How I plan to remain a healthy, productive, and valued member of the community when I parole (AKA, Relapse prevention plan)
Terway, David J.
David J. Terway
How I Plan to Remain a Healthy, Productive, and Valued Member of the Community when I Parole (aka, Relapse Prevention Plan)
WHO AM I?
Hello, my name is David J. Terway (I have a cousin whose name is David A. Terway). I was born in 1961, so I am about to turn 57 this July. I was born in Women’s Hospital in Philadelphia., Pennsylvania. I grew up in Yeadon, Pennsylvania, which is in Delaware County. Yeadon is a Philadelphia suburb which shares a border with West Philadelphia. I lived there until the age of 20, with my mother and father until my father passed away from leukemia at the age of fifty, when I was eleven. I have a half-sister (same mom) who is nine years older than me and a full sister who is thirteen months younger than me. We all lived together until my sister married when she was eighteen years old. My younger sister and I both graduated at the top of our high school class. I then worked for a year while living with my mother (my younger sister was then away at college). Then I left home to live with my paternal grandmother and aunt, which is when I began smoking marijuana with my cousins.
MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSES
My mental illness diagnoses are Pedophilic Disorder and Other Specified Personality Disorder. Depression is a mood disorder. The pedophilia is a thought disorder. I was about forty-four years old when I realized I had a mental disorder. This was a few months after being arrested (my arrest was May 19, 2005). This realization came about from a combination of finding myself in prison and pondering what got me there, as well as the receipt of a letter from my older sister in which she told me that if I sought long-term mental health treatment she might continue to stay in touch, otherwise she’d have nothing to do with me.
My symptoms have included two severe anxiety attacks (December 2015 and June 2017), banging my head against the wall and floor and cell door without regard for the damage it might cause to me (four separate instances, all in 2017), not eating or drinking for up to four days (on three occasions, all in late 2017). When I wasn’t eating or drinking, I wanted to die; I did not wish to experience what I had been experiencing for another moment longer. I wanted it all to end. I cared about nothing. I realized that I had been depressed for years near the end of 2017 during my crisis bed stays. I had become accustomed to the depression.
Although I am unaware of any actual diagnosis of mental illness amongst my family members, I know now that my Mom exhibited symptoms of bi-polar disorder and I had a paternal uncle who seemed to have mental issues. Other than those, I am unaware of any mental health issues with any other family members. I don’t know of any drug use in my family other than some cousins on my Dad’s side, who were very instrumental in my beginning to use marijuana. However, there were a few “social” drinkers on my Mom’s side, and one alcoholic on my Dad’s side (the aforementioned uncle with mental health issues. That uncle also had issues with respecting the boundaries of females). As kids, we were given fifty-fifty soda/wine to drink at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners (one glass).
I have no doubt that my marijuana and alcohol use, along with the abuse of other drugs (cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and mushrooms) likely played a part in bringing on my mental disorders. Also, I never received any therapy when my father passed away right before my twelfth birthday. My family told me that I refused to speak at all for more than a week. When I started using drugs, my Dad’s death was part of my justification. If my substance abuse didn’t bring about my mental health issues, it at least certainly amplified or worsened existing conditions.
I realized I was depressed when I had my first anxiety attack in late 2015. It was brought on by a constant and unfruitful search for reward while serving my prison sentence. This invalidation of my good behavior took place over the ten years I had served until that point; I was at the CCCMS (CDCR Clinical Case Management System) level of care that entire time. I tried so hard to show that I was not violent, that I could follow the rules, and that I had insight into the nature of my crime and its impact on my victim and my victim’s loved ones and on society as a whole. I tried to show that I was no longer antisocial. I went to Atascadero State Hospital (henceforth referred to as “ASH”) from February 2016 to June 2016 and got a lot better. But then after six months at the EOP (Enhanced Outpatient) level of care after ASH, my treatment team (at Valley State Prison, Chowchilla) decided, without my input, that I was ready to go back to CCCMS. I, on the other hand, had made clear that I was doing well at ASH and needed to be permitted to complete what I had started there, including substance abuse and CBI (Cognitive Behavioral Intervention), and that I needed DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) for my entrenched black-and-white thinking, all-or-nothing thinking, interpersonal relationship effectiveness, emotional regulation, etc. I even filed a formal grievance, to no avail. I ‘freaked out” at my team because they didn’t care what I had to say. Furthermore, the team told me they were sending me to CCCMS because they were being pressured by CDCR to reduce the EOP population. I ended up banging my head against the wall and floor repeatedly until it bled profusely. From there I went to crisis bed after crisis bed as my EOP team continued to insist I ought to be at the CCCMS level of care. I came back to ASH on October 31, 2018.
