drug addiction

…And Now a Word from Our Sponsor

Being me is an odd place for some values of that word. To say that I have “trust issues” puts it mildly. I compartmentalize people. I am willing to share bits of what I think as the situation demands. I can tell people about the events of my past but, not the “internal” stuff that goes along with them. I guard, with a passion bordering on paranoia, my emotions from the chance of hurt. I will readily push away anyone that I think might cause emotional distress, won’t even think twice about it. Poof, gone. I “run like hell” at the first sign of a chance that I might be coming close to allowing more than superficial trust.

*sigh*

It’s part of being me. Not the best part but, something that exists. Sure, I’m capable of affection and care but, not close enough that affection could be something greater.

So, imagine my surprise, and “distress”, lacking a better word, when earlier this week, someone I sort of knew reached out to me and I replied, just expecting them to vent and be done. I’m a good listener and keep secrets. *editorial, if you ask me not to tell something, I NEVER do* So, she asked if she could “rant” to me. I don’t know why she picked me, not sure she does. We have sort of talked. I knew some of her past. I’ve even blogged about some of it, in a guarded way, in the past when I was talking about how women are treated by men. I digress…

Then the unexpected happened, she started telling me stuff that she really doesn’t tell people. I went from random outsider to, “these are the ugly bits, the private bits, the fears, what cha gonna do with them?”…

And I freaked out. Completely out.Buggy. “Danger Will Robinson”. “RUN AWAY!” out.

I started to. run I mean. I went back into “survival mode”. Was in the process of convincing myself that survival was the best plan. That the old instincts that had served me so well, were the best instincts. That trust is “a fool’s game”. I really wanted to run. I didn’t want to allow the off chance that my fears were correct. I wanted to take the empathy I was feeling and get rid of it. I wanted to not allow the tiniest chance that I might be hurt. I wanted to be ENTIRELY selfish…

So, I didn’t do any of that.

I put some demons to bed by deciding, to consciously allow trust. By deciding to skip the middle bits and go straight to *word for the week* *smile thingie* storge. It’s the Greek word that means ” the love that friends feel for each other… Storge love is unconditional, accepts flaws or faults and ultimately drives you to forgive. It’s committed, sacrificial and makes you feel secure, comfortable and safe.”

What the hell? If I’m going to risk trust and hurt, why not risk everything. Remember those parts a few paragraphs ago about “trust issues”? If that’s hard, why not make the hardest step?…

And I freaked out…again…lather rinse repeat…a couple more times…

And, in the mean time, because of what she has shared, I am, with her permission, writing blogs that are solely about her, these two The Worth of a Soul and Redefining a Person thinking to myself, “what a s**t head you are that you would write to serve a purpose and then run away”. I had accepted her trust, shared my demons in return, and I STILL couldn’t decide to run or stay…and I found myself writing this one Feeding the Demons. In the last one, I made a public statement of commitment. Hard to retract that.

*****

It’s part of my own healing process. I was trying to help her because I am a nice guy…and slammed into my own baggage. That’s the odd thing. I may be helping her but, the reaching out that she started made me face my fears. She didn’t do it intentionally. I think that if she had realized the anguish it was going to cause she wouldn’t have. She can be many things but, cruel is not one. There was no intent to cause stress for me in her. My “public face” is confident and sarcastic. I can be a vocal person. I like to talk. I just don’t like to reveal much. *here doesn’t count. typing at a screen is talking to myself*

She uses the word “test”. We are both being tested in this case. Her’s is, will she decide I’m unneeded and leave when my usefulness is over?

Will she find herself thinking I require too much effort when she has no energy to spare? I wouldn’t blame her if she did.

Mine test  is different. It is,  if she does, how will I react? What if she does walk away? What if she doesn’t need my insecurities while dealing with her own “stuff” and does the smart thing, tell me to “eff off”? Will I say, “yeah, I was right, never trust anyone that hasn’t proven themselves”, “don’t become attached to friends because they ALWAYS let you down”? Or will I try again, knowing the risk?

