What comes up

Posted: April 2, 2010 in prison, general, story, teaching, writing
Tags: , ,

This month marks two years since I started going into the prison. My silence here on the blog lately might give the impression that I’ve run out of things to say. I haven’t. Sometimes the work at the prison simply feels like work I need to do quietly. Processing internally things like guys going to the hole, disclsoures about their lives before prison or even while in prison, funny moments, frustrating moments. I come home with thoughts and notes and words I want to post here and then I don’t because I’m still working it all out in my head–trying to make sense of a system that so often makes so little sense in so many complicated ways.

Tonight however, I’ll write this…I’m am surprised at times about what comes up for me while I’m up there. We always do an “opening question”. A go-around-the-room-and-introduce-yourself-and-answer-one-question moment (an activity which I usually hate having to participate in, but always look forward to up at the prison). Tonight we were discussing shapeshifters–those people in our lives and in our writing who change form and personality, who are difficult to pin down as to whether they are friend or foe–and the question was to talk about a time when you trusted a shapeshifter.

I found myself talking about my ex-husband. My highschool love and the man I was married to from just after I turned eighteen to just before I turned twenty-one. It has been almost ten years since we divorced, and I don’t nearly think about him as often as I used to, nor do I fear him the way I once did, but tonight that time of my life came rushing back and not necessarily in a bad way (though not necessarily in a good way…I don’t quite how to describe it). I thought about who I once was and what I once needed vs. where I am now and what I understand about my needs and how to meet them. I remembered the craziness of that time and was thankful for the relative calm in my life now. I thought about always trying to catch up with my ex–which his constantly moving agenda, his double-speak, his ability to confuse a girl who was otherwise an intelligent human being. That treadmill I was on of trying to please, trying to be perfect, always trying to adapt.

Why write any of this here? Because it is important for me to say that I do not only go to the prison to teach, but to learn. Perhaps that’s why I’ve been quite on the blog–because I feel like I’m in a new stage of learning from my time there. Asking myself why I go? What I want out of it? What am I being taught? What do I still need to look at in my life? What comes up for me in the discussions? Is this selfish? When I’m supposed to be there to give? Probably. But selfish in the right ways–hopefully. If we aren’t learning about ourselves as we try to teach others…well, that’s where I’m at–figuring out the rest of that sentence.

Tonight I looked back on my life, but with a new perspective and I saw my ex and my marriage as I should now that the trauma of that time has long passed, saw it as a part of my on-going journey. Which is, of course, is the very thing we go to the prison to teach. Life is a complex journey full of characters and stages and as you move through each one you grow. And that’s really the only option we have–even those of us locked behind barbed wire and cell doors–to keep growing.

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