass, when I got sober the first time, had someone like my friends today, had presented me the book, THEN, in the way they present the book TODAY, how different my life would have been.

But I had much bigger fish to fry, back in the day. And eventually, we all get to the point where FATE steps in, and God drops out of His heaven and says … STOP.

I was gifted with the word STOP, when it counted. It was the messaging that did not welcome me when it mattered. Nobody, I knew THEN, knew the book, as we KNOW the book TODAY.

I committed to my road. Or more to the point, my road committed to me, because it was ME that made those decisions based on self, and my base desires. We know today, that if it isn’t water, food, or sleep, it’s all about US.

And we have to be vigilant about ourselves when it comes to everything else, that does not have to do with staying alive, rudimentary.

IT NOT ABOUT GETTING SOBER IT IS ABOUT CONNECTING WITH THE POWER THAT IS GETTING ME SOBER.

Each of us is destined for that psychic change that will guarantee us hope. Then we can cultivate values IN a Power Greater than Ourselves.

One of my friends, a few months in, does not know if he GETS Higher Power. I heard him say tonight, though, he is months sober now. He landed a stellar job, by fluke. Before, he was into hard drugs, then alcohol, then he hit rock bottom.

Before he would say … The only thing I look forwards to is Friday night, so I can go out and get hammered. NOW, he says quite confidently, that He looks forward to Friday because he hits our meeting, on Friday night.

On Sunday’s he works in a soup kitchen in a homeless shelter every Sunday. Later on Sunday night, he hits his Home Group, Golden Slippers, where he does service, every week. We ingrained in him, Home Group, service to humanity, service to others in the room, sponsor and the book.

There is the obvious shift of perception.

Higher Power is doing for him what he could not do for himself.

I am extremely proud of my friend. It takes a village, and when he walked in, the village rose to meet him, along with all the others. I pay critical attention to him, because of who he is, the chosen profession he works in and also, he crossed my path at the right moment. I am engaged 100%.

Knowing his back story, tells me that if he fails, he has MUCH to lose. And we cannot let him fail. This is entirely on him. As long as we are present, daily, failure is NOT an Option.

There is much gratitude in the air tonight.

Friday: G.O.D. Group Of Drunks

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It has been an interesting week. I’ve always wondered when the other shoe was going to drop for me. Medically …

It seems 50 is going to bring me challenges that I was not expecting in any way. Over the past few months, I have had episodes of serious pain, in my back. So severe that I had to get serious pain killers. Thankfully, I’ve only had to take one so far.

I’ve been to see a osteopath, and she worked on me for an hour a few weeks ago, so I have access to her as often as needed. At $100.00 a visit, that ain’t cheap. But insurance now covers 80%.

Two weeks ago I saw my doctor. who went into my image file when I had my osteoporosis check up and bone density tests and my x-rays of my back, and he missed this little problem, when those tests were done, because we were not looking for a problem, with my bones. So it was overlooked.

He looked again, now that I presented pain issues in a location that had not, in the past bothered me. And he found bone deterioration disease in my spinal column. Namely in L 3-4 and 5. On Sunday last, I had a CT scan on my back. This week, my doctor told me that I really needed to be seen by a spinal surgeon. He therefore took that scan to a consult with said spinal surgeon, that I am still waiting to hear from.

With that said, I am on desk duty. No heavy lifting of furniture, which means that set up has come to an abrupt end. I had to call in the reserves to help me out. My friends all stepped up to do what I cannot do any longer.

Thank God I can still make coffee …

Tonight we read about the fellowship and its humble origins. Appropriate that I started a new round of Big Book study, with one of my guys, before the meeting tonight. A.B.S.I. touched on that topic tonight.

We Should Not Toot Our own Horns, nor take credit and be self-congratulatory.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time. I am not the center of the universe. There is a God, and I know that I am NOT God.

What we cannot do alone, we can do, sitting in a room with our friends, together. If I pray, if we pray, it does not matter to WHOM we are praying, but that we ARE Praying.

A very respected old-timer once said that in a meeting …

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHOM YOU PRAY TO, ONLY THAT YOU PRAY…

It’s that simple.

I also know that if I pray to God, which I do … And I don’t get a direct answer from God, then I know I have to hit a meeting, and listen to my friends. With the proviso that if I go seeking an answer, I have to be attuned to listen for that voice coming from around me.

