Skip to main content

I came to San Quentin with my bag of hate and prejudices fully intact. Not really thinking of change. I’m not saying Moe is solely responsible for opening my eyes, but he became part of the solution, not the problem. Moe became my best friend and I am still blessed by his presence.

Incarcerated: 21 years
There have been many ups and downs and too many faces for my limited memory. However, there was one gentleman who got past my concrete exterior and took up residence in my heart. Mr. Darnell “Moe” Washington. I’m not a person who uses words like ‘friend’ freely. I have two friends counting Moe, and I am not easily impressed. He was easy to see in a world of back-stabbing cut-throats, a man speaking from his heart, humbly offering to shake my hand. I was impressed. I came to San Quentin with my bag of hate and prejudices fully intact. Not really thinking of change. I’m not saying Moe is solely responsible for opening my eyes, but he became part of the solution, not the problem. Moe became my best friend and I am still blessed by his presence. After reading Moe’s posting, he once again inspired me to write to you. I have been resisting in writing to you with the belief I deserve more. I am constantly challenged by my own inadequacies and the feelings that surface. I’ve been in a funk. I would like to make a small gesture – with one hand I connect to my heart and with the other I reach out to the world. To all who can find at least one thing, about themselves, no matter how big or small, that you can be proud of. I send you my gratitude. Through you I aspire to be better.

 

April 13, 2023
Like many of us my childhood was filled with traumas that shaped the decisions I’ve made and the person we became. When I was eight years old I was hospitalized with thyroid disease. I began to gain weight uncontrollably, and soon was the fat kid with no friends. The negative self-talk had me believing I was unworthy and unlovable. This coupled with any other insecurities caused me to have an unhealthy need for acceptance. I had destructive friendships and toxic relationships. For many of my adult years I believed myself to be broken. If life was going good I would destroy it, and if it was bad I made it worse, this was my pattern. Unfortunately I left a wife and child in the wake of my destruction, a burden of guilt I carry every day. At the beginning of this term of incarceration I continued to dwell in my pain and insecurities, making bad choices. I eventually became a resident of San Quentin and soon found out I could drop the mask and figure out who I really am. I began to expose myself to positive programs a little at a time because even though I wanted a better life I still believed myself undeserving. My light-bulb moment came when I attended my first Restorative Justice Symposium. Everything about sitting in that circle made me uncomfortable because it was foreign to me. Most of that day is a blank to me but my ears and my heart opened when I heard this phrase: “hurt people hurt people and healed people heal people.” I wasn’t broken after all and there was a reason for my destructive behavior. I hurt myself and others because I was a hurt person. This became the fuel that fed my desire to be a better man. I’ve unloaded a lot of baggage since then and processed many unresolved issues. I am far from perfect and still have some struggles but today my response to life’s challenges won’t complicate my life further.

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.