Fifty One … Made It Another Year

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“… They show how the change came over them. When many hundreds of people are able to say that consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives, they present a powerful reason why one should have faith.”

We Agnostics, page 51.

Tonight, we ended the month of July, with me in the chair, and we talked about God, Prayer, and Faith.

One over arching comment I heard from my friends is that for many of them, the thought of God, the practice of prayer, the admission of humility and the profession of faith, is a natural part of who they are.

They don’t necessarily “think” about God or Prayer, or Humility, or faith, every minute of the day. Those constituent parts of who they are present in everything that they do, every day. These parts are, in and of themselves, separate, but are unified in a single thought … Presence and Service.

The old story rose in my mind as I sat and listened. And I told it again. Even if my friends have heard me tell this story over and over.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away … Cue the Star Wars Theme …

God has been an integral part of my life, for the whole of my life. Memere and Grammy made sure that I knew of God, and that God loved me.

Memere, one day, when I was very young, took me to church and presented me to God, standing on the altar of that church, where she had a conversation with God, about me.

That visual is burned into the back of my mind.

I served God to the best of my ability, to the extent that in my second year of college, after high school, I ended up in Seminary, studying to be a priest.

I devoted my life to God, in every way possible. But I was not like the others. I did not do evil things that the others had done. I never broke my vows to Mother Church, during that year, and I thought that would get me by.

It didn’t.

At the end of that year, the rector, whom I had issues with personally, said to me that I was not “one of them.” Therefore, it was his decree that I would be told to leave the seminary.

Talk about being resentful and angry about God.

My alcoholism took off full-bore. And lasted until my 26th year of life. I told God to go to hell, that I did not need Him. Took back my will and my life, and pursued life.

I had come out of the closet not long after.
That only added to my alcoholic woes.

On one morning, as I sat in that bar nursing a drink at 7 a.m. fate strolled in to greet me and I danced. That morning would be the last morning.

What I did not know would eventually almost kill me.

On July 8th 1994, I got those words. “You are going to die.” A few days later I called Todd home from vacation and told him I was going to die.

As God as my witness … I may have turned my back on God. But God, in His wisdom, got my attention once again.

Never be thankful for a terminal disease.

Sometimes a fatal disease is just that, a fatal disease.

I took my life in my own hands that morning, and did what I did. And I am the one to blame for my misfortune. It is my fault.

God got my attention. Then He stepped out of Heaven and soothed my soul.

What Todd did for me, I will never forget, will always be grateful for, and remember as long as I breathe air. I will tell his story as many times as I can, because if this story dies. I die with it.

It is the power of God that makes this story critical.

Todd promised me, if I turned my will and my life over to him and trusted him with my life, that he would see to it that I survived. I may have kicked and screamed for a while, but that did not last very long.

As my friends died around me, one after another, and every day that I lived, is a testament to the Power of Todd, Read: GOD.

On the day I said goodbye to him, standing next to his car, as he got into that car, and shut the car door, he forgot to give me one small piece of information,

“What was I supposed to do now.”

I lament that he did not give me that much-needed piece of information. We were so caught up in goodbye that I don’t think that thought crossed his mind, in that moment.

When he drove off, my life drove off with him.

I could not make it alone. I had no idea what to do or how to do it.

All of the people who were still alive, already made the trek West. I was the only one who stayed. I stayed because of my heart. I stayed because I was sure, my father would die, and I would make my stand and go to my mother, and reclaim her from my father, and care for her for the rest of my days.

Obviously, that plan never happened.

My parents would rather eat dirt, than accept me as a human worthy of love.

On January 7th 2018, my father died. I got that one wrong.

My mother spit in my face, once again, saying to me that I was a mistake and should never have been born. This is the very same woman I was hedging my bets of saving and being part of her life.

Got that one wrong too.

I did drink again.

At the end of my drink binge, I called out to God. Begged Him for help.

I prayed three prayers in order of necessity.

  • A hangover
  • An Alcoholic
  • And Get me to a Meeting

God did those very things for me, in the order I needed them, miraculously.

I was on the return arc, when Troy walked into my business and his first words to me were: I did not drink today …

Troy was that blessed alcoholic whom God sent. Troy took me to my next, First Meeting. I stayed for the later 10 pm meeting and met the folks who would bring me back to life again. Those original folks are still in my life to this day.

God granted me a few dispensations. And created a number of miracles.

