Short Changed …

Do you ever feel shortchanged in life ? Like one is not getting the whole story, or ALL of the TRUTH available ? Do you ever feel like the people you surround yourself with, or had surrounded yourself with were not being completely forthright with you ? Like they had the market on full disclosure and that you were not worthy of that full disclosure ?

Being Gay in a very Straight sober world has its PERKS, but it also has its drawbacks. I’ve been pondering this same truth about myself recently.

I sat with my sponsor the other day, and I shared with him my observations of people in our rooms here. Everything I said to him, about what has been my experience over the last eighteen years, he agreed with me. Because he has seen the same things with his own eyes.

A couple months ago, I changed up my game, and began attending a stand alone, closed men’s meeting, with a handful of men, I know well, and they know me well, because we attend other meetings together, and have been for a very long time.

One of those men, my new sponsor, I really enjoy sitting with him, because every time we sit together he tells me stories about his life. Usually, I leave home on a Wednesday night, uber early, so that I arrive at the hall, early, because I know my sponsor is going to be there. Which is where we began talking a couple of months ago. Talking more that we had been talking because of the spare time we have alone together to chat about life.

I used to hang around a group of long sober men, who, in reality, were not very sober, themselves. I used to go to Vermont with these men for step retreats. Being the only queer man in the sessions, nobody really engaged me honestly, and none of them desired to break bread with me either.

If you cannot break bread with me, I have no use for you.

For all those years, and even before, all my straight sponsors, save, just one, David, never gave me the full truth about alcoholism and The WORK. My step work was always cut short, incomplete.

Last year, when I sat with Noah, I chose to work with him, because I liked what he had to say, every time I heard him speak in a meeting. He knew what he was talking about, every time, with a conviction that was attractive to me. So I asked him to read me through The Book and The WORK.

I knew his sponsor, and he IS a no nonsense human being, who tells it like it is, every time, without fail. I loved that about him. So I knew Noah, got the very same truth, he would tell everybody else.

It was the first time, in all of my years sober, that someone told me the truth, and worked me through a full set of The WORK. He made me think, he asked me hard questions, and pushed me to grow up.

You can learn from many people in the rooms, no matter how long they are sober, if you listen well to them share, and you know just who they, themselves are working with.

I heard a lady share tonight, that “Sobriety, is cumulative. It is not just one thing that you do that makes the difference, it is all its constituent parts that make up the whole experience.”

She is right.

I read, A Lot. I pray as well. I read spiritual literature. I read The Book, and I work with others. I go to meetings, I do service. I do everything that was taught to me since the day I walked into my first home group here in Montreal. And I’ve been able to carry forwards that ritual work for all my years in sobriety. I still do the same thing I did eighteen years ago.

I make COFFEE !

I make coffee because I can get there as early as I want. Usually a hour or two prior to the first human being arriving. Because I know that if I build in that time, I usually get to have a one on one conversation with the first person who arrives as we drink our first cups of freshly perked coffee.

I got to have one of those conversations tonight, and it was fruitful.

The men I know, in the men’s meeting, tell me the truth. They are honest with me, because I try to be honest myself. I learn how to be sober, by doing what good sober people do. Good sober men are few.

There is a difference.

I know what I know today. And I know what I want for my sobriety now. Having thought about it over the past week or so. I’m tired of being short changed by men who think they are sober, but won’t tell the truth or give me all the facts, or give me true sober work.

I know what’s in the book. I’ve read it several times over. I’ve changed up my game enough to give me access to new men and women. Most importantly, the men at that men’s meeting on Wednesday.

If you feel like your sobriety has been short changed, there is a solution.

You just gotta do the footwork and find a meeting where there are long sober men and women who will tell you the truth.

I’ve been GAY a very long time. And I know most uber straight men don’t want anything to do with me, and I know that, by what they do, and what they don’t do, in front of me. If you have to overcompensate, and constantly piss in front of me and tell me how big your dick is, I don’t have any use for you.

My sponsor agreed with me on this the other day.

Even my Gay brothers in the rooms want nothing to do with me. Is it my backstory or that I am not a gay like them? I will never grow up to be a fumpy old gay man. I don’t dress like them, I don’t act like them, and i sure as shit don’t want whatever it is they have.

I sat in a room with all of them for fourteen months reading the Big Book, during the hardest emotional bottom I’ve ever experienced in sobriety yet. And in all that time, not one gay or straight man or woman, ever walked up to me and said …

I KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, LET ME TELL YOU HOW I DEALT WITH THAT.

These are the the most important life saving words an alcoholic has, because we have back stories. Experiences. Life Experience. In all its forms.

I’ve NEVER heard these words come out of ANY sober mouth, anywhere in this city, in ALL of my sobriety.

That is a shame.

Because it took a lady from New York to come here, talk to us, and share those words with us.

I won’t be sort changed any longer.

Reflections Step Seven

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

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

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

Ignorance was rife …

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

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

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

Hell hath no fury like an AIDS sick man.

A very TRUE STORY…

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

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

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

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

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

True Story …

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

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

Alas, that was not my experience.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why you ask ? I’m Gay.

