“I hope you rot in hell!”

Whoa, what? Yes, the ol’ “rot in hell” and “I hope you die” phrases of heartfelt wisdom. Words that touch many, many levels of the human soul. Words that move the universe forward and provide hope for all. Yes, that is sarcasm if you did not catch it.

You guessed it, I’m addressing hate mail, which is sort of baffling to be honest. I fully understand and realize that I am married to a somewhat “public figure”, but the whole notion of hate mail is very new to me. It’s not fun and that is this simplest way I can describe it. I could seriously never be a celebrity because I would fucking cry every single day. I’m not special, though, every article I read, about pretty much anyone, contains an infinite number of hateful, negative, and otherwise useless comments that do not help the human race or social justice at all. The words are just a bunch of choice letters strung together to create really shitty, inarticulate comments that are rooted in misinformation and inflammatory thinking.

To the above statement, people will shout “You’re full of shit!! I read it in the paper!! He confessed!! You are evil and sick. Rot in hell! Die Die Die!!!”. It’s the same circle over and over again and unless you truly understand what is *actually* happening, you cannot be reasoned with. People love media headlines, they LOVE them,  and they love to believe that the newspapers and the police and law have their best interest at heart. Or do they? Take a pause from wishing me a safe passage to hell because you know me so well and think for a second. You couldn’t even make it that second, could you? I heard this quote the other day on a podcast that I listen to and it was something to the effect of “People don’t want to know the back story because the back story challenges what they think they know about something”. It’s true. People would rather live in a space of what they think they know and believe than have any type of back story or different narrative than what they’ve been spoon fed by the media.

I’ve also had people ask why I feel my husband deserves freedom and that’s a really hard question because, again, if you have no idea what is going on, you will not be convinced by any counter that I have. I suggest, first reading more than one blog entry and actually educating yourself on more than what you’ve briefly read on the case. I would also point out that just because there could possibly, maybe be a re-sentencing hearing, that does not mean anyone is getting out of prison. Third, consider for a brief, very brief moment, even briefer than it took you to deem me worthy of hellfire, that there were two people at the scene of the crime and only one convicted and the other goes free without being charged as an accessory.

I used to think to myself, “What right do I have to defend this mess?” I used to think it wasn’t my mess to defend and then I started to think, “Why should I have to defend myself to people who have no idea what they are talking about?” Now I’ve made peace somewhere in between questioning my right to defend my life and myself, and trying to let go a little bit more. I realize that some folks cannot be reasoned with, so why am I going to spend my time responding to messages of damnation and crude thought process? There is literally no winning.

This post strays a bit from my creative process of crafting my blog entries because the hate mail I’ve gotten had such a visceral impact on my thought process, trying to understand how people who have no idea who I am as an individual could say such ugly things to me, that I just wanted to speak honestly about my thoughts.

If you’d like to check out a post that my husband did about the hate mail, you’re more than welcome to. I can see the angry clicking already. Angry click here.

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Evidentiary Hearing v 1.0

How do you process the start of a journey that is going to decide your other half’s fate and ultimately yours? If you’re me, you apparently eat way too much ice cream, do not sleep nearly enough to function, and you cry a little, but not too much. That is how I am currently processing the aftermath of attending my first ever evidentiary hearing. I`m not going to lie: the hearing was terrifying for me (having no experience with this type of situation), anxiety inducing, but an event that I am glad I was there for because I want to support my husband as we weave our way through some back road that cannot be turned around on, so you have to just keep moving forward even though it sucks and you are so lost and you have no idea what is going to happen next. Buckle up and brace yourself for what is around the bend.

*click click click* The camera man is taking photos, thankfully not of me or the immediate family sitting in the courtroom with me, but he is taking photographs of the expert that is testifying. Photograph after photograph after photograph. He is taking photographs of the judge and the lawyers. He is taking photographs of Jeremy. My Jeremy. My stomach knots up the way it did before I got out of the car that morning. It knots up and my hands and pits are sweaty and I can hear my heartbeat in my ears and I`m trying to hear what all is being said, but my heart is drumming in my ears and I keep hearing the *click click* of that fucking camera in front and to the right of me and I want to get up and slap the whole thing out of that man’s hands. I envision myself doing just that, getting up and just slapping that stupid camera out of his hands and onto the floor just so he will stop taking pictures of Jeremy.

