Giving It Away

Lorna Kelly …

On the way to the meeting tonight, I listened again to Lorna speak. I constantly learn new things on every pass. And she says, in the beginning of her shares …

“It would be arrogant of me to think that something I say could possibly help you, when in reality, God thinks I need a lot of help …”

We talked about giving it away. The reading from A.B.S.I was a wonderful read tonight. It brought back many wonderful memories for all of us sitting at the table. Among our group is our local rehab coterie of men and women who come from far away, to get a handle on their stories, and to stop putting gas on an already burning fire that is addiction.

We’ve taken them to our hearts in a way that we have not seen in a long while. They have endeared themselves to us, and we have adopted them into our family. In a little over a week, they will leave Montreal for places far and wide. And hopefully, something they have heard in the past twenty one days will stick.

Talk about memories, always gives rise to much Gratitude.

When this kind of discussion begins, everyone always starts with the day they walked into our specific room, feeling how they felt, when they walked in the door, and how warmly they were met and how they were cared for, in ways they did not imagine could be possible.

Lorna is apt to say, and she does say, that “Every time I speak, I must get my story straight, because every time I tell it, I see it differently, than the time before.” She goes on to say that “Only those folks with long term, LONG TERM sobriety, can really get their stories in a cellular way. We learn how isolated we really were in the bitter end of our disease.”

Working with others came up as well. Nobody has a firm grasp on how that works, because for every man and woman sitting in the room, there are ways of reaching out and working with others.

Some feel that stepping out of their comfort zone and chatting up a newcomer is daunting. And it is.

Over the last little while, I have been testing my chops in asking hard questions and seeking hard answers. Because I question what I know and how I know it, and how to apply what I think I know, against, what I do not.

I step out and ask questions, to which some old timers look at me cross eyed and tell me just to shut up and say nothing, keep my mouth shut and sit here and be shoveled shit night after night like they do.

NOT !!!

It was twelve years before I walked into working with others, because I did not know what I did not know. I did not know I had what it took, nor that I really had a grasp on my own story, to be able to help another human being with their stories.

When I met Bob, and he turned me on to Intentional Prayer, the Three, Seven, Eleven shuffle, he told me that at some point, those words would work themselves into my heart, and out to the universe. And he said to me that if I did this prayer ritual, my life WOULD change.

And it did…

The first time my phone rang in the middle of a meeting, was a surprise. I did not know the boy on the other end, of the line, and I did not know how he got my number, but at that point, he was hysterical, and he called me, of all people.

I finished the meeting and went to him, which began a two year odyssey of sobriety. It was a hard slog, and we learned a lot about each other. But in retrospect, I think an entire group of people had an idealistic vision of me as a placid, non feeling, eunuch, that felt nothing and could do no wrong. And that was sustainable until it wasn’t.

One fateful business meeting was all it took, to shatter the placid calm, layer of myself, when in a moment of stress I raised my voice, and all of my guys went running for the hills, never to speak to me ever again.

That was not a very good outcome of working with others.

Business meetings will do that to you, eventually.

At least I have my guys today, that I have been working with for multiple years, and out of that work, came two best friends who care about each other, their significant others, fiancees, and wives.

Along the way, I have a friend, outside the rooms. A young man who we have cared for, for many years, who stood up for me at my wedding as my best man. Two days ago, his wife gave birth to their fist son, Benjamin.

His first wards to me were these …”Oh My God, his feet are so small!” And I replied, “Yes, you have a little person to care for now, do your best.”

I’ve seen marriages, proposals, and now children come for my friends. My best friend Juan and his wife were married last July and my best friend will be married in 2020. And my buddy in the states is a new father.

We could not be happier for all of them.

Lorna goes on to say that “She does not know if she even ‘has it’ until she has given it away.”

Working with others begins with a conversation. A common idea, a common feeling, a common story element, that brings two people together to talk about that commonality. What happens next is all up to our Higher Powers.

I have a friend, I’ve been working with for a little while. He is newly sober, and came to a meeting one night and begged God the Promises. And I told him to hurry up and wait !

That begging began a discussion, that is still on going.

You never know, one of my best friends said tonight, that something you might say, the littlest of compassion, or the kindest of words, can change the trajectory of someones life in a way we might never have seen, had we not stepped up and shared a little bit of ourselves with someone in difficulty.

It happens … Not very often, so when it does, people pay attention to little things.

Kindness and warmness of heart is key. We never know when someone walks into our space where they are, in their lives, so we talk, honestly and truly. The Friday meeting is a special meeting, because it is the only one of its kind, in “living room” appeal.

Tonight, we tripled our attendance. The weather is growing warmer by the day, and so people are coming out of hibernation, and returning to the old haunt once again, and we could not have been more grateful tonight.

