A Little More Sober …

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It has been miserably HOT here. It has been more than a week of high 30’s into the mid 40’s with humidexes in the high 40’s. We broke several records this week. And they are saying, on the news that upwards of 44 people in the province are dead, because of the high heat.

We have too many apartments without AC across the city. And even some of our oldest hospitals were in serious jeopardy without AC in patient rooms. Many people IN those hospitals almost died, and all the medical services could offer was a sponge bath and a twice daily walk through corridors that had air, to keep sick patents alive.

It has been very ugly for sure. We have been waiting on God to make it rain, BIG TIME tonight. The severe storm warnings went up early today, but not a drop has fallen on the city as of 2:25 am. But the weather people tell us it will be in the 20’s tomorrow.

It rained once 5 days ago, and for all of ten minutes. I mean the rain fell, but as it hit the ground it evaporated on the steaming pavement below. It did not a drop of good.

I am working on another round of steps with a young lady of my acquaintance. She is a few years sober, but she is a wealth of insight. Tonight I saw another lady friend of mine at the meeting earlier, and shared with her an observation I made of something she said last week, at another meeting. And told her I was working with my young lady friend. My friend is sober a while now. And confirmed for me this thought …

The number of old timers, to “work with” has been slim on the ground. Many of our old timers have fallen off the radar as of late, OR, they are in rabbit holes of their own making. We’ve been trying to help them all when we can.

But my elder lady friend said that she read through the book with another young woman, who was sober just a few years, as they read together, and she told me that it was very humbling for her to sit with someone younger in the program than she was.

I have found that my young lady friend, has perspective on the book, that I have never seen or heard before. I have more notes in my book tonight, than I had written in that very same book, all the years I’ve been reading this particular copy.

I wrote an inventory, and we went over it Tuesday evening. I had followed her directions, but when we got to the end of what I had written, she said, what about the rest of it ? And I said to her, what about it ?

She said to me that I needed to do a fears inventory along with my sex inventory as well, as stated in the book, as it is written. She asked me if I had ever really completely completed a proper 4th step before ? I said no.

She said that she needed to look at my history to see if any issues, based on the already spoken inventory had bled over, and if I didn’t complete the step entirely, then it was not properly done.

Not one human I have ever sat with ever said those words to me, because I know we are all reading the same text, that hasn’t changed in 80 years.I guess this is my chance to really work steps fully and properly.

Nobody I have ever worked with before, ever ventured through the entire step 4 as it is written in the book. I laughed and said that I’ve never sat with a straight male sponsor who ever broached those two inventories with me.

I don’t think any of them wanted to know my exact honest history, so to speak. She sent me home to write it all out, for the first time in forever.

This evening I told my lady friend at the meeting about this conversation I had had with my younger lady friend, and she said to me, Then she IS the one person who knows what she is doing, follow what she tell you to do. So I am going to sit this portion on Monday evening with her.

My young lady friend got sober in Chicago, and has certain perspective about The Work. I sat and wrote the other day, stuff I haven’t thought about in eons.

A side story …

A long time ago, in years nine and ten, I was home grouped in a meeting on the far west west end of the city. There, at that time, was a group of hens who had, at that time, thirty plus years of sobriety each. They took me in and showered me with care. But there was something not just right about the people, in that space.

They celebrated my tenth anniversary with me. They dipped my two year chip in gold, and had it engraved for me as a gift for my tenth.

Soon after, I had an encounter with a member that was toxic and dangerous. It did not end well, and I was only so sober at that time. I promptly resigned from the group and gave back my keys and never spoke to any of them again, since.

And now I know, seven years later, that I was not very sober then, knowing what I know now about sobriety and myself.

For the last seven years, every time I cross paths with certain women from that older group, they ignore me like I do not exist. It happened not long ago that I was visiting Verdun for a series of meetings, and they came all the way from the West end to Verdun, and sitting outside, they all walked past me like I was not even there. Which bothered me intensely. But I shrugged it off …

Tonight, one of the matrons from that West End meeting spoke tonight for us at St. Matthias. After the meeting ended I visited the bathroom, and prayed.

