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 !!!

When Passion Dies

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Have you ever loved something so much, that you thought at one point, that you would do that thing for the rest of your life ? Climb the ladder of success, in a field/job, a sport, in music, or a trade ?

And what happens when you reach the point of success, let’s say, “going to an Olympics in Beijing as a Canadian athlete at the top of ones game.” And then having the tables turn on you, and that sport you loved, and gave it all of your heart and soul, and then that passion for the game DIES within, and alcohol becomes your best friend and companion.

When I was a boy, I had a gift for music. Beginning as a small child with a little organ, and graduating into the BIG LEAGUE with a double Decker two keyboard Wurlitzer organ that I was a master at playing.

I took private lessons, had lessons in school, and competed at Regional and State musical competitions. 12 years of music, died, on one fateful evening, when my drunken father grabbed my organ seat,(Leather bound, heavy mahogany furniture) and threw it at my mother, to try to hurt her.

I grabbed my fathers throat and said to him that after that stunt I would never play that organ again, so he might as well, send it back to where it came from.

All those years of musical genius went down the drain. And I never touched another keyboard for the whole of my life.

The passion died, because of principle, not because the gift died within me.

When I hear someone talk about a passion that is specific, let’s say, sport, not everybody is cut out to train and compete at the Olympic Level.

The stress of being a young athlete, away from home, not knowing ones asshole from their elbow, and finding the companion of alcohol to fill the whole of the need for external approval, is a killer.

I know this also, the lesson about approval comes to mind with Todd all those years ago, thinking that I needed him to tell me that I did a good job, every time I did a particular job, because I did not trust myself or my inner self. He taught me that lesson, hard and fast.

When you cannot look yourself in the mirror and be kind to ones self and always beating ones self up, always needing someone else to affirm us, is the death knell for mental health and stability.

Oh how the mighty fall. I’ve known athletes who threw in the towel and sabotaged their careers because of drugs and alcohol.

Once you get that Olympic Tattoo on you, you can never remove it. It will always be the constant reminder of who you once were, and where you had been. Only Olympic Athletes get that specific tattoo. it is a rite of passage.

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But we come in and we are messed up emotionally and mentally. Character defects running rampant. Arrogance and egotistical behavior abound, until we hit the proverbial wall of humility and humiliation, because of our attitudes, lies, and cheating.

And if we don’t get right, we will never get sober, ever !

Humility is a long hard lesson to learn for a lot of people, myself included.

But I know what it looks like and feels like today.

We all sabotage our lives with drugs and alcohol. The good news is, that there Is a Solution. One of the only solutions that work …

You – We – Us – Together – In a Church Basement – As often as Necessary !!!

You don’t have to go to the bitter end and sabotage a life of promise, you can always make that choice, for many, they could not make that choice alone.

Save for a few friends who did.

Self Sabotage is a familiar story line.

Sad that such promise went to pot, because of insecurity, ego, arrogance, and cheating.

Olympic careers are made out of a life of hard work, dedication and stamina

Very sad, that such a passion died for one of our young people.

But he is sober a few years now. Regretting nothing, because he is renewed every day.

Because he is with US now.

The Family Afterward

 

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This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.

We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.

Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.

Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.

In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.

Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …

I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.

But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.

As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.

When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.

I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.

I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.

People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.

Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.

Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.

Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment. 

Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.

Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.

But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.

Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.

We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.

The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.

They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.

Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.

Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.

The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.

We all have STEPS.

We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.

When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.

It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.

I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.

I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.

I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.

All three of them tell the same story about me …

To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.

Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.

None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.

And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.

Fuck me for trying …

I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.

She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.

And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.

She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.

I call BULLSHIT on that.

I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.

And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.

And she had the balls to say to me that …
I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???

I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.

I represent nobody or any fellowship.

All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.

Every life matters. No matter who you are.

At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …

I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.

Honesty is always the best policy.

You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.

And say something kind in return.

Sunday Sundries: We Are Not Saints

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It was a full day today. My friend got on the bus a few minutes before I arrived at the station to meet him, so I took a later bus out to the West Island. The crowd was smaller today, than yesterday.

