December 9th 2014 … Thirteen

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Courtesy: Billy Pazionis Flickr

I offer you “Thirteen” a retrospective.

In May of 2013, I had been at Tuesday Beginners for eleven years. The New York women came to us and I began to watch them and listen to them. I watched what they did for a while and I longed for that kind of life to come to me.

The end of May came with the West Island Round Up. And I heard Lorna Kelly speak, along with a host of others from New York. And I learned, much to my dismay, that I’d been warming a seat for years, and not really doing anything about it. Comfortable at just being a talking head and showing up and doing service.

One of the men who spoke talked about prayer … I prayed, but not with the intensity or meaning that our man was trying to get across to the people sitting in front of him while he spoke. Three, Seven and Eleven, every day, like you mean it. You have the book, why aren’t you working it?

This is how we do it.

THIS IS HOW WE DO IT !!!

Are you listening??

I faded from my then sponsor and decided to go it alone. It was time. Days, turned into weeks, which turned into months. I changed up my meetings, added the Friday A.B.S.I. meeting, and I was doing the work, praying and being present for my friends.

In the Summer of 2013, I decided to leave Tuesday Beginners, opting for the “other” beginners meeting that was on earlier, because that is where my friends were, or, more to the point, the young men of that I needed in my life and it ended up, this meeting carried me through some tough times. And I gave back to that meeting.

On my 12th anniversary, December 9th 2013, I asked a friend to give me my chip, so it went. Since then, Vendome Beginners moved to the location we are at now, albeit in smaller numbers, we have a committed group of folks who come week in and week out.

There was an old timer there, who had the years, and I was in the market for a new sponsor, in January this year, we went to lunch and he interviewed me for the position. He had a few rules that I must agree to follow. I was supposed to call him every day for a month. I did that. At the end of the month, on the last day, I called him, and he said to me that I did not have to call him anymore. And I was like “What?” But I want to call you every day. That was the answer he was looking for.

It has been close to a year, and I call him every day. He also started me on the journey with the Men’s Intensive Big Book, Steps, Study. We have been working our steps in tandem with each other. My sponsors sponsor, my sponsor, and then myself. I had been doing the work, praying and acting As If.

And God seemed to be pleased because he sent me young men to work with, something my life had lacked for all the years I was sober. They have taught me many things, about themselves, and about myself, and about us.

In May of 2014, he invited me to my first Men’s Intensive Weekend at Mad River Barn, in Vermont. Being the only Queer in the bunch, I told them my stories about getting sober in certain groups. And the fact that people sent me away because I was gay! That changed everything. It was the first weekend where men from other places listened to me and spoke kindness to me. I came home from that weekend with lessons I still use today. I work the same way with my guys, that my sponsor works with me.

The weekend after then Men’s Intensive, it was my hope to share a round up with my guys. It was an ok weekend. The singleness of purpose problem was a barrier for my guys, and they felt left out of the US and segregated to just them and the just us club. But the message was clear from the Atlantic Group.

The Mantra was “THE WORK.”

Since May I have talked about the work, and how that has panned out over the past seven months. In October of 2014, we again returned to Mad River for the Fall Men’s Intensive weekend. Sadly, that would be the last time we visited that Inn. This time around, I was asked to speak. Actually, before I even got home from the Intensive in May, an invitation to speak was waiting for me when I got home. So I had months to prepare. I did not get a notice on what I would be speaking on in any case.

Half our number came for the weekend. People were not pleased with the Inn from the last visit and the price had gone up considerably. Nonetheless, I was the opening presenter for Steps One and Two for the weekend.

I met some of the same men as the first time, but also got to meet several other men who had come for the first time. I had been working my steps, working with my guys, and I talked about that with the guys, a handful of them disagreed with my style and approach, and voiced those opinions.

My Sponsor listened to what I had said and told me to ignore them.What I was doing was working, so don’t get caught up in old men being pissy.

On the way to the Mad River Barn, My sponsor, myself and a friend, took an excursion to East Dorset Vermont to visit Bill’s House, where he was born and was raised. We also visited Bill’s and Lois’s grave with a group of women making an intensive weekend there at the house. It was a life changing event for me, and for all those who were there.

Standing on Bill’s Grave, speaking about recovery, to others present, changed my life. I had the opportunity to visit the man who started it all. Then attend an intensive weekend, and then bring all that home for my guys, my friends, my fellows, the list goes on and on. On the way home from that weekend, we visited the next site of the Men’s Intensive for Spring 2015. A little place called Saint Anne’s Shrine in Vermont. About an hours drive from here.

We have celebrated Thanksgiving and we are coming up on Christmas.

Three seems to be the magic number for me. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a man who came to our Sunday night meeting, and since. I’ve become his sponsor. You loose one, God gives you another one. They say, when you work with others that, you might find folks to work with, and they might decide that drinking is far more fun, and take leave of you. But when one goes, there is always someone waiting in the wings to take their place. And so that has happened.

The Pre-Cake roller coaster did not take off this year.

There were no massive upheavals, no major issues, no major problems. It has been a slow burn. However, this year, I have not only had myself to work with, but my guys and my sponsor. I’ve really had no down time to think of myself. When the phone rings, it rings, I answer.

