Thursday – August 30, 2018

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I haven’t written in a long while. Not that I did not have content to talk about. But life, as it has happened over the last little while, has not been easy.

I’ve not been feeling myself, for the last little while. I need medical attention, that we cannot afford at the moment. And as of 2 days ago, that need became seriously magnified.

Over the past couple of months, my husbands office, has gone through serious changes, and to that effect, by Monday afternoon, all the furniture in the office had been liquidated, and sold off. All the employees have been working from home, which has turned the office into no-mans land. Several employees quit, and on Monday night, hubby came home and was sullen and depressed.

Before dinner, he turned to me and said the following …

“They’ve sold off all of the furniture and computers. The refrigerator had been emptied and turned upside down, over the tub, in the bathroom, to defrost it. All the employees have vacated the premises.

By the close of business Monday evening, hubby was the last man standing in an empty office. The only furniture left, in the place, was his desk and his computer. He then told me that Tuesday, would be his last day at a job, he has excelled in over the past four years.”

On Tuesday morning, I was up before dawn, watching cruise ships sail into Nassau harbor, via web cams on my desktop. One, I could not sleep, and two, I had to be up to make sure hubby was alright and mentally prepared for the day as it was to transpire.

Sleeping in, and leaving him alone with his thoughts was not what I wanted for him.

We knew going into Tuesday that a severance package was in the works. As the last man standing, he was offered a healthy severance package upon departure. In the end, he was retained on a part-time, freelance option.

The office has been closed. And the other employees, that were let go, will be afforded a flex space in Old Montreal, for important face to face meetings, with the company owners.

For all intents and purposes, the company has folded major operations, and only a few employees remain. Hubby will work from home, on a part-time, 20 hour work week, making good money for the hours he is billing the company to remain, partially employed.

We will lose our much-needed insurance, that pays for our medications. Which prompted an emergency call to our pharmacy, and we ordered three months of medication to be provided in one drop, because the insurance is going to lapse, and while it is still in place, hubby decided that we should fill as much medication as needed, hoping that he lands in a new position, in that three-month period of time.

Meanwhile on Stream B, hubby had applied at another media firm, that he had researched and sent his updated cv and coordinates. He is able to see, in real-time, how many people have looked at his papers, and their movement up the chain of command.

I am told that this company may take its time in responding to a job inquiry, so he is in a holding pattern, for a second job, while working part-time to keep the money flowing from stream A.

His intention, from the very beginning, was to figure out all these problems by himself and not bother me into worrying about the job, the money and the loss of insurance, hoping that he would have heard from Stream B by now, but that did not happen, as he planned it. In the end, he spilled the beans in an emotional flush of words.

What was I supposed to do now ? All I could do was listen to him talk, and to be present in that moment. Once again, as I look back over the past week, and for the last portion of our lives, Someone Much Greater than we are, is watching us.

And every so often, that Power Greater than ourselves, sends us a sign. A physical sign that we are not alone. The last sign we got, was at the end of the trip to Hamilton in May. That trip was a shit show, but when we got home, a concrete sign was sent to us.

I know that we are not alone right now, for sure.

And at dinner tonight, I spoke these words to hubby. Reminding him that he was not alone, that I was here, and that someone is keeping an eye out for us.

On Stream C, all my kids returned from summer vacations, as school begins the next week for them. We have been welcoming them back a few at a time, over the last little while. The last remaining folks return tomorrow, Friday …

We are all reconnecting. For a handful of graduates who have moved on, they are all relocated in jobs scattered all over Canada and the U.S. Everybody is still sober and that is a good sign, going into the Fall.

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

Yesterday around 3 p.m. I was sitting at my desk, and in moments, the sun disappeared from the sky, and it got very dark, very quickly. Environment Canada sent out an emergency storm warning across the web and via text.

As it was dark outside, I stood at the windows and watched the rain move from East to West, across the sky. A rush of wind blew, and the demolition site, just up the block, where they are tearing down the former Children’s Hospital, the wind was blowing so hard that the mounds of dust and debris from the site, began to fly into the air in a flurry of motion.

