Adrien, 29

Meet Adrien…

Make peace with the parts of your life. Making peace makes life easier.

Adrien, 29
Incarcerated: 1 year
Housed: San Quentin State Prison, San Quentin, California

I was sitting in Reception, waiting to hear which prison I would go to, hearing what other guys were planning on doing when they got released. The last time I was arrested, I turned my life around: got my high school and medical assistant diploma, and worked for three and a half years in the medical field. I enjoy working in clinics, urgent care, primary care, giving injections, taking care of people. It made me proud, too. I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to work in the medical field for a while, but I brought this on myself. Once I get out I will start looking and going back to school. I told them, “Anything and everything is possible. You just can’t doubt yourself.”

I was born on a reservation in Montana, in and out of country jail since I was 18. When I had my first child, a daughter, I wanted to show up for her. She inspired me. I wanted to be a father, different from other fathers who aren’t in their children’s lives. My dad didn’t. He was in and out of prison, not there. I was motivated to do it differently. I have siblings, younger than me. I didn’t have someone to push me to be a better father or a better son. I only had myself and I learned from my mistakes. When I was 10, I had to do that for my siblings when no one else did. It prepared me for being a dad. I didn’t have a childhood. And that made me the father and son I am today. People ask me, “Why do you talk to your dad? If he wasn’t there for you.” But I say, “Why not? Why be petty? I have to be the bigger man, even though he wasn’t there for me, he can be there for his grandchildren.” Make peace with the parts of your life. Making peace makes life easier. When I was going to school I was tatted up, looking just like another gangster. I wanted to prove them wrong. It was a good motivator.

When I first got to San Quentin in December, they thought I was Mexican not Native American. White Eagle, one of my elders, brought me closer to my native roots. I’m his cellie now. I’m proud to be Native American, being here made me connect with my inner roots. I know how to help people now. When one of my four kids is hurt, they come to me. “Dad, what’s wrong? Make it better.” With Covid I helped them not be afraid of testing, of getting sick. I talked with my daughter, my oldest, and told her, “Don’t grow up too fast. Don’t worry. Just be a kid.” I’m getting out in 12 days, so I can be there for her and my other kids. I just found out that my mom was in an induced coma after surgery and passed away after the surgery. So maybe I can get partial custody of my younger siblings.

This incarceration has made my relationship stronger with my fiance. I had doubts, but I see she really does care about me. I can’t wait to get married. She really stuck by my side through this all and I am so thankful to have her. I keep believing, anything is possible.

Samir, 52

Samir, 52

Meet Samir…

I felt helpless and alone as I boarded the plane for America. Life was worse than I had imagined and it aggravated my feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Samir, 52
Incarcerated: 13 years
Housed: California State Prison, Corcoran

At 13 years old, my parents sent me to America to live with my older brothers. At the time, I didn’t understand why I was forced to leave my parents, siblings, and the only home I ever knew to live in a  foreign country with estranged brothers I hardly knew. I was told it was for my safety, but I felt it was a punishment and a rejection by my parents. Despite my reluctance to leave my homeland, I suppressed my thoughts and feelings and did as I was told. I felt helpless and alone as I boarded the plane for America. Life was worse than I had imagined and it aggravated my feelings of loneliness and isolation. At home, my brothers were always busy and I hardly ever saw them. Left on my own, I began to use food as a way to alter my mood from feeling lonely and isolated. As a result, I became overweight and my brothers started calling me “cow.” In hearing their taunts, I felt hurt, angry and rejected. I wanted to fight back, but I couldn’t because they were older and I had to respect them, so I suppressed my anger. To avoid being teased, I ate alone so I wasn’t judged by my large portions. I hid snacks in my closet and ate them when no one was watching.

I became obese and struggled with my weight for most of my life. I felt ugly, ashamed, and less than others. These feelings led to frustration and extreme low self-esteem. I thought no one would ever want me and I would die alone. This belief along with earlier feelings of scarcity and instability would later manifest into possessiveness and controlling over my wife. Along with a rigid sex role belief and a co-dependency issue, I developed a compulsive/obsessive, perfectionistic, controlling, grandiose, blaming, righteous and all-knowing personality. Before I reached puberty  I was an undiagnosed narcissist without power and I normalized these behaviors within my sphere of influences because they altered my mood from loneliness and isolation. Based on these adverse childhood experiences, I had unconscious abandonment problems. On the day of the murder, I had hoped for a reconciliation, however, when I was coldly rejected, I was unconsciously terrified of abandonment and this feeling triggered me into a rage that I didn’t know how to manage. 

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