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Now That Your Loved One Is Home... Please share stories about your loved one now they are home.

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Old 12-15-2017, 02:48 PM
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Default One Year

Well, technically it'll be one year on Sunday. But it's her birthday weekend (in fact, today is her birthday) and things are slow at work today so I am going to go ahead and do the "annual update."

First off....wow. One year. One wonderful, amazing, sometimes-trying, but always blessed year. I think that, in and of itself, needs to be acknowledged. The most dangerous time for recidivism, in my experience, is that first year, and it seems like months 6-12 are a big time in terms of the women I've known who have been in and out of the prison system. I don't think you ever truly eliminate the chance that someone is going to go back to prison....much like thse who never have been before can't truly predict they will never find themselves in a situation. But I do think one year free is a huge accomplishment, even if the way to get there is simply to get out of bed each day, put one foot in front of the other, and don't go off-course. (It's easier said than done.) I am incredibly proud of her. And while our relationship has always been good, I feel like over the past month or so something's clicked on in her head and our relationship has gotten more "normal." She used to hold back a lot of things from me. Even though she trusted me, she just wasn't comfortable talking about some things.....consider it built-up trauma from being abused in multiple ways growing up, having a bad marriage, and having people betray her time and time again across the course of her life. Things have been changing for us. For the better. And I have high hopes our relationship and her life in general will continue trending this way in Year 2 post-release.

Dee doesn't have any secrets to success to share, but I'll try to teach a few lessons I've learned in talking to her. I've talked with her a bit about this recently, and maybe she'll have some more thoughts later, but to this point she basically has said that it's an issue of self-will. For her, this is really a decision she made one day back in September 2011. The decision didn't come when she was at the gate or even in prison or even, for that matter, in County Jail. Instead, it came on the day where she said she finally realized that she could trust me because of a decision that I made that went against everything that I believe.

I'm going to tell you a short story here, about an addict, a scared woman facing prison time and ready to run away, leave behind not only me but her family, and essentially live life on the run. She was on bail, she'd picked up the second charge, and basically the only reason she was free was because I'd made the effort to keep her out. The judge was considering imposing an enhancement bail but let us go to lunch on a two hour break (we took that time so she could show me where her car was parked and she could leave some things in it, the idea being that if she did go to jail that day I'd be able to locate it and safekeep the items and get the car to her parents.) On the way back she was just in a state. I looked at her and said "I saw you put something in my glove box earlier. It's drugs, isn't it?" "Yeah." "You're coming out of your skin. I can't believe I'm saying this.....but getting you sober can wait right now. You need to take a hit." So I found a quiet spot away from anything that I knew, told her "I'm going to get out of the car and give you five minutes to do what you have to do (she later revealed that if I'd stayed in the car she wouldn't have done it because she was embarassed,) and then we're going to go back to the courthouse and figure out what comes next." 99% of the time I'd say that was absolutely the wrong call. But she recently revealed to me that those 5 minutes taught her two things. 1.) that she could trust me, that I understood, and that I was willing to "think of out of the box" and 2.) if her life had spiraled to a point where she was embarassed by her actions, it was time to stop running, take responsibility for what she had done in her life, and face the consequences and try to get sober. Sobriety...that was a difficult road. It took a while, but now she's been sober for over two years, and she ultimately made the decision on her own. Enabling her addiction in that moment...not something I was proud of. But I also didn't have a better answer right then. I weighed the consequences of letting her get high as opposed to walking her into court sober and anxious. I wasn't the one facing a judge. I wasn't the one who was facing losing their freedom in the next few hours. Maybe now I would have handled it differently. But at that moment...I didn't have better answers.

She doesn't like to talk verbally much when her sister's around when we get into serious discussions, so I can quote her directly.

On the day we were due back in court and she was afraid she was going to wind up back in:
"It was that day that I knew I could trust you because you understood how badly I needed to do that and also that I needed privacy to do it because I couldn't have done it in front of you. I was ashamed."

"I know it was hard for you because I know how you feel about drugs and sobriety, but you were right. I was thinking of running away and never coming back. Part of me wanted to do that, but I said 'fuck this' and that was the day I started taking responsibility for my actions. I realized that I wanted to see my family again. Right then I needed a push to get through the process of letting the system start to try to break me down for my sins. It was like I was ready to accept defeat, which I had never done before. I feel like I had to go to prison to find myself in a place where it would be hard to run away and hide from what I was doing with my life. As strange as it seems, those few minutes, seeing what I had to do to myself just to function and get through something, were what allowed me to make the decision to change my life."

So I guess that's part of the key of post-release success....it has to start BEFORE release. It comes at different times for different people, but it's sort of that "Ah HA!" moment. And then it has to be re-enforced. I've let Dee make her own decisions and her own mistakes. I've shown her trust to do things even when I don't think they're the right things. I've allowed her to grow rather than deny her the opportunity to see for herself that bad decisions have potentially bad consequences. For 7 1/2 years now, even pre-dating prison, I have always given her the freedom to decide for herself, to make decisions, and to go about her business and go her own way if she wants to. She has always come back. And now, she isn't really drifting toward that path at all.