The rain began to fall, earnestly. Had I not been watching the progress as it happened, I would have missed it. A few hundred yards from the building, I saw a rain cloud open and drop a burst of rain, falling so hard and so fast, that it obscured the sight-line of the buildings and land beneath it. I’d never seen so much rain fall in one concentrated spot like that before. It lasted all of twenty minutes.

Then it was over.

When all was said and done, over 100,000 Montrealer’s from on the island to off island were without power. Many trees were felled. Many roofs were knocked off their buildings, cars were destroyed by falling trees onto cars.

A man on a construction site, here in the city, was injured as he was hit in the face by a two by four, from debris flying through the sky, in his direction.

Off island, several barns were destroyed, including several houses. There was widespread destruction all over the place, from a storm that hit and only lasted mere minutes.

We know today that a type two tornado had dropped from the storm and severe destruction happened.

This was the second Micro-burst storm to hit this city. The last one to hit, had hit the city, West of downtown, in a section of town called NDG. In that storm, it dropped serious rain, and the micro burst destroyed a park full of century old trees. Snapping them into pieces like match sticks.

As it stands, the city is trying to decide what to plant in their place to repopulate the park with trees.

Right now, I am trying to remain calm, and not lose my mind, with the thought that these problems won’t go away very quickly. All we can go is just cope the best way we can, and not get stupid mental over the fact that shit happened in the last week, which we are totally powerless over.

Sometimes God needs to shake the tree because growth is needed, in one area or another. We may not like the tress shaking or the uncertainty of life, but I also know that someone, something greater than we are, has our backs.

At least I can trust God, as I understand Him.

I cannot afford to lose my cookies at the moment.

A Year Later

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My birthday was the 31st of July. The morning of my birthday, when I got up and out of bed, I was still alive. I saw my doctor a couple of days before my birthday, and once again, I thanked him for keeping me alive another year.

This incarnation of my blog reached it’s First Anniversary. Thanks to cowards and their dishonesty. People would rather eat dirt, than be honest.

Without my doctor, where would I be right now ? I Don’t Know …

The people that mattered, celebrated my birthday, each in their own special ways.

A week has passed.

This is what I know right now.

I really do not care if people like me or not. I really don’t care what people think about me, what I wear in public, or how they perceive me.

I know who my friends are. And right now, I know, for sure, that most people, do not care for my brand of sobriety or lifestyle.

I’ve learned how to be Honest. I’ve learned how to be Vulnerable in public. I’ve seen how other people react to my honesty. They don’t like it at all. And would rather eat dirt, than to say anything directly to me. And that’s ok with me.

I don’t need validation from anyone but God. I also know, that if I need to hear God, I know where to go to hear His voice.

The other day, we talked about Acceptance. Page 417, in the Big Book. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems. That’s what the book says.

I know, from years of listening to people SPOUT the wisdom of Acceptance, that some think that Acceptance, says that I have to accept people who use the Looser Line that says: Well that’s just who I am.

They use Acceptance like a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

It allows alcoholics who don’t care about personal growth or empathy for others, to just sit in the place of being an ASSHOLE.

There are so many assholes out there right now, it is astonishing.

All I want out of this life, is to be Honest. To know how to do the Right Thing, even if it goes against every bone in my body. I work very hard to be a good human being to everyone. Even when much of the people I see, DON’T.

They don’t care about anyone but themselves. People are so consumed with the clothing I wear, and sit in judgment so deep, that it makes me sick.

One of my friends hit a First tonight.

He mentioned Brene Brown. He too, has listened to every one of her talks, and read several of her books, like I have over the past two years. He did it in just a few months.

But he spoke language I Understood and Identified with.

I don’t trust a whole lot of people, that I cannot throw very far. And that’s ok with me. I might not be connected to certain people, like some of my friends are, but if I have to compromise my standards and values, for someone in particular, to want to work with me, I’d rather go it alone.

