Selfish Pursuits

We’ve been focused on The Book this week, and the two fold nature of alcoholism. The allergy to alcohol and the mental obsession of the mind. Which then follows into the spiritual malady that takes place when we introduce alcohol into our systems.

When I was a teen ager, I drank with my friends. Often. Whenever there was a party, we had that party all planned out, from beginning to end. We had plans that were executed to make sure everyone went home, a little more sober, than when they drank at said party.

All these years later, as I attempted to make amends to long since friends, none of them seemed to want to reconnect nor know me today. And they all have their reasons, and I know some of them.

I was working my way out of my closet. When it comes to the allergy, I cannot square that in my lexicon. I think I bypassed the allergy and went straight to Obsession.

My shrink, at that time, was coaching me out of the closet, so I trusted, implicitly, what he said to me. Because there was nobody else, giving me advice, as to how I was supposed to “Break Into” the gay community of the late 1980’s.

He told me, and I quote “The only way in, was through a BAR. I want you to go to said bar, sit down and have a drink, hell have two. FIREWORKS will happen. Wait for Fireworks.”

That was the advice I got. And I stuck to that advice.

Drinking became an obsession. Because as deluded as that advice was, it deluded me into fantasy and wishful thinking. These fantasies and deluded thinking, took me in and stunted my mental growth from the age of twenty one until I hit thirty four, when I put down the drink for the last time.

I drank because it would bring me what I wanted. When it was good, it was good, but in the end, it got very bad. I drank for fireworks, every time.

And it was in a bar at seven in the morning, on that fateful day that brought me more than fireworks, it brought me death along with them.

When I got sick, the mere thought of fireworks, became a MUTE point. I could not get laid for the life of me. Nobody wanted to have sex with a marked human being who was going to die. That was a bitter pill to swallow. But I swallowed it nonetheless.

When Todd moved away, left to my own devices, and nobody to tell me otherwise, I took a stab at selfish pursuits once again. That did not end up good, in any sense. What it brought me was drug addiction, in a dead end location, alone, and no way out. And I had to just bide my time and hope that the cavalry would show up.

The cavalry did come.

But my drinking obsession was not over. I just could not fathom, growing up or accepting that one very important portion of my life was over. That was the second bitter pill I needed to swallow.

In the end, that black outs got too much. And I finally put down the drink and came to my next first meeting to start over again.

In sobriety, I’ve read the book, as we continually read the book during the week at assorted meetings. And I am reminded WHY I am alcoholic and why I put down the drink. Because I am not like normal people. One drink is too many and a hundred drinks are not enough.

God, it seems, is still is action mode. He’s always in action mode. it is just sometimes, I don’t want to listen to Him. At my own peril.

It is what it is.

I know my selfish behaviors. The ones we never talk about in open community. The ones that haunt every man in the rooms today. But there was another option. And I spoke about it. And now I am doing something about it.

You can’t rid yourself of character defects and shortcoming, if you do nothing about them, wishfully thinking that if you just wait them out, they will disappear, the longer one is sober.

It doesn’t work that way.

Sobriety is ever changing, if you are up for the never ending ritual of change. You won’t get better or become better, or become spiritually fit, unless you allow God to prune the bush every once in a while.

I heard it said, for one friend, that when he got sober, his sponsor told him that “if it was in the book, he believed it, and that settled it for him.”

He is Very Long Sober today.

I want to become Very Long Sober like him too.

But in order to become that, I have to work.

People Come and Go So Quickly Here. Montreal Festivals and Goings On.

It is Sunday today. And from the Wizard of Oz, and Dorothy,
“People come and go so quickly here!”

It is a sad day today. One of my best friends left Montreal with his dad, moving out East to Halifax, Nova Scotia for work. It is also coming to the end of the Semester for Universities here. Other friends will be leaving the country for the Summer, in a few days, to go back home to visit family and to work for next Falls tuition.

I hate goodbyes !

The city is going through its Spring transformation. Last weekend began the very important Three Week Planting Blitz. The weekend of the 24th of May, yearly, is the weekend that “planting” takes place, as the weather is warm, and everybody who has a garden, or the popular city gardens open for planting.

Last weekend was pretty hit and miss, but this weekend was pretty ok. Garden Centers in town are busier than normal these three weeks, with people buying all their plants and flowers and veggie plants.

We had a brief rain squall this morning while I was out at The Mission.

Our planting and growing season is short, so while the getting is good, gardens, and also, the fields up North of Montreal, and in the Townships get down to business. We only get a few good months of growing before we start heading downhill into Fall.

