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Silence

Thursday … Step 3 … Humanity … Thoughts and the Weather

loveThe weather here at home has been stellar lately. Sunshine, breezy and very pleasant.

The shift in light and seasons is being noticed by some folks. I was standing on my balcony the other night, just as the sun was setting on the far side of the mountain and I noticed something I had never seen before. There are a bunch of windmills/turbines on the south shore that one can see from here, miles away, when the sun is right and there is not much haze in the sky. The same goes for the beacon lights at night.

The way that light moves around the west end of the city (where I can see) is quite incredible. For a brief few moments the sunlight wrapped around the west end, around the buildings and the highways and high-lit the turbines in a way I had never seen before. It was a picture perfect view, had I a camera that would shoot that far away. The sunset is different every night, it is never the same light two nights running.

So that is a thing …

It has been an emotional few days and I came up with new insights tonight at the meeting reading Step three with the guys. These are some new insights:

Every once in a while, When God sees fit, I am reminded of the vows I spoke on my wedding day. Usually, when I am not pleased with something, someone or myself, God steps in and points out that “Yes, You indeed spoke those words, need I remind you of them?”

For better – For worse, In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer …

I seem to forget these things when I turn on myself and attempt to wrestle my will back from God. I only get so far, before I fall flat on my face and cry uncle …

We are guilty of improper use of our will.

And once we made that decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God (as we understood Him) can we begin learning the proper use of our will and our lives.

I also did not think about the fact that Acceptance is the key to ALL my problems. Nor, did I stop to recite the serenity prayer like I should have. I am powerless over people, places and things, and that I accepted the life that I am living. I may not like it all the time, and that is ok.

I am only human.

We also learn in Step three that we, men, have problems sitting with silence and we would rather shock ourselves than sit with our feelings and the silence. I felt that as well this week. The silence was deafening. And try as I might, to fill it with something, I failed.

It was funny that I decided to perk less coffee because we always end up throwing some away at the end of the night, tonight we sat a full compliment and ran out of coffee before the meeting even started. That usually never happens. The summer season has brought dozens of visitors from out of town to several meetings that I hit. And they are making it to Thursday’s meeting.

It is said that, “At any given moment during the day, we are right where we need to be and are supposed to be.”

Once again, that word: Acceptance, rises from the book into reality.

All my guys are good. Two out at camp and one here with me. He took his three month chip tonight. It is incredible to see how far he has come in such short of a time.

The best medicine in sobriety is watching someone else get sober, from day one, over time.

To see the evolution of Person, of God and of Prayer and how they all work together.

It was timely that I got the last two weeks to chair, we spent two weeks on steps and next week is my birthday, a business meeting and a tradition.

Tomorrow I get to sit with my sponsor and talk out all this stuff with him. Then the usual Friday meeting and time with one of my guys in from camp. We are a couple of weeks from his departure from the country. The long goodbye continues …

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


You’re Gonna Feel a Little PRESSURE !!!

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… And somebody jumped on the rail this evening.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a crack in my head. Well, I felt the crack and then the toothache came. It came and went, and it came BACK and it went. A little toothache turned into an abscess.

We had to find the money for me to be able to get to see a dentist. The dentist is NOT covered, unless you are on welfare, and we are not that destitute. But an extra hundred dollars doesn’t fall from the money tree very often.

I knew there was a dentist at the old clinic space, she is there for a bit longer, but I learned today that they are cutting her loose soon, so I better get while the getting is good, she said.

MEMORY … Have YOU ever seen Bill Cosby Live, it’s an old show from ages ago, a stand up routine that he talks about his kids, and chocolate cake, and then he tells a story about going to the dentist!

I did not have a small problem to take care of, NO it went much farther than that. After my disastrous event of getting my wisdom teeth taken out some 14 or so years ago, I swore I’d never go to the dentist again. They did not pull 4 teeth, they had to pull 8 ! The wisdom tooth and the tooth in front of it. Uppers and lowers.

That was a sedation operation, on both visits. It was not pretty. That’s the only time that I consented and really needed high powered pain killers afterwards.

It took major pain to get me to rescind my ban on dentistry.

Last week I called the NEW clinic to get the special number for the dentist at the OLD clinic. Two days of phone tag later, I got an appointment for this morning.

It rained all day. Not a good omen.

I arrived on time, and not a minute before, because my nerves were shot.

I really like Dr. Fletcher. She is a stout British woman with wonderful chair side manner. Before any work was done I needed a supermax head shot.

Let me tell you that the BIG dental clinic on the third floor of The General, is, well, looks very much like a Morgue. They took me into this cinder block room, with dental chairs set in these rudimentary cinder block cattle stalls, a veritable, Little Shop of Horrors, kind of place.

There was that supermax photo machine in one area by itself. Take off your glasses and your jewelry, they put a condom on this bite bar, caped me in a radioactive smock, then this thing spun round my head and took a picture.

Oh, did I mention that only 1 of two elevators were working serving that side of the hospital. Bad Omen Number Two. People were not happy using the stairs. Especially people with canes and walkers.

I went back upstairs with my photos and got into the chair. We played a game of twenty questions, triage of sorts, then we discussed what I needed done, and what was possible on that visit. (Read: I need A LOT of work)…

The tooth had to come out, there was no doubt about it. She also wanted to do a cleaning, but looking at the photos, more important things took precedence.

I was leery, and a little afraid. I am not a very good dental patient. At ALL.

We decided on the extraction.

Along side the chair was a table of veritable torture items of a dental nature. And she did her best at not letting me study what was on that table. Especially the 6 inch needle ready and waiting for me.

I looked up and she grabbed my face and said “No Peeking!”

She had doused my gums with numbing agent and then she took that needle and started shooting my tooth on the outer side. it did not take very long to start feeling my face falling off my skull.

CUE BILL COSBY … “My Face, My Lip is falling into my lap, My Lip, My Face…”

So forth and so on. She looked at me funny, it was obvious she never saw that stand up routine.

She attempted to clean and did some mild scraping which I found to be disconcerting. She abandoned that track and instead decided to numb the rest of my mouth instead. She then shot the other side of the tooth. Half my face was numb, half my nose and the right side of my face.

Being happy with the freezing process, she began with the torture tools, first a small one, tugging and pulling, and she says

“YOU’RE GONNA FEEL SOME PRESSURE!”

I mumbled …

When she got to the big pair of pliers, I knew I was in for it. After several minutes of tugging and pulling the tooth came out, lock, stock and barrel. It was a HUGE tooth on the right hand side. She commented that I had Good Bones, and that it would probably be a Big Job. And it was.

She then had to stitch up the hole with thread, and I could see the thread she was using, tying, pulling and knotting over and over. The pain of the tooth being taken out, in the end, was worse than when the tooth was in my mouth.

I could feel a tightness in my head. Where she had stitched the hole.

We set a date for round two in a couple of weeks. And I dropped off my script for antibiotics at the pharmacy, did some shopping and came home.

The numbing agent started wearing off a little while later. And she said it might get messy. I had a handful of gauze packets in case I needed them, which I did.

I learned this when I got my piercing, especially where mine is located, that when the numbing agent wears off, THERE WILL BE BLOOD !

My head was throbbing. I needed a nap, a spit bowl and some pain killers.

I didn’t get pain killers. So Advil it was. And Advil usually takes upwards of twenty minutes to start working. I went down for a nap and slept until it was time to go.

It was blissful when the pain went away, finally!!

I cranked out set up, which was easy, because chairs and tables were already down, and we had an abbreviated group, due to the jumper causing a major line shut down. So nobody was going anywhere.

We talked about Step 12.

Everybody is happy. It was a quaint meeting with a few people. It is the last time one of my guys will chair because he leaves for camp soon, and after camp he is leaving the country for the U.S. and his PHD.

I will miss him.

That was a snap shot of my day in all its gory detail.

Hope you enjoyed. More to come, stay tuned …


The Easier Softer Way …

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Friday has come and almost gone. I left uber early to meet with one of my guys to plan his next assignment. His first 4th Step. We celebrated his three months tonight. People tend to celebrate milestones at the Friday Meeting as of late.

We read from A.B.S.I. and “Seeking Guidance.” The act of praying, and then actively listening for the response, and what do we do if that response does not come? What do we do next, as in the right decision or the next right thing.

The shares went around the room. And I listened.

After my conversation after the meeting last night with Mr. Google, I spoke to my sponsor about it. And before I went to bed, I rifled off an email to Mr. Google about half measures, balking, and willfulness.

I got a response earlier today, but I did not read it until I came home after the meeting. I wasn’t sure what kind of response I was going to get back.

And after the meeting I was on the way home with one of my guys and I spoke what was going on in my head with him.

When I went to Vermont, I met guys who were severely addicted to hard core drugs and alcohol. Addiction is not a game. This is some serious shit. This is our lives we are talking about here. This is not a joke or something to be trifled with.

When I speak to someone about program or sobriety, I want my words to come from the right direction, and the right place. That I am not just spewing bullshit from the left side of my brain.

I began “The Work” over a year ago, and my life did change. Shit happened. Shit that I did not expect, but I asked for. And because I did “The Work” the universe paid out in spades.

“The Work” is ongoing, it never ends. Sobriety is not a destination it is a journey.

The day you take your last breath, that’s when the journey ends. But until then, we keep going. Experience, Strength and Hope is cumulative. It is a mass of information you collect on the way, the shit that happens when we least expect it.

Maya Angelou said … “People won’t remember what you did, nor what you said, but they will remember the way you made them feel…”

I’ve been working days, weeks and months on life and on “The Work.” And it isn’t about my ego or that I know more than some, or that it is all about me. It isn’t.

I took the lessons that were given. And I practiced. I humbled myself before God. There is something miraculous that happens when you humble yourself before God when you drop to your knees and pray.

I feel the embrace. And I know, for me, that there is something that hears my prayers and does for me what I could not do for myself. One of my friends doesn’t believe that there is anything on the other end of his prayers.

I have time under my belt where practiced is concerned. I have spoken to very wise men in sobriety who have done the same. Men who I came to know and respect. They laid it all out for us. And you either took it and adopted it, or you wasted the time and left with nothing to carry back to your guys.

It is one thing, to spout from the book and the left side of ones brain. But it is an entirely different beast when it comes from pure, unadulterated daily practice.

This is no joke. These are our lives. The good news is, is that with a little practice and a little faith, and a little humility, we never have to drink again.

One day at a time.

I am very grateful for my guys and my friends.

More to come, Stay tuned …


Tuesday … Renewal … Spring … And that Little Voice

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Courtesy: Special Archives

The weather held for the day and into the evening. Still a little chilly for me, but nothing an extra layer did not take care of.

We here at the blog have been renewed for another year. This IS the best medium for blogging, and I am always happy to be here, a part of the WordPress community.

It was a busy day running errands and shopping and paying bills and preparing for my trip to Vermont in a couple of weeks. It is called the Mad River Barn Men’s Retreat in Waitsville Vermont.

It is quite the expense in the end. $120.00 for a fresh passport, $120.00 for the fees, and spending money on the side. I am told it will be fun, it better be for the price I paid for it.

I was off a little early, and my coffee mate did not turn up on time, but she got there to chair the meeting. I was pleasantly surprised at the turnout. Baby mama is making her goodbyes – she leaves on Saturday night. It is bittersweet, but we will be connected via phone and email. And it is all good because of the familial support she has and really needs, something she does not have here.

A bunch of friends I don’t get to see often came as well. And we talked about a reading from the Daily Reflections, and Step 2. The whole notion of coming to believe, and becoming aware of that still small voice.

One of my friends hit the nail on the head, and I had just spoken of it to our chair before the meeting. We all have that little voice. Most people know of it, some don’t. Those who do usually listen to it, but most don’t.

I guess it was there when I put down the drink. There was something there telling me what I needed to do, and the fact that the way things came together was simply, divine …

I followed that voice to it’s next destination.

In early sobriety we faced multiple issues, that I needed to step up and be present for and to take care of. And we got through them. And that’s the way it has been for some time.

But the voice crystallized for me when I turned 40, and the years that followed. That little voice became more pronounced. It was like, wisdom speaking to me. I knew what it was. I just wasn’t sure what to do with it.

We spend inordinate amounts of time imbibing or using, and that damage, does damage to our souls and that voice within. I did my share of damage and I am sure it took years to heal and renew. They say it takes seven years to renew a liver. And my 40th birthday would have been seven years later after I got sober this time.

I go to meetings to listen for the voice. Of God. I want to see my friends, people I look up to, men and women I respect. I want to hear what they have to say. That’s why we keep coming back, because of the communal nature of recovery. We can’t do this on our own.

Our slippers prove that to us.

They come a few times and they leave and don’t return, and they just fade away until something brings them back for another round.

I trust my intuition. And when I don’t I talk to someone who can help me. And in turn I get to share life with my guys.

May is going to be an exciting month. It is going to be great.

There will be more to come, stay tuned …


Belief, Kingship, Anarchy and Indifference

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Anarchy and the kingdom of wisdom.

Lifted from: Don’t Eat Trash …

Some of us go to the kings throne point at him and say “Oh, your pretty alright, I like your crown, and this throne room is pretty dope.” And then we walk out ignoring the kings power and authority and start stealing and murdering and what have you. Then our roads start crumbling, our electricity is shut off, our crops fail and we think… what happened?

We want to live in the kingdom, but we don’t want to honour its king. We live in anarchy whilst dreaming of a just and democratic society. But justice has a rule book. So do good crops, and if kings don’t get honour, or if kings don’t get even co-operation, why should kings do anything for their people? Why repair roads if the people won’t pay for them, or help with their upkeep? Why should the king pay for our electricity?

One cannot expect to acknowledge a king without giving him kingship and have that king be king. One must acknowledge and give that king kingship to be king over their lives, do build roads, to give power, to love and adore the people.

Justice, community, nation building, economics starts on the bottom. Or at least it should. By giving the righteous king his kingship. Anarchy will always breed confusion, instability and most likely corruption. But the uncorrupt king breeds love and belonging.

The lord by wisdom founded the earth
By wisdom he established the heavens.

There is a way to do things.
The king knows it.
Ask.

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I thought that I would not have anything to write for last night’s meeting, because the reading spoke of Anarchy, Democracy and Group Dynamics. I heard the reading and listened to folks share, but in the end I had nothing to say.

I did not stay for the business meeting because of people and personalities. I guess I am not yet over them. And Friday is the only meeting during the week where I Don’t have to do service.

Late last night I spoke to my sponsor about an issue on my heart. Something I thought was necessary seeing we are traveling to Vermont with people I have no respect or love for.

Living with AIDS/HIV has its perks and its drawbacks. I learned early on who to trust, who to love, and who to cut from my life on a dime. I learned to watch people intently. I learned to listen to them actively. And I’ve learned over the years that when people show you who they are, listen to them. Thanks Oprah.

I’ve told you of the two times I was told to go somewhere else to get sober. And those two events kind of define my life, in respect to who I associate with and who I will or won’t break bread with.

One of those men who were participant to one of those events is running in my social circle all of a sudden. He comes to the Tuesday meeting but still, today, won’t say my name in my presence. I’ve watched him over the past dozen or so years in the rooms. He has his issues, his anger and his perspective.

I may or may not agree with him, but I watch him nonetheless.

Speaking to my sponsor last night, I shared the event with him and spoke of who was present during the encounter. He was respectful that I could share intimate feelings of wrongdoing with him. I mean that’s what he is in my life for, to help me get better, get sober, in all facets of my life.

He listened while I talked, and did not interrupt me, and waited until I was finished speaking to give me his sage advice. He shared with me a story from his life in response to mine, to show me that he had shared my feelings that I was speaking of right then.

He told me to pray, and to meditate. And to send light to the man I feel animosity towards. I do what I am told. The best prayer I can offer in these terms is the resentment prayer …

“I wish you to have everything I want for myself and more.”

I did my prayers and meditation. During which I visit a friend who writes. He is a believer and a man I highly respect for his challenge to pray, work for justice and serve Christ as King, and God as Father.

And during my active meditation I came across something he wrote recently, and I posted it above for you to read for yourselves. It hit the nail right on the head.

I don’t speak enough of belief, or of the faith that I work on every day. Living side by side with death forces you to reckon with God. I’ve come to know God. I’ve learned how to seek and find Him. I know who God is and who God isn’t.

Faith takes daily work, daily prayer and daily meditation. I’ve learned how to do that. It is part of my daily ritual.

