* CONTENTS *
ďWhen you deal with something
it stops coming up in your life."
When DO I Recover?
Vann G. from Atlanta
The Power of Love
The Blessings of Strife
Full Disclosure - Boe
Roy Drum : the Spirit of Writing
Lost and Found
From Isolation to Brotherly Love
There was an Electricity in the Air
A Hateful Child on a Night Spree
(click on titles to view)
Other books are addressed to issues of ongoing recovery and punch a hole in the fears that surround our service structure. This book is about what keeps NA alive and spiritual. All members draw on this source of unending inspiration, imagination and hope to stay clean. Helping others, working the 12 Steps of NA, and seeking spiritual growth all come from the Spirit of NA working. With clean time, this spirituality grows deeper yet we are still largely defined by our noisiest addict resisting the recovery process.
Far too often we are judged as a Fellowship by the noisy, unruly addicts who are not getting the NA program at all. It is part of the disease of addiction to sabotage recovery and justify continued using. Those addicts who are working their program donít get heard from and so we are committing to this work in their honor. It is time to tell more of our real recovery from those who have been clean for decades as well as those who get on the Spirit road earlier than that. With the need for re-statement, this book will include sharing from Christians, Muslims, un-believers who are spiritual, Native Americans and African Pygmies if they submit material. It is the wordless miracle of stilling the mind and catching the wind from the rising spirit within that never ends so long as life remains. Human beings of all faiths have a common duty to acknowledge the beauty and wonder of this our Higher Power's Miracle and power for life. All roads lead to the top of the mountain.
Their love and devotion to their own recovery as well as the recovery of others is a song that shall not go unsung. We will include material from internet posts, correspondence, minutes and any source within NA that illuminates or illustrates the glory and beauty of this spiritual way of life. Let it begin here.
Beginning with surrender to the fact of our addiction and the 12 Step recovery program of Narcotics Anonymous, we find ourselves with unaccountable luck. Expecting the worst, we are able to stabilize and go through whatever initial withdrawal symptoms we have. Then, even in our weakened state, we are able to get a place to stay, find some form of work and begin to renew our connection with humanity by making new friends among clean addicts and in the outside world. Hope begins to rise in our heart like the return of a lost friend. At some point in our recovery, we begin to sense a higher power that we can trust and understand. This begins a journey that will revolutionize our lives. It is important that we remember to maintain our surrender and we will continue to get the progress and recovery we need. Those who begin to make decisions based on ego and self-interest soon find themselves besieged and preoccupied with holding on to their gains rather than doing their job well and trusting to the process.
In Loving Service,
This book is being written as a group project of the NA Foundation Group. It is intended to address the needs of NA members worldwide and our hope is that you readers will have something to contribute. There is a wealth of unpublished material in our correspondence files, internet posts, speaker tapes and other sources to compile this work. We may also welcome and include original material written just for this work. Let the members who service this website know your reactions by mail or email and your input will be addressed in our periodic conferences as announced on the www.nawol.org website.
Introduction to the Stories -
Because this is a new effort and because of the unusual nature of our first story, let us make plain our desire to include all sorts of spiritual belief and practice that we find among our membership. Inclusion, not excluding, is our aim here. Hindu, Buddhist, Christian - Catholic and Protestant, Native American, Jain, Zen, Wicca and the many spiritual shades of gray. It is always illuminating to delve into the working belief and practices of those who are living a spiritual life. Define spiritual as loving, caring, principled, taking time to life our own lives well and time to help those we encounter on our journey through life. Even those who point with scorn and ridicule at the beliefs of others forget that the answers lie within their heart, not at the end of their finger. The journey to a spiritual life can be frightening especially if we come from fear-based living. Step by step, the obstacles to a clean and happy life fall away and we gain the freedom to look at things the way they are and not as they are supposed to be. We learn to trust ourselves and to trust others. Each awakening leads to one greater than before.
We hope to include many varieties of applied spirituality as utilized by clean addicts living the NA 12 Steps. Once we stopped using, our disease went on to manifest itself in all the areas of money, property and prestige. Sex, security and society continue to be frustrating issues involving lust, greed and pride. Replacing fear with faith, we go on together - the NA way!
In Loving Service,
Bo S. - December 2006
"When you deal with something spiritually, it stops coming up in your life."
"Can you recall the first meeting you went to where everyone present qualified only as an addict?"
"Spiritual non-attachment allows us to move through life without getting stuck."
"All lasting recovery is based on unconditional love."
ďWhen you deal with something spiritually,
it stops coming up in your life."
This quote taken from the One Liners section of The Spirit of NA reminded me of an incident that occurred if my memory serves me correctly shortly after my Third yr. Clean celebration in 1989 but actually started when I was 8 or 9 yrs. old.
About that time in my life I started resenting my adopted mother and siding with my adopted father. Over the next 10 yrs. my resentments grew and by the age of 21, I had returned home from the military a full blown using addict, only to discover that she had divorced my father as a result of his addiction. At this time I naturally chose to once again side with my father. In the beginning, I would frequently visit my mother and these visits always turned into arguments so I soon began shutting her out of my life to the point of crossing over to the other side of the street if saw her coming in my direction , just to avoid confronting her.
This continued for a few yrs and then my father died as a result of his disease. At this time I chose to make up with my mother but I had alternative motives and I used her to aid my financial status and feed my addiction by playing on her guilt. I continued doing this for about 4 yrs. Then, I settled my fathers estate, got my inheritance and at the same time as God would have it my mother got remarried . So we said our Goodbyes and each went our own merry way. This would be the last time I would ever speak to my mother. I think that this was in 1977.
Over the next 4yrs I chose to delibertly not contact my mother in any way, of let her know if I were alive or dead. I also discontinued communication with any remaining family members.
I n 1981 I found myself living in Miami, Fl. and an aunt of mine tracked me down from an old Phone # after going though 4 states and several old friends over a 3 to 4 month time period, to inform me that my mother had died calling my name and not knowing if I were alive or dead. Ironically, she was living within a 100 miles from me at the time. Armed , with this knowledge I disappeared once again into my addiction only to re-emirge 5 yrs later and 3000 miles away when I walked into the rooms of NA and said ď my name is Lester and I am an addict.
Needless to say, I carried a lot of shame and guilt into these rooms with me. Over the next 3yrs. the subject of my mother kept coming up at least 2 to 3 time a yr. And would send me into a funk that would last for weeks. Nothing, that I could do seemed to help. Working the steps, talking to my sponsor and a therapist, writing letters to God and then burning them, talking about it in meetings, all to little or no avail, giving me only temporary relief at the most.
Then several months following my 3rd yr . anniversary I went on a NA Campout in the mountains of Northeastern Or. & Southeastern WA over by Devils Canyon. I took with me the balloon that was given to me at my 3rd anniversary. I think it was on the the 2nd morning there that I awoke before everyone else and walked a little ways away from the campground and sat down in scenic area, prayed and then wrote a letter to God, humbly asking that he make this amends to my mother for me seeming that I could not. And vowed that to the best of my ability I would try and never treat another human with the disrespect that I had shown my mother. I then tied the note to the balloon which still some helium in it, released it and gave it to God.
It has now been over 17 yrs since I gave that balloon to God, and I have not been plagued with remorse, guilt, or shame surrounding events with my adopted mother since that morning.
My name is Lester and I am an Addict In Recovery. A very good friend of mine recently asked me to put this story down on paper. Here it is.
Right around my 3rd anniversary in N.A. I was working for a company in Portland, Oregon that paid me what I considered to be good money. It was more than I had ever made as an hourly wage. But my life was rapidly becoming unmanageable, as far as stress was concerned. I was working a forty hour week, going to 10 to 15 meetings a week, doing H&I two or three times a month., going to area service and participating on several sub-committees and doing local functions whenever I could, while taking a bus everywhere that I went.
So, when I found myself getting all stressed out, it immediately became the jobs
fault and my other activities had absolutely nothing to do with it. Armed with this knowledge I quickly decided that I don't need the money, this job isn't worth the stress, So I quit my job and took a lesser paying job as a dishwasher at a local treatment center. Everything went fine, no more
stress in my life. This lasted for about thirty days. Then one morning I got fired from my job.
There I was walking down the street in Portland, Oregon, jobless for the 1st time in recovery. While walking down the street my 1st thought was "Why ME?" Then It occurred to me that it was my time for this to happen. I then went to a noon meeting and talked about my getting fired. Next, I went home and started writing by that evening I was at Step 5. I picked up the phone and called my sponsor. By mid-day the following day I had gone through all 12 Steps and within 2 days out of the blue I had received two phone calls from people who had heard that I might be in the job market. Both were companies I had previously worked for and both had job offers. one of them was the job I had quit because of stress.
I then proceed to tell both companies that I would interview with them and then I was going to take one week to make a
decision as to who I would go to work for. Both companies agreed to these terms. True to my word I interviewed with both and then took a week off to decide. In the end I went back to work for the company that I had quit because of stress, and stayed with them
for another nineteen years.
What was different? During the interviews I learned the art of negotiation, something that would never have occurred tome a month earlier. I was able to re-negotiate conditions and went back to work as a part time employee making the same hourly wage that I was making when I quit.
I also learned through this experience that I could apply the Steps to any given situation, anywhere and at anytime. And that it need not be a long drawn out affair. Admit my powerlessness and unmanageability, come to believe, surrender m will and my life, inventory my defects and assets, share this this with God and another person, take another look at my defects to see which ones I am acting on, humbly ask the god of my understanding to remove my shortcomings, ask who I have harmed and become willing to make amends except when to do so would injure them of others, with the guidance of a sponsor make those amends, continue to inventory, consciously work to improve my contact with a god of my understanding and tell others of my recovery.
Seventeen years latter. Recovery still works.
Yours in Service,
Titusville WOLF Group
A Zen monk went to the Master in his quarters and shared the pain he felt due to a problem he had with anger. He would on occasion get very anger and act out in various ways unbecoming a Buddhist monk, living a monastic life of contemplation. The Master was very concerned and wanted to help the monk who came in such humble sincerity and sought his guidance on an embarrassing issue.
The Master told him that it was a terrible thing and that he would help him any way he could. He asked the Monk to display his anger so that he could see it and help him deal with it. The Monk looked up confused and said, "Well, Master, I am here in peace with you. I can not be angry here." The Master said, "Well, then. Perhaps the anger is no with you."
Watching a Walt Disney movie about a dog growing up on a farm, I had a memorable perception. The story line was about a young German Shepard puppy who was terrified by a huge goose drake. The goose was very aggressive and would flap its wings - which appeared big as a house to the puppy - and honk while striking at the cringing little dog whining in a corner under the assault. As the summer went by the dog grew and grew but still was conditioned to run from the big bully of a drake. Finally, in the fall, the pup was nine months old and the goose took one more run at the pup. Cornered one more time the pup began to whine and whimper but then a look spread across its face. It could see that it was standing as high as the goose now and that the goose, well the goose was not quite as big as it once appeared. Turning and facing its life long enemy head on for the first time, it gave a slight 'grrr' and the goose fled in terror.
Sitting in an omelet restaurant on South Cobb Drive in Smyrna, Georgia about thirty years ago, I was talking to a fellow NA member about my higher power. I said that though it may seem incredible to some, my higher power was watching and guiding me every minute of every day. For a handy example, I told him that if I picked up the newspaper another customer had left on our table, I could open it at random and point without looking and there would be something interesting there. He laughed uneasily and told me to give it a try. Without hesitation, I flipped the newspaper open and plonked my index finger down while gazing at the ceiling.
We both looked with interest and were surprised to see the article was headed: "US Government spends $50,000 to find out what a 'bore' is." We read the short article and it was serious. After research and study, they concluded that a bore is a person who talks without basing what they say on facts and personal disclosure about the subject. Interesting. When I talk today, I try to at least emphasize factual items related to the topic and disclose and relevant information about my own part in things. Funny, I can recall all this clear as a bell but I can't recall who I was talking to...
In Loving Service,
is the big deal about today? Or,
may I ask,
yesterday is gone and tomorrow is only a fantasy -
The dictionary says
reality is : that which exists (the past existED, it no longer existS) in
contrast to something merely conceived of (the future).
My disease wants me
out of reality (insane), ultimately by being high. But, if not high then, stuck
in the past in my head or looming out worrying or fantasizing about the future,
will suit this cunning disease just fine.
It knows, if I am not
in the now, in my mind, then I am not in reality.
No, God is only here
and now in this moment, in each moment,
patiently waiting for me to pay attention.
So, if my mind is "thinking" off back in the past or out in the
future, I am not in conscious contact with God.
That is my God, who is here and now in the only reality, waiting for me
to focus on the now and thus actively be present with my loving Creator.
What is the big deal about today? When DO I recover? If not today, then when? If not now, in the moment (the only reality) then when? My disease says - never - haha. It reasons with me in my mind, "today you need to work, silly. You will go to your meeting tomorrow. You have lots of bills to pay and you are broke from your active addiction. Work is good." "Today you need to rest. You are tired afterall and you must take care of yourself so give up your meeting today to rest." "Today you don't feel that good. What does it matter that no matter how bad you felt you would go out and get your drugs if you were jonesing? That was then, this is now and you are clean. Whats the big deal?" "Today you need to help someone who really doesn't want to or is not really able to benefit from your help. But, go ahead and ignore your needs just today and help them. Its the right thing to do." "Today you need to be with your child. Your child is more important than a meeting isn't she? You have neglected her enough. Do not put a meeting today ahead of your child." "Today you need to clean your home." "You'll get to a meeting this week." What's the big deal about today? Its only one day. My mind/ my disease logically reasons with me. "Today you need to pay attention to your man. He needs your time." "Today, you need to do your laundry." "Today you need to take a break from meetings anyway." My mind/ my disease convinces me that doing this and that for my recovery to save my life is just dribble and not all that important today.
Why do I believe it
is OK to work my recovery when it is convenient?
Did I only use when it was convenient?
In the end, was using convenient to you?
My disease convinces me its a good idea to take a break from something
that literally saves my life. Is
that crazy? It tells me I am being
selfish today to put recovery before anything or anyone else. My mind tells me to lighten up and that recovery is not
really about life or death, at least not today.
"I am fine today. After
I'll do it tomorrow. What's the big
deal about today?" " So what, if I thought about using every day.
So what, if I have this disease every day.
I will do what I need to do tomorrow.
Today I need a break."
Wait a minute, how
can I forget, the pipe dream of tomorrow? Tomorrow...
when I believed I would use less or actually quit.
I believed in tomorrow for hundreds of days but it never came.
In recovery, tomorrow is also a pipe dream in terms of how it applies to
my recovery. My disease
(mind) uses the pipe dream of tomorrow to keep my life stuck out of the reality
of the now, stuck in unmanagablity and the pipe dream of tomorrow keeps me away
from recovery today. This disease
is totally satisfied working me one day at a time, keeping me away form
recovery, keeping me from making time to call my sponsor, or read literature, or
pray, or get to a meeting - just for today.
One day at a time, my disease/ mind keeps me from working my program as
it waits for me to give up, due to lack of inside progress and just go use one
My disease/ mind
kindly tells me, "give yourself a break , take it easy".
Just for today, "I don't have to do that recovery stuff today, I'll
do it tomorrow, I did it yesterday." I
am not aware that there is no recovery bank to draw from. I can only recover each day, one day at a time, in the only
I must be responsible
and take care of my responsibilities or I am just acting like I did when I was
using, right? My disease directs me to be self-determined to fix my
life on the outside. It wants me to
feel in control. It does not want
me to put recovery first and actually allow the God of my understanding to care
for me. "After all, I have too
much to do and too many things to take care of to work steps."
"I'll do that later when I have more time...when I get back on my
feet." It tells me to do it
all myself. And, the outside stuff
makes me feel good. Attending to the outside stuff makes me feel better.
The job, the family, the home, my health such as by exercising....all of
that stuff really feels good. Doesn't
regaining outside stuff mean I am recovering?
Wait a minute. Before, I had
a marriage, a great job, my child, a beautiful home, prestige, a health club
membership, lots of money, vacations, fancy cars.
Did any of that keep me clean? No.
Did any of that keep you clean? Will
gaining or regaining any of that outside stuff keep you clean?
