I moved to the RDAP (drug and alcohol treatment) unit recently, and started attending treatment classes. I didn’t think I would like RDAP.  Some of my concerns were that the program is government run, and it doesn’t focus on spiritual recovery the way 12 step programs do. What I’ve learned since I came to RDAP is that the program focuses on positive behavior and integrity, and there’s a better environment in this unit than anywhere else I’ve been in prison. The staff members seem to care about our growth and recovery, and are very committed to making a difference and I really like the program! I was wrong to make judgments before I had first hand knowledge; I’m learning to be more open minded. I’ll be starting the book work this week, and I’m excited to learn more. I’ve been welcomed with open arms into the community, and feel a lot of love and support from the women here.

I was asked if I would pick a quote and share it with our group last week. I chose a quote by Steven Covey, “I am not a product of my circumstances, I am a product of my decisions.” I told the group that in the free world I spent a lot of time trying to change my circumstances to find happiness. I said, “When I came to prison the only word that could accurately describe how I felt was devastated! I walked out of the unit on my second day at Dublin and saw a sea of women wearing khaki clothes; no color, no hope, no joy! I thought: ‘I’m never going to be able to do this for 7 years!’ I left 5 children at home, and my youngest daughter CJ was only 7 years old. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to be able to be away from my little girl and my family for as long as CJ had been alive? It just seemed impossible! Now I think not being able to change my circumstances was a blessing. I was finally forced to look inside myself to solve my problems. Every important change I have experienced in prison has taken place inside of me! And as I have worked on making those changes the way I see my circumstances has changed too. I still struggle admitting that I’m scared, and I don’t like people to think I’m vulnerable or weak. Sometimes I take things a little too seriously. But I have some pretty amazing people who love me out there, and I want to make them proud!”

After the meeting a woman that I met upon my arrival into RDAP gave me a hug and said: “I feel like I should tell you that I love you every time I see you. Something about you makes me feel really good about myself. I feel drawn to you, it’s like every word you say goes into my heart.”   I responded, “Maybe that’s because I think you are a bright shining star; that you are filled with potential! I see a person who genuinely wants others to succeed; an amazing woman with a pure heart.” A few days later I was eating lunch with the same woman and she told me, ” Sometimes you don’t see things in yourself until others see them in you. You might know there’s something inside of you that’s good, but until someone else sees it in you it doesn’t seem real. That’s how I felt when you told me I was special. I thought that if you think I’m a good person maybe I am somebody, maybe I can do something important with my life? since I met you good things are happening for me, and I think it might have something to do with you?” I told her: “I started praying for you the first day I met you. I saw a special person, who didn’t know how valuable she was. I just wanted you see what I see.”

I’ve received a few letters from my friends out there, and apologize I haven’t written back. I want you to know that I appreciate the support, but haven’t had the emotional energy to write a blog post or anything else. I’m hoping that will change soon? My family is coming to visit me next weekend. It’s been a long time, and I really need to spend some time with them. Things are going pretty good for me. The government declined reviewing my appeal, and that’s ok. If all goes well I should be out next year? I’ve had some awesome experiences in prison, but it’s also been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do(which says a lot because I’ve done some pretty hard things). Right now I’m trying to live in the moment, and enjoy each day. I’ve met some incredible people, and had some life changing experiences. I appreciate your love and support and thank you all for following along:)