Misfortunes of Others

At the end of the day, it is character that either makes you a good person or a bad person. At the end of the day, when you speak of others, it is what you say about those people, that tells us just what kind of person you really are.

The Anonymity Statement says:

Who you see here,
What you hear here,
when you leave here,
let it stay here.

We keep to this statement, when discussing certain topics. I amended my writing method to reflect BRAVING, as stated by Brene Brown.

Over the holidays, we hit more meetings than usual, to keep up with our kids, to make sure they stayed sober, over the holidays. We kept rooms open on the holidays and we were on top of our community as whole. In the end, everybody succeeded. And we were all glad for that.

On Christmas Night, we hit a meeting we don’t usually hit, but it was Christmas, and friends who came to dinner, here at my home, wanted to hit that particular meeting, because it is close to my home.

The room was full. And a number of my friends, were in attendance.

As the share, on the topic, went around the room, one particular man, who struggles himself, chimed in on the discussion. I’ve been around a while, and I know how many passes, many of my friends have made, at trying to get sober. Some make it, many do not.

One thing about recovery … we don’t revel in the suffering of another human being. So when the comment came out of his mouth, everyone took notice of what he said, and I quote:

I really love to watch people go back out and drink. I “get off” on seeing someone fail at getting sober. It makes me feel superior to them.

This very same man, is a member at our Thursday meeting, and had been our Twelve Step Rep. The job, representing our group as a whole, to welcome the newcomer, or those coming back from a slip.

He was the one person we put in the job to be welcoming, to be respectful, to represent the fellowship with respect, character and humility.

Tonight, at the business meeting, we set out to vote on setting new people into term jobs for the group. The Twelve Step Rep, was one of those jobs.

Our man, spoke up, and nominated himself, again, for the job.

There were several of us sitting around that table, tonight, who heard this man speak those words at the Christmas meeting.

This has been a bone of contention between us for weeks now. Because nobody disagreed that the words spoken were disagreeable. And in his defense, we should not have brought up something he said, in Another Meeting, and bring up his words at anther meeting.

The Anonymity Rule applies.

One of my friends brought up the comment. And myself and another, who had been sitting in said meeting, knew of the issue, because we were there.

He argued the anonymity statement, and was offended that we would bring up a comment he spoke, against him.

We disagreed with him.

It all comes back to character.

All of my friends, at differing lengths of sobriety, said that they really did not think that someone who “gets off” on someone else’s misfortunes, should retain the job, of welcoming someone who had an unfortunate slip or someone coming to their first meeting.

It is hard enough walking into the room, the first time. We all know this. Everybody knows this. My friend said tonight, that he would rather see someone who had a little more humility and a little less judgment of those who suffer, giving out the chip.

Needless to say, the meeting did not end well. And the Twelve Step job is still vacant. The chair of the business meeting decided to stay the vote and table it till next month, so we could calm down and rethink our positions on said issue.

Nobody has the right to judge anyone else, we are all in the same boat. Some longer sober than others.

I have my time in the rooms, and I’ve heard many things said, in the anonymity and safety of any room I go to.

I’ve never heard another member say that they “get off” on people’s misfortunes. You might think that, but I’ve never heard the sentiment spoken in open community.

Comments like this leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Let’s say I drank again, and walked into a room, and hit my next, First meeting. And I had to do the walk, up to the table, and take a chip again.

Now, what if I knew, that the human handing me that chip, “got off” on my misfortune ? What would that say about the health of the fellowship, or the group as an entity of sobriety ?

I know better than to talk about my friends here. Because the last time I did that, the flame and vitriol that was directed at me, by sober people was terrible.

We might think many things to ourselves. That all changes, when we make terrible judgment calls about our friends, especially if they are suffering. In open community.

What people hear in meetings, stays with them, when they walk out the door, and sometimes words we hear, affect us, and affects those people if they have a roll to play in a meeting. You might be anonymous in a meeting, but if you say something that is repulsive, everyone who heard you say whatever it was you said, will remember those words.

This is a lesson in sobriety for sure. We can all learn from this situation, and how we should deal with this kind of issue. Sobriety is about getting better and becoming better men and women.

