145: Using Tragedy to Find Recovering Success (Sort Of)

Martin joins us to discuss what it’s been like trying to recovery from substance use and also tragedy. We get into the shame that separates us from finding joy in our current lives. We talk about trying to stay on the positive side while being in a negative environment. We explore dealing with the unfairness of life. Martin brings an incredible voice to the table to discuss his life which has gone from horror to miracle. Listen in and share your thoughts with us.

How to find us and join the conversation:





Email: RecoverySortOf@gmail.com

Episodes mentioned:

Mental Health Hotline 988

Martin’s website

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature welcome back it’s recovery sort of i am jason a guy who is recovering hi and i’m jenny i’m a person in long-term recovery and we’re here with martin today hi martin hello thank you guys for having me it’s an honor to be here how do you like to introduce yourself i know that there’s like this shift from like you know people saying i’m an addict or i’m an alcoholic to to kind of this idea at least outside of the programs like i’m in long-term recovery or something that sounds fancy what’s your version of that so i am a big proponent of aaa i do go to aaa and when i introduce myself i say i am martin and i am a recovering alcoholic so that’s my kind of fancy term if you will i gotcha i got you um so i yeah and it’s weird to hear that that movement right because i think at least early on for me in a program it was like oh you’re an addict you’re an addict you’re an addict and then this idea of like we’re anonymous in the sense of like it doesn’t matter that we’re in the program we’re all equal and all that it doesn’t matter our job titles and yet outside of that how do we present ourselves to the public to let them know that we do recover and so the long-term recovery is kind of interesting i wish there was like some better word like hey i’m a struggling human or i know i jostled around a few things when i started doing the show with you but i stuck with long-term recovery i think that’s what billy does and i’m like that sounds good i i’ll change again this time next year i’ll be something else absolutely i don’t know i mean we’re such a label driven society and and culture and labels matter right i mean like the first thing you not the first thing but a lot of people when they meet someone they’ll say so what do you do right oh i’m i’m this i’m bad again the labels is you know those are kind of at the forefront of our identity and i don’t know i think since i’ve since i’ve you know been released from from prison which we’ll get into i’ve not consciously necessarily but just kind of naturally gotten away from attaching said labels to myself um i don’t know because i just wanna i just wanna i just wanna live freely and i don’t want people i think what it is is i don’t want people to prejudge me based on a label if that label comes before me right before i’m actually able to introduce myself and have a conversation then they’ve already got five or six or ten things going on in their head about who i am and what i’m about so i don’t know i mean god bless anybody who you know leaves with labels but i personally try not to no and i i think that’s beautiful one of the things you said god we’re going to get off topic before we even start uh one of the things you said was that question of like hey what do you do for a living you know uh and it’s like one of at least from my opinion it’s one of the most shame inducing questions for many people because a lot of us aren’t living maybe the job title that we wish we were or we’re not enough in society and we’re searching for that and so i you know i do i try to at least reframe it to hey what do you do for work right because that’s not nothing is the total person every little piece of this is just a piece of who we are right maybe i have depression that doesn’t mean i’m just a depressed guy i’m a whole lot of other stuff too 100 and i think that’s that’s really important to to um assert because but we do place such a great emphasis on even the work that we do but i think i think that’s good that you make that distinction uh there are many many facets to us and and i think now that you mention it uh jason i think that i think maybe perhaps the reason why i don’t um you know lead with labels is because there was there was so much shame and and you know just feeling inadequate around my job title as a young man right i felt that i should you know be in college and be a student and then after that i should be you know making six figures at you know some for you know just just this big grandiose plan and i was never that and so that that deep sense of just feeling inadequate and not enough and not measuring up is what ultimately led into my my need to drink and which evolved into full-blown alcoholism uh by a16 and and so i think maybe subconsciously that’s why i don’t place such an emphasis on the labels i don’t know no that makes a lot of sense it’s it’s incredible to me and not that i don’t understand it but it’s still i guess mind-blowing in some ways like a lot of the people i see will be talking about well why don’t you leave this job you’re at or why don’t you do this if it would make you happier and the priority level our society puts on money and success over happiness right because we don’t walk up to people when we meet them and say man what do you do for fun right what’s your hobbies what do you like to get into what really gets you going what are you passionate about we’re like what do you do right yeah but it’s it’s so hard for people because of our society as it’s so ingrained it’s so hard to step back and say man i can make less money if it makes me happier and it’s i don’t know it’s so fascinating but anyway we’re getting way off so what i’m gonna do is shut my mouth for a little while and let you tell your story of why you’re here today thank you so just just to give a little backdrop that leads into why i’m here today so i was a pretty shy kid growing up i grew up with two loving parents a twin brother two older sisters we grew up in a really rough neighborhood in portland oregon in the 80s there was you know gangs crime prostitution drive-by shootings every night you name it but my parents i think they did everything they could to shield my siblings and me from all that chaos by having us enrolled in after-school activities little league pop warner football cub scouts um all of these things and that worked well until i got to high school and that shyness kind of really overtook me and so at that point you know the peer group becomes more central in our lives and we’re looking to gain independence and so those things were heavy heavy heavy influences that led me to hanging out with the wrong group and with that wrong group comes a lot of bad decisions and so that’s when my drinking started and i remember the first time i drank i was at a party at 14 years old and the guy had handed me a beer and i’m thinking there’s no way i can drink this like mom and dad are gonna kill me if they find out right we weren’t we weren’t raised this way but i knew if i was gonna be accepted which was the most important thing but you know by this this group then i had to do what they were doing and so i took that the first few swigs out of that disgusting beer and but i’ll tell you it it you know my chest warmed up and you know my my inhibitions come down and i’m free to actually be sociable and to talk to girls like this is like this is a miracle right it was a miracle drug and i was like oh my goodness i can finally be myself this little liquid in this little can is allowing me to be myself right and so that was kind of the beginning of my fascination with alcohol it progressed over the next couple years into something much darker um you know by this time i started to really question my identity and there were some real deep-seated insecurities that started to take root so growing up where i grew up again it’s like 90 black it’s impoverished it’s just a terrible neighborhood 15 minutes away at my school you know we were pretty mixed mixed group of kids and so i noticed that a lot of the white kids they got cars when they turned 16. they lived in the better side of town with manicured lawns and you know no trash on the street and it was just a totally different world and i was thinking in my