Giving It Away

Lorna Kelly …

On the way to the meeting tonight, I listened again to Lorna speak. I constantly learn new things on every pass. And she says, in the beginning of her shares …

“It would be arrogant of me to think that something I say could possibly help you, when in reality, God thinks I need a lot of help …”

We talked about giving it away. The reading from A.B.S.I was a wonderful read tonight. It brought back many wonderful memories for all of us sitting at the table. Among our group is our local rehab coterie of men and women who come from far away, to get a handle on their stories, and to stop putting gas on an already burning fire that is addiction.

We’ve taken them to our hearts in a way that we have not seen in a long while. They have endeared themselves to us, and we have adopted them into our family. In a little over a week, they will leave Montreal for places far and wide. And hopefully, something they have heard in the past twenty one days will stick.

Talk about memories, always gives rise to much Gratitude.

When this kind of discussion begins, everyone always starts with the day they walked into our specific room, feeling how they felt, when they walked in the door, and how warmly they were met and how they were cared for, in ways they did not imagine could be possible.

Lorna is apt to say, and she does say, that “Every time I speak, I must get my story straight, because every time I tell it, I see it differently, than the time before.” She goes on to say that “Only those folks with long term, LONG TERM sobriety, can really get their stories in a cellular way. We learn how isolated we really were in the bitter end of our disease.”

Working with others came up as well. Nobody has a firm grasp on how that works, because for every man and woman sitting in the room, there are ways of reaching out and working with others.

Some feel that stepping out of their comfort zone and chatting up a newcomer is daunting. And it is.

Over the last little while, I have been testing my chops in asking hard questions and seeking hard answers. Because I question what I know and how I know it, and how to apply what I think I know, against, what I do not.

I step out and ask questions, to which some old timers look at me cross eyed and tell me just to shut up and say nothing, keep my mouth shut and sit here and be shoveled shit night after night like they do.

NOT !!!

It was twelve years before I walked into working with others, because I did not know what I did not know. I did not know I had what it took, nor that I really had a grasp on my own story, to be able to help another human being with their stories.

When I met Bob, and he turned me on to Intentional Prayer, the Three, Seven, Eleven shuffle, he told me that at some point, those words would work themselves into my heart, and out to the universe. And he said to me that if I did this prayer ritual, my life WOULD change.

And it did…

The first time my phone rang in the middle of a meeting, was a surprise. I did not know the boy on the other end, of the line, and I did not know how he got my number, but at that point, he was hysterical, and he called me, of all people.

I finished the meeting and went to him, which began a two year odyssey of sobriety. It was a hard slog, and we learned a lot about each other. But in retrospect, I think an entire group of people had an idealistic vision of me as a placid, non feeling, eunuch, that felt nothing and could do no wrong. And that was sustainable until it wasn’t.

One fateful business meeting was all it took, to shatter the placid calm, layer of myself, when in a moment of stress I raised my voice, and all of my guys went running for the hills, never to speak to me ever again.

That was not a very good outcome of working with others.

Business meetings will do that to you, eventually.

At least I have my guys today, that I have been working with for multiple years, and out of that work, came two best friends who care about each other, their significant others, fiancees, and wives.

Along the way, I have a friend, outside the rooms. A young man who we have cared for, for many years, who stood up for me at my wedding as my best man. Two days ago, his wife gave birth to their fist son, Benjamin.

His first wards to me were these …”Oh My God, his feet are so small!” And I replied, “Yes, you have a little person to care for now, do your best.”

I’ve seen marriages, proposals, and now children come for my friends. My best friend Juan and his wife were married last July and my best friend will be married in 2020. And my buddy in the states is a new father.

We could not be happier for all of them.

Lorna goes on to say that “She does not know if she even ‘has it’ until she has given it away.”

Working with others begins with a conversation. A common idea, a common feeling, a common story element, that brings two people together to talk about that commonality. What happens next is all up to our Higher Powers.

I have a friend, I’ve been working with for a little while. He is newly sober, and came to a meeting one night and begged God the Promises. And I told him to hurry up and wait !

That begging began a discussion, that is still on going.

You never know, one of my best friends said tonight, that something you might say, the littlest of compassion, or the kindest of words, can change the trajectory of someones life in a way we might never have seen, had we not stepped up and shared a little bit of ourselves with someone in difficulty.

It happens … Not very often, so when it does, people pay attention to little things.

Kindness and warmness of heart is key. We never know when someone walks into our space where they are, in their lives, so we talk, honestly and truly. The Friday meeting is a special meeting, because it is the only one of its kind, in “living room” appeal.

