Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Amber's Living Straight!! I Mean S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T!!

Did you know that most lifers do not return to prison?

I'm on the verge of an early release and resentencing! Yes, I'll be free very soon! I'm excited! May God bless my path as I make plans and contemplate what I will be doing. One theme keeps popping up. I've watched so many women return prison! That's made me an expert on successful reentry. Stop doing wrong, illegal sh*t! Hello! WTF? I already live by this rule within these walls. However, I'm taking it to the yet another level.

See, I plan to be a millionaire. I'm planning on starting several businesses. I plan to defer pleasures and sacrifice to make my business successful. This is #1, #2 and #3 on my to-do list after release! I will make these words my reality. So, a natural consequence to new levels of financial success is financial problems. Taxes. Most people hate paying taxes. I feel, after 17 years in here, no amount of money is worth coming back to prison. So, I plan to pay my taxes. ALL of my taxes! No cuting corners. Especially when you feel entitled to keep something, right? Now, follow me. Lifers usually do not come back to prison for violence. Most former lifers never come back to prison at all. But on the rare occasion when they do come back, the most common factor is substance abuse or money related issues. So, I've asked myself, what are my personal flaws and weaknesses. So I can get ahead of any pitfalls. For me, the hardest thing will be to let go of money. To to get ahead of this, I am planing to be strict when it comes to keeping financial records and when it comes to paying bills, etc. Especially my taxes. Simple as that. I know what to do. My recovery makes things like this much more clear.

I grew up mostly on the street as a kid. Running away from foster homes. I had to survive. I did whatever I could to get cash. Money was important. Cash meant survival. I didn't have mom and dad to run home to if the streets didn't work out. On one occasion I went home with the wrong person and was raped. Another time I went home with a girl I knew and woke up to a strange man kissing on me as I slept. Disgusting. Both of these happened to me before I was 14. I had to learn quick. So, when I think of my relationship to money, the first thing that comes to mind is fear. I was motivated by fear. My introduction to money was unhealthy.

I look to my future as a business owner. I must bifurcate the young girl with no place to go from the strong, bi-racial, female, business owner I am on the cusp of becoming. The hard working, full time college student I am today. The woman who lives my life strictly by the Narcotics Anonymous Step 10! I take a personal inventory each day. I am far from perfect. I am honest today! I try to better each day than I was yesterday.

Today, my life is not driven by shame, fear, anxiety or trauma. God, my excitement for this new beginning and the love of the man in my life keep me going. These things help keep me motivated and focused!! It sucks being locked in the cell 22 hours a day! It hurts really bad. I have to try hard to keep it together!! I have to believe the best yet to come! I know you guys in the free world are going through it with mental health also! I can say that I'm stable. I'm white knuckling this thing, believe me! Depression knocks at my door day and night!

I'm living on the STRAIGHT and narrow today. And that word NARROW truly means narrow. It's illuminating when I watch my peers do wrong things all day long. I stay in my cell and do what I'm told and I remind myself that my reward, my freedom is coming soon. It's like we live in 2 different worlds! For all intents and purposes, I'm an outsider in here. It's fascinating. I'm no better than anybody but I am no follower! This crowd is on the road that leads to destruction. I'm on the lonely path to success.

I'm not going straight out of fear of returning to prison. It's much bigger than that for me. I want my life to mean more than simply staying out of prison! My bar is higher. While doing all these years in prison I believe I stumbled onto some wisdom. I believe I know the key element that separates success from the failure. Losers half ass their efforts and in return they get less than half the reward. I'm going all in on myself. I am going to college. I'm working. I'm doing drug treatment. I don't hang out. I follow the rules. I am investing in my vision of my future for my life! I am worth it. I've seen what happens to those that don't. They have little to no education at age 50+! They hate their lives. They're always angry. They live above their means and feel society wronged them and owes them something. They commit crime then use every excuse in the book when it lands them in prison, where I see them over and over again. I see things this way. I've done 17 1/2 years now. The wisdom is mine to keep. I've had a chance to discover and correct my own issues so I don't repeat them. But as a bonus, I've had a chance to learn from the mistakes of so many others!! Long term prisoners have the highest employment levels and the least recidivism rate of all. Now you know why...


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