Posts Tagged ‘ilovemyinmate’

nye

So here we are, on the brink of the new year and I’m feeling very introspective. I’ve seriously slacked in maintaining this blog in 2015, and for that, I’m a little sorry. Truth be told, this blog has served as a coping mechanism for me. It has been a means of expressing myself and fleshing out my thoughts in a meaningful way that allows me to make sense of them. 2015 has taught me that I don’t always require or have the steam for this particular mechanism. The writer in me laments this fact, while the survivor in me understands that it isn’t a horrible thing. I truthfully hope that I manage to be more attentive to this means of expression in 2016, and I have every intention of making every effort to make it happen. Time will tell.

So it’s 10:30 pm CST and I’m vegging out following a much needed shower after putting in two really long days at work. Since my husband’s arrest in 2013, I have found holidays to be the most difficult to contend with. I absolutely don’t begrudge anyone else their happiness and their companionship and celebration on these occasions but I’ve found time & again that I don’t really have a place in them. It’s awkward more than anything, and it’s just easier for me to separate myself from it as best I can. In doing so, however, the cue to maintain caution for another reason sounds. I’m 20 months clean now, and most of the time, getting high isn’t even an afterthought. It’s not even at the forefront of my mind in any sense of the word. When I’m alone though, and unoccupied, my mind wanders to places I haven’t voluntarily visited in quite some time. This is why I immerse myself so enthusiastically in my schooling and my work. Much like idle hands are dangerous so, too, is an idle mind.

I’ve made a lot of progress this year though, in spite of the conflicts inherent with adulthood. I’m in a transitional period now as I try to get situated and get a home, and that has been a little stressful for me. A lot of this scenario resembles some factors of the calamity in 2013. I try not to look directly at it for just that reason. The busier, the better.

I was inducted into two honor societies this year, and am hopeful for some scholarships through them to continue my education after the federal aid dries up. I’ve started a small business, promoting health & beauty products that I really believe in, and it is slow going but it is exciting just to consider the potential it carries. I hope to grow that business substantially in the coming year, and (though I hesitate to even say it out loud,) regain some semblance of financial freedom. Oh to be debt-free again. There is so much potential that it just makes me weak in the knees. I’m not a greedy woman, but I am no stranger to stress and I create more than enough of it myself without the added burdens of responsibility.

On the note of stress & anxiety, I dropped from weekly counseling sessions for 17 months to every other week in the forth quarter of 2015. I feel that denotes some semblance of progress on my part. I’m less prone to post-nuclear meltdown, which is nice. I still have bad days but they are less frequent & I blessedly perceive fewer boogeymen than I have since I was assaulted in 2013. It is a massive relief on a scale I’m not altogether prepared to express. One such development in counseling has been survivor panels. I spoke at three of them in 2015. These panels are an avenue for advocates at the crisis hotline provided by my counseling agency who answer those calls to speak directly to survivors and to get a better idea of what victims need from them. These panels have been incredibly empowering for me and have been pivotal in my own healing process. I’m happy to say that I am already scheduled to speak at one in the first quarter of 2016. I’m looking forward to it more than you know.

April 2016 also has the potential to carry happy news concerning my husband’s incarceration. He is up for parole again and, should the state grant it, he will then only have 14 months to serve in a federal facility before coming home to me. I’m trying very hard to not get my hopes up, as last year’s denial was soul crushing. If not for the amazing people in my life, I might have relapsed. I’ve resolved myself to hope for the best, but brace for the worst this year.

I am on track to finish my Associate’s Degree in 2016, and transfer to continue work on my Bachelor’s Degree. All in all, I am cautiously optimistic about all the potential I see in 2016. I’m eager to see what it brings, and hopeful that it will prove to be the fruition that the transitional period of 2015 brings.

I wish you all a safe & Happy New Year and that 2016 finds all you’ve been working towards and hoping for.

Advertisements

A finely tuned, carefully honed plan is one of my strongest addictions. I feel damn near omnipotent when I marvel at the finely crafted fruit of my labors. Whether it be time management, budgeting or work flow, I like to have an order of operations for everything. I feel like I am in control and sitting in the driver’s seat with a plan, and I also feel better equipped to handle curve balls and unforeseen variables that inevitably arise in every facet of life, whether it be an urgent matter at the office that needs attending, or a slow leak in a tire that needs patching before it grows into a bigger problem. When I have a plan in place, these things are almost anticipated, though the form they will take is not usually known to me before it happens.

One such plan was my living arrangements. In May 2014, I was approved for my first lease since moving state side. I signed on the dotted line and initialed at least two dozen pages and moved into what I call home that weekend. I was new to Dallas, and my new home was just a short commute to my place of employment. It isn’t the best neighborhood, but it definitely isn’t the worst either. It would definitely suit my needs, at the very least for the 9 month term of my lease.

