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.

Is There A God ?

I don’t know whether you, my readers, believe in God. That’s not for me to know, or concern myself with. What you believe is entirely up to you.

For me, God has been a constant in my life, from my earliest memories. And I followed him religiously for a few years, even ending up in Seminary to follow Him. All for naught !

He has been constant in my life, even when I chose to ignore him. Taking paths, I knew were wrong, making decisions that were also wrong, and almost dying in the process, to feed my own ego and selfishness.

He was there. Just waiting for me to turn my will over.

Tonight, we talked about Step Eleven.

SOUGHT THROUGH PRAYER AND MEDITATION, TO IMPROVE OUR CONSCIOUS CONTACT WITH GOD AS WE UNDERSTOOD HIM, PRAYING ONLY FOR KNOWLEDGE OF HIS WILL FOR US AND THE POWER TO CARRY THAT OUT.

Over the last eighteen years, I’ve witnessed countless men and women battle the word God. People from religious backgrounds, Jews, Christians, Muslims, you name it. I’ve seen it, in the rooms.

The shares went around the room, and NOT ONE person, said the word Thank You or uttered the word Gratitude.

When it got to me, I said one sentence.

IF YOU WOKE UP THIS MORNING, THERE IS A GOD …

When I got deathly sick, AND, I was going to surely die, God was the last thought on my mind. I was too consumed with dying, to think about anything else.

Todd, had other plans for me.

He gave me latitude to work it out. He gave me a framework to survive. He taught me lessons, mere mortals on this earth, have ever learned, or will ever learn.

I have mad skills in the area of coping and sobriety, taught directly from the Mind of God. Voiced by Todd.

I will tell you, I met God. I know His voice. He saved my life.

For many weeks and months as I waited for the day to come, that I was supposed to be dead, arrive, then more days came after that, AND I was still alive, Todd – Read God’s words rang true to me.

I turned my will and my life over to Todd, as I understood him, improving my conscious contact and learning what God’s will for me really was.

I did not die.

I am still alive.

What was all this for ?

Mortals don’t know gratitude if it snuck up behind them and bit them in the ass.

We are all going to die one day. Mortals don’t worry about dying, until they know for sure the end is nigh… Then they pray … But not before.

People are too busy to think about Please and Thank you.

I learned long ago to say Thank you.

Old timers, really GOOD old timers tell you that before you roll out of bed, the first words out of your mouth, IF you woke up that morning, are:

THANK YOU.

The second thing you do, AS you roll out of bed, is to hit your knees and pray. The third thing you do, after you pray, is to Make Your Bed.

Right Away.

Not one person said the word thank you, even the old timers sitting in the circle, did not say those words.

I don’t know why I am still alive. And what I am supposed to be doing here. But I pray. I talk to God. The one way conversation people talk about.

The Vertical Conversation.

Then I sit and I wait. And I listen. Meditation.

If the answer does not come directly from God, via intuition, I know I have to go out and seek the answer among my friends.

The Horizontal Conversation.

But my ears must be tuned to hear what ever it is God is going to say to me, and let me tell you, that took a lotta practice and a lotta time too.

If you ask the right question in prayer, and you need to seek the answer out, then you know, you must actively listen to your friends.

ACTIVELY LISTENING is the key.

This is my nightly meditation, to come here and reflect on my day, and write it all down, when necessary. Because I will forget by morning.

If you woke up this morning, There Is A God …

Thankfully, I am not God,
and my navel is not the center of the universe.

Thank God for small mercies.

And Lots of Gratitude.

NO is a complete sentence !!!

Who really has our best interest in mind ? Our parents, our family, our husbands, or our wives ?

It has been said that NO is a complete sentence.

If you have heard these words spoken, you know who I got them from.
She is very famous.

As children, our parents are supposed to do the right thing and keep us safe, to keep us from personal harm, and from making mistakes. When my parents said the word NO, it came with usual violence that followed.

