12 Step Planet - The Lunch Bunch
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Stories about addiction and recovery, Clean and Sober life styles
Several years ago, I was stealing to get by, barely surviving in a life active addiction. I was a puppet, with mood and mind altering substances pulling my strings, dictating my every move. I’m not sure if I was unable or unwilling to put the brakes on, but my Higher Power did for me what I could not do for myself. Early one morning, I went into a store picked up two Husqvarna chain saws. I walked right by the cashier who was busy waiting on other customers and walked out the door. Just as I did, I was tackled from behind by a loss prevention officer. I recall the feeling of relief that swept over me: I’d never have to live that way again. I was free! I knew that I’d end up in jail, but there was more peace in there than in the world that I’d been living a lonely and desperate life of existence in. Over a period of time, I had built the walls of the strongest prison one could ever imagine with my guilt, shame, and feeling of uselessness.What I did wasn’t that serious of a crime in the grand scheme of things, but our judicial system tends to give up on people that they know have a substance abuse problem. There was only one alternative in their eyes at the time, and that was incarceration. It wasn’t the first time that I’d lived behind barbed wire or gun towers, so I was prepared to become just another number and a statistic. In many ways, being in prison is tantamount to being in a big, dysfunctional fraternity. Unfortunately, the brotherhood revolves around pain, misery and suffering. Some days, it was hard to find anything to feel grateful for because of the atmosphere of negativity that pervaded just about everyone and everything around me.At the beginning of my journey, the Florida Department of Corrections selected my name out of 110,000 prisoners as one of the few and proud to serve my sentence in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Fortunately, it wasn’t like some of the others that I’d been in because I had little to no chance to leave: every fifteen minutes or so, a truck would go by our dorm, an armed officer inside. From time-to-tome, I’d watch as they drove by, the sun reflecting off of the razor wire which topped the fences, my eyes invariably tearing just a little bit for one reason or another.The program went well because I chose to put my all into it. I lived and breathed recovery. The days passed quickly and before I knew it, I was ready to go. It was an assembly line process, with another man ready to take my bed by the time that I completed the program. For my hard work and a little “good behavior,” I was given a transfer closer to home. Around that time, I began to write people, groups and organizations that might be able to help me in my transition. Few people took the time to write back me, despite the hundred well-written letters that I sent out, but one finally came that opened the door for my recovery in Florida.Alcoholics Anonymous has a program called “Bridging the Gap,” which provides an initial point of contact for people coming out of jail, prison, or a rehabilitation program. The idea is not only to provide newcomers someone to talk to after their release, but also a ride to a meeting on their first day of freedom. I was told that if I was willing to go to a meeting every day for a week, I’d have a good chance of making it. Up until then, my own choices hadn’t worked, so I gave it a try. Every night, a man that knew nothing about me – save for my desire to live a different life – would take me to a meeting. And, it worked when I followed in his footsteps and took some simple suggestions. Since then, I’ve stumbled, but I am back on track once again. Today, I’m very active in my recovery and I will never forget the efforts of the men whose service work and undying commitment to helping others that gave me another chance at life. One day, I hope that something that I say or do will spare someone else of some of the unpleasant experiences that I’ve gone through over the years. If I’m able to do that, every mistake that I’ve made and every tear that I’ve shed will not have been in vain, but will have been entirely worth it.

Mark G. The Lunch Bunch

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