A long time ago, in a galaxy, far far away, I went back to school at age 34. Growing up, my parents told me that they would never pay for my college education. However, when I graduated high school, Junior Achievement gave me a scholarship to the local community college in Miami where I grew up.
There was a trade-off for the gesture though. One that I did not pay back accordingly. Telemarketing is an evil business, and one I highly recommend you avoid at all costs.
But I digress …
That first year was not all of a washout. I did pretty well. Took a psychology course that rocked my socks off, taught by a female professor who rocked my world.
I could never get the hang of writing term papers. All those steps, and papers, and note cards, and bibliographies … ugh !!!
Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go …
After that, in my second year of studies, I landed in a Catholic Seminary. The church paid for that, even though I was asked to leave after only a year, because I was not part of the men abusing boys club. That was a dirty little secret.
After that, alcoholism took its toll on me. That ride into hell began swiftly, and ended in a grand crash and burn at age 26.
Today, I walk on hallowed ground, that has not been trodden by men, such as myself, at the age we are in, living with a fatal disease, “now manageable” that was supposed to kill us ages ago.
But like a fine wine, we will not be uncorked until the right time.
From my parents, I learned a great many things. Early on, I learned how to be responsible for a house, by gaining the key to the front door, at an age, in today’s world, kids that young need constant supervision. Back then, we were free range kids.
It was such a simple time, the 1970’s and 1980’s.
We did not fear the world, and the people in it, like we do today. Freedom was something we did not take for granted, but appreciated. Neighbors, were neighbors. Kids in our neighborhood would travel in packs from one house to another, day in and day out.
We were not saddled with smart phones, or a PHONE for that matter. We were not attached by umbilical to a computer day in and day out, like we are today.
Taking care of a house, and being responsible for my brother, was a big deal, however my brother never paid me any attention. And memories of him are negligible. He does not seem to want to know me today, because he lives in his resentments like both my parents do. My father went to his grave resenting me, and my mother would rather eat dirt than acknowledge me in any way, shape or form.
I learned how to work, well, early on. I had some of the best jobs in my life, throughout my life, in certain stages. My first job was in a grocery store, bagging groceries, and cleaning and stocking. I scooped ice cream for a season. Another great job, was a short order cook in a chicken shack, (2 actually).
Skip ahead a few years, and many alcoholic drinks later, and I land the most important job I will ever have in my life. Working for Todd, (read: God). Hands down, the best of times and the worst of times, were spent cleaning garbage, plunging shitty toilets, filling ice buckets and stocking beer, bar tending, and the best job, Working in a DJ Booth.
I learned practical life lessons, that I still draw on to this very day, from Todd (read:God). What I failed to learn from the Big Book, that first round, was that I needed practical life knowledge that would help me survive. Sobriety was important. If I had died prematurely, what would have been the need to learn anything. I could have just decided to kill myself slowly with drugs and alcohol, like all my other friends did.
Todd (read:God) had other ideas for me.
When I started this blog 14 years ago, its main goal was to catalogue all of my memories, while I could still access them, before they were forgotten. What I have learned about life is PAGED –> over there.
When Todd, departed my life, and his solid voice of counsel was gone, his steady hand, and voice, and physical presence in my life, was gone, I thought I was going to die. I had no idea how to make it alone in the world, at age 29, circa 1996.
I did fail miserably.
Years later, in 2001, I got back on the horse and began riding for my life. It took me a while to begin to work my way out of my hole of insanity. Opportunities opened to me and I took each one of them as they came.
Providence was in my favor. I set myself right with God, and He moved heaven and earth for me, that I am solidly sure of today.
God is the fine thread that is woven throughout my life. The year I spent in seminary, I devoted my life to God, and I promised to serve Him and Him alone, for the rest of my life. Interestingly enough, it took me a long time to figure out HOW I was going to do that, after being dismissed from the church proper.
Troy took me to my Second, First meeting. I stayed for a second Second meeting an hour later, and met the folks who would carry me back into life, as it happened. Some of those initial friends, are still friends to me today. Albeit, from farther away.
A year into Sobriety, my rehab counselor Margo, asked me what I wanted to do with my life, now that I had achieved a year sober. I had to think about it, at first. The answer I came up with was I want to go back to school.
What did I know then ? I had my lessons. I had some solid, terrifying life experience to bank on. I had survived, 9 years, I was still alive… 2003 was a good year.
On February 13th 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. In September of that same year, I began my university career. At age 34. A long time ago, I promised God that I would serve Him and Him alone. Religion and Theology was given.
However, I began my university career in Psychology. That was short-lived.
From the very start, when I began to write about myself, there were many detractors, who used to batter me with vile shit. Saying things like, “A gay cannot be a Christian, and why would a gay study religion and theology, when gay is incongruous with scripture?”
Some say they know God.
Some say they know their Bibles.
Some say that they speak for one, and believe in the other.
Then there are those who know neither.
What I did not know then, I know now. I may not have known, all that I needed to know, and I used to get in the mosh pit with the vipers at first, (Not very sober, mind you) until I stopped being taken for cheap.
I boded my time, and I studied hard and well. And over a ten-year period, I finally collected two very important pieces of parchment.
