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.

Violence in Sacred Spaces

Al Noor Mosque Christchurch New Zealand

I’ve waited for the dust to settle to speak about recent events. Violence in Sacred Spaces is not an issue that happens in other places, other countries, other provinces, other cities.

Here in Quebec, Alexandre Bissonette walked into a mosque in Quebec City and killed six worshipers, praying in their sacred space. The Muslim community is still reeling from that violence, because it happened again.

This time, New Zealand was the country where peaceful men and women lived, because they felt safe, and accepted by the people of Christchurch, a little over a week ago, a man walked into Al Noor mosque, and a second mosque and killed fifty people and injured many more.

I think to myself, violence in sacred spaces is not new. Dylan Roof walked into a Christian church and killed indiscriminately.

I’m not sure where the notion of killing people in sacred spaces began, I cannot recall, by my memory, where this line of attack was delivered to the masses, that killing of religious people was an acceptable choice.

TODAY … here in Montreal, in one of the most hallowed religious churches in Montreal, St. Joseph’s Oratory, on Mount Royal, a priest was in the middle of saying mass in the main sacred space, where worshipers gather from all over the world, and from our own community, a man walked up to him, during the commission of saying mass, and stabbed the priest in broad daylight, in front of a church full of innocent people, and tried to kill him.

Thankfully, the video shows, how people in the church jumped in to part the two men, and to save the priest from death … The elderly priest was rushed to the Montreal General Hospital, with non-life threatening stab wounds. He was later released, is in good shape, save a little beaten up by the experience, saying … He wants to go back to work, in a place of peace.

I was raised in the church. I served Holy Mother church for many years, and I thought serving the church as a vocation was going to be my lot in life, but God, had other plans. I know today, through considerable reflection about God, He knew the location was not right, nor were the people in that place. I know this today.

Today I serve my God, in many capacities, through the rooms of recovery, and with my friends and fellows. This is the life I always wanted, but it took a turn down a rabbit hole to get here.

I studied Religion and Theology in University and I have two sacred pieces of paper, who attest to my knowledge and my educational abilities.

I just don’t understand what drives people to walk into a sacred space and kill people. I mean really, you could choose any location to do that kind of murder. I believe it is some kind of shock factor that people get a rise out of killing in a church or a mosque, as if to say,

NONE OF YOU ARE SAFE, ANYWHERE !!!

That is just sick and demented.

It saddens me every time we hit this act of terror, where ever it may happen. The battle of the religious groups is historical. It goes back millennia. I mean the world began with conquest and religious strife.

The world moved from rags to riches, because men with religious leanings, got on a boat and traversed the oceans, only to find, indigenous peoples, living their lives, as they did, only to arrive, approach, and kill. So that they could plunder their riches to fill their coffers back at home, and to become filthy rich.

Some by sword, Some by war, and for the most part, by disease.

Indigenous communities all over the world, a millennia ago, were decimated by disease, brought to the new world by the conquerors of Holy Mother Church. Millions of people died, in the first scourges of religious warfare of sacred spaces.

In Europe, the battle between the three monotheistic religions, they being Christianity, Islam and Judaism, built, lived, fought and died, to bring their superior religion to an area, and conquer people into submission.

Killing in Sacred Spaces is not a new proposal.

There is really nothing we can say, as a whole that will make a hill of beans difference, because governments sit on their hands when it comes to logical process of stopping mass killings.

But New Zealand has done something the world over were gobsmacked by. In SIX DAYS, out from the double mosque killing, New Zealand, passed a common sense gun control measure, banning military type guns from New Zealand.

SIX DAYS … Imagine what the rest of the world could do in six days, if we had the resolve and the backing of governmental parties, if we ourselves could make this kind of resolution, and make it stick.

SIX DAYS !!!

We mourn the loss of our brothers and sisters in other places. We pray for them and their communities and their families.

If we were able to say, Never Again, and make it stick we would. But that is just not possible, because crazy, gun nuts, fucked up people are still out there. They just need the right dog whistle blown in their ears, and they too, may one day, commit another heinous act of terrorism.

Killing has to STOP.

We must act, NOW.

Let us pray for our departed brothers and sisters.


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.

When Hope Fails …

This piece was written by my Spiritual Director. I wanted to share it, AND write on this subject, because I have experience with Hope.

When Hope Fails

I was talking with someone who has decided not to hope any more. “Why?” I asked. “Because when the hope is unfulfilled, it hurts too much, so it’s better not to hope.”

There’s something wrong with that. But I understand it.

Proverbs 13:12
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.”

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
“but when dreams come true, there is life and joy”

I want to talk about hope a bit today. And I want to start in the Psalms.

Psalm 33:13-22
13 The LORD looks down from heaven
and sees the whole human race.
14 From his throne he observes
all who live on the earth.
15 He made their hearts,
so he understands everything they do.
16 The best-equipped army cannot save a king,
nor is great strength enough to save a warrior.
17 Don’t count on your warhorse to give you victory– for all its strength, it cannot save you.

God has a wonderful perspective of us and our little things. Nothing is hidden from his eternal, creating eyes.

He is able to see the whole human race, every heart, every mind, every one of our thousand secrets.

He’s able to see your motivations, that indeed you meant well even if it didn’t come out as you had hoped.

He created the hearts of men and women, to beat and beat and beat and give them life and breath. And Hopes and Dreams.

So, it says, “He understands”. Like no one else in creation.

He understands our desires. He understands our wishes. He understands our hopes. He understands our dreams.

He understands, and wants to remind us that sometimes our perspective isn’t great. Sometimes we can only see from here to the other side of the room. He see’s into eternity.

See, we often place our hope in the wrong things.

He reminds us…
A powerful army isn’t strong enough for a king. A good horse won’t give you victory, it can’t save you.

Strength won’t save us, neither will might.

The health system, blessed as we are to have it, won’t save us.
The government can’t save us.

We place our hopes in these powerless things.

We hope in due process. In the legal system.
We hope in our money, to provide a way out.
We hope in others to help us out.
We hope a relationship will work out.
We hope for a great job.
We hope in our children to make the right choices.
We hope for great presents.
We hope in our parents, to be perfect.
We hope that the pastor will have some answers.
We hope to roll up the rim and win!

Yet John 16:33 says “In me you will have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.”

Take Heart!

What happens when our strength isn’t enough? When our armies fail and our warhorses are not enough? What happens when hope fails and is deferred?

Lets continue in Psalm 33

18 But the LORD watches over those who fear him,
those who rely on his unfailing love.
19 He rescues them from death
and keeps them alive in times of famine.

Remember the one who’s perspective is from eternity?
The one who see’s everyone, who knows your heart?

He says he will watch over those who respect Him.

Those of you who rely on his unfailing love.
He will rescue you from the anguish of death. He will keep you from eternal death, and provide you with eternal life.

And, he will keep you as you live through seasons of famine. Not just physical hunger, but emotional hunger, spiritual dryness.

He won’t always stop the famine from coming, but he is able to keep you alive through it!!!

He won’t always stop the illness, or the poverty, or the joblessness, or the dryness. But he can keep you alive through it.

He will walk with you through the hopelessness. Through the heartsickness of unanswered hope.

You see, often we place our hopes in the things that can’t save us. In the temporary things that we can’t change. In our power and might.

We may even place our hope in Christ to change the story, the situation, yet that may not be the very best for us.

When our hope is deferred…
When it feels like God has not heard us…

We have 2 choices.

1. Get bitter
-Get angry. At God and humanity. And yourself.
-Never hope again because it always fails you anyway.

Or

2. Trust in God. Refocus your hope.

Remember, the one who loves you, who knows you, who made you.
When hope fails, we need to raise it up a level.

