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:
- 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 …
AND Acceptance is the answer to ALL my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
NOTHING, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.
Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes…
…Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me.
This reading should be tacked at all points of view in everybody’s home, no matter who you are, alcoholic or not. It is a reading that I should have used recently, for some of my guys, and most importantly for myself.
I am told, and I tell this to my guys that, it isn’t the destination that matters, it is the journey in between that matters, and will mean something. I heard one of my guys talk about the counter-intuitive nature of the above passage.
In his work, he is sober. But his workmates are not. And the million dollar millennial has stars in his eyes, and is idealistic, and is of the mind, that if he puts in the time, work and talent, that at 35, he is going to be a millionaire, and be able to retire on that yacht in Monaco.
I am afraid, and we are afraid that the end point is nigh, and may not happen, and placing such expectation on God, is folly…
They say that: We make PLANS and GOD laughs …
Acceptance comes, daily. In the moment. Every moment.
I’ve seen people come in, having lost everything, some who have lost some, and even others, who lost nothing, but their self respect and dignity. I watch people come in and have stars in their eyes, and hear them say,
“Well, I’m going to get it all back, just you watch and see…”
And how many of those people recoup their losses on any kind of grand scale ?
Very Few …
You might get sober, and then come to realize that God has bigger and usually better plans for us, than we know ourselves. God’s time, is a long haul proposition.
Waiting for God, is like watching paint dry on a house.
Every time I read this story, or think about acceptance, I get choked up. Tears fall from my eyes, and I feel lamentation, in the worst way.
Mental Illness is serious business.
When I met hubby many years ago, he was ebullient, romantic, sexual, dynamic and young. The early months, of our relationship was filled with things, that have long since disappeared, never to be seen again.
It was good, that, at the time, people were quoting page 417 to me constantly.
Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.
Because when Mental Illness struck us, the man who went into treatment, was NOT the same man who came out the other end. The doctors failed to tell me this truth while it was happening right in front of me.
Talk about Acceptance …
Relationships are built on Love, Trust and Respect. If you commit, you commit. Even before we spoke vows in front of family and friends, shit had happened. Cruel shit, that nobody knows about, to this very day.
Not One Person …
Nobody knows how bad it got. Nobody knows the finer details of what mental illness does to a couple. But I was damned sure that what my family and friends saw, was the best possible vision of a man who survived treatment for Mental Illness. And on that very day, He was the Best Presentable Image of a Whole Man, Body and Soul.
That was the man I married. We were celebrating who HE was, in that moment.
It took me a long time to reconcile who He was, with who He became, through treatment. I kinda felt cheated that I was short changed in the end. But I was committed. Those wedding vows were tested for damned sure, before we even hit that altar.
Acceptance was the key.
It was a very good thing that I was getting sober, and I had at least 15 months in the program, before SHIT hit the FAN. Because it took all of my friends, some serious work, to keep me ON THE BEAM, for the next year of treatment.
I do not regret one day of it. I did the best I could do, given the circumstances. I did everything possible to make hubby comfortable and to care for him, to the best of my abilities. Every Single Day, and I still do, to this day.
I miss the ebullient man he used to be. And every time someone suggests this passage, I get emotional, because I know, to my very core, what this passage means to my life, in a visceral way.
We have two choices in our relationships.
- You can either accept life as it unfolds, knowing you are powerless over many things, and you won’t have all the answers, or
- You run, in the other direction, when life gets tough.
- You either LOVE harder than you have ever loved before, or
- You never love that way ever again …
- That is what makes a marriage, every bit sweeter …
- That you can live up to, and into those vows you speak
Marriage vows are written in a certain way. They are a warning about what may happen to you, when you least expect it, and better be informed as you stand before God, and you commit to your husband/wife/partner/significant other, that you are promising these certain unknowns.
That if they happen, you were once warned.
Running out when shit happens, is not suggested, but many people fail this test, when shit hits the fan. Which is why 417 needs to be plastered in every home on earth.
If you can accept that whatever is going to happen, probably will happen, and that God, in his infinite wisdom, ordains the universe, and that you might not get, that end point filled with expectations, you just might get, whatever God believes we are due …
That is total acceptance.
I had a conversation with Rafa last night. It seems that we are both running on the same steam, having both spent the better part of last week, in either anger for him, and fear for me.
It was as if, amid my week of spiritual realizations, for some reason, the spirit left me, and for an entire day, I was sunk in a pit of worthlessness, fear, and feeling devastatingly alone, and that Heavenly Father had pulled away from me.
I had not read my scriptures for Friday before I went to bed, and that may have been something I should have done when the darkness began to consume me. In any case, I did go to my scriptures before bed, and I am reading 2 Nephi.
And from Friday’s reading into last nights reading, I have kept God’s commandments, and I have kept the covenants I made with Heavenly Father. Not sure, that I needed a day in the darkness, to be able to extinguish between goodness and darkness.
In the reading Nephi talks about the Garden of Eden, and the fact that, in the garden everything was perfect and untouched, and then the fall occurred which gave contrast to a perfection that had been untouched. For if there was no evil, or no wrong, or no pain, or no struggle, we would not know what perfection and good are, because there was no opposite in existence when Adam and Eve were in the garden.
I know that Heavenly Father loves me and has my back, all the time.
Time to get ready for church.
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 …
When we put down alcohol, because we are alcoholics, we know that we can never pick it back up. And when we stop smoking POT we also know that we can never smoke again.
Times are changing, and the rules of engagement are also changing.
Living with AIDS for so long, in the very first few months, I was given medicinal marijuana because I was told that it would help me eat and bulk up, and not waste away and die.
So I smoked up.
When I stopped drinking – I had to stop smoking and using recreational drugs as well. Until the day my slip began, and I picked up and began using again, only that time, the using was far worse and had serious consequences when I was done.
When I finally relented and stopped drinking, I had not smoked a joint for over a year, the drink still existed, until December of 2001.
Fast Forward to 5:30 a.m. this morning.
I had gone through hubby’s backpack a couple of hours earlier, and found a zip bag, with all the accoutrements a good pot smoker would have.
As his caregiver, when his behavior changes and he becomes despondent and catatonic sitting in the same room, I needed to figure out what was going on.
He’s just been stoned …
When we met and began co-habitating, we got rid of copious amounts of empty beer bottles and all the pot rollers, papers and assorted other things.
Color me surprised when I made this find earlier this morning.
I was LIVID …
Hubby is smoking. He made an executive decision for himself, assuming that because I was clean and sober, that I would judge him and condemn his using, and toss his shit down the toilet. That was my first word in fact. Toss It …
He did not TRUST me.
Since he kept this a secret, I was absolutely angry and pissed off.
