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Monday, June 30, 2014

“A Day in the Life of a Convict”
                It has been kinda awhile since my last writing, it comes and goes within me. But the other day I was thinking about my days now in the free world versus my days in prison. How different and how the same they were or are they? See inside a normal day starts very early, typically around 3:00am with breakfast chow call. Over the speakers you will hear “Chow to the dayroom”. Most days you can have anywhere from seconds to 15 minutes to get ready and be at the cell door. If you are not ready at the cell door, more than likely the guard will slam it shut and you’re stuck out unless you have a cool cop.
                Then we all trudged down to the dayroom, half asleep, waiting for our turn. Now the fun began. We may get lucky and the “Chow Rolling” call came right away, or we sat and waited in the dayroom for as much as an hour waiting on “Chow out the door”. Then of course we got our trays of an awarding winning meal and shoved it down our faces in minutes or until a cop tapped us out. Back to the house and to bed. If you worked the fields are garment factory you may as well stay up and wait on the call.
                It was like Christmas when the call that garment factory workers were laid in, wow back to bed. Laid in meant the factory could be closed or the sock line was shut down or for any other reason. At times if the free world boss wasn’t there they would cancel his department. As for the Hoe Squad, rain of course would cancel us or it being too hot.
                Dayroom would open at 7:00am, or there about depending on the cops and if the 6:00am count had cleared. Again those not at the door were stuck out till the next in and hour which they did or tried to do every hour. So we sat drinking our morning cup of gun powder and talked of last night’s games and checked our tickets on ESPN. Morning showers were taken and soon Wreck would be called, Gym time lol. Books were opened and others awaited the calls for trades, school, law library, and lay-ins to medical.
                The next big thing would be the next in and out to get the next cup of coffee, damn that was a lot of next’s. See in prison we had a “Hurry up and Wait” saying which applied quite nicely to everyday life inside. Of course a lot of us brought our bags of coffee or a small container to the dayroom filled with coffee and would ask the guys still in their houses for hot water. Not waiting on the next in and out. A funnel was fashioned from rolled up paper the poured through the holes in the door to the waiting coffee cup. A thank you of sorts was exchanged as the happy inmate went back to take his place in the dayroom.
                Oh ya I forgot, if a cop caught you doing this a “Keep off the damn run” would explode over the loud speakers. In some cases a case was issued to the inmate for just waiting a cup of coffee. In case you were wondering during dayroom times it is a big no no to be on the run. The run is anywhere behind the painted yellow lines on rows 1, 2, or 3. Some cops were cool and didn’t sweat it too much so quickness was the key. Also the willingness of the other inmate behind the door was accentual in this quest for hot water.
                Most guys were ok with it but some could be butt heads. If a towel was up in the door that meant he was using the bathroom and a big no no in disturbing him. Again the speakers could echo with “Get that damn towel off your cell door”. Privacy was really non-existence in prison. Some guys may also be asleep so choosing the right cell and buddy was top on your morning list. A bit of coffee to that person went a long way. So the day would continue as normal as possible till 10:00am when count time was called. Hoping all cleared by 11:00am lunch would be called to the dayroom. Then the waiting game would begin for our pods turn and our section. Seeing another section all get up and rush through an open door meant we were just that closer to a very hot meal which we had to eat in about 10 minutes.
                Mouths were burned plenty of times. I still think I have scars on my lips and mouth. There would be more work and school calls, more trades and lay-in calls. More coffee drank and the thought of spreading would start. We may “smuggle” something back from last chow to add to the spread. Last chow would be called around 3:00pm. I used to think we got 3 meals in a 12 hour period then nothing else. Unless of course you had stuff in your locker, a lot of guys had nothing to eat or snack on after about 4:00pm.
                Somewhere after 7:00pm mail call would be called and that may be the best time of the day. The looks on the guys faces and the smiles when your name was announced is truly beyond my words. Looking back now I would think mail and store were the best things inside that for a brief moment took us outside the walls.
