I was in and out of prison so many times, it started to feel like home. I knew the drill. I knew where my next meal would come from. I knew I had a place to sleep and where I slept. I knew I had routine and at least some form of safety and stability. But out there is where the wolves hid in shadows just waiting for their moment. Out there was hard, uncertain, and a breeding ground for destruction. Whenever I would go back to prison, it was like a vacation for me. Some vacation, right? But in there were my sober thoughts and the knowledge of where I was truly at in life…nowhere. I was known for gun charges, theft, and criminal flight with multiple charges stacked up against me. My dad once said he would avoid watching the news because he was scared he’d see his little girls face staring back at him…again. I was that person. I lived a high-risk lifestyle, and I didn’t give a crap about anything or anyone. My addiction took so much from me. My job, my possessions, my friends, my family, my dignity. It took it all and I was left a sad little soul with dark hollow eyes, desperately trying to avoid what I knew needed to be done – look inside and heal.
Before coming to Rising Above, I went on another vacation (prison). This time, for 4 months. I had a lot of time to think in there and prepare for the hard work that awaited me. Recovery. I was so scared. I kept thinking to myself “how am I ever going to deal with all this shame and guilt?” I had to mentally prepare. “I have nothing to lose. Literally nothing to lose! Just everything to gain.” “I am tired of having nothing and being no one.” I had to come to the realization that it was not who I was hanging out with and who I was living with that was the problem. I was the problem and I needed help.
The turning point for me was when God entered my life. I was skeptical of being brainwashed by faith, but if anything, it has given me hope and a peace that is hard to explain. Once I started trusting God and putting my hope in Him, that is when the change started happening. I am left knowing that even if I get sent back to prison, God will be coming with me this time and He will guide my steps. For the first time in my life, I know I am loved, and I know that I am worthy. Yes, I did what I did, and I own that. But I also know I am forgiven! I will just keep trusting God to carry me up and up and up and give me the strength and courage to overcome any obstacle that comes my way.
I am Caitlin, and I am Rising Above.