Tag: drugs

4th of July, 2015 – Can you find freedom while in prison?

For those of you with family and loved ones in prison on this 4th of July holiday weekend, especially those imprisoned for crimes of drug use, I will tell you this – freedom is a state of mind. A person can be more free while incarcerated than they ever were on the outside.

When I was going through real bad times with drug use I was not free. Sure, maybe I could jump in my truck and drive to a party on the 4th, drink some beer and eat some barbecue and that is so-called freedom, compared to being locked in a prison environment. But the reality is – that freedom isn’t real at all. My days and all my actions were consumed with getting drugs and maintaining my habit. I lied, I stole and I got pretty low during that time. I resorted to some things I didn’t think I would ever do. I didn’t care for the person I had become and I didn’t care that I didn’t care. It was best not to care actually.

In contrast to that, when I got sent to prison it was a time for me to get straight with myself. I am not just talking about kicking the dope. I did a lot of soul searching during that time. I read a lot of books that were deep and got me thinking in a few new ways. One of my favorites was “We Are All Doing Time” by the late Bo Lazoff. There were two major ideas in that book that helped me cope with imprisonment. One was that “everything is going to be OK”, regardless of the situation. I know that sounds too pie in the sky and kind of stupid. Sometimes things aren’t OK. Terrible situations exist, in prison and out. I won’t get into the whole idea behind it but basically it’s a way of looking at life and the situation you find yourself in, no matter how shitty, and accepting it for what it is, and finding a way to be OK with it.

The other concept I pondered a lot and still hang onto today is, you are only as free as your own mind is. When you are incarcerated and being treated like crap all the way around and living in conditions that are uncomfortable and lonely and sad – you can still choose to be free in your mind. You can have good thoughts in bad situations. You can be kind to others and to yourself even in an environment like prison, and you can grow and rise above a lot, if you choose to.

For anyone, incarcerated or not, who isn’t feeling free, I recommend this book. It’s a classic in the prison world but a good read for anyone. It is spiritual in nature but down to earth and easy to read. You can find it at The Human Kindness Foundation, a group that does prison outreach that was started by Bo and his wife Sita years ago. If you want to read a quick summary of the ideas behind Bo’s book, this write up about Bo Lozoff by Douglas Goetsch does a pretty good job. I like where it says “listen to your better angel, see the cell as a world, see the prison block as a garden, see the divine in the faces of the guards, the bullies, prosecuting attorneys, parole boards; write your daughter, apologize to your ex-, renounce your pals—they’re not your friends— forgive your father, forgive yourself.”

Peace out everyone. Hope your 4th is a time of freedom for you and your loved ones. ~ Magnum

The Holidays – Then and Now

While I was in prison, the holidays were sad days. I couldn’t help but feel alone and sad and think of my family and friends more than usual. I think it’s safe to say that was something almost all of us in prison dealt with, although some tried to act like they didn’t care. Maybe they didn’t, who knows. We did try to make the best of it. We were given a better meal than usual, with baked chicken and turkey. Baked chicken is one of the few things that prison cooking can’t screw up, since it’s relatively simple and doesn’t require much in the way of seasoning. We also would make our own spread, pooling all of our items from commissary on one of the tables in the common area. Might not sound like it, but a buffet of ramen noodles, tuna fish, peanut butter and crackers can be downright festive if that is all you’ve got. We tried to have some laughs and have a little holiday spirit but I will be honest, it was a stretch. At night, when it was time to go to sleep, my last thoughts of the day were spent imagining the smiling faces of my family and dreaming of a future I wasn’t sure could ever be mine. I never want to be that lonely again.

This year my Christmas was like the exact polar opposite of those darker days. I had my wife and my son, who is 1 month old now, beside me. We took a couple nice drives to look at Christmas lights around town, and we listened to Christmas music quite a bit. Money is tight but we got lucky. We got a Christmas tree from my grandfather which added a lot of Christmas spirit to our place. Then I got a little Christmas bonus at work so we went shopping for ourselves and got a few necessities like some new work clothes for me, and things for my wife and son, and we wrapped them up and put them under the tree. That might sound a little goofy but it was fun.

