The Family Afterward

 

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This painful past may be of infinite value to other families still struggling with their problem. We think each family who has been relieved owes something to those who have not, and when the occasion requires, each member of it should only be too willing to bring former mistakes, no mater how grievous, out of their hiding places. Showing others who suffer how we were given help is the very thing which makes life seem so worth while to us now. Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. PP. 124 B.B.

We’ve never discussed this chapter of the book before tonight. After the reading, I waited for a more educated friend to give his take on this particular paragraph. And so it went. This chapter, written by the first 100 who got sober, are addressing the family afterwards, those families who had seen recovery happen for those first 100.

Well before the dawn of ALANON. Well before there was support for those who had suffered because of an alcoholic in their lives and families.

Which is why, at most large sober gatherings, ALANON is represented and afforded a place at the table. This past weekend, we had a representative from ALANON from Oakville, speak to the Round Up gathering.

In the Promises that come in Step NINE, we are told that
“We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.”

Those who come into the rooms, do so at their own peril, for the road to recovery is fraught with hard truths and hard work, to clear away the wreckage of the past, make inventories, speak those inventories, and figure out what makes us tick, then as the steps progress, we make those lists of people we need to make amends to.

Family, Friends, Employers, Institutions …

I’ve said many times before that sobriety is cyclical. Each pass at the steps, and each discussion, and each share, and each inventory we process, we make our lists. We process that list, and we file it away for posterity.

But as it always happens, some things die-hard. And quite often, the same issues pop up on inventories, over and over again. We read the same book, we work the same steps, and over time, we discuss and retread the same material over and over again.

As the cycle repeats itself, our lives are like the rough rock (read:Jewel) that finds itself on the polishing wheel of the master jeweler, Let’s call him GOD.

When we come in, beaten and bruised, we settle into our seats. Conventional wisdom speaks to the need to begin steps right away. I’ve heard this said by many old timers with solid track records in working with others.

I take a more Liberal View of Recovery.

I’ve been around a few 24. I know what happens when people come in the door the first time. We welcome people from far and wide, and invite them in for coffee and conversation.

People need to find their feet, so to speak. Before we throw steps at them, they really need to get a bearing on their surroundings, first. They need to find their seat, and get comfortable sitting in that seat. For many, that takes a long time.

Even though they might walk into a Big Book discussion meeting, does not necessarily mean that we throw them into the deep end of the pool right away, which is why we are discussing the book.

Steps begin, as usual. And the first pass at the stone occurs. The first cut is made. Then the Master jeweler looks at the stone to see how his cut looks, and then decides on which next direction he is to take or which cut he wants to impress on the stone.

Each pass at life issues, in the cyclical manner that recovery is, we tread over old material, but each consecutive pass, over the years, we see old pain and experience in the light of the day we are looking at it. In the moment. 

Each day moving forwards allows us to see each issue with new eyes, in new light, with a little more sober experience, strength and hope under our belts.

Every time we tell our stories, they become founts of wisdom for some, and for others, their stories are brutal reminders of just what kind of animal the alcoholic was, before he or she came in.

But in the light of a new day, may come to see the wisdom of the above referenced passage.

Cling to the thought that, in God’s hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have – the key to life and happiness for others.

We all have stories. Some far worse than others. Listen to a gathering of old timers telling stories about their lives, after decades of sobriety. Women and Men.

The themes are usually the same, the circumstances, though, differ widely.

They stuck around until the miracle happened for them. As we are advised, to stick around ourselves.

Families afterwards, and families during the clearing of that wreckage need a place to go to figure out who THEY are. And they figure out, for some, like our ALANON speaker this weekend, had to figure out for herself, because she was clueless at the start, that she indeed had been affected by an alcoholic during her lifetime.

Telling stories is not only beneficial for the drunk, telling stories is also beneficial for the families, friends, and significant others, of those who are with US in the ROOMS.

The offshoot of sister programs for people in recovery are as numerous as the (A) Groups that exist today. Which is why A.A. and ALANON work in tandem with each other so well.

We all have STEPS.

We all figure out who we were when we were using and drinking, and the sister members figure out who they are in tandem. They, like us, find solutions to their problems, as we find solutions to ours.

When I moved away from home I was 21 years old. What did I know of the big wide world I was walking into, I had no idea, but my ALCOHOLISM knew very well.

It knew who I was, it knew what I was. And it dictated where I was going to go and what I was going to do. All that valuable education and values, and morals went out the window when it came to my ALCOHOLISM.