We are now in December of 2014, and I have received multiple notices regarding the quick approach of renewal time. The first had increased rates that steadily decreased as the length of the terms increased. Last week, I received a “holiday special” notice suggesting that if I renewed my lease for any term by 12/15, my rate would remain the same. I was planning on renewing, but I wanted to find out about the policy on upgrading to the next size up whenever one became available either on my floor or above me, and whether that would be a breech of contract or whether they would work with me etc. My husband had also suggested that I offer to sign the longest lease they have if they give me the bigger unit at my current rate. I was going to discuss all of this with them this coming Monday or Tuesday, as I have those days booked off from work for my finals anyway, and would be around during their business hours. In fact, I was in the leasing office on Monday this week to pick up a package that had been too big for the mail man to put in my mail slot, and while there, I advised the manager that I wasn’t ignoring them, and that I would be in to speak with them next week regarding my renewal. (Unbeknownst to them, I had also planned to discuss the possibility of my husband paroling to this address in the future. If that were to happen, they’d be getting $600+/month from us for the foreseeable future. Steady income is steady income, amirite?)

We are now Wednesday, and I have been to my weekly counseling appointment, and would ordinarily be in class now, however I finished all my course work for my first class this evening, and am not due in my second class until 7. I opted to come home, relax, shower, etc. Well, much to my annoyance I arrived home to find a piece of paper stuck in my door. This piece of paper says there will be mandatory inspections of the units randomly selected by the inspectors tomorrow, and to please have my unit available. Of the 4 doors on my floor, mine was the only one with this paper stuck in it.

Let me step back for a moment and explain why this is an issue for me:

Approximately six weeks ago, we all received a similar notice, citing some bullshit about the city requiring annual inspections. This one, however, said all units would be inspected over the next 72 hours. Now, I have two small dogs, and I live 60 miles away from all my family in the area. Making arrangements for my dogs is easier said than done, especially during the week as I work full time and attend class almost full time as well. I called the rental office first thing the next morning and advised them of my situation and said that I would be more than happy to come home and handle my animals if they would just give me an hour or so notice. The reply to this was “we are not able to schedule time, and the inspectors are out already and may have already hit your unit.” …. Hit my unit? Did I miss a memo where I was mixed up in a fucking heist movie? Furthermore, I am a trauma survivor. I suffer from PTSD and acute anxiety. The prospect of anyone entering my sanctuary, with all my things and my dogs, unescorted, sent me into full blown panic mode. So much so that the following day I was home with a migraine. I called the office first thing in the morning and told them I was there and asked if they would please come do the inspection, since I was here and could take care of the dogs. I told them I would be home until 2pm, before I had to go to my appointment. I spoke with them repeatedly throughout the day, and each time she told me they’d be along, and then when I called (at her request) before I left for my appointment, I was placed on hold for several moments before she came back on the line, advised me that they were finished with the inspections and had everything they needed, as well as thanked me for my cooperation. …. Mandatory inspection, by the city, of all units eh? Well, I guess I’m special. Or they were just trying to get into specific units. Whatever.

So now, back to the topic at hand. I feel like I have been singled out for this inspection and after the fiasco before, I’m not inclined to bend over backwards for these people. My dogs will remain loose and I will leave a note with my number. They can call me if they want in here. Otherwise, I cordially invite them to piss off.

Furthermore, as a result of this one piece of paper stuck in my door, the absolute best they can hope for is a six month renewal. If the stars align and allow, I will give my 30 days notice at the end of this month and be gone before February. If the stars don’t align, I will sign a 6 month lease renewal, and then be gone at income tax return time next year. They can shove the larger unit up their asses and they can have this little one back in relatively short order.

Aside from all of this shit and the personal elements, let me tell you why else this pisses me off. I mentioned this was not the nicest part of town. It’s cleaned up a lot in recent years, I’m told, but it still has a long way to go. In this complex specifically, I guestimate that roughly one third to one half of the residents get up and take our asses to work every day. The rest are here all day long and basically leech off the system. That being said… why in the FUCK are you going to harass and alienate one of your tenants that doesn’t party, that doesn’t have people over, that pays rent on time every time, and that doesn’t cause problems?? And for what? Probably nothing. I will never understand the logic (or lack there of) of some people.

IMG_0159.JPG

Whatever, it’s their loss. No skin off my back. I’ll be taking my little caravan shit show someplace else. Thank you and have a nice day.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

This is another paper I wrote for my English composition class. I share now because the topic of recidivism and addiction came up today. This paper was also written in MLA format.

