Troy’s Times – December 2008

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Hi Friend!
Welcome to Troy’s free monthly electronic newsletter, developed for people interested in overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing oneself to realize their full potential.

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IN THIS ISSUE

“It is not important How we come to the events in our lives, but how we Deal with those events”- Troy
Feel free to forward this issue to friends, family and associates!

This Month’s Featured Article:

Letting Go of the Life Sentence

“We did what we knew. When we knew better, we did better.”
Maya Angelou

I mentioned before that, when I was released, it was under special circumstances. It was uncommon that I was to go to live with my parents. Since this option was not available, my parole officer was sent over to my parents’ house to assess the environment. He interrogated them, opened drawers, searched for firearms and treated them with a sense of overall disdain. After all, their son was a drug addict bank robber.
That was when my dad truly realized what it meant for me to be coming to his house. Up to that point, it had meant only excitement and celebration. I had been released five years early. His son who had turned his life around, earned two degrees, and kicked drugs for good was coming home. But, when they were held to the scrutiny of an officer of the court, it all came rushing home to him–the nights they spent worrying about me the last time I lived under their roof, the lying, the stealing, the heartache, the pain. He had let that happen under his roof once already and he’d be damned if it was going to let it happen again.
I had just had a conversation with my dad about how exciting my latest turn of events was, and next thing I knew, I was on the phone with him again, but this time he was lambasting me like I was still back in high school. He started laying down ground rules about curfews, respecting his house, staying away from drugs, getting a job, becoming a productive member of society. He had been fooled by me before and he wanted me to know that he wasn’t going to take any funny business this time.
Well, I hung up the phone and thought about it for a minute and for the first time since the news of my early release, I realized that being freed from prison did not mean that my sentence was over by any means. Then I thought about it for a few more minutes and I decided that I was not going to allow myself to be pigeonholed with my past for the rest of my life. I called him right back and told him that I was not a kid anymore. I was not going to be talked to like that. I felt that I had proved that I was a changed man and I was not going to idly sit by and let him talk to me as if there was no difference between the Troy Evans who entered prison and the Troy Evans who would be leaving it. If he had a problem with it, I’d find someplace else to go.
We got off the phone and a few days later, I received a letter from him. In it, he explained to me what I had done to him, my mother and my brother and sister. He told me about all of the years of hurt I had caused them, all of the tears they had cried, the number of times that they had blamed themselves, and the sorrow with which they had to let go of me when they knew I was on a path of destruction.
I read that letter over and over again and I realized that it was not up to me to determine when my sentence would be over. I had harmed many people in my life and until they chose to forgive me, I would not be released from my sentence. All I could do was wake up each day, committed to showing them through my actions that I was a changed man who might, someday, be worthy of their forgiveness, and in the meantime, not let it define who I was.
As if to punctuate that point, I was soon released and went to meet my first parole officer. My parents had warned me, but I was not prepared for that first encounter. He promptly informed me that he was looking to send me right back to prison. He said that he knew my kind and that if I so much as stepped one toe outside the line, he had absolutely no compunction about running me back in so fast my head would spin.
I told him that the most valuable thing to me in the world was my liberty and that he would have absolutely nothing to worry about from me. Over the next year, I set out to prove that statement to be nothing short of the absolute truth.
During that year, my dad was learning that he didn’t have anything to worry about either. I was the model prisoner / houseguest if not a little too intense about everything that I needed to accomplish. Our dinner table once again buzzed with the day’s recap, but it was still a bit strained. I found myself wondering if I would ever have a really good relationship with my father again.
In an effort to show him and my mother progress, I invited them both to one of the first speaking engagements that I landed in Phoenix. He and my mother sat in the audience and heard me tell my story. I led a room full of perfect strangers through my transformation from the perfect son into the monster who hurt everyone that he loved. I publicly acknowledged that I was the one responsible for the choices that I made in my life and I shared with them the pain that I would have to live with for the rest of my life for knowing what I had done to both those I loved and strangers alike.
At the end of the presentation, I went to ask my mom and dad what they thought and I found them with tears in their eyes. My dad gave me a hug and I knew instantly that as far as he was concerned, my sentence was over. He just needed to know that I understood his pain. Once he saw that he didn’t have to keep showing it to me, he was able to let it go. He was released from his own life sentence of pain and guilt and given back the son he loved so much.
That was the first day of a fantastic friendship that has blossomed between my dad and me. It was the first day that I knew that I was completely forgiven and the first day I knew that I had my dad back.
So, I won over my dad, who was essentially my warden in those days since I was living under his roof. I still had some work to do with my parole officer. Things had been getting better and better there as well. My PO soon found out that I was a cakewalk assignment. I was always where I told him that I would be, I never popped positive on my drug tests, and I was constantly employed. In fact, the only time I ever inconvenienced him was because I was becoming too successful. It didn’t take long before I was getting speaking engagements all over the country. As a condition of my parole, I could travel, but before I left the state I had to have permission forms signed by my PO.
There were times when my PO was out sick or on vacation and my forms sat on his desk while I frantically called his office. I needed to be on a plane and I didn’t have permission. They had rousted him out of bed, finagled co-workers’ or supervisors’ signatures, and done just about everything else that they could to help me make my trips. It was frenzied at times, but we had reached an understanding that was allowing me to pursue my dream of speaking.
I was just starting to settle into the routine when it was all turned upside down again. They were restructuring and I was being reassigned.
I couldn’t envision a worse problem. I had spent an entire year cracking this tough nut so that we had an extremely easy relationship. He knew he could count on me, and in return, I never had to worry about being turned down for one of my trips. I begged and pleaded for him to find a way to make an exception so he could remain my PO, but his hands were tied, and I was reassigned.
This was a wake up call to me. I was released in December of 1999 and given five years of supervised release. At this point, only one year had gone by and my case was being reassigned for the first time. I started to envision what it would be like if I had to win a new PO over every year in order to continue my work as a speaker. I shuddered to think that all it would take was one hard case to come in and, like the warden at FCI Florence, he or she could yank the entire rug from under my feet. There was nothing I could do but hope. I already knew that life wasn’t always fair. I decided that the only thing I could control was myself, so I resolved that I would just keep winning my new POs over until my five-year supervisory sentence was up.
My new PO was assigned to me just about the same time that I was moving into my first apartment. She was a nice lady, but she read me the riot act during our first meeting just as my first PO had. For the next few months, I continued my role as Troy Evans, superstar parolee in order to win her over. On the bright side, she caught on to me almost immediately. It wasn’t long after she took over my case that she told me that if I needed to travel and, for some reason, couldn’t get a hold of her, to just go. She trusted me and we would work it out when I returned.
This was new. My first PO and I had a good relationship, but here I had an officer of the court who was basically trained not to believe a word I said, actually going out of her way to be helpful. In fact, she was so confident in me once she got to know me that a year went by without us meeting once.
Then, on December of 2001, and she called me out of the blue. “Troy,” she said. “I need you to come in to the office.”