Let's get really simple. Is brushing my teeth more important to my life, to today, than working a program of recovery? Unlike during active addiction, I do now brush my teeth each morning no matter what. I do not go up in my head to 'decide' if I am going to brush them or not. "Hmmmm...I brushed them yesterday. My breath won't be too bad for one day. It'll be OK. I'll brush them tomorrow." I learn to approach my meeting attendance in much the same way. I have become aware that, if I go up in my head (where my disease resides) to 'decide' if I can go to a meeting today, I will decide not to, just for today. After all, I have so many other important, caring, and responsible things to attend to. So, I do not even decide. Just like I do not 'decide' to brush my teeth or not. I just do it. It is part of my daily life.
Recovery is that
important to my life. My very
survival. My potential to thrive.
If I do not brush my teeth I might lose friends and I will eventually
lose my teeth. If I do not recover,
I will lose friends, my mind, my partner, my daughter, my home, my job, my
health, and eventually I will lose all freedom and my very life.
So, I ask again: Does my behavior indicate that brushing my teeth today is a
more important priority than getting to a meeting?
What does it mean -
anything I put before my recovery, I will lose?
If I put my child before recovery , I will lose her?
Today, if I put my home's cleanliness before recovery, I will lose my
home? Come off of it.
Isn't that silly? If I put work before my recovery just today, I will lose my
job? If I put my relationship with
my partner before recovery today, I will lose the relationship?
Is recovery really a big deal today?
Is it really a big deal every day? Let's
see, if I do not work on my recovery today, in the only reality, I will not
recover one day at a time. String
all those days of not recovering together and get weeks and months of
"responsibly" taking care of other business and not recovering.
I will use eventually. I am
an addict. My brain is wired to
use. There is no cure. Without recovery addicts use.
I will end up the walking dead on the streets, in jail or prison or dead.
I will lose it all. What
about you? Or, are you different? Does
this one day, the only reality, matter to your life or not?
Do you have time to recover today? Can
you really afford not to?
With Love from an Addict in Florida
My name is Scotty. I am an addict.
Here is a little about me. I was raised in Calif. I starting getting loaded at a young age. Both of the parents were drug addicts. I had rough childhood. What I remember of my childhood - we moved around a lot. My mother would leave me at someoneís house for days. I always felt like an outsider.
My father died when I eight years old. I felt lost. I remember shutting down. I would not let any one get close. I was scared and felt alone. By this time my mother was locked up in C.R.C. I had to live with my aunt. There was a lot of drinking, she and my uncle did. And there was a lot of abuse. I felt god hated me. I lived there for two and a half years. My mother had gotten out of C.R.C. I went back to live with her. She was still getting loaded. My mom used to smoke pot with me. When I was stoned, I could escape from the things going on in my life. I grew up feeling no emotion. I was taught not to show feelings. I would stuff my feelings. I never felt love from my mother.
She never said, "I love you." or shared any emotion. I felt that she hated me. As I got older, drugs became part of my life. I would use to escape so I did not have to feel the pain I carried aroudn with me. I started getting in trouble. I hated my home life. I made friends with gang members. It was the first time I felt support from a bunch of guys. It was the first time I felt a part of something. Still getting loaded and drinking.
I ran away from home. Hanging out with my home boys, getting loaded and drunk. I had to stuff my feelings of pain. I would take out on anyone that got in my way. I stayed loaded for years. I began going to jail. I felt everyone was against me. I was full of anger and rage. I started selling drugs. I started to carry a gun. I started doing things I said I would not do. I tried to get a job and tried to stop using but I could not stop using and I would lose that job. My life was insane. I thought it was normal to feel the way I do. Here I was, thinking I can control my life, all I need was to stop dealing. I was full of so much pain, full of resentment, anger. I hated the world. I went to a meeting of AA when I was fifteen. I thought they were full of bullshit. I had been in and out of jails since I was a kid. The only life I knew was getting high. I ran from my feelings for years. When I turned eighteen and was still dealing and still feeling so alone. I woudl use drugs and didnít feel alone anymore.
In 1983, still shooting drugs and living out of motel rooms. I knew I would have to stop. My mother has been clean for two years at that time. She took me to my first NA meeting. I got clean for a week and would get loaded again. I thought I could do this myself. I went in and out of the rooms for years.
In 1987 I finally got willing to change. Went to treatment and I found NA again. This time I did hear what they were saying. I found a sponsor, started working the 12 Steps and going to meetings daily. I found HP and things were changing in my life. I wanted to be clean so bad.
I got into service. My first service position was being a secretary for a group. I would set up for the meeting and make coffee. And when the meeting was over, I could clean up. This made me feel a part of. Then, one day I lost hope and got loaded again. But came back and the Fellowship was there for me. In 2000, I went out again. the disease had me believe if I got loaded and my life would be ok. I started to believe my own lies. I went to jail again. While I was in jail, I got to go to meetings and there again I found hope and I knew I needed to change the way I was living. I moved to Arizona and found NA again. I went to meetings daily and did service. I found home again.
Today, my recovery is bliss. I found HP and God of my understanding. Today I donít have to be afraid of my feelings or fear. Today, I can recover. I am blessed with many gifts in recovery. I share e-s-h with other addicts and it is time to change the way I think of things. My recovery today is I donít have to get loaded over the pain and my feelings. Today, I can face the fear and recover.....
Van G. - Atlanta
My nameís Page and Iím an addict. Hi everybody.
The next speaker is someone else who is very near and dear to me. There is kind of a chain of events here today that go, you know, down the line.
There was Bo, giving it to me and actually at the point where it came into my mind for me to get it, I was robbing a hospital in 1979. January of 1981 and Jim and Bo were sitting on the front porch of the Clubhouse of the Rising Sun and I just had this moment of clarity that I had better stop using drugs.
Well that was Labor Day of 1979
January of 1981 me and this other guy Cecil L. with two weeks less clean time than Bo, were riding out to the Brauner meeting and we were reflecting on the we used to shoot narcotics and how the people who always had the best narcotics were black people and how there were no black people in the Fellowship.
So, Cecil and I were going to the meeting at Brawners Hospital that evening. We agreed if we see any black people in the meeting we need to really focus on them. So, we walked in there and sure enough, there were two black people in the meeting
And me and Cecil were walking in and one was an astute looking guy with glasses and everything like that and the other was a rough looking guy with an afro. So Van was the rough looking guy. So, Cecil said Iíll take the guy with glasses and you take the street looking guy and that was Van G.
And Van was the first black person, black man, to get clean and stay clean in Atlanta, Georgia. and that was a daunting task back then cause there were no black people. If I turn the tables on that and think if the tables were turned and that were me, would I have the courage to come back day after day in the deep south prejudice environment and I donít know if I would have.
It was hard enough for me to tell Van when I brought him home from treatment - cause he had asked me to be his sponsor - uh, it was hard enough for me just to address that racial issue
But I did, I told Van there is going to come a time when you look around the room and youíre not going to see any other black people and your disease is going to tell you that you donít belong here. And I said, "You know, donít listen to it - stay."
And he did and if you ever come to Atlanta and want to see what that brought, you ought to see the miracle. I mean they got the West End Convention, the Midtown Area, itís a miracle and with that I give you Van G.
Iím Van G. and Iím an addict. I gonna use this, here in just a minute (this mike). I guess Iím gonna qualify a little bit. I got clean in January 15, 1981 and I havenít found it necessary to pick up a pill, fix or drink since that time. I believe in total abstinence. Today, I know for a fact that dope ainít my problem. Dope ainít my problem. You know I got a problem that will make me use some dope this afternoon if I ainít careful. That thing came in the door with me tonight
And itís the same thing I suffered with 25 years ago. Today I know the monkey isnít on my back but it damn sure follows me around. So if not using dope was the solution to my problem, Iíd be well by now. So, I just want to say a few things, first of all I just want to speak on a few things. First I want to congratulate everybody who shared tonight
I want to thank everybody itís such a nice day, I havenít been bored. Because today what I like a good discussion meeting. And today I have been privileged to hear some of the best speakers Iíve heard in a long time. People who knew what they were talking about, people who understood the process of recovery and know what they are talking about. Even the lady with three years, she seemed to know what she was talking about.
Iíd like to thank my sponsor: If there was not for Page C. there would be no Van G. Seriously, he saved my life. He picked me out of a crowd and he saved my life. At that time a good friend of mine named Billy B was telling me how Page would look when he came to a meeting and I would come in behind him and Page would look like ĎLook what I got.í
So, it was a very interesting time.
And I would also like to thank Bo S. for taking the time to talk to me and tell me things like, "You canít screw you way into recovery." and stuff like that because I really thought that was what it was all about and I didnít have a clue.
But tonight I want to take us to another level. I know we talked about service structure. I know we talked about not using drugs, things like that. We talked about clean time and stuff like that. But I kinda want to talk about two words that are found in "Our Symbol" that are very important and those words are occult and esoteric.
In our symbol, it says, "We can find all sorts of occult and esoteric connotations in the simple outline but foremost in our mind were easily understood meanings and relationships." And this occult thing is dealing with the supernatural. It some magic that goes on in these meetings. It ainít nothing we do. Itís almost magical.
I know I dope-fiended my mother! And for me to stop using? Iíd steal my Motherís money and cry all my way to the dope house but I still shot dope with the money. And to stop that? Aw, that was magical. That was beyond human conception. That was hidden from view. What this program has to offer is not only simple, it is deep. It is beyond the obvious.
Just like when you walk into a room, there are obvious things going on like chairs and people and coffee and humans and coca colas and computers but we donít see the electricity running through the wall, the plumbing, the ductwork. Those things are hidden from view. They are beyond the obvious. They are the things that make the obvious possible. Thatís what this occult is about. Supernatural things. See?
Also, esoteric. Esoteric means Ďfor a select few.í For a select few. That everybody ainít gonna get this thing. Most people ainít gonna be able to get past the obvious. You start explaining duct work, electricity in the walls and most people say, "Naw, I canít see nothing but the chairs. I canít see anything but the table. I can see the carpet." Because in order to see beyond the obvious, youíre gonna have to look with an eye different from this eye. Cause we canít see through walls But we know electricity wires are there, donít we?
It is for the initiate. What in the hell does that mean? It is for the initiate.
Yes. Yes. You have to be initiated into this new way of life. Into this Ďbeyond the obvious.í It is esoteric: for a select few.
What are the qualifications for initiation? Those who dare to be honest with themselves. And I donít mean being honest with myself like, "I didnít steal anything today." But I mean being honest on a deeper lever. Be honest about - who we really are. How honest can I be when I am denying who I really am.
Now, in the beginning I had no idea who I was, I had no idea.. I thought I was Van the black man and all I had to do was get rid of all the white folks, get back to Africa and everything was gonna be alright. Thatís what I thought.
I had a job driving a truck. They say, "Who you Van?" I said, "I am a truck driver." Then they fired me and said "I said I donít know what I am, I ainít no truck driver anymore."
I never was a truck driver. I am not what I do. I am not my activity. I am not a sum total of my activities. Some of the activities I have done are gone. If I was my activity, Iíd be gone too. But Iím not gone, Iím right here.
So today we know itís about getting honest. And my honesty comes in degree according to my realization of the truth. It is impossible to be honest from a dishonest position. And the dishonest position I was trying to get honest from was thinking I was black, thinking that I was male, thinking that I was good NA member, or thinking something here belonged to me.Or thinking that this was thine and this was mine and donít you touch mine.
Today, where our program has taken me is to a spiritual awakening. Itís has taken me to a spiritual awakening. The first time I worked Step 4, what does Step 4 say? It says, "We did a searching fearless moral inventory of ourselves." And the last word from that Step is what I kept overlooking. I want to inventory everything except me. I wanted to inventory my sex history. I wanted to inventory my using history and I came up with a big pile of stuff on the table and none of that was me.
The very first sentence in Step 4 says, "The purpose of a searching and fearless moral inventory is to search through the confusion and contradiction of our lives so that we can find out who we really are."
And if you apply Step 4 and you donít come to the conclusion that who you really are, how can you say you worked Step 4? Now, you can inventory anything you want to but that donít mean that inventory is Step 4. The most important word in that sentence is Ďmyself.í
Now, who is self? I had no idea who self was. I thought self was Ďblack.í I thought I died. I know today that none of us make it tothe grave.
I thought Ďthis selfíwas black. I thought Iíd die. But I know it for a fact today none of us make it to the grave. We;íre long gone out of these bodies before we are put in the ground. None of us make it to the grave, we all cheat death. This is a spiritual program. What the hell does that mean? What is the spirit? Webster says, "The spirit is the animating force of the body." So, the body is not even animate. It is the spirit that makes the body animate.
So, this program is much deeper than we think. Why do we want to get to this next level? Why do we want to get to this next level? We want to get to this next level because of what we have on page ninty-six of our literature. It says, "Ongoing recovery is dependent on a relationship with a Loving God who does for us what we find impossible to do for ourselves."
Itís not just a bickering over the literature. Itís not just a hee-hawing over whoís doing what and whoís doing this, if we donít get to this next level, whatís the use? If we donít try to please this loving God, whatís the purpose? Whatís the purpose? Because all this stuff we are fighting over is temporary. Itís impossible to apply spiritual principles from a material position.
Hope is a spiritual principle, right? How much hope can you have relying on things that are here today and gone tomorrow? Faith is a spiritual principle but how much faith can you have in something that not going to last noway? All this stuff is temporary. And if we continue to place our value on the temporary existence of things, weíre going to be real disappointed when they are gone. This relationship with god is the only real relationship. All other relationships are real but they damn sure ainít permanent. So, it behooves me to cultivate this permanent relationship with God cause when it comes time to sever this relationship with my wife, my children. With this I. With this I. Iím gonna have to give up this I. With this I. Oh, Lord, where did my wife go. Why did she have to go before I even met her.
So, itís about going to another level. Itís about going to a spiritual level.
Spirituality is without the slightest tinge of material or material desire. Now, letís face it, we cannot make our activities zero, weíre here. We have to make the best out of a bad bargain. We are here. Itís not that we are not going to have to interact with the material, weíre going to have to interact with the material. But the way we do that is to use this stuff for whom it rightfully belongs. And that serving God is not a particular activity but itís a state of consciousness in which all activity should be performed. And this consciousness is that God owns everything and you should use everything for whom it rightfully belongs. Cause when I use things for God, there no repercussions for my using but when I use things for Van, I suffer the reactions of my own damn action. The trouble with that is you canít flex God
He knows my sincerity, he knows my heart. There is no way I can flex Him. So, this is a very important thing, of going to the next level. What is the next level?
After we stop using, after we get clean, after we stop using. What is the next level? Is it to continue collecting toys?
No matter how big your mansion is up on the hill, youíre not going to be able to live in it forever.
Everything got to go. Itís here to day - and gone tomorrow. See? Thatís the truth.
I had a spiritual awakening in this program. It was so profound. That thing was so profound it changed my entire value system It changed my entire value system. That awakening was that I am not even the body. I am the spirit soul inside this body.
Iím the person inside this body that makes my eyes light up and see. That makes the tongue taste and the legs walk. If you took me out of this body, could these eyes see? Hell, no. These eyes canít see. Iím inside this body looking through these eyes.
When I really took a 4th Step, it went something like,. " I am not the body, I am the spirit inside the body. Nothing here belongs to me. Everything here belongs to God. Iím unchangeable. Iím eternal. I canít be burned. I canít be wetted. Nor can I be detected with any material or material devices. And I not slain when the body is slain." Now, thatís an inventory of me, not an inventory of my activities. thatís an inventory of me. Who I am.
I am an eternal spiritual person, Iím not a temporary material body. Iím not a body that possesses a soul. I am a spirit soul that possesses a body. Thatís the truth.
And everything is subject to revision, especially what we know about the truth. Cause at one time, I didnít know that truth. At one time, I thought I was black and you was white and you were
female and such and such and on and on, whatever and all those designations are based on the body and when the body is gone, all those designations are gone too. And when we get to the spiritual platform, there is no duality. The duality is only on the material sphere.
On the spiritual platform, there is only oneness. Everything is of the same quality. Every thing is pure spirit. Everything is eternal, on the spiritual platform. It ainít like on the material platform where everything has a creation time, a maintenance period, and a destruction time.
On the spiritual platform, there is no need for creation time and destruction time, everything is eternal. That doesnít mean there is not variety.
