Monday: “Todd” As I Understand Him

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At this evenings Monday Meeting, we read Step Three.

“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.”

Step Three is all about the “DECISION.”

Bill was of several opinions when it came to this step. In essence, he was “All over the place” when it came to God. The proof we all see, is right in the books, as they were written and published. The words have not changed, over all these years.

Bill is great at CONTRADICTING himself over and over again, repeatedly.

At our Friday meeting, we read the book As Bill Sees it. We’ve read this book several times over. We just have not had the courage to pick something else, so A.B.S.I. is re-read over and over.

Over the years, I’ve watched countless people, struggle with God. People who come from faith traditions of their own (read: Family) struggle the most. Followed closely by those who find the word GOD objectionable from the Get Go.

I mean really, if you cannot read a book with the word God, in it, without getting offended, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve spent the better part of my sobriety, apologizing for the word God. Trying, however hard it took me, to get people into their steps and to do their steps, with a viable “work around” for God.

Many of those folks, I had worked with previously, are no longer in my life today.

Thinking about God, tonight, began with a conversation with a friend, before the meeting. My friend has a new job. One that requires, manual labor.

He’s a janitor …

He pushes a broom and a mop and he shovels snow.

Thankless, Mundane, Work.

However mundane, I’ve told him about a portion of my long story.

When I met Todd, more than twenty-five years ago, the way I worked myself onto his “team” was through manual labor. The bar was moving from point A to point B. I knew this move was coming.

And from the very first night, I loved Todd, intimately. I knew the WHY.

From the first moments, in his blue-eyed gaze, I was transfixed. Thinking, in retrospect, Todd, was the first man I ever trusted, implicitly.

I worked like a mad man when the move night arrived. And for weeks after, as we built the bar, in an empty building from the ground up, I proved my worth, through manual labor. He hired me full-time.

It’s what we BOTH did not know then, that would solidify our relationship.

In the world we lived in, there were roles and protocols. Todd lived in His truth, and I knew mine as well. When I got sick, and told Todd that I was going to die, he wept.

Todd’s role in my life had shifted, just a little bit. Well a WHOLE LOT ACTUALLY !!!

When everybody else ran for the hills, away from the fire, Todd stepped into it with all that He had. One look from Him, four simple words from HIM, was all that I needed.

In the beginning, when all was lost, and I was running on empty, emotionally, mentally and physically, Todd was the Pool of Everlasting Water, that never went dry, ever.

Left to my own devices and my mind, falling apart, was not good at all.

Todd put down a rule, that I followed, to the last letter. Because I trusted Him and Loved Him.

He said to me: You have a life outside this building. I know it is difficult. But I have an answer for you. He said that as I approached the building front doors, I needed to prepare to drop anything that was worrying me, AT the DOOR, outside and leave it there.

When I stepped through the doors, and the doors closed behind me, THE ONLY thing you have to worry about is the job you are assigned on any given night, for as long as that shift lasted.

All I had to think about was work, and nothing else.

That was HUGE.

I could sink myself into my world. I could dress any way I wanted. Back then I was still young and beautiful. That always worked in my favor. I was protected by Todd, because I was an untouchable. Without Todd’s permission, men in the room knew that I was off-limits.

Every job. Every task. Every mundane task, every dirty task, I had, had an attached lesson to it. Every night, there was something new to be learned, one way or another.

I have documented all those various lessons, here on the Blog, in the Pages Section.

My friend, tonight, started his new job. Mundane. Thankless. Solitary.

Meditative …He sees this benefit himself.

Every night, in retrospect, I was learning Step Three, on a nightly basis. WHILE, I was getting sober the first time. I have always said that my education inside the walls of the bar, when it came to sobriety, were worth MORE than sitting in the dysfunctional room that I went to meetings in, because of the toxic messages that were thrown at me night after night for the first year.

I learned to Turn it Over, over and over again. Until I got it right.

With Todd, that did not take long at all. Because His words were Gospel. Whatever He said to me, sunk deep into my soul and psyche. I never trusted another man, in my life, like I trusted Todd. Not my father, not my husband today, No One …

I never second guessed Todd and I never spoke back at him either. Ever …

Sadly, today, I second guess God. And I back talk God as well.
My favorite phrase today is:

YEAH BUT …

It is so simple. It is painfully simple. And Being so far away from that Time and Place, knowing what it felt like to sink into Todd (read: God) for all that it was worth, puts me at a disadvantage. And I should know better.

My spiritual director caught this miss-step, and he called me on it.

And I knew he was right. And tonight, talking to my friend, before the meeting, just nailed it for me. And then the chair introduces Step three for consideration.

Was that ODD or was that GOD ???

I’ve met God, Incarnate. He walked with me through the worst time in my life, and I am still alive and can tell you this story.