adolescent and pre-adolescent brain that they must be inherently better than me because they get to live this way and how come all my people you know have to live this way and so that’s kind of where that identity crisis came i remember you know around 15 16 years old i would literally you know dress a certain way talk a certain way around my peers in my neighborhood and i had an after-school job at an ice cream parlor at 16 and so when i would go there all the kids that worked there were white and i would hang out with him after work and i would literally change my clothes to like the you know the tommy hilfiger and the polo and you know kind of the more preppy and i would literally change my vernacular to match how they spoke because that’s that’s that’s how i was going to be accepted and so i’m navigating between two worlds but i’m never really feeling entirely comfortable in either one if i’m being honest with you so it just caused more internal conflict that that i didn’t know how to cope with and so the alcohol became my best friend and a way to escape and not feel and that’s when it really it really took a dark turn and so i became an alcoholic by age 16. and that eventually led into the reason why i’m here because on new year’s eve of 2003 it started off like any normal day i had i was living with my girlfriend in vancouver washington i worked at a warehouse in portland i kissed her goodbye i go to work at 6 30 a.m i remember we had gotten off work because of the holiday and it’s about 11 30 or so and we’re wrapping things up ready to clock out and my boss jokes with us and says you guys go out and have a good time tonight but please don’t let me wake up and see you on the front page right of course we laugh it off we clock out we leave i go to the liquor store i bought a fifth of gen and then i proceeded to my parents house to hang out with my twin brother because that’s where he was living at the time and so i get there we hang out i drink the alcohol and then he and i had made plans for later that night to attend a friend’s house party and after i drank that fit the gin you would think that would be enough for one person it was not i went back to the store i bought four 24 ounce cans of beer if you’re doing a quick math on that that’s 96 ounces of beer that i consumed between the hours of about five and eight o’clock that night so then my brother and i decided we would go to another friend’s house in the meantime to hang out because we didn’t want to get to the party too early so we get to that friend’s house we hang out the three of us drink a pint of hennessy together it’s now about 11 o’clock so we go to exit his apartment to go to the party and as we’re walking out the door his mother admonishes us and says y’all be careful tonight you’re here and of course we said yes ma’am yes ma’am you know obviously we had no intentions of being careful that night so we get to the party we see a bunch of old classmates we drink more alcohol everything is great we bring in the new year we exit the party at about 12 15 a.m and i take my friend home without incident i get back onto the freeway to take my brother home and at this point all i’m thinking about is how exhausted i am and i just want to get home and go to sleep because i know i didn’t have to work the next day i’ve been drinking all day i think i had one meal at around 4 30 or 5 o’clock that that evening early evening and on the freeway i begin to elevate my speed to about 80 miles an hour and this makes my brother nervous he says hey man you know you should slow down you know the police are out you know it’d be in the holiday and all and i thought you know well that makes sense so i went ahead and slowed down so we continue to drive on the freeway take the exit about 10 minutes later we’re now driving in a residential area and again i began to pick up my speed it’s about 60 miles an hour in a 35 zone and he you know this time he gets mad he says slow down before we crash and i snap back at him man calm down i know what i’m doing i got this nonetheless just to keep him quiet i went ahead and slowed down so we continue to drive and we’re just about to turn on to our parents block where i’m going to drop him off and he suddenly realizes he’s all out of cigarettes so he says hey bro let’s let’s go up the road so i can get some cigarettes i’m all out and in my mind i’m thinking great you know here’s one more stop that i don’t want to have to make so we continue to drive for two blocks and then about two blocks from that point there’s an intersection and i’m looking up at the light and the light is yellow and as intoxicated as i was i still knew there was no way i was gonna make this light but it didn’t matter because in a split second i had made up my mind i’m not gonna wait i’m gonna go right through so i immediately punch the gas and i’m almost you know tunnel vision i don’t see anything to the right or left of me and within seconds just boom i mean just this earth-shattering crash and the airbag embellished my face and my car comes to a slow winding hole and i immediately look to my right to see if my brother’s okay and he appears he appears to be okay so i’m you know i’m somewhat relieved at the same time a guy comes rushing up to the driver’s side door frantically are you guys okay are you guys okay yeah we’re okay i tell them and i step out of my vehicle and most people most decent people at this point would go check on the people that just hit i did not because again i was so consumed with myself and everything you know that pertaining to me i’m looking at my vehicle which is my prized possession right it’s a status symbol it’s a nice newer you know vehicle custom rims i worked hard to get it and i’m crushed because i’m looking at my prized possession and a heap of crumpled metal and then my brother gets my attention and he starts to point across the street and he’s like hey bro he said i think i see somebody lying down on the pavement over there man and um i don’t think they’re moving so instantly i snap out a bit and i’m like oh my god what have i done within seconds lights and sirens are just everywhere lighting up the sky and the policemen are on the scene and they’re talking to me and they take my brother a few feet away to interview him in about five minutes or so into that interview that officer had confirmed to me what i had already known to be true in my heart which was that that person who was lying on the pavement had died and they informed me that another was being driven by ambulance uh to the hospital just blocks away and so i’m placed under arrest i’m put into the back of the cruiser we head for downtown for processing and from the back seat i’m listening to the police radio because there’s a lot of chatter about the crash obviously and about 10 minutes into that ride downtown it sounded like unbeknownst to me there was another passenger who was in the vehicle who had died at the scene and so i asked the officer from the back uh back seat i said excuse me sir i said did i just hear that correctly did i just hear that somebody else uh died in that in that crash he said unfortunately yes so i mean i was already like just the sheer devastation of knowing that you’re responsible i’m 24 years old right and i i’m now responsible for two human beings no longer being here two people i had never met never talked to had no idea who they were what their lives were like who their kids were nothing so i’m responsible for that but there’s another side of this where i i still know in my very intoxicated mind that in the state of oregon a dui manslaughter qualifies as a violent person-to-person crime which requires a mandatory minimum of 10 years day for day in state prison you will not earn a single day off for good behavior for going to school having a job 10 years flat and now i’ve got two manslaughters so i’m i know i’m looking at about 20 years in prison at this point so we’re driving through my neighborhood on the way to to to downtown and i’m looking around kind of taking in my last memories if you will as horrific as they were but i knew i was not going to see that neighborhood for about the next 20 years so that became the the worst day of many people’s lives god that’s a that’s a tough story martin i really appreciate you even being willing to come on and share about it i i just there’s so much guilt and shame when we stop using our substance right you know i would venture