pod Martin Lockett
Deb: welcome back to the alcohol tipping point podcast.
I am your host, Deb Masner. I am a registered nurse health coach and alcohol free badass. And today I have Martin Lockett. Martin is a writer, speaker, and substance abuse counselor with a master's in psychology. He served almost 18 years in prison for a DUI that tragically took the lives of two people.
Who happen to be volunteers in the drug and alcohol recovery community. Martin chose to honor them by dedicating his life, to helping others through addiction, counseling, and drinking and driving prevention. And so I am honored that you chose this. Show to share your story, Martin, and, and just help others navigate their lives.
And I'm sure they're interested to hear about your life and the impact of this really traumatic event. So how about we start with just real quick, like how'd my intro go. Do you want to add to that just about who you are and, and what you do and where you're calling from right now?
Martin: Well, thank you so much for having me.
It's truly an honor to be here and no, your, your intro was spot on. I'm doing this interview from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Don't call it a state. They will be highly offended. But I really indeed, I guess so. But I'm born and raised in Portland, Oregon. So I've only been out here several months and I am trying to get established here actually, as we speak with the DUI victim impact panels throughout the, the district attorney's offices and the mad organization and things like that.
Deb: Oh, that's great. So you're in Pennsylvania now. I thought you were closer to me, but it kind of all started in Oregon though,
Martin: right? It very much did. Yeah. So I, yeah.
Deb: Yeah. Well, tell me like your story, your experience with drinking and, and what led to that event.
Martin: Sure. So I grew up in Northeast Portland in the eighties and it's vastly different today.
It's, it's been gentrified and upgraded and you know, like a lot of cities around the country, but it was a very, very impoverished. Crime ridden neighborhood. There was, you know, gangs fighting for territory, drug dealing drive-by shootings, prostitution, you name it. And so my parents, I grew up with both parents.
Thankfully, they, they did everything they could to kind of shield my, my three siblings and me from all that chaos. I remember my dad, he, he enrolled us early in, literally. Baseball and pop Warner football and wrestling and Cub Scouts. Right. And so we had all these things going on outside of school that kind of kept us from that chaos, you know, as time went on, however, That changed because I was a really shy kid growing up.
And so it was very difficult for me to talk to girls and meet new friends and things like that. So I remember when we were going from eighth grade to ninth grade, my brother and I, I have a twin brother in fact, We very much looked up to a cousin of ours. He was only one year older than us, but he was a notorious gang member in Portland.
Everybody feared him, women or girls loved him. He had it, he had it really going on. And so we kind of just tagged along with him as much as we could. And that's where the trouble began. We started to ride around in stolen vehicles. For popularity. And I remember the first time I had drank, he had taken us to a party and there's all these people there that, you know, we otherwise could have never, you know, hung out with.
And he brings my brother and me a beer and we're looking at each other thinking. There's no way we can drink this. I mean, mom and dad would kill us. Right. They didn't, they didn't raise us like this, but we're also, you know, considering the fact we're amongst all these people who, that that's what they're doing and in order to be accepted, we gotta drink.
So I remember I took that first drink or coupled SWS from that, that beer, which was horrid. I mean, it was just terrible, but it, it, it just, you. It totally took me outta my shell. I was able to just, you know, freely talk to people and I'm laughing and I'm just totally having a good time. The social anxiety went away and I just felt like I could really.
Be me, right. I didn't have to live in this, this quiet, shy, awkward shell anymore. And so, you know, from that point on, we didn't drink daily, but it became more or less a regular thing. We started to skip a class here and there go joy riding and stolen cars. You know, stealing cheap wine from the, the corner store, going to the park, hanging out, smoking cigarettes, smoking marijuana.
Meanwhile, our parents had no idea what was going on because dad's working hard at the shipyard. Mom's health had started to deteriorate. She, she had never been able to work because of her health. So she stayed home to take care of us kids. But when we got into high school, her health started to deteriorate.
So we were gaining independence, running the streets. Mom, couldn't really, you know, physically mentally you know, challenge that. And so it, it, it was kind of a, you know, we did what we wanted to do. Started going to juvenile detention hall, getting arrested for stolen vehicles, placed on probation at that point.
