This is final piece of the three-part series on my 25-year-old son’s journey.
Like many incarcerated individuals, he’s a victim – having experienced severe neglect as a baby, intense physical and emotional abuse before the age of eight and possible alcohol exposure in utero.
When adopting him and his younger brother at ages ten and nine, I suspected challenges in parenting them. But a prison sentence wasn’t on my radar.
Here are the links to Part One and Part Two.
At the time of my last letter, I was overwhelmed with despair and anger…
Then one day I was changing radio stations and came across the song “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott. Although wretchedness had long engulfed me, love finally broke through and entered my heart. I felt sorrow for my disobedience. I felt ashamed for my sins. As tears ran down my face, I stood in sharp contrast to the indifference of my past…
I had let my pride harden my heart.
I had let fear take away my trust of everyone and everything that I always dismissed as ridiculous…
But none of my attitudinal changes came immediately. It has been a continuous process of sanctification.
Through the spirit of a greater power, I am gaining the inner strength to stop sinning – and hoping that sin becomes increasingly repulsive to me…
For my entire life, I remember feeling sad and lonely and angry and bitter. But now I feel peace more and more each day. I feel light and love flowing through me….
What a wonderful gift…
Maintaining Faith, Changing Mindset
The new challenge for my son will be maintaining faith. Over the past 15 years, a half dozen “moments of instant transformation” took place – only to be forgotten when they counted the most. Two steps forward, two steps back.
I desperately need fellowship with my fellow believers. If you are aware of anyone what would be willing to encourage me and help mentor me, please tell them my story.
I love you, Father. It’s been a lonely, rough road but I know that you always kept me in your heart…
Unfortunately, old habits remain under the skin. In transitioning to a state prison, the chaos immediately triggered my son’s past trauma. Like so many times in the past, he didn’t feel safe. In turn, he felt compelled to defend himself. And he did.
I’m coming up on my last month of disciplinary segregation. I’m a little nervous since I’m attempting to live in a manner unfamiliar to me, especially in this environment. Yet I’ve resolved to maintain an attitude of humility and non-violence. This is extremely intimidating because I feel vulnerable to degradation.
“My entire personality is trained to attack and subdue whatever I perceive as threatening.”
My entire personality is trained to attack and subdue whatever I perceive as threatening. Not just physical threats but threats to my way of thinking, my reputation or my self-esteem however scared it might be…
And I continue to struggle with negative thoughts and violent fantasies. Your mind fights them like a bucking bronco when you try to tame it. However, I have faith that – with persistence and endurance – I’ll overcome.
Removing Additional Layers
Similar to young adults with a history of early trauma, my son obsesses about love. Until he learns to love himself first, the cycle of negative, unsustainable relationships will never end. And on the rebound, he will make additional poor choices.
Lust is an ongoing issue. Since my first encounter at 19, sexual immaturity has wrapped an iron first around me. Turns out lust and impulse control are intimately connected. I don’t know how to win nor make someone love me. Even when shaking lust off, it sneaks up and overpowers me.
This is a difficult environment to attempt a radical personality shift. But I know if surrounded by the criminal element, I can maintain focus and succeed – then can do so in society as well…
My faith will be the foundation of my new life. I find peace in letting go and not trying to control the uncontrollable. Sometimes I just get really tired of fighting my mind and body and want to give up – but I feel so depressed and dirty when I do.
I hate this dark side of me. It seems so powerful.
To be continued in the future as the story unfolds. DCP
“I find peace in letting go and not trying to control the uncontrollable.”
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold