“The world that we left was long gone. The danger was that our ideas had become frozen in time. Prison is a still point in a turning world, and it is very easy to remain in the same place in jail while the world moves on.” Nelson Mandela – A Long Walk to Freedom.
Today I was doing some research online to help with a proposal I’m drafting. My goal is to host a panel discussion with women who were formerly incarcerated in Fairview Halfway House along with the staff there. The women there have expressed feelings of overwhelming stress as a result of the conditions in the halfway house. They have a profound need to improve relationships with staff, and feel more secure in their environment. My hope is that by facilitating a discussion between staff at the halfway house and women who have lived there during reentry I can foster a more positive rapport and improve conditions for female reentrants.
As we know stress is a major trigger for relapse and recidivism and decreases the quality of life. Indeed, stress will make an already complicated transitional process like Re-entry seem detrimental.
While doing my research I came across these Tips for Re-Entry developed by The Counseling & Psychological Services at The University of Colorado at Boulder’
Ease into Life 2) Take Time for Reflection 3) Know whom to talk to 4) Honor the old and the new.
Interestingly, the piece wasn’t referencing re-entry, it was advising exchange students who are returning from studying abroad. As I read those tips I thought, ‘I wish I would have done a better job with Tip #1. After being incarcerated for 18 years I came home thinking I had no time to waste and I hit the ground running. I immediately enrolled in college, began to pursue a career in reentry and in 18 months I set out to create a non-profit organization.
I have been overwhelmed. I can’t tell you the last time I just took the time for myself. Sometimes I’m so tired I feel as if I can barely hold my head up. The tension in my neck and back can be excruciating. Then, I do some push and pull ups, smile and keep it moving. I am thankful that I have my good friends who I can talk to, but at times I still feel so alone as if nobody truly understands my plight.
I am fortunate that I have a second chance to be a part of society and I refuse to let anxiety and stress get the best of me. I want to move on from the past. I’m excited about the future and determined to continue to think positive, encourage myself, and strive to make myself proud. In fact, one day soon I’m going to do something really nice for myself like buy myself a new purse.