We heard a number of speakers, from Ontario, Lexington, Kentucky and Tampa. My experience of the weekend, was not the same as in weekends past. I heard many similar ideas tossed about. The themes of powerlessness, the loss of choice, and decisions we make.

I heard it said, from one of the speakers today that, “An alcoholic can make the decision to stop drinking. We have that capability, to decide. The problem arises when we attempt to stay stopped.”

A phrase I head a very long time ago from a wise woman, when I first got sober, all those years ago, was repeated over the weekend.

Stick around until the miracle occurs …

Two of our speakers were military veterans of war. So my friend, I was running with for the weekend, had a great deal in common with them, and found affinity, and made some serious contacts for his future.

I believe that if I am kind to my friends, that is what I am meant to do here on earth.
To Be Kind…

There are many issues faced by our sober community here. Things I observe. Words I hear spoken. Attitudes I am not inclined to encourage or be around, for that matter.

I had a conversation, well, I attempted to have a conversation with the long sober woman who spoke last night. And it seemed to me, she did not want to offer me anything of substance. Like it was beyond her to actually sit and listen to me.

I told her of my travels and some of my concerns. When I broached to topic of my emotional meltdown in a meeting, some time ago, and what took place on that very day, she looked me dead in the eye and said that my behavior in that meeting was unacceptable, and that I should have kept my mouth shut and not gotten emotional.

So much for compassion and tolerance for those with different struggles.

The only thing a meeting is concerned with is keeping people sober. Anything beyond that is unacceptable, she reiterated !!!

Alcoholics Anonymous is not for the emotionally challenged she said. Her caveat was, that probably, most alcoholics don’t know how to handle that kind of thing, beyond staying stopped from drinking, because that’s what a meetings for, right ?  Not to take that next drink, nor deal with an emotionally upset man sitting at the table.

Her curt answer struck me as odd, seeing she talked about all the good we could do for each other, and all she could muster with me was an admonishment for my poor behavior in front of other alcoholics.

ODD !!!

I also told her of the brain drain with old timers flying the coop, and going down their proverbial rabbit holes. She said to me that their rabbit holes were not my problem, and not my concern. But if we see folks walk away, it falls upon us to repeat to them, that there is no graduation date, no end point in sobriety. And invite them to show up, even if they don’t want to.

On the way home, I learned that our long sober woman, when picked up at the airport the other day, was abusive to her handler. She was not kind to the young woman charged with taking care of her during her stay here. She insulted and demeaned her, and in the end, that same young woman, told the committee that she would no longer serve her charge, and that somebody else could do it.

Damage Done.

How it works says that “We are not saints. But we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”

In the end, as the story was related to me, that woman was invited to Montreal to speak because she had serious double-digit sobriety, and was a pillar in her home community. And she showed up here and was a Cast Iron Bitch to the committee.

You can’t get up there and preach goodness and sobriety to a room full of people seeking a way to live their lives sober, and then turn around and be unkind and bitchy.

I did not seek another audience with anyone else the whole weekend. I welcomed the other speakers and thanked the veterans for their service, because my father served with them in the very same theater of war in Viet Nam.

The witness of true sobriety were those two veterans. Hearing their stories of war, and the suffering they witnessed, and came home as damaged as my father was when he returned from the war. My father, though, never dealt with his demons. He just drank them away hoping that they would disappear, which was what these two men attempted to do as well.

The end result was a crash and burn and entrance into the rooms, where they both figured our what to do and with which professional. They both got sober. Got married later on, had children and lived successful lives sober, to this date.

The damage of war, is sometimes insurmountable. As we see today, in our soldiers who have gone to war in Afghanistan and other places. What we have on hand today, is helping some of our men, acclimate to sobriety. With the help of our little village of long sober and many not so long sober folks.

It Takes a Village.

The weekend was very beneficial for outreach to the young people who showed up for the weekend. Connections were made. Conversations were had. Now it falls to us to foster those connections going forwards.

