Are my children starving? If they are its my fault. I’ve been in prison nearly 9 years while they have been bounced from foster family to foster family. My middle child was adopted earlier this year because he came with a paycheck. He is nearly 15 and I’ve been told he’s lost enough weight that clothes he fit into 18 months ago are dripping off of him.

My youngest is gone into the ether of the state…my oldest…well, I don’t deserve to know anything about her.

These things are the punishment. Not these cages or scowling corrections officers or infractions for extra blankets. Its watching the tidal wave I created a decade ago savagely consume my children. They replay in my head, you know…the questions. It’s torture.

When some power drunk corrections officer appears with their pants tucked into their boots and their air of entitlement to my utter submission, I can’t help but chuckle. They think I hurt because of them and how dare they believe for an instant that I have changed because of their abuse, or anyone’s for that matter.

I’ve held onto these emotions because I didn’t, and still don’t, believe that I have any right to be concerned about my kids, after all, I came to prison rather than being the parent they deserved. Now that I am in here, nestled away in some crag of hell, they are in the fire of it and I reach and reach out toward them, stretching my arm so far out feels like I’m tearing the flesh off my bones.

These are the thoughts I have all day. I hate that I have them, but they exist, what am I supposed to do? Forget that my selfishness from a decade ago still has impact? The ripples turned to tsunamis and I am supposed to look away, as if its not happening?

So what do I do when I can do nothing? I work. I grind. I prepare. One day soon I will be out of this cage and I will build a life worthy of a second chance, a life that can help change the trajectory of theirs, should they want it. Because that’s the least I can do. I am hungry to accomplish that, I have a plan, I have the intelligence, and I have the stamina.

I cannot undo what has been done and what is happening, but I can make sure I provide a pathway that’s wide open for them to take that will lead them to a better life, the kind they should have had from the beginning.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

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Jeff aka Ruth Utnage 823469 D-610-2
P.O. Box 888
Monroe, WA 98272

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Name: Utnage, Jeff (though I am legally Ruth)

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