Friday: The Closing of Chapter 15

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The weather is just a tad bit cold. A little bitter, and windy. I got a call from Ottawa around 5 informing me that it was snowing heavily on Ottawa, and that traveling to Montreal, might not happen. The second call that came in confirmed that the weather was not going to get better but worse.

I had hoped my best friend would make it. In the end, I will see him tomorrow instead, when driving between cities might be a bit safer.

I left as usual and got all the way to my bus connection at the Laurier Metro, and got in a line that began quite long, as I approached. We waited for half an hour for a bus. The line had gotten smaller, but the thirty minute wait produced over 100 people waiting for the same bus. A few minutes before our confirmed bus pulled up, a first 51 bus dropped passengers up the way from us, and empty, drove right past the waiting people, many ran after the bus trying to make it stop. It did not stop.

When our confirmed bus arrived, the driver opened both doors, and did not charge us for our bus transit fare. Which was very nice. And very appreciated, seeing we stood in the windy cold for half an hour waiting for him to arrive.

Up the line, people collected at the stops we traveled. The bus was packed to the gills, all the way to my stop. I arrived  few minutes late, and cranked it out. Coffee might not have been fully perked by my expected time. But as the bell rung for the start of the meeting, we had a lit light on the urn.

The subject was familiar. And we all knew, as the reading was read, what was going on in all of our heads,c all at the same time. The meeting survived one of the angriest periods in its history. It almost drove the meeting into the ground.

Back then, there was a disconnect between the alcoholics and the addicts. And at one point, with so many addicts coming through our doors, in numbers that pushed to alcoholics to dire straits. One of my best friends was the driving force behind excommunicating the addicts from the meeting and asking them to leave.

I stood my ground and sided with the addicts, because many of them were founders of the meeting, back when it was foundering close to closing. Which drove a huge wedge between many people. My sponsor, then, told me to leave the meeting, keep my mouth shut, not say a word and allow God to do His work.

Five months would pass, and I did not darken the meeting doors. One Tuesday night, as another meeting, the friend who placed his hands on me in serious anger, came to tell me that he was sorry, and apologized for his behavior. He had come to the conclusion that addict or alcoholic, man or woman, gay or straight, trans on in-between, he was wrong to even suggest that they should be barred from the meeting.

That was what God had done for us.

Today the meeting is strong, with a veritable group of souls on a common mission to get clean and sober, one day at a time.

We knew what that reading tonight, reminded us of. And nobody spoke a word of the drama that took place. However, my friend did forget. I did not remind him either.

When the meeting started, my friend Angie was sitting beside me, and i asked her if she would give me my chip so that I could thank my friends who took care of me over the last year and change. She said yes.

As of tonight, the chapter 15 of my story is now closed.

I was reminded of just how scary I was to my friend and what they had thought of me when shit got real. I was a scary motherfucker …

Nobody wanted to touch me or talk to me because everyone was scared of me.

Thank God I got better.

When you don’t know what to do, or where to turn, return to basics.

Service will keep you sober. Every time. Indeed.

My Hasidim brethren blessed my chip before they left.

All is well in the world.

Tomorrow is Star Wars in IMAX.

YAY !

Thursday: Anniversary Celebration

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It is bitterly cold. There is snow piled up all over the place. The city tells us that snow removal will last through Saturday at best. (and still, side streets will not be plowed, so parking is still a problem).

I took an Uber to the meeting.

A year ago, this week, in the dead of Winter, at (-30c) outside, I called a taxi. I was not yet an Uber customer. That night, with a week to go until Christmas, a taxi driver drove me less than 1.5 km from home to the church for the Thursday meeting. That taxi driver had more than one terminal in his car. And our debit cards, here in Montreal, have smart chips in them. A shrewd thief knows that he can tap a maximum amount out of a card, before the fail safe will ask for a pin to complete the purchase. That night, he tapped out $99.00 and 49.99 on two terminals in his lap. And offered me a third terminal to complete the $8.00 fare.

