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My Prison Identity

TheLastMileBy Chris Schuhmacher

San Quentin State Prison

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I believe that being in prison has definitely become part of my identity. Not in the stereotypical fashion that would leave me cold, hardened, and covered with tattoos, but in the way I’ve worked to transform my life over the past 14 years. Before coming to prison, my life was on a hell-bent path of debauchery and destruction. I did everything in my power to make sure that the party never had to end. I somehow thought that if I could escape into a world of alcohol and drugs that I could avoid my feelings of being lost, lonely, and insecure.

My fatal mistake was in not realizing that by disconnecting from emotions, I was actually lighting the fuse to a bomb that would eventually explode and cause catastrophic results. I am saddened by the tragic irony that it took coming to prison for murder to wake up to just how far off the path of living like a healthy human being my life had gone. I was guilt-ridden and ashamed of who I had become and made the conscious decision to turn around and begin the journey back to my authentic self.

For me, there is no doubt that coming to prison saved my life. It separated me from the reckless and chaotic world that I had created for myself. It allowed me the time and the space to rediscover how to live with a clean body and a sober mind. It has given me the opportunity to analyze and evaluate the morals and ideals that had brought me to this point and reconnect with the emotions that I tried so hard to run from. These have been extremely hard lessons to learn in what is a harsh and depressing environment, but this experience has been vital in shaping the way I think and believe.

In this day and age, it seems virtually impossible to hide the fact that I’ve been to prison. That is why I’m so thankful to The Last Mile for providing the opportunity to be open and honest about my past, while at the same time giving me the chance to show who I’ve become. The transformation that has taken place in my life is nothing short of a miracle from God. As I go forward,I plan to continue to embrace my identity as someone who understands and appreciates the power of change.

I know that it is my responsibility to pay these gifts forward by passing my knowledge and experience onto others. My ultimate goal is to become a health and fitness expert with an emphasis on treating and preventing substance abuse and addiction. If my life can be used to enhance the lives of others, then prison or not, this is an identity I can be proud of.

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All communications between inmates and external channels are facilitated by approved volunteers since inmates do not have access to the internet. This program is part of The Last Mile San Quentin. Twitter: @TLM

  • debs

    Wow, congrats on turning your life around! You will no doubt be a shining example for change, and an inspiration to all! Thank you for sharing…I wish you the best ;0)

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for sharing, Debs! -TDL Team

  • jimmy

    Thanks for sharing Chris

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for reading, Jimmy! We appreciate it. -TDL Team

  • Kim

    Thank you Chris for sharing your story with us. My wish for you is to remain soft, pliable, always growing and learning and transforming. Allowing God to renew your mind daily, so that you become the man He designed you to be. Be well.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for commenting, Kim, and for your well wishes towards Chris. Have a great weekend! -TDL Team

  • Leslie

    Hi, Chris!
    Thank you for the courage to share this most intimate part of yourself. I remember how impressed I was the very first time I met you at TLM and had the opportunity to hear your abbreviated business proposal. I thought “WOW! That’s great!”

    Also, I cannot express enough how much it means to me to be able to see you, and the other men in prison, turn your lives around, and to use your God-given talents
    to the betterment and benefit of yourself and others. We all make mistakes in
    life…some worse than others. But, I truly believe in redemption and
    that our lives are meaningful and important; especially when we are
    willing to align our lives to God’s purposes for them. And, I don’t mean
    that in a religious way necessarily. Just the same, God can use each and every
    one of us for His purposes however small or grand (as we see things).

    Health via good nutrition and exercise (i.e., leading a clean healthy lifestyle) is so vitally important as it directly affects our moods and mental states, not to mention longevity and freedom from disease. By venturing into and dedicating your life to helping others in this manner is to be strongly commended. So, Bravo, Chris! And, as Tim recently wrote…continue to hope, to bless and be blessed!
    Happy New Year!
    Leslie

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful and loving words towards Chris! Have a great weekend :) -TDL Team

  • Heracio

    Thanks for sharing. You provide an excellent example of the transformation men and women can make while incarcerated.

    • The Daily Love

      He’s definitely an excellent example, Heracio… Thanks for sharing your kind words with us. -TDL Team

  • Guest

    Congratulations on becoming a health and fitness expert to serve others. Yes, there are miracles and this will come to fruition! I am very proud of you.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for reading and sharing! -TDL Team

  • TKC

    Very proud of your transformative words. Indeed, your identity and purpose is a powerful one strengthened by your journey. You’re going to be than alright, brother.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for sharing, TKC… Chris has made us all proud for sure! -TDL Team

  • Vanessa

    It is wonderful that you would like to use your experience to help others. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Daily Love

      Thanks for reading, Vanessa! Have a great weekend :) -TDL Team

  • Carp

    We are all proud of you, Chris. You have evolved as a human being. Where you did it, is not important. The fact that you have reached this place in life is what truly matters and the fact that others may benefit in the future is your gift to society. Bravo.

    • The Daily Love

      He’s a wonderful example of how we can rise above our circumstances to do great things. Thanks for reading and sharing! -TDL Team

  • Marc Roth

    I often think of life as being like steering a big ship. With all the majesty and potential that comes with it, so does the sometimes difficult task of making sure we guide ourselves in the right direction being ever mindful of the costs of crashing into other lives. Learning is great, sharing what you’ve learned is even better. Thanks for sharing Chris.