The city spends a good amount of money in planting parks and green spaces with myriads of flowers and greenery, only for the clean up crew that comes through every fall, and just yanks whatever is in the ground, flowers, shoots and roots, and tosses them in trucks for disposal every year.

Along Ste Catherines street, new trees were planted last year as they began to rehab the sidewalks and they put in planters and new trees. They are rebuilding the entire street from East to West over the next three years. They worked on our end of the city already, down at The Forum and Cabot Square, because of all the new condos that have opened over the last three years.

The new Children’s site, where multiple condos are going up as we speak, will bring thousands of new residents to our neighborhood. All those tall buildings are going to kill our most excellent view from our living room.

If you are into fresh foods and veggies, the all important garden markets are in full swing. Up at Jean Talon, on the North End, where Little Italy sits, down near us, the Atwater Market, and up on the Plateau, there is a garden market over at the Mount Royal Metro. I saw that the community garden market down in Little Burgundy was open now, right down the hill from home.

There are several community garden markets and many community gardens that grow food for the people who live here, who, usually cannot afford the prices shops charge for good veggies and fruit and greens.

One of my friends went and got some spice plants and some nice veggies. The community markets open in the spring and offer, FOR FREE, veggies and plants for your kitchen, garden, and for those who have them, balcony gardens.

Very soon … as June opens in a few days, Festival Season begins in Montreal. With the Montreal Grand Prix, the PREMIER event of the Season, down at the race track on Parc Jean Drapeau. The city brings in Millions of dollars on the four day event every year.

If you love music, and you either live here, or close to Montreal, Montreal is the place to be for the summer. The multiple various jazz festivals, both on the English and Francophone sides are popular. These outdoor concerts bring in millions of people to the city every summer. Along with the outdoor offerings are many indoor, ticketed events that cost a little more, but are so worth the price of admission.

There are so many things to do in Montreal in season. There are parks to go to, museums to visit, cafes to eat in, bars to drink in, movies to see, concerts to attend, so many things.

This is our bread and butter, while the weather is good for every conceivable outdoor event you can think of. And only in Montreal, can you climb a mountain in the middle of the city. The biggest green space in the city.

If you have never been to Montreal, or you visit, Montreal is a beautiful city in the Summer. I invite you to come visit. Enjoy all that our city beautiful has to offer. Bring your kids, there are plenty of activities for families across the city, all summer long.

More to come.

Inside the Circle

The week has come to an end. And Friday’s have always been the best night of the week, because of the people I share company with.

I was taught a long, long, time ago, that if I ever needed anything, ANYTHING, I would need only look as far as the circle. Looking back, I never had to go outside the circle for anything. Whatever that Anything was.

Suffice to say that tonight, several key friends showed up. People I trust, whom I am able to talk to about a myriad of subjects.

My kids have been on my mental radar the entire week. I’ve been talking to my friends about how I can help them. Each person I spoke to, gave me a distinct answer.

Worrying that I could not do anything, turns out that, I actually can do something. Tonight, I spoke to several key people in the circle, familiar with my worries.

I learned who can help me on a greater scale. I learned where I can go to find more help, specifically built to help my kids on the fluid spectrum. I told my friends tonight everything I observed and what I worried about. And with that said, I got solid solutions.

I also spoke to other friend familiar with specific kids in difficulty, and I am pleased that my friends will step up and do what needs to be done to help them. I’m gratified that within the circle we learn to trust each other, and know that if we ask for help, help will come.

Mental Health assistance for our kids is thin on the ground, but there are communities within the circle that CAN help. I know where they are now, and what solutions they offer to our kids.

You might not think we cover all the bases, but as the playing field changes, we adapt. I did not know what we could do for my kids, but I do now.

All will be well.

A good night was had by all.

Thinking Out Loud

I mentioned in earlier posts that we have a good number of young people who are on the gender fluid spectrum. There are also a handful of trans young people as well.

When I was a much younger gay man, I encountered many men who did drag, and they were very well known in our community. Many of them went on to gender reassignment. I know, for them, that the transitions took a very long time. Every one of them had to adhere to a specific schedule of transition, as mandated by doctors, social services, and psychologists.

I witnessed many of my friends make that transition, very successfully.

In today’s day and age, the gender spectrum is wide open, and I have said before that many of our kids subscribe to “Whatever you want to be today.” That is causing a bit of consternation with some of my friends.

Because these young people want to be recognized in the one place they feel safe, In A Room with us. And some of our young people have gone so far as to introduce gender neutral terminology in meetings, meaning, they want gender identifiers stripped from our meeting scripts.

