I have gone back and forth for a long time now on whether or not to write this blog article. The first thing I had to do was get permission to write it, as it is not just my story. I have had that permission for a very long time now.
One of the reasons for holding back on writing this was because I did not want to put any of my readers off. I appealed to some fellow bloggers for advice on if I should write this article or not. Most of them said yes, by all means, while a few said no, they would not write about this if it were about their lives.
I agree with those who said I should because my experiences and my advice could help someone else in a very dark time in their lives.
Admission time: My son is in prison.
The first thing I want to state is that he was locked up for a non-violent crime. He was prosecuted for conspiracy to traffic marijuana. To this day, I still do not know for sure if he was actually some giant drug kingpin or some underling.
Another question that has been raised is that he may have silently accepted a lot of the charges to protect his friends or even his family. Until he is out, and back home, we will not know since all calls and incoming mail are monitored I am afraid to ask. Regardless of his true level of involvement, I know for sure he was doing things he was not supposed to have been doing.
I did my best with him as he began to hang out with the wrong crowd as a teen.
Ironically, most of that crowd have turned into fine young men, doing well today.
So where did things go so terribly wrong? I feel he became bored and lost his way into the thrill of the drug scene and the money one could make in it.
So what does one do when a loved one is in prison? Hopefully. your loved one is incarcerated close to where you live. For us, it is an eight-hour drive to see him. Once there, the cost of a hotel room, food, and time away from work become an issue.
We have only been able to visit twice since my son was incarcerated in 2015.
This is one of the things I have had to learn to cope with. GUILT.
It took me almost a year to get past feeling bad for missing a call from him. I got over it because I know he realizes I can not sit on my phone waiting for his call.
He knows that I work, take showers, and run out to get the mail, although I do admit, I take my phone with me to get the mail now, just in case.
Another thing that I have had to cope with is SHAME.
Shame is a bitter pill to swallow.
I felt shame for mistakes I made when I was younger when he was younger, and I was inexperienced in parenting.
I felt shame for not raising him to know better, which I thought I had, but one always dissects these things.
Shame for having a son in prison and not wanting others to know for fear of judgment.
Another thing people with family members in prison often face or fear facing is JUDGEMENT.
Fear of being judged will keep many people from reaching out for help, and support.
Often times family members do not have the whole story and are struggling to piece it together for themselves, so facing questions they can’t fully answer is not on the top of their list of wishes.
We fear having to take sides, either saying our family member is some horrible person, or loyally defending them, no matter how difficult that may be.
The fact is, they are still our family, and we still love them.
Personally, I do not allow my son this cop out.
The support I received helped me to accept that telling others was not the end of the world, and those who really love you, or at least those who are open to seeing things from beyond their own scope, will stand by you.
Those who are worthy to be in your life will show concern, care, support, and love.
Another huge issue when a loved one is behind bars is WORRY.
Sometimes a person with a loved one in prison may have first-hand experience themselves, but even so, not all prisons are the same.
When you have no experience of being on the “inside” you worry so much about every little thing.
Will they get enough to eat, will they have medical care if they need it, will they be physically harmed, and so on.
Let’s face it there are criminals in there.
All I can say is that I have never caught the drift that he has any fears of his own safety so far.
I have found my coping through logic once again, realizing that if something dreadful did happen, I would be notified, so no news is good news.
I have no control over what goes on inside, my worry is not helping my son.
My worry helps no one, is anti-productive, and only intensifies worry in my family.
Worry causes health and emotional issues for myself, and then I can be of no good to others in my life.
Casting aside worry is not easy for everyone.
Those who already are afflicted by anxiety, depression, stress, and so forth should get in touch with a good therapist right away to find effective coping mechanisms for themselves and get ahead of things before it becomes a bigger problem.
Which brings me to SHARING.
For the first six months to a year almost, I barely talked to my son about things we were doing back home.
I was so afraid to tell him if we had a gathering, what we did that weekend, and so on out of not wanting him to feel he was missing out.
I remember when my kids first moved out of the home. Heck, I felt bad if my husband and I went out for a nice meal and the kids were not with us. I got over that fast though when my kids were out living their own lives having fun without us. LOL.
When your kid or any loved one is in prison they want, and they need to hear about life on the outside.
I love it when my son says wise things like that. It gives me faith and hope that he has learned some lessons.
The last thing I want to address at this time is MONEY.
When you have a loved one in prison, they, or you pay for everything. Yes, they get free “lodging”, and yes the food served in the cafeteria is free, well as free as your tax dollars are anyway. The point is they do not
Yes, they get free “lodging”, and yes the food served in the cafeteria is free, well as free as your tax dollars are anyway. The point is they do not
The point is they do not need money to survive until their clothing wears out, then they are responsible for replacing it. Or unless they care to shave, as they have to buy shaving cream, and a razor as well.
Then there are a hundred other things they can, and usually, have to buy.
Anything, and everything you can think of that you would use on a day to day basis, they pay for.
Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, over the counter medications, band-aids, shoelaces, shoes, underwear, a soda, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrush, blah blah blah.
They can also buy if they have enough money on their books nicer things for entertainment.
However, it is up to family, and friends to put that money on their books.
Yes, there are jobs on the inside, but they pay so low that a human’s basic personal needs would not be covered by it, plus this money is saved for their release and not used on the inside.
The best thing you can do to over all the confusion is once they are in, and situated enough to have visited the commissary, seen the price list, which is usually available to you online as well, is to have a talk about expenses.
Together you should be able to average out what your loved one’s needs will be. My son went in with money to get him started off, which I recommend for anyone who is self-surrendering to do.
Keep in mind each state is different on what they will allow a prisoner to leave with.
So if you have a loved one in prison that is asking for money, be cautious, no one wants to be taken advantage of, but know that every phone call they make, every email they send, everything they need, has to be paid for by their families, with the money you put on their books.
I realize that this article reads very factual and somewhat cool. I made it a point to write this out of a place of help to others, not as an “oh poor me” story.
Trust me, I have been through hell and back in my healing process.
There were so many nights I laid in bed with thoughts racing through my mind about my son, and all the sorted details of what my life and his life had become.
Panic attacks, bouts of tears falling, and so on. This has affected me, and our entire family. This is not why I wanted to share this article however, I wanted to share for anyone out there looking for answers, and ways to cope.
Healing does come, a feeling of calm does come.
I can’t say if it is just because you get used to the idea of a loved one being in prison, or if you become numb to it, or if it is something else entirely. I believe it is having knowledge, experience, and time to adjust, as well as the outreach and help of others.
That is why I wanted to share some of my tips for others. Maybe having this little extra knowledge, and knowing you are not alone will help someone out there.