It was a gloomy day out as I prepped to leave for the evening. And loathed to carry my umbrella, I wore a hoodie and had my tuque in my bag, just in case.
There have been discussions about my sharing my thoughts on death and the fact that my doctor is adamant that I am to drop dead soon. The consensus is that I should definitely get a second opinion – a new fresh set of eyes to look at my file and give me some constructive truth.
All of my labs are fine. There was no discussion of them directly or in passing. My HIV numbers are all nominal – like they have been for more than a year. Tomorrow I will call the clinic and make my request. And if they can accommodate me then I will take my business elsewhere. I am not going to sit here and ruminate over dying. That is the farthest thing from my heart and mind and I don’t appreciate someone taking that tack with me and give me no further information. based on his appraisal.
It rained …
I made my transit across the square with a stop at Pharmaprix both on the way out and on the way back. The mall is still in remodeling phase. Lots of empty space and walls up all over the main floor.
I noticed last night, that the Seville crane was being taken down. They completed that mission over the weekend. I guess that means no more heavy lifting for phase three any more. There are a few stacks of bricks on the property still waiting to be used. In the main large space underneath phase three is Adonis, a small chain grocery store. That should be a welcome change.
There are lots of plans going on for this end of town. We’ve not heard anything since the proposal to raze the Provigo and build a high rise building in its place, and move Provigo further up the block in the old Omer de Seres space, but there is a condo sign out front of that space, so it may not be taken up by Provigo unless they build up – out of the main building into a high rise condo.
We sat a modest number of folks. Die hard Sunday night attendees. We are at Chapter 8 – to Wives. When the book was published long ago, it was geared to men. Not many women were represented in the room just yet, but this chapter was written to the few who began women’s recovery in the rooms.
We read the first few pages of what the lay of the land was for the woman with an alcoholic in their lives, and just what happens to relationships and businesses and work lives.
And I wonder… What would have happened if this solution based answer to the problem of alcoholism was introduced to my family? Because back then, in the 40′s for my grandparents, the 50′s and 60′s for my parents, women married for better or for worse. They were in it good or bad. My mother’s sister was smart, she did not marry into the problem of alcoholism. She stayed clear of what she was witness to through the eyes of her siblings, family and friends.
I ran roughshod through my family life. Dad was a Jekyl and Hide drinker. And he could flip the switch on his personalities with ease. When it was good it was good, but when it was bad it was worse.
My parent’s were not solution oriented people. Alcoholism existed. Deal with it, but never speak of it or go to find a solution for it. What happens at home stays at home, no one need know about this blight on our family.
Thank God I am sober today. I am grateful for all good things.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
It has been an interesting past couple of days. And I chose not to write yesterday because I was waiting on a medical call from my doctor after our short but terse visit together.
Obviously, he says one thing, then does another.
Because of what he said at my appointment was of such import and dire warnings that he should have followed up on what he wanted to do next.
Alas, I am still waiting…
By the Numbers …
16 April 2013 VL 39 copies CD4% 45 CD4Abs 1080
02 Jan 2013 VL 39 copies CD4% 45 CD4Abs 1440
07 Aug 2012 VL 39 copies CD4% 44 CD4Abs 1276
My t-cells seem to fluctuate around that thousand mark. But as long as my percentages remain at 45% there is no worry from my doctor. I got copies from my file/chart that has a more explicit history of my treatment.
Two appointments ago, my doctor mentioned that a change is coming for my treatment plan. The new regimen is not online yet here in Canada. So I remain on what I am taking until then. Probably six months to a year out.
Secondly, my doctor has been fixated on my heart. A fixation that has only grown in earnest this appointment yesterday. He tells me one thing, then I go to see his brother for my diabetes issues and George sends me for a cardiogram.
I dropped two copies off to both clinics. Now, it is understood that if a problem arises that they would call me immediately because something needs attention right away.
I’ve been working on that assumption for all these years. So I dropped that lab off and got no response.
Yesterday at my appointment my doctor mentioned in passing that there was some abnormality on the scan. He did not elaborate. He then went on this tirade that I was going to drop dead.
Or have a heart attack soon, as in IMMINENT !!!
He has been about this warning for some time. However he does not elaborate on the warning. Frustrating.
He wanted to order a battery of tests. A stress test and all that goes along with it, and he left it at that. He said nothing encouraging to me yesterday. He was very grim. However good my labs were, he seems fixated on my mortality.
More than usual. Is this about him or me I wonder !!!
Since cardiac issues run in my family, not to mention strokes, I am on God’s good graces, seeing my father has had several heart attacks, and both his parents were knocked down by terrible debilitating strokes. I should be right in line for some catastrophic heart related issue … Let Us Pray !!!
I left that appointment shaking my head. Not knowing what to feel or whether I should really be worrying. The secretary at the clinic was supposed to make arrangements, check with my doc and call me back.
Now, had this been an immense emergency, like needing these tests right away, they would have already contacted me into the cardiac clinic.
They haven’t … No call at all, two days later. Should I worry or not? Do I give in to serious ruminating and worry that my mortality is in jeopardy? I have no clue, so until such time I get a call or further warning, I am going to go on with my life.
An issue has arisen with the Quebec government and my financial aide file. They say I owe them almost $3000.00 in back loans. AIDS and HIV are disability issues and that loan should have been converted to bursaries long ago but weren’t. When I applied for financial aide, I submitted a disability form in late 2003. They are fixated on this date as my diagnosis date. They are wrong.
My diagnosis date was July 8th 1994. Not November 2003.
I have to contact my primary care physician in Miami to get him to send some notes up here to verify that I was treated in their clinic prior to my arriving here in Canada. Ugh !!!
*** *** *** ***
Today is Thursday. I usually don’t sit here and stare at my monitor all day long. so instead I sleep until I need to get up and go. Which is what I did today.
I was up early and out by twenty to six for the meeting. It has been on the cool side the past few nights. And on the way home I was chilled.
We sat a fair number and hit kitty goal again tonight.
Our chair read from the Big Book, and Chapter Five … How it Works.
“If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, then you are ready to take certain steps.”
One line. Lots of words. People all over the place on the topic of steps.
There is a note in my Big Book on Step Twelve …
Having HAD a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps, we tried to carry the message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
In my book I have this notation at Step 12 … There is no other result if you work the steps…
We talked long and hard about steps, where we all are at the moment, what he did, how we did it and what happened afterwards.
Suffice to say that at ten years, I had a spiritual awakening. I have worked my steps again since then. I live in my steps today, to the best of my ability.
I am not perfect. I still have issues, with myself and a few others. Not many others. But still. I do what I can every day to help someone else.
It was a good night.
More to come, stay tuned…
All the rain they promised us – did not materialize. However hard it tried to spit rain over night. Enough fell to wet the streets and douse the trees with a little moisture, but significant rain did not fall.
It has been chilly on the side of cold, cold enough to warrant a hoodie on top of a shirt, because I was cold wearing only a sweatshirt this evening. We stuck to the tunnel to transit from here to the church and back.
We arrived at the church and the hall was a mess of people, tables and chairs all over the place and people were coming and going hastily. We learned soon after that the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Choir performed at the church this afternoon, hence all the people.
We sorted out tables and chairs, and stacked the piles of chairs and put the ones we did not need back in the store room. Clean up took a few minutes and then we sorted out the room for the meeting that followed.
We sat a fair number of folks, and finished our reading of Chapter Seven, Working with Others. The final passage we read deals with family and relationships and how to navigate sticky places in new found sobriety.
The best I can be when working with others, is just to be present. And usually God will direct the scene as He sees fit. That’s why we have the twenty minutes prior and twenty minutes after guide. Because that’s when we got to work with others. Presence, the greatest gift you can give to your fellows.
*** *** *** ***
It is a parent day today. And navigating them is pretty artful. This is where I get to Debbie Downer a bit.
The last time I saw my mother was for twenty minutes on New Years Day 2001, when my parents arrived on my doorstep for an impromptu visit deigned by my father, but not long enough to create a “sticky memory” I don’t remember the substance of the visit or the words said, but I do remember the defiant “NO” I got from my father as to hosting a lunch for the three of us before they headed back on the road to Sarasota.
End of that thread …
Honor thy Father and Mother … The bible says so. I don’t see the logic in honoring someone who does not deign to recognize or honor me.
Being Gay and HIV+ were always the kickers in our relationship.
But I thought that when children grow up and become adults, they should be able to make decisions for themselves hopefully good ones that will help them prosper and grow further.
I made two decisions in sobriety – the first and second time, that served me. I took my right to exist and to move on from dire straits and was punished for making adult decisions. It was far better to be resentful and angry, rather than support a child in his decisions about his life. Fuck me …
My move to Montreal was fraught with anger. How dare I piss on my American heritage and dishonor my father by taking a birthright that was mine to take and leave all that I knew for a place that I would make my home.
Ohhh the anger …
My father spoke family gospel and what he said was the end all be all of any argument. And so it went. I spent a year, a calendar year, trying to salvage a relationship with my mother.
I wrote, called, sent packages, etc … to no avail.
My parents were so put out by my decision to move North that silence and punishment was their only recourse. But of course that was their modus opperandi.
The last conversation I had with my mother went this way … And I quote …
“If I or your father ever get sick or die, You will not be contacted, ever !!!”
That conversation took place more than 11 years ago. Fuck me …
Faggots do not get respect, nor dignity. AIDS ridden children get nothing but scorn and indignation. When the chips fell where they did people scattered, including my family. I had no choice or say in the matter.
I was fucked from the word Go !!!
So happy Mother’s day to you all.
How do you pray away the ache the rises in the heart about things you cannot change nor do anything to make better ???
I still don’t have the answer to that question.
It was a good day. Friends, fellows and a meeting. It can’t get better than that.
More to come, stay tuned…
Courtesy: Jonathan by Pete Taylor on Flickr
The week has begun. And mother nature is making up for so much cold and snow with gorgeous days filled with sunshine and warmth. Rain is in the forecast, the trees and green spaces are greening up very nicely. But we also need to be watered.
As is usual, I was up and ready to go early this evening. With it being so nice outside, getting to the meeting early payed. We spent the time before the meeting sitting outside the church talking – the meeting before the meeting.
The room was full. We sat almost every chair. And we read from Living Sober, and First things First. It is good that newcomers come to this meeting, and we get to hear how they parse and put to use the slogans and passages from the book in their lives, as they get sober. Oh the pains of early sobriety !!! Everything is upside down and things are crazy and life hasn’t fallen into shape just yet, so the struggle continues for them.
it is also good the people with considerable time are interspersed between the newbies, and we all listen, because it is the newcomer that keeps us with time around.
One of our men quoted H.A.L.T … Hungry Angry Lonely and Tired
Another spoke of what he learned in his first ten years, in hindsight, and what changed in the second decade of his sobriety. And why he still goes to meetings as often as he does. So that he never picks up that first drink.
It is funny what stories come to mind for me when I go to a meeting. And they seem apropos to the topic at hand.
Getting down and dirty I spoke. The first time I got sober, it was medically necessary. I was diagnosed with terminal illness and I was given my end date. I got and stayed sober. I did everything I was told to do, in a first thing first method. And I never strayed very far from those directions, and they saved my life.
Yes, I counted to days until I was supposed to die, and however hard my sponsor, then, chided me, I did it anyways.
When I got to my death date, I was still alive. And With that I had to figure out what I was going to do next. That led me to four years of sobriety. But slogans and pointers became less and less used. And I began to fade from the program and my sobriety lost its priority. S.L.I.P.
I took my good health for granted and made that fateful decision to upgrade my alcoholism to drug addiction. Surely that step up should have, in no uncertain terms, knock time off my timeline.
I was fully shot by the time I took my last drink the second time. Kicking the drugs was easy, because I put distance between me and them and never looked back. But the drink took longer to stop, because I was wrapped up in “ME.”
But I eventually put down the drink, and got sober the second time. Still alive and having a life was something that I was trying to save, once again. Coming here I found a place, a meeting and a doctor.
