Monday, March 8, 2010

#83 Prison Relationships: (retro)

Prison Relationships: Don’t give up on YOU!

Gosh… THREE blogs in one day…oh well, I’ve done more than that before.

Well, Toronto falls out of the playoffs, and right now the Celtics have a narrow lead on the Hawks, so it could get interesting…

(Had to share that, it keeps me sane)

I have been on the computer quite a bit today working on stuff on prison issues, which include my blog book. If you have never read any of my blogs from 2005, that is what I am starting with. Remember, I also have 3 volumes of “Grades of Honor” as well as many other cards and other writings.

If you want to support my writings, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask for details…I don’t like giving specifics on the site because spammers have no mercy.

Anyway, I wanted to make a blog for a person who contacted me through the myspace prison blog. A reminder to you guys, I have 7 blog sites, which include Blogspot, Myspace, Xanga, Soulcast, Blogstream, Live Journal and Wordpress. I blog the exact same blog on each, so if you are reading this off Xanga, it is the same as on Myspace or any other.

I was reading from the reader who had a chance to read my blog on “Saving your man in prison”. As you know, I don’t give out specifics like the name or the details of the situation, I try to keep it generic because I realize there are many people that are going through things like this.

Many times I have read, or have received emails on women who trusted a guy in prison only to feel betrayed at the end. You put a lot of trust, love, compassion into a relationship to help someone, and in the end, you feel a sense of separation that leaves you to think that maybe that person was never true to you to begin with.

That sucks.

Now lets pause a second….

Didn’t I just blog about encouraging your loved one? Then why am I talking about the betrayals of a relationship…because sometimes they happen. I always try to keep things positive and encouraging, but I am not going to lie and say that every day is filled with rainbows and happy Smurfs singing around pretty flowers…

(uh…you DO know what a Smurf is, don’t you?)

I am writing this because it needs to be shared. There are lots and lots of people who trusted guys in prison, and helped them when NOBODY else would or could. But when you find out that you may have been used, it makes you feel upset, disappointed and angry.

We’ve all been there; we’ve all been used. I know I have.

I posted hundreds of posts on Prison Talk, received thousands of emails and comments only to be banned by ignorant moderators who never set foot in a prison before. Yet my posts are still there, as if I endorse the site.

I worked for minimum wage for a Christian radio station, helping them get started, only to be fired when I wanted the LEGAL minimum wage…

I helped another Christian radio station from going under, and implemented local high school games for broadcast, working for no money because we didn’t have it to spare for my salary, only to have it taken away from me and given to the guy I HIRED to work for me.

I had several hundred dollars stolen out of our house when I invited a friend I helped in jail, a juvenile who was a friend of mine. I bonded him out while we were both in jail (a story in itself) to fulfill my promise to him to have him out by his birthday. On his first visit to our house after I got out of prison, he stole my brother’s money.

I know betrayal.

So I understand how some of you feel, having supported an inmate by allowing him to call you, or do the “three way dance” on the phone, or the time and gas spent for visits, the money sent, the cards and everything else at YOUR expense, only to come to the idea that maybe he has been using you.

It feels terrible.

When these things happen, there is a letdown in your confidence, because maybe you feel that you have been cheated out of a relationship. You feel that the person you cared so much about may have been lying to you, and may have been doing it since day one.

Yet in all that confusion and bitterness, you STILL have some feelings for him. I mean, maybe some part of him really did care, and maybe the circumstances changed his point of view and his outlook. Is that possible?

If so, then this puts you in a difficult situation of whether you should continue to hold on or not…after all, who amongst us is perfect?

It’s like the person said to me in the email, should you give up on them, or believe he can change? Do you continue to invest in the encouragement or do you cut your losses?

If I said either, I would be an idiot, simply because I can’t say it without knowing exactly who you are, who he is and every detail about both of you…in other words, I’d have to be God.

And I am not.

But what I can do is share advice, which centers around this idea: look after yourself first. Don’t give up on yourself. It is a much deeper thought than many think.

Your happiness in life should not be sacrificed by someone who does not appreciate it. If at the end of the day, if you lay in your bed confused, then something isn’t going right. If you have a loved one and support him, you should have a feeling of hope and love that gives you some comfort.

Relationships ought not give you discomfort.

So ask yourself this; is he worth the trouble or is it part of the trials you have to go through for someone you love? In the situation with the reader who emailed me, she mentioned something many of you do. Material gifts.


There is no sin in giving a guy in prison some money, heck, I wish I knew a few kind hearted people that would have done that for me; it would have made my time a little easier knowing I could buy a cold soda on a hot summer day. But we know that there are a lot of guys in prison that take advantage of a kind heart.

I have read many emails and posts about women who are disappointed in guys that seem to only want money from them, and after the money runs out, or when you stop giving it to them, they change.

