Unsolicited Preaching

This post may offend some of the more religiously inclined… this don’t bother me, just thought you should have a warning.

I officially have laryngitis – thanks Doc, I kind of figured that. I’ve been asked to refrain from talking, yelling or singing (My Doc has a sense of humor). This is hard to do really, the singing part… I don’t really yell often. Not talking is proving to be harder than i thought too, but I’ll get there. What the doctor didn’t say was laughing is bad too – when I laugh I seem to lose more of my voice… no no jokes damn you. Continue reading

Damaged Goods

I’ve talked a bit about EMDR therapy and today during therapy I cried… not bawling, just some tears. I can manage to hold back and just let tears fall, if I could stop that I would.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. We focus on the trauma and then either move your eyes or have other stimulation that uses both sides of your brain… I’m not describing it well here. ugh. Continue reading

Angry Gay Rant of the Day

I happen to be gay.

I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. I didn’t wake up one day and decide “hey let’s be ostracized and hated for the people we love” – I just have always been this way. I happen to like the way I am. Most people know I’m gay, I don’t hide the fact that I like men. I am not overly flamboyant or girlie nor do I wear lots of rainbows, dresses or sparkly clothing – neither do the men I like.

I am not the stereotypical gay male – most of us aren’t the characters you’ve come to know and love on TV or in movies – we’re just ordinary people who happen to love other ordinary people. Some of us ARE more fabulous than others but the same could be said about straights as well. We are all unique and we all have a right to love whom we want – gay or straight, male or female, binary or non-binary… love is love. Continue reading

The Root of the Problem

So back in November I had work done to prepare for two crowns – this was about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. I was in pretty serious pain – like 2 Advil and Tylenol like every four to six hours and even waking up in the middle of the night in pain and having to take more and go to bed. I was getting grumpier and grumpier – it wasn’t my best experience at the dentist (is there such a thing?).

I called after four days of this and they assured me since the teeth were next to one another it would likely be more painful for longer than normal… so I kept on keeping on.  But the holiday was approaching and even more importantly, my birthday, so I wanted to be able to end this nastiness. I called and got snippy with the dentist when they said there was nothing they could do – then they called shortly after to let me know my crowns had arrived and it might alleviate the issues if they were placed.

The dentist called me into his office and I was ready, damn ready for the pain to stop. I was in the chair, the dentist came in. Didn’t even look at my mouth but said “oh yeah, you likely need a root canal”. I took off work for him to tell me that WTF! I was pretty upset, maybe I was upset about the root canal thing too and it was helping to feed the fire cause after he told me “root canal” I started to hyperventilate, sweat and considered suicide (I kid you not, that’s what happens in my fucked up little mind). With the help of his staff I secured an appointment the 2nd of Dec… so after Thanksgiving :-(. I did manage to eat at Thanksgiving and enjoy myself but had lots of ibuprofen with me to help get through.

That night at my meeting I talked to my sponsor, I was really fearful about the root canal and made that clear. I also shared that I was mad at the dentist – he asked “cause you don’t know if you can trust him now?” and honestly that didn’t occur to me until that moment – I was all mad cause he wasted my time. It never occurred to me that he might have gone too deep or something and caused the damage, not sure if that’s how it works or not…

Root canal day came and I had the day off – I was pretty nervous and not sure if I would have the root canal done that day or not… was it just a consult or the real deal… also was it two root canals or just one… I tried not to think about anything about it for fear of panic attacks again. It was also a new place, a different dentist and that’s not at all comforting.

The new place was just down the road a bit, nice enough with cramped waiting room and many people. Is that good or bad? I can’t decide. I waited quite a while before a handsome step or two above a dentist showed put to take a look. They took more X-rays and said “Yep, looks bad, but we want to run a test first” He took this little stick thing and touched it to each of my teeth and told me to raise my hand when I felt it – first tooth raised my hand after a second, second tooth almost immediately and the third tooth didn’t feel at all… “Yep, that ones dead” he said. He then said he was going on the assumption the second tooth was just inflamed due to the other and he was only going to do one root canal.

They then put me in a different room and gave me some drugs. Told me to raise my hand if I felt anything, then they had me hold something to the roof of my mouth and that’s all I remember… until suddenly pain and I remembered to raise my hand. I had a dull ache. That was it… I guess they knocked me out and I probably signed something telling them they could but I don’t recall that 🙂 I went home with some pain meds and was uncomfortable most of the day.

