Feeling sad today about not getting letters and visits from many of he folks who stayed in touch the first year or so. It’s not that I feel neglected or rejected. It’s more that I miss the connections and relationship that come with communicating with them. I am grateful that they still care and pray for me. I am confident most of the still do. Maybe when I get down to Petersburg, VA it will pick up. Or, maybe God has another plan.
Prison, like life, is a series of ups and downs. A real roller coaster ride. There are periods of peace and periods of stress, loneliness and sadness. This day I was probably feeling a little sorry for myself. Writing it down helped me put it in perspective and realize that even if no one writes me, I still have God. We all desire relationships, that is how God made us. There are times where I felt alone. When I did I would try to pick up my Bible or some other faith-centered book and try to focus on my relationship with God. I also prayed a lot and would pick up the phone and call Lisa as well. I am so grateful for Lisa and her support of me during the 5 years I spent in prison. She did her own time in her own prison of separation. I’m so grateful we prepared for prison with counseling and continued to practice being open and honest in our communications. It sure made the time more bearable and was a huge factor in keeping our marriage together. I strongly recommend using whatever time you have prior to prison to strengthen your relationships.
One of the saddest things I watched in prison was the disintegration of a family. It happened far too regularly and to people of all ages, race and background. One of the goals we have with the Paul Project is to help people maintain their relationships through the prison experience. It is possible. But it takes honesty, work and communication. This article (http://family-studies.org/when-an-imprisoned-parent-isnt-home-for-the-holidays/) highlights the struggles inherent in having one or more parents in prison. For me one of the stats that is most destructive is that close to six in ten incarcerated parents had no personal visits from any of their children in 2010. 84% of parents in federal prisons are held over 100 miles away from their last residence, and 43% over 500 miles away. I saw this first-hand as I spent 5 years in two different prisons and met men who were hundreds of miles away from their families, making it impossible for visits. This i one area I would like to see changed in the Federal system. I would like to make it a requirement that you can’t be placed further than 100 miles from your home.