Today’s post is from Dara M. who shared her personal journey back in July 2012.
My son was 2 ½ and my daughter was 18 months old, when several people told me that I needed to think about placing my kids in foster care. The day I decided to take my kids to a foster home, they strongly suggested that I take a pregnancy test. In my mind I was thinking, “There is no way I am pregnant.” When I found out I was pregnant with my third child I was in disbelief. I went numb. This day was a really hard day for me, because I didn’t believe in abortion – abortion wasn’t an option – and I knew what I was about to do. I walked out the door of that place, and could hear my son screaming in the background, and the thought that I had another baby inside me was too much. I could only think about how I didn’t want to feel and all I wanted to do was get high. That’s what I did for the next 4 months and thank God I was arrested at five months pregnant with my first felony, this saved my baby’s life.
While in jail I had many meetings with a counselor from the foster home where my son and daughter were living, talking about my options and what was best for my children. At first, when the counselor would come to visit with me, I hated her. I was argumentative and resistant. After many talks about the options to give my kids a better life, I had a special visit with them and on that day I felt like the option of adoption was the best last gift I could give them. On June 12, 1992, the day I had my 3rd child, all three of my children went to the home that I chose for them to be adopted into. I was 19 years old.
IN THE LAST TWO YEARS I HAVE TOTALLY FOUND OUT THAT THE WORLD I DREAMED ABOUT WAS FOR ME TOO:
* I have been invited numerous times to come into the prison system and to juvenile detention center to share my experience, strength and hope.
* I have received thank you notes from the staff and from incarcerated women, about how my story helped them.
* I have gone to coffee shops with friends. This is a BIG deal, because I dreamed about this while incarcerated. I saw it on TV commercials, I heard the volunteers talk about going and having meetings and sharing about goals, or talking about nothing at all. I longed to feel like a normal person. One of the most memorable moments was when I was traveling to the Hilltop Unit with Truth Be Told, where I was invited for the second time to come and share my story to give women hope, the exact thing that I dreamt about, with the volunteers and we stopped at Starbucks. In that moment, I remembered dreaming of this very moment.
* I have been in college for the past year, working on my associate’s degree in general human services and I am part of PHI THETA KAPPA honor society, prior to this I had a 6th grade education – another dream, I never so thought would happen.
I love people and I trust people.
I was released from prison on November 16, 2010, for the 5th time. I chose to TOTALLY change people, places and things. I came to Austin, TX which was very scary for me, because I knew nobody; not remembering that TBT was in Austin. A couple of weeks later I came across Nathalie and Carol’s names and I called the TBT line. That was an important call, because one week later I was diagnosed with uterine cancer.
What happened next was a moment that opened my heart to believing that I could really trust people and that people wanted nothing from me. When I called to tell them I had cancer, Carol & Nathalie both showed up for me in a way that will forever be in my heart. This moment helped me to trust women.
They came to the transitional home that I was staying in and wrapped me up in a purple quilt and gifted me with a beautiful doll that I sleep with, and they prayed with me and over me. They spoke life into me and loved on me. Since then I have learned to trust people more and more and I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help. I have learned that I am worth loving, no matter what I have done.
Society says that I am not worthy, because of my past, and that I am untrustworthy and unlovable, but my past is NOT who I am, and today I am a 39 year old woman and I am NOW choosing to believe that nothing is impossible.
I so should not be alive. Many people in my life are dead and I lived worse than they did. I beat cancer and I now get that there is a reason that I am here. I have purpose now: I want to help people who have no hope, that society says are trash. I want to give them a reason for leaving. I now see that community is crucial to have a healthy and safe life. My community has believed in me, until I could believe in myself and without that belief in me, I would not be here today, believing in myself. The number of people who believed in me, when I could not believe in myself is AWE-FULL. TBT taught me that I needed a community; this was planted in me way back in 2000.
I am reminded about the tools that they taught me back then and I am grateful and I want to give back, which is why I am willing to show up when asked, including writing this blog entry.