02-14-2016, 02:04 PM
NA Member - Atheist
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Middletown CT USA
My Story - IvanMike
My name is Ivan and I'm an addict.
"It doesn't matter what or how much we used", but this is a story so I'll qualify. I used alcohol and marijuana from age 11 to 22 and stopped. I didn't enter any sort of recovery, but i knew what it was as both of my parents were alcoholics and mom ended up sobering up in AA while i went to Alateen. Even though I qualified "for the other door" at a young age I did not seek 12 step recovery.
After about 7 and a half years clean I began using again. "Just beer and wine" mind you. Next thing i knew it was 15 years later, complete with two destroyed marriages, two children whom I had progressively abandoned, a serious injury, and the loss of a 19 year career. I had stolen some needles because i had done the math and i knew i was going to have to start shooting heroin. I had been on painkillers 24/7 for eight years, benzos for at least four or five years, drank like a fish, and took whatever else i could get my hands on. My second wife had left me and i couldn't figure out why.
The third tradition states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop using/drinking, and for a long time i didn't qualify. I couldn't imagine facing life without using, and life had become so small by that time, (because of all the things we do) that the life i was scared to face was this - I was going to have to be me from the time i woke up until the moment i passed out. I sought oblivion through using, but the time had come where no matter how much i used, oblivion wasn't available.
There was no way i was going to go to NA and join their zombie mind control god cult. I was and remain an atheist, and I was far too intelligent for their outdated quasi-religious nonsense. The only problem was, i had no idea what else to do. I went to NA and heard my story. Not just what I did, but how I felt. I read the first few chapters in the basic text and wondered "how did they know?".
I stopped using after three meetings and detoxed at home and in the rooms. I went to an outpatient. I went to 15 meetings a week. I was oppositional and and abrasive and scared to death. For a long time the question every day was "do I go to a meeting or kill myself?", and I went to a meeting. It took months before I began to start to feel "normal". With a month clean I heard the man I ended up asking to sponsor me speak. He talked about being uncomfortable in his own skin, having 1000 voices in his head that all wanted to kill him, and not being able to look in the mirror without the mirror telling him that he was worthless and it hoped that he died. Then he talked about recovery and being comfortable with who he was, being able to shut the voice of his disease up, and being able to look in the mirror and tell himself that he loved himself and the mirror agreed.
I found out that this disease isn't about drugs, it's about addiction. This man lead me on a journey through the steps. I was able to come to grips with my powerlessness over my addiction, I was able to cultivate a belief that this program and way of life could help me, and I made a decision to follow that way. I began to explore how my faulty perceptions and way of navigating life caused me pain and discomfort. I became honest about this and became willing to change and asked for guidance and direction in terms of how to do that. I began the process of making amends and cleaning up my messes. I started the practice of continuing to assess how I am doing, and when I find myself behaving in ways that don't line up with who I want to be I try to fix that. Every day I ask to be willing to seek "the message" and the willingness to take guidance and direction. I try to help others and to live according to the values and principles i had discarded in my mad dash for escape from a reality that terrified me.
I have learned that I can't afford to behave in ways that make me feel badly about myself, because that will ultimately lead me back to using. - Life isn't perfect, and neither am I, but I have learned that "this too shall pass", and "just because it itches, this doesn't mean that i have to scratch". My daughters have begun to let me back in their lives, but this took time. I learned that recovery and the benefits of staying clean and recovering all take time. My sponsor told me early on that if I stayed clean and followed this way that "It might not get better, but that I could get better". He didn't lie. It's progress not perfection. Life still has ups and downs and periods of uncertainty. However, I'm not in the prison of active addiction that I created for myself. I don't have to use. When I consider using or wanting to "check out" the thought is fleeting and I have the ability to be honest about what it would cost me. I have developed a small group of friends in recovery who love me unconditionally and to whom I can turn for understanding and support. I let people know when I'm in trouble instead of hiding it. Life has begun to have purpose and meaning.
Every once in a while I find myself talking to a newcomer who feels hopeless, ashamed, and scared. I let them know that it is possible to stop using, to put their life together, and to feel good about themselves. Then I am amazed and humbled to find myself on "that side of the table" so to speak. Wasn't I the hopeless and defeated newcomer just yesterday? We do recover.
My name is Ivan and I'm an addict.
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