I had been returned to the pod at the Denver County Jail after a day at court. My fast- talking mouth failed to do what it normally did: get me out of trouble. Instead of being put back on probation for the umpteenth time, the District Attorney decided he was tired of my bullshit and was recommending I serve the 12 years in prison that was hanging over my head for the slew of felonies I acquired over the past 18 months.
I felt as if my world was crumbling around me. That had been happening in an ever- increasing manner since my heavy partying moved to addiction four years prior, but now the consequences of my actions were staring me straight in the face. That night I was overcome with the realization that the root of all my problems had been fear—fear of success, fear of failure, fear of commitment, fear of being alone, fear of a life addicted to meth, fear of a life without meth. I had gained an understanding of myself now that it was too late.
A week later a friend bonded me out of jail and wanted to see me (he of course wanted drugs as I had been his dealer for years). I owed him at least that and I certainly wouldn’t use after the heaping helping of self-knowledge I had just received. So, as I pulled the needle out of my arm and I felt the extreme high of the large shot of meth, my anxious, frantic, almost neurotic inner voice that was always quieted with drugs kept on telling me I was a piece of shit and I deserve every bad thing I had coming to me.
I left my friend’s house and slithered back to the condominium he let me stay at until it was foreclosed by the bank. I was at the jumping off point with nowhere to go. My friend Adam, who had been forced to enter treatment after his first felony and night in jail, called me to ask if I wanted to go to a Twelve Step meeting. Meetings seemed like a last recourse for losers who couldn’t handle their drugs, but I wasn’t in any shape to judge (I still did anyway). I was overcome by the happy faces, the similar stories, and the welcoming invitations after the meeting to attend other meetings.
I had attended one or two (or three) meetings every day for about a month when Adam and I decided to try a CMA meeting. We did not go there initially as it had a bad reputation from actions by a member who sold meth in the rooms and caused great harm to the fellowship. He did start several meetings around the Denver metro area though: Loaders (biker), Sketchin’ Out (gay), and Arapahoe House (rehab facility). The meeting we went to was called Kicking Tina located right in the middle of Capital Hill and of all my meth activities.
Kicking Tina had been started by Rod R. who worked in recovery and was a shining example that there was hope for crystal meth addicts. Early members included Jim E., Daniel G. and Steve S. who all reached out to those of us who slowly found our way to the meeting. It was quite small at first but grew quickly as those of us who started in other fellowships found a home there. For myself, I can say that my shares resonated more in the rooms of CMA. Try talking about six-hour long sex sessions, stealing identities, or dumpster diving in an AA meeting and people look at you like you are crazy.
As the Big Book states, a fellowship grew up among us as we all started to put time together. Everyone showed up early and stayed after the meeting to catch up. We’d all go as a big group to Pete’s, a Greek diner and a Denver institution since the ‘40s, for late night food and fun. We all had sponsors, service positions, and kept each other in check. Our phone list grew and we welcomed newcomers to this family we created. It initially only met once a week on Thursdays but meetings were added on Mondays and Tuesdays due to the increase in attendance. We began a literature study, performed group inventories, and participated in Area meetings. For a significant amount of time it was the most well-attended CMA meeting in Denver.
More than a handful of times I would see someone new and, upon hearing their name as we introduced ourselves at the beginning of the meeting, I realized it was someone I knew and loved from my using days who I had not recognized at all. Funny how a separation from daily meth use will help a person’s appearance. The rooms took on a magical air and it seemed everything in life would work out well if we just stayed the course.
I had found employment and even hired an attorney to help with the impending prison sentence I had to face. I had been attending court-sponsored meetings as a representative of CMA and spoke often. I never had my court slip signed because I was participating for altruistic reasons, not to look good to a judge or have my restitution reduced. Without realizing it, my actions had been noticed by the D.A. I was eight months clean when I went to court for the eight felony and ten misdemeanor charges I had in three different counties. I brought my sponsor, my lawyer (and grand sponsor), Adam, and two other lawyers who were members of the fellowship to speak on my behalf. The judge let me know he was not interested as my record spoke well enough on my behalf. The D.A. that recommended the prison term came in just before the gavel came down and asked the judge if he could relay what he had seen of my behavior over the past months. He told of how I had, for the first time in the years since I had been on probation, gotten a hold of this program and it would be a travesty of justice to send me away. I was given three years of probation which, by the way, I completed early.
With my freedom secured and my schedule suddenly open, I jumped into service work, giving it all I had. I knew that I had been shown grace and treated my recovery as a new lease on life. By the end of my first year I completed the Steps and began sponsoring other addicts. I grasped an understanding of the program that had not made sense previously. I began to form relationships with members who became the elder statesmen of the fellowship. Walt W. came into the rooms after me but had an amazing knowledge of the program and a level of commitment that I still admire. Bear P. had significant time but relapsed after an enormous personal tragedy. He returned to gain even more time and become a strong presence in the rooms. We were definitely people who normally would not mix but we heard the calling and took action. I cannot think of a time in which we were asked to do something for the fellowship that we declined. We all understood that this was far bigger than us. We just got to be a part.
That first year in CMA was exciting and special. For most of us we were traveling in uncharted territory. We often had to reach out to members of more established fellowships to ask how to address some new aspect of running a group or an Area. We are indebted to those who came before us. Looking back, I find that many who were a part of those early meetings are no longer around because they moved on to other fellowships, chose an easier, softer way, or wanted their misery back. I realize that we all have different journeys and I am just thankful for the time our journeys ran along the same path.