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

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

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

God give me strength.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because he IS constitutionally incapable of being honest with himself.

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

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

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

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

SHUT THE FUCK UP AND SIT DOWN.

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

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

I am a Gay man who survived AIDS.

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

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

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

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

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

It’s like I am running on my own.

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

That strikes me as odd too.

Just a few observations about myself.

Our Kids Are Suffering – Amended Update

This afternoon, Wednesday, I made a couple of phone calls, and asked my Ladies Calvary to help me with our girls. Right now, everyone will be looked after over the coming days. And I was assured that everyone would be taken care of.

It is always a shock for our new guys and gals to be sober a short while, most under two years, for them to witness someone with serious time under their belts drink again. But I am assured that my girls will be alright. My ladies are on the case.

Tuesday Night

Most people in recovery know what the word “powerlessness” means.

Some choose to learn the definition, others hang on for dear life to whatever it is they are holding guard over, until they can’t bear that pain any longer … Then they reach the jumping off point.

I watch people, I listen to them talk, and I wait to see what decision they are going to make, either to buckle down and do what needs to be done, or they choose to jump back into the canyon where there is no light.

The fellowship offers to us a tool kit, to build a ladder out of that canyon into a life what will be fruitful and prosperous. But the pain it might take to get to freedom from alcohol and drugs seems so arduous, that they just cannot bear the pain of sobriety, so they resort to the pain of addiction to soothe the pain of honest pursuit of sobriety.

Our kids are suffering. And I don’t know what to do about this ! They all know me, and have seen me in action for a long time. I have engaged many of them in conversation, I give them jobs at meetings, I support them and show them nothing but kindness.

Yet, still, they are miserable. There is nothing I can do for someone who chooses to live in misery and active addition. I can’t save all the kids I know, right now, who are suffering needlessly.

Women with time, who sponsored many of our latest crop of young ladies, have drank again. Recently. All my girls are besides themselves with grief and sorrow, anger and resentment, and then forgiveness.

Our LGBTQ kids are suffering as well. Because the spectrum of sexual identity has broadened into this amalgamation of “what ever you want to be today” has reared its ugly head.

Do you know what it is like knowing that you have kids on this spectrum, girls that want to be boys, boys who want to be girls, trans kids in the middle of transition, or at different stages of the game, who drink and drug, because they cannot bear the pain they are in right now ?

Not many straight alcoholics in the rooms know what to do with a kid on the spectrum. Most old timers will tell you that sexual orientation is not their responsibility. Some old timers will not even deal with kids on the spectrum, and a good number of them don’t do Gay either.

My kids are suffering. I know this for a fact. I know how many kids are on this sliding scale right now, some are sober, and some are not. I’ve had experience in dealing with trans issues, because over the years I have tried to help our kids, whomever they are, which ever direction they are traveling.

The pendulum is swinging widely and quickly. And a good number of my kids are struggling to keep it together. And I don’t know what to do, besides sitting each one of them down and read them the riot act, and give them a plan, like they would listen to anything I have to say to them.

But you know what the book says …
“THE ALCOHOLIC WILL DRINK AGAIN.”

I’ve been watching my kids come and go, and come and go. Whom ever they are talking to, has failed in keeping them sober. One, because they lack the tools to do the job, OR, those sponsors have drank again.

Which does not help our kids stability. You take on a kid who needs help staying sober, then you go off and drink again !! What the FUCK !!!

I’ve been watching folks with some serious time, do nothing. My peers, do nothing. They come to meetings, warm a chair, and they watch our kids crumble in front of them, and still they do nothing. Tonight, My heart broke every time I heard one of my kids tell the story they told tonight.

And I am powerless to do anything. Because nobody wants to hear what I have to say, and not many people believe anything I say, sitting in any room. But I have the time and the experience to speak truth.

People do not like the truth, I have said this before.

The I-phone generation want it NOW. They want sobriety NOW, they want happiness NOW, but they don’t want the pain or struggle to get there. They’d rather struggle in the drink rather than struggle in sobriety.

Sobriety is a struggle. Until it is not a struggle any longer.

Our kids are struggling. And they are not listening to simple advice. They are too wrapped up in their heads and their misery, to even pay attention to advice given, even if it comes from a chair, within a meeting, and not directly from a human being standing in front of them.

The rule is the girls work with the girls and the boys work with the boys! I can stand at the line and offer advice from behind my line and not cross the rule. But long sober women with time and experience ARE failing them, so what we we supposed to do, let our kids struggle until they die ?

What the Fuck am I supposed to do now ?

I wish I had the answer, I could use it right about now.

Christmas Eve 2018

The week, last week ended with a final push to get all the Christmas shopping done. “Mission Accomplished!” Hubby has been in Ottawa visiting his parents for Christmas and they did Christmas Sunday evening with the extended family.

I was “HOME ALONE !!!”

Nope, not stuck in Chicago

Nope, not lost in New York

But, Home Alone in Montreal

But those movies were on the W Network last night. Sadly we don’t have that channel on our list of Cable Channels.