In the end, only time will tell. Ask me in a year how it went. Ask me in 5 how she’s doing. Check back and see if some demons have finally been put to rest. Yeah, I’m still scared that I made a mistake but, I have to take the chance. I have to try to learn. I think that I have found a person that will not fail the test, I just hope that person is me.

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Reflections on Ten Years

This’ll post the day after I made it to ten years clean. I think I’m going to wander through my head and just put down what seems like it matters…

Some days are very easy to stay clean and sober, other’s it’s all I can do to not have “just one” beer.

The nightmares are finally starting to fade.

I’m less worried about being liked by the world at large and far more concerned with the opinions of a few people I love. Related to that, I conserve emotional energy so that I have more for them.

Little things make my day like a tasty bite at work or an easy drive home.

My very favorite hobby is “Doing Nice Things for Sweety”. She is the reason I stay clean. The Bible says “count the cost”. If I relapse, she is the cost. I am unwilling to pay that price.

My second favorite hobby is this blog because it is a gift to myself and some friends that I think of as Treasures. Yeah, the best things in life are the people that allow you to share their lives.

I have different priorities now than I had ten years ago. When I first became sober, I was trying to figure out who I was and how to deal with being sober. Now, I LIKE being sober and *grins* mostly sane. I also don’t think I’ll ever figure it out so, I don’t worry about it.

Interestingly enough, when I got sober, it was in a place that is Conservative Christian. Now, I am much less open minded than I was then. Yeah, “oddly” because although this is a blog that has a lot of posts for LBGT Rights and freedom from persecution for some Pagan friends, there are a lot of things I disapprove of. It just happens that being gay or Pagan aren’t things on the Disapprove List *grins* To clarify, there are a lot of things that are out of bounds…for me…that I am willing to encourage others to do. I can not drink ever again. As an example, that doesn’t mean I don’t tell people to have a beer and have bought them a beer on occasion.

I think I’ve grown up a tiny bit but, some days I still wish I was 4…

On a serious note, I NEED a “support group”. It isn’t a traditional AA type support group but, there are some close friends and my wife that I am able to turn to on the bad days. Yeah, I still have days that are “touch and go”. I can not rely on my own strength to stay sober but, I can long enough to be able to get to someone that will loan me some of theirs. Then I have enough strength.

I’ve learned gratitude. I am entirely grateful for the “bonus years” I’ve been given. I didn’t expect to live this long. I am grateful, too, for the people that populate my life in these years Sweety, Aj, Z, Kelladillo, and the rest of them. I never expected to have people I trust since I didn’t trust myself or anyone else way back then.

Trust is another thing I’ve learned. I am able to trust me and other people. I wasn’t able before. Go figure.

I still have baggage. I keep little stashes of food because I used to not have enough for drugs and food so I chose drugs and stayed hungry. Now, having food is security.

I also keep finding out that I’m far from perfect. I try to be a good husband…and some days I am. Others I take her for granted. People, even the ones I put on the unfair to them pedestal aren’t. Humans have faults. I just have a tendency to ignore their’s.

I have a huge weakness with labels. I want people to fit in nice little boxes. I try to make them fit my construct and world view. *sigh* When I was an addict, I didn’t care as much. Now, I want things to be neat and tidy. It manifests itself when it comes to faith in particular. I do a disservice to a dear friend, Aj, because I try to “Christianize” her when she is not. I have a hard time with that because I have a hard time stepping outside myself. On the other hand, because of those same attempts to put people into boxes, it makes me predisposed to like someone because of one aspect of themselves. Examples being that if I find out someone is Pagan I want to like them or if they are Lesbian, because of Z, I want to like them. Because most of my close friends and all of my “support group” is female, I tend to want to like them and am much more wary of having male friends. *editorial, I do have a couple of male friends but, am not as close to them*

For what it’s worth, being an addict sucked. Hating yourself is not fun. Ever. Letting every hygiene standard and all of your values suffer rots the soul. I can not find any excuse for who I was. I listen to a radio commercial for a treatment center that says “it’s not your fault” and entirely disagree. If it wasn’t my fault, it for d**n sure wasn’t anyone else’s or God’s. If I didn’t do it, who did? I had to learn to own my actions and thoughts. I had to realize that every step I took belonged to me. Now, I realize that even being angry is a conscious process and I control it. I used to make excuses about my life, now I don’t. I either fix it or take the hit, either way, it’s mine.

*****

I thought this was going to be a list of milestones. That’s not how it turned out. Sorry. Fatigue set in. Still, I wanted some words down. I would like to thank my family, my wife, and The Collective Conscience. God gets a bunch of the credit, too. I get very little except for being smart enough to turn to good people.

Dumb Question Time

I’ve written, mostly, about three major themes LBGT Rights, Religious Freedom, and dignity for women. I’ve also written about one minor but, recurring, theme, my past addiction. The question is, in the coming year, what focus? I do not see any major changes coming but, I keep thinking I’ve missed something. NO POLITICS. I try to avoid giving a left/right/libertarian bias so, I’ll avoid that. I write, as a Christian to anyone that will listen either for support or to modify their views. Please respond and I’ll take it under advisement.

The Walls That Harm Us…

I have lived Paranoid. For many years, I used meth. If you have never been awake for a couple of days trying to do enough meth to stay awake for more, you really have no clue how bad that can be. I have been terrified hiding inside my house. All the windows blocked. Jumping at every noise. Afraid that someone will want in. Scared to leave. Crawling around so that you can stay beow the chance of someone seeing in. Peering out through the tiniest crack looking for “Them”…I hid inside the walls, not realizing I created them and not wanting out because outside was Danger…The danger was me…The danger was the Walls…

I like on-line friendships. They still allow distance. My closest friends are on-line. There’s nothing wrong with that. My job forces interaction. I can not hide from it. On the other hand, home is a refuge. It is cool, dark, and quiet. My wife and my life are here…and my friends. People do not physically visit and that’s fine. *editorial, our house is small and there’s not much sitting room. That’s why*

I am no longer Paranoid. It’s been almost ten years since I last used. I can not imagine going back. The cost would be far too high. The price would be everything…

Anyway, the Walls…My best friend is Pagan. I am not. During the time we were starting to develop the mutual respect that led to realizing we were best friends, I had no idea she was Pagan. My world view, after I became sober, was concentrated around Conservative Christianity, and all its baggage…The day I found out, all that baggage came to roost. All the fears of Divination, Sorcery, and visions of Hell came home. I was hit with a HUGE problem. I thought I knew Aj. I knew she was “saved” because I knew her honor, honesty, character, and love. I was given a choice, tear down the Walls my learning had built or consign her to Hell and, by doing that, reject her. Like I say, present tense, “my best friend IS Pagan”. Those Walls that I thought protected me would have walled her out. They would have cost me someone that constantly if a bit testily *grins*, wants the best for my wife and me. I would have rejected one of the people that I, now, love as much as any of my blood family. That “protection” would have harmed me…and, I think, her since she would have lost the love and prayers I send to her. *editorial, my prayers are NOT for her to change but for my God to watch over and protect her*

The Walls…we think they protect us. We think that by excluding people we make ourselves safe. Nothing could be more untrue. Hiding below the windows denies the World. It only lets us see our fears. It creates Paranoid. The only things inside the Walls with us are our own Monsters.

It isn’t the outside we have to fear. It’s the inside. It’s the loneliness and xenophobia that says, “different is wrong” not realizing that EVERYONE is different…

*****

For what it’s worth and to clarify, Aj’s beliefs do not include the concept of “Christian Hell”. Mine do. Either was, I do not think that her soul is going there. I’m not a “universalist” by any reach. I just don’t think that Hell applies to people not of my faith. I believe that God is big enough and powerful enough to have made a place for all His Creations…for that matter *grins* Aj would even dispute that part of my beliefs because she believes differently…*grins again*…

Because Aj and Z…

Aj reminded me of something I had forgotten. She reminded me why I really started writing this blog. I’m no one’s idea of “open minded”. I have a whole handful of dislikes and narrow-minded “conservative” attitudes. It’s just that there are some things that have fallen off of the list…

Anyway…the reason I started was because I am narrow-minded and Christian and a straight, white, married, male, Texan. I am strongly distrustful of “agendas”…ANY agendas. I firmly believe that not thinking for yourself and blindly following Dogma should be a crime. I have very fixed opinions of “proper”. I am a bit of a prude. So, if I write for Religious Freedom, meaning not judging someone based on their faith, or LBGT Rights it is because I think that they are, after careful consideration, worth speaking for.

Honestly, I didn’t used to care. It didn’t make that much difference how “those people” were treated. Not the tiniest of cares what happened to a “cult”, the way I used to think of Paganism, or a “lifestyle”, the way I used to think of being gay. Why should I care? Didn’t affect me.

Things changed. Aj and Z changed them. Funny how that worked. I didn’t know Aj is Pagan. I didn’t know Z is gay. Became friends without knowing. It’s not like they said, “hi Miller, I’m (insert name here) and I’m (fill in the blank)”. It took me being a smarta$$ and them responding for me to find out. By then it was too late. Hard to call a friend a “them” or a “those people”.

***Interlude***

A funny thing happened on the way to work today. Yeah, it was really funny for several reasons. I called Aj. In the middle of the conversation, it turned into a double entendre about her “friend with benefits” wanting to get her top off…her Jeep…and her. Laughing about it I was encouraging both. Laughing harder, so was she. Then it struck me, not so many years ago, less than 5, I would not have been able to have that conversation. I would have been far too embarrassed to be able to have it. I would have stammered an exit. Today, I was a cheerleader for her.

I’ve changed. Conversations I could not have had are now comfortable. Not with everyone but, with people I am relaxed around. Discussions I could not have had with anyone. Laughing with a woman about her getting laid.

It’s a realization I’ve come to, I don’t have to apply the rules I use on myself to others. Being Pagan is not right for me. It fits Aj. Being gay is not right for me. It is for Z. How do I think I have the right to inflict my personal rules on another adult? My eyes have been opened. I watched it happen. I actively participated in the opening. I WANT to love Aj and Z exactly the way they are. I don’t want them to change. I want me to encourage them. So, I do.

*****

Like I said right back there, being Pagan or gay isn’t a fit for me. However, I know Aj and Z and, knowing them, I find it hard to be as “black and white” as I used to be. I have a hard time convincing myself that I am infallible. I can not bring myself to condemn them for being themselves. In fact, I refuse to condemn someone I love for being their individual selves…

Back to where I was waaay up there, the reasons I write for them. I love those Ladies. Part of loving them is that I do have a voice. I have two choices. I may remain silent and by doing that condone the condemnation and scorn of a society that has slight regard for the parts of them it considers unconventional, or I may speak for them. There is no third option.

To remain silent is to fail in fulfilling the phrase “I love you”. It makes me a party to their repression. It fails to encourage them. It makes a lie of the word “love”. A private statement without a willingness to say and act on it publicly is hollow.

So, the other choice, to speak. That is easier and harder. I have had to learn what the people that are not for them think. I’ve had to see the obstacles they face. I’ve had to see the slanders and slurs and dangers my loved ones face. There is not one single part of that I enjoy. I am “protective” of them. It is another fact of this blog that some posts use the things they face as examples. Having to type those things about the people I love, even to point out the fallacy, is something I would avoid. It feels like I am saying those things about them. If I could, and I can not, I would shelter them from those.

The “easier” parts of speaking out are basic. I LOVE them. By speaking, I get to say that over and over. I get to talk about people I am proud of. I get to express my warmth for them. I get to show the world their courage and kindness. I get to say how lucky I am that they love me in return. I get to spend time doing some good things for dear friends.

*****

Something I also left out about myself. I am a Meth Survivor. I know that has left it’s marks on my psyche. I use Jan 6, 2006 as my “birthday”. That means, to me, I am an emotional youth. I am learning my way around…still…through the parts of my mind that were left to not grow. The scars that remain give me reasons to question my own sanity. I spent a bunch, 20ish, years living as an emotional hermit. I have a tendency to spend far too much time worrying about what someone, read my wife, Aj, and Z, think, never considering that they just don’t stress it. It leaves a propensity to be concerned with minor difficulties giving them far too much weight. I know all those things and, yet, I can not seem to stop.

