One year out of prison and it’s not been the year I imagined; still, I’m blessed

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Hello everyone. I must first apologize for my absence. I’ve been extremely busy handling medical issues, hunting for a vehicle (I just got my driver’s license!) and keeping the planets in orbit.

I’m near my one-year anniversary of being released from federal prison.  At times, I’ve been extremely frustrated…it hasn’t been an easy road. I used to sit back and daydream about this freedom, and how I would capitalize on it. The obstacles that I envisioned are real, but I’ve realized that rebuilding my life isn’t an overnight task. My first major family holiday is approaching, and after 7 years of missing Thanksgiving, here I am. I’m blown away at the feeling, and even as a writer, it’s hard to articulate sometimes. Christmas is right around the corner, and again, the feeling is surreal.

My accomplishments have been right on track with my gameplan. A successful transition from the Federal halfway house to an apartment. Steady income from a job where I just got a raise. An investment vehicle via day trading and eventually stocks, which is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my plans. I just received my driver’s license, and my hope is to be in a vehicle by the end of this month. I even became a registered voter and voted. Even yet, the most important part of this success is building a relationship with my daughter and her brothers. My daughter is slowly letting me in and I’ve remained patient throughout her skepticism and trepidation. The time put in, the gifts, the talks…it’s all starting to pay off. She still puts up a fight when I give her 7-year-old self a kiss. Oh well.

The biggest factor in my success is the support system that I have, and my hope is that people who are being released back into society have a similar support system. This is monumental in making the crossover into a pro-social and crime-free life. My brothers, Chris, Greg, Don. My children’s mother, Shauntē My counselor, Chuck Novak. Friends like Jimmy and K. All of these people play a part in my success. Although there are others, the aforementioned people are on the front line. Last but not least, Amelia, Tavon, and Tyrell. These kids and young men keep me honest and grounded. 

I’m blessed. 

Yet again, I remain realistic and prepared, because at any given time, things could fall apart. Covid seems to be back with a vengeance, and government assistance is beginning to exhaust. Nevertheless, It’s my duty to remain focused and creative in how I move forward.

I’m in the process of aligning myself with a group, Felon to Freeman, that focuses on helping people like myself. In the coming months, I will be giving more updates on this organization and my involvement.

So what am I doing for this first Thanksgiving in 7 years? Turkey, baked mac and cheese, collard greens and/or stir fried cabbage and veggies, cornbread stuffing and possibly a variety of cheesecakes. 

No drink, no smoke. I’m just happy to be here.

Anthony Payton is a freelance writer from Manchester. You can reach him here: