The Literature Committee always welcomes submissions from fellows relating their experience, strength and hope. These personal stories will be published as collections for the benefit of the entire fellowship. Please contribute your own experience with the Steps and life in sobriety by clicking below:
Celebrating 25 Years
Celebrating 25 years of CMA with Stories from Early Members of the Fellowship
Alright, Long Time Ago
Don N. shares this oral history of how and why the fellowship was started.
Alright, long time ago (probably in 1980 I would say) there was a discussion about the fact that we could not talk about drugs. And so many of us, we were drug addicts and alcoholics, but they frowned upon us saying it; so you have to just slip it in or something like that. Well some people came along, for example Bill Coffey, and he was just livid about the fact that you couldn’t say “methedrine” in an AA meeting, and be comfortable about saying it. So, he complained and complained, and he always raised his hand and all that. I would say, “Bill, we have to have a principle of not being mad at AA and being pissed off because they won’t let us say it. We have to get sober and do what we do.” Well, as time went on, this guy Paul Farmer, who was the Director of the Van Ness Recovery House, came back from vacation and he said he was an alcoholic and a junkie! Well that raised my hopes a lot, because then I knew that at least in that place I could talk about the drugs that I had used. So we did. And he even said when you talk in a meeting don’t talk about it too much. So, I’d learned to do that.
But Bill complained a lot and we would talk. I sponsored Bill. We would talk about it and say, “Yeah, we ought to have a methedrine meeting.” So first thing we did was start a gay NA meeting. So we started a gay NA meeting at Fairfax and Santa Monica upstairs in this church; the MCC Church had a little space. So we did that. About fourteen or fifteen of us started this meeting. And it came off, and we were able to talk about anything. Well NA thought we were violating their principles by having this, and they sent guys to sit in our meeting to judge us. We saw ‘em! But then they saw that we had followed it, the correct thing, we had followed it. So then the straight kids said, “Well, let’s start a straight meeting.” They said, “Come and help us.” So we said, “OK.” We started a straight NA meeting, I think it was “The Real Deal,” something like that. It’s still going on, there was not a lot of mention, well a lot of the kids felt, you know, it was all heroin addicts in NA and they felt uncomfortable about that. And we said, “Yeah, you know, we should have a methedrine meeting.” We kept talking about it. One day, many years later, it was fifteen years later, we did something about it.
Traveling in Uncharted Territory
This member shares his experience attending CMA in Denver in its first year.
I had been returned to the pod at the Denver County Jail after a day at court. My fast- talking mouth failed to do what it normally did: get me out of trouble. Instead of being put back on probation for the umpteenth time, the District Attorney decided he was tired of my bullshit and was recommending I serve the 12 years in prison that was hanging over my head for the slew of felonies I acquired over the past 18 months.
I felt as if my world was crumbling around me. That had been happening in an ever-increasing manner since my heavy partying moved to addiction four years prior, but now the consequences of my actions were staring me straight in the face. That night I was overcome with the realization that the root of all my problems had been fear—fear of success, fear of failure, fear of commitment, fear of being alone, fear of a life addicted to meth, fear of a life without meth. I had gained an understanding of myself now that it was too late.
A week later a friend bonded me out of jail and wanted to see me (he of course wanted drugs as I had been his dealer for years). I owed him at least that and I certainly wouldn’t use after the heaping helping of self-knowledge I had just received. So, as I pulled the needle out of my arm and I felt the extreme high of the large shot of meth, my anxious, frantic, almost neurotic inner voice that was always quieted with drugs kept on telling me I was a piece of shit and I deserve every bad thing I had coming to me.
I left my friend’s house and slithered back to the condominium he let me stay at until it was foreclosed by the bank. I was at the jumping off point with nowhere to go. My friend Adam, who had been forced to enter treatment after his first felony and night in jail, called me to ask if I wanted to go to a Twelve Step meeting. Meetings seemed like a last recourse for losers who couldn’t handle their drugs, but I wasn’t in any shape to judge (I still did anyway). I was overcome by the happy faces, the similar stories, and the welcoming invitations after the meeting to attend other meetings.
Grief and Loss in Recovery
These fellows share how they stay sober, living through the death of a loved one.
