Jacquie Polverari is a member of our White Collar Support Group that meets online on Zoom on Monday evenings. We will celebrate our 250th weekly meeting on Monday, March 29, 2021, 7 pm ET, 4 pm PT; all Fellow Travelers are invited.
I never thought of myself needing a support group of any kind, after all I am the one who gives the support and does not receive it or even seek it. But upon reflection for the upcoming 250th meeting of Progressive Prison Ministries support group in which I have been a part of since September 2016, I cannot imagine not having the support that has been given to me by this amazing group of individuals.
After living all my adult life as a people-pleaser, caregiver, “fixer” of problems for all my family, loved ones and friends I self-destructed hard in 2009. I was a business owner, wife, mother, daughter, and friend to everyone, except to myself as I lost my sense of self in all the expectations that I thought was expected of me wearing all those hats. I sold my morals and ethics to be a savior of a failing business because that is what I thought my worth was. No one told me that but that is what I believed and told myself when I took a mortgage out on my home and overstated my income. I told myself this is how I can fix my business, the company that employed all the people that were important to me as failure was not an option, so I used the funds to make payroll and operating expenses and self-destructed going down a rabbit hole into the darkest moments of my life.
For the next five years, after pleading guilty to mortgage fraud and while awaiting sentencing I isolated myself. I was embarrassed, ashamed and most of all I felt guilty of what I brought upon my family in making such poor choices. I thought there was no one else in the world who made such poor choices, I was all alone in my thoughts. I just wanted to go and do my 7 months in Danbury Prison and come home so I could never think if it again…I was wrong!
I self-surrendered to Danbury Federal Prison January 5, 2015 and when I walked out of there to “freedom” on July 22, 2015 I felt more chained and isolated that I ever have. When I was in Danbury, I was forced time…time to reflect upon the poor choices I made, time to look at myself for who I was and especially time to decide who I wanted to become. I met the most incredible women who also were forced that time, we had a bond and we felt part of a community of women working on themselves to seek out change, see evolution within ourselves. I was excited to start a new chapter of my life with a renewed sense of worth of myself. But what I found when I came home was a non-forgiving society with much judgement and was quite unwelcoming. I questioned the work I had done on myself because maybe I was not worth given a second chance. I again isolated myself and became flooded with guilt and shame, how dare I think that these poor choices I made would not define me because my neighborhood and community certainly thought that. Although I had an immense support system within my family, I could not face the world because I did not feel I was deserving.
The feeling of loneliness and isolation grew until I came across Rev. Jeff Grant’s website, prisonist.org. on an internet quest to find people that were going through something similar as me. The first Monday night meeting I joined I found that I needed support and I found a community where I was allowed a forum to be open and vulnerable without judgement. Reaching out to Jeff was one of the best choices I made because this group gave me community and the feeling of acceptance that I was so in need of.
I thank Jeff Grant and every individual who I crossed paths within our support group over the past five years because if not for them I am not quite sure I would not have had the courage or strength to pick myself up, dust myself off and take a breath. A breath to realize that people are not defined by their pasts and we could change our behaviors and thoughts.
Fast forward to today, almost 250 meetings later, this group helped me find my way again. It has been such an essential piece of my healing. I am so grateful for every individual in the group, especially Fr. Joe and Rev. Jeff for hosting this weekly and giving so much of yourselves to make others feel whole again.
You can reach Jacqueline at: http://www.evolutionreentry.com/.