By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Date: Tues. 10 June 2003
I was on foot humping the pavement for a tidbit job to keep me from getting kicked out of the halfway house. Hence I go to score some heroin. I hit this one corner store and there’s this almost homeless-looking character begging for change. I ask for heroin and he says he knows where to get it. But when he comes back to the car he brings a dime of coke. He gets me a needle and I’m behind a dumpster just shaking as I rush. At this point I need some straight pornography, which is a got-to-have for the coke rush, and then the dime runs out ’cause I miss my second shot I was shaking so bad. My first thought was get some more now! And I remembered thinking to myself that the guy at the store had an apartment, a pipe and a good connect. Well lo and behold he was standing right in front of his duplex smiling. I said “get some,” and up to his apartment we went. As soon as we get started I whip out the porno magazine and he says he’s bi and wants to suck me off. Well I can’t get it up on behalf of coke so I was the one doing it, ’cause that’s how it goes with me. A coke rush, some straight porno and I’m a queer until the coke runs out. (Incidentally the guy stated that he had AIDS.) Of course there was no rubber and why do I give a fuck as long as I am rushing so fucking hard I don’t remember who I am?
I finally understood it was time to quit. But the first time I did, with a mere two weeks clean, when I was fragile but desperate to stay strong, my best using buddy since high school, Dee, got out of jail again. We had made one of those pacts about using to the end, and suddenly I was at the end before him. It killed me to reject him to his face, as we’d grown up and experienced a million things together, including living in his car for a period of time. But here I was, not willing to go along for the ride, even though he was on his way to buy dope for us. That was my first experience of saying no, and though I used again, it was a start.
Date: Thurs. 19 June 2003
I thought I knew what pain was like until I met Tara. Tara got me good. I get out of jail last year, fresh from seven months of I ain’t seen no daylight nor had any pussy since the last time a chick with a dick gave me head. What happens is I had been out a month, I meet this chick at a meeting, and shazaamm. This girl was full-throttle balls-to-the-walls, let’s go out tonight, overdose, rob gimps, get so high that I never wanna come down junky love that makes me want to really know why I was ever brought into this motherfucking world. This relapse occurred in one day. Somehow self-destructiveness can happen in minutes.
After five attempts at the 21-day methadone detox — and numerous cold-turkey withdrawals (which I preferred, because I think the suffering dialed directly into my martyr complex) — I realized I didn’t have the ability to stay stopped. I never ever thought I’d be able to stomach attending 12-step meetings, let alone participate in a touchy-feely support group with prayers and handholding and hugs galore. Finally, I had to say out loud that I wouldn’t lose myself in a weird cult, but I had to find a solution to active addiction.
In the fashion of a born-again addict, I went from being noncommittal and suspicious to engaging in total submersion, not only attending meetings daily, but in as many areas and venues as possible: Hollywood churches and park centers, an East L.A. boxing gym, a South-Central recovery center and a clubhouse in the San Fernando Valley. I bonded with a few people, and we were ambitious about having a full recovery program. This did not make the higher-power talk any easier, so I’d just close my eyes when others said the Serenity Prayer. I’d rewritten the steps with a bend that spoke to my head. I created my own visualization exercises. I stayed with it.
Recovery filled my life. I worked the hot line, served as meeting secretary, chairperson, featured speaker. At the peak I sponsored 10 addicts; I was outspoken, young, gay, HIV-positive, and I could speak shamelessly to an audience of 100. It took me a while to realize I was well on my way to becoming my worst nightmare: a self-righteous fanatic. I had to ease back into real life and have faith in my commitment to stay clean.
I tried to find a happy medium: I cut my commitments way down and rediscovered living life, which included nightclubbing, art and sex. I kept my head screwed on around people’s drinking and drugs, and kept going to a few meetings a week.
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