I’ve cleaned all the things that needed to be cleaned. I vacuumed last night at about 2 a.m. because I was wide awake. I scrubbed the microwave, which was badly needed, after looking inside the box. I just usually throw whatever I am heating up, in, and pay no attention the the box itself.

I defrosted/de-iced/gutted my turkey for tomorrows dinner.

I haven’t been to bed yet today.

All of our kids are where they need to be. Everybody is hooked up for friends who went home, in their same cities, so they are buddying up for meetings and fellowship over the holidays. Those kids who are still here will gather tonight for Christmas Eve Meetings, and fellowship.

We’ve all been working overtime with the newbies to make sure they make it through their first Christmases sober, and alive. All is well, through last night.

Hubby returns this afternoon with the loot that came from the extended family and my in laws. When he goes away and I have to think about what I need to cook for dinner, is a hassle. Because usually I don’t have to think about cooking dinner, because he does the cooking, and serves up meals night after night. So I had to shop and cook for myself, which is a strange thing, when he goes away …

Tomorrow I am hosting a Gala Christmas Dinner for my friend Juan, his wife Nadia and her mom, who is now living in Canada, this is her first holiday, in Canada, with SNOW and COLD, with Nadia and Juan. They moved into a larger apartment a few months ago, for more space. We will sit five tomorrow.

This morning I shopped a few items I thought I needed and got supplies for the meeting tonight, and some Chocolate Milk. I’ve been craving grill cheese so I bought some cheese and made a sandwich.

Now I have to drop labs next week, and the last time I ate bread, my triglycerides went up so far, it stunned my doctors, who both called to see what I had done to myself.

I told them I ATE BREAD for God’s sake …

Then they both told me emphatically … NO MORE BREAD EVER !!!

I ate bread this morning. And will eat bread with Hot Turkey Sandwiches later tomorrow night.

The gifts are all wrapped, and under the tree. I bought a few things for hubby that he did not ask for, because as long as we’ve been together, he will never ask for something particular for himself. Not once, ever. So I have to guess what he needs and then shop.

I had ordered a gift from a company called SIRENO, for a keepsake, special pressed key chain, that you can have punched with particular dates. I paid over $50.00 for it, BACK in September… I got a shit package in the mail the other day from China, 3 months later, from a counterfeit group. I lost fifty bucks and the bank won’t refund the money till I get a return response from the counterfeiter themselves.

FUCKING CHINESE GANGSTERS !!!

I’m so pissed I got ripped off on a present that would have been over the top for hubby …

More to come, as Christmas is tomorrow …

Honor

 

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Last week in Montreal, as well as over most of the Eastern Seaboard, saw temperatures rise to new record levels. as of this evening, we know of 70 people in the Province of Quebec, died due to factors including age, underlying medical conditions, and reactions to severe heat conditions. 34 of those deaths were here in Montreal.

Sadly, we know who one of those 34 men and women were.

This afternoon, after making several calls to an institutional half way house here in Montreal, where one of our men lived, got a call back about 4 p.m. The case worker informed me that sadly, one of our men had died, in the course of a work day, being overcome by heat, in the back of a moving truck.

Temps were running in the high 40’s with humidexes in the mid to high 40’s. That combination of heat and humidity was a death knell for many.

My friend, a man of honor and dignity, spent two tours in Afghanistan working for American Armed Forces. Found himself on the wrong side of the law, after being discharged, finding himself in prison. He served his time and was released a few months ago.

He arrived in Montreal and was housed in an institutional halfway house not far from my home. I met him in one of our Thursday night meetings. At least, at first, I learned his name. Soon after we got him a free ticket to the West Island Roundup, where I took him into my circle, and provided for his weekend. Many people reached out to him over the past few months.

Myself and one of my friends, stepped up to sponsor him in recovery, he having gotten sober behind the walls, came out with 3 years and change, and had he made it, would have celebrated 4 years sober in November. He went to great detail at the roundup to buy himself a special limited edition chip, that we were holding for him, until he got to where he was going.

The first day of the Round Up, he showed me what he carried with him, photos of him and his team, while in Afghanistan. He carried those photos proudly, as a badge of honor and courage. I wanted to do right by him, because he deserved that honor for serving his country so proudly in a place that was seriously dangerous.

I tried very hard to honor his work and his dignity as a fellow-man on the road with us.

I was shocked beyond words today hearing that he had died.

P.T.S.D. is wicked and harsh.

Our man suffered a great many things. He was having a hard time at it, living in a house where drug and alcohol abuse was rife, he would tell me over and over. He flirted with a second incarceration, having lost his cool at the house a couple of weeks ago. He eventually got a talking to by the administrators and was allowed to stay on at the house.

I had brought him into my home, setting up his new I-Phone with music and very soon he really wanted high-end, ringtones. That was his passion, his time in the Armed Services. He had been over several times and we were getting to know each other.

This past week, he had dropped off the radar, and went M.I.A. (Missing in Action).

