Courtesy: Stephen Bradford Long – Blog
It’s been a long, painful and perilous journey from a life of suffocating fear and self-loathing toward a life of fearlessness and love. I spent most of my teenage and adult years trapped in the impenetrable coffin of my self-loathing, absolutely convinced that I was unlovable to God. As a young boy growing up in the evangelical world, I somehow absorbed the message that being gay makes a person loathsome and subhuman. When I started to discover that I was gay myself, I became the victim of my own undying disgust and hatred. Like a supernova, my being collapsed upon itself, the object of its own unquenchable disgust.
I was trapped in that deadly pattern for years, and it was a pattern of immense self-destruction, volatile relationships, and crushing loneliness. What I want to talk about now is how that started to change, how letting go of self-loathing began a pilgrimage from shame toward learning to accept God’s love for me.
The year it all started to shift – my 22nd year – was a dark one. Not only were the demands of my music degree beginning to crush my spirit, I had also just gone through a bloody breakup with my girlfriend of nine months.
I had tried desperately to make our relationship work. I had convinced myself that my sexuality was, at best, an unpleasant memory from my past and at worst an annoyance that needed occasional maintenance. I was in deep denial about how much I looked at guys, how much I fantasized about them, and how much I was emotionally and physically attracted to them. Even when I almost cheated on my girlfriend with another guy from my college, I was still in denial about my sexuality.
By the time our relationship fell apart, I couldn’t live in denial anymore. I had to confront that I found men painfully beautiful and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with a man. And, in my attempts to deny that part of myself, I had very profoundly hurt an incredible young woman who had been my best friend. Despite how much I loved her, I didn’t want to touch her, hug her, kiss her. I didn’t want to hold her hand or be physically close to her. While I enjoyed her friendship and conversation, I couldn’t celebrate her beauty or femininity the way a man should, and she was left feeling broken, insufficient, wondering what she had done wrong.
I walked away from that relationship having realized two horribly painful things about myself: first, that my orientation was not going to go away, and that I had exhausted all attempts at knowing how to fix it. Second, I could never, ever put another woman through that experience ever again. It would take God writing it in fire in the sky for me to ever enter a relationship with a woman again.
I entered a very dark place. I again contemplated killing myself because, in my mind, anything was better than being gay. Every treatment had failed. I felt like I had completely exhausted all my options and there was nothing left for me to do but die. Even though I had left the ex-gay world 3 years before, I didn’t want to be gay – I was terrified of being gay. I was terrified of what that meant for me as a Christian, terrified that I was going to hell. Most of all, I didn’t want to hate myself anymore.
And then I met someone I’ll call Drew. Drew was another music student – handsome, intelligent, kind – and I dropped into the free fall of a very intense crush. For two months I was under the influence of intoxicating romance. We went on a few dates and enjoyed each other’s company.
Internally, I was ripped to pieces. Everything I wish I had felt for my girlfriend I was now feeling for another man. For the first time in my life I was experiencing my orientation in relation to another gay man, but I felt like I had to sacrifice my soul, faith and belief in God to do so. I didn’t know if it was right or wrong, but I was afraid of even allowing myself to admit that, for fear of being expelled from the presence of God.
In my desperate search for answers, I found a little Catholic parish hidden away in a mountain valley. I started going to the parish because no one there knew me and no one would talk to me. No one would have to know about my relationship with Drew, my sexuality, or my questions. If someone started to ask questions, I could leave, because I feared that it was only a matter of time before someone would find me out and ask me to leave.
One Sunday morning, when I was at the end of my rope, I was on my knees during mass crying out to God for an answer. And then something happened.
I don’t know how, but I suddenly knew that God was there with me. I knew that His holiness was wrapped all around me, gathering about me like heavy smoke. In the midst of that holiness, I didn’t feel judged, I didn’t feel cast away – I felt safe. Safe for the first time in years.
And then, in the midst of this sense of very profound holiness, a voice deep within me said, Stephen, do you remember that time when you were in high school, and your father came into your room? Do you remember how he wrapped his arms around you, held you to his chest and whispered in your ear, “Stephen, you are my son, and I will never kick you out of my house. My home will always be your home, because I am a good father, and a good father doesn’t kick out his son. You are my son, and I love you.” The voice deep within me continued, I am like your biological father in that way, Stephen. I’m not going to kick you out over this. My home will always be your home, because I am a good Father, and a good father doesn’t kick out his son.
That was the safest I had felt in years. I suddenly knew that, no matter how I failed or succeeded, no matter how right or wrong my theology, no matter how many mistakes I made in my pursuit after Him, it was ok. I was still His son. For the first time, I realized what it meant to trust God with my sexuality.
In that moment, I realized something for the first time in my life: God doesn’t ask us to be perfect. God doesn’t ask us to have perfect theology. All He asks of us is to love Him, and to try.
Try to find the answers. Try to live a holy life. Try because we are already accepted by Him through His son Jesus.
That might mean asking scary questions. That might mean falling in love. That might mean being theologically wrong. That might mean having to re-evaluate what you believe for the thousandth time. That might mean getting heart broken. That might mean struggling with loneliness. That might mean finding the love of your life. That might mean being called to celibacy. God’s love is big enough. And in that love, there is space to question, to journey, to be confused. Jesus isn’t threatened by questions, we are.
The only reason I am alive is because, three years ago in a tiny mountain Catholic parish, I started to learn how to trust, and to cling to the Cross. I learned to trust that God is bigger than my shortcomings, my questions, my capacity for rightness and wrongness. I started to trust that God has tempered justice with mercy, and that mercy covers me even when my best attempts fail in both action and understanding.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s been a hard journey since that day in Mass. There have been trials and struggles and despair and heartbreak, but I don’t think I would have survived any of that if I hadn’t first learned that God is perfect and that I am not.
For too many people, the struggle with sexuality take place in a claustrophobic and fearful place. I believe that, through His love, God offers us space. He offers us space to journey, to question, and to cling to Him. He offers us the space to experience struggle as refinement and questions as worship.
Because he is a good Father, and a good father doesn’t kick out his children.
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…
Because we need happy dog photos right about now …
I’ve been angry, and impatient, and judgmental, and unsettled all night. And I believe that this is bleed over from my separation from a group of people I cared for and supported, and at the end of the day, they turned their backs on me.My phone has not rung in more than a week now. And I deleted all those numbers from my phone on Friday.
Like turning off that proverbial light switch, I like to always talk about.
So many people in my community across the board are afflicted with the “Can’t be bothered syndrome.” They want the easier softer path, and they want sobriety via osmosis by sitting in a chair night after night, hoping that they will magically get sober, and not have to embark on the personal work The Book and The Work asks of us.
So I watched another Voices of Hope episode instead of sitting here being angry all night.
And I wonder to myself, have I been living one huge lie? Am I not true to myself ? Did I not follow God’s will correctly ? Because my brain is on over drive and here is why …
Memere, Grammy, and my Aunt Paula, they all loved me. Memere and Grammy are gone, and coming to Canada was my way of reconnecting with Memere’s spirit, in a place I wanted to be, both for myself and my spirit. I believed that this city was where I was supposed to end up, as the signs had opened up for me as they did, to lead me here eventually.
That seed of faith was set in my heart at a very young age. Hearing love and devotion when I was away from home, was lovely. But when I went back home, or even when I was out of home, my father wanted me dead. Saying I was a mistake and should never have been born. What kind of parent says things like that to their kids for the WHOLE of their lives?
All I wanted was to be loved. And I was for a while, on the outside. By other people, people who were NOT my parents.
For every good thing my parents gave me, they took it out in equal opposite measure with verbal, physical and emotional abuse. My father abused me mercilessly, and my mother watched him do it and never defended me or asked him to stop. In toxic parents speak, she was the silent woman. My father was the abuser.
Where did I learn about homosexuality ? From books, magazines, radio shows and later in my teens, I met actual gay men, who gave me more positive attention than my father could ever have given me.
So jealous with rage at these conversations I was having with these gay men, my father would come home and beat me until he thought he could beat the gay out of me, all the while, hiding his own secret of repressed homosexuality.
The dog that barks the loudest has the MOST to HIDE.
I had an idea. A thought, An example of what titillated me. Reading was the one way I connected with something I found of personal interest, well before I knew what it all meant. But tits and naked women did nothing for me at all. And I got that in equal measure, gay and straight. But early on I had made my choice.
In tenth grade, I began to attend youth group. I was going to church on my lunch hours at school. I was going to prayer meetings, retreats, serving in the mass, I had a spiritual life that was second to none. In the end those priests saw hope in me that they figured a life in the church would suit me. Memere was so proud the day I walked into Seminary. My parents could not have cared any less for my success. They were just glad to finally get rid of me.
No You Can’t …
Along this path to God, I walked and searched and hoped and prayed.
I never came out of the closet at home for fear my father WOULD Kill Me.
So at age nineteen, I entered my first year of seminary. For that calendar year, my spiritual director’s favorite question to all of us was … “Did you touch yourself?” And the answer was always the same. “No Father.”
That was a big huge lie.
I watched my fellow classmates do things with certain people that I found abhorrent at the time, because, at that time, my eyes were focused on God and pious sanctimony. But I witnessed crimes. And they were crimes. Only to be cornered on a dark night with the threat of sin and violence if I ever spoke out about what I had witnessed by those who were directly involved with said sinning against God.
