Removing The Mask – Dean Preston

Removing The Mask – My Thoughts by Dean Preston……
On my way to see my aunt and uncle, I walk down the hall, stopping every fifty feet or so. I nod to the other pedestrians, on their way to who knows where. Each of us carries a piece of paper with our names and our destination. I can here the hum of a solenoid as the gate opens and I show my piece of paper along with my id to the man in the booth. He scans from one to the other then to me, scrutinizes me with a stern look bordering on contempt… he hates me for my destination, I think to myself… yeah, screw you too I say silently, from behind a smile… then on my way through a metal detector and wait at the next gate… and the next and the next until I walk down the last stretch toward a door where I will strip naked show my ass-hole to another ass-hole who seems to resent my very existence. I feel the change coming over me as I get nearer to that door and someone who actually loves me. The weights are falling off. I am loosing the armor that protects me. I remove the hate mask that protects me from rape and assault. I soften and breath, adding a bounce to my step and light to my eyes… yes, it’s hard and I can’t hide that fact, nor will I lie to them. But… they don’t need to know how absolutely miserable I am. I refuse to be sad in their presence, nothing but joy. I will not tell them how disappointed I was when I woke up this morning, or how I feel like a coward for not having the guts to kill myself. I should be dead, I deserve to die… and I know it. I should have been a sheep-dog but instead I became wolf…
I should have been human, humane. Now that I am thrust into the cage I try with all my might to retain, regain, my humanity.
So, here we are sitting together… telling one another that we are well; that we are alive and hope is there for the nurturing. Yeah, we lie to one another. They lie to me, an act of mercy. I don’t know, won’t know until much later that they saw me from a distance as I came into that space. They noticed the change. They saw me switch modes. They saw me go from hardened convict to their baby boy in foot steps. Twenty years and three prisons later, the switch is harder to make… I am less sure of which one is real. Which one is the armor I put on?
564 visits…
6820 days separated
7384 days in prison
I am still fighting to retain my humanity… I fight against bitterness that threatens me from within my heart. I fight by using my heart to love instead of hate. By using my voice to create unity and awareness to the suffering of others. By painting, writing poetry and playing games… And by working to build up the courage to do things that may cause me immense suffering but might cause you to take notice of the inhumane and unproductive suffering being meted out to human beings who were already crushed when they hurt you. I am a human-being.
I have many stories to share and share them I will, but I will not benefit from the telling in any way. My only benefit will be in knowing that good people may be compensated for my work, which will allow them to continue doing the good work that they already do. People like Alicia Jean Vanderelli my heart’s reason for beating, and the owner/curator of the Vanderelli Room art gallery in Franklinton, Ohio. I have fallen irrevocably in love with this amazing human being… it is to her that I owe a debt of change for the better. She and others like her have reached into this world of isolation and connected with the “Invisible Forgotten” accepting us into their tribe. They are holding us (me) to a higher standard. (Which makes the fact that she is not allowed to visit me all the more insane… but that’s another story… one that I hope has a better ending than… keep hope alive)… for now I just keep walking down the hall with bounce in my step and light in my eyes… honoring the connection and the humanity someone saw in me and nurtured.

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