Loving the Sacred through Word and Image. The Ferryland – New Foundland Iceberg Easter 2017. A Word Press Production.

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I’m Always Ok

tumblr_ma62hlMxSo1rdkscno1_500 rthompson80Courtesy: R.Thompson 80

How often do we say to our friends, that, “yeah, everything’s fine, and I’m ok?” And how often do we tell ourselves that everything is fine, and we really want to believe that everything is fine, when in reality, everything is not fine. In fact, things are in really bad shape.

When we are always going, doing, and being, amid the business of our days, we (read: I ) tend to forget myself, because as long as I am not feeling it, or do I feel in distress, I can keep going, until that proverbial wall comes up and smacks me in the face.

Many people run on the premise that as long as I look good to you, then I don’t have to look at me. As long as I put up a good front, you won’t see what a mess I am on the inside, and how unmanageable my life is, as I am trying to manage your life instead.

Try as I might, I never want to admit defeat, in any sense. Try as I might, I feel like as long as I am breathing, and can do things, that I must do them, to the detriment of myself. I tend to take for granted that I am not twenty any longer, and that I am closer to fifty then I am to twenty.

I tend not to, or ever admit that I am that old. Nor do I ever admit that I can’t do everything that I have always done, to the extent that I put myself in mortal danger of sickness, and in the worst case scenario, death …

I’ve been living on borrowed time for so long, that always doing “something” all the time, is natural.

There is a story that comes to mind about Bill W. He never said that he was an alcoholic, however he was. In his life, we alcoholics, wanted to be near him, with him in meetings, and or talking to him about a great many things. Bill could not go out to a meeting and be himself. He never could walk in an anonymous room, and be anonymous. He was saddled with who he was and what he represented to everyone in the rooms.

He just could not “go to a meeting, for himself.”

For a long time now, I have been responsible for many meetings, meaning, I either had the key and had to open, come rain, or come shine, or snow. Or I had to do service, be it coffee, or set up or something else. And I have been doing this for years now. There are not many folks, who come to mind at the moment, who have stuck around, to take over or do something other than coming to a meeting here and there. People just don’t stick and stay where we need them to.

And you can’t ask or force anyone to do anything, either.

For the last month or so, I’ve been sick. The proverbial wall came up and smacked me in the face. And I did not like it, to admit that, I could not do something, kicking and screaming all the way, I had to give up responsibility for some of my chores to someone else. I really needed someone else to step up and be accountable.

My doctor said to me that for a while, until I finished treatment, that I had no other choice than to stay away from the baby, because babies are toxic breeding grounds for sickness and infection, inherently because they go to day care. And kids get sick. And they carry that sickness home with them.

And so over the last few months, being immuno-compromised, found that every time the baby coughed or sneezed, I got sick. This last round got worse and needed professional drugs to get better. I finally got “the message” when over the counter drugs stopped working. Because I was not “getting better.”

So I followed medical advice. I stepped back. And others stepped forward. And I took care of me for the past two weeks. I cut back my schedule. I turned things over to friends. I only hit half the meetings I usually hit, and I spent a great amount of time sleeping and resting, because that’s what my doctor said to do.

This week, as it happened, I began to return to my old life. But now, I am not as “responsible” as I was a month ago. I don’t have to do anything, at the moment. On Tuesday, I visited Baby mama and the baby for the first time in weeks. I also hit the Tuesday night meeting, for the first time in a month. I went for my visit, I stayed a little longer than usual, because I did not have to be “ON.”

I was able to just be me. I walked into the meeting, a friend is opening for me, the coffee was made, another friend was in the chair, and I could sit down, and go to a meeting, and just be me.

I can tell you that there was an entirely different vibe, that I had never felt before.

**** **** ****

The best gift we can give our friends is our presence. Being there, sitting with, showing up, and not necessarily having to do anything beyond, just being there.

I can do this today. Just be present.

Yesterday, I sat with one of my guys, and I listened to him work his Fourth and Fifth Step, in progression, in real time. I’ve never done that before, and I wasn’t sure just how to do that, so I prayed about it, and decided that it was necessary to see him through this portion of step work and that it just HAD to work.

Presence …

Tonight, it rained. Well, it pissed rain was more like it. Enough rain was falling to warrant an umbrella, but pissy enough that you really didn’t need one.

A young lady spoke. Turns out she is “family.”

So young to be so wise. She walked a long road to get here. But she is here, nonetheless.

In the end, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

She speaks about God and how she sees God, and connects to him.

She also said that when things are good, she is connected to God. She really doesn’t think about God. But when things hurt or things get tough, she tends to forget God, and she disconnects.

And she has learned that lesson the hard way. Now she respects the connection with her higher power, which she chooses to call God. and she says …

I am Always Ok …

We are always ok. It just depends on how we look at things.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Approaching Halloween – The GOLD Pill and the Week that was

tumblr_msohxxcSvW1qkwkmpo1_500 minhos21The weather is cooling off. And tonight, I am just burning up.

Last week, I was visiting the baby, and she coughed and sneezed on me, and now I’m not feeling 100% tonight. (It would get worse, much worse) Last night I went to the pharmacy to find some high powered drugs to take, because I was going downhill very quickly. This morning (Sunday) at 5 a.m. I was a mess, and thought for a moment, that the Pharmaprix on Guy used to be open 24 hours. I got dressed, bundled up, walked the four blocks over, (in a rain storm) and wouldn’t you know it, they were closed…

I came back home and got back into bed until 9 when the Pharmaprix at Alexis Nihon would open. Thank God for commercials. Because I went and got a name brand elixir to take to help me. I took a hit standing outside the mall not waiting to get home. I waited an hour, and it didn’t seem to be doing anything. So I took a second hit, that did the trick. I spent the better part of the day hacking into a tub. UGH !!!

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet, and spend your down time healing, so that you can go out for a couple of hours and do what you have to do, because you have the only key to that particular church basement…

I am still a mess.

**** **** ****

Last week, Tuesday, I saw my doc. He gave me a clean bill of health. And the discussion continued about changing my twice daily meds (that I only take once a day, but he does not know that) to a single dose pill. I get thousand numbers and nobody is none the wiser.

But I wonder if that has a direct impact on the fact that if the baby sneezes or coughs on me, I get sick within hours ?

The new pill is called TIVICAY. It is a single does HIV medication. That is combined with three other pills that I take, in conjunction with my other medications, nightly. I dropped the script at the pharmacy on the way home, and picked it up on Wednesday morning.

Canada has socialized medicine. We are covered by government insurance. We also have hubby’s insurance to cover other things we might need. I go to pay for my pills, thinking that it would not be so much, I was wrong.

The Tivicay alone cost $599.48 Yes, that’s five hundred ninety nine dollars…

In the end, I paid a grand total of $60.00 for a thirty day supply.

**** **** ****

I have been taking the new pill for almost a week now. As you might have noticed, this is the addition to this post, which I started on Sunday last, and it is now Friday October 30th.

I have been sick as a dog all week. I’ve spent a good chunk of money on medication that I am still taking today. Baby Mama ended up in the hospital on Tuesday morning because of an adverse reaction to medicine she was taking. So I took the entire week off, which is totally out of character for me, to miss a string of meetings because I was sick.

But my friends stepped up and helped me out. And so this weekend, I return the favor by opening a couple of meetings while my friends get a night off. It’s all good.

**** **** ****

Last night, I got out of the house for the first time in almost a weeks time, for the Anniversary party for Saint Matthias Group. I can’t remember the date at the moment, but they are in the high sixties, and can claim for fame that their group has been in the same location at St. Matthias for over six decades, when A.A. first came to Montreal in the 1940’s.

