Thursday – “You Kicked Me When I was Down”
I have a history of people in A.A. turning their backs on me. And I have written about those occurrences many times. I’ve been talking to my support team (read: Friends) this week. I have been listening to them give me advice and talk to me about my expectations, my resentments, and seeing a human being, human beings being fallible, and the fact that people are people, and I must allow them the latitude to be who they are, even if I don’t agree with them.
My old sponsor told me once that: YOU MIGHT HAVE TWENTY OF MORE YEARS OF SOBRIETY, HAVING YEARS IN SOBRIETY DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NECESSARILY SOBER. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.
I am getting one line of advice from the men in my life, well, some of them, not all of them. I am also getting a second line of advice from my women. Some of the men encourage me to stay the course and be the better man, and return to the scene of the crime.
My women are in agreement with the thoughts that, my relationship with my (now former) sponsor has run its course, and that it is time to find someone new. And the other piece of advice came from baby mama, who said that, it is time to go. And that that time had passed long ago, but this episode only drives the point home, that it is time to go.
I’ve made my decision. That I will keep to myself right now.
Never kick someone when they are down. Never deny someone their feelings, or better yet, your lack of feelings. Never belittle someone and ignore that we feel something, never tell someone who is on the ground, on their knees sobbing inconsolably, that they are acting like a “CHILD.”
So I was thinking after the meeting tonight about the Responsibility Statement, that A.A. uses for its fellowship.
I AM RESPONSIBLE
WHEN ANYONE, ANYWHERE
REACHES OUT FOR HELP, I WANT
THE HAND OF A.A. ALWAYS TO BE THERE
AND FOR THAT: I AM RESPONSIBLE.
On Tuesday, inside the meeting, the hand of A.A. was there for me, but when I walked outside the meeting, a long time sober member, pulled that hand away, denied me my feelings and said that my feeling were not important, and not worthy of compassion and then called me a CHILD.
My (read:Former) sponsor, may be thirty plus years sober, but he is clearly not sober, and clearly NOT a responsible member of the fellowship.
This would be the third time I was turned way from the fellowship by a member who was longtime sober.
My sponsor said that: I think I am so special, and that I expect people to treat me differently than everybody else. That I think myself SPECIAL. He called me selfish, then denied my feeling as “over the top, and therefore not important.”
Then to end this scene, He called me a CHILD.
I hear people on the tubes speaking about they way they felt while still in the closet, and how some people made them feel small, and insignificant; and not important or part of.
OUR lives matter, every LGBTQ human beings, life matters.
Heterosexual people, (read:MEN) have no idea what we go through growing up in a world that tells us that we should “CONFORM” and that in certain circles, homosexuality is in congruent with the Bible, and that we are an ABOMINATION.
Do you know how hard it is for us to eek out a life for ourselves in that kind of atmosphere? Times have changed, yet those same proscriptions still exist for many.
On my knees, sobbing, inconsolably, a man of many years in age, and triple decades in sobriety, made me feel “other, small, and insignificant.”
He irrevocably killed the way I see him and respect him.
I have no time, the inclination, nor the desire, to maintain a relationship with anyone who kicks me when I am down.
Reflections on Tragedy
When I began drinking and using, I did it to fit in, to be part of, because, I was told, that the only way in, was through a bar, and several drinks.
I know, for a very long time, drinking and using was fun, because it made me part of and accepted among my peers. That lasted, through sick relationships, the wrong people in my life, and ended in the first of two major tragedies in my life.
When James, committed suicide, and I was drawn into this event, not of my own choosing, but by the choosing of my parents, and his parents, I was irrevocably scarred for life. Four days later, they found his body, (or what was left of it) and on the fifth day, the coroner called me in to identify those remains.
I remember the smell of the building, the drawing of the curtain, and seeing a corpse that was half of who he was when he was alive. I also remember what his mother said to me in the end, when I signed his remains away to be sent home for burial.
She said, and I quote … I hope for the rest of your life, what you see, every time you close your eyes, is my sons dead body.
I have had that vision in my head for more than twenty two years now. I don’t often think about it, but for a time, a VERY long time, I did.
This was the episode that turned enjoyable drinking into an ESCAPE.
Drinking and using was no longer an exercise in FUN. It became an exercise in ESCAPE.
I drank and used until I could not feel any more. And I did that day in and day out, and every night for almost two weeks, until Todd and Bill stopped me, and got me into therapy.
I sat in a family, “Survivors of Suicide” group for many weeks, listening to war stories, that, in the end, did not stop the pain, but only made it worse. But all the while, while I was at work, my drinking was curtailed by Todd.
A year later, still drinking, I faced the Second tragedy. This one much closer to home, it wasn’t someone else, this time it was ME. You never forget the person (read: Doctor), the time, or the place, when a doctor says to you, “Jeremy, you’re going to die, this is the end, go home get your affairs in order, and wait to die. You have so many months left to live!”
Now, I was not only drinking to escape, I was drinking to Kill Myself. Because I was not going to go down in utter sickness and despair, like so many of my friends.
I tried very hard to end my life, but once again, my friend Danny, and Todd were there that night when I almost died, and they took me up from the pavement and the ambulance, and began to care for me, and in the end, saved my life.
I know when I crossed that line from pleasurable drinking into escape drinking.
