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2017. . . . .

Going into 2017, I believed it would be a good year, both personally as well as for the ministry. 2016 had wound down from a rather tumultuous year which resulted in my being moved to a highly restrictive unit after reporting an officer who had harassed me for three years because of my sexuality and charges. Eventually I found myself in a good unit, surrounded by good people, and with a good celly. Not before going through one last shot of turmoil though, as I'd been moved into a highly political unit which I'd asked to not be moved to.

Once moved again I thought all would then be well, but it was false hope because before long, 2017 rolled in and with it fallout from the unit I'd been moved to after specifically asking not to be. An evil group of people, under false reasons, chose to send someone after me which ended with somewhat of an assault in the chapel and my spending two months in segregation.

On April 10th I found myself moved into my proverbial backyard, no more than ten minutes from where I spent much of my life. This was in part a good thing, but at the same time I was left feeling devastated. I had left behind the good friends I'd made over more than four years, I'd left behind the wonderful school program I was heavily involved with, and I left behind a wonderful chapel program of which I spent a large amount of time in. I was now at a place where I knew nobody, and a place that had nothing really to offer to individuals with a life sentence. My time in segregation had also somehow sucked the life out me. I was a damaged and hurting person.

All wasn't hopeless though, as the Lord put someone in my path the week following my arrival, someone who would become a major part of my life, my family's life, and the ministry's life as well. This person became to me more like a brother than a friend. He seen some of my ugliest moments as I battled depression and anxiety, yet he continued to stand by my side and be supportive. My transition to this new place has been anything but smooth. But with time and continual support from my newfound friend and brother, I have come a long ways toward being emotionally and mentally stable.

A new transition is coming, this very special person in my life is going home. It is a most difficult transition to go through, especially as a lifer. Because you care for the individual, you want to, and are, happy for them to get to go home, especially so with him because he has a beautiful family, including twin baby boys and a four year old girl to go home to. However, for a person to happily go home, it leaves an empty void in the heart of the person left behind. How can a person be happy and heartbroken at the same time?

This is a dilemma that nobody really considers which inmates face all the time. It is a common thing, people in prison make friends, often closer than family, and then are separated from them, be it due to release, or simply one or the other being transferred to another prison, and the effect on the individual's mental health is never considered. In this instance, I am fortunate to have my friend going home so we can remain in contact, but when a person transfers, we're not allowed to write other inmates, so it's almost as if people we build close relationships with die, again and again, and we're just left to mourn loss after loss.

I know we are incarcerated, and don't deserve a life filled with roses, but we are still human beings who still have human emotions. My hope in sharing this is that you the audience would reach out to a new inmate today, and just let them know, as 2017 comes to an end, that they matter, and that someone cares about them and their feelings.

Happy Holidays to you all. Be sure to let your family know you love them, because you never know when you won't have that opportunity to share that. Because of my choices I've lost that opportunity with many, I hope you don't miss the opportunity.

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