What I want you to know, what I want you to remember and what you need to read when you are feeling at your worst, with nobody there, only the awful thoughts inside your head. Michaela, you dream, you fight, you love and you care.
When you first arrived to HMP Eastwood park, with only the clothes on your back, tears in your eyes and pain in your heart. Remember that pain, keep that as your absolute driving force for every single thing you do. Do not be consumed by this pain. Pain is power, your bible is power and you also love Tommy from Power!
The first morning when you awoke, in a prison cell. When you absolutely broke down, lay in that bed, with a stranger opposite you, already smoking and drinking from a blue plastic cup. You finally felt ready to face what was coming, then you got out of that bed and put on some prison issue knickers, because you had nothing. Then you broke down again. You had no idea what was going on and how much more, much worse, you would have to endure.
Remember, in a time of such distress, you saw a woman walking with a prison officer. Bandaged from ankle to neck. Even in your own darkest hour, you cried for that lady and thought about how could she possibly have been in a prison. That memory haunts you, I know. The corridor, the smell, the glazed over eyes and dribble on her chin. That was a moment, a realisation that everybody around you didn’t see that as a problem, or if they did, they didn’t mention it.
Christmas came and you had to call home, except, that wasn’t your home anymore. When your daughter asked you “Mummy, why aren’t you here?”. You lost your breath, your voice and your heart, in that very instance. In that second, you would have chosen a knife in the heart than to hear those words of your daughter. The phone was thrown down, you made it back to your cell, and remained there. As nothing. A number, in a cell, with a stranger.
A mother’s cry. The absolute worst. Hearing you mother cry when she had always been your ultimate strength. Soul destroying. In the words of your daughter and the tears of your mother, you stood there. Cold, empty, hopeless. As nothing. A number.
Gramps, he apologised in every letter, blaming his arthritis. When he walked into the visits hall, trying to hide his heartbreak at seeing you, in prison. It was visible, every single time. His girls were his life.
The naked truth, of humiliation. When you stood in a room, naked. With a prison officer holding your knickers, with her blue gloves on, or sitting on the loo, with a cup to piss in because your name was randomly generated for a drug test.
You got used to seeing broken hearted girls, you got used to things. Sounds, smells, eyes that hid a thousand stories and eyes that hid nothing. Blank. Empty. In your darkest hour, you were strong enough to pull through into the next day, the next week, the next year. You heard stories worse than any horror film you ever saw, you cried yourself to sleep, woke up in tears and you still got through the day.
Michaela, for every single tear that you cried, you matched them with laughter. You met your best friends in that hell hole. For every problem that presented, you fought and you bloody won. For all of the people that reminded you of how many people return, you didn’t. For every sight that broke a piece of your heart, you still have one. For every person that tried to quiet your voice, its powerful. For every person who ever hurt you, Michaela, they helped you. Be thankful.
Today, I need you to know how strong you are and remind you of times you have proven it. Strength is waking up daily, knowing its going to be a battle. But you wake up anyway. Strength, is leaving someone you love with the pieces of your heart that you have left, because they don’t love you. Strength is the guilt you feel for leaving for work at 7am and not returning until 7pm, because you miss your daughter, but you go to work anyway. Strength is not knowing where you are going, but travelling anyway.
You are allowed to wobble, to worry and to be weakened. You are allowed to start, stop and then start again.
Remember this. You are more than nothing and how amazing is it, that the only number you can associate with now, is your university student number. Hold the pain close, as a memory not a burden. No-body knows you, like you know you. Girl, you got this, I know you.