Responses from Lesson 6
In their own words, the Fellows reflect on the impact the
T.R.U.S.T. Program has had on them.
“I communicated with men that were remaining positive. I stayed in prayer and wrote a daily prayer journal, allowing me to put others before me. I followed directions and knew I could only help those around me. I wrote letters of support and encouragement. I knew they too were living imprisoned within their own home.”
“I started and ended each day with gratitude. I meditated and checked in with myself. I discovered that I was able to use my fear to my advantage by helping others cope. Yes, I found resilience through staying connected to others.”
it was a really traumatic experience for myself and others...it felt as though a trench was dug. I was thrown in and I began getting buried alive to muffle my cries, screams, fears, to take away my chances of survival. The struggle was real. ...but I held on. ….and like that broken rose that grew from the cracks of the concrete...it showed amazing tenacity and that’s how I feel. No matter how much dirt was thrown on me, in spite of my conditions, I lived!”
“For me having Covid in prison was scary, something that even growing up on the mean streets of West Oakland could never have prepared me for. Seeing people die who were perfectly fine that I knew…. constantly hearing screams of ‘Man Down’, ambulances taking people out of here. Being treated as less than human as my if my life didn’t matter because I’m incarcerated. I felt helpless, hopeless, defeated, depressed, anxious with no one to talk to, suffering in silence. I ended up talking to mental health to cope and it helped because it finally felt like I was being heard and the strength I discovered was perseverance in spite of the deliberate indifference and inhumane conditions us incarcerated people were subjected to. I prayed for strength, protection, and my sanity and I made it through.”
“The Covid quarantine was difficult. It took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. When it was possible, I dealt with it by doing exercises. Exercising helps my body release the toxic energy I was carrying. Exercising also helped me stay grounded mentally and emotionally. When I couldn’t exercise, I would stretch (yoga) and practice breathing exercises. For me, exercising is a form of meditation. I can let go of my active thoughts and be fully present with my body and surroundings. Exercising was and is one of my coping tools.”
“During the epidemic, I fought through numerous challenges. What I tried to do was stay focused on things that I can control. I set goals for myself and accomplished them one by one. I got a lot done and I am a better person for it. I stayed busy doing projects or trying to learn more about the situation here. Though anxious at times, I found peaceful experiences.”
"As far as how I coped with the outbreak of the Covid in San Quentin, well I just put up with it simply because I had no alternative."
“The only thing I can say about coping with the pandemic at San Quentin is, ‘Jesus’: Through prayer, reading the bible and fellowshipping with the men in my block. I found my strength in the Lord, and we strengthened each other. Our resilience was found in Hope.”
On a resilient role model: “I chose my father. He was a migrant farm worker. We were very poor, but what I saw my whole life was a man who protected and provided for my Mom and eight children by the strength of his back and the will to care for his family, no matter what. To this day, I don’t understand how he did it. I never saw him defeated. No matter what was going on he always said, ‘We’re gonna be alright’.
"One very important skill that I learned in prison is to always have 2, 3, or 4 back up plans for the day because nothing ever goes as planned."
“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.” “This spoke to me because of the position I am in now, in relation to who I was in the past. I felt that I was put here by society, but I was put here by myself. This realization in itself demonstrates my willingness to be responsible and accountable. I find joy in being able to confront my past self and see the error of my ways. Seeing that I am a different person growing and adapting to my situation.”
‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ because in my life I have learned to take the punches as they come. Life teaches you to remain calm in stressful times and to deal with the problem the best way you know how in the given moment. I’ve learned not to dwell on sorrows, but to pick myself up and move on no matter how hard life can be to me.”
“....my challenge is I have few friends to discuss things with”.
“I realized in the past year I am a seed! Some seeds take longer to grow than others, but I see myself starting to grow more.”
"I learned I'm very impatient. My strengths were admitting I'm in the wrong. Holding my tongue is very challenging for me."
“Trusting and believing that within myself, I have what I need to weather any situation that may come my way, learning from the TRUST, be open to new ideas, having a listening ear and open heart to others, growing and no longer staying stuck in negative thoughts, growing and moving forward.”
‘What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.’ I always believed in this quote, because in life we will experience many challenges. And if one doesn’t give up, it will pass and make one wiser and stronger. I used to give up when things go wrong for me. Today I am resilient. I use the term, I know I can achieve anything I set my mind to.”
"What I learned is that I need to put to some more work and get out of the habit of suppressing things as well as get over the shame and guilt that's still in me."
"My humor is my strength. I found keeping a positive attitude and smiling when I don't have a reason to smile pulls in good energy."
“I overcome obstacles and bounce back from setbacks and adapt to change sufficiently. But the one that is most challenging for me is dealing with loss. I know it is inevitable and a part of life’s cycle but I still struggle in that area. I lost a lot of people who were close to me.”