Monday, March 20, 2006

Money, wealth and the madness of life

Growing up in a world that judges itself on how much money you have and how big of a house you live in and the "wealth" you have accumulated in time, is sometimes detrimental to the development of children. Freddie writes in his Philly Gay Calendar page today about the problem called "Fabulously Poor."

This is a problem which, I think translates universally. But more to the point for gay men, respectively. Growing up in a gay world of today must be harder than when I was growing up, because being gay is a community event these days, back when I was growing up, it was hit and miss. The only time you saw community was at the local watering hole or at the beach or on Lincoln Road - that was then, this is now. These days I am a very sedate and married man who does not need the adulation of the crowds at weekend nightclub events, I see my friends at school and in church and also I see my friends at meetings and at the odd meal or coffee roundup.

There really wasn't a time when I needed haute coture clothing, I was never the style maven. I always dressed comfortably, you see, I was an addict and an alcoholic. I could not see spending money on anything other than my addictions. God, not have money for a Friday night with the "girls" heaven forbid. In my world, growing into my manhood, I knew what my "ASS-sets" were. My abily to be lively and flexible to a degree is something I'd rather like to forget. Add to that in my world a cast-iron liver was a necessity. It's a wonder I never was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, that killed my paternal grandfather when I was a teenager.

Men were judged on the amount of money you could thrown down any given night, who you invited into your drinking circle and how much liquor you could embibe. I did not do drugs until the end of my addictive career, so that did not play into my "funds" at all. Drugs were too expensive, and I'd rather spend that cash on alcohol and good times. I did not start "Using" until my slip in 1999.

I hurt alot of people in this little social experiment. I hurt myself. I still have regrets and one is a constant reminder when I think about it, I will never live down the pain I caused a very good friend of mine, she got sober a few years before I did. It was like the "Days of wine and roses" for me, (that was on TV last night) now that I am thinking about it.

Alot of shit went down amid the haze of alcoholism. Like I told Freddie, "addiction and disease are truly catastrophic means to an end." I had hit both bottoms at the same time. In today's day and age, and this speaks to the years just prior to my "coming back" that what you wore, what you drove, what you drank and who you knew and what you looked like was more important than the person stuck inside this drama and trauma. Living in South Beach was a futile effort at self abuse by every extreme. Tanning salons, the beach, good hair and makeup, designer drugs, alcohol and clothing, and God, Saturday night at Salvation, ripped, tanned and Godlike in stature was the necessary goal of every gay mans weekly roundup. If you were not buff, cut and buzzed on ecstasy then you were a nobody. ( I was a nobody) when the light came up in the morning. It got old, and I "came back around" for the second time in 2001. I was sick and tired of the bullshit gay gaymes every week in and week out. I was just too fucking tired to play the social game. Not to mention addiction does a number on ones T-Cells and Viral load. UGH!!!

It's a wonder I did not die from the abuse I laid on my body!!

Someone up there must really like me...

Gay boys are sometimes so starved for affection and love that they will go to the ends of the earth to attract Mr. Right now, because Mr. Right has illuded them for so long. And I am not the poster boy for great relations, but I have worked on that these last 5 years. Without proper role models we are left to our own devices to make our ways into the world. Rent, food, medication and self care are thrown to the wayside in order that we "Look good" for the all important Saturday night out at the club and that most important Sunday Brunch, after the buzz and high has dropped off.

We are a culture of spenders and cheap thrillers, the I want it now at "any cost-ers," in order that I might feel the greatest high I can - fuck the fact that I have to work tomorrow, my rent is three days late and they've turned off my cable again, because I could not pay the bill this month...

I can tell you that finances are the most DIFFICULT endeavor, even today. My hubby and I have worked very hard at making and building a home. We are better at it today than we were when we first met. I can honestly tell you that there are still times when we count and pinch pennies. We still have a hard time paying bills, tuition and buying food at the same time. And we don't live on the material plane. Recovery does that too you. So does disease. After you hit the bottom of the barrel there is no other way but UP.

People do not see the forest for the trees until they are in the thick of the forest, THEN they MIGHT get enlightened, but alas, most do not. They start back up doing what they always do, uneventfully, and without resolution. What do we call that, doing something over and over expecting different results??? INSANITY!!!

How do we teach the real truths in life?
How do we teach people what really matters?
Before they face something tragic and mortal..

That you can't take it with you, and that even the richest man on earth is nothing without humility and selflessness to his community. Yes, it is nice to look good, but at what cost? With spending money of alcohol and drugs and all those frilly things, we live a good life. We get haircuts at a salon, because we take care of our selves because you know men age just like women. And it's harder to get rid of grey hair if not properly managed by a professional and a little Loreal Color!! We don't buy our clothes at haute coture shops, and you know the last time we spent serious money on clothing was for our wedding in 2004. Yes I spent $100.00 on a tie for my wedding, but hey, you only get married once right?

The difference between me THEN and me NOW, is this

... And I learned this in recovery,

WHAT I think about MYSELF is much more important than what YOU think about ME. Do you know how many years of therapy and recovery it took me to learn that lesson??? Because in the end what you think about me is none of my business.

That was a very hard lesson to learn, and we learn this lesson in our own time. You can't force this lesson down a queer boys throat until he is ready to hear it, because growing up, the world is your oyster, and no one is going to steal your thunder or your fun with the boys and men. Ok, but everything in moderation.