                Rack time on week days was 10:30 and on weekends 12:00am. It is so different now, yet in many ways the same accept the walls and doors and cages. I can just about come and go as I please now depending on my work schedule. No need to bug a buddy for hot water anymore. I go check my own mail, but it’s not the same at all. I drive my own car which I don’t like doing anymore for some reason
                I hate traffic even more now than before and can’t wait to get off concrete and walk on grass. I still hate small areas and love my big windows. Strangely at times I like being in my room with a closed door though. Cooking is so different and there are so many choices. Smells and tastes make my eyes open wide and a smile creep on my face. I feel for my brothers who are still inside and all they are missing.
                I wish them all the best and would like them all to stay strong and believe that one day you could be sitting in your room typing on your own laptop as I am doing now. To all of you with loved ones inside, I say write often, calls are great, but give them something they can see and smell, something they can touch knowing you touched it too. Trust me we all smelled the letters, perfume is very intoxicating. I was not a smoker but could smell smoke on some of my letters and so could some of the guys.
                Take a deep breath today and reflect what you really want in your life and out of your life. If your course says stay straight then by all means head in that direction. If it tells you to get off then do so and no one would or should fault you. There is only one person who knows what their heart and soul are telling them and that is you who are reading my humble words.

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Heart of the Matter
            The heart is a very interesting organ, ya I know that sounds dumb and empty. On average a male heart is said to weight between 11-12 ounces, and a females between 9-11. I don’t make this up, it’s all on Wikipedia and that doesn't lie right? Why the difference between the sexes? Could it be the ice in a male’s heart? I’m only joking guys. So this little muscle, for the heart is considered a muscle pumps blood throughout the body giving us life.
            Good little muscle it is, isn't it? Then why for all it does to sustain our lives does it make us feel at times that we want to die? It breaks, it cries, it damn hurts at times, yet it continues to do its little job of pumping life into us. At times it makes us melt and act silly. It makes us skip like a child when another touches it. Spicy food and it will let you know it doesn't appreciate it too much. Almost a way to say “Hey I’m still in charge here.”
            I wonder how many songs have the word “Heart” in it or talk of Heart Ache? I have wished at times that my heart would become cold and it has regarding certain things. Things that used to bother me no longer due, but some that have bothered me for years still pound deep inside my heart. Love is a sure fire way to attract the hearts attention, or is it the heart that attracts loves attention? There were times I wondered how something so small could bring a grown man to his knees. How something so small can make a man do desperate things.
            Of course this all applies to women too, but I am using myself as the guinea pig. Last night on my way home from work some very old ghosts creep into my heart, ghosts that hadn't visited me in a very long time. I wondered why this happens, what sets that off? Out of the blue it was if my heart was letting me know it was still around. I also wondered if reliving the past is a healthy way for the heart to make you forget. To kind of say “Hey see you’re still alive and kicking, and it wasn't that bad was it”
            A sort of wake up call to move on and get a life. You see in prison, although surrounded by many many people you are truly alone. To show your heart or feelings is a sign of weakness to some and an open invitation to become prey. I remember all too well sitting in a coma like state at the table with 3 other guys and not hearing the conversation around me. My heart had taken complete control and I let it. 11 to 12 ounces wow, and controlled a man of 200 pounds.
            I read somewhere that love had been responsible for about half the wars in the old world. Today all these years later my heart is much better, it pumps it’s life giving blood through my veins, and beats a little faster when I partake in too much salt or jalapeno peppers. All in all it’s a good little heart and has done its job well.
            There are many of you today whose heart aches for a loved one. That loved one can be overseas fighting for one’s country, or stuck behind concrete and steel surrounded by razor wire. Situations are drastically different yet the heart bleeds none the less. When the phone rings your heart comes alive doesn't it with the anticipation of “The Call”, “Hello baby how are you”. The mail man is spotted and the heart leaps into action. From one minute a smile to a     tear the next. The heart must love the Roller Coaster rides at an amusement parks. At night we sleep, yet the heart continues to pump away never resting, amazing little thing isn't it. In the matter of a few hours your heart will bounce around going through so many emotions on your way to a visit this weekend. It will be full and then empty. It will make you smile, as it surely will make you cry. Don’t ever give up, your heart is doing its job, but you need to do yours as well. You see the heart is really only a heart, it is you, me, and us that feed it its emotions.
