Tag Archives: veterans

In Recovery:  Part 6 Brockton II

Special Note: I use lots of pictures, videos, animations, flipbooks, and other cool layouts and features which can be best appreciated by reading this post on my blog. Mobile View will not give you the very best experience.

Get The Full Experience Here

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPart 6: Brockton II
In Recovery Brockton Reach
Smoking Area Behind Brockton VA Reach Building
Welcome Back Legal System
Brockton Trial Court

Not only was I dealing with different kinds of medications to treat my PTSD and Bipolar Disorder, but when I went to check in with the Probation Department at the dreaded Brockton Courthouse, I was in for a little surprise. Seems that when I first got out of jail in mid-October, I was supposed to check-in with Probation. Well, I had not. There was a warrant for my arrest waiting for me!

I explained to two different officials that I was whisked away to a VA Treatment facility. One official was sympathetic, the other official wanted to throw me in jail until monday (it was the weekend).

Thank god that the official who wanted to allow me to simply clear it up on monday prevailed. If you have ever been to court and waited to see if you were going to jail or not, then you know how very stressful that waiting can be.

Legal Consequences of Alcoholism

After clearing up the misunderstanding with the court, I sat down with my probation officer, who outlined the consequences of my OUI and bogus Domestic Abuse convictions:

  • Total Fines, Fees, Penalties: $2,835.08
  • Loss of License: 1 year
  • Probation Time: 2 years – including weekly check-ins with a probation officer
  • Batterers Classes: 45 at $30 a pop
  • Suspended Sentence Still Looming: 1.5 years

Thankfully, the requirement to do 45 sessions of Alcohol Abuse classes was discharged, because of all the treatment time I had under my belt.

However, and as you can see, the fallout from alcoholism can be dramatic. The worst of it was that I had to attend classes with convicted “batterers” for 45 sessions! And pay for that privilege! Absolutely ridiculous. More on that in later installments of In Recovery.

My Worldly Possessions

Before I went to jail, I had escaped from the violent drunk who I lived with. I had been hospitalized on a Sunday in early April for a supposed suicide attempt while I was drunk. It was a suicide attempt, it was me acting out so I could get into a program.

Some of My Few Belongings

Well, on Tuesday morning I was driven by ambulance to the psychiatry department at the VA. They wanted to intern me there as an inpatient for evaluation for 60 days! I managed to explain to the head psychiatrist there the true nature of my situation at home. With assurances that I meet with my own psychiatrist on Thursday, I was released.

I immediately went to my friend at the car dealership and begged him to use a dealership vehicle so I could get my things out of the psychos house. After agreeing, I had only about 1.5 hours before she would get home from work.

I grabbed anything and everything I could get, and was allowed to store it in the attic of the old dealership. Anyway, while I was in the REACH program, I was told I had to get it all out of there pronto.

When I did go to get my stuff, it had been rifled through! All that was left was about three or four boxes of random belongings. It wasn’t like I had packed a lot of things up there; however, many of the things I had packed there were now gone. Still, I was glad to have more clothing and some of the belongings with me.

Time Spent Wisely

As I progressed through the program’s three different levels, I spent lots of timing productively. In the mornings I would meditate. I got to the point when I could meditate for 45 minutes to an hour. It help ground me for the day, and helped me to minimize triggers and what have you.

Blogging with vim and vigor; sometimes for hours at a time. Some of the counselors would approach me and ask me if they thought all the time on the computer was beneficial to my recovery. I simply would say “Would you rather I spend my evenings with everyone else, staring blankly at the t.v.?” Once they saw that the blog was primarily centered on recovery and wellness, they pretty much left me alone.

My recovery was greatly enhanced by bleeding my heart into my blog: was devoted to trying to use my blog as a means of helping others in recovery. And those still struggling with addiction. On retrospect, I can see where I did take it slightly to the extreme. I was not interested in making friends and small talk. I just wasn’t that kind of person.

And there were many, many walks upon the Brockton VA grounds. It’s a fascinating world of serene nature mixed in with old and new buildings of all different shapes and sizes. I walked quite a bit during my time there. Nature has always been my escape.

