Jamie, 31

Jamie, 31

Meet Jamie…

“One day I’ll make it home, and when I do, I’ll be the best version of myself possible. I love my family, and I want to make them proud.”

Jamie, 31

Incarcerated: 6 years

Housed: Central California Women’s Facility, Chowchilla, California

When I first held my son, I looked into his eyes and swore to myself and him that I’d protect him, that I’d be the best mom, that I’d give him a better life than I had. I tried and I tried, but life is about choices, and I made some bad ones, I lost sight of what was important, and I allowed my broken heart to lead me down a path of darkness and destruction.

I was trying to fill the emptiness I felt inside with drugs and toxic relationships. I was doing anything I could, to not be alone because I was so filled with pain and fear. Misplaced loyalty and naivety caused me to make the wrong decisions and I’m paying for it now. I miss my son and my daughters every minute of every day. I miss laughing with my mom, I miss driving. I miss taking my son to the movies and going out to eat. These days I can’t do much besides stay positive and keep my faith that God is with me even when I feel alone. I work out daily and I try to help the other women here. I try to serve the community I am now a part of. I can’t take away the pain I’ve caused my family, and I can’t unbreak those hearts, but I’ve made another promise that I intend to keep: one day I’ll make it home, and when I do, I’ll be the best version of myself possible. I love my family, and I want to make them proud. 

Ronald, 48

Ronald, 48

There’s absolutely nothing wrong for loving one from afar, when that’s the best action, to keep you on the path that God intended for you to travel.

Ronald, 48

Incarcerated: 3 years

Housed: San Quentin State Prison, California

Is there a point when even God loses hope in someone like me? Like the age old saying, ‘The straw that broke the camel’s back.’ Thinking back, trying to remember some good I might have done, is almost impossible, due to the dark cloud of wrong I’m reminded of daily, especially when the cell door locks for the night. That’s when things become dead quiet, leaving only you and your thoughts. 

Where did everybody go? What happened to all the friends I thought I had? I’ve learned most people surrounding you are only there because of what you can do for them. Whether it be money, drugs, protection or simply company to pass the time. 99% of the time you possess something they want or simply desire. Being raised by the father I was dealt with, was in one hand a blessing, and the other, a curse. Trying to constantly get one’s approval, will drive you to learn similar crafts hoping for an – ATTA BOY! Which seems to always never come, but learning multiple crafts will most certainly put you in a position, where others are drawn to you. 

Being an only child would somehow prepare me for years of solitude. Most people who find themselves without the slightest hope of ever being a free man once again, having the opportunity to function, as a law abiding citizen, might have thoughts of deep hopelessness or even contemplate suicide. I, on the other hand, completely accept my wrong doings and the time behind bars I have been allotted for breaking the law. I’m actually thankful for being, “Saved from myself.” But most importantly for keeping others safe that I could possibly hurt, whether the hurt was physical or emotionally. Sadly, the hurt usually affects people I love or care about. 

The time I spent trying to gain my fathers approval has given me some bad traits. Always being the total opposite towards people than my father was towards me, and people that seemed to be a part of my life for one reason or another. I would never see them for the people they truly were, because I didn’t want to pass on the hurt of not being good enough in my eyes, or constantly pointing out their flaws. This passive way of accepting would come back to haunt me, and rip open my heart out, because I believed people were good when they simply were rotten, broken souls. Clearly, two broken people aren’t good for themselves let alone each other. “Birds of a feather flock together,” the outcome is always bad for both individuals in the toxic relationship. There’s no balance. It’s either up or down. Truthfully mostly down, but low self esteem or some form of insecurities will give the feeling of: this is probably the best it’s gonna get, so having someone is better than having no one. I could find nine bad things in a person and one good but because of feelings like: I don’t deserve better because of all the wrong I’ve done, I’m lucky to receive any amount of love from anyone, I’ll take whatever I can get. Yet, when the other broken person’s mood swings are up, down and all around, you’ll develop even more insecurities, due to the lack of emotions that should be given from both sides in a healthy relationship. But when you don’t love the person in the mirror, you truly can’t love anyone else. I’ve told women over and over again I love you, yet my actions tell a completely different story. When there has to be some type of drug to stimulate emotional, physical or any type of affection towards one another the relationship will soon become more and more toxic and damaging to the weaker of the two. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing both the one being abandoned and the one running for dear life. Yet, the sickest part of it all is just for that one moment we felt loved, we’ll find ourselves returning to that horribly toxic relationship in hopes of a different outcome. My outcome was catching a life sentence grasping for every straw of possible hope. Do I blame her for the outcome? Absolutely not. My insecurities blindfolded my judgment of the relationship. And not only my shortcomings but her as well. I can’t think for a second I’m remotely capable of fixing another, when I’m broken as well. 

