When I entered the prison, as I went through security and my pat-down search, as I was led along the ugly concrete hallways, past the stares of the male prisoners, into the "graduation" room and nervously watched the Truth Be Told graduates walk into the room in their blue prison-issued tops and pants, I thought I had nothing in common with these women. I was there to listen respectfully, but I didn't really think I could relate to them.
I was so wrong. At almost every moment, every turn in a new story, I found myself thinking, there but for a bad choice, a bit of luck, could I have gone. They were not so different from me, in so many ways, after all. I had simply been lucky enough to have a loving family and a good, abuse-free childhood. They were not so lucky. For these women, such things as love and abuse-free childhood were the great gaping holes in their lives - holes that they filled them with drugs, money and things gotten at any cost; holes which they filled with abusive relationships and children simply so they could have someone to love them.
But underneath it all, we were the same. By the end of the afternoon, I found myself not only relating to them, but admiring them. These women were the bravest people I had ever met in my life. Their honesty and their courage honed into my heart like an arrow and lodged there. I will never forget their words, or the haunted looks in their eyes as they spoke them.
For more information about Truth Be Told, go to their website at www.truth-be-told.org.