Last night, we read from Pema Chodron’s Taking the Leap:Freeing Ourselves from Old Habits and Fears. In chapter four, she introduces shenpa – the rut of continually being hooked by our personal habitual expectations, experience, the old story we tell about ourselves.
The dozen women gathered inside our stuffy windowless room listened attentively, then dove into their writing without hesitation. Several chose to start their writing with the epigraph: We don’t necessarily have to change our lives around to be writing or to be writing more.We must change the way we look at our lives. – Georgia Heard, Writing Toward Home.
Excerpts from two writers appear below. Their words tell of common struggles incarcerated women face while seeking something different from what they have known. To change, to become better people.
We Must Change the Way we Look at our Lives
I am hoping to change my life and who I am all together. I want to be a person who has feelings. I want people to look up to me. I need to be positive and unafraid of the future!
When I have to go, I’m scared I won’t be ready. I’m getting used to it in here and I am miserable. I want to be ready. . . I want to be ME! the one I remember without jail or drugs. . . I want to think clearly and think about my children.
Being here is changing me. Turning me into something I’m scared of. I don’t want this uneasy feeling all the time. I want to know what I’m doing before it’s done. That’s the scary part. I don’t care in these walls. My life I hope and pray will change when I’m outside of the wire. I am only me and I’m the only one who can change my life.
Negativity is a killer, it’s as fatal to our well-being as a blade to the femoral artery. Negativity leads to depression. In my case, depression led to drugs and booze – a lot of them. I’ve used since I was 12 . . . I won’t tell you how many years that’s been. THAT thought is far too depressing. . . I am a bi-polar, middle-aged, overweight, Godless creature and I seem to have no roots to solidify myself. I need to change, see the bright side of things. But this is no easy task. Here I sit with women I respect and admire, feeling like a leper. I know it’s crazy, but no one’s ever shouted “Hey, you’re sane!!” in a fight. But I digress. Changing the way I look at things is problematic. I’ve been a Negative Nancy for many, MANY years. I guess there are positive things in life. I just need to open my eyes and see them.