Seventeen

December 9th 2018 came and went without fanfare.

The phone only rang once all day. The Big Celebration will take place on Friday night, at our regular Friday Night meeting. It is our Anniversary Meeting/Christmas Party. And I will take my cake as well.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I sit in the grand scheme of things, a little drop in the Big Ocean of the Universe. I’ve not quite figured that out just yet, so I am still flying by the seat of my pants.

A while back I had a conversation with a friend who is at year seven in his transition, today. Back then, amid some strife in his life, I told him that “What people think of us is none of our business.”

Not long ago, while talking together he parroted back to me that phrase, but he could not place where he had originally heard it. And I said, “that was a sober thought, and it sounds like something I would have said to you in the past. So it went.

We talked about what he calls being “Emotionally Self Sufficient.” Not relying on others, judgments, critiques, support or not support for us, to dictate the men and women we become.

I don’t usually worry about what people think of me, on the whole. It used to bother me when people, in public would critique my outfits or judge me one way or another. I kind of grew out of that insanity. Albeit, the hard way.

It had to be purged amid a pass through my steps this past Fall.

The one thing that haunts me to this day is the nostalgic portion of my brain that gives credence to the thought that people would grow up and finally want to make peace, after a lifetime of vitriol and hatred. In the back of my head I believe that every human has One Redeeming Quality, that can overcome whatever hardness in their hearts, if only they would find it within themselves. Alas, that has not happened.

I really cannot stomach that there are people in my life who hate me and want nothing to do with me because I am Gay and that I chose to take hold of my life, and go my own way, and do my own thing, and I believe, I did a good job so far. Some people don’t get it, and fault me for leaving a nuclear unit to break out on my own. Let’s remember that these same people, pushed me away and out of that nuclear unit, because I was Gay.

So Fuck Me !

There are so many good things in my life today. Today was my Quit Day, smoking cigarettes. I’ve been on Chantix for more than a week now, and just crossed the second week dosing of higher doses of medication. Which has seriously curbed my desire to smoke. That is a thing.

Working with others has kept me busy and on point. Trying to be the best human I can, and teaching lessons to others, that I learned myself many, many years ago, today. Not too many people pay attention to my stories, but there are three men who will listen.

And when I say to them, TRUST ME … I know what I am talking about, because it comes from a place deep within my soul. From the man who saved my life, and said those words to me, when I needed to hear them, and I have survived more than twenty five years now.

Hindsight is truly a gift these days.

Christmas shopping is going on. I did the bulk of my shopping on Tuesday. I had to travel into the Village for some things. And the central village Metro Station is closed for renovations until next June 2019. So I had to figure out how to get out of our intermodal Berri Station, which houses several Metro lines on three levels, down into the ground. The main Montreal bus station and all associated towers and service offices. There are many ways out of the station, but if you take the wrong tower exit, you end up in a particularly “other” area of town that you actually wanted to end up in.

There is a little snow on the ground. It is unseasonably below average cold, but it should warm up into positive numbers come the weekend. Long range forecasts says that snow showers will fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are hosting a Christmas Dinner party for a friend, his wife and her mom. Their Second Christmas dinner here at our house.

It will be grand.

All in all life is good. I am still sober. And all is well.

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 …

 

Last Friday Night in 2017

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It is very important that we have someplace to be, work to do, and people to serve.

We have been repeating this message in every meeting for the last few weeks. Hoping that the message sticks, and that our young people “get it.”

I walked the tunnel tonight, because it is a straight shot down to the Orange Line, instead of walking across the neighborhood to a connection Green Line train. i arrived at the church along with a friend of mine, and together we cranked it out.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, a “couple” walked in the door. I did not recognize them, so I greeted them the same. And I asked the man, if I knew him, and he looked me dead in the eye and said … “YEAH, I WAS YOUR FIRST SPONSOR!”

Holy Shit Bat Man.

I haven’t seen my elder friend in more than fifteen years, since he had moved out of the city, got married to a sober woman, AND they had two kids along the way.

You never know who is going to walk in that door on any given night.

They now live Off Island out in Laval.

