Before I was arrested, I lived a life of privelege. Yet, my infidelity, deceptive business practices and indecisiveness made me a poor father-figure, a bad husband, and a faithless friend. Playing drums at my church, I knew I was not the right musician for the job. I was living like a heathen. In fact, I was living the very opposite of the way I WANTED to live, like anticivilization. As such, I never saw my true potential, the essence of who I was.
I would go and wake my wife with a kiss, make breakfast, get the kids ready for school… then call my girlfriend and tell her I’d be over shortry before she was off to work or school (depending on the day). It was how I would begin my day of charades.
Soon, my girlfriend is pregnant, and my life of lies and deceit comes crashing down around my head. Even my own family deserted me. My wife (#2) moved on. The girlfriend went to anyone who would give her attention with no hope of my meeting the daughter growing inside her. Also, since the girlfriend was white and I’m black, and her family was definitely not okay with that, there’s little hope of my meeting her anytime soon. They’re racist jerks.
My early days in prison, I spent in a federal hold up north. I was depressed and despondent, really. Imagine seeing YOUR face on America’s Most Wanted. It made me want to tide in my cell. Then I read newspaper articles that described me in a fashion I’d never want repeated. I went from 260 pounds to 200 in less than a year. Threats and taunts followed me from New York to Texas.
While incarcerated in Beaumont, I was in my first fist fight since leaving high school. It was over a TV show. Some gang members thought several of us had beat up one of their own. Actually, it was only me. Everyone in the dayroom scattered, closing their cell doors and leaving me to deal with this gang of gorillas. How to get out of this mess wasn’t cleat to me at all, and thought I was about to be clobbered by eight huge black guys over a stupid TV show! Finally, when the truth came out that it was only me, not a “click” where several people jump one man, they beat up their own “homie” for lying to them. Then, they told me, “You better beat him up, too, boy, or your next.” So, as I’m headed to where I’m supposed to fight this dude, I tell him under my breath, “I hope you’re a good actor. You better act like I’m beating you to death, or I’ll have to do it for real!” Well, it all worked out, and there wasn’t a scratch on me. That was the first time I knew I was shown grace in prison.
What really gets beat up in prison isn’t your body.
It’s your self-esteem. An officer made a false accusation that I attacked him after he’d locked me in a closet. And then even though I pleaded my case, I ended up with a more severe custody level (G4 instead of G3), making me look like a violent offender. Even though I’d been an inmate volunteer in the church for several years at that point, strong in my faith, I felt deserted by the church, because I saw none of my brothers, or very little of them, while I was in close-custody. This made me bitter towards the church. Right after this, I received a letter that my daughter by my girlfriend had died in a fatal accident. The true downward spiral began. I cried out in anguish for three days, feeling pain like I hadn’t since I broke my neck. I started picking fights with other inmates for no reason. “Why are disrespecting your wife on the phone?” “Your’re mad at your kids cause they didn’t put money on your books? Be happy you still HAVE kids, asshole!” “What? Don’t like what I’m saying? Let’s step under the stairs.” (That’s where all the fights are due to restricted sight lines from the officers.) I was so out of control, even the white gang bangers were trying to calm me down.
I couldn’t explain to anyone what was happening, mostly because the baby was from the “victim of my crime, and, that would have opened a whole other can of worms. Finally, I was out of close custody- a hair wiser. The guys back there would often tell me, I was out of place. I’m a computer nerd, after all, into live steam trains, super technologies, drums and all kinds of music. Many have called me the “whitest black guy” they knew. My ex’s family hated that about me, too.
After I got out of medium custody, I got back in the groove of church, working the soundboard, playing drums, and helping people develope their dreams. Many, though they dream big, don’t quite believe their dreams. They aren’t Elon Musk, Carlos Chosen, or Sir Richart. Branson dreamers. My “humanitarian efforts” though, were curbed when I went back to work in the kitchen, which has pretty much been my “job” since I came to prison, and got promoted to cook, which took a lot more time and effort than my waiting job. Keep in mind, that in the free world, I was a bit of a snob, and at times, I could really put it to the poor wait staff that had me for a customer. My, my now the tables had turned, and now I was the waiter meeting jerks like myself every day. Imagine 900+ slobs with no table manners and filthy mouths.
Finding a kindred spirit in here that enjoyed music, conversation, outter space and advanced technology is hard. I’d want to talk about my family, and positive things, honestly, but it was very difficult.
