The Hole In My Chest - Daily Love with Mastin Kipp

The Hole In My Chest

tlm icon-1By Harry Hemphill

San Quentin State Prison


One of the most difficult issues I’ve had to overcome while being incarcerated, has been the overwhelming feeling of abandonment and loss. I once knew the contentment and happiness found in the comfort of a stable home; the devotion of a loving wife, the admiration of children, and the accolades that come with excelling in business endeavors. To have that fairy tale life shattered and replaced by a dark and lonely abyss called prison, changes ones outlook on life forever.

It created a vacuum in my life, an emptiness that demanded to be filled. Initially, it was easy to occupy that space, with rage and anger. I was content blaming others for my actions, and targeting those I perceived to have plotted against me. However, after years of attempting to fill that void with every ugliness associated with rage, I still found myself yearning to have that hole inside of my chest closed. I sought help through counseling, and self-help groups, I grew weary and frustrated at the typical text book cliches “You have to forgive yourself ‘, “In time the anger will dissipate”, ” You have to let go and let God”, “You’ll grow from this experience and be a better man on the other side”. The only thing I was growing was more and more angry.

Recommitting myself back to a spiritual foundation has helped me in many areas of life, but my path to filling that void was still opaque.

Then, one day after spending an hour in prayer and meditation, I had an epiphany. You see, for most of my life, my happiness was always based on the acceptance and approval of others, wanting the attention and praise from parents, seeking comfort and approval in the arms of a woman, the respect and dependence from children, employers, and friends.

Somehow I never learned that I was responsible for my own happiness.

With my happiness dependent upon a woman, job, money, or my friends, I was damned to always be controlled by others. The reality is that sometimes people abandon you, jobs are lost, and money may run out. I was in a constant state of instability and insecurity.

Today the emptiness I felt inside, is being filled by the what already dwells inside of me. I have found peace, love and joy that is not dependent upon others but my reliance on self and dependence on God.

I no longer need the attention of others to be happy, but rejoice in the freedom of simply being happy within myself(Tweet-worthy!)


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