Rock Bottom for me was jail, and a federal conspiracy felony to go with it. I won’t get into the details about that in this entry. But I will say that it came from being one of the many misguided inner city youth without a positive role model in his life. Just know that I was never a bad person, and never harmed anyone. Just got caught up in the inner city street culture, glorifying gangsters, trying to be cool and all that. But that landed me in jail, and it was a crazy experience.
When we think about jail, I believe the fears are getting beat up, shanked, or raped by a scary looking dude with tattoos on his face. All those terrifying scenes we see on TV and the movies. However, with my experience in jail, those things weren’t really much of a problem. I came to learn that the horrific aspect of jail was the boredom.
I use an analogy of a bathroom when trying to describe the horrific experience of being in jail. Imagine your bathroom, imagine taking everything out of your bathroom, all the cleaning products, all the pictures, the mirror, everything, leaving nothing in that room except for one roll of toilet paper. From there, imagine sitting in that empty bathroom for 45 minutes, with nothing to look at but the bare walls. What would you do? How would you spend that 45 minutes with nothing to stimulate your mind and keep you occupied? If that sounds bad, imagine doing that for over 24 hours. That right there was the horrific part of jail that I wasn’t prepared for.
And on top of that it wasn’t your bathroom that I was sitting in. Imagine a filthy and disgusting public bathroom. That’s where I had to sit for over 24 hours when I first arrived in jail, and it was the closest thing to torture that I have ever experienced. That lack of mental stimulation, only having four white disgusting walls to look for over 24 hours was unbearable. And there’s nothing I could do about it.
It’s interesting how I never thought about a situation like that before being in it. It’s not something we come close to encountering out in the world, maybe getting stuck in an elevator or something.
The first thing I thought to do to pass the time was sleep. But, on top of all the horrible things I mentioned, I forgot to add that there were four super long fluorescent tube light bulbs blaring down on me in that tiny room, so I couldn’t sleep. On top of that it was very cold. I’m not sure I believe this now, but at the time I was sure that the conditions in that room were precisely set up to break someone down. And it broke me down for sure.
I consider myself one of the most in control people I know. I never throw temper tantrums, never road rage, and never lose my temper. But by the 26th hour, I lost it, I couldn’t take the lack of mental stimulation anymore. Luckily around that time, a guard came and got me, to take me out of that receiving cell and take me to the normal more permanent cells.
I started pleading to that guard, to please give me a book or something, anything to occupy my mind. When I got to the normal pod, things weren’t as unbearable. It still sucked, but I had books I could read, a window to look out of, and people to talk to. I spent the next three weeks in that pod, until I was able to bond out.
I was happy on that final day, knowing that I was going to leave that terrible place to go home. But, they had one more departing gift for me before I left. I had to sit in that same horrible torture room for another 14 hours, waiting for them to process my release. It was just as horrific as it was the first time. Not having any idea when they were coming to get me was hard to deal with. It could have been in the next minute or next couple hours. It just sucked so bad.
But eventually they did get me, and walked me out the doors into the free world. I remember thinking to myself as I was walking away from that place that I would never do another crime again. I would never do anything that would put me in risk of having to return to that horrible place.
Every now ant then I hear people complain how jail doesn’t rehabilitate people. Well, that place rehabilitated the %$#@ out of me.
So, I knew I was never going to do crime again. And thought to myself what should I do next? And the first thing that came to my mind was try school, go to college.
And that right there was the rock bottom moment when I turned my life around.