Saturday, February 20, 2010

#58 Prison talking; how honest is he?

Prison talking: How honest is he?

This question could actually be said one of a few ways, one, how honest am I, the writer, to my readers…but that’s not quite what this is about. Besides, I think my sincerity in writing speaks for me anyway.

The title is more on the idea of how honest is your loved one to YOU, when it comes to telling you about himself while he is in prison.

Some of you think you know…but I am going to play the devil’s advocate on this blog.

Before I get into that, thanks to a couple of people who emailed me about my blogs, and told me that they appreciated the blogs I am sharing. One asked me about my books but as of right now, I can’t print anything on this computer because last week I had to do a system recovery, and lost all my stuff except the original software with this computer. That included my printing software that I bought, and because I also have a broken cd drive, I can’t install it. So I am kinda stuck right now, needing a new computer, or at the very least, a new cd drive, before I can get back into my products like Prison Encouragement Certificates, prison cards and my “Grades of Honor” books.

But thanks for asking, I am hopeful that if I can get more support, I can get a new computer soon.

Now, I want to take my time on this title, but at the same time, ESPN has early “Bracket Buster” games, which I would like to see. Sienna is playing Butler at 11, so they are already underway. Still, I will try to take my time to answer this question.

The idea of this title came from something a mother said on a site called, “Mothers with sons in prison”, something that I kinda took offense to. It was based on a blog I shared there about prison visits, and how some inmates feel after the visit. I explained how some inmates bottom out after having to part ways with their loved ones, and can spin into a short term depression. I mean think about it, you are in a place of negativity (prison) and you get a visit from your mom, or wife or girlfriend. For that period of time you feel as high as a kite, but after the visit, you fall back to reality, back to the hard confines of prison.

For some guys, they take it well, for others, it is a punch in the gut. I know, I went through that, and have seen others do it too. So I explained the process an inmate goes through to get from that state of depression back to normalcy.

The lady from the site actually criticized my post, saying that her son NEVER felt that way, and said that from what he says, all the inmates are very positive and talk to each other in joy. She questioned if what I shared was accurate, since she had never heard such a thing from her son before.

This bothered me, because what she is doing is questioning my words. I am telling her what I went through, and she is effect saying, “I don’t believe you” simply because her son said he never went through that. So the question is raised…how much can you trust your loved one?

Now, I’m not talking about the casual relationship between a girlfriend and her “man” wondering if he is being loyal and honest…that’s for another blog. I am talking about the relationship between a son and his mom, or even a husband to her wife, or even a lady with a very dedicated boyfriend.

Some people think that their loved one is completely honest and tell every single detail to their moms or wives or girlfriends….EVERYTHING.

Folks…I gotta tell you…I can’t agree.

This can easily get misled, where people think that their loved ones are lying to them, but this isn’t exactly what I mean folks. You’re going to have to follow me here VERY closely and understand the depths of this discussion.

Is your loved one being COMPLETELY honest with you about his life in prison? Here is shocking news for you…if he REALLY loves you….he would not be.

Let me remind you that I speak as an ex felon and believe it or not, I have a mom too. And with the things I went through in prison, many things I did NOT tell mom. Sometimes to keep my mom in a state of normalcy, there were things I could not tell her, because if I did, if I told her every negative thing I went through, she would be worried sick…really sick.

To any mom reading this, I want you to listen to me very carefully…it is best that your loved one DON’T tell you everything you want to know. And I know a lot of you think your son will tell you everything…are you completely sure about that?

Do you think he’ll tell you about the fight he had?

Do you think he’ll tell you about the guy that made sexual comments to him?

Do you think he’ll tell you about the female prison guard that he has a crush on?

Do you think he’ll tell you what happens in the showers?

Well….do you?

I love my mom, but there are many, many things I never told her about prison. I might be able to now, but there is no way I could tell her while I was in prison. I tried my best to keep my conversations with her on a positive level, trying to keep her encouraged as much as she would try to keep me encouraged.

Now this does not mean inmates can’t communicate about something that bothers them, that is quite normal. But to imply as a mom that your son tells you every detail about prison is to me, too assuming. That mother from the site is sitting there thinking that her son tells her EVERYTHING about prison…uh…right.

