If you’ve been following me, you know I’m sharing my recovery journey with folks. Like I’ve said before, I do this to keep myself accountable but also with the hopes that I may reach just one person with my story.
God’s love and shining light has been ever noticeable in the last few months. Now to continue…
I had a calm about me that morning, and while I did have some butterflies in my stomach, I wasn’t dreading the outcome. My public defender had given me a probable rundown of sentencing prior to this day so I had a good idea of what was coming. I stood in front of the Judge as he looked at my paperwork showing completed days for rehab as well as meeting and counseling signatures. He said a few things and proceeded to give me my sentence. Credit was given for the rehab stay so it knocked off twenty-one days from my sentence, but seventy-two days seemed like a long time. Fines racked up and I agreed to start my sentencing that day. We exited the courtroom.
I was stripped of all jewelry and led into the elevator that would take me to my holding cell. A quick “I love you” was yelled from behind closing doors. I was now officially the property of the Lycoming County Prison System.
After being led to a holding cell, I waited. It wasn’t a long wait before I was being transported to LCP (Lycoming County Prison). Being shackled made walking difficult and as the metal rubbed against my ankles and the cuffs bit into my wrists I was even more humbled than before. A strip search proceeded, embarrassing humility punched me in the gut. I was given a uniform and again placed in a holding cell. This stay wasn’t long before I was again in my street clothes and being transported to PRC (Pre-Release Center).
Once there, I was assigned uniforms and thus began my true time. The first few days moved rather slowly. I bummed smokes and tried to make the best of things. God was watching intently at this point, only I didn’t know it.
I found a Bible I could understand and began reading daily. I was set up for a counseling appointment so I won’t lose the progress I’d made thus far in my mental recovery. A week passed. The day of my appointment approached, and I was excited. I was getting out for a bit and would be able to talk openly about the hidden emotions jail was bringing out in me.
I had let Jim know my appointment date and time, so he was there. Our joint session proceeded and it helped the mixed emotions we were both having in a great way. Little did I know that I was breaking the rules. I never realized I needed any contact inside or outside PRC walls authorized. This would become the most valuable lesson and biggest divine intervention that I would have. My hearing with PRC staff was set and I was reprimanded to LCP for 30 days. I didn’t realize those days would be spent in “the hole”.
Twenty-three hours a day… one hour gym time. Timed showers and meals. Standing head counts. I wasn’t allowed for my coffee or radio or anything like that, but a little glimmer of hope did shine through that first day. I was allowed my notebook, and books to read, including a Bible. I prayed for guidance and knowledge for the lessons I was to be learning from my time in the hole. A week passed. I still didn’t have any answers from above, but God was listening. I wasn’t however, I was so far into my self-pity party, I never heard His voice.
I wrote home and to my sponsor, I talked to the women while us “hole-girls” took our hour of gym time through the weekdays. I listened to the drama filled conversations that filled the block, but tried not to get involved. My humility grew each time I sat on the exposed toilet to tend to business, open bars at my side. This was real jail-time. I continued to read and think about the things I was meant to learn from being locked in a cell. Nothing jumped out at me. I repeated the Serenity Prayer numerous times a day until I felt I could put it into practice there too. A few more days passed. God was still listening and working in me.
I was on day seven out of thirty, by this time I was counting days with each journal entry I wrote. As we were locked back in our cells after gym that evening I lay in my bunk just contemplating my life. Up until this point I was hell bent against having visitors. I didn’t want anyone to have to talk to me behind glass, but I missed seeing my family. I missed hearing Jim and the kid’s voices. I missed my mom’s voice too. I missed everything. Again the Serenity Prayer was my staple. God was working in me.
I arose the next morning for head count. The night had been semi-restful and while I was far from energized I somehow felt different. It didn’t take me long to realize I had finally been able to put the Serenity Prayer into effect as far as being in LCP was concerned. God was smiling down on me.
Breakfast was a quick affair. Afterward, my cellie was snoring softly from her bunk as I sat with my notebook. I wrote twenty or so pages before I stopped. I figured it was meaningless rambling until I reread what those pages contained.
