addictions

blood like lemonade

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“There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.”Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss

Once upon a time there was a group of merchants who wanted to go to the sea. A guide was required. They set out in quest of such a man. After finding such a man, they started the trip and saw a temple when they reached a land of wilderness. A man had to be immolated to cross it.

After consultation, the group of merchants said that they could not choose anyone in the company to be killed, for they were all related. The only one fit to be sacrificed was the guide. So they killed him. After performing the rites, they soon lost their way and knew not which direction to go. They then died one after another.

So are the people in general.

Those who seek to fish for treasure in the sea of Dharma should keep the commandments of doing good deeds as their guide. If they break them, they will end their lives in the wilderness and can never be rescued. Furthermore, they will have to go through the Three Evil Paths of Transmigration and suffer forever and ever.

Such men are just like the group of merchants who killed the guide and died in a body as a result….Buddhist Fable.

image credit- peter stein’s faust at marathon theatre
“If one good deed in all my life I did, 
I do repent it from my very soul.” 
William Shakespeare

today’s post is full of allegory. after the recent passing of a friend. i have come to a sort of secret compartment in my life. i was talking about how strange it was to have known someone on both a professional (counselor to client) level and as a fellow community member and volunteer. this caused me to pause for a while and consider the hidden cost of being an addictions counselor working with lgbt persons with addictions (who may or may not be hiv positive).
it is a complete recurrence that gay men (hiv + and hiv -) will appear when they need support and then disappear when they no longer feel the need for support (for a variety of reasons). as a professional there is an ongoing and undisclosed cost of knowing and caring for a person and then having them leave your life just as quickly as they appeared. and my experience is that when the “gay” factor, and the “hiv +” factor are combined, i have found that the boundaries have been a bit less distinctive. i might have cared a little more, or offered a little more support. and of course the disappearance of these folks from my practice has consistently left a deeper impression. but after they leave the treatment cocoon, they enter back into the community arena along with me and the rest of our world. because these individuals and i have engaged in a therapeutic relationship, returning to a friendly relationship is strained at best. i know more about them than they probably would like to admit. they have shared secrets with me. if they did not complete, nor were successful with treatment, then this usually means they won’t want to see me in person, nor see themselves in my eyes. this is perfectly understandable- almost expected. but it does have a price tag- especially in a smaller community. it is not a deal breaker at all. it is simply that i haven’t really looked at my own real needs in all this.
until this week, i have not looked at my own feelings about this whole brief therapy process. with bryan’s passing, i now understand that it has had a price. i have assumed that my skills as a practitioner are lacking at times. i have felt that i am too blunt for people too early. i have even felt that i am too old at times and out of touch with current lgbt culture.

“I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975. I remember the precise moment, crouching behind a crumbling mud wall, peeking into the alley near the frozen creek. That was a long time ago, but it’s wrong what they say about the past, I’ve learned, about how you can bury it. Because the past claws its way out. Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years.”
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

although all of these are probable and appropriate, i have never considered that i might need some support around the loss this process brings. i now know that i have just hunkered down, trudged forward, cut my losses and tucked those feelings without processing or examining them with any concern. i don’t regret this after realizing this, but i do want to make some changes from here forward. and because of my childhood history of relationship and loss, i have had auto-responses of shutting down when i have become saddened. i have let go of friends because i honestly haven’t figured out yet how to do anything else quite yet.
to be less vague, i now understand that i have a primal feeling that i am not okay, so i assume that these losses are the price i am required to pay for being me-(conversely, there are many benefits to being me as well so i don’t think this as simply dark and morose).
since my work has recently shifted away from cultural specific clients, i have gained some distance and some perspective on all this. this reminds me yet again that situations and experiences in our lives shape, form, and mold who we are. and all the relationships, fabulous jobs, exciting or relaxing vacations, spas, makeovers, workouts, and new clothes in the world won’t really make me any different. i am required to do the work, look at my life and my part in it, feel my feelings, accept them, understand them, and make room for change if needed. and change is probably needed in this case.
i am posting from a quiet place of gratitude today. i hope your holiday brings even a small portion of the grace i feel today. happy thanksgiving.

mercury in retrograde

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image credit- stephen beckly


MERCURY RETROGRADE: The purpose of Mercury retrograde is to review and revise our life and our connection with reality. The timing of this universe is geared toward the Sun as it moves through the zodiac. Mercury has an orbit that at times gets ahead of the Sun allowing us to look into the future toward new and innovative ideas. However, we cannot continue in that vein until we come back to the present designated by the Sun and put our new ideas into manifestation. During the time that Mercury jumps ahead, we ultimately have to bring the ideas back into the present to test and evaluate to see how they fit into our life. As Mercury retrogrades back into the present, the connection with the Sun happens as we test drive our ideas and re-align with reality and the natural timing of the universe.
Mercury itself rules how we think, we will be adjusting everything related to thoughts, concepts, ideas, and communication, especially how technology and material elements play a part in the physical manifestation of ideas. When Mercury retrogrades, we find that many parts of our life are being revised. Often these revisions can be a surprise or throw us back a step. However, these revisions which occur during a Mercury retrograde, are a “course correction” and provide a stop gap measure until we can review situations. During this time of revision, change is compounded and confusion is created by our reactions to the ever-changing situations. Thus anything started during this time will ultimately be taken back or even revised further, making for a high-frustration time. This will be especially true with changing our minds, reviewing new ideas and our communication being improved and honed so not to be misunderstood…. read the rest of this post at alphalife

in 2011, mercury went into retrograde just about august 3rd and will start its arc back around august 26th. the technical insanity of my weekend would attest to the inside out quality of this phase. so many things seemed to cease operating and i found myself drifting into a communication void. it was frustrating, humbling, and overwhelming. nothing but surrender led me to peace. now 3 days later, my life is once again connected and at peace, but the nightmare that was this weekend left an imprint. 

i have so many very big changes in front of me and i am completely leery of making a decision during this retrograde period. i am often so fueled by impulse and do not think out my moves. this is precisely one strong explanation for the financial predicament i find myself. i have been told that fear of economic issues will fade once sober, but i believe i have to grow up emotionally before that will happen. and i hope that is what i am doing. 

i have started working with the hep-c+ patients at our clinic. now the intakes are being testes for most sti’s and i will be delivering the test results. surprisingly most have remained sti-free through all their marauding. but every now and then, as in today, there is a person who has no idea that they have been exposed to something and need to consider taking care of themselves in a new way. the woman i informed today teared up as we talked. it didn’t seem as if she were devastated, but perhaps more that this was one more trauma or burden that she found herself having to bear at this point in her life. i am scheduling follow-ups with all the positives in 1 month and then 1 month later. it is my experience that a person’s brain goes numb when they are told, and are unable to take much of anything else in. a month should give that numbness a chance to subside. 

i continue to wait to hear about my transfer at work. it always seems to be such a long wait for these transfers to happen for me. waiting is not my strong suit. and yet i have been doing it for at least a season every year for the past 3. there must be deeper lessons here. 

i read about this remix at andy towle’s site. it’s a remix of poly styrene’s “ghoulish”  with hercules and the love affair. it’s etheral and i  really kinda like it.

 Poly Styrene ‘Ghoulish’ (Hercules & Love Affair Remix) by Poly Styrene 

so long so long

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image credit… nick knight

i first met laura when i was doing advocacy for a small community based organization in aurora named “itav”. laura was a sex worker and smoking a lot of crack. i drove over to her boyfriend’s apartment in west denver and brought her to the agency so she could go to a women’s group, get something to eat, and get away from her life for a minute. i remember very well the conversations we had in the car on the ride to and from.

fast forward to 2 years ago when i ran into her again. she had now become the house manager for a program for plwa’s in athmar park. she had slowed way down on the crack use and had gotten into medical care-even consistently taking haart medication. she was much more grounded and again we talked often and repeatedly about the direction of her life. she was with her boyfriend who was intermittently quite abusive. it appeared he had a mental health issue and refused to take medication reliably. when he would drink alcohol or use cocaine, his mean streak would especially arise and her physical injury rate would escalate.

shortly after i ran into her again, the two of them had a volatile altercation and he picked up a tv and threw it at her, breaking her leg and some of her spirit at the same time. because of her position at the housing program, a police report was filed and chargers were drawn. he ended up spending about 10 months in jail being released sometime late last fall. 

