In my eyes, freedom began when I recognized the intense amount of help I needed. One of the most difficult circumstances of modern-day life, I think, is that nagging sense of why. Why, when we have so much, does life happen the way it does? What’s the enduring purpose behind all of this materialism? Why keep trying?
These are sincere questions I think many of us encounter at some point within our lives - maybe during moments of stress or transition, at the loss of a loved one, or the end of a major step in our lives. These questions arise from a place of deep innocence within each of us. These are the questions that were awakened within me by the sequences of life that brought me into Coffee Creek.
It is this sincerity that also awoke a deep understanding within me. If I want to live what I consider to be a successful life, I need to take responsibility for creating it. If I wish for purpose, I need to make it. Over the two years I had to be with myself, I realized that what I wanted could be distilled to simple terms: love and happiness. I realized that even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was being guided by a set of beliefs, tied to very basic desires - and once I recognized this, I could take back responsibility for achieving those desires.
I wanted something to matter. I wanted something to live for. In Coffee Creek, I found many women turned to their children (as most women within Coffee Creek were mothers) as a motivation to keep them afloat. People often talked about the lives they would create for themselves and their families, if they were given the chance to. I couldn’t identify in the same way, but in my mind I saw leaving Coffee Creek as a way to change my life, and as a way to give birth to a different self.
That’s why, when I was released, I took every opportunity I could put my hands on - I joined groups, started meditating, got a membership at a gym, found a housing assistance program, started multiple jobs, found a career and finance coach - all because I didn’t know what lead would take me where I wanted to go. I knew that if I tried as many things as I could, I would figure it out eventually. I would feel out the direction in which I wanted my life to go.
It’s only by beginning to accept this help, by declaring a state of openness and vulnerability, that I was able to begin moving away from the cravings and depression that had ruled my past life. Instinctively, I knew I needed to throw myself into my life in order to fully detach myself from my past. Unfortunately, that possibility isn’t always there for everyone. But, part of me deeply believes that if we open our eyes, we will find a way to grow out of our desperation. We all come from different circumstances, and so this growth is unique to every person. It is my desire to see our cultural focus shift away from the past, and towards this growth.
The writer underwent two years at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility in Oregon, convicted for charges directly related to an active drug addiction.