Memories of a Time Gone By – Crazy S.O.T.B.

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Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale.

I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Angry Larry…

When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.

People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.

For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.

I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.

Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.

We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.

Let’s get it on…

Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.

One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.

So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.

Todd saw to it that I would never go there…

You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.

I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…

I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…

Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.

I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.

But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.

And forgiven by God…

Amen

Goodnight angels of men

In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.

Only child know…

A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.

But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…

Cray…cray…cray…

…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!

If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.

But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
Crazy…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…

Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…

Oh…
Oh…

Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…

Oh darlin…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Crazy…
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…

Ohh…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…

And then you see things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

They’ll break it

Someday…

Only child know….

Them things
The size
Of which you’ve never known before

Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…
Someway…
Someday…

A Little More Sober …

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It has been miserably HOT here. It has been more than a week of high 30’s into the mid 40’s with humidexes in the high 40’s. We broke several records this week. And they are saying, on the news that upwards of 44 people in the province are dead, because of the high heat.

We have too many apartments without AC across the city. And even some of our oldest hospitals were in serious jeopardy without AC in patient rooms. Many people IN those hospitals almost died, and all the medical services could offer was a sponge bath and a twice daily walk through corridors that had air, to keep sick patents alive.

It has been very ugly for sure. We have been waiting on God to make it rain, BIG TIME tonight. The severe storm warnings went up early today, but not a drop has fallen on the city as of 2:25 am. But the weather people tell us it will be in the 20’s tomorrow.

It rained once 5 days ago, and for all of ten minutes. I mean the rain fell, but as it hit the ground it evaporated on the steaming pavement below. It did not a drop of good.

I am working on another round of steps with a young lady of my acquaintance. She is a few years sober, but she is a wealth of insight. Tonight I saw another lady friend of mine at the meeting earlier, and shared with her an observation I made of something she said last week, at another meeting. And told her I was working with my young lady friend. My friend is sober a while now. And confirmed for me this thought …

The number of old timers, to “work with” has been slim on the ground. Many of our old timers have fallen off the radar as of late, OR, they are in rabbit holes of their own making. We’ve been trying to help them all when we can.

But my elder lady friend said that she read through the book with another young woman, who was sober just a few years, as they read together, and she told me that it was very humbling for her to sit with someone younger in the program than she was.

I have found that my young lady friend, has perspective on the book, that I have never seen or heard before. I have more notes in my book tonight, than I had written in that very same book, all the years I’ve been reading this particular copy.

I wrote an inventory, and we went over it Tuesday evening. I had followed her directions, but when we got to the end of what I had written, she said, what about the rest of it ? And I said to her, what about it ?

She said to me that I needed to do a fears inventory along with my sex inventory as well, as stated in the book, as it is written. She asked me if I had ever really completely completed a proper 4th step before ? I said no.

She said that she needed to look at my history to see if any issues, based on the already spoken inventory had bled over, and if I didn’t complete the step entirely, then it was not properly done.

Not one human I have ever sat with ever said those words to me, because I know we are all reading the same text, that hasn’t changed in 80 years.I guess this is my chance to really work steps fully and properly.

Nobody I have ever worked with before, ever ventured through the entire step 4 as it is written in the book. I laughed and said that I’ve never sat with a straight male sponsor who ever broached those two inventories with me.

I don’t think any of them wanted to know my exact honest history, so to speak. She sent me home to write it all out, for the first time in forever.

This evening I told my lady friend at the meeting about this conversation I had had with my younger lady friend, and she said to me, Then she IS the one person who knows what she is doing, follow what she tell you to do. So I am going to sit this portion on Monday evening with her.

My young lady friend got sober in Chicago, and has certain perspective about The Work. I sat and wrote the other day, stuff I haven’t thought about in eons.

A side story …

A long time ago, in years nine and ten, I was home grouped in a meeting on the far west west end of the city. There, at that time, was a group of hens who had, at that time, thirty plus years of sobriety each. They took me in and showered me with care. But there was something not just right about the people, in that space.