The past is the past. And the pain of the past has moved from a place of pain to a place of indifference. The past is there. I can look at it retrospectively. I no longer waste time reliving or fearing, or having bitterness towards that past.

I would be wasting precious time, pinning, or hurting incessantly.

It just doesn’t bother me any more. It happened, some of it hurt. But God has taken that pain and transformed it into Grace.

In the end I am indifferent to the men and women who maligned me. I don’t share space with them, nor would I ever break bread with them, ever.

So this man has reentered my life, and I have to share a car, space and meetings with him. And I have to be good about it. To be Christian in my love and respectful because that what God expects of us.

There is no amend to make. Just a movement towards respect. To see another human being, a flawed human being, trying to get better in his own way, and I must respect his process. And to learn from him, because he has more time than I do, but not as much time as my sponsor.

The whole point of this exercise is to one day be able to forgive.

Once you move from pain to indifference, And what once bothered you, doesn’t anymore, then I am ready to forgive.

Because it is always about me right? Wrong!

We are to forgive seventy times seven. And trust that God knows what He is doing.

And to remember that We are not GOD.

When life gets too hard to stand, kneel …

More to come, stay tuned …


Thursday … Stay “Here.”

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Courtesy:Mattnstuff

It is a little chilly outside. But warm enough for shirtsleeves. The weather is bobbing between rain and sun for the next few days. Today was a beautiful day. And days are usually quiet and serene.

My guys are traveling out of town tonight and tomorrow. It will be a weekend of checking in from far flung places. But they are good to go. This evening I called my sponsor and he is very interested in how I keep things so calm and serene. This is the ongoing conversation that we have been having. It took a long time to get here.

And it goes with the reading for tonight from “Came to Believe,” Getting Ahead …

“… I did not know then that if you want to get ahead with any degree of peace, you must first learn to Stay Here. It takes guts to stay here; it takes self-discipline and resolution. Anyone with sufficient energy and a one track mind can get ahead; witness the robber barons, the dictators, the demagogues.

But to Stay Here, you must know where you are before you can know where you are going. You must seek before you can find, and you must ask before you really learn to seek. It take humility to ask, patience to wait for the answer, and faith that the answer will come. These, it strikes me, are hardly bulldozer “Virtues.”

We have newbies in the room, and I picked up my Big Book earlier in the week as I was pondering what we would read, and we have rehashed so much Book, that I was bored with it already. So I went with the Red Book instead.

The first time you get sober is a gift, the second and subsequent times, you have to work for it. And that adage has proven true for some of us, who got second and third kicks at the can.

The first lesson that came after a few months of settling in was to “Stay in my day” and to work with the 24 hours afforded me on a daily basis. To keep my mind from returning over and over to the past, and also to keep my head out of worrying about the future or Tomorrow…

This is not an easy task at first.

Because we are hard wired by our feelings, and in the beginning I was saddled with thoughts and feelings that were about yesterday and tomorrow. And they kept telling me to keep coming back and to stay in my day. I mean really, I can go one of two ways … Depression that keeps me in the past or Anxiety that wires me to the future.

Why can’t I stay in the day?

It took a good eighteen months to learn this lesson, one day at a time. I am no longer ruled or saddled by the past, and I am not anxious about the future. Once I learned how to be good with the day I don’t have to worry (as much). It isn’t realistic to think that I don’t worry about tomorrow. I do. It just doesn’t consume me or occupy my mind for long periods during the day.

Things are good. I have been on a good run for a long time. I do what I have to do on a daily basis. My days have routine. (again, that was learned). I hit my meetings, talk to my sponsor and my sponsees on a daily basis. I keep it simple (stupid). And that tends to work. Much to my sponsors dismay.

He is fascinated with my ability to stay calm, because what alcoholic do you know, that can remain calm amid a disease of the mind? This is a work in progress. Daily work and progress.

Getting honest. Humility to ask for help. Patience to wait for an answer.

The practice (daily practice) of prayer … Saying the words, Meditation … waiting for an answer, is something we learn to do. Most people balk at this stage saying that they don’t have time to pray or to sit and wait for an answer.

Well, God speaks in many ways. Cultivating an ear to hear is the key.

We might pray in the morning and meditate for a few minutes, then we go on with our days. Meanwhile, we spend our days waiting for that answer. And you never know, when you sit in a meeting that the answer might come, from someone, not necessarily from God himself, and if you aren’t paying attention, you might miss the communication.

It is good to have a routine. To have things to do every day. To keep us busy.

Because left to our own devices, helter skelter is the norm.

We want to Get Ahead. And there is a way to do that.

Stick around until the miracle happens.

A good night was had by all.

More to come, stay tuned …


Robert Donald Logue

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I want to share a story with you tonight. A life story, of a man I never knew, but he was the man my father named me after, the day I was born on July 31, 1967.

He looks so much like my father did at that age. It is uncanny !!!

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Robert and my father fought in Viet Nam together. Robert was killed and my father survived. My father brought the ghost of the war home with himself, and with the family he would later create, the abuse of war became clear.
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I visited this man at the Viet Nam War Memorial in Washington D.C. in my teen age years. I knew where he was engraved. I heard the stories, but there was just something missing from the picture. My father created a shrine in his Sarasota home to this dead man. A connection I could never pin down as somewhat .. homoerotic …
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When you fight in war, your comrades are family and you go above and beyond to care for them and make sure they survive.
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Alas, Robert was killed.
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My father gave me his name. I guess he thought that he would honor his dead friend with his name going to his first born son. That honor only lasted a short time.
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For many years, my father would chase me through the house with bats, axes and anything else he could find to hit me with, saying that I was a mistake and should never have been born. It was a good thing that my grandmothers, and my aunt stood in between him and me several times because he surely would have killed me as a child. My mother never stood in the way or told him to stop. Because if she did he would go after her worse, and it was his rule that she never engage a beating …
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In my childhood I figured out who I was, and what I would become, far younger than when I learned what those words meant.
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Gay … Homosexual.
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I studied it, I read about it, from the various library my father had collected and left around the house for me to read, including the library that was in the garage for me to find.
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I knew I was different.
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I always said to myself that I always wanted to be like my father and that if it was good for him THEN it was good for me.
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I was like him.
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However, he thought I was an ABOMINATION and that I was a MISTAKE and should never have been born.
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Gay was unacceptable in our house.
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A good Catholic family could have no room for a gay son.
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Yet my father had Gay secrets in the house, by his hand and his decision.
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For all the years I was living under his roof he would abuse me heavily.
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My father was an alcoholic. It was a family disease.
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Alcoholism IS a family disease.
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He would go after my mother and my brother and I would invariably egg him on to hit me and not them. Was that chivalry?
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I played the organ, and quite well. I had achieved new heights in my musical repertoire. Until the night my father took my organ bench and THREW it at my MOTHER.
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That night I said to my father that after that alcoholic episode I would NEVER play another note as long as I lived and I never touched another organ in my lifetime.
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When I was introduced to gay men in the form of Elton and Garcia at my step mothers, home over dinner parties, my father got more brutal with his abuse. It got worse.
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I spent more time living at my friends homes than I did in my own to get away from my father and his abuse.
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I never came out to my father. I just moved away to be gay.
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A decision that dogs me to this day because when I moved away I was woefully UNPREPARED for the world at large. I made mistake after mistake. I drank my money and fucked over my father by getting my car repossessed. He paid off the dealer and I got the car back, but I know my father never forgot my lapse in judgment.
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When I was diagnosed with AIDS, I called a family meeting. And rallied the troops to make sure I had support.
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I did not get it.
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My father would say that I GOT WHAT WAS COMING TO ME AND THAT I SHOULD DIE BECAUSE I WAS A FAG !!!
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At a family Christmas dinner, my mother had a young friend in a neighbor that took care of her and took care of the house and the land while my father was about his work out of town.
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That weekend I shopped and bought Chris cd’s and gifts out of thanks. On the way home we delivered these things to his house not far up the block.
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My mother had a heart attack and accused me of many things.
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That night at dinner, in front of guests, my father sat me at a card table separate from the guests, with plastic plates, forks and cups because he did not want me using his utensils, and he HUMILIATED ME in front of a house full of people.
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The next day the family invited me out on their boat because they felt so bad for me. I never saw them again after that holiday, and it was the last holiday I ever went home to visit family.
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My father continued to come visit me in Miami when I was so sick. He would demean me and belittle me. And the physical abuse he heaped upon me as a child became emotional abuse.
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He never had a good word to say to me, so much that one night on the way home from dinner, he was berating me in the car, and I asked him to stop the car on the highway and I got out of the car on the highway and walked all the way home and I said to him to never come visit me again.
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On my thirtieth birthday I was sick. I was sure I was going to die. I used to watch Touched by an Angel. On that one night I was sitting watching tv and I had my Bible and a Pearl Jam cd in the other hand and the world changed and I heard the voice of God…
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It became clear what I was going to do.
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“Jeremy’s spoken … from my bible and that cd.”
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I called legal aide and set forth to change my name from Robert Kalan to Jeremiah Andrews. Jeremiah was the beginning and Andrew would come get me when I died, hence Andrews.
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I sent that name change decree to my parents. I had once again, nailed another nail in my father’s casket, so to speak.
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I had dishonored Robert and I had dishonored my father.
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And the sacrifice that has existed within me from the day that I was born. I killed that part of me that for so many years, my father wanted dead by his own hand.
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I got sober on August 23rd, 1994. And stay sober for four years. I went out and got drunk and high and regained sobriety on December 9th 2001.
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I was working in a bar as a light man on New Years Night 2000/2001.
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I worked until 9 am that next morning, January 1st, 2001.
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I got home and got into bed. My phone rang and it was my mother. Little did I know that my parents were in Miami for a weeks time and were on their way back to Sarasota that morning and wanted to stop by and see me.
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I had a lump of cash in my wallet. From my work shift.
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When they arrived I offered to take us all out for breakfast so we could spend time together. My father said NO that he was in a hurry and gave me twenty minutes … TWENTY MINUTES… to visit with my mother.
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We walked around the block, I don’t remember what we said, but my father waited in the car with the car RUNNING …
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She got back in the car and that was the last time I saw my mother.
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I moved to Canada in April of 2002. I had really dishonored my father by leaving the country of my birth to follow my maternal heritage. I became a Canadian Citizen in February of 2003.
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I nailed a further nail in my father’s coffin.
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My father married a woman and told her the rules. It was by his hand she was alive and that he would dictate the rules of marriage and life. He had knocked her up before marriage, and in those days that was tantamount to sin. So he was forced to marry her. We wonder what he would have done, had he not been forced to marry, hence, I was the mistake that should never have been born! Lies were told in a child’s life. Never LIE to your CHILDREN because one day those lies will come up and woe to you who said those lies, because they may one day come back to bite you in the ASS… One of those lies led to my Citizenship. They at least did one thing for me in a good way …
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The last thing my mother said to me after a year of trying to keep up communications with Sarasota was this … “IF YOUR FATHER OR MYSELF DIE, NO ONE WILL CALL YOU AND YOU WILL NEVER KNOW WHERE WE ARE BURIED ….”
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That was the last conversation I had with my mother more than 12 years ago.
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Fuck me for living …

