Gratitude – I’ve Succumb to Peer Pressure

There’s a lot of this gratitude stuff going around, it happens every year at this time. It can get quite sickening after a while (yes, yes, we’ve reached that point), especially when people are posting a “gratitude” of the day post on Facebook. Talk about making a guy want to vomit – at least it helps to maintain the waistline each time I do. I do actually have a lot to complain about – see previous blogs – but I’ll take a little time here to tell you the people, places and things I am grateful for.

First, I’m extremely lucky to have a family that is beyond amazing. You may think your family is the cats meow, but let me be the first to tell you how wrong you are. My family is quite big, mostly because I keep adding special people to it, why on earth would you keep those people that mean so much out of your family circle – yeah, I know we’re not supposed to choose our family, but I do anyway.

Blood Relatives: Dawn, Ryan and Amy and I actually spent some time with them this summer. I also saw all three of my nieces (Samantha, Tabatha and Joplin) too.

Amy, me, Dawn and Ryan

Amy, me, Dawn and Ryan

We really don’t look much different to my eyes than we did 30 years ago – maybe a few more tattoos or piercings and less hair for me, but I’ll always see us as we were on a Wisconsin summer day, in shorts, running around on Elm St without a care in the world.

My Foster Family: Ma, Pa (miss you Pa), Kenny (and Sheila), Rhonda (and Greg) Michael (and Michelle), Jeremiah, Cory (and Danielle) and my two great-nephews Charlie and Patrick. I spent  a few days at home this summer and really had a nice time. It’s great to go home and deal with all the chaos that is the Trempealeau County Fair Demolition Derby…

newborn Patrick, Danielle and Charlie

Charlie - all ready to go

some people (I wont mention names) yell at me when I post photos of them online – so I wont put up photos of others beside the two great nephews and their Mom. Charlie is one of the smartest kids I’ve ever encountered – and blond so it’s like a genetic flaw. 🙂

Adopted Family Members: Suzanne, Paul and Farley; Pat, Brenda, Helen, Scooter, Sami, Maui and PePe; Gary; Jim, Ana, Lisa and the rest of the DiLuigi clan. Though I only really see Jim and Gary daily all of these folks are close enough to me to be family.

My Boss, my Friend - Jim

Pat and Brenda - sneaking out without Helen

I really have the best job and that I get to work with such a great friend, there’s something to be thankful for.

me and Ana on our road trip

Every Wednesday night (well, sometimes we have to do a different day) I talk to my friend Pat on the phone.

I wish my best friend Suzanne lived closer and this Thanksgiving I’m not spending it with her so it’ll be a sadder holiday than normal. I’m sure she and Paul will have a great celebration together.

Suzanne and Farley - at the beach

Gary, my roommate, my friend

And Farley, of course.

Lisa

Friends: I have all kinds of friends and met some of them for the first time in real life recently – yes, that sounds odd. I went to Winnipeg to meet some friends that I’d played World of Warcraft with for years. That was really cool. I have friends from high school, two of which I’ll spend Thanksgiving with this year. Friends from AA, friends old and new.

Grokus, Noq and Salthair

Folks from regular Sunday Breakfast at Annie's

Health The cholesterol is down, the weight is down – I still hate the gym…. I’m still not a smoker, nor a drinker or a drug user. So life’s ok.

Aren't I adorable?

Mouse my little Princess, she’s a handful and usually doesn’t sleep through the night – which means she needs love and attention at 3 or 4 a.m…. but I still love her.

Birthdays And Birthdays… I’m really incredibly happy that in a few more days I’ll be somewhere warm and sunny… that’ll make all this sappy crap worth it.

 

 

I usually come off a a curmudgeon, and I like it that way so don’t expect cheery happy crap from me on a regular basis.

Tina and I did a Spa Day!

Brien and Michelle came to visit

AA Traditions

On a recent trip to Winnipeg I stopped at a noon AA meeting at their central office. It was a textbook AA meeting, most of the chairs were filled with people of every description and ethnicity and the coffee was nasty. 🙂 I was recognized as someone who hadn’t been there before almost immediately, which leads me to believe they have a great number of regulars and that’s a good sign at a meeting. Before the meeting began discussions started about where I lived and went to meetings and I heard where others were originally from or where they got sober and such.

One gentleman with a thick Irish accent asked me what prayer we use to start the meetings in Washington (this Winnipeg group started with the Serenity Prayer). I told him my regular meetings start with the AA Preamble and close with both the Lord’s Prayer and the Serenity Prayer.  That seemed to get everyone’s attention in the room as they found that odd. I think it’s easy to forget that each group is autonomous when we don’t get outside our regular groups and see that meetings are run differently pretty much everywhere – or places where they don’t study or read the traditions, but enough about Washington DC.

Tradition Four “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.”

You never know what kind of traditions a meeting will have when you go to it the first time. I’ve been to meetings where people count out loud when “How It Works” is read, the first time that happened I burst out laughing it was so foreign to me. Other meetings where every person in the room introduces themselves by first name and sobriety date, others that read the Twelve Steps and Traditions, some that read the Responsibility Statement, some that read the beginnings of one of the Chapters in the Big Book followed by the 12 Steps (My old home group the Northside Group in Eau Claire WI does that, freaked me out the first few times, but I was new so everything pretty much freaked me out the first few times.).

The first time I attended the Eau Claire Pacific Group and heard all the “ooohing,” “aaahhing” and clapping I knew they were doing it wrong. AA is supposed to be a bunch of old boring sticks in the mud, these people are doing it wrong. But what happened in that group to me, and to others, was we were shown the enthusiasm and joy that can be a part of recovery and it made the difference for a lot of us. At almost any meeting I attend I always expect the opening statement from this meeting to be read… I don’t have a copy and couldn’t quote it here but it was a regular part of my life every Thursday for about four years and it gets stuck in your head you know.

