Monday, May 5, 2014

Grandpa



Life is definitely crazy.  Especially in comparison to how we are told life should be by institutions, organized religions, and public schools.   Real life cannot be communicated even though I feel compelled to attempt it.  

My writing has come to a stop recently for this reason.  It's not enough to read and study, it must be applied; lived.  I've been busy doing that living.  Swimming in the dark.  Blind.  Groping for something solid.  Praying for a ray of light.  Wrapping my mind around what has been done, so that it can be undone.

Something happened to me a long time ago that happens to almost everyone.  The hardest part is getting a person to realize it.  Even if it is not to the same degree; it did happen to you too. 

The woman who gave birth to me was abused too, but as a child I obviously had no awareness of this.  To my child eyes that woman was my everything.  She was god.  She knew everything and I knew nothing.  She could send me to hell, or place me in heaven at her whim.  My life was in her hands.  She was my everything.  Her everything was her father.

It can be easily labeled and classified using classic psychology.  I've never read about it and it not be mentioned.  A parent abuses a child, that child grows up, has its own children and abuses them in turn.  Classic.  It is as predictable as gravity.

But a child has no awareness of this.  So blame plays no part in this.  The way things were, is how I believed things were.  Who doesn't do this?  Blame means nothing.  The name of the game is to see it for what it was. Cause and effect have no value here.  

That man though, he was only a man after all, her father, in my own life was the very source of all my childhood nightmares.  I was merely taught to idealize him.  Because I was a child, force would be a better word.  In my specific life, judging by those that I physically knew; he was the literal source of my abuse.  I did not know his parents.  He threw his daughter under the bus, and she basically had little choice but to do the same.  She didn't know any other way supposedly.  Perhaps the same can be said of him.  What seventeen year old girl with an abusive father is going to be able to raise a child correctly?  The bus was driving fast. 

Where I stand today.  I step out of this situation emotional situation.  I look at it from as many perspectives as I can muster.  The one I take here is that of a counselor or mentor.  That is to say, I am using my thinking, to mentor my inner self, because at the time of this abuse the child in me could not understand nor deal with what was happening.  My opinion of its causes and effects mean nothing when attempting to simply regard what did in fact happen. 

What was happening?  I was loving the man who abused my mother.  As a child I was loving the abuser of the god of my life.  That man was the only man that was ever nice to me, yet he is the one who brought into being my suffering.  He was the sole source of my plight in life.  He was the reason I was being beat.  He was the reason I lived in fear.  He was the reason my mother did not love me, yet he was the only man who was nice to me? 

He died when I was eleven or twelve.  I cried for weeks.  There was no one to replace him.  No one to help me with his loss.  I without even knowing it loved the person who caused my abuse.  Can you believe that I felt safe when I was around him?

Don't you know?  Church says you must love your parents no matter what; even if they abuse you.  Don't you know?  Public schools say you must love your family even if they throw you under the bus.  This is a terrible paradox for a child because a child has absolutely no way to wrap its mind around such things.  We are taught all manner of ways to justify it, explain it, and rationalize it as adults so that we don't actually have to deal with it.  That one should love their family no matter what is a devastating blow to the psyche of a child whose parents do not know what love is.  I could fill a book with heart felt poetic sayings that cause one to feel love for their abusers.  That is just advertising propaganda for dysfunction.

It simply is not true.  One does not have to love someone simply because they share genetics; that is racism defined.  Try explaining that to a child though.  It's a truth very few wish to face.  Do you know why?  Because it requires seeing the abuser in one's self.  If you are merely doing what was done to you, because that is how you learned it, and you didn’t learn any other ways; more than likely you are neglecting and/or mistreating your children.  More than likely you were neglected and mistreated and just think that is how it is.  Because it wasn’t straight up abuse you don’t really have to think about it because you can still survive in society without doing so.  Meanwhile the girls down the street in the corner house are being raped every night.  This is what the woman who gave birth to me is unable to do.  She doesn’t want to own up to all that.  She is unable to come to terms with it.  It is too painful for her.  

