Miracles: An Epic of Transformation
copyright 1997, Rex Ballard
Loretto Heights College
When it came time to choose a college, I chose Loretto Heights. It was a woman's school with only a handful of males, most of whom were gay or engaged to students or faculty. I saw it as a chance to get bigger parts, and a chance to be "one of the girls". It worked. By the middle of the first semester, I had free run of the entire campus, including the women's dorm after midnight. I was trusted and had earned and honored that trust. Eventually, I was made a
I did have to prove myself on the stage crew. On my first day, hey gave me some of the nastiest jobs, including cleaning out the paint-well, where the stage crew would urinate, where the saw-dust was swept, and where a number of dead cats had been thrown. I spent 12 hours with a bandana over my mouth, shovelling the stuf out. When I came out and said cheerfully "The paint-well is clean, what's next", like I couldn't wait for my next really fun assignment, the crew decided I was O.K. In fact, I had outlasted 5 other freshmen and a sophomore. I was even singing while I shoveled and swept. I did get a few other hazing jobs, but was quickly accepted as part of the team. At Loretto Heights, this was the closest thing to a fraternaty, and since theater was also a key source of revenue, it was also like being on the football team.
I didn't get romantically involved my freshman year, partly because I really had never learned dating skills. Many people thought I was gay. Most of the women just accepted me as a close friend. I was good at just treating them like people rather than as somone that I wanted to have sex with. In many ways, I had more intimacy with more women because I wasn't trying to get them into bed.
Unfortunately, singing at Kit's every night caused some damage to my vocal chords and my 3 octave singing range was reduce to 2 1/2, which meant the leading roles in Musicals were not an option. I managed to get minor roles in 4 shows my first year. Sally Waldman taught a stage movement class and with her coaching, I was able to eliminate curvature of the spine and a number of other posture and movement problems which had plagued me for almost 15 years. What 3 years of corrective shoes couldn't do, Sally did in 6 months.
The first year was a bit like "boot camp". We had to sing, dance, act, direct, build scenery, work production crews, and dozens of other functions. In addition, I was earning part of my tuition through a work-study program as a stage carpenter. In addition, I was also composing and arranging music, and working in productions, and carrying an 18 hour course load. I'd start my first class at 8:00 A.M. and finish my last set of rehersals at 1:00 A.M. before driving home. In my spare time, after I finished my homework, I'd bone up on the latest advances in technology. During christmas break, I built ham radio equipment and tried to get familiar with digital circuit theory.
I spent the summer selling CB radios, actually cashing in on the boom I'd started the previous year. I also seemed to do well with electronic parts and stereos. That summer I earned enough to pay for my part of the tuition.
That fall, I started living on campus. I met Debra Jean Miler, but she liked to be called Panzy, because it was her favorite flower. She claimed she was the "class slut". She tried to pick me up unsuccessfully the first night we met, and tried again the following afternoon. She was very beautiful, I loved her very direct approach, and I also very much enjoyed her willingness to just be friendly and talk. She was someone I saw first as a very good friend, then as a beautiful woman. Before long, I was going down on her, stone cold sober, and enjoying the experience of watching her go completely out of control. When she started to reciprocate, I started shaking, trembling, even to the point of seeming to be in terror. She asked what was wrong. When I told her I was a virgin, she decided that reciprocating might spoil me into becoming selfish.
That night, she asked me out again. There was a knock on the door. It was her boyfriend (which I didn't know she had). She quickly left, in 15 minutes, another knock on my door had me opening the door to a double barreled shotgun pointed directly at my crotch. I was told that if I ever [had intercourse] with her, that he would blow my [guts] off.
The next night, Pansy told me that it was OK for me to go down on her, but that Don would kill me if I [had sexual intercourse] with her. It was a wierd double standard. For the next 7 months, I became Panzy's "lesbian" lover. She even told me that with her eyes closed, she could see a woman in her mind's eye. During this entire period, she was also having sex with nearly every other guy on Campus. Every night after dinner, I would be the "warm up", then she'd go with her "flame of the day", then she'd come back for hugs and affection. I was very much in love with her, and all the "playing around didn't seem to bother me as long as she was happy and enjoying herself. We continued this strange, sometimes frustrating, always interesting relationship until she fell in love with a Saudi "prince", who wanted her to be his first wife. His family wasn't so keen on this and eventually forced him to return home and marry his promised First Wife. We remained close friends for several years.
