When to Speak

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I changed up my routine today, to make time for a noon time meeting, because a lady friend I adore was speaking. The first time I heard her speak, at the Thursday meeting one night not long ago, I was transfixed by every word she said.

Some of our women friends have similar tragic stories that have downward spirals that, at one point listening to her tell her story, I was saying to myself, “there is no way she can pull out of this death spiral she is in…”

Everybody around me is holding their breaths, waiting for the Miracle to Occur.

And for each of them, the Miracle really did happen. Miraculously !!!

Today I heard something I did not hear before …

At her worst, after loosing her kids, and in a funk, trying to get it together, her sponsor tells her … “Just call home, let your kids know you are still alive…”

Little pieces of advice that seem innocuous at the time, turn out to be the beginning of the building of the bridge, that will eventually lead her back to her kids AND sobriety.

She and I have something in common. A very special education in sobriety.

She came in twenty-five years ago, and I, almost seventeen years ago, respectively.

We both came in bedraggled. And we walked into a room and were overwhelmed by the people in those respective rooms. And by the grace, we both DID what we were TOLD to DO.

Without question. Without argument.

Because in her words from the other night …

YOU WANT TO ARGUE WITH HAPPY ???

The goal in this life is to be happy. Across the board, in all our affairs. Some find it, others do not. Some take the long road, others, get it right away and walk the short path.

She said to me today that, sobriety is too loosey goosey. People are too easily distracted by shiny things and their phones. Nobody wants to follow the simple plan that we both know works.

People want to argue semantics and Happy !!!

UGH.

Yesterday I was grocery shopping, as I am wont to do every few days. We collect plastic and we recycle at the store before we shop. While standing at the machine I noticed a familiar face at the can drop next to me.

I knew this man. He was sober, when I first came in, almost seventeen years ago, and worked at the rehab center I was affiliated with back then, where I had after care and my counselor sessions.

Key words … He WAS sober.

I’ve seen him around over the years. Many of the men and women I knew from those years back then, have all mostly disappeared from the area and the rooms. There aren’t many people from the Old World left in Montreal.

Yesterday, he was disheveled. His clothes were torn and dirty. He was wearing a white sneaker on his left foot, and a green high top sneaker on his right.

While I was depositing my bottles he stopped me amid swing to ask me why I was putting metal into the plastic machine. I stopped and responded with, “why would I put metal in a plastic machine?”

He turned away and walked ahead of me into the store. I did not follow him around, because I don’t know him, like I know my friends in town, so striking up a conversation would have been awkward to say the least.

I kinda wanted to ask him where he had slept the night before and had realized he was wearing two different shoes and why his clothes were ripped and dirty.

You kinda know the answer to those questions pretty quickly, on the first pass.

He had a bag of cans he probably collected from metro bins and garbage cans on his way into the store to get his meager change to buy whatever he could afford for that trip.

Outside the store another friend of mine who does outreach to the Indigenous Community here in the city, was standing guard in the hallway outside, watching his people gather.

Where ever people gather, there is bound to be strife among them. Thankfully he is armed with burger vouchers for McDonald’s in the mall right in that area.

People are more amenable when they have food in their stomachs. So before he steps in the say anything, he hands out food vouchers to anyone who wants them.

He does more than that. He is counselor, medic, affairs officer and the grand poobah of the downtown core.

There is suffering all around us. for those of us who live in this neighborhood. I’ve been here seventeen years now, and I know how bad things can get on a good day. Even worse on a bad day.

Sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. And for the most part, not saying anything is the best policy, because you don’t know the back story you are witnessing at the moment.

Rather not embarrass people on the down and out with observations, they probably already know about themselves, so they don’t need a reminder of how rough they might look at the moment, even if what you want to say would be meaningful to YOU.

So I say hello. I nod. I observe. And I record data.

I know how many of the people I knew who were sober once, are out there on the street today, down and out.

Why some people fall through the cracks and end up back out on the street I don’t know. Some people just fall away. Was it because of people, from the past, who shunned folks away? Those of us who did not attach to certain cliques ?

I met a man who had fifty-eight years of sobriety today. He knew the Montreal Founders. Men and women who are still around from THAT FAR BACK, are few and far between.

They usually come out of seclusion for their cakes to show us, that you CAN be sober for decades and be happily married and happy in general.

Many people at that noon meeting suffer needlessly.

They just don’t connect, even though they know where to go and who to talk to.

And for that we are grateful for small mercies of sobriety. And we utter that slogan, that people usually ignore or don’t know what it means …

THERE BUT FOR THE GRACE OF GOD …

I could be one of them.

Thursday: Drink Your Way Across Europe

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It was a beautiful day today. I did some shopping early on, and hosted one of my guys for another week of Big Book reading, (Read: Booking). I opened and set up the meeting, since many of our folks are away for a few weeks, so we are low on workers for the next month, it is all hands on deck.

We are sitting at the beginning of two weeks of National Holidays, First, here in Quebec, the St. Jean Baptiste Holiday, (For you Separatists out there) not that I have many Francophone readers, or that I am that political to tell you what I think about “Separatist Politics.”

Next weekend is Canada’s 150th Birthday Celebrations countrywide. Canada Day on July 1st, will be the BIGGEST celebration Canada has ever seen. Montreal celebrates 375 years of existence.

Needless to say, Our Provincial and City Governments have gone to great lengths to beautify the city. Millions upon Millions of dollars have been spent to bring Montreal up to speed for our tourists and to get the people on the ground excited to be living in such a wonderful city that IS Montreal.

Who am I to complain …

We who live here want to know WHY they spent so much money on shit we really did not need, while millions go without. We need so many things for our people, that we are not getting, even though the government seems to have deep pockets to spend on rock stumps on the mountain, and electrifying the Jacques Cartier Bridge for the world to see on NEWS CAMS all around the city pointed at the bridge at night.

People need healthcare. So many people need clean water, and homes that are not mold ridden and Indigenous people who live off island REALLY need lives, better lives at that. We need food on our tables, child care, medical assistance, homes, clean water, like I said, there are too many Canadians going without, while the government spend a shit ton of money on beautiful …

WHY ???

Anyways, back to this evening.

Our speaker, a young lady friend of one of our men got up and spoke. We clicked right away. I know her, because I know her boyfriend. They are sober together.

She worked in Travel for a few years. I did myself as well. While I was still drinking too.

We got to compare notes on all the sick ways we used to travel.

READ: Drink Your Way Across Europe.

Nothing was more fun, than on a Friday afternoon, getting on a plane, (in my office we ALWAYS flew First Class) because we could. Free Passes were always a nice perk.

San Francisco, New York, Chicago, London, Paris, or Rio …

The fun started before the plane even took off in those days.

She asked me if I remember any of my trips. I do actually.

I did some serious drinking in my young life. You’d imagine that I was pretty pickled before I hit the ripe age of twenty, seeing how much liquor I could put away.

I am amazed to some degree that I survived those years.

I know, for sure, that I was Stone Cold Sober, when I went to see the Vatican. Because I climbed all those stairs up inside the Cuppola to the roof of St. Peter’s to see St. Peter’s Square from that high up and the Vatican Gardens below.

I drank SO MUCH in Munich that I put a public tour bus out of commission because I was so sick inside that bus on the way back to the city, that I ended up on the pavement, and the bus went in for a deep cleaning and never went back into service.

UGH …

Not A Pretty Drunk at all. Not the most famous memory, but a memory nonetheless.

A good night was had by all.

Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

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Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !