Monthly Archives: June 2013

Reaction

I try not paint my marriage in a light that would make others feel sorry for me. That is not something I actively strive for. I do my best to explain my relationship in a way that leaves people in awe of just how two people survive the separation, the heartache, and the prison. I see Jeremy and myself as survivors. There are lots of people who cannot even make it work when they’ve been handed every opportunity to be happy and functional. Although there are times where I`m absolutely pulling my hair out with stress or crying in my car on the drive home, I never ask for emotional handouts.

The reason I bring this up is because I’ve had a lot of different reactions to my marriage, my struggles, my “situation”. Most people are a little shocked but can hold a normal conversation about my relationship, there are some that say “I`m sorry” as soon as I tell them, as if there is some tragic back story to why I`m married to an inmate. There isn’t. I love my husband. The “I`m sorry” line makes me laugh. Then someone literally asked me if I was stupid for being with Jeremy and it took a serious suppression of feather ruffling not to verbally slap this person. The most personally upsetting reaction I get to my life and marriage are the people who get more depressed about it than I do. Comforting someone else about your own struggles is quite interesting.

I was sitting with someone the other day and we were making small talk. You know, “How is Jeremy?”, “How are you?”. Yeah. Then she looks at me and fans her eyes saying she doesn’t understand how I do it, and that she wants to cry because she is sad for me. I comforted her by telling her not to be upset, that although I have my bad days, that I`m still fully in tact and in love. I walked away with a smirk on my face because having to calm someone who isn`t one half of my whole is amusing and a bit ironic.

I`ll always admit that this is tough, that broken emotions and elated moments go hand in hand, but I don`t complain about my relationship in a way that would allude to me being truly unhappy. I choose this.

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Our ring <3

In one of Jeremy’s first letters to me after he was attacked and thrown into “the hole”(solitary confinement)he told me that even when he was alone and had nothing, not even his clothes, he had his wedding ring and that’s all he needed. Our inexpensive rings have been such a source of comfort and power the last nearly four years. We end every letter with the line “kissing our ring”. It sounds lovesick, and it is, but the rings we have are the only material items that bond us together. Throughout our visits, when I see him kiss his ring, I know he is telling me without words just how much he loves me, and I kiss mine at the same time instinctively.

Our rings, and kissing them, have been a key part of marriage survival the last 6 months. You might think, “it’s just a ring”, and maybe to some married couples it is “just a ring”. But when there are inches of glass or miles of phone line between you and your heart, that “just a ring” becomes a powerful symbol of your love. Total, the value of our rings is under $150, but the emotional value is priceless. To my husband: I am kissing our ring forever and in this difficult time I know you’re kissing it too.

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The senses

Yesterday I returned from my trip out to see my husband for our monthly visit.  I drove this time and I definitely feel that the drive was both a positive and a negative for me. Driving 5 hours, twice, through mostly empty desert is exhausting yet liberating. By the time I arrived back home yesterday I was emotionally and physically spent from the long ride out, the rollercoaster of anxiety and feelings that come from visiting, and the long difficult drive back. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone you love, especially when you are denied the closeness with them you want so desperately.

I haven’t gotten to hug my husband in over 6 months since we’ve had these behind glass visits and that absolutely blows my mind and frustrates me at the same time. Trying to sustain a marriage on letters and visits that consist of only two of the senses is taxing. Sight and sound and a sheet of glass between our tastes, our smells, and our touches. Being so close but so far makes me want to cry and kick in the glass to get to my husband. I try to compensate by smelling clothes that belong to him, and creating the warmth of his skin in my mind but I`m anxious to have my contact visits back.

Yesterday I was looking as closely as I could at my husband’s face, I had my face right up against the glass, and he asked me what I was doing. I told him I was studying his face. Really studying it. Every line, every grey hair in his beard, his eyes, his nose, his ears, his hair. I wanted to create a map in my mind that I could travel to simulate using my other senses with him. I have never wanted to simply hold hands so badly in my life

At the end of the visit, I exited that little booth I was in for 5 hours, and immediately the guards walked over and tightly closed the curtains to the booth so visitors can’t have a lingering look or goodbye. At the end, they cut off even my sight of my husband, ripping away what little contact I do have.

