Monday, 18 June 2018

Twenty Years Ago.

It was Thursday afternoon, June 18, 1998.  I was slumped on the sofa in my usual drunken stupor.  A frightened man barely clinging onto the last, fragile remnants of a shattered, battered and bruised dignity.  A frightened man waiting to die a sad, lonely death.

I heard a knock at the front door.  A sound so rare for I could go weeks without any human interaction.  My only interaction, the sharing of such a desperate time with Mr. Alcohol, my best friend, my lover, my worst enemy.

I stumbled to the front door.  A bedraggled mess of a man.  A man, bloated and heavily jaundiced.  I opened the door and there was my doctor.

He took one look at me and immediately phoned for an ambulance.  For, before him, was the worrying sight of somebody who hadn't eaten for three weeks.  The only nutrition, if you could call it that, was the consumption of three, two litre bottles of strong cider per day. Before the doctor, a man drowning in a sea of alcoholic despair.  I was stretchered away.  This would be my fourth alcohol-related stay at a hospital.

Near the end of the first week of what would be a five week stay, I had my ex wife and my nine year old son, Tristan, make a fleeting visit.  For they were about to go to Canada with her boyfriend and their baby boy.  Through tear-stained eyes, I hugged my son.  A hug that I cherish to this day.  A hug that saved my life.

After that, I had no visitors.  No visitors to note that during the first week I nearly died.  No visitors to be there for my birthday.  And yet, despite it all, despite me watching others having visitors and listening to the laughter, listening to the crying, I had time to reflect, time to change, one last chance to live.

That one last chance, further enhanced when a nurse came over to my bed and stated that I had a phone call at the ward's reception.  Very weak, oh, so very weak, I was taken in a wheelchair to the ward's reception.  It was my mother phoning from Vancouver.  Her words of comfort, resonate with love, twenty years on.

I could go into the harrowing details of how I ended up as a mere shadow of my former self.  A paranoid character swigging back two litre bottle of cider down back alleys.  But, that's in the past.  A past that taught me lessons that through such a potential demise, I could become better, stronger, more compassionate.

I'd had a nervous breakdown twenty years ago.  So much had happened and I tried to numb the relentless workplace bullying, the collapse of my marriage, compounded by the fact my wife had gotten pregnant by another man whilst still married to me.  I couldn't cope.  I was scared.  I was going insane and the insanity was made all the worse with the insidious evil of the alcohol I consumed.

And twenty years on, I'm still fragile, still raw.  I battle with debilitating depression and chronic fatigue.  It impacts me so much that my blogging has been sporadic.  It impacts me so much that I've hardly the energy to be involved with one of my vital lifelines, the vital lifeline that be the blogging community.

Twenty years on, I do know that the day I left hospital,  I left as a free man.  A man, most importantly, genuine in his conviction that alcohol would never again control his life.
I choose to live for my son, Tristan 
I choose to live for our beloved dog, Penny.

I choose to live for my mother, my family and friends in Canada. 



And I choose to live for me.  I listened to the wisdom of my inner child. 

86 comments:

  1. Gary, I read this with tears in my eyes. How lucky for you the doctor called that day. Twenty years this year is not good for me from July onward. Good luck to you with all the good wishes I can send.

    Yvonne.

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    1. Hi Yvonne,

      Thank you for your kind comment. It was indeed a very good that my doctor was alerted to come and visit me. I hope that you will be okay, Yvonne.

      Thank you for your good wishes and due to my chronic fatigue it has taken me ages to reply.

      In kindness and respect,

      Gary

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  2. We're so glad you did. You've come a long way and affected so many people during that journey. The world wouldn't be the same without you.

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    1. Hi Alex,

      Thank you, good sir. I do wish that my journey may well be a beacon of hope for those who think that life is hopeless. Alex, you are a marvel and I'm grateful to you.

