In 1984 drinking and drug use was taking me closer to the brink of insanity. Police were just starting to crack down on drunk driving as a major offense around that time. Actually I believe it was early 1987 when the laws really got tougher after a driver who had multiple arrests for drunk driving was involved in an accident with a school bus that killed somewhere between 10 and 15 children. This information comes from a period of life that was so blurred by my drinking that the actual numbers may be incorrect. But I do remember that is when a lot of the laws changed.
Up until that point, for each of my first 3 arrests, I had been given a slap on the wrist by being given a period of probation and a “suspended sentence”. A suspended sentence means that the court sentences you to a specific period of time to serve in jail, then suspends that sentence with the understanding that you will be on “probation” for a specified period of time. If during that time, you violate your probation in any way, you will be put in jail for the amount of time that the court originally sentenced you to.
So out of my first 3 court appearances, since they had happened so close to one another, each one was treated as a 1st offense because I would go to court before the previous sentence showed up on my record. As a 1st offense I was usually sentenced to one and a half years in jail, then the sentence was suspended and I was put on probation for a year.
The 4th case, the judge was a little harder. He had personal beliefs about drunk driving that caused him to be less lenient in his sentencing. He sentenced me to a year and a half in jail, suspended the sentence putting me on probation and sentencing me to serve 10 consecutive weekends in Howard County Detention Center. I would come into jail on Friday after work, and stay there until Sunday night.
Now I wanted to be clear on all of this because here came a major turning point in this period of my life. Again, understand that all of this happened in the span of less than a year. Almost a year, to the day from my 2nd arrest, I was arrested for the 5th time as I drove to the Detention Center to serve my 7th weekend. Can you see the insanity?
Okay, let’s take a break from the technical data here. I’m sure that if you are like most people who have heard me talk about this part of my life, you are shaking your head in disbelief. Why would someone be stupid enough to get behind the wheel of a car, drunk when they were on their way to jail to serve a sentence for drunk driving? It’s called insanity. And unless you have been in that place, or know someone who has, I don’t know that I will ever be able to help you understand. My logic was, that if I got drunk enough, when I went into jail on Friday night, I would go directly into my cell and go to sleep, wake up late the next afternoon. Read for a couple of hours, then go back to sleep waking up in time to get out on Sunday. Basically escaping the reality of the experience while I was there. I know. Insanity in my logic, but at the time it really made sense to me.
But what was going to happen next, was even more insane. Since over 6 months had passed since my last arrest, this latest charge now violated the probation's on all other 4 sentences. All of them were on record now. There was no way that I would be “lucky” this time. As I sat in jail that weekend, I realized that I was now facing 5 years in jail, and that wasn’t counting the additional time I was going to be sentenced for having a 5th offense. Because of my previous record, I was looking at a minimum sentence of 8 years in jail. If I got a reduced sentence because of good behavior, I would be out in 5 years.
I couldn’t sleep at all that weekend. I sat in my cell with my head spinning. I was 20 years old. Not even legal to drink in the state of Maryland, and all I could think was that I would be spending the next 5 years of my life in prison. This was insanity. How could they think they were going to do this to me? Nobody was going to tell me what I was going to do. No way was I going to spend the next 5 years, prime drinking time, in jail. I was finally going to be legal in a few months. I was so far gone in my thought process that I took no responsibility for my actions. I was only looking to blame everyone else and rationalize how I was in the right.
By the time I walked out of the detention center on Sunday, I had my plan. There was no way I was going to give up my life to these people. I was not going to be taken easily. I was going to go out like an outlaw. I saw myself becoming the next Jesse James or Billy the Kid. I decided that as soon as I got home, I would pack everything I could into my car, and take off. I would go back to Pennsylvania long enough to get extra cash together, and then I was going to disappear into the landscape. Taking what I wanted, from whoever I wanted. And if anyone tried to stop me, I would go down in a fight.
I packed my car that Sunday night, and pulled out of Maryland leaving an empty apartment, a job as district manager and all of my friends without a word. Within two weeks of my leaving the detention center that Sunday night. I had sold all that I could, and was on the road. I had no specific destination in mind other than I was running away. I spent the next month and a half working my way down the eastern seaboard to Fort Lauderdale. I made extra money by hustling pool and selling drugs. In that month and a half, I lived out of my car, and spent over $4,500 on drugs and alcohol. I was in Florida when the money ran out and I got news that my grandmother was very ill. My family sent me the money via Western Union so I could return home. I raced back to Pennsylvania fearing that my grandmother would die. But ultimately my disease was more important than even her health. I stayed there for two weeks hiding out at a friend’s apartment, and when my grandmother was feeling better, I set off again. This time my destination was New Jersey and, if you can imagine, an even deeper level of insanity.
< Chapter 3:6 Chapter 3:8 >
The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section
Who Is Willard Barth?
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober - Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow v
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up