Thursday, December 09, 2004

Prison

For the last six months or so, I've been visiting the local women's prison on a weekly basis. I joined the Mentor Program there, and also helped start a weekly "you-know-what" meeting.

I was assigned to mentor "J", who, at first, seemed willing to do the work necessary to bring about that psychic change, but as a few weeks passed, I realized that it was all lip service. She always seemed to have an excuse to not attend the meetings, and I was never able to meet with her individually.

In walked "L" to her very first meeting ever in life. She wasn't sure whether she's alcoholic, but was absolutely sure that her life had become unmanageable. A few things that were discussed in that meeting piqued her interest, so she continued to attend the meetings, eventually becoming convinced that she is alcoholic.

She and I hit it off; we seemed to have a connection. One night, while we were waiting for a Corrections Officer (don't EVER call one a GUARD! God forbid!) to escort the inmates back to their dorms after the meeting, I asked L. how long she was "in" for. Five years, she said. In that nanosecond after she told me, I thought, "she must have done something REALLY bad." I had barely finished the thought when she offered up the offense. "Vehicular Manslaughter. I was under the influence." As she was telling me, I noticed that she was starting to cry, her voice cracking, her chin trembling, holding back the tears. I felt an overwhelming sense of empathy, getting a little choked up myself - I thought, "oh, the unbearable guilt! The shame! I can't even imagine!" I gave her a big hug and told her, "You're in the right place -- I mean the meeting!"
She agreed.

A month or so went by, and still no progress with J. I had to make a decision. Should I waste my time with someone who says they want help but doesn't demonstrate a willingness, or should I help someone who's willing to go to any lengths?

Because of Prison bureaucracy, I had to make another decision. Do I Mentor, or attend the meeting? I couldn't do both, given my time constraints at home, and the Prison's program hours.

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Last night was L's and my first "session". It went well. We just continued from where we left off in the "you-know-what" meeting. Hopefully next week she'll present to me her list of resentments and all that goes with it. We're already moving along.

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I had to share with her my crappy month - my crappy attitude. "Self" held me hostage. This was part of an answer to questioning the meaning of Step 3. Actually it's what Step 3 is NOT, because when at that step, we're too insane to really know what "turning it over" entails.

I had immersed myself in the "worldly clamors". I was more concerned about getting a better-paying and more satisfying job, about being appreciated for the work I accomplish at my present job, about being paid attention to by friends and family members, about wanting my family to not think I'm "nutso" because of my beliefs, and having "contempt prior to investigation" come to mind a lot, about trying to figure out what I really want to do in this life, and to be recognized and compensated handsomely for it -- in other words, I was concerned about ME STUFF. And feeling really, really sorry for myself, although I did not want to admit THAT!

On Tuesday I went to my homegroup wallowing in that attitude, and not really wanting to hear any more platitudes - "yeah, yeah, I've heard it all, I've said it all, this is just CRAP!" - until one woman reminisced about her early days, and how she's changed since then; one thing that she said hit me right between the eyes and knocked some sense into me - that when she came in she didn't know how to love. She has since learned.

The veil of self slowly lifted. I realized (and shared this, and also thanked that woman) that I have experienced both ends of the spectrum -- living life full of expectations; and living life full of humility and love and service. I thought of the unconditional love I've experienced since my children were born, and having that love spread out toward others besides my family. Giving to others happily, without EXPECTING anything in return. Being a channel rather than taking credit.

How did I lose it? Like I said - I let the "worldly clamors" become more important than taking the time to become centered and at one with All That Is. It's really easy to slide back into trying to grab from the outside instead of trying to extend from the inside.

Step 3 is making the decision. Step 11 is the actual "alignment". Something that I haven't been doing lately.

Now I know what to do...

5 Comments:

Blogger Rita Xavier said...

Great post, Carrie. You should continue writing in this vein. It is enlightening to those who love you, and is probably therapy for you. Your loving Mom.

December 09, 2004 10:14 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

Ummm...ahahaha...kisskiss from the niece who does not think and never has thought you are in any way a nutso and is KIDDING about the contempt. Also, she feels bad. And loves you. Keep writing.

December 10, 2004 3:49 AM  
Blogger Carrie Kelley said...

Don't feel bad, Allie! The "issue" of wanting to feel accepted by family members started a looonnnngg time ago, long before you were born! :) Probably before I was born, too... (hee hee)- Really - the thought NEVER crossed my mind that you actually were thinking, "oh, that Aunt Carrie! She's a nutso!"
We come from a family of self-proclaimed Atheists, or should I say, anti-metaphysical beliefs. Imagine the FEAR I have of expressing my views to the contrary! Love you!

December 10, 2004 5:56 AM  
Blogger Nancy said...

Beautiful post - I'm glad I found your blog!

Perhaps it's not such a bad thing when the "worldly clamors" are louder than the peace of All That Is? It is your life experience with the world, and your ability to move beyond it, that has given you the understanding and compassion needed to mentor those who are walking in your footsteps. How can you teach others to find that centered place if you haven't known the chaos that they experience? When the world breaks into your peace, honor it and recognize that it, too, is part of All That Is.

I admire your courage in sharing your thoughts and beliefs in the face of potential skepticism. Thank you.

Blessings to you and your family in 2005!

Nancy

January 06, 2005 11:33 AM  
Blogger Carrie Kelley said...

Wow! Thank you for that! You inspire me!

January 06, 2005 7:02 PM  

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