Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Thursday, April 10, 2014

cowardice

On the Bank

I was 13. We'd driven from Amarillo to Grand Lake in East Central Oklahoma for the July 4th weekend, caravaning with a family from our neighborhood, the Babbs.

We were staying at a cabin owned by an oilfield service company, free of charge. After getting settled in, we decided to take the ski boat out on the lake. My friend Chuck Babb and I went to the boathouse where the Chris Craft ski boat was. It was an inboard/outboard walk-through model, probably 18' or so.

Chuck and I were careful about reading the start-up directions, running the blower in the engine compartment for several minutes before turning the key. As we got the motor running a few of the others got on the boat, including my father.

After we were backed out of the boathouse, I walked to the back of the boat to sit on one of the seats next to the motor cowling. As I leaned over to unsnap the seat, letting it down to its sitting position, there was an explosion of fuel vapors inside the motor cowling. The next thing I knew I was all the way in the front of the boat where the explosion had thrown me.

The back-end of the boat was engulfed in flames. Just as I turned around, looking for my father, I saw him diving into the water, away from the boat, swimming towards the shore about 50 yards away.

Someone grabbed me from behind, throwing me into the water on the opposite side of the boat, away from the shore. When I came to the surface I felt something on my neck, like a leaf or weed; I reached up to pull it from my neck, looking into my hand to see what it was. Skin. I'd been burnt pretty badly, my skin already bubbling up.

I looked around to see a boat full of people coming towards me, arms reaching down, pulling me to safety.

I looked back, towards the shore, wondering what happened to my father.

There he was, sitting on the bank, alone...



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Be a Giver, not a Taker


Truth, Authenticity, Spontaneity, Service, Living in the Present & being Spiritually Fit are important to me today.

I have no time for dishonesty, delusion, invented or dreamt up internet created personas, treatable yet ignored mental illness, lack of integrity and/or personal accountability.

I've wasted too many decades with no purpose in life, other than that of me getting for me whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it. 

Self will run riot is not a valid inheritance.

I was taught to be my own God of judgment, while knowing absolutely nothing about anything, including myself.

I am getting better at life. I have come a long way in just 7 1/2 years, and I have a long way to go.

I've found that the longer I'm on this road, the narrower it becomes.  

This work will never come to an end. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Precious Time

3 years ago I was in Del Mar, California with boone, inc., where his most recent wife lived in the $35mm home she bought with proceeds from her sale of a portion of the Clean Energy Fuels (CLNE - Nasdaq) common stock boone was required to give her, prior to their marriage.

This, a union of two "people", both of whom I would categorize as insanely delusional, entitled and  omnipotent, along with being grossly immature.  A marriage that ended up looking like precisely what it was; a structured, contract based relationship; one where she was required to spend a certain amount of time with him, per week, attending x-number of social functions, etc.  

She had this new place, 3 hours from Dallas, where she was picked up and delivered, via private jet, several times per week.  She wanted nothing to do with Dallas. 

There's no way this woman would ever get on a commercial jet, voluntarily. I've seen her get off an elevator because of who'd just got on. 

During the trip to Del Mar, I saw/heard her walk into the Pamplemousse Grille one evening, loudly making the pronouncement that, "I've never seen so many ugly people in one room before."

What was that ?

I was shocked, did I hear her correctly ? Was it a joke I was not in on ?

NO

I'd just lived 709 days in hard core drug rehab, with people who'd become my best friends, incredibly wonderful people from all walks of life; people whom I loved for who they were, had been and were to be. We were all about truth, nothing hidden from each other, ever, truth always, because it was the only, the beautiful, the real.

And now, I'm forced to see and hear this. 

Why ?

Pitiful, hollow, a waste of time, in this, our lives of precious time.

I kept my eyes open.

I'm to stay at the home of wifey's twin sister - I'm barely a living creature in social status & of course, net worth($), barely above a rat or a possum, so there's no hotel room for me. 

I'm there to drive Mr Big around; so he never, ever misses a meal, receiving, swallowing and then processing his constant/random abuse, including having to listen to his non-stop:
  • boring natural gas bullshit, ad nauseam
  • same worn out resentments about the previous 4 wives who victimized him
  • current resentments/complaints about the new wife who's fucking with him
  • complaints/resentments regarding his "friends"; most of whom are dead & were not his friends, and how they fucked him
  • resentments/complaints about my siblings, their spouses and their children & how they've screwed him/are currently fucking with him
blah, blah, blah - you are so boring so shut up, quit whining, you're a friggin sissygirl put on a dress!

A few days later, during a CLNE/Nat Gas Act schmoozing session with Indiana Congressman Dan Burton, who's sitting directly to my right, the twin sister dumps her entire LARGE glass of red wine all over me and Dan - he's so drunk he never knows, even when I'm soaking the wine off the left arm of his jacket.

I'm wet, I leave.

Sister gets drunker, coming home where I'm working at a computer desk, and hugs my head with her huge fake titties enveloping my little bean head, knocking my glasses to the floor, telling me she loves me. I have no idea what she was up to, probably nothing, but you know me, I thought it was funny, especially when I re-enacted it, showing how my glasses were knocked askew. 

So, it's a funny story, that's it.

When I get home, I tell my wife - she laughs.
She tells my sister-in-law, who laughs.
Sister-in-law tells my sister :

TELEPHONE, TELEGRAPH, TELLPAM !

Pamagraph tells boone's wife, who's scared shitless the world will actually care when this scandal gets out, then,

Booneygirl summons me to his office & tells me that this incident has "caused me all kinds of problems"

I've heard this before: "caused me all kinds of problems", many, many times over the decades, never knowing what was behind it, scared to ask.

I'm curious now, so I ask him, "what kind of problems has it caused you?"

He scoffs; he cannot tell me, but I now know, intuitively.

It's that this, my father's 5th marriage, is crumbling; they fight like children and then his wife, this plasticized $35+mm prostitute, throws this story in his face as if it's my fault & his responsibility, every-time they spar, which, if this marriage is anything like the previous 4.....

Of course, this sissy buys it and wears it like any expert victim would, because now, he's got another resentment, and it's on me, the bad little boone & his favorite target.

It gets worse after this, as if he now has carte blanche to call me on the carpet, whenever he finds himself in his head going nuts, desperately needing a distraction, which looks like about 24/7 from where I'm standing

So, it becomes very clear to me that this nut-job thinks I'm the same guy he's abused, unabatedly, for the last 84 years.

I'm no longer that guy, hello !

Of course, a few days later, I get the email from (yawn) another paid enabling shill, Sally Geymuller, instructing me to show up for breakfast at, yes again, the friggin Park Cities Hilton.

I go to this ridiculous breakfast (I know, I'm an idiot) where he's got his barely paid, ass kissing, always on retainer, booze/food/sex addict divorce attorney with him. 

And, he's got a list of complaints:
  • the drunk sister event, which he has now determined is a lie, and just cannot quit obsessing over
  • I told Pamagraph that I liked my job because it was close to the driving range & I could go hit a bucket of balls instead of going to lunch - he says a "man" does not tell people these things
  • I took a second job, on the side - someone told him about this and this is not acceptable.
  • I should not be telling people I'm broke & need 2 jobs, which I tell people, because it's the truth
  • blah, blah, blah, some other bullshit I cannot remember because only a sissy like this clown could come up with such lame crap
I say nothing because it is nothing. 

Bizarrely obese Attorney says, "Mike, do you have a response?" he's mediating the breakfast !

I say, "no response to the list of ridiculous complaints, but I've got a comment on why I think we're really here:
  • this, your 5th marriage is in trouble, again, as usual 
  • you're 84 years old & scared of dying because you have no faith in God because you think you're God
  • you've lost all your money and your investors money, again, gambling in the markets, again
and, from where I'm sitting, your plate looks pretty full, so mind your own business, you've got plenty to do, if you've got the balls to do it, because you're running out of time."

He can't talk he's so incensed. His face is bizarrely scrunched up; he's totally out of control, mumbling "I never expected this meeting to turn out like this", but it's difficult to make out what he's saying because he's so enraged.

No peace, no joy; just blame, resentments, criticism, judgement.

I say, "look at you, no wonder you don't sleep, you're out of control, you are a complete mess"

Fatso grovels, "Mike, we're not here to talk about Boone's sleeping problem."

And this fuckwad attorney, who's been enabling, cosigning & otherwise blessing my father's bullshit for 25 years, so he can marry, divorce, marry, divorce, etc., collecting millions in fees each time they bring another mess to an expensive, in more ways than one, end. 

Whatever, That's it. Meeting over. I get up and leave, I'm done. What a pussy. What a joke. What a lie.

Then it hits me. This is who this guy has been, all my life.

He's come nowhere in 8 decades.

No Where.

Nothing.

Nada.

He's a 12 year old bully, on his playground, just like my LPC sister has been saying for the last 30 years. 

This completely powerless mess of a human, lives to exert whatever power he can, over others, in an effort to feel powerful. 

Good luck loser.

When I was a kid, I'd roll my eyes at his crap; he'd get so pissed, dragging me to his closet, whipping me with his favorite belt.

After he'd left the house, I'd go back in his closet and piss in the corner.

Fucker.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"IT" Stank


There was a haze, it was smoking. It seethed from his pours. It was not of my world.

I could see it, clearly, intellectually, as being fear-based, but it felt more like evil, like Hades. It smelled. It made sounds I did not want to hear.

It was a void, a vacuum; one of no joy, no love.

