Thank you for visiting. The blog has been discontinued. Please check Resolana’s website (www.resolana.info) for current information and look for a new and improved website to be rolled out this winter.
Resolana volunteer Stephanie Walker contributed this post as the second of two posts about forgiveness that she wrote on her blog,www.AcrossTraditions.com.
The last post considered whether true forgiveness requires us to tell the people we’re forgiving that they are forgiven. The question arose out of a conversation with women in the county jail, and they shared several thoughtful observations.
One said that telling the person who had wounded her that she forgave past wrongs was an important point of closure to her painful past. What if the person who did wrong is dead, someone pondered. How do you get closure and healing then? One inmate created a memorial on paper to signify her forgiveness and peace with the past. It served to remind her that forgiveness was the demarcation between a past in which her choices were limited by her woundedness and a present in which she is free to choose who she wants to be. The memorial provided closure and healing without facing the other in person, something appreciably more difficult when one is incarcerated. Another inmate hoped that forgiveness would be a way to hold onto love, even if there was no way to hold onto the abusive relationship. There was also discussion about what to do if the forgiven person doesn’t have the capacity to receive forgiveness. Initiating contact with a violent abuser deeply mired in denial and blame, for example, can compromise one’s physical emotional safety.
This question comes up every time I lead a forgiveness workshop, and here’s my answer. No. You don’t have to tell the people who caused you harm that they are forgiven. Forgiveness is not a simple intellectual decision. Holding a grudge is sometimes described as eating rat poison and expecting the rats to die. As logical as that sounds, forgiveness involves more than logic. Resentment has tentacles that reach deep into our emotions and psyches. The tentacles wrap around our sense of fairness and cling tightly to our desire for accountability. The process of extricating them in forgiveness is a journey, and the journey most certainly takes longer when the offender lacks sincere remorse and has made no effort to amend past wrongs. Previous posts have described the process in five steps to forgiveness. When people ask me whether they have to tell, I encourage them not to worry about that but simply to take the next step on the journey. I promise that the question will look different at the end of the journey than it does at the beginning.
The truth is once resentment has truly been released–when we have let go of what we hoped for but never came to pass, our claim to hold the other to account, possibly trust or even the relationship itself–we care a lot less about what the offender thinks or knows. That’s because the process of forgiveness takes the offender and what he deserves out of the center of the matter and puts our spirituality there instead. When we can honestly say we care more about our own spiritual reality and our personal relationship with God than we care about what our offender deserves, we are on the home stretch to forgiveness.
Join the conversation. What difference has forgiveness made to you?
Resolana volunteer Stephanie Walker contributed this post as the first of two posts about forgiveness that she wrote on her blog, www.AcrossTraditions.com.
“Do I have to tell the person I’m forgiving that I have forgiven him?”
That sense of justice or fairness is, ironically, what can help us break through a stubborn case of resentment and be free to forgive. When it seems our offender lacks appropriate remorse or is not suffering the consequences he deserves, we can take a cue from Sister Helen Prejean. She was the nun behind the movie Dead Man Walking, and movie trailers quoted her saying, “The question is not whether death row inmates deserve to die. The question is whether we deserve to kill.”
Like Sister Helen, instead of focusing on what my offender deserves, I can take a cold hard look at what I deserve. No one escapes emotional wounding of one kind or another, and for all of us, those wounds impair how we treat others. My first response to an angry friend cannot be reaching out in compassion if my first response is protecting myself. Only one can be first. In ways that are subtle and blatant, the injuries we sustained get tangled up with the injuries we inflict on others. In forgiveness, we cannot escape looking honestly at both. When I take a searching and fearless look at the ways I allowed my wounds to impair how I treat others, I come into awareness of the forgiveness I need. This is not victim blaming. It is control claiming.
Whether you think of this inner inventory as taking responsibility for the footprint you are leaving in the world or as healing your personal relationship with God, it is a spiritual exercise. Take your offender out of the middle of the situation and put your spiritual reality in the center instead. It is the ultimate liberation to see forgiveness not as a response to what an offender deserves but as a response to the grace we have received.
