I sincerely hope that if someone feels a blog is directed at them, they use it for an impetus for change. I’ve written plenty of blogs that were anonymous generalities. That doesn’t seem to work. We’ve all heard the slogan, “if nothing changes, nothing changes.”
I haven’t done a shameless book plug in what seems like forever, but in my memoir, Shoestring Theories, available on Amazon or by clicking HERE, the book starts with my ex-wife’s Amazon review of my first attempt at a memoir. In a word it was caustic. I was pissed off because she didn’t review the book, probably didn’t even read it, she attacked my character. I put that in the new book because that is exactly who I was. I tainted the good times we shared, I shattered the trust we had. I broke her heart because the drugs were more important than her. It hurt me to read the truth, but it was the truth. Who I was in addiction, the liar, the thief, the ruiner of happiness, has gone a long way into becoming the man I am. As Jack Nicholson said, “you can’t handle the truth.” I disagree Jack, maybe back then, but today the truths about me past and present don’t phase me. Just one of the gifts from the steps and being led through them by a great sponsor.
Then a member of a group text sent this quote:
“Strong characters are not derived from not doing wrong but rather from actually doing right. Unselfishness is the badge of human greatness. The highest levels of self-realization are attained by worship and service. The happy and effective person is motivated, not by fear of wrongdoing, but by love of right doing.” -Michael Josephson
So if you know someone who has had their life taken too soon by addiction, you get there is a big difference between taking someone’s “inventory” versus shedding light on actions that are detrimental to an addict’s journey towards recovery.
Ok, The stories here were all witnessed by myself, because I lived at this Place right off of Swinton. I got out of DAF the same way I went in, broke. There was a federal grant program that gave people a free month of rent at this “halfway” house. It was a huge blessing, not to mention a lot of my friends I was in DAF with were already there. I met some great men there, and a lot of us have celebrated a year clean at various times in 2015. The first guy who greeted me there gave me my year on June 18th. His clean date is February 4th, which means he’s nearing 2 years.
The federal grant program ran out back in October of 2014. As the core group of guys moved out, no one was really moving in. All the rumors of everyone shooting dope, rampant bed bugs, and whatever else were false. The place was neglected, sure, but it was a stable place to rest my head. Then one rumor was proven to be true.
A guy almost died. His name is Jimmy. After being rushed to the ER, he came back and demanded to be let into his apartment. Turns out, this place has zero licensing, and therefore had no authority to throw him out. The solution: Bribe him, pay him his security deposit and balance on the week to leave. What the fuck? Giving an active junkie CASH? Why not hand him a loaded gun or a noose after he says “Life just isn’t any fun anymore?” Jimmy DIED the next day. Addiction kills people. So many good but troubled people.
That pissed me off. It still does, and nothing gets done to prevent future deaths. Jimmy wasn’t the only one they paid to leave. Any halfway house resident knows they lose their security if the commitment isn’t fulfilled. Well, they gave this guy both of his back to leave. Thankfully he’s still alive. What an awesome message to send the “clients” who were in fact just renters. If you used and chose to stay, there was nothing they could do other than go through the eviction process. The place turned into the joke it is.
I ended up staying there an extra few months because I felt I had to try and bring to light solutions, the simplest being, get a fucking hotel license. Do you have any idea what it is like to live with an active junkie while clean? Thank God for neutrality. Jimmy’s whole apartment relapsed, one guy carrying it through eviction. I’ll never forget sitting outside, and watching the guy stagger over to his apartment door. I texted the manager: “He made it by curfew if you give him the 5 minutes it took him to stumble over to his door.” Problem was he would be an angry drunk, and guys on probation with anger issues had to be talked down more than a few times that month.
I tried to talk to the owner, begged the manager to get him to a house meeting. Never happened. The shit show continues, intense pressure to pay the rent, even though so many come in with no job. I went through this, even under the grant program because I was paid bi-weekly and they held one check back, meaning I didn’t get paid for almost a month. This was before Jimmy died. Before the ugly truth came out. It stressed the hell out of me.
“You can find $135. I’m not a bank.”
Correction mother fucker, my last “run” was five year descent into utter hell, the only thing I did well other than getting high all the time was take up pyromania when it came to bridges. Friends and family watched from the virtual horizon, reading this blog, wondering if once and for all I had truly given up the fight. Praying that all those brushes with death were finally over with. Almost 18 months later, I’m still grateful for my life and all those in it.
In the end, the owner only cares about one thing: cash. It’s the only accepted payment in reality. Checks are an unwritten no-no (and not the hair removal thing). He even came to my job because he couldn’t wait 45 minutes for me to get home. “Rent’s due by 6:00 on Friday.” What if you get paid Monday? I even suggested a 2-week scholarship period for guys getting out of rehab. I might as well presented a plan calling for providing free hookers on Saturdays for guys who fulfill the 6-month commitment. If the place was full and guys were blowing up his cell phone to get in with a month’s rent in hand. The place was barely at 50%. What’s better, give someone a break to get on their feet, or have empty beds? Take a chance on someone. It’s a halfway house, it’s supposed to be about recovery.
To this very day, they still can’t legally kick someone out. I spent a month with 2 people getting high in my apartment. I had no choice. I wasn’t allowed to switch apartments. It was hell, and thank God I was blessed with neutrality. What about a guy with 10 days clean watching his roommate nodding off? One of those roommates I call my friend, he’s clean and doing alright, the other, no clue what happened to him.
In that book called big yet is regular sized, we learn about the spiritual principles we live by to recover: honesty, hope, faith, courage, integrity, willingness, humility, (brotherly) love, discipline/justice, perseverance, spiritual awareness, and service. We live by these. These are the actions which keep us clean, which help us change and grow. It’s not easy, and none of us are perfect by any means, certainly not me.
I actually struggle in writing these types of blogs. All of us in recovery have a choice, turn a blind eye, or do something about it. In the end, I always end up thinking about the welfare of people who walk into a situation expecting an environment that will aid them in recovery. That person has to do all the work, but a halfway house should support that, it should be as advertised, not anything less. There are no fucks given by this owner. Check that, there is one fuck given, rent. I think about parents desperate to get their kids well, that Google “Halfway Houses Delray Beach” and look at a website, make a phone call, and send their son or daughter there. If they only knew the truth. They are going to though.