Ryan Donnelly's Blog

My Calling


My first meeting was used as an introduction. The format was more of a round robin. The guys went around explaining who they were, what drugs they did and talked about the stupid shit they did while using.

I was the only guy in here for oxy, which surprised me, because of how huge I knew it was back in my hometown. There were a lot of crack and heroin addicts, but the pills were expensive for inner city. I had to explain to everyone why I used pills instead of heroin and they got it. I explained it was because I always knew what I was getting and I never got beat on potency.

These meetings brought no judgment, and I knew I could be myself 100% and that no one would give two shits. I heard all different kinds of stories during my first meeting, but they all seemed the same in some form or another. I was starting to notice a trend.

The meeting finished and it was time for dinner. This was my last and final meal of my first full day. I headed to the cafeteria and it was packed. Everyone looked tired and worn out, but definitely happy that it was time to eat. I noticed a lot of guys saying hello to me, which was a lot different than what I had expected.

People were really outgoing in here, they were going out of there way, trying to make me feel comfortable. I appreciated it more than they knew and even more now, then I did then. I went through the line and talked to the servers, they questioned me about my first day.

I walked back to my table and all of the guys greeted me warmly and started calling me “smiley. “ They too, asked me how my day was and I replied quickly, “couldn’t have been better.”

When I went to put my tray down I noticed that I had a seat waiting for me. It felt great to know that they were looking out for me. All of the guys spoke to me except for Roy. Roy kept his head down while concentrating on finishing his meal. I was catching the drift that Roy was a quiet dude, and I was learning not to take offense to his silence.

I told the guys about how for the first time today, that I started to get “it.” I explained to these guys that I was alive, and I knew now, that it was really all that mattered. I even shared with them just how close I came to ending my life a week earlier.

The past week contained me admitting my demons, checking into the hospital, the mental facility and now the rehab. It felt like a year. It also felt like I had a whole year of mental growth.

Everyone had pretty chipper dinner conversation and I liked the reassurance of knowing I had positive people around me. Roy kept his head down the entire time, to each their own.

I finished eating quickly and went upstairs for a shower. I really was itching to start writing some letters to Jess and my family. It would be 21 days before I could call or talk to them, but I could write letters, and I couldn’t wait to get started. If I knew Jess, she was waiting with 4 for my 1.

I took a nice shower and went straight to my room to find Frank sitting on his cot reading his Bible. He took his face out of the book and started asking me about my family. We started talking about what our families meant to us. Frank had been down this road before, a couple of times, but this was the longest he had clean. He admitted that he never had his head right before and that it wasn’t his time, but that this time he was done, and I could feel it too.

Frank had daughters. He had come to terms with the fact that they were out of his life. He let me know of what a terrible father he was while using crack and that he had let them down too many times for forgiveness. I gave him a pep talk about what I thought about life. His frown turned into a smile and he looked happy. It brought me great joy to know I was able to snap him out of his past.

So many addicts and people who suffer from any mental self-destruction live their lives in their past. I convinced him that his past was gone and that the only moment he had, that was guaranteed, was right now. I told him that we needed to be grateful that we’re still breathing and that we have a purpose.

I asked him how far he was willing to go to see those girls again. He told me he would do anything. I laughed and told him that I had a feeling he was going to say that.
“You’re an addict and your mind is capable of incredible feats,” I said to him. He liked that, and jumped up onto his feet with his fists up in the air, as if he was ready for a boxing match. I had pumped him up to live now; I had given someone the motivation to strive. I had, in that exact moment, discovered my calling.

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