Every time I stand before a room of alcoholics, I have to first pray and then wait for the first words of inspiration to come not knowing where I should start to tell my story. Each room is different. Each group is different. But the message is the same. Depending on who is sitting in the gallery, I moderate my story slightly to make sure I don’t upset the fine sensibilities of those who might get bent with certain words, identifiers or differentiations.
Recently the topic of compassion has come up with my writing about “Fear and Trembling.” And I maintain my point that people are not bred to be compassionate. We all have our faults and issues with each other. Children are compassionate because of the fact that they have not been jaded by the world’s indifference to suffering and illness.
It has been my experience and part of my religious studies to learn much about men and women. The fact that I am gay and HIV positive, gives me clear insight into how people are from the get go, because I know what people are capable of. I have seen men and women become “compassion-less and heart-less.”
People do not think about death and dying until they are faced with it in their own lives. People have no clue about what illness is until it touches them directly or indirectly, and then they attempt to rally around us for “the cause,” whatever cause that is, but do they really get it or understand? Some do, most don’t. And until you have walked a day, a week, a month or a year in my shoes, don’t even think you can second guess my experience. You may disagree and that’s fine by me.
Death and dying or disease is not really coffee table discussion. Gay and AIDS is definitely not coffee table discussion and even today, those two words polarize people when they are faced with truth and reality. Some people cannot bring themselves to share in the experience, but for the most part, most are willing to listen when the story is part of their microcosm.
Compassion is learned behavior – like all lessons of behavior. We are taught to hate, we are taught to be rigid and unforgiving. We are taught to differentiate and to judge – but real compassion comes to those who have seen hell and know it for what it really is, and only through the spiritual path can we learn what real compassion is and how we are to be compassionate to our brothers and sisters.
So we pray,
God grant me the Serenity
to Accept the things I cannot change
the Courage to change the things I can
and the Wisdom to know the difference
Grant me Patience with things that take time
Appreciation for all that I have
Tolerance for those with different struggles
and the Strength to get up and try again
One day at a time…
Tonight I spoke about hindsight. What I have learned in 5 years of sobriety. What I have learned about the past and the time line that happened and why it happened that way. I have a gift of hindsight and understanding. I can see the past for what it was, and today I have made peace with the past. I have forgiven and I have moved on. Sobriety is a gift that I treasure and protect fiercely. I honor it and I take care of it.
Men and women of today were children who were forced, in most cases, to deal with the baggage that their parents carried into their adult lives. It was my experience, that my parents had a lot of baggage and also, they never admitted anything nor let go the truth of what they were going through, because back then, parents never talked about anything.
It took a long time to get here. I have some wisdom and I have some knowledge because I kept showing up. I listened to men and women share their stories over the years, and I have learned from them. Today I give back where ever and when ever I am asked. It is cathartic to stand up in front of a room of alcoholics and say those words…
“My name is Jeremy and I am an alcoholic and an addict…”
I am free today because of the grace of God and the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The prayers of an alcoholic:
1. Give me the hangover that I won’t soon forget
2. Put an alcoholic in my path
3. Get me to a meeting
4. God grant me the gift of desperation…
Tonight I remembered Troy, the young man who got me to the meeting that started my sobriety, the second time around and as I talked of him in my story of sobriety, I wished silently that he is still sober to this day, and that life has been kind to him.
Thank you for my sobriety…