The Northside Group and some other meetings in Eau Claire always read the Twelve Traditions (something I almost never here on the East Coast) and “The A.A. Tradition” found at the beginning of Appendix I in the back of the book (Page 563 in the Second Edition) and when I’m out traveling and hear that at a meeting it’s almost like I’ve come home.

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to go to a meeting in Nashville, TN the “Back Room Group”, a 12×12 meeting. As I walked in I saw that most people had brought their own 12x12s, pencils/pens and highlighters. I knew immediately it was going to be a good meeting and it really really was, those folks knew AA. When I’ve brought along my own literature to meetings on some occasions folks have gotten upset during the meeting that I’m highlighting or writing down – they think it’s the clubs book.

Each group can do it’s own thing and I’ve seen lots of different things out there, but in the heart of the meeting as long as we’re there to help other alcoholics and how we spread the message doesn’t affect other groups or AA as a whole – then it’s all good. But I’ll always be partial to the meetings I went to in the beginning that spread the foundation of my recovery and I’ll always do my best to help others build theirs.

Finding a Safe Harbor for Children

Last night on Twitter I saw more than a few tweets asking “is no place  safe to leave children with adults alone”. These questions came out in response to the Penn State Scandal where a respected coach was preying on young boys and the firings as a result.

The answer to the question of “is no place safe to leave children with adults alone” is probably no. Not as we currently function as a society anyway. There are monsters and predators in all walks of life that have every job imaginable, we can focus on the ones in the churches and the schools but children are taken advantage of every day by people in all different fields of work.

As a victim – I hate that word so lets start over.

As someone who was sexually molested when I was younger I was thinking last night what could have prevented it from happening? Was there something my parents could have said or done to keep me safe? Would it have been better if I’d been secluded from others for all of my growing years so I couldn’t get hurt? Was there a magic word that wasn’t uttered? a prayer? None of those things would have mattered. Some parents are child predators, some relatives, and keeping me locked away from the rest of the world would only serve to make me that more vulnerable when I was released.

What might have helped, and I’m just speculating on hindsight here, is a better understanding of sex. That sounds a bit out there I know, but when I was molested I hadn’t even had “health education” class yet and the only things I knew about sex were from the photos I saw in some dirty magazines one of my Mom’s friends or an uncle had in the basement (none of which were male on male sex). I was completely ignorant about all of it so when it was happening at the beginning I was mostly just confused. Pedophiles are very good at convincing the child of a few things, some work by coercion some by seduction, but they all get what they want out of it – the innocence of the child.

For me, I was conned into thinking he actually loved me and that’s why he wanted to do those things to me. It never occurred to me that if he loved only me why was he doing it to the other 15 boys in town. He was smart, after the first night he fondled me, before working up to more sexual things he had a cover story that he fed my Mom that she bought – in her defense it was a pretty good story – and I was there when he told her and had learned early on that I wasn’t to contradict adults.

I’ve digressed here a bit I think. I’m not a parent, but things that might have helped me I’ll list below.

I think if we want to have our children be safer out there in a world with monsters we need to talk to them more about sex earlier – let them know we’re open to talk with them about anything weird that’s going on. Let them know that any naked secrets are bad secrets and any time they feel uncomfortable they should feel free to talk to us. We need to communicate with them and understand what’s going on in their world regularly. I don’t think kids should be left alone with an adult for a long period of time or at several different times over a long period. Children shouldn’t spend the majority of their free time with someone older than them.

We also need adults that don’t turn a blind eye when a question is raised. Just because that person is from the military, church, school, or hospital doesn’t make them incapable of doing horrible things. If your kids pull away, start acting differently, bring up reasons to not hang out with someone – there might be something deeper there.

What happened to me and has happened to millions of other kids in the world doesn’t have to happen. But if it does happen, those kids need real heroes to be there and stop the monsters. Be a real hero.

Resources:

Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline  1-800-4-A-CHILD

Child Abuse Prevention Association: http://www.childabuseprevention.org/

National Child Abuse Hotlines: http://reportchildabusenow.com/

Adult Survivors of Child Abuse: http://www.ascasupport.org/

Dream Date

Last night I slept the entire night right up to the point where the alarm clock started it’s insistent beeping at me. The cat was even kind enough to let me sleep, it was a miracle… someone call the Vatican. I also remembered my dreams, at least one of them – which is not always the case.

I had a boyfriend (yes, this is how we can tell it’s a dream). A nice boyfriend (this is how we know I was still feverish from the flu). Mystery boyfriend, who unfortunately kept his clothes on during the dream, didn’t appear to be my type at all. Not just because he was nice, though that’s a big indicator, but because his physical characteristics (skinny, clean shaven, smiling) weren’t what I normally look for in a guy.

In the dream we interacted with my family, read comics books and took a long walk before sitting together in the family room snuggled up together. It was peaceful and pleasing. I was really having a nice time with the guy and everyone seemed to like him – not that that should matter at all, but it does I guess.

Kind of a pointless story I know. “Jamez had a dream, film at 11”.

I think it kind of reawakened the idea of having someone in my life again. I had written that off recently and wasn’t sure I was at all interested in pursuing anything that would last more than a night… or two minutes, how ever long he lasted. I don’t want to get married tomorrow, next month or next year – but I wouldn’t mind having someone to lean against in a movie theater, coffee house or in the pool.

It was just a dream though, I’ll probably die an old spinster.