During this Sophomore semester, I was again carrying an 18 hour load, doing work-study as a stage-hand, and doing 2 shows as a performer. In addition, I was taking more directorial responsibility and was leading light crews, sound crews, and set construction crews. Again, I was working from 7 A.M. to 1 A.M. 6 nights a week. My time was scheduled in 15 minute increments, even the time between classes was scheduled to make sure that I could manage business or rehearse a scene or handle an issue as we walked. I would rehearse over breakfast, compose music during lunch, and work on scenes during dinner. Pansy and I would get together for an hour after dinner then she'd go on to some guy and I'd finish my homework. In addidition, many of my classmates had started using speed to try to keep up. I got very good at helping them get through the mess. I was doing it without drugs, but I had been there.
Alone and Crazy - Again
I went into workaholic mode when Pansy left. I was taking a "Masters level course" in theater management, and was writing a huge business proposal. I was working from 6:00 AM in the morning with my first scene rehearsal to 3:00 A.M. at night. On sundays, I would sleep in until 10:00 AM before going to church. Eventually, the killer work schedule started having it's toll. I was starting to get a bit paranoid. I would take pictures of my room to see if things were being moved while I was out (it appeared as if they were). I was also starting to get interested in computers.
I also got the role of Ciaphas in J.C. Superstar. This was a great time to be able to express my faith, share the message, and be in theater at the same time. It was a spiritual experience, but it also left me feeling very lonely and very vulnerable. In addition, I learned how to "act like a man", it often meant walking around for hours with 20 lb weights around my wrists and ankles. I wanted desparately to fall in love. I even went on a date with Debbie Stuart. She couldn't love me. Later, she ended up pregnant by Mike Durand. I even offered to marry her if she was willing. She decided to put the baby up for adoption instead.
I spent the summer of 1976 working as a stage hand. I was also the stage manager for the summer production, which is the person who has to do the groundwork to make sure that the director gets what he wants for the production. In addition, I had to function as a lead carpenter and help the technical manager draw plans. I was also doing scenic design work, and doing the carpentry. Since I wasn't on stage, and I was only a stage manager and stage carpenter, I partied a bit more than I should have. One day, I had smoked some "Thai Stick", I went back to work and almost cut my arm off with a radial arm saw. Fortunatately someone pulled me away before I did any actual damage. I prayed to God for help.
It was only at this point that God told me this was part of my "training". Later, at the cast parties and the parties that followed, I could see the lonliness that people who were heavily intoxicated were feeling. I would reach out and hug them. I became known as "Father Rex", because, although I didn't wear a collar, I was clearly expressing God's love and compassion. I had already had some experience talking speed freaks down from a week of speeding for finals. I was quickly known as someone who could make a difference with people who had drug problems.
That fall, I returned to school, after spending a month in the mountains with my parents and pretty much cleaning up my act and talking to God alot. I started the school year clean and pretty much sober. I drank a bit at the start of the semester, but I was enjoying being BMOC (one of the few males to survive 3 years of LoHi girls). By now, the local Mu Phi Epsilon sorority had made me an honorary member. I also did more shows and plays. I even found myself enjoying a social life (but not a sex life). Things had slowed down a bit from the previous year. I was actually doing more, but I was doing it more effectively. I was directing scenes, coaching actors, I had a role in the winter musical, and was generally having fun. It was another 18 hour load.
I was working in the Media Center and was able to use my electronics knowledge to wire up a televison studio console, complete with 4 monitors, 3 cameras, and mixers for video and audio. In addition, we had a video tape recorder. I used it to tape some of the scenes from the directing class.
I also became very good friends with Bruce Rux. Bruce used to tease me about my faith, but he also respected me. We got to know each other and really liked each other. Of course, the best thing was that I could tell him who I was "In Love" with each week. He would laugh because he knew I would be nice, they would ask me to do favors for them, and then they would let me know that they weren't interested. At the end of the semester, I knew I would not be coming back. I didn't have enough money to pay for the following semester's tuition. My dad was having trouble with booze and drank my tuition. I moved back home.
