#189 Lost posts on PTO: Uncertainty pt 1

May 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm Leave a comment

Lost posts of Prison Talk: Uncertainty

Hi everyone, today (Friday) I decided to go back and pull one of the “lost posts” that I wrote while I was a member at Prison Talk. As many of you know, I was banned from there because a supporter from Canada took issue with how lazy so many of the people were at the site. She challenged them on how they always talked about other prison books out there, but never talked about one written from a guy that was actively participating on the site.

I say “lost” because when they banned me, they changed my name to prevent people from locating any posts that I wrote. But as I understand, they may be trying to remove them entirely…not sure if they will because they don’t want to take away those precious post counts from those members. I mean, a person with 50,000 posts don’t want to lose a single one…copying and pasting is hard work. (smile)

But because I saved almost all my works, I can pull them up and share them with you, and kinda talk you through some of it. Today I want to share one I wrote titled, “When you don’t know what to do”.

And this might be kinda timely, because although I don’t write for many prison sites anymore…and almost about to drop the last one I am writing for, I find that often times we are in a panic mode about the prison issues, and feel that there is no solution.

I’ve been there myself regarding prison issues many times, but what I want to try to get across to you is that there can be a solution IF you can get in a more positive and faithful frame of mind. One of the last prison support sites I have shared posts with seems to be loaded with moms and wives that are at the edge of full blown panic. You can tell by the posts they share, the titles of it say a lot. But I guess what kinda bugs me is that I share a number of retro blogs there, and its like they skip right over that and continue to write about their great fear…its like when given the choice to be encouraged or to be discouraged, they choose to be discouraged.

Folks…I can’t help you if you won’t try. Some of those posts I see there I look at and I say to myself, “I can’t help them”. Its almost like we have this craving to glorify our problem, as if God Himself would then shine a bright light on them, and solve their problem with a blink of His eye….you know, He could….

But I think often times the answer to many of these people’s problems can be as close as a post written with faith…if they choose to embrace that instead of talking about their problems so much.

Now granted there is a place for that, I am not saying that to talk about your loved one in prison is negative, there is a place for that. But my point is that on this site, I put up 3 or 4 of my retro blogs to ENCOURAGE. But when I look at it a couple of days later, there are no comments to it, and the 5 or 6 posts above it are about people who are having major problems….its like I was talking to the wall.

Sometimes people on some prison support sites don’t want to read encouraging things, they want to put up their problems and look for sympathy. If that is what they want to do, fine…but I can’t help anyone that way. I can do my best to help a person that truly is looking for a solution, or hope, but I can’t help some that just want to tell the world how bad their situation is. I mean, we share our problems to find solutions, right?

Anyway……

The post I am about to share comes from one I wrote while at PTO. I’ll walk you through it as we go. To begin, this post was written June 24th, 2004…and if the time is right, I wrote it just before 10 am…what was I doing up THAT early?

I posted this under the Parents with Children in Prison forum, and says the following:

I wish I had more time in the day to visit all the forums here at PTO. Ever since I came to this wonderful and supportive site, I have read so many things from concerned loved ones about their loved ones. I usually visit this forum, a couple others and the NC forum. I have shared many entries from my journals to help open a door about what goes in in prison. One thing I have seen consistantly is people who are extremely worried about their loved ones, and don’t know what to do. I thought about this and wanted to add my “two cents” worth to help, if I can.

Many parents are experiencing very heavy burdens for loved ones in prison, many for the first time. Whether in youth camps or in max prisons, many are expereincing the feeling of helplessness. It might feel like someone just snatched you baby from your arms and prevented you from even looking at him as they whisked him away behind tall concrete walls. There are at least 2 angles I want to share about not knowing what to do; the initial prison feeling, and problems while in prison.

