Tag Archives: endurance

Sunday January 22nd, 2017

I’m not going to lie. I never imagined that being the wife of an inmate was going to be this hard. I used to watch shows about prison romances and I thought to myself “This is great! I get tons of time to myself and I get to be married to someone amazing who won’t steal the covers”. You see, before Jeremy I never wanted to marry. I didn’t. I told my mom I didn’t want to get married. I didn’t think it was in my cards to be with anyone for many reasons. Mostly because I thought I was too difficult, or too damaged, or too much. I needed someone who was everything I needed them to be without question and I knew I wasn’t going to find that, so I didn’t want anything.

Last night I was paging through this book I got on Palmistry(read: Palmistry. Not fortune telling, but an art that CAN tell about a person. Did I lose you? Am I nuts? I prefer open minded to life’s mysteries) and it explains that your non dominant hand(for me, my left) is the hand you look to see what was there at birth for you and your dominant hand is the hand of “now” and the path you’re on(there is a whole explanation of why, but you can read the book if you want to know). Anyway, my birth hand does not have a heart line. I compared my hands and just looked at them for a long time. No heart line. My “now” hand has a strong heart line and I believe wholeheartedly that it is because of Jeremy. We found each other by chance. By the chance of me being some strange teenage girl who wanted to write people in prison. By the chance that someone I talked to online told me Jeremy was a nice person and that I should write him. By the chance that I wrote that letter and I mailed it 17 years ago. By chance. Or by design?

Back to the present, though. The last few years have been difficult for me. I have felt more depressed, more lonely, and more lost than I ever have. Being in Nevada and away from my shore of home(I don’t know what home even is anymore. I guess it’s Jeremy but I still miss…somewhere)has taken a lot out of me. Sometimes it destroys my spirit to ashes and I am left with some form of myself that I don’t recognize. This all sounds dramatic, I know, but I’m a person who feels a lot, all the time, and I know my story and my relationship and the trials we go through are powerful beyond measure and I think it’s important to share that. Anyway. What rises from the ashes? The Phoenix. It sort of feels like that, all the time, and it is emotionally painful, and then I’m rising. Funny how that works. Life pushes us to the very brink and then backs off so we can repair. Or does it not back off and we just get so much stronger?

I keep thinking of this quote I read somewhere, “The greater the affliction, the greater the reward”. Now, that really sounds strange, doesn’t it? But…this quote. It gets me through sometimes because I have to believe in my cause and if I’m suffering, I have to believe that it is for a reason because I’m still here, still doing, still waking up and working my way to the end of the tunnel where the light is.

Which brings me to present life. I’m looking for a new place to live that has a bit more space and I went to see one yesterday and for some reason I just blurted out “I like this place. It feels safe and I want to feel safe because it’s just kitty and I. My husband is incarcerated”. I told the realtor that. This realtor I had only met once before, briefly, for about 5 minutes. I usually try to get a better read on people before I drop that bomb, but I dropped it right there in the kitchen of that rental.

There is always a moment, where I’m sure someone is going to verbally crucify me with their words or give me a look that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My mouth got super dry waiting for her to say something. I was so nervous. Her response? “I get it. It happens”. She proceeded to tell me a story about how someone she knows is in prison and that things happen sometimes and humans make mistakes and she is not judging me.

After the showing, on the walk out to the parking lot, she commended me for sticking by my husband and let me know how “cool, strong, and sweet” she thought I was. She offered a friendly ear if I ever wanted to talk and she said she had to hug me and she did.

While my life feels like an uphill climb somedays and I am absolutely battered emotionally by the missing parts of “us” right now, there always seems to be a little nudge, a little sign, a little voice that tells me “the greater the affliction, the greater the reward. Keep going, you’re almost there”.


Anniversary

Today is Day of the Dead. Today is also my four year anniversary. Four years ago I was absolutely out of my mind nervous at my impending marriage “ceremony”. I had only moved to Reno a few months before and I dove right into marrying Jeremy like my life depended on it. If I had to do it over I wouldn`t change a thing. I would marry him again and again, despite the ups and downs of the last four years. Time has both flown and stood still amidst the madness, love, heartache, laughter, and challenges that our marriage has endured.

I`m not sure if I`ll get to talk to my husband or not today, as the phone situation is precarious at best. He has been off of disciplinary for over a month and the one call a month to one call a week status has just been set into motion. I know that on this day I will think of him, though, and remember how brief and packed full of nerves our little exchange of vows was back in 2009. He was so nervous he was sweaty and could barely look at me. That was endearing and amusing to me as I made light of his profuse perspiration. I was all nerves but like a duck as usual, calm on the surface but kicking underneath. The way they had it set up, I got to visit with my husband after like a normal visiting day. The only thing that was different was that we both had rings.

I would like to personally thank my friends and family for being so supportive. No one in my inner most circle has ever thought my marrying Jeremy in prison was silly or otherwise a bad idea. When I told them, they were just happy for me. We didn`t have any family at the ceremony, at my request, but I hope that one day we can get married proper in front of all of the people who have supported our love.

Happy Anniversary, mi amor.

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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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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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