Blow Up … There IS a Solution

I Lost My Cookies Tonight, It Was Not Pretty At All … Rigorous Honesty Post

Almost eighteen years ago, I came in for the second time, SO, I’ve had my slip experience. The first time I got sober, nobody spoke of steps, and I did not have a sponsor, I had Todd, who was teaching me how to survive AIDS. The meeting hall I was attending was very toxic and made getting sober, harder than anything I have ever seen since.

You don’t bet on newcomers to see when they will drink again, you just do not do that.

When I came into Montreal, in month 4, when I moved here, I walked into the room that I homed in for over twelve years. I was going to MANY meetings at that time, as I had no other activity going on before I got my Canadian Papers.

In those eighteen years, the way I got and stayed sober, was by watching what everyone else was doing, what they were saying, what decisions they were making. Along with working my own program, with men who really helped me seal my sobriety. I took the good, and I left the bad. Whatever worked for you, I thought that it would work for me, but obviously, if you drank again, I did NOT … And that’s the way I stayed sober.

It has not been all a cake walk. And I have had my share of trouble in sobriety, BUT, I did not drink, at any point during the hard times. I returned to that original Home Group many months ago.

And like I’ve said, Sobriety in 2019, is not the same as Sobriety in 2002. It just isn’t. For many reasons. In the rooms, over the years, I have stuck with winners. With people, Old and Young, who are enthusiastic about the Book and the Steps. I work my steps every year. I hit several meeting a week, all of them different. I have a solid sponsor, and solid friends in the program.

Recently, I sit in beginners meetings, and all I hear from our kids is sorrow, and pain, and for the life of me, I try to help those who will listen to anything I have to tell them about staying sober, and NOT drinking again.

It has become obvious that many of those folks, did not/and do not, listen to anything I have said to them, and tonight I heard them say, in the open, that they are hurt that I would be so rigorously honest, IN a meeting.

How dare I speak as if I am better than they are.
I am not better than anyone. And those people who know me intimately know this.

But I listen. And I watch. Over the last few months, many folks sit in meetings, they don’t take anything home with them, they don’t call anyone, they don’t do anything to stave off that next drink AND: THEY DRINK AGAIN. And More Than Once.

One of our kids said she took twenty five beginners chips. She’s been stuck in that revolving door for YEARS. I watched her. She never listened to anything I said, in both fellowships we both attend, that I don’t any more.

But I said and I quote:

I am tired of going of beginners meetings. it is painful to watch people come in, be miserable, and know there is a solution, but because I am who I am, nothing I have is very attractive to ANYONE. So Fuck me for trying. I’ve been sitting in this hall for the whole of my sobriety, and I can tell you, by name, how many people drank again, and again, and again. I know everyone who did. Because if I saw you go out, I knew that something that you were doing, was not working for you, so I knew not to make that mistake myself.

I stayed sober, while many people did not.

There are only three men, sitting in this room right now, who were here when I came in, and all three of us are still sober. Obviously, we did something right. Obviously, we found the solution NOT to drink again, and that entails WORK.

When people ask me for help and I tell them what I did that worked, that work entails WORK, not just sitting in a chair, and reading the book, now and then. You actually have to work to stay sober, you just don’t get sober by OSMOSIS.

I know how many of you are suffering and I know the women are no doing well by the rate of how many of you have drank, several times over the last month, but because we are men, you won’t ask for help, when the women aren’t helping you stay sober, it is obvious those women are doing something wrong if what they are telling you, does not work AND you drank again.

I pound the God Damned pavement. I seek answers, I work the Book, BY the Book. I seek information in the most enthusiastic in the rooms. And I know what they know, so whatever I have to give, comes directly from someone, who gave that knowledge to me.

By the time I had finished, my friends were sitting a bit higher in their chairs, and All I heard after I shared was indignation by everyone else who shared after me.

All because I said something Rigorously Honest.

We read How It Works tonight. And we all know what that reading says:

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it – then you are ready to take certain steps.

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely.

Remember that we deal with alcohol – cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power – that One is God. May you find Him now!

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Many of us exclaimed “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholics and could not manage our own lives;

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism;

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

This is IN the Book, we hear it at every meeting. And really, many people do not pay attention to the words. And I know from reading “Our Great Responsibility,” that Bill took great care with crafting the Steps based on the Oxford Group Six steps. He augmented the steps to make sure there was no wiggle room. Hence Twelve Steps.

