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  #1  
Old 11-05-2019, 08:34 AM
Daughter_26 Daughter_26 is offline
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Default Can Anyone Relate? My father has stopped replying / corresponding - Updated

This is my first time posting in a forum/blog or anything of the sort so please be kind! My father started his time with the BOP in July. This is new to me, new to our family and frankly terrifying. Leading up to his self surrender date our relationship was strained; between him going through this process and being worried, stressed, upset etc etc and me trying to deal with and mentally process the situation.
After he went in, our relationship - dare I say, was looking like it might be improving? We were exchanging e-mails on corrlinks, had a set phone call time and I even sent him family pictures and a handwritten note that he could hang up in his bunk area so he could feel a little bit more at home.
After the initial shock wore off and we settled into the "new normal" for both of us (me on the outside and him on the inside) our communication and our relationship started to fall off again... now we are 3, almost 4, months into his sentence and I can't figure out what changed. Despite my attempts at reaching out he wont speak to me, wont answer my e-mails and even returned to sender another handwritten letter that I tried to send.

so basically: I'm turning to this website looking for a community, looking for advice, looking to exchange stories and find people who really understand what I am going through as the adult daughter of an inmate. No one in my real life can really truly grasp what I'm going through, no one knows what to say or what to do - its frustrating and even though we are a few months into this process I'm still terrified and confused and upset.

thanks everyone.
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Old 11-05-2019, 09:18 AM
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Welcome to Prison Talk. The problem is with your father, not with you. You are doing everything you can to maintain a positive relationship with him, but he is rejecting it for some reason known only to him.

Do what is best for you. If that includes continuing to reach out to him in hopes that he will again start to communicate civilly with you, then keep doing what you are doing. If not, wait to see if he will eventually reach out to you again.

Not making an excuse for his inexcusable behavior, but being in prison affects some folks much more than it does others.
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Old 11-05-2019, 10:55 AM
Daughter_26 Daughter_26 is offline
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I'm trying to be open minded to how this situation might be affecting him but it's hard because without communication I don't really know... If he's struggling and needed time to focus on himself I would totally understand & give him all the space he needed!

It's frustrating and I keep flip-flopping between trying to figure out what I did wrong and being upset and resentful.

I feel like I keep waiting for him to have this "ah-ha" moment while he is in there and comes to realize what is really important in this life - now I'm worried that will never come and his incarceration and the time away from our family due to his actions will have amounted to nothing but him feeling sorry for himself.
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Old 11-05-2019, 06:12 PM
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It isn't uncommon for new inmates to come to the conclusion that their loved ones should forget about them, go on with their lives. Please continue writing, visit when you can.....he'll come around and (I hope) appreciate your support.
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Old 11-05-2019, 07:41 PM
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It's to do with acceptance on all fronts. He's new to the prison experience and it may be that shutting you out or anyone he can't touch or be with as was in the free world is something he can't cope with. The only way to cope is to not be a part of it. His defense mechanisms are growing stronger and he's putting that wall or that shield around himself to protect his emotions and his sanity. Write him once a month no matter whether he writes back or not. Keep it light....don't take anything to heart too seriously just now. Both of you are new to this and it's not easy. Time takes care of all and in the end it's the patient woman/man who wins in the end. Be patient with him dear and be good to yourself.
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Old 11-06-2019, 07:19 AM
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Quote:
Despite my attempts at reaching out he wont speak to me, wont answer my e-mails and even returned to sender another handwritten letter that I tried to send.
He is probably trying to (misguidedly) protect you. Imagine if the worst thing you ever did in your life, your deepest darkest secret, was posted on a billboard with your full name an address for the entire world to see. You would probably shrink into yourself and try to avoid eye contact with your friends and family.

You didn't do anything wrong. He did something that was awful by his own estimation and he's been publicly humiliated by the court process. Depending on his crime, he may have other inmates telling him that his family is never going to speak to him again and that they hate him. Some inmates like to play terrible mind games on the "new kids".

My Dad went to the opposite end of the spectrum. He blamed me for being in prison, his letters were vitriolic, and he had "disowned" me so many times that I wasn't sure if I could get Power of Attorney for him. It took about 2 years for him to settle down, at which point, our relationship got better than it had been since I was about 7.

Your Dad is humiliated. He may be trying to preempt your disavowal of him, because it's less traumatizing to turn others away than to be turned away by others. Your Dad has also just gone through one of the most traumatizing, psyche-destroying events a person can go through (public humiliation is one of the worst 'punishments' a human can experience - this is why the stocks were used as punishment before being deemed cruel by the courts). He is trying to find his footing. It is not easy.

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It's frustrating and I keep flip-flopping between trying to figure out what I did wrong and being upset and resentful.
You didn't do anything wrong. He is adjusting to a new circumstance where everyone knows what he did and many will have an opinion on it which they will be more than happy to share with him. There's a lot of drama that goes on inside. You didn't do anything to make him quit writing you anymore than it was my fault my Dad went to prison. Your Dad is shrinking in on himself. My Dad lashed out at me. Both of those behaviors were for the same reason. My Dad was told that I would stop talking to him eventually - he tried to speed the process up by being a jackass to me. Your Dad is trying to make you go away by ignoring you.

Don't allow your Dad's behavior to dictate yours. If you want to write him, then write him. Tell him you still love him. Tell him you want to help him as much as you can. Tell him you'll visit if he'll let you (and if you can - I don't know how far a trip it would be for you, but even if it was only once per year, that would still be huge to him).

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I'm turning to this website looking for a community, looking for advice, looking to exchange stories and find people who really understand what I am going through as the adult daughter of an inmate.
You have found your community. Check out the entire site, there may be many more forums that might be helpful to you.

