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.

Something I’ve Learned Recently About Confidence

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately. For the longest time I thought there was a direct correlation between confidence and perfection. I thought the more flawless a person was, the more self-assured they must be. 

Confident.
People.
Can.
Be.
Broken.
People.

Broken is beautiful. Flaws are beautiful. Flaws are POWERFUL

I sure as hell am not perfect. I have a lot of inner demons I still have to conquer. But I have such a drastically different appreciation for myself and those demons now than I ever had before. 

Life is too fucking short to spend time pitying yourself for your imperfections and shortcomings.

Love. Yourself. First. and release your inner power/strength/beauty and never apologize for it.

alexkrump:

There’s no eloquent way to say this…or if there is I don’t really feel like trying (lol)… but I just wanted to say how weird it is to look back at old pictures I posted on my Tumblr during the first couple years I was using it. 

Someone recently liked a picture I posted during my freshman year of college (2011) where I stated, “a couple of the biggest changes in my life thus far have happened recently”. That comment alone boggles my mind.

I feel so far removed from that person I was 5 years ago, yet I am consistently having this crisis about feeling like I’m still an 18 year old trapped in a 23 year old’s body. 

I posted that picture in 2011 before my parent’s divorced, before my brother’s accident, and before my dad’s arrest. Since then, I’ve also made so many new friends, lived in 6 different houses/apartments, and worked in 3 different cities.

Sometimes I really have no idea who I am right now, because my life is basically just constant change. When I posted that in 2011, going to college was one of the first real HUGE changes in my life and I really craved it. Now all I crave is stability. 

No point to this post aside from the fact that LIFE IS WEIRD MAN.

It makes me excited and also extreeeeeemely terrified for the future. 

Perceived Confidence

alexkrump:

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence recently, or at least perceived confidence. As I’ve mentioned multiple times before, I have a problem with being passive and letting my social anxiety take control. For a long time I think I just assumed the two went hand in hand. Being socially anxious does sometimes make me passive. I avoid conflict. I avoid conversations with people I’m not completely comfortable with. I avoid anything that makes me vulnerable and that could potentially make an interaction become uncomfortable. I let others determine every aspect of how my social interactions will go. I, by definition, am pretty fucking passive. But if New York has taught me anything, it is that being passive is not only not going to get me anywhere, but its ultimately going to eat me alive.

I let my perceptions of myself be defined by other people’s perceptions of me. When my dad was arrested last year I let my shame determine how I handled all of my interactions. I always found myself making excuses for people that started treating me differently because of it. I was always walking on eggshells hoping not to offend anyone with my presence. I literally remember apologizing to so many people as I opened up to them about my dad. As if my personal struggles were in some way something I needed to be sorry for? ? What I failed to realize at the time, was how often I was offended in the process and how badly my emotional stability was suffering as a result.

This weekend I went out to a bar in my hometown for the first time in a very long time. (Backstory: I haven’t truly lived in my town since high school, but until recently, my mom still lived there and I visited often. My relationship with my “home” is complicated… maybe I’ll elaborate in another post sometime. But for all intensive purposes, I really like it there, regardless of some of the negative memories I have associated with it.)

Anyway, I’ve always been a little hesitant to go out to bars in my town. But I have some awesome friends from home still, and I don’t see them as often as I should almost entirely because I am afraid that I’ll be put in uncomfortable social situations with people that will judge me based on my family.

So on Friday I decided to go out to celebrate a friend’s birthday. While at the bar, I ran into a lot of people I used to know/be friends with that I haven’t seen in years. The idea of seeing these kinds of people in this type of setting usually TERRIFIES me because 1) my anxiety makes the thought of small talk with acquaintances seem literally crippling sometimes, but more importantly because 2) almost everyone in my town thinks they know about my family due to all the publicity my dad’s arrest got and all the gossip said publicity created over the past year and a half. This aspect of the situation alone is usually enough to keep me far away from any social situation at home.

This time I faced my fears head on. I threw caution to the wind and spent my night divulging a LOT about my life to a lot of people who definitely were NOT expecting it. Granted, I was drunk so I had a lot of ~liquid courage~ but that’s never helped me to be more ballsy with anything like this in the past! I went on and on about my dad being arrested, my mom hooking up with guys I graduated with, my brother being bullied after the arrest, my own mental health, etc. Basically, when it came to anything that people could and have read or talked about over the past year – I was an open book. It was a RUSH! AND I’ve never had such positive responses! I felt like the most confident girl at the bar.

Now listen, don’t get me wrong, this shit still hurts. These things still get to me and clearly I’m not all that confident with any of it yet. But if I can act like I am, and open the dialogue on MY terms, then I finally can be in control. I finally feel like I don’t have to be seen as someone begging for acceptance, but instead someone promoting understanding.

I think it opens people’s eyes a bit to see someone acting visibly confident about something that can be seen as controversial. And honestly, even more-so than that, I feel like opening up about personal issues allows people to be more comfortable vocalizing their own. Everyone has something they’re struggling with. I’m a strong believer in the fact that there really is no such thing as “normal”. 

The experiences we go through in life, both good and bad, make us who we are. I’ve always been willing to accept that about others, but It’s pretty liberating to finally be accepting that about myself too.