Monthly Archives: August 2013

The power of a hug

I like hugs but I had never been one to give them freely or in volume until this last year. Losing my weekly hugs with Jeremy has opened my eyes to the fact that human connection is electric and healing and necessary.

Thinking about my husband being in solitary confinement, with little to no contact, makes me upset because I know how difficult this separation has been on me, so I can only imagine how lonely it is for him. Tomorrow I`m going to drive out to Ely State Prison for our last non-contact, behind glass visit until this entire disciplinary nightmare is over. He will be able to have contact visits beginning September 30th, and all I can think of is getting my first embrace from my husband in 9 months. Everything is secondary. Kissing, talking, holding hands; those actions pale in comparison to the hug I am craving and imagining. Hugs allow you to feel safe, to feel loved, to bury yourself into another person’s arms. It almost seems unreal that I`ll get to experience that in less than a month. These last 9 months have felt like a lifetime to me, and although I`ve gotten to hug different people over that span of time, they don`t add up to what my husband’s close physical proximity can provide.

Last week at work I was having a bad day. I was letting my workload and the stress of my personal life get to me. I walked into my supervisor’s office and I just burst into tears without filter. She made her way over to me and gave me a giant bear hug and I was shocked by it because I had almost forgotten what being comforted was like, what a powerful embrace felt like. At the end of our conversation I gave her a hug and I held onto that hug like it was the last one I would ever get. That made me realize just how deprived of normal physical contact I have been. So the countdown is on to the all important hug.

I feel sort of silly writing this entry and 9 months ago I would have never considered this being important, but it is. It is love, it is contact, it is comfort. It is being human.

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Lessons learned

If being a prisoner’s wife has taught me anything, it has taught me to be humble and to have some seriously amazing patience. It has taught me the art of keeping peaceful on the surface while I rage underneath. It has taught me to choose my battles and be graceful in the process. Without those lessons learned in this situation, you are bound to cause more trouble for yourself than it is worth. There is a quiet and calculated way to go about things in dealing with the prison, and that way is not to spit in someone’s face no matter how much you may want to at any given time. You stay calm, you think, and you execute.

There are times when I`ve gotten almost too comfortable with the prison, with visiting, with the way I thought things were. Prison will always take what you believe, shake it out of place, and leave you dumbfounded. You adapt, you adjust, you play your cards right, and just maybe you keep things from going from bad to worse. Maybe not.

For the last 6 months I`ve been visiting at a prison I hadn’t been to in a long time and it took some adjustment, and I`m still not fully used to it. I spent 4 years visiting, regularly, at a prison about an hour from me and I got used to the process, used to the guards(who actually favored me a great deal and did me little favors like letting me in before all the other visitors and letting some clothing “violations” fly), and I got used to my surroundings. Maybe I was becoming too at home, maybe the universe decided I needed this change, that my entire life needed to be made just a little more challenging. Life has a funny way of showing you what you need in order to grow and the prison experience isn`t afraid to put that plan in motion.

Be humble. Be smart. Don`t give up. There are plans greater than yourself.

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The light at the end

Since I found out Jeremy would soon be off disciplinary, I have been an excited, anxiously unstable hot mess. I have freaked out pretty much every single day for the past week, feeling the intense pressure of more change and more unknown. It’s so frustrating not being able to talk to him right now, to ask his opinion, to have him take my hand and lead the way like he used to. These last 9 months have been a whirlwind of being as strong as possible, helping my husband in any way I could, waiting, maintaining, being uncomfortable, being lonely, all while trying to be useful in some way that would benefit my situation. Now that we are seeing the light at the end of this tunnel within a tunnel, I am becoming more fragile than ever, anticipating and getting way too impatient with seconds, and minutes, and hours.

I`m tapping my fingers on the table of life, sleeping it off, crying way more than I care to admit, reading letters over and over and over and over again, finding new hope to hang onto while I wait for the next word from my husband.

9 months of no contact visits, 1 phone call a month, and hundreds of pages of written word. I realize that even though it happened slowly, that somewhere in the last 9 months, I have become broken and that isn`t the way I want to go into this next phase. It’s funny to see all the pieces scattered about. You just stare at them and become exhausted thinking of all the work you have to do. You have to pick them up and try your best to make them fit again. I know that this is life and we break and bend and repair and get stronger, but in the midst of it all it just feels like a big blur of mess.

This month cannot pass quickly enough. I want my contact visits back. I want phone calls. I want contact. I want to hit the un-pause button.  

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What’s a little corruption swept under the rug?

It’s strange to go from enraged to happy and back to enraged again all in a matter of minutes. I feel like there are ants crawling all over me with anticipation and anxiety, yet there is nothing I can do about it right this second but breathe, see the light at the end of the tunnel, trust that my husband has a plan, and hold on to my love and faith.

After a whole lot of waiting to hear back about my husband’s disciplinary appeal result they have given him the paperwork stating that his appeal has been DENIED but because of his disciplinary history(which has been nothing for the past 15 years)that his hole/disciplinary time has been reduced to one year which means that on September 24th, with good time credit, he will be off disciplinary segregation and be officially classified as administrative segregation. What does this mean? This means he can have contact visits again once a week instead of once a month, we can talk on the phone once a week instead of once a month, he can order food from canteen and not depend on the disgusting state food to satiate him, and he can start the process of getting back to the prison that is 100 miles from me(he is currently 300+ miles from me).