Many early alcoholics who saw the first few chapters of the book, as it had been written in the 1930’s, were angry that Bill included so much God and so much Honesty.

I was rigorously honest tonight, and I am sure I made many enemies tonight, because I called out half measures, as the reading also speaks about. And I told the truth. I spoke about THE Solution. And that there is one.

And I closed with, we come here to learn how to STOP. How many people have I watched over the past few years, read the Big Book, cover to cover, and get to the LAST Chapter, and it tells us how to STAY STOPPED and that we NEVER have to drink again …

And I watched a number of those men and women DRINK AGAIN…

That just BLOWS my Fucking mind.

I mean really, people are afraid of honesty better yet, Rigorous Honesty. I say I can help you, but that will take some work on your part, and what does everybody say to that:

OH I DON”T WORK, I DON’T PRAY, AND I DON’T DO GOD !!!

Ok, then how the fuck are you going to stay sober when you’ve negated everything you must do, there are TWO MUSTS in the book, things we must do to stay sober, what are you going to do when the drink is in your hand and you chose to drink it rather that put that drink down and call someone who can help you?

We need to drop the walls between men and women, gay and straight, Non-Binary and Trans. We need to be able to ask ANYONE who has something to offer, has something like part of or all of the solution, ready for anyone who will listen, help you NOT take that next drink !

God give me strength …

I’m so tired of going to meeting where all people want to do is piss and moan about how miserable they are, knowing some of us sitting in that same room, are sober multiple years, decades even, who know what to do, but you won’t come up and ask, because we might ask you to do something, like Work, or Pray, or Step Work, and we know you won’t ask, because you don’t do WORK.

FUCK ME !!!

Sobriety Challenge

Procrastination is “Sloth” in five syllables.

We’ve heard over the last little while, what one needs to do to get sober, and then stay sober. One of my friends tonight said that when he came in, a few years before me, that at that time, he was so tired and burned, and mentally empty, that he had to just chill out for a while, and allow the message to seep into his addled brain.

After a little while, and going to meetings, he began to get involved a little deeper. At a particular business meeting, he was not sure about taking a service position, and an old timer looked at him and asked, “Why did you not take a position?” He did not have an answer. She then said to him:

WELL YOU ARE JUST A TAKER.

That really riled him up to the point where, Fuck You could be heard within his head. For a while he ruminated over that judgment. But not long after he decided he should bite the bullet and get active.

When I came in in 2001, I was just as tired and my brain was mush. Thank God I could go to the same meeting, seven nights a week, in the same location, at the same time, a 10 pm meeting, not far from home. A walkable distance.

For months, I sat in those meetings, and listened to people read me the books, because each night was a different presentation. So at least I was sober, albeit, a little bit, and I was hearing the Big Book being read to me.

When I moved to Montreal and got situated at Tuesday Beginners, I’d been going to meetings all over the island, and met my next sponsor. At eleven months I was ready to engage, and I asked about step work of him, and his response was “well I don’t do step work.” Much to my surprise.

He did not remain my sponsor very long afterwards. And that man eventually drank again.

My next sponsor bought me a fourth edition Big Book, and got me involved in my first seventeen week Big Book Study. One of many to follow.

Over the years, I’ve read the entire book, cover to cover, five times in as many years. A full read cover to cover, in a meeting setting, takes about fourteen months in total.

I did my last round last summer into the fall. And I hit Big Book meetings, and a Step/Traditions meeting as well. So I am reading both texts during the week, and dong step work in the Twelve and Twelve meeting on Wednesday nights. I’ve got anew sponsor now, and that is working for me.

Thursday night, we heard an old timer speak truth. He said that if you come in and you don’t stay, then you just Keep Coming Back, until it sticks. He also said that at some point warming a chair becomes useless, at some point you are going to have to start reading the Book, and doing the work.

Because once we stop drinking, the reason why we drank was a lack of power. And in sobriety, lack of power can be our downfall, unless we do the work necessary to change that trend to find a Power Greater than Ourselves to help us make sense of sobriety.

He also said, to those of us with some time and experience, that if we are further up the pike than others, and we have something that works, a method, a path, a way to really step up your game, then it falls to us to share that with somebody else, and not put our lamps under a bushel basket, to use a biblical analogy.

I’ve been talking to a new young person as of late, because we hit the same meetings, and he has a little light, and is receptive about The Work and The Book. So we’ve been talking over coffee and before meetings as of last week.

