A lot has been going on. I do my best to remain positive and stay upbeat. But I must admit, sometimes it’s super hard. Back in August I was on a softball team that was argumentive, disorganized, and dysfunctional. So I quit.
Soon after I quit, I hear a knock on my cell door. It’s the coach. “Why’d you quit?” he demands! Right away I see he’s hostile and emotional.
I tell him, “Because it’s too stressful and I’m not having any fun. Guys are arguing with each other and we’re loosing too many games.”
He says, “Well then f*ck you! I’m done f*cking with you!” Then he slammed my door.
I immediately get an adrenaline rush. I almost open my door and call him back. But I don’t. I accept it and let him walk away. Because the last time I entertained such irrationality, I ended up knocking out the dude. And that cost me my EFV’s for 5 years. (see: How I Lost My EFV’s For 5 Years)
Today I’m a changed man. I’ve learned from my past. I try my best to avoid conflict.
So what could I have done to avoid this entire situation? It’s actually quite simple. I should’ve finished out the softball season with a positive, optimistic attitude. Regardless of our record and all the negativity.
I’m getting pretty good at avoiding physical confrontations. However, I need to work on avoiding confrontational situations all together. This has proven to be very tricky. I can be minding my own business, doing my own thing, and then suddenly find myself in an undesired situation.
So shortly after this whole softball fiasco, the Sergeant calls me in his office. He tells me that my celly, Dicky, is requesting that I be moved out.
Dicky is disabled and bound to a wheelchair, therefore we are in an ADA cell. These cells are bigger and have wider doors for wheelchair access. Which means Dicky always has top priority to live in these spacious ADA cells. So if he wants a celly gone, it’s always the celly who gets the boot, never him.
I’m genuinely surprised by this news the Sergeant it telling me. Dicky and I get along fine. So I ask the sergeant, “Why?”
Basically, Dicky said I’m too clean. I clean the cell too much. And that I organize his area when it gets too messy. Which I do. But Dicky and I have had discussions about this. And he said its all good!
So as the Sergeant is telling me all this, I’m confused. None of this is making any sense. REALLY! I’m getting the boot for being too clean and organized. What’s really going on?
Well it didn’t take long to figure it out. As soon as I moved out, Dicky moved in one of his dope fiend buddies. Dicky is an addict himself. He’s a pharmaceutical junky. He goes to pill line multiple times everyday. He keeps hundreds of pills hoarded in his cell constantly. But I guess the legal drugs aren’t enough.
Since I got kicked out, Dicky has been going downhill fast. Some dude ran up on him and in front of everyone and said, “Listen you punk ass bitch, that sh*t you gave me was bunk and I’m not paying you a f*cking dime!”
Wow! In front of God and everybody. Dicky was now exposed. Shortly after that, someone must’ve went and told. Because they suspended his visits. Tore up his cell. Took apart his wheelchair (looking for drugs). And subjected him to a piss test. Dicky refused the UA because he was dirty. Refusing a UA is a Major Infraction. Dicky is now out of the dog program.
It all makes sense now. Dicky kicked me out of the cell because he wanted to get high and sell drugs. And he knows I’m not down with any of that. So he reverted back to his lying manipulative ways to get what he wants. (see: Living With A Compulsive Liar)
When the Sergeant first told me I was getting kicked out of my cell, I was upset and stressed. But now I’m very thankful. It took me over 6 years to get in The Dog Program. By living with Dicky, he jeopardized my livelihood with his sneaky manipulative misconduct.
In a piece I wrote called, Stone Catchers: I Quit!!!, I talk about overcoming these exact type of challenges.
I know what I need to do. Now it’s all about having the strength, courage, and intelligence to successfully cope with any and all situations that come my way.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9
I quit softball. I temporarily quit Stone Catchers. And sometimes I feel like giving up and smashing out some of these fools. It’s time I quit quitting. Giving up is NOT an option. Violence Is Never The Answer.
MY PRAYER: Please God, continue to give me the strength to endure and overcome. Guide me, guard me, and protect me as I continue my journey. Amen!
