As many of you know, I have been providing life coaching to an inmate (Jennifer) at the Richmond City Jail. I usually meet with clients 1x/week, often for 4-12 weeks, depending on what they're working on and how much support they need to make the desired change. Jenn knows that she will be transferred to prison soon, where she will serve the remaining two years of her sentence. She doesn't, however, know exactly when since inmates are notified at 4am on the day of their transfer. Because of this we have been accelerating her process and have been meeting twice weekly for the past 2 1/2 months.
Back in June, I asked Jenn if she would be willing to write a little about about her experience working with me. When I saw her at our next meeting, she handed me a 4-page, perfectly hand-written letter. I was floored by what she wrote. She's given me permission to share it with you....
As I sit here thinking about [working with] Ellie, all I can do is smile. I can’t describe my gratitude for her in words. It’s a feeling that I haven’t figured out just yet. It just is.
I met Ellie in a yoga class and evidently she seen something in me that I didn’t. I was almost afraid to expose myself to her because I didn’t want her to look at me different and I hate rejection. In a weird way I feel like it was my first challenge. I was thinking, “Let me tell her these crazy things so she won’t come back,” but that’s not how it went down. Ellie came full throttle, like “Ok, let’s work through this.”
I came from a broken home of violent alcoholics and addicts. I’m not sure if I ever really belonged anywhere. And who I was depended on who I was around. There were a lot of things I never understood about myself. It was a crazy life and it felt normal.
Working with Ellie has helped me to realize that there are different options and that my definition of freedom has kept me hostage. All of the issues that I’ve brought to the table suddenly don’t seem so intimidating. One of the best parts of working with Ellie is how encouraging she is. When we’re working through something and I get into that “Oh my gosh, I suck” mode, she’s like “wait a minute, you don’t suck, you’re not alone and let’s work on this.”
Her approach is almost captivating. I’m not afraid to be honest with her. She has never judged me. We’ve laughed, I’ve cried, she understood and when the sessions are over I leave the room feeling like a better Jennifer. It’s not an hour of her reading out of a book. It’s an hour of her taking the time to help me understand the how and whys of my behaviors and helping me heal. She’s taught me some valuable lessons. Holding myself accountable and being aware of my patterns are a few of the things that hit home for me. How did Ellie know those things? Because she listens and cares enough to remember. She doesn’t write everything down. I appreciate the tools that she’s showed me and she continues to push me in the right direction.
I look forward to my visits with her. I am so grateful to have finally met someone who genuinely cares about me enough to work with me and not just rush me through. She makes a difference and believes that people can change. Everybody needs an “Ellie.”
If you are interested and able (to know anyone who might be interested) in helping to fund my coaching work with Jenn (and other women at the City Jail), I am actively (and humbly) accepting donations via GoFundMe