Have you ever wondered what it must feel like for a person to be convicted of a crime that they did not commit, be sentenced to life with no possibility of parole, but then decades later some evidence is found that changes the whole case and their innocence is proven? I have wondered what it was like for them when they returned to the world. How they felt to finally be vindicated and how they dealt with that vindication? How it feels to enter a world that changed so much while they were gone and if they were bitter about the years lost? I now understand.
My aunt were talking last week and we were talking about why I have become non religious. This was pertaining to a church culture called the Cancel Culture but for me it was not just a church culture is was my life culture. The life culture me and all my siblings were born into, raised under, and have alll fought to escape. For this reason I will be calling it the Jodi Culture (My family will understand the reference).
The Jodi Culture that my siblings and I lived in went something like this. You can do no right, you are born a horrible sinner that has nothing good in them. You better earn your right to exist by pleasing everyone but yourself because you were born bad. If you please yourself by even caring about your own feelings or your own safety that is selfishness and selfishness is evil so once again you are evil. You are convicted of being evil since birth. You are condemed by others and yourself every single time you ever choose yourself. Therefore you must live in irrevocable shame for the rest of yourlife. But because thats not enough while you live in that shame you are now dead to us and your life has no value.
That is the culture my siblings and I grew up in and have fought our entire lives to get out of. In watching my little sister as she has journeyed down this road of freedom I craved what she had. Somehow she had broke free of the life sentence I was still carrying. At times I was so jealous that I did what others did to me. I judged her. She was only free because she was selfish. Look how she only cares about what she wants. I despised her at times. Not for choosing herself, I was proud of her for that. But because she found her way out of a prison I was still stuck in. Why was I condemned when I did it and she was free when she did it?
Now I realize that she had and escape partner in her life, her husband that showed her that her culture she lived in was wrong, And I still had a prison guard in my ex husband that kept re-enforcing that the culture I was still in was right, It took me breaking out of my prison and choosing not to let my kids grow up like me to get out.
I then met my partner in crime, my escape partner who showed me my culture was wrong by being the exact opposite of that culture in most ways. Now I am free of my prison. But I still felt haunted and hunted. So I set out to clear my name. To prove I never deserved to be in that prison in the first place. And that I never deserved what happen to me while I was in that prison. I had been reprieved but now I wanted vindication. I think that is what the last few weeks have been about for me as I went through my entire life and made peace with everything. I was vidicating myself to myself.
I showed myself how much I loved even when it was not returned and was weaponized against me. I still did not seek revenge. I was loyal to people that were not only not loyal to me but actually wanted to destroy me. I showed respect to people that did not even try to hide their disrespect and hate for me. I can walk away from my old life with my head held high that I was able to do what most people do not I get to walk away knowing I tried my best in every situation in my life. I have no regrets. I did the best I could for the culture I lived in and now that I am out of it I am learning from it to do better. I have vidicated myself by not only saying I am a good person but by proving beyond a reasonable doubt I am a good person. Which proves that that the conviction of me being bad for being human was wrong and I am vidicated.
For 38 years I lived in that culture that became a prison to me. Literally living every day just waiting to die so I could go plead my case to the creature of the universe. Now that I have been vidicated and am out of that prison I am living to live. I truly feel like I am alive for the first time but with a lifetime of knowledge to guide me. I hear songs I have known for years like it is the very first time. I see everything in the world differently like I am looking at for the very first time. But then again because I am not looking at the world through the bars of my prison anymore. I am actually living and doing everything I ever dreamed of while sitting behind those bars. No longer am I watching life and wishing I could be apart of it. I am finally getting to be a part of it for the first time ever. It is amazing, and terryfing, and overwhelming, and exciting. It is everything. And isnt that what life really is just everything?
I now understand what those people that get their convictions reversed must feel like. To not only be released but to be found innocent too after being guilty so long. It’s a freedom that is indescribable. It is the strongest feeling of being alive because I earned it. I have been vidicated. Now I get to enjoy life with a new apprecation few can understand. That is the compensation for my wrongful conviction. And that in itself is worth more than all the money in the world. It makes all those years I lost well worth it. I am free I am vindicated.