Tag Archives: thoughts


About a week and a half ago, I was on Facebook and I commented on a post by Damien Echols, a former death row inmate. Damien’s post was about something to do with freedom and the anxiety of being on the outside after so many years in prison. Anyway, I follow him because I like his photography and his posts are mainly about the joy of living on the outside and the hope that comes with being in the world after all that he has been through.

So, this post was one of a few I had randomly commented on. I usually don`t comment on “page posts” because, well, I just don`t, but every once in a while I like to express a thought I have about something or a feeling that I can identify with or even a hope that I share. I believe my comment was about my hope for Jeremy’s eventual freedom and how his post made me feel like there can be a life after prison, especially when you were sentenced to a life sentence when you were just 18. I made no mention of Jeremy’s name or details because really it was just a comment on the expressed emotion, not on the specifics of my life or who I am married to. I don`t know why I commented on it. I guess partly because I just wanted to put my words somewhere and another part of me wanted to connect with others who were maybe open minded and could be supportive and who I could support. I think that is part of being a human being, right?

One woman, in a short comment, shared her story about her son being incarcerated and expressed her own hope. “Okay, off to a good start. Rad.”, I thought to myself. I then put my phone away and went about my daily errands. Shortly after that I noticed the familiar red bubble near the Facebook app that indicates that you have a new notification. I opened up Facebook right away, like the slave to social media that I can be sometimes, and it said that so and so has commented on my comment on the Damien Echols’ post. I thought maybe there was more on my thread about people identifying with me or my feelings or someone sharing their story as well. I got excited, but I was very quickly deflated when I noticed that it was someone who is trying to “out” me and isolate me in the thread by posting a news story about Jeremy and the person asked me if I knew what my husband is in prison for. There was more to the comment, that I honestly cannot even remember now because I got tunnel vision and deleted my original comment and put a stop to the entire witch hunt before it started. I just could not deal with it at that moment. Not right then, not that day. I seriously thought to myself “Fuck! Am I not even allowed to share in a positive post without having someone shit all over me?”

I started to question whether or not I had the right to post without people ganging up on me. I started to become irate because there I was, just trying to connect and someone took time out of their day to cyber stalk me, find an article, and post it in the thread I was in. “Am I a pariah?”, I asked myself. Maybe I am, but then what does that make anyone who is willing to go against the grain in regards to their life choices and open up about them? Are they pariahs as well? Well, maybe they are. Do I deserve to follow my own path but not be allowed to talk about? Am I allowed to exist in this space that I’ve created? Is this just part of the landscape that I live in?

SO much introspection from one less than stellar comment from some person I do not know and who does not know me and ultimately does not really even know what they are talking about.  I believe in evaluation, though, no matter how painful or unfair it seems. Suddenly I felt alone and targeted and like I was on an island by myself and….I just flashed on the Carrie scene where the mom says “They’re all gonna laugh at you!” for some reason. No one is laughing but when I experience comments like this, which is rare, I feel like Carrie, who is getting her period in the girl’s locker room and she is on the floor being pelted by tampons and maxi pads by a mob that relishes in the pain and embarrassment of others.

Public Pariah. Prison Pariah. The word pariah makes me think of piranha. No relation.

Of course, this public presentation has me thinking about my inner circle and what those people think about me. Anyone who has ever had anything negative to express about myself or Jeremy in my inner circle has either never said anything to me directly or they have just blocked me and disappeared. My brain goes to dark places, though, and I imagine people feeling silent contempt for me. I imagine all of this because sometimes being a human being means that although there are a thousand positive comments, the negative few are the ones that evoke the most in us.



Shades of freedom

There is so much hesitation when talking about Jeremy’s potential for freedom, for release into the world and into my embrace. There is so much hesitation and so much trepidation that are at war with my hope and the vision that I have in my head of a life with my life partner. So much that I normally don`t even want to talk about it. I cannot talk about it some days. The thoughts and the feelings that those thoughts own sit on a shelf in the back of my mind, there for accessing but not for showing. What is the truth? That I`m terrified of my husband never getting a second chance and I feel a sense of overwhelming nervousness that he will, that we will be able to build a life after so many years of being apart the majority of the time. I live in this space between crying while laughing and laughing while crying and sometimes I`m not sure which one is which. There are days when I`m not sure if my life is very empty or very full. All I know is that I have a faint glimmer of hope and sometimes that is all you need to get out of bed in the morning, committed to your cause, ready to give it all you’ve got even though you are tired.

