The Serenity Prayer

Living the Serenity Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to change the things I can, and

Wisdom to know the difference.

~ Reinhard Niebuhr

I was waiting for my name to be called at the doctor’s office when the call came.

It was Jade. I had left her at Change On Third in downtown Easton. She had been trying all week to get a bed at a drug rehab.

“I’m going back to jail,” the voice cried. “What?” I replied as my heart beat increased. “I got a call from my P.O., she said to come there. She is going to put me back in jail.”

Back Story

This has been a long journey. Jade has been in and out of jail, in and out of rehabs as her addiction takes more and more control of her life. A while back I thought she had OD. Then one night at my Journey Program in the local jail, the officer said someone wanted to join my group. He said she had been part of my groups before. “Jade,” he said as I looked up and saw her standing there in the flesh. “Oh my goodness,” as I hugged her tightly. “I thought you were dead.” She would get that response many times.

Jade is a wonderful, creative, intelligent, kind woman. She was an asset to my groups on the inside. She is intellectually curious and so compassionate. When clean that is. Well, that is what I think. I have not seen her when using. My only experience with Jade until this past week was inside the jail walls where her only medication is prescribed by the jail psychiatrist (which by the way is true of almost all female inmates.) In the few weeks before her release last week, she had stopped those meds as well.

Jade was accepted in a new program through the Northampton County called “Drug Court.” You can read more about that wonderful program here. In short, as part of the program, Jade would be a priority for a rehab bed and then have a team to support her. The participants are kept in jail until a bed is available. However, in Jade’s case when she was getting to go (actually almost out the door), corrections realized she had a detainer in New Jersey so she would have to go there and then be released to a rehab. I am not sure why no one was aware of this before that day. But as a result, she would spend another week in the Northampton County facility and then NJ would pick her up. She spent a few days in a county facility there and then was released with the understanding that she would report to the county Drug and Alcohol intake within 48 hours and connect with Change On Third. That brings us to the past week.

Getting to know Jade on the Outside

Jade called last week to say that she had been released from the NJ facility. She asked to come to my studio the next day. It was strange at first to hear her voice on the phone and to know that I would see her in regular clothes at the studio in the morning. The next day, Jade joined Lyric and me at the studio. She brought her brother and a friend who had been supportive in the past. We had such a great time making art, laughing, crying, talking. She came the next day Wednesday and we had our first portrait session. She left to pick up her friend and all seemed fine.

The Praying Begins

One of the most difficult challenges for someone who is a support to a person with addictions is to know when to step back. Things can go along quite well until you come up against the wall of not knowing, not knowing what to do next. That is what happened on Thursday morning when I learned about an altercation that involved Jade through a posting on Facebook. One person’s story. No way to get in touch with Jade. It felt like she was “in the wind.”

Then there was the other posting on FB. This time from Jade “Please anyone I need a ride to Easton.” A bit of relief, she was still trying to get to the rehab.

Time to let go and let her work it out.

Friday morning serendipity

Phil at Change On Third is a wonderful, wise man whom I seek out for advice when I am not sure of my boundaries with the women in The Journey Home. Friday morning I needed that counsel. I met him at Change at Third Street and as anticipated he was so helpful and supportive.

Staying in the moment of the unknowing, I practiced a breathing meditation and walked out of the center.

“Dr. Bonnie” came the voice from the parking lot across the street. “Jade?” I yelled with great relief, disbelief, and joy. It was her.

Coming over to the Change office with a bag of belongings in each hand. I ran to meet her, we hugged and came back to the Change On Third Office just as Phil was leaving.

She was once again on track. She spoke with several people on her case and learned that some paperwork had to be exchanged between Northampton County and NJ.

Nothing to do until Monday. I drove her to Plainfield with hopes that she would be ok over the weekend and appear again on Monday.

Sunday night I received a call from her requesting a ride on Monday morning. Of course, I agreed and picked her up and took her to Change at Third where we dropped off her things and went across the street to the Drug and Alcohol Intake Office. Paperwork was still up in the air so we would again have to wait. So we went to lunch and hung out at the art studio making portraits. Eventually we went back to Change at Third to pick up Jade’s bags and check on the process. Nothing had been settled and I wasn’t going to let Jade out of my sight at this point so she spent the night at my place.

The next morning I dropped her off at Change at Third and went to the doctor’s office. This brings us full circle to the phone call at the beginning of this story.

Serenity, Courage and Wisdom

“Stay there, Jade. I am on my way.” The drive from the doctor’s office to Change On Third seemed mighty long, fearful that Jade would run before I got there. Her words “I am not going back to jail” going around and around in my head.

Jade’s week of running the gauntlet had its toll on her and me. Now there were three ends to this story: Jade would run, Jade would be in a rehab, or Jade would be back inside. I was determined that the ending would be rehab so I began to muster up the courage to do all that I could before she checked in with her probation officer who it seemed was set on putting her back in jail.

As I was in my problem solving mode, Jade attended a meeting in the same room. I was sitting to the side and able to listen to the wisdom being shared. At this point I had made many phone calls, sent many emails, even went to the local police department to check on their new E-Pair program. As I was sitting there I received a call from the Judge involved in the Drug Court. From that conversation, I knew we had to report as soon as possible to the probation office.

That is when they closed the meeting with the serenity prayer and I realized the truth in the words. We had practiced mindfulness to reach serenity about what was happening, we had used our courage all week to make the rehab happen, now we had to find the wisdom and accept that we had to report and trust the process.

So we went to the probation office and met with Jade’s appointed officer. At first it seemed that Jade was going back inside and then the officer called us in and said they had found a bed.

Jade was picked up that night at 8:30 in front of the office on Third Street.

Her last post on Face Book before being picked up:

After a week’s worth of red tape, I am finally leaving for rehab.

Thank you, Dr. Bonnie, you saved my life.

I almost lost myself this past week.

I received a call on Wednesday morning. She had arrived safely.


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