Listen to the Voice Inside You (unless of course that voice is crazy)

Intuition, as I’ve come to understand it, is the little voice that says “maybe you should apply for that job” or “you’ll look good in those jeans even though you haven’t tried them on”.

Or perhaps intuition is just a real voice or gut feeling or true instinct that keeps us out of harm’s way and on the right path. I’m not sure. But what I am sure of is that little voice is hard to hear when you’re swimming in a pool of tequila with a nose clogged full of cocaine. And then when you do hear what you think is intuition, it’s a voice with a really bad idea like “maybe you should go look for sex even though you can’t even stand up” or “you’ll be fine if you hop over that fence in a third world country.” The point is I never had really good judgement. Or that’s what I thought anyway. I believed I was just a tool who was destined to make dumb mistakes over and over and over again. By listening to others who sent me “you suck” smoke signals at an early age and then by pouring chemicals on my brain for twenty years, I was pretty convinced that I had no intuition .

Turns out, that is not the case. Yep, I, the guy who once wore acid wash jeans and who willingly ate at Claim Jumper, am capable of good decisions. Today, I have an intuition that actually does point me in the right direction and is there for me when I listen for it. For example, in July 2010 I stepped out of the shower and heard a voice that said “you’re ready for a relationship.” Now it wasn’t some booming Charlton Heston voice from the heavens but something inside of me that said go ahead, take the leap. The thing is I didn’t think I would ever be ready to love again after what I had been through and seeing that I was only a year and a half sober. This was a crazy suggestion because it was something that was good for me. It wasn’t (for once) a horrible idea like “go write a bad check so you can buy vodka”. My intuition wanted me to be happy and honestly that scared me.  Still, I trusted this voice. I didn’t have to “do” anything per say. I just had to be open to where my intuition was pointing me.  I met the guy I’m married to on August 8th 2010. And he’s wonderful and he puts up with my crazy ass and loves me even on the rare occasions when my intuition is off.

But the kicker is my intuition doesn’t work when I’m doing drugs or drinking. Maybe others are capable of great ideas after a night of partying but not me. So to hang on to it, I have to not be a hot drunken mess. Seems like a fair trade-off.

You’re the inspiration

When I was drinking and using drugs, I used to tell myself “everything is going to be okay.” I said this especially when things were really fucked up. Like I honestly thought just by saying everything was going to be okay that it would be instantly better. I know now that yes, everything will be okay but it helps if I’m actually doing something to insure the road to okayness. Things are less likely to be shitty when I’m not contributing to the overall shit-fest.

At seven months sober, I had run away to live by the ocean and go to AA meetings and go back to school. I left my hipster part of town, my relationship of 12 years, and my daily drinking friends to get my act together. I didn’t know what getting my act together would exactly entail. Like did that mean I was going to rehearse dance numbers and sew sequins on a top hot or did it mean admitting I had a serious problem with drugs and alcohol and asking for help? I’m afraid it was the latter, less glamorous and more daunting set of tasks I had to take on. I gained some clarity and started to face parts of my life that previously scared the shit out of me. Through this lifting of the fog, I decided it was time to go to a doctor and get a HIV test. I was a 36 year gay man who snorted and screwed his way through Los Angeles in the 90’s and had only been tested once. It was time. It’s never a good sign when the clinic that took 3 hours to take your blood and tells you they’ll call you in two weeks blows up your cellphone three days later at 8 o’clock in the morning. They needed me to come in for my results. As soon as possible.  Fuck. The grey haired gentle RN, whom I’m sure I owe some sort of apology or thanks to, told me I was HIV positive. It was as if she said those words and then I was submerged underwater. The next 5 minutes were a blur as my face grew hot and red while tears dripped down my cheeks like a leaky faucet. I barreled down the stairs of the clinic desperately trying not to collapse or vomit. Great, I thought to myself. What wonderful timing. Divorced, trying to get sober and now HIV positive. Given my current streak of fabulous luck, I assumed it was only a matter of time until I found out that I was adopted or that I needed to have a limb removed. Once on the bus, I called my sister. I told her the news. And told her I really wanted a drink. She told me I couldn’t and told me to go home and lay down. While blubbering tears, I said “I never wanted to be somebody who had to overcome things. I never wanted to be an inspiration.” She wisely replied, “Well sweetie, it’s not up to us.”

Two and a half years after that diagnosis and days before my third sobriety birthday, I’m still not sure that I’m ready to be an inspiration or if I even qualify. But I do know this, I have gotten through what I’ve gotten through largely because when I thought my world was crumbling,  people who had lived through similar things told me “you are going to be okay” and I believed them. I wasn’t like when I lied to myself  that everything was just fine. Oddly enough it was admitting that everything was supremely fucked up and having the courage to laugh about it,  that made everything okay.  So that in short, is why this blog exists. Sharing a laugh or talking about uncomfortable things makes me feel better.  And maybe I can do that for you too.  Hopefully others who are addicted or positive or heartbroken will read this and believe me from the bottom of my heart that everything, will in fact, be okay.