Jeremy and I have never known each other outside of prison walls. We have never eaten a meal at our dining room table together or held hands in the rain or been able to leave each other silly notes that are part smart ass, part madly in love. We have never shopped for groceries together, embraced in sadness beyond the barb wire. We have never shared immense joy the moment it happens out in the world, far from the confines of the prison and its rules, its walls. But…it feels like we have done all of those things and more. These last 15 years have felt like anything real is supposed to feel, complete with its ups and downs, two steps forward and ten steps back. No crazy imagination necessary. We built our own version of freedom ourselves and have sustained each other with the restraint breaking completeness that unconditional love provides. Him and I in our little bubble in the middle of a visiting room, on the phone with our louder than life laughter and the passionate affirming silence of two people who don`t need to say a word to know. We know each other better than we know ourselves and I never thought I would have that with another person.

The other day Jeremy told me that his friend Mike was rolling up and transferring to a prison up north, that he was giving up on his appeals and wanted the freedom of being at a prison that allows more time outside of the cell, but not one that inmates are really releasing from. This prison up north is where he is going to get comfortable, to settle into his sentence and maybe where he is going to leave this world. This news was unexpected and caught me off guard. “I didn’t know he was leaving. You didn’t tell me” I said​. I like Mike quite a bit and in fact, I just saw him the last time I visited. When he saw me, he lit up and gifted me a huge goofy grin and a wave. Upon my departure, he wished me a safe drive. I wish I would have paid attention to that moment a little better now.

I hate endings and I hate not knowing if I’ll ever see someone again. Knowing that he is relocating to come to terms with giving up on life on the outside pains me in a way that I cannot describe, but Jeremy explained to me that Mike wanted to be happy and he knew that he could be happy somewhere else, that as a habitual criminal in the past who has caught a serious sentence, that he knew he would probably never get out and didn`t want to pursue freedom to the outside world further.

Freedom is available in shades, in levels that are so personal to a person and a circumstance. Although I am sad about Mike, I have to think of his choice as liberation for him, one that he is choosing. How can I argue with that? I cannot. I can only wish him well and focus my attention on grasping my hope for my husband’s shade of freedom that involves a life beyond the prison gate.


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


The stories we tell

There are events in life which will never be easy to talk about, go through, relive, and ultimately there will be events in life, in everyone’s life, that you will never truly be able to “get over”. I believe our pains and our stories are on us, like birthmarks, some more visible to other people, some more zoomed in on for the world to see, to judge, to hate, to fear, and maybe to embrace.

People who don’t know me personally could assume that I am a horrible person just for being married to Jeremy. They could paint me, in their minds, as a sick person, a crazy person, an unbalanced person. How fucking dare I be married to Jeremy? People who don’t know Jeremy personally could state with absolute conviction, based on what they’ve read in the newspapers, that he is a terrible human being, the most terrible ever, until the next terrible human being comes along. In fact, to some people, he isn’t even human. How fucking dare he live? The outrage is indeed real. They could say that he is vile, unfeeling, remorseless, and all around a person that deserves to die in prison. They could say that and they have said that.

I write this blog to challenge the public opinion of a boy, then 18 years old, who in 1997 was caught up in a very real, very heartbreaking situation. Throughout the weekend, I drove around town with the windows down, my car flooded with hot desert air, listening to music loudly and I found involuntary emotional distress pooling in my eyes and rolling down my cheeks. Not just because the story is a sad one, not just because I love my husband fiercely and want to protect his character, but because I know that this event resulted in the loss of life of another human being. Not just the loss of life to prison, but the literal loss of life. It’s intense and my heart races now, even as I write this. I know that this is not my cross to bear, but being married to Jeremy means that I seek to lessen the weight that my life partner carries, even if just a little bit.

I came to know Jeremy initially through letters over 15 years ago, having no previous knowledge of what he was convicted of. I was a person reaching out to another person, who just happened to be living at a prison. My friendship and eventual relationship with Jeremy didn`t move fast. In fact, our communication was patchy, at best, during the beginning. When I finally read the articles about him online, through various news outlets, I was taken aback. This is not the person I had come to call my friend. I know, I know, people will say that EVERYONE says that about their inmate. For me, the person I was communicating with and the media coverage about him just did not add up. I’ve always found him to be very thoughtful, with a true passion for helping people, even in instances where I personally would not have. His even keeled temper and knack for being there for others was what made me want to know more, to get to know this person who was demonized by the media and the masses who wanted to point a finger and “hang ’em high”, no questions asked.

