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Three things that keep you from healing – Denial

overcoming denial prison blog

Losing your partner to the prison system is one of the worst things that can happen to a family.

Welcome back, friends!  This is the third blog on the top three things that will keep you from healing from the trauma of this experience.  No matter what other people think, this is a BIG deal.  Losing your partner to the prison system is one of the worst things that can happen to a family.  But it is not the end of your story and it is not fatal—although you might feel like it is both.

I remember standing outside the courtroom watching them take Ron off to prison.  It was so surreal.  The shock couldn’t stop the anguish that washed over me.  I didn’t know that the pain of losing someone to prison was so similar to losing someone to death.  I told myself that the grief I felt was not appropriate.  It thought it was not acceptable for me feel the anguish of grief.  Inside, I thought the only “right” emotion was anger.  I decided that is what I should be feeling.

"I told myself to just keep moving"

Pushing away any notions or emotions of grief,  in denial I told myself over and over to just keep moving. Someone going to prison was not something that people actually grieved over.  I was deliberately pushing aside my true feelings, denying I was even experiencing the level of loss I felt at that time.

For me, it was a season of intense battle of my will, my emotions, and my intellect.  My  will was saying just keep moving, my emotions were telling me it was too hard to keep going, and my intellect was arguing that it should NOT be this hard.  A crazy fight was raging inside of me!

I stopped running from the truth of how I was feeling.

Thankfully, I stopped running from the truth of how I was feeling.  The truth of the impact of Ron’s imprisonment.  It had a HUGE impact on my life.  I could not keep living as if prison was not invading every area of my life. Including my finances, my emotional, physical, and mental well-being were all under attack by the lifestyle change and stress of having Ron in prison.  ugh.

fighting denial ron and cathy tijerina


I didn’t want to admit that this hurt and it was really, really, really hard.  I felt like saying that I was hurting made me even more of a social outcast.  It was prison, not death, that had stolen my husband away from me. But I finally overcame my denial and face to face with reality.  I gave myself permission to grieve and to admit that this incredibly difficult, that it hurt tremendously, and that I felt ridiculously helpless to change anything.

I gave myself permission to grieve...

Facing the truth of how I felt and the impact of prison on my family cleared my vision.  I no longer saw everything through a “victim lens”.  Now, I was able to see both the challenges and the opportunities in front of me. Feeling renewed, I woke up to the possibilities.  I had a choice, I could live the rest of my life as a victim of the system, or take the control of my own life back.  I decided to take back the control of my own life and OWN my future.

When you allow yourself to see the magnitude of the problem your family must overcome and admit to yourself how badly it hurts, you are on the road to overcoming. You must first allow yourself to feel the pain and acknowledge the depth of your loss. 

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grief cover

Accepting responsibility for where you are is not easy.  It requires you to admit your own part in creating this story.  Sometimes that means accepting the things you did, other times that means acknowledging the times you should have done something, but you didn’t act.  Once you see clearly where you are and how you got there, you can exert your power over your own life.  You can change your destiny.

Not all in one day, mind you.  But you have the power to change your world and the world your children will live in.  Your brain, and their brains, are being formed and nuanced by the experiences you are having.  Change their experiences, you will change their world.  If you stay stuck in denial, you cannot heal from this experience.  You cannot heal from any traumatic experience you have had if you deny the impact of it on your life.

Change someone else's world


You have the authority to take advantage of this opportunity to reinvent yourself and your family legacy.  Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Don’t buy the lie that you can’t change the course of your life.  You can and you must if you want to overcome this prison experience.

I am rooting for you!