May 5, 2016

New Life Anxiety

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


New Life Anxiety
By Daniel Labbe

In September, 2016, I will be released from prison. After thirteen years of incarceration I will enter a whole new life, a life far different than what I have grown accustomed to behind the wall. The world has changed a lot in the last thirteen years. I have never seen Facebook or Twitter, nor have I ever held a smart phone, but as world altering as these technological changes are they are not what concern me. My anxiety is much closer to home: have I made the necessary changes to live a healthy, responsible life? I wasn't able to live a life I could be proud of before prison. Drug and alcohol addiction combined with mental health issues and my refusal to take responsibility for my life led to a lot of dysfunction and ultimately, to the selfish choices that hurt so many people and landed me with a fourteen and a half year prison sentence. What makes me think I can live a healthy life now?

Before coming to prison I realized the rough shape of my life and I tried my hardest to change so I could live a good life. I went to rehabs, to AA, to counseling, to day programs, and even to religion, but none of that helped for long. I would do well for a bit then cycle back into dysfunction. In my heart I deeply wanted t olive a good healthy life, but my issues were stronger.

Shame, anger, and grief over the life I led and the choices I made filled the first five years of my incarceration. I spiraled in and out of black depression until I eventually realized it was a useless and self-centered cycle. Something had to change. It was then that I threw myself into doing whatever I could to heal, learn, and grow so I had a chance at liking a good, healthy life, a life that reflected the best of who I am. I couldn't do anything about the pain I caused, but I could change myself so I would never cause such pain again and maybe even have something positive to share with others.

Since then I have been doing everything I can to heal, learn and grow. I read every self-help book I could find and experimented putting what I read to use. I participated in all prison programs I could and I've grown a lot and made changes I never before dreamed possible. Family members, officers, therapists, and other inmates have all noticed the changes I made and this felt great. I feel more like my true self today than I ever have before.

All this is great, but it also makes for one scary thought that just won't leave me alone: what if it isn't enough? What if despite all these changes, I still fail? I've learned to be healthier and more successful in prison with all the structure and routing that prison provides, but will I be able to transfer this relative health and success to the street? Because I have made a lot of improvements my family expects a lot from me,. Will I let them down? On top of all this there's the anxiety of worrying about what opportunities will be available to a middle aged ex-convict with a criminal record like mine (it's pretty bad).

I do my best to challenge these thoughts when they arise. I know they aren't helpful, and I also know that they are perfectly natural. Who wouldn't be nervous about life on the outside after thirteen year of prison? Luckily I have a lot of family support and a good reentry plan. I also have a lot more skills now than I did before and I've done a lot of healing. My chances at living a healthy, functional life that is both meaningful and rewarding are better now than ever before. yet, despite all this anxiety still winds through my gut like a snake on Ritalin.

I guess this anxiety is perfectly natural and reflects how much I hope to succeed. Rather than let it be something that weakens me, I can use it as motivation for giving this new life everything I've got.

I'm glad I wrote about this. I feel stronger and clearer about who I am and what I am capable of.

Thanks for listening.


Replies (3) Replies feed

QuidProQuo Posted 8 years ago. ✓ Mailed 8 years ago   Favorite
The fact that you've done so much to heal and grow proves that you have the ability to stay on that track! I can't claim to have an inkling about your life, but you've got all the makings to leave in September with a bright and healthy future ahead!

Using anxiety as a motivator is a great idea! If life gives you lemons, make the best lemonade you can! Now I'm craving lemonade though...

I hope you go out into the world and find happiness and peace! :)

(I also hope you've a tech-savvy friend or family member to help you out with the insane world of technology that even I don't understand fully!)


PS: I saw that you're a fan of the Lord of the Rings! When you get a hold of YouTube (videos galore!), see if you can find Lord of the Rings In 99 Seconds by PAINT. It's pretty great, in my opinion!

chuckm Posted 7 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
I am proud of you Dan!
I hope that you see this. Its Chuck from 7-1. I am out and working it IT again but making half of what I made before I went in. I am still reading self help books also. Mindfulness!
I hope that you do well my friend! You are very smart and have a lot to offer. I am really happy that you are out and get a second chance at life. I remember when we were in you showed me a letter from this site and I just stumbled by it!

Mr.Service Posted 3 years, 2 months ago.   Favorite
I'm very proud of you Dan,
I admire that you are able to rise above your struggles and adversities, and build a positive foundation. I believe that everyone deserves second chances, and I admire you for being persistent and building a positive life. Your story is inspiring. I'm proud of you for staying strong.
Much love Dan,

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Daniel Labbe: RSS email me
Comments on “New Life Anxiety”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS