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…
Once again today they told us it was going to rain. As I was preparing to leave for the evening, it didn’t look like rain, and I hate carrying my big umbrella, so I left it here at home.
We arrived at Laurier and caught the bus, and on the way it began to spit rain. It did not last long. And after the meeting we hitched a ride to Sherbrooke Metro and still no rain fell. When we arrived at Guy to walk home the ground was wet, so it must have rained on our side of the mountain.
But you know, they have been spraying the skies for weeks. I watch these planes coming from the West, from the direction of the airport, way up high, they did not take off from our airport because the planes are up so high in the air. Most of the time there are a pair of planes spraying chemicals from west to east over the downtown core. I saw a plane spraying just the other day. Some say it is just air streaming from the planes – but if you listen to radio, chemical spraying is happening all over the place.
Why didn’t the rain come ???
We sat a full room, and then some. We are reading once again As Bill Sees It.
In God’s Hands …
” When we look back, we realize that the things which came to us when we put ourselves in God’s hands were better than anything we could have planned.”
The consensus among my fellows tonight were “turning it over” “surrender” “letting go” so forth and so on.
Hindsight is 20/20 and if I am honest, my surrender began much earlier than when I made the conscious surrender of the drink.
A series of events lined up for me – that surely did not come from my hands. There was no other place to go, no other place to live and no other thing to be doing. I had surrendered myself to the grand scheme of things, so to speak.
When I finally met the end of my drinking, and I uttered the prayer for an alcoholic to come into my life, essentially, I was turning it over to God. He would either grant the prayer or He wouldn’t.
Within days an alcoholic appeared in my life and escorted me to my next first meeting. And within weeks, the stars began to align. Not by my hand, and not by my doing, the shortcomings of others played out into my hands. And the sign from God was to answer the call and follow.
And that is what I did.
One thing led to another and I ended up here. And the rest, they say, is history.
I never imagined in all my life, that life would have ended up where it has. But I suited up and I showed up and God did the rest.
This is why we read the books cover to cover, over and over again.
This is why we go to meetings every day, over and over again.
And this is how we stay sober. One day at a time, turning it over, and letting it go. It takes work, and the payoff can be fantastic. If you get out of the way and let God do the heavy lifting.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned.
It has been a sunny past couple of days. And the excitement is rising. Hubby finally finished writing his 160 page thesis for his Masters Defense which comes tomorrow morning. Two years of blood, sweat and tears culminates in a twenty minute presentation in front of the M.A. Advisers and his thesis readers.
We are nearing the end of the month and May is just around the corner and the dawn of Changing Attitudes. Tomorrow night we will travel up town to pick up our new cabinet and bring it to the church for installation. And the ritual filling of that cabinet will follow soon after. There is a list of things we need to get sorted and purchased for the first meeting. It is all very exciting.
I met a friend to head over to Tuesday Beginners for the meeting tonight. Everyone was happy to see me since my absence from the group. My seat that I have always sat in was waiting for me with lots of love and hugs.
My sponsor had a gift for me, which is why I went there and not to Vendome Beginners tonight. I now have a copy of the original manuscript for the Big Book. prices run in the hundreds for copies of the manuscript. There is a link in the pages to the site where it can be purchased. That will be a good read.
Our ladies took us on a journey through Living Sober tonight and the topic read was “Getting rid of Old Ideas.” I was third from the end and we didn’t get all the way to the end to get everybody in.
I heard many good things that resonated with me. Having been in for a few years, Having left safe harbor and left to my own devices, I got to the point where I was ready to allow someone else do my thinking for me. I believed that I was missing something and someone and in allowing someone else into my thoughts, I invariably put myself in danger and that facilitated my slip.
But at some point, the end of June 2000, I had had enough. I was extricated from my no win scenario and the taking back of my life began. I put down the drugs and shady behavior and I never looked back. I had been beaten almost into the floor and I needed certain help, which came.
I never picked up a drug again. I did, however continue to drink because I “thought” that that would bring me into community. I “thought” that the drink would magically make me one of many instead of just the One I had been. I was living a sad existence and I would pour my sorrows into a cup and drink them away believing that things would magically change. Alas, they did not.
I became sick and tired of being sick and tired. I finally made my way back, through the help of another member. From that day forwards I began to change the tape in my head. I divorced myself from the thought that alcohol would solve my problems, and surrendered myself to the people who helped me sober up the second time.
The running theme in sobriety for me is that I allowed sober people to help me stay stopped. Certain people in sobriety presented themselves to me, I believe, on God’s dime, to help me and help me they did. I pulled that last geographic in sobriety and left the old me where he was. I never looked back.
I learned a great many lessons the first couple years I was sober. I found a sweet spot here and the people in my life were good for me. I could stay stopped. I became confident. I became strong. I became whole. All these things did not come over night. And it took work to get here.
I still had old ideas running in my brain when I got here and thank goodness the folks here saw them and God removed all those old ideas in due time. I learned to trust God again. And I trusted my friends and fellows. And here we are going on twelve years. The longest I have been sober in my life. I have no desire to go backwards, only forwards.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Whew. What a week and weekend this has been. I remarked to a friend this evening that I haven’t been this busy with things to do in a long time. It is raining tonight, little wispy rain.
Our little meeting that is shaping up made a huge leap forwards today. The founders of the group met and we polished the minutes and readings, we talked about what we want to concentrate on and how things will play out. We also ponied up, paying our first months rent, which I will pay tomorrow. Word of mouth is working in our favor. All of the young men whom I have spoken to over the past few days seem positive that they will come. That may play out for a great showing on our first night (May 02 Thursday) …
We headed out to get the coffee perking and set up early for the Sunday Night Meeting. We sat a good group of folks. And we continued reading from the Big Book and Into Action through step 9.
” Made direct amends to such people, where ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.”
We read in the book that “The Spiritual life is not a theory. We Have to Live It.
It was brought to attention that the end of that sentence is italicized, which means that it is important and should be made note of.
In my life, as it pertains to family, we had a tit for tat relationship. Many of the decisions I made, in sobriety the first time AND the second time, were in response to something that was done to me.
My father poisoned the well between my brother and myself and I haven’t been able to mend that fence. My mother was ambivalent, and she lives in resentment. In my life, if she copped a resentment against you, she would shut you off like flicking a light switch. And they did that to many family members, not only me.
Being Gay and HIV+ was a death knell. My father said some very hurtful things, and for a long time as I was growing up he would constantly tell me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. How do you counter something like that? What do you do? I did the only thing possible and I legally changed my name as to leave the family once in for all. And I was sober when I did that.
My father told me that I would never live up to the man he named me after, a soldier who was killed in Viet Nam. And a man I know my father felt something more than friendship, since a room in his house is dedicated to him openly.
Coming to Canada was another decision I made in sobriety. One because I could not afford to live in the states any more. And my mothers propensity for lying paid off for me giving me a birthright into Canada. How could I pass that up?
I tried for years to make amends. To keep communications open. I guess I expected blood from a rock, knowing my family history. The last things my mother said to me was that if they got sick and died, nobody would call me.
Fuck me for trying.
Amends are tricky things. And there were many takes on the topic tonight. Someday in sobriety I won’t be expectant of any kind of response, if there was a response. Silence is a bitter pill to swallow. But in my family silence is the tactic to punish those who have fallen out of favor.
That’s why we pray. To accept things I cannot change, and to accept that I am powerless over people, places and things.
I am grateful for the people in my life and the good things that come from meetings.
All is right in the world tonight.
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.
The weekend is almost over. And I wasn’t pleased to loose an hour last night, because when I finally went to bed, it was almost 4 a.m. DST I read for a bit and finally turned in around 4:30.
Today was a good day. Lots of things completed. On the way out I made an appointment to get my hair cut tomorrow afternoon. I noticed that the mall is changing shape once again. The work walls are all finely decorated with brand new signage for stores moving and shifting around on the ground floor. It all looks very exciting.
Tim Horton’s is getting a bigger footprint outside the tunnel proper and Laura Secord and the florist are moving to new digs as well, and the vacant shop on the mezzanine has new signage as well. The ceiling on the ground floor is all taken apart, they must be stringing new lighting and wires for the new stores.
