The Shawshank Redemption is on my list of favorite movies. When I still had cable and would endlessly flip through channels because nothing good was ever on TV, I would stop at this movie no matter what section it was in. It’s a powerful commentary on life and all it’s messiness, sadness, brokenness. One scene in particular is heartbreaking to me. It’s the scene where the old man who spent his entire adult life in prison finally wins his “freedom”. Before leaving prison, he tells his friends he’s terrified because he doesn’t know how he will survive. They follow him as he reluctantly leaves the front gates of the prison alone, no family, no friends, no job, no money, fear in his eyes. The whole world changed! He makes his way to the boarding house, enters his room, and promptly hangs himself. That scene makes me cry every time. It’s so sad.
What he experienced is called institutionalization. Spending your entire life in prison changes your worldview. And sadly, for those who are institutionalized, there is no amount of preparation for the culture shock of being turned loose back into the world left behind.
It would have been kinder of the penal system to let the old man stay in prison. He had been there so long it was his home.
I spent 42 years being a certain person with a certain worldview, believing things about myself, some true, some false, but all deeply ingrained in my psyche. Then by the grace of God, I was set free, the prison gates flung open. And I ran out of the cell to freedom. And it was so good to be free. For awhile.
But then, after some time passed, I went back to the prison. Not because it was better, no. But because I know it, understand the rules of it, somehow feel safer there. Crazy I know.
In the long walk to freedom, there are many things I’ve said out loud to others I thought would surely make them despise me, but didn’t. There are also many things I haven’t said out loud for the same reason. Then there are the things I can’t say out loud yet because they make me want to die from shame. But I figure if I can say them to God who knows everything about me anyway, then I’m making progress.
So while I appreciate the love and encouragement I’ve received over the last 8+ years, I hope you understand, I’ve been burned too many times. I’m not just going to open up and bare my soul to you out loud.
Ah but I tasted freedom. I know it’s better out there. There’s joy and happiness and love. So I make the break for freedom again and again and again. Each time I run, I hope to stay out there a little bit longer, until someday I stay out of that prison cell for good.
Linking up with the ladies @(in)courage.