How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

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Angela
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How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

Several months back, during the previous school year, I attended a party a friend of mine was throwing. Her parents were out of town so somebody brought booze. I ended up drinking quite a lot. I mean, I got really trashed. I know I shouldn't have tried to drive myself home, but that's what I did. And I got pulled over and arrested for DUI.

Fast forward to this morning. I was in court to learn my fate. I didn't have a record, so I thought they might go easy on me. Maybe just give me probation with community service. Wrong. I've been sentenced to 30 days in juvenile detention.

The only reason I'm not there right now is because I have a job, so the judge gave me the weekend to put my notice in and otherwise get my affairs in order. On Monday, I have to report to the detention center to begin serving my sentence. So now I've lost not only my license, but my job and my freedom too.

Look, I own the fact that what I did was stupid and reckless, and I'm lucky things didn't end worse than they did. And I can't say that I don't deserve my punishment, because I do. I wish I had just called my parents that night, but I was scared and ended up making a bad situation even worse.

The worst part about all of this though is how it's affected my relationship with my parents. Since my arrest, they've been angry and disappointed in me beyond belief. What happened today made things even worse I think. All trust is lost. I hate how things are between us now, but I don't know how to start setting things right. How can I make amends and begin healing our relationship after screwing up this badly?

I hope I get a reply before Monday, but even if I don't I will read any replies I do eventually get once I get out.

I'm sitting here right now trying not to freak out about Monday. I've never been anywhere like juvie before and I'm really nervous because I have no idea what to expect. I definitely learned a major lesson from all this about how one bad decision can change your entire life for the worse.
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

Oh, Angela. I hear you, you certainly made a mistake, but I'm very sorry that you have to go to juvenile detention, nonetheless, and have the losses that you do. I certainly understand why you're feeling scared. It's scary.

It sounds like what is most pressing right now is seeing what, if anything, you can do about how things are between you and your parents right now. Not only are they feeling how they are because of what you did, I'm sure they also are having very hard feelings about your sentence. I think it's safe to say no loving parent wants this to be happening to their child. I bet they're scared, too.

How about asking them tonight, as soon as you can, if you can sit down and try and talk some of this out before you have to go?

In terms of preparing you for being in juvenile detention, we can talk about that too, if you like. I've worked around that system for a while now, and it's something I pay a lot of attention to as an issue, period, so I'm pretty familiar with how this often goes. I can look for some extra resources for you, but if you want, we can also just talk some basic do's and don'ts about most centers and being in them.
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Angela
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

Heather,

I wanted to let you know that I took your advice and talked to my parents last night. We talked for close to an hour. I told them yet again how sorry I am for everything and just let out everything I've been thinking and feeling since my arrest and since being sentenced. And they opened up and shared with me. I think talking definitely helped. I wouldn't say we repaired things with that one conversation, but I think it was a good step. And you were right, they are scared about me being in juvie too. They've promised to come and visit me every weekend for the month that I'll be there. And they both hugged me. I thought I was gonna cry when they did that.

Yes, I'd definitely like to hear anything that might be helpful in preparing me for juvie. What are the do's and don'ts I should be aware of?

Thank you so much for your reply. I really appreciate it.
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

I'm so glad that that went well for you, and that you feel supported by them. Good, reliable support is so vital for getting through something like this. Good on your parents for being supportive and caring.

In terms of getting through time in juvie as safely and sanely as possible, let me just toss out a few basic things, and we can continue talking from there as you'd like. Just so you know, I'm on schedule for work here today and tomorrow. I'm off Sunday, but given the time-sensitive nature of all this, if we get into it and you need a little extra support Sunday, I can certainly show up for that.

So, off the top of my head:
• Follow the rules, no matter what. Seriously, don't mess with the actual rules or push back against the actual rules. That gets you in a bad place with the people in charge, which can impact how you are treated there and also potentially extend your stay, which you obviously don't want.

• Be polite to everyone who works there, and also to your peers (and try and strike that balance of being polite without seeming like a kiss-ass, if you know what I mean).