It is one thing to be present for your own sobriety, it is totally a different fish, when you are accountable to young men with whom you work with. They call every day. We talk every day, except when life takes precedence. I meet my guys once a week to talk, to read the Book, and to do Step Work. One of my guys moved to the states, this past fall for his M.A. so we Skype every week.

Thank God for technology and sponsorship.

They have totally kept me on my toes and busy with something to do and something new to think about on a daily basis. Working with others is the greatest joy you can have in sobriety. Because it isn’t about me, it’s about them. I’ve truly grown this year, in ways I couldn’t have imagined. All because I have done my work.

Now they do their work.

Continuing the story … This post is a two parter. It is Tuesday and mother nature dropped snow on us today. A little worried about people not coming, my sponsor says … “We went to any length to drink, snow or whatever, people will come, don’t fret!”

Our usual group of folks came. We called New Foundland to talk to one of our women who is up there with her new daughter, and I thought that it would be nice for all of us to talk to her, so we did that. Have phone will chat !!!

We covered the second half of Step twelve. There were lots of laughs and giggles, but it was all business.

So what can I say for sobriety, I am in my steps. My sponsees are in their steps. My sponsor is in his steps. We’ve now heard the steps presented three times in the last year. Twice in an intensive weekend, and once at our meeting for twelve weeks.

This journey to where I am today, started some time ago, and only now can I say, I’ve reaped the rewards of really working my sobriety for all its worth. No roller coaster, no drama. Everything is where it should be and all is well in my world.

It was bittersweet because one of my friends, who was sober, when I FIRST got sober, was here tonight. He got stuck in the revolving door for a long time, and now he is back. He’s got six months. And I think about him a lot. Had he stuck and stayed he would be long sober, longer than I am today, had he stayed. But he didn’t.

I did everything I was told to do. I’ve been blessed to be able to maintain the sober schedule I built thirteen years ago. And I did not deviate from that schedule. Ever. I stayed sober. Many of my friends did not.

What did I do right, and what did they do wrong?

We are all suffering alcoholics. Some got better, some didn’t. At least tonight, all in our number are alive, well and sober.

I am very grateful for all that I have.

Thanks for reading. More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … The Elevator's Not Working, Use the Steps …

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Courtesy:Tyler Oakley

What do you do for Labor day? For many on the East Coast, this weekend is the final weekend of Summer, the last weekend to party it up, before season closes.

The weather has been up and down. Rain here, rain there. I, however, got out and back without a drop which was good. I was up and ready to go with plenty of time and sat on my hands for the last half hour before I finally hit the door.

I got to the elevator bank, and there was a woman waiting, the button was pushed. But there was silence. You can hear the elevators coming up and down the shafts, so we stood there for five minutes, ten minutes, no elevators …

I pushed the UP button because the Up brings the elevator right to the floor directly. When you push the DOWN button, the elevator NEVER comes directly to the floor you are on. It always goes up to come down. I don’t know why it does that.

Well, Up didn’t work.

Another of my floor mates came to wait with me, and the elevators were not coming for some ungodly reason. So we walked down seventeen flights of stairs to reach the atrium. I Hate Stairs …

When I got down to the first floor, elevator ONE was stuck in the basement, and elevator TWO was on its way up. A little late for an up since we walked down the entire building…

When I finally got the the church, the door was open and the lights were on, a couple of members got there before me and said that the doors were unlocked when they got there, which means the super must have opened up for me early.

We cranked out set up and sat a full house. We had a bunch of visitors from out of town and we read Tradition Eight… The main take away:

“Money and spirituality don’t mix.”

You can’t turn a profit off of a Twelve Step call. Alcoholics who suffer, some go to rehab, and then they come to us. Some come to us directly. In any case, what would it be like if we charged folks for their sobriety?

There is not a dollar figure large enough that would compensate someone for giving it away. The Book reads “…Freely received, so freely given…”

The rooms gave me everything that I ever wanted or needed. The people in my life I could not put a dollar figure on. When I give it away, to the people I work with, you could not put a dollar figure on the emotional feeling of gratitude one gets, when people you work with get better.

I’ve seen “sober coaches” recently in the news, always coupled with someone who is trying to get sober, usually a celebrity … I wonder how much money they make a week as they “coach” someone into sobriety? And I wonder if that model works?

I mean if you have to pay someone to keep you sober, I think that speaks to the effort or lack there of said effort each sufferer puts into his/her own sober journey.

Yeah, I’ll get sober, my way. I will hire a coach to shadow me 24/7 in all my public events, and I will stay sober. I might not necessarily go to meetings on top of this, or maybe I might, but we’ll see …

We heard about Humility. We heard about Gratitude.

In New York, someone has to keep the doors open in the G.S.O. And someone needs to keep our G.S.O here in Montreal staffed and working. If you read the BOX 459, that comes monthly from New York, you can read all about how the system works, who gets paid and who doesn’t, and WHY?

The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. And Our common welfare comes first, personal recovery depends on A.A. Unity.

Each group has jobs, that rotate each month. And people do group service to give back for what they have been freely given. And you can’t put a dollar figure on that knowledge.

When a celebrity or a professional comes through our doors, who they are and what they do for a living is left at the door.

There is that separation between the human being and what they do.

However, I know of a handful of sober folks, I count among my friends, who work in recovery houses and rehabs. We know where they work, but when they hit a meeting, they are who they are. I’ve never heard someone mix business with pleasure.

