Selfish Pursuits

We’ve been focused on The Book this week, and the two fold nature of alcoholism. The allergy to alcohol and the mental obsession of the mind. Which then follows into the spiritual malady that takes place when we introduce alcohol into our systems.

When I was a teen ager, I drank with my friends. Often. Whenever there was a party, we had that party all planned out, from beginning to end. We had plans that were executed to make sure everyone went home, a little more sober, than when they drank at said party.

All these years later, as I attempted to make amends to long since friends, none of them seemed to want to reconnect nor know me today. And they all have their reasons, and I know some of them.

I was working my way out of my closet. When it comes to the allergy, I cannot square that in my lexicon. I think I bypassed the allergy and went straight to Obsession.

My shrink, at that time, was coaching me out of the closet, so I trusted, implicitly, what he said to me. Because there was nobody else, giving me advice, as to how I was supposed to “Break Into” the gay community of the late 1980’s.

He told me, and I quote “The only way in, was through a BAR. I want you to go to said bar, sit down and have a drink, hell have two. FIREWORKS will happen. Wait for Fireworks.”

That was the advice I got. And I stuck to that advice.

Drinking became an obsession. Because as deluded as that advice was, it deluded me into fantasy and wishful thinking. These fantasies and deluded thinking, took me in and stunted my mental growth from the age of twenty one until I hit thirty four, when I put down the drink for the last time.

I drank because it would bring me what I wanted. When it was good, it was good, but in the end, it got very bad. I drank for fireworks, every time.

And it was in a bar at seven in the morning, on that fateful day that brought me more than fireworks, it brought me death along with them.

When I got sick, the mere thought of fireworks, became a MUTE point. I could not get laid for the life of me. Nobody wanted to have sex with a marked human being who was going to die. That was a bitter pill to swallow. But I swallowed it nonetheless.

When Todd moved away, left to my own devices, and nobody to tell me otherwise, I took a stab at selfish pursuits once again. That did not end up good, in any sense. What it brought me was drug addiction, in a dead end location, alone, and no way out. And I had to just bide my time and hope that the cavalry would show up.

The cavalry did come.

But my drinking obsession was not over. I just could not fathom, growing up or accepting that one very important portion of my life was over. That was the second bitter pill I needed to swallow.

In the end, that black outs got too much. And I finally put down the drink and came to my next first meeting to start over again.

In sobriety, I’ve read the book, as we continually read the book during the week at assorted meetings. And I am reminded WHY I am alcoholic and why I put down the drink. Because I am not like normal people. One drink is too many and a hundred drinks are not enough.

God, it seems, is still is action mode. He’s always in action mode. it is just sometimes, I don’t want to listen to Him. At my own peril.

It is what it is.

I know my selfish behaviors. The ones we never talk about in open community. The ones that haunt every man in the rooms today. But there was another option. And I spoke about it. And now I am doing something about it.

You can’t rid yourself of character defects and shortcoming, if you do nothing about them, wishfully thinking that if you just wait them out, they will disappear, the longer one is sober.

It doesn’t work that way.

Sobriety is ever changing, if you are up for the never ending ritual of change. You won’t get better or become better, or become spiritually fit, unless you allow God to prune the bush every once in a while.

I heard it said, for one friend, that when he got sober, his sponsor told him that “if it was in the book, he believed it, and that settled it for him.”

He is Very Long Sober today.

I want to become Very Long Sober like him too.

But in order to become that, I have to work.

Gratitude

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.

It came on God’s time, not mine.

And I am not God.

Thank God.

Gratitude !!!

Seasonal Changes

The weather has been stellar over the past few days. Stellar enough to crate the winter gear, and closet the winter coats. I’ve changed up my wardrobe, and ordered some new clothes suitable for warmer weather.

My usual train of thought is this … Everything I buy, clothes wise, needs to be suitable to wear all year round, meaning, I don’t change up many things seeing I have been in sport mode for a couple of years now. So if I buy it, I need to be able to make it work, in four seasons.

I’ve amended that worry, and have invested in clothing that will work in Spring, Summer, and Fall. It’s all good.

With the weather getting warmer, the season of the terrace begins furiously. The sooner a bar or restaurant can roll out its terrace, outside, the better. That means more shift work for wait staff, more business for the location, and options to sit outside and eat and drink.

