Meet Manuel

As I sit here, at thirty five, I find myself putting the pieces together from my shattered childhood.

Since 13, I’ve been in either juvenile hall or prison. My life started in a broken home. I was adopted by my heroin addicted uncle.

I’ve spent thousands of nights, and just as many days, slipping into season after lonely season in my head trying to get my life back together. I am still trying to figure out how I got here, who I truly am, and how to find life’s joy. It overwhelms me at times, and has put more tears in these eyes than you’d imagine.

When you ask yourself such things, it compels you to search your soul. To face every truth, lie, fear and hole within yourself. I’ve been doing so since I was that child, and while it prolonged me with pain it also helps me grow, to be strong and remain human.

I feel I had two choices when given a life sentence at eighteen: I could become numb and heartless and give up hope, or hold onto my humanity and heart and try to be the person people encouraged me to be. Well I chose the latter!

Walking into prison at 18, I could become numb, heartless and give up hope or I could hold onto my humanity and heart and try to be the person people encourage me to be, a good person.

Thankfully, I chose the latter. Although I have lost my way countless times in here, I continue to choose just that, and maybe these words here will help some to see that. I caused more pain than I’ll ever be proud to admit, and plenty of havoc too, but I’ve also spread love on end.

I have done good deeds, and leave laughter in my wake. My intentions are always to put a warm smile on another person’s face. Everyday, I’m trying to be a better person. Despite my past and the malicious wrong doings upon me, that is what I choose. I am worthy of love, capable of so much, just like you.

Yes, my demons haunt me every single day and night! But I overcome them and try to be a good person, which is the only way to be free. I’m just like you. That’s my truth and I thank you very much for listening.

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