When Can We Use Our Voices?

For as long as I’ve been sober, one question dogs me every night. I think to myself, and I had this conversation with a friend on the way home tonight,

At What Point Do We Get To Use Our Voices ?

When we come in, the only thing we need to do, first, is find a chair. For a while, people sit in their respective chairs, some longer than others. I did a lot of listening, I mean I still listen, but listening at over seventeen years is different than listening with a few days.

The method I used to get sober, firstly, was my day count. The first ninety days, all I did was show up and count my days along with the others, who were counting their days.

When I moved to Montreal, and rooted in my home group, I sat down, and I began to listen. I listened to everyone intently. I heard many things. Good things, bad things, happy things, and sad things.

I watched people come, and I watched people go. I watched some die.

Over all, I watched what people did in their lives. I listened to them justify just about everything under the sun. I listened to people battle over God, in fact, I am still listening to people battle over God.

I’ve stopped trying to explain Him.

I know every decision my friends made over the last seventeen plus years. I know the successes and the failures. I know all of the good and all of the bad. I know what every one of my friends did over the years. I listened to them talk, then I watched them act.

I learned what TO DO and what NOT TO DO.

If it worked for you, it worked for me. If you made a stupid decision, I did not make the same stupid decision, myself. And sure as shit, as my friends, many of them drank again, and again, and again, I AM STILL SOBER.

By the Grace of God.

At some point we begin to find our voices. We share in discussion meetings, and we talk to our friends and sponsors. Eventually, we get to chair simple discussion meetings, for a while, until we hit the magic date, when we get to actually CHAIR a speaker meeting.

Because we need to learn how to listen for speakers. You just cannot jump into the deep end of the pool, without the experience of learning what a “Speaker” sounds like, then, on your first run, one needs to actually FIND a speaker for your meeting.

That was daunting at first

I kept my opinions to myself for a long time. I never rocked the boat, so to speak. I never questioned the authority of someone who had serious time, or more simply, more time than I had. I learned from everybody.

Over the years, I listened to people, and watched them come and go, while making serious decisions, getting “involved” with someone, and better yet, some really pondering drinking again.

I knew what I knew about people, as time went on. And I can safely say, with some serious hindsight, that the first ten years of my sobriety were a washout. Because looking back, I did not know what I did not know.

Now this far up the line, I see the folly of some of the things I said, the people I got involved with, and the drama I took part in. I know today, and I heard this from one of my sponsors once ….

Just Because Someone has TIME, does not mean they are SOBER.

I’ve learned what that statement meant the hard way.

But still, I question myself, whenever I want to speak my mind, or talk about an issue at a business meeting, or even, admit, that I am either angry, conflicted, or just plain pissed off.

A few years ago, I hit a serious emotional bottom, after the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida. Because when I was a twenty one year old kid, back then, I used the drink in that exact bar myself. So the killing of fifty innocents, really wound me up and turned my life upside down.

It was what happened after that night, with certain sober people, that turned me off to many people in my orbit. I had listened enough, and I respected too easily, and I allowed people to humiliate me in public.

Because I learned to never question an old timers comments to me, EVER.

Because what did I know, with the little time I actually had ?

I was sober 15 years by then.

I went through a very angry stage in sobriety and people were openly afraid of me. And I was asked to leave several meetings, because nobody wanted an angry gay alcoholic in their midst.

I found vulnerability. I found my voice. I found my courage. And I found the Arena that I was going to fight my battle in. Thank you Brene Brown for that.

I speak my mind in certain places, and at certain meetings. I test out my words, against my friends, and the old timers I count as my friends today.

Before I say anything, I usually ask someone about what I have to say. I did that for a long time. I would never say anything controversial, before running it past a second opinion.

Nowadays, I call it like I see it. I just don’t care if you like me or not. I’ve listened enough, and I think, these days, I’ve earned the right to say what it is I have to say, within means.

There are many kinds of people in our rooms. Those who care about their sobriety, the ones who actually to THE WORK, and grow up. There are those who just go to meetings, because they know it’s what they have to do to stay sober, but they don’t put any effort behind showing up.