He lay naked on the living room floor of our one bedroom Studio City apartment with a sheet covering his pearl white body. I sat on one side and held his hand while my sister stroked his forehead. At last he was at peace. I, on the other hand, was a complete basket case. I was bargaining with God not believing what was happening. This was the day Paul left this world. It was also the day I came back to recovery.
It was late afternoon in April and I was home. I didn’t go to work that day because I was fired the week before. My husband Paul was asleep in bed and I was doing whatever I could to keep busy and ignore my thoughts and emotions. I was going through a dark period in my life. Paul was extremely sick, I was hopelessly addicted to methamphetamine, and things that offered stability in my life were slipping away. All I could do was stay high, stay busy and ignore the realities I was facing. The darkest moment of this afternoon was quickly approaching. It was the day Paul died.
Paul and I had a special bond that was challenged in the early years of our relationship due to my addiction to meth. I originally found the rooms of CMA, and got clean. I managed to stay clean for just over eight years. In that time, we lived a fairytale romance. We married and moved to a house in the suburbs—domestic bliss. These were some of the happiest moments of my life. Nothing could get between us and everything appeared perfect.
I relapsed in March after 8 blissful years. I wouldn’t see another sober day until the day Paul died. I tried many times to stop but was continually dragged into the darkness of my disease. I was aware Paul was extremely sick and his condition was not improving. I relied on crystal to cope with my heartbreaking reality. At least this is what I used to tell myself to justify the return to active addiction. And then he died. So now what do I do?
Survival is all I had after losing the most important person in my life. The day Paul died, I was struck sober. I never returned to methamphetamine. I wasn’t certain about sobriety. I reached out to my sober family and started my journey one more time. I received an outpouring of love and affection from friends and family. I returned to therapy and started attending CMA meetings. That little voice in my head told me I couldn’t grieve without the help of the people that meant so much to me.
When I was two years clean and sober, my much-loved stepmother died suddenly, of complications following a minor surgery. I received the news while I was sitting in a CMA meeting. My phone vibrated, and knowing she was in the hospital, I went outside to answer it. It was my father. His first words were, “Susan is dead.”
“Susan is dead.” I was devastated. How could this be? She was so full of life and warmth, with a huge circle of friends and family who loved her. It seemed impossible, and so shockingly sudden. I had just mailed her Christmas present the day before. I was shattered.
I was fortunate to be deeply immersed in the fellowship and in service when she died, so my support network was in place when this sudden loss shook my life. The same things that had allowed me to stay sober would become the tools that carried me through. The Twelve Steps, my Higher Power, service work and commitments, my sponsor and the support of the fellowship were the answer to this, just as they were to my addiction.
During the initial weeks, my sponsor reminded me: “It’s not just drugs we are powerless over.” I wished I could fix it somehow, or turn time back and undo it. It was clear that I couldn’t control death; it comes in its own time. I was powerless.
Unmanageability reared its head too, as I tried to help my father cope. (He was deep in his own issues with alcohol, and his grief greatly exacerbated that.) My unmanageability around her death manifested in believing I could “get him sober.” My sponsor pointed out the insanity of that idea, gently reminding me that I was powerless over other people; that I could only control my own choices.
The pain and inability to “fix” this convinced me I had to turn it over, let go of trying to control the situation, and that my Higher Power would carry me through without the numbing effects of crystal. Drugs had always been how I coped with difficult feelings, but now I had to walk through this fully present.
Sober Cell: From the Inside Looking Out
Two members share their experience with incarceration and finding recovery.
I was being Robbed
I was being robbed. The man in my house was robbing me. I run into the street, banging on a neighbor’s door. No one answers. Another door. No answer.
Another door, no answer. WHY AREN’T THEY ANSWERING ME? I AM BEING ROBBED!
Finally, the cops came, thank God.
While doing their job clearing and securing my house, they find drug paraphernalia and the drugs. They start by talking to the other man that was in the house and heard his side of the story. They decided to take the both of us to the station to sort everything out. Once we arrived, he went into one room and I went into another. For some reason one of my hands was cuffed to a bench. I was confused over this and DEMANDED an answer.
“WHY are you doing this to ME?”
