Gunner, 32

Meet Gunner..

“To anyone I have hurt carelessly or under addiction, I pray you heal and learn to forgive. I never forgave those who hurt me, and it turned into poison. An apology is made through my life actions. NO ONE is truly free who cannot control themselves.”

Gunner ‘GT’, 32

Incarcerated: 7 years

Housed: Valley State Prison Chowchilla, California

Imagine if everything you have ever experienced was abnormal and nothing was normal by society’s standards. You just stepped into my shoes. From the age of one to the age of four, I lived with my poor drug-addict mother who loved men and needles more than me, leaving me alone to starve and get molested. Cops showed up and stripped my little fingers from the only thing that made me feel safe. I was taken from her like a state of emergency. I was taken to a place where I was held down, given shots, and told it was okay. Then, I was given to a stranger called father, and people I didn’t know who said “I love you” but yelled when I did anything. My father was a broken man. He had a wife and two sons, but she ran away to protect herself and the boys. I was this fix, but I had my trauma already. I was young, angry, and exposed to too much. My father inconsistently lost jobs by dropping liquor down his throat and meth through each nostril. How would anyone expect shit to go down?

One day in the winter of 96, I was in New Mexico, staying with my dad’s buddy and his two kids. One day while my dad was at work, we broke a window playing ball. His buddy duct-taped our hands and feet behind our backs and put us in the corners of separate rooms. Eight hours later, my dad came in from work: I’d pissed my pants, and my hands were numb. My dad beat the dude up and asked if I wanted to live with people I’d never met; I said yes. It was the only time my dad did right by me. Aunt Brenda and Uncle Ronny were bikers. I had my room, bed, and a home for two years. I went to school, and I had friends. It was my best life, regardless of whether it was still wrong. While I was living with them. I was almost killed four times by a dog attack; involved in a drive-by shooting, I was kidnapped and raped and nearly thrown off a building.

In the summer of 1998, my dad took me back, he wanted me, but he had nothing to offer but some bullshit. I fought at school every day. He would beat me; I would lie to authority about my black eyes. My family covered for him. One day, my dad came home, blacked out from drinking too much, and beat me to the point where I ran to 7-11 and called the cops.

From 12 to 18, I was forced to pretend to be perfect when I was broken. Years passed in that brokenness, and I lost the feeling of happiness and comfort. If things weren’t wrong, I felt something was wrong. I got kicked out and moved around to 17 foster homes. I needed help, not abandonment. At 18, I was indeed full of hate, looking for expressions to participate. I got arrested selling drugs and got lucky. It was the only time my skin got me out of an adverse fate. I used sex, alcohol, and drugs to silence the insecurities I called demons. I literally avoided my past, which caused a destructive present. I had no men who would teach me how to be a man, so I watched TV and made my own James Bond plans.

I did what I wanted, right or wrong. I was a raw street boy trying to be a man on my own two feet. Failures showed me how much I hated myself, so I gave up caring. When things went wrong, I shrugged, not giving a fuck, because I self-sabotaged, not trying pathetically in every way. Sad, angry, and fueled through aggression.

From 18 to 25, I was having fun doing what I wanted because of my youth’s lack of exposure and trying to make up for lost time. I was stunted in maturity. If I’d had direction, I would have been working in a union job, but I never knew what people called obvious. I never saw a way out to be successful. I tried two times to be a good guy. The first time she dumped me was when I was in the US Army. The second time, I blacked out and hurt a girl; it was 100% my fault. I take 100% responsibility for the harm I caused. I blame no one, factor traumas. I should have stopped out of fear and faced the pain. I spiraled in 2016 after my girlfriend moved out; I wrecked my truck, lost my job, lost the apartment, and was homeless, fueling my addictions. I was arrested for blacking out and hurting an innocent soul who didn’t deserve my stupidity of actions.

In county jail, I was given a razor blade and a bible, and for 28 days in isolation, I faced a crossroads: end myself or change. I prayed to God to change all of me and give me strength. On the wall was Romans 8:28. I have been sober since. I went to college and graduated with a 3.0 GPA, not bad for a high school dropout. I took every class to parent myself for everything I lacked or never knew. I seek to be loved and accepted; I desire to be the gap for the lost, outcast, rejected, and those who have made choices from factors related to unhealed trauma. To anyone I have hurt carelessly or under addiction, I pray you heal and learn to forgive. I never forgave those who hurt me, and it turned into poison. An apology is made through my life actions. NO ONE is truly free who cannot control themselves.

 

Audra, 53

Audra, 53

Audra, 53

Meet Audra…

My mistakes and crimes do not define me, my hurt no longer controls me.

Audra, 53
Incarcerated: 13 years
Housed: Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla

In my childhood dreams, I wanted to be a police officer so bad, in order to help people. Then with his dirty touch my dreams become nightmares. These things were seen but not seen, heard but not heard. As a young girl my soul was broken. My dreams and trust were consumed by fear, so my voice was no more. Anger and hate replaced my innocence. My granny tried, she cried, and prayed to my uncles to protect me, but the damage was done. I trusted no one, so I ran straight to her arms. I was seeking a mother figure or friend, but found my lover instead. Too young to understand, I was used, fooled by the pretty red painted dirty hands. I ran into many dead ends, then drugs came in. It was pure hell as a young girl. The money grind became my life, I was a hustler by nature, so fast, it kept me blinded.

For my lifestyle, my children paid the price, life in prison, twice. In here, the lion’s den, I began my destructive cycle, running, gaming and manipulating, only to pretend we were family and friends, just to fit in. As a young, broken, lost and damaged mother, how was I to provide from behind bars? It was just so hard, so now that is granny’s job. My soul had long ago died, 25 to life could break the broken. I thought I was too far gone to be helped, my hustle was grand, it could buy my freedom, but it couldn’t fix the pain. When death seemed like the win, I succumbed to seventy five Tylenol codines, chasing my end, to the peace I wanted more than anything. I heard the chaplain say, “Seek and ye shall find, He is the way, the truth and the light.”  So I gave God a try, and I put up a great fight. I lost, He won and a relationship began. I was blinded but now I see, lost but now I’m found, broken but now I’m healed. Once there was no hope, but today I am full of hope. My life is now enriched because of his grace and mercy. His love within me is never ending. My mistakes and crimes do not define me, my hurt no longer controls me. Though I was judged by man, I was saved by grace. The world sees me as nothing, but I know I’m a bride of Christ, heir to the most high.

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