They celebrated my tenth anniversary with me. They dipped my two year chip in gold, and had it engraved for me as a gift for my tenth.

Soon after, I had an encounter with a member that was toxic and dangerous. It did not end well, and I was only so sober at that time. I promptly resigned from the group and gave back my keys and never spoke to any of them again, since.

And now I know, seven years later, that I was not very sober then, knowing what I know now about sobriety and myself.

For the last seven years, every time I cross paths with certain women from that older group, they ignore me like I do not exist. It happened not long ago that I was visiting Verdun for a series of meetings, and they came all the way from the West end to Verdun, and sitting outside, they all walked past me like I was not even there. Which bothered me intensely. But I shrugged it off …

Tonight, one of the matrons from that West End meeting spoke tonight for us at St. Matthias. After the meeting ended I visited the bathroom, and prayed.

I came out and strode up to our speaker, One of those women that ignore me in public spaces, and I said to her that “I remembered her kindnesses to me. I carry my ten year chip in my wallet and that I thought about her often, and I did not forget her kindness.

Then I added that – at ten years sober, in my experience now, I may have accrued ten years of time, But at that time, I had not accrued, ten years of sobriety, just yet. I know that now.

And I told her that. I told her that I really did not begin to grow up fully, until hit the twelve year mark and a sponsor in New York City, set me on the path to enlightenment. And I know from twelve to almost seventeen years this year, I have grown up a great deal. She asked me how I was feeling, and I said I felt good.

She shook my hand and we left it at that.

Upon reflection of that little conversation, I made an amend to that woman, seven years in the making.

Let’s just say this round is proving to be very difficult but freeing at the same time, as the days pass by, I learn something new about myself. I guess because I am paying attention to God.

Last week, at the same meeting, I was talking to another friend, we were talking about care giving, and I mentioned a story about my father. When I was young, and my grammy had a stroke, he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital.

I firmly believe in my soul, to this day, with what little we knew about strokes in the early 80’s … That if he took me to her bedside and she recognized me, that she would, in essence, wake up. (in the end, she did not wake up) And my friend said to me, that night that my father had a moment of clarity, in his alcoholism.

He knew in that moment he made that decision, clearly from someplace, outside of himself, that i was the key to her recovery. And he also knew that grammy loved me more that anyone else, which is why he flew me out there.

I went home, angry and conflicted. And brooded over it.

When grammy did not wake up or get better, and we came home, that alcoholism and the abuse escalated seriously. I don’t think he ever forgave me for failing his quest. I will never know now.

Friday when I left for the Friday meeting, I was not really feeling myself, but I did what I always do. I opened the cabinet and took out our coffee pot, and as I turned back around, to walk towards the kitchen, a single piece of paper fell to the floor face down.

Now, I was not feeling myself, and I was emotionally off kilter, so to speak. I picked up the paper and turned it over in my hands and began to read the article printed on it.

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It was an article about the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset Vermont. It does not appear on ANY map, and if you need to go there, or even want to go there, you first need to know where you are going, by the highway systems through the mountains and valleys of Vermont. Which made me ponder the memory of three years earlier.

My then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and myself were on our way to a men’s intensive retreat. On the way, we stopped in East Dorset to visit that house: the home, the entire property.

I was immediately put straight … It was a message from outside of myself, reminding me that I am never alone.

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We even visited the hallowed graveyard where Bill and his wife Lois are buried. We stood on his grave with a group of women, there for a retreat themselves on the property. and recited the serenity prayer standing around their graves.

That memory is seared into my brain.

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Over the past few months, little signs from God have been coming to me fast and furiously, over several mediums. I have speakers loaded onto my phone. And for about a month, my I-phone shuffle would send me one particular share from a woman I met in 2012, whom I adore, who was friends with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Anyways, my phone kept shuffling her to me in the oddest moments, over an entire month. I suspected that I needed to hear something she said, which is why that one share kept rotating into my playlist over and over again. Because I guess, once was not enough, I kept listening to her talk to me. That proved to be very beneficial to me looking back at it now.