So that was December 2nd and I had a few days of pain that was medicated mostly with ibuprofen, but the pain that woke me up at night and made me more irritable was not there. I had sensitivity to cold and hot and when I’d brush my teeth, but hey that’s avoidable. My regular dentist was called to put on my permanent crowns and the earliest I could get in was today – December 30th.

They shot me full of Novocaine and did some removing of temporary fillings from the root canal… I was still pretty sensitive even with the shots. But soon it was over and now I have two teeth in my mouth that feel really weird and they likely will for a while more.

me at the dentist

me at the dentist

I’m glad this part is over and the new year is upon us…. but I know already from the X-rays I’ll need at least one more crown in the coming year and with that comes the fear… sigh… oh well, I’ll worry (or try not to worry) about that then.

An Origin of Fear

When I was a lad growing up in Wisconsin I heard about the dentist – I don’t recall if I heard about it from my big sister or from the kids at school. They made it sound like the most unimaginable horror (they said it was a scary place with a mean man) one could encounter. A part of my wondered why we had to go to these places at all, it hardly seemed fair, what did we do to deserve such a thing?

What really stuck out in my mind was “The worst part is the needle they stick you with”.  My developing mind took that into consideration and I decided I’d avoid the worst part by just refusing to let them stick me with the needle. My logic was flawless – to avoid the worst part just refuse it. No one explained to me at that time that they were injecting a numbing agent into me so I wouldn’t feel the pain – and no one was going to convince me of that now, I know they’re just mean.

So there I was at the dentist refusing the needle that would hurt me. The dentist was flabbergasted – I just wouldn’t let him near me with it. He tried to reason with me but I wouldn’t have any of it, I knew it was a ploy. The dentist, in all his adult wisdom thought I’d change my mind as soon as the drilling started, seems logical right?

But I was living in fear, sure this hurt but the fear of the pain of the needle the “worst part” had me hang in there. I was in agony, no tears though…. this was a victory. When the dentist finished he told my mother I sat through things he’d seen grown man cry about with Novocaine – she didn’t understand why either and as a child it was hard to explain my logic to adults (they never seemed to understand).

Every visit to the dentist was the same – I’d refuse their needle and I’d get mad at them when they’d even put that peppermint cottontail in my mouth – I knew what that meant. Eventually the dentist got to know me and just didn’t even try. No screaming, no crying… just hold on tight to those arm rests and be ready to rip them out if need be. Isn’t it amazing what a kids brain can do?

When I was an adult, after years of going through that kind of pain regularly, I decided it wasn’t worth it at all. Alcohol was more important than the dentist at that point anyway, who cares what my teeth look like? That was until one wisdom tooth rotted and had to be pulled out – I still refused the Novocaine and the dentist thought I was nuts (new dentist) and I likely was.. but I made it through that too. (that guy pulled out that tooth with a pliers, I swear he did)

All this led to when I was living in DC and broke a tooth – I was pretty frightened at this point of the dentist and I’d talk about it at meetings and my body temperature would rise when I’d start to even think about going. A member of the program suggested a good dentist and I took a chance… this dentist was very calm, kind and convinced me to try the Novocaine… but not before I had several anxiety attacks could I be convinced. (it helped that he was pretty to look at too).

I’ve gotten better at this dentist thing. I have to constantly remind myself to lower my shoulders (they’re up to my ears), breathe and concentrate on something, anything else. I can sometimes meditate at the dentist, just calmly take myself out of the situation and truly relax… it’s crazy.

This Thursday morning I’m heading back to the dentist, I need two crowns (old fillings are cracking and breaking my teeth). So I’ll go and remember all my tricks and let them give me anything they want for the pain… and I honestly think I’ll likely be at work after it’s done.

I’m not living in that fear anymore – I’m free of it. (although the co-worker who had a root canal and developed an infection last week kind of freaks me out…but I can get through that too…

Hiding in Plain Sight

*I don’t speak for AA*

I attended a Grapevine writing workshop in Tucson two weekends ago – the area GVR told me about it and I figured it was the least I could do as the GVR for the home group. They wanted people there who had been published in the Grapevine to share their experience with that entire process. I met five other published authors there and we all brought copies of our stories to share with the workshop. There were funny stories, tragic stories and ones that taught valuable lessons about growth. The panelists were asked to share one of their stories with the group and how that all worked – all of us did so and were met with approval until the last person shared….

Instead of reading her story and sharing on it she opted to step on a soapbox regarding anonymity. She let us know her feelings on the dangers of being too open on Facebook, too open in general and her fears about the future of AA. Sadly – most of the questions from the workshop then went to that topic instead of writing and sharing experience, strength and hope.