Our parents did kind of put their foot down. They, they, they made us stop hanging out with our family member, who they blamed everything on because of, you know, the way we had gone. And You know, I started to think about my life a little more seriously at the age of, of 16, but let me say this. So when I was going to those Cub scout meetings back when I was 10 or 11 years old, and you gotta remember I'm growing up in an impoverished crime written drug-infested neighborhood and 15 minutes away at our Cub scout meetings, it was a middle class, white neighborhood.
So. We're. I mean, it's a totally different world. Manicured lawns, no trash in the street, clean homes, nice furniture. And, and I'm, I'm starting to think in my 10 year old brain, why is it that I'm thinking all black people live this way that I live and all white people, right? You just see it in very concrete terms.
You don't understand, but this is what I'm internalizing. And I'm thinking is something inherently wrong with me? That I have to be confined to living this way. And my white classmates get to live a totally different way. And so that's kind of where the insecurities started to take root. So fast forward when I'm 16, 17 years old in high school, and really starting to, you know, kind of see a ceiling on my life because everybody around me.
They're not doing much, right. They're selling drugs in the neighborhood. They're going to jail or working, you know, at a fast food restaurant. And so I'm thinking well, is, is, is this all my life is ever gonna. Like, no matter how much I saw myself as capable or bright or, or, or, you know talented in, in some areas, I just didn't see any examples around me that showed me that I could be anything but that.
And so that's when the drinking really took on a different form because now I'm starting to drink, not just for a, as a social lubricant, but I'm drinking to self medic. Right. As many of us do, trying to numb the pain. And I literally, I remember I would lock myself in my room and turn on some sad music and drink from the time I got home from school, until the time I passed out at night, I would just drink.
And so this persisted throughout high school, I did not graduate high school while I fell about two credits short, despite my efforts in the last couple years to try to make up some credits that I had missed during my, my first freshman and sophomore years. And so at that point I had accepted the fact, well, not graduating high school looks like I'm not going to college.
Looks like this is my future. So it became drinking every day. It became you know, selling drugs, carrying a gun. And even though I was doing those things, because I felt like that's what guys around my neighborhood did, right. To gain status and notoriety and things like that. A sense of importance. I knew at my core, that was not.
I wasn't raised that way. I had great loving parents. I had a nurturing household. We got, you know Christmas presents and birthday presents and new clothes at the beginning of every school year. And we were taught the right values. Right. But there was these external social pressures, you know, as I'm trying to navigate my identity and, and, you know, figure out who I'm, who I'm gonna be in this world, that just became too.
So it was just easier for me to just kind of drown my self pity than a bottle of, of alcohol. So that became my life throughout my, my adolescent years.
Deb: I'm curious, you know, since you have a twin brother and you grew up in the same neighborhood, same setting, like, did he feel the same way about alcohol and was he insecure also?
Martin: You know, that's a good question. My brother, so we were pretty much adjoined at the hip, right? I mean, our mom, you know, traditionally as most parents. Twins dude dressed us identically and things like that. We did all the sports together. We started to drink together, skip school. However, thankfully when my brother turned 18 or shortly before he turned 18, he actually started to really consider his future.
He was very good with his hands. As he learned a lot from my dad, he would follow him around while he would, you know, work on people's cars and fix appliances. So my brother went to job Corps at 18 and graduated. And he's been, he's been a, a journeyman carpenter for the last, I don't know, 25 years or so now he loves it.
So thankfully he got, he got his act together. Me, on the other hand, I, I went a different route. At that time.
Deb: Yeah. Can you share what happened with the accident and how old you were?
Martin: Sure. So actually let me just say before the accident or I, I, I'm reluctant to call it an accident and, and I'll say, because.
When, when you make the I'll albeit very distorted decision, it's a conscious decision. I knew when I was extremely intoxicated, I should not have been driving. Right. I knew that. And so, because it was preventable I I'm, I'm, I'm reluctant to call it an accident and I, I refer to it as a fatal crash or fatal collision just to make that distinction.
But let me just say before that happened at age 19, I was. The mastermind as the district attorney coined it to an armed robbery that I had conspired. Some friends of mine at the time. And I was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for that. I was fortunately, you know, I had the support of my family.
Of course they were devastated about that, but they stuck by my side. They encouraged me to get my G E D and to, you know, return to my Christian roots and things like that. And I wanted to make them proud. So I certainly did that and I kind of cleaned up my act. And, you know, graduated from a boot camp program.
Valedictorian that allowed me to release early after serving three and a half years. So I'm 22 years old. I returned to my parents' house. I'm working a job at a warehouse I'm attending treatment groups in the evening. I enrolled in community college courses with aspirations of becoming a nurse.