I knew I could never love it, this thing, this one planed entity so void of substance.

I moved away from it, instinctively. It came closer, urging me. Urging me to hear, to see, to validate. I knew now, in this moment, I could never go back to the past in my present form. I would never have to go back, for anyone or anything. I would never have to act like anything or anyone wanted me to, ever again.

I'd seen this, rarely, in my intervention work. I had laughed. These people had, literally, no power. They were simpletons, morons, twits. They were an unavoidable hindrance though, a part of the deal.

They beckoned. If we could just shift our attention to them, everything would be more interesting wouldn't it? We would not have to do this work would we?

They'd talk at me, incessantly, for hours if allowed; what they liked, what they did, what they'd done and what they wanted to do, always, for themselves. It was uncanny, eerie. At first, I'd just wanted to say "stop please, can we work on...", or, "hey, can you stop a minute so we can talk about your son....", or "sir, please if I may, please, sir...." or,  STOP you idiot can you stop talking about yourself for one frigging second!

But, my own Co Dependency keeps me from calling these fools out like they should be called out and stopped, for once. I'm learning though, slowly, that the very thing they need is for someone, anyone, to hold them accountable. When I get on this side of the argument, if I have enough energy left, I go after them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Story

Growing up, I had no structure. My parents were absent from my life. I was a good kid, rarely getting into trouble.  I was frightened of people, always the child that was quiet, drawing the very least attention to myself. My childhood was marked by physical, emotional, spiritual and mental abuse. I had my first beer when I was 12. I needed it. I had 3 more. I had found the cure for my fear.

My parents had a terrible marriage; my father hated my mother and she was terrified of him. He abused all of us. It was up to me to take care of my Mom. When my father abused her, I took care of her. She smothered me with kisses, pulling me too close for too long. It felt strange, but I knew she needed me. I was her little husband, the one that loved her unconditionally.

I found my mother’s PDR shortly after I began drinking. I could then identify her vast array of prescription drugs. Her bathroom cabinet looked like a pharmacy. Soon, I was taking her Valium & Darvon. Within a few years of drinking my 1st beer, I was snorting cocaine, eating benzodiazepines and barbiturates and tripping on LSD. I was a drug addict. I was 15.

My use got progressively worse, with my life becoming more unmanageable as time went on. It was an insanely slow and painful spiral down. I was 15 when I took my my 1st trip to jail for underage drinking. There would be 17 more jails, some more than once. Alcohol altered my brain like no other drug. The always present fear was almost instantly converted into a self-confidence I'd only dreamt of. But, along with the self-confidence came a reduction in my intellectual ability to reason. Alcohol made me fearless, confident and stupid. Not a good combination. I found myself in situations so bizarre, I could not explain how I got there. I know it looked like a train wreck from the outside, but no one in my family ever said anything, which puzzled me. I got worse.

My mother seemed to vanish the moment my father walked in the front door. I learned to listen for the sound of his car and those of his footsteps. When he was home, there was no love, there was no joy, only fear. Long, frightening, yelling and screaming "matches" were common. It was my father against us, always. He hated and despised all of us and we knew it. We needed to "run our lives in a business-like manner", he would say. I did not know what this meant. Business? Were we in a store or an office? What did he mean? What was he talking about? 

I know now what he was getting at.  He paid people to do certain jobs at his office. They did their job or he fired them. These people stayed to themselves and kept their heads down. This is what he wanted from us, at home. But, we weren’t paid, there was nothing he could withhold from us, to punish us, was there? He couldn't fire us, could he? We were a family trying to grow up, learning as we went, and we needed parents that were loving, understanding and wise. We were not a restaurant or a convenience store. He would come home from work for a short while to check on us, to weigh in on our activities, to judge and criticize, before going back to his office, coming home long after we had all gone to bed. This was the most confusing part of my life, and looking back on it, it was the most insane. 

When I look back at the Reality of my life; no parenting, handicapped with the mental illness of Codependency and the disease of Chemical Addiction, and on my own at a young age, I should not be alive today, or even in one piece. Many of my Junior High and High School drinking & drugging friends have been dead for years. It began in high school, with our friend Mike Hollinger. One hot summer night he decided to dive into a very shallow pond while tripping on LSD.  He broke his neck, paralyzing himself & nearly drowning, had Mike Sturdivant not jumped in and pulled him out. We slowed enough to visit Mike in the hospital and then in his home, where his bedroom had been converted into that of a hospital room equipped for a quadriplegic. I was saddened and shocked. My response ended there. We never put it in the light, where it belonged. Every week or so, Sturdivant and I would go to Mike's, load him into a wheelchair, then into the car. We had beer and pot, and a straw. We got him drunk and stoned; drove around for a while, then took him home, back to his reality. I never cried then. I do now. Mike died in 1999. He lived 25 years after his accident.