I ended up crossing the border, attaining Canadian Citizenship, I am still sober, almost seventeen years later. And had you told me, back in Miami, back in the day, that my life could have looked like it does today, I would have laughed at you and called you crazy.

God moved heaven and earth. And God’s saving grace has made me whole.

There IS a GOD, and I am not God.

Although, I did meet God. I spoke to God. I worked for God. I served God, every day I walked into work and served those men, who are all dead now, until they all took their last breaths on this earth. I was with many of them. When their families tossed them into the gutter and into the streets, I was there, with a few friends, who cared for the sick, until they eventually died, in our arms.

None of my friends died alone. Not One Of Them.

Nobody knows the intricacies of this story. Nobody really cares, even the gay men I know today. They know nothing about AIDS or Living with AIDS. They really don’t care for my stories, because they cannot identify.

If my story dies, I will die with it.

Which is Why, till the day that I take my last breath, I will utter the name of Todd and thank God for saving my life, all these years.

I made it to 51.

Let’s PARTY !!!

Thursday: Sinking into God …

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I wrote this letter to my Spiritual Director the other night. It is pertinent to my life today, because it reflects my growth in certain areas of my life at the moment.

I hope that things have gotten a bit better than they were a few days ago. Sometimes it’s a bitch having to recite and accept those pesky slogans …

They might come in handy when necessary, but when they become prayer mantras, that’s the worst, because you know, you have to totally “Turn it over, right ?”

How many times had I heard, Stick with the Winners, and Stay until the Miracle happens, and This Too Shall Pass … UGH

I thought about you last night, while at my Monday haunt. I was talking to a young man of my acquaintance, his name is John. He has quite the story, in summary though, he got to the bitter end and his marriage was in the toilet.

He came to us, and has stayed. The marriage is a work in progress. They are better for the ware and tear that took place. He’s in our rooms, and she is in Alanon …

A couple of weeks ago, John told me that he had found gainful employment finally, after his crash and burn. Starting off at ground level, he found a job as a manual laborer. In a school.

Answer: He’s a janitor.

Sweeping, mopping and shoveling snow… menial tasks but labor nonetheless. He started this week. And seems to be at peace with it.

He has found the meditative art in the quiet. His saving grace, it seems.

His wife is working in a kitchen preparing food for the restaurant, working with a friend of hers who took her under her wing so to speak. She seems to like that small quaint space. The Kitchen. It suits her well.

They got through the holidays, this year, just barely. John was one of the grouping from Monday night, we worked very hard at keeping sober over those two weeks. Everybody is still sober. Thanks be to God.

I had told John, before the meeting about my relationship with the man who saved my life, when it was most needed. Todd kept me focused and on point while at work.

He had a saying that stuck and worked miracles for me. He said early on that I could trust him, and I did, implicitly. I thought tonight, that I have not trusted anyone to that extent before or since. Now or before.

He said that as I approached the building we worked in, whatever was on my heart and worrying me, that I needed to leave it outside the doors, and once I crossed the threshold, the only thing I needed to worry about was the work I had to do each shift.

That pin point focus saved my life in the end.

So with my friend John, with all that is going on in his life right now, I shared that thought with him, that while he was IN the building, the only thing he needed to focus on was work, and not what had been going on in his head upon the approach.
Hopefully that piece of advice will stick and keep him on the beam, so to speak.

Then a God moment happened for all of us. The chair introduced for discussion, Step Three, in the Big Book, Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.
How appropriate.

And here I just told the story about turning my will and my life over to the care of TODD, (read: GOD) as I understood Him.

If there is a God, I met Him in the flesh, all those years ago, and I am still alive to speak about Him to others.

Which bring me round to you … A while back, at one point, you said to me that I could not bullshit God that whatever I was holding back, needed to see the light. hence, I heard you say that and I took that last step into God.

But it wasn’t until I tell this little story to my friends that God makes perfect sense, in that, I knew without a doubt what it felt like to sink into Todd, (read: God) with complete abandon. I knew it, because I had practiced it. over and over.

With my father’s death, I have written about him. And lately I focus on his generosity when it came, and his goodness when it showed. and that when my father was good, he could do no wrong. Even if he tried.

I’m not sure that all the goodness in the world, when it came to abuses, if that cleared his good points off the score board. I’ve been trying to dream about him at night. No success there. I’m not sure he would think to come to me now. Too much water under the bridge I think.