Araphaho Community College
When I realized I couldn't go back to LHC, I decided to enroll in the local Community College. I ended up at Arapahoe Community College. It had a video production course (which I took), and several good business courses. I had realized that I needed to learn business skills if I wanted to make a living in theater. I took almost pure business for 3 quarters.
They also had a theater production planned for that semester, and I auditioned. At the time I still had a full beard (from playing Ciaphas the previous year), and I was cast as the King in the Cave Dwellers. I liked the whole cast. It turned out that many of them were psychic and were willing to help me develop my own abilities. I also met Connie Mohr.
Connie was absolutely beautiful to me. She looked like Linda Rondstadt, was a model, and bought her clothes at Fredricks. She also seemed to be so sweet and innocent, yet a bit wild and kinky at the same time. I was still very bashful. I had a crush on her from the first day that I saw her. Finally, a mutual friend had to literally introduce us, ride home in the car with us, and ask me if I wanted to kiss her. He asked her if she wanted to kiss me. Pretty soon it was obvious that the interest was mutual. She gave me her number.
The next night, my father and I started drinking together. Soon we were arguing and I told him I was pissed because he had drank my tuition money. Eventually, it got to the point where mom sent me into the back room and when mom tried to calm dad down, he hit her. My brother and sister had to tackle me and sit on me to make sure that I didn't beat the living daylights out of my father. He had never hit my mother and hadn't hit me since I was 6 years old, even to spank me. Mom simply called the police, who took them downtown and tried to talk my mother into not putting him in jail. When Dad promised to go into a treatment program, mom took him home.
That friday, I took Connie out for our first date. I was amazed at how mature she was. We watched Silver Streak. She loved Gene Wilder in his white pants. When the show was over, we had a snack and parked. We started kissing and she seemed to enjoy everything I was doing. I even gave her cunnilingus. She told me she wanted have intercourse. I reached into my wallet and pulled out a nice fresh condom. She asked why, I told her I didn't want her to get pregnant. I didn't even ask if she was on the pill.
I couldn't get it up. She asked what was wrong. I sang "pardon me Miss, but I've never done this, with A Real Live Girl" sort of singing it. She just started beaming a huge smile. She chirped, "your a virgin?". I told he "Yup, I'm a 21 year old virgin and I have no idea what to do now". She told me to call her the next morning so that we could go out again.
I called early the next morning. She told me to come over around noon. I came over, met her mother (actually her grandmother, her brother, her sister, and her brother-in-law. I even met the dog. They were going to the race track and would be back around 6 PM. We got something to eat sat on the couch. Pretty soon, we were kissing. She led me into her bedroom. It was beautiful, with stuffed animals everywhere, and a double bed with a pink canopy.
Finally after about 3 hours, she was completely satisfied and was ready to stop. I hadn't had an orgasm and hadn't lost my erection the whole time. I told her "I guess I'm impotent". She smiled and said "isn't that wonderful?". We cuddled for about an hour before we finally got dressed. When we were all dressed, she said "you're still a vigin, but we'll fix that later". We went on several dates and she came to my house a few times. We made love several times but I still couldn't have an orgasm. She eventually got her own apartment and we started making love there. By this time, I was clear that I wanted to marry her.
One night, I asked her if she had any special fantasies she'd like to fulfill (I'd fulfilled several already), and she put on Alice Cooper's "I love the dead". I asked if that meant she wanted to make love to a corpse. She said, "No, but I want you to play dead". I laid on the bed, completely limp and relaxed. Pretty soon she had maneuvered me to a spread eagled position and was tying me to the bed. I was a bit scared, but I just kept my eyes closed and played dead. We had been together long enough, I felt I could trust her. When she finally told me I could open my eyes, she was sitting on top of me wearing an outfit that was obviously from fredricks, and looked like she had fallen in love all over again. She told me she wasn't going to let me go until I had an orgasm. I suddenly realized that I had always focused on how to make it better for her. Powerless to reach or to move, I could only relax and enjoy the sensations. It wasn't an S&M scene, but rather a simple way to get me to stop focusing on her pleasure and start experiencing my own. Between the surrender, the slight fear, and the outfit, it took me about an hour to have my first orgasm with a woman.