Finally, I got caught up with taking photographs (as you may know if you read Part 6: Brockton I), and editing them in various apps. When I wasn’t working my CWT position, or in various treatment sessions and classes, I would just take and manipulate pictures. These became the basis of my Instagram and Pinterest pages.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Coming Soon: Recovery, CWT, Rebecca in:

Part 6: Brockton III

In Recovery:  Part 6 Brockton I

Special Note: I use lots of pictures, videos, animations, flipbooks, and other cool layouts and features which can be best appreciated by reading this post on my blog. Mobile View will not give you the very best experience.

Get The Full Experience Here

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPt. 6: Brockton II
VA on Recoverywise
Domiciliary At Brockton VA Still In Use From Civil War Era
Treatment At VA Brockton Reach

I was in the recovery program at the VA in Brockton Massachusetts from December 15, 2016-April 24, 2017. Less than a mile from the House of Horrors I shared with a violent, alcoholic ex from 2013-2016, it was more than a little depressing at first being there. Housed in a hospital-type dormitory, though it was much less antiseptic than a traditional hospital.

My Room At Reach

The Brockton Reach Program is designed to equip Veterans with the tools and skills needed to overcome homelessness. The cornerstone of the program is Compensated Work Therapy (CWT). CWT allowed me to start earning money at the prevailing minimum wage, and to start my long term planning for eventual self-reliance.

My time at Reach was very busy. The program was divided into 3 phases. Phase I focused on mainly classes about managing your life, Group Therapy, more DBT and CBT groups, and a strong focus on 12-Step Programs. Phase II was entirely about Compensated Work Therapy and regular therapy sessions.

Reach and Mental Health

By the end of my stay, I would be diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder, PTSD, ADHD and Anxiety. My psychiatrist was a brilliant scholar, who really worked hard at achieving the proper diagnoses for my conditions. He also closely monitored my conditions medically.

I was put on a cocktail of medications. After about a month there, I really could tell a difference in my overall mental health. During my time at Reach, I also continued my intensive therapy with Molly; having to travel by bus to the Jamaica Plain campus every week.

Reach Hallway

We discussed the myriad of interpersonal issues I had, the possibility of having Borderline Personality Disorder, and my inability to manage my emotions; my number one problem, now that I did not have alcohol or drugs to stem the tide. I still had tremendous difficulty gaining any noteworthy friends and continued to isolate myself throughout my stay.

In addition to individual therapies, we were each assigned a Caseworker and a Social Worker. Both of these individuals were inept at their positions. Jeff, the caseworker, dressed like a hood thug and wore his recovery as a big, fat ego tattoo on his forehead. I was part of his “A” team, and every week we had to meet for two hours and endure the magnitude of his “me, me, me” approach to counseling us. I did not like his style, and we butt heads more than a few times about his approach with me.

My caseworker, Susan, was even more inept. I would describe her as a worn out robot. Her approach to her work with me was unemotional, uninterested, and she seemed to work mostly from rote memory. A perfect example of burnout in a profession as I ever saw.

Brockton VA Campus

Many of the buildings on the campus were built during the Civil War. The Brockton VA Campus is a collection of fascinating structures, all interconnected by an underground–and above ground–tunnel system. The campus boasts numerous domiciliary buildings, one of the few VA Spinal Cord Injury Hospitals in the country, a 6 lane bowling alley, and even a Starbucks; which I actually worked at briefly, in the Summer of 2013. I quit only after 2 months because I couldn’t get enough hours.

Civil War Era Domiciliary

I spent many hours photographing many of the nooks and crannies of this old campus, as you can see by some of the pictures to the left. I spent hours modifying pictures during my downtime. If you have read any other portions of my recovery blog, you know that I have the propensity to obsess: over emotions, over hobbies, over subject matter.

So you can imagine hour many hours I spent taking and modifying picture after picture. You can view many more of these pictures in the PDF at the bottom of my post. I almost wish I had some of the originals I took, for the architecture is truly a marvel with many of the old buildings.

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Pt. 6 Brockton II

In Recovery:  Part 5 – Jamaica Plain

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPart 6: Brockton II
Two Sides of a Coin
VA Treatment Jamaica Plain

I was in the recovery program at the VA in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts from the time I got out of jail (10/7/16) until December 16th, 2016. Up until that point, the only formal treatment I ever received for my alcoholism was a stint in Rehab back in October of 2011. I was unused to going to Group Therapy.

I had tremendous difficulties acclimating to my new surroundings. This was partly because about 15 men were crammed into a double-wide trailer home. It felt like everyone was on top of one another all the time. I also found it very difficult to share in the groups.

A Blog Is Born
Smoking Area Sarrtp Trailer

So, I decided to create this blog, determined to chronicle my life before, and in recovery. I decided early on that I had to be brutally honest. As the days wore on in the program, I devoted myself intensely to sharing my thoughts and feelings. I also began writing poetry after a long absence from it, and shared my poems as well. During my time at Sarrtp, I never took one pass or met anyone outside the Veterans and Staff; I had no family in the area and my so-called ‘friends’ were nowhere to be found.

Also, shortly after creating my blog, I engaged in a tumultuous online relationship that took its toll on me emotionally for a couple of months. Romanticizing a relationship with a woman with serious CPTSD, who had been commenting on my poetry wasn’t helping. My emotions went haywire when, after about three weeks of mutual engagement, this woman suddenly freaked out and broke off contact. I was crushed. It dramatically affected my day to day functioning and I realized that I had serious emotional issues and needed help.

The Program Grind

Many of the Mental Health Records I have access to via the VA’s My HealthEVet (which would prove extremely valuable to me as I will share down the road) website, spoke not only to those difficulties, but also the difficulties I had practicing my social skills. Well, that’s because I essentially had none.

Without booze to fuel my comedy and aggressiveness, I was painfully self-conscious and shy! Now that’s not a word anyone would use to describe me before. I was considered abrasive when I talked, a loner when I didn’t share in the zeal of reliving my drinking days with the residents in the evening. Moving right along…

SARRTP (Substance Abuse Recovery and Rehabilitation Program) was pretty much Group Therapy from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. There were several beneficial groups, but I have to admit: listening to some of my fellow Veterans drone on was taking its toll. We also had Discharge Planning sessions, bi-weekly meetings with our treatment teams, medical appointments. Looking back, I realize it was the best possible arrangement. I was ill-prepared for sobriety outside the walls of jail. I needed this kind of structure just to make it through the day.

The following is the schedule we had, as best as I can remember:

Time v & Day >MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday
8:15 – 8:45House MeetingHouse MeetingHouse MeetingHouse MeetingHouse Meeting
9:00-10:45Relapse PreventionMindfulnessRelapse PreventionMindfulnessRelapse Prevention
11:00 – 11:45AcceptanceLife SkillsAcceptanceLife SkillsAcceptance
11:45 – 12:45 LunchLunchLunchLunchLunch
1:00 – 2:45CBTSeeking SafetyCBT12 StepCBT
3:00 – 4:00RelationshipsWorking in RecoverySpiritualitySleep EdWrap Up

As you can see, they kept us busy. We even had two meditation sessions per weekend. Not to mention the countless homework assignments that were due on a constant basis. Yup, the VA was going to get their money’s worth out of me, and mine out of it. The programs were mostly very appealing. However, my recovery would not have suffered if I did not have to attend the Spirituality and Sleep Education Groups. I think those were really just filler for the end of the day, when they probably sensed most of us were tapped out from the heavy duty classes that came before.

A Snapshot of VA Treatment

Listed below are most of the groups I participated in almost from the very first day I was brought to Sarrtp. The descriptives are from my MyHealthEVet records.

Mindfulness

Relapse Prevention: Veteran will identify personal relapse triggers and develop skills to prevent relapse.

Mindfulness Group: Veteran will use mindfulness skills such as: Please Skills, ABC Skills, Three Minds, Distress Tolerance, and Emotional Regulation to maintain sobriety.

Acceptance & Recovery: Veteran will explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are related to internal conflicts and external stressors and their impact on substance abuse and recovery. (The New Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes, Ph.d and The Language of Letting Go by Melodie Beattie- treatment protocol).

Life Skills: Anger Management. Establishing good social supports. Establishing good supportive relationships. Handling Stressors. Money Management

Seeking Safety: Veteran will be able to use specific strategies to effectively reduce or regulate uncomfortable emotions.

Relationships in Recovery: Veteran will explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that are related to interpersonal relationships, interpersonal difficulties, and their impact on substance abuse and recovery with the Relationships in Recovery (Green, unpublished manual) treatment protocol.