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Dayton, OH. AA Members – 1942 Members donned masks to protect their anonymity

Continue reading

Step 5 – Exact Nature of My Wrongs

I shared my inventory with my sponsor tonight – I think this is the fourth time I’ve done a 5th step in 20 years. I was raised in AA that, or at least I heard, we do one 4th step and any other inventory is covered in step 10 – this could bring about a ton of debate about what’s right or what’s wrong, suffice to say I can’t go back and change any of that, and it worked for me…. until it didn’t.

The first time was at RTC, a treatment center in LaCrosse WI. They had me fill out some booklet of questions about the worst things I had done or something along those lines, I didn’t really understand it and when it was time to share (Step 5) the religious minister/priest whatever they had come listen to it with me wasn’t all that engaged with me. He said when I was done “Is that it? Do you feel better now?” and that was my 5th step. I didn’t feel better, was still pretty confused and wasn’t at all comfortable with the robe wearing guy. Continue reading

Coming Out and Coming to Terms with Me

A friends brother came out recently after many years of being closeted and she wanted to talk to me about how that kind of thing can happen… so I wrote this long email to her and decided I should put it here too.

Long before I had any notion of what it meant to be gay I found men attractive (especially bearded, hairy men). When I’d play with my superhero figures it was usually Batman and Superman that were kissing – Wonder Woman was nowhere to be found, it could be that I didn’t have Wonder Woman… who would buy a boy Wonder Woman in the 70s? We were actually pretty poor and I don’t recall having Superman and Batman dolls so that was all in my imagination… so I could have thought of Wonder Woman, but she didn’t come up.

It didn’t take long to see how homosexuals were portrayed on TV and in movies and even though I couldn’t identify as one yet, I was suddenly much more aware of how limp my wrist was or how I walked, talked and dressed, I’d seen the way other people (my parents, TV stars, school kids) talked about gay people and I didn’t want them to talk about me like that so I was very careful at a very young age to not show too many signs… lol, seems silly to me now. Elementary school and high school gym class and shower rooms were very uncomfortable and i would get out of there as soon as possible, not looking at anything because I knew I might get excited and then I’d be discovered, the worst were the gym teachers and coaches – with their hairy arms and full bodies… just don’t look, just don’t look.

When I was around 12 or 13 an adult friend of my mother seduced me and took me – and several other kids in our small town – as his own for his pleasure. That was more secretive than being gay and exciting too. Finally the things I couldn’t really put into words or thoughts in my head were happening and it felt good but it felt bad too and it was a struggle to get through with that. It didn’t help that at that point I didn’t have any positive male figures in my life, all my mothers husbands beat her and were drunk no one I wanted to be like. This was the first time I had been loved, that I could tell, by another man.

When the adult that molested me was caught they sent us to therapy, in the 80s at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, what I heard the therapist say was “if you enjoyed any of that than your a sick pervert too and will catch AIDS and die…” again, that’s what I heard what he actually said might have been something very different. But it did instill in me again this feeling that I WAS WRONG, not that there was something wrong with me but I was completely wrong.

When I was seeing a therapist while in my foster home I was honest with him about my feeling towards other guys and explained I could only get off thinking about guys… he suggested that that was a learned behavior and could be changed… if I wanted to I could imagine cars when I was beating off and after enough time that would change, I was desperate to be normal and not “get AIDS and die” … sadly, thinking about girls, or cars… didn’t seem to do it for me… and wasn’t satisfying, so I gave up.

Outside of the molestation, I didn’t have sex with anyone until I was 19 or 20. My friends convinced me I had to have sex with a girl so that happened.. but I honestly had to think about a man to perform. It wasn’t enjoyable, it didn’t feel right and it wasn’t something I ever wanted to do again… but my friends were excited for me, I felt they accepted me a little bit more now that I was normal…

During my first drug and alcohol treatment I discussed my gay thoughts and feelings about it with my counselor… who suggested I might be gay… which I didn’t like very much. How dare he say such a thing! Even though I’d been fighting that very thought for years in my own head. But the thought stuck there and I started to give in – I was a doomed homosexual and the world would hate me.. and the “God” of my understanding was going to condemn me to hell because of something I didn’t have a say about.

After that treatment, when I was drinking again, a friend offered to let me see if I was really gay by having sex with him… he wasn’t “gay” of course, just doing a favor for a friend… It wasn’t really an enjoyable experience, but he wasn’t exactly my type either. So I didn’t repeat that experiment and it didn’t answer any of my questions about myself really.

