Short Changed …

Do you ever feel shortchanged in life ? Like one is not getting the whole story, or ALL of the TRUTH available ? Do you ever feel like the people you surround yourself with, or had surrounded yourself with were not being completely forthright with you ? Like they had the market on full disclosure and that you were not worthy of that full disclosure ?

Being Gay in a very Straight sober world has its PERKS, but it also has its drawbacks. I’ve been pondering this same truth about myself recently.

I sat with my sponsor the other day, and I shared with him my observations of people in our rooms here. Everything I said to him, about what has been my experience over the last eighteen years, he agreed with me. Because he has seen the same things with his own eyes.

A couple months ago, I changed up my game, and began attending a stand alone, closed men’s meeting, with a handful of men, I know well, and they know me well, because we attend other meetings together, and have been for a very long time.

One of those men, my new sponsor, I really enjoy sitting with him, because every time we sit together he tells me stories about his life. Usually, I leave home on a Wednesday night, uber early, so that I arrive at the hall, early, because I know my sponsor is going to be there. Which is where we began talking a couple of months ago. Talking more that we had been talking because of the spare time we have alone together to chat about life.

I used to hang around a group of long sober men, who, in reality, were not very sober, themselves. I used to go to Vermont with these men for step retreats. Being the only queer man in the sessions, nobody really engaged me honestly, and none of them desired to break bread with me either.

If you cannot break bread with me, I have no use for you.

For all those years, and even before, all my straight sponsors, save, just one, David, never gave me the full truth about alcoholism and The WORK. My step work was always cut short, incomplete.

Last year, when I sat with Noah, I chose to work with him, because I liked what he had to say, every time I heard him speak in a meeting. He knew what he was talking about, every time, with a conviction that was attractive to me. So I asked him to read me through The Book and The WORK.

I knew his sponsor, and he IS a no nonsense human being, who tells it like it is, every time, without fail. I loved that about him. So I knew Noah, got the very same truth, he would tell everybody else.

It was the first time, in all of my years sober, that someone told me the truth, and worked me through a full set of The WORK. He made me think, he asked me hard questions, and pushed me to grow up.

You can learn from many people in the rooms, no matter how long they are sober, if you listen well to them share, and you know just who they, themselves are working with.

I heard a lady share tonight, that “Sobriety, is cumulative. It is not just one thing that you do that makes the difference, it is all its constituent parts that make up the whole experience.”

She is right.

I read, A Lot. I pray as well. I read spiritual literature. I read The Book, and I work with others. I go to meetings, I do service. I do everything that was taught to me since the day I walked into my first home group here in Montreal. And I’ve been able to carry forwards that ritual work for all my years in sobriety. I still do the same thing I did eighteen years ago.

I make COFFEE !

I make coffee because I can get there as early as I want. Usually a hour or two prior to the first human being arriving. Because I know that if I build in that time, I usually get to have a one on one conversation with the first person who arrives as we drink our first cups of freshly perked coffee.

I got to have one of those conversations tonight, and it was fruitful.

The men I know, in the men’s meeting, tell me the truth. They are honest with me, because I try to be honest myself. I learn how to be sober, by doing what good sober people do. Good sober men are few.

There is a difference.

I know what I know today. And I know what I want for my sobriety now. Having thought about it over the past week or so. I’m tired of being short changed by men who think they are sober, but won’t tell the truth or give me all the facts, or give me true sober work.

I know what’s in the book. I’ve read it several times over. I’ve changed up my game enough to give me access to new men and women. Most importantly, the men at that men’s meeting on Wednesday.

If you feel like your sobriety has been short changed, there is a solution.

You just gotta do the footwork and find a meeting where there are long sober men and women who will tell you the truth.

I’ve been GAY a very long time. And I know most uber straight men don’t want anything to do with me, and I know that, by what they do, and what they don’t do, in front of me. If you have to overcompensate, and constantly piss in front of me and tell me how big your dick is, I don’t have any use for you.

My sponsor agreed with me on this the other day.

Even my Gay brothers in the rooms want nothing to do with me. Is it my backstory or that I am not a gay like them? I will never grow up to be a fumpy old gay man. I don’t dress like them, I don’t act like them, and i sure as shit don’t want whatever it is they have.

I sat in a room with all of them for fourteen months reading the Big Book, during the hardest emotional bottom I’ve ever experienced in sobriety yet. And in all that time, not one gay or straight man or woman, ever walked up to me and said …

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

These are the the most important life saving words an alcoholic has, because we have back stories. Experiences. Life Experience. In all its forms.

I’ve NEVER heard these words come out of ANY sober mouth, anywhere in this city, in ALL of my sobriety.

That is a shame.

Because it took a lady from New York to come here, talk to us, and share those words with us.

I won’t be sort changed any longer.

Last Friday Night in 2017

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It is very important that we have someplace to be, work to do, and people to serve.

