A New Freedom and a New Happiness

The Promises

**This week’s post is written by my pen-pal Nichole Barry-Kroger. Although we share a last name, and though I now think of her as a sister, we are not actually related. Nichole is currently serving an eighteen month prison sentence in a South Dakota women’s facility for driving while intoxicated.**

For a long time, I thought the promises in the Big Book were something that didn’t apply to a person like me. I just didn’t ever look forward to them happening to me because I, of course, must be unique. My past has been full of people who had regularly told me I was useless, stupid, fat, ugly, and the list goes on. My self-esteem was drug down so low that I thought it could happen for everyone else, but not for someone as stupid as myself.

Now, I sit here in prison at the age of 39, not even feeling sorry for myself anymore. While I was awaiting sentencing, I was in an outpatient treatment, aftercare, got a sponsor, had a recovery coach, went to three meetings a week, and got involved in church again.

These were all great things for me because I can cope a lot better with my situation now. I would be lost and possibly using if I hadn’t done all of these things. I have twenty-eight months clean and sober as of right now. I sometimes look back and wish I could have done all of these things before it came to all of this, but this is what it took, I suppose. Of course, I get down and sad, and sometimes really lonely for my family, but it passes.

I know I have a great and bright future, and my family is anxious for me to come home. In the Big Book, on page 83, it says, “We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.” I used to wonder what that would even feel like, but now, even in prison, I can feel that. I actually feel happiness and hopeful for once in my life.

Sure, I still have the promises coming true because it doesn’t just happen all at once. I still regret the past sometimes and feel guilt over it, but I don’t want to get drunk over it. I still fear people sometimes and economic insecurity, but time will get me over these things with God and AA. I look forward to helping others with these same problems and being useful again in our AA and church communities. Even from prison, I can see that the AA promises are coming true for me, and they can for anyone if you put the work in.

God is definitely doing for me what I could not do for myself!


4 thoughts on “A New Freedom and a New Happiness

  1. BTW. There are a lot of women here in South Dakota 🙂 that are looking for good positive women to write to. When she gets out of this joyous place she is planning on working on helping other women like her. There is zero recovery there so I’m very proud of her. They cut aa meetings to one every 2 weeks there. She has served 20 months of a 28 month sentence now. Part of it was broken up she was out for 7 months in between.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kevin, thank you so much for your post. (I edited North Dakota to South Dakota!) Nichole is amazing. Its so good to hear that she has come to a place of acceptance and gratitude and contemplative on how she can use her experience to help others. I know she has helped me. Talk to you later.


  2. So, Ann, how did you come up with the idea of getting a pen-pal? Is this something your students do as well? How were you led to a pen pal that is in prison? I think it’s wonderful.


    • Hey Kristen! To answer your questions, a year or so ago, a guy reached out to me to tell me he liked my post. His last name was Kroger, and since I have never met anther Kroger I wasn’t related to me, I had to reach out to him. I found out through conversation that his wife was about to be imprisoned. I asked if I could write to her, and the rest is history.

      As for my students, no, I don’t really talk to them much about my personal life, and students being students, almost none of them have ever Googled me to find out.

      I know there are organizations here in Houston that will connect pen-pals. When Nichole gets released, I will work through them to receive another pen-pal. Writing Nichole is a very honest and humbling experience. It helps keep me in gratitude. If feels a bit like sponsorship: you think you are helping someone else, when in reality, they are helping you.

      Finally, I got your email about the bookmarks. I will address it personally, but if anyone else wants a bookmark, I do still have a few kicking around. I can mail them to you. They’re free. And I am thinking of doing a t-shirt in the near future to help support the cost of my blog. That won’t be free. 🙂

      Anywho, thank you for the questions and for reaching out. I think it’s great when people say hi. It lets me know at least one person is reading my blog. Lol. Have a nice Tuesday!


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