With my time ticking by, I thought I would never hear from my older kids, but then my son wrote and asked me if I could sign paperwork so he could get his passport. Of course, I enthusiastically agreed, thinking it might bring us “closer. His mother, my first wife, told use it would cost me $2.00. Seems like nothing, right? But I’m in the hole $3,583 for past due court fees, another $120.14 for my TDCJ medical copay, and another $50 for the indigent supplies like stamps and envelopes I’ve been using, because there is NO money on my books, and that measly $2 might as well be a million bucks, ’cause they got the exact same chance of getting paid. The TDCJ is going to get ALL of any money that’s deposited into my account, period. So, I had to tell my estranged son that I couldn’t help him. He hasn’t written since.
I dug back into the church, though the politics and the in-fighting left me feeling that not even members of the church cared for anything or anyone else outside their cliques. I felt alone again, and I see members of their families passing away, and soon, even that cycle comes for me. Both of my parents, my brothers and sisters. I’ve really no idea who’s left in my family! The chaplain has called me in her office so often, I’m terrified of the next visit. God? Why? WHY? WHY?
I need to find a way to reverse all the emotional pain, hurts and diminishments. The search for that positive edge, for me, is taking time to feel empathy when others lose a loved one. But it’s been difficult because of my own pain. Even though my emotional corridor is broken, I want to show agape love, yet I’m barely able to love myself. Thus, I must grow my mind exponentially in order to help myself and others, moving beyond the way I’m thinking now to “power thinking” and showing true love like I’ve never been able to do before. This will make me a better husband when Mrs. Right comes along. This will allow me to be a friend that you would want to have for life. I want to be a life coach, helping people find the vision that makes their life meaningful and gives value to their self-worth.
Though I’ve botched most of my own past (especially with wives and children), I see a better me now. These experiences have grown me. A miracle happened in that I got to see a photo of my youngest daughter. She certainly has some of my features, and, happily, a lot of her mother’s. I pray she knows in her spirit how much I’ve always loved her, even if she knows nothing else about me.
Prison CAN be rehabilitative, yet you have to go through some things- humiliation, fear, hope, despair, even shame. Maybe you might even have to accept defeat. Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “It’s not how many battles you win. It’s how you finish the war.” Somehow, I will succeed beyond my wildest dreams.
God has shown me a picture of my future. It looks awesome! Though I am still sad at times, the roller coaster of emotion will someday dissipate. I see that I can be much better than I was. I usually take Fridays and build the essence of who I am. I put my dreams on paper, no matter how far-fetched- my robotics company, my graphene factory, my music studio, my life at the first major base station on Mars near Biblis Tholus, driving my thorium-powered Martian rover. Yes, the dreams are extreme, but my hopes for humanity are no less extreme. Why shouldn’t I believe I can be a part of what can be accomplished in the future? Sure I’m incarcerated, but my goal is to create value for myself that I, in turn, may help others. It’s like low-tech crowd-funding to create self-worth!
Somehow, as I pray genuine prayers of faith, the greatest things can and will happen in my life. Along the way, I can help the next person to succeed as well. Their success is my own. My visions and dreams will come to pass- for my future friends, for the spouse of my dreams, for my children. We will celebrate life even as Job did, whose, last days were better than his first days. Sometimes, you have to fall lower than you ever have in order to rise higher than you ever thought you could go. I am not saying that success isn’t available in prison, but personally, that’s a part of the puzzle I’ve yet to figure out. This may be the place I plan my dreams, but it isn’t the stuff of my dreams.
I have a passion for playing the drums, for sound engineering, and helping people designing their own studios or businesses. Not a dream that ends in prison! But, a lucrative dream that can be passed on to the next generation. “You want to open a Dave & Buster’s? Let’s get the franchise information!” We need to figure out what it takes to succeed, no matter the dream.
Watching people suddenly motivated by the exploration of their own wildest dreams drives me to be my best. Yes, this incarceration slowed me hown (happily). A few times, it’s beat me down.
I’ve been lied on, stepped on, crossed out, cussed out and laughed at. But now I know that I can overcome! However God sees fit, I will win. In His time, every step will come to pass, and you know what? It probably won’t be nearly as hard to accomplish as I think it will.
I’ve personally experienced the depth of sorrows, and I hope noone ever sees the same. But a happiness-driven life is obtainable, even behind bars. It will never be impossible. If God gave His only begotten Son to save a knuckle-head like me, ANYTHING is possible!
Prison has, at the very least, helped me to see the bigger picture. Soon, I’ll be on my way to living a life that will bring about success. This place has given me the time to plan it down to the last detail!