Eleven years ago I was just transitioning out of prison. I was just trying to get my feet back on the ground. I was going to school to be a dental assistant, working three jobs, living with my grandparents.

It was overwhelming. Trying foods that I hadn’t eaten in years. Being able to hug somebody as many times as I wanted to. Knowing I wasn’t alone. I really felt like I was just starting. I’d always been accountable to someone else or there’d been someone else taking care of me.  It was scary in a sense because I knew it was up to me. I had to be accountable to myself. There was no excuse anymore. It’s not the drugs. It’s not, “Oh I’m in prison.” Or, “It’s my family’s fault.” There was no excuse anymore. I’m accountable to myself. I’m an adult.

My rock bottom was when it hit me that I was doing 7 1/2 years for three felonies. That’s 90 months. That’s… I’m getting out at 27. I was a heroin addict. An addict in the all-around sense. I had left home by the time I was 13, and started using drugs and eventually heroin. By 19 I had been in abusive relationships and continued to use drugs to numb myself. Before I knew it I was sitting in prison.

At one point I just decided I can’t do this. I can’t be around these negative people because we are a product of our own environment. So I wrote a letter to say that I want to do different. I was asking for help for the first time in my life, being completely honest with the prison superintendent. He sat down and asked me why. And I explained to him I didn’t know what else to do I needed help and this is the only way I knew I could help myself was to ask for it. That was my second chance. In prison.

Felons, we have this “we never succeed” or “we’re going to fail” or “no one gives us a chance” attitude. I really had to sit back and look at myself and say, do I want to continue living a life of lies or be honest when I have an opportunity to learn and grow?

It’s still scary sometimes.  I work to let go of the fear by doing yoga. Living Yoga is what saved my life, I feel, in prison. Yoga has reminded me that I’m human. That I can love, I can cry, I can laugh, I can show joy. It reminds me to be grounded, to appreciate life.

And now here I am today. It’s pretty awesome today. And I’ve been at DKB for over 10 years now…and I am grateful for that, and proud of that.

Asking for help, maybe for some, is a weakness. I know it is for me. I have that fear of being looked at. Of, I’m not smart enough, good enough, worthy enough, all those things that come with fear. I encourage people to ask for help, to make the next right decision/choice.