We have been repeating this message in every meeting for the last few weeks. Hoping that the message sticks, and that our young people “get it.”

I walked the tunnel tonight, because it is a straight shot down to the Orange Line, instead of walking across the neighborhood to a connection Green Line train. i arrived at the church along with a friend of mine, and together we cranked it out.

While we were waiting for folks to show up, a “couple” walked in the door. I did not recognize them, so I greeted them the same. And I asked the man, if I knew him, and he looked me dead in the eye and said … “YEAH, I WAS YOUR FIRST SPONSOR!”

Holy Shit Bat Man.

I haven’t seen my elder friend in more than fifteen years, since he had moved out of the city, got married to a sober woman, AND they had two kids along the way.

You never know who is going to walk in that door on any given night.

They now live Off Island out in Laval.

It seemed that he had a message to deliver to the GSR of our group, which happens to be me. Since I don’t have a car, and it is a hassle to get off island without one, I skip the monthly GSR meetings for the Northern Area.

He wants to hook me up.

We sat a full house. The flu is going around but through sniffles and sneezes and snarfles and quaffles, our young people all showed up, with stories about how they survived their first Christmases sober.

And once again, I repeated my advice, as I did the other night.

Our folks are set up for New years Eve. Tickets were sold to the Young People’s Conference party Sunday night. People all know where they can go.

A good news item was this … Our young people who did not have family in town, or they did not travel back to see them, all found themselves at members houses for Holiday Dinners. The community stepped up and made sure our kids were not alone.

That pleases me very much.

It’s a good sign, that our young people know what to do, and where to go. They have been steadfast in showing up to every meeting. And the rest of us are on top of them.

Tonight we read about self-pity. Which evolved into beating ourselves up, which then led to talk about our elder SINKING situation.

Before the meeting I was talking to a friend after we set up about last night’s speaker, and we chatted about the elders who go into self-pity mode, then they begin the crank over One, Not feeling good about themselves, Two, Feeling useless, and Three, thinking that disappearing from the rooms is better than engaging people, that THEY think, think little about them.

This is dangerous territory.Which usually leads back to a DRINK.

We spoke about old friends now long gone. When my old sponsor and I were chatting, we figured out that many of those old timers who were around when I first got sober, and that man became my first sponsor, many of them are long dead. There aren’t many old timers from that period of our lives still around.

It so happened, during that first five-year period of my sobriety, we had several HIGH population meetings. We’re talking meetings that would bring in over a hundred people for a regular meeting. There were several meetings like that.

Back in the day, here in Montreal, a good number of founder meetings, brought in hundreds of people. HUNDREDS.

A good six years into my sobriety, you’d be lucky to bring in 40 or 50 members at any given meeting. 60 if you were lucky.

At the five-year mark, all those high population meetings closed, for one reason or another. And almost overnight, every single person who used to go to those meetings, disappeared. It was like a bad magic trick.

People either died, moved off island, or just stopped going to meetings.

The island of Montreal is a big place, and there are nineteen boroughs on the island. Neighborhoods, put simply.

If you drew an invisible line around each neighborhood, you’d have a solid border all the way around. Now, depending in which neighborhood you lived in, dictated which meetings you went to on any given night.

There are over 500 meeting in Montreal in any given week.

So, you live in a particular neighborhood, and you attend particular meetings, in the designated neighborhood you reside in. Most people will not cross that invisible demarcation like drawn around any particular neighborhood.

That little rule of thumb still applies.

Whether you live North or South, East or West. Downtown or Uptown, people will not usually travel outside their comfort zone, except if a friend of your is taking a cake somewhere specific. Then people cross the invisible lines.

This piece of information is something I’ve studied for the whole of my sobriety, in trying to figure out where all those people went, when high population meetings folded.

The age of high population meetings are long gone.

But you know, if you go to meetings in New York City, THEY have meeting attendance in the HIGH hundreds. Like multiple hundreds. Numbers only we can imagine in our minds eyes.

They pack them in, because you can usually find a meeting on any given corner, connected to one of the myriad of churches in New York City. And there are MANY.

We are happy with our current numbers. They are constant. And Strong. And people show up, in the heat AND the cold.

I think they know that we have their backs, that as long as we are there, putting the meetings together, giving them simple jobs to do, they will continue to show up.

The Twenty minutes before and the Twenty minutes after rule still applies.

Coffee, conversation, fellowship after the meeting are also regular occurrences.

Sobriety is Never boring. If you aren’t connected, then WHY NOT ?

If you connect and invest in others, you will not spend so much time in your head, being maudlin, and miserable, beating yourself up, and thinking less of yourself. Because if we are constantly connected to others, in our daily lives, we aren’t so bothered by what’s between our ears.

And not being so bothered with what going on between our ears is better than listening to the hamster crank that wheel at 60 mph.

Suit up and Show up.

It will save your life.