My Journey with Freedom to Choose
By Marlene Miller
My first Freedom to Choose workshop was not by my choosing. The decision for me to attend was actually made by my roommate back in 2007 when I was at VSPW. I have to be honest. I really didn’t want to do it, but if anyone has ever met Kristianne Clifford, you would know that no matter how much you protested on doing something she signed you up for, she always won. ALWAYS!! And because of her, I was able to really begin my journey of healing, self-forgiveness, and becoming honest with everyone, including myself, on why I was in prison. This past October 25 and 26, I attended my 15th Freedom to Choose workshop.
In 2007, when I first entered the visiting room, I was greeted by warm, loving, and excited people. At first I thought, “What kind of cult is this?” What I didn’t know was that I was in for the most in-depth time I would ever have in prison. During the next few days, I worked in “trios” on issues I had not faced in a very long time. At first I was hesitant on how much I wanted to share because after all, I felt I was going to be judged. This was not the case. I was welcomed with opened arms and non-judgmental support. This is why I kept going back.
For the next 7 years, I worked on myself and the issues I had kept buried for so many years. I have been able to forgive those who hurt me in the past, let go of any and all false beliefs, and most importantly, forgive myself for the hurt, guilt, and shame I have been caring for the past 19 years when it came to my crime. I was able to get the deepest healing and be able to be at peace with my life. The lessons I learned though this workshop also helped me when I went in front of the Parole Board and was found suitable for parole. Because of this workshop, the USM volunteers, and amazing inmates I was allowed to work with, I have been able to find myself. When I first entered the Freedom to Choose world I was a lost individual. Today, I have found a purpose for my life. I highly recommend this workshop to anyone who has felt the way I have. You will be in for the journey of a lifetime.