It seemed that he had a message to deliver to the GSR of our group, which happens to be me. Since I don’t have a car, and it is a hassle to get off island without one, I skip the monthly GSR meetings for the Northern Area.

He wants to hook me up.

We sat a full house. The flu is going around but through sniffles and sneezes and snarfles and quaffles, our young people all showed up, with stories about how they survived their first Christmases sober.

And once again, I repeated my advice, as I did the other night.

Our folks are set up for New years Eve. Tickets were sold to the Young People’s Conference party Sunday night. People all know where they can go.

A good news item was this … Our young people who did not have family in town, or they did not travel back to see them, all found themselves at members houses for Holiday Dinners. The community stepped up and made sure our kids were not alone.

That pleases me very much.

It’s a good sign, that our young people know what to do, and where to go. They have been steadfast in showing up to every meeting. And the rest of us are on top of them.

Tonight we read about self-pity. Which evolved into beating ourselves up, which then led to talk about our elder SINKING situation.

Before the meeting I was talking to a friend after we set up about last night’s speaker, and we chatted about the elders who go into self-pity mode, then they begin the crank over One, Not feeling good about themselves, Two, Feeling useless, and Three, thinking that disappearing from the rooms is better than engaging people, that THEY think, think little about them.

This is dangerous territory.Which usually leads back to a DRINK.

We spoke about old friends now long gone. When my old sponsor and I were chatting, we figured out that many of those old timers who were around when I first got sober, and that man became my first sponsor, many of them are long dead. There aren’t many old timers from that period of our lives still around.

It so happened, during that first five-year period of my sobriety, we had several HIGH population meetings. We’re talking meetings that would bring in over a hundred people for a regular meeting. There were several meetings like that.

Back in the day, here in Montreal, a good number of founder meetings, brought in hundreds of people. HUNDREDS.

A good six years into my sobriety, you’d be lucky to bring in 40 or 50 members at any given meeting. 60 if you were lucky.

At the five-year mark, all those high population meetings closed, for one reason or another. And almost overnight, every single person who used to go to those meetings, disappeared. It was like a bad magic trick.

People either died, moved off island, or just stopped going to meetings.

The island of Montreal is a big place, and there are nineteen boroughs on the island. Neighborhoods, put simply.

If you drew an invisible line around each neighborhood, you’d have a solid border all the way around. Now, depending in which neighborhood you lived in, dictated which meetings you went to on any given night.

There are over 500 meeting in Montreal in any given week.

So, you live in a particular neighborhood, and you attend particular meetings, in the designated neighborhood you reside in. Most people will not cross that invisible demarcation like drawn around any particular neighborhood.

That little rule of thumb still applies.

Whether you live North or South, East or West. Downtown or Uptown, people will not usually travel outside their comfort zone, except if a friend of your is taking a cake somewhere specific. Then people cross the invisible lines.

This piece of information is something I’ve studied for the whole of my sobriety, in trying to figure out where all those people went, when high population meetings folded.

The age of high population meetings are long gone.

But you know, if you go to meetings in New York City, THEY have meeting attendance in the HIGH hundreds. Like multiple hundreds. Numbers only we can imagine in our minds eyes.

They pack them in, because you can usually find a meeting on any given corner, connected to one of the myriad of churches in New York City. And there are MANY.

We are happy with our current numbers. They are constant. And Strong. And people show up, in the heat AND the cold.

I think they know that we have their backs, that as long as we are there, putting the meetings together, giving them simple jobs to do, they will continue to show up.

The Twenty minutes before and the Twenty minutes after rule still applies.

Coffee, conversation, fellowship after the meeting are also regular occurrences.

Sobriety is Never boring. If you aren’t connected, then WHY NOT ?

If you connect and invest in others, you will not spend so much time in your head, being maudlin, and miserable, beating yourself up, and thinking less of yourself. Because if we are constantly connected to others, in our daily lives, we aren’t so bothered by what’s between our ears.

And not being so bothered with what going on between our ears is better than listening to the hamster crank that wheel at 60 mph.

Suit up and Show up.

It will save your life.

Sixteen

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A month shy of my sixteenth sober anniversary comes on the ninth day of November, when my fellow, Juan, picks up another year sober.

