Beginning Life All Over

By Ghost Dancer – Letter to Facebook friends

Hi Everyone, 

I ask each of you to please take the time to read this and hear directly from me what it feels like being free! Thank You!

It will soon be 4 months since my compassionate release was granted and I would love to speak to you about what freedom truly feels like after so very long. It would be hard for anyone to understand what the adjustment has been like or what Cat and I have had to go through beginning life all over. 

First let me say that I’m so very, very thankful and happy to be free after spending so many decades in prison. Cat and I and all my family truly wish to thank each and every one of you for all your prayers, concern, support and love.

As the saying goes, True Love never dies. When I was sent away for 40 years, I told Cat she should go on with her life and please not wait for me. She deserved a better life and I prayed it would be a better one than what she had with me. I would never ask her to quit living and wait for me, never knowing if I would ever be free or even alive. To ask her to do that would be selfish and cruel, so we just stayed friends and kept in touch through the years. No, we never quit loving each other. We just had to go on living the best we could. The best part of being free now is that Cat and I are reunited after all these decades. In fact our reignited True Love is growing stronger than ever before.

Ghost & Cat 1990
Ghost & Cat 2022

When I was released, a prison guard took me to the Greyhound Bus station in Birmingham, AL. I sat there in my wheelchair for more than 6 hours waiting for a bus to Mobile, AL. I was dropped off in Mobile at 2:00 AM and waited there another 4 hours to catch a bus to Pensacola, FL. Arriving early in the morning, there were no taxis and no phones in sight. I did not have a clue where I was or how I would let Cat know I was there. Finally I found someone who would make a call for me on his cell phone. Everything about Pensacola had changed so much since I was last here. I did not recognized one thing, but when I saw Cat drive up, that was the most beautiful sight ever.

The adjustments we’ve had to make have not been easy. No not by a long shot. Please now just bear with me as I open up to our personal lives and all the drama, chaos, anxieties, fears, struggles and through it all, the Love that has been my rock ever since I was released. 

When you are in prison, you have to adapt to survive –  physically, mentally, and most of all spiritually. You make changes, develop habits, some good and some bad and some that you don’t even really realize. Your life is not your own anymore. Oh you can scream all you want to that you are in control of your life, but in reality when you are a prisoner you are not. You get accustomed to all the constant hollering, screaming, and total disrespect from people around you who have no concept of what respect is. You get accustomed to being around people who have no values or morals and yes, I’m speaking about staff and officials most definitely, not just other inmates.

Everything is controlled by the system and every minute of your life is on their time. It becomes ingrained that you only have this much time to talk on the phone before you’re cut off. You only have so much time to get what you need to do done, get to where you need to go. You eat as fast as you can so as not to miss your chance to eat. You have so much time to go get your medicine or get to an appointment when you’re “called out.” You’re told when to go to bed, and when to get up, so your whole life is geared to whatever time they tell you it is.

You get so wound up in your tiny environment that you aren’t even aware of all the habits and way of thinking you are picking up. Yes even bad grammar and the foul language is even worse. Fortunately I didn’t pick up the bad language habit, my spirituality prevents that, but even I have spoken words that should never flow from my lips or even enter my mind. 

Now you may be wondering why I should even be telling you all this. Well it is because being out here in this world, life is entirely different. I have been and still am learning to adapt to a totally different environment. Many of those same habits developed over years in prison, I brought out here in this world with me. I often found myself in a panic with so many doubts and confusion and my reactions were often not appropriate for the new situation.

The world has changed so drastically in all these decades, like I had been in the stone ages and suddenly found myself in Star Wars. I didn’t and still don’t know so many things everyone takes for granted. There are so many modern changes and technology has advanced so much that I’m totally obsolete and ignorant in all of it. Plus there is the constant struggle of just trying to survive and get the things I need. My Cat, the love of my life, my true soul mate has given her all to help me adjust and get to all the appointments I have needed. But the stress of dealing with me and all my problems took a huge toll on her health and she was hospitalized three times during the first weeks. No I never meant for this to happen or even truly realized at first what the problem was. The problem was me! Mentally, I was still in prison! My way of thinking, my actions, reactions and behavior were all the same as they were in prison and they were hurting the one I loved. So even though physically I was free, I wasn’t really. My bad habits and my way of thinking, had to change and change fast.