I look over at my husband, this man that I had only ever been with behind prison walls. This is our first time seeing each other, in the flesh, outside of a prison visiting room even though we have been married nearly 9 years and have a friendship that spans almost two decades. I look over at him and he is so focused, handsome, scruffy with his glasses on and just looking forward and taking notes,  aware that the photographer is clicker happy. I keep looking at my husband and he happens to look over and we exchange a smirk off camera, a knowing smirk, an understanding one, some secret declaration of “It’s okay. I`m here and you are here and we are here and I love you”. If all that can be said in a smirk, we said it and I was glad for that exchange in my moment of sweaty armpits and desire to slap the camera onto the floor. I wanted to have a  full on Braveheart moment and just slap the camera down and yell “FRRREEEEDOOOMMM!!!!!”. Not the appropriate time for that I guess.

While the clicker happy camera man is taking photo after photo, some “junior reporter person” is shadowing him, and by shadowing him, I mean she is recording footage of the testimony on her phone and moving the phone around like she is at some concert for a band she likes and she is trying to capture all the action. So, clicky McClickerson and mobile device concert capturer are hard at work for the Las Vegas Review Journal. There was also a reporter taking notes, who ended up writing an article which is half “facts” all fucked up, half “that is not even true, did you just make that up?” I am aware of note taker, camera person, professional phone recorder person, the judge, the lawyers, the prosecution, bailiffs, court workers .My eyes do laps around the courtroom, examining expressions while scientific terms flood my ears, just barely audible over my heart that will not calm. Back to Jeremy, back to sweating, back to looking around. This goes on for nearly two hours and I exhaust myself.

After all is said and done, we walk out with no answers because this isn`t a decision that can be made lightly. There is too much to examine, to weigh, to consider. The decision will mostly likely take the judge the entire 60 days to reach and I`ll be holding my breath until then, playing out scenarios about what happens next, what the judge will say, what appeals will be filed after to challenge the “winning” side, how long this will go on for, if my husband will ever have a chance at getting out of prison. This process will most likely continue for longer than I`d like because the system does not go swiftly and it does not go off without a hitch. I spend a lot of my time in a precarious space when it comes to thinking about what is going to happen next. What I do know for certain is that I will be at every court hearing and take every low-key smirk from my husband that I can get. I also know that I will face my anxiety to support the person I love the most in this world and that I believe in second chances.

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Pariah

About a week and a half ago, I was on Facebook and I commented on a post by Damien Echols, a former death row inmate. Damien’s post was about something to do with freedom and the anxiety of being on the outside after so many years in prison. Anyway, I follow him because I like his photography and his posts are mainly about the joy of living on the outside and the hope that comes with being in the world after all that he has been through.

So, this post was one of a few I had randomly commented on. I usually don`t comment on “page posts” because, well, I just don`t, but every once in a while I like to express a thought I have about something or a feeling that I can identify with or even a hope that I share. I believe my comment was about my hope for Jeremy’s eventual freedom and how his post made me feel like there can be a life after prison, especially when you were sentenced to a life sentence when you were just 18. I made no mention of Jeremy’s name or details because really it was just a comment on the expressed emotion, not on the specifics of my life or who I am married to. I don`t know why I commented on it. I guess partly because I just wanted to put my words somewhere and another part of me wanted to connect with others who were maybe open minded and could be supportive and who I could support. I think that is part of being a human being, right?

One woman, in a short comment, shared her story about her son being incarcerated and expressed her own hope. “Okay, off to a good start. Rad.”, I thought to myself. I then put my phone away and went about my daily errands. Shortly after that I noticed the familiar red bubble near the Facebook app that indicates that you have a new notification. I opened up Facebook right away, like the slave to social media that I can be sometimes, and it said that so and so has commented on my comment on the Damien Echols’ post. I thought maybe there was more on my thread about people identifying with me or my feelings or someone sharing their story as well. I got excited, but I was very quickly deflated when I noticed that it was someone who is trying to “out” me and isolate me in the thread by posting a news story about Jeremy and the person asked me if I knew what my husband is in prison for. There was more to the comment, that I honestly cannot even remember now because I got tunnel vision and deleted my original comment and put a stop to the entire witch hunt before it started. I just could not deal with it at that moment. Not right then, not that day. I seriously thought to myself “Fuck! Am I not even allowed to share in a positive post without having someone shit all over me?”