Quebec A.A. began with Dave B. A lone member. From there the group grew to twenty five people. A single meeting opened, and spawned two others. Rounding the meetings out was a third meeting at Snowdon. The Westmount meeting moved to St. Matthias and has been there ever since.

The house was uber packed, with probably more than 150 people in attendance. Our speaker came from the South Shore, a woman I have known for the entire time I have been sober. She is sober some 45 years now.

At the end of the meeting, before food was served, there was a sober countdown. Starting with fifty or more years of sobriety, there was one man with that much time. Counting down all the way to One Day, there was one man with one day of sobriety in the room. After the meeting, I said to him, that he was the most important person in the room tonight.

In the end, we counted more than 1,145 years, 9 months and 4 days of sobriety.

We did not stick around, as there were so many people scrambling for free food. So we came right home.

Tonight is my last night off. The pesky cough is still lingering, and my voice is half of what is was, so I get to whisper… UGH !

More to come, stay tuned …


Tuesday – The Baby Almost Killed Us All !

tumblr_lnf35rFEG61qg5qxfo1_500 falloftheromanempireCourtesy: Fall of the Roman Empire

I did A LOT of this over the last six days.

Our visit to the M.U.H.C. hospital last Monday, was the beginning of a weeks worth of pain and suffering. What we did not know then, was that a toxic mix of baby/gastro/sick kids was running rampant through the daycare where the baby goes during the day.

They did not inform the parents that this was a problem. It WAS a problem.

Tuesday morning I dropped labs, that I had some results on Saturday when I saw one of my doctors.

Wednesday, was the Madonna Concert. And like I said, when it was over, I was like, “Is that it?” I wasn’t particularly moved. And now I can safely say that I was hours away from critical mass, the incubation period for gastro was in process.

I had peaked emotionally, Wednesday night.

I had reached critical mass and exhaustion on Thursday morning.

Thursday as the sun rose, and hubby was getting ready for work, I come flying out of bed, and spent all of Thursday, ALL DAY LONG, hugging the porcelain bowl. You would’ve thought I drank a huge amount of liquor or something like that.

I was THAT SICK !

I was so thirsty that I went thought bottle after bottle of juice, several jugs of water, and six or seven ice trays of ice, trying to hydrate. The more I drank, the more came back up. It was so violent that by the end of Thursday, I had no voice.

It was Gone, Shot, See Ya !!!

Between bouts of being sick, I got dressed and went to the pharmacy to get some much needed gravol pills and Pepto. I stopped off at the grocery store for more juice, which was a no win scenario.

I slept through most of Thursday.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday were a wash out as well.

Saturday I had a doctors appointment, that I did make, But that was it for Saturday.

On Wednesday morning at first light, baby mama’s parents flew in from New Foundland to visit and to see the baby. By Friday morning, both were deathly ill. They came, they saw, and they got sick, themselves.

The second string folks who took care of baby mama on Sunday afternoon into Monday both got sick themselves. That would be seven people who were infected inside a weeks time and got deathly sick.

By Monday evening I was feeling well enough to attend our monthly GSR meeting. I had some of my voice back, so that was good. I came home right after, made some dinner and went back to bed.

I was out of commission until today. I went to see baby mama and the baby, on my way to the meeting. It seems, everybody is on the mend. This was the first time that we’ve seen sickness hit so many people in such a short time.

Babies are toxic … Especially when there are several sick babies in a day care.

None of us thought that we would get so sick, taking care of baby mama and the baby, in the hospital. That obviously was the last thought on my mind at the time. I had a job to do and I did that job, until I was finished.

What happened next, almost killed me.

Add sickness, toxic sickness, to someone who has a compromised immune system, this could have ended much worse, at least I did not end up in the hospital myself.

We return to regularly scheduled programming tomorrow.

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday – One Thing After Another

francisLocation: Syria, Subject: Isis Militants Those Killed: Gay men …

“You are Gay, and before we kill you, we will embrace you like a human.”

Then they stoned two men to death, in front of a crowd of people.

You think these words spoken by Pope Francis are timely ???

I still think we need a crack team of commandos to go in there and slaughter Isis militants.

Kill them as unmercifully as they killed so many people who should still be alive.

End of Rant …

Last night I cracked Connor Franta’s book, “A Work in Progress.” This afternoon I finished the read while sitting in my doctors office. (More on that later)

I read a lot of books. I have an entire library of books in my bedroom. An avid reader will probably know, words are everything. What words are used, how they are used, and what those words mean, in the context of the story. Every book is an opportunity to learn a little more about its author.

As I was reading, certain words and phrases jumped out at me.

Because he writes with very familiar phraseology, enough to notice if you are paying attention.

However, there is no mention of any kind of association, and he may just know the words, without the context I was ascribing to them. It may just be his writing style.

But if you ask me, it sounds all too familiar !!!

Our young author, in his twenties now, tells us his story. He shares with his readers just how important the digital age is to his life and by extension, the rest of us … “unless you are forty” you probably don’t know much.

He writes:

“The social generation has taken over. If you don’t tweet on the daily, receive dozens of likes on instagram photos, and know what the heck Tumblr is, then you best get to Googling because you’ve been left behind.

Or you are like forty …”

I found this was the only point in the story where I laughed out loud.

I am forty seven years old. I grew up in the 80’s. The only phone we had was connected to the wall in the kitchen, or if you were lucky, you had your own extension in your bedroom, and I did.

Social media was the local roller rink, or the shopping mall, (Dadeland or The Falls), or church youth groups, specifically. If you wanted to see your friends, you went to their house. And if they were good friends, you most likely spent numerous nights sleeping at friends houses, which I also did frequently.

Social media came late for me. My first computer was a gift from a friend in 2001, and that little box played the crucial role of connecting me to Canada. If it weren’t for that fact and a letter from the government, I would not be here today.

Anyways, social media. I am connected. This blog is nine years old. I have a You Tube account. There are actually videos, made by me, there. I Tumble. That’s where my photos come from. I joined Twitter a year ago to stay in contact with my friends, and that has grown into a social media platform for the blog as well. I have been on Facebook for almost nine years.

That is where I keep up with all my friends in one location.

With one click here, I can publish to all of my social media platforms, all at once.

Every gay boy has a coming out story. No two are the same. Connor is no different. But he was a blessed young man. Coming to know ones self is tough. Especially, when we think we are different. The process of coming to terms with sexual orientation can be long and arduous.

Connor figured that out for himself. On his time. In his own way. He chose who to tell, and when, and then he told his parents. They did not reject him, they turned around and told him they loved him and that that would never change.

How many gay kids get that kind of unequivocal support from parents.

I didn’t.

I knew, before I knew what it was. I listened and decided that coming out would be detrimental to my existence. I moved away to be gay, and my alcoholism followed.

The rest is history.

Oh to write our memoirs at twenty-something… He has his whole life ahead of him. A lifetime of experiences he has YET to have. People he has YET to meet. Places he has YET to go.

SO MANY YETS !!!

tumblr_ljxktkG7IG1qdizh9o1_500 lovepainandhopeI had things to do today, places to go, people to see. On any regular day, I just go with the flow and my days usually goes with little thought to the what, why or the how of it.

I left with plenty of time to make my three train transit and get to my doctors appointment early, because I am always early, in the hopes that I maybe get in the door early, and get out of there early for a change. (Thank God I had Connor to keep me company).

I arrived twenty minutes early for a three o’clock appointment.

There are usually a few people waiting. And usually two doctors seeing patients.

Not the case today. The crowd that was there were all seeing one man. My Doctor.

I read my book, and I finished it as well. And still I waited. When the secretary called me in it was four thirty. I am pretty patient when it comes to the doctor. So shortly before I got called, I calmly walked up to the counter and inquired how long I would be waiting.

While I waited my sponsor called. I was supposed to meet him at his house to pay for the retreat in May, today was the deadline for payment. So he called me and said that he needed to attend to one of his guys, and could we amend our plans. I managed a yes.

