In Recovery Since 8/15/2001
I will never forget that bus ride. It was in the middle of August, the windows were all down with the hot summer air whistling through the bus, but even that did not quell the screaming and yelling from the front to the back of the bus and to the front again. The odor of stale cigarette smoke and poor personal hygiene was nothing short of rancid. I was on my way to prison…and I reflected: “How did I get here?”. While I grew up in a stable home with two loving parents, I was always shy and socially awkward. At the age of 14, I tried alcohol for the first time, and it set me free. I continued to pursue that freedom into harder and harder drugs until I ultimately lost my freedom, not once but three times. Today things are different, and I find myself reflecting again: “How did I get here?” You see, today with over 20 years in recovery I feel as though I am living the dream. I am happily married to my wonderful wife, I am the Executive Director of one of the most successful reentry programs in the state, I am faculty in the School of Social Work at Mizzou, and I get to take several wonderful vacations each and every year. I have wonderful friends and people actually want to be around me. So, the answer to the question is quite simple – RECOVERY! Upon release from prison this last time I went to at least a meeting a day for over a year. While I did not realize it at the time, I was also aggressively building Recovery Capital in my life by enrolling in college, reuniting with family, joining a church, training for, and running marathons, engaging in volunteer activities, and spending meaningful time with friends and OTHERS IN RECOVERY. As a prior-persistent violent offender people often ask what made the difference for me. I think its key for me to always remember that there is no one thing that made the difference. Instead, recovery I have found is the culmination of countless little things that take place in the context of community. The solution for me today is simple; get up, brush my teeth, and put one foot in front of the other.