All Photographs + Text 2006 Christopher Keeley

Jody's Story

Jody's story

I didn't come to the Fellowship of recovering addicts to stop using drugs. I came to the Fellowship of recovering addicts because I didn't know how to live with or without drugs.

Both my grandmothers owned bars so they would babysit me at the bars when I was a kid after school. Everyone in the family practically was an alcoholic. My grandfather died choking on his own vomit after a binge when I was seven. My aunt was one of those women who sat on bar stools every night getting drunk and going home with whoever had the drugs that night. The list went on in my family.

So between the people I'd see in the bars and watching what was happening as members of my family literally drank themselves to death - I never saw a pretty picture of drinking growing up. So I figured if I never drank I'd escape the family curse.

What I didn't know growing up was how little drugs or alcohol had to do with the suffering the disease of addiction can cause you. My mom and dad thought they could cheat this disease by not using drugs or alcohol.

Instead my mom became a workaholic and the most extreme co-dependant I've ever seen in my life. She also became such a nicotine addict - she's now up to four packs a day. My dad became a sex addict - molesting me, becoming addicted to pornography, getting arrested for being a peeping tom more than once - finally moving to a small town in Idaho where he could have more than one wife legally without social restrictions on his lifestyle.

So while I never drank and grew up in an alcohol and drug free home - my parents and eventually myself always seemed to be in a struggle of some kind with this disease. Whether it was an eating disorder, sexual addiction, compulsive shopping, extreme periods of depression so bad I wouldn't leave my house for months at a time, and even an exercise addiction so bad it caused me to have my first heart attack when I was only 21 years old because I was in the gym working out with a 102 fever from strep throat - I was always out of control because of this disease without one drug or one drink in my system.

I tried to find help because I knew my behavior was crazy. No one could tell me what was wrong with me - let alone help me just have a 'normal' life. I tracked down the best psychiatrist in Los Angeles at the time and underwent three days of intense testing just to see if he could figure out why I lived and felt like this. Some thought maybe I had brain damage so they did brain scans, blood tests, even the ink blot tests. When the results came in the psychiatrist sat me down in his office and asked me what drugs I was taking. I was quite insulted and demanded to know why he was asking me this. He said it was because my test results showed I was an addict - therefore I must be using something. Because I was not putting any thing into my system I thought I just paid this guy thousands of dollars to be a quack and stormed out of his office in an angry huff.

Finally, the pain of living with the disease of addiction in a drug and alcohol free state become more than I could bear and I became suicidal. This was during the 1980's when everyone thought freebasing was non-addictive and a party drug for rich affluent people in Hollywood. I was surrounded by it and never saw the appeal to be honest. But I liked dating drug dealers. They understood my addiction to money that was so bad I was escorting.

They understood what it was like to sleep with your hand on a gun under your pillow at night. One day I waited for the dealer I was hiding out from the law with to go make a drop and started looking for his gun. I couldn't stand living this way anymore and the thought of not living this way anymore was just as impossible to me - so I was going to take the only way I could out by trying suicide. The gun was the only thing I figured could put a stop to me. I wouldn't give the satisfaction of killing me to the people who wanted me dead - so I figured I had to put a stop to myself the only way I thought would work.

He came back early because he forgot something and found me looking for his gun. When he asked me what I was doing - I broke down and started crying on the floor that I just couldn't go on this way anymore nor could I stop and I just had to end it all somehow. He cared about me in the only way he knew how. He told me to come into the living room and he had a way to make me feel better. As he fixed me up a freebase pipe - he told me that this would take all the pain away and make life look good again. It would give me a reason to want to get up in the morning.

It did. My reason for getting up in the morning became about how to get more and use more of that wonderful stuff that made me feel wonderful for the first time in my life. Drugs gave me what I never had before - a feeling of safety, of being loved, that I was beautiful, and of hope.

But soon they took it all away by having me giving blowjobs in crack houses for a hit while surrounded by gang members carrying machetes and machine guns, of destroying all my relationships, adn turning me into a 100 pound crack whore with my teeth and hair falling out so disgusting that not even the tricks wanted to touch me anymore.