to say i think guilt and shame is kind of what shoved a lot of us in the direction of using the substance for relief to begin with just no ability to tolerate the amount of guilt and shame that was felt in our bodies whether that’s given to us by our parents by society by our peers whatever it is right there’s just this high level of like i am a terrible thing and i if anybody ever finds out they’ll hate me the way i hate me and so i i kind of think that’s why we start using the substances but then you know at least my experience getting off of it people feel this great guilt and shame and i can’t imagine having such a a big event in my life right like i i felt guilt and shame for you know and i’m not trying to minimize my own experience but for for cheating on a lot of people and for hurting a lot of people’s feelings and lying and you know doing some not so great things but like that is a really big guilt and shame piece to try to i don’t want to say get over but to tolerate and to live with and to move forward with and that’s got to be incredibly challenging for you in the in the today well right and so i’ll say that for the first three years of of my incarceration i live with that shame and guilt immensely so well but before before i get there let me just let me just back up and say what happened three days after this crash that actually set me on the the path that i’m on now and the work that i do so three days in i’m in my cell i’m minding my own business i get the oregonian newspaper uh slid underneath my door by some random person i don’t know i didn’t ask to see a paper but this paper comes under my my door and i think well there must be something in here for me to read so i’m thumbing through that paper and i see my picture on the front page of one of one of the sections and i began to read the article and with each paragraph that i read that morning for the first time in several days my faceless victims became people these people had a story and their story was ironically that they were in recovery at the time of this crash that they had devoted their lives to helping people get clean and sober uh i remember the the the two women who passed away they would watch women’s kids so that they could attend aan n a meetings they volunteered at volunteers of america they volunteered with mothers against drunk driving if you can imagine that so when this crash happened i mean the community was crushed i mean the community was the recovery community they had two pillars who had devoted their lives to this service were now taken away and so the columnist had highlighted all these these these these ironic uh points and then he concluded with a statement that changed my life forever he said quote perhaps the person they will have ended up helping the most is the man who’s charged with killing them end quote and even though i’m 24 years old i know i’m i know i’m looking at about 20 years in prison so i couldn’t fully grasp the value in what he had just said but it was so profound that i was determined to figure out what those words were supposed to mean for my life going forward so like i spent the next six or seven months literally meditating on that phrase you know hearing it just over and over and over in my head and then it came to me you know it didn’t come from some vivid dream or you know some thunderous voice from the heavens or anything like that but you know just the the firm conviction that the only way this tragedy will not be in vain is if i carry on these people’s legacies right if i devote the rest of my life to do everything i possibly can to ensure that something like this never happens again so that no other family has to feel this utter devastation so in that moment you know i vowed to do that i didn’t know what that was going to look like over the next however many years i would go to prison at that point i didn’t know but i knew that i was committed to that cause and so fast forward to go into the the the part of guilt and shame for the first three years of my incarceration um i’m trying to you know set myself on this mission of you know learning everything i could about my own addiction so that i could help other people right so i’m taking these i’m taking one community college course at a time which is what they offered at the prison and i’m you know getting some some momentum in that regard but i still feel stuck right i don’t feel like there’s a lot of internal work going on and i realized what it was was that utter shame i think guilt and shame are different right guilt is guilt is a healthy thing when we do something wrong we feel badly about it it should lead us to not do the same thing shame is more of like an overarching dark cloud that you can’t escape right it is a character assassination i am terrible i am not worthy i don’t deserve i right it’s just these character um you know uh assassinations that they keep you stuck right there’s no there’s nothing healthy in my mind anyway about shame there is when it comes to guilt because it’s more short-lived and there’s a behavior corrector right it’s used to correct the behavior so i was wallowing in shame and i felt i thought at least that that was that was my way of kind of honoring my victims because i refused to ever forget about what happened and when i say that every december for the entire month of december i would relive that entire day every day for all 31 days from the moment i woke up and kissed my girlfriend goodbye to the the moment i was in that police cruiser headed for downtown i relived that day and it it had me depressed i was not working out like i normally would throughout the throughout the year um i wasn’t going down to eat the meals in the chow hall i would sit on my bunk and eat a ramen soup or something just to have some nourishment i wasn’t my you know regular kind of you know gregarious self and i felt that that’s you know that was necessary for me to you know show my victims or i don’t know show myself that i was never going to forget this that i that it was this was my kind of my burden to bear but really what i realized and it took three years for me to realize this was that all i was doing preventing all of my energy to go into this mission that i swore i would do i mean i stood up at the at the sentencing and addressed the media and the members from the mad community the friends and family of my victims that this would be my cause for the rest of my life and i realized that i wasn’t fully honoring that because the energy that i had we only get so much energy in a day i was choosing it was a choice i was choosing to waste it on this you know pity party this you know just miserable state that was not allowing me to throw myself into this this cause and this purpose like i said i would do so once i once i understood that then you know it kind of clicked for me and i i allowed myself to release myself of that and i was able to fully commit myself to this to this cause and this mission and and thank goodness i did because you know it allowed me to get to where i needed to be to to you know really uh to honor them in the way that they deserve i feel like with that that article from the paper and the statement the reporter ended on there we could probably wrap up this podcast and it’s like the most powerful podcast we’ve done period like we don’t even have to do anymore we’re going to do more but i just that was like such a i don’t know i got a little bit of chills from that guilt and shame so i i can’t say that i totally 100 agree with this anymore because i’ve heard some other takes but bernay brown presents them as guilt says i did a bad thing shane says i am bad and those are two very very different concepts and while i don’t know that that’s completely accurate i think it is a really good framework to just kind of begin looking at guilt and shame as as having some different things i i do think there’s times where guilt doesn’t necessarily need to change our behavior like sometimes we just need to feel guilt because we feel guilty because we’re human and that’s how it is and it doesn’t mean we’re doing the wrong thing but also a total a side note and i’m sorry if this is offensive to to oregon persons but oregonian is like the worst word in the world when you said that i was like that word is awful oregonian i don’t know why it’s funny enough i was just in portland like two weeks ago um and i had this vision because you know oregon has