“Now I’m getting Real!”
A Speech By Greg Houston
I come from a place that’s dark, cold, numb, and loveless. I feel that I don’t need anyone. I put on a mask called “I don’t need anyone”. I put this mask on to block out any and everything that can hurt me. It’s what I wear to make me feel strong, safe, and confident. I use it to keep me in control and it keeps distance towards people who try to love me, because I don’t allow them. I push love away, because I don’t know how to love. I was never taught love. I believe love makes you vulnerable… weak, a target. So why should I be?
Growing up I wasn’t a child that was ‘Nurtured’. This is why I placed on my anger mask. I come from a family that was emotionless, mad at life.
My parents were caught up in the drug epidemic that hit in the 70s and 80’s. So they were on heroin and crack (drugs) and stayed in and out of prisons. My sisters who were left to take care of me, became addicts as well. Crack, prostitution, etc… Since drugs were always around me, I started to hustle before my teenage years. But I looked at it like putting food on the table. I didn’t grow up with nice clothes, playing with Tonka toys, riding bikes… none of that whatsoever. My size always allowed me to hang around the older guys in the hood, that were robbers, killers, dealers, and addicts. This is what was molding me. So I became a product of my environment and did whatever I needed to do. I wasn’t living with a sense of morals or values, because being able to survive was more important than being right or wrong. So me getting it by myself was me making a name for myself and the streets.
I began to wear my ‘King of the Hill’ mask. I got a reputation to uphold, a persona to keep up. You know the cars, money, women, and materialistic things. It’s what I’m known for; the reason I’m standing here right now. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a family that cares about me getting good grades or playing sports. They felt I was capable of being a man, so now I am supporting them. Their bills, their habits and their kids… my nieces & nephews. So now I am carrying all of this pressure. I had no one to depend on. So I put on my ‘Victim’ mask.
I had to learn to hide my hurt to be strong. I coudln’t show that I was just this little boy that’s hurting inside. I might look weak. I became closed off, cold, built trust issues and it became easy for me not to be loved. I was hurting and in pain… crying on the inside. I couldn’t let that show. I felt let down.
With my ‘Anger’ mask I took control. I became violent, numb, mad. I trusted no one. Trust in my life was a life or death matter when you are in the streets. Grown up without no rules or no guidelines. I became lost! I didn’t let people in. I felt that I needed no one. All of these masks I was wearing were my shields. They blocked my pain and protected me & everybody else, but I became empty. I started taking all of the wrong risk, that risk resulted in my being in prison. I came to prison with this name I built from the streets, the name that I proudly molded. I came in the door with guys glorifying my pain, my wrongs, and all of the materialistic garbage I had acculmulated, and worst of all they idolized the pain that I had caused others. However, they wasn’t doing my time, taking my losses, and I wasn’t doing theirs. I was in my “it’s cool – everything is alright” mood; however, my kids are hurting, family struggling and this pain that often made me question how I’m going to do this 24 years? I’m here now, what can I do? I can come out the same, worse or change for the better. I had to make a choice, because that little boy that I’m protecting is still inside of me. That boy who is still in the healing process, still dealinlg with self-issues; he that was hiding behind the mask, because don’t nobody see his real hurt… well, he’s still here even now. Everyday is a struggle and this time is going to test you. I’m still taking losses; you win some, you lose some. I lost my mother in 2009, my father in 2005. Children… I could go on and on. I feel the hurt now. I can’t let it break me.
It has to get better, but I have to put the work in. Everyday I push myself. To go to work, although I never worked before. I don’t have time to kick it on the yard playing games. Life is real for me, so I work out. I have to get serious about life now. My seeds need me. My future woman wants a man I’m sure. So I challenge myself. G.E.D., Programs, College, Trades, etc… It’s just about trying to stay focused. Taking advantage of everything this place has to offer you. I had absolutely nothing when I came to this place. The furthest I went through school was Middle School. Everything else I had was material items, which were lost as material items usually are. Honestly, I am still working on a lot, so if you know of any tools I can place inside my box please help me sign up! My choice is to get better, but I know that I have to get real with myself first. Take advantage of opportunities like I’m doing now! I can not afford to sell myself short or sell you short, becuase I’ve matured into a man. That’s why I removed my masks.
Today, I’m blessed to see the error in my ways. Life is a journey… full of tests. I’m not perfect. Today, I’m just a man in the process trying to get ahead. Today, I am going to keep it real with myself… keep it real as a man.
Inside the Walls and Outside the Walls is a program designed to mentor and counsel young, at risk men. It entails arresting the issues of youth violence and criminal behaviors before they become adults; also to help those who have unfortunately went through the criminal justice system and need the support necessary to transition back into society in peaceful and productive ways,
This is done by going into these juvenile detention centers to give testimonies, counsel, and work with the courts (judges, attorneys, probation officers, mental health and substance abuse professionals) in regards to sentencing and diversion programs.
The other aspect is to help these young men once they are released from detention centers and prison. To provide a step by step integration plan that includes housing, vocational training, GED certification, community accountability, and parenting skills. Teaching them everything the need to become men in the absence of fathers.