Reflections Step Seven

The month of July, this year, has been a month of reflection and thought. It is like I have been working through a personal inventory of myself, and what I have learned about myself. My good points, and my bad points.

I have a particular Gay experience to draw upon. I have said, in the past that, things were not so easy, in the very beginning.

Living with AIDS, was not easy. Watching other people CRACK UP in front of me and my friends was disturbing. Loosing everyone, I thought would be in my corner, was a terrible by product of getting sick.

Ignorance was rife …

I learned early on after that, that it was not so important what people SAID, what was more important what people DID.

Living on the edge of society, well under the poverty level, procuring services that decided life or death, was paramount. I learned what were Cast Iron Panties, and how to put on those Cast Iron Panties very early on.

Several times I actually had to use them. Let me tell you that, if you said you’d do something I needed, on any level, and you failed to do that thing …

Hell hath no fury like an AIDS sick man.

A very TRUE STORY…

Back in the late nineties, after I got sick, for years, I had tried to get disability Insurance from the Government and I failed several times.

At the last, I stopped taking my medication for a month, I did not shower, or change my clothes, once. About a month in, I had a disability appointment with someone who could sign off on my application and grant me much needed financial support.

He, in the past, denied me that financial support.

So unwashed, sick and dirty, I walked into his office and sat down in front of him. He started talking to me. I took a deep breath and I coughed on him.

He stopped talking right then and there, and signed that application with not a further word of argument.

True Story …

You learned the character of the people around you, by their words, and indeed their actions. This piece of advice still applies today.

I know how alcoholics treated me when I came into the program twenty five years ago. Had that experience been more positive and supportive, this year I would have reached twenty five years sober.

Alas, that was not my experience.

Todd knew more about humility, honesty, and love, than any man or woman I know, to this very day.

Had he not stepped in and took me into his orbit, and taught me all the lessons he had, I would have surely died.

I spoke about this tonight, in my Step Group Study. In this meeting are a handful of LONG SOBER men whom I like and trust.

When I returned to the rooms in 2001, it was people who first hugged me and welcomed me into the SOBE room. They really cared about me, and that meant the world to me, and kept me IN the Room.

When I moved to Montreal, I looked for those same attributes in the people I met when I first arrived. In the first little while good people were Hit and Miss.

When I found the group I would HOME in for twelve years, the way I got sober and stayed sober, was by watching everyone else around me. I listened to them talk, lots of talk. I watched them make decisions, good and bad.

Most importantly, I paid attention to my friends who drank again, and again, and again.

I stuck and stayed while masses of people were drinking again.

I knew what NOT to do. I knew who to avoid, and who to stay away from.

Alcoholics are fallible people, we know this. Bill said as much in many of his talks before General Conference Meetings, for years.

None of us are perfect, none of us are better than another. Least of all ME.

Many years ago, I entertained a long sober man and asked him to sponsor me. An NDG man. For all intents and purposes, I stay away from NDG Men.

Why you ask ? I’m Gay.

Nothing turns my stomach quicker than a heterosexual man who needs to talk to hear himself talk, the pussy loving, hockey fan, who just has that air of heterosexuality about him. Men who overcompensate for being straight. Pissing contests are usual. And the size of their penises.

For a few years, I hung out with these men, because they were sober longer than I was, then. I did not go to their meetings, BUT I did attend several Twelve Step Retreats in Vermont with these men.

Imagine being the only queer banana in a car, driving to Vermont with overcompensating heterosexual men.

God give me strength.

At the very first group meeting, at the very first retreat I was at, in Vermont, I came out to the group of men. Because I was the only queer member in that group, for several retreats.

I quote …”Oh we accept you and we love you and we want to be your friend.”

That was all well and good. All that changed when we hit our first communal meal together.

I went through the buffet, got my food, and found a seat at an open table. I sat down, and I waited. And I watched.

I watched every single man, who said they accepted me among them, grab their own food, walk by my table, and sit somewhere else, not one of these men chose to break bread with me.

This happened at every retreat I was at, over and over.

Right then and there, the nails in their coffins were hammered.

Some time would pass, and my NDG sponsor having witnessed the worst painful experience I had ever experienced in Sobriety, spoke to me and he humiliated me in front of our group.