Like I said at the beginning of this post, some pains are just that, pains, that even if aren’t directly yours, crush the very fabric of your being, while simultaneously liberating, when they are shared. It’s a tough weight to carry, this human business, made more difficult by the ebb and flow of tragedy, growth, hatred, and forgiveness. My heart, as Jeremy’s wife, is in a constant sick flutter over the love we have built, but also knowing that the most amazing bond with another person that has happened in my life, came after the destruction of multiple lives in the crossfire of an awful event.

With all that being said, although I didn`t want to talk about this, I feel it bears mentioning because it is part of the journey. It’s the mucky part, the deep end, the rope burn. It’s part of life, the painful part. It’s the part you cannot look away from and it does not look away from you.

An article came out in a local newspaper this past weekend about the 20 year anniversary of the tragedy that landed my husband behind bars, without the possibility of parole, at the age of 18. Although it is a city specific paper, it is a media outlet that some people read and one of the journalists at the paper was assigned to do a piece on the case for the 20 year anniversary. I`m not used to any degree of infamy, so I get tense when I receive an email or a call from someone that mentions the Jeremy Strohmeyer from 20 years ago. My initial reaction is to hide, but after I’ve hidden, I start to realize that my hiding does nothing for anyone.

I’ve been contacted by the media before, once for a small documentary project about the prison in the town of Ely, NV, where Jeremy has been housed on and off during his incarceration. The other was for a show that airs on CNN, with award winning journalist Lisa Ling. Although I have been contacted twice before, I find the spotlight to be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable and even just talking to someone who may seek to focus on the negative, makes me uneasy. Speaking with the producer of the CNN show got me a little more familiar with how to navigate the waters of curious outsiders and although I ultimately turned down the offer to be included on the show, I have nothing but respect for the real life situations that they address and more importantly, how they address them.

My opinion on the piece by the Las Vegas Review Journal is a bit different from that of my opinion of the CNN show.  I get it, though. There can be nothing in this world without its opposition. There can be nothing good in this world without all the bad. There can be no left without the right. There can be no well, thoughtful telling of a horrible tragedy without the flip side of a story that is told in a sensationalized and biased fashion, where the main person in the story is a detective whose salvation in life is that someone will die in prison(as quoted at the end of the article).

To be fair, they did give my husband a small platform in the article, in which he was able to express himself in a manner that I have come to know over the last 15 + years. They allowed the antagonist in this story a small section to speak his peace, all while including his current, jovial inmate photo in the paper, which readers can react to with curiosity or disgust. They also included a snippet of one of my blog entries that I wrote last year, which again, people can react to in different ways. The detective’s interview (along with photos and video of him) made up the bulk of the article, though. The story was front page of the Sunday printed paper and on the home page of the Las Vegas Review Journal’s website. There were multiple posts on their Facebook page featuring the article and sideline article (about Dave Cash and the Good Samaritan Law), with attention grabbing sentences to get people to click and light their torches(bonfire time, y’all!)

The best I can do is to be cautiously helpful where I can be and to speak the truth about how I view the man I am married to today. The regurgitation of articles past has no effect on how I live my life and where I place my love in this world. I believe in the honoring of a memory and in allowing wounds to heal, though a healed wound doesn’t mean that it is free from pain. Every person has different scars. Every person hurts differently. Every person has a story. What is important is how we tell the world that story and how it is perceived.


Vulnerability, Independence, and a brain that won’t shut up

I spend a lot of time alone with my thoughts which is just fine by me most of the time. I don`t feel some tragic need to be around people every second of the day. I find that mentally exhausting and after a long day with people I quite literally need to wind down and take a nap. I was never built for lots of socializing or being on the go. I accept this about myself after years of struggling to “fit in” or “be like THAT person”. So it would make sense that I would actually, at times, enjoy my situation because I get to be by myself, make my own decisions, and live a life where I`m in control.

This arrangement works until it doesn’t. It works until it’s 1 a.m. and I’m alone in my place of residence and hear a noise. I don`t panic but I`m scared and I`m needing my other half there with me. In the middle of the night is usually when my thoughts attack me. They attack me with fear and they are so delighted to do so. So here I am at 1 a.m., thinking unclearly because I`m tired but unable to sleep, wondering if my husband is asleep, and wondering if I`ll eventually get back to sleep.  I always do and in the morning I`ll wonder why I was so scared.  I`ll wonder why I let so many silly thoughts take over and drive me off a mental cliff for no reason.