This is the Way It Is …

On a Double Decker bus in Ottawa with my best friend …

Watching coming out videos today, bring back certain memories and invoke certain feelings, about my own story.

I traveled to the South Shore last night, for a meeting at the famous Beaver Rehabilitation Center. Over the years, I’ve heard some old timers tell stories of their time there, and a particular nurse who worked there until about a decade ago. On the way the driver of the car, told me her stories of that famed nurse, Joan.

I learned a few more things about new friends last night. Which was nice. and I also learned that the car driver’s sobriety date is the SAME as mine.

December the 9th … She in 1987, me in 2001.

But back to where I am at the moment. I’m kinda sad.

Like I said above, I watched a new coming out video from a young man on You Tube. And I wrote to him, that his story was the most honest, tender and loving story I had ever heard. Coming Out is a daunting proposition.

He faced his trials and in the end he had success. His friends came round, his mom came round, and his sisters came round, eventually.

And I think … People are who they are. And I was and am powerless over people, places and things. The other night we talked about “Acceptance.”

I wonder, why people say the things they do, why they act the way they act, and why the world went sideways when I was a kid. I’m gonna be 52 in a few months and I think to myself, what a waste of time and effort. I really believe I was sold a terrible bill of goods.

People treated me so unfairly. And never gave me the opportunity to speak my words and defend myself. It was better to push me away and shut off my light and silence my ability to speak, rather than hear what I really have to say.

Coming Out, I was sold a bill of goods. I was told certain truths. And I ran with that delusion, until it did not serve me any longer. And I’ve written in the past, quite recently, The life I really wanted and desired, never came to fruition, and in the end I got the life, I got. It wasn’t necessarily the life I wanted, but it is the life I got.

I’m not sure I would have changed the life I have, or the way it played out, because life is good today, and I should not be resentful or bitter about not getting or getting.

We spend inordinate amounts of time sitting in meetings, listening to our friends, or people we think are our friends. And it still makes me wonder about people, when I hear some of the things that come out of their mouths.

And I think to myself, WHY ?

An entire section of my life is non-existent. An entire family of people have nothing to do with me, because of choices I made. But really, I was gay, and gay was abominable, so I had to move away from home, because I was pushed away.

THEN they blamed me and said it was all my fault. That I was the cause of all of their problems. When I was the one who got away from a very abusive situation, and people. I got out for my own good, my own safety and my own sanity.

So Fuck me for self preservation.

So many years have passed and nobody seems to care that I am alive or have a life or have words to speak to certain people. And I find that wasteful today. I think that people have just gone down a rabbit hole and never came back up.

People have a choice. And I wonder, why people made the decisions they did, because at this point in my life, I see the wasted opportunities, the wasted years and years of punishing silence.

Why because I was Gay or later, was diagnosed with AIDS?

I had two coming out experiences. The first was much happier than the second. Because when I came out, it was on my own terms, in the location I wanted, with the people I wanted to be there, when I made my entrance into the gay community of Orlando.

I think to myself, that certain people in my life did what they did and they said what they said and they chose the line they were going to follow, for better or for worse.

I lost on all accounts, because an entire group of people walked away from me, and left me on my own to survive. Thank God, Todd was there, because if it wasn’t for him, I would have died many years ago.

I just think it is utterly so sad that I am where I am, still asking the same questions I asked decades ago. All I want is to speak, to tell my story to people who don’t want to know me. To explain the what, where, why, and how. On my own terms, in my own voice.

But people don’t or won’t deign to stoop to my level and listen to me. I am just not that important. And there is just too much water gone under that old bridge.

I find that utterly sad. It just makes me so sad and sick inside.

My father went to his grave, never knowing me. never speaking to me, and never allowing me to say what I needed to say to him before he died. And that was his choice, not mine. My mother is going to same way, and so is my brother.

None of them want to know. Or want to listen.

So Fuck me for self preservation

Time is a precious commodity, once wasted it can never be regained.

My maths teacher, in 9th grade, used to write this sentence on the black board before every test or exam. And I remember those words till today.

So many people have wasted too much precious time. That we’ll never get back. Time is of the essence.

God is in control. And maybe it is better that way.

Because I surely don’t want to make these kinds of decisions.

Acceptance is the key to all of my problems.

Brene Brown – The Anatomy of Trust and Vulnerability

“If your marble jar is empty, you don’t have it to give away.” “Do you have marble jar friends ?” “What is a marble jar friend ?”

Braving
Boundaries
Reliability
Accountability
Vault
Integrity
Non Judgement
Generosity

Trust – is choosing to make something important to you, vulnerable to the actions of someone else.

This mirrors A Vision for You, when it says: “Obviously you cannot transmit something you haven’t got.”

I have a marble jar. I’ve been working to fill it, over these very trying months of my life.

And I have spent time listening to Brene Brown, Timber Hawkeye and others talk about The Anatomy Trust, Vulnerability, Shame, Guilt, Peace, Letting Go, and the Fine Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and finally, The Fuck It List…

When my emotional roller coaster left the station, I observed something that shook me to my sober core. My friends, fellows, sponsors, allies, did not want to hear my pain. They did not want to listen to me, honestly and compassionately, and without judgment.

As the months wore on, the people who did not want to listen to me, became afraid of me, and some, even asked me to go from meetings because of their fear factor.

Men and Women who were double-digit sober, MUCH more double digit sober than I am right now, thought out loud that “Oh, you want us to treat you special, unlike everyone else in the room!” No … I just want to be treated as a human being in difficulty.

I have friends, well, they’re not friends any more, who just cannot sit with me and listen to me talk when I need to talk. If only to hear words come out of my mouth, that seem important to me in the moment.