11 Years. The Past Year, The lessons learned and the next phase, Year 12 …

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Courtesy:Thiswillnotdefineus (special archives)

I always try to find the right image to go with a post. This is one of those “right” images.

Monday December 9th, 2013. 12 years to the day I attended my Second First Meeting. I have said so many times in the past that up until that day I had already begun to talk to God. And surrender came when I realized that I was finished drinking, again…

We should all say a thank you to Troy for taking me to the meeting. I wonder if he is still sober today?

WHEN YOU KNOW RIGHT, DO RIGHT …

I think the theme of this past year has been “newcomer.” I may not have been a direct sponsor to anyone in particular, but I made a decision to leave my home group of 11 years to move to another Beginners Group made up of young men and women, with days, months and a few years of sobriety.

One young man in particular, one Sunday night, shared parts of his story about how he came in this last time. Struggling badly, he called his father in Europe. Our young man had been to meetings but found them not his “cup of tea.” His father flew to Montreal to see and consult.

They shared, and the question came … his father is long sober. How did dad get sober? And he confidently replied … In Meetings and A.A.

Needless to say he was floored. Our young man came in and got sober.

I did not know him very well when we met on that particular night. But something in him moved me because I spoke about him to a good friend on the way home that night. And ever since that night I have been keeping up with him, and over the last year we have become great friends.

And it is timely because that young man will give me my chip on Friday night December 13th at North End English.

All of the young men at this beginners meeting are special men. They never say NO when you ask them to do something for the greater good. And over the last year, I have had my hard times. I will touch on that later on in this post, suffice to say, when I needed a friend, they were there for me.

Like I said the theme is newcomer. And I feel like I have put my sober journey this year in the hands of newcomers. I’ve tried to practice presence. To be there for them as equally as they have been there for me.

I’ve not always been a good member. Because I have been less than forgiving with certain newcomers. And that is a fault.

A shift in my consciousness took place in May during the West island Roundup. Where we met for a weekend of talks given by speakers from New York City. My life has not been the same since. I wanted so badly to attain New York Sobriety. Whatever that means.

We don’t do sobriety like New York, here. Montreal is much more laid back. I have said in the past as well, that the women I know from Tuesday Beginners and Room of our Own, do it so much better than the men.

So I have kept my relations with them up to speed, even if we don’t see each other as often as I would like, because since leaving Tuesday’s I don’t see the women. But I call them often.

I’ve struggled with where I am going. I’ve struggled with sponsor. I felt at one point that we were both on different pages after the roundup because I went and my sponsor didn’t. He had his reasons, and I respect them.

But our relationship was changed in huge ways.

A long time ago, a friend of mine got sick with Cancer. And I made a conscious decision to be present to him in any way he needed. And I have honored that relationship to this day. We attend meetings together, and we are homed at the Thursday Men’s meeting, which we founded in May of this year.

Something happened a couple of weeks ago at another Thursday Meeting, my sponsor was there and after the meeting we chatted and he asked my friend if he was taking care of me … Now that I think on it today, my friend has been the closest thing to a sponsor as I have had. Seeing we spend a great deal of time together.

This is provident because yesterday when I talked to my good lady friend about an issue on my mind,  we touched on many issues. And I talked about my sponsor and she told me that maybe it was time that I moved on and that finding a new sponsor was important, and that once I did that, he would help me take care of my old sponsor. This is new ground here.

I’ve learned a great deal in the past year. Across many fronts.

In April of this year, one of my friends, another former member of the Tuesday meeting said he wanted to form a new meeting. And he pulled together a few hands, and I pulled a few hands together, and the six of us put together a new meeting. It was one of the biggest undertakings we had ever done in sobriety. It took over $300.00 to open a meeting, from space, to rent, to supplies, just to open the door.

The rest they say is history.

We have population. And a fine group of long time sober men. I was told that we should open the meeting and let God do the rest. He did …

I’ve had some issues with people and that has been a challenge. I did not do the right thing on several occasions, and I have learned from those lessons. I took for granted where I am at this point, and I forgot what it was like to be newly sober. As was pointed out to me recently. This is an ongoing issue that is on my plate right now.

MARRIAGE …

This year saw my marriage and my husband and I almost falling apart. That God Damned George Zimmerman trial almost killed us. Mostly because my husband finished his schooling and was homing in on his defense, and got pulled into this trial and spent every waking hour watching feeds from the states.

Our finances fell to an all time low. We were close to being broke. And I was not happy at all, and it wasn’t until the bottom of the hole was staring me in the face that I finally put my foot down and said something.

I relied on my boys like no one had. And they rose to the challenge with me and they took care of me. And I survived this test …

Yeah it went like this …

“I don’t know if I want to be married to you anymore!”

The earth shook, to say the least. And it seemed that God was watching from the sidelines, because I felt like I had been forsaken, but that was all to change. We survived his defense, and it went perfectly. And after that followed the biggest event in our marriage, hubby landed a job that has set us on new paths financially, now we have been digging ourselves out of the credit hole he put us in over the past six months. And that has been a challenge.

I’ve worked to be a good husband. And relationships are hard work, don’t let anyone tell you differently. Sometimes things go well, and sometimes they don’t. You roll with the punches and the tide.

I am not ready to surrender my marriage. Even though I came close.

Christmas is not far off as I begin writing this after 1 am on a Thursday night. Gifts are not necessary, but we do gift. Simply. We don’t spend oodles of cash on the holiday for material things. We do spend more money on my holiday dinner instead.

It is far better to cook, share and eat than be burdened by “Things.”