I told strategic lies to certain people, because I was drinking my money away, faster than I could make it. And back then making money was the problem I faced over and over.

I’ve been out of my family home for thirty years now. I’ve seen my family, namely my mother and father a few times over the years. And I saw them even less, after I got sober.

I did not see my brother at all, after I moved away except, once, for Christmas many years ago.

All three of them tell the same story about me …

To this day, they blame for all of their problems. AND they blame me for the lives that happened, even though I was not even in the same state, or today, even in the same country.

Even though, when my father died in January, I attempted to make contact, to be a brother, and a son, to my brother and my mother, respectively, they kept the line, that I was not a part of this family, and that I was the cause of all of their problems.

None of them would have ever thought to find help, in ALANON or any sister program, because over the past twenty-five years of my life, I have been in and out of the rooms.

And since I got sober this last very long stretch, I made countless attempts at reconciliation and amends. Every attempt fell on deaf ears.

Fuck me for trying …

I wrote last night, about the forty-five year sober woman who spoke on Saturday night, at the keynote address. And I told that story to the group tonight. About my conversation with her.

She really did not want to make time to listen to me, after learning, after the fact what she had said and done to other sober members, over the weekend.

And her assertion that my behavior as a member of A.A. was unacceptable, casting aspersions, on my ability to know how to behave in a meeting, and I did not argue with her. I took her advice, and just walked away. shaking my head.

She told us her story and we are supposed to hold her up as a paragon of “right sobriety” seeing that she is as old as God. And we are told to never question the wisdom of an old-timer, because they have so many years of lived sober experience.

I call BULLSHIT on that.

I can tell you how many times old timers, or groups of them, have shunned me in a meeting. Telling me to leave, and never come back. That people like me are not condoned in the rooms of A.A. And that maybe I need to find someplace else to get sober, because they did not want me sitting in the same room with many of them.

And on Sunday, I shared ONE particular story of the worst day in my sobriety, when I was an emotional mess, the WORST day of my life in more than twenty-five years. And I told her how an old-timer with more than thirty years of sobriety, shunned me and insulted me and demeaned me.

And she had the balls to say to me that …
I DID NOT KNOW HOW TO BEHAVE IN A MEETING ???

I’ve been nothing but honest whenever I tell my story. I share openly here, because it really does not matter if I break my anonymity. As long as I don’t tell you I speak for anyone other than myself.

I represent nobody or any fellowship.

All I do here is tell stories.
I let you decide whether you want to read, comment or follow.

Every life matters. No matter who you are.

At the end of the meeting a member trans woman walked up to me and whispered in my ear …

I gather, that I understand what you meant when members told you to go. I get it that you were tossed out. She then told me how she was tossed out of meetings, and nail salons, and restaurants, because of who she is today.

Honesty is always the best policy.

You never know when someone in the room you sit in, will identify with you.

And say something kind in return.

You Wanna Argue with Happy ??

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Hindsight, they say is 20 /20 …

Seeing what is going on right now, won’t be the same as seeing it further down the road.

Some people did not get that memo when they came in.

Marcus Aurelius says that life is a river. It is always moving. What is in front of us in the moment, won’t be in front of us for very long. Because, very soon, what we are seeing, will become “what we have already seen.”

I heard a story tonight, that I had not heard from my friend, the last time I heard his speak. He is right, when he opened with …

I’m sitting up here. And for the most part, I know almost everyone sitting in this room. Some from the day I showed up, until tonight. Many of us, in that room, are kind and generous of heart and spirit. We’ve all had a “change of values,” now we have some time under our belts.

Keeping it real, simple, and humble is the key to happiness.

Each of us, know what we know, because of the people we know, the friends we have, and the company we keep. We know, that if we ask, it will be given, in the order of need. There isn’t anything one of us won’t do for someone in need. Even if they be US.

Last weekend I went to Ottawa to see my best friend. I Instagrammed the entire weekend. One of my long time friends, follows me. And tonight she said to me that “I look happy.” It’s a refrain she has used with me before. I went through a change in life, prior to my fiftieth birthday. A change she and everybody else noticed.

All of my friends, love me, each in their own ways. Each of them keep me humble. Sadly, some people missed that lesson, when it was taught.

We see it often. People with a little time, but mostly, with people with serious time, outgrow their pants, they cop resentments, and their ego’s grow beyond acceptable measures. They might not go back out and DRINK, but they are sure as shit DRY DRUNK.