Yesterday I was sitting with a friend, well, I thought she was a friend. We were talking about HER. There is a situation on the table, she wants to invest in. And she wanted me to walk her through this process, because I have personal experience, in this area.

I have friends, well, fellows, who will invest every dollar of their mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical selves with people far away, or on people who have a very low R.O.I. (Return on Investment).

I’ve been floundering here in my own stew of emotional and mental soup for months, and every time I want to talk to and/or in front of these people, they tell me to SHUT UP.

I’ve learned that I have a choice in the WHO, the WHAT, and the WHY …

I don’t have to engage in every problem in a room. And I don’t have to invest in something that is wasteful and/or a waste of time.

I’ve done this over and over again.

Timber says that WE need to be LIGHT.

Light as in a LIGHTHOUSE.

A lighthouse is static. Stands in one place, and shines its light for ships to see to navigate away from rocks and danger.

For years and years, I thought I needed to shine my light in people’s faces, as if to say …

“Here is the light, do you see it, I am the light …”

NO, WRONG …

I just have to sit still and be present, and keep my mouth shut until it is necessary to speak.

One attracts more bees with honey than with vinegar.

It is apparent to me now, many months later, that as long as I am serving other people, talking about what THEY want to talk about, and helping THEM, as long as the conversation is serving THEM, everything is kosher.

As soon as there is a break in the stream of consciousness, and I turn from helping THEM into hoping they will listen to ME, to help ME, that’s when they tell me to SHUT UP.

Does that seem right to you ? Because it doesn’t seem right to me.

Timber tells us to make a list of our CORE VALUES. Write them down. All those things that we want to be, the men and women we want to become.

When you finish writing, take that list and compare it to WHO you ARE right now.

Right away, we begin to see just how much work we have to do with US, to become the people we want to be.

I have that same list for my friends. People are people and I have to let them be who they are, without expectations, judgments or conditions.

We have to allow people to be who they are warts and all.

But in these times of troubles and strife, I need my friends to help me. I bowed down and asked for help. I’ve asked people to help me, to rise up and do for me when I could not do for myself.

Barely a handful of those people did RISE UP and helped ME.

I’ve learned that I don’t always have to be the voice of reason and sobriety. Not everyone wants to listen to me give them unsolicited advice, because someone, or a friend is in difficulty. I gotta let them work it out. And not get involved in their spiritual journey.

That is one of the Great Sins …

One, to get in the way of YOUR spiritual journey, and TWO, getting in the way of someone Else’s spiritual journey.

I’m tired of my friends, telling me to just SHUT UP.

Essay – Vulnerability

It is Tuesday, a day off. I watched a You Tube Video about Candice Neistat, with Bryan Elliott, which lead to a TED talk with Brene Brown, about vulnerability.

Bryan shared a quote from Brene that said:

“The depth that we are willing to be vulnerable is the measure of our courage.”

When He heard that quote, it floored him. When I heard the quote from him, I had to go to the source to understand its context.

I’ve been working to understand what the entire last year has been about, and why things panned out the way they did, and I think it comes down to being totally vulnerable, honestly and authentically.

Over my life, there have been times when I have been brutally honest, and totally vulnerable. Take for instance, finding out I was sick and was going to die.

Utter devastation makes one vulnerable, because we have lost control, we are not in control, and we end up, out of control, in many ways.

In a sense, I was too vulnerable for my own good, because in that vulnerability to be honest and authentic, scared everyone away. I was in the mix, and my friends and family could not handle the honest, gut wrenching truth.

The person that I was truly vulnerable with, was Todd. He was humble and a force to be reckoned with, when it came to my dignity and my life. Over those years, I shed a great many tears in front of him, with him, and because of him. That is something that I can say, changed my life.

A little while later, I stood up, in front of a room full of alcoholics like me and was vulnerable, once again. I alienated them, and they asked me to go away. So much for wearing my death on my sleeve.

Imagine having your heart crushed by someone when you are sharing the deepest darkest fears of your soul. In the attempt to recover from numbing your emotions for so long.

Brene says that you cannot selectively numb certain emotions, and not affect the others along with them.

In sobriety, I have been vulnerable to a certain degree. And it has taken almost all of my sobriety, to finally tap that well of vulnerability, like I have tapped over the past year.

I may not have tapped it, but it certainly tapped me.

People who are authentic:

  • Have the courage to be Imperfect
  • They are Compassionate to themselves first, then to others
  • They believe connection is the result of Authenticity
  • And they Believe that they are Worthy
  • That fully embracing their Vulnerability makes them Beautiful
  • And that Relationships are Fundamental parts of existence for us all
  • Connection is why we are here on earth. To Connect and not be Alone

Brene goes on to say that Vulnerability is at the core of:

  • Shame
  • Fear
  • And the Struggle for Worthiness
  • Which is the Birthplace of Joy, Creativity, Belonging and Love

I can see, in hindsight, where I shut down that part of myself. Not necessarily a good thing, but it is what it is. You might think that I was stoic, on certain occasions, but I don’t think it was stoicism, but maybe fear, numbness and an inability to articulate what was going on in my head.

I’ve spoken about those points in life where I was totally vulnerable and sunk in a pit of despair. I can name them, because the list is very short.

  • The day I identified James’s body at the morgue after his suicide
  • The night I told Todd that I was going to die
  • The day I said goodbye to Todd
  • And the emotional response I had to the Orlando Massacre

The last episode was the worst, in many, many years. I had not cried, as I did, since James’s death, the many nights I cried on Todd’s shoulder, struggling with death and his insistence on my survival. Many tears were shed during those two years of intensive work on myself, at Todd’s direction.

That Tuesday night, at the meeting, when I fell apart, it was a cathartic response, to the story that we were reading from the back of the Big Book, the emotional state I was in, because of the massacre, and the fact that only one human being thought to call to see if I was ok.

Then the reaction of my sponsor who humiliated me and accused me of expecting to be treated differently than the others in the room, when all I wanted was a little compassion, that my fellows and my sponsor could not accommodate.

Instead of understanding and compassion, for my vulnerability, I was humiliated and shut down, by people who were incapable of understanding.

I had friends, who were long sober. Whom I thought loved me. They cared for me and supported me, and did charitable acts for me, inside of an organization that I belong to, that I have not set foot in since many months ago.

I ran my steps with a woman I trusted. I told her my deepest and darkest secrets, and she knew my story, and had been involved with my sobriety for a very long time. When I got through my steps she said to me that I was angry and that she and the other women were afraid of me and that I should, in essence, go away …

I raised my voice at a business meeting, then ensued a mass running for the hills by my friends, fellows and sponsees. I had a rough night, and got punished for it with silence and judgment by people I spent an inordinate amount of time with. And when it came time to speak to that truth, I did so. Which probably alienated them all the way gone.

So much for being vulnerable.

I have some fatal flaws that always get in the way of my relationships with others.

  • I have an idealistic belief that every human being has ONE redeemable quality, that lends to forgiveness and love.
  • I believe in people, from the get go.
  • I trust people, from the get go, which stems from the rooms and my belief that most people are good.
  • I am also judgmental of some. I can spot bullshit and arrogant men, and people who would do me harm, at 50 paces
  • Living with AIDS gives me certain perspective on people, a talent I learned to save my own peril from those who would do harm to me.

This is what I have been feeling and experiencing over the past year. And now I understand it as well.

The price I paid for vulnerability was the loss of many people in my life, who either could not stand my depth of honesty or their understanding and commitment to compassion and love.

Such is life in the world of the alcoholic.

I also know today, that resentment and anger, pointed towards people,is sometimes pointless and wastes valuable energy towards others, when I should be pointing that energy towards myself. And that I need to be a bit more compassionate, understanding and forgiving, and also have a sense of pity for certain people in my life.

It is not always my fault for the reaction or beliefs of certain people in my life. I did not create them, and I am not responsible for their reactions to me, and/or towards me.

Not everyone we know, Not every one we meet, and Not everyone we spend time with are meant to be in our lives forever. In each interaction, there is a lesson to be learned about them and about ourselves.

This has been a year of learning about myself and others, in regards to the way others react to what is going on in my life, in the sense of honesty, integrity, vulnerability and authenticity.

It is true that, for the most part I am totally honest in some ways, but reserved in other ways. I don’t necessarily share my opinions, but when I do, they certainly cause people to look at me with second glances.

Hence, the loss of so many friends and fellows over the past year.

I get a sense that vulnerability comes in waves, as I am able to deal with them. And it seemed to me that they came fast and furiously for a while. It was BANG, BANG, BANG, one after the other.

That dam, failed. And vulnerability came.

I had no way to stop it once it began.

Not sure if I am done with it, but it makes sense now.

We shall see …

Misfortunes of Others

At the end of the day, it is character that either makes you a good person or a bad person. At the end of the day, when you speak of others, it is what you say about those people, that tells us just what kind of person you really are.

The Anonymity Statement says:

Who you see here,
What you hear here,
when you leave here,
let it stay here.

We keep to this statement, when discussing certain topics. I amended my writing method to reflect BRAVING, as stated by Brene Brown.

Over the holidays, we hit more meetings than usual, to keep up with our kids, to make sure they stayed sober, over the holidays. We kept rooms open on the holidays and we were on top of our community as whole. In the end, everybody succeeded. And we were all glad for that.

On Christmas Night, we hit a meeting we don’t usually hit, but it was Christmas, and friends who came to dinner, here at my home, wanted to hit that particular meeting, because it is close to my home.

The room was full. And a number of my friends, were in attendance.

As the share, on the topic, went around the room, one particular man, who struggles himself, chimed in on the discussion. I’ve been around a while, and I know how many passes, many of my friends have made, at trying to get sober. Some make it, many do not.

One thing about recovery … we don’t revel in the suffering of another human being. So when the comment came out of his mouth, everyone took notice of what he said, and I quote:

I really love to watch people go back out and drink. I “get off” on seeing someone fail at getting sober. It makes me feel superior to them.

This very same man, is a member at our Thursday meeting, and had been our Twelve Step Rep. The job, representing our group as a whole, to welcome the newcomer, or those coming back from a slip.

He was the one person we put in the job to be welcoming, to be respectful, to represent the fellowship with respect, character and humility.

Tonight, at the business meeting, we set out to vote on setting new people into term jobs for the group. The Twelve Step Rep, was one of those jobs.

Our man, spoke up, and nominated himself, again, for the job.

There were several of us sitting around that table, tonight, who heard this man speak those words at the Christmas meeting.

This has been a bone of contention between us for weeks now. Because nobody disagreed that the words spoken were disagreeable. And in his defense, we should not have brought up something he said, in Another Meeting, and bring up his words at anther meeting.

The Anonymity Rule applies.

One of my friends brought up the comment. And myself and another, who had been sitting in said meeting, knew of the issue, because we were there.

He argued the anonymity statement, and was offended that we would bring up a comment he spoke, against him.

We disagreed with him.

It all comes back to character.

All of my friends, at differing lengths of sobriety, said that they really did not think that someone who “gets off” on someone else’s misfortunes, should retain the job, of welcoming someone who had an unfortunate slip or someone coming to their first meeting.

It is hard enough walking into the room, the first time. We all know this. Everybody knows this. My friend said tonight, that he would rather see someone who had a little more humility and a little less judgment of those who suffer, giving out the chip.

