Before this journey, I’d heard about some men in prison being controlling of the women in their lives. I’ve even caught convos of other women who visit the same facility I do, speak about their man telling them to be home at a certain hour or getting upset when calls go unanswered. *deep sigh* AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT! 1st of all, I’m grown. 2ndly, I’m not locked up. And 3rd, refer back to 1 & 2. Lol, but seriously I think it’s important for women in this position to remember to put themselves first. Yes, we love the men we’re waiting for and yes most of us would probably opt to sit in those cells with them for the duration of their bids. But unfortunately for us, we have to do our time on the outside, at home, at work, in school, with kids, with relatives- in the real world. We have to…no, we CHOOSE to carry the weight of the wait along with us as we also try to maintain some sense of normalcy in our everyday lives.
In the early part of our relationship when our correspondence and visits started to become more frequent, husband warned me that we needed to “pace ourselves”. Especially on my end, he informed me that it’s easy to get burned out from so much back and forth. And of course in my brain, “pace yourself” translated to “camp out in front of the prison so you can be up in his face every chance you get!”🤣🤣 And him being only 5 minutes from home, that’s kinda just what I did. Lol. I mean, I still went to work, and school and all that, but …..yeah.
I never “burned” out, but the more I went, the less I looked forward to going. Not the seeing him part, but the having to deal with the visit registration process and waiting around part. The part where visit ends and I have to leave without him. And of course I could do without the piece of shit guards who clearly were stuffed in lockers as kids and now have some “power”so they do the most unnecessarily(some, not all). THAT’S what gets tiring. But our visits, especially our weekend contact visits became therapy for both of us. And knowing how heavy the weight of being away hits him at times, the least I could do was endure some unneccessary annoyance if it meant it would brighten his day.
Over the past year though, I’ve made some big strides in my professional life. I changed jobs, finished my 3rd round of schooling, and started working on a new set of goals to get me going on one of my dream careers. All of which require time, time and more time. When I went for another position, the 1st thing that crossed my mind was “how is this gonna fit into my visit schedule?” Plainly put, it wouldn’t. Husband and I spoke about it…at length. I was concerned with his well-being, he was concerned with mine, and making sure I didn’t lose sight of my goals. “I won’t make you feel bad for having to miss visit. Take care of what you need to take care of, I’ll miss you, but I’m not going anywhere. I’m proud of you and inspired by your drive and I never want to hold you back from anything. Plus I already bagged you so its cool” (ps. This is really how he talks to me🤣).
I understood what he was saying, but that didn’t stop me from having a full on breakdown in the bathroom at work, the Monday before the 1st weekend visit that I wouldn’t get to see him. Smh, it was so unexpected…like a surge of sadness just engulfed me in that one moment. Looking back, I guess I wasn’t only sad for him, but for myself as well. Having an incarcerated spouse, you don’t get to run home to them at the end of a trying day(or a good one for that matter) to debrief and escape the craziness of the world. So my weekends are my time to do that. Those 2, two hour periods are my time to unload a week’s worth of “how was your day”. Even though we speak and email throughout the week, NOTHING compares to skin to skin contact, and face to face communication. But nevertheless, I talked him about that too and he reassured me AGAIN that it would be ok…that he would be ok….that I would be ok.
It’s so easy to allow our men(free or imprisoned) to become the center of our universe. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we have to make sure we aren’t neglecting ourselves and/or our dreams in the process. You still have to live and have a life, and if your man truly loves you, he’ll make sure you remember that. There will be not guilt trips when you’re working extra shifts, or taking a day off to catch up with friends and can’t dedicate a full phone call of attention to him. Like I said before, WE ARE NOT IN PRISON. Life on the outside of those walls will continue to move along, and we have to move right along with it, even when its hard.
I share this experience in my journey as a means of not only staying transparent, but to also encourage other wives/fiancees/girlfriends to keep living. Often I feel like I come across as “unbothered” by this arrangement but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I have weak moments, I get upset with him for being there, I get sad for the boys not having him home during these vital years of their lives, I get upset that I’ve been blessed to have such an amazing husband, but still not “have” him. It burns my soul that we sleep just 5 minutes away from each other, but he’s still 10 years away from home.
I guess this post is kinda twofold. To encourage other wives to make themselves a priority, but also to say its ok to have moments of weakness. At first I felt like I couldn’t ever be sad because I chose this life, but fuck that. I’m human, I’m allowed to experience whichever emotion is necessary for me to grow and move forward in that moment, AND in life.
Simple as that❤