There is something to be said about “tolerance for those with different struggles.”
Somewhere I heard that it is easier to ACT yourself into a new way of thinking than to THINK yourself into a new way of acting …
This line appears in the above titled story when our man gets to his first series of meetings, after a crash and burn drinking experience. He sits with his sponsor, not so sure about God or Higher Power, and the suggestion of “Act as If” comes.
This story, appears in the fourth edition of the Big Book. Our man, in this story, is Gay. He cites that he is three years sober, he had surgery on his back, his father died, a relationship ended, and the AIDS epidemic started to hit home among his friends and acquaintances. Over the course of the next few years, almost half of his gay friends had died.
This is a Fourth Edition story. Because of the time period cited above. It could be placed anywhere from the 1980’s through the 1990’s, for the soul reason he cites the AIDS epidemic, specifically.
This story and mine are very different. But the writer says, in the beginning that he comes from a conservative religious family, where alcohol was present. And he had not “Come Out” until he was in college when he began to consider his sexual orientation.
A familiar story in the gay world, in the beginning, when considering whether to come out or stay in the closet, the many lives we live and the faces we put forward, trying to fit all the boxes, with what society says we should be. A business man,a professional, an alcoholic, a friend, and maybe a lover.
So for some we play the “Straight game” and we play the part, until either we hit that proverbial wall of self discovery, and stop the denial and make the jump, or we remain in the closet hating ourselves and everything about us, because we are living a lie, that, in the end, will eventually, end badly. I had to play that game, for fear of loosing my life, until I could not do it any more.
Hence the death march into Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and Suicide for many.
Our writer, grew up, and moved away and began attending college, where he began to explore his sexuality. By then he was already drinking.
I grew up in a home where alcoholism was the norm. I knew I was different well before I learned what it meant for me. But my father, with homicidal tendencies, was never my friend. However he had his moments. I remember the night he took me to the 94th Aero Squadron – a restaurant on the airport runway system at Miami International, for my Birds and the Bees discussion. I could not tell him the truth.
My story may not be unique, but I never tire of thinking about it, and how my life would have been very different, had I STAYED IN the first time I got sober. But that was not my experience.
Getting sober in the age of AIDS was difficult. Because I could not drink, I had quit. Todd had given me that ultimatum and made it stick. So I was getting sober, and learning how to survive, while all my friends around me were going down in flames. Every night, was as if they were living the last night of their lives, with the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that went around under my nose.
They are all DEAD.
I think that when it came down to it, with the bar, and Todd’s influence, I had everything I needed. I could have done without the room I was getting sober in, because those men were not kind at all, and made the first year hell for the newcomers.
Having to compete for your year chip is much harder than working for it freely. Sobriety is NOT a RACE. There are no horses to bet on, just a human being trying to get better, under seriously awful circumstances. And this truth did not make it any easier, although it should have.
Then you move to a new city and a new room. And you get asked to speak. And after that event, a man walks up to you and says: “We don’t condone people like you here, leave this meeting and don’t come back!” W.T.F.
Obviously this story has not been printed in the late 1990’s, and from what I remember, not many of those folks, had even the book in the room.
During this time, the preceding years and for many years after, straight people, straight businesses, churches, funeral parlors, you name it … banished sick gay men to the gutter and left them there to die alone. Awful Hateful Abhorrent Prejudice.
That event in my early sobriety just killed any ambition I had towards sobriety.
To this day, there are hateful people, in our rooms.
With all that is going on in the world, we need all the help we can get. Rooms should welcome and be supportive. But that is not always the case.
Even today, being any shade of L.G.B.T.Q is perilous.
There is no room, in this world, for hatred of a human being because of their chosen way of life. I talk of just how fluid life has become, and how binary it has been for eons of time.
There are a handful of people I know in the rooms I go to who fall under L.G.B.T.Q.
Some are allowed, and nothing is said, then there are those, who, for one reason or another, come and go, and many of them are back out there drinking, because of intolerance and stupidity.
Here is the kicker in this story …
In all the service positions our man held (GSR) and others, He never felt obligated to conceal or deny his sexuality. He says… I always felt that the representatives of the groups in my area were concerned only with HOW we carried the message of recovery, NOT with what I might do in my personal life.
Only if that were reality for ALL meetings in general.
It is not…
“A life without books, is not a life at all …”
A couple of days ago, I finished reading “The Kitchen House.” I did not read the sequence in order. But I started with “Glory Over Everything” which is part two.
This first novel, “The Kitchen House” tells the story of the families, both black and white, slave and free, that eventually begat, Jamie Pyke, nee James Burton. This books tells the history of the slave quarters which were part of the larger plantation site. Reading out of order, defeated the purpose of reading.
The notions of person hood, whether, black or white, slave or free, is fraught with complications. When you mix white human beings, into a black familial groups is problematic.
The divide between white privilege and black slavery is blurred with the mixing of the races, back in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. The slave population is regarded with little respect from the white men, but they are a proud people who love each other and have definite worth in the grand scheme of things. But the relations between the white women and the slave families is a bit less harsh and unfeeling.
We read the evolution of that family unit, a white woman, introduced to life among slaves at this Virginia plantation, and what happens to them, as the story unfolds. A slave, in the vernacular, is there to serve a household. And the kitchen house, is where the slaves live while serving the Big House.
The white men, use and abuse their servant slaves, with impunity. The black women suffer the indignity of rape, however, we never see the word “rape” used in the book, but that is exactly what is happening. The women serve, as sexual objects, all the while serving the same white folk, in the Big House.
Whether their babies are viable and lives is not a concern of their white overlords.
At first we find a white woman (Lavinia) is introduced to a black family, later in the book, it is the white men who are having affairs with black women, all along being married to upper class white women.
Jamie Pyke, is a (white) child who results from the union of a white man and a black slave. In the second book, Glory Over Everything, Jamie has run away from home, because he carries a secret, a secret of patricide. The other secret is that he is of mixed race, a mulatto mother and a white father. A secret that will either kill him, or make him a better man.
That white father (Marshall), marries the white woman (Lavinia), and elevates her out of slavery, and he rapes Belle, a black slave. Once the baby comes, he denigrates the mother and all but abuses his son, who, at the end of the story takes matters into his own hands.
There are taboos in this society. White men involved with black women, and the progeny produced. Children born of mixed race parents is problematic for their survival in society. Mixed race children bear the stigma of that parentage and could cost them their livelihoods and their lives.
The whole intermingling of the races, in both books is a very rough story line, as the author admits at the end of the book. She did not intend to tell that dark side of the story, but as it fleshed out, it became apparent that she would have to tell the more unsavory stories to complete the write process.
At one point, the white woman (Lavinia), living inside the black experience, meets a white man (Marshall), who marries her and elevates her out of slavery, into being fully white and privileged, the dynamic of personal relations is turned on its head, when the tables are turned and the black – white woman, has to learn that she is now better by marriage than the woman she was a short while ago. And the slaves she lived with and loved, are no longer family, but merely servants, who have a lower status in the grand scheme of things, and this is an honest torment.
Marshall is not a good boy, and grows into an even worse man, racially, and personally. His mistreatment of human beings and his rampant alcoholism do take a toll on him in the end.
White men, in this story, have no scruples when it comes to sexual exploitation of children and women, and their are no repercussions for their choices.
Until that fateful night when Jamie Pyke, takes matters into his own hands.
Which leads directly into the second book, “Glory Over Everything.”
Some say that, that if you start hearing voices, then you should worry …
The theme of imagination continued this evening and morphed into a discussion about Living on Borrowed Time. A concept that I am intimately connected to.
Over the past week, I’ve listened to a number of folks, talk about voices, whether that voice is of a departed child, a family member, or more importantly the voice of God Himself.
Which transitions well into the discussion of God’s will, and what that sounds like to the human being who is seeking God’s will.
I’ve said in the past, that departed family, have come back to me, one way or another. I’ve seen them, I’ve heard them, and I’ve channeled them as well.