      In kindness and respect,

      Gary

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  3. Hi Gary - how excellent you've written this ... I'll be back to read properly and comment - as I like being able to comment ... have a good week - cheers and with thoughts from your beloved Canada - Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary,

      Thank you, Hilary. And yes, this story needed to be written. A story from the heart that I truly hope will bring some comfort to those who despair.

      I hope that you enjoyed Canada Day!

      Hugs and gratitude,

      Gary

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  4. You are a true warrior of the spirit, Gary. So glad you decided to fight on. The world would be a poorer place without you, eh?

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    1. Hi Debra,

      A warrior who rose above what would of killed me. Your words, dear lady, resonate. Thanks for your caring thoughts, eh.

      Kind wishes,

      Gary

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  5. That doctor was an angel who put you on the right path. Look at all you would've missed! Now you are a great example to others that it's worth it to fight for your own life.

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    1. Hi Diane,

      A truly great doctor who gave me the chance to seek the path. I knew that much would of been missed. Twenty years on and I'm deeply inspired. Life is precious, indeed.

      Thank you, Diane.

      In kindness,

      Gary

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  6. Yours is a powerful story, Gary. It takes great strength to struggle against such hard events and remain kind and open. I'm glad you do, and glad to have come to know you through blogging. It is good to think about the people we love and realize we each make a difference in the world and we each are worth living for.

    Those are two sweet baby pictures. And your mom has a very kind face, too.

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    1. Hi Jenny,

      And such a powerful statement by you, my thoughtful friend. Blogging became an outlet of learning and positivity. We are all valued and must understand, like you note, that we each are worth living for

      Thanks for the complimentary remark in regards to the pictures.

      Many kind wishes, your way,

      Gary

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  7. Thank you for sharing part of your story with us, Gary. I'm so glad that doctor knocked on your door, the world would be a sadder place without you.

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    1. Hi Barbara,

      Thank you for reading this, Barbara. To share was a therapeutic ideal that I so wish shall help someone who might be struggling. That goodness for that doctor and for decent folks like you, Barbara.

      With respect and kind thoughts,

      Gary

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  8. Dear Gary, everybody has a story and your’s is one that is inspiring to many on the brink. Never give up, know that you are loved, and live the best life you can. Bless you.

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    1. Dear Arleen,

      What warm, comforting words, my amazing friend. When I left hospital a free man from the torment of alcohol addiction, I was determined to inspire as best I can. Bless you for your words, Arleen.

      Happy, hopeful thoughts, your way,

      Gary

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  9. Thank you.
    I am so glad that you were able to kick alcohol out of your life. Not an easy journey, and a never-ending one.
    And I am so very grateful to have found you here in the blogosphere.

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    1. Hi Sue,

      And thank you.

      I knew the choice was death. Thankfully, my journey, although still overwhelmed with self-esteem issues, is one that makes me proud as to how resilient I am.

      Our blogs, a sharing, a learning, an appreciation of such wondrous diversity.

      Thank you, Sue.

      With good wishes and gratitude,

      Gary

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  10. Congrats on your sobriety. It's good you chose life or we would miss all those great blog entries about you and Penny.

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    1. Hi Pat,

      Thank you for the congrats, my fine friend. You are most flattering. Penny is still trying to make me a better writer.

      All the best and thanks again.

      Gary

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  11. Replies
    1. Hi Onevikinggirl,

      Thanks and I just adore Viking girls!

      Your new friend,

      Gary

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  12. I am so glad you chose sobriety. I was blessed to find your blog. Your humor, wisdom, and caring nature is apparent in your words. I miss you when you're not blogging!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Thanks and sobriety has given me the chance to live, to take on life with the rawness of clear emotion.

      You flatter me, dear Elizabeth. I wish I could get the blogging momentum back. It's a battle against the fatigue.

      Thank you, dear friend.

      In kindness,

      Gary

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  13. Thank you for sharing this – and for making the choice you did – I hope it inspires others to win their own battles.

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    1. Hi Patsy,

      I knew I needed to share this. I'm glad I had the resolve to make the choice and choose life. If one person is inspires by this then that's a magical result.