On the spiritual platform there are tables, chairs and persons. There are tables, chairs and persons, they are just spiritual. They are just spiritual. Everything always is. Nothing ever goes away.
The spiritual world is not a myth. Itís not a myth. Thatís where we come from. Thatís where weíre trying to get back to. Thatís the whole purpose of the Narcotics Anonymous program.
Where we can surrender to this loving, caring God and get home.
And if youíre not trying to get home, it donítí make no difference what youíre trying to do. Like a man in prison, if youíre not trying to get out of prison, it donít make any difference what you do - youíre still in prison. Youíre not going to be able to keep this Ďstuff.í No matter how shiny your car is in the parking lot, or how much money you got in the bank.
I sponsor this lady and she was going back to get your nursing degree and she quit going to meetings. She called me on the phone and she was telling me about her degree and what I thought about it. And I said, well, if you think your certificate is so important when death comes, show him your certificate, see if it matters. Show him your bank account. Tell him how much clean time you got. When death comes creeping in your room early one morning. And itís coming. Everyone of us is going to get sick and die. Iím telling you now, itís coming. Itís gonna come at a time to die when you donít even see. No matter what kind of job you got, itís gonna come a time when you get there. So, if you place your value in this, youíre going to be real disapointed in the end. Rude awakening.
When this thing was twenty-one years old, you couldnít tell me shit. I thought I was Godís gift to women - and I was cute too. Now Iím 54 years old, mean to her in the morning when I wake up. Grey hairs all over. What I used to do all night, now it takes me all damn night to do. You know what I am talking about. I donít sock it to Ďem no more, I just lay it on Ďem now.
Iím just so thankful to the Narcotics Anonymous program for pointing me to a new way of life
Not just the same old way of life and not doing dope, but to a new way of life, a spiritual way of life. That we can live spiritually. We can recognize who we really are and go on and live spiritually. We can have a spiritual awakening. What does that mean? That means I was asleep, asleep to who I really am. You see?
The spiritual awakening is waking up to who I really am. Not who I thought I was, but who I really am. To God we are all feminine. God is the dominator, and we are the dominated.
There is a Rabbi who said it a different way. He said God is the groom and we are the bride
and everybody is invited to the wedding. You know what I mean. So, this thing about being macho is really not. We should do to God what a bride does on her wedding night and we should submit.
And I tell my sponsees, if you donít know what God is, surrender to the program. I heard talk a few minutes ago, and it says in Recovery and Relapse, it says, "We have never seen anybody relapse who surrendered to the Narcotics Anonymous program." Thatís in Recovery and Relapse. Itís even in this book. We have never seen anybody relapse. Weíve never seen anyone relapse. It didnít say Ďrarely. If you work this program, youíre guaranteed not just to stay clean but to recover.
When I first got to the program, I thought, when I heard the word recovery, and when I heard the word addiction, my mind automatically went to negativity. I thought addiction was something I had to get rid of. But today, I know addiction is simply an overwhelming, obsessive, compulsive desire. It is neither negative or positive. Itís actually neutral. Now, when I point this neutral desire negatively, it becomes the disease of addiction. The disease of addiction is mis-directing this overwhelming obsessive, compulsive desire. Misconceived ideas.
When I point this same desire positively, it becomes what we call recovery. Recovery is properly directing this overwhelming, obsessive, compulsive desire, remembering my relationship with God, and acting in it. This relationship is that He is the master, I am the servant, that donít never change. My duty in this relationship is obedience. What I encourage my sponsees to do in the group conscience, donít forget the decision we made in Step 3.
What is that decision? To turn my will and my life over to the care of this God. What is my will? My will is my thinking. What is my life? My everyday activity. We made a decision to start thinking for him and acting for him.
Wonder what God would think? Not, I should vote my opinion. I should do what Jim says, we should get together and make some all inclusive policies, not exclusive policies.
You know, how we got in our meeting, "Are you a member of this home group? You ainít a member of this home group, you canít do that. Page, did you help mop this floor? No? Well, you canít walk on it then" Thatís the kind of policy weíre making. Itís called selfish policy.
Include a few, exclude a great many. You see? We got groups in our area, in our region, that say that, "If you ainít a member of this group, you canít participate in service to this home group. Only the home group members can participate in this service." See how that sounds?
We got a statement in just about every one of our formats that says, "Youíre a member of Narcotics Anonymous when you say you are. But youíre a member of this group when you sign a pledge and make a promise." You got to promise to come to five business meetings and you got to sign our group booklet.
And right in our literature it says, because this, the 3rd Tradition is so simple thereís no need no group roster. Cause youíre a member when you say you are. You ainít a member when no group says you are. Youíre a member when you say you are. And that goes for groups too. In our group booklet, "You can be a member of any group you want to, all you got to do is say so. In our area, they voting on members. They voting on who can be a member and who canít. They got a thing, saying if you donít have a home group, youíre homeless. And in many parts of the world, they ainít even never heard of no damn home group. But you donít have to join Narcotics Anonymous twice. They are forcing you to join Narcotics Anonymous twice. They got it where if you donít have a home group, you canít even participate in service.
At the Georgia Region, they roped off seats. Seats. They roped out seats for the big shots who paid for the banquet. All this is done under what we were talking about, management and control
Because they believe that you canít have structure without management and control. They forgot about us the program was working fine when they got here.
You know, they say, "Thank God for the predecessor!" but they donít want to hear a damn thing you got to say. They donít want to hear what works. And Iím like Bo, we can tear this thing right up. We can tear it up. All we got to do is continue the way weíre going and weíre going to become a corporation concerned only about money. At the world convention, registration was $65. $65. Itís already our money. Itís already our money. I could see it if it wasnít our money.
You know, theyíre hustling. They hustling. Itís like, say for instance, what they do is, they take up donations from the group, pass it on to the area, and the region and the world and they buy literature, they print literature, and turn around and sell us the literature most of the time on a marked up price
Itís like I get ten dollars from you and I buy hats with it and then I come back and sell you the hats. Thatís a good hustle ainít it?
(From the audience, "What does it cost to print the book?")
Ten dollars. A dollar twenty-three to print the book!
So, there is one statement here in More Will Be Revealed, and IĎm going to read it. Itís one of my favorite statements. It says, "While using, we thought that we had fun and that non-users were deprived of it. Spirituality enables us to live life to the fullest, felling grateful for what we are and what we have done in life. Since the beginning of our recovery, we have found that joy doesnít come from material things but from within ourselves. We find that when we lose self-obsession, we are able to understand what it means to be happy, joyous and free. Indescribable joy. Indescribable joy comes from sharing from the heart." Itís simple honesty. We no longer have to lie to gain acceptance. You know what Iíll do to get accepted? Iíll use dope to be accepted. I did it for 18 years
Iíll do anything to be accepted. And I Ďm proving it right here in Narcotics Anonymous. Iíll stay clean to be accepted.
(You got that right!)
I just want to reiterate a few points, and that is . . . The Narcotics Anonymous program is spiritual and it is highly suggested that each one of us find a Higher Power of our understanding. Thatís not the ending, thatís the beginning because God is not formed according to the whims of the worshiper.
He is not as I understand him. He is what he is. The whole purpose is to get to know him as he is. It begins with how I understand him but it should end in how he is.
The word God is not a person. The word god is not a person, the word God is a position. But there is a person who holds the position. Do you know who he is?
Just like the word president is not a person, it is a position. but thereís a person who holds the position president do you know who he is?
Imagine going to the Oval Office and not meeting George Bush and coming back saying you met the president. Well, thatís the way we do God. And the reason why we make him so unapproachable, because if he was approachable, and a personality we that we could approach, then we not only have to approach him weíd have to do what he say do.
But if we make him unapproachable, we can make it up as we go. You know how we say, "Your higher power donít let you do that? Well, my higher power, he let me do this."
Ha, ha, ha!
You know, so Iím gonna stop cause I want to give my sponsor time to share. I know he has a lot of things to share. I love him so much. Words canít express how I feel about it Whenever I think about love and affection and stuff like that, I think about my sponsor. Heís come to by birthdayís. Heís cried at my birthdays and stuff. If there is anybody I know who is in my corner, itís my sponsor. Heís in my corner, I never felt any pressure from him. I never felt any pressure from him. All I felt it love. Whenever I call him on the phone, all I feel is love. And whenever we get together, itís about love. I have nothing bad to say about this man.
As I said in the beginning, without no Page C., there would be no Van G.
- Van G. a recovering addict in Atlanta, Georgia USA
The Power of Love...
Love is the Spiritual force of Infinite Power....power through access to Divine power. God is Love. Love is like the power of water that naturally flows to the lowest places and is soft and gentle yet, so strong and powerful it can disintegrate stone. Love disintegrates the stone of rock and the stone cold heart. Love, in the form of empathy, tolerance, and unconditional love, naturally flows to the deep dark places where the hopeless, furiously hurt, and the
downtrodden-sad ones painfully exist. Maybe, only the example of living Love can ultimately break the 'egomaniac with an inferiority complex' person's grasping, harmful need to control and exploit others.
The baffling illogical power of Love is exemplified in Jesus' words to "turn the other cheek". In Martin Luther King's and Ghandi's Non-Violent protest. The worldly use of force or striving through powerful means is intrinsically ineffective to produce lasting change. It is the effortful 'fighting fire with fire'.
Through the miracle of NA, I have come more and more to trust Love is the answer to everything. It may not seem sensible or practical to turn the other cheek. It may seem weak or naive or non-sensical to our finite minds or simply like giving-in. Yet, in a complete and sometimes irrational surrender to the Love of God, I suspect anything is possible and profound naturally healing occurs. Love intrinsically flows to and touches the very depths of anger, pain, and suffering in the hearts and minds of men. The Power of Love, through unwavering 'practice' of spiritual principles in all my affairs, is the very hand (reaching from me to you) of the all healing God upon the sick heart.
Just for today, I can be the vessel of Love to help heal the world one kindness at a time.
With Love from an Addict in Florida
The Blessings of Strife!
To the Spiritually gifted, much is taken away so that, much can be given. The Spiritual Warrior has traveled a long road (many lives?) to arrive to the place where they can gain new depths of spirituality or, in other words, dependence on God. If all of life is the journey back to God...to home...then one can view pain and suffering as the necessary fires we must go through to earn spiritual wisdom. Life is our classroom.
I had to ask myself, why is one I know, who is so kind and connected to God, suffering such horrible circumstances in this life? Could it be that the spiritual life is not about an easy road? Could it be that only those further on their spiritual path are given the most difficult problems to gain from? To the spiritually gifted, is life like an advanced course in survival 101? If we lived in paradise - a Garden of Eden easy existence, there would be no need for problem solving nor personal growth. In such a world, all our needs would be taken care of and there would be no motivation to evolve. Believing in reincarnation, I find the big picture comes into focus. I can get out of my daily problems to see that it is all about my progression to reunite spiritually-whole with God. I can see that it is about the path... all about how I live...rather than nitty gritty of the problems I encounter or even the ultimate results of my actions. To conceive of designing, in collaboration with God, this life's major obstacles and my means of death, before I came into this body, thrills my spirit. It brings meaning to the tragic apparently useless deaths of those in Tsunamis', or victims of rape, etc. It brings meaning to those, like I, who must die of active addiction. It is their very (sacrificial?) deaths that generate great desire in the living to keep on the path of life via recovery. When great men are assassinated such as Kennedy or MLK, an eternal brilliantly shining spotlight is put on the self-less message represented by their lives. The focus instantly becomes potently intense and miraculously inspires multitudes to seek.
Maybe, those who seem to live the dream life of ease, comfort and success are learning their own lessons to be applied towards their journey? Maybe, they need to experience great joy to be enabled to experience and grow from great pain in the next life?
So...if this life is one more on my road to reunification with God, then can I view my struggles in a grateful light? Might I be grateful that I have progressed to a point where God views me worthy and capable of surviving great pain? It is as if God is the grand renowned Divine Professor who has chosen me to take a more difficult challenging course in life. Maybe, I even applied for this position in life? Maybe, I am a volunteer who knew (before this incarnation) with God what would most benefit my soul's development and enhancement in this course back home? Geez! If so, then I cannot even say "God, Why me!?"
Maybe, Divine inspiration comes as Spiritual gifts snuggly wrapped up in pain? Surrender breaks open the seals that bind the impossible. Miracles are indeed possible!
With Love from an Addict in Florida
from an addict in Montreal...
In the interest of full disclosure, and in the hope of clearing up or clarifying for you what is going on with me up here on the south-shore of Montreal, I thought I would simply share my story and what brought me here to this point as it helps understand, in good measure, my way of reacting. My intentions may be noble but my methods might be Ö shall we say suspect.
I was, along with my older sister, abandoned to our maternal grandparents who adopted the two of us when I was thirteen months of age. I mention this only to bring into perspective the strength of influence my abandonment issues might come to bear on the current situation.
Our home life was filled with much dysfunction. Issues of physical violence, terror, and witnessed attempts on my life at the hands of possibly a psychotic mother (we did not know we were adopted at the time) our father (grandfather) never intervened to protect us as I have come to understand, he had his own toxic shame and abandonment issues.
At the age of eleven, our grandmother died from coronary illness (brought on, I presume, by her mental / emotional health) Ė either way, I started using substances at that time. Up until then, we had moved a total of thirteen times. Our father had always kept a steady job at the cotton mill where he worked for a total of 37 years, until his retirement a short three years prior to his passing. I had insisted on remaining with him following our motherís death while my sister, eleven months my senior went to live in the country with an aunt. Ė At this point, I began to run wild. Unsupervised, using, angry and rebellious, juvenile delinquency became my lifestyle as I roamed the streets flaunting my freedom at the world.
Earlier, growing up and raised in an insane asylum, I had heard about guardian angels and God and although church attendance was compulsory as children in our household, God was represented as someone who lied and was strict and vindictive; Someone who lacked integrity and coherence. That might help explain my utter dismay and much of my reactions in Fellowship service.
Anyhow, I was using and running wild. Reform school was inevitable and most predictable when at the age of fifteen I was found guilty of stealing cars, joy riding really. possessing drugs, and truant from school. Was my life unmanageable? Not enough it would appear. After serving eleven months in reform school, I was released back to the custody of my grandfather. His take on the whole matter, and I have come to understand it, was that I ought to be left alone and that I would straighten myself out. His toxic shame and guilt issues played a large part in his reaction to my misbehavior. He was never one to set and enforce limits and consequently, my lifestyle continued.
Sexually promiscuous since the age of thirteen, there I was, at the age of sixteen, shacked up with a girl who was nearly five years my senior, who had just given birth to a little girl who was mentally deficient and whose father was in jail. Do you suppose I was looking for a mother? Ė God love them both because I sure as hell wasnít able to and how she could put up with me for twelve years, I can only suspect speaks to the extent of her own shortcomings. Either way, she mentioned I ought to join the army and, low and behold, they accepted me when I was seventeen. In the process of joining the army I was found guilty of theft and a judge gave me a two year suspended sentence admonishing me and stating that he would let a drill sergeant straighten me out.
So, there I was, proud and in uniform at seventeen. Did I mention I was an addict? The military offered me a selection of three trades. Medical assistant, military police and air defense technician. Their tests revealed I was reasonably bright and intelligent. Anyhow, if you havenít it guessed so far, I chose Medical Assistant (access to drugs of course) I feared that if I would have chosen to become a military policeman would have put me in a compromising position. And I certainly had no intention of becoming a brute to lord over people. I wanted to care and be a loving individual. I also wanted recognition and esteem. I wanted to save lives and hold power over them. I became pretty good at it too (or so I thought).
Drugs were available and I soon learned the system well enough to obtain and use prescription meds. Ė Seems I had a difficulty with women in positions of authority (I wonder why?) Anyhow, I began using prescription meds. Valium to relieve the tension and stress, dalmane, tuinol seconol, codeine, and eventually morphine Ė the list goes on. Pot was since the age of eleven a constant, but that didnít really count Ė did it? I am an addict and my favorite drugs are the ones I get for free. I didnít really see myself as an addict because I had stopped using LSD and such chemicals when I joined the military Ė that and my soon to be wife (mother by proxy) wouldnít hear of it. We got married tow months after my 18th birthday, had our first son a few weeks before my 19th and a second just before my 20th. So there I was, twenty years old, married with three children in tow and trying to maintain some sort of order and direction in my life. Christ, was I in trouble? Needless to say, that I was using, cheating on my wife at every opportunity and trying to run a concentration camp at home. Is there any wonder why I was taking meds in an attempt to cope with reality?
