Monthly Archives: January 2014

Lost Cause

I heard a quote earlier today in a group therapy session I attended.  It went something like this: “The best thing in life is to accomplish something that people said you couldn’t do.”  That is very true, well some of it.  It isn’t necessarily the “best” thing in life, but it sure does feel great to do something that people said you couldn’t do.  With the help of God, I did something that many people thought I could never do.  I got sober.  I am in recovery from a heroin addiction.

I was labeled a junkie; a criminal; a drug addict; someone that would never quit; a lost cause; and even said by my judge: an “animal” and a person that will be in and out of prison my whole life.  For a long time I believed every single one of those labels.  After a while of repeatedly hearing a lot of different people call you the same name, it starts to engrave in your mind and you start to believe it.  I started to believe that I would never be able to quit using heroin.  “Loser” became a name I repeated in my mind a lot.  I used to always say, “Well, if I’m not a loser then there is no such thing as a loser.”  The only time I felt normal or felt love towards myself was when I was high on heroin.  Heroin was my self-esteem boost, my courage, my love, my ability to create conversation and a lot of other emotions I could not feel without my dope.  I now know that a lot of those feelings I thought I felt when I was high were not real.  Having to shoot up heroin to love yourself cannot be real love.  I mean, that’s insanity, right?  How can you stick a needle in your arm and claim to love yourself?  The point is, “heroin addict” and “loser” became my labels and I thought I would never quit because I believed that being high was the only way for me to function.

I know today that I was not a lost cause.  My judge was wrong.  I have not been back to jail since he said those nasty words to me during my sentencing.  That was the last jail sentence I ever received.  I am clean today.  I am starting to love myself today-without drugs.  I am not a loser today.

This blog is not meant to try to prove to the world that people were wrong, or to act like I am better than the people who once labeled me, or to get back at anybody.  I am writing this to show the power of God.  There are no labels in the eyes of God.  He is stronger than any human can even imagine and can perform miracles-miracles that us humans would think were not possible.  Even I didn’t believe it was possible for me to quit using dope.  I had seen God perform miracles in the lives of others, but I was so addicted and so caught up in the lie that I couldn’t be fixed.  I believed my own labels and the labels others put on me.

I have to say, though, it does feel good to know that I am in recovery and doing things that people said I would never do.  It’s not even like I blame them for thinking I would never change, after all I did a lot of bad things and did drugs for quite a while.  Maybe some of them didn’t think I COULDN’T quit necessarily, but maybe they thought I wouldn’t ever WANT to.  There is a big difference.  I didn’t want to quit for quite a while, and I remember how I used to pray quite often for God to help me get to the point of wanting to quit.  As much as I knew that I was hurting myself and my family, I couldn’t figure out why I still didn’t have a desire to quit.  I think that was because it was the only thing that brought me any type of joy.  I hated life without drugs.  I didn’t want to give up the only thing that I thought gave me some happiness-even if the high only lasted an hour.  I didn’t want to quit, and I used to pray that God would give me that desire, because I knew that without any desire to want to change than I wasn’t going to be able to do it.  I am blessed to say that God answered my prayers.  I finally reached a point where I wanted to live a different life.  I finally gained that desire to change.

God is so powerful.  He can take a person that the world labels a lost cause and turn them into a good person and productive member of society.  I went from a criminal and heroin addict to a youth leader.  I now work with the youth group at New Life Fellowship.  I am in college and working towards a degree that will help me expand New Life Recovery.  I want to be able to offer professional counseling services.  I want to run recovery houses.  I have a lot of goals for this outreach, and I know they are all within reach because God can do anything when we are willing.  I am not a lost cause anymore.  I am now working to help other people who may be labeled like I once was and help them gain hope and find recovery.  I keep what I have by giving it away.  I am taking life one day at a time, and just for today, I am not a lost cause.

Time For Change

As I was looking over my Dad’s blog the other day, editing everything to get it ready to put on the site, I had a great opportunity to reflect on some of my past that he had been writing about.  The same line kept repeating in my mind: the system failed me.  Now, you can look at that a couple of different ways.  One: that it’s obviously a biased statement coming from a recovering addict in hindsight. Two: well, it could be a very true statement.  I like to believe both are true.

