In 2017 I tore my Achilles and was wheelchair bound for months. The Department of Corrections refused to treat my condition save for handing me a bag of ice and an ace bandage. On the day of my injury I asked for a wheel chair but was denied one, this despite I literally couldn’t walk. Out of desperation I ended up pleading my case to one of the unit managers of a unit I did not live in. When he saw my condition he immediately loaned me the unit’s one and only emergency wheel chair.
What builds you up?
What tears you down?
Where is our courage when we sit somewhat astound?
Taking in the various elements on noise and meaningless chatter. At moments it makes me think, what truly does matter?
Incarceration is as much about learning about yourself as it is about others. In many ways understanding those around you is to discover yourself. The penitentiary can be a cruel place. Yet, it can also be a place of kindness and compassion. How you choose to experience it has everything to do with how you will experience it. When you seek goodness and kindness, goodness and kindness find you.
The early part of my incarceration was the most difficult. There was adversity, worry, fear. It’s like this for most everyone, but for some it’s even harder. How you carry yourself in those early days influences your entire sentence to come. Most importantly, it determines who you become. It’s true for both men and women.
Today’s guest writer Felicia is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. She’s a bright beacon behind these walls. No matter how difficult her day is going, she see’s the beauty in the world and in others. She’s an inspiration to the women around her, and it’s a testament to her character. I am thankful to know her.
In the letters I’ve received from women incarcerated across the country a theme has emerged. When I think about it I should have seen it ahead of time because it’s no different from what us men go through. Yet I imagined that somehow incarceration is different for them, that perhaps it’s happier.” Maybe,” I used to think, “that they don’t suffer from the same things that us men sometimes do. Maybe they don’t struggle with feelings of shame and failure or hope that someone at home will answer the phone. Maybe things are different.”
As a man, I’ve sometimes thought of how I have failed. If I had a family of my own these feelings would only magnify to include feelings of failure as a parent. I know this would be true, because I witness the longing and struggle guys around me go through as they try to remain a part of their children’s lives. In some ways I’m thankful not to have these problems, but in others I long for what could have been.
Today’s essay is by Tara Snyder, of whom is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Her ability to put these truths to the written word grabbed me from the moment I read her essay. These are the things we prisoners experience and struggle with. They are universal, no matter your gender or where you are incarcerated.
Next of kin. Sign here, my case manager points, and I’ll notarize. At 34 years old I’ve never really put a lot of thought into what would happen when I die. But I suppose I never put a lot of thought about coming to prison for 4 years either “ until now.”
As days turn into weeks and weeks pass into months you realize just because your life stops upon coming to prison, no one else’s does.
What is an “inmate”? What is a “convict”? Throughout my writings I’ve used both terms interchangeably, but they are in fact very different. Here in prison call 10 different men an “inmate” and you are likely to get 10 varied responses ranging from outright anger and aggression to complimentary thanks. The same can be said about calling 10 others “convicts”. The culture of prison, or what today’s returning guest writer calls the prison(er) mentality, influences response.