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Posted by: Elron Mings | 19July2018

Getting Back To Being Me…

I’ve been back in the “real world” now for 37 days, and the effects of my incarceration have yet to abate themselves from my psyche. After 6 years, 9 months, 11 days (2444 days total… yes, I counted them all), I find that regardless of how hard I tried to prevent becoming “institutionalized”, I accomplished just the opposite. I am more institutionalized than I imagined possible.
I avoided some of the more common related “issues”, because I didn’t allow myself to be roped in to the “games” being played and the petty violence that was rampant. I refused to “politic”, and though there were many who did not appreciate this, I was not seriously beaten for my refusal, in part because of my age, in part because I simply avoided most “social” settings, in part because I professed and stuck to/with my religious beliefs about such senseless and destructive behavior(s).
There is MUCH that could be told about the situation(s) which I witnessed, and tried to avoid. But others have popularized them, even glorified them plenty, and that’s not the topic at hand… Ironically, because of the very reason of my avoidance(s), I created a little bubble in my head, and denied my surroundings to get in. It worked! Except that now, I’m having trouble getting “me” back out.
The mental, or inner “connection” is still there, I am still “me”, and in some regards, more so… but inwardly, much more than outwardly. Not in some seriously debilitating way, per se, but in so many little ways!
To explain, let me first relate some of the “mental” goings-on I’ve experienced as of late.
The first two days “out”, were about the worst. I was in a state of shell shock, in lieu of some very extreme sensory overload!! It’s amazing to me (still) how fast the “free” (U.S.) world moves, and things literally happened and went by in a blur, as I stood still (or so it seemed). Not only had I been left behind technologically, but I’d left myself behind emotionally. Not that I didn’t feel on the “inside”, indeed, I became almost hyper sensitive. But INTERNALLY. Externally, I did my best to keep my emotional self tucked away, and displayed them only within the confines of my “rack” or “bunk”, where, if I cried, those who walked by either didn’t notice, or pretended not to. Both, to be sure, and I’d say more of the former than the latter, but simply because I avoided the recognition of most. I can count on a single hand the number of people I “socialized” with during that -nearly- 7 year period.
Those of you who know me personally, know how much of a deviation that is from my “norm”. I remained “Friendly”, on a purely superficial level, but COULD NOT risk, or afford, to be “me” in a very real sense, except in small and controlled amounts, being ever mindful of those by whom I was surrounded.
There were a few instances where I came close to “cracking”, but I sheltered my self well enough that by the time those occasions took place I was already considered by most to be “weird” at best, and who knows what other thoughts of me “they” may have had. I didn’t, and couldn’t care. I avoided their “world”, and they avoided “mine” for the most part.
The problem with this approach of mine (I am now discovering), though it kept me (for the most part) physically safe, and preserved my mental “self”, is that I developed a habit of almost 7 years of non-interaction, and non-expression, and guardedness, that is spilling over into THIS reality.
I remember how to “act” in this reality, but my body is at times slow to act. Things that should readily be at the forefront of my mind, are swimming in a whirlwind of mush that isn’t sure how to, or even if it should, congeal. I know that I have to abide by the “curfew” I have at the transitional housing I’m residing in, but instead of getting that internal alarm saying “Hey, aren’t you supposed to be somewhere soon?”, it doesn’t dawn on me until I’m walking through the door…
My vocabulary is another (and, for me) disturbing example. I had, before quitting my incarceration, developed a vocabulary I was nearly comfortable with (…again, those that know me know that I’ve been working on increasing/improving my vocabulary since my departure from the mid-west. Uuggghhhh), after so many years of struggling to build upon it! Simple pronouns escape me now!! LOL It’s ridiculous how much “simple” conversation is baffling me, though the situation is (and has been) improving!
