“Ouch,” I think as I roll over to shut off the alarm clock that awakens me at 2:15 a.m. on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings on my prison bunk. I awake before the sun shines to do my job — other people’s laundry. It sounds disgusting, but I’m just grateful to have a job and an easy one at that.
The “ouch” was the ache in my arm from it going numb. I don’t know how my arm can be simultaneously numb and in pain. All I know is that my body has most definitely changed in prison as I have aged.
When I became incarcerated, I was a fresh 25-year-old mother of two, full of life and energy. No aches and pains. Now at 42 years of age, I can tell you just how unkind these prison walls have been to this once vibrant body of mine. Sometimes I move slower. At times I even limp. The good thing is, my mind is still as sharp as a tack despite the trauma of my situation.
With this clarity of mind, I have gained much wisdom and much insight. I have developed patience and built up a spirit of endurance. I’m more mature. I’m more tolerant. I had little of these qualities as a youth, especially when it came to certain things. But on the flip side, I have zero tolerance for ignorance and disrespect.
At times I have to simply laugh at myself when I get annoyed with the younger generation for their lack of respect for others. I pause and think to myself, “Am I just being old-fashioned?”
I was raised on a system of good morals and values, and for this I am so grateful to my parents.
After I think of how blessed that makes me, I correct the young woman and give silent thanks to God. No, I’m not old-fashioned at all. I’m acting the way a lady should act as taught to me by my parents. I’m acting my age.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.