You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know that you have it, until you give it away. And if you don’t try, you remain ignorant of your own abilities. So we encourage our men and women to step boldly into their sobriety and step up and be counted.

You never know if something you have can change a life for the better.

If not Now, When ? If not Me, then Who?

Every day we have a chance to be kind. It is far too easy to be kind, than to be unkind. It takes more energy to be unkind and uncharitable.

Spend your energy wisely.

It will do you and the one you help more good than you ever imagined.

One Day at a Time.

Gratitude Overflowing …

I Know How You Feel

The One thing that unites alcoholics comes down to one phrase:

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DEALT WITH THAT

The One Thing we can always count on, in the rooms, is there is usually, I don’t say always, because I am unique, usually someone who identifies with what we say, and can offer wisdom, based on their own experience.

Sadly, I’ve only heard this sentence spoken by one human being, in all my years of sobriety. Lorna, was the woman who shared this piece of advice with us, to give us hope that we were not alone in our struggles.

She gave this advice, because she knew Mother Teresa of Calcutta. They spent a lot of time together, prior to Mother’s death. Mother Teresa knew of every kind of suffering, and she knew how to deal with every kind of suffering. The one area that stumped her, was the Alcoholic.

She would ask Lorna about alcoholics, about meetings, and about Lorna’s story. She was so interested, Lorna once quipped to Mother, “Mother, are you sure you don’t have a problem?” At which point, Mother would genuinely giggle out loud.

The one thing Mother Teresa did not have was A STORY. She did not have those words of everlasting life…

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

I keep Lorna, close to my heart. Since she passed a few years ago, her words ring truer every day that I stay sober, because it is she I go back to when I need the voice of an elder who I knew personally, had conversations with, and fellow shipped with here in Montreal.

I had several conversations earlier tonight with friends. And the wisdom I draw upon, is mostly observational and my skills at listening attentively. I trust very few people in sobriety, with ME. I share myself quite liberally with my peers, and those I work with on a regular basis.

My experience with long sober people is hit and miss. As How it Works says, “We are not saints.” That can be said for every one of us. We have learned recently that, under the cover of anonymity, people feel safe to say just about anything in open community, with the proviso that, nothing they say, can be used against them, somewhere else.

My lady friend who chaired the business meeting that got very ugly, said to me tonight, that the wisdom she drew was this … “There are points in my journey that I have shared certain things, “in community” that, now make me cringe, that I even said what it was I said.”

Alcoholics are not perfect. By any stretch.

But we try, at least. I’ve been trying for a very long time, to keep it together and become more spiritually fit, as was pointed out to us this evening, by our speaker. I might be sober, but, if I am not spiritually fit, then why bother?

It concerns me, deeply, the lengths I go to to work my program, be present, do service, and help others. What is most egregious is that, there is not one old timer, that I know, over as many years, who has walked up to me and asked me out for coffee, to chat, to point something out, or just to connect.

I have experience with men who have time, and have wronged me in the worst way, who, still to this day, have never returned to set the record right. So I stay away from those men. I don’t talk to them, I don’t attend the same meetings they populate, and I surely don’t carry their numbers in my phone.

I just don’t find it advantageous to go out of my way to be friends with someone who really does not care about me, period!!!

I sit in meetings right now, and I wonder, does anybody notice? Not that I am speaking about my ego, because I am not.

I’m speaking honestly.

I have three friends, right now, who have my number. My best friends, and a young man I work with occasionally. They are the only three people who use my number regularly. Old timers come to meetings, say hello, and beyond that, any other words are negligible.

Over the last many years, when I was in the dumps, and in need of another human being, to step up and say those magic words to me, when I was at my worst, during the very worst period in my entire sobriety, not one man or woman came and said anything to me.

Yes, I admit that an Angry, Gay, Alcoholic, is not pretty. Being who I am, being a Gay, HIV+, Crazy, Alcoholic does not register, because there is NO ONE in rooms who share any segment of my story, with me.

Yes, we might be alcoholics, but nobody seems to be interested in conversation, beyond pleasantries while sitting in the same room.

I thought to myself, before I started writing this piece, that I feel like I’ve been sold a harsh bill of goods. Like I have been short changed. Since the day I got sober, no one has presented the book to me, in any form, that resembles any sober method, I have heard worked in other places.

Last fall when I worked my last round of steps. I was given a glimpse of what the secrets of the Big Book Held for me. By someone not my gender, nor my age, nor the length of sobriety. I chose her because of who she was and what she represented to me at the time. Yes, we read the book, I worked my steps again, but when we got to page 164 … she was done, so to speak.

She had walked me through the front of the book, and I was on my own to divine whatever it was I am supposed to figure out, with another layer of sobriety laid open.

I’ve said this before … Sober, Old Timers, are thin on the ground. Sober, Spiritually Fit, Old timers, are even more rare. The choices in our section of town are thin.