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Friday

It’s been about a week since I`ve posted an entry but it feels like a year. Time tends to drag in this situation and that dragging feeling extends to all areas of my life. Work was pretty hectic, which was only intensified by the emotional roller coaster I rode this week. There was some talk about my possibly being able to have a contact with my husband and I momentarily let myself get excited about it. I learned a long time ago, though, that nothing is what it seems in this life, and any sense of hope you may have can be ripped away from you in the blink of an eye. When I found out I wasn’t getting my contact visit, I felt let down, but I didn`t allow myself to get derailed. I actually used that information to push through the rest of my workday with force. It’s a strange yet amazing  talent to be able to pull strength from somewhere deep down inside yourself and get through a difficult moment. I find myself strong and stable most of the time. I can hardly even bring myself to cry these days because I have built such a suit of armor around myself that I find it almost impossible to feel breakable.

I had to tell my manager, who knows all about my situation with my husband, that I didn`t need the day off in the end because I wasn’t going to get a contact visit with my husband but that I would still be visiting him the following week. She asked me to have a seat, she looked me dead in my eyes, and asked me how I handled my marriage to Jeremy. How I maintained my demeanor in the face of disappointment. How I was so young yet so able to have myself so together. I got up, closed the door for privacy, and sat down again. I started to absolutely gush about how much Jeremy means to me, how even if I had to do this the rest of my life I would do it because it is more important to me to be loved the way I am than to have the conveniences of a “normal” relationship where true love may or may not exist. I believe I even used the  term soul mate to describe Jeremy to her, and I could see a million thoughts racing behind her eyes.

I`m not going to lie. This life is hard. It isn’t for everyone and to be quite honest, I never thought it would be for me. I`ve met a lot of women in the visiting room who were visiting their boyfriends or husbands, who vowed to visit each and every week because they were so in love and they couldn`t leave. You know what happened? I never saw those women again. I`ve also had the pleasure of getting to know some very strong women, quite like myself, who did show up again and again to support their men. It’s always a sad, yet happy feeling to see someone’s partner get parole. You become close to these people that you see week after week. You share your stories, your frustrations, your struggles, and they almost become part of you, part of the prison. The women I became close to during my years of visiting at Lovelock, who moved on, I`ve never talked to again. There is something about wanting to leave that situation and everything about it behind. You want to forget it. You want it stricken from your memory. I think of these women all the time and I have been known to get a little teary eyed, thinking about myself as left behind, but it is what it is. I take my standard deep breaths and remind myself why I`m here.

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Type Atypical

Visiting with my husband is like having the most intense epiphany one can possibly have and being left in ruins afterward. I’ve spent the last week having my normal emotional hangover from visiting, trying to get my mind back to functional, and trying to get my heart to beat a little slower. I`ll be seeing him again in 2 weeks and the cycle will begin again. I wouldn`t trade our visits for the world right now, though, even if the aftermath leaves much to be desired.

People have always wondered why I would give my life to Jeremy, why I`m so dedicated, why I love him. When I first decided to tell people about my relationship with him, I heard a lot of hushed voices asking “why”. “Why would she be with him?”. They said they understood why he was with me, but didn`t understand my early on devotion to someone I hardly knew, to someone with physical boundaries. The best answer I could ever give was “I love him”. Now that I understand my love and relationship inside out, I realize that Jeremy is everything I`ve ever wanted in a partner, in a soulmate, in a love. Forget that the prison exists, forget the heartache of visits and separation, and forget what you think a relationship “should” be.

I am loved and that is an understatement. I am understood, cradled, watered like a flower, accepted, doted upon, made to feel special, and mostly I can be everything with Jeremy that I`m afraid to be with the rest of the world. Those are just the ways he makes ME feel. That is just about me. My husband is one of the most wonderful and caring people I`ve ever met. There are times, despite the circumstances, I cannot believe that someone like him could love me, could want to be with me, and could be completely in love with me just as I am with him.

I don`t see Jeremy as a typical inmate. I don`t see him as an inmate at all. I feel like someone has plucked him from life and placed him in a terrible situation to test him, and I have every faith that he will succeed in the quest to change people’s opinion about him and that he will rejoin the world with me by his side. I could sit here and list a million things that make my husband truly extraordinary and truly one of a kind, but I`ll spare you my love sick rambles. I just want the world to know that there are special, thriving people in the darkest of places and I love one of them.

I know some people must think I`m brainwashed, or otherwise silly, and to them I ask: Have you ever been loved? Truly loved? Unconditionally? Do you feel safe with your lover? Do you feel like you could tell them absolutely anything in the world without fear of judgment?  Do they love all the parts of you that not even you can accept? Do they thrive to help you accept and love those parts? Everything I just asked, reverse those questions, and ask your partner that. I can almost guarantee that you do not have what I have. If you’ve ever wondered what my love is like, think of sentences and thoughts finished without hesitation, being soothed with a look, feeling like you could walk through hell if only that person was walking beside you. That is what I feel in my love, in my marriage and it is really something special.

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