I wound up back in the same place I felt that day looking for taht gun - plus now I had the damage and shame loaded on top of the pile from my drug usage and it's wreckage. Within one year of my first hit - I had a $1200 a day coke and heroin habit.

But where to go? I didn't drink so I couldn't go to the Fellowship of recovering alcholics. I'd been to all the best therapists and quack self-improvement new age programs that Los Angeles had to offer - and none of them had worked before. Church? They told me I was already damned with no hope of redemption. Heck, I didn't even had a dress to wear to church that was appropriate. By this time I was sleeping in my Dodge Colt down on Pacific Coast Highway at night in my heels and spandex. You could smell me from 10 feet away because of all the tricks, the drugs, not bathing and sleeping in my car. The church had already lost me was my feeling at the time. Someone like me was unredeemable.

But after my last arrest, I had gotten probation on the condition that I go to a trade school. So I enrolled in one and would show up once a while when I'd run out of drugs and had a few hours to kill while waiting for the dealer to get his next delivery to restock. At this point the only thing that did keep me alive was the drugs - the drive to get more. If it hadn't of been for that drive to get more drugs - I think I would have just laid down and died because I cared nothing about life anymore.

After my last three day binge - I stagged into the school's coffee break room to see if I could keep myself awake with some caffeine and sugar because I was coming down bad. There was a man there telling a story to a buddy of his. He was talking about how all these people were sitting around in a circle cutting their wrists and laughing about how much fun they were having and laying bets on who could bleed to death the fastest would win. The image struck me to the bone. That described my life and everyone in it. We were all laughing about how smart and cool we were while we were bleeding to death at our own hands.

As he got up to go back to class - I had to know how this man knew what my life was like. I followed him outside and tapped him on the shoulder. I asked if he could tell me what he meant by that story. He took a medallion out of his pocket for five years clean in the Fellowship of recovering addicts and offered to take me to a meeting. I didn't want to hear about it. You see life without drugs was no life at all despite the fact I knew the drugs were killing me - I felt getting clean would kill me faster.

I told him I needed to find a new way to live - not just stop using drugs. He told me lots of people like me were there finding new ways to live from pasts much worse then mine. I explained I didn't need to know how to just stop using drugs - I needed to know live without the whole lifestyle I was. Because to me, my life and my head without drugs would kill me faster then the drugs were.the Fellowship of recovering addicts He promised me more than getting clean - he promised me I'd find a new way to life if I got with the Fellowship of recovering addicts. I don't know why I trusted him and believed him - but it was on sheer faith that this man knew where the road was out of hell - that I agreed to follow him. First thing he did was get my mom and grandma to let me back into the house for a place to stay. He had them lock up my car keys and told them never to give me any cash. Then he unplugged the phone and told them not to let me near one.

He would pick me up in the morning and take me to school. After school he'd take me to a noon meeting. And then another meeting, And another meeting. He wouldn't bring me home until midnight on school days. On the weekends - he'd take me to coffee after the meetings to do what they called "birthday watches" where we'd watch people turn another year clean and celebrate. We'd stay up in Nathan's until 4:00 a.m. on the weekends joking and drinking coffee and eating cake. When I complained I was too tired to keep this pace up - he said that was the point - I was so tired when I got home I'd go to bed instead of going out and getting into trouble.

He introduced me to Holocaust survivors who talked to me about the nightmares and flash backs. He'd drag me up to this private meeting where all these ex-drug dealers who were hiding out would have meetings up in the canyons who would talk to me about what it was like to get out of the lifestyle and still be looking over your shoulder all the time. My phone book filled up with Vietnam vets who talked to me about how pulling a trigger was easy compared to putting on a suit and going to a simple job interview. All these people helped me piece together a new way of life because instead of giving me advice and telling me what to do - they were sharing their experience, hope and strength with me.