I reflect that as a boy, listening to my parents talk among their friends, I learned a great deal about what was coming. The abuse heaped on me was high, and that usually coincided with something I heard them say.

I knew right from wrong. Obviously. Disobedience was usually met with abuse, from both my father and my mother. Alcoholism was the fuel.

I’ve often said that, and I repeated this story earlier tonight, with one of my guys, that as a teen ager, I was an upstanding citizen, employee and friend.

I had the right friends, I had the right jobs. But that all changed when you introduced alcohol into my life. Then, everything went out the window.

I forgot …

How many of us forget things when we drink ?

Alcoholism followed me out into the world, and was waiting to take me down, on the first occasion I walked into a club and drank. Coming out, as I did, IN a club, with the people I wanted around me, with the right music, and experience, made that night epic. And it was.

Nobody was there to say NO. Never, ever.

From twenty one, until I hit twenty five, No was not part of my lexicon.

Until the night I walked into that bar, unawares of who was watching me then. I got my drink, took a stool, and sat down, surveying the environs of that little hole in the wall. It was definitely rough and tumble. And I was definitely looking for rough and tumble.

Then Todd stepped out of the shadows and made his entrance, said hello and changed the course of my life. I’ve said before that encountering Todd, in my memory, was akin to meeting Almighty God, Incarnate.

Because in time, I would seriously need God.

Todd knew I was looking for trouble, and in one cursory inspection of me, inside and out, he figuratively said the word NO.

That was the first time I reflect that thought, here. I’ve never said that before and had not thought of it before.

I got my way into his employ.

My drinking followed.

After a crash and burn suicide experience, and trying to drink myself dead, for the first time, both Todd and Bill, sat me down and tried to get me some much needed help. Suicide survivors meetings, will make anyone drink more than they had originally started with.

A year later … On July 8th 1994, the world caved in on me and I was diagnosed with AIDS. Told to go home, kiss my ass goodbye, and wait to die.

I called Todd home from Provincetown and I told him I was gonna die.

He said and I quote …. NOT ON MY WATCH !!!

Over the next 46 days, I attempted to kill myself.

On the 46th night, drunken and in a coma in a club parking lot, Todd appeared with my friend Danny. That night, Todd definitely said the word

NO !

“This has got to stop. And I am going to make it stop, if it kills me in the attempt.”

As a young gay boy, nobody had ever said the word no to me. I could command, just about anything. Alcohol, Drugs, Sex …

Nobody ever denied me my pleasure, because, I was young, tanned and good looking.

Give someone AIDS, and UGLY goes deep to the bone.

You don’t know what it is like to go from Hero to Zero in twenty four hours flat. To have your family, your friends, and your boyfriend, go running for the hills, never to return, or support you.

I was alone. But was I really alone ? NO

Todd was the only human concerned with keeping me alive. I said this earlier tonight, He could have chosen anyone else in that bar, to save. He chose me. Don’t ask me why, but he chose me.

If I had to hazard a guess, I would call that Divine Intervention.

These stories are all stacked in my PAGES —> over there.

The discussion of the word NO has been on going for the last month, or short a month by a few days.

Todd knew what I needed. He was the only man on earth who knew that kind of information. The day he told me that I could, and should trust him, I knew I could trust him. Implicitly.

He never spoke a cross word to me. He got angry for sure, many times because in the beginning I was willful, arrogant, and stupid.

I learned quickly, that if he looked at me directly, and I saw how either BLUE or GREY his eyes were, told me all I needed to know, without a word spoken between us.

I told my friend tonight that NO is a complete sentence.

We are lucky in this life to be able to count, just ONE other person, in our life, the one who has our best interest in mind. Today, I am that one person for a few people. As is my husband for me.

In reality, my husband does not hold a candle to Todd. They are completely different people. Todd’s role in my life was EPIC. And I will never see that kind of EPIC again.

Many nights, Todd said NO to me for one reason or another. And over time I trusted everything he said to me, as if it was God speaking wisdom, because if you look at me today, and wonder why I am still alive?