Not knowing when I would be back on the Metro to get home.

At four thirty I went in and started a conversation. About halfway through, doc got a call from someone who must be working at the new Glenn Site. They spent a shitload of money building that monstrosity.

Millions of dollars spent were funneled into corrupt people’s bank accounts.

They built the hospital without consideration for specific needs, for certain departments. So unclaimed space is at a premium. So I listened to half a conversation about what my doctor needs in the new hospital and why, then I heard the other speaking to the effect that, I don’t think we can provide for your needs as you need them, so you will have to take whatever you get.

Doc says … The lives of my patients are on the line here, the words “crash cart” were tossed into the conversation. So that is a thing he says …

The guy responds … Well, I cannot provide what you need.

Doc says … Then I will meet you and we will go to the site and figure this out.

Conversation continues for a bit but does not end with a positive resolution.

We then resumed our discussion, diabetes is being a pain in my ass, my numbers are too high, something needs to change. Then I tell my doc about the pill pushing for a problem I did not have, (and he checked my blood pressure and it was GOLD).

Diabetes doc prescribes a pill for my blood pressure. Tells me to fill it and apply for a home meter that would be free and get sent to me once I visited their site. That was four months ago.

I did not fill the script and I did not take the pills as directed.

So today my doc tells me that the pills he wanted me to take were not actually FOR my blood pressure, but FOR a problem called, Microalbumin.

Something to do with blood and my kidneys.

What the actual fuck ???

Diabetes doc did not tell me any of this. Probably because he had interns in his office doing their homework on ME. He didn’t tell me what he should have told me, instead he gave some excuse.

I did not take the pills.

Meanwhile, the words diabetes doc didn’t say to me, appeared in my chart for my doc today to see and show me on his computer.

So my doc says to me, take the pills and don’t tell George that you talked to me.

I was not very happy.

On the flip side, my T-cell count stands at 1,358. That’s the highest it has been.

I left the office at five fifteen. I had forty five minutes to make my three train transit back into town. I had to stop at the pharmacy and drop scripts to be filled, go to the bank, get my cash I needed and then hit the grocery store all before six fifteen.

My sponsor was waiting outside my apartment when I got out of the grocery store.

In the end, it all got done. I hate having to race the clock.

I was home for forty five minutes, before I had to leave again for the Thursday meeting.

Every meeting is different. And I have learned a great deal from everyone who has spoken on Thursday night. Tonight was no different. What we are seeing and hearing is older folks, in their fifties, sixties and seventies, coming into the rooms much later in life. Older folks, with a few years under their belts. The later the entrance, the longer and painful the run up to insanity and their turning point.

Tonight I heard something different.

People don’t hit their bottoms, there are no bottoms, only an elevator, and it is up to us what floor we decide to get off on.

Our man tonight shared and his message was simple …

“You don’t have to suffer as long as I did in order to get here.”

In other news, I hit another fellowship along with some of my sponsees who also attend those meetings. I am all for trying to forget my slip and the drugs I did, and marijuana I smoked. I try to forget it because it was a horrible stage in my life.

It is a place I rarely go. I never talk about it. And I like it that way.

But that is the issue.

The longer I sit in that room, the more the nightmares and memories haunt me. I am ashamed of the person I became, I don’t know how I could have sunk so low as to go from a middle class white boy who was just an alcoholic, to a looser, white trash, trailer dwelling, drug abusing, pot smoking miscreant with no hope of a life or a way out of the pit of hell I dropped myself into, without having an escape plan ready, should I have needed it.

In the end, I had one friend who knew where I was, who supplied me with the one way ticket out of hell, and gave me a place to recuperate after my near death beating experience.

That man was my angel.

When I made that transit, I never touched drugs or marijuana again. I never went looking for them again, even when I got back to Miami. I still drank, because it was easy and I had the money to pay for it. But even that got old in the end.

And I got clean and sober 100%.

I needed to find someone to talk this out with, I need to dump this shit on someone who can help me navigate this stage of my recovery that I seem to be embroiled in. My sponsor did not use drugs, so I needed to find someone who did. And I found him.

My friend who celebrated twenty seven years sober tonight, is my guy.

I love him to death. He is one of the greatest men I know. Tomorrow we are getting together before the Friday night meeting to chat this out.

If you are going to get clean and sober, then you need to hit all the dark spots and bring that shit into the light of day, so you can deal with it and get over it.

Easier said than done.

But it is a start.

All in a days work they say.

More to come, stay tuned …


Sunday Sundries … The Elevator’s Not Working, Use the Steps …

tumblr_lyv23dDgvu1ronyvyo1_500 tyleroakley

Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

*** *** *** ***

we_were_here_full_size_wb

Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

I remember What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …


Wisdom sets In … Motives … It takes Two to Tango

maybeThe city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

I guess I was right when I said last night that wisdom usually follows a question, and so it has. I sent an email to my sponsor last night before I went to bed, and he followed up with a call today to speak about what I wrote him. He said I did the right thing in opening communication, stating that I was long sober now and that I / we are getting old to harbor such resentments.

Every human being wants to be seen.

Every human being wants to be acknowledged.

Every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

So looking back on yesterdays post, the question that was posed tonight was, what are our motives and why do we do certain things? Beyond simple connection, my motives are certainly self centered. To make waves, to be petulant and to point fingers.

We, as alcoholics have done damage to others, for the most part, we try to avoid and not see our part in these damages.

Children of abusive alcoholics are certainly victims of indignities beyond their control.

So that is a thing.

When you tell a child that he was a mistake and should never have been born, you damage that child. When you beat that same child into submission continuously, you damage that child.

When that child grows up, he has learned that he was a mistake. That he should not be here, and that takes a toll on that person. And when you follow up that indignity with verbal abuse that he is an abomination and that (having contracted AIDS and is mortally sick) you remind that person that they are less than and that they should die already, what do you think goes through the mind of that person?

When I got sick, I, In turn got sober. I was doing the best I could with what I had. I was young, and I was dying. So I thought. The doctors certainly thought that. When family turns their back on you and humiliates you in front of others, that is an indignity.

I made several decisions during my first sober period that were all about me. I really did not have a sponsor, Puddles had moved to California so I was on my own then. What did I know about sober decisions and correctly motivated actions? First, I made a certain decision about my brothers wedding and I was only thinking about myself. I hurt some people in this process.

I would never be forgiven for that, to this day.

My parents lived in Sarasota and my father would come to Miami on business and he would visit me, only to remind me how abominable I was and that I should die already and leave the family once and for all, because I was unacceptable and an abomination.

One particular night he was in rare form after sharing dinner together, and he started in on me and I asked him to stop the car ( On the Highway) I got out of said car and told him never to come back and visit me until he grew up.

I walked away, down the highway and walked all the way home by myself.

You see my father fought in Viet Nam, (and he fell in love). That soldier was killed in action, Who knew from gay in the 1960’s. My father named me after a dead soldier. He abused me and beat me telling me that I was mistake. I realized that I, as a gay, infected man, would never live up to the honor of that dead soldier. Hence the name change.

Some time later I had a spiritual experience. It came and I acted on it. Again, another decision made in “all about me” mode. I must have been 28 or 29. I went to legal aide, spoke to a lawyer and soon after I had legally changed my name. I was going to reclaim myself once and for all so that whatever life I was going to have, would be of my creation. I would kill that person my father thought was a mistake.

So that is a thing. 

It was a complete dagger to my parents hearts.

My father, the man who for years abused me and degraded me, telling me that I was mistake, would get his comeuppance. I would have the last word for his indignity.

