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Looking back at the past, I can see that I had a pretty good life—loving parents, a partner of 10 years, a successful career and a beautiful house. In 2004, life took a turn for the worse. Within the span of a year, my brother passed away, I was gay-bashed in West Hollywood, went through a very painful break-up and became HIV-positive.
Something happened within me. I was overwhelmed and ill-equipped to deal with reality. I wasn’t only heartbroken; I was broken. I couldn’t stop the feelings of sadness and would wake up in tears, only to cry myself back to sleep.
At that point I turned to cocaine to relieve the pain, but in a few months, it stopped working—and then I found crystal meth. It really worked for me for a few years, allowing me to avoid reality as I roamed through my life completely numbed and disconnected. Meth fulfilled my need to end the tears, but within no time, it completely consumed my life. I lost my job, my car and apartment and ended up penniless, homeless and completely alone. I discovered isolation in Meth, and in turn lost all my friends and ceased all communication with my family. My sole purpose each day was to find more drugs and a place to crash for the night.
This life of deceit continued for a few years. I failed time and again at attempts to stop using. My solution had suddenly become my problem. It was killing me and, honestly, there was a part of me that wanted to die.
On August 3, 2009, I went to my first meeting of Crystal Meth Anonymous, and though I did not realize I was seeking sobriety, I was emotionally and physically exhausted with no solution in sight. A few days later I made a life-changing decision and checked myself into the McIntyre House. This was truly one of the best decisions I have ever made. Here is where I learned a new way of living, where I could begin to take responsibility for my actions and to deal with life on life’s terms. I also learned to love myself, and in turn, let people love me. In May 2010, I transitioned from the house to begin a new life.
I have remained sober now for nearly four years, and life is pretty amazing. Directly following my transition, I was offered a position as house manager at the McIntyre House, where I remain today. I love my job because I get to help other addicts like me while I pursue my certification in drug and alcohol counseling. My sobriety has allowed me to once again have friends and a beautiful relationship with my family. I am also rediscovering a passion in hair design, and will be attending the Paul Mitchell academy. Most importantly, I have internal peace and an appreciation for life that I didn’t have before. I was given a second opportunity in life, and I fully intend to take advantage of it and not take it for granted!
Tomas Zamudio is the manager of McIntyre House, a nonprofit substance abuse recovery home for men in Los Angeles.