I wonder how he died, if he was at peace, my brother was there, and the day he called me he asked me if I had had any questions about my father’s passing, at that time I said no, because there was too much anger on the dashboard to think clearly and have a lucid conversation about death. But I wonder now.

I wonder what God said to him, after this life he lived, and the manner he chose to live it in, including my mother, because I am sure she is going to have that same conversation with God He did, at some point.

I believe that they both want peace on the other side, after the lives they chose to live, and the way they chose to live them. I believe God would have wanted that for them finally. And I muse about the fact that my sainted grand mother was waiting for him when he finally got there, she was an amazing women who loved deeply.

I hope the three of them are there together, where ever that may be. My mother will have the same cheering squad when she goes, because Memere was all-powerful and saintly. She had the 1-800 number to God for the whole of my life. When she died, she came back to me for a long while.

In fact, all of my grandparents came back to me, in specific form, we all knew them when they showed up because we all saw them and interacted with them. When I was sick and going to die. grammy used to come and visit my home.

I know this because I slept with my bedroom door closed. And every morning I would get up to scattered magazines on the floor and the painting on the wall tilted. A friend who was a seer came to my home not long after and grammy was there, waiting for us.

She told him to tell me not to close the bedroom door, for some reason she could not find her way through the door closed. hence I never slept with a closed-door again. She comes to visit often and stands at the foot of my bed. But I see her. If she has that power to come back, then maybe she will share it with my father at some point, and he will find his way back to me eventually.

Sadly, my father has not made the journey back across to see me. That kind of bums me, I kind of wonder if he thinks about me there, and if he sees me from where he is. That is quite a question I have.

I kind of know what redemption feels like because I am still alive. I’ve felt the true power of God in motion. Here on earth. Very few people harness that kind of energy for me. Todd was one of them. The only one for what he was able to do for me.

Surely, if that were God, then I know. I believe that we all have One redeeming Quality, deep within. Deep in my father’s heart there was goodness, kindness and love. It just got buried with all that abuse and crap he went through.

If I know God, like I think I know God, my father was redeemed. And was forgiven. In keeping with thoughts of how good he was, I can forgive him as well. Because God would want that from us, right ?

I know how to turn it over to the care of God as I understand Him, implicitly. Been there, Done that.

Every time I know I am in deep water, spiritually, all I have to do is close my eyes and see Todd in my mind’s eye, and I know God loves me, and all of us.

So I sink into God fully and completely. Without reservation.

Thursday: Every Day, a Different Emotion

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Several days have passed since my father died. Two days ago, the eight page letter I sent my brother, was received. And he texted me to tell me that he got my letter, and that I should stop spending money trying to reach him. He does not want to hear from me and that he then tossed the letter in the trash, UNREAD.

I spoke to my aunt that evening and she believes in high numbers that my brother would NOT have trashed that letter without at least reading, in her vernacular “What that fucker had to say…” Curiosity would have gotten the best of him.

My husband has been less than helpful and none too compassionate. He doesn’t want to hear anything any more, he’s tired of listening to me talk to my friends. He told me that I just need to leave my brother alone. Just fucking shut up already.

I’m at a loss emotionally. And every day it is something different. Emotions come and tears fall from my eyes, whenever I talk to my friends. And I can’t help it.

There is a young lady, who is sticking close to the rooms, having survived her first holiday sober, and she is sticking close. Tonight, on my way out of the church she stopped me, and offered her condolences again, and she hugged me and smiled.

I said to her that, “we are both sober tonight, and that’s all that matters.” She agreed with me. I worked very hard at keeping her in the room over the holiday. I worked hard to keep all of our kids, in the room, Sober. That was a success.

My young lady in her own way, gave it back in a simple hug.

I don’t understand many things. I don’t understand what makes people sick, what makes them bitter and what makes them so crazy that they can fuck off and abandon their children and go to their graves with corrosive hatred coursing through their veins.

I don’t understand how a couple can go from the altar professing all those virtues and platitudes of being married, to ending up in separate hospitals, sick, not talking to each other, and at some point in time, fuck off on their vows, leaving my father in a hospice, ALONE to die ALONE.

And that man, who hated me so hard, and in that hatred took two hostages. My mother and my brother. I was the one who got away, and God damned me that I chose to get away and get a life and live that life fully.

