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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:

 

Voices of the Fellowship: A Sober Cell

Two brand new stories from the upcoming booklet, Voices of the Fellowship: A Sober Cell - From the Inside Looking Out.

Jail Prepared Me

It was the night before I took my plea. I had been arrested four months prior for my first felony charges and, with the reluctant help of my father, I hired a lawyer who was going to get me a deferred judgement and probation. The deferred judgement would be sealed and effectively allow me to put my unfortunate life of meth behind me. I just had to show up and not be high.

Oh, the trouble with simple tasks while on meth! I told myself I would stop using three days before my court date, but the night before I was so high, the abscessed tooth I had been ignoring became excruciating and my friend and I were pulled over with drugs in the car while on our way to the hospital. The police ran our IDs, realized who we were, made an excuse to search the vehicle without our consent, found the drugs, and we were arrested with new felonies.

I had been arrested and gone to jail twice before on minor offenses and was easily bonded out by my mother or friends. I remember standing in the Sallyport (the garage entrance to jail the police used to access from their vehicles), handcuffed and ashamed of my first felony arrest, and swore confidently that I would never be in this miserable place again. Little did I know I would be there a dozen more times, having been picked up on warrants or with new charges.

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Irene’s Story

When I first came into this program, I couldn’t stay sober to save my life! I was what they call a chronic relapser, a retread, whatever you want to call me, that’s what I was. But this program was always there. Every time I came back all torn up and beat up, they were always there, welcoming me with open arms like, “Let’s do this again!” Never once was I ever beaten down by others, only by myself.

So, what happened, what it was like, what it’s like now? What happened was I love crystal meth. I am a tweaker from back in the 90’s. That tells you how old I am. I tried crystal meth for the first time when I was 20 years old.

I got married really young when I was 17. Now you know you’re doing something wrong when your parents need to sign for you! So I got married because I’m Hispanic, and I was pregnant, and my dad was like, “You’re getting married.” So that’s what I did. Before I was even old enough to drink, I had two kids, was married, and miserable.

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Addicts have Parents too!

These addicts tell us about the integral role their parents play in their recovery.

Unlocking My Recovery

Our fellow tells about how a house key became a literal and metaphorical symbol of his progress in recovery . . . and of the constant and wise love of his family.

My second time in rehab everything changed. For starters, the scenic lodge tucked into snowy Minnesotan woods of my first treatment experience had been replaced with the stark locked-down wing of a psych hospital.

More importantly, my family had collectively made a decision to change the way they supported me. In the past, they had been quick to offer money to help me deal with the consequences my using brought. Whether it was to help pay the rent I had fallen months behind on or to purchase a car that I “needed” to get to meetings.

Toward the end of my second week inpatient, my Counselor had scheduled a family session. When my parents walked in, I could tell that something had shifted although I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

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Saved by a Mother's Love

This executive chef shares his story of redemption. He was pulled back from the brink of death by his mother's love, and, in the process, found the meaning of life, love, and service.

I came to an NA meeting at the Atlanta Triangle Club in 2000 utterly defeated and willing to do whatever was asked of me. CMA had not been organized yet in Atlanta but crystal meth, GHB, K and ecstasy were everywhere. It saturated Atlanta’s gay clubs like Backstreets and The Eagle, and the gay party scene. Crystal meth was casually referred to as Tina, and didn’t have the skull-and-crossbones warnings it now carries. Our pack-mother would say, “Girl, why are you so messy? Here, let me help wake you up and get you back on the dance floor,” and voila, I was off to the races.

I became addicted to crystal meth the second time I tried it. Meth was my constant companion from 1996 to 2005—with some brief intervals of sobriety, but nothing that sustained. Not using without transformation equals suffering, and boy did I suffer. Nine years of crystal meth use.

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The Twelve Steps: Our Way to Recovery

In these stories, two CMA members discuss the Twelve Steps as a powerful tool against crystal meth addiction and a path to a better life.

My Steps to Freedom

Our fellow CMA’er tells his share along with his journey through the Steps. We can tell what it was like and we understand what it’s like now. This story is what happened - the transformation that is the Steps.

My name is R. J. and I am a grateful recovering crystal meth addict. People always ask me what RJ stands for. I used to tell them “Roll a Joint”. Soon it became “Rampant Junkie”. Today it is “Recovery Journey”. But it certainly was not always that way. Cue flashback nightmare sequence music…

January 27, 2015. After verbally detonating on my 79-year old mother when she opened a piece of my mail, she simply says, “That’s it. I’m calling the police.”

