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 !!!


Sufficient Memory …

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“…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 or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink.” pg. 24

“yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that. It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. There you will find release from care, boredom and worry. Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last. The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship, and so will you.” pg. 152

The former passage, I read with my sponsor as we are working through the Big Book together right now. And I have to say that, right now, tonight, I have more notes and perspective written in the margins and underlined in the passages, than I have ever had before. My book is marked up and high-lit with notes from my sponsor that I had never seen in all the years I have been reading my book with people in the past.

The second passage comes after we open A Vision for you, as we read, the harrowing passages about oblivion coming to the words …

“As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness settle down. It thickened, ever becoming blacker. Some of us sought out sordid places, hoping to find understanding companionship and approval. Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand.” pg. 151

Throughout the Book, we are visited with the ghosts of former alcoholics who went to the bitter end, blotting out everything around them. Over and over again, Bill and the first 100 writers of the book, tell us stories.

For all those men and women, the miracle happened and they got and stayed sober. So that the rest of us who have come along behind them, can know how bad it got for them, and for many, we heard tonight, all went there, themselves …

A Vision for You does not start out strong in the hope department for sure. It throws down the gauntlet, one more time, then proceeds to tell us that once we get sober, and clean up our lives, shit does get real … and that The Most Satisfactory years of your existence are ahead.

Many of my friends, farther back on the road, have walked, in as many months, a very hard road. I watched many of them struggle, but they persisted. Shit is getting real for many people. And I get a front row seat to watch and participate in the rehabilitation of lives on a nightly basis.

It is like day and night for many. Life is good all the way around. Many of our Down and outers, who never imagined that life could get so good, are besides themselves with gratitude. We all survived the bitter end. And together, we are beginning to see the light.

I’ve never wanted to be so sober, as I do today. My friends are the best people in the world. I cannot begin to tell you how great life is for many of them. One of my best friend and his wife hiked Machu Picchu for two weeks and climbed over 17,000 feet into the sky. Amazing …

Our intrepid chair tonight, invited us to read the first two pages of A Vision for You, as a whole, and many of us revisited the last drink.

And I can tell you that many of us, CAN, with SUFFICIENT FORCE, bring into our consciousness of the suffering and humiliation of our last drink.

I heard many things tonight. And I pondered my own story again.

When I got sober the first time, Todd was there. That voice of calm, the voice of wisdom and the voice of control was always with me. Yes, I was working in a bar, but that bar was the safest place I could be, given the circumstances we had been visited with at the time. AIDS was the great equalizer. Many went to their deaths, miserably.

Thankfully, due to Todd, (read: God) I live to tell that particular story.

When Todd moved away, I could not keep it together by myself. I just could not fathom, living by myself, on my own, without Todd behind me.

When I went out, it was my own fault. I listened to all the WRONG voices. When those final weeks of my drinking took place, it was binge drinking one night a week, because I just could not stomach drinking every day.

I was still, drinking to fit in. Drinking to be seen. Drinking to be noticed.

Nobody noticed.

I would drink, until I fell down. In a room with a couple hundred other men doing the same thing. But nobody noticed me. So I drank more. Thinking that if I kept drinking, SOMEONE would NOTICE me …

At the bitter end, Black Out after Black Out … I came to believe that I could no longer drink any more. I called out to God, and He answered me in due course.

The rest is history they say…

But I still wonder, who was it that picked me up, off the dance floor after I collapsed, took me outside, got me a taxi, drove me home, AND got me in through TWO locked doors, into my apartment ???

I don’t know the answer to that Million Dollar Question.

Someone did notice me, and did me a great favor.

There must have been angels in that club, watching me.

Walking from home to the SOBE room, where I finally arrived in, I had to walk past the building that housed the club, I used to drink in. On the way out and on the way back.

A few weeks after I got sober, I heard they shut down the club for good.

I like to say, with a giggle … The last alcoholic left that building, so they had to close …

I mused tonight, that I needed a steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot go through life and NOT have that steady hand on my shoulder. I cannot do life alone. I know that today.

I knew it long ago, but when Todd left my life for good, there was nobody to take his place, and I foundered.

It wasn’t until I walked back into the rooms, in South Beach, that Fonda, Ed, Charlie, and Shane stepped up and took me in and cared for me.