SUGGESTIONS TO THE CLUTTERER …

Lorna Kelly writes in a book about clutter and at some point you are long sober, that it comes time to pair down your life and rid yourself of all that shit you’ve collected over the years.

When we get sober, we are empty shells with baggage for days. We sober up, we clean up, we start meetings, and we start working our steps. And over many, many years, it seems, we clear out the wreckage of the past.

And in this eleventh year, I have read “The Camel knows the Way and In the Footsteps of the Camel.” And I think after several read throughs. I have taken to heart what I read because it made sense to me recently.

This new knowledge began the Great Purge of 2013.

This is recent information because it just finished the other day. Suffice to say that there are very few “things” we have kept, mainly because it doesn’t belong to me so I couldn’t throw those things away.

But I did toss every item that was communal. Shit from the balcony, old files, trash we kept and didn’t toss when we should have. I sorted through every piece of clothing we owned and tossed 2 boxes and 4 leaf bags full of clothing in the charity bin. Someone will have a Merry Christmas this year.

YOU MUST PROTECT THIS SACRED GIFT …

While hubby works, I am a stay at home housewife. I clean, do laundry, shop and do all those things that need to be done during the day. I have cultivated time to pray and meditate. Having the house to myself is a good thing because I can devote time to all my sober activities.

Prayer has become something I truly rely on. And I need reminders. That has been a theme in my life. Reminders… A good friend gave me a packet of prayer cards that I use every day. I have tacked the Third Step, the Seventh Step and Eleventh Step prayer on my computer So that the first thing I do in the morning is pray. And it is the last thing I do before I turn the box off and go to bed.

Sunday’s are a Big Book Meeting. Tuesday’s are Beginner’s Meetings, Thursday is the Men’s meeting, and Friday is for me, the As Bill Sees It meeting, where I will take my chip on Friday night. I have been religious about my meetings, and on those nights, hubby has his space aside from our together time.

Every day is different. The social tape that plays out changes every day. It is something that I have learned about after hubby fell sick Bi-Polar. That after he rose from the dead, the tape of the day began to play. And it took a long time to notice it, but it became very clear to me what the tape meant.

You know, the way you communicate with your husband or wife? The little inside jokes, the things only you would know? Sayings from movies, that are in common, jokes from comedians? The little things that pass between you on any given day?

We enjoy our time together. And every day there is something different. The tape is never the same two days running. When hubby got our cell phones, basically so that I could keep in contact with him while he was at Uni, communication took on a new purpose.

Many many years ago, when I was much younger I used to bar hop with my friend Ricky. We worked at R.C.I. together. And we hit up Uncle Charlies every night after work. He met his husband, on the first pass. They connected and have been together ever since.

They had a hole in the wall apartment with a card table, an old sofa and a few chairs. And over the past fifteen years built themselves quite the home.

I always longed to have what they had. And it took my coming to Montreal and sobriety to gift me that which I had so longed for. And it was on the first pass that I saw my then boyfriend, who eventually became my husband. And now nine years later we have turned that hole in the wall apartment into quite the home. We are climbing the financial ladder.

Those Pesky Ninth Step Promises were slow in coming. And just this year, the final promise of “fear of people and of financial insecurity will leave us” has come to pass, so I mention this gently and carefully, because I don’t want to jinx it.

That promise it seemed, was the one that dogged us for so many years. And I think that we have been fired in the crucible for so long, that it was finally time to get out of the heat of the oven. We have long term goals, some of which were promised to me long ago, and are still outstanding. I wrote about them in that long ago post “The State of Our Union.”

We have reached a new benchmark in our lives, and I am hopeful that the next stage of our lives will bring some good news. I hope we are on the up and we keep that momentum, because falling would be heartbreak.

MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO

Translated: Unworthy but chosen.

Pope Francis translates it as “By having compassion and by choosing.”

Just like John Paul II who believed that suffering and pain was sacred, that in the suffering one’s soul comes closer to Christ. Pope Francis once wrote that “Pain is not a virtue in itself, but you can be virtuous in the way you bear it.”

Living with a terminal disease only held at bay with a concoction of powerful pills, does not mean that there is not suffering, either mentally or physically. I have survived another calendar year. Which is no small achievement. This is part of my sober message to my fellows. People do not see death until it hits them right between the eyes. Living with “diseases” is for many a difficult burden.

People tend not to look at the inside of a person, because what they see on the outside looks normal and healthy. It has been a year of remembrance for me. It seemed that quite frequently there was some kind of documentary on television (READ: “We Were Here”) reminding me that I must remember, that we must remember.

It’s been a while, two years, since the last time I spoke at a meeting, which fell on my 10th sober anniversary. You could say that I am off the speaking circuit.

EMOTIONAL SOBRIETY

I don’t know if I am totally emotionally sober. I am finding that part of me holds on to old pain. Over the past few days I have written some stories about memories. And at the moment, I am of the mind that someone owes me an apology. I bore the burden of abuse as a child, defending my mother and brother, yet they stand unified behind a man who denies my existence and has shut off my light because of the family gospel.

I have this internal dialogue going on in my life and I hear myself saying things I so want to say to someones face, to shake them and throttle them close to death … words for my father, who has kept me in the dark and silence for the last twelve years …

LOOK AT ME GOD DAMMIT. SEE ME. ACKNOWLEDGE ME FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. I AM 46 YEARS OLD. GROW THE FUCK UP AND STOP BEING A SON OF A BITCH !!! YOU BASTARD !!! FUCK YOU !!!

There are many thing I would like to say and the one thing I wish at this point in sobriety is that I am heard, and that my voice counts. And that my life has not been a waste of time or effort.

But in reality, this may never come to pass, because in this family dynamic, nobody won.

Like Nelson Mandela, he had to rise above all the hate and abuse to become the man that he did, to lead a people and a nation. And holding on to hate and anger only would have tied him down, emotionally and mentally. He had to let it all go in order to move forwards.

Sobriety is the practice of letting go on a daily basis. If it doesn’t concern me and it isn’t my problem, then don’t entertain it. And if someone irks you who is fresh in the program, but for the grace of God, folks in early sobriety don’t have the time we do to understand many things. Life took years and years to come together and we can’t expect a newbie to come in the room and grow on with “miracle grow.” It doesn’t work that way.

It has been a long haul this last year. I made it and lived it, and nobody can take that away from me. I’ve earned this day, one day at a time.

AND ON THIS LAST NIGHT OF SOBER YEAR 11,
Sunday December 8 – 2013 …

It was early, and I departed early, and set up quietly. A good friend showed up and we had a good time. And on this last night of my sober year, I was reminded why I go to meetings. It is the holiday season, and people are suffering. And as I have alluded to above, I forget what it was like to be newly sober the farther I get from my last drink.

But they say that the farther you get from your last drink, the closer you get to your next drink ! Thank God for newcomers who come, join, and tonight chaired the meeting. I am reminded of the important points: Meetings, Sponsorship, Fellowship and a connection to a Power Greater than Myself.

A man came in with a friend, I could smell alcohol from where I was sitting.

And admitted that he was in bad shape, that he was an alcoholic. In a blackout he hit his wife last night, and he doesn’t remember the rest …

I’ve been there, the darkness, the not knowing, but I know what happened to get me here. I needed life, I needed sobriety, I needed something more than I had had and the only place I could get it was in a meeting.

Before the book was published, the Oxford Group had spirituality and six steps … (1) Complete deflation, (2) Dependence and guidance from a Higher Power, (3) Moral inventory, (4) Confession, (5) Restitution, and (6) Continued work with other alcoholics.

It all sounds so simple and it is – once you get in the door, you dry out and come to.

Then the journey begins. And what a beautiful journey it has been the last year. I would not be here if not for the people I call family, in my life. I am grateful to be reminded of what matters, and why I serve my home group, because if I do not open the door, then people would have no where to go.

And for that I am responsible !!!

Christmas is right around the corner.

THERE ARE 15 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

Thanks for your time and support all these years.


The Lesson about Approval – Let us revisit shall we

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The past is but a memory and all those memories I want to remember today must be written down. Trying to recall certain memories take more strength and brain power. There are periods of time that have faded from my memory, looking at pictures from my past is difficult because in many of them I am young, before I began to suffer from drugs and alcohol and those snap shots of life tell me about a time before the suffering began.

