HEALTH / RECOVERY

Turning 20 and 50 in 2013
Tom Pardoe
1/6/2014

My name is Tom.

I was introduced to crystal meth on the dance floor of the Apache Bar in The Valley in 1990 by a man named Neil. He gave me a hit of ecstasy, so I moved in with him that night. Turned out he was dealing crystal. Of all the guys, of all the bars, of all the nights....

What began as a whirlwind of excitement, rejuvenated life force and super powers in and out of bed turned methodically into a shrunken, paranoid journey to a frozen underworld where no one sleeps and everyone was out to get me.

I tried hard to maintain a carefully crafted schedule of “normal” in order to prove that balance and control were still in my court. I wasn’t like the others, whose before-and-after images were overdone to scare you. I kept a job. OK, so I was teaching step aerobics with no voice (I had dry mouth, so I used hand signals, and my BPMs were out of this world, but packed classes = successful), and I was turning tricks. My jobs were no longer related to my career but to my true love—crystal. I would always keep three or four days off in a row. Like clockwork, 24 hours before the end of my last class, my body would pound with excitement and anticipation, for soon I would be set free from this world of “have tos” and escape to the land of “fuck you, I am power.”

 Flash forward to 1992. Driven by meth to a frozen ball in the corner of my rented room for eight hours, the race inside my head to kill myself was approaching the finish line. In a moment of what I call grace, I chose to move back to my parents’ home in the Midwest. There, with no accessible crystal in sight, I drank like a fish, until April 28 of 1993, my first day of sobriety. I attended 12-step meetings daily, had the cotton removed from my ears and inserted it into my mouth. I had to relearn how to take direction, to slow down my speech and my gait and to sweat through those moments of absolute uncertainty. And every time I did I gained sober experience. One baby step at a time, not picking up “no matter what,” slowly began to reveal a new hope.

Today I celebrate 20 years of continuous sobriety, a day at a time, by the grace of God and the help of countless addicts. It’s a ‘we’ thing. I get that now and am grateful.

Tom Pardoe sits on the board of directors of Christopher Street West and has produced several fundraisers for AIDS organizations and recovery events.


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  1. Junior posted on 01/20/2014 03:06 PM
    Thank you Tom for your harrowing story of meth addiction. It gives me hope and reminds me that the steps I am taking, one day at a time, I too will overcome my addiction. As of today I am 47 days sober. Hugs and Happy 20th Birthday.
  2. Kedric H. posted on 01/20/2014 05:00 PM
    Tom P. is my sponsor & I love him!
  3. joe didonato posted on 01/20/2014 05:55 PM
    Thanks Tom for sharing, its a beautiful and scary story at the same time. My partner is sober 28 years and I thank God every day he stays sober.
  4. David V posted on 01/21/2014 04:19 AM
    God bless you and thank you for your story. By the grace of God go I as well. You are an inspiration.
  5. dan phillips posted on 01/21/2014 05:44 AM
    Thank you for sharing. gives hope and inspiration to me. 314 days here : )
    Dan
  6. E. Salvador Hernandez posted on 01/21/2014 11:53 AM
    Thank you so much for sharing your experience, strength, and hope. You're a guiding light in our communities and a force of nature unmatched by anyone I've met before. Very honored to call you my friend and read about your miraculous journey.
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