I Never Want …

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In keeping with the theme of BRAVING …

I never want to reach a point, where I become bored, where I am not connected, where I feel useless, and a drink seems like a good idea.

Any day, can be a day, where a drink seems like a good idea.

The purpose of sobriety is to find that which is Greater than ourselves, from Outside of ourselves, the key that will sustain us, to Stay Stopped, one day at a time.

People come, and People go. Some stay, many do not.

At some point, we realize that being just a visitor in a meeting, only lasts for so long. At some point, you get to make a choice, to either do something, or you don’t.

I know what this means. And I’ve said it before.

We welcome people from around the globe. We see our friends, often. And for the newcomer, I am patient. I know what it is like to walk into a strange room, and not know what to do. Where do I fit in, how will I ever find the path, friends, sobriety ???

One day at a time.

I have watched the chair dance for years and years. That is why chairs are set up, in the way they are, like a well planned game. Where one sits, in any given room, tells some of us, how integrated into the meeting you are.

People who attend often, sit in the same seats, week in and week out. There are always seats, set, against the back wall. With rows and rows of seats to choose from, I know that most people won’t sit up front, automatically. They hang back, in the pack, and many people, who sit “on the bubble” populate the row against the back wall.

Yes, that may be the case. But other folks sit in the back row, due to the time of arrival to any specific meeting. Which is why they tell us twenty minutes before and twenty minutes after.

The only way to work your way into a meeting, is to work your way into a meeting.

Reading the book, will come, in time. But it is suggested by good people, that the sooner that you join us, find a job, find a sponsor, read the book, and work your steps, then, and for some, they finally find themselves connected, useful, and happiness comes.

A friend of mine, who has considerable time, said to me tonight, that after all his years in, he finally figured out what Higher Power meant for him. Finding that which is greater than yourself, from a location, outside of ourselves, takes time.

Sometimes it takes a LONG TIME …

But you know, however hard one finds the suggestion … Prayer does work.

Hearing continual stories about how hard some people fight even the thought that prayer is something we should do often, only solidifies the idea that Prayer Does Work.

My friends often tell me how their brains work. Some, often find, that the obsession of
“A drink seeming like a good idea” still persists.

I know, from hearing this from folks, in the middle of the stream, connected, and seeming happy, that when they found the thought of prayer, not such a bad idea, once they begin praying, that obsession of

“A drink seeming like a good idea,” does go away.

The book is written to tell us what our problem is, who we are, and why we are here. It gives us the plan for living, and offers us a spiritual solution that HAS WORKED for millions of people.

I’ve heard what happens, when one comes in, arrogant and shut down, and feels like they just don’t connect, to anyone, or anything, thinking that they will never be happy

SOBER …

Wait for it …

Don’t leave until the miracle happens for you.

A very long time ago, a woman in the rehab connected to the very first meeting I walked into over twenty-five years ago, said that to me …

Stick around until the miracle happens.

Had the people around me, in those meetings, had not bet on my demise, then, others told me to leave and not come back, had someone offered me a way INTO the book and sobriety, like my friends did when I came back the second time,

I would have stuck around, and never left.

But my path was what it became.

Continual attempts at sobriety, coming and going, only lasts so long. One too many passes into a room, then back out of said room, the chances of sticking and staying, grow slim.

Some people get more than one kick at the can. Some of those who kicked the can, more than once, GET IT. And they sit down and they stay.

Sadly, numbers are not what they used to be.

We know tonight, what happens when being a visitor in a meeting, dies …

The thought that, “A drink sounds like a good idea” takes hold, the obsession returns, and we take our chances, back in the world, that really is not a place, for some, who drank like I did, or like many have, themselves.

If you come to a room, jump in with both feet, and get WET.

You will find your way, I promise you that. The Book Promises that as well.

If only folks took the time to read the book, which is why people like me exist, in the rooms, to read said book with you.

Reading is fundamental.

It was good that when I came back, over the first four months of my sobriety, I was unable to read a book myself, outside of Harry Potter.

So I went to meetings every day, where someone else, read the book TO ME, reading it for everyone, that was sitting in that particular meeting.

I heard the book read. And it stuck for me, because I had no place else to go.

Which is why I am still reading the book, to this very day.

Because, THERE IS A SOLUTION.

The idea that “A drink seems like a good idea” has gone.

Because I do the work required to never get to the point in sobriety that:

A DRINK SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA ….