I swore I would never share space with any of those men ever again.

After the shooting at the Pulse Club in Orlando, I was devastated. Because as a kid in my twenties, I drank in that building too. I knew the story of the kid who did the shooting. I knew that he scoped out both Pulse and the Parliament House, where I had my Coming Out Experience.

I wanted to drink so bad. But I knew I could not.

I turned to meetings to save me. Most importantly, a Big Book Reading Meeting. I knew that if I read the BIG Book through, I would NOT DRINK.

There were 45 men and women in that meeting. All the Queer men in the program on the English side, ALL OF THEM, sat in this meeting.

I was a wreck for eighteen months. Emotionally and mentally.

Not One Man or Woman, GAY or STRAIGHT wanted to know me. Not one of those men or women said one single word to me, personally, at any time, before or after any of those meetings over eighteen months.

Not One Alcoholic said those words to me…
“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”
NOT ONE !!!

I’ve NEVER heard those words come out of ANY sober mouth, in all the years I have been sober, EXCEPT from Lorna Kelly who came from New York to speak at a Round Up. She spoke those words in front of everybody.

I think I was the only who who heard her. To This Day.

And in the end one of those queers, who read the same book I did, got to the last chapter of the Big Book, and we read HOW to stay SOBER and NEVER drink again, HE DRANK AGAIN.

Because he IS constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself.

Now I am not, in any way, stating that I am better than anyone else, but I do know the work I have done in as many years to stay sober. I know every man and woman who participated in my sobriety TO DATE.

Todd taught me about My Place in the World and in the Universe. I know my place in the world. I know, that as long as I serve others, to the best of my ability, I can maintain some semblance of humility.

I commented tonight, at the meeting that last night, I had a visceral reaction to some folks who came into the meeting last night.

I just don’t have any desire to be friendly with some of my heterosexual counterparts, because of the way they treated me over the years. They walk in the meeting and announce their presence, and I’m just like:

SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN.

I was SO uncomfortable sitting in my chair, that at one point, before the meeting, that I actually got up, and walked outside, to sit with my friends who were hanging out, outside the church on one of the benches.

I had no desire to sit there and listen to people I have no desire to want anything that they have. I stayed sober, by watching and listening to everybody else. That may be a good thing, or a bad thing.

I am a Gay man who survived AIDS.

So I am a bit more judgmental of people, in a way that other queer men are not. Not that there are NO QUEER men in the rooms who want to be my friend, so when we sit in the same room, they have nothing to say to me and I don’t have anything to say to them either.

I know who my friends are, and who I take solace from, and those men and women who contribute to my sobriety.

It just struck me odd last night, that I had that kind of reaction sitting in a room, I regularly sit in on a weekly basis. And I brought that up with my old timer friends tonight at the step meeting.

People are not apt to speak to me about anything I say in meetings, and old timers rather keep to themselves, and they don’t usually offer counsel, or criticism, or tell me to just shut the fuck up and listen.

I find that odd. That people won’t call you out, or say anything when we share in meetings. It’s like I am having this particular sober experience, and nobody is playing pin ball with me, there are no bumpers on the side, banging me back into play.

It’s like I am running on my own.

If I don’t ask someone directly for advice, nobody offers advice.

That strikes me as odd too.

Just a few observations about myself.

The Curve – Early Review

https://cb-x.com/

It has been a day, IN, the Curve Chastity device. My early remarks still hold. CB-X sells the entire package as a unit. Like I said earlier today, CB-X sells package sets, of various numeric CB- 3000 and CB- 6000 sets.

They also sell parts individually. And since I learned that they sold individual parts, that complement the CB 3000/6000 systems, and can be used interchangeably, that made my decision to shop from them appealing.

I began with the purchase of additional side items that complement the CB systems. The Package Sets come with an entire system of space rings, of various sizes, extension rings that are used to either extend or draw back the base ring and the cage portion of the device.

Once you add the other items, like the Points Of Intrigue, then the other sized spacers come into usage, because you are adding length to the connection pin, so you need the proper spacing tube to attach the Points, and connect the cage to the unit, then get it to lock.