PSALM 33
20 We depend on the LORD alone to save us.
Only he can help us, protecting us like a shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we are trusting in his holy name.
22 Let your unfailing love surround us, LORD, for our hope is in you alone.

When our only hope is in man’s strength and ability, and that fails, it means we’ve been aiming to low. We need to lift our focus higher.

Only He can help us. Only He can protect us as life goes on all around us.

Because our hearts rejoice in him. They find life and meaning in knowing Him.

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a friend who had been ill for some time.
1970’s heart attack. Heart disease for years.
Put on a heart transplant list, became too ill for that.

As he was dying, and his human hope was deferred a final time, he was able to rejoice and be glad. Because he knew the one who knew him. He trusted in God and his heart rejoiced.

For his family too. The funeral was a real, true celebration of hope. And Gods faithfulness through life and in death.

This is how it is possible for those who have experienced tremendous brokenness and hopelessness, to actually rejoice and be glad. Because they knew the maker of their hearts.

Where is your true hope? In the things of this earth? Or in the things of Heaven?

Have you had hope deferred, even by God? He who knows and created your human heart understands.

Lift up your eyes, your broken hearts.
Trust the one with the higher perspective. Trust in God.

This is my story about HOPE.

When one is faced with a terrible situation, and the end of the line is your next stop, one really learns about hope. When we are faced with odds that are against us, we learn about hope. When doctors tell you that you are going to die, go home, kiss your ass goodbye, and wait to die …

You learn what hope is. Because before you get there, hopelessness really does set in, because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. And the light you do see, is the train coming at you, at 100 miles per hour.

Before hope sets in, if the odds are really dire, you think to yourself, that “no, I’m not gonna die that way, so I am going to take matters into my own hands, and do what I think is best for me.” ” No, I am gonna kill myself, my own way, so as to defer sickness and pain, in the short term.”

Then, GOD steps out of Heaven, and says … STOP !

Heaven is always respectful of our free will. Heaven never pushes itself on us, but holds its breath, to see which way we will choose ?

I had two choices. I could STOP, or I could go to the bitter end, and blot out the suffering, until Death did come for me, on my twisted terms.

I know God. I’ve met Him. I walked with Him, and I communed with Him.

God had other ideas. Hope was not one of them, because there was no hope. True, I was gonna die, sooner or later. I knew that. But words were spoken, out of love and compassion.

Those words told me that I did have a choice, about how I was going to attack death, and live to tell the story. That was he decision I made.

God was there. I was not alone. All I needed to do was follow directions.

Now, you might ask, how did you find the path to hope ? I didn’t.

I don’t know how you bounce back from being told, “You are going to die, there is no hope, so get on the ride, and ride it.”

Sometimes, when you are marked for death, there is no return. Sadly, the percentages of life after death diagnosis are slim. I’ve seen both sides of this coin in as many years. I know, that sometimes people die. That illness and sickness is capricious.

I can tell you what I did, every day.

Inside the four walls of the bar I worked in, was a safe space. The good thing about psychology is this, “sometimes it works.”

I had much going on in my mind at that time. Worries that were beyond my capacity to grasp them. I had serious issues. Death, was just one of them. My alcoholism was the other. I had to attack BOTH at the same time.

Needless to say, life had become Hopeless.

I was not moaning over the fact that I could not drink any longer. Once I got passed the point of acceptance, drinking became a non issue. I was working in the belly of the beast, in a BAR, for God’s sake.

Really, death was the only dance I had to dance.

I had to start stacking alive days. So we could say, in Jimmy Settle terms, was that July 8th 1994, was my first death day.

Every day forwards would become another “death day.”

I came to work. But the day this all began, it was a challenge. I was loved, and that’s what mattered. I was told that I could follow directions, and if I did, I would live. I was down for that from the get go, no matter how hard I battled against my worse nature, because I kicked and screamed and cried an awful lot, in those first few months.