In a few days, I asked Connie to Marry Me. We announced our engagement to the parents. My dad warned me that I needed to finish school. We decided to wait until after I finished school to get married. I had taken maximum loads each year and only had one semester's worth of credits left to meet the requirements for Graduation.
Shortly after this, my father ended up in an Alcohol Treatment Program, my mom started going to al-anon, and I was required to attend some al-anon and A.A. meetings as part of the "family program". Connie spent her spring vacation in California for two weeks. I remember my first A.A. meeting. I laughed at all the funny stories the speakers were telling. At the end, I laughed and said I almost wish I was an alcoholic, you guys seem to have a lot of fun. They asked me why I laughed so hard. I told them because I had done many of the same things. I suddenly realized that I might be an alcoholic. I didn't drink often, but when I did I almost always got drunk. I even got drunk with Connie a few times. I was a pretty nice drunk when I was with Connie, but I was still drunk. When she came back from her trip, she had a horrible cold and the doctor put her on antibiotics. She kept using the pill, and I assumed everything was fine.
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, I have new material for you.
Life suddenly got very interesting. My father confessed to embezzling money from our church. My mother demanded a divorce. My father tried to slug the treatment center director and ended up in restraints at the same psychiatric hospital that had shocked my mother every day for a month several months in a row. They wanted to electro-shock my father. My mother decided to move out, told me I could stay in the house until it was sold. To top it off, my 14 year old sister had gotten pregnant (her boyfriend told her they only needed a condom during her period and she didn't know any better) and ended up getting an abortion.
One night, after I had a bit too much to drink, I started looking for my car keys to go home. Connie had decided that she wanted me to spend the night with her. I ended up calling my mom to get a spare key. The next morning, there was a note tucked under the wiper. It was a "Dear John" letter. She told me that she couldn't see me any more. I tried to talk with her several times and eventually she let me in. She told me she'd met a man who could buy her a Jaguar and a big house and she was going to marry him. I drove home doing 75 mph on a 35 mph road, running every stop light. I got home and took enough tegretol, dilantin, and booze to kill a horse. When mom found me, she took me to the treatment center. I was too old to be covered by my father's insurance and my college insurance had just expired, so they wouldn't admit me.
Free-Falling to the Bottom.
My "training" was in it's final phases. I got a job as a stage hand at the Country Dinner Playhouse, and got fired. I got a job as a store manager at Radio Shack and sold the first TRS-80 computer before it even arrived, and got fired. I even worked as a waiter, and got fired. I finally ended up living alone in the big house, trying to kill myself without committing suicide. In a matter of about 3 weeks I had become a full-blown drug addict and I knew it. I was overdosing every night on over the counter drugs, antihistimines, tedral, and Nyquil. I'd wake up in the morning to a shot of mouthwash.
I tried taking antabuse. My dad had left it in the medicine cabinet when he was home on his last visit. I took it every day for about a week. That Friday, I went to the A.A. club and met a young man named Jack at the bottom of the steps to the York Street club. He asked if this would really work. I told him "of course it will work". Jack M went upstairs, I went to the Tipsy Tiger club...
The Tipsy Tiger was a place where women took off their clothes while other women get the patrons to buy them $20 glasses of "Champagne". I had a Brandy Manhattan and suddenly found myself getting very aroused. The girl who was drinking my champaigne decided I was under age and carrying a fake I.D. and told me to leave. I was so innocent and had no experience with this type of environment, so it was easy to see why she was suspicous. I decided to leave. On the way home, I picked up a pint of apricot brandy. When I got home, I chugged down the whole bottle, figuring that I would get really horny. Instead I got the urge to ride a bicycle. I rode my little sisters old bike to the bottom of the block, then I realized it didn't have any air in the tires, and that I was feeling very sick and couldn't breathe. I had completely forgotten about the antibuse.
I went up Forest Street, the street behind mine. I literally walked the bike from one crack in the sidewalk to the next crack in the sidewalk. Each crack got more and more difficult. By the time I got to the top of the block, I could barely stand up if I leaned on the bike. I had lost the feeling in my legs, couldn't throw up because I hadn't eaten and the brandy had already gone well into my intestines. My liver was pumping "embalming fluid%quot; into my veins as fast as it could.