At this point most people will have already had an emotional surge.  I can hear it now, "Did he just say I neglect and mistreat my child?"  Such an individual is afraid to face the facts.  Such an individual, like the woman who gave birth to me, places their emotional feeling of the moment above all other information.  Selfishness defined. 

It’s easy to say.  It’s another thing to live.

If you are like me, the first thing that pops into your head regarding this chain of blame is that he must have been abused as well, to have been able to abuse her.  Without a doubt this is true.  This phenomenon goes very deep in our culture.  This is just another reason to disregard the blame game.  Cause and effect is of no use.  For thousands of years this culture has been abusing children in mass.  The blame game would never end.  Child abuse is so rampant; the majority grow up accepting it.  Making statements like, "that is just how it is."  Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.  The correct way to say it would be, "that is just how everyone makes it."
So where does it stop?  In my family; it stops with me.  In many ways I am thankful that he died when I was so young.  I am glad he died before I realized the truth.  Before I realized what he really was.  Of course I idealized him; I was a child.  Had the thirteen year old me been aware of what he had done to the god of my life he would have had to pay.  Had the thirteen year old me been made aware that he was the source of all that had happened to me and he still been alive; it would have gotten ugly.  A new focus for my rage would have materialized instantly.  And that he was male meant I would have dealt with him. He would have had to answer to me. 

Someone will say, but he was abused to.  So what of it?  I was abused as well.  Where are my abused children?  Where is my daughter who longs for my love?  You see, this is where it stops.  This is how it stops.  The line in the sand is that he never tried.  She never tried either; still is not trying.  She like him blames others for her woes.  She takes no responsibility.  Yes it is true, that he was abused.  It is also true that he abused.  He must be held accountable for both.  They are individual things that must be handled individually at the same time keeping in mind the whole.  She must be held accountable for both.  Else the cycle merely continues.

Accountability is the line in the sand. 

What gets covered up in all this labeling is the reality of the situation.  The only man who patiently taught me anything at all was the very reason I was being choked out.  He was the very reason I was being ridiculed and demeaned.  How does one express that?  How does one remedy that?  Is it any different with her?  I loved the source of my suffering just because he had the label "grandpa."  Because she had the label "mother" she was able to turn the abuse against me, by blaming it on me.  Not only did I love her because I came from her, but also because everyone said I must.  I would be beat for not loving her.  Shamed.  What is wrong with you they say, that you hate your mother.  All the while it was blamed on me.  I was told it was my fault I was being abused more times than I can count. 

It simply is not possible to articulate that feeling.  Language does not suffice.  What word is there for the precise amount of hate and love at the same time?  What description is there for the energy that entails?  Her I have always hated, but he was someone I didn't hate until I was old enough to be told stories of her growing up.  The part had already been played.  I was played a fool.  I was tricked into loving the source of my abuse. They tricked me in every way imaginable.

I've learned though my feelings about this only affect me.  In my daily life I know no one who even knows this about me.  It's a torment of the soul.  It's my own journey.  Everyone else is the same, but on their own journey.  Their emotions about their journey have no real effect on me.  Because of this the way in which this matter is dealt with emotionally is individual. 

How it is handled outwardly though, in action, is another story altogether.  The only way to remedy the situation outwardly is through responsibility; accountability.  When one is being accountable emotions have little value.  I know this, because that is what I applied to myself.  I took responsibility for my own actions, and the bullshit stopped.  The very moment I made that decision my entire life was forever after altered.  The moment I blame someone else for what I do, I am justifying what I do, which means I will continue to do it.  I decided to hold myself accountable for what I do, regardless of what others have done to me.  In that same way I hold them accountable.  They are responsible for what they did to me, regardless of what was done to them.

It cannot be true to love one’s self and at the same time willingly allow one’s self to be abused, or to abuse another. 