I heard a man, a few night’s ago, talk about his endeavor to find his son, on the other side, after his murder, and how he DID connect to his son, and had intensive conversations with him, from the other side, and they wrote a book about it, together.
HGTV has some fantastic programming. One of my favorites is “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I watched a You Tube Video of Joanna talking about her life, and her love of God, and how God spoke to her, and how her life changed because of her faith in God.
I find that incredibly moving.
Sometimes I trust the voice in my head, but most times I do not. I worry that I am just listening to myself talk to myself. Knowing what that voice is, and where it is coming from is important.
I often dream of my grandmothers. I go to their homes in my dreams. And at night, before I go to bed, each and every night, I think of them. Because what I carry in my heart, who I want to be, who I am, the life I live, is based on the love they both gave me.
And I often hear them say, that I have done well so far. At least that’s what I think and believe.
Is that ODD or is that GOD ?
I wonder if they see me and know I try and communicate with them, often.
Mediums and Psychics, would say that the dead do see us, they are always around, they are with us all the time, just beyond the veil.
I guess it is a matter of perspective.
I know that Grammy and Memere are with me. They are part of my heart and soul. I know they are there, but often, I don’t hear them, besides what I imagine they would say to me, if they were talking to me, one way or another.
It’s the same with the voice of God.
I think the voice of God comes, when we do our very best, every day, to do the right thing, whatever that thing is. Where do we learn what the right thing is? And where do we seek the voice of God?
In the past, I have said, that if I don’t hear the voice of God myself, then I need to go out and sit with my friends, because if God is going to speak to me, that voice is going to be familiar, from a familiar source, close to me.
I’ve had my personal run ins with God in the past. And the fact that I live on Borrowed Time, and I am still alive, weigh heavily on me at times.
My connection to God is a long standing relationship.
The fact that I am still alive, tells me that something greater than myself is driving the bus. I do my share of the work. Getting out of bed in the morning, doing my best, taking my pills, and leaving the worrying to other people.
What is God’s Will ? I don’t know. All I do know is that for me, if I hear God correctly, that will is to do my best every day, for those I care about, to the best of my ability.
I listened to Joanna talk about God, talking to her, and telling her to trust Him. And she knew, intimately, what that meant to her. And she had turned her will and her life over to God, and He provided for her and Chip.
I trust God. Blindly. I don’t often think about it. I just Do It.
Tonight, a friend brought up the concept of Living on Borrowed Time. This concept was introduced to me decades ago when I got sick, by Paul Monette, who wrote a book, Borrowed Time, about his lover Roger, in the age of AIDS, and how he lived, got sick, and eventually died.
I don’t know why God chose to spare me, but He did.
I don’t know why I skated above the water as all of my friends died, and I did not.But I did.
And to this day, I don’t know why I am still breathing, and what, ultimately, I am supposed to do, beyond what I am doing already ???
I have two doctors. Brothers. I trust them implicitly.
For a very long time, I worried. I waited. And I was consumed by numbers. And for a very long time, I saw my doctors quite often. Over the past thirteen years, I have tested one drug after another for the clinic. All of them, except one, passed muster for the general population.
Every doctor visit, I would get a print out of the numbers, by the book. I would then come home and transcribe them here. And I did that for years.
Then, all of a sudden, that practice stopped.
I’ve been on a good run, for a number of years, on the medication I am on. Borrowed Time still exists. But I don’t often think about that, unless someone talks about it or asks.
Quarterly doctor visits, dropped to twice yearly. I trust them with my life. And I’ve learned that if they aren’t worrying, then I don’t worry.
There are many things going on, all at the same time. A confluence of God, Prayer, Hope, Trust, Sobriety and Good Living and Love.
I also know, because of what I’ve learned so far, that I have learned how to make all this work, all at the same time, without even thinking about it, on a daily basis.
Every time I re-read a piece of literature, or have consecutive conversations, those first ideas and practices are there, I see how they have impacted my life, and how I live my life. I’ve taken all these lessons and incorporated them into daily practice.
And today I have a life, beyond my wildest imagination.
What is God’s will ? I don’t know.
What am I still doing here ? I don’t know.
But I trust the Godly wisdom in doing my best, helping others, Loving Hard, and Being Present to those I care about, on a daily basis.
I often wish that my grandmothers would come and talk to me, so that I would know it was them. But all I have is what my soul tells me. Those people who are part of my soul, speak from that place, to me.
I can’t explain it, suffice to say, I know where it is.
People you love are always with you. Inside of you.
A little piece of us, originated Out There, somewhere, and that little piece is inside of us, so we are intimately connected to All That Is. Where the souls of the dearly departed exist, and where we find God Himself.
Oh My God, it is Sticky, Wet and Humid tonight. Thank God we have an air conditioner. It was the best purchase we had made a few years ago. Temps have been topping out over the (30c) mark. Today we hit a record (32c) with a humidex of (36c). It was STICKY !
Rain clouds moved in mid day, and thundershowers followed. I carried an umbrella, because it was raining when I left the house, and stopped as we approached the metro. On the other end, we were early, and thunder was rolling across the sky. We had a twenty minute pour down rain event, and that was it.
The walk home was Damp, Sticky and Miserable.
I haven’t written anything since Sunday, not that I haven’t anything to write about. I just haven’t sat down and fleshed out my ideas, but there are a few.
My friend Shawn came to the meeting tonight, he was present for the shit show last Sunday night, and he brought with him the apologies of the group and reiterated that I had done nothing wrong, and that yes, that guy from out of town was an asshole.
Tonight, we sat a crowd. But when we split the group because of numbers, the balance of folks went in the back room to talk, leaving a handful of people up front. I am hearing that the addicts in the meeting are finding safety and the ability to be open an honest with what they say, in the back, instead of having to be dubious about what their addiction is. The alcoholic/addict divide is still alive and well it seems.
We talked about Imagination …
“After all, no man can build a house until he first visions a plan for it.”
I spoke a few words when we went around the room, but later realized that I had totally missed my mark with what I did say, versus what I forgot to say. So here we go:
Story time …
My Grammy’s back yard was full of gardens. The flower variety and the vegetable variety. And there was an empty lot next door, where cuttings, berry bushes, and flowers flourished for many years before it was developed later on.
When I was young, imagination and freedom was mine to have, as long as it did not intersect with my father. When it did, my imagination, was thwarted.
I was gifted in playing music. I played for many years, well into High School. I had an $80,000 dollar organ in our living room, that I played for years. I performed at recitals, and at school, and at District competitions during those years. One day my father threw my organ seat at my mother in a fit of drunken rage, I turned to him and said:
I will never play that organ again, get rid of it.
That night, my musical career was over. I never touched another keyboard to this day. I pissed that gift away because of a drunk.
My bedroom was the only room I had to myself. I had a stereo and records to play. I used to draw and sketch for a long time. I had a passion for “The Love Boat” and anything having to do with cruise ships. I had photos plastered all over the walls of my room. And I would sit and draw them intricately in a sketch pad, partial scale.
My father was well and good with disrupting anything I was doing, and at one point was so erratic that he took the door off the hinges, so I could not lock him out when he went into drunken rages and came after me. I had, at one point, put a deadbolt on my door, and that only infuriated him more, that I would put a lock on a door “IN HIS HOUSE!”
When I moved away from home, I had big dreams, high expectations, and an ass of death. In my younger days, I commanded the attention of many. But fueled by drugs and alcohol. That did not go so well at all for me. Young gay men living in Orlando were a dime a dozen.
The night I walked into the Parliament House, and its Footlight Theatre, I was transfixed and totally enamored with the resident drag queens. I spent inordinate amounts of time in that theatre over the ensuing years. I met men, who took me in and loved me, and taught me many things about “Imagination.”
The art of female impersonation was BIG BUSINESS.
