Y’all Win

*Throws up hands* Y’all win.

I seem to be outvoted. I suppose it was a foregone conclusion. When Aj and Z and even this nice young lady, https://awaketostillness.wordpress.com/about/, *editorial, I don’t know her real name* have ganged up on me to tell me that I MUST admit that I’m “amazing”, I’ll surrender.

Now that we have that out of the way…

I’ll surrender but, there’s a condition.*grins*

I don’t have the market cornered. If I’m as good as they say I am, then they are, too. In that group, “amazing” is average. I can live with that. *grins* I’m still in awe of the Ladies I think of as friends. That’ll never change but, I’ll admit to amazing.

Now, may I please go back to normal? *grins*

*editorial, I suspect that Aj will only be satisfied with an unconditional surrender*

Let Someone Else be Amazing

I don’t want to be amazing.

Aj and Z won’t quit bugging me. They keep telling me I’m amazing. It’s not that I have a bad self-image, it’s just that I don’t want to live up to that standard. I really do like who I am. I have some great traits. I’m loyal, smart, hard-working, and honest. I’ll stand up for my friends and do my best to encourage them and build them up in public or in private. I strive to be the best husband I am capable of being. I’ve got a sense of humor that lets me laugh at almost everything, including myself. I’ve gotten past addiction and survived mostly sane. Those things aren’t amazing. They’re just part of me.

I’m also lazy, profane, hypocritical, a slob, judgmental and cynical. I don’t pay attention when I drive and my diet is mostly meat or snacks. I have to fight back my anger.

I’ll be happy to be myself. I said it up there, I like who I am. Being me isn’t amazing. It’s fun. I enjoy that I’ve got friends and a wife that are comfortable enough with me, and me them, that they can tease mercilessly. I love that I have people that I trust enough to listen to…even if I have to write a post like this to disagree. I’m not being hard-headed…well, maybe I am a bit. I just see things differently.

Amazing is a hard standard. Amazing doesn’t give me any wiggle room for my off days. Sometimes I do stuff that makes me think “what kind of idiot?…” I suppose some of those count as “amazing” *sigh*
Besides, if I’m amazing that doesn’t give me a word for the people that amaze me. There are people in the world that raise kids as a single mom. There are people that put their lives on the line to defend our country. There are people that run into burning buildings or cars. There are people with artistic talents that enrich our lives. There are scientists that probe the mysteries of the universe and the world around us. Those people are amazing. The women in my world that I look up to are amazing.
Look, I know y’all are trying to help. I love y’all to pieces. I know that good things have come out of my life and more will. Let’s just find a different word. My ego doesn’t need to be amazing to feel good about myself. I have “my collection of Yankee women” to remind me that I’m loved. I have my faith to do the same.
I’ll make y’all a deal, I’ll be Miller. Miller is a good guy. Miller is semi-normal and well loved. That’s more than I ever expected and enough to make me happy. Fair enough?

The Only Way I Could Think of to Tease Was to Say Nice Things

I keep wanting to write this post to tease Aj and Z. I kind of owe them. They’re merciless when it comes to teasing me. *grins* The problem is that they’re not here, I mean now, and it’s not as much fun. They have this habit, they like keeping me in a state of confusion. It’s not very hard. I’m an easily confused man and they’re women. I’d tell them to find a new hobby except that I really do enjoy it.

Do you have friends like that? Friends that you trust. Friends that you can be completely serious and candid with? Friends that have your back? Friends that, without saying a word, give you support? Friends that love the person you are? Friends that are sarcastic and tease without giving offense because you are friends and you won’t be offended by them? Friends that you have allowed to be close enough that they can hurt you and you know they won’t?

I have Aj and Z. They’re the same and different. They’re really different from each other in the minor things like religion and orientation. They’re the same in the qualities that really matter. They have the same “content of their character”. They have the same sense of humor. They’re women. *grins at obvious last statement* Of course, Z likes to hunt and fish and Aj doesn’t. They both live about a thousand miles from me, yeah, a real thousand, in different directions. They are people that, when I’m having a bad day, I can think about and smile. They both have the ability to care deeply for people and causes and, at the same time, not care what people think of them or worry about giving offense. I love them to pieces.

I could go on all day. I hope they read this and get embarrassed. I owe them a few. *grins* They probably don’t appear perfect to most people but, to me, they’re perfect the way they are. I mean, realistically, everyone has their faults but, as friends, they’re everything I want or need…except that whole “thousand miles” away thing and I don’t see that changing.

