Just a few months ago I sat in my cell looking ahead to the day when I will return to society. And, while envisioning new life, being around family and freely living without the fear of looking over my shoulder, I had to honestly ask myself am I really ready? Physically, the answer was easy. But I knew I second guessed myself mentally. After spending the past sixteen years as an active gang member, I was stuck straddling the fence. Here in the Challenge Program at United States Penitentiary (USP) Tucson I spend hours each day with the tools preparing to change those old behaviors. On the other hand, when I left the doors of D-2, I found myself throwing up my set when I crossed paths with any other Bloods. So I asked myself a second question, has any good come out of those sixteen years of bangin’? As I replayed all of the past drama that came with the gang lifestyle, my answer was an easy no.
I know that in order for me to really move forward bangin’ and the gang lifestyle is a door that I need to close. I now believe courage is not having the heart to ride whenever my number was called. Courage is being able to stand on what is right, even if it means turning the crowd against me. This is a step I was willing to take. I first made a list of all of the active members of my set whom I could break the news to. This task was even more uncomfortable than my pull-up on inappropriate behavior. I danced around the job for nearly a week. Fortunately, I shared this task with a true friend, and he was on me. Finally, after six days, I scratched the first name off of my list. And to my surprise, the others became easier.
An open door is a negative attitude, an irrational belief or the inability to say no. I am learning that by not saying no, and standing on it, I leave the door open for the pressure to continue and even worse contemplation. If you have any doors even cracked, close them. And watch how many windows of positive opportunity come your way.