Not sure where all of this is going … This week is anniversary number 24 of my AIDS diagnosis in 1994. I’m still alive, and God has been talking to me quite often, funny that, I hear Him. I recognize the voice and the messages coming, as they come to me. From whomever they are coming from. I know, if it is coming from outside of me, then it must be Godly advice.

Funny how God works.

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.

Sitting on Step Work

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A very long time ago, when I got sober, this time around, I took every piece of advice I was given as Gospel. I never questioned anyone about their wisdom, or what they knew. If they were sober longer than I was, then everything that came out of their mouths was Gospel. Back in the day, it was very different, than how it is today.

I’m not sure if it is all about me, or all about them ?

I heard a friend of mine speak tonight, and I’ve been in a holding pattern for two years, waiting for God to show me, who I am supposed to speak to next. After the meeting I spoke to that friend, and told him some things about my observations.

I’m sitting on my fourth step. And it’s about to blow.

Like I said, a long time ago, I heard one piece of advice when it came to steps …

“When you write out your fourth Step, get rid of it promptly. Do Not Sit On It for very long, because the written word is like TNT. If you allow it to gather in your brain, and fester for too long, prior to doing your fifth step, disaster is coming … SOON !!!”

I took the day to sit and pray. To Sit and Listen to an Old Timer, I met in person, here in Montreal. One of two alcoholics, who presented sobriety from someplace else, to us here.

One was a woman, who was sober more than thirty-five years upon her death in 2016. The other is a long sober man, who changed my life, with one piece of advice. For these two specific people, I have their shares on my phone. And in my I – Tunes.

A while back, and I wrote about this then, that I have been going through serious heartbreak, and it has been a very emotional journey over the last two years. I was in the mall, grocery shopping one afternoon, listening to music, as I am wont to do.

Funny that my I – Phone, when it is on shuffle, does strange things that I cannot explain, because since the day I put music and shares on my phone, not once, did that shuffle bring me a speaker in the music rotation shuffle program. It never shuffled there before.

All of a sudden, like a voice from heaven, it shuffled me Lorna. It not only did it once, it kept repeating this action, five times over two weeks. I thought it funny, but I stayed on and listened to her talk to me, as if there was something I needed to hear. During this time, I needed spiritual help, that wasn’t coming from my own personal community, and hasn’t yet …

Today, as I ate lunch, I went to a virtual meeting, with Lorna speaking.

The thing that popped out today was this thought …

It’s not the newcomer that we should worry about. It is the person with TIME, real-time, that they need to be looked after. This thought rings true today. My patience for old timers runs short, because of the way I am treated in community by a good number of folks with serious time. The other, is the rate of old timers going down the proverbial rabbit hole themselves. I’ve written about this before.

Tonight I told my friend that I’ve been doing the next right thing, because that’s what I was taught to do from the very beginning. They told me service will keep you sober, that if you have anything on your heart or mind, then, bring it to a meeting.

Without the counsel of a sponsor with merit or anyone for that matter, I’ve been relying on my close circle of friends to keep me “On the beam.” I go to meetings, because I have responsibilities to those meetings, by way of service commitments.

I know, that if I don’t know, then I need to go to a meeting and do service. Because that’s all I know how to do, because it works. I suit up and I show up. I offer kind words to my friends, I offer advice where I think it might stick. Often it does not stick, because people look at me and smile that smile of … Thanks but no thanks …

I know today, that one particular young woman, from our Monday meeting is still sober because I gave her one piece of advice when she was in difficulty, and it stuck, and she is still sober to this day, despite herself.

I’m not sure what to do with heartache that won’t be soothed. I don’t know what to do with the fact that people I need to speak with, don’t want to speak with me. I’ve heard it said recently that

“Sometimes God breaks our heart to save our souls.”

That resonated with me sooo much. There are facts about my life that I cannot change. Perceptions that people have about me based on who I used to be, and decisions I made about my life

“Life preservation decisions, that I thought were tantamount to my physical, mental, and spiritual survival.”