The rat has been unusually quiet, as of late. I am much more serene than I have been in a long time. Over the past little while, I’ve consolidated my energies. And to this date, I have deleted people, places and things from my life that I just don’t have the mental or emotionally energy to put towards any more.

The joys of being 50 I guess.

I am a bit more selfish with whom I socialize with. I’ve paid my sober dues to people in the rooms for the last ten years. Many of the dues I paid were never reciprocated in any way, shape, or form. I don’t owe anyone any more favors. And I said that to a lady friend not long ago.

My friends have repeated the same refrain that they believe I need to hear and that is:

You have sixteen years of sobriety. That’s nothing to smirk at. It’s a good chunk of time. You know what to do. You have a routine that works, and people who love you. Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks or says. You aren’t them. Your experience is unique in the rooms and nobody can take that from you. They are correct.

The last eighteen months have been terribly emotional for me. I hear Lorna in my mind speaking the words of: “I’ve never been so ANGRY, RESENTFUL and BITTER in my life in sobriety, after all these years.”

But I am not fully on the page with being totally, “Compassionate, Understanding, and totally 100% Serene, just yet.” But I am working on it.

I do not trust entire communities of people. I know them more intimately than they know themselves. Because I have studied my friends like lab rats for the entire run of my sobriety.

Wisdom sets in little by slowly. I do know this for sure: Hindsight is my greatest teacher. People have come and gone from my life. People have died, people have gone back out and drank and used. And with this much time, I can safely say, looking back at all these goings on, with regards to decisions and actions, there were patterns of behavior and patterns of decisions, inaction, or purposeful action, that led to what each of them did.

I know what that looks like today. Very Useful Lessons about Sobriety.

When I speak to people, they really don’t want to hear my critique of their sobriety. So I write it down. I write everything down. I pay good money to keep this private place safe from prying eyes. I paid a price in allowing every Joe and Charlie to read my rantings and ravings.

Over sober time, one grows up in many ways. One begins to see the patterns as they reveal themselves to you, the longer you spend in a particular meeting. I am soberly invested in three communities now. I really pay attention to my friends. Not that they admire that attention I give them, and some of them would rather I just keep to myself.

I do that now. Because not many people care for my brand of sobriety.

They want lip service and no responsibility for their actions or decisions. Which keeps them numb and dumb. I don’t know why people like it that way, when the program of recovery IS a program of action. People don’t want action, they want simple stupidity.

I am SO OVER simple stupidity.

We spoke of willingness. You either get it or you perish. We spoke of spirituality and spiritual principles. You either find them or perish. You practice what you are told to practice on a daily basis, or you perish, and you languish in numb and dumb.

I hate people. I dislike people. I resent people. I do not trust everybody equally.

When we come in, we are supposed to be kind to everyone. Allow everyone a little latitude. We are supposed to be understanding, because when I came in people were all those things to me. Sadly., members today are not so kind and giving.

I saw an old sponsor tonight for the first time in a long while. The very same man who used to demean me and call me derogatory names. I fired him because of this practice. Why are double-digit sober men such assholes, I ask you ?

Tonight, I said hello and the first words out of his mouth were:
Well, you have some grey hair don’t you !!!

I’ve lost thirty pounds. I look better than I have ever looked before in my life. Not since twenty-five years ago looking. He did not notice that. He noticed my grey hairs.

UGH !!! I hate men.

Alcoholics are sick people trying to get well. Some of them, are trying to get well. Others, on the other hand, are just plain SICK. They are numb and dumb. And many of those sick double-digit sober men have legions of long sober women, who continually blow smoke up their asses, as they pledge their loyalty to them and laud them as paragons of sober living. I tend to disagree with these people, vehemently.

I have a close-knit group of friends now. Some of my best friends have a fraction of sober time that I do, yet they are men, in my age group, who love me for me, who have stood with me on the firing line and supported me through my angriest phase of sobriety.

I know how people have treated me over the last year, which is reflective in which meetings I go to today, who I socialize with and who I give my time to.

My friends are suffering. Not many of them know how to pick up the 2000 pound phone. That has always been an issue in the rooms. We ALL have SMART PHONES, yet we don’t necessarily use them as they were intended to be used.