A few nights ago, I presented him with a sobriety challenge, since he was so keen to share about the book and how important to the book and work was to him.

After following Bob’s Three, Seven, Eleven shuffle … The prayers right out of the book, in steps three, seven and eleven, that changed my life in spades a few years ago, the very same shuffle I still do to this day, I gave him this very same plan. Bought him a journal for his tenth step inventory, and directed him to a You Tube Video of Lorna talking about Nikos Kazanzatkis when he says that:

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

Bob says that if you don’t pray, then why not, because every time you pray, you ratchet up your spiritual life and your sobriety. He said that if I prayed my life would change, and I believed him and I did what he told me to do, without fail or complaint.

MY LIFE DID CHANGE IN SPADES.

If you are always going to the easy path, and not stepping out of your comfort zone and reaching for the Brass Ring, then why bother, you are not going to learn anything new or see something new in sobriety.

I had it all written out on index cards. With the journal, and the step work.

When I asked him about his prayer life, he said he had one, but it was the easy out. He did not prescribe to the book. So I asked him for thirty days to do the Shuffle with me.

He balked.

Oh, I don’t pray. I don’t do God. And I don’t do what the Big Book says, even though we talked over the last month about:

PEOPLE WHO GO TO BIG BOOK MEETINGS AND READ THE BIG BOOK, USUALLY DO WHAT THE BIG BOOK SAYS…

It was obvious my sober young man, is not one of those people.

On Thursday he came to the meeting and avoided me he did not say one word to me or come over to greet me either. Tonight, he skipped the meeting all together.

It was obvious to me that I was barking up the wrong tree, and that I was wasting my time. And I should just let this lie for now.

So you see … If you cannot step out of your comfort zone and push your program forward and you rest on the time you have and you don’t expand your horizons in sobriety, then you are JUST WARMING A CHAIR.

Going to meetings can carry you only so far. At some point, you will have to get off your ass and do something concrete, or you will turn and isolate, stop going to meetings, rest on your laurels:

AND DRINK AGAIN.

I know a certain path that works for me, that guarantees me not to drink on a daily basis. I know it works, because I am working on eighteen years this year, and I haven’t had a drink in all that time.

And when I challenge people with something new that I think can help someone get farther up that road …

THEY LOOK AT ME LIKE I AM FROM MARS …

Fuck me for trying.

Short Changed …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She is right.

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

I make COFFEE !

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

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

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

There is a difference.

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

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

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

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

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

My sponsor agreed with me on this the other day.

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

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

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

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

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

That is a shame.

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

I won’t be sort changed any longer.

Working with Others

I listen to a very small number of sober folks today. I hear a lot of talking, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other, because why waste mental space on people who don’t have anything I want, RIGHT?

For a very long time, I was not sure I had anything to offer the public, in the way of working with others. I stuck close to service. I made a lot of coffee, and have at least two church keys on my key ring today. I am an opener of meetings, a setter upper, a greeter and an all around welcome wagon to several meetings across town today.

Twelve years would pass, before I hit the presentation of THE WORK. Twelve years of running by the book in service, presence, and sharing when appropriate. Still, I was not sure, that I had anything to give away, which helped me, in retrospect, hone my skills at listening attentively, feeling compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

Until the time came when I heard the message I needed to hear, from the right person to change my life and my sobriety.

Lorna warns us of the fragility of people with “Time” in the rooms, not necessarily the newcomer, per se. She says that “Those are the people we should pay close attention to.” For certain reasons, I don’t need to elaborate right now.

Bob, another member who came here in 2012, to the West Island Round Up, the same event Lorna attended too. It was Bob who turned me on to THE WORK, (i.e. the Big Book), and Prayer, (i.e. the 3, 7, 11 shuffle). He told the crowd of people gathered there all this same information. Nobody listened to him.

I, on the other hand, went to him, after his talk and inquired about how to make all this work. He told me what to do. I went home, and did exactly as he said to do. I wrote down the 3rd, 7th, and 11th step prayers, and laminated them and put them on my computer.

And I prayed every day, several times a day, for as long as it took to change my life. Because he told us that if we did pray, and in time, we would become spiritually fit and then the universe (read: God) would order things as He saw fit.

That took about seven months of fervent prayer, not always perfect, but I did my best to pray, honestly and humbly.

