/  Jaywalker   /   I belong here

wolfI grew up in a very normal and loving family. I have always been cared for. I have never had a problem recognizing that I was an alcoholic and addict. I knew what came with the decision I made to use hard drugs, and in a sense I was proud of that decision. I wanted to be different and that was how I was going to achieve that. That decision led to me being “exiled” from my community. Around that same time I started to feel like I did not belong. Jaywalker helped me to feel welcome and that I was similar to every man and woman, no matter our differences in sobriety dates. However, internalizing this was a whole different story.

This past weekend I had the chance to volunteer for the Lodge, and go to Mission: Wolf, which is a wolf sanctuary. I sat in the wolf pen admiring the wolves and the presence that they brought with it: raw power, intelligence and compassion. A colossal wolf walked up to me and stared me in the eyes. For those who haven’t had the chance to have this experience, it is both frightening and humbling. I sat there staring back at the penetrating eyes and baring my teeth at the wolf. The wolf put his teeth to mine, and licked my teeth. To wolves, this is a form of greeting, an experience similar to that of us shaking hands.

What I felt during that moment is not something that is easy to explain. I felt bliss, I felt serene. I felt that I finally belonged. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I have never had a spiritual awakening, until this experience. Everything seemed different from this point on. I felt equal to everyone around me, animal and human alike.

I lay in my tent that night trying to hold back tears. I, for once in my life, felt like I was at home. I felt a rush of emotions escaping my body. As I lay there that night a few things ran consistently through my mind. There were probably two thoughts out of many that were most enlightening.  Without the chance provided by my parents to once again try to get clean and sober, and the Jaywalker programs always in my corner fighting for me, I would have never had this perspicuity. I finally felt like I fit in, but most importantly I felt that I deserved this chance to be clean and sober, I deserved to be alive.

Nate F.

JWU Student