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Now That Your Loved One Is Home... Please share stories about your loved one now they are home.

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  #1  
Old 09-27-2014, 06:58 AM
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Question Understanding a person who has just been released from prison....

Hello everyone,

I'd like to hear from families, friends, and of course, the formerly incarcerated, on the challenges experienced by those who have just come home and are re-adjusting. What has been the psychological impact of incarceration? What helps you to adjust to being outside again? What are some ways that your family and friends are most helpful? Least helpful? Please share as much as possible and be real--100%. I'm asking as I recently made friends with someone who came out of prison a year ago and is working on getting his life back together. I'd like to learn more about how I can be helpful and a friend to him. Thank you in advance!!!
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:57 AM
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Depending on how long they were imprisoned, the world has changed anywhere from a little bit, to almost becoming a totally different planet. I was warned that I would melt down when I encountered the availability of more than one brand of toothpaste in a store. Not true, but helping them to understand new technology, the new surveillance society (always being on camera), whatever, definitely helps. The biggest factor is being supportive since most old friends/co-workers/acquaintances are gone forever. He will probably have to develop a new support system, church, job, friends, which will take time, but understanding that it is only a process that he needs to work through, not a hopeless quest, is important for him.

Also seeking whatever help is necessary to maintain a positive attitude going forward will help him to mitigate all of the difficult times, which will happen.
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Old 09-27-2014, 02:58 PM
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Thank you for your response, fbopnomore.

That's definitely true--that depending on how much time the person was away, the world can seem like a totally different place. I was asked about the whole hash tags # by my friend, and I myself couldn't explain it because I don't use it. You're right though about teaching them about the changes in society, and especially developing a new support network. Depending on how much time the person was away, and what they were incarcerated for---the person loses friends, family, etc.

What are some ways to be supportive? I'm thinking of helping him with a resume, pointing him in the direction of jobs that he can apply for, and reminding him to stay on the straight and narrow, tell him about his strengths...Also, if he thinks about going backwards...to try to help him to stay on the forwards....
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FleetingDreams View Post
Thank you for your response, fbopnomore.

That's definitely true--that depending on how much time the person was away, the world can seem like a totally different place. I was asked about the whole hash tags # by my friend, and I myself couldn't explain it because I don't use it. You're right though about teaching them about the changes in society, and especially developing a new support network. Depending on how much time the person was away, and what they were incarcerated for---the person loses friends, family, etc.

What are some ways to be supportive? I'm thinking of helping him with a resume, pointing him in the direction of jobs that he can apply for, and reminding him to stay on the straight and narrow, tell him about his strengths...Also, if he thinks about going backwards...to try to help him to stay on the forwards....
Definitely helping him with his resume and locating work is supportive just keep in mind that he will be the one who works the job so definitely go after what he wants to do and/or has experience in. As to reminding him to stay on the straight and narrow, be very careful how you do that. My husband and I are both ex-offenders and the last thing either one of us wanted to hear when we first got out was a reminder on staying on the straight and narrow. In fact, I have a step son that my husband constantly harped on about what he needed to do and Justin ended up doing the exact opposite to spite him. In the end, we all know what we have to do, and what I needed personally, was just someone to have my back and to just listen when the temptation was there. I hope this helps some.
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Old 09-28-2014, 06:35 AM
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Thank you for your response. I've been talking to him about the kind of work he wants to do. Because of his record, it is very difficult for him to find gainful employment. He is employed right now, but it is off the books. He said any job he gets would have to be off the books. We haven't made a resume yet, but we did talk about job interviews. He asked about whether he should be honest, and I told him he should, but that he doesn't have to tell the entire story. Be real, but not let everything out. I'm sure this is very difficult and I'd like to learn how ex-offenders are able to get gainful employment so that they can continue with their life outside successsfully.

Thank you for telling me about how reminding someone to stay on the "straight and narrow" can backfire. I certainly don't want to nag or harp on him. In the end, he has to make his own choices. As you said, your stepson Justin did the opposite. I meant more along the lines of, if he's thinking of doing illegal activity to make money---that can land him in jail or prison again---I'd like to tell him that he doesn't want to go backwards, but to move forwards. I told him this once before when he said he was considering doing XYZ again. That even though he may've been incarcerated before, it doesn't mean he has to make the same choices that bring him back there. Like you said, it's important to have the person's back, be supportive, and be a listening ear. Thank you very much for your insight, I appreciate it!
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Old 09-28-2014, 05:44 PM
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My brother really didn't experience anything negative about getting out other than having to deal with a PO. He had a job waiting for him (thanks, Dad). It wasn't fancy, but it was a good job with a lot of autonomy and nicely physical. He'd done 8 years in prison, and perhaps the biggest "problem" he had was that all of his buddies had grown up, had families, and he was still wanting to go out, get trashed, and cause trouble. So, he dumped his old crew and picked up a younger crew.

His 70 days county had more of an impact: he can't drive for the next 3 years and will have to have an IID for several years after that. They still don't make an acceptable IID for a motorcycle, so now he has to beg rides, or risk getting busted. His parole after 8 years did not involve all of that.

People involved with computer crimes have restrictions on use of computers. People involved in financial crimes have restrictions on handling money. Sex offenders have their own restrictions. Drugs and alcohol have their own, and many of them extend well beyond parole because driving is a privilege, not a right.

Those who went in 10 years ago knew about cell phones, but not smart phones. Those who went in 15-20 years ago were reliant on beepers. Now days, it's all iTunes and various types of iPod like devices. The generation before was CDs, the generation before that was cassette tapes, and before that was 8-tracks and lps. It might mean a ton to somebody who's into music or communications or wondering what happened to Super Mario or Castle Wolfenstein, but means nothing to a total Luddite.

If you want to support somebody just out of prison, look at how long that person was in, under what conditions. Find out how ofetn people visited as no visitation means no real sense of time changing. Don't let him get a haircut or pick out clothes without first doing a bit of research, which for him means watching tv and doing some people watching. If he's been in a while, he needs to get a new driver's license and similar IDs, a bank account, and a PO Box, especially if his residence isn't stable.

