Now That I am Out Of Prison, When Will I Stop Feeling Caged?

It’s a new year, and I’ve been home for two years now, yet I still find myself unable to sit with myself. I still don’t go home until I know I’m exhausted and ready for bed. I still feel like an energizer bunny every time my feet hit the floor in the morning. When is it gonna end? I keep telling myself that this will change when I move into a larger space. Right now the space I’m living in is small. It’s cozy, but there’s not much space to move around. In fact, it’s one room. When I move, I plan to create an oasis in my “living room.” I want candles burning, fresh flowers permeating, soft music playing, and

tea boiling constantly.

I’m shopping around for my first apartment. Even though I’m apprehensive about the arduous task of budgeting and paying a ton of bills, I am so excited and ready for the next phase. As I embark on my search for an apartment, I find that the most important feature for me is security. I need to live in a secure building in a safe area. I cannot see myself in an area that is not well-lit and well-protected.

For two decades I was caged, but while the system was protecting me from society I was also protected from society. Readjusting is traumatic, not only because of the numerous stimuli that I am suddenly subjected to but the decrease in security. I almost always felt safe in prison, except when I was stripping, bending, and squatting for a guard after a visit. For the most part I never dealt with direct threats of violence, crime and accidents. Now I’m facing another set of elements, and I have resigned to do my best to keep myself feeling safe.

The transitional housing is surrounded by cameras on a well-lit street, and the security guard sits at the front door constantly. Nobody can get inside without being escorted by their guest. Interestingly, that setting has incited feelings of ambivalence. I feel safe yet somewhat caged. I’m looking forward to seeing how that’s gonna change when I move. One of my dear friends often jokes that I need to take the battery out of my back. I just laugh. Another friend often encourages me to sit still and reflect and meditate. My response is that I can reflect and meditate while I’m on the move because sitting still is not on my agenda. I only have a desire to keep moving. I used to think I was running from myself, but now I think I’m either trying to catch up or release decades of pent up energy. How long is it gonna take? I wonder.

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About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 


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