They also want everyone else in the room, to wipe binary gender words from our vocabularies NOW. They wish all scripts to be gender neutral, so as not to disrespect our kids decisions to move from binary identifiers, to gender neutral identifiers.

This is causing quite a stir in our communities.

I’ve known every gay kid who has come through the pike in as many years. And I know all the trans kids who are also on this journey as well. Many of them are having a very hard time staying sober.

Which brings me to a mental health observation question. All these kids are in flux right now. They don’t know if they are coming or going. And neither do we. I worry that my kids are not getting, nor have gotten any mental health assistance. I believe they are walking the gender fluid road, all by themselves. Nobody, right now, as I see it, in front of me, are talking about mental health issues with our kids.

How do you navigate gender reassignment in the open, and you decide that you want to swing from one pole to the other, based on your desires, right now? My kids are conflicted themselves, and to me, it seems, that there is no mental health guidance for our kids.

AA is not therapy. And We do not concern ourselves with outside issues, meaning that, I might suspect there is a problem with my kids, because I see them struggling. They are sometimes angry, and upset, if someone uses the wrong pronoun in the rooms they get indignant. So that is a problem.

Who is managing the mental health of our gender fluid spectrum kids? I am not a therapist nor am I a psychologist. I only know what I am seeing in front of me.

And what I am seeing, and hearing from others, is varied, depending on who you speak to any any given moment. Most of my friends are accepting and supportive of each other. But the extent that the new gender fluid rules of engagement, are causing some folks to think on single binary terms.

Many people do not understand gender fluidity as I do. The landscape in front of us is changing rapidly, and we are endeavoring to meet the needs of our kids, as they need them, but this is to the peril of generations of meeting procedures and policies.

Our kids are battling the Bottle and the Drugs. And I am sure that mental health issues are right up there on the front dashboard for all of them.

And I am concerned. And I don’t know quite what to do, or what to say, or who to talk to about this, beyond asking some of our spectrum kids about it, but I am not sure that would be a good thing.

Confused !!!

Our Kids Are Suffering – Amended Update

This afternoon, Wednesday, I made a couple of phone calls, and asked my Ladies Calvary to help me with our girls. Right now, everyone will be looked after over the coming days. And I was assured that everyone would be taken care of.

It is always a shock for our new guys and gals to be sober a short while, most under two years, for them to witness someone with serious time under their belts drink again. But I am assured that my girls will be alright. My ladies are on the case.

Tuesday Night

Most people in recovery know what the word “powerlessness” means.

Some choose to learn the definition, others hang on for dear life to whatever it is they are holding guard over, until they can’t bear that pain any longer … Then they reach the jumping off point.

I watch people, I listen to them talk, and I wait to see what decision they are going to make, either to buckle down and do what needs to be done, or they choose to jump back into the canyon where there is no light.

The fellowship offers to us a tool kit, to build a ladder out of that canyon into a life what will be fruitful and prosperous. But the pain it might take to get to freedom from alcohol and drugs seems so arduous, that they just cannot bear the pain of sobriety, so they resort to the pain of addiction to soothe the pain of honest pursuit of sobriety.

Our kids are suffering. And I don’t know what to do about this ! They all know me, and have seen me in action for a long time. I have engaged many of them in conversation, I give them jobs at meetings, I support them and show them nothing but kindness.

Yet, still, they are miserable. There is nothing I can do for someone who chooses to live in misery and active addition. I can’t save all the kids I know, right now, who are suffering needlessly.

Women with time, who sponsored many of our latest crop of young ladies, have drank again. Recently. All my girls are besides themselves with grief and sorrow, anger and resentment, and then forgiveness.

Our LGBTQ kids are suffering as well. Because the spectrum of sexual identity has broadened into this amalgamation of “what ever you want to be today” has reared its ugly head.

Do you know what it is like knowing that you have kids on this spectrum, girls that want to be boys, boys who want to be girls, trans kids in the middle of transition, or at different stages of the game, who drink and drug, because they cannot bear the pain they are in right now ?

Not many straight alcoholics in the rooms know what to do with a kid on the spectrum. Most old timers will tell you that sexual orientation is not their responsibility. Some old timers will not even deal with kids on the spectrum, and a good number of them don’t do Gay either.

My kids are suffering. I know this for a fact. I know how many kids are on this sliding scale right now, some are sober, and some are not. I’ve had experience in dealing with trans issues, because over the years I have tried to help our kids, whomever they are, which ever direction they are traveling.

