When I was in my teens and 20s, I made some horrible mistakes. I grew up in an immigrant family who had come from Lebanon in search of a better life. At school, I was bullied for my hairy arms and legs and would be ridiculed for where I came from. I was called every name under the sun and it was painful, and still is. I started a part time job at the local deli when I was 16 and it all spiralled from there when I had a chance meeting with an older man in the parking lot. He was 20 but I didn’t care: he was the first person who actually acknowledged me. He took me in his car and we became lovers. My parents were gravely worried but I couldn’t care less…I had a boyfriend and they couldn’t do anything about it.
Darren was bad, bad news. You could say I was naive, but in hindsight I was just so desperate for attention I would have done anything. One of the first things we did together was steal alcohol from the local pub bottle shop. It was such a thrill and I remember feeling so cool and reckless, but I had no idea what affect it was having on my friends and family. My mother was constantly sitting by the phone as I would get involved in petty crimes. I had to constantly prove myself to Darren and his mates, and had to keep going above and beyond our last crime. I was asked to steal my dad’s car and I did it without question. I took the keys and gave them over. My boyfriend sold it to his neighbour and got $10,000 for it, which we spent on drugs – marijuana, cocaine, heroin – I got addicted to those too.
My family tried to tell the police about the disgusting car robbery but they were far too slack and had no evidence, that was until I tried to steal my 26-year-old sister’s life savings. I assumed her identity and forged her signature and withdrew about $20,000. I hadn’t stepped more than two metres out the door before I was arrested and charged with over 10 offences. I was 19. I was put in jail for 11 years. During my time there, I had quite a lot of time to think. I’d disgraced my family who had come here for a better life, and I’d missed out on so many things. When I was finally freed, I made it my mission to get life on track again. To cut a long story short, I’ve changed immensely in the last 30 years since I got out. I am a law-abiding citizen with 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I am just lucky I got a chance to live. But my point of writing this wasn’t so I could tell this story, it was so I could show how big mistakes can be redeemed.
As those two men sit in a Balinese prison, awaiting their death, so many have been pleading for mercy for them, including myself. They are rehabilitated. And while some may think this is ingenuous of them and that anyone would try to rehabilitate themselves if it meant they could be granted clemency, but I urge you to think about how you can change in 10 years. You would do so many things differently, especially if you had a lot of time to think about it. After I got out of prison, even 20 years later, I was still accused of being a thug by some of my friends and family, despite having changed myself completely. I used to think to myself, what is the point of changing when everyone thinks I’m the same person I was?
I’ll tell you what the point is: you owe it to yourself to be a better person than you were. Even if these men leave this world, their soul will be repaired. They are truly sorry and they do not deserve what’s coming. We all make mistakes. I did, and I did it because I was naive and wanted to fit in, just like Myuran and Andrew. I wanted to be something more than I was, just like them. But what I didn’t realise, like them, was that I just needed to find positive role models and love myself. I made this error, as did they, but now they must pay with their lives. How is that fair?
Did you make mistakes when you were younger? How did you redeem yourself? Are you a different person now? Tell us below.