I worried for him and was not going to let it go until I figured out where he had disappeared to. This past Saturday I called the rooming house and inquired about his case worker and my friends where about. I was told that case workers don’t work on weekends and that I would have to wait until today to speak to him.

I got up early this morning, after hurried texts with the other member working with our man, and made the call to the house and left a message, that was replied about 4 p.m. this afternoon.

The only thought I was entertaining was that my guy had been re-incarcerated, because that was the thought I was entertaining. I had no idea or inkling that he had passed away, I mean, how often do we, ourselves, when someone so young disappears, say to ourselves, “Well they might be dead.”

Right now we know he was clean and sober. That he died working in a moving truck in Plus 40 temps, during a heat wave. Tonight, after the meeting, I was chairing, one of my friends called to inquire how I knew what I knew and what further I could tell him, which was not much.

Contacting the next of kin would have fallen to the discretion of the house and his case worker.

Eternal Rest Grant Him and May Perpetual Light Shine Upon Him.

A Little More Sober …

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It has been miserably HOT here. It has been more than a week of high 30’s into the mid 40’s with humidexes in the high 40’s. We broke several records this week. And they are saying, on the news that upwards of 44 people in the province are dead, because of the high heat.

We have too many apartments without AC across the city. And even some of our oldest hospitals were in serious jeopardy without AC in patient rooms. Many people IN those hospitals almost died, and all the medical services could offer was a sponge bath and a twice daily walk through corridors that had air, to keep sick patents alive.

It has been very ugly for sure. We have been waiting on God to make it rain, BIG TIME tonight. The severe storm warnings went up early today, but not a drop has fallen on the city as of 2:25 am. But the weather people tell us it will be in the 20’s tomorrow.

It rained once 5 days ago, and for all of ten minutes. I mean the rain fell, but as it hit the ground it evaporated on the steaming pavement below. It did not a drop of good.

I am working on another round of steps with a young lady of my acquaintance. She is a few years sober, but she is a wealth of insight. Tonight I saw another lady friend of mine at the meeting earlier, and shared with her an observation I made of something she said last week, at another meeting. And told her I was working with my young lady friend. My friend is sober a while now. And confirmed for me this thought …

The number of old timers, to “work with” has been slim on the ground. Many of our old timers have fallen off the radar as of late, OR, they are in rabbit holes of their own making. We’ve been trying to help them all when we can.

But my elder lady friend said that she read through the book with another young woman, who was sober just a few years, as they read together, and she told me that it was very humbling for her to sit with someone younger in the program than she was.

I have found that my young lady friend, has perspective on the book, that I have never seen or heard before. I have more notes in my book tonight, than I had written in that very same book, all the years I’ve been reading this particular copy.

I wrote an inventory, and we went over it Tuesday evening. I had followed her directions, but when we got to the end of what I had written, she said, what about the rest of it ? And I said to her, what about it ?

She said to me that I needed to do a fears inventory along with my sex inventory as well, as stated in the book, as it is written. She asked me if I had ever really completely completed a proper 4th step before ? I said no.

She said that she needed to look at my history to see if any issues, based on the already spoken inventory had bled over, and if I didn’t complete the step entirely, then it was not properly done.

Not one human I have ever sat with ever said those words to me, because I know we are all reading the same text, that hasn’t changed in 80 years.I guess this is my chance to really work steps fully and properly.

Nobody I have ever worked with before, ever ventured through the entire step 4 as it is written in the book. I laughed and said that I’ve never sat with a straight male sponsor who ever broached those two inventories with me.

I don’t think any of them wanted to know my exact honest history, so to speak. She sent me home to write it all out, for the first time in forever.

This evening I told my lady friend at the meeting about this conversation I had had with my younger lady friend, and she said to me, Then she IS the one person who knows what she is doing, follow what she tell you to do. So I am going to sit this portion on Monday evening with her.

My young lady friend got sober in Chicago, and has certain perspective about The Work. I sat and wrote the other day, stuff I haven’t thought about in eons.

A side story …

A long time ago, in years nine and ten, I was home grouped in a meeting on the far west west end of the city. There, at that time, was a group of hens who had, at that time, thirty plus years of sobriety each. They took me in and showered me with care. But there was something not just right about the people, in that space.

They celebrated my tenth anniversary with me. They dipped my two year chip in gold, and had it engraved for me as a gift for my tenth.

Soon after, I had an encounter with a member that was toxic and dangerous. It did not end well, and I was only so sober at that time. I promptly resigned from the group and gave back my keys and never spoke to any of them again, since.

And now I know, seven years later, that I was not very sober then, knowing what I know now about sobriety and myself.

For the last seven years, every time I cross paths with certain women from that older group, they ignore me like I do not exist. It happened not long ago that I was visiting Verdun for a series of meetings, and they came all the way from the West end to Verdun, and sitting outside, they all walked past me like I was not even there. Which bothered me intensely. But I shrugged it off …

Tonight, one of the matrons from that West End meeting spoke tonight for us at St. Matthias. After the meeting ended I visited the bathroom, and prayed.

