Hello, my name is Diana, and I am an addict.  I do what I can to remember everyday that I do not suffer from terminal uniqueness, and it is for this reason I decided to share my experience. Experience has shown me that although I may feel no one can relate, I know someone will.

My parents are still married after 40+ years. This is something that I, to this day, cannot possibly fathom. When asked why I never married, I always reply it’s simply because I want what my parents have and I have not found it. I grew up in a family where my parents worked full time and stayed very involved in all of our activities, were loving, nurturing and attentive to all of mine and my younger brother’s needs.

As I got older, very quickly I realized that something was missing, which I later heard others call the hole in my soul. The most obvious symptom of my disease, using drugs and alcohol, was not obvious to me until my mid to late 20’s. However, my desire to fixate and obsess about members of the opposite sex were well established by the age of 13. The first real experience I had with a mind-altering substance was not a substance at all; it was a state of mind. Fantasizing about relationships had become my favorite coping mechanism by my early teens. It was easily accessible and something I used on a daily basis to alter how I felt.

Toward the latter part of my teens, I realized that dreaming about guys was a very dangerous thing. There was a boy I had met freshman year of high school, his name was Tommy. There were a few conversations and a friendship outside of school, but certainly not any substantial relationship to speak of. He moved back to Brooklyn, NY at the end of our freshman year. We started writing letters, (yes . . . paper, pens, stamps etc.) and then we began talking on the phone. The biggest fights I had with my parents while I was a teenager were over the long distance charges on their monthly phone bill. The first time I used was when I smoked a joint that Tommy had sent me in a letter as my Christmas present. He even wrapped it in Christmas paper. Needless to say after a few years of letters and phone calls Tommy had become the most incredible and important person in the world to me.

The next time I saw Tommy was my junior year when he flew back to take me to my prom. When I was finally face-to-face with him again I realized he had become an illusion. Illusions are dangerous since they have no flaws. It was awkward. Horribly awkward. That familiar hole engulfed me again. Although there were other boys, other dates, and other proms, this relationship began a pattern of behavior that I never realized, until many years later when I wrote my first sex/conduct inventory in sobriety.

My sex experiences closely follow the progression of my disease as it was expressed in my drug use. Although it was never my intention to wait, the first time I had sex was when I was 21, with my boyfriend at the time. As fate would have it, this relationship turned out to be the most abusive one in which I had been involved, both emotionally and physically. One night while out at a bar, he became so physically abusive in front of my friends that the bouncer had to call the cops. The relationship ended. I was relieved and so happy that I could finally do who and what I wanted: specifically large amounts of alcohol and lots and lots of sex. I quickly made up for lost time and began sleeping with anyone and everyone.

I got into the rave scene and took part in all of the substances that followed. Never did I have a problem hooking up with friends’ boyfriends, the married medical director at work, or my boss’s 18-year old son who was shipping out to Afghanistan. (Ooh Rah!). Conscience? What conscience? What I failed to realize was that the hole in my soul was not just a hole anymore . . . it had become a crater.

By my mid-20’s I had finished college and decided it was time to leave my hometown. I recall driving home after a night at the bars trying to think of reasons why I should keep my hands on the steering wheel. Armed with my best thinking, I decided to move across the country to the DC area because surely the problem was “this place”. I secured a job along my career path, but, due to the progression of my disease, I was fired soon after I moved. I reverted to waiting tables at a local restaurant. That served my purposes for meeting people (and sexual partners) and finding the local dealers. I added 30-some sexual partners within the span of a couple months and I was getting high daily. The worst nights were the ones where I couldn’t find any cocaine or meth, and would need to drink just to get through the night. My disease had progressed to the point where I was using constantly and was quickly becoming unemployable.

Impending forgery charges prompted a Montgomery County police detective to offer me a choice: attended an IOP treatment program or be charged and go to jail. This became my first experience in recovery. I started attending meetings, got a sponsor, and began working the Steps. Although I was taking suggestions, not much changed. I continued many of the same old behaviors—lying, shoplifting, and sleeping around with men, only now they were men in the rooms of recovery.

The first experience that I had with “sobriety sex” was with a man who I met in the rooms. Since that was also my first experience in recovery, I was unprepared for what I found. My assumption about men in the rooms was this: they were there to get help and to help others. Unfortunately, I found that was not entirely true. I headed into a series of dating scenarios, and when I found a man that was to my liking who seemed relatively stable and safe, we began a sexual relationship. “He was good enough for the time being,” became a common rationalization. The intimacy, or lack thereof, certainly reflected that.

I knew something was wrong immediately after we finished. My skin would crawl when he would touch me or cuddle. I wanted NOTHING to do with him. All those things I do when I feel safe and comfortable with someone were non-existent. Sex and the intimacy that followed felt like an obligation and a chore. I couldn’t stand it. I remember wondering, is this normal in sobriety? Is this how my relationships will be from now on? Will I feel this detached from anyone I am in a relationship with? Maybe, this was who I really was.