We take very seriously the work we do as a group, on Friday night. And when one of our people fades, and hits the skids, everybody steps into action. On Monday, I went to the meeting and met a friend, sitting on the periphery. Looking forlorn and lost.

She had drunk again.

Not long before, she was standing up front handing out Beginners chips…

I asked her what happened ? She told me.

Giving someone sober directions, while in an alcoholic stupor, does not work.

I gave her sober advice any ways. Welcomed her, told her we loved her and asked her to sit within the group, and NOT on the periphery.

She did not make it through the meeting in one piece.

She left before I could get to her, by the end. I did not see her go.

Tonight, as a group we spoke about what we can do together, and how we all keep RIGHT SIZED, and everything in perspective. That perspective only works when where are sitting in the same room together.

At the end of the meeting another friend took her two-year cake.

As the crowd of congratulations dispersed, my young lady was standing in front of me, all smiles. She has been sober three days. She thanked me for speaking to her and keeping her within the group circle and not having tossed her aside because she drank again.

She took a chip on Wednesday night.

What we cannot do alone, we CAN DO together.

It takes a village …

And we are a village, for sure.

You never know when you are going to save a life.

Constant Vigilance !!!

Story Time (In a Galaxy Far Far Away)

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I’ve been pondering telling this story for a long time. It is a story from my younger life, that I think, was one of the best times in my youth.

When times get tough, and you need a place to go to get away, this could not have come at a better time in my life.

The last incarnation of home came in my sixth grade year, about at the halfway mark, we moved to the last place we would all call home. My father’s upwardly mobile life was still on its way up.

I have said, in the past, that when my father was good, he was Very Good.

My father worked very hard at being good. And he made his mark in the area of goodness, whenever he put himself forwards. And I have to commend him when I speak about his goodness, because it seemed that he could not have done worse, if he tried.

My brother and myself were actively involved in-house hunting. We looked at several really nice houses, in areas close to where we ended up. When it came down to choice, the Power’s House sealed the deal. It was in the right neighborhood, with great schools, close to shops, stores and restaurants, and access to highways was a block away.

The house had three bedrooms, 2 car garage, an acre of land, and most importantly, it had a screened in pool. We had hit the big time for sure. My father had earned his keep, and produced the best home he could afford. Along with my mother’s salary included.

I attended the last half sixth grade here.

The Big Change would come when I completed sixth grade and graduated to Junior High School. From the sixth grade, we were all taken on several field trips to the new school, to learn the lay of the land, and to make the transition as smooth as possible. It would be a whole new world.

Six classes a Day – Gym – Locker Rooms – Lockers – BOYS !!!!

Southwood Junior High, now Southwood School for the Performing Arts, was a bike ride from home. You could do the ride in about half an hour. That worked. The school was only a year old when I began seventh grade.

I did not know that there was anything wrong with me, until the first day of school, when it came to gym. The girls had their locker room on one side of the school, the boys on the other. We had seen it, before. But until I was a student here, that was a different story.

The first day I had to change my clothes in the company of other boys, I knew, for SURE that there was something wrong with me. I had crossed that invisible line into gay, that very day. I certainly was different. I knew it. I just did not tell anyone else about it.

I knew, that GAY would never fly at home, so for the next six years, I played the straight game, to the best of my ability because there was no other option.

By this stage of the game, and time, our family became one of four families, who hobnobbed with my step mom and step dad. It was there, that we were introduced to living Homosexuality, in real-time. My father was no fan of The Gays. Which is where all of his most savage abuse was born.

I said above, that when my father was good, he was Very Good. And what he gave with one hand, he took with the other. He had a dedicated room in the house where he dispensed his abuse.

It got so bad, at one point, that I could not find any place to hide at home. I bought a dead bolt and put it on my bedroom door. That pissed my father off, so much so, that he took the entire door off its hinges. I could not run, I could not hide.

If I did not physically leave the house, I was fair game.

For the next six years, I spent countless hours, days and weeks, sleeping at friends houses. Their parents kind of knew, that I was in serious trouble. That worked in my favor, even when, in high school, my best friend and his brothers, were going to a private Catholic Boys school, far away from where we lived. I would sleep away, and commute to school and back there at the end of the day. I did not go home for weeks.