I don’t understand how blood of my blood and body of my body, turned away from me and went to his grave never knowing the man I became and never allowing me the privilege of showing him just how well I grew up.

I am nothing like him. I will never be like him ever.

And on the way home I saw Juan and Nadia, coming home from a wedding appointment, and during our conversation I let loose some of my pain, telling them the truth and what I know and what I hope they NEVER do to each other, or their children one day.

I am emotional. I am sad. Angry in a way, and thinking over dinner, stewing …

It was not like anyone in my family to ask … Well, how do you feel ? Nobody seemed to care. Nobody came to ask, or inquire. In all the years after I got sick, they came to visit, together TWICE. In twenty-five years. My father was more forthright in his visits. Because every time he came to visit, he had an agenda.

He wanted to make sure I would die, and sooner than later. His only goal in his visits was to impress on me how important it was to him that I just DIE ALREADY.

My mother never said that to me, but they were a sick couple and whatever line my father took, she was in on the deal, because she married him.

They made a mockery of marriage. Truly, fifty years on, I know what that marriage looked like at every stage of the game. I know every secret they kept, every lie that they told. And those secrets and lies destroyed the fabric of this family.

Knowing the truth afforded me certain abilities that my brother did not have. The truth afforded me certain freedoms that my brother had not. And choosing to use those lies to my advantage, left me at a Disadvantage, because the nexus of Red Blooded American, die for your country, its my way or the highway, was just blown out of the water, and made me persona non-Grata to my parents.

I pissed them off. Resentments that already existed against me, were just made deeper and wider.

And now my father went to his grave, hating me as hard as he did.

And I will never know what was going on in his head before he died, because my mother’s curse that if one or both of them got sick or died, that nobody would call me, well she got what she wanted, that evil CUNT.

And my brother is just as sick as she is, because he hates me as hard as they hate me.

Was it because I left and left him there in that mess ?

Was it because I dishonored my father by choosing the life that I chose to live ?

That I was Gay, that I live with AIDS, that I live in Canada ?

Is he angry or jealous, or does he ever wonder who I am, and why I made the decisions I made? If he read that letter, he knows now.

All I can do now, is feel my feelings, write than down and wait him out.

Eventually that CUNT is going to die, hopefully sooner than later. She doesn’t want me, and hasn’t wanted me for a lifetime. She turned her love of her first-born child into loving a man who taught her to hate her own son.

Hopefully when she spits her last breath, she will remember who I am, and beg God for forgiveness.

Sometimes I wish I had the money and the will to do stupid things, just to prove a point. And thank God I don’t have that privilege. Because I’d seriously fuck some people up.

Because they hate me so hard, for no Godly reason, but for pure hatred.

God forgive me.

Memory in Time – Thanksgiving

How the Grinch Stole Christmas courtesy Cartoon Network

“Over the river and through the woods to grandmothers house we go …”

Tonight I heard a friend say about recovery, “I’m not sure what I really wanted to ‘recover’ from my past, but when I was drinking, at certain points, there was some fun, but that eroded away very quickly, after the first drink.” He went on to say that “there may have been a time in our past that we connect to in a way, we don’t connect to others, maybe that’s where recovery of time begins.”

I always hold dear a place and time in my mind’s eye. I go there often, because my visual of that location is clear and present.  The house in my memory is long gone now. The land was razed, the trees chopped down, and land appropriated by the drinking establishment next door, has shrunk the old family plot by half.

The house now exists only in my memory. Holiday’s were born in the homes of grandparents and aunts and uncles. I don’t have memories, young memories, of any place other than the homestead in my mind’s eye.

Later on, as I grew up, those memories are more fluid. Because as I grew up, we made family memories in the homes we inhabited later on. Holiday’s were special, as long as family cared for and loved each other. As soon as the “us versus them” reared its ugly head, memories became painful to remember.

And all I want to do is FORGET !

At a point in the timeline, there were three families who shared holiday cooking responsibilities. The biggest house, could hold the most people, so it became my step mother who provided the bulk of my teen age holiday’s.

Thanksgiving usually began early in the morning, with brunch at home, with the yearly Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The turkey would be in the oven by lunch time and the requisite football games would begin. So would the drinking.

Depending on the house picked for the dinner, people would begin to gather in great numbers, the open bar was a welcome event for all, the kids included, because my parent preferred that we drank at home, it was even encouraged.

