What is surreal?
Life.
This life.
My life
The one year anniversary issue of ‘It’s all in the JOURNEY’ is in the mail.
And everybody in the office is celebrating;
But not in the office building.
A man who works in the same building as me came by my office last week.
He had my magazine with him.
"I read your story, Charles,” he said, “How'd you do it?"
Then he began to cry.
He told me that he was so tired of drinking; he'd had three beers before coming to work that morning.
He'd tried to quit on his own, but had suffered seizures.
He's in his 50's.
"How?"
“By doing the steps.” I said.
I told him that the emptiness he had inside of him, that no amount of alcohol or drugs could fill;
Though we try; God, do we try.
I told him that was his soul's homesickness for God.
And until he walked through whatever 'shit' he kept inside of him,
Not around, like we've done for so long, but straight through it,
We block that contact with God.
"Everything your mad at, hurt from, ashamed of.."
Here he looks at me with such obvious pain in his face, then down at the floor.
That I stop.
I tell him to look at me, then,
I explain that what we have done in the past is done. We cannot change it.
Would we if we could? He nods yes.
I agree, “Yes.”
“But we can’t, there is absolutely nothing we can do about our past.” I told him.
“You can not let it affect you because it is no more. It is the past.”
“Our future, on the other hand, we have a big say in”.
I tell him some of the stuff I've done, stuff that I was/still am ashamed of.
But no longer afraid of.
Not anymore.
“That’s who I was. That’s not who I am now.”
“That’s not who you have to be anymore.”
He asks me if I can help him. He has no money, let alone insurance.
I know how to dance to this tune;
I went through Miami’s public detox at Jackson three times when my ex wife refused to pay for anymore private detox.
I went for opiates.
There is a big difference.
In a private detox, they wean you down. Giving you a smaller & smaller dose of a drug cocktail, until you are clean,
At Jackson, they give you stuff for the nausea and the diarrhea, etc… Stuff to help with the symptoms.
Not with the actual withdrawal.
I kicked the wall for three days before I just felt miserable.
And drank & used again as soon as I was let out.
Until I gave up, got a sponsor, worked the steps. And in my 4th & 5th steps;
Walked through all the shit I’d avoided for years.
And had a conscious contact with God.
I told him this, and then I told him he never had to feel that fear or loneliness or emptiness again.
I told him I would see what I could do.
I called a new friend I had met, through my magazine, at BARC (Broward Alcohol Recovery Center –I think),
Broward County’s (Ft. Lauderdale’s area) huge, public detox/treatment service.
They do intakes 24 hours a day.
This person told me what to do, where he should go, and if there was any problem: to call them.
I relayed the information & my neighbor said he was going in this week-end.
He thanked me, and left.
As I was leaving work later that afternoon, his boss was also.
She told me that me and my magazine were a ‘hero.’
She’s Russian, I think.
I stopped at Publix on my way home,
To get a steak for me and rawhide chips for my dogs.
As I was putting my bags in the car, another car pulled into the spot in front of me.
I heard shouting, and the doors of the car opened.
A guy and a girl.
“Hey! They shouted, “We’ve seen the new magazine. It’s beautiful!”
The guy jumps out of the passenger side and SHOUTS, “I have four months tomorrow!!”
I didn’t recognize them. I’m not sure if I know them from the clubhouse where I go to meetings,
Or if they recognized me from the magazine.
I congratulated him,
And thanked them.
Thursday a publicist I know called me.
She was talking to a friend of hers,
A movie producer.
She told him my story.
He thinks it would be a good documentary.
I’m meeting them Sunday for coffee and to talk.
Who knows? If anything comes of it – it will help me open ‘Joy’s House’,
A recovery house for women & their children.
So women trying to stay clean & sober will not have the added worry of their children staying with relatives or friends.
Another friend of mine, who runs a networking service for behavioral health facilities and professionals called me Friday. She was talking to a friend who is an author.
He is interested in my story.
A twist:
He used to be a state attorney. When he heard my name he asked my friend;
“Does he own porno theatres?”
My friend laughed and said, “No, but it was a family business!”
My dad used to own most of the adult theatres in Miami,
It was one of the things I had to work on in my fourth step,
And one of the things I told my friend from the flower shop.
My dad used to be the Porno King of Miami.
He got that name from a newspaper article.
My friend’s friend knew about it.
The old state attorney/new author told my friend that he had prosecuted my dad one time.
He had been showing Deep Throat and The Devil in Miss Jones at one of his theatres when the city arrested the manager and closed the theatre.
My dad arranged bail, and went down and opened the theatre again.
The city came and arrested my dad and closed the theatre again.
By the time he got to the jail and called the bondsman,
The manager was out, had reopened the theatre and The Devil & Miss Jones were back on the screen.
This went on throughout the day and night.
The charges were eventually dropped when the Supreme Court ruled they were not obscene.
And the story came out in the local paper.
“There’s not many people who I have prosecuted that I like,” the old state attorney said,
“But I like his dad.”
Last month I went to a treatment center’s luncheon in Palm Beach.
I met the CEO;
And was asked to be on the board of a Drug Free Community Alliance.
Last week I went to another treatment center here in Miami;
And was asked to be on their committee to arrange a gala for their 35th anniversary.
They asked me if I could find an MC.
I wonder about life/God/Joy a lot lately.
So much is happening, so fast, and I can’t figure out why.
Why me?
It is surreal.
I was a projectionist in one of my dad’s porno theatres when my little girl was accidently strangled in her Grandfather’s recliner.
After nine months of watching her lay blind, deaf and paralyzed, I came to the decision that she would be better off dead,
Than to exist like that for years on end.
I was sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years as the first father convicted of a mercy killing of their child.
The name the newspapers gave me.
I served 10 ½ years in a maximum security prison before a deal was worked out with the Governor/State Attorney/my attorney that freed me.
I spent the next 10 ½ years smoking, shooting up, drinking, swallowing and snorting anything I could get my hands on.
While first DJing, then managing, a strip club in Miami Beach.
Before the death of my little brother,
Who got drunk, passed out, got sick, and suffocated on his own vomit,
While in Las Vegas with some ‘friends.’
Causing me to finally give up.
Sell my house, and go into treatment.
Get a sponsor and work the steps.
Then?
Getting a job in the same detox center that I’d gone through 6 times in 9 years.
Blogging at night on a computer I bought to play poker on while the patients slept,
A reader asked me to be the editor of ‘It’s all in the JOURNEY; a magazine of recovery’.
And again, as I write this, I wonder,
Why me?
Why has God done so much, so…much,
For me?
What I have come up with?
If I was still a person who wasn’t sure about God,
Wasn’t sure if there was a God.
And I heard about a guy who was a porno projectionist, whose daughter was strangled in a recliner chair, then he was convicted of 1st degree murder; was an ex con who did over a decade in prison, then became a strip club manager, alcoholic & addict for the next decade.
Who then, after getting a sponsor and working the 12 steps of AA,
Got his next job at the detox center he’d gone through 6 times.
Then became editor of the only mainstream recovery magazine, after being asked by a reader of his blogging.
Who was now sponsoring treatment center’s events, instead of watching them as a patient.
Who now lived his life looking to see what he could do for someone,
Instead of what he could get from someone.
And there was talk of a documentary and a book.
Me?
I would think, ‘There has GOT to be a God!’
I’m telling you,
Surreal.
peace

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