Free from unworthiness.
Free to achieve.
"The first time I felt free was the night I was arrested."
The first time I felt free was the night I got arrested. I felt like I had been rescued, like a burden had been lifted, because I knew that it was the last time I was going to get high.
When I was introduced to cocaine at age 26, I got hooked instantly. I had no inkling of the damage that it could cause. It gave me this warrior-like feeling, like nothing mattered, a false hope, and I held on to this hope for a very long time. I couldn’t shake it for nothing. I was on and off drugs for 15, 16 years. I was often suicidal, had no sense of purpose. I never went a full year without finding some moment of clarity in my life, in saying “I don’t want to do this.” But I wasn’t whole, I was still feeling unworthy, so it always trickled back to my doing the same thing.
The next time I was rescued was in 2014 when my Mom and my sister passed. We were close, and it was hard, so hard. My Mom stood by me even at my worst. I knew then it was a turning point I had to make. I only had four more years and they were not going to be here when I got out. They were my son’s backbone, so if I came out of prison messing up, it would be a bitter end. I got my faith in the right place. I didn’t have my faith in the right place before that. I always believed, but I didn’t trust Him the way I‘m trusting Him now. It was in this moment of clarity that I realized I had been rescued again. As painful as it was to lose them both, I don’t know how I would have handled my Mom and sister passing if I’d been on the outside at that time.
I’ve always had a relationship with God. I did a lot of praying, a lot of Bible Study, a lot of listening to religious things on the radio when I was in prison. But I knew I needed a lot of forgiveness, and I had a lot to forgive. Just recently, I think right after I took the Forgive for Good class, was I able to start forgiving and letting people know exactly how I feel. I can’t really identify why my father treated me as he did, so much verbal abuse. Only thing I know is that I did a lot of writing about it in prison. So, I was able to forgive him. Because it wasn’t physical abuse, I don’t really think he knew the damage that he was doing. I’ve read about verbal abuse, that it can be worse than any. It’s a scar you carry with you. It crushes your soul.
All I ever wanted to be was free on the inside. Every morning when I wake up, I’m so thankful that I am free from the prison walls. Free to be able to walk around and just enjoy the creation that God created. The other day, I posted a container of Breyers Vanilla Bean Ice Cream on Facebook. It was my mother’s favorite ice cream. It was good and hurtful at the same time, because I would have loved my Mom to have seen me clean.
All my life I wondered what my calling was, what was my passion. I knew that it would involve people. It was six months prior to me coming out when I got that job at the Women’s Center and saw the joy on people’s faces just for a simple smile, or simply to say, “I love you.” I knew I wanted to do that.
Today, I have gratitude for where I am. I was so determined when I got out that this was going to be a success story. It has been six months. I still focus a lot on “what if.” But I know I’ve been held. I’m in love with Jesus. I love spending time with Him and I have a church that is awesome.
It took me going through what I went through to realize that in his own way, my Dad probably did love me. And, members of my family have changed their perspective on me, owned up for things they once blamed me for. Forgiveness has happened between us. That is freedom.
My sister says that everyone doesn’t need to know I was in prison. I say, yes, they do need to know where I got free. In every job interview, I tell them my story, everywhere I go. Deliverance was me being in prison. That’s when God freed me from everything. So how can I be ashamed of where he brought me from? You did that much? Yes. You got that joy? Yes. I was way free before November 5, 2018.
Michelle is the mother of Tyrrell, who is now 23 years old. She works as a Peer Support Specialist for Aspire Supportive and Counseling Services. She loves to read and learn ... and wants to share that God has allowed her to turn her mess into a message and her test into a testimony and brought her from the pit to the palace. To God be the glory!