At my step mothers house, the kids always ate at the kids table, off the kitchen, while we were younger. As we grew up, we would find our places at the adult table. That little kitchen table has many memories attached to it. But it was with great fanfare when we found ourselves seated with the adults for dinner, with adult conversation and the requisite adult drinking.

There was never a bad memory made at any dinner table. It was what happened after that dinner that was the problem. My father, the hateful man he was, every time we sat to eat a meal, would cringe at those seated at the very same table. Those “homosexuals” just made him sick. Add to that the fact that I could carry on a decent conversation with said homosexuals made my father’s blood boil.

Upon arriving home, he would beat me senselessly to make sure he beat the gay out of me, upon every occasion of sitting around that particular table.

Years would pass, as the abuse was heaped on me. Until one eventful Christmas, after I was diagnosed and headed for death, at my parents home in Sarasota, that my father humiliated me in front of all the guests at a Christmas dinner, that I vowed, then and there, never to darken my parents door or any table for any holiday ever after.

Twenty two years have passed since that memorable day. I remember it like it was yesterday, because the very next day, the family who sat at that very table and witnessed my humiliation, hosted me on their boat. And I explained what had happened and why.

I am not sure my parents kept that friendship going after that event. But there is the empty chair at their table now. I do not know what is worse, “Knowing you pushed a son away from home from that table intentionally, or that every year, the memory of me still exists in the minds of everyone who sits at that table. Or does it ?

Do they remember me ? Do they care ? Probably not. The last words my mother said to me many months ago, like the litany she spoke for years …

You were a mistake that should never have been born.

Nobody cares that I am not there, because to this day, nobody has come looking for me. We are not getting any younger, and in the idealistic part of my brain, I see adults coming to their senses and realistically, one day, that table would be full.

Alas, there is no love. So no love lost.

But those memories of the time I would recover for myself exist in my mind’s eye and in my heart, because it was there that love was born. True love. True compassion. True family connections that no living person can take from me, because those memories exist within me.

When I moved to Montreal almost seventeen years ago, I came with the hope of recovering memories connected to the maternal side of my family. I have a friend, Nigel, who is part of my recovery circle. Whom tonight, I handed a copy of the maternal family tree that goes back to the 1600’s.

We are hoping that his family tree, is, in some way, connected to mine. We shall see in the coming weeks, as they pour over the document I provided him with at the meeting.

Holiday’s are sacred times to build memory, to pay respect to those who came and went before us, to remember, those who gave us life and BEGAN holiday memories for us, while we were still too young to care or to know better of memory.

Grammy, Memere, Aunty Paula and all the other family who built the first memories for me, in their houses, are top of mind tonight. I remember you.

Holidays are a time for family and for love and for making memories.

Go Make Memories …

If they cannot be made for you, then start your own tradition in your own homes.

Do not go someplace that will only bring you misery and pain, and push you to want to forget than to remember.

June 12, 2017 – A Year Later – I Remember Them

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This One Tragic Event, turned my life and my sobriety upside down. And began a Year of wandering meetings, looking for God, Seeking help for myself, that did not come as it was needed, when it was needed. I walked this road alone, save for Elder Christensen who was a balm to my soul when I most needed God.

I learned that some things in sobriety have to be experienced, felt and spoken about, even if people didn’t listen to me. Or want to listen to me. Sobriety gave me a challenge and I walked through it, the best way I knew how. I did not drink over it either.

Which was One Serious Blessing.

I’ve not be shaken to my core like this in recent memory. In the end, I grew from this, in locating my grief and experiencing the pain that rocked me to my inner core.

I remember those young people, taken too soon, from lives that were yet to be lived. I mourn for their families who will gather tomorrow. My thoughts and prayers are with them every day that I walk this earth.

I have not Forgotten. And I will Never Forget Them.

Tragedy of the Heart – Revisited

Last night around 3 a.m. I saw the first report of a shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and my heart sank. Why did he choose that club and not another, (The Parliament House) which would have been at max capacity at that hour as well, and then I was relieved that he did not choose that site as his first hit, because he would have hit my home, or, that place I called home for so long.

I chose to move to Orlando because I thought that that was a safe place to be Gay. That was where my journey of becoming a citizen of the gay community was to begin. So I moved there. I became part of a vibrant community of people I loved and respected. People who would shape the life I have today in ways I could never imagine.

