You know something, prison is a strange island. But, human behavior is easily observed in its entirety here. Power and control dynamics on display for all to see. The effects of subjugation, mental health, and trauma all clearly visible in one small location. Some would say it’s the worst of the human condition that manifests itself on this island.

I wonder sometimes what I’ll think about myself once I’m free, off the island so to speak, back on land. What will I think about the things I’ve done, the people I lived with? I’ve done things in prison that the sole purpose for doing them was just to prove I could. Hardly justification, but there you have it in its rawest form, ego. Some things I can talk about, some I can’t or won’t and some I simply don’t know where I’d even begin. Kind of like Tom Hanks in Castaways, how do you explain your best friend was a volleyball and even more awkward- how do you explain why you mourned the loss? There’s a million little nuanced adaptations that I wear on my skin like a million little scars. Explanation can get exhausting, particularly when the explanation will only serve to remind everyone that I was just on an island.

I say all this because there are secrets about this place that sit inside my bosom like a burning coal. Not the illegal nefarious secrets that one thinks about in association with Hollywood versions of prison, but the kind of secrets that you know would implode the very building the protects you from the elements. Like you building a small shack on an island all by yourself and you know each and every weakness in its structure and you don’t dare tell the elements lest they exploit the faults. How incredibly normal it is to have faults, no?

My secrets are not my own. Like a prostitute just doing her job, her secrets are not her own.

With Love
Ruth Utnage