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

 

 

 

 

The Thursday Before Christmas

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The mass exodus of people going home for the holidays is in full swing. Our numbers have dropped by more than half, over the week. Tonight, we sat half the room. The final list is out of who will be open and who will be closed on Christmas.

This year, Christmas is on a Monday, and we will host a meeting on Christmas Night, at Notre Dame de la Salette, for Monday Central. Monday Central is the Oldest Meeting in the city, by years. It was opened by the founders of Montreal sobriety, all those years ago.

Many of my friends will be away for the holiday, so I am cooking Christmas dinner on Wednesday, next week, when folks return home. Christmas is a very quiet affair, here at home. It isn’t about money and tons of gifts.

We will keep it simple again this year. Hubby was not pleased with that assessment, but it is what it is. It’s not like we both NEED anything particular, as in THINGS.

A few of my friends are still in the thick of exams through tomorrow. I’ve been working with many of them, to keep them, above water, working to keep them from going under and ending up “in the weeds” so to speak.

Over the last week, I’ve been talking to my friends and fellows, and many of them are freaking out over what they hear coming out of my mouth. When I took my cake last week, I had said that sobriety is work. It takes work, and if you aren’t doing WORK, then why are you sitting in the room ?

I believe that if you aren’t studying your friends and those folks who have time and even those who don’t have a lot of time, then why bother getting sober ! If you are just going to a meeting and occupying a chair, because we’ve told you to do meetings, and when you leave that hall, you forget what you have just heard, then why go to meetings, if you aren’t taking anything away from the experience.

My friends freak out when they hear me say that I own this space and that when I get home from a meeting, I do home work. I write everything down and I study my friends like lab rats. I know my friends intimately. More intimately than they probably know themselves.

This little fact tends to freak people out on a grand scale, because I’ve breached their anonymity, by writing down my thoughts about them. If I told you their names, and shared specific personal information about them, THEN, I would be breaking anonymity, as far as I am concerned, I can carry any message from a room, as long as I keep the human I am talking about anonymous.

If I have a conversation with you, my life is my business. If I give you advice, and you shake your head at me or tell me to fuck off, it is open season.

I get sober, and stay sober, by watching everything that my friends and fellows do. If you succeed, I succeed. If you fail, I learn from that failure, and I do not repeat your failure behavior. I collect every piece of wisdom I hear. I write it all down, and post it here.

If I am not sharing the messages I am hearing from you, out there, then why am I getting sober, in the first place ? Tonight, my thirty year sober friend said to me, on the way home, when I told her how I get sober said … Why are you taking folks inventories ?

I don’t … I just collect words and I parse them and I use them to my advantage.

The only two things people are concerned with are One, their anonymity and Two, doing actual work to get sober. They don’t want to be talked about and they also don’t want to work for their supper …

I’ve seen, over the past few months, how specific people have stopped coming to specific meetings, for one reason or another. Their absence is noticeable. I know they aren’t showing up.

People do not like the fact that they are subjects of sober scrutiny. I’m finished with people and places that don’t do me any favors. People have proven to me that they cannot be accountable, nor reliable.

They do not bother to step up and be counted as sober folks and help people who are in the weeds and in pain. They’d rather just walk by and say nothing, and not offer a single word of support or love.

ANGER

Anger has arisen in the rooms as of late. And it isn’t just with me either. The waves of ANGER have risen among men and women alike. Since my meltdown, we all learned that many alcoholics, men and women alike, LIVE in FEAR.

You don’t know, if you don’t ask or witness this but, many people have extenuating circumstances to their lives. Many people have deep seeded problems that lie, in the darkness of our minds, never to see the light of day.

When I hit the skids and had my emotional breakdown, and my emotional control went wacky, people were clearly freaked out. People are afraid of me, afraid of the anger I was displaying. I wasn’t acting out or hurting anyone, but I was sharing in open community, what was going on inside my head, in real-time.

People fear what they ONE, either don’t know, or TWO, what they fear themselves. I am not the only human in the rooms here, who has been through the emotional wringer over the past year.

I had a conversation with an old friend, a lady friend, who is long sober, who has also walked through the anger wing of sobriety herself. And she took a sober hostage along the way, and he was so scared of her, that he dumped her clean and clear.

Alcoholics do not do anger … Because they live in FEAR.

The rooms, might not be the best place to figure out your emotional business in open community, but I did not have a professional therapist in my back pocket, and for the life of me, NOT ONE ALCOHOLIC said the words, “I know how you feel, this is what I did !” Not One of my fellows even offered to help me out or point me in the direction of help, at any point of my insufferable journey of self discovery.

