It's been almost 11 years since handcuffs were first clasped to my arms. A scared young boy I was. Full of promise and opportunity, light surrounded me. And then, the handcuffs grew tighter, and the light began to fade. Darkness became my environment... Pain, humiliation, and suffering became my enemy. I was 16 years old when the system took me away from my mother. 16 when I stepped into hell.
I watched my mother frantically do all that she possibly could to pull me out of that whole. Her tears fell to my face, and her cries fell short on deff ears as I slipped from her grip further into darkness. We shared each others pain.
Mom, I will forever love you.
I lost 10 years of my life over lies. My freedom, stripped away. My name, slandered, my innocence, replaced.... With rage. I wanted revenge. I wanted Her to suffer. I wanted them ALL to suffer as I did. As my mother and family did. The darkness that surrounded me was now in me.
My faith is what has me here today. In complete darkness, I saw light. And a choice was presented: Accept this evil and become what is expected of me, or reach for that faint glimmer of light and defy the odds. I chose the impossible, the struggle, the less traveled path. And that light began to brighten. And that brightens began to shine. And darkness became transparent. As I allowed darkness, rage, and anger to enter, I allowed it to exit. My pain and suffering became my friend, as well as my teacher. I embraced them both, and they know me well.
I stand here today a free man. Hands bruised and bloodied from the climb out hell. Mind and spirit scorned from the experiences. Heart... hardened. I never gave up. With every reach to the sky as I climbed out of that whole, I redirected that hateful energy. And that alone gave me power. What was once anger and revenge is now determination and ambition. Success IS my revenge. The fact that I WILL NOT BREAK is my anger. The smile my mother now has is my assurance.
Tomorrow marks another great day, as I travel back to Flowery Branch, GA. Another great mission, another defying act. The odds are against me... But the odds know me well. And although doubt surrounds me, there is no doubt in my mind, there is no fear in my heart. And as I step onto that field day for training camp, and throughout, I will do it with the mindset of a winner. I went to hell and back, and survived a better man.
I've already won.