Breaking Down the Bars….literally this week on OWN. While a couple of inmates worked on crushing their own emotional demons, another stepped outside the unlocked gates. Lots of positive energy filled the episode as a few of the women found a way to breathe a little easier.
This week’s show opened the gates for Nicole as she was re-entered the outside world. As she pulled into town the first face she saw was the father of her children…and not on purpose. Memories of her son flooded back. She entered her new temporary home, the Wabash Valley Work Release program, and struggled with not only her nerves, but also her guilt. A simple dorm, showers that you don’t have to share and even washing machines…a huge step up from the barred walls she once lived in. Determined to make the best of it, she settled in. Her parents arrived with clothes, makeup and toiletries…all luxuries for their daughter. Her mother tried to focus on the positive and allow her daughter to believe that something good can come from all of this. With a new chest of goodies, Nicole was ready to start looking for a job…a requirement of the program. As she sat in her first interview, you could see her wanting to crumble into the chair, but she didn’t. When asked why she was in the work release program, she was honest and short…hopefully that will be enough.
Tiffany joined the episode with a smile…she was leaving prison in 90 days. She knew she needed to walk a fine line and now it appeared her “friends” were pushing her to cross it. On the verge of her being released, the last thing she needed was trouble. Dr. Covington attempted to address Tiffany’s anger issues in a little one-on-one. Tiffany opened up that her mother had shot her father in front of her when she was 4 years old. WOW! Tiffany’s mom, Penny, was in a bad relationship with her father. At the age of 17, he beat her and pimped her out as a prostitute. After repeated beatings, Penny shot him. Years later she brought it up to Tiffany and told her she was glad she had. As a young girl, Tiffany had no idea how to handle this. Penny shared with us that Tiffany’s father had planned to pimp his own daughter out when she was old enough. She felt she had to protect her girls. With her father’s death, her mother’s abusive relationships, being sexually abused by her brother (and not being believed), and then gang raped by 16 men at the age of 17…abuse has been a common theme in Tiffany’s life. Far more pain than any one should have to endure. All this bottled up emotion has created a violent and angry person who struggles to stay calm. Dr. Covington suggested Tiffany create an anger box. A box she can throw her rage into. Tiffany thought it was silly at first, but found herself using it. When someone or something upset her, she’d write it out and put it in the box…only to re-read them with a new, calmer perspective. It appeared she was really finding a good tool for her. THEN she was called to desk for a visit….she hadn’t had a visit in about 2 years. Afraid it was a joke, she excitedly made her way to the room to find her mother and children. After sharing she was afraid of losing her mother, Tiffany was ready to go home and watch her children grow.
Michelle joined the show today as she discussed her graduation for her AA degree with her case worker, Heather. Her mom, Demeta, has been distant since she was incarcerated. Aware that she was an addict, Michelle struggled with how she disappointed her mother and made poor choices. Her mother won’t accept her calls and she can’t help but feel fearful that she has been forgotten. Michelle was hopeful that her mother would show up for graduation. Dr. Covington spoke at the ceremony reminding the inmates that they made a mistake, but that they were not the mistake. It was inspiring for them to hear someone believe in them. As Michelle walked down with her diploma, she saw her mom and tears of joy flowed. They reconnected and even scheduled time to talk weekly. With her relationship with her mother back on track, Michelle felt positive about her future.
In all, emotional bars were removed for a few women this episode….I only hope they stay down!