January 1st, 2010: I was in Lino Lakes Correctional Facility serving a 5 year sentence with a lil over 2.5 years to go. I found out I was going to treatment the following week. I had absolutely ZERO intention on remaining sober yet alone changing my life. I wanted to do the dance, do my time and get back out to the life I Loved/Hated so much. I had 4 kids at home and woman by my side and have to admit, I did not deserve her. At this time in my life, I was hard core drug user and drinker. My mind was full of the worst thoughts, intentions and my life reflected them. All of my stubbornness and nonchalant attitudes toward life would change a mere 4 months later.
January 1st, 2012: I am on the final stretch of my sentence with my release date approaching on August 1, 2012. I finished treatment after spending a whole year in the intensive treatment setting and I decided that I can do better. I can/should/will do better by my 4 kids whom have all doubled in age, size and mental capacity while I was locked up. My son actually took some of his first steps in the visiting room. It was a joyously sad day. I vowed to be a better man and if I were unable to, I wished to die.
Both of these instances, I stayed awake as late as I could. I watched the concerts on TV and imagined 2 completely different futures for my life. The first, I imagined being back in active use. I desired it deep to the core of my being. The second, I imagined being present. Being present with my kids, family and community. The person I was, I bottled up and was releasing a little bit of him at a time at Pipe & Drum and Sweatlodge. I didn't want to live that life anymore. My family deserved it, my kids, my lady (who was still surprisingly by my side) and I also deserved a life. I always thought that living well was fictional. Stuff you would only find in the movies or books. I couldn't imagine a life without drugs, crime and let alone bad thoughts. I thought I was so poisoned and warped that there was no coming back. I took a few small steps toward believing I was capable, willing and most of all worthy of living a good life in the previous few years and I knew the shame/guilt I would feel would crush the person I am now should I fail. I knew it was Life or Death.
August 1, 2012: I am going back to the Rez. If I can't make it here, there is no point making it at all. Two and half years of prepping brought me to the point to where I was still uneasy coming home. I did not want to.
January 1st, 2020: I spent at a sobriety powwow in Fond du Lac. I was surprised when I was given a 10 year medallion during the night. I have not gotten any coins for clean time before. This is my first. I looked at it was thinking about the decade it took to receive it. I had to lose my old self, although I still sense him, and rebuild from a foundational level in all areas of being, Mentally, Emotionally, Physically and Spiritually. I hear my babies sleeping as I write and the woman I love by my side. I now have 6 kids and 1 on the way. Once I accepted that I have purpose, I am deserving and I am worthy, my life has gotten better year by year. There have been struggles, ups & downs, times where I thought I was going to break along with times where I became so aware that is shook my spirit. I know today that I am sober, I am clean, I am aware, I am worthy, I am capable, I am deserving, I am willing, I am growing and I am supported. All of these took a removal of what I used to KNOW and replace with ideas/concepts/perspectives that I KNOW now. When I work on my mind, I grow emotionally, physically, spiritually; when I work on my emotions I grow mentally, physically, spiritually: and so on.
I do not know what 2020 will bring but I do know that if I honor the Manidoog, zhawenimigooyaan. I am given loving compassion. I strive to serve my community more, love my family more, grow as a partner, as a friend as a father. I aim to grow as an Anishinaabe.
Mii iw minik typiwichigeyaan.
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