I tried to go back to bed, but only tossed and turned. He got up to pee at 5:30 and I called him into the living room and lit into him like a madman.
Words were said. Threats were made. Tears were shed.
Many years ago, in the beginning of his Bi-Polar disorder, he was drugged heavily for ten months until we found the mix that worked. During that time, the drugs emasculated him, robbed him of who he was, and left me with someone I did not know on the back end.
I had to mourn that loss, and decided to stick and stay, because I remembered who he was.
Over the last two or so years, his shrink has been trying to get him off all those pills and to give him back some of his “Self.” That has only worked so far.
Hubby found that the odd joint, now and then, made a real difference in his Bi-Polar state (read: manic depression) and his mental functionality, so he kept smoking.
He did this by himself, here at home, when I was not here.
We have a funny service in Montreal. Pot Delivery systems. You call, they deliver.
I’ve heard of this service from some of my guys before who used it themselves.
I may be clean and sober, that doesn’t mean I am a flag toting militant judgmental prick.
I think, when circumstances warrant, and choices of what we want to do for our personal health and well being, that decision IS up to US, and nobody else. Who am I to judge?
If that time came for me, I would want the same latitude and acceptance of the choices I make when the time came. I know, I am not going to mt death miserable and shitting in a diaper, nor deluded with dementia. I have already chosen my exit plan.
What was I supposed to say, after hearing his explanation of why he made that choice, and what it means to his mental functionality and his happiness ?
Our Canadian Government is on track to legalize POT across the board in the next few month hopefully. But medicinal marijuana is available here in Montreal.
One can get a compassionate use card from Health Canada, and you can order pot online and have it sent to you through Canada Post.
There is no shame in being KIND and UNDERSTANDING.
Times are changing in many places, and we have to be accepting of those changes, knowing full well, that I cannot drink or smoke. Again.
In the end this is a Page 417 issue …
ACCEPTANCE IS THE KEY TO ALL MY PROBLEMS.
For Leah, she just wanted the love of her husband, JacobRemember, Jacob thought that Leah’s younger sister Rachel was beautiful. Jacob had been tricked into marrying Leah when he wanted Rachel..
Genesis 29:14-3531 When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. 32 Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.33 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.” So she named him Simeon..34 Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.” So he was named Levi..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..For Leah, she was not loved, something which she craved. So she did what women of that time were to do, have babies, male babies. And she did it really well. She thought that if she had God plus her husbands love, she would have all she needed..And so she kept trying to gain his love, by producing male babies..“Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.”.“She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too.”.“Again she conceived, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “Now at last my husband will become attached to me, because I have borne him three sons.”.Each new baby you see her heart torn out that maybe now Jacob would love her. But he never did..All these sons she was producing, and the reason was to gain the love and respect of her husband. She craved his love and affirmation just like many of us do today. She was willing to try the best that she could to gain his love. But it didn’t work..We think if only we could have the love of someone close to us, then it all would be ok, and life would be good or better or we would feel heard. But that equation never worked for poor Leah. And it really doesn’t work for us either..And then we see with her last son, a shift in her heart..35 She conceived again, and when she gave birth to a son she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.” So she named him Judah. Then she stopped having children..This last time her focus was not on her husbands love, but on her God. Her heart changed and she decided to focus her needs her value, on God who was worthy of praise..And when she did that shift, Judah was born. When she stopped trying to gain value and love from her husband, and just from God, life came. The line that Jesus would be born into, came through that line of Judah. Life came then and there.And interestingly enough, Rachel would die in childbirth and Jacob was buried with Leah..God took notice on the unloved Leah (and he took notice on the “unloved” Jeremy too). When she stopped trying to gain Jacobs love, she was free. When she decided to gain her value and self worth from God, who was worthy of praise, she was free.
Hello peoples, how the hell are you ? It’s been a while. I’ve spent the better part of these many days unpacking and thinking about life in general.
I’ve been sitting in a place of gratitude and respect and pride that I have for where I am, how I got here, and just what it means to really savor, Citizenship. My experience sitting on Parliament Hill with my best friend, listening to Oh Canada being sung, meant a great deal to me personally and spiritually.
I’ve been trying to understand what it meant to attend a Pride Event, after so many years, NOT attending pride at all. Pride twenty five years ago, is not Pride in 2016. Everything changes. The mission of Pride, every year, is a gathering of people, who want to be seen, want to be heard, want to be respected and want to be legitimized.
I expected to see, people like me. Men and Women from my time period, who came, survived, and are still alive to celebrate life. That did not happen. I did not see many men from my specific range of experience. I did not see any mention of People living with HIV, however, we collected package after package of specially wrapped condoms.
What I did see is many young people. Boys, Girls, Gays, Lesbians, Trans, Bisexuals. What struck us odd was the militant lesbians, especially one very outspoken black militant lesbian at the Dyke March Protest.
The trans bathroom issue was front and center. The black-white divide is alive and well. The pushing out of privileged white men, opting of course for the more politically correct minority groups, within the LGBT community.
What I think they lack in realization is that the LGBT community began as a minority group, marching for acceptance, inclusion and respect. And we have passed through those times as the LGBT community grew in number and visibility over the last two decades.
AIDS has come and gone. And is not the hot button issue it was just a mere two decades ago. What do these young people know of AIDS ? Not One Idea. Most of the kids we saw at Pride in Ottawa are young enough to have been born in recent years, never having to see or participate in the real fight for life.
So while in Ottawa, the Big Wide LGBT community is right back where it started for this new age. Pockets and small communities of young people marching for their own causes, which are today’s Hot Button Issues.
The politics and issues of the past, are no more. Our community has evolved, as the binary male/female, gay/straight, simple issues of sexuality has blossomed into what we see today and the FLUIDITY of Sexual orientation. This notion of Fluidity has broadened the spectrum of people and personalities. We’ve moved from a few voices of change, to an entire spectrum of voices fighting to be heard and legitimized.
Very complicated. And I am not the person to illuminate these topics. But a few of my friends, today, are much more well versed on this discussion. I cannot speak for what I don’t understand or fully comprehend the minutiae of the sexes.
Suffice to say, Pride … There is a difference.
How free Do You Want To Be ?
It has been a few weeks, working a new round of steps with my new sponsor. I, along, with one of my lady friends, sit on Sunday evenings before the meeting, and we do step work together.
The last few months have been trans formative. I know now, how free I want to be. Because I understand, with certain hindsight and perspective now, where I want to go because I am willing now to go to any length for spiritual freedom.
When you have new eyes on the book, and The Work, after so many years, reading and reading and re-reading, over and over again, one of my friends, tonight, said that this round of steps is teaching us to be efficient in learning How It Works, to be able to Give it Away to our sponsees.
