Short Changed …

Do you ever feel shortchanged in life ? Like one is not getting the whole story, or ALL of the TRUTH available ? Do you ever feel like the people you surround yourself with, or had surrounded yourself with were not being completely forthright with you ? Like they had the market on full disclosure and that you were not worthy of that full disclosure ?

Being Gay in a very Straight sober world has its PERKS, but it also has its drawbacks. I’ve been pondering this same truth about myself recently.

I sat with my sponsor the other day, and I shared with him my observations of people in our rooms here. Everything I said to him, about what has been my experience over the last eighteen years, he agreed with me. Because he has seen the same things with his own eyes.

A couple months ago, I changed up my game, and began attending a stand alone, closed men’s meeting, with a handful of men, I know well, and they know me well, because we attend other meetings together, and have been for a very long time.

One of those men, my new sponsor, I really enjoy sitting with him, because every time we sit together he tells me stories about his life. Usually, I leave home on a Wednesday night, uber early, so that I arrive at the hall, early, because I know my sponsor is going to be there. Which is where we began talking a couple of months ago. Talking more that we had been talking because of the spare time we have alone together to chat about life.

I used to hang around a group of long sober men, who, in reality, were not very sober, themselves. I used to go to Vermont with these men for step retreats. Being the only queer man in the sessions, nobody really engaged me honestly, and none of them desired to break bread with me either.

If you cannot break bread with me, I have no use for you.

For all those years, and even before, all my straight sponsors, save, just one, David, never gave me the full truth about alcoholism and The WORK. My step work was always cut short, incomplete.

Last year, when I sat with Noah, I chose to work with him, because I liked what he had to say, every time I heard him speak in a meeting. He knew what he was talking about, every time, with a conviction that was attractive to me. So I asked him to read me through The Book and The WORK.

I knew his sponsor, and he IS a no nonsense human being, who tells it like it is, every time, without fail. I loved that about him. So I knew Noah, got the very same truth, he would tell everybody else.

It was the first time, in all of my years sober, that someone told me the truth, and worked me through a full set of The WORK. He made me think, he asked me hard questions, and pushed me to grow up.

You can learn from many people in the rooms, no matter how long they are sober, if you listen well to them share, and you know just who they, themselves are working with.

I heard a lady share tonight, that “Sobriety, is cumulative. It is not just one thing that you do that makes the difference, it is all its constituent parts that make up the whole experience.”

She is right.

I read, A Lot. I pray as well. I read spiritual literature. I read The Book, and I work with others. I go to meetings, I do service. I do everything that was taught to me since the day I walked into my first home group here in Montreal. And I’ve been able to carry forwards that ritual work for all my years in sobriety. I still do the same thing I did eighteen years ago.

I make COFFEE !

I make coffee because I can get there as early as I want. Usually a hour or two prior to the first human being arriving. Because I know that if I build in that time, I usually get to have a one on one conversation with the first person who arrives as we drink our first cups of freshly perked coffee.

I got to have one of those conversations tonight, and it was fruitful.

The men I know, in the men’s meeting, tell me the truth. They are honest with me, because I try to be honest myself. I learn how to be sober, by doing what good sober people do. Good sober men are few.

There is a difference.

I know what I know today. And I know what I want for my sobriety now. Having thought about it over the past week or so. I’m tired of being short changed by men who think they are sober, but won’t tell the truth or give me all the facts, or give me true sober work.

I know what’s in the book. I’ve read it several times over. I’ve changed up my game enough to give me access to new men and women. Most importantly, the men at that men’s meeting on Wednesday.

If you feel like your sobriety has been short changed, there is a solution.

You just gotta do the footwork and find a meeting where there are long sober men and women who will tell you the truth.

I’ve been GAY a very long time. And I know most uber straight men don’t want anything to do with me, and I know that, by what they do, and what they don’t do, in front of me. If you have to overcompensate, and constantly piss in front of me and tell me how big your dick is, I don’t have any use for you.

My sponsor agreed with me on this the other day.

Even my Gay brothers in the rooms want nothing to do with me. Is it my backstory or that I am not a gay like them? I will never grow up to be a fumpy old gay man. I don’t dress like them, I don’t act like them, and i sure as shit don’t want whatever it is they have.

