I’m at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an institution in the Wisconsin Prison System (WPS), participating in the Earned Release Program (ERP).  I woke up after a very bad night, with my cellie, Andre Charles, in a foul mood and trying to pick a fight with another cellie, Malik Pearl.  The issue this time was Andre thought Malik was angry over all the noise he was making.  He probably was but he hadn’t said a word to Andre.  I rolled out of bed and ate breakfast.  For whatever reason, Andre requires our attention and I’m just not going to give it today.  Ms. Grey, our ERP coordinator, is on vacation but she had left behind assignments for us to do.  We were to read chapter 1- 2 of House of Healing (HOH) and complete the assignment in the morning session of our ERP program and in the afternoon watch the first video on HOH, as well as read the Criminal conduct and Substance Abuse  (CCSAT), and work on our group mission statement.  Reading HOH, I can tell you straight away that the author Robin Casarjian is a genius in how she frames things for the reader.  The first two chapters are entitled “Doing Time” and “Who Are You Anyway?” “Doing Time” feels like a pep talk, that regardless of your circumstances behind bars, making change in yourself is worthwhile work.  “Who Are You Anyway?” is a look at our core, our “self’, surrounded by our sub-personalities and how “over-identifying with any one of them can debilitate us or stunt our growth” (p.13). I can see how someone with my background may have gotten so lost in a sub-personality now.  I highly recommend this book to everyone regardless of the kind of prison you’re in.  I completed the “Who Am I” assignment on page 10 and moved on to the CCSAT workbook.  We were to complete Session 1 but many were way past that.  Session 1was concerned with explaining the program and setting up goals to avoid “criminal thinking” and recidivism.  I feel out of place with this workbook and its tone feels, the word comes to mind is clinical.  But I will give it my best effort.  I mean I don’t have a choice, right?  After lunch in our cell, Andre went on and on to me about when he says he’s through with people it’s nothing personal to me even though Malik and Whalen, my other cellie, agreed he absolutely was.  I wanted to reply that though I hope he finds the help he needs, I couldn’t care less if he was through with me.  In fact, I wish he and I had no involvement at all.  But for once, I bit my tongue.  After lunch, we’d been told to watch the first video of the HOH book series.  It took 20 minutes for us inmates to get the DVD player in the weight room running.  The video we were supposed to watch told the story of how HOH came to happen (remarkable itself – email if you want to know) and further discussion on identifying who we are.  Then we as a group decided to watch the second video so we didn’t have to set it up again.  This was on forgiveness, the ability to see the good in a person past their present issue.  Again, outstanding stuff.  I feel I do a good job of that most of the time. It’s to see the light bulb, not the lampshade.  Our next item, was the mission statement for our ERP group MS. Grey asked us to come up with.  Yours truly did the honors.  It states “we seek to learn how to live a clean and sober life through truth and accountability to each other, surrendering our old way of doing things and being open to new ideas, humbly and empathetically looking at ourselves and each other in a balanced fashion, remembering to be truthful for our new lives.”  Let’s hear it for the run on sentence!  🙂  The “Ripple Effect” of addiction was assigned to our ERP group inmate leader, Larry Sands.  They cancelled our ERP group night session so I listened to Whalen state how fed up he was and Andre keeps goading him.  Man, my headphones can’t get here fast enough!  But the best part of the day, I actually got a Christmas card in the mail tonight!  So, I’m happy.  It’s good to know you’re not forgotten once in awhile, you know?

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