I’ve spent 24 of my 45 years of life in prison. Its tough for me to have to tell this story but i have hopes of helping someone else who may be out there struggling with depression or drug addiction.
I was 13 when i started smoking weed. I got high with some fellas i began running around with after my family moved from the wooded area of Ft. Lewis, Washington and into the suburbs of, Tacoma. I delinquency on my removal from the forests i grew up playing in. The city was a new terrain for me and i adopted the pastimes of the kids i hung with; shoplifting, smoking, burglary, and video games.
My parents were both successful in their careers. My father was a chief warrant officer in the Army and my mother was into real estate, insurance sales, and professional belly dancing. As a result of my mother’s passion for belly dancing my parents purchased a beads and crafts store. The store didn’t do so well. My mother thought her dance community and her contacts would equate to prosperity. When my parent’s savings started burning up, their marriage suffered.
I was a full-fledged weedhead during the deterioration of my parent’s relationship. I got the early warning of possible divorce from my mother. I never got to spend much quality time with her so when she asked me to go to a local festival with her i jumped at the chance. Little did i know that she was breaking the news of a possible split.
I went back to business as usual- smoking weed- after my mother put me on notice. I’d just started my sophomore year of high school so i was pretty distracted. I didn’t want to consider the living arrangements that might have come from the split.
I made a friend at school, Mike, and we hit it off over our love of videogames and weed smoking. I received permission for him to spend the night one evening and we went to a local arcade and did our thing. That evening we came back to my house and went to sleep. About 2:00am i got startled awake by the sound of breaking glass. I woke Mike up and grabbed the two bb-guns that were in my closet and started to go find the source. My room was downstairs so we made our way up.
We came upstairs to find a disaster. My parents had been fighting. My father staggered into our arms and we saw where he’d been shot in the stomach. I went and called 911 before going to check on my mother. I wasn’t prepared for what i found. She was laying in the bathtub of their bedroom bathroom and she was covered in blood and staring at the wall. It was like a horror movie only it was real. I felt something indescribable surge through my body. The rush of my emotions was terrifying. It scared me so bad i couldn’t immediately cry. I was numb.
Madness insued in the days that followed. My extended family fragmented. My father was charged with murder but had those charges reduced to manslaughter after ballistics proved he was shot first. I can’t remember the year that followed, i was still in shock. I managed to continue school though.
I spent my junior year of high school in L.A. where i tried cocaine for the first time. I came back to Washington for my sr. year and graduated , miraculously, on time. I inherited $45,000 and went into full party mode.
When i found myself out of money i joined the Marines. I went to bootcamp and was there until my platoon was set to go to the field for our final phase of training. It was discovered that i lied on my drug waiver form and i was discharged.
I came back to Washington depressed and in full addict mode. I caught my first felony for a drug robbery. I followed that up with an attempt at rehab. I was good for about 11 months before getting locked up for gun possession. I was out 4 months before i got 14 years for a robbery. I did 10 years and convinced myself that i was o.k. I got out in December, 2002 and tried to make a life for myself. When i struggled with the work i was doing and my ability to care for myself i panicked. It wasn’t long before i went back to drugs and alcohol to ease my pains. This decision nearly got me a life sentence for the unplanned robbery i committed in my frustration over the state of my life.
The choice i made as a kid, to smoke weed and party, left me vulnerable to the mess you see that i’ve made of my life. I refused to look at the truth in front of me and tried to fight blindfolded.
I’ve used my time wisely, i really tore myself apart and faced my demons. I was an emotional wreck and lacked purpose, guidance, and ambition. I have since went on to participate in programs to help at risk youth, i’ve developed skills that i hope to translate into opportunities, and most importantly i’ve re-dedicated my life to Christ. I live an accountable life. I have 8 years left but i’m full of optimism because of where i’ve come from. I’m in outstanding shape spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally. I hope to set a positive example to others by rising from this journey a stronger man.
I hope to write about many topics that i find relevant like; relationships, justice, family, God, and manhood.
Adolphus E. Redding