The Literature Committee always welcomes submissions from fellows relating their experience, strength and hope. We have a growing selection of stories that you can find HERE. These personal stories will be published as collections for the benefit of the entire fellowship. Please contribute your own experience with the Steps and life in sobriety by clicking Submit Your Share Now.
Here are four Literature Advisory Committee approved stories slated for the upcoming project Voices of the Fellowship: Our Families.
A Mother and Daughters Perspective
A Daughter’s Experience
Sitting here on a Saturday afternoon with my mom, drinking coffee and reminiscing about our journey through addiction and recovery. As mother and daughter we feel we have a unique perspective on addiction. We are both addicts and we have both recovered in our own time.
Looking at our experiences overwhelms me with gratitude for where we are today, but it also brings up pain from when I was a child. The trauma that my sisters and I endured shaped us into the women we have become, good or bad. So I want to get straight into that from my perspective.
God Answered My Request
I’ve never lived in a gray area when I used or drank. Some people can say that they didn’t know that they were addicts or alcoholics, but I knew.
At the age of 13, I had my first experience with alcohol. I was with my first boyfriend, my best friend and her boyfriend, and we all decided to skip school and go get drunk. It seemed like my life was finally getting more exciting. I was doing things outside of the small life I had been living with just myself and my family in Montana.
We’ll Love You, Until You Learn to Love Yourself
The topic of family has always been a sore subject. It was an especially difficult one to discuss early on in recovery. There are a lot of deeply rooted issues stemming from my childhood and young adulthood that led me onto the road of my addiction.
I’m the youngest of three boys, the baby of the family, and my parents often treated me as such. They did many things for me which made me rely on other people, to the point where I couldn’t do many things for myself. This was the beginning of the shame game. I often felt useless and defective, a mentality that I carried with me into adulthood. To add to my feeling of defectiveness, when I hit puberty I began to realize my desires for other boys, and that didn’t sit well with me. I felt this was another thing that was wrong with me. I was also terrified that my family would find out. So, I concealed my desires, only allowing their release during my masturbation fantasies.
A Family of My Own Understanding
"I wish I had never adopted you!" "I don't love you!" "You make me want to kill myself!" These words made up a constant refrain that defined who I believed I was for most of my life. I was convinced that I was fundamentally broken and completely unlovable. Those beliefs would be what drove me for many years until I reached my bottom. Fortunately, much like my understanding of family, my sense of myself has evolved over the years. I suppose I should start at the beginning.
I gained and lost my first family on the day I was born. My birth mother was young, and from a strict Catholic family, so I was placed for adoption. Catholic social services told my mother that a wonderful family was waiting for me and that I would go home with them straight from the hospital. Sadly, this was not the case; I went straight from the hospital to a foster home. I was not adopted until after I was a year old. Caseworker notes from home visits described me as socially avoidant.
Meditations from CMA's Work in Progress - Voices of the Fellowship: Daily Meditations
Surrender to Win
"Addiction was giving up everything for one thing. Recovery is giving up one thing to get everything back."
-Heard in a CMA meeting
I never wanted to be a drug addict growing up. Who does!? But it all felt so exhilarating in the beginning. Crystal was seductive—it lured me in with a parade of beautiful strangers, taking me into a world where pain and time didn't exist. Losing a job or two was OK—I'd always find another one. I lied to friends and family, and they always forgave me.
But as I sank lower and lower, so did my company. The beautiful people had changed—now they seemed to be ugly monsters. Polluted with shame, mistrust, and hopelessness, I found I fit right in. By the end I was no longer employable, and my apologies to my family and friends meant nothing. I was totally alone. I'd put all my faith into a glass pipe and a torch.
How'd I find my way out? I asked for help, put down the pipe, and did the work. In surrendering to a loving higher power, I've found a better way to live. In exchange for giving up that one thing, I've been given many of life's gifts—more than I could imagine. I have friends who support me, colleagues who can rely on me, and a family who trusts me. Best of all, I love myself again.
