30 Years

Roger Porter

April 22, 2011

It never ceases to amaze me how whenever I feel like I’m finally getting things together I am always reminded that someone else is not. While at work I got a call today from a friend who only calls me to deliver bad news. He told me that a friend of ours who has been in jail awaiting trial for over a year now is looking at 30 to life in the penitentiary. It shocked the hell out of me when he told me for a few reasons. The primary reason was that he is a first time felony offender and the charges aren’t rape or murder. Given the circumstances of the crimes that he allegedly committed I think 30 years is a bit extreme.

The other reason why that phone call had me down all day is because the last time I spoke to my friend before he got arrested I was convinced that he was heading in the right direction. I no longer saw him hanging out on the corner, he was going to Wyotech studying to be a mechanic, and even his posture seemed upright. His eyes appeared to be focused – not glazed over—and he spoke with a new-found motivation like he was done hanging out with clowns in the streets and he was really about to handle his business. I think at the time he believed everything that he said, so of course I did too.

It’s kind of like having a loved one who is addicted to drugs. They experience some kind of epiphany one day and they make a vow to be clean and sober for the rest of their lives. In the beginning you are skeptical because this isn’t the first time they’ve said these things but then time passes and you can see them making changes in their lifestyle. You witness them read the bible and even catch them exercising. They even give up eating red meat and get a job, maybe even two.

So after about 3 months you believe in them. You believe that this time they are really serious. This time will really last for the rest of their lives. And right after you tell them how proud you are of them, and that you support them, and that you’re sorry for doubting them, they have a major relapse. At this point it becomes pretty clear that you are not nearly as bothered by what they have done to themselves as you are by what they have done to you. It’s the betrayal that kills you. Not the all night drug binge, not the things that they stole from you to get the drugs, not the disease of addiction, but the fact that you believed in something that was a downright lie. That’s the part that keeps you up at night.

I hate to be selfish but I wish I didn’t have this feeling. I wish he would have never put himself in this situation and I’m sure he does too.

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