Hungry for Growth
Danny was working his butt off for his recovery. He enjoyed doing the exercises I gave him. His self-talk was horrible. No one could belittle, berate or hold him back with discouraging comments more than himself. I made him write letters of positive affirmations to himself that were gentle, kind, encouraging, and loving. I had him pretend they were coming from a loving parent. He loved that assignment. I made it a point not to scold, belittle or criticize him. He did enough of that himself.
Danny pushed himself to the max. He found a part-time job at a filling station where they still checked your oil, tires, and pumped gas for you. He was great at serving others, and once he cleaned up, people loved him.
After a couple of months, I told him he needed to hide the needle tracks because most people were shocked by them. He started wearing long sleeve shirts, even though it was warm out.
I felt Danny’s drug use was more about numbing the pain of everyday life than for any type of enjoyment. I felt he had started his using career by trying to self-medicate his more in-depth issues. I am not a doctor, but I didn’t need to be to know that he definitely suffered from PTSD. He certainly showed signs of ADD and maybe even Bipolar disorder.
I knew I had to help him escape from his self-destructive thinking and become more confident. My sponsor in Florida had taught me the importance of change. He said to me more than once, “Yes, our twelve steps and our meetings are important. What is just as important for you though will be, different. When he said this to me. I immediately asked, “Huh?” Then, “John Marshall, whatever your first instinct is to anything, do something else. You are so prone to self-destruction that your first instinct is something that will destroy whatever good is coming to you.” With that, I started to learn the importance of thinking things through before I reacted. Now, I needed to convey this to Danny.
Danny was chasing his recovery with a vengeance. He dived right into getting involved with helping at the meetings, and as a result, he was getting quick results. Danny was beginning to make friends. One night we were supposed to go to a meeting, and he called and asked if we could cancel so he could go to a meeting with his new friends. I was happy and sad. I knew this was going to become a more regular thing as he became more settled into his new friendships and I would miss him.
I was wrong. The more Danny got involved with these young guys that were applying themselves to the program, the more he wanted to grow and keep up with them. He started to push me for time to do the step work so he could learn as much as he could about the program, how it worked and the history of it.
I didn’t have children of my own, but many times watching Danny made me think, ‘I could not be prouder of this kid even if he were my own.’
I shared with Danny what I learned from my sponsor in Florida and Gerald and all the other old guys in the room. He loved their wit and wisdom. I had the pure pleasure of hearing him quote them from time to time in our meetings.
I still didn’t introduce Danny and Gerald and I was beginning to feel really selfish about it. Actually, I had never found the courage to tell Gerald any of what had happened in the treatment facility. Danny, Debra, and all those memories still carried a lot of hurt and guilt. I know he would have been completely supportive and helpful, but for some reason I held that back. I knew Gerald and Danny would hit it off and I knew Gerald would want to take him under his other wing. I was already under one. I was not ready to share my time with Gerald. There was still so much for me to learn from him. I was working on trying to win Danny’s trust, and I enjoyed feeling like I was his hero. Still, I struggled with the honesty of it all. I justified that it was alright not to tell him, ‘I wasn’t actually lying by not telling him. I just didn’t say anything.
Danny and I really got into the steps. I had done my steps with a gentle soul, Bill, in Florida. He took me through all the steps in one afternoon. Of course, I had spent a few days of writing stuff down before we met, but in a four-hour afternoon, we covered a lot of ground. Now it was time for me to try to do for Danny what Bill had done for me. Danny’s eagerness was refreshing. It reminded me of my early years, and his whole approach was; “Let’s do this.”
I wanted to do the best I could to help Danny. I needed to prepare myself by knowing all I could about the twelve steps. I had learned that the best way to teach someone is to be what you would have them become. I needed to study, and I needed to make damn sure that I was doing everything I was suggesting to him.
In one of the many books I read about the twelve steps, there was mention of rigorous honesty, which can be a very elusive term. I came up with my own definition. Rigorous Honesty: When my feet and my lips are telling the same story. I had also learned from another reading, to teach is to demonstrate.
I had volumes of information in my head about the AA program and the steps. I now needed to make sure I was practicing the principles derived from those same steps and allow that information to become the wisdom that Gerald had spoken to me about and become a part of me. In short, I needed to be the example to Danny that Gerald and the others were for me. My prayer was very simple; Please help me to be a better man.
Before Danny’s reentry into my life, Gerald and I, only spoke infrequently about the twelve steps. Now I needed to know all I could and I wanted his input.
John Marshall has been through hell—and made it out alive. Following a troublesome childhood, he battled addiction as an adult but has now been a three-year member of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. He’s married and looking to give back as a way of thanking all the people who saved him as a troubled youth.
He gets a job at Children’s Haven, an adolescent drug rehab center in Florida. He was hired for a very special reason. The higher-ups don’t want him for his flexible schedule but because of his personal experiences. Since many staff members don’t seem to care for the teens, John is the one who understands what they’re going through and can reach out on a personal level.
There is nothing simple about recovery though. John has faced his demons, but he must now help others overcome their own problems. The patients struggle, as does the staff, through moments of pain and tragedy together. The Bridge is poignant, honest, and semiautobiographical as author Johnnie Calloway shares the fictionalized version of working through addiction in his own life.
About the Author
Johnnie Calloway is committed to helping others heal. He is author of “Dragons to Butterflies, and Taming the Dragon, (to be revised and released soon) and he is the podcast host of “Morph into a New You”. He has been certified as a ‘Thought Coach’ by the Institute For Transformational Thinking, (IFTT). A facilitator and student of A Course in Miracles classes and a thirtyfour-year follower of the twelve steps. Through his writings and his storytelling he shares with us the spiritual teachings he has used to totally transform his own life and find inner peace. His greatest hope is to assist his readers ‘save time’ on their journey. His means of helping, blogs, podcasts, books and teaching classes.
Coming soon will be parts two and three of The Bridge trilogy.