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 …

Friday: Episode 1 – Spooked !

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Have you ever loathed someone with every fiber of your being ?

Sobriety brings with it a myriad of emotions, vying for purchase. And all those emotions are running through my head since I left the meeting I spoke at last night.

There are (not so) sober men in the rooms, that I loathe will all of my being. I hate them as much as I hate addiction. Sitting in the chair, looking out at the room, trying to speak coherently and honestly, watching people react to what you are saying, and seeing someone you loathe with all your being SLEEPING in his chair, playing with his water bottle, fucked with my brain.

I invited several people to come hear me speak, and that spooked me too. At some point I looked at our Matron of our meeting, sitting in the front row, and I sensed she was tapping at her watch, which threw me into fits of “shit, I need to wrap up,” it might have been that, or it might not have been that.

I had a script in front of me, and still, I was all over the place. In the end I feel like I really did not carry the message honestly, because I was all over the place mentally.

I can’t go back and change anything about what I said or did not say.

I’ve heard a long sober woman talk about the fact that in one moment she is the most resentful and angry woman, while being the most grateful and happy woman, all at the same time. All those emotions vying for attention, in that moment.

The Third tradition speaks about the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking, and nobody has the right to tell someone to leave.

Right now, I want to haul off and speak some not so sober words to a particular man in the crowd. I want to tell him how much I hate him, how much I loath his existence, and his presence in the same space I sit in.

It is like a malediction.

I cannot stand disrespectful people. I’ve known for all of my sobriety how much I hate certain people in the rooms. They make we want to spit. And say things that are not so sober.

As a gay man, there are certain heterosexual men who just make my stomach turn. I won’t break bread with them, I won’t go to the same meetings as they do, and I sure as shit do not call them fellows.

I strayed off my script because my sponsor said that I needed to stick to my story as it relates to alcoholism. Some of my script went well outside that requirement.

Figuring that I was going long, I cut short an entire section of my share.

In the end, I got good marks from my friends and the members of the group, which meant I had hit my mark. Being that the last time I spoke in front of a crowd was six years ago on my tenth anniversary.

So why do I feel so fucked up and angry ?

I felt very intimidated sitting up there, talking to people who did not care for anything that I had to say, yet they were sitting in the room with us. I might not be 20 plus years sober, but I am sure as shit not like any of those men I loathe.

Fuck Me ten ways from Sunday …

Saturday: Odds and Ends, and Everything In Between

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On my trip to see Alexander, we engaged in serious debate about the state of the world. I am not the best at politics, world issues, and everything in between. Our lives at home consist of one cable news channel, and at 11 p.m. we turn to CTV for our nightly news fix.

I cannot go to bed without the last word coming from Lisa LaFlamme.

I’ve never been totally political, as in, devoted to politics or politicians of any stripe. I’ve always known where I sit on issues of the day. But expanding my brain to other news outlets only began when I moved to Canada in 2002. And over the time I have lived here, I’ve explored other points of view.

Alexander encourages that I step out of my bubble and echo chamber to see the world from other points of view. And this is one reason I love my best friend, because he is from somewhere else, (read:Brazil) and he has world knowledge that I do not. He has a smarts about him that no one I know have themselves.

So I read, I watch, and I listen to other points of view. If you polled me online, I rank in the NDP sphere of thought. But I voted for Justin. And he is proving to be a challenge to me.

Alexander sits on the Conservative side of life. And that is NOT a bad thing at all. Because he forces me to see the world, like he sees the world. He challenges me to spread my vision and take in others words, and not just accept words by people I am accustomed to listening to.

Politics and world events are two different spheres for me. I care very little for U.S. politics. And I do not consume politics like I used to because I cannot be bothered on a daily basis to know or listen to repetitive redundant news about a mad man in the Oval Office.

Cannot Be Bothered.

I spend a good amount of my sober life, buried in books. I learned long ago, while in University, that reading “other literature” that situate itself “around” a topic I was studying, as it went along, was very useful.

Reading side literature around a specific topic whether that literature be fiction or non-fiction, built a world for me to engage with on a wider basis, rather than on a single note in time.

I read, Every night.

There are places in the world that interest me. There are social issues that I am passionate about as well. Issues in the world, and issues right here at home are on my dashboard, quite often. I worry about our less fortunate, our homeless, and our indigenous population.

Because I am in the rooms, I’ve seen so much suffering. Friends of mine, in the program have gone on to work in those specific areas of helping the less fortunate. So I am engaged in their work.

