The snail

So I had gotten into the habit of just saying yes, which did end up leading me to some pretty awesome places, people, and experiences. But that doesn’t mean that this journey of mine has been just some honeymoon, hunky dory, walk in the park. In fact, it has been quite the contrary. I got dropped off at the halfway house on January 11, 2016. For the first something like ten days, I didn’t leave “my spot” on the couch. I was in shell shock. People. Freedom. Commotion. Girls. I remember my insides quaking and the tremors inside my core and inside my mind. I was completely shaken from the change. Fear. Panic. Excitement. I just carried this on going overwhelming sense of empending doom, but also the feeling like I just needed to get moving. I was completely torn. And so I did nothing. I just needed to decompress and re focus myself and get reacquainted with my new surroundings and environment. So I did. After about two weeks, I started to feel somewhat normal again. I knew that it was time to put some work in. I knew that I needed to start my recovery process. This was a given. But I also had reached a point where I was no longer going to settle for mediocrity. I needed to really get busy, on all cylinders. I was open to suggestions and ready to take this thing on. I was meeting with my sponsor regularly, and one of the first things we did together this time was sit in his truck and go over my list of priorities. From one to five. He had asked me to write them out the last time we met and we sat in his truck discussing their places on my list. God. Recovery. My son. Employment. That was it. That is what we decided was important. Everything else will fall into place. So, my recovery had started off well this time- meetings, prayer, step work, and seeing my son regularly. So what about employment? This would prove itself to be the toughest of the four priorities on the list.

Sure, I found a job right away. And, as always, it seemed very promising. Ten dollars an hour, cash. Painting houses. Yeah, painting houses. Right…More like being everyone’s bitch  while they painted houses and constantly being taunted about my addiction. One morning, I was in the truck with the boss man, for about forty minutes to New Buffalo Michigan, while he shook his bottle of Norcos (Hydrocodone) periodically in his pocket. “Oh, Herb can’t have any of these, ‘cuz you’ll be S**** D*** for heroin in no time.” He said. I was blown away. This is one of the prices we pay for outing ourselves as addicts, to protect ourselves. Another time, while in the same house in New Buffalo, I had to clean all the brushes and get everything loaded up, while a couple of the guys took their turns doing shots, and sniffing lines right off of the newly installed counter tops. This would be my last day working for this guy. And when I delivered the news to him, of course he was pissed. Apparently, I was quitting because “I was a pussy”. It had nothing to do with him flashing his pistol and pills, snorting lines on the job. Sure….

So this was my first strike out on employment. There would be many many more to come. Not any more like this first one, thank God. But many let downs and broken promises none the less. Seventy seven in all. I applied, interviewed, or submitted resumes to seventy seven places all together. I would walk in the snow, bum rides, make phone calls, take the bus, even take the train into Chicago for an all day excursion, in my hunt to land my #4 priority. I was bound, set, and determined to find something good. I was done settling. It took a lot of work to find work. I was hired and then un-hired five different times, due to my back ground. I was really struggling to make this happen.Thank God I was able to land a little side gig, doing some minor landscape maintenance. Fifteen dollars an hour, every weekend kept me treading water for a while. But I was still struggling to land something decent. I had fees to pay for living in the halfway house, and the pressure of probation, child support, my license, and countless other expenses was overwhelming. But I just had to keep pushing. Just keep looking. Just keep praying. And just keep treading water.

Seventy seven let downs. Every time I thought I would get the job too. Everytime.

My recovery life was going on alright, and I was seeing my son. I had been attending church regularly, and after attending the retreat for three days, I had gotten connected with some pretty good guys for a Tuesday night bible study. But I was still just so burdened for employment. But I just kept showing up. Just kept praying and just kept searching. I knew someone somewhere would be willing to take a chance on me. I just had to keep putting myself out there and remain available. I think it was around May, I had been out for about four months, and had stopped at nothing to find myself something decent for work. But I was tired. I was worn out. I had really reached a point where I was about to start settling again. And I am so very glad that I didn’t.

In recovery, we talk about certain “tools” that we use in order to maintain ourselves. Things like phone lists, friends, stepwork, etc… But I have found that those tools in and of themselves are useless if I don’t use the tools that God Himself gave me. Like my ears and my mouth. So one night, in bible study, I decided to speak up and ask for help. I told the guys about how I had been struggling for work, and how I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t ask for anything specific, just for prayer and encouragement. One man suggested that I start a company picking up dog shit for people. I smiled and listened, but I wanted to attack this guy and blast him in his face. But I stayed humble and open to suggestions. I said thank you to everyone for their help and guidance. I was the one in need of help and so I had to be the one to ask for it. Closed mouths don’t get fed as they say, and so I had to speak up, get vulnerable and accept what was offered. And that was that. We proceeded on through our study that night, and nothing more happened. Until something happened.

