Longing for Contact
Editor's note: Kevin Sherrill is incarcerated in a Maryland prison. He has been corresponding with one of IAHR's pen pals for the last few years. He wrote this essay for the IAHR website and it is addressed especially to people who have been convicted of committing a crime.
I have been incarcerated since 1998 with a short parole break, as I reoffended due to a relapse. I knew better yet the cycle of addiction I undervalued. While on parole, I was still incarcerated, just doing the time in society--not behind the walls, razorwire, and fences that surround the environment of those convicted.
One of the greatest pains is losing out on family support and friendships. I share this advice as it has been given to me recently. It has resonated so well that it has been a saving grace for my mental health and desire to go on and be better. This for you the incarcerated. I know you want some type of response frome those who are family and friends, but you will probably not get it. I'm always anxious during mail call. You have to face the fact that your past choices have a cost. The loss of contact is one of the costs.
Buddha says, "Peace begins, when expectation ends." Embrace that saying. Write what you need to say, but don't expect anything in return. Don't expect "thank you" or forgiveness. When I write it is because it's what feels right for me, and not expecting anything in return has made me be a better person without bitterness.
It's the same thing for anyone in my life, especially my children. I tell them and other family and friends that I am sorry for whatever I have done or not done. I tell them all that is in my heart. But remember expect nothing back. This is where you find peace because you know that you have done all you can in your present situation.
I have learned to understand that some people don't forgive easily. Some don't forgive at all. That's their cross to bear and it's not mine, not yours. Sure it hurts to know you have lost someone you care about. But it's the price! Accept it and move on. For many years of incarceration, I struggle daily and I'm sure you do too. The loneliness, the pain of making the worst mistake of life.
This thing called LIFE is brutal and I am learning to live with my decisions no matter how unfortunate, but this is how life works. So continue to reach out and love; someone will notice. Ultimately remember Buddha's rule. You'll feel better.