One Tuesday night I was sitting in a meeting, and about halfway through my phone rang … very out of the ordinary. Who would be calling me, I had no idea. Nonetheless, I stepped outside and answered the call.

A good thing too.

On the other end was a hysterical young person, who got my number from who, I don’t know, but he called me. That was the day I had something to offer another human being in the program.

That sparked a series of life events that changed the course of my sobriety.

Today I sponsor a few men and women. I have worked my steps. Several times. I’ve read the Big Book through from cover to cover, four times in six years. I finished my last round of steps last fall, with a young person I really wanted what they had. That was a good thing.

A Vision for You says … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …” It took me a long time to trust that I had something to give away, and we don’t know that we’ve even got it ourselves, Lorna is apt to say, “Until we give it away.”

That’s my story and I am sticking to it…

Honest Appraisal

Yesterday my wise friend said a few things to me, directly.

He told me I needed to stop talking and start walking. He also said that, now that I had created a huge space in my life, by taking away the part that was problematic for a period of time, that I would need to find something to fill that gap with. He said I needed to shut up and put up.

Sometimes your friends know what is good for us. For me.

Tonight we talked about Step 10. “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.”

A long time ago, at one point, in the history of my former home group, that I am part of again today, we were three men. At one point, a group of women walked in, and asked to join the group.

We were overjoyed.

Those women, who came from different places, now residing here, came to us, with a practice already in place, with the women each of them were working with. They came religiously, Early! Two by two. Hours early. And they read their Big Books together. And each night, we heard them mention doing something particular … A written tenth step with a phone call the next morning with their respective sponsors.

They guys were watching this, and we said out loud, to each other, AND to the women present, that we too wanted to do this too. Women here, only work with women, not the men. So we, the men, had to figure out what it was we were seeing done, and to replicate it ourselves.

It took some time. But eventually we figured it out.

I have a specific ritual I follow daily. I start my day with meditation, I read my teacher’s morning post, that he puts up daily. And I go into my day. I don’t usually plan my days, because they are open, and I wait for opportunity to show up.

At the end of my day, I used to practice a certain task.

Monday morning, I took the action to remove that practice from my life, for a permanent period of time. Forcing me to straighten out my life, once and for all. To be honest with another human being, with my failures and faults, to own up to them and to begin trying something new, in the space that is now open to me.

My friend told me to find the action I needed to take to begin walking the walk, instead of just talking about it. Direct …

I’ve been coasting in sobriety for a long time, waiting patiently for the right old timer to walk up to me and say – Hey let’s do something together.

I’ve been waiting. But honestly, the sober bracket I am in is empty of others in the same bracket I am in, the 17 to 20 year bracket. Most of the old timers I know are over the 25 to 30 year bracket and are on their own journeys. So they don’t necessarily engage us younger men. That is lacking.

Tonight I made the God connection that began on Sunday. I know what to do. But I’ve been slacking. Too much. I have not stepped up into my own sobriety and do something concrete, because I’ve been coasting for so long, waiting for inspiration.

On the odd occasion, as it happens for me, God tried to get my attention, and I missed the calls. The end stage is, if you aren’t paying attention, God drops the wall on you. (Cue Sunday’s Prophetic Dream).

Ok, I heard you. I am listening. I took that dream to the only other human, familiar with the issue, because he has his own and we talked. And he set me straight, so to speak.

I know the book. I know the steps. I know the work. I just have not been connecting all three together.

I have the time, and now I have the inspired thought and I know what I have to do. The ball, had already been set in motion, with a handful of people I am present for.

I need the focus, the direct focus to make solid changes that stick.

Taking away a waste of effort and juice, was the first necessary step to become focused, unlike I have been all along.

When you point inner energy into a specific effort by removing the wastage, and the blocking, physically and spiritually, you get true energy that is useful and you get to utilize that energy in pin point form.

If there is something wrong in the world, it usually follows that the problem resides in me. I am not the center of the universe. And acceptance is the key to all of my problems.

I went to great lengths to stop a problem. I needed to find the focal point, and I need to shut up and put up, stop talking and start walking.

I think I know what that means at the moment.

More to come.

17 Sober Holidays

Another successful holiday is in the books. The plans I’d spent weeks and months putting together, came to fruition. The good thing about being sober, so long, is that, we get to chose with whom we celebrate the holidays with and why.