I thought she was kidding. She was not. In hindsight it was the bravest thing I had ever witnessed my mom doing.

A few minutes later two officers arrive and try to detain me after I flip out. That’s what happens when you’re strung out on marijuana, Percocet, Xanax, Valium, Molly, GHB, and Crystal Methamphetamine.

One grabs my arm, I swat his arm away, scratching him across the face. I get knocked down. As the cuffs go on, I shriek, turn my head, and bite one of them on the arm…hard.

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A Better Version of Me

It is not much of an exaggeration to say the Steps are the program. Our fellow says, “A part of healthier living is being the best version of me. Today I have steps to take me there.” Read one meth addict’s share about his journey through the Twelve Steps of recovery.

My brother once asked me if I was on drugs. I replied, “No, Dan, I’m not on drugs.” He paused for a few seconds, looked at me and said, “you are the only person I’ve ever known who could look someone so honestly in the eyes and lie so deviously.”

Towards the end of a nearly two-year battle with daily meth use, I lost everything. I was 134 pounds with a 27-inch waist, gray skin, and sick with pneumonia. I thought I was fabulous. l developed an interesting relationship with the truth and I lost the ability to be honest. Sex was not interesting unless I was high, and even then, it came with great dysfunction. I lost my connection with God unless I was praying to get out of a dire situation, but I wasn’t willing to make any changes. I kept trying to keep it all together and make a life with meth work. I’d forget to pay the electric bill and have to drape a 100-foot drop cord over the balcony and plug it into a neighbor’s wall to have power. The rent was always behind, the food in the fridge would spoil because I forgot to eat, and I was blind to these problems. I lost integrity because I couldn’t show up anywhere on time or at all. I thought my behavior was justified because other people did me wrong and I harbored resentments. The only service I provided to others was misery, drama, and my body. Living a life based on spiritual principles was nonexistent.

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Living with HIV in Recovery

Two men from CMA discuss their recovery from addiction and HIV

My Eskimo

This crystal meth addict tells how he has dealt with grief, shame, sexual identity, and HIV in recovery. And he describes his Eskimos.

I was told once that an Eskimo is someone who brings you in from the cold. My Eskimos brought me from the cold, dark depths of my addiction to a light, warm, and loving room filled with people who care. My life as an addict changed through the years. Through the trials of my addiction, many people came into my life and saved or guided me to a better path.

It was hard to be openly gay growing up in a small, redneck, religious town. It didn’t help being brought up in a strong Hispanic Catholic family. My life was sheltered due to my upbringing. My dad had a cousin who was flamboyantly gay. He was the outcast of the family and was spoken of badly by others in the community. I knew I was gay by the age of 10 and I had to hide it because of my dad’s cousin. I developed shame for being gay at that early age.

At the age of 16, I found an outlet to express myself while hiding my sexuality. I discovered modeling. I was approached by a company to model kid’s clothes, and things took off from there. It helped that I grew up close to a large city within driving distance. My parents bought me my first car, which enabled me to attend modeling events in the big city. This was my big break because I was away from my parents and for the first time, and I could truly be myself.

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On Second Thought

Touched by HIV and 9/11, and especially by meth, this CMA member, originally from Malaysia, describes the depression, hopelessness and loneliness of addiction. He found the courage to ask for help. Then his Buddhist spirituality and the Twelve Steps guided him to a new way to live.

After my ex-boyfriend and I broke up at the end of 2010, I declared the following year to be a year of partying and celebration of being single and free. So I decided to check out a few circuit parties. My ex-boyfriend and I had traveled around the country and attended circuit parties together; now it was time to experience it on my own.

I knew that at some point I would have to give up drugs altogether. I knew this because I had been using drugs for about 10 years and my life had gradually gotten worse. I was stuck in the cycle of using, craving, swearing that I would never do it again, and then restarting the cycle every two weeks.

I grew up in Malaysia in a family of alcoholics. My uncles, my aunts, and my grandfather all drank to oblivion every night. My grandmother did not drink. She and I were close.

Among the many scars of an alcoholic family, the memory that stands out the most is one of my uncle who drank so much that he had a stroke which paralyzed him from the waist down and erased most of his memory. His family had to care for him until he passed away years later. His love for alcohol was greater than his love for his family.

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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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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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