I stay away from Terminally Straight Men, for obvious reasons.

What does a hockey loving, pussy chasing, terminally straight man, have in common with a Gay, HIV+, Crazy alcoholic, beyond a shared addiction to alcohol. I’ve watched men like this in community. Their history with interactions with me, were less than stellar.

I’ve said this before, I only take to being ignored, so far. Especially, if ignoring me includes a meal. If you cannot bother to break bread with me and share a table with me and get to know me, then why bother ???

People like to quote the book to me. And tell me how inclusive they are, as fellow alcoholics, and how people care about each other, until it comes time to sit down for a meal, as one, two, then ten men, walk by and sit somewhere else, to eat, rather that be caught dead at my table,

I have your number…

So I wonder, does it matter that I go to meetings? Does it matter to anyone that I have been spinning my wheels for a long time, and that long sober counsel is evidently missing from my life. And that I am drawing at straws to figure out how to stay spiritually connected to my higher power.

I do homework. I am always looking to find the next best thing to learn about myself. Cue me some Brene Brown, some Oprah, and Ted Talks, and sober shares by old timers who live somewhere else, who came here to speak at a Round Up, so I have them on my phone. So I can readily go back and listen to them talk to me.

You know, I could sit in the middle of a meeting and yell “FIRE” and see if I get a reaction. I know, it is against the law to walk into a space and yell the word “FIRE!”

I don’t know if people, listen to me, to the degree that I listen to them? I’ve spent the better part of my sobriety, listening to everybody else. And from that listening exercise, I have observational data about my peers. If you sit in the same room for any length of time, let’s say 12 years, and you’ve watched people come and go, some stay, some grow up, others, not so much, you learn a lot about your peers.

I said this yesterday, In as many years, I know, directly, everything that my friends did in sobriety. I listened to them talk, to bitch and moan. I watched them make decisions, and act, and from all this data, I got sober, by either doing what was working, or NOT DOING what did not work.

I made decisions based on how others attacked similar problems and situations. I sought the advice of people I trusted. I stayed sober, by the book, doing what I was told to do, by those who came before me, and set the table for my success.

Sobriety in 2019, is not the same sobriety of 2001.

I said this earlier, old timers might still be around, who were sober when I came in, whether they are stable, spiritually fit, sane, old timers, is the question. I can count on one hand, how many people, from my specific sobriety period, who are still sober, on their first pass.

I’ve practically outlived my friends, in sober terms.

I don’t necessarily believe I am always spiritually fit, and I admit there is always room for improvement. I don’t always have all the answers, but if faced with working with others, I draw on years of observational data, and years of listening to people suss out how to deal with situations we find ourselves in today.

There are very few, if any, folks, who will approach me and offer an opportunity to share, beyond sitting in the same room for an hour.

WHY ???

I don’t know why.

It think it goes like this … Friendship is Reciprocal. Or Supposedly, that’s how friendships work. At least, my friends reciprocate.

If pressed, in sobriety, when you ask an alcoholic to do something, the stock answer is always Yes. Inside a meeting.

Usually, if you ask an alcoholic to do something outside a room, the yes answer is a 50 / 50 chance.

If you sit at home, hoping that certain alcoholics are going to think about you, or call you, or invite you out for coffee, or even call to see if you are ok, after some particularly, serious meeting, or issue I laid on the table for consideration, the reciprocal action is absent.

I stopped being kind and over extending myself, my husband, and my dinner table, to people who never reciprocated. I’ve changed up my holiday roster of invitees. I don’t feed old timers, like I used to, I stopped associating with the old, catty, and vindictive queers.

Not One Gay Man, in the rooms, has anything in common with me. And they have made that perfectly clear to me over the years. You know, after a few meetings, who are your friends, and who puts up with you, because you share a meeting. And I know who does not care for me, or my style of sobriety.

There is no love lost on many people. I know, for the last seventeen years, who stood with me during my stormy period and who did not. I kept on, keeping on, by doing what it was I was told to do when I first got sober.

Suit Up, Show Up, Make Coffee, Shake Hands, Be Present, Listen

These simple guidelines did the trick. I am still sober.

I tell them to young people, and they look at me with the Side Eye. Like I am someone from outer space. Folks getting sober, make life so much more complicated today. When a simple suggestion, if followed to the letter, WILL produce immediate results, folks would rather eat dirt.

Fuck me for trying …

I’m feeling all kinds of fucked up right now.

Not sure what I should do right now, so I will sleep on my words, and tell my best friend, tomorrow.

At least I have three friends, at the moment, I can count on.

Old Timers, not so much.

I go where I think I need to go, and talk to people I am familiar with, who at least, have known me for a long time, who don’t necessarily communicate outside a meeting, because they have lives, too.

