Skip to main content

When the past catches up with you

I've mentioned previously that I volunteer at a federal women's prison camp. I take an Alcoholics Anonymous into the facility every Tuesday evening. Between 80 and a hundred women show up every week, and we either read from the Big Book, have an open discussion on a recovery-related topic or listen as someone shares her recovery story with the group.

Last night we read from the chapter called "Working With Others," which is what the 12th step suggests we do in order to maintain our own sobriety. One of the women shared a little of her story – one of continuous relapsing and getting into trouble, but marked now by a deep desire to once-and-for-all change her way of life.

She and I talked after the meeting ended. She looked familiar to me, and I asked if she'd been at the prison before. She had, four years previously. She was back on a parole violation. She remembered me, remembered that my dad, at that time, had been gravely ill.

She was sad to learn that he died two years ago, and hugged me.

The group is large and fluid, women come and go from week to week, month to month. Sometimes we volunteers don't know if they've been released or transferred or just decided maybe AA wasn't for them any more.

When we do know they're leaving, we encourage them to find meetings when they get home, to stick with the program, above all else to NOT DRINK. We wish them luck and say we don't ever want to see them again unless it's at an outside meeting.

But it doesn't always work out that way. I can say this with certainty: Every woman I know who has been reincarcerated due to a parole violation has stopped working an AA program, stopped going to meetings, stopped helping others, stopped asking for help. It isn't so much that they started drinking or using drugs again. It's that they stopped doing all the things that had been keeping them sober.

I welcomed her back, told her I was glad she decided to come back to the meeting. She thanked me for continuing to carry the message to women like her, in rooms like that, all these years later.

It's moments like those that keep me going back, week after week, month after month, year after year.

Comments

Vickie said…
Bless you. I know it is a long drive. I know it is not pleasant surroundings. But what a great thing it is to bring light/hope with you in your efforts.
Kathy said…
What a rewarding and inspiring thing that you do. You are a blessing to each and every life you have touched.

Kathy
http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com
Anonymous said…
Love this, Mom. You're a good one. :)
Debbi said…
And it's a great thing that each week I *leave* with so much light and hope. Those women are amazing.
Debbi said…
They bless me back, they really do. Thanks, Kathy.
Debbi said…
So are you. Thanks.
MadAnne said…
What a great thing you do! I didn't know they had a volunteer program, are ther other opportunities?
Debbi said…
Without volunteers, federal prisons would have far fewer recreational, educational and spiritual programs for inmates. My only experience is with federal facilities, but I'm sure state and local institutions need volunteers as well. I have also taught drawing at this prison (I no longer do so, but I trained an inmate to take over). If there is a prison or jail near you, call to ask if there are volunteer opportunities available.
Anonymous said…
Good post, Debbi. I see a lot of parallels to other things in life - we might think we're standing still, but really we're holding on fiercely so we don't move backward. Sometimes it's most important just to not stop doing the things that keep our heads above water.

Popular posts from this blog

YES!

Update on the water: the circuit breaker tripped, either due to a power surge when the electricity came back on last night OR when lightning struck in the area. My neighbor's electric fence control box got hit in the same area. He was able to reset the circuit breaker for us and we have WATER! I think I'll go do a load of laundry. Heh.

It's all about the food

The dieting portion of this blog is temporarily suspended. Continue reading at your own risk.

If you’re going to throw a party, be sure to have good food and plenty of it. That’s my daughter’s philosophy, and I think it’s pretty good advice.

The members of the group who will be here Thursday night are middle-aged and older, so I think mostly traditional appetizers are in order. We’ll have Swedish meatballs and those little sausages cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, along with artichoke dip, hummus with vegetables and crackers, a bowl of cinnamon-spiced nuts and a fruit pizza.

Cupcakes are on the menu. Cupcakes sure seem to be popular these days – Google Blogsearch came up with 1,181,447 hits and amazon.com is selling a boatload of cupcake cookbooks.

Mine are plain old chocolate, and will be decorated with the words “Yes We Can” on top. I think some will be iced in blue and some in white, with red lettering.

I’m also making pig candy. I first had this at one of my daughter’s Oscar parties s…

And the winner is …

Kitten with a Whiplash, who left two comments and it was the second (which had nothing to do with the contest) which won the prize. Congratulations, and since the Kitten was the only commenter who expressed any interest in actually winning it, I'm so glad the Universe took care of it. Heh.

What a weekend! But first, how was yours? I hope you did some fun stuff and got some necessary stuff done, as well. It's all about balance.

Saturday was our fun day (but we had to drive, drive, drive to get there and then drive, drive, drive home again, all in one day, boy was I tired). We went to my husband's granddaughter's first birthday party. In addition to a sweet little doll, suitable for ages 0+ (meaning it has no parts that will come loose, and do you know how difficult it is to find dolls for babies when you live in the Middle of Nowhere?), I made her this:


I haven't sewn anything in a month of Sundays, so was a little apprehensive about finishing it on time, but this p…