It was a good day. Filled with friends and good wishes. I started the day with a stiff broom, sweeping out the trash. I got my laundry done in the morning. I can toss a load in the washer and then get my grocery shopping done during the dry …
I even got a nap in.
Tonight we went to Fire Grill. I had invited my friend Juan and his girlfriend Nadia to join us for a meal. It was really nice. We don’t get to spend much time together outside of meetings, so tonight was a treat.
I have a plan. And this week that new plan begins.
We are going to go meet new people and hit some new meetings.
Now we will all find out what living in my fifties is going to look like together.
Thank you all for subbing and reading and joining the conversation.
Writing this little blog is an act of love, every day.
The fact of life, when you are sober is, Life Does Not Stop, It Keeps On Going.
I know that feelings pass, as the days go by. The less we hold on to impermanent things, the better off we are. I’m sad about the death of a man who was uber talented. But that was yesterday. Being so many degrees separated from the epicenter of tragedy, tells me that I can mourn and move on.
So we move on.
I left really early, so I could commune with the dead via music. I arrived at the church with PLENTY of time to do my thing, ALONE. About ten minutes to seven, I was finished setting up and I went to sit outside.
Squirrels were bouncing through the tree canopy. And something very spiritual happened. Something I know to be true to me, that hasn’t happened in a very long time.
Birds are a very significant signs in my life. As I was sitting outside on the steps, I looked in a tree nearby, and there was a Red Breasted Robin sitting in the branches.
She came out of the tree, and landed about six feet from where I was sitting. And she came close and ran around the ground around where I was sitting.
The red breasted robin is significant, because the robin is a spiritual manifestation of my grammy. When ever she comes to visit, it is the robin who shows up.
All my dead relatives came back as birds. My grammy, my grampy and Memere.
That was spiritually significant. I had not been visited like that in a very long time.
We sat a full house, and then some. Lots of visitors from out of town. We are amid the summer visitor rush. The Friday night meeting is unique in many ways. There is not another meeting like ours, in all the city, on the English side.
Tonight’s read spoke about: The Honeymoon. Or as some may call it, the Pink Cloud period that sometimes takes place, in the weeks and months following our entry into the rooms.
Once you sink into your chair and you find your voice, one begins to participate in greater abilities. It seems, for some, that the realities of life, have been suspended.
We spend a little time with our fellows, and some of those fellows become friends as we find our ways. That is a good thing. We may need a little respite from the insanity we have come to learn how to let go of.
My warning to newbies is always the same …
You might be sitting on your pink cloud and everything seems in order as the insanity you walked away from is abated for a while. But like all things natural, life does go on around us. It just does not take a vacation.
It is just waiting for us. And hoping that we’ve learned something minimal by now is the key, so that when the cloud edge comes, you don’t fall off of it, and hit the ground with a THUD. Some go back out, and drink and use again, shit happens.
I’ve seen this happen. So I encourage our men and women to stick close to others in the rooms. Find commonalities. Use the rooms as they present themselves to you.
You CAN, figuratively, GET anything you need from the rooms. That worked for me famously. But times have changed. The rooms fifteen years ago, are not the rooms of 2017.
For me, the first eleven months were really great. I was connected. I had a sponsor that i was connected to with an umbilical cord through my first anniversary.
Sobriety, like life, happens, and sometimes sober people do really Un-Sober things.
At the eleventh month mark, I met my then boyfriend, and the race took off.
That Christmas of 2002, hubby went home to Ottawa and he gave me keys to the apartment we live in today, and said I could stay here, while he was gone.
I never left … tee hee
That was the beginning. Once that train left the station, it never stopped.
The honeymoon was definitely OVER.
Learning how to have a sober relationship took A LOT of work. Learning how to be responsible for another human being, was the beginning of my reaching the point I had been looking for for the whole of my life.
When does a boy become a man ??? Gay or Straight, the answer is the SAME.
Boys become MEN when we learn to put the needs of our significant others before our own.
Putting a home together took YEARS.
This apartment was sterile, dirty white. Take out containers were all over the place. The tv was black and white and had rabbit ears. We did not have a computer. We did not have food in the fridge. We did not have two nickles to rub together.
There were 300 empty beer bottles on the balcony, that took months and months to return, so we could buy groceries. Hubby was a pot head, so we had to cleanse the apartment of weed, rolling machines and papers … UGH !!!
Yesterday I was reorganizing the closet and I found another rolling machine, and a package of papers … Does this ever end ???
Needless to say, it was one thing after another. Mental illness happened. I learned how to care for my boyfriend who was sick for almost a year. That was a huge challenge.
Then he woke up, and we got married …In November 2004.
The Honeymoon was deferred until December that year. Things were honeymoonish for a few weeks.
That did not last for long.
Thirteen years would pass, until that final PROMISE came to pass …
Fear of People and of Economic Insecurities will leave us …
The grind of life took us on a life changing journey together. And we survived it.
In year thirteen and beyond life got exponentially better.
It was clearly NOT a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.
We both worked our asses off. Went back to school, we amassed 5 University degrees between us.
Sobriety grew on us and not without its challenges.
Life is SO much better today than it was a little more than fifteen years ago.
I had 11 months of non stop meetings. I had 11 months of a sponsor who was part of my life on a daily basis. I had aftercare rehab counseling for two years when I got sober this time. I had everything I needed and NOT a single thing more.
I worked my ass off, for twelve years in sobriety, before BOB came into my life and turned my sober life upside down. I thought I was doing everything right, WRONG …
Bob introduced me to Intense Prayer and Meditation, like I had never heard before.
Three – Seven – Eleven …
My sobriety was definitely enhanced.
Twelve through fifteen was all about learning MORE about the book.
Year Fifteen has been one Hellacious, Terrible, Emotional, Nightmare.
I never want to go through this kind of pain ever again in my life.
In ten days, I will be Fifty years old.
It works if you work it.
Where we are today is a direct result of decisions we’ve made as far back as ten years or lifetimes ago, and as recently as last night.
We have a tremendous personal responsibility for the way our life has turned out, and an equally important role of steering it into the future. Although we constantly make decisions, we’re not always mindful of their far reaching consequences.
Here is the catch: the path of LEAST resistance will often take you farther from your destination than the seemingly more difficult one, but an easy trek in the wrong direction is ultimately far more exhausting and devastating than the uphill climb toward euphoria.
Instead of looking to blame others for your dilemma, look within. Any circumstance (no matter how devastating it may seem), is not only caused by a past event, but is actually a blessing if we gain wisdom from it. History doesn’t have to repeat itself if we can learn from our mistakes the first time around.