I did not know that this had transpired until I got home that night and $150.00 was missing from my bank account. I called the taxi company and reported the theft. Then I called the bank and stopped payment of funds for those two transactions.

Bank cards are transaction specific. And the bank could tell me exactly what amount was tapped out, at what time, and by whom. Three transactions appeared in my file. Two taps and a manual card insertion.

It took me nearly a week,  and almost threatening a bank employee with turning my Christmas into a complete failure, to get her to release my money the Friday before Christmas.

Hence … I will NEVER take another taxi in Montreal, ever again.

I took the Uber, and got there, Uber early. I cranked out coffee and set up and had time on my hands, until my friends showed up.

To my surprise, the entire group of young people who go to the Monday meeting, all showed up at the Thursday meeting to hear one of our young women speak. I love my young people, they mean with world to me, because I have been blessed to watch them all grow up and get sober.

One of our Thursday women baked me Chocolate Cheese Cake. My friend Juan, gave me my chip, and it was a really great night.

Tomorrow my best friend comes in from Ottawa, and we will do cake and chip all over again for the Friday community.

One cannot but be grateful for the people who show up to celebrate milestones.

 

Friday: Willingness

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It is definitely COLD outside. It is a breezy, cold (-8c/w.c. -16c) We broke out our cold weather gear, scarfs and gloves tonight. It was a quick transit out and back.

I had to double-check my dates earlier today, and quickly organize a chip and cake for one of my guys tonight. Luckily, I had a special chip to give and on the way out bought a card, cake and utensils.

The reading tonight spoke about human will and its value. Willingness became the topic of conversation. We all had our stories to tell.

I know that trusting myself, and what is right and good, took a long time to learn how to trust, and believe that what I had to do and did do was, actually, the right thing to do.

Back in the day, when I needed constant supervision and assistance to learn how to survive a death sentence, Todd was that sound “mind and body” in my life.

Everything he taught me, all those years ago, are still in play to this day. I know today that if I do not know what to do, I close my eyes, and I return to the original lesson that taught me what to do.

I needed someone in my life, to the degree that Todd was in my life, for as long as it lasted. As long as he was looking over my shoulder, I was good.

When he moved away, and I was alone, I could not make the link between what I learned from him, and what I needed to do to carry forwards that practical knowledge. When you leave a fully structured existence and one returns to the real world outside, making that very important connection is crucial.

I failed at finding and making that connection work for me. I just could not find it, in front of me, by myself. And in time, as the messaging and people changed in my life, I walked out the doors of the rooms, taking my will back with it.

I told my friend Dave one of my sordid stories about my slip, before the meeting, sitting with my friend who took his chip tonight. Neither had ever heard me tell that story before. And for the life of me, I cannot fathom how I ended up the person I had become, insane, addicted to drugs and putting myself in situations that could have ended up very badly.

There is a God. I am sure of that today.

When I came back, I was no longer alone. I turned my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him, in the people who helped me clean up that second time.

When I moved to Montreal, I did the right thing, FIRST.

I connected with a room and its people.

Women make the world go round …

I count my blessings that the group of women I turned my life over to, that first year, did what they could to make sure I stayed sober. My rehab counselors, the women in my Home Group, and the many people, men and women, I met along the way.

I am working on my anniversary post right now.

For a long time, in sobriety, I did not trust myself with making decisions, that I did not run past at least a handful of people, before I acted on anything. I did not trust my head nor my decision-making skills.

Early on, I was faced with one drama after another. The shit just kept coming, one day after the next. I was sober a little more than a year, I had begun my university career and my husband was mentally ill.

I stuck to the routine I learned how to do since day one.

I hit a meeting every day, sometimes more than one meeting a day. I did service. I took care of my family, to the best of my ability. I did not really have time to think, but while at a meeting, I learned what I needed to do to NOT DRINK, that day.

As long as I DID NOT DRINK, everything else would fall into place.

I strung days, weeks, and months together, that wound up years.

I learned how to trust God, in trusting my friends.

