Blow Up … There IS a Solution

I Lost My Cookies Tonight, It Was Not Pretty At All … Rigorous Honesty Post

Almost eighteen years ago, I came in for the second time, SO, I’ve had my slip experience. The first time I got sober, nobody spoke of steps, and I did not have a sponsor, I had Todd, who was teaching me how to survive AIDS. The meeting hall I was attending was very toxic and made getting sober, harder than anything I have ever seen since.

You don’t bet on newcomers to see when they will drink again, you just do not do that.

When I came into Montreal, in month 4, when I moved here, I walked into the room that I homed in for over twelve years. I was going to MANY meetings at that time, as I had no other activity going on before I got my Canadian Papers.

In those eighteen years, the way I got and stayed sober, was by watching what everyone else was doing, what they were saying, what decisions they were making. Along with working my own program, with men who really helped me seal my sobriety. I took the good, and I left the bad. Whatever worked for you, I thought that it would work for me, but obviously, if you drank again, I did NOT … And that’s the way I stayed sober.

It has not been all a cake walk. And I have had my share of trouble in sobriety, BUT, I did not drink, at any point during the hard times. I returned to that original Home Group many months ago.

And like I’ve said, Sobriety in 2019, is not the same as Sobriety in 2002. It just isn’t. For many reasons. In the rooms, over the years, I have stuck with winners. With people, Old and Young, who are enthusiastic about the Book and the Steps. I work my steps every year. I hit several meeting a week, all of them different. I have a solid sponsor, and solid friends in the program.

Recently, I sit in beginners meetings, and all I hear from our kids is sorrow, and pain, and for the life of me, I try to help those who will listen to anything I have to tell them about staying sober, and NOT drinking again.

It has become obvious that many of those folks, did not/and do not, listen to anything I have said to them, and tonight I heard them say, in the open, that they are hurt that I would be so rigorously honest, IN a meeting.

How dare I speak as if I am better than they are.
I am not better than anyone. And those people who know me intimately know this.

But I listen. And I watch. Over the last few months, many folks sit in meetings, they don’t take anything home with them, they don’t call anyone, they don’t do anything to stave off that next drink AND: THEY DRINK AGAIN. And More Than Once.

One of our kids said she took twenty five beginners chips. She’s been stuck in that revolving door for YEARS. I watched her. She never listened to anything I said, in both fellowships we both attend, that I don’t any more.

But I said and I quote:

I am tired of going of beginners meetings. it is painful to watch people come in, be miserable, and know there is a solution, but because I am who I am, nothing I have is very attractive to ANYONE. So Fuck me for trying. I’ve been sitting in this hall for the whole of my sobriety, and I can tell you, by name, how many people drank again, and again, and again. I know everyone who did. Because if I saw you go out, I knew that something that you were doing, was not working for you, so I knew not to make that mistake myself.

I stayed sober, while many people did not.

There are only three men, sitting in this room right now, who were here when I came in, and all three of us are still sober. Obviously, we did something right. Obviously, we found the solution NOT to drink again, and that entails WORK.

When people ask me for help and I tell them what I did that worked, that work entails WORK, not just sitting in a chair, and reading the book, now and then. You actually have to work to stay sober, you just don’t get sober by OSMOSIS.

I know how many of you are suffering and I know the women are no doing well by the rate of how many of you have drank, several times over the last month, but because we are men, you won’t ask for help, when the women aren’t helping you stay sober, it is obvious those women are doing something wrong if what they are telling you, does not work AND you drank again.

I pound the God Damned pavement. I seek answers, I work the Book, BY the Book. I seek information in the most enthusiastic in the rooms. And I know what they know, so whatever I have to give, comes directly from someone, who gave that knowledge to me.

By the time I had finished, my friends were sitting a bit higher in their chairs, and All I heard after I shared was indignation by everyone else who shared after me.

All because I said something Rigorously Honest.

