Ryan Donnelly's Blog

My Punishment

I’ll say this…I got off easy. The things I did while using were horrendous and I deserved the punishment I received. I am currently serving out a probation sentence while paying those back that I took from. I won’t rest until every cent is paid back to those who suffered on my account, even if they are no longer in my life. This is the hand I was dealt. This is what drugs did to my life and again, I got off easy. I’m alive. Remember?

Every Monday morning I have to check in with my probation officer. She, yes she, is awesome and doesn’t come to the table with any judgment. And walking into an office like that, all you feel is judged. I sit down with her and discuss my week, eventually my visits will be spaced apart, but for now, every week it is. Every week. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Imagine that? Imagine that once a week, getting piss tested and having a swab stuck in my mouth, while being asked the same repetitive questions, qualifies me as “lucky.” But it does, and I am. I did this to myself and the system is just doing its job. However being tested is far from what I dread about those visits, what I dread the most is sitting in that waiting room.

Sitting in the waiting room for about two hours Monday, I found myself surrounded by all sorts of characters. All of us are there for the same reasons, some more severe than others. Nonetheless, all of us are lucky enough not to be serving any prison time, but apparently still need some supervision. Like a babysitter, but meaner, and no ice cream because we behaved.

I always try to keep my head in a book while I’m waiting and try my hardest not to engage in any conversation. It’s not that I wouldn’t mind talking to pass the time, but the conversations being had in this room, aren’t exactly time passing “chit-chat” and are not something I need to be involved in.

To my right, grown men are talking (loud enough for me to hear) about how to beat a urine analysis. While men on my left are discussing lengths of prison stays and murdering a kid. Yea, murdering a kid. Casually discussing how he served 23 years for “chopping up some punk.” Someone get me out of here! But they can’t…I did this.

Lets just say sitting in that room for hours at a time forces me to shut my head off. It reminds me of how hard I had to work and how much I wanted to clean my act up. I mean, I sounded like these guys a year ago, minus that whole murder thing, but I was worse, I wasn’t even on probation, I didn’t have to report to anyone then. All of this, all of these little conversations I over hear every Monday morning are an all too constant reminder to be proud of what I have accomplished.

 I can’t fathom in my state of mind today trying to trick a urine test, or trying to cheat the system in anyway. Not because I don’t want to get myself in any deeper, but because that way of life, the way I used to exist, scares me down to my very core now. That maddening existence was pure self hatred. To be back there, in my old head, would be a far worse punishment than any waiting room in any probation office.

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