Then Everyone is Gone But Me

Along the Way…

Experiences, Insights & Humor on the “Long Road Home”

November 9, 2021

By Steven Maisenbacher

Walks On The Grass

I have to say this, I am always glad when my friends get to go home before me. But what a lot of you may not know about me is the fact that I have separation anxiety of a sort, as well as PTSD.  About a decade ago I went to psychology services to speak to them over some things that had started going on that were bothering me. It seems that all my life people have left me, or gone away, for whatever reason, and it is evident that now in prison it happens more than you would think. See in here you develop friendships and bonds; they grow strong because the people you are cool with in here are the very same people who may save your life in a situation, who offer friendship, someone to talk to when your down, or to share a meal with, or to walk the yard with, or to just hang out with, then…transfer, release or whatever and they are gone and it always seems like a part of you goes with them.

Prisoner

There’s all the, “Oh, we will stay in touch” or the “I’m gonna send you this and that” and all… but only a handful of times has that ever actually happened, in fact, most often it’s out of sight, out of mind.

It’s bothersome, so as I said, I was kind of freakin’ out about what I didn’t know, so I went and talked to the people in psychology and while they couldn’t offer a solution, they were quick to “diagnose.” (I’m surprised they didn’t offer me a puzzle, but that’s another story.) I was not sleeping then I’d all of a sudden get real anxious and start freakin out. I’d get nervous and worried and withdraw and depressed and just was a mega-mess; couldn’t concentrate, didn’t want to do the things I normally love to do. I just felt all sorts of crazy things that are not normal for me.

So I’m explaining to the lady that while I still had several years to go at the time I was concerned that the world had advanced so far so fast without me being in it that I wouldn’t have any place in it except maybe here in prison. But that is the one place I didn’t want to be anymore and that every time I made a friend or every time I got close to someone they ended up leaving me behind, moving on to better things or not, but moving on, nonetheless.

So she came out with, “It seems you are going thru the effects of separation  anxiety, where you feel like you’re abandoned and all that when the people around you move on, as well as some PTSD due to the fact that you have spent most of your life living behind razor wire in prisons and under sub-normal conditions so that now its seemingly normal to you, and the thought of being released has these feelings and fears coming to the forefront.”

OK, makes sense, I’ve watched at least 75 friends and associates walk off either home or to another spot. I’ve seen men die due to lack of proper or timely medical attention. I’ve seen just about every juxtaposition of the “everyone is gone” thing that you could imagine, so it makes sense that that has somehow gone from good for them to bad for me in my mind.  You’ve got to understand, I just am not like other people. After all, I was born broken, and everything since that moment has been either a continuation of that bad beginning, or my self-healing in spite of it. So there might be a special curve to go by in relation to what I can be expected to do, think or feel. I’m just saying.

I ain’t looking for no pity, or any “Aw, poor Walks, here need a hug” crud. I’m just putting this out there for the whole whomever to see, that with my own words I have surgically removed the worry and frustration of separation anxiety and PTSD disorder like the cancer it can be from my mind and thoughts. I don’t like to lose sleep, especially over something I may be able to fix. So there it is, seems like every time I turn around someone is leaving me and I’m getting ready to be the one who leaves in a matter of months. And now that I know and I’m writing this, maybe my leaving will be a little less frightening to me, because I’m darned sure afraid. Just like an adventurer has fears about an upcoming expedition, this is all going to be an adventure. Just hope I bring the right tools…

© Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher, 2021

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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