So it is the child’s fault. No; that is not why I bought you here. It is your fault. I am giving you an answer I found after I sat down and had that talk, and after I participated in groups and spoke to counselors, and after I had some time away from those behaviors I had practiced and achieved some clarity. And I started these particular verses out say we are not all alike, and we are not. I do not know what led you to where you are. I do not know your circumstances. What I do know is that we do have similarities. There are common areas we can explore, learn from each other about, identify with and there is hope in that, because if there were no common ground we would be lost.
Common ground: The human experience; addictive behaviors and substances, past abuse, anger issues, prison time, jail time, psychiatric hospital time, time on the streets, coming from a large family, coming from an abusive home, being sexually molested… The things I have listed are only a list. It is to illustrate what you can write about yourself. This is a way to find common ground and in my experience common ground is important.
I opened my eyes one morning and saw the familiar institutional color of the wall next to me and knew there would be a cell door of some type before I ever turned my head. After I looked, for a very long time I laid there and cried: I did not know what I had done on the surface; it was all lost at that point and some of it I was keeping myself from acknowledging, but I knew that once again I was in a county jail and I was feeling sorry for myself, not for my actions, for myself.
Days slipped by, weeks, and I came to know what I was accused of but I did not believe it because I had no memory of it: Convenient, maybe, bad if it is the truth and in my case it was. I said way back at the beginning of this that honesty is the only way to reach the goal of living in the world instead of dealing with the world, and that is true. As the weeks slipped by I began to acknowledge the fact that I did have some memories and although they were only partial they supported what I was accused of. I also realized that no one would believe me no matter what I said. Not about what I had done, but if I said I wanted change. That fear kept me undecided, but the truth is it doesn’t matter who believes you. No one has to believe you and if you have lived a life of deceit and lies, most likely no one will. This is a personal journey. There are no passengers on this train. It is that simple. You have to decide to tell the truth and live by that knowing full well there may be few people who believe you or believe in you. If you cannot do that you are setting yourself up for failure. The common ground came after I admitted the truth to myself. I felt isolated. Who was like me; who could help me, what should I do next?
Next was a drug and alcohol meeting where men and women came in from the outside and talked to the inmates. They held them on the weekend and so I had to give up church to attend. Church was I was doing my best to persuade God to help me. Could I afford to take a day off of talking God into helping me? Don’t get me wrong. God can do miracles, but I have never seen God set a drug addict or alcoholic, or both on their feet in one setting. That is because we aren’t quite sure about God and what God can or cannot do. We have lied all of our lives maybe God lies too. You can convince yourself of anything.
I went to the meeting expecting absolute salvation and deliverance from drugs and alcohol in one setting and then the judge would hear this and release me and I would get a real job and enter smoothly into the real world, the world the straight people, the squares lived in and life would go on forever so happily, and I would be so grateful: All bull. I also went there thinking this is a waste of time. I went. I had to sign up for it and so I was on the callout and they cracked my cell; I got in line and I went.
The speaker was so-so. He talked about drinking, losing his wife and home and job. I listened but it meant little to me. Then he said, let me introduce you to two men who have been down some of the roads you have. Something like that; I paraphrased it, but I’m pretty sure I got it right since it was a very important day in my life.
The two men came up looking embarrassed to be there, same as I would have been; a little overweight, normal, not super stars, not polished like the counselors always seemed to be, but real people. They had my attention because of that and here is why: I had heard they were beginning, in counseling and mental health facilities, to use ex addicts, ex alcoholics, people who had been abused and others that understood the situation because they had been in it rather than people who had gone to school and really did not have a clue what it was like to turn a trick, or score some crack, meth, hustle, sleep in a doorway. That impressed me, and it impressed me because these were men like me: Men that had looked into the eyes of the same monster I had been staring at for years and had managed to look away.
As they talked I found I believed what they had to say. They spoke the same language I understood, and as they went on one of the men began to tell a story and I realized I knew that story. Not that it sounded familiar, but that I knew it. I knew it because I was one of the people in it., That man told a story about me when I was younger. He was talking about his own circumstances, but he described it so well that I knew it was that time and place from my past. The year, the time of night, the place and the crowd of kids that was there. I was one of those kids. In fact I was the one that was showing out the most the way I always did to impress the people around me, to be noticed, to get attention and a funny thing: I could not remember a single name of any of those others I was with that night, or much about them, but I remembered the one guy who was now talking in that concrete block room in the county jail, his circumstances and that night, that place perfectly well.
That was all I needed: The beginning of the end for me; I believed him. I believed his recovery; his transfer back to society, how he learned to be a man. How he put the past behind him. Not covered it up, but let it go, dealt with the consequences and began to live. He finished and asked if anyone else wanted to share and I found my hand shooting up and he called on me. I froze: I knew what this moment was and what it could mean. I stopped and thought; I really thought and then I spoke. I told him who I was and what I was there for, accused of, and then I admitted I did it, broke down and thanked him for his story and what it gave me.
When I finished I thanked him again and although a few guys had tried to make me see reason; that criminal moral code reason, never be honest, he had encouraged me to speak and I had. You never saw so many guys reaching for pencils to write down what I said, but they had none. You cannot bring anything to those meetings. When we got back I saw those same guys calling their lawyers, looking to trade information on me for a deal. For a second I panicked, but my resolve was good. I did not know what this new road was, but I was on it. I had found my common ground.