There is the rub …

Alcoholics are seasonal creatures. And tonight, I spoke the warning to my Tuesday group. Seasonal sober people are legion. Those who come in late in the year, in the Fall or towards the Winter, make it through maybe a couple of seasons.

As Fall turns to Winter, folks will triangulate the time they spend above ground, from Home to any particular meeting, because the colder it gets outside, and the depth of snow on the ground, dictates who will venture out into the cold, and for how long, to reach their desired destination.

In the Winter months, attendance numbers drops drastically. There are two groups. Those who decide to shelter in place, and hibernate for the entire Winter, and those intrepid souls who do come out, in any weather, because their sobrieties depend on making meetings, all year round.

I’ve been sitting in one particular meeting for eighteen years. And have seen a lot of things take place in front of me. And I said so much tonight. Our ladies, think me sexist and making obvious derogatory remarks about women, but the truth is harder than fiction.

I know, for a fact, who made it, and who did not. I know, for a fact who drank again, and who did not. Sit in a room for eighteen years, and you will see what I have seen and can attest to this line of truth for yourself.

As soon as it warms up and the terraces open, on the very first good day to ride ones bike through Montreal, it happens, like clockwork.

Many of my women I speak about fall into the trap, like clock work. They ride their bike, and after a bit, they get thirsty. They roll up to a terrace, park their bikes, take a seat … AND DRINK AGAIN !!!

I said this tonight, and one young lady said out loud that she indeed was a woman, feeling insecure and anxious, about the terraces outside and spoke those words … I want to drink again.

She heard me make the warning. Then she walked out of the meeting before the meeting ended. The rest is up to her higher power.

Seasons …

I am once again, learning the hard lesson that not everybody is meant to be in your life, for the rest of your life, or just for a season. Being a male who is vulnerable, in the rooms, is detrimental to relationships. Because not all people are willing to see themselves, or you for that matter, in all their vulnerability.

I live a sober life, to the best of my ability. But I have my limits of sucking it up and being a trooper and not letting life, as it happens, affect me outwardly. Like I said, I have my limits. I just cannot sit on my emotions and allow them to eat me from the inside out. I might not say too much about that when that happens.

When I am displeased, I try, to say very little. And if I do speak, the message is usually clear. My friends do not like me when I am truthful. People would rather me sit in a room, and go through my life, like SPOK. Be a Vulcan who feels nothing, says nothing, and does nothing, but be a robot who is placid, quiet and in control at all times.

I’m not a robot.

And now I am paying the price for being human. I did not agree with a certain decision, made by someone I loved dearly. I did not say enough to make my point, but kept my counsel to myself. Which has initiated a game of chicken.

Take two sober people. One goes to meetings, works steps, works with others, and does THE WORK. The other, does none of the listed work. I just wrote down. One sober, One a Dry Drunk.

At some point our character defects are going to go head to head. That is where we are right now. Playing chicken with silence.

I hate silence. I think that is the greatest punishment you can heap on another human being. My family did that to me until my father went to his grave in silence. It has taken me more than a year, post death, to finally come around and talk to him, I do that quite often these days.

That is a thing …

The trend of people who walk away, because I have an emotional response to outside stimuli is growing. People cannot cope with their friends being vulnerable. Because for the longest time, the silent understanding in the rooms here is … feel nothing, say nothing, do nothing.

That all changed for me when I hit the hardest emotional bottom in sobriety I had ever hit to date. I had nowhere else to go, but to cope with my emotions, sitting in a meeting, while everybody else just watched me crackle and fall apart. Not one soul said those words to me …

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

I’ve only heard these words spoken by one human, Lorna, God rest her soul. Not everybody who heard her tell that specific story at a round up, heard her.

Sometimes I hate sobriety, because I try to navigate pain the best way I know how. I make it most of the time, but at other times, I am just knuckling it badly.

More to come.

Friday May 3rd 2019

Times are changing. Our Friday location at St. Viateur Church up on the mount, is going through changes within the parish.

We’ve been in the same room, for more than 60 years. The incarnation of the meeting, has changed over time. And for the last 6 years, we rebuilt a meeting that was falling apart, after the last incarnation, and her people had moved on.

