Day Three, Letting Merlot Go.

Day three of Sobriety.  I’ve been reflecting much the past few days over exactly where my drinking crossed the line.  I grew up in an environment where alcohol use and abuse were part of daily living for many years during my youth.  And, I always told myself that I would never allow myself to become an alcoholic, even though I did gain a fondness for it at a very early age.  I found another outlet in life;  Religion;  It kept me on the straight and narrow for quite some time, scaring the “hell” out of me.   Don’t get me wrong, I did the typical partying thing throughout high school, and my years in the military.  But, I would characterize myself during those years as more of a social drinker, at best.

And then, Life began to happen.  In my late twenties, my marriage fell apart, and for a brief moment I resorted to alcohol, drinking a little more heavily.  But, I soon learned that drinking only made a depressing situation, worse.  And, I had a five-year old daughter to take care of, and so losing myself in drink was not an option.

Once again, life happens.  A few years passed, and I found myself coming face to face with an issue that I had been struggling with all my life, and that was my sexuality.  (I’ll write about that struggle later).   Once I came to terms with myself, I began living and experiencing the gay lifestyle.  I immersed myself in the culture during those early years.  And, it was then that the world of alcohol really opened up.  I was enjoying my new-found freedom as a gay man, going out and partying frequently, meeting new people.  Just living the life.   Yet, even in those days, the alcohol I could live without.  It just never had been my thing.

It was also during this time, that I began to really excel in my career.  And, it was during this time that I discovered a new love.  Her name was Merlot.  In all my drinking experience, I had never tried wine.  But, once I did, I was in love.  It was an innocent pleasure during those days.  I mean, what could be wrong with coming home after a long day at the office and having a taste of her luscious fruit?  She brought a warmth to me that I had never experienced before, and she had a way of luring me into a nice, restful sleep, after a long, stressful day.  This went on for several years, and of course I was consuming more by this time but, I was in love, and life was good.

Once again, life happened.  I was diagnosed with a chronic illness.  I was devastated at the time, and so I went home, curled up in bed for a few weeks, just me and Merlot.  I was going through all the blame, all the guilt, self-pity, and remorse that I had allowed this to happen, and she was there.  I took full responsibility then, as I do now, but, after two weeks, I had enough.  I made a decision.  I was going to sell all that I had, and move half way across the country, and that I did.

Looking back, I don’t regret the decision, but it was probably not the best I made during that time.  But, as they say, hind sight is twenty twenty, and that I didn’t have.

There were so many issues going on at that time.  Chronic diagnosis.  New surroundings.  New home.   No job.  My plan was to take off a year.  To give myself time to get accustomed to all of this change, do a little traveling here and there.  And, that worked for a while.  Hell, I had worked hard.  I deserved a little break from life.  Or, so I thought.  But, I found that I had so much time on my hands, too much time, and I began once again to spend a lot of quality time with my Merlot.  She seemed to always be by side.

And, once again, life happened.  I met a wonderful guy and fell in love for what seemed to be like the first time in my life.  But, looking back, I think Merlot got a little jealous, and got in the way.  It was during this time I truly recognized that I may have a problem, and decided to get help.  And, it did help for a short, and I mean a very short while.  Heartbreak ensued, and I once again found myself calling on Merlot.  I had gone to treatment.  I was back in control, or so I thought.

Needless to say, living life with Merlot became a living hell.  While once she was an innocent pleasure who brought me rest, and the one thing that I could pick me up when times were rough, she now had me in her sweet grasp and would not let me go.  By this time, there had been no such thing as a restful night for quite some time.  In fact, I was afraid to sleep at all for fear of not waking up for work, if I woke up at all.  And, so I would stay up nights, me and Merlot.  Often, when I did make it to work, it was after an all night drinking binge, if I made it to work at all.  By this time, I was often missing days, not knowing where they went.  I’m grateful today, that I have a job at all.

