Sobriety tells us that one thing will change, when we come in. Sobriety says that the only thing that will change is EVERYTHING.
I know, for me, that it was only time that would turn my life into what it is today. Back then, telling someone to buckle up and ride the coaster until it stops, people usually got it.
Now, in today’s I-Phone world of I want it NOW, and quite possibly, could you give that to me, YESTERDAY ? That’s what we deal with today.
Telling my friends to buckle up and ride the coaster does not translate very well, in the climate where, we can get it NOW, at just a few clicks.
I have really great friends. People who love me for me, and I love them for them.
Today, people are kind to me, just because. I put myself out there, here, and because of that, the universe gave me a gift of kindness from a perfect stranger, who read something I wrote here.
While I was writing the post that appears below this one, for the kindness on its way to me tomorrow, I got two phone calls.
A few months ago, I met a young man, fresh and raw. He was days sober. And he was at one of my home group meetings.
That night, he came into an empty room, as I was sitting there, alone with him. He got down on his knees and prayed the OH GOD Prayer …
Those words are simple … OH GOD I NEED THE PROMISES NOW.
I did not know this young man. But I was present for the prayer. That night a relationship began, and still goes on today. He had lost his girl friend because of his using. He just lost a job that was his life, because the mall that housed his business, raised the rent to a level that they could not possibly afford. Overnight, they moved out and the business never recovered.
With days of sobriety under his belt, I said a few words to him.
Buckle up and ride the coaster until it stops.
What he did have that many don’t, was someone to ride the coaster with him, until the ride stopped.
The first phone call I got this afternoon, was from that same young man. At 6 months and a little longer, he had applied for a job, out of province. That recovery business, hired him on the spot. He called to tell me he was moving away in a few days time.
The conversation continued. And he said this, after while: I really appreciate your support, and I value your friendship, and I commented to him that in the beginning it was he who opened the door to our friendship, and that it would be up to him to shut it.
He then said:
What door, there is no door, I ripped it from the hinges.
Now I will be traveling to Nova Scotia to visit him once he gets settled and finds a good place to live where he can host guests.
He rode the coaster, good and bad, tough and easy. Finally the coaster has pulled into the station. Tonight, we got off the ride together.
Really grateful for people in my life. And for the kindness of strangers.
The second phone call was from another good friend who only had good things to say to me about his life. We’ve been friends since the very first meeting he walked into. I’ve been present for both of these men, 100%.
Sobriety is not easy. but when grace comes and settles in, life gets really good, and the only thing I can say is this …
If it were not for the rooms, I would not have everything that I have.
They say, or it has been said, “That at some point, you are going to hear someone tell your story.”
When it comes to storytelling, there is not another human being, on the English side, who has a story like mine. All the men I knew, in early sobriety, who had AIDS, are long since dead. I am the last.
Which leaves a sparse gay community of men, in my social circle, who are still alive today. I don’t have anything to do with those gay men, because our community is quite fractured.
Reciprocal friendships are hard to come by.
I am grateful that I have a handful of reciprocal friends. It may be a character defect that, people might think of us, by the by, and make the out call. I don’t sit at home and wait for an out call. I cannot be bothered to do that today.
I spoke about the Old Brewery Mission Meeting, that I attend on Sunday mornings. I like my Mission folks. They are great men and women. The Matriarchs are headed to Egypt right now for a three week tour of Cairo, the Nile river, and Saqqara.
The cycle of speaker/chair was interrupted Sunday. So I stepped in to chair and one of my friends, was asked to speak, as we restart the chain again.
Like I said above, at some point someone is gonna tell your story. I also said that nobody in this city, has my specific story. But, I heard my friend, on Sunday, tell his story. There are common themes between us.
When we drink and/or use, that theme is a constant because, if you are in the room, you abused the drink and the drugs. I’ve been dissecting my story over the years, and I can say that, when I was much younger, I was a good kid. I was a good son (take that or leave it), I was a good citizen, a good employee, and I was responsible, until alcohol took over.
As a younger employee, I really was not interested in drinking all the time, it wasn’t something I did regularly. Only when invited out to drink with friends, or when we threw a party in high school.
When alcohol was present, I became absent. I know this.
I had some of the best jobs a kid could have, growing up. I did really well, under pressure, and I did my job, as was needed.
When I moved away from home, with the delusion that was given to my inner memory bank, I was of single vision.
