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“It is vital that we must build trust with the outside world, and that the only way to do so is by sharing our stories, and putting a Human face to those of us who reside in institutions.”

When I was younger I thought I knew about love. In some ways I did. My grandma gave me unconditional love. There was never a day that I didn’t feel it, even while running around like a knucklehead or battling my addictions.

I tried to use my grandmother’s example to guide me. I tried to be patient and understanding. I tried to see everyone as a unique human being. But I failed. Especially when it came to romantic love. The heartbreak that resulted from rejection eroded my confidence. Love was unattainable for me.

After another colossal disaster of a relationship, my life spiraled into pain. I knew what I wanted: someone to love me in the same way I loved – unconditionally. I needed to find out why I hadn’t found it yet. This required a lot of self-reflection. I was having trouble loving others because I didn’t love myself. It was a hard realization to face, but it was my truth.

I spent time refocusing on what I truly wanted and met an amazing woman, Angelina. When she first wrote to me it was about something we were both passionate about: helping others. I jumped at the chance to get involved with her project. I sent her information I thought would be helpful. Our correspondence turned from writing to talking. The nature of her heart was apparent to me. I felt I knew her all my life. And it was the same for her. When she came to visit me, we were both so nervous. I was trying my best to make her feel as comfortable as one can be visiting a prisoner on death row.

Our visit ended with a kiss. Since the first day she wrote, the first day that she accepted my call, the first day that she visited me, Angelina has changed my life for the better. She has been patient and kind. She has been understanding and caring. She has shown me I can be vulnerable and express love how I have always wanted to.

I am grateful for the day that Angelina came into my life. And though we have obstacles, we have done our best to face them together, lovingly, and unconditionally. I look forward to our journey together, everyday, and thank the Creator and the Universe for not letting me give up on love. 

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