Everything is good. I'm not drinking. I'm going to church. Everything looks good. But because of that, you know, my addicted brain now wants to convince me, Hey Martin, you're good. You're in control. Look at everything you're doing right. You can have a drink. There's no issue with that. You're not the same person as you were three, four years ago.
You can control this. Lo and behold, I start to drink again. Of course, my parents didn't know it at the time because I'm putting up this facade. I'm, you know, living this great life and being responsible. And I'll say, because I, you know, I got my license and I got my first car and I saved up money. You know, I'm paying my bills.
I moved outta my parents' house. I'm living with a, a girlfriend I had met in now in Vancouver, Washington, just about 30 minutes from Portland. So on the surface, everything looks good. My, my boss loves me at, at my job. Everything looks good. So even though I was now drinking daily, right. I still did not feel that I was in danger of anything, despite the fact that I was literally drinking and driving every single day.
Because of course when we're intoxicated, we think that we're great drivers. Right? Of course, we don't think that anything bad is gonna happen. I never been pulled over. I'd never gotten a DUI. So fast forward to new year's Eve of 2003, I had gotten off work early because of the holiday. And we're, we're about to wrap.
For the day. And I can distinctly to this day, hear my boss joke with us and say, now you guys go out and have a good time tonight, but don't let me wake up and see you on the front page. He literally said that. And of course I laugh it off and I clock out and I head straight to the liquor store where I bought a fifth of Jen.
I then proceeded to my parents house to hang out with my twin brother. and, you know, we had made plans for later that night to attend a friend's house party. So I drank that fifth of Jen over the next few hours. I then went back to the store where I bought 4 24 ounce cans of beer. Now for you quick mathematicians you'll know that that is 96 ounces of beer.
That I consumed between the hours of about five and eight 30 that night. So then my brother and I decided we would go to another friend's house in the meantime to hang out. We didn't want to get to the party too early. So we get to that friend's house. And the three of us drink a pin of Hennessy together, and we kill some time.
It's now about 1130. We go to exit his apartment and his mother, as we're walking out the door is playing this day. I remember her saying now you guys be careful tonight. You. Of course we, yes. Ma'am yes. Ma'am yes. Ma'am. We had no intentions of being careful that night, obviously. So we get in my vehicle, we go to the party.
We have a great time. We see a bunch of old classmates drink, more alcohol of course, bring in the new year. Everything is good. We exit the party at about 1215, and I take my friend home without incident. And now let me just say that, that, that neither my brother, nor my friend, you know, thought twice about me driving, despite the fact that I had been drinking all day, because if I'm being Frank, very sadly, all of us did this every day.
It, it was the total norm to drink, you know, A load of alcohol and drive very sadly. And so I take my friend home without incident. I get back onto the freeway to take my brother home. And at this point I'm just, I'm just feeling totally exhausted because I've been drinking all day. I think I'd had one meal.
From pop highs earlier about four 30 in the afternoon. And I just want to get home so I can go to sleep. Cause I knew I didn't have to work the next day because of it being the first. So I began to pick up my speed to about 80 miles an hour and it, it makes my brother a little nervous. He says, Hey man, you know, you should slow down.
You know, the police are out, you know, it being the holiday and all. And I thought that makes sense. So I went ahead and slowed down and then we continued to drive. Take the exit. Now we're driving in a residential area and again, I just wanna get him home. So I begin to pick up my speed now to about 60 miles an hour.
And he's, you know, this, he really loses his patience with me and he yells for me to, to slow down and, and I tell him just calm down. I got this. We're gonna be fine. So we continue for about 10 more minutes and then he suddenly realizes that he's all out of cigarettes and he says, Hey let's before you drop me off, let's go up to the Minimart up the road so I can get some cigarettes I'm all out.
And I'm thinking great. Here's one more stop that I don't want to have to make. So we continue to drive for a couple blocks. And then about two blocks from that intersection, there is a yellow light and as intoxicated as I was. I knew I was not gonna make this light. There was no way I was gonna make this light, but it didn't matter because in the split second, I had made up my mind, I'm not gonna wait, I'm gonna go right through.
So I immediately punched the gas and I'm almost tunnel vision, not seeing anything to either side of me and I, I accelerate quickly. I'm in a newer model vehicle. And before I knew it just, just a massive earth shattering. And then my, the airbag embellished my face and my car comes so slow, winding halt, and it's like, everything is going in slow motion at this point.