I went on with my life. I survived …

A long time ago, my soldier father met a Quebecois woman, (my mother) they got it on in a drive in theatre in a Ford GTO. And she got pregnant. My ultra Catholic grandparents most likely forced him to marry her because she was carrying his child.

My father buried a secret that I learned about throughout my life. He hated Gay, because he was a heterosexual man with homosexual leanings, and that was abominable to him. Internalized homophobia …

The dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.

She was STILL a CANADIAN when she had me and my brother.

In 1967 they were married, with me in the oven, at the wedding. I was born in July of 1967. My brother followed in 1970. My father wanted to purge every Canadian family member, ritual, tradition, and way of life from her. He would make her a God fearing, Blood thirsty American, if it was the last thing he would do.

My mother was naturalized in 1974, and became an American.

Fade to black …

Years later we came upon a lie about their actual wedding date. We were told they were married in 1965, and I was born in 1967. And we happened on that lie when on their 25th wedding anniversary, we bought a gift, had it engraved, only to learn the dates were wrong.

Hmmm…

I always say “Never lie to your children, because eventually those lies will come out.”

I stayed sober through my 4th anniversary. And followed several of my friends out the door and into my slip. I came back to Miami in 2000. I had a job that paid cash. I had a studio apartment just off the beach, on Miami Beach. My parents were really not a part of my life, unless they chose to be because I was a faggot with AIDS and an abomination.

When I got sick, they turned their backs on me. And humiliated me.

They had humiliated me in front of guests at a Christmas dinner a year before and I swore that I would never darken their door again. My mother accused me of indignities she thought I had committed on someone I met only once.

On New Years Eve 2000 – into 2001, I was working in a bar doing lights. I went into work at 7 pm on New Years Eve and left work around 8 am the next morning with a mound of cash in my wallet. I went to bed and soon after my phone rang, it was my mother on the phone, telling me that they were in Miami and wanted to see me. (They had been here for a week, but only decided to contact me on their way out of town).

I was happy to oblige. They showed up a short time later. My father parked the car in a no parking zone out front of my building and gave me twenty minutes to speak to my mother. We walked around the short block, while he waited in the car. I even offered to take us all out for breakfast, which they categorically said NO to.

Twenty minutes later, my mother got in the car, they drove off and that was the last time I saw my mother.

So that is a thing

In December 2001, I got sober the second time. I was given a computer which led to my meeting people here in Canada. One thing led to another and I received a letter from Canada stating that If I was born between certain dates, and my mother was a Canadian, that I could apply for a birthright citizenship.

Since my mother was still a CANADIAN in 1967, both myself and my brother were afforded birthrights into Canada.

You know what I did right?

I was living in a dead end life, alone, having to choose between paying for food, or paying rent, or buying medication. Because I could not afford to do all three at the same time.

A friend sponsored me into Canada, helping me pay the fees for the application. At Easter time in 2002, April or May, I traveled to Montreal. I stayed two weeks. I had filed for citizenship and went back to Miami, packed my belongings, got on a plane, and did not look back.

A few months later, I was living in Verdun. I got a call from Sydney Nova Scotia. An office worker just happened to pick up my envelope and opened it which began the paperwork process officially. Things needed to be added to the file.

It was then that Immigration Canada went after my mother.

Her paperwork was not in order regarding her naturalization papers and her birth certificate. They needed to be fixed OR they would deport her back to Canada. Needless to say my mother was not very happy with me.

I crossed the border. It was all about survival for me. I was going to have a life, or die trying.

That was the last straw for my father. I left the country of my birth, the very country my father fought to defend in Viet Nam. He told me I was spitting on my birthplace and my country.

That was unforgivable.

Once again, I had stabbed my parents in the heart.

Now I repeat … Parents are supposed to raise children into adults who make their way into the world and make something of themselves. And what ever decisions they make, whether you agree with them or not, you should at least respect them for their decisions.

Aren’t parents supposed to acknowledge their children’s successes?

My mother did in fact correct her paperwork and in February of 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. I hold dual citizenship today.

My parents were not happy with me at all. I worked very hard for two years trying to keep communications open between us, but in the end, I eventually failed.

My Mother’s last words to me were ” If either me or your father die, nobody will call you and nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

We never spoke again.

So I ask you, who was right, and who was wrong? And who is guilty ???

I got married in 2004. I returned to university and earned two degrees. One in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. I spent two years following that in Cegep, because I had those credits afforded to me by the government.

I have been sober 12 and a half years. Since my moving here my family and I have been estranged. And they say, it is All My Fault.

A few years ago, I found my brother on Facebook, and that twisted my heart. I tried to speak to him and he blocked me. And that broke my heart. I thought that we had grown up and could try and reconnect. That did not happen.

Facebook fucked with my sobriety in a big way.

On July 30th, this year 2014, the day before my birthday, my aunt calls to tell me that my father was on Facebook. And while we were on the phone I looked him up and sent him several messages hoping against hope that he would reconnect. He did not.

Once again, Facebook fucked with my sobriety.

On one hand I want redemption, and acknowledgement and finally some dignity and respect. On the other hand, I want to shoot off my mouth and incite anger and make a scene.

Not all very sober motivated actions.

I wrote here and asked the question. I spoke to my sponsor today and hit a meeting tonight.

And I got my answer.

Always Check your motives …

I did what I needed to do. I opened a door. Whether he responds, is entirely up to him, if he does re-engage or he does not re-engage, I am powerless over people, places and things.

I have to go on with my life.


It’s My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …


On Being a Tired Old Queen

mustoHello, My name is Jeremy and I am a Tired Old Queen !!! 40 is the new 30, and in a few days I will celebrate my 47th birthday. I survived AIDS and I am in a place I never imagined or dreamed of. I am in new territory and I don’t quite know what to do with myself these days, so we are figuring it out “on the fly!” by the seat of my pants… just the way I like it …

BY Michael Musto – Advocate.com

July 24 2014

The hookup atmosphere in nightlife may have died off, but now there’s room on the dance floor for an older generation. And you don’t even have to know who Liza is to have a good time with them. (But look up Liza, by the way.)

One night, at a nightclub where I was extremely popular, I tried to get into a VIP section, thinking it would be a piece of cake, as usual. But there was a new, 20-ish guy guarding the rope there and he was quite open about not wanting to let me in. As I walked away in dejection, I heard the guy mutter to a friend, “Tired old queen!” I was so horrified I nearly fell over and reached my inevitable death state. I was 29 years old — hardly ready for the glue factory yet. But in the gay club world, where aging seems to be particularly abhorred, I was already heading toward an AARP-like milestone and clearly not eligible for VIP status anymore.

And that was nearly three decades ago! By now, I should be a “tired old queen” times 1,000. I should be shipped directly to the Elmer’s factory on a no-return basis. I’m a walking billboard for the “It Gets Older” campaign, and someone young clubbies probably need to avoid, since older people are generally a reminder of mortality, not something anyone wants to think about when they’re drinking, dancing, and enjoying their own freshness.

But fortunately for mankind, it hasn’t worked out that way. I happen to have good genes, so I look younger than I really am — no, really. Also, all these years of immersing myself in creative scenes and writing about them have given me a certain cachet, so I’ve actually been getting more appreciation than revulsion these days. And I think there’s also been a sea change in the world, a “40 is the new 30” (and so on) feeling that people get better, not older — and gays, as usual, are on top of the trend. As people live longer and garner more visibility for it, there’s not as much ickiness surrounding the fact that they’ve survived. And survived. And survived.