But the time that stands out in my head most importantly was all the years I spent learning to live and learning about life under the sharp eyes of my Master Todd. Those years at the Stud were very instructive and some of them were downright painful. But I had to learn these lessons or else I would fail at life.

This is where you suspend your morals and think outside the box because the rest of this story falls under the “leather Speak” portion of my story telling. You can stop here or keep reading. but be warned … i move from one space to another quite easily….

For every action and chore ended with a lesson about why I had to do that specific action or chore. It all had to do with some aspect of my life and how I would cope with that specific issue had it arisen later on in my life. If that lesson had to do directly with myself or how I would get along with others and also how possibly others could and probably would treat me. You never knew if you had good people or bad people in your life until it was too late. Sometimes you had to take what you got, and then other times you could pick and choose who would be in your life.

Where we worked – we were hand picked. The entire staff was built from the ground up and we all became family over the fourteen day “build” when we were building the bar from the ground up. We all worked day and night, sometimes without sleep. I paid my dues and proved myself worthy to be part of the team by picking up glasses and bottles and cleaning up after people, through blood sweat and tears I earned my place.

But it was all joy in the beginning. I would hold off on my own tragedy for a while those first few months working at the Stud. I faced my own demons and issues with others in my life. And I was a crash and burn alcoholic by the time that ended. I was drinking myself sick night after night because of what was going on in my life, I tried to drink away the pain.

I had to face my diagnosis with courage. I had my Master who listened to me speak, who cradled my head on his chest as I cried. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for him. But I was still a drunk, I had to complete my journey to death with the drink. And that is what happened.

Then one day I was told a piece of information that I had to take to heart and use every day from that point on. You have a life outside the bar, and you have a life inside this building. What you carry to the door stays at the door when you cross the threshold. Do not bring it in here with you. Leave it outside.

You come to work and you do what you are told without question. Do you understand?

Yes, Sir.

Every night there was something new to be learned. Every week I battled with my demons getting sober and dealing with the cascade of emotions coming from inside of myself. I just did not know what to do with them.

With every shift I worked hand over fist. It was some of the hardest times of my life. I would work happy hour from 5 to 8 p.m. by myself. At eight I would go into the kitchen to change up for the night shift. I was expected to prepare all the wells with beer, ice, liquor, fruit and cups. Then at 8 the bells would ring and the music would begin in the dance hall and the bar would open.

I worked like a dog. Throwing trash, filling buckets of ice, cases of beer and truck a shitload of trash out to the bin every night. And every time I completed a task I went looking for approval. I keep hitting lower case (i’s) i’m in bottom space.

You got to know what that means to understand the speak.

i would seek the approval from my Master to make sure i did something right. And it went on like that for a long time. Todd had them blue eyes like Jesus, that could bore into you from across the room. All i had to do was look at him and i would know what he was saying without a single word. But that was not the end of that. If he got angry his eyes would turn a stormy grey. You knew whether or not to speak to him by the shade of his eyes.

All it took was one look.

At some point, Todd caught on to what i was seeking. and he decided to teach me one of the hardest lessons i ever had to endure, which comes up as the one day that i would return to if i had the chance. i would come on shift and enter the office, kneel and i would get my marching orders for the night. i knew everything that had to be done for a particular shift. i was under Todd’s protection and guidance.

So the work began and the shift would come and go, and Todd and i had a special relationship of love and commitment. i needed him and he knew that i needed him in ways that no mere man would ever need another human being. And i worked for every word of praise and support that i could get. i thrived on that instant gratification. but that would end very quickly.

At one point, Todd took a tack, and did not tell me what was coming next. So i would get to work and work through my shift and the night would come and go, we had the best bar service team that ever was between Kevin, Tom and myself.

At the end of the night i would gather with the rest of the folks in the bar and the first night came as a shock, Todd would not look at me nor would he say a word to me. And that broke my heart. i would go home and sob. If you knew where i was in my head at that time of life, being ignored was detrimental.

The second night i would get to shift and Roy would give me my orders for the night, it was strange that Todd would not give me a word and that went on for days and nights. i knew he was watching me from the sidelines and i was not going to fail at my tasks, i would rather die than be told i did something wrong.

The third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh nights would come in succession and i would work through my tears and the pain that i was living through. This period of time came to pass not long after i was diagnosed.

i was working through all the things that had to be done. And nobody knew what was going on with Todd and myself except Roy. i don’t know if you know what it feels like to work day and night and know that the man you love is ignoring you and you don’t know why, but to complain was not my place. i had to take it like a man and do what i was told to do, no matter what came up. unless i was going to die or something i was never to complain, and i did a lot of complaining until i was back slapped into submission.

Finally the twelfth night came up. I don’t remember what day it was or what date it was, all i know is that i was wearing thin on being ignored by the man who meant everything to me. i would catch him watching me from across the room on several occasions but as soon as he noticed i was watching him watch me he would change tacks.

The shift came to an end and i was besides myself. i had gone twelve nights in a row working like a dog doing everything that i was told to do by any of the bar staff at any hour of the night. To disrespect someone in the bar was to disrespect my Master. That community saved my life and every drop of sweat and tears that i shed were worth every minute of it.

Todd called me into the office and i knelt before him, my head was hanging and i was sobbing. Whenever i would go into the office for shift start my role was boy and i knew my place so on my knees was where i would start.

He knew that i was in pain. He watched me struggle for those twelve nights. It was the harshest lesson he ever taught me. He got up and came round the desk and grabbed my chin with his big hand and raised my eyes to his, i was still sobbing…

“Well Done Little One …”

Those four words were gold.

i broke down and cried like a baby. He hugged me and held me while i cried. i don’t remember how long that lasted but the next thing he said was this …

“do you know why you were taught this lesson? no Sir. Sometimes we seek approval for things that we do and sometime later on in your life you might go to work for someone else who may treat you like shit.”

They may not appreciate the work you do and they may ignore you or treat you less than.

After that teaching, i never sought another word of praise from Todd ever again. i did my work and was proud to have work and a place to call home. The bar remained open for another sweep of seasons and we were all still alive. But people were dying left and right. i worked every night with pride in my heart and love on my lips. You’d have to know something about Leather Pride to understand this aspect of my life and why it was so important to my life.

Just reading this brings tears to my eyes …


Tap Tap Tap …

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“The way you make people feel says a lot about you.” Jordan Bach

Add another stellar day to the calendar. At the sun’s zenith this afternoon, it was quite steamy out. And the sweaty, dirty, humpy roofer men were up on a second roof just cranking out another new roof.

Several of these men took matters into their own hands as I watched them cut the sleeves off their shirts because it was so steamy up there, out in the sun.

They have another day’s work ahead of them, but the roof is covered and they still have a layer of roofing to put down.

It was a glorious day. I ran some errands, did some supermarket safari this morning after waking in the middle of a very strange dream.

I was on a sinking ship and then found myself in a foreign place, but at the end of the dream, I met up with someone who had been looking for me and knew my name and where I came from … The rest of the dream is gone and I woke up before I could figure out just what was going on.

That’s what usually happens in these technicolor dreams that take place at the very end of a sleep cycle.

I almost went back to bed to see if I could reconnect with the dream and let it play itself out, but that never happens either. Once a dream ends, it is impossible to reconnect to it, later …

I’ve not been able to work that one out.

So I got up – dressed – went to the store – got my laundry money and came home and proceeded to do laundry for the week since we were on our last pairs of underwear in the dresser.

You know its time to do laundry when you run out of clean underwear…

I departed early because I had stops to make on the way and I arrived at the church early and cranked out set up – I had brought a book with me but I was satisfied with listening to music on my phone.

I can’t get enough of Fleetwood Mac.

We sat a full compliment. One of our elder statesmen was in the chair. And he chose to read from Daily Reflections and The Spiritual Angle.

There was a healthy discussion of all things spiritual. From quoting the Big Book and hearing the sainted words of sponsors past, and what each of us has learned about the spiritual path, that is recovery.

One friend has returned to church looking for God, and in that quest to find God, he has a lot of questions. Then he said this … “I’ve never had a spiritual experience of the extraordinary kind, but the educational variety”

And I am half waiting for God to drop out of heaven and tap me on the shoulder and say “Hey, here I am, I wasn’t lost, you were…”

Another member said that if we only took the time to get quiet, and listen for that still small voice, we would make room for God to make His presence known to us.

Tap, Tap, Tap … “This is God, Here I am. I’ve been sitting her waiting for you to find me. All you have to do is look within and notice the breath in your lungs and the life you have – and there I am.”