naturally, what followed were conversations around self-care and responsibility to the residents under her watch. she started to smoke crack more frequently, smoke pot more frequently, and engage in some other odd behaviors. but she was able to reel in it for the most part. many of the residents that she looked after had their own serious life issues going on and i will never really know if she was able to truly present for them because of her own internal drama. but certainly this is how it is with almost everyone. i somehow always felt that she was lost in a current that taking her somewhere quite a distance from here. but i also understood that she was doing much better than when i first met her, so harm reduction rules the day.

this morning i heard the first report of a small tragic story unfolding in the small neighborhood that she lived and worked. as the day unfolded, it became somewhat clearer that there was just a continuation of this same story. i have been both saddened and numbed most of the day. i wish i could have done more.

the following is from the local paper..

Police are investigating after a woman was killed last night at group living facility in the 2400 block of W. Wesley Avenue in Denver.
Denver Police spokesman Sonny Jackson said officers called to the scene at 2:20 this morning found a woman dead of knife or stab wounds. Her identity was not released.
Neighbor Anita Rich said that around 2 a.m. a man who she knows only as Carlos came pounding on her door and screaming.
“He was saying, ‘…she’s dead, she’s not waking up,'” Rich recalled this morning. She said Carlos, who lives in the group home, was in a panic.
They went across the street to the single-story group living home, while Carlos called 911, Rich said.
“She was laying in the hall,” Rich said. “There was blood everywhere.”
Rich knew the woman only by her first name.
Rich took the phone from Carlos so she could talk to the paramedics.
“What do I do? How can I help her?” Rich said she remembers thinking.
Paramedics told her to put on gloves before doing anything, which she did.
Rich said she checked for a pulse and found one. She didn’t see any visible wounds, but said there was a lot of blood.
Emergency workers showed up a short time later and took over from Rich.
The coroner’s office and crime scene investigators were on the scene this morning.
Jackson said a suspect has not been identfied.

 written by kieran nicholson and reprinted from www.thedenverpost.com

dancing

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A dance of shame was something that seemed an integral part of his being. He learned very early on that he couldn’t trust people-especially guys. And that was always the real irony of his life. He couldn’t resist flirting with boys, being with boys, sexing with boys, and he was always reassured that boys wouldn’t reciprocate and they would betray somehow. And if that wasn’t the case, somehow he would twist himself into a position that the guys who didn’t fit his mold, would have no choice but to help him play out his self-deprecating scenario.

When he was in the 5th grade, he started having sex with older boys. They were mostly in high school and willingly messed around. They would also talk about him and make fun of him when they weren’t too busy using him for other things. He knew this to be his truth and he carried this with him as he moved forward. And he was always moving and always ready to move again.

He had lived with shame for as long as he could remember. And he was sure he couldn’t remember anything prior to that because it was too terrifying to want to recall. It felt normal for him to be the object of someone’s derision. And looking back, it  seems he played the each session of his life with this template of shame.

He found that being high relieved a lot of the pressure of his life’s ballet and so he was high often.  This practice also led him through some labyrinths that emptied out onto the same familiar place. And a pounding head and a dehydrated soul simply underlined and set in bold the shame which shadowed his every move.

He met a boy in 1977 and sort of fell in love. The guy was a bartender named Peter who worked in a place called Cheeks. He was a go-go boy in that same place and worked the early shift. He and Peter partied together at first and then they shifted to playing house and playing racquetball when the closed the bar at 4am. They moved in together and shared an apartment with 2 nurses named Liz and Maryann. The couple of years that he and Peter were together seemed very happy times. Glimpses of a future were designed and the drumbeats of his past kept getting fainter.

Peter had worked at a restaurant and then gone out with some guys for a birthday celebration after the shift and he stayed home. He was headed out to buy cigarettes very late at night.  As he headed back to his apartment, he noticed a car parked on his street with two lovers in it. It seemed quite sweet and romantic until he realized that the sweater that one lover was wearing was the very same sweater that Peter had worn that night. He felt capsized by this surprise. He walked around to the driver’s side and knocked on the window. The culprit looked up and our hero wished the driver a happy birthday.