I have MP 3 copies of all the talks which I will burn to my computer this week, then hand the box off to make the rounds of anyone who might want them for themselves.

Again, as I saw it, and experienced the weekend, once again, I am reminded, strongly, what I am going to take away as lessons in a good way, but also, in lessons of what I experienced, as in, I know what I am not going to perpetuate.

I might have half the time that many of the speakers had over the weekend, but I am no fool, nor am I stupid. I watch how people treat each other. And when I see long sober people acting like assholes to my community, the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

I don’t care if you are a sick alcoholic like the rest of us, if you cannot act accordingly, then I have no use for anything you have to say to me or to us for that matter.

There is no excuse for unkindness.

That’s why I stay away from old timers. Because they aren’t prefect. And many of them have treated me unkindly, and not so soberly. I know who I trust and who I talk to on a regular basis. And that is just fine with me.

Other Alcoholic Rabbit Holes are none of my business.

I choose what I take on and what I do not.
I’ve learned at least that in sixteen plus years of sobriety.

There but for the Grace of God go I …

Monday: Words Matter

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Always be mindful of your words. Which words you use, How you use them, Why you use them, and to Whom you use them with.

It has been said that, “It isn’t important what you say, but how you made them feel.”

I never know, on any given day, if anyone I know, pays attention to anything that I say in any meeting that I attend. A very long time ago, I watched someone have a freak moment, when, after making coffee for a period of time, got resentful, and had an ego attack, because people did not verbally Thank Him, in person.

He, in the end, left that particular meeting, calling people who went to that meeting ungrateful. That was a long time ago. I survived him.

Doing service, is a thankless job. Nobody ever says thank you. Not that I’ve been waiting for someone to sing my praises for my ability to make a mean urn of coffee … Or notice that I am the one who sets up chairs and tables at several meetings, during the week.

Marcus Aurelius talks a lot about praise and living a simple and humble life. Not bringing attention to yourself, but also, being mindful of what you do in the world, to be a “citizen, a participant, and a good human being.” Always thinking of the greater good, when it comes to what we do in public. Praise is unnecessary, because in the end, all those people, you need praise from, will eventually die.

We will all die one day and return to The Logos, that which created us …

There are certain young people, I am aligned towards. The ones that I take special interest in, for one reason or another. They know who they are. For the most part, I keep a low profile. I may be the first one in the door, and make any particular room habitable for a meeting, but my service to my friends is something I do for myself. Because I was told that doing service was the best way to remain sober.

A few weeks ago, I told you the story about THE BEER IN THE BOX …

After hearing my young lady friend talk about that beer, that she was hell-bent on drinking, even though she was almost a year sober, I did two things.

Within the meeting, I shared a story I heard told by a WOMAN who was thirty-one years sober, when she, herself, faced a possible slip, and what she did to avoid it.

At the end of that share, I quoted Mother Teresa who said …
“Well Done, You must continue to protect your special gift …”

That gift was the woman’s sobriety.

The second thing I did was to give a simple suggestion.

We all know that sometimes when we talk, nobody listens. Because I know that over my time, I have offered suggestions to my friends, and they smile at me ruefully, as if to say, “Aw, he means well, but I have no intention of following anything he says to me …”

Been there, Done that.

But to my young lady friend, I told her to go home and write out what she was about to do, that would be … TO DRINK AGAIN.

Little did I know, something I suggested, would make all the difference to her, in the end. Because it was that particular exercise she employed, that KEPT HER SOBER.

Tonight she came to the meeting and proudly told me her solution.

She went to the graduation party with her friends. But before the event, she went on to Ebay and purchased a SODA, that was five years old. The age of the beer that was sitting in that box, she had intended to drink, at said party.

I had hoped that her friends, knowing she was sober, would have her best interests in mind when it came to her sobriety.

And I did ask her this question.

At the party, she drank the SODA and NOT the beer. However, her beer was opened, and everyone else, drank from it, so she would be included in the ritual formally.

My young lady friend did take her year chip and is still sober today. She will graduate in a few weeks, and then she is off to Peru, and finally to Seattle for work.