—————-

A disease, according to Merriam-Webster, is defined as “an illness that affects a person, animal, or plant; a condition that prevents the body or mind from working normally” (p1). Additionally, addiction, as defined by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is “a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.” (“The Essence of Drug Addiction.” p7). The link between the two words is plain to see. Yet America, as a nation, does not treat addiction as a disease. Instead, it is punished, swiftly and indiscriminately, as a crime. The symptoms of the disease are simply suppressed by the system. Drug offences alone were accountable for over half of the population in federal prisons in this country in 2013, per the U.S. Department of Justice Statistics Bulletin (15). For the sake of perspective, the Federal Correctional system housed 193,775 prisoners, serving sentences longer than one year, and 98,200 of those were for drug convictions alone. (16).

How does that look at the state level? According to the same source, of the 1,314,900 inmates sentenced at the state level in 2013, only 16% of those were sentenced for drug convictions. (Table 13, page 15.) The stark contrast here has to do with some states softening the penalties for low-level drug offenses, while others are somewhat more lenient with regards to parole violations (i.e. they do not necessarily get sent straight back to prison upon their first violation, depending on the nature of it.) Nevertheless, it is incredibly alarming as to why there is such a massive difference between the federal correctional system and the state systems within the same country. How can this be explained?

The nature of drug crimes insofar as convictions are concerned, can be broken down into subcategories: possession, delivery/trafficking and manufacturing. Each carries varying degrees of severity, depending on the specific details of each case. What the typical census fails to consider is the drug related element of non-drug convictions. As mentioned earlier, addiction describes compulsive need for a substance. Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse within the National Institute of Health describes it perfectly:

“Drug craving and the other compulsive behaviors are the essence of addiction. They are extremely difficult to control, much more difficult than any physical dependence. They are the principal target symptoms for most drug treatment programs. For an addict, there is no motivation more powerful than a drug craving. As the movie “Trainspotting” showed us so well, the addict’s entire life becomes centered on getting and using the drug. Virtually nothing seems to outweigh drug craving as a motivator. People have committed all kinds of crimes and even abandoned their children just to get drugs.” (“The Essence of Drug Addiction.” p8.)

The science behind this has been performed. It is a widely accepted fact that addiction is a disease. Upon further consideration, it is clear to see that if America as a country was more widely inclined to address the illness itself, rather than the current method of staunching the symptoms, there is a very real and attainable possibility that crime of all kinds will decrease.

America is certainly on the trailing edge of implementing these findings. The Netherlands, for example, has systems in place where soft drugs such as marijuana are accessible in a safe, legal environment, where the users of such substances (young or infrequent especially) are not necessarily exposed to the harder, more volatile drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Furthermore, in various European countries, there are safe rooms in place where addicts of hard drugs are free to go and use their drugs in peace, with medical supervision and clean needles. (“Denmark’s ‘Fix Rooms’ Give Drug Users a Safe Haven. P6.” This carries multiple social benefits: these addicts are not littering public streets with refuse and dirty needles, and the Netherlands has all but eliminated HIV transmission through drug injection while also boasting the lowest rate of problem drug use in all of Europe. (“…Look to the Dutch. P11.) There is more to it still: the coffee shops where the marijuana can be purchased, generate a staggering amount of revenue annually while the citizens are not strapped with criminal records for non-violent, minor drug offences, since fewer arrests are made. . (“…Look to the Dutch. P4.) The end result is a much cleaner, much more prosperous society. Some believe more lenient law enforcement would lead to an increase in drug use. For the Netherlands, this was not the case. . (“…Look to the Dutch. P5.)

Ultimately, the mentality behind policy in the Netherlands is that different substances carry different risks, the contrary of America’s stance, wherein all drugs are equally as hazardous and criminal. The pros most certainly outweigh the cons, and there are so many examples made overseas that America should follow. More leniency with low level offences has the potential to reduce recidivism, in that minor offenders would not be subject to felonies that make it exponentially more difficult to attain gainful employment, which contributes in and of itself to the alarming prison overcrowding issue in the United States. If we were to delve further into the issue, and take steps to identify those in the ranks of America’s incarcerated, who are addicted to hard drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin and all the incarnations thereof, and take steps to treat their conditions as the disease it is, crime rates would drop exponentially. The addict mind drives otherwise good and decent people to alarming lengths to feed their addiction. Breaking and entering, theft, robbery, grand theft, and even some of the more violent crimes, are examples of some of the radical lengths an addict will go to in order to pacify his or her demons.

Imagine then if, as a society, we took steps to exorcise those particular demons. What, then, is left? The human condition dictates that there will always be some crime. The alarming numbers of men and women that fill both state and federal penitentiaries would dramatically decrease if, as a people, we took one of the more common variables off the table. Progress is progress. Consider as well, how many families living below the poverty line might have a fighting chance if their finances were not dictated by the need for a fix. Though times are still hard, in light of the recession, the black mark of a felony conviction on the background of non-violent men and women make it that much more difficult to find gainful employment. It is a vicious cycle: addiction, crime, incarceration, release without treatment for the disease, struggle to reintegrate back into the free world, inability to find work, relapse under stress or necessity of subsidizing income, crime, incarceration. This is the reality for an unacceptably large number of Americans.