These were the early years of my life, which should have been important to me. Why did I not care what happened to me ? I wanted so much to be a good person, to be a good friend to others. Why could I not be good to myself ? Why would I not take care of myself ?  Why did I continue to put myself in situations that were clearly not healthy, in any way ? Why did I not do the right thing, for me ?  I had friends that were not drug addicts. Their parents were good people. Why did I not ask them for help ? Was I already so sick, so mentally ill, that I could not do what I needed to do ? Was I that weak ? I had wanted to die for a long time, but those days were over, weren't they ? I was long gone from the abuse, wasn't I ? Could I not see the truth? My life had already become a story comprised of bizarre, frightening incidents where I had miraculously ended up being just fractions of seconds or inches away from death. Why was I still alive? I had no idea what was in store for me. If I had known, I would've killed myself then. It is still so very painful. No one should ever have to go through what I went through. No one.

I continued to medicate my fears with various chemicals, my favorites being those that slowed my brain, blocking the fear. I only wanted to feel safe. Deep down, I always knew drugs & alcohol were a lie, but, it was all I had. It would be 40 years before I found the Truth of my Life.

Alcohol and marijuana were easy to get. All of our parents drank, making it easy to steal booze from our homes, or we would get someone to buy it for us. I had one buddy whose big brother was a drug dealer. Big brother made a trip to Austin every two weeks to buy quantities of high quality marijuana and cocaine. We anxiously awaited his return to Amarillo so we could sample his wares. We would always end up with a few grams of the best cocaine in Texas; we were 15.  Most of our mothers had prescriptions for Valium and other sedatives, along with barbiturates and pain pills. One mom was a heroin addict; another’s father supplied us with marijuana.

I struggled through middle and high school, barely making my grades. Drinking and drugging took up much of my free time. I was often hung-over and felt like doing nothing. When I did try to do my homework, in a house filled with chaos, it was impossible. If my father was around, he would instigate arguments with one of my sisters or my brother, or me, about something, anything, we were not doing to his satisfaction. He was a master at dominating these ridiculously insane arguments with his children, inventing additional evidence as needed, for the big win. 

When I think back on my childhood, all I can remember is my profound feeling of worthlessness, helplessness, confusion and fear. I still wonder what sort of perverse satisfaction my father got out of this, his own personal brand of child abuse.

None of his children has been successful in life. With our personalities formed around dysfunctional survival traits, we never had a chance. We have all struggled with tremendously difficult lives, each defined by its own variety of downstream wreckage, inherently the result of all child abuse. Interestingly, this is the current elephant in the Pickens living room, possibly the last of many over the years. You see, our father is now 84 years old, and professes to be a billionaire. In fact, Forbes Magazine says he is the 309th richest person in the United States. Wow, makes you think, how many people are poorer than he? Well, we all are pretty poor. None of us children has any material wealth to speak of. We have all struggled financially for years. But, we've all managed to look OK from the outside. That's the important part isn't it? To look good? No, it's not. In fact, it's pure bullshit. I want to feel good, on my own, with not one chemical on-board. When I finally got that accomplished, people told me I looked good!

My father finally fired all of us, filing for divorce and moving out the summer before my senior year of High School. My 2 older sisters had already left home to go to college, one of them had already married, secretly, vowing never to come back home again. The other sister was engaged to be married in the spring. I flunked out of the first semester of my senior year in high school. My mind was filled with suicidal thoughts. My father put me on an airplane and we scoured the state, looking for a school that would take me. I was a mess; I needed to be in a mental hospital, not out looking for potential crime scenes. He was in a hurry though, and he was not pleased with me.  In fact, he was pretty pissed off. This was more than embarrassing. He did not need this kind of crap going on. I was taking up his important time. I was taking him away from his most cherished addiction; making money, hoarding it, and using it to control people.

The only school that would take me was Schreiner Institute in Kerrville. Schreiner was full of children of divorce and the drugs that came with them. My roommate had opium shipped to him from his dad, who was involved in organized crime in New Jersey. We smoked pot & opium every day, all day, and got drunk at night. We blew the smoke into box fans, which were placed in our dorm windows, pointing out.  

Pharmaceutical drugs were always available. If I wanted a pill and had the money, it would be delivered within minutes. The school was in the Texas Hill Country, where it was very humid in the mornings; fog covered the landscape for several hours each morning. These were perfect conditions for psilocybin mushrooms to grow in the neighboring pastures where cattle were grazing. The little hallucinogenic mushrooms would spout up out of the cow dung each humid morning and on the mornings of the days we wanted to trip, we would be there, picking them gently and placing them in a paper sack for the trip back to the dorm where we would wash them off and eat them. 