Everyone in that crowd was drawn into the lives of these men, performing and competing for crowns and titles over the years. Drag was something that followed me all the way into my sobriety the first time, because I had a job at a local club, where one particular drag queen was resident hostess, the Late Dana Manchester.
I have to say that I thought English drag queen were fierce, but they could not hold a candle to the Latin Drag Queen. Especially the young Latin drag queens. They would back stab each other, steal dresses, and even destroy them, to foil a competition.
Back to Orlando.
I fell in love with those men over the years. Dana, Rusty, Carmella, and many others. To this day, a handful of the oldsters, are still alive, and celebrated the forty year anniversary of the Parliament House, a few years ago. I found them all on You Tube. It was like reliving my youth all over again, at almost fifty.
Alcohol and drugs, in the end, killed any imagination I had, once again. And It would not return until I started working for Todd. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. I never lived, until I worshiped men in Leather, dressed to kill. There are plenty of stories over —> in the pages section of the blog, you can go read, if you are so inclined.
Coming into the rooms the second time, the only imagination I had prior to that were the hazy dreams and expectations I had of the elixir of Alcohol, and what I imagined it was going to do for me in the end. Sadly, that warped imagination was sick.
When I moved here, I was sober a few months. And I started with very little to work with. But as I stayed sober and went to meetings,and listened to what was said, what was written, and what was shared, I began to hope for those PROMISES.
At a year sober, my therapist asked me what I wanted to do with my life, now that I had hit my year. I had to think a bit. Many years prior, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary, only to end up being asked to leave. I loved it there. And I thought that if I could not get into the priesthood “through” the church, I would find my way there, from “Outside” the church.
I settled on going back to school, at age 35. And that is exactly what I did. I rode that train for ten years. Got a B.A. in Religion, and a Certificate in Theology, and then headed for the M.A. in Theology, only to break the 2 “C” rule and left education behind.
I never imagined the life I have today. I just did not have many high hopes because of my medical condition, never knowing how long I was going to live.
Funny, I am still alive.
And so much has happened in almost fifteen years of sobriety.
I’ve read inordinate numbers of books, taken a decades worth of university classes. Not to mention the hundreds of books I read when I got sick back in the nineties. Books are a world in themselves, and I devote hours each night to book reading, every night. Life without books is not a life at all.
If you had told me fifteen years ago, what this life would have looked like then, I would have laughed at you. I believe that it has been by the Grace of God, that I have the life I have, with the man I married and love.
I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I live a charmed life, doing what I do best. I help my friends, in any way I can, every day of my life. I have a home, and love. I have food in my fridge, and money in the bank, and I am ALIVE.
Is it ODD or is it GOD???
Todd saved my life. And God maintains my life.
I live simply and humbly. At least I try to.
There are a few things still on that bucket list of mine. And I am sure, in time, I will eventually knock them off of it.
All is takes is a little Imagination and a lot of Hope.
It has been a very busy weekend. Friday night was a great night, and I was asked to speak tonight, at a meeting I had never been to, in a neighborhood, that as well, I had never been to. So that was an adventure.
Saturday morning, myself and two women friends of mine converged on Mama’s apartment to pack everything up and move it out. In a matter of hours, we had the curtains down, the items that were going to charity packed, and we did that, and got rid of bags and bags of trash. One of my women brought along another woman from her daycare here in town, with her son.
Let me tell you, she scored the “mother lode” of housewares. A couple tables, an entire kitchen, complete with microwave, toaster oven, cleaning supplies, and other assorted bits and bobs from around the apartment. We packed up her things and my friends brother came with a truck and we moved it all to their new home.
I had a few hours to nap in the afternoon, and then turned around and went back out for our Saturday meeting, and we talked about Powerlessness and Expectations.
We sat a small group, and the topic was relevant, which is always a good sign, that others in the room, had been pondering what I tossed on the table before they got there.
We spoke about meditation. Those who do it, those who can’t figure it out, so forth and so on. A couple of weeks ago, I heard a neuroscientist on late night radio talk about his work in the field of meditation, using MRI machines to see how people’s brains lit up while they meditated. Very Interesting stuff …
He spoke about meditations that were long, versus, short, and short burst meditation.
There are those who can sit for an extended period of time, and there are those who can’t. He also spoke about “Pin Point” meditation.
Pin Point meditation … Is a thought, or a place or a person, who brings you love and peace. I use this form of meditation. I sit quietly, and I go places in my head. I go to two specific places, when I need calmness and peace. Those locations, are the kitchens of my grandmothers, on both sides.
I know what the houses looked like, how they were furnished, and what each room looks like from memory. I was young, but those memories are stuck in my head for good reason, because they were safe spaces for me as a child, when life became a Storm.
I think, I go, and I sit there and just sink into the feeling of goodness they bring me.
**** **** ****
Was It Something I Said ???
I haven’t spoken at a meeting in five years. The last time I spoke was on my tenth anniversary at Friday West End, when I took my ten year chip.
I guess you could say that, I haven’t been on the “speaker circuit” and nobody ever notices me in any meeting I go to, I guess, and really it isn’t about me in the end.
Friday night, a friend I know from the rooms, when he first got sober, asked me to speak at his home group in another section of town I had never been to. So I left uber early, and made it with fifteen minutes to spare.
There were probably a dozen folks. And a couple from Ontario, husband and wife. He was in, she was not. Visitors from out of town.
I spoke, I did not plan my share, nor did I edit the language I was going to use during my share. Which I guess, now that its over, maybe I should have.
Needless to say, speaking for me is either hit or miss. But every time I do stand in front of a room, there is always ONE ASSHOLE in the room.
Let’s say that my share ranked in the PG – 13 range.
I told my story, with the language I use. But this guy from out of town, started heckling me from his chair, all the way through. Nobody else seemed to have a problem with me.
After the meeting, things really got out of hand. I’ve never been critiqued like this before, I’ve met many “straight men” who seem to take issue with either myself or with something I say. But this guy ripped into me verbally, in front of all the group standing around watching. They defended my choice of words because you needed context and setting to some of my story, so colorful language does appear.
The members told him that he was out of line. And were embarrassed for me. I apologized, but the guy kept coming at me. So they escorted him out of the hall with his wife.
On the way home I got a text from the chair of the meeting thanking me and telling me that the group defended my right to language, and that indeed the visitor from out of town was an asshole.
He said in leaving that at fifteen years, I should know the traditions, and what is appropriate for a meeting. Which I do. He also said I needed to talk to my sponsor, which I did while waiting for the bus. My sponsor spoke at this meeting a couple of weeks ago at their anniversary.
He said that I should not let this asshole ruin my night.
But it has. And it left a shitty taste in my mouth once again.
I don’t know if most straight Ontario men are language virgins, or never heard a curse word before, or never heard a racial slur in their lives. But when I talk about my father, the ultimate alcoholic, you get race, you get faggot, and you get colorful metaphors.
UGH … Some men are just real fuckers …
**** **** ****
GLORY OVER EVERYTHING / THE KITCHEN HOUSE
When my favorite book seller gives me suggestions, I usually find something to read, that I would not necessarily read of the shelf, in the brick and mortar store. But the blurbs and the synopsis usually does the trick. I’ve read a number of good books via this route.
Glory Over Everything, by Kathleen Grissom, was another good choice.
I’ve always been interested in the Underground railroad, having read other books in the past about it. “Glory” is the story of a man named James, (his adopted name) further in the book. This young boy, as the story opens, is the child of a white father and a mulatto mother. Back in the 1800’s, this is during the slave trade, plantations, and all the taboos that go along with race relations, between blacks and whites, and slaves and Masters.
This book is a true masterpiece of storytelling.
James, has to leave his home, because the woman who raised him dies in a house fire that kills her and destroys his home. With a bi-racial issue, he flees to Philadelphia in the latter 1800’s. He finds a home, after running away with a man who is a slave on the run. The black man takes him in and takes care of him, until James, learns to make it on his own in a world that is not kind to racial minorities.