Tonight, we tripled our attendance. The weather is growing warmer by the day, and so people are coming out of hibernation, and returning to the old haunt once again, and we could not have been more grateful tonight.

You don’t know what you don’t know. And you don’t know that you have it, until you give it away. And if you don’t try, you remain ignorant of your own abilities. So we encourage our men and women to step boldly into their sobriety and step up and be counted.

You never know if something you have can change a life for the better.

If not Now, When ? If not Me, then Who?

Every day we have a chance to be kind. It is far too easy to be kind, than to be unkind. It takes more energy to be unkind and uncharitable.

Spend your energy wisely.

It will do you and the one you help more good than you ever imagined.

One Day at a Time.

Gratitude Overflowing …

Old Brewery Mission

It is Monday. The weather is frightful. With minus (17c) outside and winds are gusting upwards of 70 km. In other places, roads are impassible and cars are piled up on the highways in Ontario.

Thankfully, I had done all my shopping over the weekend, so as to not having to go outside, until I need to hit a meeting. I can usually shop for four or five days at a time.

The weather people tell us that Spring is on the way, in a few weeks time. And they call it “an abrupt turn into Spring from Winter.” Like it’s gonna happen overnight.

I’ve been spending my Sunday mornings at the Old Brewery Mission, making new friends and networking into another phase of my sobriety. I’m in talks with a few friends who work “in the system” of rehabs, to find a suitable place for me to set down some foundation, and do some work in other areas of the city, with new folks coming in.

It is quite a chore, because not all rehabs run on the same system of hiring and responsibilities. It is harder in some circles to get a job in that field because of the paperwork and commitment one must make to the cause. And I understand that needed commitment. On Friday night, I spoke with a friend who explained the system to me. Over the next little while, he is going to see if he can find me a spot, doing some rehab work, either for pay or no pay. It’s not like I am looking for steady employment, because I cannot, due to my disability payments, bring in steady amounts of money.

I make enough to survive. I am just looking for something else to do, in sobriety, to augment my own program and see if I can work in that field and maybe do something good for others.

The Sunday meeting facilitates meeting other people, you don’t necessarily see in other meetings, because of the progressive nature of the chair/speaker system. Every week the chair changes and also the speaker changes. One week you speak, the following week you find a speaker and that speaker, chairs the next week, ad finds a speaker, so forth and so on.

Other than that, all is well.

Friday: G.O.D. Group Of Drunks

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It has been an interesting week. I’ve always wondered when the other shoe was going to drop for me. Medically …

It seems 50 is going to bring me challenges that I was not expecting in any way. Over the past few months, I have had episodes of serious pain, in my back. So severe that I had to get serious pain killers. Thankfully, I’ve only had to take one so far.

I’ve been to see a osteopath, and she worked on me for an hour a few weeks ago, so I have access to her as often as needed. At $100.00 a visit, that ain’t cheap. But insurance now covers 80%.

Two weeks ago I saw my doctor. who went into my image file when I had my osteoporosis check up and bone density tests and my x-rays of my back, and he missed this little problem, when those tests were done, because we were not looking for a problem, with my bones. So it was overlooked.

He looked again, now that I presented pain issues in a location that had not, in the past bothered me. And he found bone deterioration disease in my spinal column. Namely in L 3-4 and 5. On Sunday last, I had a CT scan on my back. This week, my doctor told me that I really needed to be seen by a spinal surgeon. He therefore took that scan to a consult with said spinal surgeon, that I am still waiting to hear from.

With that said, I am on desk duty. No heavy lifting of furniture, which means that set up has come to an abrupt end. I had to call in the reserves to help me out. My friends all stepped up to do what I cannot do any longer.

Thank God I can still make coffee …

Tonight we read about the fellowship and its humble origins. Appropriate that I started a new round of Big Book study, with one of my guys, before the meeting tonight. A.B.S.I. touched on that topic tonight.

We Should Not Toot Our own Horns, nor take credit and be self-congratulatory.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time. I am not the center of the universe. There is a God, and I know that I am NOT God.

What we cannot do alone, we can do, sitting in a room with our friends, together. If I pray, if we pray, it does not matter to WHOM we are praying, but that we ARE Praying.

A very respected old-timer once said that in a meeting …

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHOM YOU PRAY TO, ONLY THAT YOU PRAY…

It’s that simple.

I also know that if I pray to God, which I do … And I don’t get a direct answer from God, then I know I have to hit a meeting, and listen to my friends. With the proviso that if I go seeking an answer, I have to be attuned to listen for that voice coming from around me.