He's going to have to upgrade his skills unless his job skills are in ditch digging, janitorial arts, or something that doesn't use computers let alone iPads and the like. He'll need help navigating insurance, getting a primary care physician, and getting the basics, like a physical and dental out of the way. He should get an eye exam as well.

Anchor in the things that haven't changed - a Big Mac is a Big Mac, and pepper it with stuff that has changed. Remember, you're not always going to know how things have changed and how important those things are until he tells you.

Get him into a routine as quickly as possible. Exercise classes or organized runs or bike rides are a good way to meet people and have something scheduled. The library has programs that are generally free that will allow him to schedule his time and get him meeting people in a structured environment. This way all of his time isn't spent trying to get a job or worrying about a job, and the contacts he makes may lead him somewhere.

Some people find the transition rough, and some people have no problems. Respond to his needs. There's stuff you can anticipate, and stuff you cannot.

Psychologically, know that it could be a few months for symptoms to show up. Don't schedule time at a large concert unless he insists, and make an escape plan - being around a lot of loud people can be problematic. Get him to slow down eating his food by engaging in talk. Food guarding - putting his arm around his food - can also be a problem. Lounging in a hot bath can be a wonderfully therapeutic thing as well.
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Old 09-28-2014, 10:56 PM
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Yourself, thank you for your insights. I wish every person coming out had a job waiting for them. It would really go a long way. It seems that when a person has been away a long time, they want to make up for that lost time. I'm saying this based on what you described with your brother about his friends moving on in life, but him wanting to still go out there and party. Interesting also that his 70 days in county had more of an impact.

I understand that there are restrictions depending on the offense. Sometimes these restrictions can be suffocating though.

I really will take everything you said into consideration. He was away long enough to be effected by it--4 years--close to 5. Reading the stories on here, and hearing his situation is heartbreaking. To hear that family and friends fade away, very few stay in your life...I can't fathom that. He seems to have some stuff going with him as far as having health insurance (Medicaid)...I'm not sure about the rest, it seems he talks about it when he feels up to it. I don't want there to be any pressure.

It is difficult to respond to his needs, as I'm learning how to do this without seeming too social worky (that's my profession) and also without overdoing it or underdoing it. I"m not even sure how to explain it. I do my best to encourage him as it seems he has low self-esteem from everything that's happened. I encourage him to know that he can go in a different direction, that he doesn't have to fall back on what he did before, but it's easy for me to say that...I'm not him, I haven't lived his life or been in his shoes.

I appreciate what you and everyone shared in this thread to help me understand what it's like for a person who has been newly released--even if that release was a year ago, it seems incarceration leaves its scars or mark, and it takes time to heal and move on from that. It is far more difficult when after a person has served their time, they are still being punished on the outside when they are unable to get a job, find decent housing...it's really awful. Thank you for your feedback in helping me to understand.
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:04 AM
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mine didnt come home.


congrats and good luck to you <3
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Old 10-02-2014, 06:06 AM
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I'm sorry yours didn't come home, Harley. My friend is home and I know he's struggling. I'd like to help him, but I can't want these things for him more than he does. I wish the best for you and your loved one.
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Old 10-13-2014, 01:05 PM
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I think their adjustment to the outside world depends on the length of their incarceration. Someone who was incarcerated for a few months may not have any problem with this. My husband was incarcerated for 14 years. So much has changed in that time period. It saddens him when he thinks about how much he missed. His grandmother passed, our son, who was still in my womb is 14 years old. First walk, talk everything he missed it. In spite of this he's adjusting ok. It takes a lot of patience. He was arrested as a teen so he's adjusting to being a man, taking care of his family and going to work. It's been 5 months and he hasn't been in any kind of trouble. I think going to work everyday and having a strong support system is a big reason why that is. It may sound crazy, but I honestly believe going to jail for 14 years is what he needed to turn his life around. All his friends, with the exception of 2, are dead. I feel like prison saved him.
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:50 PM
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If I understand things correctly, you met someone who was released a while back. You are trying to learn about what he may be going through with his readjustment. You are trying to learn all of this so that you can "help" him.

Since this is my understanding of the situation (based on what you wrote) then I see this new friendship ending the moment you put your "helpful" plan into action. No disrespect but if he has not asked for any of this then why would you think he wants this from you? What specifically has he said to you that would give you this idea that you should go learn all of this and then swoop in as his "savior"?

This man was released a year ago as you said. He has not re-offended. He is not catching violations. He is "putting his life back together". On HIS own. On HIS terms. In HIS way. I don´t understand where any of this is even coming from. If the man is this instance was ME, I would cut you off as you opened your mouth with your "help" and let you know that you are no longer welcome in my life.

I guess I was wrong, I DO mean disrespect. Re-think this plan of yours and STOP! If you care at all then leave this man be! smh
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Old 11-22-2014, 03:09 PM
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Ok I can see that he IS reaching out to you. Sorry I couldnt get through all of what you wrote. The color of your font is very difficult for me to see and it hurts my eyes to read it. I still havent read it all but I read enough to see that I jumped the gun a bit. I apologize. I tend to get offended by posts of "saving" someone or teaching/helping/etc etc. I have seen many of those over the years and it just rubs me the wrong way.

I do not think you have seen my prior post since you havent responded. I did not take it down because I publicly made my response to you and it has been up about 24 hrs or so now. I have no idea how many people may have read it at this point, and to remove it would essentially be me talking shit about you behind your back. And I do not do that. So it is there, and this is here to those who may have seen. I apologize. Hope I didn´t mess up your night

One small piece of advice while you try to help him. Getting help from someone is great. Everyone needs someone to answer the questions we dont know (turn on lights, phone whatever). But for a man, even a young man, confidence is only built off the blood sweat and tears of his efforts/failures/successes. It is good to help, but dont help too much. There is no greater feeling than the feeling of pride a man feels having done it on his own (with minimal outside help). And for a man who is truly turning his life around, this is his only opportunity to do this.
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Old 11-22-2014, 04:52 PM
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Nakeisha, thank you for your input. I agree that the length of incarceration has a lot to do with it. As you mentioned, the world has completely changed in those 14 years. I'm glad to hear he is doing the best he can to get his life back in order, especially after so much time being incarcerated. I think it is possible, that for some, incarceration...may be the thing for some people to turn their lives around. I really can't say for certain. Thank you for sharing your input and experience.

