It’s an everyday struggle to try to stay on the right path. A lot of people want to try to take you out of character and bring you down to their level. I personally decided that the day I got here, I would refuse to pick up new habits. I have no plans to make a career out of coming to prison. I came here to do my time, to become a better mother, sister and daughter, but most importantly a better person. There are plenty of opportunities to help us better ourselves and to help us to have a brighter future, but so many women are set in their ways. They come to prison and continue to maintain the lifestyle that they had at home, just in a more confined space.
My inbox says I have 2 emails. I click each and discover that one is from the chaplain, something about being thankful for our situation yadda-yadda–I promptly click delete. The other email is from the medical department.
In the letters I’ve received from women incarcerated across the country a theme has emerged. When I think about it I should have seen it ahead of time because it’s no different from what us men go through. Yet I imagined that somehow incarceration is different for them, that perhaps it’s happier.” Maybe,” I used to think, “that they don’t suffer from the same things that us men sometimes do. Maybe they don’t struggle with feelings of shame and failure or hope that someone at home will answer the phone. Maybe things are different.”
As a man, I’ve sometimes thought of how I have failed. If I had a family of my own these feelings would only magnify to include feelings of failure as a parent. I know this would be true, because I witness the longing and struggle guys around me go through as they try to remain a part of their children’s lives. In some ways I’m thankful not to have these problems, but in others I long for what could have been.
Today’s essay is by Tara Snyder, of whom is incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Her ability to put these truths to the written word grabbed me from the moment I read her essay. These are the things we prisoners experience and struggle with. They are universal, no matter your gender or where you are incarcerated.
Next of kin. Sign here, my case manager points, and I’ll notarize. At 34 years old I’ve never really put a lot of thought into what would happen when I die. But I suppose I never put a lot of thought about coming to prison for 4 years either “ until now.”
As days turn into weeks and weeks pass into months you realize just because your life stops upon coming to prison, no one else’s does.
MONDAY 9/21/20: I’m standing outside in front of the housing unit with one of the dogs that I’m watching today. She’s a 2 year old sheepdoodle, a cross look between poodle and sheep fluff, and we’re inside the fenced in dog run in front of the unit. There’s an ambulance driving across the yard–again. The “freeze in place” order went out over the radio several minutes ago instructing everyone to stay inside their housing units or wherever they were before the call. I’m the only person on the yard. Continue reading “The Week the Apocalypse Arrived”→
What is an “inmate”? What is a “convict”? Throughout my writings I’ve used both terms interchangeably, but they are in fact very different. Here in prison call 10 different men an “inmate” and you are likely to get 10 varied responses ranging from outright anger and aggression to complimentary thanks. The same can be said about calling 10 others “convicts”. The culture of prison, or what today’s returning guest writer calls the prison(er) mentality, influences response.