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INTRODUCTION

I believe that I had to take every drink I took and that I had to do every drug I did

in order to get where I am now. I don’t remember aspiring to be a homeless, drunken,

junkie living in the streets and eating out of garbage cans, but that is exactly what I

became. I know in the depths of my heart it was only an act of Providence that I am sober

and alive today.

In these better, clear –headed, productive –members-of -society days, I am

tempted to leave this sordid little chapter of my life buried in the past like a cellar door

never to be opened again. But it is mine and is as much of me as my skin. I own it and

forgetting where I come from brings me that much closer to going back.

This is my experience of the sixteen months of dark, grey days when I was a

homeless, drunk, and junkie addicted to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol and living in the

streets, and continuing on to the day I had a sudden moment of clarity and realized I

needed help, coupled with the long, hard road of recovery. Writing these chapters has

given me a sense of gratitude for the abundant gifts I have received. I cannot take these

gifts for granted.

I had a plan, I would sell my house in North Carolina and take all the money and

go to New York City and drink and drug myself to death. I really wanted to die. My

drinking had already caused me to lose my wife; I had three drunken driving offenses; I

was on the verge of bankruptcy; the phone and electric was cut off, and what little friends

I had at the time did not want to be around me anymore.

I figured I had nothing to live for, so I set out to slowly and painfully kill myself.
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You see, I was the kind of asshole drunk who would go to your house, smoke all your

weed, drink all your booze, snort all your coke, and hit on your girlfriend or wife right in

front of you. When you threw me out, I would call you the asshole and try to figure out

what the fuck your problem was. It was always someone else. I was never the one that

was responsible for what happened to me.

Well the plan foiled because when the smoke cleared, the St. Marks Hotel

management wanted me out, the hooker was gone, and after all the money was gone, I

was still alive. Addicted and disappointed, I was still alive. That is what led me to living

in the streets.

THE SIDEWALK

Do you know what the last stop before the grave looks like? It looks like a cold,

grey, cracked and stained patch of concrete in a part of town where the world’s greatest

city begins to take a turn for the worse. Everyone can imagine that survival in the streets

can be tough, but can you also believe that it has its perks? There is something to be said

about having the freedom and carefree life. Not having to go to work, pay bills, shave,

shower, or answer to anyone except the occasional police officer was sort of comforting

in a way. I used to laugh at the people in the morning as they walked by in their crisp

blue suits and their polished black shoes. I often thought I was better off than they were. I

was free to do whatever the heck I wanted. I could piss where I wanted, eat where I

wanted, and steal when I needed money. If I were hungry, I would either steal some food

from the local Store 24, or I would go to the park at Union Square in the afternoon and

watch people eat their lunch. When they threw away what they could not eat, I would go

right in after it and have myself a little lunch. The city was mine.
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I would collect cans for 5 cents apiece, find things in the garbage and sell them on

Second Avenue, sell fake drugs for real ones, or steal books from the local bookstore and

sell them to the street vendors. Whatever it took to survive on the street and to feed my

addiction, I did.

I found many places to sleep on the streets, but the one I liked most was on

Ninth Street. It wasn’t much of a place; but nevertheless, I grew to like it. On the block

that ran between 2nd and 3rdAvenue, one block from St. Marks Place, was a marble stoop

that was part of an impressive marble building. In the corner where they met, I would

sleep. In spite of the fact that it stunk like piss and was covered with graffiti, I found

shelter. It was quiet and off the main avenue. I stored my few possessions in the small

cubbyhole next to the steps.

At night I stood on the corner and sold fake drugs to make money to buy real

drugs. I would scheme up all kinds of ways to make money to support my addiction. I

was a thief and a self-centered lying junkie who didn’t give a shit about you or your

feelings as long as I got high. This was my life; this is how I made a living. I made

money, and spent money, and I never went to bed with any of it. I made sure I pissed

away every last cent on either booze or drugs, or both. Then late at night I went to the

bushes where I kept my bedding in an old, torn, plastic bag. I rolled it out and slept in the

corner. I laid my head down falling asleep to the busy sounds of a prosperous city. The

smell of piss in the corner and the graffiti on the walls is where I called home.

