Free from people pleasing.
Free to be my own woman.
"Freedom looks good
I like freedom, and I wear it well! I don’t think that freedom really hit me until I was out the prison doors. Yes, there were a few little choices in prison, such as what religion to practice, whether to take my meds…but this is different. What I like about it is that I can go out whenever I want to go out. I have those choices. I have those rights. I’ve learned that freedom also does have its boundaries, because you do have to play within the rules. But I like having the freedom to play by the rules. Being free to speak, to share my experience, strength and hope with others on the outside is what is most important to me now.
Actually, not being willing or able to speak up is part of what led me to prison. I was too busy being on my high horse, trying to be something I was not, trying to please my mother and my sisters and not facing reality. I was estranged from them for a while. My family was so angry at me because there was really no reason I couldn’t have come to them and say that I was in trouble. I have a different perspective now.
I’m part of a group of women on the outside who served significant time in prison, over five years. We like to encourage anyone who has been incarcerated that you still have a connection that you can call. In believing in each other and sharing with each other, we can support one another because we know that none of us is trying to go back to prison. You can’t help somebody else if you’re not together yourself. We became our own little circle and we support women who are coming after us. We have a network on Facebook, and if we see something we don’t like that would jeopardize our freedom, we’ll unfriend you. I know that I will, because nobody…nobody is going to take my freedom.
Freedom doesn’t mean branching out on your own before you’re ready. Sometimes it means narrowing down, pulling back. It will come. Keep your relationships. If your family or trusted friends have gotten on your case about doing something, maybe they saw something that you can’t see right now. That’s all a part of growing into accepting your freedom. Sometimes you think you got it all together, but you don’t. Mary told me that, and I tell it to others because this was my experience when I was younger. I was trying to be that tulip that comes out early in the spring, trying to do too much too soon, before I was ready, when winter was still holding on. Be patient. There’s a freedom in that, too.
Freedom now is that when my gut says speak, I speak. I want to be like the older ladies at my church. They are able to say anything that is on their minds. I love that. When I’m invited now to speak and am asked to talk about what I’ve done, I tell people that I want to say more than just what I’ve done. I am going to talk about what transition is and what my sisters need.
I’m always growing, always looking for the next chapter. I wouldn’t have listened to any of this when I was younger. I couldn’t have heard it then. I was going to do my own thing, be my own person. Now I don’t let anyone dictate to where I should be or who I should be. I have redeveloped the inside of me. My Creator has been chipping away all the stuff I was putting in place to mold me to the direction He wants to take me. It is not for me to know where that is, just to trust and follow. It is faith. Having the true faith base of being spiritually grounded. That’s the part that I thank IPMW for in supporting Chaplaincy and JobStart. That is the ultimate freedom.
Lu significantly participated in Chaplaincy services within the prison and was a member of the Choir and Dance Team. She was a part of JobStart 30 and received her Certificate in Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School through Project TURN in 2017. She was a featured songwriter in the Conviction concert series and received mentoring as a resident of Redirection Home, Inc. She is proud to be a registered voter. Lu works full-time and speaks locally and is an active member of SSCC. In her free time she enjoys LIFE.
Photo from October 26, 2018 appearance on WUNC's The State of Things.