Within our group of intrepid steppers, we all agree, in one way or another, that we are just tired of ourselves, and the things we cling to, not because we are blind to them, but because we have been made aware of just how insidious alcoholism is, and what it does to us emotionally, mentally, bodily and spiritually.
Today, I am prepared to walk away from the area of my life that has been fruitless for the whole of my life. Rafa and I spent weeks and months talking together about life, family and my book manuscript that is sitting on my dining room table right now.
I get it. We are all human. And the whole journey through my forties has been a journey of wisdom and understanding. I know, where I come from, and what makes people tick. I know the roles we all played in making this life what it became.
I am the only one, who is clean and sober today.
I can’t save anyone.
I am not Jesus Christ.
In a sort of way, I feel an amount of guilt for leaving people in a bad situation, when I decided to leave and not look back. I am guilty of hoping and denying God’s truth from reality. I know, that for the whole of my life, God has been with me, and has given me what I needed, when I needed it, in certain truth order.
But I was holding on to my will, in this one area, denying God’s will and hoping for my own will to manifest. It is time to let it go. Turn my will over to God in ALL areas of life, and not just some.
You cannot be ” Just a little Pregnant …”
So that is a thing.
Our young people are back from their summer vacations and jobs. And in the coming days, we will be sorting out meetings, jobs and money. It’s time to hand over responsibility to someone else for a while.
Fall is on its way. Cooler night temps are coming little by slowly.
THERE ARE ONLY 118 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS …
Though we of A.A. find ourselves living in a world characterized by destructive fears as never before in history, we see great areas of faith, and tremendous aspirations toward justice and brotherhood.
Yet no prophet can presume to say whether the world outcome will be blazing destruction or the beginning, under God’s intention, of the brightest era yet known to mankind.
This thought was taken from a Grapevine from the year 1962. All of the writing that has been collected in As Bill Sees It, comes from an original source, either in a book, or a letter or an article.
After the last two weeks, we have two visions of the world, the first is one of FEAR and DESTRUCTION and DEVASTATION. The second is of HOPE, FAITH and TOGETHERNESS.
We have a saying in a certain room that:
What we could not do ALONE, We can do TOGETHER.
When the fellowship began in the early 1930’s, and when we look back at history, it is either one thing or another going on in the world.
Wars, Hunger, Homelessness, Poverty, Hardships.
Today, right now, we have a choice to make. We either accept the fear filled vision, or we accept the Hope filled vision. To me there is only one choice.
WE MUST MAKE THAT CHOICE TOGETHER.
Last night, Pastor William Barber spoke so eloquently. He quoted one of my favorite passages from the Old Testament:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Tonight, we read the reading I posted above, and immediately, I imagined Bill, sitting at a desk, having witnessed the past two weeks, and penned that passage, as if he were speaking about the NOW.
And that is exactly where I went when I shared my words. A.A. has no opinion about outside issues, hence the A.A. name not be drawn into public controversy.
But everybody in that room tonight, did the same thing. We listened to words of Hope, amid a world that is sunk in Fear. Many people referenced last night’s events in what they had to say as well.
“I am concerned about those that say so much about what God says so little, while saying so little about what God says so much.”
This quote when I heard the words, spoke to me on many levels. When we sit together in a room, we come for unity, we come for safety, we come for each other, and some, come to hear God, (as he reveals himself in our group conscience).
When all is said and done, I believe that God would want us to abide in Hope, in Faith, in Brotherhood, and Justice.
People who find their way to the rooms, come from places of destruction, from places of sadness, from places of fear, and from places of no return. We know what the bitter end looked like to each of us, each in our own ways. The reading above, goes on to say that
“We do not fear the world outcome, whichever course it may take. This is because we have been enabled to deeply feel and say, “WE SHALL FEAR NO EVIL – THY WILL, NOT OURS BE DONE.”
In my life, there have been many things to fear. And those fears began, in my earliest memories, in a house that I was born into, being beaten and chased around a house listening to him say “You were a mistake and should never have been born, as that man tried to kill me more than once.”
I do not often think of this, any more. Because I lived. And I survived.
Many of my friends who faced fears early in their lives, went to the drugs and sucked on a bottle, early on, spending decades dousing those fears with anything that would take them out of those fears.
I did not have that kind of luck. I did not turn to the bottle in that way. Even though it was there in the house, I never took advantage of it. I bore what I had to bear. And over time, I found ways to get away from him, and my home. I did not use to get away, I physically moved away from fear. Spending inordinate amounts of time, living at friends houses for a number of years, while that lasted.
I would leave for school hours early just to get out of the house. And the teachers knew that, and they provided for me in their own ways.
This life of mine, has not be devoid of Fear, or Pain or Loss. Far from it. I have sat in the midst of the maelstrom of AIDS and watched my friends die, one by one. I know what it is like to face ones greatest fear … Waiting to DIE.
We must let go of FEAR. We must move past it.
And in the words of Hillary Clinton,
We must go out there and do as much good, for as many people, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
That is what we learn in recovery, to do good, for the many, for as long as we can, to the best of our ability.
We Will Never Bow to FEAR.
Not Now Not Ever…
There is just so much WRONG going on in the world right now. The tragedy of trigger happy cops, killing more black men, is a scourge on our collective humanity.
The NRA says that Guns don’t Kill People, People kill People.
So on that front, nothing is going to change.
Then we have a disgruntled black man, with combat intelligence, and knows how to kill people, sets out to kill white officers, because white officers, don’t know how to act accordingly, when it comes to others. (read: Black Men)
I’ve been having an ongoing conversation with a man I met a couple of weeks ago. That conversation has been about GOD. With all of this killing and tragedy going on in the world, it is too easy to be angry, maddened, and resentful at God, for allowing all this to be going on, without stepping in and doing something about it.
I don’t believe that God has anything to do with men killing men, women and children. I believe when man decides he is going to create havoc and kill another, the notion of God, or the belief in God, is forgotten.
And for those who kill because their holy scripture calls for killing, or that certain killing is God divined, this is entirely misguided and bastardized faith.
Where is God, in all of this suffering ? I don’t have an answer for that.
Every Life Matters. Every Single Human Life Matters.
No matter your skin color, your religion, your race, or your creed.
It seems that somewhere along the line, man has forgotten about the sanctity of human life. Every life is sacred, and before a man ponders whether or not to kill another man, he really needs to STOP and THINK, before he pulls that trigger.
OBVIOUSLY, Men are not thinking.
I think that collectively, we all need to take a step back from tragedy, killing, rioting, and marching in the streets calling for vengeance in retribution for wrongs committed, and we need to be reminded why we are here and what we are supposed to be doing for each other and our fellow man, woman, and child.
