Many who struggle with addiction die or go to prison. Yet, sometimes miracles occur. These are the stories of those miracles
Booker throws it down in today's episode
I’m Booker, I’m 44 years old and I’ve been sober a little over six years. I was a complete failure, man, in every aspect of my life. Every. I was unemployable, I was homeless, facing another trip back to the penitentiary. Yeah, it was bad. It was bad. Trouble was coming. When I hit the scene, people dispersed, I was in complete acceptance, man, of what my life was going to look like. Well, I’m going to create wreckage. I’m going to go back to the penitentiary. I’ve been in prison three times. So basically from 1999 to 2010-11, I was incarcerated in intervals. I would get out for nine months, all directly related to drugs and alcohol too, like direct correlation. And I was in acceptance of that. Like, this is my life. I’m going to create wreckage, and I’m going to go back and I’m going to be a useless member of society, and I’m a failure. And that’s just what it is. And it was all a direct correlation to drugs and alcohol.
My buddy Elijah used the term, and the first time I heard him speak, it was one of the things that really caught my eye when he said, “I was out of hustle.” Completely out of hustle. And I just asked for help, man, for like the first time. A buddy that I used to run the streets with and got sober, and his life looked a little different than mine at that time, and I asked him for help, man. And I was facing another case. I was on my way back to prison for the fourth time, category three felony, that’s nine and a quarter. This is the entry level. That’s the minimum amount of time I was looking at.
Just to give you a Cliff Note, or what the last few days looked like for me, is that… Okay, I’m from Michigan, and my mom came to town. And I tell a story almost every time I pitch. And when she came to town, I was hardly recognizable, man. I’m six years sober, 175 pounds. At this time, you want to knock off 30 pounds easily. I’m not a vision for you. Like Erica would say all the time. So what happened was, and this was like a pivotal turning point for me, man. This is when I knew that I was a bonafide dirt bag, man. When my mom came to town, I’m sleeping in the ex girlfriend’s garage in a Hello Kitty sleeping bag that I borrowed from my daughter that Christmas before that. This is March of 2014.
And what wound up happening was when my mom came to town, she asked me to get her luggage out the car when she pulled up. And when I stood up and we made eye contact, her lip started quivering. And as I’m walking, I’m shameful at this point, as I’m walking towards her, past her, my intention is to walk past her and get the luggage out the car. She blocked me off and gives me a hug. And I can hear her crying on my shoulders, man. And I want to hug and let go, you know? And she’s my mom’s, this is the lady that raised me.
A little backstory. I’m an honor student, pretty decent athlete, private school, 12 years. I came from a pretty decent… Not a silver spoon, but a bronze spoon, you know what I mean? What I’m getting at is that life was good for me. And it was sacrifices being made by my parents for me to have that kind of lifestyle, and this is how I turned out. So she started running down the sacrificial resume of all of the things that took place. And here I am right now, bonafide dirt bag.
And honestly, man, I couldn’t understand, or I couldn’t even comprehend or I didn’t even want to listen to anything that she had to say. Basically what she was talking about was gibberish. It was going aerodynamically around my head, because I was focused on her purse. I did the math, my mom just flew 1900 miles, some hundred dollar bills and some credit cards in that purse. And that was my mission while she was there. Yeah, looking back, that’s bonafide dirt bag status, right?
So a few days later when she gets ready to leave, we’re at the airport and like any self-respecting drug addict, well, we try to charm her and disarm her for some more money. “Hey, thank you for coming, and you know…” And she just cut into me, man. She cut into me. She said, “I know you’ve been in my purse.” And I had an ankle monitor on at the time. And I didn’t want her to know that I was going back to prison. I had got released to pretrial services to my ex girlfriend’s house, and I tried to hide it from her. But you know, you got to plug the box in, and the beeping noise. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.
