Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A cry for help

You may recall that I have blogged about my extreme dislike for the entire state of Florida. (Sorry about that for any blog devotees from Florida. You can invite me and perhaps I will come visit you sometime (at your expense).

In Hawthorne, Florida, there is a North Carolina woman who desperately needs a Twelfth-Step call. She approached a deputy sheriff at a convenience store yesterday complaining that the crack she had recently purchased was below her usual high standards. Apparently crack in North Carolina is much stronger than the crack sold in Florida. The deputy promptly arrested her but she did have the money to post bond, so you might look for her in the local crack-selling area near Hawthorne. She's probably the one wearing a thong, few teeth and bearing North Carolina plates on her hoopty mobile.

And speaking of Twelfth-Step calls, last night my girlfriend and I picked up a newcomer and took her to a meeting. I took over our area's phoneline at the last meeting because calls weren't being returned. It wasn't anywhere in my imagination to undertake this service; I removed myself from general service six years ago (for the second time) for a variety of reasons I may one day blog about.

But I was having some major heartburn about the phoneline, which is an important tool in our program of attraction. So if I'm going to complain about things, at this stage in my recovery I'm usually willing to do more than complain. So I'm helping out by putting together a list for people who'll return calls, check the messages and do Twelve-Step calls.

Anyhoo, she called our area's helpline (she had called "a lot of times" with no return phone call -- doesn't that hurt your heart?) and wanted to go to a meeting, but didn't want to go alone. I could tell she was a bit intimidated by the whole idea of arriving at a meeting alone ("Will you be there?" she asked timidly.) I asked her if she wanted us to go together and she quickly agreed.

I called one of my other friends and asked if she would go with me. I learned the hard way (how I usually learn things), to never make Twelve-Step calls alone. So off we went last night to pick her up, and it's a good thing that I did take my other girlfriend because the first thing she said when she climbed into my vehicle was "My husband was going to go, but he decided he'd stay home and have a beer." You never know what you will run into on a Twelve-Step call, so be sure you work in pairs and others know your whereabouts. Use your cell phone to stay in contact and when you're done with the call, let someone who's aware of where you are know everything is okay. It can truly be a matter of your life or death.

When I had seven years clean, I stopped by my connection's house to leave NA literature and a meeting list for him with his mother. I did this almost every year after I got clean, because we'd been really close friends before he was my connection. Whenever I dropped by he was always in prison or not home, but I would buy tamales from his mom and talk to her in my broken Spanglish.

This particular year, I knocked on the door and no one answered. So I left the literature in the door and started to walk back to my car. Just then, a hooty pulled up and in it was my connection and three other men who were so scary looking that I immediately felt that terrible feeling in my gut, you know, the one that tells you that you may be in deep doo?

My connection was wearing a beeper (that dates this, doesn't it) and his arms were covered with tracks. (When he was my connection, he didn't use heroin, just "recreational drugs.") It was clear that he was really strung out.

"Hey, what's up?" he asked and gave me a big hug. "Where you been?" (I hadn't seen him since I got clean.)

"Well," I said,"I've been clean for seven years."

Opening the door of his house, he said, "Well, come in, you won't be."

I looked at that open door, on into the house where I had gotten loaded so many times, and a million thoughts seemed to go through my head. "No one will know; what if he's HIV-positive?; maybe he has bleach; you can do it one time and quit; you can fix in the back of your arm so no one sees the mark; who are these other men?; he won't let them hurt me; I don't know him anymore"; you know, those insane thoughts that tear through our brain when we try to rationalize our desire to use, or not use.

Then I remembered a line, someone may remember it from our literature, that says basically we will eventually be put face-to-face with this dilemma and at that moment, only God can save us. (I'd love if someone has the quote.)

I started to pray, something like, "God, get me out of this mess!" and said to him, "Hey, I love you but you don't have to live this way anymore. Here's a meeting list. Come to a meeting with me." And I literally ran to get in my vehicle and drive away.

As I bolted down the sidewalk, he stood in front of he house watching me and yelled, "Hey, I'm staying at the Trails End motel; come by, we'll just play pool." Of course, I didn't, although for the first time since I'd gotten clean I wrestled with the desire to use for over a week.

The end to this story is that I went back to my folks' place where I was staying and I immediately got on the phone, calling any addict I knew. I couldn't get hold of any of my friends but I was terrified I'd head back to his house or to the motel looking for him. I immediately began rationalizing how I could go "just shoot pool" with him; I didn't have to use.

Finally, I got hold of Jeff T., who you might say I did not get along with at the time. (He's the one who asked my future husband in my early recovery if he was seeing me. He said "Yes." Jeff T. said, "Wow, you're a better man than me, because when I get around her, my balls shrivel up!" I told Jeff later (from the podium when we were both speaking at an ARCNA convention on "The Triangle of Self-Obsession" that it was a good thing my wasband hadn't told me what he said until a few years later, because I would have made his balls shrivel up!). I have owed Jeff many amends over the years.

Anyway, Jeff answered the phone, I told him the story, he listened without comment (I could tell he was thinking "what an idiot!", I got the whole thing partly out of my system and I learned a valuable lesson. Never go on a Twelve-Step call alone. I also learned this. A member may not particularly like you, but they will always go to about any lengths to help you stay clean. You never, never know who's going to save your butt, so be nice.

Yup, due to this dumb maneuver, I spent a few miserable weeks wanting to use, literally the only time in my 22 years of recovery that I wasn't sure that I could stay clean. I was extremely blessed that I didn't. I had been told not to do Twelve-Step calls alone, but would I listen? No, because in my mind this wasn't an official call, it was just dropping by and "visiting."

Well, I've had a fun trip today down memory lane. Thanks for meandering along with me.


Pam said...

damn...that was like reading a story from my own head. I've been down the same road with the same feelings...thanks for the reminder to everyone, it only took one solo 12 step call for me too.

Anonymous said...

Man, this brings up (and takes me back) to a whole lot of stuff!!
Very important post for all of those who work their 12 step.
Yes, that DID make my heart hurt. And I got a sneaking suspicion it is the NA hotline of which you speak...;)
Thanks for keeping me clean another day.
Peace and gratitude,

Meg Moran said...

yep, I used to think I could carry the messaage alone too..after all, we're talkin "the great NA poobah" well a few close calls and alot of humility later I now know I'm sooo vulnerable. Poobah? Hell, half the time my road is so narrow I just hold hands and walk with a trusted few.

vicariousrising said...

Wow, is that an incredible story. This is my first time stopping by your blog, and boy is this one going to stick with me. Thank you for sharing it -- that is the kind of thing I would try to do to help a friend, and would probably end up in over my head too.