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Posts tagged “Integrity

Essay: Vulnerability

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It is Tuesday, a day off. I watched a You Tube Video about Candice Neistat, with Bryan Elliott, which lead to a TED talk with Brene Brown, about vulnerability.

Bryan shared a quote from Brene that said:

“The depth that we are willing to be vulnerable is the measure of our courage.”

When He heard that quote, it floored him. When I heard the quote from him, I had to go to the source to understand its context.

I’ve been working to understand what the entire last year has been about, and why things panned out the way they did, and I think it comes down to being totally vulnerable, honestly and authentically.

Over my life, there have been times when I have been brutally honest, and totally vulnerable. Take for instance, finding out I was sick and was going to die.

Utter devastation makes one vulnerable, because we have lost control, we are not in control, and we end up, out of control, in many ways.

In a sense, I was too vulnerable for my own good, because in that vulnerability to be honest and authentic, scared everyone away. I was in the mix, and my friends and family could not handle the honest, gut wrenching truth.

The person that I was truly vulnerable with, was Todd. He was humble and a force to be reckoned with, when it came to my dignity and my life. Over those years, I shed a great many tears in front of him, with him, and because of him. That is something that I can say, changed my life.

A little while later, I stood up, in front of a room full of alcoholics like me and was vulnerable, once again. I alienated them, and they asked me to go away. So much for wearing my death on my sleeve.

Imagine having your heart crushed by someone when you are sharing the deepest darkest fears of your soul. In the attempt to recover from numbing your emotions for so long.

Brene says that you cannot selectively numb certain emotions, and not affect the others along with them.

In sobriety, I have been vulnerable to a certain degree. And it has taken almost all of my sobriety, to finally tap that well of vulnerability, like I have tapped over the past year.

I may not have tapped it, but it certainly tapped me.

People who are authentic:

  • Have the courage to be Imperfect
  • They are Compassionate to themselves first, then to others
  • They believe connection is the result of Authenticity
  • And they Believe that they are Worthy
  • That fully embracing their Vulnerability makes them Beautiful
  • And that Relationships are Fundamental parts of existence for us all
  • Connection is why we are here on earth. To Connect and not be Alone

Brene goes on to say that Vulnerability is at the core of:

  • Shame
  • Fear
  • And the Struggle for Worthiness
  • Which is the Birthplace of Joy, Creativity, Belonging and Love

I can see, in hindsight, where I shut down that part of myself. Not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. You might think that I was stoic, on certain occasions, but I don’t think it was stoicism, but maybe fear, numbness and an inability to articulate what was going on in my head.

I’ve spoken about those points in life where I was totally vulnerable and sunk in a pit of despair. I can name them, because the list is very short.

  • The day I identified James’s body at the morgue after his suicide
  • The night I told Todd that I was going to die
  • The day I said goodbye to Todd
  • And the emotional response I had to the Orlando Massacre

The last episode was the worst, in many, many years. I had not cried, as I did, since James’s death, the many nights I cried on Todd’s shoulder, struggling with death and his insistence on my survival. Many tears were shed during those two years of intensive work on myself, at Todd’s direction.

That Tuesday night, at the meeting, when I fell apart, it was a cathartic response, to the story that we were reading from the back of the Big Book, the emotional state I was in, because of the massacre, and the fact that only one human being thought to call to see if I was ok.

Then the reaction of my sponsor who humiliated me and accused me of expecting to be treated differently than the others in the room, when all I wanted was a little compassion, that my fellows and my sponsor could not accommodate.

Instead of understanding and compassion, for my vulnerability, I was humiliated and shut down, by people who were incapable of understanding.

I had friends, who were long sober. Whom I thought loved me. They cared for me and supported me, and did charitable acts for me, inside of an organization that I belong to, that I have not set foot in since many months ago.

I ran my steps with a woman I trusted. I told her my deepest and darkest secrets, and she knew my story, and had been involved with my sobriety for a very long time. When I got through my steps she said to me that I was angry and that she and the other women were afraid of me and that I should, in essence, go away …

I raised my voice at a business meeting, then ensued a mass running for the hills by my friends, fellows and sponsees. I had a rough night, and got punished for it with silence and judgment by people I spent an inordinate amount of time with. And when it came time to speak to that truth, I did so. Which probably alienated them all the way gone.

So much for being vulnerable.

I have some fatal flaws that always get in the way of my relationships with others.

  • I have an idealistic belief that every human being has ONE redeemable quality, that lends to forgiveness and love.
  • I believe in people, from the get go.
  • I trust people, from the get go, which stems from the rooms and my belief that most people are good.
  • I am also judgmental of some. I can spot bullshit and arrogant men, and people who would do me harm, at 50 paces
  • Living with AIDS gives me certain perspective on people, a talent I learned to save my own peril from those who would do harm to me.

This is what I have been feeling and experiencing over the past year. And now I understand it as well.

The price I paid for vulnerability was the loss of many people in my life, who either could not stand my depth of honesty or their understanding and commitment to compassion and love.

Such is life in the world of the alcoholic.

I also know today, that resentment and anger, pointed towards people,is sometimes pointless and wastes valuable energy towards others, when I should be pointing that energy towards myself. And that I need to be a bit more compassionate, understanding and forgiving, and also have a sense of pity for certain people in my life.