Here is a summary of the situation.  I was sentenced to a treatment center by a Circuit Court judge in Ingham County.  I was also given two years of probation.  I was arrested for a Felonious Assault charge that was brought on by me getting caught stealing something that my dope dealer would accept for packs of heroin.  I got snagged at the door of a pharmacy by the store manager.  I panicked and ran away and in the process, accidentally bumped into a citizen with my car that was trying to chase me down to help out.  I was backing up and the guy held onto my car to try to stop me and he fell down.  He wasn’t injured, but they charged me with a Felonious Assault charge.  I believe that was a very harsh and unnecessary charge for the circumstances, but I accept responsibility for what happened that day.

I was ready to quit doing drugs.  I had enough, at least I thought at the time.  I got to the treatment center and I finally stayed and went along with the program.  I was doing a great job.  I was finally confident that I could quit drugs and begin a new life for myself and my newborn daughter.  Things would take a sharp turn, though.  This particular rehab would allow residents to attend 12-Step meetings in the outside world.  A worker form the rehab would go with them, but there was not much supervision at all.  Somebody that was in the rehab that lived around the area arranged for his heroin dealer to meet him at the meeting.  He bought (we were allowed money in the rehab) a decent amount of heroin and brought it back to the facility.  When the group got back, the guy who bought the heroin approached me on the side and showed me the bag and asked if I wanted some.  That’s where my life took another turn for the worst.  I had been in rehab for about 45 days, I was in the process of learning how to live and deal with cravings for the first time in my life, but here I was, a heroin addict, in rehab, with a bag of heroin right in my face.  It is one thing to relapse, to seek out the dope on your own and make a conscious decision to use drugs.  But when an addict is in a rehab facility, still very fragile and emotionally unstable, and is faced with a bag of heroin in person, well that is a very, very hard situation to tackle.

I got high-right in the rehab.  The person that had the dope did it with me and another guy in the same room, but he did too much and overdosed, fell right on his face and turned purple.  I freaked out.  The only thing I knew to do was to run.  I told another guy in the rehab that he should go to the staff about the guy who overdosed to get him help, and then packed my bags and left.  I was so scared.  Not just about the guy who overdosed in front of me, but for myself.  The judge told me when he sent me to rehab that if I appear before him again on a violation that he would not hesitate to give me a long sentence in jail or prison.  I just left the facility.

Let me fast forward.  I eventually got picked back up on the violation of probation for relapsing and leaving the rehab.  The guy who overdosed survived and was sent to prison.  I was sent before the judge for the violations.  The judge showed no remorse, all he did was quickly sentence me to a full 12 months in jail-no good behavior time or anything, just a full 12 months.  So there I was, a drug addict who was finally getting the help he needed, but one mistake cost me a year of my life and another chance at some treatment.

This is what is wrong with our judicial system.  It is scientifically proven that addiction is a disease.  Drug addicts need help-treatment-not jail.  Now sometimes jail or prison is necessary and unavoidable for certain crimes and situations.  But here I was, 19 years old, a heroin addict who had a very severe addiction.  I relapsed one time on heroin that was available in a rehab that the court sent me to, and for that I got a year in jail.  There is something wrong with that picture.  DRUG ADDICTION IS A DISEASE AND IT IS TIME WE START TREATING IT LIKE ONE.  Sending an addict to jail for a year for relapsing is like putting a diabetic in jail for failing to take their insulin.  Relapse is a part of drug addiction.  There is no such thing as a drug addict who has never relapsed.