In these days, women didn't stick around much in the Fellowship of recovering addicts. The routine was women would get about 30 days clean and then these packs of women would swoop in and gather them up under their wings and take them to another fellowship where they could learn now to recover and be "respectable". I always knew how to dress and act "respectable" before I came into the Fellowship of recovering addicts. That wasn't what I needed. I needed to learn how to look in the mirror and respect myself - and that's what I was getting from the Fellowship of recovering addicts.

The women meant well as they would try to convince me to defect to the other fellowship once I got cleaned up, got a real job, and acted lady like enough to be accepted by them. They would harp about how I'd never "met a nice man and settle down with him" if I continued to stay in NA. I would laugh and say getting a man was not why I was in this fellowship in the first place - I'd had thousands of nice men offer to make a respectable woman before I came in - this was not the solution I was looking for in the fellowship I belonged to. Besides, I didn't meet their requirement for membership. I never drank and didn't believe my problem was alcohol or alcoholism. How could I meet their requirement for membership to even join?

My problem was the disease of addiction and the only solution and the only program for people like me was the Fellowship of recovering addicts. I literally had no place else to go but the Fellowship of recovering addicts. It was my only and single solution for my disease. I tried getting female sponsors in the Fellowship of recovering addicts when I was early in recovery. Most of the women in the Fellowship of recovering addicts didn't have much more time then me so that seemed kind of pointless. People kept telling me I had to find a female sponsor because of the risk that my sponsor and I would have sexual complications. So I looked around for a female sponsor as hard as I could. I got invited over to talk about program and steps by women who wound up hitting on me more than the guys did. Besides, as an ex-hooker I knew that you can have sex with men and women just as easy - what I needed was a sponsor who believed in me and could show me a new way of life.

In those days because of the shortage of women with time or who were looking as me as a snack - that wound me up having to get my recovery from men. Funny thing was the men that had the recovery I wanted didn't look at me as a woman - they looked at me as a suffering addict in need of support and guidance and gave that to me.

I used to be sexist myself coming into recovery. I thought men couldn't understand what it's like to be raped. I was wrong. I thought men couldn't understand what it was like to be sexually molested in a situation where you were powerless and you knew no one would believe you. I was wrong. I thought men didn't know what it could be like to sell your body for drugs and to do things you never in a million years you'd thought you'd do for drugs - and I was wrong. I thought men would never know what it was like to try to hold onto a relationship so hard you were turning yourself inside out and destroying yourself just to hold onto that person - and I was wrong. The men shared with me openly about how pain was pain - and not different because you were male or female.

After the drugs cleared my head - the shame and guilt I felt from what I'd done was so overwhelming that I reached that point again where I felt I could not live with or without the drugs to numb my feelings and black out my memories. My sponsor and other addicts in the Fellowship of recovering addicts showed me how to dig my way out of that black hole. They taught me how the steps were there just for all that stuff that comes up once we not only stop using - but we have to find a way to live with ourselves and with others.

In the beginning, all the work was on the outside. That was okay because that's what I had to do first. I graduated that trade school, got into a real good job, moved into a nice apartment, developed some good friendships, even got a lot of sponsees under my wings, and made everything on the outside look like I was doing good. Paul, my first sponsor, died when I had 13 month clean. He got to see me take a year clean and to have the life he helped me to build before all the damage he'd done to his heart from using finally caught up with him. When he died suddenly like that - I was alone for the first time. I started trying to find another sponsor. The men refused to sponsor me because I was a woman. The women had less time then me or went to another fellowship. When I would find a woman with more time then me in NA and ask her to sponsor me - she'd tell me about having too many sponsees as it was and she'd refuse me.

Soon I was in spiritual torment. My life was great on the outside but it was like a spiritual hurricane whirling around in my head never giving me a moment's peace. When I would talk about how I felt on the inside - a lot of people told me my only problem was a lack of gratitude. They would chastise me saying I was clean, had work, had friends, and life was good for me now so I should just shut up and learn to be grateful for what I had and to stop whining.

