All Photographs + Text Copyright 2012 Christopher Keeley

  • Paradise Life

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  • My name is Steve and I'm an addict.

    I was born in Liverpool in 1955 and yes I did live just round the corner from Penny Lane although I was bit young to go down the Cavern

    My father was a union man Area Co-ordinator and was quite old even back then, he had been married before and had kids but to this day I never met any of them. Family secrets back in those days stayed secret. I guess he was what you might call an Edwardian, so kids should be seen and not heard in our house. My mum just walked in his shadow for the most part but had been a munitions supervisor in a factory during the war. Where we lived was on a dreary gray back street of brick built terrace houses amongst hundreds of others, apart from the odd one that was still in ruins after the bombing of the Second World War.

    The air I remember was always filled with the smell of coal smoke and everything was always covered in a thin film of black dust and grime. This was where I did my early growing up and have some but not many happy memories of summers kicking around the back gunnels and bursting tar bubbles in the street. I guess you could say that we were dirt poor as I remember my mother feeding us sugar butties because she had little else to give us some days. I have a sister who is like 2 years older than me who it seemed to me got all the attention, she was always ill.

    I do remember one time very well though, I must have been about 5/6 years old when she was so ill the ambulance men came to take her away and my father calling me to come and say goodbye, I think they all thought she was going to die, as I ran into the room I tripped up over the wire from his radio, his pride and joy and the most expensive thing in the house, the wire had been left trailing across the room it smashed to a thousand tiny pieces. After my sister had gone he took hold of me, ranted and raved and beat me real bad and left me in pieces in my room. I remember sobbing uncontrollably and hearing some kids out in the street shouting up and laughing at the big cry baby locked in his room, I was just wracked with shame and guilt. It was the 1st time in my life I felt the pain of injustice. I vowed there and then to never trust my father again or ever to show my true feelings for fear of being laughed at and ridiculed.

    I always felt isolated from that point on and don't think I recovered from that until I found recovery some 32 years later, I never fitted in at school and learnt to that by making things up I could get people to like me so I did and lying became second nature to me, we moved once and I changed schools at about 8/9 years old and told the kids in the school that we had just moved back from Australia even the teachers who did not know believed me, I had done my research, that all came crashing down one night when my mother and father came home from the PTA., one of the teachers had asked my father what is was like being back in the home country again. Their reaction was how could you have done this to us we were so embarrassed. Of course the other kids heard and I was kicked round the playground several times and ostracised for the most part till I left for secondary school 2 years later.

    I never talked about any of this to my parents and true to my vow would never show them how I was feeling. Big school, as my kids used to call it, was not so bad hardly any from my old school were there so I could kinda start all over again and in truth began to live a more normal life involved with the school orchestra sports and playing rugby but I was still unable to trust anyone for long and would back away from any attempt from other kids to make friends.

    My father had insisted that I continue to ware short trousers which in Liverpool in 1966 was like wearing a badge that said "bullies please beat up on me" so they did until one day I lashed out and the broke nose of a 3rd year kid. Things got a bit better after that and the little group of us still wearing the short trousers banded together like scared rabbits thinking safety in numbers. I was their hero so in some ways I had at least found a place for myself, to feel needed for who I was not the construct that I created to make others like me. For the first time in my life I began to make friends.

    One night in late summer a few days before the end of the summer holidays and the start of my second year in secondary school my mother came to me and told me that something had come up and we were going to Bristol the very next morning, early, for a few days so she could help my aunt, her sister, who was going into to hospital to have a baby.

    That night I left my entire childhood behind all the things that I had collected my toys my teddiebears boxes of rocks the whole nine yards, because we never went back. I had no chance to say goodbye to the tentative new friends I had made. My mother had left my father for good. Once again he had strayed and left another family behind for a new woman.

    I was put into another school in Bristol and hated it right from the get go as much as they hated me just for having a scouse accent and being different, again I got into fights but this time I realized that I could take on the biggest kid I could find and they left me alone after that. The only way I could cope was by changing my accent and the cycle of lies started all over again as I desperately tried to become something I though would be liked.

    13 of us living in a tiny council house did nothing to improve the mad world I had created for myself; I began to hate everybody in my world and me as well. The only thing that made sense was playing rugby on a Saturday Morning where I could kick the shit out of people and get away with it; I was angry hurting and lonely and still only 13 years old.

    It was only a matter of time before I imploded as I was I see now close to a total breakdown.

    Then one night at a local youth club this guy came in with some little black capsules and gave us some each, they were black bombers duraphet, my 1st drugs. My world changed right there I felt whole for the 1st time in my life like nothing or no one could ever hurt me again I was invincible. The addict in me was released that night and held sway over everything I did for the next two and a half decades.

    I ain't going to bore you with the tale of using we all been there in our own way. Suffice to say it took only a couple of years for me to leave home and that after two marriages having had 3 of my kids taken by the welfare both my parents passing away the best part of 5 years in jail and countless thousands of dollars worth of drugs later over the next 25 years nothing had changed, I was still 13 angry hurting and lonely. The only difference was that now I was 37 years old had all but lost my second marriage and another 3 kids and was on my knees physically mentally and spiritually and convinced that I was quite insane.

    I had been to my doctor and told her that I had a big problem with compulsive lying and could not control it, I am thankful to this day that she did not believe me and so started my journey into recovery.

    After 9 months I ended up in Clouds House in Wiltshire on the 19th of October 1992 doing primary treatment 6 week 5 step confrontational group therapy, nowhere to hide nowhere to run, the place is in the middle of nowhere. I was desperate broken and in all the ways that mattered quite dead. I found a power greater than me as I sat on the balcony one night looking up at the stars after 2 weeks, that one thing saved my life more that anything else and I surrendered to this program with all of my heart and with all the willingness I could find.

