Dave cancelling on me, my trip to P’town was like a punch in the stomach. I have tolerated a lot of his eratic and irresponsible behavior over the years, but this really crossed the line. His life is as out of control as ever. It never gets better. I feel like I have been betrayed oe time too deeply.
And it leaves me feeling all the powerlessness of my life situation. I can’t make people like me or befriend me or hare their confidences with me. I feel very alone and isolated. And I see no way out of this. It seems like I am doomed to alife of poverty trapped in this small radius for as long as my car works. And then I’ll be royally fucked when my car dies.
And so, the answer, after crying tears of frustration and disappointment and fear is to turn back to The Program. For the last few days that passage has been rumbling around in my head. And I finally looked it up this morning. When I finally can’t take the frustration and fear and disappointment and bitterness any more, there is always a release.
In the story “Acceptance Was the Answer,” which was on page 449 on the Third Edition and is now on page 417 in the Fourth Edition of the Big Book we find: “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place , thing or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”
There is another passage I cannot lay my hands on where the author talks about his magical looking glass. Like a pair of binoculars when he looks through the lens with a negative mind set the problems grow worse and worse; when he looks through the lens with a positive attitude the problems diminish and life looks good, better and better.
So AA developed at the time of positive psychology and Dale Carnegie and participates in some of the pop psychology of the era, that thinking positive thoughts creates a positive reality. It also taps into very deep and ancient spiritual truths about this.
When things seem darkest it always pays off to reach to some inspirational literature from AA and reframe it all as a recovering alcoholic. Sometimes I think of my childhood in East Syracuse when I lived in a four-family house and was surrounded by my cousins. My cousin Dave was my best friend. Our cousin Danny was a part of the gang, and other cousins sometimes joined in for board games or rough-housing or exploring the used car lot behind our house. Even with the fear introduced by my cousin Jimmy (Dave’s oldest brother), who incested me, it was a time of innocence and no clue of what the outside world would hold n sort for me. My Aunt Mona would say and my mother would echo her, sayig “You’re going to grow up to have a miserable life.” I had no idea what they were seeing in me and I just found it very annoying and stupid. But they must have been seeing something in me. I know later in life my mother told me she and my dad had figured out I was homosexual by the time I was five. I suspect this is what they were envisioning me being gay in a hostile and dangerous 1950s world. I was five in 1958. The Fiftis were a horrid time for nonconformists of every sort.
In was 10 in 1963 when my parents yanked me out of my rich world and moved us to Preble. I always resented that and we remained outsiders in Preble for the 6 ½ years we lived there, my formative teenage years. I feel like I am back in the Preble environment now that I am in McGraw. But back than I read a lot, I had school, I played in the band, I had a best friend and lover Phil Wetmore with whom I did everything. It was just the two of us as an inseparable pair. Phil’s older brother called us pansies, and he wasn’t wrong. Our 12-year-olds’ friendship was evidently more than us test friends, obvious to the adults n our world. But no one ever said anything about it otherwise. I had the Boy Scouts with Phil ad we went camping and hiking a lot. Phil and I used to go camping up on the hill along Route 11 at the foot of Preble Road. We would play games I the woods, take out clothes off and play sex games with each other. It was all somehow very innocent. It was our private life together. I had Phil for companionship and I had my home activities. I also collected tamps and had a couple dozen penpals during those teenage years. And I wrote very, very long letters. Gods know what I had to go on about, details of life in Preble and how wonderful America was.
We have discussed how we would likely have ended up like Brokeback Mountain staying in Cortland County and working for Smith-Corona, and me becoming an alcoholic, like Phils’ dad—if we had been born a generation earlier. I wonder if we would have lived together somewhere in Cortland County together. And now Phil has been married, closeted, had two girls, and gotten divorced and met up with his life partner Lee. They live I Houston, where Phil is now retired from teaching elementary school. They are coming to Preble to get married this September. I have been invited to the wedding, and I feel rather mixed about it all. Somehow it seems it should by rights be me marrying Phil in 2014. But our lives moved in very different directions and we are still friends by virtue of our shared past, not by anything we have in common today. It’s like being long-time family members.