The first shock of prison is what every parent faces. You know that there is nothing you can do to bring him back today, or even tomorrow. Even if you had differences with your son, he is still your son, and you love him and would do anything for him. But now you can’t do anything. That is a very difficult feeling and a very painful one. In no way do I want to compare this to the feeling of losing a loved one to death, but it is a very close feeling. But when you are in this situation, and don’t know what to do, try to put this in that perspective. Yes, it hurts, and it might feel like you son died, but he still has his life. That is a far stretch, but at this point you must grab something positive. It may not even come the first day, or the first week, or the first month, but you have got to grab that thought. If your son has a few years to do, he will be home in a few years. If your son has a lot of time, you know that it will be awhile before you will see him free, unless you are appealing the case. If so, then by no means do you give up, even if it takes years. For those who have children doing much longer terms, the pain may take a long time before you can have it under control. But you have to find that strenght. You life has to go on, and your family, and whether you know it or not, your son who is in prison NEEDS it to go on. He is already dealing with the shame and persecution and the guilt on himself; if he thought you couldn’t make it, it would destroy any hope of going on. Some inmates have no one left in their life to care for them, and with that attitude the in turn could care less for anyone else. These are the examples of guys that would attack an officer or another inmate; there is no need to care. But even if he has a lot of time to do, his life is still worth something. You have the ability to still contribute by continuing on in your life. This applies whether you son has 1 year or 90 years; life is still worth something. I think I wrote a thread on the NC forum called “first views of prison”. It tells how I felt when I first went to prison in NC. I have since added several threads, to try to show what life is like; it is not all about what you see on tv. But when you don’t know what to do, you have got to find support (like here at PTO) for understanding and strength, and you have got to find positive things to hold on to, to get you from today to tomorrow.

The second thought, when you son is having troubles in prison, is also difficult. If you son scraped his knee, you would treat it. If he got in a fight with a bully at school, you would look into that situation. If he had any problem, you mother instincts would take over to protect him. But now, in prison, those instincts don’t seem to apply…or do they?

When your son has something happen in prison, or has troubles, and you don’t know what to do, there are indeed some things you can do. The first is RATIONALIZE. Moms can at times blow something out of proportion, even if it is just to protect their child. This happens far more than you know. People call the prisons every day for trivial things, and this has dulled the sensitivity of many prison officials. Mind you there are many very important things to call the prison for, but sometimes parents call for less than important reasons. When you don’t know what to do, calm down and rationalize the situation. Think it though, step by step. What happened? Why is he in trouble? Why does he think he is in trouble? What will the prison do to help? What CAN the prison do to help? How can my son defend himself in this situation? All these things lead to the second thing you can do, which is something all parents should be doing…LEARN THE POLICIES.

I say that because I assure you, more rules are broken by officers than you know. Some are ignorance, some are deliberate, but a rule is a rule. If an inmate breaks a rule he is punished, many times without delay. If an officer breaks a rule, many times it is ignored, often denied. If parents knew the rules of the prison, or DOC, they would be armed to defend their child if something happened. Think it kinda like school; teachers often send information about certain things of school to keep parents aware of the rules; prison does not do that. If your son called and told you that he got a write up from an officer for questionable reasons, and if you knew the procedures of writeups on the camp or for DOC, you can find out if that officer violated procedure and could take action in areas you son could not. The problem here is some believe that inmates should learn to deal with their own problems, and there is some truth to that. You have to be a man when you are in prison (even youth camps). Inmates can’t go running to the phone to mom everytime they have problems. If I was a mom, I wouldn’t want my son doing that either (not EVERY time). But the fact in prison is clearly that prisons will not honor their own word, and because of that inmates are cheated their rights many times. Someone has to help them when the prisons will not. When you don’t know what to do, relax a bit, rationalize the situation and know the rules so you will know what steps to take. That might mean research, that might mean checking the library or the internet, it might mean calling a lawyer for advice, it might mean posts here at PTO. But whateve it is, it gives you a sense of direction and purpose. It is far, far better than crying in bed wondering what to do.
None of this is easy, for some it will be much harder than others, but what I am trying to show is that even though you are going through some very difficult times, there are things you can do. You don’t have to feel helpless, even if you strike out on some things. You might be doing fine after 6 months of your son in prison, and one day it might crash on you like a ton of bricks. If it does, that’s ok. Cry, let it out. He is your son, and you miss him. But after you have grieved, find some way to get your strength back. You need it; he needs it. No one said it is wrong to cry or grieve over your son, but if you grieve every day, you end up being chained to the problem, thus hindering your life. Difficult days are on nearly every person here at PTO, but through this site, we can find ways to gain strength, and go on.