I suppose this is the part where I should insert a protest bit and say that when we look at one aspect of a person and decide to discriminate against it, we are discounting the whole of the person. The whole of those ladies includes the parts that some would dislike. For me, Aj being Pagan has introduced me to a new group of people and their perspectives. Z being gay just means that we have something else in common, we both like women. Not only do those differences not detract from them to me, they add to them because they let me expand my views. *editorial, I’m not entirely open minded. I freely admit my bias. My bias is that if it hurts my friends and family, I am against it*

I wouldn’t change them if I could…except for that geography part. I love them just the way they are. I couldn’t have picked better friends so, I am truly glad they picked me.

Looking Back at My Addiction: My Perceptions and a Few Other Thoughts

In the past week, I’ve written about my addiction. There are some things that need to be added. I’ll put them in. There’s not really any order to them…

The best thing that happened, while I was an addict, was the very end. It was the hardest on my father. I showed up for New Years drunk and high. He put me on a bed and I passed out. When I woke up, he told me (paraphrased) “I love you but, I don’t like you. I’ll give you one ride to one place and I never want to see you again.” I believed him. A week later, I was walking back to his house to beg forgiveness. I was done. I knew, at that point, my way would never work and something had to change. If he hadn’t done that, if he’d kept helping me, I’d still be an addict…

*****

There was alienation between me and my family. It wasn’t their fault. It was my perception. It was me being too high, or out getting messed up, that caused the rift. They didn’t approve and didn’t know the extent. I never clarified things, either. Over the years, I missed all manner of holidays, trips, and events because of my poor choices. That has left a bunch of scarring on our relationship. We, as a family, still carry the baggage of that. I’ll accept all of the blame for that one. They did the best they could to process what information I gave them. Problem is, I really didn’t give them any. I’d promise to be there and not. That, too, was a pattern. Broken promises and un-made commitments were a way of life for me.

*****

I was also a champion at fooling myself. I didn’t do meth every day, or even every month. I could go for a few months at a time without it. Then, I’d go for a year or two using it as often as I could. I never stopped smoking pot or drinking. I’m not claiming sober during that period. What I am trying to say is that I would get far enough away from meth to think I could start back using a little bit on the weekend or something and then I’d get back into the hugely destructive pattern…as compared to the other hugely destructive pattern of being an alcoholic. *sigh*

I was able to convince myself that, as long as I had a job, I was ok. That was a lie. It was a justification for doing what I knew was wrong.

*****

I still have a hard time processing emotional information. The first person I ever told I loved, that was not a blood relation or a dog, was my wife. I really didn’t understand the meaning of love. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure that I do, now. It’s a hard thing to believe that you are worth being loved. I’m getting better but, there are days and times that I have a hard time with it. Just ask Aj, she’ll tell you how many times she has to try to convince me that I’m worth it.

I think that, for me, using stunted my emotional growth. It stopped me from learning the lessons that I should have learned in my teens. *editorial, I started drinking weekly and smoking pot daily when I was about 16* That is baggage I still carry. Learning to love is a constant source of amazement to me. It’s why I, so often, write in defense of love and about it…sorry, I digress.

I’m also left with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I never quite feel like what I’m doing is quite “good enough”. I’m always trying to do better. Sometimes, that’s a bad thing. I try too hard. I know it’s perception on my end. When someone tells me “good job” I’m never sure if I believe them or not.

*****

On a semi-related note, when I was a year sober, I expected my family to be as willing to believe it as I was. Here’s the issue. I had a decades long track record of messing up. They hadn’t had enough time to believe that I had really changed. That was a fair assessment. I wanted things to be all “sunshine and light”. They NEEDED more proof. Given the way I had done things in the past, their judgment was fair. I would appear to be doing well and let them down…again. I think, looking back from a few more years, they had every right to feel that way. If the pattern is failure, then family needs the time and distance, too. They need to make sure that they are not setting themselves up for another letdown.

*****

I still don’t trust myself. I do not keep alcohol in my house. I won’t buy a bottle of wine or a beer for a recipe. There’s a cliff. If I take the tiniest step over the edge, the stop is the bottom. I don’t go to restaurants that are “Bar and …”, at least not by myself. On my wedding day, there were six glasses of champagne and one of club soda at our dinner. I don’t mind being around people drinking as long as they are family. I know they’ll help me stay protected from myself.

I have a very strict policy about associating with people from the “bad old days”. If I did meth with you, I don’t associate. There are some people I knew then that I have contacted once or twice and then lost track of. There are some people that I knew in my teen-age years that I still love and cherish, even if I rarely talk to them. Those didn’t do meth with me and have stopped, as far as I can tell, smoking weed. It really is a matter of protecting myself.

I’m also a homebody. I really don’t want to go out. I like and need the security of a stable refuge. Sure, I go to work. I rarely, less than once in six months, go out to eat. Home is safe and calm. I need that stability.