In time you come to realize just how much of a pleasure going to meetings is, because you get to see the people you got sober with, the friends that you have made and we get to share amongst each other what we learn on a weekly basis. And that is a pleasure.

So that is a thing …

*** *** *** ***

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Late night television has been hit and miss the past few weeks. The summer season is coming to an end, and we hit that [buffer zone] between summer and fall programming that always coincides with Labor Day.

Last night we got an encore presentation of “We Were Here.” It was the only worth while program on television at that hour. I guess God had a plan. This documentary has been showing an awful lot this summer. As if to say … This isn’t over, we need to think about this and remember. And we need NOT to forget.

Seriously, how can I forget?

I love one of the final thoughts in this piece about “The Ghost.”

People who lived through that era of time, either watching someone they loved get sick and die, or working on the front lines of treatment and service, Once we have gone through this crucible, we come out the other end. And for some, they never reconnect to life, or to a purpose, and thereby, become a ghost, traveling through life, not connecting, and never finding a purpose for themselves.

I as well, am married to someone younger than me. Who never saw this happen. He did not live through what I did. He did not watch all his friends die gruesome deaths like I did. But when we connected, he got on board 100%.

I’ve had two periods of sickness in the last thirteen years. But it wasn’t a death watch. And I haven’t had another AIDS related illness since.

I know how I got through that period. But I took me a long time to find a purpose in my life, rather than pissing my life away with drugs and alcohol. That point came and I found a purpose, or I thought I did.

When I got here, and was sober a year, my after care counselor asked me “so what do you want to do now?” She gave me an option to find a purpose. I was attached by that time. I went back to school. I had my meetings and good friends.

I found my purpose, and I share that purpose every day with my fellows.

There is that empty space in my heart for all my friends who did not get so lucky. I remember. I miss them. I never forget them. I think about them every time I open my medicine cabinet. The moment I forget or I stop opening that cabinet, I sign my own death warrant.

I remember What it was like, What happened and What it is like now.

How gracefully that thought crosses all the events in my life succinctly.

I have a story and that story matters.

Maya says … When you know good, Do good. When you learn, Teach.

That is what I do every day.

More to come, stay tuned …

Religion Fiction … A Continuation …

robin_shoots_with_sir_guy_by_louis_rhead_1912Lifted From: Sects and Violence in the Ancient World

Children brought up in a religious environment, according to a recent BBC story, are more prone to believe in fictional characters. The story, based on research from my alma mater, Boston University, suggests that if children are taught to believe miraculous stories at a young age, they will more likely believe that fictional figures are based in reality too.

Undoubtedly this will be seen as yet another brick in Montresor’s wall by those who can find no good in religion. The reasoning will go something like this: believing in no religion is the “neutral” position. If we raise children in a religious context, we are inclining them toward a fictional belief system and making them less likely to reason their way out of it. Therefore, we should raise children secular.

Even in the BBC story there are dissenting voices. Perhaps children who learn about Jesus find Thor a more compelling character. Perhaps they are open to possibilities that logic shuts out. Our brains have two hemispheres for a reason. I often wonder whether it is possible to be fully human while ignoring about half of what evolution gave us to work with.

Logic tells me that religious belief serves a survival function. And my creative side still appreciates the possibilities that my Manhattan brain is forced to shut down every day when I punch the clock. If there’s nothing more than work, perhaps believing in fiction serves a valuable function after all. But I suspect this is playing right into the rationalists’ hand. Pass me another brick, will you, Fortunato?

The jury, however, is still out on the nature of reality. Even for materialists. Gods of the gaps tend not to survive very well. The question is actually much larger than that. We don’t know the nature of ultimate reality. We’re not even sure what reality is yet.

Can a parent who believes in God, after the experience of growing to maturity in a heartless universe, be blamed for teaching their children the same? No humane parent raises their child purposefully teaching them falsehoods. Yes, some children are damaged by religious upbringings. Some are damaged by materialist upbringings as well.

What seems to have shifted, in my humble opinion, is the popular perceptions of religion. What used to be understood as the foundation of a civil society is now challenged as a harmful fantasy that encourages children to grow up into terrorists or non-functioning adults.

The belief that we can raise children with no biases, however, is clearly fiction. Until we have the full truth, there should be room for both Gilligan and the Professor on this island. But then again, I was raised to believe in the divine world, so what do I know?

*** *** *** ***

I am a child of the 1970’s,80’s and beyond. Now in my late 40’s I can reflect on what I have learned so far, and be able to look back on what I learned early on. If you grew up in this period of time, then you will get all these references that I am about to write about.

I come from a Catholic background. And back in the day there was much family and prayer, saints and church. But aside from all of that there were many outings and adventures.

The first movies I remember were Old Yeller, Bambi, and the much anticipated Star Wars. We went to see the very first installment at Twin City Theatres in New Britain Ct. I’d never seen anything like it. Nobody had.

And as I look back on 47 years of life. we can safely say that George Lucas gave the world something to believe in. Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away …

Star-Wars

CUE Music ….

I never thought about religion or God when viewing these movies. Fictional characters were larger than life. Luke, Leia, Obi Wan and of course Yoda. Then you had the dark side represented by Darth Vader. Those movies were stories for the ages.