The very common nature of this episode only echoed the thoughts once buried In his head. He was now sure that it would never be any different for him. And what followed was his determined, directed and very decadent dancing with himself. It was symphonic. Completely shameful and completely without care, he silently vowed to not open his heart again. Dancing would be enough.

move this

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It was unbearable. He had lost himself so often that  last year in chicago that he felt spun.  Disconnected, suicidal, and wretched were the accessories he pinned over his heart. There had so many lost hours, so many broken promises, to himself and his friends. And his table was set with so much sadness that empty would have seemed a banquet in comparison.

He was packing up a U-Haul full of his belongings in the middle of the night. He was at his wits end and felt like he was running out of options. He had been slipping further and further beyond the lines he swore he would never cross. He had been running in quicksand for a couple of years that seemed like lifetimes.

The death of a mentor and friend, the loss of innocence, the confrontation with morbidity and with his own moral frailty pummeled him with the power of a tsunami and what remained as the tide receded was stuffed into that 12 foot moving van headed for the West Coast. Even though he didn’t know what lie ahead, it had to be better than the hell-hole he had fallen into. He had been having an ongoing midnight ménage-a-trois with cocaine and vodka so often that it had become almost impossible to tell the three of them apart.

There had been so many nightmares that swam past him during that storm in his life. Ghouls and goblins and shadows and monsters were all very integral pieces to this shattered puzzle he had become.  He was headed west with no plan other than get the hell away. He had remembered a conversation with his friend Freddie about the onslaught of the virus. As their friends and neighbors slipped into oblivion around them, Freddie had said that the only people he knew that were surviving were the ones that left the city.  Freddie’s words might have germinated this escape plan that was hatching.

However it came to be, here he was, standing in the driveway, piling the last of his belongings into the truck when his landlord slipped up behind him and asked if he was going somewhere. When the driver and his bestie rented the place, they had planned on living in that spectacular wicker park brownstone for as long as they could. It had never occurred to them, or their landlords, that one of these young men would fade so early and the other would be so tragically torn between following his friend and changing the odds.  He certainly hadn’t wanted to talk with the landlord, but here he was, with terror in his eyes, relaying his plans and assuring that the new tenant would make things good. And the new tenant did.

Our hero remembered standing in almost the spot a year prior when he and his friend were moving into this gem of a place. Paul had been feeling oogie and looked beat.   At one point he sat on the rear gate of that U-Haul and tried to catch his breath. He actually never did catch it that day. He went into the hospital and didn’t leave for 34 days. That was how. PCP, thrush, AIDS, Kaposi’s, and candida all became members of their family.  Unspoken terror and uncertainty unpacked their suitcases and took up residence, too.

Once Paul died, he unraveled fairly quickly. He struggled with having dreams when his friend could not. He felt survivor guilt even though he hadn’t a clue as to its meaning. Sometimes the only option is to run. It may not make any sense. It may not even work out, but it is the only breaker in the box that hasn’t been pulled. The power is out and something drastic is required.  The only glimmer of hope for his scratched up viewfinder was this U-Haul and the change it was meant to create.

wheel of fortune

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well it has certainly been a full week of bruhaha. the wisconsin governor and his blatant attempt to raid the ark, the call to impeach obama over the defense of marriage act, and the images of a very sallow charlie sheen spouting insanity from his hollow-rehab pulpit. sometimes the absurdity of life in sobriety seems more muddled than those drug-infused days gone by. but then there is the blessing of a sober perspective.

after mr. sheen’s interviews, it has become increasingly clearer that he is not simply full of himself and lying through his teeth. in my estimation, this is a thin veneer masking a much more serious illness. his ego is so entwined with some chemical changes that have happened in his brain, that he is driven by some f**ked up impulses and not operating on any logic at all. watching his carcinogenic diatribe was surely like witnessing an execution of a relative through the silence of bullet-proof glass.

what gets lost with all the pundits spouting there sharp criticisms, is that what i really witnessed was the howling of a wild animal in pain. this man has an illness. yes, it sparks really shitty and very toxic behaviors both for himself and those around him, but i glimpsed a suffering soul underneath those behaviors. there is deep pain there and it should have the right to heal. this is the harsh reality of the science of addiction and recovery and it takes a hold on him.  i will reserve this idea in my head and my heart for him. his world may have to fall apart even more, before he lets go of his delusions. hopefully this process won’t strip his family of their dignity as well as often can happen. but the wheel of fortune is already in motion. we’ll simply have to wait to see where it lands.