I tried to escape the drugs, getting a job at the local airport, washing and fueling planes after school. I ended up taking ground school classes. I did very well, I was a natural, so I decided to take flying lessons, paying for the lessons with the money I earned there. I had many opportunities to fly planes, taking people or cargo to airports in San Antonio or Houston. We even flew a dead body to Houston one afternoon. These trips were free flying time for me. 

Soon, I was a licensed pilot. I had no chance to drink or do drugs at the airport, nor did I want to. I had a good 9 month reprieve from drugs and alcohol while getting my pilots license. I had no idea the disease of chemical addiction was growing inside of me the whole time, waiting patiently to rear its ugly head.

After High School graduation, I headed back to my hometown of Amarillo.  My parents were both remarried and had new addresses. My "family" had been blown apart. The home I grew up in was gone, along with my room and everything in it. I needed my bicycle, but my new stepfather wanted it. He had it locked up in a storage shed. I got drunk and went to his office with a knife. I wanted to kill him. I wanted to lash out at someone, anyone. I wanted a life back that I never had. It was becoming clear to me that I was on my own, and always had been.

Most of my high school friends had left town for various universities & were in their second semester of college life. My parents had never discussed college with me. I decided I needed to get a college degree. I would need to take the SAT exam to qualify for college admission. I planned to take the exam one Saturday at the local junior college.  I ran into a buddy before I got to the door of the testing site.  He had a marijuana joint.  We decided to take a walk & smoke the joint before we took the test.

I flunked out of college my first semester. My father refused to pay for any more books or tuition. I had no money. I needed a job so I could save enough money to go back to school.

Two weeks later I was driving a 3 ton bobtail truck in the Texas Panhandle oil field – it was a very cold January that year – I was making $2.10/hour. I worked 121 hours the 1st week, the overtime pay made for a pretty good check.

I ended up loving the job. There was no time to drink, but when I did find time, it was a few beers, nothing more. When I got there, I weighed 115 lbs. When I left 1 year later I weighed 145 lbs, and was in the best shape of my life. I felt good, being free from all drugs and much less alcohol.

I moved back to my hometown of Amarillo, enrolled in the local junior college and got a job running a Texaco station. Soon, I had reconnected with my old high school drinking and drugging buddies. I was off to the races, again.

What followed were decades of no accomplishment in any area of my life, other than getting married twice and fathering a son & daughter, each from a different marriage. Off and on, I would work long enough to save money for college, then re-enroll and barely pass or fail my courses. I could drink and drug while I was working, but it did not work while I was in school. I attended 7 different colleges around the state of Texas, amassing 100’s of hours, but I never earned a degree. It was 10 years of misery and failure, never knowing that my drinking and drugging were to blame. I was living a life of delusion and denial. I knew things were not right, nothing had ever been right in my life. I had no rational base to work from. I was 27 years old, an alcoholic and a drug addict. I was completely lost and had been lost since early childhood. So, I decided to get married.

The girl I married was a drinking buddy. She had a college degree and a job though. I was tired. I needed a rest. She went to work each day and I went fishing or played golf, two great drinking sports. We had a big time, with our alcoholic and drug addicted friends, having parties 2 or 3 nights a week, then again all weekend. 

I would work a job here and there, for a few weeks or months, save some money, then party hard for a few months. I was young and watched my diet along with making time for the gym, all of which made it easier to deny the damage I was doing to my mind and body. I became addicted to tranquilizers, which I needed to hide the shakes along with quelling the intense fear that seemed to never quit growing inside me.

I was never intervened upon, by anyone. There were 2 employers that tried to help, but no one in my family ever tried to stop me from killing myself. Many of my drinking and drugging friends were intervened upon by family or employers, ending up in drug and alcohol rehabs. Most of them I never saw again. They would go on to lead full, chemical free lives. Soon, friends would begin dying from car wrecks and other, often strange, accidents, overdoses, etc. 

I began looking at the obituary section of the newspaper first, fully expecting to see a name I knew, and several times I did. The obit never did say they died from alcohol or drugs, but I knew they did; they were too young to have died from anything else.

During my drinking career, I completely totaled 6 cars, all of which were one car wrecks, all of which I walked away from, unscathed but extremely drunk. I only pled guilty to one DWI, almost 30 years ago. I was taken to jail numerous times for DWI and Public Intoxication. But, I would hire another attorney, plead guilty to a lesser offense along with paying a hefty fine, then continue to drink and drive.

The members of my family of origin are all addicts. To them I served an important purpose. They needed to point their fingers at me, and away from themselves. On the outside, I was the worst. I was the one that moved every few years. I was the one that wrecked the cars. I was the wild one. But, now I know, they are all just like me, or, just like I was. Today, with an extended family of 30+ people, I am the only person in Recovery from addiction.