Being black has its innate issues back in those days, and a white man with a connection to “blackness” by blood, is just as bad. So James lives with a secret. What plays out is a story of loss, love, children and the treatment of human beings.
This book is well worth reading.
The Kitchen House, a second book, by Grissom, I have just started. The story opens with familiar characters, that are found in “Glory.” Again, taking place in the latter 1800’s in the age of slavery and plantation houses. “The Kitchen House” is a house on a large property with the main manner house, and several other black houses.
Like I said, I’ve just cracked the book open, so I cannot comment on it yet.
And now it is time for bed.
And the week ends, on the best night of the week, with all of my best friends in my life, all in the same room. And one of my very best buds celebrated 5 years sober. Congrats to him.
But more on that later …
“To those who have made progress in A.A., humility amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
I feel like I’ve been stuck on Step Seven for more than a year. The way life has played out, i guess I am just more conscious of what is really going on, because at one point, God had to drop a wall on me so that I would look up, (from my proverbial smart phone). Not that I am always looking down at it. I don’t. But it does deliver tunes where ever I go.
When the reading was read, I was trying to find words to speak. It took a while, but eventually I had a thought.
There are three things that get in the way of humility for me, they are:
- My will
- And my Expectations
For a very long time, in my life, I did not know what was best for me, as the story goes.
Life was an abject failure until I hit the proverbial brick wall, they call AIDS.
And even after that happened, I still did not know what was best for me. When everybody bailed, and Todd had stepped in, I would begin, in earnest to learn a little humility.
Looking down into a toilet, that has a cup stuck inside, backwards, and there is shit and piss all over the floor, because said toilet has overflowed, and it is your job to stick your hand in there, get the cup out, then clean the bathroom.
I did what I was told to do, even if I did not want to, because those were the rules.
In the end, the lesson about the toilet was this:
If you learn how to clean up shit, when you get really sick, as was supposed to happen, and I ended up in a diaper, like many of my friends at the end of their lives, I would know what to do… Thank God I never got that sick…
Those two years with Todd, was the primer in learning how to be right sized, because I was faced with certain death, and there were things to learn, for that period. I amassed a huge bank of knowledge and lessons that would get me back into life.
But with Todd gone now, and left to my own devices, with no one to guide me further, I failed at life, miserably.
Fast forward a couple more years, and at a meeting I heard the words:
Go away, Leave this meeting and Don’t Come Back …
That was detrimental. And almost killed me.
I detached from the fellowship. I stopped communicating, and took back my will, because I thought very hard about being told to go. That was like ingesting poison.
I took leave of my senses and my friends, and stepped into a vortex of drugs and alcohol.
So much for willfulness.
Where I ended up, in that rehab house when it was all said and done, someone, a friend, sent someone to get me and take me away. Out of humiliation into humility.
Out of humiliation and into humility is a theme tonight.
I did not go quietly, back into recovery. I still had drinking to do, I chose not to go for help, until I hit another brick wall, in a haze of blackouts.
It was then, I realized, that prayer was all I had, when I took my last drink.
I got on my knees and I asked God for help.
The rest is history.
I was not very humble when I walked into that first meeting when I got to Montreal. I was, and I don’t know where it came from, honestly, Cocky.
I had been sober a few months. I moved here. And funny, that, I walked into a meeting one night, and had verbal diarrhea. I spouted off some shit, like a list of expectations for God, now that I had come back …
Funny that, the old timers all laughed at me and told me to keep coming back.
Needless to say, that night, I got knocked off my high horse, the first time.
When ever I take my will back, or I get in my own way, or I expect things from God, myself or another human being, humility goes right out the window.
A friend of mine talked about becoming RIGHT SIZED.
My entire journey in recovery, has been a long lesson in getting RIGHT SIZED.
I chose to move here, because I wanted a better life. I needed a better life, because the one I left in the states, was toxic, terrible, and sick.
I changed everything in Sobriety. And then the geographic. The final swing of the proverbial ax.
Now that I look back on my time here, When I finally let go and let God, life began to get better, incrementally.
All these years later, I know a few things:
- I don’t need many “things”
- I don’t need an ego
- I work every day to be a better me, even on my worst days
- I’ve learned what “just enough means”
- I’ve learned to live inside my means
- I’ve learned the value of money. Having it, Not Having it, then Having it
- I learned what it meant to finally Become a Man
Over the past fifteen years, as life came and went, every challenge was a test of my skills in sobriety, my skills in being a partner/boyfriend/then husband. Learning how to put the needs of others before my own.
They say that we are who we are, from the five people, we spend the most time with.
I am in good company, if I do say so myself.
Expectations, are as bad as Resentments and Anger.
Because, you know, Expectations always lead to Resentment and Anger. Plain and Simple.
A little more than two years ago, I embarked on a relationship with Baby Mama and Lu. I did that because prior to that decision, I knew Mary, in the meeting. I was there the night she walked into a meeting bewildered, because she learned she was pregnant.
After Three Pregnancy Tests…
All the women rallied round her. But that would not last. Promises were made, words were given. But in the end, words meant nothing. All the women failed in the one job that was needed. Someone to be with Mama, on the day Lu was born.
Two weeks prior to Lu’s birth, the women all fucked off. I did not know this was going on behind my back. And it came as a complete surprise to me when she told me she was returning to New Found-land to have the baby.
Lu was born, and the next day, I decided to call Mama. That one phone call, tuned into the relationship we have to this day. A year later, I would be at the airport the day they returned to Montreal to live.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, I had gathered a number of women back into the fold, to help me welcome Mama and Lu and get them settled, in what I thought would be a forever home.
Those women, gave me their words, and for a while, went through the motions.
WHAT GOOD IS A HUMAN BEING, IF NOT FOR THEIR WORDS AND ACTIONS ???
I take very seriously, someones WORD.
Coming out of the AIDS crisis, when your life depends on the words, services or actions of another human being, if you tell me you are going to do something, then DO IT.
Don’t Fuck Me Over. Which happened countless times over the years…
How many times, in my life, have I relied on people’s words, and be terribly betrayed.
Even to this day, I only ask things of people, when I need things.
This all falls under Expectations.
Over the last year, those women disappeared, one right after the other. And at one point, Mama decided it was time to leave.
I expected my women to stand up and be counted. Because they told me that they were all worthy to be counted. And they weren’t.
In the end, ONE woman went to say goodbye, because then she realized, just what she could milk out of the situation, to appease me.
And this is what I have learned about humility …
Fifteen years ago, I made a decision that would change my life. And the journey began in earnest. There was no time to waste, because I don’t know how long I am going to be here, really …
And I turned my will and my life over to the care of a Power Greater than myself, whom I choose to call God.
Thus goes the story.
When needed God would prune my tree. When needed God would adjust my course. When needed I would get what I needed, when I needed it and not a minute before.
For the past two years, I have been totally committed to Mama and Lu. I was the only man in their lives, besides Grand Pa (and Grand Ma). Baby Daddy pays child support because we went after him legally, but aside from a deposit, he wants nothing to do with Lu.
He was the one who suggested to Mama, when she got pregnant, to get an ABORTION.
My expectations of my women were too high. They did not meet my muster, because none of them had what they really needed or the ability to do the job.
And on Tuesday night, as I sat in the meeting, my heart breaking inside, several of my women were sitting in the meeting, not caring one bit that Mama was just a few hundred yards away from the meeting hall (across the street actually), and only ONE went over to say goodbye.
I became LIVID. I stormed out of the meeting and came home. I called my sponsor and raged and ranted and raved, with many four letter words attached.
I was unhinged.
The take away from this:
My relationship with Mama and Lu was my own. This was a defining moment in my life, and it was all my own. In the end, this one relationship changed my life, even beyond my own marriage.