Is this ALL guys, absolutely not. That is highly unfair to say about every single guy in prison. But there is no doubt that there is a LOT of them.

So how do you handle it? I think one way is to cut the supply and see what kinda man you really have. If you think he is using you for money and other material gain or perks, cut them all off for a few months and see what he does.

Further…do it without telling him.

“But that’s not right, it would be like I’m testing him”.

Damn right.

This is something I would suggest to someone who honestly feels that their loved one is using them for material gain. This does not apply to everyone. For example, one lady might have a high school sweetheart that is in prison, and she understand him well enough to send him a few dollars every once and awhile.

Or the woman who has a man, but that guy never bothers her for money and is appreciative for whatever she sends him. There are always exceptions to the rule.

But if you are unsure, then you have a right to examine the relationship by factoring out the material and see if the man you care about has the heart. That is your right if you have invested the time, effort, money and compassion to that person in prison.

But there still has to be compassion…if you still care about him. You can still be encouraging to that inmate, keeping him positive, without sending him money, stamps, and burning up your phone bills. What I am saying is that it is time for you to control YOU, rather than letting someone else control your emotions.

For example, let’s just say a woman has a man in prison and sends him $50 a month, writes to him every week, visits him every couple of weeks, lets him call 3 times a week and maybe sends him some magazines as well. She feels that she is helping him, but after a few months she has serious doubts about his sincerity. She wonders if he is using her, but deep in her heart, she still cares. How can she protect herself at least until she knows that he loves her (or not)?

Strip away all the material gain and see what’s left. That woman decides to stop sending money for a set period of time, say 60 days. She cuts back her letters and writes to him once a week. She asks him to only call once a week, and cuts off the magazines (unless the subscription is already paid for).

Even with the cutbacks, she still has to have a kind heart because she knows that prison life isn’t easy and she does care about him, so in her letters she tries to keep it very upbeat and positive, encouraging him that she still cares about him and wishes him well. But she cuts down on her visit to one a month to give herself some space.

Naturally, the inmate is going to have questions. He is going to use the old “do you still love me” or “are you seeing someone else” routine. This is a natural response because he is now faced with the loss of his materials. Life immediately becomes more difficult and he wonders if you are punishing him or leaving him.

I’d feel that way too, whether I was guilty of taking advantage of a relationship or not.

This gives that woman a chance to simply explain that she has to cut back so she can take care of some “things”. By that it could mean your bills and such, but this also can mean the relationship. You have to give it some air to see if you have a genuine relationship or if this guy has been using you. How he reacts can tell the tale.

But be careful with the result. Just because a guy acts differently does NOT mean he wants only the material things from you. If I had someone sending me money every month, then suddenly I don’t get any, I would act differently too. Heck, my MOM used to send me money, and I almost never asked for it. I knew mom worked hard for her money and I felt guilty asking for some, but trust me folks, it really helps to have a few dollars in your pocket while in prison.

But when I didn’t get money for like 3 months, I felt rejected, or that mom forgot about me. She didn’t, it was just that she had to catch up on bills. I knew that deep down, but just the idea of being broke in prison was such a miserable feeling.

So that can happen with anyone, innocent or guilty.

Don’t go off the deep end if this happens, it is a natural response to anyone who has no money, and is used to getting some. The problem comes when his attitude in your relationship changes dramatically. When he starts to question your faith in him, and he tries to manipulate you to send him something “or else”, then you know that this relationship is problematic.

The “or else” stories can be anything, but many times inmates try to use your pity against you. “I need $50 dollars or some guy is gonna beat me up”. Ever heard that before?

“I owe this guy $60 and I need you to send me some money to pay him back”

“I need $75 to buy a television”

“I need $100 so I can buy some new clothes”

“I need $30 so I can buy food, I am starving”

There are many excuses, but about 95% of those excuses are not real. Now, are there ever times where a guy NEEDS money…yes and no. In my time in prison, I never NEEDED money, but without a doubt, a couple of dollars in my account really made the difference between a miserable day, and a regular day. It’s a terrible thing to be broke in prison.

But if a guy has to lie to you to get it, then he is clearly taking advantage of you. And if so with you…how many other people is he doing it to? Some guys enjoy having several women sending him money and giving him visits on a weekly basis. Yes, there are guys like that.

If you are questioning your loved one, then you have to first determine if that man cares about you, or what you have. You simply have to put yourself first and see if that man loves YOU, not your money, not the visits, not the phone calls, not the extra perks he gets by knowing you. Those are great, and can really help a guy get through very hard times, but he has to love you first.

Everything else has to come a distant second. If not, then you may not be first on his list.

Oh well, there is much more to say on this, but I am in complete shock that the Celtics lost! What was THAT about???

Anyway, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com and ask me about my books or make comments. I am always looking for more support for my writings, so if you feel that my blogs are helpful, I’d love your support.

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