The geographic was the best decision I had ever made. Because I have achieved things I never thought would be possible. Sobriety paid off because I was given certain direction. And I obeyed that direction. I built my life around my meetings, I listened to the slogans and read the books from cover to cover.
And to this day, we are still reading to same books, cover to cover in some instances. And a reading here and there. All those things I heard in early sobriety are still being said almost twelve years later.
First things First …
I need quiet time in the morning. I need to say my prayers. I need to order my day, and get to a meeting. I need to take my pills and I need to eat. And when I am tired I need to sleep.
The thought that God could pull the rug out from under me still remains visible in my rear view mirror. I’ve been on a good run for a long time. And if I forget or ignore first things first, I am doomed.
There is order in my day today.
Most of my friends are sober, so, if I want to see them, I need to carry myself to a meeting. I need to arrive twenty minutes early and stay twenty minutes late.
I need to stay out of my head. I need to talk to my sponsor regularly. I need to work with newcomers. I need to give back.
…But obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …
Which is why we go to meetings, and we read the books and we share. Where else are you going to learn what it is to give and what to give, if you don’t stick around and learn?
Thank God for newcomers. It all seems easier, now that I am here, and not there. However I don’t begrudge them their struggles. If it was so easy peasy, we wouldn’t work so hard getting sober.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
It rained today. But more sun is on the way for tomorrow and much warmer temps by the end of the week.
The FLU has been a formidable foe here at home. It just won’t go away. And I’ve been plying hubby with pills and trying to get him to eat every day. I’ve been shopping for foods that he will eat and be able to keep down. I cooked for us last night and have left overs for tonight’s dinner. He asked for Indian for dinner tonight so I bought him a couple of meals that hopefully he will eat.
We’ve been hitting the hay earlier than usual for the last week. Which has totally thrown my schedule off – but sleep is something we need. My nightly ritual has been chopped to death and my body is not responding with proper working.
I was up early today because I had to drop labs for my HIV doc today, seeing my appointment is on May 15th, it takes a month to prep my labs. I marked the testosterone box on the lab sheet just to see where my numbers are, seeing my body is doing what it wants to do, and not what I want it to do !! UGH !!!
I walked over to the stop for the Cote de Neiges bus, and another bus was sitting there in its place. I got on. The bus pulled away from the stop and up Guy towards Sherbrooke. Instead of continuing up the hill he turned left and I freaked out. Where was he going? As the hill was blocked off because of construction and we ended up at Atwater to go up the hill the other way to get up the hill and cut across above the construction and to the hospital. Crisis averted…
I stopped by the diabetic clinic to get my appointment and lab sheet, I thought my doc would want to see me sooner that six months from now. He was out and the nurse said he would see me in six months unless my sugars were high, which they are not. They’ve gone down considerably on the double Glyburide.
I crossed the hall to the test center, the room was packed to the rafters. usually Tuesday early is a good day to drop labs because there aren’t so many people, usually. That wasn’t the case today. I took a number. I pulled a 53, and the number on the wall sign was on 20.
I had time to kill. So I prayed.
A couple of recitations of the Serenity Prayer worked its wonder. They ran the numbers and I got right in.
The phlebotomist, I think she was green, because she kept looking for a vein for about five minutes. I have good veins and I said to her, if you can’t get the needle in the first time, please find someone who can. She hit her mark, and nine vials later she let me go. I made it to the 144 stop with a few minutes to spare until the next bus passed by.
I came home and farted around while hubby built up some steam to get out of bed and I decided to take a nap and he followed. Sleep is good. I’ve been using my alarm clock frequently, and it seems that I set it and don’t use it because I get up just prior to it going off naturally. I sorted myself out and got ready to travel for tonight’s meeting.
It was a good meeting. I saw a bunch of friends I need to see often, because they are kind and I feel better when I am hanging with them. The topic was ANGER !!
Anger is a dubious luxury that alcoholics cannot afford to have. People are angry. Everyone is trying to navigate their feelings. Our emotions don’t just go away when we get sober. They are stronger without medication and inebriation.
Coming from the home I did – with all the mental, physical and spiritual abuse that was heaped on me – I always find it amazing that I never returned the favor. The older I got, I put distance between myself and those angry people.
It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with AIDS that anger took over my life. I was all over the place with emotions. I was spinning out of control. Trying to drink my feelings away until I took my last drink.
I learned a lot of lessons during that time. Working in a bar while getting sober was just what I needed to keep me busy. Todd kept my mind focused on work and my sponsor kept my sobriety in check. I had to learn how to harness my anger and turn it into useful energy, rather than a destructive source.
Do you know how much power negative emotions carry? If left to their own devices they will destroy you. Anger seeps into your soul and your heart. It bleeds power from your t-cells. When the body is in conflict, so the body goes.
Learning how to turn negative energy into healing energy took a long time. But I learned how that worked. Anger is wasted emotion, because in the end we are powerless over people, places and things. The more energy you waste on people that don’t matter – the farther down the ladder you get. We need to rise above our anger – pray – and let it go. Anger hurts us from the inside.
This is a tough lesson to teach newbies. They have to live into this way of life. And the only way we can transmit these lessons is to suit up and show up at as many meetings as is necessary for them to leech from us how it works.
We had two cakes at the end of the meeting. A 24 and a 27 year cake. Our man who took his 27the year cake has changed so much in the last year. He was hopeless for such a long time. And I’ve been seeing him on Tuesday nights regularly. He is 185 pounds lighter than he was a year ago. He has come a long way, and we all love him dearly because he is kind and gracious.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is a doctor kind of week. And they say here, unless you are dying, never go to the hospital aside from your appointment day, because you would sit in the E.R. for 2 days before a doctor would see you…
Yes, that happens here.
So a little visitor came to me over the past week or two. It appeared as a little pimply thing on my left lower lip. I picked at it and paid it no mind. I surely was not feeling sick, and didn’t have it in mind to get sick. But the damned thing was persistent. It stayed and the flu came to our home.
Hubby got hid blindsided, and if he gets it, I am surely gonna get it. And it is brutal. I have pain in places on my body that I never feel pain at. A cough that keeps me up at night. But today I finally found a pill to make it stop long enough for me to sleep a few hours, earlier today.
Hubby is nailed in on finishing his readers papers for his final M.A. defense on the 24th of this month. But sickness has prevented him finishing it up. I’ve had to step in to shop, cook, do laundry and go to the pharmacy to stock up on exotic pills and potions to take care of ourselves.
We have been sleeping a lot. We’ve missed late night radio all week having gone to bed before midnight and having turned the radio off when we get to sleep eventually.
God damned it that cold sore … If it appears. You will get sick.
That little harbinger of things to come, I thought I could ward it off with all the pills I take on a daily basis, but having an already compromised immune system makes me far easier a hit for a cold or the flu.
I rested up today, after doing two loads of laundry, a trip to the pharmacy and two trips to the supermarket, had my disco nap, where I actually slept.
I was up on time and prepared for my Thursday night meeting. And it seemed that folks were a little off, so the whole meeting was a flight by the seat of our pants. The chair thought she was chairing next week, instead of this week, so she chaired tonight. She went into the crowd and found a victim (read: Speaker) to speak and appointed readers, thankers and the lot.
Never say no. I read the steps tonight.
It was a good share. Lots of warning of what will happen if we become ungrateful or take our will back or stop going to meetings. Even that little thought that “aw, I can do it myself, I don’t need you !” Maybe I can drink normally now I’ve been sober a while. NOT !!!
The message was well received. And the warnings were heeded.
Very soon, the Thursday night meeting will begin … May 2 2012 … And we won’t be attending St. Matthias any more. We are still looking for a cabinet or some box like thing to hold our stuff. But we have some time still yet.
That’s all for now.
Gonna head to bed soon. Friday night is another meeting. And I said I’d go and support the chair, and to bring along a new friend.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is raining. The great spring wash has begun. As is usual, April brings showers to wash away the snow on the ground. It has been a couple of beautiful days with sun and warmer temps.
It is Easter Sunday and I had hoped for a good showing tonight, as for it is a holiday and the biggest night in bar traffic always comes on holidays after folks have spent the better part of the weekend with family, they need a night out for some liquor.
The same goes for members. Holidays, family, alcohol, a mix not for the feint of heart, beings people out of the house and to a meeting, which is why meetings are open on holidays.
As it was the last Sunday of the month, we read from the Twelve and Twelve. And it is the third month, so we read Tradition Three. ” The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”
Have you ever …
Have you ever judged someone in the rooms, based on their story or circumstance? Have you ever felt that someone should go get sober somewhere else because it might happen that a particular person upset the delicate apple cart of members egos and attitudes? Have you ever shunned someone from a meeting because they were different ? Have you ever felt superior to someone new to the rooms, or towards one of your fellows ?
The only requirement…
The first time I got sober in Ft’ Lauderdale, I got sober in a gay room of A.A. a Lambda room. I was safe and amongst my people. As circumstances presented themselves, a couple years in I moved from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami to be treated for my HIV by a specialist. Because there was no infrastructure there to assist people with AIDS.
I began attending meetings at the Coral Room in South Florida. That was a club room, which meant it was open all day from 7 am to midnight, and housed many meetings a night – every night.
At one point, I was sober a few years, and I had never really shared my story with community up until that point. I was asked to share at a meeting, of course I said yes. I was at the podium talking and at the point where I got to where I came out and said that I was living with AIDS, many men got up from their chairs and went outside to wait until I was finished speaking. At the end of the meeting they took me outside and said …
DO NOT COME BACK HERE, GET SOBER SOMEWHERE ELSE !!!
Had I been versed on the traditions, I would have recited tradition three. This is a hindsight observation. I never attended that particular meeting again. I then settled at the late night meeting at 10, where people welcomed me with open arms. Just goes to show you that there are IGNORANT people in the rooms.
It was in that room that I planned and executed my slip.
I never returned to that place, when I returned the second time. The second time I got sober on South Beach in 2001.
When I moved to Montreal in 2002, I was hitting meetings all over the city. And it happened again that I went to a meeting on the West End, holed over by a family of sober folks. At the end of the meeting they starting plying me with twenty questions about my life and sobriety. A second time I stated the truth and once again I heard those words…
ISN’T THERE SOMEPLACE ELSE YOU CAN GET SOBER, OTHER THAN HERE ???
Once is enough to be told that one is not welcome, but twice is a problem. Being new to a city and meeting new people for the first time, it doesn’t bode well for a community to be so ignorant and intolerant of those with different struggles. I mean that’s what we pray when we recite the long version of the Serenity Prayer.
There are ignorant people in Montreal. To this day there are some who ignore me and will come to a meeting I sit in and ignore me as if I didn’t exist. I don’t know why this is, but I have my suspicions. Years ago, it was odd to find a queer in a straight meeting. We had queer meetings dedicated to the queer factor.
But over time, queer meetings fell apart and the LGBT folks scattered across the city to main line heterosexual meetings. We are everywhere today. And for the most part there is no qualm about it. We are all alcoholics, who want to get better, and far be it from anyone to tell someone that they are not welcome at any given meeting.
The only reason we would ask someone to leave a meeting is, and only when they get unruly and threaten anyone’s well being in a meeting. And in all my years I know of only One Man to be barred from a particular meeting, which is above and beyond the pale of any group conscience.
People come to a meeting because they suffer the same affliction we all do, a sickness of mind, body and soul. And the only way to get better is to put down the drink and come to a meeting.
I have always erred on the side of caution. When dealing with new folks, to allow them to sink in slowly, to be welcoming, to be grateful and to be of assistance. Never throw a book at them prematurely or to force them to “get it my way or the highway” or suggest they “come to” quicker than they are able, each according to their gifts.
There are meetings where old timers pound the book from the first meeting. I don’t agree with the heavy hand approach. Sobriety takes time, and all we have is time. Take as much time as you need.
Young people are suffering. We heard it again tonight. Conflicts about God, and spirituality are coming in between people. Egos and attitudes are coming to blows for some. And we hear as well that newcomer numbers are dropping on the young people groupings, all because of heavy handedness.
