I did not want to make the drive. Not again. A three hour drive into my own personal heart of darkness. Sitting with my thoughts while speeding to the very region I spent a lifetime escaping
Garfield is not unlike the small rural Georgia town I grew up in. My brother has spent the last nine months working the program at New Beginnings in Christ Men’s Recovery Home.
New Beginning was started in campers in the backyard of Mr. Donald and his wife. Now they house and feed 84 men free of charge in exchange for the men working the program. It’s one of the few resources poorer counties and families have.
The side of the road was packed with cars of the families and friends who were here to stand with the men graduating.
I arrived before my parents.
“Jeff, why are you so dressed up?”
“Oh shiiiiit. That’s not Jeff.”
My brother and I are a lot alike. To know us is to recognize how genetically similar we must be. It’s with this lens I contemplate addiction,nature, nurture, choice and circumstance.
A black man approaches me,
“BJ, do you remember from high school.”
He was a couple of years older than me.
“Of course man. How are you?”
It was an odd question since most of the men at New Beginnings are here on court order, and all of them addicts or alcoholics.
He shared he had struggled with cocaine most of his life.
“You know how Washington County is. It’s a trap.”
I shared with him that I too was an addict and that I was glad he could get help here.
I recognized a few more faces. Unfortunately I have known too many childhood friends who have found this mandated refuge.
Today there were 13 men graduating. The hall was packed with all the men and their families. Every chair full and people standing. I’d guess 250 in attendance.
The preacher and director said a few words as my brother received his diploma. Then it was my turn.
If you knew what I knew, you’d know I am just like the men in this room just more fortunate.
“My name is Butler, and I am an alcoholic and addict in recovery.”
This was the first time I’ve said this in front of my parents.
My dad spoke and said he and Mama were proud of both of us.
I just hope all these men begin to heal.