FEATURE STORIES

Reflecting upon Release


by Nikki Jones

 

June 2009
Roller Coaster

Saturday. That's when I go into "double digits." I thought this would never happen, but now that it has I'm not sure how I feel.

I'm excited. That's a given. After three years I'm finally going home, so of course I'm happy. But there are so many other emotions at the same time that it becomes confusing, and I'm not sure how to feel.

The Bible says, "Be anxious for nothing," but I'm finding that to be a tremendous challenge these days. To just remain calm and keep my thoughts from racing is a task in itself.

Then I have days when I'm no worried at all. I know the God I serve is gong to take care of me as long as I keep my focus on Him.

I do my best not to worry, but I still have so much that I wonder about. I have days when I'm nervous and afraid. I'm leaving the place that has been my home for the past three years. I'm going back to a home that has changed so much, and I have changed even more.

I wonder if my family and friends are going to accept me the way I am now. I wonder if they're going to think I'm weird. I also know how hard all of this is going to be.

I'm a realistic person and I know that I'm leaving here in an economic slump with a violent felony on my record, and it's not going to be easy.

I have a daughter who will be two when I get out that I want to get custody of and that's not going to be easy either.

But the best things in life aren't easy.

One of the more dominant emotions I go through on a regular basis is sadness. The women in this place have been my friends, mentors, teachers, and family and it makes me sad to have to leave them. A lot of people would think, "You're going home; you should be happy," but they fail to realize that for the past three years this has been my home.

There are so many emotions that go with leaving this place. I'm just going to have to take my time and sort them all out.

 

I'm Ready

I can't believe it's already been three months! Three months since I sat here writing about the emotional roller coaster I was on as I entered into "double digits."

And now—I'm down to five days!

But much to my surprise, and to the surprise of those around me, I'm calm. Just very calm.

I keep being asked if I'm scared. No. Nervous? No. Excited? I was. But now, I'm just—ready.

I've come to the point where all the anxiety and apprehension has left. I know who I walk with and I am strong, steady and sure.

I also know that when I fall, because I am human and I will fall, He will be there to pick me up.

The overwhelming excitement has worn away, and worn me out a few times in the process. Patience has replaced it. There are so many things I want to do, and look forward to doing, but I know I have to pace myself. Tomorrow may not be promised, but that doesn't mean I should rush through today trying to accomplish everything right now and failing to enjoy to multitude of blessings God has showered down on me.

When I think about all He has done for me I get awestruck. Just the things He has done recently are enough to leave me speechless. And for me to be speechless . . .we'll just say that it's not easily accomplished.

One of the lessons that I had to learn in coming to prison was patience. I had to learn not to worry and to wait for God to take care of things in His time, not mine. So I did.

I followed His instructions, focused on bettering myself, and didn't worry about the things that went on in the outside world. And what happened? God kept His word (but we never would have expected that)!

Just in the past few months, without me working for any of this, God has place people in my life to help me with contacts to get started in my career choice, help get custody of my daughter back, get mentoring through a church near my home, a job and more. And that's just skimming the surface of it.

All that He has done for me has given me the confidence to walk out the doors of Franklin Pre-Release Center on May 31st unafraid, calm, and ready.

Read more by Nikki Jones
(as Dawn Staples Jones)

My Shepherd
As the days have passed by, and the shock and disbelief have worn off, I’ve grown calmer. . . May 2009

How it Feels
I can tell you about all the abuse I’ve been through and all the abuse I’ve put others through. . . Sept 2008

Grandpa
My mom figured Grandpa wanted to make up for all the time he had missed with his grandchildren. . .Sept 2008

Backward, Forward
I quit everything. I even quit Jesus. . Sept 2008

I am the Victor
Pain? No. That word could never describe what it felt like to walk out of The Ohio State University Hospital in shackles and leave my two-day old daughter waiting for Butler County Children’s Services to come pick her up . . .June 2008