After a few years, I must have impressed someone because I was given the opportunity to specialize into the field of Preventative Medicine. Some took a liking to me and could see my potential to excel when given the opportunity. I became short listed for accelerated promotions and was soon given the freedom to be left essentially unsupervised in the expression of my work as an health inspector / preventative medicine tech. those who known the field, know it as one where the selection criteria is very stringent. Many say that it is not a job but that it is a position which carries considerable power and authority (pseudo authority really) Ė I became recognized as responsible, managing files, and personnel (subordinates) Ė I now despise and stay clear of that word because of itís connotations. I became sought after as a competent specialist in my field. I mention this only in the sense that I developed, from early on in my childhood, a fear of being wrong so I took it onto myself to always be right and as a psychologist would later help me understand, I became an expert at being right because I feared my life depended on it.
Anyhow, to move this along, I left my wife and children after twelve years of being together. Seeing myself torment and brutalize those at home, I could no longer, in good conscience blame them for my dissatisfaction about life. There just had to be a better way to live out there. I was twenty nine at the time.
Within a month of leaving my wife, I was in another relationship. My self centered addict mind was working overtime. She was, again some five years my senior, a professional psychologist/sexologist, divorced woman with three bright, intelligent and beautiful daughters. She and I smoked pot together, talked and had a lot great fun. Weíd play as a family. She went so far as to follow me around the country as I was being re-assigned elsewhere with the military.
Well, the inevitable at the time happened and the control freak within took over Ė had he ever let go? I was soon issuing threats in the form of innuendos and eventually threatening to evict her and her daughters should she not comply with my wish to have some order in our home. Well, she left as I had instructed.
But wait, thatís not what I wanted.
I called her and pleaded that she not leave me because that wasnít what I had meant to say. But, it is what I had told her to do. She suggested that although she loved me, she was not prepared to return unless we consulted. In my state of narcissism I thought that just because she was a psychologist, she would soon figure out how screwed up she was. I, of course, could not be the problem. In any event, we began consulting and it took about three sessions for the psychologist we were seeing to help me uncover the fissure in the personae I had created as a defense mechanism. That fissure was that of control. At this point, I began an inner journey which goes on to this day.
She and I never did really come back together, although an attempt was made later after I came into NA recovery. I had started having an affair with the wife of a friend and in so doing put an end to any hope of renewing a relationship with the lady who brought me into the psychological realm of introspection. I will, however forever be grateful for all she has brought me. I call her from time to time just to let her know that I love her, miss her and wish her well. She is ok as she is, as am I. and although I fear we would never be able to be totally happy together, I love her just the same. I am who I am and she is who she is.
In December of 1985 things were at an all time low. I had left the military, had moved in and was playing psychologist Ė playing God really Ė with the previously mentioned Ďfriendís wifeí. She had put me out after I had betrayed her by divulging her incestuous past with her father, to the rest of her family. My journal still testifies to the depth of my sickness. I truly thought I was God reincarnate. Now there is a frightening prospect if ever there was one! Anyway, she had put me out in December of 1985 and there I was in March of 86. Convinced that all that was left to be done was to die (so that I could rise from the dead of course) and in so doing, others would know me for who I am GOD! Well I, as well as they, did come to see me for who I am / was at the time. A sick addict without a program! I just didnít know I was an addict. Nobody told me and if they did, I didnít hear it. When I awoke, alone and confused a few hours following that last attempted suicide I yelled at the ceiling calling out to whatever God was out there and asking what the heck could he want more from me? And since I didnít know, He had better tell me!
At that moment, a small voice from within asked ďcould I possibly have a drug problem? - ďHell no!Ē I replied ď I have all kinds of drugs - not a problem!Ē but, I am a proud individual and I sought to get a professional opinion for should anyone else suggest I had a drug problem, I would be prepared to offer some sort of documented proof to rebuff the allegation. And so I made some calls and was soon referred to NA.
At that time, NA had only been in Quebec City but a few months having started, (just for me Ė lol) in December of 85 and although I could yet not admit my powerlessness, as I had never even tried to quit, I could identify with the readings and the disease concept of addiction. I however thought you were all pretty sick and demented if you thought, as you had suggested, that I throw away my drugs. I made a deal with myself that I would come back, as you had suggested, but that I would continue to use until I had exhausted my stash of drugs. I would only use when I felt good as I did not want to escape my feelings. Does that make any sense to anybody? Well, it did to me! I would attend the three meetings in the area, go home and use. The next day, there was no meeting and I would stay home hurting and feeling sorry for myself. I was heartbroken and misunderstood by those who were not in the rooms. I wasnít even certain that I was fully understood by those in NA. I kept on stalking the person who had thrown me out in December of 85, convinced I now had to make amends Ė she would hear nothing of it.
May 22nd of 86, I finished using the drugs I had been using and decided that was it. Finished! Fellow addicts cautioned me to take it one day at a time but, what did they know, I had decided that was the end! No more, never ever again! ĖThree days later I was using. The date was and remains to this day, one day at a time, May 25th 1986. I still recall the fear rise up that I would never ever be able to quit. I spoke to the ceiling and asked the creator Ė some sort of loving higher power out there to help me and take it away. That small gentle voice lovingly replied, take the suggestions you are given in the program, Ďtake it one day at a time, one step at a timeí go to meetings, read the literature, get involved, get a sponsor, work and live the Steps and Traditions. Practice the principles to the best of your ability and most of all, take it one day at a time.
I really like the acronym advanced for GOD as being ďGood Orderly DirectionĒ as it is what I have sought all of my life and although I am able to experience it from within, I often have great difficulty seeing it around me and in the people I associate with. ďBirds of a feather flock togetherĒ Ė I sometimes have difficulty letting GOD express ĎItselfí in my thoughts and my actions.
Back to the story! I took the suggestions, read and studied the program (of course I already understood all that stuff about the Steps and Traditions. The Steps showed me how to live with me and the Traditions showed me how to live with you and since I was not an island unto myself, I needed you Ė and the Traditions prevented you from throwing me out. Fantastic! What could be better? I quickly got involved in service, and took my first sponsor after I had moved to the Montreal area when I had five weeks clean. He disappeared less than a week later going back to AA (I suppose) so I shopped around for a bit and spotted this other man whom people seemed to congregate around. He was intelligent, articulate and professional. Thatís what I want!
He sponsored me for some eight years. We were involved in service together, we participated in the reviewing of our basic text translation project, attended recovery retreats, shared and cared with and for other addicts. I had earlier made a decision that whatever my sponsor would suggest I try, I would, else I would switch sponsors. I needed direction. I understood early on that I was pretty damned good at giving advice but that I was lousy at taking my own advice. So I would take his. If I couldnít, I would replace him and select another.
A time came when he no longer had a sponsor. He had invested some considerable amount of money in a recovery house that failed. The recession hit and financial downfall ensued for him. His pride took a beating and he gradually withdrew. I would reach out to him but he was increasingly unavailable and unresponsive. I felt abandoned.
During this same period, I had been in a relationship with a woman I had met in our rooms. She had been there in the company of her brother who was a member. She however was not a substance abuser as we define them.
This relationship came following some three years of living on my own, living and working the program to the best of my ability, maintaining a relationship with my sponsor and taking it all one day at a time. Prayer and meditation were a part of my lifestyle as was regular meeting attendance and service commitments.
My sponsor had earlier advised me that if I wanted to enjoy a loving relationship, I had best bring my love home and filters my shit through him before considering bringing it home.
Less than six months later she had moved in with me. A few short weeks later, we discovered we were expecting a child. The first indication of a problem started when a yellow light flashed one evening as I came home and found her there in my bed. We werenít yet living together and she had not checked with me before coming over. My roommate had let her in and I found a note on the coffee table letting me know she was there. Instead of expressing the truth, I merely said I was surprised. I really ought to have told her that I was not expecting to see her there and that I would appreciate she check with me before coming over as she had. Well, that set me up to run away with my disease. I began looking for instances in which she was not considering me before acting in manners that concerned me. I allowed her to move in with me following her subtle threats at possibly sabotaging our relationship. Her first Ďfití of hysteria occurred the day she moved in. I had not so much as heard her swear before that day. I was baffled and confused. I spoke with my sponsor and tried to cope and understand as best I could one day at a time. She would blame her Ďmomentsí as being associated with her PMS, her hormonal imbalance, and what ever else she could come up with. Anyhow, as I said, we discovered we were expecting something like five weeks after she moved in. I was about to receive my three year cake in May of 89 and my resentment notebook was gradually filling up.
I would plead with her to stop and take responsibility for her outbursts as she would become denigrating toward me and our unborn child. I viewed this unexpected pregnancy as an opportunity to vindicate myself as a father because although I had made great strides in repairing my relationships with my boys from the time I was married, I had still not fully forgiven myself.
Following many inís and outís, I had finally had enough and came to understand that the thing I had long cried for in this relationship was the thing I gave none of to myself. Respect! I moved out in November of 1992 and spent the next several years fighting for my rightís as the father of our son, yes, I have three boys. We had built a new house, had a new car, a young child but I was not home. Shortly before I left, I was still involved in Fellowship service and what not, I was elected to co-chair our regional convention and that service commitment kept me rooted in our rooms. During this commitment, sensitive as I was to disrespectful outbursts, I became increasingly intolerant to the shit that goes on when spiritual principles are not being applied around me. I began to apply fewer and fewer of them myself while being ever so vigilant toward my responsibility as a trusted servant and control freak. It got so bad that threats of physical violence were made against me because I would not let go of issues regarding transparency, accountability and our responsibility to create a loving and welcoming environment. Controversy over our conventionís priorities: were we to be a large fund raising activity, a large celebration or a friendly gathering of recovering addicts. I have always felt that we ought not to allocate more to the activities sub-committee than we were prepared to allocate to the programming sub-committee. Currently our regional convention spends some thirty odd thousand dollars toward the activities sub-committee and something in the area of five hundred dollars on programming. Is it group conscience or popular opinion or yet again, the opinion of the popular? In my opinion, the activity has become a cesspool of disease promoting behavior designed to solicit much needed funds while promoting the disease. In any event, it got to a point where in 1995 I was strongly tempted to literally throw some in our service structure through the window. Fellowship money was being stolen; service contracts were being issued without consideration of bylaws or competitive bids etc. I had had enough! I pulled away feeling betrayed and ridiculed by the fellowship. I no longer felt understood by those involved in our service structure. Was I crazy? Ė Perhaps not! I was, however, very confused.
I knew the problem was not with my identity as an addict in need of a program. Where could I go? I needed to work some things out.
I had heard of program called ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families). I felt that my emotional state ought to be understood there at least. NA was still very young in my region at that time. I was already considered an old timer with nearly ten years of abstinence. And the people, including my then sponsor all seemed to tell me that my problem could be worked out with the Steps. I suspected there was more to it then that and that if such were the case, I needed someone who knew and could understand what I was experiencing and could help me work it through.
There, and as a result of the work I did with the Steps, I was able to recognize the toxic shame that I was experiencing. Much of it came for my grandfather and much of it came about as a direct result of my childhood and being raised to feel I was inconsequential and of no value as a loving human being unworthy of consideration or respect.
In ACOA however, I did not find the Fellowship or family I so dearly sought. I was not Ďhomeí. Still, feeling rejected by many NA, I further rejected myself by not immediately returning to our rooms. I stayed home, exercised, to the best of my ability, my duty as a father and parent whenever I was granted access and took life, one day at a time. I would attend an NA meeting every six to eight months when a friend would celebrate a clean date anniversary. I would attend fewer and fewer ACOA meetings but still, felt increasingly alone when Adam (my son) was not with me. I lived but for him. Come the fall of 2001, depressed and obsessed with the idea of suicide as a viable alternative to live as I was experiencing it, I desperately returned to our rooms. I refused to pass on to my children my suicide as part of their legacy.
God does work in mysterious ways. The day I returned, I met someone whom I had been previously involved with in service. She had since then relapsed and returned a few months before. She told me that in order to restore my sense of belonging, I needed to get re-involved in the Fellowship. Welcome people at the door, make coffee, clean up the rooms afterward, welcome the newcomer; all of this would re-establish my sense of belonging. I knew several people in the rooms yet there were so many who had been there for a few years that I did not know. I felt that I was skeptically viewed, by some but it did not matter. I was probably judging myself far more harshly than any of then ever could.
The next step was to get myself another sponsor. Who was ďqualifiedĒ to sponsor me? Very few indeed! There was however one man who caught my eye. I had known him as a loud mouth through my earlier NA experience. He was not someone I liked terribly much but I had to admit that I missed the passion he seemed to exude. I also appreciated the way he spoke of his program and his chain of sponsorship. The way he claimed he was sponsored and sponsored others. He could have sponsored me much sooner had he said fewer stupidities than I. - He would stand there and profess to quote literature and say such nonsense as ďit is strictly forbidden to work the Steps without a sponsor. I would literally burst out and call him on it saying ďprove ití. He would simply laugh. I still do that from time to time when people claim to be quoting from our literature and obviously donít know what they are saying. People are as a result quite leery before quoting our literature around me for fear of being shown to not know what they are talking about. I tend to say, when I speak as home group secretary ĎIt is important to read our literature so as to not suffer the advice of those who donítí. The thing is that I mean it as sound advice. The problem is that it is perceived as my trying to dictate how others should work their program and behave. My sponsor sometimes asks me if I would rather be right or be kind. Of course I would rather be right! What a question! Still I know what he is talking about. (all of this reminds me of my five year old grand daughter. I had sent her to her room for having thrown a bowl of pretzels at her older brother one Saturday morning at 9:30 AM. Well, she cried and pleaded not to go to bed. I told her ďWell I know dear but I think you are tired and not being very nice right now. I think you need some sleep.í She would respond with tear filled eyes pleadingĎ No grampa, please, Iím not tired and I want to be nice.í I would then say, ĎI know you want to be nice dear but you are not being very nice right now and I think you need to have a bit of a rest. Youíll have a chance to be nice laterí Ė ĎNo grampa, please, I want to be nice now!í God love her, she Ďwants to be niceí Do people have that problem back where you live? I have often had that problem growing up. I wanted to be nice and do the right thing. I just didnít know H.O.W.
Over time, I maintained regular meeting attendance 3 times a week and things got increasingly better. Work, my sonís football, and my meetings filled my days and weeks. The bank for which I worked closed itís IT center in early 2003 and I was once again out of work and time on my hands. Another job came shortly thereafter and six months later I was let go because I was not happy in that environment. I had just prayed the night before asking God to intervene and do something. The next day I was let go. Ė thank God!
I knew, from all of the therapy and psychological tests and profile analysisís I had undergone that I was a writer and that I needed to get back to writing. I had stopped fairly early in my relationship with Adamís mother. But, the passion was out of my life and I was stuck with writerís block. But I am digressing.
There I was, once more out of a Ďjobí.
An adjacent area needed an executive committee chair person. My sponsor was the vice-RCM and I had a sponsee as RCM. Ok, why not?
Shortly thereafter, my sonís football schedule was made available and low and bhold, he had practices three times a week with a game on Sundayís. I resigned and was accused of abandoning the area service committee. I was told that I only had a son as a result of what the Fellowship had given me and that I owed the Fellowship more than I was giving. I told the members who said this to me to ĎDeal with it!í
Last fall, I stood in for our GSR at our areaís monthly service meeting and noted that several vacancies existed in both the executive committee and sub-committees. The only positions occupied that day were that of Executive chair and treasurer. No RCM, or vice, no secretary or vice. The vice chair was absent. Why not??
So I nominated myself as RCM to go to the next regional meeting and was duly elected. Another candidate lacking the prescribed clean time submitted his name as vice-RCM. Motions were made that the Ďguidelineí be amended to permit his candidacy. I spoke against the motion to amend the Ďguidelineí to accommodate any individual but, as my long term plan was to eliminate or at the very least provoke thought about restoring spiritual principles in lieu or stringent bylaws, spoke against the idea that we measure recovery or competency utilizing Ďclean timeí as opposed to experience with and knowledge of the program as our basis for choosing our trusted servants. The motion carried and I was given a vice-RCM with which to serve and represent our area.
