March 29, 2018

Is It Possible To Have A Worthwhile Life In Prison

by Dymitri Haraszewski (author's profile)


Is It Possible To Have a Worthwhile Life In Prison?

This is my second time being caged, and though the first sentence was extravagant at nine years, at least I - and those who cared about me - could reasonably look forward to my rejoining the living again. While that didn't make my caged existence any less meaningless, it was a good reason to endure the meaninglessness. This time is different. Soon my appeals will be exhausted, and with them I'll lose not just my hope of ever getting to live again, but also the chance to attack and disrupt some of the cruel "laws" and procedures that cost me my life (and so much more)*, and thus my hope for helping other victims of the proudly stupid and vicious system to avoid some of the injustices and tortures I've suffered. When even that hope is gone, it will be a lot harder to justify enduring this unrelenting insult and injury any longer, which is why I say with deep sadness and shameful disloyalty to the optimistic and fun-loving kid I used to be: No. At least in my situation, no, it's generally not possible to live a worthwhile life in prison, not if the word "worthwhile" means anything... or the word "Life" for that matter.

Some people insist a falling tree makes a sound whether anyone hears it or not. But what does it really mean, to "make a sound," in a universe with no organisms to perceive it? For that matter, what's a "universe" in the absence of any perception? Similarly, I asked: what's a life that no one knows of? Non-prisoners may occasionally think about prisoners - usually as memories or some other abstraction - but they rarely directly perceive them. We scream; no one hears. We cry; no one hears. We write; no one reads. We reach out; no one responds. At some point it's not hard to feel like there's no difference whether we exist or not, and really, if I died right now, mid-paragraph, who would know? You sure wouldn't. My high school best friend wouldn't know either. Neither would my sister, my neighbour, nor my cat. Most would never even hear about it, so it truly wouldn't make the slightest ripple in their worlds - worlds I used to be an important part of. Even for the tiny handful of people who'd eventually find out I died, it would change nothing in those lives, either. Some short-lived, obligatory sadness, perhaps, but the reality is, the loss of me is old news. I was lost to the real world long ago, and now if I fall, I just don't make a sound anymore.

So, what makes any life "worthwhile" then? In my nutshell opinion, it's joyful sharing and interaction. For instance, I love to laugh, or at least that's what I always thought. As it turns out though, after almost everyone I've ever cared about his shut me out (consciously or unconsciously), I'm realizing it was never the laughing I loved so much, but the sharing of laughter. Comedy isn't such a pleasure in a social, or more specifically, a love vacuum. Same for everything else - cool things are only cool if there is someone you care about to share them with. It was always the caring social aspect, being happy with someone, that made me happy; and only happiness, one's own and others', makes life worthwhile.

Ask yourself: what would you practice if you were the last person on earth? So you can bowl a perfect game, or hit a hole in one, or write poetry, or do a back flip... who cares? And that, see, is my point: someone has to care for anything to matter, and prisoners - separated, isolated, degraded, caged, and largely forgotten - are mostly irrelevant in any practical sense to anyone outside their cages, in real life. So for me and for others who cannot bring ourselves to care about anything inside the cage while forcibly separated from everything outside of it, nothing really matters because, truthfully, no one outside the cage really cares much, if at all. Prison is a whole other universe, and it's not and never can be my universe. I feel that life is only worthwhile when it is shared, and any meaningful sharing of my life is precisely what those these fucking murderous, bebadged thieves stole when they kidnapped and help me hostage with the express intent to never let me live in the real world again.


*Please see the following note, next page.

*Important Note

The preceding essay was my answer to a question for a new book (Social Garbage, Vol. II, not yet released as of March 2018). It's completely true, but I regret not elaborating on that "so much more" I mentioned as a cost of the vile, worthless "laws" and processes that led to my execution. The bottom line is, the injury done to others has also been the greatest injury to me, exceeding even the theft of my own life, the elimination of my future and erasure of my past. All of that hurts, terribly, but not worse than knowing all the evil the pigs did in their self-indulgent pursuit of me.
I think of my parents, literally held hostage in their own house as the badge-brandishing home invaders burglarized them... my dad forced to watch as my mom impotently raged and protested the violation and humiliation. That happened, and that really makes me sick, and outraged.
I think of the unsuspecting people the pigs called out of the blue from the cellphone they stole from me, invading their privacy and upsetting them with prying questions and insinuation, and, of course, many lies. That must've been unpleasant.
I think of my friends who were stalked by the pigs as useful targets, then intimidated in the relentless search for useful human tools to hurt me with. Many were harassed over a decade after last seeing me - an incomplete list of their victims includes David and Brian, plus old friends like John Muldoon, maybe Mike, and certainly Jon, Jeremy, and Aldo. New friends too, like Isaak, Christian, and maybe even Adam.
But worst of all, the pig assaults that devastate me and enrage me as much or more than any, are my friends who were the most thoroughly used and abused in the effort to make a neat resume for some porcine career path - people like Coby, Bryan, Daniel, Matthew, and even Darrell and Nolan. All these very real victims of a system that never gave a shit about them personally (it only cared about what they could do to help it "win"), they had their private lives ripped open and put on display for examination by all sorts of pig-people they never, ever wanted involved, and whom they certainly never invited in. A lot of damage was done there, all completely unnecessary and shamelessly dishonest - lives invaded and destabilized purely for pigs' professional gain, all while cynically pretending concern for the very people they were ruthlessly violating. All this injury and loss, caused by a desire to hurt me, hurts me more than the tortures and thefts those pigs intended to inflict. This is the point I wish my little essay had made clearer.