I started to question whether or not I had the right to post without people ganging up on me. I started to become irate because there I was, just trying to connect and someone took time out of their day to cyber stalk me, find an article, and post it in the thread I was in. “Am I a pariah?”, I asked myself. Maybe I am, but then what does that make anyone who is willing to go against the grain in regards to their life choices and open up about them? Are they pariahs as well? Well, maybe they are. Do I deserve to follow my own path but not be allowed to talk about? Am I allowed to exist in this space that I’ve created? Is this just part of the landscape that I live in?

SO much introspection from one less than stellar comment from some person I do not know and who does not know me and ultimately does not really even know what they are talking about.  I believe in evaluation, though, no matter how painful or unfair it seems. Suddenly I felt alone and targeted and like I was on an island by myself and….I just flashed on the Carrie scene where the mom says “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” for some reason. No one is laughing but when I experience comments like this, which is rare, I feel like Carrie, who is getting her period in the girl’s locker room and she is on the floor being pelted by tampons and maxi pads by a mob that relishes in the pain and embarrassment of others.

Public Pariah. Prison Pariah. The word pariah makes me think of piranha. No relation.

Of course, this public presentation has me thinking about my inner circle and what those people think about me. Anyone who has ever had anything negative to express about myself or Jeremy in my inner circle has either never said anything to me directly or they have just blocked me and disappeared. My brain goes to dark places, though, and I imagine people feeling silent contempt for me. I imagine all of this because sometimes being a human being means that although there are a thousand positive comments, the negative few are the ones that evoke the most in us.

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Shades of freedom

There is so much hesitation when talking about Jeremy’s potential for freedom, for release into the world and into my embrace. There is so much hesitation and so much trepidation that are at war with my hope and the vision that I have in my head of a life with my life partner. So much that I normally don`t even want to talk about it. I cannot talk about it some days. The thoughts and the feelings that those thoughts own sit on a shelf in the back of my mind, there for accessing but not for showing. What is the truth? That I`m terrified of my husband never getting a second chance and I feel a sense of overwhelming nervousness that he will, that we will be able to build a life after so many years of being apart the majority of the time. I live in this space between crying while laughing and laughing while crying and sometimes I`m not sure which one is which. There are days when I`m not sure if my life is very empty or very full. All I know is that I have a faint glimmer of hope and sometimes that is all you need to get out of bed in the morning, committed to your cause, ready to give it all you’ve got even though you are tired.

Jeremy and I have never known each other outside of prison walls. We have never eaten a meal at our dining room table together or held hands in the rain or been able to leave each other silly notes that are part smart ass, part madly in love. We have never shopped for groceries together, embraced in sadness beyond the barb wire. We have never shared immense joy the moment it happens out in the world, far from the confines of the prison and its rules, its walls. But…it feels like we have done all of those things and more. These last 15 years have felt like anything real is supposed to feel, complete with its ups and downs, two steps forward and ten steps back. No crazy imagination necessary. We built our own version of freedom ourselves and have sustained each other with the restraint breaking completeness that unconditional love provides. Him and I in our little bubble in the middle of a visiting room, on the phone with our louder than life laughter and the passionate affirming silence of two people who don`t need to say a word to know. We know each other better than we know ourselves and I never thought I would have that with another person.

The other day Jeremy told me that his friend Mike was rolling up and transferring to a prison up north, that he was giving up on his appeals and wanted the freedom of being at a prison that allows more time outside of the cell, but not one that inmates are really releasing from. This prison up north is where he is going to get comfortable, to settle into his sentence and maybe where he is going to leave this world. This news was unexpected and caught me off guard. “I didn’t know he was leaving. You didn’t tell me” I said​. I like Mike quite a bit and in fact, I just saw him the last time I visited. When he saw me, he lit up and gifted me a huge goofy grin and a wave. Upon my departure, he wished me a safe drive. I wish I would have paid attention to that moment a little better now.

I hate endings and I hate not knowing if I’ll ever see someone again. Knowing that he is relocating to come to terms with giving up on life on the outside pains me in a way that I cannot describe, but Jeremy explained to me that Mike wanted to be happy and he knew that he could be happy somewhere else, that as a habitual criminal in the past who has caught a serious sentence, that he knew he would probably never get out and didn`t want to pursue freedom to the outside world further.