Prior to our attending our first executive committee meeting, I had a meeting with my vice-RCM with the aim of getting to know him and giving him the opportunity to know me. He knew of me, but did not know me. The first thing I asked him was what his view on our Seventh Tradition and out 10th Service Principle was with respect to traveling expenses. He strongly believed it was up to him and not NA to pay said expenses. Ok, I expressed my position on the matter and suggested he take some time to read the Seventh Tradition in itís entirety and to consider it in the light of Tradition Twelve and the Tenth Service Principle. Once he had done that, I suggested he speak with his sponsor and others and then speak to me about it some more as he passionately disagreed with me.
Two weeks later, just prior to our area meeting, he told me he had considered and read as I had suggested and that he had changed his position on the question of traveling expenses. Cool, I thought! He has an open mind. Thatís good.
At the same time he said this to me, he handed me a receipt for his gas for having gone to a meeting that had not been represented at the area for a few months.
Our guidelines stipulate that I am to go yet, being the holiday season, I had asked the executive committee if the decision to send me could be deferred to the next month. The committee agreed that my vice RCM go in my stead as he was so volunteering to do so.
The receipt he handed me was for some $38.00. A reasonable amount considering the number of kilometers he had to travel to go to the meeting in question. Yet, I knew it would be contested. Starting with our treasurer who flatly refused to pay (there was already a conflict between she and my vice RCM). I defended the claim citing Traditions and Service Principles. She rebuffed the claim alleging that my petty cash was to be used strictly for photocopies. The existing guidelines did not support her allegation. I proposed we defer the question so that we could both, the treasurer and I, prepare our arguments for the following Area meeting. The Area chair supported my request and reiterated my suggestion that members take the time to carefully read the cited referenced Traditions 7 and 12 as well as how they applied to the 10th Service Principle, to discuss it with their members and that the question would be raised the following month.
We attended the Regional meeting at which time a motion was presented by an ad hoc committee tasked with examining the question of traveling expenses. They were presenting three motions on the subject.
1. that the amount reimbursed for traveling expenses be reduced from .30 cents a kilometer to .20 cents.
2. that the guideline be amended to delete ďupon requestĒ
3. that the guideline be amended to delete ďthe lesser ofĒ (as that item pertained to the reimbursement of a bus ticket or mileage an was sometimes exercised using the treasurerís discretion. This way, it was dependent on that which was claimed.
How timely! During the weekend at the regional meeting, my vice-RCM wanted to submit a claim to the region for his mileage. Being as the Regional guideline states that the Region would pay for an RCM and vice-RCM in cases where and area could not, the regional treasurer refused to reimburse him because, as she justly put it, she did not have a request from the area to the extent that they ďcould notĒ pay. We had just made a $500.00 donation to the Region that very day.
He then asked me to sign a motion to the effect that our area ďwould not payĒ and I refused stating that there was no such policy as of yet and that the question was still up in the air. Well, frustrated and angry, he threatened to hit me if I did not sign. Lol
ďWhat? Ė You are threatening to hit me? Ė I think you need to go and reflect on what you are saying and we will discuss this later!Ē Ė I then proceeded to continue listening to what was being discussed at the table.
Come break time, I confronted him and asked him what all of that was about. At first he started apologizing and what not, swearing that he admired me and that he would never hit me but that he was so frustrated and in dire financial stress that he simply felt so angry. I then lovingly suggested that perhaps he needed to pull away from some of his service commitments and that I would not suffer alongside of him with his insufferable behavior. I also advised him that as a result of what I had seen and heard of him so far, I was seriously considering requesting his resignation when I returned home. (I did just that! Although he gave it before the question ever came to a vote. He sent me an email and left two messages on my machine blasting me and everyone else in the Fellowship accusing us of being stubborn old control freaks that thought we knew it all and that we were all full of shit and that we didnít care for the newcomer etcÖ.)
Come the next Area meeting, as the question of our Areaís traveling expenses come to the table, one group rep stands to state that his group proposes that if the area pays traveling expenses, they would no longer make donations to the area. Another young GSR, uncomfortably stands to state that his group conscience proposes that whomsoever submits a claim for traveling expenses be resigned from his post.. lol Ė oh my, such a loving environment Ė so spiritual, donít you think?
The question of my traveling expenses has not yet been fully exposed at the Area by either me or the treasurer and already, the threats are coming out. Still, I expose the reports I intended to in order to support my claim as well as the motions to be voted on at the next regional meeting. (I should add that the motions from the regional meeting were only being brought back to the area at my insistence because the regional debate was going around in circles .30 cents, .25 cents, .15 cents. Ultimately, the ad hoc committee put forward the motion of .20 cents to be voted on at the next Regional meeting along with the other stated motions from their report).
Controversy was running rampant. Accusations of trusted servants seeking to be paid for serving the fellowship were being brandished. Rejection was being offered from some long standing members. Impertinent use of the principle of unity was being held up as justification for not applying or violating other spiritual principles. Members saw no relevance to any of my arguments of applying the principle of anonymity or of self sufficiency or even ensuring our freedom. Nothing was getting across.
Anyhow, they had three regional motions to discuss at their groups and I had the hope that members would clue into the fact that what I was claiming was justified as I still had a motion on the table that we be reimbursed for our justifiable and reasonable expenses incurred as a result of a mandated service.
I missed the following months Executive committee meeting as I had a 23 year cake to present to one of my sponsees. None the less, I stopped off at the meeting early to leave them a copy of the report I intended to submit at Marchís Area meeting.
I later learn that the Executive committee is presenting a motion stating clearly that the area not pay for any travel expenses. This is brought forth to ďclarify the position of the area and avoid future controversy.Ē
I learned this motion was being presented several days before the area meeting and was left with a decision to make. Our Areaís annual elections are held the first Sunday of March and being as the elections are held before the regular Area meeting, I needed to decide if I would attempt to renew my mandate or not. If I chose to renew it, I could not, in good conscience do so as a condition of my expenses being reimbursed. Then again, I had difficulty with the idea that I resign should my motion to reimburse not pass.
I amended my report to clearly state that I would neither seek nor accept nomination for the position of RCM for another mandate.
Following the elections in which most positions (including mine) were filled, my report was presented and the votes concerning the Regional motions were gathered. Every group except the two in which I am involved (not all groups discussed the questions or referred then to their groups because, as they said, ďwe didnít know we had toĒ. Anyway, of the groups that voted on the Regional motions, two voted in support of the motions and seven voted against yet, not one of them brought forth a motion that the Regional guidelines regarding traveling expenses be abolished. Ė principles before personalities??
On the question of the executive committee motion to not reimburse traveling expenses for area reps, the question had to be referred to the groups and was to be voted on at the April Area meeting. Once more, two groups were against the motion submitted by the area to not pay and all others were in favor. So, the Areas guidelines are now clearly in violation of Tradition Seven (as well as many others)
At the Region, all motions brought fourth in my February report were adopted with our area being the only to vote against all three. Ė go figure? Perhaps I misrepresented the questions. No, that canít be it as I copied them word for word.
One group rep, who was the area chair until the moment he resigned the day I was elected, stood earlier during the election process to make a mockery of the guidelines in putting forth his personal nomination for the position of Vice RCM (do you suppose he was resentful at the election of the vice chair I had been assigned a few months before? Anyway, he wasnít elected as he broke with the guidelines that stipulate that he an officer could not occupy another position for six months following his resignation or dismissal. Anyhow, during the round table open discussion portion of the meeting held toward the close of the Area meeting, he stood and flatly stated ďI seriously doubt that the Region reimburses for traveling expenses for RCMís. Ė it was at that point that I blew up and plainly told him to ďshut the fuck up. You have no idea what the hell you are talking aboutĒ. The meeting was ended at that point. I got not hugs (although a few members had earlier thanked me for the quality of my reports stating that they did not recall seeing such wonderful reports filled with valuable information.) I received a restrained applause.
I left that area meeting, went home and called my sponsor. I was livid.
He merely suggested I was not ready to serve at the area level and that I could perhaps better serve the fellowship at the Regional or World level or that, I could possibly better serve the Fellowship by translating documents that inform them of this program and itís Spiritual Principles. I agree.
I am translating, as you know, Traditions War: A Pathway to Peace, into French. Others I know are doing the same with the NA Way Of Life book and have since been in regular contact with Bo and others involved with / in NAWOL.
So, what does all of this have to do with my childhood? Well, itís simple really. I need and seek God as may be expressed in Good Orderly Direction in my life. I need Narcotics Anonymous as I have nowhere else to go. My life depends on it. I need you but only in so much as you seek to practice these principles in all your affairs.
Thank you for taking the time to read me. Now, please tell me more about what brought you here and why you stay.
I am also attaching something I wrote many years ago in order to reinforce where I came from.
The Spirit of Writing
(A Healing Process)
While still in the healing process following a decade that consisted of a marriage and divorce coupled with the deaths of my daughter and step-daughter the God of my understanding opened some doors for me that allowed me to go to OCNA XIX in July 1991 to participate in a workshop on dealing with Grief in Recovery.
While at the convention another door was opened when I was given the privilege of meeting Roy Drum (now deceased) from PA. Having seen archives of our history I recognized the name and knew a little about his involvement with the writing of our Basic Text. His name appears on all of the attendance sheets for the workshops that produced our Basic Text and his story (Why Me, Why Not ME) can be found in Chapter 19 our Basic Text, 3rd Edition.
Over the course of the weekend I was given several opportunities to converse with Roy and on one of these occasions he told me about an NA meeting in Youngstown, Ohio that was a writing meeting. He went on to explain the meeting format to me.
At the beginning of the meeting, the chairperson names a topic and then for the next 15 minutes everyone present writes down whatever there thoughts on the topic may be and then they go around the room and everyone reads what they wrote. Next, if time permits they will discuss what was read and at the end of the meeting everyone is given the opportunity to either submit their writings of not. Submitted writings are then forwarded to another writing group to add to their stockpile of topics or directly to World Services to add to their archives of future Lit. material. From talking to Roy I was left with the impression that some of the material became our Basic Text was generated in this matter.
I have since come to believe that the true Spirit of N.A. can be found in the writings of Addicts in Recovery as they travel along this journey called Life. Our Experience, Strength and Hope are reflected our testimonials and what we write down leaving behind a legacy of recovery that will continue to carry the massage to addicts not yet born long after our individual demise.
While I am still on the topic of writing, I am reminded of another one of our members, Greg Pierce (also deceased) who wrote a good part of our Basic Text. About two years prior to his death I was allowed the privilege of hearing him speak a t Western Stateís Learning Day in Portland, OR. One of the things that stand out the most in my mind today is how much he stressed the importance of committing our Recovery Journey to Paper so that our legacy as a Recovering Addict may live on long after we are gone still carrying a message of hope that no addict, anywhere, need die from the horrors of addiction.
Meditation is the science of God Consciousness, God Realization. It is the most practical science that exists in the world today. Most people would want to meditate if they understood its value and experienced its beneficial effects. The ultimate object of meditation is to improve oneís conscious awareness of God and to improve the connection of the meditatorsí spirit with the reality of the God of their own understanding.
Here are the simple instructions for meditation;
Sit with a straight spine on a chair or cross-legged on a firm surface. With eyes closed, gently focus your gaze and concentrate your attention at the point between your eyebrows. This is the seat of concentration, and of the spiritual ďthird eyeĒ, or divine perception in the human being. With the attention fixed at this center of calmness and concentration, practice the meditation you have chosen. Meditate until you feel that the concept on which you are meditating has become a part of your own consciousness.
This process showers on the person meditating the infinite amount of Peace of Mind, Power and Wisdom that comes from God.
Meditation uses concentration in itís highest form. Concentration consists of freeing the mindís attention from all distractions and focusing the power of the mind on any thought on which the individual might be interested in. Meditation is the special, highest form of concentration in which the attention of the mental stream has been liberated from all restlessness and is focused ONLY on the God of our understanding. Therefore one can say that Meditation is concentration utilized to get to know God.
In response to our love for Him, God manifest himself in various forms like truth, all the divine qualities that are present in every human being, in the creative power and beauty present in nature, and in the spirit of every human being. Therefore meditation on any of these concepts can bring to the meditator a deep awareness and direct knowledge of God as we understand him.
- Joe M., Miami, Florida
My issue with gossip is not that it violates the last tradition; it is that I can't stand it when people try to con me or get the facts wrong. I hate it when people con me because I was such a con - and I was so good at it. When people don't do it well, I want to challenge them to one more round of 'The Game' so I can show them that I will win. Fact is, I lost the last few rounds...
I also get very annoyed when people call me up to bitch at me for something I didn't do - and won't accept that someone lied to them about what happened or didn't have all the facts so that they jumped to the wrong conclusion. In my recovery, people stopped gossiping around me when I stopped judging other people and when I stopped talking with anyone but the person I was trying to learn about. I know that people still gossip about me, but it doesn't bother me. All of my friends know they can tell me about myself to my face or can disagree with me - because they have.
I have learned along the way to say, 'I was wrong' and 'I don't know' and 'you'll have to ask him.' Anyone who is not involved in my life and anyone who bases what they think about me on the past is dealing with the disease - theirs and mine. I have changed. If they judge me without the facts or stay away because they are afraid to talk to me, they are limiting themselves - not me. I will continue to recover, grow and change in the atmosphere of love and acceptance that my home group gives me because of who I am, not in spite of who I am. Yet, the first step is that I have to accept who I am. I have to admit it, accept it, ask for help if I want to change it, and move on through life.
A key thing here is that not all the things that people say and not all the things I have trouble accepting are 'defects,' 'shortcomings,' or 'bad.' I have had more trouble accepting that I am lovable than any other aspect of my existence. Similarly, I had a lot of trouble accepting that I have a good sense of humor; I am sweet. I still don't know what that means, but I've accepted it. I am attractive, and that I am an aggressive, powerful, intelligent, well-educated, well-bred woman.
Most of those things have been pretty obvious to everyone I've ever known in my life, but, by the time I got clean, I was ready to club anyone who dared mention any of it. I was angry, serious (check Webster for the definition of 'sober'), scowling, dressed in drab clothes that would hide an evidence of gender, self-effacing and actively doing anything else that would convince any sane person to avoid trying to deal with me. The contradiction was obvious and off-putting.
Fortunately, I found NA, where they recognized me as one of their own, and I found a way to change. For me, it wasn't enough to quit using. If I was going to be the same person, I would have kept using. It was the loneliness and the depression that drove me to change and recover, not the need to be acceptable to the courts or to my family. A major portion of my recovery has been based on being stubborn (read 'vigilant'). I kept coming back and kept working on myself. When people pissed me off or I couldn't deal with something in my life, I'd search the Basic Text for clues to the path of change. When people did things to hurt me (it wasn't all self-inflicted pain), I re-examined my role.
For example, I learned to pay attention to what attracted me to men and realized that the key aspect of character that I found (past tense) attractive (read sexy) was street smarts: power, violence, and manipulation. If he could make me believe anything, then I would get involved because I thought 'you're special,' when directed to me, would always be a lie. Eventually, as I learned what about me was special, I became less interested in men who lie well and became more interested in men who share the interests and qualities I enjoy. Another aspect of vigilance has to do with the typical addict's difficulty with accepting the positive or productive. Normally, 'we keep what we have only with vigilance' is interpreted to mean that we must be cautious and wary, policing meetings, and service committees, and slapping the hands of those who stray outside the guidelines. A more positive interpretation is to find the meeting that is warm, loving, and where people are changing -- and support their group.
In my recovery, I have joined groups with the intent of 'saving' or fixing' by making sure the traditions are followed, getting only 'good' speakers, and drafting friends to attend by constantly reminding them of the meeting's lack of support. Those meetings didn't change much and neither did I. I found my Home Group when I'd missed the meeting, and two other addicts asked where I had been. They said they missed me. I decided to change my Home Group. When I told my old group, they complained because they had just spent money on my anniversary cake. Guilt, shame, blame, judging, manipulation, and moralizing didn't get us much when we were on the streets - it won't get us much in the rooms either.
