|DOING FED TIME AGE 19|
Forget about going to maximum security prison for 19 months. That was the easy part. The hard part is living with the consequences of how I entered adulthood with "Aiding and Abetting Armed Bank Robbery" on my record and my heart. The first has locked me out of nearly every single decent job I've ever wanted to get, or have been offered. The second gives me the desire to torture myself in nearly every possible way as often as I can even to this day.
Just before I got mixed up in the bank robbery, my mother forced me to go to rehab for the first time. Of course, at 17 I had NO DESIRE whatsoever to get clean and I let it be known to anyone who would listen, including my counselor who warned me that I was worse than anyone she had ever treated. She said I would be in jail, dead or in an institution within a year because that is what happens to us addicts if we refuse to clean up.
Three months after this conversation, high as a kite, I decided it would be a great idea to rob a bank with three acquaintances. It did not take long for me to figure out that my counselor was right, albeit too late.
One of the ways I entertained myself while I was holed up in our hotel room on the run from the F.B.I. was to smoke crack all day, then shoot heroin to put me out at night (I've never touched heroin, nor a needle since). On one of these occasions, my heart stopped for an instant, which scared the crap out of me and prompted me to remember my counselor's words. She warned me that this would happen. She was right. I didn't even make the full year.
This memory prompted a miracle in me. I decided to get clean and sober for real, no matter what happened. This time I was serious. I went to rehab while I was out on bond. I spent nine months in a dual/diagnosis program treating my depression and my disease. I went to meetings, met a whole new group of friends, and learned about a whole new way of life.
All this time, I firmly believed that if I just made it through my prison sentence in one piece, I would be alright. I was sure I'd stay sober for the rest of my life (I made it for five years that time).
After a plea agreement was entered and agreed upon by the United States Government and myself, I was sentenced to 25 months incarceration with the eligibility of a half-way house release at 19 months. My time would be served at F.C.I. Lexington, a maximum security prison surrounded by razor-wire fences located in the lush, blue green landscape of Kentucky.
A $5,480 restitution rounded out the court's mandate for my involvement in this felony. Can you say lucky? I could have served 20 years for that crime. I was ready to do whatever I had to do in order to get this horrible chapter of my life over with and get to living my wonderful, clean and sober life.
The first order of business was to get my G.E.D. so I could go to college. Check. I did that within two weeks of my surrender to prison. Second, I needed to lose the 20 pounds I had gained in rehab. Check. I lost 50. The fat fell off with barely any effort for my young body within a few months.
Third, I needed to get some technical skills so I would have a fantastic and full career upon my release. Check. I got enrolled in an administrative clerk program where I excelled, earned my diploma and became the Teacher's Assistant.
Finally, I wanted to take advantage of the local college classes offered through the prison. Check. Four classes, and a 3.75 g.p.a. made me realize for the first time in my life that I am pretty damn intelligent. Who knew?
During the last six months of my sentence I started investigating colleges. I requested information from every single college or university that had anything to do with writing, media, arts or film in Massachusetts. When I received Emerson College's glossy information package, I knew that was were I had to go. My plan was to take creative writing there and I worked hard to keep my grades up in prison so I would be able to get in.
To everyone's immense surprise, including me, I was accepted to the school located in Boston's magical Back Bay area. For the first time in my life I really felt as though I was going somewhere. I decided to major in Media Arts with a concentration on film theory and cinema history. I thought, if nothing else, I could make a movie about the bank robbery.
My felony locked me out of Hollywood and pretty much every other decent job I have ever tried to secure . For years, in spite of my degree, I have resigned myself to jobs that anyone can get: slimy sales gigs, cocktail and food waitress, retail clerk. Of course, these jobs all pay the bills, and I am grateful that I have always been able to eat, but this is not where I thought I would be 20 years after the bank robbery, especially since I worked so hard to earn my B.A. from Emerson.
After twenty years of trying to pretend I am tough and don't give a shit, I did my best to work around my problems. Finally, I just couldn't function under my self-delusion for one more day. In spite of my very best efforts, my body and my brain would no longer let me.
In October of 2009 I finally had to check myself into the hospital because I had a nervous breakdown. I was overwhelmed by everything, particularly just getting out of bed. After that I would have to talk myself through everything I had to do on a minute by minute basis.
I would have to tell myself in the morning "get up, get up, get up!. Then I would have no idea what to do next. I literally had to tell myself "get in the shower" I was simply unable.to function in a general way. I knew in my mind what I was responsible for, but I just could not get myself to do anything.
While I was in the nuthouse recovering from the worst melt-down I've ever had, I decided to write a book about my life because I hope my story serves as a great cautionary tale for young adults who may identify with my feelings. Who knows? This might just be my purpose in life.
I can assure you, this process is giving me more confidence with every post; a concept that is completely new to me. It would be wonderful to know my life has been worth something. Besides, I don't think I am ever going to make anything of myself any other way.
Now I am in the middle of writing this book, and I am racked with insecurity and the desire to give up completely. My twisted, self loathing brain is screaming "Everyone hates you! This is a joke. Don't be stupid!" I want to take down my fan page, close my facebook account and stop working on my blog/book altogether. Grrr.
But how can I do that? Especially since I'm finally taking the steps necessary to fulfill my life-long dream of getting published. I know one thing, if I do give up, I will never be anything. Enough is enough. I've been living in a constant state of powerlessness for twenty years. I am sick of being a bank robber. I'm not gonna listen. I'm not going to listen. I am not going to listen....
It's time for me to move onto something else...don't you think?