When I was using, my life got smaller and smaller. Each day I'm sober and do the work, my life gets bigger and bigger.
"Witnessing others get better, I slowly start to notice that I'm getting better myself."
-Heard in a CMA meeting
At one of our first meetings, we saw someone raise her hand and say, "I have 90 days!" As the room erupted in applause, she smiled and blushed, and we thought, "How on earth did she go three months without doing drugs?" And then, before we knew it, the room was cheering for us. And if we could have seen ourselves, we'd probably have thought how cute we looked when we were happy.
Ah, but we can't see ourselves. That's the tragic side of human consciousness. Especially for addicts—as self-centered as we are, we have no objectivity whatsoever. In CMA, we learn to focus on our fellows. To celebrate with them when they triumph and commiserate with them when they flop. And month by month, we see them change. Once, they were totally disoriented when the Steps were even mentioned; now they are sponsoring newcomers. Once, they were facing eviction; now they are buying their own home.
Believe it or not, our fellows are noting our progress just the same way. Staying sober and working the program together, we are helping each other achieve milestone after milestone.
Intention: Help me invest in the success of my fellows. There's no better way to see my own success.
From My Head to My Heart
“Humility is an action…it brings perspective.”
-CMA Reading – Twelve Steps: A Plan of Action
When I was a newcomer, I heard many things, but I hardly listened. I was given many suggestions and told many truths, but my answer was always, “I know, I know.” I really didn’t know. Most of what I heard went in one ear and out the other. You could say I was unteachable. My overblown ego told me I was either too smart, too bad, too unique, or too much of a victim to apply these truths to my situation.
Then one day, a fellow addict said something that spoke to my heart instead of my head. He said, “Get over yourself!” It was an arrow that pierced my heart. But it also pierced the bubble of my too-big ego—it was the most freeing thing I’d ever heard. I saw myself in a whole new way. I found some humility, though I didn’t recognize it for what it was. I could really listen and learn from others. I was finally teachable. I was able to get a bit more right-sized and move forward in my Step work and recovery. I was finally open-minded and open-hearted.
Intention: Today I will listen with my heart. I will be open-minded and teachable. I am not that good and not that bad.
Tools vs. Weapons
"Keep in mind that these tools are not meant to overwhelm us. They are based on the experience of addicts who have found a solution.”
-CMA Pamphlet - Sober Tool Kit
In CMA we’re offered many powerful tools. Meetings, the Twelve Steps, a sponsor, literature—they’re all recommended to help us recover from our addiction to crystal meth. As addicts, many of us share the tendency toward perfectionism. We always want to go faster and do more. It’s easy for us to feel like we’re not doing enough: not going to enough meetings, not calling our sponsor enough, not doing our Step work as fast as someone else.
The tools of CMA are here to give us relief and guide us in recovery, not for us to use as weapons to beat ourselves up. Though we’re still learning to implement these tools, we practice them to the best of our ability and build our recovery at our own pace. The program is meant to lift us up, not bring us down. We spent enough time harming ourselves and dwelling on our failures—now we show ourselves patience and love.
Intention: Today I will work the necessary tools to put my recovery first and know that it will be enough.
Can You Relate?
—Are You a Tweaker?
This is the first reading many of us hear when we come to CMA, and it unifies us. Some of us laugh, some cry, but all of us nod and relate. Whether we called it speed, tweak, crank, tina, or kibble, we belong here. Whether we snorted, smoked, or injected it, we have a seat in these rooms. Whether we lost our jobs, hurt our families and friends, or just forgot who we were, we can identify.
In the fellowship we hear stories about painting the walls at four in the morning, trying futilely to build computers from discarded parts, going dumpster-diving for gold, compulsively trolling “dating” sites, or gambling our paychecks away. We all ended up in the same place: on our knees.
Realizing we are not alone gives us a powerful sense of ease and comfort. We have finally found a home. With the help of our new fellowship, we can stay sober.
Today I Can find comfort in knowing I am not alone.