If this accountability doesn't happen, the abuse keeps on happening.  The way in which one takes on accountability does not matter, but that one does is all that matters.  Even the saying of it can be said in a myriad of ways.  Without realizing it in one's self one cannot do it to another.  Like love.  One cannot truly love someone else if they cannot love their own self first.  One cannot hold another truly accountable, if they cannot hold their own self accountable.  It's up to me, the same as it is up to you, to do this work.  To handle this task.

It is not our fault this society is whack.  It’s not our fault that it literally tricks people into believing it is okay to abuse children.  It does this by never actually doing anything about it.  It tricks us into thinking so many things that are not true by teaching the lies before we are old enough to question.  It is directly our fault if we continue to pass it on.  We all have the ability to step out of this cycle.  

If I can do it, so can she, so can he, and so can you.  

I am lucky.  Very very lucky.  My personality is such that it is nearly impossible for me to not stick up for myself.  I literally cannot rest if it is not happening.  So naturally that is what I did.  I stood up for myself and told those people to fuck off.  Most though do not have this backbone.  Most people cannot bear the idea of not having a family.  Of not having a mother or father.  They don't want to look an abuser in the eye and reconcile the truth regardless of consequence.  

I have no choice though, but to ask, “How can this person actually love me if they are abusing me?”  I'm sure somewhere you will find a psychologist that says that's true, that she did love me, but I don't buy that.  The truth is available to all.  What love really is, is free for all to know.  The truth is if you honestly love someone, you do not abuse them, because when you really love someone you find out what love is first.  Real love requires effort.  Attaining the knowledge of what real love is requires effort.  Anyone can say the words, “I love you.”  The people who raised me merely did what was done to them.  Apathy defined. 

In my journeys in life most people I have met were neglected and mistreated as children and do not realize it at all.  My grandfather was in his fifties when he died and he was still an ignorant man.  He died clueless to the ramifications of his actions.  He died in a hospital without ever reconciling with his daughter at all.  He discovered no real truths about life, or love.  He was a cruel and mean man.  His children did the same thing in turn and have been cruel and mean to their sons and daughters.  If you talked to her today, she would tell you that she loves me and that she did her best.  I promise you there was no love in that house.

There is no rule book you know.  No guide.  There is no judge either.  How one handles this matter is about as individual as it gets, but if it isn’t handled the cycle continues.  To break the cycle though certain things do need to happen.  The pain has to be faced down.  It has to be gone through.  Fully experienced. They story has to be told.  Getting a grip on my emotions I had to look at things for what they are free of my emotional opinion.  Just because I was tricked into feeling love for her doesn’t mean I am not going to acknowledge what happened.  

For instance, using the label abuse.  That the title mom is involved does not magically mean abuse is suddenly acceptable.  Because she gave birth to me does not mean it wasn’t abuse.  Our society tolerates abuse if it is done by someone in the family.  Plain and simple.  Just saying that out loud is pretty messed up.  Say it with me, “If it is a family member who abuses the child we don’t do anything about it.”  What is even more messed up is that after saying it, people will still go home and do it. The easiest thing to do is point the finger at someone who abuses their child even more, so that one may justify/continue their own abuse. 

The mirror is a sketchy place.  No one likes to look there. 

Why doesn’t the title mother mean that one goes above and beyond figuring out what it means to handle such situations, what it means to love, to raise children appropriately?  That is too ideal right?  Those expectations are too high right?  Why was my grandfather going to church, going to work, then going home and abusing his daughter?  Why was he respected?  Why did people love him?  Some still do.  From my perspective the belief that one love their family no matter what is so ingrained from such an early age that people will literally suffer their entire lives and still love that person, never realizing their false love is the very source of their suffering.  Society has robbed children of the ability to stick up for themselves because the parents themselves don’t know how to do it. 

The only positive male role model I had as a child was a perpetuator of child abuse.  The only thing the woman who gave birth to me wanted was for her father to love her.  She passed that on to me.  She made me long for her love like her father made her do so.  She did unhealthy things seeking that love in other men.  Men as disgusting as my grandfather was.  She drug me through it all.  All the while telling me she loved me. 

