Letter from Gado Van Nguyen Regarding Case
Disclaimer: The client named in this article has given his Attorney, Steven H. Nakano, permission to publish his name and his story. Furthermore, the client gave Mr. Nakano specific permission to publish his written letter to the Judge in his case. It is the hope of these clients to inspire future clients to turn their lives around.
May 16, 2018
To Probation and Judge Chatman,
Question 1: What I did? How? And Why?
On the night of December 29, 2016, I fired two shots into the air from the sunroof of my vehicle. I was at the same bar where I was attacked in the past by a couple of guys. I did not want to go to that same bar on that night. But, my friends wanted to go there that night. I was being compliant with my friends. I saw the same people who had attacked me in the past when I entered the bar. I was scared and uncomfortable and I had a gun in my car for protection.
During that time, I was not sleeping well. I was drinking and using cocaine. Even though I was not facing the people who had attacked me while seated at the restaurant, I was beginning to feel paranoid. I felt out numbered and felt that the staff at the bar were trying to lock me inside the restaurant and were plotting something against me. I also felt that the guys who had previously attacked me were following my girlfriend, Karen, that night. I was drunk and stupid and feeling jealous and angry at the same time.
I managed to leave the bar unscathed that night and felt relieved when we left the bar. When I left, I yelled out, “Happy New Year” to my friends and fired two shots like a “showoff” as I drove away from the bar. As luck would have it, there were two police officers right across the street who heard the shots and immediately pulled me over.
I realize now that my life was completely a mess at that time. I was drinking and using cocaine. I was trying to “balance” my cocaine use with alcohol or pain killers. I was not sleeping well and I was hearing voices in my head. I was often paranoid and thinking that people were plotting things against me and were always whispering whenever I came around.
Question 2: Why I feel that I should be placed on probation, and what I will do to avoid further contact with law enforcement.
I have been living at Amicus House Residential Recovery Program since February last year, 2017. I also saw a counselor whose name is Ken Deaver, who came to Amicus House to see me at first. I spent two months in the Primary phase of the program, because I was still hearing voices in my head. I have learned a lot about myself while in recovery and in counseling with Mr. Deaver.
In the beginning, I was hesitant, like most people entering the primary phase of Amicus House. I remember being resistant and trying to adjust to the program in the first couple of weeks. I lost sleep. I was depressed. I was hearing voices in my head and thought that everyone there was plotting against me. I felt very uncomfortable. Amicus required me to complete a second month in primary. I didn’t understand.
But, slowly I began being compliant with the program. I began meditation with the group and doing yoga. I was cooking and eating better. And, I got to know the other residents better. I began to feel okay. I began to tell myself that even though it seemed like the counselors were trying to break me down, that I was ready for it and I was willing to see what the program had in store for me. I felt very compliant despite still having some anger and stress related to some of the other clients and staff there. I started slowly to surrender.
I didn’t know that writing would relieve so much stress in my life. Doing group assignments and writing about my autobiography helped me to begin “looking within myself.” Starting the first few steps of AA seemed vague and incomprehensible to me.
My word of affirmation was, “Higher Power-higher learning.” I was more intrigued with the program. I began to tell myself that I am a “compliant client.” I became “willing.” I realized that I am here “for me.” I am here for myself! I have help, if I want it, but that I cannot change unless I “become willing.” I finally worked up my courage to meet my sponsor, Zane. I called this guy every day.
He took me to more meetings and took me in as his sponsee and was willing to guide me through the 12 steps of AA. We started at the first step. I began to realize that I do have a problem with the disease of addiction. I am powerless over alcohol and drugs and that my life became unmanageable. I am powerless over that first drink. I’ve gotten into a lot of trouble and have caused myself and others so much pain and suffering. These steps will begin to unfold and make a huge difference in my life.
My sponsor told me that, “Willingness is the key that will open all of the doors.” He said that he could sense that I was very close to discovering higher power. And, as I got up to step 3 and through meditation, I found and learned to connect with my higher power. I became more appreciative and grateful. Things started to make more sense to me. I became “alive.” The air smelled beautiful. My surroundings became more vivid. Nature looked and felt wonderful! I felt good as a human being for the first time in a long time. I began to understand the “miracle” that my sponsor was talking about.
I am looking deeper within me to find most, if not all, of my “defects of character.” I learned that I carry a lot of anger through jealousy and being resentful for things that happened in the past. I can finally move on in my life after asking my higher power to help me get rid of these character defects. I can finally “clean house” and move on.
Working with my sponsor and having the help with my conscious contact with God, I’ve continued to do more inventory of myself and rid myself of even more shortcomings. Every step of AA carries a principle. It has helped me to adopt a new way of life. I have learned how to write these principles and to process it. I have learned how to forgive myself, to forgive others and how to make amends with those whom I have harmed in the past. It is with these teaching in the program that I can continue in my road to recovery and move along on a better journey.
I never knew the great importance of making “amends” with my past” and to continue to make “living amends.” If there is one great thing that being in the program and being at Amicus House that has taught me is being “greatly humble.” I now pray to my “higher power.” And, I pray selflessly. I do right by God and continue to do so, as I am a child of God. I practice compassion. I no longer harm myself with drugs and alcohol. And, I will not harm another human being with the addiction that I once lived. I have learned that I have a purpose and it is to help others.
Although, I have not gotten a sponsee yet, I will continue to go to meetings and be around people in recovery. I will eventually get a sponsee (or a few) and work with them and guide them. I will give them the gift that was given to me. I will make a difference whether it is in one life or many. I want to make great changes.
My name is Gado Nguyen and I feel that I should be placed on probation because I have gotten my life together. I still do at least 4 AA meetings per week. I also have a sponsor whom I meet with at least once per week. I’ve developed new friends while in the program. Not longer have the same friends that I had in the past. I have completed the 12 steps for the first time with my sponsor and have been clean of drugs and alcohol for about 15 months. I no longer hang out at bars or places that would potentially get me into trouble.
I work in the construction field and am pursuing my apprenticeship as a carpenter. I have gotten closer with my family members and no longer have resentments. I learned how to make amends and have rid myself of most of my character defects by doing self-inventory while working the steps of AA. I am also looking to sponsor people with addiction and with alcoholics while going to meeting as I was once helped by my sponsor. I will keep the message alive. I know that I cannot afford to suffer another relapse. I know the consequences if I do use and drink alcohol. I want to be a good role model for my daughter, Sophia. I am on the right track and I am willing to continue to do so in the program and outside the rooms as a good citizen.
I want to thank my counselor, Mr. Deaver. I want to thank Amicus House. And, I want to thank Judge Chatman for believing in me and for giving me this one chance to get my life back. I am so very grateful.
Gado Van Nguyen