decriminalized everything and they’re about to have psilocybin as a therapeutic intervention and i was like man this place is gonna be like utopia and i pulled into portland and holy [  ] that city is rough like i was like wow it’s changed a lot i was i was quite surprised i didn’t recognize my own neighborhood you know 17 and a half years a long time and a lot has changed and not so much for the better i was i was i was taken you know by just the massive amounts of homelessness the homeless camps the trash i mean it is it is it is insane and there is crime that is pervasive and the police seem like they literally do not care it’s great yeah the whole you know the the defund the plea i mean just just just across the board there are you know problems from the you know the the city government uh the state government just across the board and portland is really feeling um you know the brunt of that so i’m sorry did uh it wasn’t a great experience for you i mean it wasn’t a terrible experience although the place we tried to eat which was supposed to be open at four was not open and i was pissed because they looked really good um but that’s a whole other story so yeah we we came down from seattle and we pulled in i was like right on the north side of portland to the hotel we were gonna stay at for the night and we took like the first exit off the freeway into portland and there was tents for the homeless right there on the first exit and i was like oh and honestly i gotta say so we we just did a trip kind of across america and back um homelessness really stuck out to me everywhere i went because i get up early and so i’d go out in the morning to get a coffee and that’s when you know a lot of the homeless seem to be uh pretty active and moving around and everything and i’m like holy [  ] like i this is not what i expected from my us tour was to like just see homelessness everywhere doesn’t it get cold there doesn’t it get pretty cold in portland um well not not terribly cold no it’s it’s more it’s it’s like it won’t get terribly hot although the day that i was released last year on june 28th it was 117. hottest day on record ever and i’m thinking great i mean you know listen i’m not complaining i’m free but oh my goodness um but no normally like the hottest you’re gonna get in the summer is 90 and the coldest you’re gonna get in january or february is probably like 40. oh well then it’s a great place to be home which is that was that was where i was getting out if you’re gonna be homeless why not portland which is is interesting because where portland is it doesn’t it must be like the i don’t know i don’t know why it rains about 300 days a year is what is what happens i mean it it just rains just because well it totally didn’t rain the day i was there so thank god very good this episode has been brought to you in part by voices of hope inc a non-profit recovery organization made up of people in recovery family members and allies together members strive to protect the dignity of those that use drugs and those in recovery by advocating for treatment harm reduction and support resources and mentoring please visit us at www.voicesofhopemaryland.org

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you know you uh express the thing and kind of goes back to that article and that statement of like perhaps the life they changed the most was was yours right i’ve thought a lot of times about like am i doing enough in recovery this that any the other and eventually somewhere along the way the idea came to me like man if you touch and help shift one life isn’t that enough and like the chances are uh and this isn’t like an ego statement or anything but like i’ve probably touched more than one life at this point in my life yeah but i i don’t know like i’ve never so i’ve thought about this idea uh at a time when when my ego felt out of control i was like man i want to pray for humility or less ego but like i’m scared to because what would it take to make me more humble right do i need to end up like in a wheelchair where i can’t run with my kids anymore like what is it really going to take to do that for me and i was terrified of that idea and it kind of like that twisted when you said you know perhaps the life these people changed the most was yours i was like holy [  ] i want to help change people’s lives for the better but at what cost like would i be willing to go through something like that to help change somebody else’s life like that’s i guess when we get into the idea of helping change a life i would never really think oh yeah well i’m willing to go to the likes of giving my own to do that like that’s that’s kind of wild well but aren’t you doing that i mean the i mean just just the the interviews you’re having you’re sharing your life like the most you know intimate parts of your life the parts of your life that you’re not so proud of you’re sharing that with the world and people identify with that that resonates and if if it’s just giving somebody it’s giving somebody a new perspective to think about their own life and what they’re going through if it’s giving them a tool to add to their tool kit to be able to cope with something better so that they can either stay in their recovery or to get into recovery then isn’t that changing lives i mean everybody’s everybody’s low doesn’t have to be right like just this sheer tragedy right everybody’s rock bottom is different rock bottom is when you stop digging that’s your rock bottom right and so and so um everybody’s everybody’s journey and the impact and the ways in which we reach people is going to be different because we are different and diverse as human beings right right and so again it should never be a comparison and again we do that with a lot of things in our society right comparing the jobs and the amount of money and the car we drive and the house we live in and the bank all this stuff is a comparison and it it it takes us from from just you know being within ourselves and being in tune with ourselves and understanding well you know what is my purpose what is my cause how can i have an impact on my world today and the people around me today right this person may be you know affecting you know a million lives and i’m affecting two but guess what we’re we’re both you know essentially doing the same thing by helping humanity right and so as long as everybody is kind of driven by that and not what this person is doing that person is doing what they have without don’t have you know if we can get away from that then we would do ourselves a real service bring fulfillment to our own lives enable us to be the best uh uh humans we can be which you know it just inherently affects those around us in a positive way and so for this this this was my moment to um you know kind of assess a lot of things going on in my life and kind of you know i so i you know delved into my education and i started taking sociology classes and psychology classes and learned a lot about kind of the origins of my addiction uh both the the kind of broader societal effects that that um that played a part but then also the the cognitions and and the psychology and psychosocial development and all of those factors that weighed heavily on me that led me to my addiction and so the more i learned you know i ended up getting a um i got a bachelor’s in sociology uh i got a master’s in psychology i had to pay for all of my education the the the system doesn’t pay for you to go to college anymore like they did in the 90s right so i was i was fortunate well fortunate and unfortunate so i lost my father three years into my sentence and he but he had worked hard his whole life to take care of the family so he had insurance policies he had a pension so i was able to get that money even while incarcerated uh got that money put on my account and i was able to then fund my education so i took courses distance education courses from louisiana state university indiana university nothing is online we don’t have online access to anything in oregon prison so everything was done through the mail and so i wound up with those degrees and then i went into a substance abuse program and um i went through it as a participant first to understand everything about the program and then i was able to intern there this is again within the prison setting and i started to mentor guys and i would lead the groups and i would learn about assessments and you know uh