Everybody just needs to take a few moments to just BREATHE ….
That is all I want to say about these things. Because nothing I have to say is going to make any difference, because I am here, and the world is out there. I can pledge solidarity all I want, but I know that what is going on is Not In My Back Yard … NIMBY.
**** **** ****
I spent a fair amount of money on books last week, because Canada Post in still in negotiations, fearing either a blanket LOCK OUT of employees, or a total strike and work stoppage, which is going to fuck up mail delivery for the next little while, until they sort themselves out.
Instead of relying on the Mail, coming or not, I shopped locally,hoping to find, here at home what I wanted online.
I’ve got three new books for you to consider:
The Way to the Spring, Life and Death in Palestine, Ben Ehrenriech
When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi
All three books come recommended by the Indigo staff and web bots.
I’ve chosen to begin in Palestine. The subject of Israel, and Palestine, is fraught with complications, and a subject I never write about because of my lack of knowledge of the complexities that exist in a land, that is claimed by several “peoples” and has been a source of struggle for centuries.
I would rather spend my time reading and studying, then putting words out there, that aren’t backed by study and understanding.
So that is a thing …
I completed my read of “The Spirituality of Imperfection” by Ernest Kuntz. This little book has changed my life, and the life of my best friend, who read it before me, who embodies much of what this book teaches us.
Tonight, taking from Ernest’s book, we read a bit of Bill’s Story from the Big Book, and talked about God, as in “Why don’t you choose your own conception?” or God, “As we understood Him.”
We had a lively discussion, and everyone participated.
I’ve just been very grateful for one certain man in my life right now. The man, I know today, was the embodiment of all that is good in the world, and for me, became God incarnate in my life, and kept me alive, amid years of sickness and death.
If you want proof that there is a God, I am here, twenty two years later, I am still alive.
Over the past few days, I’ve had conversations about the world “out there” and the world, that people in recovery inhabit. And how, we as recovering people, work to navigate the “world out there” while working daily, in “the world we inhabit” in recovery.
The world “Out there” is constantly stuck in the grind of produce, produce, produce, and push, push, push. Gotta get MORE, MORE, MORE, as fast as we can, or else we might miss the opportunity to ATTAIN.
The Kill or be Killed and the Eat or be Eaten mentality.
We, on the other hand, work to maintain a spiritual connection to that which gives us life and sobriety, knowing that we get what we need on a need to have basis, on God’s time and not our own.
But hopes and dreams are good and necessary, because they keep us focused on certain goals, and in the “world out there” people need to get there as quick as possible, by any means necessary, even backstabbing their fellows, just to get the quick buck.
Life has taught me one thing about that …
I can hope and dream all I want. But it is the WORK to get there, that is the challenge. Knowing that whatever is going to come, is going to come when WE are prepared to receive it, and when the time is RIGHT.
God knows what we need, before we even speak it. And in my life, I know that, before I even want something particular, I need to do the WORK to get there.
Nothing in my life came on my time table. However, some things did come, but they did not come without specific challenges. Nothing comes that easily. Ever.
All these spiritual axioms did not come, until they came. When the time was right for me to be able to study and begin to apply these axioms in my life. The Spirituality of Imperfection came to me, from Rafa, at the right moment in my life, and it has shaped who I really want to be. That will take time and work on my part.
Life is a One Day at a Time proposal.
Teaching my guys to live on that principle is going to take work on all of our parts.
Remember that being good to one another is our jobs in this life.
A kind word or a kind gesture will make someone’s day.
There is too much death and destruction going on right now. And we need to work, every day, to pump as much good into the world as we can, as we are able.
BBC Europe News
Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologize to gay people for the way it has treated them.
He told reporters that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.
The pontiff also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalized – women, the poor, and children forced into labour.
The Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals.
But some conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.
Speaking to reporters on his plane returning from Armenia, the Pope said: “I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”
Pope Francis said the Church should seek forgiveness from those whom it had marginalized.
“I think that the Church not only should apologize… to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”
In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.
“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said then.
Saying those words, does not change what the Catholic Church, still holds fast to, in Church teaching on the subject of homosexuality.
I will say that Francis, in my readings of him, He is Pastorally inclined to support many people, but the Church Minions, as old as they are, are still stronger than the Pope. Francis can say all the words he wants, but his hands are tied by the Curia to really make official change to Church Canon.
He may want to support, love and respect the LGBT community. But the men who sit in the Curia are old and set in their ways, and real change does not come easily to the Church that is as old as the Catholic Church.
We begin a new week, with the realization that shit happens, people die, and that what we are left with is the question, WHY?
Making sense of senseless killings will go on, because last week, wasn’t the first, and most certainly, won’t be the last. How do we protect our children, when those with the power to do something concrete, stand on their ground and say,
“we don’t really give a shit, because big money pays our salaries, and if we make change, that would put our jobs in jeopardy, and we can’t have that happen.”
Life is full of paradoxes. There is always a right answer for most of them. But how do you do the right thing, when you feel, on the inside, that doing the right thing, is not going to kill the ache in your soul, but in order to move forwards, you must do the right thing.
Push Me – Pull Me
My friends, (you all know who you are) have been on top of me the past week, and it seems for some time. Some of my friends here, are paying more attention to me, than I am paying attention to me.
I listened to all of the people I trust. And I heard all of their points of view, and took into consideration, everything that they said to me.
Tonight, I resigned my position as treasurer of the Tuesday meeting. I turned over the kitty to a friend, who also now has my set of keys to the church. I will not be returning to the scene of the crime. I’ve fired my sponsor, and have decided to take a while and just be with my friends.
Before this sponsor cycle began a couple of years ago, when I was between them, I hung close to the men I trust in my circle. I had changed up my meetings so that I could be with them and they carried me for a number of months when I needed it the most.
Last week, one of those men, handed me a set of keys for the Friday Night North End meeting. I took them, but had no idea why, I inherited them to begin with. On Friday, last, I asked him why he gave me the keys and his answer was simple, he said:
“You need the service.”
This week begins with a dropped meeting, and an open night, and responsibility for opening and closing the Friday meeting, which was the only night, during my week, that I did not have to do anything resembling responsibility.
Things change …
This week also marks the beginning of the exodus of people out of Montreal. Some of my guys are working at camps in Ontario for the summer, Rafa, is leaving me again, moving to Ottawa with his girlfriend. She was accepted to University in Ottawa. Friday is his last Friday meeting, which also closes our chapter of Friday coffee conversations.
My best friend, is also the one who comes and goes from my life, often. At least they aren’t going very far, Ottawa is only a 2 hour bus ride from Montreal. And they are moving into an apartment that has a guest room. I will be commuting between Montreal and the Capitol now to see him.