There are entire communities of straight men, whom I avoid like the plague. Some terminally straight men, just rub me like sand paper. And I’ve told them so. Many straight men, don’t get me. They don’t socialize with me, and many of them have no desire to welcome me or be my friend, when it comes to workshops and step retreats.

I did straight retreats for three years with a particular group of men, who talked the talk in front of me, but when it came to meals, in the massive cafeterias, none of them would be caught dead breaking bread with me at the same table.

I only take to being ignored so much, before I wig out.

The queers in Montreal are all in the same boat, as far as I am concerned. I am unique among them, because none of my peers have an AIDS story. None of my friends, lived the life I have lived, themselves.

All the AIDS men I knew from early sobriety are dead. Among the English community, I am a dying breed. I am the only one left, on the English side.

I don’t dress like I am fifty two years old. I refuse to become a J.C. Penny catalog model, and wear frumpy clothes and become Old, Fat, and Catty.

So I don’t socialize with any of my queer brethren. They come to meetings I go to, and they are cordial, but beyond hello, nobody bothers to be my friend.

I am good with that today. It really does not bother me any more.

I have my meeting schedule, which I change up seasonally. I’ve added the Sunday Morning Brewery Mission Meeting, along with Thursday’s, and Friday nights. In the spring I will return to Monday Central when it warms up to safely commute this distance I need to travel now that it is Minuses and bitterly cold at night.

But I wonder, still, when do I know enough to say what I think? Because over the last little while, when I have spoken about certain things, with certain people, some of them told me to my face to Go Fuck Myself, because what did I know at sixteen and seventeen years of sobriety, when it came to speaking to someone with more double digit time than I had ?

So I back off and I listen more. I listen to old timers talk, and I hear them go down their proverbial rabbit holes. I watch them wig out and business meetings. I see them come and go, some don’t return.

I have a lot of observational knowledge about people and the rooms in Montreal that I frequent. I’ve heard a lot of things over time. And I have certain opinions about sobriety.

I know who WORKS, and who does not. I know who CARES and who does not. I know who MATTERS and who does not.

I know who is sober, has time, and is reputable. And I know who is not.

I even know who the douche bags are.

We all know who the douche bags are. We see them often, and we hear them pay lip service to sobriety. We hear the douche bags talk about their respective wives, with disdain. We know who cheats, and we know who works very hard at getting one over on their wives.

And recently, we’ve heard douche bags say some pretty awful things in open community. Some of their words came back to haunt them, as in a recent post I put up the other night.

It’s not like anyone else is NOT listening themselves.

We all sit together in the same meetings, so witnesses to douche bags comments are numerous. It’s just now, we can all call a spade a spade.

But we are reminded of the Traditions, and the 12 Concepts and the rules of engagement when it come to recrimination beyond the anonymity principle in meetings.

So a handful of us have spoken our concerns about the douche bag in question. He knows we have his number. We’ve made that perfectly clear, to Him and to our peers. We don’t agree with statements made in open community regarding the misfortunes of others.

I asked his sponsor tonight about this issue, which was his first time hearing about the kerfuffle. There are two sides to a sobriety disagreement, and several ways we could have handled it. Were we right, to say something, YES and NO. Should we have chosen another venue to voice our concerns to the douche bag, YES.

There is no Right nor Wrong answer to the question.

It’s a teaching moment for everybody.

We have a voice for a reason. And if we don’t use it then:
SILENCE GIVES CONSENT.

I’ve heard that for many years.

Going into year eighteen, I know how to speak, and I do so. It may not be nice, sometimes, but the only way you learn is to practice your skills. We just don’t sit in meetings like mushrooms being fed shit, night after night.

At some point, we need to test the water, and say something.

Good or Bad. Right or Wrong.

For our group purpose there is but one authority, a Loving God who expresses Himself in our group conscience.




