In keeping with Zak's wish that these chronicles help you know a little more about me, I want this time to write about something I'm doing now instead of about long long ago. For a while now I have been spending Tuesday afternoons at the White County jail talking one on one with inmates who are looking for help in dealing with their alcohol and /or drug problems. I'm not a psychologist or licensed addictions counselor or anything like that, simply an alcoholic who has been in recovery for a long time. In the parlance of the recovery program that saved my life, I am trying to "share the experience, strength and hope" that I have found to help others. Talking with these, mostly young, men does a great deal for me. The feedback that I get from them and other people associated with the jail says they are benefiting as well. My hope, of course, is that I will play a part in their beginning a lifelong recovery from their addiction. What I know is happening is that I am getting the opportunity to give back something, no matter how small, in exchange for the multitude of blessings/gifts that recovery has granted to me.
Those blessings and gifts are the core of what I talk about in these sessions. I know it is useless to tell these guys, "You should do this," or "You should do that." Instead, I try to tell them what I have done to overcome my addiction to alcohol and what the rewards have been. Rewards such as: I am still married; your grandmother and I just celebrated our 38th anniversary. It is not possible that she would have continued to put up with me the way I was when I was drinking. Thanks to recovery, I have a positive relationship with your dad and his brothers. They even sometimes ask for my opinion or advice. I was able to finish a thirty year working career at Caterpillar so that I now have a comfortable retirement. Last but not least, I have not died of some alcohol related cause. I surely would have been dead years ago if I had not found recovery.
Talking about the benefits of recovery will, I hope, encourage the guys I'm talking with to continue their own efforts to recover. I know it helps me to appreciate the life that I now have. I embrace life the same way that someone who has survived a life threatening disease or near fatal accident does. Every day is a gift and every smile and friendly word a reward. I love the life I have now and am grateful every day for the blessings that I have been given.
Of course I hope that none of you ever have need of a recovery program. On the other hand, I would love for you to be able to see the world as I do.