That plan has played out to my advantage. But my trust in the fellowship and many of its members has fallen to the lowest approval rating in all my sober years.

I’ve never felt such anger, resentment and bitterness towards other drunks. Because that is what they are, just a bunch of crazy drunks.

I know that I do not want to be like any of them. And I also know, what the voice of God sounds like, because like we are told, constantly, that:

If you want to hear the voice of God, then go to a meeting.

Today I trust myself. More than I have ever trusted myself before.

There is a God and I am not God.

Thanks be to God for that.

Friends celebrated two and three years tonight. There was cake.

We all laughed and had a glorious night.

Step Eleven says that: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

If sobriety has taught me anything, it is that a Spiritual life and Spiritual practice make everything better. As long as I stay out of my will, and connect daily with God’s will, everything will work itself out – in God’s time.

God’s time is perfect.

We surely need the perfect to guide us, in today’s world of utter despair and insanity.

The world is coming apart at the seams.

This is what dishonesty does to the world when it exponentially explodes out of control.

The Most Grown Up thing She’s ever done

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Tonight, St. Matthias Celebrated 70 years. That’s 70 years of meetings in the same location, beginning in 1947. Montreal Sobriety began back in 1945, with Dave B.

He was a sole alcoholic back in the day. And from one member we moved to a small group that ballooned to twenty members here in Montreal. There were, at that time, only three meetings on the English side.

St. Matthias was born from those three meetings. If you extrapolate over the decades, at a head count of thirty souls sitting in a room, we’ve held over 4,000 meetings, and helped countless men and women over the years. Thousands of people.

At the end of the meeting we held a Sobriety Countdown. All totaled together, we had over 3,145 years of sobriety, and 14 days. With one young man, counting his first day sober.

I know many of our young people. I’ve seen them come in, and not be sure that they are really alcoholic. Because how many young people come in and stay on the first pass ?

Not many.

But those who do make it past their first meeting and stay, the odds are very good that they will stay. It also helps, if, in tonight’s speaker, you have women who stand up and welcome you, and sit with you, and align themselves with you, as our speaker had tonight.

I know this young woman, albeit, from afar. I’ve seen her work. I’ve seen her in service, and I see her in meetings. And every time she speaks, where ever that is, I listen, very intently.

Tonight, my young lady friend became a woman.

Tonight, in listening to her speak, I told her that tonight, was the most grown up thing she has ever done in her life.

The young woman she was when she came in, has been in flux for a while now. I noticed she was in flux, I watched the transformation happen. But I did not know the finer points of the why ? Tonight, I know the why.

I’ve never heard a young woman get up and share the pain I heard tonight. I’ve never heard someone get up and own all of her story like that.

Because when she came in, she hated herself and all she wanted was to die.

It was that still, small, disconnected voice, the day she began this journey that said to her, “You know, you really don’t want to die …!”

She heard the voice, and she took action.

It was the best choice she ever made, because it brought her to tonight.

The best part of her share … “I am so grateful that today, I love myself.”

People talk about loving themselves in a disconnected way. We hear about learning to love ourselves. I believe that only through the furnace of pain and transformation, can we even begin to know what loving ourselves feels like from deep within.

I told her that what I heard from her tonight, was the most grown up thing that she has ever done in her life. That if ONE woman heard the words that were spoken, and if ONE woman walked out of tonight’s meeting and does something for herself, and if ONE woman was touched by what she heard tonight, then our speakers job was complete.

I could not have been any prouder of my young lady friend tonight.

And I told her so.

That might have changed her life. You never know.

People might not want to hear anything I have to say in general, but I am a good judge of character, and I’ve got some time, so take it for what it is.

All it takes is one sentence.

And I choose my sentences wisely, when they matter.

Friday: You’re Smart, Figure it out

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My friends seem to think that I have the answers I need, inside. Several friends have suggested I find someone (outside) the room to talk to. Which I have done already.

I know what is going on with me, right now. I said it on the way home.

They say, that prior to your sober anniversary, usually at the thirty-day mark out, the rat gets on the wheel, and that wheel spins at 100 miles per hour.