Join the conversation. What frees you from dwelling on what your offender deserves?
Resolana is celebrating one year as Dallas County Jail’s first dedicated program tank — since April, 2011 we’ve been providing programming in a dedicated pod of 64 women that’s separate from the general population.
We had a special musical performance at the jail led by Melinda Wood Allen a gifted local singer/songwriter to celebrate. The workshop was a profoundly inspiring session for women who are working on recovery and change.
CW33 filmed part of the celebration. Here’s the video.
Bt Kacey C, Resolana participant
Never again do I have to ask permission to use the restroom.
Never again do I have to hear – “Chow time, Count time, Laundry, Commissary.”
Never again do I have to stand in line for a tray of pre-packaged food.
Never again do I have to buy food items off a cart that cost too much for too little.
Never again do I have to wear ill-fitting clothes – panties too big, bras too small,
And socks that just don’t seem to fit at all.
Never again do I have to sit with my fingers crossed hoping to hear my name
Called at mail call.
Never again do I have to miss my family.
Never again will my mom have to ask herself – “Where did I go wrong?”
Never again will my child have to ask – “When is mommy coming home?”
Never again do I have to do any of these things – unless I choose to do the
things that got me here in the first place.
By Alejandra Aguirre, SMU student and Resolana volunteer
Working at the Dallas County Jail with the women has opened my eyes more than any other community service project I have done. While working there for about two months I created relationships with some of the women and as they continued to come to the classes they begin to open up about their personal stories . I was given the opportunity to volunteer at the jail with the women through the Resolana program . This program seeks to empower women so that the cycle of incarceration may be broken.
From what I saw, this program truly affects the women inmates in a positive way as they are able to change their lives while inside a jail cell . Even though the United States seeks to better society by putting criminals and offenders in jails they will eventually get released. Once they are released, they return into the cycle of bad behavior. As the creator of Resolana, Bette Buschow states, “Our society warehouses individuals and we don’t teach them how to return to society.” Resolana not only empowered those women with whom I volunteered, it also empowered me and allowed me to see human rights in a new light. As the Dallas County Jail continues to increase the number of women who are incarcerated, they continue to ignore the real problems these women face out in society.
My personal experience at the jail was amazing. I was shocked to see so many women in need of outside human contact. The first day I was there I was intrigued by how friendly the women were to me. I did not expect to meet mean women who would be careless like in the movies. However, I was not expecting women who were just like my mother.
This is what impacted me the most. I saw my mother in many of these women and I thought to myself how easy it could have been for me or any of my women friends to end up in jail like these ladies. After all, most of these women had grown up in undesirable situations where no one had guided them to have a better future . In that sense, if I had not grown up with the parents I have and with the parenting they gave me, I could have been in their shoes. To this day, this thought fills my mind and every time I volunteered, as I went through four separate guarded doors all I could think was how granted I take my freedom.
Not only did I teach the women about myself and how they can have a better self image of themselves, I also gained so much. Every day I left Resolana feeling fulfilled
and accomplished because I knew that I was making an impact in the women’s life . Even though I was not advising them or hearing their complete story, I felt that my presence allowed them to continue to stay sane and realize that they are no different than free women. Whenever they walked into the classroom the only physical
difference I saw between the women and me was their green stripped uniforms .
The other differences between them and me were that I was lucky enough to have someone keep me out of trouble and out of the life circumstances they had had . The Dallas County Jail system is definitely broken and as more women continue to enter it, they are not creating a solution to their problems. The jail is simply hiding what they believe to be the problems of society. If the Dallas County Jail really wanted to fix the situation that these women come in, they would have a Resolana program in every jail pod .
March 12, 2012
It is so wonderful to hear from you and really enjoyed our talk. Sorry I’m just now getting back to you, but I’m looking for a job and doing some work out of the home helping some friends with their businesses keeps me busy and that’s a real good thing and oh yes the Grandchild keeps me very entertained and I’m loving every second of being clean and its gets better day by day and my worst day clean is still better than my best day high . I can never thank Resolana enough for being one of my most valuable stepping stones . Please send my love to Lesley and Twiliah and also to the Pod Officers.