It has taken a whole lot of my Cat constantly getting on me, reminding me to stop doing and acting these crazy ways, to just slow down, take it easy and relax – truly relax. Having Cat, as well as my family and close friends help ease me back into being the person I once was has made all the difference in the world. I’m still working on adapting but when you’re starting over from scratch, change takes time and I’m still working on it.

I wish to say that if my Step Program officer, Mr. Larry, had not of been one of the best kinds of people, helping me in every way he can, it sure would have been a whole lot harder. Mr. Etheridge, my supervised release officer, has been understanding and helped me also. I’m so thankful for these two people who have helped me and treated me like a human being. 

I owe a lot to many others as well. My friends at United Way Veterans, Christy, Greg, and D.J., and all the veterans I’ve met in the community and medical personnel at the VA Clinic and my chiropractor have welcomed me and accepted me with no judgment, just sincere caring, friendship and understanding. 

Being released totally with only the clothes I had on and sitting in my wheel chair, with no way to get anything or do anything, was stress beyond the imagination of most folks. I have no income, I can’t work because I have so many disabilities, and there is not much I can do to help my situation. Now understanding all these things maybe you can see why so many who are released end up going back to prison. Without a whole lot of support, THEY CAN’T HANDLE THE STRESS, CONFUSION, AND ANXIETIES LONG ENOUGH TO GET RID OF THEIR OWN BAD HABITS.  

I’m fortunate that I do not have to worry about any drug, alcohol or tobacco addictions, but many who get released still have all those addictions and problems that go with them. We have learned firsthand how slow the government is in helping anyone. I’m so blessed that I have Cat to help me with everything. I have my loving wonderful family who always has my back and helps us and those special friends who are always are there when we need them the most. Most people in prison do not have these special ones to help them when they get released.

Soon I will be getting corrective surgery on my right knee and my skin cancer taken care of. But I still have a long way to go and so many health issues that need attention. I am so fortunate to have Cat who will be taking care of me and helping me through all of this. It will take a strong person in every way to help me make all these changes for the better. When I first got home, Cat immediately started me on all organic natural cleanses, supplements and vitamins at her own expense to help improve my health. I have lost 42 lbs. since my release and plan on losing at least another 90 lbs. Cat keeps me on track with all these things besides getting me everywhere I need to go. We have literally burned her car up driving it back and forth across the county making sure I get to all these appointments. I know that helping me has taken away so much of her sleep and way too much of her time for things she needs. 

Yes I’m a walking medical mess. The doctors I’ve seen out here can’t understand or figure out how I’m alive with so much wrong and damages done to my body. They are pleased by the improvements in my overall health thanks to Cat’s helping me with my nutrition, supplements etc. but yes, they are shocked and outraged by the x-rays and my medical records that show how badly I have been treated for so long. 

If you have wondered why I have not written or think I have forgotten about my friends by not sharing with you, just know that Cat and I have just been so busy trying to adjust and get our lives together. My dear Sings, and my sister Judy will continue to share with you all that is going on with me. We’re doing our best to get all the medical help and other things that I need. Everyday I have appointments somewhere, sometimes several, across town from each other and more than an hour’s drive apart. 

I want you all to know that I’m so thankful to be free and enjoying life as much as I can. I have a wonderful, beautiful, loving woman who loves me no matter how messed up I am and she is willing to help me any way she can. I am so Blessed and Happy to have her and so thankful to all of my family and friends for your understanding, for being so supportive and letting me know you are happy for me too. I will strive to become better and better in every way.  Ghost

Published by Sings Many Songs

I'm an 80-something child of the great depression and WWII. Throughout my life I have been a seeker, an outsider, never quite belonging anywhere, still always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. A lifelong student with many interests and a love of writing and editing, my elder's path led to encouraging and assisting some remarkable people to write out their amazing stories. This calling became the magic elixir that keeps me growing, keeps me alive.

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