I was meticulous about the way I laid my bedding out even when I was high.

First, I would lay out either some cardboard or newspaper on the cold concrete. Then I

would lie down a sheets or blankets that I scavenged earlier in the street or in the garbage.
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Most of my clothing came from the streets as well. When I found something that fit me, I

usually changed right on the spot. I rolled up my coat and used it as a pillow.

When it rained, I found some plastic or cardboard and slept under it, or I used

broken umbrellas to fashion a makeshift tent. I remember listening to the rain fall on the

plastic and hit the sidewalk. I thought I was better than other homeless people because I

had a place out of the bad weather. I sat alone in my thoughts: childhood, summer rain,

camping by the lake with my friends in a pup tent. That’s when I got sad.

In the summer, on sticky August nights, I perched myself on top of the bedding

and made small talk to the people that were leaving the Japanese restaurant across the

street. I said “hi” just like any suburban neighbor. I’d get anything from frozen stares to

lengthy conversations. Some people would return my greetings, some would leave me

their doggy bags of hot delicious food, but most would just try to look right through me

as if I didn’t exist. Eventually, sitting watching the streets slow down, I’d fall asleep.

Winter was the toughest season. The wind whipped down the avenues so cold and

bitter it was like tiny needles blasting me in the face. The cold weather was sometimes

unbearable. My feet and face were freezing; I couldn’t get dry or warm. Sometimes I had

to seek shelter inside for one or two nights. I would walk into the twenty-four hour

supermarkets, sneak in the back storage room and find a secluded area to sleep and hide

from the cold weather. Usually I found a pallet of cereal, and I would break a case and

eat. There was always dry food in the back room of the supermarket, and I never went

hungry. I kept this my secret and didn’t tell a soul about this because it was such a good

place, I didn’t want to blow it. I returned to my favorite corner when I could. I am not

sure if it was a territorial thing or just the fact that I felt a little safe there, but I grew to
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like the corner I slept in. I felt like I made my claim in a city where everyone is out for

themselves. It was my fucking spot, and no one else can have it.

Most mornings I woke to the sounds of a taxi blowing his annoying horn or to the

footsteps of people walking by, as they hurried to wherever they were going. Sometimes

people would be nice enough to leave me a donut or a muffin and a hot coffee, but most

of the time, there was only me. I was out of luck, out of my mind, out of work, out of a

place to stay. This is a cold stark reality that was altogether too much for me to handle.

Ten long years after the fact, after I was sober for some time, I went back to the

same hard corner where I used to sleep on the pavement. I don’t think the city has

changed all that much, but I know I have. My favorite corner was still there, but I don’t

miss it one bit. I don’t miss the icy coldness of the city, the reek of piss on the graffiti-

covered walls, the stark grayness of the life on the sidewalk.

Addiction is a killer. Wow, where the fuck was I going? That’s what I asked

myself back then. Most of the time, I spent my days scheming up ways to get money, to

get high, to get more money, and to get more high. Living in the streets of New York was

no easy task; ultimately it will eat you alive. I was either going to get out or die. I thank

God I got out.

A LIFE BETTER THAN THIS

I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was a cold, rainy, bitter Thanksgiving Day

in November of 1995. By this time my drinking was so out of control, the bottle had left

me a homeless drunk in the streets of New York City. I also developed an insatiable

appetite for heroin and cocaine. This was a crazy, fucked up time for me. This particular
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day was significant because it was the day I realized I had a serious problem, and I really

needed to do something about it.

My alcoholism led me to living in the streets, eating out of garbage cans, and

stealing my way through every day to get enough money to feed my addiction. Although

I felt horribly sick, I still remember two things: I can have a life better than this. God has

to have a better plan for me. For this I was certain because I was not dead.