We read How It Works tonight. And we all know what that reading says:

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Many of us exclaimed “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholics and could not manage our own lives;

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism;

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

This is IN the Book, we hear it at every meeting. And really, many people do not pay attention to the words. And I know from reading “Our Great Responsibility,” that Bill took great care with crafting the Steps based on the Oxford Group Six steps. He augmented the steps to make sure there was no wiggle room. Hence Twelve Steps.

Many early alcoholics who saw the first few chapters of the book, as it had been written in the 1930’s, were angry that Bill included so much God and so much Honesty.

I was rigorously honest tonight, and I am sure I made many enemies tonight, because I called out half measures, as the reading also speaks about. And I told the truth. I spoke about THE Solution. And that there is one.

And I closed with, we come here to learn how to STOP. How many people have I watched over the past few years, read the Big Book, cover to cover, and get to the LAST Chapter, and it tells us how to STAY STOPPED and that we NEVER have to drink again …

And I watched a number of those men and women DRINK AGAIN…

That just BLOWS my Fucking mind.

I mean really, people are afraid of honesty better yet, Rigorous Honesty. I say I can help you, but that will take some work on your part, and what does everybody say to that:

OH I DON”T WORK, I DON’T PRAY, AND I DON’T DO GOD !!!

Ok, then how the fuck are you going to stay sober when you’ve negated everything you must do, there are TWO MUSTS in the book, things we must do to stay sober, what are you going to do when the drink is in your hand and you chose to drink it rather that put that drink down and call someone who can help you?

We need to drop the walls between men and women, gay and straight, Non-Binary and Trans. We need to be able to ask ANYONE who has something to offer, has something like part of or all of the solution, ready for anyone who will listen, help you NOT take that next drink !

God give me strength …

I’m so tired of going to meeting where all people want to do is piss and moan about how miserable they are, knowing some of us sitting in that same room, are sober multiple years, decades even, who know what to do, but you won’t come up and ask, because we might ask you to do something, like Work, or Pray, or Step Work, and we know you won’t ask, because you don’t do WORK.

FUCK ME !!!

Throwing Up My Hands

I had coffee with one of my best friends the other night. One piece of advice he gave me was this: He said, I knew what was important to me and to those I work with. He then said that I really did not need to save the world, so to speak. That I did not have to overextend myself for people who really don’t appreciate me or whatever it is I am doing, and that there are too many people out there, who take advantage of my good hearted-ness.

The other night, Tuesday, we read over Steps 10 and 11, out of the Big Book, better known as pages 86 and 87. When referring to particular important passages, those ones that are vitally important, we don’t need the topic, all we need are the page numbers. Most folks who know The Book well, refer to “Just the page numbers.”

Anyways, I digress.

A few weeks ago, after long discussions with a young man who threw his Big Book knowledge at me, and his insistence that The Book is the only way, I set him a challenge from my perspective. I asked him to pray the prayers right out of the book, I gave him a You Tube Video to watch of a long sober member I met years ago, and who is today, long dead, and finally, I bought him a journal to write his tenth step nightly.

He stopped going to meetings altogether. Haven’t seen him in weeks.

Was it my fault, did I have something to do with his MIA status?

On Tuesday night, we shared on Steps 10 and 11. The Tuesday meeting is a Beginners Meeting, so most folks haven’t read the book in full, nor worked any steps, YET.

But as the share went around the room, what I heard coming out of people’s mouths were these words …

I CAN’T … I DON’T … and … I WON’T

I’m so tired of sitting in meetings, with people who come to meetings, ignore what they are hearing, drink, over and over again, and are miserable and want nothing to do with working a program of recovery.

I am wasting my time, talent, and treasure.

An entire group of young people, that I participated with, in keeping them sober over the last two holiday periods, have decided to DRINK AGAIN.

I can only watch so many kids drink, come to meetings, take a chip, go back out and drink again, come in and take a chip, and drink again.

So many of our young people are STUCK in the revolving door now.

