My life is so full. I have freedom, hope and dreams and I wouldn’t trade it for any amount of drugs on the planet.
But that was not the case when I finally asked for help.
I was 22, unemployed, and attending a compulsory resume course for the government.
I was so angry about having to be there, I thought I was doing fine and looked great. I had my ‘business’ in my bum bag and they were just wasting my time.
In reality, I wasn’t doing too well.
I was 42kg’s; my jeans were hanging off my hips with my boxer shorts sticking out the top. I was missing all the buttons on my shirt, had a black eye and bloody nose.
My girlfriend had left me, my old friends were nowhere to be seen, I was homeless and my car had been repossessed.
I was doing things I’d never done before to get on and I was using more than ever. I was using even when I didn’t want to, I felt that I had to. I was using against my own will.
The trainer at the course was asking me all these stupid questions and I was firing back smart arse answers one after the other. I was convinced he was targeting me. I began screaming at him and in that split second I knew I wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
Out of nowhere I said “I need to talk to someone about drugs”.
It wasn’t even my voice, and it seemed to come from deep down in my stomach.
Within seconds two elderly ladies appeared and walked me away with their arms around me. They sat me down and got me to talk. I cried for the first time in years.
They walked me across the road to a psych’s office, I had been there before but this time was different. This time I wanted help, not just more drugs.
The doctor told me about rehab and gave me a stack of pamphlets. I read the first one and knew my way wasn’t working anymore, and I said I was willing to try and do what someone else suggested for the first time in my life. We called the rehab that day.
The lady who answered the phone asked why I wanted to go to rehab. I said, “I just want to be a better person”.
It took a few weeks before I met with a counselor at that rehab and unfortunately by then my desperation had faded.
I was back in the daily routine: an entire life about getting and using drugs. I would do anything to use more – lie, cheat and steal – I knew no other way.
I admitted to the counselor that I needed help to stop using meth, I was even willing to agree to stop smoking weed for a while but I struggled with the concept of not drinking alcohol.
I kept telling her I didn’t have a problem with alcohol, I only drank a few cans (more like a bottle a day). I thought she wasn’t listening to me. I didn’t end up going to that rehab.
As I slammed the counselor’s door she called out “Maybe you should go to a meeting!”
I opened the door and asked “What’s a meeting?”
The night I attended my first meeting I saw people outside laughing and chatting, I didn’t feel like I would belong. It was a dark and cold night in the middle of winter; I hid around the corner until they all went inside.
As they were closing the door to start, I walked in. I recognised the person standing on the other side of the door; his name was Brooke. He had grown up one block behind my parent’s house.
We had used together and had had some great times, but also some horrible times. The last time I saw him he threw a crowbar through my car window and I did a burnout in his front yard. We were fighting over a point of meth.
Brooke shook my hand and said “Welcome. You’re in the right place”.
I can’t remember feeling welcome anywhere before that night; I was touched and will never forget that moment.
It wasn’t the words as much as it was his smile. I had never seen Brooke smile like that, he looked happy and healthy and genuinely glad to so me.
The first person who spoke at that meeting told us about something that was going on for them. No one else was saying anything, just listening intently.
So I interrupted and said “You know what you need to do…” but I was asked to please be quiet and just listen.
Then they asked someone else to speak and I had some questions, so I interrupted again. I was again told to please be quiet and listen.
I didn’t understand how to sit still and listen, I didn’t understand how a group of people who were like me, who had used the way I had used, could all sit in a room together and not use any drugs!
I kept looking for someone in charge, someone who was stopping these people from using!
After the meeting Brooke answered a lot of my questions and people gave me their phone numbers in case I had more, or just needed to talk.
They all said the same thing: “Keep coming back”.
At the meetings I heard some suggestions from people about how I too could stay off drugs and get my life together.
They suggested I keep coming to meetings, one a day for the first 90 days.
They suggested I get a homegroup (a meeting that I would go to each week).