Behind closed doors, the hidden problem of baby-boomer addiction

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Courtesy: The Guardian.com – Tony Rao

In Mad Men, Don Draper was seldom seen without a drink. Photograph: Michael Yarish/AP

never touched a drop in my life. Now, it’s all I’ve got.” One of my first referrals as a consultant old-age psychiatrist was a woman with anxiety who began drinking after her husband died. Grief at losing her partner pulled her into a deep depression. Alcohol eased the pain. It became all she could think about. Her life revolved around buying and consuming drink; dependence on alcohol to soothe her sorrow developed into an addiction.

When we say “addict”, we rarely think of people aged over 65. You might think this is uncommon. It isn’t. People expect to live longer, so they’re not slowing down just because they’re in their 60s. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we are seeing substance misuse, dependence and addiction in older people: think how many old fashioneds Don Draper got through in each episode.

We are woefully unprepared to meet the needs of older people struggling with substance misuse. So what will happen in 2030, when members of Generation X – the twentysomethings who popped pills at warehouse raves in the 1990s – start to turn 65? Addiction in older age is not a problem that’s going to go away. By 2030, nearly a quarter of the population in England will be over 65. That’s around 12 million people. We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb, waiting for the inevitable fallout of each generation overindulging in its substance of choice.

We can’t ignore substance misuse in the over-65s. Compared to previous generations, older people have higher rates of drinking above recommended guidelines, higher rates of alcohol-related deaths and higher rates of alcohol-related admissions to hospital. ONS figures show that while the rest of the population has reduced its weekly alcohol intake, those aged 65 to 74 continue to drink at similar levels, exceeding recommended guidelines.

Lifetime use of cannabis and cocaine in 65- to 74-year-olds increased seven-fold and five-fold respectively between 2000 and 2014. In the last 10 years, the number of people in that age group admitted to hospital for drug-related mental health problems, such as psychosis, rose from 181 to 1,345. Use of prescription drugs for pleasure is also on the rise in older people, with opiates and medication for insomnia often used for non-medical reasons. As addiction services are being dismantled, more baby boomers with illicit drug misuse are entering old-age psychiatry services. Snorting cocaine, smoking cannabis or experimenting with psychoactive substances shouldn’t raise the eyebrows of psychiatrists providing care in older people’s mental health services, but even I initially failed my MRCPsych exams for lacking the necessary expertise on substance misuse. I didn’t realise how central it was to old-age psychiatry.

We wrongly assume that substance misuse is a younger person’s problem and there are huge challenges in increasing access to services for older people because of this.

When they do, they need care that not only addresses misuse, but takes into account chronic physical health problems and mental health conditions such as dementia. Treatment also has to manage the normal physical pain of ageing and the unfortunate truth of social isolation and bereavement.

Sadly, I see a future in which poly-substance misuse in older people is common. We have a lot of catching up to do to provide services for substance abuse beyond alcohol and tobacco. Baby boomers are the generation that laughed off inebriation, saw alcohol advertised daily on television and thought relaxation was more about smoking a joint than mindfulness.

But at what age do we assume people “grow out” of the pub night three times a week or smoking cannabis? The “you’re only young once” approach can easily go from a relaxed attitude in middle age to dependence and addiction in older life.

Substance misuse in the over-65s may seem strange because we characterise older people as fusty, but it’s not surprising that the attitudes of youth carry into later life. If we continue to ignore substance misuse in people over 65, we are closing the door on ensuring their quality of life as 70, 80 or 90-year-olds. In 2017, that door is still barely ajar.

Dr Tony Rao is consultant old age psychiatrist at the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Thursday: Stability amid Turbulence

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The year has begun, in our little sober world. And right now, coming off an already turbulent end to the year in 2016, things are not off to a good start.

The roller coaster has left the station, and it is full steam ahead, seat belts are necessary right now, because the ride is getting rough.

Tomorrow, the world as we know it is going to change. And we can thank all those deplorable, shit head, alt right, evangelical, don’t know their asses from a hole in the ground, voters, who are plunging the world into CHAOS …

The reports are already being circulated about just what our next president is going to do to Health Insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security. The new administration wants to CUT, CUT, CUT the budget.

Hopefully they won’t fuck us all over at the same time. But there is a good chance that we are all going to be fucked over all at the same time.