The pendulum is swinging widely and quickly. And a good number of my kids are struggling to keep it together. And I don’t know what to do, besides sitting each one of them down and read them the riot act, and give them a plan, like they would listen to anything I have to say to them.

But you know what the book says …
“THE ALCOHOLIC WILL DRINK AGAIN.”

I’ve been watching my kids come and go, and come and go. Whom ever they are talking to, has failed in keeping them sober. One, because they lack the tools to do the job, OR, those sponsors have drank again.

Which does not help our kids stability. You take on a kid who needs help staying sober, then you go off and drink again !! What the FUCK !!!

I’ve been watching folks with some serious time, do nothing. My peers, do nothing. They come to meetings, warm a chair, and they watch our kids crumble in front of them, and still they do nothing. Tonight, My heart broke every time I heard one of my kids tell the story they told tonight.

And I am powerless to do anything. Because nobody wants to hear what I have to say, and not many people believe anything I say, sitting in any room. But I have the time and the experience to speak truth.

People do not like the truth, I have said this before.

The I-phone generation want it NOW. They want sobriety NOW, they want happiness NOW, but they don’t want the pain or struggle to get there. They’d rather struggle in the drink rather than struggle in sobriety.

Sobriety is a struggle. Until it is not a struggle any longer.

Our kids are struggling. And they are not listening to simple advice. They are too wrapped up in their heads and their misery, to even pay attention to advice given, even if it comes from a chair, within a meeting, and not directly from a human being standing in front of them.

The rule is the girls work with the girls and the boys work with the boys! I can stand at the line and offer advice from behind my line and not cross the rule. But long sober women with time and experience ARE failing them, so what we we supposed to do, let our kids struggle until they die ?

What the Fuck am I supposed to do now ?

I wish I had the answer, I could use it right about now.

Mental Health Stories – Amended

Mental Health has been on the dashboard for the last little while. We have been touching on this topic here for a bit. Long ago, nobody ever really spoke about, or even cared about ones mental health and well being.

Last night we spoke about anger. Which leads back to page 417 in the book, about acceptance, and that if I have a problem with someone, that problem ALWAYS stems back to myself? I disagree.

Way back when, men were supposed to suck it up buttercup, and say nothing and bear our pain like Marines and Troopers. I did that for a long time, until it got unbearable, then I drank my pain away, and that was a disaster.

Now I am sober, and vulnerable, and raw, and honest, and truthful. I know my friends do not like when I express myself. Or have a feeling or an emotion. They just don’t know what to do with me when I feel something in public or to them. They usually run in the other direction.

A friend of mine and I agree, we are not doormats, or punching bags. I said last night that if I feel something and I am hurting or feel slighted or angry or upset for any reason, I will tell you, point blank that I am pissed ! I’m not gonna suck it up and believe that a problem with anyone stems back to a problem with me. That’s where I now disagree with the Book.

Men are not supposed to feel, or better yet, say anything about what we are feeling. But spend some time with Brene Brown, and you will change your tune very quickly. I survived emotional bottoms in sobriety, and I know the very few, FEW people who stood by me and tried to help. Many did nothing but watch me crumble under the pressure, because nobody knows or wants to be vulnerable. UGH.

I hear our women talk about certain topics in a group setting, a few of our younger ladies talk openly about their emotional challenges. But we don’t usually hear a whole lot of stories about mental health. But women suffer a great deal as well, and a lot of the time, men don’t really pay attention to them or their stories for that matter.

Women, like some men, suffer in silence, because of trust factors and that how could a man ponder what a woman goes through on any given day. Most of our women keep to a small circle of confidants. Women in Montreal, have their own meetings and spaces that are safe, and away from men as a rule. So I don’t want to leave our women out of the story, or say that they don’t suffer mental health issues as well. They do.

If you need help, get help. If you need to talk, there are ways around this to find people who will listen. There are a multitude of services in many city centers that offer mental health assistance.

Mental health is important to everyone. We must b able to say, Hey I am fucking hurting, listen to me forGod’s sake. We should not have to suck it up buttercup and be freaking VULCANS around our friends and family.

My first go round with mental health issues happened when I was in the eighth grade, when my father’s mother had had a stroke and he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital. The thought was that if “I” showed up, it would jog her memory so hard that she would wake right up.

Obviously, that did not work.

But I think about that now, and how I was thrust into a situation, not of my own making, and was expected to be the Golden Child to resurrect my grandmother, who was already gone.

She would never return to normal, again. ever.

