I Faced A Life Sentence At Eighteen

The Abstract Mirror

I Faced A Life Sentence At Eighteen

I faced a life sentence at 18 years old. Being a young man at the podium, and awaiting sentencing with the possibility of a maximum term of life in prison, hits hard.  I was standing there in tears over the idea.  Analyzing the number of lost life experiences and relationships and the scary idea of what was to come.

Miraculously, I was granted a second chance at life, and I was graced with a sentence of 112 months in WA state prisons.  Although it meant that I would be spending almost a decade of my young life in a place that was terrifying and unknown.  It also meant I had an opportunity to begin writing a better script with the remainder of my life.  I would have another chance at a better life at the end of it all.

I went to work on myself.  It all began with the question, “ How did I get here?”.  I was and always have been a good-hearted person.  I cared for the people around me.  I was inquisitive and hard working.  When I did my work, I was among the top of my class.  I was also always among the best on the ball field.

What people didn’t know was that at home my life was full of neglect and abuse.  My mother a loving soul, was ruled by religion and fear.  My father was extremely abusive to her and to us.  Poor choices from my parents brought about poverty and disparity that was disabling to myself and my 6 younger siblings.

I’m still not exactly sure when it was I noticed that what I was living with was different from other families.  I don’t even remember all the trauma I have been through and the things I was exposed too.  What I can assure you though, is that there were some extremely awful and painful parts to my beginning.

What I do remember starkly, is the feeling I felt.  The feeling that not only was my situation different but that I was different.  I felt ashamed, hurt, and inadequate.  I felt that everything I did was from a setback.  It’s like everyone got to start at the 39-yard line in a 40-yard dash, and myself at 0.

I watched my younger siblings go through the same feelings.  I watched them not have a birthday celebration, and I got to receive the guilt of having some being the 1st born when money wasn’t as tight.  I watched them be abused and scarred the same way I was.

In order to have anything, I began taking it.  Hustling it.  I was filled with anger and acted on the belief that I had no other choice.  I started selling drugs for money.  I started being mean to people who would try to get close to me.  I couldn’t allow anyone close to me in fear that they wouldn’t accept or love me.  I tried to be somebody and something I wasn’t, in order to create a feeling of self-worth.

That’s what brought me to the self-destructive behavior that landed me onto that podium.  A lack of self-worth.
Realizing that, allowed me to begin to make better choices.  I realized that my situation was indeed bad, and there were many outside influences that helped to create a lack of self-worth.  However, my feelings of inadequacy did not grant me the right to continue down this path of self-destructive behavior, and I had an opportunity to change that.

Fast forward to my life now.  I am free and have been for some time.  I am the father of two amazing young men.  I own a growing and thriving business.  I help and love my community.

With all that though I still struggle with my sense of self-worth.  Sometimes I even slip back into self-destructive behavior that doesn’t serve me well.  I feel like self-worth work is a life-long daily chore.  The winning formula for me is acceptance, goal setting, positive self-talk, helping others, and above everything else.  NEVER GIVING UP!!


Written by:  Dom L.

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