I immediately look to my right and I see my brother who appears to be okay. So I'm somewhat relieved. And you would think my first instinct would at that point be to go check on the people I had just hit, but in my very superficial brain, I'm more worried about my, my, my. Right. It's my prize possession. I worked hard.
I loved it. So I'm walking around my vehicle. I'm, I'm assessing the damage. And of course within second licensed sirens were everywhere. So the policemen are on the scene and, and they're talking to me and they take my brother a few feet away to talk to him. And then the officer had confirmed to me about, I don't know, two or three minutes into that interview confirmed what I had intuitively known to be true, which was the person who was lying on the pavement.
Had died. They were actually, the impact was so great. They were ejected through the back windshield and onto the pavement. And so I'm placed under arrest and we head downtown for processing and I'm in the back seat. Now it is devastating enough to know that I'm responsible for taking a human life. Right.
But I'm also conscious of the law in Oregon, which is the mandatory minimum law for DUI manslaughter. That requires. 120 months otherwise known as 10 years, day for day, you do not get out early for, you know, good time or, or good behavior or working a job or getting an education. Nothing doesn't matter 120 months, day for day bye-bye.
So I'm processing this as much as I can in that moment. I'm also simultaneously listening to the police radio as there's a lot of chatter, as you can imagine about the crash. And I hear what sounds like another passenger, unbeknownst to me had been pronounced dead at the scene. So I asked the officer from the, from the back seat, I said, excuse me, sir.
Did I just, did I just hear correctly that there was someone else in the crash who died? He said, unfortunately, yes. I mean, you can just imagine how much I sank in that moment, because again, now I'm responsible for two human lives. And I also know that I'm not coming to home for about 20 years at the age of 24.
So that was, that was the beginning of this long tumultuous journey that that led me here today.
Deb: Wow. I I'm sure that like you have relived that night over and over. Like, I mean, just hearing you tell it, like the details and everything. So what I mean, I, I don't even know what to ask next. Right? So there you are.
You're 24 and you. You know, I had this tragic event, this crash and, and then what was life in prison? Like what happened next?
Martin: So let me just say that everything changed for me. About three or four days later when I'm in my, my cell and I'm just minding my own business and I noticed that someone has slid the Oregonian newspaper underneath my door.
And, and I, I didn't understand why I didn't ask to see a newspaper and I pick it up and I begin to thumb through it. And I see my picture on the front page of the, the Metro section of the Oregonian and the columnist is, is detailing the lives of my victims. Now they're, you know, these faceless victims become people.
And these people had an incredible story and I'm reading about their lives and how they were addicts, who had turned their lives around and were now living in recovery. And they were very involved in the community, as you mentioned, and they. Were actually coming home from a clean and sober new year's Eve party that night when they were killed by a drunk driver.
And the columnist ended the article with the statement that that frankly shaped the next 17 and a half years, which was quote, perhaps the person they will have ended up helping the most is the man who's charged with killing them in quote. And in that moment, I knew that those words were profound. Right.
But I couldn't fully grasp what they were supposed to mean for my life. Because again, I know I'm looking at 20 years in prison at the age of 24, something you can't even fathom, but I, I couldn't ignore that phrase. So I literally meditated on that phrase. Hearing it multiple times in my head for the next several months.
And I prayed, you know, for, for, for God to, to show me reveal what those words were supposed to mean for my life. And then it, it came to me that the only way this tragedy will, will not be in vain is if I carry on their legacies, if, if I literally make it my life's mission to do everything I possibly can to ensure that nobody else follows in these same catastrophic footsteps.
So I determined to do that. I didn't know what that was gonna look like. I didn't know. I didn't even know at that point how much time I was gonna do in prison. I knew about how much time I would do. I didn't know what opportunities would be available to me. So I get to prison about five months later, I've been in the county jail for a year.
I get sentenced. I take a plea bargain for 17 and a half years day for day. I knew my mom would not be alive when I came home. If she, her health had been deteriorating, we lost her three years later. Lost my dad a year after that. Very surprisingly. But I committed to this process, so I get to prison and I, I knew I needed an education.
If I'm gonna be a substance abuse counselor or, you know, have a platform to tell my story. I have to get an education. So I started with taking at the time they offered one community college course at a time for 25 bucks, which was not a bad deal at all. So I didn't have a degree plan. I didn't know how to go about getting the degree.