“Drink your way in, Wait for fireworks.”
I had eyes for one particular apartment, in a particular complex, that I clearly could not afford. I had a new car, that I could not afford either, and I had a job, that I went to, but in the end, everything was lost.
It is amazing to me, how selfish I became when it came to the procurement of alcohol. You cannot imagine, the amounts of alcohol I poured into my system on a weekly basis. And how narrow my honesty became.
The alcohol might have “gotten me in the door” but it did not “keep me in the club,” so to speak. Addicts and Alcoholics will lie, cheat and steal from their mothers, to score …
I justified my alcoholism against the abuse heaped upon me by my father. I called it Pay Back. All the lies I told, to hit my father where it hurt, worked.
I got the car.
But a lifetimes worth of resentments followed. And my father went to his grave, never knowing me, or even speaking my name on his deathbed.
We believe, for a while, that the drink and the drugs work, because we are getting one over on everybody else. Until that stops working.
UNTIL A STOP SIGN APPEARS….
Like my friend on Sunday, we both got hit with the Stop Sign.
We both got deathly ill, and death WAS a foregone conclusion. We were both supposed to die. Thankfully, we are both, still, very alive.
We both knew what we did, once doctors told us we were going to die. My friend had serious health issues, that he found a work around to drink. Even at the worst of times, he figured out how to get and drink alcohol.
In my worst of time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, was excruciating. I was watching what was going on around me, in real time. The very ugly, painful, miserable, march to death, for my friends with AIDS.
I knew what was coming, and I had decided from the get go that I was not going to go out that way. I wasn’t doing drugs so much, but I was surely drinking to kill myself. As fast as I could hasten death, would have been good.
My friend, at his blotto end, found recovery, via rehabilitation.
I did not.
Rehab came to me, in the guise of Todd (read:God).
I had a room to go to. And I had a job. The room was not so healthy for me, neither was the bar, because what right alcoholic in recovery, makes his money working in a bar, of all places ?
I did. Because Todd was my boss.
All those negative things we do in active addiction, at some point, comes to a halt. And we have a choice to make. Go on to the bitter end, or we decide to live.
Selfish things, became something I was made aware of early on. The easiest way to change this tape, in our heads, is to actively do work against our wills.
Those would be: Hitting a meeting, or working with others.
I did hit meetings. but more importantly, I did not only work with others, I worked for others. Todd knew, that the less I thought about ME, or thought about what was going on in my head, the better.
The Brain/Thought Partition method worked wonders.
My friend having lived this long, volunteers several days a week, at Hospitals, Rehabs, and the Old Brewery Mission. He knows what to do today, to lengthen his life.
It was through hard work, on a daily basis, that saved me. You cannot avoid the specter of death, when everyone around you is dying. And selfishly, they choose to drink and drug themselves sick, into death. I watched this selfish behavior go on under our roof.
True, that family, friends, lovers, and employers had tossed all of these very sick men to the curb to die alone. We could not care for so many, all at once. It was way too much to take in and handle.
It was truly the worst of times.
But, there were some of us, who did whatever we could, on a nightly basis, to ease the pain, somewhat. We had what were, at the time, the best healthcare providers, we could find. Because there were NO dedicated doctors or clinics.
Hospitals would begrudgingly take AIDS patients into lock down, sterile wards, as nurses and doctors would MOON SUIT UP to touch us, fearing for their own lives, like we were there to INFECT THEM, by our mere presence in their wards. That was truly heartless and cruel.
Friends, seeing what had gone on with patients in hospitals, decided that they would never go to a hospital. But die, outside, on their own terms. Is that selfish ? I mean, really, when you have no choice, but to take what is left of your life, into your own hands, what is the other viable choice?
Todd knew many things about me. He knew how destructive I could become, if left alone. He also knew, the dark inner sanctum of my heart, and he went to great lengths to keep me at arms length from any man, who walked into the bar on any given night.
He was protecting me from myself, across the board.
You cannot remain selfish, when the work you do, every night, is working with others, or for others. I had a job. A really great job. I loved that job.
I wish I could go back in time and revisit that time, with one proviso: All the people who were there, need to be there again.
The Promises speak of many things changing, as we get sober. They don’t all come at once, and for sure, they might take a lifetime. I know how long they took to come to me.
The job we have in sobriety, is to be vigilant, on all those warnings that the Promises speak of, as changing. If we remain in our alcoholic stupor, we will suffer the negatives, for as long as they are given fuel.
