Well, he was a very difficult child, and not without good reason, because his dad (me) worked very long hours, and was generally burned out when at home. Unbeknownst to me, his mom was very abusive. She was also a closet alcoholic, and I didn’t know how bad things were at home until it was too late. When he was nine, his mom attempted suicide. That made him feel as though she didn’t care for him. Actually, it made us all feel that way. After that, we did get some family counseling, and she also received therapy. Things were better for a while, and she had me convinced that she was doing a decent job of parenting when I was not around. Sadly, that improvement didn’t last.
He became, as one therapist put it, “the most hardened child that he had ever seen.” He began sneaking alcohol and his mom’s pills from about the age of 11. He proceeded to steal things, and break into people’s houses. At 15, he broke into a car, and stole a cop’s gun. He had several stays at juvenile detention. I could not reach him, nor could anyone else. Virtually all his crimes were done in pursuit of drugs and alcohol. When he was 18, he was charged with murder, but the court decided that it was self-defense. He continued to steal things and began selling drugs.
Of course, he kept getting arrested, and served progressively longer prison terms, until he finally served six years in a single term. So, when I think about it, he spent much of his life from the age of 15 until he was 31, incarcerated.
I visited every chance I got, also wrote letters, doing my best to convince him that his future did not need to be the same as his past, and he didn’t have to keep going back to prison. I think he finally came to a decent level of understanding and hope. For the past 11 years, he’s been doing all right. The worst he’s done, is drink too much, but he seems to have that under control now as well.
He had a son, who pretty much grew up without him, but now they are together, and a lot of healing has occurred.
As an ex-felon, it’s not easy to find employment, but he has worked steadily as a painter, until recently he has become a phlebotomist. These days, he has fun sometimes, with his son and significant other. He lives in New York, and I live in Florida, so we spent a lot of time in Facebook video chat.
The only way to know what the future holds, is to be there for it. The past does not dictate the future. You should have access to training programs while you are incarcerated, also when you are later released. There are support groups and ministries in prisons. Even if you don’t believe in religion, being connected to such a group could make things easier for you.
You have created a major challenge for yourself, but through the experience, you can gain a powerful wisdom.
You might even be in a position to help others, either survive or avoid prison.
I wish you well. I have faith in your strength. I know it’s within you, even if you have yet to discover it.