Happy Sunday, everyone.
I ended my last post, Faces of Addiction, Part 3, at the point in my life which had me in serious trouble. I was looking at a felony drug charge and up to a few years of prison time. The fear I experienced in knowing that was not enough to keep me sober for even hours after leaving the detention center.
As I waited for my inevitable court date, stuck in the disease of addiction, I had zero chance of staying sober. I denied the charges against me and informed my lawyer I'd be pleading not guilty. She said they'd offer me a deal that would leave 366 days of prison time suspended and a stay of adjudication, removing the felony from my record altogether. All I had to do was stay sober and out of trouble for three years on probation. I still denied and asked to move forward with my not guilty plea. She asked me, "So when they send those bags to the lab to test for fingerprints, yours won't show up?"
My attitude quickly changed and I agreed to take the deal, though I'd still claim I was not guilty and that I only agreed to plead guilty to get the case over with. Besides, all I needed to do was stay out of trouble for a few years. Better yet, in my analytical mind, I really only had to stay sober for 12 days each year. You see, the drugs and alcohol I used leave the body in 72 hours, and our probation meetings were scheduled a year out, so I simply had to plan to stay sober for the three days prior to each meeting. 12 days. Per year. I didn't stand a chance.
I failed to show up for my sentencing date, instead drinking into a state of oblivion. Another warrant was issued. I was good at running. I turned myself in as drunk and high as a human can get, something that was the norm when I had to face those warrants.
They decided I should sit 30 days in jail for my failure to obey the judge's orders. I left jail that time knowing I was done. I walked past my cousin Jen as I walked out, and as she did every time, she said, "Jas, you gotta get it right this time." And as I always did, I told her this was the time. That was at 8am. By 9am, I was on the doorstep of the liquor store waiting for it to open. Oblivion again. I was sooooo sincere and serious this time....
It was then that I knew my life was over. There was no hope. Every time I got my hopes up, I was drunk or high within hours, with no conscious thought of what I was doing. Why? How? Those were the deep questions I asked myself as I thought through my life and what it could have been. Oblivion was better than those thoughts, and that's where I went.
I made it through the first year of probation meetings without having to take a single drug test. Then came the meeting that changed the trajectory of my addiction. The drug tests were there and a box was checked on each person's paperwork that was to be tested. I waited in line to see if I was one of them, jumping inside my skin. It was. I did what I did best and ran. My buddy drove off as fast as he could. The grace of God and a moment of clarity told me to go back.
When I got back, the officer knew. He told me to do myself a favor and sign the paper stating I'd fail the test. "You need to go get an assessment done." I escaped jail that day, went to the assessment office and scheduled an appointment, as the assessor was gone. Three days later, I was to complete the assessment. I never made it back. I never made it to another probation meeting. I never made it to my probation violation court date. I ran for the next year. I didn't go far - I stayed in Owatonna, where I had been all along. I guess the one positive about being homeless, jobless, car-less, and everything else-less is they didn't know where to find me.
I'm certain that year was the most painful I've ever experienced, and probably ever will. I was constantly in fear of being found, thinking that each day that passed was only adding to my eventual prison sentence. I lived with so much fear, worry, shame, anxiety and depression that only very large amounts of drugs and alcohol combined could stop me from a complete meltdown. I woke most mornings searching for the vodka bottle on the floor that had something left, but often found only empties. I was sick until I found drugs to bring me back to life. I had nothing, and that meant to feed the monster that was controlling my life, I had to do some terrible things to many people and places, even those that loved me the most. The worst part was knowing it would all end.
There were only two outcomes to that end - being caught and locked up, or dying. I wished for the latter. I can't recall how many times I got behind the wheel of a vehicle, extremely intoxicated, and drove as fast as the car would allow, asking that if God was real, He give me the strength to turn the wheel just one time. I couldn't wake up and do another day of life. Yet the car always made it back, and I continued to wake to the next day, full of more terror than the previous.
It was the summer of 2010. Most days I couldn't use my hands to hold a cup, couldn't think about eating without throwing up, and was curled up on a chair begging for more drugs or alcohol. By the time my body consumed enough alcohol to feel relief, I got more sick from the amount I consumed. 23 years old and dying inside and out. There was nothing anyone could do to help. And somehow, it would get worse. Stay tuned for the final "Face of Addiction" next week; my last encounter with the demons of addiction.
Wishing for peace and love for all who need it,