Faith – Power – Good – Evil – The Light – and The Darkness – Family Etc …

I would not realize what that meant for a very long time. And cannot be seen unless in retrospect. From this side of the story and not the earlier. As the next two motion pictures came out, the story filled out and we got a few steps closer to the depth and gravity of the story.

I remember sitting in the Falls Theatre, I was a teen ager by now, watching Return of the Jedi and I had a spiritual experience watching Luke being tortured by the Sith Lord. And Darth coming to his rescue. I felt emotions that I could not name, however they were occurring at that time.

That whole series of movies were existential and spiritual for me. There are no two ways about it. They certainly made an impact in my life and the way I chose to live it after all these years.

The whole cosmic universe of Star Wars was a teaching in religion and faith from a distant galaxy. I know that now, having studied the worlds greatest religions in university and spent 47 years getting to know God myself.

Over the decades we played with toys, you know we all had them. We built legos and star fighters. We had the figurines. And we believed that those people were indeed real because George Lucas brought them to our collective consciousnesses. Amid all that was going on in the world, we could escape into the universe of Star Wars when ever we wanted to.

I know we have all seen the Star Wars Trilogy and the subsequent prequels several times over, I know I have. What was more important was that in the 70’s and 80’s we got to live on Tatooine, and live the life of Luke and his family, like they were our family.

We learned all the teachings of Yoda. And I am sure we can all quote word for word every sentence he spoke from every movie he was in. I know for myself that I still cling to those words and I have applied them to my life and I use them in the work that I do today with others.

Do or Do Not … There is No Try !!!

Yoda, you seek Yoda, Take you to him …

Yoda was a teacher, and I am positive that the world is a better place because of him and the other teachers of the stories. Escapism, either good or bad, can lead to spiritual awakening or another. And I believe that my horizons were broadened in the experience of these stories.

God or the universe, what ever you called it then, existed. I believe that those movies fueled the hearts and minds of millions over the decades. I think it was a bit special to be of the generation to have experienced Star Wars in Theatre as they were released.

Today’s generation, only get them on dvd. They did not get to see the movies on Big Screens. When they did the digital reload of the films, I got to see them on DVD, I own the collection today.

I don’t know if the impact of these films were or are as great as when they were first released. Times were different. We did not have the internet or social media, and today’s kids are too engrossed with technology to sit for a long period of time and concentrate on anything that isn’t connected to Twitter, Facebook or a Cell Phone.

I know that my love of music, from the 70’s onwards was part of my lexicon. The movies were as well. And when finally cable tv came to Florida when I was a teen ager, we got to see much more film and programming.

Things were much simpler in those days. We had each other. We had family, we had friends, whom we shared our greatest treasures with. Music, Film and TV.

In the last fifteen years, Peter Jackson gave us the Hobbit and all those stories. I read them in school, and I have the books in my library, but I did not take to them like I took to Star Wars and other stories.

We had the Tween movies of late.

dhonesheet

And then there is Harry Potter.

Harry Potter. Do you dig him like I do?

I fell into Harry Potter because of my therapist who’s office was decorated in Harry Potter Sheik. When we were talking I gravitated towards him, because I felt like an orphan and I was alone in my life and I really needed certain direction.

When I learned that Harry and I shared a birthday in common, I was hooked. It is also J.K. Rowling’s Birthday as well. I have every book and related story that was published. All the monster books, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and of course all of the books, and every dvd that was produced.

I remember the day the first Harry Potter movie came out, I was living on South Beach and I bought two tickets and I had to watch the first one by myself, however hard a good friend tried to go with me, I insisted we take in the second showing together.

I think I had the first three books by the time I moved here to Montreal in 2002. And Montreal does books very well. Each subsequent release was an event to partake. The book stores were decorated, the employees dressed up and there were hundreds of people who would come to partake and be sorted into houses and then wait for hours until the midnight release time to get your next book.

Harry Potter is another Story for the Ages. No matter where you live, or who you are, unless of course you derided magic and everything to do with Harry, you got hooked, at least I did.

I got to grow up all over again.

I even have my own wand that my therapist gave me when I moved here. Harry Potter fandom is not isolated. The world was taken by him and the story.

I loved reading. And if you search Harry on my blog here you will find hundreds of entries about him. When each book came out I would sit a read through the entire book in one fell swoop. I did that for all of the books.

And to this day, I have several Harry Potter books along side my bed at arms reach so that I can read certain chapters over and over again. I loved Harry, but silently I always rooted for Ron Weasley. The stalwart sidekick who always got second billing.

Hogwarts was a place we could all believe in.

The battle for Good over Evil.

The importance of Family and of Memory.

The value of Friendship and Honor.

The incalculable potency of certain magic.

If you’ve read the Deathly Hallows, then you understand these things.

Like Star Wars, for the older set of folks who are reading, Harry Potter was of this age, something to cling to, to honor, to love and to cherish. We all know what house we belong to.

I am a Gryffindor… I was sorted a long time ago.

And I think we all strive to be a little like our counterparts from the stories. And I think we carry a little of each character/person into our daily lives.

So what does God have to do with any of this?

Do you believe in God? Did you believe in the Star Wars Universe? Were you a Trekkie? Are you a Potter Head? Do you have a favorite story or set of books you would carry with you to your grave and believe strongly in the story, its characters and the words on the page?

