HOPE, FAITH, AND SECOND CHANCES
Psalm 107-1-2 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Has the Lord redeemed you? Then speak out.
I was born in North Philadelphia on June 14, 1968, my mother was only 17 years of age, when she had me and she passed away at the delicate age of 19, I was only 2 (two years old).
I was left in the care of my biological father and his mother. The house that I called home was actually a “speakeasy” for those who may not know that terminology it’s just a street way of describing someone who turns their home into a place where people come to spend their money for food, alcohol, etc. Not a nurturing environment for a young female child, whose guardian often paid more attention to the liquor bottle, than what was happening to me. My young adolescent days were full of tormenting abuses of all kind. I remember many times in elementary school, I dreaded gym class for fear and embarrassment people would see the open wounds from the beatings. Before I graduated from elementary school I already turned out to what it took to get a man’s attention, with my guardian turning a blind eye to everything, making me swear to silence, “to never tell.”
Let me go further by the time I was 16 years old I was pregnant with my first child and by the time I was 17 years old I was a full fledged cocaine snorter, by the age of 19 crack cocaine overtook my life and I struggled for years up until my incarceration with addiction. During my mini (limited) periods of sobriety I was able to educate myself and maintain adequate homes for my family but it never lasted long.
The echoes of my past demons never let me forget the words that were pounded into my brain as a youth. “You’ll never be nothing.” “You’re stupid.” “You won’t live past 19, just like your mother.”
Because of all the harsh insulting language and abuses inflicted upon me by my very first role model of a “man.” I grew into adulthood believing those lies driven into my head. So I went after men who mimic my abuser, one destructive relationships after another, the abuse become so normal to me that if I didn’t have it, I often missed it because too my old damaged thinking that was love. I really knew that my life was seriously out of control when in 1997, I was shot in my back right near my heart by a jilted ex-lover and never reported it to the police, all because he said he didn’t mean it and he loved me. I could have lost my life, but my life was of no value to me, no amount of accomplishments that I achieved in my life could fill that black hole I called a “soul.” I was broken. After the shooting of 1997, I believe that was the last of the hundreds of traumatizing episodes in my life that finally became the straw that broke the camel’s back, my addiction spiraled out of this world and I lost myself, my children, my job, and what little dignity I had. Homeless and ragged by 2003, I found myself involved in an actual homicide never, ever, ever did I think my addiction would take me this far, I’d never been to prison, surely this could not be happening to me. OH BUT IT WAS!!!
Since my incarceration I’ve done some serious soul searching, someone losing their life is nothing to be taken lightly and by hell or high water I was going to cleanse myself of all the filth I carried in me, starting from the inside out. First, for me came extreme, excruciating remorse for no one has the right to take another person’s life, only God should make those decisions. Then came years of self-loathing chronic disgust at myself and all my past bad actions. Once I overcame those feelings I spent many years apologizing to God and to countless other. I continue to work on forgiving others who hurt me and broke me and finally I’m learning to forgive myself.
All of this with the support of Almighty God. Fourteen years! Fourteen long years of self-analysis, it’s one of the hardest things any human being could ever do, whether incarcerated or not. To be able to admit you’re a messed-up train wreck and then have the courage to change, means you have to take major responsibility.
Some people will read this and say well: I was abused as a child and I used drugs, but I never murdered anyone. Well to them I would say thank your God everyday that he spared you from my testimony. But to the many can relate to what I went through and where it’s got me, I would say to them there is redemption and change in the lives of people like us. We all have read The Holy Bible, it’s God’s book of forgiveness, it illustrates how our Creator changed great sinners into extra powerful warriors of his word. Paul was a murderer of the Christians before God granted him redemption and made him a faithful follower of Christ.
Solomon had the spirit of lust, but God granted him redemption and made him a mighty king. I’m not using these examples to say it’s okay to go ahead and commit crime because God will forgive us, crime deserves punishment, but if we the men and women serving life behind bars can pay our dues to society becoming and example to the many still stick, suffering, and lost in our communities, to show that even the worst of people can turn their lives around for the greater good, then why can’t we be forgiven and granted a second chance at life? So many of us, myself included, are very remorseful for our crimes whether we were the actual perpetrators or accomplice, whatever our individual stories, we are people who made life devastating choices and life-changing mistakes, that have affected our families’ lives and our victims’ families’ lives.
Be warned this plague, I and countless other have endured doesn’t discriminate, our experiences are real. Although we serve life sentences we still have hope and we believe in the compassion of our fellow man because we the men and the women, who have turned our lives around with the renewal of our hearts and minds, we ask, hope, and pray for a second chance.
Please support House Bill 135.