Studying Religion and Pastoral Ministry opened my eyes to World Religions, as well, taking care of those people I am engaged with on a daily basis. I have stayed away from posting anything incendiary on this blog, certain world issues, that I am not clearly well-rounded or well versed on, to write coherently or knowledgeably.

I’ve always been interested in Israel and Palestine. Our Jewish Community here in Montreal served my early sobriety solely. The Chabad organization does work all over the city for many people, I just happened to be one of those people.

During my studies I spent time at the Ghetto Shul at McGill during my Judaism studies. And I often said that if I would become anything other than a Christian, I would certainly be a Jew. Palestine is a new subject for me, since being introduced to that area by a friend who wrote a book on the subject, from a point of view we don’t hear about ever.

When I finished the book, all I could write about was what was in Ben’s book, by the words he wrote. Which began my reading slant into books that were written, on the ground, within the Palestinian community. There are not many in circulation, that don’t begin with a premise situated in Israel, and merely spits on Palestine.

I need to figure out what I know, what I need to know, and where I sit on the spectrum of politics and on the ground situations. I know where I would like to be, but that point needs to be plotted on a map so that I can see it clearly.

Israel and Palestine is such a deep topic with some serious history, people, and problems, that I am unable to touch because of the complexity of the state of that area of the world. But while in Ottawa, I picked up another tome that I am reading at the moment.

I just cannot read a handful of books and expect to be able to write anything that is worthy of print on this blog, because that would be stupid and green of me.

The entire Middle East is a quagmire of instability, political strife and religious intolerance. And we just cannot say, incendiary things about people we know little about or those points of views or lives that we don’t even care about informing ourselves about, because it is easier to hate outright, then find a point of agreement or understanding.

How many people do you know who really care about the Middle East beyond blanket hatred of those we don’t even know, or care to know ?

Because they are not “Christian?” or “Jewish?”

If we don’t read, or listen to other points of view and study areas of the world that interest us, and take the time to get informed, how can we relate what we are reading/studying?

That is a thing …

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Colorful Metaphors

Any Star Trek fan knows the line from Star Trek IV the Voyage Home, where Kirk and Spock are on a bus, and Spock relates his confusion of people’s use of “Colorful Metaphors.”

I don’t know if it is age, or my sensibilities to certain colorful metaphors and words, used by people I listen to, or something else, but I’ve grown weary of people using certain language.

Since the dawn of the Pod Cast, when I got my I Phone for Christmas, my nightly bed time schedule was shifted when I started listening to Pod Casts. They competed with my traditional book reading time before bed.

Over the past few months, I’ve listened to a number of Pod Cast presenters. And I’ve come to the point that the Ardent Screaming Host, or the host who litters his show with the word FUCK, every other word, I just delete their shows from my phone.

I love me some Bill Maher. But he is incessantly insane. And over the last month, I’ve also grown weary of him as well, because his devolution into insane screaming by the end of the hour podcast.

People who talk on the Pod Cast, are not bound by ethical language rules. Although many men and women, do take listeners into consideration when it comes to words. Others, not so much. I just don’t have the mental energy to listen to people swear and use foul language. It is just no longer appealing.

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Social Media

Over the last year, I have had to unfriend many people from my Face Book Profile. Certain friends litter my time line with shit I am not interested in, and they persist. Others, all they can do is post POST after POST of political bullshit, incessantly.

I went as far as to neuter my feed from showing me anything related to topics I have no interest in. That meant turning certain people off, for my own well being and sanity.

Aside from news online, that I do consume, Face Book and Twitter are two sources of news and current events that I utilize on a daily basis. But I don’t do either on my phone, so I deleted the apps from my phone.

  • I make phone calls on my phone.
  • I listen to music on my phone.
  • And I Pod Cast on my phone.

That’s it.

I am trying to set some news boundaries for myself. I have built a wall around me on social media that is useful, because I have a life, and I am not connected to social media 24/7. That is insane.

I turn on my computer when I wake up, I run my set. All those sites I look at and participate in and when I am done, I just shut off the computer until I need it again, and I go read, or better yet, I nap …

All the time…

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Sober Realizations

I wrote to a friend of mine recently …

I no longer have the desire to engage most people who believe so strongly what they do, contrary to any evidence of acceptance and respect of humanity in others. Religion, like politics, are two areas I intentionally stay away from, because I know who I am, and what I know, and that is good for me. Sobriety teaches me that I don’t always have to argue when it is not necessary to do so.

He replied that this portion of my comment is a post in itself.

I spend my days working with others. I spend a few nights a week in meetings. Only three meetings a week now, instead of my prior, six meetings a week, spread over two fellowships.

