Origins

LISTEN TO BOOKER TELL HIS STORY OF ADDICTION RECOVERY

I’m Booker. I’m 44 years old and I’ve been Sober a little over 6 years. I am a complete failure in every aspect of my life. I was unemployable. I was homeless, facing another trip back to the penitentiary. Yeah, it was bad. It was bad. Trouble was coming. When I hit the scene, people dispersed. I was in complete acceptance of what my life was gonna look like. Well, I’m going to create wreckage. 

 

I’m gonna go back to the penitentiary. I’ve been in prison three times. So basically, from 1999 to 2010-11, I was incarcerated. In intervals, I’ll get out for nine months, all directly related to drugs and alcohol to direct correlation. And I was in acceptance that this is my life, I’m going to create wreckage, and I’m going to go back, and I’m going to be a useless member of society. And I’m a failure. 

 

And that’s just what it is. And it was all a direct correlation to drugs and alcohol. My buddy allows us to turn and the first time I heard him speak, there’s one of the things that caught my eye when he said “I was out of the hustle, completely out of the hustle.” And I just asked for help, like for the first time a buddy that I used to run the streets with when I got Sober. And his life looked a lot different than mine at that time, and I asked him for help. And I was facing another case. 

 

I was going… I was on my way back to prison for the fourth time, category three felon, that’s nine and a quarter. This is entry-level. That’s the minimum amount of time I was going… I was looking at it. Just to give you a cliff note or what the last few days look like for me. Is that… Okay, I’m from Michigan and my mom came to town. And I tell the story almost every time I pitch and when she came to town, I was a highly recognizable man. I’m 60 years Sober. 175 pounds. 

 

At this time, you want to knock off 30 pounds easily. I’m not a vision for you like Erica says all the time. So what happened was and this was like a pivotal turning point for me, man. This is when I knew that I was a bonafide dirtbag. When my mom came to town. I’m sleeping in my ex-girlfriend’s garage, in a Hello Kitty sleeping bag that I borrowed from my daughter that Christmas before that, this is March of 2014. And what wound up happening was when mom came to town, she asked me to get her luggage out of the car when she pulled it up. 

 

And when I stood up, and we made eye contact, her lips started quivering. And as I’m walking, I’m shameful at this point. As I’m walking towards her past her, I intend to walk past her and get the luggage out of the car. She blocks me off and hugs me. And I can hear her crying on my shoulders. And I want a hug and let go.  She’s my mom, the lady that raised me. Little backstory. I’m an honor student. Pretty decent athlete. Private School 12 years. I came from pretty decent… not a silver spoon, but a bronze…  what I’m getting at is that life was good for me. 

 

And it was sacrifices being made by my parents to have that kind of lifestyle. And this is how I turned out. So she started running down the sacrificial resume of all of the things that took place and here I am right now. Modified dirtbag. And honestly man I couldn’t understand or I couldn’t even comprehend or I didn’t want to listen to anything that she had to say. Basically what she was talking about was Gibberish. It was going aerodynamically around my head. Because I was focused on her purse. I did the math, my mom just flew 1900 miles, some $100 bills, credit cards in a purse. 

 

And that was my mission while she was there. Yeah, that’s looking back. Yeah, that’s bonafide dirtbag status. So a few days later, when she gets ready to leave, we’re at the airport. And like any self-respecting drug addict well we tried to turn her for some more money. “Hey, thank you for coming and she just cut into me. She cut into me. She said, “I know you’ve been in my purse.” And I had an ankle monitor on at the time. And I didn’t want her to know that I was going back to prison. I was released to pretrial services at my ex-girlfriend’s house.

 

I tried to hide it from her. But you got to plug the box in the beeping noise. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. So anyway, the longest short is that she cut into me man and she told me that she’s like “Your dirtbag.” I’m using the term dirtbag loosely because she said some other things in an airport terminal. And she’s like, “I don’t want to have anything to do with you. 