They know all those things about me. I do try to pretend to argue with them because I argue and get defensive but, I know they are right when they tell me I am wrong. They are my support. They pray for me or light candles. They listen when I have rough nights and nightmares. They don’t push me away when my emotional confusion and overthinking get the best of me. They don’t question my sanity…even when I do.

So, you see, the people that others fear, embrace me and protect me. They are the place that does not judge me even though I judge myself. I feel like I come up wanting in comparison…and they tell me I’m wrong. Odd thing, my heroes tell me they look up to me. They do not allow me to wallow in inferiority. They are quick to correct me when I even try.

My harshest critic is me. My biggest fans are them. Seems fair since I am theirs.

*****

I know some would disagree but, I believe we have a soul. I believe we were born with a purpose. I do not think this is some kind of cosmic accident. I further believe that people are put in our lives for a reason. I think that some of those reasons are to build up the people we are given. Again, for the who knows how many times, I love these Ladies. Allowing them to be looked upon with scorn or disregard does not build them up. Not speaking IS tearing them down. That is not good enough. Speaking for them is merely fulfilling part of the reason I exist.

This is a blog about Aj and Z, Religious Freedom and LBGT Rights. I can not write about who I do not know. I know and love them, so, it is specific to them. They are my way of putting a face on things. They are my way of saying that it is not about MY morality…or yours. They have their lives and loves. They are people I can not imagine my life without. The fact that they exist, even when we do not speak, reassures me that some humans are Treasures. They are not “them”. They are Aj and Z.

Religious Freedom and LBGT Rights go hand in hand. They are about giving room for difference. They are about humans that have different ways of living than me…and not forcing them to conform to my path. My path is the correct path…for me and no one else. The way I got here is my own way as theirs belong to them…and yours to you. When we say we have the ONLY “right” way, we limit humans. We say that they can not be what they were created to be. We say that we have possession of them and that we have the right to dictate their lives. That we know better. That we are God. I am a frail and imperfect being. I am not God. I do not have all knowledge and an unshakable lock on morality.

So, why do I write? Because I can. Because I should. Because honor. Because, most importantly, Aj and Z.

Some Boxes in the Attic

I’m gonna clean out the attic. There are some boxes up there that need to be poked into. Maybe there are treasures, maybe junk. Let’s see which and we can both decide…

*****

I was thinking about something I said and Z called me on. I used the phrase “predisposed to like girls that like girls”. It sounds like, in retrospect that my preference is for Lesbian friends or female friends. Z even pointed that out. It bugged me and stuck in my head. I have a tendency to waaaaaay over think things. It is possible that it is the truth, even if its not a conscious thought. I really didn’t set out to have my closest friends be women. It has struck me as odd that it worked out that way. Who knows? I mean, it isn’t part of some interview process. “Would you like to become someone I talk to and some years down the road trust? Oh yeah, are you a Lesbian?”

I don’t love Z because she’s a “girl that likes girls”. I love her because she’s Z. We don’t need a list of things that make her who she is, I would still miss stuff. It’s enough to say that she, as a person, is a Treasure. I’m not gonna think it any further through than that. I will give it this, though, if she weren’t gay, this blog wouldn’t exist in the form that it does. I HAVE to have a person to write for and about. It’s part of me. I am good with specific people, not so much a “demographic”. The numbers are just too big…

*****

Yesterday, I wrote about my addiction and it sounded like I was down on myself or putting down what I’ve done. I’m really not. Like I told someone, some days are almost easy, some are hard as Hell. It’s been almost ten years and it isn’t a walk in the park. I still have nightmares. I wake up yelling…like last night. My wife is patient, she just wakes me up and then goes back to sleep.

