As 2018 draws closer, many seem to be reflecting on the last 12 months and identifying goals and dreams for the year ahead. I never stick to resolutions, so I won’t even bother to make any. What I am going to do is write a blog today, on New Years Eve. For the moments in the next year that I may need some motivation, because even I feel unmotivated at times. Maybe unmotivated it the wrong word, deflated would suit better.
Dear Former Prisoner,
Are we ever ‘former’? I don’t think so, I don’t feel like my sentence is over. I don’t feel like my punishment is over. When I committed an offence at the age of 19 and now, as a 27-year-old woman, jobs can be snatched away from me with no back lash, I can’t attend school trips with my daughter because I have an unspent conviction and I have to spend time explaining to people why I am at University at the age of 27 because I am outraged and hurt by the way our prison system attempts to break us down and then send us on our way. Over and over again. All in the name of justice?
Its funny how a not so educated view believes that when someone is released from prison, their punishment is over. Surprisingly, I would guess that the people who say this, really believe that it is right for that to happen also. Of course it is right, but it does not happen. We then go on to live a life treading on egg shells, worried, nervous. We get used to hearing no, used to being ignored, if we had the courage to try and move on in the first place.
For every door that is shut in your face, I hope you knock again. If you can’t knock again, do everything you can to build your own door and when someone in need comes knocking, be sure you let them in.
For every ‘NO’ you hear, go home and add it to your list of ‘NO – one will stop me’. Cry if you need to, have a few days in bed being miserable, when you feel like all of this trying will never pay off, when you almost accept that this is now your life, a life you didn’t have a chance to choose, a life the system tried to force upon you. Cry it out, get up and go back for more.
For everyone judging you, drop down at their feet and praise them for being angels on earth and never making a mistake in their life. Or not. Never become that person, pity them. Challenge them. Never become them. Other people’s opinions about YOUR life, do not affect YOUR life, unless you let them. Find the strength to let them carry on, while talking your truth because regardless of other people, you have every right to do so.
For every idea that you have, that didn’t quite turn out how you imagined it to, never stop dreaming. Idea’s keep your mind active, one might pay off one day. Possibly the only think no-one can ever take off you, are the idea’s you create and possess in your mind. Keep them, work on them and if they don’t work, have some more.
For every time you wake up and think ‘I just can’t do this anymore’. Take a break. Look after yourself. To give your best, you have to be your best. Remember, when you thought you couldn’t do it, every single day, for two years in prison. Guess what, you did it. You keep doing it, and you will do it.
For all of the moments you are consumed with fear, breath. Use that fear to fuel your fire. Be scared but keep going. Please, keep going. Fear is what they want, it’s what they need. I lived in fear through-out my childhood, fear of being alone at night, fear of finding my parents dead, fear of people finding out who my parents were. I then lived in fear, in prison, every single day, and then I was released. Nothing at all was changed in a positive way, from the day I entered to the day I left. Nothing. That is a system, that does not work. Now, I fear that I may be destined to endure failure and failure. I hope not.
Dear former prisoner, for a life that has tried to break you, many times. There ain’t a single tear, ruining your make-up. My only wish for you, in 2018 is to live without fear.