            Don’t blame the heart, don’t really blame anyone. There is no magic pill that will make the emotions go away. No energy drink that will make you forget. You must be strong for others and for yourself. Don’t cheat yourself, I think most of you are good caring people who just got caught up in a situation that you had nothing to do with. But because of feelings you stay to see the end one way or the other. Do things today to remember and some to maybe even forget. You deserve a break and no one will fault you. Go to that imaginary place in your mind and drift off if possible.
            For most of you the struggles continue. Bills are paid and meals are prepared. Children are dressed and lunches made. Going to work is not an option but a necessity. Oh ya and between all this your heart aches for that loved one far away. Strange how a few miles, maybe 100’s can seem like millions. My hope is that in my simple posts I can make you maybe smile, maybe a tear, maybe a skip of the heart to reflect on your life.
            You are not alone in this battle, there are many like you and some far worse. You don’t get a break yet deserve so many. You try to hide it from others while you hurt inside. I did that for so long and still do to a degree.  I found writing as a form of therapy, I used to write to myself in prison and seal the envelope. I would wait a few days and read what I had wrote. It amazed me at how feelings changed or were strengthen in a few short days, maybe even hours.

            I would say “wow was that really me”. You see inside letters meant so much to me. To prove my point I still have every letter I received in a bag in my room, a rather large bag I may add. I would receive a letter and re-read it many times. It brought me closer to my loved one and I tasted freedom, my heart skipped. Have a good day today, one as best as possible. Keep busy and write a letter if only to yourself. See what you think and let me know. It feels good trust me.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Happy Father’s Day……Mothers
               
                A few days ago that dreading “Father’s Day” hit town and as a “so called Father” I had mixed emotions. I wanted to hide from my roller coaster day, but stayed strong for those who wished me a Happy Father’s Day. I have become good at masking my fears, my hates, my sadness, and to be honest they’re not all that bad and I can handle it quite nicely now. It doesn’t take much of a man to conceive a child. A few seconds of work and 9 months later there you go you’re a father. For some they are great fathers and do what’s right and take care of “Business.” But for others the father part ends there.
                There are those like myself who got caught up in one thing or another and lost the Daddy membership card because of something stupid we did. Yes even in prison you can still be a daddy, but it is different. There are no bills to pay, no past due notices and cut off dates. There are no bedroom doors being opened at 3am by a sick child wanting to cuddle with daddy and mommy. There are no ball games to go to and no school activates to clap to. There are no homework to review and no good night prayers to be said. There are no meals to cook and lunches to prepare. I always thought I had it easy.
                Somewhere along the way I started to realize that it was the mothers out there who had become fathers too. Most of you didn’t even know it but you now wore the pants as well as the dresses in the family. You taught and nurtured, you punished with love and held with more love than anyone will realize. You are all different and went, and are still going through the double duty that was unfairly thrust upon you. Some knew this coming in and some of you were blindsided. Some didn’t say a word and met the challenge head on, while others need help and encouraging words.
                In both cases you are still hero’s that few know or recognize. Some will tell you “You knew about him, “or “you made your bed now lay in it.” Those empty hollow words don’t help much do they. Yes you knew and it is you who is laying in that empty bed now. Take everything you hear with a grain of salt. Some is said out of love, and some out of hate or even jealousy. But in the end it is you who are playing mommy and daddy not them. In my 10 years in prison there wasn’t a day go by I didn’t think or appreciate what their mommy was doing for my children. I hated myself for what I had done to her and turned her into. I felt I took the easy way out.
                In society today most people could care less about the plight of the family of inmates. Oh maybe they feel for the children and other family members, but for some reason it is the wives and girlfriends who get crapped on for being or staying with their “Man.” In some circles you are laughed at and called names, but love does that to us doesn’t it? I always wondered how those stone throwers would react if the shoe was on their foot. We on the inside think of you, on the outside often. There wasn’t a day go by that we wouldn’t talk about our loved ones and family members.