I haven’t had anyone — even club kids — call me a “tired old queen” in years, and I’m thrilled about that. Of course there’s still a downside to being close friends with Father Time: For one thing, you don’t always get offered opportunities because the sense out there is that you’ve shown what you can do and it’s time to let other people try it. But it’s gotten better to be a TOQ, as long as you try to stay relevant without being too needily obvious about it. You need to keep up with the upcoming gays and their references without coming off like grandpa in a scrunchie. It’s important to not lecture too much or offer Sophia Petrillo-like stories of the golden days; they’re boring, even to other old people. (Except for the delightful 29-year-old story that I started this piece with, naturally.) But you also shouldn’t go out of your way to try to sound hip, unless you want to remind people of their grizzled aunt who insists on wearing bikinis by the public pool. In general, oldies should never act like they’re on the same plane as the young, unless they’re Madonna — the only one who can possibly get away with that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, sticking to my aged references may keep me in my comfort zone, but not in others’. Not long ago, I mentioned Liza Minnelli to a 21-year-old woman, who looked as blank as if I’d mentioned Russian composer Alfred Schnittke. She’d never heard of Liza, Cabaret, or even Judy Garland. Granted she wasn’t a gay man, but still, I thought for sure there’d be a little recognition bell ringing, even if just on the order of, “Wasn’t she in the Sex and the City sequel?”

But within the gay world, even preschoolers have heard of Liza, so things are OK. And as gay marriage becomes increasingly prevalent and paves the way for more people looking for partners who’ll love them when they’re old, I think the community will focus less on the vanity, self-consciousness, and fear of aging that has often plagued us in the past. We’re not as shame-based and superficial as we used to be — for the most part — and that carries over into the way we treat other members of the community and, ultimately, ourselves. Meanwhile, my own vanity has prevented me from joining groups like SAGE, which for 46 years has provided valuable support for older LGBTs, because that would be an admission of my wizened state that would be hard to turn back from. (It’s sad, I know, but getting older is complicated.) But I’m still ready to embrace many aspects of being an old gay, as long as my brothers and sisters make room for me and my hanging flesh. 

And they have been! Even in bars! These days, the younger gays don’t go clubbing to get picked up — they know they’re going to take care of that via various sites and apps — so the sight of a senior on the dance floor is no longer considered a horrifying cock blocker. More inspiringly, there’s also an open-mindedness about different types of people and their right to coexist, thanks to increased savviness, so the presence of an old queer no longer seems like a visitation from the Ghost of Christmas Future. If anything, the sight of Larry Kramer, Edward Albee, Harvey Fierstein, or maybe even little old me might perk up just about any party.

So when you see me coming, don’t start cringing and yelling “tired old queen!” Don’t even mutter it to your friend. Try instead to think of me as a welcome opportunity for some wit, insight, and Liza talk, as well as a source of information on the more oppressive (yet wilder) days of being gay. We finally woke up and were able to celebrate fat people as “bears,” why not treat older gays as pioneers and wisdom spouters? I won’t go so far as to say “Without me, you’re nothing,” but let’s face it, I definitely helped. 

Illustration by Paul Tuller


We Don’t have to live Alone

tumblr_n2w3uhcDia1rvyjllo2_500 spoonsdammitCourtesy:Spoonsdammit

With the weather holding, it was another stellar day. A bit breezy and not as humid as of late.

We hosted a small group on Tuesday night. And we read from Living Sober. It is good that the same core group attends, which means over the months we have progressed together, in a roundabout sort of way.

Working this Fourth Step, I realized tonight, is like a cork screw. First we looked at life in all its years, and what we felt (emotionally) from year to year. Then we made a list of resentments, fears and guilts. Now we are looking at each entry on each list, drilling down into the respective issue and scrutinizing them, sort of like a corkscrew going into a cork.

(read: the whole drilling down action)

I left a little early and I was mostly done with set up by the time the bells rung at six. Again tonight we sat a small group. We read from A.B.S.I. and We Don’t have to live Alone.

The reading as a whole, speaks about being alone, then the reading turns specifically to steps four and five. In the sense that we are not alone any more, that steps are the way to go, and that the process of four and five seem insurmountable, but working with someone (read: Sponsor), the word does not appear in the reading, but it is implied, Eventually all the stuff we are holding on to at some point must be discussed with someone else.

I thought about what “Alone” means to me. It is one thing to want to be alone, and wholly another when we are Alone.

When I was a kid, growing up, I was really good when I was alone in my bedroom with my stereo and my records, when I was drawing, ( I used to be a good drawer), or when I wanted to be alone, I could, in essence shut my bedroom door, that was my choice.

I also had bunches of friends. At any given time, I was never really alone, ever …

When I got sick in 1994, and doctors told me I was going to die, and everybody, including family scattered, I was totally ALONE. I know what that feels like. I know what it is like to be secluded, not by ones own decision, but by the choice of others. I know what it feels like to be shut away and excluded. To be sorted into a group of untouchables.

But then, people stepped in and I was no longer alone.

And for a while that worked for me. I got and stayed sober.

When my group of friends all moved away, I found myself alone again.

Not having the structure and the people around me who created and maintained some sense of normalcy to my life, I was left to my own devices, I (in essence) was pushed into the world that I was ill prepared for and did not know what to do for myself.

I stayed sober for a while longer. In the end, after being pushed aside by people of no matter, I pulled away and into myself. I started creating “alone.” I stopped reading the book, and talking to my friends ( at that point), and I planned my slip.

And now I am really Alone, in a place I was not prepared for, with no one to call, nor nowhere to run to in case I needed to get away.

I moved from point A, to point B, to point C.

At point C, I was living alone. I quit using, but kept drinking. I like to say that during this last phase of my drinking life, had I dropped off the radar, nobody would have come looking for me.

How much worse can it get that I was delusional, thinking that the drink would bring me inclusion and acceptance into a community I thought I so badly needed and desired.

I was drinking ALONE in a dance hall full of people, who probably never even noticed I was there. Big, Buff, Beautiful people don’t notice chaff in the same room, unless of course you look and act like they do.

This time around, I stuck close to the rooms. I learned how to be part of and I worked very hard at that for the last twelve and some odd years. I learned early on that if I needed “Anything,” read this correctly – If you need anything, you bring it to a room and you ask. You’d be surprised in just how great that works. If you learn this early on, that you are no longer alone, and that you can rely on us, that when you get to a need that you need, bring it to a room. Put it down on the table or into a group and you ask. You’d be surprised to find another human being very willing to help you attain what it is you need.

I’ve not been alone in a very long time. And I choose to live that way.

They say, “Now, you are not alone, anymore.

More to come, stay tuned …


July 8 2014 retrospective from July 8 1994

world-aids-day

Here is the story of that week from my journal.If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day.Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft.Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft.Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.

Tuesday July 5th, 1994

I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building.The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”

I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.

You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft.Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.

This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.

Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.

It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm. You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.

He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…

And he tried to leave it at that.

I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,

“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”

He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.

I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.

Friday July 8th 1994

the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.

I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.

I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.

“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.

Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “

“You are going to die.”

The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.

“Thank you for that information,” I replied.

He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.

I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.

He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.

So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.

I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)

I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!

I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.

That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove east towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…

I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.

Whoa, OK, one down … two more to go.

I had some dinner and proceeded to call my parents. You would have thought that an atomic bomb had been dropped on my parents’ house. My mother, having worked in the health field, said to me that I had gotten what I deserved. She and my father had had a week to consider this topic. We discussed my plan of action, and I called a family meeting that would take place in a week’s time. I wanted everyone to be informed and I wanted to know that I was not alone.

That visit did take place. And it did no good to ensure anything but the disdain and ignorance by my family to step up and get involved in taking care of the future. I had made my choice, by doing what I had done, and I got what was coming to me. My father had made that perfectly clear.

I still do not know, to this day, if James was the contact point of HIV. All I do know is that James was a diabetic and was suicidal. That he was sick those last few months that we were together, and I did his blood tests with his pen. I handled the strips several times a day. And that they tell me was the transmission point. I did not know he had AIDS until well after his death, when a friend of mine called me at work one day back in ’93 to tell me he was sick and had AIDS. I guess it took me a few months to “seroconvert.” This is the process the body goes through when it’s finally hit with viral replication and inception of a virus that the immune system cannot fight alone.