There IS a GOD and I am not He.

Friday: The Quality of Surrender

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It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The first really BIG weekend in Montreal has begun. The F1 Grand Prix, is the penultimate event of the season for the city and the millions of people who come from far and wide to participate.

It only gets better from here, with the Festival Season that opens over the next month.

I did nothing all day. I did my shop early and came home and crawled back into bed. I’m not opening any longer, which frees me to head out a little later than usual. I got ready to go and took my time in getting to the church. The transfer out was quick, and I arrived at the church to find a friend sitting on the church steps, enjoying the sun, so I sat with him for a bit and chatted.

A new group of young men are on the stage to open and set up. We, (read: the group conscience) spoke and we handed the keys and responsibilities to them, so that they would be responsible and show up and become service hounds in the process.

Experience over the years has taught us one true thing …

Service will keep you sober.

The reading WAS Step Three …Actually … The Step Three Prayer.

I heard many things spoken. But one young man said something that I actually wrote down. Step Three is an important step. It is the first step where a prayer is asked of us.

It asks of us to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood him.

Step Three reads: Made a decision, to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

This appears on Page 63 of the Big Book.

The three most important words in the Big Book, appear on page 112.

Read This Book …

This young man said: Surrender has to come first, before we utter this prayer out loud. Our surrender affects everything else that comes afterwards.

The Quality of my surrender dictates how everything will turn out.

How much do we surrender when we pray ? 10%, 50%, 100%

I can concede that I need to “Turn it over,” But in my case, my surrender usually has conditions, or the usual, “Yeah BUT.” My sponsor said to me, not long ago, that I needed to open my fist and turn my hand towards God and Let Go Absolutely.

With No Conditions, or Explanations or Expectations.

Surrender is the whole point of getting sober.

I can’t – He Can – So I will let Him.

We cannot do this thing alone, which is why we need to go to meetings, and we also need others. I know, for me, that when I pray to God, I am either going to get an Up/Down response, or if the Up/Down does not come, I need to go to a meeting and listen to my friends and get a vertical person to person response.

If God does not talk to me directly, I usually find that He speaks through other people in any meeting I go to. It usually works that way for me.

Lately, God needs my attention. And I either accept that or I do not. I know that when God needs my attention, he removes something from me, in order that I have more of me to pay attention to Him.

That is either the removal of people, places, things or activities.

We believe that we always need to be engaged. Always doing something, helping everyone else, trying to wrest control over a situation that might be OUT of control.

I’ve been spread too thin for too long. People have taken advantage of my good will. And eventually, I get pushed over my personal limit of Fuck It …

So I sat in front of the church this evening, with nothing to do, talking to a friend.

That was a particularly good God Moment.

When I got sober the second time, I was ready to surrender. And in the moment when I got on my knees and prayed to God, I surrendered.

The rest you can say is history.

Because I am right here, right now.

And We did not drink today.

And together, the entire room, spoke with one voice, The Third Step Prayer.

It was a good thing …

Physician Heal Thyself … “Absolutley, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly”

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Tonight, January 9th …We read, Physician Heal Thyself. A story about Humility. A story about Higher Power, A story about Turning it Over.  And this topic that I had written on some time ago, repeats itself. So I present it again.

An old friend came to the meeting tonight. A friend I have known since he came in some time ago, and I had an amends to make to him, because, on a particular night, I stood in front of a meeting, and spoke. It was the first time I had spoken at a meeting in over five years. In retrospect, I was not very sober.

I might have had some time, but on that particular night, I was all over the map. And not seeing this friend since, I have had time to see the past, in the light that I see it now.

Lessons come, but the real nugget only comes in retrospect.

And my friend said to me that he was in the market for a sponsor, that his double digit sponsor was fading away into the air and away from meetings. On the way to the metro the discussion we were having had a sense of urgency to it, incomplete though it was.

Hopefully we will cross paths again.

Juan is set to speak, for the first time in his sober journey at St Matthias on the 26th. I wasn’t sure he would accept, but he did gladly. Its a very important job when you get to do it for the first time. I’ve never heard him tell his story to a room, no one has. But I know his story from our work together over the past two years.

I’ve had some time to regroup, and re-order my life. Now I know, really, at this point, what I want, where I am going, and what I need to do to get there. I’ve made some new contacts in other meetings. I’ve taken on a service position at the Area level for the Friday meeting, which is a two year commitment. I’ve joined the Thursday night meeting, officially, and I chaired the business meeting last week. The Monday Big Book meeting has become part of my regular meeting schedule.

We are off to a good start. Everybody has work to do. We are all ordering our lives accordingly, using new tools, (read: Bullet Journal).

With that I give you … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly, Redux.

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 that 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 that we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all 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.