Let me clear this up and say that I am not trying to make excuses for my actions.  I was the one who decided to inject heroin and take the risk of becoming addicted.  I didn’t set out to become a heroin addict, but I did, and that is nobody else’s fault besides my own.  Nobody tied me up and put a needle in my arm.  Drugs are illegal, and I did some, became addicted and committed crimes that put me in the system, therefore this is my entire fault.  What I am trying to get at, though, is that the court system needs to do a better job of giving to treatment to individuals who need it.  I understand that some crimes need to be punished and that you can’t send every single drug addict to rehab-that’s a lot of money to pay-but there needs to be changes.  Putting a person with a disease in jail with the same people who rape and kill is just not right.  A lot of people have the view that, yes, it is a disease, but it is the addicts fault that they became addicted so they should be in jail.  That is old fashioned and ignorant thinking.  The war on drugs has failed America.  It has costed America billions of dollars and has done NOTHING to stop the drug trade and illegal drug use.  Simply put, locking up drug users has failed.  It crowds prisons, costs the state and federal government millions, even billions of dollars to lock these addicts up, and the rate of drug abuse has not decreased.  In fact, marijuana use is at epidemic numbers, and so is prescription drug and heroin abuse.  The only real thing locking a drug addict up does is cost the state money and prolongs the addicts use.  There is no significant help for an addict in jail, so without treating the person, it just stops the use-until they get out.

So what can we do about this?  That is a question I don’t have too many answers to, but there has to be different alternatives and options to putting addicts in jail.  One idea I have heard is creating facilities for addicts who are arrested where they go that they won’t be treated like dirt at and where there is some treatment available.  Instead of locking them up with murderers, rapists and with inhumane conditions, lock them up in a place where there is help.  Another idea is when an addict is detained by the cops, instead of taking them to jail, take them to somewhere where they can be assessed to see if they do indeed have an addiction, and if they do, have some type of other court oriented program where they can enter instead of just the regular judicial system.  Those are just ideas, and there hasn’t been much thought brought into them on my end.  There is a program called Families Against Narcotics that is trying to bring change to this situation.  They are working with local law enforcement and the judicial system to come up with some better options.  They are also bringing awareness to the community about what is going on and they hold meetings to help addicts and their families.  There needs to be some changes in the system.  It is time to take action.  Locking addicts up is not working.  What do you think about this?  Let me know your thoughts on this topic!  God bless you all!

Heartbreak Hotel

One of Elvis Presley’s early hits well describes the state of my home in the years of Aaron’s addiction: Heartbreak Hotel.  That’s what our house was like.  The hearts of Aaron’s family were breaking, day by day.  We had become a dysfunctional family unit.  “Since my baby left me, I’ve found a new place to dwell.  It’s down at the end of lonely street, called Heartbreak Hotel.  I’ve been so lonely, I’ve been so lonely, I could cry,” the King sang.  And cry we did in our Heartbreak Hotel in rural Mason, Michigan.

Following Aaron’s second arrest in our home in January 2011, he was taken again to the Ingham County Jail, where he remained until February 7th.  On that day, he was given another opportunity, when he was released from the jail on a tether into our custody.  “Custody” implies control and responsibility, but it was clear from that very day that we at “Heartbreak Hotel” had no control over the addiction that was controlling Aaron.  Drug cravings immediately kicked in.  He demanded that we let him leave, in spite of his tether.  Refusing to let him go, he became increasingly agitated, threatened to take his life, and went to his room with a butcher knife.  His older brother David broke down his door in an effort to restrain him, but Aaron had already jumped from his window and fled, on tether.  We called the police, and once again, Aaron was arrested and taken back to jail.

What craziness!  What pain and torment we experienced-as parents, as well as siblings.  Why did we call the police?  Why would we, his loving family, be the ones to initiate his return to such an awful place as the Ingham County Jail?  Because we feared for his very life.  We knew, if nothing else, his life was not in imminent danger there.  At I.C.J. he had no access to heroin.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I must say that Aaron’s mom displayed incredible strength and faith.  Rhonda is truly an amazing woman, a lady of great faith and persistence.  During Aaron’s incarceration at the I.C.J, Rhonda worked diligently to find help for our son.  In her quest for assistance, she became aware of a place called Jellema Treatment Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  J.T.C. provided hope to addicts and their families, and they offered services to people like Aaron, who had criminal records due to drug offenses.  Rhonda informed the probation department of this facility, persistently asking the courts to consider sending Aaron to yet another “rehab” facility in lieu of jail.  We prayed to this end.  On April 18th 2011, we felt our prayers were answered.  The judge agreed to release Aaron from the I.C.J. and have him admitted to Jellema.

