by Michael Mackey
Detention has affected my relationship with my family by me not being there! Watching them grow up, my son is wondering where has his father gone and is acting out because I’m not around to teach him right from wrong. It’s hard on his mother, Lakisha, raising a child by herself with little support from family and me, the father of her son, Daziri.
I didn’t speak to my son or his mother for about seven and a half years because frustration and detention affected her, and I made her angry for many reasons. She tried to forget about me and move on, which was her way of trying to move forward. That didn’t work at all. It only made things worse between us, but now I’ve found them again. I didn’t call as much. They don’t visit me as much, well, at all. We are working on that now though.
If I could speak with my family members what would I say? Well, I am speaking with them now and I’ve said a lot to the ones that I’m speaking with. I’ve also forgiven and let go of a lot of anger that I held toward them. What I spoke with them about was the past, what caused our separation, and what events took place! Why didn’t our family try to fix our family problems? Why didn’t they try to come together and get us back from the foster system? After that was somewhat out of the way, we joked and out right laughed with one another. I shared with them my new family members, well tried to, my children. I used to envision my relationship with my family as all being together, which is not the case.
What I wanted for many, many years has actually come true, but I don’t feel the same toward them as I did when I was little. I looked at it like this…what I wanted most was family, then I learned how to live without family and mind my own. Now that my family is back in my life again, they are strangers to me. I feel more like family with those who are not my family but who I grew up with. My actual family, it’s true, we are working on repairing that relationship. That’s just how my cards were dealt to me and I made the best with what I was dealt. Upon my returning home, I plan to continue to live a good life, learn, live and teach others in need, build something in life that’s good and not destroy things or people around me.
My life started out pretty normal, with a loving family, a twin sister, two younger brothers, Mom, Dad, and the rest of my family being a Christian family. It was good. We were very outgoing kids, especially me. Natural boy, always into animals, drawing, loving life, and had an unquenchable curiosity for all things.
First Big Change
My first big change happened when I was six years old, watching Mom and Dad fuss and fight over life, not fully understanding what was going on or how to help and make things better. When my father went to jail for unknown reasons, my mother was left with four kids to take care of, which was a really hard thing to do by herself. Our family helped out, but they were on some selfish shhh, always saying, “that’s not my responsibility, y’all, not my responsibility.”
So when my mom used to go to work, she asked me to be the mom of the house and look after my sister and brothers. I agreed and did just that. This went on for about a year. Then something happened with our family, a big fight. My mom was out from our family like she was nothing. She was already stressed and dealing with a lot and now she was without family support and that made things worse. My mom started doing drugs to escape the mental pain she was dealing with daily. It got so bad that one day she asked me to whoop her with a belt if I caught her doing drugs. I agreed, but was confused by what she was asking me to do.
My childhood was slipping away, but the love for my family grew stronger. I was actually doing grown up things, and had grown up responsibility as a child. So, that which made me special, that which made me use my mind and do better was put into overdrive. I knew I had to do better at all times with all that I was doing. I used to whip my mother when I caught her doing drugs.
As time went on my grandmother got word on what was going on and decided to help my mother by having us all come and stay with her at her home, which was good. (I thought it was). It started out good, but that was the beginning of the end. I didn’t know anything about the problem with my mother and her three older sisters, who thought that they were better than my mother. I didn’t pick up on that until I listened to them speak badly to my mother, and their mother, my grandmother. So my aunties took it upon themselves to call CPS on my mother and my grandmother. I was seven years old at the time and I remember that day more clearly than any other memory in my brain. On life’s events, that traumatized me in a way that I didn’t recognize. I still had my twin sister and two younger brothers with me and I was super overprotective over them, they were my responsibility, remember.
My downward spiral started when I got taken away from my family, no doubt. When my dad got out of jail and found out what had happened. He found us and came to my school one day. I told him where we were staying and later that night he came and took us all away, out the window we went. This happened a few times and each time they locked my dad up, over and over, until the Foster System didn’t even tell our family where we were. That drove my father and mother crazy and us also.
I didn’t listen to any foster parents at all! They were not our family, so I was always taught not to listen to those who were not your family. Strangers.
I became rebellious and I didn’t like talking to anyone who were not my family, which was nothing to me, because I was always the quiet type. Two years later the Foster System came to the conclusion to separate me from my twin sister and two younger brothers, which added to my downward spiral. The Foster System thought that this was best for us, without even taking the time to get to know us, to understand why I, we, were so rebellious toward others. Now, being by myself increased my anger in people. I couldn’t feel that longing for a family to feel complete again. Then there were those in the Foster System who I took a liking to and who took a liking to me. They saw something in me that was unusual and special. Some would say I was ahead of my time, and I loved learning new things, watching people’s actions to understand why this happened, and learn from it. I loved school work because my grandmother and parents told me education was highly important in order to be better and do better in life. I always held onto that, always.