The happiest time in my life were my years in Tübingen, with my first life companion/lover Denny Anderson. We lived a charmed life both involved with the university. Denny taught American Studies and I was a graduate student. We had a wonderful, warm, close circle of friends, mostly fellow expatriates and American fans. Our communal lives centered around music and drinking fine wines and smoking hash, and exploring Tübingen and environs. We were all coupled and Denny and I were the token gay couple at the center of the circle. We had parties and gathering at our lovely apartment all the time. We’d drive down to Ofterdingen and to hang out with Hel [German] and Barb [American] Bredigkeit, smoke hash and listen to music. And a Sunday night ritual was watching Tatort (Crime Scene),a police drama that has been on German TV for forty years and is still going strong. When I was getting DWTV and the German-language TV package on DISH satellite TV a few years ago I was back watching reruns of Tatort, in Fitchburg, in San Francisco, and in Eureka. It was an umbilical cord that tied me back to the reality of Tübingen days.
I was young and full of fire. I was very passionate abut left-wig gay politics and was involved with the iht, the local gay activist group. I had my circle of gay friends. I also went to the gay Pub 13 almost every night, usually ith Denny. And I often went home with whoever I could pick up. I had tons of sex, and gave no thought to how it might be affecting Denny. I lived in a fool’s paradise. But he was very tolerant and forgiving. And I was something of a trophy boyfriend, so my indiscretions were overlooked. I was the handsome young thing on Denny’s arm outside out close circle of friends.
I worked out and swam a kilometer very morning at the university pool, a morning ritual Denny and I did together. I was in excellent shape. After visiting the US in 1976 and going to a gay disco in Minneapolis I was horrified to realize I had a beer gut and everyone n the US had gym-trim bodies. I turned myself into a US clone when we got back to Germany. I could only get me waist down to 29” because that was the diameter of my hip bones. I had a swimmer’s grim boy with muscular upper body fro years of swimming. (I swam starting in Preble days.) I was definitely one of the hottest gay men in all of Tübingen, and a little vain and arrogant about it, in retrospect. I had no problem turning tricks. No one ever turned me down, In fact, I ad to fight the guys off at times. I certainly seemed to be living a charmed life and loved every minute of it, even as the dark shadow of unacknowledged alcoholism screwed things up at times. After all, I was just a heavy drinker.
Denny was twelve years older than me and was finishing up his PhD when we first met in Würzburg, the year before we moved together to Tübingen. I was a senior at Albany State and on my second year of study abroad at the University of Würzburg when we met. That was not much of a fun year. The best thing that came out of it was that I came roaring out of the gay closet and I met Denny, who had been y German teacher in summer prep school before the academic year started. He was a huge Bob Dylan fan and loved country and western music, especially the old=time stuff he had grown up listening to o the radio in Minnesota. He was a hobby folk musicologist and we went to a folk music club in Würburg frequently to listen to folk music from all over, a surprising amount from the US, a few blocks from our apartment in downtown Wurzburg. We also went tot eh movies. There was an art house theater not far from our pace and we saw international movies in the original with German subtitles. I saw a lot of Ingmar Bergman, and I remember seeing the Marx Brothers in German for the first time.
Anyway, I think of the wonderful times in my past and get very homesick for the life I once had. What I rally miss is having another Phil Wetmore in my life today. I think I could handle living in cow country if I had a partner, to form a twosome with and do stuff with. I am so lonely. And I am mostly resentful at Dave because I got cut off for the companionship I was looking to renew with him in P’town this weekend.
My sister is no boon companion. But at least when she is around the house is not empty.
So how do I accept everything as it is today? I live in my head a lot. I dwell less on the past the lnger I am here. I never thought I’d end up back in Cortland County. But I am not at the end of the rod yet. Who knows what is still in store for me? My therapist Emily is impressed at how much effort I put into circulating and reaching out and trying and trying to connect. Time takes time, as they say in local AA.