Thursday, October 20, 2011

Letter to a Young Man in Prison

We had a good conversation last night. You demonstrated insight, and courage. And, you do that a lot.

We all need to understand our yesterdays. They are our history, our experience, and affect how we live our lives today.

We cannot change yesterday, but we can understand yesterday, and we can gain power over yesterday.

Yesterday has as much influence and power over us as we allow it. We are in charge of what yesterday means to us and how it impacts our lives today.

We live in today. We are masters of today. We control today. The things we do today are the things that can change our lives. We have our feelings, yet we can change how we feel and how we react to feelings. We are in charge of our thoughts and our thinking patterns.

The past is a teacher, but we are the students, and we get to choose what to learn and how to apply the lessons from the teachers in our lives. We are in charge of the direction of our lives and the choices we make today.

This is not only your task. It is also the task of all people. It is my task.

Every moment is a choice. And, we are each in charge of that moment. This moment is really all I have. I try to make the best of it.

I think it is important to understand my past. And, some events in my past still need to be called out and named for what they were. The secrets need to become known and given names. And, some events in the past need to be told that they no longer will run my life and will no longer have power. I can choose to understand those events, and to understand myself when I was in those situations. All that is good work.

Learning about myself is always productive work. But, I also need to choose to remember my lessons, and to give myself ownership of my feelings and ownership of my own power to choose my own path today.

I can choose to spend my energy on revenge and anger and rage. I could crawl into a hole, and pout and rant, and feel sorry for myself. I choose not to.

As those are feelings I have, I can respect those feelings and emotions. But, I do not have to let those feelings and emotions run my life today.

Instead, I get to choose how I feel, and how I act, and where I am going. I have that power. I have that right. I am a man and I have a right to be free, and healthy, and in control of my life. No one can make me a slave, unless I let them.

I need to understand victimization, and abuse, and slavery. And, with that knowledge, I gain power over those who have victimized me, abused me, and enslaved me. I can break those chains. I can be free, and I will be free. I am free. I have that choice, and I have that right.

I can change my life today. I am in control. I have the power. I have the right.

I can choose my friends and my attitude, and I can choose the subjects and skills I need to learn today. I can choose my direction. I am free to do that.

Yes, I have feelings of shame and guilt and being the victim and being abused and neglected and unloved. I honor those feelings, as those are my feelings. But, I get to choose how I respond to those, and where I go with that knowledge and that experience.

I am in charge. This is my life.

I can also respond to and seek out loving situations, and loving relationships, and healthy attitudes within myself. I can choose wellness and getting myself in healthy emotional shape.

I have a right to my righteous anger and my feelings. And, I also have the right to not muck around in that swamp, and to move on, and live a life of health, and goodness, and being productive. I have a right to be happy. Happiness is within me to grab onto and achieve.

You know all this. I hear all this from you, all the time. You have the key to your chains. You are in charge of your life. You are the man here. This is all good work. You know that. I’m just repeating to you what I hear from you. You are smarter than you give yourself credit for.

Oh, this is hard work. Lots of sweat, doubt, and sometimes, a bunch of gut wrenching emotional pain. But, as you know, the real accomplishments of life are the result of hard work and determination, and sometimes, sweat and pain.

You are worthy of this good, hard, sweaty work. And, I call you to that work. You have the job. You’re hired. You’re the most qualified for the job.

Everything in this letter is nothing new to you. And, it is not news to your Team. Your Team is behind you and along side of you.

We offer tools and support. And, there is no obligation we impose on you, except the expectation that you want to change and grow and get healthier.

You want to be a healthier man. So do I. And, I work at that job every day. We are all on this journey.

I don’t ask more of you than I ask of myself.

And, you are farther along than you give yourself credit for.

You are WAY ahead of other young men who need to do this work. I hope you see this and recognize this in you. You are being brave and courageous, and also loving and caring of yourself. Honor that. Respect that about you.

A lot of men don’t do this work. Their lives are painful and much poorer, emotionally. This work needs to be done. You know that. And, that is power.

I remain at your service, and I remain a member of your team.

1 comment:

Stephen Hayes said...

Excellent words to live by.

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