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Let’s Get Real! Truth Be Told program prepares women for release from prison

Did you know…

  • Truth Be Told has been offering programs in prison for 14 years!
  • We offer eight classes a week in two prisons and one jail.
  • We have 14 certified facilitators that are traveling to Lockhart, Gatesville, and Del Valle, Texas, in efforts to fulfill our mission:  transformational programs for women who are or have been incarcerated.
  • We have weekly Keep on Talking Empowerment Group conference calls for formerly incarcerated women.  The purpose of these calls: to inspire hope, empower the spirit, and connect with others who are committed to personal growth.   Local Toastmaster members offer their time to share an inspirational speech twice a month.

This week we will highlight our Let’s Get Real program.

Judy graduated with the fall 2013 Let’s Get Real class, and she wrote this piece in honor of her community for their graduation ceremony.  Judy grew to trust her community and grew faith in finding her voice and courage by trusting her community while being vulnerable.  Her vulnerability helped her to share painful parts of her story, and that helped her to release grief.  This process brought forth a freedom in her creativity and a sense of belonging.

Here’s what she wrote for graduation:

Let’s Get Real

by Judy (graduate of fall 2013 Let’s Get Real program)

 

From day one,

I didn’t know how to feel,

Wasn’t sure what to think

About this “Let’s Get Real.”

 

To feel the pain and fear in my heart

I knew that soon I would take part,

In the questions, standing tall,

Get back to life beyond these walls.

 

For them to know how I feel

Truth be told, let’s get real,

They refused to see the tears that were cried

The sorrow so deep, I have slowly died.

 

The pain that my loved ones feel,

Didn’t think we would ever heal –

But in this class, I’ve learned a few things,

That the ladies in Truth Be Told bring:

 

Think positive, set boundaries,

Build a support group in the community.

My life has now begun to heal,

Begun to love, to even feel.

 

The brokenness in my heart,

My life is sealed

My life has taken part.

Truth be told?

Yeah, Let’s Get Real!

 

Photo credit: Free Grunge Textures

Photo credit: Free Grunge Textures

This 14-week program was created in 2002 because of a request from an assistant warden at the Lockhart unit. She witnessed the phenomenon that is called “short timing”: It is common that when inmates are on their way out of prison that they began to show reactionary behaviors that are often self-destructive, due to the reality of being released, even when they’ve been model prisoners for years. There is fear of the unknown, and many prisoners know they will return to the same environment they left with little opportunity, support, or financial possibilities for a new lifestyle. There is the reality that many will be returning to older children who’ve been living without their parenting for a number of years. These realities can heighten emotions of panic, confusion, and depression.

The objectives of our program are:

  • Provide a safe community to express the roller coaster of thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
  • Gather each week, practicing honesty and integrity, with the willingness to stretch their comfort zones.
  • Practice meditation, journaling, and stillness, so that the heightened emotions can settle down and they can gain clarity in decision-making.
  • Identify and practice completing short-term goals.
  • Express a detailed creative writing project to employ a strong manifestation of their long-term goals.
  • Identify red flags, which are triggers, and make a plan for this occurrence.
  • Role-play scenarios that engage the confused and angry self versus the wise and balanced self, with the intention that this will set a memory in place for the times when over-reaction can be detrimental.
  • Introduce and identify how shame destroys, gaining insight to begin building shame resiliency

The bottom line is for these women to find love and respect for themselves and each other, with the ultimate goal to be a woman that makes a difference in the world for good and does not walk out of prison as a number and a statistic, but rather as a woman that is proud of herself.

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About MaryAnn Reynolds

Offering bodywork in the Austin, Texas, area at maryannreynolds.com. Blogging about wellness at The Well: bodymindheartspirit. Serving as a volunteer editor for the Truth Be Told Community blog.

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