It is Friday. The Best night of the week, at least it used to be.

It is Winter …




Monday: Can It Really Be That Simple ?

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Five years have passed, since I met Bob and Lorna here in Montreal, at the Dorval Round Up. They, members of The Atlantic Group, in New York City, had been invited here to share their methods of working The Book, and their brand of sobriety.

It came as a surprise to me, when at one point, Bob looked at the crowd, from the lectern and raised The Book in his hands and asked if people actually read the book ?

People shook their heads … No they didn’t.

He then continued with a question …The Prayers, that are in the book, Do you say them, The Prayers, he questioned ?

People shook their heads … No they did not know the prayers from the book.

After that talk, I went up to Bob and asked him what he meant, because I was twelve years sober at that point and had read the book many times over, and worked series of steps as well. Nobody took the constituent parts of the book, and ever broke them up for me, giving me a plan of action to follow.

People in Montreal Sobriety are like … Aw, we’ll do it later…

Bob said to go to the book and write out the Third, Seventh, and Eleventh Step Prayers on paper and put them where I would see them. Pray them, say them, recite them daily.

By then, a friend had given me the very same prayers on little cards, which I did attach to my computer, so I would see them all day and night.

Everything starts with prayer and meditation.

Just prior to the Round up, I met some of my long time women friends, now, working steps with their women, then. They read the book before meetings, and they were doing this 10th step, which turned into an arranged phone call the next morning.

I Had no idea what that was all about, but many guys were intrigued.

Months went by, prior to the Round Up, watching this go on in front of us. We finally asked some of the women to sponsor us, so we could do it too …

They said No to that request.

Bob said to me, at that Round Up, that if I prayed every day, like I meant it, or would learn how to mean it, that my life would change.

It did … About six months later.

A Vision for You, comes to mind.

I finally knew, what it was that I had to give. One night my phone rang, and not long after I met my now best friend, too. Since that time, only my best friend and my friend Juan, still exist in my sober working life.

But I know what it is that I have to give.

I’ve got five years of working the Book, the Steps and the Prayers, the way I was taught to do, by people, who were not from here.

I talk about this process to people at meetings, and they cannot seem to wrap their heads around this Very Simple Process.

The Big Book, is NOT Rocket Science.

It took Bob and Lorna to show me how it was done. I learned that process, and I have refined that practice, over the last five years. I took another soul through the book this past fall. He’s sort of disappeared since.

I use the tenth Step and the eleventh step daily myself. And I show new prospects how to write a simple inventory at night, even if they aren’t at step ten or eleven yet. Because if you begin to practice prayer and meditation, early on, you will know how they work when you finally reach that point in your steps.

Basic simple inventories are good for simple, on the ground conversations, later. Because they give us something to talk about. Like a simple template.

Our young people cannot be bothered to ponder simple templates.

That’s just too much to process for them.

And I heard it again tonight. One of my young people, whom I have reached out to over and over, tell us how insane he is in his head and that he needs simple direction to get himself on the beam, and I just stared at him incredulously …

Really ? What have I been telling you over these past six months ????

Numb and Dumb …

The Book is not rocket science.

The message has been lost on complicated minds.

The Depths of Loneliness …

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Only those people who have serious long sober time, realize the depths of just how lonely we were. That takes A LOT of time, in sobriety.

Lorna Kelly said that about her life. She said this to us when she was here in 2012. And I listen to her share continuously. Because she was right.

A newcomer sat with us tonight. And the default for the meeting format when someone is at their first meeting, we return to “More about Alcoholism,” And Step One.

I got to the hall first, and got the coffee perking and set up with a friend. As I was walking outside, one of our newcomers, as I approached him said to me … “Stay away from me and don’t touch me…” Not sure where he is in his head, but I am the least of his worries.

Being a third generation Alcoholic, I thought I understood what alcoholism was, by the way family treated the subject. My grand father, my father, and my uncles all drank.

The wives and the kids, never made much of it. It was an acceptable norm. Alcohol was a major food group. And nobody said a word edgewise about it, at least in front of me.

Those men all drank with impunity. They paid no consequences for their actions, because who was going to punish them or make light of the seriousness of the problem?

Functional alcoholism was the name of the game, for the whole of my life.

My grandparents had homes, families, cars, kids … It was picture perfect.

My paternal grandparents had a beautiful home, that I still visit in my mind’s eye. It was a safe place that I was protected and loved unconditionally. My Grammy filled me with that love, behind a very powerful and terrible secret of abuse, violence and pain.

The alcoholic men in my family were abusive in every sense of the word. And for the whole of my life, my grandmothers stood in the way of my father carrying a bat around chasing me around the house trying to kill me.