Just as I was about to lie down on the couch for the eternal nap, the phone rang. I was all set to hang up when the woman's voice on the other end of the line told me she was an obscene caller. I told her I was an obscene listener and to go ahead and talk. She started talking sexy for about 2 minutes before I started crying. I was about to hang up again when she just asked me to keep talking. She asked if I was all right. I told her I'd just drank a pint of brandy on anabuse and was about to go to sleep. She kept me on the phone for almost 3 hours before I finally started sounding coherant and capable of getting through the night without forgetting to breathe.
Hitchiking on the Road to Recovery
I realized that God had used the only means I would have listened to that night to keep me alive. I asked him for help. I started going to A.A. meetings for a few days. They suggested 90 meetings in 90 days. I also called the local mental health center and asked for an intake interview. Before I made it to that intake though, I went off the deep end. My mom had given me some money to buy some hamburgers. I had been living off he change and my sister demanded that I give her the money. I told her no, and she pulled it out of my hand. I hit her about 3 times in the chest before she got out of the car. I gunned the engine and ran 3 red lights before I finally came to my senses. I realized I was out of control. I asked God for help NOW! I went home, crying, and told mom I needed help. She took me to the local mental health center for an emergency intake. They put me on a 72 hour hold for observation. I was told not to worry about the bill, it was sliding fee and I would be paying $5/month regardless of what was needed.
In the hospital, I met some amazing people. They were just like my cousins who had killed themselves and a few who hadn't killed themselves yet. At the end of the 72 hour observation, they decided to put me in a half-way house. I was either manic-depressive, paranoid, schizophrenic with homocidal and suicidal tendencies and post traumatic stress disorder, and had some severe issues with women, or I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. It took them almost a month of outpatient treatment to begin to sort it all out.
I got a job while I was in the half-way house, selling stereos at a discount store. I was about to be put on disability when I got the job. I knew that God was intervening again. I started working in the afternoons and going to outpatient treatment in the mornings. My '61 Rambler had reached it's last legs after almost 200,000 miles and having been disassembled and having a hole punched in the radiator when I slammed the hood wrong. Even the bright green radiator plug couldn't keep it working. Pretty soon, I had burned out the engine for the last time. I drove it, smoking and choking, to the lot where I traded it, and $600 in cash, for an Opal Cadet.
Bouncing into the Gutter.
About this point, the treatment program showed the Father Martin "Chalk Talk" film. I shared that I only knew that I drank and I had problems. I couldn't tell if the drink actually caused the problems. The therapist suggested that I try 30 days of controlled drinking to find out. I started innocently enough, with a beer with the boss. By the end of the month, I literally became a toxic waste dump. On the last night of the experiment, I had been smoking Tai, snorting white powders (coke and crystal), drinking brandy, taking thorazine, and being a really lousy poker player.
When I got to my car that night...It wouldn't start (thank goodness). I tried to fix it (the car never ran again). I finally decided to walk 10 miles from southeast Denver to downtown Denver through the nastiest neighborhoods I could think of. On the way, I started picking pieces of broken class in the street and washing them down like pills with cans of beer. When it was too late to get beer, I switched to Dr Pepper. By the time I got home, I had swallowed about 1/4 pound of ground glass. I put some more of the glass I had collected onto the counter, broke it into a fine powder with a hammer and a rolling pin, and mixed it with a large snifter full of cheap wine. I chugged that down and went to sleep.
When I woke up the next morning, I looked up and said, O.K. God, I'm not dead and you won't let me die until you're good and ready. What do you want me to do? I didn't tell a soul for 4 days. Finally, on that Friday morning, I told my group what I had done. They were pissed, but they asked me to call the emergency room after the session anyway. I called the emergency room and they said "you can't be alive after that". She conferred with the doctor and came back to the phone. She said that for some reason (probably all those drugs, alcohol, and soda pop), my digestive system coated the glass with a protective jelly to keep it from cutting me to pieces. I was told to watch for signs of blood and that when I went to the bathroom and saw sparklies, I was probably in the clear. I eventually did pass some very large pieces of heavily coated glass. The only person who experienced any suffering was a psychic friend of mine who couldn't believe I was standing up.