My father resorted to the bottle. I went back to my “normal” life, school, friends, activities. Junior high was the best time of my life, better than high school. I had a lot of fun, and I did a lot of service, and got an award upon graduating in ninth grade.

I would not hit another crisis point for a long time. My alcoholism was going full bore at the time. And I was dating all the wrong men. Really, when are we ever really dating the creme of the crop when we were drinking?

In my twenty fifth year, I had broken up with the boy I was dating, who was a serial liar and cheater. Life then was pretty tough. My living situation was really precarious. But it was then that Josh decided to kill himself.

One weekend afternoon, my mother had phoned me out of the blue to tell me his mother had called her and that Josh was missing. And could I find him? I called the cops in Fort Lauderdale and my friends.

They found him dead in an apartment outside the city center.

I drove out and sat in a squad car with a detective, while they worked the scene, and later brought him out in a bag.

The next day the coroner called me to identify his remains. To this day, every time I close my eyes, I see him in my minds eye, or what was left of him by that point. And his mother’s curse: She said : “I hope for the rest of your life, every time you close your eyes, you see my dead son!”

Like I had anything to do with his suicide.

I ended up at the bar right after that chore, and I began to drink myself sick.

I drank for weeks.

At one point Todd and Bill stepped in and got me into a suicide survivors group. If you have never sat in a suicide survivors group, you haven’t lived.

That 13 week experience, made me drink even worse.

A year later, I got very sick and was diagnosed with AIDS, and told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye and wait to die.

Imagine !!!

There was no therapy.

There was no assistance programs.

It was just the Todd and the Bar. And the men inside of the bar, who all died, there are only two of us who survived that maelstrom.

The day I took my first, LAST drink, and Todd had stepped in to save my life, my job became my salvation. I did as Todd asked, I did not fight the process.

I got sober, and I lived.

After my relapse, and return to what was my life, I had a therapist who helped me re enter society and begin to live again, after the disastrous end of another wham-ban relationship from hell.

When I moved to Montreal, I got into an alcoholism aftercare program, and had another therapist who did wonders for me. She really set my life in order and got me on my feet in this new city. She helped me acclimate and learn about the culture and people of Montreal. While I counted my sober days. I had her through my second year of sobriety.

My husband mental health journey was a real eye opener for me, because I had to learn on the fly, what to do for a bi-polar human being. I took care of him, the best way I could and we navigated pretty alright. Albeit, we had a few hiccups and found that not every health care worker was the right health care worker, and not every insurance company was on the up and up, and not every human we dealt with was honest and kind.

We deal with mental health on a daily basis, because Bi-Polar is a life issue not a seasonal or short term issue. It is an Every Day Issue. So I have to be on point as best I can, but every once in a while, I need a breather too.

Being estranged from my family as I am, the death of my father was rough, because he went to his grave hating me and wanting me dead. I knew this because it was what my mother had parroted from him to me over the years.

I had a rough few days, maybe a couple of weeks.

That is what is is.

The rooms are not therapy per se, but we talk a lot, about a great many things. For the last eighteen years, I have been talking my way sober. And my life has gotten pretty big.

Really grateful for that.

Voices for Women

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 11: Women hold up signs during a women’s pro-choice rally on Capitol Hill, July 11, 2013 in Washington, DC. The rally was hosted by Planned Parenthood Federation of America to urge Congress against passing any legislation to limit access to safe and legal abortion. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

To all the women who read this blog, I am here for all of you. I will speak for you, I will march for you, and I will write for you.

I have always had a soft heart and a deep abiding love for the women in my life. I know what all of them went through to either love me or care for me. The women in my life, did not have it easy for sure.

No man on this earth can ever know what a woman feels, about anything!
PERIOD!!!

No man on earth should have the right to tell any women, anywhere, what she should do with her body.
PERIOD!!!

No man on earth carries a child, knows what it is like for a woman to carry a child or God forbid, decide that she cannot carry a child.
PERIOD!!!

I know, from personal experience, what the various men in my life thought about women, because I watched how they treated those women in their lives.

In the United States, new super restrictive laws have been passed in Alabama and now Missouri, that remove a woman’s right to choose the destiny of her life.

We cannot allow Republicans to push this fight to the Supreme Court of the United States. We cannot afford to have Roe v Wade overturned.

We must speak out, We must talk, We must march, and We must fight for the rights of women.
PERIOD !!!

There are no two ways about this. This is the fight for the lives of every woman, here and abroad, and in the United States.

Whatever I can do, I will do willingly. All you need is ask, and I will do everything in my power to use this platform in the service of women, because women make the world go round.