Tony Smith

“Just like Crabs in a Barrow” – by Tony Rahmel Smith

I remember I was 15 and still a virgin – which was late for guys in my neighborhood not to have had sex by that time. There was a female following me around to the point that I felt like I was being stalked. This same girl would always hang out with my buddy Marquis’ girlfriend. One day some guys from the neighborhood were hanging out at Marquis’ girlfriends apartment and since I couldn’t find anything else to do, I joined them out of sheer boredom. Guess who else happened to be there? Yep, my stalker. She lured me into the bedroom and we had sex.

When I finished, I realized that it was too quiet in the apartment – the guys from the neighborhood were listening and waiting for me to exit the room. I walked out and some of the guys started snickering. I asked what was so funny and someone blurted out, “ole girl got crabs”. I remember asking them – why didn’t you tell me? Since most of them had been with that same female, they thought it humorous for me to lose my virginity and take a little something with me to go; now all of us had those little critters partying in our shorts.

I shared that story, not to be vulgar, but as an intro into what I want to share. Sometimes in prison, these guys are just like the ones I dealt with in that apartment – just like crabs in a barrow; they want to bring you down to their level to make themselves feel better. You see, when a barrow is filled with crabs, a few on top of the pile may be able to escape, but just as soon as one is about to get out of the barrow, one of the other crabs latches onto it and pulls it back. It’s almost like the crab is saying, “Oh no, where do you think you’re going – you’re no better than us – we’re all going to suffer together.”

It would amaze the average law-abiding citizen that most of the people incarcerated really have a deep desire to change their lives. However, only a small percentage, compared to the whole, is actually willing to invest the hard work into themselves to change behavior patterns, bad habits, and the corrupt thinking that brought them to prison.

The mind and heart of a person can be like a trash dump, a place where a collection of garbage is compiled over a long period of time; my life was like that stinky dump. Anyone under the illusion that the clean-up in one’s life would be anything less than an arduous task, is sadly mistaken. Some people, because they messed up so bad and so often, only see change as an impossible and insurmountable assignment. Therefore, they never start the process, or if they decide to change their ways, they give up before they can enjoy the fruits of their labor. However, some people, through faith, courage, and perseverance plug away at their internal issues until they become a new person.

Now, let’s say you put in the time and hard work necessary for a true transformation and metamorphosis to take place. Let’s also say that there are many people in your life that know “the old you”. Most of those people want to change who they are and become a better person as well. They want what you have, but are unwilling to do what you did to get it. These people are aware of some of the horrible things that you’ve done, but day in and day out, they see your new attitude, your new perspective on life, your wisdom, your joy…..plus you treat people better. This is the time when you can witness people acting “just like Crabs in a Barrow” – at least that’s my experience.

People begin to ask, “who do you think you are”, and begin to try to pull you back down to their level. They begin to “sneak-diss” you (talk about you behind your back) and some become so envious that instead of using their energy to change, they spend their time spreading unfounded rumors about you. If that doesn’t work, they start bringing up things from your past – even stuff that happened ten or twenty years ago, as if you just did those things a couple of days ago. They don’t want you to succeed because they are unhappy with their own life. They are too lazy to put in the work like you did – so instead of congratulating you, or seeking your help through mentorship, they attempt to assassinate your new and improved character.

These people have the worst case of “Crabs” in the Barrow disease. It seems that my success as a formerly really messed up human being – now transformed man, gives people the “Crabs” in the Barrow Syndrome quite frequently – especially in this prison environment. I wish that people wouldn’t get sick with this disease when I come around.

I can’t say that everyone has this abnormal reaction to my success, because some people see me and realize that change is possible – Instead of catching a case of the “Crabs”, they get inspired and motivated to start the process of making life-altering modifications in their life. I would rather they follow the latter example – they would feel much better to rid themselves of that “Crabs” disease – I speak from experience, you won’t be happy until you do:-)

If they would only ask, I would tell them the secret to my change – it’s not any power in and of myself – I rely upon the strength that comes as a result of trusting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. All credit and glory goes to Him alone.

Tony Rahmel Smith
DOC #367-391

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