Erinmichaels, I'm leaving the font and color alone so that my response to you is readable. My situation with this man was confusing. On one hand, it sounded like he wanted a friend. On the other hand, he sounded like he wanted guidance or at least, to speak to someone who works with his population. It also sounded like he wanted a hook-up.... So it was

A.Friend
B. Social Worker
C. Sex/Hook-up
D. All of the above

And often times, I didn't know which he wanted. With a friend, he said he thought I was sincere, like someone he can talk to. With helping him...he talked often about feeling depressed, anxious, that it's difficult for him to have stable housing and employment due to his record. So based on that, yes, at the time, I jumped in thinking I could help or guide or I don't know...do something positive in my interactions with him. I also am a social worker by profession, so it's what I naturally do. Looking back, I tried to be helpful or a friend, and at the same time, I was going through my own stuff at the time too, and him and I just happened to run into each other. I was getting over a break-up and not really in the best or clearest mindset. We just happened to collide into each other night, having no idea about each other at all.

Sometimes he would ask me about jobs. For example, he asked if I knew about the cleaning company at the job I worked at. I got the information for him--the company, contact person, and phone number. He said text it to him, so I did. When I would ask him if he looked into it, he would say he has to check his texts. So I don't know what he did with the information---whatever he did with it is his business. I even told him about this website as he once commented it would be better to talk to someone he can relate to. I can't relate to him because my life is so vastly different from his and vice-versa. Or another time, he mentioned what he wrote on a job application and we discussed about what to say and not say on those applications... For example, where it asks about if he has any prior convictions/felonies...he could check "yes" and then write "will explain on interview" ---this, as opposed to putting buzzwords that can get his application thrown out such as "cocaine". We talked about how to really advocate for himself...to turn what he's doing now for work into something that shows his skills and his capabilities so that he could get a better job for himself.

Was I trying to be helpful on some level? Yes, I was. I thought by listening to him, spending time with him (for the brief time that him and I did), by trying to look past his criminal past---which was very difficult for me because of what the offense was---I thought this would mean something to him.

Looking back, I can see how it can be considered demeaning to do that to someone. So in reading your posts, although the initial one sounded harsh, at the same time I was able to see what you mean. Trying to "help" or "save" someone or whatever time one can use....this can come off as condescending to the person. Although this was never my intention to come off this way, I can see why it would be viewed that way. I do appreciate your apology, but I'm glad you offered your views. I also learned that it is really best to keep good boundaries...and not to be the social worker to friends...just as I wouldn't be a friend to my clients.

And yes, although he was released a year ago--he has re-offended. He actually re-offended less than a month after his parole was complete. He already has another charge (a misdemeanor) and has been in and out of court. He's out on bail right now. Him and I haven't spoken in a month, and at this point, who knows what will happen. There are many factors that have led to this point, but I still wish him all the best, I hope he does learn and get his life together. As you said, it would have to be on his own, on his own terms, and with his own efforts. Not mine. If he ever needs a friend or someone to talk to, I'll be there for him. But I will not pursue him any further.

Last edited by FleetingDreams; 11-22-2014 at 05:10 PM.. Reason: Adding more thoughts to my initial post
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Old 11-22-2014, 06:14 PM
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Thanks for leaving the color off!

Here´s my thoughts on catching a case a month after discharge from paper. Some people, myself included, do well on paper. When someone is always watching and waiting to lock you up you change up and tow the line. Sometimes it even feels like it may be real, as it was for me. I discharged from probation early for "excellent adjust into the community" on 01/06/94 without a single violation or dirty urine. I committed the crime that sent me to prison on 03/05/94. I did over 13 years straight inside and changed as much as I could/was willing to do while living in those conditions. Spent 24 months on parole and discharged, again, without a single violation or dirty urine. Extreme panic set in until I was able to pass my personal milestones until it became clear I wasnt going to self destruct. Now, over 7 years out, I have no fear of throwing my life away. I said all that to say this, it is troubling that he caught a case so soon after discharge. It is good that it´s not a felony. Maybe one more taste of court and jail will be the eye opener that he needs.

But, if you have read any of my early posts (I see you joined shortly before I did) you will see/saw that I basically have no faith in my fellow man. Especially ex-cons who arent walking blisters into their feet finding a job. So for future reference, beware of people asking for help. And I am not just talking criminals whether practicing or former. Everyone has a game, everyone has an agenda. Criminals, prisoners, ex-cons, and even "normals". It is up to us to spot the play and either shut it down or sidestep it. Using him as an example: Had he asked for help with WHERE to get help learning resume/interview/job seeking skills then by all means show him how to look it up himself or point him in the right direction. Asking you, a social worker, (meaning not a job seeking specialist or whatever it is called) about how to answer questions on an app or how to do a resume - to me ......is a game.

I will state this as my opinion but I have seen it so much in so many people that I believe it to be fact. In my opinion, if you offer unasked for advice/help to a former prisoner specifically (or anyone in general) and they arent at least a little taken aback.....be suspicious. If they begin to lean on you to do things for them instead of asking to show them how, be suspicious. And for the former prisoner, if you again offer unasked for help and they arent offended the second time then in my opinion you are being set up to be played. (Because a man getting out of prison NEEDS to feel like he can do this, if he really is trying to stay free). Look at the time leading up to your decision to offer the help and honestly look to see if this was really your own idea. You dont have to be some smooth talking con artist to manipulate someone. You just have to pick the right type of people. And please dont be offended by this but a social worker is someone who wants to help people so much they went to school and chose this as a career. Someone who likes and wants to help could be taken advantage of by someone who plays the victim well.

I have become a sporadic poster since my discharge, only posting sometimes with long stretches in between. But I do come on and browse from time to time. I really like reading stories from people who get out, struggle like we all do in our own way, and keep going. Never re-offending. Never creating new victims even if the victim is themselves. Those are the one´s I root for, but only after they have embraced the struggle. Sadly too many give up and go back. Too many refuse to give themselves an honest chance to stay free. And for those I just have no patience. Not just on here but in real life. I have cut and cut and cut until almost all are gone except a few who have proven to themselves, and me through their continue freedom, that they are not a lost cause. THOSE are the one´s I would give the shirt off of my back! Ironically though, THOSE are the one´s who would never except that shirt because they can damn well get there own.

Ok now I am just rambling. My apoloigies. It is after midnight where I am and though I am a grown ass man, this is past my bedtime. I appreciate you accepting my apology for harsh/rude comments. And I am glad for you that you can see he needs to do this on his own in order to feel he has "earned" his place in society. (It is strange to say it like that I know, but that is how I felt. Maybe other´s dont idk).

Anyways have a great night!
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Old 11-22-2014, 07:05 PM
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Hi erinmichaels, you are very welcome! I wanted to say I read your post and I want to respond in detail to what you wrote. I have to run now and you have to sleep, but I hope I write back asap...it was a real eye opener and I greatly appreciate the feedback. It gave me something to really think about...and some of what you wrote, I had considered. Especially the part about playing games...this rang loudly in my head. BTW, since you had joined earlier than me...your name sounds familiar. Anyway, get a good nite's sleep, I'll respond back soon..thank you again!
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Old 11-23-2014, 06:44 PM
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After 6 years inside, I found that I’m very suspicious and distrustful of others since I got out a couple years ago. To be honest, I found most CO’s and prison counselors to be a deceitful, backstabbing lot who were always looking for and quick to exploit any possible way to give prisoners grief. Six years of being under their thumb, being subjected to their frequently dirty tricks and being treated like a sub-human slave has left me with enduring consequences. They burned up all the trust, optimism, naiveté, gullibility and innocence I used to have in me and along with it, they also moved me into a mode of serious suspicion and distrust. It doesn’t apply to family or my rather few friends, but it’s otherwise overpowering.

I’m at zero risk of repeating what got me inside, so that’s not an issue. The Parole time I’ve done has been 100% clean and 100% compliant, but I still have zero trust of anybody who’s part of “the system”---PO’s included.

Maybe after I’m off of Parole for a few years it’ll lighten up, but that’s nowhere near being on the horizon just yet...
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:23 PM
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You're welcome, Erinmichaels! (I made it bold, I hope that's okay...and I changed the font, but no colors.)

First, thank you for sharing your experiences and your insights. I appreciate it and it definitely gives me something to think about and consider.

I think that's very possible for some folks to do better when they know they're being watched. You stay on guard, dot all your i's and cross your t's, so to speak. Do everything you can to *not* be locked up again. You were locked up for a really long time and you had a long time of being on parole. I'm wondering if the length of time, the individual person, or what other factors influence a person to do their best to, or as you put it, not self-destruct.

I'm troubled by it too---that less than a month later, he does something else that gets him arrested, sent to jail...and he's out on bail. You're right, maybe he needs to go through the whole thing again to really be done with it. I'm not sure though...only because he was out on bail on another charge, when he did the felonies that landed him in prison for 4-5 years.

I think I might've read your early posts during my first run here.

What you wrote about people asking for help vs. those who actually seek to do what they can do for themselves was very insightful. You're right: many people have a game and an agenda. I can see why him asking me about a resume (or me just giving him info about an upcoming job fair) can be a game...it opens the door to "she's too nice and is easy to play" as opposed to asking where can I learn this? Or "who can I talk to about this". Someone who is willing to do the legwork is more serious, as opposed to someone who just accepts the unsolicited suggestions. At times, he asked, and other times, I freely offered. So it was a mixed bag.

I'm looking back at that time of what leding to the decision to offer the help...and I don't think it was purely my own idea. The first conversation included him saying "I've made some mistakes"...etc. This after me and a friend explained we had just come out of church. Even in our first conversation on the phone...I've had to rack my brains to remember how me being a social worker ever came up. It's not something I always mention off the bat, unless I'm asked what I do for a living. Somehow it came up, and when it did....from his end it was shock as in "you went to school?" and then later on him saying he doesn't have an education...I don't know what his perception of it was. I was told by one person that he might've felt inferior to me or less than me. I hope that doesn't sound bad, but that's what I was told. My educational background is not something I flaunt around especially with someone I just met. And later on in that conversation, it was him wanting to tell me things, but wondering if I could keep it confidential...being that I'm a social worker, certain things can't be kept confidential. The area was gray because I had just met him, he isn't my client... And even further confusing was him asking me about certain things and I had to explain that I don't work with a specific population and his response was "but I thought you said you were a social worker"...and I told him I don't know every population's unique needs. It would be a disservice to him if I were to act like I know how to help or guide him with the concerns he brought up, when I have no experience in it at all (and I don't mean with resume writing or job interviews.)

I'm not offended at all. It's very true that someone who likes to help people (whether they are a social worker or not, or just as someone who cares for others) is definitely an easy target. I know some of the red flags are playing the victim (I call it "pity ploy"). I saw it and I chose to go forward because of my own issues which I definitely see now. On one hand, I was being genuine, on another...as I said in earlier post, I was getting over a break-up and was lonely...so some of this is definitely my own responsibility.