“What for?” I asked.

“I’d rather tell you in person,” she replied.

My face went white.
Let me give you a bit of history to explain my reaction. The only other time that I had been called into the PO office, I was sitting, waiting for my appointment on the bench outside of the office with another ex-con. We were chatting away about how we had been called in, when suddenly, two U.S. Marshalls came through the door, stood him up and told him that his parole had been violated and he was going back to prison while slapping on the cuffs. The guy never knew what hit him. Combine that with my original arrest experience in the hotel, and I was scared to death. I didn’t know what I had done, but I was convinced that it was all over. The rug was being yanked, it had all been too good to be true and I was going back to prison.
I said, “You’re scaring me. Tell me what you want.” And she continued with, “I’d rather tell you in person, just come in.”
I swallowed hard and said, “I’m not coming. You tell me right now what is happening. Just tell me.”
I could hear a sigh of resignation on the other end of the phone and she said, “I wanted to give you your Christmas present. I’ve petitioned the court on your behalf. I talked to the judge and said that I have never seen nor heard of an ex-convict that has done as well as you. I told him that it is a waste of the government’s money to continue to supervise your parole and we should release you from the remainder of your parole obligation.”
My jaw was on the ground. Apparently, the judge had had a similar reaction. In fact, it was the first time in his 30 plus years on the bench that a parole officer had ever petitioned the court on behalf of one of her charges. That alone had him so convinced that I was worthy of special treatment that he granted her motion and gave me my best Christmas present ever. Yet another sentence had been lifted.

***

I wanted to take some time to share these stories with you because there is one more thing that I need to warn you about. Just because you change and know that you are a “new you,” do not expect that you will win everyone over immediately.
If you’re changing something about yourself that hasn’t affected anyone else in the past, then this warning may not be such a big deal to you. If, however, you are recovering from an addiction, changing the way you are in your personal relationships, trying to improve yourself in your work environment, etc., it is going to take some time for people to get to know the new you.
There are few things as frustrating as the sentence that you may have to carry for things that you’ve done in the past, but in all fairness, you earned it. The people in your life will release you from it in their own time and there is nothing you can do about that. The shame would be to let it affect you in your journey or taint the definition of who you are becoming. Some would say, “If that’s what they think of me, then fine, that’s who I’ll be.” Do not throw all of your efforts away in a tantrum over something which you cannot possibly control. Stay the course, and know that if you continue to show them the new you through your actions, they will come around eventually.
Of course they may not be the only ones that you have to worry about. I still struggle to this day with releasing myself from a life sentence. I stuck a gun in the faces of people who were only doing their jobs. For all I know, those tellers are still suffering from my actions today. I think about them having nightmares, post-traumatic stress, trouble working, and it plagues my conscious.
I would love to apologize to them, but it is against the law for me to contact any of my victims.
If you’ve wronged people in the past as I have, you will never forget it, and frankly, some things shouldn’t be forgotten. You have to own those actions. At the same time, it is important to learn how to live with your past without allowing it to define the type of person you could be in the future. You will never be able to give yourself the gift of reaching your full potential if you believe yourself to be unworthy of it.
I spent many sleepless nights thinking of those people and hating myself for what I had done. Finally, I wrote each of them a letter, explaining to them how I understood the damage that I had caused, and included my most sincere hope that I had not hurt them for a lifetime. I apologized from the bottom of my heart.
Since I couldn’t send the letters to my victims, I folded them up into an envelope and mailed them to Santa Clause at the North Pole.
I will never forget what I’ve done, but, I am not that person anymore. I had to find a way to be able to hate the man that I was without taking it out on the man that I’ve become.
Some day, I hope to gain a presidential pardon. If and when I do, my first order of business will be to send those letters to the true recipients. Until then, that life sentence may always be in the back of my mind, but I will not let it define who I am.

 

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If you live in or near one of the following cit1es where Troy will be speaking over the next few months, please contact The Ev^ns Groups for details on an opportunity that does not come around often- see Troy present for free!

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About the Author- Troy Evans is a professional speaker and author who resides in Phoenix, AZ with his wife Pam and his dog Archibald. Troy travels the country delivering keynote presentations, and since his release from prison has taken the corporate and association pl^tforms by storm. Overcoming adversity, adapting to change and pushing yourself to realize your full potential- other speaker’s talk about these issues, Troy has walked them.
For information on booking Troy or for a listing of available products, please contact:

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