In my experience, And I said this to one of my guys tonight, after dinner, was this … Not in the last few years, have I ever witnessed another sober human being, walk up to me and say those magic words, and they are:

“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”

Lorna and Bob, two long sober members from New York spoke these words to us, in person, a number of years ago. There are only a few people, guys I work with, who heard these words too, because I have shared them with my guys. It was obvious, when we sat together as a Round Up Group, many folks I know, forgot those words. And I muse that, when I was in a difficult place, nobody had those words, as Lorna says are “Of Ever Lasting Life.”

There are folks, I know today, when I show up to particular meetings, out of my regular schedule, like tonight’s meeting on Christmas Night, at my old home group where I spent the first TWELVE YEARS of my sobriety, say to me, “Why don’t you call me ever?” Most people I socialize with already have my number, because I give it freely.

If I give someone my number, there is a reason I do that. So that THEY would use it, when I ask them to use it. People don’t like being told what to do, even when they tell me they are in difficulty, and they ask my advice and sit and listen to what I say in response. Usually couched in my response, if not spoken directly is this … “If you ask me for advice, and I give it freely, because I make time for all of my friends, is that you reciprocate!”

I walked into a meeting with one of my dinner guests tonight, and half a dozen people noticed what I was or wasn’t wearing. I was out of my usual choice of clothing, because I was entertaining tonight, so I went a little conservative, instead of my sporty spice look. They did not ask me how I was doing, or wish me Merry Christmas, they only wanted to comment on my outfit.

A handful of others, as I made the rounds before the meeting, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas that was sitting in the room, and shaking every hand, said to me …”Why don’t you ever call me?” My standard response came out quite easily. “If you really wanted to speak to me, you, yourself, would pick up that 2000 pound phone and use it for the purpose it was made for … To Be Used.

How much does a cell phone weigh, I ask you ?

Folks know I am reachable, 24 hours a day, and that I always answer my phone. I just don’t go out of my way, with just any alcoholic, to spend time, listening to them piss and moan. Tonight, there were a number of miserable young people sitting in the meeting. Kids, who, last year, celebrated their first sober holiday in living memory, many of them made it to year two. Because I told them, to their faces, that “if they stayed sober over last Christmas, that they indeed would stay sober.” Many of them listened to that advice and were successful. A handful did not make it. And were back for round two tonight. I watch my young people closely. I am present for all of them. I show up, so that THEY show up too.

So many people are miserable in their lives, and those people drink. There are also miserable people in sobriety, and they don’t drink. I talk to my guys often about this paradox. People stop drinking, yet they maintain their misery, like a rock around their necks.

When really … They can jettison that rock at any moment. When I say that to them, they look at me quizzically, as if to say, “Yeah Right.” You make it sound so easy. And things are easier said than done. Because folks make that conscious decision to remain miserable and sad.

We read from the Big Book and A Vision For You tonight. The portion of the passage that says at some point we come to the day that we cannot imagine life WITH alcohol or WITHOUT it. THEN, we will know loneliness unlike anything we ever known. And we reach the jumping off point.

We will want the end.

The reading goes on to speak of the fellowship and what we can do for each other, when we reach the jumping off point. When you come to your Home Group, and you connect, and you STAY, your life will change.

I show up so that others see me show up to tell them that ANYTHING is possible. It CAN be DONE. It takes Work. Consistency. Faith. and Action.

People WITH TIME, look at me strangely. People with little time look at me strangely. They cannot figure out, why I am so serene and happy.

Vulnerability takes Courage.

For a couple of years, I’ve been vulnerable. I speak my mind. I share honestly, and to the point. I am out there, in good times, and in bad times. I tell people when I am feeling sad, or angry, or happy. I no longer edit my words in public. People do not like it when I am deadly honest. People cannot understand why I speak honestly and with soul.

I am an Alcoholic who wants to get well. To live a good life. To know why I tick the way I tick, and to work on my character defects and shortcomings.

We might work steps, some more often than others. Many forget that Steps Six and Seven are the steps we work for the rest of our lives, on a daily basis.

My guys know this. And they struggle the same way I struggle, when they come to me and ask my advice, when sometimes I have no idea what to say to them, as I tell them how I dealt with those very same issues. The only way I know how to help another human is to tell them the truth, even if I don’t have a clue, what I am supposed to say, at least I say something.

Over the weekend I was home alone. And I rang up a friend, I’ve known for more than forty years now. Facebook, that necessary evil, makes it possible to keep in touch with people who matter to me, sober or not.