Little did I realize at the time, they were restraining me because they had been called about a man with a gun. How did the police know to come? The man in the house had called them. Why didn’t he just leave? Because he couldn’t. I had slashed three of his tires so he couldn’t leave.
The Jail Story
My name is Danny and I am a crystal meth addict.
It was July 25th. I was just sentenced to 364 days in the Dade County Jail followed by ten years of probation – no early termination. I was two years sober when this sentence was negotiated between my counsel and the prosecutors – much more desirable than the seven-year minimum mandatory. I was arrested two years earlier for trafficking crystal meth. Well, that was the charge but really I was just an addict that attempted to sell meth, unsuccessfully of course. When the sentence was read and I was remanded into custody, a wave of emotions hit me.
The hardest thing I have had to do in recovery is turn to my family and friends in open court and say goodbye for the next several months. I was flooded with sadness that I would be leaving my family and friends and terrified of what awaited me in the coming months. I had been in jail before. The first time it was just for a night. The second time was for about ten weeks. That time I was coming down off of crystal. Nevertheless, I was terrified.
I was taken to the second floor transient holding cell. Inmates came and went, either bonded out or moved to a permanent cell, but I was still there days later. I remember an officer asking who had been sentenced and was willing to work. I raised my hand immediately and was taken to a new holding cell for inmates waiting for a job assignment.
Two Contributions from a Beloved NYC Trusted Servant
His experience, strength and hope with sexual recovery and career change.
My First Addiction Was Sex
Late spring semester of my college freshman year, the phone in my dorm rang.
“Can I speak to David?” the gruff voice at the other end implored.
“This is he.”
The voice at the other end then offered to perform oral sex on me. A sexual act that I had been fantasizing about for years, but not knowing how to approach guys, it only lived in my mind… and in the pictures I downloaded to my computer from digital bulletin boards.
I had known for years that I was gay, but the internalized homophobia and self-loathing I felt through my high school years was compounded by the need to be “normal”. And by “normal” I mean straight, or at least being perceived as such. The summer after graduating high school, I had insinuated to my mom one night that I thought she was disappointed in the person I had become. The following morning, I found a two-page handwritten letter on the kitchen counter about how proud she was of me, about what a good person I was, about how I was smart, kind, compassionate, and loving… and how she hadn’t screwed up raising me since I was straight. After all, this was the early 1990s, a scary time before antiretroviral meds when AIDS was still an epidemic. There was no way I was coming out to my parents like I had been planning before college started.
Switching careers can be exciting and frightening for anyone, but for a recovering addict, it can be particularly stressful. I worked in the investment management industry for eight years before the market went sour and my position was eliminated. With no prospects on the horizon and thousands of candidates competing with me for the few opportunities that were available, I had to reevaluate my goals. I decided to leave the corporate world and become a high school chemistry teacher. I had family and friends in education who encouraged me to follow my dreams, but they did warn me there were pitfalls. I got into a program for people in midcareer transitions subsidizing the university work and certifications to become a New York City teacher, and was lucky to land a position at one of the best high schools in the city. I was ready—dreaming that I’d be an inspiring role model and shape the future of America. Little did I know that I was also about to get schooled on the importance of my own program.
First lesson: Honesty. Do your homework and know what you’re walking into! I entered school on the first day, starry-eyed, thinking that my teaching methods would quickly improve and I’d soar to new heights of inspiration and innovation. I know now that my expectations were too high and my ego was running rampant. I was forgetting the principles of my own program, especially honesty and acceptance. Teaching in a city school is very hard work, no matter how good the school is; I hadn’t been honest with myself about how difficult it might be. Reality hit like a ton of bricks: teaching four sections of high school chemistry including lab is grueling and tedious, especially in an overcrowded urban school. My students were great, but the sheer amount of work quashed my idyllic visions rather quickly. Forget my grand dreams: I struggled just to keep my head above the rushing tide.
Two Scenes from the Daily Life of an Addict - In Recovery
A long-time CMA member, shares moments from this Recovery "One Day at a Time"
It's Me, It's Me
We had a couple house-sit for us while we went on vacation. Vacation! That's something new and different! Other than a quick camping trip now and then, or a dart tournament on a weekend when I was out there tweaking, I hadn't had a real vacation in almost, well, ever!!! Two whole weeks on the road and a 10 day cruise to Alaska - what an experience! Absolutely fantastic! But that's another story.
