Citizens In Recovery

Getting Sober

When I first got sober, I was living in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco, in the Beverly Apartments, up above Homeboy Liquors, on O’Farrell St and Jones. I had a studio apartment with hardwood floors and a view of the alley behind the building. At the time, I thought I was doing alright for myself and it could have been much worse, and that was true…it could have been worse. I was done, though. I had gone as far down as I could go, and I had done everything I could do to try and numb or kill the pain that was inside of me. I had no other choice but to get sober, kill myself or just continue on with the misery I had created for myself, and that was not an option anymore.

One day, I took the bus down to the beach to go surfing. It was a beautiful day and I had just come off a run where I was up for 4 days, having done a bunch of speed while I was out with some people I worked with at Charlie Brown’s Restaurant, on Fisherman’s Wharf. The loneliness and despair I felt inside of me was so evident in my appearance and behavior. I had nothing to do and the only thing that gave me any relief was surfing. I had fun surfing that daybut I didn’t stay out there very long. As I changed out of my wetsuit, I thought I might try and hit someone up for a ride back to “the Loin”. I saw a guy who had just gotten out of the water and asked him if he was going that way, and he said yes.  On the way home, this guy, Kelly, started telling me about his life and what kind of work he did. Then, out of nowhere, he threw it out there that he didn’t drink. I told him how I had been trying to get sober for the last 5 years, on and off. At that very second, I knew that he was put there to save me. I told him that I couldn’t find people that were my age who were sober. Kelly said, “Oh, man, you gotta come to this meeting with me tonight in the Haight! There are so many young people at this meeting, and you would fit right in!” That was a little quick for me to go that night, but I knew deep down that it was the right thing to do. So, I went to the Haight-Waller St meeting, that night, and I found my new home. I met about 15 people that were all around my age, some had 7 or 8 years of sobriety already, and some were new, just like me. We went for coffee after the meeting and I got know some of them a little more, and my journey of recovery was starting to take off. The next weekend I went to Canada to visit my mother, who was graduating from college at the age of 50. She went to treatment, had been sober for a couple of years, and I was so excited to tell her what I was doing and that I had found a meeting in SF. She was going to be so proud of me, I thought to myself.

When I got to Calgary, I was still in a pretty horrible state of mind, feeling extremely depressed about my life and how I was a complete failure. I was really hoping that my mom would impart some of her wisdom about being sober and help me on my new path. When we got to her house she poured a glass of wine for herself and noticed the shock on my face when I saw it. We went into the other room and sat down to talk about it. She explained to me that she was just celebrating her accomplishment and it wouldn’t be a normal thing for her, moving forward, but I was devastated! I saw no point in staying sober for the weekend if she was going to be drinking, and there was a one-gallon jug of Jim Beam in the other room that I noticed, the second we walked in the house. The rest of that trip was pure chaos and drunkenness. I came home defeated, hopeless and hung over. If my mother decided sobriety was not a priority, how could I do it?

Although that weekend sent me spiraling into deeper depression, anxiety and heavier drinking, I remembered that meeting. I went on drinking for another month, and on November 2nd,the Wednesday following Halloween in 1994, I went back to that meeting and I raised my hand as a newcomer. A lot of those same people were there from the first time I went to that meeting, and they welcomed me back. That was the true beginning of my recovery, and I am still connected to some of those people to this day. I am eternally grateful for the life I have been given as a result of 12-step meetings, the people that have come and gone throughout my recovery and the work that I have had to do in order to sustain this life in recovery. I truly believe there are no coincidences and the universe has a way of putting people in your life that can actually alter and transform it forever. Kelly was at that next meeting and we became good friends. We surfed and snowboarded together, went to parties, went to concerts, and had so much sober fun. Kelly had some challenges later on, and I don’t know where he is now, but I hope he has found new recovery and I would want him to know that I will never forget him, and that day we met at Ocean Beach.

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