    After another 5 months in a secondary unit in Weymouth I went back to my home town, where my kids were. I had committed myself to treatment of some kind for the next year at least so did after care at another Centre nearer to home tapering from once a week to once a month over the next 6 months then Cognitive Analysis Treatment (CAT Therapy) But underneath all that I had been introduced to NA at the Primary unit after about 4 weeks.

    I remember my 1st meeting like it was yesterday in Salisbury on a Wednesday night in November of 1992 and like my 1st use of drugs my world changed right there and then almost the total reverse of that first nadir moment all those years ago. I suddenly felt as if all those feelings of desperation and loneliness had been lifted from me and at last I was among folk who not only welcomed me without prejudice but wanted nothing more from me than to keep coming back, they promised that If I did that then I need never use or feel lonely again and they were right I have never used since.

    Coming home to Taunton in Somerset was hard surrounded as I was by the memories and people of my last days as a using addict. I knew that the only way I was going to survive in a town with no NA was to start a meeting which I did. The 1st meeting we ever had was under a tree in a local graveyard because the venue we had arranged had changed their minds at the last minute, but somehow we managed with the help of HP to get another one for the next week. The one other newcomer who had turned up for the 1st couple of meetings sadly went back out there and we never saw him again so that left just me.

    I sat in that meeting week after week month after month reading the BT and HWW books and got to know them real well, I believe that that was my HP's way of helping me stay clean. Newcomers came and went and sometimes we would get visitors from different towns. I managed to get to the ASC in Bristol on occasion as a GSR, funds permitting, and bought lit and connected with other addicts. It was at least 2 years before the meeting had regular attendance and at last was able to form a proper committee. We did get one guy at the meeting one night from New York who was on his honeymoon who shared for us about his recovery he was like 8/10 years clean I cant remember I know we were in awe as to how someone could be that long clean, but he was so grateful that we were there. I got a letter from him about a year latter saying the same thing and that he was wont to remind folk if they got antsy about service commitment about the two English guys sat in an as he called it a one bar electric fire meeting just waiting for folk to turn up. I would love to connect with him again one day if he is still around he must be about 27/30 years clean by now?

    I was voted in as an ASR alt and attended region for about a year before a massive heart attack kinda stopped me in my tracks. I have dealt with deep clinical depression Chronic fatigue syndrome Hep C and lots more of life on life's terms in recovery, went back for a weeks residential renewal program at a primary centre and done Psychodrama Therapy, Trained as a therapeutic counsellor (anyone who has done that knows what's involved in terms of personal work and yet more personal therapy) for 5 years.

    Underneath all that were meetings, I kept coming back., hundreds of meetings, NA & AA I even did a stint at the local AA as a meeting chair and GSR at the local intergroup. I got myself a sponsor the 1st was an old AA of 27 years who sadly passed, clean and sober. My next sponsor broke my heart he totally blew my anonymity and caused me to lose a job I had as a volunteer in a local drug service agency by talking out of school about stuff in a step 5, it has taken a long time for me to trust someone to do that again. But I have found someone recently who has shown me that I can trust the process again and am working the steps again from the start with him.

    The rest you know I now live in the Outer Hebrides and am starting the process all over again of starting a new meeting in a new area my life has changed so much in the last 17 years. I came in as very scared 13 year old with no hope and no future and have grown with the help of this program into a man who can face life on life's terms. I have no problem with voicing my gratitude to all those that came before me that have made that possible My HP has seen fit to reunite me with my family, despite the problems we have had to face of late my partner and I are both in recovery again I have a relationship with all 6 of my kids have nearly 4 grandchildren and in the heart of me am happy beyond the imaginings of that lost and lonely 13 year old.

    I still fuck up and still take the wheel to often maybe but feel safe in the knowledge that as long as I don't pick up there is no problem I cant face with the tools that NA & this program has blessed me with and my undying faith in the my power greater than me that I chose to call HP.

    Yours in Loving Fellowship

    Steve (Chia Jen)


    Send Steve A. email!

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  • Hey Wonderful Person, be Happy Joyous and Free.
    If you are an addict ?
    You Don't need (have) to S M O K E anything , EAT healthy ,
    Don't DRINK any Methadone , Moonshine
    or SWALLOW any PROZAC, Zoloft, Paxil, Effexor, (ANTI-depressant) tablets , SSRI (Selective Serrotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), Luvox (OCD),
    HUFF Anything, Take X
    or use any of the new drugs that are being invented everyday,( Anti-Anxiety Drugs, Anti-Psychotic Drugs, Anti-depressant Drugs, Mood Stabilizing Drugs).
    The PDR keeps getting fatter each year,
    the answer is
    Spiritual not Chemical

    TRY GOD (SPIRIT) instead
    stay clean and find a new way to live ,
    there is hope for any addict.
    You are no different,
    we can survive our emotions clean together and grow. TRY clean first.
    The chances are you are the problem and and total abstinence is the cure. Changes will happen overnight.
    Once you are clean and you still can't face life without drugs, then any psychiatrist can load you up
    with the latest chemical and the viscious cycle will progress to misery,
    degradation, dereliction, jails , institutions and death.
    If you keep doing what you are doing, you'll keep getting what you are getting.

    Help is a call away.(202) 299-4919 .

    The Last time miracle growth occured on any of these pages was around 12.28.2009
    Have a great Day!

    And remember God (SPIRIT) Loves You

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