12 Step Group: This continuing group is designed to facilitate participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or other Twelve Step groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Cocaine Anonymous in order to maintain sobriety. Group members will explore and discuss various aspects of the Twelve Step process such as Spirituality, Principles, Not Personalities, Sponsorship and Living Sober.

CBT

CBT Group: Veteran will increase his awareness of his cognitive styles and their influence on his emotions and behaviors. Veteran will learn strategies for restructuring his cognitions to reduce relapse risk and improve his mood.

Working In Recovery: This group focuses on what intrinsic benefits of returning to work are, Vocational Rehabilitation Compensated Work Therapy programs (Transitional Work Experience and Supported Employment), and the barriers faced with trying to obtain and maintain employment while in recovery.

Spirituality: Veterans will learn ways to expand their capacity to understand themselves, others and life from a spiritual perspective in order to become more equipped to prevent relapse.

Therapeutic Work

In addition to all the groups, I also had lots of health appointments, therapy sessions with VA Psychiatrists (who were assembling various diagnoses), and individual therapy with Molly, my therapist. As far as therapists go Molly is at the top. I have been in and out of therapy since my early teens. I used to joke that I was a professional patient. Molly had a way of cutting through the veil and identifying the true issues at hand, to startling effect.

Me at VA Jamaica Plain
October 2016

In 2013, when I first came to the VA for medications, I did get assigned a therapist by the name of Dr. Anna Ticlea. Up until I met Molly, Dr. Ticlea had been tops. She was the first mental health professional to diagnose me with Bipolar I Disorder…but that’s another story. However, Dr. Ticlea was primarily my psychiatrist responsible for overseeing my medications. Molly was a Board Certified Psychologist.

Well, let me just say that, by the end of our first session I was reeling with concepts of myself that I wasn’t too sure I wanted to pursue. But Molly had opened up a Pandora’s Box of sorts, and I was left thinking about them just days before my move to a new VA Treatment Program called REACH, in Brockton, Ma.

Of particular note: my self-concept was challenged, and my approach to relationships may have been grounded in a deep fear of abandonment. There will be much more about my sessions with Molly in future posts. You can count on it!

Because of the facts that I had no money, nowhere to live, and nobody I could rely upon to help me, I decided to take advantage of another VA treatment program. Called REACH, this program focuses on group therapies, but also adds a work component called CWT (Compensated Work Therapy). CWT enables Veterans in early recovery to work for minimum wage. The program is also heavily geared towards enabling Veterans to transition safely out of a domiciliary program. I was excited to have an opportunity to earn some money, for I had none for the duration of my treatment at Jamaica Plain.

However, I almost didn’t get to go there because of another Veteran named Bill. I’m not going to get into all the details here, the posts about that whole incident can be found in my Flipbook below. Suffice it to say, I dodged a bullet that never should have been shot at me in the first place. The incident drew many of my fellow Veterans away from me, unfairly I might add, and served to isolate me further from them.

Read About My Recovery As I Lived It

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

Onwards and Upwards

I was ready to move beyond VA treatment at the Jamaica Plain campus. The close quarters, the rigorous schedule, and the treatment by some of my fellow Veterans was wearing me thin. The two months at Sarrtp gave me a great foundation for my recovery.

Time For Brockton Reach Program!

I had endured some gut-wrenching sessions in group therapy, as well as with my private sessions with Molly. What I wasn’t prepared for, was that my emotions would continue to wreak havoc on me in the coming months at REACH, the VA treatment program in Brockton Ma: the city where I lived with my psychotic ex.

In Recovery:  Part 4 – VA Program

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPart 6: Brockton II
Jamaica Plain VA Medical Center, across from the VA Treatment Program
Jamaica Plain VA

VA Treatment Begins

On October 17th 2016, I was released from jail and brought directly to a VA Treatment Program called Sarrtp. It stands for Substance Abuse Recovery and Rehabilitation Program, in Jamaica Plain Massachusetts. SARRTP is just one of the many Mental Health Recovery and Rehabilitation Programs the VA offers. It is the first time that I had entered any real recovery program of substance in my entire life.

SARRTP set up in a double-wide trailer across from the VA hospital you see in the above picture. It was intimidating to me; the tight quarters were uncomfortable to me. Spending time in my room was really the only solace I had early on in this program.

Me – November 2016

I’ve always been kind of a loner, contrary to the drunk Rob who is loud and aggressive. I certainly am not accustomed to this type of fairly restrictive environment as it seemed like many of the residents were. The program requires that you stay on the campus for the first 30 days, and then you are only allowed to venture off campus on a few hours pass.