But I listened to advice, and I did what I was told. And every day that I lived, I trusted in the advice given. Come to work. Leave the baggage of the outside world, OUTSIDE the door. When you cross the threshold, the only thing you need to think about, is the job you are given, on any given night, and ONLY that.

Getting to shut off my brain, for a few hours, on a nightly basis, worked.

I did not have to think about dying, inside. Because I watched it come for everybody else around me, in the patrons who were sick, who patronized the bar I worked in.

They all Died. I survived them all.

I stacked enough days, that when I got to my literal “death day,” and I was still alive, I went on with life. I don’t think you can call this hope, because, I was still very sick, and death, was still a “Clear and Present Danger.”

When you live with “Clear and Present Danger” one learns how to govern expectations, and life itself.

I have twenty five years of living with Clear and Present Danger.

I take nothing for granted.

I’m no longer hopeless. I don’t suffer from a three fold disease, Mental, Physical and Spiritual disease. Alcoholism is an every day job. Living is a bit higher on that list. As long as I live, and I don’t drink today, I have a fighting chance.

If I take my will back and decide that I am going to go it alone, I am literally FUCKED !!!

I know God. I’ve met Him. If I close my eyes, and sit still and be quiet, I can see Him in my minds eye, and I can even hear His voice.

I’m alive. And if you find hope in this story, then I did my job.

Hope comes, when you stack enough ALIVE DAYS together, and you live, longer than you thought you would, not only does hope come, but more importantly, GRATITUDE comes.

Gratitude does amazing things when you have no hope. Because if you can be grateful for one thing a day, there is hope.

You cannot have hope and NOT be grateful, because a by product of gratitude is hope.

That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Hatred Kills …

I have an uncanny ability, to see dead people. For the whole of my life, every family member, in my family, who has passed on, has come back to me, specifically. I’ve spoken about this many times before. But it bears repeating for this entry.

I was born to a couple, who, in the 1960’s were avid Catholics, who towed the party line when it came to sex and procreation. Be fruitful and multiply the church said. No Birth Control. No Premarital Sex. So Forth and So On.

My parents did not heed those words very carefully, and I think that if the local priest found out about the Premarital Sex, they would have been in hot water, so to speak. But eventually the church would catch up to them many years later when my brother was born, and the doctors told my mother that she could not have any more children. With that said, doctors performed a tubiligation. A No No when it comes to religion.

My parents were summarily EXCOMMUNICATED from the church.

So, I was born. And we were off to the races. For the whole of my life my parents beat into me a trinity of vitriol. The main point was this:

“You were a mistake and should never have been born.”

They kept that line going for more than fifty years. FIFTY YEARS.

The last time I saw my parents alive, and in person, was on New Years Day January 1st, 2001. Almost a year, till the day I got sober again, on December 9th, 2001. But I was stone cold SOBER the day we had a very abbreviated visit. Little did they know what would happen over the next calendar year for me and for them.

Being legally Gay was nail number ONE. Legally changing my name to protect my body and soul from defilement by my parents who hated me, was nail number TWO. Then jumping the border in April of 2002, was nail number THREE.

They were not happy I jumped the border, in order to survive and to get a life I thought was mine for the taking, since nobody was interested in being family, or better yet, being my friend. My brother included.

To this day, I am a mistake. I am the cause of all my families problems. And as my mother told me the last time I spoke to her in person, that litany was repeated, with another piece of information, she dug deep into my heart, because she is a stone cold bitch… “If I die, nobody is going to call you.”

My father came back, a couple of weeks after he died to say he was “sorry.” My mother had visited me prior to this a number of years ago. This time she appeared and stayed here for two days and nights. Repeating the litany of vitriol and telling me she was dead. Kind of odd, that in person she said just the opposite to me, in person. And now that she was supposedly DEAD, she came back to rub it in my face.

I wonder if God had anything to do with this skullduggery ???

I cannot for the life of me reconcile how parents can create a child then spend its entire life, telling him that he was a mistake and should never have been born, and hating on me so hard.

