THIS MONTH'S GUEST SPEAKER: "Robby G."
Hello to my NA family.
This is my story about the course of events that led me to NA and about how being in the process is helping me to stay clean and experience some joy and freedom in my life today.
I grew up in an upper middle class suburban neighborhood in New Jersey. I was told that only I can live my life for me and that if I worked hard I could get a good job, make good money and be happy. I was off to the races, trying to make something of myself. I loved school, was in all college preparatory classes and had many good friends that I still have to this day. I was active in sports and student government, senior class treasurer and I was honored by being voted senior class Prom King.
I went onto college and loved it as well, made wonderful loving friends that I still keep in touch with to this day. I was active in student government and pledged PSK Fraternity. I was attracted to their organized house functions, which included scholarship, strong alumni, winning intramural sports and more. I held positions as Treasure, Inductor, Kitchen Manager, scholarship Tsar and more. I graduated and started working and soon I was a top earner as a sales associate for a big distributor in New Jersey. Here I was, in my 20’s making six figures, and driving a Porsche (wow, look at me). I had a 401k for retirement, mutual fund investments, etc.; I was set for life financially. What nobody knew was that at the end of the day something was still missing. It was subtle and I didn't know what it was. I thought, What’s wrong with me?
I left that job and relocated to Washington State. I took a job with a fitness center and soon I moved up the corporate ladder to become the Operations Manager of a huge facility and the challenge was exciting and I excelled once again for about the same amount of time my sales job did back in New Jersey. Three to Four years was becoming a pattern, start something new, go gang-busters with it, only to find out that the excitement fizzled away and I was left seeking yet still for that something that might fill that unclear, undefinable void in my life. Being around lots of “in-shape” gym people during my fitness center days, I had the idea that if I got in shape physically that this would make me happy. Once again I found an exciting thing to be and actually liked the way I looked physically. I couldn’t wait to get to the beach or some other place where I could display my new sculpted body off.
This too wore off and I was left once again, confused and wondering perhaps if I’m from another planet or some kind of cosmic mistake. What to do? I didn’t know. I loved life too much to kill myself although I thought about it. I just wanted to stop my mind from going all the time, I was never at rest. Even while asleep, I was an active dreamer and often would wake up feeling like I had just barely survived a battle. I decided to come back to New Jersey.
I decided to open a restaurant. I love going out to eat and was very critical of most restaurant experiences. I thought, to do my own restaurant would be cool and maybe would make me happy. Maybe it was in the satisfaction of doing something and showing this world full of idiots how to do something right. This ended very badly and it took less than 3 years this time. I ended up in jail for terroristic threats, apparently I threatened to burn down the restaurant and my partners got the police involved. So it became obvious that I was not finding what I was looking for in a restaurant.
Desperate and baffled as to why I felt like something was missing. I wanted to rest, if I could turn into a bear so I could hibernate for a season and wake up when someone figures out what the heck was going on. I floundered around for several months until one day I walked in on my tenant with a glass pipe in his hand. I have never seen such a device and without hesitation I grabbed it and partook. I found something that gave me moments of rest from the endless restlessness. Oh what a relief, finally something that I could have a few moments to rest. More please! Soon I ran through several bank accounts, vehicles, lies, and stealing, bad checks and on and on until my family was lost and confused as to what happened to Robby. What is wrong with him? OMG! My dilemma was exposed outwardly for the 1st time. So they intervened and sent me to live with my oldest sister who lived in Virginia. Her husband was a recovering addict, and had 27 years clean and active in the fellowship at that time.
So, at three days clean in January 2008 I found myself at a convention in Virginia. I experienced my first clean-time count down. Wow, the love that filled the room was amazing and I found myself on the stage in a huge ball room holding a book that was given to me as a gift by whom I thought was the guru or grand poohbah of NA. I came to understand that he was the person with the most clean-time for the count down. I felt the energy and love in that room and it overwhelmed me to tears of joy.
