Na Today Blog

Getting off the not-so-merry-go-round.

Getting off the Not-So-Merry-Go Round.

Daniel R from Brisbane 

What was it like?

Hi, my name is Daniel and I’m an addict. Before coming to NA, life was a relentless combination of isolation, insanity, and disconnection. I had no trouble ever accepting I was an addict: I knew from a very early age that I could not control my drug use, so I tried to stop using. I felt hopeless, and living without hope was very painful. There were periods when I stopped now and then, when the pain got too bad or when I ran out of money, but this was for no longer than a month, and I was still using alcohol to numb the pain of life until I had enough money to score again. It was up and down, around and around. I seemed to be stuck on a rollercoaster of misery, never being able to get off.

The lowest point was when my mum died. She called me while I was living overseas. I was driving at the time and I heard the fear in her voice as she asked me to pull over. The knot of anxiety in my stomach grew as she said the words “I have stage four colorectal cancer”. My mum had been my best friend, my protector, my biggest backer when all else was lost, and I knew in my heart that I was losing her. Three months later, she had passed away. I returned home during the middle of the COVID pandemic and despite wanting to spend time with her, I used more than ever. I lived too used and used to live despite knowing I could be spending more time with Mum. The lowest point was me messaging my mum on the day she started chemotherapy to ask for $50 to go score. I don’t call this my rock bottom but this memory comes to mind when I recall how self-centred I had become.

What brought me to NA?

After Mum passed away, life was an ongoing disaster of rehabilitation, arrests, court, and short periods of clean time with new rock bottoms. I could write about them, but honestly, I’m not sure I even remember them. I had occasionally attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings but at the time I did not believe a program based on spirituality was for me. However, after multiple attempts at rehab, a violent relationship, multiple hospital admissions, and homelessness, I was finally ready to try anything. Finally, I gave up on the idea that I had anything left in my arsenal to help.

I was admitted to my fifth rehab in 2022 and was required to attend regular NA meetings. Unable to stand meetings at first; I hated everything about the program, particularly the idea of spirituality and a reliance on a higher power. I had experienced God through attending a very religious high school and as an openly gay teenage boy, I wanted nothing more to do with him. I read “A God of your understanding” but thought that naïve NA people didn’t believe this! It was a religious program despite all they said. I knew better!

There are a lot of cliches around the NA rooms and “bumper stickers’ repeated over and over. However, my experience is that an older, cleaner member’s clichés can be absolute gold for the newcomer. All it took was for a member to say “anything you put before your recovery, you will lose” and I thought “yes, that’s exactly what happened to me. I suddenly identified with a group of addicts trying to get better and felt our common experience and understanding of addiction. Suddenly, within the time it took to share 30 words or less, I had identified with experience, strength and hope that NA members freely share.

What life is like now?

Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite let go of the idea that my sexuality made me somehow defective and slightly inferior. After 8 months of engaging with the program, doing regular meetings, and starting the steps with a sponsor, I found myself in an early recovery relationship. It was great at first, he told me loved me and accepted me exactly as I was. In hindsight, I no longer had to do any of the hard work around learning to love and accept myself because I had an intimate partner validating me every day. It was great at first, but it soon descended into hell and by the end, domestic violence. I stopped going to meetings and when the pain became too much, I relapsed. In four short months, chaos, pain, and unmanageability crept back into my life. I was, yet again, broken.

I needed to act and yet again, I thought rehabilitation at an institution was the only way. Fortunately, I had done some NA and knew that the program, meetings and fellowship worked. I knew from personal experience there was hope in NA, outside of rehabilitation, if I did what was suggested. And if I could let go of the idea that anything external could make me whole.

From the first day of my recovery, I’ve done exactly as suggested: I joined a homegroup (a beautiful, welcoming Rainbow homegroup) and begged an older, cleaner member to be my sponsor. With him, I worked out a daily program of readings, gratitude and regular step work each day. I committed to attending 90 meetings in 90 days and through this formed more connections with fellow addicts trying to stay clean than I’ve ever had in my life. I meditate regularly and set aside an hour each day to complete all of this. After doing my first three months of NA recovery without rehab, I’ve established a daily program that I do to the best of my ability.

These days, my life is full of hope. Life isn’t perfect, it isn’t always easy but it is simple. I’m on a long journey to self-acceptance and loving myself despite being imperfect but for the first time I’ve let go of the idea of the idea that external dependencies (romance, drugs, food, shopping) can ever complete me.

I thank my Higher Power each day for all they’ve given me: hope, gratitude, friends, fellowship and yes, each night, going to bed clean. There’s a first for everything in this recovery and it wouldn’t be possible without NA.

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