There are also some young people who deign to say the word God and have come up with their own set of steps rewritten to omit any reference to God, and that isn’t sitting well with older members.
Our book is meant to be suggestive only, we realize we know only a little …
It is written in the way it is written for a reason and the steps were written for a certain reason in the format they were set down to paper. Far be it from someone to rewrite them because of the God issue. In the end this is a spiritual program, and sooner or later we come to the God word.
However you get there … there is one who has all power that one is God, may you find him now … the words spoken in How It Works.
Seasons are changing. And people are shook up. And it is distressing to see these kinds of flare ups, but what can you do ? Always check your motives when dealing with others.
You belong when you say you belong.
The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
I am grateful for my friends tonight and every night.
It was a good but painful meeting, but that happens occasionally.
Pray for our young people.
More to come, stay tuned…
Another week has begun, Passover began for my Jewish friends and family, and it is holy week in the Christian calendar. The most holy or Highest Holy days of the year. We will be partaking in services at the Cathedral on Saturday night for the Easter Vigil Choir mass – which is always a good production.
It was a busy day today. We spent the morning writing letters to the government and the bank who holds my student loan – the government is trying to hold me responsible for paying a $3000.00 loan, that should have been converted to a bursary because AIDS is a major functional disability and they did not adjust my account properly – and they did this to hundreds of thousands of other students as well. So we are contesting the loan payback and requesting the government to retroactively correct my file. Let Us Pray !!!
After a short power nap, I got ready to go for tonight’s meeting at Trinity Memorial this evening. We sat a fair number of folks. 90 % had less than a month. And a few with multiples of years. And it is a beginner’s meeting, so precedence goes to the newcomers.
We read from the Big Book … 32-33.
… Most of us have believed that if we remained sober for a long stretch, we could thereafter drink normally. But here is a man who at fifty-five years found he was just where he had left off at thirty.
[the man got sober - and went back out and never returned]
We have seen the truth demonstrated again and again:” Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Commencing to drink after a period of sobriety, we are in a short time as bad as ever. If we are planning to stop drinking, there must be no reservation of any kind, nor any lurking notion that someday we will be immune to alcohol.
There is that pesky warning once again repeated in the text. Some folks just don’t read the book.
Many of our young people, find it a challenge to pick up the book and really commit with their hearts, the tough task of self appraisal and inventory. Long before we get to the God issue, the admission of the problem is necessary. And being young and impervious, so they think, of alcohol, they either remain on the outside looking in, or stuck in the revolving door [ in and out and in and out.]
Who really wants to get honest with themselves and have to, in due time, speak those words to another, let alone God himself ? I suppose that if you are at the point of utter incomprehensible demoralization, there is no other way but up.
How do you impress upon young people that this is the only way to get better and that just thinking about it and saying the words and warming a seat will keep you sober and lead you to a happy and fulfilling life. However hard the task to begin with, if we can commence to drink, at some point, we will commence to get better. Because to drink for us is to die.
I waited for the end of the meeting to share, hoping that the newcomers would take up the hour talking, and they did. I’ve spoken about my SLIP experience ad nauseum.
What did I know, and when did I know it ?
Alcoholism was rampant in my family. Three generations worth. It was there, and because we were taught never to talk about it or seek a solution, God forbid, it existed untreated and undiagnosed. I never said to myself that I would never become my father or my grandfather.
I had to move away to be Gay, because my father would never had stood for a faggot under his roof. At 21 I moved away to begin my adult life, with not a one tool for proper living. Who knew from responsibility. Jackpot after jackpot occurred and I did not know what to do.
But stopping drinking was not a choice I entertained.
Would that someone said the word STOP … in my twenties ? Had someone that knew me and my life story, said the word stop, would I have listened ? And I imagine that my life would have been so different had I gotten help then.
Everything happens for a reason. And this is the cross I bear to this day. I am sure that my alcoholism and stupidity played a part in my diagnosis at 26. The boy who I was with at that time, lied to me then killed himself. So I was fucked from the word Go!!!
I got sober in spite of the fact that I was trying to kill myself with the drink, not to feel the sorrow of knowing that I was standing on deaths doorstep and that I was surely going to die in a matter of time. I had the date marked on a calendar, I knew the day I was supposed to die.
The powers that be made an executive decision on my behalf, and while they remained in my life I was safe, safe from myself, and safe my alcoholism. But like all good things, they also come to an end. And I was left alone in a world that I knew not, because of the world that I was living in the past few years.
I had to relearn how to live in the world without the protection and direction of Todd and Roy. I stayed sober for a couple more years, but it just wasn’t the same. Once I hit my death date and I was still alive, I had to figure out what to do next ? Because I had not planned on living that long and the world was at large.
I was going to meetings. I had friends. BUT …
The heterosexual men in the room that I spent most of my meetings were dead set against my attending meetings at that room, and they told me so to my face.
I stayed sober in spite of them. But after while, I strayed away from the book. I had no sponsor, and I wasn’t communicating with someone I trusted. And I made an executive decision in sobriety that doomed me to my slip.
They say we plan our slips ahead of time…
All the boys at four years went out, including myself. And the slip was worse because I not only drank, but I became a drug addict. Thankfully when I came to the end of my drug use, I moved away from the source, and I never looked back, and never returned to using, even though I kept drinking for more than a year before I was led back to the rooms.
I know that feeling of shame and remorse. Having to begin at the beginning and how others think of me, because it was all about everyone else at the start. And the book also says that
“at some point we get hit by the Grace of God and we get sober”
And that happened to me and countless others.
The desire to drink left me and never returned. I can attest to the words in the book, I have a healthy respect for what it says and how it applies to my life.
And at eleven years, safe and sound was not working for me and I needed to change it up to freshen my sober journey, so I started attending this beginners meeting. To hear stories and meet new folks. Because one day, I may be present at the right moment and say the right thing, and maybe help someone never have another drink again …
The message take away:
A. That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives
b. That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism
c. That God could if he were sought
You never have to ever drink again … It can be done, one day at a time.
It was a very late night last night. I stayed up way too late and munched on food at 4 a.m. before going to sleep. Which gave me 5 hours of sleep time before my 9:30 am this morning wake up to be at the diabetes clinic by 10.
Thankfully I did my labs well in advance of this appointment so I did not have to get there at 7 am !!! God forbid …
Last time, Dr. Chris was all up in arms over some of my labs. He was freaking out and circling this number and that number. He gave me part of the lab work to show Dr. George today. When I showed Dr. George the lab sheet he was like “meh… it’s ok !!!” Dr. Chris is more alarmist and Dr. George is more laid back.
Both men are worried since cardiac issues run in the family that I am well due to have a heart attack fairly soon. Dr. Chris was all up on that a couple of weeks ago. So when I saw Dr. George this morning I mentioned that to him and he sent me up to the cardiac wing for a cardiogram test.
The test was clean. Doc said everything looks good, So no worries there. I dropped off a copy at the HIV clinic on my way back to the diabetes clinic.
The down portion of the visit was that my sugars are high. I used to range between 4′s and 7′s … and now I range between 9′s and 11′s. I had a 20 spike last week. Doc upped my Glyburide to two pills 5mg each before my meals, along with Metformin and Januvia.
We will see over the next two weeks how or if my sugars will come down with the upping of Glyburide. If after two weeks there is no change, then we move onto plan B. Which is a new drug called Byetta. Exenatide injection.
The government doesn’t pay for this medication YET, so I have to see a special clinic for my test trial and if it works the doc will write a letter to the provincial health system for coverage later on.
I saw the pen, kinda looks like an Epi pen. It comes in 5 mg and 10 mg dosages and lasts for a month of injections. But like I said this is plan B.
That is that on this front. I had me some lunch and now I am gonna nap.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is another bitterly cold day in the neighborhood. We are sitting at (-23c/-36 wc) at this hour. Cold enough to freeze fingers and faces in a matter of minutes. So getting around and waiting for buses was a challenge.
Doc say that I am doing remarkably well on treatment plan. No changes were made to the regimen yet. So here are the numbers:
03 Jan 2013 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 45 Cd 4 abs 1440
07 Aug 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 44 Cd 4 abs 1276
15 May 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 45 Cd4 abs 1350
10 Jan 2012 Viral Load 39 copies Cd4% 43 Cd4 abs 1333
What’s good are the cd4 percentages the higher they are the better the numbers. My Cd 4 abs are high again. Which is good.
The downside to treatment are my sugars. They are all out of whack and my daily tests have been spiking on the high side and the tests they ran last time speaks to this problem, so I need to get them back under control. My fixation with juices must end and I need to curtail my diet some more.
My next appointment isn’t until May, but I see my diabetes doctor the beginning of February.
Time for lunch and a nap.
More to come, stay tuned …
I’ve always wanted a reason to use this image …
It has been a very cold past few days. FRIGID by Montreal standards. We are sitting at (-20c with a wind chill of -27c) at this hour. The wind chill is going to drop to a bitter (-38c) overnight.
The past couple of days we’ve been keeping inside. Tomorrow I see the doctor for my latest round of numbers. We shall see how he decides to “shake things up” in my treatment plan.
Today I was up and around early. I set out early because I had stops to make on the way out and as bitter as it has been out, the getting there was the goal, without freezing on the way.
I arrived at the church close to 5 and I had just opened the store room and was heading towards the kitchen with my coffee urns and people began to arrive and the room wasn’t even set up yet.
The group met for our monthly business meeting. And many of our members showed up and we made some new decisions about the money in the kitty, how we were going to spend our surplus, to buy books and pamphlets, and for the anniversary party next week.
We invested in the Grapevine last year and it doesn’t get much traction, we sell three copies within the group and not many people avail themselves of the literature table at all, so we decided not to renew another year. Instead we will spend that money on books for newcomers and for the group.
It was a packed house again tonight. Our most loyal lady member spoke to me before the meeting, and from where she sits, on many committees in this city, our group is doing something right because we have been able to maintain good numbers for more than 2 years.
The chair read from the Big Book and Page 417.
Acceptance is the key to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
This passage tucked farther back in the book, past the first 164 pages of the book, is important to us to be able to learn how to live life on life’s terms. And it was good to go back and read this portion of the book tonight.
While the share went around the room I was formulating what I wanted to say tonight. In hindsight the word acceptance pops up many times in the past, because there were many moments in my life, in the past that I had no choice but to accept life on life’s terms.
In 1994, when I was approaching my last drunk, I was diagnosed with AIDS, a fatal, and terminal disease. And instead of acceptance, I attempted to kill myself with the drink. Thankfully I failed at that attempt, and people and powers greater than myself took over and began to care for me, when I could not or did not have the knowledge to take care of myself.
When doctors tell you that you are going to die, and give you your end date – what do you do? There were two choices. I could go out in a blaze of glory, like some of my friends did, OR, I could buckle down and accept the sentence and turn my life over to the care of God (read: Todd) as I understood him.
I stayed sober and I stayed alive. I waited to die all along, and when I got to the date that I was supposed to die, and I was still alive, the next question was “what do I do next?” Well, you stay alive and you go to meetings and you come to work and do as you are told, trust us and we will help keep you alive.
It was very easy to say, but it was a challenge to turn my life over to God (read: Todd). But it worked. I stayed sober. For the first four years.
I made my bed and I lied in it and sobriety lost it priority and I had to do this all over again. And the second time I came to the rooms, I was much older, but still stuck in my twenties. I was hoping that the drink would magically turn me into a buff, blond beach boy with six pack abs. Well, that didn’t happen.
I had to accept that I was no longer in my twenties and that I was heading into my thirties and my behavior had to change, however I kicked and screamed on the floor like a five year old.
Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems.
Over the past eleven years, I have been able to practice the art of acceptance. And it was shared as well tonight, the use of prayer and many folks have realized the “real” way to pray the Serenity Prayer. It’s not about YOU – it’s about ME.
There are those two words, YOU and ME, again…
It must be a sign that these two words have come up again in discussion, which means that many of us have something to work with for the next little while. Which is good. I get to trust, turn it over and let go and let God.
