Forming Relationships during Reentry After Prison

I think I have met the man of my dreams. The fact that I have not been home from prison for three years yet has me wondering if I’m a little naïve in my belief that this man is perfectly imperfect and made specifically for me. He has me on top of the clouds.

Unlike every other man I have met since my release, he has never spent time in prison. I told him about my past. It’s such a fabric of my life that I never hide it. I have an unexplainable need to be understood. There are some nuances that one may experience dealing with a woman who has spent half of her life in prison. I just think people need to know.

When I told my new friend about my past he was surprised and in his words, “truly amazed!” He asked me how long I was incarcerated. I replied, “eighteen” and he asked “eighteen years?” I said, “yes.” He just shook his head.

We had a wonderful first date, and if there’s such a thing as love at first sight, we found it. We’ve been inseparable every since we met. I used to think I would end up with a partner who could relate, someone with a shared experience. I am learning that being with a man who can share a different perspective regarding my plight is rewarding to say the least. He sees my process from the outside looking in….

When I asked him how my inexperience, in reference to life skills and relationship skills, has impacted our attempt to build our relationship so far, he said with a long pause, “It has had very limited negative impact and a great deal of positive impact due to the social, spiritual and mental development that you submitted yourself to while you were incarcerated.”

I questioned what he meant by “social.” He replied, “When I say social, I mean the range of your experiences as it relates to interacting with women in prison, correctional officers, and all of the varying attitudes that you had to deal with in that adverse environment.”

“Prison offered all of the dynamics of a social life you would have gotten if you were on the street, maybe more. This has actually enabled you to have a more positive impact on our relationship rather than negative.”

“In regard to mental development, in terms of the time and patience that you took to develop yourself, by reading, training and studying and the positive spiritual development you had while in prison, you have been able to positively impact our relationship.”

“Through the submission of your will to God’s will, and through your commitment to abiding by principles that have helped to shape and develop your life, you have blossomed.”

“If you never told anyone that you spent time in prison, there is no way that they would ever know it, based on the way you carry yourself.”

I was taken aback by his kind words, but then, too this man never ceases to amaze me.

You might be interested in: Oprah Exclusive with Dr. Covington on Relationships After Prison

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About Lashonia Etheridge-Bey

Lashonia Etheridge-Bey is a Public Speaker who can candidly and articulately speak to the consequences of youth violence, the effects of incarceration and the challenges of reentry into society. Read Lashonia's Full BIO Here 


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