Thank God I have good friends, who keep me in the stream.

I do very simple things. They are not very difficult. Like many of my friends, we all know what works. It’s very simple, the “plan for living.” Outlined in the book, we know where it is located, and we can turn to that plan in any given moment.

Sadly, there are those who have forgotten, the Simple Plan.

I know, the simple plan works. If I need to go fishing … I fish in the rooms. I don’t fish in the greater stream, they call, the outside world. I repeated this lesson to a friend tonight, who needs to go fishing. I told him to “fish in the rooms.”

Because the rooms are a Big Ocean. Filled with gifts, you might not be able to hook, in the real world, because of who we know, and that ripple of “who we know” grows exponentially, on any given night.

Our matriarch took Twenty Five Years tonight. She is a woman of grace and serenity. All the women I know, in the rooms, as far up the road, she is at, are all graceful and serene.

All I want, out of this life is grace and serenity. I don’t care what I have to do to find it, as long as I am in their company. Because if I keep doing simple things on a regular basis, and I keep showing up and be counted … I will be graceful and serene.

You can’t argue with Happy, can you ?

We know what it means to be happy, and how to get there.

My friends are happy, joyous and free. I want to be like many of my friends. Each of my friends, have pieces of the puzzle of life, I want. And the best way to attain those puzzle pieces is to spend time with each of my friends, doing simple things, like showing up, being present, and telling the truth.

We are grateful people.

I think that is the greatest gift.

GRATITUDE …

The Selfish Game …

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Tonight, we talked about Selfishness and Self Centered-ness.

Alcoholics have a particular ability, when we are IN The Work.

At some point, we are part of “community.” We find our places, we like to go. We find the people, we want to be our friends. We find a sponsor, who is going to be the sounding board for all of our nonsense, and bullshit. I heard a friend say tonight, that the man he works with is a noble, kind and loving human being.

Many of us, in that room, strive to be noble, kind and loving.

Being Noble, Kind and Loving, should be prerequisites to working with others.

They say that alcohol and drugs are but the symptom of a more serious problem. Those key words like: Selfish, Self Centered, and Fearful, are some of those things we deal with on a daily basis. Ego is anther one of those things I heard mentioned tonight.

The Big Word my friend used in this context was:

Concupiscence. Ardent, Longing, Desire.

He mentioned the word in, not the sexual connotation, but in the “Wanting More for himself.” And not in a selfish way. I think, that once we get a handle on our addictions, and we begin to rebuild our lives, from the ground up, at some point, we begin to become Right Sized, then we can safely begin to entertain … Wanting more for Ourselves.

If you are just sitting in a room, hoping Osmodically, that you are gonna GET IT, or FIND IT, you aren’t … One has to put in the work.

Some people, some of my friends, all they want, out of this life, is something more for themselves. Some of those wants might be grandiose, or grand. Been there, done that myself.

I’ve learned over the years, that I do want more for myself, but within reason.

It may not sound like I read the book, or practice all that needs to be practiced, on any given day, but in sixteen years and a few months, I have internalized a lot of the book, and what it tells us to do, on any given day. I’m no MONK, and I am surely not a SAINT.

But I try, on a daily basis, to be right sized. Working with others, keeps us right sized. Because I have known some, whose heads get too big, and they outgrow their pants, and when that happens, people are in trouble.

Over the last little while, an old timer with serious time, has gotten on his high horse. He’s outgrown his pants. His ego is riding the hog. And he shot his mouth off at a business meeting, and everybody sitting there witnessed it.

Last week, as alcoholics are won’t to do … I called him on his bullshit. Who else, can spot bullshit and ego at fifty paces ? WE CAN.

That old-timer told me to go fuck myself.

Who was right and Who was wrong ?

That particular old-timer tonight said that He did not believe in Altruism.

When we take an hour out of our nights, and go make coffee and set down chairs and tables, and we set up a meeting, ONE, we are helping ourselves, First … TWO, we are doing it because we are helping those who are gonna show up, on any given night.

Every time we put the needs of another before our own, we think altruistically.

I know, sure as the sun rises every day, that the day I decided, many years ago, in early sobriety, that the needs of my then boyfriend, were more important than my own, when he got terribly mentally sick, and I decided to STAY and not RUN away, I put all my eggs in his proverbial basket. And I took care of him.

That is when This Boy Became a Man.