What began as 5 people and a coffee pot, morphed over time to a cohort of over 50 folks. We broadened from the back room and few people to a two room meeting, split up to give everybody time and place to share.

A couple of weeks ago, the church told us, that we had to move out of our room, along with all the other meetings, that used the same space, throughout the week.

They offered us a room, in the church proper, and early this past week, myself and a friend, moved all of our supplies from the basement hall to the church hall room. It is half the size of the full room we had been in. The room does not have a kitchen. We do have one bathroom and sink set up to fill the coffee and tea pots. Since we don’t have a kitchen, we went to styrofoam cups and later paper warm cups, so we don’t have to wash cups in a sink in the bathroom.

The hall will happily seat 50 people. I arrived uber early tonight with a couple of fellows and we set up the room, in the same fashion we used to have in the old room. Save, that the group cannot split up into two, sitting everybody in the same room, for the entire hour.

You cannot throw alcoholics into change, because it throws them off kilter. We welcomed everybody, to the room. Our first meeting in the new space was a success. People seem to like the cozy comforts of the room.

The reason we had to move is this … There is a daycare up in the parish building. That room needs renovation. Before they can move downstairs into the basement hall, that room needs to be retrofitted for safety and regulations, as a child care facility, as per the city and province.

You can’t just toss a daycare, into a room, that is not safely set up for that purpose. We all had to move out so they are now retrofitting the room for the kids. The room upstairs is being renovated. Once all the work is done, the kids will either stay downstairs, or move back up.

We have this new room until October. Between now and then, we are negotiating with the parish rector to remain in our original space, because finding another church, IN this neighborhood, is unlikely. We won’t be able to recreate the old dynamic, in another church anywhere in this locale.

There are a couple of choices still. But some feel that if every meeting in the area, utilizes the same space, 7 nights a week, we loose the distinctive feel of the meeting. Because the one church open for business with a rector who is familiar with our work, will rent his space, for very little money, because he knows what we do. He has three meetings now in that space. We all go to those other meetings in his ballroom in the basement.

The dynamic of that room is far different. it is not the room the Friday meeting wants to inhabit, in any case. So we shall see what comes of the renovations and what will happen next fall.

More to come.

Is There A God ?

I don’t know whether you, my readers, believe in God. That’s not for me to know, or concern myself with. What you believe is entirely up to you.

For me, God has been a constant in my life, from my earliest memories. And I followed him religiously for a few years, even ending up in Seminary to follow Him. All for naught !

He has been constant in my life, even when I chose to ignore him. Taking paths, I knew were wrong, making decisions that were also wrong, and almost dying in the process, to feed my own ego and selfishness.

He was there. Just waiting for me to turn my will over.

Tonight, we talked about Step Eleven.

SOUGHT THROUGH PRAYER AND MEDITATION, TO IMPROVE OUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM, PRAYING ONLY FOR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL FOR US AND THE POWER TO CARRY THAT OUT.

Over the last eighteen years, I’ve witnessed countless men and women battle the word God. People from religious backgrounds, Jews, Christians, Muslims, you name it. I’ve seen it, in the rooms.

The shares went around the room, and NOT ONE person, said the word Thank You or uttered the word Gratitude.

When it got to me, I said one sentence.

IF YOU WOKE UP THIS MORNING, THERE IS A GOD …

When I got deathly sick, AND, I was going to surely die, God was the last thought on my mind. I was too consumed with dying, to think about anything else.

Todd, had other plans for me.

He gave me latitude to work it out. He gave me a framework to survive. He taught me lessons, mere mortals on this earth, have ever learned, or will ever learn.

I have mad skills in the area of coping and sobriety, taught directly from the Mind of God. Voiced by Todd.

I will tell you, I met God. I know His voice. He saved my life.

For many weeks and months as I waited for the day to come, that I was supposed to be dead, arrive, then more days came after that, AND I was still alive, Todd – Read God’s words rang true to me.

I turned my will and my life over to Todd, as I understood him, improving my conscious contact and learning what God’s will for me really was.

I did not die.

I am still alive.

What was all this for ?

Mortals don’t know gratitude if it snuck up behind them and bit them in the ass.