I just figured if I take enough classes at some point they'll they'll give me, they'll give me a diploma. Right. That's that's how it works. I don't know. And so I did that and, and. But I'll say, you know, when I lost my dad three years later we were able to get life insurance money and his pension and things like that.
And so I thought, well, what better way to use that money than invest in my future and give myself a, a good chance of success when I'm outta here. So I then be able to take distance education courses. So we don't have. In Oregon prisons at all, not even, not even a little bit. So I took, you know, distance education courses through Louisiana state university that I paid for.
Everything is paid for out of pocket. There's no government pay grants, thankfully they're coming back next year. But at this point there's none. So I took Indiana university courses and I kind of parlay all of that into an associate's degree in 2010. I then went on to get a, a bachelor's in sociology from Colorado state university.
At that same time, I started writing my memoir in my prison, cell pen and paper. Very old fashioned way. And then I went on to get my master's in psychology in 2016. Now, during the same time, I'm tutoring inmates in their GED curriculum, but I'm also able to, because they, they saw the way I was doing my time.
I wasn't. Walking around the yard with my chest, puffed out, trying to be the tough guy, right. I'm going to school, I'm taking college courses. I'm tutoring guys. I'm even volunteering to tutor guys on the housing unit when I'm off of work, right. Working on math and are struggling. And so guys saw that I was consistent in that.
So as you can imagine, the young guys. Who felt like they had to put up this facade to be respected amongst the other inmates? When they would see me walking around the track by myself, I did a lot of time by myself because I didn't want to get affiliated or mixed up with the wrong group. And so they would seek me out and they say, Hey man, you know, I see, I see, you know, you working as a tutor and you know, I've been thinking about getting into education, but then that would lead to a conversation about life.
Because at the end of the day, there's so many guys hurting in prison and they have nobody to turn to and be vulnerable with. Right. So they saw me as a safe space to do that. So we were able to talk about life and their future and past, you know, traumas and concerns and fears and things like that. And it was really, really rewarding.
And it just reaffirmed the notion that counseling is exactly what I'm supposed to do. And so I was able to. Transferred to another prison. I'm about five and a half years from release at this point 26 20 16 transferred to another prison. In fact, the only prison in, in, in the Oregon medium level or medium security prison, where there's an actual drug and alcohol program, you would think they would be widespread as the majority of us in prison have some issue with drugs and or alcohol, but very sadly.
Those programs are only available to about 5% of the Oregon prison population, just a travesty, but I was able to transfer to that one prison. I completed my master's degree and I met with the director of the, of the drug and alcohol program. There's no sanctioned program that says, okay. You can get your clinical hours through our program and become a certified counselor.
Right. But this guy had been so established in the prison for like 25 years that he did pretty much what he wanted to do. So, because he saw my enthusiasm because he saw my commitment to my education. He. You know, provided this unique opportunity for me to work under him and get clinical hours toward a state certification as a substance abuse counselor.
So I went through the program as a participant first for about seven months, learned a lot more about my addiction and his origins and, you know ways to be able to identify, you know, relapse warning triggers and set healthy boundaries and all those things that are required for a, a healthy recovery.
Then I was able to then use that and start to mentor guys one on one facilitate the group, things like that, and got certified as a recovery mentor in 2018. And then as a substance abuse counselor in 2019, around that same time, I started to tell my story. DUI victim impact panels within the prison. It was a new program.
They had started where they would have volunteers from the community come into the prison and they would talk to 50 inmates who were there voluntarily about how they had lost a loved one to a DUI driver. Right. And then. After they would speak. Then one of us from the inside would tell our story about how we were the offender in that dynamic.
And when you talk about, you know you know, restorative justice for those who are familiar with the restorative justice model. So, you know, it's, it's more of a communal healing mechanism, right? So it, it, you know, for it, When we offend society by, by committing a crime, right. We create victims. And so the pain is, is felt by the community in large part.
So if the pain is felt in a communal sense, then it would also make sense that the healing has to come through that communal. Mechanism or setting. And so when you have those who have offended, be fully accountable for what they've done fully remorseful for what they've done, looking to make amends for what they've done, then that, that, that reestablished, that communal bond.