Replies (13) Replies feed

Ben_Lavry Posted 3 years, 7 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 7 months ago   Favorite
Hi Dymitry,

This is Ben Lavry. I am writing to let you know that I have discovered this wonderful resource. I had already read your essay submitted to Social Garbage. I will read it again as well as your other posts as time permits.

I recently received your latest letter and will respond to it soon.


Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 3 years, 6 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 6 months ago   Favorite
hello dymitri, my name is kyla. ive been thinking about being a prison counsler, and i have been wanting a prisoners point of view of what it takes to be a good one. i always love helping my friends out and they think i would be a good counsler. they often say that im a easy person to talk to. if you wouldnt mind i would like if you could take some time and give me advice on what kind of stuff could help me change peoples lives. like if i was your counsler what approach could i use to help you ease tention or release your stress. i hope you have a good day, hope to hear from you soon!

2nottaughnt@__ Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
I guess no matter where we are in the universe we do what we are; therefore you write. Do remember the little prince? It's the time you spend on your rose that makes it so important to you. Because you are the only rose in your garden, you must slend all your care on yourself. Cultivate yourself. Spend your thoughts becoming the most true and essential Dymitri you can be. I read some of your writings last night. For some reason the stayed with me. You were born to write and communicate. Challenge yourself and the doing is the reward. Hope to read more----lp

2nottaughnt@__ Posted 3 years, 6 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 5 months ago   Favorite
Appalling spelling in AM. Apologies

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 3 years, 4 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 3 years, 4 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 4 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 4 months ago   Favorite
Hello its kyla again, i really do appreciate your advice. I know wanting to work in a prison spunds like alot. But like you said you guys need to escape or have someone to talk to espically in prison. And i really don't have a fascination to work in a prison . One day i was just thinking of what i wanted to do with my life . One I like to help people and 2 I was thinking of where i could reslly help someone . I would say my fascination is to always help someone no matter what it is. Some may say its a default. But me personally i know that i need someone to vent to or to fill the void of despair. I live in Arizona and the prisons here are very private and secluded. It's hard to get in contact with the inmates because here they Arizona department of corrections is very strict on rehabilitation. But thank you for taking the time to give me your insight. And i had asked you for advice because if i work in a prison and help counsel then i figured the best kind of advice would be from someone who's in prison. I hope to hear from you soon

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 3 years, 3 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

Kylajohnson_81 Posted 3 years, 3 months ago. ✓ Mailed 3 years, 3 months ago   Favorite
Hello dymitri l, its kyla. Thank you for writing me again, i appreciate you for taking the time to write to me. I'm sorry you were having a rough time with your counsler. But i hope it gets better. I hope your at least trying to stay positive in light of being locked away. It must be hard but the least you can do is try. But what helps calm you down when your mad? Have you learned how to cope or is that something you never get used to? I hope they aren't touchy questions but i think everyone finds a way to calm themselves down because sometimes all we have is ourselves. But i hope you know whenever your having a bad day and you need to vent you can talk to me about it, i know it'll take some time for me to get it but at least you'll have some what of a cleared mind. I hope to hear from you soon. Stay positive and keep me up to date on how you are

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 3 years, 1 month ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

gay4abolition Posted 1 year, 9 months ago. ✓ Mailed 1 year, 9 months ago   Favorite
2/13/20: Wow, I'm reading through a bunch of your posts and I just want to thank you for putting all of this out there. This is D--- from the study group. I'll say, around counseling, while I think it is beneficial, necessary even for humans to have someone to talk to, counseling (or therapy) can seem benignly positive but have some really deep-seated issues around controlling others behaviors and thought processes. And working in an environment like a prison will rub off on you - you have to be vigilant to keep yourself from adopting that mentality, even if you think you never would. Like, I am a counselor in a residential mental health program that is voluntary. It is a very different experience than being locked up and overall I think it is a good thing this kind of program exists. But, just cuz it's voluntary doesn't mean people aren't coerced into being there - most residents are otherwise homeless, and they rely on "doing well" in our program in order to move on to other residential treatment & eventually, hopefully, long-term housing. Much like in prison, doing "well" in interactions with counselors and in groups is a way to increase your chances of eventual freedom or stability. Often clients learn to recite exactly what staff wants to hear ("I'm working really hard to maintain sobriety," "I'm developing coping skills so I don't engage in self-destructive behaviors in the future") and it becomes hard to tell to what degree someone believes this for themselves or is just going through the motions for the sake of their own future. And at the same time, some of those resources & conversations are actually beneficial (tho they never systemic oppression that create our trauma in the first place). But the inherent power dynamic, when someone has all this control over someone's fundamental life circumstances, taints the whole relationship. It requires a very critical engagement on the part of the "professional" to not enforce one's beliefs or goals, or those of the institution for which one works, onto those you're working with. And on the part of the "counseled" party, it can be very hard to disentangle what you actually want & believe from what you are being told by someone in a position of authority who positions themself (and probably believes themself to be) working in your own best interest. I've been on the patient side, and am now on the other,'s weird. I can say that most people I work with do not think about this critically at all, and the problem gets worse the more degrees & power someone has...sorry your psych is an asshole who diminishes the very real trauma you and other prisoners experience - & also, it doesn't surprise me in the least. Their job is individualizing these problems and encouraging people to adjust to fucked up circumstances rather than removing the fucked up circumstances from the hellscape world we live in. (and yet, many of us need them, to get us through the day-to-day.) So much to think about here, thx

Dymitri Haraszewski Posted 1 year, 8 months ago.   Favorite
(scanned reply – view as blog post)

We will print and mail your reply by . Guidelines

Other posts by this author


Get notifications when new letters or replies are posted!

Posts by Dymitri Haraszewski: RSS email me
Comments on “Is It Possible To Have A Worthwhile Life In Prison”: RSS email me
Featured posts: RSS email me
All Between the Bars posts: RSS