After my second (and hopefully last) treatment visit I decided I was gay, but I didn’t have to act on it… so at night I’d pleasure myself and then ask “God” as I understood him, to forgive me for being a monster… every night, again and again…

At that time, the mid 90s, the internet was pretty new so there weren’t the massive amounts of gay sites there are now… so I did this Phone Bank thing where you could listen to guys on voicemail like things and then hook up… the closest city was Minneapolis/St Paul and I found a guy that I was interested in base mostly on his voice – he didn’t sound “gay”. I told my two best friends I was going to my Ma and I told my Ma that I was going to a conference – this is me in early AA lying… even though I know I have to be honest about everything to stay sober… and I went up to the Twin Cities and had the best time ever with this guy who was very patient, gentle, understanding and virile… OMG VIRILE, insatiable event. Then I was being destroyed by the lie… I felt so horrible for the lie but felt so right about what I had done… it was so conflicting, so I told my two best friends that I lied to them and told them the truth about me, which they knew anyway, but it felt better to be honest.

one of those two best friends was moving to Washington DC and told me that I had to come with “Eau Claire WI is no place for a gay boy to be” and I jumped at the chance, but mostly to get out of WI, it wasn’t about exploring being gay at all. When I told my co-workers I had to tell them something (that I was leaving) one of them said “You’d better not be coming out, you fucking faggots all need to die”

When I did get to DC it was amazing: guys were holding hands with one another ON THE STREET, for that matter, there were other races and some of them were holding hands with other races and some of them were gay or lesbian… I didn’t know what the hell was going on… it was so cool but I didn’t think you could do those things…

Shortly after moving there I was walking down 17th street, minding my own business and a car of a bunch of kids drove by and tossed a half-full beer can at me yelling “fucking faggot”… so there was that, this hatred of me for being me was everywhere not just in my head or in small town America, even in our nations capital.

I learned more and more about gay people and our history the longer I was in DC. I became more and more comfortable with myself the more I let myself… I came out to my entire family (loved ones) via an email on National Coming Out Day in 1998… and later that year I came out to my mother by wearing a t-shirt that said something clever like “my boyfriends mother doesn’t know I’m gay” or some such… she was not amused 😉

I’m a typical gay man, because I happen to like having sex with other gay men… but in other senses I’m not a typical gay man. I don’t care about the Tony Awards or Liza Minnelli, I’m not a fan of drag shows or say “fabulous” a lot… but not all straight people like NASCAR or Fox News or find Rhiana attractive… I’m an individual who finally came to terms with being who I am after much trial and error. Are there still times I feel hated by others? sure. Are there times I hate myself? not so much anymore. I think I’m fortunate to live in these times when people start to realize that there are more than one kind of love, more than one kind of relationship in the world… To come out today with all the wonderful things happening for gay people … well it would have been a great time to get to know myself… but I wouldn’t trade the struggles I had for an easier softer way, those struggles shaped me into the man I have become and I like him… I wouldn’t date him, not my type at all 😀

Periodontist – a.k.a. Dr. Evil

This afternoon I’m having minor surgery on my mouth. Apparently years of not taking care of your teeth can lead to fun later on in life – or maybe this is just a result of growing old… although I don’t recall any old people in recent memory talking about a periodontist cutting into their gums and filling in a space that has formed between the root and the bone. Bone loss, I was told – sounds wonderful. I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen, the Periodontist started to tell me and then I started to get nauseous (see this post to see how I am) so I asked him to stop and just give me the basics:

  • How long will it take?
  • Will it hurt?
  • How long is the recovery process?
  • Will I be able to walk home?

I really did ask all those questions and the only answer I remember is Yes, I’ll be able to walk home. I know they’ll give me an anesthetic and maybe some laughing gas.  I know once I’m in the chair I plan to close my eyes and try not to be present.

Gary has agreed to pick me up and manage the pain medication – that’s really the scariest part – Vicodin. I don’t think I’ve ever had any medication that was stronger than Tylenol or Advil – never had a need. Perhaps as we get older and have to maintain our failing bodies we need medication that we wouldn’t otherwise. But I’ve heard story after story of members of AA that relapsed and it started with a pain medication that they were given after a surgery, yeah, I don’t need that to happen.