She asked me about me, and I asked her about her. I told her my story, and she told me one of hers. She said, and I quote … “If you don’t concentrate on your step work when it comes to certain people in my life, actually STEP the exact issue, you are going to become as bitter and angry as they are.”

She goes on … You know steps better than I do, of course I do, she’s not one of us. But she knows enough about me today, that she can offer that kind of advice, because I will listen to her when she talks to me. Because, we often don’t have an opportunity to talk for over an hour, like we did Sunday night. She was right. I shared that at the meeting tonight.

Everybody looked at me strangely. What are you talking about? I knew what I was talking about. Now I know what I can do now. The conundrum of sobriety is this … There aren’t a whole lot of people I want to talk to, to any depth, because only a handful of people I know today, would even offer to invest in me. Even sober …

A long timer said tonight, that he’d been hitting many more meetings than usual because his shift at work has changed. But he notices the disparity of not a whole lot of long sober people. They are either moved away, sick themselves, or dead. He hangs around with NEW BLOOD. He sees how many of us, who were around or, more, still around from the years when we got sober together. Few of us, are still around.

There are too many chair warmers. People want to get sober. Yet, they don’t want to put in the time and the work necessary, to get where some of us are, on the path to happy, joyous and free.

Not long ago, one of my kids, after facing a raft of losses in his life, walked into the meeting, on Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, and said to me and to God, as I stood there “Where are the fucking PROMISES?” God certainly has not dropped them on me,” at his almost ninety days of sobriety.

New comers hear us read those pesky promises day in day out, week in and week out. And they suppose that God is gonna drop Promises on them like Manna from Heaven, as needed, with no toil or tilling the ground so that the garden bears fruit.

A garden is not gonna bear fruit or anything, if you aren’t going to get your hands dirty, and get down and dirty in the mud with the rest of us. So many people want the PAYOUT with no LABOR.

I look at them and a giggle to myself. If you only knew.

Promises don’t drop out of heaven like Manna. They come when you invest in THE WORK. And you put your time in getting sober. You just cannot walk in the door and expect God to just lay it on you because you just walked in the room.

Because that’s exactly what I said when I came in this second time around. I actually gave God a list of “Things I wanted, Expected, because I HAD ARRIVED!”

Long Sober folks laughed at me and said: KEEP COMING BACK !

Talk about lessons in humility.

I worked my ass off for the whole of my sobriety. My best friend said it all when I took my 17th chip a couple of weeks ago … I don’t stop, I am always looking for the next big challenge. I ask people for help, even if they are less sober than I am. Newcomers saved my ass this past year. My lady friends who worked steps with me changed my life in ways I cannot explain.

Some of my kids are lock, stock and barrel, Confident Adult Women.

I’ve watched them grow up around me and in front of my own eyes. And that is what I wanted this round. So I asked for help, and help arrived. Because I was willing to sit, read, and to listen.

Because some of my women have solid, hard core sponsors, who don’t hand out bull shit, but expect hard work and honesty from their women. Some of my friends HAVE IT. Many do not. But they could, if they put in the work to get better, instead of pissing and moaning about how miserable they are in sobriety.

And I am oft to say … You know if what we have does not work for you, we’ll refund you your sobriety, and you can go drink again, and see if that works better.

Common wisdom of people who are long sober, or sober longer than I am, say this … Alcoholism might stalk me in the back of my head, and I hear it speak to me and woo me into the false idea that a drink would be nice.

Long timers, who are sober twenty plus years, know the kinds of drinkers and addicts they were when they got sober. They know how insane their lives were, and none of us are going to give it up for the chance to try some new drug or flavor of alcohol that some of our young kids drank or drugged with.

Our young people have that conscious choice in front of them. They can root and stay, and work and learn, and get better, OR they can warm a chair and bide their time, until the opportune moment they can say FUCK IT and go back out and drink and use some more.

Common wisdom also says that the odds of finding a better buzz, or a better drug, on a relapse will be better, is false. Because eventually you are going to wind up in a worse place the next time they chose to use, a bigger jackpot, even jail, or institution, or God Forbid, DEATH.

I know misery. I’ve been miserable too. And I am one of those men who will admit that in open community. Not many pay attention to anything I say.

But if I wear something irregular, they WILL SAY something to me.

Funny that !

