I feel like a war vet about to be redeployed after acclimating to civilian life.

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I’m always all right because I have to be.

It’s the prisoner’s anthem. I’M ALL RIGHT! We are constantly telling ourselves we are all right, because it is this mantra that steels us against the pain and adversity we endure daily and to which we will continue to be for years to come. It’s a defense mechanism, our armor. We are ALL RIGHT!

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“I had to bury all of my emotions, so that things that would normally touch or move me didn’t have the power anymore.”

I am not all right! I feel like a war veteran who is being sent back to Iraq to serve another tour of duty after already acclimating to civilian life. I can say this today, because for the past year I have gotten used to living a “normal” life. I have not had to constantly worry about protecting myself from harm. I do not have to worry about being locked down for months at a time in my cell. I don’t have to worry about race riots in which people routinely die. I don’t have to worry about being in the yard when an almost daily fight breaks out, while flash bombs drop out of the tower and bullets are fired indiscriminately. I don’t have to worry about being treated like an animal or an inmate. And I have thrived!

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Written by

Rob Barton has been incarcerated for 25 years. Pam Bailey is his collaborator/editor. Learn more at MoreThanOurCrimes.org

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