I loved the movie The Green Mile. It wrenched my heart, but I still loved it.
The same cannot be said for a recent experience that I will ever remember as The Gray Mile: a long, empty, silent, seems-like-it-goes-forever, gray-painted, gray-floored, gray-door-lined hall leading to the visitation room in a county jail.
The Gray Mile may not have been designed to instill hopelessness and trepidation, but it certainly felt like it was. The Gray Mile was the longest, loneliest, most hope-sucking, unanticipated walk of my life.
Life is too short to waste our time in gray miles of addicted, altered, hopeless, fog-like states of being, and it’s certainly too short to wander down gray miles of misery and failure.
Life is to be lived, and celebrated; it’s about opportunity and hope and looking forward to something better. Life should be experienced with fresh air, and joy, and love, and bright, vibrant color, and excitement, and learning, and growth!
Nothing can grow in The Gray Mile. Take my word for it. Nothing.
My advice is to avoid The Gray Mile at all costs…unless, of course, a loved one sits at the end of it. In bright orange. Behind glass. That loved one is worth every miserable step.
For him, I would walk down That Damn Gray Mile as often as it would help him break through the gray of his day-to-day existence. And every time I walked it,
I would encourage him to try and look past the gray bars, to think beyond the gray haze, to leave The Gray Mile behind for good, to step out of the grayness and get the help he needs.
I would walk The Gray Mile as often as needed to encourage him to find his center again, to banish his addiction, to rebuild his self-confidence, to refocus his thoughts, to remember that he is a child of God, and that he is my son, whom I love unconditionally.
And I would walk The Gray Mile to tell him that I haven’t lost hope, that I haven’t lost faith in him. I would tell him that I still believe, I still remember, and that I will never give up.
I would walk The Gray Mile to make sure he never forgets that I am here, hoping for the day when he is ready to be clean and sober and happy again.
I hate The Gray Mile. It wrenches my heart. But I would walk it every day just to tell him that I love him.
People ask me why I do what I do. This is why.

Jean Krisle is the CEO/Founder of 10,000 Beds, Inc. a 501c3 nonprofit organization. Our mission is recovery. We are currently #OnTheRoad4Recovery for at least a year to elevate awareness, change perceptions around addiction and recovery, and connect with partners new and old. You can connect with Jean at the 2017 ETHOS conferences in Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and New Orleans. You can support 10,000 Beds by making a contribution today to help provide scholarships for those without resources seeking help for addiction.