BY HEATHER STOKES: For Complete Post, Click Here…

At twenty-nine, I found myself sitting in a therapist office, six months away from the end of my court-ordered parole. Six months after the end of a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence I served for larceny and embezzlement. This was my third visit with Kali, a blond-haired, blue-eyed recent graduate with rail-thin lips that she constantly slathered in Chapstick during our sessions. I sat across from her desk in an uncomfortable wooden chair, my legs spread slightly open, unable to cross due to the girth of my thighs. The sixty pounds that I’d shed in prison had already begun to creep back on, settling at my waist, legs, and arms, reminding me that my body was trauma’s home. The afternoon sun danced on her desk, diverting my attention from her latest inquisition.

Her pause snapped me back into the conversation. I disinterestedly responded, “I’m sorry, can you ask the question again?”

“What do you feel addiction has stolen from you?”

I knew that she was more than likely referring to my own addictions, but I did not want to talk about those. Instead, I went back in time, back to a time before I knew that substances and people were not meant to be abused. The many years my uncle, brother, and father spent in and out of prison, leaving my mother and I alone—years that robbed me of having a father, of having a stable male presence in our family. Years that morphed into the “I’ll just do it myself” attitude that haunts my relationships to this day. I thought about the shame I felt as I walked past the neighborhood bodega, eyes fixed to the ground, to avoid making eye contact with my brother who stood outside, shaking in the middle of three-day crack cocaine binge.

These were the silent losses.

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