Sobriety is not about getting off on someone else’s misfortunes.

It all comes back to the questions of character and sobriety.

Mental Health is Not Just A Hashtag ###

Yesterday was Bell’s Let’s Talk Day, where they donated 5 cents for mass communications on their platform to Mental Health Services.

Mental Health is not just a one day event. You cannot cure Mental Health with a hashtag, nor can you pay it away either. Mental Health is an everyday part of life for many people, including myself and my husband.

Many years ago, when I first met my husband, he was a happy go lucky, smart and funny young man. We had a few months of bliss, before the gauntlet fell down, and our lives were turned upside down.

He was employed at the time but that was to end abruptly. He suffered a major breakdown and ended up falling apart. We got him the help he needed, maybe because we were lucky then, or maybe the right person was in the right place, at the right time.

Hubby was diagnosed as Bi-Polar Two Rapid Cycling. Now we knew what the problem was, we had to then figure out what we were going to do about it. Treatment was in the offing.

What I did not know on the outset of that treatment was this; the man who went in, was not the man who came out the other end.

For ten months, hubby lay comatose on the sofa. I was a full time student in university, I was hitting meetings, doing all the shopping, cooking, laundry, cleaning, bathing, dressing, and feeding my husband.

He could not do anything but lay on the sofa, till the day the doctors found the right pill to give him, to get him to rise from his stupor.

And let me tell you, I screamed from the rooftops that night when he rose from the dead !!!

Mental illness is a daily struggle. And some days are better than others. I’ve learned many things about mental illness, because we live with it. We cannot just turn the tap off when we would like, or have happy days on end. That just does not happen.

Bi-Polar is an illness that takes a second set of eyes. And I believe this with all my heart:


Thankfully hubby had that second set of eyes on him, and still does to this very day. Observation is the name of the game. Because when things get dicey, you can see it from the outside looking in. And you can tweak medication or get help, if an issue arises that needs to be addressed.

Like I said, above, the man who went into treatment was not the same man who came out the other end. When he finally got up and we assessed what was left, I found that a good portion of who hubby was, was gone. And I asked the doctors where he was, and they told me,

“Well, this is what you get, deal with it.”

I was angry for a long time. Because aspects of our relationship have been missing or gone for many years. The life I had, and thought I wanted, was not the life I ended up with. And sometimes I get really resentful at that, but it is what it is and I had to accept the outcome.

When hubby got sick, I was not going to leave him, nor toss him to the curb. I stayed with him, loved him hard, took care of him and got him the help he needed, so badly.

Yes, he is not the man I met all those years ago, but he has carved his own life out of the wreckage of mental illness that took him apart. He is a two degree university graduate with a Masters Degree in Sociology. He has a career and a life that is beyond measure now.

We built a home, and a life together.

We got married in 2004, basically as a celebration of hubby rising from the dead. He got up in the month of September 2004, and we were married in November of that year, in front of family and friends.

Many people with mental illness suffer alone, many people do not get the advantage of having a second set of eyes on them to make sure they are alright. That is a gift of relationships and friendships that we can be that second set of eyes on our fellow men and women.

I see mental illness every day in our rooms. I attend meetings at the Old Brewery Mission on Sundays, and see countless homeless men and women who suffer alone because they do not have access to the kind of help we, here at home, get.

Mental illness s a scourge on the landscape.

Kids suffer too. In school, in life and with their friends, and also on social media. Bullying is another scourge on our kids. The stigma of mental illness is a problem because if you say something, kids are more likely to begin the cavalcade of stupidity and reckless abuse of their friends, so kids suffer and many of them do not make it and end up killing themselves because of the stress of suffering and the fact that they said something and kids and others turned on them and forced them into a No Win Scenario…

We must stop this kind of social abuse.

We must help our kids.

We must change the way we deal with mental illness.

And we need MORE professionals who can help those in need. We need money to pay for those services, and for the many medications people so badly need and for the most part, cannot afford because drugs are so damned expensive.

And Firstly, getting a simple appointment for mental health screenings are so hard to get. I mean people wait for days, weeks, and months just for an appointment. There aren’t enough mental health professionals out there.

