Saturday, April 30, 2011

Emotional Roller Coaster

I sometimes feel envy. I sometimes get angry.  I sometimes feel guilty. And I sometimes feel lost in this world. Being the girlfriend of an inmate, I go through a roller coaster of emotions pretty much every day. And I can’t understand it other than the fact that no one around me understands.
I am envious of those who have their husbands at home and have the audacity to gripe to me that “He left his clothes on the floor again.” Or “He didn’t get me what I wanted for my birthday.” I wish I had those problems. I wish I could complain about something like that. I wish that I could just be able to touch him when I wanted to. And then I get angry.
I get angry at those who don’t understand and ask me “Why are you still with him?” or they try to tell me why I should leave or all of my man’s faults. I get angry because of those who so seldom appreciate these little insignificant things that I don’t get. I want to scream and yell at them to suck it up! “At least you have your husband” I want to grab them and shake them and say “WAKE UP! You have everything!” But I don’t. I empathize with their imagined trials and fume silently. And then the guilt sinks in.
Guilt is a funny thing. I feel guilty for these feelings I have towards women who honestly just don’t understand and probably never will. It’s like a child who asks an impolite question out loud in public because they just don’t know better. But I feel guilty about more than just that. I feel guilty when my kids are dying to do something and I just can’t afford to do it. 
Lost and wandering in an abyss of nameless faceless enemies all wanting a piece of me. I feel pulled in 15 different directions. I feel lost with no one who understands my situation or my problems. And I fall on my knees and cry to the heavens asking God “Why me?” I never have gotten an answer. But that’s okay. Because there are more people out there like me. And I can reach out to them. And I can help them. I can lend my heart or just be a friendly shoulder to cry on. And when they ask “Why me?”, I may not have the answer. But I will understand and love them because they are my sisters.


I just came across an old card.  Just wanted to post what I had written it in.  Strangely enough, this is one of the few things I recovered from the office.  It was dated May 9th, 2010. This was before I discovered everything else, and only knew the basics.
 "I love you. I will always love you. And as much as I love you, I cannot sit back and watch you destroy yourself. You have a choice. Me and your family, or the dope. If you go back to using again, I will leave you for the last time. You will not see me. You will not see my kids. You are my best friend and it kills me to tell you this. You are without a doubt the love of my life, but I will not sit back and watch you destroy yourself. I will not help you destroy yourself. You are too smart and too talented to waste your life. Whatever it takes, I will be here to catch you. I will be by your side to help you get better. I will be there to hold your hand when it's hard and I will cheer for you when you succeed, but I will not watch you do this. I know you can't see the man you once were, but I can. He's the man I fell in love with and the man I want to grow old with and right now, you are not that man. But he is in there somewhere. I am your girlfriend and it is my job to tell you when you are screwing up. Well guess what? You are screwing up. I cannot physically, mentally, or emotionally do this anymore. So you have one hell of a decision to make."
I left this letter sealed with his secretary. He came home to me less than an hour later, in tears begging me not to leave him... that he would do whatever it took to be with me. And he has. And he has stumbled. And he will pick himself back up again. It will not always be perfect. It may take time to heal old hurts. But it will be done. And time will tell the rest.  Now comes the waiting patiently part...something I've never been good at.

Living Life

No one person sets out and says, “I am going to marry an inmate”. It is not something you plan for. There is no insurance or savings plan for your spouse going to jail.
So when you are in that situation, you feel lost and confused. Forget trying to find anyone who actually understands. You are in a labyrinth of emotions and drowning in debt.
Aside from the confusion and money matters, what hinders you the most? Do you know that it is you? WHAT!!?? Yes. You will hinder yourself from achieving goals and dreams. You will hinder yourself from living life and you won’t even realize it till it’s gone and you can’t get it back.
You see, what I finally realized is that life doesn’t wait for you. You wait for life. Life doesn't just happen. You make it happen. Sure, there are things that are beyond your control. However, if you wait for someday, it may never come. And life is way too short to live with regrets.
Don’t mistake what I am saying, I am not saying leave your husband behind and go on with your life, but don’t stop living it either. Dane is my biggest fan. He wants to see me succeed. And he knows that it doesn’t mean that I do not love him any less, but that these are things I need to do for me. Not anyone else, but me.
So, even if it’s just something simple, like taking a photography class or a yoga class, then DO IT! Don’t make excuses. Find a way. Live life and you will not have regrets and you will not end up resenting your husband/boyfriend because he “held you back”. The only thing stopping you is YOU.  Don't let that take control of things!  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tonight it hit me.  I was sitting alone, in my car in the driveway, CRYING!  Pretty ridiculous if you ask me...but it seems to be the norm lately.  

