A Year Later

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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.

A week has passed.

This is what I know right now.

I really do not care if people like me or not. I really don’t care what people think about me, what I wear in public, or how they perceive me.

I know who my friends are. And right now, I know, for sure, that most people, do not care for my brand of sobriety or lifestyle.

I’ve learned how to be Honest. I’ve learned how to be Vulnerable in public. I’ve seen how other people react to my honesty. They don’t like it at all. And would rather eat dirt, than to say anything directly to me. And that’s ok with me.

I don’t need validation from anyone but God. I also know, that if I need to hear God, I know where to go to hear His voice.

The other day, we talked about Acceptance. Page 417, in the Big Book. Acceptance is the answer to all my problems. That’s what the book says.

I know, from years of listening to people SPOUT the wisdom of Acceptance, that some think that Acceptance, says that I have to accept people who use the Looser Line that says: Well that’s just who I am.

They use Acceptance like a Get Out Of Jail Free Card.

It allows alcoholics who don’t care about personal growth or empathy for others, to just sit in the place of being an ASSHOLE.

There are so many assholes out there right now, it is astonishing.

All I want out of this life, is to be Honest. To know how to do the Right Thing, even if it goes against every bone in my body. I work very hard to be a good human being to everyone. Even when much of the people I see, DON’T.

They don’t care about anyone but themselves. People are so consumed with the clothing I wear, and sit in judgment so deep, that it makes me sick.

One of my friends hit a First tonight.

He mentioned Brene Brown. He too, has listened to every one of her talks, and read several of her books, like I have over the past two years. He did it in just a few months.

But he spoke language I Understood and Identified with.

I don’t trust a whole lot of people, that I cannot throw very far. And that’s ok with me. I might not be connected to certain people, like some of my friends are, but if I have to compromise my standards and values, for someone in particular, to want to work with me, I’d rather go it alone.

Because the choices in Men of Sober, Good Standards, LONG Sober, are very few and far between. I know who to talk to. And I know who to avoid.

I’ve lived another year of experiences. Some of those experiences were good, some were not. People don’t have to like me. And I have grown to accept that.

I’m a strange Gay Man of fifty-one years, twenty-five years living with AIDS. And almost seventeen years sobriety. No one has the same life qualifications and identifications.

Once again, I know who my friends are.

And for the moment, that will have to suffice, until conditions change on the ground.

I do what needs to be done. I serve my community. I help my friends. I am kind.

I know my values and my morals. I may not always know the right thing, but like my friend tonight, I trust the little voice in my head more today, than I have in the past.

If it Doesn’t Feel Right, then Don’t Do It.

The Man in the Arena Speech

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt …

“If you are not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback !!!”

Essay: Vulnerability

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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 …