The Rigors of Group Therapy

The rigors of this group-intensive program were apparent from the jump. There would be no hiding in the corner, no one-sentence responses; they expected you to participate early and often. Our days were chock-full of classes, health appointments–as many of you who were addicts of one substance or another can attest, our health is usually ignored for long periods of time–meetings with social workers and therapists, and the like.

And so, I was also not prepared for group therapy. Having been to many therapists over my lifetime, but I had never been involved in such intensive group therapy. And, quite frankly, listening to some of my fellow Veterans in this VA Treatment Program droned on about their woes was sometimes difficult for me to engage in regularly. More than a few seemed to have difficulty expressing just what the hell was going on. I worked on my patience for them as much as I could muster.

I know that sounds terrible, but I am a fish out of water when it comes to close social combat; at getting to know people. In between classes, and in the evening downtime at the trailer, I keep to myself.

With no money and no phone until November, I began justruminating.blog, a blog which I decided early on to be about VA Recovery Treatment, and to feature the poetry I had been writing off and on since 1983.

VA Treatment Is Unsettling
VA Treatment at Jamaica Plain
Jamaica Plain VAMC

As is usual in my life, folks early on passed judgement on me before I had a chance to get comfortable enough to be who I truly am. More than one resident (and staff member) related that I was abrasive and self-centered, and thought I was too good for the group on the whole, just because I didn’t want to hang around the t.v. room all night, sharing war stories and wasting time. Or not.

But, and interestingly, I will note that early on I decided that I would not watch t.v. at all. Except for the Presidential Debate in 2016 and football, I successfully avoided t.v. right up until I actually moved to Colorado in early 2018. Small talk is nothing I hate, and there is no shortage of that in VA treatment. Socializing about the good ole days of drinking was not my bag.

As a result, I made no friends for the entire three months I was there. And I was ok with that. As a matter of fact, I did not make any close friends for the entire time I was in VA Treatment, from October 2016, until November of 2017. Without booze to amplify my attitude, I was fairly inept socially.

Writing To The Rescue

However, in my defense, I was there to work on my recovery, not spend time wasting away in the social milieu that seemed to exist in the halls of recovery at all the VAs. In retrospect, I did a lot of isolating and social distancing before it became the 2020 norm!

Right from day one I started a journal, but only kept at it for about 10 days. That was typical of me: I would begin projects with vim-and-vigor, but usually I would abandon such projects out of boredom, or the fortitude they required to sustain them; however, I did plug into blogging as a way of journaling, so there’s that.

The First Days In VA Treatment

Please wait while flipbook is loading. For more related info, FAQs and issues please refer to DearFlip WordPress Flipbook Plugin Help documentation.

I started this blog exactly 7 days after I arrived at SARRTP. Here is my very first post on my recovery! I decided very early on that I would chronicle my recovery journey-and the life that led me there-in brutally honest fashion. And I did just that, quite intensely, until around March of 2017.

So, I pretty much walked away from blogging full-time in March, as I had tried to do too much, and my purpose for the blog got inadvertently shifted to being more worried about how many likes and comments I was getting, than my original purpose. Although I wrote a few scattered posts in 2017 and 2018, I would not return to daily writing until September of this year.

VA Treatment Room
VA Treatment Meeting

And the same thing happened after my dedication to fitness, which lasted until the November cold crept it’s way into New England. After that, I wouldn’t work out again, ever. When I finally was able to buy a phone in November, I also got caught up in photography, and I spent countless hours manipulating media and posting the end results on my blog and social media.

Recovery Floodgates Open Wide

I did, however, embrace my new found freedom, and many of the concepts that SARRTP was introducing to me. I realized very early, that to make the most of the opportunity I was given by the VA, I had to take recovery seriously.

Also, I recognized very early, that participating in all the classes and therapy, everyone trying to figure out a proper diagnosis for me, was taking an emotional toll; especially when some of my fellow Veterans in VA treatment, would really go deep on what their issues were, and how they used to overcome tremendous emotional hardships. I had to try everything in my power to make difficult changes to the ways I acted and thought. And I had to immerse myself fully in the experience if I was to stay sober and grow as an individual.