What you said about those who truly want to make it out there, who continue to struggle, no matter what, who want to be successful and do what they can to make it, really spoke a lot in my mind. It was a very intriguing contrast to those who as you said sometimes just give up, or don't give themselves a chance to stay free. I don't want to make it sound like coming out of prison and rebuilding your life is an easy thing...from what I've read on here and have observed for many people--it's a very difficult and trying task. From what I gather in your post, if you truly have the self-motivation to do your best to rebuild your life...you can do it. It has to come from within one's self.

Often times, I've wondered if this person really wants to change, if he is so used to being in and out of jail, that he is repeating old patterns. Or, if it's that he feels that he's screwed up his life with this last charge, that nothing he does will make it better, so why bother trying? Sometimes I got that sense from him, and again, that could be part of the "poor me/feel sorry for me" trap. I don't know. I don't want to judge harshly as I'm not in his shoes and at the same time, for my own protection, I have to be discerning.

Not rambling at all and no need to apologize. I do appreciate the apology, and I do appreciate your insights. I like to read from others on here the different views regarding this issue.

I hope one day he can feel that he did straighten his life out on his own--or that he continues to work his hardest to do what's right for him. At the end of the day, he has to want this for himself. I can't want it for him...he has to want it.

Have a good nite and thank you again! I might private message you to speak with you further about this...if that's okay with you.

----

Combs, thank you for sharing your experience. 6 years is a long time to go through what you did, and I'm sure mistrust is very understandable. It's terrible that those in the position to help...not necessarily the COs, but the counselors--were also the ones who you found to be untrustworthy. That's awful.

The guy I met said he had trust issues, but I wondered if it was from his time inside, or if he had them even before his incarceration. In your situation, I'm glad you were able to complete your parole successfully, and I wish you much continued success.

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Old 11-24-2014, 05:40 AM
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I have nothing to contribute other than saying thank you for changing your font and color. I didn't read your whole initial post either as it killed my eyes. My advice to you, keep it normal. Best of luck to you...
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:44 AM
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LOL Thank you, Summerlove. I'm going to change the other posts so that it's readable. I should've changed it when Erinmichaels first mentioned it. I agree with you about "keep it normal"...I guess that means to move forward from this person and not look back at this person...? Thank you for your thoughts.

P.S. I was going to change the font and color of my previous posts, but I realize I can't go back and do so. So lesson learned: no more purple color and Century Gothic (or whatever it's called) font!

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Old 11-24-2014, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by FleetingDreams View Post
You're welcome, Erinmichaels! (I made it bold, I hope that's okay...and I changed the font, but no colors.)

First, thank you for sharing your experiences and your insights. I appreciate it and it definitely gives me something to think about and consider.

I think that's very possible for some folks to do better when they know they're being watched. You stay on guard, dot all your i's and cross your t's, so to speak. Do everything you can to *not* be locked up again. You were locked up for a really long time and you had a long time of being on parole. I'm wondering if the length of time, the individual person, or what other factors influence a person to do their best to, or as you put it, not self-destruct.

I'm troubled by it too---that less than a month later, he does something else that gets him arrested, sent to jail...and he's out on bail. You're right, maybe he needs to go through the whole thing again to really be done with it. I'm not sure though...only because he was out on bail on another charge, when he did the felonies that landed him in prison for 4-5 years.

I think I might've read your early posts during my first run here.

What you wrote about people asking for help vs. those who actually seek to do what they can do for themselves was very insightful. You're right: many people have a game and an agenda. I can see why him asking me about a resume (or me just giving him info about an upcoming job fair) can be a game...it opens the door to "she's too nice and is easy to play" as opposed to asking where can I learn this? Or "who can I talk to about this". Someone who is willing to do the legwork is more serious, as opposed to someone who just accepts the unsolicited suggestions. At times, he asked, and other times, I freely offered. So it was a mixed bag.

I'm looking back at that time of what leding to the decision to offer the help...and I don't think it was purely my own idea. The first conversation included him saying "I've made some mistakes"...etc. This after me and a friend explained we had just come out of church. Even in our first conversation on the phone...I've had to rack my brains to remember how me being a social worker ever came up. It's not something I always mention off the bat, unless I'm asked what I do for a living. Somehow it came up, and when it did....from his end it was shock as in "you went to school?" and then later on him saying he doesn't have an education...I don't know what his perception of it was. I was told by one person that he might've felt inferior to me or less than me. I hope that doesn't sound bad, but that's what I was told. My educational background is not something I flaunt around especially with someone I just met. And later on in that conversation, it was him wanting to tell me things, but wondering if I could keep it confidential...being that I'm a social worker, certain things can't be kept confidential. The area was gray because I had just met him, he isn't my client... And even further confusing was him asking me about certain things and I had to explain that I don't work with a specific population and his response was "but I thought you said you were a social worker"...and I told him I don't know every population's unique needs. It would be a disservice to him if I were to act like I know how to help or guide him with the concerns he brought up, when I have no experience in it at all (and I don't mean with resume writing or job interviews.)

I'm not offended at all. It's very true that someone who likes to help people (whether they are a social worker or not, or just as someone who cares for others) is definitely an easy target. I know some of the red flags are playing the victim (I call it "pity ploy"). I saw it and I chose to go forward because of my own issues which I definitely see now. On one hand, I was being genuine, on another...as I said in earlier post, I was getting over a break-up and was lonely...so some of this is definitely my own responsibility.

What you said about those who truly want to make it out there, who continue to struggle, no matter what, who want to be successful and do what they can to make it, really spoke a lot in my mind. It was a very intriguing contrast to those who as you said sometimes just give up, or don't give themselves a chance to stay free. I don't want to make it sound like coming out of prison and rebuilding your life is an easy thing...from what I've read on here and have observed for many people--it's a very difficult and trying task. From what I gather in your post, if you truly have the self-motivation to do your best to rebuild your life...you can do it. It has to come from within one's self.

Often times, I've wondered if this person really wants to change, if he is so used to being in and out of jail, that he is repeating old patterns. Or, if it's that he feels that he's screwed up his life with this last charge, that nothing he does will make it better, so why bother trying? Sometimes I got that sense from him, and again, that could be part of the "poor me/feel sorry for me" trap. I don't know. I don't want to judge harshly as I'm not in his shoes and at the same time, for my own protection, I have to be discerning.

