‘We do change in prison’

From the May-June 2014 issue of News & Letters:

We change in prison

Chowchilla, Calif.—When I came here to prison 35 years ago, I was angry. I was hurt—physically, mentally and spiritually. I have fought very hard to become a person who lives with dignity.

Now, I have completed my GED, gotten a college degree and completed a lot of other vocational certificates. More importantly, however, I have become a person full of compassion. I have lots of it now, where I didn’t have it before I came.

I want my life to be a service to others. I want my story about my dysfunctional life to be a lesson to others, so they can avoid the mistakes in choices I made.

To have compassion, an open, loving heart towards other people, is healing. Don’t judge, don’t assume, don’t stereotype.

To become whole, you have to be honest with yourself, take an inventory, and figure out what made you a dysfunctional, hate-filled person. It could have come from various sources: abuse, rape, poverty, addiction as a way to deal with the hurt in your life. You need to be honest about it. Talk about it, not to re-live it but to turn it around to make it empower you to help others, too, get past their hurt, to realize that to share means you are not alone.

When you learn to ask for help you practice an open, loving heart.

Now I am facilitating Natural Healing Group. It teaches how not to suppress yourself by shutting down or medicating. It’s about talking it out, sharing with others in the group. I want people to understand that people do change. It’s a slow process, but it works! Don’t hold on to the hurt in your life. By sharing you can get rid of it.

I know who I am today—a loving person who would help anyone. All I need is a chance.

—F.G.

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