*****

Back to perception. I was/am used to living in my own head. I am a goof. I love to joke and tease. I read everything I can get my hands on. Those are not the same as letting what I’m thinking out. *this makes sense to me, I’m trying to let it make sense on the page* Even writing this feels like talking to myself. There’s only me, here. That means that I can feel guarded by the impersonality of the words on the screen.

If you have learned to distrust yourself and you can not trust the people you associate with, then distrust becomes safety. It is far easier to expect to be let down and not trust success than it is to expect good things. In my past, when things went right, I KNEW, they were going to come crashing down. Because I lived so close to the edge, I spent every dime on drugs that didn’t go to basic needs, the tiniest hiccup was going to cost far more than it should have. Does this make sense? When you fly without a net and you eff up, the only thing to catch you is the ground.

*****

*sigh*

Anyway, things are better. This is nine years, NINE YEARS, down the road and there’s still baggage. I suspect there always will be. Things are better. It gets a bit easier every day. It is less hard to want a drink. It is easier to trust people and myself. I am really learning to love myself and extend it. *editorial, it is still easier to love someone else than it is to love me*

The changes are incremental. I was high longer than I have been sober. No matter how bad I want it, it is a series of imperceptible steps. The stopping using was only the first step. Even without the drugs, the patterns still exist. The first step seems huge. It was. Thing is, that is not the only step. If I stop taking them, it would be easy to relapse. I have to keep moving forward.

There’s also something else I watch out for. I’ve seen people relapse. There’s a moment where one second using is bad and the very next, it is ok. That is the most dangerous moment. If I can keep that moment from ever happening, I’ll stay clean. All I can do is make sure that I never let that spot happen. Part of the way I do is to stay well away from people that still use or justify it. There is really only one person I know can never go back, me. I’m not making a value judgment about them or their lives, I’m only protecting myself from myself.

I do not begrudge my past. It shaped me. It gives me more appreciation for what I have now and how far I am from what I was. I live in a place that is Gratitude. I love my wife with all my heart. She knows my fears. She wakes me up from my nightmares. She is a constant in my life and is a support when I start to fall.

I do trust myself to reach out when I need to. That’s the first part of learning to trust myself. I have friends that I can call. There are Aj and Z. I learned to trust them. Actually, Aj has known me for some years and I had a hard time believing her when she told me that she loved me.  *editorial, as a friend, the only woman I have romantic love for is my wife. she’s the only one I ever will * Aj is the one that boots my tail when I get down on myself. Aj’s the one that has to tell me I’m worth being loved when I don’t really believe it.

Z is the Christian I go to first for prayer. We all need a first person to go to, no matter our faith. Z knows when I need someone to talk to God for me, she does.

There are bunch of other people on my side but, those three Ladies are my “support group”. I need them and they know it. *grins, if they didn’t, they do now* Having them has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t have to tell them every thought but, when I need to tell someone, they are there. Knowing that Aj knows I’m writing this now makes a difference. It means that I can write it and know there’s support and energy being sent my way. Does that make sense? Also, knowing that people I admire and love return that love makes a difference. That there are friends that have picked me to be their friend helps my confidence in myself. *editorial, family, you are born into, it doesn’t make them less, it merely removes “choice” They’re stuck with you.* That my wife made the decision to marry me is beyond my comprehension…except for the part that she really did and puts up with me. *editorial, I’m either 4 or 50, drives her nuts. grins*

This ran longer than I expected. It was only going to be some passing thoughts. I do want to emphasize something else, I always do. I WAS NOT a victim. I picked the path I took. I repeatedly took steps to ensure I stayed on that path. There is no one to blame for my actions except for myself.

Good things did come out of that path. I am a good person. I was then, it is just that I was an addict. If I hadn’t been him, I wouldn’t be married to the woman I love now. If it weren’t for that path, I would not know either Aj or Z. That would be my loss. I learned that my way is not always right and someone else’s isn’t always wrong. That has made me willing to embrace people that are “differently normal” *see previous post*. Because Aj and Z have my back in private…and public, I write a blog that is to support them. Yes, if I hadn’t been an addict a blog about Religious Freedom and LBGT rights wouldn’t exist, probably because I wouldn’t know Aj and Z. So, the unintended consequence of me being who I was is that I am here now. *editorial, I know this paragraph paraphrases ones in previous posts about addiction. I don’t care. It needs repeating*

I didn’t reread my previous posts about my addiction, I have tried to avoid the word “we” in this post. All I can do is to speak for myself. I have no way of knowing if any of this applies to anyone else’s life. It is only about my experience. If this does help or give better perspective, that is my intent.

Thanks for reading this far.

Thanks, too, Sweety, Aj, and Z, more than words will ever say, you have my love and gratitude.

‘Differently Normal”

Terry Pratchett coined a phrase, “differently normal”. Has a phrase ever gotten stuck in your mind and resonated? This one did for me. I like the way it works. It changes the way I look at things. *grins*

I was talking to Aj and some of her friends last night. In that crowd, I’m the one that is different. They are all Pagans and I’m the token Christian. My normal and theirs are different.