I came out and strode up to our speaker, One of those women that ignore me in public spaces, and I said to her that “I remembered her kindnesses to me. I carry my ten year chip in my wallet and that I thought about her often, and I did not forget her kindness.

Then I added that – at ten years sober, in my experience now, I may have accrued ten years of time, But at that time, I had not accrued, ten years of sobriety, just yet. I know that now.

And I told her that. I told her that I really did not begin to grow up fully, until hit the twelve year mark and a sponsor in New York City, set me on the path to enlightenment. And I know from twelve to almost seventeen years this year, I have grown up a great deal. She asked me how I was feeling, and I said I felt good.

She shook my hand and we left it at that.

Upon reflection of that little conversation, I made an amend to that woman, seven years in the making.

Let’s just say this round is proving to be very difficult but freeing at the same time, as the days pass by, I learn something new about myself. I guess because I am paying attention to God.

Last week, at the same meeting, I was talking to another friend, we were talking about care giving, and I mentioned a story about my father. When I was young, and my grammy had a stroke, he took me out of school, and flew me 1500 miles to her bedside in the hospital.

I firmly believe in my soul, to this day, with what little we knew about strokes in the early 80’s … That if he took me to her bedside and she recognized me, that she would, in essence, wake up. (in the end, she did not wake up) And my friend said to me, that night that my father had a moment of clarity, in his alcoholism.

He knew in that moment he made that decision, clearly from someplace, outside of himself, that i was the key to her recovery. And he also knew that grammy loved me more that anyone else, which is why he flew me out there.

I went home, angry and conflicted. And brooded over it.

When grammy did not wake up or get better, and we came home, that alcoholism and the abuse escalated seriously. I don’t think he ever forgave me for failing his quest. I will never know now.

Friday when I left for the Friday meeting, I was not really feeling myself, but I did what I always do. I opened the cabinet and took out our coffee pot, and as I turned back around, to walk towards the kitchen, a single piece of paper fell to the floor face down.

Now, I was not feeling myself, and I was emotionally off kilter, so to speak. I picked up the paper and turned it over in my hands and began to read the article printed on it.

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It was an article about the house where Bill W. was born, in East Dorset Vermont. It does not appear on ANY map, and if you need to go there, or even want to go there, you first need to know where you are going, by the highway systems through the mountains and valleys of Vermont. Which made me ponder the memory of three years earlier.

My then sponsor, my best friend Joe, and myself were on our way to a men’s intensive retreat. On the way, we stopped in East Dorset to visit that house: the home, the entire property.

I was immediately put straight … It was a message from outside of myself, reminding me that I am never alone.

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We even visited the hallowed graveyard where Bill and his wife Lois are buried. We stood on his grave with a group of women, there for a retreat themselves on the property. and recited the serenity prayer standing around their graves.

That memory is seared into my brain.

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Over the past few months, little signs from God have been coming to me fast and furiously, over several mediums. I have speakers loaded onto my phone. And for about a month, my I-phone shuffle would send me one particular share from a woman I met in 2012, whom I adore, who was friends with Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Anyways, my phone kept shuffling her to me in the oddest moments, over an entire month. I suspected that I needed to hear something she said, which is why that one share kept rotating into my playlist over and over again. Because I guess, once was not enough, I kept listening to her talk to me. That proved to be very beneficial to me looking back at it now.

Not sure where all of this is going … This week is anniversary number 24 of my AIDS diagnosis in 1994. I’m still alive, and God has been talking to me quite often, funny that, I hear Him. I recognize the voice and the messages coming, as they come to me. From whomever they are coming from. I know, if it is coming from outside of me, then it must be Godly advice.

Funny how God works.

An Open Letter to my Brother.

Kenneth

You need to know this story, and without it, the rest of your life, will be scarred by whatever knowledge you were fed, by two people, who have NO knowledge of me beyond my early twenties, up and until the weekend I sat in their home, telling them that I was sick and going to die.

They know nothing about me, after my bought with serious alcoholism, and my run ins with them over alcohol. It was not the brightest period of my life, and ended in my AIDS diagnosis in 1994. When all of you decided that you were NOT going to engage me or help me in any way going forwards, told me all I needed to know about who the three of you were, at that time, and all that I needed to know going forwards. I could never trust any of you ever again.

At that time, I was employed by a man named Todd. My protector, my savior, my friend and my Master. A year prior I walked into his bar, with desire in my heart. Dark desire that was born out of the pornography Roger had scattered all over our house when we were kids. That night, I encountered Todd, he recognized in me a dark desire, that he knew, intimately. That night, he took my life into his hands, and saved me, from a desire that would have gotten me in serious jeopardy.

From that night forward, I went to work for him, where he did protect me, in action. The day after I was diagnosed with AIDS, and the weeks that followed were the hardest weeks/years of my life. The night I stood before Todd and told him I was going to die, he wept for me. And on that night, he took what was left of my broken heart and soul, and he gave me a life.

From that day forward, for two years, working in that bar, Todd taught me everything that I would need to know about surviving a death sentence. I owe Todd my very existence, and I owe Roger and Priscilla NOT ONE THING.

