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 !!!

Physician Heal Thyself … “Absolutley, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly”

friends-become

Tonight, January 9th …We read, Physician Heal Thyself. A story about Humility. A story about Higher Power, A story about Turning it Over.  And this topic that I had written on some time ago, repeats itself. So I present it again.

An old friend came to the meeting tonight. A friend I have known since he came in some time ago, and I had an amends to make to him, because, on a particular night, I stood in front of a meeting, and spoke. It was the first time I had spoken at a meeting in over five years. In retrospect, I was not very sober.

I might have had some time, but on that particular night, I was all over the map. And not seeing this friend since, I have had time to see the past, in the light that I see it now.

Lessons come, but the real nugget only comes in retrospect.

And my friend said to me that he was in the market for a sponsor, that his double digit sponsor was fading away into the air and away from meetings. On the way to the metro the discussion we were having had a sense of urgency to it, incomplete though it was.

Hopefully we will cross paths again.

Juan is set to speak, for the first time in his sober journey at St Matthias on the 26th. I wasn’t sure he would accept, but he did gladly. Its a very important job when you get to do it for the first time. I’ve never heard him tell his story to a room, no one has. But I know his story from our work together over the past two years.

I’ve had some time to regroup, and re-order my life. Now I know, really, at this point, what I want, where I am going, and what I need to do to get there. I’ve made some new contacts in other meetings. I’ve taken on a service position at the Area level for the Friday meeting, which is a two year commitment. I’ve joined the Thursday night meeting, officially, and I chaired the business meeting last week. The Monday Big Book meeting has become part of my regular meeting schedule.

We are off to a good start. Everybody has work to do. We are all ordering our lives accordingly, using new tools, (read: Bullet Journal).

With that I give you … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly, Redux.

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 that 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 that we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all 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.

When I arrived at the point that God felt I was ready to work with others, he opened the gates and sent me my troop. And ever since then, I have endeavored to be absolutely, completely, thoroughly, honest. Over the past few days, it has been said that I have kept my troop honest. Which filled my heart with joy overflowing.

There are things we do daily, weekly, and often that keep us on the path to staying honest in all our affairs. Over the past few weeks, we have heard stories, and I have written about them here. The overarching theme lately has been, what happens when we are dishonest, when we keep secrets and when we tell lies.

I can’t repeat often enough, the warnings we are hearing from the chair at speaker meetings. Because now, I listen to my friends talk about their stories, and the varied choices they had made and continue to make, and I utter that prayer …

There but for the Grace of God go I … I could be them !

How it Works, is a staple reading, you hear at almost every meeting, one way or another. It is repetitive, and the words never change. They were written decades ago and are words of wisdom from a bygone era. After hearing this reading read, one too many times, I heard a particular woman, get up and read this passage, slowly, passionately, word for word, slowly, methodically, with a sense of meaning I had not heard before in the past.

There are two types of How It Works Readers…

  • The Machine Gun barrage – from beginning to end without a breath
  • The Toss it all Together reader – who does not respect the comma or period.

Tonight, we listened to it read at the top of the meeting, and we heard the reading parsed by our speaker tonight.

“Absolutley, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly”

There comes a time in sobriety, that we think we have this all wrapped up, and we are doing well, and have no fear of that first drink. Scary …

But when the chips are down, and we are against the proverbial wall, are we able to speak to our friends and fellows, and tell them that “maybe we are not doing so well, and that we may be in trouble, and that the outsides might not be congruent with our insides?”

We go into meetings, and we always want to look good on the outside, because we want our fellows to see calm, sober, good looking people. But just beneath the surface, the reality might be that we are not really calm, or sober, or good looking.

Sometimes, we are just not 100%.

The truth is when we are able to say, “I am not okay!”

If we are rooted in honesty, even if it hurts, we can share anything with our friends and sponsors. This is where, secrets and lies, arise. They say, and I heard it again tonight, that “While we are in meetings, our alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing push ups … Waiting patiently for us outside.”

And you never know, when it is going to happen. We begin to keep secrets, and our old alcoholic behavior rears its ugly head. Our old thinking returns, old patterns return, and we slip into old behavior, oh so quietly. And we might not recognize it right away, and if we don’t, we are off to the races.

They tell us that when we hit a slip, that it is premeditated. That often, what starts as an errant thought, becomes an errant action. Time and time again, we listen to stories of people who go back out, and when they return, we hear what happened and what led them back out the door.

Sobriety Looses Its Priority.

What happens when we keep secrets and what happens when we begin telling lies, not to others, but lying to ourselves to begin with? It begins with us, in our heads. If we are not vigilant we can fall into this trap. Secrets and Lies.