This is a bittersweet relief for so many reasons. I am, under the surface, crazy with joy that I`ll be able to hold my husband’s hands again in less than two months and that we can actually have real time communication more than once a month. We have had an open ended wait leading up to our reinstatement of contact visits for the last 9 months and I don`t know whether to laugh or cry that we have survived this non contact mess. I am still an anxious mess despite my excitement and anticipation of our first contact visit together.

I am angry that the prison will not just admit that they are wrong and fire the involved parties for conspiring against my husband. I`m laughing now because expecting them to own up to mistakes and false statements is something that I know will not come easy, if at all. If my husband is so dangerous, and he stabbed someone like they are stating(actually, as just one very bitter guard is stating), then why would you reduce his time? He did not stab anyone, they realize this “correctional” officer has falsified her statement and they are trying to clean it up by reducing his time. They know damn well that my husband will battle this false charge to the highest level he is allowed. He is nowhere near done yet and I am completely backing the exposure of prison corruption in Nevada. Yes, it happens all the time, and most people are comfortable turning the other cheek, but there are cases like these that cannot be overlooked, underexposed, or swept under the rug.

I am damn proud of my husband for the amount of time and effort he put into his appeals to get some sort of outcome, and I am confident in his ability to cast doubt on the word of the Nevada Department of Corrections.

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Our words

Over the years I`ve had people ask the question “What do you and Jeremy talk about?”. They mean how can we talk for hours on end at our visits. They mean how can we write 30 page letters. They mean how can we burn through hours on the phone(when we were allowed more than one 15 minute call a month) and not realize where the time went. What do we talk about? What is there to talk about? I always laugh and reply “We talk about everything and nothing”, and it’s true. My question is: What is there not to talk about? Connecting with my best friend is the most important time of my life, and I want to share every single thought, joke, expression of love, frustration, and sadness with this person.

Our love and life is built on our words. We don`t get to hold hands, kiss, or connect physically on a regular basis, and actually not at all right now. Our words are our love, our armor, our promise to each other. While other couples can pacify a bad mood with a movie shared, a road trip taken, or sex, all Jeremy and I have are our words. We substitute everything with letters, phone calls, and crazy amazing conversations at our visits. I have never felt more connected to another person in my life and right now we are restricted to mostly letters. My love has never been so strong.

When sharing a visit with family members I feel myself get antsy like a kid because I sit quietly, staring at my husband and watching him interact with others. I try really hard to not be selfish, to let other people talk to Jeremy when it is a group visit. I find myself speaking our words with my looks and he will randomly burst out in laughter because he knows I`m anxious and excited to have a moment alone with him, to string all my words together and create jokes, professions of love, and stories for his enjoyment.

We have created this wonderful, open world of communication where there is no holding back, no shame, no “I`ll tell you later” because all we have is there and now. All I have is that page, that 15 minute phone call, that less than enough time visit. My words are my connection to my husband. There is no backspace, pause, or delete. There is a continuous flow. There is 13 years of words between us and I know there is easily another 13 more.

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Comfort in the unknown

There is no guarantee in the information provided by the prison. Ever. I have learned over the years to accept that I will never really know exactly what is happening, deadlines are not set in stone, what may have been said one day is completely obsolete the next. My marriage to Jeremy has taught me patience. It has taught me while I kicked, and screamed, and was left dumbfounded by the amount of disorganization and corruption that makes up the Nevada Department of Corrections.

I spoke with my husband for our brief monthly phone call yesterday morning and while he is working his ass of trying to get off this disciplinary sentence and get back to me, his caseworker told him that it is a 9 month waiting list to get back to Lovelock(the prison closer to me). I felt my heart drop in my chest. If I start to calculate dates and times in my head and I hold onto those figures, I am usually disappointed. I should know better than to start planning when I`ll be able to reconnect with my husband. I felt a piece of my hope die a little when I heard that. Everything is precarious in a very uncomfortable way.

I started to panic, first thinking of my husband being so far for another 9-12 months, and then the reality of the situation set in. The reality of everything set in. I have burned almost half of my yearly vacation time seeing him already because visits are not on weekends for his unit. Instead they are on Mondays and Tuesdays. Well, I have work, so I have had to use up my vacation days, and if he isn`t back to Lovelock soon, I`ll have to start using whatever sick time I may have. That combined with the fact that we will still be on limited contact, potentially, for another year had my head spinning.

I`m settled now because what other choice is there? I have to quiet my anxieties, hope for the best, thrust myself into the unknown and live it every single day. There is no solid foundation on which I live but there is a solid foundation on which I love. It’s funny how I went from fighting against the unknown to wrapping it around myself like a blanket. I won’t know what is happening with my husband during this time on a daily basis. Mostly I can only take refuge in the thought of his face, hear his voice in my head, and hope that the unknown will reveal something more than struggle.

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