As I type this post tears are streaming down my face so please bear with any typos you might find.
I just finished a new release by Debbie Macomber called Any Dream Will Do and for the first time in many months I’m moved to write and share with my readers a piece of myself.
I am a convicted felon.
This is not something I share with everyone usually, nor is it something I’m proud of, but it is a fact.
In 2007 I was charged with and convicted of embezzlement. As a result of this I lost many friends, most of my family, custody of my precious daughter, and all my hopes for my future. For ten years I’ve lived with the horrible choices I made and felt that each day was just the bridge to the next day since all my dreams of a future for myself, a career, and a family were forever lost. Most days I feel utterly and completely hopeless.
As a person who has battled depression and anxiety from a young age the added hopelessness occasionally pounds down around me like a blackness threatening to overtake me entirely. I try very hard everyday to remind myself I am exactly where I put myself and don’t wallow in the self-pity; some days I give in to it.
The hardest part of living with a felony is knowing who you can trust not to judge you for the mistakes you made. In my experience there aren’t very many people who fall into that category. I’ve been lucky to find a handful of new friends over the last decade that have embraced me and the history I bring with me with loving, non-judgemental arms. They have allowed me to show them who I am today without unpacking all the baggage I carry around. I’m also lucky to have just a couple of friends who have looked past my transgressions and have remained, unwaveringly, loyal and loving before, during, and following the worst years of my life. For all those people I am and forever will be eternally grateful.
However, there have been so many more, from lovers to friends, who have refused to see me as anything more than the mistakes I have made. The hardest of those who judge are definitely potential employers. As a convicted felon any job I am qualified for and more than capable of doing and succeeding at comes with a background check that I cannot pass. If you tell an employer up front that there’s a felony charge in your history you will never get a foot in the door. I’ve learned this repeatedly over the last decade. It doesn’t matter what your experience is, your level of intelligence, or your skill set. Employers are unforgiving of money based crimes and will not give you the opportunity to show your value as a potential team member. I wish this weren’t true, but I have yet to experience anything else.
In Any Dream Will Do, Shay Benson finds a program that not only teaches her to stop being so angry about her past, but also teaches her to dream again for her future when, like myself, she feels her hopes and dreams are gone. She makes a series of connections that give her the opportunities to prove her worth both to them and to herself. She finds love and forgiveness in friends and a man she cares for. Drew Douglas shows her that she can trust her heart to someone who won’t always jump to the wrong conclusions about her because “once a thief…..”
I almost feel foolish in letting this book give me a renewed spark of hope, but it has. These types of programs don’t exist where I live, and I am not a religious person as Drew is, but somehow this story touched a piece of my heart that has been closed up for a long time; the part of my heart that holds my dreams.
I am not a young woman, nor am I in any of the same types of circumstances or community that Shay was in, but this book has reignited some hope. I can’t even begin to explain how that feels. For now it’s enough just to reconnect to that feeling.
Thank you, Debbie Macomber for writing Any Dream Will Do and for reminding me you have to dream something, anything, or it will never have the chance to come true.