A Whole New World Part 13 Read Count : 19

Category : Blogs

Sub Category : Motivation
That morning, right after count time, Carl made his way to the Classification Department; the department that handles everything from visitation approvals, inmates files, Disciplinary Reports, program participation, job assignments, and everything else. After his surreal experience at the chapel with Bishop Porter the previous night, he felt a dire need to do something. He had too many questions in his head and the need to find the answers became an urgent matter to him. He knew that by sitting in his cell all day staring at the four walls would not get him the answers he was looking for. He needed to keep himself busy by doing something where at the same time he would be left alone to sort out his jumbled thoughts. He mulled over it at breakfast and as soon as count was over, he knew exactly what he needed to do. 

At the Classification Department, he signed up for the Inside Grounds job. Armed with a cart loaded with brooms, rake, garbage bags and a trash can, he pushed the cart to his designated area near the factory. A few inmates who had arrived before him were busy cleaning the spots they had chosen for themselves. Carl pushed his cart further away to an area where old trees had shedded their leaves. He looked around him and saw he had quite a lot of ground to cover but he didn't mind it at all for the work would provide him the time and space he needed to think. Without wasting time, he parked his cart underneath a tall, shady tree, grabbed a broom and went to work. His search for himself almost always takes him back to that place and time when he was molested as a little boy. The journey into who he is today, the person he has become, what makes him "him", would always turn his search there. He figured if he really wanted to look for his answers, that would be the best place for him to look so, as he busied himself sweeping up leaves, he allowed his mind to go into his peaceful place to begin his search and to meditate on the quest of finding himself. Although he was somewhat afraid of what he would find, he knew it was something he needed to do for himself. So in he went. 

The old creaky door of his heart that had long been locked and bolted shut resisted any tampering from the outside. But he turned the handle, yanked on the frame and pulled with all his might to open the door anyway. Standing at the threshold, he once again found himself at the place where he had been hiding all his life; the place where he could clearly see the guilt and the shame, the insecurity and literal fearfulness written into every part of his body. He peeked in. The place was dark and gloomy. There were chains stretched out from that trauma which had spun the years of his life like a spider's web; stretching out in every direction, intertwined and touching everything in his life. Dare he go in? He took a deep breath and stepped inside. 

From his mind's eye, he saw a little boy huddled in a dark corner, on the floor, with his arms wrapped around his legs, rocking himself to and fro. He stared at the boy who looked lost and confused and yet, there was something very familiar about him. Puzzled, he took a step closer. The boy kept rocking on the floor with his head hung low. He moved a step closer. Feeling his presence, the little boy stopped rocking and looked up at Carl. His eyes were wide and frightened. Carl kept inching forward, and the closer he got to the little boy, the more he found himself rehearsing the same old script in his mind, like a movie reel played over and over. The scene that was playing was of that painful day where he was molested. 

"Will I ever be free of this torture?" he wondered to himself. 

The weight of that memory had been bringing him down for years that even his shoulders slumped forward from carrying the weight of the burden that he was certain he was deformed by it. Instead of being afraid to face the little boy, he was filled with pity and compassion. He became very emotional when he realized the lost and confused boy he was looking at was actually him. He reached out to the little boy, feeling a strong need to comfort him but when he reached out his hand, he was startled to see his hand passed right through the boy. He tried again. He moved his hand back and forth, reaching for something he knew was there in front of him, but there was nothing of substance for him to grasp. He was confused. Why can he see the little boy but couldn't touch him? What does this all mean? Could it mean he was left hollowed by that unfortunate incident that there was nothing more left of him? He thought about it and considered the possibility. 

"No, I don't have to be defined by this," he argued defiantly. 

How many abuses had he suffered in life because of the past? How much of his identity had been developed merely to prevent anything like it from happening again? And this identity he had been carrying, this person he had become, was it truly who he was? 

Carl was trembling when he snapped back to himself. He looked around him. He still had a broom in his hand, there were still a lot of leaves for him to rake, and that little boy...? He was nowhere to be found. He realized then that he had been sleepwalking through life. The sleepy blurred vision in his eyes tangled up in his pillows and sheets, a vision of a poor tired little boy wiggling his foot like he was awake.... it was all a fake. He was a fake; a put together person, lost in this mission called life. 

So many people had come and gone in his life that it was impossible to calculate the exact number. Quite a number of them were profoundly decent people and some, completely impossible to deal with. But through it all, they had come and gone with such repetition that he had found it difficult to connect with those around him. Now that he was back to living within crowds of people, he was essentially guarded and alone. It seemed that as soon as he began to develop a decent connection, he would coil up and withdraw enough that his perimeters, boundaries and cautions remained intact. No matter how close he got to anyone, he was very meticulous about letting anyone too close to seeing him for who he really was. And after years and years of living like that, he had developed a dependency on it, so much so that even he was unable to approach too close to the truth of who he really was. The realization upset him. He didn't want to be alone anymore. He didn't want to be lonely and guarded anymore. More importantly, he didn't want to be lost anymore. 

Bishop Porter's words rang in his ears.... "There are no limits to what you can be, even here in prison. Sometimes you have to use what is around you, in the place you are, in the people you see, to get to where you want to be." 

He smiled to himself. Yes, he understood now. No more sleepwalking through life. Tomorrow is a new day and with it comes new opportunities and a new chance for him to right himself. Tomorrow, he is going to own his right to truly be Carl Shuck.

In a world that is like a stage or a playground with so many external things going on around us, it is possible for us to lose sight of what is real. Trauma, pressure, insecurity, low self-esteem, the need to be accepted and belong, can mess you up internally to the point where you can lose your own identity. Carl had been role-playing and putting on masks ever since he was a young boy to hide the hurt and shame he was carrying inside. When he was attacked in prison, that old wound reopened and that magnified the need for him to keep playing roles and keep changing his masks. He found himself playing different roles for different audiences and he kept doing that for years. At the end of the day, with that continuous play, would it be easy for him to find his way back to himself? Would he even recognize himself if his true self is standing right in front of him?

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  • Sep 04, 2020

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