When I moved to Montreal seventeen years ago, I did it the right way. I stepped into the room, with the people who would change my life. I needed that steady hand on my shoulder, and I got it in spades.

The right sponsor at the right time appeared, and took me on a journey, that first year. I was Never Alone. Not for one Minute. He showed me Sobriety. He showed me everything that this city could offer me, now that I was sober.

He took me places and showed me life. And little by slowly, A Vision for You Came to pass for me and countless others. The most satisfactory years of my life WERE ahead of ME.

And they are STILL AHEAD of me YET !!!

Life did not only get better, it got richer beyond my wildest imagination.

I’ve survived twenty-five years of a death sentence. I live every day to tell people that story to the degree that many of my friends roll their eyes at me when I mention it.

So I don’t talk about it any longer.

We live in the Solution today. You too can live in the solution.

With all the good, there is also bad. Sober people, are sick people, at the root of life. Those who do not work, falter and get sick. They freak out, and I see this happening around me, in old-timer disease.

I can see when old timers freak out and go down the rabbit hole. I can see it, when they cannot see it themselves. I spoke to one particular guy about it when he freaked out and he said to me, all twenty-six years of his sobriety said … How dare you call me on my shit, when you are only sixteen years and a few months sober ???

Go fuck yourself !!!

Alcoholics get sick. When they stop working and go into Ego and Resentment.

If you are NOT in The Work, then why not ?

Our kids work their asses off, day in and day out. We do not get a day off. There are no free passes to sobriety. It is just NOT GONNA HAPPEN without our doing anything.

Because when we sit back and wait for it to happen, we too could end up going down the rabbit hole ourselves.

I’ve been seeing it happen all around me, so I buck up on program. I listen to speakers on my phone. I hit meetings, and I am in the Book right now. With a young lady friend who has infinite amounts of wisdom to give us all.

When I realized I wanted what she had, I asked her to walk me through the book.

I have not looked back yet.

I love my life and those people who are IN IT TO WIN IT with me.

The whole point of getting sober, is to one day be:

Happy, Joyous and Free …

Some say I look happy. I feel joyous.

I AM FREE ….

The Selfish Game …

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Tonight, we talked about Selfishness and Self Centered-ness.

Alcoholics have a particular ability, when we are IN The Work.

At some point, we are part of “community.” We find our places, we like to go. We find the people, we want to be our friends. We find a sponsor, who is going to be the sounding board for all of our nonsense, and bullshit. I heard a friend say tonight, that the man he works with is a noble, kind and loving human being.

Many of us, in that room, strive to be noble, kind and loving.

Being Noble, Kind and Loving, should be prerequisites to working with others.

They say that alcohol and drugs are but the symptom of a more serious problem. Those key words like: Selfish, Self Centered, and Fearful, are some of those things we deal with on a daily basis. Ego is anther one of those things I heard mentioned tonight.

The Big Word my friend used in this context was:

Concupiscence. Ardent, Longing, Desire.

He mentioned the word in, not the sexual connotation, but in the “Wanting More for himself.” And not in a selfish way. I think, that once we get a handle on our addictions, and we begin to rebuild our lives, from the ground up, at some point, we begin to become Right Sized, then we can safely begin to entertain … Wanting more for Ourselves.

If you are just sitting in a room, hoping Osmodically, that you are gonna GET IT, or FIND IT, you aren’t … One has to put in the work.

Some people, some of my friends, all they want, out of this life, is something more for themselves. Some of those wants might be grandiose, or grand. Been there, done that myself.

I’ve learned over the years, that I do want more for myself, but within reason.

It may not sound like I read the book, or practice all that needs to be practiced, on any given day, but in sixteen years and a few months, I have internalized a lot of the book, and what it tells us to do, on any given day. I’m no MONK, and I am surely not a SAINT.

But I try, on a daily basis, to be right sized. Working with others, keeps us right sized. Because I have known some, whose heads get too big, and they outgrow their pants, and when that happens, people are in trouble.

Over the last little while, an old timer with serious time, has gotten on his high horse. He’s outgrown his pants. His ego is riding the hog. And he shot his mouth off at a business meeting, and everybody sitting there witnessed it.

