Written by Dawn W.

All our childhoods are different but also the same in some ways; mine began in an orphanage. I never felt cared for or even wanted, and I can remember being confused and hurt that my mother had left me in that place until I was about 8 years old. One day, out of the blue, a man and woman showed up to see me and she told me that she was my mom and wanted me to come live with her. I felt scared because I was not sure why she came back for me or what was to come. I had spent years in and out of my mom’s house, foster homes, juvenile detention, and running away and eventually got pregnant with my own child.

It was not until that day that I knew what real unconditional love was because I never experienced it myself growing up. Eventually I got on my own feet, providing for my son but even with all I was doing, the abuse from my mom was in the background and unfortunately, a few years later, I had another son who passed away at the age of one. That was when I lost my focus on life and turned to drugs to cope. Similar to what I had seen my mother go through, I was not able to deal with life on life’s terms and lacked the proper skills to function with the loss I had experienced.

I ended up in prison and it has been a revolving door for 20 years for me. All these years I had let my mind lock me up with feeling like a failure in everything I did and did not care who I hurt because I was hurting inside.  I was so tired of this cycle, and I just wanted to be free – free of drugs and free in my mind. Although I never knew what my mom’s life was like when she was growing up, I realized when I looked in the mirror, I was doing all the same things she had done.

Today, I have forgiven my mom and I am working on forgiving myself; Part of this self-forgiveness is doing something different than I have always done. A year ago, I walked into Televerde and Televerde Foundation wanting something different out of life and willing to do the work to create a better future for myself. I have gained purpose, discovered that I love to learn new things, and possess a desire to help others. I wanted something I could be proud of and that my kids would be proud of me for, and what I have gained with Televerde Foundation’s support is making this possible.

I am proving to my kids that if you fall in life, you can get back up. I am so happy and relieved today that I have turned my life in a new direction when there were so many times that I just wanted to give up on myself. I thank Televerde and Televerde Foundation for believing in me when no one else did, for seeing something in me that I didn’t even see in myself at the time. I am grateful for this opportunity to completely turn my life around and show my kids how to live a life of love and purpose. This newfound purpose has led me to want to use my story to help others who have been where I was and show them that life does get better if you take a leap of faith.

The most important thing to me at this point is that I show my kids and other mothers who are in prison that that they don’t have to go through what I have, they don’t have to continue the cycle, and that together we can break the generational cycle of incarceration, addiction, and abuse.