 

And you deserve to go back to prison because at least I know you’re Okay When you’re in there.” She’s like, “I love you; you need to get some help.” But I’m pretty sure the next time I come here is going to identify your body. She got on an airplane. And I hopped into his girlfriend’s car. Because I wanted to forget about that experience. It was March 20 of 2014. 

And by God’s grace, I haven’t had a drink or drug since. And the funny thing about it was that I had done stuff a million times worse than that to my family, my loved ones to society. 

For that one experience, to make me…. not make me but to ask for help to come to a realization, something needs to change, help look life for me. Initially, self-willpower, self-knowledge, the whole I can do this. I’m not going to do anything. And I didn’t know anything about the threefold disease that I suffer from the mind, body, spirit, no none about that. I just knew that I could. I can just quit. And I was miserable. I detoxed. I would wake up drenched, the middle of the session was on me. 

 

And I didn’t know anything about any of these words or terms of how they apply to my life. But I was miserable. And a few days… about a week and a half later. I’m still in the same environment. I’m just, we could have later I was at a park, Chavez Park 35th Avenue in the baseline. And I was with some friends, and they were drinking, smoking, the music was planned to dominoes, shooting dice, with impunity. And I sat there and I was in something said, “Hey, man, you don’t need to be here.” And I got up and I just left. I didn’t even say bye to anybody. 

 

And I caught a buddy that was in the program of recovery. And we got the ball rolling. I checked into this place in Sunnyslope, good old Sunny Slope, Arizona. And when I got there, there were some rules to be applied for me to stay there. And I didn’t follow any of those rules. I didn’t know anything about these 12-steps for recovery. And they got to talking about the requirements as far as going to meetings and getting a sponsor, and I didn’t know what any of that was, I just want to go lay down, we get when we come up. 

 

When we come in the rain, we want to lay it out for a little while. And I didn’t do anything while I was there. I was miserable. And the only thing going for me is that I had a place to stay. And I stayed there a little bit over a week. And this part of my story always gives me goosebumps. I was getting ready to leave. It was a Saturday. I never forget it was a Saturday night in the house meeting was on Sunday morning. And I know I’m getting kicked out because I haven’t done anything here. 

 

I don’t have any money. I haven’t been looking for a job I’ve been leaving. I’ve been signing out, faking my slip. Just doing, doing what I know how to do, which is self-preservation selfishness. And as I’m leaving this place, there’s a meeting coming up every Saturday, every night at 7 PM Somebody will come in and share their stories and I never listened to those stories. And on a Saturday this guy named Milton walked in. And I’m so closed off and Milton, being quite frankly, looked like me if that makes any sense. So that was a 33% chance of me remotely listening to what this dude had to say. Because I’m blocked off at this point. I’m full of fear. 

 

I got an ankle monitor. Life is happening and I don’t, I’m not participating if that makes any sense. But something happened before that meeting. He came up to me and he stopped Talking to me. And he saw angst on me. He likes “What’s going on man? How are you doing?” I’m paraphrasing this has been years. I don’t know how to exact dialogue went. And I remember telling him, “I’m going to circle K”, it was a Circle K on 11th Avenue and I was… I’m going to circle K to get a polar pop. And this man had a cooler in the bed of his truck with sodas and waters in it. 

 

He was like, “Nah, I got something to drink right here. Let’s talk for a minute. I’m like, “What?” I’m like, “Who rides around with drinks?” No. So anyway, long what I’m getting at is that he talked to me for a few minutes. And I didn’t, I felt uncomfortable for lack of a better word. But what he was doing was exemplifying a little altruism. Little absence of profit motive. He was just generally concerned about me, and I felt uncomfortable. So he asked me to stick around. He was going to speak at the meeting that night. And I’m like, “Okay”, so I’m sitting there. 

 

And I’ll never forget this, I pulled my phone out. My prepaid phone and I’m playing the snake game. Because I’m not gonna listen to what this dude getting ready to talk about. And something happened in five minutes in his story, I put my phone down. And about 10 to 15 minutes into his story, my undivided attention. Because he was telling my story. And it was an amazing man. And something happened. I asked him to sponsor me. He gave me some instructions. 