Well, I know how they do it. Because both my brother and myself lived in the same house they did when they copped resentments and dug in for the kill, with shutting off family light switches for LIFE !

If they hated, the kids were to hate. If they did not like someone, the kids would not like them either. In obedience of my father’s hateful edicts and rules. Summarily, I did not agree with blanket hatred, but my brother was eager to please. And my father bred my brother and trained him very well, in the fine art of spiteful hatred, just BECAUSE.

When my father died, nobody called. I learned of his death from my cousin, who lives in B.C. who sent me a death notice on my Face Book account. That was a shit show. For it only took three day for my brother to deign to call me back after the horrid message I left him.

He did not want to hear anything from me, nor wanted to hear my side of any story at all. With that he hung up and that was the last time I spoke to him, on January 10th, 2018.

So my mother shows up and tells me it’s over. Nobody called, and to this day not one person in the family I speak to, nor anyone else, can corroborate this news FROM my mother in spirit form, to me in HUMAN form.

FUCK ME !

The Big Book tells us that “Resentments are the number one offender for an alcoholic.” We do not have the luxury of justified anger nor resentment, lest it drags us back to drink, or better yet DEATH.

My parents feed off anger and resentment, Like Good Alcoholics will. So I should forgive them and let it go right? WRONG!

I did not get my day in court. I did not get to speak my mind to anyone. Because if anyone allowed me to speak my mind, that would legitimize my existence, and they would be forced to listen to me speak about my EXPERIENCE.

My parents and brother are all about DE-LEGITIMIZING my existence. Because if they allowed me my voice to speak, they would have to accept my existence and my experience as valid and worthy of attention.

Not So Fast Grasshopper …

The delusion, well, the Utopian delusion, that I believe that in every human there is a kernel of compassion, and goodness. If they choose to tap it. And I woefully believed that one day we would all grow up, and come to the table and reconcile and sing Kumbaya together …

Well, that delusion is now smashed !!!

I haven’t seen my brother in probably thirty odd years. When I was sick and dying he NEVER called, nor did he ever visit me. Not ONCE. Never called to see where I was, or why I left, and what the real story was, because he was defiled by my parents, because he was the one who STAYED.

I was the one who LEFT. Because over my lifetime, I knew what they were thinking, because I spent a lifetime listening to them talk between themselves and others, about social, sexual, and political topics.

GAY and AIDS were at the top of that list, not to mention Blacks, Jews, and Homosexuals.

(These are the politically correct terminologies, the words my father actually used, should never be spoken in public)

My parent could quote you Bible verse and scripture, when in reality, they had a Bible, but never tapped it in my presence. They usually stuck to the seven phrases, Evangelical Christians use against all things homosexual.

Funny that.

So my brother is eternally mad at me, saying that I chose not to be part of the family, what he lacks is the WHY I chose to walk away, and who forced me to walk away, with variants of hatred and death coming from their mouths.

When people tell you shit like “you’re a mistake,” and when you are going to die, to try and hasten your death, by asking you to “Just Die Already,” something is wrong with that picture, don’t you think?

I had every right to protect myself from people who, I knew, that if I died they would be next of kin, and could come in and take me where ever they figured they thought I should spend eternity, by myself, in some unmarked grave somewhere, or better yet a box, stuffed in a closet, God Forbid !!

They would never have had an urn of my ashes in their house… No way Jose.

So I took those matters into my own hands to prevent that from ever happening. Then I jumped the border, much to their consternation.

I am damned if I do and I am damned if I don’t.

How do you reconcile this dilemma? I have no idea.

A wise friend told me tonight that:

“And yet…you’re here, and not a day goes by that you don’t cast your own light on the lives of others, including mine. In spite of your founding environment, you succeeded in pursuing a life of purpose and kindness to others. I hope you never lose sight of the good, my friend Jeremy, because there’s so much of it in you.”

I love my friends …

Nuff said …