Yesterday at the end of my meeting they asked if anyone had any burning desires, something that you needed to share because otherwise you feared you might get drunk. I didn’t think that I might get drunk, but I did think I’d heard many people talk about upcoming surgeries or events that they were worried about. But I thought to myself that I’m certainly not that person… I remember a time or two when someone’s burning desire was that they were having a birthday party that weekend or they wanted to whine about the subject they’d been whining about for over a year – yeah, no I don’t have a burning desire so I didn’t share about it. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a meeting where someone had a burning desire that was about wanting to drink… interesting.

Thankfully I have tomorrow off in case I need it and the boss will be in New York dealing with the never ending project. Suzanne says I’ll be fine, Gary promises to manage the medication, Jason says I have a healthy fear of relapse/drinking… Well, none of this really makes me feel better but it’s good to know that I have people thinking about me today I guess.

So anyway, this afternoon I’ll be a mess – then I’ll have surgery and be a disaster.

Dreaded Dentist

A small cavity had me at the dentist this morning, the decay was located on my lower right wisdom tooth. Going to the dentist for a cleaning is a stressful situation for me so going when I have to have a cavity filled is even worse.

I arrived 10 minutes early in case they could get me out of there sooner, sadly I was there until 10:25 (25 minutes after my scheduled appointment) waiting and letting fear get the better of me. I imagine every conceivable and inconceivable scenario that can possibly go through my mind – they’ll need to do an emergency root canal, maybe they’ll have to pull out all my teeth after discovering a rare form of mouth cancer, perhaps this batch of Novocaine is faulty and it doesn’t dull pain but enhances it… yes, my mind goes to all those places for the entire 25 minutes.

The Dentists office has several dentists working there and dentists that I become accustomed to leave right when I’ve gotten used to them – Is it my breath? So this current dentist I’ve only seen once and that was the week before, she seems nice, but like all dentists, is an evil monster who thrives on causing others pain. That smile, it’s only in anticipation of hearing a patient scream. I remind her that I usually get nitrous oxide when I’m at the dentist and she didn’t know that so I had to sit in the chair longer while they prepared the gas. This is not a good sign, they haven’t read my chart and know how fearful this event is for me – it reminds me of the last time I had a cavity and a new dentist was there and he was talking about my root canal – I wasn’t there for a root canal so I freaked out a bit and had one of my anxiety attacks – never saw that guy again fortunately.

They give me the gas, I breathe in and out in deep full breaths. I picture a nice ocean front beach with blue water, palm trees and serenity – I can’t concentrate on that for long though, before I know it I’m anticipating pain again and then the sweat starts to roll off my body in all places conceivable – it’s possible I sweat more in the dentists chair then I do at the gym – ok, not really, but it all pools into the lower half of my body and it’s icky. My heart is racing pretty quickly even with the gas when she arrives to puncture me with a needle that makes the right side of my head feel heavy and tingly in places. The gas has started to affect my legs and they are numb – I think to myself, stupid gas my legs don’t need to be numb my head does get up here!

The dentists female assistant suddenly leaves and is replaced by a male assistant and this is another thing that worries me – was what they were about to perform in my mouth to gross for the female assistant to witness? Again… Is it my breath?

The dentist informs me that they are going to start and stuffs huge balls of cotton in my mouth and reminds me to continue to breath through my nose so I can continue receiving the nitrous oxide, I gladly obliged and am starting to feel fine – then I hear the drill.

This entire time I’ve had a tight grasp on the arm rests and when the drill kicks in I squeeze a little tighter. The dentist instructs me to raise my hand if they need to stop – like I could suddenly make my hands release their death grip on the chair and lift up in the air in a panic – yeah, that’s very likely to happen. I’ve also not opened my eyes since I sat back in the chair, I know they’ll be grinning evilly and their instruments of pain will be dripping with blood and enamel.

I’m actually doing ok for a while then they hurt me and I cringe, but I think it’s going to be ok it was just a minor pain – then they hurt me twice more in rapid succession and my body squirms all over the chair. The sweat pouring off my body has tripled and my breathing is more panting then anything else. She stops and they pretend to be concerned for my welfare, but I imagine they’re giggling up a storm and savoring the pain that is evident on my face. They give me another shot of Novocaine and we wait for a few minutes for it to take effect. The dental assistant uses one of their tools to blow air on my face and I start to relax again.

Shortly thereafter they finish up and the dentist asks me to bite down – after doing so she asks if that “feels normal” I try to tell her that I have no idea if it “feels normal” the entire right side of my head is numb, how should I know…

As I approach the counter to pay my co-pay the receptionist person asks “How was your visit?”