#105 Prison Fear pt3 Inside out (retro)

March 19, 2010 at 4:18 am Leave a comment

Prison Fear pt 3 Inside-Out

Well today I think we should continue the discussion of prison fear. If you have not been following it, I wanted to create a discussion on the fears of prison, and try to help readers find ways to overcome them.

Today we will discuss the fears in prison from the perspective of the inmate. You will remember that the previous blog I discussed fear from the perspective of the loved one outside of prison FOR the one inside. Today, I want to do the exact opposite, and discuss the idea from the inmate’s point of view.

This is interesting because I can talk a LOT about this, yet ironically, there isn’t a whole lot I can say about that…


I’ll explain.

This segment is about what the inmate fears, and how the inmate may be able to overcome this fear. So it makes it pretty easy for me to talk about, since I have been there. What do inmates fear?

There can be a number of things an inmate might fear, but one of the main things is the fear that something will happen to a loved one while they are incarcerated. It is the fear that your loved one will get sick, or something worse, while you are doing time, and there is nothing you can do about it.

Let’s not forget that inmates are human too, regardless of their flaws and convictions. Inmates have someone they care or cared about, and it would be a very heavy burden if an inmate was to lose a loved one while he is doing time. And it does not have to be that extreme. It does not have to be a loss of life, it can be sickness, it can be loss of a job, it can be sadness, it can be any number of things.

The mere idea that you, on the outside, is suffering, can be a great burden to an inmate, thus a great fear for them. Guys want to be able to do their time and believe that everything will be ok on your end. We WANT to believe that, but lots of times we fear that while we are doing time, something bad will happen to you, and we would be powerless to even be of help.

In addition to that, we are also talking about the very fear of prison, or rather, the stereotypes of prison. For a first time felon like myself, I wrestled spiritually and mentally for months in a county jail cell about that. So many concerns were in my head, so many fears, that it was hard to sleep, nearly impossible unless it was just out of fatigue.

Unless you have gone through it, there is a difficult kind of torture, of bondage that grips the insides of an inmate about to do time, and the fear of his future. It is that kinda fear that may take over the inmate, as it did me. I cannot fully explain how that feels, and maybe it is best that I don’t take that too far; just know that it is enough to convince me that maybe suicide was far better than the life I was looking at. When fear, sadness, depression, condemnation all mix together, the results are never good.

But yet I sit here typing to you about this, so somehow, I made it through. So let’s talk about how an inmate can conquer fear.

I want to use Psalms 77 to support my blog today, because as I was reading it the night before, it seemed to be something that would match what I was trying to talk about. I can kinda walk you through this, and try to share with you how an inmate can fight fear in prison, and see the similarities in this Psalm.

Psalms 77: 1-4 “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me. In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night; and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted. I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah. Thou holdest mine eyes waking: I am so troubled that I cannot speak.”

Have you ever been in such a situation that you kinda felt like the life was being drawn out of you? I have, and I am sure some of you have too. Now, I am not saying that every inmate has felt this way, because to be sure, some don’t care. But for me, this was a very troublesome time in my life, and I had nowhere to turn.

When fear sits on you this heavy, it is a GOOD thing to try to seek God. And that is odd, because we often feel that when somebody is condemned, they have no right to seek God. We feel that if you are in trouble, it’s your own fault, so suck it up. I am not arguing against justice, but I am saying that when a person makes a mistake, and wants to take it to God, he or she ought not be denied by any other person who thinks they are so righteous.

I sat in that jail cell scared, and had nobody to turn to. NOBODY.

All I had was a Bible, and I remembered that God does do miracles. I knew that because I had been a part of several. So I knew if there was any hope for me, it was with God. To be sure, in the day of my trouble, I sought God, praying and trying to understand my situation as God saw it. There were days I was so full of fear I could not eat. I sometimes went several days without eating, because the fear of prison had such a grip on me.

