Remorse and repentance and roads to recovery
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."2 Corinthians 7: 10
Remorse, in the sense of godly sorrow, involves more than just feeling bad or having a deep pain. It’s about action and changing the behavior that allowed me to murder Mr. --- and inject so much pain and trauma to his family and to so many other people. Hence why Godly sorrow begets repentance. The Hebrew word for repentance is metanoia and metanoia is best described as having a 180° change of mind. On December 3, 2007 I murdered, home invasion robbed, burglarized, and carjacked Mr. --- and I am so deeply sorry. My repentance/metanoia has been the cornerstone of my change. It is allowed me to not only gain my insight and understanding of the full impact of murdering Mr. ---, but it also awakened me morally, develop me in a deeper sense of remorse and empathy for all the victims I’ve created in my life, and even more, it brought a desire to live a responsible and accountable life.
To be accountable means to be responsible. But accountability is more than just being a responsible human being, it also means to be able to answer back. Because I have godly sorrow, I will be accountable for all my choices and behavior and ever present moment and in my future. But even more, I must have accountability, I must answer back for all the choices I made in my past, especially for murdering Mr. ---.
How do I answer back? I answer back by 1.) answering the question why I committed the heinous crime of murder against Mr. ---. 2.) What steps have I’ve taken to be accountable for murdering Mr. ---. 3.) Express assurance that I am different, and for how do I dignify and honor Mr. ---
1. Answers equal “why?!“
Through my criminal and gang members anonymous program, prep gang awareness and recovery, social/insight life for group, giving back to lifers, anti-recidivism coalition programs, my sponsor, mentors, and with persistent self study, I have understood why I committed my heinous crimes of murdering Mr. ---
On December 3, 2007 I murdered, home invasion, robbed, burglarize, and carjacked Mr.---. I was fully addicted and operated my life with a criminal gang culture mindset. Living my life fueled by money, character defects, and I lacked emotional intelligence. My criminal and gang culture mindset consist of having negative thoughts, negative attitude, and operating life through a warped and distorted belief system. Some of my warped/disturbed started beliefs were: show no weakness, loyalty to the gang, at all costs uphold the gangs image, uphold my image as a valued member in this game, the world is cold, so be colder, the world owes you were my character defects or what fueled my criminal and gang mindset. Also, in my addiction to criminality it was my defects that fueled this cycle from thoughts to actions.
My defects on December 3, 2007 were irresponsibility, recklessness, selfishness, callousness, fear, anger, lack of empathy, lack of remorse, false pride (egotesticle), and impulsiveness. My lack of emotional intelligence was displayed by my distorted perception of truth and reality. Instead of being a responsible human being by learning to address my childhood pain and trauma and take a responsible path in life by getting an education and a good career job to earn an honest and decent living, I chose to engage in criminality. I’ve chose to engage in criminality to not only satisfy my greed and my need for instants self gratification, but to also uphold my image and status and also my self-worth. I weaponization my pain and resentments and caused pain to other people. There was absolutely no justification and excuse. Also, I was very immature in my thinking and behavior. I had an undeveloped sense of responsibility, I was susceptible to negative influences, especially from my old gang associates, and I didn’t consider the consequences of my actions and choices.
I had an opportunity to help Mr.--- by calling for paramedics. Instead, I only cared about my own image and what my associates would think of me. This spoke of my callousness, lack of empathy and remorse, and my selfishness and highly irresponsible lifestyle. None of this is an excuse or justification. Mr.--- was an innocent and good human being and I murdered him in cold blood, I am deeply sorry.
Two accountability. For 25+ years I lived a destructive criminal gang cultured violent self-serving lifestyle that created countless victims. For six years of my incarceration I continue this lifestyle and choice to take no responsibility for murdering Mr.--- I lacked the empathy and remorse and I am so sorry.