The system is broken, but it is not beyond repair. The United States of America should follow the lead of more progressive countries like The Netherlands and treat the disease. Without the disease rampant and out of control, the symptoms will become irrelevant. Treat the disease; stop suppressing the symptoms.

Works Cited:

Carson, E. Ann, Ph.D. “Prisoners in 2013.” U.S. Department of Justice – Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. Sept. 2014. Web PDF. 12 Oct. 2014.

Leshner, Alan I. Ph.D. “The Essence of Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. March, 2001. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.

Malinowska-Sempruch, Kasia. “For Safe and Effective Drug Policy, Look to the Dutch.” Global Drug Policy Program. Open Society Foundations. July 16, 2013. Web.

Merriam-Webster. An Encyclopedia Britannica Company. Web. 12 Oct 2014.

Overgaard, Sidsel. “Denmark’s ‘Fix Rooms’ Give Drug Users A Safe Haven.” Parrallels: Many Stories, One World. 16 Dec 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.

So I’ve been having a pretty good week again this week… it’s a nice development after the week from hell earlier this month.

I have to laugh a little bit at the recurring theme I seem to notice surrounding all my ups and downs both: control. My counselor has said that it is not uncommon for a survivor to exhibit a desire for control over their environment and life in general following a traumatic experience. I don’t really like the word “control” though… it seems to carry a somewhat negative connotation when the thing itself as a factor in the life of someone like me results in such positivity. I realize excessive obsessive tendencies are not healthy but the fact of the matter is, there is a significant difference between excessive and moderate. I need to plan my time, in addition to scheduling fixed tasks in my life. I like to think I adapt to unforeseen interruptions to my plans pretty well… though when a lot happen in a short period of time, my mood does suffer for it. I have yet to become completely unable to function, which I’m glad for. I have gotten a little lethargic on occasion but not to the detriment of my job, my classes or responsibilities. Everyone is allowed to have bad days, right?

In one of my classes, Learning Frameworks, we have been learning about different personality types as well as learning styles. It’s very interesting to see that some of the qualities typically exhibited by a survivor are qualities that already exist in certain types of people. I find this to be reassuring but also stunning since there are so many people that are quick to dismiss damaged people as broken. They are quick to define people who have been a through hell and lived to tell the tale as the hell they weathered.
This bothers me tremendously. Yes, all people are products of their environments and experiences, but ALL of their environments and experiences. Yes, I have been through hell. I have been violated beyond the realm or what is acceptable collateral damage on the ride of Life, and yes, I have made mistakes, as has the man I love, but those are only a couple of factors that make up the blueprint of who I am. Those elements of my life experience do not exclusively define me any more than the fact that I like broccoli and dislike Brussels sprouts do. Similarly, yes, my husband is in prison. Yes, he is among the ranks of the shamefully large Texas inmate population. Yes, he is an addict. But these are not all he is. Why are some people so inclined to pass judgment on others simply due to their present circumstances? Hell, even past circumstances. We will have to endure judgmental leering down the noses of the self righteous for our entire lives due to his felony convictions and my oddities over control.

That doesn’t bother me as much as it might bother others. I know my heart and I know his heart. Those that dismiss us as inferior or unworthy of their company are the ones who will lose out ultimately. As individuals, we are quite exceptional people, my man and I. If anyone chooses to judge us by the scars we bear as medals of Honor, denoting our victories over adversity, so be it. We didn’t want to play with them anyway.

I guess the moral of this story is folks shouldn’t be so quick to judge one another. Everyone has pages in their story that are less pleasant than others. If you refuse to endure those pages, there’s no telling what elements of wisdom, knowledge and kindness you will miss out on from the transition from dark to light. It’ll be only your loss. Life is too short to risk missing anything at all.

 

image

One of the wonderful women in one of the Inmate Wife support groups I am a member of posted this and I was very moved by it. I asked her if I could repost it on my blog here. Again, this is credited to miss Sherrie Montgomery – I did not write this. Thanks so much for sharing, lady. This is really a wonderful piece.

————-

The Prison Wife
Who is she??

She is around you more than you may ever realize. She is the girl in line at the grocery store. She is the girl sitting next to you at work. She is the girl on the other end of the phone when you call customer service. She is the girl standing at the mailbox just waiting and hoping there is a letter, amongst all of the bills, with his name in the top left corner. She is the girl jumping up and down when she hears his ringtone every day. She is the girl searching everywhere to find new perfume to spray on his letters. She is the girl laying alone at night…thinking of how it will feel to have his skin on hers all night long as they sleep. She is the girl crying tears because he is so far away…but do you know that is what the tears are for??

