When one sits around looking at the clock, time seems to slow down to a gut-wrenching crawl. I can attest to it because I did that yesterday. Each passing second felt like an eternity.
It happened because I had my second DMV hearing yesterday. A loss at this hearing would mean 30-days of no driving whatsoever, after which point I could get my conditional business-purpose-only license back. By the time my attorney called me, I had perhaps refreshed the drivers license lookup page about a dozen time throughout the day. It showed my drivers license as suspended each time. My attorney informed me that they need yet another DMV hearing, and it would take place in two weeks.
What followed was rather unnatural. Given that my fate was not yet sealed, I should have rejoiced just a bit. But no. I felt like there will never be a day when the DUI doesn’t stop haunting me…that perhaps I would be better off if yesterday the DMV had just suspended my license for 30 days and I could move on from there…that now I would have to wait in limbo for another two weeks. I completely overlooked the small joy of having the business purpose only license for another two weeks.
Then in the evening, on my way back home from work, I heard something on NPR that changed my perspective. On the show All Things Considered, they replayed the interview with this gentleman from Greece. It had been recorded five years ago. In that interview, the man stated that he had a fiance but no job. He lived with his parents, and she lived with hers. He desperately wanted employment but none was available due to the economic crisis in Greece. But he was optimistic. Optimistic that the future would be better than the present. Fast forward to today, and he was interviewed again. His fiance left him for someone with employment. He has moved out of his parents house but still does not have a steady job. The longest job has lasted is 2 months. And yet, he remains optimistic. Because he stated that is the only way he can survive from day to day.
And it hit me — here is this man who is suffering from the consequences of something that he had nothing to do with. He just happens to be a Greek citizen and it just so happens that the Greek economy stinks, causing his lack of gainful employment, achievement of life goals, etc. But through it all, he has remains optimistic.
Unlike the gentleman, my consequences are a direct result of my decisions. So unlike him, I have a reason for my drivers license suspension and a criminal case against me. If he can be positive about his future, why can’t I? Being down about this serves no purpose whatsoever. All I can do is never make such a terrible decision again, and remain optimistic that life gets better. And I honestly believe it does get better…if you make the right decisions going forward. I am not saying that I, and people like me, shouldn’t feel awful. I do, and I’m sure everyone in my position does. In fact, this guilt and anxiety is important for making sure that we don’t drink and drive again. But in order for us to never drink and drive again, it’s also important to ensure that we become rehabilitated. And if we go into rehabilitation with a positive attitude, life becomes easier to manage.
Last time, I’d mentioned about meeting people from all walks of life at AA. That remains true. These are people, some of whom have had DUIs, that have come together to form an amazing community that is ever so helpful towards newcomers, and ever so grateful for their sobriety. These people are the living proof that life can get better if you put in the work. I have been going to AA meetings daily, and each time I walk away with a message of hope — and as humiliating as a DUI is, I walk away from these meetings feeling like a person again.
A few weeks ago, I reached out to the Lawyers Assistance Program in my state. My contract with them states that I cannot and will not drink again. And to prove my sobriety, I will be randomly tested for alcohol and drugs. I also have to attend weekly meetings with other lawyers who have had substance abuse issues in their past. My entire law career depends on meeting the terms of this contract. And to be completely honest, I love it. LAP is one of my only hopes at getting admitted to the bar. So just even having the possible opportunity to get admitted makes me feel elated.
Oh and it’s empowering — you walk into a room with attorneys and realize that you’re not alone. There are others who have made similar mistakes; but rather than just being dejected, they’ve actively sought help and are now members of the Bar. It’s just…helpful…to see that you can be in my position and still have a chance to practice your passion. That life isn’t going to stop. That there is a tomorrow.
Until the next DMV hearing, all I can do is hope for the best and keep working on myself. And while the DMV hearing and its inevitable result will come an end one day, the process of keeping watch over myself, lest I make a terrible decision again, never will — and never should end.