This is Melanie's story as she tells it. . . no editing. . . no proofing. . . Just Melanie - - as is, raw, vulnerable, and open. My hope is that you will share this on your Facebook Page and Instagram and that someone out there who needs to hear Melanie's story will be able to read it. I had to twist her arm to write it and you can tell by the first sentence. . . LOL!!
Melanie's favorite song is right here so please listen to it as you read her story. . .
Okay Shane. Here goes…
So, I started this crazy journey on March 24, 2016. What I then classified as the worst day of my life. I had been going to trial all week, that week. On that final day, the jury had agreed to guilty on all 6 counts. I had no idea what was going to be in store for me, what prison was going to be like. I only knew what the media had portrayed. Little did I know, God had big plans for me.
It was the fourth day of my trial, POURING down rain. I go into the courthouse to meet with my attorney and he tells me, Melanie, if this doesn’t go the way we want it to, you are going to jail today. I start panicking, go outside to smoke. There on top of the court house sits an owl. In the pouring down rain. Weird right?
We finish the trial and the jury goes to deliberate. I went and picked up my son from the daycare, thinking “just in case”.
They call for me, ready to give the jury’s verdict. GUILTY. On all 6 counts. The bailiff handcuffs me and walks me to the elevator. Now, I forgot to say that my WHOLE FAMILY was there supporting me.
Even my sons dads family was there supporting me. My son was in the hallway with his grandma because he was just crying.
Even my sons dads family was there supporting me. My son was in the hallway with his grandma because he was just crying.
They take me to the elevator and grandma brings my son around the corner to see me, cuffed, ready to go to jail. I will never forget that moment. My son reached for me and I couldn’t take him. The bailiff said is this is your son? I replied yes. He says you may kiss him goodbye. So I gave baby a kiss and he just started screaming bloody murder. He didn’t have any idea what was going on. At 9 months old, he just knew that he wanted his mommy and she couldn’t take him. I brought my hands to my face and just cried. I just kept thinking, how long is it going to be before I see my son again?
I go over to the jail and sat there until May 13th, Friday the 13th. Not being able to see my son. My family would go to star bank and walk him around in his stroller so I could see him, until the sheriffs would run her off. Even on mother’s day, my first mother’s day, they made a sign that said happy mother’s day. I cried myself to sleep so many nights. Worrying, wondering when the end would come. When I would be able to go back to my life and leave this nightmare behind. I had my attorney coming to see me, telling me since I didn’t have any criminal history, a small child at home and a paraplegic father who depended on me to care for him, that I would just go home on house arrest. There wouldn’t be any issues.
When they finally got me to my sentencing, my judge told me the harshest words. “if I could sentence you just on your emotional stance, I would give you 20 years. However, that’s not how the law works. I would describe you as cavalier, showing no interest in important matter”. I tuned him out at that point. I honestly didn’t hear what the sentence was. I remember my attorney patted me on the knee and said 3 years with purposeful. My bailiff walked me back over to the jail and I was just crying, I didn’t know what to think. He said well, 7 years isn’t too bad.
I was sentenced to Eight (8) years at the Indiana Department of Corrections and ordered to participate in a substance use treatment called purposeful incarceration. The Judge mandated that I complete that program and serve a 3-year minimum of the sentence before he would consider modifying my sentence.
On May 27, 2016 I was transported to Rockville correctional facility. I was literally stripped of everything when I got there. My clothes, my privacy, control. I felt so violated. I didn’t even have a say in my own life anymore. I had hit bottom. I didn’t know what was about to happen. How this bit was going to go. My heart was racing. I was so scared! All I knew about prison was what the media says about prison, which is nothing good.
I got into intake. Got a fancy orange jump suit. Being told what to do all the time. When to eat, when to sleep, how loud I could be. When to clean. EVERYTHING. I had no control over anything anymore. All the way down to lining up to go to chow. Which if you didn’t know is what they call the dining hall there. My dog got better treatment, A nicer bed. So thru out intake they do all these assessments. Going to the doctor, the dentist, the eye doctor, seeing mental health. That decides which prison you will be at. I had met a girl in county who had just got out of Madison (the lowest level for women) and she was like oh you will go there. Don’t worry about it. 18 months and you will be back home. HA! Boy, she was wrong!!! Since I had been taking anti-depressant medications, my mental health was labeled a C and I had to stay at Rockville. A maximum facility for women. I was terrified. I kept hearing horror stories from women who had already been to prison before. About how they kept the worst of the worst there. So I thought, great. I’m hit. I ended up staying in intake for 4 weeks and got moved to “the hill” open population. About 1200 women.
They sent me to dorm 5, top bunk—TRASH. My Bunkie was a sweet little old lady. She said she had been down for about 5 years. I couldn’t wrap my mind around what on earth she was doing there. Come to find out, she’s an ax murderer. The only one there out of 1200 women. Wow. Majority of my room, 16 ladies was in there for murder or drug charges. So I mainly stuck to myself. I didn’t want to cross the wrong one or get myself in any trouble. They gave me a job as a night porter. Just a cleaning lady. I stayed on the hill for about 3 months. Living this shit life. Going to work thru the night and sleeping thru the day, well what I could anyways. Waiting to get called over to the “C.L.I.F.F.” dorm so I could get this assessment, start this pi program and get home!