 

And I being manipulative. I just needed him to sign my meeting slip for the House meeting the following morning. So I said, “Okay, so I will Have my meeting slip”, that way, I can show the management, “Hey, I’m doing something look.” So Sunday morning, they at this particular place, they have a house meeting at 8 PM. And you are required to be there. I saw up about 804,805.

 

 And they kicked me out. So at this point, my mind is telling me that… my mind is telling me that recovery doesn’t work. Look what I’m doing. And I’m not getting any instant results because I like instant results. So my mind tells me, I need to call the ex-girlfriend and see if I can move back over there. Because mind you’ll have an ankle monitor on so I have to be somewhere stable. And then my second thought was “Why don’t I call that man I asked to sponsor me last night.” So I called him. 

 

He answered the phone and he gave me some instructions. This was a Sunday, he said, “Hey, there’s a place called the “Solutions.” And there’s a 6 o’clock meeting there tonight. I need you to be there. “Are you going to be right by then?” And I’m like, “Yeah, okay.” But I’m kicked out of this place. He was like, “We’ll figure that out. Meet me at the 6 o’clock meeting.” Are you going to be okay until 6 o’clock? “I’m not sure.”  All right. So eventually I got to the “Solutions”. 

 

And when I walk in this place, I get there a little early, like 5:50 AM. I got a blue bag with an adapter for the ankle monitor. I will never forget some magazines and some dirty underwear. And when I walk into this meeting hall, I’m extremely intimidated because there are about 100 people in here. And people are in their chest-bumping and high fiving and hugging and having a good time. And I’m like “What is going on here?” And something happened. I sat Wait, I’ll never forget, I sat in the back by the kitchen door with my bag, way in the back. 

 

When he started reading and passing out chips and a man, I got a seven-year chip. Seven years! seven years of what? And then a woman got a nine-year chip. I’m like “No way man.” “Nobody stays sober that long?” “Nine years! Whole years. Stop it” like this is no. But something happened that day, man. Eliza was speaking that day. 

 

And I didn’t know him at the time. But what I do recognize is that when he said his sobriety day, he had a little bit over a year, year, and a half at the time. And that planted a little hope for me because I couldn’t understand how somebody can get nine years or seven years but this man had a year and a half. He was 10 years younger than me.

 

And he planted a little hope I was like “Maybe that might be attainable.” That year and a half, that’s obtainable, if he can do it and I heard a story, I’m like, “maybe I can give it a shot.” Because when you knew 45 days, that guy’s a guru, he’s a master or whatever. And after the meeting, I went to the office. Mike Stone and Tommy Troy were in office and Solutions. And they said “Okay, so is such and such here to stay here a week, would you need to get a job and you can do all of these things. 

 

Do you have any money?” I’m like, “No, I don’t have any money.” I said, “My sponsor told me to come here.” “Who’s your sponsor?” Mike Stone. I said, “His name is Milton.” He said, “Oh!” So Mike Stone gets up goes to the office talks to Tommy Troy for about five minutes. And then the phone rings. Unbeknownst to me, is Milton Calling up there? And he vouched for me. So they already got two weeks… this… “these are the requirements well…” I’m like “Okay.” Two days later, he comes up here and we get busy doing some work. And I fully figured out and understand any of this… How is, doing this will work? Going to change my life, how’s this work gonna stop me from not going to prison or being a human being. And the first thing that we did was read a specific part in the book on page 52 of this particular book. 

 

And I was able to relate I was able to… that’s how I was feeling at the time. And he asked me, he said, “I want you to use this particular segment as a benchmark throughout your recovery if you decide to stay sober emotionally”, and he said “Emotionally!”, I never forget that. And I’m like, “What are you talking about emotionally?” In my mind and say, I said, “Okay”, but I’m like, Dude, “I’m trying to keep a pill on my body or some drink off my lip” or six years later, I know exactly what he’s talking about. He’s preparing me for now. For life now. In the long-short is the man we I went through the work. And that June, I went to court. And all while I was at Solutions, the first 90 days leading up to me going to court.