I met one of our members at the church to get the key for the door, since I turned in my keys last week. We sat a fair number of folks tonight. We continued our reading of Chapter 5 – How it Works, we completed the chapter focusing on Step 4 and the rigorous honesty of our inventories.
But how many of us are that rigorously honest the first time around? It is not a perfect exercise – but we do our best with what is going on in our lives at the time we work our steps.
My last recent 4th and 5th took place last fall, and as I was listening to folks share tonight, I thought about my list – because it exists in my mind and to my own detriment I wax nostalgic at times, and I tend to nurse old resentments and lament the past and often I yearn for some payback.
Today I know I have to let go of the past. I am powerless over people, places and things, and how people treated me in the past is on them and not me. I was wronged for the wrong reasons, because people could not be man or woman enough to deal with possible tragedy in a civil way.
This quote I have highlighted in my book:
“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
When I got sober this last time around, all the people I was resentful at were long gone from my life. I lived alone, doing my own thing, I thought I managed well with what I had and what I did not. I don’t think I drank resentfully, or because of anyone in particular.
I drank, in the end, because I feared growing older. That period from my mid twenties and into my early thirties was rough. I wanted so much to hang on to my youth, but that was to my detriment. When I got sober I accepted that hanging on was not suggested. It was time to grow up.
Attached to the fear of growing older was my insane obsession with fitting into a community that didn’t even know that I existed, yet that obsession lasted until I took my last drink. I don’t think anybody missed me.
And I’ve said before, had I dropped off the face of the earth, nobody would have missed me. I made an executive decision in sobriety which served me well in coming here sober. A fresh slate, new people, a new city, no drinking history to speak of. It was the best decision I ever made.
Our lives today as a couple is very simple. We don’t have a big circle of friends on either side of our marriage, his or mine. I know a great many people in the rooms, but I try not to put anything on anyone.
The decisions I made this past week were totally about me, and not resentful about anyone in particular, but suffice to say that the estrogen wave that was coming for me was getting a little close and instead of fighting the tide, I took my surfboard and exited the ocean alone.
Steps are guides to progress, we claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. Do them, to the best of your ability. Don’t fear them, but embrace them. Life will get better. I promise. And so do the promises.
That is all for now.
More to come, stay tuned …
We are sitting at (2c) at this hour. And a snowfall warning is in effect for tomorrow, they say 15 to 25 cm of snow will fall, which is pretty big for the month of March. If totals are high over the city on this round, we could see a repeat of piles of snow everywhere. Stay tuned on that front … it will be exciting.
The last week of the month has not been kind, and being a few days early and a few dollars short, I got another chance to practice humility and honesty. I don’t fear being honest, and having to ask for favors on the odd occasion.
The pharmacy fills my medications ahead of time, and they called today to say they were ready, but the $85.00 total was out of my budget and my hands today. Thankfully, my words is good, and I get another credit today so that I could get my meds and pay on Thursday.
The weather has been balmy the past couple of days, the calm before the storm, the sun even made an appearance for a while today. I set off for the church around 5, with stops on the way pegged my arrival around 5:30.
My newbies did not show up for set up. So much for accountability. I got the urns perking and jammed out setup before the 6:15 business meeting began. We gained another handful of members tonight, which brings us up to I think 25 members. I need to add them to our email member list.
We sat 50 people tonight. And the chair had us read from Came to Believe. The read comes from the back of the book, page 103, Changing Beliefs.
The quote that stood out to me was: “There is good in all of us. Seek it out, nurture it, tend it, and it will flourish.”
This passage touches on the Steps and most importantly, Step 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him. It also talks about “coming to believe.”
At the end of my drinking career, I was a lonely lone drinker, in a room of people who cared not that I was standing there. My self esteem was shot, and I was alone. And had I dropped off the face of the earth, prior to coming back in, nobody would have missed me. And that’s the truth.
I had nothing to loose when I came back. And thank God that people took me in and helped me begin to rebuild the life that I was living. I pulled a geographic in sobriety here. The only thing I did right was spending two weeks prior getting to know the city, find meetings and connect.
The journey began when I started doing meetings here. I needed someone to take me by the hand and show me how it was done here. And I got that from my sponsor at that time. The journey to learn about God began. Because I had to find the God of my understanding once again.
They told me to keep coming back, to stay in my day, to turn it over. It took me a long time to learn what these things meant. Akin to planting a new garden. I came here, and began to till the soil, so to speak.
I started going to meetings, I began to plant my seeds, THEN I had to give the garden time to grow. If you’ve never planted a garden, you can’t rush the growth cycle. It is going to grow on God’s time. I became willing to wait on my garden, when at first I thought I needed a full garden, RIGHT NOW !!!
Many people talked tonight about Coming to the rooms, Coming to, then Coming to believe. Notice the steps are gradual. Everybody is unique and it may take some time to come to believe. And that’s where willingness comes in.
The other thing I heard tonight is that what ever is going on in my head, the act “AS IF” works if you work it. Also, just suit up and show up, you never know how you will help someone by just showing up.
At one time we may have thought terrible and unreal things about ourselves, and when I came in to the rooms, like many others like me, the people in the rooms loved me and believed for me until I could love myself and believe for myself. The paradoxes of sobriety ring true.
Obviously we cannot transmit something that we don’t have ourselves.
Come to meetings, keep going to meetings. Learn about yourself and your fellows. Read the book. Work the Steps. Honesty, Willingness and Open mindedness is key. Stick around until the miracle occurs.
Give freely of what you have been given.
Plant your garden, and watch it grow. Patiently.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
The snow began to fall this evening, We are sitting at (-4c/-6c w.c.) And more snow is on the way. Thankfully we are not in the major snow event zone this time.
I am not feeling quite myself today. A cold is coming on and I am feeling a bit wonky, so on the way out I did my supermarket safari and stopped at the pharmacy for some cold/flu pills.
It was a good meeting. We sat almost 50 folks. And we read from Living Sober, number #20, “Remembering your last Drunk.”
I picked this reading on purpose and the person I wanted to participate in this reading did not show up for the meeting tonight. UGH !!!
I got to the church about 5:30, and folks were waiting since 5. Set up went quickly one of our newbies is on coffee which freed me up to do tables and the girls did chairs. Then they paired off to read their books for an hour.
They say that the farther you are away from your last drink, the closer you are to your next drink. People tend to forget their last drink as they get sober, so today’s reading was a good reminder for many.
“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it…”
We heard a bunch of good advice regarding the reading. Old timers share that with remembering the past, and being able to recall the past, when working with others, can use their experience to help others coming along the path.
For me, I don’t remember my last drink. But I do remember my last drunk. At the end of my drinking, I was an all or nothing binge drinker. My Saturday nights were reserved for getting pretty and going to the club (Salvation) and partying it up with all the buff boys, that I so badly wanted to be part of.
And the first hour I drank to excess, and at 1 a.m. religiously, they would blast a tank of liquid nitrogen and that would chill the crowd, and it was then that the shirts would come off and the music would pound because everybody was fairly buzzed or fairly high, and the night continued.
I kept drinking like I always had. I knew I was coming to the end of my drinking because I kept praying for the hangover of death to come. And for that to occur, I had to drink to the point that would trigger such an event.
I don’t remember taking my last drink, nor how I got home, who poured me into a cab, and how I got through two locked secure doors, into my apartment. I do remember that I got terribly sick and on my knees paid homage to the porcelain god.
I never usually got sick. I would always come home on that Sunday morning from the bar, turn on the tv and sink into sleep with a movie playing on the VCR. I worked a Sunday – Wednesday schedule, so I would get a little sleep in order to be at work by noon on Sunday.
I prayed for that hangover.
The second prayer I said was for God to put an alcoholic in my path, which actually did happen, within days of uttering that prayer. That person eventually took me back to my first meeting.
I sat through a Gay meeting of A.A. but did not connect with anyone, nor did anyone notice me coming or going. So I waited outside for the next meeting which was at 10, and that’s when I met Fonda and Ed and a bevy of other alcoholics, who hugged and welcomed me. I sat with them and got sober with them, and we are still friends to this day, however far apart we are, thanks to Facebook, we are just a short note away from each other.