My Lowest Point
My lowest point was when I ran away from the Foster System at the age of thirteen and was lying on the streets, homeless, sticking with friends for a short time, and not telling them what I was going through, not even my friends. My friends thought I was the happiest person in the world all because I fought back tears, but I couldn’t hide my scars from myself. Even once in a while they would catch me in a moment, zoning out, deep in thought, in a place they couldn’t imagine being in, and wouldn’t know how to deal with if they were.
I had to survive. I started selling drugs. I never used them because drugs are what destroyed my family and jealousy. I never had a thing for drugs, my thing was alcohol and cigarettes only.
At fourteen I had a child (a baby girl) and that in a way changed me that I didn’t expect it to. I was a father and I didn’t want to do what my family did to us, to her. That was it. I had to choose, her or the streets. I chose her.
My Turn Around
She was my turn around point. It was ripping me apart inside. Knowing that I had a child, a girl, at that. All I could do was think about that all day long, putting myself in her shoes and living my life all over again. I was going through the same thing, or she was going through what I went through. That right there was absolutely not going to happen. This overwhelming mental and spiritual force took over me and I knew what I had to do and I didn’t look back.
That night I went to my friend’s house with his family (there). His mother was a Jehovah Witness, a sweet, nice lady and I vented to her. That night, in her room, she knew something was wrong with me so she said that she wanted to speak with me in her room, one on one. I told her my story, what I was going through and what I went through. She cried right there with me and took me in, along with my daughter. She already had four kids of her own, with her.
Now, that was a curse and a gift or blessing at the same time because years later me and my friend, her son, fell out, because I was helping his mother pay her bills and she was helping me become a better young man and father to my daughter. The attention that she was giving me and her oldest daughter, made my friend jealous of us.
When I saved up enough money and was able to buy my own apartment, I did just that. I kept a job and went to adult school at nights. Being a single parent and all, yeah, my baby’s mother, Janie, dropped my daughter off on me when I was seventeen and my daughter was three years old and barely came around.
My upward climb was already in motion from my turn around point, and it only gets better. As a teen I was working at the Chevron Refinery in Richmond, making a lot of money, saving a lot of money. I moved to Vallejo California with my daughter and met a woman by the name of Lakeisha who later on I started dating and had a son with. Life was going great for us all, my girlfriend and I were going strong for a few years then one day after I get off work I received a call from my friend. My stepmother’s son who was in Vallejo at the Amusement Park Six Flags. He was beaten up by two dudes. He wanted me to come and pick him up. I agreed. It was just a pick up. I didn’t think that anything would go wrong, but my girl Lakeisha told me she had a funny feeling and that I shouldn’t go and pick him up at all. I didn’t listen because I didn’t think nothing was going to happen, so I left.
When I got to the parking lot I got out, saw him, and we were walking back to my car. The dudes that beat him up (returned) and were coming up to us so I turned around and said if it’s a fight y’all want then let’s get it on and over with. We fought. I won and we continued to walk to my car. They came back shooting at us and we hid behind cars. My friend had a gun at the time. He’s always been one of them dudes who wants to be down but not all the way down. So I took his gun out of anger of being shot at and being scared, or in fear and shot both dudes in the shoulders. One died and the other didn’t. The crowd took their shoes, rings, chains, clothing, and we got out of there.
I dropped him off at home and said don’t speak about what took place to nobody. I got rid of the gun and went home. He later told his sister who told his mother who called the police on her son. But she didn’t know that I was involved at the time. By the time she found out the whole story it was too late. We both were arrested and my so called friend worked with the DA to convict me of felony murder, attempted murder, two counts of robbery, and a lot of enhancements which totaled up to 75 years to life for me with no criminal history, no nothing. My life was over with. My baby’s mother took off without a trace after being there for me for about three and a half years. It was ugly for me all around the board, but it’s not over for me, not just yet…
I’m much better than I ever was mentally, and more focused on me and where I want to be in life. I’m still going to become a father. A good father to my children and other children who need it. I’m not going to stop helping those in need, that’s just who I am, and whenever I get out of prison I’m going to put in motion many positive things. I’m involved in many groups “Free to Succeed,” “Kid CAT” art school, and I’m still working as well, because all things start with yourself first, then you can help someone else in a good way next.