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  #1  
Old 08-20-2019, 03:50 PM
HarmonyTJ2019 HarmonyTJ2019 is offline
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Default New to this- Anyone else with a parent in prison?

Iím new this this whole prison thing. My father self surrendered about a month ago to a prison in New Jersey. Itís a lot of to sort through. Heís 7 hours away from home, and Iím having trouble adjusting to the lack of control on when I talk to him, see him, etc. Its hard hard dealing with the emotional aspect of feeling like youíve lost a parent in a way, but navigating the prison world which I have zero experience with, is confusing and frustrating. Iíve decided not to tell anyone really, so only close family knows the situation. It was a personal choice, but it can be isolating and lonely. Is anyone else dealing with something similar? Any advice?
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Old 08-20-2019, 05:09 PM
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Welcome to Prison Talk. I was the parent, and my family experienced the same issues as you are. Since I was always in prisons from 1200 to 2500 miles away from home, in person visits were rare, so we adjusted with frequent phone calls and occasional letters. I was not allowed email, but if I had been, that would have been utilized too.

As few family members/friends as possible know that I was in prison. The people I thought I was close to when I became newsworthy all knew, but most of them were quick to sever our relationships.

Your Dad is probably experiencing the same abandonment from his supposed buddies, so your love and support will mean even more to him now. Prison is purposely confusing and difficult for both inmates and for their loved ones, so all you can do is the best you can do. Not easy, but extremely meaningful.
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  #3  
Old 08-20-2019, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by HarmonyTJ2019 View Post
Iím new this this whole prison thing. My father self surrendered about a month ago to a prison in New Jersey. Itís a lot of to sort through. Heís 7 hours away from home, and Iím having trouble adjusting to the lack of control on when I talk to him, see him, etc. Its hard hard dealing with the emotional aspect of feeling like youíve lost a parent in a way, but navigating the prison world which I have zero experience with, is confusing and frustrating. Iíve decided not to tell anyone really, so only close family knows the situation. It was a personal choice, but it can be isolating and lonely. Is anyone else dealing with something similar? Any advice?
fbopnomore said it best!
My dad did time, I was not allowed to see or speak to him (mom is to blame for that, I was young). I ended up in jail at 19 though, and served a total of two years. I had a 2 year old at the time, I even met my now husband during sentencing, but still even after ALL that I had a rough time adjusting to the absence of control; what I could and could not wear for a visit, how many times a day we can speak and for how long, not to hug for more than 30 seconds, one quick kiss at arrival and one at end of visit ((I was band for months due to kissing my husband too long))... I met him 20 years ago and hun, I'm still not use to this - I'm still torn up over loving someone in prison.

You're fortunate to have one another, make the best of it, we aren't guaranteed tomorrow. Lately I've been driving to and from work with extreme caution, I want to be here in tacked when my husband gets out.

Be a window of fresh air for pops, this distance may bring him closer into your life than you can currently imagine.
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Old 08-21-2019, 05:57 AM
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My Dad was arrested in 2011, his bail set very high due to flight risk, and he spent his time waiting for sentencing in county jail. I was state's witness (not by choice) and was not allowed to speak to him at all until after sentencing. He was sentenced in 2012, and died of lung cancer (that none of us, including him, knew he had) in 2014.

It was horrible. Not being able to talk to him. Being constrained to intermittent phone calls and letters. I was lucky that he was put in a prison reasonably close to where I live (I could make it there and back for visitation in one day), so I could visit him regularly.

The prison system is labyrinthine at best and downright hostile at worst to family members. I spent a lot of time figuring out how things worked, both on my side and on his.

The first time I visited him, I cried all the way home. It took about 6 months before I could visit without crying my way home.

I loved my Dad dearly, though many thought he was not deserving of my love. Your father may try to push you away - he may try to "insulate" you from embarrassment by trying to chase you off so you're not associated with him. This is pretty common from what I understand. If you hold out and listen to your own heart instead of what he's trying to do (my Dad called me names and threatened to disown me so many times, I can't remember them all. He tried to chase me away), then you'll be fine. It won't be easy, but it will settle out.

I was lucky to be able to visit my dad every couple of weeks. I got used to the visitation room, I got used to the separation, I got used to the rules. Eventually, the visitation room sort of felt like a living room where Dad and I got to talk.

If you need support, you're in the right place. We're here to help and many of us understand what it's like. I believe it's a similar psychological phenomenon to what people go through when a loved on goes missing and can't be found. There's disbelief, and there's a state of suspended life animation - you don't want to believe he's gone, you can't grapple with the idea that he's not still at home and only a phone call or email away.

