I was speaking recently with a former inmate who expressed to me that up until recently he had trouble being around people. I had a moment of gratitude because for me being around people came easily when I was released. Maybe it’s because I have always been a people person.
I shared with this gentleman, “Although being around people (strangers and friends) has come easily for me, my biggest challenge is being around my family. I long for a greater sense of familiarity with my family, and because it’s absent, being around them is difficult.
I mostly enjoy being in the presence of the women I served time with. They are my kindred spirits, yet I long to rebuild the bond I once had with my relatives.
I long to make new friends. I think there may be an underlying fear of rejections and judgment. What do they really think of me and the choices I made that landed me in prison? I find myself wondering about this subconsciously.
Knowing my sisters from the inside have shared my plight allows me to go into each situation with calmness and ease. They get me. In female prisons we form pseudo families that serve to fill the void and keep us from feeling isolated.
I have aunties, mothers, sisters, daughters and even uncles and sons that I adopted while incarcerated. We supported one another during tough times, inspired one another during moments of hopelessness and celebrated one another during moments of triumph.
I am grateful to have many of those women in my network now that we have been released. Some of them are just a Facebook comment away, and I’m so grateful for this. Nevertheless, there are those we left behind and the nagging pain never subsides.
Then, there’s that desire for normalcy. What I wouldn’t give to be able to feel closer to the people I should be bonded to: my family.
It would be so nice to be able to meet someone and despite my past, build an alliance and sense of sisterhood. I know it’s possible in due time. It’s difficult at times, but I am striving to count it all as joy.
I’m blessed and grateful to be back in society in a position to work toward what I long One day at a time.
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