Tag Archives: my love

Holidays 2017

It always seems strange to me that I`m able to properly mourn any holiday without my husband because we haven’t really celebrated many holidays together, much less in the proper sense of traditional family gatherings. It really stuns me sometimes. I have never been in the presence of my husband, who I`ve been married to for over 8 years now, outside of prison walls. We have never gone shopping for gifts together, he has never seen me after one too many glasses of wine, we have never kissed under a stupid mistletoe. We have built an entire world together, over the last 15 + years, that has consisted of so much “making it work” and accepting the fact that we are two of the closest people, who just so happen to be separated by prison walls and a life sentence. It stuns me and it also renders me fragile when I think too much about it.

Displaying weakness is not strength of mine. Is that an oxymoron of a sentence or what? Speaking the hurt is not easy for me to do with those I`m closest to. I`m getting better at it, but sometimes it’s hard for me to put words to feelings that are tough. It’s hard to say “Hey I`m hurting. This marriage is awesome and I want to be happy, but I am very sad right now.” I think the holidays make loving someone in prison extra hard. You look around at all the holiday spirit and you want some of it, but there are big pieces missing. Pieces that are so big, so integral, that it seems almost impossible to really feel any type of genuine joy. I know that I find myself digging deep for holiday spirit and failing miserably at times.

That last paragraph was so  honest that now I feel uncomfortable, exposed, as if that were any more possible on this blog where I’ve laid myself bare. Like I said, it’s hard to talk about hurt at its core, about imagining what life would be like if Jeremy and I were able to be together and also imagining a life where we never knew each other or even a life where we parted ways. Speaking hurt, speaking the hard stuff doesn’t feel in the spirit of the season, but it is a truth that exists in my life and one that I am unable to sweep under the rug for another day, especially not at a time when our hearts as humans are enveloped in moments of….being together.

I have a relatively new friend who found me through social media and reads my blog (Hi!) and is also involved with someone in prison. We talk about the ridiculous prison stuff that makes us laugh, but we also talk about the stuff that hurts, the stuff that people shy away from and I am grateful for her conversation. She reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. We are very similar and although I`m not much older than her, I feel like she is a younger sister, a younger me and I want to shield her from maybe writing any of the tough blog entries I’ve written over the years. I also want to hug her and I want to thank her because her fresh friendship has made me feel hopeful again. It has made me feel young love vicariously and reminds me of when Jeremy and I first met.

I literally almost cried as I wrote that last sentence. The holidays will mess you up just as much as love will and together…they are the downfall of my emotional stability. So, the tough stuff. Sometimes you have to write it, speak it, embrace it, face it, and make peace with it. Hi my name is Desiree and I`m married to someone who lives in a prison and holidays are difficult and I am sad and this sucks and I want cookies.

I got an ad in my email box from eHarmony this morning and it made me laugh for some reason. “Don`t you want to spend the holidays with someone special?” Yes, eHarmony, I do.  I would also like eHarmony to fuck off.

I told Jeremy about the email and he asked me if I thought that if we both did the questionnaire if we would be matched together. He said he thought we would be. I`m sure, but who knows. ​I don`t know why life happens the way it does or why we gravitate towards the people we do, but I do know that putting words to the shitty feelings and the sadness allows a greater appreciation for the good stuff, even if it is muddled by the pain. Holiday lights still sparkle even when they are dim right?

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Visiting vicissitudes

Having the ability to put on a mask when things are bothering you is a gift. Or is it a curse? Or is it both? All I know is that my gift of sublimation has somehow melted into a puddle of retreat and inability to cope externally. The pause on life is definitely on right now.

