The crazy part about life is that it does NOT care about your so called plans; it will do EXACTLY as it pleases(good & bad) whether you’re prepared or not. I’ve missed blogging, literally thought about it, started and stopped posts several times over the last month or so but could never quiet my mind enough to see it through. Things have been literally been in a whirlwind for the Hearts.On.Lock.Down family, and now that there’s a bit of clarity I figured I could take some time to reconnect with you guys about what’s been going on.

Now, not everything has been sucky. My dirty old man made it to see another birthday. Not much to actually do trying to “celebrate” from prison, but we just give thanks that he’s still alive and well. He even has a few grey hairs in his beard that make me melt when I see them peeking through #ohyouaMANman😍lol.

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Alsooooooooo! Our oldest crumb-snatcher finished high school last month. Truly a big deal since he really put in the work these last 4 years to have options on which college he’ll attend in the Fall (Morgan State better get ready), and an even bigger deal for my husband since he didn’t finish high school(until he got to prison). Even though he was over the moon with pride, he was also heartbroken having to see everything in pics rather than being front row cheering alongside the rest of us. Nonetheless, we made sure to celebrate this milestone as loudly, and as proudly as possible. #youngblackandbrilliant

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Aside from all the excitement of graduation, we successfully made our way through another Ramadan, Alhamdullilah! This was despite challenges that came our way early on. Two days into the holy month, I got an email at 4am from my husband that they were taking him to court. Of course, it wasn’t in the plans at that moment based on what we were told, but we try to always remember that we’re not working on our time. I sat in a lukewarm hallway for nearly 2 hours waiting for things to get started. Hungry, hot, anxious, nervous- …just a ball of “wtf is about to happen? this day could literally change everything , OR could leave us right where we were- waiting”.

For the third time, I was seeing my husband escorted around in chains and cuffs. And this time the proceedings were way more than a brief hearing; it had my heart beating like a bass drum, palms cold but somehow still sweaty and mouth dry as the Sahara because after all, it was Ramadan. He said he didn’t expect me to be there because it was last minute, but was pleasantly surprised when one of the guards let him know that his wife was waiting outside before things got started. I think he looked back to make sure I was ok every 5 minutes or so, while i sat there wondering about everything that could be going through his mind. We were there all day and then had to wait almost a month just to be informed that his request was denied. The upside was denial didn’t make his sentence any worse, but it was a stark reminder for both of us that as of now, we still have a ways to go before we reach the “end”.

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The last of our wave of crazy came for us both and forced us to navigate emotions and feelings we never really seriously considered. The totality of being in prison as long as he has, missing out on vital milestones as a father and husband as well as the adjustment of being in a new facility with a LOT less freedom to move around began to take a toll on him. He mentioned to me that he thought he was suffering from a slight case of depression. A self diagnosis brought on by him noticing the changes in his own habits, sleeping more, eating more, working out way less, being more irritable and less inclined to interact with people (including myself). I didn’t take it personal, but it did bother me that there was really nothing I could say or do to make him feel better. We both agreed that there was no point in him seeking help from the prison because….well, they’re trash, so I found some literature online to send him so he could at least start to work through things on his own. The article/worksheets (title noted below) definitely helped as a starting place. According to him, he felt like he had to figure it out on his own, or at least attempt to. The thought of being vulnerable in that way wasn’t something he was sure he could do, not from prison anyway. That isn’t really the environment for “weakness” so he carried it until he realized he couldn’t deal with it alone.

Depression and Low Mood for People in Prison

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Along with the article I sent him, we decided that we would take a break from our weekend visits and cut back on phone time as a means of him having to interact less with staff and other prisoners, and also ease the heartbreak of watching me leave at the end of visit. It also kept us from being at each others neck🤬. We had a good week or so where every call ended in a disagreement of some sort. He was irritated from being there and I was irritated from him being an ass, even if it wasn’t on purpose. I also encouraged him to speak with his family about how he was feeling. He has this mindset that everybody can come and dump their problems on him, but he has to hold his alone. #notonmywatch In the end, it helped as well. He was not only able to breathe a bit easier knowing we were all there for him, but I think it also helped him to see that one of the benefits of being married (to me) is not having to face these kinds of things alone. Opening up, along with the exercises in the worksheets I sent, have helped tremendously in turning things around.

My husband (as a prisoner) will try to keep himself busy in order to keep his mind off of the things that bother/upset/irritate him. Being in a facility where he’s now locked in most of the day, there’s nothing to keep his mind busy so this was the result. In dealing with this situation, Dr. Wife (that’s me) suggested that he stop doing that, stop avoiding the things that stress him because it won’t make them go away, it’ll just make him more volatile from not facing them head on, and nooooobody wants that. Dr. Wife (me again) also suggested that he acknowledge that he’s in prison, acknowledge that he’s surrounded by bullshit all day whether its guards or other prisoners, and then acknowledge that he can only control how he responds to them; every interaction with stupidity shouldn’t take him from 0-100, especially after almost 10 years of being away. Of course it’s easier said than done, but we have to start somewhere.

For him, I applaud his courage to speak up about it in an effort to rectify the situation before it became a much bigger issue. I’m sure other things will come along and rock the boat a bit, it goes without saying. But I think the plans we’ve put in place to address them early will come in handy, and if not we now have an even wider net of communication so we can adjust our sails and navigate as needed.

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As of now, all is back to “normal” and I can sense a lighter, less bothered tone when we speak. Insha’Allah this episode is the only one of its kind we’ll face, but if not I’m sure we’ll make our way through it❤.