“All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.” So says the old English nursery rhyme. My story has a different ending than Humpty Dumpty’s. Crystal meth shattered my life, and thanks to the program and fellowship of Crystal Meth Anonymous, my life has been put back together again.
I already led a double life before crystal meth. As a shameful closeted gay man, I dared not reveal my secrets to my family, friends and coworkers. As the son of Holocaust survivors, great expectations were placed on me, and I did my very best to meet these expectations. I was a successful doctor, married a nice Jewish girl, and gave my parents the grandchild they wanted. At the same time, I couldn’t deny myself the clandestine, anonymous sex with men that I craved. I thought I had the solution to my predicament: leading two separate lives and making everyone happy, including myself. Eventually the lies and deception became too much to handle, and my solution stopped working.
I began my drug and alcohol use when I was 15. It wasn’t until decades later that I tried crystal meth. At the time I didn’t know it was meth, but in retrospect it was quite clear that it was. Within a short time of using it, I was engaged in endless hours of marathon sex. I was awake for three days. I thought it was OK not to go home to my family and not to get to work on time, and nothing else mattered but getting more of that drug and that sex. That first meth use quickly took me to extremes and foreshadowed the dark and drug-driven life that was to come.
At the age of 40 I came out to my family as a gay man. This came with tremendous shame and regret as being gay was not acceptable to so many of them. As a result of my compartmentalized life, coming out to myself was the most difficult and traumatic event I ever experienced. I couldn't reconcile my gay (and crystal meth-using) self with the rest of my life. The result was shattering. I abandoned my family and professional career, and the immature, shameful, hurt, rebellious gay drug addict emerged as the dominant personality. I traded one closet for another―that of the meth and sex addict. I shut out the rest and never fully “came out.”
I used crystal meth heavily and in every way possible. I was arrested and jailed, hospitalized, and institutionalized. After five years of nothing but sex and drugs, I sank lower and lower until I finally hit bottom. By the grace of God, I went back to treatment and finally made it to CMA. It’s a miracle I didn’t die. Since that time, I’ve been free from any mind-altering substance.
It wasn’t easy in the beginning, and the emotionally-stunted, physically-ill, mentally drug-altered, immature gay man still dominated. I rejected my career and was estranged from my family. I was still filled with shame and self-loathing — I was a self-hating fag, a self-hating addict, and a self-hating Jew. One thing I did correctly, however, was to completely surrender to the program of recovery, and I did whatever it took to stay clean and sober. I went to CMA meetings and got a sponsor who spoke to my heart. When he said “Get over yourself! You’re not that good, and you're not that bad,” he reached me in a way that nobody else had. I worked the steps with him, threw myself into service, and sponsored other crystal meth addicts.
“Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly”―for me it was slowly. It took all of the next ten years to put my different selves back together, and the man that I am today is far greater than the sum of his parts. I fully came out as a proud gay man. I made amends to my parents and siblings and to my ex-wife and daughter. I owned the son and brother and father in me and embraced them as who I am. After several years I took the steps to regain my medical license, and I now have a career in the medical field. Most importantly, I learned to forgive and love myself and to be a good friend.
One definition of integrity is “wholeness.” I learned that without wholeness it’s very difficult to be authentic. Before recovery I was not whole and, arguably, not my authentic self. Today, I feel authentic and whole as never before, and I owe my life to CMA. I have no deep dark secrets, and I’m not ashamed of who I am. I have love and compassion for myself―all of me. My spirit is connected to my fellows and to the world around me. I try to be of maximal service and practice spiritual principles. I do all of this imperfectly, and that’s OK.
Last summer I visited the concentration camp where my father was imprisoned. Although he passed away several years ago, I felt a profound connection to him and to my Jewish heritage. My journey through recovery seemed to lead me up to that moment, when I was entirely ready to be present and take in the enormity of that experience. I was finally able to accept that part of who I am, as well.
Crystal Meth Anonymous did for me what all the king’s horses and men could not: It put me back together again. And for that I’m eternally―and wholly―grateful.