Tensions flare. Personalities clash. Outbursts erupt. Judgements creep in. Kindness can be found in short supply when living in a close-quartered prison unit with 30-40 other women.
As facilitators, we sense the negative dynamics running between inmates before a word is even spoken. Only rarely will a writer storm out of the circle upon another woman’s entrance in order to make her personal protest obvious.
..which is why we at writinginsideVT have several guidelines, but one in particular that we articulate aloud at every circle: interpersonal conflicts from the unit stay on the unit. In other words, check your issues with each other at the door.
Yet in a surprising twist this week, one of our longer-term writers decided to address some of the backbiting in her unit head-on. (Our writing theme was kindness.)
Normally this kind of transparency might fall flat.
Yet in my view, CS did a masterful job of naming the negativity that has been swirling in her wing of the building, claimed her responsibility in it, and called her “sisters” as she referred to them, to a higher level of living together. On top of that, she read her piece with care and respect.
Nods, exhalations, and expressions of “beautiful” were the responses shared by all around the circle.
It is more than inspiring to witness these women coming to model healthy, mature behavior with each other.
Enjoy CS’s plea for kindness:
WHERE HAS THE KINDNESS GONE?
As I sit here among
the kindest creature
there should be of us all,
I sit in thought of how
wrong this really is …
Myself amongst these women,
we are supposed to be kind, loving,
nurturing and loyal mothers,
sisters, friends, neighbors,
All I see is nothing
but drama, lies, hatred,
Shall I go on – no,
because you all know what I mean.
I have finally opened my mind,
soul, eyes and heart
to these women who are
made fun of every day,
who are abused, who are hated
for no reason.
What shocks me is the same
person who is making comments
is actually saying the same stuff
she sees and feels–about herself.
Instead of hurting one another,
this here and now is our time
to rekindle the burning desires
every one of us used to have
in our hearts, who have been put out
by those who have hurt us!
This is our time to shine.
Instead of looking down upon
each other, we should
walk hand in hand, heads held
high ‘cause not only are we supposed
to be kind, but we are all survivors
in one way or another.
For we are all sisters in God’s eyes,
yet we are saddening Him
by hurting each other.
Women among me, please
be proud, strong and alive.
Please find your voice and
be heard like never before.
‘Cause here and now is our choice
to do something for our futures.