Reaching Prison Inmates
Story: I started drinking at at age 12. Believe me I needed a drink, and managed not to cross the imaginary line of no return until I was about 18. Even then, I still had a good 18 years of fight left in me which included a few moves around the country, a few sordid relationships, several DUI’s and many jobs or lack thereof. There was a drive-by meeting; a thousand lies; some thievery to be sure; umpteen, “I’m never gonna do that again” promises; not to mention a sense of loneliness and despair I never want to repeat.
Intervention came in 1997 as I sat hungover by my pool in Manhattan Beach, next to a guy who was smoking a joint. To this day I have no idea who he was. A sliding glass door opened, it was my brother Chris whom I hadn’t spoken to for quite a while. Something inside me shuttered. He asked if I would come inside, he had something he wanted to talk to me about. That sounded pretty serious and I wanted nothing to do with anything serious or heavy, I was just biding my time until happy hour with some girls I met the night before. However, not wanting to be rude I went inside and there they were: the intervention team. And so it began. After much hemming and hawing from me about how I couldn’t go that day on account that I didn’t want to stand up the happy hour girls, I finally did accept an invitation to a place that had “great food and a pool”. Did I mention it was in the wine country? How bad could it be? And I did need a vacation. I was tired.
I had an amazing 28 days at Mountain Vista Farm and learned much, except that I had a progressive and fatal disease as well as a spiritual malady. Who knew?
After several months of roughly a meeting a week and trying to hang out with my old friends, I moved to where I thought was the “best place” for me, Aspen, where I opened a bar and proceeded to almost kill myself. I then decided it was Aspen that was the problem and moved to Austin. This lasted for 5 long days and nights until I found myself without a job and mobile-homeless. I called my brother in California and conned him to let me stay with him. He said if I was serious about getting sober then yes. I made it there and it lasted for about a week or so until he kicked me out. I went to stay with the old friends and that lasted for a couple of days and then they told me to leave. I stood on the corner somewhere in Manhattan Beach, where the journey began and the seed was planted.
I called my Mother to get her to send me to rehab but the universe had other plans. My Step-father, who had 12 years clean at the time, answered the phone. I pleaded my case for Crossroads in Antigua but he did me the greatest favor and instead, lovingly said, “Go to ninety meetings in ninety days” and that was that. End of conversation.
I didn’t know it at the time but luckily I was out of plans. I went to a meeting at appropriately enough “the last house on the block” and someone came up to me and asked, “Are you new?” I said, “Yes. How did you know?” And so began my continuing journey in recovery. I was lucky enough to not have to really work my first year but I managed a quick run as a waiter and as a research assistant, both of which lasted about a month total. I was not employable yet, so I attended about 270 meetings in my first ninety days. Eventually I knew I wanted to work in treatment. Once employed, I was quick to find out it was a tough gig but, I really liked the one-on-one stuff. I was lucky to experience the training for what I was later to become, a sober companion, a role which I love very much. Today I have a beautiful wife and two beautiful daughters. They are miracles for a guy like me who thought he was to live his life out as a bar-fly.