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.”

Alcoholism is a disease of perception. It wasn’t until I was in these rooms for a long time that I realized those messages were lies. I was lying to myself. People love me. I have lots of friends. I didn’t know that until I started getting into the work of the program.

I was a poster child for not drinking or drugging for a long time because I gagged every time I smelled liquor. The smell of beer or hard liquor reminded me of the men who assaulted me when I was a little human and I wanted to throw up. Under the influence, people do monstrous things to others.

I didn’t start using crystal meth until I met a boy that I fell in love with when I was 21 and in NYC, far away from my home environment. I found him at 4 am at some club in the East Village. Let me tell you, the dream guy you meet at 4am in the morning will not be your dream guy when the dust settles. As soon as the drugs and alcohol were introduced to me, it was magic. It was the stop-gap to my suffering which I had been looking for. I thought if I did the crystal meth I could keep the boyfriend. I was already an introvert, disconnected from everybody. I knew I liked sex and wanted lots of it, so I could not stop using. I was powerless from the get-go. In no time I was shooting up daily.

My first CMA meeting was when I was 23. I went with that boyfriend, to a meeting at the LGBT Center. I listened to what you all had to say and about four or five shares in, I raised my hand and said, “Hi, I’m a crystal meth addict. This is my boyfriend. He needs a sponsor because he’s ruining my high. When he gets high, he starts smoking pieces of the carpet and breadcrumbs from the kitchen floor. It’s ruining my high.” I was notorious for bringing my boyfriends to rehab. As soon as they would ruin my high, I’d take them to rehab and drop them off and continue using for 28 days of my own uninterrupted insanity.

That’s when crystal meth was still kind of ok in my life. What I mean by ok is that I was using daily. I was shooting up while putting on a show at home, playing house. I would have martinis on the fire escape with the boyfriend. I’d have dinner, I would go to bed with him and wait until he was asleep, and then crawl into my bathroom, hit the pipe, and get high. Then I would crawl back into bed alongside him and pretend to be asleep.

I didn’t come back to the fellowship for another ten years, until I was broken and powerless, scraping along the bottom. At the lowest point in my journey I gave up all my psych meds and the meds that were keeping me alive. I decided I was done. I gave my dog to a friend who was going to Illinois. I had a plan to kill myself. I didn’t sign the renewal lease for my apartment. After a failed suicide attempt, I chose to hide my homelessness rather than ask anyone for help.

Somehow I kept my dream job. I showed up to work every day which allowed me to believe my drug abuse was not a real problem yet. For a while I had the job, the apartment, the boyfriend, and the dog, but it was all empty. I wasn’t able to access any of it because of the emptiness of my insides.

I finally came into recovery through rehab. I only went to rehab because I fell in love with another boy. I knew I couldn’t stop using crystal meth, so I finally thought maybe I needed to go to that rehab I had sent all my boyfriends to. I took my ass to a rehab out in the Hamptons and told everybody I was going on vacation. I had my boyfriend keep all my credit cards and money because I knew I would check myself out and get drunk or high before I could reach the streets of NYC.

I stayed in that rehab for 29 days and I found out my boyfriend was using crystal meth. There was this one person who brought a meeting into rehab whose number I happened to get. I called her from the van on my way back to the city and said, “I’m afraid I’m going to be struck drunk.” She said, “that’s ok, find a meeting and call me in two hours.” I found a meeting in the west village and circled around the outside until someone offered to get me a cup of coffee.

I eventually met my sponsor. She was the first person I identified with in CMA. She chased after me out of a meeting one day because I was crying about living out of a suitcase while sleeping on a couch in Brooklyn. The first words I heard out of her mouth were, “I love crystal meth.” I said, “I do too!” In that moment she said something about boys and girls not working together but I told her it was alright because I’m transgender. It still strikes me that when it comes to life or death we pause to check the assumed gender of the person we encounter. I legit could barely drag myself off the couch to get to a meeting, let alone figure out how to shave or dress myself.

Relapse is a big part of my story because I had no self-worth when I came in here. I had all that trauma and kept hearing those voices. After getting 87 days clean, holding on to my old ideas, I made a decision to call my mother. I picked up that same day. I went out 17 times after that first 87 days back. I could not stop using and I kept calling my sponsor and going to meetings. My sponsor would say, “honey, you’re gonna die” and I’d reply “I don’t care.” She’d say, “OK, call me tomorrow.” She was so loving!