I finally got my first visit in prison. It took a little bit to get my family approved. My mom came to see me and bring my son to see me. I hadn’t seen him in about 3 months. I had missed his first birthday. I called and my whole family was there. They all passed the phone around, they all wanted to know how I was doing and how things were going. It took all I had to stay strong, to not cry. To not tell my family how much I hated where I was, the person I had become. How bad I missed home and my son. When mom brings Shane to see me, she put him down on the floor and he took off walking! She had told me on the phone that he was trying to walk, but I didn’t know he was actually walking all the time! Gosh, I cried. I couldn’t believe how much my little baby had changed in just 3 months. He was growing so fast and I was missing so much. Every day he was learning something new, developing new skills, growing into this awesome little person and the number one person who should have been there to see it all, wasn’t. to this day, I will never forget that day. I remind myself of those feelings often, to keep me grounded in who I am today.
I had different people telling me that I needed to get into my bible, that I needed to find god. He would be the only one who would be able to “save” me. So I had my dad send me a recovery bible. I thought maybe that would be good for me. I started reading in it, slowly, day by day. Reading more and more. Then one day I was sitting on my bunk, just reading in psalms. The holy spirit flooded me like a river. I started bawling and just repenting. I knew that I did not want to be the person that I was and I wanted god to save me. I completely surrendered my life that day and that’s when things started to get better.
On the day I got that pass to go over to do my assessment. I took this paper test that talked all about my addiction and my use. The girl that gave it to me, told me to fill it out honestly. So I did. I went in to see the main counselor and she told me I didn’t qualify for the program. I said what do you mean I was sentenced to this! I have to do this to get home. She said it appears that you don’t have a problem with drugs. I said I don’t, I quit. She asked me if I drank alcohol and I said I don’t have a problem with alcohol, she looked at my charges and said that’s your problem. Got into the program.
I started this intense program. I lived on a dorm with about 200 women who were also programming. We LIVED recovery. Mandatory 3 meetings a week, had to meet with a mentor and a recovery coach. They set us in groups and we phased up together. There are 4 phases to the therapeutic community. Of course you can always be held back if you are messing up or getting into trouble. I started going to groups and classes, really working on myself. I did several self-help packets, started working the steps. I had to face so many things that I had buried deep for so long. Emotions that I didn’t want to deal with, traumas that I was in denial of. I started getting honest with myself and things started getting better. I was able to really sit down and analyze the person I had become, why I had done the things I had done. All the things that fed my disease. Why I really was the way that I was. Things started to make sense. I had finally started healing. I took every extra class they offered to me. I completed 90 in 90, which is 90 meetings in 90 days. I also took a grief and loss class that the prison offered to everyone. I never realized how much grief I carried.
I graduated therapeutic community in June of 2017 and I immediately called home ready to fill a modification. My attorney told me to just be patient. I left the C.L.I.F.F. dorm and moved back to open population. They put me on raccoon crew. Which for those who don’t know, raccoon crew is a crew of ladies that go to Raccoon Lake and clean. It’s a big deal when you get on that crew. It’s the only crew that goes outside of those gates. And it’s only a matter of time before you get sent to a lower level security prison. I only worked on that crew for about a month and I was Madison bound!
Madison is a lower level facility. Much more freedom, longer visits, stores you can shop at. Well they would go to the dollar store and buy all kinds of different things and then sell them to us for high dollar. But it was ten times better than being at Rockville! I was only in Madison for about 2 months and I received a letter in the mail, I finally had a court date!! It got postponed a couple of times, but grant county finally came and got me on Halloween. I will never forget that we stopped at a gas station so we could get gas and I had to pee so badly! So the officer goes in and asks permission for me to be able to come in and use their restroom, they said yes. She gets me out of the car and as we’re walking in, she looks at me and says “we have the best Halloween costumes ever” ha-ha! And we really did. I was in an orange jumpsuit and she was in her sheriff’s uniform. My ankles and my wrists were cuffed.
I was never so happy to see the grant county jail! I went to court the next day, November 1st, 2017. I wrote out a few things that I wanted to make sure that I said to the judge. But somehow that paper got lost. I prayed and prayed that night before that whatever gods will for my life was, that it would be done. I had fasted and prayed for weeks, I was filled with acceptance and no matter what happened. I knew that I was in god’s hands. I went to court and it went perfect. I cried to my judge. I finally had remorse, I was sorry for the things I had done. I knew what a piece of shit I had been and I wanted to take full responsibility. I had the opportunity to look at my victim’s family and apologize. I wish I could change the way things had happened, but I knew that I couldn’t. I just wanted them to know how sorry I was. My victim’s mother forgave me that day. <3 my attorney told me that I would be going home on house arrest, but I had heard that before so I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high. I waited a week in jail, called home and my dad told me that my modification had got denied.
