From time to time, I hope to bring you creative writing from men inside the walls. The following is prose from a long time 7th Stepper, Jack Ball, who chose not to have this posted anonymously. It involves his recovery from drug addiction.
I am a man who is 59 years old. My name is Jack and I am an addict. I have spent the last 26 years of my life inside a prison made of steel and stone, before that I lived in a prison I carried in my mind. My low self esteem was beaten into me by the hard angry fists of my grandfather. You cant bury something awful inside yourself and then pretend its not there while you fight another war, that makes you break all of your own rules. Maybe I am simply talking about honor, I could not define it in myself, but I recognized it when I saw it in others. I was convinced that as a virtue it had little to do with being reasonable, I knew that absolutely it was as dishonorable for a man to allow himself to be used, as it was for him to use others. I have moments of memory where I slip back into an era that would always be mine, whether I wanted it or not. Where I lived a life of" NOT ENOUGH "… not good enough, not fast enough, not quiet enough, every statement punctuated with violence, I can feel myself begin to sink into a dark recess of pain and grief that will not cauterize with time. I can feel the caution lights start to flash in my head, then I know by the heated energy that rushes through my stomach and surges through my chest and rips open the sealed up places in my brain that I had forgotten or wanted to believe never existed. The hyena will have its way, just as the caution light is locked on red, you cant even have the pleasure of loathing yourself, because the metamorphosis to which you’ve committed yourself is now the only self you have. Everyone has a need for their past, sometimes it pulls harder on you than your future. I have liked the past better than the present or even the hope of the future. There have been times when I have fallen and betrayed my future with my past. The past is like a rodent that eats its way inch by inch through entrails and chews at your liver and stomach, severs tendons from organs until finally when you are alone in the dark it sits gorged and sleek inside your head, its eyes resting, its wet muzzle like a kiss, a promise whispered in the air. I have found in the rooms of recovery, a place of redemption, and a road to a bright future where hope and peace lay, a chance to be part of my own life instead of being ran over by it. There is no trap so deadly as the one we set for ourselves.
I’d like to add one more thing. Jack recently learned that he will be a free man in less than one year. Congratulations Jack. I am confident that you have learned how to make it as a productive, law abiding citizen.