If anyone were to look at my life, they would see a man at odds with the world but seemingly making it work. I wish that were true. I wish I were the Conan the Barbarian type that could swim against the current, forging new paths everywhere I go, but that is not the case. In all actuality, it feels more like being at odds with myself.

A year and a half ago, I was planning on proposing to a girl who is 14 years my junior. I knew our relationship wasn’t the healthiest, but I was content to have this be the relationship to work on. I had already put in a lot of foot work to forward the relationship. Granted at the time of my plan, we were at a stalemate, but I figured that was just something that would have ironed itself out with time. But due to our inability to communicate that properly, she found herself needing to leave.

Now this is not a denigration of that woman, but a precursor to my life where it is now–twisted beyond recognition. When she left, I found myself seeking the rooms of 12 step meetings as often as possible. It was the only place I felt comfortable. I started attending the late night meeting on a regular basis, so as to avoid the silence and the empty half of a bed. I am still uncomfortable in my bed. Some nights I wish I could take someone home to fuck ghost of the ex out of my bed, but I am shy and not very good at casual sex. So I just avoid going to sleep. Anyway, I digress.

Upon attending these late meetings I was greeted with whole new circle of people with which whom share my distaste of going home before the night is certainly over. At the meeting I could find a myriad of different backgrounds, cultures, and walks of life. Initially I was just looking for an excuse to not go home, maybe find someone who wanted to invite me to their home and do with me as they pleased (which unfortunately was not the case), but instead I found a new host of friends. I met people who are the basis of my core group of friends. A surly lot we might be, and often not without its own issues and dramas. We bicker, we scream, we hurl insults and passive aggressive mockery, but a motley crew connected by a need to squeeze as much out of each day as possible. Since that day that changed me a year and a half ago, I still attend that late meeting. Every night I am often surrounded be the very people whom I befriended in the meeting, and we even spend a great deal of our daylight hours together as well.

This small band of idiots was turned on our heads a few weeks ago as one of us passed from a heroin overdose. This may sound shocking to some, but it is par for the course in 12 step communities, and unfortunately is something one sometimes gets used to and even predicts. My buddy Mikael was someone we had all learned to love, amidst his flaws and everything. He was a good guy with a huge heart. This was often hidden behind a toughened demeanor but anyone who spent any time would see through his defenses.

There is an interesting bright side to this tragedy. The day we found out he had died, we didn’t hide in mourning, we all came together, banded together as a group to help one another begin the rough process of grieving. We gathered at my friend Nicole’s house. We would tell stories, and then tell jokes to lighten the often turned somber mood. We talked about how we felt, we worked together to be there for those who had a harder time communicating their feelings, and we gave space to those who needed it.

I talk a lot of shit about how things are different than how I would like them. I tell people that they are doing it wrong. But at the end of the day, I am beyond grateful for the group of friends I have made since having my heart broken a year and half ago. Having the love of my life (at the time) walk out on me has proven to be the best thing to happen to me in years. For the years of my sobriety leading up to now, I normally leaned on a very small and select group of people. But now I often have a hard time remembering people’s names. I had my heart broken and I didn’t get struck drunk; I got given the gift of fellowship. There isn’t a group of people I have ever been happy to call myself a part of–until now. And couldn’t imagine playing this team sport called life with any other group of nincompoops. They’re mine, and I won’t have it any other way.

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