The device package comes with 1 lock, and 2 keys. And it also comes with three plastic registered locks that can be used, in lieu of the pad lock.

Everything in the Chastity system works together, as a unit, and you can, by choice, add to the dimension and creativity of your chastity experience.

The Points of Intrigue runs you $49.95 CAD, plus shipping and the exchange, because they calculate CAD for me automatically. The Plastic Registration Locks will run you (30 count $15-95 CAD).

I’ve been using the Curve addition all day. It fits like a glove. I said earlier that The Curve is a larger solid cage, that is wider/and longer/than the original CB-6000 Plastic Cage.

In order to get into the original cage, Insertion is easier if you are an average man. My friend that I purchased a CB-6000 for in early summer, did it in one shot, with a little lube assistance. He did not have an insertion problem, and his is still on him to date.

I, on the other hand have found that some chastity devices, I have tested from other sellers, who asked me to review their products, the cages were small. They indeed had larger cages, but on the whole, when I made the order to test the product, I chose the mainstream cage, sadly, it was too small, and the product was sub standard, and rather than say negative things about a high selling item to a particular demographic, I chose to say nothing, and thank them for the experience. But moved on from it.

I found that that CB-6000 cage worked for a while, but after my medical misfortune and problem with a severe genital infection, I could no longer fit in the cage properly, and I went back to the Bon-4 metal cage, until the Curve arrived today.

I love the Curve cage. It fits wonderfully, and I am very pleased with the purchase, and would recommend this product for you to try.

If you buy the CB-6000 in a retail sex shop, you can buy several products, the CB-3000, the CB-6000 and the CB- 6000 Curve, in specific packs with the pieces that come with them.

In the pack you will find the CB-X info flyer, inside the pack. And you can go to the site and register, and then shop the additional parts, as individual items, if you buy a full pack and find the cage might be too small for you.

The general thought in chastity devices that most men come in one size. That is a misnomer. We don’t all come in one standard size, as I have found as I have continued this chastity journey.

One cannot test chastity devices because of the bodily fluid issue, so if you are going to buy a chastity device, be sure of the size of your member against the size of the cage.

The CB-6000 cage is standard. The CB-6000 Curve is larger. I recommend that if your Mister is larger than normal, and you don’t fit the standard sizing options of the general CB product, going a step larger might make your purchase better, and you won’t have to shop a larger cage once you get home, if you find you are larger than the cage in accommodation.

Like I said … Once you buy, you cannot return it.

If you buy it, it is yours, then it falls to your wallet to purchase a larger cage, that if you are properly informed before you buy, you won’t be making additional purchases to find the right sized cage for your system.

Buyer Beware !!!

I love my CB-6000 system. It is a much better product made of serious hypo-allergenic solid plastic that is thick and secure. Much better than other products I have tested for other sellers.

If your Mister is Larger than usual, then go with the CB-6000 CURVE.

You won’t be disappointed.

CB-X Master Your Mister

CB-X.com
https://cb-x.com/

In the month of May, I had been using my original chastity device that I has initially purchased at Priape. The Bon – 4, metal cage.

It is bulky, but, unlike the CB-6000 does not come with the additional issues that I had. I like the metal cage set up because it is easy access, and goes on without a hassle. And I can wear it long term and not worry about cleanliness and other internal issues with the plastic device.

In May, like I said above, I purchased a CB-6000 set up, which is a 3 part plastic ring set up with a plastic cage. For a while it worked well, but after a few weeks of being in it, there were issues with the size of the cage, and also, there was a cleanliness issue as well. Because once you are in the cage and it does not come off, you can develop issues, where you must take it off to clean within. And that became a necessary task.

Along with the new CB-6000, I had said some time ago that I was having drug issues with my Diabetes medication, that posed a problem for two months, until I finally figured out what the hell was going on with me.

I kept having to take the cage off, and finally, it seemed I was outgrowing my cage, because I could not fully get into it, and urination became an issue. With the size of the cage, and my size, and the my body issues, they were not working together.

So I went to the company that makes the CB-6000 range cages and many other parts you can buy as single parts, and they all work with the 3 ring CB-6000 system.