I would love to say that I lived happily ever after, but that is not the end of this story. I was broken and surrendered, willing to do anything to get and stay clean. I did 112 meetings in 90 days and kept nearly that pace for the first 18 months. I moved back into my house in New Jersey and continued NA meetings there. I attended 9-12 meetings a week for the next 18 months and had over three years clean. But once again, my pattern of stopping something after 3-4 years continued. NA became work and my meeting attendance slipped until my last commitment was up and I stopped going to meetings altogether. Before long I was caught-up in the grip of active addiction and once again lost everything. This time I started selling one thing to support the other, and I caught six charges in six month’s time. I was facing a five-flat prison sentence. Once I started using again I could not stop, so I’m grateful for the consequences I faced via the legal system. I knew this time that just going to meetings and taking commitments would not keep me stopped. I had experienced this first hand and knew that I needed to get a sponsor and do steps. I prayed a simple prayer, “GOD HELP ME!” My prayers turned more specific, “God help me get a sponsor.”
I did 90 meetings in 90 days and during this time I was listening very carefully for someone that had what I wanted: Freedom! I used the phone and got myself in car rides with guys with decades clean. One spoke about how NA gave him some freedom. I struggled with confronting him and still to this day have never actually asked him to be my sponsor. This is how it went down. I called a few addicts who had sponsors and asked how they got one. The answer I got was all too simple, “I went up to him after a meeting and asked, “Will you be my sponsor?” Another said they called and said, “Will you be my sponsor?” The last addict I called knew in his wisdom that I was indirectly asking him to be my sponsor and said, “I can’t be you’re sponsor because I sponsor a lot of people and my schedule is very full”. He asked me, “Do you have somebody in mind?” I said, “Yes.” He told me, “Go ahead and give him a call and ask him!”
That is just what I did, without hesitation, right then. The addict I called was already in my network and we had road-dogged it to out of area meetings several times, I heard him share and speak a few times already. He answered and said, “Hey Robby Rob, what’s up?” I mumbled, “umm, well hum….” Unable to actually say the words he interrupted me and asked me, “Robby, are you asking me to be your sponsor?” With a huge sigh of relief I answered with a big, “YES!”
I had a glimpse of what I had been looking for all my life, something told me that I had a chance, just maybe I could get more peace of mind knowing that I found someone who believes in me and wants to help me in my recovery. The feeling was really good and I felt like I could rest easy and the feeling lasted. It didn’t wear off like the high from the drugs did. This entire year we met regularly to do step work and the freedom I’m experiencing today is beyond measure.
To date, it is the single best thing I have ever done for myself. Step 1 was kind of like a chore, but 2, 3 & 4 I did with the desire to do them and they have helped to transform me. I can internalize surrender, acceptance, honesty, open-mindedness and willingness. I have an H&I commitment, a GSR commitment and two chairperson commitments. I have a home group which I attend regularly and participate in business and policy meetings. I use the phone every day & night, I call my sponsor five to seven times a week and we have the same home group. We still travel to out of area meetings a few times a month, including speaker jams and conventions.
Today I truly have come to believe that if I stay in this process, I have a chance to continue to experience glimpses of hope and freedom. I have come to see the simplicity of getting out of my own way and getting to know the pure, loving and caring person that God made me to be. It is all a shift in perspective. NA is not work this time, I truly desire it! I’m drawn to it like a love story between me and the person I know I really am. The steps are acting to dismantle the illusions I have created blocking me from me. I’m coming to believe that I have one problem, the illusion that I’m separate and apart from. The solution seems to be in the steps; at least so far, that is my experience. What I have been looking for all my life seems to have been right within me all along.
The insanity is that I was looking for something out there in or from this world and low and behold I’m finding it from within me. I wonder why Step 2 uses the word restore? Maybe I’m being restored to an original state in which my higher power and I are one. It seems that what I really want is what I already have. I was too busy to see that I don’t have to be anything more or less, just simply who God made me to be. What a relief it is! OMG, Wow!
Love you lots, Robby G.