That’s how someone showed me that making life preservation decisions are not ego driven, nor wrong, nor self-centered.

Some people have me stuck in the past, and have had me stuck in the past for the whole of my life. They blame me for all of THEIR problems, never wanting to hear my side of the story, that would explain WHY I made the decisions I did, and whom forced me to make those decisions because I felt I was trapped in a life and a title and a family name that was doing me no favors, when those people constantly parroted the words:

YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN, YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT. AND WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE ALREADY, FOR GOD’S SAKE … GOD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE ISSUES.

This litany of vitriol made me sick inside. It made me feel less than and unimportant. I may not have been SO sober the first time around, but the first of two life preservation decisions were made. The second followed the second time I got sober. Admittedly, I was much more sober the second time around when I made that decision, than when I made the first. Chalk that up to more experience and hindsight.

I have never felt so much anger, resentment, hatred, and fear, and also on the flip side, so much happiness, compassion and joy,  I have felt in sobriety.

Lorna said that and it resonates with me so much. Because when she rotated into my shuffle, I needed to hear those exact words when they came at me when they did and the right moment for the right reason.

Whispers from heaven indeed.

I’m resentful at other gay men in the rooms, who have no use for me. Men who belittle me and slander me behind my back and talk shit in my face, calling me names and judging me in front of others.

I am from a generation of gay men, whom my contemporaries have no idea OF or use FOR. AIDS distinctly puts me in a class by myself because I am the ONLY AIDS survivor from that time period STILL ALIVE today in this city, on the English side.

I am resentful at old timers who spurned me and humiliated me in front of others, then castigated me for having emotions and openly sharing them in open community, when I lost emotional control over the Pulse Nightclub shooting, that turned my emotional world upside down. Too concerned about what I am wearing on the outside, instead of what is going on inside my head and in my heart. A little fucked up if you ask me.

Instead of anyone, even the gay men I know, who DID NOT SAY those words of everlasting life:

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

Not in over two years now, has ANYONE. not one of my friends here, shared those words with me to assuage my intense emotional being inside, and that breaks my heart into pieces. I don’t understand people. They are self-absorbed and self-centered. They don’t really care about me, as I have seen from many people.

They will smile that “thanks but no thanks smile” when they walk in a room, but beyond that one pleasantry because we sit in the same room together for that hour, they have no use for me and want nothing from me, nor offer me anything of substance beyond their criticism.

I AM A STRONG PERSON, BUT SOMETIMES I REALLY NEED SOMEONE TO TAKE MY HAND AND SAY TO ME THAT EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT !!!!

Why is that so hard for some people to even consider, seeing how much many of us suffer in silence in the rooms, and even when we say that out loud, nobody steps up and says anything of substance to us.

I mean why are you even sitting in a room acting like you are sober, when clearly you are not. And you are just taking up space, where someone who really wants it, waits in the wings for that seat you are occupying, while doing nothing to better yourself !

For God’s sake, I am trying my damnedest to be the best man I can be, by studying my friends like lab rats. Because if you do sobriety like I do, then everybody who sits in a room and or stands and speaks is fair game.

I’ve watched a multitude of people get sober over almost seventeen years and I know mostly everything about them based on every word they have spoken in my presence over the years. I know every choice they made, every decision they made, every bad choice, every good choice, every success and every failure too.

I know what works and what does not work, and all of that is sitting in my sober bank ready for optimal use at any given moment.

THAT IS HOW I GOT SOBER AND THAT IS HOW I STAY SOBER.

By watching my friends either FUCK UP or SUCCEED.

 

There comes a point in sobriety when warming a chair is no longer an option, you either have to SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT !!!

There will also come a time when “Coming and Going,” Looses its appeal and dies. You either come in, sit down and stay, or you go back out and never come back. As was warned by a speaker last week from the chair.

I don’t know what I am doing, but the Next Right Thing has served me well.

