Mentally Arrested

I have a friend who was incarcerated for 16 years. He has been home for over a decade. Last week he celebrated his 45th birthday. He partied for two weeks straight. I joked, “You are partying like you just came home.” He replied, “I’ve been home for 10 years and I’m still a lover of life…. Sometimes when I’m in the club I still have those moments when

I can’t believe I’m home.”

Another friend, one of my dearest, is turning 61 years old next week. She spent 20 years in prison. She has been home for a little over 10 years as well and she is still perplexed by the effects incarceration have had on her. She said to me yesterday, “Why do you seem so normal? It seems like you were never in prison. You don’t seem affected at all. You seem to have it all together.” By eyes bulged as I looked at her in shock. “I probably seem normal to you in the same way you seem so normal to me.” This woman is so vibrant, fit and energetic that when she wavers I find myself telling her to stop acting like an old lady. It surprises me when she moves too slow, or seems a little unsteady behind the wheel. The fact of the matter is that even though she looks and acts like she is not a day over 40 she is a senior citizen. She said that nobody seems to understand her energy level. She still has moments when she can’t keep still, when she just feels the need to rip and run like a teen. Then, her body shuts down and she realizes she is not as young as she thinks she is. As much as I empathize with her it felt so good to hear her express these words. It made me feel so normal. I’ve been called everything from energizer bunny to busy body just over the last few days.

Wondering when life will settle and get back to normal I asked my friend, “When will it end?” She said:

I have come to accept it and just go with the flow; the only problem is that other people don’t understand. It’s like I’m trapped in two worlds. On the one hand, I’m here and I’m 60 years old and on the other hand I have this young woman who was physically and mentally arrested trapped inside of me who is so restless, anxious and energetic that sometimes I just can’t keep still. I guess she will slow down and catch up to me one day. I’m not sure…

I am intrigued by the seemingly insurmountable trauma of incarceration.

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About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 


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