Thursday, March 1, 2018

Life Goes On, So Should We

How many brothers fell victim to the streets?

In May of 2001 I had a nervous breakdown. I completely came apart at the seams. When I look back on that day- and the events that led up to it- I can't believe it didn't come sooner.

Our Virginia family was traveling to Delaware for my oldest nephew's high school graduation. Me and my father were leading the convoy. Being alone afforded us some time to catch up. We talked sports most of the morning: the Philadelphia 76ers were set to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. As the minutes turned into hours, our casual conversations turned into silence. Somewhere around Northern Virginia I started thinking; then I started overthinking. For the first time in several weeks I was in a situation where I couldn't avoid facing the hell my life had become. I physically started to feel sick. I was drowning in a sea of uncertainty. Without warning, I burst into to tears. I cried for 20 straight minutes without saying a word. When my dad stopped at a rest area I got out of the jeep and ran to my mom (who was traveling in another vehicle) I felt myself collapse. 

My breakdown was the result of a combination of factors: many were my own fault. I wasn't properly dealing with the death of a close friend, the woman I thought I loved was incarcerated in a Montgomery county jail, I was arrested a few weeks before the trip for possession of schedule 1 with intent to distribute, and I had been indicted in another jurisdiction on similar charges. I thought my life was over. 

That was 2001. I didn't see a path to the future. On Friday March 18, 2002, I was convicted of my crimes and wouldn't leave the Virginia Department of Corrections until November 16, 2011. 

Writing this is surreal. Life can seem impossible at times. I made a million mistakes- some of which I'm still paying for. I never wanted to go to prison. I missed a lot of time with my family and friends. I lost loved ones. I suffered a lot for my mistakes, but I wouldn't change one step along this journey. Life Goes On whether we are prepared for it or not. We make our mistakes worse by not learning from them. There is nothing we can't overcome once we dedicate ourselves to addressing our hidden weaknesses and insecurities. 

A few years ago, I sent my wife a text she still laughs at. It read: I love you isn't a radical enough notion for how I truly feel about you. You are the physical manifestation of my metaphysical conception of love. I meant every word of that message. Love is powerful. Love is beautiful and tender. I'm slowly growing into the man she knew I could be when we were kids. The pain in this life is real, but I promise you Life Goes On. Keep grinding. This was the most painful chapter in my life and feel better right now than I did when I started typing. We can survive and overcome any of our mistakes.

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