Being in the hole for necessary reasons and receiving a black mark on my record has been a stressful struggle. The morning I was released from the hole was the very morning my grandmother passed away, having to find this out over the phone tore at my heart. Being released, from the hole, once again having to acclimate to another unit full of criminals, hoping my new cell mate is better than the last can be over whelming. It took me almost an entire week to get my personal property back, left with one pair of underwear, pants, shirt, toothbrush and a bar of soap, forced to wash my underwear each day in the shower. All of these things made life in prison more stressful than one can imagine. I’m not typing all this information to bring my readers down, please don’t stop reading. I’m saying all this to shed light on the growth and strength in character that I continue to find in myself during struggles like the ones that I’ve had to endure during these last four + years of my incarceration. In the past, before coming to prison, getting sober, making countless efforts and setting numerous goals in preparation for a successful future, I would have fell into one of many deep depressive states, wanting nothing more in life than to self-medicate, numbing any kind of real feelings, forgetting about my problems and creating more problems along the way. I can no longer live like this, even if I wanted to. I know I have the strength and will, and the intelligence to face my problems head on, with a strong driving force to find a proper resolution and move forward. I can no longer go through a single day avoiding a problem or intentionally creating new ones. I face problems head on, sometimes it’s scary, and sometimes I have to think long and hard before making a decision, however scary it may be. At the end of the day, I truly believe that all these things have happened to me in prison for a greater purpose, preparing me for road blocks in society and teaching me how to deal with problems like any other responsible adult does every day. I’m thankful for the problems I’ve had to endure in prison. If the last 4+ years of my life in prison were easy and without conflict, I most certainly would not have learned as much as I needed to in order to be best prepared for my future, and for that reason I continue to thank God at the beginning and at the end of each day.