treatment plans and all that good stuff and so i was able to get state certified as a substance abuse counselor a couple years before i was released and so that enabled me to go right into this field upon release meanwhile about six years before my release they started to bring in victims of dui drivers people who had lost loved ones to dui drivers they would bring them into the prison and it would be 50 and mason a circle and they started these dui victim impact panels and i remember one of the guys he was doing life i never met this guy but he approached he approaches me in the hallway and he says hey man he says um you know we’re going to start these dui victim impact panels and i know that that’s why you’re here and i’m thinking how do you i don’t know you how do you know why i’m in prison people have a way of finding out why you’re in prison right so he knew i was in prison for a dui crash and he said you know i’d love for you to come and share your story and i had never you know told my story i never verbalized this thing from beginning to end but i knew that this was happening for a reason right and if i’m gonna be on this mission to honor my victims and try to prevent this from ever happening again then i have to do this as uncomfortable as it is because i you know i was pretty much you know an introvert really didn’t care to get in front of people and and talk about the worst day of my life but if it was going to do some good like you said affect that one person then i was willing to do that and that was the beginning of of this second part of this mission where i speak um in different states some remotely some in person at dui victim impact panels i’ve spoken to kids who have gotten a minor and possession charge so they’re started they’re starting to head down the wrong track i use my story with you know a slight emphasis on some other things to be able to reach them so that they don’t find themselves living this life of addiction and incarceration and and jails and institutions and death right and so um that’s that’s that’s kind of been uh a large part what i’ve done since i’ve been out is continuing with this mission i’m a drug and alcohol counselor and work on a suicide prevention line and i talk to military veterans who struggle with ptsd i talk to seniors who are lonely i talk to youth who are in a crisis and i talk to people struggling with addiction to get them connected with resources so i love what i do i love my job i wake up every day and and i’m i’m literally excited and looking forward to the day right and um and then i i relish the opportunities to speak it at panels uh whenever and wherever i can that is an incredible i don’t want to say finish because you’re not done but just finish to your story or or transition in your story maybe is a better wording for that it really is it’s remarkable i you know i wanted to ask you mentioned a a earlier on in the podcast um did you get into the aaa in prison yes so around 2014 so i still have seven years left um a buddy of mine was going to aaa and you know he’d be talking about these steps you know these 12 steps and you know moral inventory and i mean he like he’s like he lives and breathes hey he had been down like you know 22 years and he’s got a life sentence so he may never go home but he was all about a he’d be on the yard you know with the big book you know talking to guys about aaa and i just like i was like okay this guy has figured it out right this is his cause this is his purpose i was kind of going a different direction in my recovery but this was i mean it was just it was it was intriguing to see somebody so committed to something and you know the way he talked and the way he really understood himself he understood his vulnerabilities he understood that this was a you know a day by day thing that he had to wake up and commit himself to right one day at a time that whole mantra and so i was just curious about it so i just went one day they did um they had volunteers come in every saturday uh from 10 to 11 30 in the morning and they would sit around in this room and if you know um it was a hey and um you know they’re doing this serenity prayer thing and i’m like okay i mean it it sounds like a chance so to speak but it was but it made sense right god grant me the serenity to accept the things i cannot change okay well i wanna i wanna do that because i ruminate on so many things that are out of my control right and how great it would be to not do that to understand what’s in my control what’s not in my control and just grab me the you know a serenity with that and um so i don’t know there were just facets of it that really resonated so once i bought into those different components then i just started going you know almost every week and then once i had done the steps thoroughly and then when i got into the the drug and alcohol program and was mentoring guys then i would work the steps with them right and so and in doing that it reinforced my own recovery and so and that’s the beauty about this work is that you know it’s not that just that you’re helping someone else although that’s a great thing but it also helps us in in turn and it reminds us you know of the daily work that we need to do because even though it’s been you know 18 and a half years you know um uh since drinking i still know in my addicted brain and in my rational brain that i’m literally one drink away from from catastrophe like i know that right um so yes and so since i’ve gotten out and i’m in pennsylvania and so now i gotta find you know a new home group and all that and i just kind of you know took to to google and and found some places around here and so now i i go and and and meet with these guys and you know they’re um you know there’s no minorities in in the group it doesn’t matter to me because you know i mean it could be a group full of minorities and we could have nothing in common so i don’t base everything just on the sheer fact that right these guys are all you know older or white or whatever the case because we all have that common thread of addiction and we all have that common thread of of you know buying into this fellowship and and you know sharing you know who we are and our struggles and and just leaning on each other for support and um and that you know that that’ll translate around the world no matter who you are where you are um as long as you have that for me anyway uh then i feel like i’m in a good place so yeah yeah when you were talking about the mentoring and the speaking what came to mind for me and i don’t say this to like throw shade or take away from anybody who is in a helping you know profession or even just a helper in the world that hasn’t gone through things but i feel like generally the god that sounds terrible to say the best helpers but people identify with people who’ve been through [  ] right and always always have to be the exact same [  ] but it really does carry some weight when you have a very similar background or history and for you to not only do you have this history of the way you grew up but when you mention like the working with veterans and the ptsd and what came to mind for me was like i’ve been in some some car accidents and the experience of a car accident if you’ve never been in it it is this like screeching metal [  ] horrendous death sound going on when you’re in it right it is a traumatic experience for sure and so to have that kind of thing inside of you that has happened to you in your life i feel like it just gives you a way to connect with people who have those experiences right anybody who’s been through an experience that cause ptsd anybody who’s been through an experience of not liking themselves anybody who’s felt that experience which i surely felt of like oh my god this substance makes allows me to talk to people and girls and like be myself like you have that ability to connect with them on a level that i feel like some people are just not gonna have and that’s so authentic and so useful in what we do right and there’ll be so many guys in the program when i was mentoring and counseling them and you know they would they would want it because there was also obviously the the civilian counselors there and you know the guys would tell me they’d be like man like even though this guy is smart like he’s got all the education like he hasn’t been there and that’s why i like talking to you right i prefer i like when you lead our groups