We call it The Pre- Cake Roller Coaster.

Those of us with time, can usually diagnose this in our friends, coming up the pike.

It is obvious to me tonight, that the rat has been on the wheel in my head for weeks now. It’s self-centered behavior I am exhibiting. I am consumed with people, places and things.

Over the last eighteen months I’ve sat in several rooms, and watched people react to my emotional insanity. And I see how my “so-called friends” treat me in meetings.

I hate people. Well, some of them.

I don’t know why I care about what people think of me. I should know better, yet I don’t.

My friend, on the way home, said to me that … He reminds me that I have all this time, and that I should know better. I have the answers, I just need someone with TIME, serious TIME, to bounce my ideas off of.

Old behavior, Old ways, still rear their ugly head. Because when I got sober, this time around, I had people, connected to me, all the time, like around the clock. Which only lasted so long.

Old timers, some of them, have proven to me that:
You might have the time, but you certainly are not sober.

Tonight, good friends celebrated anniversaries. One of them, my long sober lady friend, took her THIRTY year chip tonight. THIRTY years are a BIG chunk of time.

There are a couple of other men, who are up there, but not THAT FAR up there yet. Good men, who know me, and talk to me, whenever we find time to chat before the Thursday meeting.

I need to tap a few wells, that I have not yet tapped in that capacity.

My driver friend also said that, I need to refocus my eyes and get selfish for the sake of my sobriety. Meetings are important, and allowing people and personalities to affect where I go and with whom I associate with, has tarnished my spiritual program.

I need to go to meetings and FUCK ALL everyone else in the room. I need to go, in spite of assholes and elbows.

I have TIME.

Well fought for TIME.

Fuck what everyone else thinks.

I know how hard I worked and what has happened to me mentally, emotionally and spiritually over the last eighteen months. Nobody can take that away from me. That is MY OWN solid sober experience. I just HATE the way people have treated me.

But I also know that people are going to do what they are going to do, in spite of how I expect them to be, which is saying A LOT for my own EXPECTATIONS …

Expectations are Resentments waiting to happen.

Sometime I am such a stupid idiot. I should know all this shit, but I forget. Which is why I go to meetings, and have friends who will point out my ass-hole-ness back to me.

I love my friends, because they tell me straight what I need. And I have more time than they do, yet, my friends are wise in ways I am not.

I know what I want. I know what I need to do.

And we heard those words tonight from our other celebrant …

RESTLESS, IRRITABLE, AND DISCONTENT …

I need to practice prayer and meditation, further than what I have been doing, because that’s the only way I can still the rat in my head at night. I can’t sleep at night, and when I do, I have these horrible drinking and using dreams. UGH !!!

I’m too old for this shit. I should know better.

I have some time. A lot more time, than some of those people who IRK me to DEATH. And I don’t have as much time as some of those men who IRK me to DEATH too.

And I know that I sure as shit don’t want to be old and miserable as they are. I am sure as shit on this. I’ve spent sixteen years compiling data on my friends, like I have said.

I know what I want and what I need to be. I just need to get selfish and fuck all everybody else. Some are sicker than others.

And that is the God’s Honest Truth.

A side story … Tonight’s A.B.S.I. reading talked about the Tornado.

When we were out there, drinking and using, we all have our own Tornado stories. I heard a number of them tonight. And I have my own story on this theme.

When I was in my early twenties, I was working in a travel agency that not only booked travelers to exotic places around the world, we also drank like fish, every day, all day. And we even took flights to exotic places, so that we could drink on the plane, there and back.

I did not get the “You better get sober memo.” many of those people did, unbeknownst to me. I did not learn this truth for some time.

My father and thrown me out of the house because I did something stupid, DRUNK, in his home. I moved in with a lady friend, who had an empty house, and lots of room. So I rented a room from her, until I became a character in the back of the Big Book.

I had a room, and I paid rent. Until I began drinking my rent money away.

Gloria, got sober.

