Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Sparkle King VBT

In 2014, Patrick lost his partner, Pack, suddenly and without warning. As he struggled to come to terms with this, he was faced with homophobic prejudice from his partner's family. In horrendous emotional pain and feeling desperately lonely and depressed, he started to use recreational drugs heavily and hit rock-bottom whilst on a trip to Las Vegas.

After being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and getting clean from drugs and alcohol, Patrick thought his fight was over. However, this was not the case. Life had many other obstacles in store for him but this time, he knew how to be strong and he knew he had God on his side for support.

This inspiring and emotive true story shows how anyone can overcome the hurdles life presents them with, if they just have faith and focus on their inner strengths.

I’ve been sober for nearly four years now. It is here that I have stepped into the power of who I really am. I now allow myself to sparkle. It is in this space of love and light that I’ve fallen in love with the man I really am. And that means I protect myself from pain. Yes, it still finds me. Life is life. Life is hard. Pain is an unavoidable byproduct of it. But it is not allowed to ruin me anymore.

Because I now stand firm in the power and strength of my sparkle, I get to work on pain the minute I feel it start to seep into my body. I used to let it hang out, take over and basically encompass me. Now I let it in just enough to feel it. That way I am reminded that I need to heal it, so that I can move on and keep growing in the direction of my dreams. Pain gets in; light comes out.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t get overwhelming. For a few weeks at the end of last year, it seemed like everything was falling apart: a dishonest publicist stole money from me and almost ended my literary career. But the power of my dream and my desire to share the gift of my sparkle overruled his act of sabotage. It just made me work harder.

Enjoy the Silence

The last day my best friend did drugs I found a large feather in the center of my closet.

I didn’t know this–though looking back I did feel it–but he had been using again for about eight months. It was eight months of not showing up, broken promises, lies, manipulation, cutting remarks, inappropriate comments and sometimes violent rage that he directed at me to mask the pain he must have been feeling inside.

It was eight months of abusive behavior that resulted in the greatest pain and heartbreak of my entire life. His behavior toward me broke me in a way that betrayed me. It clawed at me. It ate at me. For a while, the sticky thickness of this low pulled me into an abyss of sadness and loss that matched how I felt five years prior when I found my lover dead on his bathroom floor.

Only this time I was sober through the whole thing. I endured it all. I felt powerless in a way that I never imagined in long-term sobriety.

I’m the Sparkle King. I have proudly declared myself an overweight, gay, bipolar, drug addict widow abuse survivor because I made the decision to own my flaws so that no one could use them against me anymore. I’m supposed to effortlessly conquer things in the same way I easily sashay through life now that I’ve found my sparkle.

But this pain hung on like an uninvited guest–a dark passenger that hovered and stayed and gnawed and broke and ruined. I couldn’t shake it. It lingered. It pulled. It kicked. It took. It stayed. It took more.

It wasn’t always like this with my friend. For a long time, it was the greatest relationship I had ever had with a man. A straight man, he had always accepted me in a way that made me feel safe and sound. He made me feel seen. Loved. Heard. Understood. Human. The relationship had always been easy, effortless, fun, and joyful–even whimsical. In it he had given back years of bullying and abuse by just being present, nurturing and loving.

I know I never loved anyone more for this healing. Drugs ruin everything.

This gift of friendship–of brotherhood–that I cherished more than anything in the world had become strained, difficult, wretched, mean, cruel and distant. Even worse, whenever I questioned anything or asked why he acted the way he did, he pointed the finger back at me. He said I was acting bipolar. He asked me if I was off my meds. He called me crazy. He said I over-dramatize things. He also attacked my sexuality and made insinuations about my sadness and confusion because I was gay. He told others these things too. Our friends. He took everything that made me feel seen, heard and understood and made it ugly and sinister. This behavior made me feel like everything I believed in and loved was a lie.

Despite this, or maybe because of all this, I upped the ante on my side, offering to do more and more to placate him and keep him happy. It was a lot; and this is how all of his stuff ended up in my closet the last day he did drugs. I had let him put it there because he had nowhere else to put it when he moved back in to a halfway house. 

