stage 2 sobriety

the spaces inbetween

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resentments

“Older Chests”

Older chests reveal themselves
Like a crack in a wall
Starting small, and grow in time
And we always seem to need the help
Of someone else
To mend that shelf
Too many books
Read me your favourite linePapa went to other lands
And he found someone who understands
The ticking, and the western man’s need to cry
He came back the other day, you know
Some things in life may change
And some things
They stay the same

Like time, there’s always time
On my mind
So pass me by, I’ll be fine
Just give me time

Older gents sit on the fence
With their cap in hand
Looking grand
They watch their city change
Children scream, or so it seems,
Louder than before
Out of doors, and into stores with bigger names
Mama tried to wash their faces
But these kids they lost their graces
And daddy lost at the races too many times

She broke down the other day, yeah you know
Some things in life may change
But some things they stay the same

Like time, there’s always time
On my mind
So pass me by, I’ll be fine
Just give me time
Time, there’s always time
On my mind
Pass me by, I’ll be fine
Just give me time

I began my 60th year in august and am nearing the beginning of my 61st. There is no guidebook or pathway to follow and believe me,  I honestly never imagined that my journey would last this long. It would be a relief if there were an actual reason for my work in this life, but it is more apparent that my work is simply my work.

Relationships have been a source of strength and of struggle for me. I grew up in an environment that was tumultuous, fiery, and skittish. Marriages followed by divorces were in the background of my youth and I learned later that disharmony feels like love to me. I also learned that trying to learn about love while love feels like that is too frightening for me to pursue.

I’ve certainly been loved. Loved by more than is fair I believe. I have loved too, although I became quite gun-shy after my 1st live-in relationship of 2 years in 1978. My self-control, my fear, and my rage flowed like flood water submerging all my safe harbor. Since that time, I have kept a lock system controlling my heart ( The distinguishing feature of a lock is a fixed chamber in which the water level can be varied; whereas in a caisson lock, a boat lift, or on a canal inclined plane, it is the chamber itself (usually then called a caisson) that rises and falls).

I have remained mostly safe from further heartache matching the level I felt finding my partner having sex in a car in front of our apartment. I have not yet met the level of rage that I felt when I felt the imprint of my childhood framing my own adult life. This was an early lesson in letting go for me. I decided very young to forego the baring of my soul in that way again.

I find myself in a very strange position. I have moved to a new city and spend many quiet nights. I am working for myself and have extra hours on my own. I am liking myself more and liking many others less.

I now know I dashed and sprinted through life sure that it would burn out quickly. Then I found myself here and understood I miscalculated.  I’m here, I’m working on things I found I feel called to do. And I see more clearly that the notes on the musical staff don’t make music on their own. The spaces in between are vital and give the melody and the mood its meaning and impact.

 

Nature’s Way

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trans flagIt was out of the blue that an old friend called me to attend a talk by Janet Mock at Mile High Church in Lakewood the other night. I had little awareness or expectation of her or her celebrity which is often a good approach to an event. I was not familiar with Janet or her advocacy, but I became an instant fan. She spoke of growing up in the “middle way” of gender identification and how she was able at an early age to find the courage to claim for herself how she would identify.

janet mock

image- janet mock

It highlighted to me how often our expectations of each to accommodate our own uneasiness with the unknown of other’s self-discovery. We want to pigeon-hole so we don’t have too much room for questions. Maybe having questions leaves too much room for mistakes on our part. Janet actually spoke at length and eloquently about making room that provides safety for those among us (most of us really) as we find our identities.

I remember running as fast as I could from the madness that was my home. My mom was busy trying to secure her own stability and was struggling with that. I hated seeing her pain and felt responsible for it. I couldn’t bear that responsibility. I had already learned that running was a way to escape and be safe and I used that experience.

I was 16 and landed in Chicago. It was rough seas but I got seas legs quickly. I depended on the kindness of a drag queen named Danee who took me in and helped me turn 17 without losing too much of my innocence. I saw the “gay scene” of 1970’s Chicago from the show queen and street hustler perspective. Those were about the only doors that were open to a runaway teen during those days.

I have written about this before, but the evening with Janet Mock took me back to 70’s Chicago. Glitter Rock, Retro Art Deco, high-waist double-pleated baggies with 2 skinny disco belts, Man’s Country, Sally Rand, Wanda Lust, Felicia’s Baton Lounge, Chili Pepper, Jodi Lee, Carol’s Speakeasy. these were the chapters of my late teens.