My emotional growth had stopped, at age 12, when I found that alcohol did a very good job of getting me out of my head. When I truly got clean, 40 years after my addiction began, it was absolutely necessary that I grow up emotionally or I would have an extremely difficult time living life as a 52 year old instead of a 12 year old. I had a wife of 19 years, a 23 year old son and 15 year old daughter when I began my journey down the road to true sobriety. I had much growing up to do.

The FBI intervened on me in 2005. I had gotten very sloppy with my work in the Wall Street world. Sloppiness came with being addicted to opiates and benzodiazepines’ for 10+ years. I was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for breaking a Federal Securities law the summer of 2005. The FBI sent 2 Federal Marshal's to our small horse farm, where I lived with my wife and daughter, then took me to the Federal Courthouse in Wichita Falls, 60 miles away, where I was arraigned on the felony charges. I thought nothing of it. Just another problem with the law, I thought. I would have to hire an attorney and pay a fine, again. I was back home for dinner that night.

The crime I had been charged with was Securities Fraud. I had been paid, in free trading common stock, to promote 3 penny stock companies. Penny Stocks are stocks that trade for under $1, usually on the Pink Sheets or what is known as The Bulletin Board. These companies are not SEC reporting companies. For the most part, they are companies that have fly-by-night business plans, little to no money, and managers that are usually crooks themselves. The only currency they have is their common stock. I was a promoter. I was always paid in stock. My job was to get the stock price and volume up. If I increased the price and liquidity, I could sell my stock. One of my tools was fax blasting. I had the ability to transmit 1 million faxes in 15 minutes. 

No one had ever been charged criminally for sending faxes. People had been sued in civil court by the FTC and the SEC. But, my last name is Pickens. My father is T. Boone Pickens. Why did the U. S. Attorney decide to charge me criminally? Visibility, that's why. They made sure my story made the news headlines. They notified all the major news services each time there was a hearing. They even had a courtroom sketch artist show up to the hearings. 

Soon, I realized this legal problem was not something I could fix with a slick attorney and some cash. These people, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, wanted to put me in a Federal Prison for as long as they could. They had found all my money, stocks, bonds, etc. They entered my office and home with an axe. They took all computers and files. I had one small bank account they did not find. I hired experienced, expensive lawyers in New York City to defend me. They told me I was going to spend at least 10 years in prison.

I was assigned a pre-trial release officer. I was not to consume any alcohol or illegal drugs, at all. I was to only travel between Texas and New York, and I was to get permission to do so, every time I traveled. I was subject to random drug testing.

A few months later, while still on pre-trial release and free on bail, the day after another dreadful status hearing in Federal Court in Lower Manhattan, I decided to hook up with an old drinking and drugging buddy and go fly fishing in Connecticut. It never occurred to me that I was jumping bail. While there, I bought and drank a quart of whiskey and ended up in jail, again, in New Haven, Connecticut. 

There are only two drugs that withdrawal from can cause death, benzodiazepines and alcohol. Xanax is a powerful benzodiazepine and I had been on a high daily dose for over 10 years. In jail, without the drugs, I began to see and hear things. After the 4th day, I had a series of seizures. The riot squad officers picked me up and threw me into a cell. When I regained consciousness, I was in terrible pain. I knew I was severely injured. Even though I was physically unable to run, I was running, in my mind, making plans to have a friend pick me up in a small jet and fly me out of the country.

Two days later, Nate, my attorney, showed up to get me out. I could barely walk. I had not eaten or showered in almost a week. I felt like I was on the verge of death. I was in extreme pain. When I told him what had happened, he said, “You just want some drugs.” “Yes, I do!” I replied. We walked to the train station in New Haven, on our way to Grand Central in Manhattan.  As Nate went into a store in Grand Central to get himself a cookie, I laid down on the marble floor, watching the feet come and go past my head, wondering, “is this my bottom?”

Nate took me to several detox clinics across the Hudson River, in New Jersey, all of which refused to take me. I could only lay on the floor in these facilities, trying to ease my pain. Finally, he took me to a hospital. It was midnight when we got there. They took x-rays of my back and a few minutes later the doctor came in and told me my back was fine. Nate had gone back to Manhattan to get some sleep. The hospital wanted me out of the ER. I had $40. 

I got a cab to a cheap motel, rented a room and got into the hot bath. I had never experienced this level of pain. Nate hired a private investigator to find me the next morning. The PI found me and encouraged me to go back to same hospital, but in an ambulance this time. My back was x-rayed again. A few minutes later I saw the doctor coming down the hall with a nurse behind him. She had a large syringe in her hand. I had 4 broken vertebras in my back.

The next morning, on the way downtown to my bail revocation hearing, we cut a deal with the federal prosecutor. We would ask the judge to allow me to go to a long term drug and alcohol rehab, instead of jail, while I waited for trial. 