My world has crashed down around me. I was hoping to at least get a letter today, or something to pick me up a bit, but it didn't happen.

In one way it doesn't seem like it has been that long.  Only roughly 4 months. But when I think of all he has missed it seems like he has been gone forever.

Things have changed quite a bit in the past couple of months. I've moved out of our beautiful home, and into my own... I've sold just about everything we owned outright, and it's been a nightmare since he left.  I switched the boys schools, I no longer frequent the same bars and hangouts because I just simply can't put myself through the misery of listening to every single person asking me questions, prying for information (only to turn around and run their mouths), and just making me a wreck.  

Not a day goes by that we don't think or talk about him.  We laugh, we joke, we reminisce, and we cry happy tears and sad tears... sometimes all at once.  I wish I could be the rock for my kids... the one that is keeping them together... but truth is, I can't even do that for myself!  Dane was always the strong one.  I never have been.  

As for me, there's been a lot of change since he's been gone.  I've battled back and forth with myself about waiting on him.  Some days there is no doubt in my mind that I want him and only him, but other days... when the resentment and anger hits, let me tell ya!!  I went down to 115 lbs, back up to 130, and now back down at barely 120.  I'm a friggin' mess to put it lightly.  I don't eat, sleep, or do anything I used to do regularly.  Some days the only thing that gets me out of bed is my kids begging me to do something with them.  And even then, my mom or best friend have to call me and beat me up until I finally agree to go about my daily life.  It's pathetic, it's sad, and it's sickening.  No doubt.  But I've made myself a promise and I've made my man a promise.  And that promise is that I will not put my life on hold!  I will do the things I WANT to do, and I will do the things I NEED to do.  I'm going back to school!  Yep, you heard me.  Anesthesiology, baby!  

There are times though that I still expect to see him playing video games with the kids when I get home from work, or see him outside throwing the football with them before dinner, chasing them around and making them scream, smack him for pinching my ass, or for calling me "boobzilla", or hear him make a smart ass comment when I'm watching a crazy-stupid reality TV show. Even sometimes when I'm asleep I feel his arms around me and wake up only to realize that he is gone and it's going to be a long time till he comes back.  That's when the emotions kick in hardcore, and the tears just never come to an end.  

I remember February 11, 2011 like it was just yesterday.  My youngest son's 3rd birthday.  One that none of us will ever forget for years to come, unfortunately.  And not for the right reasons.  :-(

Sometimes it's so hard to wrap my head around the fact that he's gone.  Gone for a very, very, very long time.  It pains me to even write this as tears swell up in my eyes.  As I always say... I saw this day coming -- I just never imagined it to be so soon.

If it wasn't for pictures, and the memories and everyday comments my boys make... I think our relationship would now feel like it was all just a dream.  

Six Million & Counting

People will never understand why I stay by him (but families are standing by men and women who have done worse I'm sure) but truth is... I have never cared what people have thought about me!  And I'm not about to start.

Sixteen million & counting. We are everywhere.

Think about it, for those who forget that the incarcerated humans in this country are indeed just that - HUMAN - I would like you to think on this the next time you talk about "inmates, criminals, convicts, etc...". These humans have families and those who love them despite whatever they did. Look around you and wonder, because this is who we are... 

We take care of your children and grandchildren in nursery schools, we give them shots in the doctor's office, we are dental assistants, we are school teachers and Sunday school teachers, we stand behind you in the grocery store, we prepare your medicine in the drug store, we work in banks, we approve your loans, we service your insurance claims, we work for newspapers, TV stations and radio stations, we read your electric meters and water meters, we are your landlords, your neighbors, we take care of your elderly parents in nursing homes, we are nurses, lab technicians, X-ray technicians, we own beauty shops, flower shops, printing shops, we are welders, plumbers, tree trimmers, we work for the IRS, the State Dept., in the courthouse, schools, churches, drug stores and toy stores, we are legal secretaries, lawyers, school board members, we are bus drivers, we prepare meals for your kids in school, we are city council members, bank tellers, we process your checking account, your saving account, we work at your Social Security office, your insurance company, we take care of your IRA, stocks, bonds, we sell your kids bikes, school supplies, clothes, shoes, eyeglasses, we repair your cars, we are real estate agents, car dealers, college professors, psychologists, administrative assistants, safety engineers and ranchers. We work at King Soopers, Albertsons, Trader Joe's, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, Macy's, Nordstrom and Saks 5th Avenue. We sell Arbonne, Mary Kay and Tupperware. We are not all "on welfare", no matter what the government would like you to think...