the disease of our time

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i googled the phrase “the disease of our time” after having heard dr. drew refer to narcotics addiction as such.  click here for the result.
disease of our time

this concept has definitely activated my imagination. firstly, on a personal note, i would think of AIDS as being of our time. but upon further inspection, cancer would easily fit this bill. ignorance, denial, technology, pollution, science, as well as many others make great arguments in their own way. but for me, apathy seems to be the winner. i think addiction and AIDS are the personal diseases, but apathy is what leads us to the road where this question lies….your thoughts ?????

on an alternate disease note, here is a quote from a conversation with alan downs ph.d. who wrote the book i love “the velvet rage”

“We’re all wired to seek emotional validation. For those who’ve experienced shame-based trauma (and I believe this applies to many of us, not just gay men), the emotional invalidation can lead us to develop unhealthy methods for obtaining the validation we crave.

At the core, it’s the pain of not knowing who you are; I call it “the diminished self.” It’s about not knowing what your passion is in life, not knowing what brings you joy, ultimately not knowing the real you. If you’re living life only to please the people around you, that pain ultimately makes life painfully unlivable. You have to retreat into an addiction to compensate for the pain.

Though substance abuse is a major problem among survivors of shame-based trauma, many other behaviors aimed at alleviating the pain of shame can also become addictions. In clinical terms we call them process addictions. These are destructive behavior patterns linked to sex, gambling, shopping or pornography that people use to experience relief from their suffering. In my book, I talk about how gay men acutely struggle with these issues, but this is not unique to gay men—shame-based trauma impacts every part of our culture and its effects are far-reaching.”

i have spent the new year struggling with being average, imperfect, and even over-reactive- especially at work. sometimes i find validation in questioning the status quo and playing devil’s advocate. not always desirable traits when working in a larger entity.

i continue to find that empathy and caring are needed tools in my trade. and i am repeatedly reminded that i have much to learn when working with others. the pain and the distortion that encase people are complicated and separate from my personal experience. often, counseling is walking blindfolded and i am still learning to use all my senses as i move forward.

someone i had never met before told me they had heard of me- not just from the person who introduced us. he then said – “you’re a rock star”…. i am embarrassed to admit that i am amused at this… partially because i work with a computer program named ROCC. additionally, though, i know that my ego is delighted that someone talks about me- and maybe not in a negative way as i always imagine.

someone confided to me today that they were sexually abused at 3 and removed from the custody of their parents. they lived as a ward of the state for almost 10 years. i am still wrecked from the sheer terror of this tale- let alone surviving it.

in rereading this post, perhaps ADD is my disease of our time…

kiss kiss.

the first time i heard this song was at a house party in 1975 …. my first gay house party… platform shoes…. shoulder length hair… i think low-rise hip-huggers, too.

rock a bye

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Everything’s gonna be all right

Rockabye, Rockabye

Everything’s gonna be all right

Rockabye, Rockabye

Rockabye

the origins of addiction for many people most certainly lie in the concept of comfort. drinking and getting high feels good. it comforts. and it often relieves us from painful or difficult or uncomfortable situations or feelings. just think of how a cocktail or two after a hard days/weeks work can almost seem to wipe some stress away like on a dry erase board. mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, hamburgers and fries, a cold, cold pilsner, a dirt martini up with blue cheese stuffed olives, a short tumbler of grappa after a 4 course dinner on the continent. just a little vicoden for the back pain.

for the majority of people, any of these will simply be another in a long list of things that we allow ourselves to enjoy. but for that small percentage of souls, one of these (or all) are the only options that actually work when it comes to offering comfort. maybe they felt abandoned by one of their parents when they were  young, and weren’t able to find balance. or perhaps they were  molested while still a child. or maybe their parents had a volatile or violent relationship and  internalized that it was because of them. of course there is also the possibility that they were born with a chemical imbalance, or grew up in an environment that fostered depression or a diet that enabled adhd. whatever the situation, for a small percentage of our species, the only self comfort learned by them is the addition of something, food, sex, drink, drug.