I was so fucking sick that day from the cold and the lack of heroin that I couldn’t

even make it to the homeless shelter on 3rd Avenue to get a free Thanksgiving dinner. I

wanted to call my mom, but I couldn’t remember her phone number. I tried information,

but I came up short again. I called my sister Joan and asked her for my mother’s phone

number. Reluctantly, she gave it to me.

On December 2nd I woke up on Ninth Street, where I usually slept. I was really

tired. I don’t know what came over me that morning, but I said a prayer. I said, “God I

don’t want to live like this any more, please help me” I got up and walked to St. Marks

Place, one block away. I walked about half way down the block. I could see people in the

basement of a building. I decided to go in. I really thought I could steal someone’s leather

coat or a purse. There was some potential to make some money there. Little did I know,

but I stumbled into a newcomer’s meeting of a twelve step program. This was to be the

turning point in my life.

I once heard someone say “tell the truth even if your top lip is quivering.” Well,

I called my mom that day. I am not really sure what came over me, but I decided to be

completely honest with her. I told her that I lost everything through my abuse of drugs

and alcohol, including: my wife, my house, all my belongings, and my will to live. Do
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you know what it’s like to want to be dead, but disappointed because you’re not? That’s

how I felt.

I would drink and drug myself to oblivion every night, and when I woke in the

morning, I was disappointed because I was still alive. I sincerely needed help and I asked

her for it. My mom was a recovering alcoholic herself; she too had once hit bottom and

offered her love and support. She called the Grand Central Station in New York and

made arrangements with the ticket agency for me to get on the train and come home to

Rhode Island.

My first day of sobriety began on December 4th 1995; I came back to Rhode

Island. I detoxed on my mother’s couch in her one bedroom apartment. I was really sick

from the lack of drugs and alcohol that my body was craving. I couldn’t eat solid food, I

stunk, I was a skeleton being held up by my reeking skin, and moreover, I wanted to die.

I knew if I had one more drink, or one more shot of heroin I would be ok. Part of me

wanted to run; however, part of me knew I had to stay. All I could do was to lie on the

couch and drink warm tea and soup and hope that it would stay down. I had the shakes

and the cold sweats. I was a real fucking mess.

All this time I was thinking maybe I should just leave. Maybe I should steal my

mom’s stereo, her TV, and her money while she sleeps. I could go back to the city where

I belonged, knowing I would die a junkie in the streets. Instead I prayed with my heart of

hearts that I get through this and, eventually things would get better. A few days had

passed, and mom told me that I was going to have to find a place to go. She gave me one

week to get myself into a program, or I would have to leave.


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During the day I would call half-way houses and tell them my situation, in hopes

they would have a bed for me. Beds fill up quickly in the half-way houses in the winter.

As soon as the cold weather starts to come around, people don’t want to be living in the

streets. I did call this one place in Pawtucket and spoke to a man named Mo. He told me

he was full and probably wouldn’t have a bed available till February.

I was getting discouraged; I knew my time was limited, and my mom wanted me

out. I was also starting to feel a little better. By this time I really set my mind on getting

clean and sober. I would sleep a little now, and I was starting to get my appetite back. My

family started coming around asking questions. I was a little hesitant at first, but I told

them the truth. I felt ashamed. Ashamed for what I had done to myself, ashamed of what I

had done to them. I let myself and them down.

The next day, I ‘m not sure what came over me, but I picked up the phone, and I

called the house in Pawtucket again. I spoke to Mo. Desperately I reiterated the fact that I

really needed help and a sober place to stay. I know now that the grace of God entered

my life, as he told me that he had a bed available for me. I could move in the next day.

My prayers were being answered right in front of me.

I moved into the halfway house December 8, 1995. I carried with me all my

worldly possessions that fit into a garbage bag. I was on the road to recovery. I was told

that I had to go to recovery meetings, I had to find work after one month, and I would see

a counselor once a week. One of the first questions I was asked was “Are you willing to

go to any lengths to stay sober?” At this point in my life, I was.