The judge granted our request. As she addressed me, Nate whispered, "stand up Michael" while grabbing my arm, helping me as I struggled to stand. "Mr. Pickens," she said, "if you do not follow all directives where you're going, I will lock you up across the street until your trial, do you understand?"  "Yes, your honor", I weakly said.

Judge Loretta Preska is a wonderfully poised woman.  She looks the part.  She is direct, to the point, and no nonsense.  She knew all the players.  She had attended Law School at Fordham, during the same time my lead attorney, Charles Stillman, was there. They knew each other socially. I had stumbled onto Stillman, while looking for an attorney to represent me, shortly after I was indicted in the summer of 2005. I was perusing the internet looking for a particular attorney that had been involved in the Tyco case a few years prior. I just happened to see a photo of Charles Stillman on a page that was full of attorney photos; I knew when I saw his that he was my man.

I was taken to a short term 28 day rehab to detox from the benzo’s and deal with my broken back. I was there for 25 days. I completed the program. I was then transported to Alina Lodge, in Northwestern New Jersey.

Alina Lodge has been in existence since 1957. The Lodge has an impeccable record, like no other rehab in the world. “Students” at Alina Lodge do not know when they will be released, until a few days before. A Student is not released until everyone on the clinical side of the facility gives a green light; this includes the counselors, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and facilitators.

It's a tough program, one without any distractions. No TV, no movies, no music, no books, no magazines, no telephones, no internet, no computers, no caffeine, no looking at or talking to the women, no exercise, no carpet, no locked doors,  and no, well, no nothing. There are no exceptions, for anyone, none. The 1st year I was there, I counted 204 people that were admitted into the facility. There were 32 graduations. People jumped the fence and ran off.  Friends came and rescued them.  Family came to get them. Some got kicked out, usually for only two infractions, fraternizing with the opposite sex or fighting.

Breakfast is at 7am and the day ends at 10pm. Each day, 7 days per week, is filled with lectures, small groups, specialized process addiction groups and chores. There are Big Book groups and Twelve and Twelve groups. This is long term rehab where every waking moment has a purpose in the process known as Recovery. By the time a Student at Alina Lodge is ready to be released, that person has had the equivalent of 10 years of Recovery work on the outside.

Counselors stand in line to be a part of Alina Lodge, where the turnover is low. There is no other place like it in the world, and it is a privilege to work there and to be a Student there. There are 80 beds, which stay full.  Alina Lodge is non-profit, and has the lowest daily rate of any rehab facility in the world. The counselors are the very best in the business. These people are on the front line of the fight to save lives, important lives, from the disease of addiction. They all take their jobs very seriously. Students at Alina Lodge have all had previous stints in other, shorter term rehabs. Some have been admitted to as many as 30 or 40 rehabs before they get to Alina Lodge.

Alina is not a stopping off place, or a place to take a vacation from bad habits. Alina is a place where an addict can get well. It is a magical place where, ultimately, nothing but truth exists. It is a place where a person will find out who they are, and why they are on this earth. It is a place where one is afforded the opportunity to grow up and take responsibility for their own life, gratefully. For me, it was all of this and more. Alina gave me everything I needed to have a life I had never had, even before I picked up my first drink. Alina gave me what my parents did not have to give.

I hated the Lodge when I got there. I was the ultimate critic. I know today that judgement and criticism are the very simplest of mental activities a person can develop. I was taught to judge and criticize; it kept me from dealing with my own pain. I was very very sick when I got to the Lodge. It would be awhile before I could begin to get well.

The alcohol was gone from my body, but the drunken behavior was very much present. Soon, I had my own crew. We hung out together, we ate together. We criticized and judged together. We threw food at other tables and we made up clever nicknames for the girls, who sat on the other side of the room during meals and lectures. Soon, I was given an assigned seat during meals and lectures. This disbanded my crew. My meal fun was over. I stayed on assigned seat for 6 months. When I got off, it was only a few weeks before I was back into a worse assigned seat.

I had two very distinct and obvious problems. One, my body and brain were packed with the accumulation of chemicals I had been ingesting for 40 years, and two, these chemicals had changed my brain chemistry. Alcohol and my other drugs of choice were depressants. They slowed me and they depressed me. So, I was sad and I was slow. It was difficult for me to follow a serious conversation; one which required I pay attention and think. 

My IQ when I got to the lodge was 105. I had retarded myself. No wonder school was difficult for me, I was always under the influence of something during high school and college, always. It was going to take months before the chemicals would leave my brain and my body and only then would I be able to begin to change the way I perceived and thought about things.

It became clearer to me, over time, that I was in real trouble with the Federal Government. They wanted to put me in jail, period. They had an ironclad case. I had broken the law and I had been caught, red-handed. But, I was win/lose, and I was going to win. I would go to trial and win, I would be exonerated, and the FBI would lose. 

I was insane; delusional with no faith in anything but me. Faith in a higher power? The God thing was something I never wanted anything to do with. God was just another authority figure. I had plenty of those.