The Front of The Book

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I’ve said this a few days ago, about myself, and tonight, I can safely say, that the thought rings true for many of my friends.

“We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know what it is that we did not know then, that we know now …”

You don’t hear the same information from people who have significant time, but you do hear significant information from men and women who are DEEP IN THE BOOK, in ways that their contemporaries are not.

I am sitting with a young woman who is taking me through the book, through her eyes and experience. Tonight, I heard a friend of mine, a woman, whom I witnessed get sober, from her very first day, say something that I had never heard before.

It seemed that many people in the room, sat up a little straighter and grabbed their pens and highlighters to mark what she was talking about.

We read tonight from Page 34 … A brief summary in a few sentences:

As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power… Though you may be able to stop for a considerable period, you may yet be a potential alcoholic…For those who are unable to drink moderately the question IS HOW to STOP altogether. We are assuming, of course, that the reader desires to STOP…This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – the utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or wish.

My friend spoke about pages earlier in the front of the book, pages 20 and 21.

The earlier pages of There is a solution, asks several questions, and the hope is that through the power of example the one who reads with us, with ample experience in the book can ask the reader … Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ? Is this YOU ???

If you have identified with anything in the book, as to the stories and examples the first 100 sober men and women are telling us that, for the reader, there Is a Solution.

The question becomes How to STOP altogether ?

The book then says that a Spiritual Solution is required. And if you are like many of my friends, in the rooms right now, God is a dirty word. But in We Agnostics, the entire chapter speaks to us about finding A POWER Greater than Ourselves.

Whatever is going to help us get and stay sober, one serious psychic and spiritual change must take place. Whatever it is, has got to be something greater than ourselves, and has to come from somewhere OUTSIDE of ourselves. Because we alcoholics know, that left to our own devices, and our own wills, we could not stop on our own, no matter how great the necessity or wish.

An Alcoholic will always find the wiggle room …

The Brilliance of The Big Book is this … And I can speak to this because I know it is true.

Listening to Joe and Charlie tapes for years and years, we know how the book is written. Each chapter is headed with a topic. And each page is written with explicit detail. Each page follows into the next. On each page, each paragraph is written with care.

You can take a chapter, and boil it down to that chapter title. You can turn to any page, and ideas appear on each page. Paragraph follows each paragraph. And within each paragraph are sentences that can be further distilled into single thoughts.

Chapter –> Page -> Paragraph -> Sentence -> Word …

There is rhyme and reason to the way the first hundred men and women composed this book. It is brilliant. Bill did not take this on himself. Which is why each edition of The Big Book is prefaced with the story about the First 100 who successfully got and remained sober till their deaths later on.

There are meetings in Texas that I know of, that they read the Big Book, sometimes One paragraph at a time, One sentence at a time, and even better, One word at a time.

They pick a paragraph, or a sentence, or even a word and they meditate on it, then they all talk about it. I know this because some of my friends who travel for business attended meetings in Texas and had this particular experience with other sober men and women.

On my slip, as I made a slow return to the rooms, I arrived back in Miami. But I was not going to walk into rooms where I had been summarily dismissed and asked to leave and not return. I stayed away, and relocated onto Miami Beach. It was July 2000.

I was off the drugs, because I had left them where they were, more than 1000 miles away. But alcohol was still in play. I had part-time work, that I could not do drunk or hung over, working with computer lights in a nightclub, so I did not drink.

On 9-11 tragedy struck and Miami Beach went DRY for two weeks. All the bars closed, all the liquor stores shuttered. There were no parties, no clubs, no nightlife for two weeks.

On the 14th day out, bar owners thought it wise to raise money for New York City. And the easiest way to get money in the door, was to bargain with the drinkers.

They wanted our donations for New York. And the way they did that was to offer free alcohol based on the amount we donated on each pass at the particular bar location.

We paid dearly for every sacred drop of alcohol that we drank for months after, saying to ourselves, that we were doing something good for New Yorker’s.

The beach drank every drop of alcohol from a radius of 50 miles in every direction.

Mischief Managed …

I wasn’t done drinking. I had not even pondered a return to the rooms, until I was good and ready. When the night came that I uttered that specific prayer to God to bring me an alcoholic, I sat and I waited.

And as God as my witness … A few days later, Troy walked into my place of business to interview for a job. His first words to me were: “I did not drink today…”

I smiled and said how good for you. And left it at that.

