Be Their Voice, Not Their Echo by Felicia


“There is so much about prison life that can never be captured with words. This after loneliness should never be forced on anyone that once had freedom.” —-Kenneth Hodge—

Everyone has a story.

It doesn’t matter what we do for a living or our skin color or how much we have in our bank accounts. Whether it is visible to the eye or locked inside us we all have a story.

We’re encouraged to believe that our past circumstances–both physical, and emotional–and our experiences are that story. Our mental picture of our life’s story encompasses what we perceive to be true about ourselves and our possibilities.

The life we’re born into is not necessarily our destiny. All of us have the power to rewrite our story, to recast the drama of our lives and to redirect the actions of the main character — our self. The outcome of our lives are determined mainly by our response to each event. Do we choose to be the hero or victim in our life’s drama?

Hearing other’s stories frees us from being bound by decisions of the past and opens us to understanding and opportunity. A really good story allows us to recognize the choices that are open to us and to see new alternatives we might never have seen before. It can give us permission to try (or at least consider trying) a new path of action.

Some know someone that’s incarcerated or their families or friends. Some can only try to imagine what each person goes through. Others are living it and enduring the different emotions that come with doing time behind these walls (like myself) or doing time alongside someone who is behind these walls.

When reading, hearing, or seeing someone else’s story really pay attention. It will make you take a closer look at your life–and ours.

You will come around to notice that there is hope in a hopeless place. There is activity in a place where there might not be, and there’s growth in a place where there’s no room to grow.

We believe that our stories (“our” as in every incarcerated soul that has had the courage to write and to give others a voice who yet remain voiceless) will sustain you during times of challenge, frustration and failure, and comfort you during times of confusion, pain and loss. We hope that we become lifelong companions offering continual insight and wisdom in many areas of your lives.

(Inspired by Chicken Soup For The Soul)

Felicia Sullivan 103547 (ORW) is written by Felicia & Christopher, a half dozen regular contributors, and incarcerated men and women all over this great Nation. I began lettersfromchristopher in 2019 to draw attention to the plight of America’s incarcerated. Thank you to all of you for following week after week.


Behind Bars We Still Find Joy By Felicia & Christopher

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of our family, friends, and those of you that steadfastly read our weekly posts. We appreciate your dedication and time allowing us to tell our stories, and wish you abundance, blessings and happiness as we walk into 2023. No matter how difficult 2022 was, if you’re reading this God’s still with you.
If you can, we’d like you to listen to the song “Unfinished” by Mandisa, and pause for a moment to take in these beautiful lyrics. God will never leave or forsake you. Even in the darkest moments of life, he is always there. It’s easy to lose sight of this.
(Christopher): Life behind bars is difficult. It’s easy to forget that despite how bad we think we have it, there’s always someone worse off. For me, the holidays bring that into focus. I never lose sight of the good in my life. The holidays highlight the good things that we do for one another that we often miss at other times of the year.
(Felicia): I work at commissary here at Ohio Reformatory for Women. Currently creeping up on the 5 year mark of my sentence leaving me 12 to go.
We had a holiday party funded by our staff that manages commissary. She secured everything for us. We then prepared our meal and dessert, this on top of taking the time to shut down operations to allow us the free time to hang out and unwind.
(Christopher): I work with the dogs here and this year I gathered a few men together and prepared a holiday meal. Some were men in the program, others were men I respect and consider friends.
(Felicia): 3 other ladies and I stayed on an out count and prepared the meal. There was stuffing log, mac and cheese; strawberry cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake, along with sausage bites and cheese and crackers.
Our boss made an announcement thanking us for our hard work. She reminded us how everyone on the compound needs and relies upon us. She thanked us for being there and doing our part in making commissary operate.
(Christopher): My bunkie and I prepared two dozen 6″ tortilla shell pepperoni and chicken pizzas. Delicious! Using the microwaves I fried the shells to a crispness, each having been coated in a thin layer of olive oil first, and my bunkie prepared and placed the toppings.
We put sodas on ice and set up place settings at 2 tables in the dayroom. Anticipation growing the sweet aroma of pizza filling the unit.
(Felicia): I worked a number of jobs at home. No matter how hard I worked, never once was I thanked or recognized for a job well done. And yet, here in prison, a place you would never imagine there could be good, it has completely changed my life and outlook on mankind.
I work with 16 other ladies. Sitting there taking in their smiles and laughter, reminded me that things could always be worse. That even in the toughest situations, if we stick together everything will be okay.
I am surrounded by love and comfort. And I’m looking forward to spending 2023 with these women that I’ve grown to call my friends.
(Christopher): While we ate, 5 men all in the same situation of incarceration but each with their own personal struggles, I thought about how similar we all are.
All of us miss our families. While it’s tough for me I never lose sight that it’s even tougher for them. These men have children and families of their own. No matter how difficult life seems, I am thankful for the one I have. And in this evening I laughed and carried on with men who also, if not but for 30 minutes, forgot that they were in prison.
(Felicia): I am thankful that another year down is another year closer to being home.
(Christopher): One day at a time.Happy New Year to all!!

*Lettersfromchristopher is an advocacy effort highlighting incarceration in the United States.
Read more posts from this blog in the book “Behind The Wall: A Prisoner’s Journal” By Christopher Monihan. Available on Amazon in paperback and eBook.