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My Recovery Story - James Payne

My name is James P. And I’m an addict, alcoholic, bulimic, and a co-dependent. I was bo

rn September 12, 1985 in the Bronx to a pediatrician and a professional alcoholic. My parents were not married, and for a number of years, I was unaware to whom was my actual birth father. Around the age of four my mother got married for the first time to a major in the Air Force, and the family quickly relocated to Hamburg, Germany. My stepfather was a taskmaster, and he was emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive. Despite his interactions, my mother and I tried to live in harmony in a foreign nature. My childhood would be drastically affected when for the first time I was molested by my older stepbrother. From then on, I always lived with an intense feeling of fear and mistrust of people that would try and get close to me.

Luckily for both of our safeties, my mother divorced my stepfather and she moved the family to San Antonio, TX. Unfortunately, sexual abuse would be a recurring theme to my story. We became acquainted to another military family, and the father of the family would proceed to molest me over the next few years. Despite this troubling aspect to my childhood, I managed to excel at an all boys military school. However, I would battle childhood obesity, because food and the comfort from food became my initial drug of choice.

As I transitioned into high school, I became painfully aware that I was a gay male. That revelation was too overwhelming at the time, and that along with the childhood sexual abuse, would lead me down the road to a long battle with bulimia. At the time bulimia became my higher power and my best friend. Eventually, by my sophomore year, I discovered alcohol and marijuana, and subsequently, found my second love, alcohol addiction. After graduating high school, I would go on to college where I struggled balancing academics and my drug and alcohol addictions. I would spend thousands of dollars on cocaine and partying in order to handle the stress of life. Managing to graduate despite my best efforts, I would remain two more years at the University, to further my education, when in actuality I was petrified at the idea of growing up.

When I finally moved back home, I was incapable of going a few days without drugs or alcohol. Back home, I proceeded to stop drinking alcohol by inhaling all of my grandmother’s pain medication. Eventually, I had established a routine of dodging work while running up credit card debt on drugs. I was incapable of being alone. I drove my family crazy with my addiction’s progression. I would proceed to crash numerous cars and cause multiple injuries to myself under the influence of alcohol and Xanax.

Finally, enough was enough, and my family intervened and sent me to a 30-day treatment facility. The experience at the time was instrumental in me being introduced to the 12-steps. However, once I got sober from drugs and alcohol, my eating disorder would escalate to fill the spiritual malady. Following graduating from treatment, I moved to Austin, TX, in the summer of 2013, and I would proceed to bounce from sponsor to sponsor and sober house to sober, before eventually relapsing. Once again, I need outside interventions in order to agree to go back to treatment. However, this time I would go to a 90-day treatment facility, where I experienced spiritual experiences. I worked steps 1-7 in treatment, and I finally felt that I had a chance at being sober and happy, joyous, and free. Almost one full year after leaving treatment, I feel like I have had a spiritual awakening as a result of completing these steps. Today my life has more hope and freedom than I could have imagined. I work the steps, have rebuilt severed relationships, take others through the 12-steps, share my experience, strength, and hope, and for the first time in years, live on my own. Today, I just live one day at a time, and life is much simpler when I focus my efforts on helping others than solely on myself.

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