Sometimes I get so caught up in what I am doing next and where I have come from, sometimes I forget to take a second to see how I am doing in the present.
People ask me all the time, “How are you doing?”
It’s so easy to say, “Fine.” (Right Nora)!
But many times that is a lie. But, what? I am not going to stop them on the middle of the compound or in your case the street and unload all my problems on them?
Well actually… Yesterday, my sister was giving me feedback about some of my recent posts and she asked, “How are you doing and what are you doing, now?” I thought, oh ya I guess I could talk about that as if it had never crossed my mind before.
So, I guess you could say I am “Fine.” Just kidding the truth is I am doing the best I can. Most days I am happy, sometimes I am depressed and questioning if I can make it another day in here. Other times I am angry at myself, my past or whoever is being a pain in the ass that day.
I have been so busy lately that 10 pm, the final stand-up count before bed, can’t come fast enough because I am about to collapse on my bunk and I won’t wake up until my alarm sounds at 6 am the following morning and it’s time to do it all again.
Something new in my life is I have been leaving the compound, five days a week, for a work assignment. (Note from Editor: This work assignment is on hold during the lockdown of the BOP due to the Coronavirus)
This detail is for inmates, who are under a year from release and prior to this job I had only left the compound one time, three months ago to get my license, and I had also been working food service the entire time. So a change of pace has been really nice because even though I can’t express enough the importance of a good routine, I always can’ t express the importance of changing things up and this was much overdue.
It’s hard to describe the feeling I get when I leave each day but I will try, it’s like a weight is lifted off my chest, all that negative energy just evaporates and I can breathe, it’s flipping amazing. It has worn off a little bit over the past few weeks but I still appreciate it just as much each time I leave. I can only guess that the feelings and emotions that I experience are only a small glimpse of what I will feel when I am released.
The only problem is every day I have to come back, the first day was the hardest. I almost forgot that I had to return and when the prison grounds came into sight, I experienced the same feeling I had when my mom and Aunt, Anne, dropped me off in Milan back in 2013. That emptiness in my stomach like I hadn’t eaten in a couple of days and then it just gets twisted into knots. That feeling has subsided a bit over the past few weeks as well and I realize I just have to take the good with the bad.
My creative writing class has also given me plenty of time to work on my material since the two are so closely related. Anything I write for the blog is something I can use in class, to workshop, get additional feedback on, and receive different perspectives on my writing. When the class started last month I predicted that it was going to be a game-changer for my writing and so far it has lived up to my expectations. Worked into my busy schedule as of late, I find time to work on my material Monday nights, Tuesday evenings and nights and Wednesday nights, plenty of time to get all my work done.
Since I finished the drug program back in June of 2019, I have been attending a 12-step program and I had been putting off finding a sponsor and working the steps since then. I told myself that attending the meetings and building relationships with the members was enough, even though I knew I needed to do more. My final excuse was, “its football season,” and now that is done.
So I picked a sponsor, Dennis Cockerham and started the steps. I am only through the first series of questions but I can already see the trip I am about to take is going to be enlightening. Over the past year, I have shared my writings with Dennis and he always seemed to enjoy them and related them to step work and thought that was so cool. He also told me that for this reason when I actually start the steps it’s is going to directly correlate with my writings and I can share them as well since anonymity is for the group, not the individual.
I will share some of my step work but for now, I will only share what it has done for my current state of mind. In the first two weeks since I started, it has brought me through a series of emotional highs and lows. You realize your life consists of layers and you think you know yourself and then you expose another layer and realize how much more work you have ahead of you. It’s exhausting work but I know it’s necessary work if I am serious about not repeating the same mistakes that I have made since I was a kid. I have found it to be a great way to cap off the day as I meet with my sponsor at 9 pm every night, to actually see how one another is doing and to see what progress I have made on my step work.
So, back to me and the original question about how I am doing?
The truth of the matter is that I am still a hot mess, but l am doing the best I can with what I have to work with.
I am staying immensely busy and I know that isn’t always the answer but I feel like I am running out of time to complete what I want to complete before September when I go home, which probably sounds crazy and my sister and I both laugh every time we say we are running out of time like we don’t want me to get out ha-ha.
I am keeping balance in my life, between work, treatment, physical fitness, diet, sleep, and leisure time. Some of my friends on the compound might disagree with the last part, as I recently overheard a friend say, “it’s pointless to be Noah’s friend right now since he has started this 23-hour workday.”
But hey, if you want something bad enough you have to work your ass off to get it. I still have days when I hate myself but they come along much less often.
I still have doubts and worries about getting out and disappointing everyone, but I know the work I am doing now is my best chance of making it. Since I started my sentence back in September of 2013 I believe I am at my best point yet.
I hope that I only go up from here. I am going to continue to keep busting my ass but I will remember to check in much more often to see how I am doing and if that answer is “Fine,” then I will stop everything I am doing and ask for help. 🙂
Thanks for listening,