“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”
We Agnostics, page 51.
Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.
One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.
They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.
The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …
God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.
Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.
That visual is burned into the back of my mind.
I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.
I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.
At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.
Talk about being resentful and angry about God.
My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.
I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.
On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.
What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.
On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.
As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.
Never be thankful for a terminal disease.
Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.
I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.
God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.
What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.
It is the power of God that makes this story critical.
Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.
As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.
On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,
“What was I supposed to do now.”
I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.
When he drove off, my life drove off with him.
I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.
All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.
Obviously, that plan never happened.
My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.
On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.
My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.
Got that one wrong too.
I did drink again.
At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.
I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.
- A hangover
- An Alcoholic
- And Get me to a Meeting
God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.
I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …
Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.
God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.
I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.
God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.
There IS a GOD, and I am not God.
Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.
None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.
Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.
If my story dies, I will die with it.
Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.
I made it to 51.
Let’s PARTY !!!
Severus Snape was in the employ of Voldemort, on the night he heard the first portion of Professor Trelawny’s prophecy regarding the child who would vanquish the Dark Lord.
Would it be Harry, Or would it Be Neville Longbottom. It was a toss up.
We know now who that child was and is.
Severus had a saving grace. Lily Potter.
There were two sides to the bravest man at Hogwarts. In his death, Harry learns the truth about his nemesis and Potions Master, Defense Against the Dark Arts Master, and Headmaster of Hogwarts.
This is a convenient visual to tell this little story about my brother.
I believe in that every human being has, within them, redeeming quality.
That we carry that one part of ourselves, unseen to the rest of us, that only they might, or might not know exists. I believe, that with time, growth, spiritual awareness and truth, we eventually find that redeeming quality, and we either embrace it or we ignore it.
People have a choice in this life. To DO Good, To BE Good, and To Honor Good. or They live their lives in the manner they choose, ignoring the light and living in the dark.
I’ve learned a great deal about spiritual truth in fifty odd years of life, coming from a bevy of teachers, spiritual and secular. Along with sixteen plus years of sobriety, a university education, spiritual teaching and living in the light for the whole of my sobriety, I have come a long way, in understanding redemption.
My Father and my Mother, for the WHOLE of our lives, my brother and myself, lived in a place of judgment and resentment, and darkness. I have stories about where this might have originated.
Childhood, Abuse, Alcoholism, War, Anger, Betrayal …
We are all products of our environment.
My parents come from rough backgrounds. And who they became after we were born, was a direct result of everything that happened to them in the past. Because it informed who they would become.
My Grandmothers; Jeannie, and Camille, were LOVE. Multiplied. My Aunt Paula, was Love Multiplied. Without those three women in my life, to this day, my father would have succeeded in killing me as a child, and probably would have gotten away with it, if I ponder for a moment, justice in the 1970’s and the prevalence of PTSD, that we knew nothing about for decades to come.
Even though my parents lived in hatred and resentment, they had their moments, when you could be mistaken that they did actually love their children. Least of all me.
Poison is Poison. And Life is Life. And this is the TRUTH:
My parents created me in a heated moment of passion in the back seat of a car, in a drive in, that every time we drove past it, my mother would BOAST that I was created there, happenstance.
In the end, as time went on, I was the MISTAKE and my brother was the CORRECTION.
I grew up in this dichotomy of love versus hate. When I knew life at home was no longer viable, I chose to leave, opting never to tell anyone I was gay. My twenties were a wash out, and a complete failure. Who do I blame for what I did not know?
I left my brother in this mix. I did not come back home. I never contacted him, and he never contacted me. We lived separate lives, to this day.
He does not know me, and in the same way, I do not know him.
My mother’s curse fell down around me. Both my parents got terribly sick. My mother survived, but she is a feeble human being today, with very little to live for, but to stoke the hatred in her heart till she takes her last breath, I am sure.
As long as she still breathes, and lives under my brothers roof now, my brother will never come to recognize his One Redeeming Quality, because it is hidden within him.
YET, over the past years, that redeeming quality, presented itself in peculiar behavior, that at times belie him. He communicates with Black Listed family, on the odd occasion. Which is how I keep tabs on him, through a back channel he knows nothing about.
In the same token, when my brother uses back channels to communicate, my parents are none the wiser. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. He made specific communications prior to my father’s death.
There is a kernel of remorse within him. A kernel of goodness, A kernel of hope.
I learned this from my aunt.
When my father died, I scoured the web looking for him, only to fail. It took me to a government cypher, whom I paid for critical information that I needed.
I phoned my brother twice. The first call was Not So Sober at all. The second call I made was much more civil.
On the Wednesday after my father’s death, my brother called me, told me to lose his number and hung up on me.
He redeemed himself, when twenty minutes later he called back to apologize for hanging up on me, and we had a protracted, and rather angry exchange. But he called a second time.
There is goodness in him still.
Knowing his propensity for back channel communication, and his small attempt, in a very small way, to say something quietly, without saying it openly,
That is his TELL.
And if I am to believe my aunt, that there was a 99% chance he read my letter, tells me that part of him wants to know, however hard he tries to be angry with me, I believe that kernel is there, and when the darkness that surrounds him dies, once and for all, he will be free of that evil cunt energy.
When she is dead, that cunt; he will have to go on with his life. Once they are dead, he can carry forwards their vitriol and anger and resentment, or he will EVOLVE.
And IF he read my letter, he knows ALL the TRUTH. He knows ALL the LIES, and he finally knows MY story, from the beginning to the present day.
That will be a huge paradigm shift in his life that might take awhile to make sense, after a lifetime of not knowing me or having me in his life.
He was loved by the same women who loved me. That love, passed on in Jeannie, Camille and Paula is what sustains me and has sustained me for the whole of my life.
That love exists within my brother too.
He was caught in a No Win Scenario, a Kobyashi Maru scenario.
What was he supposed to do, walk away, and leave my parents? God forbid he had done that, walked away like I did, cleanly, never looking back! Imagine how this huge shit hole of a situation would have played out had my parents been left to their own devices.
I close my eyes and I can see and hear: THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES
playing in my mind.
My brother was their care taker, because both my parents believed I was the mistake and not part of the family. My brother said to me that I had made a choice, NOT to be a part of this family. He is correct in that assessment.
What he did not know, unless he read my letter, is the WHY ?
If he read my letter, then he knows the truth from my own lips.
I give him the opportunity to redeem himself. I opened the door to his future, a future with me in it. But that will only be his choice to make, if and when the time and the climate is right. I cannot hunt him and force him into seeing the truth as it is.
He has to come to that realization on his own.
A Good Sober Sponsor, does not chase their sponsees.
We point the way to the truth and let you decide you want it.
And if and when he decides what he wants. I will be waiting.
Severus Snape will again be redeemed.
Because I am sure he remembers who I am.
Because in his small ways, his “TELL” tells me he remembers.
For all his harshness and anger and resentment, he knows deep within who I am.
And it will be a glorious day when he gets there himself.
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.
I have friends who are teachers, students, and fellows in Religion Circles. Religion, for many, is a dying subject. Like some of my friends, my Religious education went nowhere. I spent countless monies and years of my time studying a subject that would not produce a career in my chosen field.
My friend Steve, works in Manhattan, in the publishing field. He also is a student of Religion and studied Old World Languages and Religions of the far East and taught religion for a while, until he fell out of favor with those he worked beneath.
Steve has a blog I read daily. There is always something to learn about life.
Tonight I am posting his entry for Sunday: Uncomfortable Truth
Ugly. That’s not a word I use lightly. The phenomenon of racism is ugly. More than that, it’s insidious. I recently attended a community course on racism sponsored by the Central Jersey Community Coalition. Since our government won’t condemn racism our communities must. This five-hour course was an eye-opener for me. I had known that race was a social construct with no basis in biology or any kind of science. What I hadn’t realized is that race was invented as a means of maintaining “white” power. And it was done so deliberately. The course leaders outlined the history of the modern concept of race and showed how it is primarily an American phenomenon (not exclusively, but it was intentionally orchestrated here). The idea was to keep property in the hands of wealthy whites.
During the discussion many topics came to mind. The primary two, for me, were capitalism and the Bible. These strange bedfellows are far too comfortable with one another. Both can be made to participate in the racism narrative. Capitalism appeals to the basest and most vulgar aspects of being human. Greed and selfishness. Wanting more for me and less for you. As one participant put it, it’s a zero-sum game. Your loss is my gain. We support this system every time we buy into the myth that life is about consuming. Buying more. Contributing to the economy. That which is lost is mere humanity. This is the narrative our government has adopted. The election of one of the uber-wealthy has demonstrated that with a nuclear missile shot heard round the world.
And what of the Bible? As the story of the flood unfolds in the book of Genesis, Noah develops a drinking problem. Naked in his tent, his shame is seen by his son Ham. Hungover the next morning, the only righteous man alive curses his son’s progeny. Then after the tower of Babel story, those cursed races, in biblical geography, end up in Africa. Christian preachers long used this myth as the justification of slavery. Races, after all, were decreed by God at that very tower. The tower shows us for who we truly are. Human hubris led to divine folly. And now we have a nation of liberty built on the basic premise of inequality. Racism is beyond ugly. It’s evil. The Bible may be complicit, but we need to take over the narrative. Race does not exist. Scientifically there is no such thing. Although race doesn’t exist, racism most assuredly does. Like all evils we must bring it to the light to make it disappear.
What are we without our stories? Stories about ourselves, our friends, and those who are not really our friends. I believe strongly, that the only way we learn how to do things, how to learn things, and how to teach things, is to watch how others do those very same things themselves.