The share did not get all the way around the room, there wasn’t enough time so a number of folks got left on the roadside. There was a lot of hanging out after the meeting. It being bitterly cold out, folks were wanting to stay in the hall and not venture out into the cold.
A good night was had by all. Next week we shall party our 55 years anniversary. My sponsor has been hunting around for old timers who came to our meeting some 40 plus years ago to complete our group history lesson to be read next week.
A good friend of mine, who has been very sick for a while and ended up needing a liver transplant – got that transplant a couple of months ago. We all have been praying and pulling for her in her days of recovery, and she came to our meeting tonight – looking very well – alive – and happy to be given a second chance at life. This was a very exciting part of the night for me.
More to come, stay tuned …
Make a list of things you’d like to change. Expand one or all of the point into a post. How do they inform one another? What connects them? What does that say about you?
This photo was taken many years ago, I was a young twenty something, and the woman I loved more than life itself was still alive. My Memere …
This was a dream vacation we got to take together because I had a really great job and the ability to take friends and family aboard the ships on the odd occasion. There was no better way to repay her but with a trip to the Bahamas.
Oh by the way, this post is brought to you by Plinky.
It is Christmas. My 45th Christmas. Imagine, I lived to see 45 Christmases.
What would I like to change ???
I saw Sally Field on Oprah last night, speaking about her Human Rights Campaign Award for the Ally for Equality. And in her speech she spoke about her son, Sam. And how much she loved her son and that “God created him” so he’s gay, (then continued … Who the F*ck cares ???”)
And she said about the f bomb, that sometimes it is useful.
The holidays are really hit and miss for me. I love the holidays, and I hate them just the same. I find solace in doing for others on the holiday then reliving the knowledge that my family wants nothing to do with me.
I would change lots of things. I would love to see past resentments finally get rid of in my family. Instead of the way things are. Nobody speaking to each other, however I am in contact with my aunt in Florida. And my cousin in B.C.
Being gay is strike one on me. Being HIV+ is the second strike, and living abroad is the third strike. So what, I made life decisions for myself. It was all about me and not them. However I used them to get where I am today. Just luck my mother was still a citizen when I was born which afforded me a birthright.
I’ve been on the persona non grata list for more than a decade. And I wonder when do we stop punishing each other for growing up and making decisions in our lives. And when do we move from Resentment into Acceptance ???
It’s not all about Me – or all about You. It’s all about Us …
I sent out 25 Christmas cards today. That two boxes of cards, and postage came to more than $50.00 … A nominal expense, but I enjoy cards. Sending them and getting them.
I wrote out one card to my family, in the states. Just my signature and sealed and set it on the pile. Last night I got balsy and tore up that card and wrote out a second card. With an invitation to dialogue.
You know, I am 45 years old. I am past middle age, when it comes to HIV. I am living on borrowed time, as they say. What would you give to hear your mother say that she loves you? Or your father the same. Or your brother say that he was interested in dialogue after more than decades of silence.
I’ve earned every minute of my life. I am a big man. And though my family lived on tit for tat backstabbing, we all played a part in where we are today. Everybody is guilty, for things we did or said, and for things we failed to say and do.
If I could change some things in the past, like knowing what I should have done when my grandparents had their strokes – they might have lived longer and our family would not have self imploded like it did.
My Memere lived a long life. The regret of my life, is not going to her funeral. That is another sore spot, because my mother did not want her infected fag son to be seen by the family. So she barred me from the funeral and burial. What was I going to say, “f*ck you, I’m going anyways???”
People who believe in the bible so hard, they loose sight of what is really the meaning of life, and what the words in the Bible really mean. How can you espouse the bible and never set foot in a church? Did Vatican authority really force you to think, believe and say the things you all said?
Like Holy Mother Church was in the next room !!!
In sobriety we work our steps. And I have been through my steps. I made my lists and spoke to my resentments and pain. Some items on that step 4 list never get removed for good. There is still bitterness and anger. But what can I do, I am powerless over people, places and things.
I know better than to get my hopes up. My 11th sober anniversary is on Sunday and what a sober gift it would be to reconnect.
All you gotta do is Google me. And there I am. I am not hard to find.
What does this say about me? Family is everything, when you have none. No gay boy or girl, should ever be sent away or forced out of their family just for being gay. No way, No how, No argument. No gay adult should feel less than because members of their own family deny they exist because they are gay.
Time is a precious commodity, once wasted it can Never be regained. We all live on borrowed time, we are all going to die, and would you rather go to your grave with resentments in your life, or a clear conscience, surrounded by family?
Shit, I have a great friend in the sphere and on twitter who gave birth to a gay teenager (well he is a gay teenager today) and the second son is (Gender Queer) and son three is still too young to present. And she loves her boys. So does her husband Adam. I would kill to have a mom like Sam.
Times have changed, and You owe me at least respect.
The bible says “Honor thy father and mother.”
I find it hard to honor a human/humans who do not honor me. Love skipped a generation when it came to my parents. It seems they did not get the memo from the grandparents. They all died too soon to impart the message.
And I don’t know if I can teach an old dog new tricks.
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
This was one of the hardest days of my life. How do you tell someone you love, that you are going to die? The day I was diagnosed, July 8th, 1994 was the worst day of my life. Bar none …
My then boyfriend packed his things and left in the car as soon as he heard the news. All of my friends found out and they all took off for the hills. The only people still standing by me were Todd, Roy, and a choice few friends at the bar that I was working at.
I called a family meeting and that proved to be a failure. Because I was first gay, now I was HIV+ and that was doubly sinful and abhorrent to them.
If you were around during the height of the AIDS epidemic you would have seen employers fire sick people from their jobs, landlords throwing tenants out on the streets. You would have seen families, lovers and partners toss their sick significant others out into the street as well.
We had nothing left but the little dignity we had left. And the ones who stayed were the ones who would care for, tend to, care for and bury the rest. Because back in the 90′s, there were no comprehensive care systems. We did not have drugs that we have today. We did not have doctors dedicated to taking care of us.
The medical systems had to be built from the ground up. Many doctors didn’t know from AIDS and they had to learn how to care for so many sick people.
I bought several poster boards that I made calendars out of and stuck them on my kitchen wall to mark the days I had left to live. That was 540 days …
My friend Roy used to tear them up whenever he came over because he did not want me focusing on the day that I was supposed to die. I had bigger fish to fry. And Todd kept me on a short leash. What he did saved my life. There will never be another man in my life like Todd.
Hundreds of people I knew died. HUNDREDS !!!!
Every year the quilt was rolled out, we went to see it to mark the new names added to the list of the dead. And we also went to see who was still alive.
This is why we celebrate World AIDS Day, because those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it. This generation knows very little of what it was like for us – back in the day.
That is one reason I opened this blog. To catalog and collect my memories. So that in case I die, I was here. I left my mark on the world with the stories of my life that I have collected here for you all to read.
Gay is still a dirty word in the world. And is still met with condemnation and abhorrence. The face of HIV has changed over the last decade. New medications have come along, and many of us who are left from days gone by, are now on those powerful cocktails of drugs that we must take daily to stay alive.
I was there when it all started for me. When there were no real set drugs and I tested every drug that came off the pike from the doctors I sought out after my diagnosis.
In the beginning, we had a drug farm in Fort Lauderdale, and they would collect medication from people who had died. They would repackage those drugs and give them to us, as we could not get medication very easily. And I did that for two years. I moved to Miami because there were doctors there who were trained in care for HIV positive folks.
And from those doctors, I tested every drug that came down the pike. And this has been what I have done here in Montreal, since the day I arrived here. I have the best in medical care here and a doctor who is on the cutting edge of HIV medical treatment.
HIV is not a death sentence, unless you live in a country that cannot get medication. Where death rates are terribly high. We need to do more to get drugs to countries that so badly need them. Drug companies need to do more for the world than what they are doing today. They are NOT doing ENOUGH !!!
Today we remember all those who have died.
We pray for their souls and their families.
And we ask you for your continued prayers and support.
If you don’t know your HIV status, then I suggest you get tested. If you are an active gay man, it is your DUTY to know these things. The owness falls on you to get tested and be RESPONSIBLE for your life and also for the lives of men you have sex with.
HIV knows no barrier, creed, color or sexual orientation. Straight people get HIV too.
Nobody is immune from getting HIV if you are not careful or diligent about sex. Doing nothing is stupid. There is no excuse for why you wouldn’t or shouldn’t get tested, it could SAVE YOUR LIFE !!!
Rapid treatment after diagnosis today can be very helpful to living a full and happy life. It didn’t use to be like this. In the 90′s HIV was a death sentence. Thank God I had what I had or I surely would not be here today writing to you.
Be Responsible. Be Diligent and Be Smart. Get tested !!!
Take care of yourself and each other.
Courtesy: Randall – Iona Chapel
It has been a dark afternoon. With the turning back of the clocks, it was dark by 4:30 this afternoon. It is very unnerving that it gets so dark so early in the day, and therefore the night takes so long or is so long. And it will be like this until the Winter Equinox come December.
I was out early and arrived at the church before 5 to help with set up. We had a full house tonight. And finally we have begun the “meat and potatoes” of the Big Book, beginning the Doctors Opinion…
“The physician (Dr. William Silkworth) who, at our request, gave us this letter, has been kind enough to enlarge upon his views in another statement which follows. In this statement he confirms what we who have suffered alcoholic torture must believe – that the body of the alcoholic is quite as abnormal as his mind.
It did not satisfy us to be told that we could not control our drinking just because we were maladjusted to life, that we were in full flight from reality, or were outright mental defectives. These things were true to some extent, in fact, to a considerable extent with some of us. But we are sure that our bodies were sickened as well. In our belief, any picture of the alcoholic which leaves out this physical factor is incomplete.”
The Doctors Opinion, Pg. xxvi
Was it problematic that when I was growing up I was witness to alcoholism at its ugliest? Alcohol was the accepted norm. Nobody spoke about a problem, nor of a solution to that problem. I knew what alcoholism was before I became an alcoholic. Because from the first drink, I was drinking for the effect. And I just could not have “just one drink.” It was all or nothing.
I started drinking very early on, and alcoholism had me in its clutches for more than a decade. Were my mind and body abnormal? Was I maladjusted for life?
All the words I heard growing up was that alcohol was social lubricant. It was a necessary evil, therefore no solution to the problem was ever offered. Nobody told me that I had a problem, and amid my twenties I believed that drinking was part of growing up. That the drink would take me places and keep me acutely pickled and part of the community.
Admittedly so, I had a problem with alcoholism. I was maladjusted. I came into a world that I was woefully unprepared for. I just thought that it was all part and parcel of living. I could lie, cheat and steal for the drink. I was woefully irresponsible as a young man. And I did not know any better. Because nobody stopped to explain it to me, and I muse on the fact that had the “Problem” been brought to my attention then, would I have accepted the solution?
One of my friends, tonight, brought up the word “Liminal.” The dictionary defines liminality as:
“It’s not the cloud in the middle of the room, but the elephant in the room!”
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Skies were blue, cool enough for a hoodie, and lots of time on my hands. Hubby was up and around early this morning and got some shopping done. Thank God for benevolent powers that be who upped my credit allowance on HBC.
Can you believe it that Thanksgiving is only a few days away??? The crunch of the holidays will soon be descending upon us very soon. There is a lot of discussion going on about the holidays, our group anniversary 54 years in December and the discussion about having the room open on Christmas and New Years day, since those holiday’s fall on Tuesday this year.
*** *** *** ***
It was a festive day today because we are sending one of our young people away to live in New York City, so we threw him a group going away party tonight. I wanted to do something special for him. We’ve watched him grow up over the last year and he’s a strong young man who will do great things with his life.
We read from the Big Book, continuing on Step 4 and our sexual actions list. One never knows where the discussion is going to go when dealing with such an intimate topic. It was very moving to hear what people had to share and do it so openly and honestly.
I never really think about sex, but it is a part of my life. I shared about some things tonight, but after I spoke, and the discussion went around the outer circle, more came to mind the longer I thought about the topic.
