Congratulations on getting released from jail. Statistics say that about half of people in your shoes will return there someday. Your job is to not be one of them.
The comfort of home is certainly a contrast to your cot in the cellblock. You are of modest means, but I am sure it must feel like you are sleeping in a four-star hotel and dining in the finest of restaurants. Enjoy it, but ponder deeply if you are really any more free than you were a day or two ago.
You may find yourself locked in any number of cells. They are harder to recognize because they are not made of concrete and steel, yet they impede your freedom just the same. Alcoholism is a cell. The wrong friends are a cell. Negative thinking is a cell. The sentences are harder to recognize with these cells, too, because only you, not a judge, can decide when you have served your sentence and are ready to move on.
I am glad to hear that you are praying again. I know that you had been angry at God for a long time. I don't blame you for that-you were dealt some hard breaks from the day you were born. I've had some angry exchanges with God about them, too. You didn't get to pick how you began lifebut you do have a say in how you finish it. You have me, your family, your (true) friends, the church, probation, and a network of charitable services that can help you as you make a new life for yourself. But here's the rub. We can merely stand alongside you in this undertaking. You will have to do it for yourself.
Someone once wrote, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." No one ever wishes to go back to jail, yet so many do. They persist in the same sort of behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that got them there in the first place. So do things differently (you already know what doesn't work). In the end backbone-not wishbone-will place you on the right side of that fifty percent.
With much love,
Ian Eastman, M.A., is a community educator at Family Services of Warren County-a charitable agency that provides counseling, substance abuse services, and support groups.