Last week, as alcoholics are won’t to do … I called him on his bullshit. Who else, can spot bullshit and ego at fifty paces ? WE CAN.

That old-timer told me to go fuck myself.

Who was right and Who was wrong ?

That particular old-timer tonight said that He did not believe in Altruism.

When we take an hour out of our nights, and go make coffee and set down chairs and tables, and we set up a meeting, ONE, we are helping ourselves, First … TWO, we are doing it because we are helping those who are gonna show up, on any given night.

Every time we put the needs of another before our own, we think altruistically.

I know, sure as the sun rises every day, that the day I decided, many years ago, in early sobriety, that the needs of my then boyfriend, were more important than my own, when he got terribly mentally sick, and I decided to STAY and not RUN away, I put all my eggs in his proverbial basket. And I took care of him.

That is when This Boy Became a Man.

I am sure as shit, I know this for sure. Because I spent the better part of my life waiting for the moment when I would cross that proverbial bridge, into my Man Hood.

It was only, in the service of someone I loved, that I became the man I am today.

Being in the rooms, helped me more than I could ever have imagined. Watching and Listening to other addicts and alcoholics, get clean and sober, and grow up themselves, helped me grow up myself.

All these years later, I can call bullshit and ego at fifty paces. Many of us can.

It takes courage for someone to say to themselves, and maybe to you, that,
“yeah, I think I am being an asshole …”

Rather than the affirmative response, you get told to Go Fuck Yourself.

How dare you call me on my shit, when you only have sixteen years of sobriety ?

Well, I am in the book, I do the work, I do the prerequisites, and I am sober. Sober to the degree I am at, at the present moment. And YOU my friend are an asshole and you have outgrown your pants, and your ego is getting a little grand for the rest of us. And not many of us are going to take the time to say something because they know you are going to tell them too … To Go Fuck Themselves on Holy Sunday …

One of my friends plays a “Selfish Game.”

She opens a conversation and talks until the other person, stops; and asks about HER. If it takes too long, she cops a resentment. Because for a long time, life was all about HER.

That’s why, the first question I ask of my friends, is All About Them.

Solar Eclipse

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Funny this … There are only TWO Jeremy’s in the English Montreal Sober Community.

We’ve been friends for as long as we’ve both been sober. In the beginning, you could find us in the same rooms, at the same time, often.

Everybody knows who we are. Each of us have our particular stories. We are an age apart, but once we cross the threshold, everything that is different between us, disappears, for one common goal.

To stop drinking and using …

Nowadays, when we both find ourselves in the same room, which is not very often, I call this a Solar Eclipse. Solar eclipses are predictable, but happen very rarely.

Jeremy said tonight, of us, his friends, that If you want to be like someone in the room, go stand next to them. And quite possibly, strike up a conversation.

The Friday meeting, in particular, many of the people I want to be like, or have something I want for myself, are my close friends who go to that meeting.

Sobriety is a selfish program, they say … Individually, we have to get sober for ourselves. If we think, we can get sober, for anyone else, that is false, and we will fail. We have to do for ourselves, and ourselves only.

What we cannot do alone, we CAN DO together.

Each person who occupies a chair, is there for themselves. But when all these singular minds gather, our singleness of purpose is clear … Experience, Strength and Hope is the job we all have to give each other, selflessly, unselfishly, humbly and honestly.

As is often, each man and woman I know in the rooms I attend and do service in, each of my friends have something to give, in either the way they stay sober, or what they bring to a meeting on any given night.

Another of my friends, who works in a private rehab here in the city spoke as well.

The reading tonight, spoke of not being alone.

Many minds reading this particular passage, took us in several directions.

My friend said that “there are suggestions we are given, when we get sober.” We all hear them, spoken to us, from people, “In the Know.” We all hear, but not many follow to the letter, what we are, sometimes, Strongly Suggested to do …

Relationships are one of those suggestions. And the suggestion to STAY OUT of them for the first year. How many of us followed that little piece of advice ?

My friend, when he drank, always to excess, did not know how alone he was, till the drink and drugs, brought him to his knees. For many, the drink does not create connections between people. For many, drink and drugs, removed us from others, and created for us, each in our own ways, OUR OWN PRISONS.

When he finally got into rehab, himself, he heard the words.