Freedom is available in shades, in levels that are so personal to a person and a circumstance. Although I am sad about Mike, I have to think of his choice as liberation for him, one that he is choosing. How can I argue with that? I cannot. I can only wish him well and focus my attention on grasping my hope for my husband’s shade of freedom that involves a life beyond the prison gate.

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Holidays 2017

It always seems strange to me that I`m able to properly mourn any holiday without my husband because we haven’t really celebrated many holidays together, much less in the proper sense of traditional family gatherings. It really stuns me sometimes. I have never been in the presence of my husband, who I`ve been married to for over 8 years now, outside of prison walls. We have never gone shopping for gifts together, he has never seen me after one too many glasses of wine, we have never kissed under a stupid mistletoe. We have built an entire world together, over the last 15 + years, that has consisted of so much “making it work” and accepting the fact that we are two of the closest people, who just so happen to be separated by prison walls and a life sentence. It stuns me and it also renders me fragile when I think too much about it.

Displaying weakness is not strength of mine. Is that an oxymoron of a sentence or what? Speaking the hurt is not easy for me to do with those I`m closest to. I`m getting better at it, but sometimes it’s hard for me to put words to feelings that are tough. It’s hard to say “Hey I`m hurting. This marriage is awesome and I want to be happy, but I am very sad right now.” I think the holidays make loving someone in prison extra hard. You look around at all the holiday spirit and you want some of it, but there are big pieces missing. Pieces that are so big, so integral, that it seems almost impossible to really feel any type of genuine joy. I know that I find myself digging deep for holiday spirit and failing miserably at times.

That last paragraph was so  honest that now I feel uncomfortable, exposed, as if that were any more possible on this blog where I’ve laid myself bare. Like I said, it’s hard to talk about hurt at its core, about imagining what life would be like if Jeremy and I were able to be together and also imagining a life where we never knew each other or even a life where we parted ways. Speaking hurt, speaking the hard stuff doesn’t feel in the spirit of the season, but it is a truth that exists in my life and one that I am unable to sweep under the rug for another day, especially not at a time when our hearts as humans are enveloped in moments of….being together.

I have a relatively new friend who found me through social media and reads my blog (Hi!) and is also involved with someone in prison. We talk about the ridiculous prison stuff that makes us laugh, but we also talk about the stuff that hurts, the stuff that people shy away from and I am grateful for her conversation. She reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. We are very similar and although I`m not much older than her, I feel like she is a younger sister, a younger me and I want to shield her from maybe writing any of the tough blog entries I’ve written over the years. I also want to hug her and I want to thank her because her fresh friendship has made me feel hopeful again. It has made me feel young love vicariously and reminds me of when Jeremy and I first met.

I literally almost cried as I wrote that last sentence. The holidays will mess you up just as much as love will and together…they are the downfall of my emotional stability. So, the tough stuff. Sometimes you have to write it, speak it, embrace it, face it, and make peace with it. Hi my name is Desiree and I`m married to someone who lives in a prison and holidays are difficult and I am sad and this sucks and I want cookies.

I got an ad in my email box from eHarmony this morning and it made me laugh for some reason. “Don`t you want to spend the holidays with someone special?” Yes, eHarmony, I do.  I would also like eHarmony to fuck off.

I told Jeremy about the email and he asked me if I thought that if we both did the questionnaire if we would be matched together. He said he thought we would be. I`m sure, but who knows. ​I don`t know why life happens the way it does or why we gravitate towards the people we do, but I do know that putting words to the shitty feelings and the sadness allows a greater appreciation for the good stuff, even if it is muddled by the pain. Holiday lights still sparkle even when they are dim right?

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Sex and Sunshine

I used to talk to this woman at Lovelock Correctional Center who stood by her man for 20 years. Anytime I saw her at visiting I had a feeling of friendship and calm wash over me because she was very easy to talk to and sort of took me under her wing when I first started to visit Jeremy regularly at that prison. I saw her not too long before her man was released, which was also just before I married Jeremy. I remember when I told her that I was going to marry Jeremy,  she just enveloped me in her arms for the biggest hug ever. If there is ever a time when I needed comfort, it was before I made that life leap. Our ships passed briefly in the proverbial night, but I liked her a great deal. I always asked myself if that was going to be me someday, a thought that both interests me and terrifies me. She was dedicated to her husband for 20 years of incarceration and I used to wonder how she did it, what her private life was like, if she thought a lot about sex and walking in the sunshine with her husband.

