Before Jeremy and I married, and we were simply two crazy kids in love, someone made a comment that Jeremy was my “pseudo boyfriend” and at first this angered me and then it just made me laugh. It was someone who hardly knew me at all and definitely didn`t know the situation. I`m sure it is hard for people to imagine how a relationship and romance can be forged through letters initially and then later sparse phone calls and visits, but it is possible. I threw away the idea of a “normal” courtship and progression of a relationship long ago and have really carved myself out a comfortable corner in which I have blossomed with my then pseudo boyfriend, and now I guess, my now pseudo husband 🙂
Yes, I promise, that my marriage is real. It is very real, with struggles, but luckily none of those struggles are with one another. When people cannot fathom that my marriage is any more real than their next door neighbors, I no longer feel offended, mostly because I know that despite the prison madness in my life, that my marriage is much better than a lot of outside, “real” relationships.
I’ve just started therapy to work on some personal issues and I realized just how interwoven my husband is in my life. I spent a large time talking about my husband, the love we have cultivated from years worth of letters, phone calls, and visiting days. The therapist asked me what about Jeremy made him my person, why he is “my guy”, as she put it. I felt like I could cry when she asked that because it was right at that moment that I felt the waves of my love for my husband wash over me and I felt renewed. I told her that his love is the only real thing I’ve ever known, that he never puts his happiness above my own, and that although it may sound hokey, that he is truly my soul mate. So, despite what people may think, there is nothing pseudo about my relationship with my husband. It is the most genuine connection I have ever known.
Being married to an inmate comes with a special set of challenges as far as getting outsiders to understand. There are some that give me “the look” as soon as I mention Jeremy is in prison and this look is both hurtful and annoying to me. For one, I`ve decided to let someone in on a little bit more of my life, hoping they will understand, that they will at least welcome me with open arms and let me tell my story and they should feel lucky. There have been people who, initially, will look at me like I`m a crazy person, like I obviously cannot function normally. How dare I marry an inmate? How dare I? Don`t I know what inmates are made up of? Everything disgusting and vile. It’s funny what a single look can tell you, but some of these people have come around, getting to know my husband through me and have come to ask about him regularly, and even like him. Those people had a 50/50 chance of staying in my life and to those who have stayed, who have endured, who have laughed and cried with me: I thank you for putting aside your judgement and really giving me and my love a chance to find a positive place in your hearts and thoughts.
Not everything goes over smoothly, though, and there will always be people who just cannot accept my marriage, my life, my love. Who irritates me most is the people who have no idea, who judge from afar, from their perfect little lives, and decide that I am wrong. They do a little research, decided everything they’ve read is enough to shut me out of their lives, to trust in some “truth” at first glance, and to ultimately condemn me for standing by someone who is so very much like anyone else walking the streets should they ever get to know him. I`m not going to lie: this type of blind judgement infuriates me and breaks my heart. I am forever grateful to the people who asked about my husband, who messaged me saying they were “shocked” or that they wanted to know more, instead of just wiping me out of their lives without having any idea of what I’m about, what my life is about. Good riddance? Indeed.
I started replying to my husband’s weekly letters tonight, as I usually do when the week is over and I have time to sit down and really immerse myself in his letters, and I started thinking about myself as a free citizen, and how grateful I am. At the same time as feeling grateful, I am feeling sad. Sad because of the ridiculous restrictions my husband currently has placed on him. Parts of his letters pain me to read and those parts are mostly the parts where he casually mentions how hard he is trying, on a daily basis, just to get the phone to call me, how he finally got to order peanut butter&jelly and how amazing it was, and how he feels disconnected from the world and not by lack of his trying, but because when you’re out of sight you really are out of mind to some people.
Tonight I am feeling a strange and intense sense of love for my husband but also anger over the situation. I`m feeling glad that it is the weekend but so tired over the efforts we have put forth just to keep afloat these last 20 months. I am both thankful for my marriage, yet frustrated at the never ending obstacles put before us, that no one seems to really take seriously or understand. I am free yet restricted and all I want to do is to give my husband an unlimited supply of peanut butter&jelly in all different flavors.