We take very seriously the work we do as a group, on Friday night. And when one of our people fades, and hits the skids, everybody steps into action. On Monday, I went to the meeting and met a friend, sitting on the periphery. Looking forlorn and lost.

She had drunk again.

Not long before, she was standing up front handing out Beginners chips…

I asked her what happened ? She told me.

Giving someone sober directions, while in an alcoholic stupor, does not work.

I gave her sober advice any ways. Welcomed her, told her we loved her and asked her to sit within the group, and NOT on the periphery.

She did not make it through the meeting in one piece.

She left before I could get to her, by the end. I did not see her go.

Tonight, as a group we spoke about what we can do together, and how we all keep RIGHT SIZED, and everything in perspective. That perspective only works when where are sitting in the same room together.

At the end of the meeting another friend took her two-year cake.

As the crowd of congratulations dispersed, my young lady was standing in front of me, all smiles. She has been sober three days. She thanked me for speaking to her and keeping her within the group circle and not having tossed her aside because she drank again.

She took a chip on Wednesday night.

What we cannot do alone, we CAN DO together.

It takes a village …

And we are a village, for sure.

You never know when you are going to save a life.

Constant Vigilance !!!

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.”

 

Friday: What are you Carrying ???

It is Friday. The best night of the week. It was a good day. I got out early, and arrived at the church, with my music on Shuffle … However, I chose some vintage Duran Duran.

I cranked out set up, in time to spend time with a new man I am working with these days. Now, I get to choose who I invest in and why.

The read spoke about the fellowship, and how there is a give and take in the rooms, when we get here. In the beginning we learn how to give, by simple acts of service, Coffee and Chairs. Greeting at the door. Shaking Hands.

In the ensuing years, we begin to learn about recovery. And we also begin filling our buckets with useful information, that at some point, we will know what to do with and how to use it.

Page 164, in A Vision for You, reminds us that
Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.

It was a very long time, until I realized that, in fact, I did have something to offer, I just needed to learn how to do that from the spiritual angle. That only took 12 years.

Read: I had to learn and know how to pray and communicate with my God.

The read also says that we should give, because it is in giving that we receive. And that we should give, without the expectation of anything in return.

I thought about this, and spoke up early in the hour.

When I do not know what to do myself, I return to the basics. I do service.

History shows me that for a long time, I gave, to people who really did not care that I was giving, because as long as I was doing the lion’s share of work, they did not have to do anything. And some of my friends told me just that. They would not show up, nor do anything to serve, because they knew that I would be there to carry the load.

Selfish and Self Centered.

At the point, post emotional breakdown, that I spoke my mind out loud, people were incensed. They had never heard me get emotional or raise my voice, in all my years of sobriety.

What I did not realize, until a long sober woman said it tonight, that I needed to choose:

Was I going to Carry the Message, or Was I going to carry an Alcoholic/Addict ?

I’ve said before that I usually never say no to my friends, nee sponsees. I will do whatever they need to be done, without complaint. That usually worked for me, until I NEEDED myself.  When it came to the point that I needed from my friends, they could not comprehend that need, nor could they respond or give me what I really needed, because I was carrying them, with the unspoken expectation that My Friends Would be able to give me what I so seriously needed.

I had not realized that then, until my long sober friend said that in the meeting tonight.

I had very lax boundaries. They were porous to a fault.

And several of my friends thought nothing of barging into the private sector of my life with their self centered and selfish needs, even when I said to them that I needed a few days off to grow up and become Fifty years old.

It was obvious on my birthday that my friends did not care about boundaries.

I know today, what I need to know about boundaries.

Those who I work with where I Carry the Message, they are just fine. Those people whom I was Carrying All Along, are no longer.

Alcoholics and Addicts may be light when we pick them off the floor in early sobriety. Because they are void of life and soul, and we take them on to help build them up. But if we don’t know when to let go, and stand back and allow them to walk on their own, and we continue to carry them into sobriety, where we do all the work, they do not learn healthy boundaries, and they tend to take advantage of us.

Over time those same Light Weight Alcoholics and Addict become Very HEAVY.

I can’t carry anyone any more. I need to take care of me. I was told, by my lady friend, that I needed to step back and fill my bucket and relax, and not try so hard to do what others can do themselves.

Food for thought.

Thursday: Friends …

 

It has been a couple of weeks, and my strategy of keeping my friends close has sustained me, during this life transition I am in.

There are certain people in my life, that are anchors for my soul. Just seeing them come into a room is soothing. That look of hello from the crowd, as you are sitting in the chair, and it is your job to “Bring it” to the room.

Tonight was my second sitting in the chair, and both weeks, I really “Brought it.”