It has been almost 8 years since I hugged this woman goodbye, a stranger goodbye, a sad and happy goodbye, a “farewell, I will never see you again but thank you for your time in my life” goodbye. More than likely, when you part from someone to meet you prison, you know you’ll never seen them again. It’s part of the landscape of prison relationships.

All these memories and repressed excitement that makes my heart beat, came to the surface after listening to the latest episode of Ear Hustle, a podcast from inside San Quentin state prison in California, that I’ve started to listen to and enjoy. I find myself laughing and nodding my head while I listen and I realize just how familiar prison feels to me, how much I know, and how common the themes are, no matter where your person is incarcerated. This particular episode was about couples, sex, family visits, connecting on an intimate level, and the general struggle of being in a romantic relationship, or shall I say maintaining a romantic relationship, while one member happens to be behind the barbed wire. It ain’t easy, that’s for sure, and you can quote me on that.

When I think about my marriage to Jeremy, how we met after he was already in prison, how there are no “family visits”(also referred to as conjugal visits) in the state of Nevada, and how we have never even held hands in the sun….well, I start to think about just how different my marriage really is. Sometimes Jeremy and I literally look at each other, fully aware of the bizarre life we have built, and we laugh. Yet it all seems so “normal” because if you do anything for an extended length of time, it inevitably seems commonplace, no matter how unconventional it might be. Been married almost 8 years and never had sex with each other or been outside together? Totally normal.

Only a very small number of states allow conjugal visits and usually if you have a life without parole sentence, those visits are even less likely. So, the chances of me getting alone time with my husband is pretty much nonexistent. I never had to really come to terms with that fact, it just is. It does “help” that we never were together in the “free” world, but I’ve just accepted that prison infringes on anything private. Even though I am free citizen, I am also a prisoner right along with Jeremy when it comes to our time together. I have little control over my own skin to skin contact with my life partner. I have made adjustments to my life plans when it comes to intimacy, have had to redefine the term and my expectations. I have officially ruled out having children as something that I would want for myself at this point, and have settled with the idea, that for now, I can be outside and Jeremy can be outside, but we cannot be outside together. “You have to see my new hair color in the sun” I tell him, but I know that isn’t possible.

I used to get frustrated when people would casually ask “So WHEN do you get to have sex with Jeremy?” Over the years, I’ve learned that people on the outside just don’t really understand how the prison system works, the restrictions that are imposed, and just how difficult the rules make it to even see each other sometimes, let alone maintain any type of “sex life” beyond creative writing and an exchange of words over a monitored and recorded call.  You have to throw a bit of your inhibition away and if you have anxiety like me, you have to throw all of your inhibition away and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

So, as a 32 year old woman, I have to dig deep and modify where I can because at this point I’m not interested in extracurricular activities (my silly reference to extramarital affairs). In this life, there just comes a point, one that I’ve been at for a while, that you stare down the prison bullshit and then turn to your partner and say “Okay! I love you and I’m in it for the long haul and this sucks but let’s make this shit work”. The application for “friends with benefits” has long been torn up and thrown into the air like correctional confetti.

Side boyfriends and accepting ones fate aside… I have seen and heard a lot of funny stories about women visiting their men and trying to “release”. Well, it’s hard to release when you are constantly being watched like some freak show, the guard’s personal prison porn.  The thought of a voyeuristic intrusion doesn’t seem to faze some people, though, and I have on more than one occasion tried to ignore quick face sucking, momentary grinding, and the end of a kinky sex fantasy in the visiting room. My ears pick up every other word and I find myself trying to block out and listen at the same time. You gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. No judgement.

Note: If you ever do end up in the visiting room at Ely State Prison, choose your chair wisely and stay away from any weird stains. No, I`m not joking.

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Visiting vicissitudes

Having the ability to put on a mask when things are bothering you is a gift. Or is it a curse? Or is it both? All I know is that my gift of sublimation has somehow melted into a puddle of retreat and inability to cope externally. The pause on life is definitely on right now.

