Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Spiritual Awakening Out of a Nightmare:
By Peter S. Lopez ~aka Peta

CASA Step #12: We tried to carry this Message to addicts and practice these principles in all our affairs; having had a ‘Spiritual Awakening’ as a result of working these 12-Steps.

Galatians 6:1 ~ "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also shall be tempted.”

Once upon a time many moons ago, when the world was younger and I was dumber, I had a good straight job in a responsible position as Senior Office Assistant with the Sacramento Housing & Redevelopment Agency. I helped process staff reports for new housing development programs for the City-County of Sacramento, formatted loan-underwriting documents, coordinated public meetings and had other assigned tasks. I worked alongside professional city planners, housing finance specialists and other experts in the field, including contractors and other businessmen. I felt I should have had more input, but I had reached my maximum staff potential, as I did not have the college degree to qualify for higher staff positions.

Despite the work grind, I loved my job and was good at it. Sometimes I would even go to work on Saturdays on my own time just to keep ahead of the workload and play office. I had my own business card, cubicle space, computer, multi-line phone, great co-workers, keys to the office complex and the security alert code.

Tune: Takin’ Care of Business ~Bachman-Turner Overdrive

On the way home, waiting for the Light Rail to Marconi-Arcade on the ‘K’ Street Mall I use to pull over and make a pit stop at a Yuppie Cocktail Lounge for ‘just a couple of drinks’ to avoid the rush hour traffic and I felt real divinely decadent and even of the petty-bourgeoisie class.

At the time, my home life was happy and content without dramas or troubles. I lived on ground level in a big apartment with a small park-size backyard, helped take care of the landscape, had a beautiful white snow dog named Tao and twin cats named Yin and Yang. Plus, I had a pretty white girlfriend Kathy who came over about daily who usually spent the night with the insurance of being unhappily married. As Gringo Matt use to spout to my chagrin, “It’s all good in the hood!”

However, my old nemesis alcoholism was stalking in the jungle outside, patiently awaiting my eventual downfall and my calling into work ‘sick’ days became weeks, my cold was a killer and I had already killed off my family with all the funerals I had to attend!

Long story short: I got terminated from my job behind my absenteeism {read boozin’ and partyin’}, received a severance check of a thousand or so and I decided that since I was really unemployed, had never been an addict and had the seed money that I would start dealing ‘crank’ or methamphetamine on a small scale ‘just to make ends meet’.

Tune: A Little Help From My Friends ~The Beatles.

I remember my proud assertion, “I might have a wee bit of a drinkin’ problem, but I’ve never been a junkie. I will make the perfect crank dealer!’

At first, it all started with one skinny little line of white power. After all, I had to test my product! My dope fiend friend and neighbor Barnyard Bob shot up dope intravenously, He was a Nam Vet who had gotten confused in Cambodia and lost in Laos. I just snorted crank up my nostrils and kept on drinking my Korbel Brandy with Crazy Horse malt liquor as a ‘chaser. Barnyard Bob declared, “A man does what he will do. Whatever tickles his fancy. He just gots to support his own habits.”

My normal neurotic gal Kathy and I broke up, but that was cool because she was square and didn’t do dope anyways. Besides, I had already been sliding with my cute poor drunk White neighbor Melody, She lived near me with her two children, a seven-years old son named Miles and little daughter Ericka who are around 4 years. Plus, I had occasional sleazy ‘bag-hos’ coming in and out, plenty of buddies and we would all get together, have jam sessions, play music at all hours and keep making booze and dope runs. I was the local cool celebrity living large. I was all that and a bag of chips. I thought I had the world by the balls!

Eventually, external reality set in and popped all my bubbles. Rent evictions came. Melody, the kids and I had to move out of our respective apartments and we moved together across the tracks into a two-bedroom house in Del Paso Heights. I kept doing what I was doing and somewhere between lines I started shooting up dope and getting ever deeper into dark dope fiend culture with all of the gory props and scenes.

Tune: Slippin’ Into Darkness = War

We usually got the kids off to school. I was into the ‘crank-booze’ high-low roller-coaster ride while Melody was mainly into the depressant beer. The kids interfered with her daily drunkenness and sometimes she would be mean to them. Once in a while in a brief moment of clarity I thought about going back into the wage-slave market, but I was slinging enough dope to keep the show going, though, I was already my best customer. Dope addiction impacts on the entire being, the whole family and the local neighborhood scene. It all comes up in the wash.

One night, Son Miles and I hopped on our bikes with our dog Tao for me to get yet another bottle of brandy and goodies for the kids to help me come ‘down’ from being ‘up’ before the liquor store closed across the tracks. The roller coaster life of a dope fiend: up for days and nights, hard crash down, then over and over again. We made it to the store in time, but I did not make it home that night.

We raced rode our bikes back across the tracks merrily on our way. I rode in front of a truck at a STOP sign, the driver slipped his clutch, the truck lunged forward and ran over my bike and I. Miles was safe, I told him to go home with the dog and I sat there stunned with a crumpled bike and a leg like a wet spaghetti.

Tune: Something the Boy Said ~Sting

I had gotten my leg broken, but was drunk at the time and it was hard to proof my case of it being the truck driver’s fault. When I got back home life got worse. Melody kept drinking hard, my left leg was in a cast and the alcohol demon stalked us both dead on our trail.

My leg healed but the drunk-based relationship between Melody and I deteriorated. One time she beat up and abused Miles again and littl’ Erika ~an angel of a child~ got a black eye on her face that Melody asserted she got because, “Honest, her shoe bounced off the wall!’

The kids went to their room and were suppose to be asleep. In a drunken rage, I pulled my Remington Defender shotgun out on Madwoman Melody in the kitchen, but I caught myself when Tao my dog barked at me sensing trouble. I knew I had to do something about her child abuse or I would consider myself an accomplice. The police were called and when Melody got wind of it she cut out on her own journey. When the police arrived one officer had remembered a prior child abuse incident with her and told us that if she came back to call him. She never did.

The children went to go stay with their Aunt, who ironically worked with a child abuse advocacy agency. Melody went to court, lost her kids, and was ordered to attend Parenting Classes to get her kids back. She did her usual stunt, got drunk and went out whoring around to support her habit.

Tune: It’s Probably Me = Sting.

Another eviction was coming down. I had to move out and one bummer day on my usual beer route I ran into an ol’ Amigo Joe M. from my ol’ Brown Berets days. He was a heroin junkie, but had his own little house and invited me to stay with him. Thus, I moved further into the lowlands of the Heights.

Fast forward: I kept slingin’ dope, losin’ weight and spinnin’ webs with other dope fiends for almost two years. I was dealin’ with Black gangstas’, White bikers, Mexican pirates and assorted low-life fiends. My ‘drug sales policy’ was not to transact with anyone under 18-years of age; satisfaction guaranteed, another bag or your money back, but never come up to me again. The dope was hot, no one ever complained. I never stepped on my dope and what I got you got.

My dope was my sex, my bitch, my whore and I loved her more than life itself!

I had become one of ‘them’, a full blown ‘wheelin’ and dealin’ dope fiend lost in the whole OCD nightmare of it all. An active dope fiend suffers from Obsession Compulsion Disorder or OCD. The Obsession of the mind is always on ‘getting the dope’; the Compulsion to ‘doing the dope’ for the temporary high rush, then, when after got it; the Disorder of the chemical addiction fixation and the next bag chase. Over and over again, never enough and never satisfied for long in a bio-imbalance quandary. The chemical up and down ladder of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters artificially induced by ‘crank’ kept me trapped in a maddening vicious circle with no way out. I wanted all of us to get strung out, not just high, but strung out. I was going down and wanted to take all my friends with me. No hope without dope was my credo. I was a menace to any semblance of society, completely insane and an extremely sick man.

We actually started a small tribe called the Hopey Dopey Tribe. We shared our dope amongst us tribal members in communal fashion with money we obtained via various criminal means, including prostitution, but mainly constant dope trafficking. One or more of us was always up 24 x 7 going to and fro in dope circles. A doper dame could not just sit around as a pretty toss up and do our dope. I supported the work ethic. We all had to bustle for our hustle and function at the junction. I was not a pimp or dope dealer. I was a fashion consultant and field coordinator. Merely existing in a dope-crazed delusion and always under stress I forgot what just being still at ease in peace meant.

Barnyard Bob was our Chief and even had a headdress he made. I was the Head Warrior and our squaws were sweet, stupid, but sweet. I fancied myself a lean mean fighting machine. Alas, I was really another sick sucked-up dope fiend.