Now again, understand what I am saying, I am not trying to imply that your son is lying to you straight out, but I am saying that often times your son won’t tell you something that will cause you to worry. If he cares about you, he knows you are taking this very hard, so if he told you every sad thing and bad thing that happened in prison, you’d be in such a terrible state that your health would break down.

That mom on the site said that her son said that everybody he knew took it very well…I won’t argue if he said that to me, but him saying that to his mom implies that he is trying to keep her upbeat. Anybody who has been in prison knows that there are few rainbows there, you have to create your own. Prison is not a place of joy, happiness and optimism, you have to create that.

So don’t tell me that what I share is wrong because you heard from a different source that I am wrong….it is quite possible that both sides can be right. I am willing to believe that many inmates after a visit are upbeat and positive, I know because I have seen that. But I also have seen guys depressed after leaving a visit, and parting from a person they really love. So both are true.

And let me add this as well, I made quite clear in that blog that what I talked about does not apply to every inmate…I made that abundantly clear. So for her to criticize my blog was based on ignorance. If I said its not for everybody, don’t come back and tell me that what I share is wrong because your son said otherwise.

As an inmate, I went through a lot of negative things, but I didn’t get on the phone and tell mom about that every time we chatted, or every time I got a visit, or every time I sent a card or letter home.

Let’s understand that for an inmate to do that, he would be poisoning every communication he had with his loved one…and who wants to always hear about somebody’s problems? Some of the most negative people in the world are those that always talking about their problems, always heaving their burdens on somebody else. It is natural for us to talk about problems from time to time…but not ALL the time.

The same goes for inmates. Those guys are looking for any venues to get something positive in a call, letter or visit. Most times they are not going to put much emphasis on what is wrong, unless it is very important. I shared a blog once about a girlfriend who’s boyfriend was in pain in prison and when she got a visit, he broke down and started to cry because of how the prison was treating him.

This is one of those examples of how there are times where inmates have to put the problems first. But it is not the norm. Most times for an inmate, the visit is the high point of the week, maybe month, do you REALLY think they are going to spoil it for themselves by telling you only the bad news?

Think about that.

When a mom says, “are you ok”, what do you want your loved one to say? To be perfectly honest, the answer to that question should always be NO! I mean, come on, if you are in prison, then it ISN’T ok!

You understand what I am saying folks?

If you want your loved one to be brutally honest, you could not bear the answers you would get in a steady flow of negativity. It would get to you, and you would begin to worry so much about him, knowing the things he is going through, and it would take a toll on your body. Stress will break down your body, we all know that.

If mom asked me how I felt, I could ALWAYS find something negative to tell her, because prison is NOT ok. But deep down I knew, as any loving son would, that to tell her how I REALLY felt would not be helpful to her. You see, inmates have a part to play in the rehabilitation process too, we also want to encourage our loved ones to hang in there with us.

So NO, your son, or your husband, or your boyfriend would not be completely honest with you. Not 100% honest…and that is a good thing to you.

Again I stress to you that this does not mean that your son is doing anything wicked by deceiving you, he is actually trying to protect you. I was just thinking if, or when, I told my mom about a fight I got into while at Pasquotank Correctional, where I got my lip busted and it seemed to bleed for a whole day.

I KNOW I didn’t tell mom about the two inmates at Sanford Correctional that made sexual advances on me, to this day she still has not heard anything about that. And there are a hundred other things I did not tell her…do you think your son is any different?

Often times to tell something negative means to carry it in high esteem, otherwise it just isn’t important enough to tell anybody. There is a scripture that goes, “from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”, and it can be applied to anything we talk about in prison issues. When you visit or talk to your loved one, the things he or she talks about is what is important to them, but it also is based on checks and balances. Even if they know about something bad that happened, the make a decision whether to tell you or not. If it diminishes the upbeat chat they have with you, they won’t tell you for fear of worrying you.

It happens all the time, in split second judgments.

The truth is folks, you don’t REALLY want to hear all the bad news of prison…not from your loved one, and certainly not ABOUT your loved one. This is because for the most part, you are powerless to do anything about it. I mean think about it. If you talk to your son and he says, “I wanna go home”…it would break your heart.

But you are completely powerless to help him.