Because the choices in Men of Sober, Good Standards, LONG Sober, are very few and far between. I know who to talk to. And I know who to avoid.

I’ve lived another year of experiences. Some of those experiences were good, some were not. People don’t have to like me. And I have grown to accept that.

I’m a strange Gay Man of fifty-one years, twenty-five years living with AIDS. And almost seventeen years sobriety. No one has the same life qualifications and identifications.

Once again, I know who my friends are.

And for the moment, that will have to suffice, until conditions change on the ground.

I do what needs to be done. I serve my community. I help my friends. I am kind.

I know my values and my morals. I may not always know the right thing, but like my friend tonight, I trust the little voice in my head more today, than I have in the past.

If it Doesn’t Feel Right, then Don’t Do It.

Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

Help Will Always Come

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Staying the course, and always doing the next right thing, is good sound advice.

When the chatter in my head is running at fever pitch, and my emotions seem to rule every decision or thought at times, I know that I need to stop and take a break.

Read: I need to STOP and Pray !!!

Funny how things fall into my lap, when I most need them. Or, little signs from somewhere outside of myself, seem to appear, in front of me, at the oddest moments.

I have told the story about my I-Phones tendency to shuffle me a speaker, one speaker in particular, when I really need a talking to. It seems to know me better than I know myself at times, which begs the question … Are Our I-Phones sentient ???

Thursday night, after the meeting I was really emotional and I realized that I was not done mourning the passing of my father. Because of a comment made about him, amid a conversation with a friend, at the earlier meeting.

We were talking about care giving and being a care giver for family and significant others and how tasking that is on everyone involved. A few days prior to this chat, the National News carried a story about just this topic, and how the province of Quebec is going to step up and help care givers of patients and family in assisted living facilities.

I told him the story about my father, when I was in eighth grade, how, when his mother had a very serious stroke, and in a VERY LUCID moment, outside of his alcoholism, he thought that IF he took ME to Connecticut to see her, he believed, from somewhere deep within him, that if she looked at me and recognized me, that she would in essence,
WAKE UP!

What we did not know about serious stroke paralysis was apparent.

Who knew from the now famous “Stroke Treatment” delivered within a very short time from falling into stroke, can avert serious paralysis. That drug did not exist in the early 80’s.

We took a night flight out and arrived late that evening in Connecticut. My uncle picked us up and took us to his house. The next morning we ate breakfast and they drove me to The New Britain General Hospital.

I was not prepared at all for what was coming.

We got to Grammy’s room, and she was laid out, drooling spittle, half her face was in her lap, and the entire right side of her body was paralyzed. I took one look at her, and I fainted. My head hit the tile floor and I ended up in the emergency room that morning.

She indeed, did NOT wake up. However, she knew who I was. I could not rouse her from her lethargy. I sat on her bed for a few weeks time, to no avail.

In the end, a few weeks later, I returned home defeated. My father was crushed.

It is my belief that he held that little trip against me and never forgave me for not being able to do the job, HE BELIEVED, I needed to do for him. His alcoholism cranked up to 200%. And the abuse ratcheted up 200% as well. Whenever he drank, it was me he came after.

Which is why, as time went on, I found other houses to stay in, so I did not have to be at home. I spent an inordinate amount of time sleeping at successive friends houses over the ensuing years, just to get away from my father.

A functional abusive alcoholic can have lucid moments of brilliance and compassion and thought. Interspersed with the drinking came incredible kindnesses. My father paid dearly, in “Things” to assuage my pain that he himself caused me.

When my friend mentioned to me the other night that “My father KNEW that  my grandmother loved me more than any other, i.e. my brother, it was me he took on this trip because “we” (my grandmother and I are spiritually connected).