One day my fiend-friend, Crazy Carol {we had to give nicknames to remember and distinguish folks} told me of a friend of her who was having hassles moving out of her house in Strawberry Manor, a nearby Black ghetto infested with ‘crackheads’ who ripped off or ripped out anything they could sell from any place left unguarded. We hopped on our horses, went to her place, my machete in hand and saw an older troubled White lady we called Lalaland Linda. A War Party of us helped her and her young son move out. I found out she was one of the biggest crank dealers in North Sac. She asked us movers, “Want a littl’ crank?”

Lalaland moved in right across the street, we could call each other up and see each other in our front rooms for communication purposes and then we really had it going on! She was my main ‘squeeze’, at least, one of her was. She was a genuine certified multiple personality. She was fine except when she switched personalities in mid-project, then, she could really not remember who had done what. I kept her under semi-house arrest with the dope, though, we would both ‘front’ each other 8 balls when supplies got low. We were the ideal co-dependents, though I liked her nurse role more than her slut one. Times got real bizarre. Night and day had no significant meaning, only the next score to re-up.

One morning the school called and asserted her son had pulled out a bag of dope to show the teacher what a bad Lalaland was and shit hit the fan. Her son had been mad at her for not buying him something and his not wanting to go to school that day. Before the cops came, all her friends scattered like rats and only I helped to sanitize her place. When the cops came I sat cool as cucumber acting normal. They were pissed because they knew we had swept up the place and didn’t even bother to check my ID. Later, Lalaland evolved from being a ‘crankster’ into being a hard-core heroin junkie. She loved the dope fiend gal who needed to be saved mystique.

We even had a short-lived ‘drug war’ between us mad meth cranksters and noddin’ out junkie heroin addicts. We cranksters won as we were up for days or weeks at a time and didn’t nod out, but when we crashed it was like a Near-Death-Experience!

The dope scene situation started to unravel. My Amigo Joe OD’ed off a crank and heroin ‘speed ball’ being greedy. I had to sanitize his place after the ambulance came for him. He survived but was always more brain-damaged than ever after wards. Dark alliances were changing, the stars were shifting, kitchen appliances just stopped working, flies gathered in the ceiling and our cats strayed away. I intuitively sensed the party was over and it was time to go back downtown to my ol’ stompin’ grounds.

Tune: The Thrill is Gone ~B.B. King.

One day my good Ol’ Amigo Danny came by who knew me from my ‘straight’ days. I was in my usual rush going in circles. He was trying to get my attention, but I was too busy. He said, “Petey, you’ve changed! You’re not like you use to be!”
I looked at him in angered disbelief and said, “Hell yeah I’ve changed! I gotta’ keep track of all this shit flying around!”

I must of spouted other hurtful mean things, memory can be selective, because he just left in disgust after all the times we had spent together as friends and brothers over the years. I was obsessed with the dope and nothing else really mattered. This might be hard for a non-drug addict to fathom, but nothing else mattered but the dope, doing dope, getting dope and more dope. My whole world revolved around a brain-damaging chemical poison.

One night soon after, in disgust at my life in general, I grabbed my backpack, my coat and my knife and told my space friends, “Catch ya’ later!” They didn’t even trip, barely noticed, probably didn’t believe me and they just kept on smokin’, fixin’ and slammin’ dope. I had to give them due credit, they were true devoted dope fiends.

Tune: Consider Me Gone, Sting

I crashed by a ditch off Branch Street that night, got up the next morning and strolled over to Calvary Church on Del Paso Boulevard. I knew I needed a spiritual conversion in my life and did not return to the dope houses I had helped build up. With no Master Plan or forethought I knew I had to take my chances in the streets and be ready for whatever came up or came down. I needed redemption.

Fast forward: Later that day I wandered downtown and saved a life. I met an old retired disabled Lt. Navy Commander named Paul P. who was staggering drunk in public. I saved him by a quick grab from falling back into a fast passing Light-Rail on the mall, then, we went to a nearby watering hole to celebrate. I became his Care-Worker with In-Home Support Services, kept us alive with booze supplies and went on a yearlong alcohol binge, but I stood off the crank.