Does your faith in God battle with the Gods and Characters of Fiction?

I say that if you have a solid faith in God, or in the faith you practice, then none of this should shake that foundation. That has been the battle for the last ten years for some, people get all in arms over religion and faith, that any little chink in the chain rattles them to high heaven. God forbid …

Can you find or did you find room in your religious/spiritual lexicon to include all those favorite characters you have read in your lifetime as a belief system?

And does the fictional world augment or detract from your religious/spiritual life?

Can both exist in the same space/mind? And if it can how has it impacted the life you live and the way you work with and or relate to others?

I just thought that this was an interesting post, originally found on his blog. I said as much, in fewer words there the other night.

I hope you enjoyed this post. If you like it, give it a thumbs up.

More to come, stay tuned …

Sunday Sundries … Listening to the Wind … Messages … Seeds

coffee cupThe weather held for the weekend’s festivities. The summer concert series is in full swing. There was and will be lots of music to come over the next couple of weeks. Osheaga was this weekend, and Coming up will be Thirty Seconds to Mars (Jared Leto and friends) with guests Linkin Park. That was a ticket i would want to buy, but coming in close to $100.00 is a little steep. I, however have all the latest music on my phone already. I’m not sure I want to find myself in a mosh pit with screaming teen-agers.

I guess I fared well with all that’s going on in my head and heart. You can’t make someone love you and you sure as shit cannot change someone who is stuck in hate and ignorance. However broken hearted I am about the situation, I must remember that I am powerless over people, places and things. I did however send another message through last night when I got home from dinner, the channel is still open and I haven’t been blocked “Yet.”

We had dinner with my sister in law while she waited on her kids to attend the concert last night they got home close to midnight, and mom left for Ottawa this afternoon and another set of parents are here to chaperone them another night and to La Rhonde tomorrow then they will all return to Ottawa Monday night.

It was another festive Sunday afternoon. The weather has been glorious and we will take it while it lasts. I cranked out set up and sat outside on the stoop to await my peeps. And we sat a full room. I had imagined that we would get through the entire story (read wise) and have a full discussion, But we read the entire circle (Listening to the Wind) and I stopped the read a few pages short, it was quite a long story with lots of insanity, and that’s where I left it tonight, next week we will get the resolution and the solution of the story.

Folks were like “damned … I really wanted to get to the end …”

Keep em coming back for more is my take on it.

Which leaves us only a few pages of reading next week, because we usually only stick to one story at a time, since we are in the “total insanity” chapter of the stories in the back of the book.

In the fourth edition, several stories were removed from older editions, several new stories were inserted, and a few were renamed from older editions, and there are several topical sections that set apart sets of stories as they were published.

Insanity was the one thing I took away from this read.

When I left home, all that I knew how to do was drink. Who knew from responsibility. We were young and pretty back then. And I lived in an apartment complex heavily populated with Disney employees. You either were one, or you knew someone who was.

It seemed that what ruled the day was the amount of alcohol one could consume on any given night, and between the gay bars, Southern Nights and the Parliament House, and the Disney bars located at Downtown Disney, we had all of our bases covered. You could drink very cheaply no matter what night it was. And who you were friends with usually dictated the alcohol and drug consumption. I was not interested in drugs early on, alcohol was much cheaper and it was legal.

From beginning to end, several times, I was the alcoholic running riot through people’s lives. And reading from the back of the book, in several stories, you could insert me into a story because at some point I was the writer.

For whatever reason, I graduated from staying in one place and attempting to live responsibly, which at one point I could not, and many room mates later, and several failed relationships, most ending in horrible ways, I began the geographical moves. I followed the boys from town to town.

I moved from Miami to Orlando to be gay and come our at the Parliament House. I failed at relationships so I moved on to Daytona Beach and Up and down the coast for a period of time.

I was always on the loosing end, meaning that I had lost everything several times. I had a couple of neat room mates. But that only lasted so long. There had to be alcohol and there also had to be good sex. Because if you were young and pretty, the world was your oyster.

In my twenties I remained slender and cute for a while. I eventually ended back in Miami for the grand crash and burn. And from that jackpot I rented from a friend, and ruined that relationship over alcohol.

When I lived in Orlando I dated a young man who I was very much in love with, but he was a seasonal Disney employee. And while the getting was good, we dated. And every day after work, we would talk and it would either be “Bottle or Blender?”

You were either going to bring a bottle or you would bring the blender.

We would get tanked, watch Mary Poppins drunk and then the night would take off. That was during the best of times. Eventually I transited into the worst of times. i really did not know why i was having such problems. Because nobody ever mentioned alcoholism to any of us, not that any of us would have responded well to an inquiry like that.

Nobody said STOP.

Nobody ever intimated that any of us had a problem with our drinking.

Imagine what life would have looked like had I gotten sober in my twenties.

The rest they say is history. I am learning so much this time around. Every day it is something new. I read, I talk to friends, I study the book, and I look at the past with new eyes. I almost feel sorry for that young man that I was. I had some friends, but no one substantial to stop me when I should have been stopped. I “wung it” for a long time.

Eventually someone did step in and tell me to Stop.

I had no choice then. Death was the only alternative. And I did not want to die.

