It was not the first time I had ever walked through electric doors
and motorized gates that shut with a loud slam
that sounded like a loud exclamation point,
which exclaimed about the absence of freedom.
Also, it was not the first time that I was escorted
or led through a hallway yet this time,
everything was different.
This time, I was walking through the hallways
and moving through the corridors to a specific wing
and led to a place in a correctional facility
as a specialist and/or quite possibly
I was not here on a mandatory stay.
There was no jumpsuit on my body or cuffs around my wrist.
I was not here as a hostage or being held against my will.
I was not here in a voluntary exchange of
a committed crime which took away my freedom;
but more, although like the others, I was here because
“I put myself here.”
Instead and unlike the others behind the walls,
I was here for a different reason
I was not here as a convict or a crook or whichever
or whatever words we used to describe someone
who broke the law. And more,
I was not here to judge or condemn
nor was I here to prosecute or to debate the laws
or defend the powers that be.
I did not have a motive
Or, an angle. . .
I say this and although I stood there,
in all honesty, there were people in the same room with me
who had a motive. They had an angle.
They had their opinions and their lifestyles
which, in their mind, it was clear
what they were and were not willing to do to either change,
achieve success, or to come to an understanding
of what the word “recovery” means to them.
Yes, I stand a bit differently
than some of the typical recovery models.
I do not specify any recovery or designate to a dogmatic approach
or say “this way is the only way,”
because I have learned, first hand,
that it is impossible for me to say what works
for anyone else, besides myself.
Rather than the so-called mandated 12-step models,
which I was brought up with or told to do, or die,
I decided to learn more about mental health.
I decided to learn more about the mind
and why the mind attaches itself
to certain passions
that drive us towards certain desires.
Better yet, I decided to take one of the most popular
suggestions and with that;
I decided to “keep it simple.”
It was early morning –
my first jail program.
I entered into a county jail and went through the process
of being checked in. I had to put my things in a locker
and, of course, I had to walk through a metal detector
and then I walked towards the wing,
N4, towards the DRC or AKA
Drug Rehabilitation Center.
Sure, I was faced with questions.
I was challenged. I was pressed to see
what my answers would be. But I was also honest.
I never claimed to be the biggest or baddest son of a bitch
or anything like that.
To some of the people, or to use the typical stigmatized term,
some of the inmates were true to the stereotype
and, to them, some of them were open with their opinion of me
and some of them were openly defiant.
I wasn’t there to win anyone over.
No. I was here to do my own research.
I was here for myself . . .
See, I am no better or worse.
I am, perhaps, only one decision away
from someone who has to sit behind bars.
I am, perhaps, only one circumstance away
from making a life choice that further, altered my life,
and in the spiral of self-destruction,
I do not claim to be better or worse,
smarter, luckier, or anything other than this –
I’m a person in this world
who is capable of great mistakes; as such,
I am a person who wants to learn
about the way we think and the way we feel.
I am a specialist, or, so the credential says;
I am an advocate. I am a coach,
or, someone can say that I am a person in recovery too.
Am I an expert?
Is anyone an expert?
The only thing I am an expert at is being me –
And, if we are being honest,
this is the best that anyone can say.
But me – I don’t say anything like this
I don’t talk about being an expert
or being a “professional.”
I hate the term, “motivational speaker.”
That’s not me.
I am not a clinician. I am not a therapist.
If anything, I am a grassroots brand of recovery
because, to be clear, I am tired of what I see.
I don’t like the banter back and forth
of who’s who or who knows better.
I say we are on the losing end of a lifelong battle
and meanwhile, people are dying – so rather than argue
about who’s equipped to fight back,
I figure it’s best to just get in the trenches
and fight back myself.
I am not a fan of the belittling which I see in this world.
I am not a fan of a social hierarchy.
I am not here, looking to gain my merit badge
and, to be clear, if I’m being honest,
I have never been passionate about anything in my life.
To be clear, I live with lifelong depression
and lifelong anxiety disorders. I have social phobias.
I hate crowds. I hate public speaking.
I am deathly afraid and insecure of people
to the point
where I experience
bouts of nausea
and nearly vomit sometimes.
No one believes me when I say this.
But I’m not here to be believed or not
because in the case of me and my truths,
I know exactly who I am –
I was never passionate about anything.
I never thought that I was exceptionally good at anything
nor did I believe that in the circle of life,
I would find my place
where I was not only comfortable with what I do,
but comfortable with who I am.
I never thought that I would be “happy” per se
because I’m not necessarily sure that I knew what happiness is.
But I know what insecurity is.
I know what imposter syndrome is.
I know all about rejection-sensitive dysphoria.
I know what discomfort feels like (to me) and
I know all about fear and phobias
and the irrational concepts of the mind
which, if gone unaddressed,
I would have done nothing else but live my life
with the world at an arm’s distance.
I’d have gone on forever
with no one close to me, no one to know me,
and in this state of perpetual lonesomeness,
I would only understand that different degrees of isolation,
self-destructive, suicidal ideations or otherwise,
if all of this was to go on, unaddressed,
all I would ever know
is my personal awkwardness.
I suppose in my efforts to heal
or to return the divots I have left in this world,
I chose to learn from the ground up; thus,
from the ground up, I chose to understand
more about the thought machine and the way with think
so that I could understand more about the way we feel,
the way we behave, how we react
I wanted to learn about our preemptive moves
and subconscious decisions
that always paint us in the same corners.
Someone told me –
I hope you don’t expect to save anybody in there.
I was told –
You know, you can’t help them all.
I was told –
Some people are beyond help.
Maybe all of the above was true.
Maybe if I thought along those lines,
maybe I would have quit before I began.
Maybe the people who said this to me
were only saying this to me from their own personal experiences.
Maybe this was due to their bias
or due to their experiences of offering help, lending some trust,
and then being burned in the end.
“You know, they’re not going to tell you the truth.”
In fairness, no one ever lied to me when I was in jail.
They might have lied to themselves
and told their lies to me.
But this was on them, not me.
By the way, I have seen more honesty inside jailhouses
than I have in boardrooms. Adversely,
I have met more crooks in so-called Corporate America
than I did when I ran my program in the county jail . . .
I am still in search of what I want to do with my life.
I am still redefining my future
and searching for that magic ingredient
which will allow me to build my dream
and allow my drive to fuel my passion.
And yeah, maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m fighting a pointless battle.
Maybe I’m an underdog because I have to go up against
overly-engineered programs and overly-priced and
educated professionals who told me,
“Stay in your lane, kid.”
or go elsewhere
We don’t need you here . . .
I’m not saying anything about being right or wrong.
I never do.
All I say is that I want to find a way to help people
the same as someone helped me.
I also say it’s a hard fight to win.
I also say that it’s hard to earn a living like this
won’t always pay a lot of money for you to help someone.
They might spend a fortune to see you hurt someone –
but to help someone?
Not so much.
Well, this is me.
I’m here, regardless of all the people who told me
that I was crazy or out of my mind
especially if I thought that anything I would come up with
could make a difference.
But . . .
Every so often, I see something on social media.
Every so often I see someone reach a goal,
like, say, meeting their real father,
and at last, having a relationship with him.
Or becoming a father to a new child
and being there clean, sober and happy –
Maybe you can’t help them all.
Or, maybe I can’t help anyone
What I can do is open the mind to a thought
which can trigger an idea, which can lead to a plan,
which can help someone to think better,
to feel better, so that they could perform better and essentially
or finally – now, they can live better too.
If I do nothing else in my life –
I can say that I did this,
at least once.
But who knows?
Maybe it’s more