The Life Cheryl Dreams Of

I asked Cheryl Armstrong (her story is here) what kind of life she imagined for herself, if she were to be released from prison. This is what she said:

The kind of life outside I picture myself living & things I’ve grown to know…

When I get out of prison, I picture myself living a simple but productive life. I want to end up building a career for myself that corresponds with my life experience and educational background. I would like to help teach others by sharing the mistakes I’ve made and what I’ve been through (and put others through) as a result of them. I am going to get a sociology degree because I believe I’ll be able to put it to use after my release. If I can’t make a career this way, I still plan to volunteer my time to organizations who are trying to help others by encouraging positive change in our justice system and rehabilitation for our troubled kids – NOT eternal damnation in an adult prison.

I’d like to get out and live on my own. My main priority besides being successful when I get out is to simply spend time with my family. My parents are getting older and I want to be there for them in any way I can – especially after all they have done to support me while I’ve been incarcerated.

I really want to be a productive citizen who goes to work all week but still finds time to enjoy all the little things that make life so precious – like going for a walk at night or just sitting outside, listening to the birds and enjoying fresh air. I don’t need lots of material possessions. I will live appreciating every moment of life. I’ve spent nearly half of my life in prison and it has taught me many valuable lessons about life and what’s truly important.

I can’t adequately describe how different my mind operates now compared to when I was 16 years old. When I was a kid, I lived in the moment. I never considered how my actions were affecting other people, my future, or even myself in that moment. I just didn’t think things through. I wasn’t a heavy drug user, but I did do a lot of experimenting and I think that often clouded my judgment.

I didn’t care about anything when I was 16 and I felt like I had to carry around this bad attitude to get respect from people. Looking back I see how completely warped and unhealthy that perspective was. During my first years in prison I carried this same attitude. As I got older, I started to realize that people don’t truly respect someone who has a negative attitude. Even more importantly, I realized I didn’t respect my own ways of thinking.

I grew tired of being negative and so easily offended by everything and a desire for something better grew in my heart. I came to realize that everything is not black and white and that being flexible and going with the flow is an asset, not a weakness. I learned about the value of life and that when you do something hurtful to someone, it changes people and can stay with them forever. I’ve learned to consider the long term consequences FIRST, whereas before, when I was a teenager, I never considered them at all. I’ve become more considerate and have learned not to sweat the small stuff.

The most powerful life lesson I have learned and am now just grasping and exercising in my life is the power of forgiveness. I used to hold onto every unfortunate incident that occurred in my life and could always find a way to blame someone else for it. As I got older, I realized that never letting go hurt me a lot more than the person (or situation) I was unforgiving toward. Whether I am in prison or free I will strive to be compassionate and forgiving towards everyone and remind myself that life is too short to be angry and in a negative state of mind. I’ve grown to know that life is what we make it and when something “bad” happens, you can always learn from it. Learning to change your perspective is truly empowering.


3 responses to “The Life Cheryl Dreams Of

  1. Wow That was POWERFUL! But, sounds as if it came from your heart! Love ya

  2. Its interesting to read your thoughts and mental/emotional life changes you are striving for. I often think of you and wonder how all of our lives could have been had you known these “insights” when you were 16. Tmayo’s friend – may he rest in peace

  3. I have to say Cheryl, it really is easy to say that a life lesson you have learned is forgiveness, (most of us believe this to be true) but do you honestly think it’s fair for you and your family to believe that you deserve forgiveness from me and mine? Part of being able to accept the fact that you killed our family member is that you were to be punished for a very long time. Because if the tables were turned and you were the victim, he would have probably been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
    You speak as if your actions were just some “bad” occurrence. How dare you?!! You speak as if you hit a dog, or ran into someone’s car, that you honestly believe in your own mind you had nothing to do with these two peoples dying is unnerving. You ARE GUILTY of KILLING two people and their unborn child. You did not just watch it happen and drive the “real criminals” away from the scene. You were an active (a very active) participant and even if others believe that you weren’t, you sure as hell is guilty of not seeking help or trying to stop the crime from occurring, all I hear from you is that you’re not responsible for the crimes — BUT YOU ARE—YOU DID IT !!!! AND everyone who knows the REAL truth knows YOU DID!!!!
    Your words make you presumptuous, as if you know you will be released sooner than you should. You speak as if you collected information from a psychology or sociology text book and paraphrased exerts to fit what you now claim as a “rehabilitated soul, “someone who has been made accountable for their actions. BUT– You are right now adding insult to injury to the two victims loved ones that have to continue to listen and hear and receive more and more information about you trying to get away with MURDER. Where was the compassion and forgiveness when you were brutally murdering two people and their unborn child? This is not some “unfortunate incident,” you stalked, plotted and planned to get your revenge because of the true jealousy and hatred you felt for these two individuals. You acted and reacted as a psychotic, antisocial, tyrant who was out for blood.
    I did not hear you speak of children in your future. Were you reminded ( or was it edited out) that you might be “pushing the envelope”, or that you may be way over the top if you were to talk about starting a family in the future; because people are learning and now realizing that you were responsible for the death of an unborn child? You mentioned that you would like to help care for your parents who “are getting older.” What about the people you killed? Remember your victims and their families? They have parents as well, who are getting older and may need someone to help look after them, but unfortunately, I know for one of your victims, He was an only child so there will be NO son to help them. Do you remember that? You mentioned that during your first year in prison you carried some of the same attitude that sent you there. What incident occurred that made you realize that “people don’t try to respect someone who has a negative attitude?” How have your “ways of thinking” changed to make You respect others more?
    I hope that for society’s sake, all the advocates, and special interest groups that are involving themselves in this case, understand that most criminals who are not remorseful, have a selfish, self-serving agenda, are nowhere near close to being rehabilitated, and if released early, the chances of her Violently re-offending is greater than you realize. She has been institutionalized and now trying to get public sympathy along with her remaining 10 minutes of fame. Cheryl was on the Montel Williams show a couple of years back, and still trying to run the same old BS. Do some research

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