One day, after I leave prison, I might find the words to express a hug filled with tears that derives from a place pure happiness and love. Maybe. Maybe that’s why we have hugs, feel the need to have them in our lives because words simply cannot replace human(e) embrace.

Since I’ve been in prison I have learned so much about feelings. Odd, to say the least. I took/am taking a treatment program and I remember my therapists words of warning to me (I wish I could publicize their name, because they deserve public credit and attention and when I get out and am not under a legal gag order, I’m spilling everything!) during a private session:

“Ruth, you’re going to get everything you wanted. A penthouse, highrise corner office in downtown, all the money in the world, published, popular and well-known in all the good ways, change entire systems. You’re going straight to the top. You have a drive and a perseverance that is going to accomplish all those things, everything you ever wanted and you know what? When you get there you’re still going to be alone. You have to start letting people in because until you do nothing else will ever be enough.”

Those words were like a hot iron for me. They flattened and unwrinkled me, applying just the right amount of heat to relax me into finally giving up my tension. No easy task for someone as tightly wound as I am, just ask anyone who truly knows me, I put off that I am one Icy Bitch. But I don’t actually want that. No, what I want is to love without fear and share in the world in ways that intimately bond me with others. That takes time and trust and requires me to be vulnerable. Something that doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the fearless image of a CEO or community leader.

But that’s okay because I’d give up all that stuff to be happy, truly happy because my therapist was dead on, I’ll work myself straight into isolation, especially without a family. Hide from my feelings, stuff my emotions and let them bleed out through ruthless business and capitalism. Break trans barriers and set new standards. I have it in me.

But nothing, I mean nothing, no car or penthouse or amount of zeros behind my check or bank account, nothing feels like the warm and accepting embrace of a Sister or Brother. Nothing can take the place of knowing you are loved. I learned that through my chosen family that I found from right inside this prison. I can still go get all those material things, and I intend on it, but now I’m not chasing them to run away from my emotions or to hide. I want them because I have a job to do, a personal mission that my family, my chosen family, supports and is part of.

When I die I don’t want to be remembered as the worst decision I ever made or as the pain I caused. I want to be remembered as someone who, though they made a terrible choice earlier in life, spent the rest of their life building strong communities and reshaping all that I touch for the better.

I learned that vulnerability and happiness go hand-in-hand. One preludes and even determines the other. A real family, a true family- my chosen family, loves you no matter what and its possible that they exist even under the most impossible of circumstances. They taught me how to love more completely.

To my chosen brothers and sisters, thank you.

With Love
Ruth Utnage
(For interviews or media inquiries please contact me directly!)

Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-510-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272

or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)

Jeff Utnage