Tuesday: The Four Horsemen

 

A Vision for You …

Never could we recapture the great moments of the past. There was an insistent yearning to enjoy life as we once did and a heartbreaking obsession that some new miracle of control would enable us to do it. There was always one more failure.

Momentarily we did – then would come oblivion and the awful awakening to face the Hideous Four Horsemen – Terror, Bewilderment, Frustration, Despair.

Unhappy drinkers who read this will understand !

This chapter is one of my favorites. Because at the end, this chapter tells us what we really need to know, before we look into our sober bank, and think about helping others.

It came for me late in the game, this realization. And it took some one much more sober than I was to point it out to me. And I learned the lesson.

Did you know that when we drank the Four Horsemen followed us around, without us ever noticing them, until we took that last drink. Looking back …

Did you also know that the Four Horsemen, follow us around in sobriety as well ?

Shit does not only happen to us while we drank. Shit happens when we get sober too.

And if I am Honest, when shit happened to me in sobriety, not many sober people wanted to know me, help me, or give me any kind of support, one way or another.

You never know when it is going to hit you. That one Event, That one Tragedy, That one Serious Illness, or That Next Drink.

They never warned me that sobriety could be so difficult.

I know, in the past, that I had known several women, in the rooms, who hit the shit storm, and had to muddle their way through ALONE.

Let’s just say that, after the way that people treated me, over the past year, I am a bit more harsh on people. I am a bit more Honest with my words and warnings.

I’ve spent the past fifteen years and eight months of my sobriety listening to people talk. I’ve watched them act. I’ve watched them go back out.

Some returned, many did not.

You think that what I have to say means something other than a warning to:
NOT DO THAT YOURSELF ???

If people put so much meaning into what I write or what I say, you’d think, that everybody would be long sober now.

If words mean everything, and we should taste our words before we SPIT THEM OUT, do you think that I did not think through every word I have written here over the past fifteen years?

This running record of sobriety AND my life experience is the greatest wealth of information someone suffering from the disease of alcoholism may ever read.

If we are not honest with people about everything, and if we sugar coat our words and always say YES to everyone and not rock the boat, and we let our friends continue to do stupid things, then what are we getting sober for ?

If we do not share the messages of HOPE as well as the Messages of WARNINGS, then what do we have to give?

Sobriety is not pretty. It does get ugly. And Sober people can be assholes.

I know this is true. When the four horsemen visited me on that one day that I fell to the ground and sobbed on my knees, a long sober man called me irrational and a child.

Everybody continues to blow smoke up his ass to this day, and every time I see one of those people, they stay well away from me !

I’m tired of being the pretty gay boy who loves everyone and never says the word NO to anyone. I’m tired of having to eat shit from people who turned their backs on me.

I sat in one particular room for a solid year, talking, begging, for someone to step up and help me. Not One Soul Stepped up and Helped me.

People who are long sober, look at me and say nothing.

That’s the God’s honest Truth.

Sobriety is worth every penny you invest in it. Sobriety is NOT a cake walk. Sobriety is not pretty, when it really gets UGLY. And not every sober person wants to be your friend.

People look at me and think I AM CRAZY ??? That nothing I have to say to them matters, and that the way I work my program is stupid and unnecessary ?

The Second time you really have to work for it.

I will tell you that the first time around there was a boy who could not string a week together. And for FOUR YEARS he was stuck in that revolving door. I could not figure out why he could not “Get It.”

And you know, I had to go back out MYSELF, to understand the SLIP properly.

So you think that I waste my time writing here and talking to the air night after night, and you think that what I say is wrong or rude or inappropriate ?

UNBECOMING a SOBER member of A.A. ??

Fuck You.

I worked my ass off from day one. I did EVERY single thing I was told to do, EVERYTHING.

  • I got a home group
  • I did service
  • I made coffee and set up tables and chairs
  • I went to thousands of meetings
  • I worked Steps and More Steps and More Steps Over and Over
  • I went back to university at age 36 and got TWO degrees
  • I got Married in Sobriety
  • I lived 23 years longer than I was supposed to Living with AIDS
  • I am still alive today
  • And I hit FIFTY years old last month

I fucking worked my ass off. And I talk about people, who cannot be bothered to even lift their little finger to get sober. Who moan about God and the Steps and Spirituality.