Honestly, we weren’t looking to simply get our young son out of jail.  We were trying, to the best of our ability, to get him the help he needed.  And for several weeks it appeared that Aaron was finally getting help for his addiction at J.T.C.  We received good reports from the staff regarding Aaron.  Our weekly visits and counseling sessions went well.  Though J.T.C. was not a secure, lock-down facility, Aaron stayed on his own accord, and we were receiving good reports on him and his recovery.  Though we missed him, tension had eased at the Heartbreak Hotel…

But another bizarre turn of events was about to occur.  It was Memorial Day weekend, and it was a “memorable” one, to say the least.  Due to a storm, we had lost our power, and in late evening Rhonda and I were sitting by candlelight, chatting, on May 31.  Suddenly, her cell phone rang around 10:30 PM.  It was Aaron calling from a strange number, and while I can’t recall exactly what he said in that brief conversation, it amounted to something like, “I’m alright Mom, and I’ll try to make my way back.”  We were confused and alarmed.  I just knew he wasn’t where he was supposed to be.  We didn’t know what to do as we sat, stunned, in the dim living room.  We went to bed in a state of nervousness.  At 2:30 AM, Rhonda received a text from Aaron.  All it said was, “Please pray for me….I think I used too much.”  God spared Aaron that night.  We found out the next day what had happened.

On May 31 2011, a van full of residents from the rehab, of which Aaron was not one, went to a local Narcotics Anonymous meeting.  One of the residents had arranged, somehow, to meet a heroin dealer at the meeting, and purchased the drug there, bringing it back to the rehab facility.  Aaron and another young man were exposed to their greatest weakness, and the three of them shot up.  The man who bought the heroin became unconscious and dropped to the floor.  In a state of panic, Aaron and his fellow resident quickly gathered some of their belongings and fled the rehab.  The other kid, from Ionia, Michigan, was able to call a friend, who came to Grand Rapids and drove them to Ionia, where Aaron spent the night, and nearly died.  He had relapsed-in a rehab facility.

When such violations occur, probation officers are immediately notified, who then inform the judge.  Before sending Aaron to Grand Rapids, the judge had sternly warned Aaron that if he did not complete the program, he would not hesitate to send him back to jail or prison for a long time.  “I don’t want to see you again in my courtroom,” he told him.  “You have run out of chances with me.”

A few days elapsed before Aaron appeared before the judge.  Meanwhile, the staff at J.T.C. offered us some hope.  They viewed this as a relapse, quite common for heroin addicts.  They considered Aaron to be a person they could help, in spite of yet another setback.  He had been doing well in the program, and they made it clear to his probation officer that they were willing to take him back.  This was their recommendation: After serving a jail sentence for his offense, Aaron could be returned for continued treatment.  We were pleased to learn that the probation officer was in agreement, and he said he would propose this to the judge.

On June 8th, Rev. Wes Emerson and wife Rhonda sat in the Ingham County Circuit Court, waiting nervously for our son’s case to be presented to the judge.  We saw other probation violators receive second, third, or fourth chances.  Maybe Aaron would be so fortunate?  Not so.  The probation officer recommended 30 days in jail, followed by a return to the rehab facility which was willing to take him back.  “It is clear that this young man has a problem, and he needs treatment, Your Honor,” the probation officer stated.  It was refreshing to see some P.O’s who truly care.  The judge however, was terse in his response.  “Mr. Emerson, I warned you that I did not want to see you again in this courtroom.  You had your chance, and you did not take advantage of it,” he continued.  “I’m not spending another dime on you.  I hereby sentence you to one year in the Ingham County jail, and your probation is revoked.  You will do the whole year-no good time or time off for anything.  After that, you’re on your own.”  And with that, my 19 year old was hand-cuffed once again, and led away from our presence to where, 10 days later, he would spend his 20th birthday.  Think of it, your 20th birthday spent in jail.  This is what drugs do to people.