As to my pedophilia diagnosis, I’m not sure it is accurate, but I am open to the possibility. Teenage girls turn me on, but not prepubescent girls.
I take two-hundred milligrams of Zoloft each morning for depression and anxiety. I take six milligrams of melatonin and fifteen milligrams of Remeron to help me sleep at night. These meds have been very helpful.
SUBSTANCE ABUSE DIAGNOSIS
My substance abuse diagnosis is Alcohol Use Disorder, severe, Cocaine Use Disorder, severe, and Cannabis Use Disorder, severe. My drug of choice was marijuana. I liked marijuana so much that I began to worship it. I believed I would find answers to life’s big questions in a marijuana high, such as, “Why do I exist?” I also believed that marijuana improved my physical senses as well as my cognitive abilities. I wasn’t the type to “veg-out” while high; I would engage in tasks such as mowing the lawn, washing and waxing the car, changing the oil in our vehicles, (or other automotive maintenance), using the computer to do my finances, etc. Marijuana took all my inhibitions away and made me feel much more socially adept. On the other hand, it made me eat more and exercise less, thus causing me to gain weight (I was two-hundred thirty pounds when I was arrested). I didn’t like that aspect of the drug. Also, it caused me to drift further from my Catholic spirituality (it became my spirituality). I believe marijuana played a huge part in the commission of my crime. It actually enabled me to deceive myself, to what I now recognize as an astonishing degree. It also played a part in my becoming antisocial. I became hedonistic. I became selfish. I actually believed I had insight into societal norms that no one else had. I even went so far as to tell my wife and daughter that the world would be a much better place if everyone was just like me, and I was serious! I was ridiculously arrogant.
ABUSE OF DRUGS AND MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS: CONNECTIONS
Before I began using, I think I was mentally healthy (no symptoms). After I began using, I began to show more and more symptoms over time, but I only saw this in retrospect after I became clean. I self-medicated without realizing that that was what I was doing. It became a vicious cycle that made my life unmanageable, and I blamed everyone but myself. I actually got to the point where I didn’t care if it killed me, in 2000, when my Mom passed away. It caused my wife and daughter to leave me for three months (detailed in “what I thought was rock-bottom,” below). I had no idea where they were.
That led me to get sober (detailed in “Clean Time,” below). We got back together, and I stayed sober for two-and-a-half years. My credit became good, I bought my first-ever brand-new car, we lived in the nicest home and neighborhood we had ever lived in before, and I had the best job I had ever held. I had three computers, a laptop PC, a Pocket PC, and an Xbox on a wireless network connected to high-speed internet access. I had garden equipment and all kinds of tools to maintain and repair our vehicles. In other words, I had plenty to keep myself occupied. However, I was without a purpose in life (which I now know is to serve the Lord and others with love and humility).
Then I decided I would buy a little marijuana and only get high on weekends (detailed in “My True Rock-Bottom”, below). I forgot all of the promises I had made to my wife and daughter to get them to take me back. In other words, I got clean for them, not for me. Long story short, the marijuana on weekends led to drinking, turned into weekdays, led to job loss, crimes (my poor choices) and my arrest; and an eighteen-year prison sentence. My remorse over my crime, my sorrow at the loss of my family and everything else, especially the psychological harm to my daughter, along with constant invalidation and no recognition for good behaviors led to me getting so depressed. I was depressed for eleven years before I really recognized it, until I had the aforementioned anxiety attack and started receiving a higher level of care (crisis beds, EOP, ASH).
