Acceptance, A Bitter Pill to Swallow

What happens when you are forced to re-evaluate your life, and one realizes that the life you had been living is no more? And all those parts of life, that make you, who you are, no longer apply?

When I “Came Out,” I came out into a world that was segregated, to itself. There was a particular door, I needed to walk through, and there was only one location, where that door existed, according to the man who told me this piece of information.

For the whole of my life, I consumed every piece of reading material that I could find, in the home I lived in. Reading material that I found titillating and erotic. I knew, I was Gay, before I knew what Gay was, because the media I consumed, via radio and print, was specific.

I had an idea of the life I wanted, because it was fantastical. It was, a Fantasy.
A Fantasy that would never materialize. Never …

If you are gay, sex is part of who you are. it is what we do. It is how we express love and attraction. If you were gay, then you were sexual. That was a given. And in my twenties, I was pretty, desirable, sexual. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that there was only one way into the Gay Community.

That One Way, was through a bar. A location where like minds drank and socialized.

I was told, to go to a particular bar, Uncle Charlies. A bar I knew well, later on in my story. But I went to this bar, parked my car, and set my resolve that I was going to go inside and have a couple of drinks, because I was told, that IF I DRANK, fireworks would happen.

For a decade I did that. I would go to a bar, and I would drink, and eventually, fireworks would happen. I knew, that if I showed up, people would notice me, and notice me they did.

I made numerous mistakes. I met all the wrong people. And I did stupid things, when I drank. I was a tornado in the lives of people. I became a selfish liar.

Now I know, I was sold a delusional bill of goods. Being gay, for me, was a selfish lifestyle. But it was all that I knew. because for the time being it worked for me, until it stopped working.

I never knew where I was going to end up, once I started drinking. What house I would end up in, or in who’s bed. That drinking charade lasted, until one morning at 7 a.m. I was sitting in a bar in Fort Lauderdale, and I entered into an agreement, an alcoholic agreement.

That one sexual event, was the event that changed my life. I took me a very long time, to realize that on that morning, the Proverbial Bullet was shot. And evidently, I was the target, I did not know I was the target, but in the end, it was Me who Lost.

Meanwhile, James was on his way out of this life. I had separated and began to figure out what I was going to do after falling for a serial liar and cheater. He would eventually commit suicide. I would find him five days too late.

Up till now, the fantasy life I had imagined, had yet to materialize.

One night, I decided to go to the Old Stud. A kid in jeans and t-shirt, walking into a rough and tumble leather bar. I knew, it was trouble I was looking for. I went there on purpose.

That was the night that Todd stepped out of heaven and wrecked my world.

He knew, why I was standing in his bar, with a drink in my hand. His first impression took me by surprise, but it was love at first strike.

And you know, that fantasy life I so wanted, died that night.

Todd saw fit to never allow me to entertain my darkest fantasies. Ever. He knew the trouble I sought, and in ensuing years, after I got sick, and sex all but dried up forever, he knew the trouble makers out there, and he knew that if I went there, there would be even more trouble for me. Trouble that I would never survive.

And survival was the thrust of our relationship, Todd and I. He worked very hard at making sure I lived, when everybody else died, slowly, miserably and addicted.

I got sober. Because I was dying of AIDS.

I turned my will and my life over to the care of Todd:read:God, on a nightly basis. I learned Step Three on a nightly basis. Getting sober, came in a distant second to surviving AIDS in the 1990’s.

I did stay sober. I never had sex again. I did try, but men are evil. That was a bitter lesson.

How was I going to survive as a gay man, and never have sex again? I had no idea, but as long as I had something to do, to stay out of my head, and work, I did not have time to think about sex.

When Todd moved away, and I relocated to Miami for a doctor, AA, did not welcome me. It was just the opposite. AA told me to go away and never return.

That was sick, evil, and could have killed me in the end.

When they told me to go away, my ego and my selfish pursuits rose in my throat. It consumed me, and the next decision I made, SOBER, was to pursue sex.

I pulled a geographic in sobriety. 1000 miles away. For SEX. Point. Stop.

I did not find it. However I found more addiction, drugs, and alcohol. I did not only drink, I used drugs. Until I hit the moment that the cops showed up and took me away, and sent me to a rehab house in another state to dry out and sober up.

I was there for a month.

The life I lived in the past, the life I knew, was used against me, and I almost lost my life, in the selfish pursuit I was on. You cannot have sex, with an individual who is addicted and mentally unstable. You don’t know what you don’t know, and I did not know the state of the man I was after, before I got there. it was plainly, a total surprise.

A month later, I returned to Miami. On a bus, across the United States.

I was still drinking, thankfully, I never touched another drug.

9-11 happened. And that stopped the taps for a couple of weeks.

But once we started drinking again, it only got worse. I knew I could not drink every day, so I chose to binge on Saturday nights.

At age 34 … I had pissed away four years of sobriety and was on the end of my eighteen month slip.

I would go to Salvation, a nightclub in a big hall, with big sound, and Pretty Men.