I hired him on the spot.

Over the next thirty days, He would come into the shop and preface anything he said or did with the same phrase … “I did not drink today…”

On the thirtieth day, we were together on a furniture run, and I broke my anonymity to him, saying I was on my way back, which he replied without a skip in the conversation that I could come to see him take his first year cake a couple of days later.

That would have been December 9th 2001.

I have not had a drink since.

There is a God, and I am not He.

You might not think God capable of moving heaven and earth for us, but I can safely say that over twenty-six years now, I am still alive, I survived, I am sober a few 24 hours, and that God does move heaven and earth, because He did for me.

And I can safely tell you all this with certitude.

When Passion Dies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Save for a few friends who did.

Self Sabotage is a familiar story line.

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

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

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

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

Because he is with US now.

It’s ok, I have all day…

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The local area Help Line, is one of the most important contact points, for people who need help, to get them where they need to go. If you’ve never volunteered to answer the help line where you live, I highly suggest you make the time to give back.

There are many ways into the rooms. Some come the hard way, via court orders, a little less tough, is the rehab route, then the easier route, coming through the door yourself.

I might say that’s the easiest route, but in reality it is not that easy. Walking through that door, for some, is really difficult. We see them. Every meeting. You hang outside the door, till the last-minute, then skulk in and hang on the back wall.

The back wall is synonymous with struggle. That’s why there is always a row of chairs against the back wall. At least that’s an easy starting point. From that back wall, we find our way forwards, later choosing a chair that is closer to the front.

We begin on the periphery, Alone, Scared, Fearful, till we find our ways forwards and we become Part Of, One of Many.

Alcoholics are predictable. We like uniformity. For years and years, when ever I do service, in certain meetings, there are always chairs put out, closest to the exit door. In one particular meeting, I was homed in for over a decade, extra chairs were the norm, even if, they were in the farthest reaches of the room. Because they were always sat.

We all have our chairs. Seats we sit in at every meeting. Predictably.

On Monday, I sit in the same local seat, at the table. And I encourage my friends to sit “At the Table,” On Thursday, I sit in an aisle chair, second row from the front. On Friday, I sit in the same seat as well, first chair on the right of the chairperson. In case we have a newbie in the chair, and they need some moral support and maybe a little coaching from the sidelines.

The first five years of sobriety, I volunteered every week to go to the Help Line office, uptown to answer the Help Line. These days, with technology, you can answer the Help Line from the comfort of home, on a land line, or better yet, on your cell.

But I admit, after five years, I got tired with talking to the same three people, who would call, twenty, thirty times a day. At the office we had a log book, because they log calls, and repeat calls were becoming more than I could emotionally handle, because there are those who call, in the midst of drunkenness, or difficulty, and no matter how many times they call, and you direct them where to go, our work falls on deaf ears.

There are those unfortunates who just don’t want to get better.

And I admit, I grew tired of crazy drunkenness.

Imagine a woman who was in dire straits. Who could not hold it together. And finally one day, she panhandles a quarter to make the call to the help line. Forty five minutes later, the man on the other end, gives her the address of a meeting, on the other side of town from where she is when she made the first call.

He gives her the address and the route to take to get her there.

She hangs up the phone, having not written down what she was told, and she forgets.

Takes three steps to her right and panhandles another quarter to call again, because she forgot what the kind man had said to her the first time.

She calls a second time, profusely apologizing for her second call, and the reply from the other end was this …

It’s Ok, I have all day. I will give you all the help you need as long as you need it.

People who answer that help line most definitely, can change a life, with a simple moment of compassion and understanding.

That woman is now 15 years sober.

The miracle happened, because someone was on the other end of that Help Line.

The Help Line can save lives.

Another Sober Holiday Success

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In 1998, at four years sober, every man I knew, at that four year mark, walked out the doors and drank and used again. Including myself.

At that time, it was the messaging, that just solidified my decision to take my life back into my own hands and go out. When an alcoholic walks up to you and says Get Out and Don’t come back … what are you supposed to do, when you figure out, your options at that point are very slim, on the ground.

The day I packed my moving truck, there were sober people standing outside my apartment saying to me … “You think you should think this over again?” “Are you sure, this is what you want to do?”

By the time the truck rolled up, I was resolute. I was going. Nobody was going to stop me. In hindsight, I should have listened, it would have saved me great pain and loss, across the board. It would have saved my sobriety.

