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End of Year 2010

Ups, Downs, The year that was 2010…

Courtesy: Fysnoopy

I have been pondering this post for a number of days. Thinking about what I want to write about as it happens, live and in color. Firstly, this blog…has seen better days. It has been reincarnated twice and is still going, because I am stubborn.

So many blogs have ceased to be in the last five years. Some have changed their focus and I still have a good read list that I go through every day. The blogsphere has lost some really great talent, because I guess the chic of blogging had weaned for many writers that I used to read. But writing is therapeutic …

I have had my issues with people in the recent past, which is why this blog was moved, renamed, reincarnated and re-domained. You can never escape lewd and sick people on the internet. Because once you commit it to the internet, it is there to stay. I survived the last attack and kept the blog intact.

I have kept the focus on this blog as it always was. My topics have stayed true to heart, writing about life, love, troubles and miracles in recovery. My numbers are not what they were, but the internet changes so quickly with the times, that it is hard to keep readers when you post everyday goings on. I’m not political, although I have political opinions. I have stayed away from religious topics because I’ve heard all the arguments, and been attacked by the religious right and left. I have been attacked by those who question the very real facet of my life which is recovery.

My life begins and ends with recovery. Because without it I am nothing. If I wasn’t sober right now, I would be in a sad state. When I got sober this last time, I meant it. Nothing in life happens but by chance. There are no coincidences. And miracles do happen when you aren’t looking for them. That’s what makes recovery so beautiful.

The latticework of my life is meetings and sobriety. I have kept a select few of people in my inner circle that I can go to for advice at any time of day or night. I have my sponsor and fellows in the program that I call my friends. Over the last year I have seen a major upheaval in sobriety in that long time friends were stricken with diseases that took away their lives, literally. I still keep in touch with these people, yet they are mere shells of who they once were.

That’s what happens when you allow sobriety to get relegated to the back burner. People loose their focus and their lives unravel, and I have been powerless to this day, to stop it or change the outcomes.

Some major things happened in my life over the last year. Some good, some bad. I failed at the greatest work of my life, that being graduate school. I knew going in the I was the outsider from the first day of classes. People who were my friends, no longer felt it necessary to keep my confidences and be “friends.” Once I crossed that line into graduate studies everything changed, and I saw it happen before my very eyes. But I went with it, playing the part, trying to look good under pressure, to seem confident. but it was all a ruse.

I knew sooner or later that I would face the gauntlet and it happened second semester. I was tired of the game. I could not produce work that was deemed acceptable as a graduate student, however hard I tried, getting extensions and working my ass off, in the end I failed to make the marks. And there was no love lost at the end. I was ready to go as they were readily prepared to boot me from the graduate program. It was one of the great failures in my recovery. But through it all I remained sober.

After that there was nowhere to go but up. I thought about quitting my education because once you leave the system, there is no more money, and money is the one thing we need to keep flowing until hubby makes his mark on the world, that story for another time.

I was sitting in the financial aide office and my friend said to me that I should go down to Dawson and arrange for classes there, because I had never attended Cgep, that that was free money. That very day I went down, applied and within days, I was a Dawson student, in continuing education. It was a step down, but otherwise it was a good move for me. Easy work, not a lot of pressure to perform like a grad student. Thanks the gods.

For the last year, I have been keeping my cards close to my chest. I have been living in the moment for so long, that it has become second nature.

Practicing the tools of sobriety, some people would say, is too difficult. But faced with no other choice, it’s what you have to do to stay sane and in control. I have succeeded in my first semester in Cegep. It was an easier run than I had expected.

What else did I do in the last year? I haven’t gone back through the umpteen pages of posts that I have written over the last year, they are too numerous and would take me in forever to go through. So this is just going to be a highlight and lowlight post for years end.

The greatest joy this year has been to be able to share in my hubby’s journey on into his furthering graduate studies. He is the finest of educational models. Even with his help, I could not do what he does with one arm tied behind his back. His mind is as sharp as a tack. His skills are outstanding, his abilities are limitless. He took on the new work with zeal and enthusiasm. Along with his classes, he got a TA position in his department and that made all the difference. He met new friends and he has a social life that is rewarding.

Let us talk about marriage. 2010 has been a year of rewards. Married life is a joy. Just being in the same room together is enough. We don’t need trappings or riches. We live a very frugal lifestyle. We have lived in the same apartment since the day we met in 2002. We celebrated six years of marriage this past November. A simple card with three words was all I needed on our anniversary. And that is what I got, and that was enough.

For the first time in our relationship, we have more money in the bank than we used to have because of his dual student/employment role in graduate studies. The promises about financial insecurities will leave you, took long enough to come around for us. We still have bills and they still take up most of our money every month because bills go up, they don’t go down. And I would not give up the view we have from home for any other property in the city, save a view from the mountainside up above us on the mountain.

Cgep does not pay what university pays in student financial aide. And when I left graduate studies we took a huge hit, until hubby got established. But we have some financial success today, a goal that we have sought after for years, and we could never really find the mark, in the last year it came to us. So that was a good point to talk about.

It’s really not a good thing for me to sit before a blank canvas this late at night, because my mind tends to wander around topics I don’t like to ponder during the day. Hence the photo above.