In my life, I have battled in Theodore’s Arena. But for the most part, I may be guilty of sitting in the stands and sharing my commentary of other fighters in the arena in that moment.
At this stage of the game, I own my actions and my decisions. I’ve got serious sober time under my belt, and have reached the ripe age of fifty. I can talk all I want to talk, provided, I have some knowledge of the subject I am talking about.
I’ve long contended that the way I stay sober, one day at a time, is to watch my peers work to stay sober themselves. And over the time I have worked on my own sobriety, I collect the stories of those around me and I share them here with you.
A man I know, who is in the arena right now, does not want to know me, nor does he listen to anything I say to him. And my elder friends tell me to stop wasting time on him because there are plenty of others who want to hear what I have to say.
But as social media goes, that man does not listen to me in real life, but he reads my blog, Go Figure … I wrote about him anonymously. Did not mention his name, but upon reading the words I wrote, he went back into community and dragged my name and my reputation through the mud.
Several others took to social media to warn others getting sober in Montreal not to attend meetings with me, and to stay away from me and not talk around me because they too will become targets of my story telling.
Fuck Me Right ?
I do know a little about getting sober, because I have watched countless men and women walk around in the dark, drinking, using and fucking up their lives continually over years and years. Meanwhile I sit in meeting and say the same things, give the same advice, offer the same help to everyone.
In order to find community as The Spirituality of Imperfections states, we need to find other story tellers. We need to seek, and within that seek, we may be found by others. In giving it is that we receive. In sharing with others we get in return.
Which is the way I roll. I share my stories with you about me, and I also share stories about others, to tell you what is working and what is not working. I see mistakes and I record them for posterity. Other people in the arena need to know where the pitfalls are, where the ditches are, and where the other warriors are in relation to themselves.
I don’t give advice that I have not taken and/or worked out myself. I have no right to give advice to others, if I know that advice did not work for me.
I stay sober, by watching my friends make mistakes.
I know all the excuses people make. I know what little work they will do to get sober. All I have to do is ask one question of a potential sober encounter …
I give them my phone number and I say – Call Me Every Day !!!
That one command sends people running for the hills screaming.
There you have it. They will come to the meeting and wrestle with their angels, but damn your request for someone to use their phone as it was intended to be used.
I changed tack. I moved the space. I shut down the old site. I opened this one.
Because this is my space. A space that I choose what to do with and to what end.
People who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it. It goes just the same, that people who do not learn from their mistakes, are doomed to repeat them, over and over.
I have the knack to be able to point out mistakes and say, “Hey, do you see this, this mistake you keep making ? Stop it already.”
Life does not have to be so difficult if you follow certain spiritual principles.
I, at least, have read the books, and several of my friends have read the books.
The advice is the same to everyone.
Read The Book.
I wrote this piece of advice to a complete stranger, a young lady, who is in Nepal, the other day. It changed her life. Just the effort to stop for a moment and share some advice.
Hello. I’ve been following for a while now. Not many people would take that “Leap” into the unknown and just go with it. Many do not have the ability nor financial means to do what you are doing either, because in many places, we are taught that the 9 to 5 grind is THE way of life, and there can be no other. Men and Women like you who say NAY to that and go do that have courage of conviction.
Do Not Leave Prematurely, that place you are in right now, before you get the puzzle pieces you need to move forwards. Have painful conversations, ask tough questions, Live, Live, Live, life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving. You are in an amazing part of the world. See it all. If if you need to see MORE, then see more. You said this is your time to sort yourself out. How long does that take, well, it depends on you doesn’t it ? Sorting ourselves out can take a lifetime. I encourage you to immerse yourself in every little thing, person, experience, food, spirituality, hope, belief.
I know what it feels like to make that leap. Been there, done that too.
Find the life of your dreams, and if you stay where you are, if you find you cannot go back, you will find a way to survive. We don’t necessarily have to go BACK. We can, go forwards too. Have you thought about that ? The world is a big place. And there might be one special place that speaks to your heart and your soul. Only you would know that. Seek it.
You never know where you will meet someone who needed to hear what you had to say to them, and know, that you did, change a life for the better.
It was a good day. Filled with friends and good wishes. I started the day with a stiff broom, sweeping out the trash. I got my laundry done in the morning. I can toss a load in the washer and then get my grocery shopping done during the dry …
I even got a nap in.
Tonight we went to Fire Grill. I had invited my friend Juan and his girlfriend Nadia to join us for a meal. It was really nice. We don’t get to spend much time together outside of meetings, so tonight was a treat.
I have a plan. And this week that new plan begins.
We are going to go meet new people and hit some new meetings.
Now we will all find out what living in my fifties is going to look like together.
Thank you all for subbing and reading and joining the conversation.
Writing this little blog is an act of love, every day.