Prison is full of drama, negativity, and hate. But thanks to programs like NA, prison also offers hope, time to reflect, time to heal, and plenty of time for rehabilitation.
Some of the tools I’m finding from within NA are very effective and powerful. They go beyond addiction and can be applied by anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Here are just a few that I cultivated after reading Chapter 9 in the big blue NA book (sixth edition). I’m calling them, “JUST FOR TODAY” tools. I’ve written these down and posted them above my mirror. So now, when I look in the mirror, I look deep into my eyes as I recite my newly found JUST FOR TODAY tools. This is what I tell myself:
JUST FOR TODAY I will live in the spirit of love.
JUST FOR TODAY my thoughts will be on love and understanding as I enjoy my blessings and all the things that bring me happiness.
JUST FOR TODAY I will have faith in my abilities to avoid conflict and maintain a circle of harmony with everyone I encounter.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be impeccable with my words and only say things that are positive and encouraging.
JUST FOR TODAY I will be the best person I can be as I treat everyone with dignity and respect.
After I read these to myself, I give Yahoo a big hug and kiss his nose.
Over the years I have slowly learned how to use my hardships as a pathway to peace. As I reflect back on the many negative incidents I’ve imposed upon myself, I am now able to use them as stepping stones within my pathway to peace.
I understand where I went wrong in the past.
If someone challenged me…I’d beat them down! If I felt disrespected…I’d beat them down. I didn’t know any other way. Fighting was a way for me to be victorious. Today, victory comes with effective problem solving and the ability to co exist with the most challenging of personalities.
Fighting and violence is no longer an option for me. A Pyrrhic victory is an epic failure! That’s why it’s crucial that I find a better way and create effective tools that work for me. That way, if I’m ever in a situation where some fool runs up in my cell wanting to fight, I’ll have the self control and strength to refrain from hurting that man…and ultimately hurting myself and the people who love and support me.
I’ve come a long way…but its evident I still have a long way to go. I’ll continue to work hard as I try my best to always do the right thing.
This NA post is about the 12th principal in Chapter 4: HOW IT WORKS. It says,
“Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to addicts, and to practice these principals in all our affairs.”
When I translate and apply this to my daily life, it reads like this: “Having had a spiritual awakening, I carry the message of hope and love through my actions as I practice these principles in all my affairs.”
By writing this post and giving these principle’s specific and in depth thought, it adds to the long and tedious process of cleaning up a once very polluted thought atmosphere.
This is exactly why I love NA and what it’s doing for me.
At first I was reluctant and skeptical. I’m not a drug addict. I don’t need NA. I’m only here to get back good time. But as I sat in that very first meeting, I realized I needed to change my thinking and seek the good within this program.
My hope is that someone reading this will get something valuable out of it that they can apply to their daily life.
PS – I’d like to give a shout out to my amazing wife, Suzie. Thank you baby for all your hard work and dedication to this blogging thing. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I love you and appreciate you with all my heart. Mwah!
Every meeting starts off the same way. Someone will read the ”INTRODUCTION”. Followed by:
WHO IS AN ADDICT
WHAT IS THE NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS PROGRAM?
WHY ARE WE HERE?
HOW IT WORKS
THE TWELVE TRADITIONS OF NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS
All these readings are on laminated cards scattered among addicts. The text is from the sixth edition book of “Narcotics Anonymous.”
The opening ceremony also includes the Serenity Prayer, followed by a moment of silence to recognize the addicts who still suffer. During this moment of silence, I thought of my old friend, Jessi Phillips.
Jessi wrote me back in the mid 90’s when I was in the county jail facing 43 years in prison. She wrote me a lot at first. But eventually the letters slowed down and then stopped. Little did I know that she was suffering from addiction.
Jessi was a beautiful and kind person who had a desire to work with children. Addiction robbed her of that! She fought her addiction. She had a desire to be clean and sober. But her sickness was too strong. She lost custody of her baby. She lost the trust and respect of her close friends and family. And she lost her life. To addiction!