I’ve lived a long life to this date. And there are many occasions I could tell you about where I saw or felt God’s presence.

The most important spiritual experience, well two of them in fact that happened when I was in seminary and just after I left was when David came to me after he had died.

The first time was the night of his wake – I was there. I returned to the school and went into the chapel to pray. I was alone, and along the back wall of the chapel were confessionals. I heard a door open and footsteps that moved from the back wall to the altar in front of me. The sacrament candle exploded and illuminated the high mural on the back wall above me.

And there was David, standing in front of me wearing my favorite shirt, the one he appeared to me in twice. And he said not to be sad, that he was free.

I have a Miraculous Mary medallion that his mother gave me when he died. I wear it still, to this day. I never leave the house without it.

The second time David appeared was in San Francisco. I had gone on a trip to San Francisco with colleagues. I went on a Mission District tour of an old church. In the graveyard was a life like statue of St. Anthony, our patron saint.

I heard a voice that bade me to follow. So I did. i walked into the church and up to the lectern and a voice said to me “look up …” I looked up and there was David standing on the balcony above the congregation seating.

God exists. And He does great things for us.

When I got sober the first time, God made manifest in the guise of Todd, who became my greatest champion. When I was sick, he took care of me, when I cried, He held me, when I was lost, he found me. And in my worst times, he lifted me up, unlike any other man, IN MY LIFE !!!

I did not die, But I lived.

There is a God.

Over the past almost twelve years, I’ve attended hundreds of meetings in the same space since I got sober. That’s many meetings. That’s hundred of people that have come and gone from those rooms.

If you want to see God – go to a meeting. Participate in someone else’s life. Watch them, over time, get clean and sober. 

See the life return, see the light rise in their eyes, and watch THEM find a God of their own understanding, trust me, you WILL see God.

You never know when something you say, may bring God closer to someone than He’s ever been.

I know that this spiritual practice we engage in takes time, and like all things, takes practice, prayer, and patience. I know that after all these years, my spiritual practice has given me words that are not mine at times.

During my days, a multitude of situations may arise. People come into my life right at the right moment, or vice versa, I come into their lives at the right time, because I get to share words with them. I find I have words in my heart that appear when needed and are useful.

Sometimes a kind word comes, a teaching, a lesson from experience, that I get to pass on to someone who might need it. And that has happened in the past few days. On a number of occasions.

When do you pray ???

It depends. It depends on the moment, and what is in front of me. I have friends all over the world by association and in person. Those people I know personally, and those I follow as part of a specific community.

Numerous times a day, someone writes … “Please pray for this or that…”

And momentarily, I stop and I say a prayer. I send light in a specific direction to a particular person. And in the moment I connect with the God of my understanding and WE participate in the life of another, if only for a moment.

Then, at the end of my night, when I sit here and close my day, I recall all those people from the day, and I mention them to God once more, as I give them over for the night into the hands of God.

I’ve learned how to do this over time.

I also realized today after hearing someone mention “church” at the meeting tonight, that he was sitting in Phillips Square … Which is a small square downtown with a statue and several street shops, where people congregate, and across the street from there is Christ Church Cathedral.

And this man walked across the square and went into the church, where he sat down, and eventually knelt to pray. And in that moment, he sat with God.

I realized that yes I go to the Cathedral for services on the odd occasion.

But I miss the sacrament.

I miss the tabernacle and the presence of the Body of Christ in the church.

There are hundreds of churches in this city. Most of them tourist traps. I used to travel to Old Montreal to Notre Dame Cathedral Church/Sacre Coeur to pray before the blessed sacrament.  I haven’t done that in a long long time.

But that message made itself perfectly clear to me as I was sitting in a meeting.

Is that ODD or is that GOD ???

I know for me – God exists.

I’ve made space for him in my life.

And that took almost twelve years of sobriety to realize.

And I think I will end on that note.

Goodnight.

More to come, stay tuned …


Crazy S.O.T.B. Revisited July 8, 2013 #19

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Cue the music – start the fog machine – blue light GOBO slow pans across the floor through dimly lit space, and the first beat comes…

I am alone, it is early, the bar is not yet open, but I am there alone. Just me, the music and the spirit of God. Well, what little spirit of God there was at that time of my life. It is mid-summer in Ft. Lauderdale. I have just told Todd that I was going to die…

He wept.

Over the next few weeks, the teaching would begin. The team rose to the call, one of the boys was sick and was left on the side of the road with nothing but what little dignity was left in his soul. All I needed would be provided come hell or high water. Wild Horses would never stop the charge for life. We were all sick, we were all dying. Save for two people in the entire organization. My champions would save me, if I wanted it or not. Death was not an option and I would either get it or I would die…

So it began…

At that time, the temple of sin was alive and things happened so quickly that if you blinked you would miss it. The temple was filled with every earthly delight, Dante would have been pleased with our Garden of Earthly desires, carnal, profane and truly sinful. I loved every minute of it.

The rule was set…

You have a life, outside the temple. When you come to work, you leave your baggage at the door, do not bring it in here. No exceptions. Come to work, and you will serve me your Master and do whatever you are told without question without complaint, is that clear!

Yes Sir…

I took that time of my life as sacred and profane, but that is another story. You can read about the Sacred and the Profane over there in Pages… This is another thread to a long running story of how this boy was made a man, a saved man, a profane man, and in the same vein Sacred. You never know where your lessons are going to come from, and you are grateful for the wisdom and time people took out of their lives to care for you and teach you lessons that nobody else was going to teach you. So pay attention Little One.

This is your life we are talking about…

The gobos are tracking across the floor slowly through smoke and mirrors as the music plays just for you. I learned very early on, in that space that music would identify particular moods, paint particular pictures. Farkle and I had a ritual. He IS the only one left from the fray of men who lived and died from the temple of sin. We began each shift in our own way, begging god another night, another day, another minute. I was surrounded with warriors fighting their own significant battles with AIDS. I was not hit by the KS demon. I was not plagued by things I saw and witnessed, thank the creator. It was ugly. It was brutal and it was most importantly the fight of the century for all of us. Many men went to their deaths in our arms. We bathed them, clothed them and in the end we buried them.

Read the rest of the story over there in the PAGES …


The Hands of the Mother

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Grace …

For many years now Mother Teresa has been a staple in my prayers and meditation. When I turned ten years, my two year medallion was gold dipped and engraved with the words: “I Thirst.”

From her Memoirs – Come Be My Light where she talks about Thirsting for Jesus as he thirsted from the cross.

That same week I got my first tattoo. Those same words, “I Thirst” translated into Hebrew. And is now on my arm.

This weekend we heard a woman speak at the Dorval Round Up.

And this woman, walked, talked, worked and lived with Mother Teresa. And in the end she was asked to testify for the Beatification of Mother Teresa.

At the end of her share on Saturday night, I stood in line and I grasped her hands and thanked her graciously. We all did.

And tonight it is a Pivotal Moment in my sobriety. After all my prayers, adoration and love Mother came to me, and to us.

We touched the hands of the woman who touched the hands of Mother Teresa.

She has come full circle.

I will never be the same man from here on out.


Sunday Sundries – That’s What She Said Edition …

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Courtesy: Altxy

All the rain they promised us – did not materialize. However hard it tried to spit rain over night. Enough fell to wet the streets and douse the trees with a little moisture, but significant rain did not fall.

It has been chilly on the side of cold, cold enough to warrant a hoodie on top of a shirt, because I was cold wearing only a sweatshirt this evening. We stuck to the tunnel to transit from here to the church and back.

We arrived at the church and the hall was a mess of people, tables and chairs all over the place and people were coming and going hastily. We learned soon after that the great St. Joseph’s Oratory Choir performed at the church this afternoon, hence all the people.

We sorted out tables and chairs, and stacked the piles of chairs and put the ones we did not need back in the store room. Clean up took a few minutes and then we sorted out the room for the meeting that followed.

We sat a fair number of folks, and finished our reading of Chapter Seven, Working with Others. The final passage we read deals with family and relationships and how to navigate sticky places in new found sobriety.

The best I can be when working with others, is just to be present. And usually God will direct the scene as He sees fit. That’s why we have the twenty minutes prior and twenty minutes after guide. Because that’s when we got to work with others. Presence, the greatest gift you can give to your fellows.

