Michelle, 41

Meet Michelle..

“Just because I am wearing green and hidden from society, inside this cell, does not make me a monster or a bad lady.”

Michelle, 41

Incarcerated: 2 ½ years

Housed: Taconic Correctional Facility, Bedford Hills, New York

As I sat in this eight by ten-foot cell, locked in for daily count, I began to ask myself, “Where did I go wrong?” I’m aware of my crime and who I’ve hurt, and I take full responsibility for being incarcerated. Yet the same question blows around in my mind like a storm. Was it when I was born on drugs, taken from my biological mother, and placed into the foster care system only just a first few breaths in this world? Was it when my mother’s boyfriend was molesting me during unsupervised visits at the age of eleven? I was afraid to tell because I would never see my mother again, so I endured his abuse for years. Was it when I and all my belongings were in another CPS worker’s trunk, and I was off to another foster home family? As I looked out the window each time, I’d ask myself, “Will this family care? Will I be able to trust anyone?” Was it when I lost my brother in the system that separated us? He was adopted, and his name was changed, never to see him again?! Was it when my biological mom pushed on the plunger of a syringe and released drugs into my system at 13 years old, and all I wanted was her love? Was it when I felt so alone in this big world and had no one I thought I could trust? Was it when my biological mother passed from liver failure, and I could never tell her, “I forgive you, Mom, and I love you?” Was it when the one man I believed loved me broke my ribs? Was it maybe when I stood outside my home of ten years and watched everything  I worked so hard to burn to ashes? Or perhaps it was when I walked into my daughter’s room to see the man I laid next to for 13 years molesting my firstborn daughter? He was immediately put into jail, where he is today! Sometimes I ask, “God, why am I here?” Why was I put through so much pain, hurt, and disloyalty? Since I was in prison, I have found God, and he is my higher power. He helps me get up and put my feet on the floor each day, the strength to embrace whatever or whoever may cross my path each day, whether in prison or the world. I can’t quite pinpoint when or where it began to go wrong for Michelle, but what I can do is move forward. I want to be a good mother, a trustworthy friend, a loyal wife, a patient listener, an on-time employee, and an average citizen. I want to be someone I’ve never tried to be, and that’s a WHOLE NEW ME! Sitting in this cell, my own little hell can be turned around into a place of growth, my own little sanctuary, a place and a time to be a better woman today than I was yesterday. Just because I am wearing green and hidden from society inside this cell does not make me a monster or a bad lady. It’s giving me time to heal and be a new, more beautiful woman every day moving forward. I am not what I’ve been through. Thank you for listening to my story.

 

Megan, 35

Megan, 35

Meet Megan…

“It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony.”

Megan, 35

Incarcerated: 7.5 

Housed: Anson Correctional Institution, Polkton, North Carolina

My entire life revolved around drugs and destructive relationships. It wasn’t long, I dropped out of high school and moved out of my parents’ house. I was 15 years old. All I wanted to do was find comfort, and I tried to find that in the wrong people and the wrong places. I never thought about what my life was going to be like 10 or 15 years down the road. My life consisted of using drugs or being around them. If people weren’t contributing to my drug use, they weren’t a factor in my life. I gave up on the true meaning of life. I gave up on my daughter and on myself. I pushed everyone away due to the pain I was holding onto. It was only causing me more damage than what I already had inside of me, including the ones around me. I’ve had my ups and downs these past 7.5 years, but I have never felt more free or more at peace in my entire life than I have these past few years. I only have God to thank for that. When you finally find yourself after feeling lost for so long, you start to see things much clearer. You no longer want to take life for granted, you see the bigger picture in life. It’s ok to take life one day at a time. It’s ok to make mistakes. My mistakes and choices are what brought me to prison, but if it wasn’t for my mistakes, I would not be who I am today. Without my mistakes, I would not have a testimony. My mistakes are what saved my life. I now know how to be a mother to my daughter. I’ve overcome my drug addiction, that was the biggest demon I ever had to fight, and I did it alone. I want to continue to be here for my daughter. I want to live! The first lesson in overcoming our pain is forgiving ourselves, and forgiving others. Without forgiveness, there is no moving forward. I want to make a difference, one day at a time. There is life after drugs. There is life after a life sentence. We can be set free inside these walls. What we achieve at our best moments doesn’t say much about who we are; it all boils down to what we become at our worst.

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