Sadly, she won’t be returning to Montreal.

You never know when something you say to someone will sink in for someone you are talking to, and make a serious difference in their lives.

I do my best for all of my friends.

Sometimes that goodness comes back to me ten fold.

A Fellow Drunk, Secrets and Sobriety

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Lorna Kelly, The First Female Sotheby’s Auctioneer, Died in June of 2016, SOBER …

This post, originally posted to my former blog, was written as a document. I had this exact conversation with a drunk, in person, to his face. And he told me to fuck off at the meeting.

So I came home and wrote down what I had said.

It wasn’t until he read these words for himself, did he get indignant, and send the Pitch Fork crowd after me, saying how terrible I was that I wrote about him, broke his anonymity, which I categorically DID NOT, by NOT mentioning his name at all in the piece, and that I had adversely affected his sobriety. Only he would have recognized the story was about HIM specifically.

He never approached me on that I wrote any of this, nor has he said a word to me since, not that he deigns to speak to me in public, anyways. He could not bear to speak to me because I was right. But he sent enough people to my blog to tell me that he was mad at me and that I had broken his anonymity. Which I Did Not…

So I shut down the blog and moved it here. And that FUCKER sees me in meetings now and does not even acknowledge that I am sitting a mere ten feet from his chair. Nor does he, in any way, make mention that he read the blog or has anything to say to me in public. Because he knows I was right and that HE is a PUSSY …

Lorna Kelly once said, in her wisdom about alcoholism,

“Only You know what you do in secret…”

The Book says, that at some point in your sobriety, the only thing that will stand between YOU and a DRINK, will be your Higher Power.

The Book also says that, the obsession of EVERY alcoholic is this …

“That one day, we will be able to drink normally like other people.”

The Thursday meeting did not disappoint again, tonight. One of my friends spoke. What goes on in Vegas, is supposed to stay in Vegas. Well, we know tonight, that adage is not really true.

All it takes is a shot of tequila while standing in a pool at an expensive hotel on the strip. Take a sober man, put him in a POOL with his fellows on a business trip, far from home, disconnected from his sobriety, and hand him a shot !!!

At first, he tosses the first magical elixir SHOT into the pool, much to the consternation of his fellows, so they hand him a second SHOT, this time, he downs that shot, and is off to the races. One shot devolves, from that expensive Hotel pool on the strip into seedy hotels off the strip, lots more alcohol, girls, and illicit drugs.

Thank God he had the presence of mind to STOP. He takes himself to the airport, a few days short of completing this business trip, and pays $2500.00 for a plane ticket, and comes home.

Straight men, in the corporate world, have it really bad because we heard him say that the corporate world is COLD, and that MONEY is COLD.

14 months ago, that few night slip, took place.

Thank God, 14 months later, he is sober.

At the end of the meeting, the 12 step rep got up there and handed the chip.

Surprise, surprise, a man I know well, got up and took that chip.

Many years ago, a man came in. Reticent, and Unrepentant. At that time, I was not as sober as I am today. And what I did not know then, I would not figure out, what I did not know, until I was on the other side, looking back at it, right now today.

Nonetheless, one night, after a meeting, I sat with this man, and gave him the speech. Told him what I was doing, and how I work with others.

Needless to say, he did not want what I was selling.

And to this day, he still does not want what I am selling.

You can only WHITE KNUCKLE it for so long. Because eventually, YOU are going to drink again. My gay friends, in the rooms, have not much love for me, because they all think I am a bit mental, and crazy, and they are, and have been, the most judgmental about my personal appearance and my presence in meetings.

For the whole of my sobriety, I have watched people. I’ve listened to them talk. And I know what they are doing, and what they are not doing. I know, many things about my friends, that they don’t even know about themselves, until they drink again.

My particular friend, has been white knuckling it for a long time.

Here was a SURRENDER that was YET to happen…

My friend is a member at the Monday meeting. And for the last many months, he comes in, shakes hands perfunctorily, and sits down. For the last many months, he has been more OBSESSED with a light switch on the wall, rather than paying attention to reading the book, that we have been reading religiously for the last 14 months.