Now that I’m on meds, I feel pretty good. But I still sometimes get depressed when I think about how I’ve screwed up my future. But I also see that I can spend the rest of my life giving back, which can give me purpose and joy. I recognize now that my drug use, both directly (brain chemistry) and indirectly (the mess it made of my life) caused my mental illness and then amplified and worsened it. I know that if I were to go back to using, I would end up either dead or doing a life sentence.
WHAT I THOUGHT WAS ROCK-BOTTOM
I thought my rock-bottom occurred in late August 2000, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, when my wife and daughter vanished, as mentioned above. I had been using crack cocaine for eight years. That year was different because my mother passed away on July 1st. After that happened, I began not to care if the crack killed me. I believe that it became evident to my wife that I felt that way. I believe she became afraid of me and for me. I believe that that is why one day in late August (the last week), she came home from work with the police. I had been watching T.V. with our daughter (she was eleven), waiting for my wife to come home. Ironically, I was so looking forward to having a discussion with her to let her know I planned to quit using. That’s the way I sincerely felt at that time. But it was too late. She had already made her plans, and I can see in retrospect that she had prepared our daughter for this day because when my wife entered our home with the police, she told our daughter to go to her room and pack her things. Our daughter knew what to do immediately, no questions asked, and it took her only a very short time to be ready to go. I asked her if she was going to her mom’s, because, in the past, whenever we had a big enough fight, that’s what she would do - she’d spend the night at her moms who lived in the same town only twenty minutes away. She told me, “Yeah, Dave, I’m going to my mom’s.” But that is not where she went. I didn’t know where they were for three months! Believe it or not, that was the first time in my life I actually had to really take care of myself; my mom was always there for us until we left home. I left home at the age of twenty, but I went to live with my paternal grandmother and aunt; they provided my housing and food and even provided me with a vehicle. From there I enlisted in the Navy two years later. The Navy provided me with everything I needed. After boot camp I met my first wife, so then I had both her and the navy providing for me. Then I met my second wife, got kicked out of the Navy in connection with the divorce from my first wife and a child-support issue. My second wife then took care of me (I did try to stay employed while I partied with her brother and his friends, but often lost my job; she always did the finances) from 1987 until she left me in 2000 (13 years). Then I had to cook, clean, make money, pay the rent and bills, etc., all by myself for the first time in my life. I thought that was my rock-bottom at the time.
I stopped using, drinking, smoking cigarettes, and going out. I went back to work. We ended up getting back together in November of that year. They were in California. I drove across the country to be with them. I was sober for two-and-a-half years. However, at that point in time, I began to think that I was bored. I was always with my family or at work. I did not have any social life, and my wife preferred to stay at home unless we went out to eat dinner. We had no friends, and now we didn’t even have her mom’s house to go to or her relatives to spend time with. I was constantly on my computer, and had bought one for my daughter, as well. We were doing very well. I bought my first brand new car and we lived in the nicest house we had ever lived in (although we were still just renters). I felt that I needed “a way to relax”. In retrospect, I know that that was a crock of BS, a self-deception. I also totally forgot (or subconsciously suppressed) the promises I had made to her before she let me know where they were and that I could come reunite with them.
So there I was, standing face-to-face with my wife (I remember it as though it was yesterday), telling her I was going to buy “a little bit of marijuana, and only smoke it on weekends”. I can’t say that now without laughing at myself. My wife just looked at me with a very sober and serious face and said, “I don’t know, Dave”. My asinine reply was, “Well, I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. I’ve been handling things, and I’ll continue to handle things”. And I actually believed I would.
MY TRUE ROCK BOTTOM
However, the marijuana smoking became an everyday thing. That triggered my urge to drink, smoke, and to go to bars. Back in Virginia, when I was partying, I liked to go to all types of bars, but my favorite kind were go-go bars (bikini bars). When I drank and smoked weed, I felt more socially adept, and my inhibitions were almost non-existent. It was so easy to talk to the dancers when I was high and/or drunk. I perceived myself as exceptionally desirable. Just as I had done prior to my two-and-a-half-year sobriety, I began to live a double life (the family versus the party-boy). I found a bar I loved (“The Stagger Inn”, in Rancho Cordova, Sacramento; now closed) where I met individuals from whom I could buy marijuana and methamphetamine. It was very easy to use on the bar’s premises, too. I felt at home there, and as if I was among friends. In the last year before I was arrested (2004 - 2005), I was high and drinking every day and hadn’t worked a single day because I had lost my job when I developed a sarcastic and arrogant attitude at work. I began accumulating credit card debt. We couldn’t pay our rent and got evicted. In those last two years I committed my crimes, too (I was in complete denial, and so I took a plea bargain and plead “nolo contendere” to three counts of L&L with a minor under age fourteen, my own daughter). I had begun to view lots of pornography online, as well. I stopped going to church. My daughter told her school counselor about my abuse. I was arrested and sentenced to 18 years. That was my Rock-bottom.
