Saturday, February 27, 2016

After the Knock on the Door: Some of us visit someone in prison or jail (especially if your "offender" is your son or grandson or a husband who takes responsibility for what he's done, or if you have children who still need to resolve issues with the person who took advantage of them)

Even deciding to keep in touch is complicated. Many "offenders" face long sentences and the shock of visiting can be almost as great as the chaos we experience after the initial arrest. 
I wrote the post below to comfort and encourage a woman whose son is in jail awaiting sentencing and who is trying desperately to keep her connection with her son alive because in spite of everything she loves him.


I don't know how old you are or how much other family you have to help you through this but as I get older, I'm not thrilled at the inevitabilitys I'm facing as I age. I for one, can't think of much worse than to outlive everyone I care about and end up alone among strangers when I am old and can't fend for myself.  

I don't know what kind of sentence your son faces but he sees the old guys on the yard and the graying couple/ mothers in visiting and it's like looking fate in the face. 

Your son faces the prospect of (perhaps) quite a long time in 
prison and the loss of not only a lot of his productive years but perhaps the loss of his mother who, it sounds like is his life line during this time. 

If he calls you a couple of times a day from jail he needs to hear your voice and know you are still alive as much as you sound like you need to hear his voice and know he's still alive and relatively safe. So what if you sit in silence during visits? Just try to make it's a companionable silence when you visit. As long as you can hug him and see his face? What you say to each other doesn't matter nearly as much as that you don't take all this hurt and anger and betrayal out on each other and make a bad situation worse. Don't cut each other off. There is a lot to work through and it takes time to let go of negative emotions that have power to corrode life long after the initial harm has been done.

There is a verse in Job that matters to me: "There is this of a tree, if it be cut down the tender branch there of shall rise again." Stop focusing on loss. Talk to your son about how both of you will (eventually) find ways to rise again. There are useful things he can find to do inside. That verse applies to us all. 

For now, maybe ask him what 
music he wants to hear and see if you can play a few minutes of a favorite song for him next time he calls you. Tell him you are in for the long haul. Tell him you aren't goi ng away any time soon.    Tell him what they/ we too are going through  too not as a way to guilt him but as a way to include him as you and your family grow past the huts.  Read comments or comment on sites like this or on sites like Daily Strength Families of sex Offenders  and discuss how we/ they handle what they're going through in visiting and on the outside. Ask his opinion. Tell him what others say about their situations how they handle this and other stuff that comes up because we are you and he are all in this together now.  

See what he thinks about what you read. About what others go through and how they handle things.  Ask him how he thinks you (both) could handle this, or ask him if he has a suggestion to offer someone about how they might handle something they are going through and post his ideas and tell him what the response was. 

Include him in this life.

Grow a better, more honest life between the two of you so you will have a better more honest life in the future with all the people you love and who love you. If you decide to make the attempt to grow past this make him part of it as he grows. He needs you and you need him and we all need each other. And if there are children involved they already have too much to deal with. They don't need more secrets, more unresolved guilt.  We all need people who understand the joys and sorrows of this life after the Knock on the door.  Listen and then do something to make your life and his ( and your children's lives) better. 

I suggest you find a way to let go of your anger and be glad you can still hear the sound of his voice. Be glad you can visit often. Even if you visit so often that you sometimes run out of things to say to each other. Decide to be glad you are both alive. Decide to make the most of the time you have together and apart. 

Do things on purpose. Take care of yourself. Get up and go read all the funny greeting cards on the wrack at the grocery store. Send him the funniest card. Write I love you inside the card. Then go get your hair cut. Some people search the internet not only other women like us so they will know they are not so alone in making hard decisions but they look for jokes and funny jokes/ pictures to print off and send in (cheaper than a card)  Shop the thrift stores and find something "new" in a pretty color.  Watch a comedy and if that doesn't cheer you up watch another one! 

Make a list of what makes you feel better and actually get up and do it and then you'll have something to talk about.

Get on with constructing your new life. Include him if you decide it best for you not to cut him off.  A woman recently posted on Not the Life who said after two years she has decided to participate in therapy with her husband. She doesn't know if she'll ever be able to trust him again, but sometimes it's worth finding the answer to that question because all of us need / have to make the same decision, if not with him, at least down the road with someone else....

Take Care, Janet Mackie.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Living in fear of "What will people think" now that our world has imploded

On the issue of "speaking out"  (aka becoming visible)  To the degree that each one can do something (no matter what degree of visibility we choose ) we need to do that.   Not just fbecause we feel angry and mis-understood but to free ourselves from the pervasive fear we each feel at the idea of being exposed to derision and contempt.

There are very real  consequences that result can result from being labeled and googled on the internet etc.  Many people have been traumatized by what happened to their lives and their families after  the initial law enforcement "knock on the door" ( I would have been fired from my job had my employer known, maybe not for "that" reason but some "reason" would have occurred to them. I used a post office box so my address wouldn't come up in a google search at work etc. I became adept at being friendly but I didn't have friends I really talked to. But then I was well schooled in childhood not to "Tell." family business even if it was family incest )

A lot of us (as wives,  mothers, Gf's, friends, family spent our lives in isolation even before "this happened" We never really had any idea what was going on in our own lives even when it had "happened to some of us in childhood, we blanked all that out in order to survive then just like maybe our wn sexually abuse children are "blanking out" now. The point of therapy is to deal whith the "effects now not close over and carry hurt and "balnk out" not be secret survivors) But we didn't know until  the rug suddenly got pulled out from under our world, until  the 'nice' middle class facade cracked and the Haters (and the self hatred) came rushing in..

