Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Lifer's Devastating Remorse Journey

I thought hurting someone would make me feel good

Remorse. Most people don't know the true meaning of remorse. The kind of pain that hits you like pouring alcohol on an open wound. Yes, this pain is caused by the pain I've caused others. Yes, I did all of this. I cooked hot cooking oil, poured it into a cup, then threw it on my sister. I used my free will and my hands to once intentionally disfigure my sister Stephanie. I own this and make no excuse. I can't fix or undo this.

I was 20 years old. I'm now 37. I'm a totally different person. The old Amber Jackson from 2004 no longer exists. She disappeared when I began to understand WHY AND HOW I was the monster I once was...You see, I'm the oldest of 6 kids. From my toddler years, my father always told me and my sisters that we'd grow up to hate each other. He told me I'd get a life sentence. I didn't understand this is condoning. The Neuro Linguistic Programming that my young brain was picking up and coding into my belief system. I now know you can decide to brainwash a child or decide to give them positive affirmations. My dad chose to brainwash and verbally abuse me and the others.

Again, I am taking full accountability and responsibility for what I did to my sister Stephanie. I hope to one day be able to make amends with her. In the absence of that, I practice a life of a living amends. I take a daily inventory and aspire to be better each day.

My mother Kathleen has been riddled with guilt over what I did to my sister. She had bailed me out of jail for taking my son from his foster home. So, I was out on that bail when I hurt Stephanie. My mom has lived with guilt that is not hers to bear. I hate that she's lived with this. I pray before she passes away, God forbid, that I have a chance to tell her, it's NOT her fault and never was. It's mine and mine alone. She could not have known what would eventually occur.

If only I'd known better. I knew my family situation was toxic, but because I had no idea where to start, I somehow assumed time would iron out all of the issues. Of course, NOW, I've been to intense group therapy sessions, over years, and I've peeled back the layers of trauma, abuse, mental illness, addiction and codependence. Not to mention, my ADHD went undiagnosed until this month at age 37!! After foster care, juvenile halls, county jail and prison, NOW I'm receiving the proper diagnosis that went unseen for 37 years?

This condition, while not an excuse, contributed to my behavior issues. Earlier discovery of this could have made all the difference. Further, I discovered my own ADHD by accident at age 29, while here at CIW in 2013! God is so good. Now I know why I always felt something was wrong with me.

True, gut level remorse is an ugly, painful, devastating feeling. I never want to hurt anyone ever again. It's a painful, inescapable feeling when the person at fault for your own pains and the pain of others is you! I ruined my own sister's life. I have to live with that. You may think that by hurting someone else it will feel good? I did. But as soon as I threw that hot oil on my own sister Stephanie, I regretted it. Prior to my doing this, she and I had exchanged threats and even fought. So, I assumed she meant the threats she made.

At my sentencing hearing I'll never forget, Stephanie began crying and said, "I can't believe my OWN sister would do this to me!" I remember being struck by this! I remember thinking, ''Well, if I'd known you didn't mean those threats, I wouldn't have done this!" I wanted to cry, but I pretended to laugh to hide my emotions. Today, daily, I think of her and wonder how she is doing. If only I'd known then what I know now! The 2021 Amber Jackson carries the heavy weight that comes with rehabilitation. One of most heavy of all, remorse.


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