Slowly, one day at a time, my life was starting to get better. I was told to take a

year and really get to know Jamie, build a spiritual foundation with a higher power, stay
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sober, and I would have a life beyond my wildest dreams. I continue to pray daily, and I

go to meetings and my life continues to get better. They didn’t lie to me.

LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN

Did you ever have the feeling that you were falling apart at the seams and the glue

that was holding you together was slowly giving up on you? I felt like my life was over.

Like I had really lived life to the fullest potential, and I really should be dead now. I was

in a lot of pain mentally, coupled with confusion, and indifference. Life was flying by at

an incredible rate of speed. The last thing I really remember is that I was drinking and

shooting dope in the streets of New York City, and now I am in a halfway house in

Pawtucket, Rhode Island. All I wanted to do was crawl up in a little ball in a dark corner

and let the world pass me by. I knew that I needed recovery but I didn’t want to go

through the pain. I just wanted to go to sleep and wake up with five years of sobriety.

My journey into sobriety was not easy in the beginning. I have multiple addictive

behaviors and when I put the booze and drugs down the behaviors were still there. I

would try anything to fill the void that alcohol once filled. Almost right away, while

living in the halfway house, I started running. I started off jogging around the block, and

it continued to grow as time went on. I was also still smoking cigarettes at the time. I

would smoke, and run, and then smoke some more. Eventually smoking took precedence,

and I gave up the running for a while. I tried every quick – fix scheme I could to avoid

the feelings. I tried smoking, working, masturbating, running, reading, writing, drinking

coffee, eating and shopping: whatever I could to fill the void and replace the feelings I

got from drinking and drugs. I also tried dating as a way to fix my malady. I was told by

someone early in recovery not to make any major changes in the first year, and by all
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means, do not get involved in a relationship. But I tried. I asked out a lot of women in

A.A., and not to my surprise, I got a lot of rejection, not because I’m a bad looking guy,

but because I had “desperate newcomer” written all over my face.

I remember going to my first meeting on a Thursday night in Pawtucket, Rhode

Island. I walked into the meeting a little early. I met this woman there who was setting up

the hall and making coffee. I proudly made stride toward her and announced “my name

was Jamie and I’m new and I need a sponsor, as well as, I need to join a group.” she

firmly shook my hand and introduced herself to me and in my mind I was thinking: She

wants me. I know we were going places too I have three days of sobriety, and I lived in a

half way house. All my clothing fit into a small garbage bag; I was a whirlwind of

dysfunction, consumed by fear and driven by my penis.

I had a counselor in the halfway house, and he gave me some firm directions

about sobriety and what I should do if I wanted any chance of making it. First he told me

to Pray. Now I am not a religious person and the experiences I have had with God has not

always good, but the counselor gave me a prayer to read. He told me I should read the

Third Step Prayer on page sixty-three of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous which

reads:

God, I offer myself to Thee, to build with me and to do

with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self,

that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties,

that victory over them may bear witness to those I would

help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I

do Thy will always.


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In my desperation, I was willing to try anything to stay sober. I thought to

myself: what do I have to lose? Look at where I am. I have nothing and the only place I

can go from here is up. So I will give this prayer a shot. I lived in a room with four other

men in the halfway house. I got up in the morning and made my bed, and got on my

knees and started reading the prayer on page sixty-three. Every once in a while I would

look up, as not to be caught, or be seen on my knees praying by one of the guys that I

shared the room with.

Then one day it occurred to me, I shouldn’t be afraid to be caught praying. I

shouldn’t be afraid to be caught doing anything that was going to help me stay sober. I

thought this is fucking stupid. I wasn’t afraid to live in the streets, or to eat out of a

garbage can. I wasn’t afraid to go to your house , drink all your booze, snort all your

coke, smoke all your pot, hit on your girlfriend or wife right in front of you, and make a

complete asshole out of myself, but here I am, afraid to be caught praying for some

forgiveness and sobriety for one day.

