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.
People who drink and drug, seem to forget their mortality, and their sense of well-being, once we pick up that first drink or a drug. I don’t know a single man or woman who has not said, in a meeting, that before they picked up, said to themselves, “this might kill me!”
It might not kill us right now, but given enough time and abuse, we bypass the jails, we bypass the institutions, and we end up Dead in the Ground.
There are warnings out there, from people in the know, that if you abuse drugs and alcohol, you too will eventually die. And usually quicker, when you play the mortality game with the Sacred Temple, that is our bodies.
A long sober lady friend of mine, who passed away last summer, used to say, about herself that, when she drank, in order to attain a certain goal, she would allow a man to “Touch the Sacred Temple.”
How many of us think about that fact ? None really, until it is too late.
I have many friends who tempted fate, with their excessive drug and alcohol use. We number in the double digits on Monday night. In many other meetings, those numbers are quite higher, because some of my long sober friends, tell horror stories about themselves. That is knowledge in the bank, for sure.
My sponsor, for instance, spent the last portion of his using days in New York City, shooting up and having sex. When he met his now wife, he had AIDS and HEP C. They procreated and produced a son who never tested positive. She never tested positive either, and when she learned about this fact, she was none too happy about it.
Imagine what she went through, getting tested over and over for nine months ? I can imagine, because I was on that end of a test myself a number of times, until I had hit that proverbial Jackpot and my diagnosis.
The good thing about my sponsor and I was this … We both ended up here in Montreal.
In the beginning, many years ago, I was treated in Miami for AIDS. And my doctors kept me alive. I was one of the first patients in that medical clinic to receive Phase One Issue drugs that had just come off the pike for use in general community.
That did not last long because of that little small voice that assisted my SLIP.
When I came back, I had fallen out of Florida’s State Medical insurance program, because I was out-of-state too long, and I had to start back at the beginning, which took longer than I had anticipated.
I had done myself in, so I paid that ultimate price.
My sponsor had been here for the entire 35 years he has been clean and sober. He, like myself, found the fountain of eternal life, in the doctors we both have today.
He had a double dose of reality with two major illnesses. HEP C is much more lethal than AIDS is, in the Big Picture. The liver is a serious organ. And if that one goes, the rest of you goes with it.
There is no coming back from HEP C, you are a dead human being.
I watched a very long sober man, when I first came in, many years ago, be well and healthy, living with HEP C. A number of years later though, his fate changed. The HEP C got the better of his body, and in a matter of four days, JUST FOUR DAYS, he was dead.
I saw him on a Sunday, and he was alive. On Thursday of that same week, he was dead.
My sponsor was treated by the best doctors money could buy, through the year 2014. After several treatments with Interferon, he went into remission. All the while, in Montreal, the city is well stocked with the luminaries of AIDS treatment professionals.
Doctor Mark … A life taken too soon. He was a master at his craft of saving lives.
We just lost a Major Luminary not long ago, our research Head of Science and clinical trials. My sponsor never took another drug or drink, after he got sick. He jumped the border and settled here with his family.
I was not so lucky.
After returning from my slip in July of 2000, to Miami, I would not jump the border until April of 2002. On my first visit, over Easter of 2002, I found a place to live and the doctor who treats me today. When I landed here in April of 2002, I was still not yet a citizen, and that took some time. In February of 2003, I was given my citizenship. Which cleared me for treatment in Quebec. (In the meantime – My doctor back home was sending drugs over the border to treat me while I waited).
Like our woman, in tonight’s story, who had found out her liver was failing because of the excessive way she drank, she had a choice to make when she got sober. For her, there were no two ways about it. She needed a new liver, and transplant teams, across the board hold to certain standards.
They aren’t going to give up a healthy organ to a drug or alcohol pusher…
So she had to walk through tests, some random, and some not. She had to adhere to certain rules of engagement. And like me, she waited for a liver to come, as I waited to get into the clinic I desired. Both of us put ourselves in mortal danger.
On our Own Dimes.
All three of us; our woman in the story, my sponsor and myself, all survived.
When I got into the clinic, I was given an ultimatum. I would be treated. In exchange for my drugs, I would become a drug test patient. And for the rest of my years, to this date, I am still testing new medications, as they roll out of the science departments in Canada.
Over these fifteen years, I have tested numerous types of drugs. Each patient with AIDS/HIV, is unique. None of us carry the same strain. In the beginning they tested all of us to Genotype and Phenotype our strains of the virus.
With that information on hand, as each drug came out of the lab, depending on what strain we carried, we would get certain drugs, that would work for us, so they thought. Which was why we were testing the drugs on ourselves. Because if they worked for us, they would eventually get passed into general populations around the world.
I had to adhere to certain rules and regulations. I was tested many times to make sure I was clean and sober, and every time I drop labs, to this day, they test me for substances.
There are no two ways about this sober life. I am not only responsible for my own life, I am responsible for every life that comes in contact with the drugs I am taking right now. There is NO ROOM for fucking up a treatment regimen because if they get failed regimen data, that drug becomes useless because we did not adhere to treatment protocols.
That Skews the data.
Folks who come to recovery, get off Track A – and they get to choose Track B.
If they choose Track B – they get their do over.
Medicinal patients in the program, know that they fucked up their lives, and if they want to live, they are going to make the Track B choice. Many of my friends who made that Track B choice, are alive because of cutting edge science, here in Montreal.
I can say that, without a doubt. I know several of my friends are alive right now, because they got clean and sober, and sought out medical assistance from our World Re-known Science Labs here in the city.
I know, like our woman tonight, for myself, I was in no way prepared to change what I was doing, when I got sober the first time. I knew I was going to die, and I also knew that I was not going to suffer like many of my friends did. I was going to kill myself with the drink, Until Todd got a hold of me and changed that outcome.
He did quite well, don’t you think ? He made a wise choice.
Until I take my dying breath, I will sing THEIR praises, because of the Goodness of God, made incarnate in Todd.
In the beginning we make the decision to drink and drug. To some extent we all know, we made that decision. It might not have been a logical decision then, and we may not nor never admit that in open community and for many an alcoholic and drug addict, the fear of death was nonexistent.
We chased the HIGH or the Magical Affect of Alcohol, not death in and of itself.
It wasn’t until we had that Mirror Experience, or we sat in a jail cell, or was told that we were very sick, and for a few of us, we were going to die, if we did not Shape the Fuck Up.