I follow a specific pattern in sobriety. I do specific things. I offer the same council to everybody. I offer simple suggestions, which, when you put them all together, will give you a complete recipe of how to get and stay sober.

Many of my fellows don’t believe a word I say in public. They just shake their heads in dismay, like, is this guy for real ? Is it really that simple ?

Yes, it is that very SIMPLE…

This far along in my sobriety, nobody has come into my sober orbit, with anything new to try. Meaning, I have not met another sober member from anywhere else, who has a new fangled way of working the program. I am still running on the New York, Atlantic Group, Big Book Sober Program, I learned from a group of folks over years ago.

However, I did work another round of steps with my Mennonite an Mormon Elder Spiritual directors this past summer into the fall. That was very fruitful. I finally ticked ALL the shit I have been sitting on for all these years, which has spiritually freed my soul to sing joyfully.

It has been a year since my Elder Christensen went home to Idaho. Spencer is now at Brigham Young University in Utah, studying medicine. I love my Spencer. He is the smartest spiritual young man I have ever met. That’s what struck me from the very first conversation we had when we met over a year ago, now.

He gives me faith and he gives me love of Heavenly Father.

You cannot go wrong with a Mormon Elder in your life. At least I can’t.

I’ve learned that there is light after the darkest of days. I’ve learned that I can feel, and walk through those feelings, damned what anybody else thinks about me. And I did that over the last eighteen months, and I did not drink over any of it.

Because I followed a strict sober recipe.

Go to meetings. Speak honestly. Do service. And fuck all everybody else in the room.

All along this journey, people feared me and avoided me like the plague. Nobody from the meetings I had been participant in, said anything supportive to me, at any stage of the game. Not One Soul offered me friendship nor companionship, or even kindness.

They just let me come and go, rant and rave, and not one of them did anything to help me ease the Dis-Ease I had walked through for so many months on end.

And I hate every last one of them. They can all go fuck themselves.

I stayed sober and I grew up, in spite of my emotional and mental problems. And I survived to see my fiftieth birthday and survive twenty-five years living with AIDS.

I AM a survivor.

Despite what anyone else thinks, says, or believes about me.

Today, I could care less what people think of me, because for a long time, I harbored resentments about those very same people because they ignore me in public and are uncharitable and unkind to me in front of others.

Now I know, they are just the same old numb and dumb sick alcoholics.

Sixteen is just around the corner.

Praise God I don’t have a desire to drink or use.

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.

In the Hour of Need

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“I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

If you need to pray for spiritual help,
Saint’s John Paul II and Mother Teresa are your best bets…

You never know when life is going to turn on a dime and force you to face reality in a way you did not expect.

My best friend suggested I find someone (outside the fellowship) to talk to. And I had a contact up my sleeve. Last week, I made contact with a friend who was my academic adviser, mentor, professor and friend or many years.

We met when I began University in my second year of sobriety.

At that time, the run up to the Iraq war had begun, and expats here in Montreal, were marching in the streets. Not to mention everyone who joined in as Canadians. \

That was my first foray into Montreal Demonstrations. Let me tell you, Montrealer’s really know HOW to Demonstrate. We do it for any kind of reason, and we have the numbers to prove it.

Back then I was warned to sew Canadian flags to my backpack, so as to not get singled out and pummeled by demonstrators. That was a rude awakening for sure.

When I moved here, back in 2002, I was not settled in the life I wanted just YET.

I had one foot in the South, and one foot in the North.

I had not figured out my loyalty or where I stood in the world, because, I had made the move, but it took time to find my feet, so to speak.

Today I am 100% Canadian. Both my feet are firmly planted in Canada.

I have only one connection to the U.S. which is necessary, because it pays our rent.

I reminded my friend today of sage advice he had given me all those years ago, because it applied to our conversation today.

Not knowing where to turn or what to do, and not trusting myself just yet, I needed to learn how to navigate the city, the university and my life.

My friend said this:

IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE TO GO, OR WHAT TO DO, SIT DOWN.