Needless to say, the meeting did not end well. And the Twelve Step job is still vacant. The chair of the business meeting decided to stay the vote and table it till next month, so we could calm down and rethink our positions on said issue.

Nobody has the right to judge anyone else, we are all in the same boat. Some longer sober than others.

I have my time in the rooms, and I’ve heard many things said, in the anonymity and safety of any room I go to.

I’ve never heard another member say that they “get off” on people’s misfortunes. You might think that, but I’ve never heard the sentiment spoken in open community.

Comments like this leave a bad taste in our mouths.

Let’s say I drank again, and walked into a room, and hit my next, First meeting. And I had to do the walk, up to the table, and take a chip again.

Now, what if I knew, that the human handing me that chip, “got off” on my misfortune ? What would that say about the health of the fellowship, or the group as an entity of sobriety ?

I know better than to talk about my friends here. Because the last time I did that, the flame and vitriol that was directed at me, by sober people was terrible.

We might think many things to ourselves. That all changes, when we make terrible judgment calls about our friends, especially if they are suffering. In open community.

What people hear in meetings, stays with them, when they walk out the door, and sometimes words we hear, affect us, and affects those people if they have a roll to play in a meeting. You might be anonymous in a meeting, but if you say something that is repulsive, everyone who heard you say whatever it was you said, will remember those words.

This is a lesson in sobriety for sure. We can all learn from this situation, and how we should deal with this kind of issue. Sobriety is about getting better and becoming better men and women.

Sobriety is not about getting off on someone else’s misfortunes.

It all comes back to the questions of character and sobriety.

3rd Day of the New Year

This is a happy photo. Spending time with my best friend and his girlfriend, in a place they love, together. It is important, now, more than ever, to make time for our friends, to be present for each other, without distractions.

Today was a busy day. We had chores to do, errands to run. Bills to pay, groceries to shop for and to do some much needed laundry.

There are many young people from far and wide whom I follow on Instagram. Many of them, serious influencers. Over the last little while, I’ve been considering my strengths and weaknesses. And just how much I can do physically, within my abilities.

Today I put my fitness plan into action. There is a gym, with full amenities right up the street, and they offer a wide range of classes, yoga, a thirty minute speed track workout program and many other appealing things, that I can do, every day, if I wanted to.

This was the sort of last box on my list of things to do, to build upon my medical good fortune. Being on a diet for so long and seeing physical results in real time, means that if I add a little activity in the gym, I will hit the goal I am planning on hitting, over the next year.

I’ve collected enough gym gear, in clothing, that I won’t have to repeat an outfit for more than a months time now. Tomorrow I receive a delivery of the latest Lithium line from Odyn. They are HOT !!!

I’ve talked to a few of our fitness trainers within our group over the last little while, in planning my fitness plan and setting some manageable and attainable goals. Slow and steady wins the race, so slow and steady will be the plan.

I think also this year, among my friend group, I would like to spend a greater amount of time being present and doing what I do best. Working with my friends. A little kindness goes a long way. It was a particularly tedious holiday for many, and now that that is over, after the hard work many of us employed to help those who found it difficult, to now, work at maintaining our kids.

They all know what to do now. Everybody seems to be in a good place, seeing that all of our kids survived another holiday season sober. Now we need to give them work to do, to step up their games, individually.

It does not take much to be present, so long as you put down your phone and say away from social media, as long as you can.

This is the year we all need to be good to ourselves. To listen to our bodies, and if need be, DIAL DOWN the gym and activity, because if we don’t listen to our bodies, it is to our own peril.

Make this the year of change. Good Change.

2019 The Blank Page Opens

New Years Eve began very early yesterday morning. The last chore to end the year was a visit to the General to drop labs for my January appointments. Killing two birds with one stone is my usual habit.

I was up at 5:45 in the morning, it was still dark outside, and it was also bitterly cold. Pondering the thought that a huge number of people would be at the lab before I got there, had me up a little earlier than usual, if only to beat the horde of people we usually see on any given morning at 6 a.m.

I got to my bus stop and there was no bus, and I was the only one waiting for said bus, at 6 a.m. The bus arrived a few minutes later, and only a handful of people got on. That boded well for the first trip of the day.

I got upstairs at 6:30 and there was nobody waiting. Not One Soul. I took my number, went outside for some air, and returned to the lab being open before 7. Which is highly unusual. I was the only one waiting, so I was the first person in the lab to make my drop. In all of ten minutes I was on my way home. It was still dark outside.

I waited longer for buses, in both directions, than I did waiting for the lab to open. I asked the lady at the desk what was up, because usually the place is crawling with people. And she told me that probably nobody thought the lab would be open this morning.

I got home with plenty of time to make some tea, and ring in the New Year in Sydney Australia at 8 a.m. EST. I posted those pics after the event, because I had screen grabbed a few shots live as they happened. I have to say that Sydney’s fireworks show was massive. Probably the best fireworks show I had ever seen. We have a Fireworks festival here in Montreal every summer. This mornings show was massive. There were fire barges all up the waterway from East to West, including all the fire power they put on the Harbor Bridge.

I have a web cam link to Sydney harbor and a dedicated channel that simulcasts the show direct from Sydney live, on a larger server with more band with than the simple cam channel I use. They cannot handle all of the massive traffic the show generates online.

Later in the morning, I got an email from ODYN.

I had ordered a new set from their latest collection of the Lithium line. On the right is the Lithium Triton top. I have a full Triton set coming. Via DHL Express, which should have them here by Thursday.

Their work times run 21 to 28 working days to sew each piece, and the whole crew has been waiting on their shipping confirmations as well. The Gods of Odyn sent us all shipping notices this morning. An entire batch of new clothes are winging their way to friends far and wide as we speak.