Our M.A. family, is shrinking in number as well, because of all the folks leaving for the summer and moving away permanently, which leaves just a few of us to open/host/and close the three M.A. meetings here in Montreal. Summers are very sparse when it comes to regular members and visitors from out of town.
On the other hand, Festival Season is in full swing. And if past years are a guide, the Sunday meeting will pick up over the next two months. The timing on the Sunday meeting is popular among entertainers and guests from out of town.
Everybody has something to do at the moment, which keeps us all out of trouble.
If you need to get out of self, the best solution for that, is to do for others.
They never said, Sobriety was going to be easy. Last week, was the worst week of my life, since I got sober this time around. Now I know, for certain, who my real friends are, and who cares and who does not.
I walked through my feelings, and let them come, as they came. I did not stuff them nor ignore them. I did not sink into self pity, but I tapped my extensive network of friends, spiritual men and women, and I talked it out until I could not talk any more.
I am staying away from Old Timers.
Change is the only constant in our lives. Our job, is to learn how to navigate those changes with grace, strength and serenity.
People come and go from our lives, for various reasons, and I must be grateful for the time I had with them, while they were here.
But you are not going very far.
Love the people in your life, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.
Pray for those left behind, they need it more than I do. And never forget them.
I have come to the end of my road with “tolerance for those with different struggles.” I have come to the end of the road, trying to be a presence, in the Christian community, as a gay man. I have come to the end of my road, with intolerance by people who claim to love Jesus, but hate me, based on a 2000 year old book.
I have come to the end of the road with trying to be a First Class Citizen, in a world where today, the LGBTQ community knows for certain where we rank on the life spectrum, and just how INSIGNIFICANT we really are to a great number of people.
This LOW BROW, INTOLERANT, VINDICTIVE, REPUGNANT AND HYPOCRITICAL BODY OF FAITH – I am DONE with you.
Repugnant phrases like:
“GOD OPENED UP HIS ARSENAL OF GUNS AND KILLED THOSE FAGGOTS IN THAT BAR”
“IT WAS ALL OUR FAULT THAT WE WERE KILLED BECAUSE GOD IS PUNISHING THE GAYS, BECAUSE WE ARE ALL PEDOPHILES.”
THIS IGNORANT INTOLERANT HATE SPEECH IS REPUGNANT.
I mean really, what kind of shit like this comes out of the mouth of a human being who professes to be Christian ?
I AM SURE THAT GOD, IN HIS INFINITE WISDOM, DOES NOT HAVE AN ARSENAL OF GUNS TO KILL ANYBODY.
And the height of arrogance, is that for some, who think they speak for God, across many religions, condemn us and speak of our deaths as if God ordained that action, that ANY God would ordain any action such as killing innocents.
I’ve spent my entire existence trying to find a place that I could just be ME. After half a lifetime of being told that it was an ABOMINATION to be who I wanted to be.
And I listened to a podcast today with a man who spoke about finding your life and moving forwards and letting go of people, places and things that no longer serve us.
In 2002, I was thirty five years old, and with two consecutive decisions, I made serious changes in my life, and crossed a border, to live the life I wanted to live.
Because for so long, I heard over and over again, that I was a mistake and should never have been born, then after that came the request that I just DIE ALREADY !
Over my lifetime, the continual occurrence of people telling me NO YOU CAN’T, is high.
I am ASHAMED to be associated with America. And I have been for a long time. If I did not need the government for certain reasons, that would have changed, long ago, but it is what it is.
I am so thoroughly FED UP with certain communities, faith and public, and I know that there are more GOOD people, than BAD people. Rafa said, that the minority opinion may be small, but they are VOCAL, and WELL PLACED.
I came to Montreal to find a life, and the life I have is truly more magnificent than I would have ever imagined the day I got off that airplane that April day in 2002.
Even now, after almost fifteen years sober, and a career in academia, in the beginning my advisors and professors, and my friends were telling me YES you CAN.
At the end of that road – when all was said and done, my advisors, my professors, and the men of faith involved in the rest of my life, all said the same thing … NO YOU CAN’T …
Being gay in the 2000’s is a hell of a lot better now than it was forty years ago. We have made great strides in social acceptance, and legal status in many places. And as soon a we were legal here in Montreal, we stepped into a church and made it official.
There are many reasons that life did not lead in the direction that I had hoped. “Faith in Practice” in four season territory, is a tough sell. There might be thousands of churches in Montreal one could go to, but getting to them in minus 20c cold is problematic.
So I could not fulfill a major pillar of Christian practice. I moved to another denomination where I was told YES you CAN. And for a while that worked for me. But I learned along the way that I was not intellectually stimulated by clergy or the congregants that I met. Even if that congregation was open and affirming.
I would attend social events, and discussion forums, and feel like the odd man out among CLERGY and their friends. There was a building I could go to to celebrate the Eucharist, but it didn’t go far enough for me because I missed an integral part of my faith practice and it might seem insignificant, but to me it means much, much, more.
The tabernacle is the focal point of why you go to a Catholic Church. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
These days, you don’t really find a tabernacle that is open to the public like it is in other places that I have lived. So that was a no go for me.
A very well known man, my first adviser, professor, and friend, the man who was the driving force behind who I would become, made the jump from Catholicism to the Anglican Communion, so he could be in full communion with a faith body where he and his partner were accepted 100%, lock, stock and barrel.
He attained Holy Orders in the Anglican faith, and our connection all but dried up.
I am only so tolerant when it comes to people and places. If I want something, or need something or someone, I know who to ask. And you only get three chances to do what I need. If I have to ask you more than three times for something and in response I get a smart ass remark, I’ve lost my patience for you and your institution.
At the end of my Theology work, when I completed my studies and wrote a thirty page prospectus for the Catholic Church in Montreal, I handed that work in and it got raved reviews and several promises by men high up in the hierarchy of the church, who asked me to prepare for some serious work in the church for my community. I was sure I was on my way, but in the end, what I got, again, was NO YOU CAN’T …
I have come to the end of my road with NO YOU CAN’T.
I have come to the end of my road with intolerant people who claim to love Jesus, but hate me – hate us. Now I know those numbers are smaller than those Christians who don’t hate us.
There was a time, during my university career when a certain Evangelical Church spent 18 months harassing and spamming me with hatred, because being Gay and Christian was in congruent and not possible because the Bible said it.
They eventually went away. It only took 2 degrees to get rid of them.
I read, I read A LOT.
My library is full of books of Popes and Saints. I know all the stories, and I know what I like and what I do not.
