I have a friend who was incarcerated for 16 years. He has been home for over a decade. Last week he celebrated his 45th birthday. He partied for two weeks straight. I joked, â€śYou are partying like you just came home.â€ť He replied, â€śIâ€™ve been home for 10 years and Iâ€™m still a lover of lifeâ€¦. Sometimes when Iâ€™m in the club I still have those moments when
Another friend, one of my dearest, is turning 61 years old next week. She spent 20 years in prison. She has been home for a little over 10 years as well and she is still perplexed by the effects incarceration have had on her. She said to me yesterday, â€śWhy do you seem so normal? It seems like you were never in prison. You donâ€™t seem affected at all. You seem to have it all together.â€ť By eyes bulged as I looked at her in shock. â€śI probably seem normal to you in the same way you seem so normal to me.â€ť This woman is so vibrant, fit and energetic that when she wavers I find myself telling her to stop acting like an old lady. It surprises me when she moves too slow, or seems a little unsteady behind the wheel. The fact of the matter is that even though she looks and acts like she is not a day over 40 she is a senior citizen. She said that nobody seems to understand her energy level. She still has moments when she canâ€™t keep still, when she just feels the need to rip and run like a teen. Then, her body shuts down and she realizes she is not as young as she thinks she is. As much as I empathize with her it felt so good to hear her express these words. It made me feel so normal. Iâ€™ve been called everything from energizer bunny to busy body just over the last few days.
Wondering when life will settle and get back to normal I asked my friend, â€śWhen will it end?â€ť She said:
I have come to accept it and just go with the flow; the only problem is that other people donâ€™t understand. Itâ€™s like Iâ€™m trapped in two worlds. On the one hand, Iâ€™m here and Iâ€™m 60 years old and on the other hand I have this young woman who was physically and mentally arrested trapped inside of me who is so restless, anxious and energetic that sometimes I just canâ€™t keep still. I guess she will slow down and catch up to me one day. Iâ€™m not sure…
I am intrigued by the seemingly insurmountable trauma of incarceration.