Do you go with the flow, seek the approval of others or right wrongs? These are some of the choices you may face. My wife Patty and I are writing a book, detailing our journey as a couple going through the process of a spouse losing their job, being investigated, charged convicted and incarcerated.
It is unsettling to dig deep into what we have been through. Answering detailed questions posed by our collaborative writer Lorilee Craker, why, when, who and then what? Not only do you have to yank the privacy curtain wide open, you have to look long and hard; it is a scab ripping experience. So why even do it? In our case, it certainly isn’t for fame, fortune and self absorption.
It is all about hope, faith and change. For those imprisoned and their families on the outside, there is real hope. Feeling jaded, cynical, angry, and bitter about a system that has slammed a family member with systemic detachment? You have the right to say hey, where’s the hope? Trust me, I get it; I’ve been there and may still be.
The hope lies in change and faith. This country is finally waking up to the sad fact that wrongly convicted inmates now are being exonerated on a regular basis, prisons sentences are way out of control and “that’s the way it’s always been” is out. Watch the news; a rogue white cop shoots a black man eight times in the back. Witness a judge in Atlanta sentence school teachers, non violent first time offenders, to lengthy prison terms for altering test results. Oh yes, forensic technicians in an FBI hair analysis lab provided false findings in criminal trials going back 20 years. Seriously? Yank the curtain back America, take a long hard look, the status quo is out. Change is in the air, but it is a really slow process.
That’s great you say, but it doesn’t do me any good or my loved one in the slammer let alone my splintered family. What’s fair and what helps? I can only personally share what I did with my wife in prison 500 miles away. I selected good friends, listened to calm music, walked the dog every night and went to church, albeit in the back row by myself; it all helped. Structure was critical because most everything else was out of control. I did not self medicate with pot, porn, gambling, booze or women; go down that road and the system has broken you as well. Don’t just go with the flow; quietly do what is necessary to survive, both financially and emotionally. I was angry collateral damage.
So what’s the latest? Patty was released four years ago, off supervised release one year ago and has a good job that she loves. My sister Elizabeth who supported us all along the way, died. She would have savored our comeback against long odds. We have not been broken by a flawed system. I have hope, gratitude and compassion despite serious battle scars. Everybody has a story. Share your story and make a difference.