Treat every living being, including yourself, with kindness, and the world will immediately be a better place.
Buddhist Boot Camp pages 17,18…
If you really want to do something,
you will find a way.
If you don’t, you will find an excuse.
E. James Rohn
I’ve been dealing with another round of rage and anger. The book says I need to pray for those I resent and are angry at. I say No to that idea, categorically.
I will NEVER, I repeat, NEVER utter one word of prayer for my father, my mother, or my brother, in no uncertain terms. I don’t care if it eats me alive. As long as I don’t drink over it, so be it.
I will never offer God my words of prayer because of choices they made in my life. I would never ask God to give them ANYTHING, EVER. That would be a waste of my good prayer life, my prayer energy and my values and morals.
God knows what needs to be done about this situation.
Twenty years ago, I made one decision about my life. I never thought about the far reaching circumstances that would arise from that one decision.
Sixteen years ago, I made a second decision, which brought me here to Montreal. The only goal I had in mind for myself was the better life I wanted for myself. I never imagined that it would get this good, or that I would live this long to see it happen.
Now, in hindsight and a little Buddhist Boot Camp, I see just what circumstances befell me in making those two critical decisions in my life and where they took me to date.
Fifty is just days away now …
Gratitude really matters.
That which makes your heart beat, the name you give it, isn’t as important as the appreciation you have for it.
Let go the need to know.
Is my behavior in line with my values ???
Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 2, 2017 6:57PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 2, 2017 8:23PM EDT
OTTAWA — Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie made a rare public appearance Sunday to bring attention to the ongoing plight of some of Canada’s young indigenous people, likening it to the same kind of pain young people suffered in the now defunct residential schools.
He told young people gathered at festivities surrounding “We Day,” the movement inspired by children’s rights activist brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, that they can learn a lot about the history of government-funded, church-run residential schools, where indigenous children endured widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse.
Standing on the stage set up on Parliament Hill for Canada Day weekend, Downie said that indigenous children in parts of Canada still must travel great distances to go to school, likening it to “the pain, the torture and the death,” suffered in the residential schools.
Indigenous leaders say children regularly leave to the nearest urban centre to get education and health care services not offered in remote communities. There have been cases where the young people have died because get caught up in risky behaviour because they lack community supports.
“It is still happening even though the residential school has gone away. Kids are still having to travel great distances to live and go to school,” Downie said, with silence filling the pauses between his words.
Downie is suffering from an incurable form of brain cancer and makes few public appearances, but has used those to be a voice for the country’s indigenous peoples and the harm caused by the residential school system.
One day after the country marked 150 years, Downie used his brief time on stage to speak about the “new” country that would be born in the next 150 years.
“Yours is the first generation in the new and real Canada. I love you,” he said to applause.
“You and yours, the indigenous, together will make this a true country now, one true to your word. The new 150 years, not the old one. The new one. Exciting and true.”
The path to reconciliation was a key theme of the Canada Day weekend in the nation’s capital, which saw a group of indigenous activists erect a demonstration teepee on Parliament Hill as part of what they called a “reoccupation” to bring attention to the history of indigenous people. It was removed on Sunday.
The federal Liberals have been the focus of political heat over the party’s sweeping promises to First Nations, amid increasing pressure to comply with a human rights tribunal’s order to properly fund First Nations child welfare services.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Downie and those in attendance that Canadians and their government must accept responsibility for “our failings” as the country tries to help victims and their families heal decades-old wounds.
“Gord, your work is a powerful reminder of all that still needs to be done to acknowledge one of the darkest chapters in our history and make things right with Canada’s First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit peoples.”
After Trudeau spoke, a school choir performed Downie’s song “The Stranger,” the lead track off his solo album Secret Path that tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack. Wenjack died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.
Downie had previously performed the song at a “We Day” event in Toronto in October. This time, he stood to the side, appearing emotional at times, and tipping his hat to the choir when they all donned sparkling purple hats similar to the one Downie wore during the Hip’s last tour last year.
As the choir walked off the stage, Downie shook the singers’ hands and thanked them.
Last night, I went across my social media accounts and the blog, and got rid of all kinds of old information, photos and material.
You will see, today, the fruits of that late night effort. The blog has been scrubbed of old and outdated personal information. The photo log on the sidebar has been freshened up with new images, reflective of where I am in my life.
The last week of March, I began the Keto Genic Diet. Next week is the beginning of May. I will accrue two months and a little longer on the diet. At the end of May, I drop labs across the board. This Keto Diet, removes sugar, carbs, sweets. soda, and junk foods and moves towards an entirely new dietary regimen.
I continue to drop weight. Hence the sporty tone of the blog and my present state of mind. A gym and exercise schedule has been added to the dietary regimen. I am hoping that this change of lifestyle has changed the insides, as I was told they would, if I adhered to the diet religiously.
I’ve updated the Gravatar and updated the About Me section on Gravatar and above in the About Me Page up top.
The march towards fifty continues. As it goes, every day it feels a little more comfortable and this new way of life has been working well.
People are noticing the changes in my looks and my figure. This week people have been commenting to me that I’ve seriously changed physically, and they all tell me that I’ve never looked better in as many years.
Something seems to be working.
It is not too late to change your life.
My friends all care about me, and when it mattered, they spoke to me and told me that I needed to make some changes in my life. And I listened to them.
And now we are here, today.
Thanks to all my new subs and my dedicated readers to the blog.
“Because without you, I am indeed, talking to myself …”
Joey Elias, CJAD Comedy host.
In the Book of Genesis, God said that it was not good for Adam to be alone, So he took a rib from Adam and created Eve. Adam was no longer alone.
- How many of us grew up alone ?
- How many of us are alone ?
- And how many of us drank ALONE ?
My grandmothers, the two women I hold in my heart, believed in me. And while they were in my life, for those brief years, I was not alone. My father, in his misguided way, thought that we, as a family, were better off :
And over my childhood, alienated every family member out of our lives, so he could shape his family, in his own image, without the influence of anyone else.
As a thirteen year old, loosing that connection to the women who helped me stay alive, amid the violence and alcoholism that pervaded our family, was catastrophic.
I always kept to my room, even when my father took the door off the hinges. I was never alone, my father was always in my face. But there were times, when I was alone. And looking back now, I see how alone I really was.
Everybody knew about the alcoholism. Nobody spoke of it, or offered a solution to the problem. And Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say. Nobody allowed me to speak my mind or my heart.