Frustrated …

 

The Front of The Book

Sober Concept Wooden Letterpress Type

I’ve said this a few days ago, about myself, and tonight, I can safely say, that the thought rings true for many of my friends.

“We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know what it is that we did not know then, that we know now …”

You don’t hear the same information from people who have significant time, but you do hear significant information from men and women who are DEEP IN THE BOOK, in ways that their contemporaries are not.

I am sitting with a young woman who is taking me through the book, through her eyes and experience. Tonight, I heard a friend of mine, a woman, whom I witnessed get sober, from her very first day, say something that I had never heard before.

It seemed that many people in the room, sat up a little straighter and grabbed their pens and highlighters to mark what she was talking about.

We read tonight from Page 34 … A brief summary in a few sentences:

As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power… Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic…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 wish.

My friend spoke about pages earlier in the front of the book, pages 20 and 21.

The earlier pages of There is a solution, asks several questions, and the hope is that through the power of example the one who reads with us, with ample experience in the book can ask the reader … Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ???

If you have identified with anything in the book, as to the stories and examples the first 100 sober men and women are telling us that, for the reader, there Is a Solution.

The question becomes How to STOP altogether ?

The book then says that a Spiritual Solution is required. And if you are like many of my friends, in the rooms right now, God is a dirty word. But in We Agnostics, the entire chapter speaks to us about finding A POWER Greater than Ourselves.

Whatever is going to help us get and stay sober, one serious psychic and spiritual change must take place. Whatever it is, has got to be something greater than ourselves, and has to come from somewhere OUTSIDE of ourselves. Because we alcoholics know, that left to our own devices, and our own wills, we could not stop on our own, no matter how great the necessity or wish.

An Alcoholic will always find the wiggle room …

The Brilliance of The Big Book is this … And I can speak to this because I know it is true.

Listening to Joe and Charlie tapes for years and years, we know how the book is written. Each chapter is headed with a topic. And each page is written with explicit detail. Each page follows into the next. On each page, each paragraph is written with care.

You can take a chapter, and boil it down to that chapter title. You can turn to any page, and ideas appear on each page. Paragraph follows each paragraph. And within each paragraph are sentences that can be further distilled into single thoughts.

Chapter –> Page -> Paragraph -> Sentence -> Word …

There is rhyme and reason to the way the first hundred men and women composed this book. It is brilliant. Bill did not take this on himself. Which is why each edition of The Big Book is prefaced with the story about the First 100 who successfully got and remained sober till their deaths later on.

There are meetings in Texas that I know of, that they read the Big Book, sometimes One paragraph at a time, One sentence at a time, and even better, One word at a time.

They pick a paragraph, or a sentence, or even a word and they meditate on it, then they all talk about it. I know this because some of my friends who travel for business attended meetings in Texas and had this particular experience with other sober men and women.

On my slip, as I made a slow return to the rooms, I arrived back in Miami. But I was not going to walk into rooms where I had been summarily dismissed and asked to leave and not return. I stayed away, and relocated onto Miami Beach. It was July 2000.

I was off the drugs, because I had left them where they were, more than 1000 miles away. But alcohol was still in play. I had part-time work, that I could not do drunk or hung over, working with computer lights in a nightclub, so I did not drink.

On 9-11 tragedy struck and Miami Beach went DRY for two weeks. All the bars closed, all the liquor stores shuttered. There were no parties, no clubs, no nightlife for two weeks.

On the 14th day out, bar owners thought it wise to raise money for New York City. And the easiest way to get money in the door, was to bargain with the drinkers.

They wanted our donations for New York. And the way they did that was to offer free alcohol based on the amount we donated on each pass at the particular bar location.

We paid dearly for every sacred drop of alcohol that we drank for months after, saying to ourselves, that we were doing something good for New Yorker’s.

The beach drank every drop of alcohol from a radius of 50 miles in every direction.

Mischief Managed …

I wasn’t done drinking. I had not even pondered a return to the rooms, until I was good and ready. When the night came that I uttered that specific prayer to God to bring me an alcoholic, I sat and I waited.

