THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Michael"
Originally posted in May 2003(The author retains all rights to this material)
Hello everyone I am Michael and I am an addict. Very Grateful addict that is. Grateful that once again I have been blessed to be asked to share the blessings and the message of Narcotics Anonymous.
I had a good childhood with Mom, Dad, Brothers, and Sisters. Some moved out, some were left at home; 3 as far as I can remember; a happy family. Our Mother passed on just past my 8th birthday. I remember a sad day. Mom had been in the hospital for a while, I had a rock fight on the way home from school, pretty normal I suppose? That left us with a single parent family: my Father and three children to raise. Father had all the right ideas and thought processes to bring up three wonderful children. School was important, in by 9:00, hang with this one and not that one ... so the story goes. I suppose this time in my life I was quite confused with no more Mom. We trudged on, no more church and less activities. Being a single parent is not the easiest thing to do. As my life went on, I became rather rebellious at age 9 or 10, you know when we begin to know just about everything. I think whatever my father said I did the opposite.
I picked up my first drug at the age of 11 or so, I suppose because my father told me not to. I am not sure if it was alcohol or pot, but either way it was a great start. It really allowed me to hang out with all the people my father told me not to. At this point I was still going to school regularly getting home and instead of playing football or baseball, like I used to, we would go hang out at a friends house, play pool and get high, or hang in the woods and get high. I think a short time after the beginning of the end I discovered girls also, oh what fun! This continued for a year or so. When I was 12 or 13, I could not stand to live with my Father and his good will any more, so I decided to leave home like my sister did at age 13. She went to live with an older sister I did not make such a wise choice, I decided to move in with some drug addicts I knew across town where there was a single Foster Father who allowed the children like myself to party, hang out, steal, cut school, have sex and all of the wonderful things addiction has to offer. I did not realize at the time that being sexually abused would also be part of the package, but it was. I was scared and confused although I believed at the time that I was cool and knew almost everything there was to know. So I accepted the package. This went on for a year or so until the home was raided for selling cases of stereos and clock radios that we had heisted from some trucking company. The Police knew most of the other things that were going on too, so they talked to some of the children involved and the man who was in charge was arrested and convicted of a number of charges. This put an end to my first Foster home but provided a strong foundation for a very willing disease to take hold.
For the next couple of years or so I was moved around from home to home, some good some not so good. My disease escalated. It only took a day or so before I, or we, would discover where the drugs were and how to acquire them. I finally wound up at an older sisters home, the same one my sister lived with when she left home. I was 14 or 15 at the time. This did not last long. I suppose normal people just aren’t apt to living with an addict. Again, there was good will there, but I just did not want any part of it. I tried attending High School, how I made it there, I am not sure, but it just was not for me. I wanted to quit school and do something or do nothing but get high, and that is hard to do that when you live with people that want good things for you.
It seems that the drugs had taken quite a good hold of me. In my heart I really wanted to do good, but the driving force of addiction was too strong. Things went astray as usual and it was off to other places for me. After a falling out with my brother-in-law I strayed the town living here and there, wherever I could that allowed me to be an addict. I had another arrest for burglary and the police asked who my guardians were. I was not sure, so they contacted DYFS, who they searched their records and found my file. The police said that DYFS had to find a home for me that night or I would be locked up until I turned 18. It was one last chance. They found me a home in the middle of the night at a Foster home in Aberdeen. It was a wonderful home with real caring people who were the closest thing to a Mom, Dad and family I ever remembered. It was just after Christmas and the children were playing with trains and toys. The Mother was very affectionate and concerned. I was to stay only for a weekend until DYFS could find me another permanent home. It went on to a week, a week or two, and I wound up staying until I was 19. During this time, I found all the right people and all the right things. The Family had got me on the right track. The mother insisted I would get some education. I went to adult school and acquired my GED and went on to Technical school and got a Diploma in Drafting. I got my first decent job, but I was getting high daily through it all. I met up with a young woman who I had to have in my life. I went to any lengths to get her too. All to soon, she was pregnant and we moved into her parents house. The father was a drunk and mother lived through it all. It was a perfect place for a drug addict to exist. My foster mother was all the time telling me that I was too young and I should be careful. I did not listen.
We had a child and remained at her parent’s house. Soon another baby was on the way. During our second pregnancy we decided we would find a place of our own and get married. What a great idea for two addicts with children! We had no idea how to live or how to raise children. We found a place, full of mice and other things. We existed there in horror until after one of those all-nighters when my wife decided to leave because it was the middle of winter and we could not manage to put any propane in the tank, or pay the garbage service. It was quite cold and I chased her down the road a ways and tried to choke her into coming back. She and our first daughter moved back with her parents. Eviction was not far of, so I moved back in with the in-laws also. Soon after our second daughter was born and being thrown out quite a few times, I left and moved in with a couple of addicts in South Amboy. My wife did not like the idea that I left after she threw me out, so a short time after that she dropped the children off and was not to be seen for some time. I now had two children living with me and my roommate; this could be the beginning of my not too far off recovery.
