That feeling of loneliness developed, due largely to the many self-defeating habits I had developed by then, into a mounting and crippling sense of self-loathing which persisted, almost without respite, until recently.
It's more complicated than that, of course, and looking back, I made some impressively, spectacularly awful decisions, but that statement captures the essence of it.
Besides, that loooong chain of poor decisions started long before I was even twelve years old and beginning to have those suicidal thoughts, and they just built and built -- although I wish I'd broken the chain earlier, ultimately I'm willing to forgive myself and work from where I am now.
I began coaching with my old high school Cross Country team when I was twenty-two, and while I am certain the sense of purpose I found in coaching literally saved my life from suicide, it was also a source of opportunities for connection, which became my downfall. When I was twenty-five, I started sleeping with a seventeen-year-old girl on the team, which eventually resulted in several charges of Sexual Misconduct in the First Degree (which I have been repeatedly told by other inmates isn't a real charge -- oh really? Cuz I have a criminal history now that says otherwise). I was sentenced to sixty months' confinement, equal to the statutory maximum for the offense.
Now I am twenty-eight years old and I am serving that five year sentence, but as mentioned previously, I have hope now. Not for the first time, but perhaps for the first time not based on a relationship I have with another person -- the first time not based on codependency.
I'm making a concerted, focused effort to change the course of my life. I decided shortly after I was arrested that I would not waste my life while in prison -- they can tell me where I reside and for how long, but they cannot tell me what to do in that place and time.
I will not waste a single day -- I will be productive every single day.
I plan on returning to school when I get out in just under two year to finish my Bachelor of the Arts in English Language and Literature and my Bachelor of the Sciences in Exercise Science with a Minor in Studio Art -- have you ever heard of a more eclectic combination of fields of study? Honestly I love learning, and if I could spend the rest of my life in an educational environment earning every degree on the planet, I very likely would. Unfortunately that's not an option, so, while I don't have a firm idea of what I'll end up doing, I want to get back in running shape and run a four-minute mile I want to become a TEDx speaker I want to become a published author in multiple genres and these are just my goals within three years.
I want to continue learning throughout my entire life and, though I don't know how yet, I want to use that knowledge to give back and lift people up.
A personal purpose statement I developed within Defy states: As an unrelentingly compassionate and enterprising force, I cultivate an environment of inclusion, personal development, and achievement by empowering people with the skills to create connections and transcend limitations.
I don't have many long-term goals at this point I'm only recently embracing a new journey. But I feel pretty good about the goals I do have. Because I spent most of my life on the verge of committing suicide, it is a preposterously momentous and monumental thing for me to even write down goals.
For literally the first time in my life, I feel like I'm headed in the right direction. I have confidence, and though I know there are jungles and swamps and mountains and chasms and worse ahead of me on my path, it is a path of my own choosing, and here I am powerful.
Here, my potential is unbound.
With resoluteness, Devin McCrary