We have a choice in sobriety, which wolf we are going to feed.
Illness, with a death diagnosis, does not discriminate.
When it comes to death, when someone mentions that word within a share, I sit up and listen. That commonality, is stark among us. People get sick, some get better, or end up in remission. But a good percentage do die.
Death is the end for everyone.
For some of us, we have faced our death days, and lived to tell the tale.
Which I do proudly, whenever I get the chance.
If you want to get OUT of yourself, work with OTHERS.
I never want to reach a point, where I become bored, where I am not connected, where I feel useless, and a drink seems like a good idea.
Any day, can be a day, where a drink seems like a good idea.
The purpose of sobriety is to find that which is Greater than ourselves, from Outside of ourselves, the key that will sustain us, to Stay Stopped, one day at a time.
People come, and People go. Some stay, many do not.
At some point, we realize that being just a visitor in a meeting, only lasts for so long. At some point, you get to make a choice, to either do something, or you don’t.
I know what this means. And I’ve said it before.
We welcome people from around the globe. We see our friends, often. And for the newcomer, I am patient. I know what it is like to walk into a strange room, and not know what to do. Where do I fit in, how will I ever find the path, friends, sobriety ???
One day at a time.
I have watched the chair dance for years and years. That is why chairs are set up, in the way they are, like a well planned game. Where one sits, in any given room, tells some of us, how integrated into the meeting you are.
People who attend often, sit in the same seats, week in and week out. There are always seats, set, against the back wall. With rows and rows of seats to choose from, I know that most people won’t sit up front, automatically. They hang back, in the pack, and many people, who sit “on the bubble” populate the row against the back wall.
Yes, that may be the case. But other folks sit in the back row, due to the time of arrival to any specific meeting. Which is why they tell us twenty minutes before and twenty minutes after.
The only way to work your way into a meeting, is to work your way into a meeting.
Reading the book, will come, in time. But it is suggested by good people, that the sooner that you join us, find a job, find a sponsor, read the book, and work your steps, then, and for some, they finally find themselves connected, useful, and happiness comes.
A friend of mine, who has considerable time, said to me tonight, that after all his years in, he finally figured out what Higher Power meant for him. Finding that which is greater than yourself, from a location, outside of ourselves, takes time.
Sometimes it takes a LONG TIME …
But you know, however hard one finds the suggestion … Prayer does work.
Hearing continual stories about how hard some people fight even the thought that prayer is something we should do often, only solidifies the idea that Prayer Does Work.
My friends often tell me how their brains work. Some, often find, that the obsession of
“A drink seeming like a good idea” still persists.
I know, from hearing this from folks, in the middle of the stream, connected, and seeming happy, that when they found the thought of prayer, not such a bad idea, once they begin praying, that obsession of
“A drink seeming like a good idea,” does go away.
The book is written to tell us what our problem is, who we are, and why we are here. It gives us the plan for living, and offers us a spiritual solution that HAS WORKED for millions of people.
I’ve heard what happens, when one comes in, arrogant and shut down, and feels like they just don’t connect, to anyone, or anything, thinking that they will never be happy
Wait for it …
Don’t leave until the miracle happens for you.
A very long time ago, a woman in the rehab connected to the very first meeting I walked into over twenty-five years ago, said that to me …
Stick around until the miracle happens.
Had the people around me, in those meetings, had not bet on my demise, then, others told me to leave and not come back, had someone offered me a way INTO the book and sobriety, like my friends did when I came back the second time,
I would have stuck around, and never left.
But my path was what it became.
Continual attempts at sobriety, coming and going, only lasts so long. One too many passes into a room, then back out of said room, the chances of sticking and staying, grow slim.
Some people get more than one kick at the can. Some of those who kicked the can, more than once, GET IT. And they sit down and they stay.
Sadly, numbers are not what they used to be.
We know tonight, what happens when being a visitor in a meeting, dies …
The thought that, “A drink sounds like a good idea” takes hold, the obsession returns, and we take our chances, back in the world, that really is not a place, for some, who drank like I did, or like many have, themselves.
If you come to a room, jump in with both feet, and get WET.
You will find your way, I promise you that. The Book Promises that as well.
If only folks took the time to read the book, which is why people like me exist, in the rooms, to read said book with you.
Reading is fundamental.
It was good that when I came back, over the first four months of my sobriety, I was unable to read a book myself, outside of Harry Potter.
So I went to meetings every day, where someone else, read the book TO ME, reading it for everyone, that was sitting in that particular meeting.
I heard the book read. And it stuck for me, because I had no place else to go.
Which is why I am still reading the book, to this very day.
Because, THERE IS A SOLUTION.
The idea that “A drink seems like a good idea” has gone.
Because I do the work required to never get to the point in sobriety that:
This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.
We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.
Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.
Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.
In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”
Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.
Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …
I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.
But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.
As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.
When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.
I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.
I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.
People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.
Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.
Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.
Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment.
Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.
Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.
But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.
Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.
We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.
The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.
They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.
Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.
Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.
The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.
We all have STEPS.
We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.
When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.
It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.
I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.
I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.
I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.
All three of them tell the same story about me …
To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.
Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.
None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.
And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.
Fuck me for trying …
I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.
She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.
And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.
She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.
I call BULLSHIT on that.
I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.
And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.
And she had the balls to say to me that … I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???
I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.
I represent nobody or any fellowship.
All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.
Every life matters. No matter who you are.
At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …
I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.
Honesty is always the best policy.
You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.
Several days have passed since my father died. Two days ago, the eight page letter I sent my brother, was received. And he texted me to tell me that he got my letter, and that I should stop spending money trying to reach him. He does not want to hear from me and that he then tossed the letter in the trash, UNREAD.
I spoke to my aunt that evening and she believes in high numbers that my brother would NOT have trashed that letter without at least reading, in her vernacular “What that fucker had to say…” Curiosity would have gotten the best of him.
My husband has been less than helpful and none too compassionate. He doesn’t want to hear anything any more, he’s tired of listening to me talk to my friends. He told me that I just need to leave my brother alone. Just fucking shut up already.
I’m at a loss emotionally. And every day it is something different. Emotions come and tears fall from my eyes, whenever I talk to my friends. And I can’t help it.
There is a young lady, who is sticking close to the rooms, having survived her first holiday sober, and she is sticking close. Tonight, on my way out of the church she stopped me, and offered her condolences again, and she hugged me and smiled.
I said to her that, “we are both sober tonight, and that’s all that matters.” She agreed with me. I worked very hard at keeping her in the room over the holiday. I worked hard to keep all of our kids, in the room, Sober. That was a success.
My young lady in her own way, gave it back in a simple hug.
I don’t understand many things. I don’t understand what makes people sick, what makes them bitter and what makes them so crazy that they can fuck off and abandon their children and go to their graves with corrosive hatred coursing through their veins.
I don’t understand how a couple can go from the altar professing all those virtues and platitudes of being married, to ending up in separate hospitals, sick, not talking to each other, and at some point in time, fuck off on their vows, leaving my father in a hospice, ALONE to die ALONE.
And that man, who hated me so hard, and in that hatred took two hostages. My mother and my brother. I was the one who got away, and God damned me that I chose to get away and get a life and live that life fully.
I don’t understand how blood of my blood and body of my body, turned away from me and went to his grave never knowing the man I became and never allowing me the privilege of showing him just how well I grew up.
I am nothing like him. I will never be like him ever.
And on the way home I saw Juan and Nadia, coming home from a wedding appointment, and during our conversation I let loose some of my pain, telling them the truth and what I know and what I hope they NEVER do to each other, or their children one day.
I am emotional. I am sad. Angry in a way, and thinking over dinner, stewing …
It was not like anyone in my family to ask … Well, how do you feel ? Nobody seemed to care. Nobody came to ask, or inquire. In all the years after I got sick, they came to visit, together TWICE. In twenty-five years. My father was more forthright in his visits. Because every time he came to visit, he had an agenda.
He wanted to make sure I would die, and sooner than later. His only goal in his visits was to impress on me how important it was to him that I just DIE ALREADY.
My mother never said that to me, but they were a sick couple and whatever line my father took, she was in on the deal, because she married him.
They made a mockery of marriage. Truly, fifty years on, I know what that marriage looked like at every stage of the game. I know every secret they kept, every lie that they told. And those secrets and lies destroyed the fabric of this family.
Knowing the truth afforded me certain abilities that my brother did not have. The truth afforded me certain freedoms that my brother had not. And choosing to use those lies to my advantage, left me at a Disadvantage, because the nexus of Red Blooded American, die for your country, its my way or the highway, was just blown out of the water, and made me persona non-Grata to my parents.