My Dad was arrested in 2011 for sexually molesting my Nephew over the span of a decade. At the time, Nephew was living with me and we were paying for him to go to college. I had to walk a very fine line of emotionally dealing with my Dad who was being belligerent and poring poison into my Mom's ears about me, try to hold my parents' household together (my Mom had dementia and was completely unable to take care of the household bills, etc), and emotionally support my Nephew. All that, without taking sides, and without any support from others - because all the "others" involved were looking to me for support.

I spent many hours crying in my closet - those wracking sobs that make it so you can't catch your breath and feel like you're going to throw up. I started a journal of "letters to dad" that I could/would never send, just to get the emotional poison out of my system so I could continue to function.

I found PTO after my Dad was in county, but before his sentencing. I haven't left since then. Not many people could understand the daughter/father scenario, but there were plenty of people who were still extremely supportive of me, and who helped me get through the really rough patches.

Your Dad may be trying to protect you, or he may be trying to protect himself, or both. There's no way of knowing. Write to him. It's his choice whether he's willing to read your letters or not. But write to him and let him know how much you love him and that you're still there for him. Postcards are good for that kind of thing because the writing is visible without having to open an envelope. It's hard to not read a postcard.

He is struggling to adapt to what amounts to a foreign culture. Like going to Singapore where you can be publicly caned for chewing gum. He's hyper alert and probably sleep deprived. This will calm down eventually. Keep that line open for him so that when he does calm down, he knows you're still there.

And take a few deep breaths right now. Remember to breathe. We're here. We understand.
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Old 11-06-2019, 08:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firebrand View Post
It's to do with acceptance on all fronts. He's new to the prison experience and it may be that shutting you out or anyone he can't touch or be with as was in the free world is something he can't cope with. The only way to cope is to not be a part of it. His defense mechanisms are growing stronger and he's putting that wall or that shield around himself to protect his emotions and his sanity. Write him once a month no matter whether he writes back or not. Keep it light....don't take anything to heart too seriously just now. Both of you are new to this and it's not easy. Time takes care of all and in the end it's the patient woman/man who wins in the end. Be patient with him dear and be good to yourself.
I will do just that. Once a month doesn't seem too intrusive but it's still enough to let him know that I am thinking about him and am still supportive. I appreciate you taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. -- in the mean time I'm gonna take your other piece of advice and be good to myself. I hope you do the same
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Old 11-26-2019, 10:03 AM
Daughter_26 Daughter_26 is offline
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Hey everyone, just an update on my previous situation... due to all the great advice that I received I was finally able to break the communication barrier with my father. The waters are still a little murky because a lot of our relationship is so tied up in what is happening on the outside... things with his business (or what's left of it...) and things with my employment that are overlapping compounded with the fact that he has little to no control of any of it. When we do speak; although it's very limited, all he wants me to do is give him information and as you can most likely imagine that puts me in a very awkward place between wanting to be loyal to him / being a "spy" on my current employer and being the morally upright and ethical person that would never divulge workplace information.

I have become very proficient in playing "dumb" to everyone involved (both my father and my employer) but it's really starting to take a toll on my mental state and emotional well being. I know what is going on with both parties, I have the information that he is seeking but I am doing my best to try and do the right thing for myself and everyone involved. draining.

What I wish, more than anything, is that we could have a normal father/daughter dynamic... ask each other about our lives, what we are up to, how we are coping with this situation, bullshit, joke and all the other ways that I would imagine fathers and daughters talk.

I fear that the only reason I was able to break the communication barrier is because he wanted information from me; NOT because he really wanted to.

I think I was naive in thinking that being in federal prison would somehow change him; make him realize what the truly important things in life are and how precious relationships can be.

By the way! I totally realize that my expectations are sky high & that I'm sappy and way overly emotional... that's who I am and who I'll always be (I've NEVER really been accepted for it... always told that I'm "extra" and that I need to "shut it down") Hence this long post.

This might not even make any sense to the casual reader and trust me I know how complex it sounds.... I have to live with it and feel the two polar pulls every day. It's mentally exhausting and honestly I'm just glad I have an outlet to type it all out.
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Old 11-26-2019, 11:10 AM
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Even though it is self serving on your Dad's part, reopening your communications with him sounds like a positive step to build on.

Wishing that some folks acted differently, especially family members, is not unusual. The problem is that we have very little ability to make them change who they are. You can't force him to change his behavior, only he has that power. All you can do is to insulate yourself, as much as possible anyway, from the turmoil his actions are causing you. Take care of yourself first.
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Old 11-27-2019, 05:53 AM
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If it makes you feel any better whatsoever, my Dad only opened lines of communication so that he could blame me for everything bad that ever happened to him. Initially. And to feed him information on things that, while he had the right to know about them, he couldn't find out on his own without ending up paying DOC for the privilege of being their guest.

But after a year or so, when it all finally sank in that this was his life now, and this was a direct result of his actions, he (slowly) started to change. He became happier to see me (pity I couldn't trust that happiness). Then, eventually, we had "new normal" conversations about life, the universe and everything.

Your Dad is have to make a significant and difficult change to his life. He's having to give up everything that ever made his life meaningful and associate with people whom he may have looked down upon at one point. He may be struggling to accept that he is now one of those people. He has a large adjustment to go through.

That you managed to reopen communication, no matter how tenuous it is right now, is a very good thing. Other inmates will give him a stern talking to if he complains about getting mail from you or you not doing "enough" for him. They'll straighten out that part for him. But it won't be instant.

It's fantastic that the door is open. The hard part is being patient while he figures out how to sort his "new normal" out and learns that he can still be loved.
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