paul jelaco


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lost at sea by cory g via deviant art
“A further sign of health is that we don’t become undone by fear and trembling, but we take it as a message that it’s time to stop struggling and look directly at what’s threatening us. ” 

“Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (Corinthians 13:4-7)

my friend’s ashes were blessed, reminisces shared, tears shed today at the small catholic church in englewood. i comforted friends from my past and was comforted by my friends of today. i sat quietly while others shared their history and insight. his longtime friend read the famous passage on love and i understood it more intimately than i could ever imagine. i ceremoniously put to rest any idea that i could head backwards.

i need to set a new course. i am unsure. it is not frightening, but i am reticent. i can’t intuit how to move forward. i can’t feel my feet. i can feel the wind and hear the pounding surf. i feel cold. i am waiting and trying my damnedest to lean into the unknowing.

there are (as always) many opinions for me to choose from. not my usual style though. internal wisdom tells me if i don’t know what to do, then do nothing. life is just like playing poker sometimes. good bye my dear friend. safe journey. you will be missed.

and as for me, i am still. i am not a body. i am free. for i am still…… as god created me.

The wilderness is not just a desert through which we wandered for forty years. It is a way of being. A place that demands being open to the flow of life around you. A place that demands being honest with yourself without regard to the cost in personal anxiety. A place that demands being present with all of yourself.

In the wilderness your possessions cannot surround you. Your preconceptions cannot protect you. Your logic cannot promise you the future. Your guilt can no longer place you safely in the past. You are left alone each day with an immediacy that astonishes, chastens and exults. You see the world as if for the first time.
-Lawrence Kushner

celebrating 8 years

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“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”

september 28 2004 was the day my heart gave out. i found myself in a position in my life in which i no longer recognized myself and i felt trapped by my behaviors. 
opportunity seemed to have vanished, and i was living in a life that i felt no love or compassion for. i had blasted all the meaning and intention from life with disregard and irreverence, and had been running for so many years i no longer was clear on what i was running from nor what i might be running to. i guess it had been endless running.
september 28 2004 was the day i surrendered. that was 8 years ago today. i went back to the treatment program and started participating in 12 step meetings. of course, those meetings were the last place i wanted to be. they seemed so lame. people i never would have partied with were talking about issues in their lives i had no concern nor care for. it came to unnerve me often, but i continued because i had no where else to really go and because here were the only sober people i could find. 
i really have to say here that i do feel honestly blessed. in that 1st year, there is no way i could have comprehended the path i now follow. i probably would not have been interested in it to be truthful. but this is the biggest blessing in surrender for me- the promises as laid out in that famous book “the big book”

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us — sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

i never knew until this recovery journey began, that my compassionate side had a birthplace and a reason. i didn’t believe that the agonizing experiences i had growing up gay in small town middle america would be transformed into stockpiles of strength and understanding that i could offer to others in similar predicaments in their lives. and more importantly, i had no clue that i didn’t have to run away whenever situations became so difficult-which they occasionally still do. but these are just a few insights i have gained over the last 8 years.
although today is a milestone, it is thoroughly bittersweet. my mentor of 7 years passed away 7 days ago and this would have been my 7th celebration with him by my side. certainly he resides in my heart and my mind. i have merely lost the luxury of hearing the words-“happy birthday cosmo” in the reassuring voice that has helped tame my heart and mold my intention. i really want to resent (but can’t) the words i share often about the work in this life being really about “letting go”. i have had so many wonderful things in my life, but i haven’t been able to keep any of them. i have always had to let go. and it’s the acceptance of that which causes me the most pain. letting go of my friend paul 27 years ago and letting go of my sponsor paul now are some of the most heart wrenching treks i have endured. 
i have made  great friends and reconnected with family, but these relationships have a very different rhythm without the partying. they seem quieter and they seem to run deeper. i have to say “thank you” to all my friends including my online life- without you and your support, my life would be so much smaller.   however, the most changed relationship is the one i have developed with the world in which i live. i used to take for granted the people, places, and things. i was always taking what i wanted or snatching what i needed, almost feeling like a visitor or even a trespasser. but now i do feel a bit more like a citizen. today i will work (2 jobs) and go to a meeting this evening. i already feel peace and gratitude. i hope to grow those feelings. i’m definitely glad i have something to work on.
i am sharing a vid that opens my heart for some reason. i have become enthralled with the xfactor uk this year. the auditions were amazing and this young girl’s audition was no exception. but there was something even more compelling about her boot camp solo which is here. i hope you agree.
Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don’t think you’re strong enough, 
Do you believe in life after love 
I can feel something inside me say 
I really don’t think you’re strong enough, 
What am I supposed to do 
Sit around and wait for you 
And I can’t do that 
There’s no turning back 
I need time to move on 
I need love to feel strong 
‘Cause I’ve had time to think it through 
And maybe I’m too good for you Ohh Oh 

tears in heaven

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In Memoriam- Paul Jelaco
Let me come in where you are weeping, friend, 
And let me take your hand. 
I, who have known a sorrow such as yours, 
Can understand.
Let me come in — I would be very still 
Beside you in your grief; 
I would not bid you cease your weeping, friend, 
Tears can bring relief.Let me come in — I would only breathe a prayer, 
And hold your hand, 
For I have known a sorrow such as yours, 
And understand….
Grace Noll Crowell 

i have posted a few times about my sponsor and his diagnosis of stage IV liver cancer earlier this year. i called his home 2 days ago and was informed by a voice i didn’t know that he had been moved to hospice. and i just received a call from that same voice letting me know that he passed this morning in his sleep. i was concerned about his mother. i asked the mysterious voice to please give my number to his mother. his mom called me 10 minutes later. i have been filled with a bittersweet sadness since. there is drama with his mama and it may be forever unresolved. it’s not my drama, but i am privy to it none-the-less.

paul was my sponsor, but more importantly he was my friend and mentor. when i met him he was attending 12 step meetings and always quoting from “the big book”. it usually annoyed me greatly when people did that, but for some reason, his gentle demeanor dissolved my disdain. i didn’t need an aggressive sponsor. paul fit that bill. he taught me the concept of “god doesn’t create junk” and repeated it over and over. here is a post from my 1st blog which captures a sense of just how integrated his words are into my process. the post was titled “house of flying daggers”

when paul was diagnosed, he started to shut down- both emotionally and physically, and the experience of losing him began at that time for me. i spoke with him weekly at least, but didn’t see him more than 10 times or so. each time i did see him, and many times on the phone, he would well up with tears. he struggled with his feelings about his health and i am sure with his own sense of loss, fear, and probably his sense of failure with his battle with cancer as well.

what i am resisting here is conveying the emptiness and melancholy that winds through me like the highline canal meanders through our fair city. friends like paul do not appear in my life everyday. i am a flawed friend. i carry much baggage. those who can accept and withstand me are very few and far between. i have conveyed these feelings to him, but it never seemed enough- especially now.

he used to call me “cosmo”. he felt pride and respect for the work i did. he was always supportive of my work in the hiv community and in the recovery community. he understood that i strangely live a sober life filled with synchronicity and opportunity. he also reminded me that i might just be doing the work i was meant to do. i have had a cheerleader like no other and will probably never experience that level of  trust and support again. i hope i didn’t take it for granted nor have it in vain. and i certainly hope i was able to be even a fraction of this for him.

i am not at all aware of where i go from here. the more dramatic part of me sees myself almost as jill clayburgh sitting on the floor of that empty apartment at the end of “an unmarried woman”. drama aside, a cornerstone of my foundation seems to have vanished. no doubt i’ll get to that, but this damn wind that i have to deal with until then…..