Prison will do that to you, and me, and many people. Sometimes you just stop caring and sublimating and having your proverbial shit together and you just ..hide. Only it isn’t really hiding so much as it is self preservation and recharging and just being. Also, eating chips and reading, but those activities are a given when you decide to hermit. If they aren’t for you, you’re  hermiting wrong.
That’s where I have been, inside my head and inside the comfort of my little domicile, where it’s ok to not want to see or talk to anyone, where it’s ok to breathe in the biggest, deepest, most exhausting breath and let out a blood curdling scream into a pillow. My cat doesn’t care. She is used to my moments of insanity dubbed as an “awakening”. So, me in my little bubble of avoiding the outside world and the heat and any plans, but then comes visiting. I want to go and I don’t want to go. I go. I always go. I’m always happy I go but also not so secretly despise my time at the prison.
While waiting to enter the prison for visiting last week, I think my layered exterior, that I spent nearly 15 years building, started to crumble a bit, or peel. It was peeling, like old wall paint and what lies beneath is starting to come to the surface, visible to the naked eye. Or ….was it less crumble and peel and more I don’t give a damn anymore about being contained? You can decide.
Being out in the morning Summer Las Vegas heat while waiting in a line full of people to get into another line to be physically searched to get into a prison visiting room will do things to a person. 1. The first part will make you sweat. It is God awful hot in the Summer here and I loathe it with all that I am. I have always hated the heat, just ask my mom. 2. You will be irate, or at least I will be because sometimes the excitement of visiting is no match for the utter pain it is to get into visit sometimes. I grit my teeth, literally, and sometimes go into a meditative trance to separate my mind from my body.
Sometimes while waiting in line, I see these young girls, full of hope about seeing their man and I think about how if they stay, that feeling won’t last forever. Not that they will stop loving their inmate or that they will stop being excited to some degree, but this shit sucks and it’s hard and to do it for years and years wears you down. It’s nice to see the beginning, though, the naivete that maybe I had once when I first started to visit Jeremy shortly after my 18th birthday. I watch these girls with curiosity and misplaced jealousy because I want to be excited too. I want to exist in a place of hope, but the honeymoon of anything new does not last forever and I want to take these girls by the shoulders and shake them. I want to shake them and hug them and tell them to run. It’s human to feel conflicting emotions and to want to act in conflicting ways and prison shines a light on those human pushes and pulls.
Anyway, it must have been the heat and the unsuspecting future struggle I was seeing all around me, but I found myself talking to some of the regular women I usually pass the time chatting with and I just blurted out “I’m sick of this shit!”. My ridiculous outburst was met with laughter and head nods rooted in understanding and the dreaded question, “How long does he have left?”. I respond with “I don’t know” because I am too tired and surprised by my own blatant proclamation to craft a good answer. But it’s true, I don’t know. For some reason I add that I’ve been doing this for nearly 15 years, the visiting thing, and I feel heads whip around and eyes are on me. One lady looks at me like I’m some sort of freak(and maybe I am) or maybe she is surprised because I look relatively young still(this is me trying to make myself feel better). One lady just says “Wow” and another “What!”, not really a question but an exclamation of disbelief.
It dies down quickly as we move ahead in the line, but internally I’m reeling from what just happened and I start to panic(this is what happens when you have anxiety). The rest of my visit feels weird and off. I’m agitated and luckily I’m married to someone who knows when to press me for answers, but not too hard. Jeremy knows this situation is tough and we strategize to navigate the choppy waters together. I tell him about my outburst and he laughs because while he is sympathetic to my discomfort and suffering, he knows that laughing makes my heavy heart light again and his laugh invariably makes me smile. I am grateful for this and that he lets me spin out in my head while I stare off into space and he eats a bag of Doritos. During the spacing out and chip eating mini marathon, we keep one hand free to hold onto the other, an anchor of a sort in a situation that can sweep you under and away at any given moment. Sometimes land is too fucking far away and you need to learn how to swim in the waters you are in. Holding hands means we are together, we are swimming with one another.
I was doing a health assessment for my insurance recently and it is divided into sections about your history, diet, exercise, preventative health, and emotional health. I scored not so well on my emotional health section(because I was honest when checking those stupid little bubbles) and at the end it said next to my emotional health section, “needs work” with a sad face and a cloud over it. I literally burst out laughing at this ridiculous “measure” and scoring system. How do you measure the emotional health of someone whose spouse lives in a prison and all the work and baggage and madness that comes with that? I want to write to the evaluation people and ask them to include a section that will not paint my emotional health as “needs work”, but rather “Hey, kid, you’re doing the best you can. Hang on and hang in there”.