Prison will do that to you, and me, and many people. Sometimes you just stop caring and sublimating and having your proverbial shit together and you just ..hide. Only it isn’t really hiding so much as it is self preservation and recharging and just being. Also, eating chips and reading, but those activities are a given when you decide to hermit. If they aren’t for you, you’re  hermiting wrong.
That’s where I have been, inside my head and inside the comfort of my little domicile, where it’s ok to not want to see or talk to anyone, where it’s ok to breathe in the biggest, deepest, most exhausting breath and let out a blood curdling scream into a pillow. My cat doesn’t care. She is used to my moments of insanity dubbed as an “awakening”. So, me in my little bubble of avoiding the outside world and the heat and any plans, but then comes visiting. I want to go and I don’t want to go. I go. I always go. I’m always happy I go but also not so secretly despise my time at the prison.
While waiting to enter the prison for visiting last week, I think my layered exterior, that I spent nearly 15 years building, started to crumble a bit, or peel. It was peeling, like old wall paint and what lies beneath is starting to come to the surface, visible to the naked eye. Or ….was it less crumble and peel and more I don’t give a damn anymore about being contained? You can decide.
Being out in the morning Summer Las Vegas heat while waiting in a line full of people to get into another line to be physically searched to get into a prison visiting room will do things to a person. 1. The first part will make you sweat. It is God awful hot in the Summer here and I loathe it with all that I am. I have always hated the heat, just ask my mom. 2. You will be irate, or at least I will be because sometimes the excitement of visiting is no match for the utter pain it is to get into visit sometimes. I grit my teeth, literally, and sometimes go into a meditative trance to separate my mind from my body.
Sometimes while waiting in line, I see these young girls, full of hope about seeing their man and I think about how if they stay, that feeling won’t last forever. Not that they will stop loving their inmate or that they will stop being excited to some degree, but this shit sucks and it’s hard and to do it for years and years wears you down. It’s nice to see the beginning, though, the naivete that maybe I had once when I first started to visit Jeremy shortly after my 18th birthday. I watch these girls with curiosity and misplaced jealousy because I want to be excited too. I want to exist in a place of hope, but the honeymoon of anything new does not last forever and I want to take these girls by the shoulders and shake them. I want to shake them and hug them and tell them to run. It’s human to feel conflicting emotions and to want to act in conflicting ways and prison shines a light on those human pushes and pulls.
Anyway, it must have been the heat and the unsuspecting future struggle I was seeing all around me, but I found myself talking to some of the regular women I usually pass the time chatting with and I just blurted out “I’m sick of this shit!”. My ridiculous outburst was met with laughter and head nods rooted in understanding and the dreaded question, “How long does he have left?”. I respond with “I don’t know” because I am too tired and surprised by my own blatant proclamation to craft a good answer. But it’s true, I don’t know. For some reason I add that I’ve been doing this for nearly 15 years, the visiting thing, and I feel heads whip around and eyes are on me. One lady looks at me like I’m some sort of freak(and maybe I am) or maybe she is surprised because I look relatively young still(this is me trying to make myself feel better). One lady just says “Wow” and another “What!”, not really a question but an exclamation of disbelief.
It dies down quickly as we move ahead in the line, but internally I’m reeling from what just happened and I start to panic(this is what happens when you have anxiety). The rest of my visit feels weird and off. I’m agitated and luckily I’m married to someone who knows when to press me for answers, but not too hard. Jeremy knows this situation is tough and we strategize to navigate the choppy waters together. I tell him about my outburst and he laughs because while he is sympathetic to my discomfort and suffering, he knows that laughing makes my heavy heart light again and his laugh invariably makes me smile. I am grateful for this and that he lets me spin out in my head while I stare off into space and he eats a bag of Doritos. During the spacing out and chip eating mini marathon, we keep one hand free to hold onto the other, an anchor of a sort in a situation that can sweep you under and away at any given moment. Sometimes land is too fucking far away and you need to learn how to swim in the waters you are in. Holding hands means we are together, we are swimming with one another.
I was doing a health assessment for my insurance recently and it is divided into sections about your history, diet, exercise, preventative health, and emotional health. I scored not so well on my emotional health section(because I was honest when checking those stupid little bubbles) and at the end it said next to my emotional health section, “needs work” with a sad face and a cloud over it. I literally burst out laughing at this ridiculous “measure” and scoring system. How do you measure the emotional health of someone whose spouse lives in a prison and all the work and baggage and madness that comes with that? I want to write to the evaluation people and ask them to include a section that will not paint my emotional health as “needs work”, but rather “Hey, kid, you’re doing the best you can. Hang on and hang in there”.

Post media reflection

There have definitely been moments lately, where I`ve paused and thought to myself “Where is my place in this mess?” These thoughts have flooded my head daily, especially after the articles in the Las Vegas Review Journal came out. I’ve spent my time, half maintaining a “normal” schedule, and the other half lost in thought over what is going to happen next, sometimes holding my breath without meaning to.

After the articles came out, I avoided the loose lipped comment section of Facebook for self-preservation. Some of my friends looked at the comments after the newspaper repeatedly posted the story with catchy, sensationalized headlines, hoping to appeal to folks with pitchforks in hand. My friends let me know to avoid the comment section if I could and I did.  I did however happen to see a comment on the actual newspaper’s website, where one reader asked “What SANE woman would marry a murderer?” or something to that effect. I reflected on my own state of mind, my life, what brought me here, my marriage, where I was when all of this happened with Jeremy, my moral radar, and my own personal truth.

I`m not sure that insane psychopaths really take the time out to their days to reflect on life and morality, so I don`t know that I am insane at all, but maybe just a person who believes in the power of the human spirit, second chances, and a person who believes that not everything as is it seems? Question mark intended because I pose the question to myself and anyone really.

I received no “hate mail” after the articles came out. Jeremy has received one piece of direct hate mail (which you can read about on his blog) and oddly enough, his mother received a nasty message on Facebook. I`m not sure what  the purpose of lashing out at one’s mother is, but I guess this person felt it necessary to feel like he or she did their duty by lashing out at someone related to Jeremy. We all want someone, anyone to blame and point the finger at. It’s easy to blame someone and think to ourselves “I’ve spoken my ‘peace’ and did my part”. Oftentimes our “peace” speaking and lashing out is misdirected, but outrage, pain and a need to do something have a way of making people blind to the misdirection of their actions.