There were times where I also knew that if the officers saw that I was not eating, they might call a doctor or somebody to see what was wrong with me. So what I did was take the meal tray, and when nobody was looking, I would dump it in the toilet. But I always kept a face on, so it wasn’t like they could see that I was so miserable.

Remember folks, I used to act in high school and college….

I wondered what the part about “remembering God, and was troubled,” was about, but as I read further, I got a pretty good understanding as far as I was concerned…

Psalms 77: 7-9 “Will the Lord cast off for ever? And will he be favorable no more? Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Doth His promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath He in anger shut up His tender mercies? Selah”

I skipped over a couple of verses, but they actually help understand what I was going through. In the days I was gripped with fear and trouble, I prayed for help. It was then that I thought of the days where I had faith in God, remembering that God can help. Verses 5 and 6 speak about remembering of the days past, as I remembered how God helped me finish college with nothing but a miracle. But in searching my heart, now in jail, a fear came over me that maybe God has forgotten about me, and has left me alone.

Now there was a fear in me that maybe God will not answer my prayer, after all, you know what some people say, “sometimes God says yes, sometimes no, sometimes wait a while”.

But that is not scriptural!

Yet I wondered, what if God has left me alone? What if this is one of those “tough love” situations? What if God has turned His ear from me…if so, then there is no hope at all for me.

I might as well be dead.

Folks, if you have NEVER been this low in your life, be thankful. What sort of sadness fills a heart to where life itself has no value to the person, and is willing (and able) to end his life, believing that even God up above will not care?

You’ve read my blogs before, and you know that I did attempt suicide several times in county jail…almost succeeded until something told me to stop. When fear comes, so does bondage and if severe enough, even death.

I was almost there. What changed that? What kept me from ending my life? The fear in me was real, very real, and I had wondered if God Himself had turned His mercy from me, that maybe this was the end of my life.

But then I started to remember more about God, and remembered the truth:

Psalms 77: 10-15 “And I said, this is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right h and of the Most High. I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old. I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings. Thy way, O God, is in the sanctuary: who is so great a God as our God? Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people. Thou hast with thine arm redeemed thy people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah.”

In order to fight fear, you have to find faith. The more faith you find in God, the less fear you will have in the situation. Now I am not gonna sit here and act like I am one of the best sermon-speakers in the land, no, I don’t even belong on the list. But I am saying to you that when you take the effort to believe in God, even in very, very difficult situations, God will step in with you.

See, I was afraid that maybe God was leaving me to “fate” and would not answer my prayer, but I began to remember that there were many times in my life where God answered…well, if then, why not now? I also read scriptures of some of the greater names in the Bible, and the trials and tribulations they were in, either by fault or not. And in every case, when they called on God, He saved them.

Why can’t God do that for me? It isn’t about whether I “deserve” it or not, because mankind seeks to condemn every person that makes the slightest mistake. We don’t forgive as God commands, nor do we seek to love one another.

And I know I say that as an ex felon, because the novice will say, “how dare you speak of forgiveness! Why do ex cons think they ought to talk about that”.

If you believe that, you REALLY need to bounce back to my first blog and read all these blogs over.

But when the fear comes, you have to fight it with faith in God. When I began to do that, I read over the scriptures and saw what God did for others. He has not changed, so what He did back with King David or Abraham or the disciples, He can do for me, if I believe, and ask.

When you start to look for hope, you start to slowly push out the fears you may have. That does not mean I never got them anymore, because they were many. But once I started to believe in God that He WOULD, rather than would NOT, then there was hope. And in that hope I found faith, believing that maybe I can get through this, that God will look after me.

The thing about that is if you build enough faith, it will bring the peace of God on you, where you don’t worry as much…if at all. And if you DO worry, it is in private. See, an inmate can smile and be positive to others, but in a private room, or in his heart, he could be near broken. Believe me, I have cried many times in private because things just did not look good for me.

But in public, I always smiled, chatted, had some laughs, watches sports, things like that. Nobody ever saw me break down and cry or feel miserable about myself. And I think by doing that, I had the opportunity of never giving the devil a victory in allowing others to see me so down. On the inside I sometimes felt so bad, but I could not and would not show it on the outside.

I was, in effect, believing that God would get me through.

And it’s that same belief that perhaps answers my first issue on fear…the fear of those on the outside. I said to you that when it comes to loved ones on the outside, there isn’t much I could say about that, and truth to tell, there isn’t.

I very rarely thought about my family and friends.

“WHAT? How insensitive!”

No, you are missing the point! When you are an inmate, you can be overburdened if you constantly think about…or worry, about your loved ones. If every guy in prison worried about their wife and kids, or girlfriend, or mother, their time would be 10 times worse than it already is. Depression and guilt and anger can easily spark into more fights, more suicides and an overall very violent prison life for far more people than you know.

Yes prison is very negative and at times violent, but imagine how much worse it would be if every inmate worried about their loved ones?

I very rarely thought about my family, yes I cared, but I made it a point to focus at doing time. The life in front of my eyes was what I had, and what I had to concentrate on. But it was that very same life that allowed me to also spend the time reading scriptures. And if you have read my other blogs, you know how many trials I had while in prison.

I understand how difficult it can be for inmates, because I have been there, but it is also why I tell readers to be upbeat, positive and encouraging when you visit your loved one. I caution you that he or she will take out of that visitation, phonecall or letter what you put in it. The purpose of such communication is to encourage them, not DIScourage them. They need to hear that you will be fine, that you are doing well, because it gives them strength to know that you are doing ok.

You have to give them that fighting chance, rather than laying down all the bad news you can think of. I mean, who wants to hear that? There is a time and place for bad news, sometimes you can’t avoid it. But who wants to always hear it all the time? Life is already difficult in prison, why heap more on them from the outside?

The key to fighting fear is to find faith. One will displace the other, and the more of one you put in you, the more of the other is pushed out. An example a person made of this is like getting a glass and filling it with milk. If you fill it half way with milk, then you obviously have a half a glass of milk. How much water is in there? None…

(no comments about milk containing water, just follow along)

Now, if you took that half glass of milk and putting it under the faucet, and ran a low level of water into that glass, you’d have SOME water, but still mostly milk. After awhile, the milk and water will mix and you will get half and half. But the longer you let that water run, the more milk it will displace. I mean, it’s got to go somewhere after the glass fills up, right?

So it just overflows, taking with it the mixture of milk and water. But since more water is being put in, the glass starts to slowly become more water than milk. Why? Because one element is forcing the other out. The one with the greater abundances is forcing out the one of lesser abundance.

If you let that faucet run long enough, all the milk will be displaced, and there will be a full (and overflowing) glass of water.

That’s how faith works.

Fear comes inside of you, and as an inmate it can be a very hard grip. But instead of looking at the circumstances, look to God for faith. Not just for a minute or two, then fall back on the problem, KEEP looking to God. Keep that faucet of faith running, because if you do, it will displace the fear. It might not seem that way at first, because there may be more fear in you than faith, but if you keep at it, you will find yourself trusting God’s word, and not fearing as much.

Prison fear for inmates can be a very hard thing to bear, and the sad thing is that we don’t hear from enough ex felons to talk about this, so it is still a pretty new subject, even though millions of people have been incarcerated in the last 10 or 20 years. But I say to you that with every fear, there is faith, if an inmate begins to look at God, rather than the problem.

Well, I hope that helps, I really wanted you to try to see how I was able to get through a tough time, and I hope it helps you understand how your loved one in prison sees things. Remember, we all do our time differently, so one person could have done it completely different from me. But at least you have some clue on it.

Next time we will discuss prison fear on the issue of fear of not being loved from the inmate’s perspective. If you wanna email me, my email is derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com.


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#104 Prison Jobs 102 (retro) #106 $10,000 in prison writing!

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