I believed that if I could serve the church, that that would expunge any vestige of homosexuality out of me. I would serve God and that would be ok with me. Because serving God was better than serving myself.
In the end, at the end of that year, the rector, a man I despised, asked me to leave, that he felt that I did not have the blessing of God to continue. (Read: I did not have his blessing, because I was a thorn in his side, because of some of the things he perpetrated as rector).
I was mad at God. And Rightly so. I felt God had turned His back on me.
I had to go back home. My parents were none too pleased. I got a job, that included alcohol, and trips all over the world, just because I was employed at the right agency. That fed into my alcoholism and stunted my growth into manhood.
Coming to twenty One I was seeing my shrink and talking about what I was going to do. Ok, Fine, I would have to leave home, and strike out on my own, with specific direction to visit a local bar first and have a couple of drinks, and SEE WHAT HAPPENS …
See what happens ?
I had one sexual experience with a man when I was nineteen. Nobody knew that for years after it happened. We all got drunk one night on cheap vodka, and I took his keys away so he would not drive home drunk, so he spent the night. And shit happened.
Boy oh Boy, the women were so jealous of me when they found out I had slept with him. I had accomplished a feat that none of them had been able to do.
It wasn’t until I moved to Orlando and told a friend, who was a confidant that I was new at this game and he stepped up and broke me in officially.
What did I know about Gay ? I liked what I had read in the past. It turned me on. And mix pretty young gay men, with copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, and the Tragic Queendom and you had it made in spades.
What was being Gay ? Same Sex Attraction (SSA), Sex, Drugs, Alcohol…
I lived that lifestyle for just six years. When I turned twenty six, everything changed.
Having the beautiful boyfriend was all the rage in my twenties. And it seemed, that it was not the single gay that was attractive to most young gay men. It was the “coupled” gays that were the most attractive. Breaking up a couple who were dating was the holy grail in the community I was part of.
I was not the prettiest gay boy, but I was attractive for a while, until I became a worthless drunk.
I had never succeeded in having relationships worth any substance.Alcohol fueled the desire for sexual attraction and sex itself.
And it was my own undoing that brought me to where I ended up eventually.
Alcoholism stunts you at the point you began drinking. I was a teenager, mentally, for years. I was irresponsible. I lied, I cheated, I swore on my father’s good name, that he would pay for it all. In the end he did.
And I paid for that for the rest of my life.
Imagine, growing up with the alcoholic parents who NEVER said, Hey I Love You. Or Hey I am proud of You. Or Hey, Can I help you out or support you?
They never said those things to me.
Because I was the mistake that should never have been born.
Fast forward to age twenty five. Post James’s suicide and my having to identify his remains at the coroners office the fifth day after they found what was left of him four days earlier.
It was catastrophic emotional trauma which led to pitiful incomprehensible drinking to drown my sorrow.
Todd and Bill had stepped in and got me into therapy. But the worst was yet to come.
A few months later, I contracted hepatitis and was really sick. For months, I was working at the bar, like all the other employees, there was nothing special about me YET.
A friend gave me a card with Symptoms on it, as in, If You Have These Symptoms, You Might have AIDS. It took me until July of 1994, to hit nine of the twelve symptoms on that card, at which time, on July 4th, I had called home to tell my parents I was sick and that I was going to the hospital the next morning to get tested.
“Philadelphia with Tom Hanks” was out on Video. I had a copy at home with my friends, we were going to watch it later that night. Meanwhile, back at home my parents WERE watching the movie as the phone rang. Which did not end well.
Fast forward to the 9th of July that Friday. I had had AIDS. I was going to die. Life was over.
My family, My friends, my boyfriend, all left me high and dry. Sick, alone, isolated.
The Gay Lifestyle we like to speak about changed irrevocably.
I was no longer sexually viable. Hell, I wasn’t a viable human being according to the many who told me to just die and the Christians were telling me that it was God’s wrath for my sins. That I had brought this on myself. And that I would burn in hell for eternity.
I called Todd home from vacation. 1 man. 1 God. Three words. I Love You.
I Prayed – God appeared in my life, in human form. He came, and He saved me. I knew God loved me, because the only person who mattered to me, also loved me, and that was Todd.
But I wasn’t in the clear just yet, as my story meanders from sobriety into full fledged alcohol and drug addiction/consumption, until I had hit that second bottom in December of 2001.
Once again, I turned to God, and I prayed three prayers in a certain order. I needed three things to get me back to the rooms. Funny that God heard those prayers, and like clockwork, each prayer came to pass, in the order requested.
God was there for me when I really needed Him. At every stage of this life I was living, when I needed a miracle or God to appear, He was there, right by my side.
Saving me every time. One Day I would repay His Goodness to me.
The alcoholic who would bring me back appeared in my shop and asked for a job.
I moved to Montreal in 2002. Following Memere to where I believed in my spirit, I should be and turned my life around. And I grew up along the way.
I never assimilated into Montreal’s gay community. I went looking for something specific and did not find it, so I gave that part of my life up, opting for sobriety and a sober life.
Gay Lifestyle ? Did not exist for me. I was just a human being who happened to be Gay.
Assimilation into straight sober rooms was a challenge in the beginning, because of homophobia and judgmentalism on the part of people who claimed to be Godly and Sober.
I wasn’t looking for sex. I never went looking for sex because I knew I was damaged goods. Nobody wanted a man with AIDS, that was one serious deal breaker in the Gay Community. Even if i was sober.
Trolling for Sex, was not a sober activity.
On the day, I passed hubby in the doorway of St. Leon’s Church, it was a split second decision. I looked, I heard the voice, and as I have said before, the rest is history.
I dated hubby for a couple of months, into Christmas of 2002. He went home to Ottawa to see his family, he gave me a set of keys to his place. The place we call home today, and said I could stay in his apartment while he was gone to Ottawa.
Gay Lifestyle ? We had only a few months before he got sick. I got used to how he looked, what he said, who he was. How he made me feel. He accepted me from the first night.
Because it was God ordained that we were to meet.
I never had to go looking for any gay lifestyle. I did not need any other gays in my life.
Todd always said that one day I would be able to save someone and love them.
Hubby was that one human being. I stood and was counted. I did what I was called to do.
Love, Support and Respect.
I never had to worry about same sex attraction to any other human being other than hubby. I had committed.
I was done. Forever…
We were both clean and sober, and we used to go dancing together until it got too cumbersome, having to suit up winter gear and go out and at the end of the night, find a taxi home.
Too Much Trouble.
I did not have gay friends. But I knew there were some gay people in a couple of meetings, here and there, which we availed ourselves of for a while, until they fell out of favor, because I could no longer stomach gay men who were sick, night after night saying how they just wanted to die, and be so miserable. I needed to know how they got so many more years, still alive, because that is what I was after all along.
All they wanted was to die. It did not Compute …
One night I had heard enough, from one particular man who was sick. And I offered to kill him, right then and there in the meeting. I offered to either shoot him in the head or push him off the second floor to the ground.
We never went back to that meeting.
No More Gay Sober Lifestyle.
Over the last fifteen years, I stayed clean and sober.
I went back to school, and decided that I was going to re follow God. I knew I had failed at getting to God through the vehicle of the church. So I chose to follow God through academia.
Gay, Religion, Theology and Academia, in the end was my own undoing.
Promises were made to me by Catholic Priests and the Monsignor, who were some of my professors in my Religion and Theology studies.
He reneged on his promises to make me useful to the church as a Gay Man.
Read – Gay and Catholic did not mix, even if Montreal had gay priests in its employ. I just would not be acceptable within those ranks.
All Along, the pictures and stories of sex, that were in my head, never came to pass for me. The very night that I met Todd, at the old bar location, He looked into my soul. And like God himself, He knew my innermost desires. And they were dark.
When I got sick, working at the bar, Todd passed an edict to every single man who worked in the bar, and to every single man who walked through our doors.
I was off limits.
After diagnosis, I did not have sex ever again, with anyone and that lasted for years.
The sex I wanted to have, I never accomplished at having. So menial sex was just sex. Hubby and I had a couple of months together, before he fell sick.
So the Gay Lifestyle I had read about and fantasized about NEVER happened.
Todd made that perfectly clear to me and to everyone else.
So much for the gay lifestyle.
My job, at the bar, was to be of service to anyone who walked through the door. I cleaned up trash. I bar tended. I worked in the DJ Booth. On special occasions, I was personal liaison to the special guests for each night as they showed up.
That was my job.
It wasn’t sex, it wasn’t anything but work. I could look all I wanted. I could dress any way I wanted. But that was as far as I got. EVER …
It took me fifteen years of sobriety and the meeting of the elders to get me to this point, to wonder who I really am, what secrets do I have, and need to be bore out, and what is God trying to say to me, and where am I headed ?
it took this long to realize just how BLESSED I really am today. Everything that happened, happened for a reason, to get me to this exact point in my life.
To see the truth and figure out what to do next.
God said to me …. “I am enough for you.”
Who am I ? What am I ? Why Now ?
I know God is not finished with me yet.
Tomorrow I am meeting Cedric at the LDS church in NDG.
I shopped for new shoes and new dress clothes earlier today, so I would be presentable to the community.
So that is my confession for tonight.
When one decides to turn towards God, and pray with intent, and seek Him with an honest and willing heart, God spoke to me and said … “I am enough for you.”