The company supplies many other CB products, and the parts that go with them. There are various models, colors, and types of chastity devices. From CB-X you can get parts individually, that are not available in retail shops. I mean, you can buy a whole set up and all, but if you want to specialize your own set up, buying parts individually, that go WITH your particular chastity device, is well worth it.

This is The Curve. The Curve comes in a pack like the CB-6000, they sell at Priape, here in Montreal. I chose to buy the CB-6000 instead, not thinking about the size of the curve cage, in relation to my CB-6000.

The cages are made of rigid non-allergenic plastic that once they go on, and you lock the lock, or you use the plastic registration locks you can buy separately, there is no taking it off, unless you need to. Unlike other chastity products I have tried, this CB-6000 range is a much BETTER product. it is made securely, and works much better than others, I have seen or used.

I had bought several odds and ends over the past few months to complement my CB-6000, like a bag of 30 plastic registration locks, a set of Point of Intrigue that go into the CB-6000 set up making things a little prickly to say the least.

Today my CURVE arrived in the mail. And I was pleasantly surprised with it, namely, that it fits, entirely. In one shot, I was in and all was well. The CURVE is larger than the CB-6000 cage. It is longer and wider than the original that I had purchased. Making it a much better cage set up than the original CB-6000. It has air holes in the cage itself, and because it is a larger cage, I won’t have the attendant issues I had with the first cage.

Chastity has been a work in progress as I prefect the cage I am using and because with the CB-6000 you get an info pack in the box from CB-X.com, where you can register, and add other parts and cages to your collection, and not have to buy the entire set up, that costs in excess of $200.00 CAD for a cage.

The Curve came in at $125.00 CAD, with the exchange. The Curve ran $70.00 plus shipping and the exchange, so it was well worth the money I paid for it.

CB-X.com for all your chastity needs.

Friday Night

My friend Jacob, in his Rocket Tights from LED Queens. I have a pair myself.

Tonight we had a great discussion about One Day at a Time.

And I thought to myself, how crazy my life once was. This being July and all, and I reflect on my life, as it turned out. From what it began as twenty five years ago. Then I was age 26.

When I got sick, I could not focus my thoughts, until I learned how to do that, thanks to Todd. I relate this story, as it happened.

The week I was diagnosed, I had gone to the store and bought poster board squares. I plastered them to my kitchen wall, and drew out a calendar, for three months. I numbered the months, as usual. And I began counting the day until I was supposed to die.

I had 576 days … according to my doctor.

I was waiting to die. This was even before I got suicidal. And that episode go me into recovery, at Todd’s insistence.

His lover, Roy, was my first sponsor. He came over the house one day and saw my calendar on the wall, and asked me what I was doing ? I told him, “counting the days until I die…”

He stepped into the kitchen and ripped the calendar off the wall and tore it up into pieces. He then said, You are not going to do this.

When he left, I went out and bought more poster board, and did it again, the same reaction happened. I then did it a third time. And once again, he ripped them down off the wall.

Over the next eighteen months, Todd taught me focus and control. He gave me a method to cope. And it worked famously.

I lived.

But, for the longest time, I was living with one foot on the floor, and the other on a banana peel. I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop, because, I was still waiting to die.

I was sick for a long time. But I felt that my suffering was salvific. And that if God has a sense of humor, he would not let me die, miserably, like all of my friends did.

I lived.

The change happened, I reckoned tonight, about the ten year mark, that would have been in 2004. I was already living here in Montreal, and my doctor treated patient Zero, the French Flight Attendant.

He promised me life. A good life. If I followed his direct orders, which I followed dutifully.

I guess, at some point, in this sober time period, I was more consumed with staying sober, and not thinking about Dying.

My Higher Power was working for me. God, that is …

I stopped waiting to die. Finally.

In the last eighteen years, my life got BIG. And my life got good. At the thirteen year mark, going into fourteen, all 12 Promises had come true, Albeit, very slowly. But they did.

A friend said, tonight, that the main ingredient for a good life in sobriety, all has to do with one thing… GRATITUDE.

He said that if you can be grateful every day, you will stay sober. Despite yourself.

I concur.