When I got very sick, it was Grammy who visited me and stayed with me, when everyone else fled the scene. It took a psychic to tell me this, because she would come into my apartment and my bedroom door was always closed, (at that point) at which time she would move pictures on the walls, and scatter magazines all over the floor, until I invited my friend to come over and tell me what was going on …

In his words to my ears: He told me Grammy was standing in my living room, and had been there for a long time, looking after me, and she could not quite figure out how to get through the door, (after which time, I never slept with another bed room door closed, to this very day). She still visits me on occasion here !!!

That comment unnerved me to the degree that I came home an emotional mess and when I got home, I sat down and wrote it all out and did my Step 4 at the same time.

I went to bed Thursday night, not so myself.

Friday, I left for the meeting as usual. I got to the church, and unlocked, and began my set up routine. I was still, not in the right frame of mind. I grabbed the coffee pot, from the cabinet and lo and behold, a single sheet of paper fell to the floor at my feet, from the stack of papers we have to one side of the cabinet.

I picked it up, as it fell face down, on the floor, and took a look at the newspaper clipping. It was a newspaper clipping telling the story of the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset, Vermont.

The house is NOT on any map. You would have to know, before hand, where you were going in order to get there, because there aren’t any signs along the way saying …

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THIS WAY TO BILL’S HOUSE !!! This is the actual house as it is.

Anyways, I read the article and thought to myself, wow, I had never seen this article in the cabinet before, so there has to be a reason it fell out, onto the floor, at just the most opportune moment.

Which hearkened me back three years to the weekend that my then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and I, were on our way to a men’s intensive at Mad River Barn, not far from East Dorset that very weekend.

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And ON THE WAY … We visited Bill’s house where he was born. We also visited Bill and Lois’ grave, just up the road in a very small and non-nondescript cemetery. If you did not know the cemetery was there, you’d not know to go there and pay your respects to the Founder and his wife.

Coming back to the present moment, I was in my head, clearly not myself, standing there alone in a church basement, with this piece of paper in my hand, and the very clear and resonant memory in the front of my brain.

Another of life’s synchronicity.

These little spiritually ignited occurrences happen often to me. And when I most need them, HP does the trick and sends me a sign from above, to remind me, that I am well cared for, and there is always someone up there, looking out for me.

The weekend was a success. It has been Hotter than Hell in Montreal since last Friday, and the heat wave will continue through Thursday night, later this week.

It has been UNBEARABLE !!!

I am chairing this month at the Monday meeting, and we read from the Big Book. Before the meeting I was sitting outside the hall, thumbing through my Big Book, looking for a suitable passage to share with the group. And I happened upon the story:

Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three … Pioneer of Akron’s Group No. 1 The first A.A. group in the world …

And I came to the end of the story where he is having breakfast with Bill and his wife Henrietta, and Bill says to her:

“Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”

This one sentence is A.A. Gold…

The reading, in the end, speaks about an Absolute State of Grace and Gratitude.

Which brings me this realization as I am sitting here typing these words that:

If you don’t have a topic for a meeting, the default is ALWAYS

GRATITUDE !!!

We’ve come full circle now.

Sitting on Step Work

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A very long time ago, when I got sober, this time around, I took every piece of advice I was given as Gospel. I never questioned anyone about their wisdom, or what they knew. If they were sober longer than I was, then everything that came out of their mouths was Gospel. Back in the day, it was very different, than how it is today.

I’m not sure if it is all about me, or all about them ?

I heard a friend of mine speak tonight, and I’ve been in a holding pattern for two years, waiting for God to show me, who I am supposed to speak to next. After the meeting I spoke to that friend, and told him some things about my observations.

I’m sitting on my fourth step. And it’s about to blow.

Like I said, a long time ago, I heard one piece of advice when it came to steps …

“When you write out your fourth Step, get rid of it promptly. Do Not Sit On It for very long, because the written word is like TNT. If you allow it to gather in your brain, and fester for too long, prior to doing your fifth step, disaster is coming … SOON !!!”

I took the day to sit and pray. To Sit and Listen to an Old Timer, I met in person, here in Montreal. One of two alcoholics, who presented sobriety from someplace else, to us here.