Here I was working my steps, my own written words making each crystal clear. I realized the shortcomings I had were being fixed with each passing day. Only God’s love and light could’ve done that. My whole thought process was different and more positive than it had been in a very long time. I wrote six letters that day as I voiced my amends. With each letter, the heavy weight of my past lifted from my shoulders. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t thought about booze in the entire week I had been there, not even a fleeting thought. God had taken my alcoholic mind and was transforming it into something else. Finally, I had my full spiritual awakening I’d been praying for. I still may have had it at PRC but I think it would’ve taken me longer to recognize His work in me.
My time at LCP began being less of a big deal to me. I was doing time, yes, but God was working in me and through me. He was making each day a new adventure from the confines of a cell. I had two visits to follow, mom and Jim, and while it was strange, I treasured those visits. Another woman and I started reading different sections of the Bible daily then talking about what they meant to us during gym time while we walked. We were both learning and growing. A small side note here: She still has months to do in the hole and a couple years upstate, but I will write to her. I don’t believe she was put into my life without reason.
I was three days away from my thirty days being served in LCP when my name blared over the loudspeaker. I was going for a county run. What this means is when cells get to maximum capacity, they move inmates to another county. To say I was none too thrilled about this was an understatement. In all honesty, I was downright angry about it. I had my hopes set on going back to PRC. The idea that I could spend the rest of my time in another county stuck in my crawl. Yet again the Serenity Prayer was my calming force. I had no control over it, so I decided not to stress it, but I still didn’t like it.
Shackles and cuffs again. CCCF (Clinton County Correctional Facility) was my destination. This place is set up like summer camp dorms and the atmosphere kinda reminded me of the same only with extended rules. I tried to make the best of a bad situation. God had his hand in the mix there too. I was learning how to roll with the punches. I got decaf coffee every morning and the oatmeal wasn’t bad. I couldn’t say much about the rest of the menu, but I lost eight pounds in the time I was there, so that’s a silver lining. I talked and I listened. I poured myself into the Bible, reading whole books at a time. I was growing. I was there for a week and a half total.
Transfer night came, again shackles and cuffs. Back to LCP I went. I remained there for the night and part of the next day before being transferred back to PRC.
I was excited that I would finish my last sixteen days at PRC. I got my coffee and was able to smoke. Head counts were still done but I wasn’t confined to a cell for them. The bathrooms had doors, and I got two visits a week. I continued to read my Bible, I continued to read other books as well. Written words came freely. I was able to enjoy sunrises, deer grazing and decent food for those days.
April 20, 2018, I was called into the case worker’s office.
“Tanya, I haven’t heard from the probation office yet, you might not be leaving tomorrow.”
I can say that only through God could these words have come from my mouth.
I took a deep breath. “Ok, I’m not gonna stress this. I’ll contact Jim and have him call them. If it takes till Monday, so be it.”
I did call, I was informed he’d just gotten off the phone with their office like twenty minutes earlier and my home plan was approved.
The act of trusting God to work things out was what I had to do and keep my calm doing so, God didn’t let me down. Later that evening, it was confirmed by the staff… I was going home the next day. My spirits soared.
The next morning I rose, three short hours until I was free. Breakfast tasted great, for cereal. Coffee…even better. I sat outside talking with God for a bit as I watched the sun rise over the hill. Somehow the air was more crisp and the breeze felt like soft kisses straight from God lips.
I signed my paperwork. Time was dwindling down. I changed into my own clothes and sat waiting for the last twenty minutes to fly by…They seemed to drag on and on.
Finally…I walked out of the doors from the PRC building toward the car and Jim. I was free, my jail time was served.
Jim treated me to a haircut and a large iced mocha from Dunkin. That haircut and iced coffee were awesome. We talked the whole way home about nothing and everything. Lemme say that was the best ride ever, and home never looked so good.
I’ve been home now for a few weeks and God is still amazing me with His wonders. As I continue to grow and learn with each passing day, I know His hands are molding me to become the woman I’m meant to be. I owe Him everything. Today and everyday I’m a grateful for His never-ending love. I’m sober today because of that love. As I continue to walk the path of recovery in many areas, I know I am never alone…I never have been.
Blessings To All