So anyway, the long and short is that she cut into me, man. And she told me that. She was like, “You’re a dirt bag.” I’m using the term dirt bag loosely, because she said some other things in that airport terminal. And she was like, “I don’t want to have anything to do with you. And you deserve to go back to prison, because at least I know you okay when you in there.” She was like, “I love you. You need to get some help, but I’m pretty sure the next time I come out here, it’s going to be to identify your body.” And she got on the airplane and I hopped into ex girlfriend’s car and I popped Xanny, because I wanted to forget about that experience.
That was March 20th, 2014. And by God’s grace, I haven’t had a drink or drug since. And the funny thing about that, Esther, was that I had done stuff a million times worse than that to my family, my loved ones, to society, for that one experience to make me, not make me, but to ask for help, to realize, to come to a realization like man, something needs to change. Help looked like for me, initially self willpower, self knowledge, the whole, I can do this. I’m not going to do anything. And I didn’t know anything about the threefold disease that I suffered from, the mind, the body, the spirit. I didn’t know nothing about that. I just knew that I can just quit. And I was miserable. I detoxed, I would wake up drenched. The mental obsession was on me, and I didn’t know anything about none of these words or terms or how they applied to my life.
But I was miserable. And a few days, no about a week and a half later, I’m still in the same environment. I’m just, a week and a half later I was at a park. Service park, 35th Avenue and Baseline. And I was with some friends, and they were drinking, smoking. The music was playing, they’re playing dominos, they’re shooting dice with impunity. And I sat there, and something said, “Hey man, you don’t need to be here.” And I got up and I just left. I didn’t even say bye to anybody. And I called a buddy man that was in the program of recovery, and we got the ball rolling.
I checked into this place in Sunny Slope, good old Sunny Slope, Arizona. And when I got there, there was some rules to be applied for me in order for me to stay there. And I didn’t follow any of those rules. I didn’t know anything about this 12 steps or recovery. And they got to talking about the requirements, as far as going to meetings and getting a sponsor, and I didn’t know what any of that was. I just wanted to go lay down. You know how we get when we come in out the rain, we want to lay down for a little while. And I didn’t do anything while I was there, man, I was miserable. And the only thing going for me is that I had a place to stay, and I stayed there a little bit over a week.
And this part of my story always gives me goosebumps. I was getting ready to leave. It was a Saturday. I’ll never forget. It was a Saturday night. And the house meeting was Sunday morning. And I know I’m getting kicked out, because I haven’t done anything here. I don’t have any money. Haven’t been looking for a job. I’ve been leaving. I’ve been signing out, faking my slip. You know what I mean? Just doing what I know how to do, which is self preservation, selfishness. And as I’m leaving this place, there’s a meeting coming in. Every Saturday, every night at 7:00 PM, somebody will come in and share their stories. And I never listened to those stories. And on a Saturday, this guy named Milton walked in. And I’m so closed off. And Milton being quite frankly, looked like me, if that makes any sense.
So that was a 33% chance of me remotely listened to what this dude had to say, because I’m blocked off at this point. You know what I mean? I’m full of fear. I got an ankle monitor, life is happening and I’m not participating, if that makes any sense. But something happened, man, before that meeting. He came up to me and he started talking to me, and he seen the angst on me. He like, “What’s going on, man? How are you doing?” I’m paraphrasing, this has been years. I don’t know how the exact dialogue went. And I remember telling him I’m going to Circle K to get a Polar Pop. And this man had a cooler in the bed of his truck with sodas and waters in it. He was like, “No, I got something to drink right here. Let’s talk for a minute.” I’m like what? I’m like, who rides around with drinks?
So anyway, what I’m getting at is that he talked to me for a few minutes and I didn’t… I felt uncomfortable, for lack of a better word. But what he was doing was exemplifying a little altruism, right? A little absence of profit motive. He was just genuinely concerned about me, and I felt uncomfortable. So he asked me to stick around. He was going to speak at the meeting that night. And I’m like, okay.