When Junior High began, the teachers and staff, figured out that I was particular. I had certain needs that NEEDED to be met. And over time, those very teachers, stepped up and did for me, what I could not do for myself.

Having KEYS, is a theme in my life. Keys, play a distinct role in my life. To this day, I am the keeper of certain keys, to certain church basements, here in Montreal.

Back then, in junior high, I was given certain keys. I was a kid, with keys.

If I was home, I would get up before dawn, and take care of what needed to be done at home, I would then, get on my bike, and ride over to the school. As usual, there was a teacher on door duty, early. I think, they knew I needed help. So there was someone there to receive me whenever I arrived.

I was a junior high geek, you could say. I inserted myself into school life early on. Seventh grade was all about figuring it out. What I was going to do, and how I was going to do it. I always had to have a plan. I knew all the ins and outs by the time I hit eighth grade.

Science was my department. I became a teachers assistant, as soon as I was able. It was actually a class. You had one period during your day where you could sit along side a teacher, and be a (Teachers Assistant).

By that time, the science department was my home away from home. I had the key to the Science Department Teachers lounge. Each department faculty had a dedicated teachers lounge (upstairs) on the floor.

Being a teacher’s AIDE came in very handy. Because once you had attained that position, you could, use that position to get out of ANY class you needed to. Gym, was the bane of my existence. I went to gym, when it served me. I played Soccer, baseball, football on occasion. And I wrestled for a while. I participated when it was necessary. I had gym either first thing in the morning, or last period of the day. If I had to shower, it was dicey. I had abject fear of showering in front of other boys. At the same time, I was fascinated with boys too.

I had certain alliances with certain friends, who played certain roles in my life.

Anytime it rained outside, I had an out. Anytime I wanted to skip gym, I had a way out. All I needed was to present my teacher’s aide card to a teacher, and say those magic words: “I need to grade papers …”

Worked like a charm every time.

By the end of ninth grade, I had skipped gym all together. They gave me a C in gym that final year, because by then, I was never in class any more.

Nobody knew, I was gay. At least that I knew of. I never asked any one. And nobody ever said a word to me personally. And I am confident, not one teacher asked my parents about it either. Because my father would have flipped his lid, and then I am sure I would have heard about it.

So every morning, I was riding to school, one to two hours earlier than when the typical school day began. I had keys to the department. And I was racking up brownie points all over the school. I worked like a mad man. I was a good student. I did better in Junior High than I did in High School. most definitely because Alcohol had not yet been introduced as a pain-killer. I did not start drinking regularly until High School.

I loved Junior High School. I loved the teachers, I had good friends. And also, I was safe. nobody could touch me at school. I think teachers have an innate sense that particular students have needs. They must have known, when I started showing up before hours, that something was up at home. Not that I remember ever stating that for sure to them.

I think they knew better. (All this in retrospect)

I was a musical student. I played piano. I had music courses. I performed every year in the Superintendents Musical Honors Festival. My father went so far, to gain my good graces, was to buy me an organ, that over six years, was graduated to the next Bigger organ, because I also had private lessons. As long as I played “The Entertainer” on that organ at home, my father would leave me alone.

I was a really good organist. On the outside I was performing in yearly concerts that were put on by the musical school I was taking lessons at. As I rose through the ranks of organs and pianos, the Brass Ring was always there.

The ultimate goal, was to reach the ranks of professional student and play the REALLY BIG ORGAN, that was always reserved for the best kid on the block, who would bring down the house at every concert.

I never got there.

The night my drunk sodden father picked up the leather padded seat and threw it at my mother, in a drunken rage, was the last day I ever touched that organ.

FOREVER !!!!

I took one look at him that night and said: “You crossed a line. I will never play that organ again. Send it back where it came from.”

My father never forgave me. And I never played another note, for the rest of my life.

Probably one of my greatest regrets. Music could have gotten me somewhere, if i had the forethought to had thought about it then, but didn’t. I was just a kid. I did not have sight for the future yet. I still lived at home for God’s sake.

By the time I graduated from Junior High School, I along with a friend of mine were nominated for a service award. This would be the first graduating class of the school, and the first nominations for both a girl and a boy, in the same award year.

Michelle and myself were awarded the American Legion Award for Exemplary Service to the School Community.