And that went on, with impunity. My mother allowed it to happen. Because she knew that if she said anything or got involved, it would be worse for her. She would never leave him nor say anything because he warned her that she would go with nothing but the clothes on her back. So she stayed …

Silence gives consent. We all know this today. Did she know that then? Probably not.

The obsession of every alcoholic is that some day we will be able to drink like everyone else. A friend said tonight that if she was controlling her drinking she wasn’t enjoying it, and if she was enjoying it, she wasn’t controlling it either.

I drank like everyone else in the family. One for One. I could out drink the best of them.

I thought that was normal.

I carried the delusion that as an alcoholic, following the example set by family around me, that “I Too” could drink with impunity. That there would be no consequences, that I would not pay for my addiction to alcohol. That nobody would call me on the carpet nor say a word about it.

I was very wrong about that. And I paid a price for that assumption.

My parents taught us all how to hate and how to resent someone, just because.

When I moved away from home, to be Gay, I was told that alcohol was the lube I would need to “get into community.” Now, I look back at it, it might have been fun, while it lasted, and I did have fun, but underneath, deep underneath, was utter loneliness.

I could not land a relationship to save my life. Not when alcohol was driving the situation. I got burned time and time again, by people who knew better than I did, how to burn another human being.

I’ve heard it said that, once we begin drinking in the morning, we have crossed that invisible line into serious alcoholism. That once we start with that “morning drink” the game is all but over. The end is nigh…

I was a particular alcoholic.

  • I never had alcohol in my home
  • I never bought alcohol from a liquor store, ever
  • I never bought hard drugs, but if you had them to share, I participated
  • I never drank in the morning, ever … UNTIL
  • I always had to go out to drink, I never drank at home

I know, for a fact, that the first morning I decided to keep drinking on the 23 hour drinking program, I had crossed that invisible line.

I know for a fact, that the morning I sat in that bar at 7 a.m. in the morning with another drink in front of me, all bets were off. And with that next drink, came two fellows with a proposition, which I participated in.

It was that day – that morning – in a haze of drugs and alcohol, that I took my life into my own hands, God be damned, for the fun that couple of hours would provide. In the end, I was the looser:

The BULLET was SHOT. And I was the TARGET.

In Fort Lauderdale, in those years, you could feasibly drink, 23 hours a day.

One bar opened at 7 a.m. and that started the ball rolling. You could easily drink all day, and well into the night, and well into the wee hours, until 6 a.m. The bars would close for that functional “Stocking” hour, and the cycle would begin again at 7 a.m.

I think, if memory serves, I only did the 7 a.m. run twice. Because by then, the damage was done. My choice to drink that particular morning, would eventually catch up with me, and take my life, right out from under me.

How can you think that the other alcoholics and their enablers, would step up to the plate and rally the troops and gather the wagons and horses and support you ?

Thank God … Thank GOD that TODD read GOD stepped in when they did.

I’ve never felt so lonely, alone, and helpless, like I was back then.

I know the depths of particular loneliness, not necessarily the alcoholic type of lonely, but the loneliness, of being tossed into the gutter and abandoned by people who should have loved me and cared for me, but that was just too much to ask of any of them, because they surely had no care nor love to give, because they did not have it while I was growing up.

So how could they tap a well that was eternally empty ???

Another young woman talked about what happened to her when she drank, at the bitter end … The Teleportation.

You know “teleportation,” you begin drinking in one location and mysteriously, without input from yourself, wind up somewhere totally different, beyond your understanding.

At the end of my drinking, I was teleporting too.

I was binge drinking back in those days. One night a week, on Saturday.

The bar opened at 11 p.m. by 11:30 I was already lit. At midnight, the dance floor opened, and I attempted to make it to the Bells at 1 a.m. A few drinks in, hoping that someone would notice me …

Mysteriously, I would lose time and location.

I could not figure out, and still, to this day, I have no idea what actually did happen, In one moment I was dancing in the club, and the next moment I was in my bed …

How I got from the dance hall, into a taxi, home to my building and through TWO secure locked doors, and into my bed, ESCAPES ME.

TELEPORTATION …

They also say that the only Step you need to do 100% is Step One.

I am an alcoholic and I am powerless over alcohol.

If I ever forget that, I will end up, like some of my sorry fellows stuck in that revolving door of addiction and alcoholism, very quickly.

I am not one of them, and I work very hard at remembering why. I study my friend, I parse their words and I collect their stories here, so that I don’t ever FORGET.

We know that when we begin drinking, our lives, our being become stunted. We remain who we are emotionally, at the time the drink began. And when we stop, we have to figure out how old we are emotionally, and begin rebuilding from there.

And IF we go OUT again, it only gets worse, never better. We could never recapture the glory of that BUZZ we got once, never to find it again.

Many come, Few stay, the first time around.

I’ve done my time in the furnace. TWICE.

