I remember being called to the principal's office that day and sitting down with Mr. Byrd and Officer Holland and them explaining how they’d discovered my crime. I was being charged with petty larceny for stealing a parking pass from another student’s car at my high school. Apparently I had left my headlights on and they ran the parking pass to figure out whose car it was. They called Kevin Hardin up to the office only for him to discover where his missing parking pass had gone. I was sunk.
I pleaded with them to not punish me. Up to this point in my life I had made a habit of manipulating my way out of these kinds of situations by playing the blame game. “You don’t understand! You don’t know what my home life is like! I had to take that parking tag because if I had gotten towed my Dad would have to work even more hours and I would have to take care of mom even more! Please, don’t do this!”
Mr. Byrd looked at me and asking me a question that would reverberate in my mind for a long time to come, “Scot, when are you going to stop using your situation as a crutch?” Excuse me!? How dare you! Do you know what it’s like to be the man of the house at 15!? Do you know what it’s like to have a suicidal mother!? I was appalled at this statement. I left his office stewing and fuming but there was a part of me that knew he was right. This was just one poor decision I had made in long line of foolishness and I was out of second chances. I was about to face some serious consequences.
Essentially he was asking me when I was going to stop blaming my choices on my circumstances. This was a powerful moment in my recovery. I’ve since learned that this is called taking ownership. I had to decide that my choices were my choices. I had to come to a place where I wasn’t going to let my circumstances dictate the direction of my life. I had to rise above what was happening in my life that I couldn’t control, and take hold of that which I could.
So my court day came and I prepared to take what I now see as the first step of this long journey.
“Do you understand the charges being brought against you today?”
“Yes your honor.”
“And how do you plead?”
I stood before a judge that day and took ownership of what I had done. This was step one of being honest with myself and others. I had stolen the tag and I had to pay the price. Thankfully I was given an opportunity to expunge it from my record through what the state of North Carolina called the first offenders program. I was sentenced to probation and 40 hours of community service.
I hated Mr. Byrd for punishing me and calling me on my playing the victim but I am grateful for him now. He was the first person to tell me that I didn’t have to be overcome by what I was going through. I was far from fixed but I had learned something very valuable. I wish I could say that I changed everything that day but it doesn’t really work that way. I continued shoplifting and stealing from people for a long time after that because I wasn’t ready to change, but at least for the first time I knew I could change.
The twelve steps begin with these two powerful words, “I admit.” Recovery from any kind of sin begins with admittance. At some point we have to decide that we are going to admit to what we are doing, expose ourselves as painful as it may be. Are you choosing to be the victim or rising above your circumstance? What is it that you may need to admit to? Find a trusted friend or family member and begin your own recovery today.