|15 Minutes from pick up to hang up; a letter sent only to be received 22 days later; an email from an outside source, delivered to my in box days later…
Being in love while in prison, and your whole relationship is recorded and monitored. Love isn’t supposed to be hard. Loving him comes easier than breathing.
But what is hard are the dark days. When you have an overwhelming need to feel your man beside you, to feel his arms around you. Nights waking up in tears and reaching out for him, only to be reminded where you are and where he is.
When you’re at home you call or have a conversation with your significant other, and you think nothing of it. But when you’re both incarcerated, you hold on to the few moments that you get in real time. You replay the phone conversations in your head. Hearing each others voice helps ground you, reminding you why you continue to wake up every day and continue to push forward. I smile at the most random moments and thoughts of him–his pictures, letters, cards– help get me through til our next phone call.
His letters are my most cherished possessions. Knowing he lingered over these same pages, spent hours touching the same piece of paper, letting his thoughts find its way on to the page, makes me feel as close as possible to him within the circumstances.
There are years and miles between our release, but I’ve never felt closer to or wanted anyone more than I do him in my entire life. Before him I was going about my time in autopilot mode. Just breathing and stumbling around. Once he came into my life I woke up and started to live again.
In a place where negativity can consume your entire existence, discovering someone that makes you happy can feel too good to be true. He not only makes you happy but understands the true meaning of TIME, incarceration, and what it takes to walk through this journey. Yearning for the same things together.
You begin to grow with that person, lift each other up on the harder days, discover other ways of communication. Exercising your mental creativity on how to get to know each other physically, sexually and mentally. Discovering you’ve found your purpose for being in prison. You’ve met your soulmate and everything begins to make sense.
Nowhere in our sentence (mine or his) does it say we aren’t allowed to be happy. This is the happiest I’ve ever been in my entire life, and I’m in prison with 13 and a half years to go. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. My love is being recorded and monitored, as I tell all.
I love you.
Happy 7 months!
Felicia (Ohio Reformatory for Women)
I think everyone discovers, as a matter of due course in life, that reality sucks. We’re birthed into this world–by no choice of our own, mind you–and thrown into the madness of life.
”Good luck kid,” says Mother Nature, ”you’ll be lucky if you make it.” And with innocent eyes the child replies to this statement of fact, as all children inevitably do, with blind love and optimism.
And so, one endures and from time to time suffers in life, but none so much as prisoners do. ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering”. Ain’t that the truth. But this quote would be more accurate if it were ”The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering, lest you die first.”
Perfection? I’ve often wondered what Master Eckhardt meant by that. Isn’t perfection in the eye of the beholder? Must I really suffer to perfect the things I yearn to master?
As a prisoner I move to and fro in my cage like the hamster whose world he can see in totality. Unlike the hamster, I am aware. Yet, we prisoners share similar lives as with our hamster brethren. We blindly march from point A to point B. Forever marching to nowhere, the chow hall, the yard, the cell block–everything repetitive, and like the day before. I’d argue with Meister Eckhardt I suffered not in perfecting that.
Behind these uncaring walls suffering thrives. Men wither beneath the calloused hand of time. I see, yet don’t notice, for my mind has conditioned itself to filter the misery from the visual.
And so I go about my days passing by the sick and forlorn, the mad and aggrieved. I see not the man who cries when he thinks no one is looking, nor do I take in the aggrieved voices of the suffering. I stopped seeing and hearing years ago.
Does it really matter? After all, from suffering speeds perfection. Eventually these men will perfect what they seek. Some seek to extricate themselves from fading relationships, others seek a way out from the talons of pain of having lost loved ones while imprisoned.
I’ve suffered and I’ve submitted beneath time’s cruel claws. I’ve long since perfected. So I wander about within my cage content to pursue the things that matter to me, intentionally blind to those who haven’t. A hamster in it’s little world.
And like the hamster we prisoners exist until we don’t. Perfected in the end.
Christopher (Madison Correctional Institution) (OH)
Brutally Honest By Felicia (Ohio Reformatory for Women) (OH) Forward By Christopher (Madison Correctional) (OH)
Few jails across the country are properly equipped to handle female prisoners. I know this because I’ve heard from female prisoners in 22 states. There’s no consistency. This is in stark contrast to the widespread standard states adhere to when handling male prisoners. Why is this?
In part 6 of this series ”From County Jail to Prison’‘ Jennifer in WI wrote about the dehumanizing journey she endured while being shuffled from county jail to county jail. I wish I could say that her experience was unique, but it isn’t.
What comes to mind when you hear the word jail? Some Hollywood image perhaps? Consider what doesn’t come to mind and you’ll be closer to the truth.
If I asked 100 people ”What comes to mind when you hear the word jail?” maybe 5 would speak of the female population. Sadly, those in jail, and those who run them, would answer this question similarly.
Women have been punished, disciplined and locked up for just as long as men. So how come we are forgotten when blueprints are being drawn up for these facilities? When procedures are being put into motion? And what about necessities for mother nature? They’re often nowhere on the list of supplies.
We have all of these ”ME TOO” movements, campaigns bringing awareness and giving women a voice. But what about the women behind bars? On a daily basis there are vulgar comments made to women just like myself, men undressing us with their eyes, coming into our shower and bathroom areas–not all, but some–making you feel like it’s more for their own curiosity and pleasures. What about us women feeling like we have to allow these men to have their way in fear of a trip to the hole? Or fear of retaliation? Where is our voice?
So the next time someone asks ‘What comes to mind when you hear the word jail?”, really think about it. What if your daughter, mother or sister was locked up? Would that change your opinion on how things are for women behind bars?
Felicia (ORW) (Ohio)
This opinion was penned by Jeff Collins, an inmate incarcerated at (NCCC) in Ohio.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity, do ordain and establish in this constitution for the United States of America.”
I remember a time not too long ago when I was a kid in elementary school, where I first learned the preamble, the Declaration of Independence, and the Pledge of Allegiance. I was taught the general history of the former 13 colonies, and the later
I got the second dose of the Moderna vaccine this morning.
It’s an important moment. Well, that is, important enough to us prisoners. How did it go? It was anything but good.
This is what happened: