“… Some years have passed, and as I look back from the clarity of this moment, I know that the way here for me could not have been by an easier path. I would not willingly have stopped the course my life was on. I needed harsh reality to see the damage that alcohol abuse causes, in so many ways. I needed to be forced into acceptance and humility.”
Some alcoholics and addicts chase our diseases to the gates of insanity, institutions and even death … Some end up locked up, or covered up. Then there are those of us, who’s ships were righted, in the middle of the storm, and got to a safe port, and the opportunity to change our lives for the better.
In this story, our writer tonight, is a woman. Who went from childhood, directly into alcoholism. She passed GO and did not collect her $200.00. And before she GOT IT, she really had GOTTEN IT.
Cirrhosis of the liver, that is …
If you don’t think the girls won’t or don’t party like the boys, some girls are just another kind of party animal, and they go all “Lampshade, Bat Shit Crazy” before their cards come up. Our woman tonight, got to the bitter end, medically, before she wizened up.
Then she gets sober and has the audacity to say this, remember, now how hard a party girl our little lady was … She writes:
“By the time my name was placed on the transplant waiting list, I had become very sick. My liver had progressively continued to shut down, and the official wait had really begun. I had no way of knowing how long it would be before a suitable organ would become available or how long it would be before I rose to the top of the list.
At times I felt resentful of the selection process, the tests, the close supervision of my A.A. program, and the seemingly endless wait. Unquestionably it was only because of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous that I was able to let go of that resentment.”
She’s the one who sunk herself into this pit of sickness and almost death, and at one point SHE gets resentful at the lengths her transplant team was going to to make sure she was sober and taking care of herself.
What transplant team is going to give a healthy organ to someone who is just fucking off, and is really not the human being who really deserves another kick at the can ?
A good few of us needed a swift kick in the ass, before we got sober.
My sponsor paid his price. He was an inter-venous drug use, and got AIDS and Hep C, and all the baggage that came with it, much earlier in the timeline than I did. He got sick in the 1980’s. Before there really was BEFORE in my own story.
I paid the price as well. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction took me to death’s doorstep and I was diagnosed with AIDS as well, I got it in 1994. Still, there were no doctors or drugs for me, and they would not come for a number of years, in my personal timeline.
Thank God for Todd… Really ! I should just thank GOD.
I was in A.A. the first time, for a long time. But like I have said before, I had bigger fish to fry than just staying sober. I mean, I did stay sober, as long as the messaging was telling me to stick around until the miracle happened.
The miracle did happen. I LIVED…
When I moved town from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami, the messaging went from Stick Around to Go Away. And that devious, slick, steady and patient little voice begins talking to us, and when that happened to me, ALL bets were off.
I wasn’t listening any longer. I needed to fill the Hole in my Soul. That alcohol and drugs would be connected to that seeking, never entered my brain. And when I got to the other side, there was no escape route, no way out.
I was FUCKED, ten ways from Sunday.
Had the cops not come for me, I probably would have died out there, and nobody would have been the wiser, because nobody knew where I was, save one human being, who did indeed called the cops for me.
I put my life in serious danger. I took my tenuous health for granted and fucked myself over for sex. I did not get the sex, what I got was drug and alcohol addiction, ten times over, what I had left behind the first time.
All because Alcoholics looked at me and said the words ….
GO AWAY and DON’T COME BACK.
Never Ever tell someone coming in, to go away.
Never ever speak that way to another human being, ever.
You never know the challenge that that human being is facing.
Tonight, some folks, in the room, on their second pass, asked this question, What did I NOT have the first time, that I DO have this time ?
The answer was simple. They have US. They have LOVE. They have FELLOWSHIP. They have SPONSORS, they have FRIENDS, and they have THE BOOK and MEETINGS.
And simply, They are NOT ALONE any more.
And we never have to drink again.
For many, in our intrepid group of sober men and women, the problem is NOT the obsession to drink, but the MENTAL aspect of sobriety that is shaking the trees.
The Three Pronged Approach :
- The Physical
- The Spiritual and
- The Mental
Many of my friends deal with this mental aspect of alcohol addiction on a daily basis. That little voice in the back of our heads, that is just waiting for us to slip up and think something stupid.
That’s why we keep coming back, to make sure all three areas of our lives are covered.
For the REST of our LIVES.
One Day at a Time.
Thank the baby Jesus that I am still alive and SOBER.
And thank the Baby Jesus my friends are all still alive and SOBER TOO…
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 …
I was talking to an elder friend at the meeting tonight and he was in Florida for a month. He had gone to a meeting, and met a very nice woman from India. They were talking about that meeting, on that night.
Every meeting has one, we all know what it is, but nobody who really engages in their sobriety, will utilize them. Where you sit, in a room, is a good barometer of where you are in your sobriety. Some call it, “Front Row Sobriety,” however, not a lot of people sit in the front row, except for those who are used to sitting there regularly.
Many of us don’t want to sit in the very front row …
I am a second row sober man. I always sit in my same seat on Thursday’s. On Friday I sit in my regular seat, right at the front of the table, next to the chair. That is my seat.
Every meeting has a “Back Row” of seats, right along the back wall. Various people, in various meetings, sit in that proverbial back row. Some sober folks with lots of time, who don’t necessarily want to draw attention to themselves, sit in the back row.
That is common.
Then, you have those people who are the last ones in, they either come right at the hour, or just after. So all the seats up front are all taken, by the time the meeting starts. Which dictates that, if you want a front row, or front of the room seat, you have to get there early.