March 3, 2014, I took my first step toward change. In that moment, I had no idea or plan on how to take initiative. All I had was a desire to change. Even though I had no idea or plan, I somehow knew that I needed God. In fact my road to recovery could not have began without first acknowledging God and asking for his forgiveness. My first encounter with God found me on my knees, crying, and doing just that "asking Him for forgiveness". I acknowledge that my way of living life was destructive to all life for the first time in my life, I felt the pain I was causing to other people. For the first time in my life, I was deeply sorry and I knew that I needed God‘s forgiveness and help. As I said, remorse is more than just feeling bad. True remorse says sorry, I am so deeply sorrowful for the pain I have caused you, and I will take actions and change the being that hurt you and caused you trauma. This is godly sorrow, my metanoia started with my acknowledgment of God and the need to have items as my foundation and have him as my foundation and food point and focus point.
Since March 3, 2014 I have made it a habit of spending 45 minutes to an hour or more, each day, with God. This time is spent on prayer, Bible study, meditation, or His word. Also watching Christianity programs on television.
I apply step 10 and number 7 of CGA daily. I also use step number 11 daily which is the constant desire to improve my spiritual awareness with God and also his ability to provide his strength and wisdom to always be decent and responsible towards myself and have empathy and care for others. My desire to know God more intimately open the path to enrolling as a student to me the urban ministry Institute. Also, I have completed both crossroad Christian programs and I am currently actively working the Christian 12 steps with Pastor Tom and Dottie Hooper through their "Love Lifted Me Recovery Program".
My relationship with God created desire to live my life with purpose. I wanted to live my life, moving forward, without ever creating another victim again. In order to do this I had to learn how to live differently by dismantling my warped distorted belief system and criminal gang mindset, address and replace my character flaw/defects with godly principles, produce growth emotionally and morally and overall, learn about self-help and reach and achieve goals and plans in my life. Self-help programs such as CGA, giving life back to life for us, prep gang awareness and recovery, social insight lifers group, have helped me to dismantle my warped distorted belief and my gang/criminal mindset. CGA specifically taught me the cycle of addiction to criminality. This was so invaluable because it gave me insight on how the cycle of addiction operated in my life. The cycle of addiction taught me that my persistent ideas desires an emotional rush to commit crime or violence was fueled by my negative and warped beliefs. My character defects are what brought my thoughts to fruition, and what kept me addicted in this vicious lifestyle were my reward factors such as my greed, need for instants self gratification, as well as my false sense of self-worth and my validation of my image and status as a valued member of the old gang.
The CGA 12 steps were God sent. Working my steps with my sponsor and mentors gave me so much healing and understanding of self, with instructions, and tools, on how to live a prosocial godly, responsible, acceptable, and moral lifestyle. For instance, step 4 and 5 allowed me to inventory though good and the bad I’ve done and also my resentments towards others. This step was crucial in many ways. Firstly, inventory for all the bad I have done paved the way for me to apply steps 8 and 9. I created a list all of that I created, a list of all those I had harmed, and made a commitment to live my life in an amends to all my victims. What step number 4 and 5 also did for me was to help me to truly forgive others and forgive myself. I will expressed this importance when I get to answering number four question of dignity and honoring of Mr.---.
My program such as cage rage, prep anger management, and a VP, taught me how to address my secondary emotion of anger in a positive way. They also gave me prosocial tools such as the “stop“ visualization method breathing technique to call my fight/flight response. And the view-switch empathy tool, they help me in my response to high stress situation to not meet aggression with aggression, but with humility and respect and dignity.
Victims Impact Mothers with a message taught me the full impact of murdering Mr.---. I not only murdered Mr.--- and robbed him of his life, but I also injected pain and trauma and financial burden on his family, community, first responders, hospitals, criminal justice system, and taxpayers. LWOP alliance, ARC mentorship program, prep turning point, Crimmins and all helped me not only on my prosocial skills, they taught me how to immerse and create my prosocial network and peer community. In essence, to surround myself with like-minded people.