There are two million people in prison in America and twice that many on parole and probation. Add in mothers, fathers, children, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends and about sixteen million people are personally affected by the prison system in the United States...

We are tired of letting ourselves feel humiliated or embarrassed because our loved one is in prison. WE did nothing wrong, and they are paying for their crime!

We are tired of fearing the loss of our jobs or evictions from our homes should anyone find out we have a loved one in prison.

We are tired of being made to feel inferior or unwelcome in churches, clubs, organizations or society in general simply because we refuse to abandon our loved ones.

We are ready to unite, to come out of hiding and openly support each other and our loved ones. It's a new day, America and we're here to prove it!

We are ready to speak out against the "they deserve what they get" attitude we hear you talk about in stores, theaters and restaurants.

We number in the millions, we are everywhere, every state, county, city and town. We may even live next door to you.

Sixteen million & counting. We are everywhere.


For people who didn't know around the time of my Dane's arrest, when they find out that my man is in prison (usually co-workers, who haven't worked there long will see me writing on my break or hear me talking about going to see him)...That one answer: "my boyfriend is in prison" brings out a whole slew of comments, or complete avoidance... I honestly don't mind the avoidance, but I am very happy to say that most people that I have come into contact with are cool with it. Like I always say... it is what it is.

I do think the funniest thing is when people are like "you don't seem like a prison wife"... I'm not exactly sure what a 'prison wife' is suppose to be like. I'm fairly civil, I'm blunt and brutally honest but I try to be nice and kind to everyone. I don't want any more bad karma in my life. I don't have a real record, some traffic offenses and a domestic violence case for spitting. Yeah, you heard me right.  Haha.  And for some reason people want to know about tattoos... I only have one on the back of my neck.  Odd questions I tell ya.

Another favorite... "Oh so I guess we are paying all your bills"...Um excuse me, but no. I work, and pay taxes out of my paychecks... and I make way too much to get anything anyways.  Haha!  My mom watches my kids while I am at work, so I don't have to pay for daycare, another thing I'm eternally grateful for.  So just because my man is in prison doesn't mean you are paying for my bills... but just let me know if you want to!  Lmao.

I usually have to ask them... so if your husband/wife makes a mistake or is in the wrong place at the wrong time, or pisses off the wrong person and ends up in prison... then do your vows and/or commitment mean nothing to you?  I don't know about them but I'm pretty fucking loyal.  And I hate myself for it.  ;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Here Comes My Frustration

We do this funny thing in America where instead of locking up our most dangerous criminals as punishment for committing heinous crimes, we kill them, thus helping them circumvent the misery of a life in a maximum security prison. I say it's a funny thing for lack of a better word, and because we are one of very few developed countries around the world that uses capital punishment. It is all but abolished across Europe, Canada, Australia, most of South America... hell, even Mexico doesn't use capital punishment! In fact, depending on your definition of what a developed nation is, I'd go so far as to say we are one of three developed countries to use capital punishment, the other two being Japan and China.

But why do we bother executing these criminals? Most of them aren't afraid to die, they've lead a life surrounded by death and murder, what difference does living make to them? I'm sure they'd much rather die than suffer the rest of their lives in a cell waiting for the sweet release of death.

They're not a danger to society either. They're locked safely away in maximum security prisons where there are guards armed with sniper rifles and all sorts of gadgets to make sure the prisoners know that escaping will be an extremely unpleasant process, one that will most likely end up in severe pain and/or death.

And life in a maximum-security prison isn't exactly the good life. The food sucks, the living conditions are shitty, you have no privacy, and you have to deal with prison yard fights and getting raped. Oh, for all you foreigners, maximum security has nothing to do with the security of the prisoners themselves (though I'm sure theoretically it's supposed to), just the security of the rest of America. No chance of escaping, and if the prisoner does manage to somehow make it outside the first of many obstacles, they'll probably be shot.

There's a lot of built up frustration and anger here for me.  Not towards Dane, but towards the fucked up judicial system.  Once they have their hooks in you, you never make it out completely.  I don't get it.  I don't get how someone who committed white collar crimes can be incarcerated for as long as murderers, and even LONGER.  I just don't understand one fucking piece of that.  Yeah, Dane fucked up.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  He took money.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars... he extorted more money and monetary items from people than I can ever wrap my head around.

