Desiring to find my future, I signed up for a class called “LIFE SKILLS/ RE-ENTRY PREP,” offered by RELEASED AND RESTORED (R & R).

I had heard of the organization while I was in Nebraska Correctional Center for Women in York, but did not sign up for their program at that time. It wasn’t until I came to the Community Correctional Center in Lincoln that I decided to take advantage of this class.

I soon learned that I must break the cords holding me prisoner to my past, letting go of all that had become ME.  As I reflected on the past years, I realized that to society I had become just a number and a statistic. I had melded into the invisible population of felons who live behind a fence like caged birds waiting to be free.

I would often daydream to pass the time away. My thoughts would wander while my heart was breaking in despair, thinking I was holding on to a knot in a rope, not realizing that it had wrapped itself around my neck anchoring me to the cares of this world. Unwilling to let go of me, it continued to choke the life out of me.

While in class, the R & R program mentors asked our group to write about WHO WE THINK WE ARE, to look beyond the person we present to them, to a potential employer, possibly even to ourselves. Looking inward for someone like me has been nothing but a stumbling block. It was in fact, one of the reasons that I kept relapsing into behaviors that return me to prison. So, I knew that becoming honest, down to the deepest depths of my soul, would be a daunting task. The mentors are driven by the desire for me to comprehend, and they motivate with a passion. They have a burning desire to help the individual with exploration, in hopes of uncovering the truth.

Driven by intrigue and  a strong need to shed some old dead skin, I accepted the challenge. I felt comfortable and even compelled to BECAUSE of the mentors who had been where I stand, who have been caged themselves. As I continue to listen, suddenly I see:  THEY HAVE FACED THE TRUTH OF THIER PAST.  I must at least try to face mine.

It did not take long for me to reveal the single most destructive lie that I’ve believed for half of a decade, a self-fulfilling prophecy that almost killed me.  “You’re  no good, worthless, and  unlovable,”  was what I was telling myself. I found out that whatever you put out into the universe will come back to you in exactly the same way, while passing up opportunities that the world has for you to see who you were meant to be…

I could choose to stay stuck, become unglued, or change.  This is where a pivotal change first occurred.  I believe this happened because I wasn’t sitting in a church full of people being told …God Loves You.

The difference was, someone that I began to trust, looked me in the eye and gently said, ”You can do this, I believe in you.”  Likewise, our eyes are enlightened when we look upwards toward the light  reflected from the sun, bringing into focus those things that were not clear before, but were hidden in the heart of our universe. The locks on our hearts are all different, however the only key to unlock the mysteries of life remains the same – Never changing always calling…

It came as a whisper at first, but I  finally heard the voice that I had been searching for, the voice that comes from deep within, along with my confidence, things soon became more clear.

Through the R & R program, I learned that it’s within the parameters that WE designate as truth: only reveal to others our closed minded ignorance. That destruction would be our final demise if SOMETHING OR SOMEONE didn’t change, and soon! I am right where I am supposed to be for the first time in my life. I am truly grateful for the time and dedication of these humble people who showed me a different road, other than the one I was on, the one that would have lead me right back to prison.

-Jill Curran