Acceptance and Recovery.
I eventually stabilized. I knew I was an Alcoholic and started going to meetings as well as daily group tharapy. I even went on a few dates. I wasn't anywhere near ready to have sex again (I wanted to, but it just wasn't working out). My friend who introduced me to Connie was now dating two really beautiful women (two timing them actually), and I just kept picking up the broken hearts and putting them back together so he could break them again. My grandfather helped me buy a good car (a 1968 Chevy Impala Wagon in mint condition).
In January, after personnally selling over a million dollars worth of stereos and selling some of the first VHS VCRs over the Christmas and Superbowl season (it helped to sell VCRs that the Broncos were in their first Superbowl), I finally returned to Loretto Heights College. I don't know how I'd managed to save up enough to pay the down payment, but I had enough to meet my tuition and get back in. I had also taken a test that gave me two full years of college equivalancy in English, Social Studies, Art, Science, Mathmatics, and Humanities. I was told that I still had to complete my last two years at LHC to graduate from there. This meant that by the time I graduated, I would have over 7 years or over 200 semester hours of college equivalency. The biggest problem was that I couldn't be in the Musical because I had to work at the store.
I had an apartment off campus and could go to work, school, and theater. I also listened to the Radio. I had become a big fan of Alan Berg. Eventually, about the first of April, the store cut my hours to the point where I couldn't afford to buy gas. I auditioned for a show in Colorado Springs and got the job. I was actually going to be a professional actor (and sometimes a waiter). I was doing South Pacific as Chorus, and Marcus Lycus in A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Forum.
When I got to the "Old Town Dinner Theater", I started working very hard, got very good, and learned to "quip for tips". Pretty soon I was making as much in tips in a night as I had made at LaBelles in a week. I also fell in love with Robyn Bonnet, the director, who did NOT fall in love with me. In fact, I was so bashful, that I finally wrote her a note the last week of the show. Two days later, she announced her engagement to a guy she called "ferret face" at the end of the week.
Loretto Heights College - the final chapter.
I came back to LHC for my final semester with a broken heart, a battered ego, and a fear that I was going to graduate Loretto without ever having a LoHi lover. I started sharing "big brother" advice with my new roommate, and assumed I could trust him the same way I trusted Bruce Rux. It turned out that this new roomie was gay, wanted a gay roomie, and figured the best way to do it was to tell the faculty every little "secret" I had shared, with a few little twists of his own. According to him, I was blackmailing every member of the faculty and that is how I had managed to get back into the school. At least that was what he was telling everyone, including upperclassmen and the Faculty.
Suddenly, my senior year of College, my last semester, was turning into a nightmere. I was told that I would be allowed to graduate, but not to expect any favors. Even though I had been an honorary Mu Phi Epsilon, I had been blackballed by one of the male members who had been pledged after the sorority went coed.
I ended up with a new roommate, from Turkey. He was married and his wife was also attending school. He spent most of his nights with her, but we also became good friends. It was very interesting because the Arab and Persian students were afraid of Turks, and didn't want to do anything that might offend him, or his wife, or his roommate.
The highlight of the semester was a course in computer programming, in which I wrote a computer program to simulate the economic model of the business plan I had worked on all summer. I had ended up spending my late evenings/mornings after the shows writing a 200 page business plan for a commercial theater that would employ professional actors on a percentage of the house basis. I turned both in as a "bachelor's thesis". I lost two grades because I couldn't afford to have it professionally retyped, but the teacher copied it and used it to capitalize a summer theater in Grand Lake. This model has since been used to capitalize several theaters, some of which even turned out to be successful.
When I graduated, I left with no ceremony, no big fanfare, not even a goodby party. I didn't even come back for the graduation ceremonies in the summer.
A Theater Manager at Last (sort of).
When I graduated, I got a job managing movie theaters. I thought it would be a good way to learn "front of the house" issues. I worked in a 900 seat theater that was full almost every weekend. The only hazard was armed robbers. After being in 2 robberies and then being forced to open the safe myself, I ended up being transferred to a drive-in theater where I was supposed to walk around with a sawed off pool queue and look tough while the manager skimmed a few bucks into his own personal bank bag.