That's not my point.  My point is the fact that in the United States today, there is no standard when it comes to punishment and sentencing. This area of the criminal justice system is one that is in constant flux.  Sentencing practices and goals are always under scrutiny. From "getting tough on crime" to more rehabilitative approaches, the views and goals of sentencing are ever-changing.  Of course it seems obvious that similar offenders who commit similar crimes should be treated similarly. However, that is rare and hard to come by.  Depending on the jurors, prosecutor and the judge, the case is coldly calculated.

Today there are many things the criminal justice system aims to do by imposing punishments and sentences. Goals of punishment have moved from satisfying the victim, as in early days, to more of a broad scale. There are theories on how punishment and sentencing may serve to reduce crime as a whole. General and specific deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, retribution, and reformation are just some of these goals.  I respect all of that, but I still think it's fucked up.  I just think it's absolutely ridiculous that a person can be punished for misdemeanors (and felonies) the same way a murderer or rapist is punished, and reading news articles and stories just reiterates where I stand on this matter.  Money can be replaced.  Easily.  A life cannot!

Being Back

We all make choices. And when you make the kind of choices that fuck up my life, what I want to say is that you don’t get to pick a baseless fight and expect me to forget the past and try to move on and build a relationship without resentment. But I don’t get to say that. And deep down I tell myself that there is always more value in compromise than there is in a fight. And I believe that. And I’m glad the fight is over. But now that it is, I can come back to this space and what I do get to say is this: Fuck you. Fuck you and what you've done.
Because some days I just need to talk. And while I really like you, I’d like to talk about me. Because when I’m happy, I want you to hear me laugh; and when I’m sad this may be where I cry; and when I’m hurt, well...we all need a place to bleed. Because I have a beautiful life, and I want to tell you about it. Because my life is just as f*cked up as yours is, and I want to tell you about it. Because I think it’s beyond fabulous that the incredible man wanted me to come see him. But that the best part was seeing him cuss a holy blue streak because I had a Notre Dame football hat on; and that the worst part was having to say goodbye and drive home, and that I cried for at least 90 miles.
Some things I may not want to tell you, but I have learned that I need to say them. I need to say that I may have today found myself in big shaking splashing tears. And locked myself in the bathroom to hide my sobbing from the world. I hate feeling the kind of suffocating pain a woman feels when she has to go through this. And I know that love should never be this goddamn hard. But these are the cards we've been dealt, and I'm going to deal with them.
So my life is gorgeous. And my life is also fucked. And sometimes writing is the only thing I know to do with such a beautiful wreck.

Dealing With Intruders

Well meaning or not, you will encounter people that just really want to gossip and be nosy about your situation. There is nothing more hurtful than knowing that others around you have been talking behind your back and making snide comments about your personal life, especially when you have moved forward and are feeling good about where you are at.

This recently happened to me and it really brought me back to a scene in Pretty Woman where Julia Roberts is at a Polo match with her "date".  She is a prostitute, but the man who has hired her has never treated her as one.  She feels normal and beautiful in that moment, nearly like she is on top of the world.  That feeling crumbles as a collegue of the man comes up to her and suggests that they "get together" sometime.  In a split second she is brought back to where she was just a little bit ago, feeling worthless and less than those around her.

Feelings of hurt come with the territory really.  Just when you feel like you're moving forward, you're always going to have people around you who are just finding out and that means you become the topic of conversation whether you want it to happen or not.
How do you deal with the people that are shocked you are still going to stay with your husband/wife, or those that group you into a felon status with them, etc.  Here are my responses to the naysayers in your life!

1.) The naked truth: I love him. He made several mistakes, repented for them, and is giving his whole heart to restitution and restoration. I am just loving him the way that we all want to be loved.

2.) The boundary: Wow, that feels like a very inappropriate question. I am sure you will understand why I would not want to discuss such a personal issue in the workplace.

3.) The boomerang: Why, have people abandoned you when you made a mistake?

People are typically well meaning in their quest to find out more about you, but they also need to know that if it's not something you have shared before that it is probably something that you don't want discussed or gossiped about.  Finding people who respect those boundaries are hard to come by which is why this is so important.

Never allow others to beat you down for your decision to stay with your spouse.  You're in the minority!  Most people get divorced for far less.  Holding fast to your wedding vows for better or worse is nearly a lost art.  Hang in there, you know the value your spouse has even when those around you question it.