We are all going to die one day. Mortals don’t worry about dying, until they know for sure the end is nigh… Then they pray … But not before.

People are too busy to think about Please and Thank you.

I learned long ago to say Thank you.

Old timers, really GOOD old timers tell you that before you roll out of bed, the first words out of your mouth, IF you woke up that morning, are:

THANK YOU.

The second thing you do, AS you roll out of bed, is to hit your knees and pray. The third thing you do, after you pray, is to Make Your Bed.

Right Away.

Not one person said the word thank you, even the old timers sitting in the circle, did not say those words.

I don’t know why I am still alive. And what I am supposed to be doing here. But I pray. I talk to God. The one way conversation people talk about.

The Vertical Conversation.

Then I sit and I wait. And I listen. Meditation.

If the answer does not come directly from God, via intuition, I know I have to go out and seek the answer among my friends.

The Horizontal Conversation.

But my ears must be tuned to hear what ever it is God is going to say to me, and let me tell you, that took a lotta practice and a lotta time too.

If you ask the right question in prayer, and you need to seek the answer out, then you know, you must actively listen to your friends.

ACTIVELY LISTENING is the key.

This is my nightly meditation, to come here and reflect on my day, and write it all down, when necessary. Because I will forget by morning.

If you woke up this morning, There Is A God …

Thankfully, I am not God,
and my navel is not the center of the universe.

Thank God for small mercies.

And Lots of Gratitude.

Sunday April 28 Updates

So much has been happening this past week, so much I wanted to say, but felt that if I opened my mouth, it would not be good. I erred on the side of caution.

Last weekend, Easter, did not go as planned.

And I got sick.

Having two medical issues back to back, sometimes makes life a little difficult. We have to be spot on perfect, when it comes to treatment, when one side of the equation goes south, so applied medication does not counter the drugs I am already taking for the other side of the equation.

It is day 28 …

I developed a rather painful infection in the one location that is ripe for infection at any time, that being my “manly bits.” Too much sugar going out of the body, in urination, causes an imbalance of fluids going out. I am on a stable amount of insulin daily, with a booster shot once a week on Sundays.

The booster shot guarantees my body will make insulin on its own, and works twenty four seven. With the added 34 units of insulin I shoot daily from an inject pen.

Let’ just say that by Easter Sunday I had swollen like a stuffed pig, and the pain was immense. I knew I was in trouble. So I obtained the emergency key and unlocked myself. On Monday I phoned my doctor, who was not in, but he reached me part way through the day. I knew what was wrong, and so I also knew the drug I needed right off. A quick call to the pharmacy, and a fax of the request was sent, on Monday night, I had my fix.

If you think socialized medicine is such a bad thing, think again. In any areas, getting treatment is a wait and see prospect. I have two phone numbers I can call, any time, any day, and find my doctor. If it is an emergency, I get pushed to the head of the line in the office. And I get taken right away.

My doctors are brothers. Which makes things a lot easier. Both know the total situation, and I have a team of specialist who will do whatever it is I need at a phone call, and if I need to see them, like I said, I get right in.

After five days of treatment, my body is back in sync.

It was a regular week last week, meeting wise. We had celebrations on Monday night, of serious sober time. Our Matron of the Monday Meeting gave birth to a baby boy on Monday night. We could not be happier for them.

It has been raining too much, and thousands of homes have been flooded because of rising rivers and snow melt from up north. Rivers that flow downhill have overflowed their banks, in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. Thousands of people have been displaced as of tonight, and the worse, they say will come over the next 48 hours.

Flood rates are higher than they have ever been, and more homes are flooded by multiple FEET not inches. And rivers have yet to crest in many places. Which evacuated people are in the thousands as of tonight.

Homes that were flooded two years ago, are further under water tonight, than they had been back then. The province is talking about shelling out money to move affected residents from the flood plains, but they aren’t offering enough money to make it work. The amount they are offering, $200,000 per house hold, does not hold a stick to multiple hundred thousand dollar homes they are trying to move people from.

It is not a good scene by any stretch.

If you pray … Say a prayer for our people tonight.

I went to The Mission this morning and heard a very bright and intuitive young man speak. He said many good things, I had never heard before and also, his perspective about gratitude for life’s problems. We all have problems, but how many of us find ourselves in the middle of them having either created them, or walked right into them, knowing that was a bad choice to begin with… food for thought.

