Not that long ago, my husband was in the "hole" and him and his cellie (who is also married to a wonderful woman) sat down and wrote what it was like to really be a prison husband. What they see on a daily basis, how they feel about us, there fears and insecurities. It was a real eye opener for me because I always saw my husband as this tough guy that could handle anything. And while, that is true...it helped me to understand just how tough prison life can really be. I wanted to share with you all...my lovely PFO ladies
The Prison Husband
"I am the prison husband. I am a prisoner, not only behind bars and fences, but a prisoner of my own mind and heart. I am the guy you use to go to school with, that you knew from your neighborhood, or maybe you never knew on the streets at all. Perhaps we met through a friend, maybe an ad on the internet? No matter the source, we built our relationship through pen and paper, smiles and laughs, phone calls and tears, thoughts and secrets, daydreams and fantasies. Until our eyes met through the fog and haze of these circumstances and realized we are soul mates.
As we say, "of course there will be hardships", in my mind as I look into your innocence, I know that "hardships" will be much more than your family telling you, "your making a mistake!" Or people filling your head with the thought that we will leave you like a fool when we parole. We also live under the dark shadow of stereotypes. Tales from "prison players" who use women, feed them lies to get stamps or money. Who write 10 women at a time and tell all of them that they love them. No matter how real or sincere of a man we are, in the back of your mind, you will still wonder if I was visiting another woman when I couldn’t call on a visiting day. Not a day in prison will pass, where we aren’t combating the stereotype to prove ourselves in your minds eye.
There is so much that goes on here. We can never bring ourselves to expose to you the shocking truth! For you, we are constantly feeding our relationships with letters that are written every day, a 15 minute phone call – maybe….and a visit as many weekends as possible. For us, we never want to tell you that we nearly got in a fight to get our full 15 minutes on the phone That we couldn’t write because the C/O’s had us in our boxers outside all day, either freezing or getting suburned so bad it hurts to walk! That we wont get our visits this weekend because something is going to happen on the yard.
How does a prison husband begin to tell you a friend of mine was murdered on the yard today? He was stabbed 23 times and the cops dragged his dead, bloody body off of the yard like he was nothing more than a discarded piece of garbage. Smirking as they pushed the gurney, laughing with one another over the dead body of my friend. I love you baby, heartless human carnage screams in our faces everyday of our lives in here and it’s a struggle in itself to keep the truth of this bleak and deadly environment from the purity of your beautiful eyes and ears.
You are the only source of love in our lives. You brought me comfort and companionship in the midst of this hell we call “home”, and it still brings a smile to my face when you tell me not to call this place “home” because home is where you are. I often want to ask your forgiveness when I seem a bit jealous. You must understand that even the strongest man develops abandonment issues in this place. From years of neglect, ridicule and hate heaped upon us from not only the C/O’s but family and so called “friends”. We live in constant fear that you will tire and leave one day and take away the person who I’ve only ever truly loved and whose only ever truly loved me for me. For all my faults and rough edges, you saw the character and potential. Whats scarier than the fear everyday of losing her? Hell cant even compete, I am the prison husband.
I am the prison husband cant you see? It is not only you who battles the imbedded doubts brought by stereotypes. When you don’t answer the phone someone says, “she’s probably with sancho”. When I don’t get a letter they say, “she probably wrote someone else or didn’t write at all” The love that masks the pain in her fingers, eases the cramps, may be has vanished the urge to write no more. Every movie about cheating, every song of loving someone else is sharp daggers that stab at the worry and anxiety already in our minds. But I cant believe it in the end because you’re my friend whose faithfulness and devotion brings tears to my eyes.
We have a visit today. My day began when my neighbor sliced his wrists because they skipped him on meds and a fight between two races delayed program. I’m sorry that I came out late. It’s funny to you how I fuss over a fashion sense, an okay fade, as if I can still disguise the fact that I feel like a bum wearing the same clothes for 8 years straight. There still “prison blues”. You sit across from me wondering if I appreciate the hours of driving on the road, the money you spent on gas, the bank clerk thinking your going to a strip club or Chuck E Cheese because of all the one dollar bills and quarters you pulled out for our visit. You wonder if I appreciate the effort you put into doing your hair? The outfit you picked to see me in, hoping its still cute and still meets the security requirements of the prison. Do I appreciate the fact that you skipped your brothers birthday party to see me? That you had to wait in that long line outside and listen to the other prison wives and mothers gossip about rumors inside? I am the prison husband that sits across from you appreciating all you had to go through and trying to find the words you haven’t heard already to express my gratitude. I think of how cute you look in that shirt, how good your lips taste after we kissed. How your body felt pressed up against mine before and after visit. How I want to maul you so bad but have to keep myself in check so we can see one another again. How lucky I am to have found you. I am the prison husband who thinks, “what a blow to my pride that I cant do more for you, help in some way, provide or reimburse you for all your hard earned money you spend constantly on me. To give you all of the things you deserve because you deserve so much more than us!” We are scared to tell you that, though thinking would open your eyes to some truth you don’t already know. All I can do is adore you, cherish the blessings of spending that 3 hours with you and hope that the anxiety doesn’t show on my face or body language, that the fight this morning might bring problems for me when I go back to the yard because of who I once was or the color of my skin.
I am the prison husband who hopes you understand that my every step is meant to only bring me one step closer to you. I wish you knew that my only goal in life is to make you happy, find a way to put the stars and sun right into your precious heart and see it glow through your beautiful brown eyes and gorgeous smile. Find a way to soothe all your worries, all the stereotypes to change them, for I am the stereotype, the real prison husband. All the hateful and jealous comments made by your family and friends, all the fears that I will abandon you when I get out, the same way I’ll fear you’ll abandon me in here. Just to prove it all wrong and destroy the stigma of the fake prison husband and make you and all those around you proud of me as a prison husband, as a man!
This prison husband only wants to rise from the ashes, unburned. Rip the chains from my soul and give my everything to you. To make this world of destruction and pain disappear. To make it as if it never was. An illusion, a forgotten memory. To turn it all into radiant beams of my love endlessly flowing into your heart.
I am the prison husband, but how can I tell you? How can I find the words when the only color besides the gray from this concrete, is the color of my wedding band? I only hope that you will trust in me and believe that I am real. I only hope that my love is enough. Is it mail call? Because here I wait to receive you. Your prison husband."