      Thank you, Patsy.

      With inspiration,

      Gary

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  14. I'm glad you listened to your inner child. Living can be so hard sometimes it seems death might be a better option, I've heard my own ex say so several times, but look how much you've gained by choosing to live. You've watched Tristan grow up, you have Penny and a slew of online friends who value your writings.

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    1. Hi River,

      Indeed and my inner child reminded me of all that is precious. Choosing to live is the better option and I'm so glad I made that choice.

      That choice, for sure, has given me the chance to see my son and our beloved dog grow together. My online friends, such as your kind self, have helped make it all so very worthwhile. Leaving the booze behind also reignited my passion for writing.

      Thank you, River.

      With good thoughts, your way,

      Gary

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  15. This is such a powerful post, Gary. I'm sure it took courage both to write and to publish. And I'm so glad the scaffolding is gone and that you can see the sky again (truly a metaphor for your journey). We do miss you when you're not blogging, and we do like to be able to leave comments. Bless you, my cyberfriend.

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    1. Hi rhymeswithplague,

      Thank you for such thoughtful words. I'm okay with be truly candid about what happened to me and what I've done about it. I do hope that such courage will make somebody else feel such courage. Ah yes, the scaffolding that held me hostage has gone and the view ahead is clear, my friend.

      Yes, I actually switched the comments section on. I was feeling guilty about not getting around much these days and commenting on other blogs.

      Bless you, my esteemed cyberfriend.

      Gary

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  16. Thank goodness your inner child spoke up and you were still able to hear and respond. Thank goodness because you are a beacon of hope to others that they can overcome, they can survive. I am sitting here shedding tears for you..for what you had to go through..and tears of joy that you are here with us now. Keep up the good fight Gary and coninue to inspire us to fight our own battles. Happy twentieth anniversary of your freedom.

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    1. Hi Delores,

      The wisdom of the inner child never ceases to amaze me. I did discover a purpose that I could do my best to give other hope when they thought there was none.

      Tears of relief and joy is what I feel these days. Help each other and we do help ourselves. Thank you for your caring wishes and to my twentieth anniversary of freedom and resilience.

      Hope you had a wonderful Canada Day.

      Hugs and thanks,

      Gary

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  17. Such an open, honest and heartbreaking in parts post Gary, but alsowhat shines through is the the love, it was love that led you to get out of that horrendous alcohol addiction, which, had you carried on you'd be long dead by now. I'm SO glad you aren't dearie, you're a kind, very funny, loving man who battles on through what I know is hell at times. I sympathise and empathise as you know. X <3 x

    PS- Love the picture of you as a child, very cheeky looking and also, suits a dress more than most ;D Much love from this end. Xx

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    1. Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your perceptive thoughts, Michelle. Yes, you understand that the powerful catalyst was my focusing on the true love. True love, way more powerful than my "love" of alcohol. Yes, without that, I would have been dead all those years ago.

      Thank you so much for you sympathy and your empathy. I means a lot, dear friend.

      I was a natural in a dress from an early age!

      Much love back to you and your loved ones.

      Gary Xx ❤

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  18. I'm so glad you found your way back, Gary! You make this world a more beautiful place. Sending you lots of Canadian hugs...the best type :) xo

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    1. Hi Martha,

      I was so glad to find my way back. Thank you for such a beautiful comment.

      Thanks for those Canadian hugs. I hope you had a lovely Canada Day, eh!

      Gary xo

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  19. So glad you found the strength and courage to fight on and choose life. All the best to you.

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    1. Hi Suzanne,

      Thank you and the choice of life was such a battle against the demons within.

      All the best to you, Suzanne.

      Gary

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  20. I'm so choked up right now Gary. Thank god you pulled through and put it behind you. Congratulations on 20 years sober. My ex husband wasn't so lucky....he wouldn't stop drinking despite the diabetes and hepatitus C and he died at age 52, a year after I left him. My husband asked if I wanted to fly back to WA to say goodbye and I told him no...I'd said my goodbyes long before I even left him and moved back east.