They suggested I do something small to give back, like help set up the chairs before the meeting or wash the coffee cups after it.
They strongly suggested I ask someone to be my sponsor; someone who’d worked this program before and could take me through it.
And most importantly, I heard that instead of trying to stop after two, six or 20 (which rarely happened), how about I simply don’t have the first one!
I don’t remember exactly when, but it started to work.
I had found new people who didn’t drink or drug and were enjoying life. It rubbed off on me.
I kept coming to meetings, getting more phone numbers and talking to people. Before I knew it I was no longer using drugs, one day at a time.
I was going for coffee and dinner before and after the meetings, I was making new friends and generally enjoying life but after a while a new problem appeared… me. I started to feel all the feelings I had been suppressing with drugs. I didn’t know how to deal with them.
That’s when I began writing on The 12 Steps with my sponsor.
Through The Steps I learnt that I’m a good person, worthy of a life full of joy and happiness. I just have this disease called addiction that means when I put drugs or alcohol into my system, my life becomes a mess and a life full of joy and happiness becomes impossible.
That disease tries to trick me into forgetting how much of a mess my life gets. Despite all evidence to the contrary, it tries to convince me that the next time will be different… that the next time I won’t be a mess.
But I learnt that there is help, I found hope for the future and faith that the program works.
I wrote about my life and with my sponsor identified the part I played. We identified my character assets, and my patterns of behaviour that cause me pain. With his help, I am working on replacing those behaviours with more healthy ones.
The feelings are still there sometimes but they don’t have the same power anymore and I’ve learnt that they pass.
I’ve also started doing service.
My first job at my homegroup was to make sure each week the meeting had enough tea, coffee, biscuits and milk for everyone. Seems simple for any normal person but I had never done anything in my life that required consistency!
After doing that for a while I became the secretary of that meeting.
They gave me keys to a building the meeting was in, and my job was to show up early and set up, as well as welcome everyone, clean up and lock up.
I was literally given the keys to freedom! Not just my own but others’. I had never been entrusted with anything so valuable in my life. I didn’t screw it up.
It was so nice to play a small part in helping other people get well, just as I was helped.
Since then I have held a variety of positions in the fellowship, I have greeted people at the door, organised activities, worked on the website, looked after literature sales, and even acted in a play in front of hundreds of people at a convention. We are people who live full lives!
Service helped me to feel a part of.
I had never felt a part of anything. I had never felt as if I belonged. I always had many friends but never felt safe being myself or being by myself.
I was kicked out of home at the age of 14, was asked to leave school at 15, have run away or been evicted from over 40 addresses and lost over 20 jobs.
When I started coming to meetings, I was on probation at the corrections office, not allowed to leave the state for two years and my passport had been cancelled for six. I was in so much debt I was looking at bankruptcy.
All of this changed in recovery.
I have received many gifts in my recovery. Today, I am living a life beyond my wildest dreams.
CMA has taught me it’s OK to be me. It has taught me how to be a part of a community and how to be an active member of society. It’s taught me that recovery is possible, people can change and things will be OK.
It’s taught me that no matter what happens, I never need to use drugs again.
While in recovery I completed my probation and have not had any trouble with the law since. I have worked for the same company for over eight years, returned to study and today am an engineer in an industry I love.
I have reconnected with my family, attended my sister’s wedding and have a key to my parents’ home. My three-year-old nephew video called me this morning dressed as Batman.
In recovery, I live where I want to live, with people I like and without fear of eviction.
I have a licence with all my points. My car has a spare tyre. I have hundreds of friends. I have a passport and take holidays. I have been on a cruiseship, sober. I currently have flights booked for Mexico next month to drive around the desert in a rented chevy.
Today I like myself and I love my life!
Not once have I woken up in recovery wishing I had had a drink or a drug the night before, and I can tell you the ride has been far from boring. As long as I live the CMA way of life I have nothing to fear and miracles keep happening.
Check it out for yourself. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.
I hope to meet you at a meeting one day soon.