For many, that takes several kicks at the can.
Today, those of us who have made successive passes at the can, and did GET clean and sober, our jobs, in our community, is to drive that point HOME, that, if you continue on this path of self-destruction, You Too Will Die.
There won’t be another chance to get this right.
Many of our young women, early in the rooms today, were Itty Bitty Bad Asses.
The girls usually can out drink and out drug the boys. The Sober Women in Montreal, the young ladies and some of our older ladies, were serious party animals, and could quite clearly, out do their male counter parts.
Which is why we have to work twice as hard to keep the women, IN the ROOMS, clean and sober. Because if we fail them, they are dead women.
Some of our young men are just as bad, and always need that swift kick in their asses on a regular basis. I’ve lost several good friends to the beast over the last few months, and a handful of them as well, have slipped over the divide and are stuck in the proverbial revolving door of addiction and using.
I can’t seem to get them to be able to admit they are powerless over their drugs and alcohols of choice. They seem to think that a Friday “Night Cap” is good for them, instead of being responsible and smart.
How do you say that to your friends, and not alienate them from the fold ?
All we can do is be present.
We pay a lethal price for alcohol and drug abuse. But if we GET IT, we want you to KEEP IT and STAY. Because the alternative is jail, institution or
Bodies only last so long on this earth. Sometimes the damage is so severe there is no coming back from our using and drinking.
Some of us got very fucking LUCKY.
Never look at a chance to live again, twice. You might never get another chance.
Tonight, it rained … If there is weather going on, attendance is going to be down.
Tonight’s read: Virtue and Self Deception
I read the reading, and thought I knew what I wanted to say, and once I spoke my words, I realized that I had missed my mark. In retrospect, I lived my alcoholism in reverse.
The stories of most alcoholics usually begin with one innocuous drink, that leads to More. For most, but not for all, that’s the way it went down. Except for those people who started drinking full throttle from the very start.
I drank as a teenager. When I moved away from home, I started hard and strong. I’m not sure how I got through the first five years of my drinking. I do know that I would lie, cheat and rationalize my way into alcohol.
I was not a very honest young gay boy. Then again, none of us really were:
Young people today, have a sense of entitlement. Like we owe them something for just being alive .
I do know that I grew up in a home where alcoholism flourished. Nobody talked about it, and we always lived in fear, if we ever spoke about it to anyone outside of our four walls.
It seemed to me that silence gave consent. None of the men in our lives ever paid a price for their addiction to alcohol. My father was terribly abusive. In the end, he got away with his actions. All of them. He is a really fucking lucky man, that I did not retaliate, ever.
There were always loaded guns in our house. And Bats, and Chains, and Metal Tools, Knives and Machetes. He was very lucky that I never went in for the kill.
I do regret never beating the shit out of him, at least once, for the abuse he heaped on me. When I drank, I believed that I would get away with it. If the men in our lives did not pay for their problems, then I believed that neither would I.
I believed that if I pawned responsibility off on either of my parents, I would slide through, without being called on the carpet about my drinking.
Responsibility … That was the word I really wanted to talk about.
As a twenty-something, I was terribly irresponsible, EXCEPT when it came to being responsible for my drinking career. My drinking always came first. Everything else, came a FAR second and third.
I had a brand new car. I had to choose between paying off that car, or drinking. Can you figure out what choice I made ? A series of well told lies, brought the repo man. My father, did indeed, pay for the car, and I got it back, with nary a word about my drinking.
Did I feel guilty ? No. Not One Bit.
That motherfucker was going to pay his dues. He did.
Today, I live with that resentment high on the list of things I did that will never get forgiveness. My parents will never forgive me for my alcoholism. I will never grow up from that twenty-something that fucked them over, I will be guilty till they go to their graves.
Leaving home, was to find a life, a people, a group, ACCEPTANCE.
I was woefully unprepared to be an adult. And I did not have any clue about responsibility for my life, which is really ODD. When I lived at home, I was responsible for the house, for cleaning and the upkeep. I was my brother’s keeper as well. I had to go to school, which I did, willingly.
I graduated High School because I told a true statement to my Math teacher. I was a failure when it came to numbers, and I still am, to this day, albeit a bit better.
On the day of the final exam, I learned that all of my classmates got a preview copy of the exam and I did not. In the end I wrote a note on the last page of my exam. It said:
“I was the only student in this room, who did not get an advanced copy of your exam. Have a nice day.”
Regardless of how I did on that exam, he passed me.
I graduated High School.
When it came to employment, I was at the top of my game. I made good money doing that too, until alcohol began to cloud my judgment. As a much younger person, who had jobs, where alcohol was NOT included, I was successful.
When I began to work in my travel field, and you tossed in alcohol, all bets were off. I talk about this incessantly, many of the people I worked with and drank with, were as alcoholic, if not more alcoholic than I was. Getting on a plane on a Friday afternoon, to go somewhere exotic, so that we could drink, was not uncommon.
When I worked for a Very Big Cruise line, alcohol was served during work hours. And it was also not odd, to get on a ship on a Friday afternoon as well, to head to the Bahamas, and drink 24/7 while that ship was moving, and then some.
Many of the people I drank with got SOBER, well before I did. And nobody said anything to ME about ME.
I had to run my sordid, irresponsible, sickness ending road.
I WAS responsible for myself so long as alcohol was not part of my life equation. I knew what right and wrong were. I had morals, I was honest, I was responsible, at every one of my jobs that I had. My progression into alcoholism was jump started, when you added alcohol into my life, while I worked.
When I made the move away from home. My alcoholism followed me. And since my main goal, as I was directed by my shrink, to go to a bar, have a couple of drinks, and “see what happens,” was what I did.
My responsible sense of life went right out the window, because alcohol was the main ingredient, in my emotional, personal and sexual success.
I don’t know where my good values and honesty went. I think alcohol helped me to forget those values, virtues and honesty. Self respect went out the window as well.
I suffered from alcoholic delusions for a very long time. Like I stated above, my alcoholism began backwards. All those devastating things that usually take place at the END of ones drinking career, BEGAN on day one for me. I was an alcoholic who LOST BIG, from the get go.
I refined my drinking over the years, so as not to include anyone, but myself.
In the end I really did not need you. I had burned all of my bridges. Alcoholism helped me alienate family, friends, and coworkers. The one thing that alcohol still did for me, was to get me in the door when it came to the horizontal mambo.