I am sure as shit, I know this for sure. Because I spent the better part of my life waiting for the moment when I would cross that proverbial bridge, into my Man Hood.

It was only, in the service of someone I loved, that I became the man I am today.

Being in the rooms, helped me more than I could ever have imagined. Watching and Listening to other addicts and alcoholics, get clean and sober, and grow up themselves, helped me grow up myself.

All these years later, I can call bullshit and ego at fifty paces. Many of us can.

It takes courage for someone to say to themselves, and maybe to you, that,
“yeah, I think I am being an asshole …”

Rather than the affirmative response, you get told to Go Fuck Yourself.

How dare you call me on my shit, when you only have sixteen years of sobriety ?

Well, I am in the book, I do the work, I do the prerequisites, and I am sober. Sober to the degree I am at, at the present moment. And YOU my friend are an asshole and you have outgrown your pants, and your ego is getting a little grand for the rest of us. And not many of us are going to take the time to say something because they know you are going to tell them too … To Go Fuck Themselves on Holy Sunday …

One of my friends plays a “Selfish Game.”

She opens a conversation and talks until the other person, stops; and asks about HER. If it takes too long, she cops a resentment. Because for a long time, life was all about HER.

That’s why, the first question I ask of my friends, is All About Them.

Monday: Sobriety Through New Eyes

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This past week, a new rotation of working with others began. On Friday night, last, I started a new round of the Big Book, with one of my guys. It is interesting to see how my friends and fellows are growing up in sobriety.

Tonight, I sat with a young lady friend.

I sing her praises often, because I’ve seen her grow up before our very eyes over the past couple of years. I listen to her speak at meetings, and share within discussions, and with that said, I asked her to take me through the book, with her eyes and experience.

The thought when we approach the book, as of late is – Having a New Experience.

From the get go, reading the book with someone new, who is taking you through those hallowed pages, is a gift. I know my lady friend, and this endeavor is for me to learn what she knows, and how she came to know it.

I’ve been through the book with seasoned sober men and women over the past five years. I survived them. I don’t even see any of those men and women from the past, in meetings I go to. That is a thing.

People with A Lot of time under their belts have time, and the method is the same, as the book does not change. What changes is the presentation, and what each presenter believes is important for us, as followers to pay attention to.

My lady friend is a few years in, and I have “years” on her, what I don’t have, is her perspective, from her point of view. Tonight, as we began the read, I have already learned more from what we read tonight, than I had read over all the years I have been sober.

I’ve been lead through the book, with a template that has made the rounds, from sources in New York City. Now, I have a series of passes through the book, with that method. This time I wanted something new.

I get to go through the book, and I am walking one of my guys through the book at the same time, so he will learn, exactly what I am learning from my work.

Double Whammy !!!

Tonight, we hit Step One again, because we hosted newcomers at the meeting. The rule of thumb is, if it is your first meeting, we always default to Step One.

As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power. If anyone questions whether they have entered this dangerous area, let them try leaving liquor alone for one year …

The room snickers together…

If they are a real alcoholic and very far advanced, there is scant chance of success…

For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming of course, that the reader desires to STOP… This is the baffling feature of alcoholism as we know it – the utter inability to leave it alone, no matter how great the necessity or the wish.

When I left home, I really had no practical experience of living alone. I had always lived under someone else’s roof. Namely, my parent roof. I knew right from wrong, at least I thought I did, until it came to alcohol.

An alcoholic will break their standards quicker than they can lower them.

My body was just as fucked up as my brain was. What did I know then? Not Much. Who knew from values and morals, when the desire to drink to excess was the name of the game from the word GO ?

I know a lot of young people, who are working towards sobriety. Every time we hit Step One, I hear more insanity than I am capable of fully understanding.

Who knew, what my life would have looked like, if, on the first pass, when I got sober the first time, had someone like my friends today, had presented me the book, THEN, in the way they present the book TODAY, how different my life would have been.

But I had much bigger fish to fry, back in the day. And eventually, we all get to the point where FATE steps in, and God drops out of His heaven and says … STOP.

I was gifted with the word STOP, when it counted. It was the messaging that did not welcome me when it mattered. Nobody, I knew THEN, knew the book, as we KNOW the book TODAY.

I committed to my road. Or more to the point, my road committed to me, because it was ME that made those decisions based on self, and my base desires. We know today, that if it isn’t water, food, or sleep, it’s all about US.

And we have to be vigilant about ourselves when it comes to everything else, that does not have to do with staying alive, rudimentary.