I felt that if feeling this way was what I had to be grateful for - that all the two years I had put into building up my new life was a waste of time. I don't know how to describe the demons that haunted me, the way I couldn't sit for five minutes in a room without the TV on because my head would launch an attack on me, or how I'd have to rent five movies a night to watch to shut my head off until I got tired enough to go to sleep. Even then I had no rest - the nightmares would wake me up in a cold sweat almost every night.

How can we have a disease that makes us yearn to return to it - yet fear it so badly we have nightmares about it at the same time? It's like loving a man that beats you bloody - you love him and want to be with him yet you're afraid of him at the same time.

It's like being trapped. I felt trapped. Again the only way out began to feel like taking myself out. My nightmares became so intense I was waking up screaming so badly the neighbors were calling the police to come see if I was being murdered. I was getting exhausted because I couldn't even shut my head off when I slept anymore. There was no rest for me physically or spiritually. I couldn't find anyone to agree to sponsor me and when I'd share in rooms people would come up and bash me for scaring newcomers and not being grateful for what God had given me.

I remember this last nightmare like it was yesterday it terrified me so badly. Three men with chain saws tore into the walls of my house to come after me and there was no escape. Only I didn't realize this was a nightmare - I thought it was real. When I woke up I started running to escape from this men because I thought it was really happening. As I curled up to hide in my bathtub from these men - I finally woke up enough to realize this was a dream.

I sat in this tub drenched in sweat and trembling with fear and decided I had enough of living life in recovery if this was what it was going to be. What was I going to do - start taking valium or sleeping pills for the nightmares?

I got out of the tub and went into the living room. I got down on my knees and prayed. I told God he had 24 hours to find me a new way to live or I wasn't going to keep on living. I pulled out a meeting directory and found a midnight meeting to go to. I was so tired and disgusted with myself I put a coat on over my pajamas and headed off to the meeting - daring God to see what he could do for me in 24 hours.

I shared about the nightmare at the meeting. Ironically three men came up to me after the meeting. One was huge - tall and stout. He towered over me. The other was a charming handsome man with a southern accent that could make you just melt. The third was a man who looked like a committee had put him together. Tall, skinny, no ass, baggy clothes, large nose, skinny face, eyes like a ferret - just a strange package. Out of his thin frame came a deep masculine voice that sounded stronger then he looked.

They each approached after the meeting and said they could see from the look in my eyes that my disease was ripping me apart. I was offended at first - reminding them I had two and half years clean. They reminded me they were speaking of my disease and not drugs. The strange lanky one introduced himself as Grateful
  • David Moorehead

  • . He then went on to explain what my nightmare was trying to tell me. He said the three men represented the three aspects of our disease - physical, mental and spiritual. And that these three men coming after me to kill me were representing how my disease was using the three fold layers of it to destroy me. The house they broke into represented the life I had built around me as a false sense of security thinking that being clean and having a job would protect me from the ravages of this disease - and how this disease could tear that to streds in no time just like a chain saw tore into those walls.

    He explained that the house represented my physical recovery that I thought would protect me - but unless I started working a program over the spiritual and mental aspects of this disease it was still going to destroy me from within - like how they were inside the house to kill me.

    Okay nice dream interpretation. But the question was what was I supposed to do about it? He told me that a lot of people in the Fellowship of recovering addicts that were working a very spiritual program were back on the east coast. He gave me his number and suggested I call him to find out more about the spiritual part of the the Fellowship of recovering addicts. Turned out he and his two friends were only in town for the World Convention and were leaving the next day to go back home.

    I figured maybe he could help me find a new sponsor. I spent a few weeks calling him for womens' phone numbers. Only to call them and have them refuse to sponsor me because they were back east and I was in Los Angeles and they didn't think a long distance relationship would work. Finally Dave just said an addict alone is in bad company and he'd sponsor me. But he had a strong warning. He warned me that as I changed and grew spiritually - that the people around me would not take too kindly to change. Kind of how like when you stop using - your druggie friends don't like hanging around you anymore. Only when you change spiritually - the same thing tends to happen.

