2 Out of 17 Isn’t Bad?

VINCE

I learned early this morning from a guy that went through boot camp and graduated a month earlier than I, that two of my squad-mates aren’t doing very well.  One of them I’ve known has been on the wanted fugitive list for a few days now, but the other is now in jail.  For what, I can’t be certain.  But I know that I’m not in jail, and I’ve been following the rules.  I can’t think of anything that would make me want to do something that would send me back.  But there were many times in my life where I wish I would have followed the right path.

When I was 18, I was arrested for my first felony. I walked into the Schwinn bicycle shop off of Snelling and University avenues in St. Paul with the intention of stealing a bike that I could sell for cash, and eventually weed.  Something I did fairly regularly back in the 1900’s.  Unfortunately, when I took the bike that I wanted down from the display and rode out the door, I had some troubles with the gear shifter and I barely made it across the street before being tackled down by a store employee, and humiliatingly taken back into the store to await the police.  I’ve written about this incident before, so I’ll skip ahead to the part where I was sentenced to one year of Project Remand. It is an opportunity for first time felons to basically be good for a year to have the felony knocked down to a misdemeanor.  Sounds easy right?

Well, the first directive I was given was to enter an in-patient treatment center in St. Paul called Twin Town.  At some point during the arrest, I made a remark about me using marijuana recreationally.  So I packed a bag and entered my first of 4 treatment centers.  I knew I didn’t want to be there.  Oh if only I could have seen the future.

I got my first taste of group therapy. They were all real addicts, not like me, because all I did was smoked weed (and did acid and mushrooms, but only once in a while!) and I didn’t get into trouble for using, right?  Well, these people did all sorts of things that I hadn’t done (yet).  And in three or four short days I was asked to leave the facility, which I did.

When I got back home I called my probation officer and told her that I had been kicked out.  She actually said it wasn’t a big deal, and that I could simply continue to follow the rest of the rules and still be okay.  Can you believe that?  So I stayed drug free for a few weeks until one of my friends told me that they didn’t test for alcohol.  Minutes later I opened my first of many beers to come in my lifetime.  I successfully passed all of my drug tests for a couple months, but the urge to get high was powerful and I started smoking weed for a couple weeks after every U.A., but eventually I went back to full time.  I stopped showing up for my probation meetings, and stopped taking the drug tests, and of course shortly after that the warrant came out, another first of many.

I was arrested up north in Crow Wing County for my first D.U.I. and they held me there for a week until St. Paul came and got me.  When I saw the judge about the felony, he was very kind in staying the adjudication but put me on regular probation for three years.  And because I clearly had troubles staying clean, he ordered me to outpatient treatment.  I never showed up.  I just kept using.  They gave me so many chances but I just couldn’t do it.  I didn’t know it then, but I had become powerless over my addictions.  My life had become unmanageable. And I was just warming up. In the end I was on some form of probation for that charge for almost a decade, but they actually did move it down to a misdemeanor.  Win!

I don’t think I would have listened to my future self had I been able to go back to try to save me, I was going to do whatever I wanted to do.  It may have taken a lot longer than it should have, but I am finally on the right road again.  I’ve wasted away many years, but I can redeem myself by sticking to the script, listening to my agents, going to meetings, and making forward progress.  I’m starting to enjoy life again, and there’s plenty of time  left for me.

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