My 'new' Home Group consisted of me and one other addict who joined at about the same time. The people who had missed me relapsed and disappeared for a while. The two of us held every position, everything got done, and we didn't announce anything about lack of support during other meetings. We did invite sponsees to join our meeting. We did welcome newcomers and made sure they had phone numbers. We did make plenty of coffee and spent a lot of time outside the meeting sharing our recovery with each other and anyone else who wanted to join in. Anyone who bitched about how it 'should' be done was invited to accept responsibility for service in that vein, and we patiently (read quietly and gently) supported them as they learned or when they disappeared for a while. We did love and accept each other.
Vigilance is as much about attraction, loving and caring, as it is about strength and persistence. Our Home Group one year later had about 15 members, with at least 8 present for any given group conscience. In my personal recovery, when I see someone who has something I want, the first things I do are introduce myself and tell them what I see. If they seem open to sharing what they have, then I ask for their phone number and when we might be able to spend some time. They may be defensive, if they haven't yet accepted their positive qualities.
I ask direct questions and about specific things, like: How do you keep from acting out when you're so horny that you can't see straight? (Dont be around members of the opposite sex, be honest and share about it, accept that it's ok, get lots of hugs from everybody, look for other things that might be triggering me to act out with a 'fix'). I don't expect them to read my mind, explain to them everything I know and have done about the issue because if they have what I want, they'll know, and I'll bore them to tears. I don't argue with them. I don't get angry with them for being happy, joyous and free - or in a healthy relationship, or working a great job, or whatever.
Another way to be vigilant is to read everything about NA that you can get your hands on -- and read it again. I still often see things in the Basic Text that I didn't see before. And I may find some answers in a service manual or another addict's sharing in writing that I wasn't even aware I needed. In regard to personal issues, I check with my sponsor, read, and share at meetings. If that doesn't bring me peace, I write about it. THEN I start calling everyone and babbling. (Of course, I learned this from trying to do it in opposite order for a few years.)
In service, I searched for answers to current service issues by studying the Traditions. Next, I ask for help from others who have gone before me, and try out what I've learned. Thing is, by then, I'm usually enthusiastic enough to have a lot of energy to the work, and I've attracted a few other addicts who want to help. I've learned that 'should' and 'could' mean it's not time or it's not necessary. 'It should be this way' or 'they could have' is blaming and judging. This is not vigilance rather it is blaming and judging. People do what they can and learn lessons by scraping their knees and elbows. They have to suffer if they want to suffer - trying to get in the middle of it means I'll probably suffer too. Yet, vigilance (and loving) means I will be watching, on the ready, and taking the first opportunity to help when they are ready to accept help."
Lost and Found
I was an only child born in a foreign country, an oil
rich country where my dad worked. We lived the good life. I had everything. My
dad was obsessed with order. Everything had to be arranged and placed the way he
wanted. Everything had to be done his way. He was very demanding. 'Good' in
school was not good enough for him. It had to be excellent. Second place doesn't
count. Naturally, I never measured up. He always made me feel that I wasn't good
enough. Every 'mistake' was met with violence. He hit me often.
I was stealing the corner store, my mother's purse, and cigarettes at a
very young age. I was also finding my own 'victims' smaller kids that I would
stop daily on their way to the store. I would force them to stand in line and
slap them one by one. I also tortured animals. I had no idea why I was behaving
I was a shy child. I made few friends. I wasn't comfortable with the way
I was a little chubby and felt quite anxious often. My parents hosted many
parties and I recall my dad drinking almost every night, party or not. I now
think he was an alcoholic. He would give me little sips from his whiskey and his
friends would do the same. He died when I was 11 and we moved to my mother's
country. I went to an international school with laid back social norms and
plenty of 'freedom'. The lies started here. I lied about how my dad died. I lied
about where I had lived. I lied about what I ate. I lied about everything. I
just couldn't accept the changes that were happening in my life.
At 15 I was drinking and smoking Hashish. I didn't particularly like the
taste of either but I desperately tried to fit in with my peers. I smoked and
drank enough until I made it my habit. I tried so hard to be a 'bad ass'. I also
noticed that I could talk better, study better, laugh more, pick up more chicks,
or so it seemed for a while. Cannabis and alcohol was my 'crutch' to deal with
life. I was not comfortable in my own skin. They made me more 'confident', at
least that was the illusion. I felt I could never give them up. I didn't want to
give them up. I also thought they elevated me to higher level of consciousness.
They made me more spiritual. After all, the universe revolved around me anyway.
My grades went down. I was skipping school, and soon I was under the
influence 24/7. I started to
experiment with other drugs primarily sedatives and Heroin. I barely made it out
of high school. Sometimes I think the school allowed me to graduate just to get
rid of me. I was always in trouble. I got accepted at a college in the U.S. and
left Egypt at 18. I was doing more drugs than ever and got into Cocaine and
psychedelics. I was dealing whenever I had the chance. My memories of this time
are a blur. I moved to another university in another state in a continuous
party. I still could not see that I was an addict. My grades were bad and I was
near being expelled. It was the winter of 1987. My mother took the first flight
over and stayed with me for more than a month. We studied together and I barely
passed that semester. After my exams, she told me that I had been accepted at an
American university in Egypt. All arrangements had been made. I moved back to
There, I made new friends. I bought a 4x4 and covered every inch of Egypt
drunk and stoned. I even drove from Egypt to Spain and back in 1990. I was
arrested on one of my local trips and thrown in jail. My mother saved my ass
once again. It was all about who you knew and how much you paid at that time in
Eventually, I went back to Heroin and sedatives. Cannabis and alcohol
just weren't doing it any more. My new friends were shooting up Heroin. I said
to myself I would never stick a needle in my arm. I was terrified of needles.
Soon it became my method of choice. I also said I would never shoot Cocaine. I
did that too. I even shot up Ecstasy. Everything I said I would never do I ended
up doing. I was a mess.
Somehow, I graduated from university 3 years late. That winter I was
shipped to a mental hospital. There were no drug rehabs in Egypt at the time.
And so began my journey with such institutions for many tears to come. I always
ended there by force, never voluntary. I never asked for help. I always thought
I could 'quit' on my own. I would do it tomorrow I said to myself. For years and
years that's what I believed. Tomorrow never came.
I was arrested again with Heroin and soon released with out charges. My
family came to the rescue once again. My drug use progressed as the years
passed. I stole, lied, and cheated everyone around me. I sold most of my
possessions. I wrecked my first marriage beyond repair. I was sucked in the
vicious circle of slavery to drugs. Friends were dying around me left and right.
They just werenít careful enough I thought. Once, I managed to stay off the
heroin for 5 years. I took an Opiate receptor blocker for the first 2 years. I
did every drug under the sun in those 5 years except for Opiates. I was
shattered from Alcohol and pills. Emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. I still
had my second wife, a job I wasn't doing very well at. I knew that I was slowly
dying. I just couldn't stop the pills and alcohol. I knew I had a problem. I
told myself I would take care of it tomorrow.
One day I got an idea. I thought I was a genius. I found a solution to
get out of my alcohol and pill addiction. I could now use Heroin successfully
just long enough to get out of the grips of alcohol and pills. I told myself I would only snort it. After all, I believed
that my problem was with certain substances and certain methods of using. I
managed to kick the alcohol but the pills were a different story. Soon I was
addicted to both Heroin and pills, a deadly combination. For the next 8 months I
was on a rollercoaster going down fast. I overdosed 3 times, coming back to life
at the last second. I lost about 20 kilos and looked awful. I rarely bathed. I
wanted to die. I just didn't know how to do it. I was very scared and hopeless.
I was alone all the time. I would have nightmares that the drugs were running
out when there was a pile in front of me. It seemed like I did more drugs in
those 8 months than in my entire life. My appetite was beyond satisfaction.
One cold February night I had just returned home from an agonizing
day-long scoring trip. I was fixing in the bathroom. When I came out, there were
people from the hospital waiting to take me there. I accepted without struggle.
I needed and wanted the break I could never give myself. It was also useless to
struggle. There were four of them.
In hospital, I was told that if I wanted to get out anytime soon I would
need to work the NA program. Someone gave me a copy of the Basic Text and told
me to read "who is an addict". He told me to underline any
similarities I might encounter. I remember saying to myself; surely I could find
something to underline for them. I thought I would have to look hard. I ended up
underlining the entire chapter! I had an awakening right there and then. It was
me the chapter was talking about. How could they know so much about me? I was
intrigued. From that moment on, I was hooked.
I remember my first meeting. I was scared; my eyes were on the floor. I
remember people were sharing, talking openly about their life, their problems
and their solutions through the steps. I was jealous. I wanted what they had,
bad. People hugged me after the meeting and told me 'welcome home' and 'happy
landings'. It felt strange but good.
Soon I got out, got a sponsor. It was suggested that I listen well at
meetings, that I come early and leave late. It didn't matter what I was thinking
about. What mattered was what I was doing. I did the 90/90 and just kept going.
All my friends today are from NA. I cannot go it alone. I do not want to walk
alone. I know today that I do not have to.
In NA I found a God of my understanding. What a relief that was. All my
life, I had trapped myself on a thin line between two high walls on each side.
In recovery, through NA, I realized that it was far simpler than that. The road
was wide and there were no walls. There even were several roads all leading to
the same place.
Today I serve in a local committee and in my home group. I am a year,
eight months, and a few days clean and I am far better than I could ever have
imagined. The frequency and intensity of pain is less and less. Day by day, I
see a purpose for my life. The meaning is becoming simpler and simpler. Today I
feel it's all about goodness. Goodness to myself, my world, and all the beings
in it. What's strange is that I'm actually grateful that I'm an addict for I
believe that I would not have adopted the 12 step way of life if it wasn't for
I practice my program daily because I remember well how hopeless and
desperate I was, a slave. Today I am free thanks to NA, and for that I am very
grateful. I am a miracle.
From Isolation to Brotherly Love
(To the Newcomer)
In some small manner I may know how you feel as a newcomer. I once was a newcomer and was consumed by doubt, fear and even prejudice in regards to everything outside myself. I was consumed with self hatred and felt helpless to do anything about it when I finally found NA through a deep desperation. What a dark path I had traveled while being led along by an unquenchable thirst for chemical oblivion. I admit I too am afraid at times of being an addict and all that this disease entails. My experience indicates that fear of the unknown can freeze my efforts at recovering and delay the work I need to do on myself to experience my own spiritual awakening through the 12 steps program of Narcotics Anonymous.
I only know that as I stay in the solution, as found in the 12 steps of Narcotics Anonymous, I am comforted in knowing I am not alone in my struggles. It is a relief to know I am human, that I make mistakes and I can forgive myself for not being perfect. Someone was here when I got here to give me a hug, welcome me and carry the message of hope I so desperately needed. As I continue to stay here I learn that it is just as important for me to reach out to those coming in and welcome them in any way I can. My spirit encounters new levels of freedom as I seek to sow the seeds of hope that is our message.
I had struggled so long to be perceived as having "it" together or being with "it". I had made efforts to be accepted and a part of before I arrived here. The problem had been, for me, that all efforts I made lead to unhappiness, fear, paranoia, anger, resentment and bitterness at my place in life. When reality set in I was in the same position or worse as the last time my running caught up to me. My fear led me to see differences between me and all those who crossed my path. I allowed these differences to make me feel inferior or superior. Self esteem was some distant, inconceivable dream that was unreachable even in my most altered state. I had no acceptance of my assets and liabilities nor did I know what these words meant. I had taken no inventory of just who I was or what I believed in. My creed was "Get mine and God pity those who got in the way". I was always impulsively pushing ahead leaving wreckage behind me everywhere I went. All people that came in contact with me were in some way affected by my disease and my self centered, headlong charge to feed my obsessions and compulsions. I may still have a tendency, even with some recovery, to valiantly grab the flag and charge into the unknown in some way thinking I am bravely conquering my fears only to later find I have been foolishly following the same impulsive nature that is part of my disease.
My willingness to blend in so I could get what I needed led me to illusions about myself and who I really was. I became lost in the veneer that coated my true being to the extent that I had no idea who I had become. This impenetrable coating of self deception was suffocating and led to many psychotic episodes, committed hospitalization, prescribed psychotropic medications and of course jails. Unable to break through this thick sheen I became trapped in my own self delusions and lived a life of deceit, preying on all who crossed my path. I repetitively buried emotions and ran on fumes desperately clinging to a frenzied routine for some form of sanity. Inevitably I would always come to the same point of self loathing, look at myself in the mirror and become utterly disgusted with the wretched creature I saw staring back at me. The only thing I knew of myself was how much I despised who I had become. My revulsion deepened with each level of powerlessness I lived through. I witnessed myself adjust to and painfully accept increasing levels of moral decay and depravity.
My smile or disposition always belied my true feelings about myself. My thoughts about you were another thing completely. You wasted my time, you wanted my energy and you were an inconvenience to me at all times. I had no friends, only acquaintances who I would rather not have had anything to do with. Everyone wanted something and had an angle, including me. I was, after all, barely acquainted with myself.
These were the feelings I came to Narcotics Anonymous with. These feelings I couldnít understand and could not express when I was new. I heard that I hadnít become addicted in one day and my recovery would not come in an instant either. I discovered that I did not have to express these feelings in a meeting. I did not have to qualify myself to be in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous. I did not have to give a drug-a-log and no expectations were placed upon me from the start. There was nothing I had to do to prove that I deserved a chair in NA. I wasnít a member until I decided I was ready and no one barred my coming or going from meetings.
The only thing asked was I identify myself by my first name so people could get to know me better. I didnít even have to say I was an addict, only I could decide if I had the disease of addiction. For me denying I had this disease wasnít an option. I knew before I ever came to NA that I was an addict. In fact for a few years before I found NA I used my addiction as an excuse for the harm I did to people. In some part I was right to see my diseases part in the harm I did but I refused to take responsibility for my defective thoughts and actions. You after all had allowed an addict access to your life and so it was your fault you were inevitably harmed by my actions. I had no problem admitting I was a sick individual who had somehow lost the ability to care about how I treated others. But at the same time the guilt, shame and remorse had always accumulated along the way and at some point I could not deny the collective emotional damage years of behaving against the miniscule moral voice in my head had caused. I after all am human and prone to have feelings regardless of how much I wish to hide them or run from them.
I did not know that had I shared of my insanity it was the responsibility of NA members to allow my voice to be heard and allow me to have my moment to speak regardless of their impression of what I should be saying in a meeting. I was unaware of how the traditions protect us from ourselves. I was unaware of the judgments some cast on those crawling through our doors. I was just an addict who was fleeing the grave and stumbled unaware into a haven of hope. I certainly did not know that the decision to come back again was going to save my life.
What were my alternatives? Continue to hate myself and all those I met, continue to walk/run and crawl in circles of illusion wondering why I kept returning to and jumping headfirst into a pit of insanity. What more did I have to look forward to if I chose to continue practicing active addiction? You told me and I knew it to be true from personal experience that jails, institutions, dereliction or death were certain ends for me. The long finger of death enticed me throughout my active addiction. It had always been my way to have my thoughts linger in shadow realms of negativity, far from reality while actively using. The result of my active addiction is always a spiraling decent into deeper realms of spiritual death. I cannot hide the fact that I alone am a destructive force unto myself. It has been progressive since childhood and finally negativity had become my disposition and I had no idea the extent of work it would take to modify this self defeating attitude. The literature told me "Easy Does It" but it did say that I needed to be willing to make the effort.
Someone asked me early on "Do you realize you have a choice today?" This question may have been asked at many times in my life by different people who cared about me. I feel it was only at that moment that I was able to hear it and understand the magnitude of what it meant. It was a revelation to me, it was as if, at that very moment, the sky opened up and a ray of light had been cast in my direction. In that moment I had an honest revelation that I was ready for my recovery to begin. I was ready to hear the message that others had to share with me. My options had run out, my desire to keep running, hiding and hurting myself and others had been ground to a pulp. I was using against my will, dreading waking up, making promises to myself that I never kept and ashamed of myself on a deeply spiritual level. I was without excuses and without any option that could possibly excuse my choice to make any more excuses.
How could I deny my addiction after the experiences I have had and the powerlessness I had been witness to on a daily basis since I was a child? The fact was I could not. It was time to grow up and make a decision. It was also time to admit that of myself I had no idea what I was doing in life and did not know how to live amongst other human beings with any sense of kinship or equality.