End of post

(Wow…I am soooo embarrassed about all these typos…I bet my English teachers are throwing dictionaries and grammar books at the monitor)

The idea of the post was to encourage readers that when your loved one goes to prison, there are still things you can do. I talked about two keys, one being the initial shock of when your loved one goes to prison. Its really hard to find a counter to that, because lets face it, when your loved one gets sent away, it is very hurtful.

This is where a LOT of folks go into panic mode, because for many, they just don’t know what to do. When your son or husband or boyfriend is taken from you, there is a incredible feeling of hopelessness. This is the hardest part to counter, because you’re not in a positive frame of mind. And when you are not in a positive frame of mind, it is very hard to see hope. This is why I try to blog as much as I do, to try to break those walls down, and give you the idea that there can be hope.

You also notice that when I was there at PTO, I tried to encourage the site and the members, not knowing that in the end, I would be bounced out for most trivial reasons. Story of my life I suppose….

After I shared this post, I got several responses:

“Thank you I felt you where talking directly to me (LOL) but really PTO web site has been so helpful to me. I have tried what they call professional’s to try and help me through this, But its here at PTO where I feel the most comfort and the true healing with people who know where your going and where you have been.
Really a god sent from the heaven’s above”

“I needed to read this today. Thanks and Bless you!”

“HI Masonik…

like always I have to thank you…and Thank´s for sharing this treat”

“Masonik (((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))) Were you watching me yesterday????????LOL you some kind of spy? You! dear sir are a mothers comfort and I mean that!”

When I get positive comments like that, I usually try to follow up on the post by trying to add more. It seems to make sense, because this particular post was being read by a lot of people. The idea seemed to be that a LOT of parents are very uncertain about what might happen to their children in prison… now, you can include wives and girlfriends as well. I think when I noticed that a lot of people were reading this, I just seemed right to add more to this post. So I did:

“I’m just trying to do my best to help. I’m trying to share what is generic to inmates and prisons, but also trying to be specific so someone having that kind of problem might be able to identify. The posts I put on the NC forums are particular situations about transfers,prisons and the such. But I also try to share information about things that frustrate inmates, as well as just day to day lives. I wish I could type faster than I can, then I could post more here at PTO.

What I am trying to share is that nothing is totally hopeless. That is not to say that you always win; I have shared several situations where I lost in certain situations while in prison. I have yet to share an actual grievance letter where a camp continued to deny it for very suspect reason. Things like that are examples where you feel like there is nothing you can do because the prison will lie, cheat and steal to get their way, and if they cannot do that, they will just ship you to another camp.

There were many days where I was walking back to my bunk, and in my head I wondered how much more of this I could endure. No one is made of rock or iron; you can take but so much before you snap. Sometimes I was so frustrated that my hands shook while I wrote my journals. Sometimes I think when I leave the sergeant’s office of lieutenant’s office after hearing some garbage about them not being to help in a grievance, or after they cooked up some excuse, I honestly believe they are laughing at me. It just seems like there is nothing you can do, and it is so hopeless.

But somewhere in every person is a special strength that kinda activates when your natural strength gives out. Kinda like a second tank. I suppose we all have it, but it is rarely tapped. I think it starts at the point you decide not to give up, even if things look hopeless. Maybe this is where faith comes from, and from that the miracles and victories we desire. I don’t know, but it comes from somewhere. But the fact remains that to get that, you have to not quit completely. Notice I didn’t just say “quit”. I quit many, many times while in prison, but I never gave up. I hope you understand what that means. I lost many grievances because of questionable methods, but I always wrote another when I saw a need to. Inmates quit on not just the grievance, but the entire procedure as well. This is why many don’t write, because they don’t believe they can win it. Well, you never will if you don’t write one, and this is what prisons strive for. If they can get the inmates obedient to that, by discouraging their rights to free speech, then inmates in turn will say nothing. In all aspects, they quit fighting for themselves.