                Often we talked of what we put you through. I remember all too well the empty stares off into space wondering how you were making it and getting by. For some of you awaiting your loved ones release you have made many tough choices. You have been both Mother and Father, not a very enviable task for the strongest out there. Many run away and hid and give up, and I think I understand. Many more dig in and fight the battle, not only for themselves but for the little ones. We must never forget the true meaning of Father’s day or Mother’s day. It is not a celebration of you as much as comfort you give the children. You were there when they needed you.
                You bandaged cut knees and played catch. You tied shoes and made school lunches. You answered the “When is daddy coming home” with strength you didn’t know you had. Your answers were given with sadness in your heart that no doctor or computer could calculate or measure. You laid in bed alone and talked to whatever God you believe in and to family members of past. You may have asked yourself why over and over again, why me. Sadly no answers were given. You hoped for a better tomorrow, one that would give you courage and strength to fight another day playing mommy and now daddy.
                You are stronger than you think and if I could bottle up that strength I could move mountains or surely win a Super Bowl. Yes I like so many others are fathers, but it’s you that are truly a daddy today and tomorrow. Hopefully for many of you that job will be passed on soon to someone else. I have also found out the a true dad does not always have to be a biological one by one who acts as a true dad if that makes sense. Don’t ever give up, don’t ever stop hoping and dreaming. Don’t die on the inside. There is no shame or weakness in asking for help. I don’t have many answers and most of what I say is just plain thoughts of an ex-con who did his time inside, but continues to do time in the free world.
                It’s a struggle and battle, there’s no manual or Google has no answers either. The battle starts and finishes within each and every one of us. Some need outside help, some need to talk to others, some just need a phone call or letter to breath air in their over worked minds and hearts. So today my post is somewhat late for Father’s day, which was last Sunday, but my message needs no time frame or special day. You all are fathers 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, you need no special day to remind you of that. You don’t need me to remind you of how you are a hero to so many. You Rock.

Friday, June 13, 2014

“Send in the Clowns”
                Today I was going over some of my past posts on my Blog and realized how down or depressing they might have been. Yes they are true and accurate of my account in prison for those 10 years, but none the less depressing. They are words brought on by anger, frustration, sadness, and desperation. In a small way they help me release my inner demons and ghosts. For you all reading them my hope is they help you better understand what your loved one is going through inside.
                Reading all your posts and messages I see I have many of you cry and tears have flowed. In some ways that is a good thing, for it makes one alive and in touch with their feelings. Makes you alive and breath and fight the good fight and stay on course. Today I think I will try to make some of you smile or even laugh a bit. For all of the horrors of prison, humor still finds its way through those ways.
                I worked the Garment Factory making socks on a machine from Italy or Serbia or some other European country. We worked, depending on your shift, anywhere from 4 to 8 hours a day. We would wait eagerly in the day-room for the “Garment Factory Workers” call over the speakers. Then the 2 mile walk or so would start. The caravan of desperate men, as many as 100 again depending on your shift making its way to the barn to get naked….Yes every day we were stripped going in and stripped coming out. I lovely sight for sure seeing a hundred naked men.
                Some who had no business ever getting naked in public? There was one I remember well, let’s call him Shitty Smithy (no relation). Well old Smitty was about 5’8” but weight about 300 pounds and he loved to bend over in a way to shock us as well as the guard whose job it was to inspect if we bad inmates had anything hidden in various parts of our bodies. The old CCR song “Bad Moon Arising” came to mind. What was comical was in doing so old Smitty allowed us to sneak but the others guards who were in a state of shock.
                See at times it was arranged to work as a team to get items back to our house to sell. Same thing applied for kitchen workers and most all other workers. We were industrious little bees. We would send in a clown to distract the screws. Another common tactic was to place an item between your cheeks and I’m not talking the ones on your face. Most guards never really checked that area real good. I fast turn around and maybe a bit of a bend was all that was needed to masquerade the item.
