Dim red light shined down on my shame as I was again spending another Tuesday evening in a room full of naked men, undoubtedly high on meth as I allowed myself to once more be used by every single one of them. I didn’t realize that the clinking noise of the chains, the constant stream of anonymous partners that I once perceived to be appealing, would be the sacrificing of my soul. I knew deep down I didn’t want this anymore, but I just couldn’t stop. I had to continue hitting the pipe until the sky outside became grey with the rising sun of another day.
Usually by this time everyone in the room was either too spun to stop what we were doing or were scrambling to get our shit together, rushing to get back to the illusion of the lives we were so desperately trying to maintain. It’s at that moment when time slows down for me, my mind frantically trying to grasp how I am going to begin the new day without breaking my disguise to hide how high I am. I try to cover up my eyes with sunglasses, or wear foundation under my eyes in an attempt to let the world believe I was not up for three days having sex with strangers.
See, the drugs fueled my delusion that this approach to sex was exciting and I wanted more, knowing that other men out there were searching for the same thing in the same way I was. It took a long while before the pain crept in. The pain and shame were what propelled the desire to get higher and higher, trying to smoke the truth away.
How did I get here? I was always a working man with a schedule and a proper education, not a tweaked-out-mess. I have always known what the addicted lifestyle looked like: the homelessness, criminal activity, incarceration, children raised without their parents, and generally falling out of society. I used this knowledge in an attempt to propel me in a different direction from meeting that fate. I know now that I lacked acceptance and understanding of my true nature. I believed the more I worked, or forced my nose in the textbooks for college, I would have been saved from crystal meth.
The first time I ever used a hookup app was the first night “party and play” was adopted as an option for me. Something switched in my character that looked nothing like me. I couldn’t look in the mirror. Anything but that. Sex wasn’t always like this for me. I used to have intimacy and respect in the bedroom. After being in and out of relationships, I had experienced love and meaningful sex. The transactional nature of chem-sex was addictive in that I didn’t even need to know the guy’s name or hold any attachment or personal interest whatsoever. I was desperate for an ending to the pain and sabotage I was inflicting on myself. I knew exactly where the solution was. My mom is a recovering addict, and she used to take me to the Anaheim Alano Club for NA meetings.
I have been in the Program now for roughly six years, and as my sponsor has told me, “It’s hard to stay high with a head full of Program.” I first came to CMA in 2018 at the LGBT Center in Palm Springs California. From the first time I sat in a chair at the Monday night meeting I knew I was home. I was surrounded by gay crystal meth addicts, all of them excited and laughing. I saw a fellowship of meth addicts living in the solution. They were living the joy and contentment I had been missing.
I knew at that first meeting I had found my tribe. Nothing but applause and whistling when I raised my hand as a newcomer. My fear and shame melted off of me and I released the breath of relief. This outpouring of love and excitement for recovery had me hooked. I even reconnected with other men at those meetings who I had met at sex parties that had gotten clean. There was a way out!!
There is what I call “the recipe.” The ingredients are working the Steps with a sponsor, attending meetings, being of service, developing a relationship with a Higher Power, and placing myself within the fellowship. I dove in headfirst with every fiber of my being. That first year of sobriety was a transformational journey that has forever created a change in my life.
I found a sponsor in CMA that my Higher Power selected especially for me. He is the most devoted service-oriented member I’ve ever known. He volunteers on a national level and has helped create CMA literature, past and present. What this meant for me was a whole lot of commitments and service work, with constant reading of the AA and CMA literature. This was the structure and model of selflessness that I needed. My love for this program blossomed and I was grateful to be growing more each day with a fellowship that has become family.
Having a sponsor that knows me inside and out has been paramount for my choice to keep coming back. We worked through all 12 Steps, carefully and meticulously. The sex inventory of my fourth step brought up that familiar itch. You know the one. The synonymous nature of correlating crystal meth with sex became blindingly clear to me. I knew then that I had to learn to differentiate the two. I struggled to build a healthy relationship to sex without the desire to use meth.
We worked on a “sexual ideal” that is a common assignment with any fourth Step process. How do I find intimacy and meaningful sex without the use of meth accompanied by poppers and GHB? I honestly had no answer. My pink cloud of recovery dissipated into fear of using with any sexual encounter. I went that first year without any sex or intimacy, which allowed me time to take a look at what sex meant for my recovery.
After my first birthday, I had the itch again. This time I knew I was going to put down all of the tools I had learned in the program and jump into the first sexual subject I could find. I relapsed that night, giving myself permission to do it all over again. I returned to hooking up with multiple partners and using an abundance of meth, GHB, and anything else that would take me out of the fact that I had completely let go of the past year of hard work. In addition, I accepted money for sex, which was something I hadn’t done in years, but I took the cash that night and went further down the rabbit hole. The validation of it all was its own high. Palm Springs is really something: a gay man’s paradise, a paradise that can bring such misery to a meth addict—of course if I allowed it to.
“It’s hard to stay high with a head full of Program.”
Those damn slogans we hear in the program flooded my mind once more. My self-permissions were going to kill me, so I took the difficult path of sitting down at that same Monday night meeting and raising my hand all over again. However, the fear, pain, and shame, didn’t melt away this time. I knew it was going to require much more work than I had originally anticipated.
When I look back on my experience with meth, it’s not that I don’t want to see things exactly as they happened, it’s more that I need to look at it as an autopsy that I have to perform on myself. I need to dissect every piece of my addictive behavior and compulsions to truly understand and attain a healthy relationship with sex. I found closets of insecurity and an insatiable craving for validation. I found many doors I have never opened and knew I had to look behind each one.
Today, I do the constant work to separate sex with meth use. I ask my Higher Power for clarity and guidance through this process. My experience in the program has led me to an eventual state of relief and serenity. It is a constant state of surrender that has allowed me to return to the journey of recovery. I continue the autopsy on my triggers and to work with my sponsor to ground myself in the solution.
Meth and sex no longer have to exist together for me. If I stay close to my tribe, I will find meaningful sex where this time, I know the guy’s name. I have the ability to let go of reliving my history and can build non-sexual friendships with other gay men. When I keep coming back, I know I am returning to a home in CMA where other people have lived in the same conflict and have found a common solution. I am practicing self-respect when I get to the end of each day without the use of meth. Meaningful relationships have formed for me, where sex isn’t a priority, and meth isn’t an option.
Crystal Meth Anonymous has shown me how to grow as a man and how to understand healthy relationships. I no longer need to hide myself but get to celebrate me and all of the beauty and love that I have to offer.