Matt’s Story

Purgatory: Matthew

I’ve been incarcerated for ten months now, I haven’t written in awhile because I have been in a very bad place mentally. Prison itself is not half as bad as you all think, of course it is horrible by any realistic, humane standards but the real punishment is simply a purgatory. That’s what prison is, purgatory, and you have to find a way to live with what you’ve done. I haven’t figured that part out yet but I won’t let this place break me either.

Most of the other inmates in here are just as lost as I am or either they are too ignorant to even acknowledge. I was raised with pretty good values and morals and I am ashamed of myself most days at all of the horrible things that happen to people in here that I have to overlook or ignore, the main priority in here is self-preservation, that’s all. The best way I can describe prison is imagine that you are in a neighborhood that you always avoid or always lock your doors when you drive through it, you know the kind, now imagine being stuck in it. That’s what prison is like, the scum of the earth all gathered into one place and I’m one of them. Enough of that though, I am about four months away from completing the recovery program that I am in, I am nearly a year sober, I am in better shape than I’ve been since the Army, I am working on a lot of issues I have emotionally and I have an amazing support system around me including my family, my beautiful girlfriend, and all of the amazing people that have taken the time to reach out to me and let me know that they are simply thinking of me. I will be starting college at Ohio University very soon and I promise that I will earn my bachelor’s degree no matter what. My sister and I still are trying to get past the prison to be able to be proactive in this movement towards a better society, one where we can all understand that what we do strongly affects everybody around us, something that I learned too late. I’ll talk about that for a second, the truth is that I haven’t even begun to deal with taking Vince’s life, I don’t know how. Every time that I try it feels as if I’m trying to step on a set of train tracks and try to stop the train. It’s overwhelming beyond words and sometimes I feel like I have no right, everything that I do to try and prevent unnecessary deaths in the future will only remind and hurt the Canzani family of what I have robbed them of. Even this very post is doing that. The one year anniversary just recently passed of the crash and I am proud of the things that Alex did over at becauseisaidiwould. I myself faced it like a coward, I did everything I could not to think of what I had done. Breaking down is not a luxury that I have in here, I spent a moment in the shower grieving the loss at my hands but it quickly turned into frustration and anger and I took it out on the brick walls. Sometimes I wish I could just scream at the top of my lungs and tear everything I can get my hands on apart, that’s how tremendous this frustration is, it torments me inside. But doing that wouldn’t solve anything and it wouldn’t bring Vince back. The good thing about purgatory is that it can end, and one day I will be away from this place. I will either find a way or make one.- Matt Cordle


  1. Arlen Miller - July 10, 2014 1:52 pm

    Wow. What amazing honesty, Mr. Matthew. You’re very candid and honest. Thank you. Thank you for sharing from the heart. How to stand with you? My heart aches for ya, man.

  2. Clara Oswald - August 28, 2014 2:39 pm

    Wow. Thank you so much for owning up for the mistakes you’ve made.
    Please look up 1 John 1:9 It’s more than worth the time. God loves you man.

  3. Gloria Kelly - August 28, 2014 5:48 pm

    Hi Matthew, thank you for your honesty. Baring your soul to the world is a very brave thing to do, but I also recognise that some people may view this as pure self indulgence, and I’m guessing you may feel this as well. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. You are working through your guilt and grief and disappointment in yourself for being a “weak-willed alcoholic”. Nobody is perfect, Matthew. We all have vices and we have all done things we are ashamed of. It’s only the magnitude that varies. At heart, you are a man of principle, and for that, at least, you should be proud. If you were my son, I would be proud of the way you faced your fears and the consequences of your actions. I have two adult sons and love them dearly. Perhaps that’s why I feel a bond with you, Matthew, even though I don’t know you personally. I will follow your journey as you serve your sentence. I wish all good things for you Matthew. You made a mistake, you are paying for it. That’s all anyone can ask, really xox

  4. Nina - August 28, 2014 11:52 pm

    Thank you, Matthew. Your story is making a difference. It means a lot to me.

  5. Brooke Dye - August 29, 2014 8:28 pm

    Matthew please forgive yourself, I am happy that you are facing your mistakes and you have realized that you are responsible for what has happened. But please, please forgive yourself and look at the glass half full. You are still a young man and you have so many unlimited opportunities ahead of you. I fully support you in fighting your internal conflict. Have a wonderful sober life Matthew. <3
    Sincerely yours, Brooke Dye.

  6. Hellen Haga - September 30, 2014 6:35 pm

    Hello Matthew, I’m a Brazilian teacher of English and I’ve come across your story when searching for classes material. I got utterly touched by your honesty because I don’t see people nowadays assuming their mistakes. I guess we’re all likely to make mistakes, it’s how we take responsibility for them that makes us better people. I thank you for having the courage to take responsibility and inspire others to do so. Anyhoo, I just want to say that I showed your video to all my students and they all made promises (specially regarding traffic) for being better humans. I pray for you to find comfort someday.

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