I am going to say it again, prison changes everything.
You cannot possibly live through a prison experience unaffected by it. The questions you should be asking are: “Do I have any power to determine the impact prison will have on me and my family?” and “How will it change me and my family?” The short answer to the first question is, “Yes!” How you navigate through the healing process will determine the impact on you and your family. It is a HUGE responsibility, but the truth is, your legacy is at stake. The answer to the second question depends on your willingness to do something different. Are you willing to work hard despite the pain and judgment of others? If you are, then the answer to that question is, “Prison will make you stronger, happier, and healthier.”
If your husband is in prison, I don’t have to tell you about the devastation, hardships, and pain you are experiencing. You already know, because you are living it. I lived it too. But I also learned how to win the battles and build a new legacy for my family. It’s a legacy we have all worked for, and one we are all proud of. Prison doesn’t define who we are. It created the catalyst for us to be able to define our family mission. You have an incredible opportunity to create a brand-new culture for your family. I explained the process to get to acceptance and the choice you will make once you arrive at Acceptance. If you haven’t read my previous blog posts on each level of healing and the cycle of self-destruction, you can find them here. If you want to be empowered to overcome prison, you need to read them! This blog post is the start of the levels of the Cycle of Self-Improvement.
Will you choose to be a victim or a victor?
So far, we have talked about Shock, Denial, Anger, Grief, and Acceptance. The 2 choices at Acceptance are Victim, or Victor. I don’t know about you, but I got sick and tired of being the pathetic victim of a broken system and judgmental people who would never see me and my family as anything but disposable and less than. I decided to take charge of my life – no more excuses or reasons to continue to fail. I became a Victor. I can help you do the same!
The first level of the Cycle of Self- Improvement is RECOGNIZE. We hear and say this word a lot in our everyday conversations. But you probably are not aware of the power this action will have over your future. This is the first step toward healing and beginning your new legacy. This is the place where you must truly own your life story. Recognize is when you come to realize the tremendous influence you have on your own life. As you look at your past decisions and actions, along with the events in your life that impacted you and your decision-making process, you suddenly wake up to the fact that you CAN change the course of your life. You don’t have to live a life that someone else prescribes for you.
You have the power to heal from the trauma and to change your behavior so you can achieve your dreams.
Recognition includes owning your own mistakes from as far back as you can remember. Look as far back as you can go in your memory. You must identify all the things that have brought you to this place in life. You will begin to see how everything that happened to you had an impact on your life. Even though others have treated you unfairly, unjustly, or robbed you of our dignity, you cannot allow the trauma you have lived through to chain you to the past. The things that happened to you were wrong and painful. But those things do not get to dictate your future legacy. You do. Your legacy is in your choices and decisions. You have the power to heal from the trauma and to change your behavior so you can achieve your dreams. It is NEVER too late.
"Every choice you’ve made, had a consequence. It either moved you forward or backward." - Catherine Tijerina
Your past has impacted your decision-making. Whether it was conscious or unconscious, your decisions have led you to this moment in your life. Every choice you’ve made, had a consequence. It either moved you forward or backward. The sum of your choices and actions has led you to where you are right now in this exact moment in time. Recognizing that you have contributed to creating your current experience allows you to take control over the next step in your life. You can now make conscious choices which will bring the changes you want. Since you see clearly how you arrived where you are, you can design a plan to get to where you want to go. Coming to a place of recognizing this is an awakening to the realization that you can no longer place all the blame on others for your current predicament. Seeing the truth of your own contributions that have led you to this place is both empowering and painful.
Arriving at this difficult place of Recognizing has involved acknowledging many injustices and much trauma, so it is easy to keep the blame outside and focus on all the wrongs that were committed against you and our family. But if you, and the father of your children do not move to this place of recognizing that your own actions also contributed to getting you where you are, you will never see that you can do something different in your lives. You will remain blind victims, not seeing that you have the power to change your lives. Once you recognize the power you have to create your own story, you can use this terrible circumstance of incarceration and family separation to become better, to become greater.
In order to conquer the challenges you are facing, you must recognize your own failures in life.
The pain and suffering you have been causing others that has come out of your pain and suffering. Disappointment, grief, and shame are hovering and trying to keep the truth from setting you free. As you recognize your part in your own story and your power to change it, you will experience times of denial, anger, and grief. These emotions and thoughts are a normal part of navigating this first level of changing your story. It doesn’t mean you are back in those zones. You are on your way toward your freedom as long as you keep moving forward and you are focusing on how to achieve your dreams.
Once you are at the Recognize stage, you will need support and encouragement to feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.
As you recognize that you helped to create the experience of disappointment, of heartache and pain you are experiencing right at that moment in your life, you must also become willing to embrace it and see that it is time to have a breakthrough! The first step in your walk through Recognize is to admit the pain and suffering your decisions have caused your children. Acknowledging the pain that your children are feeling and experiencing right at this moment is a part of your and their father’s journey into becoming responsible and healthy. Fear no longer holds you captive. You can face everything and recover. The adage, “What doesn’t kill you, will make you stronger,” becomes true when you embrace it and use everything in your life to become stronger, resilient, and more determined to change your legacy so you can change your children’s legacy. I am talking to both you and your husband. In order to build a strong family, you must take this journey together.
You will know you have arrived at Recognize when you discover there is hope. You can see a better future. You are ready to do your part in creating it. You choose to not let your past define who you are, but instead, you let it qualify you for your future. You are starting to move into the next zone, Renew. You are ready to dream again!
You are on the greatest journey of your life. Every day you must make the decision that you will fight for your family’s future. You should celebrate the battles you win! You should also analyze the battles you lose so you are ready next time. Quitting is no longer an option; you are ready to finish this race!
I am rooting for you!