RECOVERY: EXTERNAL TRIGGERS
I can say without reservation that three external triggers of my substance abuse are unstructured time, rock-n-roll music from the late sixties and seventies, and putting my spirituality and Catholic faith on the back burner instead of having it at the center of my life.
I will deal with this by going back to school to finish my AA degree (I’m only about fifteen credits away, with a 4.0 GPA), practicing my faith, living my faith, participating in both my church community and my secular community, volunteering, having hobbies (computer programming, geocaching, puzzling, gardening, cooking, darts, etc.), going to AA/NA meetings, and working, to name a few. I’ve been doing all of these for the last thirteen years while incarcerated. I will choose to refrain from listening to the seventies music when possible, choosing Christian, easy listening, pop, country, or jazz instead.
RECOVERY: INTERNAL TRIGGERS
As for my internal triggers, one of them is the fact that I seem to be unable to forgive myself for the atrocious criminal acts I have committed against my own daughter, the one person who should have been able to count on me to protect her and to be able to trust. This feeling of having failed her as well as her loved ones can sometimes trigger feelings of despair. However, when that happens, I have learned to more frequently turn to my relationship with God, remembering that I have a purpose in life (I was created to serve God and others in love and humility).
Another internal trigger is the feeling of rejection associated with being a registered sex offender. I suspect this may be even more of an issue when I parole because I will be able to be more easily identified as a sex offender by the public. It truly hurts me to think that people may identify me that way when I know in my heart of hearts that no one has anything to fear from me. I don’t want to hurt anyone and I want to be trusted again. Again, I will deal with this internal trigger of anxiety and hurt by facing the reality of it. I created the situation. As the saying goes, “I made my bed now I must lie in it.” Also, it doesn’t matter what other my surmise about me because I know I live to serve God and others in love and humility. Also, I know that over time, people will come to know me as the person I am today, not the person I was before. I recognize that it will take time.
A third internal trigger is the feeling of sadness, loss, and regret regarding having missed so much of my life and my daughter’s life from the time I was 43, and she was 16 until possibly the rest of my life. Again, I have come to terms with the fact that I created the situation, and that I cannot change the past and dwelling on it is not an effective means to achieving my goals. I must move forward spending the rest of my life giving back, making amends, serving Goad and community. I just trust that in doing so, I will find fulfillment and joy, if not in this life, then in what follows, according to my Catholic faith. One day at a time.
ABUSE OF DRUGS + CRIME: CONNECTIONS
I believe my crimes of lewd and lascivious acts with my daughter were triggered, at least in part, by my use of multiple drugs in large quantities over a long period of time. Substance abuse either brought on my mental illness or at the very least exacerbated it. I also believe that this, in combination with my exposure to pornography of all kinds of debase types influenced my outlook on life and sexuality, causing me to become anti-social, jaded, and hedonistic without any purpose in life other than the fulfillment of my own carnal urges. I traveled down a long, dark road and ended up in the ugliest of places. These months at ASH (and the EOP time beforehand, to a lesser degree) have given me hope and have shown me that it is possible for me to make a life for myself again. Having realized that, I have also come to realize that drugs, alcohol, and pornography cannot have any place whatsoever in my life. I am in recovery; recovery is a lifestyle, and it’s a lifelong process. Sobriety and recovery are not the same thing. One can be sober yet stagnant and miserable. Recovery is sobriety and a fulfilling life lived with purpose, a life that is part of a community and a society. My addictive, compulsive behavior negatively impacted all areas of my life: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social/legal. Recovery is about positively impacting each of these areas, and that can only happen as a result of my willingness, humility, and openness to change, while letting go of the past by regularly taking inventory and cleaning house and making amends. I must also respect the boundaries of others and recognize that I never have the power to make any human being bend to my will, no matter my position as a father, a boss, or in any other position of authority. It is what one does that matters most, even when no one else is watching. I will use my support network often, to stay grounded or if I find myself in a difficult situation.
