It is time to stop the madness. Imagine if you could manage the impact of prison and not allow your anger to poison your life. On both sides of the fence, prison breeds bitterness. Unless you have experienced having your loved one in prison, you cannot understand such unfathomable pain and grief. The separation is only part of the loss you experience. If you are not proactive about protecting yourself against their influence, the social disgrace, loneliness, and the negative culture of the institutional setting will change you. There is no denying that prison has a tremendous impact and can change the trajectory of your life. You cannot let it harden your heart.
“If you choose to become bitter, the impact of prison will control you for the rest of your life.” – Catherine Tijerina
The easiest way to do prison time is to let your grief and anger become bitterness so you can bury the pain. If you choose to become bitter, the impact of prison will control you for the rest of your life. Healing is the only way to protect yourself from being poisoned by incarceration. I have met so many people who have let the pain of loss rule their lives. When pain rules, you will continue to repeatedly experience the pain of your loss. It is impossible to develop healthy relationships when pain leads your life.
Healing is the only way to protect yourself from being poisoned by incarceration -
The most miserable times in my life were when I focused all my attention on all I had lost. I repeatedly told myself how unfair life had been to me. I had all the excuses to be a victim: My husband was in prison; my family had disowned me, I suddenly had no income except for welfare, I had a broken-down old car, my husband’s incarceration broke my heart. I was suddenly a single mom on the outside and the culture of imprisonment became part of my reality. I had a right to be mad. As that madness grew, it stole my ability to love deeply and connect to my friends and family. The loneliness grew, and I became easily offended. I took everything personally and allowed insult to add to my injury. It was debilitating.
I am so glad that I woke up and realized that I was throwing my potential away into a sea of bitterness. I chose to continue using my grief and loss as excuses to be bitter and act like a victim. One day, a dear friend challenged me with one question. She asked me, “have you decided to act the part of the poor social widow who is hopeless and helpless for the rest of your life?” Ouch! I responded that living with my husband in prison was not my choice and that it changed my life and my opportunities. Inside my heart, I knew that wasn’t true. She was right. I was choosing to be miserable and mad. It was then that I changed my lifestyle. I stopped focusing on all that had been taken from me and directed my energy toward all I could do with my life.
You must stop focusing on all that you have lost.
You must re-focus your attention and energy on the present and your future. When you keep your focus on what you have lost, you will miss out on the joy in life. Resentment will ruin every opportunity in front of you. Your unhealthy vantage point will make you hyper-critical and infect every interaction in your life. I am not saying you should not grieve your loss – I AM telling you to stop feeding your pain in your attempt to stop moving forward. It takes intentional effort to move beyond the pain to create a thriving family and future for yourself.
If you do nothing, this experience will become your new lifestyle. I know that a part of you is just fine with allowing grief to fill your days for the rest of your life. Losing your loved one to prison is a great reason to be bitter and angry for the rest of your life. It hurts like no other loss. But you are worth so much more. You are worthy of dreaming again, being filled with joy, and being excited to be alive. Do not let prison, loss, or anger rob you of living a whole life. What I am about to say may be hard to hear: you are in the perfect place to excel in your life.
Grief and pain help us recognize the essential things in life.
Unfortunately, pain will take the energy out of you. Suddenly every task you perform requires an extreme amount of energy to accomplish. Keep going. Do not give up. Keep pushing yourself to finish the jobs and use your new insight into the actual value of life and relationships to build your future. Use it to fuel your dreams instead of allowing bitterness to swallow your passion, mercy, and love. Pursue your dreams and leave the madness behind.
Start your new journey by practicing gratefulness every day.
I tell you this often, but I will repeat it, gratefulness will transform your life. Every day, take the time to look at your life and those connected to you. You will find you are blessed and have much to be thankful for. Write down what you are grateful for each day. Document every good thing in your life. I promise you that there are many good things in your life right now that you have taken for granted. Take note of those people and things, and you will see your pain become manageable as the bitterness leaves.
You choose how much of your joy you give up in exchange for continuing the madness. It is under your control. If you want to hold onto your anger and bitterness, you have no one to blame but yourself when things do not go your way and you live unhappily and unfulfilled. You are fully capable of learning to live with the losses you have experienced while also creating a life filled with joy and contentment. Your choices determine your future.
I am rooting for you!