Anyways, our house-sitting couple had locked themselves out of the house 5 days before we returned. We walked into a house with dirty dishes stacked up in the sink, and ants had taken over the kitchen. And I do mean they had taken over, there were thousands of them. Funny thing about ants. Once they find food it takes a long time to stop them from returning. (must have been a lot of food in that sink :o)
Being the tweaker that I am, of course I had to make my own ant poison. A strong solution of ammonia and water with just a bit of dish soap in a spray bottle and they were history. But they would come back - and I mean 2 and 3 times a day! There was a crack in the wall and a line of ants would form just as soon as that solution dried. After a few days of this, I guess Stockholm syndrome must have set in because I started to sympathize with the poor buggers. They were so determined. Relentless. Constantly, quietly marching to their death. All in the search of food. I even started to admire them, these living creatures, God's creatures, with a single minded and unwavering quest, searching for life. Wait. Stop. What am I thinking? I have the right to have a clean kitchen. No bugs, no insects, no crawly things in my house! It's my house, not theirs! Mike! Get a grip!!!
The Gift Of Time
Anyway, this particular Saturday I was pacing back and forth; lots of pent-up energy gnawing at my brain. I didn't know what to do with myself. I was staring into what used to be my "tweaker" room (now a guest bedroom) when I noticed a radio controlled airplane my younger brother had given me. A wave of resentment swept over me as I remembered it. He gave it to me saying how proud he was of me, that I had finally gotten clean. He was such a hypocrite. He was high at the time himself. I had put it together. I didn’t even try to fly it. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction. How weird is that?!
“Why not?” I thought, “Let's give it a try.” So I headed to a nearby park. The park had a large paved area with 4 basketball hoops, enough room for take off and landing. When I got there no one was playing basketball. There was a bunch of kids playing soccer to the right of the courts. Some kids were throwing a frisbee next to that, and on the other end were a number of families picnicking and throwing water balloons.
Two Fellows share their experiences....
They share their experiences about sex and addiction, and sex in recovery.
The Hole In My Soul
Hello, my name is Diana, and I am an addict. I do what I can to remember everyday that I do not suffer from terminal uniqueness, and it is for this reason I decided to share my experience. Experience has shown me that although I may feel no one can relate, I know someone will.
My parents are still married after 40+ years. This is something that I, to this day, cannot possibly fathom. When asked why I never married, I always reply it’s simply because I want what my parents have and I have not found it. I grew up in a family where my parents worked full time and stayed very involved in all of our activities, were loving, nurturing and attentive to all of mine and my younger brother’s needs.
As I got older, very quickly I realized that something was missing, which I later heard others call the hole in my soul. The most obvious symptom of my disease, using drugs and alcohol, was not obvious to me until my mid to late 20’s. However, my desire to fixate and obsess about members of the opposite sex were well established by the age of 13. The first real experience I had with a mind-altering substance was not a substance at all; it was a state of mind. Fantasizing about relationships had become my favorite coping mechanism by my early teens. It was easily accessible and something I used on a daily basis to alter how I felt.
Sex, Drugs and Recovery
So I am handcuffed and face down on a mattress in a grungy Motel 6 along I-70 on the outskirts of Denver. The officer of the West Metro Task Force and I are exchanging the usual pleasantries of “F-You”, “No, F-You!” My girlfriend had left shortly before to return items paid for with manufactured checks to cover our delinquent hotel bill (which had prompted the police presence). She would be arrested upon her return for the stacks of fake IDs and checks she had created. The officer, scanning the room, observed a container for a fireman’s breathing mask and smugly stated that was probable cause for further investigation. My admission that the container was full of my sex toys led him to state that was also probable cause for further investigation. Back to the pleasantries. Curiosity got the better of me and my reluctant probing lead to the response, “The use of meth heightens the desire for sex but diminishes the ability, and in time toys are needed to achieve climax.” More pleasantries followed as we continued to wait.
Fast forward two years and I had spent the last 12 months in recovery, started having sex after a period of abstinence, and discovered that my ability had diminished significantly. The thoughts of that police officer were followed by “Son of a___!” and the disgust of realizing he was right.