I don’t have time for misery or anger or bitterness. My nuclear family have invested, lock, stock, and barrel on the alcohol, and the misery, anger and bitterness. Because they speak to me in those kinds of words.

I know those words. And from my mouth to God’s ears …

I WILL NEVER BECOME YOU !

I’ve been sober now seventeen Christmases. I’ve been sober longer than all the years I spent drinking and drugging. I’ve spent more holidays sober now, than I have ever, in my life, even as a kid. Because in my family, alcohol was a food group. If you did anything, it was bracketed by an alcoholic beverage of some kind. Beer or Spirits.

I’ve never been so cognizant of how subtle the fine line of sanity and insanity. Because I skate on that line often. And I know how precarious that skate is sometimes. So I stick with the winners. I suit up and I show up for my life, on a daily basis.

I heard a guy talk on Instagram earlier before I started writing this post and he said … IF YOU WANT CHANGE, IT IS EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY !!!

EVERY DAY !!!

CONSISTENTLY, RELIGIOUSLY, WHEN YOU WANT TO AND WHEN YOU DON’T. WHEN PEOPLE SEE YOU, AND WHEN THEY DON’T.

IF YOU AREN’T IN THE ARENA WITH ME GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED LIKE ME, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOUR CRITICISM.

Brene Brown … The Man in the Arena Speech. Teddy Roosevelt.

CHEAP SEATS ARE EASY. GET IN THE ARENA AND FIGHT FOR GOD’S SAKE. BECAUSE IF YOU AREN’T FIGHTING LIKE ME, YOU HAVE NO ROOM TO CRITICIZE ME.

Some sober folks are in the cheap seats, and they want to criticize, and not do any heavy lifting. Sobriety isn’t cheap seats, work. Sobriety is IN THE ARENA FIGHTING FOR ONES LIFE and SANITY.

Merry Christmas !



Pivotal Moments in Time

I hope that for the rest of your life, every night that you close your eyes, that you see my sons dead body in front of you …

It was April of 1993.

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of times.

Little did I know, on one particular day, how bad things could get. What I did not know then, was that things would get progressively worse, and almost take me down with it.

We had worked a fortnight, building the bar from the ground up. I did not sleep, for many hours, during the build period. And it was with great pride and respect, to my fellow men, that the bar opened with great fan fare at the beginning of April 1993. I bar tended that night. And made a ton of money.

The following Sunday, I was at my day job, I still had a day job then. It was a normal day, so I thought, until my mother called me. Which was totally out of character for her, because we had a love hate relationship. She asked me if I had seen James at all, which I replied … NO.

She then offered that his mother had called MY Mother, telling her that James was missing and that I needed to find him.

I met James in a bar one night, and we hit it off. Life, as a young alcoholic who was drinking to be seen, made being seen, a priority. And while it lasted, I took advantage of every moment that I was being seen. I did not know that James was a serial LIAR, and that he would end up being the most irresponsible, deceptive and secretive man I had ever met.

He strung a series of lies together, and disappeared for days, weeks, and months at a time, without a word. He cheated behind my back, and never amended his behavior.

But what stung the most was his most dastardly act.

We had not been together for some time, by the time my mother made that call, that Sunday afternoon, about him being missing.

I would eventually quit my day job, opting to work full time at the bar, in the ensuing days. I sent word out that James was missing, and nobody had any idea where he was. Six days later, it was the cops who found him.

I got a call that morning, by the Fort Lauderdale Police, that James’s body had been found, in an apartment on the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale. It was a nondescript apartment complex, I had never visited before.

A detective met me at my car, and asked me to sit in his cruiser with him, while the coroner did his job. It was hours, before they released me. James was dead. How and why he died, I would not know for some time, the answers came in stages.

The next day, I received a call from the coroners office, asking me to come to the morgue and identify what was left of James. I remember it clearly, as if it were yesterday. Because of the curse his mother uttered to me, after I had done, what I had to do.

I walked into the hallway of the building, an exam room to the left and one to the right. It was hazy, because I was sobbing.

The coroner slid back the curtain, and I could see James, stuck amid a scream, plainly etched on what was left of his face. He was still wearing jewelry I had given him. It only lasted a couple of minutes. I made the positive ID and was stuck in place, as I sobbed uncontrollably. It was the most piteous of sobbing. I just could not contain myself.

James was gone. I had just signed the papers to ship his body home to his family. I called to tell them that he was on his way home, wherein his mother laid out that curse, that reverberates in the back of my brain.