Anyway, not to make light of things, I’m a Meth Survivor. I know that’s a rare thing. I know I have a bunch of baggage, read “boxes in the attic”. I merely have this perspective, pardon me quoting something I said to someone else, “What I beat was done BY me. What y’all beat was done TO you. Just as you think I overcame something seemingly insurmountable, from here, it seems the same to me about you. I can not imagine how hard it was. Y’all are my heroes, too.” Does that make sense? I made my bed. I wasn’t an addict when I was born. I had a chance to stop every time I started…and didn’t. I suppose that’s why I don’t think it’s that big a deal. That and I really don’t know how to handle compliments or praise. I just don’t have the tools…

Back to my point, though. My past shaped my now. Expecting nothing from life has taught gratitude. Not being able to trust anyone has given me an appreciation for the people I trust…and a fear of trust because my mind still expects betrayal. Knowing what it’s like to beat something that usually wins means I tend to root for the underdog. Not loving myself means I am scared of it, love, now but…I am enjoying the learning process, even if it confuses and scares me. For what it’s worth, I have some people that are teaching me and I don’t know quite how to take that. I always expect conditions even while not imposing them on others. *editorial, my mind is an oddly shaped place*…

One last before this goes away. I got a second chance. I grabbed it and ran. I was given a gift beyond price. I was given Life. I will always appreciate that. If you are given a gift like that, never turn it down.

*****

I think I want to revisit the “Z thing” again… I didn’t really set out to spend as much time writing about LBGT Rights as I have. I was going to write about Religious Freedom, random stuff, Drug Addiction, love and, yeah, LBGT Rights. It just kind of turned out that The Muse needs a voice. We, she and I, use her as the example and the inspiration for these words. *editorial, “use” is not a word I like, in the future I’m gonna say “share” because she’s not a tool to be used. She’s a human* My point being, LBGT Rights have covered all the rest. If we learn that Humans deserve respect, then we learn to respect their values, even if we don’t do things the same way. When we see Z, not as a part of a group but, as the Treasure she is, then we may learn to see other people in the same way. She’s not an (insert pejorative). She’s one of the very most valuable people in my world. She’s a Treasure and a Lady. Period. She’s a cherished part of her family. She is a space in my heart that I didn’t know existed ’till she filled it.

Thing is, everyone someone denigrates is a Z to someone else. No matter what you might think of them, when you put down that person, you are deciding that you have the right to assign and diminish value. You do not. I don’t care what your reason is. Just because someone doesn’t fit what you want takes nothing away from them, it just makes you blind and it makes you smaller…

I honestly don’t care what you do with your treasures. I’m proud of mine. I’m proud of her courage and willingness to let me share her with the World.

*****

Different box…I use the word Lady with a capital because I use it as if it were a title. Same with the word Treasure…or any other random use of caps. It’s a part of me and them…*grins* I didn’t assign the titles, they earned them.

*****

It seems there are lots of boxes today…

I admit this is a bit hypocritical but, meaning I’m going ahead anyway, why are people so concerned with what other people do? Why such great concern with someone else’s life? Why not worry about your own? Yeah, I ask those while trying to persuade people to change. My point being, if you are a something and someone else is a different something, why does that make you want them to be the same something as you? Why not just treat them as a person and go on? Wouldn’t it be simpler? Maybe a tad less stressful? A whole lot less complicated than saying, “you don’t fit my box so I gotta tear down your box and rebuild it before we can interact”? It seems that way to me. I like having different perspectives in my life…even if I disagree with some. *grins* Maybe I missed something. Maybe people like their tiny boxes and feel safer in them. I like exploring my big box. It’s got a bunch of interesting stuff in it…

*****

Sometimes I wonder…other times I’m sure…I digress…*grins* I think the whole of what was stashed in the boxes was an attempt to get us, you and me, to lighten up. Life is short and can be difficult. There are principals to stand on. Loyalty, trust, honesty, and love come to mind. Why complicate things by being concerned with the details of someone else’s life when we have enough in our own that could use a bit of polish?

