You are a mom, wife, entrepreneur, founder of an organization but most importantly a FELON.
What a joke right, no matter how many things I do right, I will always be a felon in the eyes of every person who does not know me in this society. No matter the effort, mindset or work I do to improve my life, the lives of other people; I will still have to declare “Felon” on any application I fill out but you know what….. I will not allow it to get the best of me. I decided a couple of years back that I would not let that label affect how I move day to day or the goals I set for myself. I realized that one experience in my life Is not enough to sum up who Amanda is.
In 2016, I returned home from a 24-month sentence. I was lost internally and in pain, confused on why I had to leave my 6-year-old son and give birth to my second child in a federal facility and had NO idea how I was going to address my life and be a successful woman. I was able to get back into my career and work for my previous boss which was the biggest blessing because the people I worked with knew me for who I was, my character, professionalism, passion for people, humor, my commitment to the roles in my life and not just for that mistake I made which 4 out of 4 people have also made. I returned home and that was it, mom and work mode fully turned on with no space or time to heal. I was full of different emotions and thoughts that I could not understand, I would cry on my way home from work and repeat the thought in my head “wow I’m a FELON, I went to prison”. When people would ask me where I was, I would stumble on my words and say I went to California to spend my pregnancy. I felt so ashamed of my experience. I prayed and prayed every day for the strength to face my reality and understand that it was part of MY life and journey. I tried to see where this would all fit in and why I had to experience something so traumatic BUT every single day, I became a little stronger and wiser.
Legend was still incarcerated when I got home from prison, I was a single 26-year-old momma of two trying to put this happy, tough woman façade on. I really tried to prove that none of this phased me but only God knew the anxiety, pain and struggles I was fighting inside. I had no idea that I was dealing with depression, but I was. I channeled all of it into work, fitness, extreme dieting, 12am workouts, reading, and being as busy as I could on my off time. Busy weekdays with the boys and out -and-about all weekend long with my two sidekicks, every other weekend we would make a 5-hour drive to Coleman Federal Prison to see daddy and eat vending machine junk food for 6 hours while playing some board games. It was a hectic 6 months, felt like I was still not free, our family was still incomplete, prison was still part of my life.
Legend and I stuck together through our words and thoughts which was the only option we had, writing 4-page letters, using tuna as payment to our prison friends to create gorgeous cards and drawings for each other and speaking success & happiness into our family is how we made it to where we are today. Those letters were our strength and the very beginning of manifesting & creating the life we have today. Our letters represent our family struggles, opened our minds to creating the future we wanted and are a constant reminder of all the things we would say needed to be addressed in the prison culture. If anyone knows me, they know that I do not let up on anything I say I am going to do.
Years passed from our release date, but the trauma of incarceration did not. It was engrained into our day-to-day life. Constant reminders of being a second-class citizen; so, as these issues and emotions kept arising from time to time for me, I decided not only to go deeper into my spiritual journey but look for a therapist who could guide conversations and identify the deep -down shit I was going through.
I realized early on when I came back home that there were not any resources focused on the emotional and internal side of dealing with being incarcerated. No one talks about the stigma or the lack of confidence and self-esteem you feel when you experience a MAJOR life changing event, especially one that stripped you of everything you know, love & are accustomed to. There wasn’t a support group in the halfway house for women to open-up freely and make plans for their next steps, just people making sure you were employed and handing off a percentage of your check. It took me years to learn that children of incarcerated parents are 6X more likely to be incarcerated themselves and it made no sense to me that programs and support were not easily accessible to ensure success in life and families, so I created it my dam self.
Stay Tuned for life changing topics, developing new mindsets, learning from other amazing humans and learning to never judge a person by one experience!!
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