Consequently, that bar I used to drink in (Salvation) soon closed and never reopened. And I joke that the best drunk left the building so they had to close. I had to walk past that building to get to the Sober on South Beach Group.
What I remember from that time after my last drunk, was the feelings of shame and demoralization I felt. And how long it took me to come to see myself in better light. When I went out, I left my handful of friends with no explanation nor warning that I was skipping town. I did not tell anyone what I was up to, except for the woman who was moving away as well, because we shared a moving truck.
When I returned to Miami and got sober, I hid on the beach, hoping that I would NOT run into my old friends because I felt so ashamed at the major jackpot I found myself in and kicking myself that I did that to myself with no way out, it was total insanity.
But news travels fast in certain circles. And the folks on the mainland found out that I was getting sober on the beach, and it was Christmas Eve 2001, that we met in the Poinciana meeting one night. I got lots of hugs, but I could not escape the looks of sorrow on the faces of folks, because I was at a bottom, and was working my way back.
I am sober today – in spite of myself. Because of the goodness of God and the members who took me in when I most needed it. I remember those times fondly, because many folks broke bread with me, shared their homes with me and helped me regain my dignity and for that I will always be grateful.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned…
Today has been a day of anticipation. The first snow storm of the season is on our doorstep. The Ave Maria moment we have been waiting for since last winter. So tonight we wait for the maiden to arrive and we will welcome her into our lives for another season. They say it will snow BIG snow overnight. And it will be glorious.
We’ve been bemoaning the weather men because they just could not agree on a forecast, but it seems Environment Canada is sticking to its story of a Storm Warning for the city at this hour, and that hasn’t changed all day, so we shall see.
We were up early, hubby is working away on his next few chapters due to his supervisor before Christmas. I headed off for some supermarket safari because I won’t want to go out in shin deep snow tomorrow.
I headed out early for the church, and when I got there, the place was blazing with light from the church. Tonight was the holiday concert which ran into our allotted time slot. Which was glorious.
It was a good group. Lots of friends came tonight, some that I have been missing as of late. We sat a full complement. And we read from the Big Book, chapter 2, “There is a Solution.”
“We are a people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful…
The feelings of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement that binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution…
This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.”
In the portion of this chapter we read about the many “types” of alcoholics. And from our numbers we heard tonight who inhabited which description. And just how precarious some find themselves, to think a drink is dangerous, and to take a drink, suicidal… We all agree that we can’t never have ” just one…”
We went the entire period and squeaked in everyone who wanted to share.
And I remarked that I began to drink as a young man. Being a third generation alcoholic was my lot in life. My grandfather was a type A drunk. “The bottle hider.” My father was a type B drunk. The “Jekyll and Hyde” alcoholic. I was neither. I never drank from a bottle, never hid alcohol. I never drank at home, and always in the company of others. Because for me, drinking was done to “fit in.” At least that’s what I was taught.
In my early young life, all I wanted was to be like my father. And as I grew up and Jekyll and Hide would come to visit, I remember saying that I would never become my father. But as I aged, I became an alcoholic, just like my father, to a certain degree. Not to the degree that I had witnessed in my life, but I did run my own circuitous path, into sobriety eventually. Twice …
Another year has passed. And I get another candle on the cake, and another medallion on Tuesday night. I would like to think that I earned my keep this past year. In retrospect, God gave me just enough to keep me busy and away from the drink for another year. I stay close to the book and my fellows.
I communicate with my friends at least once a day. I do service for my fellows and I give freely of what was so freely given to me, one day at a time.
I have great friends, who care about me and I about them.
But therein is the choice we all make for ourselves. We can be a participants in our sobriety or we can just sit there and warm a chair on the outer circle. Most of my friends are front row participants. Very few choose to sit on the outer circle.
I get to listen to folks share about sobriety at every meeting I go to. And we, with time, get to hear, reiterated, why we are here, and for what reason, and why we could never go back to the way it was, because to drink is to die. Because for me, I don’t know if I have another recovery in me, if I go back out.
I remember what it must have felt like for my friends when I embarked on my near fatal slip. I was not communicating, I was isolating, and I know in my heart of hearts that I truly hurt my friends. People who were long time sober when I came back the second time.
I know that look that came upon me when I finally crossed the bridge from the beach to the city on Christmas Eve at The Poinciana Meeting. They were all there to welcome me, but in hindsight, I knew the looks on their faces. That pained pity look of “wow, that could have been me…” “But for the grace of God, I am still sober…” All those things I would say to myself now, seeing folks coming in and out having gotten stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism.
Now that I have banked 11 years … Hindsight is my best teacher. I know what lengths I will go to to stay sober, and what is possible when I work with another.
And I know for me, as the book says,
Our book is meant to be suggestive only. We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us. Ask Him in your morning meditation what you can do each day for the man who is still sick. The answers will come, if your own house is in order. But obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got. See to it that your relationship with Him is right, and great events will come to pass for you and countless others. This is the Great Fact for us.
Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.
May God bless you and keep you—until then.
This is what you find at the end of the first 164 pages of the Big Book. It has come to pass that for a while we work our steps. Then we get to put them into practice in our daily lives. And we work a little more, and we get more practice. And we keep working on and on, day after day, month after month and year after year.
And sometime in the future you mark your first year, then five, and hopefully ten, and further up the line where I sit at 11 years.
I am really grateful for my friends and my fellows, and for my sponsor. Who tells it like it is, honestly and from his heart. “You don’t want to go back there because you know what will happen if you do…”
I got a card from friends today along with a packet of prayers from the Big Book. And I will close with these words:
My Creator, show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love…
Goodnight from Montreal. More to come, stay tuned …
It has been a blustery couple of days. Yesterday is was quite windy, because we could hear the wind howling through the window panes. This high up, when it gets windy, the windows shake in their frames. Last night it rained, but that did not last very long.
Today was quite cool. I bundled up before setting out this afternoon. I did some supermarket safari and made a couple of stops along the way, I cranked out set up and was finished before 5 o’clock.
I spent the down time with some cranking tunes, sitting outside watching people and cars go by the church. The majority of time my phone is a music player today was a busy afternoon with texts and calls coming and going.
We sat a full room. We added a couple more tables to the set up, now we sit 16 tables instead of 14. That’s 36 bodies around the table and 40 more on the outside ring. We were shy a full compliment due to some absences.
My sponsor has been on my ass about standing in the receiving line as a greeter, he came in and said that if I want what our women have I need to stand and greet at the door, so that is what I did tonight.
Once you come down the stairs into the church there is a receiving line of members to shake your hand and welcome you to the meeting.
A lot of the scuttle before and after the meetings as of late have been discussions about the Bill W. biography that is playing at Cinema Du Parc here in Montreal. My sponsor and I are going to see it tomorrow night.
We’ve heard a lot of comments about the movie, people with short time and people with long time sobriety were moved by the film. So we shall see tomorrow.
The chair chose a topic from Living Sober and “Fending off Loneliness.”
The quote that jumped off the page to me was this:
“Telling an A.A. group about himself, a fellow once said that being a drunk from his teen-age years to his forties (myself into my thirties) was a full time occupation, and he passed by most of the things North American males usually learn as they grow into young manhood.” pg.35
I was of the mind, growing up that alcohol was a social lubricant. That, as I was told, the drink would help me “Fit In.” That in order to be social in the gay world required assimilation, which in my case involved, tans, liquor, muscles and egos to match all those parts.
I didn’t really subscribe to the ego portion of the equation, because all that drinking did nothing for my ego but to rip it to shreds because I couldn’t find my way out of a paper bag, when I drank.
My slip took me from the end of my twenties into my mid thirties. And I remained woefully ignorant of what really mattered. I was talking to a member before the meeting – she was familiar with South Beach – I told her that when I quit drinking, the club I did my drinking in, shut its doors. How convenient…
I’ve written about this before. There was no choice for me at the time I had my last drink. I was finished. Resigned to the fact that I would never fit into “gay, gym bunny, pretty pretty, society.”
I had outgrown my pants and my twenties. Hanging on to what had passed was over. It was time to buckle my belt and accept the decision to grow up. And that is what I did.
