Welcome Home: To Be Sorry & Shook

Welcome Home: To Be Sorry & Shook

“That was the scariest $#!+ I ever done.”

His hands were shaking as he thought about what he had just done. These were normally steady hands; hands that knew how to grip a knife. These were hands that never shook when they held a gun. But they shook now.  

“That was the scariest $#!+ I ever done.”

Scary. His face had looked danger in the eye. He needed no street credibility check, but this was scary.  Looking into the face of the mother of the child he had assaulted was terrifying, but he knew it was time to man up and take responsibility for what he had done. Saying “I’m sorry”? Showing remorse? Scary $#!+.

The boy’s mother had said of him, “I hate his guts for what he did.  If he were standing in front of me, I would have no trouble getting my machete (not ‘a’ machete” but ‘my machete’), hacking him to pieces, burying them under my cellar, and sleeping that night, peacefully, for the first time since he attacked my son.”

But in the same breath, that mother wanted peace on the streets, and knowing that the young man whose hands would shake had a three-year bid–knowing he would be back on the streets sooner rather than later–she chose to agree to have him put in a program where he had the potential to change. She wanted him to man up, take responsibility, become a contributor to society, and drop the menace label.

Scary $#!+. Manning up? Scary.

At some point, we all have to do it. Whatever we have done to get us in the system (whether it was a crime we committed, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time), at some point we have to man up, woman up, grow up, and accept responsibility.  It’s scary. It means looking at our own actions, yes, but also the attitudes behind the actions. That’s what my man had to do to get to the place where he made his scary admission.  He had to say, “I’m sorry for what I did.”

In the documentary The Interrupters, outreach worker Cobe Williams takes a young man who gets out of jail to visit the barber shop he robbed.  He announces his apology to barbers, to patrons–some mothers who had young children with them–who sat terrified in that same shop the day he and his boys burst in with guns drawn. Plenty of tears to go around that day…but it had to be done. Dude had to man up and really mean it when he said he was sorry. Scary.  Later in the movie, he gets a job as a janitor for a daycare center. He went from terrorizing kids to making life better for them.

Looking within ourselves is scary.  Especially when we know we’ll find something we don’t like.  Especially when we will be confronted with the violence that has been done against us, leaving us hurt and bitter, and ready to inflict some pain on others.  Sometimes we have bought into the notion that we are serial menaces, animals with no regard for others, but a real review of the past reveals that we have been victims, far more so than many others. Yes, we have done some things that got us in the system.  But things had been done to us that hurt us first…and the unresolved pain turned on us. Hurt people hurt people. We were and we did.

So dude with the shaky hands got help. He got in a program that would help him heal from his own pain. He got with some people who would understand his inner turmoil, and turn it inside out.  He needed to know that the real feelings didn’t make him a punk, but that dealing with them would make him a man. Change is scary, but he found a place and some people who could look at his shaking hand, and not reject him, listen to his trembling voice and not mock him, watch his eyes well up with tears and not call him soft.  Nobody who’s soft could face his victims’ moms like he did. In that scary place, he found he could be part of that mother’s healing.  When he gets through this scary $#!+, she won’t need a machete, and the system won’t need a bed for him.  He manned up and grew up. And his change will be an investment in the change in his community.

To read other “Welcome Home” messages from Dr. Trulear, click here.


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