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    1. Hi JoJo,

      Thankfully, I got scared and found that all important focus of what really matters and that is understanding that love was all around me. Sobriety gave me that focus back. It's a very sad situation in regards to your ex husband. Sadly, it seems he had died long before he died. I'm so sorry to read of such a sad tale that didn't have to be that way.

      Bless you, JoJo.

      With respect and kindness,

      Gary

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  21. It is a heart-wrenching tale. Because I have known many people with addiction problems I have seen how hard it can be to cope with both life and addiction. I am glad you decided to fight and not give up. By the way your son was and is beautiful.

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    1. Hi Emma,

      And thankfully, the heart-wrenching tale became a story of determined triumph. Yes, addiction becomes one's world. Without the buzz, those with addictions can feel a tangible sense of panic. Now, the thought of drinking gives me a sense of panic but in a positive way. For I know that panic keeps me focused on handling the rawness of emotion without the booze.

      Thank you for such a wonderful compliment to my beautiful son.

      I appreciate your comment, Emma.

      With good wishes,

      Gary

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  22. What a powerful testimonial. It brought tears to my eyes and all I can really offer in return is to tell you that I really do feel your pain.

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    1. Hi Mildred,

      Methinks, dear Mildred, that you understand the powerful gift that is empathy. Thank you.

      In peace,

      Gary

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  23. For some people, life is an everyday choice. I am glad you found valuable reasons to keep going. A lot can change with our children in 20 years.

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    1. Hi Donna,

      For sure and life is all about choices. Upon understanding the lesson that life is precious, I found all the right reasons to keep living. Twenty years on, I have seen my son grow into a wonderful young man.

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Donna.

      With respect,

      Gary

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  24. Come out into the sunlight, Gary.

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    1. Hi Sandi,

      Thank you and the truth doth truly be that I'm immersed in the sunlight of positivity. Help each other, we help ourselves. So very true.

      Thank you, my kind, new friend.

      Gary

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  25. You are an inspiration, Gary. Thank you so much for sharing this xx

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    1. Hi Teresa,

      How very kind of you, dear Teresa. To share is to care.

      Hugs, your way,

      Gary xx

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  26. This left me breathless. How far you have come, and what strength from within you will take you even further. Addiction doesn't mean it is said and done, but it means you are recovering with great courage. Depression is a constant battle for me. You are loved, Gary.

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    1. Hi Susan,

      Thank you and yes, I've come so very far since being absorbed in such a dark, frightening place. Addiction was battled and the addiction was denied further oxygen to cause further havoc and misery.

      Depression can be so debilitating. That's why you realise you never need battle your depression on your own. Further awareness and understanding of depression is ongoing so that those who have not suffered may well be more compassionate.

      Thank you for the loving comment, my remarkable friend.

      In hope, sharing and caring,

      Gary

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  27. Gary, I can't even describe how I felt when I read this. Mostly, I'm overwhelmed with the idea that I need to give you a huge hug and tell you how proud I am of you. We may have only met a few years ago, and that only online, but I feel my world is a better place for having known you. You have overcome huge battles in your lifetime, and I'm so thankful you chose life and didn't give up. Thank you for sharing such a raw description of your experience. Everything we go through can be used to help others, and I know this post will certainly help someone.

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    1. Hi Lynda,

      What a wonderful, warm comment, dear Lynda. Our online connection is profound proof that through sharing our hopes, our dreams, our caring for the welfare of others, is a powerful tonic. I'm grateful to you.

      The rawness, without going too deeply into the harrowing nightmare that impacted those around me, taught me that I needed to do my utmost to reach out to the desperate, the lonely and to let everybody, no matter their life circumstances, that we are truly all in this together.

      I do so hope that this post will give somebody the hope they wish to embrace.

      Thank you, Lynda.

      Together, with hope, we cope.

