Thursday, September 10, 2009

The "Work In" - My Past Life (part 2 of 2)

Ed Negron, a former drug user, turned gangbanger, turned drug dealer, turned own best customer, turned addict, turned recovering addict (still there), turned activist, turned business manager, turned student, turned Substance Abuse Counselor, turned better and happier person, turned someone who can love and be loved (Love you Patrick), turned blogger. Check out Ed's own blog here.

Featured Every Thursday on LifeLube (though he has been on va-k for awhile) --- check out all of Ed's "Work-In's" here.

I want to thank everyone for the awesome comments and emails I received about last week’s post and welcoming me back. This week I tell you about the journey to where I am today.

…This was beginning of the end of my past life. (read all of Part 1 here.)

I spent two weeks in Cook County Jail, where I pretty much detoxed. I slept though the first couple of days, just waking up at chow time. As I started to snap out the exhaustion, everything I was running from when I was getting high; the shame, guilt, anger and sorrow, hit me like a Mac truck. Those years of partying flashed before my eyes, and not in a good way. It got to the point where I felt suicide would be the only way out. I wouldn’t wish that kind of feeling on my worst enemy. That’s how painful it was. Of course, all those “friends” I thought I had, were gone. Once the drugs and money were gone, so was the crowd. Next thing I knew, I had no one. And that’s one of the worst feelings ever.

I was blessed with two amazing lawyers. I don’t know where they came from or what they saw in me. One month I was looking at some jail time because of my previous criminal record. Then the next month it was lessoned to probation, coupled with an intensive outpatient program, if I pled guilty. If that wasn’t a sign that my Higher Power gave me a second chance, then I don’t know what is.

So, a week before I had to begin my probation and program I figured, “What the hell, it’s Market Days, ‘Illinois's largest two-day street fair’, one last party weekend can’t hurt.” On Sunday August 15, 1999 I set out for my last hoorah. At the end of the night I wound up in a jail cell in Lockport, IL, which is an hour south of Chicago - don’t ask. This was definitely the last day of my past life. I have been drug and alcohol free since that day ten years ago.

The beginning of my new journey began with me attending an intensive out-patient substance abuse program and 12 Step Recovery meetings. I had gone to many A.A. meetings and worked my steps for the first three years, but I still wasn’t getting what I was looking for. What that was, I didn’t even know, but I did know that I just wasn’t getting it. I had a conversation with a friend about how I was feeling. He told me, “Ed, you should check out the Warriors. They really helped change my life.” I thought to myself, “What the hell is he talking about?” He went on to explain to me what a difference the ManKind Project had made in his life. I became excited as I heard him tell me his story. As I listened to him, I saw in my head what “it” was; this is what I was looking for, and this was what I needed in my life. Within the next few weeks a couple of other men told me damn near the same story about MKP. The scary part was that none of these guys knew each other. Was it just a coincidence or was it Divine intervention? I wasn’t going to chance it, so after the last conversation I went online and signed up for their weekend adventure.

About a week later I receive a call from one of the weekend staff members. He asked me, “What are you looking for? What do you want?”

At first I was stunned, then I answered, “I am looking for me.”

On the first day of the weekend we were ushered into a large tent while we waited for everyone to arrive. As I sat there, I could see and feel the fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, and frustration as I looked around at the other men in the tent. None of us knew what was going to happen next. I felt a lot of fear and joy; joy that my new journey had just begun and fear of the unknown. What did I just get myself into?

The next 48 hours were filled with all kinds of exercises. I learned how to face my fears by putting them in front of me. I was taken all the way back to my childhood so that I see how and where those fears came from. I was taught how to identify my shadows, confront them and keep them in front of me, so that I can control them and not let my shadows control me. I learned the true meaning of holding myself accountable for my own actions, therefore, holding others accountable for their actions. The best, and most important, lesson I learned during that weekend was how to trust other men so that I will not be afraid or ashamed to ask them for help when I need it. The last day of the weekend I became a “Man Among Men”, a “New Age Warrior”. The looks on all of the men’s faces were totally opposite from Friday night. As I looked around this time I saw joy, strength, enlightenment, trust and a sense of calmness in every man’s eyes. This was one of the best feelings I have ever felt. The next step of my journey was to be a part of an integration group, a group of men that continue to share the work that we learned on our weekend. My work is an on going process; and I have learned to trust that process.

bed of clouds silhoutte, originally uploaded by moemoechi.

I continue to work on my sobriety and my mind and soul. I am not part of the “norm”, nor do I ever want to be. I am unique. I know that I am still going to make mistakes and piss people off from time to time, but I will constantly look for ways to improve myself by going inside of myself to see what needs work. My continued work on myself will help me to be there 110 % for my family, friends, those around me, and those that will stumble down the path long after I’m gone.

I must now share my gold, my gift.

"Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail."  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Don’t forget  that September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. The 2009 theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Learn, Together We Heal.” See what's happening near you

To read daily motivations visit my blog at or to receive daily motivations via email join our Google group Back To The Basics Please .

If you are not sure how to begin your work-in or need some guidance please feel free to post a comment or email me directly at, I will response as soon as I can.

(Usual disclaimer applies: The suggestions on this blog are just that “SUGGESTIONS.” My words cannot heal your pain and or addictions. Nor can I change your life. Only you can.)

“Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." -- Shakti Gawain

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