Thirty Days Sober

December 21st, 2017

We got a letter in the mail yesterday from our loved one. She tries to communicate with us via snail mail, seeing as she has no access to the Internet whatsoever, and any phone calls she makes to us are horrendously expensive. The girl will call us if she is in the middle of a panic attack, or there is some pressing business that she needs for us to handle. Otherwise, she takes pen to paper and does things the old school way.

There is a beauty and a warmth in receiving a handwritten letter. It is soulful in a way that other correspondence can never be. To feel the paper in my hands and to look at the soft curves of her penmanship is enjoyable. Even her occasional spelling errors are oddly endearing. A handwritten letter, especially if adorned with little drawings, can be a work of art. It feels more human. I can’t explain why that is so, but it is.

The loved one often writes about being bored and/or anxious. Those two things go together, especially for a young woman who has both PTSD and an anxiety disorder. Jail is a warehouse for humans, and there is generally no effort made by the State to keep the inmates entertained, or even occupied. For our young woman, who has no idea how long she will be incarcerated, the hours drag. She has lots of time to worry. She has lots of time to think. She has too much time.

Once, during a brief phone call, my wife suggested to this girl that she might try meditation. That provoked an angry and frustrated reaction from the loved one. Our young woman also has ADD, which makes it a bit difficult for her to focus on anything for more than a few seconds. She has attempted meditation in the past, and it hasn’t worked for her. Well, it hasn’t worked for her yet. I didn’t start meditating until I was forty-seven years old. A person has to be ready for that sort of practice. It’s not something that can be forced.

In the most recent letter, our loved one mentioned that it was her anniversary: thirty days of sobriety and thirty days in the slammer. It is commendable that she has been clean for a month, but it would have been easier on everybody if she had been able to accomplish that in other circumstances. If she remains incarcerated for an extended period of time (and she probably will), then this young woman will reach other sobriety milestones. Hopefully, that long, dry stretch will clear her mind. It may give her the opportunity to see things as they really are. That would be wonderful.

Karin and I will visit our loved one at the jail on Sunday afternoon, which just happens to be Christmas Eve. It’s the only present we can give to her right now. It’s the only present that we are certain she will appreciate. Karin will give her ten minutes of her life. I will do the same. Ten minutes is not very much, but it is everything.




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