By Margie Stone
When I accepted the task of writing this entry for the blog, I was faced with attempting to write about the changes in my life without feeling like I was bragging. As I sat at my laptop and attempted the writing, I figured out that there was no way for me to complete it without bragging. So as you read this, forgive me if it sounds like I am bragging! A life revised is exactly what it says: my life has been revised, by the grace of God and the people He placed in my life — from the organizations that touched my life both inside and outside of prison to the profession that I am currently striving to succeed in and the family bonds that have been strengthened.
First, I would like to write about the organizations that touched me seven and a half years ago. That’s right, this is how long ago I was in prison. The few organizations that come to prison facilities do so in hopes of helping people like me find their way back to productive lives in society. I am here to say thank you for giving me a new set of eyes to those that were placed in the GEO Lockhart Unit.
Truth Be Told was one of those organizations. Through the understanding of the 4-Cs (communications, community, creativity, and self-care) and the continued care of the Beyond Bars Program, I have been able to find my way to a meaningful relationship with society. I am in a place where I am able to give back what they gave to me — support, understanding, respectful listening, and most of all a nonjudgmental attitude. I enjoy being able to return to the prison facilities with Truth Be Told as a graduate in support of others and to plant those seeds of hope for their own lives to be fruitful.
It was through my relationship with Truth Be Told that I was introduced to Conspire Theatre and their work in the criminal justice system. In July 2013, I was invited to participate in a workshop. Without realizing this was to be a performance, I accepted. It was probably the most rewarding event I ever participated in. The event grew into a yearlong series of requested performances for the citizens of Austin, and from that stemmed a public television special about incarcerated women. I have been fortunate and blessed with the task of planting the seeds of hope for people with loved ones struggling with addiction issues or incarcerated due to those issues.
I have been successful in maintaining my sobriety, and I am proud of the five and a half years of living life on life’s terms. I completed an associate’s degree and received a license from the Texas Department of State and Health Services to practice as a Counselor Intern. As of this writing, I have completed the 4000 required hours of the internship, and I am studying to take the state board exam to become a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. I hope to be able to reenroll into college in January to continue my education towards a bachelor’s degree in social work.
I currently work in the system that incarcerated me. I am a Substance Abuse Counselor Intern at a Substance Abuse Treatment Felony Punishment Facility for probationers that are in court-ordered treatment. The environment is a tough place to work, but I truly love my job. Working in this environment with this population inspires me to grow as much as the people I work with.
The bonds have always been intact with my family, but the trust was destroyed by the time I went to prison. Today, I can say I am accepted by my family as a person of my word. The trust has been restored, not by me telling them I changed but by living life as an example that I have changed.
I was able to spend the last living days with my dad and grandmother, may they rest in peace.
I am able to be here for my mom since she is alone.
I am able to spend time with my beautiful granddaughters and have been blessed with a handsome grandson who is two months old. I am the grandmother of 11, but I do not have the pleasure of spending time with all of them due to the miles between us. But I love them all!
Life sometimes throws a curve ball, but how one copes with what is thrown defines their character. My 28-year-old son was placed in prison this past summer. It broke my heart, but I will do the best I can to support him through the journey God has selected for him.
I have the opportunity to practice self-care. I was diagnosed with lower back issues and a pinched sciatic nerve that is causing paralysis in my left leg. I am able to understand the limitations of my body’s abilities, and I am receiving medical care. I refuse to believe that I am unable to continue the mission of spreading the seeds of hope to others. I will overcome.
This is the testimony of a life revised by the grace of God and the organizations that I have been blessed to be a part of. It is being able to be a part of those organizations that will continue to inspire me to live life on life’s terms.