Getting sober right before the holidays was a challenge. Because how could you live through the holidays and NOT take a drink? Thank God for Sober on South Beach. My fellows – who were there to welcome me – kept me occupied every night – going to meetings, fellowship and meals every day. I did not have to be alone, I had someone to break bread with, and we had fellowship at folk’s homes on Christmas and New Years.
My friends kept me sane and sober. They did for me what I could not do for myself, and now I can think back on it and see God’s Grace in Action.
I came here and I networked. I went to meetings, sometimes three a day. Every day for more than a year. I got into aftercare, so I would not be alone. Thank God for my after care adviser. She took good care of me. We talked every day, the office fed us, gave us a place to “be” they hosted meetings and helped us stay clean and sober. That was a good start. I was never alone …
And when you walk in the door and down the stairs, You are Not Alone Any More. You may come in and roll your eye and find if off-putting that someone would offer their phone number or ask for yours in return…
The old timers would tell you to Keep Coming Back…
The book says “I earnestly advise every alcoholic to read this book through (the Big Book) and though perhaps he came to scoff, he may remain to pray.”
William D. Silkworth, M.D.
It was a good night.
Tomorrow the sun will rise and it will be glorious.
“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…
They say that we should never forget our last drink. I remember the night, it was a Saturday night. I remember the drink. Rum and Coke of course. But I don’t remember how many drinks I plowed through that night.
I also don’t remember what happened after I drank all that liquor. What happened to me, who took me from the club, how did I get home, and equally worse, how did I get through two locked doors by myself if I was that inebriated?
I just don’t remember, and that not only happened once, it happened a second time. I was no longer enjoying the drink. I was caught up in it up to my eyeballs. The drink had me in its sights. But there was always the next day. That would be Sunday.
I had a drinking ritual that I always followed. I had a studio apartment and a huge tv that I had, a VCR and a few movies in my collection. My VCR has since died, the last time I fired up the old girl and tried to play this movie, let’s just say, the goose was cooked.
But at the time, during those last few nights of drinking at Salvation, there was no salvation for me. And I did not even think about my own redemption. For who can save the alcoholic from the death of the bottle?
They say God loves children, fools and alcoholics. Or something of that sort.
The Cider House Rules had become a tradition of sorts. I would get home somewhere around 2 or 3 am.
This movie holds a special place in my heart because it speaks of youth, love, death and hope. It is the story of Homer Wells. A young man born into an orphanage where he spends his life, after two failed adoptions gone bad.
Homer grows up to learn a great many things, for lack of a better phrase, he was educated on site to take kindly to the welfare of a woman’s choice or decision. And to help women who are stuck between a rock and a hard place, when it comes to children and having more of them, in a time when it did not bode well for children or multiples of them.
After seeing enough he decides to step out on his own and finds himself on an orchard picking apples with a Mr. Rose and his groupies who travel season to season picking fruit around the U.S.
Homer has a love hate relationship with Dr. Larch, who hatches a plan for Homer, who at one point seems to be more concerned with the orchard than the orphanage. He saves a young girl, he falls in love, he falls out of love.
It is a sad truth that at the end, us drinkers find it hard to be alone. A theme that is present in the film as well.
With the death of Dr. Larch, Homer is notified of his death and in the end returns to the orphanage to do what he should do. He returns to a life that was built solely for him by the late Dr. Larch.
I love the feeling of this movie – the story and the characters. The last scene of the movie is what kills me every time…
Homer begins David Copperfield.
“Thus I began my new life, in a new name, and with everything new about me … I felt … like one in a dream… The remembrance of that life is fraught with so much … want of hope … Whether it lasted for a year or more, or less, I do not know. I only know that it was, and ceased to be; and … there I leave it.”
Curly asks: What happens next?
And goes on: That’s tomorrow, Curly. Let’s not give the story away.
Homer puts out the lights and leaves the boys in the familiar semi-darkness. Seconds, later, the closed door to the hall is flung open, flooding the room with light from the hall, and Homer, dressed in his long white laboratory coat and looking every inch the doctor, delivers his best imitation of Larch’s popular blessing.
HOMER: Good night, you Princes of Maine! You Kings of New England!
I was so lonely and probably at the lowest point I was ever in my life. I was alone. And I have said it before that had I dropped off the face of the earth, nobody would have missed me nor come looking for me.
I held on to that blessing for all these years. If the movie plays I have to watch it through to its conclusion…
Good night, you Princes of Maine! You Kings of New England.
I hoped and hoped that one day someone would say a prayer for me.
That passage is very prophetic, now that I have listened to it spoken again. It speaks to my heart. I was so lacking in hope, and God brought me that hope and brought me here. It is all very providential.
The one true memory of the last night I took a drink is engrained in my heart, and I will never forget it. For as much as I could remember because I followed the same ritual.
For Sober friends.
For my sponsor.
and for friends at meetings.
2. for a friend who is hoping to get a job he applied for
You can see in this photo SW 152 nd street shown on the map. This is the epicenter of the following story. There weren’t cell phones and round the clock live tv coverage. That would come later. But for Miami, Homestead and all points in between, this was a life changing storm that came and wrecked and also ended the lives of many people.
Let’s get started, shall we…
My parents were on vacation in Connecticut at this time, then. I went down to fortify the house not far from Cutler Ridge (Coral Reef Drive) 152nd street, and then retreated to Ft. Lauderdale to ride out the storm with friends.
After the storm passed, my boyfriend and I started the drive south. Where a 30 minute drive turned into 3 hours to get from where I was to where the house was.
After the storm and surveying the destruction, I had to call my parents and tell them not to come home because there was no home to come home to.
The further south one drove, the destruction got worse. I cut through coconut grove and up the southerly route off the highway, and there were boats in the middle of the streets.
BIG HUGE BOATS…
We finally reached the house. There were no trees standing. A 50 foot tree that grew outside my bedroom window was dropped on the house next door. The roof was peeled off from the front to the back of the house and into the pool along with the screen over the pool itself.
Trees all over the place, Big Huge Banyan Trees that must have been more than 50 years old were all upended and torn from the ground as far as the eye could see. It was all a big mess.
There was a 2 story apartment building directly behind our house and it looked as if someone took a saw and sawed off the 2nd floor into rubble. People who lived there were combing through concrete and shit to try and find what ever was left of their lives.
There were no electrical lines hanging, they were all down. There was no water. We were 7/10ths of a mile from the water. Those houses closest to the water were severely demolished.
Further south in Homestead looked like an atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Everything was match sticks. Countless people out in the sticks west of the city disappeared into the swamps.
Thousands of people went unaccounted for and were missing, and it seemed nobody went looking for them.
After the fact, many years later, I took a class on natural disasters here in Canada at Concordia University. One night my professor started lecturing on this topic using slides and book statistics, and I read along and found that the book we used gave statistics of deaths and losses. They got it all very wrong. I was like, these numbers are wrong. You can’t use these tables and charts. So I interrupted her lecture and gave my own impromptu lecture on the storm to the entire class sitting there in the lecture hall.
I guess nobody came into the area to talk to those of us who were there right after the storm and could attest to thousands of people disappeared off the face of the earth never to be found.
All those people who worked in the fields and those who lived so far out on the other side of Krome avenue were never heard from again. How many of these people were there illegally and had no warning or got evacuated out? We will never know, but the fact is that many people were lost and never reported as such in statistics.
The state called in the troops to set up soup kitchens and do security. We were issued special I.D.’s to get into devastated areas inside the inclusion zones all points south of the airport where things were demolished. It took weeks to clean up the fallen trees. I was moving between three houses to take care of the people under my care in my neighborhood.
There were so many downed trees in the streets that driving was difficult. I watched people looting stores and robbing houses that had been destroyed. Nights afterwards we slept at the top of the streets in our cars with shotguns loaded to keep out looters.
We lived in a middle class white neighborhood. On the West side of the highway US1 was mostly a black neighborhood. And there were great racial tension between the two worlds.My father being the racist bigot he was slept with his gun in his arms every night just wanting someone to come and fuck with him.
Everybody had lost a home, but it was the white folks who got looted from the other side of the highway. It was dangerous.