• Try not to antagonize your peers. Everyone is stressed and angry and on edge in any kind of incarceration, so it's really easy to set people off. That easily gets you hurt or set up to get picked on in an ongoing way. Honestly, just keeping pretty quiet and to yourself as much as possible is usually the best way to go.

• To make the time pass faster and help keep you out of trouble and drama, see if you can't find a productive way of using your time there. Maybe that's about opting in to any educational or job-training programs they offer, maybe it's about trying to teach yourself Spanish or to meditate, maybe that's reading a bunch of books or writing a ton of letters, what have you. If you can find yourself some extended projects to really focus on while you are in there, this will likely be a lot easier.

• That all said, if anything bad happens to you or seems on the horizon there -- like any kind of abuse, from staff or peers -- be sure and tell someone on the outside (like your parents) discreetly and ask for help. You do NOT have to suffer through abuse, and it is your legal right NOT to be abused while you are in there.

• I'd also suggest that ahead of Monday, you think of some ways you can engage in self-care and stress management when you are in there. Since you won't likely have much material stuff to do that with, you'll have to get a little creative (and I am happy to help brainstorm if you like), but this will be essential. It's going to be scary and stressful and you are going to need to be able to take care of yourself. <3
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Angela
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

Thank you for all the advice. I've taken some time to mull over what you've said. Especially your suggestion that I find some ways to manage stress while I'm in since I'm so used to dealing with stress by listening to music or watching YouTube videos. I've been looking at stuff online about meditation since you suggested that as a way to pass the time. I think I'm gonna try and teach myself to meditate while I'm in there. I also really enjoy reading, so I'm gonna try and read a bunch too.

You mentioned the possibility of abuse. I've always heard of that happening in adult facilities. Does it happen often in juvenile lockups too? Please tell me it doesn't.

This morning I went to school to clear out my locker and turn in my textbooks. We still haven't decided how I'll finish out my senior year once I'm released. We've been looking into online schools as a possibility. I just know I don't want to have to repeat this year. I want to graduate on time and start college on time, so help me.

I've been pretty quiet about everything that's happened to me. I've only told a few friends. But I guess word will get out once I'm absent for the next 30 days. It's so embarrassing to think I'm going to be known at school as the girl who got sent to juvie from now on. *Sigh* I could kick myself for getting in this mess. But I digress.

Again, thank you for your reply!
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

Meditation is a great thing to get good at in this world period, IMHO, and certainly can be useful in these kinds of settings, since all it really asks you have is a place for your butt to sit. It also can be truly powerful stress management.

I wish that I could tell you abuse doesn't happen in youth facilities, but it does, and it is just as much of a problem as it is in adult facilities, I'm afraid. And worst of all, it happens more from staff than it often does from peers. I'm sorry to tell you those things, but I don't think it serves anyone very well not to be truthful about this, especially anyone who might be vulnerable to that abuse.

That given, anything you can do to protect yourself, especially passively -- again, you want to try not to set anyone off if you can help it (sometimes you can't, of course, we don't have total control of that) -- is a thing you should do. I'm talking about basic stuff like doing what you can not to be alone with anyone when you can help it, especially anyone who sets your radar off or who has a reputation (you'll probably hear about it from peers) of being abusive or otherwise unsafe. But mostly, I'd suggest that you just pay really close attention to your gut feelings. If someone is making you feel unsafe (particularly, I mean, as you probably will often feel unsafe in juvie, since it's not a place that feels safe or is meant to) or you just feel like they have it out for you, do what you can to avoid them as much as you can, etc. Don't keep any abuse a secret: tell someone, and if you're not sure who is safe to tell, you can start by telling someone on the outside. I'd also say that unless the abuse is or feels like it may come from this wing of things, medical or mental health staff, particularly nurses or counselors, can often be safe people to tell.