Growing up is a difficult thing to do without guideposts, those guideposts I did not find until it was too late. That was a major flaw for me in my life. We go through stages of growth, personally, mentally and emotionally. And I can tell you that we all go through this. The need to be noticed and appreciated. We want to find love, but it is HOW we seek that love that is important. Are we going above and beyond our means to get it. Are we going poor to attract another into our webs? The world is wrapped up in certain things that are detrimental and MAKING SENSE of all the information we are daily hounded with by media and the press and businesses. You have to find what is important to you. Find your voice, Find your character and DO NOT compromise your morals or integrity to please another.

Queens can be vicious and heartless. I've seen this myself.

The HUNT for men is BIG BUSINESS in the gay world.

And being fierce and wicked is something we must not give in to, because I tell you, when you reach the point of Hindsight (because you know HINDSIGHT is 20/20) you will look back and say, "I can't beleive I lived that way or that I can't believe I did those things, and in your older age you will shake your head and say "Oh to be young again.." and "Oy, what a life I've lived."

You see, I can see things 30 years in hindsight now, and from where I sit I see things I never saw before because I can look back on those days and remember how HARD it was to be a gay boy in a big big world. It was all so fast and furious, and that I made it out alive is amazing to me. I don't need High End friends I am happy with what God has given me and the people he has put into my life in the last 5 years, because I am greatful for all of it. My life is full, my cup runneth over with people who love and care for me and my husband and our lives. (and all those people I drank and used and partied with - are no where to be seen in my life!!) Superifcial friendships do not last, and only the strong survive. Remember you may be friends today give it five years and see if they are still around. It is even worse if you battle disease oe addiction. Only good men stick around through the thick and thin of life, THOSE are the keepers...

So, Until you get here step wisely - seek good counsel and make wise decisions with life, love and money. Because like air, money is consumed too quickly to notice and when the disconnect notices come, it will be too late to say "whoops...."

In the end my friend's that remain, know me for who I am not what I am. What I wear is immaterial to what is inside my head and heart. I am not a spring chicken and yes I do take extra lengths to make Me feel like a natural woman.... ha ha ha ha

You know I live on borrowed time, and I have been coasting on God's good graces for the last ten years, so I've learned a few great lessons along the way. I know today what is really important. We pay the rent and a little to the bills each month, MEDICATION comes before food or frolic. In my case that is quite a costly venture, but here in Canada socialized healthcare has definitely been a great addition to my life. Peter and I are both on some serious medication and before we go to the mall - or the club - we make sure we have enough meds for the month.

We don't eat out very often any more, unless it is a special occasion. We have learned to cook, which is a really great part of life. We don't eat much fast food either, unless we are out at the mall or it is a planned diversion from the ordinary schedule. Being a full time student really prioritizes your life. And how many gay boys are full time students and work at the same time? You see we are both disabled students so work is a hit and miss event for Peter. I don't work yet in the "field" because I am not proficient in the second language yet, and medically my time is precious. I make the most of each good day, when I am not sleeping or resting. I am slowing down a bit these days, taking it easy, I want to make it through my honors program and still be alive when it's all over. My book is in the second re-write phase, I won't publish before the Blue Metropolis Event this spring. It's a literature event in April. I don't have time to do a full rewrite, right now.

Money - I am off topic again...

There is no one I have to impress in my life, I am clean and sober now, so my monetary focus is not on outward appearances, but in inward reflection and sharing. I don't have to spend money to have friends. I don't have to please anyone but myself and maybe my husband. So you see, growing up is a challenge, "what people think of you" is something WE all deal with and have dealt with. The sooner you get over it and get to a place that you are comfortable in your own skin the better life will be. A tough lesson to learn by far. You cannot love another or please another until you learn that YOU come first. Who you are within is much more important that the person you show the world in materialistic means. When your "Inner self" makes it to the "Outer self" and both are in union and in communion, with the creator, you will not worry about what others think about you, what you wear, or what you drink, snort or imbibe or even what you drive. Because your inner person will bring to you those who matter the most for your present and your future.

Life will find its unitive meaning. And the materialism of the world will become an non-issue, that will not preoccupy you - but helping yourself, your significant other and your neighbor will become a way of life.

People will want to know you for who you are and by your deeds NOT your duds or how much money you can flaunt or have in the bank.

What you do for your world and your surroundings will matter more than what you wore to work today or to the bar last Saturday night and what kind of cell phone you own or what kind of car you drive. When you find the path, you can only bring what you have inside on the journey. You can't take it with you will make sense once you find the path. Baggage is immaterial, because whatever you need to see and remember is within you. Drop the bags you drag behind you because they will only hold you back from reaching that final door marked "HOME."

2 Comments:

Blogger Carmi said...

What ultimately matters is that you figured it out, learned from your experiences, and used the opportunity to teach others.

Sounds pretty rich to me.

9:58 PM  
Blogger geek_boi said...

Jeremy,

I've just stumbled across your blog from a link on Joe's blog. I'm the hypothetical "young gay boy" that you mention in this post and I find that you have given me some advice that I'm going to take. Thank you for this encouragement. I wish you and your hubby the best!

I'll be checking back in often, too! :)

2:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home