When I had a job, that job was my life. There were several successive jobs that I really loved, and did well. I was not alone at work. The last job I had before I moved away from home was in a travel agency, where alcohol was served during business hours.
Over the ensuing years, those people I worked with got sober, while I remained a spinning tornado in their lives. In hindsight, none of them offered me “The Solution,” until I found my way to the rooms, by force when Todd saved my life.
I was a lone drinker, however, I drank in a bar, with people around me. I had many bell weather friends, but nobody who knew anything about life beyond drinking, drugging and having sex.
When I moved away to be Gay, I was told, by a shrink, that in order to fit in, I had to drink. So that is what I did. I never found the holy grail. I never found the answers I was seeking or the total acceptance that I was craving.
Being a lone alcoholic is a terrible way to live. Being around people, en mass, was not the answer. Nobody was paying attention, except to know what they wanted to take from me in the end.
It wasn’t until I got sober in 1994, that Todd had come to me, and picked me up off the parking lot pavement and took me in. For that first couple of weeks, he had stationed Danny in my apartment to keep an eye on me when we weren’t working at the bar.
Those first two years, with Todd, were the greatest period of my life. I was not alone any more. Todd was there to show me how to survive. How to live soberly, and he kept me above the water, when everybody else was sinking fast.
As long as He was there, I was fine. It was when he moved away, and I found myself alone, WITH TOOLS, but not having the ability to make things work by myself.
I just could not do it ALONE.
When I returned from my slip, I found a place to live, from a woman who thought it would be good to rent to me so that I would not be alone. And from that apartment, came the job that would change my life.
Still drinking, I had to get to the end. And I did eventually.
The day Troy walked into my life an uttered those simple words …
I did NOT drink today … He led the way into sobriety again, the second time.
When I moved to Montreal, Tuesday Beginners became my home. I went there religiously for the following eleven years. That was the home group that made this life possible. Because my Home Group was hallowed ground.
My first sponsor, David, attached himself to me with an invisible tether. For a year, he took care of me, and I was not alone.
On my first anniversary, he ceded control, and that very night, was the first night I spent with my then boyfriend, who is now my husband.
God spoke and said that “it is not good for Jeremy to be alone …”
I’ve not been alone, from that moment on … To This Day.
There have been times, as I sat, where I am sitting at this very moment, in the middle of the night, as midnight closed in on me, mentally and emotionally, and felt that I was terribly alone with my sorrows, my trials, and my tribulations, when hubby was sick.
As long I was hitting my meetings, I was never alone.
I am better at being alone today. And I love the hours of the day when I am home alone. Because for many hours of the days, weeks, months and years, I am never alone.
I don’t think I could ever live alone again. And I am not sure what I would do if I ever found myself alone, for some UN-forseen circumstances.
The rooms provide.
That is a refrain that I repeat to my friends. The rooms of 2001 and beyond, here in Montreal, are not the same rooms in 2017. People have long since come and gone.
The rooms, and their people, are not as giving as they once were. But there are exceptions to that rule. Because, if you ask, people show up and step up.
That is a given, in many situations.
People today, still have problems asking for help. But I tell my friends that if they need something, anything, to bring it to a room and put it down on the table.
You might never know the results you might get, if you choose NOT to ask them.
In our story tonight, “He lived to drink” a successful, evangelical young man, with promise, God, family and a good job, falls into the addiction to alcohol.
All it took, was that FIRST drink, on his FIRST visit to a cocktail bar with friends from school.
From that point on, he was off and running.
He ran so far, that he ended up on skid row …
“It still did not register that the drinking might be the cause of all of my misery. I sold my blood. I prostituted myself; I drank more. I became homeless and slept in the bus and train terminals. I scrounged cigarette butts off the sidewalks and drank from a common wine bottle with other drunks. I drank my way to the men’s municipal shelter and made it my home. I panhandled. By this time I lived only to drink. I did not bathe or change clothes; I stank; I became thin and ill; I had begun to hear voices and accepted them as death omens. I was frightened, arrogant, enraged, and resentful of man, God, and the universe. there was nothing else to live for, but I was too frightened to die …”
It was at this point that a woman who was a social worker on skid row and a sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous sat me down in her office and told me her story – how she drank, what happened, and how she got sober. No one had ever done this before.
I had been been preached to, analyzed, cursed, and counseled, but no one had ever said, “I identify with what’s going on with you. It happened to me, and this is what I did about it.” She got me to my first A.A. meeting that same evening.
Once our man, a black man, accepted goodness and love into his life, and he opened his heart to his fellows and later God, He realized that he was not alone.
And it is for this reason, in A.A., that you are not alone any more …
And that you never have to drink again …
My Aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy.
What would the world be like with NO Women ???
How often are women treated as second class citizens, toughing it out, trying to climb the ladder in work, taking care of babies at home, shopping, cleaning, cooking and everything else that us men, don’t do ourselves.
I think men fail to realize that WOMEN make the world go round. Women are under appreciated, and mostly scorned for wanting better for themselves.
I am a man of the late 1960’s.
My life was filled with women. Across the board.
It fell to the women of our family to do all of the heavy lifting, when it came to family, because all of the men in our family were saddled with work and alcoholism. And the women bore their crosses well, and rarely complained about their lots in life.
If it were not for the women in my early life, I surely would have ended up dead, because that is what my father intended from the very start.
We lived in Connecticut. Most of the family were concentrated in New Britain, but aunts and uncles were scattered in other areas, one needed a car to get to.
My Grandmothers, Camille, and Jeannie, and my Aunt Paula, were my main caregivers. I could not have asked for better people in my life than them. They provided for everything that I might have needed.
Back in the day, we lived simple lives. We did not want for anything, because we had everything we needed. I don’t ever remember any of them going without. But back then, there really was not much else we needed to “get,” like I said, life was simple.
We had a large family that was extended from Canada. The Québécois faction of the family always gathered at Aunt Paula’s house during the summers. Aunts, uncles, cousins and everyone else in between.
I knew I was loved by everyone else, except my biological parents. The women in my life fought to keep me alive. In the words of Toxic Parents, my mother was the silent woman in the family. She did what she had to do to survive.
My father imported her from Montreal, and began to strip away every vestige of who she was, who she knew and he pried her apart of every family member that stood in the way of him making my mother, “In His Image.”
She would become an American Wife, if it killed him in the process.
For a long time, my mother gave us what we needed, and growing up, my brother and I, never wanted for anything. We climbed the social and economic ladder very quickly and very successfully. My mother was not perfect, but she provided. My mother, like my father, was a successful functional alcoholic.
