One of the most intriguing things about the human condition is that in the moment, time stretches for what appears to be an infinite duration. During the legal proceedings, I often felt that the DUI process would never end. There was the lack of a drivers license, counseling, court date, DUI classes, fines to pay, and the stress of being only a singular person. Combine that with studying for the bar exam for my state and eventually community service, and I can say that the last nine months have been the most difficult and possibly the most formative nine months of my life.
Looking back at it though, it seems like it was just yesterday. (No, the sheer terror of seeing blue lights in your rear view mirror never goes away. I’ve seen an officer drive behind me, and despite not doing anything wrong, felt that this was it…I was going to get pulled over, there will be a violation of probation, and I will end up in jail. And nothing happened because I hadn’t done anything wrong). The entire DUI arrest seems like it happened yesterday and I still have all of this stuff to deal with.
Despite the weirdness of time, in reality though, I am doing okay. I still think about the DUI every day when I go to bed. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and the thought of having a criminal record eats away at me. But like most things, time makes the pain a little less severe. The entire scene has gone from being a terribly hurtful one to being a teachable one. I know what I did was wrong and I won’t do it again. But I won’t let myself be down because of it. I am still a human being and I am still capable of magnificent things. The DUI arrest is a part of my life now. I must overcome it.
I am about 60% through with my community services requirement, too. The only place around here where I could get consistent community service hours is a non-profit used goods store. It has been a life-saver for me. I can go there after work, knock out a few hours and be home in time for dinner. The first few days were extremely difficult. Being asked to sweep the store was odd at first. I was dressed in a dress shirt and nice slacks. But then I remembered that those closest to me have cleaned toilets and floors just so that I could be a successful person in life. There was no shame in it. I kept coming back and they keep letting me come back. It has been awesome.
I have become somewhat of an expert at purse organization. Never in my life could I imagine the styles, colors, materials and brands that purses come in. Now I organize them and hopefully it makes the shoppers lives easier.
There have been two amazing things that have come out of community service:
- I have been truly appreciated. To a person, anyone who I have worked with at the store has told me what a good job I do. Yes, community service is work that is not too taxing. But I try to do it well. And it helps that people appreciate it. Several employees have jokingly told the manager to hire me full time. I’m sure they do this joke with anyone who does community service there, but it makes me feel good. It makes me feel appreciated. And it makes me feel like I am on the right path. As I’ve said before, with a DUI arrest, you lose your dignity. And slowly, people help you gain it back.
- I am not afraid of my DUI arrest. You see, at first when people asked me why I was there at the clothing store in non-uniformed clothing organizing stuff or sweeping, I had a hard time explaining why I was there. Now, I am honest about it — I am doing court ordered community service. Yes, now when people ask me and I respond with that, there is that moment where they hesitate and sometimes walk away. But then there was this guy who looked at me and said, “you’re too old to be a bad boy!” And he was right. I am too old to have made such a boneheaded decision. But I must accept its consequences.
AA continues to be wonderful to me. As of this writing, I am a week away from my 9 month sobriety chip. What is amazing is that there have been babies conceived and born after I stopped drinking. It’s a great feeling to know that I am doing something great, and there are people who support me in this. AA is truly a wonderful support group comprised of people who are passionate about recovery.
If you are afraid of going to a meeting, just do it. Trust me, get the first one out of the way. Get the first minute out of the way. After that, it only gets better. So much better.
As I mentioned above, violating probation is something that I am terrified of. No, I am not doing anything wrong. But it’s a scary feeling that a traffic infraction could lead me back to jail. Thankfully, my probation officer is an amazing lady who has promised me that if I complete my community service hours and stick to being an upstanding member of society, we can work towards terminating the probation early.
Living without Alcohol
Being sober has been the easiest of the tasks since the DUI. I lost so much due to drinking. Giving it up been a piece of cake in comparison to other consequences. I was a bit worried about what people around me would think when I ordered Coke instead of a beer, or refused a drink. Honestly, no one cares. No one cares if you drink Coke instead of beer.