My LWOP alliance group specifically taught me the importance of giving back to my community and practicing my number 12 step of CGA and giving my service to people. Most importantly, my mentors and peer group are my champions. They taught me how to address my defects one by one and also help me to replace my defects with godly principles steps number 6 of CGA. They guided my steps and helped me to create all my relapse prevention plans. Even more they strengthen me and we’re living examples of what it means to live a godly and responsible lifestyle steps to of CGA. I live a moral, remorseful, and responsible lifestyle. My accountability to be godly decent and responsible human being means that I will always press forward in my change. In every aspect of my life I will live and accountable lifestyle. I murdered Mr.--- there is no justification for his murder. There is no amount of accountability or amends to ever bring Mr.--- back
I am accountable for my metanoia for the rest of my life
By the grace of God, today, I am not the same person that I was December 3, 2007. First and foremost I am no longer a gang member and since October 2013 I am renounced and cut all ties with the old gang by coming to SNY. Even more importantly, I no longer operate my life with a gang cultured mindset. I am also no longer a criminal, and along with gang mindset, I have dismantled this mindset along with its negative thought patterns, attitudes, and warped distorted beliefs. Through God, my self-help programs, sponsors, mentors, and family, I now operate my life as a godly responsible accountable and moral human being. I follow all the rules and standards set. I also respect all authority.
My last RVR on August 5, 2015 taught me the importance of my thought habits and never minimize a rule or law. Rules are rules, and law is law. Since the last RVR, I have stayed committed and have not received any in fractions. March 3, 2014 as my sobriety date. Through CGA, Life Without a Crutch, NA/AA, and my mentors, I have learned the power of the cycle of addiction. Through the law of replacement, I have incorporated knowledge of self. Knowledge of substance abuse. Self-help meetings. Church. Exercise. Healthy diet and lifestyle. Yoga. Reading. And mentorship among other things in place of heroin use. I understand why I chose to use heroin and drug/alcohol will never be a part of my metanoia process. I also participated in many prosocial activities.
Recently I have been a part of The Amends Project where I write letters to the community of the steps I’ve taken in regards of expressing remorse and responsibility. I have also learning in Imperial Valley College where I am pursuing an AA degree in sociology. This degree will help in my future accountability and mentorship endeavors.
My most proudest achievement is the bond I have created with my mother and aunt. Our unity is full of God, love, understanding, patience, trust, and believe in one another. We have all grown individually and as one unit in the process. I love my mother and aunt with all my soul. Today I am a godly, decent, moral, and responsible human being
Number for dignity and honor of Mr.---
Proverbs 14:9 states that fools mock at making amends for sins, but goodwill is found amongst the upright. For a long time I cannot complete and get past at number 4 and number 5 of CGA. Step number 5 consists of three parts: forgiveness from God, forgiveness from self, and admitting to someone I trust the inventory I made instep number four. First off, how could I even dare to ask God for forgiveness for murdering Mr.---?
Through my mentor Nick and my sponsor Bobby Kimbrough, I learned the power of redemptive work of the cross. Jesus Christ was whipped, beaten, mocked, and was painfully hung on a cross. On the cross, Christ bore all my sins and he died carrying my sins to his death. Understanding this and believing it allowed me to ask God for forgiveness. My sponsor Bobby Kimbrough, taught me the importance of figuring. He taught me the importance of forgiving myself. I am not my sins until I forgive myself, every goodwill I produce will not be honoring Mr.---- but instead to cover my own shame and guilt. There is no justification for murdering Mr.--- there is no amount of goodwill that will amend murdering Mr.--- because of that, I will live the rest of my life dignifying and honoring Mr.--- every aspect, every part of myself will be lived to honor Mr.---. I will honor and dignify Mr.--- by the way I think, feel, and behave toward all life.
Every day I will wake up with gratitude on my mind and heart I will thank God for another day of life, I will appreciate every moment of life with hard work, diligence on my studies, and never being lazy. When I I am confronted with anger, resentment, hate, and negativity, I will practice in those moments my metanoia and goodwill by not reacting with emotions but with deep thought, grateful spirit, and with reasoning. But most importantly, I will honor Mr.--- by honoring Mrs.---, and his family, by never ever committing another active violence. I will never create another victim and allow another family to endure the pain and trauma Mrs.--- and her family is still enduring. If I ever make a mistake I will utilize my coping skills especially my 12 steps, Remorse and Repentance, and Roads to Recovery of CGA. I will resort to step number 7 by recognizing my shortcoming. Step number 5 by asking God for forgiveness. Step number 3 by reminding myself that I would let go of my destructive self will. Step number 9 by making direct amends immediately. Step number 12 by sharing my experience with my peers.