And not every mental health practitioner is the right fit for everyone. Finding the right doctor is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

We’ve dealt with major pill pushers in our day. For Real !!!

It is far too easy to push pills and abuse a patient. That happened to us and we had to find other means of treatment.

One must be picky about who treats them. Because not all doctors are created equal and not every doctor is an upstanding physician in their chosen field, and that is a FACT.

But, beggars cannot be choosers in this world, I know that. So this is my advice


Call your friends, call your kids. Ask them if they are ok.

There is NO SHAME in saying that “NO, I AM NOT OKAY!”

That’s the first thing we must teach our kids. It is OK to say, that things are not ok.


Too many people suffer in silence because they cannot talk openly or feel safe in saying that, IT IS NOT OKAY!

We must teach our kids that it is ok to talk, AND WE NEED TO SIT DOWN AND FUCKING LISTEN TO THEM.

Put down you god damned phones and take time to check on your kids, and your friends and your family members. We ignore people to our own peril, because if we don’t check up on them and they get worse,


Been there, Done that, Got the T-shirt to prove it too.

Mental illness is not just a hashtag.

Pay attention. Listen and help.

We are humans who need to be cared for and loved.

Life is wasted, if we cannot do those things for others, AND for ourselves.

If you suffer and you need to talk


Because I am Responsible.

A Story:

An elderly man walked into an emergency room, needing stitches removed from his hand. He was jittery and fumbling with his watch. A nurse was watching him fidget, and after a while, spoke to him and asked him what he needed. And the old man told him he needed stitches out.

They set down for the job. The old man was still fidgety, like he needed to be somewhere else at that very moment. The nurse picked up on that and asked him if he needed to be somewhere and the elderly man replied, Yes, I do.

The conversation continued, and the elderly man said that he needed to go have breakfast with his wife. That he had breakfast with his wife every day.

The nurse was surprised. And the man went on…

You see, my wife has Alzheimers and she does not know who I am.

The nurse was perplexed. And asked why, if his wife did not know who the man was, why was he still having breakfast with her every day?


That story changed my life, which was why I stayed with my husband, because he might not be the man I got in the end, but I remember who he was and I know who he is today …

Conversations With My Younger Self

I think about life, all the time. For the last seventeen years or so, I’ve worked to divine the secrets of the past, the truths of my experiences, and how life turned out the way it did, in opposition to the life I thought I really wanted.

Back when I was a kid, just a kid, I realized my father harbored a dark secret. I found his secret, because he left it out in the open for anyone to see and recognize, if you just looked around. It was sitting in plain sight.

From that material, sitting in plain sight, I was introduced to all things gay, from a particular point of view. And from that education, the fantasy in my head was born. Over many years, I read every book and magazine that was laid out in the bathroom for my entire young life.

I knew what gay was, before I KNEW what GAY was. My father was so homophobic and abusive, that I had to play the straight game for as long as it was tenable. But I knew what side my bread was buttered on.

I had one particular conversation with a psychiatrist, a family friend, about coming out. And this is what he told me …

“Go to the bar. Walk inside. Sit down, have a drink, hell, have two. Wait For Fireworks… “

Alcoholism was already present in my life. My parents, both, were alcoholics. And alcoholism was present in my grandparents as well. So I was primed for the alcohol. In hindsight, you should never tell an alcoholic to go to the bar and drink, for starters. He told me that drinking in a gay bar, would make me One Of Them; to be accepted into the gay community, was through the vehicle of the BAR.

For a while, fireworks did happen. I was cute, had an ass. And was popular among my peers. Sex was not a problem.

Alcoholism was a problem.

In my younger life, I was responsible, smart. I knew right from wrong, and I was a pretty straight laced young man, when it came down to it. When I started drinking heavily, that all went out the window.

From twenty one to twenty six, I was hell on wheels. Until the wheels fell of the truck. Then I got very sick, and life came to a sudden STOP.

I had already met Todd. And was employed in his bar. The safest place for me to be, at that time. Because he knew my dark side, inside and out. He knew that I would probably get into trouble that I was really not prepared to deal with, or get involved with. So he put a halt to that from the very first conversation we had together.