I know something now that I didn’t know then. If I am uncomfortable in my skin around someone, there is usually a good reason. It boils down to one of two things—either I am not in a safe situation or I need to do some work within myself, getting completely honest and identifying which emotions and fears lie underneath. I was not there yet.

Fast forward a year. I stopped going to meetings telling myself, “I’ll go to the next one.” I stopped calling my sponsor—“It’s already been two days since I spoke with her, I’ll just wait until tomorrow.” I stopped working the Steps—“I just finished Step One, and I need a break for a little bit.” I relapsed and, as they say in the rooms, picked up exactly where I left off. I caught a felony charge and decided this was the perfect time to move back home.

Fast forward three more years. I was still an addict of the hopeless variety. I used everyday. I recall a woman sharing in a meeting that, although she never walked the streets, she was still a prostitute. I could relate to that—although I had never took cash for sex, I certainly was more than willing to continue having sex with someone as long as they had something I wanted, specifically money or drugs. I sold my body just as much as any stripper, hooker or escort. It was my survival. Any and all morals I had growing up were compromised, time after time, in order to get what I needed to live and breathe . . . drugs.

I caught another eight felony charges after moving home and, after being compelled by the courts, began recovery again. The first call I received after completing a 30-day rehab was from a man whose voice I knew, but whose name escaped me. I believe I had been “dating” him for the six months leading up to my sobriety date, which is January 28th, 2011. Even today I am not sure of his name. The experience of hearing his voice and recognizing it, but not being able to remember his name or how long I had been with him scared me. It scared me just as much as seeing my reflection in the mirror while I detoxed. “Incomprehensible demoralization” is a very accurate description of how I felt. This, to say nothing of my drug use, was killing me.

I continued treatment by attending a sober living program for the next eight months. I lived in a house full of women in early recovery—certainly not my idea of a good time, but it saved my life. Very quickly I began making the acquaintance of many men in the rooms. For the first three months I was not working and just attended meetings—sometimes three or four a day. Damn, did I need it! That’s how sick I was. I got those lovely butterflies in my belly after a week in the sober living house when I met one of the male clients who was a resident of another house. Of course relationships between clients were strictly forbidden, but they didn’t know this feeling! Surely they would understand if they knew the feelings I had. This was it! It was meant to be . . . I could imagine the conversation now . . . “Dad, I have fantastic news! I met the man of my dreams in rehab!!” Ok, maybe not.

I do know that all my emotions were crazy intense because I had not felt any emotions in years. I returned with elation to my first “mood-altering substance”, fantasy. The obsession of thought about men was the only thing I had to bring myself out of all these other uncomfortable emotions. Do you see where I’m going with this? My experience tells me that thinking and fantasizing about men is just as insidious and addictive as putting a drug in my body. If it feels good, I want more. Very quickly that first relationship in sober living evoked emotions which brought me very close to relapsing.

One of the most important lessons I learned in recovery is that sometimes the best action or the next right thing is not to take action. Inaction became an action. Long story short, a man I knew in sobriety had propositioned me. Up to that point, I absolutely intended to start a sexual relationship with him. Once the situation presented itself, as I was reading his text message, I realized I was uncomfortable with the thought of being a booty call. I wanted more. I became equally uncomfortable knowing I wanted to use him for the very same thing. He had also been giving in to some of his old behaviors and the feeling that he was on his way back out of the rooms continued to plague my thoughts. What did I do? I called a trusted friend because that’s how I cope with life in recovery. Because of the rooms and other women in this program, I don’t have to make decisions on my own.

Not once did this woman tell me what to do; rather, she reminded of what I deserve. She said I was not just a hole in the ground but if that was all he needed, he could go dig one. I also realized that using him for sex, although consensual, is not the kind of woman I want to be. I don’t like being used, and I don’t want to use anyone else if I feel it would do them harm. It was painful, even excruciating, to turn him down. I was literally brought to tears as I processed my true motivation behind meeting up with him.

Today I choose to live my life respecting others and above all, respecting myself. Sex can lead me back to old behavior patterns, depending on my intention. I have proven to myself that falling back into old behaviors is very dangerous. Especially if I take advantage of someone else who is struggling in their sobriety. The root of my problem lies in fear, which causes me to be selfish and self-seeking.

But for the grace of God, I found my way into the rooms of Crystal Meth Anonymous and by following the suggestions of this program and asking for guidance from my higher power, I have some time under my belt. To this day I view my parents’ relationship as ideal. More emotion and fear run through me as I simply write that I have not had sex with anyone since I have been sober. Fear of the truth, of what others think and of being alone come to mind immediately. I now have ways to handle those fears. Just as it was with my virginity originally, there is no vow I made to myself, but simply the way things worked out, living one day at a time. I will say I am grateful to live in the electronic age. (Thanks, God!) It is, in no way, my intention to abstain from sex, but just simply to practice living the principles of the program one day at a time. My sponsor, my higher power and the women in CMA help me to see what I am unable to see myself. They have helped explain the principles of this program, shown me how, and walked with me on my path. They have helped me to define the woman that I want to be, and how to be that woman one day at a time.