I have to say that sex was an ever present entity in our lives when I was a much younger boy. My parent’s were raised in the 1950′s. And were married in 1967.
My father’s reading library was always on display sitting by the toilet in the bathroom. And I knew very early in my life, I knew what road I was going to take because I had been “home schooled” in sexual activity and sexual orientation.
Lucky that when I was old enough to come home after school, I had plenty of time to investigate all the little secrets my parents kept. I remember when they would have visitors over, I would listen in on their conversations and I heard things that maybe a child sh0uld not know about.
It is amazing that my father had certain proclivities. And his reading material was skewed in a certain direction, but because (in hindsight) there was ample self loathing about certain sexual orientations that he always spoke in terms of as being Abhorrent.
When I was a boy, all I wanted was to be like my dad.
I thought sex was normal, either straight or gay. I didn’t see a disconnect here. And if it was good for dad, then it should be good enough for me as well.
There was a particular radio show on late night radio that I used to listen to that informed my desires as a young boy. I was engrossed in secrets. And by the time I hit puberty – I had complete knowledge of where I was going. And like any good father, he took each of us, (my brother and I) out for our traditional “Birds and the Bee’s” discussion dinner outing.
I never admitted my sexual orientation to anyone. Who knew that the direction I was headed personally, was sexual orientation (something different). I thought that it was normal to be sexually oriented in a certain way. If dad was reading about it – he must be thinking about it – so what is so bad about it?
My father has a very old skeleton in his closet. One that will never see the light of day. I have studied my life, and his life over the last 45 years, and I have come up with my own story, from the stories I was told as a young man.
As it turned out – my progression sexually was an outward reflection of what my father was internally. But he made a conscious choice to bury reality and marry into uniform society. One man – One Woman. Marriage – Home and children.
My father forced my mother on a number of fronts. One, to renounce her heritage. Two, to alienate her entire family, and Three, to vow a blood oath to her husband and fuck the children.
It was either your husband OR your children.
Some mothers get the luxury of having both her husband and marriage and her children. My mother did not have that choice. He abhorred me and loved my brother. I was a mistake, in his words. But my brother was to be the chosen one.
My parents surely knew the game was up when I was a teen-ager. My father was purely convinced that I was a mistake and the abuse he heaped on me is something no child should ever have placed upon them.
Being raised hard line 1960′s Catholicism, homosexuality was abhorrent. And had no place in his family. Gays, Queers, Niggers and Wops were just some of the words my father used on an every day basis. He was an equal opportunity offender. I had a best friend in sixth grade who’s family originated in South East Asia. Hence, they had dark skin.
One day I invited my friend over to visit after school. And my father almost had a heart attack. He opened with, what is that nigger doing in my house? He has dark skin, what if the neighbors see him here? What will they think?
That was just one example. That friend never set foot in our house ever again. All my friendships ever more happened away from home, in other people’s homes, not my own.
The first time my step mother introduced gay men into our lives, my father’s verbal abuse and physical abuse only got worse. He was so jealous that as a young man, I gravitated to those men, because they spoke to me kindly and shared stories with me and treated me like a human being. Where my father wouldn’t deign to even speak to those men, but he had to tolerate them sitting at my step mother’s dining room table. She would not allow him to spout his vitriol at the table.
I was schooled in all things gay by real gay men. My father would abuse me terribly after each dinner party to make sure he would “beat the gay” out of me. But once again, I offer this: If gay is so abhorrent, then why did you have gay reading material in plain view in the communal bathroom for everyone else to see?
And remember my mother swore a blood oath to him that said that she had to always side with him and never defend her children on any front. My father preached the social gospel for the entire time I lived at home.
I never shared my sexual orientation with anyone. Ever. When I was able, and dutifully unprepared for going out into the world, I packed up my life and moved to Orlando. I was too young, Too Green, and Totally unprepared to go into the world.
I was a raging alcoholic at 21. I moved into a high end apartment complex just outside the Tragic Queendom. I had no street smarts, nor did I know the value of a dollar, how to use that dollar and pay bills and rent and car payments. Because what other money would I have to drink with???
I had made exploratory forays into the community prior to moving so I knew gay people in advance.
And I was warmly welcomed into the community by a good friend who initiated me into the club. And I was off and running. All Good Boys come out at the Parliament House on Orange Blossom Trail. I did that. The Communards sang:
Never Can Say Goodbye … Patrick danced with me, and he was my first kiss.
What do you get when you mix the Tragic Queendom, alcohol and a band of boys fresh off the farm in a world of sex, drag queens, drugs and party time all the time?
I was a young boy, with cheek of tan. I was pretty. And I knew it. And that played in my favor for a long time. I could drink with the best. I had several room mates living in several apartments during those years. Boys were a dime a dozen, and seducing straight boys was a competition.
I was a sexually active young man. I won’t deny that. Everybody was having sex. This was Pre-AIDS. We never heard that word ever, until it started killing our friends. But like any naive young boy, we thought we were invincible and untouchable.
We never discussed AIDS among us. But when the first and second and third drag queen we knew died, it started to become reality. It did not impact me, nor would it for some time to come.
The one relationship that I had, that meant anything to me during that time was with a seasonal hire at the Tragic Queendom. His name was Charlie. I really cared about him. We got along famously. We slept together. The game was (Blender or Bottle). We would call one or the other and it was a one word question, Blender or Bottle.
That was code for – we are going to drink – and have sex.
Sex and alcohol was intertwined when I was a boy. It is our greatest asset. And for some a terrible weapon. It was difficult having honest relationships then. Because no man was off limits, even better if you were dating that man. Because if another boy could steal your boyfriend and sleep with him, that was a BIG score. Sex was an all out competition. That life did not last long.
I tried to marry out of that community. Meet a man, get involved and settle down. And I honestly tried that. But it never panned out.
From the age of 21 to 26, I was a sexual dynamo. And where there was alcohol there was sex. I had moved to Fort Lauderdale for a boy. He lied to me, he cheated on me, then he infected me. He never told me that he had AIDS. I found out after his suicide, with a backhanded comment by one of his friends who felt it her duty to inform me that he was gravely ill … so he killed himself.
I was tested once. It came back negative. Life went on. So did the drinking. I got a really good job. A job I wish, to this day, I still had with the same people, in the same place, alas, that time has passed, all those friends are dead, and the man who saved my life is across the country.
The day I tested positive for AIDS was the turning point in my sex life. I’ve told this story over and over again. You know how it goes.
I got sober a month and a half after I was diagnosed. I was diagnosed on July 8th 1994. I got sober the first time on August 23rd, 1994. My boss kept me on a short leash. I was too busy working and learning how to survive at the bar to even consider getting involved in a relationship. Because, if I am honest, who wanted a marked man?
I like this story. I was working at the bar for a long time. And I had a bartender position one night. And this really cute guy stalked me all night. After shift we went out to after hours to get acquainted. Which led to discussion, which led to me going over his house. He was undressed before he got through the front door of his house. And I panicked. Do I disclose ???
I chose to disclose right there on the spot.
I never saw a man put his clothes back on so fast in my life. He asked me to leave, and would you believe it, that man kept coming to the bar I worked at and never once did he ever acknowledge my existence.
I never had another relationship after that.
I was sober 4 years, living in Miami. I was coasting. Going to meetings, and staying sober. I had a tight group of sober friends. But I wasn’t buried in the Big Book. And I didn’t have a sponsor.
And you know Alcohol is Cunning, Baffling and Powerful, not to mention “PATIENT!”
I have heard it said that while you go to a meeting, alcoholism is doing push ups in the parking lot waiting for you.
I had been abstinent for a long time. But at some point, that little devious dragon called sex, started to beckon me. I had not drank, I was living alone. My friends were all taking care of me night and day. My friends actually all had keys to my apartment so they could come and go as they pleased, because they were all involved in my life. It was the most beautiful thing. I miss David and Logan.
I never spoke of this yearning to anyone. But I sought out the missing link. And I never told anyone what I was up to. My Bad …
I acted on that urge. I drank, I drugged and almost lost my life …
After that relationship ended. I moved back to Miami and into my solitary life. I had three friends. Mark, Ricky and Raphael. Mark my my using buddy, Ricky and his husband were caretakers for a while, until I was able to move out on my own.
You know the rest of this story.
I got sober again and took my last geographic move in sobriety.
I met a man, I fell in love and the rest is history.
Tonight a young married woman spoke these words to us: ” For the first ten years of our marriage, I kept waiting for him to leave! It took 13 years for me to realize that I don’t want him to leave…”
I can’t say that my early life was all bad. It was fun. It was what had to happen. We all grow up one way or another. I wasn’t ready for the world that I had placed myself into. Gay vs Gay is not very conducive for healthy relationships. I’ve known many backstabbing queens. I had relations with a few of them.
Would I relive that period of time again? Maybe. If I could have the same people who were there alive today. Alas, many of them died later on in my life. That first group where AIDS made its entry into our lives, followed me. It took friends in Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale and Miami.
All the pretty, young men, we used to be became sick, deformed and blotched. It was horrible. AIDS was the scourge that tore a hole in many lives.
The desire to live loose, drink and have nameless, faceless sex grew old. It is like two sides of a very sad story. Summing it all up … It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
I was waiting for him to leave…
r. Eric Verdin of the Gladstone Institutes says HIV may serve “as a model system for what we know about aging.” Photo: Sarah Rice, Special To The Chronicle / SF
Published 4:36 p.m., Tuesday, September 25, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle Article Here
For a long, dark time in the 1980s and ’90s, the Shanti Project and other agencies like it provided hospice-like services to the thousands of men suffering, and dying, from AIDS in San Francisco.
And then there was monumental success: new drugs to fight the virus and lift the death sentence of HIV infection. With the virus under control in their bodies, patients were healthy and active. They had decades of living ahead of them.
Many of them left the supportive care of places like Shanti, said Kaushik Roy, executive director of the program.
“Now they’re coming back,” he said.
More than a decade after the first truly successful AIDS drugs became available, a new image of HIV is emerging: People with the virus appear to be aging prematurely. After years of feeling healthy and recharged with the new drugs, they’re suddenly slowing down not from the effects of AIDS, but from old age – a decade or two earlier than their noninfected peers.
“When we have clients passing away now, it’s from cancer or heart disease,” Roy said. “It used to be AIDS.”
Patients are coming down with diseases and conditions most associated with aging even when their HIV is well controlled – even when the antiretroviral drugs used to treat it make the virus essentially undetectable in the blood, and by nearly all accounts a patient’s immune system is strong and stable.
They are having heart attacks and strokes in their 50s or 60s. They’re developing dementia and arthritis a decade earlier than they should be. They’re getting cancers that tend to strike only people in their 70s or 80s.
“In the last 18 months, in my clinic I’ve had four people under age 60 who’ve had either bypass surgery or heart attacks,” said Dr. Brad Hare, medical director of the HIV/AIDS ward at San Francisco General Hospital. “One of them was 37 years old. That’s something that would be more typical in somebody 70 or older.”
It is, Hare and other doctors admit, a good news-bad news scenario.
The drugs discovered to fight HIV have saved millions of lives and given patients decades’ more time. By 2015, the average age of an HIV patient will be 50 in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That figure alone is a sign of how widely successful the work toward treating HIV has been.
But it’s come at a cost that has caught patients and doctors off guard. In the United States, AIDS patients now are more likely to die of cancer, heart disease, liver disease or other effects of premature aging than they are of AIDS itself, according to multiple studies.
Researching a cause
“They call it the graying of the AIDS epidemic,” Hare said. “We do expect people with HIV to live long, healthy lives now. But there’s still a big cost to your health.”
Clinicians like Hare who work closely with HIV-positive patients first started noticing the effects of premature aging five or 10 years ago, and in the past year or two, scientists have begun work in the lab to determine what it is that’s causing the accelerated aging and how it might be stopped.