Or more to the point, was getting sober, while I lived under her roof, as an active alcoholic. I was working for a cruise line by then, so we weren’t in the same office any longer, but we lived together.

Until One Fateful Night …

I had been out all night, came home drunk. The locks had been changed and her son was waiting up for me. I tried my key and it wasn’t working. He opened the door and told me that I could NOT come in and sleep nor change my clothes. He sent me away with sodden clothes and I lived off a friends sofa for two weeks while I made back my rent money.

What I did not know then …

When I got my next paycheck, I went and paid my back rent, and moved out. Which began an odyssey that last almost two years.

James committed suicide on my watch. Then I was diagnosed with AIDS a year after.

When James died, in April of 1993, I was working for Todd, where I eventually got sober about 45 days after my diagnosis in August of 1994.

I worked for Todd for two years, until he moved to San Francisco.

I quit the bar, a few weeks later, and my DJ friend Bill, got me a gig working at a club in Miami. I packed up and moved from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, approaching my third year of sobriety.

One day I went to a lunch meeting in the South Miami Club room.

That day I walked into the room, WHO was sitting at one of the tables ?

Gloria …

She had been sober about five years now. I was heading for three.

I had NO idea that I was that DRUNK tornado running through her life, as she was in the infancy of her sobriety. I had no idea. And I had to make one serious Amend to her right then and there.

We really do not know what we do to others while we were drinking and using.

Another long sober man I know well, spoke about that as well tonight.

A while back, he was sitting on the sofa with his wife, he was early sober. And he looked at her that night and said …

“You know, all that shit I did when I was drinking, I’m sorry.”

She looked at him and said

“You really don’t know WHAT you are saying Sorry For !”

It did not come to him for many more sober years, what damage he had done to his wife and kids. Last year, during the Montreal Blizzard, that crippled the city for days, he was stuck at home watching Net Flicks.

They were watching a certain movie, with the main character being a sodden drunk mess. And for the whole of the movies, he watched this Tornado of a Man run rough shod through the lives of his family.

It was only then that he realized just how much pain he had caused his kids and his wife.

Lorna Kelly talks about this fact of her life:

Only those with some serious Double Digit sober time, do we realize just how miserable, alone and lonely we were. It only comes with some serious long sober work and reflection, do we finally, really GET IT.

My friend is seriously long sober now. He got it, Finally.

I cannot begin to understand the depth of that statement yet. Because I am almost halfway down that same road myself.

Anne Rice talks about her vampires. I know her and all of her stories. Lorna also relates this story too. Anne Rice’s vampires, the truly OLD ONES, they get it, they understand the depth of sadness, loneliness and misery. Anne’s vampires have very human qualities.

ONLY WITH SERIOUS LONG SOBER TIME DO WE FINALLY UNDERSTAND THE DEPTHS OF OUR ALCOHOLISM.

Lorna still speaks to us from the grave, as long as we listen to her talk.

I listened to her again today.

Was that ODD or was that GOD ?

I would like to believe it was GOD.

Birthday Celebration

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It was a good day. Filled with friends and good wishes. I started the day with a stiff broom, sweeping out the trash. I got my laundry done in the morning. I can toss a load in the washer and then get my grocery shopping done during the dry …

I even got a nap in.

Tonight we went to Fire Grill. I had invited my friend Juan and his girlfriend Nadia to join us for a meal. It was really nice. We don’t get to spend much time together outside of meetings, so tonight was a treat.

I have a plan. And this week that new plan begins.

We are going to go meet new people and hit some new meetings.

Now we will all find out what living in my fifties is going to look like together.

Thank you all for subbing and reading and joining the conversation.

Writing this little blog is an act of love, every day.

Thursday: Drink Your Way Across Europe

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It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.

We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”

Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.

Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.

Who am I to complain …

We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.

People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …

WHY ???

Anyways, back to this evening.

Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.

She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.

We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.

READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.

Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.

San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …

The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.

She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.

I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.

I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.

I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.

I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.

UGH …

Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.

A good night was had by all.