RISKS AND THEIR MANAGEMENT
I believe that if I find myself homeless, it could very well be a high risk situation for me because I’ve never been homeless before and being homeless might therefore cause me to feel like a failure and to despair. I would deal with this situation by reminding myself that being homeless is only a temporary situation, provided I have faith in God and myself as his child. I would go to a mission, I would call my sponsor, and I would go to church and ask for help and direction. I would remember how much I dislike my prison time too, and not want to risk having to go through that again.
Another situation that I can see being one that would test my recovery is the loss of a job. I have been known to turn mole hills into mountains in the past (catastrophizing), thinking I am able to predict the future, as if I know that the loss of a job is the beginning of the end for me. I would have to deal with this situation in a fashion similar to the homeless situation. I would stop and think about prison. I would contact my network for advice and direction, including my sponsor. I would start sending out resumes and applying for jobs. I would apply for unemployment benefits if I had been laid off. To deal with the immediate punch of the news of the layoff I would use DBT skills.
A third situation might be holidays because there are many parties at those times. I might avoid the usual parties but then the loneliness might get me so I believe the best course of action would be to gather with others in recovery where there would be no drugs or alcohol.
As I wrote earlier, I did get sober in 2000 and relapsed in 2002. The way I avoided relapse for 2½ years was to remember what it was like when I didn’t know where my wife and daughter were. I didn’t want to lose them again and I felt bad for causing them to have to up and leave. The problem with that was that I wasn’t sober for myself, I was sober for them. Maybe a better way to look at it is that I didn’t have a purpose for my life and I didn’t have a true relationship with God. I have learned that I cannot stay sober for other people; I must stay sober for myself and to do that I must know what my purpose in life is. For me, that’s all about serving God and others in love and with humility. It’s not about me, it’s about others. There is a lot of joy to be had in serving God and others. I’ve been institutionally sober for 13 years. I realize that recovery is a lifestyle that involves all areas of life. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social/legal. I can’t do it alone either.
In the past, when I had problems, I would often ignore them and blame others for the problem. I was in denial, not taking responsibility for them. I would use drugs and alcohol to mask the problem. If I did attempt to deal with a problem in the past, I would often try to do it alone or with what I considered to be a source of wisdom: marijuana. I didn’t consult God. Now I know that there is a delicate balance of chemicals in my brain and street drugs will destroy that balance. It would be especially disastrous to combine street drugs with my psych medications. Now I will trust in God. I will turn to my support system. I will use what I am learning in DBT to help regulate my emotions, have effective relationships, be mindful and tolerate distress. I will not use.
There are so many options for building a support system when I parole. Actually, I will begin building my support system before I parole. I will make contact with social services. I will go to NA and AA meetings where I will meet people who know people who know people, etc. and get a sponsor. I will be a member of a church and that will be another arm of my support system. Unfortunately, I have no support from family at this time (and not for over ten years) and don’t think I will when I get out. At least, if I do end up reunited with my sisters, they are clean and sober. I will continue to participate in group therapy when I parole and will make friends with sober people. I will form networks via coworkers. I will read traditional catholic literature and I am considering joining the third order of the SSPX.
In the past, I would respond to stress primarily by using street drugs and drinking to try to make the stress go away. I would act out. I really lived two separate lives: my party life and my family life. The line between the two became very blurred. I would also blow up at loved ones, thinking that they ought to understand. I even managed to prevent myself from thinking about anything that mattered. I would leave the worrying to others. Now that I am in DBT Basics I see a different way to go about dealing with distress - a means to tolerate it. I hope to be enrolled in DBT Intensive next quarter. I will also have people I can talk to about what is stressing me and I will meditate and do mindfulness exercises. I will throw ice water on my face if I can I will not let my stress build up. In the past, I even acted out to the point of banging my head against the wall and the floor on more than one occasion, until it bled. I will no longer resort to hurting myself in the future.
