I have heard over and over again that people can’t change.
That, old habits die hard and that although life is full of surprises, people are constant and they will never fail to disappoint you.
This week I saw lots of change.Not huge monumental change but hard earned change steps, in the right direction. A remarkable effort of the human spirit.
When we think of change we always think of black turning white but actually it is in the gray where the work is hiding.
It is small acts, a “yes” instead of a “no”, or a “no- thank you” or just a “I don’t do that anymore.”
When my girls get out of Jail I hold my breath and I wait for them to contact me. Sometimes I contact them, we meet and I try to hold them. Hold them away from bad, the lure.
I offer them the world I know, the connections I have.
I try to lead them to places that can take them forward.
I have one young woman who graduated last year, she works for me very part time.
She is now attending college. A year ago she was incarcerated and had a vile temper. And here she is coordinating our monthly meetings and fighting to survive in college. We were so happy and excited for college, but alas it isn’t easy .Her family isn’t supportive, how can they be? They don’t know from college .She has no friends cause she can’t hang with the old ones and doesn’t fit in with the people around her.What happens when we change but the surrounding can’t take us in, or the surrounding is still so different, even though we have changed?We change, but were we are doesn’t change for us.
One of the most challenging girls form my last group is out.She had an attitude, rolled her eyes, would walk away and lie down on the floor frankly, she was annoying as hell.She joined us in the monthly meeting.“Her?” I thought, “Really?” What a surprise waited for me. She is so incredibly different. She is so committed to change her life, stay clean, and remove her tattoos.
I arrange a session at Homeboys industries whom I work in partnership with, I call to tell her the details.It is like I am talking to a completely different person.
"I am going to be someone” she says
“Thank you for helping me”
Truthfully –I am speechless, I feel a little guilty for judging her, and just astonished at who she is becoming.
When I talk to my college girl, she tells me of the things she wants to do, the habits she misses, and I tell her;“Sweetheart, I understand, but now at this point, if you get off the path it will be so, so hard to get back on”
“I know” she says, “and I’d hate to disappoint you Ms.”
I told her; “You would never disappoint me, I just don’t want it to be hard for you.Hold on and swim, just swim, there will soon be an island.”
Last week an old friend who lives in Europe -surprised me .We haven’t talked in a long time .
“Hi” she said.
“Hi, omg I haven’t heard form you in so long!!”
We catch up about our kids, life, blah blah .
It is quiet and she tells me she has been smoking A LOT of pot and she needs to stop.
“OK” I say
“This is hard” she says.
I tell her about my work, I am always surprised at the tools this work gives me. The lessons I have learned. I find myself quoting my juvie girls, I find that funny and amazing at the same time I hang in there with my friend for this ride ,and she says again and again .
“I got myself into this mess, I will get myself out of this mess”
I tell her what I repeat again and again in Jail.
“It isn’t about what you did, it is about what you do”
My dear friend is on the road to recovery .My college girls is swimming as hard as she can and we are right there with her cheering her on.And surprisingly ,the girl I least expected to turn her life around, and /or that I would stay in touch with, or even like for that matter ,is doing just that, and I have truly fallen in love with her.
There are so many surprises waiting right outside our door.
They don’t knock.They wait.
They wait, for you to open the door for them.
So don’t be afraid or anxious, open the door, let them in .
You never know what could happen.