Memory – One on One

And Now for something Entirely Off Topic …

I started High School in 1982. That’s 37 years ago. That first week, we would walk off campus to the Catholic Church that was just a block up the street from our school. There I met a lot of people and the leader of a rag tag bunch of youth workers, who ran one of the best youth groups, the Miami Catholic Diocese had ever seen.

I would soon join this church. My parents were still excommunicated from the church for my mother choosing birth control after my brother was born in 1970, in Connecticut, because she was RH Positive and the doctors told her she could not have any more children, so she had a Tubiligation.

It was a really good thing my parents stopped at two, because I imagine what kind of abuse they would have suffered like I had in my life.

The church was not pleased at all. In my later years of High School, they would meet with the Pastor or this church and he would absolve them of their sins and welcome them back into the church fully.

But I digress …

Some of my BEST friends came from that Youth group. All of them have moved on in the world, I’ve only contacted one of them, and the others have no digital footprints. So I don’t know where they all are, but I wonder. Some of the best times I’ve had in my life were there, and I still have a handful of friends off Face Book that I keep in touch with on Messenger

This music reminds me of them from so many years ago.

Yesterday I was napping and my mental stereo was on and I was singing an old hymn that we used to sing on the world famous retreats that we used to go on, as part of this rag tag youth group.

I got up, and loaded my I-tunes. And I searched “The Imperials – and Petra” both of these bands are contemporary Christian artist of the mid eighties and early nineties. The other one was Children of the Light, “Come on in the Water’s Fine.” This song, would play as the dining hall was readying for diners who were waiting outside the doors.

This song would start as the serving team were standing on chairs clapping their hands to the beat, welcoming diners into the dining hall, it was ritualistic and the most amazing event I’ve ever attended.

For all those years we listened to a lot of Christian music. We went to concerts together with other parishes and other denominational churches like Old Cutler Presbyterian Church which was not far from home.

I was listening to my music I had loaded on my phone this morning while grocery shopping, and there are a handful of Imperials tunes that are sacred and special to me, and 37 years later, I am listening to the song and I am singing the words, as if it was yesterday …

I remembered every single word of every song I listened to.

That first year on retreat, we were introduced to Christianity, and turning our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him. I did not know that concept in tenth grade, but I do today, because I am sober.

Imagine a rag tag bunch of kids have just spent a weekend at a camp talking about Jesus, and on the ultimate Saturday night, there was an Altar Call and we all committed our lives to Jesus. We had gone to the mountain and met God, for the first time in our lives.

Then we had to come home …

Sunday night at church, I spoke to the congregation, I was sobbing uncontrollably because I’d never felt such love in my life as I had that weekend. And I had to carry that feeling into the world with me on Monday morning when I went to school, a New Christian Soldier.

What do you tell a rag tag bunch of kids who proudly carry their bibles into battle for the souls of your friends, and everyone is looking at you like we were all crazy. What did I know about proselytizing ?

My Satanic friends who believed in the Devil came out of the woodwork and the even threatened my math teacher and his family, that was not good at all. It was not pretty at all.

But we had to carry Jesus around with us for all eternity. It did not go as planned. Because I would love Jesus and Hate him in the span of just a few years when I would enter seminary and Love Jesus, and then by years end, when asked to leave said seminary, I hated Jesus more than I loved Him.

Now sober almost eighteen years, I know God. As I understand Him. I met and had a relationship with God through the human visage of Todd. He was the most sainted representation of God I will ever know. That man saved my life, and also, God spared me from death and suffering.

Why ? I have no idea, what made me so special to save?

You’d have to ask Todd that question.

Be Still my Soul and Know that He is God…

I remember how I stood and sobbed as I said the prayer that brought me into life with Jesus as a Kid. And now, when I say my Third Step Prayer daily, I say that prayer all over again, in different words, but the thoughts and actions are the same.

Every Day I commit my life to God in Sobriety, because He is in control of my life and my sobriety. And If I help one person in this life in the ways that Todd taught me to do, then I have done my job.

I have done that, and continue to do that daily, as I am able.

Monday: “Todd” As I Understand Him

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At this evenings Monday Meeting, we read Step Three.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.”

Step Three is all about the “DECISION.”

Bill was of several opinions when it came to this step. In essence, he was “All over the place” when it came to God. The proof we all see, is right in the books, as they were written and published. The words have not changed, over all these years.

Bill is great at CONTRADICTING himself over and over again, repeatedly.

At our Friday meeting, we read the book As Bill Sees it. We’ve read this book several times over. We just have not had the courage to pick something else, so A.B.S.I. is re-read over and over.

