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Everyone has heard the old saying “time flies” - by A.O.

Chosen Topic:

Life is a work-in-progress. What is one thing you hope to improve and why?

'A' Level student-inmate from institution A4

1st Prize

Everyone has heard the old saying “Time flies”, I never expected the truth to be so literal. In the blink of an eye, I’m 34 and incarcerated for the 7th time. There are actually a few things I hope to improve on, that being patience, perseverance, but most of all I would want to work on my emotional dependency on people, or more specifically my relationship with my partner. My partner has always been that one who makes or breaks me, my entire life would revolve around them and a break up would see me in such a sorry and pathetic state. I didn’t go home, didn’t go to work and just couldn’t do anything except wallow in self-pity, thinking of ways which would allow me to curb the pain.

I would choose to feel the physical pain rather than go through the emotional ones and every time I got hurt, I went around looking for some sort of physical pain to overpower my emotional ones, e.g. getting into fights, putting tattoos on, relying on drugs to numb the pain. I relied heavily on meth and in time, I felt emotionless. I finally couldn’t cry, no matter what happened. I was completely emotionally detached. Having drugs in my system, led me to being misguided and unable to make accurate judgements, I started staying away from home and started selling drugs.

In December 2020, I got caught with a few friends. I took the wrap for the drugs present as I already had pending court charges, thus I was remanded in A4. My mother passed away abruptly in January 2021, followed by my grandmother in October 2021. I was an only child who was brought up by my grandma while my mother was busy having a life with her boyfriend. My grandmother enrolled me in piano lessons, ballet, phonetics to swimming, snorkeling and computer enrichment classes. I was very close to her and went dutifully to church weekly. When I heard of her passing, I was dumbstruck and only until I reached the crematorium did all the tears that I have been managing to suppress fall freely from my eyes. I felt as if someone blasted a hole straight through me.

When I came back, due to Covid-19 protocols, I was quarantined for 2 weeks, alone. I cried in a way I hadn't cried in a long time, sobs that contained the death of dreams and the dread knowledge of months of heartbreak ahead. I had broken my personal rules, instead of shying away from the memories, I’d walked forward and greeted them, every scene from when I could remember played in my head, polished to jewel-like clarity by a million viewings. That was going to cost me, I was sure of it. I felt like I was trapped in one of those terrifying nightmares, the one where you have to run, run till your lungs burst, but you can’t make your body move fast enough.

There are some who said that when an impact is big enough, change would occur. There are others who say that people change for 2 reasons, 1) when they know too much or 2) when they get hurt too much. Mine was more of a realization of the first and the impact on the second. Where was my partner? Where was everyone? I am alone serving a 7 year sentence and I’ve lost grams — the only person who had never given up on me and loved me unconditionally, the one who always believed in me. I realized I was like a lost mouse scampering for food. I’ve got no direction in life. I felt “lost” . I started to reflect on what happened throughout my life and with that, my perspective and mindset shifted — my wake-up call.

I started on grief counseling for my loss, after which - the first time in my life - I asked for help to have regular counseling as I wanted to learn how to better handle my emotions. I proceeded on, reading self-help books, cutting down on the psychiatric meds I was taking, applying for my ‘A’ levels and I started a weekly behaviour analysis - keeping good behaviour by not getting thumbprints and scoldings from the officers; exercising, meditating and the hardest for me was to have better self-control and learning to say ‘NO’ to my friends. As I achieve those goals, I put a tick on my monthly calendar so I am able to keep track. I had stopped exercising initially because I thought I still had quite a bit of time in here but when I started, I felt my emotions shift; as if a little load had been lifted off. I felt in some ways “lighter”. I have since stopped my psychiatric medications.

One thing friends, officers and counselors told me was that I have great social awareness, I am perfectly aware of my issues but how I put it all into work is another matter. Though it’s still a work-in-progress I am certain that this time round I will succeed as I have found the courage to take the first few baby steps. I keep one goal in mind, I owe it to the memory of gram’s to live a life I know wouldn’t worry her and know in my heart that she’s there, watching over me.

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