While I was growing up, my mother was a single parent, and my father left us while I was still an infant leaving my mother, my sister and I alone. I've only met my father once; I was ten years-old. He only stayed at the house one night and then left again promising to return soon. He never did. The next time I heard anything about him, he was incarcerated and had passed away. Being a small child with an absent father, I was left with tremendous relational gaps which had me longing for acceptance. My mother tried to provide me with every opportunity to succeed, but in my head I only could see failure and how bad my life had become. I lost hope, and it became the seed of my self-destructive nature and why I sought acceptance from the wrong crowd.
I remember three separate traumatic acts of sexual abuse in my early years as well. When I was six, a friend of my sister molested me. Then at nine, a man who had married my mother, who should have been a guardian and role model to me, again sexually assaulted me. Another friend of a neighbor later groped and molested me while we were both at the neighbor's pool a year or so later. I must have seemed an easy target because of my aching desire to be accepted. I never told my mother and never sought any help. I don't know how my future might have been different otherwise, but it was shortly after reaching twelve years-old that I was first offered drugs and decided to try them.
This life mistake began a dependence that I couldn't afford and it quickly spiraled out of control. I took to them naturally and seemed more affected by them than my peers. It was only years later that I learned my father also had a severe substance abuse problem and that I had probably inherited the drug addiction tendency. I started stealing anything that wasn't locked away, and for nearly ten years I wasted my freedom living high to high. I committed the robberies and embezzlement to fund this dependency, charges for which I am currently serving time.
When I was arrested at 21, I had nothing and my mother could no longer support me or provide help. Headstrong and young, and instead of accepting responsibility for my crimes and those whom I hurt, I denied my victims' story and forced them to relive the trauma in court. After sentencing, I refused to apologize or ask their forgiveness. I now recognize the mental hurt I caused them and regret these actions deeply, but for the first twelve years of my sentence, I continued to live with the same self-centered mentality. I thought I had to be tough and wear a hardened shell I developed as a child, which made me unapproachable with a 'Don't mess with me' countenance. I even surrounded myself with like-minded guys to enhance that image. I remember the first moment I began to reevaluate my lifestyle. Several years into my sentence, my brother-in-law asked me how I expected to succeed in life if I were to suddenly be free. I realized I had no answer and it struck me.
However, it wouldn't be until a few more years had passed that a turning point sparked a transformation in my spirit. In 2013, my self-destructive lifestyle put me into segregation. I had to call my mom to let her know what had happened, and she dissolved into tears on the phone. Something inside me broke, and at that moment I promised myself I would never again be the reason she cried. I recognized that I had put my mom through hell as she had worked even harder to pay for my mistakes as a young adult and for earlier sins as a rebellious teenager. It was my fault she lost her son to a prison cell. I couldn't continue disappointing and breaking this unconditionally loving woman's heart. At that moment I truly wanted change.
It's been a rough, uphillbattle, and yes, I've had slips along the way. What I have learned though is the man I thought I was, who I thought I had to be, was an outer shell--I built a defensive wall. I had no good male influence growing up, which left me rootless and with a false sense of what a man was supposed to be. The repeated sexual abuse further corrupted my mind and left me ultra-defensive, confused, and self-blaming as a child. Instead of finding stable role models, I was betrayed over and over by the men who should have been building my confidence. I created this shell to protect myself, but it ended up consuming me. But now, over time, I have been shedding this dead weight and looking at rules and laws in the way my family always wanted me to: with respect and without trying to find a way around them.
I have the support of my family, and that means everything. It is what has pushed me to attend Narcotics Anonymouos meetings and get a grip on my addictions. Now I'm pursuing a better path and trying to find and be a better me.