Spiritual awakening happen at the oddest times, and we don’t necessarily realize what they are until they are in the rear view mirror and you have some hindsight behind you to look back and say …

Oh Yeah, that WAS a GOD moment, wasn’t it …

Grateful.

Working with Others

I listen to a very small number of sober folks today. I hear a lot of talking, but most of it goes in one ear and out the other, because why waste mental space on people who don’t have anything I want, RIGHT?

For a very long time, I was not sure I had anything to offer the public, in the way of working with others. I stuck close to service. I made a lot of coffee, and have at least two church keys on my key ring today. I am an opener of meetings, a setter upper, a greeter and an all around welcome wagon to several meetings across town today.

Twelve years would pass, before I hit the presentation of THE WORK. Twelve years of running by the book in service, presence, and sharing when appropriate. Still, I was not sure, that I had anything to give away, which helped me, in retrospect, hone my skills at listening attentively, feeling compassion, empathy, and gratitude.

Until the time came when I heard the message I needed to hear, from the right person to change my life and my sobriety.

Lorna warns us of the fragility of people with “Time” in the rooms, not necessarily the newcomer, per se. She says that “Those are the people we should pay close attention to.” For certain reasons, I don’t need to elaborate right now.

Bob, another member who came here in 2012, to the West Island Round Up, the same event Lorna attended too. It was Bob who turned me on to THE WORK, (i.e. the Big Book), and Prayer, (i.e. the 3, 7, 11 shuffle). He told the crowd of people gathered there all this same information. Nobody listened to him.

I, on the other hand, went to him, after his talk and inquired about how to make all this work. He told me what to do. I went home, and did exactly as he said to do. I wrote down the 3rd, 7th, and 11th step prayers, and laminated them and put them on my computer.

And I prayed every day, several times a day, for as long as it took to change my life. Because he told us that if we did pray, and in time, we would become spiritually fit and then the universe (read: God) would order things as He saw fit.

That took about seven months of fervent prayer, not always perfect, but I did my best to pray, honestly and humbly.

One Tuesday night I was sitting in a meeting, and about halfway through my phone rang … very out of the ordinary. Who would be calling me, I had no idea. Nonetheless, I stepped outside and answered the call.

A good thing too.

On the other end was a hysterical young person, who got my number from who, I don’t know, but he called me. That was the day I had something to offer another human being in the program.

That sparked a series of life events that changed the course of my sobriety.

Today I sponsor a few men and women. I have worked my steps. Several times. I’ve read the Big Book through from cover to cover, four times in six years. I finished my last round of steps last fall, with a young person I really wanted what they had. That was a good thing.

A Vision for You says … “Obviously, you cannot transmit something you haven’t got …” It took me a long time to trust that I had something to give away, and we don’t know that we’ve even got it ourselves, Lorna is apt to say, “Until we give it away.”

That’s my story and I am sticking to it…

Memories of a Time Gone By: Day 1

Here is the story of that week from my journal. If we are to start anywhere, here is the best place. Today is July 4th 2019. Twenty Five years have passed.

July 4th 1994

it was a nice day. Josh and I prepared the house for company; we were hosting a “friendly” BBQ in Ft. Lauderdale. Alan and his hubby and other friends from the complex were coming, a veritable who’s who of my social circle back then. It was a great day. We cooked and ate at the picnic table out back – the drag queens in the adjacent area were entertaining, and the conversation was light and campy. The day wore on into night, and fireworks were going to be shot off over Ft. Lauderdale beach. So we piled into the convertible and headed out for the five-minute drive across the bridge to the beach. Parking was a nightmare, but eventually we found a spot to sit in. I remember that things were happy and there were no worries; we were out celebrating the holiday. After the fireworks we came home and imbibed a great deal, and sat down to watch the new film out on video, “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks. Little did I know how much life would…?

Imitate art that week?

I watched with a certain attention, as if saying to God, “I know what’s coming so please be gentle with me, because I am not sure I am ready to do this or die.” It had been a year since the first time I was tested at “Planned Parenthood” and that test came back negative.

The second test was done in a city hospital lab, and those results came back negative as well, but six months later we found out on the news that the lab had switched our (100 gay men’s) HIV tests with a retirement home lab list. It was freaky when 100 elderly folk got positive HIV tests back from the lab, OOOPS – someone made a HUGE mistake.

