Bad Decisions do not have to be Life Decisions
“Hamilton Center has been great to me and my family since my release from prison. There isn’t much diversity in Terre Haute, IN. I hadn’t seen convicted felons getting hired in white collar positions in this community. Hamilton Center and the New Citizen Program gave me an opportunity to work in the corporation on a probationary period for one year while working in four different departments for three months each. After completing the probationary 12 month period, I would have an opportunity to work in one of the departments in which I had spent time. The New Citizen Program is about supporting and giving a second chance to an individual who in their past had made bad decisions which usually affects their life forever.
Some of the thoughts of individuals released from prisons are how hard things will be finding jobs, paying bills, having an employer who will work my probation, and being accepted by the community. Hamilton Center has helped me in all of these areas since my release. The program has allowed me to learn from the mistakes and gain respect from the community. The program has allowed me to participate in community events and reconnect with people who see me as the person I knew I could be. It is important for business leaders and community members to recognize the impact that implementing a program such as this can have on lives and the health of the community. By doing so, those involved in the criminal justice system can turn their lives around, be contributing members of society and have a promising future.”
I Choose Life
‘No one understands me. No one knows how I feel!’ became my mantra. I believed I was uniquely flawed and I wanted to die.
“The linoleum floor was cold on my bare back, and my flesh made an obscene noise when thrust against it – the kind of noise a 4th grader deliberately makes in his armpits to get laughs from his classmates. But I wasn’t laughing. I was focused on the ceiling in an attempt to free my mind from the humiliating reality of my bad choices that night – just one bad string of bad choices I had made over years of not knowing how to deal with situations that baffled me. Years of overthinking and under-estimating. Years of finding courage and self-worth only in the deceptive comfort of alcohol. But alcohol had let me down, again.
I wondered if I would live through this night.
I did live through that night and many other scary ones like it. The scenes were all different, but the story line was consistent. Like an actor who gets stereotyped into one role for all of his movies, my character was always the same: Self-made victim. I was a self-made victim on that linoleum floor in a dark part of town, and when I climbed into a complete stranger’s truck one of the times I ran away. I was a self-made victim when I was pepper-sprayed by one of my older children in an effort to get me home from a place I shouldn’t have gone, and when I lost my young children in an ugly divorce.
‘You never have to drink again.’
Through stories of bad choices and felony arrest, I ended up in drug court where I was required to participate in intensive outpatient therapy at Hamilton Center (HCI). My primary goal was to jump through hoops, appear as cooperative as humanly possible and get myself out of legal trouble. I had been to jail twice before and I did not want to go back.
What happened in therapy surprised me. I found that the counselors and group leaders did understand me and knew how I felt because many of them had walked miles in my shoes! I began to relate – to acknowledge and embrace their compassion and experience. Healing became a very pleasant and unexpected side effect of acceptance. HCI’s educational and psychological guidance and nurturing began to ignite my thoughts and emotions, replacing the numbing denial I had grown so accustomed to with alcohol. I participated in groups, pairs, one-on-one counseling. I participated in my own recovery. My life started to make sense and have a purpose.
The first time my HCI counselor told me that early on, I was certain she had misspoken. My mind processed, ‘I never get to drink again.’ But she was right. Today, thanks to HCI and Terre Haute’s recovery community, I am free from jail and free from the bondage of addiction. I never have to rely on alcohol again to give me a false sense of courage or self-worth.
My role has changed. I am not a victim unless I choose to be. Today, with grateful surrender, the choices I make result from the promises made in recovery: ‘We will intuitively know how to handle situations that used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.’
Today I choose LIFE. And for that, I am eternally grateful.”
Hope to Give Back
“I was born in Terre Haute on August 16, 1962. I was raised by my grandmother. She gave me a good life. I had problems as a teen and turned to drugs. Not a good solution. I quit doing drugs at 38. I moved to Linton at 43 for work. I then met the love of my life. We got along better than I ever thought I could with anyone. Life was great. We talked about marriage and set a date. I was happier than ever. That’s when my life drastically changed. March 10, 2014, is a day I’ll never forget. I found my fiancé passed away in the bed next to me. It was the worst day of my life. A few months later my son passed away in a car wreck. I contemplated suicide. I walked into Hamilton Center’s Sub-Acute Unit and then to a group home. Everyone at Hamilton Center has helped so much in one way or another. Dr. John is great. I hope to give back as much as possible.