With regards to communication skills learned in substance abuse class, I learned that there are four basic types of communication: passive, passive-aggressive, aggressive, and assertive I learned that being assertive is the best of these. Another communications goal is not only to get my needs met but also to create a win-win situation for both (or all) parties involved. Furthermore, I have learned that listening is often overlooked when thinking about communication skills. Communication involves me truly taking an interest in what the other person has to say. I can help ensure the other person that I am listening and interested by maintaining eye contact and by reflecting back to him or her what I heard and by asking questions. At times, passive communication may be effective, such as when dealing with those in authority, at least initially.
Sometimes my obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a weakness when it causes me to waste time doing something to perfection when perfection is far beyond what is needed. There are times when doing this can really turn others off too. This could negatively impact all kinds of relationships. However, if I use this trait at the right times, it can be an asset such as when performing a task at work that requires strict attention to detail. I will deal with this by recognizing when such attention is required and by keeping this defect in mind. I will practice mindfulness (focus) and awareness.
Another weakness is when I sometimes find it extremely difficult to overlook the actions of others when those actions involve breaking rules or breaking the law, even though their actions have no direct impact on me or those with whom I live (it’s really none of my business in other words). This could possibly cause me to get into conflicts that could inadvertently cause me to have contact with authorities, which would otherwise be avoided. That’s not good for recovery, especially while on parole. I have begun to be much better at minding my own business in recent years. I recognize that I cannot control everything and that my integrity can be maintained without trying to be a cop all the time. A third character defect is pride. However, thirteen years of incarceration, which came about as a direct consequence of my pride, has caused me to spend a lot of time practicing humility. This is connected to my realization that my purpose in life does not involve being hedonistic; it is not all about me. It's not about me at all. I exist to serve God and others in love and humility. That’s my purpose in life. I continue to prayerfully ask God about the specificities of my calling i.e. His will for me. I have learned that there is much joy to be found in living to make life better for others. My spirituality (Traditional, Latin-Rate Catholicism) is my source of strength and wisdom here.
In the event that my Relapse Prevention Plan (RPP) is not thought out well enough, or in the event that I do not follow it for some reason, thus experiencing a relapse, I will remember that I am only human, that God loves me and wants to use me for his will and that therefore I must try to begin again the life-long process of recovery. I will work the 12-steps again, paying particular attention to where I went away and will contact my sponsor and my spiritual advisor in the church. I will talk to my mental health professional. I will explore the issue in depth.
REASONS I WANT SOBRIETY
I will now discuss five reasons (although there are more) why I want to stay sober. I think the most significant reason for staying sober is that using led me down a very dark path, a path so ugly I don’t ever want to go there again. Traveling that path required me to put myself before my mom, my daughter, my wife, my sisters, and everyone else. I put myself first not only to use, but all also to go to other places – dark, dark places involving deviant sexuality - places That I drew my own daughter into at a tender age, places no little girl should ever see. I ignored her boundaries, I stole her innocence. I have yet to figure out how to forgive myself for that. I haven’t heard from her since 2007. I haven’t heard from her mom since 2010. I haven’t heard from my sisters since 2006. I get sick thinking about the damage I caused and wondering if my daughter will ever heal. I want to make amends; if that’s not motivating I don’t know what is.
A second reason is my health. I haven’t used in thirteen years and I’m in better physical health than I’ve been in about twenty five years. I’m about to turn 57 (July 2018). I’m far too old to be partying. I want to become even healthier. Street drugs and psych drugs don’t mix.
A third reason is that using drugs is in no way compatible with my spiritual journey. My Traditional Roman Catholic faith teaches that our bodies are temples and they are not to be abused in any way. Street drugs alter our cognitive abilities; we need to have our cognitive abilities to be as sharp as possible in order to guard against poor decision making and to perceive the truth.
A fourth reason is that I want to earn a college degree (Biology/Computer Science) so that I can use it to give back to society by creating genetically tailored medicines. I can’t achieve this goal while using.
