Some stories below from our local fellowship.
My name is Jo and I’m an addict. When I found the rooms of Cocaine Anonymous, I was a broken shell of a person, the living dead you might say and just waiting for actual death to come. It was not where I wanted to end up but boy am I glad to be here now. I have found a life that is peaceful and fulfilling, one where I am glad to be of service to others – my family, my friends, my work, people in C.A and C.A. as a whole.
I turned up into the rooms distrustful of everyone and terrified, but something had happened to me, that I now see as a God given gift, during my last use and I knew I was done. I can only describe it as an internal snap. But my experience showed me that this wouldn’t last, and I would use again. So, there I was in a meeting of Cocaine Anonymous, on a dark, cold, winter night in early December 2016 with this group of people who had a lightness and levityabout them. I spent the whole meeting sitting quietly at the back as close to the door as possible and I don’t remember much about it, what I do remember is a feeling of being accepted. I didn’t know then, that was the start of my journey into recovery. All I knew was I couldn’t go back to using and I would do anything I could to not do it again. So, I followed the suggestions of getting a home group (which was hard – I didn’t like to commit to anything because experience showed me I was unreliable), get a sponsor (which was harder – the fear of rejection was huge. What if I was too broken? What if she laughed at me? The self-centred fear I saw later in the steps my life was driven by), get some service (how dare they?! And how dare they not see my brilliance and assign me tea and coffee duty rather than the prestigious – as I saw it then – chairing of the meeting. And how dare they ask me to do anything to contribute to the fellowship I now know would save my life and the lives of countless others) and work the steps (you mean I couldn’t just wake up one day and the recovery fairy had visited and taken my addiction away?!).
But I had no other choice, and I did what was suggested of me; and in some areas I recovered quickly and in others it was slower.
Once I had been through the steps my sponsor told me the work began, and it was time to start taking other women through the steps. So, again reluctantly, I began to put my hand up in meetings. I had become armed with the facts about myself and so was ready to guide others. But something was missing. I still felt outside of the fellowship. It took a long time for my walls to come down. I remember crying on the phone to my sponsor one day asking her ‘how do you trust people?’.
I was in a meeting one day and I heard something that struck me and has stuck with me for all my years in recovery – ‘stay in the middle of the boat if you don’t want to fall off the sides.’. I asked after the meeting what they meant; it was explained to me to that if I wanted to stay, I should be of service to C.A. I was appalled! Didn’t they see me at the meeting doing service every week? Didn’t they see me sponsoring? This person lovingly explained to me that while that was good the fellowship runs off the voluntary contributions of time and skill by its membership.
I began to go to every committee meeting that I could within our, at the time, District. And in true addict fashion I took service at every committee I attended. I had nothing else to do. I wasn’t working so I got busy in the fellowship. And suddenly I had connection with others, and I had a passion I didn’t know was possible to do whatever I could for C.A.
What serving on committees did for me at the start was to help me practice inventory! I saw that I was still arrogant, controlling, judgemental, as well as a whole heap of other defects that would take too much time to list, and encouraged me to revisit my steps 6 and 7. It taught me about the Traditions, and later the Concepts of World Service. It taught me I saw I had things to offer, and it continued me on the road to self-acceptance and the acceptance of others. I have learned tolerance, compassion, and love for people, especially the people who I disagree with as they help me to see areas I’m blind to and perspectives I have not considered. It gave me courage to speak up and sometimes be the lone voice when I didn’t understand something or to say something contrary to the majority opinion.
Service has taught me about humility. I look back and cringe at how I was when I first took on service commitments, to say I was the bleeding deacon would be an understatement, as well as being very vocal to anyone who would listen about all the things I was doing. Now, while I do just as much as I did back then I don’t need the world to know. The peace, feeling of usefulness and freedom I am granted are gift enough. It has taught me skills I knew nothing of before, from minute taking, agenda setting, public speaking, acting, website maintenance and so much besides.
As much as I love doing committee work and serving the Area I belong to, the bright spot of my life are the women I am blessed to walk alongside. Being still somewhat selfish I find that speaking with them or being in the book with them takes me out of self and consequently closer to the God of my understanding. I am constantly reminded of the illness I suffer with as I get to crack open the book and visit again with Bill W, the man of thirty, Jim, the jaywalker and Fred. I am granted the gift of connection to others and the true meaning of love – the desire to help when they are able to give nothing in return. The biggest gift I get is seeing the light come on in their eyes, their eyes lift from the floor and the ability to look me in the eyes.
I came into Cocaine Anonymous to take what I could, and I stay to give what I have. Today I am a proud, happy member of Cocaine Anonymous and a grateful Trusted Servant. I pray that I continue this way until I die of something other than addiction.
Sam Shoemaker said it best in his poem, I Stand by The Door
‘I stand by the door.
I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
The door is the most important door in the world –
It is the door through which men walk when they find God.
There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
Crave to know where the door is.
And all that so many ever find
Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men,
With outstretched, groping hands,
Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
Yet they never find it.
So I stand by the door.’