This is from my good friend Gary who we met while serving out on a Mobile Loaves & Fishes truck. The angels he refers to are David & Kay. They have been earning their wings lately! :-)
I just want to share a little of my story about how I got where I am today. Some of it may sound a little familiar to some people. Maybe at least one person may hear something that gives them the desire to stay clean and sober, because I feel if I can do it most anybody can.
By the Grace of God, Austin Recovery (www.austinrecovery.org), the Fellowship of Heroin Anon., and a patient sponsor - Tjarko (pronounced charko), I am 108 days clean today. That is just one of the Miracles I have experienced in the last 3 months.
Just about 110 days ago I was facing an emotional bankruptcy. I was standing on a corner holding a sign, trying to maintain a drug habit that consisted of a current 25 yr. run of Heroin and Opiate addiction, along with a 38 yr. history of drug abuse.
Just a few days before I had come to the conclusion that I was totally powerless to do anything about my addiction and I already knew my life was unmanageable. Hell, I had been living in a tent and flying a sign for the last 3 yrs., with the threat of being arrested for living like this. In my heart I knew there was Something greater than me. Hopefully it could help me return to a more normal, sane way of living. I surrendered.
I was ready to turn my will and my life over to the care of the God of my understanding. He had never forsaken me through all these years of screwing my life up. After likely 30 - 40 times in the county jail, 3 times in T.D.C., an intentional attempt to die from an overdose (not to mention several accidental overdoses), to giving up on my personal welfare and living on the streets, You might say my God would think I was a waste of His energy.
But when the tears flowed from my eyes and I cried out "God I can't live like this anymore," He sent two Angels to that street corner and they said, "We have a bed for you @ Austin Recovery, do you want to go?" I said "yes". God was doing for me what I could not do for myself.
I thought I had been living a moral life by swearing not to lie or steal; and all of my signs I held had a religious script on the face. Hell, I was lying and stealing from those people in traffic everyday, using the money they gave me to shoot dope all day. I professed to be a devout Christian. I believed in God alright, every day asking Him - (1) God, let me get the money. (2) God, let the connection have some dope. (3) God, let him answer the phone. (4) God, let him hurry. (5) God, let me find a vein. On page 44 of the Big Book it says- "If a mere code of morals and a better of life were sufficient enough to overcome addiction, we would have recovered long ago." My disease dictated my morals and philosophy.
Well, after 20 days into recovery, I had to enter the hospital for complications due to Cirrhosis of the liver caused by over 22 yrs. of Hep C and constant I.V. drug use. It had caused the vascular system (veins) in my esophagus to start bleeding into my stomach. And I had been getting high all those years because I thought I enjoyed it, not realizing what it was doing inside me. After 7 days in serious condition, unbearable pain, and 6 blood transfusions in 4 days I was released to a homeless shelter, full of drug and alcohol use. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I had been discharged from Austin Recovery for missing too much treatment already. Back on the street for 5 days, I faced my fears and revisited my old neighborhood, once again repeating "God, I don't want this anymore." Monday morning I began making phone calls and was readmitted to the "Ranch" for another 28 days. I wanted to return because that is where the healing began.
I may still suffer some of the physical pains created by my years of drug use, but the mental pains are being lifted everyday. It's easier today to "Let go and let God" handle the rough spots in the roads I take daily. By having faith and showing a willingness to find a new way of living, I'm able to share my Spirituality with others, show them brotherly love and forgiveness. Through perseverance and courage, I face each day as a new beginning and ask God to allow me to be of service to Him and others.
In the Christian Bible, when Paul wrote a letter of hope to the Philippians he said, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining for what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize...."
I can't tell you what will work for you; I only know what will work for me. I turn my life over to God every day in prayer and ask Him: Take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Put the words on my lips that You want me to say; Guide me in my recovery and teach me how to live.
Since my first day out of treatment, I have stayed in contact with my sponsor and try to do the work he assigns me to the best of my ability. After all, it's about progress not perfection.
Now in Austin, there are places for dope shooters like me to meet besides the street corner or methadone clinic. I attend Heroin Anonymous meetings and share in the topics and fellowship with others like me trying to stay off heroin and other opiates "one day at a time".
I attend alumni gatherings at Austin Recovery because it is the largest, most loving fellowship I have found. They are part of my family. It takes a village to keep an addict like me clean and most of them are there.
If I speak with another addict about something that is troubling them I can share what works for me, then share what the Big Book says. It may not keep them sober, but it sure as hell helps me. For those still in treatment, just stick with the program. They can't cure you; they provide you with the tools to work your own program of recovery. If you feel your not ready to do what it takes, go back out and do a little more "research". I did 4-5 times; just don't wait until you are in my condition before you come back. There's no shame in expressing a desire to change your life, just shame in not trying.
It's all about dealing with life on life's terms; something I obviously haven't tried until now.There is a solution; just don't give up 5 minutes before you discover it. If you are hearing/reading this it is probably not by mistake. Remember, our best thinking got us where we are today. oh, and that rock we crawled out from under is waiting for us to crawl back. It hasn't gone anywhere.
If I live another 15 yrs. or die tomorrow, I know God will be happy I got it right before I died. My gratitude goes out to my God for giving me another chance. May He bless each of you with the happiness I have found.
If nobody has told you they love you today, and even if they have, remember I do!!!!