When I arrived at the point that God felt I was ready to work with others, he opened the gates and sent me my troop. And ever since then, I have endeavored to be absolutely, completely, thoroughly, honest. Over the past few days, it has been said that I have kept my troop honest. Which filled my heart with joy overflowing.

There are things we do daily, weekly, and often that keep us on the path to staying honest in all our affairs. Over the past few weeks, we have heard stories, and I have written about them here. The overarching theme lately has been, what happens when we are dishonest, when we keep secrets and when we tell lies.

I can’t repeat often enough, the warnings we are hearing from the chair at speaker meetings. Because now, I listen to my friends talk about their stories, and the varied choices they had made and continue to make, and I utter that prayer …

There but for the Grace of God go I … I could be them !

How it Works, is a staple reading, you hear at almost every meeting, one way or another. It is repetitive, and the words never change. They were written decades ago and are words of wisdom from a bygone era. After hearing this reading read, one too many times, I heard a particular woman, get up and read this passage, slowly, passionately, word for word, slowly, methodically, with a sense of meaning I had not heard before in the past.

There are two types of How It Works Readers…

  • The Machine Gun barrage – from beginning to end without a breath
  • The Toss it all Together reader – who does not respect the comma or period.

Tonight, we listened to it read at the top of the meeting, and we heard the reading parsed by our speaker tonight.

“Absolutley, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly”

There comes a time in sobriety, that we think we have this all wrapped up, and we are doing well, and have no fear of that first drink. Scary …

But when the chips are down, and we are against the proverbial wall, are we able to speak to our friends and fellows, and tell them that “maybe we are not doing so well, and that we may be in trouble, and that the outsides might not be congruent with our insides?”

We go into meetings, and we always want to look good on the outside, because we want our fellows to see calm, sober, good looking people. But just beneath the surface, the reality might be that we are not really calm, or sober, or good looking.

Sometimes, we are just not 100%.

The truth is when we are able to say, “I am not okay!”

If we are rooted in honesty, even if it hurts, we can share anything with our friends and sponsors. This is where, secrets and lies, arise. They say, and I heard it again tonight, that “While we are in meetings, our alcoholism is out in the parking lot doing push ups … Waiting patiently for us outside.”

And you never know, when it is going to happen. We begin to keep secrets, and our old alcoholic behavior rears its ugly head. Our old thinking returns, old patterns return, and we slip into old behavior, oh so quietly. And we might not recognize it right away, and if we don’t, we are off to the races.

They tell us that when we hit a slip, that it is premeditated. That often, what starts as an errant thought, becomes an errant action. Time and time again, we listen to stories of people who go back out, and when they return, we hear what happened and what led them back out the door.

Sobriety Looses Its Priority.

What happens when we keep secrets and what happens when we begin telling lies, not to others, but lying to ourselves to begin with? It begins with us, in our heads. If we are not vigilant we can fall into this trap. Secrets and Lies.

It might be simple and innocuous, but after a while, becomes a snowball heading down the mountain at 100 miles per hour.

I sat there tonight, listening to a man tell a story about being sober a LONG time, falling into old behavior, and then he kept a secret and told a few lies, and then ended up in a bar, with not one beer, BUT TWO …

Then follows years of getting stuck in the proverbial revolving door. Our man is one, that I have seen in my time, who collect enough beginner’s chips to tile a bathroom with. He goes to meetings, but is unwilling to get honest. Sponsors turn him away and won’t take him on, because, let’s face it, if we are being honest, if you aren’t in the game, most men or women would not take you on, unless you are ready and willing to get honest, because this is your life/our life we are talking about.

The warning is very stark and very real.

We heard it again tonight, those similar words,

“Please, for the love of God, Do Not Do what I did.”

If you are out there in the room, and you are pondering a slip, or you are in any way feeling squirrely, or you are coming back, please, talk to someone, don’t leave this room with shit on your shoulders.

When I hear stories like this time and time again, I come home and I write them down, then I turn around and speak to my troop about warnings and prevention.

I remind them that this is not a game to be taken lightly. They need to be in the game 100%, and we work tirelessly, to maintain The Work at maximum efficiency.

Winter has not been kind to our numbers. For the last few months, on both the sides of women and men, we have heard how they have battled the bottle in sobriety.

I go to my meetings, and I know my friends, and I get there early enough that I get to spend twenty minutes talking to them. We know who the front row sobriety folks are, and we also know who the back benchers are. Which is why, at certain meetings, we have moved seats forward and off the back wall. We put out more chairs in the room proper, to make sure, everyone is sitting among everybody else.

That is why we stress, at my home groups that, the twenty minutes before and the twenty minutes after are the most important minutes in a meeting, because we get fellowship, phone numbers and friends. Not necessarily in that order.

The warnings have been clear … Absolutely, Completely, Thoroughly, Honestly.

Anything else, is a recipe for certain disaster …