Some of the causes for early aging may be behavioral and may apply mostly to people who were diagnosed at the height of the epidemic. For example, smoking and heavy drinking often can cause early aging, and many people who were diagnosed in the ’80s or even ’90s kept their bad habits because they didn’t think they had long to live. Now, many years later, they may still be smoking or drinking, and suffering the ill effects of it.
“I’m living with HIV, and I have been for 10 years,” said Justin Jones, program manager of Positive Force, part of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. “When I was first diagnosed, my primary-care doctor told me I really needed to quit smoking. He also told me he used to encourage people to not quit smoking, because he figured, ‘Hey, you’ve got HIV, if smoking brings you even a modicum of pleasure, do it.’
“There was this huge period where people were making choices based off of, ‘Well, I’m going to die.’ “
Damage early on
It’s also possible, doctors say, that those who were infected early and managed to survive with HIV before the most successful treatments were available suffered irreversible damage to their immune systems. In San Francisco, public health officials now recommend that people diagnosed with HIV start treatment immediately instead of waiting for signs that the immune system has started to suffer.
Another culprit of early aging could be the drugs used to treat HIV. Antiretroviral drugs include what are known as protease inhibitors, which attack key proteins associated with viral replication. But some of those inhibitors also may attack a natural protease in the body, which could, in the long run, cause premature aging.
But the prevailing theory is that early aging is caused primarily by chronic inflammation, probably brought on by the effects of latent, inactive HIV that remains in the body even during antiretroviral treatment.
It’s been clear to scientists for some time that chronic inflammation is tied to aging, and especially to the decline in the immune system known as cellular senescence, the process by which the body loses cells critical to fighting infections. What’s not clear is whether inflammation is a cause or effect of the deterioration of the immune system.
Scientists have, in HIV patients and in the elderly, identified signs of both senescence and inflammation. And, in turn, they’ve noted a susceptibility to certain “old-age” diseases in both older patients and HIV-positive patients. But how those processes are causing disease isn’t quite understood.
A new look at aging
“We used to think about aging as slowly falling apart, like an old car. But there’s a huge difference between us and a car. We constantly get fixed up by our cells. What happens is you have a defect in repairing that damage as you get old,” Verdin said. “It may be that we can use HIV as a model system for what we know about aging.”
Scientists have long been hunting for models to study aging, but because humans age slowly and at roughly the same pace, a scientist can’t hope to study a group of people for a lifetime, if only because that scientist will probably die before his or her study group does.
But HIV patients who are aging faster than the average person provide some opportunity for research.
“What these patients are going through is not so different from what a lot of old people go through,” said Judith Campisi, a scientist with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in Novato. “The way a lot of us look at it, there’s some natural aging process that’s being accelerated.
“Of course, it may be we’re wrong, and maybe there’s something specific to AIDS going on with these people,” Campisi added. “But I still think we could learn something about normal aging by studying the incidents of accelerated aging.”
Turning to mice
Along a similar vein, a scientist at the Gladstone Institutes is developing what’s known as a humanized mouse – a rodent whose native immune system has been stripped out and replaced with a human one.
If the model works, scientists hope to use those mice to study the aging effects of HIV infection, among other areas of research. Because mice have so much shorter lives than humans, a mouse with a human immune system could provide a fantastic, birth-to-death example of cellular senescence and inflammation.
And, ultimately, researchers believe the mouse model could help scientists develop treatments to fight the decline of the immune system – both in HIV patients and in the general population.
“As we age the animals, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly their immune system ages too. We can look at whether the effect of the aging is caused by the virus, by the HIV drugs, or by a combination or something else entirely,” said Shomyseh Sanjabi, an assistant investigator at Gladstone. “You can really try to address some of the questions that no one’s been able to address right now in the field.”
Someday, scientists hope to develop drugs that will slow the effects of aging in HIV patients. They are looking at anti-inflammatory drugs, many of which are already on the market, to target the specific types of inflammation associated with HIV infection. Scientists at Gladstone are hopeful that clinical trials of those drugs could begin in one or two years.
Researchers also are looking for ways to refine protease inhibitors so they only attack the virus and not naturally occurring cells. That could mean developing entirely new drugs, or changing dosage requirements so that only the virus is affected.
In the meantime, doctors are treating HIV patients with an eye on aging. Many are screening for age-related cancers like colon cancer a decade earlier than what’s currently recommended, or they’re paying closer attention to blood pressure and cholesterol than they ordinarily would in patients in their 30s.
The advocacy agencies are devoting their resources not so much toward hospice and other end-of-life care, but toward support networks for people living with a chronic illness, or psychological help for those who are still dealing with the effects of having survived a deadly epidemic.
And for many of the patients, aging is just another dip in the roller coaster of living with HIV.
“It’s just being on pins and needles all the time,” said Anna, 42, an Oakland woman who was diagnosed with HIV in 1995 and asked that her last name not be published. “Sometimes you feel something, and you wonder if it’s a side effect from the drugs or if it’s aging or if it’s the disease itself. And you don’t know. You just have to wait and see.
“I do have a few more gray hairs,” she added with a laugh. “But I think that’s just normal aging.”
Erin Allday is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. And I had plenty of time on my hands which meant I was out and about really early today. Set up was quick and painless. And I hung outside on the church stoop for a while before the first person showed up early.
As it was the last Tuesday of the month, it was business meeting day and with a fair number of attendees we got a lot done and reorganized and adjusted to meet everyone’s needs and motions.
We have decided to stick with three major books to read from for the next 90 days, the Big Book, the Twelve and Twelve and Living Sober. We have been seeing a good number of newcomers come in and stick around for more than a week or two. So we have been focusing on the Big Book. Which is a good thing.
We’ve covered the first part of the book steps One, Two and Three. Today we read from the book and Step 4. I recognized that, as we read from the book, that entire swaths of passages were highlighted.
And I was like, Hmmmm… there is a snake stirring in my gut…
I have been “feeling” as of late. And somewhat isolating from my sponsor. I have known this for a few days now. And I have been avoiding my own feelings because I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to my sobriety and my feelings.
My sponsor stresses the importance of Steps 1,2,and 3. And he shared tonight that certain steps carry with them more import than others. I worked my steps through during the 17 week intensive I did (partially) last Fall. I did not stay in the group because I had issues with people and personalities. So I left off early.
Needless to say, I feel convicted by our women to look closer at myself and take a look at my feelings and honor that I am feeling them and that I need to sit down with my sponsor sometime soon and we arranged tentative dates on the way home.
I wanted to share a passage with you:
“The verdict of the ages is that faith means courage. All men and women of faith have courage. They trust their God. We never apologize for God. Instead we let Him demonstrate, through us, what He can do. We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.” Pg. 68 B.B.
Writing out our Fourth Step we follow the columns. All the way across, to not only look at what others have done, but what rests on our side of the street. Because this isn’t about you, it is about me.
“We heard talk of humility and becoming who we were meant to be,” I can’t recall the exact quote I heard but it went something like this.
Resentments Kill, and if we harbor resentments, the drink is not far away. And the book says that there are no justified resentments. But if I am honest with you, I am beginning to feel fear creeping up my ass into my daily affairs.
Never tell an alcoholic that you are going to do something and take care of this and that, and that we are going to do this and move there and everything is going to be peachy keen. I have fallen into this little trap and I am trying to stay one step ahead of resentment and remember that this isn’t about me, but justifiably, this directly affects me.
According to the grand plan that had been set forth to me (and I have it in writing) that hubby was supposed to be finished with school with the letters M.A. added to his name.
And that this fall term he was supposed to be teaching, something he wanted to do and this was supposed to carry us into financial freedom and the final act was supposed to be a move into bigger digs and we were to start replenishing our old furniture and electronics for new stuff.
And Hubby was going to step up to the plate and take care of me forevermore. And that we would want for nothing.
This grand plan seemed too good to be true and I should not have placed so much energy in hoping that all these things would fall into place and that the timeline would have come into fruition.
Sadly it hasn’t…
I should know better than to hope that my Bi-Polar husband would rise to the occasion and follow through with his words of action. But being Bi-Polar is capricious. And we are stuck in a low cycle, which means that upwards motion is supposed to follow, hubby has failed to launch.
And I can’t be angry about this because I should understand the difficulty that Bi-Polar presents. It is far better for me not to harp on what was supposed to be and become bitchy and indignant because things aren’t happening the way I thought they would. And copping a resentment is pointless. Because it isn’t going to get me anywhere.
But fear is creeping up my ass in any case.
I don’t know where my next meal is coming from. I don’t know when we will have money to grocery shop. People have been providing for us, while hubby figures out what he is going to do. I don’t know what the hell hubby is doing to provide, because right now he is not providing enough. And teaching went out the window and now I am waiting on the next plan of action to come up.
I had my eye on the prize, I had my eye on that promise that says
“fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us!”
That one fucking promise has been dogging us ever since we got sober.
And here I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Because of my own personal limitations due to assistance I get on a monthly basis. Because I live with AIDS I am covered by a stipend plan. And if I was to find work, (not that I am looking for work actively) I would loose that stipend and if I lost that stipend and I get really sick (god forbid) I would not be able to get it back because of the hell I had to go through to initially get on that plan. The U.S. Government would rather people with AIDS die quickly and so they can deny us security.
So does it seem right that I have resentments?
Did I place too much hope in the future?
Have I unrealistic expectations?
or any expectations at all?
At once we commence to outgrow fear …
The room was full. We sat more than 50 people. We drained to coffee pot once again, which means either we buy a bigger urn or make more coffee in the urn we use. I’ve been making full urn for the last few months. We didn’t get all the way around the inner circle so a handful of people did not get to share.
Constant Vigilance !!!
This has been my brain drain for the moment. Thank you for reading my rambling thoughts about my sobriety.
More to come, stay tuned …
The Autumnal Equinox has occurred. It is officially Fall. It is just a little nippy out and at this hour it is 10c. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
I started my day with worship services at the Cathedral this morning. Today was the conclusion of a four day synod of clergy for this region of the Anglican branch of the Episcopal Church.
Let’s just say that we hosted a great big bunch of visiting clergy this week which culminated with this morning’s liturgy celebrated by The Most Reverend Claude Miller, Bishop of Fredrickton, Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Canada.
The service was high mass with bells and whistles. We did not have bells and smells this morning. The services at the Cathedral don’t usually employ censor and Thurber. The choir was just angelic – they sang to the heavens. And our Bishop Barry of our Cathedral was the preacher of today’s sermon.
I came home right away after services and farted around a bit until I decided that I would nap for a few hours before part two of my day started.
I was up around 4 to be out of the apartment by 4:30 to do set up. I really was not a member of Sunday Niter’s (yet) but I have keys to the church since we use the same room as on Tuesday night. The young man who usually sets up texted me last night to say he wouldn’t be making it tonight – so I got there to make coffee and set the room up.
I officially joined Sunday Niter’s this evening.
We finally reached the end of Experience, Strength and Hope tonight, after months and months on this book. This final story comes out of edition 3 of the Big Book, titled “He who looses his Life.”
The opening line of this story goes as follows:
I remember the day when I decided to drink myself to death quietly, without bothering anyone, because I was tired of having been a dependable, trustworthy person for about thirty-nine years without having received what I thought was a proper reward for my virtue…
The story continues later on with: On that day of decision, I didn’t acknowledge that I was an alcoholic. My proud southern blood would have boiled if anyone had named me such a despicable thing. No, it can best be explained in a little phrase I coined and sang to myself: “What happened to Bob? Bob found alcohol!”
And having sung that phrase, I’d chuckle with amusement, turning into irony into self-contempt turning into self pity, at the sad fate of Bob, what wonderful, poor little motherless boy who was so smart in school and grew up to accept responsibility so early and so fast and who staggered under his burdens without a whimper until the time came when he thought he was too good for this world and so he ought to be out of it. Poor Bob!
The story goes on to tell about the disconnect between emotional growth and intellectual growth. And the fact that he had such an emotional full plate with responsibility at such a young age that that stunted his emotional and intellectual growth.
Me thinks he may have had an ego attack carrying expectations that he thought he deserved so much for all that he’d given up at such a young age.