IT NOT ABOUT GETTING SOBER IT IS ABOUT CONNECTING WITH THE POWER THAT IS GETTING ME SOBER.

Each of us is destined for that psychic change that will guarantee us hope. Then we can cultivate values IN a Power Greater than Ourselves.

One of my friends, a few months in, does not know if he GETS Higher Power. I heard him say tonight, though, he is months sober now. He landed a stellar job, by fluke. Before, he was into hard drugs, then alcohol, then he hit rock bottom.

Before he would say … The only thing I look forwards to is Friday night, so I can go out and get hammered. NOW, he says quite confidently, that He looks forward to Friday because he hits our meeting, on Friday night.

On Sunday’s he works in a soup kitchen in a homeless shelter every Sunday. Later on Sunday night, he hits his Home Group, Golden Slippers, where he does service, every week. We ingrained in him, Home Group, service to humanity, service to others in the room, sponsor and the book.

There is the obvious shift of perception.

Higher Power is doing for him what he could not do for himself.

I am extremely proud of my friend. It takes a village, and when he walked in, the village rose to meet him, along with all the others. I pay critical attention to him, because of who he is, the chosen profession he works in and also, he crossed my path at the right moment. I am engaged 100%.

Knowing his back story, tells me that if he fails, he has MUCH to lose. And we cannot let him fail. This is entirely on him. As long as we are present, daily, failure is NOT an Option.

There is much gratitude in the air tonight.

Friday: G.O.D. Group Of Drunks

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It has been an interesting week. I’ve always wondered when the other shoe was going to drop for me. Medically …

It seems 50 is going to bring me challenges that I was not expecting in any way. Over the past few months, I have had episodes of serious pain, in my back. So severe that I had to get serious pain killers. Thankfully, I’ve only had to take one so far.

I’ve been to see a osteopath, and she worked on me for an hour a few weeks ago, so I have access to her as often as needed. At $100.00 a visit, that ain’t cheap. But insurance now covers 80%.

Two weeks ago I saw my doctor. who went into my image file when I had my osteoporosis check up and bone density tests and my x-rays of my back, and he missed this little problem, when those tests were done, because we were not looking for a problem, with my bones. So it was overlooked.

He looked again, now that I presented pain issues in a location that had not, in the past bothered me. And he found bone deterioration disease in my spinal column. Namely in L 3-4 and 5. On Sunday last, I had a CT scan on my back. This week, my doctor told me that I really needed to be seen by a spinal surgeon. He therefore took that scan to a consult with said spinal surgeon, that I am still waiting to hear from.

With that said, I am on desk duty. No heavy lifting of furniture, which means that set up has come to an abrupt end. I had to call in the reserves to help me out. My friends all stepped up to do what I cannot do any longer.

Thank God I can still make coffee …

Tonight we read about the fellowship and its humble origins. Appropriate that I started a new round of Big Book study, with one of my guys, before the meeting tonight. A.B.S.I. touched on that topic tonight.

We Should Not Toot Our own Horns, nor take credit and be self-congratulatory.

We all put our pants on one leg at a time. I am not the center of the universe. There is a God, and I know that I am NOT God.

What we cannot do alone, we can do, sitting in a room with our friends, together. If I pray, if we pray, it does not matter to WHOM we are praying, but that we ARE Praying.

A very respected old-timer once said that in a meeting …

IT DOES NOT MATTER WHOM YOU PRAY TO, ONLY THAT YOU PRAY…

It’s that simple.

I also know that if I pray to God, which I do … And I don’t get a direct answer from God, then I know I have to hit a meeting, and listen to my friends. With the proviso that if I go seeking an answer, I have to be attuned to listen for that voice coming from around me.

We take very seriously the work we do as a group, on Friday night. And when one of our people fades, and hits the skids, everybody steps into action. On Monday, I went to the meeting and met a friend, sitting on the periphery. Looking forlorn and lost.

She had drunk again.

Not long before, she was standing up front handing out Beginners chips…

I asked her what happened ? She told me.

Giving someone sober directions, while in an alcoholic stupor, does not work.

I gave her sober advice any ways. Welcomed her, told her we loved her and asked her to sit within the group, and NOT on the periphery.

She did not make it through the meeting in one piece.

She left before I could get to her, by the end. I did not see her go.

Tonight, as a group we spoke about what we can do together, and how we all keep RIGHT SIZED, and everything in perspective. That perspective only works when where are sitting in the same room together.

