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The only way barriers exist is in our heads - by M.N.

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I am ‘O’ Level student-inmate from institution TM1 Consolation Prize

They call me the X-man. Yeah, sounds like the mutant, but I assure you, I am just a homosapien without the mutant powers, just like you. I was christened with this nickname after everyone, including you right now, became curious as to why my prison number started with a different alphabet. In prison, they have this sequence of numbers you have to follow, and different categories have different numbers. Mine, it’s in sequence with thy brothers on the gallons. In simple English, I am a condemned man. But back then, I was not a man yet, I was a boy. 12 years ago, I was just a 16 years old boy who was condemned to the gallows for a heinous crime I committed. Shocking is it not? I mean, how can a mere 16 years old boy commit a heinous crime? Jokes aside, I did. I cold-bloodedly murdered an innocent man, a father of two children, a son to some parents, a sibling to some brothers and sisters. And till today, my hands are dirty with this innocent man’s blood.

I am not a violent person in nature. In fact, I was just purely gloomy and introverted. Can’t blame me, I was brought up in a dysfunctional family and kicked around like a football often that I felt unwanted. I was abused by my step-mother physically, being caned for nothing and with that perineal caning, I became immune to pain. I knew no pain. When I went to school, it was just like a ghost shell, sitting there and achieving nothing. Everyone hurt me in school. The reason they hated me was me being me. I mean, I am who I am, why should I act like someone else? I do not owe you a single thing, I came into this world alone and one day I might die alone so should I suck up to you and be someone you like? I rather be who I am. No one knows what it's like to be me. But I am forgiving. Even after fights in school, my victory will only bring tears to my eyes at the violence I created with my own hands. You might think I am a sick man, but I am rational. I stood up to bullies. But that does not stop the hate.

I quitted school, left home, joined a gang and did all the hooligan stuff. The start of my underworld journey. All I wanted was to feel accepted. And I felt accepted in this realm. I started drinking, picked up smoking, had unprotected sex with prostitutes and hostesses, joined gang fights but I never touched drugs. I do not know why but that thing repelled me. Every time I see my “brothers and sisters” sticking needles and shaking their heads to the feel, I feel revolted. So I turned to violence to satisfy my lust for acceptance. Every time I did something abysmal, I received praises from people around me. I felt they cared about me, so I thought I would find my niche, one thing led to another, and I made my bones in the underworld.

Ipso facto, after my arrest, I thought I would be laudable. But reality sinks in. Bit by bit, the “family” that I thought was genuine left me. After all I did, and facing the hangman noose, they left me. Ironically, the people that I abandoned, that was my real family, stood by my side. The people that kicked me around, the people that I thought never accepted me, they were the ones to stand with me hand-in-hand through the vicissitudes. Life at its pragmatism was harsh towards me. I became an infamous cold-blooded murderer, the media took liberty at spreading, and my family received the backlash of my crime. They were humiliated and ashamed but they persevered and in the end, I became ashamed of who I was. People looked down on me and the hurt that I faced back then was nothing compared to this. Hate did not fit the description of what people felt for me. They loathed, despised, abhorred even at mere mention of my name. And I thought to myself, is there any redemption? Is there any path I could take to make society love me back? Yes, there is, and I found a way.

The only way was to start loving myself and pulling down the barriers and obstacles I barricaded around me from outside help. I started taking them down and my family came to me one by one. The love I received from them was beautiful. I thought there was only hatred in this world, but I was proved wrong by my family’s love. I came to love god and god loved me back. The people around me loved me too, and I know there is a chance for me. Even after knowing who I am and who I was, they showered me with love. Society will come to love me too if I prove myself.

The whole thing has taught me that the barriers we put before ourselves do not really exist. The only way barriers exist is in our heads. We create them, we feed them and we choose to keep them alive. So we can also choose to break them down. Confidence and happiness are not luck or something only other people can have, they are decisions you make that involve hard work, commitments and believing that you actually deserve it. There are no barriers to stop you getting there. And if for whatever reason you ever feel despair, it is worth remembering God gives his toughest journey to his strongest soldiers.

And with a quote from Caitlyn Jenner I kept in my heart, “The bottom line is there is nothing better than going through life with no secrets. So be open about who you are as a person. Wake up in the morning and be yourself. Live your life unashamed of who you are and without the burden of secrets.” People will love me if I have no secrets and I will never feel ashamed of who I am. I wake up and stare at the mirror and tell myself, everyone will love me for who I am. Therefore I am….

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