I came out and strode up to our speaker, One of those women that ignore me in public spaces, and I said to her that “I remembered her kindnesses to me. I carry my ten year chip in my wallet and that I thought about her often, and I did not forget her kindness.

Then I added that – at ten years sober, in my experience now, I may have accrued ten years of time, But at that time, I had not accrued, ten years of sobriety, just yet. I know that now.

And I told her that. I told her that I really did not begin to grow up fully, until hit the twelve year mark and a sponsor in New York City, set me on the path to enlightenment. And I know from twelve to almost seventeen years this year, I have grown up a great deal. She asked me how I was feeling, and I said I felt good.

She shook my hand and we left it at that.

Upon reflection of that little conversation, I made an amend to that woman, seven years in the making.

Let’s just say this round is proving to be very difficult but freeing at the same time, as the days pass by, I learn something new about myself. I guess because I am paying attention to God.

Last week, at the same meeting, I was talking to another friend, we were talking about care giving, and I mentioned a story about my father. When I was young, and my grammy had a stroke, he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital.

I firmly believe in my soul, to this day, with what little we knew about strokes in the early 80’s … That if he took me to her bedside and she recognized me, that she would, in essence, wake up. (in the end, she did not wake up) And my friend said to me, that night that my father had a moment of clarity, in his alcoholism.

He knew in that moment he made that decision, clearly from someplace, outside of himself, that i was the key to her recovery. And he also knew that grammy loved me more that anyone else, which is why he flew me out there.

I went home, angry and conflicted. And brooded over it.

When grammy did not wake up or get better, and we came home, that alcoholism and the abuse escalated seriously. I don’t think he ever forgave me for failing his quest. I will never know now.

Friday when I left for the Friday meeting, I was not really feeling myself, but I did what I always do. I opened the cabinet and took out our coffee pot, and as I turned back around, to walk towards the kitchen, a single piece of paper fell to the floor face down.

Now, I was not feeling myself, and I was emotionally off kilter, so to speak. I picked up the paper and turned it over in my hands and began to read the article printed on it.

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It was an article about the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset Vermont. It does not appear on ANY map, and if you need to go there, or even want to go there, you first need to know where you are going, by the highway systems through the mountains and valleys of Vermont. Which made me ponder the memory of three years earlier.

My then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and myself were on our way to a men’s intensive retreat. On the way, we stopped in East Dorset to visit that house: the home, the entire property.

I was immediately put straight … It was a message from outside of myself, reminding me that I am never alone.

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We even visited the hallowed graveyard where Bill and his wife Lois are buried. We stood on his grave with a group of women, there for a retreat themselves on the property. and recited the serenity prayer standing around their graves.

That memory is seared into my brain.

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Over the past few months, little signs from God have been coming to me fast and furiously, over several mediums. I have speakers loaded onto my phone. And for about a month, my I-phone shuffle would send me one particular share from a woman I met in 2012, whom I adore, who was friends with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Anyways, my phone kept shuffling her to me in the oddest moments, over an entire month. I suspected that I needed to hear something she said, which is why that one share kept rotating into my playlist over and over again. Because I guess, once was not enough, I kept listening to her talk to me. That proved to be very beneficial to me looking back at it now.

Not sure where all of this is going … This week is anniversary number 24 of my AIDS diagnosis in 1994. I’m still alive, and God has been talking to me quite often, funny that, I hear Him. I recognize the voice and the messages coming, as they come to me. From whomever they are coming from. I know, if it is coming from outside of me, then it must be Godly advice.

Funny how God works.

The Front of The Book

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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.

Out of Chaos Comes Order …

o-BRENE-BROWN-ORIGIN-MAGAZINE-facebookEvery night that we sit with the Big Book and read it, repeatedly, eventually hindsight takes place and wisdom appears. This does not happen overnight, because we know that sobriety does not happen overnight.