She is the girl setting out to achieve her goals and earn a college degree so that life can be successful for him and for her when they are finally reunited…and she does it with so much love and appreciation for all that he does for her, even though things are limited for the moment. She is the girl that everyone does not feel sorry for because this is the life she chose…so when things get rough…all she hears is “well that is the road you chose to take” or “if you would just move on and find someone who could be here and support you”…you just don’t get it, do you??

She is the girl who has nobody to comfort and hold her when someone she loves passes away. She is the girl who must remain strong in the face of challenge. She is the girl with nobody to hold her hand and cry with her when she finds out that she has a medical problem. She is the girl that people look at with pity in their eyes because there is nothing they can do. He is the only man that can take this all away.

She is the girl that loves her man more than life itself. She is the girl that hurts when he tells her how worthless he is because he can’t provide for her. She is the girl that tells him he is wonderful when the cops make him feel like he has no value as a man…when the only difference between them and him is that he just got caught…the cops will someday too. She is the girl that would give anything to make him understand just how much he really is loved and valued in this life. She is the girl that he vents to when he is struggling. She is the girl left in the dark because he will not tell her what life on the inside is like…she is too precious to know all of this and he wants to keep her sacred and away from this hell that he calls home. She is the girl wondering if she is on his mind as much as he is on hers. She is the girl that is just as imprisoned as he is…sure she does not live in that world…but she is doing the time right along with him.

She is the girl running to the bank to make sure she has enough quarters to get through the whole 8 hour visit. She is the girl driving an hour, 4 hours, or 14 hours so that she can finally kiss the man that she is in love with and be able to feel close to him for the hours that they are together. She is the girl who can’t wait to see his face in person again. She is the girl going to “visit” her sweetheart…knowing that she will have to leave him again. She is the girl that hurts, knowing that any and all privacy that he has was gone the moment the cuffs were put on his wrists. She is the girl who wants to throw up when she thinks of the most incredible man that she has ever known, being shackled with chains around his stomach, his hands cuffed in front of him, his feet chained together…and chained to the person sitting next to him or walking in front of him. She is the girl that does not see the monster in him that they all think exists. She is the girl they call “naive” to the real world…she is not…she is sick of being classified like this just because she believes in people more than they believe in themselves.

She is the girl who lights up when she mentions his name or just thinks about him. She is the girl that gets butterflies in her stomach when he kisses her. She is the only person in this world that matters when he gives her a hug and tells her that he loves her. She is the girl counting down the days…waiting until he is free and there are no limits to how they express their love to each other for one another. She is the rock in his life…the solid foundation. She is his escape…especially when she is on the other end of the phone. She is the girl that he prays for. She is the girl that he fights for. She is the girl that he hopes is being faithful…but does he really trust her to be…and does he really believe her when she says she is?? She is the girl that does her very best in everything…inspite of the situation. She is his whole world…the letters she sends are priceless. He loves to smell her letters…it is refreshing from what he smells in there every day.

He is her whole world as well. He is on her mind 24/7/365. She is wondering what she can do to make him happy…she is limited…but she can change everything in his world for the better or for the worse…how is she going to decide to change it?? She is the greatest creation that God has ever made in his eyes. He is the most wonderful and incredible man on this earth in her eyes. The past is the past and that is just where it needs to stay. They pick up their lives…move toward one another…and create a whole new world inside of one another. When one gives, they receive. For everything she does for him to make him happy…he returns that to her. He showers her with unexpected gifts and amazing words written by his hand. He spoils her…and she spoils him. They fit…they always have…they always will. He loves her more than he could even try to describe…she loves him just the same…maybe more

Who is she?? She is me.

b9ed8cd1d5e15fa7d92f37909940540f

It’s come to my attention throughout my journey of being shattered and then gradually putting my pieces back together and reintegrating into the world as it is that more people than not undergo struggles of this nature. Sure, the details vary widely but generally speaking, there is not a single person I know of that hasn’t endured an event that has forced them to completely adapt themselves or alter their thinking.
One of the prevalent themes in this seemingly universal phenomena is change. Change, in and of itself, can carry both negative and positive connotations, and some people are more adept at acclimating to it than others but generally speaking, I believe human beings are fundamentally creatures of habit. We thrive with structure. Positive, personal changes rarely occur outside of a carefully structured and applied plan. The negative changes are the ones that are more apt to blindside us when we absolutely don’t expect it. It is in those moments that our coping skills and sense of perseverance are tested.