I sat in a room with all of them for fourteen months reading the Big Book, during the hardest emotional bottom I’ve ever experienced in sobriety yet. And in all that time, not one gay or straight man or woman, ever walked up to me and said …

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

These are the the most important life saving words an alcoholic has, because we have back stories. Experiences. Life Experience. In all its forms.

I’ve NEVER heard these words come out of ANY sober mouth, anywhere in this city, in ALL of my sobriety.

That is a shame.

Because it took a lady from New York to come here, talk to us, and share those words with us.

I won’t be sort changed any longer.

Gratitude in Action

Where would we be without the founders? When it seemed all might be lost, and men of good substance and good character found themselves in the throws of alcoholism, the solution came down to one interaction of a man in his own throws of a desire to drink, and the almost miraculous need to work with another alcoholic, started this great ball of sobriety rolling.

That day, standing in the lobby of the Mayflower hotel, Bill Wilson’s business meeting went down the tubes, he stood there contemplating a decision that would change the world. There were just two choices. One, to drink, or Two, to make a phone call.

Old timers I have met in my years, have stood in the lobby of said hotel and told their story of what the room looked like, how many feet stood between Bill, as he stood there, between the lobby bar, and the phone directory on the opposite wall, on the other side of the room.

Many years later, here in Montreal, a man in the throws of alcoholism, in the year 1943, wrote to New York for help. Help arrived for him. In 1944, the fellowship began, here in Canada. Dave B, got sober, in spite of himself.

A year later, into his own sobriety, Bobbie said to him, “It is time for you to carry the message to another alcoholic, we think it is time you helped someone who needs help.”

New York GSO sent Dave, 400 letters, they had received, and so A.A. was born in Quebec. From a humble apartment not far from where I live today, a rag tag bunch of drunks met in a living room, while their wives congregated in the bedroom or the kitchen.

This was before the dawn of the hallowed church basement.

The little living room meeting, grew exponentially. A group of three men, turned into twelve and then twenty five.

In the beginning there were three meetings in Montreal. I’ve been a member at all three of those original meetings.

We take for granted, many of us, that we have a meeting list, that is chock full of meetings, in various languages, in various locations, every day of the week.

Imagine in 1944, there were no meetings, but the one living room.

Gratitude is a word we hear often in the beginning. Oh, you must have gratitude, or, you must cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Many of these suggestions go unheard and untouched by many. Because when many come in, they have no idea why they need to be grateful to sit in a church basement, with these people, they don’t know, AND for the rest of their lives.

How can we have gratitude, when we ourselves, most likely haven’t even admitted to our innermost selves, that we are alcoholics.

Sobriety comes in stages, by fits and starts, by trial and error, but eventually, we find our grooves, and we settle in for the long haul.

Tonight, we attended the 60th anniversary of the first meeting I homed in when I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners. And the read tonight, from the Big Book, was Gratitude in Action. the story of Dave B, and the dawn of the fellowship here in Montreal.

Out of all the people sitting in the room tonight, THREE of us have had interactions with Old OLD timers, who knew Dave B, in the flesh, old OLD timers who went to meetings with Dave B, and had their own stories of him, aside from what view we get from the book.

In years Nine and Ten, I went looking for OLD OLD timers. I spent more than a year, combing the city for them. I lucked out and found a handful of men, who knew Bill and Dr. Bob, and Dave B. Three founders. I also met men who were participants in the very first phase of the fellowship as it had its humble beginnings. I spent all that time collecting their stories, and here, deep within the memory of this blog, are those memories.

Every minute of sobriety, even the most mundane moments, had their precise usefulness. I talked with one of my oldest friends in the room today, at the meeting earlier tonight. He was there when I came in, during a time, that Tuesday Beginners was a very unique meeting. It was unique for its people who were there when I came in. Mostly women. It was unique for the fellowship that existed then, and the specific men and women who populated that meeting.

I commented to him that, we’ve never seen another iteration of that kind of community, anywhere in the city. And it is true, that a generation of people have long since moved on to other places, or have grown old and don’t make it out, and several have died of old age.