Oh For Fucks sake … Read the God damned Book

More to the point READ HOW IT WORKS and tell me if you understand the concept of HONESTY ????

YES ???

NO ???

People from other places told me, front and center, that if I did not work my ass off, that sobriety would mean nothing and that I would not learn one God damned thing.

If I did not WORK. And PRAY. And Serve. And Give.

I did that for years and years, and what did I get for that effort ? NADA !

I have a handful of good friends. I can count them on two hands.

I sponsor people, who care about me. I don’t waste my time with takers and users.

Time is precious. And sobriety is precious.

If you are not willing to do the work, then don’t waste my time.

The Four Horsemen are always there. And keeping them away is a full-time job.

TERROR – BEWILDERMENT – FRUSTRATION – DESPAIR

Welcome …

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It seems that people are a little incensed with honesty.

To that end, I have scrubbed all my posts of a sensitive nature and placed them behind password protections. So that you don’t have to read my sober ramblings about town.

This is my blog. My personal space to write. And this is not going to become fodder for others to tell me what I can and cannot write about.

You have a choice, you can Stay or you can Go and never return.

Many people read this blog around the world. And if I take it down that deprives them of my content. If you don’t like what you see here, you are welcome to just leave.

In our Friday meeting the PREAMBLE states,

You can take the message outside this room, but names and personal details stay here.

I share stories and observations. Honestly.

At age FIFTY I have earned my right to say anything I damned well please.

Your sobriety is about you, and what you choose to do with it.

I just share what I see, hear and witness so that my readers can make an informed decision about what kind of sobriety they want for themselves, by reading the troubles and mistakes so many people make over time.

And yes, by the way, I have some time.

I know what worked for me, because I am still sober today.

Because sobriety and meetings are testing grounds. And spending over fifteen years listening to my friends and fellows talk, make stupid decisions, go back out, and really fuck up their lives, taught me all the right things, and to stay away from all the very wrong things in sobriety.

Welcome.

Sunday Sundries: Ottawa Trip

 

It was very moving to see the First People’s of Canada led the parade ahead of our Prime Minster and his guests. The Indigenous community has first place of honor in our Pride Parades this year, both here in Montreal and in Ottawa today.

 

I am home from a Whirl Wind trip to Ottawa to visit my best friend.

I took an early bus out, because I arrived at the station earlier than I had anticipated, so they let me on an early bus.

Pictured above … The Pride Parade in Ottawa this afternoon. The Honorable Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, fellow Parliamentarians, and The Honorable Kathryn Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, led today’s parade through the streets of the Gay Village in Ottawa.

You can see the Private Security AND the POLICE. And I have to say there was one particularly HUMPY officer on a bike … WOOF !!

As the Prime Minister marched past us, a counter demonstration was coming back at us from the wrong direction, chanting “NO COPS in the PRIDE PARADE …” As many Officers on their bikes were riding with them in the opposite direction.

There were TWO Counter COP protest groups in today’s parade.

If I had the chance, several of them would have had broken limbs, had the cops not been escorting them, against the tide.

Nuff said about those asshole …

Unlike last year, the sun was out and we got quite burned standing on the sidewalk on the sunny side of the street. We took up several positions as the parade came past us.

It was much bigger, and many more groups marched this year. Last year it pissed down rain all afternoon.

All of the Political Parties had groups marching. The Canadian Military Services also marched, and one of their buses was in the parade itself. And we thought this funny that the Military Band that marched in the parade was playing … wait for it …

IT’S RAINING MEN ….

By the Weather Girls. My bestie said to me as they came past that they should have been playing “In the Navy” by the Village People. Both songs would have been appropriate.

We have some seriously good-looking men in uniform.

It was a good day, that ended in a Second Cup over coffee and conversation.

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Friday …

I arrived around 5 o’clock into Ottawa, and we had reservations to see Kontinuum.

