I TUCKED THE PAIN AWAY
For me, my story starts at nine.
My mom was getting out of prison and I was becoming more free. I was able to run around town and come and go as I pleased. I began to experiment with drugs, smoke cigarettes and that was around the time I really began to rebel. I was so angry. I can see now it was because of how my parents were always fighting. My mom was always high and my dad would get raging just when he was drinking. You mix those two and you get fighting.
Well, it built up and at nine, it started to pour over. So, I began steal little things at first. Bikes, skate boards, beer from the store. Cigarettes, liquor from my dad and dope from my mom, and so on and so forth. I started to follow my older brother around as long as I can remember. I always wanted to be just like my brother. I looked up to him so much. He hung with cool kids. He wore the cool clothes and he was a gang member. I thought he was everything that stood for cool. He went to juvenal prison in 1997 and he has been straight edge ever since.
Needless to say, I just kept on with that image. I did everything to live up to that image. I continued on that way doing the best I could to be that person. I got the clothes. I made similar friends. I sought out the outcasts, the gangs, the skate crews. I found comfort with them. We smoked weed. We drank beers. We skated, road bikes, broke into warehouses to find new places to tag up and hangout. I continued to do petty crimes to get money to buy drugs and booze. I broke into cars and stole stereos and speakers. It continued on like this until around 12 years old. I upgraded to breaking into houses. That was until I got arrested for breaking into a neighbor’s house of a friend of mine. I remember when I was getting cuffed up. I was so scared.
I heard so many stories about being locked up. I was kinda intimidated to go, but the funny thing was it was nothing of the sort. It was like a club of all my friends. I knew everyone. It was nothing like what I thought it was going to be.
When I got out, I was like a star to all my friends. I was almost applauded for getting locked up and coming out unscathed. In a nutshell, it did not detour [sic] me from wanting to stay out of trouble. If that was supposed to be a punishment, it was a small price to pay if I ever got cracked. So, I kept on doing what I did: commit crimes, get locked up, get out and be praised for my crimes.
One time, I was in a four-man cell with two homeboys of mine that were gang members and they asked me if they could jump me in. I agreed to it of course. It’s what I always wanted. I remember getting scared and excited at the same time. It was like as if I had finally graduated to a new level of success.
I got out and quickly made a name for myself. I started mentoring little homies to how we operated and the what’s-what of being a gang member. I was 14 by this time.
Me and my mom were using drugs together. My dad had no say. I would just leave and go to a homie’s house or to my mom’s and do what I wanted. Well, then I was locked up again. I had been acting out and was on lock down-slash-security risk and they called my name over the intercom for a visit. I thought they made a mistake. On lockdown, you don’t get visits. So, I went out. Normal visits are through the glass on a two-way phone, but when I walked up, my dad and two brothers were in the contact visit room. My heart sank.
I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what, but I knew it was bad, so I went in. We exchanged hugs and said our hellos and we sat down. I remember saying to them, just tell me straight, what’s wrong. My dad told me thru tears that my mom had overdosed on heroin and died the night before. I just went blank. I went numb. I went back, celled in and tucked the pain away.
They let me out for the funeral. I went thru the motions, got lost in drugs and booze and hit the streets hard, got into fights, got in a couple of shoot outs, got shot twice, got stabbed once and kept on my downward spiral. I got locked up a bunch and went to juvenile prison, then graduated to adult prison.
Then, on April17, 2011 one of my brothers overdosed on heroin. And once again, I went thru the motions: tucked my pain away and got lost in the streets again. Drowned myself in drugs, violence, booze, women, anything to keep me from looking at myself and facing the pain. I got locked up and went to prison again. I got out and six months later got locked up again.
During all this time, I had two children, 1 son, Gabriel and 1 daughter, Elly. I had been struggling thru the last couple of years with being a gang member, slash parent. I do not want my kids to make the same mistakes I did.
One day while I was still in county jail, I was talking to my daughter and she says to me on the phone, “Daddy, you’re so insignificant. Why do you keep going to prison? Don’t you want to be out with me and Gabe and mommy? We need you.” It felt like I got shot in the heart. I lost my breath. I have never hurt like that in my life. In short, my entire life changed from that day on.
I found God and thru a lot of prayer, meditation and study, I started to change my life; all aspects shifted. I no longer wanted to be the person I had become and with God I started to shed all the pain. I started to find forgiveness in my life. My love of Christ grew. My longing to be a parent grew. I now have been locked up the better part of two years and I’m nowhere near the same person I was two years ago when I started this journey. I get to talk to my kids from time to time. My relationship with them is growing.
I get out in a few months and I have no fears. I just need to learn how to do normal stuff. I know I can. I have done it before, but now I need to do it long term. I will succeed. With Christ, all things are possible and I know this to be true. Success is with Him and with Him, I will succeed.