Thursday, April 3, 2008

I must admit I shed some tears before I arrived at this computer.
I am beginning to see why people relapse at the year and a half mark. No, I am not in danger of relapsing. However, I have reached a level of frustration that I did not have the LUXURY to experience in the past. Sounds crazy I know.

Many people get to the year and a half mark of cleanliness. They crumble. Why? Because the next step is a big one. You fight so hard to get to this step. Take Gilbert. I told you about Gilbert.

I met him in the Transition House. He was the man who worked so hard to stay off of drugs. The whole time I knew him in the Transition House he was facing deportation. He dug in trash cans to make enough money to pay for all of the necessary fees to get to submit the information to the immigration department. He had to wait six months after struggling to get the money to find out if they were going to deport him due to his criminal record. On the last day of his vocational program, STRIVE, he received his green card in the mail.

He worked at two jobs. He reconnected with his family. He was reaching for the next level. The place where he worked full time wanted to hire him permanently. They did a background check and found out about his past. He had worked their for at least 6 months. When they received the background report, they fired him.

That has happened to a few people that I have known on Skid Row. A Staffing or temportary agency secures employment for a person with a third party. The person works out well. The are with the organization for an extended period of time and their employer is please with them. They seek to strengthen the relationship. They want to bring the person into the organization instead of being a temporary employee.
The do a background check. Whatever is on the background report precludes the possibility of the person being a full time employee.

I was lucky. I went about things a little differently. I never went through a temporary agency. I went direct. On a couple of occasions, I was told they could not hire me because of the felony. I was crushed. I thought I was doomed forever.
I hung in there. Each day I saw people on the street yelling,"Cavi, Cavi", "Weed,Weed". I would not turn my head. I kept walking.

I just kept going. I kept plugging away. I found a place that did not care about the background check. The first time they had to rescind the offer extended because of physical reasons. Luckily, another opportunity presented itself. The job was mine.

The disappointments that I have observed with people on Skid Row have taken place at roughly the year and a half mark. I am not talking about the ongoing relapse events that come day in and day out in Skid Row. I am talking about a pattern, a specific pattern. There are many patterns on Skid Row.

It is a about a year and a half into sobriety when people have things coming together. They may move into the next level to rejoin family. They may have the opportunity to secure a better employment situation. They may be up for promotion.
However, one thing is clear. There are turbulents when they want to climb to the next level. There are glitches. Many of them. It is not the ones that you expect that get you. The ones that knock you off balance are the unknown quantities.
Emotional feelings you never thought you would encounter. You would never know they existed unless you advanced yourself to the point where you would uncover them.

In Management 50, entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania, that particular phenomenon is called the veritacle factor. When you go down road A to get to B you stumble onto C. However you did not know C was there. They only way you ever could have stumbled on to C is going down the road to get to B.

Gilbert was on road A. He had a job. He had it for a long time. They wanted to hire him permanently. That was road B. The glitch came into play, C, when the background report revealed some things. Actually they already knew about it but now it was documented so he had to go.

That road block at that point in the rocovery road of many is quite common. People also get frustrated. They are within reach and they are so close but yet everything crumbles. When that happens, it becomes too much to bear. They do not know which way to go. They are learning so many new things that they like but they can not pursue them because of things outside of their control.


I have a job. I am taking th is course to qualify to renew my real estate license. I thought about it every day since all of this happened. I finally paid for the courses. I have the material. MY HEART IS NOT IN IT. Oh my god.

I did not count on those emotions. I must follow through. Even if the real estate department of the state denies me the opportunity, I still must finish this course. I am just like Gilbert was with respect to his Green Card.

Gilbert told me a long time ago that I was fighting hard. But he told me that I must fight HARDER. It took a long time for me to understand what he meant by that.

I can not let the possibility of being denied my license influence my actions. I can not let my EMOTIONAL state influence my actions. I must follow through. I mentioned in an earlier post that I may not ever use the license. However, I must at least try to get it back. I had it before all of this started. I must try to regain what I had.

I know longer talk to people in t he morning as soon as I wake up. I would do that to keep myself going. I would ask them questions. They were my security blankets.
I do not want to ask them things any longer. It is another way of standing on my own.

I do not see comments on my blog. I do not know if certain people are reading it. Several of them have been very supportive whether they know it or not. I would seek out their comments to sustain me on a regular basis.

I saw where my former mentor has established a sports think tank. OH my god. I am suited for it. In fact he has a child hood friend of mine as the director of the program. Oh my god. So close but so far. I would not have found out about these things if I had not been looking for something else. The veritacle factor.

"Go to your strength, Walter." Can I? Maybe I can write about sports. Maybe I can prepare for an opportunity later. Sports saved my life. The triathlon. The pursuit of excellence is what made me find myself. It enabled me to walk away from drugs.

However, what is my strength? I am at the stage where I am learning about myself.
I love sports. I love to write. I love real estate. I do not like getting listings or trying to find clients. I like management. Many of these things I was combining together before this all happened.

There are many things. I must not frustrate myself. That is what everyone does at this juncture. Sitting here, I realized that I am at this point where I can dream again. I can wonder if I can do something. Months ago I did not think anything was possible.

