Wednesday, January 25, 2006
The WORST Day
It is almost 2pm as I got a nice hot cup of tea...apple/cranberry. I really should not be posting every day, but sometimes I get an idea that I wanna talk about, and I just have to write it. I am starting to wonder how much space I really have here on this site, because I'd hate to run out...
Anyway, again, feel free to comment or email me if you wanna.
The title is based on something I thought about last night, something I wanted to write for parents and spouses. I say that because of all the prison support sites I have been a part of or read about, a huge percentage are of these two groups. So I wanted to see if we can discuss a particular issue that might help them.
As with anything I write, you guys have my full permission to copy and paste this wherever you want, or if you want to copy the link here and share it anywhere else, feel free to do that. Maybe you have someone or know someone that can use the info I hope to share.
If someone was to ask me my worst during the entire incarceration process, it would likely be the day I left county jail to go to a processing prison in Vanceboro, NC. It was the worst because it is that day of transition, from a place I knew, to a place I feared. Even though I had been in jail for 17 months, I had gotten to be comfortable (all things considering) there. Now, I was going to prison, and all the fears about what I saw on television were going to come true (at least that's what I thought).
But if that was the case for me, the person going, what could it have been for the person whom I left...my mom and family? It had to have been the worst day of my mom's life. I cannot, nor do I want to think about, what she had to have been feeling.
But in all the posts I have read on different sites, I see it is very similar with many others out there. For many of you, you feel broken because your loved one has been seemingly ripped from your loving arms. The ride back home to an empty house had to have been near traumatic, and you probably cried every second of the way back, and moreso after you got inside the house.
Maybe some of you sat in the dark for hours, hoping to wake up and find it all a very bad dream. Maybe some of you took sleeping pills, hoping to push away the terrible nightmare, only to wake up the next day feeling the same way. Maybe some of you opened a Bible, trying to find some spiritual answer to this great problem. Maybe some of you went online, and found a prison site to bear your burdens to.
But to all, it is perhaps the worst day of your life.
It's a different pain than if it was physical, but much deeper. It's kinda like having a splinter and you can't get it out, on a larger scale. It rips you apart from the inside because someone you love is gone. For some, it will be a couple of years; for some much longer.
And for some, forever.
How do you deal with that? I don't have any sure-fire methods, but what I can do is try to talk it through; which is part of the solution.
Despite my being banned from several prison sites, few can argue that my posts were not positive in nature. I believe that if we are going to find a solution, or be able to cope with the problem, we have to look at positive angles. That isn't easy, especially during the first days or weeks of your loved one's incarceration.
I stopped for a minute to jot down 6 things that might be able to help, and I want to share that with you. Again, I am no Dr. Phil, so don't etch this in stone, but maybe there is someone who can use what I have to say.
Let's start out with the first; GRIEVE.
Guys, understand this, we are only human, and as humans we have emotions. And one of our emotions is grief. If something negative happens to you, don't try to bottle it up; don't try to act like it never happened to you. You have a right to be sad, you have a right to cry, you have a right to shout in anger. You have a right to allow your emotions to release that pressure. It's ok to do that, you are not weaker because you cried when your loved one got 10 years.
The trick here is knowing WHEN to do it. Obviously you don't yell and scream while driving down the highway. Go to your bedroom, close the door and let it out. For some it might take 5 minutes, for some a couple of hours. But you have to let it out. Keeping this tied inside you will not help with the next few steps. By grieving you are finding an acceptance to the situation. That does not mean you LIKE it, it just means you understand that it has happened.
Next step, REST.
This is why grieving is so important. How many of you got sleep while worrying about your loved one? Not many, and if you did, you didn't get much. I am no doctor, but I think we all know the pure value of getting rest. The body will not function well if it does not have adequate rest. And if you have had restless nights worrying about your loved one, it will not help you. The built up stress inside of you will continue to break your body down unless you take care of yourself. That means rest and a little bit of exercise. Maybe not a marathon, but something to keep your body running well.
How does that help if your loved one has just gone to prison? It helps YOU! That is vital because you must keep yourself in good shape. If you got sick while he is in prison, can you imagine how helpless he will feel? Can you imagine how frustrated and stressful he will be if he thought you weren't doing well. The blame and shame would be a huge burden on him. Why increase his suffering when all you have to do is stay in decent shape. He needs to know that you are at least doing ok.
So the next step, TALK.
Thus the creation for all these prison support sites and prison ministries. It is important to talk because by doing so you may meet others who are going through exactly what you are going through. It is important that you see that you aren't the only person on planet Earth that is having these problems. And by talking, you also open yourself up for solutions.
The opposite is just as true. If you don't talk to anyone, you have very little chance of coping and finding solutions. As we all know, there are many prison support sites, some better than others, some aren't that good. But if you can find one, and join it, it may help you to cope because you will be in the company of like people. It's better than being alone.
Next step, LEARN.
Simply put, the more you know about prisons, the better you will be equipped to understand what inmates go through. One of the biggest problems with these prison support sites is the lack of information about what inmates go through. I am not talking about the news about officers being fired for beating inmates, or prison rape, that goes with the territory. But what do you know about your loved one's prison? What are the rules for writing a grievance? What's the canteen like? What's visitation like? What kind of jobs are there? How are the case managers? When do the inmates have to turn in? Do they have clothes exchange? All these questions are at the heart of the issue.
We are afraid of what we don't know. People are afraid of what their loved ones go through because we have almost no idea of what goes on. We all know DOC won't tell, and most inmates are too ashamed to talk about it. And unfortunately, some prison support sites don't really care a lot for it either, unless it involves bloodshed, rape or some form of violence. But the more you learn about the prison system, the clearer the understanding you have about where your loved one is spending his time.
The next step, ENCOURAGE.
I know every step so far is important, but this is critical. As sad as you might be right now, remember there is someone you love that is sitting in prison worried that you may not love them anymore.
I felt that way when I went to prison, and it is a painful memory. No one wants to be unloved, regardless of what they have done. You simply cannot have them feeling like they are alone, please don't do that to them. You have to find a way to let them know you are still there.
Now, on some occassions the inmate will shut himself off from the rest of the world, not wanting to talk to anyone. If that happens, all you can do is hang in there, and wait for him to come around. But to encourage a person is to strengthen them, no matter how small that change is. And it goes both ways. How much better will YOU feel if you know he is doing ok? It won't be the cure-all, but I promise you, it's a far better thing than being completely depressed.
Which brings us to the last point; BELIEVE.
Believe what? Believe that things can turn out better than they started. Believe that he's gonna make it, believe that he can do that time, and you can be patient and wait for him. Believe that if he was wrongly accused and convicted, that things can change. Believe that there is support out there that you can lean on when you need it...
BELIEVE IN SOMETHING POSITIVE!
I don't care what charge your loved one got, I don't care how much time he got, there is always a chance to see things change. I think they call it a miracle, if I am not mistaken.
And no, it is not common, but maybe the reason why it isn't is because we like to "prepare for the worst" rather than being optimistic. No, it isn't easy, in fact sometimes it's close to impossible. But it still exists, and you should not give up on it. You simply have to be able to believe that a positive angle can come out of this situation yet. It may not be as soon as you want it, but if you are willing to be patient, and at least hang in there, you give yourself a chance.
It's better than nothing, isn't it?
Oh well, I've been writing about 45 minutes, so I better stop and take a rest. Again, if you know someone who needs to read this, share the link or copy and paste this; I don't mind. You can make a comment or email me if you wanna. My very best wishes to all.