I knew the drill. Arrive at 11 p.m. wait till midnight, when the main hall opened, start drinking. At 1 a.m. the bells would ring, and the liquid nitrogen was dropped on the club, wherein men of all stripes would strip their shirts and get down to business.

I figured that if I drank, someone would notice, and sex would happen.

I did drink, until I fell down.
Somebody noticed; and got me from the club into my bed, across several weeks,
Sex never happened.

I prayed to God for the Solution. The solution came.

Troy took me to my next First Meeting, at SOBE. December 2001.

I got sober, and have been sober ever since.almost eighteen years in December.

11 months into Sobriety, I met my now husband. In short order, we dated for a month, I moved into this apartment over Christmas 2002, and I never left.

I became a Canadian Citizen on February 13th, 2003.

For a short while, before mental illness took the man I met away from me, we had sex a handful of times. As of that date, we’ve never had sex, ever again. Bi-polar medication does things to ones brain, when medicine is pounded for a year, without fail, until the correct mixture was found.

What was a sex life, became non-existent. We don’t talk about it, and we don’t have sex, it is not at the top of either of our personal lists.

Cue to April 1st, 2019.

I have the third prophetic dream and in that dream, Chastity becomes a solution. I knew, that if I did not act on this dream, I would be making a mistake. Ignoring God a third time, would end up, a wall falling down on top of me, because I ignored Him three times.

I was not going to ignore Him a third time.

It took me six months of selfish wrangling about my sex life, to finally turn it all over, and accept that I am not a sexual being any longer. I am not having sex, with anyone, because I’d never cheat on my husband. So masturbation was the constant.

A constant that had to come to an end. And I had to be ok with that.

Like I said, it took me six months to ACCEPT this little truth about myself. But Accept I did, without reservation. I turned this last portion of an old selfish idea of myself over to God, as I understand Him.

Acceptance keeps coming up in meetings, and several times over the past few months, I’ve had to eat this word, bitterly. Acceptance IS a Bitter Pill to swallow, when one realizes that the person you thought you were, when this journey began in my twenties, no longer exists. This is who I am today.

I want to rid myself of character defects and shortcomings.

Being Selfish is an old idea I really need to shed, today, and not tomorrow.

I need to believe that God has my back. No matter how hard I trust God, I still second guess Him, to my own peril.

Let’s just say that I am openly admitting my selfishness, and how ugly it is, and that I cannot abide in God and retain selfish motives or needs.

Giving up of myself totally and without reservation has to be the final Godly order.

I know what is right. I just need to believe that I can do the right thing, even if I do not want to do the right thing, because the right thing, takes away the final part of what makes me a gay man, and what will I be when I take away everything that made me who I was when I came out of the closet all those years ago ?

I have no idea. But I am on the way to finding out.

My best friend and I are participating in Locktober.

Change is coming. As long as we can see the truth.

What Will The Newcomer Think?

Today I was wearing a variant of this outfit, in Blue, rather than Black, but Under Armour in any case. I saw this photo in one of my streams and decided on replicating it in my wardrobe. I have several different iterations of said color scheme. Any color goes with white 3/4 tights, as long as your sock and shirt colors match.

I devote myself to breaking the mold of just what a 50+ year old man can wear in public. And the men who know me all have smart ass remarks about my looks. I really do not care what people have to say about my looks or my methods.

I’ve learned not to care what others think about me. I have more people who support me, rather than deride me openly.

Today in particular, my old sponsor who is up in the twenty six year range was sitting outside the church with another elder friend at thirty years sobriety. My old sponsor looked at me and said:

“You know you should really stop wearing your underwear out in public, I mean really, what will the newcomer think if they see you dressed that way?”

I should have pulled down my pants and showed him my brightly colored patterned underwear that I WAS wearing underneath my white tights.

But I digress …

I had posed a question to my elder friend sitting next to him, and he turned his face away from me, and answered my question by posing the answer to another man standing ten feet away, as if to say, he acquiesced to my old sponsors admonition about my wardrobe choice tonight.

I noticed …

Newcomer won’t come near me because they all think me a little strange, but I do have my friends in the younger bracket. I mean, I will socialize and I do, and I share when necessary, but overall, I am interested in their progress and mainly keep tabs on my kids where ever I go, on any particular night.

I told the story about the boy I cornered with the three, seven, eleven shuffle last week. He’s been MIA for days and skipped all the meetings we used to share in common. I hope I did not scare him away because I asked him to pray, as the Book Says … and that He does not DO GOD.

Oh well, you win some and you loose some, I guess.

We spoke about Step Seven tonight:
Humbly Asked Him to Remove our Shortcomings.

I always tell the same story when talking about Step Seven.

Many years ago, just after I was diagnosed, and getting sober at the same time, I have said before that Todd knew more about sobriety than any man I knew or have known since.

He was in essence: God. As I understood Him.