Right. And it, it, it, it, it shows that somebody still has value as. You know, come outta prison back into their community. They're embraced hopefully by the community because of this process. And so it was just, you know, it, it was so cathartic for guys and I'll just briefly share a quick anecdote just to, to show you how, how powerful those, those panels were.
There was woman who would come into the prison and somebody had killed her daughter, like 20 minutes prior on a motorcycle. She's a beautiful young woman, 18 years old had her whole life ahead. The guy who had done it never showed contrition, never apologized. You know, he had a wo me mentality, this isn't fair.
I'm going to prison. This was the mistake, the whole thing. Right. So she builds. Understandably, a lot of resentment toward this person and frankly, anybody who had committed this type of offense. So she comes into the prison and she, you know, you can, you can feel the tension, right. As, as she, she's kind of, you know, looking us up and down as we're walking into the room, she tells her story.
There's a lot of anger there. And then the guy who, the inmate who spoke after her, who was in for DUI crash as well, he started by you. Telling her that, you know, he's so sorry that this guy never apologized. And he said, he said, I understand that I'm not him, but please accept my apology on his behalf for what he has done to you and your family.
And, you know, just those few words, right. Just kind of stepping in and being the Surro. , you know, she stood up afterwards with tears in her eyes after he had spoken. And she said, you know, I know you're not the guy who did this to my daughter, but I had been waiting to hear those words for over 20 years.
And the fact that they came from you, you know, it, it, it means so much, you know, and she started to come in after that and her demeanor was lighter. And she started giving guys hugs, you know, it was, it was, there was just a lot. Powerful healing that happened in that room. So that was when I also knew that it it's also my, my duty and, and frankly, my honor to tell my story at DUI victim impact panels outside of prison walls.
So I did that. I transferred to another prison with about two years left and was able to do some more good programs and got out last June 28th. So I'm very close to my one year Ann. I have you know, gotten a job as a counselor and a suicide prevention specialist. And I tell my story at panels across the state of Oregon and, and other states remotely.
And here I am with you today. Yeah.
Deb: Wow. What a, what a powerful story. And I really appreciate you sharing your experience and how, I mean, you are really honoring. Those people affected in that crash. We had kind of touched before we started recording about forgiveness and, and like your, your Example of the woman who just wanted someone to say they were sorry.
So how do you navigate your own forgiveness, like with you and your situation? Like how personally did you navigate forgiveness and have you forgiven yourself? Have they forgiven you? Like, can you share that.
Martin: Sure. And it's a really, really great question. So obviously when this had happened, I harbored a ton of guilt and shame for what I had done.
I mean, these were beautiful people. It didn't matter what lives they were living. They had a right to be alive. Right. And I took that from them, but the fact that they were doing so much incredible work and the, the community was just. As you can imagine when they heard about this. And so now I'm carrying that weight on top of knowing that my family is hurting because I'm not there.
And, you know, just, just dealing with the whole fallout of it all. And, you know, I, I again returned to my Christian roots. So I prayed for forgiveness. I felt that that. You know, God had forgiven me and, and miraculously, when I had my sentencing and they, they stood up for the victim impact statements, three of the four family members of both of my victims or all three of my victims, I'll say cuz two were killed and one was injured.
Had forgiven me, had explicitly expressed forgiveness for me in that moment. And so I, I, I, I knew they had forgiven me. I felt God had forgiven me, but there was just no way I could forgive myself because I felt, and during that time I felt that if I forgive myself, then am I really, you know, kind of honoring them.
Right. Because I shouldn't, again, I told myself, I shouldn't be able to just kind of, you know, be happy and be joyful and, and like, appreciate life. When they're not here anymore, they lost their lives because of my senseless reckless actions. And so I need to feel. The pain of that. Right. I felt that was my way of kind of honoring them.
Yeah. I was still doing the work of my education and learning about addiction and doing all that stuff. But there was also this emotional component that I felt I had to sit with if I was really, truly honoring their lives. And so what that looked like for the next three years. So for, for the, the, the one year I was incarcerated and then two years after that, when I got into state prison, every December, I remember this vividly every December.
I would relive that day from the moment I woke up and kiss my girlfriend goodbye to go to work at six 30 in the morning to the time I was being hauled downtown for processing on two counts of manslaughter and assault. In the first degree I lived it and. I was not, you know, as happy around the unit, I, you know, my workouts had started to fall off.
