“Long Time NO Blog”

March 24, 2018

So I decided I should touch base with all of you who so generously and so kindly have followed “aheroinestory.com”. I am sorry to have fallen off the world of blogging, however I was not given a choice in the matter. For reasons that I will explain at another time. I was told to “refrain from blogging” about the daily happenings in the world of “Alderson Women’s Federal Prison”. So I refrained. It was in everyone’s best interest, as it was put to me. On some level I agree, on other levels I do not agree. However, I am scheduled to go home to Pittsburgh, PA on June 19, 2018. That is my top priority now. To get home in one piece with my health in tact.

Once I get home I will be able to go into depth about the many events that have transpired. You will be reading my blog or my best selling books! Stay tuned, one way or the other.

To say the least, I have met some very interesting women in here. A hand full of them will remain in my life forever. This experience is something that is extremely difficult to put into words. It is however, something that needs to be talked about. And I plan on doing that!

This blog, my readers, and my family are the reasons that I so graciously made it through the past 7 months. As you know, I had written a blog a few months ago, that I was forced to delete. There has been a series of events since then that I have agreed to not discuss in my blog for several different reasons. At some point I will be able to share this information with all of you. Now is not the right time.

In hindsight, I can see that writing has allowed me to preserve my sanity and it has made my time go quicker. That is a blessing. I just realized that being able to write in my blog from the beginning of my sentence has kept me focused and grounded as well as in this reality of actually being in prison.

I have met phenomenal women here. Women who I would have never had the opportunity to meet anywhere else. I feel a spark with some of them. A spark that says “we were supposed to meet; our paths were supposed to cross!”. Only in prison. Only in Alderson Women’s Federal Prison.

So yesterday, the Thursday flight came in from Oklahoma. Meaning that the new inmates were on their way in the door. So here comes Lacey! Everyone is hugging her and she is excited to see the entire unit. She is very cute with a bubbly personality. She was Roya’s girlfriend in the county jail. So I introduced myself and said, “well, uh this is a bit awkward, but God forbid I ever come back here on a violation and everyone is so happy to see me! I am not real sure how I would feel about that!”. She responded, “Yes, I know what you mean. I started my bid when I was 18 years old. I am 33 years old today. I was given a 10 year sentence for robbing a bank. I was with my husband who was 24 years older than me. I was an angry, rebellious kid. I was always being put in the SHU. Always getting in some kind of trouble. I started using heroin in prison. My life started to really go down hill fast”.

“Have you ever gone to rehab Lacey?” I asked. Her response was, ” Well this is my third time back here on a violation. They were all three dirty urines. Now this time I turned myself into my PO. My Po said this is the behavior he wanted to see, and he would work with me to find a rehab that would take me. Instead, he sent me a letter in the mail telling me to appear in court. I knew what this meant and it was not good!”.

So now I am baffled. Once again, this pretty attractive young girl has spent 12 years in Federal prison with not once chance to attend rehab to treat the disease of addiction that she is clearly suffering from.

What is wrong with this picture? Something is very wrong. It is 2018. in 1954, the American Medical Association declared addiction as a disease. Why is this so difficult for people to understand?

Lacey went on to explain that she was introduced to Narcotics Anonymous in prison. She celebrated 18 months clean in the program. She is aware that the program works and she knows she will need to jump back on board to get clean and stay clean again. When sharing with another addict how the program works, there is a deep level of understanding that takes place. A common bond. It is the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. If lacey commits to staying clean and taking direction one day at a time, she will thrive in the NA program here. Lacey has committed to coming with me. Let’s see if she follows through!!

So I was here at Alderson for about two weeks when Ms. Kitty told me there was a girl in my unit who has been at Alderson for many years, and that she was interested in making extra money by doing my laundry.  Her name is Brandy A.