The Dark Arts life, I had fantasized about, for so long, never happened. And over the years, I have seen, men and boys get involved with a lifestyle that, today, is untenable. Taboo lifestyles, back in the day were sheik. To be involved in a subversive community was the challenge.

To buck the norm.

I’ve watched countless boys and men, mark themselves with ownership tattoos, with names of other men, who supposedly, “own them.” That may last for a little while, but, in the end, those types of relationships turned out to be short lived and untenable. Because life changes, right?

We might want one particular life at that time, but over time, people change and life circumstances change, and the life we had been living comes to an abrupt end. And everybody looses.

I know that If I could have gone back and had this conversation with my younger self, I would say just this. And I think, as others, have said, “Would I have listened to an older me tell a younger me, to sort out my wants and needs carefully, before I went barking up those particular trees?”

Alcoholism does strange things to us. It beckons us down dark roads, and causes us to make rash decisions, based on self, that are 100% really bad choices.

The internet does the same thing. It beckons us into meeting strange people, in strange places, hoping to make a connection. But if the two parties are not 100% honest, in their motives, that is a disaster waiting to happen. And that is exactly what happened to me.

All those particular little pieces of the life puzzle I had fantasized about and were carry around in my satchel, were useless. I did not even get to try and put the puzzle together, because that is what happened to me.

I like to believe, that God had better plans for me, and when Todd stepped into my life, God became incarnate.

He saved my life.

Sobriety gives us so many gifts. And when we get sober, life takes on new meaning. So many different things have happened. And though I often get angry with the life that I have, because it isn’t the life I wanted. Particular aspects of life, I want today, do not exist for me. Because of extenuating circumstances beyond my control.

Mental illness does that to you. And to others you might be involved with.

Yesterday, I took a nap, after finding the right medication to help me feel better, because I’ve been sick for a few days, so I slept for a few hours. And within that nap, I had the most imaginative, romantic dream I’ve ever seen. Or experienced in my life.

It was an Incubus dream.

Holy shit, it was amazing. Absolutely.

For all these years, I lament particular aspects of the life I don’t have, because of the life I do have today. I am nostalgic about certain aspects of my past. And I’ve always said, that if I had to opportunity to go back into the past, I would revisit Todd and those two years we had together for sure.

But only, if everyone who was there, would be there again, Alive. Because all of them are long dead now.

Things I would tell myself:

  1. Alcohol is not the solution to any problem.
  2. Old paradigms won’t work
  3. Don’t try to fit in or blend
  4. Be your own person
  5. Dress your own way, don’t be part of the crowd, be unique
  6. Have hopes, but be grounded in them
  7. Live each day to the fullest, because they won’t come again
  8. Love hard. Forgive others, Don’t be Resentful
  9. Have good friends
  10. Foster your family if you have one

Over the last little while, I have had conversations with old friends about our lives as younger “US.” And I am nostalgic about those years, and the people and events that shaped our lives as they turned out. And I was surprised to learn some truths that were very hard to hear.

The life I experienced was tainted by greed, alcohol and personal problems that I was not aware of, because people put on their best selves in certain situation, to make themselves look good and sound good.

There are so many little things that I know about today. Once, my friend Nina said to me that, “it isn’t the BIG things that get us, but the LITTLE things that do get us. Like the broken shoelace.”

I have so many “little” observations that I know to be true today, that could be or would have been useful to my much younger self.

Firstly — I would have told my younger self that if you take that morning drink, or your find yourself in a bar, drinking at 7 a.m. in the morning, that in the end, you are going to be in the firing line of a Really big Gun.

I should never have been in that bar, that particular morning, because I did get hit by the bullet, I chambered myself.

I was the one who walked into that particular sexual encounter that ended that portion of my life, and forever more, killed my sex life for eternity.

I have all the necessities of life. A roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in, a fridge full of food, and money in the bank and a man who loves me. I should not hate the life I don’t have, because I have the life I have right now.

I live in the NOW, not in the THEN.

Life never turns out the way it should, but turns out the way it needs to be to teach us how to grow up into fine young men, with purpose, dreams, aspirations, and goals.

My life, just took the long route over gravel roads to get here.