And as God as my witness … A few days later, Troy walked into my place of business to interview for a job. His first words to me were: “I did not drink today…”

I smiled and said how good for you. And left it at that.

I hired him on the spot.

Over the next thirty days, He would come into the shop and preface anything he said or did with the same phrase … “I did not drink today…”

On the thirtieth day, we were together on a furniture run, and I broke my anonymity to him, saying I was on my way back, which he replied without a skip in the conversation that I could come to see him take his first year cake a couple of days later.

That would have been December 9th 2001.

I have not had a drink since.

There is a God, and I am not He.

You might not think God capable of moving heaven and earth for us, but I can safely say that over twenty-six years now, I am still alive, I survived, I am sober a few 24 hours, and that God does move heaven and earth, because He did for me.

And I can safely tell you all this with certitude.

Out of Chaos Comes Order …

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebookEvery night that we sit with the Big Book and read it, repeatedly, eventually hindsight takes place and wisdom appears. This does not happen overnight, because we know that sobriety does not happen overnight.

Everything in its own time they say …

“A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem, we experience the thrill of challenge in the opportunity it affords for another application of A.A. techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprising vigor.” pp 275-276 Ed. 4

We don’t know what we don’t know. I know today, that I have specific insight into who I was, at particular points in my personal story.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned, quite forcefully, how to take care of said home. Cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of a pool and mowing the yard. Grocery shopping and cooking dinners were necessary at times as well.

I knew how to do all those things, before I flew the coop, so to speak.

The problem was, that before I got where I was intending to go, my alcoholism was already there, waiting for me, like it knew me intimately, and had plans for me that I really did not ponder as the moving truck pulled up to the building I was moving into.

The following five years was a blur, until I hit my twenty-sixth year of life, and death was staring me in the face. There were no options, but to kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

That is, until Todd (read: God), stepped into my life.

At the first, as he demanded my sober heart and mind, what I did not know, I did not know, and Todd had to re-educate me. Chaos reigned in my head and I had lost control of my faculties.

I was powerless over the fact that I was going to die, miserably.

Yes, I got sober. But more importantly, I had a job. A job that paid the bills and kept me alive. Keeping me alive trumped meetings, and the people in those meetings. The first year of my sobriety was a horse race that was bet against me by the very same people who were tasked at carrying the message of sobriety to me and making sure I made it.

However, with a number painted on my back and weekly bets being placed on my eventual slip, what was I supposed to do, when I was locked into one meeting location, because in those days, sobriety in Fort Lauderdale circa 1994 was sketchy?

I went to meetings, and did what I had to do to stay sober. All the while, Todd was keeping me alive, against all the odds.

Had Todd not taken me in and taught me everything that I had to learn, again, I would surely have died like everyone else.

We all know this story. When Todd departed my life, I could not keep it together.

On December 9th, 2001, I walked back into the rooms in SOBE.

The first of two major decisions were made. The second would follow very soon after I got sober, with a government invitation to Canada and a Birthright that was mine to claim.

I was not going to make another terrible mistake.

Soberly and gingerly, at 4 months sober, I came to Canada for a visit. I stayed two weeks, went home, packed my few personal items and my clothes and got back on a plane and I did not look back.

The second major life decision was complete.

A very good thing was that during my first visit I had found a home group, a doctor, and a temporary place to live.

I like to say, at this point that, I met all the right people, at all the right moments, for all the right reasons. I had walked into the sobriety circle. And all the right people took me in and cared for me, in ways, that one does not see in today’s sober circles.

Things are just not the same. However hard I try to carry on that tradition myself.

I had rehab to attend. I had a counselor who kept me on the beam. And all I had to do, in that first year, was stay sober. I learned how to build my life around my meetings. To this day, almost seventeen years later, that particular infrastructure is still in play.

The first job I was given, was to set down chairs and tables, then learn how to make damned good coffee. Today, almost seventeen years later, I am STILL setting down chairs and tables and making damned good coffee.

