It Never Gets Better Pt.3 – Ryan N_July 2019

…continued from May/June 2019

I will never forget the van ride from Davis County Jail to the Utah State Prison. I knew that I was going to prison, I just did not think it would be the same day I was sentenced. We arrived at the prison around 10:30 am. Just the sight of the place made me sick. It did not matter that I had driven past the prison hundreds of times, it looked and felt differently on this day. So, they took us in Uinta 5 which was R&O (registration and orientation) and as I said before it was July so it was hot outside and upon entering this building, it was even hotter. The place was old, it was nothing like the jail I had just come from. This place was like the prisons seen on t.v. metal bars, walls, toilet and sink and the cell was so small dark and dirty.
The projected time a person spent in R&O was about 3 to 6 months back then. During this time they map you and then send you on your way. The biggest thing that has stuck in my mind is the paper you have to sign, that being your death certificate. I was like, why? What does this even mean? It wasn’t until later that another inmate explained it to me. Got to be honest, when I first went to prison I was scared, but once I hit population I got into the grove of things. I got a job but really wasn’t trying to do much. I was in population for about 6 months when I was offered heroin for the first time. I had never used i.v. drugs, but I was down. I put a needle in my arm and used heroin for the first time in my life in prison. For the next two years I did nothing but party and work in the culinary.
Then I got moved to the Horizon Program. I did 4 years the first time, then I was out for 3 months, came back, got out for 8 months this time and back again. Around 2004 I came back to prison and I wanted something different so I wrote to the director of the Con-quest Program and I was moved to that facility about a month or two later. This was where I started to learn about myself and who I had become over the years. In the Con-quest Program there was a lot of classes that I was required to attend. We also had to teach seminars and personal growths. We had small group therapy and one on one, but that just wasn’t enough. I needed more so I started to go to A.A. meetings during my free time at night. I would go to meetings 7 days a week. After a while I started to chair some meetings. There was a volunteer named Pete, he was awesome, and this was where the real getting sober years started.
We had A.A. work shops every 3 months. An A.A. workshop lasted all day long for 2 days, Saturday and Sunday. We would work through all 12 steps as a group. That way we all new how to work the steps. Then we would eat dinner together and end the work shop on Sunday night with a speaker meeting. The main reason for the work shops was so all of us that worked our steps could start to sponsor new comers in A.A. Here at Con-quest, this was where the real work of sobriety began. For the next 3.5 years I worked my program of recovery in A.A. I went to meetings, I chaired them and I sponsored many. I worked and lived by the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I had about a year and a half left before I was going to parole, which seemed like forever. Sometime in December I was moved to a different part of the prison, which was where they have work programs for inmates. This facility was called Lone Peak. This was awesome, I can work, my time will go by faster, and I could save up some money. This indeed was going to be one step closer to freedom. Weekend home visits. Lone Peak was ultimately going to be a true test. I got there around dinner time, walked to my section and was greeted by many. I told myself I wasn’t going to smoke, that it was way too costly. First thing my buddy asked me to come outside with him to smoke. That there was mistake number one. I thought to myself, I can just have one. Well as you know that was not the case. There was not much to do here, they only had one A.A. meeting a week, so until I was able to get on a work crew I was going to stay busy and stay out of the mix because there was a whole lot going on there. Drugs such as meth, heroin, cocaine, pills, pot the very things I was trying not to be a part of.
I was at Lone Peak about 2 weeks in desperate need of some positive support. One A.A. meeting a week was not doing the trick for me. No one there seemed to be at or on the same level as I was. Not that I was judging them, I was just trying to change my life. I started telling myself every day, “this is just a test” and I would keep saying it until Saturday when I could go to my A.A. meeting. As time went on I stayed sober and I stayed as positive as I could.
I just did things to stay busy. I kept asking the officers about work or job openings. I would volunteer to do work in the facility just to pass time and show them I was a hard worker. Two weeks of that did some good because on Monday morning I was called to the officer’s desk and was asked if I wanted to go to work. Of course my answer was yes. You see, that’s where all of my hard work started to pay off. Like it says in the Big Book and in step 10, “if we are painstaking about this phase of our development…” The promises, there are so many of them sometimes we don’t notice them and other times we do. I just know God is doing for me what I’m not able to do for myself, like it says in the Big Book, “are these extreme promises? We think not.”
At this point in my sobriety and the struggles I was going through, I was truly being tested. The way I was feeling and the way my past was, it was only a matter of time before my insecurities got the best of me. So yes, this job was a gift because it was able to occupy my mind, which in the long run helped me to build my confidence and kept me sober during a time when there was not a lot of support and only one A.A. meeting a week. I just know that I was extremely grateful that I had my Big Book. I look back on different times during my past and I realize that I always felt so alone, so lost and so empty. I just wanted that feeling to go away and I new of only one thing that would take that feeling away, drugs. That might have been what worked in the past, but now it’s not an option. I had to find something to get me through the next 9 months because work was good but it just was not enough.
One Sunday morning I was real board so I decided to read out of the Big Book. I grabbed my book and it opened up to step 4, make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves…This is funny that my book opened up to this page. This is the step I always get stuck on and or half step. This step has always been so intimidating or too difficult for me to do. In my mind as long as I do all the other steps it will all work out in the end, which in the past that was never the case. No matter what I always seemed to find myself drinking and then that led to using cocaine or meth. So I told myself that day to stop being a lazy chicken shit, and I sat down and spent the entire day doing my 4th step inventory.
I was so excited and motivated to finish it before the next meeting, which I did, and on that Saturday afternoon I went to the meeting and no one but the volunteer showed up, so I shared with him what I had been up to and he asked if I wanted to do a 5th step with him. I said that would be awesome. Step 5, admit to God, to ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. We went through the prayers just like in the Big Book and then went to my list. We did not get it all done but the next weekend we finished it all up. What a great experience! I cannot express in words the feelings, however going through this process got me through the last stretch of my time. There was the Big Book, the 12 steps, and another member of A.A. giving back to another member who was struggling.

to be continued in August 2019…

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