I was told that Narcotics Anonymous offered freedom from active addiction through the practice of spiritual principles on a daily basis. What was attractive to me was the mention of being able to look oneself in the mirror daily and be unashamed of the reflection I saw looking back. I will admit that looking around my first few meetings on a strictly physical level I was not impressed by the people in the rooms. The people were diverse, of all ages and of all dispositions. I was not in awe of those who had money or things I did not have. I didnít desire to have all these material things in my life. I was more impressed by the people who were in the present, living through lifeís challenges and blessings, and sharing the solution as they found it by living daily based in spiritual awareness and God centeredness. This was attractive to me on some level, this is what brought me back to the rooms again to seek my own path of recovery. I was unaware of just what it was until some time later but this spiritual presence in others is what had me coming back. This spiritual presence is what I attempt to see today when personalities clash in the fellowship. I believe this presence uses all of our members as conduits to communicate in our midst.
I was glad someone told me that every meeting was different and go to a meeting a day for 90 days. I was able to discern for myself which meetings I would be comfortable in. I felt that people at meetings were interested in how I was doing and interested in getting to know me better. I announced myself as a newcomer and I used for the first 30 days or so that I attended meetings. One day I did not use for a day. I announced myself as a newcomer for another 30 days once I stopped using and after some time I was blessed with a reprieve from the desire to use. I did more than just "not use". I lived in a downtown area where I walked to meetings, walked to catch bus, etc. and encountered dealers and old using acquaintances who offered to sell or give me dope. In all these early cases of temptation I was aggressively loud and belligerent with people attempting to sway me from my path. Yelling in the street at someone to "Not try and sell me dope" occurred a few times a week. Eventually these people shifted into shadow when they saw me coming and avoided me like the plague. This was responsibility for my recovery and personal expression of my willingness to get clean regardless of others influences.
I have no illusions about my addiction and its cunning efforts to make me forget the hell of active addiction Past experience with brief abstinence showed me that just because I had not used in x amount of days or months, just because I looked good, smelled, good, had a job, a place to live, a girlfriend or a combination of these things did not mean I was cured of this disease. I learned slowly that I cannot just have a drink, a hit, one pill, a shot or a snort of anything without releasing my addiction again. I also cannot let boredom be an excuse to use something to bring some excitement into my life again. The answer to the maladies of my soul is not found in chemical maintenance or material substitution. I must remember the pain I felt when I got here and resolve to use the tools of my recovery to arrest my disease.
Our Basic Text tells me that our "Ultimate problem is ourselves" and that "The ultimate weapon against the disease of addiction is the recovering addict". The suggestion to get an NA sponsor did not fall on deaf ears with me. I looked around for someone who exuded the spiritual character I wished to have. My first sponsor was not like me in history, style or attitude. This I learned was a valuable combination which would help me aspire to remove my false identities and learn who and what I truly was and more importantly help develop a desire to be far more than I thought I could be. My first sponsor gave me a map to a daily maintenance plan for my recovery the NA way. After he agreed to be my sponsor he wrote on a scrap piece of paper the following "recipe" for recovery and handed it to me. He told me if I do a few of these things a day I will undoubtedly find a level of recovery that will keep me centered and spiritually healthy.
2.Go To Meetings
This recipe has been such a keystone of my recovery reminding me of the simple basics that arrest my disease if I choose to practice them. This recipe has also shown me how I can get out of balance by only relying on one aspect of this recipe for my recovery. It is important for me to do a combination of these daily if not a majority to find peace of mind. These ingredients are all actions and Narcotics Anonymous is a program of practical action. I must take action to arrest my disease and learn (also an action) to live a new way of life.
Donít Use: (Donít use anything. The Basic Text sayís "No Matter What")
This is a program of complete abstinence from ALL mind and mood altering substances. My clean date means the world to me and I hold onto it with the conviction that if I use I lose a part of myself that I am not willing to give away. This does not mean I am not susceptible to my addictions seductiveness, it means I must be vigilant to the fact that without a thorough daily maintenance plan for my recovery I may succumb to the sirens call which beckons me to my peril. Staying clean Must come first but my personal recovery depends on far more than just remaining abstinent from all mind and mood altering substances. If all I do is not use substances and expect for a miraculous spiritual experience I will be desperately dissatisfied with the results and most likely end up using when life shows up or I donít get the experience of my expectations. For me just being clean is not enough to keep my addiction from caressing my ear with promises of new horizons through chemical alteration. I must follow through with the other suggestions that are made in meetings by those who are living the NA way of life. A lot of these are the same simple suggestions that are found in our Basic Text.
Over the years the deaths of other members who had reservations in regards to using "one more time" have proven to me that this disease will take me out if I give it the chance. Seeing members who chose to use again and ended up in jails, hospitals or other institutions confirm, for me, that the promises/results of active addiction are not something to take lightly. My willingness to stay on "the path" is enhanced by each tragedy that graces the threshold of our fellowship.
I have come to believe that the expression "Some may die so some may live" is true. My experience is that this phrase is not a point of contention but a reality that unfolds continually as I remain within the embrace of our fellowship. People die from this disease and those who members keep doing the basics live to see what happens to those members, for whatever reason, become complacent and lose the focus on a simplistic approach to a daily reprieve. "Donít use, NO MATTER WHAT".
Go To Meetings: (Regardless of how I feel about me or others)
I need to regularly attend meetings to recommit myself to my recovery and remember that for this addict using is not a glamorous event. When I use I become a creature that I am all too familiar with and transform into something I hate. I need to keep current with other members who can bring the reality of my addiction back into perspective for me. Attending meetings and reaching out to others is a vital part of my personal recovery and the health of my program. Some days I carry the message and some days it is I who need to have the message carried to me.
Today a lot of the confusion of life on lifeís terms can be solved in working with my sponsor, one on one. I also may share my personal challenges with my support group. I personally do not bring my everyday problems with me to a meeting and expect relief just by dumping them in a meeting. I feel that dumping issues in a meeting works contrary to carrying an attractive message of recovery. This is not to say that sharing issues is not important, it is for some members a necessary part of their recovery. For me it is far more important to use a buffer (my sponsor) between the hard edge of my day to day issues and the fellowship at large. This is not because I want to look good or seem as if I do not have issues. Instead it is my realization that a sponsor is there to guide me through the steps and the resulting emotional upheavals of
a new life, lived by spiritual principle. My sponsor reminds me that the issues I face in my life today are the direct result of the process of working the 12 steps.
I am allowed to experience the pain of my shortcomings to touch the place that will incite me to take action for my recovery. This action is to consistently walk through the challenge of the step work which is necessary for my growth. It is far more valuable for me that I share on group level from the other side of the issue. I can relay the process I experience and discuss the realization that dealing with my emotions was a steady progress and my recovery grows when I emerge on the other side of the issue. This, to me, is sharing the success as found in the progressive growth of the 12 steps. This for me is the shared experience of my NA recovery at a group level.
You know when a meeting format says "What is said hear and who you see here, let it stay here"? People say "Hear, Hear" I am fond of saying "Yeah Right". I feel I am a realist in my recovery. The reality is that NA is full of sick people trying to get well. Sometimes learning how to practice spiritual principles is at someone elseís expense through infringing on anotherís right to anonymity. If our members are not working steps and not respecting traditions how can they practice the foundation of anonymity? As I grow I see it imperative that I let others experience their own progression through the steps or their own stagnation from not working the steps. This is true anonymity, to mind my own business and ask God to help me separate my business from yours.
Call Others: (Communications with NA members is simply practicing the principle of reciprocity)
I need to pick up the phone and call others not just to see how they are but to share with them how I am doing and reach out to confirm my commitment to the simple act of one addict helping another. If the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is to be felt on a spiritual level and not just given lip service I must actively pursue relationships based in mutual acceptance and trust that God places people in my life to shape my character through reciprocity. I give my phone number to whom ever asks for it in hopes I may help someone else stay clean too and gain another ally to walk beside me along this road of change. I can never know how I have helped someone get over some personal agony just by calling them and sharing a moment.
These relationships expand further than just seeing each other at a meeting or an NA event. I am practicing brotherly love when I expand my capacity to accept others into my support group and cherish the gift they are to my life. I also have the freedom to discern who I wish to associate with and who I wish to emulate based on my perception of their recovery health. This does not discount anyone or challenge anonymity outside a meeting but rather allows me to choose for myself who I allow into my support circle.
I have been given the gift of allowing people to love me and allowing myself to love others. Though all members are deserving of my love, many members are not deserving of my friendship. I am responsible to my recovery when I choose healthy recovering members to communicate with outside meetings. Newcomers on the other hand deserve all the love and attention I can allow them. My hope is that I would always extend myself to help them stay here and find what we have if they so choose to accept what we have to offer.
Read/Write: (NA Literature/Work the Steps/write about my feelings, journal, etc.)
If I am going to share in meetings with others about recovery from addiction I feel responsible to make sure I am sharing the solution, within the boundaries of our traditions and in an attractive way which will not alienate others and represent NA in a positive light. I do this by reading NA literature, writing my steps and working through traditions issues with a sponsor.
If I seem to think there are conflicts with the way NA literature is written or am having a hard time understanding what something means I rely on the experience of my sponsor to guide me to find a solution I am comfortable with. This of course requires an open mind consider his experience. I am certainly free to research other sources of literature that may bring clarity to my questions and discuss this with my sponsor or support group. A dictionary is of course one of the greatest tools a recovering addict may use to further understanding of the spiritual principles and how they compliment one another in our program. Clarity normally comes in the form of a new perspective by looking at the issue from another angle. Again this act of working with my sponsor is communication with aother member to seek solutions to common problems.
Reading NA literature cements my foundation in this fellowship, helps me to understand the struggle of our predecessors and the importance of not negotiating the 12 traditions of our fellowship. I find continual identification from our literature and am blessed with new realizations each time I pick up our literary tools.
I am careful to remember that our Basic Text starts on page "ix" (5th Edition) and enlightens me to the meaning of our symbol and the balance that we as a fellowship must aspire to achieve in all sides of the pyramid. It begins by telling us that our program is based on goodwill with room for all manifestations of the recovering addict. The balance I achieve in recovery, and the freedom I experience is directly proportional to my commitment to remain in the center of our symbol practicing Godís will.
Personally all the questions I had asked before I came to NA were answered in some way when I cracked open the Basic text. I was encouraged to write out my steps as directed by my sponsor. I was encouraged to write about how I felt in a journal or just write when I felt the urge to purge my feelings. Something happens between heart and hand when I write. There are times while working my steps I read what I have written to my sponsor and cannot believe I wrote some of these eloquent passages regarding spiritual transformations and personal responsibilities.
The blessing is to see a progressive blossoming into a new person who gains ground with each new level of commitment to personal recovery. This is achieved by dedication to reading NA literature and writing about my spiritual experience. Without dedication to all facets of application of this program I would miss out on the opportunity that formally working the steps offers me and the relationship I build with a sponsor who guides me through this transformation.
Pray/Meditate: (Simply talk to my higher power, humbly and in gratitude, take quiet time alone)
I am constantly striving to allow my higher power into my life through prayer and meditation. Of course this connection with a power greater than oneself is highly personal to each individual. Our literature tells us repeatedly that it is a personal relationship with God that will keep us clean when nothing else will. In step three it says "Godís help is our greatest source of strength and courage." I can receive Godís help without prayer and meditation but I find it necessary to attune myself with the source of the gifts I am receiving and also express my gratitude for the miracle of recovery.
The Basic text also says "Quieting the mind through meditation brings an inner peace that brings us into contact with the God within us." I believe that God works through people and my task is to allow God to move mountains through me as a conduit. The Basic text also says "We eventually redefine our beliefs and understanding to the point where we see that our greatest need is for knowledge of Godís will for us and the strength to carry that out." If I am not taking time to pray and meditate I experience an imbalance in my life that is undeniable and leads to discontentment within myself, with the world around me and creates a haze in the reality I experience.
Today, I am willing to allow God to work in my life. I believe that this is much different than hoping God will work in my life. For me God will work through the cracks in the door if I keep it closed but can have a greater impact if I open the door and allow God to enter fully. I keep the door open through continued prayer and meditation. Without a higher power to guide me I am indeed lost in a wilderness of my own imagination, out of touch with reality.
Service: (Selflessly Serve others in some capacity in NA, in my family or in the community)
I am continually amazed that I can find spiritual fulfillment through selfless service. Feeling so broken when I got here I did have a hard time feeling worthy of being a part of the fellowship or part of an NA group. I would show up early to meetings, before anyone else showed up, and pick up cigarette butts and trash around the meeting places just to feel like I deserved to be there. I had no idea that I was doing selfless service or being a responsible member of NA even with no time clean or with no commitment to be a member. I just knew I felt better about being in a meeting if I had done something to earn my entry. Unbeknownst to me my innocent need to be a part of was actually an expression of my utter desperation and willingness to live.
I became committed to coming to meetings before I made the decision to stay clean for a day. I helped set up and clean up at a gratitude dinner and felt a part of because of my efforts. By doing this I rubbed shoulders with other members in common service to put on an event to carry the message before I had a message to carry.
Members of a home group saw me coming back to their meeting regularly and I was asked if I was interested in being their greeter at the door. I took on this position and greeted people which led me to become acquainted with older members, newer members, visitors, and all those coming in to the meetings. It took away some of my fear of others, fear of human contact and allowed me to experience who was warm and receptive to my welcome/hugs and who was still shut down to human contact or vehemently opposed (at that point in their recovery) to someone touching them. Another level of personal comfort was achieved by fulfilling this service position for this group. I felt more a part of the group. I was then asked to be the coffee maker. I took on the coffee maker position for the group and felt what it meant to commit myself to something, besides using drugs, for the first time in my life. I showed up 3 times a week at noon to make coffee. Regardless of how I felt about myself, how I felt about others or how I felt about NA that day I showed up to make coffee for the group. When I felt like I didnít need a meeting, doubted the benefits of a meeting, had a resentment against someone in the fellowship, felt ashamed about how I acted or reacted to something within the fellowship or felt like isolating, this commitment to make coffee kept me coming back. I realized that showing up regardless of how I felt, having the courage to face my fears and walk through the discomfort of my feelings gave me growing strength and a faith that regardless of life challenges I was always okay if I showed up for life. Of course I didnít stay a coffee maker forever and moved through various service commitments to this group. I am so glad I was not thrust immediately into a commitment I wasnít ready for and was able to keep the commitments I took.
Service to our primary purpose in all its many forms has harvested in me a progressively growing character I can be satisfied with today. The accomplishment I feel when I follow through on a commitment to serve is indescribable. Practicing principles within the service structure of our fellowship is necessary if I wish to remain sane. Adherence to the principles found in the12 traditions is vital to separating principles from personalities and seeing what the "next right thing" is for me to do. A working knowledge of the steps and traditions is key in ongoing service to help me find the balance in conflicts and remember that Goodwill and Anonymity above all else should influence my decision to be a part of the service structure. Today I know that constant study of our traditions, remaining teachable and open to others points of view resolves many issues between personalities in service. This being said the humble beginnings as a coffee maker taught me how to lay aside my personal feelings/fears/insanity and show up to serve a meeting regardless of my own thoughts. This applies to service within the fellowship as well.
Ongoing Recovery: This has been my experience, to this point, with living this program and allowing the principles found in the steps to lead me to a better understanding of who I am. The ongoing daily reprieve I am allowed has me looking forward to the next level of hope and freedom. I do not give all credit to the fellowship or God alone for this liberation from self bondage. Many may disagree with this but my experience is that I have by my own efforts participated in my recovery at every turn because I want this new way of life. With persistence and an open mind I have succeeded in not only staying clean but transforming into something I never imagined. This metamorphosis has brought me to a new perspective on my life and allowed me to face reality. I now have faith that by doing the next right thing I am allowing myself the freedom to live upright amongst my peers. By continuing to feed my recovery I am sowing a relationship with the God of my understanding. Nourishing my spiritual growth, by showing up for my recovery and not worrying about what everyone else is doing, has aligned me, just for today, with Godís will for me. This is a journey founded on desperation, continued in determination, with the goal of spiritual transformation and guided by the hand of divine inspiration.