Last, but not least, the fifth reason is that I don’t ever want to see the inside of a prison, a jail or a mental hospital again.
GOALS AND PLANS FOR A RECOVERY LIFESTYLE
Now I’d like to discuss each aspect of sobriety (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social/legal), giving a goal and a plan for each. With regard to the physical aspect of sobriety, I have several goals. One of them is to be able to jog three miles without stopping (I just did 2.75 miles this past weekend) and in a very good time (21 minutes). I will accomplish this by continuing to jog whenever I am able. (can’t always do it while incarcerated). I will try to get in as good a shape as I can, by jogging and stretching and weight-lifting and calisthenics and by eating healthy meals.
As for the mental aspect of sobriety, I will continue to take my medications and to participate in therapy toward the end of mastering coping skills so that I can be a valued member of my community, society as a whole, my church, and my professional society. I will continue to participate in my groups her at ASH because they contribute to my mental wellbeing (CBT, DBT and SA). Once I parole I will seek continued mental health care. I will continue to read all types of material and to work all types of puzzles (Sudoku, crosswords, logic, cyphers, etc.) to keep my mind sharp. I will enroll in a college to complete my AA degree with the goal of earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Computer Science. Even if I don’t reach that goal (as I am going to be 58 when I parole), I want to work toward it because I enjoy the academic challenge and because the knowledge I gain while working toward it will be valuable and the work will help me to avoid unstructured time.
The aforementioned plans will also play a part in the emotional aspect of sobriety. I have already learned that all emotions are okay, but it’s my response to them that can be ineffective regarding the achievement of my goals. So I have a goal to learn to sit with my emotions, to just experience them without impulsive gestures. I’ve already begun to practice this with what I have learned thus far in DBT. I am practicing using my wise mind. Mindfulness exercises help with this. In DBT basics, I’ve learned to be aware that sometimes I can mistake an emotion to be proof of a fact about me or the world. I need to check the facts. I know that mood-altering substance can wreak havoc on my emotions. I’ve learned that changing my body chemistry (ice on my face, intense exercise, or breathing techniques) can reduce extreme emotions quickly. Radical acceptance can be used for distress tolerance, as well as willingness instead of willfulness. Sleep, exercise, physical health and a balanced diet are all connected to “inoculating” one against stress, so-to-speak. Accumulating positives, building mastery (sense of accomplishment, challenge), and coping ahead (planning how to deal with situations that may be troublesome) are all DBT skills to which I’ve been introduced and which I am using here and there when the need arises and when I remember to do it. I have a goal of becoming very well-versed in the DBT skills and of being able to receive additional coaching in this area. I plan to do this, in part, by advocating for myself to be placed in the advanced DBT group here at ASH.
I’ve been working on my spirituality for the last thirteen years (since being incarcerated) I have been given the privilege of volunteering as the Catholic Chaplain’s Lector and as a Christian thereby assisting during communion services. I have a goal to do the same in my parish when I parole. My plan is to hone my skills here at ASH and to use the Chaplain here as a reference, when I join a church on the streets. I am also considering becoming a member of the Third Order of the SSPX (Society of Saint Pius the Tenth), a lay order of the Catholic Church, which requires vows and a holy lifestyle. I want to get as close to God as I can because He is the way to serenity for me. He is my higher power, the One in whom I place my faith and trust. I will participate in the Catholic Sacraments regularly, too.
With regard to the Social/Legal aspect of my sobriety my goal is to reintegrate into society and find a community I can be a part of even though I’m a two-ninety registrant. I want to complete my parole as smoothly as possible. Toward that end I plan to obey all the conditions of my parole (and CONREP, if that’s the way I return to the community). I plan to spend much of my time seeking employment. I will be able to use my employment in the main kitchen here at Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) as a reference, I will go to Social Services when I parole to see what assistance they may be able to provide. I will network through AA/NA and my church to find employment. I will take almost any job to have income. I will be an active participant in my community’s governing process. My goal is to become a respected and valued member of my community in spite of the fact that I will have to register as a sex offender. This will take time and I will have to earn the respect of many. I believe I can do that.
There are so many ways to have fun without using. One is geocaching, which involves searching for buried “treasure” (trinkets really) using a handheld GPS (cell phone). There’s hiking involved, sometimes a road trip, and the community of Geocachers might provide new, non-using friends.