I have been in a mode of change for the last little while, and God has been working on me slowly, but persistently. I worked my steps, was told by my spiritual director what I must do to move forwards (i.e. turning my entire life over to the care of God as I understand Him) and then, in a very serendipitous manner, a few weeks ago, I met two Mormon Missionaries here in Montreal, and we’ve been talking about God and the Scriptures together for the last month.
These discussions led me to our last discussion and I met a man who lives here in the city, and is a participant in the LDS Voices of Hope Project.
The path towards inclusion in community means a great deal to me. And over the last little while, I have been seeking truths and answers to my hearts questions. I’ve been reading The Book of Mormon for a few weeks now. Little by slowly, I am working my way through the scriptures.
God has always been a part of my life. From very early on in my life, last night I wrote to an L.D.S Elder and I wanted to share this with you. Gay Mormon Guy Blog
I have been going through a change in my life. And this change began some time ago.
You see, I am Gay. I’ve been living with AIDS since 1994. I am still alive. I am also married to a man God led me to by the prompting of an angel. That’s a good story.
I am approaching 50 next summer. And in December, I will hit my 15th year clean and sober. So you could say that I have a trifecta of issues going on.
I’ve always had God in my life, from my early childhood. And God has always been with me, even when I turned my eyes from Him. Which landed me in some serious hot water, (see previous lines above)
A few years ago, a long sober man, I met at a convention, told me that If I wanted my life to change, I needed to step up my prayer life. I did as he asked of me. Not that I wasn’t praying before, but I had to turn up the heat, so to speak.
This prayer life led me into a season of service that had not be open to me before, because my eyes were firmly on God in the program of recovery that I am in.
And as this summer came to an end, just recently, my season of service also came to an end. And I met the elders on a metro platform, who led me to Cedric, who is also a speaker on Voices, who lives here in Montreal.
I am reading the Book of Mormon nightly. And I’ve listened to several men on the site speak. And in turn, that has led me to the decision to turn it all over to God. Because for many years, I was always holding a little back, selfishly.
This morning I was in prayer, and I was mourning the loss of the community and the people I was serving, diligently for a number of years. I was doing all the heavy lifting, and it seemed no one wanted to share the burden, so I felt God telling me that I needed to let it go and move on. All the while this past month or so, I have been sitting with the elders weekly.
In prayer this morning, I heard God’s voice speak to me, clear as a bell. And He said … ” I am enough for you.”
When I got sick in 1994, and the doctors told me I was going to die, I told my family, my friends, my then boyfriend, all of them fled in fear and revulsion. I was gay, now I had AIDS, nobody wanted to help me or to stay.
I was working in a bar, and the manager was my friend. I called him home from vacation and he returned and I told him I was going to die. His response was, “Not on my watch you aren’t.”
In hindsight, now twenty two years later, God came to me, incarnated and saved me from utter destruction. What I realize now, in my pursuit of God, is this … All the while I was learning to live/survive, I was serving others. It was through the service of others, that I was saved myself. It wasn’t about me, it was about the others, who were dying all around me. They all died, all but two of us survive from the original grouping of over 100 men.
I was getting clean and sober at the same time. I was successful for a few years, but I turned back to my will and the hole in my soul, and turned away from God, and that almost killed me.
In 2001, December 9th to be exact, I uttered the name of God again. For the first time in a long time. And I prayed. And God appeared and answered me point by point, and he met my needs.
I moved to Montreal to become a man, because at 34 back then, I was woefully unprepared and full of fear. I am the man I am because of them men I know, most of them are straight. Funny that. I don’t have many gay friends.
I have ONE friend, he calls me daily, he is my best friend. One friend.
My husband is another story. He is Bi Polar. Has been for the whole of our relationship. He was diagnosed a few months after we met.
What I know today, right now, now that I look back at the last twenty or so years, the sex life I thought I wanted and desired, has turned out to be for naught. Because it never came to pass. Not since the day I was diagnosed.
The man I fell in love with, is not the man I married. The drugs the doctors fed him in trial treatments, emasculated him and cleaved half his brain away, along with what was, I had hoped a physical relationship.
For the last twelve years, I have lived with my husband. I have served him faithfully. I would never leave him, because I need him and he needs me. It isn’t about SSA and hasn’t been for a long time, in retrospect.
Since meeting the elders, I have turned once again towards God, to find who I am and who I want to be. I transcribed a page of notes from your talk.
“God can meet the needs that I have, that other people can’t.”
I want to be part of community. Because the community I am part of (recovery) is all about getting better, staying sober, and most importantly, serving others to the best of my ability.
Most take for granted that I am present, and like I said, I have a husband now, and out of all the people I know in the rooms, ONLY 1 takes the time to call every day. I know a lot of people in the rooms, its just that not many of them don’t want to know me further than sitting next to them in a meeting. I am an odd bird.
I am coming up on my anniversary, and the myth is this … usually 60 days out, the pre cake roller coaster begins rolling, and we have to buckle up and ride it good or bad.
I heard God speak to me clearly this morning, I haven’t heard Him speak to me like that in a while.
You know what I want to know from God ? At the end of the day, Does my life matter? Do you see me ? Do you love me ? I know God loves me on the surface, because I am still alive.
The elders have brought me faith in Christ, and the Gospel, and my heart wants to follow. Even with my trifecta of issues.
You never know who you will meet on any given day, or how God is going to manifest Himself to you. Open your eyes and your heart and turn towards Him.
“I AM ENOUGH FOR YOU”
“No one can teach you how to be a storyteller, you have to live to be able to do that.”
If there is one thing you should do right now, if you don’t already, Go to your You Tube Account and SUBSCRIBE to Casey Neistat. Right Now. Today. Now, Right Now !!
I’ve learned, at this point in my life that, maybe it’s not always about trying to fix something broken. Maybe it’s about starting over and creating something better.
That is so freaking true for me right now.
Tonight we talked about Honesty. Honesty is one word that appears early in How It Works:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being HONEST with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demand rigorous HONESTY. Their chances are less than average. There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be HONEST.
Before I say anything else, we must begin this discussion with the fact that we are all HUMAN, we are FALLIBLE, and we all make MISTAKES. Alcoholism is a human disease, and when we come to the rooms, however damaged and hopeless we are, some tend to forget the human quality and hurriedly ascribe some nasty word to describe fellow humans sitting in the same room with them, forgetting, that at one time, THEY were just as damaged and hopeless as newcomers are.
What have I learned in 49 years of life ?
We are born into families, be they rock solid and honest, or broken and hard pressed for any semblance of honesty or love.
As children and well into our teen years until the day we walk out of that house we were born into, walk out of said house and strike out into the great unknown.
We all carry that around with us, and that taints what we do next, (for many) and how we see the world. For me that was the great challenge. I lacked many things when I left home.
And I see that today.
Knowing all the secrets at home, and watching people live inside a secret and watch them produce a show for the outside world, where they were not their true selves, fucked me up.
My thoughts always centered around, “Well, if this is good for you (read: Your Secrets) then it is good for me.” (Read: What’s Good for the Goose, is Good for the Gander).
Gay IN secret was better than being gay OUT in the world. That was an abomination.
While all the while, I heard my parents demean me and many others, with racist, ethnic and homophobic hatred. In the end I knew I had to go. And I did.
But like I have said before, alcoholism followed me, and so did some seriously bad behavior. Namely, dishonesty, lies, and immaturity.
Honest was not something I aspired to.
In my twenties, I hit several serious situations that put me between a rock and a hard place. At first, I drank to drown. And I failed at coping with suicide. The second, when I got sick, I again, drank to drown, until Todd stepped in.
If he was one thing, he was honest. And I had to get honest to begin with, or there was no future. I learned the hard way what happens when you have to get honest, and remain silent for your own good, because the truth would cost you a lover, a home, a job, a family, and your friends.
Been there Done that …
When people show up, they bring with them everything that happened to them, everything they believe, and everything they have lost. Hope is the last thing on many minds in the beginning. And if we are honest with you, life is not a dress rehearsal, and this is not a trial run, there are no do overs.
This is it. You only get one shot. So you better make it a good shot.
Sadly, many don’t learn this the first time around. I surely did not.
Almost fifteen years later, I am still working on my Good Shot.
Honesty is something I struggle with every day. Honestly, I’ve expected better of people, and hoped in people to rise and grow up, when they are not able to do so. I’ve held onto idealistic expectations, that I will never see “This side of heaven.”
I have known for a while now, that when I turned fifty, I was no longer going to be willing to wait for people who are not part of my life today, to become part of my life. Because, as a wise man said to me tonight, “Twenty five years later, is a long time to make an amend to someone that might be sunk in their way of life, and that outcome be anything else but a big HUGE disaster.”
Good for me, my spiritual director cut me to the chase and made me see, how I was not being Honest with myself or GOD. Withholding my trust in God, and thinking that my will was the better will, and that God did not have the right answer, because the answer I have long wanted had not come YET, yet I was willing to hold on until it came, come hell or high water.
Over the years, being Gay and POZ, I watch people, when I tell the truth. I watch what they do, and I listen to what they say. And it is in what they Don’t Do and what they Don’t Say that I find appalling.
Sober people are just as guilty of this kind of behavior as those who live on the outside.
Today, I know what I know. And I’ve seen what I’ve seen. And I know, for damned sure, who I want to hang around, and who I don’t. They say that “Who we are is directly related to the top five people we have in our lives.”
Rafa is right up there at the top of my five list.
