I’ve had a hard time writing anything for the past few months but decided to reach out and share what I’ve been going through with all of you. When I came to prison I had a lot of anger over the way things happened with my case, specifically my mental evaluation. About a year ago I realized that every time I got angry I was giving all my power away. I was making myself a victim, and couldn’t solve the problem. I got sick of feeling that way, and decided to do something about it. I worked on changing my point of view by taking responsibility for my life, including my thoughts. I started reading anything that could help me, and read some very empowering books. I also meditated and prayed a lot trying to work through what happened. There have been times that I have been grateful for what happened. Grateful that I didn’t go to trial, grateful for my sobriety, and I’m always grateful for the well being of my family.

When I came to RDAP (residential drug treatment program)I decided to give it my all. I had worked hard already to change my life, and wanted to continue moving forward. Things have been going pretty good so far. I like being busy, and I like hearing other peoples stories. One of the things we do in RDAP is share a readiness statement. A readiness statement is a short presentation that we share with the whole group that addresses briefly our childhood, our drug history, and other important facts. I want to use the opportunity to really put it all out there and heal, but there’s a lot of things I’ve done that seem really horrible, things I’m scared to talk about. Working on it has me thinking back to events that I haven’t thought about for years, and that has been emotional. It’s been good to remember experiences that happened years ago with a clearer perspective though, and it’s changing how I see things, and what I remember. I feel like I’m lightening my load, and seeing things with new eyes.

The one experience that I haven’t been willing to look at is my mental breakdown. I didn’t want to feel angry again, and the feelings are just too intense. I started having panic attacks recently, and having a recurring dream that really scares me. One day a girl from our group came up to me and said: “Ms. Portia, sometimes when you’re in group I think you’re battling yourself. I know you really want this program to work for you, but something is holding you back.” I decided to talk about my mental breakdown in group today, and realized it wasn’t anger that I was feeling it was fear! The kind of fear that takes your breath away. A fear so intense I thought I was dying! The fear of losing at trial, the fear of leaving my children, the fear of going to prison, the fear of detoxing from drugs, the fear of total failure, the fear that my image and everything I thought I was supposed to be was going to be destroyed! Today I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders, I was finally able to work through some of those feelings that have held me hostage. I’m starting to see some real freedom on the other side of my pain that is exciting and exhilarating! I’ve prayed and prayed to have the Savior take away these burdens, but I couldn’t do it alone. Maybe I just needed people to know that I was really scared so it didn’t have power over me anymore?

I want to share this excerpt from a letter I was able to write to my daughter Sadie today. I don’t think I could have written this letter if I hadn’t been willing to talk about what I went through. “Dear Sadie, Instead of being sad that you are growing up without me, I want to grow up with you. I have some questions for you, then I will tell you a little bit about me. If you could have any three wishes granted what would they be? If all your clothes could only be one color what would you choose?(I wear green:) What is your biggest dream? What is your biggest worry? If you could change your name what would you change it to? Is there one thing you want to tell me that you thought you never could? Here I go:) I like the color blue because it’s the color of your dads eyes. I love spring-time because it’s a time of re-birth. I like butterflies because they struggle to transform. Sometimes I act strong when I’m really scared, and I have a hard time telling people when my feelings are hurt. Sometimes I’m scared that my kids deserve a better mother, that maybe I’m just not good enough. I’m scared of failure too, and I worry too much about what other people think. I like to laugh, but sometimes I feel alone even when other people are around. I’m scared I’m not smart enough, so I try to overcompensate at the things I’m good at to make up for the things I’m not good at. I wasn’t very good at school:) I’m trying really hard to get better for you guys, but most of all for myself. I’m tired of suffering, and I want to feel good about myself.” This is where I am today, and I thank you all for following along.