I don’t usually make New Years Resolutions, but I have two in mind at the moment. Both of which are possible and manageable. I made a commitment to my Odyn friends, and they are keeping me on point, so to speak.

I took a nap for the afternoon and then prepped for the New Year’s Eve meeting at our Monday location. The really Big New Year’s Eve young people’s party was last night, so attendance was a bit sparse, but we sat a good group. It was a fruitful discussion.

All of our folks had places to go that were safe and had no alcohol or the temptation to even ponder the thought. How can you compete with over a 1000 sober folks packed into a dance hall for the ball drop ?

As the night wore on the temps dropped lower than they were when I was outbound. And by the time I reached my final metro stop to walk home, it was snowing.

We had dinner, watched the ball drop in NYC had some bubly and called it a night. Well, I am still up at 3:30 a.m. UGH

Time for bed.

Happy New Year, you are looking at a blank page, what story will you write this year, it is your to make or break. This is the real deal, not a dress rehearsal, so make it good.

G’nite …

Year End Review 2018

Instead of writing an entire expose of the past year, I thought I would share the first thought that made it into print, the first entry of every month of 2018. A little retrospective, of course. Enjoy !!!

January 2018 …

In 1998, at four years sober, every man I knew, at that four year mark, walked out the doors and drank and used again. Including myself.

At that time, it was the messaging, that just solidified my decision to take my life back into my own hands and go out. When an alcoholic walks up to you and says Get Out and Don’t come back … what are you supposed to do, when you figure out, your options at that point are very slim, on the ground.

February 2018 …

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

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

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

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

March 2018 …

It has been a few days since my last update. It has been a busy time for everybody all around. We have a family wedding in May, it will be the first time, in many years that the entire family will be in the same location at the same time, to celebrate my niece Melissa and her husband to be, Stephan’s wedding.

We have watched our nieces and nephews grow up into fine young adults. And we spoil them whenever we get the chance. Holidays are always a big deal for our family. We will be traveling to Southern Ontario (on the train) a first for us.

In July, one of my guys, Juan is going to marry his fiancée Nadia, in a very intimate setting here in Montreal. We’ve been working very hard at keeping them “on the beam” so to speak. Juggling school, work, wedding preparations and life, is a tall order. But, like they say, “we have a program for that!”

April 1 2018 – Easter Sunday

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

John 20: 11-18

Now Mary stood outside the tomb weeping. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

May 2018 …

Two years ago, this very week, May 1st, 2016 to be exact, Fort McMurray, in Alberta, Western Canada was a tinder box, and went up in flames. We covered that tragedy here on the blog. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, thousands upon thousands of homes were burned to the ground.

But, resilient as people are, Fort McMurray is on the rebound as rebuilding has been going on since the all clear was sounded.

Seasonal changes have been occurring … This is fact.

Winters have been long and arduous. The snow pack is deep, again this year. Snow has been falling to the ground across Canada into the month of May this year. Here in Quebec, Winter went so long, we thought it would never end.

June 2018 …

Have you ever loved something so much, that you thought at one point, that you would do that thing for the rest of your life ? Climb the ladder of success, in a field/job, a sport, in music, or a trade ?

And what happens when you reach the point of success, let’s say, “going to an Olympics in Beijing as a Canadian athlete at the top of ones game.” And then having the tables turn on you, and that sport you loved, and gave it all of your heart and soul, and then that passion for the game DIES within, and alcohol becomes your best friend and companion.

July 2018 …

Staying the course, and always doing the next right thing, is good sound advice.

When the chatter in my head is running at fever pitch, and my emotions seem to rule every decision or thought at times, I know that I need to stop and take a break.

Read: I need to STOP and Pray !!!

Funny how things fall into my lap, when I most need them. Or, little signs from somewhere outside of myself, seem to appear, in front of me, at the oddest moments.

I have told the story about my I-Phones tendency to shuffle me a speaker, one speaker in particular, when I really need a talking to. It seems to know me better than I know myself at times, which begs the question … Are Our I-Phones sentient ???

August 2018 …

My birthday was the 31st of July. The morning of my birthday, when I got up and out of bed, I was still alive. I saw my doctor a couple of days before my birthday, and once again, I thanked him for keeping me alive another year.

This incarnation of my blog reached it’s First Anniversary. Thanks to cowards and their dishonesty. People would rather eat dirt, than be honest.

Without my doctor, where would I be right now ? I Don’t Know …

The people that mattered, celebrated my birthday, each in their own special ways.

September 2018 …

Summer is officially over. We did not Labor, over the Labor day weekend.

However good news did come.

October 2018 …

Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies, by Jared Diamond

Have you ever wondered, how did we get here? Where did we come from?  Why here and Why now? Why are some countries rich, and others poor? Why do human live where they live today, and where did the first peoples come from?

Being an avid reader poses challenges now and then. Picking up a substantive book, and reading it from cover to cover, requires time, treasure and commitment. I have several substantial books in my “read” library stack. It took me quite a while to consume Guns, Germs and Steel. Not only does this book require time and treasure, it demands of its reader, patience, understanding, and a desire to learn; something that I found, was enlightening and educational.

Jared Diamond begins some 13,000 years ago, when the world was first populated with hunter gatherers. The continents were finding their places, ice ages, came and went. And early humans, as archeologists have studied began to populate the earth. When oceans were shallower, and land bridges existed, in several locations on the earth, people moved here and there.

Indigenous peoples worldwide don’t garner very much respect from the conquering peoples who overtook them. There were multiple indigenous communities worldwide, before the proverbial “white man” came and either infected them with disease, enslaved them to serve, relegated them to reserves or killed them outright in wars and conquests.