One was a woman, who was sober more than thirty-five years upon her death in 2016. The other is a long sober man, who changed my life, with one piece of advice. For these two specific people, I have their shares on my phone. And in my I – Tunes.

A while back, and I wrote about this then, that I have been going through serious heartbreak, and it has been a very emotional journey over the last two years. I was in the mall, grocery shopping one afternoon, listening to music, as I am wont to do.

Funny that my I – Phone, when it is on shuffle, does strange things that I cannot explain, because since the day I put music and shares on my phone, not once, did that shuffle bring me a speaker in the music rotation shuffle program. It never shuffled there before.

All of a sudden, like a voice from heaven, it shuffled me Lorna. It not only did it once, it kept repeating this action, five times over two weeks. I thought it funny, but I stayed on and listened to her talk to me, as if there was something I needed to hear. During this time, I needed spiritual help, that wasn’t coming from my own personal community, and hasn’t yet …

Today, as I ate lunch, I went to a virtual meeting, with Lorna speaking.

The thing that popped out today was this thought …

It’s not the newcomer that we should worry about. It is the person with TIME, real-time, that they need to be looked after. This thought rings true today. My patience for old timers runs short, because of the way I am treated in community by a good number of folks with serious time. The other, is the rate of old timers going down the proverbial rabbit hole themselves. I’ve written about this before.

Tonight I told my friend that I’ve been doing the next right thing, because that’s what I was taught to do from the very beginning. They told me service will keep you sober, that if you have anything on your heart or mind, then, bring it to a meeting.

Without the counsel of a sponsor with merit or anyone for that matter, I’ve been relying on my close circle of friends to keep me “On the beam.” I go to meetings, because I have responsibilities to those meetings, by way of service commitments.

I know, that if I don’t know, then I need to go to a meeting and do service. Because that’s all I know how to do, because it works. I suit up and I show up. I offer kind words to my friends, I offer advice where I think it might stick. Often it does not stick, because people look at me and smile that smile of … Thanks but no thanks …

I know today, that one particular young woman, from our Monday meeting is still sober because I gave her one piece of advice when she was in difficulty, and it stuck, and she is still sober to this day, despite herself.

I’m not sure what to do with heartache that won’t be soothed. I don’t know what to do with the fact that people I need to speak with, don’t want to speak with me. I’ve heard it said recently that

“Sometimes God breaks our heart to save our souls.”

That resonated with me sooo much. There are facts about my life that I cannot change. Perceptions that people have about me based on who I used to be, and decisions I made about my life

“Life preservation decisions, that I thought were tantamount to my physical, mental, and spiritual survival.”

That’s how someone showed me that making life preservation decisions are not ego driven, nor wrong, nor self-centered.

Some people have me stuck in the past, and have had me stuck in the past for the whole of my life. They blame me for all of THEIR problems, never wanting to hear my side of the story, that would explain WHY I made the decisions I did, and whom forced me to make those decisions because I felt I was trapped in a life and a title and a family name that was doing me no favors, when those people constantly parroted the words:

YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN, YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS AND IT IS ALL YOUR FAULT. AND WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE ALREADY, FOR GOD’S SAKE … GOD HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE ISSUES.

This litany of vitriol made me sick inside. It made me feel less than and unimportant. I may not have been SO sober the first time around, but the first of two life preservation decisions were made. The second followed the second time I got sober. Admittedly, I was much more sober the second time around when I made that decision, than when I made the first. Chalk that up to more experience and hindsight.

I have never felt so much anger, resentment, hatred, and fear, and also on the flip side, so much happiness, compassion and joy,  I have felt in sobriety.

Lorna said that and it resonates with me so much. Because when she rotated into my shuffle, I needed to hear those exact words when they came at me when they did and the right moment for the right reason.

Whispers from heaven indeed.

I’m resentful at other gay men in the rooms, who have no use for me. Men who belittle me and slander me behind my back and talk shit in my face, calling me names and judging me in front of others.