He is more concerned with that fucking light switch, rather than his sobriety.

Because he is the guy who shuts the switch, turns on the switch, and when to flip the switch.

He’s been doing this for months. Now I recognize that behavior, looking back at it, because I heard many times before, that if you are disconnected at meetings, that you really need to reconnect, at your own peril.

Over the weekend last, he thought to himself, and he said this to the room that,

“If I had a drink, one drink, in SECRET, nobody would know …”

Well, God knew. And He knew as well.

Stubborn pig-headed queer men are the bane of my existence. My gay friends don’t want to know me, and they are fixated on topics that I have already walked through myself, but over the past year, these are the same men who shunned me and snickered at me, while I was in my cups and at my worst, mentally and emotionally.

My friend took a drink, in secret, hoping nobody would find out.

FAIL !!!

I may not have been as sober as some think of me today. But the good God’s honest truth is, I am still sober, and I did not drink, even in the worst of my personal hell over the past year, I stuck it out, white knuckling it, as I figured this hell out for myself.

Because nobody wanted to sit with me nor help me …

Yet, I have the presence of mind at meetings to pay more attention to my friends, than on my own self. I read the book, I share from my heart. My straight friends are A LOT more supportive in the grand scheme of things, than my gay friends.

Somewhere, deep in my consciousness, now that tonight took place, that the warning signs were there all along. I had seen them materialize. I knew what they looked like, now on the other side of an intentional SLIP.

Lorna warned me, warned us. Because this man was sitting in the same West Island Round up when she spoke those words to us about the Secrets we keep to ourselves and having to guard our secret moments, we keep to ourselves.

More than once, in her share, she said and I quote …

Alcoholism, is like a snake, slithering through fine china and wine glasses, across the table, at an epicurean feast fit for a queen, is always there. And on the second night of that feast, a fellow lady at the table suggested to her that she drink, to “enhance the pasta dish,” and in that moment she had a choice, to DRINK or NOT to drink.

She put down her fork and knife, put her hands in her lap and said the Serenity Prayer to herself. Thereby avoiding a slip at that table.

The day after, she had an emotional breakdown in her room thankful that she had God in her corner and that she knew what to do in that moment of choice …

She did not drink that wine, and was sober until the day she died almost a year ago, in the Thirty something sober range….

The Book of Forty is closing. The Book of Fifty is about to be opened.

I know God is in my life because my spiritual directors, Spencer and Randall kept me on that connection every day.

I am sober and made my Statement of Faith the other day in my Inventory …

Monday I will be Fifty … And I will be SOBER…
I wrote this on Friday before my birthday July 31st, which was a Monday this year.

There is a God and I am not He.

Some of my friends are not so lucky.

The Book says, an alcoholic Will Drink Again. Lorna said that We must be diligent in our secret spaces.

And Mother Teresa said to Lorna, on her sickbed that…

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SPECIAL GIFT … (read Sobriety)

Part TWO of this story … If You Want What We Have …

This afternoon, I got up and went to do my shopping. And I ran into Canadian Tire to purchase that light switch, to give to my reluctant fellow who drank again. It is just a simple light switch you wire into the wall.

Before the meeting, I ran my stupid idea past two very sober men, who I trust with my secrets and thoughts. They both agreed I was barking up the wrong tree, because we all agree, my fellow, really does not want to be sober, because he has not even admitted to himself that he is an Alcoholic, and that he is powerless over alcohol and drugs. And he has no desire to be Honest with even himself.

I sat on my idea for the whole meeting.

A fellow I know very well spoke. He’s just a few years ahead of me at nineteen years. He said that once we come into the rooms we begin doing good things for others, which makes us feel good about ourselves.

And we build Self Respect.

Self Respect IS important, because once you build self-respect, in sobriety, we really don’t want to fuck that up. He also mentioned honesty and willingness to do something good for ourselves now that we are sober.