I have some gay friends. To them, I’m the one who’s normal is different.

Most of my friends are women. Being female is normal for them. *grins* Being male is different.

Aj and Z are differently normal than I am.

I enjoy their differences. Not only do I not want them to be like me, I’d rather have friends that see things and do things differently. Being the “token Christian” in a group of Pagans is fun. They don’t hold my difference against me and I do not hold their’s against them. *editorial, I like teasing and being teased. When you are thick skinned and have a sense of humor about yourself, those folks can give as good as they get. grins*

I don’t care if your normal is loving the same gender or the opposite. Your normal doesn’t have to be the same as mine. It’s what’s normal for you that matters.

That’s kind of what my mind has been rolling around. It’s the idea that I don’t get to impose my normal on you. We are ALL differently normal. Each of us is unique. We have genetic and environmental differences that have shaped our thoughts and actions. That means that there are no carbon copy people. Difference is normal.

You can pick your friends from whatever groups you want. I want mine to be differently normal because similarly normal is boring and un-fun. All I ask is that they have a sense of humor and honor. I think those are the only normal I care that we share.

A Not Too Serious Post

I should write some kind of a post about something serious. I might get there. I might not. I’m just kind of tapping on the screen and hoping something comes out. I’m not sure if it will or not.

If you read these, you’ve gathered that I think about Aj, Z, and my wife all the time. Well, except for the parts where I’m thinking about food, work, or being sarcastic. Yeah, food and sarcastic are hobbies of mine. Anyway, I enjoy thinking about them. They all, for various reasons, give me excuses to smile. I like smiling. None of them are perfect. That includes my cooking, job, or sarcasm. *grins* Their imperfections are part of their attractions. *grins*

My mind kind of races along looking for a stopping spot. I play a mean game of Trivial Pursuit. Some days, I wish it would slow down a bit. I’m either thinking about six things at once or sleeping. That’s why this blog is good for me. It gives me a way to focus. My fingers can’t type as fast as I can think so, I slow down. The other reason the blog is good is because, aside from an occasional post about me, I can do something nice for my friends. They’re both about a thousand miles away…in different directions. *sigh* I wish they lived closer…like just down the block or something.

Okie dokie, my fingers have to quit tapping for a bit. I gotta go to work. I think I’m just going to keep writing this after work and see how it plays out. *grins* I really need a less serious post and this might be it. I mean, really, how many ways are there to keep repeating “love who you want” and “repression is bad” and “who someone loves is no excuse for you to discriminate”?

Most of the people I like and think of as friends are women. I like women better than men. Women have less ego involved in friendship. Women are more honest. A guy will agree with your b.s. A woman won’t. Also, women are smarter than men. I have one personal trait I can’t stand, stupidity. Women are tougher than men and they don’t have to tell you how tough they are. Besides, it might just be a statistical anomaly but, my 3 favorite people happen to be women. Who knows? Anyway, I think about this train of thought quite a bit. I probably over-think it. *grins*

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m a fake. I pretend to not like people. Fact of the matter is, I really do like people. I want to think I’m a grouch. I’m not. *grins* I do gripe about things but, I do it with a smile.

I hope y’all don’t mind this post. I didn’t mention Marriage Equality, Religious Freedom, Equal Rights, drug addiction, or anything else overly serious. Not a bit about Pagans or LBGT issues. I just wrote some light-hearted words. I’ll be serious on a different day. Today, I just feel like being a bit of a goof.

A Random Thoughts Post…

Some thoughts…

The past two posts have been about me. I’ve been humbled by what people have said to me after reading them. I’ve been called “amazing” more than once. *sigh* I don’t want to be amazing. I want to be normal.These are the people I think are amazing. Aj and Z, my wife, people that are “out” in states that have legalized repression, people that stay true to their faith in the face of scorn, Cops and Firemen, EMT’s, Military members, single moms, people with disabilities that rise above them. These are the people I think are amazing.

*****

If you’re a single guy and you know a Lesbian that has ended her relationship. don’t ask her out. She’s single, NOT straight. *editorial, this is for Z* Men can be such boneheads. *sigh*

*****

I’m trying to find a way to say what I mean without starting an argument or sound condescending. My closest friends are women, strong women, yet, I am not a feminist. The women I know don’t need to be “empowered”. They have strength of their own. They have no need for someone to give them anything. They get the respect that they have EARNED. I suppose that’s another of the many reasons I like them so much. They are tough. They’ve been kicked in the teeth and bounced back fighting. They are smart, hard working, caring and cynical. They have their soft sides but, you better not try to take advantage of that, either. If they give you their love, count yourself lucky. Women like that don’t need some guy giving them anything. Those women are why I’m not a “feminist”.