Church was a place I went with my family to look good. We got dressed up and argued all the way to church, went to Sunday school and then into the Church we went for the Sunday Sermon. Afterword, we met and had lunch at the local cafeteria with 6 or 7 other families. Then, we would load back up in the station wagon and take a ride around town, past the homes of those “friends” we had just been with at the cafeteria and church. As we drove past each home, my father would pass judgement on the fathers in these homes. Usually, he had done business with them, or played golf with them, or he may not have known anything about them. According to him though, these guys were all bad people in different ways. It must have been their solid family commitment that scared him, something he knew nothing about. 

There was no love. I wondered what he said about me. I wondered what he said about my Mom and my sisters and my little brother. It made me sick to my stomach. I felt guilty. I loved my friends and I loved their parents. When I went into their homes, I felt something that was not present in my home. What was it? I would discover what it was at Alina Lodge.

My legal situation was a blessing. I had no access to chemicals, which would have allowed me some escape.  I had no access to TV or the internet, which would have also allowed escape and access to information I had no use for. I did though, have access to people that were very healthy emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Both Students and staff. These people suggested I pray, not for myself, but for others. I was advised to journal my feelings and to share my thoughts and feelings in the small groups.

Slowly, I began to listen. I began to pray. I prayed for the Federal Prosecutor, whom I despised. I prayed for the Federal Judge, whom I feared. I prayed for my attorneys, who told me I was going to spend 10 years in prison. I prayed for those that had helped me along the way since my arrest. I prayed for my counselor at Alina, whom I adored and respected. I prayed for my wife and children whom I loved dearly and missed. I began to sleep through the night. My blood pressure dropped. My mind began to clear. I was feeling better, without drugs or alcohol. 

I had been at Alina Lodge for 8 months when I caught myself daydreaming. Slowly, I was becoming human again. It had been decades.

Every 2 or 3 weeks I would have what I called a breakthrough. It was usually in the form of a realization of truth, an awakening. I was waking up to life. I was finally growing up, with the help of the people around me.  

I soon began to see the clinical staff as members of my family that I had never had. My primary counselor was like my big brother. The Clinical Director was the wise Uncle I never had. My Psychologist was the Father I never had. We were a big family, the students were the children, and those with the most time at Alina were the older, wiser children. This was a successful family. Sure, we had Students who jumped the fence and ran away, or those that were rescued by their parents or their boyfriend or girlfriend. But those Students that stayed until the staff said they could leave went on to lead full lives with their own families. They came back to the Lodge to tell us about their lives. They told us their lives were much more than they had ever dreamt they could be. This got through to me. We became contributing members of society. We added to the stream of life. We had changed and we changed the lives around us. 

Soon, I began to understand why my counselor, who was paid almost nothing, had been there for 31 years. These dedicated, experienced, smart and accomplished people loved their work. They loved to see people get well. When a student left, he or she went out into the world and touched other lives. The work being done was changing the world, one Student at a time.

Today, I’m grateful for the FBI. Their actions put me in a place where I was able to stay long enough to get sober, or as the Big Book says, to have a Psychic change, a personality change sufficient for long term Recovery. This takes time. I had been a rebel all my life. I hated authority. I had been doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, for 50 years. I had been at war with everything and everyone. It was natural for me to fight my own abuse when I was a child, yet abuse is not normal. Abuse causes trauma in a child. Trauma causes addiction.

Working the 12 Steps of Recovery causes a capitulation, a surrender. Surrender is a state of mind. With surrender comes peace and serenity. The very peace and serenity I was looking for in chemicals, I found in working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was truly a miracle. I did not do it. I owe everything to my higher power. I am not religious, I never was. I am spiritual. Spirituality is the answer to the human condition. Without spirituality, we have nothing. There are many religions, most all of which have been formed to bring people together for spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is necessary for a human being to lose self. When a person is able to remove themselves from self-centered pursuits, they are able to connect with others, on a spiritual level, a level of complete truth.

22 months after my back was broken in the New Haven jail, I returned to the lower Manhattan courthouse to be sentenced for the crime I had pled guilty to. I had full faith that I would receive the punishment I deserved; nothing more, nothing less. If I were sentenced to prison, I was prepared to get started with my work there. 

Judge Preska sentenced me to 5 years of probation. It had been almost 2 years since I'd left my family for a 5 day trip to New York City. I was finally going home. 

On the plane ride to Texas, John McShane, my father's, always on standby, divorce attorney, came to where I was sitting on the plane. "We had a bet you know", he said. "A bet?" I asked. "Yea, your father and I had a bet on how long you'd go to prison, I bet you'd go for 4 1/2 years and your father bet you'd go away for 6." He turned and walked back down the aisle.

Why did they want me in prison?

I knew then that more would be revealed.