My name is Mike, but some individuals in prison call me “Chief” due to my Native American heritage.
I was born in Butte, Montana, but raised in Eastern Washington (Puyallup Reservation and Tacoma). I have 11 beautiful children and 3 grandchildren. I am serving a 188 month sentence for drug related charges and looking back now I probably should have received much more then that for the things I have done and the people I have hurt, but God was good.
But who am I really? In the past I would have answered that question simply stating, Michael Alan Gardipee, due to my lack of self-awareness and interest in others. Once my reputation and ego grew I would have introduced myself as, Mike “Fucking” Gardipee!
My social interactions were extremely superficial, I acted on impulses that were based on self-gratification. I never considered the consequences or damages to my actions or the affects they had on others. Lying, stealing, manipulating, and violence were everyday things. I had no empathy towards those I hurt, not even my family. I was like a wolf looking for prey every day, and I couldn’t wait to taste the blood of my spoils. As the years passed so did my anger, mixed with my addictive personality and criminal lifestyle, I was consumed.
Today I am, a man of faith, loving father and grandfather, and a recovering alcoholic and addict who has clarity in self-awareness. I am able to laugh and cry with my 12 step brothers while we sit in a circle and share our intimate experiences, strengths, weaknesses, hopes, and fears. My life is filled with purpose and direction, all thanks to God, and I am no longer afraid to share my emotions.
The work I have done and continue to do is laying down the foundations of a new beginning, something I never thought I would have had 10 years ago, when I started this prison time, and I have so many to thank. The new me doesn’t act on impulse, even though some days I still have the urges to. When I feel the anger, the old me is trying to come back, asking me to take care of a current issue “the old way,” I now know where to turn, I lean on my faith, ask for strength, or people in my community, like Noah and Dennis.
I still struggle with self-doubt because this is something that is deeply rooted within me. It blinds me at times, so that I can not see or feel the successful moments in my life, and this is only the tip of the ice-burg in regards to my insecurities, all due to burdens of my past. All things I hope to overcome when sharing my story. For my readers, I hope that my vulnerability inspires those who can relate to my experiences, because you are not alone. Together we can grow, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
As for what I will be writing about on R2R; family, life experiences, drinking, drug use, sex addiction, womanizing, ways I chose my reputation over my family, recovery, GOD, prison life, affects of suicide, dealing with loss, insecurities, and anything I discover along the way.
I am excited to share, I have come so far and I will never forget what triggered these changes in my life, the screams of the mother of my children and my daughter in that cold, sterile courtroom when the judge sentenced me to those 188 months. It felt like a dagger was trust into my heart and I knew I needed to change, I just didn’t know how. In reflection, I look back at the old me, and I see the growth. The light at the end of the tunnel is drawing near and it’s almost time to go back to my family. I still have work to do, but I have already came further then I ever thought possible.
The new me knows that I am no longer a lone wolf on the hunt, but rather a new creation of God looking towards the horizon at new beginnings that are sure to come.
God is good!