My name is Thom and I’m a crystal meth addict. I could tell you about what it was like to be a drug distributor in Texas and moving several kilos a week. I could tell you any number of insane adventures I had in my using days. There are way too many of those stories; I’d rather use this time to give you something you can use in your recovery.
I’m 47. I’m gay. I have HIV, ADHD, and I’m mildly autistic. I tell you these things because I used to feel shame about them, and I know some of you may carry the same shame. I felt different, had a hard time relating to people, and had a God-size hole in my soul. I wasn’t good enough, cute enough, or interesting enough. I wasn’t worthy of anyone’s love, attention, or admiration. I used substances to mask my feelings and cover up for my imagined inadequacies. Alcohol didn’t make me the best dancer just as meth didn’t make me the best lover; they made it so I didn’t care.
My Higher Power doesn’t care if I’m clean and sober. My Higher Power has given me whatever I’ve asked for and the consequences that come with that request. The day I started dealing drugs in Dallas I asked for their help, and I got it, and everything that came from that request. A year and a half later I asked to get out of the insanity that my life had become, and my Higher Power answered that request too — with a six-year federal prison sentence.
Nearly four years into that sentence, I got out, and my life completely reset: a new town, new friends. But I was the same old me. I had started working the program of Crystal Meth Anonymous, but I had made it through only the First Step. My sponsor was harping on the fact that I was powerless over my addiction. I already knew that when I started dealing; in fact, it was why I started dealing.
During my first week of home confinement, I decided that I wanted to have sex. But the only guy that wanted to come over was using. (This was during the COVID pandemic.) I resisted for an hour before I invited him over, but then it was off to the races. I got a month clean until a guy I had played with before called. Then there I was with a pipe in my hand wondering what happened.
My sponsor and I fired each other and my new sponsor gave me the key that I had been missing, Step Two: We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. I don’t know why I had never thought of this before. It fits my worldview perfectly. I have always believed that when it came to God, ask and ye shall receive. I know that there is more to it than that, because as they say, “Faith without works is dead.” But this gave me the start I needed. I can’t quit, but we can. As long as I’m open-minded and willing, all I need is a little faith and hope.
I doubled down on my recovery and started Step Three: We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. At first this was difficult for me, but today it is the bedrock of my program. Like the artist in the Big Book of A.A., I wanted to be the actor, run the lights, direct, and produce the play. It was all about me after all, and I wanted to be in charge of everything. If other people would just do what I told them, it’d all work out. My thinking couldn’t have been more misguided. It’s not about me. It’s about US, all of us, and I’m just another bozo on the bus. I can’t even run my own life so what made me think I could run anyone else’s? Today I try to concern myself with doing the next right thing and letting God do the rest. The Serenity Prayer is key to me, which I usually end (silently) with “your will not mine be done.”
Steps Four and Five were fairly easy for me, but like many I still procrastinated about getting them done. The part I would like to include here though, is that although I like the description in the Big Book of how a store wouldn’t survive if it didn’t do a regular inventory, I don’t like the way it tells you to do your inventory. It concentrates on the “unsalable items.” If a store did this, it wouldn’t’t be a useful inventory. A business needs to know what it has to offer, in addition to what it needs to get rid of. My suggestion to everyone is to compile a list of character assets as well as character defects. This way the Fourth Step isn’t completely demoralizing, and it’s a more accurate inventory. For me, I don’t have an issue telling anyone anything about myself good or bad. It’s part of that whole ADHD/Autism part of me. I don’t have an edit button, I don’t fully comprehend societal norms, and I’ll talk your ear off if you’ll let me. I understand this can be a difficult process for most people, so if I were to make a suggestion, it would be this: find someone you trust to share this with, and no matter how bad you think you’ve acted, there are those of us who have done far worse.
Steps Six and Seven are among my favorites and are closely tied to the work I did for Step Three. To me, they go hand and hand with the Third. Now that I figured out what things about myself that I’d be better without, it was time to let go of them and humbly ask God to help me rid myself of them. I recommend the book Drop the Rock when doing this process, and I believe that for me, at least, this is an ongoing daily process. My sponsor asked me to learn the Seventh Step Prayer and repeat it on a daily basis. So, I decided to use the dictation function on my phone and read the prayer into it. When I looked back at what I said, it came out with the phrase “that I may be a better dude…” This has become my daily prayer: I humbly ask that you take away my character defects, that I may be a better dude, to do your work and help those that may benefit from my help.
The Eighth and Ninth steps were difficult for me and may forever go unfinished. I believe I have a complete list of the people whom I have harmed and owe an amends, but for a large number of them I have no way to find them, or sadly they are no longer with us. I never learned some of their names or I have forgotten their names with time. I gave my amends to those I could. I keep my Eighth Step list, and if ever fate brings us back together, I will give an amends to those I haven’t at that point. In the meantime, my daily life is my amends.
I have to admit that I don’t do a good daily Tenth Step inventory, but I try to recognize when I do something wrong, and I promptly admit it. I do look back at the previous week and try to see what went well, what didn’t, what I told myself I’d get accomplished, and what I did and didn’t get done. I keep notes on my schedule, my meetings, my workouts, and try to plan the week ahead. This helps with the ADHD. I try not to be too hard on myself, and I only compare myself this week to myself last week, and not to others. I strive for progress, not perfection.
The Eleventh Step is another one I could probably do better. I have a hard time finding time each day for meditation, and other than my simple daily Third Step, Eleventh Step and Serenity Prayers, I don’t pray on a daily basis. I do try to set aside a couple hours a week for spiritual activities, and I go to my faith’s building for worship and fellowship most weeks. My spirituality is a way of living, but I could probably use more conscious contact with my Higher Power.
The Twelfth Step is another of my favorites, because as they say: we keep what we have by giving it away. This is also the only step that doesn’t start with “we.” The “we” part is the final statement. To me this is very much a “we” program. Without all of you, I wouldn’t have my sobriety. Through this program, I have had a spiritual awakening, and a big part of that is the realization that it’s about all of us. I can’t do it without all of you, from the newcomer to the old-timer. The only way I can stay sober is to be of service. Being of service gets me out of my thoughts and into helping others. This is also a way of doing a daily Ninth Step. It is part of my living amends; if I can help one addict stay sober today, it helps make up for the addict that I helped stay high when I was dealing. That is part of my reasoning for writing this; it is my hope that maybe my story will help at least one person stay sober today. Namaste.
— Thom M.