I am from a generation of gay men, whom my contemporaries have no idea OF or use FOR. AIDS distinctly puts me in a class by myself because I am the ONLY AIDS survivor from that time period STILL ALIVE today in this city, on the English side.

I am resentful at old timers who spurned me and humiliated me in front of others, then castigated me for having emotions and openly sharing them in open community, when I lost emotional control over the Pulse Nightclub shooting, that turned my emotional world upside down. Too concerned about what I am wearing on the outside, instead of what is going on inside my head and in my heart. A little fucked up if you ask me.

Instead of anyone, even the gay men I know, who DID NOT SAY those words of everlasting life:

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

Not in over two years now, has ANYONE. not one of my friends here, shared those words with me to assuage my intense emotional being inside, and that breaks my heart into pieces. I don’t understand people. They are self-absorbed and self-centered. They don’t really care about me, as I have seen from many people.

They will smile that “thanks but no thanks smile” when they walk in a room, but beyond that one pleasantry because we sit in the same room together for that hour, they have no use for me and want nothing from me, nor offer me anything of substance beyond their criticism.

I AM A STRONG PERSON, BUT SOMETIMES I REALLY NEED SOMEONE TO TAKE MY HAND AND SAY TO ME THAT EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT !!!!

Why is that so hard for some people to even consider, seeing how much many of us suffer in silence in the rooms, and even when we say that out loud, nobody steps up and says anything of substance to us.

I mean why are you even sitting in a room acting like you are sober, when clearly you are not. And you are just taking up space, where someone who really wants it, waits in the wings for that seat you are occupying, while doing nothing to better yourself !

For God’s sake, I am trying my damnedest to be the best man I can be, by studying my friends like lab rats. Because if you do sobriety like I do, then everybody who sits in a room and or stands and speaks is fair game.

I’ve watched a multitude of people get sober over almost seventeen years and I know mostly everything about them based on every word they have spoken in my presence over the years. I know every choice they made, every decision they made, every bad choice, every good choice, every success and every failure too.

I know what works and what does not work, and all of that is sitting in my sober bank ready for optimal use at any given moment.

THAT IS HOW I GOT SOBER AND THAT IS HOW I STAY SOBER.

By watching my friends either FUCK UP or SUCCEED.

 

There comes a point in sobriety when warming a chair is no longer an option, you either have to SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT !!!

There will also come a time when “Coming and Going,” Looses its appeal and dies. You either come in, sit down and stay, or you go back out and never come back. As was warned by a speaker last week from the chair.

I don’t know what I am doing, but the Next Right Thing has served me well.

Frustrated …

 

I Never Want …

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In keeping with the theme of BRAVING …

I never want to reach a point, where I become bored, where I am not connected, where I feel useless, and a drink seems like a good idea.

Any day, can be a day, where a drink seems like a good idea.

The purpose of sobriety is to find that which is Greater than ourselves, from Outside of ourselves, the key that will sustain us, to Stay Stopped, one day at a time.

People come, and People go. Some stay, many do not.

At some point, we realize that being just a visitor in a meeting, only lasts for so long. At some point, you get to make a choice, to either do something, or you don’t.

I know what this means. And I’ve said it before.

We welcome people from around the globe. We see our friends, often. And for the newcomer, I am patient. I know what it is like to walk into a strange room, and not know what to do. Where do I fit in, how will I ever find the path, friends, sobriety ???

One day at a time.

I have watched the chair dance for years and years. That is why chairs are set up, in the way they are, like a well planned game. Where one sits, in any given room, tells some of us, how integrated into the meeting you are.

People who attend often, sit in the same seats, week in and week out. There are always seats, set, against the back wall. With rows and rows of seats to choose from, I know that most people won’t sit up front, automatically. They hang back, in the pack, and many people, who sit “on the bubble” populate the row against the back wall.

Yes, that may be the case. But other folks sit in the back row, due to the time of arrival to any specific meeting. Which is why they tell us twenty minutes before and twenty minutes after.