One of the men from the group reached out to me, and asked me to stop by his office the following Thursday and said he needed to speak to me. I wasn’t exactly sure what this was about, but I had an idea. So I complied. I put on some nice jeans and a nice button up and got dropped off at the office as directed. I sat down in front of the man at his desk and before anything even got started, he flat out said, “Herb, this is not an interview. You’re already hired.” This was welcomed news to me. But what the hell was I going to do? I don’t know anything about this industry. But, God provided, so I’m going to follow the nudge. I started the very next day. Ten dollars an hour. Making cold calls and setting appointments. Doing my best to show this man that this was the right move. That I was worth the chance. And I believe I did just that. I set 85 appointments my first week and we did a lot of new business. I think that this was a good fit for me. And I was and am grateful to this friend of mine for taking a chance on me. Since I’ve been with this agency, we have done pretty well. And I believe I have really found my niche. Sales. People. Marketing. Networking. I literally get paid to just be me. And to talk to people. It took me a few tries, but, again, I told myself that I wasn’t going to settle or quit- and I passed my state licensing exam for Property and Casualty Insurance for the State of Indiana. On my third try. I actually did it. Such a proud moment for me. When the hard work, struggle, and grinding- just-one-more-day finally pays off. It was a very relieving and happy time for me.

And since then, I have gotten quite a few other decent offers from other agents in the area, who I actually marketed to without knowing they were agents. But I was loyal to my friend, for he was the one who actually took the chance on me. The one who got my foot in the door. But, again, I told myself that I was always going to stay open to what God was doing NOW in my life. I was always going to pay attention to the nudges. And go to where I’m being led. And to walk away from what I’m being directed to walk away from. “When we pray and take action”, when we stay open to what God is doing in our lives TODAY, we will get our answers, signs, and nudges. But it is up to us if we want to take them or go on our own.I have found that when I ignore the signs, ignore the nudges, and try and ignore my “still small voice” inside me- and do things my own way, I always end up regretting it. I always end up getting hurt, or worse- using. So I stay open today. And, God nudges yet again. I took a call recently from one of the jobs that had previously denied me- not because of my background, but because of my living situation. This company is a recovery based agency that sets up interventions and gets people into treatment. Something I am very passionate about. And with my recent experience in professional sales and networking, think it is also something that I would excel at. I had the conversation with the voice on the other end, and agreed to meet for a second interview. After the conversation was finished in Lowell, at the office, I was told “Welcome aboard.” I would now be accepting this position which would be the most fulfilling opportunity I have ever been given. And although it is unfortunate that I had to tell my friend that I’m leaving his agency, I am sure that he understands that this is a tremendous opportunity for me. And I also hope that he knows, that I’m not exactly sure that this opportunity would not have come my way if it weren’t for him giving me the chance to begin with.

As I sit here in my living room, in my new house. NEW HOUSE. I just want to say that again: I’m sitting on my own couch, in my own house, with a christmas tree for the kids. listening to my own music, with a truck in the driveway. Drinking coffee, and just enjoying being me. I now am writing as I reflect. What an amazing year 2016 has been. Better than anything I could have designed in my own mind. Absolutely wonderful. Sure, there have been times when I just wanted to give up, run, hide, cry, there have been times when the only thing I could do was pray and ask for help. It has not been a cake walk. It has been tough. But thank God that every single bad day only lasts 24 hours. In two weeks I’m starting my new position as an Intervention Coordinator, along with my other freelance position with the Tox-lab. I have a book coming out in a few short weeks, and I’m coming up on two years clean. I can’t even describe how blessed, humbled, and over joyed that I feel- because God said, “Not this one!” And delivered me from the bitterest of ends. And because so many people have been here with me so far on this journey. And because I made a decision in my heart, that I wasn’t going to quit. That I was going all in this time, no matter what. I made the decision to give it my all and never settle again. And I’m not going to ever settle again! I can’t believe how different life is for me today. It’s surreal. I am truly a very blessed man. My cup runeth over.

~Joel Osteen on change:

Change is one of the most difficult things that we face, but change is inevitable
One reason we don’t like change is we get comfortable where we are
We get used to our friends, our job, the place we live
And even if it’s not perfect we accept it because it’s familiar
And what happens is because we’re not willing to change
We get stuck in what God used to do instead of moving forward
Into what God is about to do
Just because God’s blessed you where you are
Doesn’t mean you can just sit back and settle there
You have to stay open to what God is doing now
What worked five years ago may not work today
If you’re going to be successful you have to be willing to change
Every blessing is not supposed to be permanent
Every provision is not supposed to last forever
We should constantly evaluate our friendships
Who’s speaking into your life?
Who are you depending on?
Make sure they’re not dragging you down, limiting you from blossoming
Everybody is not supposed to be in our life forever. If you don’t get rid of the wrong friends, you will never meet the right friends.

YOU’RE GOING TO WANT TO GIVE UP.

DON’T.

RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE. LIFE CAN AND WILL GET BETTER.

REMEMBER, ONLY BY PERSEVERANCE DID THE SNAIL REACH THE ARK.

JUST KEEP GOING.

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