An Apology

This article was first published at prisonlives.com. It is reprinted here with their permission.

It has been said by one on a high bench that I am better off mentally and physically in a federal prison. So I accept this social disgrace with an apology.

I am sorry, truly sorry. I can honestly say I wish things could have been different than they were. But wishes are just wishes.

Perhaps I am not normal. I have done some things… bad things… bad things that you would never do.

Have you ever drank your own piss? I have. After about 20 days a person will. Then you swell up and stink from it. You smell your own rotting teeth and flesh.

You have probably never engaged bugs in a deep conversation, or considered them your friends. I have. Have you slept with a little frog clutched to your cheek because you couldn’t stand the loneliness anymore? I’ve pressed it against my ear to hear its heartbeat because the silence was so painfully intense.

You probably wouldn’t eat your friends either, would you? I did. And then I would cry because I was so sorry for doing it. I missed them, but I could not help myself anymore. With tears streaming down my face, I would search in the corners and cracks for tiny bugs. Then a hand I had no control over would shove them screaming one by one into my mouth, and I swallowed them. Some days the tears didn’t come, when I had become convinced that the intense burning pain in my guts was now the bugs eating me.

Solitude is a cruel, relentless companion. Nothing short of death can compare. But even death is not real. No, not yet. It is not even a concept when you’re seven years old.

Lost in pain with no social connection, decades of learning of nothing in prison except how to cut off my feelings. Branded with these scarlet letters — criminal — across my chest, I would now go out and act as a normal person (whatever that might entail). I would be one who has lived a normal life in a normal world, out of decency, out of compassion for my fellow human beings, lest again I be caught up and returned to the cage where I am viewed as some maladjusted animal, clutching a frog to my chest with one hand, while the other forces screaming bugs into my mouth as I chase them down with my own piss.

I SCREAM and CRY. It should not be this way. Should it?

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