My Story: Gary S.

by GARY S.

I recently ran across a copy of a local newspaper I had put away as a
reminder of my earlier life. It was dated April 14, 1985. In it was an
article which began:

It has cost him his marriage, thousands in lawyers’ and
psychologists’ fees and thousands of hours of time. He has
tried behavior modification, hypnosis and electrical shock
treatments. He has suffered from physical disorders and nausea,
and he has shaken with conflict whenever he thought about doing
it again. For eight years, he was addicted to anonymous
homosexual encounters in public parks and restrooms. He was a
compulsive cruiser, and he couldn’t stop. “I did it with people
who I never thought I would want to touch or talk to,” he said.
“I was doing things I knew were dangerous and irrational and

That part of the article was about me. I was 38 then, and married. I was
compulsively drawn to cruise and act out in public restrooms. I was
arrested twice for suspicion of lewd conduct. My wife bailed me out. I
didn’t know why I kept going to those places. The fear and guilt made me
physically sick, and sure didn’t help my head any either. I came to realize
that it was a coping mechanism — my addictive way of dealing with my
feelings about my sexuality, my low esteem, the everyday stresses of my

It was all a game — Oh, I’ll just drive by the park and see if anything’s
going on….. BUT I WON’T GO IN. But I did go in, time after time. It was
as if some invisible thing grabbed hold of me; I wasn’t even in control of
myself. I didn’t care what was happening. I didn’t care if the cops were
right there, or if there were any dangers that existed. All I wanted was to
have a momentary escape and get it over with and get out of there until the
next time. I’d cruise any park which had a reputation for acting out and
some which didn’t, just in case. I’d cruise before work, during lunch hour,
on breaks and after work. At the worst point of my addiction, I would go
from park to park to park all day! I was addicted to sex just as much as an
alcoholic is addicted to booze, or an overeater is addicted to food. I
didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs — I did sex!

I hit “my bottom” after the second arrest, about the time my marriage broke
up. I was scared as hell of getting arrested again, but I really decided to
stop cruising when the time finally came in my life for an evaluation. I
just knew I wasn’t happy living in that mode; there was this uneasy feeling
all the time. I found through SCA that I could choose. It was no longer
like when someone — man or woman — looked at me that I HAD to go with

When that article was printed, I was unemployed and in the process of a
divorce. But I was getting more control of my life than I had had in years.
I hadn’t gone to a park in months, but the temptation — the addict — was
still there. I realize now that it will always be there, at least to some
extent. My first recovery plan included going to gay bars and bathhouses
instead of parks and tearooms — that was the first time I was honest and
accepting of my homosexuality.

I had started going to an SCA meeting — a fledgling one in Southern
California where I lived. I got very active in the Program; that is to say,
I dove in head first! After a while, several of us started another meeting
closer to my home; but I still attended the first one, too, as well as other
meetings as the need arose. I found myself becoming a sponsor to one or two
members, then more. I’ve seen a tremendous amount of growth in most of them
— an occasional dropout, too, but I know the seed has been planted with
them, and it will eventually sprout and grow. I got involved with the
Southern California SCA Intergroup and realized how the recovery of those
who attended those meetings was rubbing off on me. And I was seeing some of
mine rubbing off on others. As they say, in order to keep it you have to
give it away.

I’m 43 now. Over three years ago, I entered into a positive relationship,
while still working the Program. We did so many close things together, and
shared our lives each day — one day at a time. I recently lost him to
AIDS. Had it not been for my recovery through the Program, I shudder to
think what I might have done in the face of that tremendous loss.

A time like that — the severe pain of the loss itself, the feeling of
aloneness, and all the sudden changes — can be horribly dangerous to an
addict. I know that the growth I’ve undergone through participation in the
Program — working the Steps, gaining spirituality, working with fellow
addicts to share our mutual shame and letting go of it, reaching out to
others, being of service — has resulted in a solid base which is helping me
maintain my sanity, sobriety and serenity.

I have kept that article to help remind me of the extent of my recovery and
not take it for granted. I do remember a time when my future held nothing.
The only thing I wanted was a way out. Through SCA I found support and
direction; through God I found insight and love, and through my Program I
have strength, hope and a way out.

– Gary S.