One night, on a busy weekend, I was on duty and the main bathroom was packed and someone put a RED CUP in a toilet backwards. The toilet was overflowing with shit and piss and other sundry fluids.

Todd called me over and said to “Clean the bathroom.” My response was “I don’t do toilets!” He said a second time “Clean the bathroom” Which my response did not change. He went into the kitchen and brought out a pair of rubber gloves and demanded quite forcefully, that I should reconsider and go and Clean the Bathroom.

I had nowhere to go but to follow orders.

I did indeed don the gloves and attacked the bathroom and the backed up toilet. At the end of shift, Todd spoke to me saying this:

Do you know why I had you clean that messy toilet? Everything he told me to do was connected to some lesson about the present and maybe the future. I said No…

His answer was loving and kind. He said that if I could clean a shitty toilet, that if I got really sick and ended up in a shitty diaper one day, that I would then know what to do for myself.

Lesson learned. Humble Pie it was …

Many men I knew who were vibrant and alive, ended up sick, demented, and lying in their own shit. I had a friend for a while who was damned to diaper living and it was demeaning. It was terrible for him. And I swore then and there, I would rather die than to end up sick, demented, and lying in a shitty diaper.

Thank God I never saw that kind of sickness in my own life. And for that I am forever grateful for small mercies.

Humility … for me, is knowing my place in the world. I am not better than anyone else, I know what I know, because I’ve studied life for the whole of my life and I’ve been sober quite a long time now. You cannot take that away from me. My life experience nor my sober knowledge.

I am not the center of the universe and my belly button is not the center either, and finally:

There is a GOD, but I am NOT GOD.

I know what enough means, and I am ok with having enough. Because for many years in early sobriety, we had very little, and for a long time, we did not have Enough. And we had to make it work.

Enough is not lost on me.

Keep it simple, Help someone else, because you can, and not because you expect something in return.

Last week, I went to intergroup to buy a chip for one of our men at the men’s meeting on Wednesday night. I did not say anything about it, but I got his cake, card, and candles.

We gave him the whole ritual of cake and chip.

On Saturday morning, my sponsor called from Vermont. I missed his call because it was early and I was still sleeping. He called to tell me that he had heard about the anniversary celebration, and he said: “Well Done.”

I had not told him about what I was doing, because he’s out of country right now, but several of the men in the group called him to tell him what I had done, a good thing for someone else.

I did not expect praise nor did I do it for the praise, it was the right thing to do for someone. Kindness goes a long way in making friendships work.

But it was nice to hear the words … Well Done.

Something Todd would have said to me.

It made me smile inside.

Reflections Step Seven

The month of July, this year, has been a month of reflection and thought. It is like I have been working through a personal inventory of myself, and what I have learned about myself. My good points, and my bad points.

I have a particular Gay experience to draw upon. I have said, in the past that, things were not so easy, in the very beginning.

Living with AIDS, was not easy. Watching other people CRACK UP in front of me and my friends was disturbing. Loosing everyone, I thought would be in my corner, was a terrible by product of getting sick.

Ignorance was rife …

I learned early on after that, that it was not so important what people SAID, what was more important what people DID.

Living on the edge of society, well under the poverty level, procuring services that decided life or death, was paramount. I learned what were Cast Iron Panties, and how to put on those Cast Iron Panties very early on.

Several times I actually had to use them. Let me tell you that, if you said you’d do something I needed, on any level, and you failed to do that thing …

Hell hath no fury like an AIDS sick man.

A very TRUE STORY…

Back in the late nineties, after I got sick, for years, I had tried to get disability Insurance from the Government and I failed several times.

At the last, I stopped taking my medication for a month, I did not shower, or change my clothes, once. About a month in, I had a disability appointment with someone who could sign off on my application and grant me much needed financial support.

He, in the past, denied me that financial support.

So unwashed, sick and dirty, I walked into his office and sat down in front of him. He started talking to me. I took a deep breath and I coughed on him.

He stopped talking right then and there, and signed that application with not a further word of argument.

True Story …

You learned the character of the people around you, by their words, and indeed their actions. This piece of advice still applies today.

I know how alcoholics treated me when I came into the program twenty five years ago. Had that experience been more positive and supportive, this year I would have reached twenty five years sober.

Alas, that was not my experience.

Todd knew more about humility, honesty, and love, than any man or woman I know, to this very day.

Had he not stepped in and took me into his orbit, and taught me all the lessons he had, I would have surely died.

I spoke about this tonight, in my Step Group Study. In this meeting are a handful of LONG SOBER men whom I like and trust.

When I returned to the rooms in 2001, it was people who first hugged me and welcomed me into the SOBE room. They really cared about me, and that meant the world to me, and kept me IN the Room.

When I moved to Montreal, I looked for those same attributes in the people I met when I first arrived. In the first little while good people were Hit and Miss.

When I found the group I would HOME in for twelve years, the way I got sober and stayed sober, was by watching everyone else around me. I listened to them talk, lots of talk. I watched them make decisions, good and bad.