Some of this is sounding trite to me because I am trying to cover basics, but also because there's just no making it sound like everything is going to be fine while also being truthful. This is a really hard thing, and while I think you sound like someone who can get through it, it is probably going to be hard to get through, even when you don't suffer abuse, you know?

I'm sorry to hear that you're feeling shame, and I'm also sorry for whatever led you to making this kind of mistake you have to pay for in all of these ways. It might help to remember that memories are short when it comes to high school: it's amazing what people forget very soon after high school that seemed like the hugest deal during high school. Life is a lot more demanding and interesting after high school for most people though, so it's not super-surprising. (I tell you this also as the person who was "that dyke" or "that girl whose boyfriend killed himself or maybe she killed him, actually" and an array of other equally awful assigned identities during a couple years of high school, things that even the people who came up with them from the front very quickly forgot.)

I'm more concerned with how YOU identify you in this than how someone else does. You don't sound to me like someone who isn't taking responsibility. In fact, you sound like you're doing a really good job of that. Maybe just make sure that YOU don't make who you are all about this either, especially when you're in there. Taking responsibility is a thing that can be done without beating up on yourself. Making yourself feel bad about yourself doesn't actually increase the responsibility you're taking, it just puts more stress on you, which benefits no one.

This isn't who you are. This can be a blip: a bad moment you had where you made a mistake, and then the time that came after where you needed to deal with the consequences of it, and maybe accept some of the limits or changes it created (like if you can't start college when you planned). But this isn't who you are, because you're not going to be the kind of person where you make this all of who you are, you know? You can be the person who is about a lot of things, and this is just something you survived and something you learned from..
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Sam W »

Hi Angela,

I wanted to add a few things to all the good advice Heather is giving you, since it sounds like you could use as much support as you could get right now.

One other practical detail is that when you're in a facility like this, there are going to be a lot of rules (as Heather said) and some of those rules are going to feel really arbitrary (and sometimes they really are arbitrary) or like they're in the way of the things you need to do to take care of yourself. I'm saying this not to scare you, but rather to give you heads up that you're probably going to have moments of feeling frustrated when you run up against a rule, and it can help to have a plan for how you're going to sooth that frustration so that it doesn't come out in ways that get you in trouble with your peers or with the staff.

To underscore what Heather said about high school, I cannot remember much about the people I went to high school with except for those who I was close to. I know there were things that were hot gossip, mistakes people made that at the time seemed like the biggest piece of news in the world, but for the life of me I can't remember any of it. It's been buried under all the other things that made up my life after those years. So while this might feel like a black mark people will associate with you forever, I can say that isn't likely to be the case. And what will matter more is how you choose to live your life after this, and how you incorporate it into the stories you tell yourself about yourself. You can tell a story where this was a mistake, one that doesn't define the rest of you as a person, one that you learned a lesson from, and one that you moved past.Telling yourself that story, rather than one where you're a horrible person who can never recover from this, can make you time in there and the months after you get out a little easier.
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

Just thinking of you today, Angela, and hoping you're doing alright.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Angela
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

Heather & Sam,

Sorry I didn't reply sooner. Today has been a really busy day. I worked my last shift at my job. I only got home a little while ago. I'm gonna miss so many of my co-workers. But I do have some good news! My boss has agreed to rehire me once my sentence is up and I'm released! :)

I've been thinking over what you've both said about people forgetting all the stuff that happened in high school once it's over. I hope your right. I definitely don't want this incident to define my life, whether in my own eyes or in the eyes of others. I want this to be something I had to deal with, learned from, and moved past, y'know?

I'm sorry this reply is so short, but I'm exhausted! I'm about to go to bed. But I just wanted you to know that I did read what you both wrote and I do appreciate your responses!

Goodnight!
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by alice »

Hey Angela,

Good to hear from you! No pressure at all to respond or respond at length--whatever is helpful to you :) I know you have a lot on your plate right now!

Hope it's okay I'm popping in. Heather and Sam are off for the night and I'm here. Though as Heather mentioned, they are gonna check in tomorrow and will likely add a response!