Until I was diagnosed with AIDS.
Irresponsibility and really bad choices, mixed together with drugs and alcohol, pushed me over the edge, on one specific morning. In those days, in Fort Lauderdale, you could, actually, DRINK, twenty-three hours a day.
That MORNING, that I sat in a bar, and continued my drinking from the night before, I made a sexual choice, NOT a responsible choice, by any means.
The bullet was shot, and I had been hit with that bullet. Only, it took a year for that bullet to rear its ugly head in my body.
There was nobody saying to me – Maybe you should STOP. or Maybe, you should be more responsible. or Maybe you need to grow the fuck up, already …
Last night I shared with you Todd’s story.
The first choice I made, moving towards responsibility, was walking into Todd’s bar, that one night in 1993. Had I not done that, my timeline would have been fucked.
Todd – read: God, was waiting for me in that bar.
Another point I want to talk about is this: We know today, and we repeat this mantra to everyone who comes in the room that: If you put anything before your sobriety, you will fail, miserably.
I have AIDS, I was going to die, and Todd brought me to a meeting.
AIDS was a much BIGGER fish to fry than staying SOBER. I was juggling two very serious balls. And I had to keep both balls in the air at the same time.
If it were not for Todd, I would have died. I would not have made it out alive.
I was going to meetings, and reading the book, an Roy was my sponsor, who worked IN the bar with me. But Todd, was the Master in Control of my destiny.
I got responsible, it may have taken a while to get there, but I did get there.
Before Todd stepped into my life, for years before, not one human being, on my timeline, ever offered me a suggestion, a piece of advice, or uttered the word STOP.
I was working in the bar, drinking myself sick after hours, and my body was sero-converting all the while. The day I got those results, I figured that I would drink myself dead, instead of suffering the way my friends were suffering.
It was a very good thing that I did call Todd away from his vacation and asked him to come home, for me. He did that, gladly.
Todd took over and actually said the word STOP to me.
My education in survival began. My sobriety, took a back seat. If I did not survive, sobriety would not matter. I was going to meetings, marking time. The thrust of survival lead me where it did, because Todd was running the game.
For those few years, I earned dignity. I learned responsibility. I learned values. I learned morals. I learned Never to Give Up. To Fight for my life.
I was sober when Todd departed my life. I stayed sober for another two years. I moved to Miami, and went to a meeting, where alcoholics like me, heard me speak, and told me to Go Away and Not Come Back.
Imagine what that feels like, if you were fighting for your life, and fighting to stay sober, and have another alcoholic say the words: Go Away !!!
I disconnected. I became despondent. I took my life into my own hands. The HOLE in my SOUL, took over. Sobriety, took a back seat. I kept SECRETS. I told LIES.
I put the HOLE in my SOUL first.
I prearranged my slip, and orchestrated it to the best of my ability, because nobody at home really cared whether I came or went. Nobody was paying attention to me.
So Fuck It.
Eighteen months later, the cops were at the door, to extricate me from the house.
I came back home to Miami, with my tail between my legs. The year 2000 turned into the year 2001. I saw my mother ONCE.
On September 11th, 2001, we all know what happened.
Miami Beach was plunged into forced communal SOBRIETY – Because New York needed us, and drinking was outlawed for two weeks.
No bars, No Clubs, No alcohol and No drugs.
I would not get sober for another four months.
I was living in the DELUSION that if I just drank a little more, someone in the club I was drinking in, would notice me. I had lied to myself for years and years. None of those things I was told would happen, those things that needed to be lubricated with alcohol, ever happened.
I had my last drink. I was done, shattered, FINISHED.
I had to get over the border into Montreal, for my REAL SOBER EDUCATION TO BEGIN.
I was alive. I survived AIDS. I had money in the bank. A place to live. And I had meetings and the people in those meetings.
I no longer had any other fish to fry, I no longer had to juggle several balls at the same time. The only thing I had to do was STAY SOBER.
Responsibility began to set in. I had set myself up before I walked into Tuesday Beginners. And what did they do ? They gave me a job.
Coffee, set up, tables and chairs.
I did that over and over for all my years in the program.
In fact, I am still doing service at every meeting I attend, now almost sixteen years later. Because keeping it simple, always remembering that I need to act like a newcomer to keep it real, I do that gladly.
11 months in, Hubby came into my life.
My education in manhood and responsibility began in earnest.
The rest, you can say is history.
Today, I have values, morals, and virtues.
We all know that our “heads” are not places we go into, willingly, ALONE.
I know many things about myself. But I will never learn everything.
I am still alive. I am still sober. I am Responsible.
Fifty is not far off.
Responsibility got me here. Knowing I am NOT a saint NOR perfect keeps me here.
My belly button is NOT the Center of the Universe.
I am told that Step Three is very important.
Every day I have to make a decision to Turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understand Him.
There is a God, and I am not HE.
As long as there is breath in my lungs, and I get up in the morning,
it is going to be a good day.
This story is one of the most important stories i have ever recorded here. Among the many memories recorded on this blog, this story stands out as one of the worst days of my life.
Here is the story about the night i met Todd in 1993, ending on the day i said goodbye to Him in 1996.
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It was a normal night in my life. i had left James and was living alone. i drove to a particular strip mall and parked my car, got out, and walked into a little hole in the wall Leather Bar, i was not familiar with.
Nonetheless, that night began this life i live today.
i was a strange little boy, walking into that bar. i was not a regular, but a stranger. i knew, in my heart what i knew. Fantasies of magazines read, years before, in secret, when my father left them in the bathroom to be consumed, when he was not at home, were running in my head. i don’t think my father ever caught on that i was reading his gay smut left out, by a married man, who had a skeleton in his own closet.
Little did i know what was about to happen to me.
i ordered a rum and coke, and took a seat on a stool, in the area reserved for conversation. i sat for a little while.
There was CCTV in the bar.
And i was being watched.
From out of the shadows, walked a Shit Brick house of man. He greeted me, told me His name, Todd, and sat down next to me. He had those eyes of Jesus, water blue and as deep as the ocean.
i was transfixed.
One never knows when we will meet someone of His caliber, someone who can look into your eyes and divine what lies behind them. In a few moments, the man who sat down next to me, knew my innermost desires and the deep darkness of my hidden heart.
What happened next, stole my breath away and knocked me out of my known reality.