There are only two possible answers: Todd read God.

I knew that obedience was key. I learned that early on. In our dynamic leather relationship, I was obedient to one man, Todd.

He kept me safe from myself. He kept me safe from everybody else. I was on a very short leash, so to speak, AND I was sober too. Or getting sober.

The Fidelious Charm he erected over the bar worked its magic.

I spent many, many hours, inside that charm filled space. It became the proving grounds for life lessons, love lessons, and survival lessons.

All that Todd was and is today, is deep within me. Every word spoken, every lesson he taught me, every ounce of love he had for me too. I don’t need anyone’s approval. I can even pat myself on the back if need be.

I don’t need anyone to do that for me today.

Confidence, Humility, Compassion, Love …

The day I said goodbye to Todd, he said these words to me ..

If you do one thing, in this life, you will help another human being the way I helped you. You must carry forwards good fortune and love. Because if you don’t, I was a waste of time.

Todd, for sure, was NO waste of time, or effort, on his part.

It has been many years since the last time I spoke to Todd, but I have. I don’t have his number any longer, because it is filed on an old hard drive that is sitting in a box, in my bedroom.

You never know when GOD is going to step out of heaven and grace your life. Will you know it when it happens?

We are connected to all that is, by the particles that make us human. Those biological building blocks that began the universe UP THERE !!!

A little bit of the universe is found within each of us. Deep within the make up of our bodies. The universe, UP THERE, is filled with the building blocks of life, OUT THERE. It seeded the earth and human came to be.

So that little piece in us, is directly connected to the whole of the universe. We are connected, by invisible umbilical to the universe Out There.

The universe is always listening. For we are connected to it temporally.

The universe knows what we need before we think it. But the universe respects our free will, it never imposes itself on us. But gradually entices us with breadcrumbs, and Angelic, and Godly counsel.

We should be so blessed to recognize God when He shows up.

I know God. I’ve met Him, in the flesh. He spoke to me, He cared for me and kept me alive, to do, this … To talk about Him and what he means to me, to certain people in my circle.

I’m still alive. There is no question God had something to do with it. However, in the thick of dying, I never thought about God, I thought about Todd. Because it was Todd, who had my best interest at heart.

And I would love to think, if he met me in the flesh today, he would be pleased with the man I became.

There is a God, and I am not God, and my navel is not the center of the universe.

If you don’t have humility for the simplicity of life, you loose…


We Will Lose Interest in Selfish Things

They say, or it has been said, “That at some point, you are going to hear someone tell your story.”

When it comes to storytelling, there is not another human being, on the English side, who has a story like mine. All the men I knew, in early sobriety, who had AIDS, are long since dead. I am the last.

Which leaves a sparse gay community of men, in my social circle, who are still alive today. I don’t have anything to do with those gay men, because our community is quite fractured.

Reciprocal friendships are hard to come by.

I am grateful that I have a handful of reciprocal friends. It may be a character defect that, people might think of us, by the by, and make the out call. I don’t sit at home and wait for an out call. I cannot be bothered to do that today.

I spoke about the Old Brewery Mission Meeting, that I attend on Sunday mornings. I like my Mission folks. They are great men and women. The Matriarchs are headed to Egypt right now for a three week tour of Cairo, the Nile river, and Saqqara.

The cycle of speaker/chair was interrupted Sunday. So I stepped in to chair and one of my friends, was asked to speak, as we restart the chain again.

Like I said above, at some point someone is gonna tell your story. I also said that nobody in this city, has my specific story. But, I heard my friend, on Sunday, tell his story. There are common themes between us.

When we drink and/or use, that theme is a constant because, if you are in the room, you abused the drink and the drugs. I’ve been dissecting my story over the years, and I can say that, when I was much younger, I was a good kid. I was a good son (take that or leave it), I was a good citizen, a good employee, and I was responsible, until alcohol took over.