This book is methodical in its approach to humanity. And in pain staking detail we learn what peoples lived in prehistory. We learn where they lived to begin with and where they moved, on the earth as time progresses.

We learn how advances in food production, disasters of germs and disease, and the advancing industrial revolution, where guns and steel overpower those who did not have them.

We learn that in historical times, conquest and war, dispensed with entire groups of people. You did not only get the peoples who took up conquest, but the people who suffered because of it. The people who were here, before we got here, grew into some, successful communities. In the end, those vibrant indigenous communities were laid wasted by diseases brought by the conquerors, and the wars perpetuated in the names of Kings, Queens or Country.

As the continents were solidified, where people lived either assisted their success or advanced their demise. Where you lived, in relation to the latitude of your environs, either helped you, or harmed you. The success of peoples, farming, livestock, and growth all depended greatly, on where you sat, on the earth, in terms of latitude and longitude.

The spread of all things necessary for life, worked well, in areas with an expansive East – West axes. Those countries with North – South, axes, did not fare so well, the population and spread of food, animals and technology flourished in the Eurasian, East West Expanse of location.

There is a direct correlation between the location of a people, and the environment they found themselves in. From the Equator, reaching either North or South, temperate regions flourished. Guns, Germs and Steel tells the story of how the world became what it has.

Time, Distance, Location and the problems associated with location either helped peoples grow and succeed, or they took much longer to achieve certain benchmarks in their human existence. All things moving East – West grew faster than those things moving North – South.

Time is measured in hundreds of years,  The movement of people, goods, animals, and agriculture took TIME. And it seems that in pre-history, time is a very important component in the building of peoples, world wide.

Jared Diamond spins a very intricate web of story telling about Time, Talent, and Treasure. How the world built itself, learned how to govern itself, farm the land, produce food, and be able to store that food over Time, and then industrialize, are very important factors in human existence.

Guns, Germs and Steel is not a simple story, it is complex on many levels and explains the difficulty early peoples faced, in maintaining a home, finding food to eat, and learning the hard way, especially, “what not to eat.”

Every continent on the earth has a particular Origin Story. Every peoples who populate the earth, where ever that may be, also have complex Origin Stories. This very complex but wonderful study of humanity is one of the best books I have ever read, on the subject of just How We Got Here !

How each continent and how each people on each continent arrived where they did, and prospered to the level they are at today is studied exhaustively in this text. The Origins of People, Language, Customs and Lives and how all these things moved from one area of the world to other areas of the world is fascinating.

No stone is left un-turned by page 444 …

Pulitzer Prize books must contain certain factors that I always look for, IF a particular book has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize. Because I have read a handful of winners, that turned out to be real losers.

Guns, Germs and Steel is a Winner !!!

Read This Book !

November 2018 …

I’ve been sitting on my thoughts over the last little while. Two things I try to avoid, discussion of Religion and politics. The world has so much going on, that I have opinions about, that sometimes, I think to myself, “why bother?”

December 2018 …

December 9th 2018 came and went without fanfare.

The phone only rang once all day. The Big Celebration will take place on Friday night, at our regular Friday Night meeting. It is our Anniversary Meeting/Christmas Party. And I will take my cake as well.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I sit in the grand scheme of things, a little drop in the Big Ocean of the Universe. I’ve not quite figured that out just yet, so I am still flying by the seat of my pants.

A while back I had a conversation with a friend who is at year seven in his transition, today. Back then, amid some strife in his life, I told him that “What people think of us is none of our business.”

Not long ago, while talking together he parroted back to me that phrase, but he could not place where he had originally heard it. And I said, “that was a sober thought, and it sounds like something I would have said to you in the past. So it went.

We talked about what he calls being “Emotionally Self Sufficient.” Not relying on others, judgments, critiques, support or not support for us, to dictate the men and women we become.

I don’t usually worry about what people think of me, on the whole. It used to bother me when people, in public would critique my outfits or judge me one way or another. I kind of grew out of that insanity. Albeit, the hard way.

It had to be purged amid a pass through my steps this past Fall.

The one thing that haunts me to this day is the nostalgic portion of my brain that gives credence to the thought that people would grow up and finally want to make peace, after a lifetime of vitriol and hatred. In the back of my head I believe that every human has One Redeeming Quality, that can overcome whatever hardness in their hearts, if only they would find it within themselves. Alas, that has not happened.

I really cannot stomach that there are people in my life who hate me and want nothing to do with me because I am Gay and that I chose to take hold of my life, and go my own way, and do my own thing, and I believe, I did a good job so far. Some people don’t get it, and fault me for leaving a nuclear unit to break out on my own. Let’s remember that these same people, pushed me away and out of that nuclear unit, because I was Gay.

So Fuck Me !

There are so many good things in my life today. Today was my Quit Day, smoking cigarettes. I’ve been on Chantix for more than a week now, and just crossed the second week dosing of higher doses of medication. Which has seriously curbed my desire to smoke. That is a thing.

Working with others has kept me busy and on point. Trying to be the best human I can, and teaching lessons to others, that I learned myself many, many years ago, today. Not too many people pay attention to my stories, but there are three men who will listen.

And when I say to them, TRUST ME … I know what I am talking about, because it comes from a place deep within my soul. From the man who saved my life, and said those words to me, when I needed to hear them, and I have survived more than twenty five years now.

Hindsight is truly a gift these days.

Christmas shopping is going on. I did the bulk of my shopping on Tuesday. I had to travel into the Village for some things. And the central village Metro Station is closed for renovations until next June 2019. So I had to figure out how to get out of our intermodal Berri Station, which houses several Metro lines on three levels, down into the ground. The main Montreal bus station and all associated towers and service offices. There are many ways out of the station, but if you take the wrong tower exit, you end up in a particularly “other” area of town that you actually wanted to end up in.