Everything in its own time they say …

“A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem, we experience the thrill of challenge in the opportunity it affords for another application of A.A. techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprising vigor.” pp 275-276 Ed. 4

We don’t know what we don’t know. I know today, that I have specific insight into who I was, at particular points in my personal story.

Growing up in an alcoholic home, I learned, quite forcefully, how to take care of said home. Cleaning, doing laundry, taking care of a pool and mowing the yard. Grocery shopping and cooking dinners were necessary at times as well.

I knew how to do all those things, before I flew the coop, so to speak.

The problem was, that before I got where I was intending to go, my alcoholism was already there, waiting for me, like it knew me intimately, and had plans for me that I really did not ponder as the moving truck pulled up to the building I was moving into.

The following five years was a blur, until I hit my twenty-sixth year of life, and death was staring me in the face. There were no options, but to kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

That is, until Todd (read: God), stepped into my life.

At the first, as he demanded my sober heart and mind, what I did not know, I did not know, and Todd had to re-educate me. Chaos reigned in my head and I had lost control of my faculties.

I was powerless over the fact that I was going to die, miserably.

Yes, I got sober. But more importantly, I had a job. A job that paid the bills and kept me alive. Keeping me alive trumped meetings, and the people in those meetings. The first year of my sobriety was a horse race that was bet against me by the very same people who were tasked at carrying the message of sobriety to me and making sure I made it.

However, with a number painted on my back and weekly bets being placed on my eventual slip, what was I supposed to do, when I was locked into one meeting location, because in those days, sobriety in Fort Lauderdale circa 1994 was sketchy?

I went to meetings, and did what I had to do to stay sober. All the while, Todd was keeping me alive, against all the odds.

Had Todd not taken me in and taught me everything that I had to learn, again, I would surely have died like everyone else.

We all know this story. When Todd departed my life, I could not keep it together.

On December 9th, 2001, I walked back into the rooms in SOBE.

The first of two major decisions were made. The second would follow very soon after I got sober, with a government invitation to Canada and a Birthright that was mine to claim.

I was not going to make another terrible mistake.

Soberly and gingerly, at 4 months sober, I came to Canada for a visit. I stayed two weeks, went home, packed my few personal items and my clothes and got back on a plane and I did not look back.

The second major life decision was complete.

A very good thing was that during my first visit I had found a home group, a doctor, and a temporary place to live.

I like to say, at this point that, I met all the right people, at all the right moments, for all the right reasons. I had walked into the sobriety circle. And all the right people took me in and cared for me, in ways, that one does not see in today’s sober circles.

Things are just not the same. However hard I try to carry on that tradition myself.

I had rehab to attend. I had a counselor who kept me on the beam. And all I had to do, in that first year, was stay sober. I learned how to build my life around my meetings. To this day, almost seventeen years later, that particular infrastructure is still in play.

The first job I was given, was to set down chairs and tables, then learn how to make damned good coffee. Today, almost seventeen years later, I am STILL setting down chairs and tables and making damned good coffee.

Whatever you place before your sobriety, will eventually FAIL !!!

I have read the book countless times. I have worked steps over and over. I have been to thousands of meetings, and have had thousands of conversations about sobriety.

I know what I did not know, now, when I did not know what I did not know, then.

The proof is in the pudding. If only, (I know I should never utter those words, IF ONLY) someone had the insight into my sobriety, like Todd had insight into my life, things might have turned out very differently. But they did not.

Life had to take the course it took. Because at each point on that chaotic timeline, I had to learn lessons the hard way, because I really was not sober at all, in the first four years I had racked up in time.

I had the TIME. But I surely was not SOBER.

Sad indeed.

I don’t have fifty years of continuous sobriety. like some of the founders in the book, or like the handful of founders I know today. All I have is what I have worked for.

I took it easy. I followed directions. I did not take chances on making stupid mistakes.
I can safely say, that my stupid mistake generator has been offline for a long time now.

Every decision I made in sobriety, was well-tested and advised over, one issue at a time, one decision at a time.