As a younger employee, I really was not interested in drinking all the time, it wasn’t something I did regularly. Only when invited out to drink with friends, or when we threw a party in high school.

When alcohol was present, I became absent. I know this.

I had some of the best jobs a kid could have, growing up. I did really well, under pressure, and I did my job, as was needed.

When I moved away from home, with the delusion that was given to my inner memory bank, I was of single vision.

“Drink your way in, Wait for fireworks.”

I had eyes for one particular apartment, in a particular complex, that I clearly could not afford. I had a new car, that I could not afford either, and I had a job, that I went to, but in the end, everything was lost.

It is amazing to me, how selfish I became when it came to the procurement of alcohol. You cannot imagine, the amounts of alcohol I poured into my system on a weekly basis. And how narrow my honesty became.

The alcohol might have “gotten me in the door” but it did not “keep me in the club,” so to speak. Addicts and Alcoholics will lie, cheat and steal from their mothers, to score …

I justified my alcoholism against the abuse heaped upon me by my father. I called it Pay Back. All the lies I told, to hit my father where it hurt, worked.

I got the car.

But a lifetimes worth of resentments followed. And my father went to his grave, never knowing me, or even speaking my name on his deathbed.

We believe, for a while, that the drink and the drugs work, because we are getting one over on everybody else. Until that stops working.

OR

UNTIL A STOP SIGN APPEARS….

Like my friend on Sunday, we both got hit with the Stop Sign.

We both got deathly ill, and death WAS a foregone conclusion. We were both supposed to die. Thankfully, we are both, still, very alive.

We both knew what we did, once doctors told us we were going to die. My friend had serious health issues, that he found a work around to drink. Even at the worst of times, he figured out how to get and drink alcohol.

In my worst of time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, was excruciating. I was watching what was going on around me, in real time. The very ugly, painful, miserable, march to death, for my friends with AIDS.

I knew what was coming, and I had decided from the get go that I was not going to go out that way. I wasn’t doing drugs so much, but I was surely drinking to kill myself. As fast as I could hasten death, would have been good.

My friend, at his blotto end, found recovery, via rehabilitation.

I did not.

Rehab came to me, in the guise of Todd (read:God).

I had a room to go to. And I had a job. The room was not so healthy for me, neither was the bar, because what right alcoholic in recovery, makes his money working in a bar, of all places ?

I did. Because Todd was my boss.

All those negative things we do in active addiction, at some point, comes to a halt. And we have a choice to make. Go on to the bitter end, or we decide to live.

Selfish things, became something I was made aware of early on. The easiest way to change this tape, in our heads, is to actively do work against our wills.

Those would be: Hitting a meeting, or working with others.

I did hit meetings. but more importantly, I did not only work with others, I worked for others. Todd knew, that the less I thought about ME, or thought about what was going on in my head, the better.

The Brain/Thought Partition method worked wonders.

My friend having lived this long, volunteers several days a week, at Hospitals, Rehabs, and the Old Brewery Mission. He knows what to do today, to lengthen his life.

It was through hard work, on a daily basis, that saved me. You cannot avoid the specter of death, when everyone around you is dying. And selfishly, they choose to drink and drug themselves sick, into death. I watched this selfish behavior go on under our roof.

True, that family, friends, lovers, and employers had tossed all of these very sick men to the curb to die alone. We could not care for so many, all at once. It was way too much to take in and handle.

It was truly the worst of times.

But, there were some of us, who did whatever we could, on a nightly basis, to ease the pain, somewhat. We had what were, at the time, the best healthcare providers, we could find. Because there were NO dedicated doctors or clinics.

Hospitals would begrudgingly take AIDS patients into lock down, sterile wards, as nurses and doctors would MOON SUIT UP to touch us, fearing for their own lives, like we were there to INFECT THEM, by our mere presence in their wards. That was truly heartless and cruel.