The cold hard realization hit me.  I had crossed the line somewhere along the way.  I had totally lost control.  I was totally powerless in her presence.  It was time.  My friend Merlot had to go.  And, that has been my reflection as I journey through day three of my sobriety.  HB

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The Struggle: Day 2 and Alcohol Free

CT6us6CU8AEBK2F.jpg_largeThis picture was tweeted to me just recently, and it describes my state of mind exactly.  Yesterday, I wrote a little about my struggles with my alcohol addiction.  As I lay in bed last night, extremely tired yet, fully awake.  It was the first night that I had gone to bed without passing out, in all honestly, I can’t say when.  But, I was lying there, and out of nowhere it seems I began to think about my next drink.  I was actually making plans to stop and get a bottle of wine on the way home from work this morning.  And, then I had to remind myself of my commitment to be and remain sober.  This morning, I  got out of work earlier than expected, and, I hate to admit this, but I actually cried on the way home, knowing that I could not get my “juice”.  Here I am, a forty-six year old man crying over his “juice”.    It was all I could do.  Drinking had become so engrained in my life;  It had become a way of life.  So far today, I have just felt extremely agitated, and very emotional.  But, I feel strong enough to remain committed to my resolve.  Just this great tug of war going on.  All those wasted days living life in a bottle.  I felt as though I could not survive much longer.  Yet, here I am pondering the question.  Is there life outside the bottle?  But, thankfully, I already know the answer.  I’ve read so many success stories over the past few days, and that has given me immense hope that I can win this battle.   There it is, Day 2 in the struggle.   HB

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The Struggle Within. My Addiction.

At times I am not sure why I feel compelled to write, and to share such intimate details of my life.  But, today is one of those days.  I need to write, to share.  I want to open up and share one part of my life that I’ve been afraid to admit to myself, let alone others.  It’s a problem that threatens to destroy all that I am, if I don’t get it under control.  I was looking back over a previous blog that I had written, “Lost, but now found”.  The truth is, I am still lost, and sinking lower each day.  I’ve actually mentioned this “problem”  in some of my earlier blogs, yet, I thought I had it under control.  I’ve realized recently through a series of events just how out of control I really am.

About fourteen months ago I admitted myself into a drug and alcohol treatment facility.  I had been struggling for some time with my drinking.  I knew I had an issue and wanted to get it under control.  I attended several AA meetings at the suggestion of a friend.  But, in looking back, I had another problem.  I wasn’t quite ready to give up my “problem”.  My psychologist at the time realized this, and in his view I was not an alcoholic.  I was someone going through some challenging life situations and had come to abuse it.  With his help, I could learn to regain control over my drinking habits, and learn to drink in moderation again.  I liked this guy!  He was telling me exactly what I wanted to hear.  God knows, I was not ready to give up the vine.

As I sit here today,  I recognize the fact that I must give it up.  Completely.  The truth is, I am an alcoholic.  I am completely powerless once I take that first drink.  Once that first bottle is gone, it’s out for more.  Yet,  I never drink to get drunk.  I just drink, drink, and drink until I totally pass out.  And, it’s become a very dark place for me.  A very scary place.

Several weekends ago,  I had gotten off of work at a very early hour.  It was a Saturday morning.  I know it was after 8:00 am, because I was able to stop and buy a bottle of wine.  The first of the day.  Couldn’t wait to get home and open it up.  I ended up drinking all day, well into the next.  I vaguely remember Sunday at all.  The next thing I recall.  I am waking up Tuesday morning, wondering what the hell happened.  Yet, reaching for that bottle.

Today, is my first day being sober in a very long time.   I have been doing a lot of reflection.  And, it’s been quite a struggle, but I must face the truth.  This problem has taken a toll on my health, relationships, finances.  You name it, there isn’t an area in my life that it hasn’t done some type of damage.  I’ve alienated myself from family and friends.  I no longer enjoy the things I once did.  I’ve given up on just about everything except the one thing that I truly must give up, and that is the bottle.  May God grant me the serenity to accepts the things I cannot change, the courage to change to the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  That is my plea.  HB

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Grace so amazing. Lost, yet found.

I once learned a song,
Many years ago.
Simply entitled,
Amazing grace.
How sweet the sound.

A song with a story.
Simply a man and his struggles.
A man simply once lost,
But, now found.
Amazing grace.

I am one who can relate,
To his plight, his dilemma.
For, I am a lost cause,
As many would say.
And, so his story,  became a reflection of me.

I’ve heard the whispers,
of those that pass by.
His best days are over.
Lost somewhere in the past.
Yet, grace so amazing passed me by.

Perhaps, I am lost.
As some would proclaim.
My best days are over,
Or so you would say.
Perhaps?  Perhaps not?

I am simply reminded,
That’s in only through loss,
That life can be found.
It’s often through loss,
The best is yet to come.

And, that is the simple message.
Amazing grace,
How sweet the sound.
I once was lost,
But, now I’m found.