    It was like that scene in the Matrix where Neo is asked if he wants to take the red pill or the blue pill. Dave warned me that once I opened my eyes to reality instead of living in the obsession of our disease - that sometimes reality wasn't always that pretty. Was I really prepared to experience a line he showed me in the book where Jimmy described recovery as "feeling time, touching reality, and experiencing spiritual values once thought lost to us".

    I choose the path of spiritual truth and reality. And it rocked my world so badly I felt I had to quit my job, trash my apartment, give away my car and furniture and just pack a suitcase to head back east where I could study more about spiritual recovery for my own survival in a way that was more personal than I was able to get from just phone calls. This was in the days before webcams and the internet - and after getting a few $800 phone bills - it just looked cheaper to move!

    So in August of 1989 I showed up in Atlantic City with a suitcase in my hand and not much else. No car, no job, and not even a bed to sleep in. Dave had a basemet apartment he gave me a room in to stay. As I stood there wondering where I was going to sleep - a truck pulled up and delivered me a bed set, mattress, dresser, mirrors, lights - everything I needed was just delivered free from guys I didn't even know. They hugged me and said I was with family now. Other guys showed up with groceries they dropped off. Soon another couple of guys showed up with chinese food for all of us to have dinner before they whisked me off to a meeting.

    At the meeting, a guy loaned me a spare car he had to drive. Another guy gave me a job to report to the next day. People stuffed phone numbers into my hands and others were inviting me over to their houses for dinner later that week. I had never experienced this much generosity - true generousity - because these people weren't giving to get something from me. I'd also never felt a part of something like this since when I was running with the bad guys in the old days.

    But it wasn't all gifts and handshakes. When we got home

  • David Moorehead

  • told me to pull out my 4th step it was time to do the work to earn my recovery. We sat up for three days with no sleep while I poured out the inventory to him. Everytime I held something back - he'd push me until I would surrender and give it up. At the end - I didn't just feel a weight off my shoulders - I felt a lifting almost as if a demon had been removed from my soul. I could feel a grip being released from me - not just a burden.

    I had a wonderful adventure back east. We'd hope into cars and drive up to meetings hundreds of miles away that needed support. We'd sleep on people's couches and then drive to a workshop on traditions another state away. I'd go hear guys speak with clean time longer than I'd been alive. I got to see magic. I would see a very plain ordinary man get up to speak and I would see him light up like a christmas tree with the light of recovery shining through him and then reaching out to touch our hearts and leave there a transformed woman. I began to understand recovery not as an abstract concept - but as something I could see and feel and hear and touch physically.

    Dave found out he had AIDS and became sick. We had to move from Atlantic City to Philadelphia so he could get proper medical care. As the virus moved into his brain - Dave's mood became unstable. His mind was brillant- but his mood became unpredictable. He told me for my own good I needed to have a stable home life and helped me to move out into my own place.

    At that time a war started breaking out in NA much like the Civil War. It was turning family against famly and lines were being drawn. Some people continued to welcome me with open arms. Others started viewing me as teh enemy and became hostile. I was even physically attended by those who viewed me as now an enemy because of my beliefs - and even got punched out a few times by other members. Once I got a concussion and another time I got a dislocated jaw because someone in the program didn't like the way I believed and who I associated with.

    See I had a sponsor named

  • David Moorehead
  • who saved my life and showed me how to live in recovery. And there there was Grateful Dave the crusader in the Fellowship of recovering addicts. They were two separate men to me. He believed that part of the program he loved so much was through working with your sponsor and sharing your recovery with a sponsee. So no matter where he was or what he was doing - he always put his sponsorship work with me first. He would be having a meeting with a lawyer over how to sue the Fellowship of recovering addicts - and then walk out of that meeting to go over an inventory with me that I was struggling with.