because like you’ve been there and so it’s just it’s just you know people identify and they want to know that you can really empathize with their pain right not just sympathize oh i’m so sorry you had to go through that but like i really know what it felt you know for you to go through that because i went through something very similar right people people want you to be able to really feel what they are feeling and so it does it certainly does have its you know advantage and i mean you look at our profession you know as as well over 50 of us have um struggled with addiction ourselves right and so when people get clean and they find what works for them then naturally they would want to give back and give the best way to give back in this field is to uh either become you know a professional or become a volunteer and and do some work uh in that in that way and so it certainly is certainly um it’s not something i would have wished for my life i wish i would have never become an alcoholic i wish i would have had it all figured out you know from day one um but that wasn’t that wasn’t the path that i was i was meant to take apparently and so i’m i’m you know trying to trying to do the best i can to work this program the best way i can and to to you know fulfill the mission that i that i uh set up set out to do all those years ago but again i do it one day at a time and i’ll just say that you know i i was i was worried before i got out i was about six months to release and now i’m really starting to think about the outside world and i was apprehensive in the sense that i thought life would be kind of boring sober if i’m being honest with you yeah because previously all the back to 14 years old i had not been sober out in the free world and so you know but let me just say i’ve been out a little over a year now a year and almost a month and i have lived my best life like i have gone skydiving and surfing and taking a cruise to the bahamas and i’ve been to vegas and dc and you know when saw my oregon ducks play up there in seattle and you know just just just you know traveling and you know doing things i normally wouldn’t do i went rock climbing i mean just you know stuff i had never done before right but it’s creating that same euphoric dopamine driven pleasure that we get from drinking right or using drugs and this korea is creating it naturally and and and i can remember the next day what i did the previous day which is an awesome thing because i you know there were many days where the blackouts took that from me so you know it is a myth and again our addictive brain will try to trick us when we’re getting into you know uh uh recovery will try to trick us and make us believe that life is going to be utterly boring sober right your addicted brain will try to convince you of so many untrue things irrational things because its sole purpose is to keep you drinking right that’s why you have to strengthen your rational brain which is the next day when you wake up and you’re like oh my god what did i do yesterday why did i say why did i do that that’s the part of your brain that you need to strengthen because that’s what’s going to keep you you know kind of on your toes and and and allow you to to counter this ridiculous narrative that your addictive brain will tell you because here’s the thing even you know a lot of people um they found that the number one reason there’s four reasons why four primary reasons why people relapse and the number one reason is negative emotional states we hate to feel pain whether it be grief or stress or worry anxiety we don’t like that and so once we have relied on alcohol to quell that then we make that connection in our brain our addictive brain that this is a remedy for feeling these negative emotional states and so and so that’s going to be kind of your natural default and so you have to then again challenge that with your logical brain that says yes it may take it away temporarily but it’s only going to cause greater problems later right and it doesn’t take away it doesn’t take away the pain it numbs it for a few hours but when you sober up whatever it is you were doing it’s still there right and so we just have to we just have to remind ourselves of that and have people around us to you know hold us accountable and you know you know we need like we nobody can do recovery by themselves in my opinion like this is not done in isolation because the worst place we can be when we’re feeling bad is by ourselves right that’s the worst place we can be as an addict or alcoholic so anyway i i don’t want to you know get too long-winded here um you know but i’ll just i’ll just say that you know there is help out there uh there is 988 for anybody going through an emotional crisis the number is 988 i’m so glad this this happened last saturday nationwide whatever state you’re in you can call somebody and talk to somebody if you’re going through you know a hard period if you’re in recovery not in recovery doesn’t matter um you can have somebody to talk to and they can connect you with mental health and substance use resources in your community there are online resources that are free there are in-person resources uh you know that that are available um insurance-based non-insurance-based self-pay no pay i mean you name it it is out there so please do call 988 people when you need somebody to talk to and the only add-on i would put on to there when you talk about life not being boring in you know recovery or in states without using substances if you are listening to this podcast for whatever reason and you know you’ve tried recovery before and found that you just could not have fun or just could not find joy or maybe you’re there right now right maybe you’re in that place you’re like i want to hold on to to not using these substances i just no matter how long i wait it seems like there’s not this joy coming from just living naturally right seek professional help because there are states of the brain there are chemical problems there are things that go on that lead us to using and it’s possible that there’s some form of help or medicine or talking or therapy or whatever it is that can assist you with that because that’s a real thing right we we do have this problem of connecting to joy or or euphoria without substances and i i just want to throw that in there i i don’t i guess i spent a lot of time thinking uh are feeling the shame of like something’s just wrong with me that i can’t be happy bowling like the guy next to me and for me it took learning that like oh yeah there’s some underlying stuff here that prevents me and i need to address that too one thing i wanted to ask uh because i was you know state property for a period of time it’s not really the environment that like uh sparks conduciveness to like living a positive life and doing good things in your life so how challenging did you find that in that population to kind of take this alternate path and not really be a part of what people were doing in there uh yes you were very right it is not the most wholesome place to you know uh to find yourself turning over a new leaf but you know again during that first year of my incarceration when i was in the county jail not the state prison but when i kind of figured out you know who i wanted to be and the work i wanted to do so i was locked in on that so when i got to state prison i immediately you know got a job as as as a tutor in the education department so i’m helping guys with their ged programs so i was there for like five or six hours a day and then when i would come back i would you know go work out or go jog or you know uh write letters because i got on the pen pal website and that’s how i ended up meeting my fiance she stayed with me for the 16 years the next 16 years and now we live together today right it’s it’s incredible i i’ve been incredibly blessed throughout this throughout this journey but but at any rate so so once i was locked in on this mission and the most important thing i learned through that 17 and a half year sentence as far as doing time the right way at least in oregon i can’t i mean other states are different much more hardcore oregon is not so much although we did have games and riots and all that if people saw that you were consistent in how you did your time then they pretty much left you alone like i i was cool with you know the bloods and the crips and the 18th streeters and like everybody knew me