I’ve been told by many that I am remarkable for what I have accomplished this last 18 months, and I suppose in some ways, that is true. At the same time though, it never really occurred to me that it could be any different. No, the things that befell me and events in my life were absolutely not planned… who has a continuity plan for that sort of thing, after all? No one I know. I guess where I differ from others is my adaptability. I was pretty accustomed to dealing with more mundane curve balls on a fairly regular basis. After all, that’s life. I had my moments throughout all of this where I felt completely crushed under the weight of it, and definitely at a loss of where to even begin to start rebuilding. I am fortunate in that I have amazing family and husband who love me unconditionally. Without their support, there’s not much telling where I would be today.

Those who know me will have heard me say on more than one occasion that perspective is everything. When a situation is less than desirable, some people are content to play the victim and ride that horse into the ground. I’m not one of those people. I couldn’t stand the way people looked at me with pity. I know rationally they meant no harm by it, that they truly regretted my situation and just didn’t know how to deal with it. But emotionally it killed me because every sympathetic stare and gasp seemed like it re-carved that title of Victim into my forehead. In hindsight maybe that’s where my motivation to be okay came from. I wanted to be seen as normal, or at the very least indifferently. I would take praise too.. just not pity.

That realization is what led me to structure one of those carefully laid plans of action to bring about change that I mentioned earlier. Achievement and accomplishment have never been foreign to me… I am no stranger to working for what I want. That realization was empowering. Sure, I started from lower than in my previous experience, but hey, the same formula was applicable.

I guess my overall point is this: change happens to all of us. It is normal to experience feelings that aren’t necessarily familiar as a result of whatever variables in your life have changed. It doesn’t have to be an ugly thing. Take the time to understand what you’re feeling and why. From there, you can establish a clinical perspective of your state of mind and then you’re just a few short steps away from formulating your plan of action to get from where you are to where you want to be. If I can do it, anyone can. Perspective is everything. Take control of yours.

image

I’ve got some time before my appointment and have been in my head a lot this weekend so I’ve got some more thoughts for that jar.

The foremost thought on my mind is accomplishment. I feel like I have a lot of little successes recently. I’m doing well in college, which means the world to me, not because I would feel like a failure otherwise but because it is another indicator that I’m not broken. I have struggled a lot with short-term memory issues in the wake of my assault last year. He caused a cortical contusion of the frontal lobe. He made my brain bleed. It was explained to me as shaken baby syndrome, just as an adult. The fact that I can still not only perform, but also perform well, in an academic setting is a huge victory for me. I am incredibly grateful for it.

The next big event… I attended Comic Con this past weekend. I was very apprehensive at first because I have a hard time even going to the grocery store. I experience high anxiety in public places, especially ones with open space and lots of people. I went to the Con with my cousins and felt little to no anxiety the whole day. It was amazing. I didn’t feel singled out or even the slightest bit threatened. That really bodes well for me. I don’t think I’m ready to try something similar by myself just yet, but it is most certainly a victory.

Aside from those happy things, I’ve spent more time thinking about my husband. I’ve been a little stressed lately as his parole hearing draws closer. I don’t sleep very well at all. If they grant him parole, he will go into federal custody and hopefully serve his 12-14 months in a facility MUCH closer to home. Furthermore, with the feds, he will actually have a set in stone release date. I’m beside myself just thinking about it. That in and of itself would make life exponentially sweeter. I would have a tangible date to look forward to, as well as a date with which I can really start putting effort into making arrangements for work when he comes home. I feel like it is a figurative light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. I long for it.

 

image

Ever since I’ve known him, he has had this uncanny ability to calm my anxiety. I was anxious before this nightmare started, but not when he was nearby. The prospect of him coming back home to me and restoring the sense of peace and security that left when he did is almost enough to bring me to tears. We have both more than paid his debt to society, in so many ways. Any prayers and affirmative wishes for the parole board’s decision are most certainly appreciated.

It’s funny how losing so much can make you realize how much it all means to you. I mean, I’m sure some turn bitter rather than grateful… I’m not bitter though. Not completely anyway. There are some elements of this nightmare that will very likely be an outrage until the day they put me in the ground. For the most part, though… I am grateful that he and I are alive, that we are sober, and that eventually we will get a shot at the future we dream of.

Silver linings are truly in everything. It just takes a keen and hopeful eye to see them. Take it from me: it’s worth it. Every last pain is worth the joy that comes from seeing the upsides and from holding onto the positive. I think that is really the only way to stay soft in a world designed to make us hard. If I could give just one piece of advice, that would be it. Stay soft. Seek the silver linings, despite how well hidden they seem to be.