And the chapters were rife with people living somewhere in the middle of gender identification. Black, white, Hispanic, male , female; many colors and flavors. It made sense that the rainbow flag became a representative symbol.

But what I did learn was respect. For my money, the wilder looking folks with the gender bending features were much kinder to a waif like me. The calmer more respectable business folks in our circles were the ones more likely to try to take advantage of me. And l became respectful of differences and grateful for authentic kindness. I survived those early years living on my own only through the kindness of strangers. I had no idea I would need the skills they taught me later on in my journey.

image credits- http://www.brumm.com

“Nature’s Way”

Is nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you in a song
It’s nature’s way of receiving you
It’s nature’s way of retrieving you
It’s nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong
It’s nature’s way of telling you on the breeze
It’s nature’s way of telling you – dying trees
It’s nature’s way of telling you to slow down
It’s nature’s way of telling you – look around
It’s nature’s way of finding you
It’s nature’s way of reminding you
It’s nature’s way of telling you somethings wrong

Anthem

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I’m ready for a sing-along.. How about you???

“This Is Me”
I’m not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one will love you as you are

But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades
And reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious

When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
Gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me
Look out ’cause here I come
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

…This is me

And I know that I deserve your love
There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ’cause here I come (look out ’cause here I come)
And I’m marching on to the beat I drum (marching on, marching, marching on)
I’m not scared to be seen
I make no apologies, this is me

I’m gonna send a flood
Gonna drown them out
(…this is me)

 

Another gem from the film “The Greatest Showman”

turn your broken heart into art

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blood vessels in the human heart

photo credit Rob Jones

Meryl speaks her truth at the 2017 Globes

As i watched the storyline unfold about the Pentagon Papers reposted in the Press under the Nixon regime (yes i said that), I was transfixed by the echoes of a request she made to the Hollywood Press and her film industry colleagues about supporting the press and helping them stay able to print the truth. It seems that Dame Streep did make good on that promise to support the press in the telling of the truth with the making of “The Post”. And it seems this particular subject was an incredible storyline to choose.

meryl and viola at globes

It dawned on me that I can’t be the only human coming to this conclusion or making this connection. So I googled. And I came up with this glorious Washington Post article which confirmed my own intuition and ability to connect the dots. The review of the film is stellar and the synopsis would pale mine. Take a few minutes to read before you definitely go see “The Post”. It is an interesting reflection of our time.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/meryl-streep-gave-a-rousing-golden-globes-speech-and-the-post-became-a-reality-quickly/2017/12/13/cd716c2e-ddaf-11e7-8679-a9728984779c_story.html?utm_term=.6fa971868348

So my grand idea balloon is deflated by someone beating me to the punch. I remain validated that indeed i did not imagine this ongoing story. She declared and then she delivered. She took her broken heart and made art.

 

 

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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the house began to twitch

It really was no miracle. What happened was just this.
The wind began to switch – the house to pitch and suddenly the hinges started to unhitch. Just then the Witch – to satisfy an itch went flying on her broomstick, thumbing for a hitch.
I am in the last few days of my house of 11 years. There are boxes everywhere, a storage unit is secured, a post office box as well, an apartment in the house of a friend is on standby, the moving van reserved, and some physical labor assistance promised.
I have been avoiding too many feelings around all this as I hold my breath that no shoes drop. Keeping myself busy and trying not to stop. This way I won’t be able to grieve as much without being busy. The goal is to keep busy and continue to move forward.
Tomorrow the closing of the sale of my home is scheduled for the morning. The afternoon I am scheduling lunch with a friend and getting ready for the move scheduled Thursday.
Overall, 2017 has been a very crunchy year. Beginning with a surgery that knocked me for a loop until now, I find myself systematically reviewing what I think I know, letting go of some of that as illusion, and trying to redefine what I believe my strengths are in order to start to lean on those.
Whatever happens, it promises to be a wonderland adventure. I am ready for some technicolor around me.  Wish me luck. I’m following the yellow brick road.  I wonder who I’ll run into along the way.