People were lined up for bags of ice fighting with one another it was terrible. People became the hunted and going from a human being to an animal trying to survive for a day was really hard. We had to fend for ourselves because help did not come for almost a week. And by then, in the streets, it was anarchy and violent.
They looted Cutler ridge mall. All the stores were fair game when it came to theft and dishonesty and the cops were at a real loss to control the people who had lost every ounce of civility and responsibility.
There were no grocery stores, no electricity and no water and no money. The banks had been blown away, and with no electricity, how do you work an ATM machine??? Everything was destroyed so my parents brought cash home with them so I could go buy supplies so far North …
It took some time before any semblance of reality was rebuilt. Stores slowly came back online after a time. But still we had to travel great distances to get things we needed because let’s face it everyone else was doing that as well. Too much demand and not enough supplies.
When there is no electricity and night falls, it is very dark. And very bleak. It was totally unnerving night after night, not knowing who was out there and if you were going to get hit during the night. People were on guard for a long time until the troops came in to set up checkpoints and secure what they could.
Finally the government sent the people trailers, at that time my parents were still living in the ruined state of the house sheltered in one of the rooms that still had some semblance of a roof overhead but my parents moved into that little travel trailer to live in.
Having no water, toilets and electricity was not fun. It was a very long time until they began to restring the electrical wires and re-attach the homes back onto the electrical grid.
I was working at RCI at the time. And daily orders for food, ice and sundries were made and delivered to us to bring into the city. I did not last long at this job. But they did provide for their employees for a good period of time. A lot was going on in my life at this time, I was doing what I could and help out, even if my father did not really want my help, because my brother was the “straight capable son who would save them, not the gay son.” But if it weren’t for me, they would never have made it one day without the help I gave them. I was there on day one, even if my parents recollection may differ from my own.
Meanwhile we were cleaning up debris, my parents were shopping and collecting goods to bring home by plane. It took them a week to get it all done. Who knew how hard it was to procure gas generators and get them shipped by plane and then cart all that shit home with luggage.
A week later after the storm, my parents flew into Miami with generators, canned food and supplies bought 1500 miles away. I could not convey the destruction that they were about to see because it didn’t seem that bad at the airport. I remember my father falling to his knees upon arriving at the destroyed house. It was one of the saddest moments in my life.
Every day I would go to work at the port, and after work take orders from all my neighbors and drive to points North and shop for sundries and supplies and deliver them before work the next day. This went on for months on end.
It took months to find a contractor that was reputable, because we got ripped off a shit ton of money by a crook. But eventually the house was rebuilt. Most of our neighbors moved out of that neighborhood after the fact. My parents moved to Sarasota.
It was the worst destruction I had ever seen in my life – and I lived in Miami for 30 years. Andrew destroyed Billions of dollars worth of homes. We lived on Coral Reef Drive on the East side of US1.
The Metro Zoo was destroyed and many animals were running loose in the neighborhood after the storm. All those houses out West of the Zoo were demolished.
Driving south from the airport down the Palmetto Highway the gradient of destruction grew worse the further south you got. Homestead was at Ground Zero. It took more than 10 years for them to rebuild the city.
That event is seared into my memory like a bad nightmare. And very cathartic to write about it once again.
It has been a pleasant weekend. The PRIDE parade was today. We could hear it here upstairs, but I didn’t get out of the apartment to partake in the Gayety again this year. Montreal is so late in the Pride Game based on the yearly calendar and the factions have to have things the way they want them, that I can’t be bothered to share. I have plenty of gay friends to make up for the lack of party people.
I was out on time for the meeting, in fact I was there as the chair was unlocking the church door so I did set up for her and we all hung out outside to chat with friends before the meeting.
We have been reading from Experience, Strength and Hope this month and as it was the last regular Sunday night of the month we are closing in on the end of the text. We read “The Belle of the Bar.” From the third edition of the Big Book.
It wasn’t a pretty story, about a woman who was a low bottom drunk and in her sober clarity she relives the way she looked and acted while in the midst of many a drunken stupors. She wasn’t only a “common drunk” in her words, she was also a pill hound and she turned to heroine to round out the trifecta of addictions.
As the story is told from her memory, she eventually finds to rooms along with her siblings. But the story lacks the back story to how she did that, who reached her, who told her to Stop? Who gave her the gift of getting sober?
In my family we were groomed to look good amid the consumption of alcohol. Nobody ever talked about alcoholism, or its problems. But it was there from the get go. I was groomed to drink. And drink I did.
The one story I do have to illustrate just how bad it got for me was when I was living with my friend Gloria in a huge mansion of a house. She had one side and I lived in the other. We worked in the same office where alcohol was a daily fixture like breakfast and lunch. (NOTE: Today all those people who drank are now sober).
Gloria was getting sober or she decided to get sober, unbeknownst to me. So I was a big huge drunk. And I was dating the man who would turn my life upside down later on in the timeline…
Needless to say that I was drinking away my rent money each week. I was the drunk in this relationship (that really was just a friendship). I was the tornado that was spinning out of control in her life as she was getting sober.
I came home one night, (well several night’s later) after a binge party and I went to open the door and the locks were changed. And her son was there to tell me that I could not come in until I paid my rent, which meant I was stuck wearing the dirty clothes on my back and I had to go back to Lauderdale and scrounge clothes for a week until I earned back that money to pay her rent.
I paid my rent and was asked to move out. That was a terrible end to a relationship I cherished. But it would not come to pass for many years later that I went to a meeting one night and there she was in that meeting. And I was like “Fuck me” I had no idea. That was a huge amends that I had to make.
Most of the people I used to drink with are now today sober decades and other periods of time.
We all have to walk our paths. Some are longer than others. But eventually we find our way in. When I was working at the bar, my future sponsor was getting sober a year before I got sober, the first time. And He kept his Big Book on his cash register. I used to ask him what that Big Book was, and his reply was always the same … “I will tell you what it means when you really want to know!”
I eventually hit my bottom and he became my sponsor the first time. It was good for a few years until they moved to the West Coast and I was left alone to fend for myself, and I guess I did not do very well. Being tossed back into the world from the insulated world I was living in was terribly detrimental to me.
It was the lack of support and the fact that I was spinning my wheels in a room, but not actively seeking advice or counsel that only made my slip (Sobriety Loosing its Priority) easier.
The second time around I was ready to quit. And once again, God stepped in and I found my way back.
I’ve come so far in sobriety. And I am nothing but grateful for the people and the meetings that have carried me this far. I would be nothing without them.
A good night was had by all …
More to come, stay tuned …
Courtesy: Golden Gate Bridge Advisory
Sometimes all you want to do is jump off a bridge !!!
The day has come and gone. The weather held up today, because we were warned about rain, that did not happen. On the way out I had to drop by the voters registration office to register to vote, since the province did not have me on the voter rolls.
I thought that the process would be quick and easy, I was wrong. When I got there just after 3, there were three people ahead of me in line. An hour later I was like “uh, I need to get out of here, I’m going to be late …” And the little man who was taking care of signers came out just after 4 to register me. They had to fill out this huge affidavit with my credentials, residential and medicare info. It takes 4 signatures on that affidavit to be legal. And all 4 of those people need to oversee the proceedings before signing. Now I can vote next month.
Our riding of Westmount /St. Louis is known for being a strong Liberal riding. What other choice is there, other than voting for a separatist group? Anglo’s don’t have much of a choice when it comes to government in a heavily Francophone province. If anyone other than the Liberals win next month, I would seriously contemplate moving somewhere else. We shall see …
*** *** *** ***
The day was good. Working a little later than usual, I pounded out set up, I had my music cranked and I was finished a little after 5. And I’ve been obsessing over people and situations for the last week. What else does an alcoholic do better than obsess over something that they are totally powerless over ??? I’ve been playing a confrontation over and over in my head all week long. Needless to say that I was on edge all afternoon, expecting a confrontation tonight.
Thank God for small miracles …
The reading came from the Big Book and the Doctor’s Opinion found in the opening pages of the book.
I had a good hour to ponder what I wanted to say. My memory is foggy when it comes to things farther than a decade out of mind. And that moment when the obsession to drink was lifted the first time. I had a bunch of stuff going on that I had to focus on, and I wasn’t really focused on the book, so much.