Ontario is building a METRO system in Ottawa Proper. due to open next year.

There are two lines, A North – South Branch and an East West Branch running through downtown Ottawa, Several Stations will be servicing Parliament Hill, in the area, almost adjacent to The Hill.

Kontinuum, is a Multi Sensory, Light, Video and Sound show that was built to highlight the Metro System, under ground. The stations are not yet complete. So as we entered the System, we came in on One Side of the station, where we were greeted by a sensory overload light show that began above ground with a movie, sound and light show.

Over the next half hour we moved underground, into that station, as light, sound and video showcased the Metro System. On the Track platform, which hosted both sides of the station, like we have here, an inbound and an outbound track. Sound and light served both sides of the platform.

It was quite dynamic.

I have video of the tunnel, but this blog does not have video functions …

UGH .

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Saturday …

 

Saturday was a full plate kind of day. With my friends Parliament Hill Access, and an invitation from a Member of Parliament, we got in to see Parliament Hill, from the Inside. A beautiful day.

 

Parliament Hill is a beautiful building, with many different rooms. Every part of the building and every sculpture, column, room, carving and marble floor tile, has a specific meaning. Elements from ALL over Canada went into building the site. As Parliament Hill went up, and Canada grew into Confederation, and all the provinces and territories were at some point, all are represented in the building itself.

We saw the House of Commons, which is done in shades of green. Each seat in the room is party specific. The murals on the walls, and the wood carvings around the room as well, all have stories attached to them.

 

The Senate Chamber is Red. And also there as well, there are meanings carved in the wood, the murals in the hall, and as well, in both committee meeting rooms, that are used during the week for consultations and deliberations of House Business.

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Parliament Hill, we Toured the Canadian National War Museum.

The War museum is a HUGE building. And tells the story of the men who served Canada in all of the wars and conflicts, around the world, over time. I do not know, on my grandmothers side of the Canadian branch of family, if anyone in that branch, served in any military campaigns. I need to go look through my family tree. I do have one here at home.

The museum is beautiful and tragic. Sad and Sorrow filled. So many men lost their lives over the century. And the War Museum gives their stories, tells of their service, and honors their sacrifice to a grateful nation that is Canada.

At Parliament Hill, in the Memorial Hall, is listed every soul who lost his life serving our country. We saw the Peace Tower on my last trip.

Myself as well as my best friend, we are both immigrants to Canada.

Both of us Citizens of Canada.

One can get misty eyed while walking those hallowed halls of memory, and think of all those men, who took on the evil of war, many died, but also many came back. And Canada honors their service to our country.

It was an amazing experience. Last Summer when I went to Ottawa, we were both on the hill together, watching a light show on Parliament Hill, and as new citizens, together at the same time, ON the HILL, as they played Oh Canada … I wept.

That was the most important night of my Canadian Life.

I did not get a citizenship meetings, nor a hand shake, nor the anthem, when I got my papers in the mail, just a Welcome to Canada letter, from our Now Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, who was serving as Immigration Minister when I became a citizen.

As we exited the Museum, I said to my friend that, unlike many Canadians, we did not have any blood connection to anyone represented in that museum. But nonetheless, we were moved to tears in the halls, and we honored their memories, by sharing in this tour together.

We Honored all the men and women who served our Country.

Because War is not just a male oriented duty. Because we know that when a man went to war, his wife, girlfriend, family, and community did their fair share of service, IN service of the war and the men fighting over seas.

We all played a part in the success of the men who served, by doing what we could to serve the greater good, when it mattered. And in death, there are MANY memorials scattered all over Ottawa, for us to visit and REMEMBER …

Right across the street from the War Museum a monument to the Holocaust is going up. It will be another beautiful monument to the survivors and all of those who died in the worst genocide the world has ever seen.

The unspoken genocide that took place right here in our Country was the eradication of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. The Government, and we as citizens, are on the road to mending those very valuable relationships, and the people who survived that very hushed genocide of those who were here First. Which is why they are front and center of Pride Parades in Canada this year.

Every time I go to Ottawa, my visits are always educational oriented.

