troublemakers

Finally Getting Free: A Felony for My Family.

 

To most, driving a stolen car seems like a really bad thing to do, especially when you’re the one who stole it.

But when we want something bad enough, something we know will change our life for the better with no question about it — like an alcoholic who quits the sauce, or a junkie who yanks the spike from their dilapidated veins and heart — we will do just about anything to get it: like steal a nice big VW sports car and head north on the 101, until you coast into the Ventura Carrows (with a prostitute you actually call your girlfriend), just so you can find a place that accepts addiction for what it is — a vicious, deadly disease that can only be treated, not cured.

Yes, I totally agree: on paper, this looks or sounds pretty bad — junkies, prostitutes, stolen cars — but maybe the first part of the story will actually make some kind of sense if you just give it a chance. I’m only human, nothing less, I promise. I feel feelings just like anybody else — like the sadness I caused for my two daughters who both live in Orange County, where the car was stolen, Huntington Beach to be exact.

At that time, July 2013, I was of course forbidden to see them — my brain soaked in heroin which made it nearly impossible to think clearly and unselfishly.

But a person who knows in their heart what they really want — a person who wants nothing more but to be the slightest bit sober so he can see his kids — will get the opportunity to achieve what they want to achieve, but only if they keep an open mind and take all possibilities into consideration.

For most, it has to be laid out on a silver platter, spoon-fed right into their mouth or the moment sails away like a fart in the wind — a lingering redolence of a missed opportunity you never even knew existed.

In my case, the silver platter had tinted windows, leather seats, a dashboard panel that looked like the inside of a spaceship while Judas Priest preached and reminded me that Breaking the law, Breaking the law is sometimes necessary, especially when the law treats addicts like criminals who carry contagious diseases others will catch unless we’re locked up and isolated like rabid animals.

I would sit in jail for 3-4 months at a time and rot away when I could have been in rehab, at least trying to figure out what is so bad that I have to stick myself with needles filled with toxins that could instantly kill me, leave my children dad-less with no real explanation on why I would do such a thing to my once vigorous body.

I know, I know… dad-less? Like they weren’t already? Like they weren’t already asking why daddy did such things that not only ruined my body, but ripped their little hearts in two as well.

But this article is not about why; if I wrote a piece on why I chose to let the demons roam free for 20 years, why I couldn’t not shoot dope no matter how hard I tried, no matter how many tears my kids and mother wept, the piece would make Donald Trump’s book of tweets look like a little pamphlet you get when attending church on Sunday.

This is about what I was willing to do to fix what I knew had torn my beautiful family apart. Like I said, if a person wants something bad enough, they will figure out a way to get it, even if it means stealing a car left running in the middle of the street then blindly heading north.

So when I was pulled over on Las Positas in Santa Barbara for making an illegal u-turn, just off the 101 freeway, after panhandling $5 for gas at the Ventura Carrows, I was charged with Grand Theft Auto — a charge treated like a drug charge because the judge thought I would not have stolen the car in my right mind.

So after three months in the Santa Barbara County jail, I was released with three years probation, and attended an outpatient rehab four days a week for six months, until I graduated Drug Court.

Do I think three months in jail for stealing a car is ridiculous? Honestly, yes, especially for a non-violent offense.

But I knew I’d get caught. I knew I’d have to do it their way, which would force me to clean up, get back to my girls. So I did whatever I had to do. I made a sacrifice and stole that goddamn car and eventually got my kids back in my goddamn life. But most important of all, by the grace of myself, God, and Obamacare, I haven’t touched heroin since, and my life I fought so diligently for, has never been better.

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Jon Vreeland is a writer of prose, poetry, plays, essays and journalistic articles. His memoir “The Taste of Cigarettes” will publish May 22, 2018 on Vine Leaves Press in Australia. Vreeland is married to artist Alycia Vreeland, and has two daughters, Mayzee and Scarlett. You can read more of Vreeland’s work on his website.

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