I honor myself and my higher power by continuing to show up, persevering through adversity and allowing the experience to modify my perspective. Being a perfectionist when I got here I looked up and defined the words in "Just for Today". I found that the word "just" in one sense meant "only". Hence the surface meaning of "staying clean" or "on the recovery path - Just for Today" or "staying present only within the day". I also found "just" defined as being honorable or fair. This definition had an impact on me deeply and to me clearly means that if I am honorable for today I can live with myself and am on the path of principled recovery. "Just" is also defined as "equitable" which aligns itself with our principle of anonymity. If I am of the mind I am as equal as you and vice versa I am practicing anonymity in my daily affairs. My defective character can be arrested by remaining honorable, treating myself and others with fairness and expressing in my interactions with others a state of equality.
This principled living put into action is by no means as easy a task to live as it is written in hindsight. It takes effort and courage to commit to this new way of life. It takes commitment to continually work the steps to wash away the stain of the tainted echoes of the past. It takes perseverance to stand in the cold shadows of my own misperceptions of reality. It takes determination to walk through the discomfort of seeing my part in my own misery. It takes effort to swim through the muck I have created and see the strength I have exhibited in surviving my own adversity. It takes new levels of courage to reach out to others when I am hurting and confused. I must continually accept that self reliance in the past almost killed me and allow others to help me today. I must continue to use the tools of recovery that are the key to my freedom and progressive spiritual awakening. I must above all else avail myself to others in the pursuit of common liberty from the disease of addiction. I must reach out my hand in selfless servitude to the suffering addict to console, confide and uplift a fellow traveler. In the end I believe that this above all else is Godís will for me.
Thanks for letting me share
If anything that we say or write to another addict helps, then we are serving our primary purpose.
I'm an addict named Tim H> I'm writing this small piece on Karma in hopes that it might help someone.
Webster's dictionary says that Karma is, "the force generated by a person's actions held in Hinduism and Buddhism to perpetuate transmigration and in its ethical consequences to determine the nature of the person' next existence." I'm not really sure about my next existence but I am sure this one is beyond my wildest dreams.
I used to have the worst luck. If I lost something, it was never found. If I lied to my wife about playing with my children, truth's phone call would always ring. I actually remember telling her I was going to the playground with my three children and instead went to the garden center to buy plants. The lie seemed to work well until my wife Sabrina got a phone call from the garden center saying that I had left my wallet and could pick it up at my earliest convenience.
I remember running around that day with three years clean and feeling like I was using. Although no toxins had entered my body, the defective energy surged through me like the dark side through Anakin Skywalker just before he turned to the dark side. My heart was racing, my mind was sprinting, and I was as far from serene as possible.
Recently I've noticed that luck seems to run with people who are already smiling. I used to say, "They are already happy, they don't need more good things to happen to them." The day I surrendered to the disease of addiction, got clean, found a sponsor and a home group, started serving the fellowship, and attending meetings on a regular basis, was the day I began my journey towards finding a new way to live. I too wanted to be happy and became willing to do whatever it took to get happy. Working the twelve steps with my sponsor through daily writing, prayer, and meditation while continuing to serve the fellowship has been the key component to my recent happy state of being.
I've learned that we make our own luck in Narcotics Anonymous. The luckiest person I ever saw was the person who spent their entire life doing for others and expecting nothing in return. I pray every day to be an instrument so I can give back the gift of recovery that has been given to me.
Although I have had many coincidences that I have started calling God instances, no other event has made it more clear to me that people who live right get whats right in the end. God does iron out the wrinkles and makes sure to bring the message to the surface for all to see.
I had just lost my new wallet I'd gotten from my mom for Christmas and was extremely upset because I lost it at a rest stop in Delaware off of 95 as I was heading back to CT from DC. Instead of racing around in my head like I did when I went shopping in the garden center, I shut my eyes in the car, asked for God's will, and waited for answer. Through extensive meditation, I have come to understand that the best information that I've ever received comes from some place other than my own brain. When I can slow down enough to shut my brain off, I become prepared to receive God's message.
I remember my wife Sabrina asking, "Where was the last place you saw it? When did you realize it was gone? ect., ect.". My response was, "Let me get quiet, meditate, and I will tell you!". Sure enough, like every other time I've taken the time to listen, God delivered the news. I had left it on top of the roof when I was getting my little girl's jacket. The problem was that we had already driven away. My wallet was somewhere on the side of route 95 in Delaware. The other problem was that my social security card was in my wallet. If someone was to find the wallet, they could pretty much ring it up so I had to get organized and start canceling credit cards, calling banks, and contacting identity theft organizations so no one could take a mortgage out in my name.
Although this was a major pain, I still felt a sense of calm and kept saying that somehow I would get my wallet back. After two days had passed, I had begun to give up hope. I was OK with loosing the wallet and felt as protected as I could be knowing someone has my address, social security number, and other key identification cards. When the wallet turned up in my mailbox in a small brown package with no postage on it and no return address, I immediately jumped up and down and started screaming. Every scent and every card I had in my wallet was in tact.
Someone must have found the wallet on the side of the road, threw it in a random mailbox, and had the faith that a postman would send it to my house. The crazy thing was that it was mailed from Pennsylvania. I was no where near PA so I guess the person who found it lived in PA and put in the box when they got home. Maybe they even sent it from their local post office. The bottom line is that I was living the right way, I handled the situation with God instead of against him, and the luck I used to see on others smiling faces came to my own doorstep.
Two years later I still have the same wallet. I'm still clean. I continue to do the things that others who came before me do to stay serene. My faith, trust, and belief in the process continues to grow. When bad things happen I'm still willing to live in the solution instead of the problem. I'm willing to listen instead of talk. I've come to understand that Karma is God's way of keeping his anonymity. My dreams have fallen short in my sleep. Reality has surpassed my wildest expectations.
written December 5th, 2009
There was an electricity in the air
I got clean in 1985.The fellowship had an electricity in the air. Getting clean in Wisconsin at that time we did not have a lot of clean time - most of us had less than a year clean. If I found someone with 6 months more than me - I went Wow! And today I still feel the same wayÖWow! The electricity is in the circles. We had 2 NA meetings a week. The addicts I got clean with, we had our own circle. We went to meetings, movies, and out for coffee, drove 1000s of miles for a convention, 100s of miles for dances and 100s of miles for meetings. And no matter how far we went, we knew someone. For the last 2 years I have been talking about the electricity but did not know what and where it came from? All I knew was that it was gone.
I have been doing all you are supposed to do in Narcotics Anonymous. I have a home group - went there every week and read the literature. I have a sponsor and use him, and I sponsor. I work long hours and can only make 1 or 2 meetings a week and most of the time it was only1. So my sponsee gets laid off and I tell him, great now you can make a lot of meetings because if I got laid off that is what I would do. Well, well, well, the next week I get laid off. Yep, went to a lot of meetings and felt better. I got a job 5 weeks later and went back to fewer meetings. So then I stepped out of my area and went to a meeting in my home town 85 miles away and was floored. Wow, now that was the recovery I have been looking for. Then I went to other meetings around the state and went, Wow (!), again. What was the difference? Why did these other meetings feel so great?
Here is what I found. I had stopped going to meetings for 10 years and came back 2 years ago because the meetings in this area had a mixed message of recovery - AA and NA. The last straw was 65 addicts in a meeting and they had the meeting on a chapter out of the AA book. No one said a word. They loved the idea. I got up and walked out for 10 years. Yes the 6th tradition was no more. I was not one of those addicts that were able to confront. So, for the last 2 years, I went to meetings and almost every meeting I heard how great the AA fellowship was and every time I thought God was testing meÖ well, do you want to be here? Yes, yes I do. Week after week I had thought this was the new NA. Addicts shared with anger about the traditions Naziís and I said if you see one, let me know because I want to give them a hug. NA was not dead just not doing well in my area.
So I started reaching out for help outside the area asking ďhow do I change the mindset of an area?Ē One on one was not working. I made a lot of calls all over the U.S. I talked to an addict a thousand miles away and he told me a story about how he had gone to both fellowships until he had 2 years clean and his sponsor said you need to make a commitment to one fellowship. I was going yah, thatís what these addicts need to do is make a commitment. Well I work nights I had talked to this addict at about 11pm at night.
I have a hard time sleeping during the day. Nights are not my thing but you take what you can get. So I got home and my fiance comes home and she asks, like she always asks, how did you sleep? I said no good. I looked in bad shape. I told her the story this addict told me and I said it took me a few hours to get it. I said at 24 years clean I made a commitment to Narcotics Anonymous and I felt so good and full of electricity - I could not sleep.
The electricity is in the circles. One circle is my home group, then the next one is my area, the next one is my state and then there is the big one - being part of NA as a whole. I had gone back to this meeting and shared with the group this manís story about making a commitment to one fellowship. You should have heard the groans and noisesÖ then when I said, I only go to Narcotics Anonymous, they shut up. I told them how great it made me feel. Today in NA we donít have to travel 1000s of miles anymore but the ride was great. Recovery is all about the ride, the journey, the time in the car, getting close to the addicts for the many hours we spent in the car. We were happy to get to our destination and could not wait for the next ride. If you want to feel the electricity - do what we did and pack the car or van and go far, far away and experience NA as a whole.
Love - David D
Appleton WI - October 15, 2009
am at a point in my recovery that I am not concerned with my personal
anonymity generally speaking. Of course I do revere the principle of personal
anonymity at the level of press, radio of films, and absolutely respect the
anonymity of others. I am not concerned with my own anonymity but I have an
obligation not to break yours, not to utter any of your business to anyone.
have come to understand what is meant at the beginning of the Twelve
Traditions in It Works: How & Why where it reads, ďThe
book seeks to explore the spiritual principles within the traditions, engage
members with the spiritónot the lawóof the traditions, and provide a basis
for thought and discussion about the traditions.Ē Our
literature cannot possibly address everything that could come up in my life
today but in my program I have an understanding of applying the spirit
of the Traditions in all areas of my life.
a parent I have come to understand that I have a responsibility to protect the
anonymity of my 5 year old son that is becoming more and more involved in
society, whether it be school, sports, our church or whatever. My son began
soccer earlier this year and when getting ready for practice I found that I
did not have one tee shirt that was not NA, I had a spiritual awakening of
sorts. I have an obligation to protect his anonymity, to allow him to be
himself without the pre-judgment of others based on where I came from.
Parenthood is a wonderful part of my journey, a learning experience that is
exciting, invigorating and a tremendous privilege. Thanks to the God of my
understanding and my extended family, our predecessors and our literature.
A Hateful Child on a Night Watch Spree
After a strong year of creeping, I had learned by now to be quiet and
not let the screen door slam behind me. The real trick was in tiptoeing down
that last stretch of creaky flooring just past the hallway where the carpet
ended and the parquet flooring that led to the front door. The porch light was
alive in competition with frantic moths and swirling dust that all seemed
covered in a blinding whiteness. A familiar pink gecko looked on unimpressed.
My hands were shaking but they always shook. I lit a planned cigarette and the
bluish smoke and cold, invisible night air became one in my breathing. I tried
my best to conjure camouflage inside of that.
I knew which way to walk. I had been traveling this particular path every night now for the past few weeks. My ears felt like they were rising up from my head and all of the hairs on my body seemed to curl outward in an awakened state. As I walked east towards where I knew the beach would be I would hear an occasional car purr behind me and over my shoulder on Penman Road.
A few nights back when I was on my march I came upon a cat lying down in the middle of the street. He or she was a still, tan thing and seemed perfectly calm on its side. I slowed my pace as I came up closer to it. Why didnít it run or move? That cat was in the exact middle of the road, right where they would have ran a painted, yellow line. I stopped and stared at the cat. Kitty, kitty I said. The cat didnít move. We were at a standoff. Its eyes were staring up at me.
I finally realized this cat was dead. I didnít know what to do or how to feel. I couldnít really fathom how it had died (twenty years of hindsight led me to believe it was simply a car) or how it was placed so perfectly there. This was a powerful omen in the moonlight. I enjoyed the luxury of my adolescent contemplation. I bent down and stroked its fur. I smelled my hand but nothing had truly changed. I accepted all of this as prophecy and kept on.
I moved in a newly familiar and now comforting simmering hostility, and with each step I forgot that I was even afraid. I knew how to be mad and played around in disappointments. I had learned how to dig in my heels. I knew how to tell those around me to fuck off and the perfect place to kick a door so the hole would look like an angry crater in the wood. I would spend hours in the bathroom mirror with the window cracked, perfecting the art of slow motion smoking with a delicately crafted glare. In the mirror my eyes were stubborn embers. My parents would randomly stop me at times when I came in late after running with my mute and denim clad friends. Let us see your eyes, they would say. We want to see if your pupils look dilated. Lately I had gotten in the habit of walking in the house and taunting them in a singsong voice, do my eyes look Ďrelatedí? Only years later when we were all more sane and civil would we joke that it was as much the Lithium as all of the acid that made my eyes look like they were about to launch out of my head.
It was that suburban quiet outside. The grass was mysteriously wet. The street itself was dry and black. I could faintly hear the ocean sighing the short mile away from the shoreline. As far as a midnight walk went, Second Avenue was a fairly safe place for a fourteen year old to be. Now and again a police car would slow down to a crawl but the cop inside would usually stare at me with tired disinterest and roll on. I was a deliberate anomaly in the mid-eighties, a chubby, hippy kid wearing sandals and sadly at times even a dashiki which I would then customarily drape with beads. There must have been some fed up angel working in my life, some figure that protected me. I would stay on my street for as long as I could but at some point would have to step onto Third Street or Beach Boulevard to continue my trip. There I would be like a dumb lamb drifting into the wolfís side of the forest. I would no longer be under spiritual protection. I summoned injury.
My eyes would be shocked and troubled by the brighter activity on the main road and the street lights would seem to flicker and jump in recognition of my presence. There were a few people around and cars would race by but it was always more frightening when they would slow down to yell or taunt or even worse just stare. This was the only real obstacle on my nightly course, but they probably thought why bother and they too would soon speed off back into their own lives in their own night. I would look up to the moon hoping that it would surprise me and change its shape or location. I would seek constancy in everything and then be saddened by all of this appointed sameness. I would walk and walk and feel like I was in full blown demonic possession of myself.
Sometimes if it wasnít too late I would go bother the girl that I considered my girlfriend. Iíd find her there in the same bathrobe, sympathetically with me. She had been a good sport, and would sit with me in quiet boredom as I talked about all of my big discoveries I had unearthed over the years. I had plans and held her hostage with them. I went to her one night after consuming my suicide dose of Tofranil, but she treated this news with same measured equanimity she had practiced when I would rant about the power of Lou Reed or a certain brand of incense. I survived that attempt and regained my strength to aggravate her even further. Her boredom was like a buoy I would acknowledge and pass before swimming into deeper waters.
The beach was reliable. It met me with the smell of the water and the hissing foam of the waves that could overwhelm me. I would look south down the shore and the moonlit sea shells and bottle caps looked like punctuation marks on a sentence that would never end. The pulsating, orange glow of my cigarette was in communion with the moon. I used to stand there in all of this total incompletion and unwanted silence and hope that someone would come along and do something. Force a reunion, pick a fight or at least ask me why I was even there.
And I had my answer for them because I too had a question. It was what I had been loudly asking myself over the past year and a half, what I had sheepishly asked the frowning doctors since my diagnosis, and what I asked every lamp lit or darkened window when I made my midnight rounds. My question was one that surely preceded the Bible as I knew it. It was on me like a birthmark. It was a mark of protection. It kept changing form. It is what kept walking me there. I was standing on that beach because all I ever did was the same wondering and blurry investigations. How do people sleep when all of this pain is occurring? Does everyone feel this partial? I had been reduced to praying to myself and in my own name over this. Do they all walk in the same guilt and shame? Is everyone else hiding their halos? What god would do this?
And I had the same answer every night, like cheating on a test in hell. The ocean would see me coming and curl its lips as if to smile and she would shush me between waves. ďWithout wait, without waitÖwithout waitÖĒ the ocean would say and I would walk home even angrier, but even more blind and deaf, and even more loyal to the original amnesia that sent me there in the first place.
Dan B., 9/6/07
persons have visited this page since September 3, 2006
Reprinted from the
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © December 1998
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.
NA Foundation Group
164 Privette Road - Marietta, Georgia 30008 USA
All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.