Everywhere I look I see it happening to other children.  Everywhere I look I see it in the adults I know.  Every day I walk home from school and I see it in their eyes.  It just isn’t something I can ignore.  It’s right in front of my face. 

I need to take a shower now.  

The memories of my grandfather are like a dream.  I had a dream of a good grandfather.  One who loved me and taught me things.  The child I was was a dreamer.  I'm an adult now.  I have to face the truth whether I like what I see or not.  These memories of mine are not real, thus the dream.  

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Power Failure


Missouri has some powerful storms sometimes.  Living anywhere in central Missouri there is always a chance of some terrific weather regardless of season.  It's only a matter of time.  Booneville was directly hit by a big storm one night.  Luckily for me I was on work release already.  I wasn’t in the ghetto anymore.  It was pitch black outside except for when lightening flashed.  When the power went out it stayed out.  The backup generators didn't work.  The entire prison was suddenly without electricity, and it didn't come back on for hours.

Luckily for the guard in our house he wasn't in the ghetto either.  He was an older guy, and small too.  I think his name was Browning or something like that.  He walked like Fred Flintstone.  Talked funny too.  He wasn't a mean guy, but he could be cranky.  I didn't know it at the time, but the battery went dead on his radio.  He was locked in a room, with no lights, with over eighty inmates, and no one to communicate with the outside world.  He sat at his desk the whole time and never said a word.  He had to of been terrified.  The cacophony was in full effect.  Remember, if a civilian didn't see it, it didn't happen.  Even though I was in work release it was still pretty intense.  A lot of those gangsters didn't like me at all, and I'm not being racist, but in the dark I couldn't see them at all.  

Of course cats were having sex.  Of course there was a white guy getting sexed in the wreck room.  He wasn't being raped either, but had agreed to it.  It was weird figuring that out.  That's kind of how it works with cocaine.  If you don't do it with people they attempt to hide it from you.  Prison really opened my eyes to just how much and how many males sex each other.  More than a few times I was shocked to see who was into that.  There are a lot of married men who still like other men I can tell you that for sure.  They called it the down low.  There weren't many gangsters who didn't have some sugar in their tank.

Shit went crazy in the other houses.  Bunks were thrown down the stairs at the guards in 6 House.  5 House was a circus with the lights on.  They just locked the bay doors in 5 House.  The hole filled completely up in one night.  I felt bad for those guys in the ghetto that night.  There weren't enough guards for all of that.  Gangland went bananas. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Roaches.


Prison really was a disgusting place.  It would probably be safe to say that it still is.  After I got out I showered several times a day, every day, for months.  I couldn't get the disgusting off of me.  Any time any dirt got on me at all; I took a shower.  Taking a shower all alone is a glorious freedom.  It's a luxury unlike any other. 

Roaches are a real thing.  Roaches live up to their reputation.  Roaches were everywhere.  They fly.  They had a city under the prison.  Their headquarters was under the chow hall.  The prison had a tunnel system under it for the plumbing.  The tunnels weren't tall enough to stand up in.  All the pipes ran along one side of the tunnel near the top.  The top of it was arched.  It was made of bricks and was old by my standards.  The plumbing crew guys were the only inmates that went in those tunnels.  Not really anyone wanted that job either because of the roaches.  Near the chow hall the walls would be alive with them.

It's just like the movies they said.  The entire surface would be crawling with cockroaches.  A moving wall of scuttling, clicking, sometimes three inch long cockroaches doing what they do.  I saw some huge cockroaches outside of that chow hall flying around.  It was like there was a war going on.  The prison was being invaded from the inside and was moving out. 