As a young person, I listened very carefully to every word I heard come out of my parent’s mouths. And it was from those words, that I made my life decisions, because they openly shared what they abhorred, and sooner or later, I would become all of what they abhorred.
My mother suffered. And today she is a shell of who she once was, and is a miserable, insufferable, vindictive, bitter old woman. I don’t know who she is today.
I was the one who got out. Who broke the mold, and lived the life, in the end, today, that I was meant to live.
As I grew up, illness began to creep into our lives. And little by slowly, the women in my life began to disappear. My brother and I would travel North to visit family on vacations and during the summer.
Memories of my brother are negligible. He is not a person who is heavily imprinted in my memory at all. My brother, taught to be my adversary, kept a fair distance from me, even if we were in the same house at the same time, and that included during family vacations.
Camille and Jeannie, and Paula, kept a good eye on me. They taught me about life, family, love and devotion. And I was devoted to them, and still am to this very day.
In the eighth grade, Jeannie suffered a tragic stroke, and the woman she was disappeared, and as hard as I tried, I could not bring her back from the abyss. She was gone. She lost her memories, most of her movement, and much of her speech.
She remained a tragic disabled woman, along with my later stroke ridden grandfather. They lived in rest home after rest home, in Miami, until their eventual deaths, when I was in High School.
Camille languished in a rest home in Connecticut, as I grew into my twenties. When I got sick with AIDS in 1994, my mother banned me from family gatherings, however, I did go home once for Christmas, where my parents humiliated me in front of a dinner table full of friends and family. I never returned…
In my twenty-ninth year, I was living in South Miami, I had been very sick at the time, and Camille died. For weeks after her death she visited me. I wrote letters to my mother, dictated to me by Camille, and I mailed them blindly, as they came to me. My mother must have thought I was crazy, because she never mentioned the letters to me ever.
When the funeral was arranged, in Connecticut, I was devastated. Now the only other woman I was connected to, who I knew loved me inside and out, was dead. My mother banned me from going to the funeral. I had a lump of cash, I was sitting on, and I thought to myself that I would go anyways, but that did not happen.
My mother did not want any other family to know I was sick. Because she was ashamed of my presence. I knew, from listening to her talk over the years, before I left home to “come out” I knew what she thought of homosexuals, and especially, men who had AIDS.
I was now, one of them. I had become abhorrent.
It was my experience, that my grandmothers, and my aunt loved me unconditionally. My mother, did not, in the end. Like all human beings, we fear and abhor what we do not know or understand. And it was my experience that normal human beings who loved their families and children, turned into raging animals, who did not know their asses from a hole in the ground when it came to AIDS.
I’m kind of glad that Camille and Jeannie never saw me, as sick as I had gotten. They had only seen the best of who I was, as a young child, into my early teens. AIDS came after they began to depart my life.
All of my family, Alexander, Jeannie, Camille, Carol … Each one of these people, came back to me after they died, in one form or another. I knew them. I saw them. I experienced them in the spirit world.
Jeannie came back to me and used to stand at the foot of my bed for years. When I got sick, living in Fort Lauderdale, Jeannie, had come back and she watched over me for a year. I know this because a friend of mine, who was a medium, at that time, visited me, and confirmed she was there in my apartment.
Alexander came back, when I was in high school. So did my uncle Paul, who returned to my uncle’s house in Connecticut. As the story went, in the end, Paul and Alexander, brothers in life, reunited in death at my uncles house, after they both appeared in two cities, for two families at the same time.
My Aunt Paula was a dignified woman, along with my cousin Sandy. My mother had a love/hate relationship with them. Resentments ruled our family dynamics. At one time or another my mother was pissed at one or the other, throughout my entire young life.
AIDS killed my family. It shattered the very foundation of all we had been.
I moved to Canada in 2002, to follow the maternal blood line of my mother, back into the historical past of our family, much to her consternation.
I then met my great-aunt Georgette, who was living just two blocks from the apartment I live in today. I had two years with her, before she died of cancer, I collected all the stories she had of herself and Camille, because sister Georgette’s family, took Camille in when the Spanish Flu killed thousands of people in the twenties and thirties. Camille had been orphaned by the flu.
My life, is a testament to the dignity and love that I received from the women who made me who I am today. I had but a few generous years of them in life. My life today, is a testament to their spirits that inhabit me.
You might not consider the strength of the human spirit, but it is a life force that can sustain human life. Because I am still alive.
My aunt Paula and my cousin Sandy are a part of my life today. They love me for who I am and both of them contribute to my life today and I am grateful for their presences.
Now, in sobriety, I know many women. In the beginning it was the women who helped me get sober. All the women who ran Tuesday Beginners, when I came in, taught me How it Works, and What to do to stay sober. Margo, my therapist, the first two years of sobriety, took care of me in every way possible. Margo set me on the road to my university education. It was she who afforded the decision to do “something for me” after reaching a year sober.
There are too many women to mention all of them in this post. All of those women who have been or are, presently, part of my present sober life.
Like I said, at the top, Where would we be without the women in our lives ???
Women make the world go round.
By Charles Davis
It feels insufficient to say that children from Syria are suffering from “PTSD.” The oft-orphaned survivors of a horrible ongoing humanitarian crisis are, likely, experiencing post-traumatic stress, but these children of war have experienced more trauma — physical and emotional — than the medical professionals who care for them have ever seen: the shredded remains of their mom or dad, blown apart by a regime barrel bomb, a Russian cruise missile, or, increasingly, U.S. airstrikes.
“Human devastation syndrome” is Dr. M.K. Hamza’s term for the orphaned end-result.
“We have talked to so many children, and their devastation is above and beyond what even soldiers are able to see in the war,” Hamza, a neuropsychologist with the Syrian-American Medical Society, told ATTN:. “They have seen dismantled human beings that used to be their parents, or their siblings. You get out of a family of five or six or 10 or whatever — you get one survivor, two survivors sometimes. A lot of them have physical impairments. Amputations. Severe injuries. And they’ve made it to the refugee camp somehow.”
Hamza chairs the mental health committee of SAMS, whose 1,000 Syrian-American members have volunteered to provide medical aid wherever survivors of the worst war the 21st century has yet seen can be found.
“You have children who are devastated,” he said, “and this is not the end of it.”
The emotional and material problems facing Syrian civilians are compounded every day by the crushing poverty and exploitation that Syrians experience at refugee camps — where 1 in 5 of the half-million inhabitants are under the age of 11 — and on the streets of Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, which host the majority of the more than 4.9 million people who have fled Syria since 2011, when mass protests for democracy were met with bullets by the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Another 6.3 million people are internally displaced, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, and another half a million have been killed.