Most importantly, I paid attention to my friends who drank again, and again, and again.

I stuck and stayed while masses of people were drinking again.

I knew what NOT to do. I knew who to avoid, and who to stay away from.

Alcoholics are fallible people, we know this. Bill said as much in many of his talks before General Conference Meetings, for years.

None of us are perfect, none of us are better than another. Least of all ME.

Many years ago, I entertained a long sober man and asked him to sponsor me. An NDG man. For all intents and purposes, I stay away from NDG Men.

Why you ask ? I’m Gay.

Nothing turns my stomach quicker than a heterosexual man who needs to talk to hear himself talk, the pussy loving, hockey fan, who just has that air of heterosexuality about him. Men who overcompensate for being straight. Pissing contests are usual. And the size of their penises.

For a few years, I hung out with these men, because they were sober longer than I was, then. I did not go to their meetings, BUT I did attend several Twelve Step Retreats in Vermont with these men.

Imagine being the only queer banana in a car, driving to Vermont with overcompensating heterosexual men.

God give me strength.

At the very first group meeting, at the very first retreat I was at, in Vermont, I came out to the group of men. Because I was the only queer member in that group, for several retreats.

I quote …”Oh we accept you and we love you and we want to be your friend.”

That was all well and good. All that changed when we hit our first communal meal together.

I went through the buffet, got my food, and found a seat at an open table. I sat down, and I waited. And I watched.

I watched every single man, who said they accepted me among them, grab their own food, walk by my table, and sit somewhere else, not one of these men chose to break bread with me.

This happened at every retreat I was at, over and over.

Right then and there, the nails in their coffins were hammered.

Some time would pass, and my NDG sponsor having witnessed the worst painful experience I had ever experienced in Sobriety, spoke to me and he humiliated me in front of our group.

I swore I would never share space with any of those men ever again.

After the shooting at the Pulse Club in Orlando, I was devastated. Because as a kid in my twenties, I drank in that building too. I knew the story of the kid who did the shooting. I knew that he scoped out both Pulse and the Parliament House, where I had my Coming Out Experience.

I wanted to drink so bad. But I knew I could not.

I turned to meetings to save me. Most importantly, a Big Book Reading Meeting. I knew that if I read the BIG Book through, I would NOT DRINK.

There were 45 men and women in that meeting. All the Queer men in the program on the English side, ALL OF THEM, sat in this meeting.

I was a wreck for eighteen months. Emotionally and mentally.

Not One Man or Woman, GAY or STRAIGHT wanted to know me. Not one of those men or women said one single word to me, personally, at any time, before or after any of those meetings over eighteen months.

Not One Alcoholic said those words to me…
“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”
NOT ONE !!!

I’ve NEVER heard those words come out of ANY sober mouth, in all the years I have been sober, EXCEPT from Lorna Kelly who came from New York to speak at a Round Up. She spoke those words in front of everybody.

I think I was the only who who heard her. To This Day.

And in the end one of those queers, who read the same book I did, got to the last chapter of the Big Book, and we read HOW to stay SOBER and NEVER drink again, HE DRANK AGAIN.

Because he IS constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself.

Now I am not, in any way, stating that I am better than anyone else, but I do know the work I have done in as many years to stay sober. I know every man and woman who participated in my sobriety TO DATE.

Todd taught me about My Place in the World and in the Universe. I know my place in the world. I know, that as long as I serve others, to the best of my ability, I can maintain some semblance of humility.

I commented tonight, at the meeting that last night, I had a visceral reaction to some folks who came into the meeting last night.

I just don’t have any desire to be friendly with some of my heterosexual counterparts, because of the way they treated me over the years. They walk in the meeting and announce their presence, and I’m just like:

SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN.

I was SO uncomfortable sitting in my chair, that at one point, before the meeting, that I actually got up, and walked outside, to sit with my friends who were hanging out, outside the church on one of the benches.

I had no desire to sit there and listen to people I have no desire to want anything that they have. I stayed sober, by watching and listening to everybody else. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing.

I am a Gay man who survived AIDS.

So I am a bit more judgmental of people, in a way that other queer men are not. Not that there are NO QUEER men in the rooms who want to be my friend, so when we sit in the same room, they have nothing to say to me and I don’t have anything to say to them either.

I know who my friends are, and who I take solace from, and those men and women who contribute to my sobriety.

It just struck me odd last night, that I had that kind of reaction sitting in a room, I regularly sit in on a weekly basis. And I brought that up with my old timer friends tonight at the step meeting.

People are not apt to speak to me about anything I say in meetings, and old timers rather keep to themselves, and they don’t usually offer counsel, or criticism, or tell me to just shut the fuck up and listen.

I find that odd. That people won’t call you out, or say anything when we share in meetings. It’s like I am having this particular sober experience, and nobody is playing pin ball with me, there are no bumpers on the side, banging me back into play.

It’s like I am running on my own.

If I don’t ask someone directly for advice, nobody offers advice.

That strikes me as odd too.