I looked at USC yesterday. I saw something that caught my attention, manager of the aquatics center. That was were I started to fight for my life when I trained for the triathlon.

I am realizing that I can blend my experiences. Real estate, sports, management, events. They all go together. The key is finding the right package.

Patience Walter. Maybe my childhood friend or my mentor may have doubts about me if I approach now. Just be patient. Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep exploring. Growing through this painful time will pay off. It will yield insights and strengths.

I believe that I can package myself so that my drug history can be vied as a benefit, not as a liability.

The year and a half mark is one where a person can be catapulted to the next level. I was told that it can overwhelm people. Lots of things are going on.
The courts, my mom. new friendships. old friendships returning. old friendships that can now be healthy because I am healthy. New attitudes which bring about new discoveries. One must be patient. One must endure. One must not be myopic.

I took a job at the golf course because I wanted to learn from the bottom up.

I am at the bottom of my new level. The key thing is that I am at this new level. The key thing is that I am wondering what Charlie would think. I am wondering how to make myself valuable instead of concluding that I will be rejected.

Yesterday, a woman with whom I developed an internet friendship emailed me. She was the first person that I emailed about this time last year when I got out of jail.
I needed to connect and I knew I would at least hear back from her.

Anyway, she told me that she found my blog and that she finally feels like she knows me. She was only sorry that I did not trust our friendship enough to believe in it or her. She said I did not think she would like me any more if I told her about what I was going through. However, my honesty, on my blog, is what endeared her to me more than anything.

The same thing happened at that Aon Building. I was honest with the man. I told him the truth. I did not get the job but I am developing a relationship with the organization, largely, as a result of being honest.

I discussed drugs openly in this blog. I was scared at first but it has brought so much to me.

Yesterday, with my friend and even the real estate course that I am taking, is teaching me what I need to know at this level. My honest is freeing me up in ways that I never knew it could. The veritacle factor.

It has brought people back into my life who have read my blog. It has freed me to see opportunities. It has freed me to see where I can be CREATIVE in packaging myself to take advantage of opportunities.

There is a lot to learn at this stage. Every day is a learning experience. I know this much. I want my degree. I was so close to getting my degree and I let it go.

That is why I can not NOT finish this course. I must see it through. An instructor in the strive program said to me that I must finish it even if I never do it. Or finish it and learn something new about the industry or discipline.

My mentor told me that I must go to my strength. He also said to me that what a person has done in the past is the best way to predict what they will do in the future. I used to hate that comment. I mean I really used to hate it. He was director of admission to the Wharton Graduate School years ago. He said that was a basis on which he would make his decision on who would be accepted. It made sense.
However I hated it. Why? Because I was not doing anything to move forward, not substantively.

One thing about progress, is that it must be ongoing and it must be in many areas for it to be recognized and have weight to other people.

I do not hate those statements by Charlie any longer. My mentor, by the way, is Charles Grantham. Charlie was the director of Admissions for Wharton School of Finance, University of Pennsylvania. He was also the executive director of the
National Basketball Association Players Union. He and Judge Leon Higgonbotham taught me so much.

Anyway, I hated that statement from him. Now I am embracing it. It makes sense.
He would say to me. "I told you so, Walter." The courts are leaning toward me because of what I am doing NOW. That is the key point, NOW.

I do not have to worry about the past. I have updated my resume. I have stopped drugs. Charlie would be shocked to know that. He probably does not believe I could have done so. I did the triathlon. I started this blog. I am continuing this blog and yes I am working and yes I am growing and yes, I am renewing my license.

What somebody will do in the future is largely based on what he has done in the past.

The key thing is that one must look at one's total past. My friends are not. They sat on the sidelines for years hoping that I would wake up.

My friend Diane showed me that I can be viewed differently. Several others have as well.

People who are at this stage must look at the right things when they are on the comeback trail. They must not look at the distant past. Dont punish yourself. Give yourself credit.

When City Attorneys and police officers spoke on my behalf they knew of my past. They did not condemn me. They support my present and want to help me plan my future.

My sister said take little steps. There are so many little steps to take. I am grateful that AI am seeing them along the way. At this stage, so much is going on it is easy to be overwhelmed.

It is also an opportunity to move forward and be creative. A friend, Charlotte, told me that. "Walter, go to your strengths. You have many. Being creataive is one of them."

STay focused Walter. You learned a lot within the last 24 hours.

Learn what you need to learn. See what you need to see.

be patient.

3 comments:

philpalm said...

It must be the season to reflect. I too have been on the road to recovery and some of your sentiments touch me too.

I work as an independent contractor and have basically no life or romance due to my insecurities about my recovery.

It is easy to use the slide in the economy as an excuse for not working. It is easy for an intelligent person to use any excuse or ignore the excuses and just move on.

Real life doesn't end living happily ever after, it continues to be one struggle after another if one is pestimistic or just one experience after another if you are trying to remain optimistic...

I dream that daily clean up crews keep skid row clean, everyone has a cart to keep their things in and peace and harmony can dwell everywhere....such a dream is possible if people strive to make things better....

Big City Poz said...

Stay strong, Walter. This too will pass.

L.A. Woman said...

This was a great read. You have the right attitude. Keep writing.