I am not going back. As long as we read the book and work our steps.

We only have a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition.

Thank GOD … THANK GOD !!!

 

Is that ODD or Is that God ?

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For the second time in two weeks, whilst I was traveling about, today, my music shuffle landed on Lorna Kelly’s share at the West island Round Up in May of 2012.

Shifting from Music to a Pod Cast, on my I Phone usually never happened before, ever. For some oddly Godly reason, Lorna came to me in a whisper, again, I wrote about it when it occurred the first time.

Odd that Bob’s share from that same event, never comes up in rotation, but for some oddly Godly reason, she came up again today.

Last night was a hot mess. I’ve been keeping what’s going on with me outside of the house for such a long time, and after deciding I was no longer going to go to places where people are mean and hateful towards me, I was going to nap for the evening, like we usually do, but as it happened, I had an emotional meltdown in front of Hubby.

Not Pretty at all.

There are two Ted Talks I enjoy watching. One is called “The Fuck It List,” by Scott Jones. The other is “The Magic of not giving a FUCK,” by Sarah Knight.

At what point, in sobriety, are you able to say with certainty, that you don’t need a particular meeting, or that you don’t need to hang out with particular groups of people?

That is up for debate. Because even if you cut a meeting here or there, you still have to go to meetings, whether you like it or not. They are our bread ad butter of life.

There is a pattern to my meeting meltdowns, and people, places and things.

Over the whole of my sobriety, I’ve always been connected to a meeting, or several meetings. And I get situated at a meeting, do some service, and usually, as is the case, my capacity to endure meeting drama and bullshit has lessened over the years.

Alcoholics are only good for a limited amount of shelf life, until they either do something stupid or they say something stupid.

As a Gay, heterosexual men, fall n this category, all the time. The stupid, My dick is bigger than your dick, or my knowledge of hockey is the greatest, and / or I am SOOOO Sober, you’ll never be like me, routine.

I can smell an ego maniac at fifty paces. And there are certain men, of my acquaintance, that just rub me like spiritual sandpaper.

People piss me off – and I walk away from them. People are resentful that I was critical about them in the past, and many of them carry those resentments around their neck like jewelry. Over the years people have formed their opinions and to this day, many of them carry them and would rather hate and ignore me, rather than talk to me and find out what makes me tick. Not that I spared them that info at certain discussion meetings and certainly while we were reading the Big Book on Monday.

Several times I used the word FUCK in my shares, and that really got gasps from the crowd. People were like, Yup, there is something definitely wrong with Him !!!

I guess you can say that right now, there are a handful of people who are rubbing me like spiritual sandpaper. I don’t like it, but there is a lesson there for us.

This is what jumped out of her talk to day for me because this is right where I am at the moment.

We talk about peeling the onion in sobriety, Lorna likes to think of it as a LOTUS flower, that sits on a pad in the mud. It unfurls its petals all beautiful, and everything is there, the good, the bad, the ugly, the resentful and angry, the suicidal tendencies, all of it – along with all the good. The compassion, the loving, the generosity, and the gratitude.

Lorna talks about going to meetings. and how at times she FELT the most hateful, resentful, suicidal, or more angry in A.A. At the same time she felt more compassionate more loving, more generous and more grateful.

The negatives are all there, and so are the positives.

All those things are part of me, and I NEED to know those feelings, so that I can say

I know how you feel, let me tell you how I dealt with that.

The thing about US is that we have been to hell and are on the way back out of Hell.

We know how we feel, at least I do. And I am not shy about saying to someone that, You’ve done all this shit over and over, when are you going to sort yourself out, for God’s sake ?

We have a three fold disease. Mental – Physical – Spiritual … All three areas need attention all the time. If you don’t cover ALL your bases, you are on slippery ground, Lorna said. You cannot ignore one save for the other two or the other one.

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Spiritual

Elder Spencer and I spoke last night, and we talked about gifts.

He said to me and I quote …

He said that I was like a mirror. While he was here in Montreal we spoke all the time. And I learned about him and he learned about me. When he went home, there was a two month period where we had lost communication, and his life turned upside down.

The very first night, that we talked together on Hang Out, I spoke to him in truth and told him what I had seen, in what he had just told me about that portion of his journey, and I was able t mirror back to him what he really needed to hear.

Today, he is all the better, every week that we talk, that I get to mirror back to him, what he is doing and what needs to change, and what he needs to do.

And he does the same for me. He truly has many gifts as a young person.

Hubby said to me last night, that maybe I needed to keep my mouth shut and just go to a meeting, listen, participate and then LEAVE. Don’t stop for conversation and don’t give your two cents all the time. (Which I don’t really, unless someone asks me)

There are young people I know, that I strike up conversations with after a meeting because I want to know them and I want them to know me, not that I have anything to offer, generally, but you never know when a connection is going to pay out …

Most of those older queers and other folks who hate me, wouldn’t know feelings if they dropped on them like pigeon shit. And many of them wouldn’t know honesty if it bit them in the ass.