“Even the word ‘poor’ is not justifiable here because it’s a less than human condition,” Hamza said, speaking from the sidelines of SAMS’ Feb. 18 conference in Huntington Beach, California.
Iyad Alkhouri, a psychiatrist who volunteers with SAMS, testified to that.
“I have patients who tell me they were touched inappropriately by their doctors,” Alkhouri said in an address to the conference. “The doctors, because [the patients] were Syrian, assumed they were ‘whores.’”
“There are girls on the streets of Beirut selling themselves — 8, 9 years old,” he said. “And then you tell their parents: Why don’t you send them to school so they can improve themselves? And they say, ‘They make $50 a day. Can you give me $50 a day?’”
“Whatever we’re doing is just a Band-Aid,” Anas Moughrabieh, an intensive-care physician with SAMS, told ATTN:.
He’s helped care for Syrian patients evacuated to the Turkish border town of Antakya, where he’s also trained medical workers returning to treat the victims of bombings and shellings in Syria itself. “We try to fill the gaps,” he said, “but all the relief organizations — we’re just putting a Band-Aid on the wound. We’re not addressing the root cause of the problem.”
The root cause of the problem, as he sees it, is a “tyranny” that, “faced with peaceful people who were demonstrating for democracy in the beginning — it faced them with arms and airstrikes.” Nearly every hospital or clinic SAMS supports in Syria has been attacked, and nine out of 10 times it’s by airstrikes, he said, meaning those strikes were carried out by the regime or its Russian ally (the armed opposition does not have an air force).
Over 90 percent of the civilians killed in Syria since March 2011 have been killed by the regime and its allies, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, an independent monitoring organization.
Syrian-American Medical Society – sams-usa.net
“Instead of providing resources to treat this 10-year-old child who was hit by a missile,” he argued, “we have to stop the missile before it hits them.”
But missiles and governments aren’t the only killers in Syria. “We had one hospital in Aleppo… that was attacked by ISIS thugs, and they came in actually to the ICU and killed one of the patients, who was a civilian,” Moughrabieh said. And in Idlib, the last major opposition bastion after the fall of Aleppo, an armed group “attacked one of our hospitals” and tried to take it over, he said, rebel in-fighting on the ground complementing the threat from above.
One irony, SAMS President Dr. Ahmad Tarakji told ATTN:, is that working in the same area as some of these hostile groups is enough to get one labeled as their ally. Indeed, that’s one of the major threats to humanitarian work these days.
“Anybody who is involved in humanitarian care could be labeled a terrorist,” he said. “The concept — the illusion — of protecting health care workers has been challenged in Syria, meaning you can be killed.”A child who makes it to a refugee camp in these conditions is one of the lucky ones.
“You have millions of children who are devastated,” Hamza, the neuropsychologist, told ATTN:, “and you have to ask, ‘Where is this going to lead?’” One thing is for sure, and it runs counter to the see-no-evil isolationism that, at least rhetorically, is now en vogue: “It’s going to impact the whole world.”
All we have is this one life, and in the words of the Queen of Ireland …
This is the Big Show. There is no Dress Rehearsal. This is it …
We only get one shot at this life.
We are born, we grow up, are educated in whatever way that education comes, and we are turned loose on the world to make our marks, to get good jobs, have families, and later, children, and hopefully we make some money to live on, and also, to have a little to retire with as well.
We go into the world with our certain world views on ethics and work habits. The world is an unpredictable place, and nothing is ever a given.
Especially if you are addicted to one thing or another …
There is a certain millennial of my acquaintance. He is young and has a good job. But at age twenty-six, all he knows about life, is pounding himself into the ground, working like a madman, trying to make as much money as he can, so by the time he is thirty-five, he will have made enough money to retire on a yacht somewhere, other than in Montreal.
- He overcompensates in the hopes that he is recognized as a hard worker, therefore, indispensable, and a secure employee.
- He believes that overcompensation will get him the Golden Ticket and a Million dollars by age thirty-five.
- He does not work nine to five .. but eight to seven-thirty. He does not see the world as his workmates do. He is focused on one point in time, “retirement at thirty-five.”
But as it went, he mentioned, in passing, that he was not feeling well, and had to see a specialist for a certain medical problem.
You could say that “A Yellow Sign” went up in front of him.
I just wonder, how many YELLOW SIGNS will have to go up, in front of him, hopefully keeping him from ever encountering a RED SIGN of Major Problems ???
We are worried that he is working himself into sickness. Because we know how he sees his job and the end point he desires, and wild horses will not keep him from victory.
Yes, we need a job, something to do, and money in the bank, BUT AT WHAT COST ???
I know, I have friends who are older than me, who have jobs. Some of them enjoy what they do, and work is enjoyable and fruitful. Others, work nine to five, stuck in a cubicle, never seeing the sun at all. They ride a bus for an hour to get into their city centers, they get up in the dark, go to work in the dark, and at the end of the day, they come home in the dark.
All this, in order to secure employment and some cash, but not much.
Some of us were educated in specific studies, that, in the end, did NOT translate into long-lasting, fruitful careers, and we were stuck with something we’d rather not do, but are forced into because of the economy or the lack of really good work opportunities, in our respective fields of study.
I’ve mentioned, in past entries, the concept of the DO OVER, we get when we get clean and sober. The world OUT THERE, does not know of this concept. Most men and women go into the world and they get stuck, in environments that might not be healthy or good for them, but they persist, because it is all they could get.
They might never ponder Re-Orientation.
How many of us go into life and get that really good job, from the get go ? And how many people, out there, get stuck in a life of ambiguity, having to settle for a barista job in a coffee shop, biding ones time, until that Parliament Hill Job opens up ???
Been here, seen it, recently celebrated the emergence out of ambiguity.
But my young millennial friend works with someone I know, who is concerned that our young man is going to kill himself for an ideal, that might not ever happen, because there are no givens in this life.
There is respect in serious work ethics. That young people go out into the world and find their place, in a good job, that PAYS. But At What Cost to their lives ?
I spoke tonight about this topic with a friend, who, like I said, is concerned.
He has, in the past, tried to talk to our young man, to no avail. Our young man is not interested in listening to reason or direction.
How do we help people when we see an opportunity to help them? How many people, really want our advice when it comes to wealth and power? Single focus idealism is good to a certain degree, I just don’t know many people, who came INTO money, coming from without.
