It’s not the wide open sea you must overcome, my friend. It’s the everyday, the mundane.

The look that you get when you take your child to the playground.

The smirk on the face of another parent when you’re at the grocery store.

The offhanded social media comment that triggers a trauma that you can’t and won’t talk about out loud.

The empty seat next to you at your child’s school play.

The invitation to the social event that was rescinded or not extended in the first place.

The automated message announcing a phone call from somewhere far, far away.

The world you have to hold together little by little.

No, my friend. Its not the wide open sea that you must overcome. It’s the everyday, the mundane.

It’s the lies that the system tells about you and your family, when all you want to do is exist and love.

The yearning to feel safety and peace outside of the surveillance & control.

It’s a shame internalized.

It’s the poison that seeps into the small things, the every day, the just trying to be alive.

Traveling, socializing, working, parenting, finding a place to lay your head, it’s all affected.

The confidence you must force, the worth you must constantly prove, simply because you love someone society has cancelled and rejected.

Forget the ocean my friend.

Wade into the small, bubbling brook for a short while.

Let the shallow water wash away the shame and find your voice.

Sing the song of deliverance and self worth.

Refuse to accept the oppression.

Day by day, situation by situation, realize your small joys.

You can find your power and hope.

It’s not the wide open sea you must conquer, my friend, but the everyday small cuts, limitations and fears that threaten to steal your joy.

If you can conquer those, your hope can sustain you until the day that the small stream of water (our voices, lifted in collective struggle) cut into the boulder we push uphill so deeply that it cracks & crumbles, creating the space for our ultimate liberation.

By Amber Vlangas - Dedicated to all those supporting loved ones who are impacted by mass incarceration, community control and conviction registries


Amber Vlangas


@acluct, @restorealliance, speaker, anti-carceral survivor, veteran, advocate & co-host of - Tweets & opinions my own