The next piece of advice the counselor gave me was to take my first year and stay

out of relationships. He told me that I should take that time to develop a foundation in

A.A and with that; I will develop a stronger bond with a power greater than myself. And

with that combination, I will also come to know Jamie. This was very important because

I didn’t know who I was. For years I ran away from all my problems; I stuffed feelings; I

drank or drugged them away. I was a fucking zombie, a walking shell of what used to be

a human being, but no more.

Urgently wanting to stay sober, I clung to every piece of advice that was passed

on to me from my counselor, and from members in A.A that helped me develop and grow
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one day at a time. I was told to get a sponsor and to use him. In my opinion, a sponsor is

a person with more sobriety than I, who can walk me through the twelve steps of A.A, a

person that has some experience in the halls, and someone that will guide me through the

journey of recovery. A sponsor is not a marriage counselor, or a taxi driver, or loan

officer. I called my sponsor every day for the first year. I needed help developing friends

too. I mean real friendships with men that really care about what is going on in my life,

not the bar room friends that needed to borrow money for some coke or another drink,

friends that were genuinely concerned for me. My whole first year of sobriety was a

complete developing phase. There was plenty wrong with me, and I needed to be

completely re-wired and re- programmed. The early stages of sobriety were so important.

I needed a solid foundation in A.A meetings, with a higher power, with a sponsor and I

needed to develop and practice working on the core of this foundation daily.

Eventually, after three months, I moved out of the halfway house. I got a small one

bedroom apartment by myself in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It wasn’t much of a place, but it was

right on the bus line and I could get to work daily. I got a job in downtown Providence as a

Waiter in a popular seafood restaurant named Hemenway’s. When I started, I could only work

the day shift, but I eventually moved into nights. When I was drinking, I really screwed up my

driving privileges, and I could not get my driving license back for another three years. I had three

drunken driving offenses in the state of North Carolina. I saved up enough money to pay off the

fines, but they still wanted me off the road, for what turned out, to be five years total. I worked

hard and also saved enough money to buy a bicycle, and I rode to meetings in the morning, and I

would ride it to work in the late afternoon. The first three years of recovery I rode my bike

everywhere. I rode to meetings in the pouring rain, the freezing snow, and the extremely hot and
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humid days that New England can produce in the mid- August days of summer. A.A meeting and

recovery was freely being given in the halls. I figured if the group was giving free booze away

there, I would ride my bike there. Although there were plenty of opportunities to drive without a

license, I refused to drive.

I know that I needed to change my lifestyle and my thinking, so I continued with

counseling after I got out of the halfway house. I had plenty of demons that were locked up in the

deep, caverns of my soul. Some I swore I would take to the grave with me. I knew I had to at

least attempt to release them, and I did this through outside counseling. I continued with

counseling up to my second year of sobriety. During the early days of my sobriety, I would go to

at least one meeting a day. On Saturday and Sunday, I would go to two. I continued the

development of a relationship with my higher power, and I started to get to know me a little

better. I realized that there were a lot of things that I liked about myself. I discovered the joy of

writing, playing music and photography. I moved to a one bedroom apartment in Providence,

and I took up running again. I put down the cigarettes during my second year of sobriety.

Do you know what it’s like to have the feeling of sitting on a fence being pulled from

both sides? That’s how I felt about smoking. I would get up in the morning and run three miles to

a meeting, and then I would smoke cigarettes in the afternoon, or I would ride my bike seventeen

miles down the bike path and when I arrived at the beautiful shores of Bristol, Rhode Island, I

would sit on the water’s edge and smoke cigarettes. Then I would ride another seventeen miles

home. I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to be a cigarette smoker or not, so I quit. I

used the principles of the program of A.A to stop smoking. I would say a prayer in the morning,

asking my higher power to take the desire away for a cigarette, just for today, and I took it one

day at a time, and I have been smoke free for ten years.
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I use to play drums when I was drinking, and I decided to take it up as a hobby again

sober. I saved up some money and bought a small drum set from a local music store. I found a

small rehearsal studio and practiced a few nights a week with a couple of other musicians. We

recorded some music at a local recording studio and were playing live in the local clubs. I love

the feeling I get being on stage playing our own music, completely sober. I know the club scene

is not a good place for someone new in recovery, but I prayed and meditated before going on

stage and when I was done, I broke down my drums, and I left as soon as possible. I knew where

this took me if I decided I can hang around in a club. I was there for a reason: to play music. And

when I was done playing, I would leave.