Anyway, that was that.

Around 8 o’clock I called my parents to wish them a Happy July 4th; there was another piece of information I needed to get across to them, and this was not going to be very easy, I had been feeling pretty sick since January, and checked 7 of the 9 symptoms off the list from “If these things are happening to you — you might have HIV” wallet card.

The conversation started light and airy, then all the air left my lungs and I could not breathe. And this is how it went

Hello…

Hello…

Pleasant conversation, then I dropped the bomb!

I have some news for you.

Yes, what would that be?

I’ve been feeling a lot sick lately and tomorrow I am going to see a doctor…

Silence.

I could hear the wheels spinning in their heads. My mother had been working in Home Health Care for a number of years and she had seen what AIDS can do to a human being; couple that with what they were watching on TV and she was having worse case scenario visions in her head!!

They were watching “Philadelphia” at their house at the very moment I called. Suddenly my mother must have looked at the TV and she screamed. Yes, that’s right, I am sick, and I need to go get tested tomorrow, it’s time. My father was listening in on the extension, and I am sure he was beside himself; his fag son was sick and putting two and two together led to only one conclusion.

Josh was sitting in the living room while I had this conversation, he didn’t say a word. I had to prepare him for what was coming; Josh and I would never see the end of the week together. In the end, I would never see Josh again.

After a bout of hysterics, I told them that everything would be all right and I ended the phone call. That night I did not sleep at all, and Josh was all over the place. He was such a quiet and calm young man; we were both young then. We had only been dating for a couple of months by that point. Tomorrow’s test was just a formality; I knew already the answer I would get confirmed in a few days’ time. I did not tell any of my friends that night. Todd and Roy were in Provincetown on holiday.

I would eventually call Todd.

Conversation

Jacob in Synth Pop LED Queens

It is the last weekend of June. Monday is the 1st of July, Canada Day, and the beginning of my retrospective of July. As usual, I always post the tragic news of my AIDS diagnosis, because I get the opportunity to reflect on another year of survival. Who knew I would live this long, and live well, this long ?

July 31st is my birthday … Also Harry Potter’s Birthday too.

I am chairing for the month at Monday Central, and Chairing the men’s meeting on the Wednesday of my Birthday. Let’s just say that I do a lot of service. Because they say, Service will keep you Sober… It definitely has.

I’ve been hanging around with some long sober men, whom are my friends. I added a Wednesday meeting called Brothers in Recovery, a closed Men’s meeting that reads the Twelve and Twelve. July is Step Seven …

Humbly Asked Him to Remove Our Shortcomings.

June was an interesting month, as we discussed Step Six, and Tradition Six, this past Wednesday. The most important two words to come from the month of reading the Step were the words: Entirely Ready.

Hanging around with good people, who have good lives AND good sobriety is very important. The purpose of Sobriety is to live your best life, sober, and not to be miserable and just DRY !

Tonight, one of my friends showed up early for the meeting, so we had a good hour to just talk about anything and everything. I am uber early for Friday set up to make sure the coffee is perked and ready to pour when the first guest shows up.

We can grab a cup of coffee and go outside and sit on the stairs and just visit with each other. The meeting before the meeting is a very profitable two hours. And if someone shows up uber early that makes it much more enjoyable.

Usually I just sit outside and people watch the neighborhood. If you follow me on Instagram, I posted the pictures of that location.

This week was very eventful. After 17 1/2 years, I finally put down the cigarettes. On Tuesday I was at the mall grocery shopping and down on the ground floor is a Vape sales cube. The cube is a black cube that sits in front of The Canadian Tire store and houses a Vape sales point. You can’t get in unless you are of age and have valid ID. It is highly guarded.

The entire purchase cost me $30.00. For the Vape, that came with 2 bottles of juice, and the UBS port to charge. During the week I went back to buy the Berry Fusion vape juice, that comes in a cartridge that goes into the Vape.

Overall: $30.00

That is the price of 2 packs of cigarettes.

Overall, I am saving more than $130.00 a week in smokes. Let’s just say that saving all the money in the long run is going to be very profitable.

More to come, Stay tuned …