It might be simple and innocuous, but after a while, becomes a snowball heading down the mountain at 100 miles per hour.

I sat there tonight, listening to a man tell a story about being sober a LONG time, falling into old behavior, and then he kept a secret and told a few lies, and then ended up in a bar, with not one beer, BUT TWO …

Then follows years of getting stuck in the proverbial revolving door. Our man is one, that I have seen in my time, who collect enough beginner’s chips to tile a bathroom with. He goes to meetings, but is unwilling to get honest. Sponsors turn him away and won’t take him on, because, let’s face it, if we are being honest, if you aren’t in the game, most men or women would not take you on, unless you are ready and willing to get honest, because this is your life/our life we are talking about.

The warning is very stark and very real.

We heard it again tonight, those similar words,

“Please, for the love of God, Do Not Do what I did.”

If you are out there in the room, and you are pondering a slip, or you are in any way feeling squirrely, or you are coming back, please, talk to someone, don’t leave this room with shit on your shoulders.

When I hear stories like this time and time again, I come home and I write them down, then I turn around and speak to my troop about warnings and prevention.

I remind them that this is not a game to be taken lightly. They need to be in the game 100%, and we work tirelessly, to maintain The Work at maximum efficiency.

Winter has not been kind to our numbers. For the last few months, on both the sides of women and men, we have heard how they have battled the bottle in sobriety.

I go to my meetings, and I know my friends, and I get there early enough that I get to spend twenty minutes talking to them. We know who the front row sobriety folks are, and we also know who the back benchers are. Which is why, at certain meetings, we have moved seats forward and off the back wall. We put out more chairs in the room proper, to make sure, everyone is sitting among everybody else.

That is why we stress, at my home groups that, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after are the most important minutes in a meeting, because we get fellowship, phone numbers and friends. Not necessarily in that order.

The warnings have been clear … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly.

Anything else, is a recipe for certain disaster …

 

Sunday Sundries … The Long Goodbye Begins

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There seems to be a pattern in my life. And I am noticing this more and more, as the days go past. “People come and go so quickly here!”

This is my pride and joy. We took this picture this afternoon, after a trip to the park. One way to remember special moments are on film, or in today’s words, digital.

I spent the better part of the afternoon, with Baby Mama and LuLu. I wanted to take her to the park, because it was a stellar day to be outside. The park, was not all that hospitable, there was snow still on the ground and puddles of water under all the climbing structures, and the swings were missing from their racks. UGH !!

So it was an abbreviated visit. So after a while trying to navigate snow and puddles we went back home, and spent time together there. This was my favorite photo for today.

Last night, we celebrated one of my ladies First Year anniversary with cakes and chips. This morning she got on a plane heading to the Back country of B.C, for her tree planting season which lasts until August.

I texted her just before the meeting tonight and she arrived safely, in one piece, with all her luggage and tree planting gear, tonight, she was headed Up Coast, for her first port of call.

Several of my “people” are in the process of going somewhere else. It has been my privilege to have them for each part of their journeys. People, coming and going.

Last night we talked about staying clean and sober through transitions. My last transition, coming to Montreal, was my last. I have been here longer, clean and sober, than anywhere else I have been in my entire life. That includes my childhood, because I started drinking in my teens.

We have not really thought about going someplace else. We’ve just recently hit that point where everything is working in our favor, for the first time in our marriage. Unless good money was attached to a move, we would not leave the city.

But maybe there is a Yet to be had.

Tonight, we re-tread an old topic that I have been talking about for a couple of weeks:

How It Works …

Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has thoroughly followed our path.

We read this passage tonight. I began the read, quietly, and methodically, and as the read continued through the room, it went from thoughtful to machine gun fire …

It was tonight that I realized that this passage, is a reverent, introduction to what the work will be, how it works, in what order and who we are. This, as it was said by one of my friends, is a great CV for an alcoholic.

When I was pondering this reading tonight, the one word that came up was Reverence.

I got back around to:

  • Absolutely
  • Completely
  • Thoroughly
  • Honestly

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.

For a select few people, who have been set on fire, for the book and the work, we get these ideas. That did not come overnight. It took years for me. And years for many as well.

We are all working towards some goals with each other. Some folks are not in good places, life has been throwing some left field hardships, and we are doing what we can for each other.

The good thing is, everybody, it seems has just enough hope to hang on, until hardship passes.

It was a good day.

But sadness is coming.

We are making the most of our remaining days together.

 

 

 

Thursday … Finding Your Spirit

http://gdxphoto.com

“Every Day is a Great Day …” Who said that ? Mark E. Miller

Things are looking up. The weather is holding. Still a bit chilly, and I am hot or cold, as to wearing an extra layer, because of the chillness in the air. Next week we will see double digit teens, hopefully, we have seen the end of Winter …

Let us pray

This weekend we send one of our number out to the bush in B.C. for her tree planting season, but not before celebrating her One Year clean and sober on Saturday.