Thank you Jennifer for taking the time to let me know I am not forgotten and that Resolana is and will always be a huge part of my recovery.
By Annie Montgomery, Resolana volunteer
As a twenty-something who recently entered the workforce, I unfortunately don’t have an abundant source of money from which to donate to my favorite causes. That’s why I’m delighted to find that Resolana has made it easier for me to support its work in my everyday life. Not only can I support Resolana through my grocery shopping at Tom Thumb and Albertson’s, but I can also do so through the GoodShop and GoodDining websites.
With GoodShop and GoodDining, a percentage of my spending automatically goes to the charity of my choice each time I use my pre-registered credit card. I certainly had reservations about signing up for the service: identity theft has made me wary of any sites that ask for my credit card information. But due to the fact that GoodShop and GoodDining have been recommended by reputable resources such as the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle, I felt that little risk was involved with using the service.
By simply signing up, registering my credit card and registering Resolana as my charity of choice, I can ensure that a certain percentage of my spending goes to the non-profit. Through GoodDining, I have found numerous participating restaurants near my home that will donate a percentage of my bill to Resolana each time I use my credit card. With GoodShop, I can shop online at hundreds of stores including Amazon, Apple and Target while also donating to my favorite cause. Both are simple ways to fund Resolana without spending an extra cent.
Some exciting new programs have developed to help non-profits like ours raise funds through the everyday actions of our supporters.
Here is how you can help:
Shop online. GoodShop.com works with more than 2,500 retailers (including Amazon, Gap, Target, Staples and Macy’s) to give a percentage of almost every purchase back to Resolana. In addition, GoodShop lists more than 100,000 coupons so that shoppers can save money and do good at the same time! GoodShop currently works with more than 102,000 charities and schools.
Dine out: GoodDining.com works with more than 10,000 restaurants across the country and each time you dine, up to 6% of what you spend is donated to Resoalna. Again you will be sent coupons to restaurants.
Search the Internet: GoodSearch.com donates about a penny per search to the charity the user designates. It’s powered by Yahoo so users get great search results! Together with GoodShop, GoodSearch has raised more than $8 million for charity!
We have registered Resolana with these sites, so explore any of these sites to begin raising money today!
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself (marital status, # kids, employment, education)?
Before I was incarcerated in “Lou Lou” as we call it, I was newly married for two short years, and I had two sons biological (my oldest 8 and my youngest only 6 months old) and two step daughters (my oldest 13 and my youngest 3). I worked as a independent optician for 3 years. I graduated from Grambling State University with a Bachelors in Business Management in 2004.
What brought you to jail (if you’re willing to have some of that made public)?
I was arrested on August 11th, 2010 for a first degree felony fraud charge. Because of the amount of fraud I was charged with, my felony was the highest the state could charge under capital murder. The minimum amount of time was 15 years because I had a prior background. As odd as it may seem I can freely explain this today because I know all of my mistakes or learning experiences have made me and continue to make me the woman I am; and inspire to be one day!
Unfortunately, being arrested August of 2010 was not my first time being in legal trouble. I had never been on probation before, but I had been to prison once and beat several federal and state fraud cases before with high powered attorneys and grace I can’t explain. This was not my First Rodeo. But as God lives this was my last! It’s almost hard to swallow the number of times I’ve been arrested. But for the first time when I was arrested in August 2010 I was unable to bond out. I was devastated. Every other time I bonded out but this time I had a parole hold Blue warrant placed on me and a one hundred thousand dollar bond. Even when I instructed my family where to obtain the $10K to bond me they couldn’t because of the parole hold.
