I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again
In prison for the most part you knew the good guys and you knew the bad guys. They didn’t have to wear white nor black. There were the givers and the takers, those who preyed on the week and hung on to the strong. There was no score card nor lineup. Your instinct took over and your inner voice, hopefully would not betray you. We formed packs and alliances, we become a team when and if needed and watched each other’s backs. We were thieves and murders, we were dealers and users, yet we formed a common bond and looked beyond our crimes. We only had ourselves now.
The world as we knew it was a faraway strange land filled with memories of another time. We would revisit that world in our minds to stay sane, to not fall into the trap that this prison, this concrete jungle, these walls held us. We stayed strong for those waiting our release or next letter, next call. We stayed strong for ourselves. We played mind games to make the time past, but had to be aware of our surroundings. We read books and watched TV, we talked and gambled on sport. We listened to our see threw radios and drank coffee. We hustled and we flowed, we got ink and lifted weights.
We talked of loved ones and loved lost. We shared photos and ideas. We were normal weren’t we? Yes we wore white and lived surrounded by walls, steel and concrete, but we were normal right? We got knocked down, but we did get up again. For the most part we ate our 3 meals at about the same time every day. “What’s for chow” would be heard and a chorus of “Some damn casserole” would echo. We awaited chow like it was a T-bone steak and baked potatoes. We drank cold water or juice with ice. I may add the only time we could have ice. Yes you could buy some if you wanted but in the heat it wouldn’t last long, like a memory.
Weekends were met with great anticipation of a visit from a loved one. Whites were pressed and hair trimmed just right. Thoughts of hugs and snacks made your heart skip maybe just a little bit. For those left behind we would ask “So what did you eat.” “Man oh man I’m stuffed” was the usual answer. Although some never got visits, we still traveled the bowling alley and sat beside their loved ones too. Something I remember the most about a buddies visit was the smell of the perfume he would return with. The scent of a woman, the scent of freedom.
My main point today is to not only reflect on my time in prison, but these last few years of freedom. It has been almost 3 years since I walked out those doors in Huntsville, Texas in a heat of an August day. Hearing shouts and cries, seeing mothers and wife’s, sisters and brothers, fathers and daughters, sons and grandparents run to a loved one still brings a tear to my eye. Inside I smiled for these men I never really knew, they were going home.
For the most part the people I have come in contact with have been supportive and caring. Most of you I have met through social media have had nothing but positive things to say. My family has supported me and I don’t know why at times, I am confused why don’t more hate me? But then there are those that do hate, that have nothing but negative things to say and I ignore most of that. It’s called the Ying and the Yang. I knew it coming in and expected it. I’m not complaining or seeking sympathy. For those who don’t like me or my posts there is a simple solution. It’s called “unfriend” or “block.” There now that didn't hurt one bit did it.
I’m not in this for fame or money. I’m truly in it to help others understand the inside and the outside of prison. I’m no one’s hero or role model. If I can reach one person, one child and make him or her understand, laugh, smile, and think. Then yes I am successful. Recently I was asked many questions about my time in prison and answered honestly and to the best of my abilities. I was still called a liar and “You know nothing.” Did it really bother me? No not really, words are cheap especially when typed a 1000 miles away. What bothered me was an inner rage I felt, my prison mentality was coming back, my demons wanted to rise from hell and deliver vengeance. Wow I sound so dramatic lol. I guess my point is I will never truly be free I think.
I don’t think I would ever react to someone’s stupidity in a violent way anymore, but it still bothered me to feel the heat rise to my face. Oh yes I was ok a little after and that is why I wanted to write this post today. I have got knocked down, but damn it guess what, I got up again. When your loved one comes home be understanding and listen if they want to talk. If they don’t it’s not because they don’t want to or like too, but maybe because they’re just not ready yet. Some may even shy away from contact and that is ok too, I did.
Some will be leery and untrusting with others, and that is ok too. Some may not like crowds and loud noises at first, give them time to adjust. Just be there and wait for him/her to come back. He may stay in a room or stand a lot, he may sleep on the floor in a corner, and he may walk for miles thinking. My family watched as I paced like a caged lion and could not stop getting up and down. I took my shoes and socks off and walked outside in the grass and almost cried. Ya me big bad inmate. We all deal with our ghosts and demons differently. We all fight our battles in different way and use different methods.
In prison I would say I read over 1000 books in those 10 years, but it took me months to pick one up in the Free World. The first time using the bathroom, alone and with a door shut made me giggle. The first time I heard “Mr. Smith” instead of Smith or Inmate made me wonder who the hell they were talking about. Make his or hers adjustment easier by just listening and being there, being strong. Let him see you smile and laugh. Watch him sleep at night as he will watch you. Give him time…..He got knocked down, but that guy is getting up…..Thanks for listening to me today.