Throughout her battle, she would have moments of sobriety, and I would get a letter or two from her. Here is the last email I got from her before she relapsed and was murdered by her addiction:
Hello sweet stranger! I received your email. Thank you so much. I’m always so happy when I see you are doing well…. it honestly makes me smile. Life for me has not turned out the way I planned. I never knew addiction would have the power it has had over me but the one thing is that I never stop fighting it though I often lose that battle. My beautiful daughter Madisyn turned 2 on January 17th. I don’t know if you’ve seen pictures but man I don’t know how I produced that gorgeous drop of heaven. I haven’t seen her since October due to the fact that I gave temp custody to my aunt and my visits with her need to be supervised and cost $60 an hour and its messed up that because I didn’t have funds to pay we had to go without seeing one another. My aunt is making it very difficult, I believe to teach me a lesson but she needs to think of Maddi’s needs. I’ve made many mistakes but not in the way I’ve been a mom. So tell me what you are up to? How is life and when the hell are you getting out?
Every time I go to NA meetings, I get something extremely valuable…ADDED PERSPECTIVE! These meetings stimulate me into a deeper level of consciousness. I think about things on a deeper, more indepth level. NA is helping me understand PRIORITIES and what’s really IMPORTANT in life.
*To keep nurturing my mind in a positive manner by continueing to read powerful and influential literature.
*To continue to do what works for me.
*To love everyone.
*To treat everyone with dignity and respect…no matter what.
*To keep going strong down the path of right action.
These are the things I focus on. Life is all about the choices we make. You reap what you sow.
“If you don’t like the situation you’re in, change it! If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
At first I was skeptical about going to NA. I didn’t think I needed it. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to go. But then I changed the way I thought about it. I kept an open mind and approached it with a positive attitude. Now, I actually enjoy these meetings. I appreciate what they offer and how they affect me.
If it wasn’t for NA, none of these ”NA posts” would exist. And that means all the specific thought process that it takes to write these posts, wouldn’t exist. This entire element of NA would be non-existent within my mind.
NA has helped me to grow and evolve as I continue my journey of self-discovery, self-improvement, redemption, and rehabilitation.
I am thankful for all this good. I am thankful for NA. And for my loving wife, Suzie…I am thankful for all her love and devotion. For without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I love you baby! MWAH!!!
When I attended my first NA meeting, I was skeptical. I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t view myself as an addict and I was only there to earn back the 180 days of goodtime I lost for smoking weed back in 1996.
I quickly realized my negative attitude. I knew my thinking was all wrong in that very moment. So I took control of my mind and forced myself to swich gears.
I applied the power of positive thinking.
I opened my mind and gave NA a fair chance.
After I did that, I then created a goal in which I wanted to achieve by attending NA. It was very simple: TO BROADEN MY PERSPECTIVE
This has become more than a goal. It is now a daily theme for me. I am learning to listen to others with empathetic ears. WOW! What a valuable asset.
By doing so, I give myself the opportunity to learn and grow…opposed to when I talk, I’m just repeating things I already know.
Perhaps I’m using this as to why I don’t speak at meetings. I think about talking all the time. But I’m scared! I get nervous. My heart beats faster. And I get very uncomfortable. As a result, I keep my mouth shut.
But it’s only the 5th meeting. I have nothing but time to overcome this fear and one day share with the group.
I bring this up because at this meeting we read from a book called “Just For Today”. The topic was “Being of service to others”.
I feel like my testimonies can perhaps be of value to a select few. I feel like I need to overcome my fear of speaking so I can share with groups of people.
I am inspired to find more ways to serve others. One way would be to speak in front of groups. But until I am ready for that, I can do other things. Such as, I can be super nice to everyone I encounter.
Trust me, easiser said than done! Especially here in prison. But I can do it. I am doing it. And now I am inspired to do it even better.
Because of my goal to BROADEN MY PERSPECTIVE, I realize that my spiritual awakening is progressing beautifully. I realize that I am constantly in the midst of recovery. Therefore; my actions should always reflect that.
My life is my message. Everything I do is part of that message.
Soon I will find the courage to verbally spread my message in front of a group of men, sitting in prison, attending NA. That is what all this is leading up to…finding effective ways to serve as I evolve and grow in my recovery and rehabilitation efforts.
