What does it mean when people say in the life?
From my experience:
In the life. You’re either trapped in it or you survived it. There is no in between. In or out.
The life is referring to the street life and all the baggage that comes with it. Drugs and money are the two main reasons to keep you out there. You’re either hustling the drugs for the money or you’re addicted to the drugs and trying to find ways to make money to get the drugs. Both actions are followed with devastating consequences and most of the time the only thing the future has in store for someone trapped in the revolving lifestyle is jails, institutions and death.
Hustling creates a sense of power and respect while the person addicted to the drugs become a vulnerable target for predators to take advantage of. These predators swoop in with their hero capes on and portray the helpful, too-good-to-be-true savior. They put you on this platform of safety then chop it down, violently and maliciously, brick by brick until you’re an empty shell, a robotic vessel, following their every command to avoid punishment and withdrawal.
To some, the lifestyle itself is addicting. The fast money, the adrenaline of those close encounters, the potency of the drugs from whatever corner you copped from that day or which “burner” (gun) you’re going to carry today.
For some, that type of lifestyle is all they know and other remain trapped because of the fear that surrounds every possibility of escape.
It’s easier getting stuck in the life than it is to get out of it. It sucks you in and refuses to spit you back out until you fight and force the belly of the beast to regurgitate your empty soul for another chance at life. Then you have to fight the trauma and temptation to remain out of the life. Your mind is always at war with itself while you try to suppress the traumatic events of the past.
Other experiences may not be the same. Some may have been born into. A child who barely knows right from wrong. To generalize “in the life”, I would describe it as being in the dark. But not the kind of dark you get when you walk into a room. It’s not even the kind you get when you shut your eyes and wrap your head in a blanket. It’s the kind that seeps through your skin, filling the spaces between your molecules. The kind that pollutes your flesh into a permanent state of rotting. The one that wipes clean your past and your future, suspending you in a choking, adhesive solution of sorrow and despair. While pleas escape from your cracked lips. An endless begging for mercy rises and falls like the breathing of a great beast. Time has no meaning.
Written by Tammy M, PATC Member, Survivor, Behavioral Technician