Another way to have fun without using is to learn the art of cooking, and again, this offers the opportunity to invite people to try my cooking, thereby developing and/or stretching relationships and my social network.
A third way to have fun without using is to prepare, plant and grow flower and vegetable gardens to enjoy visually and to use in my cooking. I have always loved a well groomed lawn and garden and the pride and satisfaction that come from seeing the fruit of my labor. An added benefit is the exercise a garden forces one to undertake.
STRENGTHS I CAN PUT TO USE
One strength that I can utilize to help me stay sober and live a recovery lifestyle is the fact that I am very motivated to earn at least a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science. I have been working on my Associate of Arts Degree (with an emphasis in the Humanities); I have 49 credits, so far with a 4.0 GPA, from the Feather River College Incarcerated Student Program (Quincy, CA). I thoroughly enjoy the challenge and the work involved in earning these credits. Pursuing this goal will certainly go a long way toward filling my otherwise unstructured time, which is a very effective way to avoid relapse.
Another strength I can use to avoid relapse is my dedication to living my faith (Roman Catholicism). The tenets of my faith, along with continually developing my relationship with God, are not in accord with the using lifestyle. My faith includes the belief in life after death, Heaven and Hell (as well as Purgatory). I have known from a very young age that I do not want to go to Hell and that I do want to go to Heaven. As simplified as that may sound the point is that I believe that living the recovery lifestyle provides me with the best chance of also living a life that is pleasing to God. Therefore my strength lies in my faith in God’s plan for me.
A third strength is my willingness to work the AA/NA 12 step program. There are meeting galore, in every place. They provide social networks and activities with people in recovery, thereby filling more of my otherwise unstructured time. Also, I will have connections for jobs, housing, etc. I will have a sponsor. My willingness to work the steps is a definite strength that will help me stay sober, in recovery, and to have a life worth living.
MY VISION AND DESIRES FOR MY FUTURE
What I want most out of life now that I’ve experienced so much, both the light and the dark, the good and the evil, the ordered and the chaotic, love and hate, is to join with the forces of all of the former and none of the latter in each pair. When I think of the dark roads and chose to travel down, and the consequences of doing so, I find it overwhelming ugly and terrifying. I have forfeited so much so easily, it would seem. In reality it took years to accomplish, I am ready to put the rest of my years in God’s hands, to do his will, not mine. I was incredibly lost, and I can never go back to where I was before I was lost. That is okay; I can use my experiences, together with the newfound knowledge and support network that is the recovery lifestyle, to journey to a new place, a bright place, a place that is not so far away yet will require the rest of my life to get to. That place exists in two different dimensions: one here on Earth in recovery, and one elsewhere, reached by the parallel spiritual journey that takes place in recovery right beside the earthly journey. As St. Paul states in his second epistle to the Corinthians, "For although we walk in the flesh, we do not battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments and every pretention raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ, and we are ready to punish every disobedience, once your obedience is complete." (2 Cor. 10:3-6, NAB).
I destroyed my family by living according to the flesh. My wife and daughter were beautiful gifts from God, but I did not acknowledge that. I took them for granted. Now I am a convicted felon sex offender. That’s the cover on the book of my life as it currently rests on the shelf for anyone to see. The old maxim says not to judge a book by its cover. That’s what I want out of life now. Just a chance to show that my cover is outdated because the story inside the book has changed. I don’t expect anyone to take that for granted. I just want a chance to show it. I want a job and a decent place to live. I want my own car and the chance to earn a degree. I want to make a positive impact on my community. I want my life to mean something, to be remembered not as a convicted sex offender but as a caring, sensitive human being who did what he could to make life better for as many people as he could. I want so much to reconcile with my daughter and to be a dad to my son. But more than that, I want both of them to be happy and for them to never get lost the way I did. I pray that they would know God, that they would trust in Him always, and that they would be surrounded by his servants. I want some close friends, and if it is God’s will a spouse in a Godly marriage. I want to be part of a recovery society. I don’t want to hurt anyone ever again.
David J. Terway
October 21, 2019
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