Tragedy in other places, is not like a tragedy that hits at your home. Tragedy by extension and degrees of separation have less intensity when they are far removed, or far away. Last night’s tragedy hit me right in the chest. My heart broke to think that my brothers and sisters of life were targeted by a crazed gunman who wanted to kill homosexuals. Hate crime or religious ideology? That question is still unanswered.

In any case, I can imagine what that loss feels like having spent so much time IN that community for so long. I have a long and devastating relationship with death and tragedy. I lived through some of the darkest times in Gay history. And now another story of tragedy has been written.

Families lost loved ones, friends have lost friends, the community at large has lost souls to senseless violence, and the relative safety of a city that welcomed and cared for their own, is no more.

There are no guarantees of safety and freedom anymore. I look back at life some twenty or more years, and I know what relative safety felt like, to not have to fear going out to a public place and having to worry about some crazed human being stalking us like animals on a safari hunt.

Guns are too easily sought and bought. The availability of these firearms undermines the safety of every human being where ever you are. That is more so in the United States. Canada has its gun issues, but as long as I have lived here, I have never felt threatened to go out in public for fear of my life.

Every day, the fear of being killed is a new set of skills for the human being. This insidious fear has been forced upon us by those who would seek to kill us for a myriad of reasons, and nobody is safe, it seems, any longer. Relative safety is a thing of the past now.

I’ve been watching these mass killings day after day and it saddens me to no end. And now, with this latest tragedy, I am forced to speak these words in testimony to my brothers and sisters that lost their lives so tragically last night. I can do that because for a few years, I was one of those brothers and sisters.

I cannot tell you how this tragedy makes me feel. When religious ideology kills indiscriminately, my first reaction is “An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth.” If ideological killers kill to prove a point, killing humans in inhumane ways, the rage in me reacts first. All sense of Christian values leaves me.

It is reported that the gunman pledged his loyalty to Isis, which makes him an ideological killer, there is no forgiveness for those who kill senselessly because of ideology. I make no excuses for them, and I wish them direct judgment and death. It is all well and good that this gunman is dead. Because he killed his fellow humans in cold blood for reasons we still do not know, and there is no forgiveness for a human like that. Even though I know when that man made it to where ever he ended up, I was taught that whatever God there is, forgiveness will follow, even if I cannot.

There are no words I can say right now, that haven’t already been said by those who have been in the loop since last night. My heart is broken in this senseless loss of life. All I can do is say a prayer for those departed and for those who are left to pick up the pieces.

The Orlando Gay Community is family, they will survive this, in time. Phillip De Franco said this yesterday, “There is no silver lining to this story, no good ending, for now the pain is acute and one day this pain will recede and the intense feeling won’t go away, but will be less, but not forgotten.”

I stand with my brothers and sisters tonight in solidarity and hope.

I wish I could go back and be of some comfort, but that is not an option, so all I have is this place to tell you how hard this hit me and why, and to allow myself to feel this tragedy because it hits me right in my heart of hearts.

Eternal rest grant them and may perpetual light shine upon them.

Friday: Emotional Bottom …

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“In the first years, those of us who sobered up in A.A. had been grim and utterly hopeless cases. But then we began to have success with milder alcoholics and even some potential alcoholics. Younger folks appeared. Lots of people turned up who still had jobs, homes, health, and even good social standing.

Of course, it was necessary for these newcomers to hit bottom emotionally. But they did not have to hit every possible bottom in order to admit that they were licked.

A.A. Comes of Age, p. 199

My fist is un-clenched and my hand is open to Heavenly Father.

I have traveled a long way over the past year. It will have been a year on June 12th. The day, a year ago, when a crazed gunman walked into a nightclub, in Orlando, and killed 50 young people, and injured many more.

I look back at this event as the most catastrophic event in my sobriety, this time around.

In the program, I know many men and women over the last fifteen years. Everybody looks good, smiles good, and speaks a good game. Everybody is so stoic and un-moving. Nobody would ever admit that they had hit a tragic emotional bottom during their sober time, however long that sober time was.

And God forbid, ever fell apart in public. Like I had.

I was one serious scary man, in the midst of falling to pieces in public.

I know of sober people, women especially, who seriously suffered in sobriety. Not so much the men. Many people, when they hit something catastrophic like that, went back out and drank a bit and maybe used along with it, some made it back, others, did not.