because they saw me as the guy who was a tutor who was working on this college you know stuff and and going to aaa and i was consistent the guys get in trouble when they come in and they may want to start off that way but then they feel like well i need this protection by these guys if something happens i don’t want to be by myself so i’m going to click up with them right but then i’m also going to try to you know go straight over here and when guys see that you’re not consistent then you’re kind of you know you’re kind of left out there blowing in the wind and anything anything can happen at that point and so and it was sad because so many of the young guys coming in were were easily influenced by these older guys of course to you know join this gang click up with this group and you know it was a sad thing to see i was however able to get through to some of those guys when i got in more into the mentor role because the guys would seek me out i’d be on the yard i did a lot of time by myself because i didn’t want to i didn’t want people to get the wrong idea if i’m you know working out with this group over here or hanging out with this group over there so i would be walking around the track or jogging around the track and a young guy that i’ve i would work with up in the education department would seek me out and they would just start talking to me about non-prison stuff right because he felt that it was a safe space because he saw that i wasn’t like a lot of the other guys i didn’t walk around with you know my chest you know puffed out and you know trying to be mr tough guy and so they would start talking to me about life and that would lead into talking about some some pretty heavy stuff you know childhood traumas and and fears and you know why they joined the gang and you know things that they wanted to do when they got out of prison right these these aspirational things that they knew they couldn’t really talk to anybody else about because that would make them weak right that would make them appear weak and vulnerable and so it was a great way for me to really kind of connect with people on a real level and give these guys something else to think about you know uh beyond prison and so i was able to really get through to some people some people not so much but um you know it was it was a great thing for those for those i was able to connect with that’s awesome you know i i want to ask this next question and i i want to preface it by saying it’s kind of hard to ask it without the acknowledgement of minorities and people of color and you know so that that does come into this i i know when people have their own level of responsibility right like you you own what you did in this place sometimes it’s hard to also have space for other aspects of what goes on in our world right so i’m just curious has there been any ability for you to allow space for anger towards our system right and i say that because like i’m picturing like some wealthy individual some lawyer’s son that has this accident that maybe gets probation right maybe he’s white maybe he’s not whatever he’s got money that’s one of the big dividers between us have you had any space for that kind of anger or frustration with our society that like why did i do 17 and a half years when somebody else would no i mean and it’s not to take away from the responsibility because you own that fully i’m just curious what your thoughts on that are that’s a profound question because i did wrestle with that um pretty much throughout my entire sentence and even today now that i’m free i mean that will never leave me in the like out like again i would never want to minimize or seem like i’m you know dismissing um you know the the the magnitude of of what happened two people lost their lives another was permanently disabled right i can never change that and so it’s like then you have to ask yourself well well what what value do we place on that life being taken oregon says 10 years that that life essentially demands a 10-year penalty other states it may be two years some states is probation right so there’s this whole sub subjectivity to that but then for me for me personally i’m looking at the newspaper throughout this sentence and eventually i stopped looking at it because i would feel um you know that anger would come up when i would see this very thing had happened to somebody else who was of a different social economic background racial makeup whatever the case and it would be a severely less penalty you know there was and i’ll tell you there was there was you know to juxtapose my situation um on january 4th so four days later there was a dui crash in portland committed by a 28 year old white woman never been in trouble she hit a mother and her 10 year old son in a crosswalk she was intoxicated she was at .08 so she was right at the legal the legal limit and she didn’t take accountability the whole time she you know refused to say it was it was her fault so she was in a road rage incident somebody was chasing her and she was trying to get away but she was intoxicated to begin with let’s just start there so see what the trial she wants to get off this thing completely she gets found guilty of not manslaughter in the first degree but manslaughter in the second degree which required a mandatory minimum of six years three months in prison but she’s got two of them so the judge instead of running everything consecutive so it’d be over you know 12 and a half to 12 and a half years the judge runs everything concurrent she gets a total six years three months and she is devastated she’s oh my god i can’t believe this happened to me this is so you know unjust and i’m just like are you kidding me right now like i’m in prison for three times that amount of time i took full responsibility i’ve never tried to skirt you know uh uh uh you know accountability and and it’s just it it blew my mind and you know there were so many other cases of you know older prominent people in the community this would happen they would kill somebody drunk and they would get two years probation or they would get you know a year in in county jail or something like that and so i just had to stop i had to stop um uh you know watching those news stories and reading about those things because of course i can say that you know although i needed to be in prison for what i had done there’s no there’s no doubt about it but the disparities in the in the way that we charge the way that we sentence um you know uh minorities in this country not just oregon but in this country is atrocious it is atrocious and not only are you locking people up at this you know disproportionate rate with these you know very lengthy sentences you’re not providing much in the way of rehabilitation the only reason why i was able to get my degrees and get certified is because my dad left me money when he passed away to pay for it otherwise i would have released from prison with the ged and i’m not saying that’s i mean that’s that’s something right but let’s be honest like how far is that going to get you in this world today right i mean it’s just it’s just sad so it’s just you know it’s it’s a twofold you know uh uh atrocity that we lock people up throw away the key and then do nothing to rehabilitate them how was that a a a winning residue i’m actually mad right now because my charges uh back in the days of of checkbooks you know before we don’t have them anymore people don’t know what they are but back in the days of checkbooks i sold somebody’s checkbook and wrote two checks to myself for a total of ninety dollars and i did six years and i’m like damn this lady killed people six years three months wow yeah our system is messed up and and you know to even speak a little further to what you were saying because i only only had six years i didn’t qualify to get into any of the like trade programs or anything you had to have like 20 or more to get into something like that so it’s like oh well we’ll take people who we could possibly have lesser charges and and rehabilitate them and give them something but they are not going to qualify to actually have a life when they go home because you need to be here longer to be on the waiting list for that [  ] 100 and it was the same thing you know we know that 80 percent of people across the united states who are incarcerated have some issue with drugs and or alcohol whether it be they’re addicted whether it be they’re you know selling