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  • For 2 years, I had attended AA meetings off and on, enough to help me stay sober, which I thought at the time was enough. I still smoked the occasional doobie. Didn't seem to be a major problem at the time. I worked in the Printing Company’s warehouse 50 -60 hours a week, driving a forklift, keeping the inventory of all the different kinds of paper. Once a month or so I'd drive up to visit my friends in Connecticut, a 4-hour trip from Bucks County, PA, where I lived and worked.

    Then my best friend Reed died unexpectedly, and everything changed. I started getting high a lot more often. I now was filled with the question, “Why?” Why him and not me? I’d had my near-death experience 5 days before he died, and he was the one who’d brought me back. Now he was gone.

    It turned into a very long Fall and Winter. Cold, intense, and achingly lonely. I stopped going to the meetings altogether. What for? Life just made no sense at all. I took on even more hours at the warehouse, and would come home late in the evening to my apartment by Neshaminy Creek, smoke a lot of dope, and play games of Strat-O-Matic Baseball by myself. I was going to play a whole season of games, keeping the statistics manually for all of the teams, making trades, the whole nine. I’d become a real hermit. Work. Home. Get High. Strat-O-Matic. Ponder life and death. Puzzling it all out.

    During one of these lonely evenings, I spotted the AA Big Book sitting there on the shelf. For whatever reason, I picked it up and started reading “How It Works”. I don’t know why. I really wasn’t looking for any answers at that point. I was kind of resigned to this hermetic existence. I was rather enjoying wallowing in it, and in my loneliness. I was determined to finish out the Strat-O-Matic season!

    This book had never really done much for me. It had been written what, 40 years prior to then? They read parts of it at the beginning of meetings. Recited it ritualistically like prayers in the Catholic Church. Blah-blah blah-blah-blah blah.

    But this time, the words just seemed to glow off of the pages, and rang truer to me than anything I’d ever read, and struck a chord deep within me. I felt a connection to life. It was so strange. It was like falling in love the first time – my heart fluttered, my blood raced a little. Wow, I was not expecting that! Must have smoked a little too much dope!

    But the feeling persisted the next day. Hope. Life. Dare I even go there?

    I went back to the AA clubhouse, but it was the same old crowd. Nice people, but all into their patterns and their rituals, and mostly much older than me. I didn’t really feel like I belonged there. I had tried to. It was just a little too old and too wierd for me. I was treated kind of like a mascot there. "So nice that a young fella like you is trying to turn his life around." Man, if they only knew what I'd seen and done in my short time.

    Another young guy came to a meeting, and spoke about more than alcohol in his story. He shared about getting high, and how that had also been a problem. This was different. I talked to him after the meeting, and that’s when I found out about N.A. for the first time.

    My first meeting there was totally different. I was actually the oldest person there, at age 25. There were kids as young as 16, and many in their late teens and early 20’s. A 19 year old kid, who’d been clean and sober for 3 years, said something that made more sense to me than anything I’d ever heard in 2 years of AA meetings. I knew right away – this was where I belonged. These kids took me in, and accepted me as one of them, and before I knew it, I was no longer alone.

    The next 4 years would be a wild ride, one that would take me all over the country, get to be part of writing a book on recovery from addiction, and finally, at the end of it all, find meaningful recovery, myself. But, I have to admit, despite the insanity and the craziness of that ride, we sure had some crazy good times, clean and sober. This motley crew were my first real friends in the program. I loved these guys.
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