It is not always my fault for the reaction or beliefs of certain people in my life. I did not create them, and I am not responsible for their reactions to me, and/or towards me.

Not everyone we know, Not every one we meet, and Not everyone we spend time with are meant to be in our lives forever. In each interaction, there is a lesson to be learned about them and about ourselves.

This has been a year of learning about myself and others, in regards to the way others react to what is going on in my life, in the sense of honesty, integrity, vulnerability and authenticity.

It is true that, for the most part I am totally honest in some ways, but reserved in other ways. I don’t necessarily share my opinions, but when I do, they certainly cause people to look at me with second glances.

Hence, the loss of so many friends and fellows over the past year.

I get a sense that vulnerability comes in waves, as I am able to deal with them. And it seemed to me that they came fast and furiously for a while. It was BANG, BANG, BANG, one after the other.

That dam, failed. And vulnerability came.

I had no way to stop it once it began.

Not sure if I am done with it, but it makes sense now.

We shall see …


Thursday: I Don’t know but I am trying to find out, OK !

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Last night, I heard from my Spiritual director, who lives in another province, tell me that his doctors have told him that he was terminally ill, and that he has an illness that will eventually take his life, as it had taken the lives of his grandfather and father alike.

God is really the most important vital sign. If he wants you to stay, there is not way you can go, and if you are meant to go, there is no way to keep you here.

I am a very lucky man, to have a young man in my life, who has this kind of Wisdom.

I have walked many people through this minefield, that is the most unknown of places. That place of One day, being alive and fearless, to the next day, when a doctor tells you that your days are numbered, and that eventually, your body will not be able to do what is had been doing for over fifty years, and death is imminent.

How do you tell someone you care about, that they need to remember to breathe, and as long as there is air in their lungs, they should live ??? That was the exact advice I gave my friend, along with those wise words from my Elder.

If your heart, knowing it is, at some point, going to give out on you, turns towards the finality of death, and you forget that living is still on the table, that usually hastens death quicker.

No matter how dire the warning and the knowledge that all the cards are on the table, and death is going to come sooner than later, My friend, at least, HAS a game plan, a plan of action. I just thought that reminding him that he still had a life, a family that needs him, a wife who is living the journey with him, children flung all over God’s world, who still need a father, I needed to remind him, that right now,

LIFE is the most important thing in his life.

If we wake up, every morning, and we are alive … Then that IS a GOOD day.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !

Every Thursday night, when I get home, I dial an Elder on my I Phone. And with the latest technology, I am in the presence of a young man I love, who is my friend, and spends some of his time, with me. Just like we did when he was here.

I learned this week, that my Elder friend is Pre-Med. I am totally in awe of him, knowing who he is, and how he sees the world, Folks, we are going to have one really great doctor some day, I’m just sayin ….

I am truly grateful.

NO, is not part of my vocabulary…

Last week, I was on the hunt for product. And Google had led me down many dead ends. But from those Google results, those results were coming from the Pacific rim. Australia and New Zealand.

I know someone who lives in Australia. So I tweeted him asking him for his help. I got a reply, and that reply said two things. NO, and I cannot help you.

Never say NO to me. Ever.

I mean that in the best of terms. I don’t ask my friends or people I know for many things. And after doing whatever homework I needed to do, and I get to the point that I need to ask someone for some help, and you tell me NO, from the get go … Before you even hear the WHY I asked you for help You can …

FUCK the right off …

In recovery, NO is not part of our vocabulary. Obviously, there are some people I know who are too self centered and selfish to want to even ponder the thought of being of some help to someone who asked for it.

Anyways, This week has been very good. I found product I wanted. One of my friends helped me as a mail drop, because I could not get delivery to Canada, and that package is on its way today. Two other packages are also on their way as well, another from the U.S. and one from the U.K.

I returned to major seller platforms and U.K. Websites that proved to be genuine.

I heard it said to me that if you get asked to speak at St. Matthias, then you have MADE IT.

This is what our young lady said first tonight.

Obviously, I have not MADE IT YET … And I’ve been sitting in that room for more than twelve years. And nobody has ever asked me to speak there.

We heard a newbie girl speak tonight, just over her first year. I thought to myself, I did not speak for a very long time, when I first got sober. There is some wisdom to putting a newbie in the hot seat, early on. Because they get to hear their story, at that specific point IN their journey, from their own mouths.

ONE, it gives them early perspective. And TWO, they get a baseline in where they are, because after the meeting, they are going to hear everyone in the room, thank that person for their share, and then offer them some wisdom from their own journey.

In the end, our young lady told her story, and then heard from the rest of us, what she might expect if she sticks around …

On Being a Man …

We are MEN, trying to figure out what it means to be a MAN, AND trying to figure out HOW to get there.

In our little group of friends, all of us at various ages, in the rooms, are trying to figure out what our manhood’s are going to look like, and what we want our lives to look like, and some buzz words that pop up are Humility, Integrity, My Elder also adds the words God and Spirituality to the mix, these, I think are crucial for a well rounded life as a man, in the rooms of recovery.

We all agree, among ourselves, that a Spiritual Foundation laid with care, can be one of the most important components in someone’s life.

Man or Woman.

And by extension, One of my guys has Million Dollar Millennial on his watch.

We are fathers to boys, who don’t really have fathers in their lives, trying to figure out what to do for the most people, to the best of our abilities.

I don’t know, but I am trying to find out, OK !