I have actually received way more positive encouragement after the articles than I expected. Jeremy and I both wrote blog posts about our thoughts on the articles and I noticed a flood of activity on our blogs and have received messages from friends and strangers alike. Anytime I open a Facebook message from someone I don`t know, I hesitate for a moment and brace myself for what it is going to say but…it has turned out being like waiting for a bomb to go off and nothing happening. While I had received some awful blog comments in the past, the aftermath of the newspaper articles and follow-up blog posts on our end about it, has been surprisingly favorable.

My friends have been incredibly encouraging, taking the time to read mine and Jeremy’s blog posts and provide feedback or open a platform to discuss the posts from an open minded and understanding place. I’ve even had a couple of them ask if they could visit with Jeremy in the future.  So, thank you friends. On the unexpected front, I have had people I do not know reading my blog and some of those people have reached out to me personally on Facebook with their own stories of tragedy and ties to the prison system, their own understanding, and their own thoughts on life and redemption. I am grateful for these people who think before they speak, who make space for a story other than what is portrayed in the media, and who are genuinely people who recognize pain and loss but who also have an open heart.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve found myself questioning my place in this situation, questioning my place as Jeremy’s wife and sometimes worldly representative to those who do not know him. Sometimes I even think to myself, “What right do I have to be here, to talk about Jeremy and prison and the case?” I entered stage right later in Jeremy’s story, when he was already in prison. I used to think it was by chance, but more and more I`m starting to believe that it was just meant to be part of my journey and that we are two people who came together to build something worthwhile after a terrible event. Even though we have known each other for almost 17 years, I still question my sense of belonging and my right to belong in this story.

So, where is my place? Do I belong here? I read this quote by one of my favorite authors, Brene Brown, today and the timing was almost eerie as I write this blog post.

“No one belongs here more than you” – Brene Brown

 


I`m only one call away..

I like that song. You know that song, right? “I`m only one call away, I`ll be there to save the day”. Yeah, yeah. Cheesy, but goody. My song would be “I`m only one prepaid call away”, or “I`m only one collect call away”, or “I`m only one call, that has a 30 minute limit, away”.  Or….no call away because of a lock down because prisoners in GP cannot stop stabbing each other. “It’s how they show each other love” Jeremy says and then laughs.

“Do you know what I want to tell you every time we have to say goodbye?” I asked him.. . . .

“I want to tell you not to go. I want to tell you to please not leave me”.  That was difficult for me to say to him. It almost felt too raw and too hokey for me. I have difficulty with emotional exposure, believe it or not. Give me a blog and I will bleed my heart, but I feel even more center stage and nervous when I have to expose myself to my husband over the phone line. Funny how that works. It’s true, though, that the older you get, the more chances you take. Life chances, emotional chances. You say “Fuck it. I`m all in. I LOVE YOU and this hurts and I`m here”.  I`m here, across the telephone wires, and my voice is carries over the air to you and I hope you call me back even though it’s time to lockdown for the night. The feeling that comes to mind is helpless.

Anyway. Not leaving. Not hanging up. Staying with me. I know that isn`t a reality right now. I know that after we get that 1 minute warning, that it is only a matter of seconds counting down that we have to wrap the phone call up and I`m usually not ready, I have more to say, so many things, things left unsaid. So frustrating. Even if the phone call starts off normal enough, somehow we tumble through becoming infatuated with each other all over again and I want him to stay with me. *click. disconnect*

Sometimes he can call back, but when he can’t and I know he can’t, I stay on the line until it disconnects and I keep the phone up to my ear sometimes, waiting for his voice to return. It doesn’t return and it doesn’t matter how many years I’ve been doing this or how many phone calls have ended and started, my heart is still lost when we have to say goodbye. More silly hokey love stuff. You can vomit. Unless you’ve been in this situation and you have the guts to really lay it all out on the line, the vomiting doesn’t bother me. I hope, if anything, that my exposure is embraced and that someone doesn’t feel so alone or stupid or ridiculous because of me.

Anyway again. For a while there, we stopped saying goodbye, and instead said “Later” or “I`ll be right back”, but then we started to say goodbye again. It’s weird how cycles start and stop and start again. It’s weird how some prisons have 15 minute phone calls once a month and some have 30 minute phone calls that are limited only be tier time and how many people want to make calls.

The phone calls, though. They become my lifeline to my best friend. They become a stand in for every moment that we miss out on together. They become the light in the dark, my shoulder to cry on, my coffee with a friend when times are tough. I spend my days on the phone as part of my job and I absolutely hate it. I loathe talking on the phone usually to anyone. I have a weird phone phobia that I’ve had to overcome to communicate with Jeremy the way I do over those recorded calls, exposing myself completely, unapologetically.

He said he’s out on the tier tonight and he’s calling and I’ve already lined up all the things I want to tell him and ask him and I hope he can call back so we can talk for an entire hour because today is one of those days and an hour is so short, but I need every second of it to bridge that time between when we hang up and the next time he calls.

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I`m your huckleberry

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.

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I love you and I hate prison

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.
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A wasted life…?

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.

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