I am not ashamed to admit to having had thoughts of suicide. It’s not that I didn’t or don’t want to be alive, because I definitely do. I believe it’s my psyches way of not being afraid to explore any and all available options to relieve negative emotional stress. The stress and pressure coming from what my shoulders already carry in general, what my empathetic nature absorbs from the stories reported from the real time front line fight against COVID, and/or the affects on my anxiety level having this otherwise reliable prison environment all of a sudden become unstable.
Almost three decades ago, I came into the prison system a teenager. Carrying with me very little life experience and even less adult emotional experience. How I survived it is a testiment to a power and will greater then my own. While at the reception center awaiting eventual transfer to prison, I remember a face now no more then a blurr of color with little more detail then a painters single brush stoke. He approached from my back left side, circling out in front of me as we stood in the chow hall line, waiting to be served lunch. Asking quite directly if they had given me105 years to Life. I can’t remember eactly how his and I exchange went after his initial inquiry, however, I can clearly hear his follow up question.
“Do you wanna borrow my sheet?” Strolling away and ahead of me as if he’d slayed a stage and dropped the mic. Leaving me stunned and not knowing how to register a response to his implication.
There was a time, just a decade or so back, when the imagine of suicide returned to me so vividly that I could literally taste it in my mouth. Equally ironic, it again would visit me while in a prison chow hall line.
Such land mark moments are etched into the trunk of my memory. Highlighted by the present and sharp edged carvings of COVID. Watching the real life stories on TV of peoples losses, heartaches, struggles and pains during this pandemic reminded my soul and conscious of the heartaches and pains I’ve been the cause of. Touched out of guilt, or empathy, or similarity, I cried. Silently and to myself. Tears from under my lashes spilled in descension down my cheeks. A freedom in my emotions. A connection to the moment I shared with Life that wanted me to know I was not abandoned in my struggles with uncertainty and instability.
No matter what my situation happened to be insofar as prison sentences, I found an inner peace and comfort in testing negative for COVID. However, I struggled emotionally in response to being told by the medical department a mistake had been made in my results and that in fact I had tested positive. With a pre-existing distrust in my relationship with the institution of prison, I became angry, covering the fact that I was scared. And thus, I relied emotionally on the one person I’ve been able to rely on my entire life. Mom. As soon as she heard my voice, she knew something was wrong. I tried to be strong. But its Mom, you know, and a Mother’s love is the strongest force on this planet. I cried again.
In the end, its just me in here and I felt like I had no where to go. Thoughts returned to the implication of what the blurred face had to say all those years ago. Yet today, my own voice was much louder in my head then his.
“Are you not strong enough?” After all I’ve been through in all these years, I will not be broken by this. Not now. Not here.
Thanks for listening.
Jason Bernard Thompson