I’ve read every book that has been published on Pope Francis. Fr. George Bergoglio. I know what this man thinks, I know what he has said. I know the man he is. And Pope Francis has made grand gestures towards inclusion, but his hands are tied when it comes to the Catholic intelligentsia and the Roman Curia.
Old habits die hard, and the only way the LGBTQ community will ever get full inclusion is for the entire OLD GUARD machine to die and get replaced. That would take several generations, still …
I am still a Second Class Catholic in a church with over a billion members.
I know many good Catholic men of faith in this city. And I know what they all think of me. There are churches I could go to, and be fully accepted. Montreal is a very tolerant and open community where faith is concerned.
Living a BMW life, makes life a little difficult, getting around a city where a real car would come in very handy.
To This End … I no longer want to participate in a community where vitriol and hatred are everyday speak. I no longer can afford it emotionally, mentally, religiously, and spiritually.
I am sickened to DEATH with the hatred that is being meted upon our grieving community right now.
I am SICK to DEATH of this HATRED.
My heart is broken and I am emotionally shattered over the killing of all those young LGBT people. All those lives snuffed out by a deranged, unstable, terrorist.
I no longer want to identify myself with the Christian denomination.
I am done with you. Finished.
My desire to be GOOD and to LOVE still exists. That’s what we learn in recovery. To love ourselves once again, and learn how to love others genuinely.
I am GOOD, I do GOOD for everyone I know, in the spirit of love and Christian faith and practice.
But my Christian faith is GONE. Forever …
WE are taught to be Humble and Kind. To be who WE really should be, instead of who WE had been.
And I find that the more I see innocents get killed because of Hatred, Ideology and Homophobia, my Christian belief in Love and Forgiveness goes right out the window.
And I am FUCKING ANGRY AS SHIT ! My Heart is Broken and I am shattered. And I don’t know where to go or what to do.
My Anger and Belief in Biblical Revenge and Retribution has clouded my vision and my heart and I am heartsick, and that can’t go on much longer.
Rafa, said I should sit on this and think. I’ve done all the thinking I need to do for now.
Now is the time for action, to do something, to find someplace SAFE to BE ME.
NONE of my faithful brothers and Ministers have said one single word of love or support, none of them.
Where are the leaders of faith when GOD seems to be M.I.A.
WHERE THE FUCK DO WE TURN ???
I SURE AS SHIT DON’T HAVE THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION.
McGill Ghetto SHUL Passover
A long time ago, I made a faith profession, during my studies, that if I ever jumped the Catholic / Christian ship, I know where I would land.
I have a number and tomorrow I am following my heart and my soul.
I’ve asked myself many questions today, I’ve done my inventory, I talked it over with a friend before the meeting, and she suggested, I have a conversation and see where it leads me.
I don’t know where God is right now. Because He is not here at the moment, when the world really needs God.
I’m going to go look for Him, because He’s not where I was told He would be.
Tomorrow begins the next quest on my spiritual path.
I never know how my day is going to turn out, so I always walk into them open for anything. I go about my day, and life happens. I made two phone calls before the Thursday night event, and those calls were right what the doctor ordered.
A friend and I were talking and I was sitting outside the church killing time before I had to set up, so I made a call. And this post is an answer to a question she had.
Addiction is addiction. And a drug is a drug, just like alcohol. The drug I want to talk about is marijuana. With all the talk about legalizing POT, I guess I should tell you what happens to people who got addicted, went down the rabbit hole, and got sucked into the black hole.
Now I know, scientifically, that if you hit the event horizon of a black hole, there is no coming out, there is NO escape, you are cosmically fucked. You are going where no man has gone before.
But the story is the same, for those of us who were, at one time, addicted to pot.
I can tell you this story because it is part of my story. After many years clean and sober, in year twelve, I learned to step up my recovery game. And I did that. Little did I know that when my guys started showing up on my doorstep, they would be down and out pot heads.
I knew Bob, the man I credit for The Work, was also an addict, and I did not see that connection until much later. I did not know where my guys, (had there been a thought of people to work with, ever came to fruition), were going to come from.
But one by one, they came and the opportunities presented themselves.
[EDIT] I also should mention that not only men suffer the ravages of marijuana addiction, women suffer more than the men, we have seen this in our own community. Addiction knows no barriers, age, sex, orientation, etc … Women suffer too …
The rest is history.
Funny, we had our meeting this evening and a man from Toronto showed up on our doorstep tonight, looking for a meeting. It was a good meeting, having experience, strength and hope from someone from someplace else.
After the meeting he asked me out for coffee, and I went with him. And we sat on Phillips Square for two hours and talked about life.
I made a new friend.
Unlike Alcohol, Cocaine, Heroine, CRACK, or any other drug, on the market, marijuana is known as an herb, something you can’t get addicted to, and won’t get you into trouble or kill you like the others will, but smoke enough of it and you will descend into that black hole of addiction, apathy, lethargic, self centered, using that will kill any semblance of humanity you have and totally STUNT any relationship you might be in.
Alcohol. One drink, leads to Two, which lead to MORE.
Hard drugs are another beast entirely. All it takes is one hit, one trip and one needle, and you are hooked, MORE is what you then crave, and in the end, death is highly likely.
Marijuana, usually begins with an innocuous joint. The buzz comes, and then you go back to your life. Ask any addict, and they will tell you what happened after that first toke. Marijuana might be innocuous, but once you are hooked, it is a forgone conclusion that you will want MORE, need MORE and go to any length to get MORE.
You might get offered your first joint, but the logical progression is that if you play the tape to the end, one day you will be so hooked that you will BEG, BORROW, LIE and STEAL to get a hit, and roll over everyone who gets in your way.
Your behavior will change. Your habits will change, depending on how hooked you get to pot. It infiltrates your life, and renders you useless to yourself and definitely with others.
Work goes by the wayside. School is fucked beyond repair. Your life goes down the tubes.
All that matters is scoring it, dealing it and finding ways to stay HIGH.
Do you want this kind of life? Where all you want to do from sun up to sun down is bake yourself in a haze of pot?
I lived that life. I dropped myself in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere, clean and sober, and when I opened that truck door, I was handed a joint and a beer.
There was no way out. And I had no plan of escape. It wasn’t a question of not using. The question became, out of my control, which do I take first.
THE JOINT or THE BEER.
Years of sobriety went out the window and I spent eighteen months stuck in a hole of addiction to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.
I had, wisely, made contact with the outside world, and in the end, that one human being who knew where I was, called the cops, and got me out of there, when I could have seriously ended up dead or someplace that nobody would have known where I went or how I got there.
And let me tell you, it was very close.
After that horror show, I vowed never to smoke another joint, or have another hit of cocaine, or use another drug, as long as I lived. However, alcohol, in my mind, at that time, was necessary. I was still stuck in a cycle of binge drinking, until I hit the end.