Just a few observations about myself.

At What Point Can We Get Honest ?

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I heard one of my friends tonight say, about a conversation he had earlier, with a friend, that he was not sure he could be honest with said friend about the topic they were discussing.

I know my friend for many years now. I have many friends, I have known for a long time, and becoming who we are begins with getting better all the way around. We stay clean and sober, and we do the work that is given to us, Willingly.

Willingness is the key.

I have said before that I cannot do life alone. I need my sponsor, my guides and my friends. I need that voice, coming over my shoulder, that says … It’s gonna be OK.

I have a few twenty-four hours under my belt. And for a long time, I did not know what I did not know. And I know the first time I was attempting to get sober, there was A LOT that I did not know. And that worked against me, as represented by the wordsI spoke and the decisions I made, based on self. (not the good self for that matter)

Life is all about becoming who we are supposed to be. Sometimes the road is easy, but in my experience, for many people, the road has been very tough.

I spoke tonight about life. I knew, very early on, in my life, what it was that I did NOT want to be. I heard words that I swore I would never use myself. And I heard thoughts that were repugnant, bigoted and racist.

I knew …

Growing up, if you did not fit in the box my parents wanted you to check, they punished you with silence, and darkness and humiliation and resentment.

Imagine a kid growing up with that kind of negativity and trying to find your way into the world, and survive the slog!

My father went to his grave, hating me, and resenting me for becoming who I was meant to be. My mother is on that very same shit path herself. Last night, I read in this months Grape Vine, about a woman long sober, making peace with her mother, and she asked her what she could do to mend the fence between them ?

The answer was, You Could agree with me sometimes. I’m not always wrong you know.

And I thought about that conversation all day today.

I imagine going to visit my mother, in my brother’s house, where nobody knows me today, and does not want to know me, because of resentment and anger and denial. I imagine having that kind of conversation with her, knowing she spits out the same vile shit, like a script she has mastered over my lifetime.

I don’t ever think I will ever mend that fence, myself.

The second time I got sober, I began with steps that were all about ME. What people did to me, and why they deserve my scorn and hatred. I remember the first round of steps I did, and how LONG my fourth step was, and the hours it took to do my fifth.

Then I burned them.

For years and years, I’ve been working steps with different people, with different lengths of sobriety. And I have amassed a library of knowledge about myself but more importantly, knowledge about everybody else.

God has a funny way with me. The evidence is right there for me to look at. Steps Six and Seven are the growth steps. The change steps. Because we work Six and Seven for the rest of our lives. And further up the road, at Ten, we learn how to do spot check inventories and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Over the years, as I pass through Six and Seven, God shows me Six and Seven, in front of my face. I have learned to see “spiritually.” It has taken a long time to work that vision out. I know I can trust because I can see.

It is the same with some of my friends, when it comes to me. They can see, for me, when I cannot see for myself. And each of them, each in their own ways, have the voice and the temperament to sit me down and tell me like it is, when I fuck up.

Many of my friends know who they are, in each of their varying lengths of sobriety. Many of my friends are honest with me. And I see that virtue in them, in the books I have read on honesty, virtue and honor.

What I see in them, I want to become myself.

I don’t know, at what point, we can trust our vision, and humbly admit we don’t know everything, but I we know some things. In the beginning, I would not say anything to people because I did not know myself what it was I really wanted to say, even if it sounded good in my head.

Over the years, I have worked with others. And over the years I have had several sponsors. And over the years, each of them fell victim to their own character defects.

As I get and stay sober, and life goes on, and shit happens, and things get real, what I witnessed was my friends, my sponsor and other drunks, reacting to the fact that I was having a hard time. I listened to the words they said to me. And I witnessed what each of them did to me, in response to my life getting “Shit Real.”

The rooms really don’t like to see people “In the Mix” People in the rooms, don’t like to witness pain and hardship. And many of my friends and sponsor at the time, pushed me away, freaking out, because I was freaking out, and when I jumped out of my placid, quiet, reserved skin, and became a little odd and crazy, that freaked people out, because I was coming out of my skin, and for a long time at that, that quiet, sane individual became someone they did not know, or want to know.

So they all ran for the hills.

What a shame. And at that point my friends, not knowing what to do with a crazy man, in front of them, all scattered.

There are many ways to get sober. I know a friend, who is more than twenty-five years sober. She, like myself, learned how to get sober, the hard way. We walked into particular meetings, and those men and women, said one thing to us …

If you follow our suggestions, and do not argue, and you work, as we show you what to do, yes, you too will get and stay sober.

There were no two ways about it. It was their way or the highway, so to speak.

She was handed her job. And likewise, I was handed mine. A coffee pot.

We listened to old timers tell us what to do. We both had sponsors who did the right thing at the right time, for the right reason. We learned suggestions. We worked steps. We did service, and to this day, BOTH of us do service, all the time, every day.

Repetition is the key in recovery.

We read the same book, work the same steps. hear the same stories, over and over again. But as we share with each other, as we remain clean and sober, perspective changes.