Eventually, I started running again; I was eating healthier, and taking care of both

by mind, body and spirit. I ran thirteen road races that year, mostly five kilometer and

five mile races, but it was fun. I started running with my sister, and we spent a lot of time

together developing a friendship that is stronger than I could have ever imagined.

I started dating women around the end of my second year. I knew Lynne from my

step group. I always had a desire to get to know her better. She is a beautiful artist and a

very creative person. My past experience with relationships didn’t consist of courtship

developing into friendship, and advancing further into a healthy conjunction. My

experience with relationships seems to follow the path of: Hi, how ya doing? Let’s screw

and then we’ll sort it all out later, when I am sober or a little more coherent.

Lynne and I hung out together, we talked on the phone for hours, we went to

places together, had dinner together and took time to develop a friendship. Then as time

went on, we decided to rent a house together, and after a while, we bought a house and

got a dog and after we were together, dating and developing a relationship we decided to
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get married. Two years after we started dating, on June 10, 2000, the sixty-fifth

anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous, we had a sober wedding. We got married in the

church we met in and we invited sober friends and family. It was a beautiful day. I have

never experienced love the way I love my wife. Lynne is my soul mate, my companion,

my best friend, and I love her with all my heart. She truly is a gift from God, and I thank

him for putting her in my life everyday.

On the third year of sobriety, I got an opportunity to get my driver’s license back.

In order to do so, I had to go back to the state of North Carolina to appear in front of a

judge. I have had to jump some pretty high hurdles in sobriety, but this one was difficult.

I had to have five people I know, call the judge and do phone interviews with her. Then, I

had to bring a character witness with me to the courthouse in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lynne drove me from Providence, Rhode Island to Raleigh, North Carolina, so I could

appear in front of a judge at a hearing to hopefully get my driving privileges back. She

drove all night, and we went before the magistrate in the morning. Lynne did a private

interview with the judge, and then I went into the room for some questioning, and

eventually she granted me the privilege to get a license again. I know it was all because

of sobriety and A.A. I had three years sobriety, I was in a stable home environment, I was

in a stable relationship, I had steady work and income, I was attending meetings

regularly, I had a sponsor and a group, and I showed up. When we were done, Lynne

drove me all the way home.

I cannot put a price tag on the amount of gifts I have received in sobriety. I owe

everything I have to the program of A.A and my higher power. I have endured some

joyous times in recovery, and I have struggled through some hard times too. One of the
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hardest periods of my life was when my mother lost her battle with cancer. I was six

years sober, and I never expected to have to experience the loss of my mother. I always

thought, in my mind, that I would go before she would.

My mother was a symbol of strength and an inspiration to my recovery. She got

sober in June, 1973. I got off the streets, I detoxed from heroin and alcohol on her couch.

I was in a lot of pain when she was dying. I went to a lot of meetings, and I was in

constant contact with my sponsor. I went to meetings and cried. I talked about my

feelings, and I got through her passing without having to pick up a drink. People in A.A

supported me, and called me, and comforted me along the way. The people in the halls of

A.A in Rhode Island held me up when I thought I was going to fall. They were the

foundation that supported me when I was too weak to stand alone, and I will always be

grateful for their support during that difficult time.