 

I will go to work. And I will be on time to do tasks and drop these claims anyways. And then I got into school at South Mountain Community College and I had a job working at a steelyard on 19th Avenue in Buckeye. And I was required to go to seven meetings in seven days. And certainly, some of those means had to be outside meetings. I was required to keep my room clean, or my portion of the room clean, I had a chore. And what I realized is that my life got busy. And it was preparing me for something. I did not have a car, didn’t have a license, did not have anything. 

 

But I would get to these places on time via the bus and it taught me how to plan my day out because my day was 15 minutes…. 20 minutes, I need to be somewhere else on time. There was a curfew there etc. And that June 9th, I went to court for sentencing. And I was through my steps by that time in 90 days. And I was in total acceptance of what was going to happen in that courtroom, total acceptance. 

You guys give me a new map to look at. And this map talks about freedom and peace and serenity. Oh, I thought I had that over here. But based on my life experience before I came here that was false. But it was the only map I knew.  So I came here and you guys gave me a new map and I’m grateful for that.

And I went to court. I was the last case called in the morning docket and the judge asked me “Can I come back in one minute” “Yeah, I wouldn’t say no [Chuckles].” “Do I have a choice here?” And something happened. I was the first case called at 1 o’clock and the judge looked at my records and what I was doing and something. She said that “I don’t think sending you back to prison is gonna do you any good at this point. You look like you got a good start going.” “Have you ever heard of drug court probation?” And I’m like, “No! but my ears pop. No, what’s that, you got me intrigued.” 

And so basically, she ran it down and she was like I’m gonna send you to three years of drug court. If you violate one time, we’re going to bring your OP back. And I was accredited to me going to the task having a job The Solutions had written me a letter, my sponsor wrote me a letter. And I got three years of drug court.

 And something happened when I left the courtroom. I was excited. I called my mom. I haven’t talked to my mom in about four months at this point, because she told me “Don’t call her” and when I would try to call her, she wouldn’t answer. And I left her a voicemail like “Mom, just to let you know, I got probation, I’m not going to jail. I love you.” And then I called Milton and told him, “Yeah, I got drug court.” And I was excited. And I’ll never forget this man. 

I was in 4th Avenue, 6th Avenue, and Jackson, the fourth floor, in the bathroom using the bathroom and I looked in the mirror, and I started crying uncontrollably. And from that moment, I had entered into an unwavering covenant with my higher power to just do this. Because I never got that kind of favor before ever, ever, ever.  And I went to drug court and I got off a year early. It was never late. I’m fighting back tears right now. 

Interviewer:  

Me too.

Booker Boynton:  

9 years and a quarter sentence, I’m six and a half years Sober you’re not supposed to know me.

Interviewer:  

Right

Booker Boynton:  

Unless you take a meeting to the jails. And it’s just crazy man just thinking how that plays ain’t my life. And it blows me away. It blows me away because that plays with the umbilical cord of my sobriety. And I moved out of there for four and a half months. And I moved right down the street because my sponsor told me you need to stay within a mile of this place. And that place, I stayed… and I stayed in the apartment across the canal for my first three and a half years of sobriety. 

And that place saved my life because when it got dark, I could go down the street alone and catch a meeting. I can go get a meal. I can work with sponsors. I can fellowship and I’ve created some relationships as a direct result of being in the Solutions that… I just… I just can’t believe I’m at a loss for words, man.

I’m at a loss for words. So, 5A, Solutions. New Solutions are frequent, all of them to this day Solutions are not there anymore. But I go to Hope House. And I go to new Solutions often. When I leave here, I got a bag of clothes and dropped off into Solution. And life started happening man. 