Another week and grant county transported me back to Madison DOC. I was determined that I was going to stay busy and get through these last 2 years I had left. As soon as I was able to, I went and visited my counselor and requested that I be put into the cosmetology program. On December 11th, I started Cosmo. I received a letter from the court house that my judge had pre-approved my CTP and that he wanted me to participate in the re-entry program. I was SO MAD! Seriously? You deny my modification, telling me that I have to do all of my time, besides what I could get knocked off in time cuts and then when I get home I have to spend another 16 to 18 months doing more programming!! But I put that out of my mind and got busy. Back to bit mode. I continued to work on me, bettering me. I still programmed even thought I wasn’t in therapeutic community anymore. I attended meetings regularly. I took a parenting class, through the state. I took a relationship class, knowing that I needed to have relationship boundaries.
I graduated from cosmetology in November 2018. After my time cut went in I had about 4 and a half months left. So if things worked out the way that I wanted them too. I could get my CTP on Thanksgiving Day, November 22. So I studied my butt off, took my practical test and passed it with a 96. Then I took my written test and past it with a 94! I was sooo proud of myself! Once my time cut went through it took about a month and they got all my paperwork done. Grant County was due to pick me up on December 3rd!
When that day finally came, my emotions were on ten! I hadn’t been home in almost 3 years. I had done 2 and a half years in prison and another 2 months in jail. I had 4 months to serve on home detention and that would complete the prison term that I was due to serve. I got back to grant county community corrections and called my mom. I was never so excited to see her and get to hug her!
They were having a lot of issues with drugs coming into the prison while I was at Madison, so they took our contact visits. Your family could come but you couldn’t touch them. I went almost 9 months without hugging my mom. I couldn’t wait. Got that bracelet on and was on my way home!
Considering my son was only 9 months old when I left and I had to serve 4 months on house arrest I knew that coming to my mom’s would be the best thing for me. I had seen Shane regularly the whole time I was locked up, but stepping into full time parent mode and real life was going to be difficult and I knew that I would need my mom’s help.
I was very blessed to have an amazing probation officer, a very godly man who completely understood that I wasn’t the person I was almost 3 years ago when I went to prison. He gave me the down low on what was to come being on house arrest and reentry court. I had to schedule every single thing that I did, but I can say home detention was very good to me. They let me do just about anything that I asked them. I have to call every day to see if I had to take a drug screen. After about a month I started looking for a job.
I’m so beyond thankful that my judge gave me the opportunity to do reentry court. I needed a little structure and help when I got out. It’s been nothing but good things since I got out. They even paid for me to take some facilitator training courses and now I’m able to start my own meeting.
I’ve been out for almost 5 months now and my life is so, so good. I have phased up to phase 3 in reentry court already. I work a full time job and I’m able to spend all of my free time with my boy. I have continued to work on myself since I have been out. I attend groups at milestone weekly and I regularly attend meetings. I have found a home group at SMART recovery on Saturdays and I have met some really amazing people there. I have started going back to my home church and I also attend hope house on Sunday nights. I have an amazing support system, between my friends and my family I couldn’t ask for better. I am so beyond blessed today. Granted I am not where I want to be, but I am almost 3 and a half years clean and sober. In July, I will be FIVE YEARS CLEAN off heroin! I never thought I would be where I am today. People come to ME for help and advice. It’s all by the grace of god. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
Right after I found Christ, the holy spirit put it on my heart to write myself a letter to myself. Looking back I know that I didn’t have these words, he did. This is what it says:
Letter to self <3 August 4th 2016
Hello gorgeous! I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be all right. Continue to turn to god! It pleases him when you talk to him and tell him the good and the bad about every situation. Even though he already knows your heart, he wants you to tell him everything that is going on. *keep praying*
Remember those who are there for you! Mom & dad! Forget the ones who need you now. Remember how it felt to see Shane walk in that visiting center- for the FIRST TIME EVER! Remember how you felt. NOTHING is worth your freedom or the time you should be spending with Shane.
Stay in the word! Keep reading, learning and growing. The lord wants our relationship to flourish, that’s the reason he put you here. STAY POSITIVE!* the devil feeds off that negative energy and he isn’t worth and ounce of your energy! Remember YOU ARE STRONG! You have been through a lot- you can do this- you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to. YOU’RE PRICELESS! You’re worth more than gold!
Cherish these lessons, be a sponge! Absorb the good and wash out the bad! Keep the old life behind you! There is no going back! You deserve the best and only you can hold you back!
Melanie, you are beautiful! You are smart! You are an amazing mother, daughter and friend. You are funny. You are generous, caring and helpful. You are BLESSED! The lord loves you, he cherishes you. He loves when you come to him. This will be over soon! Keep your head up. Keep reading your bible. Stay positive always.
Thank you Melanie. . . I love you girl and you inspire me each and every day of your journey. Together we can recovery and help others do the same. You are a role model and a mentor to me in my own walk and for that I am grateful. . .
If you're struggling it's okay help is only a prayer away.
The first picture is before prison and God and the second is this year. . . Can't tell me God doesn't move mountains. . .