Week Thirteen

13 weeks are over, a quarter of a year. In one way it has gone by a lot faster than I thought it would, in other ways, the days are as slow as molasses.  I put in for a change of jobs, which hopefully will happen at the end of this week.  Since I only have a few more months left, and there a lot of classes I want to try to take this next round, I put in for a compound job.  The hours will allow for me to take classes all day long if I want.  They will also allow me to be able to exercise in the mornings.  One of the girls here is working on her personal trainer certificate, and has promised to push me out the door each morning to work out.

Every night this week, while walking, the same song has come on the radio.  The name of it is “Eye of the Storm”, and I really love the words to it.  Hopefully Bethy is able to put the link up to the song.  Since it has played every time I walked, I feel like it is talking to me.  Lately I am looking for signs everywhere.  Thanks to my long talks with some of the ladies here, I think I was finally able to accept that the issues I have had with God, are more linked to me not trusting of ministers over the years.  I have seen ministers be concerned only with their own political gain, cheat on their wives, not practice the art of forgiveness, treat congregants very badly and then brag (to me) that the person probably thinks he is the biggest SOB out there (his words) and laugh about it, and I even knew one that took his daughter for an abortion (abortion is a personal choice, but when you are preaching about life and then doing the exact opposite, it makes you untrustworthy).  I have been able to work through a lot of these issues, thanks to the women around me, remembering that the ministers are humans with free will.  They are not God, and just because they became ministers, does not mean that they were truly called by God. I have made a lot of progress on my own, and hope that I can find someone who I can trust when I get home, someone that lives by what he/she preaches.  The sad thing is, sitting in different churches over the last couple of years, I have had a hard time trusting the person up front.  Even though I don’t know them personally, I still can’t put that full trust in them.  It is going to take a lot of time for a “Man of God” to earn my trust again.

The excitement here continues, as several more people have received their new release dates.  I know what has been put in for me, and am just waiting now to find out if it will happen.  I really need to get home.  I had a video chat with my 3 year old on Thursday night, and although it started off well, it did not end well.  My poor mom is exhausted, I think the video chat just made things worse, so I guess I will hold off on doing any more for a while.  I miss that little guy so much, and cannot wait to hold him in my arms again.  I honestly think my family is being punished more than I am, which is very sad, and something I feel guilty for.  I really hope they all know how much I love them for stepping in and taking care of things while I am here…playing at camp.

By the way…I still have not had my visitor approved yet.  The next visit weekend for me is this upcoming weekend.  It has been 5 weeks since his form was mailed in, it would sure be nice to be able to see him.   Can’t figure out what the hold up is, except not enough people working here to get the job done.

Have a great week!  Hopefully soon there will be a big change in my going home stats.

19 more chicken days!
9 more visit weekends!
5 more blanket exchanges!

Julie

 

 

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No More Blame

No More Blame

I received some very sad news last night.  My 11 year old, blind dachshund, Libby passed away.  It was terrible news to get, and my heart is broken.  I picked her out when she was 6 weeks old and brought her home as soon as she turned 8 weeks, to be a buddy for our 1 year old dachshund Sargey (sadly he passed away in March).  She was adorable, a great lizard catcher and even had a couple of squirrels under her belt, and at 3 years old, woke up one morning totally blind.  We took her to the vet, who sent us to the doggie ophthalmologist (never knew they had those), who confirmed she had SARDs (Sudden Acute Retinal Detachment) and was totally blind.  She adjusted quickly to the blindness, and amazed us all with her behavior.  There were times we would forget she was blind.  I blamed myself for her death.  It was an accident, that would not have happened, if I had not been here.

I have spent the years blaming myself (with help from others sometimes) for everything that has happened around me.  Things that I had no control over, but still found a way to make it my fault.  My father not wanting to spend time with me, my aunt’s death, the many, many issues with both husbands, my children’s grades and lots of other items.  One of the positive things about living with 90 women, is they won’t let you feel sorry for yourself.  I have built-in group therapy.  Several women sat with me and helped me realize that it is not my fault my father was more interested in everything else but me, there is nothing that I could do about it.  It was not my fault that my aunt was killed.  I have always blamed myself for not telling my mom about the abuse I witnessed (after she made me promise not to – I was 15), and a couple of weeks later she was killed.  It is not my fault that my two husbands treated like me they did.  Although I was told many, many times, I was not stupid, ugly, fat, boring or a terrible mother.  I should never have let all of those words affect me like they did.  It was not my fault that my girls did not always do as well as others thought they should in school.  They tried their best, and every child is not a straight-A student, just seems to be every child that is around me.

So no more blame for things I cannot control.  It is time to move on.  Libby’s accident was an accident and there is no blame. I will miss my Libby tremendously, and I am sure little Hero (my 6 year old dachshund) is very sad, losing Sargey, Me & Libby all within 6 months.  I hope he will be getting extremely spoiled between now and when I get home.

Have a good rest of the week.