I walked it ALONE.

The only saving grace was that I knew what to do. I kept showing up, and I did service. Because I knew if I did those TWO things, I would stay sober.

And FUCK what everyone else had to say about my suffering.

They were too busy judging me and tutting behind my back to each other, because not one of them offered any kind of sober help or even simple love.

People might be sober, and now I know that many of my friends suffer in silence, their own demons. I know this because they all ran in the other direction when I was in the thick of my anger and pain. They saw in me, something of themselves. Their own anger and pain because of abuse or something from their past.

Folks don’t want to look at themselves. But when you are freaking out, in front of them, and they see fear, anger, pain and suffering, all my friends walked away.

I know what my experience has been. And how people treated me.

And to this day, One person has come to me and made amends, because now SHE can empathize with me, my anger and pain, because she walked through her own, over the past year, and she needed to know what I did when she walked away.

I told her the truth.

People don’t like the truth.

And they surely don’t like my scrutiny about their behavior.

It is what it is …

If we do not learn in sobriety, then why bother getting sober in the first place, if you are just sitting in a room, taking up space, while you bury what is within you, never to see the light of day, until one of us goes off the deep end ourselves and suffers seriously.

Alcoholics, many of us, are not well, across the board, and over the past year, we have seen these things take place. And we watched them react in fear.

Because FEAR is the default …

That is scary …

Friday: Personal Inventory

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

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

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

People are merciless.

Tonight, we talked about inventories.

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

Some get it, many don’t.

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

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

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

People are not kind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am still sober, sixteen years later.

Because of friends who stand with me, every day.

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

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

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

It was a good night. with good conversation.

Grateful …

Friday: After the Honeymoon Ends …

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The fact of life, when you are sober is, Life Does Not Stop, It Keeps On Going.

I know that feelings pass, as the days go by. The less we hold on to impermanent things, the better off we are. I’m sad about the death of a man who was uber talented. But that was yesterday. Being so many degrees separated from the epicenter of tragedy, tells me that I can mourn and move on.

So we move on.

I left really early, so I could commune with the dead via music. I arrived at the church with PLENTY of time to do my thing, ALONE. About ten minutes to seven, I was finished setting up and I went to sit outside.

Squirrels were bouncing through the tree canopy. And something very spiritual happened. Something I know to be true to me, that hasn’t happened in a very long time.

Birds are a very significant signs in my life. As I was sitting outside on the steps, I looked in a tree nearby, and there was a Red Breasted Robin sitting in the branches.

She came out of the tree, and landed about six feet from where I was sitting. And she came close and ran around the ground around where I was sitting.

The red breasted robin is significant, because the robin is a spiritual manifestation of my grammy. When ever she comes to visit, it is the robin who shows up.

All my dead relatives came back as birds. My grammy, my grampy and Memere.

That was spiritually significant. I had not been visited like that in a very long time.

We sat a full house, and then some. Lots of visitors from out of town. We are amid the summer visitor rush. The Friday night meeting is unique in many ways. There is not another meeting like ours, in all the city, on the English side.

Tonight’s read spoke about: The Honeymoon. Or as some may call it, the Pink Cloud period that sometimes takes place, in the weeks and months following our entry into the rooms.

Once you sink into your chair and you find your voice, one begins to participate in greater abilities. It seems, for some, that the realities of life, have been suspended.

We spend a little time with our fellows, and some of those fellows become friends as we find our ways. That is a good thing. We may need a little respite from the insanity we have come to learn how to let go of.

My warning to newbies is always the same …

You might be sitting on your pink cloud and everything seems in order as the insanity you walked away from is abated for a while. But like all things natural, life does go on around us. It just does not take a vacation.

It is just waiting for us. And hoping that we’ve learned something minimal by now is the key, so that when the cloud edge comes, you don’t fall off of it, and hit the ground with a THUD. Some go back out, and drink and use again, shit happens.

I’ve seen this happen. So I encourage our men and women to stick close to others in the rooms. Find commonalities. Use the rooms as they present themselves to you.

You CAN, figuratively, GET anything you need from the rooms. That worked for me famously. But times have changed. The rooms fifteen years ago, are not the rooms of 2017.

For me, the first eleven months were really great. I was connected. I had a sponsor that i was connected to with an umbilical cord through my first anniversary.

Sobriety, like life, happens, and sometimes sober people do really Un-Sober things.