    He also taught me that most people get fucked over because they don't read their own mail. Dave never manipulated me into doing anything - he would get me to read my mail however - and then I would act accordingly. But of course that seemed strange to all the other members in the program who didn't read their mail. Then again most people don't like watching CNN because it's not just an addict that wants to hide in ignorance - I think thinking as long as you don't know what's going on you don't have to do anything about it as a human condition. Look at the Nuremberg trials as to what went on in Germany during WWII for a case in point here. No one knew they were gasing people to death just a few miles down the road - but then again no one walked down to road to see where the bad smell was coming from either. As Dave became too sick from AIDS to sponsor me anymore and eventually died - I was without a sponsor yet again. Only this time I had a struggle finding a sponsor not because I was merely a woman - but because of having known Grateful

  • David Moorehead
  • now. There were now addicts in the Fellowship of recovering addicts who would hang up the phone or me or walk away from me in a room merely and only for the reason that I had even talked to Dave, let alone been sponsored by him, because these people viewed him as an enemy of the the Fellowship of recovering addicts.

    It was hard not to view this as NA being the problem and reject NA because of what some members were doing. The struggle became feeling like going to a meeting was like walking in to a dark alley at 4:00 a.m. in a bad neighborhood - it was begining to feel more like a risk then going home to continue on with meetings and to reach out to addicts I didn't know already. In those days I never knew walking into a meeting of NA for my own recovery whether or not some guy was going to jump across the table and try to kick my ass simply for having known Grateful Dave or for the kind of literature I read.

    Some addicts had gotten so caught up in drawing lines over who was right and who was wrong - that many forgot that I was just an addict trying to work a program and that I needed all of us in order to be part of this program. I was being rejected and even attacked now by addicts on the phone, in meetings, and even when I'd run into them shopping. Not for my program, not for not being clean, not for being a child molester - but simply because of who was my friend and sponsor. It was like they were trying to protect the Fellowship of recovering addicts from Dave and me - while forgeting that Dave and me were part of the Fellowship of recovering addicts also.

    Dave had started going in and out of the hospital and I didn't have a sponsor anymore. On top of my own program, I now had to deal with all of this rejection within the fellowship now. Without a sponsor now to supervise me - I did what most children do when left home alone for the first time - I decided to get into some trouble. I think that's why I did what most addicts do when they feel alone and unloved - I decided to get into a relationship. I had seven years clean and the guy had eight years clean - so I thought it was going to be ok. Kind of like when the parents go away and leave the kid home alone for the first time he thinks he can throw a party and no one will find out? Only to have the house trashed and then their ass is grass when the folks get back home. I met a guy who was handsome and charming - but I did like most addicts do - meet, fuck and move in right? Only that's what we literally did.

    We went out on our first date and when I drove him home - we found all of his things in suitcases on the front lawn of his house. What I didn't know before we went out was he was living with another woman at the time who objected to spending the night with me in a hotel room. So my whirl of a romance had now turned into my roommate. As I took him home to call one of his friends for a place to stay - I heard one after the other after the other refusing to take him in. I began to wonder why none of his friends would take him in - until I found out why. He was not only a recovering addict - but bipolar as well. With is fine if controlled properly - but this man was not taking his prescribed medication for this chemical imbalance. He would be violent, paranoid, delusional, and abusive.

    I knew I was in real trouble when he found out I was pregnant. He installed a double dead bolt on the front and back door and literally locked me hostage in the apartment because he said he wanted to make sure I didn't go out and "kill his baby" by having an abortion. Since he was 6'4" tall and weighed 300 pounds - it was a little hard to get past him and out the door.

    It was when he was holding me hostage in the house that I figured I wasn't doing too well in my life without a sponsor. So I called a friend in the program who always greeted me with love and respect no matter what I did or felt. He always saw past all the poltical issues to see I was still a suffering addict in need of recovery. He gave me womens' numbers all over the US to see if I could find a new sponsor. After LITERALLY calling 100 women in the Fellowship of recovering addicts to be rejected for one reason or another - I just said to hell with it and told this friend he was my new sponsor because I was in way too much trouble to keep shopping around for a sponsor - I needed some help now. Thankfully he agreed and he's been my sponsor from this until today.