When we come, we bring what we have. And we cope the best way we can, based on each of our abilities to do that. Making sobriety the first priority, when we bring life into the room with us, is the challenge in making sobriety work, Honestly.
I was ready, this time around, to do whatever it took, at what ever cost, no matter what.
And I will have, very soon, fifteen years of making that system work for me. I have accrued all those years of work, honesty as I was able, and truth as I spoke, and love and care where it mattered to give away.
Not Many People are interested in my honest attempt to be a good human being.
And I have to let that be.
I know my elder friends who I speak to and trust implicitly are all on their journeys. My elder man is heading towards 65 soon, and my elder lady friend is heading towards 63, I am headed towards 50, my spiritual director just hit 53.
We are all trying to figure out wisdom of our times. We are all trying to figure out what we are supposed to know, and what is coming around the bend. I know what happened in my twenties, my thirties, and my forties.
I hit sobriety at 34. Wisdom did not begin to set in until I hit 40. I’m not sure what is going to happen when I hit 50. We all know what happened to some, who have hit the 70 mark. They got OLD very fast, became despondent, they suffer from old age that came on quite suddenly, and tragically. I don’t know but I watched what happened, I watched several of my friends age FAST. And they have faded into obscurity, by their own choices.
I’m tired of waiting. I’m tired of old ideas and old expectations.
Sometimes being honest is not the wisest counsel.In certain situations.
Today I had a conversation with a friend, who is not in a good space, so I’ve been on top of that with her. She made a decision today that was detrimental to her, despite what we’ve been through together, and I know why she did what she did, and I could not be totally honest with her, because I am not her, and I am not in control of anyone but myself.
The only honest thing I could say was, Do you think that choice was wise ? Good or Bad ?
The scales of the past fall from us, the longer we work on ourselves. And truth and honesty comes in stages, and not all at once, because we are HUMAN, and we can only progress forwards, with TIME, WORK and with FAITH. As we are able, with what we have at each moment we need it.
I see that wisdom now, about how dishonestly I began my adult life. And just how long it took me to figure all that out.
That is twenty eight years later …
Better late than never.
I would rather you be honest with me, than give me the silent treatment or ignore me. Some of my friends just walk away. I’m not sure why, because I work very hard at relationships, it’s just that for some of my friends, I don’t have that kind of relationship, let’s say, that I do with my best friend or my husband.
Certain friends of mine when I ask them to be honest with themselves and me, have turned around and told me to go fuck myself.
One, they can’t be honest in recovery, And Two, they can be honest in telling me to go fuck myself.
That doesn’t make sense to me.
You cannot be all things to all people, its just not possible.
I’m honestly working on being better at honesty, all the way round.
How Free Do You Want to Be ???
For Leah, she just wanted the love of her husband, JacobRemember, Jacob thought that Leah’s younger sister Rachel was beautiful. Jacob had been tricked into marrying Leah when he wanted Rachel..
Genesis 29:14-3531 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon..34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..For Leah, she was not loved, something which she craved. So she did what women of that time were to do, have babies, male babies. And she did it really well. She thought that if she had God plus her husbands love, she would have all she needed..And so she kept trying to gain his love, by producing male babies..“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”.“Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”.Each new baby you see her heart torn out that maybe now Jacob would love her. But he never did..All these sons she was producing, and the reason was to gain the love and respect of her husband. She craved his love and affirmation just like many of us do today. She was willing to try the best that she could to gain his love. But it didn’t work..We think if only we could have the love of someone close to us, then it all would be ok, and life would be good or better or we would feel heard. But that equation never worked for poor Leah. And it really doesn’t work for us either..And then we see with her last son, a shift in her heart..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..This last time her focus was not on her husbands love, but on her God. Her heart changed and she decided to focus her needs her value, on God who was worthy of praise..And when she did that shift, Judah was born. When she stopped trying to gain value and love from her husband, and just from God, life came. The line that Jesus would be born into, came through that line of Judah. Life came then and there.And interestingly enough, Rachel would die in childbirth and Jacob was buried with Leah..God took notice on the unloved Leah (and he took notice on the “unloved” Jeremy too). When she stopped trying to gain Jacobs love, she was free. When she decided to gain her value and self worth from God, who was worthy of praise, she was free.
Pride in Montreal came to and end tonight with a massive T- Dance that ends in just an hours time. This afternoon, the 10 anniversary edition of the Montreal Pride Parade Stepped off, just around the block from home.
I watched the parade go from my balcony. My Pride event will come next weekend, when I attend Pride Ottawa in the Nations Capitol. Our Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was here today and marched in our parade, as he has been marching in all the Pride Parades in Canada so far. Next weekend he will march in Ottawa. And I will be there with Rafa. I have my outfit all picked out and ready to go.
I noticed just now, looking at the weather, that this week, all week, we will see mid teens overnight, and day time temps in the mid twenties. It is gradually cooling off here. Canada’s East has been in dire need of rain. Yesterday, and well into last night, it rained, not just rained, but poured down cats, dogs and little fishes rain. I got soaked at the meeting last night.
Our young people are on their ways back to Montreal. One friend is in Calgary right now, having left Vancouver last night around 11 pst. I had called her around 2 am our time last night as she was boarding her first bus leg.
By the end of next week, we will have all of our folks back from their summer jobs around Canada.
Our little Big Book Group met today for the last reading for Step One, next week everybody is away, which means we crank through How It Works in two weeks time.
I’ve extended The Work to one of our men in the other fellowship last night, so he is cranking through the preliminary reading material.
Tonight, at the meeting we read through page 94 – 96, and working with others. It was good discussion. I spent some time with an old friend after the meeting, trying to forge connections within my circle of friends. My circle of friends all know each other.
Funny, that whenever I talk to Rafa, he asks about another friend of ours, and when I speak to that other friend, he asks me about Rafa. I feel like a push me – pull me. So I suggested to both tonight, that maybe they should start talking together again, between themselves, since Rafa moved away, his friends here don’t call as much as they should.
The wisdom on “Connection” is a thread I am trying to weave for my friends. We have had a good start with that here among the guys here, now I need them to reach out to their friends in other places on a more regular basis.
A good night was had by all.
One more week of work then I am off to Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.
Happy Pride …
Though many theologians hold that sudden spiritual experiences amount to a special distinction, if not a divine appointment of some sort, I question this view.
Every human being, no matter what his or her attributes for good or evil, is a part of the divine spiritual economy. Therefore, each of us has their place, and I cannot see that God intends to exalt one over the another.
So it is necessary for all of us to accept whatever positive gifts we receive with a deep humility, always bearing in mind that our negative attitudes were first necessary as a means of reducing us to such a state that we would be ready for a gift of the positive ones via the conversion experience.
Your own alcoholism and the immense deflation that finally resulted are indeed the foundation upon which your spiritual experience rests.
Bill W. Letter, 1964
The time has come in our circle of intrepid young men for much needed change. This summer has not been kind to our small fellowship. And retreading the same mundane literature in one fellowship, is not the same as retreading old literature in another.
The main corpus of the Big Book has not changed since the day those words were printed in the 1930’s. But the wisdom of its writers was genius. Reading from the first 164 pages gives a wealth of wisdom. And over the past four years, a growing number of folks in the Montreal A.A. fellowship have been introduced to people from other places, who see ideas and words and the writing of the Big Book, in ways, we, here, do or have not, in the past.
When I met Bob in 2012, He introduced me to The Work. At that same event, over 300 people were introduced to the Same Work. Maybe a handful of folks went home and did as we were shown. I did, at least.
Now this Summer, I met another man from New York, who is working with a primary small group of people, reading the book, and doing The Work, anew.
The Big Book is written in a way that, beginning with The Book, at large, can be drawn down to chapters, and further into pages, then further into paragraphs, and finally into sentences. The book is written in a certain fashion, with certain reason and process.
When you add further “in depth” homework, questions to ask ones self, working along side a sponsor who is IN the primary small group, doing the work themselves, miracles happen.
In our other fellowship, Life With Hope, is just a book, that has the twelve steps and traditions and a number of stories, akin to the Big Book format. There is no retreading Life With Hope. It lacks the wisdom writing and the function of the book, to be gleaned for new wisdom, as the Big Book offers.
Some of our men, have realized that “If nothing changes, Nothing Changes.” And I’m about at the end of my journey, as mentor with the most time banked.
The problem with the fellowship(s) is this … In today’s day and age, addiction crosses many boundaries. The oldsters, who have remained, in A.A., most of them have singular problems, and they came and rooted in the “rooms.”
Over the last fifteen years, I have seen dual addictions come into A.A. and years ago, speaking of dual addiction, or uttering the word DRUGS, in ones share, was met with anger, resentment, and the person who uttered that dirty word, was shown the door.
Usually, they never came back.
Today, in certain meetings, speaking about dual addiction has become more commonplace. Peoples sensibilities have softened. Because, we must meet the times with equal concern and try to be accepting and welcoming.
Some do, but Some DO NOT.
Before other (A) meetings opened, A.A. was the only route to recovery. That is IF you found your way to our rooms. And there are, today, many routes to recovery. The fellowship is not the only way to find freedom from addiction.
Tonight, I talked with some of my friends at the regular Friday Night meeting, because we really need some additional man/woman power, for our floundering M.A.meetings. What I got in return was … addicts, who cross many addiction lines, stick to certain groups, for certain reasons. That is a logical answer, because they have found some solidarity with others in the same boat.
