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Letting Go


A couple of days ago, a dear friend and former client passed from this life.

Marco was one of the most interesting people I have met in my life.

I first met him when he entered our sober living program fresh out of prison.  He was a older, Hispanic fellow, covered in gang style tattoos- all the way up his neck, on his hands and arms. He was an intimidating man.  Marco had paid a serious price for his gang and drug history,  many years in prison, losing his wife and family along the way.  He was a man of faith and while in prison, he was sober and real life slaps you down… re-connecting with your higher power, God for many…is the only way you can find some peace and make plans to move away from the gang. Marco found on his release that he want to return to his church.  Great! We connected him with the right people who would welcome him into the local ward – tattoos and all. He looked so handsome in his Sunday shirt and tie, nice slacks and a good pair of shoes.

Predictably attending his local ward was a rough ride. He couldn’t quite make that transition- which was probably more the fault of the locals who had little or no understanding of what his life had been like and how valuable non judgmental fellowship would have been in building a new foundation of spiritual support for him. But in spite of that, he was faithful in his heart. he was a believer and wanted desperately to make things right with God, so he turned to the rooms of AA for much needed fellowship, sponsorship and sober friends.

Recovery is rough for men like Marco. Past middle age, with a criminal and drug history, Where can you live, who will hire you?  What skills do you have? The only people you know are people like you.  Felons.  Or your parole agent – gruff and unsympathetic, they just wait for the slip up. You are just paperwork to them.

Marco was smart, kind, funny and really cared about his family and friends. He worked hard at rebuilding his life in between relapses and overdoses, he wasn’t shy about just hanging in there.  He was a good companion in our sober living house, which is how I came to know him. But that too was still a daily struggle and late one night our manager found him overdosed on heroin in the house bathroom.

It was a long night in the ER and then in intensive care for a few days. Marco lived and was given his umpteenth chance to start fresh. And he embraced it again.

A couple of years ago. Marco made this video.    https://youtu.be/aYf38ZkVKi8

Addiction is complicated. It is nasty and aggravating. Recovery is mysterious and has no guarantees for success.  And no one really has any good answers on how to stop the rampaging destruction – except… Just don’t do it.  That is the cure.

If you have an addict or alcoholic in your life… here are a few quick tips on how to manage that chaos.

  1. It’s important to say No, you can’t live here and I will always love you.
  2. Don’t ever give them money.
  3. It’s okay if they get arrested – never bail them out.
  4. You can’t reason with them.
  5. It’s not your fault they abuse substances  ( whatever their reasons).
  6. They will quit only when they are good and ready to quit.
  7.  Many will choose death over life and that’s okay – allow them their agency to choose.
  8. Love what is.

God Speed Marco. Your physical addiction is over now and you can recover and do the work you need to do in the hereafter in the loving embrace of Jesus and family gone before you.  ( Yes. I believe in eternity and mercy)  I’ll see you again some day.




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