Into years two and three, life threw me several curve balls, but I tackled them soberly.

And in the ensuing fourteen years, we have conquered every obstacle, soberly, together.

I’ve never had to go outside the SOBER circle ever, for anything. ANYTHING.

The Book is correct …

There is no more aloneness, with that awkward ache, so deep in the heart of every alcoholic that nothing before, could ever reach it. That ache is gone and never need return again.

Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.”

Monday: Helping Others – The Book

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Because we all need a little Happy Dog Photo. I LOVE this photo.

The fact is that most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink. Our so-called will power becomes practically nonexistent. We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week orb a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink. pg. 24 BB.

I’ve heard it said that if something in the Big Book is written in Italics, then it is VERY important. And we should pay close attention to whatever is said.

After a weekend of sleeping in, and considering my next move in sobriety, tonight I hit my Monday meeting. It was as if I was hung over, mentally, and I thought to myself, on the way that, “I really needed a meeting.”

I don’t often get that jonesing feeling like “I really need a meeting” often. Today I noticed it right away. I got there early, because we were in a secondary location the past two weeks, and last week I missed, and this week I got LOST, trying to find a building that was just one block from where we usually meet.

Thank God for underground shopping malls.

I saw my friends. Some of whom took chips. Others, whom had drunk again over the weekend. Drinking again … This has become common lately. It breaks my heart that my friends all know me, and many of them have my number. None of them choose to use that number. I don’t get it.

I tried, once again, to make connections.

I know that I work very hard at sobriety, and I know today, that I have certain answers. I know certain things, CERTAINLY. Some of my friends, I think, might be put off with certainty. People come to meetings, but really, they don’t want the truth.

It’s like they enjoy rummaging around in the dark scrounging for the answer they want, which is not necessarily the answer they really need. But walking around in the dark seems easier than buckling down and accepting certainty and sobriety, once in for all.

I don’t understand that either.

I asked a friend, with serious time, before the meeting, “Hey James, what is it I need to know, because my anniversary is approaching,” and he said to me that “I really need to trust my higher power with that question. That only HE would tell me what I need to know.”

So I am Not God.

I also know that if I don’t hear directly from HIM, that I need to leave home and hit a meeting and listen to my friends, who might speak for HIM, to Me.

That’s usually how it goes for me.

One of my sponsees is a month out from his third anniversary next month. BOTH his anniversary and mine (in December) both fall on a weekend, which means we get our chips, respectively, in a meeting the week after.

I’ve been practicing my script over the past few days. Because I like to practice the barbed words I want to use in front of certain people, who fuck all …

Not really sober thinking is it ? Nope it isn’t.

I said to my friend, who drank over the weekend, that:

You Don’t Ever Have to Drink Again …

It’s in the book. I’ve said it before. But my friends would rather hit the bumper and drink again and again, knowing the truth is right in front of them, yet they choose to avert their eyes from the truth, because for many, they just cannot fathom a life without using and drinking.

I know what that feels like. Let me tell you what I did … As Lorna would say.

When I got sober this time around, I was so fear ridden with the prospect of growing up and becoming a man. I think that is why I continued to drink, until drinking more was NOT a viable option any longer. I had no choice. I had to sober up.

I was just not going to walk into a room alone. I had to have help.

I prayed for HELP and help ARRIVED.

I know how you feel, let me tell you what I did …

These are everlasting words of hope and faith. These are the words that can change a life. If only my friends trusted me.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

You can’t force someone into sobriety. They have to come upon it on their own.

Many stand at the barrier and look over it. Some of my friend succeeded at walking through it, into sobriety. A handful of my friends are still standing there, waiting for the PUSH they really need. I quietly sit there, and beckon.

Over and Over and Over.

Fear and Pain are great motivators. Some of my friends are stuck in fear and pain.

Sobriety is a selfish pursuit. Go to your meeting for YOU and only YOU.

And Fuck all what anyone else might think or say.

I’ve learned that over fifteen years and ten months.