I will honor Mr.--- by honoring my mother and aunt. I will love on them and respect them. I will be a good son and nephew. Above all I will honor Mr.--- by building up my community. Especially the youth. I will teach, guide, and mentor my community and developing the purpose of living life without creating victims. I will honor Mr.--- by being a daily example in godly, decent, responsible, and moral living. I will be godly, responsible, and moral. I will value all life, all of humanity. I will honor and dignify Mr.--- by my continued growth and spreading that growth to my community.
Romans 12:2 states: "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
I will always honor Mr.--- by never being content of working and and applying my metanoia, the renewing of my mind. My godly sorrow will always lead me to honor Mr.---.
“God, help me, help me please.”
I remember that day so clearly as if it was only yesterday. It wasn’t even 5:00 AM yet, but there was just enough light coming in through the cell window to illuminate the syringe that was laying on the table right in front of me. A syringe filled with a little over 2 1/2 grams of black tar heroin, which was more than enough for this to be my last shot of my life. I sat there in the semi dark and stared at the syringe with a surreal focus and kept praying, “God, help me, help me please“. I couldn’t remember the last time I spoke to God, but either way, I didn’t know how to talk to him or if I was even allowed to ask him for anything. But something in me compelled me to reach for God and all I knew what to say was “help“. As I kept repeating this phrase, I started to tear up. Hell, I couldn’t remember the last time I allowed myself to cry. In the most amazing way, the more I cried, the more I felt strong enough to not inject myself with the syringe that was just inches away from my hands. Though it felt like an eternity, it was in reality only about an hour when I heard my celly begin to stir. It was almost time for him to get up, but before he did, I picked up the syringe went to the toilet and squeezed every drop out. Before I flushed it, I looked at the syringe in my hands, I don’t know how but I knew in that moment that I would no longer inject poison into my body. With a conviction that was not my own, I broke the syringe in half and flushed it down the toilet with the heroine.
*March 3, 2014 is my sobriety day.
What’s also so special about this day is that it’s my mothers birthday. On my mother’s birthday is when I took my first step towards change. Change was not even a thought in my head when I pulled almost 3 grams into the syringe that very same morning. Anyways, I had a phone call in the morning and I called my mother to wish her a happy birthday. After I said my happy birthday to her and she said "thank you" back, I allowed the familiar awkward silence to fill the gap between us. Normally, we both anxiously and frantically tried to fill that awkward silent moments with superficial smalltalk. But, on this particular day, I just didn’t care. After a while, my mother asked me what was wrong. As soon as she asked me that, I felt those damn tears again; tears twice in one day was a record. I told my mother that I just didn’t know who I was anymore. There were other words spoken in that 15 minute conversation. All I remember is my mom telling me that she loved me and that she was proud of me. I was so shocked to hear those words that I couldn’t ask her "proud of what?". I was 32 years old and that was the first time my mother told me that she loved me., and she said it three times. “I love you Jae“... those words traveled up the phone line, wrapped around my arms and covered my entire body like a golden force field. I never felt more powerful in my life. I felt as if I was finally able to take in a full breath of air into my lungs for the first time in my life. After the morning phone call, I was trying to find reasons for my mother to be proud of me. I couldn’t find a single reason, so I decided on March 3, 2014 to give my mother 1 million reasons why she should be proud of me.