Addicted to Drama
—VOTF: Our Recovery - On Drama
Many of us come to understand that we were addicted to drama long before we found meth. We disguised our unmanageability as busyness, hustle, and struggle—anything but boredom! Crystal seemed to provide a clear path to avoid monotony. No matter how crazy things got, we were just glad we didn’t have to be dull. In fact we had a fear of a mediocre life and would go to any lengths to avoid it.
We learn many lessons in sobriety and one of them is to find peace in the normal rhythms of life. We no longer have to bounce from scene to scene or need to sow chaos to cure our boredom. Embracing a slow sobriety, "slow-briety" some say, allows us to see that life and sobriety are not a series of wins and losses or peaks and valleys. They create a beautiful journey, taken one step at a time, that is rich in treasure even when it isn’t exciting. When we live life on life's terms, we begin to see the gifts laying at our feet that we missed when we were bouncing around. Living a spiritual life, one day at a time, blesses us with the high drama of a life well lived in service. One with purpose that is full of serenity and free of boredom.
Today I Can seek the beautiful richness in what used to seem mundane and boring, embracing each moment as a new opportunity to notice the blessings that are all around me.
Beginning Right Where You Are
It is ok to begin your recovery from crystal meth addiction at the beginning--in this moment. You can't have a different past but this moment is yours to create and the things you do in this moment will create your future. It seems simple to say, that "I will start where I am". But we often want to begin where we 'should be' or where other people have told us we ought to be.
As crystal meth addicts we have gotten out of harmony with our world. Our relationship with ourselves was broken. Our relationship with others might have been broken. And our relationship with spirituality, God or the Universe might be completely disconnected. But our connection with kindness and compassion is right here, in this moment. We can give ourselves a break, we can stop demanding that we be perfect, wanting to have more days than we actually have, or be in a different place financially. We can simply let ourselves be who we are and give ourselves permission to start where we are.
Affirmation: Today I recognize that I am here for a reason. Let me be honest and kind with myself--as I am--so that I may move forward in compassion. In this moment, I start by looking at the past so that I may know where I come from. Let me turn this experience into usefulness for myself and others, as I move forward.
“We become an unconditional friend to ourselves. We get a simple and direct relationship with the way we are.”
-What About Meditation? (CMA Pamphlet)
In the rooms of CMA we learn to treat ourselves with the same kindness we show to other recovering addicts. Slowly we begin to internalize the love and acceptance we receive from the fellowship. Without even realizing it, we’ve started accepting ourselves just as we are in this moment.
Our fellows told us they found deeper self-acceptance through meditation. At first we balked at the idea. “No way can I sit with myself.” After all, we used crystal meth to avoid being with ourselves. It’s not an easy prospect for people who used meth to escape. Not to worry, simply take one deep breath, followed by a slow exhalation. Breathe and exhale one more time and we are on our way.
If we give it time and practice, meditation can be an effective tool of recovery, showing us the way to compassionate self-acceptance. It’s a great way to become an unconditional friend to ourselves.
Action: Today, I will find several times to pause and breathe. With each inhale and exhale, I will find moments of acceptance.
“When we were ready to accept direction things began to change.”
—What About God?
Doing things my way for years got me to the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous. Living a life run on self-will, I was always making bad choices: lying to my doctor, paying my dealer before I paid rent or bills, dating other unhealthy people for the excitement of the drama.
Coming to CMA beaten and hopeless, I was willing to get a sponsor and accept their direction. They suggested simple actions which I was willing to try one at a time. And that’s all I had to do, one new action at a time. For example, go to a meeting every day (and stay for the whole meeting), read my Big Book, pray every morning, pray every night. As I became comfortable with each action, I would try out the next new thing my sponsor would suggest. I got a phone list and called three people every day, I got a service commitment, and began extending my hand to newcomers.
Taking these simple recovery suggestions, I began to practice these spiritual principles in other areas of my life, as well. After showing up early to set up meetings, I began showing up early to work. Staying after meetings to help clean up soon became staying late at work to finish a job. I began to bring an attitude of service into all areas of my life. Things were changing by accepting direction.
