THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Jeff C."
Originally posted in Sept. 1999(The author retains all rights to this material)
I can remember being a young child and feeling as though something was different about me. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew things just weren't the same for me as they were for other people. I would lie about seeing certain movies, or doing certain things just to fit in. If my friends liked something, I liked it. I didn't feel like I had anything that was mine. I borrowed all my interests and experiences from my friends. When I was about eleven years old my brother, who is as straight-laced as they come, told me that his best friend at the time (who was also our neighbor), had a jug of vodka and wanted to get drunk, but didn't want to do it alone. My brother said that he didn't want to, but knew that I had expressed an interest in it before. I drank half of that jug that night. I remember going into the bathroom to throw up and coming out refreshed and ready for more (nothing out of the ordinary there). I proceeded to drink every chance I got, which was almost every night. At that point I thought that drinking and doing drugs were different, and I was sure I would never do drugs. One day a bunch of my friends got some pot, up until my first hit, I wasn't sure if I was going to do it or not. I can remember, a week later, commenting to my friend that I had smoked pot every day that week. At the time I thought that was kind of cool. If I only knew.
I fell into a pattern where I would use every drug I could get my hands on all night long, and during the day I was a member of the football team, the wrestling team, the track team, the chorus on school and regional levels, and I was in mostly advanced courses. I though that I had found something that was mine. I was able to party all night and still appear to be a normal well-rounded kid during the day. I had always been afraid of being different, now I had found a way to be different intentionally. I was the kid in high school who would walk down the hall banging his head on the lockers and screaming for no reason. I thought this was great. Sure, I wasn't popular, but I didn't care. I had my own thing going. Looking back I sometimes feel that there was no down side to my using in high school, but that is not true. There were plenty of nights when I cried myself to sleep because I couldn't understand why I couldn't control my moods. I would get so angry that my hands would go numb, and minutes later I'd be crying like a baby.
Once I got out of high school my using took off like a rocket. Rather than using all night, every night, I was using all day and all night, every day and night. I started doing a lot of the things that I said I would never do, like sell valuable possessions. I started stealing a lot from stores, and breaking into houses. Every time I did something that I thought would never do, it became okay for me to do until I had used up that scam. I would then move one step farther down the ladder. I've had several different drugs of choice over the years, so I have no misconceptions that what drug I am using matters. All I know is that in the end, I lived my every waking moment in pursuit of 10 to 15 seconds of pleasure. As soon as those 15 seconds were over, it was right back to the finding ways and means to get more.
The last day I used was an event I will never forget. My parents had just bailed me out of jail. At eight o'clock the next morning I somehow convinced my mother to drop off some money at my apartment on her way to work. I had previously been in quite a few rehabs and had a bottle of Rivea. "Rivea" is a drug that prevents the body from getting high off of opiates, my last drug of choice. It also throws the body into severe withdrawal if there is already and opiate in your system. Well, my mother had given me the money, had her back turned and her foot out the door. My ride was on the way and the money was in my pocket, and for some reason that I have yet to fully explain, I stopped my mother and let her watch me take one of my Rivea pills. I don't know what I was thinking, but I then proceeded to go cop and shoot up. At first I though I wasn't feeling high because my habit had gotten rather large, but after a few minutes I started feeling even more sick that I had before. It then dawned on me what I had just done. I spent the next 11 days sleeping no more than ten minutes at a time, eating almost nothing, and hurting like I never knew possible.
At some point during those 11 days I got honest with my parents and they "suggested" that I either go to rehab, or start sleeping on park benches. At that point I opted for rehab. As I continued to stay clean in the halfway house that I was in, they were taking us to meetings. I was starting to feel some of the things that other addicts in these meetings were sharing about. At some point, I'm not sure quite when, my obsession to use drugs was lifted. After many, many rehabs and countless attempts, I was finally staying clean. My life started to take on some kind of meaning. I almost enjoyed waking up in the morning. I then got a sponsor, not because I thought he would guide me to a new freedom as a result of working the twelve steps of Narcotics Anonymous, I did it because everyone told me I should. You know what, they were right!
Everything good that has happened to me in this program, and there has been a lot of it, came as a direct result of doing things a way other than my own. Not having others do things for me, but actually getting off my butt and doing something for myself, by following the suggestions of people who had been where I had, were I was, and were I wanted to be. I have a wonderful 9-5 job that I love, my employer looks at me as an honorable and diligent employee, I pay my bills, I have a car, a home, and people in my life who's opinion of me is not based on fear, or what I have that they want from me. I look in the mirror today and I can honestly say that I love who I am today, that is a gift I could never seam, or steal from anyone, no matter how hard I tried. In the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous, people show me how to get it for myself, for no other reason than they love me. That's a beautiful thing. Jeff C.