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August 17, 2018

Starting Over in Recovery


Day One can be hard as all hell for someone who is getting sober for the first time. But Day One can really suck some major assage for someone who is getting sober again for the second, third, fourth (or more) time after a fender-bending slip-up.

There are feelings of shame, disappointment or (worse) fears of being reproached, rejected, or laughed at for standing up as a returning alcoholic/addict.

These feelings can be a deterrent for those who want to return after a relapse. A lot of people don’t seek the help they need and end up staying out longer than they need to because of what they think people will think of them if they stand up as a returnee.

I asked these three young men to share what it was like to start over again in recovery.

It may be true that some (sicker than other) people do talk shit and they do judge those who stand up as returnees, these guys prove that more often than not, the applause, the support and the love tends to deafen whatever judgment some may encounter in the rooms of recovery.

The hope is that their stories will inspire anyone who is on the fence about returning, to come back and keep coming back again and again. The only way to get back on the wagon is to get back on the wagon.

Thank you Fernando Polio, Mylo Cayou and Marvin Reyes for sharing your story of recovery for THE SHARE in THE FIGHT Magazine. You’re journey in recovery is all yours. Don’t let anyone try to rob you of your experience.





I had eleven months before I relapsed. Coming back wasn’t hard for me because I knew I wanted to get sober and I knew where the love was. There was a little bit of shame to introduce myself as a newcomer, but that went away right away. People showed me love and support. I also knew I was not the only one. I just walked through the shame. I told people and got honest. I did contrary action.

I was only out for one day. I came back because everything I have right now like my job, the relationship with my family, my friends—that all goes away as soon as I start using drugs. I knew I needed to get honest because I wanted help.

People shouldn’t be afraid to come back. It’s OK to be new. We are human beings and we make mistakes. That doesn’t mean we’re bad people. We just need to learn and move forward.”

—Fernando Polio, sober since March 4, 2017.


The most time I had sober was about 83 days. I felt embarrassed and guilty as a returnee. I worried about what people thought of me, but the response was welcoming. They would just tell me to keep coming back, to go to meetings and to share. No one expressed any disappointment. Everyone has been very supportive.

I knew I had to come back. When I was out there using, I reached a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t feeling well. The relapse helped me escape my problems, but only for a little bit. I still had those problems after the relapse. They actually came back ten times worse.

I would encourage anyone to come back and I’d tell them to not be afraid. Get over your shame. No one is going to judge you. That’s been my experience. No one has judged me at all.”

—Mylo Cayou, sober since April 4, 2017.


I had 18 months before my last relapse. I was out for a year. Coming back was really hard. Admitting that I fucked up and I don’t have this was very humbling. The biggest fear I had was that people were going to think I was a failure. I’m a people-pleaser, so I want everyone to like me.

Once I came back, it was very hard to stay. I couldn’t stop using. Eventually I had to go to an in-patient program at the rescue mission in Oxnard. It’s a hardcore Christian rehab, but it’s free. I went there for five-and-a-half months. I had to return. That’s where it all starts. Returning is the first step towards recovery. You can’t build a bridge without the foundation.

It was hard admitting that I had relapsed, but I’m grateful I did everything I did, because I’ve never had the sobriety that I have now. It was different before. I needed to go through all that to get here and I like who I am today.”

—Marvin Reyes, sober since May 1, 2016.

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About Paulo Murillo,

Paulo has been writing for the gay media for over 16 years. He made his debut as a columnist for FAB! Newspaper. He has written for LA Health News, IN Los Angeles, Frontiers and The Fight Magazine. He has been featured in The Bay Area Reporter, XY Magazine, Bay Windows, Windy Times, and Press Pass Q, He has been quoted in the pages of Edge Magazine, Gay & Lesbian Times, Seattle Gay News, Fuges, and in a shitload of online news outlets and blogs, thanks in large part to Rex Wocker’s Quote on Quote – Wockner Wire.