It hasn't even been 3 years yet.

Photo: Chris Swainston

It hasn’t even been 3 years yet. As a matter of fact, it’s been exactly 30 months since I came home. Wow. It feels like it was yesterday – at the same time it’s like nothing more than a dream, one you can’t seem to put your finger on. Waking up in the middle of night, sweating and short of breath, you swear it was real, only to find yourself lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling.

I still don’t feel like I’m safe. I still find myself having mild panic attacks, all alone in the middle of a crowded room. I find myself reminiscing about the ‘yard’ and the fellas on it. I find myself both lost and renewed at the same time.

When I was first in LA County Jail almost 6 years ago, an older inmate described to me the hardest thing for him accept about himself, was that after spending years in prison earlier in life, he came to the realization that some of the best times in his life were behind bars. He told me that when he looked back on his life, he looked at some of those times so fondly that he’d sometimes wish he could go back there to live them again for the first time. To appreciate them for the great times they were. I never thought I’d ever be able to relate to this on a level where I might agree. In this, as well as many other things in life, I was wrong. He was right – sometimes I too miss the times on the yard.

I don’t look back on my life as I thought I would when I was a child. Reflecting on my accomplishments and my achievements, it is not the awards I am most proud of. It is my ability to get beaten up – emotionally, physically, and mentally – and still hold my chin up high that I’m most proud of. I sure can take a hit. I can withstand a beating. I’m not made of glass.

This is what I get the most courage and power from. When I get anxious and nervous, when I second guess myself and think I simply cannot go on. When I stop and think of how badly I have been beaten and ravaged, and how I’m still here. How I am still breathing and trying, fighting and scraping. I am proud of myself. I have not lost hope. I sure can take a hit.

I still search for tomorrow. I still search for love. I still search for happiness – for so many things that I find fleeting. I search for something better, running from something worse. I search high and low for something wonderful. Some days I do it with a smile on my face and some days with a frown, but I do it everyday. That’s why I’m proud of who I am today. I have not given up.

I sit here in my apartment – typing and thinking – utterly at peace. I have exactly what I have been searching for tonight. I hope you too can say the same. I want you to be happy. I want you to find peace, and I want you to find love.

Life is the journey; love the destination.

I hope we both find our way there.  You’re not made of glass either.