Monday, November 13, 2006

Letter to a friend in jail

I've known Brett for years - probably ten years, at this stage of the game. When he came into AA, he was 18 or 19, I guess, and had a pretty good crystal-meth habit. He's been in and out of AA since then, and ended up in jail a couple times. He's now in a county jail in rural Kansas, doing a one-year sentence. He wrote to me just as I was moving, telling me what was going on, and asking me to write.

I wrote back a typical-for-Steve epistle - and then, just for good measure, included my coming-out post, too. (Can you say, "extra postage required"?) And I told him that if he didn't want to hear from me, that would be sad, but understandable. But if he wanted, I'd write him periodically, and hope he'd reply.

This is my second letter to him, and recaps life over the last two weeks since I wrote to him on November 4th. It also says some things about some realizations I had over the weekend, and some truths about sobriety and life that I am going to try to live by, today.

November 13, 2006

Hey, buddy!

Well, just a brief message to you, brother – it's been a crazy two weeks since I last wrote you.

My sister, who I moved out here to help out, has been judged "totally disabled" by the Bureau of Workers Comp for the job she had. She's been listed as "permanent light duty," so she'll probably never be able to go back to doing what she has been doing. Which sucks, big time. And of course, any retraining program she could get in won't start until the end of the month – AFTER her disability income runs out. It's pretty freakin' nuts.

Her husband, my brother in law, is not taking this well, and is exhibiting every kind of stress-related illness – stomach aches, depression, you name it. Which ain't makin' it too easy for him to show up at his work. Admittedly, it's not the best job in the world – but we need every penny we can get, right about now…

And my first AA sponsor, who I'd chosen to be my "new" Ohio sponsor, and his wife of 15 years, are separating. (Not divorcing – but they have decided for various reasons they just can't live together.) So we spent part of the day Saturday moving her out of his house. It was civil, even friendly. But it was just a lot of time, and it was sad.

And the job that I am generally so grateful for, that allows me to be here and help out – has gone south in very powerful and ugly ways this last week. It got so bad that out of desperation I started posting my resume on, an internet job board.

So yeah, things are pretty challenging. And unfortunately, the demands of work have meant that I'm not taking care of myself – I'm eating too much, and I'm not exercising at all, and that's not helping anything about my health.

But, I've been trying, repeatedly, to focus on gratitude. The job sucks, but it's providing most of the income to keep this family afloat. My sister's unemployed (basically), but she's alive, and there's hope of finding a desk job or something she can do that doesn't take standing all damn day.

And I still have options – there is a big open area around here to walk around, and as soon as I get this written, I'm going to take a shower, and then take at least a 15 minute walk. And do that several times a day. Because I won't be worth a damn to them if I'm dead, or in the hospital.

And I know that my employer isn't going to take care of me – their job is to bleed me dry, and my answer, so far, has been to let them. When I talked to my AA sponsor yesterday, and told him about it, he didn't tell me what to do. But he did tell me, "It sounds like they have found a willing mule, and they're ready to load him up until his back breaks and he dies."

Sure – the thought is always in the back of my mind. "Screw them, screw this, screw everybody. I just want to run away and hide." And the best way to do that, of course, is drinking or drugging. Or overeating. Or masturbating and watching porn, or TV or DVD's, or doing anything instead of living sober and recovering.

But if I do any of those things, I'm pissing away today. Granted, any of it sounds more fun than the day I'm probably going to have today. But I also know where that crap will take me – because I've seen it. I've seen it in meetings time and time again. And I'm pretty sure that, at nearly 50 years old, I won't have the chance to survive another run "out there." In fact, I'd be really surprised if you could survive another run out there.

Today, I choose life. With all the pain, and all the flaws, there is still much joy and much love in my life. I had the chance to spend some time Saturday afternoon and evening with some other gay Christians I'd met online, and it was enjoyable to spend time with them, and see people who were out, but not rubbing it in people's faces – and living loving, productive lives in the community. It was really cool. I got to tell Sue and Jeff about going to the Toledo Museum's new Glass Pavillion (though we missed the glass-blowing demonstration - booo....) And Sunday night, as I was racing around to get ready for the evening meeting, my sister made me a great but simple dinner, and gave me a kiss as I left.

People have been encouraging my blog-writing, too. There are folks who are really, really telling me there is a book to be published in all of this. And that I need to get busy with it.

I can't see the love of my family, the friendships I've found in AA, in the church, and elsewhere in life and not be willing to do whatever I need to keep alive – to keep living.

So today, I'm gonna get showered, get dressed, take a walk, and then get to work. I'm gonna work as hard as I can, knowing that tonight, "work" will end about midnight or 1 AM, and that Tuesday and Wednesday will probably follow suit. I'm gonna do my best to get through this with a couple more bouts of physical activity, and I'm gonna call my sponsor in the middle of the mayhem tonight. I'm having to go back to absolute basics – stuff as simple as remembering to make my bed, and to shower AND shave each day (because as a virtual worker, I don't have to do any of that). But as a sober member of life, I do.

I'm gonna get this in the mail on my walk, brother, so I'm gonna wrap this up. You don't have to write a 5 page monster letter or anything to me each time you write – even short notes will be great. And, of course, you may not have gotten the balls up to say, "Stop writing me," from my last "little" letter. I recognize that might also be the case. But I have to admit that I hope it's not the case at all.

When our buddy Mike T. was in the federal pen in California, I suggested that he write about what was going on right that day, and then at least one question or topic about sobriety that he was struggling with. And that he treat it like a journal – write a page or two, send it off; write a page or two, send it off. I'll send 'em all back to you when you get out, so you can have a kind of journal of what happened to you while you were in.

OK, that's it. So much for "brief message," eh?

Zen hugs across the miles, Brett.

Now, God, help me to make it, and always.


Im A Foto Nut said...

I have always said, "It could be worse, I could be bald." half jokingly and half not. After reading this post, I realize just how greatful I need to be. For my recovery, my health, and the big one, the fact that I am not now, nor have I ever been in prison.

APN said...

Thank you for this. Thank you so much.

The struggles you describe so aptly and so transparently remind me that I am not alone in my hurting & on my journey of recovery towards healing. I have learned that I must have others in this life. In the past, I would turn increasingly inward when fighting the daily (actually, nightly) battles I have with myself -- trying to lick my own wounds, but usually causing greater infection. Bringing light to my struggles has been a blessing, even though it has been painful.

Thank you again Steve.


BarBarA said...

so glad I re-found your blog. didn't realize all I was missing when i lost it.
glad you are still going strong.

Anonymous said...

Good post! I appreciate your honesty.

Poor Mad Peter said...

{sound of Tardis materializing} It's Delurking week, Steve man!

Anonymous said...

I rarely comment on posts but I need to tell you how much I admire your choices. I am 66 and Thanksgiving Day was my 30th year of sobriety. Yesterday when I mentioned to family members about the 30 years, one asked if that meant not one drink and I said that it absolutely meant that. I have done 2 things: Not drink and have had daily contacts with my all-loving God. My life is at Love, Kathy

hazelorbs said...

thank you so much for your words, steve...your blogs pose some interesting thoughts and "answers" for me in some respects and address some questions of my own that i've had for some time... i'll definitely keep reading.