Not rambling at all and no need to apologize. I do appreciate the apology, and I do appreciate your insights. I like to read from others on here the different views regarding this issue.

I hope one day he can feel that he did straighten his life out on his own--or that he continues to work his hardest to do what's right for him. At the end of the day, he has to want this for himself. I can't want it for him...he has to want it.

Have a good nite and thank you again! I might private message you to speak with you further about this...if that's okay with you.

----

Combs, thank you for sharing your experience. 6 years is a long time to go through what you did, and I'm sure mistrust is very understandable. It's terrible that those in the position to help...not necessarily the COs, but the counselors--were also the ones who you found to be untrustworthy. That's awful.

The guy I met said he had trust issues, but I wondered if it was from his time inside, or if he had them even before his incarceration. In your situation, I'm glad you were able to complete your parole successfully, and I wish you much continued success.

First off, Summerlove92 thanks for letting me know I am not just old! Hahaha that made me laugh

I believe length of time, age, possibly even crime are all factor´s as well as just the individual. I grew up as a criminal with nothing but criminal friends. Most of us went to prison. On this day, almost 7 1/2yrs after my release, the only ones who only did 1 bit in prison where the one´s who served 10+ years. The other´s who are out still - had numerous trips in and out of prison and/or jail until they hit some magical age that made them see the world differently. I say "magical" because I do not know what it is like to be a "short timer". I never understood their mentality and generally did not associate with them inside. Even when I made my way to low levels getting close to to door, I usually associated with other long termers who worked their way down and are in similar situations as me. But I also know long termers who went back, or just blew their chance of parole before they were even release. Some people find a "home" in prison. I did as well but I viewed it differently. Institutionalization is a very real thing. The thought, even for me, of getting out to a society that I never succeeded in and have to somehow figure everything out and survive.....is terrifying at times. The comfort you feel with the routine of prison life brings you confidence within the walls and fences, but also deeply implants insecurities about making it outside. Dont know if that makes sense or not.

4 or 5 years sounds like a long time but it is not. Especially for a young guy. Had I gotten out after 5/6/hell maybe even 10 years, my story would probably be very different. The yearly ritual of taking down a calender and putting a new one up - year after year after year after a total of 13 of them.......almost physically beats you. When you figure sleeping 6-8 hours a night, I almost slept 5 years away in prison. I did do 5 years in Camp. I did 4 years as a level 4, and 4 years as a level 2. So dont be confused about that. That man walked out feeling exactly as he did when he walked in 5 years prior. Maybe a little bit slicker. Maybe with a few more hustles. But the same. The Michigan Dept of Corrections grants you a 1 point reduction of your bad behavior points on your Security Classification screening at age 26. Maybe there is something to that for some, but it wasn´t that way for me. But I was doing alot of time and at 5 years (age 26 for me) I wasnt even halfway, so I was fully absorbed into the prison life.

Nobody in this world has ever changed a behavior that they liked. So, in my opinion, hatred is the key to staying out of prison. Hatred. I was a prisoner who grew to hate prisoners. Your stories. Your bullshit. Brokest dope dealers you ever met in your life. Nobody is a crack head and everyone is a drug dealer. They are still selling the same kilo of cocaine that arrived in 1983 from the way they tell it. It starts with the co´s. Everytime I saw one, even the one´s I paid off out of my store, I say in my mind "I hate this mf". Wardens. Kitchen staff. Any of them. ALL of them. Then it was prison. I hate prison. I hate prison so much that the prospect of ever going back still (all these years later) sometimes gives me nightmares. Then prisoner´s. I hated them. HATED them! There bullshit talk. The games. Seeing them go in and out like its a damn hotel when all they had to do was point at someone and say butcher him for a parole and that pos would have been well and truely butchered. I HATED them. My last couple of years I pretty much stayed out of the mix. Did my job, had my hustles (gotta eat and the only money I had when I got out was from my hustles), hit the weight pit and maybe walk a lap or 2 with a mellow. But other than that I was in my cell with a book and a fantasy.

I have very bad charges. Weapons, assaults, habitual status, prior drug cases. So his past crime has nothing to do with his current situation of creating new victims. Even if this time the victim is only himself. It is his beliefs, his attitude, and until HE decides that his worst day out here is still better than his best day inside.....he will keep going back.

I stated that change begins with hatred, but at some point it has to turn to hope. There are many many miserable people in this world who are perfectly content with the minimum. I even know some non-practicing criminals who are just as bad off and worthless as they were 20 some years ago when they go out for the last time. Those people have no "hope". Those people have no "dreams". Those people bought into the bullshit of never amounting to anything and now they are just bidding their time until they die. That is a very sad reality for them and a mentality that I just do not understand.

In many ways I am thankful for the time I served. I appealed my convictions. Michigan case law and the Michigan Court of Appeals case law state that the jury instructions at my trial were wrong. That because of this my Assault w/intent to rob while armed conviction should have been vacated and either a conviction for Attempted Armed Robbery be put in its place or the State could retry me. That didn´t happen. My appeal was denied and by the time I was ready to go to the Michigan Supreme Court the rules had changed about the length of time you had to file, so I was stuck. Had I won, that 10-30yr sentence for that one charge would have dropped to a 5 yr max. I wouldvé been out at 6-8yrs. Spending all that time with all those years over my head, and then one day having those years reduced. Released to society with a chip on my shoulder from the "wrong they did me". Desires of revenge. All of that would have ended horribly for me, and possibly for other´s as well. So I am thankful that I was able to receive the full prison experience and go through the hopelessness to the hatred to the hope. And that I was able to dream of a better life, an ACTUAL life and obtain happiness. And though I sound harsh and bitter at times, that is only with certain topics and certain situations. I have found happiness. And now, after all these years, I believe I have earned it and deserve it.