I mean I stayed sober, because I had things to do with my time. My friends kept me busy at noon meetings, taking me to lunch and doing chores afterwards.
The last year of my drinking was crazy. What do you do when you live in a city that is surrounded by water and alcohol? Drink … I had periods of dry time. And though they were long at some points, I returned to the bottle because I was chasing the “psychic change that was supposed to magically transform me into a beach blond, gym buff, tanned god of the beach.
I was clearly well passed the point of the desire to drink. I was obsessed with the drink. Obsessed to the point of insanity. I just knew sooner or later it would do for me what I could not do for myself. Wrong …
I was soon to realize that my obsession was all wrong. I could not keep up the appearances of a responsible drunk. Experience enough black outs and not knowing how one gets home after a night of obsession drinking and you get scared because you don’t know who poured you into a taxi and got you into the house.
I stopped … One day at a time.
It was a good omen when the club I used to drink at shut down for good just after I got sober. Thank you, I don’t ever have to go back there and drink again. But I did have to walk by the building every day that I went to meetings. The room and the bar were very near each other. So each day I did not drink, the psychic change they talk about in the book about finding the power greater than myself began to work in my life.
Today I don’t obsess over drinking, and I try not to ponder what it would be like to drink. There are plenty of opportunities to drink in our neighborhood. Thankfully I never drank here. I have been sober every day that I have lived here. I can’t recall when that psychic change occurred, but it did.
It was shortly midway through my first year of sobriety, On the day of St. Jean Baptiste, I was sitting on the keys at the old port and the crowds were all over the place double fisting beer and alcohol and I was stuck in the middle of it, and I think that was one of those moments that I really did not want to drink, however accessible it was for me. I didn’t drink …
The desire and the obsession to drink left me …
There are many lessons to take from the Book.
It was a good night. We had a 1 year cake tonight, one of our young members took his year. And there are a few more coming up over the next few weeks. Many of our members and guests all got sober during the same season.
That is always exciting.
A good night was had by all.
More to come, stay tuned …
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood today. A good day to be outside and out and about. If only summer would remain this way until September …
I was out and on my way this afternoon, but having to stop by Pharmaprix to pick up a refill, that I called in 3 hours earlier, was not even touched when I went to the cash to pay, so I had to wait for someone to fill it so I could pay for it, and I still had deductible to pay, which didn’t make me very happy. But I digress…
Set up was easy peasy and I was finished by 5:15. I was hoping that we’d have a good showing tonight – and it was 28 folks in the end. We were missing a few people.
However, sober mama came to the meeting with sober baby Julian. He is just a few weeks old, and I didn’t get to spend any time with him last week when daddy brought him the the meeting, so tonight I got to spend time with this little angelic human being. He is SOOO cute. It is just such a gift to have a baby in our midst. That was a good thing …
Our early women’s reading group showed up. They take their sobriety very seriously. Sponsors and sponsees alike come every week to read and gather in community. They have something that I want and that is why we come early to do set up, to learn from what they do and how they do it.
The chair decided to read from the Big Book and Chapter 2 -
There IS A Solution!!!
Imagine, an entire chapter written to introduce us to “A SOLUTION.”
We often visit and revisit the early chapters of the Big Book because it is good practice to go back and re-read the book from cover to cover, or better yet, the first 164 pages of the book.
For many, this chapter scared many people, because without a doubt, this chapter more or less explained to us who we were and what we became when we took a drink. And then what happened when further drinking ensued. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome.
I was a professional drinker very early in my life. I drank whenever liquor or beer was present. Hell, if we couldn’t get beer we would pay someone to get it for us, back in the day. A lot of my early drinking career is explained within this chapter. I could not just have one … I just couldn’t stop …
I drank whenever and where ever, every day, every night, every happy hour and then some, till they turned on the ugly light. And when that ugly light came on, I was as ugly…
Nobody said to me that “I might have a problem, or that maybe I should cut down, or that maybe I should quit drinking all together. And I never volunteered to stop either.
But at some point in my alcoholic progression, drinking every day became unpopular and troublesome. And I resigned myself to a new way of drinking, and that would be one night a week, BINGE !!! I would save up all my cash and good looks and wishes and I would party like it was 1999 every weekend.
But then came the blackout and then the hangover Sunday morning …
And I just couldn’t do it any more.
Imagine what my life would have looked like had I quit drinking at the height of my drinking … Where I would be, who I would be and what my life would have turned out to be.
But, it is what it is… Someone mentioned that this chapter is clearly a Step two chapter, “coming to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.” And my sponsor added in discussion that our sobriety is contingent on our spiritual condition on any given day.
And I also heard tonight that If I forget my Ism’s and they become Wasm’s that I am only lying to myself. That the longer I stay sober, the deeper inwards I travel to maintain and identify my Ism’s on a daily basis I can stay sober.
I’ve heard Old Timers over the past few weeks talking about the inward journey we all find the longer we stay in the program. It isn’t about what is on the outside, but what is on the inside that matters. Because the longer I stay sober the more I want my outsides to mirror my insides … A spiritual life that only enhances my life and present condition.
I pray every day. I read from the books every day. I go to meetings. I work with others and I work to live soberly every day. And I try to limit my ism’s from popping up in my life.
A good night was had by all …
John W. Gardiner · Just Thinking Chronology · Quotes · Self-pity
I didn’t run today … sad !!!
The day began with cloudy skies, but the rain stayed away until around 5 o’clock, right about the time I finished set up tonight.
I was out and about early due to errands I had to run on the way out. Have tunes will work quietly and efficiently. I had a good hour or so before people started showing up for the business meeting.
A long time ago I heard someone say that alcoholics like to sit in their shit and play with it. Which makes them kinda dirty. Even when the “shit fairy” visits, I try to keep it all in perspective. Life is not as bad as I am making it, or seeing it from my perspective. Because it is all about perspective right?
And for the record, I am unique and there aren’t very many people who have it as bad as I have it… well, there are others in my life who share in the same lot that I have drawn for my life. And to get into the pity pot and sit in my shit and play with it is not a choice I want for me today.
The question “Why Me???” is something that I ask continually. It was good when I was first diagnosed that Todd kept me on a short leash and kept me busy day after day after day, which did not leave me a lot of time to ponder “Why Me???”
As long as I was not dwelling on myself or my predicament, I stayed away from that place that would have taken me down into the pit of insanity, never to see the light of day.
During the months of my final period of drinking, I used to ask myself
“Why don’t I fit in?”
Because I was really trying very hard to fit into the fabric of my gay community with all the gusto I could muster and that gusto was my ability to drink like the best of them, to live fast, party hard and keep up appearances.
But that was all for naught.
No matter how much I drank, I could never achieve the buff prettiness that I saw around me, even if I went to the tanning salon, and to the beach and pumped iron around the clock to try to make myself like the rest of them.
Not to mention, as I have said in the past, that I was at a crucial turning point in my life, now in my mid thirties, it was either stop this merry making and accept defeat or die trying.
I could not keep up with the crowd. Nobody noticed me. I was alone in a big pond, with lots of pretty fish. And I wasn’t one of them. Poor me …
I don’t remember ever uttering those words myself. At that time. I think I was relieved that I didn’t have to play the game any more. I knew the way back, I was just waiting for God to present an opportunity to me to get back, hence the day Troy walked into my life and he took me to my first meeting, the second time around.
I drank and drank, and drank some more until the blackouts began to scare me because I don’t remember what ever happened during those blackouts. And I think I was grateful that the members of Sober on South Beach saved me.
There was a chair with my name on it. They took me in and dusted me off and fed me fellowship and coffee on a nightly and daily basis. And for a while, I didn’t have to think or feel … They gave me space to clear up my head and spirit.
I knew, from long before, that to venture into my head unaccompanied was something that I was warned never to do. And it was good that I made that geographic in early sobriety to Montreal. I left all that I knew behind in opt for greener pastures.