Julie

Week Twelve

More Classes, Walking, Friends & The System

12 weeks are over! 84 days are over! Almost 3 months are over!

I started a couple of new classes in the last two weeks.  The first one, Threshold, is a nationwide class to help you get ready to go back into the “real world”, spiritually & mentally.  It is normally a 6 month program, but since our chaplain is leaving the end of the year, she is doing a 3 month express version.  We are not missing anything, just double the learning each week & double the work.  Lots of homework for this class, which is good, it gives me time to think about everything and reflect during the week.  The other class, that I am really excited about, because I wanted to take it on the outside, is Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.  The hard thing is, I can’t start applying it until I get home, but at least I will be ready.  We meet weekly and watch his DVDs and have a very nice workbook to go with it.  The only thing they don’t supply is his book that goes along with the course, but thanks to mom and Amazon, the book is on its way.

I have been walking every night, and it has really become my time of quiet and reflection.  I have the Christian station on in the background and take the time to look at the clouds and the sunset.  I have seen more rainbows here in the last 12 weeks than I have seen in the last couple of years.  I don’t know if there are more out here since we are in the country, or if I just haven’t taken the time to notice them.  Last night there was a cloud formation that took up the entire western sky.  It truly looked like a great big angel looking down on us.  The wings were perfect and the sun was in a position behind the head that it looked like a halo shining behind it.  It was really amazing to look at.  I was sad when the clouds moved and my angel went away.  The back side of our track has woods about 100 feet away from it.  There are couple of raccoons that hang out at the edge of the woods.  There is also a herd of wild pigs (do pigs run in herds?) that come out and play in the retention pond behind the housing units.  There are about 30 of them and quite a site when they are all out there.  The other night, there was a kitten sitting on the edge of the woods.  Little guy couldn’t have been more than 4 months old.  A couple of us stopped on the track to see him, one person was trying to call him over (was not happening).  I looked up and one of the girls around me had tears in her eyes.  I asked her what she was crying for, and she told me she had been locked up for 6 years and that was the first kitten she had seen the entire time.  She used to volunteer at a cat rescue and loves cats.  About a minute later the kitten decided he had seen enough of us and took off back into the woods.  It is the little things that you don’t think about missing until you actually miss them.

I told my mom that I have met some pretty amazing people here.  There are a lot of people here that will do things for you, out of the kindness of their hearts (there are some others that will do it, as long as you pay them). For example, when our laundry bags come back, they are sorted on the tables in the activity room based on the letter on the bag (all bags have a letter A-D and a number), and then we come through and grab our bags.  One lady, will take the time to look at the list to see what bag belongs to what person, and delivers them to our cubes.  She does this for no reason except to be nice.  Most people here really seem to care.  We have our little family of 100 and although I don’t sit and talk to all of them, they all make sure to say Hi when they walk by.  I had someone come to my cube the other night that I really have not talked to much and said she just wanted to see my bulletin board, because someone had told her how adorable my children were.  We spent 10 minutes talking about kids.  I felt so sorry for her, because this weekend, her son was getting married, and she of course could not be there.

I had another disappointing time with our “system” this week, or maybe it is just the employees hired and the time they have to complete their jobs.  For the second time now, on Tuesday, I was told he would do his best to have a visit form approved by Friday.  On Thursday, I went to look for him to see if it would happen, only to find out he was on vacation until Tuesday of next week.  Really?  This is a form that was sent in over a month ago, and just sat until I asked about it (just like last time), and then still did not make it in time.  There needs to be a better system.  I have talked to so many people who have had the same disappointment.  I am lucky, my visitors are only an hour away, and have been able to reschedule, one of my friends had someone coming from South Carolina, that is not as easy to schedule.  We are told that they encourage visits and want us to keep our family and friends close, but then we are not able to get the visits because of issues on this end.  On a good note, and this needs lots and lots of prayers, there was an issue with the halfway house packages sent out and they are resubmitting all of them for 2017.  This means there is a chance that I may get an earlier date to get out of here.  So everyone reading this, please pray.  My kids need me, my family needs me, my job needs me and my dogs need me.  Please pray for my parents too.  They are going through so much helping take care of my 3 year old and my dogs.  I wish the person that publicly announced in the newspaper that he would continue to support my family during this time, would follow through with it.  I know it was just a way to make himself look good in the paper, since nothing had happened to that point for him to continue, but it would be nice for them to get some support.

I have a bunch of letters I need to write.  I ran out of stamps and the commissary was closed for a week. I appreciate all of the notes, puzzles and prayers I have been receiving.  I love hearing from people I thought forgot about me, and people I have not heard from in a very long time.  Keep sending the notes and keep praying!

Have a great week!