Today I can take action on one simple suggestion at a time.
Measuring Progress in Experiences
“Time is not a tool.”
—Twelve Step wisdom
There is nothing more abstract than time. We can measure it—in seconds, hours, days, and years. But just the same, when we really want it to tick along at a predictable rate, it will slow to a crawl or fly by in a blur. The one unit of time we like to focus on is today. And now that we’re sober, today is always different!
We treasure our milestones, applauding our fellows’ day counts and gathering to celebrate their anniversaries. But all of us, from the nervous newcomer to the wizened old timer, have only today. Rather than meander through maudlin memories or futurecast to tomorrow’s catastrophe, we strive to stay in this moment.
So we measure our progress in experiences, not years. On a calendar, a year is just a string of months. But lived, it is a bunch of paychecks from a job well done and twelve rent payments made on time; it’s family outings and office parties and holiday seasons we got through without picking up; it’s the Steps we worked with our sponsor and the service we did for our home group. We call this sober reference, and it’s one of the most valuable tools of all.
Prayer: Help me find more sober reference today—in a crisis I survive, a triumph I celebrate, or a connection I make. Let me live in this moment instead of measuring it.
Being Gentle on Ourselves
“In all things, I need to remember to be gentle on myself but hard on my disease.”
Striving to maintain our sobriety can sometimes feel like a fight against our very selves. We can be so serious about getting to meetings and searching through our motives and intentions, it can feel like we don't have room to breathe. That's when we have to remember there's a difference between being tough on our addiction and tough on ourselves.
Sometimes we forget to show love to the recovering addict in us. We've got to let go of perfectionism--staying sober is not an easy task, and we aren't going to be able to maintain anything like perfection. That doesn't mean we give ourselves the "easier, softer way," it just means we practice being kind to ourselves when we make mistakes. Feeling safe, loved, and supported will cement our recovery.
If we find we're resenting the program, or getting burned out, it's important to restore some joy to our recovery. The more we enjoy the fellowship, the more likely it is we'll stick around. We remain focused on fighting this disease. And that includes having fun.
Prayer: Higher Power, help me to treat myself with kindness so I don't make the job of staying sober any harder than it needs to be.
“No matter what.”
“Don’t pick up no matter what.”
-Twelve Step wisdom
This suggestion bothered some of us at first. After all, “just say no to drugs” didn’t work all that well. But “don’t pick up no matter what” is so much more than saying no. It reminds me that, no matter what happens, drugs are not the solution they used to be. I can get fired, have my heart broken, or lose a dear friend and not use. All around me are fellows who’ve lived through all of these situations--and worse--without feeling the need to get high.
And it tells me that I can stay sober no matter what I have to do. When I get triggered today, I ask myself if I might be hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, and take steps toward addressing those needs. I get away from people, places, or things that are troublesome. I’m willing to reach out to my sponsor and other fellows for help. I can pray to my Higher Power, hit a meeting, or pick up literature or my Step work. I can try to help someone else who’s struggling. No matter what craving, fear, or fantasy I’m having, today I can pause and take a breath...whatever it is, it will pass.
Intention: My fellows survive all sorts of tragedies and celebrate every kind of victory without getting high. They are doing whatever it takes to stay sober. Today, I won’t pick up, no matter what.
It’s an Inside Job
These women discovered in recovery that they were the problem and the solution was in the rooms of CMA.
I Was Living with an Addict...It Was Me
This gun-toting mother of two with decades of sobriety recounts her powerlessness and unmanageability with humor and dead-seriousness. She took her first step at an Al-anon meeting and eventually found her home in CMA.
When my oldest daughter was five our car broke down in the middle of town. We lived 20 miles away in the canyons outside of Redlands, California. I had no money or cell phone back then so I told her to stick out her thumb and we'd get a ride. Being the bright child that she was, my daughter was not okay with this idea. I told her it was safe because I had a loaded gun in my purse.
