June 10, 2014

Mindful Prisoner(6/10/2014)

From Mindful In Bedlam by Daniel Labbe (author's profile)


Mindfully Incarcerated
Mindful Prisoner
By: Daniel Labbe

It is coming closer to Father's Day, and like every year thoughts of my daughter and the pain my selfish actions caused her and her mother are filling my mind. There is no way I can know all the different ways the actions that landed me in prison have hurt them, but my imagination never fails to think of just the right thing to wring my heart. I sit with this pain knowing there is nothing I can do to stop it, and nothing I can do for my daughter. That's the worst part of it all; Knowing I caused this pain, and not being able to do anything about it. Sometimes mindfulness sucks-BIG TIME.

Back when I lived with my wife and daughter, I was a total mess. Drug and alcohol abuse and overwhelming emotional issues, combined with a lack of coping skills, made for a chaotic life. I loved both my daughter and wife, yet was incapable of TRULY loving them. Emotionally, I should have never been in a serious relationship. I was too...wounded and overwhelmed... but I didn't know this. All I knew was I WANTED to love, and be loved.

I met my ex-wife when I was 17. We got married when I was 19. We had our daughter when I was 24. When we first met, my then wife and I, fell for each-other HARD. I loved her as best as I could and she loved me, but it was a co-dependent love for both of us. We did everything together and spent all of our time together. She was healthier that I was and was able to love me even when I couldn't love myself. The problem was that when my baggage from childhood would rise up, when depression, sadness, and deep loneliness set in, no amount of love was able to fill that void. I would try to drink and drug the pain away. When that didn't work, I mistakenly figured she didn't love me enough or that "love" from someone else was needed.

Towards the end it all became way too much for me to handle. At the time, I had no idea why I was such a mess, and I hated myself for it. My daughter was the only constant light in my life that I could see. Yet this wasn't enough. NOTHING could have been "enough". I know this now.

So here I sit in prison wondering what Father's Day is like for a girl whose father violated her trust and left her life over 10 years ago. A girl who has to be reminded of all of this, of the absence of her father and what he did, every holiday and maybe even every day. I want to tell her how sorry I am for it all, that I constantly thing of her and worry about how she is doing. I want her to know how much I love her and wish I could have been the father she needed me to be, but I can't.

I wonder, what can I do to help ease her pain, and no matter how hard I try, I know there is nothing, absolutely nothing, I can do. I am not allowed to have contact with her in any way. So, I sit with this pain, sit with this powerlessness and uselessness and remind myself that no matter how much I hurt, she hurts more. Knowing this has provided me with a lot of motivation. If there is nothing I can do for her directly, what I CAN do is make sure I address the issues that led me to live such a chaotic life. I can do what I can to heal and to learn how to lead a healthy life. I can become the person my daughter needed me to be... the person I needed myself to be all along. By doing this, it is in some way like not allowing the pain I've experienced and caused to others, to be all for nothing/ It DOES mean something to me.. So much so that I have done my best and more to become a strong, healthy person. I'm still working on it, but the journey has changed me more than I ever thought possible, and the experience of it all I know hope to use in helping others. Maybe if I can't change what I did or the pain I've caused, I CAN use it to help others in need, and maybe- just MAYBE-if my daughter ever decides to contact me, I'll be the man she'll need me to be in that moment.

In THIS moment what I can do is remain open to the pain that naturally arises around this issue, and let it go when it naturally dissipates. This is not how I used to deal with pain. I used to try to avoid it, escape it, or "fix" it, either that or I would saturate myself in it and ruminate. Neither of these were very helpful.

Being MINDFULLY incarcerated isn't easy, but it is the best way to respond to the situation for myself, for my family and those around me, and especially for those I have hurt in the past. When the pain of losing my daughter, of imagining the pain I have caused her and her mother, arises, I do not push it away. Nor do I wallow in it. Instead I allow myself to FEEL it in all its forms, and I use the experience to strengthen my determination to heal, to grow, and to help others. This is the best I can do. Maybe one day my daughter will find some healing, some solace, or something of value in how I have handled my incarceration and the person i have become. This would be MY Father's Day gift to my daughter, for I am not the one deserving of a gift on Father's Day, and this is the best I can offer her.

Writing this, I hope to inspire anyone struggling with guilt, grief, remorse, or shame... to be brave enough to allow yourself to feel it deeply, without trying to manipulate it in any way, then to allow it to move on. It does no good to wallow in it. In this way, maybe you can find the courage and strength to continue your journey with greater determination, compassion and wisdom.