That Shit Brick House of a man, raised his hand, and slapped me clear off my stool and i flew across the floor. It was not a hit of malice of any kind, but a test of my heart. i think He wanted me to get up and say, “please, Sir, may i have another ?”
i don’t remember what i said, i think i was in shock, really. i knew that i loved him from that very moment. And i would do anything to be close to Him, in any way that that desire lead me.
From that moment on, i was beholden to Him. He knew what i was, who i was, and what i had intended on doing, when i walked into the bar.
In the days and weeks that followed, i spent every night in the bar. i met people. i met the employees, and in that bunch of men, would eventually arise, my first sober sponsor, Todd’s lover Roy. Who got sober one year before i had, in 1993.
i eventually quit my day job. And lived for my nights with Todd and His crew.
One night, we learned that the bar was closing, and would be rebuilt at another location on the other side of Ft. Lauderdale. This was my chance. I stepped up, with a few other intrepid men, and i became part of the wrecking crew. i remember that night, as if it were yesterday. The final view of that bar, was an empty space, that had been stripped and wrecked to pieces.
i had to prove my worth and i did just that. i worked for weeks, sweating, pushing and building the bar we called home from the ground up. Under Todd’s watchful eyes, i worked my way into Todd’s employ.
It was the most important decision i had ever made, up to that point in my life.
Todd took me in.
What we did not know then was, that Todd would become God as i understood Him, when i found out i was sick with AIDS, and was going to die.
i had survived James’ suicide, my diagnosis of AIDS, and i eventually got sober, at Todd’s command.
Todd would see to it that i would live. And here we are right this very moment.
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None of my friends today, would understand the life i had lived so many years ago. i am a particular type of gay man, who had a lived experience that nobody in my gay world today, lived themselves, which sets me apart from them, by this clear distinction of life experience.
None of my friends know AIDS like i know AIDS.
Many people, on the outside, in the real world, do not know the underbelly of the Leather World as i do. The world believes, in many circles, that Leather men are sick and deviant, and could not possibly know love, or live a proper life or have proper relationships. But we did.
And we Died.
When i studied religion in university, my mentor, friend and professor, taught a class about the Leather Lifestyle. He had a course outline, based on reading. i had life experience that proved very beneficial to the class reading and discussion.
i cannot express how these few years had changed my life and gave me tools that nobody else could have given me, in the way and method that Todd gave them to me.
I have said, retrospectively, that the day Todd walked into my life from the shadows of the old rendition of the bar we built together, God made manifest in my life.
I share this story now, because it is a good preface to the next portion of my life journey, because without Todd’s story, there is no life for me to speak of.
This is but one small chapter in a lived Book of Life recorded on this blog.
Writing is a full time job. Recording your life’s stories are some of the most beautiful and some of the most painful experiences you will ever write about.
This post is communion with the “God of my understanding,” who came into my life, when i most needed Him, and that “God of my understanding” has kept me here to share with you some of the most important stories and lessons i have in my memory arsenal.
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This is part of an ongoing story that i have shared here on the blog at great length. I was working at the Stud for a long time. From 1993 to i think maybe 1996. The bar had had it’s day and the crowds used to pack the house night after night. Those were the good old days.
At some point in the timeline, the owner of the bar had lost his partner Dennis to AIDS and things began to head south. We worked day and night to keep the bar afloat, but like i have heard it said before, sometimes you get your day and then it is over, and you have to move on to bigger and better things.
Certain people were brought into the organization and i was not very happy about that, in no uncertain terms. Ray was his name and he was bad news. He was a man who did nothing to gain my respect, but he muscled his way into the bar and into management – how that happened i cannot remember.
i was living a parallel life while at the bar. You’d have to know something about living behind the veil of the leather lifestyle. Living in this place for me was safe and secure. i was protected and cared for. And this strange man made his way into the bar and attempted to take over the running of the bar.
Todd was at a loss to stop this from happening. i did not like this man who came in and he did not like me because my alliance with my Master was absolute. And nobody was going to come between us, come hell or high water.
i went to work on shift one night and things had taken an ominous turn. Ray was sitting in the office and Todd and Roy were collecting their things and were escorted out the door by security. We had been overtaken by forces that we were powerless to stop.
i did not know what was going on or why? But i had my moment with Todd and He told me to behave and not make waves and to do my job. He walked out of the bar and that was the last time He and Roy ever set foot in the bar.
For a number of days – i don’t think it was very much longer than that that, i had had enough and ended up quitting my job, opting for a new position at another club in Miami. One of the DJ’s that worked with us landed me a good paying job at club Ozone.
Before i made that trek south, i had to deal with Todd and Roy. There was a secret that my Master never told me about, and i was never invited inside of that Fidelius secret for Todd’s own personal reasons. If you were invited into His dungeon, you did not speak of it to outsiders or anybody else. i knew one boy who was a friend who shared with me his secret.
Of all the fantasies i had harbored in my heart, none of them came to fruition. While working for Todd and living under the watchful eye of my Master, i was never taken into any man’s lurid world of S&M. Todd knew that i was a hard player and had i ever acted upon any of my fantasies with any chosen man in that bar, i could have gotten lost, hurt, or ended up dead.
There were men who abused boys in their charge. Some of them did die in the charge of some of those men.All of them died, within the space of two years.
This went on for a long time, and that’s why Todd had his rules about me in regards to other men that came into the bar. If you wanted to get to me, you had to get through my Master first. Nobody i knew of, ever asked His permission to claim me. It was better that way. i could come to work and dress any way i like and even act out all those fantasies going on in my head and had witnessed on a nightly basis in front of my eyes. Through the eyes and experiences of my friends and guests.
The day came when i was called to my Master’s home for one final job that was entrusted to me alone. He gave me the job of dismantling this secret room. Having heard about it in the past and finally setting foot inside of it, was a watershed moment for me.
Todd had taken me inside the Fidelius charm.
It took me two days to do all the work and it was then that i learned that Todd and Roy were leaving for San Francisco and there was no turning back. i was only 28 years old. i was still young and i had responsibilities that i thought were important.
Todd did not ask me to go with him. i think he thought it was better that i stayed where i was. i was still very sick and i needed the care that was being provided for me by Health Link. i had not ventured south to look for a new doctor to treat me yet. That would come later on.
i lived inside my leather head for so long that i was so used to what was going on. The day that i had to say goodbye to Todd came so suddenly. They packed up the truck and the car and i stood in the driveway at the house and sobbed. i wanted so badly to go with them, but i knew that i could not.