I had my issues in early sobriety. It was not a walk in the park by any means. Once I got past feeling sorry for myself and worrying what my long sober friends would think of me when I came back, That lasted a good few months, I was ashamed of myself and it came as a surprise that my friends were just glad that I was still alive and not dead … because, I sure as shit had come close …
Every year around this time I begin to circle around the self pity drain. The BIG anniversary is coming up very soon, and I ask that eternal question that God seems to keep the answer to at a fair distance beyond my vision …
WHY ME !!!!
Why is a really good question. Why am I still alive? Why didn’t I die with my friends? What am I supposed to be doing now? Why am I still here ???
I was told long ago not to wait until I was dead to ask my questions, but ask them now while I was still breathing and open to getting the answers. Still, to this day, the answers to these questions evade me.
We read the promises every week. We hear them at most meetings. And if you get sober and you stay sober, eventually those promises begin to come through, as you work your steps and clear away the wreckage of your past and you serve others and you stay OUT of your HEAD.
Promise #6 – That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
Funny that … It is the sixth month of the year. And we have read and worked over step 6 and tradition 6, and here we have the 6th promise.
I can tell you that every time I stand in front of my medicine cabinet, I have two choices. Choice ONE – is to meditate on all those people I love and remember, or choice TWO – I can get all maudlin and pitiful. Every day I take my pills, I have another day to remember my friends and fellows who went before me.
And usually when I look in the mirror in my bathroom, I see people in my minds eye. They come up almost automatically. It is like my spirit automatically goes into overdrive when I stand in front of my mirror.
I don’t sit in my shit, nor do I sit and play with it either. And even when the shit fairy visits, Someone has it worse than I do. A little gratitude goes a long way.
I only need three things.
- A roof over my head
- A warm bed to sleep in
- Food in the fridge
Everything else is icing on the cake. The ability to love someone and be loved in return, having friends I can count on, and money in the bank, that’s all icing on the cake. I’ve seen The Promises come true in my 10 plus years of sobriety.
As long as there is air in my lungs I will sing God’s praises because I am still here another day, another week, another month and another year. I don’t need to know the WHY of it all. I know that answer pushes me each day to seek an answer, even if it doesn’t come, I get another day to push forwards.
I am still here … And that is good enough for me …
In this photo Left to Right: My cousin Carol, My cousin Sandy, My cousin Michael in the front row on the polka dotted chair is ME and next to me is my cousin little Pete. The woman on the far left I don’t know and the man on the right with the beer bottle on the tray table is my father’s father Al.
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This photo was taken a LONG TIME AGO. Look how little I am there. This is in the back yard of our then home on Kennedy Drive in New Britain Connecticut. This is my first home memory it is where I was born as well my brother. We lived in this house until I completed first grade and we moved to Florida.
The house was a 3 bedroom raised ranch house with a nice front lawn and spacious back yard with the requisite swing set in the back and a sand pit under the second floor balcony off the back of the house. We had a basement that was well used and there was a huge staircase that led from the front door to the main level of the house.
Since tomorrow is Father’s Day, I thought I would get on the WordPress bandwagon and write something about my father.
From my earliest memories my father worked for Fafnir Bearings in downtown New Britain, and my father’s parents worked at the original Stanley Works tool makers just up the block from where my father worked. I remember visiting his work place on several occasions.
There were a few Holidays and snowy Christmases. I remember the holiday parties between all my extended family’s homes. My mother’s parents lived not far from our home and my father’s parents were not very far either. All of which could be triangulated in one neighborhood. I could walk from one location to another. And did quite often because we walked to school in those days, up the hill, in the snow, blessedly with our shoes. (if you get that reference, you get a gold star!)
Alcoholism is something that permeated our lives. As you can see above, my grandfather always had alcohol of some sort within arms reach of where ever he stood or sat down inside or outside the house. My father was not that alcoholic but he was an alcoholic. And I can say that because of the kind of man he was to his family.
Both my father and grandfather(s) were functional alcoholics, which meant that they could handle a job, wives and children. In hindsight, reading the Big Book, they really fit the bill in many stories.
In between the alcohol and the living of life there were bright spots. My father was a good man. He provided well above everything that we ever needed, at any given time in our young lives. He worked with his hands. He was a builder of things. Later on in life he lived vicariously through us when we entered scouts, much later on in the story.
I remember the holidays that he got up on the roof and hung Christmas lights, that theme would repeat itself over and over for the rest of our family life. Where ever we lived, there were always Christmas lights.
When we moved from New Britain to Homestead Florida it was a step down. We moved from a really big house to a little duplex in a shoddy little neighborhood on the edge of the Krome Avenue fields of South Florida. (we would learn that these fields were the bread basket of South Florida).
My father had movers move our stuff. But in between point A and point B, many of our things were stolen from the truck. It was a great loss to my father, in his bid for a successful relocation, we got hit on the way down.
We lived in that duplex for a year before my father decided to grow the family fortune and we moved into the city proper and we moved into another 3 bedroom house that we lived in from my second grade until 6th grade.
During those years there were plenty of family visits. Snowbirds from the North coming to bask in the Florida sun during the winters. Even family from Canada would come down to visit. Those were very happy times. My mother’s side of the family were from Quebec, where I now live.
There was the annual summer trip from Florida to Connecticut during the summers. Sometimes my brother and I would fly and other times, my father would pack the entire family into the all famous “family station wagon” and we would make the pilgrimage to Connecticut by car. And those were adventures.
We visited all points North on the way. The all popular South of the Border on the border of South and North Carolina. We drove the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and tunnel system. That freaked me out. To this day I have an aversion to bridges. But I am not averse to crossing the Jacque Cartier Bridge here for the fireworks festival during the summer.
We spent time in Washington D.C. We toured the Smithsonian and my father made his pilgrimage to the Viet Nam memorial in Washington D.C. That was a great road trip. We toured the Congress and House of Representatives. It was all very exciting.
And to this day, when I hear music from the 1970′s and 1980′s I can close my eyes and see in my minds eye, they exact place we were at when that particular song was playing.
We lived in that house on 33rd Street and 63rd avenue until I hit the sixth grade. Well, half way into it really. My father decided that it was time to move house and at that point we kids were put on notice to help my parents pick the next house we would live in. I remember that house hunt.
We looked at several houses all in the same locale much father South than where we had lived. We looked at what we called the Power’s House. It was a 3 bedroom house with a large garage, a yard FULL of fruit trees. We grew bananas, mango, avocados, oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons.
The house had a pool. That was the big ticket item in my father’s upwardly mobile move up the social ladder. We fell in love with that house. And so that became our next address from my sixth grade through to my adult life.
Our family had arrived…
A lifetime of working and raising a family all paid off in this stately house that would house memories and tragedies. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew blew through south Florida and demolished our home. My parents were up North at the time of the storm and when they finally got to come home, there wasn’t much home to come home to.
I did my best to serve my family during those very dark times. My parents lived in a travel trailer while they rebuilt the house from top the bottom.
My father provided for us and we wanted for nothing. But the trade off was that we had to deal with a growing problem with alcoholism. And it didn’t only affect my father, but my mother as well and all of the family business and social friends. Alcohol was a social lubricant.
A favorite story I like to tell is of the one night that my mother’s brother and wife were down from Canada and the four of them were drinking at the dining room table and they were getting quite drunk. And seeing my mother crawl across the floor into the kitchen where she tried to fit a GLAD sandwich baggie into the tall garbage can. Try as she might, she couldn’t get that bag to fit the garbage can.
Then they got in the car with us kids and we went to one of those BIG BOX stores that you went in and took a clipboard and wrote down the call numbers of what you wanted and they got the stuff from the back and delivered it to you as you cashed out… My aunt is walking around the store grabbing kitchen utensils and then she walked out of the store with these spoons and forks, and nobody was the wiser, and nobody stopped her on the way out …
My father provided all of our needs like I said. My brother’s sports stuff, I was a protege organist. My father spent a great deal of money to buy me successive sized organs as I graduated up the ranks of my musical education. I had music lessons. I had recitals. I was really good. And had I kept on with that talent, who knows where I might have been today.
My father’s pride and joy was Christmas holidays when I would entertain family parties with holiday music. It was truly joyful. It made my father’s heart sing. His favorite tune was “The Entertainer…” You know the tune don’t you???