I went and did some shopping and farted around all afternoon until my evening meeting with my friend. I took a shower and prepped to go out, and today, I locked back up. can’t tell you how good it feels to be back inside.

It frees my mind and my body, because of the word NO.

NO is a Complete Sentence …

I met with my friend today, and we spoke of goals for the future. He has some good ideas. We talked about publishing. Something I have pondered for a long time. I have plenty of material to publish and there are several key demographics I could publish towards as well. So that is tinkering in my brain tonight.

We’ll see where today’s discussion will lead.

I got the third book in Jared Diamond’s Trilogy, beginning with Guns, Germs and Steel, then, Collapse, and now Upheaval. Turning points for Nations in crisis.

Time for bed and a little light reading.

More to come.

Friday Thoughts – End of Day

I am re-evaluating what I want. It has been a tough week, but in the end, it all came together. Two nights spent with the people I love, always does the trick, even if my head is in my ass.

Commitments were made and Along the week, I’ve come to a number of decisions that I think will turn out well, as time progresses. I quit one habit, and on Sunday, I quit the other bad habit. And I should be good to go, to put the next round of decisions into action.

Many of my friends have taken up running. A LOT of running. Over the past few months, I’ve watched my friends hit new highs in their lives, and do things they never thought possible before, just by lacing up a pair of sneakers and hitting the neighborhood streets.

Completion of Marathons have been the task du jour.

I have, in my bank, new routines to follow. An old timer I know very well, has been good to me as of late. When I need to pick his brain, about anything, he always obliges.

This afternoon I had a conversation with a local friend who is running a half marathon the end of April. And we got to talking about a race in October that we both might run together. After inquiring about training with him, he was not sure he was the right fit for me, knowing his own strengths and weaknesses as a teacher.

But my old timer friend came up in conversation, because he is associated with our Running Room, here in Montreal. Tonight, I saw him at the Friday night meeting and we spoke about a plan.

Firstly he said this … One, you are over fifty. Two, he said that we both carry about 170 pounds a piece. And Three, he said that over taking myself in trying to complete a distance that is, at the moment, out of my league, would be unwise. So we set up a plan of attack, with simple goals to reach over the next month. Then we will regroup and see where I fall on the running scale.

I’ve got a good six months to train up.

One of my friends worked steadily at distance, over a long period of time. He ran a marathon and ran a personal best and got a medal for it. My other friend Jack. walked out his front door and trained for two weeks. TWO WEEKS, having never run before in his life, and completed the Stadium to Sea run in Los Angeles last week, with a 3 hour time.

But they are much younger than I am and in a lot better shape.

Being HIV Positive and a Type 2 Diabetic has its challenges. Being over fifty is my big downfall. I’m no spring chicken and I have to approach any goal and temper that goal by my present disabilities and hopeful abilities to win.

I have a plan. Sunday I put it into action, after I cross off another bad habit and directly affects me lung capacity. Smoking !!!

Take away touching ones self, and point positive sexual energy in another direction is very useful. It focuses you unlike any other focal method. It makes you a better fighter, a better runner, and a better human being.

I’ve learned over the last little while that when I think I know what’s good for me, that usually turns out to be bad advice, because if I act on my own will, it usually turns out anti climactic.

I should never take my own advice ever. Because I loose on every front.

I got a couple of new books in the mail today. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and If On A Winters Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. Both books came highly recommended by my writing teacher. He reads like I do, like a mad man. He also works in publishing, and is an author himself.

Usually what he reads, ends up on my read side table by my bedside.

So the week, five days, on self denial has passed. I am more the better for it. I don’t allow myself to take my own advice. Even if I want to.

Tonight we talked about the Sacred Circle, and what we can find within it, and when necessary, if needed, to go outside the sacred circle for help, that’s what we do. We are not doctors nor economists, nor marriage counselors.

If you need help that the rooms can not provide, Bill tells us that “If he was humble enough to seek outside help when necessary, and it was good for him, it might just be good for ourselves too.”

I have great friends who will go the distance with me. I have the best friends, and I am grateful for each and every one of them.

Thanks for reading. More to come.

Happy Weekend.