I was, you know, very active in working out and things like that. Like the whole month of December was about self condemnation. And I felt in some strange way that that was me honoring their lives and what had happened. And so it was a very self-inflicted depressed state and it wasn't until. Again, three years after this had happened, that I finally allowed myself to forgive myself.
And I think I did that by saying, Martin, you made this commitment to truly honor their lives by pouring everything you had into helping others who are struggling with this disease so that others don't have to follow in your footsteps. How are you truly going to step into that space when you are mired in.
Shame and guilt and, and self pity, right? We only get so much energy in a day and we get to decide how we're going to expand that energy, how we're gonna allocate that energy. And if I'm, I'm literally spending, you know, 50, 67% of that energy into this just horrible space, then it's taking away from any positive, constructive you know, way of, of spending that energy.
And so, you know, that was kind of my breakthrough. I mean, I continued with my spiritual journey and, and, and asking, you know, for God to allow me to feel forgiven. Right. I knew he had forgiven me, but now I needed to feel as though I had been forgiven. And there's a difference, right? There's a cognitive understanding of being forgiven, but there's also that very emotional, deep seated feeling that you've been forgiven.
I was responsible for a large part of that. I had to forgive myself. And when I did that, it was such a huge weight that had come off of me and I was able to fully step into that space and really, you know do, and, you know, do the mission. I, I, I said I was, I was gonna do. And, but, but I get it. I mean, I get it for, for so many people.
You know, it, it, it goes along with the same notion that you have so many people who will bend over backwards to do anything for anybody. Right. But they won't let anybody do anything for them. And so, again, it's just, it's just allowing yourself to you know, to, to know what you deserve. And to allow that to happen and quit putting up roadblocks that, that prevents that from happening, but it was a long, arduous journey.
I, I will make, I will you know, make no bones about that. It was, it, it was the difficult journey to navigate.
Deb: Yeah, I bet. Well, now that you know, here, you're almost a year out, what, what has your life been like? What is it? I mean, you were 17 and a half years incarcerated. Here you come out in 2021, the world has changed.
Martin: The world has changed drastically. And you know, it is one thing you, you have the news and you have TV and you're seeing the trends. You're seeing the politics. You're seeing the, you know, social upheaval. You're seeing all these things go on the world, but really we were isolated, right? I mean, we're living in a whole separate.
World a whole, we had our own community. It was, you know, it was, it was by and large you know, secluded from the rest of the world. And so you can only kind of mentally prepare yourself as much as you can. Before you are actually in it and then really start to see what things are like and, and, and how things are.
So obviously technology was the biggest hurdle still is, but you know, thankfully I've had, you know my family and, and my fiance and just loving, supported people that I met along the way. Because I had, you know, put, I had put myself on these, you know, pen P websites. And so I had gotten a lot of mail from people all over the world that I was able to communicate with via email.
They had tablets at that time, they had gotten these little electronic tablets that would allow us to exchange electronic messages with the outside world. And so I didn't feel. I didn't feel that, that, that I wouldn't have any clue as to what was going on out here when I stepped out. And so, you know, when I got out.
It was, you know, downloading apps and, you know, you have to have a username for every app and then you need a password and I'm starting to do this. And my fiance's like, Martin, you better start writing these down because you can like, you know, this one needs this character, this one needs that character.
So that was a, I had never even had an email before I went in. I literally never had an email. You know, the phones when I had gone in, I had the little Nokia. Little phone didn't have a camera. So like, if I remember in 2003, when, when, when this had happened, if you had a camera on your phone, like you were just, you were it right.
Like nobody had a camera. So, and so I got an iPhone. I asked everybody, well, you know, do I get an iPhone? Do I get an Android? And they said, well, the iPhones are more user friendly. So I'm like, yeah, give me simple. I need simple. So and that's, that's been the case by and large. And so the technology has been.
Not too bad you know, socially, you know, the bathrooms and like there's, you know, unisex bathrooms and, you know, family bath. And so that's all different. The cars are, they just blow my mind. I mean, they blow, they're like big computers. I mean, there's just a big compete and it's just, it's just, wow.
Like what, like, you know, I've been to The Bahamas. I went to I one on my first cruise last. Went to The Bahamas. That was amazing. I jumped out of an airplane two months after I got listen. I'm afraid of Heights. And I literally jumped outta air 14,500 feet in the air because it was never on my bucket list, but here's the thing.