It was a job, a relationship I took on as my own. It started with me, and it went with me, and Mama and Lu are in New Found-land now, and it goes on with me. This was my duty, not the duty of anyone else, because I believed God’s will was to be a man and to help to the best of my ability. This was all my own and not anyone else’s.
This is the life I wanted. It was a choice I made to be present and accountable.
And God blessed it and made it work, for as long as it did. But like I said above, there was not enough of me to go around, when everybody else fucked off on us.
No matter what happened, I remain accountable. Humbly and Honestly.
I cannot rely on people, who don’t have it in them to be accountable and present. Even if they think they are, actions speak louder than words.
And that’s the way it all played out.
This isn’t about me, I am not the center of the universe, I must decrease so that HE may increase.
This is how my life turned out, because I asked for this life, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to be the best ME in my life.
God helped me live my best life. It all comes down to Humility.
This is, hands down, the best my life has ever been.
Even if Mama and Lu are far away. I did not fail them.
And they know that.
We thought it was Spring. Obviously Mother Nature is Bi-Polar. It is COLD. Like (5c) cold, with the possibility of wet flurries tonight. By Friday it will be a Plus ( 24c).
After last night’s conversation with the man who turned me onto that book, I called another friend this evening before the meeting. She and I have been friends for a number of years, so she knows me and the story and where I have been, and where I am today.
And I really needed today’s conversation.
The work of life is always moving. And I heard a woman share, in the meeting, that, when we come in, we get to start again. We get rid of what ails us, and we begin cleaning up our lives, and learning about ourselves and how to live life, soberly.
She went on to say that, people in the world outside, might grow up and be ok, and then there are those who are not so ok. And they begin to seek help, to figure it all out, most, start the process, but many do not follow through to conclusion, for one reason or another. They just get stuck, fear sets in, or reality is just too much to bear.
So they quit.
Then there are those, out there, who begin sorting out their lives, and they take on the full task of self improvement. And we go to therapy, we go to groups, we get into recovery, or we find like minded people, on the same journey we are on, to help us along our journey.
I did not know anything at 21.
I did not know much more at 31.
I got sober this time at age 34.
When I turned 40, things began to change for me. Wisdom began to settle in.
I am told that from 50 to 54, is a big shit show.
I’d rather skip the shit show myself.
Thank you very much …
My lady friend I spoke to today has her life and all the work she put into it. And I listened to her talk and told me what was going on. And I needed to hear every word. Because now I am where I am at.
And we have put in a God Damned Lot of Work between us.
The only person I am responsible for is ME. I don’t have to carry anyone else.
In my Norman Rockwell world, I imagine, or better yet, fantasize, that one day folks in my family will grow up and see the wisdom of re connection.
I am closer to fifty than my brother. He is three years behind me.
He is stuck where he is stuck, with his perception of life as it happened for him, and he blames me for all of his problems, like my parents.
My fear is, that one day, my parents are going to die. And when they die, whatever beliefs and expectations and control they have over him, will die with them.
But he will be left with the What The Fuck, do I do now, “that they are gone.”
He may hang on to the gospel preached by my father forever, if he does not, then he may seek me out. (that is a hope) not an expectation.
Then again, he may never want to connect.
But I wonder if he ever thinks about me, and because of the shadow my parents cast over him, deny him the right to seek, rather to continue punishing me.
I did him wrong. When I left home, I left him there. Then again, No One wanted to know me or where I was going or how I was going to survive. And that is the way it has been for the whole of my life.
I begged them to connect when I got sick, and they all said no.
I heard my friend say to me today that I was no longer responsible for him or my parents. I can’t carry this any longer. It isn’t my fault, what happened. I was the one who left, and he was the one who stayed?
Who was the winner, and Who was the looser ?
Should I have taken my brother with me, should I have protected him from the abuse that was heaped on me and my mother? What should I have done ? At that time, the only person I was thinking about was me.
Because nobody else was thinking or caring about me in any capacity.
I no longer need toxic people in my life. And I cannot have people, who use me or abuse me in any way, in my life, Period !!!
My story is my story. The longer I am sober, and the more opportunity to grow up I get these days, is BONUS. Because I live on borrowed time, and I know that.
I should not be here. Yet, God keeps me here, for what ?
Obviously, He thinks I need to get somewhere better.
So while the getting is good, I am doing whatever it is I need to do to grow up.
I help my friends. I’ve been there for many of them for a long time. The relationships I created here, with people far and wide, is a blessing.
So today a very good friend talked to me about life. And that conversation, I needed to have, soothed my soul. I’ve covered a lot of ground over the years.
And I need to acknowledge that. And be proud of that. And to know tonight, that I am just fine. I also have feelings. Some of them stronger than others.
That Flash Fire Anger, doesn’t haunt me, but comes and goes. It does not rule my life, or changes who I am to those I participate in life with.
In sobriety, I get to choose what I want to do. And if I work my steps, and study the book, and go to meetings, do service, and help others, then I have a recipe for success.
The dividends you get from the program are directly proportionate to the investment you put into the program.
Do you want to just warm a chair, believing that osmosis works ?
Do you want to just skim the surface, with little effort, and see what happens ?
Or do you really want SOBRIETY, with all the trimmings ?
If you want Red Hot Sobriety, then you must invest Red Hot Time.
There are only a handful of people I trust implicitly.
You All Know Who You Are.
Family is not my problem any more. I have to let them go. They will either “come to” and maybe they won’t. it’s not up to me to get them there. Because right now nobody is listening or wants to listen. So Fuck Me.
Every day I stay alive, clean and sober, I learn something.
Life is not a waste of time. The purpose of this life, is to learn how to live, to learn how to love, to learn WHO is worthy of Love, and WHO is NOT. We might have to let people go, and that might be painful. But in the end, who we become, is directly proportionate to those who we surround ourselves with.
Thank You Boo, for being You. I Love You.
Sobriety, when it begins to work for you, may lead you to places you might not expect, and the one thing a friend said tonight, that
“I am learning to let go the process, and learn to live on a spiritual timeline and not my own.”
When I realize that I came to this place of my own volition, and that decision served me well, and continues to serve me well. I know I am in a good place, with good people, who support me and lift me up and contribute to who I am, and i contribute the same back.
The theme of “Turning up the heat” continues.
I’ve never closed the door to growth, because I’ve learned that growth happens when needed to, on God’s timeline. You never know who you are going to meet in a room, whatever room that is, and what you are going to learn from someone that you might not know very well, but you are in the same room, for either an extended period of time or a short period of time.
I met a man on the M.A. side this month. He is a long time member of our room, and he lives on the Prairies for most of the time, but he comes back to visit.
After my Mother’s Day meltdown we spoke and he turned me on to the Toxic Parent’s Book. We are both reading, and studying the book. I bought that book and read it in a few night’s time.
I called him yesterday and lined up a conversation, because I thought it would be good to talk to him about his take on the book, what his story is, as well as my own. I take very serious, suggestions by friends in the rooms. This was a good choice.
I got a great deal of understanding as to my story and how it played out, as I listened to my friend tell me his story, and how that played out.
In the end, I’ve done some serious work. And so has he. Working on issues of toxicity, and family is serious work, and for some, could lead to destruction. I think, at certain times, that it is useful to have several sets of eyes, to look at work, to see what is there, and to offer counsel when necessary.
The residual anger that exists in my life is there. And I spoke about that anger as a “flash forest fire.” It comes quickly, burns very hot, and is totally consuming and destructive.
I have another book to read on the topic of anger. So that is on the front burner.
Visiting old pain, must be changed. I’ve eliminated toxic people from my life. And now the job is to eliminate the residual energy that they still exert on me, invisibly.
For the time being, right now, I just need to sit here and reflect.
To acknowledge the work I have done, and the distance I have covered in the last week, and to be proud of where I am, and to be grateful for the people in my life.
I have to learn how to be transparent in all my affairs, to take care of me, have healthy boundaries, and know when to say No.
And I need to have the courage to say, when asked, how I feel, give an honest answer and not give the stock answer: F.I.N.E.