She found me in the microwave room. I was ironing my pants and I heard, “Hey are you Sugarmann? Are you sure you should be ironing while you are falling asleep?” I have had a sleep disorder since I was 1o years old when my father passed away. The past two years have been extremely stressful. I spent those years waiting to go to prison. My world had fallen apart. When I arrived at Alderson I was unable to walk without a cane. I would fall asleep while standing or sitting. I was terribly unhealthy.

I looked at Brandy and we laughed. She has been my guardian angel throughout my time here. She is God’s gift to me. Brandy is here and she is a first time offender. She was given 15 years. Her mother left her with her father when she was 9 years old. I can’t even imagine that. What the hell was her mother thinking? Brandy got involved with an abusive man at the age of 14. She had three children to him. She finally left him and raised her children on her own. She began cooking methamphetamine to support her family. She was then indicted for conspiracy to manufacturing. First time offender, never arrested for anything, never in rehab. The judge sentenced her to 15 years in prison. Jesus. When the judge said 180 months in prison, Brandy’s father hit the floor of the courtroom. Brandy’s ex-husband stepped up and took care of the children. She is grateful for that. Brandy is not the norm when it comes to being a prisoner. She works in the facilities. When she works, she works. She does landscaping and can drive every piece of John Deere equipment there is! She takes care of the compound when it snows. They wake her up at all hours of the night and she goes! Brandy is one of the few inmates who has changed her life on her own. She stopped using drugs while in prison. That is a major accomplishment. She keeps her distance from people and she doesn’t get too close. You can count the people she chooses on one hand. I can see how this happens. She has good clear boundaries. She is a true loyal friend. She is very trustworthy. After what I learned about friends and loyalty the past two years, she is breath of fresh air.

Brandy is a God sent to Roz Sugarmann. I am her prison mom. She cooks for us every day. Cafeteria food is awful. I lost 50 pounds between September and February. Brandy has been locked up for 10 years. She has never had the opportunity to learn about the disease of addiction. She gets 300 minutes a month on the phone and she divides them between her dad and her kids. She skypes them once a week. Her kids LOVE her and they miss her very much. They need their mom. She has maintained as consistent of a relationship with them as she can. I respect her for not giving up. So many other mothers have done just that. Brandy completed Alderson’s firefighter program. She is a certified Federal Firefighter. That is a major accomplishment too!! For the most part, the staff here at Alderson respect her.

I told my family that Brandy will be coming to Pittsburgh at some point! I am more than sure that if I bright only one person home from prison with me they will be grateful! LOL only ONE !!!

I  have many more phenomenal women who I have met in prison. Brandy has become family. The others have crossed my path each for a different reason. I am getting excited about coming home. The simple thought of driving out of the gate gives me goosebumps. and puts a lump in my throat. This has been yet another one of God’s experiences that I have to figure out for myself what the lessons are.

The mail has dropped off over the past few months. It is okay though. I know it is difficult to write letters on a regular basis. My main concern while I am here is my family out there- at home. This has been very hard on them. Harder on them than on me. They have had to realize what life is like without their mother. It has been almost like a death. They have grown in ways that others don’t have to until they lose a parent. I guess what I am saying is.. if you are a friend of mine or “were” a friend of mine and you think of me now and then. Please replace the thought of me with a phone call or a text message or anything you can to let my family know that you are thinking of them. It will mean the world to them. It will also mean the world to me.

I am excited to come home. I am excited to go back to work. I am excited to see my family, my dogs, my cats, my house, my patients, and their families!!!

God Bless You All!

Til my next blog…..

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The Three Most Difficult Words Ever: “I Need Help”

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Happy 2017   ! I hope that you all have a peaceful, serene, healthy and love filled 2017!!!!!

I haven’t written for the past few weeks. It was a very difficult holiday season however many things became very clear to me over the past weeks !!!  I want to write every day; however when I sit down to write I get very emotional and I get blocked. Instead of trying to fight through it I get up and walk away.  So tonight as I was thinking about what I really needed to write about I realized that the reason that I wanted to start a blog in the first place was because of my passion for working with drug addicts.   Helping them change and become the person that they want to be deep down inside is truly a miracle.  I used the word “passion”.  Working with drug addicts IS my MAIN PASSION in life.