I don’t know many successful money spinners that did not pay their dues, one way or another, or came from money so they really did not have to work very hard to get theirs.
In my life, I was a tornado spinning on a collision course with destiny. My aptitude to work hard, honestly, and with integrity was tossed into the trash when my alcoholism took over.
I did not know any better, nor did I really care, either way, where drugs and alcohol were concerned.
God had to throw a Very Big RED Stop Sign in front of me to STOP my forward momentum.
I needed a serious Re-Orientation. AIDS did that for me.
We don’t wish terrible circumstances to befall anyone we know, so that they Re-Orient.
But I wonder, if I could give you sickness for some time, or trade my medicine cabinet for yours, would YOU STOP and take stock and Re-Orient your life, in order to make a change that might really benefit you in the long run ?
God took me out of the world of dating, men and sex. Once and for all. Because that’s what my life turned into in the end.
It was good that I did have a job that paid, a roof over my head and a doctor and minimal drugs, when they counted, when I needed them. But that only lasted so long.
My Re-Orientation was not complete. And would not be complete until I moved to Montreal in 2002. In the end it was not until I hit my late forties that the process came to total fruition.
The possibility that we go into the world, and GET that really good job, that we ENJOY doing, beyond the simple paycheck to make ends meet are slim.
We know many people who are stuck, working jobs they hate and have no passion, because it is all they could get, and are doomed to sit in a cubicle forever …
The koan of “Find your passion, DO IT, money will FOLLOW” is a fallacy.
What a rude awakening that was.
I may not make money doing what I do today. Because I don’t.
But at this stage of my life, I am in a life situation where, I am provided for handsomely. Which frees me to do whatever I want, on a daily basis, because I want to, and not because I have to …
I’ve spent the past fifteen years in University, In the rooms of recovery, listening to people talk about their lives, and just HOW they worked out their Do Over’s.
I have hundreds of books in my library here at home that I have actually READ.
I have, almost fifty years of life experience to bank on and talk about.
I see people, out there, spinning aimlessly, without direction or thoughts to their futures beyond punching a clock, taking home a pittance, doing work they don’t enjoy.
I told my friend tonight what happened to me, in order for God to get me to Re-Orient.
That covenant between God and myself was still in action. A promise was made, long ago, and God needed my attention.
Failure was NOT an option.
Every man and woman out there, has a duty to serve their creator, whomever that creator is. We are duty bound to go into the world and make a difference, with honor and integrity.
And when we get the chance, we try to help our fellows, do the right thing, for the right reasons, and the right intentions.
What would it take for you to consider what you do for a living ?
- Do you enjoy your job?
- Do you make good money, Yes or No ?
- Are you killing yourself trying to work yourself to death all for a paycheck ?
- Is what you do Fulfilling to your spirit, Yes or No ?
- If you had the opportunity to Re-Orient, would you ?
- And if you could, what would you do with the rest of your earning capacity ?
- What goals do you have for your future prosperity ? Are they attainable or not ?
- And if they aren’t, how CAN you get there from here ?
Just a few question that came up in our discussion tonight.
You don’t have to settle for just punching a clock and killing yourself in order to retire in your thirties with all the money in the world, you believe you will make between now and then.
Idealistic Millennial Millionaire’s Disease is FATAL …
I don’t personally know any millionaires.
Most of my friends are just getting by, some are miserable, some are not. But it is all in the way you see the world, and how you approach personal success.
My story begins a long time ago, in a nondescript church, with Memere and God.
On that day, she had a conversation with God, and the covenant was made. And for the whole of my life, God was there, running in the background, even if I did not always want Him or see Him.
When we are born, we are given a body, a soul and a spirit. Our bodies, some say, are the temples of God, created in His image, and we should take care of that body, soul and spirit. Because it is the only one we have, and this is not a dress rehearsal, this IS the BIG SHOW.
When we reach the age, where addiction begins, nothing else matters, but the consumption of whatever we are addicted to, unto the bitter end.
I know what Humility is. I have spent an inordinate amount of time seeing where, I had to humble myself before God. And there were those times.
I am a man who desires structure. A man who desires to be with others, and not left on his own. I need that communion with those who participate in my life. I need a steady hand, every day that I live this life. I am nothing without those around me.
For a great portion of my twenties, I craved a new addiction, “Acceptance.” And what ever I had to do to get it, I did it. Not only did I never “find my way into acceptance fully,” it seemed, in retrospect, that “I would never arrive.”
My drinking career did not last that long. But for a very long time, I was abusing myself, disrespecting my body, my soul, and my spirit. And I had turned away from God, because I had forgotten that a covenant existed between God and myself.
If you think you can run your life, for the whole of your life, addicted and abusive, your God-given body, soul, and spirit is polluted.
I heard a friend say that at times, God might take something away, but He also gives something back. And my life, as it was lived, up to today, has been a series of God taking things away, however harsh it may have been, in God’s wisdom, I believe He knew what He was doing.
I had abused my Godly Covenant. I had forgotten.
Human beings are supposed to make it in the world, against all that happens, we are supposed to go out into the world, be fruitful and multiply. Well, I may be fruitful, but I sure as shit did not multiply. Thank God …
In the gay world, we are told we must be fit, sexy, tanned, rich and pretty. We are told that in order to “belong” we must imbibe great alcohol and do great drugs, because that is what we gay boys do. At least that was the message I got in my twenties.
I was fooled into a delusion that took me to the bitter end. Because I was none of those things, but for a few short years. Alcohol is capricious, patient and cunning.
I believe now, that God knew exactly what He was doing all the time.
But at the point where I had humiliated myself in public, drank myself into the ground and sexed myself up to the point that I was going to die because of my actions, God needed to get my attention, once in for all.
The Evangelical crowd believed that AIDS was the Gay’s punishment for sinning and that AIDS was what we earned by sinful behavior. They wanted us to die. And they vehemently encouraged us to die.
God brought me to my knees, in grand fashion. With plague …
He took away my ability to be fruitful and to be sexy and to be sexual. He removed me from that insanity, I thought I really needed, come hell or high water.
In retrospect, Was my sex life all that it was cracked up to be? No…
Only when I drank.
Taking away that part of my life was part of the deal. But God did not leave me, he incarnated and came into my life in human form. Todd came and saved my life.
I was going to learn some humility. And that is exactly what had happened.
I learned over the course of two years, what humility meant, and why it was important.
Humility was necessary to survive. Approval may not come all the time. And we must stand up and know that we are good. That we can be good to ourselves.