Hopefully we have done our jobs, in filling her with what she will need for the next little while, out there in the bush.

I received some rather sad news the other night. After almost a year living in Montreal, and raising baby LuLu, Baby Mama made the call that it was time to go, Baby Mama and LuLu will return to Newfoundland, in a months time.

I visited them on Tuesday night and she broke the news to me. What could I say ? And what was I supposed to do, convince her to stay ?

I am terribly sad. On Wednesday night we had a heart to heart and she admitted to me that there just wasn’t enough of me to go around. I’ve spent the better part of two years, being a friend, being the only man in their lives, besides grand dad, and helping to take care of the baby.

But there is only so much I can do. I have to let them go, no matter how heartbroken I am, that they will be gone in a few weeks time, and there won’t be any more dinners, and trips to the park and swings, and laughter.

Every human being needs at least three people in their lives to create a stable “unit” of family/friends.

The other people who had, at one time, stepped up to be accountable, failed in that manner, honestly, quite miserably.

We as a group failed a friend.

We are powerless over people, places and things. I am just sad how people just walked out of the relationships, they, at one time, called the most important relationships in their lives.

I guess they weren’t really.

So that is a thing …

Tonight, was standard Thursday fare. And our speaker was a woman I know very well, because she comes to our Tuesday meeting. At twenty six years, the message was poignant.

  • You can’t reap rewards for anything where work is required, if you don’t do the work required.
  • I.E. You can’t benefit from meditation, unless you learn how to meditate.
  • You can’t benefit form the Steps, unless you WORK the steps.
  • You can’t live sober, in the NOW, if you are constantly mired in the PAST.
  • Just because we put down the drugs and alcohol, doesn’t mean there will be sunshine and roses every day, but we learn to live Life on Life’s Terms.

Teachability:

Every day is an opportunity to learn something new, or to hear a reading or listen to a teaching, again and again. She says that the goal of sobriety, for us, IS

Finding our Spirits…

Last week, I talked about How it Works, and the 4 ideas of

  • Absolutley
  • Completely
  • Thoroughly
  • Honestly

Sitting with me tonight, was one of my guys, whom I get a few hours with on Thursday evenings, and we heard a woman read How It Works.

It goes on, that this reading, depending on the reader, at the Thursday meeting, or any meeting for that matter, is rattled off, like machine gun fire … Batta, Batta, Batta ….

Rushing from beginning to end, like a speed reader.

Then there are those who enunciate, using the pauses and nuances of the written word as it is on paper. We don’t often hear the spoken word version of How It Works, tonight, we did.

I had spoken to my guy before the meeting about reading, and studying, he was reading a textbook, and finding no joy in it, but I encouraged him to keep reading and studying.

So the meeting started, and How It Works was read, patiently, honestly, thoroughly, and thoughtfully.

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path …

It begins with this sentence. And when read, with thought and intention, an entirely new understanding of How It Works emerges.

It really gives meaning to the depth of this reading, as it applies to every one of us, man or woman, just what we can and should do, once we get here and start the journey of sobriety.

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.

Some of us tried to hold onto our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go ABSOLUTELY.

I’ve spent the better part of fourteen years parsing words, doing the work, and living in the NOW. Every time I run my steps, I look at what is on the table, and for a very long time, every time I did look, All I saw was The Past.

Over and Over again, I flogged myself with the Who, What, Where and Why, only to come to the conclusion that, and I heard it tonight from our speaker …

You can’t get sober, and live in the now if you are saddled in the past. At some point, you have to let it go, heal what needs to be healed, let Go and let God, (her words not mine) forgive, move on, and get on with the present.

Instead of telling us stories, the usual routine, she spoke about the NOW.

And I realize, something that has come to me recently, that I am done with the past, I no longer care to fret or ponder all that was. Nobody in the past gives a shit about me in the present, nobody cares… I no longer have to reside in this place any longer.

This realization, gives me a sense of freedom.

I don’t have to give my time and talent to shit that does not matter any more.

There are too many people who need me right now, to allow my brain to be saddled in the past.

These realizations don’t come over night and they take work on our parts to know when the time is right, when we have learned all there is to learn about something, but IS there a time, when we have learned all there is about anything?

No there isn’t.

Life goes on, and we learn every day, but it is our choice to remain teachable.

All I have is what I have today, to be able to do what I need to do, for those people, I need to do for, at any given moment, based on what I have in my bank, and that takes time and WORK.

The WORK continues.

Because we are never DONE, until we take our last breaths.

A good night was had by all …