Friends, seeing what had gone on with patients in hospitals, decided that they would never go to a hospital. But die, outside, on their own terms. Is that selfish ? I mean, really, when you have no choice, but to take what is left of your life, into your own hands, what is the other viable choice?

Todd knew many things about me. He knew how destructive I could become, if left alone. He also knew, the dark inner sanctum of my heart, and he went to great lengths to keep me at arms length from any man, who walked into the bar on any given night.

He was protecting me from myself, across the board.

You cannot remain selfish, when the work you do, every night, is working with others, or for others. I had a job. A really great job. I loved that job.

I wish I could go back in time and revisit that time, with one proviso: All the people who were there, need to be there again.

The Promises speak of many things changing, as we get sober. They don’t all come at once, and for sure, they might take a lifetime. I know how long they took to come to me.

The job we have in sobriety, is to be vigilant, on all those warnings that the Promises speak of, as changing. If we remain in our alcoholic stupor, we will suffer the negatives, for as long as they are given fuel.

We have a choice in sobriety, which wolf we are going to feed.

Illness, with a death diagnosis, does not discriminate.

When it comes to death, when someone mentions that word within a share, I sit up and listen. That commonality, is stark among us. People get sick, some get better, or end up in remission. But a good percentage do die.

Death is the end for everyone.

For some of us, we have faced our death days, and lived to tell the tale.

Which I do proudly, whenever I get the chance.

If you want to get OUT of yourself, work with OTHERS.

The Catholic Church’s Dirty Little Secret …

St. John Vianney College Seminary Miami Florida

In the years 1986 – 1987, I spent that year, in a college seminary in Miami. The sainted priests of my home parish really thought I had a calling to the priesthood. They worked very hard at my formation prior to entering the seminary. Altar Boy, Eucharistic Minister, so forth and so on.

I loved the Pastor, Priests, and the many other people who served my parish so dutifully and loyally. We were a family. And I was safe. When I needed help the most, in my most desperate hours of illness, after I was diagnosed, the men of my parish really stepped up their games for me.

I really had nothing to loose, entering the seminary. My parents were going to get rid of me, and not have me under their roof any longer, that was good for all of us. I would no longer be abused mercilessly, but on the down side, I would have no support from home, except the parish priests.

I was two years out of high school, having completed a year’s scholarship at the community college. But I was destined for greater things.

I took all my tests and psychological exams. And I guess I passed well, because I was in, that fall. It was a learning curve for sure. The residence was located above classrooms of the main building, with double occupancy, Murphy bedded rooms. You were not alone at any point, unless your room mate was in class or off campus.

A retinue of priests were housed in the building with us, on each end of the building. And it seemed all was well, but something was just not right, all around.

I had not come out of the closet, because I figured that If I made it, I wasn’t going to have to worry about my sexuality because I would be serving Holy Mother Church. Not that being gay was top of mind, because it really wasn’t. I had eyes into ministry and I was singularly focused.

The other odd thing was that many GAY priests, and priests who had been diagnosed with AIDS, or had other parish issues, were sent to our school, to either teach, or be in ministry positions to the class in residence, and say mass every day and on Sunday.

Gay WAS a thing. It DID exist. Right in front of me. Nobody talked about it, but it was clear and out in the open, if you knew to look for tell tale signs of homosexuality. I had pretty good GAYDAR then.

There were three Catholic institutions that were located on a plot of land, who shared common outside space and school precincts. There was Christopher Columbus Boys High School, St. Brendan’s across the green space from our buildings. And the Seminary.

Out back of the three sites were baseball, and soccer fields. A communal pool, that was fenced in, and a perimeter road that circled the high school and the seminary grounds. We spent nights after dinner walking that circle, night after night.

I knew, after while, which of my classmates were gay. That was pretty apparent to me, at least, yet I asked no questions. EVER.

It was common knowledge that gay priests were in residence with us, and nobody batted an eye over that. The first rector of the institution had issues with the drink, and they sent him away to rehab. Which incensed me to no end, and I lobbied long and hard to get him back.

