Vanity

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

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

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

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

IT DID.

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

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

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

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

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

I had both …

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

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

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

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

This little exploration of Vanity was vetoed over dinner.

I guess that is that for now.

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

Friday – Updates and Thoughts

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Things are not as they should be right now. One of my sponsees is sitting in a hospital at this hour with a friend visiting from out of town, and during this evening, found out she has an ectopic pregnancy. She is going to loose the baby. Or more to the point, the baby is going to be removed, because it is not viable where it is.

A very sad note for this evening. But both women are doing the best they can at this hour.

Say a prayer for them both.

This evening I sat with an Old Timer from our Best Night of the Week Meeting, before the meeting. And I shared verbal diarrhea with him. We traded ideas of what should happen next, his first response to that question was “The Third Step Prayer…”

Discussion followed.

We have similar thought about a great many things. One thought that came up is that people don’t seem to appreciate the work that goes into a meeting. Starting with managing that space, paying the bills, doing the shopping, setting up, making coffee, washing dishes, and breaking down.

A whole host of people take part in the nightly event (Around the world).

Managing a meeting is a thankless job. And is never really truly appreciated, because you never hear a member come up to you, and say Thank You …BUT you will hear, occasionally from their seats, that they are grateful for the meeting.

Now, in the past, I have seen coffee makers and setter uppers, have mental breakdowns at certain meetings, bitching and complaining quite openly, to the meeting itself, while the meeting is still going on, how ungrateful folks really are, and that said setter upper demands a thank you from everyone sitting in the room.

We are cautioned quite often, that service is a gift of the program, because it keeps us humble and rooted to the reason why we need the meetings, because when we came in there were people doing just what we do today, for us, and at times we can get angry and resentful at the ingratitude of most people who walk through the door every week.

So beware your EGO.

Kindness was the other idea that was floated.

We do this work gladly, because it is necessary, because if we don’t do the service, the meeting isn’t going to happen at all. And he told me that people, over the years, as they come, form the meeting in their image, as they see it. Which leads to a meeting  ever changing. People come, people go. Formats come, and Formats go.

Meetings begin, get popular, have a good run, then, almost mysteriously, they fades to black, when the novelty of a particular meeting looses its shine. People get bored.

Boredom is also problematic.

We do the same rote actions week after week, month after month, year after year. Like a robot. We all have our assigned roles, per week. And on Friday night, we are a well oiled machine. We can crank out set up in twenty minutes with the right number of setter uppers.

People don’t seem to take notice of those of us who do this work.

And one thinks that maybe one day, something we have done is going to surface in someones life, that something we do or say, will make a difference in a life. That may come to pass, and maybe it won’t.

My counsel to folks is this … Pick a meeting. Find a seat, and STAY.

Watch, Listen and Pay Attention.

The reading from A.B.S.I. was long and convoluted. But the front room, went with the:

SLIP … Sobriety Looses Its Priority.

There are a number of young people who come, who are in rehabs across town. So the first horse out of the gate shared on the topic of a slip, and day counts.

There are two schools of thought in this area, and I’ve heard them both spoken over the years.

In the program, you come in, and begin your day count. if you decide to go out a drink again, you start over at day one.Then, there is a more linear view of a slip.

The thought that, when one comes back, that you do not punish the slipper by restarting their day count, but you keep counting to keep the momentum, even though, one drank again.

Well, that started the ball rolling and it just kept going until the top of the hour.

The odds that one enters the rooms, and stays, and makes it a one time drive, are slim. The odds that one returns after a slip, go down even further, the number of times you go back out. Most folks at our meeting has had a slip experience. For one reason or another.

It is usually common that once folks fall off the wagon and drink again, come back and never go back out. But these stories are far and few between. Statistics on this are proof.

An old timer spoke about Alcoholic.

  • The real alcoholic out there, usually would never admit he/she is one.
  • Then there are those who come in, leery, not knowing for sure.
  • There are also those who come in, knowing full well the facts.
  • There are also those who come in and need to figure it out for themselves.
  • And there are those who are mandated to show up by a judge.

Long Sober men and women that have been around double digit years, either ONE, stay put and stick to the rooms, and prosper and do well, or TWO, Long Sober men and women who also have double digit years, come for a while, then they fall off. They stop coming to meetings, and the tape begins to play in their heads …

  • Ah, you’re really not an alcoholic, look how long you’ve gone without a drink
  • Ah, its a waste of time and energy to go out, (in minus twenty temps)
  • Ah, I really don’t need a meeting
  • I deserve a break after so many years, I can take a breather
  • And you know what follows, if the tape continues, don’t you ?
  • They Drink Again … And the odds on return are almost nil

Some people, in sobriety, go through really dark times, either Mental, Emotional, Medical or Financial. They spin out into the darkness. Some find their way, others do not.

I’ve seen medical issues take people out. Men and women fight battles with Cancer, or AIDS, or MS, or any other myriad of diseases. And they either conquer, or they fall. There are just some illnesses that you never come back from.

Death is a forgone conclusion.

But many women, who have, (for example) Breast Cancer, they get diagnosed, and they begin treatment. Radiation, Chemo, Surgery, Reconstruction, and Recovery. This is one serious long haul drag for our women.

With a good support system, women to walk with them, and women who are present for them for the entire journey, those women return victoriously.

On the other hand, (in my own experience), I knew a woman, I was very good friends with. I was here, she was in Florida, getting treatment, surgery and reconstruction. She was victorious. She was long sober, more than twenty years at the time.

I spoke to her every day. We talked about everything, So I Thought.

One night, she went to Lincoln Road, on Miami Beach, for dinner. She ordered a glass of wine, then another. Over the next few weeks, she went to have dinner, with a glass of wine and several more.

She never expressed the desire to drink to me ever. She never spoke about it either.

A few months later, at twenty and some odd years, she returned to Montreal. One night, she walked into the meeting, and when the chip was offered, she got up and took it.

I was mortified.

I was so angry. Words passed between us, she left the meeting, and never came back. And we never spoke again, even though I can see her condo building from my living room windows. She lives that close.

She had been victorious at beating Breast Cancer, so she deserved a break, she said during the meeting. This is not a one off story … But it is my story about her.

Illness is a beast. It fucks with our minds, whatever other issue we are dealing with, falls by the wayside. The tape begins to play, like our men’s tape above, and women find themselves surviving a visit from death, drinking is the least of their worries.

So what does one do with this type of situation ?

I should have kept my mouth shut. Maybe I should have understood what I know today, but did not then. But what can you say when friends keep secrets ?

Secrets and Lies are two markers, that if they begin, a drink is not far away.

Women suffer too. Most in silence, because they don’t know what to do, who to talk to, nor what to say, when this takes place. I’m not a woman, but I know how I felt for her and for me, when she took that chip.

So you see, our jobs, in the meetings, are fraught with complications.

When Sobriety Looses Its Priority, all bets are off.

Man and Woman alike.

Knowing the warning signs, and being present when someone speaks, to have the right words, is a fine art. That does not come over night. It takes time. A lot of time, investment and friendship.

Relationships like that are far and few between.

You cannot walk into a meeting, and sit for very long, and NOT invest in its people.

Once you pick your seat, buckle up and hang on. Because it is going to be a bumpy ride.

It always is…