*****

I write these for Aj and Z. When I write, I try to advocate for them because they allow me to. I write out of some sense of wanting to protect my friends. *editorial, it’s a bit of an ironic thought based on the previous bit, hunh?* They knew what I was writing about when I was writing yesterday’s post. They knew how much I was stressing it. Before that post, I’m not sure they knew the details or emotional mess that went on. Still, both of them were protecting me by being here, this side of the screen, while I was writing. It’s what friends do. We take care of each other. Friends like that are why I keep posting for them. They deserve my best because they give me theirs. *editorial, their best is really good, too. grins*

*****

Again, not to sound condescending, I started writing for one Pagan. I still do. She keeps me on track. Having said that, there are more Pagans than I think there are, aren’t there? Before Aj, I didn’t know anyone that had told me that they’re Pagan. Now I know a bunch. Who knew? Christians think we run things. We think that we have more of us than all the rest combined. We don’t. Right? Anyway, that’s all of that thought.

*****

I must be doing something right because the people that I love and admire are amazing and they let me love them. *HUGE SMILE…y’all have a nice night

The Monsters in My Head

This a mug shot from '99 or '98. I looked worse by the end.

This a mug shot from ’99 or ’98. I looked worse by the end.

This is the happiest day of my life...except that it keeps getting better.

This is the happiest day of my life…except that it keeps getting better.

This is me 3 years sober

This is me 3 years sober

I’m going to try to write this post. I’ve started it in my head more times than I can count. It doesn’t have Aj or Z or Sweety in it. They didn’t know me ’till several years after any of these things were over. Having said that, in some ways, I’m still trying to get these things “over”. Part of me wants, very much, not to write this. Another part needs to. I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey, with words, what I’m seeing and feeling behind my eyes. These are my nightmares.

I was not sane. I had times where I came close to sort of normal but, on the whole, I was not. Sometimes were worse than others. It has been about 9 years since I last used meth. I was 42, almost 43, at the time. I started when I was  20. There were brief periods when I could leave it alone and a 3 year period where I was totally clean in my mid 20’s. Those things are facts. It is not an attempt to brag. It is just to lay ground work. The first time I used it, it was I.V. I chased that high for the next 20 years. I never got there.

My mind is full of little flashbacks. Kind of like a movie. I can almost see myself in them…

I have been having a conversation with voices I’m fairly sure are not there. I put a can of Dr Pepper and a box of pizza in a hall. I tell the voices that, if they are real, they should have the pizza and Dr P. I tell them I’ll check in an hour. They were not real. I kept talking to them anyway.

I lived in a place that was Paranoid. I always got paranoid. I knew it was coming and still did dope. I see myself huddled in a hall in someone else’s apt. They had to go out. I couldn’t face leaving. I couldn’t stand to be there alone. I couldn’t bring myself to sit on the couch. I ended up on the floor with my arms wrapped around my knees hiding from everything and nothing. I don’t know how long I was like that. Probably forever, that day. I still used after that.

No one knows it because I didn’t ever tell anyone at the time but, I’m a coward. Wanted to kill myself. Loaded the gun. Never had the courage.

I can see myself, sitting in the dark. My roommate asks if I’m ok. I say no. I do more dope. I’m less ok.

I wish I could share the terror with y’all. I wish I could so that no one would ever use. I wish I could so that I didn’t remember what it feels like.

I would get high and love the start. By the end, I hated myself. I would keep doing it to put off the crash I knew was coming. It came anyway. I would swear that this was the last time. It wasn’t. I hated myself for wanting it and found it anyway.

I wondered how anyone could love me. I knew I was just a pinhead speed freak. Since I didn’t love me, why should anyone  else? I thought my family was just saying what they were supposed to say.

I remember crawling around with a deer rifle peering out the windows. I knew they were out there. The sun came up. They weren’t. I spent nights peeping out the windows, hours and lifetimes doing that. I would tell myself that they weren’t there. That they weren’t coming. I could never quite convince myself. I always fell back into paranoid. Every time.

*****

I was right. I don’t want to write this. There are not enough words or space to get it all out. The greatest insanity is not the first time I used. It is the going back. Being paranoid pales compared to that. I kept using knowing where it would end.

When I finally hit the bottom, I weighed 130 lbs. I’m 6’4″. I stunk. hadn’t bathed in I don’t know how long. I keep telling myself I’m not that person. I believe that. I also believe that person is still in there. I carry his baggage. I try to unpack it. Sometimes I get close. This time of year is the hardest for me. It’s the month leading up to sober. It is when I was at my worst.

