Join our next Volunteer Training: May 1-2!

“In the environments that we come from – gangs and broken homes, dysfunctional families – there’s no compassion, not much love, it’s not encouraged – especially in our gang culture.

We have to be tough, we have to be angry, we have to be aggressive, we have to be violent. …to cope with the stress and hurt and the chaos and insanity of living a life like that. And being able to put our guard down and have that compassion was very mind-blowing.”

– Henry (formerly incarcerated) on FTC’s impact at Valley State Prison

My Prison

In the pit of darkness and despair
Fear and loneliness were my friends

I searched for the door
But it was sealed
There was only I and the monsters created by others
By those whose needs came before my innocence

So my mind designed chambers
I hid in one
Hurt, pain and anger were stored apart

I lost myself in distraction
Abandonment and pain fed anger, however
Violence and self-destruction quick on their heels

My loss compelled me to distribute pain
Others would pay the price
Set by the careless souls who tortured mine

So I moved in self-induced obscurity
Repelling any sign of kindness
Fearing further wounds
Actions led to added prisons – mental, emotional, spiritual, physical

The pit became darker, deeper, harder, colder
Isolation was safety
Rabid dog
Hurt first, hurt fast, hurt least

So I thought

Morphing incremental into what I needed to be
The moment was God

Yet, freedom was offered
By those who seemed to understand

It required unsealing the door
Surprised at finding its key in my closed fist
I let go

My soul breathed
For the first time in long, cold years
Will to be whole the sole strength to skirt weakness

In awe at the power held within this action
I let go

Healing, growth, strength, clarity
Willingness to face my destiny

Pain is my gift
Understanding it, my power

My circle grows stronger
My paths materialize
Yet, shocked that some were there all along

So I now accept
What I see in the mirrored images of me
In the eyes of the close ones

I allowed for success
And discard the tape my father recorded

I now walk in the light of the truth
I now give and I take
And I trust
And I love

I now live.

– Albert
FTC large workshop participant, Valley State Prison