A few weeks later, I told that same daughter to grab me a soda, bring her sister's diaper bag, and several other things to which she replied, “Mommy, you're going too fast.” And I was going too fast because I had done about a half an 8 ball of meth already that day. It was 10 am. I was an abusive and unpredictable parent. I was not much better at being a wife, daughter or friend either.
We had lots of guns back then. Meth addicts are paranoid. We were no exception. I lived in Redlands with my two kids and my husband.We had an open marriage because neither one of us could keep a commitment. I had uncontrollable sexual desires. In addition to the kids and the husband, my boyfriend lived with us too.
The Killer is in the House
A survivor of early trauma, this CMA member came out as trans at a young age in an unsafe environment. The “negative ticker tape” was installed early in her head. She had to reach a new bottom in order to discover that those voices could destroy her unless she “worked the Steps like her life depended on it” and faced the “killer” down.
I’m a crystal meth addict and I’m SOBER AF! I’m also TRANS AF! I’d also like to start by saying that I am a trauma human.
I was sexually abused before I could walk. There was a lot of physical violence in our home which landed us in a domestic violence shelter by the time I was six. I was sexually trafficked by age 11. I came out as trans when I was a little human in an unsafe environment. I was homeless by the time I was 16 and living out of my car.
What I want to say about my trauma is my trauma doesn’t make me an addict. What makes me an addict is that when I put a drug of any kind—alcohol, crystal meth, or whatever—it releases a negative ticker tape in my mind. Those voices were installed by all that trauma when I was a little human. My ticker tape tells me, “I have no friends, nobody loves me, I don’t want to be here, I want to get the fuck out.” Those are the messages that replay in a loop over and over. “If you went through what I went through, then you’d use the way I use.”
Working and Living the Steps
These two members of CMA relate how discovering the 12 Steps of CMA changed their perception of the world and showed them a new way to live.
Comfort of the Steps
We aren't born knowing how to use and we aren't born knowing how to deal with our addiction and difficult life issues. He was introduced to the 12 Steps of CMA, and following the clear suggestions from fellows, discovered he could not only live through anything, but thrive and find true comfort in the Steps. He says, "by doing this, I find true joy, walking hand-in-hand with others on the same path."
At 8 years old, my cousin showed me how to take a little whiskey from each bottle in her dad's bar to make a drink.
At 13, the boys in my Boy Scouts troop taught me how to get a drunk adult outside a liquor store to buy a bottle for us.
At 20, my roommates taught me how to do a line. It took a little time to learn the tools and the lifestyle.
At 28, my neighbors taught me how to smoke speed. It took a little time to learn those tools.
At 31, I had no idea how to not do these things anymore.
I spent my first week sober detoxing in four jails and two courthouses. From there I spent 90 days in a behavior modification rehab. They taught me to shower daily, shave regularly, do my laundry, and put it away. On day one there, they taught me to make my bed before we ate breakfast.
My Higher Power Is the Real World
Recovery without a belief in God has been an option from the early days of the Twelve Steps. This addict/alcoholic tells his journey to freedom in the Steps. He says, "My higher power is the real world," explaining just what that means to him.
If it was just alcohol, I could've lived with that. Yes, alcohol did lead me to waking up on the restroom floor of my favorite leather bar with my fly down and my shirt inside out. But hey, who hasn't been there? However, it was the crystal that made me disappear for days at a time, experiencing symptoms mimicking paranoid schizophrenia. That was what made me notice that I had a problem. That, and testing positive for HIV. This was in 1994, back in the death sentence days. I vowed that I was going to live a healthier life, but here I was, doing hard drugs again.
The person with whom I was on my latest run had the Serenity Prayer written with sharpie on a piece of cardboard, thumb tacked to the wall of his flophouse. He had expressed a desire to get sober, and told me about a meeting he had gone to. But he also told me that the neighbors would peek in on us through the one-way mirror in the bathroom (which would've been quite a trick, because the mirror was the door to a medicine cabinet.) Still, when I came down from that run, I thought about Twelve Step meetings and wondered if they were right for me.