I was so pissed the other night, I called in the troops and asked some of my friends to step in and try to mitigate the drinking, because they don’t want to hear what I have to say, nor do they want what I have.

Experience tells me that when this happens, it’s time to Step Back.

I can’t go on, sitting in meetings, filled with misery and alcoholism. I’m an alcoholic who HAS a SOLUTION.

For many, my solution and route to that solution is too work related. I actually ask my kids and my guys to work a program. Right out of the Book. It’s not Rocket Science.

Most folks in the room, think me strange, and not many of them want what I have, and I am ok with that. I’m just not gonna hang around people who want to live in the problem, while the solution is sitting in the room.

If I did not listen when I got sober, I would be one of those kids that are sitting in misery, night after night. If they want to sit in misery and not do the hard work of getting honest and getting sober, then so be it.

I’m not wasting any more of my precious time sitting in halls of misery and sadness. I’m just not gonna d it any more.

The Alcoholic WILL DRINK AGAIN !!!

The Book does say that: “The Alcoholic will drink again.”

There is a very solid reason why they tell us, that the girls work with the girls and the guys work with the guys, (caveat) “unless you are Gay.”

Tonight we read Step One – out of the Twelve and Twelve. Because the chair needed to hear, “Going back to basics.”

We all know that Step One is the Step, one has to get right, the first time, and every day hence… Every day we wake up and do a Step One, just to get out of bed, on the right side of said bed. I mean really, if you don’t say the words Thank You, when you wake up, every morning, you are doing something wrong.

Those of us with some time, work tirelessly every day, in meetings, and on the outside, helping others. Shit, I devote my entire waking time, week in and week out, taking care of others, in a multitude of ways, week in and week out.

The men stay away from the women, and the boys stay away from the girls, for obvious reasons. Some of our girls won’t even deign to say hello to me when they walk in the doors to a meeting, like I am some monster out to get them and do serious harm to them.

Fuck me for trying.

There is a particular gaggle of girls who travel in a pack. Most of them are first timers, but several of them are back around again. I speak to some of them, who will listen when I speak, then there are those who care not for anything I have to say to them, even if it means their lives in the balance, and alas, they drink again.

A couple years ago, when the first round took place, they all came in, just prior to the holidays, so keeping them ALL SOBER, was my first order of business. I opened meetings on Christmas and New Years. I set out chairs and I was present.

And from my mouth to God’s ears I said to them, “If you make it through Christmas, I guranteed them, that they would stay sober.” They all made their first Christmas sober, all stayed sober, into the next year, Last Christmas came and again, I was present, and I was out there, with them, and they all made a second Christmas, sober.

One by One, each in their own ways, decided to drink again. Tonight, the one remaining girl in the gaggle, spoke, AFTER I had shared, on my Step One. And much to my surprise, after two years working indirectly to keep her sober, night after night, meeting after meeting, talking to her her from the sidelines, because the girls won’t listen to the men at all …

She Drank Again. With two years and a bit under her belt.

I was shocked. But not surprised. Because over the last few months, one of the long sober woman leading this rag tag bunch of girls, drank again. Watching your sponsor drink again, is a solid shock to the sternum. And it usually strikes the fear of God into them.

When that long sober woman drank again, I was present, I knew about it because I was told about it, and I tried to mitigate the fallout. Alas, in the long run, I failed at my mission to help them all stay sober.

I am disappointed that the girls won’t cross the divide and call us when they have nowhere else to turn. When the women fail in working with women, then what do they do? Drink again, like they have no other option?

I really don’t know what to do but wish them well, and see them into this next round of sobriety from the sidelines, because we must stay on our side of the proverbial street.

People know what to do if they want to drink. They know where to go and if push comes to shove, they have options. They can ONE, go back out and drink, or TWO, they can speak to one of us, and we will be glad to help when necessary.

Sadly, the girls stay away from the men and the boys, for those obvious reasons.

Hence … The Alcoholic Will Drink Again.

