Tag Archives: intimacy

Sex and Sunshine

I used to talk to this woman at Lovelock Correctional Center who stood by her man for 20 years. Anytime I saw her at visiting I had a feeling of friendship and calm wash over me because she was very easy to talk to and sort of took me under her wing when I first started to visit Jeremy regularly at that prison. I saw her not too long before her man was released, which was also just before I married Jeremy. I remember when I told her that I was going to marry Jeremy,  she just enveloped me in her arms for the biggest hug ever. If there is ever a time when I needed comfort, it was before I made that life leap. Our ships passed briefly in the proverbial night, but I liked her a great deal. I always asked myself if that was going to be me someday, a thought that both interests me and terrifies me. She was dedicated to her husband for 20 years of incarceration and I used to wonder how she did it, what her private life was like, if she thought a lot about sex and walking in the sunshine with her husband.

It has been almost 8 years since I hugged this woman goodbye, a stranger goodbye, a sad and happy goodbye, a “farewell, I will never see you again but thank you for your time in my life” goodbye. More than likely, when you part from someone to meet you prison, you know you’ll never seen them again. It’s part of the landscape of prison relationships.

All these memories and repressed excitement that makes my heart beat, came to the surface after listening to the latest episode of Ear Hustle, a podcast from inside San Quentin state prison in California, that I’ve started to listen to and enjoy. I find myself laughing and nodding my head while I listen and I realize just how familiar prison feels to me, how much I know, and how common the themes are, no matter where your person is incarcerated. This particular episode was about couples, sex, family visits, connecting on an intimate level, and the general struggle of being in a romantic relationship, or shall I say maintaining a romantic relationship, while one member happens to be behind the barbed wire. It ain’t easy, that’s for sure, and you can quote me on that.

When I think about my marriage to Jeremy, how we met after he was already in prison, how there are no “family visits”(also referred to as conjugal visits) in the state of Nevada, and how we have never even held hands in the sun….well, I start to think about just how different my marriage really is. Sometimes Jeremy and I literally look at each other, fully aware of the bizarre life we have built, and we laugh. Yet it all seems so “normal” because if you do anything for an extended length of time, it inevitably seems commonplace, no matter how unconventional it might be. Been married almost 8 years and never had sex with each other or been outside together? Totally normal.

Only a very small number of states allow conjugal visits and usually if you have a life without parole sentence, those visits are even less likely. So, the chances of me getting alone time with my husband is pretty much nonexistent. I never had to really come to terms with that fact, it just is. It does “help” that we never were together in the “free” world, but I’ve just accepted that prison infringes on anything private. Even though I am free citizen, I am also a prisoner right along with Jeremy when it comes to our time together. I have little control over my own skin to skin contact with my life partner. I have made adjustments to my life plans when it comes to intimacy, have had to redefine the term and my expectations. I have officially ruled out having children as something that I would want for myself at this point, and have settled with the idea, that for now, I can be outside and Jeremy can be outside, but we cannot be outside together. “You have to see my new hair color in the sun” I tell him, but I know that isn’t possible.

I used to get frustrated when people would casually ask “So WHEN do you get to have sex with Jeremy?” Over the years, I’ve learned that people on the outside just don’t really understand how the prison system works, the restrictions that are imposed, and just how difficult the rules make it to even see each other sometimes, let alone maintain any type of “sex life” beyond creative writing and an exchange of words over a monitored and recorded call.  You have to throw a bit of your inhibition away and if you have anxiety like me, you have to throw all of your inhibition away and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

So, as a 32 year old woman, I have to dig deep and modify where I can because at this point I’m not interested in extracurricular activities (my silly reference to extramarital affairs). In this life, there just comes a point, one that I’ve been at for a while, that you stare down the prison bullshit and then turn to your partner and say “Okay! I love you and I’m in it for the long haul and this sucks but let’s make this shit work”. The application for “friends with benefits” has long been torn up and thrown into the air like correctional confetti.

Side boyfriends and accepting ones fate aside… I have seen and heard a lot of funny stories about women visiting their men and trying to “release”. Well, it’s hard to release when you are constantly being watched like some freak show, the guard’s personal prison porn.  The thought of a voyeuristic intrusion doesn’t seem to faze some people, though, and I have on more than one occasion tried to ignore quick face sucking, momentary grinding, and the end of a kinky sex fantasy in the visiting room. My ears pick up every other word and I find myself trying to block out and listen at the same time. You gotta do what you gotta do, I guess. No judgement.

Note: If you ever do end up in the visiting room at Ely State Prison, choose your chair wisely and stay away from any weird stains. No, I`m not joking.

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Intimacy and Infidelity

This entry is going to be exactly what you might think it is about. If you’re easily offended by anything sexual or the mere mention of infidelity, then this post is probably not for you. If you’re curious as to what my life is like in these departments, read on and may the force be with you.

It’s interesting being a prisoner’s wife because in other relationships I`ve had, with people on the outside, I have never had people so blatantly curious about my sex life, or lack thereof. One of the first questions people ask me when they find out that Jeremy is in prison is “So when do you have sex?”. Just like that. I`m sure, in the beginning, I had an awkward look on my face while I struggled to come up with an answer. “I don`t”,  has always been my response, followed by some not so nervous laughter. “So you DON’T have sex?!” *utter shock*. “Nope no sex”. This exchange of information is typically followed by some silence, as I can see the wheels in the person’s head spinning, and spinning fast.

This is my reality and it isn`t as depriving as people might think. When people learn about my situation, I think that they assume I`m out and about propositioning men for “a good time”, which makes me laugh. My own doctor, upon learning about my marriage to Jeremy, asked me if I was sleeping with other people. She even said, and I quote, “When the cat is away the mice will play”. Pretty funny, actually. No. The truth of the matter is that I haven’t had sex since before Jeremy and I were married and I was dating someone else on and off while Jeremy was trying to get me back. So it has been a minute, and though the circumstances are not the best they could be, I would take real love and verbal intimacy over a less than satisfactory relationship, where I could have lots of empty sex, any day. What about a non emotional fling? Not my cup of tea. Read on.

So what’s a girl to do? Obviously I`m not dead. I`m 28 years old and these are supposed to be my “wild years”. *snort* “Wild years” aside, I make this marriage work with my husband in all areas and I tell him all the time that any type of  sexual encounter with him is far, far better than anything I could potentially have on the outside with someone I wasn’t emotionally invested in. I actually just blushed a little while writing that because I normally confide in only a few of my close friends about this sort of stuff but here we are. I`m not going to claim to want to talk about my life and exclude portions of it.

I have become a pretty skilled dirty letter writer, and my husband’s letters to me are positively mind blowing because of his desire to make me happy. This exchange of words and emotions may seem lacking to some, but I understand the limits of my relationship right now and wholeheartedly look forward to each and every letter.  Also, before all this conspiracy silliness that is currently taking place, we would talk regularly on the phone, and I`m sure you can guess what some of our conversations about. “Phone sex”. I`m laughing now because this is sort of awkward to talk about. Okay, okay. So, any prison wife or girlfriend will be familiar with the term “phone sex” and the importance of it in the relationship. My husband’s words sustain me and for that I am grateful. This does bring me to my next part, though, which I`m hesitant to talk about because I really do feel like I`m laying myself out in the middle of the street naked.

Infidelity. How do I handle temptation in this situation?

I typically avoid temptation all together, although admittedly, most men don`t do much for me because they simply cannot compare to my husband. I have had men show interest in me, but they are shut down quickly with “I`m very married and happy”. I have had men still pursue me after they learn that Jeremy is in prison and that is the point where I have to put my bitch face on and make them understand that I`m not interested. Fun times. Just because my husband is in prison doesn’t mean I`m desperate. Take note, people.

I don`t have a problem with scoping men out, admiring their good looks and charms, but I usually don`t let any of that get the best of me. I know what I have and I love Jeremy.  I want to preface this next part with: Jeremy and I talk about everything and I would never go behind his back to do anything.

What happens if you find yourself having a “feelings affair” with someone?

Uh oh. Here is where it gets tricky because feelings can lead to so many things that I`ve personally experienced while being married. I think my saving grace in the situation, I found myself not too long ago in, was that this person was also married and that prevented a whole other mess that would have been tough to sort through. Now, I`m sure some people will be thinking that I`m a bad person for two reasons: 1. Being married and having thoughts of straying and 2. Having thoughts of straying with someone who is also involved in a marriage themselves. That’s okay. You may think that because I`m pretty sure you aren’t perfect either. I actually never had any thoughts of leaving Jeremy and I`m really quite glad that I had the experience I did because it definitely taught me a couple of valuable lessons. It taught me that it is definitely important to, not only value your marriage, but value yourself. I definitely exercised my right as free person to say “no” when I felt like things were no longer what I wanted, and that is such an empowering feeling. To know that you have set down boundaries that show yourself some respect, especially in such a crazy situation, feels amazing. Your body and mind and heart are all on different pages; Getting them all to work together can be hard work.  This person and I have parted ways and I`m almost completely over it and I feel stronger than I did before.  The end of that chapter of my life wasn’t without a certain amount of hurt feelings and nights of over thinking, but in the end I really did what was best for myself and for that I am proud.

I didn`t ever feel I was in a slump with my marriage, but I felt like I was lacking the physical aspect that we associate with being in a relationship with someone and I wanted to capture  some of that and hold on until it faded away. Well, it has faded, and I am back to the place I was before I created a momentary mess for myself, but I`m happy knowing that I really do love and respect  my husband and never want to be without him. I am committed despite my lapses in judgment. I believe that is called being human.  My situation is tougher now than it was before my extramarital involvement but I`ve got thicker skin and feel confident in handling anything with Jeremy by my side. I don`t mean that my marriage is on the rocks or anything like that because Jeremy and I are two of the closest people in the world. I mean the physical separation is worse than it was before. It never gets easier, we  just get stronger 🙂

When I prefaced that last section with “Jeremy and I talk about everything”, I really mean that. We talked about my involvement with someone else, we weighed the pros and cons together, we assessed the damage and feelings afterwards, and he genuinely gave me advice, first and foremost, as my best friend. I pretty much have the most amazing man ever.

Writing that was so liberating without feeling like I exposed myself too much. It is my truth and I embrace it.Image