                Now for the unfortunate inmate staying behind the “Mule” (that is the person who brings stuff back) to see a rather large butt bending over with a bag between there, well you know, an eye opener. It wasn’t uncommon to hear Jesus Christ’s name mentioned. And in some case Smitty was small lol. I made socks at a tune of about 1 every 30 seconds. The machine consisted of about 100 needles that spun at about 400 RPM producing a sock about 20 inches long. We could adjust the machine to make a smaller or longer sock
                Saying that I made some very small socks and would bring them back to the pod and throw them at someone saying “Here’s your package warmer” sorry for my language lol. Of course my socks were about 10 feet long as I proudly waved them around. Of course you had to joke with the right guys. Most would take it well, some not so well. You knew who you could “play” with. In a place of such ugliness it was good to see the guys smile or laugh. Humor knows no color or religion. I could be bad at times as a prankster.
                We had some very avid readers who could finish a 500 page book in a day or two. I know this is bad and some Librarian will punish me in the great library in the sky but I loved this little prank. I had a buddy named Troll who could not read enough, he devoured book after book. Now Troll was a lifer and will never see the light of day. Troll never got money so I always took care of him best I could with the money I got. I would always buy him a bag of coffee on store day along with a few soups and ice cream. In doing so I felt I had a certain right to torture poor Troll.
                Troll would come out his cell at first in and out, usually around 7:00am and got back it near rack time around 10:00pm. Troll did not work because he was “unassigned” meaning medically unable for whatever reason. Either physically or mentally. So my buddy Troll would bring a few books to the day room along with his cup of coffee in sit at the same table and seat day after day. I may tell a new inmate who may ask “where should I sit”, “Oh all new guys have to sit at that table in that seat” of course pointing out Trolls seat.
                Troll hopefully was late this day or at a lay-in for this little trick to work just right. The look on Troll’s face as he came down the stairs or back to the pod from the outside window looking in was priceless. If looks could kill….lol. Daggers were flying at this innocent new guy. Of course I would make sure Troll didn't take this new guy out but explaining the “mix up”. Not to be out done by my inner genius, the old missing page routine was truly a masterpiece.
                See for this to work right it took a cunning mind (me of course) and a few bathroom runs or ins and outs. Troll as trusting as he was would leave his cherished book on the table to go use the day room toilet, or better yet “Hey Troll go get me some hot water on the next in and out and I’ll buy the coffee.” I would spring into action like a Navy Seal humming the Mission Impossible tune as my plan started to come to life. A few pagers were surgically removed and replaced with others from the same or different book. Taped in place just right. For this to work right it may take a few ins and outs or bathroom breaks. See a lot of books from the library had missing or torn out and re-taped pages.
                Now my unsuspecting victim would settle back down with a smile on his face to continue his journey in some far off land of Dragons and Wizards. At this time it would be a smart move to leave the table. Of course depending where I assaulted his book. I may have done it for the nice few pages or a few hours from now. Ya I know I’m a demon spawn. So the time bomb was ticking and a few of us waited for the explosion. A look of confusion passed over Troll face, then frustration, then anger and rage. A few choice profanities were thrown about and evil stares, it wasn't uncommon to see the book missiled at a wall or at me.
                “Why do you do that to me Smith, Damn you to hell.” The day-room would erupt with laughter and I had done my duty once again. Pats on the back were given and knuckles touched. Shakes of the heads and smiles were directed at me and you know what it felt good. I would get up with a bag of coffee in hand and head toward my beloved Troll….”Get away from me, and take your coffee and shove it.” “Come on Troll I was just joking, I’m sorry buddy.” Then Troll would tell me something along the making love to myself line? Oh but a smile would finally break on old Troll face and my gift was accepted, with the condition I never do it again.