Today is May 30, 2021. As I’ve said I remember March 3, 2014 so clearly as if it was only yesterday. Ironically, it’s about 4:42 PM right now, not quite 5:00 PM and the beautiful rays of the sun that is coming through the cell window is warm and comforting to the touch. These days I speak to God constantly throughout my day. He is my strength and my foundation and through Him I have been stacking reasons for my mother. I’m not quite at 1 million reasons, I don’t think I’ll reach that number, but I strive to reach it on a daily basis. It’s been a little over seven years now since I took those first step towards my change. In that timeframe, I have sheds so many more tears. Tears for that little boy who was neglected, starved, beaten and sexually assaulted. Tears for that little boy who was bullied at school and had no friends till the sixth grade. Tears for that teenager who found out his mother was an escort/prostitute. Tears for that man whose father rejected him. But the most important tears I shed were for my victims. The tears from my victims cracked the hard shell I covered my heart with an allowed God and humanity to step in. My humanity brought feelings of guilt and shame then remorse. Even more than just feeling bad for what I’ve done to my victim and his family, it brought repulsion of the person that was capable of such devastation, distraction, and callousness. My remorse said “I am fully responsible for my crimes and causing so much trauma that is endless and intergenerational and I need to change so that I didn’t do this to another person and family. I do not want to be a person who is capable of causing such pain and damage any longer. There is no justification for murder. There is no amount I can repay, nothing I can do to fully right this terrible wrong. Yet, everyday I live my life in remorse and in amends to my victim and his family. Just as I strive to find 1 million reasons for my mother to be proud of me, I also strive to live a life worthy of making amends to my victims.
The question that was proposed to me was: why is it important to share my truth and experiences with others? Today, the reason why I am able to be open and vulnerable and share my story is because someone else was that example for me. In the process of sharing and being vulnerable was healing and change. For me, my life goal is to live life without ever creating another victim. Even more important is to help others in sharing this same life goal.
I am not quite where I need to be, but I am not where I used to be. I understand that only seven years of change does not negate 20+ years of living a criminal and gang cultured lifestyle. I have created countless of victims in my lifetime and I will live the remainder of my life and amends to them. A lifestyle of amends is one where I do not live a parasitic lifestyle and one where I am a godly, responsible, decent, and selfless human being. Step number 12 of CGA states that “I, experiencing a spiritual awakening by applying the CGA steps, will freely share my truth and experiences with others like me, and continue living In a godly (or goal ordered direction) in all my affairs.”
Over the years I have learned that change first starts with self. I have to want it, and even more, I must take action. I must do the work. But change, in the end, becomes altruistic. It’s in the process of helping others where genuine change comes full circle. Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens the face his neighbor,” That’s why it is important for me to share my truth and experiences.
I fight, I fought poem
I fight, I fight
on this time tested steep road
My eyes clutch tight,
white knuckled fist on knees
I am doing my best to just breathe-
In the heavy, stifling air, into my famished lungs
sharp, unrelenting rays of the blazing sun
piercing, lacerating, razor-blading every inch of exposed skin
Every pore on my body extended, open
leaking precious life out of me.
With one less gulp of oppressive air,
I stand erect and howl my spirits elation.
The offering of my dues,
blood, sweat, tears… my threefold benediction
Purple, red, ripped apart, bloody,
Evidence of the fears that once wrapped around my entire body
Is this real, is this reality??
That I finally see
up ahead my destined destiny??
Head tilted toward the heavens
I thank my God for the gift of awareness.
Thank you for releasing me from the darkness,
my own ignorance.
Precious awareness, blooming into initiative,
The fate of my choosing I wish to live,
My initiative birthed
slave to the self-hate no longer, but self-worth,
propelling me up the steep road littered with the undead
looking past the lost ones to the victorious ones up ahead.
Though faint their cheers, I hear.
Seeing myself in those champions,
my purpose is clear,
I belong up there.
Left fast, right fast, the struggle I once feared
Having battled, having conquered
Now with open arms I embrace
The faith in myself to finish this damn race
Complacency and doubt twin sisters who don’t relent
Discipline, the voice of the coach, reminding me to be persistent
never leaving my side, never failing me
my friend, my companion, always take the lead.
Before my last sleep comes, when the battle is over one day,
throughout this fight, the constant peace I sought
To have passed with no more regrets and to be able to say,
I fought, I fought
The Amends Project
My name is Jae Hee Yi. I am Asian of Korean dissent. I am 37 years old. On December 3, 2007, I, and two associates committed an act of murder, home invasion, robbery, burglary, and carjacking. For this heinous crime, I was sentenced to life without parole and I have currently served 13 years, five months, and 11 days as of this writing. July 2021. For the first six years of my incarceration I still chose to live a criminal and gang culture lifestyle.