He was replaced with a papal wannabe Rector Andy Anderson, who thought himself Divine. And pranced around and acted like he WAS the pope, when he was in public and when he said mass. I hated Andy Anderson with every fiber of my being. I hated his sanctimonious attitude and his pride and arrogance as a priest.

HATED HIM !!!

Several of my classmates were sanctimonious pop tarts who walked around like they were above everyone else. Many years later, MANY years later, I turned on the tv once, and saw, one of my sanctimonious classmates saying mass on television. I was revolted for sure.

During the day and on Friday we had assigned chores every week, like mowing the grass on the quad, cleaning the house and the chapel, and odds and ends jobs.

One of the jobs we had during the day was serving the high school next door to the seminary, since we shared common space and their cafeteria. We served lunches and took care of the cafeteria. But I noticed that several of my upper classmates were passing notes to many of the boys as they came through the lunch line.

It was not kosher at all …

One night as I walked the quad after dinner one evening, I was behind the school, walking past the baseball dug outs and IN the dug out were several of my classmates having sex with kids from the school next door.

I averted my eyes so as not to notice, and kept walking. I was sure, I had seen what I had seen. Not long after that incident, I was approached by several of my classmates who made it perfectly clear to me that I should never tell anyone what I saw. They confirmed to me what it was that I did see, by telling me to shut up and keep quiet.

Or I would pay a price.

Each week we had spiritual direction, with a certain priest we had chosen to see on a regular basis. And I kid you not, it was like sitting in front of an inquisitor. The first question, every time I sat with my spiritual director was this … “Did you touch yourself this week, and how many times did you touch yourself ?”

Spiritual direction took a backseat when it came to sexual information.

Now, even if I had masturbated whenever I could get away with it, I’m not saying I did or I didn’t … I wasn’t going to give that priest the sexual satisfaction of hearing about “If I touched myself, and how many times I did so.” In essence, I lied to his face …

And I think to myself, you know, “Masturbation is a far lesser sin, then fucking kids in the dug out out back of the school after dark.”

But I didn’t ever say that to anyone.

Many years would pass, after my unceremonious expulsion from the seminary in the Spring of 1987. I was told by Rector Andy Anderson, that I was not ONE OF THEM, and that I did not pass my yearly review as a seminarian, so I had to go.

That unceremonious expulsion sent me on a tirade about God. I was terribly angry at God for a long time. I had later come out of the closet and was at one of the major gay watering holes in Miami one night, when five of my classmates walked into the bar, and hung out and drank and cruised like the other gays in the building.

But They Were Seminarians, Still in Formation at the College.

The Church today is facing the biggest problem of its life. Sexual abuse in the church by priests. They used to say that a homosexual man could not be ordained into the priesthood. After I left the seminary, they purged, or attempted to purge homosexuality out of seminary life.

I don’t think they succeeded.

Because when I was in that seminary, most every single priest in residence was GAY, or had AIDS and was GAY. And half of my classmates were GAY.

Over that year we hosted two retreats for prospective men who wanted to come into the seminary. A couple of them made it in, but after helping them unpack and sort themselves out, I knew it would not work for them, and they later were dismissed.

I NEVER had a gay issues in my home parish and the men and the priests who served my home parish were upstanding, respectable men with integrity and morals. All of them, were great men to me. I would never speak a bad word about any priest I knew growing up.

It wasn’t until I hit seminary that that all changed for the worse.

I studied Religion and Theology at Concordia University here in Montreal, and one of our Monsignors was one of my instructors. At the end of term I had to write a 40 page prospectus. I wrote on the care of the LGBTQ community, and how the church could facilitate that. He then offered me a place to work in the diocese when I graduated.

I did not get the job, and the offer was rescinded.

Because I was GAY.

The church is not perfect, by any stretch. And Gays, do exist in the church today and priestly abuse is a FACT, which the church has turned a blind eye to for decades and decades. Because of the culture of silence and coverups, by the highest men in the curia and the papal offices.