Now, a little faith from Pope Francis …

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In his Monday homily at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis focused on the parable of the Good Samaritan. He said one who helps another “get up” is on the “right path to Jesus.”

POPE FRANCIS
“This is very common habit among us. We see an ugly calamity and pass by and later read about it in the newspapers, painted with a bit of scandal and sensationalism. Instead the Samaritan, a pagan and sinner who was traveling ‘saw and did not pass by: he had compassion.’ St. Luke describes it well, ‘He saw; he had compassion; he went to him and did not remain far away, but went closer.”

He concluded by asking Christians to examine which type of Christian they are and if they constantly are available to help others.

SUMMARY OF PAPAL HOMILY
“This is very common habit among us. We see an ugly calamity and pass by and later read about it in the newspapers, painted with a bit of scandal and sensationalism. Instead the Samaritan, a pagan and sinner who was traveling ‘saw and did not pass by: he had compassion.’ And St. Luke describes it well, ‘He saw, he had compassion, he went to him and did not remain far away, but went close by.

“This is the mystery of Christ who became a servant, who humbled and annihilated himself and died for us. Jesus is the Good Samaritan who invited the doctor of the law to do the same. The mystery of Jesus Christ is not a children’s tale, the parable reveals the depth and breadth of the mystery of Jesus Christ. The doctor of the law did not understand the mystery of Christ but he surely understood the human principle behind it – that every man who looks from above at another man down below, does so only to help him get up. One who does this is on the right path to Jesus.”

“The innkeeper understood nothing of this, bewildered at meeting someone who did things he never heard before. This is what happens when one meets Jesus. The Holy Father urged Christians to re-read this parable and examine themselves on their attitude – a robber, a cheater, a corrupt man, a priest, a Catholic manager, or a sinner. Do I approach and make myself a neighbour and servant to those in need like Jesus?.”

Monday: Resentment And its Spiritual Solution

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There may come a time, in your life, in your Sober Life, that you reach a tipping point. A moment of Do or Die, or more aptly, Do or Drink … A moment where the resentments of the past, are about to rush over you like a BIG wave on the beach.

That time may come for you, as it came to me, not so long ago.

Tonight we read the Resentment Passage from the Big Book, as it tells us that:

Resentment is the number ONE offender, and if not dealt with accordingly, We Will Drink Again…

For many years, when I worked my steps, I had resentments that ended up on the Never list for my Step Nine Amends. That anger of my idealistic melancholic hopes that “The Past could have been any different, thereby giving me the end I wanted, instead of the end that I got.

There was not ONE sober member, when it was needed so badly, not one member who gave me a solution to my anger. Oh, they recognized my anger, then told me to go, and deal with that on my own, leaving me to my own devices.

My solution, the Very Spiritual Solution came from my spiritual advisers.

The format of the inventory I needed to work came from them, and them alone.

I learned to Pray a Forgiveness Prayer, for those who had harmed me so badly. Praying to forgive them of pain, knowing that my prayer was not one of absolution, but in the end, of Release.

There may come a time when resentments that end up on your amends list, that fall in the Never Column. There are three columns. Now, Later, and Never.

For the whole of my sobriety I sat on anger and fear. I sat in sick anger that invaded my spirit, and as the book tells us, that sickness, keeping us from the Sunlight of the Spirit.

I heard it said tonight, that when we are in that place, we are walking around the world, with an open umbrella, shading ourselves from the Sunlight of the Spirit, intentionally.

We have to let go the expectation that the Past could have been any Different.

The example I was given, was Corrie Ten Boom, a survivor of the Holocaust. After the war, that she survived, she later met a man who stopped her on the street in Berlin.

He said Corrie, Don’t you know who I am ? Yes, she did. Before her stood one of the guards that killed her family, in front of her, and terrorized her in the camps.

He asked her for forgiveness … And on that pass, she said Absolutely Not.

In time, she came to the Spiritual Battle Ground, where she learned about Faith, God, The Cross of Crucifixion, Jesus, and of Forgiveness.