He hugged me and told me to remember all the lessons He taught me and that i knew where He would be. They got in the car and drove away. That was the last time i ever saw my Master, as the dust settled behind the car.
i was saying goodbye to the man who saved my life, the man i loved more than anyone else in the entire world. Todd took on the monumental task of taking care of me and by extension all of the men who worked in the bar. i was his favorite. It was me He chose to save at that time in my life. i lived every day to serve Him and by extension the men in the bar.
That life came to a screeching halt and the life i had lived for so long, was over. There was no turning back, i had to go on and find the way to survive without Him.
i cannot tell you how important a man Todd was to me … suffice to say, no other man has ever filled that spot in my heart. Not even my husband. He inhabits another part of my heart in other ways. There will never be another Todd in my life. i had Him for a season or two. And like they say, all good things must come to an end.
i had to go back into the world. i packed up my home and headed south to Miami to attempt reintegration. i had a job at the time and i had found a doctor to treat me. Dr. Jose would be my savior. He had access to drugs and treatments that i could not get in Ft. Lauderdale.
i remember walking around the city by myself trying to figure out how i was going to reintegrate back into the normal world and leave the world that i had lived in for so long behind.
i attempted reintegration. i failed, miserably.
i could not make it work alone, by myself.
When Todd and Roy moved to the West coast, i knew that i could not follow them, however, many of the men who worked at the bar did. Few of them are still alive, but a good number of them have long since died.
i harbored the idealistic fantasy that one day my father would die and i would go back and claim my mother back into my life and that i would remain at her side and take care of her as long as she lived.
But alas, my family never came together, my father did not die and the last time i saw my mother was on New Years Day 2001 for all of 25 minutes on their way back to Sarasota. This is one of those regrets that i have, that i stayed for family that never came to fruition. Family was a wasted idealistic dream.
i don’t know what would have happened had i gone to San Francisco.
i will never know. Because i am in Montreal and not San Francisco. i have spoken to Todd on few occasions since moving to Montreal. And I see Him here and there, in the business he runs today.
Protect in confidence this story, and please respect its dignity as well.
When I moved to Montreal, Dr. Mark Wainberg was researching AIDS drugs, like he had in decades past. I was one of his test patients at the Montreal General. Every drug that came out of his lab, went through Doctor Chris (my doctor today) and people like me, for the drugs to get to the world market.
I mourn his passing.
Dr. Mark is directly connected to my life as I live it today.
One of Canada’s leading AIDS researchers has died suddenly in Florida.
Dr. Mark Wainberg was in a Miami suburb with family on Tuesday when he had difficulty while swimming.
According to the Bal Harbour Police Department, his son noticed Dr. Wainberg was missing, swam out to where he was last seen, and brought him to shore.
“The victim had been in the water with his son, his son had lost sight of him. He didn’t know where his father was, so he swam out to where he had last seen his father – was able to retrieve him and swam back to shore with him,” said Acting Chief Mike De La Rosa.
“Other beachgoers assisted in bringing the victim onto the beach which is when we arrived. After fire-rescue was treating the victim, he was transported to hospital.”
Firefighters continued performing CPR as Dr. Wainberg was taken to hospital, where he died.
Acting Chief Mike De La Rosa could not confirm if Dr. Wainberg drowned or had some other medical condition that led to his death.
Dr. Wainberg was a world-renowned researcher who began his work on HIV/AIDS in the 1980s
His group discovered that 3TC, also known as Epivir and lamivudine, was effective in treating HIV.
As the founder and director of the McGill University AIDS Centre, and the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital, he oversaw research into HIV and AIDS in conjunction with dozens of scientists and several companies, including BioChem Pharma.
He co-chaired the International AIDS conference in 1984, and went on to become the president of the International AIDS Society from 1998 to 2000.
He also organized the 13th International Congress on AIDS in South Africa.
Wainberg frequently lobbied for more funding and more education about HIV and AIDS — which is one reason he chose South Africa as a place to hold an international conference.
Friends and colleagues said Dr. Wainberg was fantastic about encouraging people in their research.
“Thirty-five years after the discovery of AIDS and Dr. Wainberg would talk about AIDS like it was the first days,” said Dr. Rejean Thomas.
“He would transfer his passion to colleagues, to young doctors.”
Dr. Thomas said Dr. Wainberg spoke last week at a conference in Montreal, and told him he had no plans to retire.
“Working hard with passion, that would describe him. And doing for the patients, first thing, doing for the patients,” said Dr. Thomas.
His recent work focused on trying to cure HIV infection and working on different strains of the disease and their drug resistance.
Dr. Wainberg said the world should also spend more money on getting antiviral drugs to the estimated 7 million people living with AIDS in the world who cannot afford treatment.
In 2001 Dr. Wainberg was named to the Order of Canada, and made an officer of the National Order of Quebec in 2005.
He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2000, and in 2008 was named a Chevalier of France’s Legion d’honneur.
Wainberg is also known for advocating to change a controversial policy in Canada that barred all gay men from donating blood.
In a 2010 article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Wainberg and his co-authors suggested the policy should be modified to allow gay men in long-term, monogamous relationships to donate blood.
Two years ago Dr. Wainberg was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame for revolutionizing the understanding of HIV/AIDS at the medical and political levels.
Born in 1945, Dr. Wainberg would have turned 72 on April 21.
Published Monday, March 20, 2017 10:13AM EDT
European researchers say they have identified a key protein that can help them identify immune cells that are harbouring dormant HIV, opening up a new way to target these cells and pave the way for a cure.
Although HIV medications can greatly reduce levels of the virus in patients, there is still no cure. The drugs can’t kill all the retrovirus because HIV has a way of infecting immune cells called T-cells and then going dormant. The virus can remain inside the cell for years or decades, hidden from the drugs designed to kill it.
But if an HIV patient stops taking her antiretroviral drugs, the dormant retrovirus will “awaken” and rapidly begin reproducing.
AIDS researchers have long sought a way to find these T-cells infected with dormant HIV so that they can target them with therapies. But it’s remained a mystery how to identify them.
Now virologists at the University of Montpellier in France think they may have found a way to recognize these “sleeper cells.” They have identified a protein called CD32a that sits on the surface of HIV-infected T-cells.