****

Part of me wants to run and hide from this post. Part of me still wakes up sweating and terrified. Sometimes I yell in my sleep. It has gotten easier over the years to learn to live with that past…for some values of “easy”.  I would not wish it on anyone. *sigh*

I had/have issues with that past. How do you reconcile the desire to love yourself with “I was a needle using addict”? At what point do the memories fade? I know that, even then, I was worth being loved, even if I didn’t understand it then.

There are not words to say how irrational it was to keep going back to something that could only end in ruin. I knew it would end that way. It did over and over. I’m a smart guy yet, I have proven I have the capacity for totally stupid. I got smarter when it ended decades after it started.

Nothing is adequate to convey the intensity of those moments. Nothing will let you feel how scared I was. Nothing can begin to let you understand paranoid…unless you have been there. I can not express how it is to do something that you want to do and know how it will end. I was NOT sane. This is the part where I should say “drugs are

This is the part where I should say “drugs are bad”. I’m not talking, in this context, about anything except meth or cocaine. I’m not making a value judgement on anything else, meaning alcohol or marijuana. Those are either legal or becoming that. I’m not going down that political road.

*****

Nine years later…Sweety and Aj and Z didn’t know me then. I’ve never really related this to Aj or Z. Sweety knows because I told her before we got married. I have no secrets from my wife.

I survived.

I know the cost of the tiniest slip. If I give those monsters a chance, the least excuse, to come back, they will. I can not use any substance. Yes, I make exceptions for caffeine and nicotine. For me, though, there’s no casual use of anything else. If I’m prescribed medication containing codeine, I use it for only as long as is needed and then flush the remainder. We do not keep alcohol in our house. I don’t even get close to the edge. The price of failure is everything.

I’ve moved forward from that place, most of the time. I am constantly reminded that I am loved. I can look at my wife and see tangible proof of that. Aj and Z have faith and confidence in me. Those three ladies could have anyone they wanted in their worlds, they picked me. Those are realities. I have learned, from them, that if I am worth loving now, I was worth loving then.

I wish I could go back and tell this to past me. I wish I could stop the little boy that lived in a man’s body and hid from shadows. I wish…I can’t. He is my ancestor. Without him, I wouldn’t be me. I still worry even if I don’t run from shadows. I know they weren’t real. I knew that then.

I still worry even if I don’t run from shadows. I know they weren’t real. I knew that then.

*****

Somehow, I wish I could undo this post. I won’t. I wish I could write a post about Religious Freedom or LBGT rights. Not this time. Those posts are easy. All they require is telling people that being prejudiced against someone for their faith or orientation is wrong.

This one requires telling myself that what I think about myself is wrong. It takes looking into my own heart and finding worth where I was convinced none existed. It requires revisiting Hell. *sigh* I know that people have value.

I know that people have value. It’s easy to see it in others. I keep telling myself that I do. I’ve said that I’m learning that. I really am. Sometimes our value is by being an instruction or a lesson because of who we were. Sometimes our value is as a husband or a friend. Sometimes it is as a voice for others. Mostly, it is because we are humans and ALL humans have worth.

*****

If you are reading this and it hits home, I hope you don’t have to go down the path as far as I did. I don’t want you to walk in my shoes. I left a trail of wreckage and destroyed, mine, dreams. I’ll always be able to look at my arm and see the scars of my past. They have faded but, I know they’re there.

Now, life is good. Now, I’m married. Now, I have learned to trust myself. Now, I have the support of some friends.

I do have some baggage from being back there. Some “quirks” that make me feel secure like keeping little stashes of food all over the place, canned or dried I mean. I own a bunch of flashlights. I never run out of cigarettes, lighters, or Dr Pepper.  Just some quirks. I can joke about booze with Z even if I do not bring it into my house.

*****

Editorial, It is my belief that we are responsible for our own actions. I do not buy into the idea that addiction was “not my fault”. I do not believe that it is a disease. I am convinced that it is a choice. It is a conscious set of actions that are entirely within our own control. I do not buy in to the idea that the addiction is in control…with the caveat that there are, in some cases, physical cravings. The substances I abused did not fit that profile. Having said that, if a twelve-step program works for you, don’t let my words put you off of it. They have done good for thousands or millions of people, I really don’t know the number. In my case, I have a support group. When it gets bad, I go to my three Ladies and talk.

I want to make this clear, I AM NOT a victim. I did to me what was done to me. No one forced me. There is no one that has any fault but me. We own our actions. They have consequences either good or bad. I was responsible for who I was. I am responsible for who I am. I am far from perfect. I don’t even pretend to be.

I’ll use this spot to make the point, again, there are things about ourselves that we do not control. We do not control our physical characteristics. We do not control who we love. Yes, I mean being straight or LBGT is NOT a choice.We do control what we think. We do control what we put into our bodies. I was not force-fed drugs. It was my hands on the needle. We have the ability to decide what goes into our mouth and our body. I am not ever going to make an excuse or blame anyone else for that.

Finally, I didn’t write this to glorify my past or myself. It was ugly. I was an unwashed addict. I do not deserve praise for getting sober. That just means I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, not commit felonies, using meth or coke is a felony. In fact, writing this post or this blog really doesn’t deserve praise. This is just doing what’s right. Reaching out to try to help is what members of a society that make a contribution are supposed to do. I took

In fact, writing this post or this blog really doesn’t deserve praise. This is just doing what’s right. Reaching out to try to help is what members of a society that make a contribution are supposed to do. I took away from society for so long, I owe it and you.

*****

Z, Aj, thanks for being there while I wrote this. I needed y’all then. I’m grateful for your support. I know you probably didn’t know, don’t think I told you, about the needles. Please don’t hold that against me. I’m not him anymore.

******

I don’t know if y’all reading this share my faith. For me, I believe this verse

1 Cor 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

My Turn…

I wrote the last post about words. It expanded to Aj and Z. This might end up with them in it. *editorial, they are not hands on and only get some chance to review if I think I might be pushing the boundaries of what Z and I agreed I could say about her but, they are always in my mind when I write* This one is about me.

8 years and 11 months ago today, I didn’t die. I wanted to. My fondest wish was to not wake up. That didn’t happen… I really dislike “professional ex-addicts”. Some people wear it like a badge of honor. I don’t. It IS a part of me, addiction I mean, but, it isn’t who I am. There isn’t a day that goes by that my past doesn’t cross my mind. I guard against it becoming my present and future but, I no longer live in that place, most days.

I can not casually drink. I can not drink, period. That path leads to meth and destruction.

The problem I still have is that I believed the lies. They weren’t the ones I was told by others. They were the ones I told myself. I believed I was unlovable. I believed I was worthless. I believed I deserved what I had done to myself. I became comfortable with them. I no longer believed in Heaven but could find Hell. It lived in me and I was used to it.

That’s the problem with lies. You listen long enough and they sound like truth. The lie was that I couldn’t have my dreams. The truth is different.

The details of 20 odd years of addiction don’t matter. The details of getting sober are a different story for a different time.

I don’t begrudge the past for what it is. It shaped who I am. There are some parts of me that existed then. I was always honest, I mean I wasn’t stealing to support my habits. Lying is a different matter. Addicts lie to everyone, most of all, themselves. I was a hard worker and a good co-worker…when I decided to come to work. I could laugh at myself, still do. I read everything.

I have a ton of “baggage”, though. I’ve been cold and hungry, as a result, we have a freezer full of food and a pantry full of dry goods and canned food. I’ve been stony broke, so, I still don’t like spending money on myself. Doesn’t stop me from being generous, though. I have had my world come crashing down so many times, I keep looking for it to happen again.

It did teach me that there are things in me that I will not put up with, like making excuses. It also gave me perspective. Just because something isn’t right for me doesn’t make it wrong for someone else.* editorial, I’m trying to find a way to say what I mean without using the words “accept”, “allow”, or “tolerate”.  I’ll catch up with this thought later*

If you ever want to see someone that has gratitude for what he has, I’m it. I never expected to be married. I never thought I’d be “ordinary”.  I didn’t think I was worth being loved. Those 3 things were all I ever wanted. Still are. Every time I go to sleep, I thank God for them. That includes naps. I even thank Him when I’m not going to sleep. I am entirely grateful for what I have. Being normal is a gift beyond price to me.

Still, I have my moments. My wife is the reason I don’t relapse. I warned her from the start. *editorial, she didn’t know me during the Bad Old Days* If I have as many as ONE drink, she needs to leave me. Everything else WILL come. I’m not willing to pay that price.

Sometimes Aj has to kick my ass when I start to feel worthless. Yeah, it still happens. Aj is my best friend. She’s not very objective when it comes to me but, she’s on my side and I do listen to her…even whenI don’t want to. That’s what best friends are for.

Z cuts me back down when I joke about “non-alcoholic Tequila”. She drinks, I don’t. She’d drive down here and whup me if she thought I was going to. Z also prays for me, just because she’s Z. I do the same for her for the same reason, because she’s Z.

I’ve written for, and will again, Aj and Z. They are who and what they are because that’s the way they were made.

Faith, in my opinion, is not a choice. It is how someone is wired.

Being gay is NOT a choice. It is the way they are created.

Being an addict, on the other hand, is a repeated set of self-destructive actions. I chose, over and over, to put poison into my body and mind. I repeated that action daily. I told myself that it was fun. Yeah, sure, sleep deprived paranoia is fun. Hangovers are fun. Getting arrested is fun. Spending time in the county jail is fun. Hating yourself is fun. See what I mean about believing the lies?