To This Very Night …

I tell you this story, because it was a pivotal moment in my life, a year before I had my last drink. The first time.

I left the coroners office and headed for the bar, where I was employed full time now. I cried all the way there, and then some more.

I drank enough liquor that night to kill an elephant. That was just the beginning…

A week would go by, and I was inconsolable. Todd and Bill knew they had to do something, because I was drinking way too much. Their first attempt to help me, was to get me into therapy. So I sat for weeks and weeks, in a Survivors of Suicide Therapy group.

Every night, the same stories. Mothers, Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters, telling the same stories of how their respective family members had killed themselves.

Do you think that stemmed my drinking ???

Not One Bit !!!

At one point, my after hours drinking, became, sitting in a bar at Seven in the Morning … I crossed that invisible line I drew for myself. Because I realized that I had begun drinking in the morning. Which was a harbinger of really bad things to come.

It was on one of those Seven AM Drinking sprees, that was my death knell. I know, well, I did not know, or want to know the ramifications of my personal behavior.

But my alcoholism was always tied, inextricably to SEX.

When someone you trust tells you that to become “ONE OF,” and the only way to become ONE OF, was to go to the bar and drink. Alcoholism was just waiting for me, the very first day I was let out of the chute.

It was only a few number of years, before I crossed that invisible line in “alcoholic” behavior. From twenty One to Twenty Five I was an uncontrollable alcoholic, but nobody ever said the word STOP.

Alcoholics have certain parameters we use to judge how BAD our drinking would get. Drinking in the morning is one of them. There is a fine line there, between nightly drinking, and drinking in the morning.

I NEVER drank in the morning. I never had liquor in any home I ever lived in. I always had to go out to get it.

A year would pass.

I sat in that therapy room for months, listening to the same odd stories of death and loss, and that only made me drink MORE.

Until the night that TODD SAID STOP…

He was through watching me drinking myself into the ground. The month before I got sober, July of 1994, I was diagnosed with AIDS. And NOW, I was drinking to kill myself. I was not going to go down in misery, like MANY of my friends had sunken into and died. Alone …

I hit my first meeting. And I stayed sober for four years, because Todd swore that he would never let me die. In that he succeeded.

But the Alcoholic Will Drink Again …

Alcoholics Anonymous is not perfect. And alcoholics are imperfect as well. But an alcoholic TODAY, would never tell someone, sitting in a meeting to GO AWAY and NEVER COME BACK ! Because if you misspeak and say something crass or irresponsible, you might just sign someone’s death certificate.

My eighteen month slip was long and arduous. But I made it back, thank God. Times have changed. And I am still sober today.

I heard a suicide story tonight. And clearly, I identified. I was right back there, standing in the coroners office. And said as much to our speaker after the meeting.

There are pivotal moments in our lives when SHIT HAPPENS.

Some people make it, many others DO NOT.

Like we heard tonight, you know something is wrong, when you STOP going to meetings. And the committee in your head starts to speak in whispers.

That glass of wine, isn’t a slip.
You’re not an alcoholic.
Nobody will know.

Suffering tragic loss, in any form is devastating. Sometimes you just cannot drag yourself back from the brink of death. Or another drink …

Then again, The Grace of God can be miraculous.

Sometimes getting out of hell, needs a little miracle, to jump start the process of healing and sobriety.

I know few people in this place, whose miracle came, not a minute too soon, for us. And I stand with my friend tonight, speaking words of truth when we both can say, that the second time around is NOT a cake walk.

The first time is a gift, the second time, you have to work for it.

I was telling a friend of mine, before tonight’s meeting, that not a whole lot of people, like or even respect my sober journey. Most people think I am a little off base and crazy. But I told him how I operated. It was his choice to either take what I offered him or throw it into the dustbin of pointless conversations.

There are no pointless conversations in sobriety. Because you never know when something you say will impact someone in a way you never expected. And my friend said to me that he knows, for sure, that there are specific young people, who heard me speak words to them, and because of those words, those young people are still sober today.

Because of one act of kindness in a time of intense need.

Suicide is a serious issue. You never know when shit will happen. We just need to be present and listen intently to our friends, and know, for certain, that the time to act is NOW, and not LATER.

There is help out there. If you ever think that the end is better than perseverance though pain, to get to the other side,

THERE IS HELP.

MAKE THE CALL.

You are Not Alone !!!