THE LOST YEARS
Gift of desperation
Not every prison is a physical prison sometimes a prison can be the one we create within our own minds. I have been in 11 prisons in total and I have spent over 8 years behind prison door and on many of those occasions I only had my thoughts for company. This experience meant that I really understand the loneliness, the isolation, the lack of hope and the despair of being alone.
I am going to focus this blog on the prison of the mind as it is this one that was the most painful and the one that broke me and got me to what I call the “gift of desperation”. When I was going through the prison years I accepted my lot, the labelling and stigma over the years made me believe that my life would never be more than prison, drugs and crime. I accepted that lot and never believed I would be worth anything more.
When I left prison in 2003, I knew I was worth more than a prison cell
This level of conditioning is tough to break and it is not going to be an overnight fix. During my last sentence I started to do some work on myself and I joined in therapeutic groups and learnt a lot about myself, my drug use and what change looked like. This was great but I had next level trust issues with all the will in the world I couldn’t let people completely in… I tried but there was a block as my barriers were high and armour was thick.
When I left prison in 2003, I knew I was worth more than a prison cell but what the next step of my life looked like I had no idea. I had stopped fearing prison and in fact it became a safe place for me as I understood my place and new how to survive. The outside world was a different kettle of fish. My lifestyle and drug use had separated me from the society many of you live in today.
I felt like I was in a no mans land as I knew I no longer fitted in my old world but I also never fitted in yours. For over two years I kept trying to fit in I wanted to be like you but I just couldn’t do it. My old life was imprinted on my mind, the old life haunted me and told me I would never belong I would never fit in. Sometimes this noise would be deafening and to shut it down I would go back to drugs. When I would lapse on drugs this made the noise worse as it told me I was a failure and it also meant that many people in recovery couldn’t be around me as they had to protect there own recovery.
This pattern continued through 2001-2002 I was trapped and I truly felt I did not belong anywhere. I kept going though a pattern of cleaning up getting some clean time and then using again. There were many reasons why I lapsed or relapsed. It could be the not being able to manage emotions. Not dealing with personal relationships and sometimes I would do it to just push people away. I knew deep down that I needed something to happen I knew I needed to find a way to make the change I wanted meaningful and authentic.
In the drug recovery world have a saying “The end outcome of drug taking is either jails institutions or death” During my last relapse I realised that I had to just go to the end jails institutions or death. It was this that led me to what I called the gift of desperation.
Every day as my eyes opened I would look around the empty room I have woken up in, id see the familiar room that resembles the pain I felt inside. I had no sheets on the bed and the duvet cover is full of black stains from ash trays that has spilled onto my bed. As my mind started to clear my daily companion rises within me and I connect with feeling of complete dread of the day ahead.
I remember so many times walking from room to room isolated no one to talk to just me and the deafening noise of hopelessness. I remember times when I would sit on the bed and put my head in my hands I just wanted to cry but no tears will come, the pain of my existence made me numb the thought of another day was unbearable I wished I could end it, I believed death would be better than this.
For me this was worse than any prison I was trapped in the prison of the mind and my mind kept me isolated and alone. The question is how could I pull myself out of this? The honest answer is that it was me but someone else helped me turn the key that enabled me to escape the prison I had created.
On a fateful day in 2006
Let me tell you about Jo Purdy, Jo was a support worker that had been involved in my life over the last 3 years and she has unconditionally offered me the support and care this was done authentically, and every interaction was starting to break down my barriers. The funny thing was I was unaware this was happening. Let me tell you about the moment my mind opened and I saw that freedom and a new life was possible.
On a fateful day in 2006 I was walking home after collecting my methadone and my head was down looking at the floor. I felt so lost so alone, I was dying inside and i wanted that death as the pain and loneliness of being alive was to much to bare.
Suddenly my internal despair is interrupted by a voice, “Gethin you ok?” I look up into the smiling face of Jo. I look at Jo and simply say “yes I’m ok” at that moment Jo sees into my eyes and connects with all the pain and despair that has been my life for not just the past 2 years but the pain of what was my whole life.
Jo says one sentence to me and this a seemingly meaningless sentence but was actually the catalyst that brought on a complete transformation from who I once was to who I am now. Jo broke down the barriers and the stripped the armour of my denial. Gethin she says, “You need to book yourself in somewhere” At that moment I knew what she meant I needed to go into drug treatment, it was nothing that I had heard before but something was different as not only did I hear her words I felt them. I felt the love care and compassion from one human being to another.
On that day I realised that I had the key to my future. I realised that I did belong, and that people not only cared they could help. The trust and belief I had in Jo led me to be able to trust the next person and then the next person and each person I trusted was a step further away from the prison that was my mind.
Today my life is a million miles from what it was and my life is filled with love, peace and an abundance of opportunities. All that I am today came from other people’s belief in me. I truly believe every lost person in the world is just one person’s belief away from success. We all have the ability to connect and reach others using our humanity and for me this is the way to help someone to unlock their mind and door that will give them a freedom that will last a lifetime…
This is me with Jo Purdy a women I will be forever grateful too
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