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Learning How To Become A Productive Member Of Society Again
July 10th, 2019: I’m being escorted out of a police car and into the ‘booking area’ of a jail in central Washington. I’d been drinking the entire day, and was well on my way to Seattle. I stopped in Ellensburg to ‘top up’, before getting pulled over by a local sheriff.
July 11th, 2019: Wake up in a room that’s smaller than your living room. Bunk beds are stacked throughout, and I’m in clothes I don’t recognize. I look around and evaluate my surroundings, realizing the situation I’m in. Roll over and go back to bed.
July 12, 2019: “You are being charged with a DUI”, the judge tells me. I’m still at a loss for words, confused how I ever ended up in this situation. “Not guilty”, I respond….Knowing full well I’m guilty as sin.
I spent 89 days in the jail located in central Washington. It was not comfortable by any stretch of the imagination, and I have plenty of stories I could share, but this isn’t the article for it. I tried spending my time as ‘wisely’ as possible. I read for multiple hours a day, worked, and kept to myself. Despite trying to maintain ‘control’ of my environment, I was constantly ordered around and limited on choices. I complied, kept my head down, and was respectful to officers and inmates. I never had a problem with anyone and was considered the ‘voice of reason’ in my block.
I appreciated the structure and routine and learned to love it. I woke up at the same time every day (which I still do now), ate, and ‘prepared’ for my day. When my time was up….I felt scared, sad, and nervous.
October 8th, 2019: Despite serving my 89 days, I was transported to the jail in eastern Washington where I live. I spent an additional 2 days here, before finally being released. When I was allowed my freedom, it was 3:00 am, and I was confused, frustrated, and out of my ‘routine’.
I walked down the road, doing my best to absorb the situation I currently found myself in. I took time to breathe the fresh air, look up at the night sky, and absorb the cold chill of the early morning.
Buildings looked foreign to me, cars were abstract, anyone I happened to pass by I considered a possible ‘foe’. I was lost and confused, but slowly making my way toward home.
October 9th, 2019: I arrived at my apartment and felt scared and confused. What is this environment? Why don’t I recognize anything? I was familiar with my surroundings, but nothing seemed right. Where are the sweaty dudes, where are the screams? I knew what everything looked like, but it all seemed different….uncomfortable. Locked doors made me uncomfortable at this point, and every door inside was left ajar.
When the sun rose I went outside and walked….and walked….and walked. I was taking everything in, but constantly on guard. I purchased a newspaper, sat down at Starbucks, and sipped coffee. I can’t remember what I read, because I was constantly looking over my shoulder, watching who came in, and clutching my cup. I was desperately trying to recreate what I became normally used to.
Every day moving forward was slightly different, slightly less uncomfortable. I was learning how to acclimate back into ‘normal society. My “reentry” into the general public was awkward and difficult. Learning to trust again, not being constantly on guard, and understanding that I’m ‘free’ came slowly but surely.
I still think about my experience in central Washington. When I wake up now, I thank God that I didn’t hurt anyone physically from my poor decision-making. I still pay for my poor choice as I write this, but I now know and feel like I’m accepted into society. I write almost daily and still battle the ‘demon’ of alcohol. Every day is a gift, and I realize that with every breath I take.