We were on the 8th Floor of a senior-disabled complex called Park Place by 13th & ‘N’ Streets. Our apartment overlooked Capitol Park with a grand view, two beds, Cable TV and enough money coming in to keep us both in a continuous drunk, hangover, drunk cycle in another vicious circle. What more could a man want? I had everything but the girl. By then, genius that I was, it dawned on me that I had a real drinking problem and could not even think of stopping in that situation. Once again, I grabbed my backpack, opened the door and walked away.

Tune: Leap of Faith ~Kenny Loggins.

The golden sun was setting on a warm summer night. I wandered aimlessly like an alley cat into Old Sac. Looking homeless, feeling hopeless and with nowhere to lay my head for the first time in my life. Yet, I had a strange feeling of true liberty. I was off crank and off booze, hungry and lost without a friend, but felt free. It was weird seeing the local untroubled tourists with real lives as my existence was in ‘down-n’-out’ mode. They were in another dimension from mine.

When the lonely chill of night fell I trudged down by the riverside and eyed the darkest scariest spot in the bushes by the Sacramento River. I had a Mexican ‘sarape’ that doubled as a coat and blanket, cleared a spot, stretched out, stabbed my knife into Mother Earth, held the handle and tried to get to sleep with my ears wide open. In the middle of the night, after I had dozed off, something stirred me and I saw the silver glimmers of the river waves, the bright night stars like dangling pearls and heard the sounds of partygoers in the distance from Old Sac.

In quiet desperation, I got on my knees, heavy in heart and went into deep prayer. I confessed my sins, repented of my evil ways and asked for His HELP! In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I had the life revelation that my life issues were between God and I not ‘them’. I saw, felt and sensed a warm soft golden glow that seared into the core of my soul and flashed around me. For now, I was at peace with myself and at peace with my Maker. I had found myself and realized who I was in those magical moments. My life had purpose and my path had a destiny to be fulfilled. A wretch such as I was truly saved by God’s amazing grace!

Tune: Amazing Grace ~John Newton.

Afterwards, I took a deep breath, scanned my surroundings, asked for God’s protection, then, got down and slept like a baby upon Mother Earth. In the morning, a few ducks by the water’s edge quacked at me to get up and face the day. I remember I had experienced a true Spiritual Awakening the night before and it was time to stand up and move forward!

I had to go to the Salvation Army Homeless Shelter or Sally’s by Loaves and Fishes to check in and stay on the Sign-Up List. I wanted to see about getting into the shelter there, having my own bunk to sleep on and a locker for my few belongings. One forward step led to another and I am still moving forward step-by-step.

Thus, the personal events that led me to my first real Spiritual Awakening. Some people can have a sudden Spiritual Awakening and others can have more of a gradual dawning realization. The key is to stay awake in sanity, consistently work on our character building and remember past mistakes to prevent future ones.

Older, bolder and wiser now, I know that every day should be a Spiritual Awakening and each of us can have our own version of one. An interesting life should be a constant learning experience awakening our spirits to ever-new revelations on a daily basis. I am still on my Life Journey to Jerusalem, following the Spiritual Path with Heart. Plus, holding onto my sober recovery and Spiritual Liberty one day at a time with a vision for the future!

Nowadays, I have inherited a Christian Ministry, work with homeless addicts and am the Field Coordinator for a progressive recovery group called CASA 12-Steps ~ the Real Deal ~ which stands for Christians Against Substance Addiction. I consider myself first and foremost a humane being, not limited by labels of religion. One Earth, One Soul, One God!

We have Open CASA Meetings at the Salvation Army ‘Center of Hope’ Homeless Shelter every Sunday at 7 pm rain or shine, high or low, up or down. Please come join us and share your experience, strength and hope!

Tune: I Love the Lord He Heard My Cry ~Donny Hathaway.
Relevant Links:
CASA Online Home Page:

CASA 12-Steps Program Blog

Recovery Emporium

Bill Wilson's Letter To Dr. Carl Jung , Jan 23, 1961

Dr. Jung’s Letter To Bill Wilson, Jan. 30, 1961

Dr. Carl Jung's Contribution:

The Oxford Group Connection:

History of Methamphetamine

On Love ~ From 'The PROPHET' by Kahlil Gibran

03/12/2006 10:49:20 AM


C/S All that rises must merge...

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