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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:

 

Happy Recovery Season!

It’s a threefold disease, some say: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.
These long-time CMA members talk about getting and staying sober and actually enjoying the holiday season.

My First Holiday Season

After our first holiday season, we learn what a challenge it can be to stay clean and sober. A wise old hand in recovery tells his story of how he dealt with the feelings and became a better person for it.

I was 5 months clean, and very happy to be out of the drug life. I was able to stop living the life where everything revolved around crystal, and that was a relief for me. The drug life was one I thought I’d never be able to give up. I also had been fighting my case of manufacturing meth since June and was terrified of the consequences of my actions, but found the Twelve Step life very tolerable and looked forward to keeping on the path of recovery. I felt no shame or remorse for the loss of part of my life. I had spent the majority of my time thus far among recovery people and my story wasn’t much different than most others. That is, until my first holiday season.

For the first time clean and sober, meeting my extended family brought a whole host of issues to mind. I think the loss of my 30s was one of the most difficult things I had to come to terms with eventually. I lost a whole decade to speed. I mean, what do most people do in their 30s? Have a stable family, stable employment and stable life. I was 39 and had none of that, and was finally shamed in a way that you can’t be if you spend all times in the rooms of recovery.

My cousins were close to my age and I lost contact with most of them in my downward spiral leading to my arrest. One thing was clear, early on and compared to my cousins, I seemed to have the brightest future financially and career-wise, so when we all got together in the fall of ’99, there were new emotions and truths to embrace.

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The Party Isn’t Over

An early member of the New York CMA fellowship has a way with words: recovery is an “inside-out journey,” a “beautiful mosaic” where you can “reset the dominoes and start knocking them down all over again.” He has finally found a party he never needs to leave.

Last night was CMA’s annual holiday party on Washington Square. And, wow—what a night! Hundreds of happy guys and gals eating, singing, dancing, and generally carrying on. Everybody getting their holiday groove on, everybody pitching in in some way, small or large. Will and Bruce manning the boffo buffet. Jono tinkling the ivories. Karen cutting up the dance floor, even with her leg in a brace. Sam bringing the house down with “Frosty the Crackhead.” And nobody in the place was high or drunk. That’s my idea of a happy holiday.

Eighteen years ago, I hated parties. I’d never have gone to something like that. Oh, I “partied”—but there was nothing festive or fun about it. Crystal meth offered a tantalizing fantasy of immediate, intense connection, but it was an empty promise. The reality was total isolation and profound despair. When Friday came around, I’d find another drug addict to take hostage and hide away from a world that judged and despised me. It took years of abstinence, healthy fellowship, and step work for me to realize the world didn’t hate me—I hated myself.

And in 1999, I had every reason to. Things had totally unraveled for me, starting six years before, when the love of my life had broken my heart. I felt totally abandoned—when he’d see me on the street, he’d cross to the other side. I took to spending my nights self-medicating in the bars of the East Village, seeking comfort from basically whoever was next to me at last call.

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Women of CMA

Two Women of CMA Share their Unique and Powerful Journeys to Recovery.

My Sweet Cake of Recovery

She had to travel halfway around the world to find the help she needed and still was at odds with her “best thinking.” Eventually she found the love and support she needed in the rooms and through the program.

As a child, I was a painfully shy, highly sensitive, delicate little blonde thing. I was smart, eager to please, desperate for love, and felt insignificant next to my tennis prodigy brother. I also struggled to make friends. I was both terrified of being left out and scared of being the focus. Panic-stricken of being seen for what I really was. And in the mind of that self- centered little addict, what I “really was,” was boring and mediocre. The core of my disease is that I can’t stand myself and I’m afraid that you will figure out that I’m a loser. In fact, I’m afraid of EVERYTHING. I’m just fear wrapped in skin. Oh yeah, and I blame you for that.

I didn’t have a great childhood. My father also has this disease; and, when I was about 9 or 10, his addiction spiraled out of control and my family started to disintegrate. His addiction changed us, all of us. He was constantly high, deeply insane, cheating, stealing, abusive, dangerous and frightening. This lasted for years. My mother was changed too. Anger, fear and frustration turned her unforgiving and harsh. I became such an angry girl, no longer eager to please my family or any adults for that matter. My grades swiftly declined. One surprising benefit that came from academic failure was a sliver of social acceptance at school. It was a subtle change, imperceptible to anyone but me, but I was very aware of it and ached for more. I wanted friends so badly, so I ran with it. I took on a bad attitude fast, cared nothing about school, and acquired something I didn’t realize I wanted... an “edge.” It felt good, and as all good addicts blindly believe, if something feels good, then more will feel better. Once I entered high school, “edgy” was my new persona. I dyed my hair black, started drinking whiskey behind the Sizzler before school, smoked weed at lunch and BAM! I had arrived. I was one of the cool kids and my problems seemed to have been solved. Getting loaded, hating everything, and not caring about consequences bought me acceptance and relief from the ever-present anxiety and loneliness that had plagued my soul from my earliest memory.

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Working an Honesty Program

She goes from a life in prison to a life of service. She carries the message inside to others like her, so that they too can be free.

As an adopted baby who came from a loving home, I’ve always been somewhat of a people-pleaser trying to fit in. My family was a “clean your plate” kind of family so I grew up a heavy kid. As a teenager I was always trying to reinvent the wheel, when I wasn't taking it apart. All of the kids in school growing up were very mean, so I got teased all of the time. My parents were foster parents for disabled children, which meant that I was taking care of kids all the time.

I grew up next to a mall where I learned to steal small things like lipstick, but I never got caught. I started drinking in high school wanting to fit in. I went straight for the hard stuff - stealing liquor out of my parent’s liquor cabinet and replacing it with water. It was during that time I saw this movie called “The Best Little Girl in the World,” about a girl with an eating disorder who lost weight and it really changed me. I dropped 45 pounds in one summer soon after seeing this movie. The people who didn’t like me or wanted nothing to do with me in the past were suddenly my friends. That's pretty heavy stuff when you are impressionable and a teenager just trying to fit in somewhere. At 17 years old I finished high school and moved out of my parents’ house. I was now an adult. That preceded all of my really bad decisions like partying. I tried to put myself back in school and all my friends were smoking pot. Some of the kids my parents took care of were told by their doctors that the reason they had disabilities was because their parents did drugs. So I was very anti- drugs for a long time.

My friends were all smoking pot so I thought, “Well if they’re going to do it I should just sell it to them to make sure they got the right stuff.” My ‘no-drugs’ policy turned into smoking three-quarters of an ounce a day. Of course, people are really motivated when they’re high, so my school discipline just went down the toilet. This started my reckless descent - drinking heavily, smoking pot, and working stupid jobs just to support it.

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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.

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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.

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Grief and Loss in Recovery

These fellows share how they stay sober, living through the death of a loved one.

The Phoenix

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.

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Deep Powerlessness

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Teachable Moments

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.

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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!!!

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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.  

 

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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.

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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.

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