Until next time, love the people around you and be kind. The universe will respond accordingly.
The topic of this meeting was “Recovery & Relapse”.
My issue isn’t with drugs anymore. It’s with treating people with dignity and respect. It’s with keeping my words kind and uplifting. Therefore, when I succeed at this, I view it as a form of RECOVERY from an otherwise destructive and negative lifestyle.
NA has given me cause to stop, and really evaluate my life. Honestly.
In doing so, I see areas of relapse. I don’t always respond to people the way I should. If I don’t stay “razor sharp” focused, I suffer set backs in my recovery. NA is helping me realize this.
The book “Narcotic Anonymous” says in part:
“There is one thing more than anything that will defeat us in our recovery; this is an attitude of indifference or intolerance towards spiritual principals. Three of these that are indispensable are HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS, and WILLINGNESS.” (Ch:4, pg.18)
Those two sentences helped me realize the cause of my relapse. Indifference & Intolerance.
I thought Indifference meant “not seeing eye to eye with someone.”
And I thought Intolerance meant “not having any tolerance towards things/people that annoy me.”
So my vocabularly was a little off. But still, the message hit home.
I realized I’ve been relapsing because I don’t see eye to eye with certain men in here, and I have very little tolerance for their ignorant, stupid ways. And instead of me just walking away, I say something that violates my “Keep Your Speech Impeccable” rule.
I can’t be violating my own rules like that!
I can’t be having these minor relapses.
NA is helping me realize that an accumilation of minor relapses might just be the jarring experience that brings about a more rigorous relapse. Such as me slapping the sh*t outta one of these punks.
Please excuse the language, but that is the truth of the matter.
Just because I have gone long periods of abstinence from violence, doesn’t mean my success is complete.
Everyday presents new challenges. And I am learning that if I have an attitude of indifference towards my spiritual principals, well then that alone puts my recovery in jeopardy.
I am learning to love NA. It is giving me more tools. It is broading my perspective and understanding. It provides fertile ground that promotes growth and recovery…regardless of the addiction/issues.
Just take NA’s guiding principals & philosophies, and apply them to your struggle. Do it with HONESTY, OPEN-MINDEDNESS, and WILLINGNESS. Then sit back and watch the Universe respond. Favorably.
I keep saying how much I love this blog and how it is the best rehabilitative tool I’ve come across. Heres why: Fellowship. Feedback. Accountability.
The more I share, the more my fears slip away. I am learning to be open and honest about everything.
This blog has helped me grow. Growth means change.
It helps with my spiritual maintenance, which is essential to ongoing recovery. It helps me from feeling isolated and alone with the issues I once kept to myself.
The fellowship this blog provides has enabled me to overcome the tendency to run & hide from myself, my feelings, and my dark issues. Such as my past drug use.
So far, through only 3 NA meetings I have realized that when I communicate honestly, I can truly heal. And possibly help others heal as well. That makes me feel good and gives me a strong sense of purpose.
This blog has given me such a wonderful gift. It is a gift that I would like to pay forward to other inmates. If you have a loved one who is locked up, perhaps you can give them the gift of blogging, too.
For more details, please visit Stone City Blog.
Once again, as I sat at this meeting, I struggled to identify with certain aspects.
Such as : “I’m an addict. My life has become unmanagable due to drugs. My entire life revolved around getting drugs and doing drugs.”
This has never been the case with me, yet it is the main theme of NA.
Then I realized that through out my incarceration, I’ve been offered heroin, meth, coke, LSD, weed, alcohol, cold pills, and spice.
It would be so easy for me to say I’ve only smoked a little weed, and I turned down everything else. But that would be a lie! The truth is, over the years, I have tried all the drugs listed above.
Until now I have been lying to myself and others about my drug use. It’s true that I’ve never been addicted to narcotics. I’ve only tried them a few times. Now it’s time to face the facts.
At this NA meeting, two things really stood out to me.
#1) NA is a program with a set of principles written so simply that I can follow them in my daily life.