I love what I do. Because the men and women I work with are accountable. We are all moving forwards. And that is a really good thing. Because I am not a born leader, however I think I “could” lead. I’ve had time in the past where what I did and what I said meant something to those I spent time with.

You never know WHO you are going to meet or what conversation you are going to have with them, until the meeting happens, and conversations take place either before or after.

I want a clean break going into my fifties.

God has made that something that I work on daily. Recently, certain friends have gone dark, for one reason or another, that I am not understanding at the moment, but it is what it is.

I have a routine that works. I have a life that is fulfilling. I have friends whom I love and adore. And a best friend, second to none.

Discussion was brought up the other night, by someone I trust, when he asked me why I just did not adopt the baby, and give her a father, who wants to be in her life, and someone she can rely on, because I am reliable and accountable to her and Mama.

And my reply was this … I want the biological father to pay his dues like the law states. Because he is a dead beat and a looser. And I want him to pay up.

I don’t want to step in and absolve him of any responsibility towards the baby.

I need to research this before I head to New Foundland in April.

I think I know what I want of life and of myself. But that is subject to change because sobriety is not a one trick pony.

Shit happens. Life happens. And you never know what to expect when you walk into a room full of your friends and fellows.

You might just learn something you did not know, or realize something you had not before, and it wasn’t until that particular moment that God opened up your eyes and spirit. And you heard something you realized you really needed.

But did not realize you needed it until right then.

This is the filler that happened between the lines over the last little while.

Sobriety is Magic. Sobriety is Miracles. Sobriety is God, it is Us and it is We.

I love the “We” that I am part of today.

Friday – Our Family Has Grown – Best Night of the Week

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The weather has turned cold, and a little of the white stuff may fall over the next few days. Sadly, not enough to make a difference on the ground. The hope is for a White Christmas.

I’ve met my new Elders this week. We spent family night together, and it was their first “Family Night” because this community event was not part of where they had been prior to coming to our ward.

The Holiday Event for the LDS church began: Mormon.org Christmas Message

There are twenty five days of giving on a daily schedule. After the short film we played a crowd favorite: Werewolf … gather your folks, each has an identity, and it is a day and night game, with a narrator who guides the game. One of our local Mandarin Elders is really good at that, and our new Elders had never played before so that was a treat to watch.

Wednesday I started my Christmas shopping for home and New Foundland. I am sharing Christmas with Baby Mama, she recently moved into her new home with baby LuLu. And given recent events, and child support still up in the air, money is an issue. So I have been collecting Christmas for both of them. We have a date at a food bank Christmas Gift Program, and a lady friend of mine is going to go shopping with me, for Mama in the coming days. All that will go by Express Post as soon as we’ve collected everything that needs to go to New Foundland.

Today, I had my first “Discussion” with my new Elders. We set the stage for continuity of ministry, I shared with them what my LDS mentors in Salt Lake City have said about my circumstances. Now they are consulting the Mission President so that I can sit with him and have a discussion about me, because his no win repugnant suggestion is totally off base and disrespectful to me and my husband.

I came home with time to spare, so I got a disco nap before I had to head out. We welcomed a couple, (Who are now new parents) from Toronto. These young people have been staple members of the group for a long time. Tonight they brought their new baby.

Babies make things brighter. We are so proud of both of them.

We are marching towards the holidays. And I’ve made some suggestions to our young people:

  • Go and find someone who might not be IN the meetings, and CALL THEM, and do something good for that person. Coffee, Meals, Meetings.
  • Go into your community and find someone, or a family, that might not have enough to make Christmas really special, and give something because you can.
  • Christmas is a time of miracles. Go Be a Miracle for someone.
  • The Holidays can be sketchy, and we have options and guides to help make things a bit easier. We introduced them this evening. (READ: Living Sober)
  • Invite a member to your Holiday Dinner if you can and are able.
  • Make sure your elderly neighbors are not alone. Check on them, make sure they are alright.
  • Meetings are OPEN on the holidays. There are very few closures and cancellations here, so there is no reason you can’t make a meeting on the holiday.

The Holiday Season is a a season of happiness and giving. But it is also a season of misery and sadness for some. And this is a fact. We see this every year. So I’ve been working tirelessly in making sure there is a room to go to and people to care for their neighbors and their fellows.

Numbers always fluctuate during the holidays. And Sobriety Looses Its Priority for some. The factor of a slip versus making it back after the new year are slim. So our job is to keep our numbers stable, because we always see numbers spike in January, so everybody needs to be on deck. Every good moment we create NOW, will carry through the Holidays.

GOOD DEEDS COUNT TWICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE …

Go Do Good Deeds.