Decrees can come from Rome by the hour, but the farther you are removed from the center of power, the more diluted the order and the less the orders can be enforced by local Bishops and clergy. The farther you get from Rome, the Bishops around the world control the diocese they administer.

The farther away Bishops are, take more latitude in enforcing Papal decrees and laws. What happens in Rome, does not necessarily happen in North America or Latin America, or in any other far flung location, removed from the seat of Holy Mother Church.

We know who were abused, we hear about it very often. Pope Francis needs to be decisive and stern and certain with punishment and prosecution.

There is no room for men of the cloth who abuse boys and girls.

That is abominable.

And God Wept …


This is the Way It Is …

On a Double Decker bus in Ottawa with my best friend …

Watching coming out videos today, bring back certain memories and invoke certain feelings, about my own story.

I traveled to the South Shore last night, for a meeting at the famous Beaver Rehabilitation Center. Over the years, I’ve heard some old timers tell stories of their time there, and a particular nurse who worked there until about a decade ago. On the way the driver of the car, told me her stories of that famed nurse, Joan.

I learned a few more things about new friends last night. Which was nice. and I also learned that the car driver’s sobriety date is the SAME as mine.

December the 9th … She in 1987, me in 2001.

But back to where I am at the moment. I’m kinda sad.

Like I said above, I watched a new coming out video from a young man on You Tube. And I wrote to him, that his story was the most honest, tender and loving story I had ever heard. Coming Out is a daunting proposition.

He faced his trials and in the end he had success. His friends came round, his mom came round, and his sisters came round, eventually.

And I think … People are who they are. And I was and am powerless over people, places and things. The other night we talked about “Acceptance.”

I wonder, why people say the things they do, why they act the way they act, and why the world went sideways when I was a kid. I’m gonna be 52 in a few months and I think to myself, what a waste of time and effort. I really believe I was sold a terrible bill of goods.

People treated me so unfairly. And never gave me the opportunity to speak my words and defend myself. It was better to push me away and shut off my light and silence my ability to speak, rather than hear what I really have to say.

Coming Out, I was sold a bill of goods. I was told certain truths. And I ran with that delusion, until it did not serve me any longer. And I’ve written in the past, quite recently, The life I really wanted and desired, never came to fruition, and in the end I got the life, I got. It wasn’t necessarily the life I wanted, but it is the life I got.

I’m not sure I would have changed the life I have, or the way it played out, because life is good today, and I should not be resentful or bitter about not getting or getting.

We spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in meetings, listening to our friends, or people we think are our friends. And it still makes me wonder about people, when I hear some of the things that come out of their mouths.

And I think to myself, WHY ?

An entire section of my life is non-existent. An entire family of people have nothing to do with me, because of choices I made. But really, I was gay, and gay was abominable, so I had to move away from home, because I was pushed away.

THEN they blamed me and said it was all my fault. That I was the cause of all of their problems. When I was the one who got away from a very abusive situation, and people. I got out for my own good, my own safety and my own sanity.

So Fuck me for self preservation.

So many years have passed and nobody seems to care that I am alive or have a life or have words to speak to certain people. And I find that wasteful today. I think that people have just gone down a rabbit hole and never came back up.

People have a choice. And I wonder, why people made the decisions they did, because at this point in my life, I see the wasted opportunities, the wasted years and years of punishing silence.

Why because I was Gay or later, was diagnosed with AIDS?

I had two coming out experiences. The first was much happier than the second. Because when I came out, it was on my own terms, in the location I wanted, with the people I wanted to be there, when I made my entrance into the gay community of Orlando.

I think to myself, that certain people in my life did what they did and they said what they said and they chose the line they were going to follow, for better or for worse.

I lost on all accounts, because an entire group of people walked away from me, and left me on my own to survive. Thank God, Todd was there, because if it wasn’t for him, I would have died many years ago.

