I spend alot of time thinking. Most of the time it’s about current events and happenings in my life, but sometimes I find myself thinking back upon the past. I know I’ve said it before, but time has a way of putting things into perspective. My first year incarcerated was a frightful one. I learned through trial by fire how to survive in This World. You either fight to survive or you fold and are swallowed into oblivion behind these walls. That first year was a lonely one for me. Not so much because I had no one here that I could talk to, but because I realized for the first time that family is all that matters in life.
During that first year, my attempts at communication with family were shunned. My calls were rejected, and my letters went unanswered. My brothers eventually, grudgingly reestablished arms length communication with me and for the first 12 months or so were my only link to family. Eventually we reconnected and started anew, but initially it was a different story with my parents.
The first visit I had with family came after my first year. It was with my father and his wife. Since they lived out of state, visiting involved great time, expense, and inconvenience for them. I was extremely nervous. The thought of family coming to a place like this, having to sit in a tiny visitation room that was cold, noisy and filled with convicts and their visitors made me nauseous. It was yet another glaring reminder of how much I had let everyone down.
The night before my first visit I tried to sleep, but sleep fled me. My thoughts were of things I wanted to say, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not organize them. I couldn’t shake the nagging fear that once family was seated in front of me they would come to their senses, leave and never return. The following day I went onto my visit around 8:00 am–tired, fearful and stressed out.
The visit lasted all morning and afternoon. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination. It was filled with tense moments, and moments of anger and disappointment from my parents. For the first time since my arrest they were able to sit face to face with me and express how they felt.
My first visit with family was the first step in a long journey of first steps to reconnect, to start anew, to evolve into the person I am today. If you had asked me then what I thought the future held, I probably would’ve said, “improbabilities and shattered dreams.”
In hindsight, this difficult journey of years has been positive because it has brought me to where I am today with my family. It has taught me humility and understanding. It made me realize how important family is, and it taught me that no matter how difficult life becomes, the future is what we choose it to be. It has changed my life.
For most inmates, the first visit is the most difficult. It’s often the first time family has been able to sit face to face with their son or daughter since their arrest and conviction, and it’s often emotional. The first visit is difficult because you are forced to face the truth of your actions. You witness that truth in the form of the pain and suffering, anger and disappointment you see on the faces of those you love and that love you.
Then there are those whose first visit is with a wife or significant other. I know so many men who’ve come back from these visits deflated and defeated. These visits often mark the beginning of the end of marriages, and they leave victims in their wake in the form of one’s children. For those rare times where a first visit marks a turning point for the better in a marriage or relationship, the path forward is never smooth. However, relationships that can endure the test of incarceration often emerge strengthened and for the better.
The first visit is often a test of the strength of family bonds. They have the ability to mark new beginnings or to put the finality on endings.
*If you enjoyed this post, please like and share with your friends. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing for you! Also, if you know of other blogs written by inmates, please let me know because I enjoy reading what other guys write. Frankly, it helps keep me sane.