Routine… Who’d have thought, that coming from such a FORCED and structured environment, not to mention {… I SO dislike that phraseology… because you’re always using it as a preface to what’s “not” being mentioned…} the fact that I’m a foul creature of habit, that having one of my “own” design would prove so difficult!!! LOL It’s as if I’m moving in “slow motion”, and even though I’m aware of the passage of time, I simply am not accomplishing what I set out to do! There are exceptions, and things I AM getting done in a “timely” manner, but I feel lost if I don’t have my newly purchased day planner inches from me and easily accessible. (An extreme example that doesn’t quite fit the reality, but… see “lack of vocabulary” above.)
Things are not aligning as they should, or at least not as I think they should. Memory and reality are NOT mixing together well. I hold no illusion(s) that ANYthing should, or would be as it was. Too much time has past. But it seems to be taking more effort on my part to make simple connections, like grabbing the water bottle that was VISIBLY on the outside seat -closest to the isle- of the bus I was on (I of course was sitting on the “inside” seat), but no. I got up and left it there like it was its own passenger, and I simply had to get around it to get off the bus. It didn’t occur to me that I’d left it behind until I was already back at the “house”, and went to grab it from the holder on my bicycle.
These snippets sound (perhaps) more extreme than what the reality is. Not that I’m embellishing, but they are only parts of a whole. Again, I am functioning, and am (I believe) completely capable of being IN the “real” world, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post. But I can see, in so many minute details, my own incompleteness. I guess the best analogy is looking at a puzzle, and seeing a “complete” picture, even KNOWING that there are pieces missing. And I don’t know where some of those pieces went.
Make no mistake, I am in NO WAY claiming to be any less Blessed than I KNOW I am! In fact, that I am where I am, and have had the people I have as my contacts, my base, is a testament to that!! I couldn’t be, and truly wouldn’t be doing as well as I am without the Blessing(s) of so many Good people being in my Life right now, that are NOTHING but supportive, and (to the best of their ability) understanding of my situation, willing to do whatever they’re able to assist!
But I am no longer whole. And I don’t know which neurons aren’t firing, or why. I’m in no danger of acting out, or doing something I KNOW I shouldn’t, yet I’m no longer the me I was, and the me I “am” hasn’t yet found the me I left behind. Or where I hid him.
In some regards that’s a good thing! I’ve certainly grown through my period of incarceration. My Spirituality is stronger and more than it’s ever been! I’ve taken several (college) classes in English, and coding, I read almost 370 books while “down”, I neglected my “physical” health though… I’ve got about 20 pounds to shed. But I was keeping my mind strong, where -most- others were keeping their bodies strong. I steadfastly avoided doing anything “they” considered normal. I didn’t get into trouble, or bad-mouth the C.O.’s, or discuss women as though they were property or slabs of meat (which nearly drove me NUTS, for my inability to escape such demeaning and WRONG dialogue(s)).
And now I’m finding it difficult to be the me I KNOW I am, the one that’s hiding somewhere in my head. It’s not that he (I) doesn’t (don’t) want to be the me I KNOW I should be and am, I’m just not sure how.

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Responses

  1. Dear, dear frie nd. I am in no way demeaning your experiences with being incarcerated and returning to the “real” world, but I have to tell you that much of what you seem to be experiencing now are familiar to me through chemotherapy and aging. The world is difficult to (it has taken me at least 2 minutes to find the word that I want to use within the fogged recesses of my brain and still have to replace it with another!) walk through, especially when you are not tethered to your self. But a dear friend suggested a method that I have begun using to restore myself: yoga.

    Just thought you’d like to know you are not alone in what you are feeling. I love you Elron.

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  2. Yoga is tanfastic!! Isn’t it? LOL I thank you always for your input, and am sorry to hear/read that these troubles are shared, comforting as it is. That we face these challenges as boldly as we are are able I Believe to be more important than the causes, and being able to share the “related” experience priceless! You are very near and dear to my heart my Friend, and I Pray that all remains well (as possible) with and for you, Sofia, and Calico! My contact info is updated on my Facebook page, if you are able/willing/wanting to “connect” through (an)other medium(s). You are a source of Light within my Life, and have indeed helped through one of the darkest of my times/experiences. Know that you ARE in my thoughts often, and Prayers always! Namaste! 😉

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