Their experiments showed that healthy T-cells do not express the protein, and neither do cells carrying active HIV. Only T-cells hiding dormant HIV make the protein.
The team made their finding after placing T-cells in lab dishes and then exposing them to fluorescently tagged HIV. They watched cells become infected and searched for differences in the gene expressions between the infected and non-infected cells. That’s when they noticed the CD32a protein marker.
The researchers then tested their theory by taking blood samples from 12 HIV-infected people who were on antiretrovirus medication. Using an antibody that sticks to CD32a, the researchers were able to extract all the cells expressing the protein. As expected, all the cells were T-cells harbouring dormant HIV.
The research team says their finding paves the way to a better understanding of viral reservoirs. It’s also possible that CD32a could one day become a reliable marker of cells that are infected with dormant HIV, which could help in the creation of drugs to target these latent cells.
The findings are published in the journal Nature. France’s CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) has now filed for a patent for the diagnostic and therapeutic use of the biomarker.
Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Insitute of Allergies and Infectious Disease in Bethesda, Maryland, told Nature that the next step will be to replicate the findings by screening blood from patients of different ethnicities, ages and stages of the disease.
Fauci said he is excited about the potential of CD23a but remains cautious about the finding given the decades of research that have gone into HIV without the discovery of a cure.
My Aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy.
What would the world be like with NO Women ???
How often are women treated as second class citizens, toughing it out, trying to climb the ladder in work, taking care of babies at home, shopping, cleaning, cooking and everything else that us men, don’t do ourselves.
I think men fail to realize that WOMEN make the world go round. Women are under appreciated, and mostly scorned for wanting better for themselves.
I am a man of the late 1960’s.
My life was filled with women. Across the board.
It fell to the women of our family to do all of the heavy lifting, when it came to family, because all of the men in our family were saddled with work and alcoholism. And the women bore their crosses well, and rarely complained about their lots in life.
If it were not for the women in my early life, I surely would have ended up dead, because that is what my father intended from the very start.
We lived in Connecticut. Most of the family were concentrated in New Britain, but aunts and uncles were scattered in other areas, one needed a car to get to.
My Grandmothers, Camille, and Jeannie, and my Aunt Paula, were my main caregivers. I could not have asked for better people in my life than them. They provided for everything that I might have needed.
Back in the day, we lived simple lives. We did not want for anything, because we had everything we needed. I don’t ever remember any of them going without. But back then, there really was not much else we needed to “get,” like I said, life was simple.
We had a large family that was extended from Canada. The Québécois faction of the family always gathered at Aunt Paula’s house during the summers. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else in between.
I knew I was loved by everyone else, except my biological parents. The women in my life fought to keep me alive. In the words of Toxic Parents, my mother was the silent woman in the family. She did what she had to do to survive.
My father imported her from Montreal, and began to strip away every vestige of who she was, who she knew and he pried her apart of every family member that stood in the way of him making my mother, “In His Image.”
She would become an American Wife, if it killed him in the process.
For a long time, my mother gave us what we needed, and growing up, my brother and I, never wanted for anything. We climbed the social and economic ladder very quickly and very successfully. My mother was not perfect, but she provided. My mother, like my father, was a successful functional alcoholic.
As a young person, I listened very carefully to every word I heard come out of my parent’s mouths. And it was from those words, that I made my life decisions, because they openly shared what they abhorred, and sooner or later, I would become all of what they abhorred.
My mother suffered. And today she is a shell of who she once was, and is a miserable, insufferable, vindictive, bitter old woman. I don’t know who she is today.
I was the one who got out. Who broke the mold, and lived the life, in the end, today, that I was meant to live.
As I grew up, illness began to creep into our lives. And little by slowly, the women in my life began to disappear. My brother and I would travel North to visit family on vacations and during the summer.
Memories of my brother are negligible. He is not a person who is heavily imprinted in my memory at all. My brother, taught to be my adversary, kept a fair distance from me, even if we were in the same house at the same time, and that included during family vacations.
Camille and Jeannie, and Paula, kept a good eye on me. They taught me about life, family, love and devotion. And I was devoted to them, and still am to this very day.
In the eighth grade, Jeannie suffered a tragic stroke, and the woman she was disappeared, and as hard as I tried, I could not bring her back from the abyss. She was gone. She lost her memories, most of her movement, and much of her speech.
She remained a tragic disabled woman, along with my later stroke ridden grandfather. They lived in rest home after rest home, in Miami, until their eventual deaths, when I was in High School.
Camille languished in a rest home in Connecticut, as I grew into my twenties. When I got sick with AIDS in 1994, my mother banned me from family gatherings, however, I did go home once for Christmas, where my parents humiliated me in front of a dinner table full of friends and family. I never returned…
In my twenty-ninth year, I was living in South Miami, I had been very sick at the time, and Camille died. For weeks after her death she visited me. I wrote letters to my mother, dictated to me by Camille, and I mailed them blindly, as they came to me. My mother must have thought I was crazy, because she never mentioned the letters to me ever.
When the funeral was arranged, in Connecticut, I was devastated. Now the only other woman I was connected to, who I knew loved me inside and out, was dead. My mother banned me from going to the funeral. I had a lump of cash, I was sitting on, and I thought to myself that I would go anyways, but that did not happen.
My mother did not want any other family to know I was sick. Because she was ashamed of my presence. I knew, from listening to her talk over the years, before I left home to “come out” I knew what she thought of homosexuals, and especially, men who had AIDS.
I was now, one of them. I had become abhorrent.
It was my experience, that my grandmothers, and my aunt loved me unconditionally. My mother, did not, in the end. Like all human beings, we fear and abhor what we do not know or understand. And it was my experience that normal human beings who loved their families and children, turned into raging animals, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground when it came to AIDS.
I’m kind of glad that Camille and Jeannie never saw me, as sick as I had gotten. They had only seen the best of who I was, as a young child, into my early teens. AIDS came after they began to depart my life.
All of my family, Alexander, Jeannie, Camille, Carol … Each one of these people, came back to me after they died, in one form or another. I knew them. I saw them. I experienced them in the spirit world.
Jeannie came back to me and used to stand at the foot of my bed for years. When I got sick, living in Fort Lauderdale, Jeannie, had come back and she watched over me for a year. I know this because a friend of mine, who was a medium, at that time, visited me, and confirmed she was there in my apartment.
