The last few months in prison have been hard for me. I don’t know why this time has been more difficult, but it has. I met with my friend Macy today, and she asked if I was okay, “I’m worried about you. It just seems like you’ve been sad for a  long time?” I told her that I don’t know why I’m so sad? I guess I’m just tired, and I’m tired of being sad.  Both of Macy’s parents were drug addicts so she grew up on the street living in the back seat of a car.  Macy is special; She’s kind, humble, and has a strong desire to improve herself.  She told me, “Portia, I’m going to say some things to you that you said to me when I was really struggling. What you are going through is going to be your blessing some day. In fact, it might be the most important thing you will ever do! Walking through this experience with your head held high, and an open heart, is going to bless your children and your family for generations to come! You are one of the strong ones; a warrior who is willing to be purified through your suffering. You will leave prison an amazing person! Portia, don’t forget who you are. You are already an amazing person!” I smiled, and told her that was good advice, and asked her if she was sure that I said those things:).  She laughed, and said: “Don’t you know what a difference you make in people’s lives here? Maybe you can’t see it, but having a friend like you has made prison a good experience for me because you have given me hope! I believe you when you tell me that it’s all going to be worth it in the end.”  I’m grateful to have a friend like Macy that was willing to remind me who I am on a day like today.

One of the women from our support group went home this week. Our group met the night before she left to share our feelings about her experience, and give her some advice. During the meeting one of the women in our group brought up having to wear an ankle monitor when she gets out of prison, and said it was going to be an embarrassment for her. I asked her why she would be embarrassed?  When you walk through something as difficult as this with dignity and courage you should be proud! You left your family, and worldly titles, and walked through these gates completely alone. You’ve already faced the fear, and humiliation of coming to prison; what more can they take from you? She said: “They can mark me with a scarlet letter for the rest of my life. I will always be a felon!” I told her: “You paid the price, and will be walking out of here a free women! You might know a freedom that others never do. This really can be your blessing.” Another member of our group said: “Of course you would see it that way Portia! You’ll probably go out there and bedazzle your ankle monitor. You don’t ever get embarrassed.” Everyone laughed! I said: “This might be the most important thing we will ever do. Walking through what I have is an accomplishment!”

During our meeting we each told our friend what we hoped for her. I said: “You are a new woman now, and have a responsibility to make a difference! You have seen a different side of the justice system, a side that most will never see. You know the disadvantages that most of these women face. You have a good family waiting for you, and I hope that you enjoy every moment with them; the moments you might not have noticed before. Be amazing, if enough of us leave prison amazing our country will have to start to notice that incarceration is a real problem. We need strong women who are willing to change themselves, and be the voice of change in our country.” It was a great meeting. All of us laughed, and decided that someday when we get home we want to put together a FB page to get in contact with each other. We decided to call it “Yard Birds at Waseca”:)

I want to make the best of this experience, I really do, but sometimes I feel so discouraged. I still have a lot of time away from my family, and visits are tough. I know that I need to look at the positive, but sometimes it just seems too hard. That’s the truth. I haven’t wanted to write a blog post because I haven’t felt like I had anything positive to say. So here it is: It’s hard, it’s lonely, and sometimes I think I will never be okay again. As for today, I’m grateful that I was able to meet with a friend, and I’m glad I was able to reach out to all of you. And I thank you all for following along:)