If your son said to you at the visit, “somebody broke into my locker and stole my canteen”, what are you going to do about it…nothing. Oh, you might talk to an officer, but good luck with that.

If your loved one tells you that he has given up on God, because he feels that God just doesn’t care about inmates…what do you do? Oh sure, you can try to comfort him and quote some scriptures, but what happens after the visit is over? He returns to a state of negativity. What can you do for him after the visit?

“Pray for him”

Well yeah, but most times people pray out of complete fear, not faith, so it’s the equivalent of doing nothing.

You see, people like that mother on the site don’t fully understand what her son is holding BACK from her, to protect her. I don’t say this to make it sound like he’s doing something heroic, but he IS doing it to protect his mom. NO son wants his mom to know all the things that happen in prison, at least not while he is still there.

Same with a loving husband in prison, or a loving boyfriend.

Those guys in prison are trying to be honest in how they do their time, but that also means not telling their loved ones how difficult it is. For that mom on that site to think that her son is in there having a ball as if he’s in college is foolish, and misleading. I am not saying for her to know how much of a hell prison is, but it IS prison. Believe me I know the difference, I have been to both.

But what that inmate does, in not being fully honest about prison life, is a good thing. If he can get you to believe that he will do fine, then you may in turn feel more at ease, and thus both sides can encourage one another. It goes the same way from your end too you know. If a girlfriend is always sending letters with “I really really miss you and I cry every day”, they are actually sending negative vibes to him. The implication is that she is NOT doing well, but what can he do about it? If a guy continues to get letters like that, he will begin to decide that he needs to make a decision and ask her not to write anymore. The stress she is actually sending to him is too much.

Then that person gets on a site and asks, “why does my man tell me he doesn’t want me writing anymore”? Because in her being too brutally honest, it actually caused pain. We get confused to think that being honest is always painless and care free…that is not true at all.

If I thought that lying about how my day was to mom on that phone would give her peace, even if my day was rough, I would lie like a champion. Some people say a mom can tell if her son is telling the truth or not, I believe that to an extent. No mom on earth can detect EVERY lie from her son. And my advantage is that I used to be an actor, I know how to act. So if I thought that I could make her feel better by lying, rather than telling her the truth, which is more stressful, I would do it.

When I was in jail for the duration of 17 months, mom would visit me often, and she was amazed at how I was taking the situation. She never saw me cry or get too stressed, because I knew that if she did, it would break my heart, and it would break hers too. It was bad enough I was in jail, but I could at least try to hang in there, something good could happen. I remember mom telling me once, “I am supposed to come here to encourage you, but instead I come here getting encouragement FROM you.”

A lot of you need to really understand that. You’re not the only ones that can GIVE encouragement you know. But in doing that, I had to lie about how I felt. She didn’t know I tried to commit suicide more than once…so obviously I was NOT taking it well. What if I told mom that. What if I told her, “I want to kill myself.”. It was an honest feeling. How do you think she’d take it.

What if your son told you the same?

Is that what you WANT to hear?

Of course not. Don’t be silly. You don’t want to hear the brutal honest truth about how your son feels, you take for granted that if he says he is ok, he is. And you leave it at that, because in your heart of hearts, that is what you need to hear from him. And that’s ok, in fact that is good, but don’t question somebody else about what they say based on your delusion that your loved one is doing his time perfectly well and is fine. When you ask him how he is doing, and if he says “fine” take that to mean, “I am fine, all things considering”.

That would be more honest than just saying that he is fine.

So, do inmates lie to their loved ones…yeah, I suppose they do. I did. And I am glad I did. Saved a lot more heartache. No inmate in prison is happy to be in prison, so they are all dealing with stress, frustration, condemnation and other negative feelings. Just because they don’t tell you that does not mean it isn’t there. It is clearly there, it is the nature of prison, but a person who loves his family or friends would do his best to conceal that, and do his best to stay positive in the midst of negativity.

See, the negative things are there…but often times we don’t give it place when we communicate with our moms, girlfriends or wives. But it is there, to be perfectly honest. Its just not more important than keeping you encouraged.

Oh well, this took longer to write than I thought, six pages. I better go now, feel free to email me and ask about more blogs, my projects or supporting my blogs. Also look for “Defending Job” which will only be on one of my 3 blogs. Until then…

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