Alexander came back, when I was in high school. So did my uncle Paul, who returned to my uncle’s house in Connecticut. As the story went, in the end, Paul and Alexander, brothers in life, reunited in death at my uncles house, after they both appeared in two cities, for two families at the same time.
My Aunt Paula was a dignified woman, along with my cousin Sandy. My mother had a love/hate relationship with them. Resentments ruled our family dynamics. At one time or another my mother was pissed at one or the other, throughout my entire young life.
AIDS killed my family. It shattered the very foundation of all we had been.
I moved to Canada in 2002, to follow the maternal blood line of my mother, back into the historical past of our family, much to her consternation.
I then met my great-aunt Georgette, who was living just two blocks from the apartment I live in today. I had two years with her, before she died of cancer, I collected all the stories she had of herself and Camille, because sister Georgette’s family, took Camille in when the Spanish Flu killed thousands of people in the twenties and thirties. Camille had been orphaned by the flu.
My life, is a testament to the dignity and love that I received from the women who made me who I am today. I had but a few generous years of them in life. My life today, is a testament to their spirits that inhabit me.
You might not consider the strength of the human spirit, but it is a life force that can sustain human life. Because I am still alive.
My aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy are a part of my life today. They love me for who I am and both of them contribute to my life today and I am grateful for their presences.
Now, in sobriety, I know many women. In the beginning it was the women who helped me get sober. All the women who ran Tuesday Beginners, when I came in, taught me How it Works, and What to do to stay sober. Margo, my therapist, the first two years of sobriety, took care of me in every way possible. Margo set me on the road to my university education. It was she who afforded the decision to do “something for me” after reaching a year sober.
There are too many women to mention all of them in this post. All of those women who have been or are, presently, part of my present sober life.
Like I said, at the top, Where would we be without the women in our lives ???
Women make the world go round.
Today is February 20, 2017 … And we revisit the stories in the back of the book. I wrote on this story back in May of 2016, the last time we crossed this story in reading.
This read comes, inside of a new group of people, in a new year, and the shares generated by this read were varied. There are a handful of LGBT folks in this meeting. Both men and women.
In the group, now, there are two of us who are HIV+. I did not know this before. And after the meeting I spoke to my friend who has more than 35 years being POZ, from back in the First Gen of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s.
He is heterosexual, and has a wife and children. And comes from the Old Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York Crowd. I am the other. I am Gay, and have lived with AIDS for more than 22 years now. I now have a new benchmark to aspire to. Because when I first moved to Montreal, when I met men who were sick, all I wanted to know from them was how did they get further up the road than I was at. They are all dead now.
I don’t know but a couple of people, over the years, who are like me.
And I said again tonight to a room full of heterosexual alcoholics, that I would gladly trade my medicine cabinet for theirs or give them sickness for a bit so they can understand what it is like to really suffer with an illness that has no cure. Which leads back to last night’s entry about Re-Orientation…
So I am sharing the post that I wrote more than a year ago, because it says everything that I wanted to talk about tonight. The sentiments I wrote about still exist today in our rooms here in Montreal. So you stay away from those sick meetings and abhorrent people.
**** **** ****
May 31, 2016 …
There is something to be said about “tolerance for those with different struggles.”
Somewhere I heard that it is easier to ACT yourself into a new way of thinking than to THINK yourself into a new way of acting …
This line appears in the above titled story when our man gets to his first series of meetings, after a crash and burn drinking experience. He sits with his sponsor, not so sure about God or Higher Power, and the suggestion of “Act as If” comes.
This story, appears in the fourth edition of the Big Book. Our man, in this story, is Gay. He cites that he is three years sober, he had surgery on his back, his father died, a relationship ended, and the AIDS epidemic started to hit home among his friends and acquaintances. Over the course of the next few years, almost half of his gay friends had died.
This is a Fourth Edition story. Because of the time period cited above. It could be placed anywhere from the 1980’s through the 1990’s, for the sole reason he cites the AIDS epidemic, specifically.
This story and mine are very different. But the writer says, in the beginning, that he comes from a conservative religious family, where alcohol was present. And he had not “Come Out” until he was in college when he began to consider his sexual orientation.
A familiar story in the gay world, in the beginning, when considering whether to come out or stay in the closet, the many lives we live and the faces we put forward, trying to fit all the boxes, with what society says we should be. A business man, a professional, an alcoholic, a friend, and maybe a lover.
So for some, we play the “Straight game” and we play the part, until either we hit that proverbial wall of self discovery, and stop the denial and make the jump, or we remain in the closet hating ourselves and everything about us, because we are living a lie, that, in the end, will eventually, end badly.
I had to play that game, for fear of loosing my life, until I could not do it any more.
Hence the death march into Alcoholism and Drug Addiction and Suicide for many.
Our writer, grew up, and moved away and began attending college, where he began to explore his sexuality. By then he was already drinking.
I grew up in a home where alcoholism was the norm. I knew I was different well before I learned what it meant for me. But my father, with homicidal tendencies, was never my friend. However he had his moments.
I remember the night he took me to the 94th Aero Squadron – a restaurant on the airport runway system at Miami International, for my Birds and the Bees discussion. I could not tell him the truth.
My story may not be unique, but I never tire of thinking about it, and how my life would have been very different, had I STAYED IN THE ROOMS the first time I got sober. But that was not my experience.
Getting sober in the age of AIDS was difficult. Because I could not drink, I had quit. Todd had given me that ultimatum and made it stick. So I was getting sober, and learning how to survive, while all my friends around me were going down in flames. Every night, was as if they were living the last night of their lives, with the copious amounts of drugs and alcohol that went around under my nose.
They are all DEAD.
I think that when it came down to it, with the bar, and Todd’s influence, I had everything I needed. I could have done without the room I was getting sober in, because those men were not kind at all, and made the first year hell for the newcomers.
Having to compete for your year chip is much harder than working for it freely. Sobriety is NOT a RACE. There are no horses to bet on, just a human being trying to get better, under seriously awful circumstances. And this truth did not make it any easier, although it should have.
Then you move to a new city and a new room. And you get asked to speak. And after that event, a man walks up to you and says: “We don’t condone people like you here, leave this meeting and don’t come back!” W.T.F.
Obviously this story had not been printed in the late 1990’s, and from what I remember, not many of those folks, had even the Big Book in the room.
During this time, the preceding years and for many years after, straight people, straight businesses, churches, funeral parlors, you name it … banished sick gay men to the gutter and left them there to die alone. Awful Hateful Abhorrent Prejudice.