If you are spending the holidays away from your loved ones, if they are incarcerated or living the life of addiction somewhere, hold on to hope. Things change. People change. What I learned is life is good when you let it be.

Imagine me, a father and husband, celebrating the holidays with my family, surrounded with so much love and happiness. This is the dream I had and now it is true. I have a lot to be thankful for, and a lot to look forward to in 2014. Peace to y’all ~ Texas Magnum

Doing the time the best I can

Every day I wake up and just hope and pray that the day is calm, that no fights break out and people are minding their own business. Every day I spend at least a little time trying not to get angry and fed up at the men who are rude for no reason. At the people who yell. At those who think they are tough or big telling about their crimes and the people they have hurt in life. At the people who like to make it a big point to say that they don’t care.

I wish I had something great to tell everyone right now. I am in a class that lasts 3 hours a day. The information in it is not helpful at all. Anybody who is an adult should already know this stuff. Maybe it helps a few people, it’s hard to say and I don’t find it useful. Most in the class seem bored and the only thing it serves for is to make a little chunk of time pass.

I have a whole lot of time on my hands. I do a lot of exercise. Some of my cellies can draw or make things, and that keeps them busy. Some watch a lot of television and sleep a lot. Some look for trouble. I can’t draw and I don’t want trouble. I tend to get too wound up if I don’t do something to move and stay busy. So, I do squats, and pushups, and all kinds of exercises. I do burpees, for those of you who don’t know what they are, look them up. Those will wear you out. I notice I look thinner than I ever have, my face is narrow. I was thin when I got arrested, due to the drugs. Now I weigh about 30 pounds more, but I am thinner too.

The food here is terrible. It’s a real challenge to eat at all healthy. We get no fresh fruit or vegetables to speak of. Maybe an orange once a week or so. Canned vegetables. Occasionally canned peaches. Lots of turkey. LOTS AND LOTS of turkey. Lots of beans. The portions are small, and not satisfying. I am lucky that I have some commissary money and I buy tuna and oatmeal and a few other things.

Sometimes I get messages from people who read the blog and they say I am helping them. Here’s the thing, I am glad if something I wrote did help them, but when I started writing this, I never planned to help anybody besides myself. I was really writing to just get some thoughts out, and try to make sense of this, and how I got here. I find it weird that people find my words helpful. I recently was able to read a couple of my very first posts, and I almost didn’t remember being in that state of mind and writing some of those things. I have changed a lot since then. My eyes are open to the reality of prison, and some of my thoughts about how I would get through it then are very different now.

I haven’t written much lately. It’s a little difficult to explain the way I have been feeling. I appreciate all the support and the fact that anyone takes time to send me a message is awesome. Strangers have reached out to me and that is a beautiful thing. But the more time I spend sitting in here locked up the more I find myself thinking that we are really messing ourselves up with so much focus on being online, online gaming, facebook and blogs. People should get away from their computer and start living for real. When I get out of here I’m not going to be sitting in front of a computer. I want to be outdoors every day.

Bottom line, I am doing this time the best I can, but there is nothing good about it. To any of you out there considering stupid choices, don’t be dumb. Don’t be me, locked up at 23 years old and feeling like I haven’t accomplished a damn thing with my life.

“I can” – the strength of those words

Within the last two days, two of my buddies here in the unit got moved. I was really sad to see them go. One in particular had become a really good friend. He was a good dude and I had spent a lot of my days talking and sharing stories and thoughts with him. He was really good at Scrabble! I felt sad for him, as intelligent as he was, he has spent 15 years in prison and was doing another 3 this time. He is the one who described the experience of getting out of prison and wanting to live too much. Like me, he had used heroin and meth. And, previously, getting out had only resulted in him falling back into those old habits again.

