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Learning Through Teaching

Today’s post is from Elizabeth Wilkerson, a TBT graduate who participated in our On-Line Pilot Training Program this year. Since her release, Elizabeth has remained a loyal and active participant in our Beyond Bars programs. She describes here how she is continuing to use the Truth Be Told tools she learned while behind bars:

I was released from prison May 11, 2009 after serving a three-year sentence. You see, I was one of those people that thought this could never happen to me…well, it did. I was one choice away from making the right decision and I chose to drink and drive with my two-year old daughter in the car. I had a wreck, it killed someone, and I failed to stop and render aid. I still remember the sights, sounds and smell of that day and throughout the days of my punishment…and the words of Truth Be Told: “Your story is a gift.” What an amazingly powerful way to renew not only my life but the lives of my husband, six children, and all those around me!

Upon my release I became involved with the Beyond Bars program – I have been given the opportunity to speak publicly many times: a guest speaker at AA, at the Texas Legislature Hearing, held at the State Capitol in January 2010, and I have been interviewed by an Austin area news station. I have participated and completed the pilot program for facilitator training. There’s always been a fear within me of recidivism…only my return to prison entails teaching and learning from others. I have been able to revisit two prisons I served time in during those three years with no option of staying!

I’ve had the opportunity to see, experience, and listen from the other side as a volunteer. Hearing stories from the women in those moments was extremely powerful…hoping that they would see from my example that life can be good again and that there is hope. That’s my prayer…I practice this program not only within myself but also in all my affairs, especially with my family.

Being free has not been a bed of roses, at the low points I find myself dump writing instead of drinking (a practice of TBT I very gratefully learned) and at the end of it all, I know that I am responsible for all my choices. People come to me now with their problems and I respond in the language I learned from this amazing program…the best way to learn is to teach and it’s a continuous cycle.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read a little of my story and experience…I am so grateful to have this opportunity and believe that it’s a program for the incarcerated: whether behind bars physically or the ones that seem invisible that keep us confined within ourselves. Truth Be Told has been and continues to be a light to my path’s journey.

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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

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