Willingness (noun)- the quality or state of being prepared to do something; readiness.
So, I’ve got some explaining to do. There’s a lot of space between Amazing Grace, Prodigal Son, and Ruckus. But I’ve been writing as the inspiration comes. I am not a story teller. Indeed, this is my story, but it’s not just some tale. I write as the spirit moves me to write. I want this to be as authentic, and genuine as possible. And this entry here is something that pricked my spirit this past Friday, and has not let me go yet. So I figured I would put it into the universe now.
Going back into my stint in the County jail where I spent my fifty three weeks…
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to the alcoholic(addict) as self will run riot. And this was me. I always attempted to run the show. I had everything so figured out in my mind, or so I thought.No one could tell me anything. I was my own man. Brave. Rebel. Independent. Strong. Hustler. Playboy.EGO. These were all just made up defense mechanisms that my Ego created to cover up what was really going on inside the secret places of Herb: loneliness, desperation, isolation, fear, self pity. But on I charged none the less. And My best ideas led me to where I now was. Burned up from addiction. Dying. Alone. Desperate. I was a broken man. Lost and fading away. I had reached a point in my life where suicide seemed like my only option. And I was going to follow through with it. But then God started nudging and tugging on me. As I explained before, these thoughts of suicide finally subsided, and I made a decision that would alter the course of my life thus far. I was going to start my recovery now, regardless of my sentence or release date.
They say if nothing changes, nothing changes. And one major part of me that needed to change was my resistance to change. I was so used to clinging to the most destructive and toxic people, habits, thoughts, and actions, simply because they were familiar to me. I would refuse to fully just “let go” and step into healthy and new patterns of life, because the fear of this lifestyle overhaul was so overwhelming, that it kept me pinned to the old familiar ways and people. But I talked to God, with my heart, and with all my might and mind, and told Him that I was truly going to do things differently. Whether it was inside the jail or prison, or in the free world. It didn’t matter. I was the problem, and the problem needed to be addressed. My transformation had to start from within. The way i think, the way i speak, the way i act. Everything about me needed to change. I had already hit the darkest of bottoms, stewed there for a while, and then decided to either get busy livin’ or get busy dyin. I was not going to be another statistic. And so, as I continued my talks with God, with no ulterior motive in mind, my perspective, attitudes, and behaviors started to change. Desperation and fear gave way to hope and faith. And so I had what we in recovery call a second step experience, and then I had a third step experience. I absolutely had to be chewed up and spit out by this addiction to fully gain some understanding into this thing. My ways dont work, and all my ideas suck. And so I started to gain some open mindedness. I did a lot of walking in the pod. Lap after lap after lap. I must have walked about 10,000 miles inside that pod while i was there. Reflecting. Observing. Getting to know Herb, and getting to know God. As best as I could. I kept going to meetings, and IOP. I payed attention in church and actually started to buy into what the people said in each. My mind was finally starting to open. I began to see that my way of thinking is not the only way of thinking, everyone has struggles, everyone needs help, and that the recovery programs work, and that God is real. My mind and heart really started to soak these things in. I knew that if what these people were telling was in fact their experience and the truth, then why couldn’t these very things work for me? Why not me? And my mind continued to open.
Open mindedness gave way to willingness. I knew that if I was actually going to change, I would have to be willing to. I would have to be willing to do things I never did, if I were to get things I never got. And so I just got into the habit of saying ‘yes’ to things that I knew may be uncomfortable. I was told that I needed to get used to being uncomfortable for a while, because if it felt comfortable, it was probably some vestige from my using days, and needed to go. My days of becoming a yes man started right there in the county jail. Renovation crew?yes. Sheriff’s Heroin video? yes. Prayer circle in the pod? yes. Baptism in the inflatable pool in jail? yes. And as I continued doing this, I started to notice that these weren’t just questions being answered, they were nudges being followed. NA meeting inside the pod? yes. Talking with other men in my pod about life issues? yes. I had to continue pushing through my comfort zone and just keep saying yes. And this continued after I was released from jail. Sponsor? yes. Meetings? yes. Working steps? yes. Church? yes. Going out to coffee with other addicts? yes. No matter how weird or uncomfortable some of these things felt sometimes, I knew that I had to just keep moving in this direction. I was following the nudges as they were given. Hey Herb would you like to come and speak to this group? yes. How about this group? yes. Would you like to go and speak at the rehab? yes. I had to just keep taking suggestions and keep an open mind. I had bought into this and I was going to see it through as far as I could. I prayed for more willingness and kept an open mind. I prayed every night and talked to God, and just kept asking Him to continue guiding me. Every night, prayers for willingness. Everyday following nudges. Just stay the course Herb. Just stay the course. And then one day, a friend of mine, who was staff at the house I am currently staying at asked me if I wanted to attend this three day spiritual retreat. Without hesitation, I replied. Yes.
And that was the best decision I ever made in my life, to this day…..