Men and women who were equal opportunity users of many drugs, pick the strongest affinity with the most commonality. That is N.A./ C.A. or M.A. so forth and so on.
Even if they cross several boundaries, they do not cross meeting lines into the lesser of their evils. Many just don’t see the need to add just One More Meeting. Even if I asked them to participate, none of my friends are inclined to do so.
That has been a long standing problem. When the needs of one group cannot be met, by bringing in fresh folks to share experience, strength and hope, the wealth of existing experience only goes so far, before we hit the bottom of the wisdom and experience bank.
You can only tell the same story so many times, without fresh wisdom, and if you do that your story becomes boring and useless, and those around you go looking for something different, because you are retreading the same material and not adding to it.
That is where our little fellowship is right now.
Our barrels are empty. And not all of my guys, hit other meetings, other than the ones we provide three times a week, even if the topic changes along with the type of meeting.
We are tired and burned out. We need to replenish our banks with fresh knowledge, wisdom and sober education. So it goes, I have told my guys that if they want to remain clean and sober, sitting in a stagnant room, is not going to get them anywhere. They need to hit other meetings, IF and ONLY IF, they have commonality with another fellowship.
Most drug users, have crossed several boundaries. Alcohol, other drugs, pills, and other mind and mood altering substances. Some pot heads, drink, still. Some have come to the realization that clean and sober, means, just that: Clean and Sober.
So it goes.
“Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”
I’ve given all I’ve got at this point. When our young people, who have been away all Summer return in the next week or so, those of us, on the front lines, will step back and go fill our banks, while they step up and take the reins, so to speak.
Tonight, we talked about Gifts. And God. And Sobriety.
Bill believes that God would not exalt one over another. We are all equal in the eyes of God. And with what God gives us, each in our own ways, should accept, and have some humility in the grand scheme of things.
A friend of mine spoke about a conversation he had with one of his friends the other day. He asked his friend if he had heard from God that day, and the answer came back,
When I am listening for Him.
Life is one Big Spiritual Experience, if you want to see it that way. Some do, Some don’t.
Another friend talked about alcoholics and addicts being The Chosen Ones. That pushes the envelope into arrogance. Once you cross that line into ego and arrogance, you’ve lost your humility and grace.
That kind of shit is the first thing that many people recognize right off the bat.
I can ponder my story, now, with the eyes and experience I have, and see where God had stepped into my life and did for me what I could not do for myself. And that means that in all cases, it was another human being who was at the right place at the right time, to get me through certain periods of time in my life.
I’ve seen my fair share of tragedy, death and suffering to last me ten lifetimes.
I know, for me, that when I got sick and was going to die, that had Todd not stepped up and did what he did for me, I would have died like all my other friends who did.
Out of all those people, Todd chose to help me. And Saved my Life.
I can say, without a doubt, that that was a Certain God divined decision.
For my entire life, well back in my teens, I was searching for God. I went to church, I prayed, I attended Seminary, and failed.
When I put down the drugs and the drink for the last time, when I was beaten and broken, and had no where else to turn, I prayed once again. Because up until that point, I had not uttered a prayer, once.
I knew it was the end for me, if I did not STOP.
I prayed for an alcoholic, and that alcoholic appeared. Another God ordained decision.
Today I serve my God to the best of my ability. I do what I can, every day to help my friends and fellows. Even if I don’t want to, I know, that if I just Do the Next Right Thing, God will provide.
We hear, many times from both men and women, that when they come in, bashed and broken, many feel unworthy of anything like freedom or happiness or life. Then they hear the Promises, and they come back for more, waiting for them to come true for them as well. I heard a particular woman tonight say that early on, she felt as if she deserved nothing and was hurting inside. Those feelings of unworthiness are common among many folk, men and women alike. And I’ve heard the slogan that people have repeated to me countless times since I first got sober…
Stick around until the miracle happens.
When I first got sober, a woman who worked at the associated rehab, where I was getting sober, would tell me that every day. The miracle was coming rather quickly. Todd was on the case, and every day that he gave me a reason to hang on and to choose life over death, the miracle was happening. That miracle is still ongoing, because I am still alive. twenty two years later.
Come, Sit, Stay …
You will find that power greater than yourself.
The obsession will leave you, I promise.
And You Too will see how HP, or God, as I call Him, will work miracles in your life as well.
**** **** ****
God never fails us.
It is we who fail God.
For many years God had been trying to get my attention. And I wasn’t aware that I really needed HIM when I was off the beam. Because when I was in SELF, I did not need God. But God waited, and through trial and error, several times He got my attention when needed. It took me until this time around to really consider, living by God’s will and not my own. I never knew that turning my life over, to the degree I did, TOTALLY, that life would be like this. I never imagined it that way, way back then.
I thought that I would find my way “OUT THERE” in the Other World. That included drugs, alcohol and warped thinking. When I moved here, to Montreal, I said to God that I would do this, if HE would take care of me. I really had no idea what I was going to do, when I got here. When I walked into St. Leon’s Parish hall, I settled in for the long haul and i waited upon God. I was steadfast and obeyed every word that was given to me. And here I am, almost fifteen years later.
God did not disappoint.
The rooms provide. I have not had to go outside the room for ANYTHING in all my years of sobriety. You can take that to the bank.
Be careful for what you pray for, because if God thinks you are ready for it, it is going to come, and usually in spades.
But on the flip side, if you get up and want a SHIT DAY, you will get your shit day, because that is where you go in your head.
It is our choice, what we choose to connect with on a daily basis.
Because we all know, and the book says,
All we have is a daily reprieve based on the maintenance of our Spiritual Condition.
If I don’t hear from God directly, that just means I need to hit a meeting and go listen to my friends. Because one way or another, the words will come, I just have to be attuned to listen for them.
That is, to this day, a work in progress.
One day at a time.
Earlier I shared with you what I am listening to via Pod Cast. And I highly recommend that if you like good listening, those Pod Casts are the real deal.
This morning I had an early start, having to run many errands, well into the day, I made a cursory trip into the Village, as it is PRIDE right now, traffic is higher than normal, coming from the West end of town, Eastwards into the Village.
I had placed an order in my favorite shop in the Village last week, and had heard nothing, so this morning I went out to see what was up. Nothing …
The Village is a ride from home.
I was told that my order would be completed by 2 p.m. and could I come back then?
I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.”
I rode the Metro Westward and When I got to McGill Metro, a few stops West of the Village, I was half on my way (all the way) home, and in an instant, I stepped off the train and walked through the station to Place Montreal Trust … There are several shopping malls all interconnected underground, at the McGill Stop.
- Le Cours Mont-real (Peel Metro)
- Place Montreal Trust
- The Eaton Centre
- Complex Les Ailes
- Place Cathedral
- The Hudson’s Bay Company
I was headed to my favorite book sellers, to see if I could get a copy of “Welcome to Night Vale.” I logged onto the stores computer kiosk and found several copies on the shelf. That was a very pleasant purchase, saving me cash and delivery on an online purchase.
I had some lunch, and headed home.
I stopped off and did my groceries and pharmacy pick up and finally made it home. I had two hours to kill. I did my laundry and after folding, I got dressed again, and headed back East into the Village once again. And I was totally satisfied with the design I had put together, and the craft work that my artist did for my piece. And he charged me little to nothing for it too !
We chatted about the PRIDE celebrations taking place, and they asked me to definitely participate with the shop this weekend.
I am headed to Ottawa on the 20th to visit Rafa and attend PRIDE in the Nations Capitol Ottawa – Pride Parade that Sunday. Our Esteemed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been marching in every PRIDE Parade across Canada.
He would be the FIRST sitting Prime Minister to do so in our Nation’s History.
So that is a thing.
The other Fantastic Purchase from Overseas, was probably the FIRST printed Jersey for Mario Gotze, Number 10 – newly re-joined his old club Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund, is a direct competitor of his Former club, Bayern Munich.
A little over two years ago, Mario was a star player, along with his sidekick, Marco Reus. Marco stayed with the club, and Mario sought greener pastures at Bayern.
German players have a problem. They play on a first tier team for a while. They make a name for themselves, they play some good football, then it goes to their heads.
We have seen this happen with several players in the League.
Mario left Borussia for Bayern Munich. And for a short while it was a good move. Until that move proved fatal to Mario’s career. He went from Bayern, to the World Cup, he had several titles to his name. He shot that Winning Goal at the World Cup and that cemented him into the pantheon of Top Tier Players.
That did not last very long.
Mario’s fortunes began to fall. He went from serious pitch time, to almost NO pitch time. And in the end, NO pitch time, that certainly killed his career at Bayern. Not to mention assorted injuries that sidelined him at Bayern.
So they exercised a transfer window – Mario Leaves Bayern and returns to his former Club, Borussia Dortmund, and hopefully, Mario will see his star rise once again. Mario and Marco really made a good team together. They will once again.
A good chunk of money passed between teams to get Mario from Bayern and back into Borussia Dortmund.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, was another Bayern Shining Star. He had great numbers, a career next to none, and was a leading player at Bayern. But Bastian suffered the same issue, with wanting greener pastures in another league.
He left Bayern for the English League, Manchester United. Another Hallowed Football team. Bastian, I think, thought he would make bigger money and have a better career in England.
Sadly, not too long ago, Manchester United, showed Bastian the door. He was cut from the first team. Bastian has been plagued with injury after injury stemming from his time at Bayern and those injuries followed him to England.
