Prison…It‘s far from what you have read about in books or what you watch on the evening news. It’s almost an entirely different world than the one portrayed on television or in films. There is a huge factor missing; the personal ramifications of what transpires in the heart and the mind of a man “inside.”
For nearly nine years, I have been fortunate enough to be able to share parts of my story. It’s a struggle to place into words, though, what I can only describe as indescribable. When I go back and read through some of my old entries, I wish I would have been able to explain things in better detail. I know I that many times, I fail to convey the depths at which prison life takes it’s toll.
You become stagnate in the blur of thousands, and reality dwindles, as normalcy becomes further and further from your reach. It would be easier if I knew that only strangers to me were reading my writing.
There is no question about it, the most difficult thing I have experienced over the course of my incarceration has been the absence of those I love. The ones who have passed away, the ones who have abandoned me and turned the other way, and the ones who pray for my return. I don’t write many people or have a network of friends, but I do have a handful of people who have never turned their backs on me. More than anything, I am grateful for knowing now what it means to truly love and be loved.
Very soon, my best friend, a brother to me, will be leaving after 13 long years. He was incarcerated at the age of 17, he has survived behind these walls. An amazing person who has shown me many ways to better myself. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from him the last four years. We have taught one another many things about life both inside and outside of prison. More than anything, we have taught one another about trust and loyalty. It is a connection that has reminded me that God’s love for me is very much still alive. As I walk this road, soon alone, I do so with a stronger faith and new determination.. though breathless.
I’d like to share the following excerpt from a book with you called “Passage & Place” by Darrell Limbocker…
“Prison is a place where you write letters and can’t think of anything to say, where you write fewer and fewer as time goes by. Finally, you stop writing altogether…because you get fewer and fewer in return.
It’s a place where hope springs eternal: where a parole appearance would mean a chance for freedom, if you’ll ever see them. It’s a place where you’ll find gray hairs on your head, or where you’ll find it starting to disappear. It’s a place where you’ll lose your teeth, need stronger glasses, and have aches and pains you’ve never had before. It’s a place where you’ll grow old before your time…and you worry about it, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
Prison is a place where you hear about your friends divorce and you didn’t even know they were married. Where you hear about someone graduating high school and you thought they hadn’t started yet. Then the lapse of time and loss of memory eats you until you learn to repress the thought so well…as the days and years blend together as one…
Prison is a place where the flame in every person burns low, for some it goes out, but for most it flickers weakly, flashes brightly, but never to burn as bright as it once did. Prison is a place where you hate through clenched teeth, where you kick, beat the walls, scream and wonder if the psychologist knows what they are talking about when they actually say you hate your own self. It’s a place where you learn that nobody needs or loves you and the world outside goes on without your presence. It’s a place where you can go for months or years without feeling the touch of a caring hand or hearing a kind word. It’s a place where most or all friendships are shallow…and you know it.
It’s a place where you may feel pity towards other peoples lives while feeling anguish and regret for yourself. Then you become mad at yourself for feeling that way, then you attempt to mentally change the subject, sometimes you can…sometimes you cannot. It’s a place where you go to bed before you are tired, where you pull the blanket over your head when you’re not even cold to hide the tears and the pain.
Prison is a place where you see people who you do not like or know and wonder if you’ll end up being just like they are in the future. You ask yourself “did this place make them like that or did they arrive on the bus in that mental or physical state of being?” Is this part of what is becoming what is termed “the institutionalized?” Something no one wants to accept, nor talk about, in prison or the free world. AN instant of complacency or denial helps to resolve the dilemma.
It’s a place where you strive to remain civilized but you lose ground. Then you realize the change that has taken place within yourself, in your heart and soul. The reflection in the mirror becomes a constant reminder of the stranger you’ve become.
Prison is a place where you don’t take things for granted like you did when you were free. Then you wonder why free people still do, but your inner voice reminds you that you were once free too…”
Prison is a place where you become weaker or stronger…A place that tests you on every human and inhuman level… A Place where I’ll either be lost or I’ll be found.
–Keven James, November 2014
Mom, Dad, and Keven on Findley Street