When all hope is lost

Burnette, Chanell

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"When All Hope is Lost" 5/23/19 "What happens when people lose hope? Whether we're free, or whether we're bound by the heavy physical chains of incarceration, what happens? And how do they gain it back? Although I may not have the answer to that question, I do know that it is possible. When I look around at some of these women, my heart breaks for them! They have lost hope. They are simply existing in a state of perpetual hopelessness and it's so sad. They are no longer living; or even surviving for that matter. Only existing in despair. I see many that I have served most of my sentence with, that have now succumbed to the lifestyle. The prison lifestyle. And although adaptation is necessary, conformity is not! One should never yield to conformity. But sadly, they have. They have given up hope for anything more than these cold cinder blocks. There's so much more; but they no longer see it. Visibility is limited; if not nonexistent. They see no light at the end of the tunnel, bright or dim. They have turned to drugs or unhealthy relationships which still do not provide the cure, the antidote. Many see no end in sight so they grope around like the blind. Feeling, reaching out for the nearest thing to hold onto; to attach themselves to for help during their helplessness. Their hopelessness. They have simply let go. Have simply lost themselves in the darkness. And unfortunately, the darkness is so thick that they cannot see anything in front of them. And this darkness is not normal darkness either. It is silent! Deafening. They see no light. They hear no sound because they feel that no one is hearing them either. They've been speaking to people for years in attempts to gain back their freedom. But, the pleas fall on deaf ears. I know this because I am one of them. Luckily, I am not one who has lost hope. I cannot afford to although I am well aware of how it occurs. I will not because I know there's more, and I'm out to get it! I know just how easy it is to lose it. Sentences are long. Seemingly endless. When my judgement was pronounced, I felt the same; but, I could not afford to lose hope. I disappointed my family once and I have two beautiful sons who need to witness the fact that any bad situation can be turned around for the greater good; and that one bad choice does not define you as an individual! You're more than one bad decision! Sadly, some do not understand that; and that fact alone has been known to send one spiraling downward into a pit of darkness and despair. The good news is that you can climb out of it. But, it takes a conscious effort. However, with the unfavorable conditions in which we find ourselves in inside these institutions, present many setbacks. Many obstacles and hurdles some do not wish to struggle to get over. Understandable. In an environment where tensions are high and frustration and pain runs rampant, many feel helpless to overcome and win the battle. Trying is too hard. But assuming defeat is easy. Quitting is effortless, but pressing through the pain can be grueling. This is especially true of trauma survivors. It is true also for those of us incarcerated because ostensibly, there was something which led us down the wrong path. For our own personal reasons, we traveled the road alone. We veered off. Took a wrong turn. And although some of us have a family riding along with us on our journeys, the path that leads us home, is the one we must travel alone. Again. But how can people walk, how can they travel if they feel that they will never reach their destination? They are weary. Battered by the winds of life with no strength or motivation to go on. All hope is lost. The strong currents have dried up the tears on their cheeks and their hearts have become hardened. Some. Living in a climate where the rain is relentless and torrential, it seems as if it will pour forever. But the sun will shine again if you allow it! Sometimes in life you must weather the storm to get to the sunshine! The problem is the size and obscurity of the cloud hanging over the state of Virginia. It is vast! It is ever looming producing nothing except downcast days. Many have been in search of the sunlight for years. Their faces have been turned upward toward the sky in hopes of basking in the sunlight. But haplessly, all that has fallen on their faces is the rain. The rain which is mixed with tears; the difference, indistinguishable. To me, it seems as if the state of Virginia has a climate all its own. Dreary. Depressing. Cold. Windy. I say windy because our lives are tossed about like colorful fall leaves once we make one mistake and become classified as criminals. I say windy also because depending on the velocity and the direction in which the wind blows, the temperaments and decisions of those placed in charge of our futures, our lives, can change quickly. What happens when you shopped at a grocery store alongside a presiding judge as an upstanding member of society and he smiled and asked you how your day was going? Then what happened if maybe, to feed your children, you had to steal from that very same grocery store and eventually had to be judged and prosecuted for your crime? If encountered in the courtroom by that same judge, do you think he would still smile and ask how your day was? Or peer down his nose at you and tell you exactly how you will spend your days? I go for the latter. Just another reason so many lose hope in this state. So easy to lose; but so hard to get back. The question is how? What if they removed their foot from our chests like it is blatantly and proudly showcased on the state seal, and allowed us to breathe again? Would that help? I think so!" Written by Chanell Burnette

Author: Burnette, Chanell

Author Location: Virginia

Date: May 23, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 8 pages

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