The only way to work your way into a meeting, is to work your way into a meeting.

Reading the book, will come, in time. But it is suggested by good people, that the sooner that you join us, find a job, find a sponsor, read the book, and work your steps, then, and for some, they finally find themselves connected, useful, and happiness comes.

A friend of mine, who has considerable time, said to me tonight, that after all his years in, he finally figured out what Higher Power meant for him. Finding that which is greater than yourself, from a location, outside of ourselves, takes time.

Sometimes it takes a LONG TIME …

But you know, however hard one finds the suggestion … Prayer does work.

Hearing continual stories about how hard some people fight even the thought that prayer is something we should do often, only solidifies the idea that Prayer Does Work.

My friends often tell me how their brains work. Some, often find, that the obsession of
“A drink seeming like a good idea” still persists.

I know, from hearing this from folks, in the middle of the stream, connected, and seeming happy, that when they found the thought of prayer, not such a bad idea, once they begin praying, that obsession of

“A drink seeming like a good idea,” does go away.

The book is written to tell us what our problem is, who we are, and why we are here. It gives us the plan for living, and offers us a spiritual solution that HAS WORKED for millions of people.

I’ve heard what happens, when one comes in, arrogant and shut down, and feels like they just don’t connect, to anyone, or anything, thinking that they will never be happy

SOBER …

Wait for it …

Don’t leave until the miracle happens for you.

A very long time ago, a woman in the rehab connected to the very first meeting I walked into over twenty-five years ago, said that to me …

Stick around until the miracle happens.

Had the people around me, in those meetings, had not bet on my demise, then, others told me to leave and not come back, had someone offered me a way INTO the book and sobriety, like my friends did when I came back the second time,

I would have stuck around, and never left.

But my path was what it became.

Continual attempts at sobriety, coming and going, only lasts so long. One too many passes into a room, then back out of said room, the chances of sticking and staying, grow slim.

Some people get more than one kick at the can. Some of those who kicked the can, more than once, GET IT. And they sit down and they stay.

Sadly, numbers are not what they used to be.

We know tonight, what happens when being a visitor in a meeting, dies …

The thought that, “A drink sounds like a good idea” takes hold, the obsession returns, and we take our chances, back in the world, that really is not a place, for some, who drank like I did, or like many have, themselves.

If you come to a room, jump in with both feet, and get WET.

You will find your way, I promise you that. The Book Promises that as well.

If only folks took the time to read the book, which is why people like me exist, in the rooms, to read said book with you.

Reading is fundamental.

It was good that when I came back, over the first four months of my sobriety, I was unable to read a book myself, outside of Harry Potter.

So I went to meetings every day, where someone else, read the book TO ME, reading it for everyone, that was sitting in that particular meeting.

I heard the book read. And it stuck for me, because I had no place else to go.

Which is why I am still reading the book, to this very day.

Because, THERE IS A SOLUTION.

The idea that “A drink seems like a good idea” has gone.

Because I do the work required to never get to the point in sobriety that:

A DRINK SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA ….

The Front of The Book

Sober Concept Wooden Letterpress Type

I’ve said this a few days ago, about myself, and tonight, I can safely say, that the thought rings true for many of my friends.

“We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know what it is that we did not know then, that we know now …”

You don’t hear the same information from people who have significant time, but you do hear significant information from men and women who are DEEP IN THE BOOK, in ways that their contemporaries are not.

I am sitting with a young woman who is taking me through the book, through her eyes and experience. Tonight, I heard a friend of mine, a woman, whom I witnessed get sober, from her very first day, say something that I had never heard before.

It seemed that many people in the room, sat up a little straighter and grabbed their pens and highlighters to mark what she was talking about.

We read tonight from Page 34 … A brief summary in a few sentences:

As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power… Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic…For those who are unable to drink moderately the question IS HOW to STOP altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to STOP…This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – the utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or wish.

My friend spoke about pages earlier in the front of the book, pages 20 and 21.