Whatever you place before your sobriety, will eventually FAIL !!!

I have read the book countless times. I have worked steps over and over. I have been to thousands of meetings, and have had thousands of conversations about sobriety.

I know what I did not know, now, when I did not know what I did not know, then.

The proof is in the pudding. If only, (I know I should never utter those words, IF ONLY) someone had the insight into my sobriety, like Todd had insight into my life, things might have turned out very differently. But they did not.

Life had to take the course it took. Because at each point on that chaotic timeline, I had to learn lessons the hard way, because I really was not sober at all, in the first four years I had racked up in time.

I had the TIME. But I surely was not SOBER.

Sad indeed.

I don’t have fifty years of continuous sobriety. like some of the founders in the book, or like the handful of founders I know today. All I have is what I have worked for.

I took it easy. I followed directions. I did not take chances on making stupid mistakes.
I can safely say, that my stupid mistake generator has been offline for a long time now.

Every decision I made in sobriety, was well-tested and advised over, one issue at a time, one decision at a time.

Into years two and three, life threw me several curve balls, but I tackled them soberly.

And in the ensuing fourteen years, we have conquered every obstacle, soberly, together.

I’ve never had to go outside the SOBER circle ever, for anything. ANYTHING.

The Book is correct …

There is no more aloneness, with that awkward ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.

Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.”

Take Away Thoughts

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I’ve been passing around the tapes from the Round Up to my friends who wanted to hear the speakers that were there. Also, I’ve been trying to find the take away’s from the weekend, hoping that I’d find something that I was missing all along.

Last night, after discussing ABSI, about Creative Intelligence and the argument for the existence of that Creative Intelligence, (read: God), my story tends to trump any others tossed on the table.

I can, confidently say that I’ve met God, in the flesh. Spent the better part of two years begin taught how to survive the plague by a man, who, in my estimation, was the incarnation of God, if I say so myself.

Todd knew more about lessons about survival that ANY other human being, who was alive and present, during this very harsh period of time in our lives.

On the way home, Juan and I walked the long route back to the Mount Royal Metro station, which is one station back on the line in the opposite direction he needs to travel home. Streets were closed due to the Tour La Nuit bike ride, and will also be closed on Sunday for the Tour D’ Lisle. (Tour of the Island).

The thought occurred to me, that for a long time, that my observations of sober people, was all about “Alignment …”

Alignment being the congruence of words and actions.

For a long time, I’ve been talking about friends who have become strangers to me. It might be something in the water, but it seems that rabbit holes have been swallowing people whole for a while now.

After my experience at the Round Up with someone who has racked up forty-five years sober, had a totally in-congruent actions.

And I think that is what I have finally picked up on. Character is very important for us, and we say one thing and do another, character is screwed up. The sad fact is that sober people, many of them, have time, some with serious time, yet their actions and words do not align.

I find that terribly unnerving.

Trying to steady my own boat, means, I look for guidance in those around me with a little more time and experience, than I do. I have failed, over the last, long while, to trust anyone with serious time, because of their in-congruence.

I trust my immediate circle of friends. Many of them, have wisdom and character, dignity and honesty that I need in my life. Yet they have fractions of time, that old timers have.

My young friend whom I am reading the book with right now, posted her Ted Talk for us to see. And I was floored by that talk. My lady friend is The Most Honest, and Dignified, woman I have ever known. And I told her that the other night.

I think that if you say something then you should back it up with your actions. I’m really big on that. One, don’t lie to me. Ever! Two, if you tell me you are going to do something, then do that one thing. Three, if you don’t know, then tell me you don’t know.

Don’t spin me a yarn and make me have to try to figure out what you are saying !

What happens now ? I take the collective knowledge of my closest friends and I amalgamate all that knowledge and I use it.

The collective whole is greater than a single human being, who has more time.

Sobriety, right now is relative. It is ever-changing. And not in a good way.

I don’t know how else to explain what I am seeing, than this right now.