Saddling a young child or teen-ager with premature responsibility before their due time for it is a recipe for disaster. No wonder this man became an alcoholic. He grew up faster than was the plan, he grew stunted emotionally and intellectually that in his adulthood took to the bottle rather than feel the myriad of emotions that were causing him to drink in the first place.
I identified with this writer on many points. Responsibility came quickly and easily to me when I was a teen-ager. I shared this tonight that I remember the day that I made a decision that I wasn’t going to go to daycare after school but be able to go home after school, garnering a key from my parents to be able to get in the house (on my own) because my parents worked during the day until the dinner hour. That was a first, and I was in grade school at that time.
Who gives a child a key to the house that early???
I took on responsibility for myself and my brother after school, taking care of home and hearth. Doing chores and learning how to cook so to help my mother out with cooking after work.
Then in Junior High when my sainted grandmother had her stroke my father took me out of school for months at a time and flew me to her bedside hoping against hope that as the first born child I would be able to miraculously draw her out of her paralyzed – stroked self back into the world of the living. I failed at that miserably. And I don’t think my father ever forgave me for that inability.
I was put in a precarious position. It was cathartic walking into a hospital room seeing the woman who was my entire life – dead on arrival – having been paralyzed down the right side – her face falling off her skull. I fainted and ended up in the ER myself having hit my head on the stone hospital floor when I fell.
Emotions, what are they, what was I feeling? What do I do with my feelings and emotions? I was way too early for the party and that scarred me for life.
The writer talks about the fine line we cross when we become “alcoholic and begin to drink alcoholically.”
That line followed me from childhood. Because the first time I recollect drinking, it was all for one and one for all. I drank for the drunk. There were no half measures or “just one drink” for me. I was in it to win it … You could say that that fine line had been erased by the alcoholic upbringing I had lived.
They say that the “AGE” you are – when you begin drinking alcoholically, is the age you remain emotionally and intellectually, until you either die from the drink or you get sober. If that axiom is true, then I was a teen-ager for more than half my life when I hit my first bottom at 26. And the second one at 34.
I learned about responsibility the hard way the first time around having been diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. There was no rehearsal, no dry run. This was live television and there were no commercials in between shows.
I learned a lot of much needed lessons. I had it really good. I always say that if time travel was possible, the period of time I would relive would have been those first three years from 26 to 29. Over and Over again. Without a doubt.
I had what I needed the first time around, when I took my slip and headed into the unknown, all by myself, stupidly and fueled by my emotions and clearly not my intellect. HUGE MISTAKE !!!
The second time around, having lived through the horror of death and plague, and survived, the second time around I was able to learn about me. What I was feeling and learning about my feelings. And that has been a work in progress for the last decade or so of time under my belt.
I heard it said that the longer we stay sober, the more the journey becomes internalized. We have done to exterior work and now the work becomes internal work. And I am just learning what that means today.
I don’t know from family. I created my family from scratch. I will never have the opportunity to grow up and become a real man in my parent’s eyes. I am the gay abomination that doesn’t deserve to live and breathe the same air.
You know, I made choices based on things I experienced as a child. I pissed some people off in making those choices and now I eternally pay for those decisions that certain people cannot grant me the fact that I have grown up into the man I am and have them be happy for my achievement.
And it isn’t about my ego. It is all about my feelings. And the fact I have them, and certain people in my life deny that I could even have them, that would be to acknowledge simply, that I exist.
I am powerless over people, places and things. And it is a sad commentary that family is stuck in the past and in resentment. They switched off my light switch. And it will be forever dark.
Fuck me …
It was a good meeting. I shed light on a new part of my life tonight. And it was good. There was no crash and burn, no desire to drink. Just an acknowledgement of growth in the program.
This has been my Sunday brain dump…
More to come, stay tuned…
Today was my Fall visit to the doctor to go over my chart. I was prepared to hear the same old line from him as usual. He says “You won’t ever die from AIDS.” But I’ve heard that before, many years ago from one of my other doctors.
I need to loose some more weight. I told him my attempt at running was a failure because of pain in my legs (read: Fire) … He suggested that I take up swimming instead. He said that I would loose weight and tone my pear shaped body back into some semblance of normal.
He also said that in the coming months that he would work to find me alternate medication to take, because, he said, that he thinks I am taking too many pills on a daily basis and soon the option of once a day dosing may come up. But because my resistance profile is high, so daily dose drugs being used now on other patients, are not feasible for me.
He also told me that there is an inject-able drug for Diabetes that will bring my sugar levels down further than they are now and also contribute to loosing more weight. Do you see the theme here … weight, weight, weight …
Since his my doctors brother is my diabetes doctor, they will talk about my file together and set up a new plan of action. My sugars were nominal last month. My A1C was 6.3. Which is good.
I lost a kilo and a half and that pleased my doctor. He worries that as I grow older my chance at heart disease rises because it is a family problem, as diabetes in. Strokes were the problem for my paternal grandparents. And my father had multiple heart attacks, and has diabetes. Doc wants to take me off that shit list of problems later on down the road. So he wants me to loose more weight.
These are the numbers:
07 Aug 2012 VL 39 copies (undetectable) CD4% 44 CD4Abs 1276 ratio 1.07
15 May 2012 VL 39 copies (undetectable) CD4% 45 CD4Abs 1350 ratio 1.07
10 Jan 2012 VL 39 copies (undetectable) CD4% 43 CD4Abs 1333 ratio 1.05
All the numbers are good. Doc says he doesn’t worry about numbers any longer for me, because I am the “Poster child” for immune-difficency recovery. So he says. he is more worried about my body rather than the numbers it produces.
So that’s today’s update.
More to come, stay tuned…
It is a beautiful day in the neighborhood. It was cold last night. Our first night coming ever so close to single digits. Definitely hoodie and sweater weather. I have to get my toques out of the closet.
I spoke with my friend Sam last night, and after said conversation I took the plunge and opened up a Twitter account. (@jandrews1350). It was the last piece of technology that I had been avoiding since it’s inception. But thanks to Sam, you can follow my tweets. There is a twitter feed on the blog on the top right side of the sidebar.
This morning came early and I set off for the Metro and went to put tickets on my card and the damned machine would not accept my debit card … So I drained my wallet of all my cash to buy tickets.
My fellow community seeker met me for church at the Cathedral. It was a nice service. And I did not know that one of our mutual friends from the room is a deacon at the cathedral. He was getting on ok, without his cane until the end of the service. As usual my spiritual director was on the altar with the rector and the assistant priest (they were ordained together in June).
We stayed for coffee and conversation with a few folks. I joined up for a talk on Spirituality on the 21st of September. (this coming Friday). That should prove to be exciting. Since I have Friday night’s free.
After service we walked back to my friends home and it was beautiful out. I had never been up in that neck of the woods. McGill was hosting a football game so there were a lot of people out and about. And then we crossed Parc – right at the mountain and I spied the cross on top of the mountain. That’s someplace that I haven’t been in a long time.
She showed me her films and we farted around on the blog. You really don’t know the love and care that I put into this site. It’s a lot of grunt work, making all the bells and whistles work.
We had simple lunch of soup which was great. And then I took the bus home. The day is only halfway finished. More to come later on this evening.
The evening grew cooler as the sun went down. I was needed to meet up with one of my friends to help with set up and coffee. I just enjoy this meeting so much because of all the wonderful people that attend.
It was a packed house. And we are two stories from the end of the book that we have been reading for many months now. One more story, then the end of the month tradition meeting and then the first week of October to finish the book, then we move back into reading the Big Book from cover to cover.
We won’t get to the stories in the back for some time because of the first 164 pages are the same in all editions. We will have to make sure folks are reading from a 4th edition because we did not read those stories yet, because the text we are in now only cover editions 1,2,and 3.
Our story tonight was about a man of war located in Europe in the late 1930′s and into the 40′s and WWII. And after more than twenty years in the armed services our man found himself looking at a medical discharge because of his drinking. They let him go, even when he couldn’t see that he had the problem. He had to be hard off to get booted from WWII service.
The thread that most of us picked up on from the story was the connection between our man and his mother. She had done everything for him that she could to the point of becoming pitiless and sorrowed. It came to pass that she was going to turn him out into the world on his own, and at this point, there was nothing he could do to or know how to take care of himself because he was so thick in the drink. But he found the rooms in Ireland. And got sober. And he got his family back and he stayed sober.
I was twisting in my chair all throughout the meeting because my mind was churning. I was trying to find the words to speak what I wanted to say, and it went like this …
The first time I got sober, it was mere weeks into my AIDS diagnosis. All of my friends bailed. My parents bailed, my brother bailed. My then boyfriend bailed on me. Leaving me with nothing but the shred of self respect I had left.
There was nobody to care for me or about me, so why bother?
If Todd and Roy had not saved me from the grip of death and addiction to alcohol, I would surely have died years earlier. They loved me back into life and well into years of sobriety. From point A to point B, when I worked for them and then point B, when they decided to pull up stakes and move out West, I was safe.
Once they were gone I had to reintegrate back into a world I knew nothing about, because I lived in their world for two years never having to deal with the outside on my own. I always had them to guard and guide me.
But they moved away. And for two years I stewed. I wasn’t sponsored. But I was going to meetings. I made a few friends in Miami, where I was now living and I had a job. While that lasted. Not very long …
But the farther that time took me from the protection of Todd and Roy, I was left to my own devices. And hindsight tells me that that was not a really good place to be (left to my own devices). And I made a fateful decision that facilitated my slip back out the door.
And you would have thought that after everything that I was put through during those next few years that I would not walk, but RACE back to the rooms. I knew where they were.
The sad fact is that after 9-11, We, Me, Us, and everybody else, just could not stop drinking. It was sickening. But I thought tonight that had i stayed on the drink, and not gotten sober, nobody would have been the wiser. I had no family to get back, no friends to get back, no real life to speak of. And that’s the way it was.
Had it not been for Troy taking me back to my first meeting, after his kind and loving care over the weeks prior to him breaking his anonymity to me and inviting me for his cake that very night, I may not have gotten sober again.
And had it not been for Ed, and Fonda, and Charlie and Malaika and Christian, I probably would not have stayed. They cared for me around the clock. For months at a time. They gave me a reason to get sober again. Having other people counting their days like I was was stimulant to the journey to begin in earnest.
Family has always been a sore spot for me because we live in separate worlds. And it is ignorance, stupidity and arrogance that keeps us in separate worlds. Once an abomination always an abomination… There is no salvation there.
I have a reason to stay sober today. And I am grateful for every single person in my life today. Especially my new found friends who make time for me and want to break bread with me and who love me because I am a human being who deserves love and care. It has been a wonderful day.
Welcome to my twitter followers. If you have twitter, add me and follow along the blog on twitter, since I added the link now.
I hope you all had a good day today.
More to come, Big Brother begins shortly.
“We have found we can enjoy, sober, every good thing we enjoyed while drinking – and many, many more. It takes a little practice, but the rewards more than make up for the effort. To do so is not selfish, but self protective. Unless we cherish our own recovery, we cannot survive to become unselfish, ethical, and socially responsible people.”
Living Sober pg.42
The weather is definitely getting cooler. Temps have dipped into the 10c mark overnight these past few nights. The air outside has gotten cooler, enough to wear a hoodie. And as the weather is changing, my body decided to rebel over the last few days. I’ve been feeling a little “under the weather” and I have been being good to myself by resting as much as I can.
It is one thing being an alcoholic. But quite another being HIV+. Listening to ones body is imperative when you are sick. And it goes that any quirk in the weather is enough to trigger an immune response. And my body certainly responded to the weather changing by saying … I’m going to saddle you with sickness, and I’ve been on medication for the past few days in response to that problem.
It was a beautiful afternoon. I got out early and was finished with set up by 5 o’clock and had plenty of time to sit outside on the stoop to watch the people go here and there. The girls arrived around 6 and it was a full house. We sat the entire circle and the outer circle as well.
We read from Living Sober. There is a list of questions this passage asks the reader:
- Have we refrained from drinking today?