Coming from oblivion, he did not have any semblance of ability to relate properly to anyone, even himself.

When we come in, what do we really know about ourselves ? Until we make that decision, that we are One, alcoholics, and Two, are willing to go to any lengths to get and stay sober.

He took that advice, not to get involved to heart. He spent that first year, like I spent that first year, learning how to be alone with ourselves. Because if we don’t know who we are to begin with, how can we be in relation with another, with honestly, nothing to really give, but what we “think” we have to give.

The first time I got sober, living with AIDS, I was thrust into being ALONE, in a way that broke my heart and broke my spirit. Nobody wanted to be in “relation” with anyone doomed to die a miserable death, sick and lying in ones own shit.

Hell, even my friends ran for the hills.

Thank God, I was NOT ALONE, ever, for one minute. Had Todd not been there, in the God capacity he appeared in my life, I would certainly have died, miserably, like many of my friends did.

My friend got clean and sober. Like I got clean and sober. In time, we both, met our significant others, IN the rooms. People who learn how to be alone, and spend appropriate time, learning about themselves, WORK the STEPS, at some point do learn who we are, good and bad.

Then and only then, can we be in proper relations with anyone.

The rooms, gives us opportunity how to be in relation with others, simply. Because if we keep it simple, and we go to a meeting, not expecting anything from anyone, let alone ourselves, and we just SINK IN, we learn from others, how to be WITH others.

Which is why, I surround myself, today, with men and women who have something I want for myself. Because in my friends I see attributes I want to emulate.

At the end of tonight’s meeting I told my best friends that each of them had something I want. The ladies, learn how to be ladies. The men, learn how to be men.

That kind of education, you cannot buy. INVALUABLE !!!

But the caveat is this … There are a few unfortunate people, in the rooms, that each in our own ways, we want nothing to do with. For one reason or another.

A LONG SOBER, DRY, MISERABLE, ALCOHOLIC is a black hole of misery. A few of those men and women exist in our circles today.

Recently, I called out one of those long sober, dry, miserable alcoholics at a meeting last Monday night, saying, simply, that he had been exhibiting OLD behavior. AGAIN …

He told me to Go Fuck Myself and Never speak to him again. that’s what comes out of the mouth of a man who has TWENTY NINE years of sobriety.

Many of the men in my life, have contributed a great deal, in helping me become the man I am today. A good handful of women hold that same distinction.

Long Sober women are far and few between, so when they do come around, everybody listens to them.

My friends show me that I can find contact with a Power Greater than Myself, which in turn, allows me to get in touch with THAT WHICH IS THE BEST OF ME.

We all know people, in our social circles in the rooms, who did not heed the warnings that the suggestions offer. There are two types.

One, those who simply cannot fathom being alone, at all. They need that “Other: for validation or to control or be controlled.

or Two, those, who within that first time frame, get involved, because for some, when love comes into your life, and you figure that, “This is it …” There is no better time than the present, we get on board and we ride the ride.

It is either feast or famine in the rooms.

Some of us have lucked out in sobriety, to find that particular significant other, that makes the world go round.

I have friends, who did not heed that sage advice and jumped into NOT Mr. or Mrs. Right, nope, they jumped into the fire with Mr. and Mrs. RIGHT NOW.

And like all things, that cannot be nailed down, they Come and Go.

Sometimes they come back around, and sometimes they don’t.

Some of my friends are struggling, because they cannot fathom, being alone with themselves, on the outside, even knowing they are Not Alone, on the inside.

We might be broken, sodden men and women. But with a common goal, to help ourselves, and help each other, what we cannot do alone, we can do together.

We learn how TO BE ALONE, by being TOGETHER, one hour at a time.

If you want to be like someone, go stand next to them. It won’t happen like OSMOSIS, but One CONNECTION, one CONVERSATION at a time.

We often say at the end of the Monday meeting, to the whole room, that sobriety works, because we do not do the work alone. We do THE WORK together. AND if you like what someone in the room had to say tonight, GO, Talk to Them.

That’s why we also, on Monday, stress the importance of Fellowship.

The meeting that happens BEFORE and AFTER the meeting.

If you come, and you don’t participate, and you isolate, sitting in your chair, you are going to stay miserable and broken. You can only SIT in that CHAIR, and do nothing for only so long.