I just think it is utterly so sad that I am where I am, still asking the same questions I asked decades ago. All I want is to speak, to tell my story to people who don’t want to know me. To explain the what, where, why, and how. On my own terms, in my own voice.

But people don’t or won’t deign to stoop to my level and listen to me. I am just not that important. And there is just too much water gone under that old bridge.

I find that utterly sad. It just makes me so sad and sick inside.

My father went to his grave, never knowing me. never speaking to me, and never allowing me to say what I needed to say to him before he died. And that was his choice, not mine. My mother is going to same way, and so is my brother.

None of them want to know. Or want to listen.

So Fuck me for self preservation

Time is a precious commodity, once wasted it can never be regained.

My maths teacher, in 9th grade, used to write this sentence on the black board before every test or exam. And I remember those words till today.

So many people have wasted too much precious time. That we’ll never get back. Time is of the essence.

God is in control. And maybe it is better that way.

Because I surely don’t want to make these kinds of decisions.

Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.

Vanity

Do you ever ponder your body ? Do you think about changing something about your looks, often ? Are you obsessed with the way you are ageing?

Since beginning my gym career, I have realized that Gym Mirrors work against you, ALL THE TIME. It does not matter that you wear; tights and loose t-shirts and fitness clothing. Mirrors never lie, and in my humble opinion, the mirrors at my gym tend to accentuate the one part of my body that I am most self conscious about, my tummy.

Twenty five years ago, when I was diagnosed with AIDS, I was much thinner than I am today, MUCH. It did not help that I was terminally ill and slated for death. Many AIDS patients developed what is called “Wasting Syndrome” where your body fat melts and you become skin and bones, which usually led to a very speedy death.

I was on that road for a while. Until my doctor found the miracle drug that would change the game forever. MEGACE, was an oral suspension liquid that was dosed in shot form, once a day. You filled your little shot glass and hoped that it would do the trick.

IT DID.

Hunger is one thing that sick people loose from the get go. Things are really bad, and if you do not eat, or cannot eat, then the slide into death is fast and furious. Even today, we see it in patients who are terminal, and especially in the elderly population. It’s like they know the end is nigh, and hunger leaves them, and people stop eating, or their caloric intake falls exponentially. Hence, death is imminent.

Over a years time, I progressed from 98 pounds to almost 200 hundred pounds. I got so fat, I outgrew all of my clothing. With the weight gain, I gained what is called lypodystrophy. Which is fat gain in certain parts of your body, like your ass, your stomach or your chest.

I also suffer today, from a genetic dystrophy because of my diabetes. And I have a base layer of fat in my stomach, that no amount of exercise or stretching or crunches has ever been able to mediate.

Not long ago, I saw a young guy on Instagram talk about “Cool Sculpting.” This is a cosmetic procedure that freezes fat in the body and the frozen fat, works its way out of the body after each cycle of treatment is completed.

I thought to myself, I’m gonna go check this out and see if I could be a prospective patient. I filled out the questionnaire and had my intake appointment this afternoon. It was all straight forward. They explained that we have two types of fat, One, Fat that is attached to our organs, and Two, fat that is loose in the body, and not connected, that can be suctioned and removed by treatment.

I had both …

I think to myself that I have a few issues that are vanity related that bother me to no end. One, is my teeth situation, which is being worked on at this very moment, so I am spending money hand over fist for oral surgeries, every other week. They begin the rebuild in the coming weeks, so they will begin putting teeth back into my mouth, instead of taking them out.

The other vanity issue is my physical body. And I think, at fifty one years old, is vanity really a problem? My one mantra that I maintain is that:

I will not become Gay, Old and Fat !! Nor Frumpy for that matter.

I am not the run of the mill fifty year old, as compared to the men in this same age bracket, I call my friends. I really don’t want to become any of them either. Each has their own issues, looks and attitudes.

This little exploration of Vanity was vetoed over dinner.

I guess that is that for now.

Maybe if we hit the lottery, we can ponder vanity when it is more cost effective.