so it seems quite easy to follow this logic to the place we all know exists-overuse. this indulgence of comfort slips quietly (or not) into a dependence or addiction. as this occurs, any ability they had to comfort themselves slips into the mists of invisibility.and the chasing of this comfort becomes the order of almost every day. and instead of comfort, it becomes snippets of comfort and trying to comfort and the absence of this comfort is more important than the comfort itself, because the brain and its organic chemical processes have adjusted to accommodate this need.

self-comfort seems to me to be at the heart of the matter. a cup of tea, a burt bacharach album, an old hollywood film, a run in the park,  a good nap. these actions, just like journaling, reading, talking with a friend, need to be explored in a new way if self- comfort is to be revived. sounds easy, but if it were, then our comrades with these issues would be able to stop behaviors whenever they wanted. however they can’t. who would lose their job and income if they could intervene? who would get arrested repeatedly if they had the ability to change their life’s course? who would wander the streets at night, sleeping where they could, if they had a choice? who would choose any of these discomforts if they had a choice?

You see, we can’t always be with other people. We can’t always feel safe. What we do need to do is teach ourselves how to deal with our alone time and the thoughts that go on in our heads. How do those thoughts make us feel? Anxious, scared, panicky, nervous, jittery, lonely, sad, depressed? If we don’t figure out how to be alone with ourselves, we are in for a scary trip to the end of our journey…..Susan Thom…. searchwarp.com

how to save a life

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Step one you say we need to talk
He walks you say sit down it’s just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
And you begin to wonder why you came

Strength Over Speed Colorado

our team has been piecing together some ideas for a newer direction for the hiv positive patients who are (or are struggling with) dealing with substance abuse issues and healthcare adherence lapses. there are several factors which are closely related to many of these individuals challenges.  trauma, stigma, depression, aging, sexual dysfunction, isolation, self-esteem, mental health are the first of many to come to mind.

most of the patients i see live below the poverty level. some by design, but most reside in this strata because this is all they know. insurance is not an issue as it is not a choice. luckily in colorado, there is a state program which is designed to give access to healthcare to every coloradan. so much of the basic and intricate healthcare issues and hiv care issues can be met. but honestly, many of these individuals don’t care about healthcare or hiv care. the avoidance of these as well as avoiding as many of their feelings beyond numb creates a perfect environment for drug and alcohol use to morph into abuse almost invisibly- at least to them. it’s quite a different story to the world around them as out of balance seems quite evident.

one thing that seems to be a reality in our city is that  a sense of community and camaraderie in the world of alcohol and drugs exists and beckons. the bars- especially gay bars are community oriented and geared towards fun while you use. music, emcees, shows, drag shows, comedy, dancing, are all at our fingertips as we begin to cement our relationship with drugs and alcohol. the concept of fun is interlaced with use and as we all know it does feel good to get high. it’s moderation which becomes the issue, or maybe the lack of it.

so when people are conceptualizing themselves changing their use, or stopping their use, the idea of fun and festivity becomes a major factor. “life will be dull without the party” accompanies a belief that there will never be joy in their lives again if they stop using. seems pretty reasonable to me. felt that way myself actually. and if you think about it, the image of sobriety pales with regard to fun-loving. as a matter of fact, even though i believe that being sober has brought an unbelievable sense of calm and peace to my life, i don’t even think my using friends think of me as being very much fun. conversely, i would imagine they see me as a buzz kill.

anyway, we are trying to put together a visual and approachable set of peers who have gone through the changes involved in giving up drug use and drinking and have become conduits of joy. i know that i am much happier than i was before 9/29/04, and if you sit an chat with me for a while, i think you’ll believe it and feel it, and i know it is true of many, many others too! this is the subliminal message we want to disseminate. i am currently looking to seattle’s strength over speed  for some inspiration. that grassroots effort has been in development for a few years and i believe they have affected lives. they mix together men who have stopped using meth with men who are actively using- some of those reformed are involved with 12-step and some are not. this encounter, no doubt, allows people weighing their options to see that life can easily continue successfully without the armor of substance protecting us.