And those injuries killed his future with Manchester United.
He was shown the door, and an invitation to play with the junior team, instead. But was told he was not welcome at Manchester United any longer.
Bastian has no return clause to even consider going back to Munich. And Bayern has said that they see no future for Bastian with the Bayern Club again.
Bastian lost BIG. With no where to go and no where to play, he will either retire, as a major player or (he was recently married) could probably start a family and live comfortably. But if his eyes are still on the pitch, finding Bastian a new home needs to happen quickly.
And there are not too many choices on the table right now for him, so it looks bleak.
The Football World is eagerly awaiting Mario’s re-introduction at Borussia Dortmund.
Germans are very proud people, and they might not easily forget, or forgive, Mario’s faux pas and his defection to Bayern, that two years later, now, he returns to his former team.
Mario has said he will work hard to gain respect and trust once again. Hopefully, the Borussia fans will welcome him.
Provided he produces results in the end. So I bought the Borussia Jersey with Mario on the back. He is not listed on the roster yet at the British Printing Company I buy from, but you can order your own jersey, and for some coin, get it personalized.
Now I have 2 jerseys that are collectors items.
Mario’s Bayern Jersey and his World Cup Jersey for the German National Team.
A good day was had by all.
It has been a long birthday day. Which began with breakfast with my sister in laws daughter, Hubby’s niece, so I guess that makes her my niece as well ??? Hmmmm.
Later around noon, we hit the theatre for the noon showing of Absolutely Fabulous.
When a long running, successful, small screen television series finishes its run on tv, and had the numbers and a handful of seriously good episodes, sometimes producers figure that a Silver Screen adaptation of said television show is possible.
Sometimes turning a television show into a movie works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Absolutely Fabulous is a DOESN’T …
If you are going to see a full feature film presentation, then you will be sadly disappointed. If you are going to see the ensemble cast, together again, then you might enjoy this film, along with the assorted cameos, tossed in here and there.
About halfway through the movie, I seriously thought about getting up and going, but since hubby bought the tickets, I sat till the end.
Nuff said …
I had a few hours before my evening event, so we hung out and had a nap, before I had to leave again.
It being the last Sunday of the month, we had a speaker for Step Seven.
Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
Step Seven is the exercise in Humility. Something the world lacks, and is the basis for all the twelve steps.
When I think about Humility, I think of the story I often tell when sharing on this topic.
Not long after I got sick, many years ago, I was working at the bar. I learned many lessons there, about life, myself, others, and survival.
Sadly, In the short term, I did not figure out how to marry these lessons, with my first stint in sobriety. Had I made that connection, and remained, in a few weeks, I would have celebrated 22 years sober. Alas, I did not make it.
So, back to my story …
On certain Saturday night, the bar is packed, and it is late in the night.
I walk into the bathroom and a toilet is overflowing with piss and shit, with water all over the floor. I run up to my boss an start bitching about the pig men in the bar and that they stopped up a toilet, again…
He was like, Go Clean the Toilet and Stop Your Bitching !!!
Being the only “bar back – cleaner” cleaning up messes was my job.
I pull on my rubber gloves and fish out a plastic cup that is shoved into the toilet backwards, that had blocked up the toilet, and none of the guests, saw fit to NOT put that cup in the toilet. They did it on purpose.
I do the job … Not at all happy … But I learned a valuable lesson or two.
If I need a lesson in Humility or Being Right Sized, All I need is to think about that toilet.
The other lesson was more personal.
When you got AIDS, (had you back then), the stages usually went from, healthy human, into sick human, into incontinence, and having to wear diapers, when you went out in public.
Several of my friends lost their ability to remain dry and continent.
The lesson was this … If you learned how to clean up someone else’s shit, if you ever got that sick, in the end, and were in a diaper, I would know how to clean up after myself.
Gratefully, I never got that sick, ever …
Lesson Learned …
It was a great day. We had cake, and guests from my original Home Group on Miami Beach, who know my friends, who still live there, and hit that meeting, the SOBE 10.
July 4th 1994
It was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy.
The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?
Imitate art that week?
I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.
The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.
Anyway, that was that.
Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.
The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went
Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!
I have some news for you.
Yes, what would that be?
I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…
I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!
They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.
Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.
After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Province Town on holiday. But I would eventually call Todd.
Tuesday July 5th, 1994
I got up this morning, with one item on my list of things to do today, and Josh did not sleep all night and was restless and upset. I got him up and ready for work and I drove him to work, and then proceeded to the clinic where my friend Ken was working.
It was in a little “medical mall” type building. The offices were on the second floor of the suites. I parked the car, put up the top and sat in silence and I prayed. “If there is a God up there, please, whatever happens, I am not ready to die.”
I find it peculiar that certain prayers at certain times remain locked in my memory on certain days of my life. I locked the car and walked the fifty feet across the parking lot and went into the office, where I was asked to take a seat and wait. Do you know what it feels like to be told “hurry up and wait?” I just wanted to get this show on the road.
You see, where I worked, at the nightclub, Ken, my friend, was the nurse for the masses. He worked off hours at the free clinic, he donated time to events, and he did home visits and took care of all of our friends who are now dead, at that time, so he had seen a lot of friends die in the five years we lived in Ft. Lauderdale. He was a very emotional man, who wore his heart on his sleeve and I knew that.
This was a hard week for him; any new diagnosis is hard when you are such close friends and part of a dynamic community where everyone knows each other intimately. We had seen each other over the weekend at the bar; I worked all weekend long. He knew that I was sick; because he was the one I went to when things got dicey. I think he knew as I did, but I think we both wanted things to be different. Alas, they weren’t.
Ken was preparing himself to do what he had to do and keep a straight face and be strong in front of me, you know, be positive about things, and keep up appearances so that I would not crack under the pressure.
It was time. Ken came and got me and escorted me to the lab, and he did not look me in the eye the entire time I sat there, tears falling from his face. It was quick, and painless. Afterwards he sent me off into my day. I signed the papers and went for the door; Ken was right behind me. He walked me to my car, and stopped and he sobbed in my arms. I was relatively calm.
You see I was only 26 years old, and many of our friends had been gruesomely sick and died long drawn-out deaths. It was NOT pretty; many of my friends had KS, and cancer and some of my friends lost their minds and many of them died alone, because friends, lovers and family had thrown them out on the streets to die. Ken and I were people who cared for these people from the day they were diagnosed until the day they died. It was sad.
He said that he would call me in a few days and let me know when the tests come back…
And he tried to leave it at that.
I grabbed him and looked into his eyes and I told him,
“I know, and when you call I will know, just by the tone of your voice!”
He kissed me goodbye and I went on with my day.
I don’t remember what I did to pass the time until Josh got off work, but we tried to live normally and not get too upset over things. All I remember is that once the word went around that I had gone for the test, my friends started pulling away. It was the longest week of my life.
Friday July 8th 1994
the week passed by without incident. Thursday I waited impatiently for the phone to ring, and every time it did, I would jump through the roof. Alas, Thursday night I went to bed, knowing that tomorrow it would come.
I got up in the morning and drove Josh to work and returned to the house. It was around 11 am that the phone finally did ring. It was Ken. His voice was shaky on the phone, and all he said was “Jeremy, you need to come to the office, and you need to come now!” Then the line went dead. I got dressed and headed over to the clinic. I already knew the answer, but you never know, right? I parked the car, and said my prayers, and I rested for a moment.
I went up stairs and logged in at the reception desk. Ken was nowhere to be found. After a little while they escorted me into an examination room; it was blue in color, very sterile and cold. I sat down on the table and I waited. A few minutes later the doctor came in, file in hand. I guess he wanted to make sure I was prepared for this.
“Well, no better time than the present,” he said.
Let’s get this over with. “Jeremy, you have AIDS and that’s the bottom line. “
“You are going to die.”
The words rolled off his tongue with the flair and style of a practiced doctor. He sat with me for a few moments while I considered my fate. I think he was hoping that I would say something.
“Thank you for that information,” I replied.
He said that we would need to do a few tests to get started; those labs would show just how compromised my immune system was, and what the next course of action would be.
I did not know how bad things were, but I would soon find out. Back then, who knew from death or life? Drugs were hard to come by, and there surely was no system of treatment in place for me to go to.
He dismissed himself and said that when I was ready, I could leave.
So I gave him a five-minute lead on me, then I gathered up my soul and I walked out the exam room door and out to the car. I looked down from the second floor and Ken was sitting on the hood of my car, waiting for me. When I got down to my car, Ken stood up opened his arms and embraced me; he was sobbing. I stood there; I guess I was in shock. I stood there and held him, while the wave ran over both of us.
I guess I was not prepared to show my cards just yet. We talked for a little while and we set out a plan of action for the next week. I would return to this lab and get some baseline labs drawn to get a more total picture of my immune system and figure out how I was going to proceed. (That’s what eventually happened in the coming days.)
I drove home. I was relatively calm. It’s funny that I was totally prepared to stand up straight and tall and accept my fate, but watching my friends and coworkers and family crack up was very disturbing. People with AIDS were pariahs! You did not touch them, you did not hug them, and you surely did not want your neighbours or family members to know that you socialized with or employed someone who had AIDS, God forbid we infected someone you knew or even transmitted our disease to you by touch or breathing in the same space!