And I should be more grateful.

Yes … Grateful for small mercies and GOD.


I love you Todd. Thank you for my life.

Get While the Getting is Good

My Elite Level Trainer in Philly …

Today was a busy day. And we started off early. I had two loads of laundry to wash and fold. Afterwards, I hit the grocery store for some food. Cleaned the apartment and vacillated over whether to go work out or not.

The afternoon was getting later by the hour, and at 3 o’clock I decided to bite the bullet and just GO! The gym had already started to crank, by the time I got there. The lift room was full, so I decided on flipping my work out.

I hit the treadmill for a 2.5 km run, on Intermittent Hill Program. Since I have assorted mix music on my phone, I can load up a playlist and run with it. Matching stride for stride, the beat of the music. Somewhere around the 120 to 135 BPM. (beats per minute)

Only a music listener who pays attention to this kind of detail would get that. You’d have to work in a DJ booth or do lights for a living. Or play music. I’ve done all of those things in my life.

Junior Vasquez was the playlist of choice today.

By the time 30 minutes had elapsed, people were lined up behind me waiting for a treadmill to open up. The rush was coming.

I did some floor stretching and my Arms Race Guys Crunch Sets, and some plain old crunches. Until I could not crunch any more.

I headed upstairs for some lift time. Again, the room was packed so I made some choices of what sets I was going to do, because most of the machines I wanted had lines already, two and three deep.

I was doing arms and shoulders again.

An abbreviated Lift day for sure. BOOOO !

I shut up shop and started for home. The entrance has the coat check, and shoe drop. You can’t wear street shoes in the gym, you have to change out and drop your coat on a hanger.

They give us free gym bags when we join the gym, how cool is that !

A drove of people were coming in for the five o’clock rush hour.

Thank God I was heading home.

Another observation day of just how late one can push it, to beat the throng of after work, work out folks.

3 p.m. is the cut off.

If you hit the three o’clock group, you will hit blocks in the system and not get a full work out in, here. I guess I should stick to my morning work out hours from now on.

The Calm After the Storm

After the flood, God sent a rainbow, saying, in essence, “Never Again.” Tonight, this was our view from the living room windows.

The blizzard of yesterday dumped 24 cm of snow. And tonight, it is MINUS
(- 30c) outside.

I took today off because it was bitterly cold outside so I stayed home tonight, and enjoyed some down time. Not that I like down time at home. But it is what it is.

I might have gotten a major workout in yesterday. My arms are killing me today. Some ask the question, how long do I train? The high rollers push through to group failure. I train in a very simple manner. I work an entire circuit in the weight room. Yesterday I pounded weights because I had them to myself. Then I stretch on the mats, then I run.

Yesterday, there was a young guy to my right, who was cranked up to full speed. He had his phone in one hand and waving the other, was really trying to get somewhere. I attempted to match his pace, but I failed in keeping up with him. Then a young woman got on the mill to my left and starting out gently, she cranked it up as well.

I was like, fucked in a way …

I ran for a little longer, and then gave it up. Tomorrow is another day, in the fight for a better body.

I keep in mind this simple thought:


Absolutely not.

My team of supporters all know what’s going on with me and I check in daily with them when I train. So I get pointers and training exercises.

More to come.

Holy Snow Storm Batman!!

This is Ste. Catherine’s Street, just outside the Forum, where I was at the gym this morning.


They warned us that the weather was going to go bad as Saturday night progressed. AND IT DID.

I went to bed early last night, because I had to be up for 8 a.m. this morning to chair the Old Brewery Mission meeting. I was up and ready to go and headed out. I was layered well, and had winter boots on.

There was snow all over the place. Snow had piled up so high that the outer door to the building was barricaded by a snow drift that was four feet high and about three feet deep. In front of the door, on the outside.

I pushed my way out the door, as piles of snow fell on the floor inside, when the door closed behind me. There was almost a foot of snow on the ground as I made my way to the tunnel and down to Georges Vanier Station on the Orange line.

The wind was blowing so hard and snow was piled up so deep, that it took me almost fifteen minutes to walk 1000 yards downhill. There was so much snow that the wind had blown snow all the way down into the tunnel on both the car side and on the pedestrian walkway.