 

You know, I think it’s kind of funny how a song, or a scent, or a movie/book title or cover, or really anything can spark a memory and take you so vividly back to a place and time long since past. It’s really an amazing phenomenon, how we create these associations with otherwise mundane things. It can be something positive or it can be awful. I’ve experienced both myself, but more so the latter in recent days. It’s referred to as a trigger in the negative context. It happened to me a few weeks ago when someone randomly squeezed off four shots on a Sunday night around midnight. My dogs stayed close by me and didn’t react how I would have expected them to. That was a long, restless night that led into a long, anxiety filled day. It was the absolute worst. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. My pulse kept quickening and dropping again for no apparent reason. It wasn’t a good day, but I survived. Today, on the other hand, I blessedly got to experience the flip side of this phenomenon. A song I hadn’t heard in ages came on, and it was a genre of music I’ve never followed adamantly myself. Before I even recognized the song, I was taken back to September of 2011, when I visited a dear friend outside of Houston, Texas. On our way home from the McDonald’s drive thru and that very song came on and he serenaded me; made me feel beautiful, made me feel wanted. There was always potential for us to have been great, but we were so different. We were at different places in our lives and it wasn’t meant to be. We parted on good terms, and I have nothing but fond memories of my time with him. I feel very fortunate that I can still experience these little gems of pure happiness from the past, since my more recent past is so polluted with ugly, awful things. It also helps reassure me that I’m not broken. The head injury I sustained has consistently altered the reliability of my short-term memory and it has been an obstacle in and of itself. My grey matter is still functioning though, and clearly is adamant about reminding me of that fact every now and then. (:

Here’s to the past. May it ever be a firm but nurturing teacher to prepare us for the future.

 

image

I like how it’s becoming a trend for me to arrive early to counseling and finding time to post here. How very fortuitous for me.

I’ve always known that I’m a hyper-emotional person. I feel my emotions in high def 1080p, both good and bad. I have long since accepted it for what it is and have adjusted accordingly. This last couple of weeks have brought my thoughts to this topic more than once though, in both positive and negative ways.

I suppose to begin with I was feeling pretty heavy last week because I hadn’t heard from my husband in a while and I was missing him, for many reasons. At the forefront of that was my ‘homework’ assignment from my counselor for last Thursday’s session (which ended up being canceled.) She asked me to write a letter to my assailant for her, to give her an opportunity to see into my feelings on the matter. She instructed me to wait until Wednesday evening or Thursday afternoon to write it, so that I wouldn’t have to suffer in the mindset all week long. This made sense to me because I have excellent coping skills in place. I don’t have time to fall apart, so the less time I spent on the thought process, the better. Unfortunately that is a good idea in theory only. The prospect of completing the task loomed over me basically the entire week. Just the idea of performing the task caused me a great deal more anxiety than I had anticipated. I was in a pretty somber mood all week long. Naturally, no mail from my husband, my best friend, my soulmate, definitely didn’t help matters.

Thursday afternoon, I dutifully put pen to paper on my lunch break and wrote the letter. I was a great deal angrier than I’d realized, and managed to scribble down three pages before I felt sufficiently vented. Within an hour or so before I was due to leave the office for my appointment, my counselor canceled. She offered to reschedule apologetically but being as busy as I am, I opted to wait until this Thursday, so I wouldn’t have to reshuffle my days. I strive to keep a very organized schedule. (Possibly yet another of my myriad of coping skills… control thing? I feel like I am very together when I have plans in place. Who knows?)

I left at the same time anyway, feeling pretty loaded down with the anger brought to the surface by the letter. I stewed in it some. I cleaned my home repeatedly, cooked as usual but opted to treat myself more than I usually would.. I have the mother of all sweet teeth. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I comfort eat… since moving to Texas, I’ve shed more than 100 lbs and am proud of that fact. I recognize the dangers of comfort eating in regards to keeping that weight off. I don’t deny myself little treats now and then though. I always found that I would eat more if I denied myself and then broke under the inward facing resentment. So I never deny myself. Anyway, I made it through the remainder of the week and got to visit my husband on Saturday. That was nice, but brought up a few unrelated stresses, which I promptly vented in inmate mail on Sunday. I learned on Saturday that he had written the letter I’d requested and put it in the mail Wednesday or Thursday and that it should be arriving any day now. I was hopeful it would be waiting for me when I got home Saturday – not so. That fouled my mood further. The letter I wrote Sunday definitely reflected the discontented nature of my mood.. it’s fortunate he knows me as well as he does. I’m sure it would be a great deal more distressing otherwise.

Well, here comes Monday… back to the grind and as stressful as work is sometimes, I’m still grateful for it. Performing my duties keeps me out of my head and keeps me busy. Time passes much more quickly and productively when I’m working. At quitting time on Monday, I hurry home, thinking the letter MUST be there today, surely. Not so. I almost fall apart this time. I cry for the first time in months. And really it’s silly. I just saw him Saturday. It’s really a very little thing. I’m so ate up by my mood and emotions though that it may as well be the end of the world.