At the eleventh month mark, I met my then boyfriend, and the race took off.

That Christmas of 2002, hubby went home to Ottawa and he gave me keys to the apartment we live in today, and said I could stay here, while he was gone.

I never left … tee hee

That was the beginning. Once that train left the station, it never stopped.

The honeymoon was definitely OVER.

Learning how to have a sober relationship took A LOT of work. Learning how to be responsible for another human being, was the beginning of my reaching the point I had been looking for for the whole of my life.

When does a boy become a man ??? Gay or Straight, the answer is the SAME.

Boys become MEN when we learn to put the needs of our significant others before our own.

Putting a home together took YEARS.

This apartment was sterile, dirty white. Take out containers were all over the place. The tv was black and white and had rabbit ears. We did not have a computer. We did not have food in the fridge. We did not have two nickles to rub together.

There were 300 empty beer bottles on the balcony, that took months and months to return, so we could buy groceries. Hubby was a pot head, so we had to cleanse the apartment of weed, rolling machines and papers … UGH !!!

Yesterday I was reorganizing the closet and I found another rolling machine, and a package of papers … Does this ever end ???

Needless to say, it was one thing after another. Mental illness happened. I learned how to care for my boyfriend who was sick for almost a year. That was a huge challenge.

Then he woke up, and we got married …In November 2004.

The Honeymoon was deferred until December that year. Things were honeymoonish for a few weeks.

That did not last for long.

Thirteen years would pass, until that final PROMISE came to pass …

Fear of People and of Economic Insecurities will leave us …

The grind of life took us on a life changing journey together. And we survived it.

In year thirteen and beyond life got exponentially better.

It was clearly NOT a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination.

We both worked our asses off. Went back to school, we amassed 5 University degrees between us.

Sobriety grew on us and not without its challenges.

Life is SO much better today than it was a little more than fifteen years ago.

I had 11 months of non stop meetings. I had 11 months of a sponsor who was part of my life on a daily basis. I had aftercare rehab counseling for two years when I got sober this time. I had everything I needed and NOT a single thing more.

I worked my ass off, for twelve years in sobriety, before BOB came into my life and turned my sober life upside down. I thought I was doing everything right, WRONG …

Bob introduced me to Intense Prayer and Meditation, like I had never heard before.

Three – Seven – Eleven …

My sobriety was definitely enhanced.

Twelve through fifteen was all about learning MORE about the book.

Year Fifteen has been one Hellacious, Terrible, Emotional, Nightmare.

I never want to go through this kind of pain ever again in my life.

In ten days, I will be Fifty years old.

Hallelujah !

It works if you work it.

Linkin Park star Chester Bennington’s hurt made beautiful music

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Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who died aged 41 on Thursday, had helped lead the group to critical acclaim.

Bennington’s distinctive vocals – added to the group’s blend of rap, metal, and electronic music – spawned a string of chart-topping hits.

The son of a police officer in Phoenix, Arizona, Bennington was born on 20 March 1976 and had a troubled youth.

After years of intense drug use, he got sober and joined Linkin Park in 1998.

“Growing up, for me, was very scary and very lonely,” he told Metal Hammer magazine in 2014.

“I started getting molested when I was about seven or eight.”

His parents divorced when he was 11 years old, and he went to live with his father, whom he described as “not emotionally very stable then”, adding that “there was no-one I could turn to”.

The singer quit hard drugs after a gang broke into a property where the future star was getting high and pistol-whipped some of his friends.

Bennington moved to Los Angeles and successfully auditioned to join Linkin Park.

Later in the 2000s, as the band’s success took off, he again began using drugs before returning to sobriety, telling Spin Magazine in 2009: “It’s not cool to be an alcoholic.

“It’s not cool to go drink and be a dumbass.

“It’s cool to be a part of recovery.

“Most of my work has been a reflection of what I’ve been going through in one way or another,” he added.

Formed in 1996, Linkin Park’s debut album Hybrid Theory surfed the popular wave of nu-metal, Rolling Stone magazine writes.

It eventually sold more than 30 million albums and became one of the top-selling albums since the start of this millennium.

The band has sold 70 million albums worldwide and won two Grammy Awards.

Linkin Park had a string of hits including Faint, In The End and Crawling, and collaborated with rapper Jay-Z.

Bennington was said to be close to Sound Garden’s Chris Cornell, who took his own life in May 2017.

As well as a hole in Linkin Park’s line-up, he leaves six children from two different marriages.