This time last year, I was visibly shaking with a combination of excitement and anxiety as I walked out the prison gates. It was a surreal experience — almost as strange as the fantastical nightmare that is prison. A few days after I got home, I actually took a contraband bath by taking every item that I could find at home that would’ve been considered contraband in prison and putting it into the bathtub. I had food items containing chocolate liquour flavoring, red pens, Sharpie permanent markers, Q-tips, scissors, black clothes, hiking boots with metal on them, an iPod, some dog hair (the dog was rather reluctant to get in), a knife, a real bra with underwire, clothes containing spandex, underwear with a colorful pattern on it, body spray with high alcohol content, a container of real ground coffee, liquid creamer (in the container), and other sundry verboten items. It was uncomfortable, but liberating.
A year later, I still revel in these contraband items every time I come across them. Unfortunately, I also still have prison-related nightmares on a semi-regular basis as well. However, as difficult as certain aspects of the readjustment process have been, I have managed to accomplish some things I’m proud of this year:
- I got out. And stayed sober.
- I wrote a book!
- I wrote over 4000 trivia questions and 180 different freelance articles.
- I signed up for a 5K (see this post for more)
- Resolved all my DMV issues and paid fines in two states.
- Finished a required 10-month outpatient program (that made me want to gouge my eye out on a regular basis)
- Read around 100 books
- Created a website
I know that a lot of these things (except perhaps the book) may not seem like huge accomplishments to most people, but the fact is that ALL of them, with the exception of all the reading, are things I never would have done while I was still using.
I realize that the rest of my life will be exponentially more difficult with a felony on my record than it would’ve been otherwise — but of course it’s also going to be much easier now that I’m sober. I have many regrets and wasted opportunities that I think about every day, and sometimes it feels like moving past them is impossible, but I think this first year has been a step in the right direction.