At the end of the meeting another friend took her two-year cake.

As the crowd of congratulations dispersed, my young lady was standing in front of me, all smiles. She has been sober three days. She thanked me for speaking to her and keeping her within the group circle and not having tossed her aside because she drank again.

She took a chip on Wednesday night.

What we cannot do alone, we CAN DO together.

It takes a village …

And we are a village, for sure.

You never know when you are going to save a life.

Constant Vigilance !!!

Tuesday: Let’s Talk About Sex !

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You know a meeting is going to be interesting, when we hit page 69, in the Big Book. The Paragraph that begins with … Now About Sex !

A fellow who is a bit dyslexic, shared last night, that instead of going to page 69, he went to page 96, where it says:

Do not be discouraged if your prospect does not respond at once. Search out another alcoholic and try again. You are sure to find someone desperate enough to accept with eagerness what you offer …

Kind of apropos when you go back to page 69, and we hit the sex inventory.

Sex is a taboo topic across the board.

Yet, sex is one of those issues that either keeps people suffering in their addictions, because let’s face it, sex and alcohol, go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, can you? OR, sex, is one of those issues that send people back out to drink and use again, because they cannot either, one, face the issue head on, or, two, cannot get enough of it.

Shame, Fear and Guilt rank right up at the top of the list of reasons why we shy away from this topic. I mean really, I don’t know one single old-timer, in my time, in the room, who dared even to ask about my sex inventory. What straight man or woman wants to hear a gay man’s tale of woe?

Both men and women feel Shame, Fear and Guilt. Equally. 

They just rarely admit that in open community.

Everybody struggles with this question … How can I have sex sober, when all I know is sex while drunk and high? Many of my gay male friends struggle. I don’t have all the answers. All I know is what worked for me.

We all know the First Year Rule… No relationships for the first year.

How many people, follow that advice ? NOT MANY !!!

Really, do we really know ourselves in early sobriety, if we have not written a complete and honest (what is considered honest, in your first year) inventory ? Do we really know what makes us tick, if our sponsors don’t run through the ENTIRE inventory process ?

We all struggle. We just won’t openly admit that to many. Even our sponsors.

Until we do a fifth step and our sponsors look at us and say … YEP I did that !!!

I heard many good things last night. Honesty and forthrightness is common in our Monday group of young people. They are starving, well, not necessarily starving, but they are eager to jump right into dicey discussions, because we don’t often, NOT often enough, speak about this topic.

One of my friends says that sex is like oxygen. You need both, on a daily basis. And if he needs to check how sober he is, on any given day, he looks at his sex conduct.

When my father died, I wrote my sex inventory, in a letter to my brother. Telling him the story he needed to hear, right from the horse’s mouth.

My sex education began at home. With reading material my father had left out for public consumption. My father, when I hit puberty, in my early teens, did talk to me about sex, because he thought that would be helpful to me. Sadly, I was already gay by then, and he did not mention men to me at all.

In school, sex education began in Junior High. That was an eye-opening portion of our lessons. Right down to the actual birth of a baby, live and in color, in film format.

When I moved away to be Gay, alcohol, I was told, would “grease the wheels.” All I had to do was sit in a bar and drink, and wait for fireworks.

Back in the day, we all had certain assets. I knew what mine were.

Nightly BINGO was on the table, all the time. I moved into an apartment complex, right near the Tragic Queendom. That little section of town, just off Hotel Plaza Boulevard, was chock full of complexes filled with boys who worked in the Queendom.

Yes, that’s right … MANY a gay boys work at the Tragic Queendom.

If there was alcohol, drugs were not far behind. And sex, well, that was a given. I loved that period of time, mainly for “some” of the people who were alive back then. I could care less about many of the boys I was involved with. Because, let’s face it, we were not men in our twenties, because the mainstay of my twenties was irresponsibility.

Really not a MAN quality for sure.

I got burned more often than I cared to admit or cared for. Sad really. But who knew, I was in it for the long haul way back when? I did not hit that point, until I hit the ripe age of thirty-five.

There was no book on good gay sex, or how to be a good gay man. I mean, I knew how to date, and drink, and have sex. Beyond that, all bets were off. Rent needed to be paid and food put in the fridge, stuff like that.