SIT DOWN RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE. TAKE OUT YOUR MAP, AND FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE TERRAIN AROUND YOU. TAKE STOCK, OBSERVE YOUR SURROUNDINGS AND GET A FEEL FOR WHERE YOU ARE.

CONSULT YOUR MAP AND FIND YOUR PLACE. WHEN YOU ARE SATISFIED THAT YOU HAVE THAT FAMILIARITY, AND ARE READY TO MAKE A DECISION ON WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NEXT, ROLL UP YOUR MAP, AND TAKE THAT NEXT STEP.

BUT NOT BEFORE YOU ARE SURE OF WHERE YOU ARE GOING.

I thought I needed to talk to my friend. In the end, I think he needed to talk to me.

My life is littered with little pieces of information, across a wide spectrum of topics. Like I said before, there are things I KNOW, for CERTAIN.

Life and Death are two of those certainties.

You never know what is gonna come at you. I sat with my friend, in the same cafe, that I spent 3 months talking to Elder’s Christensen and Sorensen. That is where I was introduced to the LDS Faith.

That was a whole other discussion. Let’s not go there.

Let’s just say that, that particular coffee shop, holds a very important place in my heart because that was where Spencer and I became best of friends.

I have a little of Spencer within me, which was very useful to me today.

My friend’s initial email said that … A lot had changed since we last saw each other, and somewhere, deep within me, I knew that the news was not going to be good. I was prepared for that possibility today.

I was right.

I know what it feels like to have someone tell me that I was gonna die. And I know what it feels like when someone close to you says the same thing, that they are going to die.

Today, my friend told me that he was terminal. That he had small cell Cancer, and that there was no cure, that every two months he goes for scans and right now, things are ok, but Fuck, you never know do you ?

What do you do in cases like these ? Swallow hard and try to find the right words to comfort and of understanding.

Been there, done that.

Spencer said to me earlier that I was in the right place for the right reason.

That my friend needed to talk to me, more than I needed to talk to him.

Spiritually speaking, we both are from Religious backgrounds. He teaches and IS an Anglican Priest. He was my teacher when I was working on my B.A. in Religion.

We both are Papabile.

And he knows my take on Saint John Paul II.

John Paul II always said that suffering is Salvific.

That there is saving grace in suffering, that suffering is something humans must do, it is unavoidable. Looking at it spiritually through John Paul II’s lens … We are saved through our suffering.

For many, many years, as a pope watcher, I studied John Paul II intimately. Like I have studied Francis intimately too.

I jokingly said to my friend today that maybe he should pray to John Paul. You never know when the intercession of a saint might work.

He admitted that he was in the Final Season of his life, and that he really needed to know what his calling was to be at this juncture of time. I asked him the very same question.

I told him what I did and how it felt. He told me to listen to God and to survey my life and see what I do well. And maybe, in determining what I do well, just might be, in certainty, what I need to do now.

We asked the same question of each other, HE had the answer for both of us.

Normal, mortal, human beings, never think about death and dying until it hits them squarely between the eyes.

We in fact, my friend as professor and I as student, had a class together called:
Death and Dying.

Nobody thinks about dying till they lose a parent or child. That is the ultimate loss. Friends and extended family, might be serious, but the further you travel from the trunk of the tree, the less the sting.

Having experience in Death and Dying, sets me apart from all of my friends and fellows. I have knowledge that not many people have inside of them, because I have been to the graveyard myself and picked out my plot.

Then I survived and realized that I did not need it.

While working at the bar, all those years ago, Todd’s lover Bob, lay in the graveyard that was located just across the street from the bar itself. Todd knew death already. And around us the next onslaught of death was taking place.

Todd kept me too busy to focus on dying.

That Pin Point Precision knowledge saved my life.

I know that with the utmost certainty.

If it were not for Todd’s Love and Grace,
(read: If not for God’s Love and Grace) I would not be here right now.

We all will die but it is not up to us to make the decision as to when.

However some want that choice here in Canada, to choose their own route, method and date. I want that choice for myself, I do really. I’m not going to end up in some hospital shitting in a diaper, unable to speak or feel.

I am going to go out on my own terms.

Today began another journey of walking someone I love to the final gate.

With Courage, Love and Compassion.

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.