I hit my proverbial rock-bottom on March 3, 2014. By then, I was using heroin on a daily basis and contemplating suicide. I almost went through with it, but by the grace of God, He had other plans for me. To live a criminal and gang-culture lifestyle is to create victims. In fact, you cannot live this lifestyle without creating victims. I created victims for over 25 years of my life. Looking back at my past self, I am horrified, saddened, and deeply remorseful of the person I was. How could I have been so nonchalant about causing so much hurt, distraction, and trauma to people? What kind of a person was I to have such a lack of empathy and remorse to the pain I injected into so many people's lives without a second thought? Well, it takes a human being with no self-worth. If I did not value and respect my own life, there was absolutely no-way I could respect and value the lives of other human beings. I will not share, right now, how I got to be such a person who did not value and respect life another time. Instead with this writing, I want to share a little bit of the journey of my rehabilitation and change. To begin with the end in mind I want to say that today, I love who I am and I value all life and live my life with purpose. purpose…
I remember in the beginning, I had no clue as to how or where to begin my path to change. One thing I did have was desire and my desire for and my desire first pushed me toward God. To be honest, my change had to start with God. And my very first encounter with God was a miracle in itself.
God spoke to me.
I didn’t know how to pray or how to even address God in prayer. But with some humility I said “if you can hear me, I’m asking for your help. I need you and please give me a sign that You hear me and that You will be with me in my journey”. After I prayed, I had an urge to hold a Bible. I didn’t have one, but my celly kept one on top of the cell table. Picking the Bible up, I randomly opened it and highlighted was Joshua 1:9 and it says "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." After reading that passage, I knew the path to change was not going to be easy. I knew that I was going to face many of my personal demons and walk through many fires of shame. The refining process would not be easy. Yet, I felt comfort in God’s sign.
That was over seven years ago.
From then until now, I have participated in all the self-help programs provided here at Calipatria. I first started with church, a TUMI (the urban ministry institute) and crossroads ministries. Through them, I have gotten to know God more and with more knowledge of God our relationship has been more personal and intimate. Programs such as criminals and gang members anonymous, social/insight lifer group, criminon, prep gang awareness and recovery, giving back to lifers, ARC, CGA, have helped me dismantle my criminal and gang mindset and warped/distorted beliefs. They have also helped me to heal from my childhood causative factors. Self-help programs such as prep turning point and LWOP alliance have helped me to operate life with a mindset of a creator instead of a victim's mindset. Cage your rage, prep anger management, and alternate to violence have helped me to address my secondary emotion of anger. Victim impact educated me on how I truly hurt and Trent talk how I truly hurt and traumatized my victims and their families.
Through these programs in with my sponsor and mentors, I have created relapse prevention plans for my internal and external triggers, criminality and gang lifestyle, drugs and alcohol, and also an antisocial personality disorder RPP. Even more, I have written more insight bio, emotional intelligence/arrested development essays. CGA; the lifestyle of attics essay, CGA and 12 step essay, and an essay for every write up I received in prison.
I have also taken steps to further my education by enrolling at imperial Valley College or I am pursuing a degree in sociology. This degree along with my ARC youth mentorship courses will help me in making my change altruistic by helping others develop their oh and insight and growth.
As I’ve said, today I live life with purpose. One specific purpose is that I live to honor my victims and the one of the ways I honor him his wife and family is to live my life without ever creating another victim again. There is no justification for this murder and for the pain and trauma I caused his wife and family. There’s no amount of amends it will ever write this horrible wrong. Yeah I must and I desire also to live a responsible, selfless, and purpose filled life in honoring of him his wife and family.
Seven years is nothing compared to 25+ years of creating victims and havoc on this earth. But with the guidance of God, sponsors, mentors, family, and with my continued pursuit of knowledge and insight, I will continue to strive for growth and responsible living.
“Sooner or later, I’ll peoples experience this transformation. It is through some kind of radical moral conversion that a people finally become fully aware of, and assume total responsibility for-themselves for-everything about themselves, including their past, however racked with subject station; and they are present, however constrained by circumstances; and their future, however bleak. “Orlando Patterson PhD