Never give up,
when all seems lost,
For, it’s only though loss,
That grace can be found.
And, that is amazing.  HB

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Through the month of June

I haven’t shared too much recently, here or on any other site, although I’ve written so much over the past few months.  Words just haven’t seemed to come so easily.  My thoughts, when I go to write, just seem to be all over the place.  Perhaps,  a case of writer’s block?   I’m not quite sure, yet the month of June holds such a special place in my life, I wanted to write and share.  June has always brought with it a plethora of feelings, a wealth of emotion.  Sweet, at times, bittersweet at others.  Yet, June is a month of celebration.  A celebration of life.  A celebration of life that was.   A life that will always be.  A celebration of causes.  A celebration of humanity.

Over 40 years ago now, two very special, beautiful people entered my life.  Born two years apart, two days apart in June was my younger brother and sister.  I reflect back on our childhood, the beautiful times we shared, the laughter, the tears, and as brother’s and sister’s are known for, the fights.  Looking back, I cannot imagine what my life would have been like growing without you two.  And, I could not fathom what life would be like without you now.

It was on June 8, 1985, that one of the greatest men that I’ve ever known passed from this life.  Growing up as a young boy, we were inseparable.  If he was around, I was right there.  So many memories, and I’m so grateful to have known him, and spend so much time with him as I did.  I loved listening to his stories as he recounted his years as a boy, and growing up and then moving to Texas.  Stories that totally captured my heart, my imagination.  That man is my grandfather, Earl Eugene Bowen.  Simply known as Grandpa Jack.  I got to be with him the night that he passed, and I’ll never forget the peace that he had, the peace that I felt.  Yet, even in his passing, which was way too soon, I find his presence always lingers near, especially in the month of June.

It’s also in the month of June that we honor other great men in our lives, our Father’s.  And, in honoring my dad this Father’s day, I can only say I have the greatest father that a son could hope for.  You have brought so much into my life over the years.  Your love;  Your acceptance;  Your strength.  I am just simply proud and honored to call you dad.

When I think on the month of June, another celebration comes to mind.  June 19, 1865, also known as Juneteenth Day.  It was a day of celebration as the announcement was made in Galveston, Texas  that slavery in the US had come to an end.  Indeed, a day of celebration.  For me, it’s a celebration of equality, and that all men are truly created equal.  All men, including women, and children, regardless of status, skin color, sexual orientation, transgender,  or whatever the case may be.  Equality today should never be a fight, just as slavery then should have never been an institution.  We have come along way as a society, a nation, yet, there is still much work to be done.  But, one day, we will live in a world where truth will be self-evident as Thomas Jefferson declared, “That all men are created equal.”

Over the past few years, the month of June has brought on a whole new meaning for me.  A cause that has become very near and dear to me.  It was in June, 1981, that the Center for Disease Control first published the symptoms of this mysterious illness that we now know as HIV/AIDS.  And, thus, June is a month set aside to encourage all to be tested, with June 27th officially dubbed as National HIV testing day.  I will be writing more on this subject in the next few days, but, I encourage all to take some time out this month to know your status.   Knowledge is loving yourself.  Knowledge is loving others.  Knowledge is prevention.  Knowledge is simply life.  Join the movement to get to zero new infections.  HB

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Memorial Day 2015

0402151450-1Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day was originally observed as a day to commemorate those who lost their lives during the American Civil War.  Since then, many men and women have lost their lives in service of this great nation.
To me, Memorial Day is about greatness.  Sacrifice.  I can think of nothing greater than those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in giving their lives for this country.  That we may continue to enjoy the freedoms, the opportunities, the life that we know and love.  Simply to keep this great nation alive and it’s spirit strong.
Today, we salute and honor you.
Those who have paid the ultimate price.

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As Our Story Unfolds.

I somehow desire that the beginning of the story had been just as real as the end.   That the characters had somewhat been just as real.  Yet, what I’ve come to know, that in the beginning, or what may be considered the end, the story isn’t quite over.  The story is being told as it was meant to be.

With no exceptions, no climax, and no, “The End”.  The story of our lives as it continually unfolds.  Often without that fairy tale we think we deserve.  We simply are the main character, oftentimes, glancing from a distance.  We simply play our part, as the screenplay was written.

And, perhaps in “The End” we will find, that life that we lived;  A life of triumph.  Of tragedy.   A life of hope.  Of despair.  A life of love.  Of loss.  A life of trust.  Of betrayal.  A life of happiness.  Of pain.  And, so on.  That the story we are writing, that’s been written,  the story that’s real, is only the beginning.  And, whose to know, it maybe that story with the fairy tale ending.   HB

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