Life Long Journey


The Story Behind Breaking Cycles

The Breaking Cycles Project. Some of you know the story. It’s a story of trial and failure. It tells of a lost path, a lost journey and lost soul. What happened? Why?

Do you recall the girl who wore her heart on her sleeve and wanted to travel this vast and wide country on her bike? She’s that girl who kept knocking and knocking on prison doors until they eventually they let her in.  She entered with a mission to teach yoga, offer a practice of self study and be a voice for anyone who wanted to speak and be heard. Perhaps they could offer a few words of wisdom to those who might be heading down the same path.  She wanted to hear all about their life's journey.  Remember that girl?

My hands are trembling as I write these words, and my nose begins to run as tears fill my eyes. Failure is not an option for me, but I am willing to accept life lessons. Condemnation is also not acceptable but I will heartily embrace a second chance. 

I began my journey three years ago with a mission to give hope and offer another chance to those who need it most. Some might look at failure as a death sentence. At the time, I did. When I felt the ride begin to crumble, I lost sight of my mission. Little did I know it at the time, but failure was a part of my mission. This was something unfamiliar to me; something that I wasn’t used to.  In hindsight, it was something I needed to experience to fully understand the mission of hope.  I needed to feel it, live it and breathe it. The voice of failure still echoes in my mind: “People gave you money and supported you, yet you let them down.  How can you live with yourself?  YOU’RE A FAILURE!!” After the initial feeling of shame, self doubt soon took center stage in my mind.  Days turned into weeks, which turned into months. 

I found myself consumed by these thoughts of failure. My motivation and self confidence evaporated.  It felt like I died in that moment. I lost faith. I lost friends. I lost the person I loved. I lost my will. I lost all direction.  I lost everything, including myself.  What would you do if you lost everything?  How would you cope?

Have you ever been to Prison? How about jail? Have you ever been arrested? Has HR ever given you a warning or written you up? Were you ever sent to detention? Grounded by your parents? We’ve all done something. We all started somehow, which led us somewhere. Winding roads lead us down different paths. The choices we make and the people with whom we come into contact are all part of the journey of life. We boast about the good, such the awards we’ve won and promotions we receive. Yet, when do we speak about the things that happen in our lives that are uncomfortable? That hurt us? The times we failed?  Those untold events, secrets, and lies. For how long do we remain silent?  Do we share them with others or do we bury them deep within our souls?  What kind of person do you become as a result of your actions? Do you recognize this person when you look in the mirror?

We’re not all that different. Some of us simply become better at wearing different masks.  There are different kinds of prison.  Some of us wallow in self pity. Some of us live in it daily in a building comprised of cement blocks, steel bars, barbed wire fences and alarms. Others experience it in our daily lives through unhappy jobs, marriages or friendships; as well as through feelings of shame and guilt. So who are we to judge? What if we could all let down our guards, hang up the masks and let go of the shame we carry within us?  Who, or rather, what would we be then?  Raw, uncovered and naked in truth.

Does this sound familiar?  It does to me.   I gave in to failure and allowed it consume me. I was so ashamed and guilty that it felt like I died in self pity. I traveled to escape reality. I became numb to the conversations of truth and avoided any sense of confrontation by leaving. What’s the point, right?

The point is to learn. Ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders. To achieve this, one must first dig deep into oneself and uncover, which will hopefully lead to an understanding. I was running because I did not want to uncover the deep, dark secrets of my soul that I spent years burying. Why uncover the past?

I didn’t know why, but I heard the cry of my soul. I began to dig, then went deeper and deeper. I grew up in shame. My mother was physically and mentally abused by my father.  He even put a gun to her head a pulled the trigger when she announced the news that she was carrying a baby girl, who so happened to be me. Can you image my mother’s pain? I grew up wanting to make it all better. “It will be okay, don’t worry about me, I’ll take care of myself - you’ve done and endured more than enough.”  It became the driving force of my life and led to awards, success, scholarships, interviews and travels. Still, this never allowed my mother to be a mother, and it never allowed me to feel like an actual child. I never wanted to be a burden, yet it wasn’t until I in fact felt like a burden that my world as I had known it collapsed around me. My soul was screaming for help but didn’t know how to just come out and ask for it.  I’ve never allowed myself to ask for help, so consequently, it wasn’t something that I was accustomed to. I always simply dealt with anything that was handed to me. It wasn’t until this failure that I truly realized what was missing. I needed my mother’s help, and I needed family. It had become time to let down my guard and declare that everything wasn’t okay.   It was OK to admit that I don’t know what to do.  I had to acknowledge my pain and the shame I had hidden away inside. I not only had to come to grips with my failure; I had to finally come to the realization that I’m not as strong or as brave as I thought. FUCK!  Here I was, 30 years old on the doorstep of my mother’s home crying for help like a 3 year old child. 

Sometimes we hit bumps in the road that signal to us a need to make a turn down another path. Sometimes we have to go through a hurricane to see how much destruction our choices in life can cause. Sometimes we have to go away to deal with these choices and regain ourselves. Isn’t that what prison does?  It takes you away from society to allow you to think. It gives you that time to dig deep, uncovering yourself.  It affords you a chance to find a new path and new outlook on life. Don’t we all need second chances? Don’t we all need help? Rather than judge and point the finger, why not lend a hand and help someone who has fallen? We’ve all fallen. So who are we to cast judgement?  I ask you to listen closely to someone's story. Understand their life and maybe then, you will be able to see the light through all the darkness. To see the hope among-st all the despair. To offer a second chance in life that can re-emerge from the destruction. 

Zoe Skylar quoted,

 “For a star to be born, there is one thing that must happen: a gaseous nebula must collapse. So collapse. Crumble. This is not your destruction. This is your birth.”

I ask you to please join me on this journey of second chances. Together, let’s help break the cycle of shame. This is the second chapter in The Breaking Cycles project. Will you come along for the ride? Some might not believe in me, and that’s okay. You have every right not to. For a time, I didn’t believe in myself and still have my moments of self-doubt. At the same time, the voice inside me never dies. I won’t rest until this journey is complete.  This has become my life's work and my soul’s mission. 

If you can help The Breaking Cycles Project in anyway, know that you will be supporting organizations across the United States who are working endlessly to give new hope and direction to those who have entered through prison gates. May we not forget but forgive. Let’s try to build a world of forgiveness and understanding by creating new hope and a second chance for everyone in our society and our country. 

Brittany Doherty