Seasonal Changes

The weather has been stellar over the past few days. Stellar enough to crate the winter gear, and closet the winter coats. I’ve changed up my wardrobe, and ordered some new clothes suitable for warmer weather.

My usual train of thought is this … Everything I buy, clothes wise, needs to be suitable to wear all year round, meaning, I don’t change up many things seeing I have been in sport mode for a couple of years now. So if I buy it, I need to be able to make it work, in four seasons.

I’ve amended that worry, and have invested in clothing that will work in Spring, Summer, and Fall. It’s all good.

With the weather getting warmer, the season of the terrace begins furiously. The sooner a bar or restaurant can roll out its terrace, outside, the better. That means more shift work for wait staff, more business for the location, and options to sit outside and eat and drink.

There is the rub …

Alcoholics are seasonal creatures. And tonight, I spoke the warning to my Tuesday group. Seasonal sober people are legion. Those who come in late in the year, in the Fall or towards the Winter, make it through maybe a couple of seasons.

As Fall turns to Winter, folks will triangulate the time they spend above ground, from Home to any particular meeting, because the colder it gets outside, and the depth of snow on the ground, dictates who will venture out into the cold, and for how long, to reach their desired destination.

In the Winter months, attendance numbers drops drastically. There are two groups. Those who decide to shelter in place, and hibernate for the entire Winter, and those intrepid souls who do come out, in any weather, because their sobrieties depend on making meetings, all year round.

I’ve been sitting in one particular meeting for eighteen years. And have seen a lot of things take place in front of me. And I said so much tonight. Our ladies, think me sexist and making obvious derogatory remarks about women, but the truth is harder than fiction.

I know, for a fact, who made it, and who did not. I know, for a fact who drank again, and who did not. Sit in a room for eighteen years, and you will see what I have seen and can attest to this line of truth for yourself.

As soon as it warms up and the terraces open, on the very first good day to ride ones bike through Montreal, it happens, like clockwork.

Many of my women I speak about fall into the trap, like clock work. They ride their bike, and after a bit, they get thirsty. They roll up to a terrace, park their bikes, take a seat … AND DRINK AGAIN !!!

I said this tonight, and one young lady said out loud that she indeed was a woman, feeling insecure and anxious, about the terraces outside and spoke those words … I want to drink again.

She heard me make the warning. Then she walked out of the meeting before the meeting ended. The rest is up to her higher power.

Seasons …

I am once again, learning the hard lesson that not everybody is meant to be in your life, for the rest of your life, or just for a season. Being a male who is vulnerable, in the rooms, is detrimental to relationships. Because not all people are willing to see themselves, or you for that matter, in all their vulnerability.

I live a sober life, to the best of my ability. But I have my limits of sucking it up and being a trooper and not letting life, as it happens, affect me outwardly. Like I said, I have my limits. I just cannot sit on my emotions and allow them to eat me from the inside out. I might not say too much about that when that happens.

When I am displeased, I try, to say very little. And if I do speak, the message is usually clear. My friends do not like me when I am truthful. People would rather me sit in a room, and go through my life, like SPOK. Be a Vulcan who feels nothing, says nothing, and does nothing, but be a robot who is placid, quiet and in control at all times.

I’m not a robot.

And now I am paying the price for being human. I did not agree with a certain decision, made by someone I loved dearly. I did not say enough to make my point, but kept my counsel to myself. Which has initiated a game of chicken.

Take two sober people. One goes to meetings, works steps, works with others, and does THE WORK. The other, does none of the listed work. I just wrote down. One sober, One a Dry Drunk.

At some point our character defects are going to go head to head. That is where we are right now. Playing chicken with silence.

I hate silence. I think that is the greatest punishment you can heap on another human being. My family did that to me until my father went to his grave in silence. It has taken me more than a year, post death, to finally come around and talk to him, I do that quite often these days.