Rhonda and I returned to Heartbreak Hotel with a sick feeling that only family members of drug addicts can understand or relate to.  You can’t really understand unless you have been there.  Some of you have been there.  Some of you are there currently.  Some days, we would enter his bedroom in a feeble attempt to feel close to him.  The evening of Aaron’s birthday Rhonda asked if I would take her up to the jail so she could feel near to her boy.  It wasn’t his visitation day.  In fact, it was a weekend night; the parking lot was empty.  There was no one around.  Somewhere inside that cold brick building our son was in a cell, but mom needed to feel close to her child.  And so we sat for a few moments, on a brick bench, outside the jail, saying nothing.  As the tears flowed down our cheeks, we prayed for our son…

I know that the Lord heard our prayers that evening.  We both felt a sense of peace as we returned to our vehicle and drove back to Heartbreak Hotel.  The story doesn’t end here.  Much more would follow.  But God is in the business of healing broken hearts.  He loves you.  He loves your family member who may be currently bound in addiction.  Direct your attention to Him.  Tell Him about your struggles and pain.  He truly cares, and he can see you through.  He would see us through and eventually, the Heartbreak Hotel would become a home again.  Thanks be to God, so too can yours!

I Keep Pushing

The title of this blog-I Keep Pushing-perfectly explains the last month or so of my life.  Let me start out by saying that it has been a GREAT month, but it has also been a drag.  Recovery has opened doors in my life that has enabled me to finally be a relatively busy person.  I am now a sports writer for MasonToday.Com, an online news source for Mason, Michigan.  I am going to be covering high school sports.  I am very excited for this opportunity, because for one-I love sports, and second-I love to write, so what could be a better thing to do than to mesh two of my favorite hobbies together?  I have also helped get a youth activity night started at the church I go to.  I help out with the youth group and it is really growing, so the kids wanted to get an activity night going during the week, since all we had before was just a youth Sunday school class before church.  Then there has been school, of course.  I just recently started my second semester of college.  On top of all that I am a father to a three year old girl.  Anybody that has kids knows what that entails.  I have also been blessed with an amazing girlfriend that I have been spending quite a bit of time with, as well.

All of that added together has created a pretty hectic schedule.  The good part, though, is that every single one of those events/circumstances/responsibilities that I have listed up there is a blessing.  They are all AMAZING things that are happening in my life.  God has blessed me with so much in my recovery and he is continuing to work behind the scenes for my future.  Why, then, has the last couple of weeks seemingly dragged by for myself?  For some reason, I have been a little down, lately, and there hasn’t been anything I can pin-point as to why I have been feeling that way.  I do know that early in recovery, individuals will have tough times.  Well, any person-in recovery, not in recovery, addicted, not addicted-is going to have tough times.  Everybody has hard times, but it is especially common for people who are in a new phase of recovery to feel like that.  There was a phase in my recovery for about the first five or six months, where I was just very happy and excited almost all of the time.  It is what a lot of people call the “pink cloud.”  A lot of times, people who get clean and enter recovery will have a period of time where everything is amazing in life.  They find that recovery is so much better than the addicted life they had been living before and just have an overwhelming peace about them.  The only thing is, as much as I wish it could, the “pink cloud” doesn’t last forever.  There is also a time after the “pink cloud” that a lot of people in recovery go through called the “wall.”  I learned from my recovery coach trainer at Wellness InX, Joe Lowe, that when heroin addicts enter the six to nine month sobriety period, they hit a wall.  A wall is where everything just stops.  All the sudden recovery doesn’t seem so fun anymore and we lose interest in a lot of the things we were doing that were holding our foundation of recovery up.  I noticed that when I hit the wall I didn’t have as much motivation to go to my 12-Step meetings as I did before, and I suffered quite a bit of depression and anxiety.  I realized that Joe was right-I hit that dang wall.