People are protesting, all over the place. And tomorrow hubby wants to witness the United States fall into the Abyss of Insanity and I think we need to watch, for the single fact that, we need to know our enemy and know what he is thinking from the very first hour that Monster takes office.

YOU ARE NOT MY PRESIDENT MR. TRUMP. YOU WILL NEVER BE MY PRESIDENT. I DID NOT VOTE FOR YOU, NOR DO I SUPPORT YOU ONE IOTA …

The world is on edge, and people are fearful for their lives, their livelihoods, and for their families. Nobody knows what this maniac will do first. And we are POWERLESS to change anything right now.

If Democrats have half a brain, they will OBSTRUCT, OBSTRUCT, OBSTRUCT for as long as it takes, until our president looses his office. Republicans, during the Obama presidency, obstructed him from his very first day in office.

THE BEST THING DEMOCRATS CAN DO NOW IS RETURN THE FAVOR AND FUCK THE REPUBLICANS RIGHT UP THE ASS…

We cannot allow Fascism and Authoritarianism to rule one of the greatest countries on earth. If we don’t take steps to protect ourselves, nobody is going to do it for us. It falls to the citizens to stand up and tell the new president that he can go FUCK HIMSELF Ten ways from Sunday …

There is so much at stake right now, and all those people who voted for our new president, like I said before, I don’t think they truly know the monster they have released from PANDORA’S BOX …

Let Us Pray …

**** **** ****

January has begun with insanity and turbulence for many people. The call to “stay on the beam” was offered tonight, by a man who was my sponsor for a long time. My friends who had dropped off the radar and are back for another round showed up, which was a good thing. But folks are walking on shaky ground right now, and even though, we are present for them, nobody seems to want direction, which in that case means, until they ask for help, we are powerless to do anything for them.

The only thing that is true is that the only way to maintain stability is to keep showing up and doing the next right thing.

I have friends from other places, and I see them often, who are trying to keep their heads above water, and they too, won’t ask for help or are reticent to say anything, so the only thing I can do is be attentive and present when they are around.

I have people to work with right now that need all of my attention. So adding to the brood is not something I am interested in doing right now.

Yesterday, I had to process a scene and do an extraction of a shit ton of weed from one of my guys homes. Let me tell you, I did not want to carry that much weed into the Metro system last night, so the very first dumpster I came across, it was dumped.

I’ve not seen that much weed since I stopped using weed 16 years ago. And I had it in my hands. Not that I wanted to smoke it, but it freaked me out, nonetheless.

That Mission was accomplished. Crisis averted.

We are all trying to start this year off on the right foot across the board. My guys are the most important investment I have right now, which means I need to have a stable program of recovery for the next little while, which means:

Meetings, Meetings, Meetings.

My old sponsor has been popping up on my mental and spiritual dashboard for the last little while, and he spoke tonight, so that was serendipitous. I spoke to him after the meeting, so we will see where that leads.

Long Sober Folks, are not free of character defects. And they sure as shit are not perfect. And that has been made plainly aware to me over the last eight or nine months.

Over the years, I’ve heard certain statements come out of their mouths that kind of turn my stomach, because they have time, and can still be ignorant and stupid. Which turns me right off.

But the truth of the matter is that ANY stability in program is more useful than sailing my own ship for any length of time, on my own. And I need stability right now. And the picking are slim when it comes to Long Term Sobriety.

From Now through March, people will be coming and going, so the stable of STABLE sobriety will be hit and miss until Spring, and we have to take what we can get for the time being. And if I have to call in my pinch hitters, so be it. That will have to do, because that is what I really need right now.

Old timers might have the time, but I would not trust many of them, as far as I can throw them. UGH !!!

**** **** ****

We have to stand tall right now, and proceed with caution.

The world may not come to an end, but change is coming and we may not like what we get, and we are powerless over the fact that so many deplorable fuck ups voted in huge numbers that got us where we are today …

THANK YOU, YOU DEPLORABLE FUCK UPS …

This is your fault, entirely.

When the first deplorable gets on their knees to Beg for God, God will say:

YOU THINK YOU KNOW ME, BUT YOU REALLY DON’T !!!