Over the next week, I chose my battles wisely, I told my inner circle of friends. The ones on the inside of the AIDS circle (that I was part of at work.) On the other hand there was the other circle of my “social friends” that had partied with us just a few days earlier.They would never set foot in my house ever again, in fact, and it was as if I had walked off the face of the earth, because I never heard from many of them ever again. The stigma of AIDS back then was deadlier then the virus itself.

Todd eventually returned to Ft.Lauderdale. My landlord and his lover were notified.

Interesting that many years later, I was at a Pride Celebration in Ft.Lauderdale, and my landlord’s partner was in a wheelchair and sick with AIDS. When we were friends at the time of my diagnosis, they were a happy couple, with all the promise in the world. I had no idea. I did not lose my apartment, my rent was frozen where it was, and they helped me pay bills and buy food. Within days Todd had returned and he came over and we talked. (God, we spent a lot of time talking!)

I was in self-destruct mode. And the stress of being sick with AIDS took its toll. I drank around the clock, I drank at work, I drank after work, and all I wanted to do was die. Todd did what he could at the beginning to keep me on the straight and narrow. He outlawed drinking while on shift, (I was working in a nightclub then) so that kept me sober while I worked.

I would then head out after we closed to the “after hours” club called the “Copa.” It was down the street from where our club was, and they served alcohol till 6am. So I had at least two to three hours to get inebriated nightly. That lasted until the end of August.

One night, I decided that the pain was too intense that dying was a viable option, seeing that I knew what all of the men I knew went through. I was at the Copa one night, and it was hot and I had drunk myself into a very nice BUZZ. The problem here was, I wanted more, and I got more. That night, I collapsed on the dance floor in an alcoholic overdose of gargantuan proportions.

I woke up in my friend Danny’s arms. The ambulance was there and oxygen was administered. I was still alive. That was the last night I drank. That morning, Danny brought me home and he stayed in my house for a week. I could not go anywhere except work. Todd was worried that I was going to try and kill myself again. So I had babysitters when I was not at work. I hit my first meeting on August the 23rd, 1994. By that time, most of the bar staff was all sober, and three-quarters of us were sick with AIDS.

Todd had a safe rule in effect. We had jobs, and we got paid. If we got sick, and could not come to work, our shifts were covered by someone on staff. We did not get fired for being sick. The bar secured for us medical treatment through the local clinic, where one of our friends named Marie ran a community clinic/drug farm.

Ken came to my house weekly to check on me. My world got A LOT smaller.

Everyone outside my work circle walked away. It took me a long time to get over that. They were punishing me for getting sick. Like I needed any more punishment!

The religious fundamentals were making their cases for eternal damnation for gays and people with AIDS, and speaking out whenever we went in public. Funeral homes stopped giving services to people with AIDS and their families because of religious and social pressure.

Life was difficult, But, I survived, because of the community I lived in and the grace of Almighty God.

In retrospect, “it was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.” and if God gave me a choice to go back and repeat any area of my life over again, it would be that exact period of time, and I would not change one single thing.

For years after my diagnosis, my friends died left and right, 162 people. The Names Project Quilt is a reminder of all the lives I touched and was a part of, and all the men whom I knew and loved.

All the men who were CRUCIAL to my survival (our survival) all the gay men who collected money for People with Aids, the drag queens we loved and admired and partied with over the year, the diehard supporters, are all dead now.

So many boys, so many men, cut down in the prime of life. We were foolish then, and uneducated. It was only after the storm hit that the reality start to sink in. When our friends started dying and we realized that “something serious is going on” did the community got smart.

We built infrastructure. We created homes and safe spaces. We cared for those on the streets, we collected money and food. We cooked and fed people, we washed clothes and in some cases we even changed diapers.

A year later, in 1995, I moved back to Miami, after Todd and Roy moved out west to San Francisco. I did not go with them, I was too young, and I had been banking on the fact that my S.O.B father would die and I would take back my mother. Well, he is still alive, all these years later, and I did not get my mother back. Do I have regrets? Sometimes I do. I sometimes think, “what if?” but that’s all they are, thoughts. You know what they say about living in “what ifs right?” So I don’t think about what ifs anymore, just what will be.

From my diagnosis date through the first eight years of my life with HIV/AIDS, I lived in the United States, and I speak about navigating a U.S. program of medical, social and government system. I immigrated to Canada in April of 2002.


Sunday Sundries … Do what You Do Best … Let God sort the rest out

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They’ve gone and changed up the editor and I am not sure how this is going to work, so here we go.

It is Sunday. The weather has been stellar as of late. Not too hot, with a breeze. Folks are eating it up. Already, some of my friends are talking about what they are going to do this Winter. A good plan decided ahead of time is always good.

I was out on time. And all the pieces came together which was nice. We had people aplenty for set up which took little time. Which meant I had ample time to hear a first step sitting outside amongst the trees in the church yard.

And as usual, we sat a good compliment. Sunday’s are a smooth operation. Everybody has a job,and we read from the Big Book. My Bottle, My Resentments and Me.

This story is the first of fifteen stories comprising the third section of stories from the back of the book. Tonight’s story was a full on assault of the senses. This section of stories tell some of the worst stories of what alcoholism did to our writers, and also how the miracle of recovery the program is. Stated simply, if these folks can get sober after such depravity and misery, then anyone can get sober.

The last line of the story is the clincher …

“Stick around until the miracle happens.”

It has been a full weekend. I got to spend time with my guys. I hit a few meetings, and had dinner with a friend prior to last night’s meeting. The Long Goodbye continues.

I’ve been on the fence about several things going on in my groups. And in talking with my sponsor, he is one with few words. He has given me simple direction with a few words, and not needing many. Do what you do best, trust God as He speaks and let God sort the rest out.

On the way home I spoke to an old timer friend of mine about said issues. And he told me that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all the people all the time. Do what you do best, and don’t worry about people and their perceptions about you or any given issue.

I know I am powerless over people, places and things, it just irks me that people have formed assumptions and presumptions about me in their heads, and that has informed what they say to me and how they treat me and how the group is affected. Some folks are cross at me because of what I do, like I had any choice in the matter. That is the way the meetings panned out. We all have our roles to play and our jobs to do. It seems that some people are not happy with the way things are, and so they think by stirring the pot they can affect change, whatever change that might be???

I am not in this for glory or ego and it isn’t all about me. And you’d think that men with lots of sobriety would know that. Which only goes to show that even if you have decades of sobriety, and you go to meetings, doesn’t mean that you are necessarily sober.

People are going to do whatever they do, without regard for your feelings.

And so I need to trust in the process and let god sort it out. UGH !!!

We are coming up on my 21 year anniversary of my diagnosis of AIDS on the 8th of July.

The 8th of July at 12 noon to be exact.

And we are halfway through the calendar, and this is the month of my birth to boot.

Harry and I share the same birth date. Do you remember the date ???

That is all for now.

More to come, stay tuned …

 


Thursday … So Long for Now … Changes

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Courtesy: Alex Stoddard (Archives)

The weather is looking up for the next few days. It could stay like this for the Summer as far as I am concerned.

The long goodbye continued tonight. My guys are coming to the end of their time with us, and our little community is growing smaller. We said goodbye to one of my guys at the Metro station, tomorrow is move day and Saturday he will depart for the rest of the Summer. Hopefully, he takes with him all the he has learned over the past four months. Canada Wide Calling is going to be very useful.

I departed for the church and met with my other guy for set up. He is going to be a much harder goodbye because he is moving from the city in the coming weeks. I will get to see him on his off days throughout camp weeks.