From Good Life to Prison Life

Two years ago I had it all. A wonderful (mostly) boyfriend, 3 beautiful kids, multiple cars, a gorgeous home, and the whole future ahead of me.  I used to be one of the women who did lunch, went shopping whenever the mood struck me, didn't work at all during the summer time, and went out of town on whims.  We owned our own business, had shares in others, and I kept up as a nurse part time and a mommy and housewife the rest!  Things were looking good!

Then my world came crashing down. My man was charged and 3 years later, was convicted of all these white collar crimes.  We lost everything.  And I mean everything.

I used to be one of those people who looked down on prisoner’s wives and girlfriends.  I used to think they were pathetic, had low self esteem and no respect, and basically were beneath me. Now I’m one of them… and it’s my turn to struggle and be judged.  But through all of this, I've learned that there is no such thing as being beneath someone.  We are all human!  With America incarcertaing more people than any other country, many people find themselves in the exact same situation.  It is lonely, and confusing and often fraught with anger and shame.  But it doesn't HAVE to be!  That's why we're all connected in some way, shape or form, and we're here to SUPPORT one another and not judge!  Only God can judge us... we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all have our own values, opinions, and beliefs.

What my man did was completely selfish and has cost our family a great deal.  However, I take it one day at a time.  I’m a ride or die kinda girl.  I refuse to give up or give in!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

After today, I have one thing to say!!!

Just because someone is in prison doesn't make them less than human, and contrary to most popular belief, they aren't bad guys or bad people.  They just got caught!  Yes there are some bad ones in there, but seriously folks... bad immoral people are everywhere.  Lighten up.

Hello Free World from JR

Hello freeworld. 

My cell is about  8 x 13 to give you an idea of how big that is, I can start at one corner and in 6 steps be at the opposite corner. There are 2 chairs and a top and bottom bunk, 2 shelves, and a toilet and sink. This is where I spend 18 + hours a day. I do have a cell mate so there is no privacy at all. The 6 hours out of the cell (spaced out through the day) are spent in the dayroom with one TV packed with 20 or more people so it is crowded and always loud. As far as food, potatoes and bread are served 3 times a day and the rest of the food sucks, but there are a lot of people out there with nothing so I can't really complain. 3 hots and a cot you know? The showers are never hot, lucky if they are warm half the time, and for some reason the water is really hard on your skin. Is it easy?  No. I can't speak for everyone in lock up but for me there are a lot of psychological pressures that at times seem overwhelming. To come to grips with the fact that I am taken out of life is tough and that's what this is, the same as a child receiving time out just on a bigger scale. 

Eventually you have to reach the mindset that you have no control over what happens on the outside and what will be will be. The ones that don't do that have the hardest time. The support from the outside helps so much I can't say it enough. My girl helps me more than you can imgine, she's my rock. She reminds me that there is still a life out there, she keeps me involved in the kids lives and her life and she always reminds me how much she loves me. If you have someone in lock up let them know that you are there for them and it helps them keep their priorities stright. Boredom, depression, guilt, and loneliness are all things an inmate has to deal with. Some people think it isn't so bad on people in here, but all I can say is there's a reason a lot of people break. There are some things I didn't talk about but I'll talk about next time.  Violence, rape, drugs and gangs is a subject in itself. I will say that I know there are people in prison that talk to their moms, wives, family and friends like shit. I have no respect for those people. For some reason there are a lot of guys in here that forget that life on the outside isn't always easy. I give them props for holding it down. Katie is my hero. She is tough as hell and she's doing it all till I get home. I love and respect her. But I loved and respected her before I  got locked up and I will for the rest of my life. If there is someone in lock up that doesn't appreciate, love and trust you when they're down, they won't when they're out. Well I feel like I've blabbed enough, remember if anyone has any questions or a subject to talk about let us know. Thanks for reading.


His post always make me blush. I'm so lucky to have him in my life, I've loved him the entire time I've known him.  I think it's amazing that he and I came up with this idea for him to write about what it's like so that I am able to update people that DON'T get letters from their loved ones.  I belong to a support group called Prison Wives.  All of my notes always provide such great insight, and if I can help at least ONE person get through this...I will sleep easier at night!!  It isn't always easy knowing that I'm his main source of support, but I am, and wouldn't change that for a minute.  It does kill me inside to read about his conditions and know there is nothing that I can do to help and to make him more comfortable...but I'll give it time!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Letter From JR

Hmmmm, yeah, he's definitely mastered the skill of sweet talking.  But I'm in tears over here!! 