He is fifty-five years old, and I just crossed the fifty mark myself. I know him, but I don’t HANG with him, nor anyone from his crowd. But I see him often, where I hit meetings, and he is consistent in work and ability.

I sat outside with my sober men before the meeting and watched people I know, from the meetings I HAD been going to approach the door. They would walk past me and not even acknowledge I am standing there, except I say their names out loud, as to say, I acknowledge you, even if you don’t ME

They don’t want to converse with me before or after the meeting. It is like I don’t even exist in their spectrum of who they talk to, before and/or after.

Many people in the rooms are like that. They will shake your hand and exchange pleasantries, but nothing beyond that minimal effort to look sober.

Is that all about ME or all about THEM ?

I don’t know. I just know that people (certain people) really don’t care for my brand of sobriety nor honesty in my observations of them, or the fact that I am sober a good while, and many of them are not.

After the meeting I approached my light switch fellow, and made MY PITCH.

I explained the light switch I had purchased and why I was giving it to him. I told him that he wasn’t paying attention to anything, because he sat in a meeting and read THE WHOLE BIG BOOK cover to cover, and decided to drink again …

WHO DOES THAT ???

I know he does not think highly of me at all, being Queer like me. But I am not a Queer like many of the other Queer men I know in the rooms. And I said that to him, prefacing my remarks. He wasn’t buying what I was selling.

In closing he looked at me like I was from Mars, after handing him the light switch and made my sales pitch and replied, I don’t know what to think about this.

I hugged him and walked away.

Not sure if that little TOOL will do anything for him, but I offered a last salvo to tell him that I was paying attention to HIM and his stupid choices, because obviously, he wasn’t paying attention to anyone or anything. And I told him so.

I encouraged him that he really needed to start paying attention …

I said these words to another drunk. He balked and turned and walked away. A few days later, he reads my blog and get indignant and sends the Pitch Fork Crowd after me.

Hence, here we are safe, protected and away from prying eyes…

Wednesday: Whisper From Heaven

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Today was the day when chores needed to be done. Shopping, Sorting, Laundry and the like. I was up early this morning and now my laundry is washing. Now it is drying…

By the By I had set my music to shuffle. That has been the norm for the past few weeks. I was in the mall, heading to do some window shopping, and my music sort of stopped, and there was a pause, the next item that played was an entire Pod Cast from the West Island Round Up, that took place in 2012.

We like to say in these instances … Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

The very same year that God shook up my sobriety, via Bob and Lorna Kelly.

I have two sober talks on my phone, located under Pod Casts. They don’t usually come up in musical rotation, but today Lorna came up. And in retrospect, I take that as a sign that I needed to hear her share today.

A whisper from heaven.

Lorna Kelly, died in June of 2016. She had battled Cancer and had heart operations and although she had all these problems, when asked to come to Montreal to speak, she did it gladly. Still to this day, many of the things she speaks of, are relevant to my sobriety, and to everyone else who would have thought to have a copy of her share ready to load up and listen to now and then.

I take time, a LOT of time reading and listening to people. Hell, that’s what we do at meetings right ? Listen to each other. Unlike my fellows around town, after such meetings or listening to a speaker, I come here and I write out my thoughts as they come to me. People think I am offensive when I do this.

Lorna was a student and a participant in the life of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She wrote an entire book on the subject. Mother Teresa once said to Lorna, in a moment of compromise,

“You must protect this special gift!” Speaking of her sobriety.

On her sickbed, prior to Mother Teresa’s death, several sisters, Lorna and Mother Teresa were in Mother’s room. A young Indian priest came in the say mass. As the mass continued and communion came, the young priest comes round the bed and offers Lorna a host, that was dipped in the wine.

Not wanting to make a scene and make it all about HER, Lorna passed on the sodden host, to one of the sisters standing at her side. Then speaking reverently to the priest:
Yes, I want communion, but please don’t dip it in the wine …”

Wherein Mother Responded with “Well Done Lorna, you must continue to protect your special gift.”

A second story takes place in Kentucky at an Epicurean Feast.