He loved me like God loves me. In retrospect, I can safely say that my encounter with Todd, was an encounter with God Himself. Over 200 men, I knew well, died under our watch, and among all those men who came to that bar night after night, He had chosen to save ME.

Was that Odd or was that GOD?

As kids, we were bred to be enemies and never friends. And beyond our days as kids sharing a bedroom, we grew apart, and were torn apart by parents who said, for the whole of my life that “I was a mistake and should never have been born.” That YOU were the son my father wanted and loved more than any other.

From the days when we were children, Roger had a massive reading library that he left in open community in the bathroom of every house we lived in. That pornography collection was left aside his magazines and Readers Digests. I read every book, magazine and zine he had. I knew what I knew, because Roger left that kind of information out in the open. You might not have paid attention to it, nor noticed it strange that porn was in open community.

The Dog who barks the loudest has the most to hide.

Roger, for the whole of my life, was a barking dog. That man came home from Viet Nam with a secret. A secret he buried for a long time, until the vacation he took us to Washington D.C. to tour the monuments and museums. Where he did the rub of the wall from Robert Donald Logue. The soldier he named me after when I was born. Have you ever seen a picture of Robert Donald Logue? He is a spitting image of our father at their age, in dress blues. There was something there. And every time you visited their house in Sarasota, you walked into the room he devoted as a shrine to RDL.

Roger named me after a soldier killed in a war. He gave me a name of a hallowed man who served his country and died in that service to the United States. Roger named me after a man he cared about, gave me his name, then in the same breath decided that I was a mistake and should never have been born.

I call that an Existential problem…

And for decades after Roger attempted to kill me on numerous occasions, at home, at Grammy’s and Memere’s. Aunt Paula will attest to this if you ask her, because for a very long time, every time Roger went after me, Memere would call Paula to come get me to keep Roger from killing me.

I knew I was gay, before I knew what Gay was. I just did not know the concept. Roger had provided me with one serious education in all things sexual, under his own nose. You never knew what went on behind that bedroom door of theirs, but I did. If you knew where to look you would have figured it out, just like I did. Roger and Priscilla might have been prudish and conservative in the open, but they were steeped in BDSM long before we came along. They just happen to unpack that life into book cases in the house.

Roger and Priscilla figured out I was gay long before I ever decided to come out of the closet. I listened to every word they said to guests and people they worked with. Every time we had dinner at Fred and Nancy’s, when we would come home Roger would beat me senseless to try and Beat the gay out of me because he would not have a homosexual in his house. YET, Roger, in his heart of hearts knew that gay was a thing for him, a choice he could never make due to society and family pressure.

I made that choice, myself on my own and I lived my truth from the day I decided to do so.

I remember when Priscilla was working for Home Health Care, when we were teen agers, and she was doing home drug delivery to AIDS patients. And they would come home and crack the beer and talk about the “FAGS” and how Priscilla abhorred the FAGS and wished that they would just DIE.

I knew, well before I moved out, that I would never come out of the closet to them ever. Roger had beat me enough to know that he wanted me dead, if he had the ability to get away with it, and not be prosecuted for murder, he would have found a way.

However good he seemed to be on the outside, Roger had his issues with me and that lasted for the whole of my life. The day you drove my car to Orlando was the last time we saw each other for years.

What I did not know then, at my age, was responsibility. I had no idea how to conduct myself in the world on my own. I was woefully prepared for the world around me, so I sank into alcoholism that took me places I will never revisit. I did things that were abhorrent. I fucked Roger over. I admit that. I cost him a pretty penny in the end. And that resentment was in his soul for the rest of his and Priscilla’s lives. A resentment that they never forgot, and a resentment that cost me the rest of my life. Because they never forgot that.

I justified that away for a long time. Because for the whole of our lives our parents, and grand parents, and uncles, were alcoholics. We knew this, we saw this, and nobody said a word about it anyone, let alone their spouses, for the fear that men put in the hearts of their wives. I figured that if Roger never paid for his abusive alcoholism, I should not be prosecuted for mine, since they got away with murder.

Roger once said to Priscilla in a fit of rage, that if she ever left him, he would destroy her and leave her with NOTHING. And Priscilla always said that she stayed in that marriage because of her wedding vows, it was more like the fear she had in her heart of Roger seriously fucking her up. So, she stayed in that marriage.

Did you know that YOU are a Canadian Citizen? That Priscilla told a series of lies that came out finally when I was thirty-four years old. You and I were born of a Canadian Mother, at the time of our births, BOTH of us. She just never told you.

That lie got me over the Canadian border in 2002. Priscilla was not naturalized until 1974. She did not become an American Citizen until you were a child. They were also married in 1967. Priscilla was pregnant with ME in her womb, when she walked down that aisle at her wedding. There was an early rift in the family, when Paula told her that just because she was pregnant did not mean that she had to marry Roger. Priscilla told Roger that, and he hated her from the quick.

