These past few years I’ve truly found it necessary to dig deep within myself as I search for the answers to many of the questions you are probably curious about. Some days are better than others and it its only through strength that I can truly share the heartbreak of exile in which I sometimes experience being locked up.

Being raised in an ethnic household by my father (who remained in my life but divorced my mother when I was 5 years old) instilled in me a tough guy mentality. Never cry he would say, along with so many other aspects of macho-ism. I can remember being so scared of him when he would pick me up to take me somewhere, so afraid to speak because I might say something wrong, so afraid to move because I might brush up against his razor sharp creased pants or step on his mirror shined shoes. So, I would sit stiff and scared. You might be thinking that he would hit me and abuse me, but he never hit me not one time, but he didn’t have to, the wrong look would cause far more pain than any whipping. It wasn’t until much later on in life that I realized that was just his way and that he loved me but had a strange sense of showing it.

It’s funny because I have become humbler than many a man and a lot more emotional. Becoming an uncle at 7 years old, I developed some real strong love in my heart for the kids in my family. It’s so painful to hear their voices now when I call home that I try to talk to them only on special occasions. My nephew Dominic had a report for school (he was 9 at the time, is 13 now), in the report he had to write what life would be like when he got married. In the report he moved to Texas, when his mom read it, she asked why in the heck would you move to Texas? He stated, because I want to be with Uncle Mitch (when I call, the phone # shows as a Texas number), that about killed me. I am saying this because my Dad taught me wrong, its strength that shows weakness, it’s love that prevails and it is only having love in my heart in which I have accomplished sanity during these tribulations of exile.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not above putting my hands on one of these knuckle heads when pushed to that extent, but for the most part, my years of experience have taught me how to navigate around violence and to see it coming way before it ever gets to that point. It’s come to my realization that pride is not a good thing and compassion with connection is the key. I am very disappointed sometimes when I think about how long it has taken me to even begin to find these answers in my life. I can’t change the bad choices I’ve made along the way, but I can atone for those mistakes and demonstrate a change for the future. And the future is what this is all about, the need for guidance when we come to a crossroad, the uplifting of not only our youth but our society as a whole.

So, as the days, weeks, months and years of this incarceration move forward I am willing to share with you the heartbreaks as well as the breakthroughs. Share with you the life and times of a man broken but not yet beaten. Thanks to those of you whom have taken the time to read this post. I look forward to sharing my stories with you periodically in the near future.

Sincerely, Bacardi (my nickname)

Source of featured image: (krystiano, CC BY 2.0), The Nation

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