it whether it be they’re committing a crime to get the money to buy it whatever 80 and in oregon in oregon at least and i would imagine this is replicated across many states but only about five percent of the population had access to a drug and alcohol uh program five percent and again it’s that whole thing if you have more than three years on your sentence you’re not eligible because they only wanted to give those who had three years or less that program if you were lucky enough to go to a prison that actually had it because they’re thinking well you’re going to be out in a few years so we want to get you some treatment but what about the guy who still has you know who’s doing 10 years and he wants to start working on himself right right and he when he gets down to three years he may not be lucky enough to transfer to one of these prisons that has the program and so we spend so much money incarcerating people and not enough money uh actually rehabilitating them and getting them the help that they need to address the underlying issues of why they’re incarcerated in the first place yes i feel like now i need to find somebody to that knows all the facts and numbers to come on so we can do an episode about the state of our prison systems across the u.s because it’s atrocious it really is maybe that’s where my hopes for oregon go like they’ve decriminalized all these things they’re really looking progressive on that note and maybe just at this point in time when i arrived there maybe it does look like a [  ] disaster but maybe in 20 years when the money from the prison system starts going into these programs that actually help people because it’s not a criminal act anymore it’s a struggle right maybe that money does get reallocated and maybe things do turn around and maybe in 20 years i go to portland and i’m like holy [  ] this is what i thought i was going to see 20 years ago it just takes time so i can actually speak to that so when they decriminalized um small amounts of methamphetamine and heroin and cocaine and things like that what happens is these people go to court and then the judge tells them to call me so i actually work on the it’s called the telephone addiction recovery center line and these people have to call me or one of my few colleagues there’s like six of us in the state that do it and we perform a screening with them a drug and alcohol screening so we ask them a series of questions about their addiction and things like that and a lot of people will call and they just want to they just want to get through the screening get the certificate of completion go to court get their fine dropped right but you know what happens is by and large is that i’m able to have a conversation with them because even if they’re in you know pre-contemplation when we have the stages of change and pre-contemplation you’re not even thinking about it you know so on and so forth so even if they’re in pre-contemplation i can still kind of plant that seed about where there might be a problem here so i’m not saying you have to get into treatment today but let me give you some resources let me text you some resources in your community or online whichever you’re more comfortable with so that they they will be there if the day comes where you where you want some help and so i’m able to offer people resources and just talk to them and plant that see some people were more in uh contemplation or preparation that’s a great thing because now i can get them connected with uh substance use and mental health resources but yeah that’s um there hasn’t been and i’ll say that the the so there’s there’s some big things happening on that front right now so the oregon legislature did pass um like 270 something million dollars to go into this big infrastructure in every community where these behavioral health uh networks are gonna kind of you know work in tandem to be able to get people who call us when we refer them to places then they will like if they need housing for a few days if they need you know the treatment if they need social services whatever it is we can directly be able to see what’s available in their community through this whole system and you know uh then we’ll like do a a warm transfer you know to get them connected and they’ll take it from there and so that um that is just kind of coming online if you will uh every county has to apply for a grant and some of them have been approved already so now they’re kind of getting their framework together to be able to actually go live with this but that that should be happening hopefully before the end of the year so it’s been a slow rollout and there’s been some criticism in the newspapers and things like that that you know this whole decriminalization is just not working because people aren’t getting into treatment like we we hoped they would but i would suspect that a year from now uh you would definitely see some movement on that in in in a good direction so i’m excited about that and to be a part of that yeah that is hopeful i mean uh and and you know i wish i could remember facts and figures way better but one of those nordic countries over there invested a lot of money heavily in the youth um to try to curb their issue that was going on i think with alcohol at the time and it took 20 years to really start to see the root not to start to see but to see like final research driven results like this worked holy [  ] and so sometimes it does take time um speaking of time we are running short on time jenny is there anything you wanted to add i feel like you’ve been so quiet oh i knew i would be quiet too because i just martin’s story is so fascinating intriguing inspiring i i just wanted to hear that i think i think our audience just wants to hear that too not me but i um how can our audience hear more martin locket what’s what’s going on with your life what’s your future so yeah so there’s martinlocket.com i post a lot on on instagram at martin l locket and um you know i’m i’m so i’m i’m working now here with pennsylvania because all my roots are kind of in oregon and i’m pretty established there and i do stuff through them remotely and whatnot every month but i’m looking to get set up here in pennsylvania to start speaking in the schools when the schools come back i’ve been reaching out to school boards and superintendents they seem to be uh somewhat interested i have reached out to all the state police departments to be a part of their dui training when they’re training new cadets and things like that i’ve gotten a couple good responses and um and then i’m going to be working with some of the counties uh the the the district attorneys here who run the driver safety programs and so i’m gonna gonna be meeting with them here hopefully the next couple weeks to um get the 2023 calendar uh going where i’ll be you know set to speak at some of their classes and so just looking to build a presence here in pennsylvania and uh we’ll still do you know some things obviously in oregon that’ll always be kind of my home base but um yeah martinlocket.com and and martin lock it on instagram to kind of see what i got going on that’s awesome martin is there anything else that you wanted to share with us today that we didn’t ask or didn’t address uh no i would just i would just uh you know say for you guys to keep doing what you’re doing this is so incredibly important the work that you guys do and delivering messages from all walks of life uh but that all have a common thread when it comes to this disease of addiction and so you know we’re all in this together right we’re all in community when it comes to this no matter where you are on this vast planet um you know we are we are uh doing this together and so please um you know do reach out for help again 988 is there or you know whatever you have in your state and um and let’s just continue to do this together and be there for one another so thank you guys for what you do it was an honor to be here and um yeah i just i i’m just really grateful man it was so great to have you on thank you thank you for doing what you do thank you for really picking up the torch and and having the fire inside to just uh to really shine that light into some of the darker places in our country and in our world thank you so much and and hopefully this isn’t the last time we uh we talk to you martin indeed thank you all right have a good day man

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