But we humans, as a species, are highly adaptable. You will adapt to the new circumstances eventually. It will become "normal" eventually. He will find his footing too.

In some ways, my relationship with my Dad improved immensely after he'd gone to prison.

But where you are right now? Right now, you probably are grieving the loss of him - not in that he died, but you have lost the ability to contact him at will, you have lost the ability to see him at will, you have lost the ability to help him. And all of that is a big loss, especially if you were close.

I suggest writing letters. I kept a bound journal by my bedside and would "write" letters to him that I never had any intention of letting him see. I wrote out everything I wanted to say to him but couldn't (for whatever reason).

A word of caution on writing letters/emails: all letters/emails are scanned and saved, and phone calls are recorded and saved. Anything you say having to do with his crime or sentencing is saved. Don't talk about anything that wasn't brought up in court. It can lead to more charges. Save that for visitation when you're face-to-face (if you're on a phone and he's on the opposite side of a sheet of glass, those conversations are recorded and saved also).

I know your heart is breaking right now. I was a mess for the first year or so. It does get better; it does get easier. I wish you luck and the patience to wait out the awful that starts the process.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:55 AM
HarmonyTJ2019 HarmonyTJ2019 is offline
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Thank you all so much for sharing your stories and showing support. All of our stories are different, yet the pain we experience and our families experience is the same.

I guess in some ways Iím lucky compared to others dealing with this, but my immediate family has been very supportive. My dad has 2 friends that know that have also been supportive and not turned their backs. My dad was always a wonderful father and itís hard for me to see him any other way. He has owned up and taken responsibility for his actions from the day he got caught. I was the one in denial at first and I remember him gently saying ďno... there has no been a mistake. I did this.Ē I appreciate that bc itís been easier for me to learn to accept this and he had 2 years to get help before sentencing, which Iím sure helped his case. hell, on the way to federal prison, the man didnít want to take coffee from a hotel lobby since we werenít staying there.

I do feel like Iím being punished too. The federal prison system seems so strict and I hate that I can barely talk to my dad, and that seeing him will be less than Iíd like and take careful planning. I break down and cry a lot. I feel exhausted from trying to take in all of this information and from living my life as if everything is okay. Luckily, my dads case didnít get a ton of media attention, minus a small article in the local newspaper so I donít think a ton of people know. Or maybe they do. I pretend they donít for now.

Thanks again for the support everyone. Itís comforting to be part of a community of understanding people.
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Old 08-22-2019, 06:02 AM
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I break down and cry a lot. I feel exhausted from trying to take in all of this information
I was exhausted for about 2 years. I cried constantly. I also yelled and ranted and raved and generally shouted at the darkness for about the same period of time.

You are not alone. Finding a way to accept that he did what he did while also believing that your Dad is still the man you thought he was? That's a fine wire to walk. I did it by talking to many other people, and here's what I learned:

Imagine that the worst thing you ever did in life was broadcast to the entire world. It would be humiliating at best, and soul crushing at worst. But all your friends and family? You aren't any different than you were before they found out your secret.

That is to say that your Dad is not any different than he was before his arrest. He just had a secret prior to his arrest that you didn't know about. But all of the rest of him? That's still the same person. He's still your Dad. How would he react if he found out your deepest darkest most closely held secret?

All the good things and fun times you had before learning his secret? None of those have changed.

Your Dad is not the sum total of his conviction. Remember that when you think of him. No person is the sum total of any one part of them.

My heart goes out to you.
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:07 AM
HarmonyTJ2019 HarmonyTJ2019 is offline
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I was exhausted for about 2 years. I cried constantly. I also yelled and ranted and raved and generally shouted at the darkness for about the same period of time.

You are not alone. Finding a way to accept that he did what he did while also believing that your Dad is still the man you thought he was? That's a fine wire to walk. I did it by talking to many other people, and here's what I learned:

Imagine that the worst thing you ever did in life was broadcast to the entire world. It would be humiliating at best, and soul crushing at worst. But all your friends and family? You aren't any different than you were before they found out your secret.

That is to say that your Dad is not any different than he was before his arrest. He just had a secret prior to his arrest that you didn't know about. But all of the rest of him? That's still the same person. He's still your Dad. How would he react if he found out your deepest darkest most closely held secret?

All the good things and fun times you had before learning his secret? None of those have changed.

Your Dad is not the sum total of his conviction. Remember that when you think of him. No person is the sum total of any one part of them.

My heart goes out to you.
All of this. You hit the nail on the head with exactly how Iím feeling. Itís nice to have people who get what youíre going through and where you donít have to be ashamed or embarrassed.
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