It was really hard for me to do the work in this program because I thought the message of recovery was for all of you and not for me. Once I realized that my life depended on it, I started working the Steps. I began to notice that people actually did like me. When I stopped surrounding myself with sick people I stopped doing meth pretty quickly.

After my first Fourth and Fifth Steps I was able to clear a lifetime of shit out of the way so that I could start to have honest and meaningful connections with other human beings. Then I got to Steps Eight and Nine. My Ninth Step with my mom was the biggest one I had to do, and I knew it. She was my biggest trigger. She, my little brother and I all used to do crystal meth together in the trailer park back in Michigan.

As soon as I had done the Fourth and Fifth Step, I started a new relationship with my mom based on reality. It wasn’t based on what happened when I was little anymore. It was a whole new relationship. I made direct amends to her and we had an amazing time together. She accepted my trans identity and things were great. I knew our last moment together would be the last time I was going to see her alive. She was diagnosed with late stage cancer not long after that and it strengthened my resolve to keep doing the program work that I needed to be doing until she passed away.

I flew out the day my mom died and was able to show up for the family. I’m not the kind of person who needs to see someone after they’ve passed—I’m not into seeing dead bodies. My brother said “are you sure you don’t want to see her?” So I went in there and held her hand and said the Third Step Prayer. Within an hour and a half of being at the funeral home, my baby brother had a crystal meth dealer at the house and it was within my arm’s reach. My last reservation to use was that I was going to get high after my mom passed away. Somehow I’m still sober! I must have tapped into a power greater than myself. I had no desire to drink or drug or fuck up my life that day or since, and that’s because of the program.

I heard somebody at a meeting say, “The killer is in the house!” I think about how much this disease in my head tries to trick me into going back out—back to believing those old ideas. It’s like that horror movie where the young girl loses her virginity and you know the bad guy is coming after her. She runs up the stairs and you think, “Why don’t you just jump out the window? The killer is in the house!” It’s not the stuff on my outside that’s going to take me out, it’s what is going on in my head. It’s my negative thinking that will always lead me the wrong damn way!

The way I get out of that thinking is by going to meetings, calling my sponsor, and working with newcomers. I got my first sponsee after a year and they talked a mile a minute. I had no idea what they were saying. I learned to love them and pick up the phone when they called, so that maybe I would stay sober that day.

My sponsor suggested I go to Share-a-Day at CMA and meet my sponsee brother who was doing service. I was so scared of CMA because I had been there so many years before. He brought me around and introduced me to all of you. You all hugged me and welcomed me and I thought, “These people have no boundaries!” They’re hugging and hugging and I thought, “I don’t know you. Why are you hugging me?” Truth is my inner dialogue was saying, “don’t touch me!”

The first time I shared at a CMA meeting when I came back I said, “All you people talk to each other but never talk to me.” After that share you all came up to me and gave me your numbers. I had this “aha moment” and realized I was afraid of you all. Maybe if I was afraid then others could be afraid too. So I started to introduce myself to the person on my left and my right at every meeting I went to. I would offer my phone number and allow them to talk about themselves—addicts do love to talk about themselves. This helped to get me out of my head after a meeting and be of service.

As I continue to grow, I realize I love everybody in this program but I don’t necessarily like everyone. It’s not called “Well People Anonymous.” That’s ok, I can love you and not really like you. I’m still going to reach out the hand of the program, because if I don’t do that, and practice love and service, then I’m not going to make it.

When I showed up for my mother’s funeral I knew how to practice love and service there too. I set up the chairs, just like you showed me to do before a meeting. I discovered my family doesn’t like me and that’s ok. I still can practice love and service. I don’t like most of my co-workers either, but today I can show up and say, “How can I help? What can I do to make things better?”

I started to love myself when I started doing esteemable acts. They were the things my sponsor suggested I do. She gave me the opportunity to finally have an intimate relationship with others, with myself, and HP.

I’m a happy customer of CMA. If you’re still thinking the steps won’t work for you, you might be one of the few. The steps are working all over the world, so if the steps are working for all those people, you might as well try it. What do you have to lose? What do you have to gain by doing these steps like your life depends on it? It might save your life like it saved mine.

May the 11th Step be with you!