From the August 2007 magazine.

Tattoo

From street badge to Twelfth Step tool

I was sitting in a meeting last week and I heard a newcomer say, with shame in his voice, that he has tattoos on eighty-five percent of his body. Now sober, he regrets them. I certainly identified. I remembered coming to after a long night of drinking. I had an ugly, large tattoo of a spider hanging from its web in my groin area. I have no idea where it came from, who gave it to me, or other details of the night.

When I came into the halls of AA, I was broken--mentally, physically, and spiritually. I, too, was full of shame and it was a barrier to connecting with others. I was a teenage runaway at thirteen, and I survived hand-to-mouth for many years, doing whatever it took to survive on the streets. It was a time of hard drinking and drugging. I loved no one and no one loved me. Every day that I was alive was an unanswered death wish. God and religion were some of the reasons I left home. I had parents who preached virtue while they tortured the children. There was no God to save me, although I prayed every night with a rosary pressed into my hand.

-- Cindy C.

Manchester, New Hampshire

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