But, dear reader, it ends up being much more difficult than I had ever imagined. For, it was one thing to be sober in jail, and a far different story when interacting with so many different types of folks, and on so many levels so often. My main issues would prove to be my emotions, my impulsivity, and my lack of social awareness. I needed to get my priorities straight if I wanted to “graduate” to the next program that the VA offered. Not only did I want this, I needed it!

In Recovery:  Part 3 – Reality Check

From jail, to the end of my treatment in 3 different V.A. Treatment Centers, this part of My Story uncovers the journey of my recovery. I vividly, and candidly chronicled my day to day struggles with recovery, mental health, amends, and dealing with the V.A. empire on my blog from October of 2016, to the end of 2017. You can find these musings in the Archives. However, in the coming weeks, I look back at those experiences and give you a more coherent story of my life In Recovery. I look back on that year with more insight as to what was happening, and share with you the principles and actions that built the foundation for my ongoing recovery.

Before RecoveryPart 1: A ProblemPart 2: Jail TimePart 3: Reality CheckPart 4: VA Program
Pt. 5: Jamaica PlainPt. 6: Brockton IPart 6: Brockton II
Plymouth County Correctional Facility Accommodations

About 3 months into my incarceration, I learned there was a Veterans Service Officer in the jail; someone who specifically works with Veterans within the facility. It was mid-August, and I had begun to take stock in my situation. Except for a few boxes, all of my belongings were gone. I was no longer employed. I had no savings. I had nowhere to live once I was released from jail. Alcohol had brought me to my knees.

Jamaica Plain VA

I met with the VSO sometime in late August. He told me that there was a program I might be able to transition to at the VA; but I had to be committed to sobriety. I had to also meet with a representative from the VA, in order for them to assess my eligibility. Dare I say that I was, at this point, hopeful? August was a month of reality checks for me. The toughest one? That I had become powerless over alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. It was the first time in my life that I realized that, every time I picked up a drink, it was always followed by many others. I finally accepted that I could no longer drink.

This reality set much deeper inside my world after meeting with the representative from the VA. During that grueling 3 hour ordeal, I told the story of my life. He wanted details. So many details. The walk back to my cell was a dizzying one. I had never had to express so thoroughly, the many traumatic and tragic events of my life to anyone. The VA representative wasn’t even sure that I would be eligible for the program. It took several weeks before I heard back.

In the meantime, jail was starting to take its toll. Although I had taken a job in the kitchen–one of the most brutally challenging jobs I ever had–in order to earn “good time,” the constant noise and boredom was getting to me. Jail is extremely loud all of the time. The word “nigger” is used thousands of times a day, by every race, for every reason. The food is completely atrocious. Let’s just say that gratitude was not on my radar at this point in my so-called ‘recovery.’

I couldn’t even stand to try to watch the miniscule t.v. that was attached to the second floor beam; not only was the incessant yammering bothersome, when I was incarcerated I did not have my glasses with me. Being nearsighted, I could barely see it anyways. So, I spent nearly all of my waking time reading. I read 78 books in 5 months. One of those books, A Million Little Pieces (an account of rehab, by someone who purported to have gone through it. However, later it was discovered that the author had falsified many portions of the book. Still a great book though), I finished the morning of my release.

I talked to one guy there the entire time I was locked up. Walter was his name. We had some laughs. As a matter of fact, he put $60 on my Canteen, helping me to endure the last 2 brutal weeks of my incarceration. It astonishes me that someone could endure years of incarceration; I was barely holding on at 5 months. Earlier this year, I found out he went to prison on drug charges. I looked him up via the prison network. I have been writing him, talking with him on the phone, sending him money every month. His one act of kindness will be returned tenfold, because I know how dismall incarceration without money can be. Anyway, I digress.

Around mid-September I got the news that I would be accepted into a program at the Jamaica Plains VA. It was to be a fairly restrictive in-patient program that would require daily classes, limited movement, regular urine tests. I would have to be directly transported to the facility on the day of my release. I had to agree that any violation of the program’s policies, would result in immediate expulsion from the program. Of course, I did agree. So on October 9th, 2016, I was brought to the Substance Abuse Residential Recovery Treatment Program (SARRTP, by two friends from the car business. It would be the very first time I had ever participated in any such program. It would be the first time my new-found sobriety would be put to the test.

Goodbye Jail
« Older Entries