My 11-year-old son saved my life with his unconditional love. I kept telling him I was sorry for not being there. We had a great visit. Afterwards I wrote to him telling him sorry again. He said, “Dad, you can stop telling me sorry. I forgive you. All I want is for you to do good and get out as soon as you can so you can get to know me.” I felt this weight lift off my back that held me down all these years. I’d always wanted and searched for unconditional love.
Incarcerated: 6 years
It started when I was young. I was put in the special needs class. A stepbrother came to live with us. I felt unwanted, unloved, stupid, different, and he groomed me to help him burglarize homes. I was small and could crawl into houses and unlock the doors. He took me to the mall and showed me how to steal. I was good at it. He showed me how giving stuff to people made them happy and made them like you. I loved to make people happy. That’s how I made friends and got women: stealing. I was a giver and a pleaser, so the drugs and fast women came with it. I ended up using booze, weed, and other drugs at a young age. By 13, I was sent to a boy’s home. At 16, I was kicked out and moved in with my dad. I went from being on welfare in a trailer park to living in a million-dollar home. I became a “boy toy” to my stepmom. When my dad found out, he blamed me, we fought and I ran away. I ended up in the California Youth Authority and then prison. I hated my dad and told myself I’d never be like him. I fell in love with a woman in jail. She got pregnant. My daughter was born in a cell in a women’s prison. I got out of prison and picked my newborn child up and took care of her. Here I was, 25 with a newborn. I’d never even had a pet before, but I crushed it. After a year I went back to prison for petty stuff, and was taken away from the first thing I ever loved. It hurt; my hair fell out and my mom adopted her. I was in and out of prison. I got another woman pregnant and we both went to prison. She got out and had our son, Blaze, and while I was in, she lost custody of him. My mom, God bless her, was again there to take my child. I got out and CPS said I could not see him, so I decided to go to court to fight for the right to be a dad. I showed up to court with certificates from Father’s First anger classes, letters of support, a clean drug test, and a job, but found out it did not matter. Because I had had no contact with my son for more than 14 months, my parental rights were terminated. Losing my rights hit me hard, I copped out and went back to committing crimes and using. I felt life was not worth living and my kids were better off without me. For the next 10 years I went back and forth to prison, mostly in, seeing my kids here and there. I could not forgive myself for being the kind of dad that mine was. I hated myself for that. I asked my mom if she could bring my son to visit me. She said she was done visiting me and being hurt, but she would ask my son. He wanted to see me. My 11-year-old son saved my life with his unconditional love. I kept telling him I was sorry for not being there. We had a great visit. Afterwards I wrote to him telling him sorry again. He said, “Dad, you can stop telling me sorry. I forgive you. All I want is for you to do good and get out as soon as you can so you can get to know me.” I felt this weight lift off my back that held me down all these years. I’d always wanted and searched for unconditional love. I always thought it would be from a woman. With his forgiveness I was able to forgive myself. In turn I prayed to God and told my dad I forgave him. I learned to break the chain with my son and heal myself. Hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people. It’s been five years of insight. I’ve looked at the root of my troubles and dealt with them. Now I have a good relationship with my mom, son, and daughter. I love myself and feel I’m worth it. I’m a good person. I’m now a grandpa and it’s not too late. I feel I will get out soon and look forward to starting over and for once living life the right way. There’s always hope. Never give up. Even when you’re at your last rope and feel there is no hope, there is.
Healed people heal people. I loved reading your story Ben and want to thank you for sharing it. I have worked in education for 30+ years and often think of all the students I have worked with over the years. The students I worked with early in my career were living in the projects in the Bayshore area of San Francisco, they came from the most challenging situations and had little control over their lives. Again I appreciate knowing your story.