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

It is a parent day today. And navigating them is pretty artful. This is where I get to Debbie Downer a bit.

The last time I saw my mother was for twenty minutes on New Years Day 2001, when my parents arrived on my doorstep for an impromptu visit deigned by my father, but not long enough to create a “sticky memory” I don’t remember the substance of the visit or the words said, but I do remember the defiant “NO”  I got from my father as to hosting a lunch for the three of us before they headed back on the road to Sarasota.

End of that thread …

Honor thy Father and Mother … The bible says so. I don’t see the logic in honoring someone who does not deign to recognize or honor me.

Being Gay and HIV+ were always the kickers in our relationship.

But I thought that when children grow up and become adults, they should be able to make decisions for themselves hopefully good ones that will help them prosper and grow further.

I made two decisions in sobriety – the first and second time, that served me. I took my right to exist and to move on from dire straits and was punished for making  adult decisions. It was far better to be resentful and angry, rather than support a child in his decisions about his life. Fuck me …

My move to Montreal was fraught with anger. How dare I piss on my American heritage and dishonor my father by taking a birthright that was mine to take and leave all that I knew for a place that I would make my home.

Ohhh the anger …

My father spoke family gospel and what he said was the end all be all of any argument. And so it went. I spent a year, a calendar year, trying to salvage a relationship with my mother.

I wrote, called, sent packages, etc … to no avail.

My parents were so put out by my decision to move North that silence and punishment was their only recourse. But of course that was their modus opperandi.

The last conversation I had with my mother went this way … And I quote …

“If I or your father ever get sick or die, You will not be contacted, ever !!!”

That conversation took place more than 11 years ago. Fuck me …

Faggots do not get respect, nor dignity. AIDS ridden children get nothing but scorn and indignation. When the chips fell where they did people scattered, including my family. I had no choice or say in the matter.

I was fucked from the word Go !!!

So happy Mother’s day to you all.

How do you pray away the ache the rises in the heart about things you cannot change nor do anything to make better ???

I still don’t have the answer to that question.

It was a good day. Friends, fellows and a meeting. It can’t get better than that.

More to come, stay tuned…


Who Told Your Heart to Beat ???

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On any given day we usually nap between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.  These hours might change if there is something on the schedule. So it went, today, Thursday, we took an afternoon nap.

Today I was a bit preoccupied while I lay on my pillow, the thoughts about my heartbeat and the fact I was breathing through no thought of my own, I started having this inner dialogue in my brain about Who Told Your Heart to Beat…

My heart began beating some 46 odd years ago, in the womb of my mother during gestation, and it continues to beat to this day… Thank God … That’s almost half a century of my beating heart. And I breathe.

And I ponder the greatness that is “Something Greater than Myself” some all knowing and all being power that ordained all things and one one specific moment, that being divined that I should be created. I’ve since pondered the thought of the circumstances of my conception, was it in good faith, was it in haste, or just the horny man who coupled with my mother – probably in the back seat of my father’s 1967 GTO.

Who is this God who ordains all things? Who ordained the universe and everything in it. Down to us, his creations, the children of God. If you could look inside of yourself and see your beating heart, and hear the breath that you take in and push out, would we be more mindful of our lives?

I lay on my bed and I listen to my heartbeat. I concentrate on my breath that is coming and going. I don’t usually peer this close to myself on any given day and I think I take for granted that I am still alive today. But today for some reason I was pointed towards my heart. I take this as Divine Intercession.

That I heard something that pointed my attention on what was going on in my body, is divine. It was like, “hey, do you know who told your heart to beat? and do you know why you breathe?”

I don’t know who spoke those words to  my heart, but they were spoken. Because I am sitting here writing about it. Do you take time out during your busy day to stop and ponder your heart beat? You breathe, but do you consciously act? Are you breathing or is your breath functioning automatically?

Do you ever think about breathing or do you just breathe taking it for granted?

I think this post is supposed to get you to stop and notice your beating heart and your breathing body. And to remind you that in and amidst all of the things you do every day, your heartbeat matters.

Because if your heart stops beating or you stop breathing … You Are Dead !!!

Take a moment out of your day to honor the beat of your heart.


Ode to Armageddon …

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Sinai photographed from STS 109 – Shuttle Columbia March 1,2002 …

I’d imagine that if Armageddon was going to take place, this is the place we would imagine the first strike to take place, or the first event. It is 3:10 a.m. on Friday morning. Nothing happened, or should I say, nothing has happened

YET !!!

If you are a listener of Late Night Radio, ala Coast to Coast for any length of time you would know that all the crazies in the world listen to this show night after night. And we have been all through the list of crazies over the last year.

We have the ads for end of days Armageddon style food sales, you know, just for those moments when a disaster takes place and you need those ready to eat meals, They aren’t just for earthquakes and hurricanes Yall !!! If you have a spare couple of hundred dollars that you can plunk down for mass storage food stuffs, and you gotta have a place to put it all, and who has a spare bomb shelter in their property portfolio ???

I hear in UTAH that there are bunkers that have been prepared for today’s calamity to take place. I have also heard that the cleansing of the righteous from the non-righteous will take place today. That God is going to cleanse the earth of the sinful and errant peoples. That only the righteous will be saved from God’s judgment.

There is a town in Southern France that is supposed to be a vortex location and that when the earth meets its end, that the aliens are going to appear there and take away all those who fled to the safety of this mountain perch.

All over the tv tonight have been every kind of end of days programming. People trying to divine what the Mayans were trying to say and what that damned calendar and glyphs really have to say, since they are woefully incomplete, and the end story is all up to conjecture.

We’ve heard over the last year all those good preacher men who have foretold of the coming Apocalypse and twice they were wrong and God did not come screaming out of his heaven to take us all to heaven and send all the sinners to hell.

That would mean all of us LGBTQ folks. Because homosexuality is all so sinful and errant of God’s ways … Oh, I kid …

Did you partake in the hysteria of the end of days? Did you buy into the end of the world? Are you hoarding food, guns, ammunition and all kinds of food stuffs? Because you know, when the end comes later today it is going to be utter anarchy in the streets. People clawing and fighting for food and guns.

And those who are prepared for the end will be hunkered down in their bunkers and nuclear safe type hovels defending themselves from the marauding hordes of people who did not listen to the council of the folks who have spent the better part of the last year telling us all this it is coming and you’d better be prepared.

All this talk of financial ruin coming to the U.S. The wars over seas and the Arab spring running into Arab Winter. You never know if the Anti-Christ is going to rise from the desert sand of the Middle East somewhere like Iran or some other backwater Middle Eastern country. Because like I said above, if Armageddon was going to take place, you’d probably be looking over there for him.

I have read that the sun isn’t going to erupt in some hellish solar flare that is going to knock out the electrical and communications grids all over the world. And at this hour, I haven’t read of any earthquakes, tsunamis or volcanic eruptions taking place anywhere in the world.

And when you wake and come upon this entry – having said your prayers to whatever God you pray to the night before, you will rise and the sunrise will be glorious – just like the day before.

And I am sure on Friday night on Coast to Coast they will be hosting a night of checking in with all those folks who have added to the mass hysteria that today is supposed to unleash on humankind.

Did the ancients get it right? Will we come to rise above ourselves and grow in spiritual awakening? Will we rise to the next level of humanity overnight? And what have we learn in this exercise of preparing ourselves for the end of the world. And what will we say to all those folks who are hiding in their bomb shelters as I write this.

Will we see a nuclear Armageddon from the East? Because if we do, for those of us who could not afford a bomb shelter – we are all goners … So I guess before I go to bed I should say my final prayers – kiss my ass goodbye and hope to wake up tomorrow morning.

Today my husband is traveling to Ottawa to see his family, and it may be his last meeting with them if we are to believe that something BIG will take place tomorrow some time. Who knows.

It’s the end of the world as we know it. And when you wake tomorrow – what kind of world will it be? And what will we say to all those crazies out there sitting in their bomb shelters and on mountain tops and those fleeing the big cities into the interior of the United States and Europe because the oceans are going to swell and swallow up all the coastal land. God forbid you know that volcano on the Canary Islands that is supposed to blow its peak and send a tsunami across the Atlantic and submerge the entire East Coast of the United States.

You are all FUCKED !!!

Shall we make a prediction of what all will happen the day after tomorrow?

Sit tight. I will report more as the day progresses.

More to come, stay tuned …