    I knew if me and the baby were going to survive I had to not only get out of the house - but away from him. I had moved to Allentown by this and it was such a small town three phone calls would find me. So I decided to go back to California where I knew I could save up money for the baby, get health coverage for the delivery, and get a job managing an apartment so I could stay home and raise the baby on my own. He followed me and convinced me and my family that he could make this work and we could be a family. You know how you hear the jokes about how as addicts we "take hostages" instead of getting married? My daughter was born March 6, 1991. On February 19, 1991, he came into the house and started dragging me literally out of the house and pushing me into the car. When I demanded to know where he was taking me - he said no child of his was going to be born out of wedlock and he was going to see his name on the birth certificate so we were going to get married. I protested hell would freeze over before I'd marry this maniac - to which he just forced me into the car and drug me to the church.

    I escaped the car and locked myself in the bathroom refusing to come out until he dropped this silly idea of getting married. My family was worried about the stress this was causing the already high risk pregnancy and said for my health and for the health of the baby I should stop fighting with him in that condition and just marry him - and then just divorce him after the baby was born. So that was my shot gun wedding. What's sick - is I know that he did this because he loved us and wanted us to be a family together. He did these kinds of things because he wanted us in his life - but he didn't understand that these things he did to keep us in his life was exactly what was making me flee in terror of him at the same time.

    I left when my daughter was about two months old. I supported her and I by working at home at night when she was asleep. I'd go to meetings during her nap time so she'd sleep through the meeting because I was not going to let her out of my sight I was so protective of her when she was young. I also started back to school when she was asleep with the new online and cable classes they offer now through colleges. I got my life back in order again only to have it trashed by the 1994 earthquake that hit Sherman Oaks. I was living in an apartment on Coldwater Canyon at the time and my apartment was totally destroyed.

    I've learned this disease can destroy you from the inside. I've learned it can destry you by attacking in people that will do it for you. But I've also learned that sometimes life just happens too.

    I had been having a long distance relationship with a nice boy raised on a farm back in Nebraska at the time. A real John Walton type. He was the perfect normie. Had the same job for 12 years, excellant credit, lived in a house, both his parents had been married to each other for over 60 years by then, and he was loving, sweet, and kind. Total oppisite of my first husband so I thought that meant it was a good thing. Visions of my daughter running around laughing on a farm while she grew up filled my head with optimism and I told him I'd marry him and move to Nebraska after the earthquake had trashed my house and the landlord had refused to repair it.

    So in July of 1994 I packed my stuff into a U-Haul and drove up to our new home in Nebraska with my knight in shining armor to my fairy tale happy ending. I had always wanted to be "normal". I was now surrounded by normies. All at a time when the Fellowship of recovering addicts was in such a war within itself that I just wanted to stop watching the body count rise. I had a respectable husband and family. I started dressing like them. Going to their church meetings. It felt like Invasion of the Body Snatchers at how I was turning myself inside out to be just like these people - wanting not to be an addict anymore or anything to do with the Fellowship of recovering addicts either anymore.

    If I say so myself I did quite well as a normie. I married a nice man from a wondeful family. They'd all been raised on farms and everyone was married. No one drank or used and they all went to church on Sundays. They had model well behaved children and jobs and nice houses. I never even saw a smoker at their annual family renunions we'd hold in the park because he had so many relatives at the gathering. His family included doctors, lawyers, nurses, farmers, auctioneers, and it seemed like there was not one family secret or drama in the bunch. We settled into our house and we opened a business in Omaha. Soon I had a radio program I was producing. We bought two rental houses we're renovated and rented out and were shopping for our own house to grow old in together. He'd go off to work every day at his job as a machinest and I'd be home every night to cook dinner and take care of my new family.

    There wasn't a Fellowship of recovering addicts meeting for 300 miles and that was exactly how I wanted it. I didn't like the changes I saw happening in NA and I didn't like how people in NA were still acting like I was an axe murderer when they found out I had once been sponsored by Grateful

  • David Moorehead
  • . I had ceased to become a member of the Fellowship of recovering addicts to some of the fellowship - and instead had become either an icon or a target. I didn't want to be either. You know how when you know there's a dance coming and that no one is going to invite you to dance so you just trash it instead and act like you don't care so it doesn't bother you? I decided living well without NA was my best revenge. Who needed these assholes anymore? I got mine - and now I was living in my happy ending. Fuck them - fuck them all - became my mantra.