I was finally questioned by a polygraph and was discovered to be "deceptive" (I kept anticipating that he would guess the bill that I was holding, he guessed a 50, 20, and a 10. I was holding a $5, and he never guessed it. I would start to spike at the $10, after he made that guess. I was anticipating the lie. Anyway, I told them everything I knew at the time. Eventually, I would be exhonorated, but the interrogator just assumed that I was somehow involved or guilty and know more than I was telling. The city manager decided that I wasn't aggressive enough to manage drive-in movie theaters. I agreed, so I left the company.
Life in a Christian Commune
By this time, I was living in a Convent (those nuns warned me that celebacy could be habit forming) that had been converted to a community home. I met many interesting artists and creative people, some of whom went on to be quite successful. I even met a nice girl, Sheila Jackson, who tried to have sex with me. She was into fisting (which didn't do a thing for me), and I couldn't get aroused. We ended up just being friends. By this time I was in the Middle of a 3 year period of Celebacy (Connie to Leslie).
Although I had stopped drinking, I did still like to go dancing at the clubs. On several different occaisions, I would go dancing and end up "just dancing" with as many as 20 different women in a single night. There were several who seemed interested, but the bouncers would tell them that I was gay.
A.A. and the 90-day-wonder.
I also started going to more A.A. and Al-Anon meetings. Everybody was substantially older than I was, especially in A.A. I had a hard time relating to the folks who loved spending time with their grandchildren, when I didn't even have a wife or a lover. One older fellow told me "son, I spilled more on my tie than you ever drank". He must have been a very sloppy drunk. From 1978 to 1980, I would get to 90 days, but I'd slip just before 6 months, and usually with nasty consequences within the next week or so.
Eventually I moved back in with my father, who by now had completely detoxed off of all drugs, repaid all the money he'd taken from the church, and had even paid up his child support (for my little sister). I was watching how my father was working the 12 steps. He was actually doing it "by the book". He had literally gone from being a zombie (couldn't even smile when I gave him a television for christmas), to being more delightful than I had ever known him to be.
The Last Drunk.
I went to what would be my final drink on a Tuesday night, May 19, 1980. There was going to be a fashion show and there was a $5 cover, but that included 2 drinks. I walked in, decided $2.50 was a bit much to pay for soda pop, and ordered two brandy manhattans. I don't even remember finishing the first one before I ended up going into a blackout. I only remember walking into the bathroom and snorting some RUSH, and dancing with a beautiful lady wearing a ver short green dress and high heels who seemed incredibly friendly. The last thing I remembered as I came out of the blackout was reaching into my wallet and discovering that I had already spent my last $50, on what? Don't know. I either gave the bartender a huge tip, or just drank it all.
When I got to the parking garage, there was a Glendale cop on one entrance and a Denver cop on the other one. I don't know if they were actually waiting for me, but I decided to wait them out. When the Denver cop finally drove off about 2 hours late, I headed across the street to Denver and parked in the grocery store parking lot. I went grocery shopping for about two hours and took the back roads through Denver to get home.
The Wake-up Call.
Two days later, as I was driving home from work, two cars came from behind, drag racing and moving at close to 100 MPG. I saw their headlights and started to get out of their way. Just then one of them bumps my left front fender. A few seconds later, the other one bumps my right front fender. I was so upset I started to punch the gas to catch them, and suddenly realized that I may have no steering or brakes in a few seconds. Suddenly, faced with the possibility of dying in the next 30 to 60 seconds, I wanted to live, and asked God for help.
About a week later, I had to have the car inspected. I was failed and told that I would need to spend $1000 to fix this car I'd purchased for $800 three years before. I came home, had a temper tantrum just like a little kid, and kicked a hole in the wall. My dad told me he was going out to eat and would take me to a meeting if I wanted to go and that I should find another place to live if I wanted to kick holes in the walls.
I went to this meeting and something happened. I heard my own story. The speaker was young, a periodic, and drank to blackouts, he even used pills to make it appear that he was abstinant (while high as a kite). Suddenly I realized I belonged. I didn't have to hurt any more. I ended up going to 90 meetings in 90 days. I found a sponsor, I read the big book again, and this time, I asked my sponsor to take me through the steps. I also met Leslie.
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