Knowing where I had come from, and the fact that I lived for MORE of whatever was in front of me, that was the battle I was facing.
You don’t know the evil of MORE when you are in it, because you are deluded by the drug or alcohol. But when you sober up and get clean, you see just what a nightmare, MORE is.
Some say that you can’t get addicted to POT that it is innocuous. And many people tout the benefits of pot medicinally, and I don’t disagree with those folks, because when I was diagnosed with AIDS in the 1990’s, friends gave me copious amounts of pot to smoke to avoid wasting and DYING, because I could not eat.
The stories of what POT did for sick men are many. When you are going to die and the odds are against you, and drugs were not available, because they did not exist back then, save for experimental drugs that, in the end, failed, smoking pot was the least of your problems.
Men ravaged with AIDS, did whatever they could to prolong their lives.
Pot was one answer. And it worked for many, while it lasted. In the end, hundreds of thousands of men and boys died from AIDS, for them there was no way out.
And I am here to tell you their stories, because I witnessed this with my own eyes. I watched my friends go to their deaths riddled with sickness. And many of them hung out at the bar we worked at drinking and using and killing themselves before disease took them outright. All in a haze of drugs and alcohol.
God, (read: Todd) knew better, and saved me from that hell hole.
And I live to tell the story, every day that I breathe.
What people don’t see, is that ONE, ANY one, leads to MORE, which leads to outright addiction. All of us were stuck in this black hole, until we found our ways out.
M.A. serves a definite purpose for our community here in Montreal.
And tonight, I met a man from Toronto who introduced me to his life, and his work as a documentary film maker working here in Quebec and visited us. And our little meeting that could, made the difference in a visitors life.
You never know how your day is going to turn out, or when God is going to give the opportunity to share experience, strength and hope with a stranger and change his life.
We are a blessed little group of intrepid recovering potheads.
You don’t have to be saddled by MORE, there is a way out.
I love you BOO.
Here is your post.
Some say that, that if you start hearing voices, then you should worry …
The theme of imagination continued this evening and morphed into a discussion about Living on Borrowed Time. A concept that I am intimately connected to.
Over the past week, I’ve listened to a number of folks, talk about voices, whether that voice is of a departed child, a family member, or more importantly the voice of God Himself.
Which transitions well into the discussion of God’s will, and what that sounds like to the human being who is seeking God’s will.
I’ve said in the past, that departed family, have come back to me, one way or another. I’ve seen them, I’ve heard them, and I’ve channeled them as well.
I heard a man, a few night’s ago, talk about his endeavor to find his son, on the other side, after his murder, and how he DID connect to his son, and had intensive conversations with him, from the other side, and they wrote a book about it, together.
HGTV has some fantastic programming. One of my favorites is “Fixer Upper” with Chip and Joanna Gaines. I watched a You Tube Video of Joanna talking about her life, and her love of God, and how God spoke to her, and how her life changed because of her faith in God.
I find that incredibly moving.
Sometimes I trust the voice in my head, but most times I do not. I worry that I am just listening to myself talk to myself. Knowing what that voice is, and where it is coming from is important.
I often dream of my grandmothers. I go to their homes in my dreams. And at night, before I go to bed, each and every night, I think of them. Because what I carry in my heart, who I want to be, who I am, the life I live, is based on the love they both gave me.
And I often hear them say, that I have done well so far. At least that’s what I think and believe.
Is that ODD or is that GOD ?
I wonder if they see me and know I try and communicate with them, often.
Mediums and Psychics, would say that the dead do see us, they are always around, they are with us all the time, just beyond the veil.
I guess it is a matter of perspective.
I know that Grammy and Memere are with me. They are part of my heart and soul. I know they are there, but often, I don’t hear them, besides what I imagine they would say to me, if they were talking to me, one way or another.
It’s the same with the voice of God.
I think the voice of God comes, when we do our very best, every day, to do the right thing, whatever that thing is. Where do we learn what the right thing is? And where do we seek the voice of God?
In the past, I have said, that if I don’t hear the voice of God myself, then I need to go out and sit with my friends, because if God is going to speak to me, that voice is going to be familiar, from a familiar source, close to me.
I’ve had my personal run ins with God in the past. And the fact that I live on Borrowed Time, and I am still alive, weigh heavily on me at times.
My connection to God is a long standing relationship.
The fact that I am still alive, tells me that something greater than myself is driving the bus. I do my share of the work. Getting out of bed in the morning, doing my best, taking my pills, and leaving the worrying to other people.
What is God’s Will ? I don’t know. All I do know is that for me, if I hear God correctly, that will is to do my best every day, for those I care about, to the best of my ability.
I listened to Joanna talk about God, talking to her, and telling her to trust Him. And she knew, intimately, what that meant to her. And she had turned her will and her life over to God, and He provided for her and Chip.
I trust God. Blindly. I don’t often think about it. I just Do It.
Tonight, a friend brought up the concept of Living on Borrowed Time. This concept was introduced to me decades ago when I got sick, by Paul Monette, who wrote a book, Borrowed Time, about his lover Roger, in the age of AIDS, and how he lived, got sick, and eventually died.
I don’t know why God chose to spare me, but He did.
I don’t know why I skated above the water as all of my friends died, and I did not.But I did.
And to this day, I don’t know why I am still breathing, and what, ultimately, I am supposed to do, beyond what I am doing already ???
I have two doctors. Brothers. I trust them implicitly.
For a very long time, I worried. I waited. And I was consumed by numbers. And for a very long time, I saw my doctors quite often. Over the past thirteen years, I have tested one drug after another for the clinic. All of them, except one, passed muster for the general population.
Every doctor visit, I would get a print out of the numbers, by the book. I would then come home and transcribe them here. And I did that for years.
Then, all of a sudden, that practice stopped.
I’ve been on a good run, for a number of years, on the medication I am on. Borrowed Time still exists. But I don’t often think about that, unless someone talks about it or asks.
Quarterly doctor visits, dropped to twice yearly. I trust them with my life. And I’ve learned that if they aren’t worrying, then I don’t worry.
There are many things going on, all at the same time. A confluence of God, Prayer, Hope, Trust, Sobriety and Good Living and Love.
I also know, because of what I’ve learned so far, that I have learned how to make all this work, all at the same time, without even thinking about it, on a daily basis.
Every time I re-read a piece of literature, or have consecutive conversations, those first ideas and practices are there, I see how they have impacted my life, and how I live my life. I’ve taken all these lessons and incorporated them into daily practice.
And today I have a life, beyond my wildest imagination.
What is God’s will ? I don’t know.
