Second Chances

Today marks my second anniversary since I was released from Federal Prison. I am so grateful for a second chance to be a part of society. I am especially grateful to all of my friends and family members who have helped me learn to live again after 18 years in prison. I might not be where I want to be, but I am not where I used to be. I am still a work in progress.

Last night, while taking my final exam in math class, I was moved to tears of frustration. I failed this same class last semester, and my fear of failing is almost overwhelming. I have an affirmation that created recently: “I honor myself for all that I have accomplished. I acknowledge the challenges I face. And, I release the stress that I often experience in lieu of my circumstances.”

I’m a college student, I work for the District Government, and I have developed a network known as The W.I.R.E. – Women Involved in Reentry Efforts. We are doing some amazing work. Still I find myself deeply saddened by my inability to overcome some of the challenges of reentry. I still have not secured safe, permanent housing. I still have not repositioned myself as the matriarch of my family. I still have not been able to create new, healthy relationships. I find myself drawn to my past. There’s a popular rap song entitled No New Friends that boasts of not needing new friends because the old ones are so loyal. All of my friends have been my friends since high school, or they became my friends while I was incarcerated. I hope that one day I will be able to open myself up to new affiliations so that my social life can grow.

As a result of my incarceration I have emerged as a very selfish person. I don’t want people to be demanding my time. I don’t want people commanding my energy. I want to be able to say No and have a clear conscious. I want to be able to do what I want to do, when I want to do it and just live my life. This attitude is not helping my relationship with my daughter. She hates me at times. At least that’s what she says. She feels like I’m still locked up, like I don’t add anything to her life. Even though I have attempted to give of my resources, beyond my means, I know now that I can never give enough. I can never undo the damage that was done, so sometimes I wonder, Why try?

The reentry process definitely demands that you accentuate the positives and count your blessings not your troubles. With growing appreciation, I know my tendency to succeed will continue to grow. I appreciate my freedom, opportunities, family, friends, and my ability to grow.

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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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