There is a little snow on the ground. It is unseasonably below average cold, but it should warm up into positive numbers come the weekend. Long range forecasts says that snow showers will fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are hosting a Christmas Dinner party for a friend, his wife and her mom. Their Second Christmas dinner here at our house.

It will be grand.

All in all life is good. I am still sober. And all is well.

17 Sober Holidays

Another successful holiday is in the books. The plans I’d spent weeks and months putting together, came to fruition. The good thing about being sober, so long, is that, we get to chose with whom we celebrate the holidays with and why.

In my experience, And I said this to one of my guys tonight, after dinner, was this … Not in the last few years, have I ever witnessed another sober human being, walk up to me and say those magic words, and they are:

“I Know How You Feel, Let Me Tell You How I Dealt With That.”

Lorna and Bob, two long sober members from New York spoke these words to us, in person, a number of years ago. There are only a few people, guys I work with, who heard these words too, because I have shared them with my guys. It was obvious, when we sat together as a Round Up Group, many folks I know, forgot those words. And I muse that, when I was in a difficult place, nobody had those words, as Lorna says are “Of Ever Lasting Life.”

There are folks, I know today, when I show up to particular meetings, out of my regular schedule, like tonight’s meeting on Christmas Night, at my old home group where I spent the first TWELVE YEARS of my sobriety, say to me, “Why don’t you call me ever?” Most people I socialize with already have my number, because I give it freely.

If I give someone my number, there is a reason I do that. So that THEY would use it, when I ask them to use it. People don’t like being told what to do, even when they tell me they are in difficulty, and they ask my advice and sit and listen to what I say in response. Usually couched in my response, if not spoken directly is this … “If you ask me for advice, and I give it freely, because I make time for all of my friends, is that you reciprocate!”

I walked into a meeting with one of my dinner guests tonight, and half a dozen people noticed what I was or wasn’t wearing. I was out of my usual choice of clothing, because I was entertaining tonight, so I went a little conservative, instead of my sporty spice look. They did not ask me how I was doing, or wish me Merry Christmas, they only wanted to comment on my outfit.

A handful of others, as I made the rounds before the meeting, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas that was sitting in the room, and shaking every hand, said to me …”Why don’t you ever call me?” My standard response came out quite easily. “If you really wanted to speak to me, you, yourself, would pick up that 2000 pound phone and use it for the purpose it was made for … To Be Used.

How much does a cell phone weigh, I ask you ?

Folks know I am reachable, 24 hours a day, and that I always answer my phone. I just don’t go out of my way, with just any alcoholic, to spend time, listening to them piss and moan. Tonight, there were a number of miserable young people sitting in the meeting. Kids, who, last year, celebrated their first sober holiday in living memory, many of them made it to year two. Because I told them, to their faces, that “if they stayed sober over last Christmas, that they indeed would stay sober.” Many of them listened to that advice and were successful. A handful did not make it. And were back for round two tonight. I watch my young people closely. I am present for all of them. I show up, so that THEY show up too.

So many people are miserable in their lives, and those people drink. There are also miserable people in sobriety, and they don’t drink. I talk to my guys often about this paradox. People stop drinking, yet they maintain their misery, like a rock around their necks.

When really … They can jettison that rock at any moment. When I say that to them, they look at me quizzically, as if to say, “Yeah Right.” You make it sound so easy. And things are easier said than done. Because folks make that conscious decision to remain miserable and sad.

We read from the Big Book and A Vision For You tonight. The portion of the passage that says at some point we come to the day that we cannot imagine life WITH alcohol or WITHOUT it. THEN, we will know loneliness unlike anything we ever known. And we reach the jumping off point.

We will want the end.

The reading goes on to speak of the fellowship and what we can do for each other, when we reach the jumping off point. When you come to your Home Group, and you connect, and you STAY, your life will change.

I show up so that others see me show up to tell them that ANYTHING is possible. It CAN be DONE. It takes Work. Consistency. Faith. and Action.

People WITH TIME, look at me strangely. People with little time look at me strangely. They cannot figure out, why I am so serene and happy.

Vulnerability takes Courage.

For a couple of years, I’ve been vulnerable. I speak my mind. I share honestly, and to the point. I am out there, in good times, and in bad times. I tell people when I am feeling sad, or angry, or happy. I no longer edit my words in public. People do not like it when I am deadly honest. People cannot understand why I speak honestly and with soul.

I am an Alcoholic who wants to get well. To live a good life. To know why I tick the way I tick, and to work on my character defects and shortcomings.

We might work steps, some more often than others. Many forget that Steps Six and Seven are the steps we work for the rest of our lives, on a daily basis.

My guys know this. And they struggle the same way I struggle, when they come to me and ask my advice, when sometimes I have no idea what to say to them, as I tell them how I dealt with those very same issues. The only way I know how to help another human is to tell them the truth, even if I don’t have a clue, what I am supposed to say, at least I say something.

Over the weekend I was home alone. And I rang up a friend, I’ve known for more than forty years now. Facebook, that necessary evil, makes it possible to keep in touch with people who matter to me, sober or not.

She asked me about me, and I asked her about her. I told her my story, and she told me one of hers. She said, and I quote … “If you don’t concentrate on your step work when it comes to certain people in my life, actually STEP the exact issue, you are going to become as bitter and angry as they are.”

She goes on … You know steps better than I do, of course I do, she’s not one of us. But she knows enough about me today, that she can offer that kind of advice, because I will listen to her when she talks to me. Because, we often don’t have an opportunity to talk for over an hour, like we did Sunday night. She was right. I shared that at the meeting tonight.

