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During these times in the great unknown of COVID-19 I have to dig deep inside and reflect. Looking at myself in the mirror I feel stress, worry and frustration. I sit in my cell in the Ironwood State Prison and know that COVID-19 has taken over. It has rocked all worlds upside down, both the free world and the steel bars world. 

Everyday I’m so anxious, I find myself ducking and diving like the boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. All programs, yard time and phone calls are cancelled. I worry daily about my children’s and family’s health, and the health of the world. 

One thing COVID-19 tried to take away from me but couldn’t was my ultimate high in life, sports. My getaway from reality for three-and-a-half hours. It is a safe haven, a religion on its own where I can be internally free. I put on the Champions League 20’s with full blast surround sound audio and I am at the game with my son. Watching great athletes LeBron James, Tom Brady and Mike Trout at the peak of their powers is pure beauty and joy. 

COVID-19 has helped me to be more grateful, humble, self-disciplined and compassionate towards others because life is so precious. I now possess all the coping skills so I won’t revert to old beliefs, addictions or patterns. I won’t lose the fight. 

When emotions are high, common sense is low. I look and see inmates get angry and disrespect fellow inmates and corrections officers (CO). I ask myself, why? We are all cut from a different cloth. Everyone has their own way of coping with this pandemic. I can only control my thinking and actions in life. I will continue to educate myself, learning and growing in self-help work, studies and meditating. 

I respect, admire and appreciate all essential staff and CO’s here at Ironwood State Prison who are keeping us safe during a pandemic. Putting their own lives on the line, which must be hard and stressful for them. They are humans with emotions and feelings, who have family and loved ones waiting for them at home. 

I will continue to respect all staff. That way I am part of the solution moving forward and no longer the problem that makes their jobs harder than it should be. 

I want to thank God for keeping my family safe and healthy as well as giving me the ultimate strength and courage to keep pushing forward on my journey. I am truly saddened and my heart and prayers go out to all families who have lost a loved one during the pandemic. 

This may sound strange but COVID-19 has made me a better man, father and son. It has helped me to figure out a lot of things in my life. It has brought peace to my heart, patience and it has made me prioritize the most important things in life. It’s a true process. I will not stop or give up. I will continue growing as a human for my victims, giving back in any way possible. I will keep surrounding myself with positive mentors and influences. Change is possible even when there is a pandemic!

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.

Adrian Martinez

Adrian “Lil Adrian” Martinez is a writer incarcerated in California. He expresses regret and remorse for his past actions and the life he used to live and has made it his goal to help others. He is the father of two beautiful and amazing children.