I got home, and I sat in my space and I tried to make some decisions. Who do I tell and when? I don’t remember what I did that day, but I kept myself busy. I called Todd and Roy, and they were on vacation. When Todd got the news, he was sad, and immediately he stepped up to the plate and became the man who would save my life.
That evening, Friday, I went to pick Josh up at work; I forgot to clear the tape deck in the car. The soundtrack to “Philadelphia” was still in there. It was around 5 o’clock when I picked him up; the sun was setting in front of us as we drove West towards the house. I tapped the tape into the deck, and it started to play…
I watched Josh convulse in the front seat, and throw up out the car door. He was hysterical. I did not have to say a word to him, but he knew. When we got home, he went into the bedroom, he packed his duffle bag, without a word, he looked at me, said goodbye, and walked out the door, got into his car, and drove away. That was the last time I saw him.
Crazy S.O.T.B. Redux
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…
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…
The weekend has come to a close. The holiday Weekend has come and gone. The downtown core, saw two parades back to back over two days. Canada Day and Carifiesta celebrations.
The month of July has begun. We successfully covered all the meetings for the month. July is a busy month for anniversaries and birthdays. More on that, in the days to come.
Today was beauty day for both hubby and myself. I was farting around the house, when hubby returned from his beauty appointment. He walked up to me and turned his head towards me and said “do you see it?” I was like, “what?” “you got the same haircut as me?” he was like “NO!”
Vanity has been a topic of discussion here at home. We both have been guilty of denial, where the aging process is concerned. For a long time, we both colored our hair, but at some point last year, I decided I was done with that. So I have been aging as gracefully as I can. Many of my older friends have gone silver in the last year, and it doesn’t seem to bother them, so I said “what the hell, I might as well.”
Hubby, on the other hand, battled vanity to its death, until recently.
It is my belief that, for some, who grow facial hair, at older levels, it is a guarantee that what you get in the growing is a multi-color result. Hubby may dye his hair, but that rat on his face, is three shades of growing older. I mean if you really want to defy growing older, then the hair on your face, should match the hair on your head.
Or else shave it off.
He has decided to give up the battle, and let aging take it toll as it is going to come.
A couple of hours later, it was my turn to sit in the beauty chair. I’ve been working on a certain haircut for the past nine or ten months, and finally, we have an idea of what I want it to look like. The clean, Number One clip around the edge and longer hair on the top, this is a very popular haircut here in Montreal.
If you want to run with the style gurus of Montreal, then you need to pay attention to the myriad of men that ride the Metro every day. The Number One shave and top haircut has been evolving here. It began with an actor I enjoy, then it moved to certain HUMPY cops that work in the city, and ride the rails. Nothing like a clean cut shaved One head on a burly cop with a “to die for” body.
Haircuts are big business here. And they vary widely. The trend we are on, the Buzz One top cut has been going on for about a year now. I see someone with a cut I like, I go back to my stylist and we adapt and see how it looks.
That was my afternoon.
**** **** ****
I’ve been consulting certain sober folks this past week, and I have a couple of more coffee dates set for this week. Which leads nicely into tonight’s writing.
IF YOU HAVE DECIDED YOU WANT WHAT WE HAVE …
“If you have decided you want what we have…” begins what some members term “the most important words in the book Alcoholics Anonymous. That those words invite identification rather than mere external imitation is clear from their placement; they introduce A.A.’s Twelve Steps.
This quote is taken from “The Spirituality of Imperfection” a book I am reading at the moment.
When We arrived at the church my friend reminded me that I was in the chair. I had completely forgot, and was totally unprepared. So I dug the book out of my backpack, and said, well, I will use this book, but it wasn’t approved literature, but this passage was fresh in my mind, because I read it, recently.
I dug out our Big Books, and posed we read the first portion of How It Works, from the book, then work in my quote from the other book.
IF YOU HAVE DECIDED YOU WANT WHAT WE HAVE AND ARE WILLING TO GO TO ANY LENGTH TO GET IT, THEN YOU ARE READY TO TAKE CERTAIN STEPS.
We had a handful of folks from New York and Boston, in town for the weekend, and it is always nice to hear stories from folks from out of town.
One of those men spoke to his “Evolution of Consciousness.”
When we come to the room, the first time, broken and shredded, most of us are not sure what we were going to find, who we might meet, or what we really wanted, beyond getting rid of our OBSESSION to DRINK.
How it Works, always follows the preamble, in every meeting, around the world. Along with the Promises, and a Vision for You, these three reading are the first words that are mentioned in the Big Book, even if we haven’t read the Book, or even know what the Book is, we hear these three readings, taken from certain sections of the Big Book.
Coming to, and learning about others in the room, after a while of listening to stories from those around us, we might hear something that resonates for us, and with a little courage, and maybe over a cup of coffee, we might inquire from someone “What it is they have, because at this point, we might want what that person has.”
Sobriety for me, has been a lesson in Discernment. At least, that is the word that came up in my discussion before the meeting with a friend.
Knowing Who’s got it, How they got it, Where they got it, and Whether or not they want to share what they got is what every newcomer comes to learn in time.
Discernment comes in stages, as we grow over time, and we rack up some sober time under our belts. It starts with one story, and just goes on and on from there.
The first time I got sober, by circumstance I was stuck in a particular meeting. And I knew early on, that I did not want anything from anyone in that room, save my sponsor.
When Todd came into my life, He just about made it plain that, I wanted what He had, and I would find the willingness to go to any length to get what it was He was willing to teach me about survival.
The room did not offer me anything substantial, except someplace to count my first year of time. It was a man Outside that room, who had knowledge that I really needed to have, because figuring out HOW I was going to live amid AIDS, was a hell of a lot more important than sitting in an unhealthy room full of bitchy judgmental queens.
The messages I was hearing from men who, I thought were sober, those first few years, were not congruent with positive support or sobriety. Learning how to survive, was my first order of business. And that sober period did not go anywhere, but back out the door to drink and use again.
The second time I came around, It was Troy who conditioned me back around by his simple message, every day at work that, “He did not drink that day.”
He led me back, and my friend Fonda welcomed me into that meeting the night I returned, and it was her welcome that started this sober period off for me. I wanted, or more to the point, I NEEDED, what my new friends had. And to this day, those initial friends are still in my life today.
I got hooked up in Montreal. And did exactly what I was told, every day, to this day.
I really did not know what I wanted from folks in the beginning. I needed to learn how to live sober. And it was dumb luck that I fell into the lives of certain people that facilitated my survival and life education.
I watched people, and I listened to them as well. I watched people come and leave. And then either return or go back out and drink.
Over the years, I stuck around, I learned quite succinctly, what I wanted, and what I did NOT want. I watched my friends get sober, loose sobriety, go back out and drink. Some returned, others went to their deaths in the bottle.
I tell you, watching your friends kill themselves with the bottle, you quickly realize that whatever the rooms were giving you, it better hold you over and keep you IN, so that you don’t end up OUT there, and dead.
When I hit year eleven, and into year twelve, I was watching our women, in our Tuesday meeting, work the New York sober model. And as they unburdened themselves to each other, I watched the lights rise in their eyes and they were becoming happy and most importantly FREE.
Several of us men in that group, at that time, realized probably for the first time, that we really wanted what they had. That was the first rise in consciousness for us. We then asked some of the women to sponsor us, to which they replied NO.
So the men began gathering and working that model among ourselves.
When the 2012 New York Roundup took place in year twelve, I heard a man, BOB S, speak, and he set me afire with his story. And the second rise took place for me. I went to him and asked for what he HAD, and he shared what he had, and what it took him to GET IT. And said to me that if I wanted what he HAD, that I had to DO THE WORK, to get it.
The depth and strength of your sobriety, results from the real hard work you put into it.
Real Hard Work, will get you top shelf sobriety.
Half Measures Work, will only get you half measure sobriety.
And I wanted the WHOLE HOG.
I was told by BOB that if I followed his direction and did the work, that my life would certainly change. Six or Seven months later, after pounding prayer and the book, God dropped a handful of young men into my life, and a second fellowship that I work in heavily along with A.A.
My life certainly exploded with goodness.
And it has been that way for a few years now. I know today, what I did not know just a few short years ago. I don’t have all the answers, and I am not some spiritual guru. I only have my story and my experience to share.
He who thinks he has captured perfect spirituality, or someone who thinks that they have seized God, really have no spirituality nor any knowledge of God.
That is a direct lesson in Humility.
In recent weeks, it has been made perfectly clear to me that certain men in my life, are not as sober as they claim to be, and it has come as a shock to me, and caused a certain paradigm shift in my sobriety.
I trusted too easily and I gave part of me that I should not have, and paid the price for being too honest, trusting and forthright.
And I got burned badly, to the point that I seriously considered a drink for the first time in a very long time. Thank God, I knew what to do and who to call.
TODAY, I sat with friend, who met another member from New York City, who is leading small group of merry sober folks, through the Book and the Steps again. And in a matter of a couple of weeks, my friend has been rocketed into the fourth dimension.
TODAY, she offered to take me along with her on this sober journey. I am certainly ready to work, and once again, I really want what that member and my lady friend have.
Another shift in consciousness has taken place.
If you come, and you see, and you decide you want what we have, if you stick around long enough, this too will happen for you, I guarantee it.
Every so often, someone with fire, walks into a room and speaks. And if you are lucky, you too will be caught up in that fire, and your life and your sobriety will get a jump start into the next dimension.