It is good to be reminded of gratitude every so often. Because you really don’t know how grateful I am for the people, the meetings, and the immense amounts of time people spent with me, to help me stay sober.

Before the dawn of cell phones, we had what was called LAND LINES.

You know, that phone attached to the kitchen wall ???

We did not sit at home waiting for that 2000 pound phone to ring, we went to break bread before and after, we hung out together for hours before and after a meeting. You don’t know a good thing, till it’s gone.

A sober friend might be the most important person in your life right now. And the more sober friends you have, will make the journey so much sweeter. I had all that and a whole lot more.

I met the right people, or the right people, were in the right place, at the right time, for the right reason. I’ve said this before, in an earlier post, I listen to a lot of people on a weekly basis. And over time, I’ve watched many of my friends grow up. I know everything that they did in sobriety.

Because what do we do in meetings? We listen to others, figure out their own lives, in front of us, in real time. We hear them talk themselves through situations that used to baffle them. We listen to them justify just about everything under the sun.

We know all the good and all the bad. We know who succeeded and who did not. We know everybody who chose to drink again, and we even watched friends loose their battle with the bottle and die …

The solution exists, for those who need it. All you need is to ask, and it will be given you. You cannot imagine the immense wealth of education you find sitting in a church basement, several times a week.

If it were not for the multitude of WOMEN and MEN who took time to show up and talk, I would not be who I am today. Because, who I am is an amalgamation of every single woman and man I know to this very day.

All of them participated in creating the life I have, because I listened to them talk, and create their own lives of success and sobriety.

There is no better formation ground for personal growth, than inside a church basement. What the greater world out there does not know, and has no idea of, unless of course they are powerless over the drink, never know what they are missing.

People in the real world, OUT THERE, follow the distinct pattern of life, education, work, marriage, children, cars, houses, and money. I tried that life and failed miserably, because I was powerless over my addictions.

I thought I had to walk that walk, like my father before me. He had the life, the wealth and the material success, amid the functioning alcoholism that pervaded his life. I walked that same road for a while, until it stopped working for me.

Had Todd NOT SAID STOP, when he did, I would surely have died many years ago. He started this road to my success. If it were not for his love and devotion to saving my life, I would not be here today to constantly repeat this portion of my story, over and over again.

God exists. I know that deep within my soul.

Remember all those good people who played a role in your own success, and when you do, you grasp the notion of Gratitude In Action.



The 44th Annual West Island Round Up

Sober Concept Wooden Letterpress Type

This weekend is the Premier Sober Event of the season. In the month of May, each year, the West Island puts on the premier sober event, the West Island Round Up.

Not sure how many people are going to show, as I’ve been carrying tickets around with me for weeks. I sold a few, but most probably, people will show up at the door to buy tickets. A bunch of us are going from the city.

This weekends speakers will come from Toronto, Ontario, Louisville Kentucky, Oakville Ontario, and as far away as Tampa Florida.

In Round Up’s past, entire groups of people were invited from different cities, like New York or Los Angeles California and close by Vermont.

There are hosted retreats for men and women in the spring in many locations in the North East. The men’s intensive is held in Vermont, twice a year, as well as the women’s intensive retreat.

A few years back, on the way to our intensive retreat, we stopped off in East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill W’s birthplace, where they host retreats in the house he was actually born in and meetings are held there daily.

Up the road from the house, in East Dorset, is where Bill W and his wife Lois are buried. In a small nondescript little graveyard. The caretaker has a full-time job, collecting and storing all the sober chips that are placed on his grave, all year-long.

I first attended a Round Up in 2012, with the crew from the Atlantic Group in New York City. And at that weekend event, I met a man named Bob who turned my life upside down, with a particular prayer ritual, that, over the months and years, changed my life in ways that I could not have imagined.

A little prayer goes a long way, to ordering the universe for us, and setting us on a path of success, otherwise unknown to those who don’t pray at all.

In keeping with Brene Brown’s theme of Braving …

“If your marble jar is empty, you don’t have it to give away.” “Do you have marble jar friends ?” “What is a marble jar friend ?”

Braving
Boundaries
Reliability
Accountability
Vault
Integrity
Non Judgement
Generosity

Hopefully, I will have things to share over the weekend.

Stay tuned …