“Afraid To Love Myself”
By Richard Atkins Jr.
July 9, 2019
An unexamined life is not worth living. I had to speak that truth, that fact, first and foremost. The strong is dying to live while the weak lives to die. I was the weak living to die. I was insecure and immature to the point where I could care less whether I lived or died yesterday. My hate was a loaded weapon and as hard as my mother tried to comfort and love me unconditionally, I still was able to see my death around the corner.
The road to love is a marathon but I was in a dead sprint for my death to come. The root of all evil is the root of a lost people. I’ve cried more tears than all of my years on earth. And no one knows my soul. I was so broken, I couldn’t hit water if I fell off a boat in the ocean. I would look in the mirror and wonder why my mother gave birth to a eight pound ten ounce baby boy?
They say, struggle breeds character but I didn’t understand that fact. Nor did I comprehend poverty, being poor and born with less. I didn’t understand why my kind, my people were and still are the forbidden fruit. And I aint talking about watermelon either.
The first to judge is usually the last to love. This is why I had no hope for the future. I’m not even sure if I even used the word future in my vocabulary as a teenager. That’s how afraid I was to love myself. Picture not so perfect I felt worthless as a teen and looking back I’m shocked at my lack of drug use. No matter how down, how hopeless I felt, I couldn’t bring myself to indulge in hard drugs. I did partake in the recreational use of marijuana and alcohol. And that participation was due to peer pressure. All teens wished to fit in.
Evil has many faces and so does the devil. I’m fortunate that I had only one face. Although that one face could be seen running wild as a gang member. As a youth, you couldn’t tell me anything ‘bout my life. I was a dying breed built to survive but dying next to crime, lies and homicides. I lost more friends to gang violence than the women’s U.S. soccer team has been cheated out of millions! I’ve lost more friends than the U.S. president since taking office.
I had no dreams of becoming anything except for a gangster like John Gotti or Frank Lucas or Al Capone.
My lifestyle of corruption was born in the summer of '91. And I was born in the winter of '81. You do the math on it.
Born below the poverty line is like being born in the Nile River with alligators in arms reach! Painful, a sad truth and a reality so potent that African Americans can taste it while still in our mother’s stomach…
Love was near in my home but yet and still I was afraid to love myself.
The criminal elite who make our laws make us pay with our freedom. We need to make the elite criminal class pay the same way. ‘cause at 10 years old, what did I truly know about life? And a curse cannot simultaneously be a blessing no more than heat can be cold, right?
When I allowed myself to dream and have hope I didn’t see everything terribly wrong with our society. I saw the future. I saw my future. Today, I am confident in myself and happy with who I am. I’ve sat here in my prison cell many years and thought a lot about who I am, what life is all about and how to make progress for every day that I breathe…
Today, I am not, afraid to love myself.
If you are working on an APWA-related project, please let us know how you plan to utilize the Archive. We hope to share information about your work with our readers and, whenever possible, with relevant APWA authors.
APWA is an open access archive. We encourage use of the writings for research, course planning, and projects engaged in examination of the criminal legal system. Reproduction of essays in their entirety infringes on author copyright without their explicit consent from the writers. Please contact us if you plan to reproduce entire essays; we will do our best to put you in contact with the authors for consent, and their compensation for any project that is profit making.