Having support in life is freeing. It gives you courage to push through when things get rough, and provides a feeling of hope that facing life’s many twists and turns alone doesn’t always readily provide. Love, like any other main event in life is one of those areas that we sometimes need, or long for a village to be by our side. Whether to celebrate triumphs, listen to us vent, offer advice, or to slap us with reality when we get a little too “drunk in love”. Whatever the case, having people(or a person) in your corner definitely helps.
In relationships with a traditional dynamic, this support system kinda comes standard with your closest relatives or circle of friends. Being involved with an inmate however, that immediate circle of support can become smaller and/or seem somewhat distant. And not because they don’t approve of the relationship, but because despite having a few close ones being genuinely happy for you, they don’t always “get it”. They don’t understand the worry, frustration, sudden bouts of sadness(or random smiles), or why we’re always checking the mailbox lol. It’s a relief when you make connections with people in the same struggle, who know exactly what you mean when you speak, and understand exactly what you feel when you can’t quite find the words.
Initially(and still), I shared and celebrated all of my happy moments about my relationship, with my husband’s mom. She’s our front and center cheerleader and possibly thee only person that will let me go on and on about him without interruption lol (hey My Lisa😘). But even with that, she’s his mom; she misses, loves and handles him, and his incarceration in a MUCH different manner than I do. She wants to be able to hold her “big baby” in her arms and cuddle him like only a mother can. I on the other hand would much rather sit on his lap and talk about the first thing that pops up😂🙃😛#imonlyherefortruths #judgeyourmother.
As an added outlet for myself, I started this blog. I figured….well, WE(he and I) figured it’d be a great way for me to get my feelings out, but also possibly attract, or be a voice for women in the same predicament who could relate to what I was feeling, but may be afraid to speak up out of fear of judgement. About 2 blog posts in, I stumbled across the IG pages of a few women in similar situations. It was a breath of fresh air! A whole world of ladies(and a few men) who knew exactly what it was that I was feeling. The pics, the words, even the memes they shared were so in line with what I’d felt at one time or another. THIS WAS WHAT I NEEDED! Even if I never directly spoke to any of them, we could still relate to each other through our posts.
There are plenty of support groups to be found, the first ones I saw only seemed to cater to wives/families/gfs in certain states or regions, and NJ was never included. But the one I gravitated to, DUWOPz (Dedicated Unashamed Wives of Prisonerz), felt more like home to me. No particular requirement, except that you be a wife or gf, but there have been a few fellas with either wives or partners incarcerated as well. And they’ve been welcomed with open arms. Anyway, once I joined the DUWOPz facebook group, most of my worries about not having people to talk to slowly melted away. The group’s main premise is that we are non judgmental of each other. While there are some some craaaaaaaaaazy prison wife stories and scenarios discussed on the page daily, we make sure to support and advise with love. We all know the feeling of judgment that comes from choosing this life, so we aim to not be another source of it towards each other.
Having this “safe place”, we are not only able to comfort and encourage each other, but also share advice, tips and more laughs about our situations than we probably would, if we faced this journey alone. These women have become my sisters in a common struggle. Old, young, near, far…down for a few days, months, years or a lifetime(yeah, they exist too✊)….the ones who were there through trials & sentencing, the ones who reunited after he was already incarcerated, and those who fell in love via penal letters; we acknowledge each other’s right to choose what and who makes us happy, even if we don’t always understand each other’s decision. We’ve supported and welcomed newcomers, as well as cheered on long time wives who’ve decided to end their journey. There are times when we are that group of loud friends encouraging one of our own to “go off on his ass!” and then times when we have to remind someone that they’re being a lil too harsh. And of course like any other group of women, we bicker and debate things. Such is life, but we always(most of the time) find our way back.
Aside from finding other people to “lean on” and confide in, I notice that I too have become a shoulder for some as well. Whether it be from my everyday social media activity or this blog, people have reached out in major and unexpected ways. To ask questions, encourage, or simply to thank me for sharing my story and giving them hope and/or encouragement to follow their hearts regardless of the outside noise and pressure. Sharing this part of my life has not only allowed me to help others, but also empower myself. The time that I spent in fear of people knowing about the man I chose was a complete waste, and it drained me of my power over the situation. Its the same kinda power you get when you finally accept that weird mole on your face that all the kids teased you about in grade school, or that funky lookin hair that keeps growing from your chin no matter how many times you tweeze it..ugh lol! After a while, you stop tryna change, or adjust yourself to fit the requirements of everybody else and throw them a middle finger instead. They gon talk regardless, might as well give em a good ass story❤