Clayton, 31

Clayton, 31

Meet Clayton…

I learned to face my past head-on by writing, speaking, and accepting all that happened, I could have done this so years ago and prevented a life sentence.

Clayton, 31
Incarcerated: 6 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

As I crunched the paper, twisting it into a cross to place into my dad’s open casket, I never assumed I’d be made fun of for it. The bullies at school made sure to remind me of the open casket legacy which my father left behind after his overdose on heroin. While their dads were at ‘Meet the Parents Day’ all I had to present was a picture of a tombstone. Though their dads were important, I was belittled to live up to the curse my father left behind for me. Whether reality set in or not, one thing I knew for sure, “Like father, like son.” Addiction plagued my father. He passed it on to my siblings, and they passed it on to me. At age 16, my sister told me that by the age of three,  I was exposed to meth’s intoxicating high. Through tears she told me, and through anger I went forward. This admission was all I needed, to dive deeper into my progressing addiction. Years into my life sentence, I realized something. Rather than face the fact that I am resilient, I withered away behind the trauma. The young man who stroked his father’s cold, pale skin one last time.

Now, with nothing but time on my hands to think, I made a huge discovery. I found the source of my anxiety, fear, and discomfort stemming from the traumas of my childhood. Every day we choose, and these choices define our lives. I chose to perpetuate the trauma and the pain I carry, by passing it on to others. Just as I learned to face my past head-on by writing, speaking, and accepting all that happened, I could have done this so years ago and prevented a life sentence. Had I been strong enough back then, I would have spared so many undeserving people from so much suffering. I realize today that I am my father’s son, and my Father is God. Through the transformation which has occurred while walking in the fire, I will be able to reach others still trapped behind the tempest of trauma. To all the people I have harmed over the years, I owe my transformation to you. I will honor your lives everyday, as I continue to learn, grow and change; as I work to leave behind a new legacy on this Earth.

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