Again, we have filled him with everything we have got to give.

We read from Daily Reflections, Fear and Faith.

We carry one similar trait. Most of us carry a modicum of fear from our lives into recovery. And in life, a modicum of fear is a good thing, if only to remind us that we are human, and do feel.

There was a great deal of fear in my childhood. A lot of violence heaped upon a small child, if only because he had been born to a father who did not want him. And spent the better part of a decade trying to bring about the end of said child.

What do you do when you are drilled with fear, because you are unwanted, or better yet, being told that you were a mistake. Only to grow up and see the proverbial writing on the wall, and come to know your adversity.

And your destiny …

Then with time, one grows up and has made a life proclamation only then to be branded an abomination. That only adds to the fear of being “other.”

I never made the connection, in my drinking history early on, that I was drinking out of fear. I never blamed anyone for my drinking. I was taught that to be part of that we drank. So that is what I did. To fit in.

I was young and impressionable. I seemed to “fit in” I had all the right friends and drinking buddies. I was part of a greater “Whole.” A Community of sorts. The men I called friends took care of me and cared about me, seriously. They are all long dead now. For what it was worth, I would not have changed one bit of it.

Nobody said stop.

Life threw its curves, and I got sick. It was at this point that I began to drink out of fear. Fear of misery, fear of pain, fear of pain, and most importantly, fear of Death.

I thought it would be better to do myself in before the misery, to save me from what I was seeing in my friends lives. What do you do when a doctor hands you a death sentence and actually tells you when you are going to die?

Thankfully, Todd did for me what I could not do for myself.

He kept me close. He allayed my fears. He gave me a purpose and helped me deal with my fears with practical life lessons that paid off in spades.

I lived …

Most people I know, that means, most of YOU out there, probably never think about your deaths or the end. And you usually don’t think about death until it happens to you within family or friends.

For some of us, that came in spades. What do you fear, after surviving your death date? What could be worse than facing down your own death and surviving???

Everything else after that pales in comparison.

Yes, I went out and returned. The blip on my life radar.

I made certain choices and arrived here. I really did not fear the future because I had all my bases covered. I made sure, this time, that I was going to do it right, from the get go. And I did that.

There has been fear. But I managed. We managed.

I was never alone, at any point in my journey. I worked on my fear, resentment and guilt list on this fourth. All three lists are very short.

I am powerless over people, places and things.

I won’t ever get my day to state my case to certain people. I will never get to defend my life choices to state my case for becoming a grown adult man who is successful, despite the past and the way I was treated by some.

And I have to be ok with that.

I won’t ever get to say goodbye to certain people, if only because they set the rules and I have been forced to comply, not that I haven’t tried to assert myself. People die and I am here and they are there. What do you do when you don’t get to say goodbye? You go on with your life.

When people show you who they are the first time, Believe them.

I should have heard this lesson many years ago. It would have made it so much easier.

And I have to be ok with that.

I don’t fear my death any longer. When it gets here eventually, it will come on my terms, when I am ready to go. After I have fought death to the bitter end.

We choose when we will die. When we at last release our spirits from this life, in the hope of the life after. I’ve earned that choice.

Life is good. Life is as life is.

I have everything I need. And I am ok with that. I have ENOUGH…

I am working with some new folks as of tonight. We’ll see how that turns out.

It is trues that if a number isn’t used within the first 48 hours, it will never be used.

That is why we require a call every day. I am required to call every day, for my own sanity and sobriety.

When you know, Teach. When you have, Give.

There are always people waiting in the wings for someone to reach out and say, “I think you are important.” So let’s begin.

And so we have.

Pray for my guys. They need our faith and prayers.

More to come, stay tuned …


Crossing that Invisible Line …

wine statement

Today the sun came out. It was a very pleasant day. The warmth is being received by the millions, grateful for it. Snow is melting and there is even grass peeking out between the swaths of ice and snow that is still piled up at the church. Along with the warmth comes rain … to start washing all the snow, salt and muck away.

And you know what comes after that, right? The BIG CLEAN.

As is usual at the end of winter, all the garbage, paper, cigarette butts, and all the shit that has been trapped in layers of ice and snow over the past six months will have to be cleaned up.

Today my new Passport was delivered. YAY for that.

I departed on time and arrived at the church about 6, with the bells ringing in the bell tower. The Angelus rings every night at 6. We sat a small group. We were missing a few guys, one of my sponsees was getting an award at school and the other was playing the piano for the event. But because I am the only key holder, I could not attend. Booo !!!

We read from the Big Book, There is a Solution, and pages 21 and 22.

Somewhere in there it mentions that “Invisible” line we all cross, when one is not enough, social drinking goes out the window, and we wind up with the obsession of “MORE.”

For some, they don’t even see the line. Or don’t know that it exists.

A particular visual came to mind as we read tonight.

My parents always encouraged us to drink at home. It was a food group in our home. Nobody ever mentioned alcoholism, even though it was right there in front of us, and nobody dared speak those words. God Forbid the neighbors found out that someone was an alcoholic.

They found out. They did know. Nothing was ever said. Not a word.

After work my parents would come home from work and dad would hit the liquor cabinet or the bar, and mom would pop a beer, and usually, work colleagues came with them to commiserate.

My mother worked in healthcare and hospitals. At one point she was working for a company that supplied medications and medical assistance to people who were sick and home bound and those who had just been released from hospital and needed a little extra T.L.C.

Some of those people were gay. Many of them sick with AIDS.

I am a teen ager now. I’ve begun to drink. I was NOT out of the closet yet. But I was well on my way. This story is the trigger that I vowed I would never come out to my parents, Ever …

My mother would come home and talk about those poor “Faggots” who were sick and how sickened she was that she had to enter their homes and give them meds and actually help them survive, when she thought that they should be dead. That happened day in and day out for months, while she had that contract.

It was very sad and sickening.

Everybody would laugh.

I wasn’t laughing. At all.

My shrink, at some point, later on, was speaking about integration into the Gay Community. And the way that that was going to happen, was for me to go to a gay bar, and drink… And wait for the fireworks.

I drank at home, at parties. But this green light meant that I could drink without impunity to what end I wasn’t quite sure. I never drank one drink.

By the time I was of age, I had run through my beer days. Once I discovered the thrill of hard liquor, I never touched another beer again.

I remembered all those derogatory things my parents said about The Jews, The Niggers, The faggots … I was ashamed …

Growing up I had a friend from South East Asia, we were friends for a very long time, AND he would show up later on in sobriety the second time, (he was always not that far away), but I digress.

He had dark skin. But he was not black.

My father decided from the first day he met that boy that he would never allow a dark skin boy to cross our threshold and enter our house, God forbid the neighbors saw a dark skinned boy, (who might have just crossed the tracks) enter a white house.

Hence the bigotry and racial sickness in my family.

I would later come out, far far away, and only when I was diagnosed did I ever speak about it to my family, to my detriment. I was an abomination.

So would you blame me if I began to drink that hatred away?

Anyways … where was I ?

From the get go, There was Never just ONE. One what? One Beer, One Drink? The would be preposterous. How do you just have one and that’s it?

Being a third generation alcoholic, that invisible line had been crossed. I am sure that the women in the family saw that line and watched their spouses walk up to it, look at it, then confidently walk across it, as if it did not exist.

Because any real alcoholic, would never admit they have a problem or admit that they themselves crossed that invisible line.

And that became my life. The rest they say is history.

I suffer from the obsession of More. In many other areas of my life, and it has taken me almost 13 years to learn that I don’t need MORE.

I am good with what I have. I don’t drink, well, I didn’t drink today, as my sponsor would remind me, so that’s a good thing.

All is well in my world.

