Termination

After witnessing what I did in Lake County, I just had a gut feeling that this trip into the system was going to be different than anything I had experienced before. I was definitely right. I stayed in Lake County Jail for 11 days, and was transported to my home county on a Monday morning. The next step had been taken. My future in the Drug Court Program would soon be decided.

The following is an earlier post which sums up my next step in this process:
“Relapse and Deceit”- Junkbox diaries
Herb Stepherson January 29, 2016

A year ago today, I was sitting in jail. Facing an uncertain amount of time. Would it be a decade? Two? My mind was swimming, I had 24 days clean, and was certain I was going to prison. I definitely deserved to. I was granted the opportunity to participate in a substance abuse program, and if I were to successfully complete the program, my charges of forgery and theft would be dismissed, and I was facing termination. I had relapsed. Hard. They tried to help me, once I “came clean” about my struggles. I only came clean about what they already knew about. I hid so much of my actual despair that I should have shared. These people wanted to help me. And I refused to let them. The addiction had me cornered. I remember sitting in my cell, constantly playing out this horrible situation that I was headed for, my termination hearing. Sitting in jail is bad enough, but knowing that if things don’t go well, I could potentially leave the Indiana department of corrections in my fifties is particularly scary. I was 29 years old, facing 13 years. So far. Plus add the element of possible additional charges coming, that would undoubtedly carry the habitual offender enhancement, and you’ve got a feeling that I cannot even get through to someone. A hole had opened up inside of me. Once I was roughly a month clean, and the fog started to lift, I started to appreciate the gravity of the situation. My outlook on life itself was bleak at best. I remember, kind of, going into a sort of numbness. A mixture of fear, shame, and guilt. I was in for a very rough road. One I will not soon forget.

One of my case managers came into see me at the jail, about 2 weeks before the big day. He asked me some difficult questions. I don’t remember what they were exactly, but what I do know is this: I did what any cornered bullshitter does. I lied my ass off. He did not buy it. He didn’t say that he didn’t. He did not have to. The look in his eyes told me everything I needed to know. I was done. I was going to prison and good luck with that. I shook his hand, and did my best last ditch effort to persuade him of my willingness to change. It was my addiction talking. Desperation for one more. All I wanted to do was get out and continue to use. This was not going to be happening. He said goodbye and good luck at the hearing, but what I heard was enjoy prison you piece of lying dog shit. This was not going to be easy. But some where in the recesses of my mind, my addiction, my insane and broken thinking told me I still had a shot at this thing. I didn’t. I spent the next several days piecing together what would be my defense. My speech to the judge. I put together the most of eloquent pieces of deceit that I could muster. Complete with a pros and cons list of my experience in the program to date. I had done some really good things, but the fact of the matter was that I used, continued to use, lied about it, signed myself out of the treatment center they put me in, cut off my GPS bracelet and tried to get around all that by checking myself into a detox center in Chicago after going crazy on cocaine and heroin for several days. Including on Christmas. Oh yeah, not to mention that I not only didn’t turn myself in, but I was rearrested in Gary for selling gas to people off of some stolen gas cards. But still, I told myself that I had a shot. That I was going to wow the masses with my beautiful written bullshit. I wasn’t going to. February came and so did my termination date. The 18th was here and I hadn’t slept in days. It was time to face the music. I have never in my life been so terrified. I did my best to seem sincere, and humble. I even got choked up, which I thought was going to be staged. For some reason, however, it was not. I was truly remorseful. The weight of the situation hit me like a flood. It was all out in the open. Here, in my face. This was actually happening. I remember the looks on the people’s faces. Pity. They were about to turn me over to the court of original jurisdiction and they knew it. But still they pitied me. It took me some time, but eventually I came to the realization that these were good people, and that I had been the problem for so long. When my speech was read, the questions had been asked, and my turn was done, I took my place on the waiting bench. It was finished. And still I clung to slightest glimmer of hope, that at the time seemed real. It wasn’t. They told everyone that we would know their decisions within a week. It was going to be an excruciating wait.

I guess it is again, like waiting for your execution date. I was on pins and needles for 5 days. Constantly waiting, and pacing for bad news. Still though, I prayed, and I hoped. Each minute that passed seemed like an eternity. And it was like this for five days. My entire using career all bubbled up before my eyes like a horror movie. I was disgusted with the life I had been living and this waiting period was like a purgatory of torture for me. I remember constantly calling my brother in Georgia asking if he had heard anything. Asking the other people that went to termination with me if they had heard anything. No one had. I was an inmate worker at the time and was out and about doing my daily duties, when I saw an officer walking toward me and the look on his face said it all. But still, I had to ask. ” That letter for me?” “Yeah.” “Is it bad?”(He nods with regret) “I’m sorry Herb.” But still, I had to see it. And in italics on the second sheet of the two page letter it said ” Herbert cannot remain in the program, and is therefore terminated.” And time stopped. My legs wobbled, and my mouth turned cotton. My heart slammed with every beat and it actually felt like the world had stopped spinning. That was that. I was going to prison. “Can I please use a phone. I need to tell my family” And he was nice enough to allow me.

I remember a particular sentence I spoke into that blue jail house phone, I was speaking to my friend- “This wasn’t supposed to happen, I was gonna be somebody.” I remember this phone call vividly. This was one of those times of brokenness. Bottom. Despair. Fear. It was like all the gravity and air had been sucked out of the universe and the weight of existence was bearing down on me at 1,000,000,000 PSI. I was shaking uncontrollably and had never felt so lost and so alone. We were just getting started.

This was one of the most difficult times of my life. So far. I was uncertain of what lied ahead for me. How much time? Where would I be sent? What was next? Would new charges be filed stemming from the incident in Gary? The Gary Police Officer who had arrested me told me that they would not be filing charges, and they had not booked me in on anything other than the hold for my county. Nothing new at Lake County either. There was so much fear, dread, and grief in my every breath for a long time. Still, I held on to hope. I held on to the thought that I wasn’t going away for that long. I just had to stay strong. Keep my head up, and do what I could to get better. To start my recovery, even in this place. Its never too late to do the right things. And I was starting now. The next 11 months would be the absolute most turbulent of my life. A time I WILL NEVER forget. A time that has forever changed my thoughts, perspective, and ideas on many different things.

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