I made it to the train and Juan was already on it, when we arrived at Place D’Armes. We trudged through feet of snow to the Mission. It was well attended. People braved the first major snow storm of the season to make a meeting. Juan spoke, and we gave out a two year chip.

After the meeting we trudged back to the Metro Station and got back on the train coming this way. We were both headed to our respective gyms to train for a bit.

I thought that the gym would be empty because of the storm. There were a handful of people. I got my lifting in and a couple of miles run on the tread mill. I was trying to keep up with one guy to my right and another woman to my left. we were all running “run” programs, but they were running a bit faster than I had been.

On the way home, I took a photo (above) of what it looks like outside at this hour. They have not plowed any of the sidewalks, and barely the roads either, because snow is still coming down.

I thought to walk home would be painless … I WAS WRONG!

Just four blocks through snow drifts more than a foot deep all the way home. I had to stop several times to get my footing because the wind was pelting me with snow, and my glasses were frozen on my face. They warned us of possible frostbite.

They say this will be the coldest storm in Montreal’s history.

All the Homeless Shelters are working over time to make sure nobody is left outside. They opened a new shelter in the old Royal Victoria Hospital, not far from here. They have 100 beds open. Which makes a small dent in shelter traffic. But no shelter is turning anyone away. Human nor animal.

People with pets are an issue here, and now shelters are taking the homeless with their pets, where before, you could not bring a dog into a shelter. Which is why many people stay on the street.

Holy Snow Storm Batman !!

Thursday – The Show Must Go On

The warnings of our first major snow storm went up this morning. Weather casters in Montreal, have been hit or miss, when it comes to prognostications about SNOW. Forecasting snow, is a fine art, and comes down to hour by hour monitoring of the snow pack as it moves into Southern Quebec. Montreal sits in a geographic location, on a major river, the St. Lawrence Seaway. Whether you sit to the south, or to the North of said river, will dictate just how much snow will fall on top of you.

So they are warning us of upwards of 30+ cm of snow, with winds gusting which will only stir up snow as it falls to the ground. Snow is supposed to begin falling Saturday night, and fall all day Sunday into late Sunday night, at this point.

I spoke at the Old Brewery Mission last Sunday morning. Which then, makes me responsible for finding a speaker for this coming Sunday.

Now, a major snow storm is on its way. And like any smart human being, one does not want to have to trek through a major snow storm to get to a meeting. Alas, I was reminded by a friend, what I would do in a snow storm when I was drinking …

Sadly, I’ve never drank in Montreal, and never had to navigate my way to a bar or a liquor store to drink. Amid a snow storm. That is my out …

My friends tonight, as I polled them for what I should do was this: The Show Must Go On… So my choices of speaker got thin, because I did not want to have to ask someone who drives a car, for safety reasons. Because driving in a snow storm is inherently dangerous on its own.

I figured out, with help, from one of my friends, who to ask. And I did that. So in the end, we will brave a snow storm to bring a meeting to the Old Brewery Mission on Sunday morning.

Mischief Managed…

I’ve been to the gym several times this week. And since life rotates on Instagram, I upload a photo, IN the gym, when I go. Yesterday I went to the gym at an odd time. Never go to the gym in the 5 o’clock hour. The gym was crawling with people. Every machine, bike, treadmill was occupied. And the lift room was packed with people.

I, at least, got some treadmill time in. And I came home. Defeated.

Today, I amended that plan, and hit the gym in the 11 o’clock hour. I had a treadmill and a work out mat to do my floor exercises, and space to lift, because traffic was blessedly light during the day. I spent about an hour in the gym. Our treadmills have programs on them, so today I ran an intermediate run program, that as the program runs, the incline on the tread rises, your speed rises and there are down drafts as well. I ran for about an hour. Got my lifting in. And some floor time as well.

What is good, is that I follow a number of guys on Instagram who do the gym as well, and they upload their workout routines so we can see them and duplicate them ourselves. Which is good. I get to practice my form and process, and build a routine that will be profitable in the end.

Snow is coming, it might get brutal.

The Show Must Go On !!!