All those brownie points I accrued over the years were paid off in spades.

For what it’s worth, for all the bad that went on at home, in exchange for all the good we were given, School was a very safe place for me to be and I prospered there in every way possible.

High School was not that good at all. I did not have the opportunities that I had the three years before. And Alcohol had become an issue.

I just barely graduated High School in the end, all because I told the truth, about a cheating scandal that rocked one of my teachers in 12th grade.

I had drunk my way through High School, along with a stint in Youth Group. Where the school played a role in keeping me safe years earlier, the church had stepped up to do the same, which is why, after graduation, I ended up in Seminary.

God, it seemed, had a job for me. One I was ready and willing to do.

While in seminary, I witnessed abuses by church members. I knew the secret, and was warned about sharing them with anyone. At the end of that year, I was dismissed.

Very Angry at God, I got very drunk, for a very long time.

But the next chapter of this story has yet to be written down here.

Sunday Sundries: Anniversary Thoughts

sixteen

I made it. Sixteen years clean and sober.

  • 16 Years
  • 5,840 days
  • 832 Weeks
  • 192 Months
  • 140,160 Hours
  • 8,409,600 Minutes

I thought that a plan of attack was warranted for Thursday night. To go out there and stand before a room full of people, and take THEIR inventories.

I wrote it all out, so I could just stand there and read a prepared statement of facts.

The last time I wrote out a script, I made a complete ass of myself at that particular meeting. Friday night, I told my friend Angie what I was planning to do and had done already. She just shook her head at me, and said,

NO … That’s not what you are going to do.

During the meeting my friend Old Peter spoke about steps. Step 5, we admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the EXACT nature of our wrongs. Step 6, were entirely ready to have God removes these defects of character, and Step 7 HUMBLY asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Thursday night, last, I went to bed with an axe to grind. Which kept me up all night, and pushed me to get out of bed, and write a script, I had intended to deliver to people who seriously, fucked me over, over the past year.

My friend Peter spoke about how he likes to take out his resentments out of his pack, and polish them up, like gem stones. I do the very same thing.

The other problem I have is that I always want to have my day in court. To play prosecutor, judge and jury. In some corner of my mind, the only way I can move on with my life, is to tell people who seriously, fucked me over, what I really think of them, and how I want God to ZOT them off the face of the earth.

Angie tells me that to be truly, happy, joyous and free, I need to let these defects and shortcoming go, or they are going to consume me and push me one day, God forbid, to drink again.

There it is. The truth about the mind of an alcoholic who has some time. Even with time, everybody has problems, and they don’t go away. The Work of Steps and Sponsors, are to make sure we do not act rashly, on defects and shortcomings.

I stayed sober, even when people turned their backs on me. I stayed sober despite them. And I’ve spent years studying my alcoholic counterparts like LAB RATS.

I know them, intimately. Probably more intimately, than they know themselves. This blog is a running record of everything I have heard, every story that has been told, every failure experienced, every success recorded.

I know everything my friends do, when they speak, in front of me. They may not know that even if I do not say a single word, in a meeting, I am recording everything they say, in my memory, so that when I get home, I can write it all down for posterity.

Lorna Kelly, has spoken at great length about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa knew about every kind of suffering known to man, and she knew how to help that suffering. The only segment of the population that she could not tap were the Alcoholics.

WHY ? Because she did not have a story. She did not have the words, that we do, those words are: “I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

Over these past eighteen months many, many people, heard me sob, cry, talk and rant, over and over. NOT ONE OF THEM said those words to me, ever.

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I DID !

I stayed sober despite their apathy and inaction. I stayed sober, because of the way I witnessed them treating me in public. I was warned a long time ago about my fellow alcoholics.

THEY MIGHT HAVE TIME, BUT MANY OF THEM ARE NOT SOBER !

Many people have time, but the God’s honest truth is, they aren’t very sober.

I have to speak about gratitude and humility and thankfulness.

I stayed sober, and this is how I achieved that, on all of your backs.

Plain and simple.

If it were not for them, there would be no US, and no ME.

My friends have my back. They’ve told me what I should do.

People know what they did, and how they acted. I don’t need to remind them.

It’s all good.

Christmas is coming. Snow is on the ground here in Montreal. And more is on the way this week. Hopefully we will have a white Christmas.

More to come.