I filed for custody of our children, my wife got news of it and tried to come live with us in South Amboy. I took her in and dismissed the custody charge. Soon afterwards she disappeared again and I was raising our two children without her. Some time later she wanted to come back, so we decided to find a place of our own this time. We did, in Keyport, a place full of roaches next to a dysfunctional addicted family. What a wonderful place to be for a couple of addicts. We fit in well. Our addictions soared. We had no parents or in-laws, no one but us. Not long after this move we found ourselves in our third pregnancy. Soon after we had our third child, we decided to 'close shop' so we would not have any more children. With our addictions in full bloom, life was a terror week after week, day after day, month after month. Our marriage was a horror with cheating and stealing; the whole ten yards. It was a horror. We had no respect for each other, our children or ourselves for that matter. We only existed, and that is saying a lot. My life got to a point where I knew I needed help bad. I talked about it a lot and I seemed to know that someday I would be seeking the help I needed. Thank God the day came before I had killed my self or any one else. As they say, I was really beaten. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired over and over and over. I began looking for help at a youth service where I had been some fifteen years earlier when I first moved to Aberdeen. So, I went to the service with a marriage problem. The counselor asked if I was sure it was a marriage problem and not a drug problem. Thank God for putting me where I needed to be and allowing me to be somewhat aware that he was doing. I had a glimpse of hope.
I got hooked up with a counselor who I thought was a marriage counselor and was seeing her for a few weeks before I even realized I was speaking with a substance abuse counselor. It worked for me. We spoke of meetings, I began to attend any Twelve Step meeting I could get to. It seemed to work I began to see a shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel and the people in the rooms shared with me that the light was probably not a train this time. I do not think I believed them at this point, but the glimpse of hope was still alive, Thank God, so I kept coming just like they told me. At this point I was told that to recover, the whole family should be involved in recovery because this disease affects all Family members, and it does. As I began to recover I was enlightened to the fact that I did not want my children to suffer any more from the devastation of this terrible disease. I had told my wife that I needed to do something about the way the children’s lives were being affected by her lifestyle because she was still active and I had begun to recover. As time went on something needed to be done, so my wife decided she would go to a rehab. I thought it was a wonderful idea, but I was a bit resentful about the decision. I was working everyday coming home dealing with addiction, taking care of our children as much as she was and she runs off to rehab? Well, as it turned out, it was a relief to have her gone from the home. Things were getting better I was cleaning up our apartment, taking better care of our children and beginning to recover. For the first time really I was beginning to love our children, and seemed to have some type of respect for them and even myself. This program really does work.
At the rehab the counselors stated that the whole Family should recover, so I signed up the children to attend group sessions at the rehab and myself for a Family type addiction weekly workshop. At this point, I began to enjoy what I was doing along this recovery path. I met nice people who really cared in the places I was going. As time went on I really felt like I was on the road to recovery. My wife returned home form rehab and I thought I would have a break from all the daily chores, the children, the laundry, the mops, and the whole family thing. That afternoon I paid a visit to an old place near some old things. I think I was clean around 90 days at the time. Needless to say, I did not return home until the bars closed. I was all coked-up with a six pack in the saddle bags of an old motorcycle with no lights functioning. A bender -- this could have been the last high for me. I went to my counselor the following Wednesday and somehow had enough honesty in me to tell her about Saturday's adventure. She asked me what I did Sunday. I said I went to a meeting, and Monday I went to a meeting; and Tuesday I went to my addiction workshop. We decided after the session that a meeting everyday would be a good idea.
My recovery began again. My wife, on the other hand, had different ideas. Life went on and the meetings were getting better for me again. I really enjoyed the atmosphere of recovery, people who cared and shared good things. The children were attending their group sessions all along, and I was doing something for my recovery everyday. Inevitably, my wife had to leave the home and I was left a single Father with three children in early recovery. It was tough I was working, bringing the children to a baby sitter each morning, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of all the family responsibilities as well as I could, or knew how. The people at the meeting told me to get a sponsor, get a home group, make 90 meeting in 90 days, use the phone, I was beginning again to recover. One evening just after the holidays I changed my clean date one more time. The children were sleeping I was at the kitchen table and I had connived one hit of crack from a brother-in-law on January 14, 1995. I went back and forth: "do it, don’t do it, do it, don’t do it", we all know what happened that evening: I did it. I did one hit of crack and I sat and cried. Our children were upstairs sleeping soundly, happily, and safely and I knew what terror was ahead if I was to make the choice that I had always made for the past almost twenty years.
Thank God for the program; thank God for the glimpse of hope; thank God for the shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel; thank God that he has blessed me with all the people in the program. That was my last high. A meeting or two after that last high I got a sponsor. He is a wonderful man who is still my sponsor today, more than 5 years later.
We have been working a program of recovery. I have worked through 9 Steps in the program and am ready to go over Step 10 with my sponsor. As he puts it, when we honestly work a Step to the best of our ability and we live it in our lives, we own the Step. The Steps have given me all the freedoms that I enjoy in my life today, one day at a time. I enjoy life today. I love my children. I have a wonderful lover in my life today. I even love myself today. The program has a lot to offer. The fellowship is wonderful. I have enjoyed dances, speaker jams, and meetings are great too. The freedoms have come to me through the 12 Steps . . .Thank God for Narcotics Anonymous and thank all of you people for my new life.