So I’m sitting there, and I’ll never forget this. I pulled my phone out, my prepaid phone, and I’m playing the snake game, because I’m not going to listen to what this dude getting ready to talk about. And something happened, man. Five minutes in his story, I put my phone down. And about 10 or 15 minutes into his story, he had my undivided attention, because he was telling my story. And it was amazing, man. And something happened. I asked him to sponsor me. He gave me some instructions, and me being manipulative I just needed him to sign my meeting slip for the house meeting the following morning. So I said, “Okay, sign my meeting slip.” That way I can show the management, “Hey, I’m doing something, look.”
So Sunday morning, at this particular place they have a house meeting at 8:00 PM, and you’re required to be there. I show up about 8:04, 8:05, and they kicked me out. So at this point, my mind is telling me that… Keyword, my mind, is telling me that recovery don’t work. Look what I’m doing, and I’m not getting no instant results. Because I like instant results. So my mind tells me I need to call the ex girlfriend and see if I can move back over there, because mind I have an ankle monitor on, so I have to be somewhere stable.
And then my second thought was, why don’t I call that man I asked to sponsor me last night? So I called him. He answered the phone and he gave me some instructions. This was a Sunday. He said, “Hey, there’s a place called The Solutions. And there’s a 6:00 meeting there tonight. I need you to be there. Are you going to be all right by then?” And I’m like, “Yeah. Okay. But I am kicked out of this place.” He was like, “We’ll figure that out. Meet me at the 6:00 meeting. Are you going to be okay until 6:00?” I’m like, sure, all right.
So eventually I get there to The Solutions. And when I walk in this place, I get there a little early, like 5:50. I got a blue bag with an adapter for the ankle monitor, I never forget, some magazines and some dirty underwear. And when I walked into this meeting hall, I’m extremely intimidated because there’s about a hundred people in here, and people were in there chest bumping and high fiving and hugging and having a good time. And I’m like, what is going on in here? And something happened, man. And I’ll never forget, I sat in the back by the kitchen door with my bag, way in the back. And they started reading and passing out chips, and a man got a seven-year chip.
I was like, [inaudible 00:14:03] Seven years? Seven years of what? And then a woman got a nine-year chip. I was like, no way, man, nobody stay sober that long. Nine years, whole years? Stop it. Like this is no. But something happened that day, man. Elijah was speaking that day, and I didn’t know him at the time. But what I did recognize is that when he said a sobriety day, he had a little bit over a year, a year and a half at the time. And that planted a little hope for me, because I couldn’t understand how somebody can get nine years or seven years. But this man had a year and a half. He was 10 years younger than me. And he planted a little hope. I was like, maybe that might be attainable. That year and a half, that’s obtainable. If he can do it, and I heard his story, I’m like, maybe I can give it a shot. Because you know, when you new, 45 days, that guy is a guru, he’s a master, or whatever.
And after the meeting, I went in the office. Mike Stone and Tommy Troy was in the office at Solutions, and they giving me the RFX. Okay, so is such and such here to stay here a week? Well, you need to get a job. You need to do all of these things. Do you have any money? I’m like, “No, I don’t have any money.” I said, “My sponsor told me to come here.” “Who’s your sponsor?” Mike Stone said. “His name is Milton.” He said, “Oh.” So Mike Stone gets up and goes in the office, talks to Tommy Troy for about five minutes. And then the phone rings. Unbeknownst to me, it’s Milton calling up there. And he vouched for me, “Give him a shot.” So they, “All right, you got two weeks, these are requirements, woo woo, wham wham.” Okay.
Two days later he comes up there and we get busy doing some work. And I was full of fear. I didn’t understand what any of this, how is doing this work going to change my life? How’s this work going to stop me from going to prison or being a human being. And the first thing that we did was we read a specific part in the book, on page 52 of this particular book. And I was able to relate, I was able… That’s how I was feeling at the time. And he asked me, he said, “I want you to use this particular segment as a benchmark throughout your recovery, if you decide to stay sober emotionally.” And he said emotionally, I never forget that.
