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Straight Talk The general Ex-Offender discussion forum. If you have done time, this forum is for you.

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Old 07-13-2020, 07:49 AM
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Default Two Years Later On The Road Of Freedom

“If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true”

(Time In a Bottle written by Jim Croce in 1973)

When you’re released from prison, it’s a day in which seemingly it’s as if angels are singing and music is playing. It’s a moment in time that you wish you could always keep with you in the emotional sense which brings to mind one of Jim Croce’s hits back in the day. I’ve been to prison more than once and while the going there (prison) is always a shocking if not horrific experience, getting out is just as emotional, but very much of the opposite effect…..it’s almost a “this is too good to be true” type moment and there for the first 2-3 days you’re not really 100% sure that it’s all not just a dream. The reality or the real truth of freedom has to grow on you a little bit at a time. That’s why it is often advised in the beginning for the first couple of weeks to sit down for a minute and get settled. The truth is aside from where you’ve been to do with a prison stay or what it is that led you there……you don’t really know yourself in this new reality called freedom and it’s been awhile since you’ve done anything in this place called the Free World. Sit down for minute and get acquainted with the new you in this new place and with new freedoms, once again.
In many ways, this increment of time/freedom is not really all that much different from past releases. The only exception to that is this is the first time I’ve made a serious decision /effort to address a bipolar disorder that’s been very elusive and baffling for many years now. It’s a sad thing to say, but when it comes to the hard facts concerning mental health for many of us who wind up in prison………you get what you pay for and that’s not much on average when it comes to what the prison system, the parole system combined with what mental health services that are to be provided really amount to. It’s entirely possible that someone with a mental health disorder who really wants to know the truth, what to do about it with the hope that real change for the better will come about can and often wind up with seemingly more questions than answers and no sense of direction as to where to go or who to turn to. The real truth of the matter is mental health problems/solutions are very close or parallel to the efforts that we have to make where sobriety in the face of alcoholism and addiction is concerned. You have to stay after it with the thought or realization in the back of your mind “there’s no turning back and giving up is not an option because there’s nothing to give up to except more of the same……prison, poverty, addiction, alcoholism, recidivism, possibly death and one other hidden unknown that’s just as real as the nose on the end of your face; you can literally get to point to where you lose your mind. You can walk, you can talk, you can do some things that you did before, but if you continue to walk down that dark alley of addiction and all the negatives that go with it…….there are many who’ve never quite regained what they had in the mental sense before they embarked on that last binge run or effort to escape reality by way of euphoria. You can literally lose your mind and when you’re already mentally like some of us are (me included), the problems that beset you in the mental sense are the ones that hurt you the most because they’re left untreated.
I am a person and we are a people in which some of us have a problem with getting our priorities in order when we get out. If we by chance have our priorities in order when we get out, some of us get off track and distracted by other issues (money, independence, love, affection, employment, housing, transportation, relationships) that have their place in life, but like the old saying goes in A.A. “you don’t build your sobriety around your life, you build your life around your sobriety” and any time you deviate from that, you’re playing with fire. I tend to be one of the ones that is sound on what to do and what not to do upon release, but at some point forget or simply stop caring about what it really takes to stay out of harm’s way. After so many kicks in the teeth to do with rejection in the attempt at finding the needle in the employment haystack or the housing haystack or the girlfriend haystack or the life after prison haystack the real problem on the road of progress comes in the form of “What difference does it make whether I try or not, it’s all the same.”
Yes……there is truth in pondering and recognizing just how hard it is on many days out here in midst of so many that have seemingly have very much all the while so many of us with an X on our backs have so very little. There’s a greater truth though, that comes along in the making which many of us don’t consider when we lapse into the “what’s the use in trying” mode of thinking……….they don’t just have a bed there in prison for you to sleep on should you decide to go back again, the real truth is and the ultimate truth is, they have a bed for you die on there in prison should you decide to continue down the path of recidivism. That’s my nightmare, that’s my greatest fear or possible outcome that I don’t ever want to see happen; I don’t want to die or spend my last breath in prison and yet the truth is, there are many of us who have died in there, are dying in there right now and will die there in the future. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it always will be.