I am committed to my sober journey and the sober journey’s of the men i work with. We are all planting seeds in our own ways. We all have something to give, depending on what we have in our virtual banks of sobriety. But the book does say that …”Obviously you cannot give something that you don’t have …”

Which is why we keep coming back for more.

I am ok tonight. Tomorrow we move on.

More to come, stay tuned …

Wisdom sets In … Motives … It takes Two to Tango

maybeThe city is humming with people coming and going. The Osheaga Festival opened tonight and runs through the weekend, The Berri Transit station was packed with concert goers this evening.

I guess I was right when I said last night that wisdom usually follows a question, and so it has. I sent an email to my sponsor last night before I went to bed, and he followed up with a call today to speak about what I wrote him. He said I did the right thing in opening communication, stating that I was long sober now and that I / we are getting old to harbor such resentments.

Every human being wants to be seen.

Every human being wants to be acknowledged.

Every human being is worthy of dignity and respect.

So looking back on yesterdays post, the question that was posed tonight was, what are our motives and why do we do certain things? Beyond simple connection, my motives are certainly self centered. To make waves, to be petulant and to point fingers.

We, as alcoholics have done damage to others, for the most part, we try to avoid and not see our part in these damages.

Children of abusive alcoholics are certainly victims of indignities beyond their control.

So that is a thing.

When you tell a child that he was a mistake and should never have been born, you damage that child. When you beat that same child into submission continuously, you damage that child.

When that child grows up, he has learned that he was a mistake. That he should not be here, and that takes a toll on that person. And when you follow up that indignity with verbal abuse that he is an abomination and that (having contracted AIDS and is mortally sick) you remind that person that they are less than and that they should die already, what do you think goes through the mind of that person?

When I got sick, I, In turn got sober. I was doing the best I could with what I had. I was young, and I was dying. So I thought. The doctors certainly thought that. When family turns their back on you and humiliates you in front of others, that is an indignity.

I made several decisions during my first sober period that were all about me. I really did not have a sponsor, Puddles had moved to California so I was on my own then. What did I know about sober decisions and correctly motivated actions? First, I made a certain decision about my brothers wedding and I was only thinking about myself. I hurt some people in this process.

I would never be forgiven for that, to this day.

My parents lived in Sarasota and my father would come to Miami on business and he would visit me, only to remind me how abominable I was and that I should die already and leave the family once and for all, because I was unacceptable and an abomination.

One particular night he was in rare form after sharing dinner together, and he started in on me and I asked him to stop the car ( On the Highway) I got out of said car and told him never to come back and visit me until he grew up.

I walked away, down the highway and walked all the way home by myself.

You see my father fought in Viet Nam, (and he fell in love). That soldier was killed in action, Who knew from gay in the 1960’s. My father named me after a dead soldier. He abused me and beat me telling me that I was mistake. I realized that I, as a gay, infected man, would never live up to the honor of that dead soldier. Hence the name change.

Some time later I had a spiritual experience. It came and I acted on it. Again, another decision made in “all about me” mode. I must have been 28 or 29. I went to legal aide, spoke to a lawyer and soon after I had legally changed my name. I was going to reclaim myself once and for all so that whatever life I was going to have, would be of my creation. I would kill that person my father thought was a mistake.

So that is a thing. 

It was a complete dagger to my parents hearts.

My father, the man who for years abused me and degraded me, telling me that I was mistake, would get his comeuppance. I would have the last word for his indignity.

I went on with my life. I survived …

A long time ago, my soldier father met a Quebecois woman, (my mother) they got it on in a drive in theatre in a Ford GTO. And she got pregnant. My ultra Catholic grandparents most likely forced him to marry her because she was carrying his child.

My father buried a secret that I learned about throughout my life. He hated Gay, because he was a heterosexual man with homosexual leanings, and that was abominable to him. Internalized homophobia …

The dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.

She was STILL a CANADIAN when she had me and my brother.

In 1967 they were married, with me in the oven, at the wedding. I was born in July of 1967. My brother followed in 1970. My father wanted to purge every Canadian family member, ritual, tradition, and way of life from her. He would make her a God fearing, Blood thirsty American, if it was the last thing he would do.

My mother was naturalized in 1974, and became an American.

Fade to black …

Years later we came upon a lie about their actual wedding date. We were told they were married in 1965, and I was born in 1967. And we happened on that lie when on their 25th wedding anniversary, we bought a gift, had it engraved, only to learn the dates were wrong.

Hmmm…

I always say “Never lie to your children, because eventually those lies will come out.”

I stayed sober through my 4th anniversary. And followed several of my friends out the door and into my slip. I came back to Miami in 2000. I had a job that paid cash. I had a studio apartment just off the beach, on Miami Beach. My parents were really not a part of my life, unless they chose to be because I was a faggot with AIDS and an abomination.

When I got sick, they turned their backs on me. And humiliated me.

They had humiliated me in front of guests at a Christmas dinner a year before and I swore that I would never darken their door again. My mother accused me of indignities she thought I had committed on someone I met only once.

On New Years Eve 2000 – into 2001, I was working in a bar doing lights. I went into work at 7 pm on New Years Eve and left work around 8 am the next morning with a mound of cash in my wallet. I went to bed and soon after my phone rang, it was my mother on the phone, telling me that they were in Miami and wanted to see me. (They had been here for a week, but only decided to contact me on their way out of town).