Let’s talk about medicine. I survived another year. And that is something we don’t like to talk about lest we jinx the good run I have had medically over the last year. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and have been on medication ever since. We had to shift a few habits and get rid of some that were necessary to end. My HIV numbers have remained over the 1000 mark for more than a year. With T-cells over the 1000 mark, my doctor is pleased with my progress. That’s why at my last doctor check in he gave me a 4 month break until the next lab draw. Dr. George, my diabetes doctor is pleased with my sugar numbers and I won’t see him till March of next year.

I have been sober now 9 years and a few days. Last Thursday was my anniversary, and the people who were there from the beginning are still in my life today. I got to talk to all of them, scattered all over the world as they are today, they all called me to congratulate me on my achievement.

The holidays are upon us. I hate them, and I love them just the same. I hate them because I am constantly reminded of what I don’t have. And really am I missing it really? No. The topic of family is something we don’t discuss ever. I have had to accept that I will never get back what I lost in decisions I made early on in my life. And my move to Canada was the final nail in my proverbial casket. I would never be forgiven and the curse that exists is one of silence. A punishment that my parents do to those who cross them. They shut off the switch and turn you into darkness, never to see the light of day.

Although today I wonder what they say to friend about my real absence from their lives? I wonder what kind of stories they tell about me. With the dawn of Facebook, I had a tantalizing brush with my brother for a short amount of time. Here I though I would get to make an amends and have contact after so many years, but that never materialized.  It was a stab at my heart to be sure.

With marriage I get family. I don’t see them, but at Christmas we supply them with presents like good family does. Hubby goes home for a few days to exchange gifts and visit, and I stay at home where my mouth won’t get me into trouble. There are confidences that we have in our marriage, that no one knows about. There are things that we trust to each other that remain foreign to my inlaws.

Nobody knows what we know and what we have been through over the last seven years. Our relationship has only grown over the last few years. We have been together going on nine years and we have been married for a little more than six years now. Hubby has stood beside me and he encourages me when I need it and he is there at the end of the day to lie next to at night.

I have done a lot of thinking about the past. I miss my friends. I miss the life I had when it was all flying by the seat of my pants. I was 26 when I was diagnosed with AIDS. I am going to be 44 years old next summer. 16 years have passed since that fateful day – July 8th 1994.

I am moving towards an invisible line. Long term survivors of AIDS from the 80’s and 90’s are being studied now by doctors and writers, because we are charting new territory, living beyond the initial life markers. Many of us have survived and I really don’t know what to expect as I march towards 45 and blessedly hopeful of 50.

That’s why there are books being written about men with AIDS who are reaching that milestone in their lives. The surge of life that has been afforded us because of medical technology has been a blessing. I would never have reached this point had I stayed in the U.S.

I am living a dream. That’s all I can say. The last nine years has been a gift. I have achieved so much and lived a life, that if you told me this back then, I would have laughed you out of the room. Who knew I’d survive this long? One day at a time…

What do we expect in this next decade of life? I don’t know. But there are some who are going to offer us their best shot at predicting what comes next. That book, by the way, is on its way from Amazon as we speak.

Keeping it simple as I did in the beginning, I return to the past. i was diagnosed in July of 1994. And my rationale behind survival was based on six month increments. I learned to trust my doctors over time and in sobriety back then I was reasonably sure that if I lived to see Christmas, I could basically accept that I would make it to my next birthday. I never forget that rationale, keeping it simple.

If you do it, by the numbers, I have nothing to worry about medically. I have healed my body and my soul. And the grant I received from being taken was that I would live. And so I have. I have accepted the fact that my pear shaped body is what it is. And I have the tell tale signs of protease paunch, from protease inhibitors that I took so many years ago. Really, I am not as vain a man as some that I know who are my age and living with AIDS. I mean really, beyond a bottle of Miss Clairol, I haven’t done anything drastic to my body to enhance or to recapture something from my youth. What you see is what you get. Some of my friends have had major surgeries, gotten massive tattoos, had ass enhancements, and facial reconstruction injections. Save that none of that really bad shit happened to me when I was younger living with the disease. I escaped with a tummy. I didn’t get strapped with body dismorphia.

The last thing I want to talk about it mortality. It has been on my mind as of late. Maybe because I have fixated on the past for a good amount of time in the last year. By the numbers, I should not worry about dying. But death is ever present. I was once told by a doctor that it wouldn’t be HIV that killed me, that it would be something else. What that something else is still a mystery.

I think about dying. I dream about dying. Every day is a gift when you live with long term illness, that once was a silent a merciless killer. A leopard cannot change its spots no matter now medical science changes the terms of the game. The animal remains the same. It is we who cheat death by living, many of us have lived beyond any doctors predictions. Death, can’t be far away, when you consider how many people died from this over the last twenty years.

I lived a good life, to this point. Well beyond my dreams of success. I got the chance to do things that many of my friends did not. And I am grateful for every day that I lived. I don’t have any regrets. They would be a waste of time.

There are things still on my to do list. And hopefully in the next calendar year I may get to experience some of them. My so called “bucket list.”

I want to thank all of you who have remained with me here, reading and sharing in the journey. I try to help others, because in order to keep it you have to give it away, and i do that here freely and without complaint.

Here is to 2011. May it be joyous and life changing. Let us all pray.

So it’s 2:30 in the morning and I am tired of typing. So that is it for my end of year review. Thanks for reading, and may God bless you and keep you. Blessings on your heads.