“Support Group? That sounds like a place weak people go to complain about their lives. I do not need that!”
This is what I often hear from women who are trying to find their footing as their husbands/partners go to prison. I tell them, “If that is what you think a support group is, then you are going to the wrong places for support.”
When I encourage people to connect to a support group, I mean to people who actually provide emotional, mental, and/or spiritual support.
There are a lot of people and places available to help us as we live through this very difficult season in our lives. You do not have to connect to an “official” support group, but you MUST find support to help you get through this prison experience.
This is NOT the end of your family
Just as there are many people and organizations wanting to help, there are also many more people who create barriers and pain for families impacted by incarceration. If the only encounters you and your family are having are with people inside the system and people who are making you feel like trash, then it is urgent that you connect to a support group. You are not trash. This is NOT the end of your family – moreover, your family is worth fighting for. You need people in your life that remind you of these three things. Your support system should be helping you keep your sanity while fighting to keep your family together.
"You need people in your corner."
I found the most support from individuals in my community who had never experienced prison, but who believed strongly in second chances, the power of a strong family, and in me as a person full of potential. You need people like that in your corner if you want to overcome this journey through prison and become stronger, more successful, and build a thriving family in spite of prison.
Five support groups to get connected with:
- Friends – People who mentor you through difficult situations and thus help you become better. In addition, they root for you and for your family.
- Organized F2F Groups – these are groups that are supported by either a community or religious organization who meet face to face on a regular basis to encourage each other and talk together about struggles unique to having a family member in prison.
- Web-based Groups – these are supportive spaces on Facebook or individual websites that hence focus on providing encouragement to families impacted by prison.
- Self-Help materials – Blogs, articles, and books will also help you develop a plan to overcome challenges, learn tips to help your family, and encourage you to keep going.
- Religious Groups – There are people within churches willing to help families of prisoners find support in every way in order to support building a strong, healthy family.
It is time to take an inventory of who you have around you in your sphere of influence that is helping you overcome obstacles, create a healthy family, and grow personally stronger. Once you identify those people or resources, be sure to dedicate time to connect with them on a regular basis.
I am rooting for you!