She found forgiveness for that man.

When her story came to me, via my spiritual director, my very banal resentments and anger, paled in comparison to this very tragic story of suffering and death. I thought out loud that I could not compare my pain, to that pain of someone who survived the death camps.

I had to let go my pie in the sky expectations of the past, and get to the forgiveness prayer, for me, for them, to be free, finally, once in for all. Because I needed to move on with my life, and I truly needed to shut the door on this past story, forever.

I came to this point. I had a spiritual solution that worked.

I came to know that in the end, I COULD LET GO that old story and never have to tell it again, so long as I live…

I am Free …

We are imperfect humans, and as soon as we recognize that, within the frame work of the Spirituality of Imperfection, and we make that crucial decision to LIVE in the Spiritual Solution, we begin to live Freely, Humbly with Gratitude and Love.

The Solution to Sober Problems can be found in Spiritual Principles.

The Spirituality of Imperfection is a good place to start.

Monday: Wants versus Needs

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Just as material losses are not necessary to indicate alcoholism, material gains are not the true indications of sobriety.

We heard from another young lady tonight, and her story, “Student of Life.”

Growing up, in an alcoholic house, was tedious at best. But I did have certain lessons down pat. I knew how to take care of a home, and myself to a certain degree. I went to school, and did fairly well.

I was 13, I think, when I got my first job. I was a bag boy in a grocery store. It was the first of a string of jobs I would have. And I had some seriously good jobs. They were the best. I worked a season scooping ice cream. I worked a double header in two shops that fried chicken and hot wings. I was a short order cook for a while as well. I had the chops to do a good job and BE responsible.

My parents were not going to pay for college. My first year was a scholarship that went no where. The second, I have spoken about before, in Seminary. But that did not go anywhere either. Working for a living now competed with my drinking.

When the time came to move away, you’ve thought that I would carry all the things I already knew forwards. This theme does repeat itself …

Thinking that I would carry forward what I did know …

I knew the apartment I wanted, in the specific Orlando apartment complex, because of specific people I knew who lived there, and at 21, I wanted to be them, and damned the torpedoes. I had a new car, that I could not pay for, and the expensive apartment, well outside my means, and the inability to be responsible for any of it, because of my drinking.

You’ve thought that what little responsibility I knew about, would carry forwards…

All my wants … Did not square with the Responsibility that needed to exist and didn’t.

Because I was ruled by my addiction to alcohol.

Our writer tonight talks about the fact that she did not LOOSE anything, so she figured she wasn’t an alcoholic. But we also know that she had not lost anything, because she had NOTHING to loose, YET.

Loss is a common theme in my life, as is geographical cures, lies, and irresponsibility.

Within the first few months of moving away, I lost apartments, I lost a car, I lost jobs, I lost boyfriends. If it was not nailed down, I lost it.

Nothing in life was nailed down at all.

When I got sick and was going to die … I NEEDED to get sober. There were no two ways about it. If I was going to LIVE I was going to STOP drinking.

I had to stem the losses and get right. And that worked for a few years.

But listening to people telling me to go, disconnecting from meetings, and lying to my friends, and listening to the voice in my head, was very detrimental.

I’ve said before that, ask any alcoholic in the room, male or female, about the HOLE in the SOUL, and they will tell you that (If I ONLY had a relationship, everything would be better).

Not So Grasshopper …

My needs were warped to begin with, and the need for a human trumped my need to stay sober, in the end.

I pissed away four years sober for an imperfect human addict.

And in the end, I lost everything that I owned that time, and almost my life with it.

The first time I got sober, it was because I needed it.

The second time I got sober, was because I WANTED it.

The blackouts and the sickness came. And I just KNEW, I was DONE.

I prayed for that alcoholic to show up, and he did. Like clockwork.

When I moved to Montreal, I had 2 suitcases and 4 boxes. That was my life.

Not very much.

In my twenties, I could not hold down a job, make money, or have a solid home. But for a brief stint, when I got sick, I had a solid roof over my head, while Todd was in my life.

