Everything you see is not the whole story.
There was a time when I worked in a Federal Correctional Institution for women. The women did an interesting thing. Where men in jail often break into gangs or ethnic groups, women create families. It was not unusual for an inmate to come up to me and tell me about her mom or her dad or her aunt or uncle, all of whom were other inmates in the institution.
There was one inmate that was looked up to as a father, she was Native American but I think they called her Padre. Given a different life maybe she would have chosen to transition into being a man. Given the freedom to speak her mind without fear, maybe she would have said she was a man and asked to be addressed as male. I’ll never know, but I do know that if you had run into her in your day to day life you would have never guessed that she was legally a woman. She looked like any of the old timer male inmates.
One day she told me that she was almost done with her time and would be getting out soon. I congratulated her and she shook her head sadly. I asked “Aren’t you happy to be getting out and seeing your family?” She told me that on the inside she was a good person, but that on the outside the drugs would take her further away from her family than the prison walls did. Being a prisoner gave her more freedom than her addiction allowed her on the outside.
Call for submissions for The Good Men Project’s new SnapShots section
SnapShots are those rare moments when someone you do not know suddenly snaps into such clarity that they become vividly real to you. SnapShots change the way you look at other people and the world.
I want to read your SnapShots. Most of them will be between 100 and 300 words, but the uniqueness and power of the moment is the most important factor.
Email questions and submissions to [email protected]