I’m glad that I have the friends I do today.
It has been a very “sticky” couple of days. Rain was supposed to fall, to a certain degree, but it was just bright and sunny all morning, then it got miserably cloudy and drizzly, the clouds parted and we got a dry evening, but it is sticky.
I’ve been working on another facet of sobriety lately, after my mother’s day meltdown and the conversation that ignited, on Monday past, I was at a meeting and a friend turned me on to another book to read.
Toxic Parents, Overcoming their hurtful legacy and reclaiming your life.
Dr.Susan Forward, P.H. D. copyright 1989.
The writer is a PHD, AND a doctor, from my take of the read, she is writing to a heterosexual population. And I wonder why a P.H.D. Doctor writing about a serious problem, did not expand her work into the LGBT community.
Did she leave that out intentionally, or just not want to GO THERE.
I am sure there are many LGBT adults in the world that were terrorized by their parents, and now are living whatever life they are living, afterwards.
1989, during the height of the AIDS epidemic.
Now I am sure as shit, that parents all over the United States were terrorizing their children (read: Gay men) and tossing their KS ridden bodies into the streets to die alone and destitute.
After reading this book, at the suggestion of a friend working in this area himself, I felt, in the end, that I had been overlooked. Or just merely, “not mentioned.”
The only place I located the word Homosexual, was in the chapter titled “Incest.” Where she tells the story of a man, who was sexually abused by his father throughout his life.
I understand the roles we play in life. And those roles our toxic parents fall into. Both my parents are well represented, across many of the chapters. And in the end, I realize that some of my present behavior, is a direct result of my parent’s “damage.”
All this toxic past exists. It is part of who I am. I haven’t found the route I am going to take to finally remove it, I don’t think you can remove that kind of abuse and forget it ever happened. But I need to talk to my friend, now that I’ve read it.
I’ve not been emotionally sober lately, my brain fart on Sunday proved that, and on Monday night after talking in the meeting, I was cranking as well, a friend looked at me and asked me if I was ok …?
And my stock answer was “yeah, I’m fine …”
How often do we spare someone the real truth, because admitting the truth would defy family secrets and vows to maintain equilibrium, when really, I am turning inside out.
Yeah, I’m Fine …
- Fucked up
- Neurotic and
How many other queer people in the world, heard the word “FAGGOT” tossed at them or the word “QUEER” or “HOMOSEXUAL?” All derogatory terms when used in hatred by parents.
How may other queer people in the world heard from a parent that “They were a mistake and should never have been born?”
How many other queer people in the world were physically, sexually, mentally, and emotionally abused by their parents?
How many Gay men went to their deaths, and how many of us who survived, the scourge of AIDS, live with the guilt and sorrow over the fact that we were abandoned when we most needed family?
The writer never once mentioned anything about an LGBT person in her PHD capability.
Not One …
I’m not sure of my stats on this, but I am sure that LGBT women fall under this heading as being abused to some degree, in their lives, but I have no concrete information to speak towards this.
What I DO know, is that GAY men, GAY boys, Gay Women and GAY girls face the same derogatory abuse heaped upon them by their parents, siblings, and peers.
We see way to much of this in today’s world, kids killing themselves because of intense abuse by their parents, their churches, their schools and by their friends.
This Toxic abuse by parents is NOT a new idea. This has been going on for decades and decades. I just happened upon this book, and found it severely lacking to an entire population of people, who HAVE been abused and now live with that wreckage.
I see countless young boys, girls, men and women, who come into the fellowships beaten and dead because of drug and alcohol abuse. But I’ve never heard toxic parents being brought up in community, ever.
But you know, that some of us, drank and drugged because of the abuse or neglect we faced by our families.
So tonight, I know a little bit more about me, that I did not necessarily look at with the proper glasses and perspective. Now I have.
How do you rid yourself, of this kind of pain?
The second portion of the book is where the work begins to do this.
I’ve read some of it, I’ve made plenty of lists. Written plenty of letters, made several phone calls, only to get the same repeated phrase …
You are the cause of all my problems, from the day you were born to the day you left home. You were a mistake that should never have been born.
When I turned thirty, after 30 years of hearing this, did something about it. I killed the boy who should never have been born. I took him out in a court room, in front of a judge.
I liberated myself from that line of abuse, so that I Could Live…
When I turned thirty four, I made the second decision to move to Canada. Thereby leaving the nest radically and finally. Leaving behind the family honor and family gospel.
And I stuck the knife in my parents hearts, by leaving the U.S.
They were more incensed by my moving, then by my desire to Have A Life.
I was not supposed to have a life, outside the family gospel and truth.
I spit on my family honor by leaving the states, so said my father…
My family lives under a very toxic and sick train of thought My parents are truly sick people who are stuck in the 1960’s, and believe certain things that I just can’t be part of, did not want to be part of, hence, eradicating them from my life.
You must find your way into life, whatever that path is.
If you want a quality of life that is beyond measure, then you need to rid yourself of toxic people in your life.
Which leads into our final topic of discussion tonight.
Fellowship, Friends, and Sobriety.
We read about the Cathedral that is the Fellowship.
Unity, Fellowship and Service.
I am all the men and women who are part of my life. These are my family. I surround myself with as many good people as I can. And I participate in a community of people who care about my well being and my life.
There is No Other Place to Be.
Today is Mother’s Day. And I have all kinds of feelings about it. I said such things on my Facebook, and my friends all think that I should be better than I am on this. “Oh, you should forgive and forget, or How Un-Christian of you to say such things about your mother!”
Yeah, I have feelings. And some of them are a lot stronger than others. Every year I get older, and remain in the “punishment room” for my behavior and choices, when how others treated me has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them.
Parent’s aren’t supposed to turn on their children and leave them to die by the roadside, alone and hurting. Parent’s aren’t supposed to blame all of their problems on their kids. And the last time I spoke to that bitter old woman, she indeed said that I was a mistake and that I was the cause of all her problems from my birth to the day I left home, was all about her, and not about me.
So that bitter old woman can stew in her own juices and rot in hell as far as I am concerned. She will never grow up and take responsibility for her choices, and to recognize who I am, a man with a life and love and success.
She is just One Bitter Bitch.
Never in the last twenty years, have any of them, my mother, my father, nor my brother or his wife ever called me to say … Hey, How are you ? Would you like to talk sometime ?
And that is all my fault?
Fuck you all to Hell.
It was a miserable and dreary day today, and the temperature fell drastically, because I had to layer and wear my winter jacket, and I was still cold. UGH !!
The Book, as we read tonight says:
A.A. is not a plan for recovery that can be finished and done with. It is a way of life, and the challenge contained in its principles is great enough to keep any human being striving for as long as he lives. We do not, cannot, outgrow this plan. As arrested alcoholics, we must have a program for living that allows for limitless expansion.
Keeping one foot in front of the other is essential for maintaining our arrestment…
A complete change takes place in our approach to life. Where we used to run from responsibility, we find ourselves accepting it with gratitude that we can successfully shoulder it. Instead of wanting to escape some perplexing problem, we experience the thrill of challenge in the opportunity that affords for another application of A.A. techniques, and we find ourselves tackling it with surprised vigor…
Now there is a sense of belonging, of being wanted and needed and loved. In return for a bottle and a hangover, we have been given the Keys of the Kingdom.
A.A. pgs. 275-276
I know I still have a long way to go. They did warn me that once I put the alcohol and the drugs down, I would feel. And the older I get, I feel more and more, what a waste of space certain people are in my life. Well, those people are not IN my life perse, but the stupid and ignorant reasons they are absent are just painful in my soul.
It is a sickness.
I long for the day I get my day in court. To say all those things I want to say to finally be able to say FUCK you all to HELL you motherfuckers. Not very sober, but cathartic nonetheless.
Little did I know fifteen years ago, where I would end up, as long as I stuck with the plan and with the right people.
I am grateful.
