Facing The Past

I have a criminal record. A rap sheet with quite a number of charges on it, from three different states, spanning twelve years of my life. Most of the charges ended up being dismissed, but there are two misdemeanor DUI charges and a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge that are convictions.

I have spent a lot of time sidestepping this fact, or pretending that it didn’t matter, or denying that it would affect my life. Something happened recently that changed my mindset. I got sick last month. Weirdly sick with some kind of urinary tract infection or kidney infection, or something else perhaps, that my doctor couldn’t figure out. I was in some pain, and scared, and I spent a lot of time thinking about my life and the way I live it. The illness went away after about a month, but I am left with the feeling that I want to do more with my time here on Earth.

While I was actively drinking I let a lot of things fall through the cracks. I dropped out of graduate school after making a big mess of my master’s program, got into legal trouble in spurts from the time I was eighteen, and let my finances crumble to the point where there were legal implications as well as some damage to my credit. I denied that all of these things were problems. Or at least, they were problems that were inexplicably happening to me even though I was living perfectly. I was a victim. I denied alcohol’s role and took no personal responsibility.

It’s not my fault that cops are assholes. It’s not my fault that my professors hate me and don’t want me to succeed in this stupid program. It’s not my fault that the credit system is made to only help rich people. It’s not my fault, you see. None of this is my fault. 

Good news: I am finally facing my record. At least I think it is good news… a step in the right direction towards making amends. I am trying my best to clean up the messes that I made during my drinking years. Some of it can never be cleaned up and will haunt me forever, but I am not scared of it anymore. I will no longer lie about it or try to hide it or hope that my records are somehow destroyed in a freak fire. No, it is a part of me. A scar from my past that has made me stronger today. A good reminder that I can never go back down that path unless I want to completely ruin my life. A reminder that I don’t ever want to go back down that path. I like living free of fear and feeling happy with myself when I wake up in the morning. I am grateful for the ups and downs of my life.

Recovery is possible, friends. It might take vigilance and time, but it is possible.

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16 thoughts on “Facing The Past

  1. You are so, so brave….. And you’re not the same person now that you were back then. Thank you for your honesty! Every person alive has made mistakes. It takes a really big person to own them, learn from them, make amends, and move on.

    Big hugs,
    Mary

  2. Good for you. Fackng my past has been difficult. I never denied it but I have been denied plenty of times as a result of it. So its very hard for me to forget. I will never give up trying to clean up the wreckage of my past. Thank you for sharing this. Its a reminder that I am not alone. Peace and blessings.

    • I agree! Exhausting. I haven’t felt the need to hide anything for awhile, but then again I haven’t been putting myself out there in certain ways, either. Facing the past head on feels really good!

  3. A brave post. Thank you for having the courage to write it. Amazing when we find the courage to face and do things that we previously thought were impossible, isn’t it? Continued peace.

  4. I have been sober for a bunch of years. When I went to school in the 70s, I accumulated a whopping 0.7 GPA. The last time I dropped out of school back then, I remember lecturing my advisor about how I did not need his “bourgeois” education and I would go out and make it on my own. Fast forward another 10 plus years of drinking, and then a few more years of sobriety where I actually finished my B.A. and first year of my M.A. and then was awarded a rather prestigious fellowship for the second year of my M.A., and who was the dude who handed me the ceremonial check at the awards event? My advisor I had lectured all those years ago! Of course, he did not remember me.

    I think too that these things that “haunt” us in early sobriety end up turning into some of our greatest assets. I went on to get a PhD and now teach at a University. Inevitably, somewhere during each course I teach, circumstances or events make it appropriate for me to raise the 0.7 GPA of my past. I do so as an example to all that there is redemption. I also make a casual note in my comment how that my academic recovery was coupled with my recovery from alcohol and drugs. Inevitably at least one student in each class will approach me about their own addiction issues and how they are trying to get their lives back on track. In this way, I see my past as a true benefit in sharing my story with others.

    Best wishes as you continue on your recovery road.

    • Wow, thank you for this comment! I have been thinking of going back to school or pursuing a career that might check into my record, which is part of what started this process. It might be a long road, but I love hearing that my past can be an asset in the future. Thank you for sharing…what an amazing an inpsirational story. 🙂

      • Hi Jenis, I just came across your blog in my research on alcoholism for one of my projects. I admire how brave you and also Roberlsf are by sharing your stories publicly and the amount of support you get from your readers is just amazing. It’s nice to read such positive vibes! Good luck with your mission! I’m sure you will succeed. And if you can go back to education, I would. I recently did a short course on film-related aspects and I was amazed how great it felt to be learning again. To expand in my way of seeing life and finding new ways of self-expression. Good luck! Mally

  5. I have just been thinking about things like this recently: all the missed opportunities and how I could change that. I was remembering the time I was driving with a limited license (from the one DUI I ever got when I was 21. I still wonder how it’s possible that I only have one) and went out drinking and ended up going through a DUI check- and then speeding away to escape from it! Of course I got pulled over and for some odd reason the policeman just let me park my car and get a ride from a friend. So many of those “what the hellll was I thinking/doing?” moments.

    I am proud that you are facing what has happened and knowing what is happening. What a thing, this sober life! xxxooo

  6. Facing your past is really brave and inspiring and I just want to give you a big hug. I also had my stints in jail, always related to alcohol in one way or another, twice with that rage inside – domestic violence. I believe with all my heart that being courageous as you are, being honest with ourselves, is the most healing thing we can do. Thank you for sharing.

  7. The best and the most difficult thing we can do for ourselves is to own our truth. Bravo for embracing yours. Bravo for being brave and courageous in your journey. And bravo for inspiring others to do the same.

    Sherry

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