When Life in Prison is Better Than Your Childhood
From Nickolas Laumann of Prison Writers
This piece comes via Prison Writers, which gives a voice to the incarcerated. Learn more and support their mission at prisonwriters.com.
By Nickolas Laumann
I was never able to trust anyone in my entire life, family, so-called friends, teachers, authority figures, whoever they were. I couldn’t trust anyone due to the upbringing I had. This is one reason I never had a best friend. I had tons of people around me all the time. All these people were only around due to any number of benefits that surrounded me.
My parent’s house was the party house and my brother was a drug dealer, who I always stole drugs from. People hung around because it was free to get high. There were many people who just stole from my house, or used me and my family. We all know these types of people, so-called friends who smile in your face, talk behind your back and use you for everything you have to offer.
My parents always lied to me. They never once trusted me with any responsibility. Instead of being role models, they threw money at me instead of love and affection. I always had cash for partying, drinking, drugs, shopping, whatever it may be. Every teacher I had pushed me through the classes to get rid of me because I was a difficult student to have around. I was always acting out and not having the common sense to behave. I feel like I was never given the chance to be an adult.
My family’s home was destroyed in a police raid, it always seemed like the police were terrorizing my family. Every single person I hung around with was not allowed to have me over. Their parents disliked me and made many disheartening statements about me. Statements like “that kid is nothing but trouble” brought about feelings of abandonment. All these are reasons why I could never trust anyone, even my girlfriends I couldn’t trust. I always thought they stole from me, cheated on me, or just used me to pass the time. It could have been the drug use creating the many paranoid disillusions. It could have been the fact that I was always using them, or cheating on them, and justifying what I did to them by thinking they were doing it to me. It could have been that I thought they were going to do it to me so why not do it to them first. Or, my mind could have just been [messed] up from the beginning.
When I arrived in prison, all those tormenting thoughts of paranoia were paramount in my daily life. I could never get really close to anyone in here. After 12 years of being in prison, being shipped around, sent to segregation time after time, I landed in a medium security facility. Soon after, my mother took her life, this was around the time that I started to change mine. I searched for truth in the Bible and actually took the time to control the paranoia and disillusions.
That’s when I came across this guy named Mitch in the intake pod of the medium camp. It started out as admiration, the guy looked solid, worked out, trimmed up, women thought he was handsome, and he had an air of smoothness to him. I watched him for a few days, saw he liked to play dominos and asked him to play. I wanted to be cool with him. We played for hours every day in the sunshine, getting to know each other. My admiration for him elevated as I learned more about him. Dude had a life I could idolize, he had a super cool family, friends, and if it wasn’t for heroin his life would be amazing.
We wound up splitting up after the intake pod. Mitch went to one unit and I went to another. Fate gravitated us once again, on the same wing of the same unit. We both had decent cell mates, but mine was getting ready to leave for minimum, so I asked Mitch to move in and he did. Oh my LORD, for the next three years I never laughed so hard and I never imagined having him as a best friend. He was someone I would literally lay down my life for.
I told Mitch repeatedly I would take the rest of his time and add it to mine to let him go home. I didn’t have much left to go home to, but Mitch had so much going for him. I never thought while I was in prison I would find my best friend, the kid was there for me. On the anniversary of my mother’s death, he was mental and moral support. He was always talking me down from fighting with idiots when my mouth would run off like crazy. He helped me get on track with good jobs and let me know who else to trust here. I’ve told him secrets I swore I would take to the grave. That’s how much I trusted this dude. We ate together, worked out together, and got baptized together. We shared many memorable moments of hilarity together. I saw him get electrocuted for [messing] around with a light switch, saw him break a master lock in half, watched him land on his head while doing a back flip in the cell. So many crazy memorable things that I would take to the grave and am so grateful to have experienced.
Having him in my life here in prison brought so much comfort, relief, enjoyment and calmness. Going through prison, you’re not able to be open with people or speak your mind. You can’t share your highs and lows and that creates a mental prison as well. Not only are you physically locked up, you’re mentally barred from happiness.
Finding Mitch during gave me hope and faith in a future. He convinced me to not revoke myself and just stay in prison for the entire duration of my probation because there wasn’t anything for me to go home to. I literally lost every single person in my life from before prison. I only had my father left in my life, and he’s a major a--hole to me. He sees me as some obligation he has to meet. I never had a person in my life that I could say honestly loved me. So having Mitch there in that moment of life, gave me a desire to do good and stay out of trouble. Because of him, I wanted to achieve greatness and make something of my life. I wanted to live well, even if it wasn’t for myself, it was for his admiration. This was my homie and whatever I could do to make him happy, I would do.
Trusting in someone is a gift that God has blessed us with. Just picture going through life and not having one person to trust. That means having no one to confide in, no one to share the joys of life with, or go to for any number of instances. I never imagined I would find this while in prison. I am so thankful to the courts for sending me here, to meet someone like him. The whole first 12 years of my sentence was the most painful time of my life. I resorted back to drug use more than ever, and came to the realization of who were really friends and who were just using me.
Picture getting locked up and thinking you have all these people to support you, then finding out that every single one of them felt elation knowing you were finally off the streets. That brings terrorizing thoughts of what was my life about, and that’s horrible. Was I really the monster they spoke of? It was all an omen that brought so much regret to my life. I can honestly say the best times of my life so far have been here in prison, with the person I can finally call my best friend.
The dread, the terrible thoughts, and the feelings of self loathing all vanished. Gone with the wind. Now, I sit back here at the medium camp alone because Mitch went on to a minimum. The hope I have, is that someday once I am out, I will be able to kick it with him once again. Something promising to look forward to, and a shining light at the end of this dark time in prison. In retrospect, it’s no longer a dark time, just a few clouds that will pass and lead to days full of bliss and happiness.
Thank you for reading this over and I hope that you have the chance in your life to find that special friend who you can honestly trust with the deepest parts of your life. I love this platform and hope it brings hope to many others out there. People don’t really know the true mental tortures come along with imprisonment. Yet at some points, while enduring the most pain, beauty can also be found.
Nickolas Laumann is serving time in Wisconsin.