Two Hands Reaching In
Tonight I’m sitting in a prison dayroom in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I’m 13 months away from completing a 12-year sentence. To say the least, I’ve had more than enough time to learn from my mistakes.
I’ll keep my story short and tell you all my prison time is due to me going to any lengths to stay drunk and high on whatever would alter my state of mind. My main reason for writing to Grapevine is to show a lot of gratitude and respect for a few very special people.
Recently I was transferred to a new facility. My last prison was in Hillsborough, North Carolina. While I was there in minimum custody, I earned the privilege of attending AA meetings outside the prison facility with an approved sponsor from the outside community.
My approved sponsor was a guy named Tom. He was also my actual AA sponsor. Tom took time out of his life to come into the prison twice a week to take me to outside meetings. I used to ask myself, Why was this guy doing this?
At that time I’d been sober for only a couple of years. Being in prison does not mean you do not have access to mind-altering substances of all types. I chose to change my life in here. I went to AA meetings inside the prison to do that, and I did not drink.
Tom took me to as many outside AA meetings as he could. He also took me out to eat every time he picked me up. Eventually Tom’s work schedule became so hectic that he was not able to pick me up anymore. That turned out to be OK because during his time helping me, I met my current sponsor, Ryan. Ryan also took the time out of his life to come to the prison and take the extensive training required to be an approved sponsor. Once again, I asked myself, Why was this guy doing this for me?
About a year later, I was moved to another correctional center. Being a true friend and sponsor, right away Ryan sent in a visitation application to be able to come visit me. Just getting here from his home takes him about an hour of driving. Now that I’m even further away, he still visits me and brings me a nice meal when he comes. That’s a ton of time and money to take me to AA meetings and feed me. I often wondered why these AA members went out of their way to help me.
Then one day I finally understood. By helping me, Ryan was showing me what it means to give back. He’s taught me that in order to succeed I must be willing to go to any length to help others. Most of all, without even realizing it, he has shown me how to love and not be selfish. I’ve learned that being selfish was a big problem in my life in the outside world. Thinking of others instead of myself will help me stay sober. I’m so thankful for both Tom and Ryan.
If you’re ever in Durham, North Carolina, please try to stop by the AA meeting on Saturday night at the Durham clubhouse. Not only will you get a chance to meet a really great guy named Ryan, but you will also be introduced to a lot of really great and loyal AA brothers and sisters. I’ve been so fortunate to have the help of my home group members at the Durham Young People’s Group. Each and every one of them accepted and welcomed me knowing my history of being incarcerated. I can’t wait to get back to them when I get out of here.
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