This dinner party spread over two nights took place in a very fine mansion, with a grand ball room dining room, elegantly appointed. Everyone dressed to the nines, several chefs, gourmet food, and all the wine one could possibly want or need.

The first night went off without a hitch. Lorna had told the chefs that she could not have alcohol in any form, in any of her food, none whatsoever.

On the second night, she was sitting at dinner, when the pasta course came out. As the chefs came out to explain the dish, the host offered wine from his own wine cellar, and the guests were fascinated with the choice.

Fascinated so much that the woman sitting opposite Lorna commented to her that that particular wine was just amazing. And that Lorna should just taste the wine for the effect it had with the pasta dish now in front of them.

All the while, Lorna had not taken a drink. Nobody took notice until the woman sitting opposite her said to her: “Lorna You’re Not Drinking? No, she replied I’m not.”

And the snake of alcoholism began slithering across the table, through the glasses and cutlery, along the table and the snake came up and nuzzled Lorna up her neck to her ear and it whispered …

“Lorna, It wouldn’t be a slip, you don’t want to drink the wine, you merely want to taste it.” 

In that moment of decision, what did she do ?

She set her cutlery down and folded her hands in her lap and she recited the Serenity Prayer, and after a moment or two, took up her cutlery and finished her dinner.

It was only on the next morning as she was packing, that the truth of what happened the night prior, with that possible SLIP. Lorna fell to her knees in her room and she wept.

She says over and over, in quoting the Big Book:

That at some point in your sobriety, a time will arise, when the only thing that stands between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.

Many of my friends forgot this little piece of wisdom and drank again.

Lorna goes on to say that, “Only YOU know what goes on in your secret places.”

It is what we do in secret and the secrets we keep that impact if we stay sober or not. Sadly, many friends also forgot this wisdom. I don’t think many people think to bolster their spiritual condition by reinforcing everything we are taught and all the words that people have spoken to us. I know that I do.

Similarly – It all came down to One Decision, how the Fellowship began.

Heaven Held its Breath …

In Bill’s story, when he travels to Akron, Ohio to seal a business deal, that eventually falls through, Bill is only sober a short period of time. The meeting ends, Bill is shattered. The business has failed, and there he is standing in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron.

The SURE THING, the bar, off to one side of the lobby, the not so sure thing, the CHURCH DIRECTORY and the PHONE on the opposite wall, Bill stands at a cross roads.

In that moment of indecision, Heaven is Holding its Breath, waiting to see what choice Bill is going to make. In hindsight, the lives of millions upon millions of alcoholics, hang in the balance.

Bill is thinking the drink. It would be easy to just walk into that bar and escape his troubles. But, no, Bill says to himself,

“I don’t need a drink, I need another alcoholic!”

There it is. The seminal decision that starts the Fellowships ball rolling.

Bill walks over to the directory and begins making calls. having failed on several of them, he decides on Just One More Call. Henrietta Sieberling picks up and sets up the most important meeting of Bill’s life and sobriety.

The next meeting that Bill has is with one Doctor Bob Smith.

Offering Bill fifteen minutes for his troubles, their first talk lasts six hours. And Bob relates his thought that for the first time in his life, he had met a man who spoke his language and had been able to help Dr. Bob get sober, (not on the first round) but eventually Bob did get sober, it was all down to Bill’s life experience with alcoholism, from his own life that turned Dr. Bob’s life upside down.

And it is in that meeting that the fellowship of A.A. is born.

Lorna talks about Nikos Kazantzakis where he says:

TO ALWAYS CHOOSE THE SURE THING IS TREASON FOR THE SOUL.

Bill could have chosen the sure thing, the bar and a drink.

Lorna could have chosen the sure thing and taken a wine sodden host, or a sip of that wine at the dinner.

Both of these people, actually chose to do something different.

Both decisions, changed their lives, and in turn, enlighten our lives with their wisdom in not choosing the sure thing.

These are Spiritual Principles.

Spiritual Principles are truly the SURE THING in sobriety.

They never lead us to the wrong decision, if we remember to Stop-Drop-Pray and then:

Decide the better of the two options.