And I’m like, what are you talking about, emotionally? In my mind. And so I said okay, but I’m like, dude, I’m trying to keep a pill out of my body or some drink off my lip or… Six years later, I know exactly what he’s talking about. He was preparing me for now, for life now. And the long and short is man, I went through the work, and that June I went to court. And all while I was at The Solutions, the first 90 days leading up to me going to court, I would go to task, and I will be on time to task and drop these clean UAs. And then I got in school at South Mountain Community College, and I had a job working at a steel yard on 19th Avenue and Buckeye. And I was required at The Solutions to go to seven meetings in seven days. And some of those meetings had to be outside meetings. I was required to keep my room clean, or my portion of the room clean. I had a chore.
And what I realized is that my life got busy, and it was preparing me for something. I didn’t have a car, didn’t have a license, didn’t have anything, but I would get to these places on time via the bus. And it taught me how to plan my day out, because my day was 15, in 20 minutes I need to be somewhere else, on time. There was a curfew there, like et cetera. And that June 9th, I went to court for sentencing. And I was through my steps by that time, in 90 days. And I was in total acceptance of what was going to happen in that courtroom, total acceptance.
And I went to court. I was the last case called in the morning docket. And the judge asked me, can I come back at one? I’m like, yeah, I don’t… What am I say, no? Do I have a choice here? And something happened, man. I was the first case called in the one o’clock docket, and the judge looked at my records and what I was doing. And she said that, “I don’t think sending you back to prison is going to do you any good at this point. You look like you got a good start going. Have you ever heard of drug court probation?” And I’m like, no, but my ears pop. No, what’s that? Do tell, you got me intrigued. And so basically she ran it down and she was like, “I’m going to sentence you the three years of drug court. If you violate one time, we’re going to bring your old plea back.” And that was accredited to me going to task, having a job, The Solutions had wrote me a letter, my sponsor wrote me a letter, and I got three years of drug court.
And something happened when I left the courtroom. I was excited. I called my mom. Now, mind you, I haven’t talked to my mom in about four months at this point, because she told me don’t call her. And when I did try to call her, she wouldn’t answer. And I left her a voicemail, like, “Mom, just to let you know, I got probation. I’m not going to the jail. I love you.” And then I called Milton and told him like, “Yeah, I got drug court.” And I was excited and I’ll never forget this, man. I was on Fourth Avenue, Sixth Avenue in Jackson, the fourth floor, in the bathroom. I was in the bathroom and I looked in the mirror and I started crying uncontrollably. And from that moment, I had entered into an unwavering covenant with my higher power to just do this. Because I ain’t never got that kind of favor before ever, ever, ever.
And I went to drug court, and I got off a year early. I was never late. I was… Man, I’m fighting back tears right now.
You figure nine and a quarter sentence, I’m six and a half years sober. You’re not supposed to know me.
Unless you taking me into the jails.
And it’s just crazy, man. Just thinking how that place saved my life, man. And it blows me away. It blows me away, man, because that place was the umbilical cord of my sobriety. And I moved out of there in four and a half months. And I moved right down the street, because my sponsor told me you need to stay within a mile of this place. And that place saved me. I stayed in the apartment across the canal for my first three and a half years of sobriety. And that place saved my life, because when it got dark, I can go down the street alone and catch a meeting. I can go get a meal. I can work with sponsees. I can fellowship. And then I’ve created some relationships as a direct result of being at The Solutions, man. That I just can’t believe. I’m at a loss of words, man. I’m at a loss of words.
So 5A, Solutions, New Solution, I frequent all of them to this day. Solutions is not there anymore, but I go to Hope House. And I go to New Solutions often. Matter of fact, I’m leaving and when I leave here, I got a bag of clothes I’m dropping off at New Solution.
