In prison support means everything, if you don’t have anyone on the outside, like family or friends, “time” can be much harder. I mean, imagine going through years of this with no one. No contact with anyone on the outside.
The first 4 years of this incarceration journey of mine were spent just like that, completely alone.
Feeling like nobody cares and no one was there, mixed with the mental anguish that comes from knowing you’ll spend YEARS of your life incarcerated is MORE than enough to drive a man INSANE.
It came very close to doing just that to me. This was WAY back at the beginning of my sentence, too. I was only about one year into the 7 ½ years I would have to spend gone from the world.
But during that time instead of allowing myself to be beaten by all that I could not change…all that I had endured already just in that first year alone, and knowing I would endure 100 times that in the 6 ½ years I had left-I reached a conclusion.
I had a revelation.
I quote this from a story I wrote called “the tipping point” that was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Readers Choice.
“Loneliness can do one of two things to a man. It can cause him to give up, abandoning all hope for his own self, or it can install in him a drive to find something better, no matter how much negativity he must overcome first.”
Loneliness…if you know this feeling, it feels like “failure”. It was a failure that I had always been that led me to incarceration and ultimately loneliness.
Something had to give.
Something had to change.
Well, at absolute rock bottom, in a jail that I have to consider one of the worst I’d ever been in, where everyone was “snitching”, and I was looked at like I was crazy for not trying “to give back” some of my time. In a jail where just a few years prior a good friend of mine had killed himself and thoughts of suicide haunted me constantly. I VOWED to find something better.
I vowed to no longer be the same lonely failure I had been my entire life thus far.
I devised a plan.
My plan to work as hard as I could EVERYDAY toward changing my life for the better in any and every possible way that I could.
My art and my cartoons became like life support, as did my writing.
These things most certainly gave my life some sort of meaning when it otherwise seemed to have none what so ever. Instead of dwelling on how all alone I was during my birthday and holidays, I would draw or write.
Mentally I would be focused on the bigger picture, that through my art and my writing, I would find success.
Against all odds!
No matter what!
Failure and loneliness became mere hurdles, and what is a hurdle if not only something that stands in our way, waiting to be cleared.
Every day I worked as hard as I could, from that point in time more than 4 years ago (Remember I spent my first year incarcerated barely hanging on by a thread) all the way to this point as I write this, and I still spend every day the same way: trying to make the most of this…working toward a much better life.
In the 5 years and “some change” that I have been “locked up”, I’ve “hurdled” quite a few obstacles.
I’ve had some of my work published in a few different magazines and even a Chicken Soup book.
I’ve met an amazing woman who believes in me and my work as well…and what I consider most important to all of this…
I’m never giving up.