In the 2 years I’ve been out I’ve had 13 different jobs, laid my head on at least 30 different beds in about 12 different places. As we speak, I’ve got less than $100 in the bank, no job and no clue as to when things are going to get better in the war on keeping the wolf away from the door. I’m about ready go outside myself and punch him in the face just for the sake of a bit of temporary satisfaction. I hate that wolf that waits outside the door and I always love to punch him in the face when I get away with it, but at the end of the day he’ll always be there.
Anyway, I’ve been a free man for 2 years now as of July 13th and all in all, I feel fortunate to be out here. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen die or go back to prison that I personally know in these last 2 years. It’s absolutely ridiculous and much of it has to do not with the issues of money/employment/housing, it has to do with the issues of unaddressed mental health problems and/or the inability to stay sober/clean.
The finding a “do-able job that can put in me in position to save/prosper” at times drives me to the utter point of insanity it seems, but in truth, it is and always been over the long more of a numbers game in which something good will come along if you hang in there and don’t take it so personal when someone kicks you to the curb or disses you. And that’s a hard thing to do. It’s hard not to get into your feelings when you’re giving it your all among a society that in-between the lines reflects an “I don’t care about you, at the end of the day” kinda attitude. It’s hard to walk away from those type experiences with your dignity intact and all the while maintaining the needed composure and poised that’s called for. Along with that, often times there is no one there to really demonstrate or show one of us the way in which to do things. No one wants to go prison, no one wants to admit they’ve been there in the face of so much rejection among our society and therefore there are not many of us visibly seen or looked to as an example of how to navigate when we get out and if there are examples many times it seems like the version of what we see has more to do with money or following Jesus than it does anything else. I don’t have anything against Jesus, O.K.? But let me tell you something, what one man or woman thinks Jesus is about may or may not be same as the next person and that seems to be the common denominator in the conflict of interest to do with Jesus. There’s too many of you that have the spiritual attention span of a 12 year old in which the god of your understanding amounts to “God is Santa Claus” and that ain’t the way it is.
Enough of that. I’m going to go buy myself a pint of ice cream in celebration of my freedom. I’ll be sure and eat a bite for each of you that are here with me in spirit.
Peace be with you…..PTO is best…..How bout them Dallas Cowboys?
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Old 07-13-2020, 12:30 PM
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Two years, Marty. Two years of challenges that you've withstood. I'm so very proud of you.
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Old 07-13-2020, 12:36 PM
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congrats! Getting through this especially in this upside down world is a feat in itself. It will get easier
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Old 07-13-2020, 01:04 PM
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This comes to me at a perfect time. I really enjoyed reading your story and I think you are facing adversity with the right set of values. Your tenacity will be paid back, and God finds a way to make you put in the sweat effort long beyond what your mind equates as the finish line. I have recently learned that myself hahah
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:07 PM
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Two years, Marty. Two years of challenges that you've withstood. I'm so very proud of you.
You've been a good friend to me through it all and I'm grateful to you for your support
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:09 PM
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congrats! Getting through this especially in this upside down world is a feat in itself. It will get easier
Yes, things will improve...One day at a time, right?
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Old 07-15-2020, 02:10 PM
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This comes to me at a perfect time. I really enjoyed reading your story and I think you are facing adversity with the right set of values. Your tenacity will be paid back, and God finds a way to make you put in the sweat effort long beyond what your mind equates as the finish line. I have recently learned that myself hahah
Thank you Studebaker. I appreciate the kind words and thoughts.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:20 PM
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I’m sorry about the employment situation. I hope you find something soon. Your perseverance is admirable and the fact that you continue to maintain a positive attitude, and post here to support and uplift others, says a lot about your character. Enjoy the ice cream.
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