      Gary

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  28. Hi Gary. Your honesty is probably what has helped you to carry on. I think self-realisation is what motivates one when looking at rock-bottom. It's good to see that you still have you loyal army of supporters.
    I just got back from visiting Leah's cousin in Toronto; it's a great place!
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s less-frequent Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. Hi Barry,

      Thanks and yes, I do know that my honesty, my candid confrontation with my inner-self, has moved me from that rock-bottom place. The self-realisation is a powerful resource.

      I'm amazed, considering my sparse blogging these days, that the good folks beyond my computer screen still come visiting whenever I actually post something, anything.

      Yes indeed, my brother and his girlfriend lived in Toronto for about five years. Now they live in Victoria, British Columbia. I fondly recall being on top of the CN Tower. Not the very top, mind you, that would be rather painful, eh.

      Thank you, good sir.

      Gary

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  29. I'm sitting here with tears and tissues …
    What an amazing post. I'm so pleased you shared it.
    What you have overcome is amazing and I'm so pleased you made that choice and did it!

    Blogland can be such a brilliant place … and I know me, and all your fellow blogland friends are with you 100%.

    God bless

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hi Jan,

      Thank you for such comforting words, Jan. I felt that this post needed to be shared just to let somebody out there who might be struggling that there is always a way out of it. Being genuine with myself was the start of the recovery.

      Blogland and all its powerful diversity is a powerful tool to change the world for the better. Thank you and all the bloggers I'm honoured to know, for being here.

      All the best to you, dear Jan.

      Gary

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  30. This brought tears to my eyes, Gary. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm so glad you chose to continue to be in this world with your family and friends. You make it a better world for all of us. Hugs to you.

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    1. Hi Julie,

      Thank you for your caring comment, Julie. A story shared to help others and yes, to help me. I know that the choice I made has made me savour life in a magical, inquisitive way. My inner-child is most proud.

      Hugs back to you, my remarkable friend.

      Gary

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  31. I for one am glad you made the choice to change. You have touched my life and I am thankful for that my friend. If you want to chat you know where I am...(hugs)

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    1. Hi Truedessa,

      How lovely to see you, my amazing friend. My choice to change has brought with it the opportunity to know wonderful, caring people such as you. I'm grateful and methinks we need another song to share. Chat soon.

      Hugs and hope, your way,

      Gary

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    2. About that song? How are you my friend?

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    3. Hey Truedessa,

      Ah yes, forgive me, my very kind friend. I've not been using my computer much lately. I'll see what song might be okay. Hope all is well with you.

      Gary

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  32. Aww, Gary... I'm wiping tears off my cheeks. I'm so very happy you chose life. In my heart, I can see you are a much stronger man than you often believe. It takes strength to continue to win the battle. I'm proud of you. Hugs to you and Penny.

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    1. Hi Carol,

      Thank you so much for your kind, supportive comment, my delightful friend. The more I continue to win the battle, the more inspired I become.

      Thanks and hugs back to you, Carol.

      Gary

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  33. Hola paso por tu blog a dejar la huella del mio.
    Por si deseas visitar.

    http://anna-historias.blogspot.com/?m=1.
    Gracias.
    Besos

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    1. Anna,

      Hubiera estado bien si dejaras un comentario sobre esta publicación. Gracias

      Gary

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  34. And we are all so glad you chose life.
    You are strong, my friend!

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    1. Hi Jemi,

      Thank you for such encouraging, supportive words, my very kind friend.

      Take good care,

      Gary

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  35. A hug that saved your life, not to mention a doctor that saved your life. Oh Gary, always flairy, that's such a sad, sad story. I don't even know what to say. Good thing your mother called you, too. Relentless workplace bullying... Oh if only I'd been there to throw them off the roof. Anyway... we're all happy that you're still here with us.

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    1. Hi Blue,

      A collective hug, so to speak, helped save my life. Indeed, the workplace bullying as in some never left the playground.

      Thank you for your kind words, my thoughtful friend.