AT SOME POINT YOU WILL EITHER HAVE TO SHIT OR GET OFF THE POT …

A meeting is there for several purposes. I’ve learned, in my time, just what is possible when like minds unite in a common goal, often.

You are never alone … We are never alone …
As long as you have friends in all the right places.

Monday: The WORK that keeps on Giving

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We heard many good things about step work tonight. The good thing about or little community is the variance of people, time, and experience. Having a cross-section of people talk about experience, is good for everyone in the long run.

Many of us, with some serious time, have tried every “new thing on the block” to spice up sobriety. Over the years, visitors have come from other places to share with us, how they approach THE WORK.

For me, and many of my friends, this little jaunt into “New Methods” began in the year 2012. New Yorker’s who live here, part of the year and back home, at other times, had a method. Many saw it, watched it work for others, and then attempted that work for themselves.

I met a few people over the years, who taught me new methods of The WORK and also about Prayer. It was then, that I began to arduously make prayer work for me. Not that I had not set myself the duty of prayer before. Bob just told me how to step up my game. I followed his direction, and that changed the entire ball game for me.

Today, I hear some of my friend talk about where they are. Some have grown tired of trying new things, and many of us are in a place today, where we recognize that being perfect is not necessary. And that like some, we just want to be loved, and feel ok.

The push for continual growth has slowed for many. Many of my friends are in a “down time” place today. Those with time, have a desire to feel where they are and to experience life as it comes, “in the moment.” However, the work continue, in any case.

We’ve not seen “new methods” come to us over the last little while. So we have been regurgitating the latest method were had been working with. For many, that has grown old and tired. Some have disappeared, a few have resurfaced over the past little while.

Everybody is different, and no two people follow the same proscriptions for sobriety. I think it bears saying that, listening to each other, and sitting with each other often, that is where God is going to speak to us. Through others, in community.

I know that if I don’t hear from God directly, I need to hit a meeting and listen attentively.

Steps are progressive. They never end. You work steps, over and over. The longer you stick around, we grow up. I heard a man say, tonight, that when he realized that he had, Grown Up, in sobriety, that the steps became useful, because he recognized his own progress.

They say that when we started drinking and using, the age we were, AT THAT TIME, is where we stop growing up. Which then tells you, when you got sober, what age you will begin at. I was twenty-one for a long time. A very long time.

Folks who come in late, (in terms of age) don’t necessarily recognize how emotionally and mentally immature they are when they come in. But like my friend mentioned tonight, when he came in he was 41. With a mental age of 21.

When I came in at 34, I was stuck in the mental age of twenty-five, when my drinking was just off the charts, and I was going to die. We’ve all recognized, in ourselves, just how much many of us have grown up, over the years.

Tonight we read Page 75… The reading dealing with steps 5 through 7.

How after we speak our inventory, we go home and take out the book, and review the first five proposals, taking time to realize if we have done things right. Have we a firm foundation. Have we skimped on the cement, Have we left anything out…

There is ONE paragraph on Step Six. Not a whole lot of direction or advice on what to do. Then the book launches in the Seventh Step Prayer …

God, I am now ready for you to have ALL of me, good and bad …

I have heard, over the years that Steps 6 and 7, are the steps we live in for the rest of our sober lives, even having worked all the way through Step 12.

Character Defects and Shortcomings … They never go away. We just learn how to mitigate the damage we can wreak on others.

I told this story tonight. It’s an OPRAH story about Step Work.

By Steps Six and Seven, we should have conscious contact with a Power Greater than Ourselves. In any case, we should have figured out that equation by now.

Many don’t …

Anyways. Oprah talks about God in this way …

God speaks to us. All the time. On the first pass, God whispers to us. If we miss the first whisper, He whispers again. If we miss it the second time, God hits us over the head with a TWO by FOUR. If we miss it the third time, God drops a WALL on top of US.

That is exactly how God has gotten my attention in the past. I kind of need that critical, in my face, kind of God experience. Kind of like egging God on to show himself.

I know better. NOW. Because I know God exists. I’ve met Him in the flesh.

How often I forget that truth.

Over those years following 2012, I was attending Men’s retreats in Vermont, with a bunch of evangelical straight sober men, who talk out of one side of their mouths, then do the opposite in action.

