16 days to go...
If I was to start from the beginning, I was raised by my grandparents. Both did the best they could with what they themselves had been taught. I love them dearly. Problem was they hadn't been taught very well. Grandma had a habit of picking a favorite. The favorite could do nothing wrong, the other one was just out of luck. I just happened to not be the favorite. She had a certain cunning toward mental and physical prowess. I wouldn't dare call it abuse compared to the complete beat down you would get from grandfather once she had him coming at you in a blind fury. A means to an end for him. A temporary reprieve from the resentment. If I did it...it would come. If I didn't do it...it would come.
I remember being up in my bedroom standing in front of my mirror and punching myself as hard as I could. That was normal. Good and bad were confusing to me. But fear, this I understood. Somewhere down the line I was told that I shouldn't have to live like this. A plan was put into place for me to run. I followed it.
At this point, I had learned two things: Fear and how to run from it. So, this is exactly what I did for the next eight years: from foster homes to group homes...from group homes to detention facilities. During these chain of events I ended up at my mother's. Due to the circumstances which led up to my arrival, I never really felt I belonged. That and my presence seemed to be a constant reminder of my mother's guilt for having signed me away to begin with. I never blamed her. That type of feeling was too complex for me at that age. But, it didn't stop the atmosphere surrounding us to always be shrouded by these emotions.
Fear of acceptance equaled running for me, so I hit the streets again. And it was at this time that I had my first run in with what would later be recognized as my new way of coping. Mine came in the form of an aluminum gas can. The ones that had the air breather on the top. You would open them while pouring to allow the flow of gas to go freely. I had mine set up a little different. A rag wrapped around the nozzle, my finger covering the air breather. I would suck those fumes in as hard as I could, hearing the can indent with every inhale. Then, when I couldn't seem to get anymore breaths...right at this precise moment, I would release my finger...WHOOSH...the world was a better place.
I took that can everywhere I went, huffing all the way. I would huff day and night, pass out, awake and huff again. This behavior didn't go unnoticed.
After awhile, the concern got to the point where my mother sought out the person whom had introduced me to my new utopia. Now this was "my guy." I mean he had given me the greatest gift ever, right? So, of course I listened to him. He let me know about the possible dangers associated with huffing gas. He told me, although it was rare, that I could possibly die. But no matter what, I needed to think about lead poisoning. I took this pretty serious.
As soon as we were done, I rounded up about 15 cents and I went to the gas station. I rinsed out my can best that I could with a nickel...and added the other 10 cents in UNLEADED! Dying was one thing, but living with lead poisoning was something I didn't want to do!
Looking back, this was my first run in with ADDICTION. And a run it has surely been.
The next 30 some years brought more of the same: substitute one fear for another, one drug for another, one county jail for another, one state prison for another and one fed bit under my belt. Man could I run!
14 days to go...
August 26, 2016 my home was raided. Before I knew it, my family was homeless and I was on the run. As the story always goes, I was soon arrested and facing multiple charges. I was denied release at my detention hearing, but the selective intelligence of the addict persisted. I studied, filed my own papers, and was eventually released to a halfway house pending my trial.
Now, here is where I could bore you with all the ups and downs and who, what, when, and where's, but I won't. The main ingredient in this recipe is the fact that, while at this halfway house I had to hit two particular meetings a week. The meetings, as such, were only an hour long each, but within the confines and "etiquette" of the house, it would end up taking double that time. Once again, my brilliance shone through. I could cut my time in half if I attended these meetings outside the house itself. This was my introduction to Narcotics Anonymous.
As of today, I have 1 year, 2 months, and 8 days CLEAN! And, I am reasonably happy most of the time. Of course this didn't just happen to me all of a sudden. There was a lengthy and sometimes crazy process that took place. In case all of you had forgotten already...my house had been raided over a year ago. As I write this little story, I am doing so knowing that on February 13th of 2018, I will be turning myself in to the Federal Court System. Pleading guilty to charges that carry a mandatory 10 years in prison. And a maximum of LIFE!!! And the miracle is that I am writing this CLEAN! Not only am I clean, but I have found a new way to live and I love it!
I got me a sponsor, I walked those steps, and I have had a good time doing it. I had some struggles along the way, but "JUST FOR TODAY," has seen me through. Looking back, I would do it no other way! I have spent the last 14 months with my family! Not on the run and in the streets chasing the vicious cycle of my addiction. Instead, I chased the promise of recovery set forth in our N.A. literature! I have raced go carts with our new N.A. Family, sang karaoke with them and performed what I like to calling dancing. All the while CLEAN!
Parts of my life...the fun parts...which I thought were owned by my addiction, were revealed to me with full access. And I remember every single moment!
So, I will bring this to a conclusion with the following as my message to the addict that still suffers: If I, full well knowing that I am going to prison for a minimum of 10 years at 85%, write this to you now, and do so reasonably happy...well, then SO CAN YOU! Our message is this: “... that an addict, any addict, can stop using drugs, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live."
Thanks to ALL of you who have helped me on this journey. I LOVE YOU!!!
Dennis Cockerham 2018