The back rows of a meeting, are usually sat with folks who sneak in, just under the hour mark, and fail to get a seat up front, or further to the front.
The conversation my friend had with the Woman from India, concerned The Shoe Store:
And she said to him, “You know that back row of seats ? Yeah, he said, she continued:
That back row is the Shoe Store … You have the Loafers, the Sneakers, and the Slippers.
All the shoes are represented …
We had a good laugh.
Here, we know about that back row. Those people who come in last, or late. Usually, they don’t make it till the end of the meeting. Or, they are the last ones in and the first ones out after the prayer concludes. They come and go, with negligible contact with anyone, because they really don’t want to interact with anyone in the room, for one reason or another.
Seating in a meeting is time sensitive. The earlier you get there, the better seat you are going to be able to choose, if you choose. Most of my friends always sit in the same areas.
Those who sit in the front row, or those who sit in the middle of the action, and those who tend to hang back in the pack. In an unobtrusive seat, like I said, where they do not bring attention to themselves.
In all my meetings, I do service, one way or another. So I have my choice of seat. I see everybody who comes in the room. I try and shake hands with each one of them, as one of my other elder friends said to me once …
When you shake a hand, it is very important to ALWAYS make eye contact. And you always want to SMILE. Because we want people to feel welcomed and that we mean goodness when we shake their hands, and not seem like we are put out by having to greet, when we really don’t want to greet …
Before the meeting tonight, one of my friends, whom I have not seen in a while came. And we sat outside talking about Yoga, the Gym and Work.
I know for me, as I said to her, that, “You just got to stick around…” “You just have to STAY and watch your friends and your fellows.” I know that I watch my friends, and over the past many months, I see how hard I have worked, and how little others have worked. And it shows in their carriage and demeanor, and in their words, when they speak.
The amount of work you put into your sobriety, shows up over time. And every time you hear someone talk, you get an idea of just how MUCH or how LITTLE, they are contributing to their own sobriety.
I’ve been around a good stretch of time. And I know all of my friends. I know who they were when they came in, and what kinds of decisions they made, and how fucked up things got, in the interim.
My friend added … Yeah, Shit Happens. And that is true.
I, at least, have an idea of the trajectory I am on, and where I want to go. I feel good. I look good, because for a long time, I did not look good at all. I was just hanging out, waiting for something to happen. I really wasn’t concerned with my well being, all that well. Not Good at all.
I was sober, but I was physically, COASTING …
Back in February, I got a kick in the ass at the doctors office. For the first time, in a long time, I really noticed that my body had changed for the better. I had settled for my pear shaped, bloated belly, ass hanging out HIV look.
For a good decade, I was resigned to the shape my body had taken. I had said to myself,
“Well, fuck it. This is the body God gave me so I better get used to it.”
In February, through diet, exercise and medical treatment, My body did actually shift in the positive direction. And I noticed it. Which sent me into overdrive, mentally and emotionally. I changed my wardrobe. I got sexy. And damn, I looked good.
And my friends all noticed. That has changed my outlook in ways I had not really considered.
Here we are today.
Fifty is beginning to feel good to me. And thankfully,
I am not sitting in the Shoe Store.
I spent the night wondering, thinking, praying … All those things we are supposed to do all the time, but for the most part, are not done all the time, and not until it is vitally necessary, to do them all the time.
I had a conversation in my head with Spencer, thinking about what he might say to me after writing what I did last night, seeing most of that post’s information came from him directly.
I spent the day with a lady friend, and I unloaded on her until I was spent.
The word that came to me, last night, we call it a “prompt” was this …
This is my journey and my experience. And there might not be anyone to give clear directions, as to where I should go or what I should do, since the sober factor among our peers is dreadfully poor.
I know what people around me are doing because it is plain, by their actions, that they have made their moves, as in, away from me.
Really, over the past few months, there really has not been a concerted effort by anyone long sober, speaking to this effect.
But like I heard last night, I need to stick to familiar meetings, with familiar people, and walk through the dark, the best way I know how, with my head held high and doing the right thing, as in, talking when talking is needed, listening when listening is needed, and being the man I am, and on the whole, keeping my mouth shut when it comes to other people in tight places.
Coming from the life I have come from, I know what it feels and looks like when people fuck off on you.
That rubs me like spiritual sandpaper.
There aren’t a whole lot of people, “in the game.” Because it seems like, most of my friends are just doing their own thing, showing up at certain meetings, and trying to figure out, on the fly, what we need to be doing, by ourselves, together.
We just have not connected outside the rooms, specifically.
Things of note:
- Not everyone is going to like me
- Not everyone is going to agree with me
- Not everyone is at the same point in sobriety, so reactions will differ
- How people react, is solely based on their abilities to cope with stimuli
- I am Powerless over people, places and things
- Yes, I may spend hours bitching and moaning, but life is a process
- Experience, Reaction, Bitching, Moaning, Discussion, Resolution
The take away … I don’t fuck off on my friends. Period ! I don’t take kindly to be treated as less than, or invisible, or that people don’t respect my humanity. I don’t like what I am seeing and/or hearing from people I have known for years and years. it is like all the words I have spoken in all that time, went in one ear and out the other, and nothing I tried to do with my community made a hill of beans difference in the way my peers treat each other and myself.
I think I knew all of this information all along. But with all the noise coming in, listening to God or my intuition, went by the wayside.
I need to talk to Spencer soon. He will know what needs to be said right now.
So that is a thing …
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.”