With every step in Ottawa you take, you walk on hallowed ground. Every stone in the ground, every building that is restored or maintained, every monument that goes up, every park you sit in, and every street you walk down, has a connection to the history of the men, women, and indigenous Peoples who inhabited this land, well before the white man came to this area of Ontario.

There are thousands of stories to learn, and to be heard. There are many, MANY lessons to be learned about the history of Canada and her people’s.

Ottawa is a city of Remembrance.

And we are making slow but serious strides to heal the rift that exists between its First People’s and what we took from them, and returning what is rightly theirs to begin with by honoring their stories and their people, from yesterday and today.

And tonight, I am a lot more grateful to the country I call home.

Because of the sacrifice of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect this nation and the world at large from the evils and horrors of war.

We also must commend all the men and women and their service to build this wonderful city of Ottawa, and its myriad of museums, so that no story goes untold, nor forgotten.

We Remember …

Immigration Woes

In the early 1970’s, my family had made their second house move to a larger home and into a new area of Miami. By the time we began school, in the early 1970’s, the Mariel Boat Lift had begun.

Thousands of Cubans were fleeing the island of Cuba for a better life in the United States. They came by boat, they came by inner tubes, they came by any means that would carry them across the ninety miles between Havana and Key West.

Florida really had no other choice. People were coming and they needed assistance. Many were deported back to the island in the Wet Foot Dry Foot laws took hold.

Many, Many Cubans came and settled into Miami, building a truly remarkable community that rose over my lifetime.

In school there were two paths to education.

  1. The White – American English Path and
  2. The Bi-lingual Spanish English Path

My brother took the White path, where I took the latter.

I was educated in English AND Spanish for the whole of my educational career. I learned the second language and welcomed it into my life. Decades later, it would be the Cuban community that came to my rescue when I was so very sick and was going to die.

They held me up and cared for me.

I feel like I welcomed them as a child, and as an adult, they welcomed me.

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

Today … In Quebec, and across Canada, migrants, and immigrants and asylum seekers, are crossing our borders by any means possible. And last Winter we watched, devastatingly, what happened to men, women and children who suffered in the biting cold of the dead of Winter, crossing the border North, to get away from Donald Trump and his presidency.

There are thousands of immigrants sitting in tents on the New York – Quebec border crossing that is just a dirt road in the middle of no where.

There are those, protesters that are against allowing immigrants over the border, seeming to just allowing them access to Canada, without the red tape.

That is NOT the case.

But I have said that if this trend continues, and Summer turns into Fall and then Fall turns into Winter, crossing the border, once again, is going to become deadly dangerous.

And we, as citizens need to step up and do what we have to do to make sure everyone finds a home, and fast.

Our Prime Minster has spoken on the issue and guarantees immigrants entry, but with the legal and moral conditions that are in place. There will be no easy ride into citizenship. Everyone will be processed legally and by the book.

I waited almost a year for my birthright, and it was a fluke that it took the short course it did, because of a kind immigration official in Sydney Nova Scotia.

Just the same, Canada is a country that is SAFE, FREE and STABLE.

The rumor that it will be a cakewalk and easy to get over the border and get citizenship is NOT TRUE. Haitians and anyone else crossing the border, will be met by immigration authorities and will be processed legally and respectfully.

We have not heard about Canada repatriating people back over the border nor deporting them just the same. We will do what we can, but there is NO guarantee that your application will be accepted and that citizenship IS a guarantee.

Acceptance and Citizenship are NOT guaranteed.

You will be processed like any one else asking for admittance into Canada.

The United States has fallen on hard times with the election of Donald Trump and millions of people are on the receiving end of his threats.

What can we do ? We can do what we can to help our fellows find homes, schools for their children and jobs for their parents.

We need to let go our Nationalism and our demonstrations against those now crossing the border.

We need to step up and be charitable and kind and loving.

It’s a really good thing that Haitians and others speak variations of Creole, French and African languages. Because French is not at odds with either. We have vibrant communities from ALL OVER the world here.

And we can accommodate everyone, in time, as we are able.

We need to be understanding and patient.

