For God’s Sake Don’t Mention You’ve Been To Prison! You’re Not Habilitat!

Using Mugshots for Your Headshot

There’s a well known drug treatment program here in Honolulu named Habilitat. It was founded by someone who, like me, was a Native New Yorker. Bonnie Marino was a charismatic leader. The programs strength seemed to be the magnetism of his personality, although he could certainly be quite rude. Habilitat operated on the principle that there is therapeutic value in humiliation, both public and private. I can’t believe I lasted six months in a place where you were stood in front if the 200+ member family and called any name as long as it wasn’t racial and didn’t constitute a threat of violence. I protested to Habilitat staffers that “bitch” and “whore” were not healing words, but an extension and perpetuation of the rampant misogyny among addicts. No one cared what I thought. Nothing is perfect. There were beneficial aspects if the Habilitat program and if anyone is interested I can tell you some stories. The most intriguing part of the program was that Vinnie Marino, and all of the other top staffers, had their mugshots enlarged to poster size. Lists of all the criminal charges they had accumulated in their drug days were placed under one mug shot. I don’t know how they picked the best mug shot out to represent each one of them. Past and present directors were shown, like pictures of the presidents of the United States one sees in federal buildings, except the presidential pictures don’t have any captions other than date of tenure. The Habilitat program is a fixture in Hawaii. Many prominent, wealthy donors have always supported Habilitat. People come from all over the country to join the 2.5 year program and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege. Vinnie Marino left fruit that still remains and he used his criminal history as a selling point. Could I do the same? Use my criminal past a selling point for my blog and my as yet to be discovered products?

No talk of prison!

No, people don’t understand. No, people will not accept you for who you are. At first. You can’t lead with the prison thing. Vinnie Marino probably didn’t lead with ‘Im an ex-con, let me tell you about Habilitat.’ He probably drew people bc of his success, and then told them who he was. No one’s perfect and everyone knows that. But you have to have enough sense not to put your weaknesses on your resume and not to tell your deep dark secrets on a first date. Get your readers first. Then tell them about prison.

A long time blog fan giving me much sought after good advice that I just didn’t take. Isn’t it ironic?
It is too late to unring the bell and hide my past. I can’t put my best foot forward so I just offer you my foot (lol). If you’re a reader you probably know already I am an alum of two very different institutions–college and corrections. Moreover, you are aware that my life now is not like most of the people who grad from Harvard or the Women’s Community Correctional Center (Double U Triple C, WCCC). My unique, honest personal story is I have tales of addiction driven street sex and related issues, and I use the skills my elite education gave me to artfully tell you all about being a hooker. Do I appeal to a narrow niche? You betcha. Still, I’m delighted to have a niche at all and someone other than spell check for a reader.
What’s most important is not to be imprisoned by thoughts that make me tell myself I can never make it work. I won’t be my own warden.