Each time we make a pass at a particular story or topic or step, we see it in the way we see it IN THAT MOMENT, as it is. not particularly, the way we saw it, the last time we hit that share, or topic or step.

It is like polishing a gem stone. Each pass at the wheel makes the gem better.

We both know what we heard, all those years ago. We both know what we did, over the years, so we know what to do, because we spent the better part of our lives, treading the same things over and over. With all that time between us, and each in our own times, we know what we know, because we heard, we worked, we spoke, and we did.

She has a voice, and I have mine. Based on practical experience, strength and hope.

I talk to newcomers and I tell them what I did, and I make simple suggestions. Not many people want to hear what I have to say, because I, like my elder lady friend, come from the sober school of hard knocks.

Sobriety is not easy. And people know that from the get go.

But if you say something that is not easy … They respond with I just Can’t !

So I ask, why not ? What have you got to lose, but the old way you used to live ?

They say that honesty is the best policy. But when do we know what honesty is, and when do we know that what we have to say matters, is truthful, honest and comes from a place of humility?

That, is a tall order. And can take a lifetime to learn.

Over the years, I have worked with men and women. many of them are not in my life anymore, because when I hit the rough spot, who I became was unacceptable to their sensibilities. All that sober knowledge I spent teaching them, went for naught.

Because each of them sunk into their character defects. I saw it. I heard it, and I spoke about it too. Being honest in all my affairs was a mantra I use to this day.

I was honest with them. They did not like that. So that made me less sober or trustworthy.

Fuck Me for Trying !!!

I know today, the odds, when people come in the rooms. By what they say, and what they do, and who they listen to. The fighters and arguers, never make it. Those who justify their addictions, never get better. Until they decide to get honest.

I know sober folks who are constitutionally unable to be honest with themselves.

If I attend a meeting, for a long time, for a specific reason, to learn something, and people treat me badly, that is not on me, it is on them. When people who used to be my friends, turn out to NOT be friends, and do not have the ability to reciprocate kindness, that is on them and not me.

There are LONG SOBER men and women, whom I have known for the whole of my sobriety. We are talking people with decades of sobriety, who treat me with ignorance and silence. That just floors me.

I know who I am today. And I know what I know about each person I know. Because I have spent the better part of sixteen years and a few months, watching and listening to them in meetings.

I got sober, on the backs of every single person in every single meeting I went to. Every single day of this sober segment.

I know every decision they made. I know every mistake they made. I heard every word they said, in meetings, over and over. I watched people go back out, come back in, go back out and come back in.

I also watched some people die in that process.

If you did something and succeeded, I used that myself. If you did something and failed, I chalked it up to lessons learned. I made mistakes. I said things. I decided things too.

For the most part, I did my best, with whatever I had at the moment.

Not everybody was amused. Many people judge and are critical of me.

That is on them and not me. People are who they are, and will do what they do, so I should not let that bother me, but it does. Some don’t seem to learn and get better. They just want to be who they are. And their growth becomes stunted.

I am honest with people. Almost to a fault and that scares people, that I could know what I know, it is only that I know because I have tested all my methods over the years and I know what works.

I am in the book. I am in my steps. I am in meetings, and I do service. All the time.

I am always looking for the next greatest teacher or lesson. And right now, I am in a brand new incarnation of who I want to be, based on those I surround myself with.

I trust few.

We are all growing up to who we want to be.

Each at our paces.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

And what ever happens, a drink will not solve them.

So I hit another meeting …

Monday: The WORK that keeps on Giving

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebook

We heard many good things about step work tonight. The good thing about or little community is the variance of people, time, and experience. Having a cross-section of people talk about experience, is good for everyone in the long run.

Many of us, with some serious time, have tried every “new thing on the block” to spice up sobriety. Over the years, visitors have come from other places to share with us, how they approach THE WORK.

For me, and many of my friends, this little jaunt into “New Methods” began in the year 2012. New Yorker’s who live here, part of the year and back home, at other times, had a method. Many saw it, watched it work for others, and then attempted that work for themselves.

I met a few people over the years, who taught me new methods of The WORK and also about Prayer. It was then, that I began to arduously make prayer work for me. Not that I had not set myself the duty of prayer before. Bob just told me how to step up my game. I followed his direction, and that changed the entire ball game for me.

Today, I hear some of my friend talk about where they are. Some have grown tired of trying new things, and many of us are in a place today, where we recognize that being perfect is not necessary. And that like some, we just want to be loved, and feel ok.

The push for continual growth has slowed for many. Many of my friends are in a “down time” place today. Those with time, have a desire to feel where they are and to experience life as it comes, “in the moment.” However, the work continue, in any case.

We’ve not seen “new methods” come to us over the last little while. So we have been regurgitating the latest method were had been working with. For many, that has grown old and tired. Some have disappeared, a few have resurfaced over the past little while.