Everybody looked at me strangely. What are you talking about? I knew what I was talking about. Now I know what I can do now. The conundrum of sobriety is this … There aren’t a whole lot of people I want to talk to, to any depth, because only a handful of people I know today, would even offer to invest in me. Even sober …

A long timer said tonight, that he’d been hitting many more meetings than usual because his shift at work has changed. But he notices the disparity of not a whole lot of long sober people. They are either moved away, sick themselves, or dead. He hangs around with NEW BLOOD. He sees how many of us, who were around or, more, still around from the years when we got sober together. Few of us, are still around.

There are too many chair warmers. People want to get sober. Yet, they don’t want to put in the time and the work necessary, to get where some of us are, on the path to happy, joyous and free.

Not long ago, one of my kids, after facing a raft of losses in his life, walked into the meeting, on Thursday, a couple of weeks ago, and said to me and to God, as I stood there “Where are the fucking PROMISES?” God certainly has not dropped them on me,” at his almost ninety days of sobriety.

New comers hear us read those pesky promises day in day out, week in and week out. And they suppose that God is gonna drop Promises on them like Manna from Heaven, as needed, with no toil or tilling the ground so that the garden bears fruit.

A garden is not gonna bear fruit or anything, if you aren’t going to get your hands dirty, and get down and dirty in the mud with the rest of us. So many people want the PAYOUT with no LABOR.

I look at them and a giggle to myself. If you only knew.

Promises don’t drop out of heaven like Manna. They come when you invest in THE WORK. And you put your time in getting sober. You just cannot walk in the door and expect God to just lay it on you because you just walked in the room.

Because that’s exactly what I said when I came in this second time around. I actually gave God a list of “Things I wanted, Expected, because I HAD ARRIVED!”

Long Sober folks laughed at me and said: KEEP COMING BACK !

Talk about lessons in humility.

I worked my ass off for the whole of my sobriety. My best friend said it all when I took my 17th chip a couple of weeks ago … I don’t stop, I am always looking for the next big challenge. I ask people for help, even if they are less sober than I am. Newcomers saved my ass this past year. My lady friends who worked steps with me changed my life in ways I cannot explain.

Some of my kids are lock, stock and barrel, Confident Adult Women.

I’ve watched them grow up around me and in front of my own eyes. And that is what I wanted this round. So I asked for help, and help arrived. Because I was willing to sit, read, and to listen.

Because some of my women have solid, hard core sponsors, who don’t hand out bull shit, but expect hard work and honesty from their women. Some of my friends HAVE IT. Many do not. But they could, if they put in the work to get better, instead of pissing and moaning about how miserable they are in sobriety.

And I am oft to say … You know if what we have does not work for you, we’ll refund you your sobriety, and you can go drink again, and see if that works better.

Common wisdom of people who are long sober, or sober longer than I am, say this … Alcoholism might stalk me in the back of my head, and I hear it speak to me and woo me into the false idea that a drink would be nice.

Long timers, who are sober twenty plus years, know the kinds of drinkers and addicts they were when they got sober. They know how insane their lives were, and none of us are going to give it up for the chance to try some new drug or flavor of alcohol that some of our young kids drank or drugged with.

Our young people have that conscious choice in front of them. They can root and stay, and work and learn, and get better, OR they can warm a chair and bide their time, until the opportune moment they can say FUCK IT and go back out and drink and use some more.

Common wisdom also says that the odds of finding a better buzz, or a better drug, on a relapse will be better, is false. Because eventually you are going to wind up in a worse place the next time they chose to use, a bigger jackpot, even jail, or institution, or God Forbid, DEATH.

I know misery. I’ve been miserable too. And I am one of those men who will admit that in open community. Not many pay attention to anything I say.

But if I wear something irregular, they WILL SAY something to me.

Funny that !

I don’t have time for misery or anger or bitterness. My nuclear family have invested, lock, stock, and barrel on the alcohol, and the misery, anger and bitterness. Because they speak to me in those kinds of words.

I know those words. And from my mouth to God’s ears …

I WILL NEVER BECOME YOU !

I’ve been sober now seventeen Christmases. I’ve been sober longer than all the years I spent drinking and drugging. I’ve spent more holidays sober now, than I have ever, in my life, even as a kid. Because in my family, alcohol was a food group. If you did anything, it was bracketed by an alcoholic beverage of some kind. Beer or Spirits.

I’ve never been so cognizant of how subtle the fine line of sanity and insanity. Because I skate on that line often. And I know how precarious that skate is sometimes. So I stick with the winners. I suit up and I show up for my life, on a daily basis.

I heard a guy talk on Instagram earlier before I started writing this post and he said … IF YOU WANT CHANGE, IT IS EVERY DAY.

EVERY DAY !!!

EVERY DAY !!!

CONSISTENTLY, RELIGIOUSLY, WHEN YOU WANT TO AND WHEN YOU DON’T. WHEN PEOPLE SEE YOU, AND WHEN THEY DON’T.

IF YOU AREN’T IN THE ARENA WITH ME GETTING YOUR ASS KICKED LIKE ME, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOUR CRITICISM.

Brene Brown … The Man in the Arena Speech. Teddy Roosevelt.

CHEAP SEATS ARE EASY. GET IN THE ARENA AND FIGHT FOR GOD’S SAKE. BECAUSE IF YOU AREN’T FIGHTING LIKE ME, YOU HAVE NO ROOM TO CRITICIZE ME.

Some sober folks are in the cheap seats, and they want to criticize, and not do any heavy lifting. Sobriety isn’t cheap seats, work. Sobriety is IN THE ARENA FIGHTING FOR ONES LIFE and SANITY.

Merry Christmas !