Last week was my favorite lady friend. Tonight, I had the pleasure of presenting another anchor friend, who is part of my life. There are only two Jeremy’s on the English side of Montreal sobriety. Myself, Jeremy the Elder, and my other friend Jeremy, the younger.

It is like a Solar Eclipse when you get us both at the same meeting at the same time.

I was chairing for a lady friend of the meeting tonight, and she had lined up my friend to speak tonight. A little serendipitous meeting tonight.

I enjoy listening to my friend talk. And as I listen I am reminded just how hard we fought to get to this point, when so many of the people we knew in rehab or early sobriety, did not make it and have since died.

That is very emotional for all of us.

I am also reminded, watching some of the folks I know, just have no desire to know me beyond saying hello before a meeting. Since my life event, I have changed my tack, so to speak. I’m concentrated on some young people, who need a little hope, and are willing, at this point, to get their hands dirty, ala Service and Reading.

It is Thursday, and after my Thursday meeting, I get to sit with a very close friend who is part of my life. And I am eternally grateful for his presence in my life. He gives me food for thought, and each week, I give him a faith challenge to go study, and I get his weekly bible studies, then I get his weekly lesson from the Book of Mormon.

Life could not be better right now. People I have not seen in some time, have been showing up at the other meetings I go to, which is nice. It is also good that I have changed in so many ways, emotionally and physically, and people are noticing.

I guess I am doing all the right things for now.

Time is of the essence, and if people don’t want what you are selling, then you find those who want to buy, and or, listen to what you have to say.

Sixteen is a very round number of time. Lots of wisdom to share. It is knowing who, really wants what you have and who doesn’t.

And not waste your time with people who don’t want what you have.

More to come.

Days after the New Year …

Courtesy: PBJars

It is bitterly cold out. The kind of bitter that freezes your fingers if you are not wearing gloves… (-17c/-25c w.c.) Everything that came down over the last week has turned to ice ten times over. Sidewalks and walkways are covered in layers of ice which makes for slippery going.

Last night I went to bed earlier than usual. It was a long day having worked a 5 hour shift on the phones. And like the last time I worked a shift prior to my quitting the phones, the calls were exactly the same. Although I had a few really great conversations with friends who called the office. It was great because I haven’t seen these people in meetings over the holidays so it was nice to hear their voices and see how they fared over the holidays.

I slept in until the very last minute before forcing myself out of bed and into the shower to get going today. I am more tired than usual as of late. I set off for the church around 5, a little later than usual. And people started showing up before I completed set up. Our women’s big book study is going strong with sponsors and sponsees showing up early to read their books together.

The meeting was full. We had close to 35 people, I didn’t get a full head count, but we sat the entire circle and most of the side seats. As it was the first meeting after the new year, times were tough for some, and people went out and drank over the weekend. Hence returns were humble and quiet.

We read from the Big Book, Working with Others, Chapter 7 …

Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our twelfth suggestion: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when other fail. Remember they are very ill.

Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends — this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives.

I have shared here before that I have resigned myself to a back seat role in working with others at my home groups. In that I show up, I make coffee, I set up chairs and I am present. I welcome new comers. On the odd occasion I give my phone number out, but I shared tonight that “If I give you my number and that number is not used within the first 48 hours of having that number, then the number is never used at all…” On the odd occasion I’ve given my number out, few, few people have gone on and used it.

Big things are happening in our meeting. Lots of changes. Sponsors and sponsees breaking up, and making sure that sponsees are safe from going out and drinking over it. And to make sure they keep up with their step work even though they are sponsorless at the moment. Shit happens. And sometimes egos and attitudes come to bear and breakups happen. It is sad, but it happens. So we keep them all in our prayers.

When ego takes over a relationship, that is a sign that things are going to go overboard. Big attitudes and egos are a problem. We have to remember that it is principles before personalities. We have to be careful when working with others that we do it from a place of grace and not from the place of ego. Sadly, some forget this thought.

A good night was had by all. All of our attendees are sober tonight, And we started the year off working with others, as I thought that this would be a good place to start for the group. And it was well received.

Vacation continues until the 18th. Not a whole lot on tap for the week except my next meeting on Friday night. I may hit St. Matthias on Thursday night, we’ll see how cold it is that night, because I am surely not going to walk all that way in freezing temperatures. And I need to re-up my Opus card because I used up all my tickets on Monday going to and from the phones.

And financial aide has not come yet. Those god damned fuckers in Quebec City should be hung by their balls out in the cold for screwing us over – over the holidays. They plainly know how to fuck people over royally. Bastards…

More to come, stay tuned …