That is a thing …

The trend of people who walk away, because I have an emotional response to outside stimuli is growing. People cannot cope with their friends being vulnerable. Because for the longest time, the silent understanding in the rooms here is … feel nothing, say nothing, do nothing.

That all changed for me when I hit the hardest emotional bottom in sobriety I had ever hit to date. I had nowhere else to go, but to cope with my emotions, sitting in a meeting, while everybody else just watched me crackle and fall apart. Not one soul said those words to me …

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DEAL WITH THAT.

I’ve only heard these words spoken by one human, Lorna, God rest her soul. Not everybody who heard her tell that specific story at a round up, heard her.

Sometimes I hate sobriety, because I try to navigate pain the best way I know how. I make it most of the time, but at other times, I am just knuckling it badly.

More to come.

Friday – Updates and Thoughts

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Things are not as they should be right now. One of my sponsees is sitting in a hospital at this hour with a friend visiting from out of town, and during this evening, found out she has an ectopic pregnancy. She is going to loose the baby. Or more to the point, the baby is going to be removed, because it is not viable where it is.

A very sad note for this evening. But both women are doing the best they can at this hour.

Say a prayer for them both.

This evening I sat with an Old Timer from our Best Night of the Week Meeting, before the meeting. And I shared verbal diarrhea with him. We traded ideas of what should happen next, his first response to that question was “The Third Step Prayer…”

Discussion followed.

We have similar thought about a great many things. One thought that came up is that people don’t seem to appreciate the work that goes into a meeting. Starting with managing that space, paying the bills, doing the shopping, setting up, making coffee, washing dishes, and breaking down.

A whole host of people take part in the nightly event (Around the world).

Managing a meeting is a thankless job. And is never really truly appreciated, because you never hear a member come up to you, and say Thank You …BUT you will hear, occasionally from their seats, that they are grateful for the meeting.

Now, in the past, I have seen coffee makers and setter uppers, have mental breakdowns at certain meetings, bitching and complaining quite openly, to the meeting itself, while the meeting is still going on, how ungrateful folks really are, and that said setter upper demands a thank you from everyone sitting in the room.

We are cautioned quite often, that service is a gift of the program, because it keeps us humble and rooted to the reason why we need the meetings, because when we came in there were people doing just what we do today, for us, and at times we can get angry and resentful at the ingratitude of most people who walk through the door every week.

So beware your EGO.

Kindness was the other idea that was floated.

We do this work gladly, because it is necessary, because if we don’t do the service, the meeting isn’t going to happen at all. And he told me that people, over the years, as they come, form the meeting in their image, as they see it. Which leads to a meeting  ever changing. People come, people go. Formats come, and Formats go.

Meetings begin, get popular, have a good run, then, almost mysteriously, they fades to black, when the novelty of a particular meeting looses its shine. People get bored.

Boredom is also problematic.

We do the same rote actions week after week, month after month, year after year. Like a robot. We all have our assigned roles, per week. And on Friday night, we are a well oiled machine. We can crank out set up in twenty minutes with the right number of setter uppers.

People don’t seem to take notice of those of us who do this work.

And one thinks that maybe one day, something we have done is going to surface in someones life, that something we do or say, will make a difference in a life. That may come to pass, and maybe it won’t.

My counsel to folks is this … Pick a meeting. Find a seat, and STAY.

Watch, Listen and Pay Attention.

The reading from A.B.S.I. was long and convoluted. But the front room, went with the:

SLIP … Sobriety Looses Its Priority.

There are a number of young people who come, who are in rehabs across town. So the first horse out of the gate shared on the topic of a slip, and day counts.

There are two schools of thought in this area, and I’ve heard them both spoken over the years.

In the program, you come in, and begin your day count. if you decide to go out a drink again, you start over at day one.Then, there is a more linear view of a slip.

The thought that, when one comes back, that you do not punish the slipper by restarting their day count, but you keep counting to keep the momentum, even though, one drank again.

Well, that started the ball rolling and it just kept going until the top of the hour.

The odds that one enters the rooms, and stays, and makes it a one time drive, are slim. The odds that one returns after a slip, go down even further, the number of times you go back out. Most folks at our meeting has had a slip experience. For one reason or another.

It is usually common that once folks fall off the wagon and drink again, come back and never go back out. But these stories are far and few between. Statistics on this are proof.

An old timer spoke about Alcoholic.

  • The real alcoholic out there, usually would never admit he/she is one.
  • Then there are those who come in, leery, not knowing for sure.
  • There are also those who come in, knowing full well the facts.
  • There are also those who come in and need to figure it out for themselves.
  • And there are those who are mandated to show up by a judge.

Long Sober men and women that have been around double digit years, either ONE, stay put and stick to the rooms, and prosper and do well, or TWO, Long Sober men and women who also have double digit years, come for a while, then they fall off. They stop coming to meetings, and the tape begins to play in their heads …

  • Ah, you’re really not an alcoholic, look how long you’ve gone without a drink
  • Ah, its a waste of time and energy to go out, (in minus twenty temps)
  • Ah, I really don’t need a meeting
  • I deserve a break after so many years, I can take a breather
  • And you know what follows, if the tape continues, don’t you ?
  • They Drink Again … And the odds on return are almost nil

Some people, in sobriety, go through really dark times, either Mental, Emotional, Medical or Financial. They spin out into the darkness. Some find their way, others do not.

I’ve seen medical issues take people out. Men and women fight battles with Cancer, or AIDS, or MS, or any other myriad of diseases. And they either conquer, or they fall. There are just some illnesses that you never come back from.

Death is a forgone conclusion.

But many women, who have, (for example) Breast Cancer, they get diagnosed, and they begin treatment. Radiation, Chemo, Surgery, Reconstruction, and Recovery. This is one serious long haul drag for our women.

With a good support system, women to walk with them, and women who are present for them for the entire journey, those women return victoriously.

On the other hand, (in my own experience), I knew a woman, I was very good friends with. I was here, she was in Florida, getting treatment, surgery and reconstruction. She was victorious. She was long sober, more than twenty years at the time.

I spoke to her every day. We talked about everything, So I Thought.

One night, she went to Lincoln Road, on Miami Beach, for dinner. She ordered a glass of wine, then another. Over the next few weeks, she went to have dinner, with a glass of wine and several more.

She never expressed the desire to drink to me ever. She never spoke about it either.

A few months later, at twenty and some odd years, she returned to Montreal. One night, she walked into the meeting, and when the chip was offered, she got up and took it.

I was mortified.

I was so angry. Words passed between us, she left the meeting, and never came back. And we never spoke again, even though I can see her condo building from my living room windows. She lives that close.

She had been victorious at beating Breast Cancer, so she deserved a break, she said during the meeting. This is not a one off story … But it is my story about her.

Illness is a beast. It fucks with our minds, whatever other issue we are dealing with, falls by the wayside. The tape begins to play, like our men’s tape above, and women find themselves surviving a visit from death, drinking is the least of their worries.

So what does one do with this type of situation ?

I should have kept my mouth shut. Maybe I should have understood what I know today, but did not then. But what can you say when friends keep secrets ?

Secrets and Lies are two markers, that if they begin, a drink is not far away.

Women suffer too. Most in silence, because they don’t know what to do, who to talk to, nor what to say, when this takes place. I’m not a woman, but I know how I felt for her and for me, when she took that chip.

So you see, our jobs, in the meetings, are fraught with complications.

When Sobriety Looses Its Priority, all bets are off.

Man and Woman alike.

Knowing the warning signs, and being present when someone speaks, to have the right words, is a fine art. That does not come over night. It takes time. A lot of time, investment and friendship.

Relationships like that are far and few between.

You cannot walk into a meeting, and sit for very long, and NOT invest in its people.

Once you pick your seat, buckle up and hang on. Because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

It always is…