When I came to prison I basically lost my family. Almost all of them. Brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, kids…just about everyone. Every friend I ever had, gone. When I first fell I chalked it up to “you shouldn’t have gone to prison then.”

I went several years before I began to really feel the hurt, the loneliness. Folks in prison understand my inability to verbally articulate why outside contact becomes so important. It feels like your slowly suffocating. It feels like a pain inside your chest. It feels like I died and nobody came to identify the body and now I am forever buried as nothing.

I tried to explain a small portion of this to a loved one recently and I was surprised at how hard it was to explain. I was doubly surprised at how hard it was for them to understand why I would want more outside contact.

I remember when my blood relatives were my sole community. Friends were unrealistic and only took away from familial affairs. I did not have time for friends. Just like my family. What friends they did have were infrequent in their lives and that continues today.

Now, I have created a new family. It stretches from Montreal to Washington. Unlike most of my blood family, these people encourage me to be better, go bigger, love more, forgive purposefully, smile intentionally. I do the same for them.

My Mother has seen me at my very worst and she is still by my side. I will make sure her decision was not a mistake. She will get to see me at my very best, because it is yet to come. I am going to change the world because I am just dumb enough to believe it is possible. Like creating a new family.

With Love
Jeff “Jeffebelle”