the next offering is a workbook-driven curriculum for meth users that is evidence-based and hails from the Matrix Institute of CA. i worked with a version of it previously when i helped develop a program called  the “mile high meth project” for another agency. the matrix has its strengths and weaknesses, but the structure works well and it is designed to engage user’s right brain in order to address the left. coming down off meth creates so much emotionality, that any process that can grab their attention is worth its weight in gold. this is not specifically for gay men. this is much more universal. this is also not poz-only. it’s not as if people discriminate when they are actively using, and i am trusting that same acceptance tendency can bring educational opportunities as well as personal growth and self-acceptance.

this layer will hopefully work as we extend our efforts here beyond gay men. in colorado, poz persons who are not gay men struggle with isolation and stigma even more intensely. there is a small sense if community among these subsets, but it is not cohesive. at least not at our workplace. thus far, we have started a drop in group for the gay poz patients and it seems to be making an imprint. this week heralds its 1-year anniversary, and i believe we have had almost 100 persons through our doors. and our substance treatment numbers for that population have quadrupled with the onset of this effort. and the work continues.

of course, what we are working towards includes helping people find their way to healthcare adherence and retention. the science has been available for some time to keep this virus manageable and undetectable. the costly and debilitating problems that unaddressed hiv infection brings can be greatly minimized by adherence. honestly, i have seen about 15 persons pass this year and most of them would be categorized in the aforementioned. i know that what i am working towards is how to save a life.

keep your fingers crossed… oh… and, can you see my heart smile?

of course the fray are from colorado turf. their stunning debut album seemed to almost usher in the latest indie music boon that we are now in the midst. i heard an interview with lead singer isaac as he talked about visiting a mountainside drug and alcohol recovery camp for youth and was inspired to write these lyrics. appropriate…. local…… lovely..

a chemical romance

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there was a boy who spent a lot of his time running. he had been running for as long as he could remember. and if you asked, he would be hard pressed to tell you when it really began. he knew that he was different and part of him thought that was special and another part of him viewed himself as revolting. but his libido and his chemical makeup consistently created urges that propelled him forward as a sexually active youth who could be considered deviant.

he left home at 16 because the battle inside was too much to bear feeling isolated and trapped in his suburban existence. just like the lou reed song directed, he had to take a walk on the wild side in order to breathe. he ran to the nearest urban mecca he could find. he had already been scoping it out and knew there were similar vibratory souls around. he was very young, but he didn’t care. he knew that anything that could happen could be no worse than the nothings that continued to happen in his life as it was.

he became a rent boy as it was almost a perfect next step. he had already been sexually active for quite some time and had learned to communicate with men on this level. and getting paid for this activity seemed only too good to be true. as it turned out, it wasn’t that good at all. he found himself being objectified in ways he could never have dreamed, and a return of sadness bubbled up now and again amidst all the drugs, alcohol, and recreational sex that averted much of his attention.

a symptom of youth for him was perhaps that he so often got what he wanted. sadly though, this synchronicity was heavily low lighted by his constantly numbed demeanor and his inability to think even slightly big. or maybe it was that he had switched on survival mode early on and hadn’t had the where-with-all to get beyond instinct. it seemed he was bright, but not really smart. and he was hurt, but never really cried. and he barrelled through this part of his teens just like he was endlessly running with his head tucked and his arm out trying to find the goal.

he would pick up tricks for money now and again for the first coupla years he arrived.  and he made himself available for free fun, too. on more than one occasion he emerged from situations which chipped away at his naivete and his sense of wonder. he was used, he was abused, he was ridden hard, and he was discarded quickly. he didn’t lose hope. because this myriad of abrasion he lost himself in,  felt somehow deserved and familiar. he had hated and hidden so much of his nature, that by this stage of the game, he was conditioned to expect very little to actually put in his pocket. by the same token, he had no reason to think that life would not continue to reveal opportunities. he developed a deeper sense that he had little or no real value, and as long as he could numb, he could continue,,,, really….. no problem. at least not yet.

experience and self-worth are strange things. they link in ways that we rarely suppose. and the path we choose to survive our pain often defines life’s challenges as our road is mapped out and paved. this is a truth for this boy. assumptions and conclusion made during these formative years still tend to line the birdcage of his soul. lined with the discarded copies of his chemical romance.