The good thing is that like the pink cloud, the “wall” doesn’t last forever, either.  I am about eight and a half months clean, so I should be almost done with this.  A lot of people relapse when they have stayed clean for about six months, and I believe that is due to the wall.  Thankfully, I have fought through the fog and continued my NA meetings and all of the things that I was doing before that were keeping me clean.  I thank the Lord every single day for helping me stay clean, because without him I know that I would be lost.  It is a miracle that I haven’t touched any drugs or alcohol in over eight months.

I am really thankful that I have been very busy lately, because a lot of times it is keeping busy that help the most when we are feeling down.  Recovery is a battle, and I have been fighting hard.  These last few weeks I have simply spent fighting and grinding.  I have been asking for a lot of help from the Lord.  The fog is starting to lift a little bit, and I feel so blessed that I have acquired the tools and coping skills to be able to deal with this stuff.  Addiction is a feelings disease, and it is very important to learn how to deal with our negative (and positive) feelings in a positive manner.

I really feel that I am going to come out of this fog a stronger person.  I now know that I can go through some struggles and still maintain my recovery and faith in God.  A lot of times God allows us to go through hard times, because in the end it makes us stronger individuals.  God will never put something on our plate that we can’t eat.  He will never give us more than we can handle, but he gives us enough to have to lean on him, and when we lean on him and get through a tough time, we gain strength and confidence in our abilities to fight off the attacks of the enemy.  God is a powerful God, and he wants us to trust in him.  He wants us to know that he is strong and that he cares.  Sometimes it can really feel that he may not be there or doesn’t care about us with all the crazy stuff going on in the world, but God doesn’t make bad things happen.  He can, though, create good out of a bad situation.  If you are going through something today, just trust in God.  Ask him to help you through it.  Sometimes it is hard to do, but it works when we fully trust him.  I want to let you all know that I am available to talk whenever you need to.  I am always a good listener and I am here to help.  Don’t ever hesitate to get ahold of me on the side through my email.  But most importantly, I want you to know that God is there and he cares about you.  Have a great day and God bless you all.  Let’s all keep pushing!

Trooper In My Rear-View

In my last blog, I re-counted the bizarre events of 2009 which jolted the Emerson family.  Aaron had two encounters with the Mason Police in a span of two weeks in July of that year, which resulted not only in his incarceration at the Ingham County Jail, but also in him becoming a felon due to his addiction.  During his incarcerations for drug offenses, we (his parents) refused to bond him out of jail.  Looking back, I believe that was one thing we did right, making him endure the consequences for his actions.  It was our hope that he would hit rock bottom.  Trust me: that was not an easy thing to do.

Unfortunately, as 2011 arrived, Aaron had not hit that elusive rock bottom.  At the end of 2010, he was released from jail and, to our dismay, returned to using heroin.  I recall a dark day on January 19, 2011 when, after a brief time at home, Aaron would once again be arrested in our house and taken away by authorities.  We had been in our new home for almost three years but Aaron was gone for most of that time because of his addiction.  A piece of us was missing.  We lived in pain and fear on a daily basis.

On that day in January 2011, I was returning home after conducting a funeral in Lansing.  As I approached my home, I noticed a Michigan State Trooper in my rear-view mirror.  “Oh no, what now?” I thought, my heart beginning to race.  At this point in my life, I had developed a phobia of police cars!  As I turned into my driveway, I noticed that the trooper had slowed down and slowly entered the property.  “Oh Lord, not again,” I thought.  I was petrified, knowing it had something to do with Aaron, but what could it be?

The trooper was a respectful, caring man, I will say, but he had a job to do.  I have the utmost respect for the Michigan State Police.  I still have this particular trooper’s card, which he gave me that day offering his help in the future.  He asked me if I was the home-owner, and if someone in my family had been driving the Grand Am which was parked in my garage.  I knew that Aaron was supposed to have driven to a counseling appointment that afternoon, and therefore told him that Aaron was most likely the driver of that car.  I asked the trooper why he was inquiring about this, and he told me that something had happened earlier at a local drug store.  He requested to speak with Aaron.