- Have we made ourselves eat properly today?
- Have we tried to fulfill our obligations today?
- Have we done the best we could today?
If so, that’s all it is fair to expect.
I did not drink today, nor did I entertain even the thought of a drink. I eat properly every day because hubby cooks fine meals every day. I did all that I had to do, (that I always do) on Tuesday. I did my best today and for me that is enough.
I tell this story about early sobriety about expectations in my first year of sobriety, for some reason I had a list of things I expected from God, now that I was getting sober once again … And I shared that list at a meeting, and they all told me to keep coming back. So started learning how to stay in my day and to live in my day. God looked at my list and replied in kind ….
Ask me again later …
I got the message. Expectations were something that I could not afford in early sobriety, and they are not something that I can afford today either. When I expect, it is all about me, and really, it isn’t all about me really. It took me 18 months to learn how to stay in my day.
After conversations with my friend on Sunday, I thought that I would do something with my time seeing that I have plenty of time on my hands, maybe it was time for me to find something to do that would be useful for someone else. So, that’s a good thing.
The weather is changing and I hope that all of my people will roll with the changes and come to the meeting. As the weather goes downhill you have to give people a reason to come out when it gets cold out. I come early to set up to give folks a place to come and congregate before the meeting. And during the winter, someone has to come and set up and get the heat on and make sure everything is ready to go week in and week out, as I was explaining to one of our new members. If the room is welcoming, warm and cozy, they will come …
I am working on making sure everyone knows that they can show up early if they so wish, because that’s why we set up early.
Time to go rest, and take care of me.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Such a pretty space. The home conversion of a holy space. I’ve seen a few of these and they have been done up to high spec.
You know what they say about prayer … “Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.”
I wrote a post about what has been going on here at the hacienda and my worries. It is the end of the month, hence, we run out of everything all at the same time, it is just a gradual – well, we run out of food. We run out of pills. We run out of stuff to drink.
And most importantly, you know you’ve hit rock bottom when you run out of toilet paper. And have no money to buy more. Thankfully there is 1 roll left which means money will come. I believe as long as there is one roll of toilet paper ready to go, that’s money in the bank.
I was up late last night. Much later than usual. I was scanning through several books to occupy my mind because I was out of my meds and I wasn’t really tired, because my mind tends to wander and I begin to ruminate. So I picked up Harry Potter and read a scene from the Order of the Phoenix, and put it down. I picked up Many Lives and Many Masters and read a paragraph, and was like Oh God !!!
Then I picked up meditations by the Dalai Lama, and was like, too deep for 4 am. Then I picked up The Tao of Pooh, and read a couple of chapters. But it wasn’t sinking in, so I gave up the ghost, turned off the light and tried to sleep. 45 minutes later I was wide awake laying in bed. It was close to 6 a.m.
I fired up the box and rifled off my opinion about the looming election on September the 4th. If the Liberals loose we may find ourselves under the gun of a separatist party who’s main goal is to push through a referendum “tomorrow”
As the Parti Quebecois Pauline Marois has said in interviews as of late,
about separating Quebec from Canada. Like they can afford to do this, and have a new currency ready to go, and a majority government to push through this referendum, because it will be harder to do with just a minority, which if we believe the reports as of last night, a minority is within reach, if the Liberals cant eek out another win, which is unlikely, but we all haven’t voted yet and until the last vote is counted, we don’t know who will win.
Fuck these separatists. They can all go to hell.
When I came to Canada I became a citizen of Canada. Not a citizen of Quebec. Quebec didn’t send me a nice signed “Welcome to Canada proclamation.” And the first time I shopped in a Quebecer staffed grocery store and a francophone woman spit at me I was finished with anything French… They can all go fuck themselves.
And if the separatists win and they fuck with my living in Anglo Montreal, I will sure as fuck consider leaving the province because I don’t need that kind of shit to worry about.
Sorry for that rant .
Moving right along … back to my story:
So it was closing in on 6:15 and I was ruminating so I got dressed and I actually broke out a sweatshirt to wear out because it was that cool this morning. I walked the few blocks there jamming some good tunes, and I arrived around 6:30. The meeting is only a few blocks away.
I sat there and waited until 10 to 7 and then texted grasshopper because nobody had shown up to open and he sent me back an “I’m on my way.”
He has this new phone a Galaxy something or other. And he has an app that is a virtual personal assistant. All he has to do is speak into the phone and tell it what to do and he does it for you. Like instead of texting and driving all you need to do is speak to the assistant and he will do it for you … It’s not Siri…
So anyways, I said a prayer to God last night when I wrote that “trust me” post and God replied at 7:20 this morning. Just as my sponsor advised me to do.
You might pray to God to help you change this … or ask him to change it…
Once you become a member of the fellowship, ALWAYS bring your needs to a meeting, be they big or small. In 10+ years of sobriety, I’ve never had to go outside the room for anything. If there was something going on, I took it to a meeting and spoke about it and I shit you not, I got answers. Sometimes not immediate like today, but damn close.
I shared my concerns with a friend and he, without skipping a beat, took care of those problems as soon as the meeting was over with. I am truly grateful for friends in the program. Because they have done great things for me.
Attitude of Gratitude…
And I get word that tomorrow is our wonder woman chair from Tuesday Night’s meeting, anniversary on the 30th. Thursday night, and her sponsor is flying in from New York to speak at St. Matthias then. It will be a Big Huge Estrogen Party. It will be exciting for sure. 14 years is a long time.
Good things to look forwards to on Thursday night.
I think I may try to sleep now. Since I’ve been awake for umpteen hours now.
More to come, stay tuned …
Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…
I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…
Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…
So it began…
At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.
The rule was set…
You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!
I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.
This is your life we are talking about…
The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.
When I got sober there was a man with AIDS named Larry, he was a drunk like me. But he was unique. He sat with a bottle on the table and a loaded revolver to shoot himself. He carried that gun with him and showed it to every one of us, and he told us relentlessly that he was going to kill himself. He got sober with the rest of us. Over the years following his spiritual awakening, he did something that no one else thought to do.
People with AIDS were being left in the streets. Mortuaries would not process sick people, they would not touch a body that had been infected with AIDS. Families would not bury their children. We did that. Larry opened his services to the community and he became another champion of the cause. I knew him. He eventually got rid of the gun, so I heard.
For a few minutes during transition, I would warm up the smoker, fire up the turntable and start the computer so that I could worship my God to the music of my soul. I did that every night. I worshiped whatever was going to save me.
I was servant to the men. I was servant to my Master. I was a slave for God, be he dressed or undressed. You never saw God until you witnessed true beauty of the soul in all its carnality. There is something sacredly profane about this part of my life. What went on inside the temple stayed in the temple. Many months would pass and I battled my demons of alcoholism before I finally fell into the pit of death, and there happen to be somebody watching from the sidelines.
Danny saved me that night. He was the man who cradled me in his arms, oxygen mask on my face and had called the paramedics to try and revive me. Danny took me home that night, and did not leave my apartment for a week. He fed me, bathed me and cared for me, under that watchful eye of my Master Todd. When the word was spoke, action was taken, and hell hath no fury if you did not jump when told to. Todd was very protective over his boys and men.
We were reminded that Todd had lost love to AIDS. Bob was buried across the street in the cemetery that faced our building. It was hard – it was painful, and it was sacred. Kevin and Larry did things for me that no man ever did for me in the real world. We were the three musketeers. We were the team to beat in bar management and service. We ran a tight ship and we were accountable, respectable and reliable. We proved a mighty force against the odds we all faced.
Let’s get it on…
Shift was begun at eight. The wells were filled the beer was stocked and the ice bins were full. Put your money in the drawer and let’s get the music thumping. Like clockwork at the strike of eight bells the first note hit the turntables. They were lined up around the building. Cars were parked all over the place. The temple worship had begun. Heaven was found amid the souls of suffering men who knew they were all marked for death, but for tonight, whatever you desired was fulfilled. You could drown away your sorrow and dip into the well of living water if you wished as well. You have never lived until you party like your dying with crowds of undulating flesh as far as they eye can see. The ghosts of those men now inhabit the fantasies and dreams I have still to this day.
One by one, two by two, they died in our arms. We held them until they took their last breaths. Memorialized in the careful and blood soaked threads of quilts, as the years went by, they started collecting by the dozen, then by the hundreds. If you’ve ever seen the entire quilt unfurled, all the men who were part of my life in those first years of my epidemic life, they are all together in death, as they were in life. Memorialized until the end of time. And we remember each of their names.
So many young boys torn from life before they knew what hit them. Men who infected them had died as well. Many of my friends were taken on trips that were detrimental to them, and just robbed them of life that was still left to live.
Todd saw to it that I would never go there…
You come to work, dress as you will, you obey me and do not waver from my eye, for I know your carnal desires and you are too young to tempt the devil with his dance. Because I surely did not know what could befall me if the right charmer enticed me into his web of desire, and they all knew I was fair bait. But in order to dine from my buffet, you needed explicit permission of my Master, who never allowed any man to defile me like many had been. I was off limits. I never crossed the line provided because that meant disrespect and I could never bear to break my Master’s heart with disobedience.
I loved Him, and He loved me – I had many problems. I was depressed and angry and resentful. I had the scars of traumatic visions of my dead lovers corpse in my head, and the words of his mother still ring in my ear today “I hope that every night until you die, that you see the corpse of my dead son in your field of vision.” That curse still lives with me and will go with me to the grave. Five day old corpses are not pretty. I had to identify the remains when all was said and done. Save that he was wearing jewelry that I could identify and part of him was still recognizable – God forgive me…
I remember that day, it was early afternoon the morgue called me from work to come and do the deed. I drove in and looked upon him in that room, I wept tears that burned into my soul forever. I just could not imagine – the pain was so hard to bear. I drove over to the bar. Bill was working behind the bar. I drank until I could not stand up on my own. I drank for a week, straight…
Todd and Bill needed to find me a solution and quick, because I was on the outs.
I started suicide therapy in a group setting that lasted 32 weeks. Nothing like rehashing death week after week, until the pain was purged from your soul, but is it ever? Months went by until I got my news.
But they cared for me in all my brokenness. A young angel would earn his wings back. Come hell or high water. In the end, when all was said and done, at the end of the day I survived, but so many did not. And each night I offer them prayers in hope that when I meet my death that all of them will be waiting for me in the Temple Of Earthly Desire in the promised land of the Kingdom of God, where the sacred and profane are mingled with the blood of the Almighty and the blood of my friends who have gone before me, on that day we will be cleansed of our sins.
And forgiven by God…
Goodnight angels of men
In a church,by the face,
He talks about the people going under.
Only child know…
A man decides after seventy years,
That what he goes there for, is to unlock the door.
While those around him criticize and sleep…
And through a fractal on a breaking wall,
I see you my friend, and touch your face again.
Miracles will happen as we trip.
But we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We get a little crazy
No we’re never gonna survive, unless…
We are a little…
…Crazy yellow people walking through my head.
One of them’s got a gun, to shoot the other one.
And yet together they were friends at school
Ohh, get it, get it, get it, get it no no!
If all were there when we first took the pill,
Then maybe, then maybe, then maybe, then maybe…
Miracles will happen as we speak.
But we’re never gonna survive unless…
We get a little crazy.
No we’re never gonna survive unless…
We are a little…
No no, never survive, unless we get a little… bit…
Oh, a little bit…
Oh, a little bit…
Amanda decides to go along after seventeen years…
In a sky full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a world full of people, only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
In a heaven of people there’s only some want to fly,
Ain’t that crazy?
Oh babe… Oh darlin…
In a world full of people there’s only some want to fly,
Isn’t that crazy?
Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy… Isn’t that crazy…
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless we are a little… crazy..
But we’re never gonna survive unless, we get a little crazy.. crazy..
No we’re never gonna to survive unless, we are a little.. crazy..
No no, never survive unless, we get a little bit…
And then you see things
Of which you’ve never known before
They’ll break it
Only child know….
Of which you’ve never known before