HUMILITY — Definition: When your toilet is stopped up with a cup placed backwards in the bowl, and shit and piss fill the bowl and is all over the floor, your job is to get that cup out of the toilet and clean that mess… humility …
We know today, well at least some of us do that:
My belly button is NOT the center of the universe. Therefore I am not the center of the universe.
As long as I was orbiting my sun, my moon and my stars, I was good. As long as that hand was there, and I was not alone, I trusted Todd with my life and I flourished.
We know that time came to an end. I did not know what to do. Honestly, I did not know what to do with myself or how I was going to survive on my own.
I tried for a while, until A.A. asked me to leave and not come back.
Never tell an alcoholic to go away and not come back. Because if you do that, their life becomes your problem.
Once you speak words, you can never take them back.
I had to venture on one last odyssey. God was there, on silent mode. But I had to get to the point that I recognized that I was done abusing myself.
And that night, I got on my knees and humbled myself before God.
And with miraculous Godly power, God moved heaven and earth to bring me back into my covenant.
The rest, I can say, is history. Good history.
The steps are written in a certain order and should begin with the First, through the Twelfth. Because we need to admit, come to, and decide that (God) for me, is the director and I am a servant. Then I need to clean house and throw out the trash.
Only then can we entertain the word Humility. Step Seven is all about humility.
A familiar exercise is to read the Twelve and Twelve and Step Seven, and highlight how many times the word humility appears in that step work.
God giveth and God taketh away …
And I know that I could never have provided myself with what God has given me over the last fifteen years on my own. I was no normal mortal human being who was supposed to go into the world and make it on my own.
I had no idea how that was going to work.
Alcoholics and Addicts in recovery, We Get Our Do Over…
In the rooms we find what we have all been missing. I’ve proved, over the years, that God can be found in the rooms of recovery. I’ve seen Him move among my friends.
And He has moved in my life. Over the years, little by little, God has removed certain things from my life. In order that He might give me something better.
An Empty vessel that can be filled with grace. A Body, Soul, and Spirit that is Clean and Sober, that can flourish and be of service to my fellow-man.
Having lived as long as I have, I surely do not take my life for granted.
People rely on me. They trust me. And they love me. If I took for granted one day, of this covenant that I now inhabit, I would surely lose my life …
A long time ago, I had a conversation with God. And I told him that I was ready to sacrifice my life in order to serve God.
An entire lifetime would go by, until I reached the point where the time was right, the moment had arrived, the ground was fertile, and I was ready to step up and serve God with all that I had.
For me, in order to serve God, in hindsight, required great sacrifice.
It has taken me a lifetime to realize just what that meant.
Tonight a friend reminded me of why we were sitting in that room tonight.
Because God giveth …
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.
Hello out there. Today is October 2nd – I’ve noticed in many places, the leaves are beginning to turn. Thanksgiving is next Sunday and I am cooking a feast for my little family once again.
Imagine, next Monday, here in Canada, The battle for Christmas will begin. An entire month earlier than you folks down in the U.S. of A. They won’t be closing up Halloween shops until the end of the month, and in the meantime, the competition for WHO puts up Christmas decorations FIRST is always a holiday mystery.
I know that in St. John’s New Foundland, Christmas trees are up in stores there already. Winter always hits the Atlantic Provinces first.
It has been a very busy week.
This week my meeting routine takes a turn for something a little bit different. My sponsor has encouraged me to seek out a new adventure, since completing this round of “Booking.” (read: The Steps)
The Set Aside Prayer
God, please set aside everything I know about
The Twelves Steps
And You God
So that I can have a new experience, Please let me See the Truth
Tomorrow night, we hit a new meeting, just down the hill from home, called “Love and Tolerance.” It’s very close to home, and very convenient.
Before the meeting we had been talking about changing it up, and my sponsor then asked me to do something totally out of left field. I’ve been learning French, via the Metro Method, (read: There are tv’s in most of the Metro Stations that show news, weather and train times) and they all run in French. And I’ve noticed that my French is getting better, well, my reading comprehension.
With that said … I am going to start hitting our sister meeting on Thursday night, ( Jeudi St. Leon) at the same church we meet on Sunday night’s, IN FRENCH. My friends from that meeting, who are native Francophones come to Sunday night, and other English meetings to learn, or improve their English. So they invited me to come on Thursday to begin integrating into the French community, which will be something totally new for me.
I brought home a French Big Book to look over, and one of my friends is going to send me the prayers, translated into French so I will at least learn them before Thursday.
Instead of hitting an English meeting, I will be hitting a French meeting.
Saturday is still up for grabs. I hoped to initiate a Saturday night Date night for hubby and myself, seeing we never go out ever unless it is a special occasion for dinner or something.
Fall is certainly on its way. My favorite season of the year, because in just a few short months up here in the North we traverse three seasons, and everything changes so much, very quickly. And in the Fall we get to see the Majesty of Mother Nature in all her Grandeur.
Tomorrow morning, bright and early, (read: The ass crack of morning 8 a.m.) the building workers will begin the destruction of my balcony. They have been knocking down all the balcony banisters and walls on the entire building. 7 apartments. Ours is the last one to be started. Last week, they asked if I would clean all the crud that was on the balcony floor, (read: All that Shit that has been under the floor boards for the last 42 years).
And I was like, “How am I supposed to do that ? I don’t have a freaking shed in my bedroom with cleaning tools and leaf bags, and by the way, a shovel would be great for that kind of thing.” Our Super came up and told me this in French, and I did not get it at first, so about half an hour later the building manager came up to translate, when I then inquired about “Tools and Bags.”
They got me a square shovel and a handful of bags. A plastic shovel at that.
There is a hanging wall of plastic over the opening and I stirred up a shit load of dust in doing the job, I failed to remind them that I am immuno-compromised and that I will probably get sick from dust and allergens from the shit on the ground…
Of course I did …
2 leaf bags later, I had completed said work.
Now tomorrow at the crack of dawn, jackhammers will announce the arrival of morning before I even get out of bed. Which at such time, I will have no choice but to get out of bed because my bed, is just inside the balcony door, and sleeping while jackhammers pound the building is a lost cause.
More to come. Stay tuned …
Life is busy. Fall has come. Single Digits followed. The A/C unit is in its box until next Summer. And we have the windows open until it gets cold at night, and they have to be shut.
Thanksgiving is 2 weeks away. And then PUSH for Christmas will begin.
UGH, God Give Me Strength !!!
