Robert, 48
Robert, 48

Meet Robert

We have the choice and the ability to change, it comes from the inside. If I can do it anyone can,  this is what it means to be a human being.

Incarcerated: 15 years

My neighborhood was known as the city of executioners. I was taught to never go down during a riot until blood is shed.

I felt like I was a stray my entire life, lost in my rage and pain. I expected my mother to protect me, my ex’s to keep my children in my life and I expected to be dead by the age of 40.

My mind was in chaos, fast paced like a cheater who never stopped running, and yet sometimes like a fish trying to breathe out of water, all due to irrational excitement. Worse of all, I didn’t learn to acquire coping skills, I lived in my past behavior.

My belief was, I was unchangeable, unlovable. Clearly seeing three decades of repetitive violent behavior, I knew it wouldn’t be quickly erased. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to find peace and positive self awareness, yet I made a leap in that direction.

I’ve learned to calm down, to let go of my learned reactions, to not just talk about it, to do it. My skills are now more positively honed to block negative influences and obstacles built by my afflictions. Negativity was controlling my feelings, understandings and my free will. What used to upset me is now like a gust of wind, they come and they go.

With my new knowledge I focus on my well being and healing, I have accepted the fact that I have no control over anything beyond my door, and to erase all unwanted expectations, to adapt to my new environment with hope. With awareness of my mindset and controlling my reactions in situations, I’m on my way to achieving happiness.

I led a life of violence, drugs and gang activity for over 36 years, if I can do better and become a better human being, than anyone can. We have the choice and the ability to change, it comes from the inside. If I can do it anyone can,  this is what it means to be a human being.