Since the closing of ASI I have been trying to figure out how I would get back into my work.  ASI was the future for my four kids.  We raised them watching us help addicts daily.  As a result, they saw the good, bad and ugly of this disease.  I had many addicts on my couch;  in my home while my children were growing up.  We taught them that addicts were sick people and the ones that we brought to our home were the ones who wanted to get better. Not all of them made it.  Many of them stole from us. My kids got attached to many of them and they got hurt when the addict relapsed and abandoned them.   ASI became a part of my children as well.   They all knew that ASI would be their home and their livlihood, just as it was from the beginning of their lives.  They went on to College and majored in Psychology.  They went on to do trainings and go to meetings and listen.  While they were fortunate enough to travel and chase some of their dreams, they knew deep down that they would end up running, working and living ASI just as they had all of their lives and just as they saw their parents do every day of their life.

It was pulled out from under them.  Probably one of the saddest things one could watch and experience.  I have never been given an answer as to why, after 20 years, there had to be that kind of ending.  Nobody has ever answered why ASI could not have continued with other owners. So in the meantime, we are struggling as a family to make it daily.  Sean and I both were unable to collect unemployment.  We have been selling our possessions in order to live.  As you know, Sean has been battling cancer…..he has no health insurance. We are bogged down with medical bills.  My children were not making enough money to take care of us, our house payment, our car payment, etc…..  I’m putting it all out there because each day I try to grasp at ANYTHING and it is always the same……..there is nothing there. As I am sure you all know, ASI was a lucrative business.  Making an income on this disease has always been a struggle for me.  I did the best I could to deal with that struggle by giving as much as I possibly could to whoever was in need and could not afford to pay.   I can feel that many of the people who do not like me are taking great pleasure in my pain and probably think I deserve this on some level.  There have been so many people who have lied to the FBI;  disgruntled employees, jealous, envious people who live in hate of others.  So many false accusations, so many untrue newspaper articles.  I don’t know that I would wish what we are going through on my very worst enemy.

I get on my knees in the morning and at night.  Now more than ever.  I never imagined going from having everything to having nothing.  I am trying diligently to get something set up for my family so that they may have an income.   I am most likely going away in June for a period of time.  I want them to be able to survive.  The only work I know is helping addicts.  My family operates as a close unit, borderline “codependent”.  haha
We are presently holding each other up.  I had a friend say to me, “Roz, put a status on Facebook or send a flier out and ask everyone who you have ever helped for $25.00 or whatever they want to donate…….”    I can’t do that.  I don’t know how to do that.   I’m going to continue to pray as I have been doing for the past 32 years.  I have a God who is loving, caring and who has helped me get through every storm I’ve ever been through since I was 10 years old.

We will get a break.  We will get a miracle.  Something phenomenal will happen and God will be there helping us to put our lives back together.  I want to thank all of you who have loved me unconditionally.  Whether you are clean or struggling to get clean.  Somebody always has it worse than I do.  I still get phone calls to help addicts who are struggling……thank God for those phone calls.  They keep my spirit alive.   Please pray for me and for my family.  I need many many prayers and I KNOW they work.  God listens to prayer and God helps those who help themselves.  I have been asking for a financial miracle.  I learned that it is okay to do that.   I would have never imagined that at 33 years clean and four children later that I would have achieved my dream and had it yanked out from under me at age 62.

I have been approached by some people to participate in something called FUND MY CAUSE. I am in the process of researching it and I am in hopes of it assisting me with a way to help addicts get clean and a way for me to continue with my PASSION.  I am asking that you be on the look out for this in my next blog.  I am really in need of your support in order to make this happen.   Please continue to read and support my blog.  I really need your help.

Thank all of you who have been there for me……..please continue praying for the addicts and family members of the addicts who are still suffering, both clean and struggling to get clean.

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