Incarcerated Women in Prison star has advice for women who are free

Jun 18, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. ET
Image: Investigation Discovery

Investigation Discovery's Women In Prison offers a real, gritty look at the real-life Orange Is the New Black. This week, we'll watch prisoner Red come to terms with what she did to land her in prison. Ahead of the episode, read her thoughts on the prison experience and how it changed her.

I don't want to sum up the telling of my story into it being just scary, because it was so much more than that.

It was enlightening, even to me. There were so many revelations, as well as unanswered questions I've lived so long wondering about. It is scary taking responsibility for my actions within myself, let alone in front of thousands of people.

However, I've learned one of the best ways to overcome fear is to face it. It is very frightening wondering how others will perceive us, my outer shell is not that thick to pretend it wouldn't bother me if the world viewed us as monsters. More so than anything, participating in this process helped me to know that I am worth far more than I ever led myself to believe.

I learned forgiveness is truly a freeing factor. I learned that nothing will change my past, but that everything I do will decide my future. I learned that I do not have to react on pains never forgotten but that I, as well, must forgive and heal. Who I was is not who I am.

Telling my story was difficult, however it was truly liberating. It was genuine. My family was brought together in ways that I thought were impossible.

And really... maybe that is the thing.. the impossible is just a thought... impossible was never my reality, with change comes possibilities. It was always possible to have the family I desired, if I just changed the destruction that thrived from the pain that I held inside.

I was honest in my shortcomings, in my crimes, in my faults, in all that I've never been comfortable in admitting. With that the most amazing thing happened. It freed me.

If I could tell women anything, I would tell them to break the chains that bind them. Break the chains they bind themselves to. Heal. Let go of what people have done to you or the pain others have caused you, because it is done. Living with that pain is your own doing. Not healing is your own choice. And yeah... you may say it is easier said than done... but really!? It took me five trips to prison and an 18-year sentence. Let it be easier for you than it was for any of us. Life is better when the pain is gone, even in prison. I want to tell you to love and allow yourself to be loved. Grab this life that you are blessed with and allow yourself to be loved. Grab this life you are blessed with because it is too short and too precious to be swallowed in things you cannot change.

Live free.

Thank y'all for this opportunity.

Red

To learn more about Red's journey and meet the rest of the prisoners, tune into Women in Prison on Investigation Discovery Thursdays at 10/9c.

More on women and the justice system

The Mamafesto: The Shackling of women birthing in prison needs to stop
The Slap: Why the show's depiction of family life is terrifying
Discovery debuts the real OITNB and it's fascinating

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