Working through character defects and shortcomings was an In Your Face, God experience. I missed the whispers. I got whacked by the two by four, then had the wall dropped on me. Before I actually realized what was going on.

That’s the way it has been for me. Things I need to see, in myself, come to me through other people around me. I see what I need to recognize, through the behavior and defects and shortcomings of other sober people standing in front of me.

Which is why I don’t travel in those circles any more. God abhors a hypocrite.

So do I …

Life is cyclical. And runs in cycles. The longer you are sober, the more WORK you do, and the more you grow up and remain sober, these life cycles continue to rise and fall.

Issues we see on our dashboard, early on, are seen with the eyes and perspective of early sobriety, on the first pass of Steps. Those issues and lessons come and go. If we are wise, we learn on that first pass, in perspective.

Those issues don’t go away. They just get “put to bed” for the time being. Until we hit another round of steps, and life continues to grow. Sooner or later, those old problems and old issues rise again. Cyclically.

BUT, now, we see those same old problems and issues with new eyes and new perspective. And that growth continues, the longer we are sober.

It is like a jeweler who polishes Gem Stones. Each issue that rises, gets a cut on the jewelers wheel. Each cut, brings that Gem Stone (read: YOU) into greater perfection. Life is cyclical, and gem stones are continually cut and polished.

We may never reach total perfection, but if we stay sober and we do the work and we grow up, we are a little closer to who we could become, rather than who we once were.

Life can be good. But that takes time and work.

Stick around till the miracle happens.

Sober at Christmas, Suffering is Optional

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Fifteen years ago, the home we live in, to this day, was very different. Hubby and I had met just a few short weeks shy of Christmas, 2002. The apartment was dirty white. There were over 300 beer bottles to return on the lanai. The tv, was a small black and white set, that had foil rabbit ears and hardly worked. We had no stereo system. We had no furniture, and we had no money either.

That Christmas hubby was going home to see his parents, I was living in Verdun, on the backside of the Island, in a basement apartment that I hated. Hubby handed me a set of keys and invited me to stay here.

I NEVER LEFT !!!

Our first Christmas together was a sad affair. Like I said above, we had no money. We didn’t even have a Christmas tree. And no presents to speak of. We had each other. That fateful pass through a door at St. Leon’s was fate, tempting us.

Fast Forward, fifteen years to 2017 … The tree we have, is the first tree we bought together at Christmas Number Two. 2003. The ornaments have changed, over the years, and the apartment surely has changed as well.

We Painted, Cleaned, Scrubbed, Bleached and Sterilized the apartment. We have new furniture that we finally could afford after many, many years. We have a flat screen HD tv, with a stereo surround sound system my in-laws bought us, a number of years ago.

We keep things simple. Because God likes simple. That is the way He fed us. SIMPLY.

If a holiday falls on a meeting night, where ever that meeting might be located, if it is possible, that particular room is open. And usually, I have keys to that particular basement hall, anyways. We have always hosted friends for dinner over the years. This year, I changed up my game, and dis-invited the Queers. And Invited my friend Juan and his fiancée for Christmas dinner on Wednesday evening.

We are doing the “Couples” thing together.

Tonight we hosted Monday Central at Notre Dame de la Salette, up on Parc Avenue. If the room is open, people will come. Thirty odd folks came for the meeting. Several of them were suffering through their first Christmas sober.

Christmas Sober is a gift … Suffering is Optional.

Many of my friends don’t listen to a single word I say to them.

I can tell you that a handful of my friends, (well fellows) who have my number don’t use it, yet they show up where ever I show up. And many of them are addled. And many of them are not yet ready to admit that their suffering is getting on their nerves. And I quietly sit in a meeting, and I listen to them talk about suffering and IF ONLY, they would just get it over with and ask for help …

Nobody wants to ask for help. And I am sure as shit not going to volunteer to help them. I gave out my number and said one thing … Call Me … My phone still does not ring.

FUCK ME

A number of our young people are away. So whomever was still here, was at the meeting tonight. Several of them were suffering through their First Christmas Sober.

All I could say was … It Does Get BETTER … Stick around.

Make it easy, show up and do service. THAT will definitely keep you sober.

Putting the needs of another before your own, will show you sobriety from a totally different angle. We heard this bit of advice tonight from one of our young women.