That event in my early sobriety just killed any ambition I had towards sobriety.
To this day, there are hateful people, in our rooms.
With all that is going on in the world, we need all the help we can get. Rooms should welcome and be supportive. But that is not always the case.
Even today, being any shade of L.G.B.T.Q is perilous.
There is no room, in this world, for hatred of a human being because of their chosen way of life. I talk of just how fluid life has become, and how binary it has been for eons of time.
There are a handful of people I know in the rooms I go to who fall under L.G.B.T.Q.
Some are allowed, and nothing is said, then there are those, who, for one reason or another, come and go, and many of them are back out there drinking, because of intolerance and stupidity.
Here is the kicker in this story …
In all the service positions our man held (GSR) and others, He never felt obligated to conceal or deny his sexuality. He says… I always felt that the representatives of the groups in my area were concerned only with HOW we carried the message of recovery, NOT with what I might do in my personal life.
Only if that were reality for ALL meetings in general.
It is not…
Today is a very special day. The day Canada and other places, shed light on a very important topic, that still, seems to be Taboo in many places.
The topic is Mental Health.
If you’ve ever suffered from something tragic in your life, or know someone who has, or you just know someone who is over their heads in the water and they can’t seem to find solid ground, or you have that friend or family member who is suffering in silence, there is something we can do, for us and for them, We Can Talk …
You never know when a conversation will happen that might change a life in ways, we could not imagine.
I’ve just finished reading Romeo Dallaire’s book, Waiting for First Light, my ongoing battle with PTSD. War is a place we see in the movies or on the news, it does not affect us directly, but it does affect many, who have been to conflict zones, or war zones, or on peace keeping missions, war for them is real.
You cannot imagine the visuals that they have seen, the atrocities they witnessed, seeing men, women and children die all around them, and watching their brothers and sisters in arms get killed in action.
And when they come home, they are shattered human beings. And we as a society have failed these brave men and women, over and over again. The Canadian Military has continually failed their own people.
PTSD is something the military has yet to fully comprehend and do something about in concrete ways and means.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of men and women suffer with unimaginable horrors and night terrors, and addictive behavior to quench the pain with drugs and alcohol.
Some take their own lives in Suicide because they have no way out of the pain.
PTSD is an old problem. But in decades past, we had different names for it.
In the Viet Nam Era, when my father came home from the war, in stories he had told me, he and many others came back and they were Shell Shocked.
But in reading Romeo’s book, I see very similar parallels in what happened, and how my father coped with his issues. He never talked about it, until one season when I was in High School, he actually had film, photos and a story to tell.
Meanwhile at home he was drinking himself to death, and abusing his wife and children.
All those men who came back from that war, were bad mouthed, and ridiculed. What happened ? They went without, and many went to their graves mentally cracked.
Living through the scourge of AIDS, was terrible. For many of us who were on the front lines, dealing with terrible sicknesses and ailments, then watching families, churches, friends and lovers, toss their sick partners into the gutter to die alone and penniless, without an ounce of dignity, was horrifying.
I’ve witnessed my share of tragedy. And suffered my own bouts with depression due to Suicide, AIDS and almost loosing my own life. I would not say that I would call my problems PTSD, but tragic sickness and death is part of my story.
Soon after my diagnosis my doctor hooked me up with a good psychiatrist. Along with medicines, and therapy, I was put on an anti-depressant regimen, that I am still on to this day.
I lived, thankfully. I am also clean and sober, which only enhances my life and my personal well-being. I had people to talk to. Therapists, Psychiatrists, Counselors, Todd, and the myriad of people who have been involved in my sobriety.
A few months after I met hubby, he got very sick. And he was cycling rapidly, over and over again, obsessively. A few weeks in, he had a nervous breakdown, and fell to pieces. Doctors and shrinks came on board, and he was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Rapid Cycling.
For ten long and arduous months we plied him with pill after pill, trying to find the right mixture of a “Little bit of this and a Little bit of that…” until we found the mix that worked for him. For that almost year, I was chief cook, cleaner and chief bottle washer.
I got him out of bed, fed him, got him on the sofa.
And at night, I fed him, bathed him, and put him to bed.
A ritual that still exists to this very day.
I was going to school full-time, taking care of house and home, going to meetings, and taking care of hubby, who was comatose on the sofa for the entire ten month period, catatonic.
I remember the night that we had found the magic pill … The next morning he got up, he was coherent, lucid and alive.
It was like Lazarus, rising from the grave.
There was still working to do, to bring him back into full participation in his own life.
And that stared with simple occupational therapy, to get him to do simple things, that led to him getting back into the saddle and living once again.
Mental health is a top issue in our home. Having two people who have mental issues is a task in itself.
I believe that a human who suffers from a mental illness NEEDS a SECOND set of eyes on them all the time. So that they aren’t doing it themselves. That there is someone else actively involved with their daily care and to watch their medical progress with whatever medication a doctor puts them on, because we don’t necessarily catch things on our own, we need that SECOND set of eyes on the case.
I have worked with kids with Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism. That is some of my most rewarding work, to date. I have sponsees who have mental illnesses as well. Depression, PTSD and Schizophrenia. Everybody needs to be loved and cared for. My time is not only invested in helping men and women stay sober, I also try to help them to stay sane.
To make sure they are on their meds, seeing their doctors and case workers and making sure that they are taking care of themselves, and each other, as well taking care that their homes are safe, clean and void of drugs and alcohol.
Mental Illness is a scourge on our city. many, MANY of our homeless men, women and kids, (read: Young People) on the street, suffer from mental illness, and they go about their lives, and nobody really gives a damn, unless you see them on the street.
We don’t have the amount of resources that the city needs to tackle that problem, because not only do you have mental illness to contend with you also have addiction to alcohol and drugs as well. So you have a triple cocktail of sadness …
Too many of our young people are killing themselves over bullying and mental illness.
What are we teaching our kids, when so many of them are dying and nobody knew about what was going on with them! We have to talk to our kids and actually give a damn about them instead of leaving them to their own devices and video games and their phones.
SUICIDE IS NEVER AN OPTION – EVER !!!
Give a kid a chance … talk to them for God’s Sake.
There is help. There are solutions. You don’t have to be alone. We are here.
We will help you in any way we can. All you have to do is ASK …
Let’s Talk …