My name is Gary M. and I am a grateful, recovering Heroin Addict.
That happiness I found started with a seemingly small step of honesty, admitting I was powerless over the disease of addiction and it had made my life a living insanity. Powerless yes; I knew I needed to quit a long time before but I could not so I had surrendered to the fact that I was an addict and would continue to use until I died. Insanity for sure; Addiction had deceived me into a feeling of worthlessness – “Nobody cared, anymore. No one would surely hire an addict like me.”, “I’m tired of hurting everyone so I’ll just kill myself so they don’t hurt anymore.”, ”Jails and prison just come with the territory.”, “Well if I couldn’t get any of that right, I may as well just live on the streets. Without rent to pay I would afford more dope!” These thoughts and more had consumed Eighty percent of my life.
The second step involved being open-minded that something “Greater than me” could restore some sense of sanity to my life. I had recognized and spoken to a God of my understanding since adolescence and everything I was taught or experienced said He was able to make miracles occur. I felt a miracle was what it would take before I could remain clean and sober without restraint.
Standing on a corner where I panhandled upwards of $150/day, tears fell down my cheeks as I became willing to let go of my self-will and my life as I knew it, I took my third step to recovery asking my God to take my life and show me His will for it. In the last 16 months, I have had to repeat these three steps many times, always telling myself and God – I am powerless, He could change me, and I would let Him.
I had to do a little work to figure out what and why I was like I was. I took a fourth step and looked at people, places, and things in my life, which continually bugged me to the point of fear or not caring. Some of the fault may have been placed in my life by those things, but why had I allowed it to happen? Why had God let it happen? I discovered I had, but He had not. He had given me a working brain and conscience and the free will to make my own decisions. I looked at the part I had played into making my decisions and accepted where I had been wrong.
So, for my fifth step, I admitted to myself, my God, and another recovering addict what I had seen and discovered about myself and why I thought it played a part in my addiction. This was not an easy task when my entire life I had blamed others for my self-deceit, bad breaks, and insane lifestyle.
The sixth step I took, I admitted to my God I was ready for Him to have all of me, good and bad. For a seventh step I asked Him to remove what I had seen caused the bad in me. Simple yes, but the human nature is wired for a fight or flight survival mode and some of these things may take a little time to discard. But I was ready and I admitted it.
I took my eighth step with the list of persons I felt I had harmed and admitted I was willing to do whatever it took not to ever use drugs again, even if that meant making amends to them all. For my ninth step, I made those direct amends, sometimes reluctantly, unless I felt it would harm them or someone else more.
My tenth step requires I continually take a look at my character defects, which had kept me in addiction, and if I feel they have caused personal conflict with others I promptly admit it to myself, God, and them.
Today, and almost everyday for the last sixteen months, I pray and meditate to my God and ask Him to let me know His will for me and the strength to carry it out. My eleventh step consists of this daily routine often praying to Him to “Take me where You want me to go; Let me meet who You want me to meet; and place the words on my lips You want me to say to them.”, humbly asking Him to “take my will and my life, teach me how to live and to guide me in my recovery.” - (My third step prayer) Like I said before, I have to continually go back to those first three steps. I can’t do this myself, but with His help I can.
Having experienced this Spiritual Awakening by taking these other steps, my twelfth step allows me to share the message of my recovery with those still suffering and, whether they decide to try it or not, it helps me continue to stay clean and sober by practicing these principles in my everyday life. This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s simple if these steps are taken slowly “One Step at a Time”. “Simply Baby Steps.” Keeping it simple and not making it difficult. There are literally millions, like me, who have taken these same steps and are willing to hold a hand while others learn to walk the walk. We do this because somebody did it for us.
Those angels I mentioned are real. I met Alan Graham many years ago, and when I told him I “had a problem” and could he help, his response was, “He could help but first I had to take care of what created the problem –get sober. Then I needed to become self-supportive in order to afford a normal lifestyle. After that, he could assist me in finding a solution to the problem of no place to call home.” Alan Graham is an angel in my eyes; to many homeless he would be nominated for sainthood. Alan helped start an organization that assists homeless, and others in need, to receive the basics necessary to stay alive while in this world. St. Alan, I don’t believe that name has been taken. His organization uses many volunteers to visit and help distribute basic food and supplies to the homeless.
I met Kay Dalton and David Shiflet, two of those volunteers, about one week before I began to take my steps. As I shared with them what I felt had caused me to become homeless, my addiction, they shared how someone close to them had taken twelve steps and recovered from similar circumstances. Kay and David returned the next day, giving me some personal items and their personal phone number if I needed anything more. I believe that was God letting me know he was sending me angels to help if I was willing to allow, all I would have to do is call and ask. A week later I had made a decision and I made that call and asked for help. Within 24 hours, God had sent those angels back and they held my hand as I took my first steps to recovery. Today, I thank God for sending those angels because I believe they helped me save my life and find that aforementioned happiness and joy. If God has angels on this earth, Kay and David are two of them. I have witnessed them as guardian angels over many of God’s creatures. They are also my closest friends.
I mentioned the millions, like me, who are willing to hold a hand as others try to take these steps. God gave me another angel, an addict like me, that for conditions of anonymity I’ll just call “Tj”. Tj has shared he has not been perfect in his walk to recovery, but he had a desire to live his life differently and free from addiction. He was willing to do whatever it took to gain that and, by the grace of God, he has shared with me how he did it and I am truly grateful to God for sending him to show me “How it works” for him. I listen to his advice and suggestions, and again reluctantly sometimes, follow it because I feel my God has gifted me with him as an angel of recovery.
Please, if you are an addict like me or afraid you could be, understand I tried several times to quit using drugs but I had no choice. In my DNA I am an addict. Choices are made for ice cream, clothing, and friends; all of which you can change your mind if you decide you don’t like the flavor, color, or personality. If you are an addict like me, it will take a decision to allow yourself to accept you have a progressive fatal disease that cannot be cured, but it can be treated. Cancer, HIV, and Addiction never go away but treated properly, a seemingly normal life can be had while we are still in this world.
I told you, my God can perform miracles and if you knew the rest of my story you would agree – 16 months clean and sober, for an addict like me, is a miracle. My God loves every creature He has created in this world. He loves an addict like me, and He loves an addict like you. Just let Him, and let Him place angels in your life to hold your hand while you take a few simple, baby steps. Whether you are still suffering or not, I love you too. Join with me as I pray to my God to “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. To be able to change those things I can in my life. And the wisdom to know the difference.” Receive His blessings, He loves you.
~ Gary M. – Date of Sobriety 11/01/08 ~