Hi Boobzilla, 

I'm here to make amends even though I know you don't want to hear it.  I've had my chance, too many in fact, and all the times I let you down, and the devastation I have caused you is a burden for me everyday.  I take full accountablity for all the pain I have inflicted upon you and the kids.  I got the pictures today.  I miss you and the boys more than you will ever realize.  I have been thinking way too much while I've been in here.  I messed up an incredible life and deeply regret it.  I am very sorry for anything and everything I have ever done to hurt you; I hope you know that.  I was never fair to you.  You gave me everything I needed, and on top of that, you loved and supported me in everything I did.  Even when I was consistently fucking up and had no direction or intentions of being the man you deserved, you kept encouraging me and telling me that things would work out.  You are every reason, every hope, and every dream I have ever had.  No matter what happens to us in the future, I will always love you with every breath I take.  

Being here for the last month and a half has given me a new outlook on life.  I'm trying to remain optimistic but it's pretty fucking difficult.  I have to say it is strange being sober, but I feel so much better it's ridiculous.  I don't know why I waited so long.  Your presumptions throughout our relationship were always accurate.  I was not the man I wanted to be or ever thought I would be, and furthermore, I didn't measure up to your caliber.  I know we'd both like to forget everything that has happened, but give it time and you will see.  I am very remorseful for all the mind games, lies, broken promises, manipulation, and heartache.  Words don't even come near to explaining how awful I feel about everything.

All I do everyday is think.  This place is like a living hell.  I've met some interesting people, but it's just not like being home and doing what I want when I want to.  I feel like a part of me is missing but I can't seem to figure it out.  In all honesty, I'm not having withdrawals from the alcohol or drugs.  More so, you and the boys.  I miss laughing with you guys, wrestling after dinner, playing football in the yard, and shaving cream fights in the bathroom just to list a few.  Talking to you guys on the phone is the hardest part.  I love listening to the kids' belly laughs, but it brings tears to my eyes thinking about all that I am missing out on daily.  But, just so you know, the thought of being with you guys someday is enough to get me through this.  Oh, and the thought of a homemade meal doesn't sound half bad either.  I think I'd rather starve than eat this shit.

Tell the boys to kick some ass in baseball this season.  I will miss coaching them.  Give those studs my love, please.

And just for the record, when I say I love you, I mean it with every bit of my body, with every hair on my skin, with every cell making me up, and with every breath I take. When I say I love you, I mean I love you with every bad mood you’re in, every tear you shed, everything you don’t do but should, every white lie you tell people, with every sad story from your past, with every time you came late on a date, with every flaw you might have. When I say I love you, I mean I love you with every smile you put on my face, with every smartass comment you make, with every kiss you give me, with every hug you wrap me into, with every touch of you against my skin, with every falling asleep and waking up next to you. When I say I love you, I mean it with every fiber my body is made up of, with every molecule I consist of. When I say I love you, I mean it.  Always and forever.

Keep smiling and please know that I think of you day and night.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Today is one of those days - one of many recent and one of many more to come - where life's new twists and turns have me walking out the door of several years of fond memories and unthought of heartache towards a future of Who Knows.
It isn't a fancy place, this house. And while smaller than many, it was enough; certainly more than many others hope for and at the end of the day it wasn't just stucco and wood and cement and shingles - it was our home. 
This is the house that broke us, in many ways, though of course it's not only to blame - not one single thing is. But it was also the house of much happiness - where two of the three boys were born, where many Halloweens and birthdays and summers were spent, where Easter eggs were hidden and found, where dinners were made, and birthday cakes created, where oranges were picked and eaten in the yard, where swing sets were built and ignored, where gardens were planted and bloomed, where Christmas trees sat and fell, where life moved at a speed quicker than we could register  - all inside these walls that were being fixed and patched and painted as we fell apart.
I slowly circle one more time in the living room. It still feels oddly full, even in its bareness. Though the smell of cardboard boxes and laundered clothes and nostalgia has left in trucks and U-Hauls, a vaguely familiar scent remains - the way the house smelled the day we got the keys - of vacancy and emptiness. It sinks in. The truth is, this house didn't break us. We did. And this house isn't haunted. We are.
It's hard to fathom that I'm taking one last look around our house and leaving it to go to my house. The newness of everything is jarring and yet exciting and the adventure of it all has its moments of hope and its share of fear.
I shut the door. I pause on the porch step, taking in this very moment, soaking in this change like sunlight on my skin, breath in my lungs. There's nothing left here for me anymore. Today is another reminder of moving onward, this time, literally. I remind myself: A house is a house but a home is what you make it so I have not just packed our clothes and photographs and books and toys but our memories too. They, though the heaviest of all the things to carry, are the easiest to move. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Prison Girlfriend

Having a boyfriend or husband in prison is a stigma in our society. However, it is possible to cope and get through this difficult time in your life. Let me help you along the way and give you a few tips that I have found helpful in my journey.