This stood out to me because I have on my wall a set of principals that I have commited my life to. I call them “MY 7 FOCAL POINTS”. The 4th one says:
TRUTH– Always be honest and tell the truth. Lying is a form of weakness and will only set me back on my journey to self improvement.
As I sat in that meeting and really thought about things, I was actually a little surprised. I was suprised that after all I’ve been through, after all I’ve done, after all I’ve admitted to in “Stone City: Life In The Penitentiary”, that there was still one major thing that I swept under the rug and tried to ignore.
And that is my involvement with drugs and addiction.
Alcohol is a drug!
I am an alcoholic.
I have done a variety of drugs in my past.
I am an addict.
NA has opened my eyes to the truth.
I am now ready to confront my truth and take responsibility for it as I deal with this appropriately. And the first step is to recognize it, admit it, identify it, and embrace it. NA is allowing me to do just that!
The 2nd thing that stood out to me was a saying from a NA book called,”Just For Today” (revised):
“I will open my eyes to the possibilities before me. My potential is as limitless and powerful as the God of my understanding. Today I will act on that potential.”
Those very words have inspired me to write this post and to share my truth. A truth I’ve been hiding for decades! I will embrace my past and use it to make me stronger, wise, and helpful to those who struggle.
This blog is by far the best rehabilitative tool I’ve ever come across.
Thank you for all your support.
Thank you to my family for all the years of unconditional love & support.
And thank you, Suzie. My rock, my world, my everything. The blessings you bring to my world are incredible. You truly are my other half and I love you so much with all my heart!
Back in 1996, I lived with a couple heroin junkies at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wa.
They tried like hell to get me to shoot up that brown liquid syrup. I was offered hundreds of dollars in free dope to “just try it”.
I held my ground and refused. However, I did break weak and smoke some of that icky sticky boom-bonic supersonic chronic. AKA: Weed.
It was only a matter of time before I got caught. My first dirty UA (urine analysis) cost me 180 days of good time.
Thats when I decieded that smoking weed in prison is a bad idea.
To this day I have passed every UA with ease…simply because I don’t use drugs. I’ve been clean and sober for over 10 years.
I’ve never suffered from addiction to narcotics. My problem was alcohol & fighting.
So why NA?
Because my counselor told me I must attend NA for 6 months in order to get back my 180 days of good time.
As I’m sitting in my first meeting, the speaker gives a brief speach as to what NA is and how everyone is to introduce themselves.
He explains that EVERYONE is an addict, regardless of how much they used, what they used, how little they used, or how long they’ve been clean.
The introductions start and goes around the room. When it gets to me I say,”My name is Steven, I’m an addict.”
Those words coming from my mouth didn’t feel right. I immeadiatly start to question wheather or not I want to be here. A negative attitude started to creep.
Because the truth is…I am not an addict. I’m only here because I smoked weed 20 years ago. And these meetings were assigned to me in order to earn back 180 days my good time.
I close my eyes and focus…meditate.
I recognize that NOW is the time I need to control my mind and re-evaluate my thinking. Now is the time to put everything I’ve learned into action.
Thoughts are things. And different thoughts create types of manifestation. If I’m negative, I’ll recieve negativity. If I put nothing in, I’ll get nothing out. My perception is my reality.
So right then and there, I changed my mindset. I did away with the compulsive thinking that was leading down a path of negativity. And I replaced it with positive thinking.
Such as : “These meetings CAN help me and assist me in my rehabilitative efforts.”
I came up with a goal : To Broaden My Perspective
I flipped open the big blue book in front of me. It’s called, “Narcotic Anonymous (sixth edition)”
As I read through the table of contents I realized I could identify with alot of what I was reading. Especially if I substitute a word or two.
On pg 15, it says, “We can no longer blame people, places, or things for our addictions. We must face our addictions and our feelings.” (I substituted the word “addiction” for “problems”)
I like the philosophies and principals that NA represents. I will use this program to broaden my perspective as I focus on issues within my life that I need to overcome.
And so far, it’s working!
I’ve overcome the “My name is Steven, and I’m an addict” thingy.
I’m focused on the positive opportunities that NA offers. All I have to do is attend with an open mind and a positive attitude. From there, everything else will work out the way it should.