Blender or Bottle …
The one relationship, I was truly fond of was Charlie. I really liked him. We spent a lot of time together, watching Mary Poppins, drinking and having sex. I don’t know what it was, but he was the real deal. There was no ruse or pretension. We both knew what we wanted from each other, and I think that was what was the difference from all the other boys I had dated in that period of time.

Either he or I would call and ask only one question. Bottle or Blender. If that was the question asked, sex was imminent.

No fuss, no bull shit.

Money was hard to come by, for me. Even when I was employed for what little time, I remember being employed. A lot of the time, I think about the time I spent traveling from point A to point B. Riding the Orlando, Daytona corridor and up to the Palm Coast, down to Fort Lauderdale and even Miami.

The pivotal period of time came when I hit twenty-five. And on that auspicious night I walked into the Stud, for the very first time. I had darkness in my heart and mind, and from the shadows, off stage, Todd (read: God) was watching.

Todd, the only human being, in my life, that harnessed the Power of God.

Knew, from our very first conversation, what was going on in my head. And in one fluid action, he sealed that deal for me. And endeared me to himself forevermore.

He knew, I wanted something hard. Little did I know, then, that He would have my better interest in mind. Because He did.

That fantasy life, I thought I wanted and dreamed and pined about, never came to fruition. Not Ever. Not One drop from that well.

Even working in a leather bar all those years did not produce one drop of sweet, dark, nectar. Even when I begged a certain couple to engage me.

Boulder-dash !!!

Todd was protecting me from myself, all along. And let’s face the reality, no one wanted to have sex with a man with AIDS, at least me, for that matter. Because many other infected men were riding the hobby-horse, all over the place. I just could not tap that well, for the life of me.

ONCE … not long into the drama, I was bar tending one night, and I happened upon someone who drew a fancy to me. It was probably the shorts and leather I was wearing that particular night.

After hours, we hit the COPA for drinks and some dancing. Later we went to his place to do the deed. I needed to DISCLOSE.

We were half-naked walking in the front door, and I just blurted it out. It was the first time, I would have had sex, after my diagnosis. I may have been deathly sick, but I looked good doing it, for better or worse.

I saw fear cross his brow … I never watched some one put their close back on so fast in my life. It was like the SLO MO film being rolled backwards right in front of me.

He asked me to leave and never speak to him again. And for that matter, he continued to patronize the bar, for the next year, ignoring me like I did not even exist.

HARSH !!!

A few years into sobriety, I hit that wall of people in the rooms, who did not want me around them. Which sent me into my head, and opened that chasm of the HOLE in my SOUL. And that whole sordid affair with a slip, drugs and alcohol.

IF ONLY …

We cannot live in If Only’s though.

Today, I know very well, that I cannot be trusted, in many cases, to my own thoughts alone. If for one moment, I don’t use the barometer check, I am in trouble.

All I need to do is close my eyes and visualize Todd. And ask one question:

W.W.T.D.

What would Todd Do ???

When I met hubby, fifteen years ago, we had a short few months of dating and sex, and shaking up together, before the walls caved in on us, and he got very sick. From his nervous breakdown, to today, I can count on one hand, the number of times we have had sex, in fourteen years.

Because within his treatment for Bi-Polar disorder, what the doctors did not tell me, when we began his treatment, was this …

The man who went into treatment, was NOT the man I got on the backside.

Those toxic drugs cleaved away half of his brain. And the man I knew from me. He was entirely another human being when he woke from his slumber off the sofa.

Lazarus might have been raised from the dead, but he was no longer Lazarus.

In the gay world, disease is a deal breaker. Some said walk away, others counseled me to stay the course. I stayed the course. And a good thing too.

Relationships are not all about sex when intimacy is the goal. The good thing today, is that we have intimate time together. Sleeping next to each other, napping, or at night, is a most intimate time for both of us.

Just laying next to him in bed is just something else.

The breathing, the rhythm. The quiet. Intimate …

We reviewed our conduct over the years past. Where had we been selfish, dishonest or inconsiderate? Whom had we hurt? Did we unjustifiably arouse jealousy, suspicion or bitterness? Where were we at fault, and what should we have done instead?

In this way we tried to shape a sane and sound ideal or our future sex life. We subjected each relation to this test – was it selfish or not? We asked God to mold our ideals and help us live up to them. We remembered always that our sex powers were God-given and therefore good, neither to be used lightly or selfishly nor to be despised and loathed.

Whatever our ideal turns out to be, we must be willing to grow toward it.

I can honestly answer these questions today. I know what my ideal is. One thought that always reminds me of who hubby was, and is, is this …

I never want to break his heart.