I struggle through the work day Tuesday, in an awful mood and just generally displeased with the world. I head home at the end of the day and try not to be too hopeful about the letter, my reasoning being that if I don’t get my hopes up, I won’t be so upset if it isn’t there. Well apparently that worked. There was my inmate mail waiting for me when I got home. I was elated.. almost walking on sunshine. Scrawled across the front of the envelope in an unfamiliar hand was a note that said it had been delivered to the wrong address and to please redeliver. Now in my mood the previous week, I would have been all hellfire and brimstone over the screw up by the postman, as naturally I checked the address and my husband hadn’t erred. But instead all I felt was an overwhelming sense of gratitude to the accidental recipient of my letter for taking the time to write this and then put it back into the mail. I’d probably hug this person if I knew who they were.

Isn’t it funny how such little things can mean everything? That little gesture of selflessness by the hand of a stranger helped to completely alleviate my funk. Don’t get me wrong… my anger and general stress brought on by various aspects of life is still here. I still carry it. But it’s not a defining factor in who I am right now. It’s just something I do… not who I am. Moments like these where I am in tune with these little gems also make me feel like I really have it together. If that makes me crazy, so be it. I’m crazy. I’ll graciously accept that title and many others provided I keep getting to (and more importantly, remembering to) celebrate these little victories.

image

Well here I am, an hour early for therapy again. Tonight is group expression through art therapy. I am blessedly in much better headspace than I was last week. Seeing my inmate this past weekend may have had something to do with that. Or maybe it’s the continuously renewing revelation that I am so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people with such a rare and profound understanding for those things that are out of the ordinary. I truly am blessed, in spite of the card hand I’m still working on getting rid of. One day at a time. I do get better every day.

I mentioned some things last week that I’ve mulled over more than a few times since I wrote them down. I’d like to revisit them again, from this more positive headspace. I had said I’d accomplished many things on my own in spite of circumstances. There have been many questions and criticisms over the last year, some more positive than others. One of the most common ones “why don’t you just come home?” I am home. The actions of one sad, sick man cannot drive me away from my home. I arrived here following an uncertain path, true… but it was, and is, my path. I will follow it through until the end. My nature will allow nothing less.

Following the incident last year, I went through something of an identity crisis. My compassion and kindness were some of the factors that created an impossible and horrific situation. I struggled with the fact that I’ve always strived to be true to myself – to the person I knew myself to be. But how could I rationally maintain that mentality when key components of the person I knew myself to be had nearly gotten me killed? It scared me to think, that if I forced myself to toughen up and evolve my nature, that I may not recognize nor like the person I would become. Furthermore, I feared that my inmate might not love the person I would become. Those were very dark days. I finally resolved myself to the mentality that my choices – the act of kindness and compassion – were a reflection of me. It was a reflection of a good person in a world where there were very few good people, whereas what he did to me was a reflection of him. I decided I had to stay true to my convictions, because I had worked hard and endured trials throughout my life that molded the person I am. I earned the right to be me. No one can take that from me.

 

image

Another line of questioning I hear a lot of has to do with my inmate. Why wait around? Why struggle through this? There are plenty of fish in the sea. To this I have answered a great many ways, primarily among which was: not for me. If you read the first couple of entries in this blog, you will glimpse the history between my inmate & I. I truly believe with every fiber of my being that we are destined to be. I am a spiritual woman by nature… a healthy skeptic of things I cannot see and explain. But I see Design in us. I believe forces beyond my understanding have orchestrated everything that has transpired our entire lives to bring us to where we are. How can I possibly walk away from that? I may as well carve out my own heart for all the good it would do.

image

Life is hard for everyone. We all have our own trials and roadblocks and tests. They may look different but so do we. We are all products of our own environments and experiences. It only makes sense that the obstacle courses of each of our lives are different. I choose to press on. Knowing myself how I do, I can’t imagine doing anything else. How do you go back to black & white when you’ve been living in Technicolor HD?

I am forever changed, and that’s okay. Tomorrow is another day with new opportunities for personal growth and repair. I wonder sometimes if I’m broken. I don’t think I am. I might be a little chipped, with a few pieces to put back together, but I am far from shattered. Frankly I don’t have time to be shattered. There is too much to do: too much rebuilding of my life and a life for my inmate to come home to. I have no time to sit and cry in the corner.

 

image

I feel I’ve gotten a little bolder since I learned that my assailant is in federal holding a few hours away, not due to be released until fall of 2017. I’ve been spending more time in public, less fearful of everything that moves. I’m no longer afraid that he’s going to jump out from behind every corner. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath and just now, months later, I’m able to breathe again. It’s a very good feeling. I get a little better every day.

image