I pissed them off. Resentments that already existed against me, were just made deeper and wider.
And now my father went to his grave, hating me as hard as he did.
And I will never know what was going on in his head before he died, because my mother’s curse that if one or both of them got sick or died, that nobody would call me, well she got what she wanted, that evil CUNT.
And my brother is just as sick as she is, because he hates me as hard as they hate me.
Was it because I left and left him there in that mess ?
Was it because I dishonored my father by choosing the life that I chose to live ?
That I was Gay, that I live with AIDS, that I live in Canada ?
Is he angry or jealous, or does he ever wonder who I am, and why I made the decisions I made? If he read that letter, he knows now.
All I can do now, is feel my feelings, write than down and wait him out.
Eventually that CUNT is going to die, hopefully sooner than later. She doesn’t want me, and hasn’t wanted me for a lifetime. She turned her love of her first-born child into loving a man who taught her to hate her own son.
Hopefully when she spits her last breath, she will remember who I am, and beg God for forgiveness.
Sometimes I wish I had the money and the will to do stupid things, just to prove a point. And thank God I don’t have that privilege. Because I’d seriously fuck some people up.
Because they hate me so hard, for no Godly reason, but for pure hatred.
There was an incredible Solar Eclipse earlier today… I slept right through it. But I have an amazing image to show you, if you missed it.
Overheard at the Meeting tonight: Imagine … How many people stopped their lives to look up at the sun, all at the same time, across the globe. What an amazing day it was.
Yesterday afternoon, Hubby was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital Emergency for an emergency operation to remove a sub-sebacious cyst on his lower spine. The operation was a success, and he was home, inside of three hours, post op.
Today was spent in follow-up doctors appointments and trips between home and the pharmacy. All is well.
This morning, well, at 6′ o clock a.m. I was up to go drop labs for my diabetes blood work, since being on Teujeo insulin now 2 months.
I got there uber early, so that I could get in and out quickly. Which is where this post will materialize. When you check in at the desk, they swipe your cards and file your work into the computer system for your bar code stickers for your vials.
I sat down with a young lady, who was going to do the deed. She asked my name and my birth date. I responded as usual, then added that I had just turned fifty a couple of weeks ago.
With a little amazement, she asked me how fifty felt ? I told her that I did not know yet, being so close to the epicenter. I furthered that explanation with what happened to me when I turned forty and beyond.
That, it was at the forty mark and beyond that point, that I began to have spiritual experiences, in the way I saw the world around me and what I actually could say, with some certainty, that I KNEW things for sure.
I was using spiritual language, like I knew what I was talking about, and the words came out so freely. She responded with …
Well, that happened to me when she turned thirty. She said …
She told me that she had heard things all her life from her parents and family and that when she hit the thirty mark, she had the same feeling of enlightenment.
For a moment I was jealous, thinking, “Shit, you mean I could have had that for me at thirty, had I been in the game of growing up when I hit thirty ???”
I did not say that, but it was what I was thinking in the moment.
I missed thirty, thirty-one until I finally hit thirty-four, when I got sober the second time and had made the decision to grow up finally. AND even then, it took a further six years of sobering up and learning what life as a grown man would look like, and how I would inhabit being a grown up man for myself.
When I turned forty and years after, if you have been following this blog all those years ago, you would have read the way my life changed in miraculous ways over the last ten years.
Last Monday we talked about resentments from the resentment section of the steps. I did not get a chance to share before the hour was up.
Tonight we read the passage in Step Nine, and the Ninth Step Promises.
“The Spiritual life is not a theory … One must LIVE a spiritual life.”
How one does that, follows the process of sobriety.
Along with the Preamble, we repeatedly hear How it Works, The Promises, and A Vision for You, over and over again.
Our chair read the Promises. And everyone in the room got to think about them, from their perspective, in their specific sober experience.
Having been sober this long, and being fifty now, I see the wisdom of the Promises as they happened for me, what order they came in, and when the final Promise we had been waiting for to come, did finally come.
“FEAR OF PEOPLE AND OF ECONOMIC INSECURITY WILL LEAVE US …”
That was the last one to come, and it only took thirteen years of waiting for it.
We just were not sitting on our asses begging God to just give that one to us.
Over the long history of our relationship, I would read a passage, hear it talked about in a discussion, and then hear a speaker talk about it in a speaker meeting.