      Gary

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  36. Hi Gary - eventually I returned ... I'm so glad you were strong enough to turn your life around, and carry on as you've continued to struggle with things - but you're here amongst us. I sincerely hope you're courageous to carry on and let us know your thoughts on life - we learn so much ... life is certainly not easy - but that doctor was a real life-saver ... for you, your son, mother and Penny ... just take care and look after yourself - with lots of thoughts from a very hot Canada - which you will no doubt remember. Just been over to Vancouver ... so will be doing some posts - rather a lot to do!!

    Cheers Hilary

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    1. Hi Hilary,

      Thank you for your welcome return. I know how busy and hectic your life is.

      Your words resonate, dear lady. The impact of the past still lingers and thus, it makes it daunting for me to even attempt to post these days.

      I note how the weather has heated up there. I'll be checking out your thoughts on my other home, Vancouver!

      Thank you, Hilary.

      Gary

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  37. Such an inspiring post. I'm glad you that though you struggled but still managed to turn your life around. All the best!

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    1. Greetings, Love Affair with Food,

      Thanks you for such encouraging words, my kind friend. My inner resolve climbed out of the fog and back into some clarity in life.

      All the best to you.

      Gary

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  38. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Gary. I am so glad your doctor showed up at your door 20 years ago and that you made a choice to take your life back.

    I know you spread happiness across the miles through your comments on blogs and the posts you put up. You are witty and entertaining and your posts bring a smile to my face. :)

    Here's to the next 20. :)

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    1. Hi Stephanie,

      And thank you, my lovely friend, for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment.

      Twenty years ago and that doctor's arrival marked the beginning on a brave, new choice.

      I just wish I could be more interactive lately. Once my left shoulder gets fixed, there may be not stopping me.

      Thanks again, Stephanie.

      Gary 😀

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  39. Gary, I'm very glad you found your inner strength and you are still here! I love reading your blog and I love it when you visit mine. Your comments are always so welcome. I think we all have different degrees of brokenness, and some of us just handle it better than others. I guess kindness is what brought you back from the brink. We all need kindness in our lives to get through the days. Lets have 20 plus more years to spread around some of that kindness to others and hopefully we'll get some in return! ~ Diane

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    1. Hi Diane aka CraveCute,

      Thank you so much. Kindness is indeed contagious. Kindness and compassion, understanding and yes, empathy, make it all worthwhile.

      Sorry I've been so absent lately.

      Wishing you a lovely, positive day, my kind friend.

      Gary 😀

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  40. So gut wrenching and from the heart. I just read truth. I just read someone writing the truth after a 20 year journey. So strong of you to write from the heart. Stay strong, Gary. Be proud. I am proud of you.

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    1. Hi Liza,

      Your words are greatly appreciated, my considerate friend. Yes, I have written the transparent truth. I've always maintained that writing from the heart can be a sharing experience that may well help somebody else.

      My apologies for my lack of action in the blogging world over the last year or so. I'm hoping to get a painful left shoulder condition rectified fairly soon.

      Thank you and be well, Liza.

      Gary 😀

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  41. Apologies for not commenting sooner Gary, I don't know how I missed this post but I did. Someone, somewhere, sent an angel to your door that day - the doctor - and through him you found the strength to choose life over everything else. I'm so glad you turned things around - thank you for sharing your story, you're an inspiration to many so take care of yourself and stay strong. Hugs to you and darling little Penny x

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    1. Hi Eunice,

      Thank you for your kind comment. And heck, apologies for such a delay in my reply. It was a harrowing yet inspirational time which, thanks to that doctor and some background concern, helped see me through the darkest time of my life.

      Thank you for the hugs and rumour has it that Penny will be putting up a posting because I'm still having a lousy time trying to type.

      Cheers and be well, my kind friend.

      Gary x

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  42. Just stopping by to say hello :)
    Thinking of you and hoping things are ok !

    All the best Jan

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    1. Hey Jan,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and saying hello, my delightful friend. I'm still struggling with typing and apparently, I might have to go through the pain in my left shoulder for a few more months.

      Thanks again and all the best to you, Jan.

      Gary 😀

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I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.