Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On Self and Family


I thought writing about Reality: On Self and Family was going to be an easy task but I've come to realize (real-eyes) I was terribly wrong for a number of reasons. Thus the task has proven far harder than I believed. Perhaps by the end of this piece you will see why.

For one, this is like my tenth attempt at trying to put these words on paper because I became all the more saddened and depressed with each attempt. Two; I didn't realize just how much pain writing about the reality of self and family could and would have on me. The more I wrote, the more my heart ached. I thought I had addressed all my issues in that regard but the TRUTH is this, I ignored my reality on self and family and repressed my real feelings thereof. What I intend to do this time around, unlike the first nine attempts at this is get straight to the point. And the reality of self and family for me is that I simply don't have a family. There, I've said it. One might be wondering why it's so hard to write about that. Well, not having family or any form of outside support has caused me to feel forgotten, lonely, uncared for, and unworthy of being loved. That was something I wasn't ready or able to admit.

I know there are a lot of people who can relate to this reality of mines. So this piece is for you! By observing my behavior and overall attitude, one wouldn't know or even suspect that I am without family or outside support because I carry myself in such a way that would have one believe I have all kinds of support. When in REALITY, it's just me! In fact, several people who have been made aware of my Reality have asked me, "How do you do it?" In truth, I don't even know at times. Maybe it's my faith and belief that God has something greater planned for me as long as I remain focused, see things through, and Not allow the curve balls life tends to throw at us to knock me down. It may even be my belief that I'm not a quitter therefore I have to keep on keepin" on, no matter how rough the road may get. Or simply the belief that what doesn't kill me will only make me stronger. Whatever the case, the fact remains that I've managed to remain strong amidst many adversities. Not having family and outside support is only one of many.

At the beginning of this incarceration my family was in my corner and I had plenty of outside support- Five or six years into my bit all of that changed and I can't even begin to tell you what happened. Then again, scratch that because I know exactly what happened. Life happened! As a result, visits, cards and letters, and money came farther and farther apart, until it all just stopped all together. I couldn't understand it because I appreciated my family and friends and I made sure to let them know that. But they still disappeared and for the longest of time I blamed myself. I figured they were ashamed of my being incarcerated or I wasn't worthy of their love, and so on and so forth. I wanted so much to believe that my family and friends were going to be by my side forever. Having to accept the reality (TRUTH) that they weren't hurt me far more than I can express in writing. Hence, the TRUTH - (the second) T + read backwards = HURT! (TRUTH - T = TRUH <-> = HURT)

The fact is, neither family nor friends ride forever. The realization that, that wasn't going to happen for me was a piece of reality (TRUTH) that walked up and rudely punched me square in the nose. In addition to that, it took a stab at every, single one of my emotions because other realities (TRUTHS) were brought to the forefront. Like the reality that my family is not and was not obligated to do for or wait around for me. Or the reality that I have a life sentence and may never get out of prison or see my family again, as that has already proven to be the case. Or the reality that life goes on, whether in prison or out; with or without me. And of course the list of realities (TRUTHS) go on and on. I've been incarcerated for nearly eighteen (18) years now and twelve (12) or thirteen (13) of those years have been without family, friends or any outside support. And life hasn't gotten any easier for me, especially when I see people not appreciating their families and the support systems they might have. I'm often left asking myself, why me? What did I do to deserve being abandoned as such. As I'm sure those of you who can relate tend to do. So what's one to do?

For starters, one must not ignore his or her not having family, friends and outside support. Accept it for what it is and embrace the feelings such may cause, be them good or bad. And know that not having family, friends and outside support DOES NOT say anything about you. For you are worthy of being loved and cared about. But my point is this, which Whitney Houston said it best, "Learning to love yourself; that is the greatest love of all!" And that was the lesson I had to learn. Yeah, it's a tough pill to swallow but you must take the medicine in order to cure the illness.

For those of you who have family, friends, and outside support: Cherish and appreciate them to the fullest! Don't allow that opportunity to pass you by or to be taken for granted because in REALITY, NO-THING lasts forever! Nope, not even family, and friends. As it is said, "You don't miss the water until the well runs dry!" When you find yourself feeling unappreciative for whatever reason, just think of those of us who have not!

Andrae L. Bridges

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