But Priscilla and Roger needed family to babysit us infants and kids. Roger wanted an American wife, and he stopped at NOTHING to alienate every single-family member of our family over the years. Every chance he got he insulted Memere and denigrated the Canadians in the family. I know this because when I moved to Montreal in 2002, I met with all the aunts and uncles and I got their sides of the stories. I know the truth of just how vindictive Roger had been for the whole of our lives.

Some time after I moved away, I got into serious financial trouble and Roger bailed me out, but never forgot that failure of mine. And on two occasions, did stupid things under their roof. Actions that almost cost me my life.  I could never live under his roof again.

I was not thinking because I was addicted to alcohol. That was my own undoing.

It was alcohol and drugs that took me to the brink of death. And my drinking got so bad at one point that I was drinking in a bar at seven in the morning. And the second time I did that, I walked into the situation that practically killed me in every way.

Months after I got sick. Todd stepped into the fray. He took charge of my life. And in exchange for his support I quit drinking the first time. He saved my life, in exchange I never touched alcohol again, by his rules. I had the Godly support he provided when all of you failed at being supportive and family.

In 1997, Todd moved to California and asked me to follow him, I was too young and too green to make that kind of life decision. I chose to stay in Miami, move there to seek treatment. And my hearts desire was to see Roger DIE sooner than later. And my plan was to return to Sarasota after he died and reclaim my mother and take care of her for the rest of my life.

Obviously, that did not happen. Cue your story.

I was living in South Miami, in a small apartment, working bar jobs, and staying sober. All that was well and good until I was asked to tell my story in an A.A. Speaker meeting for the first time in my life. There were about 400 people in the meeting. By the end of my share, 100 men had gotten up, and left the hall and went outside and waited for me.

In the end, I walked outside, and one man said to me, and I will never forget this: He said We don’t condone “people like you” we want you to leave this meeting and never return here again. I was scorned and sent away. I was three years sober. For the next year, I hung on, until I hit the four year mark.

When Todd moved away, even as he had taught me everything he knew to teach me, I could not hold life together on my own. And clearly, I could never rely on You, Roger or Priscilla for anything. I just skated along. Meanwhile, Roger was coming to Miami for business and he would actually come to my apartment, sit in my living room, and ASK ME TO DIE ALREADY!!! He did that numerous times.

One night, on the way home from dinner on the Highway, he started in on me again. I told him to stop the car on the highway, I got out of the car, told him never to return to my home, and I walked home off the highway. He never came back, except when they return from Memere’s funeral to give me gifts.

For Roger, One, I was gay and sick. Two, I could not live up the honor and sacrifice of RDL any longer. Three, Roger wanted me to die, and I think Priscilla wanted the same. I could not, in good faith, trust any of you, in the case of my death. Who knew what you all would have chosen to do with my body. That clearly was not going to happen.

On my thirtieth birthday I went to court and legally changed my name. One, to protect myself from you all. And Two, to kill ROBERT once in for all, so that Roger’s hateful energy would leave me and never follow me anywhere. Roger and Priscilla were pissed for sure.

Soon after I took leave of my senses and went on an adventure, that almost killed me. I lost everything I owned. In the end it was the cops who came to get me and take me away to a safe house in Sioux City Iowa, hours away from where I was, telling me I could only take what I could carry, which was not much.

I returned to Miami in the year 2000. I lived on the floor of a friend’s apartment for months until I found a place of my own on Miami Beach. Where I lived until I emigrated to Montreal in 2002.

On New Year’s Eve 2000/2001, I was working in a nightclub doing lights. I worked all night long. I got home around 8 a.m. At about 9 a.m. my phone rang. It was Priscilla saying that they were at the Intercontinental and on their way home and wanted to stop to see me. I was THRILLED.

Twenty minutes later they rolled up to my building on Washington Avenue. I said to Roger, let me takes us all out to breakfast and I will pay for parking too. Roger said absolutely NOT. He parked the car in a fire zone and with the car running allowed me twenty minutes to visit with Priscilla. We walked around the block and she got in the car, and they drove off.

That was the last time set eyes on either of them.

On the morning of 9-11 I was sleeping, and my best friend called me around 8 am, and told me to turn on the television. Places were flying into buildings. When the plane hit the pentagon, I called Priscilla and asked her where you were? Whether you were in Washington or not.

PRISCILLA in her wisdom would not tell me where you were, if you were safe or whether you were dead or not. You were the only person I could think of in those first hours. Imagine that I was thinking about your welfare. Funny that.

 

 

It took Priscilla hours to relent and finally tell me that indeed, you were NOT in Washington and that you were safe. She concocted her stance and she took that tack she did with me then.

Miami Beach went dry. For two weeks. We did not drink, we did not dance, we did nothing for two weeks. It was forced sobriety on a grand scale.

On December 9th, 2001, I walked back into the doors or Alcoholics Anonymous. I’ve been sober now over sixteen years. In May of 2002, I moved to Montreal, after submitting my citizenship/Birthright application. (I have your application by the way should you ever want it, is yours for the asking).