Shortly thereafter, I felt the crushing blow of a paralyzing depression. My family

life was good, I had a great job as a sales person for a foodservice company, Lynne and I

were enjoying all the wonderful gifts of sobriety, and I felt like I had been hit in the back

of the head with a baseball bat. I suddenly lost interest in all the things I enjoyed. I lost

interest in playing music, running, bike riding, and meetings. I was put on some

medication, and I started seeing a counselor again. I am not sure what brought on the

depression, but I know I didn’t like being in that state of mind and body. I forced myself

to go to meetings, and I stayed in close contact with my sponsor and my wife. Eventually,

after a year, I began to feel better, and I came off the medication and started to feel better

about myself.
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One positive piece that came out of my depression was when I was seeing the

counselor he encouraged me to go to school. He told me to go and sign up for one class

just to see if it was for me. I had to have the experience. I let fear drive me and make my

decisions for a long time, and I knew I had to step up to the plate and take a swing. I

would tell myself that I was too old, or I don’t know what to go to school for, and that I

was not good enough. Fear held me back for far too long. I was a good student when I

was in high school when I applied myself, but I usually let drinking, drugs and women

get in the way. I never finished school, and when I was eighteen years old, I received my

GED.

I went to a local community college, and I signed up for a composition class. I

thought I had nothing to lose. I spent more money on worse things in a shorter period of

time. I feel that the divine spirit was looking out for me during this whole process

because I got in this class with an instructor who was so passionate about writing. He was

an adjunct faculty member that came out of retirement to teach one class, for one

semester. He told me to write about life experiences, and I did. I had plenty to write

about, and I was completely honest about my history. Mr. Anderson taught me to

embrace my writing, and he encouraged me to write more. But the most important thing I

took away from my experience with Mr. Anderson was that I liked school. I decided to

take more classes the next semester.

College life has lifted my spirits and made me realize that I can accomplish goals.

I have had some setbacks, but I refuse to give up. I want a degree, and I know, one day, I

will have one. I have to ask for help, not only from my higher power, but from my

instructors. I get up in every morning and take my humble forty-four year old self to
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school to be educated. I develop relationships with my instructors that respect me and

help me grow academically. I have rekindled the flames of some smoldering ashes that I

thought were extinguished long ago and developed a passion for writing and

photography. I am grateful for the ability to express myself with these artistic values, and

I plan to continue my education in that direction.

One of the barstool dreams I had was to someday own a nice motorcycle and

travel to different areas on my bike. Today that is not a barstool dream, it is a reality. I

bought a motorcycle in 2003, and I hooked up with a few other sober people, and we ride.

The relationships that have developed during the past few years with these people are

beyond words. We ride all over the New England and beyond. We traveled to New

Hampshire last summer and stayed in a cabin. In the mornings after breakfast, we had

incredible A.A meetings that were filled with compassion and honesty. We have had

meetings by the campfire from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania to the White

Mountains of New Hampshire.

The people I ride with help me to stay out of my head, they help me to ask for

help, and they help me to be responsible. It is a very special group of men and women

that I am proud to know, and I am proud to continue to develop a relationship with. I

know that this bond is conceived by my higher power because I could never plan

camaraderie like this. I have had the opportunity to travel to various destinations, both

with the group I ride with, and with Lynne. Recently we visited the Grand Canyon, and I

got a chance to shoot some great photography, but the magnitude of that place is beyond

what any picture can capture. Words and photographs cannot describe the unbelievable
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beauty and opulence of this majestic place. I hope someday to enjoy another trip there

and spend more time.

I know deep in the depths of my heart that the wonderful gifts, and abundance of

life, are all a direct correlation to my sobriety and my higher power. I would be nowhere,

and have nothing without sobriety and God. If all I did when I first got sober was put

down the drink and go to meetings, automatically my life got better. But when I mix all

the ingredients of the twelve steps, a relationship with a higher power, developing a bond

with a sponsor and a group, and going to A.A meetings together, one day at a time, I

continue to grow and receive amazing gifts of recovery that is completely beyond all my

expectations. Fourteen years into my recovery, I am still completely awestruck by the

unmerited gifts I continue to receive daily, due to the program of Alcoholic Anonymous.