                “I promise I won’t do it again buddy……today anyway.” I would then give back his pages and all was back to normal and Troll submerged himself into his world of fantasy. There is a part of me that misses all that, a part that wishes I could still do the old page swap again. It is time to bring in the   clowns. Oh well I hope this little story made some of you smile and laugh. There are many many more I have swimming in my mind. The best ones were the ones played on the cops/guards/screws. Those I miss most. I remember one we played on a bunch of new boots (that’s a term for new hire’s) they were all, about 10 walking down the bowling alley when I yelled “2 by 2 new boots” some would look around but some actually got paired up. For the most part they were harmless, childish pranks that made us all forget where we were and for a brief moment we were free again. Ya I loved sending in my clowns…..”Pair up new boots” ha-ha priceless.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again
                In prison for the most part you knew the good guys and you knew the bad guys. They didn’t have to wear white nor black. There were the givers and the takers, those who preyed on the week and hung on to the strong. There was no score card nor lineup. Your instinct took over and your inner voice, hopefully would not betray you. We formed packs and alliances, we become a team when and if needed and watched each other’s backs. We were thieves and murders, we were dealers and users, yet we formed a common bond and looked beyond our crimes. We only had ourselves now.
                The world as we knew it was a faraway strange land filled with memories of another time. We would revisit that world in our minds to stay sane, to not fall into the trap that this prison, this concrete jungle, these walls held us. We stayed strong for those waiting our release or next letter, next call. We stayed strong for ourselves. We played mind games to make the time past, but had to be aware of our surroundings. We read books and watched TV, we talked and gambled on sport. We listened to our see threw radios and drank coffee. We hustled and we flowed, we got ink and lifted weights.
                We talked of loved ones and loved lost. We shared photos and ideas. We were normal weren’t we? Yes we wore white and lived surrounded by walls, steel and concrete, but we were normal right? We got knocked down, but we did get up again. For the most part we ate our 3 meals at about the same time every day. “What’s for chow” would be heard and a chorus of “Some damn casserole” would echo. We awaited chow like it was a T-bone steak and baked potatoes. We drank cold water or juice with ice. I may add the only time we could have ice. Yes you could buy some if you wanted but in the heat it wouldn’t last long, like a memory.
                Weekends were met with great anticipation of a visit from a loved one. Whites were pressed and hair trimmed just right. Thoughts of hugs and snacks made your heart skip maybe just a little bit.  For those left behind we would ask “So what did you eat.” “Man oh man I’m stuffed” was the usual answer. Although some never got visits, we still traveled the bowling alley and sat beside their loved ones too. Something I remember the most about a buddies visit was the smell of the perfume he would return with. The scent of a woman, the scent of freedom.
                My main point today is to not only reflect on my time in prison, but these last few years of freedom. It has been almost 3 years since I walked out those doors in Huntsville, Texas in a heat of an August day. Hearing shouts and cries, seeing mothers and wife’s, sisters and brothers, fathers and daughters, sons and grandparents run to a loved one still brings a tear to my eye. Inside I smiled for these men I never really knew, they were going home.
                For the most part the people I have come in contact with have been supportive and caring. Most of you I have met through social media have had nothing but positive things to say. My family has supported me and I don’t know why at times, I am confused why don’t more hate me? But then there are those that do hate, that have nothing but negative things to say and I ignore most of that. It’s called the Ying and the Yang. I knew it coming in and expected it. I’m not complaining or seeking sympathy. For those who don’t like me or my posts there is a simple solution. It’s called “unfriend” or “block.” There now that didn't hurt one bit did it.
                I’m not in this for fame or money. I’m truly in it to help others understand the inside and the outside of prison. I’m no one’s hero or role model. If I can reach one person, one child and make him or her understand, laugh, smile, and think. Then yes I am successful. Recently I was asked many questions about my time in prison and answered honestly and to the best of my abilities. I was still called a liar and “You know nothing.” Did it really bother me? No not really, words are cheap especially when typed a 1000 miles away. What bothered me was an inner rage I felt, my prison mentality was coming back, my demons wanted to rise from hell and deliver vengeance. Wow I sound so dramatic lol. I guess my point is I will never truly be free I think.
                I don’t think I would ever react to someone’s stupidity in a violent way anymore, but it still bothered me to feel the heat rise to my face. Oh yes I was ok a little after and that is why I wanted to write this post today. I have got knocked down, but damn it guess what, I got up again. When your loved one comes home be understanding and listen if they want to talk. If they don’t it’s not because they don’t want to or like too, but maybe because they’re just not ready yet. Some may even shy away from contact and that is ok too, I did.
