This is What Two Years in Jail Looks Like:

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Earlier today I tried to write a really lengthy post about this….and my computer crashed right before I posted it. L O L was that a sign? I’m not sure!! But here I am writing it again!! I can’t guarantee this will be as interesting because my brain is still mostly consumed with my anger towards Tumblr for not automatically saving drafts of my posts every couple minutes incase of potential computer crashes!!!! But anyways, 

I’ve tried to sit down and write about this so many times and I’ve never been able to find the right words. Are there even words that can be correctly strung together to formulate sentences to explain what it’s like to have a dad that’s been in jail for two years? I’m not sure. Probably, but I haven’t found them yet. 

In a lot of senses, I think its difficult to explain because my problems with my dad began well before he was in jail. In a way, two years ago was not the beginning of my problems, it was the beginning of my freedom. 

Two years ago was the first time I was able to separate myself from my dad. It was the first time in years that I wasn’t consistently feeling responsible for him. I didn’t have to be the parent anymore. But at the same time, it was the first time my problems were exposed to the world. It was the first time I couldn’t just pretend things were normal or perfect or easy. Two years ago I was forced to start learning to let go of my fear of judgments and outsiders’ opinions. 

A lot of losses are easy to understand. With a death or a divorce, most people can fairly easily interpret the pain you’re feeling and appropriately comfort you. With incarceration, no one ever knows what to think or say. In my opinion, so much of that lack of appropriate support comes from confusion. 

To start, it’s extremely difficult to explain the complexity of the flaws within the criminal justice system. On top of that, it’s even more difficult to understand what it feels like to be trapped within that system (whether guilty or innocent). And then to be an outsider looking in, watching a loved one suffer without any ability to help or control the situation is another demon entirely.

Two birthdays. Two Christmases. Two summers that would have been spent at the beach or by the pool. Two years of missed calls. Two years filled with hand written letters. Two years without my childhood home. 730 times that I could have processed my feelings. 730 days to pick up the phone and say “hello”. 730 days to write you back.  

The best thing I’ve learned over these past two years is that change does not happen overnight and progress is not linear. Sometimes I go weeks without crying once. There are periods of time where my life feels flawless. Then there are periods of time where my entire day is filled with shame and anger and pity. Sometimes I feel proud. Other days I feel beyond weak. 

I used to think that was wrong though. I used to think that time just healed wounds. But healing also takes work. And just because you’re healing doesn’t mean it always happens in a sequential order. Sometimes you’ll take 3 steps forward and then 5 steps back. Sometimes you’ll take 10 steps forward and only 1 back. 

I’ve learned that the whispers behind your back are sometimes unavoidable. I’ve learned that the silence after sharing the truth is okay. This situation is just as new for me as it is for everyone else. Judgments and criticisms directly stem from confusion. 

I’ve learned that people can be both good and bad simultaneously, and that doesn’t mean you were ever wrong for loving them.

I also learned that I’m allowed to love the parts of my dad that I see within myself. Just because I am made up of parts of him, doesn’t mean I am him.

My dad showed me a lot of beauty but he also showed me a lot of darkness. 

These past two years have been filled with growth and acceptance. 

Incarceration. Is. A. Loss. Too. 

Maybe it’s not as conventional as other losses, but it’s a loss. For the past two years I’ve felt, more or less, unable to openly share what I’ve been going through. I’m not going to let my shame control me anymore. I am proud of the person I have become. 

My dad is in jail but my life wasn’t perfect before that either. It has been two years, but I am the happiest I think I’ve ever been.

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