Monthly Archives: September 2013

Responsibility for your chosen path

I woke up frustrated this morning. Frustrated with my life and the situations I find myself. I wanted to blame someone. Jeremy, my friends, even the ottoman I stubbed my toe on last night. The only person I have to hold accountable is the person in the mirror. The only person I`m allowed to be angry with is myself. The only person who is responsible in how I feel on any given day is myself.

I was disappointed yesterday because it seems like I`m there when my friends are in a jam or need to talk but when I need someone to talk to not one person can be found. It’s not often that I need someone to lean on but I couldn`t get a response yesterday from several people and I was quite miffed about it during the day and into the night. I woke up wanting to lash out, be angry, and redirect the blame. I laid in bed for a while trying to center myself, trying to get my thoughts in order, and I came to the realization that no one is to blame, that there is no blame. This is life. There are going to be times, and many times for me personally, where I`m not going to have someone to talk to or help me with advice. I`ve decided to be happy today and to make some coffee this morning and battle the demons in my head on my own.

Any path you choose is going to be the same. You are the ultimate keeper of your fate. You decide. While it is nice to have advice when you think you need it, ultimately you make your own decisions. I make my own decisions. The last 10 months have been hard on me and that is a gross understatement for the way I have felt leading up to this point. I’ve done a whole lot of forced changing, steeling myself, and rearranging my thoughts. I know that I need Jeremy, but I know longer count on his advice to get me through because our daily communication was ripped away quickly and I was left standing knee deep in my own anxiety and insecurity. When you are forced into an unexpected situation it really is a make or break moment in your life. The strings get cut and you are on your own. While that change was painful, I am glad for it. I am able to handle much more than I thought I would be able to.

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Crazy hand

In just over a week I`ll be driving back out to Ely to visit Jeremy for our first contact visit in nearly 10 months. I can hardly believe it has been that long, that we will be reuniting physically in the place where we had our first “date”.

Right after my 18th birthday, back in 2003, I got a visiting application from Ely State Prison that Jeremy requested be sent to me. I meticulously filled it out, nervously looked over it again and again before sending it. I was approved a month later and had convinced my mom to drive me over 500 miles to a prison in the middle of nowhere. My anxiety got the better of me the night before and I had a minor meltdown in the hotel room. I paced, and cried, and wondered what I was doing so far away from home, why I had asked my mom to drive me so far. I had let my younger brother and friend come along as well and I got the support I needed in that moment to get a few hours of sleep and wake up the next morning ready to face a seriously nervous heart and stomach.

My mom pulled up right in front of the prison and my body got out of the car while my mind floated elsewhere. I was on auto pilot and I wanted to throw up. I had declined my mom’s offer to accompany me into the gatehouse to sign in as I just wanted to gather myself for a few seconds and I didn`t want to talk to anyone. It wasn’t the prison I was scared of. It was meeting someone I had grown to love over the years that I had never met in person who just so happened to be housed in a prison. That combination made my thoughts spasm. I almost feel like I mentally blacked out because I can hardly remember signing in that first time, or walking up to the visiting room, or waiting at a table for Jeremy. I remember very little about the beginning of that first visit at all except that we hugged and it was comfortable and he tried to kiss me and I backed away. He wasn’t upset at all. He gave me a smile that suggested curiosity and determination to love me, to know me, to know my reservations.

One thing I do remember clearly, though, is being nervous. Nervous, nervous, NERVOUS!! I could hardly talk at the beginning. I didn`t even want to move. I know my gaze was shifty, and my hands were clammy in his. He asked me why I was nervous and I was quiet. He laid his palms flat on the table in front of me and out of nowhere started to flip flop one of his hands in a crazed manner and then started laughing. I remember letting out a shocked scream and then a squeal because he had scared me. Of course, I started to laugh as well and he said “that’s crazy hand”.

To this day there are times when I`m being sad or bratty or unreachable and crazy hand makes a random appearance for the sake of centering my thoughts and bringing me back.

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The calm before the storm before the storm before the…

I`m taking a day off work today. Mostly I just don`t think I can focus on work related crap today with all the thoughts that are swirling in my head. There are days when I feel like I`m constantly under attack and it is my own thoughts that are doing the attacking.

My husband should have gotten off disciplinary yesterday and I`m glad, but hesitant. I`m always bracing myself for the next stipulation, the next problem, the next delay. It will be about a week or more before the phone service at the prison switches his status so he can call me once a week instead of once a month and I`m anxious. Anxious to hear from him, anxious to exhale momentarily …..finally. It seems I have been holding my breath the last 10 months and I am exhausted, burned out, missing my husband, and ready for a change.

It’s early still and I`ve been sitting in the quiet of the morning, drinking tea, and working on legal research for my husband. It is the calm before the day starts, before it is go time, before I fly off the rails into the unknown. I guess all I can do is wait and enjoy a moment of calm no matter how precarious everything seems.