So I sat in Lou Sterrett forced to face myself and the 10 years of in and out of the legal system that I had put myself through. There’s nothing like being in a situation that hurts so bad you feel like death is a privilege you can’t afford; but living is that much more painful. My thoughts rested on… “I did this. I put myself in jail again while my kids and husband (this time) scrambled to pull life as they knew together”. I thought of killing myself often. I didn’t understand myself, why I continued to screw up no matter how many people believed in me, no matter how many opportunities I was afforded. I still reverted back to fraud as my way out. For ten years fraud was always a way of life for me. My thinking needed to change I knew. But how? I prayed one simple prayer that I still say today “God change me, save me from me”.
How did you come to participate in Resolana?
I first entered Resolana in September 2010. I was in a regular pod and I would spend all of my days on my bunk reading and praying. God never left me; I am so grateful for that. I heard first about the education pod that had openings to take computer classes and gain a Microsoft certification. I was convinced I would not be in jail long, because of course I hadn’t been long in jail ever before. So I figured I’ll go to the education pod and at least be surrounded by other inmates that wanted to better themselves. Any one that’s been to jail before can tell you, some of the conversations that take place in those regular pods can be very depressing. All the war stories, oh, they can get gruesome.
So I was moved to the education tank and began computer classes. Being able to use the computer and dive into work was a great escape for me. The only problem was work always was an escape for me. I didn’t have to face myself as long as I was working alot. I did the same thing in Prison. I worked my assigned job and took college classes. I began focusing on working out and feeling better about myself and I once again began to fool myself into thinking “I am okay”.
Several of the girls in the education dorm were going to the Resolana classes in between computer classes. I asked them how to get in and they told me to drop a form. So I did. I honestly signed up for Resolana to stay busy. I just wanted to not have to face me; the real ugly me. I was in for a huge surprise. What I thought was going to be another series of classes to keep me busy turned out to be God answering my prayer. He was starting what would be a 8 month journey to save me from me.
Tell us about your experience with Resolana and how it impacted you. What would you say to an inmate recommending Resolana?
My very first class was a class with Lesley Mohney. I think it was called self work or something like that. I sat in that class and laughed and forgot for just that hour I was in jail. Lesley was so loving and she made me feel like she cared –. I mean truly cared about me and where I was mentally. That was a first for me. After the class was over I went back to the dorm excited about the next class. We had so much fun at the first one I went to I thought they were all going to be fun.
My next class was “Seeking Safety” with Ms. Carole Carsey. The topic in this class was PTSD and the common patterns of PTSD. As I listened to everyone read the material I tried my hardest to hold back the tears but they just wouldn’t stop flowing. I cried the entire class. I remember clearly the one section that stood out to me was about how PTSD is often present with people who have addictions. Did I have PTSD? I mean I had been diagnosed with PTSD before because of a rape I survived years ago and my parents dying of AIDS when I was a child. But I just chalked it up to the doctors being quacks.
Was I an addict? I never did drugs a day in my life. Addicts were only people who used drugs, right? I couldnt sleep the night after the class. I remember just laying on my rock hard bunk muddling back and forth in my mind as tears wet up my make shift pillow. With more seeking safety classes I came to a truth that set me free. I am an addict. The Bible says the “the Love of money is the root of all evil”. I loved money; I am addicted to shopping and the facade of being successful with D&G pumps and Versace hand bags. No matter what I had to do to get these things the fact that I had them made me “somebody”. I was no better than the drug addict who ignored there children to get high. I ignored mine to shop and work so I could shop. I never prostituted my body but I prostituted my mind and God given knowledge to attribute to the next money earning scam.
Truth… I learned in Resolana in those hard tan chairs, I am an addict and I have PTSD. The way I coped with my PTSD was to do my addicted behaviors.
To the inmate considering Resolana… Girl go! Don’t fall victim to your fifty million excuses. Yes, it will be change to move pods and leave the people you may have gotten close to. But in the end: Now is the time to allow God as you understand him to save you from you. The volunteers of Resolana love you even if they don’t know you. And get this: they love you and don’t expect anything in return. They’re the extension of Gods arms at DCJ. If you’re tired of life being horrible, the change starts with You! So sign up today and I’ll read your story later on in the Resolana newsletter!