   I myself am a "Prison Girlfriend." My man has been in the prison system for the past 2 months, and it isn't the first time.  But this time it's so much longer. He was first in a minimum security unit, a place called "DRDC," with open doors, and no barbed wire. Now he is in a medium security facility, hoping to come back home the summer of 2016...praying everyday it is sooner.

   The "Prison Wife" is the forgotten one, as she waits at home for her man. Our society takes care of the sick, the dying, the homeless, but the prisoner's wife is alone and forgotten.

   She is faced with insurmountable, emotional, psychological, social, stigmatization, health problems to face alone, children to take care of. She keeps the household "together" until her husband comes home. She works, pays the bills, pays the mortgage or rent, the car payments, the insurances. She takes care of the children, the repairs for the house, and just about everything else under the sun. Holidays and birthdays come and go. She is alone and lonely, most often faced with depression.

   Most prison wives find it difficult to even face another day. The prison wife lives in hiding because she is afraid the neighbors may find out. So she lies and says he is on a "business trip," to protect herself.  After all, the neighbors would be shocked to know that a criminal's wife lives next door to them.

   And what does she tell the children? No one wants to let his child play with a criminal's child.

   When her husband leaves for prison, the wife goes through a period of "grieving." She goes through the same "grieving process" that a widow goes through. The only difference is that the widow can eventually move on, while the prison wife cannot. The prison wife is a "wife," but without a husband. She cannot go out and socialize, and it is difficult to make new friends, as she feels she is being "unfaithful" to her husband.

   After a certain amount of time (months or even years), it is acceptable in our socity for the widow to step out, start dating and even remarry. The prison wife who is faithful and dedicated to her husband does not have this option.  Some women wait years for their man to return - ten, even twenty or more years.

   There are close to two million prisoners in our country...that makes me wonder just how many wives and loved ones are left behind and forgotten. We think about the prisoner, but rarely think about those left behind...the wives, the children, the mothers, and the girlfriends, to name a few. Those loved ones, who did not commit a crime, except the crime of "loving a criminal." They did not commit a crime, and yet they are punished.

   When their husband goes to prison, they are not notified by the prison system where their husband is. I believe there should be some notification system in this country. The woman must sit and wait, until her lover is able to place a collect call to her. Sometimes it can take weeks on end.

   There should be support systems in this country for prison wives. There should be follow-up programs for families of the incarcerated - to see how they are coping... even after the sentence is over.

   I will now give you some tips on how to get through this period of your life if you happen to be a prison wife, too. This is from my own personal experience, and I hope it can help you.  Remember, you are not alone. There are so many of us out there experiencing the same feelings and emotions...the same problems.

"Ways To Cope"

1. Take one day at a time.  Do not think too far in advance. Try to "get through one more day."

2. Plan small projects for each day, and try to reach a goal. For instance, I put all our photos in photo albums during the first few weeks of my boyfriend's incarceration. Now I scrapbook and make crazy pages. When that project was complete, I started cleaning out drawers and closets.

3. Organize your life. I reorganized bills and mail, using folders and envelopes, and I keep logs, writing everything down.

4. Keep pictures of your man around the house. I have pictures in every room. Some already existed, and I have since added more.

5. Join a church group. This has been a huge thing for me, and a huge part of my life before, and now that he is incarcerated. 

6. Get involved...acquire hobbies. Knitting, needlepoint, gardening, writing, keeping a diary....anything. Just do something, even if you force yourself to do it. As time goes on, it will get easier, and you will begin to enjoy it. 

7. Keep in close contact with your man. Accept phone calls (if you can afford it, as prison phone calls are extrememly expensive), send him letters, cards, magazine and newspaper clippings, and computer print-outs of things that interest him. Send him pictures (old and new). Men in prison love to look at pictures from home.  It helps them keep from becoming homesick. My boyfriend has almost 100 pictures that he keeps in photo albums, and loves to share with the inmates, and show them our family and home. If I change something in the household, or buy anything new, I take a picture and send it to him, so he always feels connected to our home. 