And life started happening, man. Funny story, after a meeting, I was a year and a half sober after the meeting, and I was in between jobs. I was working with Rich and Trevor at the sun track, at the solar company. And we had gotten laid off, and I was in between jobs. And I was sitting at the dinner table after dinner, after Razor’s Edge one night. And I’m sitting next to my sponsor and another buddy of ours who owns the car lot. And my buddy that owns the car lot, Donald, he tells my sponsor, he says, just talking over me like, “Hey man, I need somebody to, to detail some cars, man. I need somebody to start watching these cars, because I can’t catch up with my guy no more to come do lot washes.” And I’m sitting there, and I don’t have a job. Now, I know how to a wash the car. I mean, how hard could that be?
So I spoke up. I said, “Hey man, I know how to wash cars.” And Donald said, “Oh yeah? Well come on down to the office tomorrow and we’ll talk.” And so I go down there, and the long and short is, I worked for Donald for nine months. And what wound up happening is I found something that I liked to do. And there’s more to it than just washing the car, surprisingly. And I was intrigued by it, and he gave me a sense of purpose. So I worked for him for nine months. And what that looks like is I’ve been in my own, I’ve had my own business now for the last four years.
And all that stemmed from just being at dinner with no money, my sponsor’s paying for me now. The guys, they going to let me… You’re never not going to eat. And another buddy of mine always says that a coincidence is just God’s way of staying anonymous and things. And I got a good life as a direct result of grace. I don’t know if it’s being at the right place at the right time, but just being at the place, just being present. And I mean, today my life is full of gratitude. Today I know exactly what my sponsor was talking about the first time we sat down, as far as like emotions. Because I’m as physically sober as I’m going to ever be whenever I’m able to pass my first year UA. Physically.
And today, I have to be mindful of the other aspects of my life. Because the top layer, the [inaudible 00:26:23] the low hanging fruits, beating drugs, I don’t think about that no more. I cut through the grocery store, the beer and wine aisle to get to the donuts in the morning, and don’t even really physically think about what I’m doing anymore. And that’s all by God’s grace, right? But the emotional aspect is, how do I treat people? How am I treating my dog? How am I treating my neighbors? How am I treating my fellow man? And honestly, I do struggle with that sometimes. Just being a human being.
But the good thing is I have developed a conscience, and I’m mindful of it. And as a direct result of doing this deal, I’m able to take corrective measures when I do create wreckage. Because before, I didn’t care about who I hurt or how I hurt them or whatever. Mom is good. We’re in a good place. Matter of fact, I’m going home next Thursday. Her birthday is next Friday. And she don’t have to press five on a prison phone no more. And she know I’m not going to [inaudible 00:27:24] eventually set her up to send me some money or… That that relationship has been repaired. And I owe that to 5A and recovery, by seeing other guys before me take the same steps that was necessary to make that happen.
So, man, I got luxury problems today. I got a good life. Got a good life. But I had no doubt that that can be quickly eradicated if I don’t do things like this, like show up and be honest with my circle. And one thing I’ve developed, one of the most important things I developed outside of developing a relationship with God, is that I’ve developed this ability to tell on myself. You know that. When I see you, “How you doing?” I’ve never… I don’t think we have ever, “Oh, I’m fine.” That we kept going. Even in passing, and we don’t see each other often, but when we do talk, it’s a connect. Oh, this is what’s going on, or et cetera, et cetera. And I get freedom from that today. And that’s amazing, man.
To sum it up, man. I’m pretty sure you can relate, and all of us can relate, I had this map and it was full of falsehoods. It was full of falsehoods, and what it did, it led me to some dark places. And I come here, I surrender, and you guys give me a new map to look at. And this map talks about freedom and peace and serenity. Oh, I thought I had that over here, but based on my life experience prior to me coming here, that was false. But it was the only map I knew. So I come here, and you guys gave me a new map, and I’m grateful for that. That’s grace. That’s grace, man. Because I don’t deserve it. But by doing the work, I do deserve it. If that makes any sense. So I’m grateful, man. Thanks, man, I love you. I love this place. I love what you guys are doing. Yeah, 5A’s, The Solutions, Hope House, New Solution, you guys… I’ll never be able to repay that. That debt