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The prisoner vs. the person

Saturday night blogging/September 14th, 2013

My blog is titled wine. work. prison but I rarely talk about work or wine so let me sum it up before I proceed with this entry. I like wine. A lot. I didn`t really drink wine until I moved to Nevada and married Jeremy. It was a new adventure for me and a far departure from the Jack and Cokes I was used to drinking at the bar. Wine has gotten me through some hard times, but has also been a source of connection, fun, and learning. I should write more about that sometime. Work is a pain in the ass as I`m sure it is for a lot of people. I hate my job. I`m sure that is pretty normal. Wine helps me deal with work which in turn helps me deal with prison. There is the connection 🙂

My husband is almost off of disciplinary segregation and I got to talk to him today for 15 minutes. When I talk to him, I watch my phone, and I am aware of every single minute, trying to make them last as long as possible but the time still passes harshly and quickly. The 15 minutes is over before I know it and I`m left staring at my phone, trying to replay his last words, trying to somehow transport myself back 5 minutes. Just 5 minutes. That isn`t a lot to ask for, is it?

I`m drinking my tried and true mood booster, wine, and I`m watching Lockup: Raw on MSNBC tonight. I watch this show a lot. It allows me to feel closer to my husband in some sick and strange way and I actually enjoy it. Before Jeremy and I were serious I wanted to be a parole officer. I wanted to work with inmates. I wanted to be the change I wished to see in the world. Now that all that is gone and passed and everything has been turned upside down, I like to watch Lockup 🙂

In between drinking wine, and watching Lockup I was thinking about how I know Jeremy, how I see him as this wonderful person while the rest of the world views him as this horrible inmate, this monster, this drain on tax dollars.I`ve only ever known Jeremy the person. I may know his back number, I may go to a prison to visit him, but I don`t classify him as an inmate. I see Jeremy as my husband, this man who has my heart, this person who is away from home right now.

For a long time at the beginning of our friendship, I had no knowledge of Jeremy’s crime. I didn`t know what the newspapers said he had done, what he had said he had done, what I thought he had done. I didn`t want to know at first. It didn`t cross my mind. I was getting to know this person, this soul, this human being. Sometime later when I found out about his case, I didn`t flinch. I had a sadness deep inside myself, but it didn`t change my feelings. When you get to know someone, thinking they have a clean slate, your perception is different, your thoughts are different, your devotion  is different, even in the face of new information.

Jeremy had never been some weirdo trying to get me to send him money or dirty photos. He asked nothing of me, yet he gave me the world with his words and with his love.

I search his name online frequently, just to see what new article has popped up about him, seeing what past pen pal is now trying to sell his letters and it both frustrates me and makes me laugh. These people do not know a person, they know a name. They know only what their own mind allows them to think. To those people: I am sorry you do not have the pleasure of knowing someone so wonderful, so caring, and so unbelievably different than what has been printed about them in the media.

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Self help

If you’re not careful and you don`t take care of yourself in this situation, you can certainly find yourself spiraling down into a dark place. It can be lonely and a struggle in so many different ways. Having limited contact with Jeremy the last 9 months has dragged me through emotional ups and downs. Some days I can feel completely strong and able. Other days can be a real fight just to exist in a world where everything else is moving around you and you’re just standing still, being patient, forging a smile, and trying to survive the madness that comes along with the prison system.

The closer I get to having more contact with my husband, the faster the wheels in my head are spinning, the more desperately impatient I find myself. The days stretch out like months on the calendar and I mentally pace back and forth between my hopes and my fears. Why is that when you are so close to something happening, good or bad, the more intense life seems?  The less able you are to keep everything running smoothly? Things just start to fall apart, and when I say that , I mean you start to seriously doubt your sanity.

Coming into this marriage with my own emotional baggage and having to forcibly unpack it all in order to survive the life I live has been tough, but I think I’ve done pretty well at making it work, pushing my limits, and painstakingly growing as a person. I feel tested and tired. Jeremy will be off disciplinary soon and I will have seen him through that storm and I`ll continue to support his quest for justice as well as getting him back closer to me. I need to work on myself now that some of the pressure has been alleviated.

Since my husband will still be on limited contact with me until he moves closer, (we will get one phone call a week instead of one a month but really now?)I’m seriously considering going to therapy which is not easy to admit or do because I like to resolve my own issues. I just feel that having to be a one woman army this past year has sort of depleted some of my strength as a person. Mostly I just want to talk to someone who can give me the tools to cope with everything I`m feeling so I can give my best as a person and as a wife. I`m feeling off and I need to refocus in order to be in any way useful going forward.

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The development of fear

When I was little my father taught me to be aware of my surroundings at all times. This is one piece of advice that man has taught me that I have actually hung onto years after breaking ties with him. Be aware of your surroundings. When I was first dating Jeremy, making  10+ hour drives through the desert at night at a young age, he used to tell me that I should be more afraid, that every time I took that drive I risked something happening. He also told me I should be scared of prison, of prisoners, of Jeremy.

I believe in risk and reward. I believe that anything could happen at any time, and though I make some bold and unconventional moves in my life, I still keep a healthy dose of fear. Entering a maximum security prison at the age of 18 to visit a man I`d never met before shook me to my core, but if I had not done it, I would have never met the man who would become my husband. I would have never met my soul mate.

I`m driving out to Ely today which is roughly a 5 hour drive through highway 50 and my mom is worried, of course. She always worries. Talking to her this morning, I had to give her a pep talk about my healthy fear and how I`m aware, and I got this. There is a fine line between having the confidence to complete something and being totally unsure about what lies ahead. I walk that line with Jeremy on a daily basis. Fear is important. It keeps you grounded. I`m not saying you have to cower in the presence of it, but I believe that keeping the notion to expect the unexpected is what keeps us alive.

Here’s to fear.

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