But we also need to tell the Haitian Communities South of the border, that crossing the border carries with it NO GUARANTEES of CITIZENSHIP or IMMIGRANT STATUS.

These words need to be shared.

Canada will welcome you, but it won’t be the easy road you believe it will be if you arrive on our doorstep. You will take the same path everyone else takes.

And come Fall and the beginning of Winter, the odds of survival get smaller, because I would horror a guess what it is going to look like here in Quebec, in the DEAD of WINTER, like we saw on the Prairies last Winter in Manitoba and Alberta.

You cross at your own peril as the seasons change.

Be very careful with your decisions.

We are Canadian. And everyone deserves to live safely, freely and without fear.

Just know if you come here, you will wait like everyone else.

Wednesday: Diabetes … What’s New ?

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On Tuesday afternoon, a Micro Burst ran over the city.

In a matter of FIVE minutes, yes, FIVE minutes, entire sections of the city were FLATTENED to the GROUND.

Trees, Houses, Buildings, and Cars were CRUSHED …
Lights were knocked down, electricity was out for thousands of people across the island.

Parks with CENTURY old trees that have stood for ages, were snapped like twigs and scattered all over the ground, in the road and on sidewalks.

On my way to the doctors office, in NDG, one of the hardest hit areas of the Western section of the island of Montreal, when I came OUT of the Metro (there was electricity in the tunnels) and walked the 100 yards to the building where my doctors are, there were entire TREES down IN THE STREET, blocking traffic and the bike lanes.

The power was out above ground. And the building I was going to was working on emergency generators for elevators and lights. We sat in the dark because there was little light to be had.

That was a thing …

My new doctor, a very kind and funny Lady doc, took over my file a month ago. She is a specialist with combined knowledge of HIV and Diabetes and Triglycerides.

I had begin Insulin about two months ago. And we began at 10 units, that was followed up with a trial of twenty units, which failed. I could not handle the rise in insulin so fast.

We settled on 19, which funny enough, worked.

I was on 19 units a day for a month. I’ve been on Trulicity once a week, and Invokana daily. I dropped labs on Monday. And my A1C was at 13.

I gained 5 pounds and am sitting at 167. FUCK !!! Keto Diet is still in motion.

I was warned that Insulin will make one hungry and when one is hungry, one eats.

Not that I have been eating junk, mind you. I haven’t. But I did add some lunch food daily that is palm sized portions, which is, by my nutritionists rules, acceptable.

I suffer from mild lipodystrophy in my tummy, that I can’t seem to break, my ass is just fine, thank you very much. But I am eternally, a little bit pregnant …

We dropped the Invokana, because new data has shown a prevalence of shorter longevity and a rise in amputations of lower body parts.We added Jardiance, a drug that is in the same class as Invokana. With less amputation fears.

This morning I hit an 8 in my morning stick. Not that I have been checking my blood for the last month, MY BAD… ugh !!!

Anyways, she wants me to hit 6’s or 7’s in my morning stick. And to that end we are going to start insulin at 20, that was this morning.

I will check my blood every morning. And if the number does NOT go DOWN, we tick another unit up, into the pen, until we hit the optimum number of 6 or 7.

There is room to increase insulin safely.

However, when I stuck my insulin this morning I got one serious headache. It was massive, and I took some meds and took a nap, hoping it would go away.

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My triglycerides have come down from 15 to 7. Still not out of the woods, as my doc would like, she wants them lower. UGH ! Still 7 is a good round number.

We are trying NOT to add any more drugs to mys system unless medically warranted for one reason or another. There are drugs that can be prescribed to lower my triglycerides via further drug treatment.

The Insulin (TouJeo) I am on, brings those numbers down naturally. So while that is working ever so slowly, we are going to stay the course.

More to come.

Monday: The Language of the Heart

 

Courtesy: Michael Shainblum Photography

There was an incredible Solar Eclipse earlier today… I slept right through it. But I have an amazing image to show you, if you missed it.

Overheard at the Meeting tonight: Imagine … How many people stopped their lives to look up at the sun, all at the same time, across the globe. What an amazing day it was.