8. Keep a notebook near the phone at all times. Jot down things you want to discuss with your husband when he calls. Remember, those are 15-minute calls, and there is a lot to say in a short period of time, so get organized beforehand.

9. Cry when you have to, but try to stay focused. Do not be torn apart by the prison system. You are still a person, and a wife/girlfriend...and you need to be supportive to your man, for this is not easy on him either.

10. Try to stay healthy. Eat right, avoid junk food and alcohol. Exercise. Try walking. After all, you want to be physically fit when he comes home!

I hope this article will be of some help to the wives and loved ones of prisoners, as they await their loved one's return while he is in prison.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Tonight, I learned something pretty incredible from someone very special to my heart!  JR's mom interrupted me at the end of our conversation tonight and said "you never say goodbye"... at first, I didn't know what she meant!  I thought she meant I never said goodbye before hanging up with her.  BUT, what she meant was that you shouldn't say "goodbye" when getting off the phone with someone.  Or, maybe it is necessary with certain people!  Hehe...

The term goodbye implies that there is little to no probability of meeting again in the future, as opposed to using the term later, which means you will see or talk to someone at a later moment in time.  Wow, what a touching thing - and coming from her, I will never forget this amongst many other things!  

I always wondered why Dane would say "see ya" or "TTFN" (ta-ta for Tigger!) or something along those lines.  Now I totally understand it!  This is how he was raised, and he has never known any differently... how COOL is THAT?!

Every Light In The House Is On...

Today I totally broke down at work. I was shaking, tight chested, tingling fingers, everything was spinning, and uncontrollable crying. This is so hard for me. 

To wonder, is a dangerous thing. By definition, it is to think or speculate curiously. As an addict, we are told that we can not control our past, and not to dwell on that. Not to wonder about all the what ifs in life. As adults, many of us are taught, this is life, take it or leave it, stop wondering about what would have happened if only.  Basically, we are not really "supposed" to wonder about anything.

When I met Dane, almost 3 years ago, I forced myself to not wonder. For me, it was a curse to indulge those thoughts. I was left in tears, sobbing uncontrollably if I started to wonder about my life, his life, our lives. If I began to wonder about all the things he did wrong, all the nights of trusting him when I knew damn well something was up, then I was left depressed. So many nights, days, weeks, months, I was just stuck in my depression. I felt stupid, felt betrayed, and then I was left to just sit and wonder.

Now, he is gone. Gone for a long time. Again, I can't help but go back to the good ol' wonder. I am constantly thinking of all the what ifs, all the things I realistically should not be thinking about, all the things i know I can not control. But alas, I can not seem to stop. Imagination is something I long to hold on to, that so many of us as adults tend to lose because we "grew up". I am imagining all of these things, some good, some bad. I can not make sense of them, or stop them. I try to think positive, and stay in the now of this, but it just feels like I have been frozen all this time, and now, it is time for life to start again...without him.  But how?

Here come the "what ifs". What if he doesn't like me, what if I don't like him, what if he relapses, what if I do, what if he can't handle life outside, what if he gets all "controlly" of me, what if he wants me all to himself all the time and I just need a break, what if the resentments come back, what if we forget to forgive, what if the kids aren't happy, what if this, what if that. So many thoughts are spinning in my head right now.  Do I wait for him?  Do I move on?  Do I keep going but not date?  WHAT do I do??

I know I can not think all these things, or shouldn't think them, yet at times, this is where I am. I am in love with this man, and I know in my heart of hearts things will work. I know this. I feel this. I believe this. They always do!  We've never been apart longer than a month.  And when I say that, it means we weren't living together!  We'd still see each other, we'd still talk/text everyday.  That's just how we're wired together.  Then why am I wondering so much?? How do these thoughts keep coming up, and why am I allowing myself for that brief moment to feel doubt and uncertainty when he is the only thing I am certain of and have always been certain of?? I guess all I can do is sit, try to find the answers, and wonder some more. That will definitely drive me to the point of insanity...

Life is just funny sometimes. It really is. For lack of a better word I am saying funny. It isn't always comical, but, funny is the only word I can think of. More or less, if I don't laugh off the bullshit, I would cry.

More to come... I have AT LEAST 3-5 more years of bullshit visits, guards that think they're holier than thou, metal detectors, barbed wire, you get my drift.  And I'm already fed up with it!  I hate it.  I hate the jumpers they wear, I hate the other prisoners in the room, the cameras all over, the deputies watching our every move.  I just hate this!  I am tired of it, and I want it to end.  Now.  I just want to wake up from this dream, but can't seem to do so.