There are times when the weight of my life becomes a burden that is too heavy for me. I am not unique in this as many people here on beliefnet have huge struggles. I have fought with myself all morning about whether or not to write this, self disclosure can bite you in the but on line. Yet, what is the point of having a journal if you cannot share the real you, the good times and the bad.
With a husband in prison already and a son on the way I am part of a large group of Americans. With one million people incarcerated in our nation I certainly am not alone. We are a hearty group, loving and supporting our loved ones as they pay their debt to society. Supporting someone in this situation is no easy thing. While we know the good in our loved ones, others only see them as felons and criminals. While we have done no wrong, committed no crime we too are seen by society as somehow tarnished. Treated as less than human by Prison guards, given a hard time at every turn, searched and made to even remove our bra's, we continue to visit and love our relatives.
Every visit is a bittersweet experience. With great excitement and joy we wait in lines, and are passed through the gates to our awaiting loved ones. The joy and happiness is evident as the room is filled with joyful voices, kisses and hugs. The visits are between 6 and 2 hours depending on what facility and how quickly we are processed in. For those few hours we can forget the separation and the heartbreak, for those few hours the longing is gone. As the time to leave draws near, the mood of the entire room shifts. You can literally feel the sadness and the grief growing as the time to leave approaches. When time is up the guards shout for us to vacate the visiting room and we herd out past gates and bars leaving our loved ones behind once again.
With tears in our eyes, and some of us like me, with tears streaming down our faces we return to our world without our loved ones. All the joy and excitement that was so evident is replaced by a grief and a fear that can be crippling. It is a roller coaster ride that I would wish on no one. I am able to see my husband once a month and I cherish those few hours. Knowing what they must endure our lives are filled with worry, fear, and the never ending feeling of helplessness. There are times that I think I cannot go on one more minute living this way.
For those with loved ones in prison the shame can be overwhelming. Finding compassion for this situation from society at large is nearly impossible, leaving most families very isolated. One million families live this every day, ONE MILLION! I want to thank the women that are part of my Beliefnet support group for families and friends of inmates for their love and their support. We hold each other up when times are bad, and we share each others joy in the good times. There are times when I am a champ, I can stay positive and enjoy my life, and other times when the grief is too much to bear. When you are saying your prayers, if you would, please remember the families of the incarcerated.