They really were everywhere.  The civilians who worked the kitchen were big women except for the head guy who was a weird looking white guy.  I never saw him really, except for across the yard.  The women though were walk funny big.  Scary looking big.  They couldn't have run if they had to.  They had terrible attitudes.  The food was as gross as the roaches.  I had to be really careful about what I ate.  I would always investigate, hitting up other guys who were already eating trying to figure out if it was safe or not. I couldn't starve, but there was a limit to what I would willingly eat. 

I saw it with my own eyes one day working for maintenance.  We were going around cleaning out all the AC units.  Most of the time no one was ever behind the chow hall; it was off limits to general population.   Lying on the ground getting ready to go in the back of the kitchen managers personal truck were boxes labeled not for human consumption.  I always wondered why that guy was allowed to bring his personal vehicle into the prison itself.  No one else ever did that.  He was probably just fattening his paycheck. 

There was meatloaf one time that had a glossy shine to it where it was sliced.  Chicken bone casserole was a no go.  There were beans on the plate every single meal except breakfast.  One of my favorite meals was hard boiled eggs.  I would always trade commissary items or something from a future meal for the extra unadulterated protein.   I knew people in 4 House.  Word on the street was that cats sometimes poked a hole in the meat and sexed it.  They would have someone watch out for them while in the cooler alone.  There were some freaks in that house.  Word on the street was that 4 House was where the freaks went because they always had plenty of opportunity to do their thing.  At work and in the house itself there were lots of opportunities to be alone.  There was always at least one bay in that house that had its lights out.

I had to be really careful about what I ate.  I doubt very much I made it out of there without eating something disgusting.  I doubt anyone did.  When people who obviously do not care about themselves are preparing food it's never going to be good food, and it never was.  Never not once.  It was disgusting.

In the corner of the chow hall where the trays are picked up there is a long narrow window that runs horizontally at about waist level.  One of the kitchen managers is always sitting right at the window on the other side of the wall to make sure no shenanigans are occurring.  Running along the kitchen side of the wall was a counter with big long food pans in heat sinks.  There was an inmate at each pan, and they would fill the trays military style.  The whole prison ate in less than an hour and half.  One day as I was walking up to get my tray a roach was just running around on this ladies arm.  She never even moved to shake it off or nothing.  It was just running around doing its thing easily crawling over the fat folds in her arm.  I didn't eat much.

The only reason I was eating at all was because I was lifting weights so much.  I played a lot of hand ball too.  That is a very active sport, and we were quite competitive.  I can’t stand for people to be better than me.  I was born competitive after all.  If I had extra money on my commissary I would buy protein powders.  They had a meal replacement powder too.  The only other thing to eat was ramen.  I still love ramen, but ramen is not nutritional at all and it does not sustain a person.  Compared to prison food ramen is absolutely delicious.  I had to go into that disgusting chow hall though.  It was that or starve.  I couldn't afford to lose any size.  So much of my power depended on it.  I got to where I was benching over 300 lbs. and could squat 450. I simply couldn't do that starving all the time. 

When I tell people this part of the story they always ask me, "but why?  Why was it that way? With all those inmates why wasn't it cleaner?  Why wasn't the food better?To me it is pretty simple.  When there is only one guard, who doesn't have a real weapon other than a radio and some mace, per hundred inmates, that guard couldn't really make us do much of anything.  Those guards were always walking a fine line and they knew it.  They were quick to call for help when it got sketchy.  They didn't have what it took to make us do much of anything or than obey the rules. No one in Booneville wanted more time. 

The main reason the food was so bad was because no one dreams of being a prison cook in life.  No one wakes up and wants to go to work in a prison.  People generally do not perform well if they are not doing what it is they are meant to do in life. The people who applied for that job were not trying to improve the world or make it a better place.  Those civilian cooks didn't know how to manage inmates, or how to cook for that matter.  They couldn't even manage their own lives.  Their pay had to of been crap.  They were probably just like JoAnn and doing it for the state benefits.  They were not good people in the sense of their actions.  It was a pay check.  It was a job.  They couldn't get one anywhere else I'm sure, or they would not have been in there. 

There are so many fixes to this problem it's not even funny, yet it still persists to this day.  The people in charge are always changing the rules inside the prison, but never changing the reasons for which a prison is even needed in the first place.  They never change the culture.  Cats could have been learning to legitimately cook in there, but instead it was a circus.  They could have been leaving prison with a way to provide for themselves.  The people in charge didn't care about them any more than they did me.  That's really what it all comes down to; if the people in charge don't even care about themselves, how can they care about others?  They didn’t care about us at all.  That means they didn’t care about you either. 

Using those civilian women in that chow hall as an example, they brought the entire prison's food quality down to their level in life.  Through their actions they ruined it for us all.  Their lives were in a state of ruin and they reflected it out into the universe accordingly.  I'm sure they had their reasons in life for being what and who they were, but I don't really like making excuses for apathy.  They obviously didn't care about me.  They didn't care about me at all or they would never have put that shit on my tray. 

I still have this thought to this day; if I could at nineteen be at least trying to get my head out of my ass, what was stopping them?  They were much older than I.  They had their freedom, couldn't they at least try?  It is the golden rule after all; do unto others.  I prefer saying the golden rule another way; thou art thou brother’s keeper.  I wouldn't have served that disgustingness to anyone. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Genuine fear.



The most intense moment I ever had in prison was while working for Stan.  It was a rare occasion for me to feel genuine fear.  He had a bunch of stuff in his car that he needed to get to his office.  He didn't want to carry it all so he asked me for help.  I complied.  I probably wouldn't have though had I known what he was going to do to me.  Despite my fa├žade, the hyper-masculinity, I am a very cautious person.  I don't ride motorcycles for instance.  I am always aware that every time I pass an oncoming car on a two lane highway, doing 55 mph, that I have just had a near death experience.  I don't take unnecessary risks ever.  If you ever see me doing something sketchy it's only because have already thought it out in my own way, or I would not be doing it.

Stan couldn't see this part of me.  No one understands the calculating.  There is too much intuition involved.  I doubt it ever crossed his mind that he had endangered my life at all, but I was acutely aware of it.  The truth is I probably wasn't in danger at all, but that just wasn't how I saw it.  For all I know those guards weren't even paying attention.  

When we got to the front gate I was already nervous.  The only time inmates are near the front gate is when they get to leave to go home.  Inmates aren't even allowed to walk within a hundred feet of it.  Part of the security of the place is that no one really knows what it is like past the visiting room.  There is just never a reason for inmates to be there other than for leaving.  Besides the day I left there for good, this was the only time I had been in that area.

I never met a high ranking white shirt that gave a shit about inmates.  To them we were basically just animals. To me they were just bigots; men who judge by the eye with no depth of thought whatsoever, yet were making life altering decisions regarding others.  I never liked to be around them.  They were all powerful.  Whatever they said went.  Since I was merely an animal to them there was no power to get from them.  There was no advantage in dealing with them.  They could only bring negative consequences.  No inmates had power with them.  They were always in headquarters. 

There was a small area at the entrance to head quarters.  It was basically a rectangle shaped enclosed chain linked box.  Headquarters was encased.  Snag wire, chain linked fence, cinder blocks and bullet proof glass.  Looks like a fort with big light poles all around it.  Besides the hole it was the only part of the prison with high tech security.  The entry road to the prison passed right in front of it.  It had full vision on the three sides not attached to the visiting room building.   

The small chain link box at the entrance was for security purposes.  I called it the double locked door technique.  If you were to be entering the prison, they would buzz you through the chain link fence door.  Once it was secured, they would then buzz the main door to the building.  Both doors are never open at the same time.  Stan had me step out into the box.

I'd been locked up over two years by then, and right there in front of me was the parking lot.  Right there was freedom.  The closest I had been to it in years.  I was not cuffed or shackled.  The main door slammed closed and I heard the lock engage.  Then buzz click.  The chain link door swung open.  My hands were shaking.  Then Stan did, what was to me, the unimaginable.  He asked me to help him get the stuff out of his car.  I panicked.  He's acting rushed.  He's in a hurry.  I didn't want to seem stupid in front of him, but I was scared to death.  I didn't want to cause a scene and argue with him.  It was like I was floating on air.  Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. 