And this is what I realized is that, you know, getting out after 17 and a half years, when I'm told you can't do this, you can't do that. You can't do this. Like when you get set free, you wanna do everything right with just because you can. And so when, when friends were saying, oh, Hey, we're going, you know, we're gonna go surfing.
I don't even know how to swim. I'm taking swim lessons now, but they're like, we're gonna go surfing. And I'm like, well, I don't know how to swim. They're like, we'll just put on a wetsuit and like, just get in the water a little bit and we'll make sure you don't drown. Okay. Let's go. Right. I just wanna do. I went rock climbing and, and, you know, I went to Vegas for the first time and I went to my first concert in Baltimore.
I mean, just, you know, life has been absolutely, absolutely incredible. And here's the thing, you know, before I got out, if I'm being honest, you know, I'm about six months to release at this point and I'm starting to wonder if life is going to be boring. Without alcohol, because prior to prison, I had only ever drank when, whenever we did anything.
And so that trepidation is there. Right. And let me tell you now, coming up on a year that couldn't be further from the truth. Like my life has been incredibly fun and amazing and rewarding and fulfilling. And the beauty in it is that I can remember what I did the day before. And there is not a price you can put on that.
So I am very blessed.
Deb: Oh, I love that. Well what are your plans for the future?
Martin: So I love my job. I literally love my job and helping people through addiction when they call in and helping people through suicidal crises. So I look to hopefully advance in my, in my position. I've done some speaking to D U I victim impact panels.
As I said, I want to continue with that. I like to be able to get into high schools and, and colleges as well, where a ton of drinking happens. So I haven't navigated those waters yet. So in 20. 20 the rest of this year and, and going into, you know, the next school year, I'll be looking to hopefully connect with some principal and vice principals and people like that, school boards to see if, if, if they have a desire to bring me in to speak.
And there's a few more things on my bucket list. I wanna go to the grand canyon later this year, hoping to be able to do that. And of course I wanna leave the well, I mean, I left the country already, but I want to go to Europe and so more travel. But definitely more things in the realm of public speaking and really getting the message out there.
And eventually someday, I don't know when I hope to be able to go into private practice. I like to be able to do that. I don't know if I'll pursue a PhD at some point to, to kind of make that easier, but that, that is the ultimate goal. And really just to be utilized wherever I can in helping you know, young people.
Not follow, you know, go down that path of addiction and feeling like they have to turn to drugs under alcohol to be accepted or to, you know, fit in or to, you know, numb the pain that there's so many resources out there. So many people who would love to help if you reach out to them for that help.
And so I just wanna you know, propagate that message.
Deb: Yeah, I think that's so great. I mean, I would love to have you back just to, you know, this was a chance part, one to share your story and part two to share like your knowledge. Like you mentioned that you work a lot on drinking and driving prevention.
And so I think that is. And you said you worked for mad to the mothers against drug driving or volunteer with them. Is that
Martin: right? Right. So I've spoken at, at one of their panels, they did one in Oregon that was geared more toward the youth. So I've spoken, so I've, I've got a few different speeches that I deliver.
It's all my story, but I will emphasize certain. Parts of it, depending on obviously the audience. And so I'm gonna speak to a room full of adults first time, DUI drivers, a little differently than I am 16, 17 year olds who are just starting to, you know, mess around with alcohol and drugs and have gotten a little gotten in some trouble with the law, but it's not too severe.
Right. So my message is gonna be a little bit different when it comes to them. So, but yes, that was an honor to do that about seven or eight months ago.
Deb: Yeah. And I find like, Mothers against drunk driving. I'm I'm glad you mentioned them, cuz I'm like what happened to that? Cuz I feel like one of the things that has changed in the last 20 years is women and drinking and we used to be, we were the ones that led prohibition and we used to be the, you know, we were mad mothers against drunk driving and we now have become the drinkers and the rate of women and alcohol use.
Skyrocketed. So I think that's interesting and I'm glad that that organization is still around. And then, you know, we can talk about like more helping other people navigate forgiveness in their own lives and navigate, dealing with regret and shame and. Just freeing themself. Like you were able to let go of some of that and free yourself.
And now here you are living your best life and you're helping people. And I just think that's so powerful. So I wanna thank you very much for being on the show today.
Martin: Absolutely. It was again. Totally my pleasure. Thank you for this, this platform. And thank you for the work that you do to, to tell these very critical stories that no doubt are, are, are very helpful to the public.
So thank you for what you do.