I study my friends and fellows like science projects. I am really good at that being university trained and educated. Knowing my history of wanting to know all the nitty gritty details of someone’s life.

Hell, I did that as a kid when I was a boy. I knew ALL of my family secrets by the time I was twelve years old for God’s sake.

I am angry. I am resentful. And I am Hateful.

Now that those feelings and emotions were brought up by Lorna’s share. I can see them now, and I know them. And I know what to do with them.

People are going to do what they do, even if I say something or I say nothing.

Like I said, most people don’t like my brutal honesty or as the book calls it:

RIGOROUS HONESTY …

But that’s the way the cookie crumble I guess.

Love me or Hate me, this is who I am in sobriety at this point of the journey.

A Fellow Drunk, Secrets and Sobriety

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Lorna Kelly, The First Female Sotheby’s Auctioneer, Died in June of 2016, SOBER …

This post, originally posted to my former blog, was written as a document. I had this exact conversation with a drunk, in person, to his face. And he told me to fuck off at the meeting.

So I came home and wrote down what I had said.

It wasn’t until he read these words for himself, did he get indignant, and send the Pitch Fork crowd after me, saying how terrible I was that I wrote about him, broke his anonymity, which I categorically DID NOT, by NOT mentioning his name at all in the piece, and that I had adversely affected his sobriety. Only he would have recognized the story was about HIM specifically.

He never approached me on that I wrote any of this, nor has he said a word to me since, not that he deigns to speak to me in public, anyways. He could not bear to speak to me because I was right. But he sent enough people to my blog to tell me that he was mad at me and that I had broken his anonymity. Which I Did Not…

So I shut down the blog and moved it here. And that FUCKER sees me in meetings now and does not even acknowledge that I am sitting a mere ten feet from his chair. Nor does he, in any way, make mention that he read the blog or has anything to say to me in public. Because he knows I was right and that HE is a PUSSY …

Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,

“Only You know what you do in secret…”

The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …

“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”

The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.

All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!

At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.

Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.

Straight men, in the corporate world, have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.

14 months ago, that few night slip, took place.

Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.

At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.

Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.

Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.

Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others.

Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.

And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.

You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been, the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.

For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.

My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.

Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…

My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.

He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.

Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.

He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.

Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,

“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”

Well, God knew. And He knew as well.

Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.

My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.

FAIL !!!

I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.

Because nobody wanted to sit with me nor help me …

Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.

Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.

Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.

More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …

Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.

She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.

The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …

She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….

The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.

I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.

I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …

Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
I wrote this on Friday before my birthday July 31st, which was a Monday this year.

There is a God and I am not He.

Some of my friends are not so lucky.

The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.

And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)

Part TWO of this story … If You Want What We Have …

This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.

Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.

I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.

A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

And we build Self Respect.

Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.

He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.

I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME

They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.

Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that minimal effort to look sober.

Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?

I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.

After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.

I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BIG BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …

WHO DOES THAT ???

I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him, prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.

I hugged him and walked away.

Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.

I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …

I said these words to another drunk. He balked and turned and walked away. A few days later, he reads my blog and get indignant and sends the Pitch Fork Crowd after me.

Hence, here we are safe, protected and away from prying eyes…

Wednesday: Whisper From Heaven

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Today was the day when chores needed to be done. Shopping, Sorting, Laundry and the like. I was up early this morning and now my laundry is washing. Now it is drying…

By the By I had set my music to shuffle. That has been the norm for the past few weeks. I was in the mall, heading to do some window shopping, and my music sort of stopped, and there was a pause, the next item that played was an entire Pod Cast from the West Island Round Up, that took place in 2012.

We like to say in these instances … Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

The very same year that God shook up my sobriety, via Bob and Lorna Kelly.

I have two sober talks on my phone, located under Pod Casts. They don’t usually come up in musical rotation, but today Lorna came up. And in retrospect, I take that as a sign that I needed to hear her share today.

A whisper from heaven.

Lorna Kelly, died in June of 2016. She had battled Cancer and had heart operations and although she had all these problems, when asked to come to Montreal to speak, she did it gladly. Still to this day, many of the things she speaks of, are relevant to my sobriety, and to everyone else who would have thought to have a copy of her share ready to load up and listen to now and then.

I take time, a LOT of time reading and listening to people. Hell, that’s what we do at meetings right ? Listen to each other. Unlike my fellows around town, after such meetings or listening to a speaker, I come here and I write out my thoughts as they come to me. People think I am offensive when I do this.

Lorna was a student and a participant in the life of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She wrote an entire book on the subject. Mother Teresa once said to Lorna, in a moment of compromise,

“You must protect this special gift!” Speaking of her sobriety.

