Damn, I Was a Mess
It was the early part of 2003 and one of the most miserable times in my life. Yes, I’ve referred to many times in my life as being the most miserable. I’ve had a lot of them, okay? That era is a blur, so it can take a while before I can fill in the missing pieces. I do remember my hero, though.
I don’t remember where I was living at the time. I believe partially I was hopscotching around to different men’s beds to get a roof over my head. I was also sleeping on friend’s couches, though I didn’t have many friend left. They’d let me stay until they’d discover I’d been getting drunk all day, rather than looking for jobs. Their generosity would go from 3 – 5 days and then it was out the door I went. I quickly ran out of friends.
Most of that time I believe was spent sleeping in the streets. I won’t go into much detail about that, there’s been plenty of posts you can find in the archives. Let’s just say I had nearly given up on life and couldn’t wait to curl up and die. At least that’s what it felt like, but there must have been some kind of spunk left in me because I got enough energy to go to the Los Angeles LGBT Center.
The center here in LA is outstanding. Their main building is located in Hollywood, and they have five annexes’ as well. I can’t go into all that they provide, because it’s too extensive, but some of their services include Primary Care physicians, HIV care, transgender care, employment aid, a pharmacy, legal aid, crystal meth addiction support, senior services, art galleries, a theater, a charter school, and much, much more. It’s something that I think other cities only dream of.
I Meet my Hero
Before giving up entirely, I got my ass to the Center to ask about therapy. When I got to their counseling services I was greeted by one of the therapists, whose name was Peter. He asked questions and I mostly talked about the emotional and physical abuse I received from my previous partner. Peter told me that the LA Center was the only one in the country that provided domestic violence counseling. Same sex domestic abuse is statistically equal to heterosexual relationships, but no one talks about it. After our screening was done he told me I certified for the program and told me he would be my therapist. I was ecstatic. He became my hero.
After meeting with Peter, I went to their finance office which works on a sliding scale. Because I was homeless, my fee for each session was $1.00. I was thrilled to be getting therapy for only a buck, but was embarrassed many times when I didn’t even have a dollar to give. They allowed me to go to my session anyway.
I immediately loved Peter. He was an excellent therapist, but he really pissed me off on my third session. Instead of talking with me, he told a story about himself. He told me of the many years that he was addicted. He shared some of the crazy antics in his life, many of which I’m surprised he survived. He kept on and on and I was getting angry. Granted, I was only paying a dollar, but it was my dollar.
Peter talked through my entire session, only to end by telling me how great his life had become, he had a loving partner, a great job and a beautiful home in the Hollywood Hills. Then I was shocked by how stern he became. “That’s where my life is today,” he said, “why are you where you are today?” I didn’t give him an answer. He turned to his desk, got out some booklets and a bus guide. When he turned back to me he said, “This is the third session we’ve had and it’s the third session you’ve been drunk. I can’t help you if you’re stoned. Here’s a directory of all the AA meetings in Los Angeles (there are over 2000 a week) Here’s a bus map on how to get to a nearby meeting at 5:30. If you run out to Hollywood Blvd you’ll catch it. Now get the fuck out of my office and get to a meeting.”
I was furious. How dare he have the nerve to talk to me like that, but next thing I knew I was on the bus and I walked into my first AA meeting. It wasn’t a meeting where individuals speak. Instead it was a meeting, where one person speaks and tells their story. The woman was Latina with a thick accent, so I couldn’t understand a damn thing she said. However, there was a feel in the room that was overwhelming. They asked if there were newcomers who would like to stand and introduce themselves. Me and several others jumped up and I said, without hesitation, “My name is Bradley, and I’m an alcoholic.” I then sat down and cried until the meeting ended.
Following the meeting, several men gave me their cards and told me to call them anytime. They were sincere. I couldn’t remember the last time someone had given me their number and weren’t trying to get laid. I must admit I wasn’t successful immediately. I had a couple of drinks before finally getting sober 9 months later. That was 12 years ago.
Peter stressed we were there to talk about me and not my ex. He said, “There’s nothing we can do or say to change him. What we have to do is find out what made you stay with him.” Two years later he told me we were done. He actually got teary eyed and said it was a relief to have someone complete the program. “Many give up and many die,” he said.
Today, because of my horrible memory, I can’t remember Peters last name. He left the center and the folks there won’t give me any further information. I would love to tell him I’m still okay and thank him a thousand times for saving my life – he sincerely did, but there’s no way to do so. I hope somehow, someday, I have that opportunity to thank my hero.
Thank you Peter.