It is a serious blessing that I never contemplated a drink over the last year. I did not ever actually think to myself, “I should go drink…” It never crossed my mind.

That was a Blessing. Divine, Absolutely.

And I thought to myself as I spoke tonight that, a long time ago, I made a promise to Heavenly Father, that I was willing to give Him all of me. That is a running theme in my life, for probably, a good portion of it.

There was always something in the way.

I came to Montreal, seeking God. it was God who brought me here, and settled me in the life I have right now. It is all God. All of it. Every single day, sober …

I did everything I was told to do. I was pounding the pavement doing everything I could do to serve my fellows, without complaint. I was working myself sick.

I remember the night I sat here and cursed God and threw in my spiritual towel, so to speak. The sober men and women who witnessed my emotional breakdown, accused me of self centered-ness, and needing to be treated special by everyone else.

June turned into July, August and September. The screws were being tightened. Until the final peg was hammered into place, Heavenly Father had removed certain people from my life over the Summer, and the extraction continued into September.

I was still in the process of emotionally cracking.

And all of a sudden, Elder Christensen walked into my life on a Metro Platform, after a doctor’s visit one afternoon. Spencer is an angel. Sent to me, by Heavenly Father.

I am sure of that now.

God always comes when I need Him most. And Heavenly Father incarnated, in the form of Elder Spencer Christensen. That young man loved me, 100%. He still does to this day.

I see it now, all these months later.

The theme of Heavenly Father removing impediments from me, in order for me to be open and ready to serve Him, is ongoing. This has been going on for the whole of my life.

Many sober people, LONG sober and not so Long Sober walked away in fear.

Nobody knew what to do with me, instead of trying to help me understand what it was I was going through, they condemned me, walked away from me, and left me to my own devices. I had to figure out what to do by myself.

ALONE.

It was a good thing My Elder was with me, the rest of the way.

I changed up my meetings. I hung with people I trusted. Who did not necessarily have words for me, but they did have WORK for me to do. And I did that, without question.

Over the months Spencer and I would talk, and we would pray and we would wait.

There are no coincidences, but they came, one after and another, as Elder Christensen tells the story. He had never met a man like me, when I had come along. I welcomed him into my life and into my faith. And he returned the favor by sharing The Book with me.

I now know, how many people, and in what ways, citizens in my own city, spurned him, spit on him, insulted him, and chased him away with a meat cleaver.

I am so ashamed of my fellows here.

He took me as far as the Church would allow me, when it was time for him to go home, I asked him to remain my friend, and He did that gladly and willingly.

Where the church failed, Elder Christensen excelled …

I am a child of God. And Heavenly Father has seen me through the darkest time in my sobriety. I did not go back out. I did not drink, and I did not use. I survived this emotional challenge, not in the most sober of ways, because I am not perfect, but I did my best.

I went to a new meeting, with new men and women. We are reading the Big Book. I settled in and I was safe and protected. I met my new sponsor. We clicked on very personal terms, with tragically serious commonalities.

Along with Elder Christensen. And Heavenly Father. My sponsor has kept me grounded.

My sponsor said not long ago, that I was a little too tightly wound. And that I needed to back off and open my hand to God. All the While, My Elder has been ministering to my spirit. He showed me love, respect and dignity.

One never knows when they are entertaining and Angel.

Or Heavenly Father, for that matter …

There is no guidebook giving directions on how to survive an emotional bottom in sobriety. The Only Book, is the Big Book. On page 112, it says:

READ THIS BOOK.

An old-timer, last week, spoke those words to me. He had asked me if I remembered what page 112 said, I did not. Read This Book, it says.

The Book of Mormon is True, there is a God, Heavenly Father, and Elder Christensen is his angel in my life.

I’m here, sober. I did not drink today…

But for the Grace of God.

Monday: Remember …

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A long time ago, in a jungle far far away, a man perished in the Viet Nam War.

He is a ghost in my life. A man I remember today. I may not have known him but my father did. Love has no boundaries in the theatre of war, and strangers fighting in a common fight, find companionship, security, honor and valor, together.

I carried his name, until the burden of never ever living up to his valor, courage and honor, drove me to wipe him away, the only way I knew how.

I never figured out why a man would name his son after a soldier who died in the heat of war, then tell that child, he was a mistake, and should never have been born.

It is an indictment of my father, and besmirches the name of that man who died.

Honor has its place.

I remember …