To the Funder wondering if they should support Resolana…I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the many statistics of recidivism. Only a small percentage of women don’t go back to jail after being released. It’s a destructive cycle that affects children, grand parents, siblings, aunts, uncles the list goes on and on.
BUT Resolana is striving to stop the cycle. It’s not an easy task by far. As a former recidivist I can boldly and honestly say they helped me realize the core reason for my destructive cycle. That is what I needed to stop it. The best analogy I can think of is: when I garden, I always try to pull up the weeds at the root. Sometimes my arms feel like I’ve had a work out afterwards, but when I pull the root, the weed won’t come back. But after I’ve pulled the root, I must then fill that hole with good soil. Resolana helped me acknowledge many weeds in my life and together myself, Jennifer, Carol, Lesley, Heidi, and Roslyn (just to name a few) all put in the woman power to pull it up. Daily I still use alot of the tools they taught me to
fill the hole.
Your support of Resolana will help many women just like me, (and their children, husbands, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles) STOP the cycle. Just know you’re not just donating to another great cause, you’re donating to a weed pulling, hole filingl-in organizationof women helping women to live life as whole women (LOL).
Tell about what happened when you were released from DCJ — where did you go for help and what have you accomplished since your release.
I was released from DCJ in May, 2011. I was there for 8 almost nine total months and upon my release, I had to comply with all the stipulations of Probation and the demands of being a mother, wife and business owner. So I made sure to took care of myself first. Being released with this new found truth is scary and the steps you take can make you or break you. I was blessed to find a sponsor before I got out so I stuck closely to my sponsor in Debtors Anonymous I went to alot of meetings and bounced all of my major decisions off of her.
I also reached out to DARS and SBDC [the Small Business Development Center] of Dallas to receive help with getting my business back on track. I was blessed that it remained alive while I was gone. DARS helps people with disabilities with work related issues:. PTSD is a disability! SBDC has a program strictly for the ex-offender. It was a daily grind, but with the grace and favor of God, I did get my business back open. I had the opportunity to hire one of my fellow Resolana class mates upon her release from prison to help me run my shop. I have recently had to scale things down again because of my high risk pregnancy, but I’ll be back full blast when my new baby makes his grand entrance and we’re both recouped.
Before I forget to add this: one of the most important resources I accessed was my relationship with the God of my understanding: Jesus Christ. Alot of times, we addicts get in jail and grow so close to God, but then we exit and forget Him. I daily still struggle with this, but I feel my life is changing for the better mainly because I try to maintain a similar devotion time with God now as I did when I was in Jail!
While taking one day at a time in getting my business back on track and taking care of myself the addict, I also reached out to a counselor who used to bring parenting classes into the jail: Heidi with the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Heidi comes to our home and meets with me and my husband once a week and my children one day a week. She has been counseling us weekly now for 10 months. She counsels us on marriage, communication, budgeting, parenting and much more. We even talk about how to potty train a very stubborn two year old.
I am so grateful for the resources I was exposed to in Resolana.
Any further reflections related to your experience in jail, Resolana or reentry?
Reflections: I don’t want anyone to read this article and think “man she’s really got it all together”. That’s far from the truth! I have to revisit the 12 steps often. I have to remind myself that I am an addict and I can never think or act like ”I’ve got this” because it’s at that moment that relapse is right around the corner. I can be really selfish and no matter how much I want the think it’s all about me, it’s not! So the one thing I hope anyone reading this article gets about me is that life is not and has not been easy but with God on my side, nothing is impossible! And no matter what you’ve been through, know that with God nothing is impossible! I am a living witness.
When’s your baby due? What are your future plans?
Here we grow again. Joshua Nicholas Wright is due April 18th. I don’t think Ill make it that long however! [Kirstin had preeclampsia and Joshua was born on March 27, 2012.]
My future plans are to continue to take things slowly! I am planning to continue to work as an optician running my shop after I have the baby and I also have some plans in the making to start a nonprofit organization for young girls. It’s always been my dream to own a children’s counseling and recreation center. That’s the long term dream, so the short term steps are just to get the foundation laid and go from there.