I was happy to oblige. They showed up a short time later. My father parked the car in a no parking zone out front of my building and gave me twenty minutes to speak to my mother. We walked around the short block, while he waited in the car. I even offered to take us all out for breakfast, which they categorically said NO to.

Twenty minutes later, my mother got in the car, they drove off and that was the last time I saw my mother.

So that is a thing

In December 2001, I got sober the second time. I was given a computer which led to my meeting people here in Canada. One thing led to another and I received a letter from Canada stating that If I was born between certain dates, and my mother was a Canadian, that I could apply for a birthright citizenship.

Since my mother was still a CANADIAN in 1967, both myself and my brother were afforded birthrights into Canada.

You know what I did right?

I was living in a dead end life, alone, having to choose between paying for food, or paying rent, or buying medication. Because I could not afford to do all three at the same time.

A friend sponsored me into Canada, helping me pay the fees for the application. At Easter time in 2002, April or May, I traveled to Montreal. I stayed two wee
ks. I had filed for citizenship and went back to Miami, packed my belongings, got on a plane, and did not look back.

A few months later, I was living in Verdun. I got a call from Sydney Nova Scotia. An office worker just happened to pick up my envelope and opened it which began the paperwork process officially. Things needed to be added to the file.

It was then that Immigration Canada went after my mother.

Her paperwork was not in order regarding her naturalization papers and her birth certificate. They needed to be fixed OR they would deport her back to Canada. Needless to say my mother was not very happy with me.

I crossed the border. It was all about survival for me. I was going to have a life, or die trying.

That was the last straw for my father. I left the country of my birth, the very country my father fought to defend in Viet Nam. He told me I was spitting on my birthplace and my country.

That was unforgivable.

Once again, I had stabbed my parents in the heart.

Now I repeat … Parents are supposed to raise children into adults who make their way into the world and make something of themselves. And what ever decisions they make, whether you agree with them or not, you should at least respect them for their decisions.

Aren’t parents supposed to acknowledge their children’s successes?

My mother did in fact correct her paperwork and in February of 2003, I became a Canadian Citizen. I hold dual citizenship today.

My parents were not happy with me at all. I worked very hard for two years trying to keep communications open between us, but in the end, I eventually failed.

My Mother’s last words to me were ” If either me or your father die, nobody will call you and nobody will tell you where we are buried.”

We never spoke again.

So I ask you, who was right, and who was wrong? And who is guilty ???

I got married in 2004. I returned to university and earned two degrees. One in Religion and a second in Pastoral Ministry. I spent two years following that in Cegep, because I had those credits afforded to me by the government.

I have been sober 12 and a half years. Since my moving here my family and I have been estranged. And they say, it is All My Fault.

A few years ago, I found my brother on Facebook, and that twisted my heart. I tried to speak to him and he blocked me. And that broke my heart. I thought that we had grown up and could try and reconnect. That did not happen.

Facebook fucked with my sobriety in a big way.

On July 30th, this year 2014, the day before my birthday, my aunt calls to tell me that my father was on Facebook. And while we were on the phone I looked him up and sent him several messages hoping against hope that he would reconnect. He did not.

Once again, Facebook fucked with my sobriety.

On one hand I want redemption, and acknowledgement and finally some dignity and respect. On the other hand, I want to shoot off my mouth and incite anger and make a scene.

Not all very sober motivated actions.

I wrote here and asked the question. I spoke to my sponsor today and hit a meeting tonight.

And I got my answer.

Always Check your motives …

I did what I needed to do. I opened a door. Whether he responds, is entirely up to him, if he does re-engage or he does not re-engage, I am powerless over people, places and things.

I have to go on with my life.

It's My Birthday …

reasonsSome people will say that Facebook is so wonderful because it connects you to people and gives you something to obsess over every day. I would add that Facebook is a double edged sword that on one hand brings me my family of choice, whom I adore.

On the other hand it opens up a can of worms that I’d rather not entertain, but I have a very sick perverse need to make a statement and get a rise out of certain people, because you know what, I am worth respect and dignity. I’ve earned it.

And some people, think I am unworthy and that I should be kept in the dark as a punishment for my choices, all of which were made because of certain people in my life, at that time.

They are the reason I became who I am today.

Hating someone because of their sexual orientation is so 1990 ! Hating someone because they made a decision to make important life decisions to stay alive, housed and fed is just so fucking selfish. I made selfish choices because they had to be made, because my life was on the line. And I wanted to live and live well, not die in a hole by myself.

Parents have children to raise them into well rounded adults who can go out into the world and make something of themselves AND when we grow up, aren’t parents supposed to be supportive and respectful of the choices we made as adults ???

Somewhere along my journey, my life became unimportant therefore, irrelevant of notice and should be scorned to the N’th degree.

To put it mildly, I would like nothing better than to become a battering ram and explode like a motherfucking bomb on certain people.

I live. I Lived. I survived.

I earned a place in this world, and no matter what you may think of me,

And they say that “what people think of me is none of my business.” I grapple with that.

I’ve earned respect, dignity and love.

It is obvious to me that certain people didn’t get that memo. And at this stage of the game at 47 years old, I want to sit on my soapbox, grind my teeth and become a very petulant faggot who is stark raving mad at injustice and ignorance.

