Did you ever see that movie? Tombstone. It’s one of my favorite movies and Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday is my undoing in life. Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday as some fantastic gun slinging, fearless gambler. I often think about the masks we wear, the names we give others, and the names others give us. Are you someone’s huckleberry and are they yours? Is that all a lie? Did you tell yourself you were something you’re not or does the world not see you for who you really are?
If you’ve ever had a connection with prison culture, you know that nicknames and “handles” run wild and everyone has a name that tells a story….whether that story is the truth or a lie or doesn’t make any sense. I used to laugh when my husband would refer to someone by their handle, but now I just ask “What’s his real name?” and it’s usually an unexpectedly normal name, unassuming in the way the letters weave together.
Do you know how many Pee-wees I’ve heard of since I met Jeremy? Dozens. Ghost (a guy that sounded like Mickey Mouse). Shorty (multiple; sometimes not because of their height). City (Soft spoken and had a cool way about him).*Insert city where the person is from here*. Jeremy used to know this guy named Boston a long time ago. You guessed it. He was from Boston. Sometimes it’s their middle names they prefer, or their last names. When I hear an actual first name straight away, I ask “but what’s his nickname?”. Sometimes the nickname is all I know and I become confused when someone is referred to by their actual name. “Oh, that’s Ghost. You know him.” Yeah…I do know him. Or does anyone really? I never did find out why that was his nickname. Usually a story follows the reveal of someone’s handle, but not Ghost. Maybe Jeremy didn`t know either. Who knows.
Smiley is the guy I’ve never seen smile. “That’s Restless” my husband says. “Wrestle? What? What does that mean” I ask. “No, restless. You know, like you’re restless..”. Interesting. Shaky. No idea why. He doesn’t shake. It makes me think of Shakey’s Pizza. Did you ever go to Shakey’s Pizza? Yeah. Anyway, Shaky. Shakey? Shakee? I don`t know.
“What’s your nickname here?” I ask my husband. He hasn’t really had a solid one over the years and he is definitely no Pee-wee or Shaky or Smiley or any other misplaced prison nickname. “Doc”. I want to laugh and I think I actually did. He knows I love Tombstone and he knows I am his huckleberry and he is mine.
Every nickname has a story.
This is a statement I make so often that it almost comes out automatically, thoughtlessly, sometimes even as a filler in conversations during difficult times.
“I know, baby. I know”. He says this every time, but not automatically or thoughtlessly or as a filler. He just knows and then he is quiet, thinking of the next string of words to step on, hoping they aren’t a land mine. Sometimes success, sometimes a lost foot. You can’t argue with facts, but you can chock life up to something more.
“I love you and I hate prison”. Not BUT I hate prison; AND I hate prison. I don’t know why I choose to say it that way. Maybe because I don’t like to say I love someone but, because but means conditional and I hate conditions. Too much of my life is spent in a conditional state, under conditions.
Quite often I wonder how we got here to this loving the human but hating the prison place. Not you, the reader, and I, but Jeremy and I. I’m a poser of questions there are no easy answers to, but I ask them anyway. Somehow the you in “I love you and I hate prison” always has the answers for me. What’s my favorite answer to my question about why we came to be? Why did we come down this path? Why did the pieces arrange this way and why have we clung to each other for dear life all these years?
That fate exists. That sometimes souls come together because they were meant to be and not randomly. Is this a designed path? Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? I don’t know, Freddie Mercury. Prison feels a bit like both sometimes.
“Whhhyyyyyyyyy???” I ask and whine or I ask and then laugh and then whine.
“I have loved you since before you were born. I have always loved you.” He says.
How can you argue with that?
Prison or not.
Definitely with a question mark at the end.
How we spend our time and who and what we devote our time, energy, and love to is solely up to us. Only we knew who pulls our heart strings and why. Only WE, ourselves, truly know the depth in which we swim in our own sacrifice and the reasons we do. The point is: we get to choose and I’ve chosen Jeremy. I haven’t chosen the prison or the, at times, stifling reality, but I’ve chosen another person and that’s MY choice. Even in moments of absolute despair, I can say that I chose and this is my life.
It’s actually quite rare that I get “hate” letters(I hesitate to put the word hate here, but maybe confusion? Ignorance?) and it’s almost never from random strangers on the Internet but instead it’s been people I know, who are breaking away because they don’t understand my life and don’t want to or it’s people who don’t know me and think they do. These people think because we’ve interacted a few times, that they now have an up close, front row seat to my life and should definitely let me know what they think about me and my commitment to my husband. So, they must know best, right? Yeah. Right.
I received a message last week in my Facebook “others” box that was less than friendly and it made me laugh and shake my head before finally deleting it but….it stained me underneath the surface. It did, and I didn’t even read it all. I zeroed in on the part about Jeremy being a monster and not a man and then on the part where this person called me an idiot, pathetic, and let me me know that I’m wasting my life, my time, and my energy. I’m sure the rest of this very long rant was more of the same, but I got the gist of it from the few lines I read.
I could say that any person I know, or don`t know, is wasting their life on their priorities. I could say that what others choose to spend time on is meaningless, hopeless, silly, and idiotic, but I don`t because it isn`t my choice. If loving someone is a waste of time, then I guess that is exactly what I`m doing on my journey. I`m wasting all of the time, but the time will pass anyways, so waste or not, I get to choose.
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.
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.
Today is a weird day. It started with anger, tumbled through confusion, and has evolved into a good, long cry that I desperately needed. I rarely allow myself the extremely cathartic experience of crying for so many reasons. If I let go of the control I have over my emotions, I don`t know if I`ll ever be able to get them contained again. So much of my time is spent dealing with this heaviness in my chest, this wound that I continue to scratch, that my life with Jeremy continues to scratch. Every time I think things are going well, somehow there is another obstacle put in our way.
I had a tattoo appointment today and I let every bone in my body relax as I drifted somewhere far, far away in my head as the needle took on the burden of a small portion of the craziness I`m feeling. I needed that time for myself. I needed that alternate form of pain for my sanity. Getting tattooed has been a process I`ve clung to since I`ve moved out here to be with Jeremy, and it has been especially helpful in managing the distress I`ve been in since losing most of my contact with my husband 7 months ago. There is allowing the pain to wash over my skin, the soothing ache afterwards, and the healing. It is the physical manifestation of the emotional scab in my life, that is constantly ripped off, and it allows me to put everything back in its place again. Then the cycle starts again.
Today I watched an episode of Locked up Abroad about a woman who got caught smuggling drugs out of Thailand. She spent 9 years in a Thai jail and did not speak to the man she loved for those 9 years, but constantly thought of him. She was embarrassed to write him because he had warned her beforehand not to go through with the smuggling. So, when she got back to the states she called him and they talked through the night, he flew from the East coast to the West to be with her, and now they are married. That episode allowed me put a band-aid on my own open wound for now and reminds me that there is hope.