So, who do I blame?

My father never gave me the affirmation I seeked from him, or his mother, who treated him that way. Her father maybe. The blame can go back generations. One, two, three generations – who knows. 

Why was I so in need of his approval? 

Many people I’ve talked to could be perfectly okay without the approval of anyone. Well, hold on! Let me backup just a tad bit. Many have come to the same conclusion. Some sooner than others but if you’re right with God, you’ll start to like that person in the mirror more and more until the like becomes love for yourself. Then and only then, can you possibly love another, as God has loved us. Real love doesn’t keep a tab of what you’ve done for others, almost having the feeling of having to earn it. When random acts are freely given from real love, there’s too many to keep track of. Once you’ve learned to love yourself, loving others will come with the slightest of effort. Now comes the hard part. Loving others doesn’t mean accepting the parts of them that could be your downfall. Stand firm in what is right, because what is right and just will keep you loving that person in the mirror. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with loving one from afar, when that’s the best action to keep you on the path that God intended for you to travel. It’s okay to be a little selfish when it comes to loving yourself. Hurt people, hurt people! Love can heal all things but the healing must first start internally, with you and soon the love that you’ve generated for yourself will overflow to others for all the right reasons. The best reason is that, “Love doesn’t cost a thing!” But when you don’t love the person in the mirror,  you truly can’t love anyone else.

Logan, 35

Meet Logan…

My last relationship blessed me with a boy and girl. Through the years Mariah is the one person who stuck with me.

Logan, 35
Incarcerated: 4 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

My dad spent time with me on weekends and whenever he could. But I was always closer to my mom. I was a mama’s boy. My oldest daughter Mariah has always been close to my parents. For years I was a single father and my parents helped raise her. She has a good relationship with her stepmother. My father has really gone out of his way to be the father I can’t be while incarcerated. My mother passed away, so my dad is a single father. Being a retired heavy equipment operator he would normally be enjoying his retirement. I feel he has sacrificed his retirement. He has never complained and I know he loves his granddaughter very much. Still, I know it must be challenging even though she’s a good kid. At 16, she is going through a time that can affect the rest of her life. Dad takes her to appointments, buys her things, and everything that comes with supporting a teenager. Not because he feels like he has to, but because he loves her. I’m thankful for the person he is. I look up to him and wish I was half the father he is.

I am also proud of my daughter. She has become a product of her struggles. I admire the way she has dealt so well with the obstacles in her life. She was by my side from the day she was born to the day of my incarceration. She is my “Road Dawg” as some might say. I left her mother when Mariah was two. My last relationship blessed me with a boy and girl. Through the years Mariah is the one person who stuck with me. She was with me at work when she wasn’t with my parents or at school. I learned it takes a village to raise a child. We lived in a very small community. My employer, who was like a second mother to me, people from work, and friends helped me support her by giving her clothes, gifts, and they remembered her birthday. Looking back I admire her ability to make the best with what we had. She never complained or gave me a hard time. If she cried, was upset, or sad I knew it was serious. I always received compliments on how well behaved she was. Being a single father was tiring, but she made it easy. I still carry those precious memories to this day. I am amazed and proud of the young lady she has become. 

Rolando, 37

Rolando, 37

Meet Rolando…

I’m working on furthering my education. I am also in self help groups to better myself and to find my way out of prison.

Rolando, 37
Incarcerated: 18 years
Housed: Valley State Prison, Chowchilla, CA

I’m in prison on a murder charge. I like to stay busy and out of trouble. I love to play soccer and listen to reggae, oldies and rap. My favorite movies: Fast and the Furious, Titanic and Twilight. I like to cut people’s hair.

When I started my time, I didn’t know anything about prison. One day, I was standing next to three people fighting in the yard. When the officer came to separate them, he thought I was fighting too. I told him I had nothing to do with it, I saw a commotion and walked away. He then asked the officer in the tower what he saw, he said I had nothing to do with it. That was one of the scariest incidents I’ve been through. Another time an officer dropped something while talking to a sergeant. I waited for him to finish talking, and told him he had dropped something and that he could get in trouble. He was proud of me, because he said there are not too many people like me. He told me to keep up the good work. I felt proud. I’m working on furthering my education. I am also in self help groups to better myself and to find my way out of prison.

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