A few months after I moved here, I started writing Priscilla and Roger, every other week. Allowing a letter to get south and a return letter to come back. I did that for TWO YEARS. TWO YEARS. I sent gifts, letters, post cards, whatever I could get my hands on. And I was sober too …

A little while later I called Priscilla, and she said several things, A LITANY if you will, of vitriol and stupidity. Let me quote her litany for you:

  1. That I was a mistake and should never have been born.
  2. That I was the cause of all of Kenny’s, Roger’s and her Problems.
  3. That if either she or Roger got sick or died, NOBODY would call me.

That little list sits on my dashboard, and the clock started ticking. It took sixteen sober years, and a partial few weeks for one of them to die. Roger went first. And you did not call, for three days.

I paid a government firm to find you. Because you INTENTIONALLY blocked me across all your social media. I paid a pretty penny to find out everything I needed to know about You, Your life and your location and your home.

Since the last day I saw you, you never came looking for me. Never inquired if I was still alive, and why I left and did not come back. Why I jumped the border and did not look back! And now you won’t even give me the right to speak my truth to you. But you want $100,000.00 from me to pay medical bills.

It will be a cold day in hell when I ever cough up one red cent to that cunt of a mother we call Priscilla. She would have to get down on her hands and knees and beg my forgiveness for the way she and Roger and You treated me in this life. I did nothing so terrible but be Gay, for people to hate me the way you all hate me, all because I am Gay and have a disease that is well controlled today.

WHAT have I ever done to you, to make you hate me the way THEY hate me? I don’t know you, and you sure as shit don’t know me. You never came looking for me. But I know you have three kids now who are all grown into young adults now. And they probably don’t know I exist.

AND you are going to propagate this hatred in them too.

Let’s talk about your wife. The only interaction I had with her. Before you got married, I was at Priscilla’s house the weekend she went dress shopping. I was with her that day. I was thrashing the dress rack looking for a suitable frock for her. Because a Good Gay Man can pick out the killer dress. I know a lot about dresses. I spent years doing drag shows in my professional career.

Priscilla freaked out, scared that someone might see her and I looking for a dress and she could not imagine having someone she knew see us together doing that task. She sent me out of the store.

So, I went Christmas shopping for Christopher, the boy who took care of Priscilla when Roger was out of town. The neighbor whose parents and he came for Christmas dinner when Roger HUMILIATED me in front of guests by sitting me at a card table with plastic utensils. When I told Priscilla to drive by Chris’s house that I had gifts for him, she said, and I quote her: “Are you fucking him?” I was appalled.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the wedding.

Leslie sent me an invitation. That I did not open.

In my early sick sobriety, I was very sick, and it was all about me, you see. Not the best sober decision I ever made. But in my mind, I was not going to be a GUEST at my brother’s wedding. Having to explain why you did not include me IN your wedding but instead, invited me TO your wedding. There is a difference.

I sent the invitation back  – Return to Sender…

Not my finest moment at all. I upset her, and I regret that action to this very day.

I know you don’t like me but every word in this letter is the truth. Because how sober would I be if I were not honest with some dignity and integrity?

I do care about you and I worry for you now, you’ve bit off more than you can chew. And if I can, I would like to help you, but I am not paying one red cent for either of their bills, because when I needed help, in those days, I most needed it, you all did NOTHING for me.

I have been sober a little over sixteen years. Lots of meetings, lots of steps. And lots of family research. I know all their secrets. I know every little detail of their lives and why they treated me with such indignity, shame and violence. Sobriety the second time around was a lot harder and I worked for my bread and butter, it took years for us to get on our feet together. Life of Sobriety is so much sweeter than I could have ever imagined. I know what they were going through. Read the Big Book some day, it may change your life.

Many people do not make on the first pass, like I didn’t make it on the first pass either. So the second time was different. I have learned more about me, family, alcoholism, and sobriety, than I ever learned the first time because I had bigger fish to fry, like staying alive, when everybody else was dying around me.

Roger and Priscilla are two of the most hateful people I know. Why do they hate me? Because I changed my name to kill that memory in them/of them? That I moved to Canada, and spit on my American Citizenship?

Newsflash!  I did not give up my American Citizenship. My AIDS disability keeps the roof over mine and my husband’s heads. Yes, I am also married going on 14 years now.

We were couple number four to get married when gay marriage laws were passed in Quebec.

The fourth couple of the first TEN couples married in the province.

I have a good life. I went back to university at age 36. I carry two degrees in Religion and Pastoral Ministry. I work with autistic kids and kids with disabilities. I do lots of meetings and I give back to my community that gave so much to me to help me live and stay sober.

We have a beautiful seventeenth floor apartment overlooking the City and the St. Lawrence river and Mount Royal. We’ve lived here almost sixteen years now.

I have the best doctor in the world. He actually treated AIDS Patient Number One …

And he treats me today. He has kept me alive with the best drugs money can buy.

And we pay a pretty penny each year for those drugs.

I am still alive. I outlived Roger. There is a God.

They say always speak nicely of the dead.

Roger is DEAD, how nice …

 

Know I love you.

Jeremy