And I am bitterly angry at the same time.
God in His wisdom, knows what He is doing. I don’t.
I don’t have to drink or drug over it. That is the main idea of recovery.
The world out there, is fraught with complications. And the art of talking is just a jumble of noise. But in the rooms, we have found connections, and people who speak a common language. We have words, the rest of the outside world does not.
Which is why, I believe in the adage from a Ted Talk I head not long ago:
The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is CONNECTION.
How many of us come from broken homes, riddled by alcoholism and addiction, or from families stuck in a toxic mix of profanity, emotional, mental and physical abuse?
And how many of us turned to addictive “things” to blot out the pain of what happened to us as children and young people? And how many people do I know today, in the rooms, that fit all of these identifiers, and went to hell, only to find themselves in rooms with us, trying to find salvation, peace, and a quality of life they never knew existed, that only comes when we decide to come, listen, get honest and believe in the power of US, and that they are no longer alone.
Something I have learned in almost fifteen years in this movement, that even though I went to university, and earned several degrees in areas that I thought would get me somewhere, only to find that was not quite the case, I found a home, and a place to be myself, and to connect to people, who “would not necessarily mix” in real life.
We come from a myriad of places, we are professionals, musicians, artists, students, housewives, husbands, gay and straight, transgendered, we are all different.
Once you cross that invisible threshold of the doorway, everything that you are outside this room, is inconsequential, to who you are while inside. It may take some time, but eventually, we realize just what WE have together, that the world OUTSIDE does not.
For me, this has been a really good social education experience, getting to know people, listening to their stories, and over time, we decide what amount of investment we are going to make in a Group, and Individually.
At some point, when you find your seat, and you stay in that seat, for a while, you can’t help but invest in the lives of your friends. Because in time, we begin to see just what we each have to offer somebody else. When we learn that we are not the center of the universe, and that it isn’t all about us, and we begin to put the needs of someone else before our own, we realize that we indeed have grown up.
For the whole of my life, I was afraid of growing up. Over time, I leaned about good men and women. When I most needed the help, certain men and women came into my life and saved my life, from a death that ended quite gruesomely.
But when it came to trying to work that all out on my own, by myself, I failed miserably.
When I came back around the second time, I agreed with God, that yes, this was a good time to put down the fight and the isolation, and do the right thing.
Trying to find that GAY community that was supposed to take me in and make me whole, did not materialize. And the alcohol and drug route was unnecessary. But I had to walk to road that was only mine to walk. Try as I might, drinking and using my way along, I could not find my way into a community that was light years ahead of me, and did not even notice that I was there.
It was in the rooms of Montreal, that I found commonality. In the beginning there was a community of gay men and women, but AIDS has not been kind. And I survived them.
I moved into the general population, because there were certain folks who invited me to become one of, many. So I stayed and I grew up. Little by slowly.
In sobriety, I met my now husband. It was this relationship, in sobriety, that I learned how to put the needs of my husband before my own. The rest is history.
In the end, I realized that I indeed had become a man. A man who learned how to love himself and others. Out of the ashes and rubble of the past, I emerged into a life that is beyond my wildest dreams.
Over the years, people have come and gone. The older generation has grown older, and retreated into their lives, and they don’t come around any more. However, there is a population of old timers that come to many of the rooms I go to on a weekly basis.
But for the most part, today’s fellowship in Montreal is full of young people. So what does one do with that ? We come, and we listen. And when the time is right, as does happen now and then, we find points of entry into the lives of others, and we (read: My generation) do have lessons to impart.
But first we need commonality, and then Connection.
For the most part the stories are all the same. We all come from varied backgrounds, but when it comes to addiction, and drinking and using, the commonalities are there. The themes are the same across the board.
I’ve watched many of my friend battle to get better, and miraculously, they all have succeeded, they grew up and are good men and women.
If you come, and you stay, eventually, you may find, that at some point, you engaged a conversation, and you might not think that a particular conversation went any where, but if you stick around, you might witness something you said to someone, play out in front of you.
That is the Miracle.
Everybody in the world wants to be happy, and to be loved for who they are. And to love the one they choose to be with, gay or straight, or transgendered. But how often, is that NOT the case. And how often do we see, toxic families, who have turned on their children and spat on their lives and existences ?
And those kids turn to drugs and alcohol to make it all better or to drown the pain.
Everybody suffers, men and women. It is just a matter of how much suffering you are going to go through, before you turn it over and come to US.
The world is a sick place.
The world is not a better place, because of hatred, homophobia and bigotry and racism. There are too many ISMS.
In our little world, what we offer is safety, we offer connection, and we offer love and a way out of hell. Little did I know, for myself, the amount of support, love and connection I would find here.
Every day, I work very hard to make connections, to love, to be part of, and to learn.
You can’t pay for an education like the one that we get in these rooms. No university degrees, No Masters, No PHD’s. This is hard knock life.
Miracle do happen. You just have to connect.
This has not been an easy week for some. Even though there are communities willing to go to any length to help them, if they don’t engage then nothing is going to get better.
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes …
Tonight, we talked about “The Slipper,” and what we can and cannot do for them. We read the words of the founder who said that you can’t talk a slipper round.
Some in our numbers think otherwise. Some, who are fearless and devout to their friends, will go to any length to “talk them round,” whether they want to hear it or not.
Hoping against hope that at some point, all this talk would lead somewhere productive.
However, I know this … I can’t get you clean or sober.
I am not God and I am surely NOT your savior. BUT I am willing to try at least. I am just not going to watch my friends go to their deaths with hard narcotics.
There are people in my life today, that I am ALL IN with. They might not know this until their time comes, and that time has come for some.
A friend, who has been on the bubble for a long time, I’ve engaged at times in the past, but not so overtly, more covertly. But the time has come to step into the fray and do what I think is best for their welfare and lives.
I am not a Narcotics Anonymous guy, because the only narcotic I have in my history is cocaine. And that was on a “is it available” basis. Because if you had it and you were willing to share, I was willing to participate.
When it comes to Heroine, MDMA, Crack Cocaine, and other assorted alphabet names, I am woefully ignorant.
But I have a friend who has a perverse and very sick death wish.
Addicts across the board, whatever your evil substance is, we are ALL or NOTHING kinds of people. In for a penny, In for a pound they say.
I have thrown down all my cards tonight. I asked some serious questions of a friend, and put it to him plainly, that I was in his court and that I had his back.
And I meant that 100%.
Also tonight, we heard one of our young men share about his best friend, who has been in and out for a very long time, since they were teenagers. Neither were in at the same time, and when one was out, the other was in, and back and forth.
A couple of weeks ago, they met, after a long absence, and the friend was pounding the alcohol, and in a matter of days, that friend was DEAD.
Not only was there a tragic loss, but the questions like, could I have done something, and why didn’t he listen, and why is he dead?
Then the thought of a drink and a drug rose onto his dashboard, and my friend considered it wisely. Having good friends and someplace to go, he avoided that slip.
To his own benefit.
I never talk about this, but we are loosing our young people to drugs and alcohol, more than we like to admit. And there is not a damn thing we can do about it because as one of my friends spoke tonight …
I CAN’T MAKE YOU GIVE A SHIT !!!
That’s the problem with addiction. When we are sunk into it, not one word or one action or any program of recovery is going to be able to help you, if
YOU DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT YOU !
My friend who has that sick perverse death wish, when he is IN IT,
HE DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT, BUT THE BLIND OBLIVION AT THE BOTTOM OF A DRUG.
And I sit here and think that last night, he could have died. This morning at 9 a.m. my phone rang with a friend asking me where he was, and what happened ?
When I left him yesterday evening he was clean and sober. By midnight he was in a crack den smoking crack with some very unsavory people.
By then he knew he was in over his head.
FUCK I hate addiction so badly.
All I can do is offer my friendship and my skills at listening.
That is all I can do.