There are many in our rooms, and we follow each other around, sitting and listening, and every once in a while, a new experience presents itself.
That is when the iron is HOT, and if that happens for you, Get On It.
Take that step. Turn up he heat, Step into the unknown, and see what happens.
Tonight that same lady friend spoke about a question the New Yorker asked her recently:
HOW FREE DO YOU WANT TO BE ???
The whole purpose of getting sober, is to one day be
HAPPY, JOYOUS AND FREE….
If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it, THEN you are ready to take certain STEPS.
It is all about HONESTY, OPEN MINDEDNESS AND WILLINGNESS.
How honest are you, How willing are you and How open minded are you ?
If you cannot answer these questions right now, there IS a solution.
One day at a time …
Only in the province of Quebec, does everyone move on one single day of the year. I mean, people do move, on other days, but the law is that July 1st is moving day, because most leases are written from July to July. And we get around the Winter, so you’re not moving in the snow and cold, which is why July is the moving month.
I like to tell my friends that, if you really don’t have to move, then don’t.
There is a running joke in the rooms here that says:
“You know what happens on the second date ? A moving truck appears.”
I was Canada Day today as well. And I got to see the parade as it passed in front of our building, because we are located at the Step Off for all parades in the Downtown core.
We look West, so we have to go downstairs to see them.
Rafa, who got his citizenship last fall, is celebrating his first Canada Day as new citizen for the first time tonight. We missed him this evening at the meeting. We are very proud of him today.
It was a good night, it rained during the run up to the meeting, but we produced the numbers as usual. Tonight was the last night that I entertained my drama.
So I have more photos for you to see instead of another rant.
The first, is of Montreal’s Gay Village, on the East end. I had to go out to the U Haul to get my refund and file accident papers, so on the way home, I walked through the village to see the pedestrian mall, the decorations, and to do a little window shopping.
The entire village, during the summer, is cordoned off from car traffic except for the side streets that run North and South. The East West corridor is shut down for pedestrians and there are tents with all kinds of art and resto terraces along the way as well.
There are these pink baubles that are hung between the buildings all the way from one end of the village to the other. It is very festive, indeed.
I stopped into my favorite store and saw a friend, who I consider a 100% STUD. We met when I moved here, and he is always in the store when I visit. The village, as it in, on that side of town, I don’t usually go to the village, (I know bad gay) often, unless I am shopping for something particular.
Montreal Pride is always late in July, towards the tail end of the summer PRIDE schedule.
Then we move on to home photos. Wednesday, we moved all the furniture from Baby Mama’s apartment, and we gained the last new pieces of furniture we needed to complete our home renovations. We have a designer bed now, we’ve been sleeping on a futon for the last twelve years, since hubby and I decided to shack up. And now we have dressers for clothes, when, in the past, they were piled up on top of stuff we had stacked on the bedroom wall. Also, the bedroom had no curtains, because we just could not find stuff that worked with our window frames.
It has been an exciting week, for sure. Baby Mama’s gift was something very special, that I was able to share with hubby.
Another week in the books.
Lots of Gratitude…
Yesterday was a BIG day. It was the final responsibility for me to close Baby Mama’s chapter here in Montreal. For the last few months, since she and the baby have gone, it fell to me to clean out the apartment, get rid of all the baby furniture and goods, which had been done early on.
Yesterday was the final move. I chose to wait on this move, to aid one of my friends who needed help to move to HER new apartment yesterday. So we coordinated a date to move so that we had one truck, and three moves planned. Yesterday evening we had a truck rental for a three hour block. We loaded up the furniture going to her apartment and then loaded everything else she needed moved into the truck and made a one stop load/unload run.
We then went back to Baby Mama’s and loaded the bedroom set and trucked it over to my apartment. Now we have completely replaced ALL the old furniture with new stuff. This was Baby Mama’s gift to me when she decided to move.
I cleaned up the apartment. locked the door, and turned in the keys to the management. And with that, this chapter is now closed.
The tough part of yesterday was the my “former” sponsor was driving the truck. I was emotionally and spiritually prepared for whatever was going to go down. But when I got in the truck, not a word was mentioned.
No words, No apology, Nada, NOTHING.
On the way to my apartment building my sponsor hit a car with the truck and damaged it. He got out of the truck and said to me, in front of my husband, “Let’s get out of here and nobody will know who hit the car.”
Hubby was not amused. We left a note on the car for the driver, telling him what happened, and to contact me today, which he did.
“Former Sponsor has no scruples, and is cold and calculating.”
He could not extricate himself from the situation any faster than he did. When he realized that he had done something uncouth, he took off in the truck to return it.
Now I am stuck dealing with a damaged car, and a truck rental company, because I was the one who rented the truck, but wasn’t the driver of said truck.
And do you think he called me today to inquire if everything was alright? Nope, Nothing, NADA … He abandoned me to deal with this alone, like he wants nothing to do with this, when he was the one who caused the accident.
FUCK ME !
Tomorrow, on the busiest day in Quebec moving history, July 1st, people will be all over the place, because tomorrow is MOVING DAY in the entire province of Quebec. And I have to go there and take care of my refund and an accident insurance claim.
This evening was our regular Thursday night gathering. We listened to Step Six and a Speaker, afterwards. Once again, I listened to my friends, before I said a word.
Reading: The Spirituality of Imperfection.
I shared what I had to say. And after the meeting, a friend waited for me to talk. He has a particular view of the program, the people in it, his experience, and his knowledge of my story. I’ve said before, that my friends are paying closer attention to me, than I am paying attention to me.
He made several observations.
Several times I’ve had run in’s with Heterosexual Men who’ve sent me away, told me to leave, and recently, been bullied to tears, by my “former” sponsor.
There is a pattern there.
We spoke about my reading, and what the book says, and he added that, “at what point, do you own your feelings and who you are, and be able to express anger and sometimes righteous anger for the right reason, and say, Enough is ENOUGH.
Some of my friends, tell me that I have to allow him his feelings and reactions, to give him permission to be who he is, at 32 years sober, to treat me the way he treated me, being part of “Community” striving for a “Spiritual solution” with others, who we are supposed to care about and support.
Community, as the book says, is supposed to be a safe place, where like minded people, are heading in the same direction. People who care about each other, don’t knock one another down, they don’t humiliate them, or bully them.
Friends don’t do that to friends.
My former sponsor was NEVER my friend, and for most sponsors, in the circle he runs in, sponsors are not sponsees friends. And that should be acceptable ?
I did not get a phone call, in all these days and weeks. Yesterday, I did not get one word of concern or accountability. And I was prepared for that as well. So that did not burst any bubble for me.
But my friend, this evening, said, perfectly clear, that I really should not allow someone to get away with what I have let get away with, and not said a word sideways. At what point, am I going to own ME, and say things that might not be politically correct or sober, for that matter.
Because “Silence gives consent.”
Some of my friends, encouraged me to not say a word, and allow what happened, as “well, he was treated badly as a child, so that should give him permission to treat others, that way.” Um, NO.
Some of my friends have told me that “He is cold heart-ed and that that is who he is and not to expect the proper response, even with 32 years of sobriety.
I have also been told, by a friend, that, “You might have the time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you are SOBER.” Wise words …
Those who I trust for advice have said what they have said, advice wise. I’m in the book, talking to Holy people. The other day, I spoke to my spiritual director about forgiveness, and told him what happened, and he said that I am justified in my feelings.
Someone in a Spiritual Mentor/Sober Sponsor/Adviser Position, if said person crosses the line where trust and respect is the rule, and they betray that trust and respect, then you let them go and you walk away.
Note … If you are in an abusive relationship, you have two choices, You either leave and move on, or you go back for more punishment.
Pathological abuse by someone who is long sober, is COLD and CRUEL. And one should never allow another human being to treat you any less than, for any reason.
The hell with sober time.
Friends don’t shit on each other. And people working towards the same goal, of spiritual growth and healing, have love and compassion, and treat each other with respect, at least, that “should be the rule, right?” Obviously, that isn’t the case for some.
Every day brings another point of view, when I talk to my friends, and I get another angle on perspective. I think that is a good thing.
It is sad. Because I have entered into a Paradigm shift in sobriety. If I don’t stick with my friends right now, I am sunk.
Tomorrow is Canada Day.
It is also the best night of the week, because all the people I care about will be there, less my best friend, who will be celebrating on Parliament Hill tomorrow evening.
His move went well, they love the new apartment, and they are only 5 blocks from Parliament. Cool Beans. I know where I am going when I visit them.
End of Rant…
BBC Europe News
Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologize to gay people for the way it has treated them.
He told reporters that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.
The pontiff also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalized – women, the poor, and children forced into labour.
The Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals.
But some conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.
Speaking to reporters on his plane returning from Armenia, the Pope said: “I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”
Pope Francis said the Church should seek forgiveness from those whom it had marginalized.
“I think that the Church not only should apologize… to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”
In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said then.
Saying those words, does not change what the Catholic Church, still holds fast to, in Church teaching on the subject of homosexuality.
I will say that Francis, in my readings of him, He is Pastorally inclined to support many people, but the Church Minions, as old as they are, are still stronger than the Pope. Francis can say all the words he wants, but his hands are tied by the Curia to really make official change to Church Canon.
He may want to support, love and respect the LGBT community. But the men who sit in the Curia are old and set in their ways, and real change does not come easily to the Church that is as old as the Catholic Church.