I played that song hundreds upon hundreds of times. It eventually wore on me. And It was good and bad. Because as much as my father loved us, he also hated me with a severe passion. One night my father got drunk and threw the organ seat at my mother. My brother jacked him up against that wall that night and threatened him with death if he ever hit my mother again.
So he came after me …
With all the good things I can tell you about my father. There is a trade off to all the bad things my father dished out on us as kids. I’ve shared this before that from an early age, my father’s words to me were always the same…
” YOU WERE A MISTAKE AND SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN BORN!!!”
He beat those words into me for the whole of my life. When his alcoholism reached a fever pitch I swore that I would never play that organ again and that he could take it back to the music sellers and get his money back. I never played another note in my life.
My parents were devout Catholic. And after my brother was born and my mother got a tubiligation they were excommunicated from the church officially. And it wasn’t until I made my Holy Confirmation in tenth grade that they met with a priest and were absolved of their mortal sin.
My father did not take well to my coming out. He use of colorful language with others as well as with family and friends, he liked the words homosexual and the N word. He was a equal opportunity offender. So I never came out to my parents. I moved away when I thought the time was right. But we did come to blows over homosexuality later on in my life.
I don’t know where my father learned to hate like he did. It surely did not come from the church. And my father rarely if ever touched a bible. But he knew what he knew. And he had a terrible secret in his closet that never saw the light of day and when he figured out that I was gay, that was the end of things for us. Even worse when I got sick and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. He always believed that I got what was coming to me. And that I could die like all my friends.
My father was a good man.
My father was a bad man.
My father was a man.
The last time I saw my father and mother was on New Years Day 2001.
I had just worked an all night shift at a bar. And got home around 9 a.m. And my phone rang. My parents had been in Miami all weekend and were on their way home to Sarasota, where they live today. So they dropped by and I offered to take us all out for brunch, but my father declined the offer.
I had twenty minutes to visit with my mother while he waited in the car with the engine running. I don’t remember that conversation. But we walked around the block where I lived then and where I would eventually get sober.
My father gathered his wife and drove off …
That was the last time I saw either one of my parents …
A Feature Length Documentary by David Weissman
“Of all the cinematic explorations of the AIDS crisis, not one is more heartbreaking and inspiring than WE WERE HERE… The humility, wisdom and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace… ONE OF THE TOP TEN FILMS OF THE YEAR.” Stephen Holden, New York Times
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Earlier tonight as I was writing “We are not meant to be alone” hubby had put on this documentary that was airing here in Canada tonight. And so I sat through this film reliving the past 20 years of my life in stark detail.
Listening to the story tellers just breaks my heart, because I was there through the worst time of our lives. You just cannot imagine what it was like. Thinking about it is one thing, listening to someone narrate that time period is heart wrenching.
You know, the further I get from the past, the less I tend to think about it today. But every once in a while, and this rings especially true during Pride Months these documentaries play as reminders to those we lost.
I want so badly to tell you that YES, we are not meant to be alone and that we are all loveable no matter what devastation or situation we find ourselves in. And I think somewhere deep down, hubby’s message in watching this film was to say, yes I remember for you and you are not alone here in this life.
Things in my neck of the woods were as frightful as they were in San Francisco and in many big cities in the very beginning. When AIDS came to Ft. Lauderdale, we were all taken aback by the horror of just what AIDS was doing to our community.
Thank God – T H A N K G O D that what I saw did not happen to me. Because it was ugly. I have documented all these things in PAGES, but for the moment I am drawn to address this topic here and now because it weighs heavily on my heart and soul.
When I sero-converted I was so sick. I thought for sure that I was going to die at any moment. But my friends and keepers in the AIDS care circle had other plans for me.
The film speaks of finding a cure …
that there should be more than AZT…
Back in those days we were all taking AZT because there was nothing else to take. We even went the lengths to collect old drugs from people who had died, and those drugs were taken to drug farms and re-purposed for use for those who were still alive and fighting to stay alive.
God forbid you had to go to a hospital. They would break out the hazmat suits and moon goggles and scrubs. It was heartless the way that the medical community treated us, for a long time, until they got trained to be able to deal with us without all the fear that was running rampant through the cities.
There were no specialists, no real doctors at that point, it was hit and miss because there really was no social medical safety net to take care of all the sick. But there were enough people to begin with that took on the task of treating what they could with whatever they had on hand.
I know for myself. I took tons of pills to try and find something that worked. And in the beginning that was AZT. It made me sick, and we had little pocket timers that would go off every four hours to remind us to take our pills.
Eventually in Miami there was dedicated doctors who were in the loop of medical research that I got involved with and what these doctors did for me is nothing short of a miracle.
With Genotype and Phenotype testing, they figured out the strain and type of virus we were carrying, then from that they proceeded to attaining tables of drugs that we could take that had promising results in the lab. And as drug companies pushed out pills we took them.
We did not wait for test circles to form on others, we tested all those meds ourselves. So that every year we survived, we had data to share with the rest of the world as AIDS was a worldwide epidemic.
But medication was expensive especially if you could not afford your pills. There were no insurance plans designed for this – people were selling their life insurance policies and going on government disability to be able to afford treatment. I know it took me three attempts to finally get disability coverage in the U.S. I had to almost kill myself to get my social services person to sign off on my form.
Let me tell you what the government made us go through to get disability insurance. We had to be on deaths door step, sick unto death before they would finally clear you. I got so sick that on the day I finally got signed I walked into the office, not having bathed or shaven in a weeks time, hacking and coughing all over the place for someone to fear me enough to sign on the dotted line so that I could get assistance. It was heartless and cruel the things the government and the state did to those who were sick.
They made us little white boys go to places that white people don’t go to in broad daylight. Trekking from one side of the city to another taking bus after bus and train after train just to get social assistance. Needless to say that once a cast iron bitch always a cast iron bitch.
People were so afraid of the sick. God forbid you sat next to us on a bus, or a train. God forbid you had to deal with us directly.
- I watched families throw their sons out into the streets.
- I watched lovers toss their loved ones out into the streets as well.
- I witnessed land lords toss sick people from their homes.
- I witnessed employers fire and cut people off from insurance and livelihoods.
- I witnessed so called Christians get on their hellfire and brimstone horses and watched them burn us all down to the ground with hatred and fear mongering.
- My Own family turned against me when I got sick. They would rather condemn me rather than help me so fuck them …
It was Sick. Absolutely and Totally Sick !!!
And still today that hatred simmers in certain circles. And every year we go through these periods of time when we are raw with emotions that some fuck comes along and throws salt in the wound just because they feel righteous !!!
The One Good thing that did happen was it galvanized those who were left into care circles and care givers. AIDS separated the men from the boys and the girls from the women. You learned just how devoted your friends were to you and just how much they meant to you while they were still here.
And FUCK all you haters out there. Heartless Bastards…
So many of my friends died. All I have is a photo album of the last time I saw the Names Project Quilt show in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami I think it was. This blog is a testament and my memory for those years of my life when I thought that I too was going to die.
God in his infinite wisdom had other plans for me. There was a life to live. There were things I still needed to do, and people to meet and places to see. Today I have the best doctor in the world. He treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant back in the old days. I truly lucked out when I moved here to find him and get into his clinic.
It is sad that there is still no cure. But death is something of a second thought now. We are living longer. I had a doctor who told me that when I die that it won’t be AIDS that kills me. And that was a long time ago.
I’ve always said that if science ever gets to the point that time travel is possible, the time I would go back to is the period of time that I was first diagnosed, because it was the Best of Times and it was The Worst of Times. I knew then that I was loved and so cared for that I wanted for nothing. And I think that that is what saved me.
There wasn’t time to sit and wait to die. I was too busy being taught how to survive and in that time I did not sit in my shit and play with it. Time was of the essence and men nor horses were going to keep me from winning this fight.
Every day that I look in the mirror I thank God for Todd and Roy and all the others who took the time to teach me and to love me and to make sure that nothing took me down be that sickness or man.
Never Forget and Remember still that on your daily goings on, you never know who you are sitting next to on the bus or on the train, or walking down the sidewalk, you never know what battle someone else is engaged in.
It Gets Better. We are still alive. And our stories should never be forgotten.
We Were Here … I was there, and I am still here.