For several weeks after his relapse admission, every time we interacted, we ended up screaming at each other. The relationship that I loved more than anything was severing, maybe even severed. Several people in our lives had suggested we take a break from each other, so I initiated that. That’s when the pain I described before set in and almost smothered me.

A few weeks in to this break, we were forced to see each other at an event we were co-chairing. Our relationship had begun because I had given him his first service commitment in our shared 12 step program and he had said he had a spiritual experience as a result. He was grateful for me. But on this day, his cold, ungrateful, demanding behavior and blatant disrespect toward me hurt so much I walked away from the event in the middle of it. He had finally taken away the very thing that had cemented our bond in the first place by insinuating I didn’t know how to do the very service work that had initiated our friendship. This time, instead of fighting, I said nothing. I walked away in silence. I have stayed that way since.

When we make space for silence, we give God room to help us find peace, renewal, self-love, clarity gratitude, grace, guidance and forgiveness. Silence is where the great work happens. It’s a resting space to make the flower bloom more beautifully.

And in the silence, I remembered the feather I found in my closet that day and took back my power.

I asked him to get his stuff out of my closet. I had a mutual friend take him there and help him while I was in school so that I could honor my decision to choose silence. When I got home from school, I walked in my bedroom and marveled at my empty closet. With a single decisive move that honored myself, I felt myself stepping into my sparkle again. I realized that I was powerless over this situation and that it was time to let go. Cleaning out my closet was an act of cleansing, a purification that led to my healing, allowing myself to grieve without the pain of uncertainty. I felt peace for the first time in months. And I realized something that helped me move toward acceptance: The heart wants what it wants, but if it keeps driving you toward someone who constantly hurts you, you need to do the work and break it yourself before they break you.

Standing in my now empty closet, I found a pair of sparkly shoes I had bought almost two years prior. I had always been saving them for a special occasion like Oprah or something.

As these beautiful shoes glimmered in the stillness of my empty closet, I made the decision that I was the special occasion I had been saving these shoes for. I was Oprah. I can be anything I want to be because I love myself. These shoes remind me who I really am: bright, beautiful, resilient, amazing, magnificent, special, joyful and exciting and fun. 

I put the new (old) shoes and made the decision to walk out of this darkness that knocked me off my game for a minute. I decided to walk toward peace, renewal, self-love, clarity gratitude, grace, guidance and forgiveness. I decided to enjoy - and embrace - the silence.

I’m still not talking to my best friend, though he remains in my prayers. I know his behavior was because of drugs; and I know that’s not who he really is.  I also know that what was the most beautiful thing I ever experienced in my life was true in that moment and that it may not be in this moment, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t. I can accept that, let go and move toward a new beginning that might be even more beautiful. It might even be with him again. Or not.

In this new power, I will bask and dance in the joy and even gratitude I found as a result of surviving yet another storm; and I will sparkle brighter than I ever have before. 

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Author Bio and Links:
Patrick A. Roland is a gay, bipolar, ex-drug addict, widowed abuse survivor and the author of three great books. His first, Unpacked Sparkle: a Story of Grief and Recovery, kicks off his journey of sobriety and self-love following the death of his partner, Pack, in January 2014. This book was published by Az Publishing and is available on Amazon.

His second book is a children’s book called Sparkle On! This book is about a gecko who is constantly constant bullied but chooses to fight this with love.

His new book, The Sparkle King, keeps the sparkle flowing as Patrick finds his way through several fear-inducing experiences by constantly choosing faith to overcome them in long-term sobriety.

Patrick lives in Phoenix, AZ. He is a peer support at a mental health clinic, where he helps others just like himself. He’s also earning a Master’s in Addiction Counselling at Grand Canyon University and is taking care of his elderly, terminally ill parents. He wants you to know you can do anything you decide to do if you love yourself. 

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Websites: Patrick A Roland Author    |    Unpacked Sparkle


  1. My family and I all appreciate you bringing to our attention the book description of another great book to read. Thanks so much!

  2. Thanks for the giveaway; I like the excerpt. :)