I learned how to be petulant and sit on my soapbox when I was diagnosed with AIDS. That anger paid off when I needed it. Because when life depends on the responsibility of others to do a job, (well) that you must rely on for survival and they fail to perform said job well, becoming a cast iron bitch really pays off.

I’ve not forgotten how to be a cast iron bitch.

But they say that “Anger is the dubious luxury of normal men, that an alcoholic cannot afford.”

And on my birthday, at my Men’s Home Group this evening, we talked about anger and resentments from Living Sober.

I’ve learned in the past few years that I am a very nostalgic Queer man. In many ways.

I wax nostalgic about the past. I long for a specific period of my life to repeat itself, with all the people I knew in that life to be alive as well, knowing full well that we cannot go backwards, and the best of times and the worst of times was really, the best years of my life so far. In a way.

I have spent the last few years collecting things from my past. Photographs, memories, music, so forth and so on. The few family members who are active in my life and who love me for who I am have done wonders to help me with those collections.

I am also a very nostalgic alcoholic. Sickly and perversely,

I hold on to old anger and resentment, but they reside in a specific part of my brain, and only when poked at with a stick do I go there. Facebook gives me that stick to poke them with.

It fucks with my brain, my emotions and my sanity.

I think unclean thoughts. I think up old memories and I long to get up, get angry and become a petulant queer just to fuck with them because of the terrible way they have treated me for decades. I go places in my brain that mere mortals should stay away from. My brain is a location that without proper gear and a hard hat and safety goggles, that one should stay out of. Because I can become spiteful and nasty in a moments notice, Zero to Sixty in 2.0 seconds …

No Very Sober At All …

Wonder, I can be safely sane and spit venom from the other side of my mouth all at the same time. I learned this ability from the right people, who do this to me today.

I’ve learned a great deal about wisdom in my growing age. It began when I turned 40. It has been a long journey of learning certain wisdom, because I have enough years behind me to know for sure that I was there, then, and I learned something, and now I have certain hindsight to know wisdom, for sure. One of my guys asked me tonight what did I learn at 47?

I did not have an answer for him, wisdom usually comes after. Not before. And maybe this tirade of injustice will bear fruit and teach me some wisdom? This is how I am feeling at the moment, it is good that I have the ability to be honest and write it all out so that when I speak to my sponsor tomorrow, I can tell him what I said tonight and what happened and why.

Marines are supposed to be Tough. Strong. Honorable. Honest.

Sadly. there is one particular U.S. Marine who is a coward.

It is sad in today’s day and age that people can punish other people, family and ignore them like they do not exist. That we are unimportant. That we don’t matter.

Queer does that to you.

Hate does that to you.

Ignorance does that to you.

AIDS does that to you.

I get to sit here and pound my fist and make my mark in the world. Because if I don’t, who will?

And is it important in the end? They say you can’t get sober and keep ones ego, and that it isn’t all about me, and that I am not really all that important. And that I should accept where I am and thank heaven that I am alive and be grateful for God’s mercy and kindness and love.

It ain’t very sober but I still make the statement … Don’t you know who I am ???

Don’t you want to know, aren’t you curious? More than a decade has passed and I went on with my life despite your hatred and ignorance. Now I want to swing and scream in your face and provoke you to notice me and for once in my life, respect me. Acknowledge me …

That’s all I got. I am spent. Time for dinner.

More to come, stay tuned …

I am here, I survived, and that matters …

Do you believe in Love

Today is my birthday. Last night I got an odd call from my aunt. Strange that she called because we usually speak on Facebook. Nonetheless, she called, and I figured there was a reason for the call, hoping that she had something to give me, and she did.

It seems my estranged father is on Facebook. He had sent my cousin a friend request, which she denied, and so I sent my father one right then and there. My brother is also on Facebook as well, but he has blocked me. So I looked him up while we were talking and started a short conversation with him. I invited him to friend up, and also to come by here and look me up and also sent him my mobile number to see if he would “man up” and call and speak to me in real time.

Today I am 47 years old. And in a maudlin kind of way, I am reflective. I am currently re-reading Halfway Home by the late Paul Monette, who died of AIDS around the time I was diagnosed in 1994.

I wonder if certain people wonder who I am today, and what I have done with my life and how I have chosen to live that life? And I wonder, does it really matter? Yes, it does. For the one fact that I survived a dreadful disease and I lived and that alone should be a point of respect. I have dignity, a life and I live it fully.

I have been sober now almost 13 years. The running joke is that if I lived to see another birthday, I would live to see the next Christmas. So I made it to my birthday today, so I will make it to Christmas.

So many years have gone by for old resentments and anger to fester any longer. I am too old and sober to remain angry and resentful. And I expect that others should be grown up enough to accept life on life’s terms and come to the table, like sane adults.

I matter. I lived. I am alive. I have earned my place in this world. I have earned the respect of my friends and my peers. And I have earned the love of a good man who cares about me and my life, and cares for me like no other has or had.

You just don’t know what years of silence does to someone.You just shut someones light off and plunge them into darkness, it is cruel and unjust. And you should be ashamed of yourself.

Here I am, take it or leave it. This is who I am.

Good and bad.

I lived, God Dammit. Respect !!! You owe me that much. That I lived…