 

a new foundation

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reconstruction

In just under 3 weeks, the framework of my former life will get reintroduced to a new foundation and home. There are risks involved with this kind of effort, but the possibilities outweigh those risks in my mind.

It certainly not the first time I’ve started over. The political, financial, and emotional climates are influencing this decision. I am nervous about something going haywire. I hesitate to put this to paper as to jinx the glory that is my life today.

But part of me knows that resilience has become my overcoat. It has kept me warm during trauma after trauma, during debacle after debacle, and helped me stay dry as i have fired PTSD as my chauffeur.  Somehow, my faith will take me through. And I am glad to have this old shell of a building to set down anew and build a new life.

i  believe in movement. I believe in that lighthearted balloon, the world.I believe in midnight and the hour of noon. But what else do I believe in? Sometimes everything. Some- times nothing. It fluctuates like light sitting over a pond. I believe in life, which one day each of us shall lose. When we are young we think we won’t, that we are different. as a child I thought I would never grow up, that I could will it so. and then I realized, quite recently, that I had crossed some line, unconsciously cloaked in the truth of my chronology. &ow did we get so damn old? I say to my joints, my iron-colored hair. now I am older than my love, my departed friends. perhaps I will live so long that the New York public library will be obliged to hand over the walking stick of Virginia Woolf. I would cherish it for her, and the stones in her pocket. But I would also keep on living, refusing to surrender my pen…. Patti Smith- MTrain

 

Pack it Up Pack it In, Let me begin

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After 11 years, the time has come to make a change. Looking towards the future, it seems inevitable that i need to reel in expenses and plan for the next decade. I will miss this little townhouse. It has seen me through quite a lot.

I am very interested in what is to come.  I have hopes of helping to create a network of recovery support throughout some of the state. I am not “connected” in the way that this type of many entities seem to be as I resemble a maverick rather than part of the herd. Not forgetting that I am part of a larger movement and proud to be so.

The 2018 working plan is to begin developing coaches in several counties throughout Colorado. Training, providing support, offer supervision, provide consult if asked, and to start to piece these coaches into a network that can share ideas, efforts, and resources- all of which come in handy during the more drought-like times.

I will be conducting fund-raising efforts for a judicial district’s clients, developing an accreditation training track to fulfill the State’s Peer Credential requirements, and hopefully taking part in an effort to plug in recovery coaches into emergency room settings for outreach when folks are vulnerable.

This is no small effort. My team will not be doing this alone. We encourage you to volunteer and help us get this freight train of change going. Coloradans are dying daily who need some of this help. Get on board. Pack it up. Pack it in. Let me begin. Jump Around.

lucky 13

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birthday

13 years ago I definitely hit my bottom. I became too weary of putting things back together that a new direction was the only option. It has certainly been a journey. I have had so much help along the way. Never could I have done this alone. Sober date 9/28/2004. Some of the chapters of my recovery story include….

I have studied Alcoholics Anonymous and experienced a spiritual experience, attended my sponsor’s memorial service,  been the subject of a Westword cover story about recovery in 2006,  studied A Course in Miracles, Buddha, Pema Chodron, William White, Marianne Williams, Louise Hay, Duane Dyer,  become an addictions counselor, a recovery coach, a peer mentor, a recovery coach trainer, developed several programs. I have left wreckage in my sobriety and discovered a better way to manage my trauma.

I bought a house, 2 cars, leased another, had 3 full time jobs with a part time job going the whole 13 years. I remember losing a job while trying to live through PTSD for the first time sober. I gave up friendships and support along that road. I couldn’t trust anyone to ask for help because I had never trusted anyone. I’ve learned a little more about this since then.

The cost of sanity is definitely balanced out by the gifts of recovery. Learning to cope has been challenging, but coping without doping is its own reward. I love my life today. I am happy joyous and free. I am not a body. I am still as God created me.  Here’s a little Pema for the road.  oh yeah, I’m still working on eating only 1 piece of cake.

“nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know
…nothing ever really attacks us except our own confusion. perhaps there is no solid obstacle except our own need to protect ourselves from being touched. maybe the only enemy is that we don’t like the way reality is now and therefore wish it would go away fast. but what we find as practitioners is that nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know. if we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. it just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter, without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
― Pema ChödrönWhen Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Prayers for the Refugee

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Firstly let me express deep sympathy and concern over the souls in Southern Texas and the trauma that my fellow citizens are going through. I am sending prayers and support in my daily meditations. before and duringThere is little doubt in my mind that a new era is already in motion. Weather changes,  icebergs breaking, overdose epidemic, conservative mafia, the new Russian bank virus that seems to affect so many, money laundering, hacked elections, white supremacists,  border walls, reversing EPA guidelines, ice agents, alternative facts,  all add up to creepy science fiction to me.

