Learning To Let Go




Just the other day I walked into my cell after being out in the yard for two hours. The first thing I noticed was dirty socks thrown over an out-of-place pair of shoes.

After I ventured farther into my lavish 6’ by 10’ cell, I noticed dirty shorts and a dirty t-shirt piled in the corner.

This is a direct violation of the verbal agreement between my celly and I. Before I moved in, we had in-depth detailed conversations about how we like to live, and expectations we place on each other.

I specifically told him that I like all the shoes lined up neatly and facing the same direction. I also told him that I don’t like dirty laundry thrown on the floor.

Part of the deal was: He keeps his stuff neat and orderly. And in return, I won’t pull his hair, slap his face, pinch his cheeks, bite him, shove him under the bunk, or kick his ass!

Okay, granted. I wouldn’t do any of those things. Not anymore at least. But there was a time, not too long ago, when that’s exactly how I would deal with a messy celly.

As a matter of fact, the last incident of this nature occurred back in 2007. I didn’t handle it well at all. You can read about it in my ebook, Stone City: Life In The Penitentairy.

Here I am in 2015. I still face the same situations and challenges. Such as messy cellies.

I realize I’m somewhat of a perfectionist with OCD. So this current situation with my celly, is a perfect opportunity to replace old habits of “reaction” with new habits of perspective.

Rather than to respond with negativity, there is another way to relate to life. A softer, more loving, graceful path that makes life easier and the people in it more compatible.

By being a jackass perfectionist, my life was not full of inner peace. It was full of conflict! I was constantly engaged in a losing battle, with one celly after another…year after year.

Even when I had the occasional “good celly” (like I do now), I would focus on “whats wrong” (shoes outta line, messy shelves and desk, bed not made, etc) and my need to fix it. I was dissatisfied and discontent.

The very act of focusing on imperfections, pulls me away from my goal of being kind and gentle.

Until NOW!

Yes. When I walked in and saw my celly’s mess, it did trigger an old compulsive thought pattern. But I quickly recognized it. And I nipped it in the bud with love and understanding.

It took me all of 10 seconds to line up his shoes and place his dirty clothes in his out-going laundry bag.

When he came back to the cell, he immediately noticed. He thanked me. Then explained how he was in a hurry to get in the shower. I said, “Your welcome.” Then I reminded him of my OCD nature.

Our conversation was peaceful and friendly. I doubt he’ll do it again.

Moral: Make peace with imperfection. This works so much better than exploding with negativity.



Steven Jennings


Author: Steven & Suzie Jennings

She was raised as a Mormon, and he is a convict serving 43 years in prison. This blog offers a glimpse into two vastly different worlds that somehow came crashing together. Join them on their journey through prison life & married life.

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