a plea for kindness

Circle of Sisters

Circle of Sisters

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:


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,
and wives.

All I see is nothing

but drama, lies, hatred,
fighting, belittling.
Shall I go on – no,
because you all know what I mean.   Continue reading