I know today, that I am an alcoholic and an addict. I also know that I suffer from the disease of MORE. I know that when alcohol, then a substance, was put in front of me, I participated. Funny thing is, that when the substance disappeared, I didn’t go looking for more. And that is a funny thing. Most addicts who use, will go to any length to get MORE, and use MORE, until they crash and burn or die.
I, on the other hand, always had something to fall back on, and that was alcohol. It was there, it was much cheaper, and the well never went dry. I could always drink as much as I was able, which, in the end, was not enough.
When I slipped, into active addiction and alcoholism, it wasn’t for options of choices. Because by location and people present, I really had no choice but to USE. Until the day the cops came and took me away and said, “Time to Go. The Shit Show is Over.”
I put down the drugs, moved back home, and continued to drink.
When 9-11 happened, on that day, I thought my brother was one of them, and I was worried, even if he wasn’t part of my life, which he wasn’t. When I was told he was not, ONE OF THEM, my view shifted.
I mourned in a particular way. I was shocked in a particular way. I experienced this tragedy in a particular way. I watched A LOT of television, namely ABC News. I remember the night I was watching Peter Jennings on tv.
I wrote to him and had his ON AIR email address. And a couple of days later while he was broadcasting 24 hours a day from the set, live, he looked haggard, and disheveled.
I TURNED TO MY COMPUTER AND WROTE HIM THIS MESSAGE:
PETER, PLEASE UNBUTTON YOUR JACKET AND LOOSEN YOUR TIE AND UNBUTTON YOUR SHIRT, RELAX AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
A few moments later, I’m watching him on tv. And he stopped, unbuttoned his jacket, loosened his tie, and his shirt, and he breathed. I have that moment recorded on a vcr tape, that I still have to this day.
I mourned with my friends, but I did not have a cathartic reaction to it. I did not cry, I did not get overly emotional. We did as we were told as a community, (read: Follow the rules of mourning, and be sad.)
Sad … Check.
When the mourning period ended, the community had an idea to raise funds, so the bars opened, and we drank all the alcohol we could, to raise money that went to New York City.
I got sober in December of 2001. Several months after this tragedy. I kept drinking through this tragedy because I HAD to DRINK, then the HAD to drink for a cause, turned into HAD to drink because of a delusion I held so close to me.
Until that delusion was smashed, and I found my way back to the rooms.
I’ve been sober now, fourteen and a half years. I have faced my share of tragedy and sadness in my life. But I never had the reaction to those sad moments, like I had the reaction I had to the Shooting in Orlando on Sunday morning.
It wasn’t overseas, It wasn’t in New York.
It was an attack on MY community. The LGBT community. AND it happened in a place that I called HOME. A place that I was intimately connected to. AND it cut me to the core.
When I saw the quotes:
GOD OPENED UP HIS ARSENAL OF GUNS AND KILLED THOSE FAGGOTS IN THE BAR,
GOD KILLED ALL THOSE FAGGOTS BECAUSE THEY ARE ALL PEDOPHILES
I WAS EMOTIONALLY, SOBERLY, RELIGIOUSLY, AND HUMANLY DEVASTATED.
And for the third time in my life, I felt despair unlike any despair I have felt in many years. I threw in my religious towel, I threw in my belief towel, and I threw in my sober towel.
For some time, I sat here and questioned the existence of God, and the depths some Christians would go to to denigrate other human beings. That was the moment I found a new existence. Baby Mama says that I have EVOLVED.
It would have been very easily, to get dressed and go downstairs and DRINK. And believe you me, I seriously considered that option, unlike any other time in my life.
But I chose Not to Drink or to Use.
I was in shock until Tuesday night. When I hit my home group meeting. A place I thought was safe, and welcoming. I did not plan to fall apart and become a sobbing mess of sadness and utter despair.
My sober sister said to me yesterday that: “Sometimes it is good to fall apart in sobriety.”
That is what happened.
The people in to room, gave me the space to cry and to feel and to speak. Aside from my sponsor, who was none to happy with the phrase …
WITH ALL THE PEOPLE I KNOW HERE IN MONTREAL, ONLY ONE MEMBER CALLED ME, ONE !
That was Rafa. He knew what to do, he cared, and he called, and continues to call daily, with several texts in addition.
After that meeting my sponsor began his attack of words.
Once again, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, turned their back on me. A member with triple decades of sobriety. Someone, some of my friends say, is worthy of respect, even if he is fallible. I disagree.
ONE, on the grounds that He was my sponsor, and TWO, because He is a longtime member of the fellowship.
He did NOT care. He did NOT support me, he chose to speak those words to me.
And as a gay man, with some pride and value and morals, I give people A LOT of latitude, and A LOT of space, to either help me, or HANG themselves.
In my life, there are those who have HELPED and SUPPORTED me along the way, THEN, there are those who have HUNG themselves.
My sponsor has HUNG himself.
That is the problem with a good number of heterosexual men, I have met in my life. It is a sad statistic. But they exist.
I like to say, YOU FUCK A FAG, YOU GET FUCKED RIGHT BACK.
With No Lube.
Just some thoughts for you to ponder.
Trust only those you must. Never give someone the key to your soul, without a payment.
That payment is respect, dignity, friendship and TRUST.
If you fail on any one of these requirements, I cut you loose, FOREVER.
I will never allow you to be part of my life, any more.