Her kids...are still an issue. But whereas they were a major obstacle for us before, she's now of the mentality of "they're missing out. I wish that they would mellow out and accept that I want to love and be loved, that it's not a bad thing. I wish they would do that because I think that if they really opened up to the idea that a relationship would be good for me, they'd come to love you and to see you as someone who's a positive in their lives too. Heck, you have been and they just don't know. You always made sure they got something from me for Christmas and you always did your best to get me home so I could be with them. I wish they knew...." Even 2 months ago this wasn't the attitude. So again...something has shifted there. For the better.

She spends a good amount of time helping her sister with her kids right now so her sister can go back to school (Cosmetology) while her brother-in-law is overseas doing a tour with the U.S. Navy. She's planning to go back to school some time next year herself. We've been doing research...before she got locked up she was trying to learn medical billing and coding and was doing well in classes. Our research indicates that she can still go into that field with a felony, and she's working with Department of Rehab to attempt to go back to school again and this time complete the program and hopefully find at least some part-time work, if not a career. At the same time....I am kind of glad she didn't rush into it. The first several months were hard, particularly dealing with depression and re-adjustment. Her post-incarceration experience was not as bad as I have heard some inmates having upon release, but there was definitely a transition that had to occur. Factoring in the difficulty with her kids and the tendency for her parents to be a bit over-protective and worried (which she acknowledges is something that bothers her but at the same time she said "it's frustrating, but at the same time it feels good to know they care....now if they'd just get off my back a little bit so I don't have to say we're going to the movies when we're really slipping off to a hot tub resort for a couple of hours....") there was definitely some trust to be won and obstacles to get over. But it's getting better.

A highlight and a lowlight:
Highlight: Definitely have to go with going to one of my friends' daughters' weddings in early November. This was also when I felt like our relationship started to really change trajectories for the better....we went from sort of a simple, loving-but-comfortably-distant (well, for her) relationship that was nice but limited in terms of growth and movement......comfortable, satisfying, and I could have stayed there but I was hoping for improvement.....to drawing so much closer, what I wanted, what I thought, maybe, wasn't possible not because of me but because of where she was emotionally and mentally. That night we danced, we ate, we socialized, we had a really great time. I felt like she really started to come out of her shell. And everyone accepted her. I think it might have been the first time she was in a social setting and didn't feel like people were looking at her like she was a criminal or that she had been to prison. The kicker: my friend's ex-husband is one of the top Deputy DA's in the state (serious guy, has handled both gang and death penalty crimes in his career, has ambition to run for DA of the County he resides in next election cycle.) He went out of his way to make sure that we were having a good time and to talk to her personally....but not about where she had been, but to make sure she was doing okay (she stepped out to deal with a situation with one of her daughters for about 20 minutes at one point.) A great night. I think it made her feel "normal." And that's a big thing for her.

Lowpoint: after an argument, she decided to try to seek out a lot of people she used to commit crimes with. She knew that I knew where some of them were so she was saying "okay, so where's he? Where's she? You know where their Facebooks are?" This lasted about 12 hours, and while I think that she was doing it just to test me and kind of remind me of how things could have been in a negative way, I can't say for sure that she wasn't on the verge of going back to that lifestyle in that moment. Probably our most trying moment. Within a couple of days she was past the anger and things got back to normal. She didn't contact anyone, and she hasn't tried to since. As to why I helped her track people down and gave her the information I had...I felt like in a moment of conflict, I still had to show trust and give her the freedom to make her own decision. A hard pill to swallow, but she did say, once clearer heads prevailed so to speak, that it showed once again that she could trust me and that when I was giving her the information it kind of killed off her desire to speak to those people because she knew that I didn't want her to but wasn't fighting her on it. "You gave me the freedom to make my own decision. I thought you'd try to stop me. Instead you trusted me. that shocked me. Nobody's done that for me before in a situation like that. It wasn't what I was expecting."