    I would still call my sponsor once a while because I loved him and he was like a father to me. After being in Nebraska without a meeting or the fellowship for about two years - he told me I was sounding like I had lost my mind. I had never felt saner in my life. See the disease had progressed to a point from where before I knew when I was being insane - now it had become so clever that I had never felt saner in my life as I felt during these years in Nebraska. I thought my sponsor was just laying a head trip on me when he said that - he had to be the crazy one.

    That way until the day I had a problem with one of the tenants in one of the rental houses. She was refusing to pay the rent. The lawyer had told me that in Nebraska she could tie me up for six months or more without paying rent before I could legally evict her. I calmly got off the phone with the lawyer and called my insurance company. I increased my insurance on the house and got off the phone. Then I went into the garage and got a big gas can out of it and was on my way out of the house to put it into the car.

    My husband saw me walking through the house with the gas can towards the front door and asked me what I was doing. I said I was going to go burn the house down to get the tenant out. Nobody was going to flip me off and get away with it. I said this as calmly as if I was ordering a pizza. I still remember the look on his face when I said this. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. I didn't understand what he was so upset about. I was going to set fire to the house - she'd run out - the insurance company would pay us for the house so we could build a new one - and she'd have learned not to mess with me. Problem solved.

    That look on my husband's face while I was standing in the front door taking that gas can to the car to carry out my mission plan told me that my sponsor was right - I had lost my mind while not feeling more sane in my life.

    So now what? The nearest Fellowship of recovering addicts meeting was 300 miles away. I was living in a farm community. How was I supposed to be of service in the middle of corn fields? I tried to hold onto my new life and get back into a program at the same time for quite a while. It's quite funny when I look back to how I set up a meeting in a church in the middle of this farm town and wondered why no addicts showed up for a meeting. I ran ads in the newspapers and even the yellow pages to generate some phone calls from addicts needing a meeting - only to never get one phone call.

    After about a year of trying to make this work without changing my life - my sponsor finally said if you can't get back into the program and into meetings where are you are - then you're either going to have to move - or get yourself another sponsor. He said very lovingly that he could not justify sponsoring an addict who was not working a program and was merely staying clean.

    I cried saying I could not give up the life that I'd built in Nebraska to move to a town where I could go to a meeting. My sponsor pointed out that if I didn't start working a program soon - I'd soon destroy this life myself and either way there was no saving it. Thinking of how close I'd come to setting fire to the rental house as evidence I was going to mess it up worse if I tried to stay - I told my husband that I had to move to where I could rejoin the fellowship and go to meetings.

    Instead of arguing - he sighed with relief. He told me how he'd been watching me go crazy and he had no idea what to do - and that he'd move anywhere for me to get the help that I needed. What a wonderful man. I love that man dearly for the way he loved me. I never thought I'd find a love like that after the life I'd led before.

    My mom and grandma had moved to Las Vegas after I left for Nebraska becasue the earthquake had trashed their homes also. They invited us to move to Las Vegas and even mailed me a meeting directory to show me there was meetings in Vegas almost every night of the week.

    So I closed down the business, sold the houses, and we all packed up and moved to Vegas in April of 1996. I would put my daughter to bed and go to a 9:00 p.m. the Fellowship of recovering addicts meeting at a coffee house every night for months. One night about six months after going to a meeting every single night - I could almost hear the pop as my head came out of my ass.

    I don't know how to explain it other than I became sane enough to realize how crazy I was - whereas before I was so crazy I had thought I was perfectly sane. Ah the paradoxes and contradictions called recovery!

    Life has been happening to me since I"ve been in Vegas - but I'm still here and still clean. On January 3, 2006, God willing, and thanks to my sponsor and the Fellowship of recovering addicts - I'll take another year clean. I have been clean of drugs and alcohol for all these years. Can't say I've been sane all these years - but I'm still here and at least I'm now sane enough to know I'm still crazy after all these years!

    Jody W

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