Freedom was something I had been deprived of for so long that it’s splendors were forgotten; out of sight, out of mind. Dwelling on what I had lost would’ve only increased the suffering and sanity required that I adapt to my surroundings. A world of violence, concrete walls, torture, injustice, ignorance and madness; where such adaptation only increased the issues this form of punishment was created to fix and the horrendous actions of the prisoners were only surpassed by those of the jailers. Hell on Earth is how I’ll forever describe prison but somehow I had managed to channel my hatred for the tyrants who tortured me into something positive-an obsession to succeed so I could laugh in the faces of those who tried to break me in order to keep me in their endless criminal justice cycle.
After spending a much deserved 12 of the last 13 years incarcerated, nine straight and eight of that in solitary confinement, I stand in the prison complex parking lot surrounded by family members who I had disappointed, yet, refused to give up on me. The sun’s rays awaken my soul from its comatosed state, bringing life into a formerly empty shell. I feel the blood flowing through my veins, my heart beating-I’m alive. A world previously viewed in black and white suddenly turns to vivid colors which overwhelm my senses. I’m hypnotized by nature’s beauty, awestruck and speechless.
The air which fills my lungs cleanses me of the toxins from the recycled air I had been subjected to while a prisoner. Each breath increases life and my awareness of repressed emotions rising to the surface. I fight the urge to kiss the ground like someone freed from a deserted island but only prevail because my family hugs me before I could cave in; hugs which I hadn’t felt in years but never ceased to long for. Happiness and relief begin to take over; making me want to scream and release all the hatred I had built up except the emotions are so strong that they render me mute. I don’t know what to say, what to do or how to act because I had adapted to misery and this was all so foreign to me.
This, the first day of my new life, is something I had dreamed of for so long that it felt very surreal; where the reality of my release hadn’t sunken in until days before, flooding my body with waves of panic so intense that I became nauseous. I vowed never to take my liberty for granted, live below my potential nor let my family down ever again. I was a new man, one destined for greatness, who had been purified by the flames of hell.
I had used my time spent behind bars productively in mastering the things which I felt was important to succeed despite their every attempt to prevent that. No one who knows me doubts my ability but it’s my passion, fueled by my hatred for prison authorities, which will guarantee my future success because nothing I’ll face on my new journey will test me like the last decade has. I’m a stubborn man and I refuse to fail since failure prevents vengeance; my need to prove to the world that I’m better than those who held my head underwater in their attempt to transform my life into another statistic for job security. However, now that I can breathe, I refuse to do anything which strips me of the power to live as I choose.
My blog is dedicated to the story of my new life which I only hope inspires other survivors to keep fighting, individuals to remain brave and rational minds to keep functioning in a world intent on suffocating greatness. We all have faced adversity but most either bow to it or tread water. Very few conquer obstacles but slaying dragons must be celebrated and each triumphant story used to inspire others. Greatness is in all of us, we are diamonds in the rough, polished by adversity until we become beautiful gems which sparkle magnificently. That is, unless we can’t handle the painful polishing process which strips away the flaws. Embrace adversity because it’s a prerequisite for success.