So, one year out, insights I can provide to people who are anticipating their LO's coming home.
1.) IT IS NOT A CAKEWALK. That initial high you're going to feel when they come out the gate? The whirlwind of wonderful that seems to accompany most post-release experiences and lasts a few weeks or maybe, at most a few months? That's going to fade. Your LO is going to have some difficulties at some point. For those who's loved ones are releasing to parole or some other similar supervision.....While Parole has been easier than we thought it would be, it is definitely not easy and every once in a while a PO is going to remind you that the state still controls what you can and cannot do, where you can and cannot go (even if we violate that 50 mile rule all the time LOL!) I read a lot of stories that talk about a honeymoon period. Then either how it flamed out, or the member just disappears. I've also read a lot of stories about relationships that have succeeded and are going strong months, years, even decades later. It seems like most relationships that survived did so because both the inmate and the outmate, post-release, have understood how serious a relationship and the transition time is. So if you're expecting your LO home, please keep that in mind.
2.) Good relationships take time and patience, and those things become much different once they're released. In the past you have been only able to visit occasionally and talk 10-15 minutes at a time. They were in a place you could not stay and they could not leave. Adjusting to living together again, or even dating (my goal with Dee was always, if possible, to live separately upon release and have a "normal dating life" to make sure we really were compatible in the "real world" and not have a painful separation of assets if she got out and we couldn't stand each other....) YOU are going to go through adjustments too. THEY are going to, in some cases, have to completely adjust their approach to communication and technology. Upon release, Dee knew cell phones were more advanced, and so she'd get frustrated if I didn't respond to a text message within about 30 seconds. Almost like the idea that if I wasn't there right that second, she wasn't going to get a response because in prison, you couldn't. So yeah...things we take for granted in our world, how we communicate with other people.....is going to feel very new for them even if it has only been a few years (and imagine how much harder it will be for someone who was using pagers and finding pay phones the last time they were in the free world!) Make time for them. Be patient with them. Don't get angry if their expectations of how you relate and communicate aren't what you're used to or seem like they were norms 20 years ago. In some cases, the last time they had relationships on the outside WERE 20 years ago. Or even more! But even a smaller time gap like 5 years makes a difference.
3.) Trust them to make their own decisions. Because here's a reality: they're not going to be cool with being dependent on you to make every choice for them the rest of their life. Some, upon release, may have a hard time making decisions. And you can help them with that. But understand that's probably temporary. Unless they've made it clear they're having difficulty, making unsolicited decisions for them 6 months after release is probably not going to fly with most of them. Work on knowing when they need your help with something...and otherwise leave them alone.
4.) IT MIGHT NOT WORK OUT. And I say this as someone where it is working out. Why would I say it? Because, go back to point one: IT'S NOT A CAKEWALK. You and your LO are going to exit the honeymoon phase at some point and the relationship will have challenges. Like every relationship. Be willing to accept this reality and use it as an opportunity to ask yourself what you need in a relationship and to cross-check on what they need in a relationship. If you go with the mentality that it might not work out....but don't look at it pessimistically....I think that improves the chances that it WILL work out.

To those of you who have had successes post-incarceration, I think most of you know this.

To those of you who had failure post-incarcertaion, I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking "yeah......this rings true."

And to those of you anticipating your loved ones coming home, whether it's in a few weeks, a few months, a few years or even a decade or more....I hope there is something you can take away from this post.

I wish you all a blessed holiday season, and look forward to continuing to share our story.

-E
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Old 12-16-2017, 05:36 AM
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Thank you so much for sharing all this!

All the best to you & Dee going forward!
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Old 12-17-2017, 01:09 PM
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Thank you. Today is officially "The Day." Prison seems like such a distant memory at times for both of us.....looking back, as an outmate, I see everything we went through and have no idea sometimes how we got through the time since everything just feels so cumulative. I hope that I've been able to shine a little light for some people who have gone through this or who are still going through this.

One Year.
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Old 12-17-2017, 06:52 PM
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Thank you! Each relationship has problems. With time and patience I hope my LO and I can look back and say "It's not a cakewalk, thank goodness we made it."
Your post and stories have always given me inspiration to continue.
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Old 12-17-2017, 07:05 PM
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I'll admit I didn't read all of that post. I skimmed and read what I felt nessasary lol. I do that to all long posts. But anyway congrats on one year. I can't believe it's been a year already that went so fast.
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Old 12-17-2017, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by nygirl17 View Post
I'll admit I didn't read all of that post. I skimmed and read what I felt nessasary lol. I do that to all long posts. But anyway congrats on one year. I can't believe it's been a year already that went so fast.


It’s a bit lengthy, although it might not be a bad thing to reflect on when you’re getting really close to his date next year, just as some food for thought. I am confident you guys will be fine though.....your turn to post your story here will be here before you know it!
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Old 12-17-2017, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by missingdee View Post
It’s a bit lengthy, although it might not be a bad thing to reflect on when you’re getting really close to his date next year, just as some food for thought. I am confident you guys will be fine though.....your turn to post your story here will be here before you know it!
I know the months are going by so fast Makes me so happy. I will go back and read your entire post though Can't wait for 2018
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Old 01-02-2018, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by missingdee View Post
Thank you. Today is officially "The Day." Prison seems like such a distant memory at times for both of us.....looking back, as an outmate, I see everything we went through and have no idea sometimes how we got through the time since everything just feels so cumulative. I hope that I've been able to shine a little light for some people who have gone through this or who are still going through this.

One Year.

I love reading your new update/post. Thank you so much, Missing Dee for sharing this.

I am happy you're doing well with your significant other. I've read this a couple x already. Love it...
-
Gracia. y'(and) Happy New Year 2018 for you and your loved one."Hugs -n- Blessings... Adios.
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