And for that I am eternally grateful.

Friday: Personal Inventory

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The mail came this afternoon, and I was totally stoked to see my new Adidas kicks were delivered. Not sure if I will shop at this seller again, because of the drama surrounding their method of delivery. Suffice to say, they got here, in the end.

Weather warnings are up for the city tonight. Depending on where the wind blows from will either bring ample rain and freezing rain, or ample snow. If it snows, it will be the first snow of the season. Montrealers’ are feverishly trying to get their snow tires on, and mechanics Island wide are asking for patience.

People do not have any patience when it comes to critical motor services. They want what they want, when they want it, on their terms. Nobody thinks about the people on the other end of those services, they can only service one car at a time, across the city. Every mechanic who works on tires is suffering the scorn of the many, because they cannot work on ALL the CARS all at the SAME TIME.

People are merciless.

Tonight, we talked about inventories.

People who come to the rooms, and begin working their steps, eventually get to their first personal inventory in Step four. Working beyond that step, we encounter inventories in Steps ten and eleven. The foreign concept of “Personal Inventory” becomes familiar. And if we are diligent, going forwards, we learn how to do spot inventories at night before bed, and first thing the very next morning.

Some get it, many don’t.

It takes a long time to be able to learn how to make the steps sing in our favor. This is the honest truth. It took me a VERY long time to learn how to incorporate all the work, on a daily basis. And still, to this day, I am far from being perfectly able to do it all properly.

But my comments tonight, looked at the wisdom of those around me. Not everybody is at the same place, seeing that people I know are at various lengths of sobriety. The one common problem they share is this: People sure know how to take ones inventory. We are really good at taking each other’s inventory.

And my observations of my fellow-men and women is this: People who are LONG sober, who knew me years ago, have a set perception of me. In that, at some point I pissed some folks off with my acerbic observations of my fellows. They took those observations and took my inventory. And to this day, they LIVE in my inventory.

People are not kind.

People who are supposed to be LONG sober, are not very Sober. I know how those folks treat me in public, in front of others. Ignoring people is a common experience. People are judgmental and rude and obnoxious. I changed up my meetings not far back, and I watched people who live in former incarnation of me. None of them allow me to progress in their sober eyes. They see me one way, and that’s the way it goes.

I was involved with a second fellowship for a long time, working with a number of young people. Many of them worked steps with me, and are still sober today. At one point, I cracked in public, in front of my friends and fellows. My calm, serene, sober exterior cracked. And my friends took inventory, and decided I was then, an untouchable.

An entire community of people, sober a few years, decided that my emotional spit up was unacceptable. Beyond the understanding of people who did not know any better.

Today, many of those young people, still live in that incarnation inventory. There is nothing I can do about that now, and there was nothing I could have done about it then either.

We are very educated in taking each other’s inventories. And we are woefully unable to look at ourselves, and take our inventory at the same time, and see where we might have been wrong, judgmental and short with each other.

There is a learning curve there. It’s not up to me to point these things out to my fellows. I just have to go on with my life.

I worked very hard over the past two years to become the best incarnation of myself that I can be. Life is a fluid medium. Life is always changing. But people are unforgiving with each other, when they form a visual of you and at the same time, not allowing that visual to grow up and become better than we were when shit happened.

I’m not very happy, with my long sober friends. who aren’t really my friends any longer. Because of how they treat me in front of others. I am sure as shit, that I do not want to be like those people.

Most people don’t care for me, or my brand of sobriety. They look at me funny and openly comment that my routine sober functionality is not for them. My simple suggestions and the usage of ones phone is too much to ask of them.

I follow the same routine I learned sixteen years ago. That routine has saved my ass from insanity over and over again. I show up, early. I do service. I reach out.

It is too easy to be judgmental – it is too easy to be unkind. It is too easy to use the same excuse over and over that, effort is in short supply, because people like it Numb and Dumb with Simple Stupidity.

Nobody wants me to point that out. They’d rather I kept my mouth shut.

I am still sober, sixteen years later.

Because of friends who stand with me, every day.

There is a rule of Three, I heard a friend speak about:

  • There are those who will AGREE with you
  • There are those who will DISAGREE with you
  • And There are those who just DON’T CARE one way or another

I don’t have to please everybody, because of the Rule of Three. All I need to do in remember that not everybody is my friend, and that is their problem not mine.

It was a good night. with good conversation.

Grateful …