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Sunday, September 9, 2012

On Assignment. What does that Mean?

Mike Runner is my Sunday Guest Contributor, and he brings a perspective to Wings Like Eagles that is unique and challenging. 

I normally cover topics relating to the horror of having someone else bring darkness into the home.  Mike covers the same topics, but from a completely different angle.  He was the one who brought darkness to his family.  Mike is an alcoholic.

It is my hope that the perception of what we think we know about Family Crisis is shaken up a bit.  Because there is far more involved than we think.  Much can be understood by examining the other side, and I deeply appreciate Mike's willingness to help us gain understanding as he shares with us the mind as it is affected by alcoholism.

He isn't just an alcoholic.  He is an intelligent mind, has a bright, hopeful future, and he is my friend.  And this is his story.

My story.  I had promised that I would start my next column that way but I find it a bit boring.  How about this?  My Story…in Jail.  Better.  

Jail is something that most alcoholics and addicts will encounter at some point if the condition progresses.  It is almost inevitable unless the person dies first.

The most powerful parable in the Bible to me is that of the prodigal son.  You have a son who takes his father’s inheritance early, spends it on debauchery, and comes back to his father with his tail between his legs and penniless, hoping for a job and maybe to sleep with the pigs.  Instead, the father sees his lost son from a distance, runs to him and gives him a huge hug, and says “My son has come home!”  He holds a huge feast.  

We are the son.  I am the son.  God is the Father.  When we stray, He wants us back.  He did not condemn the son, He just loved him.  To me, this is extremely powerful as many times in my life I have thought, “Why would God even want me back because of how I have hurt Him?”  Amazing love.  Unfathomable love.  

Like all who choose to believe, I am a sinner saved by grace.  God loved me enough to do what He did on the cross simply because He loves me that much.  He did it.  I only needed to accept.  There was nothing I could do to bridge the gap on my own.

Earthly justice is a bit different.  It has to be, or we would fall into anarchy.  There needs to be consequence for action.  

My last DUI was about a year and a half ago.  The court system is backed up so it took about eight months for me to even get into the system.  On the DUI, I was in a parking space in a restaurant parking lot and there was a Sheriff there.  Nothing terrible happened, by the grace of God.  It was the next morning that my life changed which I will explain in detail in later posts.  

My prior two DUIs were almost eight and ten years ago.  Three DUIs in ten years is considered very bad, as it should be.  Being a believer in earthly justice, I drove my attorney rather crazy.  I told him, “I’m guilty.  I did it, and deserve to be punished.”  He told me that in all his years, he had never had a client tell him that before, which I honestly found rather disturbing.  

The only reason that I had an attorney was in hopes that we could find a suitable punishment so that I could keep my job, and so that I could make good on my financial responsibilities (child support, etc.) and see my kids.  It’s all I really cared about, and I didn’t want to see others hurt excessively, due to my actions.

In meeting people and in recovery circles, I run into “the cops were out to get me,” quite often.  I always respond, “Were you drunk?”  The answer is yes.  Second question, “Were you driving a car?”  The answer is also yes.  Then I hope that the person can put two and two together…sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.   

Personal responsibility is often not a trait found at the beginning of recovery.  If the trait is never discovered, recovery is unlikely.  I can tell you that there were certain people and situations that perhaps didn’t help with my alcoholism, but the blame lies squarely on my having the disease (a concept we will get into later) and what I did or did not do with my recovery.

I knew for about a month and a half prior that the August 23rd date would eventually come, that I would have to turn myself into the Chino Courts, and that I would be sent to West Valley Detention Center.  

West Valley is County Jail.  

I had been sentenced to 9 months and was to serve 4 ½.  However, a combination of things worked in my favor.  

1.  The jails are overcrowded and non-violent offenders are generally released to work release after some time.  Work release consists of showing up both days on the weekend and working off one of those wonderful jail buses by the side or freeways or wherever they send you.  

2.  I did a lot of very hard work in my recovery after I got the DUI, after I decided that I was done.  I went into court with letters from my AA sponsor, my psychiatrist, my boss, the director of my outpatient program, and about six other letters.  

3.  I already cannot drive so imminent danger to society is not a factor.  Unlike most of my friends without a driver’s license, I actually do not drive which makes life a tad interesting since I work a quasi sales job.  Although the judge was unwilling to put straight work release on my sentencing documents, he did not check the box that said “continuous time,” which all but assured I would be a “catch and release” person.  Meaning they would book me in, and I would be out within 24 hours, and report to the work release program.  

Though it was never a guarantee, my attorney told me this, the bailiff told me this, people who had been in my situation in the past told me this, and even the judge said it would be 24 hours.  At most.
That is not what happened.  I missed my Never Anonymous column deadline.  We said my absence was because I was On Assignment.

To be continued.

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