Then God would say, “OK, Now you’ve heard all you need to know. NOW go work it out for yourself.” And so it was.
We would get a glimpse of freedom, as each day, week, month, and year that passed.
God would give us a peek, a little money, and we had to learn how to use it wisely, save it when necessary, and spend it where applicable.
Life was like that. God would give me a glimpse of what life would look like. That happened over and over again.
We certainly had our work cut out for us, on every aspect of sober life. It was not a cake walk, by any means. We learned our lessons well.
Imagine how many times you hit meetings over almost sixteen years, and hear those same readings, over and over again.
That is what is really GOOD about the BIG BOOK. Because the book tells us, right on page 112, In the chapter – To Wives … READ THIS BOOK.
If you are in step work, you would know about reading the book. Safe to say, I’ve been reading this book, over and over for more than fifteen years.
Now I am Fifty. What kind of wisdom do I have about the book today ?
I don’t know, I’d have to sit and think about this a little bit.
We shall explore this topic further in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Suffice to say, I shared a spiritual experience with a complete stranger this morning and that was a blessing for her and for me.
You never know who you will sit with on any given morning and what they might ask you.
Our story tonight, comes via a man who is of the Jewish faith. This story highlights the conundrum that many face, when they come to the rooms. The dichotomy of a program of recovery, that operates on a Spiritual, rather than religious model.
You can’t get away with calling a program of recovery “Spiritual” when the word “GOD” appears in the Book, and through the steps. This One Single Three Letter Word, keeps many from getting sober, no less, having a spiritual experience that everybody needs, at some point in their journey.
How do you separate the Religious from the Spiritual ?
…The last big hurdle was closing the meeting with the Lord’s Prayer. As a Jew, I was uncomfortable with it and decided to talk to my sponsor about it. So I said, “The Lord’s Prayer bothers me. I don’t like closing with it.” “Oh,” he said, “what’s the problem?” “Well, I’m Jewish and it’s not a Jewish prayer.”
“Well then,” he said “Say it in Jewish.” I said, “It would still be the Lord’s Prayer.” “Right,” he said. “Then say something else that you like. Your Higher Power, whatever you call it, is helping you, and you need to say thank you.”
That was a big step for me; I finally began to separate the religious aspect of my life from A.A. Spiritual program. Now the big difference to me is that religion is the RITUAL, and we all differ there, and SPIRITUALITY is the way we feel about what we do. It’s about my personal contact with my personal Higher Power, as I understand Him.
I laughed to myself as I read this story. This man, who came in, and against his better nature, did get sober, and found a life beyond his wildest dreams. He, a Jew, comes in and has problems, not with G-d but with The Lord’s Prayer, and its recitation to close a meeting.
I’ve spoken about the promise made to God, by Memere, about me, when I was just a boy.
Last night, I was reminded of that promise, by a passage in a book I am reading at the moment about Pope Francis.
The biographer is telling the story of the child, Jorge Mario Bergoglio and how his grandmother introduced him to a life of faith and prayer. A story, very similar to mine.
It was my grandmother who took me to church, promised me to God, and faith followed me, and God was always there, I just wasn’t always interested in listening.
Until I got sober the second time.
I read this passage last night and it rang so very true for me …
May the Man not betray what he promised as a child …
I had not made that initial promise, but I HAD made a promise to God, in church, as I was being groomed to enter the seminary. And while there, I did promise God my life, from that point in my limited life, to the extent I believed I could.
It only took me thirty four years to figure out that I needed to rekindle that promise and make my way into life with God in the drivers seat. And to be honest, I was good for that.
Life is there, for you to choose what you are going to do with it.
But if you are on Train B, and you are on your Do Over, better buckle up and do this right, because you may never get another kick at the proverbial can of sobriety.
Petty complaints, and a lack of trust and faith will destroy someone coming in the rooms with an “I Know Better” attitude.
It was Chabad, A Jewish Organization, who pointed the way for me, and IS the bedrock of my program of recovery. An Organization that still operates in our city today.
I find it funny, that our writer tonight, is a Jew who has problems with a Christian Prayer, and it was a Jewish Organization that helped me get and stay sober.
I owe them a debt of Gratitude.
A factual memory that rises to my mind when reading this story… The story of Louis and Irene Ziff, survivors of the Holocaust, and the Auschwitz concentration camp. I knew this couple well, they were friends of the family when I was a boy. They used to dine at our table for many years, before they both died.