Some of us found out that our children had been grievously harmed, some for years, while at the same time we realized we ourselves had been betrayed by a partner we loved and had been loyal to We found we had been  lied to, made a fool of,  again,  sometimes for years on end and OUR children too. . Some of us just got stuck (again?) in all that trauma for years. We crept back into isolation carrying a burden of unresolved anger and hurt and (yes) love.

Being able to read comments on sites like Not the Life, on Daily strength, on Women Against Registry,  helps people on every side begin to comprehend that this isn't simply "our" family's problem, It can't be helped by old beliefs and old prejudice run rampant (once a ... always a...isn't true  any more than once sexually abused...forever a victim)  but how to see and stop the cycle?  Hatred, self blame doesn't help, hating our abuser or our "significant other' doesn't help. The Adam Walsh Act, the National Registry solves nothing except to make us all "collateral damage"  passage of  the International Megan's Law does nothing nothing to stop sex trafficking as it claims)  we need to remove silence and prejudice and lust to punish just as much as we need to dispel our own (former) ways of thinking and see the "problems" we face and make informed decisions and we can't do that when we are mired in the same unthinking prejudices and silence which led us to need to find other women on Not the Life I Chose.

We all are coping with a lot of after-effects both of the molest but also of the barriers we face trying to recover individually and as families and our own conter-productive set ways of thinking. The courts, the "justice system" the Registry isn't solving anything. It doesn't protect us or our children and it does not help us find courage to heal in any real way.

It's taken me years to start to understand and heal what was done to me as a child isolated and alone (told Don't Tell, made afraid of  'what they'll think" of me and mine if family business becomes "known") then (still carrying the blindness of self blame) I married a man who seemed nice (strangely familiar?) He fit MY own preconceived pattern  of what my place in marriage ought to be and as it turned out he, like my father, was inclined to abuse his power within family to abuse our children and trick and betray me)

But because I never really took time to  step back and see any "pattern" because I remained in fear, stuck in silence I never realized  there were other's to share with, I never spoke up. Thus the cycle of abuse continued. Because little girls "treated like girls" are taught "their place" while little boy's "treated like girls" are told they are defective in the first place because "they let it happen?" All of us  are angry, afraid, never get substantive treatment/ actual help to understand ourselves any more than as a child or grown woman I got help to understand myself, not only in relation to my own specific case but in relation to the larger patterns (widely accepted in our society) that lead to abuse of power.  I too never became healthy enough to see that I "choose" differently. That took a paradigm shift I couldn't fathom until I started finding out we are not alone...with 880,000 names on the National sex offender registry, the are certainly a lot of "Us" family members out here But who knew. We all live in separate silos out of fear and shame and blame and....

So what's the point here?

Well I am against the present system, against these draconian punishments meted out to one and all because they only serve to drive us further into isolation and un-knowing and fear.  The present solutions (AWA, IML,  do  next to  nothing to restore justice or heal any of us personally involved in the situation.  Like they say in AA, "stinking thinking is (obviously) involved in these transgressions, in what we as arents and family members have done and in what we have failed to do)

Adding more "group stinking thinking" more hate speech more prejudice poured like gasoline on the fire of public humiliations does far more harm than the "good" law makers and "helpers"  claim is intended.  Silence, fear, anger and hate  only ensures these problems will fester and continue into the next generations...

And I for one think it's time we spoke out in favor of  actual healing, real help, I need to understand what happened and most importantly how we all can contribute to stopping the cycle.

Speaking out, in whatever way we can (that doesn't cause us personally even more collateral damage) strategizng, contributing our thoughts/ comments, our courage and (yes) our $$$ to court cases aimed at help all of us free ourselves from the past,  helping us have the freedom from fear necessary to understand just where our continued stinking thinking and fear are leading (if we don't find courage, if we don't dare look honestly clear the past and aim toward a healthier future for ourselves and our families and our society) Finding courage to speak up defend ourselves from the rampant prejudice and societal blame we all fear seems important.

Because standing up for ourselves and others, commenting sharing our stories on Daily Strength, on Women Against the Registry, on Nat'l RSOL on Cure-Sort in what ever way we decide we can helps us grow  safely,   empowers us to take control of our lives in ways that make us and our families healthier, more resilient and more courageous. And it helps turn the tide, (reach critical mass/swing the pendulum?) back toward restoring justice to the system and toward self mastery and freedom and away from becoming haters, spewing hate speech. Away from allowing our our misery used to used in ways that in the end only promote more harm to us and to our children  We need restorative   justice strategies inside and outside for our families and for our society and for future generations.

In the  end finding courage to do what we can when we can despite fear will help us all to actually protect children and behave in ways that honor the power granted us as parents and in so doing we become the  adults who speak out and protect children (and in the process maybe even do some good in turning around a society gone mad with power and hate and lust for "punishment") The continuation of fear and silence and old "Stinking Thinking" only leads to more of the same. And we of all people know we need to begin the conversation and find another way.