It’s funny, because you learn different lessons from the various people you encounter in life. Of course, I had heard the expressions “don’t say you can’t” and “just do it” but I still doubted myself in many areas.

But, after working out with my buddy several times, I started to believe I could do things that previously I had told myself “I can’t.” I would say to him, “dude, I can’t do a handstand” and sure enough, with that attitude, I couldn’t. He encouraged me to believe I COULD do a handstand, to tell myself “I CAN”. After awhile I started to embrace that thinking while we were doing our workouts. Now, I still can’t do a GREAT handstand, but I am doing handstands. I believe I can, I have it in me now, and I am getting there. That is truthfully the only thing that changed in my workout, my attitude went from “can’t” to “CAN”.

To take this in another direction, I have had it in my mind for awhile now that I don’t have to abuse drugs anymore, or live selfishly, and I feel this in my heart. I believe it. I told my buddy in one of our conversations, “You know what, I am not doing it any more. Life is too fragile to die that way.”

The day before he left, I had spent some time talking with him, he was really feeling down. I know why too, I could see it, that same feeling I’ve had when you find yourself in the same damn rut as before, and you wonder if things will ever change.

Well, when I recognized that in his demeanor, I told him, “you know what, it doesn’t have to be this way for us. We just have to stop telling ourselves “can’t”.

I realized right then that has been a lot of my OWN problems in the past. I have made a firm decision now that I am not gonna allow myself to let my life fall apart behind selfish desires. Heroin, meth, all that crap, it isn’t worth it.

My friend thanked me that night for being a positive influence on him. Imagine that – a 39 year old man thanking ME for influencing him. If I can influence him then I can damn well do the same thing for myself.

You know, life is crazy. Sometimes it seems you meet someone for awhile, then they are just gone from your life again. It seems that you are supposed to take that experience and what you learned from it, and share it with another, pass it along. Take the good from anything you can and leave the bad behind.

For many of us who are incarcerated, it’s time to leave our childish ways behind and to become real men. We CAN become men who use our hearts and minds above their fists, and men who act for reasons beyond selfishness. Men who CAN succeed and enjoy living free.

Ha, it’s just like Obama says —  “Yes, we can.”

Peace out ~ Magnum

Letting go

I’m mad. I’m anxious. I’m just all around worried. I sit here and sit here and sit here. And I go over and over how I could have lived my life different. I know I could have done better. I am scared for my future.

All these thoughts bring nothing but negative emotions and urges. I feel like starting a fight with anyone who crosses me, I have the urge to use drugs, drink, shoot up. And I find myself judging others, in an attempt to defend my actions and outbursts and bad attitude.

I know at moments like this, I am my own worse enemy. I am letting my old ways and my old thinking get the best of me.

When this happens I remember a saying from A.A.-  “Let go, and let god.” I remind myself of this with a serenity prayer, and I try to reassure myself by letting my higher power know that I acknowledge that he’s the one who is in control, and I’m just gonna let him handle the things in front of me that seem impossible. Meanwhile, I will try my best to do the next right thing.

Thank you for reaching out

Thank you to everyone who has commented on this blog site. I have received your messages and I want you to know that you all help me more than you can imagine. I have never been complimented on my thoughts so much. I always thought that what I had to say didn’t have any worth, but you all are helping me to believe in myself and my recovery.

To everyone who is struggling with drugs or who knows and loves somebody who is suffering, I want to let you know that even when things seem at their lowest, things can and do get better. I am in jail, headed to prison, some might consider this a low point in my life but my lowest was when I was out on the street using and feeling so much shame. Now I feel I am growing.

If any of you would like to write me a personal letter I would be happy to receive it and read what you have to say and learn what your story is. I truly believe that recovery cannot be done alone so let’s do it together and grow.

My whole life I have always been a giver, sometimes giving the wrong things and in the wrong ways, but I have always wanted to help when I saw someone needed something. Now I know that with a little kindness and an open heart I can help others and help myself too.

Peace, Love and Noodles ~ Magnum