                Some will be leery and untrusting with others, and that is ok too. Some may not like crowds and loud noises at first, give them time to adjust. Just be there and wait for him/her to come back. He may stay in a room or stand a lot, he may sleep on the floor in a corner, and he may walk for miles thinking. My family watched as I paced like a caged lion and could not stop getting up and down. I took my shoes and socks off and walked outside in the grass and almost cried. Ya me big bad inmate. We all deal with our ghosts and demons differently. We all fight our battles in different way and use different methods.

                In prison I would say I read over 1000 books in those 10 years, but it took me months to pick one up in the Free World. The first time using the bathroom, alone and with a door shut made me giggle. The first time I heard “Mr. Smith” instead of Smith or Inmate made me wonder who the hell they were talking about. Make his or hers adjustment easier by just listening and being there, being strong. Let him see you smile and laugh. Watch him sleep at night as he will watch you. Give him time…..He got knocked down, but that guy is getting up…..Thanks for listening to me today.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Letting go, Turning the Page…..

                I have posted a few times about my life in prison and my thoughts of, and life. I have received nothing but positive responses by the 100’s and dozens of private messages wishing me luck and thanking me for sharing my story. I cannot express to you all how that makes me feel that I, a simple man can touch so many strangers by my words. It is truly overwhelming at times and makes me sit back and think what it truly means for me and you all.
                In saying all this tonight’s post maybe my most difficult to date and touch a certain nerve with some of you. Let me first say this is not my intent. I am not a marriage consular nor relationship guru. I have always been amazed at how some of you continue to hang on, hold on, and stay with those inside. It’s more admiration than shock. I understand a parent or siblings love for those behind bars. That love is unconditional and for the most part never goes away.
                To hang on to a son or daughter, a husband or wife, a father or mother is quite expected I would think. It is those that hang on to a husband or wife regardless of the time or amount of road to travel or steel doors that separate the two. I cannot sit here and say I understand one way or the other. I was on the inside looking out so my experience is different than most of you looking in.
                For some they have never been intimate with their loved one, yet talk of undying love. Which leads me to think intimacy is overrated? What is true love? Is it the hunger one feels when that person is at work or away, if that is the case your case is quite different for you have never been with this person except for visitations? There are those among you who have lived and loved with those behind bars and your case may be different in some way.
                Please understand what I am saying, I am not arguing in any way your love for this person or why you love this person. This post is more about those who battle daily with the thought of telling that someone inside they want or need to move on. Do we or should we fault that person for wanting to move on with their life? I for one don’t think so. It takes 2 special people to love an inmate. One who has the strength to stay, and one who may have even more strength to say goodbye.
                There are some that see a light at the end of the tunnel or the light is so distant that the hope has left that tunnel. There are those who in the years of waiting have found comfort in another and is that OK? Again for one I think it is OK to Turn the Page, Turn your Page. No one, not anyone of us has lived in the others shoes, or slept countless nights in a lonely cold bed hugging a pillow or crying oneself to sleep……again. Should this person who wants to move on be judged? Again I see myself saying no.
                Those of you who have stayed and will stay, I commend you on your courage and strength as a commend those who decided to let go on their courage and strength. Both decision are one of the most difficult you will face in your life. A decision no one should judge. No one lives with that choice but the person you see in your mirror. Is there anything wrong with feeling good again, feeling alive, laughing, smiling. To feel butterflies in your stomach when someone new calls or knocks on your door? How can that be wrong or bad?
                For those that will continue to stay with that someone behind the walls there is nothing wrong or bad with that either. Both of you will be judged by family and friends and society, and most will answer “Who Cares.” You are both right…….Who Cares. Stay strong, stay true to whatever course you have chosen and never look back. Looking back breeds doubt and doubt breeds hating oneself.

I don’t wish that to happen tonight. One last favor before I go, please try to understand the others decision and let’s not turn this into anything negative. You are all in this boat together and not each other’s enemy. Be understanding and respectful and maybe you can find common ground in this decision that you both make. You both have gone through a very difficult time, some of you continue some may not. I hope today’s post opens a few minds or eyes to the fight of the other. You are not alone in your fight……