Kim's world was anything but settled.
"[My mom] liked to move around a lot," Kim recalls. "She was married a few times. She didn't pick the best husbands."
All that moving made it hard for Kim to be comfortable. She had an alcoholic step father for most of her childhood—an emotionally, mentally and physically abusive step father—who took out his frustration on Kim and her mother. She remembers leaving things packed and ready to go for when her mom would get fed up.
But she also remembers coming back home—again and again.
NOWHERE TO TURN
"The world was always kind of topsy-turvy," said Kim. "So I just learned to walk on egg shells. … I never knew where my place was in the world."
When her step father's best friend assaulted her and threatened to kill her mom if she told anyone, those egg shells started to feel more like shards of glass.
"My mom was all I ever had so I never told anybody," she said. "I thought I had done something wrong to cause it."
When she was a teenager she started drinking, trying to push down the feelings of guilt and shame. She tried to compensate with things that made her feel better, or let her forget about what made her feel bad. Life on the run eventually led to prison.
NOT SO ALONE
Kim knew about God. Growing up on the coast of Washington, she remembers school busses picking kids up and taking them to church. Her mom wasn't religious but made sure Kim had a chance to go to church. Despite knowing God was there, Kim felt far from him.
"My grandfather died when I was 14," Kim said. She was mad at God because she lost the one man in her life who never hurt her. But in prison, she found that God would never hurt her either.
As she was getting ready to go into a substance abuse unit in prison a friend told her about a new program at the prison—the Prison Fellowship Academy™, located in select prisons across the country, takes men and women through a holistic life transformation spanning weeks or months, where they are guided by Prison Fellowship® staff and volunteers to lead lives of purpose and productivity inside and outside of prison.
Kim could have gone on work release if she went into the substance abuse unit, but she opted to stay in the Academy.
"This is where I should be," she said. "I shouldn't have gotten in because of the time restraints I had. But by the grace of God, I got in because that's where I'm supposed to be."
A NEW REFLECTION
The Academy helped Kim find value in herself. She started to see herself as a new person, which led her to build a bridge with her son, who she hadn't seen since going to prison.
Now she’s excited for her son to look at her and say, "I have an adult mother now. I don't have to take care of her."
"The person I was before the Prison Fellowship Academy was a person who was unsure of herself," she said. "[Now] I can look in the mirror and say what I did in the past is what I did in the past."