Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Temperance - The Blessing of a Balanced Heart

The Temperance card has a special and very personal meaning to me, and I will tell you why. This is the card of having the blessing of balanced heart with love, forgiveness, harmony and having cooperative relationships with all especially with ourselves.

I spent my early years as a little girl with my family, living in a real diverse neighbourhood of East End Toronto, until I was nine years old.
Later on when I was 27, I returned in 1979, to study Mime, the basis of theatre.

I found a place to live, The Women's Christian Temperance Union on Gerard and Young, close to the school I was attending. Our "school" was made up of nine students. We had our classes everyday in one of the oldest Presbyterian churches in Toronto in the basement. 
Ironically as it might be, during this time I didn't understand temperance nor sobriety. I drank, smoked, did drugs and wasn't a  good " Christian ", although I wanted to be, but didn't really have a clue how to really live a sober, spiritual life.

Before I knew it, I was to meet my future husband Bill, just around the corner at Toronto at the Young Street Mission, one evening after praying to God to bring me a Christian man to love. Bill and I met in December '79, he was clean, and sober. This caused me to refrain from drinking. I didn't want to drink. We began dating in January 1980, married in June 21st, after moving back to Nova Scotia that Summer. By September he was dead at 26, of complications from brittle diabetes, and drug induced paranoid schizophrenia he developed at the age of 16. Upon his death I hit the bottle hard, and it took me fifteen years by the Grace of God to finally learn how to live a spiritual life, and got myself clean and sober, when I admitted to myself, I was powerless over alcohol, and that my life had become unmanageable. I got myself to the rooms of the A.A.12 Step fellowship in 1994 and have never looked back.

In 2005 I returned to Toronto. This time round, it was for the International  A.A. Convention, where there were 75,000 recovering alcoholics. who we gathered in the city of Toronto for incredible meetings and fellowship.

While I was wandering around the main area of the convention centre, I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman, an A.A. long timer passing out flyers for a special meeting about the A.A. archives which wasn't listed in the booklet that had all of the meetings taking place and where. This was going to be special meeting. I made up my mind to go.

 It wasn't until I arrived at the meeting I realized exactly where I was. I was back at the very same Saint Andrew's Presbyterian Church where I had attended classes, studying Mime. The meeting was  profoundly meaningful to me, listening to the history of A.A., some of these long time members knew Bill W, the co-founder of A.A. During this once in a life time opportunity during the Convention I experienced a deep healing, resolution, and a sense of closure. I felt I'd come full circle.

Previously arriving in Toronto for the Convention, I'd miraculously re-connected on line with Bill's best friend, and best man who I had lost touch with. This was not a coincidence.

I had been on a Catholic dating site, and found Don's profile. It had been so many years since I'd last seen him at our wedding, I didn't recognize who he was, but was oddly drawn to him. As we began to communicate with one another, a feeling came over me that is difficult to explain, but I was coming to the unbelievable realization that this might be Don. I began to shake like never before, and hyperventilate. I went downstairs, brought up a picture I'd had of him from my wedding photo album, and compared it to his profile picture on the dating site.

I'd told him previously in our conversation online I was coming to Toronto.  We then found out we were both recovering members of A.A. and I confirmed it was Don, after asking questions about things that only I would know, if it was in fact him.

When I arrived in Toronto for the AA Convention and got settled in, I called Don immediately, and we arranged to meet at the Centre were there would be a huge meeting. I found out where he was sitting, and sat down beside him, after we hugged.

 Don had become a serious addict, and was very ill. It was heartbreaking to see him in such a fragile state. He wasn't the same person I once knew. He had once been studying for the priesthood and was from such a loving family from Cape Breton Nova Scotia. Bill loved his family like his own, and they dearly loved him.

Don and I now had a chance to talk about Bill, and what had happened, as Don was one of the last people to have seen him alive, before he'd died in Toronto, while I was in Nova Scotia.

What I learned from seeing Don was that this was not a chance meeting. It was meant to be, and I felt there had been a higher purpose, in that my hope and prayer was, that Don be enabled to hopefully find sobriety and a restoration in his health. God had brought us together under these circumstances in a mysterious and I think a miraculous way in order to find the temperance we both were so badly in need of, and had long been searching for. We both found this in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous after all these years. We were now two alcoholics helping one another.This is the miracle of A.A.

 "Whenever, wherever, one alcoholic meets another alcoholic and sees in that person first and foremost not that he or she is male or female, or black or white, or Christian, Buddhist, Jew, or Atheist, or gay or straight, or whatever, but sees... that he or she is alcoholic and that therefore both of them need each other - there will be not only an Alcoholics Anonymous, but there will be the Alcoholics Anonymous that you and I love so much and respect so deeply."

                                                  - Ernie Kurtz


Ellen said...

Thank you for sharing this part of your life here. It must feel so deeply loved if you can see the hand of God working wonders in your life.

Unknown said...

Thank you Ellen.
My faith is strong, that my mother imparted to me, and Bill's faith was so strong. He inspired me to be a better person, as did my brother. They are all gone now, and are always close to me and I know watch over me.

Ellen said...

It is very inspiring to see how your faith has stayed strong and perhaps even grown stronger over the years during such challenging times
Big Hug!

Unknown said...

I remember so well those who had been through so much suffering in life, whom I met in recovery and I use to say to my self and wonder how did they ever get through it. I saw them face so much and it always inspired me in knowing if they could get through so much, I could bare the burdens life always gives us at one time or another. Having gratitude and that sense of humour is vital for life regardless of what is happening.

Great Big Hug back to you Ellen <3