Blog Article 

 Five Years in Prison 

Dr. Al Dirschberger

Dr. Al Dirschberger

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Dr. Al Dirschberger is an educator and former community leader. A government investigation led to his imprisonment. He shares insights from inside.

How did everything that was so good turn so wrong? So quickly? Have I not been humbled? Have I not already paid a huge price for my mistake? Why were things going from bad to worse? Why was I getting kicked while I was already down? How much more of this can I take? What does my future look like?

Those were the questions running through my mind as I sat in the courtroom after hearing the jury foreman read the verdict of guilty and then being sentenced to five years of incarceration. Words I thought I would never hear. How could they proclaim me guilty of something I did not do? Yes, I made a moral and ethical mistake, but criminal, no way.

It is hard to express orally or in writing the range of emotions I experienced in a twenty-four hour span of time after hearing words you thought you would never hear. Words that would incarcerate me for five years, sixty months, a total of one thousand seven hundred and twenty five days. I felt emotions that I never had a grasp on or allowed myself to experience.

Being an analytical, bottom line, get-to-the-point person, I kept emotions out of my decision making process. I did not cry or express my emotions so easily. I kept things locked up in a safe place, using facts to masks decisions, protecting myself from feelings.  I could not understand what was happening to me physically or emotionally. Tears, loss of appetite, physical tremors, inability to sleep, lack of concentration had overtaken my sense of being. I was not in control of my feelings, my life, my future. For a person who thrived on being in control of their own destiny, I could not grasp what was happening to me or how to fix it.

My story is no different than many others who have fallen on hard times and cannot seem to get their lives back on track. Loss of job, divorce, health crisis, incarceration or some major obstacle. Basically any failure in life that hinders our ability to move forward brings on a fear that our best days are behind us and we lack the insight to forge a path forward.  

Success is a path of choices — choices we make everyday toward goals rooted in our beliefs. Therefore, failure is the inability to clearly adhere to those beliefs and succumb to negativity that drags us down like quick sand. To ruminate on the negativities of the past or focus on the possible positive future outcomes is a choice. A choices of living happily into the future or a choice of living with pain, sorrow and complaints.  

Whether you fail or succeed is primarily determined by choices you incorporate into your belief system. Beliefs used to forge a path of thinking and operating to be successful. Success that can only be defined by the individual. As the old saying goes, “one man’s house is another man’s castle.” Only the individuals can determine what castle they live in.

The answer starts with understanding that when life throws a curve ball, you must face your biggest fears and not run from them. Lives are not defined by a single event, they are defined by a lifetime of single events that paint a vivid picture of who we truly are as an individual. All that matters is not those few negative events but how we faced them and the responses that affected the future in a positive manner. How we demonstrate a wiilingness to be humbled, a willingness to learn, a willingness to change and a willingness to persevere.

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