*****

*grins* The Muse is fishing. The Surrogate Muse is doing whatever Surrogate Muses do when they’re not around to surrogate. *grins again* So, they left me alone to see what was in some boxes…Look, I found my old blankie…Y’all have a good day. Maybe some of this made some sense? *sweeps dust off of the floor and wanders off…*

 

I Was an Addict, So Don’t Praise Me…

I love being married. I suppose I appreciate it more because I never expected it. I was long past the point where I ever expected to find someone that would want to marry me. I always thought I was “damaged goods”…

It’s funny, very much NOT ha ha, that people fight against who they are. We believe that we are trapped in a place and unable to bend or change. I was convinced I’d go to my grave an addict. I hated myself and decided God had abandoned me so, I’d abandon him. I had a warped view that allowed Hell to exist and not Heaven. I could pin down a locality for Hell, just look inside my clothes. It was wandering around in there…

I do not equate what I went through with what some friends did. I struggled against my own perception of who I was. I fought against a view that I was trapped in a pattern of MY OWN making. It is truly not the same as knowing who you are and being told by “society” that you can not be that. Addicts are islands. We remove ourselves from the world. We live in isolation out of shame and self-loathing that WE OURSELVES have created. We think the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves are the truth. We justify a continued series of criminal acts with “I can’t help myself…” We fool ourselves into thoughts that no one knows when everyone does. When we finally realize we aren’t trapped and do change, hopefully before it’s too late, we are praised…

Honestly, I don’t think that praise is earned. Why should I be praised for not slowly killing myself and poisoning everyone around me with my toxicity? What kudos for not being a criminal have I earned? If you want to praise me for doing a good job at work, fine. If I do a good job at cooking a meal and you enjoyed it, I’ll take that. Just DO NOT tell me how great I am for being an ex-addict. I shouldn’t have been one to begin with, I knew better. I am a nice guy. I am a loyal friend. I do my d**nedest to be a good husband. Those, too, do not deserve praise, they’re what I’m supposed to do…

Society also forces roles. It tells a fraction of the population that they have to be what the other 90 odd percent think they should be. Sometimes people become trapped in that spot, too. They try to conform and be what’s expected of them. Sometimes, they break free. I have a few friends that did that. I am prouder of them than I am of myself. I fought me. They fought everyone and themselves and they won. I didn’t know them when they were someone else, I only know them as the persons they are now. I love those people. That they don’t judge me based on who I was is a gift I gladly take. That they don’t hold against me that I spent more time as a criminal, yeah addicts are criminals and ex-addicts aren’t, than I haven’t is a blessing that I am grateful for.

Why do we think it’s our “right” to judge? *Yeah, skip the “criminal” part of what comes next. We can agree that crimes need and deserve to be prosecuted.* Why do we think we should be able to tell someone “you have to be what I want you to be?” Our individual lives are the only things that we will ever own, as fleeting as they may be. Possessions may be lost or stolen. Why then do we think we have a reason to steal someone’s “self” as if we own them? What reason to impose our view of what context for some life that is not our own. What reason to demean or degrade a human that has not earned our scorn?

I get that people do not understand any other human. I barely understand myself. I get that people want to think that some things are “choice” and are not. I get that we tend to impose what we think on someone without having the tiniest clue if it’s actually the truth. We assume that some people have the ability to change…not realizing they did. They changed from living a lie to living the truth. We tell them that their truth is of no value or “against my religion” as an excuse to deny them the right to be themselves *sigh* while demanding the recognize our same self-demanded rights…

I may be any number of things. What I am not is someone else. Who I happen to love is my wife. She’s the center of my world. No one ever told me I couldn’t marry her. No one ever told me that my love for her was worthless. Who someone decides they want to spend their life with is not for another human to judge except for the person they offer their love to. It is SOLELY for that person to accept or reject. It is a gift that is the greatest offering one human can give another. So, why then, do some persons think it’s their right to judge that? What possible personal reason to impose a third view where only two are important?

Does any of this make sense?

Agree or disagree with Obergefell or not. It no longer matters. What’s left is looking inside ourselves and finding a way…We, individuals, may celebrate a victory for our friends. Some of you may call it a defeat for morality. Either way, it is the law. It doesn’t matter what our, outsider, views are. How someone else views a relationship is no longer a reason to disallow it. What finally matters is what the individuals inside of it think.

*sigh*

Like I said up there, I am proud of my friends. I survived me. They survived everyone else. Letting them live their lives with the same peace and lack of judgment that I’m given is not too much to ask. So, please, look at the individuals and base your view on their individual lives and not some preconceived notion? Please, they’ve earned that much…What we should be doing is rejoicing with them that they’ve found love in the first place.

 

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.

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.