Everybody is different, and no two people follow the same proscriptions for sobriety. I think it bears saying that, listening to each other, and sitting with each other often, that is where God is going to speak to us. Through others, in community.

I know that if I don’t hear from God directly, I need to hit a meeting and listen attentively.

Steps are progressive. They never end. You work steps, over and over. The longer you stick around, we grow up. I heard a man say, tonight, that when he realized that he had, Grown Up, in sobriety, that the steps became useful, because he recognized his own progress.

They say that when we started drinking and using, the age we were, AT THAT TIME, is where we stop growing up. Which then tells you, when you got sober, what age you will begin at. I was twenty-one for a long time. A very long time.

Folks who come in late, (in terms of age) don’t necessarily recognize how emotionally and mentally immature they are when they come in. But like my friend mentioned tonight, when he came in he was 41. With a mental age of 21.

When I came in at 34, I was stuck in the mental age of twenty-five, when my drinking was just off the charts, and I was going to die. We’ve all recognized, in ourselves, just how much many of us have grown up, over the years.

Tonight we read Page 75… The reading dealing with steps 5 through 7.

How after we speak our inventory, we go home and take out the book, and review the first five proposals, taking time to realize if we have done things right. Have we a firm foundation. Have we skimped on the cement, Have we left anything out…

There is ONE paragraph on Step Six. Not a whole lot of direction or advice on what to do. Then the book launches in the Seventh Step Prayer …

God, I am now ready for you to have ALL of me, good and bad …

I have heard, over the years that Steps 6 and 7, are the steps we live in for the rest of our sober lives, even having worked all the way through Step 12.

Character Defects and Shortcomings … They never go away. We just learn how to mitigate the damage we can wreak on others.

I told this story tonight. It’s an OPRAH story about Step Work.

By Steps Six and Seven, we should have conscious contact with a Power Greater than Ourselves. In any case, we should have figured out that equation by now.

Many don’t …

Anyways. Oprah talks about God in this way …

God speaks to us. All the time. On the first pass, God whispers to us. If we miss the first whisper, He whispers again. If we miss it the second time, God hits us over the head with a TWO by FOUR. If we miss it the third time, God drops a WALL on top of US.

That is exactly how God has gotten my attention in the past. I kind of need that critical, in my face, kind of God experience. Kind of like egging God on to show himself.

I know better. NOW. Because I know God exists. I’ve met Him in the flesh.

How often I forget that truth.

Over those years following 2012, I was attending Men’s retreats in Vermont, with a bunch of evangelical straight sober men, who talk out of one side of their mouths, then do the opposite in action.

Working through character defects and shortcomings was an In Your Face, God experience. I missed the whispers. I got whacked by the two by four, then had the wall dropped on me. Before I actually realized what was going on.

That’s the way it has been for me. Things I need to see, in myself, come to me through other people around me. I see what I need to recognize, through the behavior and defects and shortcomings of other sober people standing in front of me.

Which is why I don’t travel in those circles any more. God abhors a hypocrite.

So do I …

Life is cyclical. And runs in cycles. The longer you are sober, the more WORK you do, and the more you grow up and remain sober, these life cycles continue to rise and fall.

Issues we see on our dashboard, early on, are seen with the eyes and perspective of early sobriety, on the first pass of Steps. Those issues and lessons come and go. If we are wise, we learn on that first pass, in perspective.

Those issues don’t go away. They just get “put to bed” for the time being. Until we hit another round of steps, and life continues to grow. Sooner or later, those old problems and old issues rise again. Cyclically.

BUT, now, we see those same old problems and issues with new eyes and new perspective. And that growth continues, the longer we are sober.

It is like a jeweler who polishes Gem Stones. Each issue that rises, gets a cut on the jewelers wheel. Each cut, brings that Gem Stone (read: YOU) into greater perfection. Life is cyclical, and gem stones are continually cut and polished.

We may never reach total perfection, but if we stay sober and we do the work and we grow up, we are a little closer to who we could become, rather than who we once were.

Life can be good. But that takes time and work.

Stick around till the miracle happens.

Sunday Sundries: Anniversary Thoughts

sixteen

I made it. Sixteen years clean and sober.

  • 16 Years
  • 5,840 days
  • 832 Weeks
  • 192 Months
  • 140,160 Hours
  • 8,409,600 Minutes

I thought that a plan of attack was warranted for Thursday night. To go out there and stand before a room full of people, and take THEIR inventories.

I wrote it all out, so I could just stand there and read a prepared statement of facts.

The last time I wrote out a script, I made a complete ass of myself at that particular meeting. Friday night, I told my friend Angie what I was planning to do and had done already. She just shook her head at me, and said,

NO … That’s not what you are going to do.

During the meeting my friend Old Peter spoke about steps. Step 5, we admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the EXACT nature of our wrongs. Step 6, were entirely ready to have God removes these defects of character, and Step 7 HUMBLY asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Thursday night, last, I went to bed with an axe to grind. Which kept me up all night, and pushed me to get out of bed, and write a script, I had intended to deliver to people who seriously, fucked me over, over the past year.