I am so glad to hear that your boss has agreed to rehire you when you have finished your sentence. I could see that news also helping you envisioning your life a month from now in general. Has it? I think that is going to be important.

I am so sorry that you have to go through this. I personally do not think this is a compassionate response to people making mistakes and causing harm, and I also don't think it's a very effective response. So while I so very wish you didn't have to go to juvie for the next month, since unfortunately you do I want to say: I have such hope for you. In my family we have a saying, "You can get through anything for X amount of time." Often that time frame is a month--the same length as your sentence. What we are trying to highlight for each other is that, things can be really hard, but they are impermanent, and we can and WILL survive them. You are going to have a full long life and this will only be one month of it. Like you said, it is something you will deal with, learn A TON from, and continue on your with life sharing what you have learned with others whether with your story or with the ways it makes you a stronger and/or more responsible and/or more empathetic person.

I believe in you and am thinking of you Angela!
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

I'm glad to hear that about your job, too.

I'm just stopping in to leave you a last note before you go. Please know we'l all be thinking of you, and in the event you get access and need any support, you know where to find us.

I like what Alice said about getting through anything for a given length of time (the Kimmy Schmidt version is ten cranks at a time :P). I think that's a good thing to remember, and I feel positive you can get through this.

Sending you all the positive, supportive vibes I've got. Hang in there, and we'll see you on the other side of this. :)
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
Angela
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

Hey Everyone,

I just want to say how grateful I am for all the support I've received here.

I spent the day with my friends and family. My parents insisted on taking me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, which was really great. Things are better between us now than they've been in quite a while. As I said before, they've promised to visit me regularly, which makes me feel a lot better about what I'm about to go through.

Eating out tonight made me wonder about the food in juvie. I'm guessing it's not going to be great. Hopefully, it won't be as bad as I'm imagining it right now.

I still feel a little nervous about tomorrow, but better now that I've got a plan for passing the time. I'm looking at my bed right now. It feels weird knowing that after tonight I won't sleep in it again for a month.

I don't know if I'll have access to the internet on the inside or not, but if I do, I'll try and post at least once to let everyone know how I'm doing. And if I don't have access, I'll post an update once I'm released.

Again, I just want to thank everyone who's commented. Please keep me in your thoughts over the next 30 days.

Goodnight!
Angela
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Angela »

I'm finally free! And freedom has never felt so good. My sentence ended on the evening of the 12th. Sorry for not posting an update before now.

My time spent in juvie was, thankfully, uneventful. No one tried to beat me up or anything. Actually, I got along better with the other girls in there than I expected to. I was amazed how many (but not all) were in for relatively minor offenses. There was this one girl who was sentenced to spend weekends in juvie for shoplifting a pair of earrings. I don't think she had any other offenses and was only 13. I had no idea the courts were that strict. But I'm taking it as a warning not to get in trouble ever again.

I want to thank everyone once again for all the advice offered before I started my sentence. The bit about thinking of ways beforehand to kill time was definitely on the mark. It was so painfully boring in there. I think I would've gone crazy if I hadn't had a plan going in to deal with it.

I'm going to be starting at a new school once the holidays are over. I don't know yet if I'll be able to graduate on time, but after juvie I feel like I can deal with whatever happens.

My relationship with my parents is continuing to improve. I was so happy that they came to visit me as often as they did. And tonight, we're going out for pizza! :)

I have to run. I just wanted to let everyone know that I did survive my time away. And thank you all once again.
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by Heather »

Angela, I am so glad to see you! I so appreciate you posting this here, we've been thinking of you. And I just couldn't be more glad you got through it safe and sound and are on the other side of this. This just made my whole day. <3
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead
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Re: How can I start making things right after screwing up so royally?

Unread post by solareclipse94 »

I read through the thread here, and I'm sorry that that happened. But as long as things are improving, then there is nothing else to worry about. I have never been in a situation like this, but I can understand. Also, knowing that you made it out of there okay made the rest of my day. I mean I was having a pretty good day already and then reading this made it a little more better.
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