I could have been shot dead for that.  An inmate, not cleared, standing outside the perimeter fence, can be shot on sight.  It's a minimum of five years without parole.  I was trying to get that shit out of his car and back into the box so fast I was sweating.  I needed back in there and I needed back in there right then.  I should not have been outside the fence.  Those shotguns are always loaded.  Five flat years on top of what I had already done might as well have been a death sentence. 

By the time I got back to his office with the stuff I was quite upset.  I said something to him about it too.  There was no need to put me in jeopardy over some crap in some boxes.  I didn't trust him anymore after that.  He saved my life, so I couldn't be truly upset.  He couldn't control what those guards would do.  He couldn't assure my safety in such a situation.  Some of those guards literally prayed for someone to try to escape.  I made it clear to him that that would never happen again.  He would have to find someone else to go outside the fence if he needed help. 

Marriage


It's a thing I do.  It's kind of hard to explain.  I defy odds.  I do my own thing.  To people who spend their lives obeying the rules and doing what they are told I seem quite wild and unpredictable.  If I make up my mind to do something the whole world could tell me I am wrong, and I will do it anyways.  At nineteen I didn't know how to stick up for myself in any way other than being hyper-masculinized.  I didn't even know it was intuition I was using.  My spiritual studies hadn't really begun yet.  I could hear that call within my mind and I would honor it regardless of consequence.  It’s part of being an idealist maybe, never caring about practical consequences.  I loved her and that was all that mattered.  What society thought about it mattered not.

Rachel wanted to marry me.  Not joking.  It wasn't really my idea at all.  Naturally everyone was telling me not to do this.  By this time though it was clear to me that no one even knew me.  I never let them. All they knew were my facades.  They knew the show I put on.  They knew what I was raised to be, what prison made me, what this society cast me as.  Rachel though, knew who I really was more than any human on the planet.  Is that not a wife?  What does it matter if there was a ring or not?  I don't know why she needed me, but I knew I needed her.

She didn't want to wait till I was out.  She wanted to get married while I was in there.  I couldn't afford to disappoint her.  I couldn't afford to lose her.  I couldn’t afford to question it all either.  I considered it for some time before saying yes.  Sometimes in life one must do what they must do.  Being married caused a huge internal conflict in me.  I so badly didn't want to be like JoAnn, married five times before I made it out of high school that I swore to never divorce.  My desire to not be like JoAnn made marriage a really big deal to me.  That was my bad.  My being married to her had so much more to do with life than whether or not it lasted our whole lives.  I do not see that fact as being a reason to say our marriage was a failure. 

The truth is I married her because I loved her.  I got married because I needed out of there.  Not just prison, but I needed out of my life.  I needed a new life.  This was something Rachel and I shared.  Her life had not been so much better than mine.  Not only were our childhoods quite similar, but we were born very close together in the year.  I was born on the 1st of Sept. and she on the 4th.  There was a great deal we shared in common as Virgo's.  We have been separated for over ten years now as I write this, almost as long as we were together, and I still miss her as a friend.  Whether she meant to or not; she saved my life.  How could I not feel some connection with such a person? 

She bought the rings.  They were exactly what I wanted.  Plain gold bands.  As an idealist the rings just didn't have anything to do with it.  Neither did the preacher man.  JoAnn picked him out.  Naturally to her such things mattered.  Leave it to the woman who can't keep a husband to think the preacher is important.  It's kind of sad how long it took me to get that bitch out of my life.  I’m practically defined by my ability to stick up for myself and that was still quite difficult to do.  The fact that I hated her did not remove my desire for a mother.