On her sickbed, prior to Mother Teresa’s death, several sisters, Lorna and Mother Teresa were in Mother’s room. A young Indian priest came in the say mass. As the mass continued and communion came, the young priest comes round the bed and offers Lorna a host, that was dipped in the wine.

Not wanting to make a scene and make it all about HER, Lorna passed on the sodden host, to one of the sisters standing at her side. Then speaking reverently to the priest:
Yes, I want communion, but please don’t dip it in the wine …”

Wherein Mother Responded with “Well Done Lorna, you must continue to protect your special gift.”

A second story takes place in Kentucky at an Epicurean Feast.

This dinner party spread over two nights took place in a very fine mansion, with a grand ball room dining room, elegantly appointed. Everyone dressed to the nines, several chefs, gourmet food, and all the wine one could possibly want or need.

The first night went off without a hitch. Lorna had told the chefs that she could not have alcohol in any form, in any of her food, none whatsoever.

On the second night, she was sitting at dinner, when the pasta course came out. As the chefs came out to explain the dish, the host offered wine from his own wine cellar, and the guests were fascinated with the choice.

Fascinated so much that the woman sitting opposite Lorna commented to her that that particular wine was just amazing. And that Lorna should just taste the wine for the effect it had with the pasta dish now in front of them.

All the while, Lorna had not taken a drink. Nobody took notice until the woman sitting opposite her said to her: “Lorna You’re Not Drinking? No, she replied I’m not.”

And the snake of alcoholism began slithering across the table, through the glasses and cutlery, along the table and the snake came up and nuzzled Lorna up her neck to her ear and it whispered …

“Lorna, It wouldn’t be a slip, you don’t want to drink the wine, you merely want to taste it.” 

In that moment of decision, what did she do ?

She set her cutlery down and folded her hands in her lap and she recited the Serenity Prayer, and after a moment or two, took up her cutlery and finished her dinner.

It was only on the next morning as she was packing, that the truth of what happened the night prior, with that possible SLIP. Lorna fell to her knees in her room and she wept.

She says over and over, in quoting the Big Book:

That at some point in your sobriety, a time will arise, when the only thing that stands between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.

Many of my friends forgot this little piece of wisdom and drank again.

Lorna goes on to say that, “Only YOU know what goes on in your secret places.”

It is what we do in secret and the secrets we keep that impact if we stay sober or not. Sadly, many friends also forgot this wisdom. I don’t think many people think to bolster their spiritual condition by reinforcing everything we are taught and all the words that people have spoken to us. I know that I do.

Similarly – It all came down to One Decision, how the Fellowship began.

Heaven Held its Breath …

In Bill’s story, when he travels to Akron, Ohio to seal a business deal, that eventually falls through, Bill is only sober a short period of time. The meeting ends, Bill is shattered. The business has failed, and there he is standing in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron.

The SURE THING, the bar, off to one side of the lobby, the not so sure thing, the CHURCH DIRECTORY and the PHONE on the opposite wall, Bill stands at a cross roads.

In that moment of indecision, Heaven is Holding its Breath, waiting to see what choice Bill is going to make. In hindsight, the lives of millions upon millions of alcoholics, hang in the balance.

Bill is thinking the drink. It would be easy to just walk into that bar and escape his troubles. But, no, Bill says to himself,

“I don’t need a drink, I need another alcoholic!”

There it is. The seminal decision that starts the Fellowships ball rolling.

Bill walks over to the directory and begins making calls. having failed on several of them, he decides on Just One More Call. Henrietta Sieberling picks up and sets up the most important meeting of Bill’s life and sobriety.

The next meeting that Bill has is with one Doctor Bob Smith.

Offering Bill fifteen minutes for his troubles, their first talk lasts six hours. And Bob relates his thought that for the first time in his life, he had met a man who spoke his language and had been able to help Dr. Bob get sober, (not on the first round) but eventually Bob did get sober, it was all down to Bill’s life experience with alcoholism, from his own life that turned Dr. Bob’s life upside down.

And it is in that meeting that the fellowship of A.A. is born.

Lorna talks about Nikos Kazantzakis where he says:

TO ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SURE THING IS TREASON FOR THE SOUL.

Bill could have chosen the sure thing, the bar and a drink.

Lorna could have chosen the sure thing and taken a wine sodden host, or a sip of that wine at the dinner.

Both of these people, actually chose to do something different.

Both decisions, changed their lives, and in turn, enlighten our lives with their wisdom in not choosing the sure thing.

These are Spiritual Principles.

Spiritual Principles are truly the SURE THING in sobriety.

They never lead us to the wrong decision, if we remember to Stop-Drop-Pray and then:

Decide the better of the two options.