None of us exit our childhoods without some damage from our upbringing. Whether your parents were genuine pieces of shit, or just made honest mistakes, everybody has childhood scars that extend beyond knee scrapes and a broken bone or 2. This alone makes us all candidates for a series of counseling sessions, so I’m not surprised that its highly recommended after something as traumatic as a prison sentence. And regardless to whether the sentence was a few months or a few years, my thoughts is that its STILL needed; for the entire family.
Even though my husband and I speak very candidly about this situation while he’s still away, we both agree that once he comes home one of our first and continuous visits will be with a counselor. I know we both face situations and circumstances on this journey that we try to shield each other from so as not to add extra worry or stress, but we also both realize the importance of our mental health as individuals and as a unit. Also, since correctional facilities aren’t too big on correcting the bigger issues many prisoners have, it’s only right that he/we take the necessary steps to make sure we’re operating at our best, after years of having to adapt to a lifestyle that is anything but normal.
I say “we” because the further I get into this sentence, (I’m approaching year 5, he’s a little over year 9), I realize the ways in which I too have become institutionalized despite not being an actual prisoner. Realizing that I’m chewing gum out in public and having to remember that it’s ok (it’s not allowed during visit however). Being hesitant to embrace or touch him in certain ways because I don’t want it to be interpreted as something being passed or inappropriate. Being aware that our every interaction is watched, and depending on whose eyes are watching, they (the interactions between us) are also being scrutinized in the worst possible way. Its mind-boggling how “normal” some of these things have become for us, so we’ll definitely need some reprogramming when it’s all said and done.
The thing I love however, is that we’re both on the same page on this topic. We’ve agreed that even though our relationship is pretty fuckin’ awesome, it can always be better. We can always be stronger versions of ourselves, for ourselves, our marriage and our families. In the meantime we do our best to keep our communication with one another open and honest. When difficulties arise we talk it out, we express our views, come to an understanding, and in the instances where compromise isn’t on the horizon, we agree to disagree.
While this journey can expose holes and weaknesses in a relationship, we’ve been fortunate enough to have it strengthen who we are as a unit. There’s a different type of understanding that comes from us choosing to understand and accept each other exactly as we are in the moment and celebrating our growth through any trials or perceived setbacks that may arise. I tell my husband how proud of him I am because I’m honestly impressed by how well he holds himself together through this, how he remains strong enough to encourage me, the boys and even other prisoners while dealing with his own struggles.
I really don’t have to tell you all how amazing he is, I’m sure I’ve made it more than clear over the past few years of blogging about our love and lives. I look forward to what’s to come (good and “bad”) because I know we have an amazing thing on our hands. It’s not only blessed us, but so many people around us, near and far who tune in to our story. I’m sure counseling will only intensify our greatness to each other and to the rest of the world.