Advocacy Corner: From Jail Cells to Wedding Bells

By Amanda Cassidy, Reentry Advocacy Fellow

When I was arrested the last time after spending months in deplorable conditions and coming to grips with the reality around me, I was utterly lost. I made a decision to change the course of my journey. I spent my free time thinking and dreaming about how exactly my life would be different. I thought about what I would want to have accomplished and what I want people to say about me at my funeral, morbid I know, but it gave me the shift in my perspective to begin planning the long game. I decided where I wanted to end up in my career, I learned how to manage my finances, I decided what kind of house I wanted and how I wanted to restore my relationships with my sons and my family. I built a plan, writing it all out in a journal, working backwards from the end on how to get there. Setting up daily, weekly and monthly goals. 


The one thing I did not plan for was a romantic relationship. You see, every romantic relationship I had ever been in was abusive in some capacity. I had endured years of domestic violence and had been broken down to the point where I no longer believed that romance and relationships were going to be a part of my story. I choose instead to focus on rebuilding and healing myself. I signed up for all the classes, support groups and therapy I could get while incarcerated. I began down the path of recovery. Enjoying the journey, accomplishing my dreams and becoming the very best version of myself I could be. 


After being released for a year I moved from a recovery house to stay with a roommate. In the transition I had to find a new 12 step meeting to attend. I walked into that meeting only expecting to find people on the journey with me. What I found was him. We went on our first date a few days later and I remember telling him that I was on a mission to build an empire and to save the world one addict at a time. I remember he laughed not knowing if he should believe me or not. The more time I spent with him the more I dug into continuing the work on myself. I was determined not to lose focus on myself this time. To not make him the center of everything like I had in the past. A few months later he gave me the key to his home, as I became a board member for Building Promise USA. He met my family and I met his. Our children got to know each other and we made a decision to build a house together shortly before I became the Reentry Advocacy Fellow. Almost a year after we met I proposed to him after we took our first family vacation together. We moved into our very first home on the day I celebrated 3 years in recovery and a month later I was given the opportunity to work at Goodwill Central Texas


This man has not once raised his voice at me, he has not raised his hand at me. He is loving and compassionate, respectful and caring. He is dedicated to his recovery, his family and his own journey. My biggest prayer since we got engaged has been for our wedding to be filled with recovery. Recovery is what makes us who we both are today and without it we would not have this story. The minister for our wedding will be Carl Hunter, ED of Building Promise USA and a person in long term recovery. The owner of the venue also owns 3 recovery houses. The friend making our cake, she’s in recovery. The caterers are from a restaurant called Comfort Cafe which is a donations only restaurant that uses all proceeds to cover the cost of substance abuse treatment for clients of Serenity Star in Smithville, TX. Every piece and detail of our wedding, our personal stories and our journey together supports the recovery community and is an example of the power of choice. In exactly 28 days, July 28th, I will get to become Mrs. Amanda Cassidy – Trejo. I once heard that when we make plans, God laughs. I never knew where this road would lead me and I am forever grateful for where it has. I am open and hopeful about the destination. 

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The Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable is collaborative promoting safe and healthy communities through effective reentry and reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons and individuals with criminal histories in Austin/Travis County, Texas.

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