I cant speak for everyone, nor would I try if I could. I will never understand the life others have lived that have brought them to wherever they are today. But this is (an abbreviated) version of my story and my beliefs. It may not work for everyone but it worked for me. One of the best things I ever heard was from my Assaultive Offender therapist. He stated on day 1 of my MDOC mandated group that it doesnt matter WHY you are how you are. The ONLY thing that matters is that you ARE how you are. And if you arent ok with that, take steps to change it.

I dont mind a pm. I hope this helped some. Enjoy your night!
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Old 11-24-2014, 01:03 PM
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After 6 years inside, I found that I’m very suspicious and distrustful of others since I got out a couple years ago. To be honest, I found most CO’s and prison counselors to be a deceitful, backstabbing lot who were always looking for and quick to exploit any possible way to give prisoners grief. Six years of being under their thumb, being subjected to their frequently dirty tricks and being treated like a sub-human slave has left me with enduring consequences. They burned up all the trust, optimism, naiveté, gullibility and innocence I used to have in me and along with it, they also moved me into a mode of serious suspicion and distrust. It doesn’t apply to family or my rather few friends, but it’s otherwise overpowering.

I’m at zero risk of repeating what got me inside, so that’s not an issue. The Parole time I’ve done has been 100% clean and 100% compliant, but I still have zero trust of anybody who’s part of “the system”---PO’s included.

Maybe after I’m off of Parole for a few years it’ll lighten up, but that’s nowhere near being on the horizon just yet...
It does get better bro. Meaning that intense distrust ......lessens. But I doubt there will ever come a time in my life that I dont automatically suspect any and all people attached to law enforcement/criminal justice system of being pieces of garbage and out to abuse people. Cops, judges, lawyers, co´s, whatever. And for "those" co´s, wannabe cops who were too stupid/fat/lazy to be an actual cop. Mall security guards have more authority than them so no wonder why they enjoy plotting against inmates so much. Also it is no wonder so many face assault on the yard from those same inmates. They never grasped the concept that we were sent to prison AS punishment, not FOR punishment. Being removed from society and losing all of the rights and privileges that goes with that IS the punishment handed down from the courts. Anything else is abuse of power and f-ing with people.

It DOES get better. But it takes time to put distance between yourself and the system. And then your life will truely be yours and it wont matter as much. They become nothing. Nobodies. A bad memory of the past. Just dont go on youtube binges of watching video´s of cops murdering unarmed innocent people! Trust me on this one, you sound like me and this totally ruins weeks of otherwise pleasant life for me.

Edit:
Your post brought up images in my mind of "those" co´s that you speak of. And I made a blanket statement that was not true about all of them. Sometimes it takes me a minute to see the harshness of my own words. To any current/former co´s on this site....ESPECIALLY those of you I got cool with back in the day, that was not about you and has since been changed. But hopefully you didn´t see it. Sorry if you did.

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Old 11-24-2014, 11:01 PM
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Aw man, I liked my purple!

Based on your observations of short-timers vs long-timers--do you think long-timers just had a different mindset than short-timers? It does make sense what you described about institutionalization--learning to live behind the walls, becoming used to the routine and becoming adjusted to that lifestyle can make the outside world seem very frightening. There are very different challenges living outside and on the insi
de.

Because you were in longer, it sounds like it changed you. Whereas the guy I met, as you said...he walked out the way he went in. It seems that way. He didn't seem to hate prison enough for him to change his behavior or not want to return back there. Right now he's looking at county jail time...but I wonder if it's as you mentioned above: is he institutionalized? Is he used to being locked up and being out here is harder for him?


"Nobody in this world has ever changed a behavior that they liked." <---That's very true.

Hating prison is a definitely a good motivator for keeping you out of there. Like you said, if you like your behavior--you won't change it. And if you hate a particular place, in this case prison, you don't want to return.

The charges you mentioned are bad, but...I think his are in a different class. I don't mean to compare. I'm just saying it's different. I agree with you that it is his beliefs and attitude that need to change. That's the thing...I don't know if he's hit rockbottom yet. If he even sees that his worst day out here is better than his best day inside (I really like how you put that.)

I agree with you that the hatred has to turn to hope. I think for some, they stay stuck in the hatred. For those that have never had hope, do you think it's due to depression? That if they really believe they will never amount to anything--that they just gave up on life?

Thank you for sharing your experience in dealing with the Michigan law, and how your situation--although it must've been really difficult--you were able to turn it around for your benefit. I don't know if many former inmates feel as you do--to be thankful for the time served, that they were able to go from hatred to being hopeful. I'm thinking it takes a lot of insight, self-reflection, and motivation to make that change. It sounds like although you wanted the situation to work out to change the charge, having it remain as it did, helped you in the long run.

I'm glad you were able to dream that better life, and actually now live that better life for yourself. It's powerful what you shared--the entire transformation and everything you went through. I wish that the guy I met...could turn out as you did: in the sense of moving from the hatred to the hope.

"It doesnt matter WHY you are how you are. The ONLY thing that matters is that you ARE how you are. And if you arent ok with that, take steps to change it." <--That's very true and as you said above...nobody changes a behavior they don't like. You have to really not like the behavior, not like the consequences, and decide for yourself this isn't the life for me, in order for it to change. I just wonder why this works for some, but not for others.

Your post was very insightful and helpful, Erinmichaels.
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Old 11-25-2014, 04:34 AM
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First off, Summerlove92 thanks for letting me know I am not just old! Hahaha that made me laugh

I believe length of time, age, possibly even crime are all factor´s as well as just the individual. I grew up as a criminal with nothing but criminal friends. Most of us went to prison. On this day, almost 7 1/2yrs after my release, the only ones who only did 1 bit in prison where the one´s who served 10+ years. The other´s who are out still - had numerous trips in and out of prison and/or jail until they hit some magical age that made them see the world differently. I say "magical" because I do not know what it is like to be a "short timer". I never understood their mentality and generally did not associate with them inside. Even when I made my way to low levels getting close to to door, I usually associated with other long termers who worked their way down and are in similar situations as me. But I also know long termers who went back, or just blew their chance of parole before they were even release. Some people find a "home" in prison. I did as well but I viewed it differently. Institutionalization is a very real thing. The thought, even for me, of getting out to a society that I never succeeded in and have to somehow figure everything out and survive.....is terrifying at times. The comfort you feel with the routine of prison life brings you confidence within the walls and fences, but also deeply implants insecurities about making it outside. Dont know if that makes sense or not.