More to come, stay tuned …


Twas The Day Before Christmas

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Courtesy:MagicalNatureTour

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the mall,
Shoppers were shopping, I happened to join them
and I got it all …

It has been a quiet weekend here home alone. I must say that I hate being home alone. it is very disquieting. However I did get some nice sleeps out of it. I still cannot cook for one.

Today was all about shopping. Money from the honey came this morning and I was up with the birdies and I was off to the mall by 10 this morning.

It was a bit chilly outside, but manageable. I made two trips into the safari for some things on the way out and the way back.

The trains were not packed and the mall was quite calm. I didn’t see marauding hoards of folks trying to break down the mall to get stuff.

My first stop was at Lens Crafters to make an appointment to get my eyes checked – I really need a new pair of glasses. The ones I have are dying a slow death, and it has been years since I had them checked.

I am supposed to get my eyes checked every year because of my HIV issue, eyesight gets worse year after year, reading up close and seeing the tv menu is a bit blurry. So that appointment is on Monday next.

I opted to go look for frames early so hubby can come with me and help me choose the ones he likes. I found several cool, blue frames that are way cool. But they are a bit pricey, at a 30% discount with lenses and the frames.

I was saddened to hear that Crab Tree and Evelyn closed, which meant I couldn’t get hubby’s Christmas spray. And I didn’t feel like traveling all the way to Ogelvy’s to find it. Too much hassle.

I wanted to get in and out in the shortest time possible.

Hubby wanted a new fry pan, so it was off the The Bay to find it. They are a little pricey, but hell, it’s Christmas right?

I always try to find one meaningful present that doesn’t have to do with cooking or food. So I stopped in at my favorite Hallmark store and found just the right little figurine, a Hermy from Rudolph. That was pricey too. But hell, it’s Christmas right?

I came home via Atwater, thinking I might hit up Target on the way back to look see, but that didn’t happen. I bypassed the store opting for munchies at Micky D’s.

I made a second safari pass at Provigo for some last minute things, desserts for tomorrow and dinner for tonight. Quick and easy.

I arrived home near noon and wrapped my presents and placed them under the tree, I straightened  up a bit and now I am awaiting the return of hubby from Ottawa shortly.

We have a meeting at 6:30 this evening for the troops in NDG. I am hoping for a nominal crowd. Tomorrow, Christmas Day is an off day, and Thursday, Boxing Day is the Men’s meeting at 7:30.

Hope all of you are shopped, wrapped and prepared.

Merry Christmas

More to come, stay tuned…


Sunday Sundries … The Sunday Before Christmas

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Courtesy: TTG Greenwich Village

We seemed to have skirted the worst of the storm. Conditions were not that bad, seeing the storm was just getting started last night over dinner. It was more blustery late last night, today, it seemed the storm had worn itself out. Toronto got the worst of it.

I was up early today, knowing that the heat needed to be on in the church and that I would probably have to shovel snow, I departed much earlier than usual, to make sure the job was done by the time folks started showing up for the meeting.

And even in this inclement weather, we turned out a good group for the meeting. All our workings to keep the meeting open paid off again tonight.

It is the last regular Sunday of the month, and we began reading from the Big Book, and the “Keys of the Kingdom.” About a pioneer woman of A.A. from the 1930’s.

To begin with, a light discussion of young people in their twenties these days and how they were getting along and the state of things with the world wide web at their beckoning … was had before the meeting.

We were reminiscing about growing up in our days, the 80’s and early 90’s and then we read the first part of this story, and it was in the writers twenties that life began to go downhill because of drinking.

“… Doctors were advised to attend patients who could be benefitted by medicine. With the alcoholic, they could only give temporary relief and in the last stages not even that. It was a waste of the doctors’ time and the patients’ money. Nevertheless, there were a few doctors who saw alcoholism as a disease and felt the alcoholic was a victim of something over which he had no control. They had a bunch that there must be an answer for these apparently hopeless ones, somewhere. Fortunately for me, my doctor was one of the enlightened.

And then in the spring of 1939, a very remarkable book was rolled off a New York press with the title Alcoholics Anonymous…

the writer goes on to say –

… I stayed up all night reading that book. For me it was a wonderful experience. It explained so much I had not understood about myself, and, best of all, it promised recovery if i would do a few simple things and be willing to have the desire to drink removed. Here was hope. Maybe I could find my way out of the agonizing existence. Perhaps I could find freedom and peace, and be able once again to call my soul my own.”

B.B. pgs. 271-273

The theme of the night seemed to be “twenties.” And I have to say that I survived my twenties, I don’t know HOW I survived them, bringing to mind how much I was drinking, and how many dead end relationships and jackpots I had gotten myself into.

I believe you call it “barely living, and just barely surviving.”

I ended that bad run in Fort Lauderdale. In my last dead end relationship, and soon to be death sentence life. Thank God I made ONE fateful decision in that time period to enter ONE particular bar. And happened onto the man would would become my savior.

From the moment we set eyes on each other, it was love. More like deep respect, because from first glance he knew more about me than I knew about myself. I set forth a plan of action to prove myself worthy to be counted among his friends, and soon to be employees.

I was a drunk, on the skids. I faced several soul ending situations that, in mortal men, would have killed them, and I was surely on my way had those men in that time not stepped in to get me some much needed help.

Indeed I got sick. And indeed I almost died. Had not Todd stepped into my life when he did, I surely would have died a miserable death, like the friends we watched die around us in the ensuing years.

I got sober, August 23rd, 1994. I did meetings, and I read the book, but for the life of me, I cannot remember what I did with the book. Because in hindsight, compared to this time around, the book was not prominent in my recovery, had it been, at the time I needed it, I probably would have remained sober, and not pulled that stunt that took me out.

My twenties was a blur of time, I can piece together bits and pieces of memories. The sober moments in between drinking events. I left home woefully prepared for the Big Wide World. And for almost two decades, I was just barely existing.

It wasn’t until I decided in my mid thirties that indeed it was time to put down the drink and accept that fact that I had to grow up. There was no two ways about it. I had squandered too many years trying to recapture the fountain of youth, all to my detriment.

I worry for some of the young people I follow today. Wrapped up in a box and not having time on the outside learning valuable lessons to get them on in life. Lessons I did not learn until it they were forced upon me by time and circumstance. There had to be something more for me to find.

Luckily, grace came upon me and the rest is history.

I was relieved of the desire to drink. When I put it down and walked away, it was the last time I would do so, cross my heart and hope to die. There were only two occasions in early sobriety that I felt like drinking, because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. But I was successful.

By the grace of God and the fellowship of A.A. I haven’t had a drink in more than twelve years. I have a way of life that revolves around meetings, and serving others and the book.

That is all I know. It is life and existence.

I can’t change the past, nor do I wish to shut the door on it. Because for all the worst times in my twenties, there were, interspersed, moments of happiness and joy. There are specific moments I wished lasted longer, memories I wish I could write a more happy ending to, people I grew to love but faded from my life because of stupid decisions.

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times.

I survived it all, not for my own strength. Something greater than myself had surely been on my side, seeing I am still here, and can live to tell you stories about those times. I lament that I should have realized it then, early on, alas, it was not the time yet. There was much more furnace to burn me, years would pass before I get to the point that I had been burned enough. But for a short while I attained respite.

But stupidity and ego took hold, and I consciously stepped back into the furnace for a few more years of fire. Time and hindsight remind me now that if I don’t heed the oracle of sobriety, I am destined to repeat stupidity and ignorance.

Thankfully we have the book to keep us mindful of what can happen if we let our minds take us back to self and ego. We are reminded of our powerlessness against the first drink, and that the only cure, on a daily basis, is the reprieve from alcohol we get, based on the condition of our spiritual condition.

Christmas is just around the corner, and we will all be here to welcome whomever needs a place to go.

Merry Christmas.

More to come, stay tuned …