Funny story, man. After two meetings, I was a year and a half sober after a meeting and I was in between jobs. I was working with…. Trevor at the Sun track at DeSoto company. And we had gotten laid off and I was in between jobs. And I’m sitting at the dinner table after dinner behind… after Razor’s Edge one night. And I’m sitting next to my sponsor, and another buddy of ours… and my buddy that owns the car lot. Donald, he tells my sponsor, he says just talking over me like “I need somebody to detail some cars, man, I need somebody to start washing these cars because I can’t catch up with my guy. No more.” To come to do a lot of washes. 

And I’m sitting there and I don’t have a job. Not to wash the car. I mean, how hard could that be? I mean, so I spoke up. I say “Hey, man, I know how to wash cars.” And Donald said, “Oh, yeah, come on down to the office tomorrow and we will talk and… so I go down there and I’m not in longest, the longest shortest. I’ll work for Donald for nine months. And we’ll wind up happening if I find something that I like to do more than just washing the car. Surprisingly, I was intrigued by it and he gave me a sense of purpose. So I worked for him for nine months. 

And what that looks like is that I’ve been bad. I’ve had my Business now for the last four years. And all that stemmed from just being at dinner with no money, my sponsor is paying for me.  And a buddy, another buddy of mine, always says that “Coincidence is just God’s way of staying anonymous and things.” And I got a good life as a direct result of grace. I don’t know if it’s being at the right place at the right time, but just being at the place, being present. 

And it’s an I mean, I’m today in my life full of gratitude. Today, I know exactly what my sponsor was talking about the first time we sat down, as far as emotion, because I’m as physically sober as I’m going to ever be whenever I’m ever to pass my first UA physically. And today, I have to be mindful of the other aspects of my life. Because the top layer that I end the low-hanging fruits, beaten dreading, I don’t think about that anymore. I cut through the grocery store, the beer and wine to get to the donuts in the morning, and don’t even really physically think about what I’m doing anymore. 

And so that’s all by God’s grace. But the emotional aspect is how do I treat people? How am I treating my dog? How am I treating my neighbors? How am I treating my fellow man? And honestly, I do struggle with that sometimes, just being a human being. But the good thing is I’ve developed a conscious and mindfulness of it. And as a direct result of doing this deal, I’m able to take corrective measures when I do create records. Because before I didn’t care about who I heard, or how I heard him or whatever. Mom is good. We’re in a good place. 

Matter of fact, I’m going home next Thursday, her birthday is next Friday. And she doesn’t have to press five on a prison phone anymore. And she’s no… I’m not eventually set her up to send me some money or that relationship has been repaired. And I owe that to “5A” and recovery you know, by seeing other guys before I take the same steps that were necessary to make that happen. So I got… I got luxury problems today. I got good, I got a good life, got a good life. But I do not doubt that that can be quickly eradicated if I don’t do things like this, like show up.

And be honest with my circle. And one thing I’ve developed and one of the most important things I develop outside of development, relationship with God is that I’ve developed this ability to tell myself, when I see you, “How are you doing?” I’ve never I don’t think we have ever… “Oh, I am fine.”  

We kept going even in passing and we don’t see each other often. But when we do talk, it’s to Connect. Oh, this is what’s going on, etc… etc. And we do not get freedom from that today. And that’s amazing. To sum it up, man, I’m pretty sure you can relate and all of us can relate. I had this map. It was full of faucets. It was full of faucets. And what it did led me to some dark places. 

And I come here, I surrender. And you guys give me a new map to look at. And this map talks about freedom and peace and serenity. Oh, I thought I had that over here. But based on my life experience before I came here that was false. But it was the only map I knew.  So I came here and you guys gave me a new map and I’m grateful for that. That’s great. That’s a great man. 

Because I don’t deserve it but by doing the work, I do deserve it if that makes any sense. So I’m grateful. Thank You. I love you. I love this place; I love what you guys are doing.  The 5A, the Solutions, Hope House, new Solutions. I’ll never be able to repay that, that debt.

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