My friend Peter spoke about how he likes to take out his resentments out of his pack, and polish them up, like gem stones. I do the very same thing.

The other problem I have is that I always want to have my day in court. To play prosecutor, judge and jury. In some corner of my mind, the only way I can move on with my life, is to tell people who seriously, fucked me over, what I really think of them, and how I want God to ZOT them off the face of the earth.

Angie tells me that to be truly, happy, joyous and free, I need to let these defects and shortcoming go, or they are going to consume me and push me one day, God forbid, to drink again.

There it is. The truth about the mind of an alcoholic who has some time. Even with time, everybody has problems, and they don’t go away. The Work of Steps and Sponsors, are to make sure we do not act rashly, on defects and shortcomings.

I stayed sober, even when people turned their backs on me. I stayed sober despite them. And I’ve spent years studying my alcoholic counterparts like LAB RATS.

I know them, intimately. Probably more intimately, than they know themselves. This blog is a running record of everything I have heard, every story that has been told, every failure experienced, every success recorded.

I know everything my friends do, when they speak, in front of me. They may not know that even if I do not say a single word, in a meeting, I am recording everything they say, in my memory, so that when I get home, I can write it all down for posterity.

Lorna Kelly, has spoken at great length about Mother Teresa. Mother Teresa knew about every kind of suffering known to man, and she knew how to help that suffering. The only segment of the population that she could not tap were the Alcoholics.

WHY ? Because she did not have a story. She did not have the words, that we do, those words are: “I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …”

Over these past eighteen months many, many people, heard me sob, cry, talk and rant, over and over. NOT ONE OF THEM said those words to me, ever.

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I DID !

I stayed sober despite their apathy and inaction. I stayed sober, because of the way I witnessed them treating me in public. I was warned a long time ago about my fellow alcoholics.

THEY MIGHT HAVE TIME, BUT MANY OF THEM ARE NOT SOBER !

Many people have time, but the God’s honest truth is, they aren’t very sober.

I have to speak about gratitude and humility and thankfulness.

I stayed sober, and this is how I achieved that, on all of your backs.

Plain and simple.

If it were not for them, there would be no US, and no ME.

My friends have my back. They’ve told me what I should do.

People know what they did, and how they acted. I don’t need to remind them.

It’s all good.

Christmas is coming. Snow is on the ground here in Montreal. And more is on the way this week. Hopefully we will have a white Christmas.

More to come.

Sunday: Part 3, The Many Voices

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After a great day, spent in fellowship, worship and community, I figured that the night would pass without incident.

I was WRONG.

People are concerned for my spiritual welfare, and the couple of my lady friends spent considerable amounts of time tonight, reminding me of my shortcomings and patterns they have observed, or heard me speak of, concerning my past.

When I work my Steps, when I reach Step Nine, the Amends process, I stop. Knowing that it will snow in Hell, before I can get past this step completely. And there is anger in my soul. Anger that I keep in check quite well, save for the odd moment, when the dam bursts and I speak words that I should not.

My spiritual director gave me specific counsel on these topics and I have followed his advice to the letter. I must turn my entire life over to God and allow Him to do what I cannot do for myself. The truth about anger and rage is real. I don’t think I will ever be 100% rid of it, and will probably take them to my grave with me.

Like I really need my friends to point out my shortcomings when it is expedient for them to remind me, which only stokes the fires burning in the pit of my soul. And exacerbates the utter sadness I feel about people who have hurt me terribly.

If we felt nothing, and buried the truth in a lock box, who would we be ?

I admit my truth quite openly. It is no secret, my past. But Must I be constantly reminded of it? It’s like pouring salt into the wounds in my soul ?

I told three people of my spiritual path. My best friend is standing by my side. The other two folks, not so much. I walked away from a community that I could do no more for, and it seemed that God had plans for me, because I am where I am at this very moment.

People are talking about me behind the scenes, because oddly, I got two phone calls that I was not expecting. You know how often your friends think of you, or how they don’t think of you often, when your phone does not ring for weeks and weeks. I tried my hardest to break a silent streak among my friends, to no avail. And now I have to explain why I am walking away from people, who have no concern for my welfare or me in general.

I know what silence speaks of …

So, knowing how fast the adversary comes in and tries to darken my spirits, I turned to my scriptures for advice. It did not take but a few moments to find the words I needed to read.

I did everything I was asked to do this morning, when I got home.

And I did everything I was supposed to do, to make the meeting a success again. And as usual, I locked up the church, and walked home alone. That is also a contentious issue.

I know that people think little of me, when we all walk the same direction home, or to the Metro, which is on the way home, when nobody waits to walk home with me, like they used to. Maybe the gossip I am hearing about me is true …

People have judged me and by their words, and actions or lack of either, speaks volumes.

All I know is that I must trust the Savior to care for me, and for Heavenly Father to take the lead and bring me that which will be fruitful in my life.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen

2 Nephi 4:35