Yesterday afternoon, Hubby was admitted to the Jewish General Hospital Emergency for an emergency operation to remove a sub-sebacious cyst on his lower spine. The operation was a success, and he was home, inside of three hours, post op.

Today was spent in follow-up doctors appointments and trips between home and the pharmacy. All is well.

This morning, well, at  6′ o clock a.m. I was up to go drop labs for my diabetes blood work, since being on Teujeo insulin now 2 months.

I got there uber early, so that I could get in and out quickly. Which is where this post will materialize. When you check in at the desk, they swipe your cards and file your work into the computer system for your bar code stickers for your vials.

I sat down with a young lady, who was going to do the deed. She asked my name and my birth date. I responded as usual, then added that I had just turned fifty a couple of weeks ago.

With a little amazement, she asked me how fifty felt ? I told her that I did not know yet, being so close to the epicenter. I furthered that explanation with what happened to me when I turned forty and beyond.

That, it was at the forty mark and beyond that point, that I began to have spiritual experiences, in the way I saw the world around me and what I actually could say, with some certainty, that I KNEW things for sure.

I was using spiritual language, like I knew what I was talking about, and the words came out so freely. She responded with …

Well, that happened to me when she turned thirty. She said …

She told me that she had heard things all her life from her parents and family and that when she hit the thirty mark, she had the same feeling of enlightenment.

For a moment I was jealous, thinking, “Shit, you mean I could have had that for me at thirty, had I been in the game of growing up when I hit thirty ???”

I did not say that, but it was what I was thinking in the moment.

I missed thirty, thirty-one until I finally hit thirty-four, when I got sober the second time and had made the decision to grow up finally. AND even then, it took a further six years of sobering up and learning what life as a grown man would look like, and how I would inhabit being a grown up man for myself.

When I turned forty and years after, if you have been following this blog all those years ago, you would have read the way my life changed in miraculous ways over the last ten years.

Last Monday we talked about resentments from the resentment section of the steps. I did not get a chance to share before the hour was up.

Tonight we read the passage in Step Nine, and the Ninth Step Promises.

“The Spiritual life is not a theory … One must LIVE a spiritual life.”

How one does that, follows the process of sobriety.

Along with the Preamble, we repeatedly hear How it Works, The Promises, and A Vision for You, over and over again.

Our chair read the Promises. And everyone in the room got to think about them, from their perspective, in their specific sober experience.

Having been sober this long, and being fifty now, I see the wisdom of the Promises as they happened for me, what order they came in, and when the final Promise we had been waiting for to come, did finally come.

“FEAR OF PEOPLE AND OF ECONOMIC INSECURITY WILL LEAVE US …”

That was the last one to come, and it only took thirteen years of waiting for it.

We just were not sitting on our asses begging God to just give that one to us.

Over the long history of our relationship, I would read a passage, hear it talked about in a discussion, and then hear a speaker talk about it in a speaker meeting.

Then God would say, “OK, Now you’ve heard all you need to know. NOW go work it out for yourself.” And so it was.

We would get a glimpse of freedom, as each day, week, month, and year that passed.

God would give us a peek, a little money, and we had to learn how to use it wisely, save it when necessary, and spend it where applicable.

Life was like that. God would give me a glimpse of what life would look like. That happened over and over again.

We certainly had our work cut out for us, on every aspect of sober life. It was not a cake walk, by any means. We learned our lessons well.

Imagine how many times you hit meetings over almost sixteen years, and hear those same readings, over and over again.

That is what is really GOOD about the BIG BOOK. Because the book tells us, right on page 112, In the chapter – To Wives … READ THIS BOOK.

If you are in step work, you would know about reading the book. Safe to say, I’ve been reading this book, over and over for more than fifteen years.

Now I am Fifty. What kind of wisdom do I have about the book today ?

I don’t know, I’d have to sit and think about this a little bit.

We shall explore this topic further in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Suffice to say, I shared a spiritual experience with a complete stranger this morning and that was a blessing for her and for me.

You never know who you will sit with on any given morning and what they might ask you.

More to come.