The truth is, we all have value. Even a broken down addict has qualities worth saving. We can change if we want and the pain of going on the way we are is great enough. I have worth. I’ve learned that. I have proof. I have some people in my world that I love and love me in return. I do like myself. I have my dignity back. I am married to a woman that means more to me than my next breath. I’ve learned kindness, both to myself and others. I no longer judge myself so harshly.

Remember these words “accept”, “allow”, and “tolerate” from up there. Those words don’t apply here. A Pagan and a Lesbian have embraced a broken down and rebuilt ex-addict. They taught me. They still do. It isn’t my place to do any less.

Do you ever wonder, really wonder why I’m so passionate about standing up for Aj and Z. Did it ever cross your mind to ask why I mix LBGT Rights and Religious Freedom? Part of changing the way I see me was because of them. Some of my  learning to trust is that those two Ladies have given me their’s.  I have learned about love and being loved from them, too. I HAVE to stand up for them. They stand beside me. They aren’t given a choice in the way they are made or what’s being done to them. I made my choices and they love me anyway. If someone of the three of us deserves, in fact, has earned, derision, it isn’t them, it’s me. All I did was stop being a criminal and yet, I get praise. That praise is as undeserved as their scorn.

In the last post, I talked about words. I wrote about how we use words to define ourselves and others. Sometimes we need to look at how those words shape our self-image. We need to consider what labels we apply when we look in the mirror. We need to reject the lies we tell ourselves and find the value inside. I learned. I’m still learning. When we do that, we can reach outside ourselves and help others. I’ll never “accept”, “allow”, or “tolerate” Aj and Z. I have too much worth for that. I’ll embrace, love, and rejoice in them being themselves, for the people they are. They do the same for me.

I was an addict. I am no longer that person. Perhaps that guy did die Jan 6, 2006. Now, I’m a husband, friend, and advocate. I am worth being loved. Those words are truth.

If someone, anyone, even yourself, tells you the lie that you have no worth, do not believe them. Don’t allow those words to shape you. Humans have value. If I can believe that, anyone can.

 

Words

I like hammers. A hammer is a straightforward tool. It is, in its most basic form, a rock on a stick. It hits things. That’s it. You really can’t use it for anything else.

Words are not hammers. I LOVE words. They, too, are tools. They have a far different purpose. They communicate all the thoughts, emotions, and dreams of humans. They can be used to share love…and hate. They can be used to influence others in a way that a hammer can not.

I hope these words have had influence. I hope they’ve encouraged and taught. I really wish they never had to be used. That I feel like I need to write them is because of the words of others. I write of love and inclusion because of the words of exclusion and hate that others have written.

Words have given us Winnie the Pooh, The Constitution, and the Bible. Words have said, “I have a dream…” Words said, “will you marry me” and “I do.” Words tell us of our past and help shape our future.Words can inflame and encourage. Words can define us…

****

For all of their uses, there are things words can not do. Words are not a hug. They are not the feeling of a warm summer’s day. They are not the smell and taste of a home cooked meal. Words will never describe the feeling I have, in the middle of the night, when I hear my wife sleeping next to me.

****

Z said she likes it when I write about Aj. The words I use to describe her limit her. It is their function. *exhale* That’s the problem with words.

If you take the words that define, then you can use them, not to include but, to divide. The things I admire and respect about Aj, could also be used by someone else, not to. *editorial, sorry for the next bit, Z* The same could be said of Z. I respect their sarcasm. I respect their individuality. I love their independence. I truly enjoy that Aj is Pagan. I respect Z for coming out and taking the consequences of that. They are both strong willed and tough. Those things might not be traits others would want in friends but, those things are things I seek out. My wife is also the same way. Those Ladies march to the drummer that plays for them and leaves it up to you to decide if you want to go along.

I have said all those things about Aj and Z, yet they do not begin to communicate WHO they are. I have pictures in my mind of them. All the words in the world would not be adequate to communicate what I carry. If I were to be writing for the rest of my life, I would not come close to expressing the whole of my feelings for my wife or who she is. The individuals make the words pale in comparison.

Please, please, do not use words to divide. Do not think that “Christian” is a word that means that a “Pagan” can not be your best friend. Aj is my best friend. Period. Do not think that “Straight” is a word that means you must oppose “Gay”. I will be an advocate for Z as long as she wants me to be. Those words, that others would say should divide the three of us, are meaningless  in the context of humanity. They are just fragments of the individuals.

Humans are not words. Humans are living, breathing, caring and loved. Don’t use words to limit us. Don’t let one word divide us. Don’t let a sentence make us less than we are. Choose your words carefully but, don’t let them blind your heart.

I wish my words were clearer. I wish they were more organized. If I could, I would use better words to persuade and encourage. I’ll keep trying. Perhaps, someday, I’ll find the right words.