Alcohol will KILL you outright. If you pound enough of it, the body will go into free fall, and begin to shut down and you WILL DIE.
Marijuana is innocuous, it may not kill you, outright, but the black hole that follows, will swallow you whole and take you out.
Narcotics are an entirely different beast. Some start off slow and methodically. But once the train leaves the station, we are all in, with no sight as to the end of the line.
The higher you escalate on the train of hard narcotics, your death is exponentially greater, the higher you climb on that ladder.
Narcotics WILL KILL YOU.
The great condo battle is about over. Le Square, poured their fourteenth floor two days ago, and today they set the fifteenth floor. The elevator shaft needs to be poured just yet, and then the final phase, the roof of the building.
The build out on the lower floors continues, with reaching the fifth floor. They have fitted out the lower floors, with the addition of windows and balcony access. On the ground floor, behind barricade walls, they are completing the fitting out. Concrete block walls have gone up, duct work is being completed, and framing is up. We can see this progress via windows carefully placed along the barricade wall around the structure.
Completion of the build will definitely be finished this month, with work continuing to outfit the building. Things are moving ahead very quickly. The open date is set for the end of year 2016.
The completed Le Square to compare …
La Catherine, (in the foreground) poured the ground floor a few days ago, and the frontage of the build is complete, we can see it above the barricade out front on Ste. Catherine’s Street.
The second floor is “in build process” and they are pouring concrete for the forms moving up from the first floor to the second.
The completed La Catherine for comparison.
Published Thursday, May 5, 2016 7:32AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 5, 2016 10:30PM EDT
Thousands of people trapped in isolated oilfield work camps north of Fort McMurray, Alta., were airlifted to major cities on Thursday, and the province is planning to allow police-escorted convoys of vehicles to pass southbound through the fire-gutted city, starting on Friday morning.
“Since this morning, we’ve been able to have roughly 4,000 people evacuated from the north of the city down to either Edmonton or Calgary,” Premier Rachel Notley told reporters at a briefing Thursday night. “This has been done primarily through the work of industry, bringing in WestJet flights,” she said. Notley added that she hoped 8,000 in total would be evacuated to the cities by the end of the day, with more expected to be flown out Friday.
About two-thirds of Fort McMurray’s 80,000 residents fled south after the mandatory evacuation orders were issued earlier this week. However, about 25,000 went north to oilfield camps, where there is limited food and gasoline.
The only road out of the camps, Highway 63, runs right through Fort McMurray. It remains closed.
Just hours before Notley spoke, RCMP Sgt. Jack Poitras told reporters that the fire was once again jumping the highway, as flames moved south from Fort McMurray toward the community of Anzac.
Chad Morrison, a manager with Alberta Wildfire Prevention and Enforcement, told reporters Thursday evening that the fires around Fort McMurray had burned through an area of about 850 square kilometres. That’s roughly the size of the city of Calgary. He said there were roughly 40 fires still burning, including one that was about three kilometres from Anzac, which was evacuated late Wednesday, along with Gregoire Lake Estates and Fort McMurray First Nation.
Morrison said that flame-spreading winds are expected to “calm down” Friday, but “with a few more hot dry days ahead of us … we’re not out of the woods yet.”
There isn’t any rain in the weather forecast until Sunday.
Notley said she could not offer an update on the number of houses that had been destroyed. She did, however, say that the fire’s “rate of growth” had “slowed,” with firefighters making progress in protecting the Thickwood and Timberlea neighbourhoods, along with the downtown.
A day earlier, she had said an estimated 1,600 structures had been affected.
‘Not a matter of days’
Premier Notley said that it is not possible to offer a timeline on when residents will be able to return home. However she said: “Unfortunately, we do know that it will not be a matter of days.”
Notley said evacuated residents will be given opportunities to visit their homes to assess damage and collect valuables “once it is safe to do so.” She warned residents that they must not return now, adding “The city is not safe.”
“I understand that the Albertans who are affected by this tragedy are scared, and very tired, and very worried about their homes, and what the future holds for them and their families,” she added. “Trust us, that we will have your back.”
Notley said “additional financial supports will be made available to ensure that affected Albertans have the resources and income supports that they need,” and that a “cash card option” is being discussed.
The premier encouraged Fort McMurray residents to re-locate to Edmonton or Calgary, where she said there are more services in place and schools available that can make room for displaced students immediately.
Notley stressed that those who have been evacuated should notify the provincial government by visiting Emergency.Alberta.ca or by contacting the Red Cross, even if they are not planning to use emergency shelters.
“We need more information about who has been evacuated, where they are and what supports you require,” she said.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson told CTV’s Power Play that about 20,000 people had arrived in the provincial capital already, with about 6,000 more expected by the end of the day.
Only a few thousand had registered with the city’s emergency reception centre, he said. Most are staying with friends, relatives or in hotels, he added. Many others are in the communities of Lac La Biche and Calgary.
‘A few stragglers’
Sgt. Poitras told reporters that RCMP officers had stayed in the nearly-abandoned city to make sure everyone had heeded the mandatory evacuation order.
He said police continued to find “stragglers” as late as 10 or 11 p.m. on Wednesday, and they were escorted out of town.
There were no reports of looting, he said.
Province-wide fire ban in place
Environment Minister Shannon Phillips announced Thursday that a province-wide ban on fires had been put in place, noting “extreme” risk and fears that strained resources could be pulled away from the fight in Fort McMurray.
Phillips also said she wants Albertans to avoid off-highway vehicle use, noting that recreational vehicles have sparked fires in the past. She also asked residents to reconsider their plans for the weekend, and to be extra cautious if they choose to use camping stoves.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday morning that the federal government will match all individual donations to Red Cross relief efforts for Fort McMurray. “We will make it through this most difficult time together,” Trudeau said in the House of Commons.
Alberta had said Wednesday that it too would match donations.
Looking visibly distraught, interim Official Opposition leader Rona Ambrose thanked Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale for their efforts to help her home province.
“It’s a tough day for Albertans but we will persevere,” said Ambrose, who represents the riding of Sturgeon River-Parkland. She vowed that the Conservatives will support Trudeau “every step of the way” in taking practical steps to help Fort McMurray. She also urged the government to make Fort McMurray a priority in its infrastructure spending plans, as the city will need to rebuild its streets and community centres after the flames are put out.
Ambrose started to choke up as she spoke, prompting Trudeau to cross the floor and to give her a hug.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair urged the federal government to move quickly in providing employment insurance for Fort McMurray evacuees. He also hailed the evacuees for their “stoic, strong and poised response” to the crisis.
On Wednesday, Minister Goodale said that Service Canada is looking into “the necessity for income supports as people try to restore their lives and get back to some semblance of normalcy.”
He told CTV’s Power Play Thursday that the federal government had given Alberta “everything it had asked for,” including military planes, cots and bedding, and geomatics support.
Wildrose leader’s home burned
Alberta Opposition Leader Brian Jean, who represents Fort McMurray-Athabasca, is among the many whose homes have been destroyed.
“My home is burnt to the ground but it’s just stuff,” a teary-eyed Jean told reporters on Wednesday. “All my stuff, all my memories. I lost a son last year…” he said.
He added that the “best news” about the fire is there have been no lives lost. “That’s what we’ve got to concentrate on now,” he said.
Jean, who leads the Wildrose Party, later told CTV’s Power Play he is optimistic that the community will be rebuilt better than ever. “We will come back stronger and continue to provide the great economic generation that we do for the rest of the country,” he said.
In an update sent out on Wednesday afternoon, officials said 90 per cent of Fort McMurray’s Waterways neighbourhood has been destroyed, while 70 per cent of Beacon Hill has burned and 50 per cent of the homes in the Abasand neighbourhood are gone.
With files from Josh Elliott, The Canadian Press, CTV Alberta Bureau Chief Janet Dirks, Toronto Bureau Reporter Peter Akman, CTV National News Bureau Chief Jill Macychon and CTV Edmonton