Replies (3) Replies feed

Aimee Lee Posted 8 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
Thanks for writing! I finished the transcription for your post.

Wow. Just wow. Daniel, your blogs are amazing and not at all what I expected. I share a lot of the same views as you on many of your topics. I have never been incarcerated, or really in any major trouble. However, I feel strongly about the way our prison system works.. or doesn't work, rather. Also, by boyfriend is currently up in Concord State in NH. I wish he was surrounded by people like you in there, I feel like he would learn so much from you.. since he doesn't listen to me haha.. hes been in since 6/10 and we're looking at a release in 3/17 so far..I'm sure you know how easy that release date can change tho..it was originally set for 2014 and has been extended twice now. Been by his side 100% for over 4 years now, and I am proud of his many, many positive changes.. but I will be sending him many of your blogs to read I think they would be the kind of inspiration he needs..maybe he'll finally be able to change the way he views life and look at things from a different point of view.

Also, as a mother, I can't imagine the pain you must feel with not being allowed contact with your daughter. I do not think that is right, but I will not elaborate on the subject right now. From your blog and your age, I guessed she is about 16 or so now? 2 more years and she is 18 and I hope you will reach out and contact her the second you can. Write her a long letter, direct her towards these blogs, and I hope and pray that she will be reunited in your life!! You BOTH deserve it!

Your blogs are wonderful, keep writing even when you get out, they truly are inspiring. You have such a great outlook, that alone will get you far in life!

Take care of yourself!!
Aimee =)

ashleyl26 Posted 8 years, 2 months ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years, 2 months ago   Favorite
Everyday is another day in the prison known as my mind. Your prison is literal. Mine is metaphorical. But, I CAN BET YOU mine is worse.
But, I don't hate you. In all actuality, I want to hold you and tell you that I forgive you. But, that will never happen.
I know you had a tough childhood. That's why I feel sorry for you. I had a tough childhood. I don't remember any of it.
I cut myself with kitchen knives.
I've been three times to the hospital and that was enough to scare me. Yet, I still cut. BECAUSE OF YOU.
My mom is everything I need. My mother takes good care of me. She's doing everything for me and I've never met a mother so dedicated.
But, after, you fucked us over, it was difficult for her and I have memories of her just laying there, dead. She tried her best for me but my memories say that's not enough.
And, for the longest time I admired you. I held that BULLSHIT letter you gave to me to my chest and I cherished it. But, I burnt it not too long ago. I burnt away your apologies.
I can't hold on to this anger anymore and I hope you're happy for me that I was finally able to let it out. I feel so much fucking better right now. But, I'll probably cut myself after this.
Music helps a lot. i like 90's rock.
If you're wondering how I'm doing in school, I'm great I'm in artsy school and my teachers adore me for my eccentric ways. I do a lot of writing. I don't have many friends. I'm very out of place.
Here's a poem I wrote:
Smelly House of Lemons:
Maybe it's the dog,
Flea ridden and decaying inside and out from old age,
Maybe it's the rotting food,
Growing unseemly mold and lying on kitchen counters.. and piling high in cups in my room,
Maybe it's the cat's piss and vomit
Covering hidden places in the basement, untouched for weeks,
Maybe it's the yellow walls, a piss color
The color of a lemon,
The smell of a lemon,
No it was not a lemon!
The taste of a lemon...
The disease radiating off my father ,
His ghost haunting the halls.
Maybe it's the rats hiding in the wall,
Scratching and screaming,
Wanting to be set free,
Maybe it's the ghost of the man who died previously in this hellish home,
Haunting me for touching his things and existing in his very house,
Maybe it's the haunting, daunting history of mine,
The sour smell and taste of lemons that lived in the basement and my polka dotted bedroom,
Maybe, it's the smell of fresh paint covering the tainted walls of past, trying to tuck it away,
Maybe it's the smell of the soap that I scrubbed on my body trying to wash away my father's disease.
Maybe it's the alcohol my mother drinks to mask the pain she feels from the depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fibromyalgia
Maybe it's me.
My worried, anxiety ridden brain spreading chemicals and corkscrews.
Here's a picture of me http://prntscr.com/4mq0js I hope someone prints it out or something.
-Ashley Labbe

Daniel Labbe Posted 8 years, 1 month ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

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