Julie

20 more chicken days
9 more visit weekends
5 more blanket exchanges

Week Eleven

Protests, Music & The Future

One more week is over. One more week closer to coming home.  One more week closer to being with my children, family, friends and dogs.  One more week closer to relieving my parents of the burdens they have taken on because of and for me.  I can never thank them enough for what they have done for me, and my only hope is that one day, I will be able to make them proud of me again.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned the pay rate for inmates.  Apparently there was a nationwide protest (including outside our complex) over the wages and slave labor of inmates.  I was told that there were strikes among inmates at 40 different prisons last week too (I didn’t know we had the option of striking). I have only been able to get bits and pieces of all of the news, most of what I am getting is through our internal grapevine, which we refer to inmate.com.  There has been a lot in the news about prison reform lately, and it sounds like people are really listening.

I went for my walk this morning and was listening to the local Christian music station.  The first song on was one of my favorites “The Revelation Song”.  I can’t remember who sings it, but the entire time it was playing, in my head, I could hear Camille from our Praise Band back home singing her part in the background.  I don’t know if Bethany can insert a link to the song on Youtube into my blog (I can’t wait to get home and see what this even looks like), but if she can’t, please look it up and listen to it.  I had about 10 songs downloaded that always brought me up, when I was feeling down, and this, as well as “10,000 Reasons” I mentioned a few weeks ago, were on the list.  I miss being able to listen to them whenever I want.

I have been thinking a lot about the future, and what I will do when I leave here.  I hope and pray that my job is still there for me, but if it is not, I know there is something out there for me.  I have thought about speaking about my experiences, growth, etc (anyone who knows me, knows this is a major change, because I have always avoided speaking publicly). I feel that maybe my experiences can help someone.  I have learned so much while I have been here in the last 11 weeks.  I have learned how to live with the bare minimums, how everything can be reused (Pringles cans make good teabag containers, plastic Lays containers make good sugar cube holders, oatmeal boxes work well for organizing your socks, underwear, etc), and how to appreciate every little minute I can get with the people I love.  One thing I will never take for granted again is the time I get with my children and family, it means more to me than anything else.  I have also learned that starting and ending day with reading the Bible, seems to make the day go a little bit smoother.

Bunkie leaves a few weeks after me, so we have found several different things to count down….

21 more chicken days
10 more visit weekends
5 more blanket exchanges

Have a great week!

Julie

Week Ten

Halfway House, Classics, Mental Health & Thanks

I found out the news I have been waiting for. In 155 days I will be heading out of here and to the halfway house.  The sad thing is, I am worried more about the halfway house than I was coming here.  I have turned all of my worries over to God though, and am letting him stress about it.  I was told there is a chance that I will just have to check in for a couple of days and then be home on home confinement.  I will be able to go back to work, and best of all be home with my babies.  I am not going to count days anymore, it seems too far away, so instead I will count chicken days.  Every Thursday we have chicken for lunch, so I now have 22 chicken days left before I go home.  My family is so ready for me to come home, my parents have taken my two adorable (or monster, depending on who you talk to) dachshunds over to their house since they are home more than my girls.  On day one, Hero, the hunter, killed two feral kittens that the momma cat had moved under my parents shed. I feel bad for the poor little kittens, but Hero was just following his instincts…small..run..prey!

I have moved over to the Inspirational Fiction section of the library the last few weeks and have read some very good books. Today, my Bunkie was reading something that mentioned a scarlet letter.  She did not know what it was referring to, so I told her the story, the best I could, from memory.  There is a classic section in the library and I am going to look there today.  Hopefully they will have the book so I can re-read it, but if not, I am going to try to find some others that I had always heard about but never read.

I read an article the other day that said over 80% of women in the prison system have been abused in one way or another which has resulted in mental issues or suffer from a mental disorder.  It also stated that there is not a lot being done about these issues.  This is something that I can totally agree with.  Coming in, I was taken off of my anxiety medicine, and told that I did not need it anymore, I probably just needed it while I was getting ready to come here.  Then, for 3 weeks, did not get my antidepressant, first being told that the prescription had been written out incorrectly, and then after having a nurse and the psychologist ask about it, still did not receive anything.  It wasn’t until I came back from my trip to the hospital and met with the other doctor, that he put me on something.  Besides that, and the few classes they have here (which are all inmate taught), there is really nothing available.  I met with the psychologist when I first came in, and was very honest with her about my past issues, and was told that if I felt I wanted to meet with the psychiatrist, he only comes once a month (for 400 women).  If you are recovering from drug or alcohol issues, there are lots of resources available, but not for the mental health side of it, just throw some pills at it and hope they go away.  If they are going to treat women and get them ready to be a productive member of society, they need to really work on their mental health care.  I am determined to get my head where it belongs and plan to take advantage of every little thing they offer, I just wish there was more available.

I just want to give a big thanks for the letters, post cards, puzzles (even attempts that didn’t make it past the mail room) and magazines.  Every little thing helps make the days go by faster.  I am in the process of writing everyone back, I just hope they can read my writing, since I do not have access to the internet.

I hope everyone has a great week.  I start one (maybe two) more classes this week and am looking forward to them.

22 Chicken Days and counting!

Julie