I escorted the trooper into the house, introduced him to Aaron, and he began to question my son.  In the meantime, my wife was cooking dinner and she asked me to go and pick up our daughter from a school event.  When we returned, Aaron was in the back seat of a Mason Police car, in handcuffs, with his head held down in utter devastation.  I only had time to wave good-bye to my son as the police car exited the driveway.  I still had no idea what was going on.  Upon seeing her big brother being taken away again, Sarah burst into tears.  Addiction is a family disease, and a painful one.

What had just happened?  Allow me, Pastor Emerson, to be transparent as I openly share our story with you.  Earlier that afternoon, Aaron was supposed to go to a counseling appointment.  Instead, he drove to a local drug store and attempted to steal an expensive bottle of liquor.  Aaron was not a drinker, but his heroin dealer would accept liquor in exchange for this deadly drug.  Upon leaving the store, Aaron was stopped by the manager, who asked him to give him the bottle under his coat.  Aaron surrendered the bottle, but when the manager took him by the arm, he pulled away and headed for his car.

Here’s where things went crazy, yet in turn, sheds light on how the “system” operates.  An older man and his son who were in the parking lot witnessed what had happened.  The son began to chase Aaron, who evaded him and ran across a busy street in Mason.  Aaron made his way back to his car, and quickly jumped in.  The father then ran over and grabbed ahold of the rear-end of Aaron’s car.  Despite the urging of the manager to let go and get out of the way, he maintained his position.  Aaron began to back out, but the man would not let go.  When Aaron shifted the car into forward, the man continued to hang on to the spoiler.  Aaron continued to proceed, and the man let go and rolled to the ground.  Aaron did not “strike” the man with his vehicle-the guy just wouldn’t let go of the car.  He was not seriously injured, thankfully; he merely sustained skinned knees from the incident.  Meanwhile, the manager wrote down the license plate number and the Mason Police summoned the Michigan State Police to assist, which led to the trooper coming to my home.

After the Mason Police left with Aaron, I asked the trooper what had happened, and he re-counted the story.  He asked me about Aaron’s history, and I told him about his drug addiction.  I could tell he felt sympathy for Aaron, and he stated that Aaron obviously needed help.  He also told me that there were no serious injuries, and that the man was foolish for holding onto Aaron’s car.  As for Aaron, the trooper said, “I think adrenalin kicked in.  He’s young, he was scared, and he just wasn’t thinking.”  The trooper told me that a report would be sent to the prosecutor, and it would be up to him to decide what to do.  The trooper didn’t view this as a felonious assault, personally, but he did forewarn me that Aaron could receive a felony, in the worst case scenario.

Long story short, the “worst case scenario” came true.  The local prosecutor wanted to reduce Aaron’s offense to a misdemeanor, but the “victim” had to be on board and in agreement.  When the prosecutor talked to the “victim,” the father had his own agenda.  The “victim” would only agree to lower Aaron’s offense to a misdemeanor if the court would release his son from Sobriety Court and dismiss his fines in return.  When the prosecutor told him that such a deal was not possible, the man refused to agree to lower Aaron’s offense.

 

Thus, when Aaron stood before the judge in the Ingham County 30th Circuit Court, he was charged with yet another felony: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.  Judge Clinton Canady had no idea of what had truly happened on that day in January 2011.  He thought Aaron was attempting to steal alcohol from a drug store and in the process, put “innocent” citizen’s lives in jeopardy, calling Aaron an “animal” and a “threat to society,” and a young man destined for a life in and out of prison.  The judge was very abrasive and harsh in his dealing with Aaron.

But this case was clearly not about liquor.  My son was addicted to heroin and at that point, was desperate to do whatever he could to get his fix.  The judge handled the case in a brief, few moments.  He was clearly not interested in what really happened on that painful day of January 19th, 2011.  Aaron was sentenced to 12 months in jail and a stern warning that he better not appear before him in his courtroom again.

Oh, how I despise heroin and what it does to people and their families!  But again, I wish to illiterate to those who are in similar straits as ours, there is HOPE in the midst of your despair.  I had truly begun to believe that our situation was hopeless, but I can say today that it was not.  God was still on his throne, and he would intervene, in time…