Rachel wore simple white.  Not a real wedding dress, but something modest.  They escorted her to the church during lunch with the preacher man.  He was from whatever church JoAnn was using to feel good about her shit life at the time.  The ceremony was over in less than ten minutes and they escorted them all right back out.  That had to of been a trip for Rachel.  During my bit in Booneville not many civilian women were ever in there.  How could it not have been a trip?  She had to walk through the upper quad, with the big brick buildings everywhere, inmates in grey everywhere going to and from chow, cackling and snickering about the girl in white.  I'm not sure how she could not have felt some fear.  Only having one guard around is never really reassuring. 

We barely got to hug and kiss.  Everyone was criticizing me for this.  People would say, “You got married in prison?”  I didn't care.  Did they know Rachel was all I had?  Did they know that I had no family?  Did they know sex had nothing to do with it?  Even within the realm of love I was on one hand an idiot, and on the other a genius.  I was an idiot for thinking I would never get a divorce.  I was a genius for marrying her despite all the criticism.  I could see people looking at me like I was a fool, I could feel it, but that was the difference between them and I; I could see it in myself, but they couldn’t see it in themselves.  Not a single one of those people criticizing me were happily married themselves.  Even at nineteen I knew I had to pay prices.  Marriage isn't about finding someone and then living happily ever after.  That's that fairy tale shit they sell on TV.  Marriage is about bonding with someone.

I could see it even if I couldn’t say it clearly.  According to societies standards there were a million very obvious reasons we should not have gotten married.  According to life we had every reason to marry.  Despite those failings society was pointing out so adamantly we had a bond that in my experience was quite rare among humans.  I’ve never had one like it since.  It nearly killed me too, when I lost it years later.  I've read the stats regarding men who lose their wives and it is sketchy.  Like I said, it's a thing I do; defy odds.  The divorce was just as odd defying as the marriage. 

I won't lie.  My memory regarding Rachel is sketchy.  I've spent a great deal of effort over the last decade getting her out of my memory.  For over a decade she was the center of my life, then one day she wasn’t.  It was devastating.  In order to move on I had to practically act like it never happened.  It's one thing to mourn someone who dies, but another all together when the one you mourn is still walking the earth. 

I don't even remember what housing unit I was in.  I called her one day during the afternoon.  She was crying.  I was feeling sick to my stomach because I kind of knew what was coming.  She informed me that she couldn't do it anymore.  She was seeing her neighbor.  There was nothing I could do.  I was in there.  She was not.  Had I not put in so much work to pull myself out of the hole that conversation would have ended my life.  I could feel the spiral out of control trying to suck me in.  

I just sucked it up, and through sheer will did not let it all go.  It was a defining moment in my life because I had every reason to just unleash.  I impressed myself with my ability to reign it in.  I was so embarrassed I didn’t even tell anyone.  I just kept it in.  I don’t think I even let myself cry.  I just told myself that I always knew it would happen.  I had taken so much criticism for marrying her I wasn’t going to humiliate myself by telling people what she was doing. 

Naturally I got depressed, but I just kept on marking the days.  Kept praying in the weight pile.  Kept devouring books.  Kept accumulating power.  I only had like five or six months before my parole board meeting.  There was a voice in me saying it wasn't over yet with Rachel, even though she said what she said.  I was on my own for a while.  Growing up is a bitch. I was proud of myself for not having snapped. 

After I got the verdict back from the parole board meeting I called her.  I spent several days working myself up to that call.  We hadn’t even been writing.  I had no idea what was going on in her life.  I hadn’t talked to her for months.  I told her that I would be out within a year.  We both cried on the phone.  She didn’t even know that I had gone up for the hearing.  She was as shocked as me by the release date.  I was going to get out.  I couldn’t blame her for not waiting it out.  How could that be easy?  It wasn’t her fault whatsoever that I was in there.  I didn’t give a shit about anything; I was going to get out.  I had somewhere to go again.  We were still married after all. 

What would you pick?  A life in prison or a marriage deemed imperfect by society?  It was an easy pick for me.