Over the years, I’ve watched countless people, struggle with God. People who come from faith traditions of their own (read: Family) struggle the most. Followed closely by those who find the word GOD objectionable from the Get Go.

I mean really, if you cannot read a book with the word God, in it, without getting offended, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve spent the better part of my sobriety, apologizing for the word God. Trying, however hard it took me, to get people into their steps and to do their steps, with a viable “work around” for God.

Many of those folks, I had worked with previously, are no longer in my life today.

Thinking about God, tonight, began with a conversation with a friend, before the meeting. My friend has a new job. One that requires, manual labor.

He’s a janitor …

He pushes a broom and a mop and he shovels snow.

Thankless, Mundane, Work.

However mundane, I’ve told him about a portion of my long story.

When I met Todd, more than twenty-five years ago, the way I worked myself onto his “team” was through manual labor. The bar was moving from point A to point B. I knew this move was coming.

And from the very first night, I loved Todd, intimately. I knew the WHY.

From the first moments, in his blue-eyed gaze, I was transfixed. Thinking, in retrospect, Todd, was the first man I ever trusted, implicitly.

I worked like a mad man when the move night arrived. And for weeks after, as we built the bar, in an empty building from the ground up, I proved my worth, through manual labor. He hired me full-time.

It’s what we BOTH did not know then, that would solidify our relationship.

In the world we lived in, there were roles and protocols. Todd lived in His truth, and I knew mine as well. When I got sick, and told Todd that I was going to die, he wept.

Todd’s role in my life had shifted, just a little bit. Well a WHOLE LOT ACTUALLY !!!

When everybody else ran for the hills, away from the fire, Todd stepped into it with all that He had. One look from Him, four simple words from HIM, was all that I needed.

In the beginning, when all was lost, and I was running on empty, emotionally, mentally and physically, Todd was the Pool of Everlasting Water, that never went dry, ever.

Left to my own devices and my mind, falling apart, was not good at all.

Todd put down a rule, that I followed, to the last letter. Because I trusted Him and Loved Him.

He said to me: You have a life outside this building. I know it is difficult. But I have an answer for you. He said that as I approached the building front doors, I needed to prepare to drop anything that was worrying me, AT the DOOR, outside and leave it there.

When I stepped through the doors, and the doors closed behind me, THE ONLY thing you have to worry about is the job you are assigned on any given night, for as long as that shift lasted.

All I had to think about was work, and nothing else.

That was HUGE.

I could sink myself into my world. I could dress any way I wanted. Back then I was still young and beautiful. That always worked in my favor. I was protected by Todd, because I was an untouchable. Without Todd’s permission, men in the room knew that I was off-limits.

Every job. Every task. Every mundane task, every dirty task, I had, had an attached lesson to it. Every night, there was something new to be learned, one way or another.

I have documented all those various lessons, here on the Blog, in the Pages Section.

My friend, tonight, started his new job. Mundane. Thankless. Solitary.

Meditative …He sees this benefit himself.

Every night, in retrospect, I was learning Step Three, on a nightly basis. WHILE, I was getting sober the first time. I have always said that my education inside the walls of the bar, when it came to sobriety, were worth MORE than sitting in the dysfunctional room that I went to meetings in, because of the toxic messages that were thrown at me night after night for the first year.

I learned to Turn it Over, over and over again. Until I got it right.

With Todd, that did not take long at all. Because His words were Gospel. Whatever He said to me, sunk deep into my soul and psyche. I never trusted another man, in my life, like I trusted Todd. Not my father, not my husband today, No One …

I never second guessed Todd and I never spoke back at him either. Ever …

Sadly, today, I second guess God. And I back talk God as well.
My favorite phrase today is:

YEAH BUT …

It is so simple. It is painfully simple. And Being so far away from that Time and Place, knowing what it felt like to sink into Todd (read: God) for all that it was worth, puts me at a disadvantage. And I should know better.

My spiritual director caught this miss-step, and he called me on it.

And I knew he was right. And tonight, talking to my friend, before the meeting, just nailed it for me. And then the chair introduces Step three for consideration.

Was that ODD or was that GOD ???

I’ve met God, Incarnate. He walked with me through the worst time in my life, and I am still alive and can tell you this story.

There IS a GOD and I am not He.

Friday: The Quality of Surrender

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It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.

It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.

I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.

A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.

Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …

Service will keep you sober.

The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.

I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.

It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.

The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.

Read This Book …

This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.

The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.

How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%

I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.

With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.

Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.

I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.

We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.

If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.

Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.

That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.

We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.

I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …

So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.

That was a particularly good God Moment.

When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.

The rest you can say is history.

Because I am right here, right now.

And We did not drink today.

And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.

It was a good thing …