University bachelors Degrees in Religious Studies, and a Certificate in Pastoral Ministry.
All the while, getting sober at the same time, and caring for my husband, because he is mentally challenged, and was very ill for a very long time.
For years, I was chief cook and bottle washer.
I know a great many things about a number of topics. I may not know everything there is to know about certain subjects, I have my truths.
I know how hard mental illness is on the human who is ill. And I know what mental illness does to significant others, and families by extension. I learned this all the hard way, one day at a time. 15 years later, we both survived it.
In sobriety, I thought to continue into the Masters of Theology.
What I did not know, was a harsh lesson.
All the men and women I studied with over the last ten years, followed that track into the Masters Program. However, I was an outside, one, because of my age, two, I was getting sober, three, I was married, and four, it wasn’t all about ME.
On the very first day of Master’s Classes, I walked into that first classroom, with my fellows, and it was obvious to me, something was WAY OFF.
My friends had outgrown their pants. Their heads we double their original size. They had coupled and tripled up together, congratulating themselves on conquering the world and holding it by the balls.
It was obvious that I did not get the memo that went around telling me that over that last summer I should have stoked my EGO and carried it into class.
I did my best. But I knew very soon, that I could not produce Masters Quality work, in the academic sense, to the degree I needed to produce. I got to a point, in my studies that I could not compete, nor was academically astute to continue any further.
And as fast as the Theology department had swung the door open for me, they swung it shut so fast, it took my breath away. They did not even blink an eye.
I went from hero to zero in minutes flat.
I still write, as often as the mood hits me. I, like some of my friends, I have made over the years, have a career. It may not pay the big bucks, but it suffices.
How do you parlay degrees in Religion and Theology, into a career in Sobriety ?
One day at a Time.
The Preachers Circle I belong to, still exists. My mentors Elder Christensen and Pastor Randall, and Father Donald are true and solid men in my life.
I read like a mad man. When I got sober this time around, part of my daily routine, at the end of the day, is a little prayer and meditation. Then I crawl into bed with a good book.
To my credit, I have at least a couple hundred books on shelves in my bedroom, in my library. They come from Indigo, and begin life on my bedside table. When I finish each book, they go on the “READ PILE.”
Knowledge … I may not know everything there is to know about MANY things. Gladly, I can say, that I know a few things, about my area of expertise. I read, to learn about subjects that interest me.
I know better than to state categorically, that I have certain knowledge. because that would invite pitchforks and fire.
I was talking to a friend the other night. He had just returned to Canada from a world-wide trip over seven months. Going from Canada, to India, to Nepal and then ending in Israel.
Israel and Palestine is a topic fraught with complications. To pick a side, is dicey. To say you agree with one and not the other, you take your life into your own hands. I don’t know everything about that area of the world, but I do have an opinion, based on solid reading, written by solid trusted sources, ON THE GROUND.
My degrees in Religion and Theology come in handy when broaching the subject of lands steeped in Religion and Faith.
A long time ago, when people would say vile things to me about what I was studying or denigrating my abilities of what I know, I caved under that kind of scrutiny.
I cave No Longer.
When I turned 40 … That little door in my brain opened. And little by slowly, I realized that “I knew things for Sure.” I had forty years of hard-earned and fought experience behind me, that I have a story nobody can take from me. And experience that would curl your toes if I discussed the nitty-gritty of the scourge of AIDS, and what I experienced on the ground, as I lived it.
My forty decade was a watershed for me. It changed the way I see the world around me.
I survived 25 years. And I have that story in my arsenal of knowledge.
Now in my fifty decade, I am still waiting to see what is going to come next, because I am in uncharted territory, medically, spiritually and physically. This is the task a hand, to make the most of every day, every moment.
Life is all about what you know, how you learned it, and how you apply all the knowledge you have inside you, to better the world around you and the people you call your friends, and the family you have.
My biological family wants nothing to do with me, even though I have worked terribly hard at reconciliation over the years, to no avail. My father went to his grave hating me, never giving me that chance to amend that relationship, and my mother is on that same hateful and spiteful road herself. My brother is also on that hateful road too.
Fuck me for trying.
I heard last night that mining the past for the missing key to life, is pointless, because the answers are NOT in the PAST, but reside in the present.
However, I have spent the past fifty odd year data mining the past, divining all the secrets and lessons I could remember and write down, hoping to find the key to who I am and why I am here, and what it all means.
Some of my friends find this kind of task too daunting. This was the choice I made in my sobriety, to learn the stories that needed to be learned, to mine the past for nuggets of truth, and synthesizing all that information and incorporating all that knowledge into the bank for my own personal use.
I’ve spent a lifetime, bettering my life. Life is hard work and not for the faint of heart.
Once you get told that Jeremy you are very sick and you are going to die a miserable death, so go home and kiss your ass goodbye … I did that for a short while, and tried to kill myself in the drink.
THANK GOD that TODD (read: GOD) stepped in.
Because I live to tell that story as often as I have to, to make sure you know that there is life to be lived, as long as you believe you are worthy of all good things.
There IS a GOD and I am not HE.
Knowledge is Power. Use it wisely.