My interior life feels as if it is mirroring the dissonance I see in the world and it’s a bitch to maneuver gracefully. My pride is being revealed as a real sense of power drain. This is a source of regret for me. I know that my tough makeup has been my companion for almost 50 years. It has sadly come time to retire it though. Heaven knows how I will operate without my scout always checking out the territory before I settle in.

I approach 13 years of recovery with no alcohol or drug use and I have found ease and comfort certainly. But the challenge now is to have my exterior life match my interior views. I would rather let go of the dancing I do when I am challenged by circumstances in life. I continue to shut down emotionally as I always have. I notice it now and change the course, but it’s all draining and takes time. Although it is better than just shutting down.

I am obviously wrestling with emotional sobriety on some level. It will work itself out no doubt. I leave you with an excerpt from a William White blog.

I have been closely observing the addiction recovery process for half a century. I have been struck by two extremes: people whose fragile recovery is forever frozen at a primitive stage of development, and people who go through metamorphic changes that transform their character, values, and the quality of their interpersonal relationships. In the former, drug use has ceased or radically decelerated in frequency, intensity, and consequences, but this change remains nested within the same self-centeredness, resentfulness, dishonesty, and intolerance that often characterizes active addiction. This former pattern has been referred to as the “dry drunk” syndrome. In the latter style, the radically altered person-drug relationship is accompanied by dramatic enhancements in global health and functioning, as well as changes in character and identity—changes AA co-founder Bill Wilson characterized as “emotional sobriety.”

It is easy to cast these widely varying styles of recovery into the boxes of bad and good, but time and experience have softened that view for many of us as we have come to see how each style can exist within the same persons (and within ourselves) at different stages of the long-term recovery process. Also of note is that the executive brain functions of some people may have been severely and even permanently damaged from addiction, precluding tolerance of the ambiguity and more complex decision-making of the transformative style of recovery.

Today’s guiding mantra is “whatever it takes—recovery by any means necessary under any circumstances.” While we can deeply admire those in recovery who have used the recovery experience as a catalyst for personal transformation (via humility, gratitude, tolerance, service, etc.), we can also admire those who must tenaciously cling to those crude early defenses as a way to “keep the plug in the jug.” Both are deserving of respect and admiration…. William White blog

Overdose Awareness

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shoe drive hrac 2017

I know its a little late for the National Day of Awareness but since we have a Recovery Month Event 2 weeks later, we are taking liberties with the day and building an Overdose Memorial at the Recovery Music Fest on Saturday September 16, 2017 at the Colorado State Capitol. We will use old shoes tied to balloons to represent the 914 Coloradans who lost their lives to overdose in our state in 2016. That number rose from 872 in 2015. Our purpose in this is to create a community intention that reverses this trend while sending a visual picture to our lawmakers. The event information can be found at  www.pcasurrounded.com

All these Souls passing on and so little attention is given them. Our airwaves and newsreels are rife with happenings on other continents but so little focus on stopping this steady bleeding of love between our own shores. And with that 914 lost souls are an average of 3 other Americans left with grief and stigma and little else to speak of. Addressing this glaring criminal hypocrisy is another agenda of the September Awareness effort. We want family members to feel welcome, to feel seen and heard, and to feel loved by our communities who have personal and lived experience with feeling outcast and unloved. Let us love you up.

PCA is proud to be holding a fund raiser that day for “Harm Reduction Action Center” which is an organization working at ground zero with the IV drug using population. Their impact saves lives on a daily basis. Join us in supporting their efforts.

IMG_0899

if you have been affected by overdose, please join us at the Capitol on September 16, Join our effort to raise our voices for change. Bring your conscience and your heart, tie a balloon on a pair of shoes and place them on the Capitol steps. Make an effort to open your heart. This may be the only way change can happen.

‘This is an issue that all Coloradans can come together on. Let’s stop our neighbors and friends from bleeding love.