Letter to a 15 Year Old Friend… Myself So Long Ago
~ Name Withheld
Editor’s Note: This letter is being shared by permission

with the author, who is currently an inmate at Perryville

Women’s Prison in Arizona.
Dear Friend,
Hello. People call me (name withheld) but my birth name is (name withheld). I am writing you this letter hoping you will benefit from it in some way.
I was born and raised in a small town called Clarkdale on an Indian reservation. My mother was a full-blooded Apache and my father was African American. My father was not in my life until later on in life. My mother was a single parent trying to raise 7 children. I am the only girl out of six brothers. Three of them are my half brothers but I do consider them as my whole brothers. My mother was an alcoholic, and was never there for me. Basically my brothers tried to raise me.
I went to school everyday, started playing sports in 4th grade. Trying to keep far away from my house because there was bad things going on to me within the house. So that is why I did sports. I would try to stay nights over at my friend’s house just to be away. As I got older I went on to high school. Never thought I was beautiful, always thought of myself as an “ugly ducklin.” And that I would never find anyone to love me cause I felt dirty about myself. In high school I made it to my junior year. I turned 18 years old. Met a guy ten years older than me and fell in love and got pregnant. I had a baby boy whom I called (name withheld). I was going to give him up for adoption , but I kept him. His dad always said the baby wasn’t his because he came out white looking. But I kept my baby and stayed in that cheating relationship. Because I thought that was normal to be cheated on and verbally abused. Four years later I am sitting in DOC for an aggravated DUI which came after finding my older brother lying in the hallway dead. In 1995 they sentenced me to 4 months with 18 months probation. I couldn’t do the probation cause I was an alcoholic and drug addict with low self-esteem. And I came back to prison again for probation violation with another charge, and can get out again but this time with parole. I couldn’t even do parole due to my addiction.
In 2003-2004 I was here again at Perryville. But during this time I did programming with classes. Went to school to get my GED, and I received my diploma and had a graduation ceremony. Now, I pick up another DUI in 2006, and get sentenced to DOC for 8 months. At that time I was working the AA program and I turned myself in sober. I get out of prison living a sober life. I thought it was going good. But you know, being in that abusive relationship with a man… So now, I went to a woman? Cause the man always to me no one would ever want me with children. Now that’s where the woman came in along with my sobriety. I was sober 8 years along with my partner. Life was good. I felt everything I always wanted – loved and wanted. Until the day or I should say year 2015 when she came to prison. My whole life went to shambles. Cause I couldn’t be without her. So I came up with a plan to follow her here to prison so I could be with her. Not a good idea.
Well cause we ain’t together and we’re on different yards. Big mistake. While incarcerated in the Yavapai County Jail I found God – I realized my whole sobriety was missing something and that one thing was God. So I went to church and prayed. I hung out with ladies who weren’t negative and who I thought were winners. I made it back to Perryville on February 21, 2017.
Prior to that I was 6 months in jail. This time being back in prison after 10 years being out in the real world. Now I can say this time is different because I am finding me. I am taking the “Way Out Class”, Leading from Within (ATHENA), and re-entry class along with Native American groups. I am on a small year – Santa Rosa. I sick with women who are positive and not negative. I am doing me only, and not everybody else.
Upon my release I will have 18 months sobriety and I ain’t paroling back to the Indian reservation. I am going back to the half way house I got sober in 10 years ago.
Now, looking back at my life, I could of done things better and not dwelled on my childhood or even the relationship I was in. Now I am doing me and not putting others before me. Even though my life was so devastating, I am picking myself up. Cause I want to be a strong woman in recovery. To let other women know they ain’t alone. And they could be anything they want to be. No matter where life takes you. Pick yourself right back up where you left off. Cause you are a survivor. And life is all about choices.
My choice is to be an alcohol substance abuse counselor or even a domestic violence advocate. So please be careful to make the right choices, especially at your young age.


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