What am I still doing here ? I don’t know.
But I trust the Godly wisdom in doing my best, helping others, Loving Hard, and Being Present to those I care about, on a daily basis.
I often wish that my grandmothers would come and talk to me, so that I would know it was them. But all I have is what my soul tells me. Those people who are part of my soul, speak from that place, to me.
I can’t explain it, suffice to say, I know where it is.
People you love are always with you. Inside of you.
A little piece of us, originated Out There, somewhere, and that little piece is inside of us, so we are intimately connected to All That Is. Where the souls of the dearly departed exist, and where we find God Himself.
Oh My God, it is Sticky, Wet and Humid tonight. Thank God we have an air conditioner. It was the best purchase we had made a few years ago. Temps have been topping out over the (30c) mark. Today we hit a record (32c) with a humidex of (36c). It was STICKY !
Rain clouds moved in mid day, and thundershowers followed. I carried an umbrella, because it was raining when I left the house, and stopped as we approached the metro. On the other end, we were early, and thunder was rolling across the sky. We had a twenty minute pour down rain event, and that was it.
The walk home was Damp, Sticky and Miserable.
I haven’t written anything since Sunday, not that I haven’t anything to write about. I just haven’t sat down and fleshed out my ideas, but there are a few.
My friend Shawn came to the meeting tonight, he was present for the shit show last Sunday night, and he brought with him the apologies of the group and reiterated that I had done nothing wrong, and that yes, that guy from out of town was an asshole.
Tonight, we sat a crowd. But when we split the group because of numbers, the balance of folks went in the back room to talk, leaving a handful of people up front. I am hearing that the addicts in the meeting are finding safety and the ability to be open an honest with what they say, in the back, instead of having to be dubious about what their addiction is. The alcoholic/addict divide is still alive and well it seems.
We talked about Imagination …
“After all, no man can build a house until he first visions a plan for it.”
I spoke a few words when we went around the room, but later realized that I had totally missed my mark with what I did say, versus what I forgot to say. So here we go:
Story time …
My Grammy’s back yard was full of gardens. The flower variety and the vegetable variety. And there was an empty lot next door, where cuttings, berry bushes, and flowers flourished for many years before it was developed later on.
When I was young, imagination and freedom was mine to have, as long as it did not intersect with my father. When it did, my imagination, was thwarted.
I was gifted in playing music. I played for many years, well into High School. I had an $80,000 dollar organ in our living room, that I played for years. I performed at recitals, and at school, and at District competitions during those years. One day my father threw my organ seat at my mother in a fit of drunken rage, I turned to him and said:
I will never play that organ again, get rid of it.
That night, my musical career was over. I never touched another keyboard to this day. I pissed that gift away because of a drunk.
My bedroom was the only room I had to myself. I had a stereo and records to play. I used to draw and sketch for a long time. I had a passion for “The Love Boat” and anything having to do with cruise ships. I had photos plastered all over the walls of my room. And I would sit and draw them intricately in a sketch pad, partial scale.
My father was well and good with disrupting anything I was doing, and at one point was so erratic that he took the door off the hinges, so I could not lock him out when he went into drunken rages and came after me. I had, at one point, put a deadbolt on my door, and that only infuriated him more, that I would put a lock on a door “IN HIS HOUSE!”
When I moved away from home, I had big dreams, high expectations, and an ass of death. In my younger days, I commanded the attention of many. But fueled by drugs and alcohol. That did not go so well at all for me. Young gay men living in Orlando were a dime a dozen.
The night I walked into the Parliament House, and its Footlight Theatre, I was transfixed and totally enamored with the resident drag queens. I spent inordinate amounts of time in that theatre over the ensuing years. I met men, who took me in and loved me, and taught me many things about “Imagination.”
The art of female impersonation was BIG BUSINESS.
Everyone in that crowd was drawn into the lives of these men, performing and competing for crowns and titles over the years. Drag was something that followed me all the way into my sobriety the first time, because I had a job at a local club, where one particular drag queen was resident hostess, the Late Dana Manchester.
I have to say that I thought English drag queen were fierce, but they could not hold a candle to the Latin Drag Queen. Especially the young Latin drag queens. They would back stab each other, steal dresses, and even destroy them, to foil a competition.
Back to Orlando.
I fell in love with those men over the years. Dana, Rusty, Carmella, and many others. To this day, a handful of the oldsters, are still alive, and celebrated the forty year anniversary of the Parliament House, a few years ago. I found them all on You Tube. It was like reliving my youth all over again, at almost fifty.
Alcohol and drugs, in the end, killed any imagination I had, once again. And It would not return until I started working for Todd. It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. I never lived, until I worshiped men in Leather, dressed to kill. There are plenty of stories over —> in the pages section of the blog, you can go read, if you are so inclined.
Coming into the rooms the second time, the only imagination I had prior to that were the hazy dreams and expectations I had of the elixir of Alcohol, and what I imagined it was going to do for me in the end. Sadly, that warped imagination was sick.
When I moved here, I was sober a few months. And I started with very little to work with. But as I stayed sober and went to meetings,and listened to what was said, what was written, and what was shared, I began to hope for those PROMISES.
At a year sober, my therapist asked me what I wanted to do with my life, now that I had hit my year. I had to think a bit. Many years prior, I spent a year in a Catholic Seminary, only to end up being asked to leave. I loved it there. And I thought that if I could not get into the priesthood “through” the church, I would find my way there, from “Outside” the church.
I settled on going back to school, at age 35. And that is exactly what I did. I rode that train for ten years. Got a B.A. in Religion, and a Certificate in Theology, and then headed for the M.A. in Theology, only to break the 2 “C” rule and left education behind.
I never imagined the life I have today. I just did not have many high hopes because of my medical condition, never knowing how long I was going to live.
Funny, I am still alive.
And so much has happened in almost fifteen years of sobriety.
I’ve read inordinate numbers of books, taken a decades worth of university classes. Not to mention the hundreds of books I read when I got sick back in the nineties. Books are a world in themselves, and I devote hours each night to book reading, every night. Life without books is not a life at all.
If you had told me fifteen years ago, what this life would have looked like then, I would have laughed at you. I believe that it has been by the Grace of God, that I have the life I have, with the man I married and love.
I have the best friends anyone could ask for. I live a charmed life, doing what I do best. I help my friends, in any way I can, every day of my life. I have a home, and love. I have food in my fridge, and money in the bank, and I am ALIVE.
Is it ODD or is it GOD???
Todd saved my life. And God maintains my life.
I live simply and humbly. At least I try to.
There are a few things still on that bucket list of mine. And I am sure, in time, I will eventually knock them off of it.
All is takes is a little Imagination and a lot of Hope.