For a few weeks now, folks have been in a funk. The funk of untreated alcohol/marijuana addiction. There Is A Solution. It just seems that not many people WANT that solution, and I am totally frustrated with how hard my friends want to make life, when it could be much easier.
Let’s go back to Friday.
I had a doctors appointment in the morning. BOTH my doctors have been bemoaning the fact that my sugars are up a bit, and my triglycerides are high again. Not that they’ve managed to fall with all the pills I put into my body.
My diabetes doctor wants me to further curb my diet, when I don’t even eat three meals a day, because I just don’t. I might eat lunch occasionally, when I am bothered to go get something to cook. That happens here and there. On Thursday I always treat myself to some Burger King on the way to the meeting, if I am not book shopping, or I do both.
My HIV doctor has been giving me the same complaints …
I was dumbfounded when, on Friday, Dr. George says to me …
OH I HAVE A MAGIC PILL THAT WILL DROP YOUR TRIGLYCERIDES TO ZERO …
I was like, how long have you had this ACE in your pocket ? You’ve been on my ass about this for a year, and now you decide to drop this little pill into my life now ? Now we add another pill called EZETIMIBE to my regimen for a month to see what happens. I have another appointment on Tuesday for my HIV doctor and I am going to chew him out as well.
The day gets better from there, Friday …
The Book of Mormon …
I walk back to the Metro at Acadie and I am standing on the platform and a couple of CUTE Mormon elders came down and stood next to me. One walks a little further away, and One stands just off to my left. We stood there for a few minutes, when the young Elder says to me “Salut” in French, ( Hello for those who don’t speak French) I said Hello to him in English.
He let out a breath and sighed … “Oh God, you speak English!”
Wiping his brow …
We got on the train, and a flurry of conversation began. When we got to the terminus of the Blue Line (Snowden) I was transferring to the Orange line to get to a job I was working next, our young Elder handed me his card and smiled … Call Me Anytime.
The next afternoon, I did call him back. We have a date for coffee on Tuesday evening.
I rode the Metro to Vendome and walked several blocks to a small church in Westmount where I had been hired for the day to do a theatre installation for a photography group in the meeting hall.
The group had paid $7,000.00 for a theatre sized motorized screen that needed to be mounted and hung in the rafters above the stage. This monster weighed about 400 pounds and it took 5 guys to build the framing, figure out how we were going to hang the beast and make it all work in less than five hours.
We made a trip to Home Depot and bought the supplies, and returned to build 2×4 trusses for the rafters, from which we would hang the screen. My friend (in the program) is in construction, so he had all the major tools we would need. It was a precision job to get the screen up and hung. It was a great success.
In hanging heavy machinery, you need good framing. You need solid metal works, and you need to double your fail safes, in case the brackets on the end caps of the screen give way and fail. We used high quality chain in the rigging and solid metal works for the hooks and clamps.
When all was said and done, on the way home, I said to my friend that, we might want to secure the chain looping in the rafters further, because there are two clamps on each end that connect chain to the screen. and the chain hangs from large hooks in the framing we had already hung.
If one of the clamps on the screen end caps fail, the chain is going to go into the rafters, come out of its ring, and the failing end of the screen is going to fall to the floor, and probably bring the other side down with it. My thought was, if we secure the hanging ring and the chain with a larger C clamp, that will prevent the chain from running loose and bringing down the screen.
At $15.00 dollars an hour, my advice is not cheap.
Light and sound is a great business to be in. Having built a nightclub from the ground up in the past, and working in the nightclub industry, this job was right up my alley.
The job ran me right up to my Friday night departure at 6:15. I had twenty minutes to spare when I got home. Enough time to unload groceries and change into clean clothing.
While at the doctors earlier in the day, I had updated my apps. And I’ve never seen my battery go from 85% to zero in like thirty seconds. Which meant my phone was dead for the rest of the day, because I had left my charger at home.
Because we need a happy dog photo right now. It’s my favorite image too …
Every one wants to be noticed, to be acknowledged, to be seen, and to be loved…
How often we see people come in the room, and we notice them, but at the end of the meeting, we watch them walk out, because WE did not step up and say, “I noticed you.”
There are two young people in our community, that I have been watching bounce in and out of the rooms, stuck in the revolving door of alcoholism and drug addiction. I noticed them a long time ago, but back then, as my young man said to me tonight, “he wasn’t in it to win it.” But I watched.
I reminded my young lady friend of a story she shared at a meeting a long time ago, about a specific spiritual experience she had one night on the Metro. Indeed, she had forgotten that story, tonight, I reminded her of it.
I decided that the time was right to step up and do something. I asked one question of him after the meeting … “Who is invested in your sobriety?” He replied, no one specifically.
So I told him the story. We spoke for a while, and he has my number, and I asked him to call me every day, to at least, connect with one alcoholic every day, no matter what.
He is working with a man I know, who is good people, so he has a sponsor now.
My friend said something in the meeting we all thought important to remember:
“IF YOU ARE WAITING FOR SOMEONE TO BRING YOU FLOWERS, PLANT YOUR OWN GARDEN.”
A funny statement that is in tonight’s read:
I HAVE YET TO FIND A PLACE IN THE BIG BOOK THAT SAYS “NOW YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE STEPS; HAVE A NICE LIFE … “
I’ve said it before, sobriety never ends. Once you begin, buckle up, because this is a long ride, through ups and downs, good times and bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, till death do you part…
See the pun there, did you notice it ?
I’ve been listening to several pod casts lately. I’ve told you about them in earlier posts. One of them is quite good. The writing is stellar, the pod cast is one I look forward to.
A couple weeks ago, I bought a couple of his books. Sold “in house” and not on the “open Market.” Halfway through the first book, I put the book down.
I think I read too much, across the spectrum. So I’m thinking to myself, someone who spends hours upon hour writing scripts, should be well versed in certain research for his books just the same. That is not the case it seems.
Reading a simple story is simple. No expectations, or demands from the read. I read for story. I read for content. I read for details and spins. Don’t waste my time with a book that goes no where, but the simple straight route from point A to point B. End of story.
I am spoiled by Kathy Reichs and Donna Tartt. I am spoiled by several other authors who write stellar books, that I am guilty of holding up expectations for other authors who “should” write like them with attention to detail and story method.
Sadly, not many writers got that memo …
October is getting closer. The holiday season is just weeks away now. I could give you a day count, but that would be a little compulsive, don’t you think ?
If you go to a meeting, notice people around you. And go say hello to at least one person before you leave that meeting. Tell them that “You were paying attention.”
I am paying attention …
You never know when you are going to save a life …