Our young people suffer needlessly. Many of them have been around a while, testing the proverbial sober water to see if it is pure. A handful of them tonight, admitted to the rest of us, that when they finally admitted they had a problem, and gave the fellowship a fair shake, and they committed to doing to work as they were told to do by the rest of us, that life definitely GOT BETTER.

People who HATED Christmas, who have kids, who gave in and put up their trees FOR their KIDS, because Christmas is about the KIDS and not necessarily about US, and are in their Second sober Christmas, having kicked and screamed through their first one, see the wisdom of relenting and putting the needs of their kids before their own.

Christmas does not SUCK sober.

We are a family of people who really care about each other, care enough to open a room and make coffee, (tonight we brought it in from Timmies). People are just floored that someone they barely know, but see at meetings, care enough to give their very best on Christmas Night, just because … of them …

We share a common bond as people who would NOT normally mix.

Alcoholism is an equal opportunity taker and does not discriminate.

The fact is this, there is a room, full of people like you, working the same program of simple work, however complicated you make it.

Just Show Up …

Monday: Not Resting on our Laurels

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We often take for granted, what we do every day to stay sober. We often forget that sobriety is a full-time job. And we often forget what that last drink tasted like and what it did to us, and where we ended up.

Once we put down the DRINK, the game becomes all about the “THINK.”

We move from our drinking problem, into the thinking problem.

Tonight we read from the book and Step Ten. And what is always the case, when we get here, is that we all say out loud … “Well, I could do this better.”

Taking that daily inventory and those simple questions:

Was I Selfish, Dishonest, Resentful or Fearful ?

Add to this list: What are my motives ? Should I really do this or say that ?

I know, back in 2012, when the women of Tuesday Beginners began to introduce a certain structure to our lives, by way of the work they were doing with their own sponsees, I learned a new way to work my program.

That structure became a solid tool that I used with every single person I worked with since. And it did work.

Writing is something I do, often. Taking to someone about my list has been, not so much. I’m not connecting with another human on a regular basis, like I used to. But, I often find myself in places with certain older men and women, who remind me to check my motives.

In the recent past, they have cautioned me against speaking AND acting. I ignored that advice, which turned into one huge Shit Storm.

I need to practice keeping my mouth shut in public. Because I know, not many people are interested in hearing what they really need to do, even if I think they need to hear it.

My friend Philippe talks about the Book and the Work as necessities. Getting honest and doing the work, because sobriety IS WORK.

You cannot get sober by Osmosis.

But for the most part, people don’t want to break a sweat. They want to come to a meeting, sit there and suck it up like a sponge, then walk out of the room, and in a matter of minutes forget, everything that they just heard.

They don’t go home and write it down. They aren’t learning on the same scale that I am. Because alcoholics are a science project to study, intimately.

I go home, write, dissect, and I learn everything I can about everyone around me. That’s how I got sober and continue to stay sober. By watching and noting stupidity, strengths, weaknesses, successes and failures.

What we have is a daily reprieve, contingent on the maintenance of our Spiritual condition.

There is no One Way to do Step Ten. There is no grand plan, or method.

Once of my friends, at the last World Convention, in Atlanta, went to find those men and women who did it, “The Right Way.” In the end he was surprised to find that even with those OLD TIMERS who were 50 plus years sober, at that event, there was no RIGHT method.

The only thing that mattered was that, we took inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.

I don’t work with others, like I used to.

The one thing my guys have going for them is this …

We work, on a daily basis, on our Spiritual Teachings. Based on Spiritual Principles as taught to us, by men who teach us how to do that.

If you are not reading the Book, then why not ?
If you aren’t working your program, then why not ?
If you aren’t going to meetings, then why not ?
If you aren’t working with others, then why not ?

Sobriety is a gift. And sharing that gift with another is vitally important to staying sober.

One alcoholic working with another.

Doctor Bob’s Humility Prayer on his desk … A friend spoke these words tonight:

“Perpetual quietness of heart. It is to have no trouble. It is never to be fretted or vexed, irritable or sore; to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me.

It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised, it is to have a blessed home in myself where I can go and shut the door and pray to my father in secret and be at peace, as in a deep-sea of calmness, when all around and about is seeming trouble.”