In 2001, when Troy walked into my life saying that “He did not drink today,” led me back to the rooms. That Divine prayer I uttered to God, came to pass, as I needed it to, on the timing that I needed it as well. God gave me this little edge. But I know now, everything is on God’s time-table.

I had returned to Miami, and moved to the beach. Where, the first time I got sober, I was in South Miami, IN the city limits, on the mainland. The second time, I was getting sober, ON the beach, in a room, I believed was safe from the prying eyes of those people I had fucked over, on the mainland.

Like they would not talk about whose back and where ? Like nobody would know I was back, “In the rooms, again…” I got sober in the month of December. The worst month to come and attempt sobriety, with the holidays right around the corner.

I had no choice. It was sink or swim.

Thankfully, the men and women who welcomes me the second time, asked me to STAY, they did not TELL me to GO AWAY. I stayed. For those first few weeks, I was safe and insulated. I did not venture far from the SOBE room.

On Christmas Eve, 2001, my friends decided to take me to a Christmas Eve Meeting, In the city, ON the mainland, where I might cross paths with people I knew, and with people who knew me.

I stepped into Poinciana that night. It was a dark, candle lit meeting. Everyone I knew from the first time around was sitting in the room, as I walked in. And you know that look, from people who watched you go, think to themselves, and you know what I am going to write here and say out loud … “Look at that poor sod, back around again.” The look that crossed their faces at me. Pity and Sadness.

That I had to go out, to come back in. I still remember how my friends looked at me that night. If I could have crawled under a rock and disappear, I would have.

On Christmas night, Fonda and Ed, took us all to their house for my first sober holiday meal and fellowship. They took care of me every day that I showed up.

Dr. Bob’s Nightmare …

I spend a great deal of time passing on what I learned to others who want and need it badly. I do it for four reasons:

  1. A sense of Duty
  2. It is a pleasure
  3. Because in doing so I am paying my debt to the men and women who took time to pass it on to me.
  4. Because every time i do it I take out a little more insurance for myself against a possible slip.

Sixteen years have passed now. Sixteen sober holidays in a row. And we can call the holiday season of 2017 a success, because all of our young people are still sober. Having survived their first Sober holiday with us.

Overheard at the meeting tonight:

  • I went to sleep on New Years Eve – Alone
  • I WOKE UP this morning – Sober
  • I did not have to wonder what I did last night
  • My bed was warm and cozy and the sun shone
  • I don’t remember the last time I was sober on New Years Day

At five years sober, I was at our Tuesday meeting, and bitter Bernadette was scheming her holiday plans, thinking out loud to the room, as we listened to her talk.

I’ll be sober on the ground, and drink on the plane, and be sober on the other end. No, maybe I will be drunk on the ground and sober in the air and drunk on the other end … No maybe I’ll just say fuck it and drink all the way across the Atlantic to the UK to see my kids …

I stopped her and spoke these words …

I know you are fresh and vulnerable. I know how you think this scheming is going to work in your favor, but it won’t. If you cannot stay sober, and this trip to see your kids is going to push you to drink, THEN DON’T GO. CHANGE YOUR PLANS… You can CHANGE your plans, you know. You DON’T HAVE TO GO.

She looked at me incredulously. And she asked if I had kids, which I do not. She had kids. ADULT kids, at that. She said that I don’t understand what it is like to be a parent, and I don’t. I responded with this … If your kids are adults, then if you explain the situation to them, about your sobriety, they will understand, if you decide to change your plans and go later, or when you are stronger in sobriety.

She once again looked at me, she grabbed her purse, and walked out of the room, and she never returned. I don’t know what ever became of Bernadette.

It was my first pass at some semblance of sober thinking, at five years sober for me. I thought at the time, that advice was sound. Obviously, it wasn’t, because she was not listening to me at all.

TO THIS DAY, my friends and fellows do not listen to one word I say to them.

Like I have written earlier in the week, my fellows stayed sober, suffering through their first holiday sober. And I said to them, quite confidently the other night that:

Yes, you are sober for Christmas, AND Suffering is entirely OPTIONAL.

They all laughed at me.

Tonight, at the regular Monday meeting, all those kids who laughed at me, were not laughing when they responded with what I wrote above. They were dead sober serious. It was a first for all of them.

Our kids are ALL SOBER TONIGHT.

By the Grace of God and the fellowship of the Program.

Thank God, there is a God and I am NOT HE.