When I moved here, sobriety took the drivers seat. It was all I had. And I busted my ass for all these years, and now I am here. The Promises came, albeit, very slowly. In years 13 to today, my life has taken a serious turn, and I have arrived, in a place, I never thought I’d find in this life. Because I am not supposed to still be here.

I should have died, long ago. But it seems God has other plans.

I had to learn how to be responsible. One thing at a time, and nothing more. I learned to to be spiritually fit, from spiritually fit people.

Little do you know that setting down chairs, making coffee and shaking hands, is the prep work we get to do.

Those simple jobs of making a meeting, are the beginnings of a life of responsibility.

What a Grace. What an absolute Grace. Sad, many people don’t see it that way.

One of my friends said tonight that, the Program is to help us become Spiritually Fit. And in the end, if it works right, We find Spiritually fit people, who can help spiritually Unfit people, get better. But, it has come to pass, and the lesson applies to many … You might have the time, but not necessarily be sober.

Sobriety comes little by slowly. What I failed to carry forwards as a young person, and even in my twenties and from Todd, specifically … I got my Do Over.

I’ve been in Do Over Territory for a long time. All those things we failed to learn when we were young or while we drank, we get to relearn. We get to try again. We get to get it right.

How many normal people who fail at life and give up, they don’t get their do over… We in the rooms get that grace and we get our Do Over.

I know who I am. I know my goals, dreams, values, and boundaries, and I know how to protect, nurture, and validate them. Those are the true rewards of sobriety, and they’re what i was looking for all along. I am so grateful that my Higher Power stepped in to show me the way to the truth. I pray every day that I never turn my back on it. I came to A.A. in order to stop drinking; what i received in return was my life.

Truer words were never spoken …

 

 

 

 

Jeudi – La Dixiem Etape – The Tenth Step

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God, Let me have a new experience, Let me see the truth …

My new and improved meeting schedule began on Monday night, with a meeting, right down the hill from home. A ten minute walk through the tunnel to Georges Vanier Metro.

Now I know, where several of my friends disappeared to, when they left meetings we used to do together. This particular Monday Meeting is a Big Book study …

Like I can’t get enough of the book as it is.

Tonight, I attended my first meeting in French. In all these years of meetings, I never ventured across the solitude’s for a French meeting, because  I’m Anglo.

My friends, including my sponsor opened this meeting, specifically to open a “New Experience” for folks who want something a bit different. It’s a carbon copy of the Sunday Night meeting, being a literature discussion, only in French.

Having read the Big Book for all these years, in English, I know what it says. And after all these years talking about said book, I know what to say, on various topics. We read from the Book tonight, and the 10th Step.

Not shying away from a challenge, They asked me to read first, which I had a huge paragraph, in French, I read like a Boss… When the share went around the room, I was on the tail end, so I had time to think about what I wanted to say, I just needed to find the right words, in the right tense, in the right order. And I was able to speak “In French” for the first time, in a room full of Francophone folks.

And we talked about The Tenth Step. Having just completed these steps with my sponsor, I knew the territory and what I wanted to say. I think I made sense, in the end. Everybody was proud of my effort.

My friends were impressed with the fact that I made the effort to talk, and not just sit there and not say a word. It always goes, if you make the effort, and not hit the nail on the head, people understand. But if you don’t try, it’s a bad reflection on you.

I had a French Big Book here at home that I was reading off and on all week, practicing my reading and comprehension. Like I said, I know the book, so reading it in French was really not a stretch. I understand and comprehend more than I give myself credit for.

Learning a second language “in the rooms” is sometimes easier than learning it in a classroom. Because on both sides, the words are exactly the same. However, the French Big Book, is twice as FAT as the English Big Book.

My Francophone friends use English meetings to practice and hone their English, in the same way, I want to practice and hone my French, the same way. Knowing people in said meeting makes it a bit easier, because if I get stuck, I get help.

But, You Must Make the Effort …