The earlier pages of There is a solution, asks several questions, and the hope is that through the power of example the one who reads with us, with ample experience in the book can ask the reader … Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ???

If you have identified with anything in the book, as to the stories and examples the first 100 sober men and women are telling us that, for the reader, there Is a Solution.

The question becomes How to STOP altogether ?

The book then says that a Spiritual Solution is required. And if you are like many of my friends, in the rooms right now, God is a dirty word. But in We Agnostics, the entire chapter speaks to us about finding A POWER Greater than Ourselves.

Whatever is going to help us get and stay sober, one serious psychic and spiritual change must take place. Whatever it is, has got to be something greater than ourselves, and has to come from somewhere OUTSIDE of ourselves. Because we alcoholics know, that left to our own devices, and our own wills, we could not stop on our own, no matter how great the necessity or wish.

An Alcoholic will always find the wiggle room …

The Brilliance of The Big Book is this … And I can speak to this because I know it is true.

Listening to Joe and Charlie tapes for years and years, we know how the book is written. Each chapter is headed with a topic. And each page is written with explicit detail. Each page follows into the next. On each page, each paragraph is written with care.

You can take a chapter, and boil it down to that chapter title. You can turn to any page, and ideas appear on each page. Paragraph follows each paragraph. And within each paragraph are sentences that can be further distilled into single thoughts.

Chapter –> Page -> Paragraph -> Sentence -> Word …

There is rhyme and reason to the way the first hundred men and women composed this book. It is brilliant. Bill did not take this on himself. Which is why each edition of The Big Book is prefaced with the story about the First 100 who successfully got and remained sober till their deaths later on.

There are meetings in Texas that I know of, that they read the Big Book, sometimes One paragraph at a time, One sentence at a time, and even better, One word at a time.

They pick a paragraph, or a sentence, or even a word and they meditate on it, then they all talk about it. I know this because some of my friends who travel for business attended meetings in Texas and had this particular experience with other sober men and women.

On my slip, as I made a slow return to the rooms, I arrived back in Miami. But I was not going to walk into rooms where I had been summarily dismissed and asked to leave and not return. I stayed away, and relocated onto Miami Beach. It was July 2000.

I was off the drugs, because I had left them where they were, more than 1000 miles away. But alcohol was still in play. I had part-time work, that I could not do drunk or hung over, working with computer lights in a nightclub, so I did not drink.

On 9-11 tragedy struck and Miami Beach went DRY for two weeks. All the bars closed, all the liquor stores shuttered. There were no parties, no clubs, no nightlife for two weeks.

On the 14th day out, bar owners thought it wise to raise money for New York City. And the easiest way to get money in the door, was to bargain with the drinkers.

They wanted our donations for New York. And the way they did that was to offer free alcohol based on the amount we donated on each pass at the particular bar location.

We paid dearly for every sacred drop of alcohol that we drank for months after, saying to ourselves, that we were doing something good for New Yorker’s.

The beach drank every drop of alcohol from a radius of 50 miles in every direction.

Mischief Managed …

I wasn’t done drinking. I had not even pondered a return to the rooms, until I was good and ready. When the night came that I uttered that specific prayer to God to bring me an alcoholic, I sat and I waited.

And as God as my witness … A few days later, Troy walked into my place of business to interview for a job. His first words to me were: “I did not drink today…”

I smiled and said how good for you. And left it at that.

I hired him on the spot.

Over the next thirty days, He would come into the shop and preface anything he said or did with the same phrase … “I did not drink today…”

On the thirtieth day, we were together on a furniture run, and I broke my anonymity to him, saying I was on my way back, which he replied without a skip in the conversation that I could come to see him take his first year cake a couple of days later.

That would have been December 9th 2001.

I have not had a drink since.

There is a God, and I am not He.

You might not think God capable of moving heaven and earth for us, but I can safely say that over twenty-six years now, I am still alive, I survived, I am sober a few 24 hours, and that God does move heaven and earth, because He did for me.

And I can safely tell you all this with certitude.