4 or 5 years sounds like a long time but it is not. Especially for a young guy. Had I gotten out after 5/6/hell maybe even 10 years, my story would probably be very different. The yearly ritual of taking down a calender and putting a new one up - year after year after year after a total of 13 of them.......almost physically beats you. When you figure sleeping 6-8 hours a night, I almost slept 5 years away in prison. I did do 5 years in Camp. I did 4 years as a level 4, and 4 years as a level 2. So dont be confused about that. That man walked out feeling exactly as he did when he walked in 5 years prior. Maybe a little bit slicker. Maybe with a few more hustles. But the same. The Michigan Dept of Corrections grants you a 1 point reduction of your bad behavior points on your Security Classification screening at age 26. Maybe there is something to that for some, but it wasn´t that way for me. But I was doing alot of time and at 5 years (age 26 for me) I wasnt even halfway, so I was fully absorbed into the prison life.

Nobody in this world has ever changed a behavior that they liked. So, in my opinion, hatred is the key to staying out of prison. Hatred. I was a prisoner who grew to hate prisoners. Your stories. Your bullshit. Brokest dope dealers you ever met in your life. Nobody is a crack head and everyone is a drug dealer. They are still selling the same kilo of cocaine that arrived in 1983 from the way they tell it. It starts with the co´s. Everytime I saw one, even the one´s I paid off out of my store, I say in my mind "I hate this mf". Wardens. Kitchen staff. Any of them. ALL of them. Then it was prison. I hate prison. I hate prison so much that the prospect of ever going back still (all these years later) sometimes gives me nightmares. Then prisoner´s. I hated them. HATED them! There bullshit talk. The games. Seeing them go in and out like its a damn hotel when all they had to do was point at someone and say butcher him for a parole and that pos would have been well and truely butchered. I HATED them. My last couple of years I pretty much stayed out of the mix. Did my job, had my hustles (gotta eat and the only money I had when I got out was from my hustles), hit the weight pit and maybe walk a lap or 2 with a mellow. But other than that I was in my cell with a book and a fantasy.

I have very bad charges. Weapons, assaults, habitual status, prior drug cases. So his past crime has nothing to do with his current situation of creating new victims. Even if this time the victim is only himself. It is his beliefs, his attitude, and until HE decides that his worst day out here is still better than his best day inside.....he will keep going back.

I stated that change begins with hatred, but at some point it has to turn to hope. There are many many miserable people in this world who are perfectly content with the minimum. I even know some non-practicing criminals who are just as bad off and worthless as they were 20 some years ago when they go out for the last time. Those people have no "hope". Those people have no "dreams". Those people bought into the bullshit of never amounting to anything and now they are just bidding their time until they die. That is a very sad reality for them and a mentality that I just do not understand.

In many ways I am thankful for the time I served. I appealed my convictions. Michigan case law and the Michigan Court of Appeals case law state that the jury instructions at my trial were wrong. That because of this my Assault w/intent to rob while armed conviction should have been vacated and either a conviction for Attempted Armed Robbery be put in its place or the State could retry me. That didn´t happen. My appeal was denied and by the time I was ready to go to the Michigan Supreme Court the rules had changed about the length of time you had to file, so I was stuck. Had I won, that 10-30yr sentence for that one charge would have dropped to a 5 yr max. I wouldvé been out at 6-8yrs. Spending all that time with all those years over my head, and then one day having those years reduced. Released to society with a chip on my shoulder from the "wrong they did me". Desires of revenge. All of that would have ended horribly for me, and possibly for other´s as well. So I am thankful that I was able to receive the full prison experience and go through the hopelessness to the hatred to the hope. And that I was able to dream of a better life, an ACTUAL life and obtain happiness. And though I sound harsh and bitter at times, that is only with certain topics and certain situations. I have found happiness. And now, after all these years, I believe I have earned it and deserve it.

I cant speak for everyone, nor would I try if I could. I will never understand the life others have lived that have brought them to wherever they are today. But this is (an abbreviated) version of my story and my beliefs. It may not work for everyone but it worked for me. One of the best things I ever heard was from my Assaultive Offender therapist. He stated on day 1 of my MDOC mandated group that it doesnt matter WHY you are how you are. The ONLY thing that matters is that you ARE how you are. And if you arent ok with that, take steps to change it.

I dont mind a pm. I hope this helped some. Enjoy your night!
Excellent post from the perspective of and ex prisoner. Thank you so much for it. It's raw and real .And it's in black so i read all of it,lol. Best of luck to you and yours.
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Old 12-10-2014, 08:48 PM
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I'm hoping my husband will be released next month after 23 years. Yes...23 years! I'm so scared, but so grateful and exited to start the next chapter in our lives.
What's it like when he walks out that gate? I can only imagine the butterflies I will have in my stomach, can't imagine his nerves. Will he smile or be too scared to be happy? After living with a cellie for all those years, will be still want someone to "room" with? Is he going to be skeptical of everyone - always looking over his shoulder? How do I not smuther him with affection? Will he even want all the affection I have to give? Sex? Oh god, is that going to be all the time, everyday? Oh I'm soooo excited but scared of the unknown.
Any advise?
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Old 12-23-2014, 10:06 AM
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23 yrs is a long time.
I think I'd just give the advice of take things slow.
My hub was only in just over 5 yrs.
He settled in fairly quickly but we still have our struggles and I suspect we will continue to at least till he's off parole.
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