Loved ones outside the walls must not do this; you are in essence the last strand of hope for them. The situations are different in specific, but not in general. You may well lose a few situations, maybe many, but that does not mean you lost the entire battle. It is no fun to be in a losing situation, where you lie at night wide awake because you have no idea what you loved one is going through at this very moment, or what he went through the last 24 hours, or the last week, or the last month, ect, ect. You know he won’t tell you all the details, because he knows you will worry 1000 times more than you are now. These are the times you might feel so helpless, but you know, a lot of these times come when you are alone…ever notice that?

The saying is that an idle mind is the devil’s playground…a lot of truth to that. It’s when your mind is “at rest” when these fears come about. I noticed this when I was in prison. When I was in some testing times, it was worst when I was to myself. But when I was around other people, it wasn’t nearly as bad. Or if I find something I liked doing, like watching sports or writing, it wasn’t so bad. I guess the key here is to keep occupied.

However, this isn’t as good if it is the middle of the night and you have to be at work tomorrow at 9am. Some advise exercise during the day, and maybe some sleeping medication; I suppose that could help. The main thing is to do something to keep those fears from entering. That is when those situations of “I don’t know what to do” come in. You are flooded with fears, but no solutions. Everything has a solution, and the sooner you address it, the sooner the solutions can present themself. Again, this does not mean you will win every situation; I know I didn’t, but I smile a lot when I leave the sergeant’s office knowing that HE knows I will never give up…maybe that’s the reason I was kicked out of so many camps. Because they knew I would never give up.”

(end of post)

You see what is happening here…interaction. Give and take from people who are looking for answers, and from people that can share answers. But it works only when there are people that can talk from the experience. This is where sites miss it, including PTO. Because there are so few people that can talk from actually doing time, so many are still in the dark about prison itself, so they end up talking about the problems of WORRYING about a loved one in prison.

If I can just get you to see a little of what prison was like for me, and how I was able to endure, then maybe we can get you to see that there is hope. You can’t encourage your loved one if you are hopeLESS. So I thought about this while I was posting here, and by doing this I was pretty much bearing my soul…not knowing that in the end, the site itself would reject me as the person, but not my posts.

After I posted that second entry to the thread, I got more comments:

“Speechless in what to write here. You took the tim to type all that in just means alot. The words you speak are so true. You have to fight the book and rules with their own ammunition(their rules). I have learned so much in this past 4 years about prisons (6 of them to be exact lol), lawyers, public defenders, the system, parole hearings, and CO’s it isn’t funny. The only way to feel you have a chance to fight what’s right is to engulf your head full of knowledge. After a while you know when your loved ones are telling you if they are alright and they really are or if they really need to talk. The only good thing that comes out of all this is a lesson in love, it really hits home for both sides of how much your family means to you. How important it is to not take things for granted. Life is to short for grudges. I don’t know if this makes sense or even coincides with what you said but it was said best by the phrase “Knowledge is Power”!!
Thank you for taking the time to shed light on the important things.”

“Excellent advise! Thank you.”

(again, mind the grammatical errors)

You see that what is also happening is that members are starting to encourage one another, which is SUPPOSED to be the reason for prison support. Too often more posts are written about people in self defeat, rather than people lifting others up. Encouragement is contagious folks, if you can get one person to believe, to have faith, then they can use that to help others. Its one of the reasons I try to make these prison cards and prison encouragement certificates. I can’t encourage your loved one in prison…YOU have to, but I can help get you on the path by sharing what I can. That’s why when I talk about my products, I say that I send it to YOU first, not to the prison. I want you to send it to him, because by doing that, you get to see what I am doing, and you get to sign your name to it, and send it to him. By doing that, you create a bond because you both have something in common…you both saw the card I made, or the prison encouragement certificate, or other things.

Simply put, YOU are critical to his encouragement.

I followed up the comments by adding more to it:

“It is difficult for me to get that point across, that inmates need people on the outside (preferably family) that are willing to go to bat for them. You cannot imagine what it means to an inmate who has a mom at home with the rules and policies, or at least knows someone who can get that kind of information. It lends the feeling to the inmate that mom is right there beside me, and she must love me so much that she is willing to learn about prison so she might understand what I am going through.

Understand,no one HAS to do that. I didn’t have anyone on the outside like that, but I did have supportive family and friends. You don’t have to be Matlock or Perry Mason, but it would not hurt to know some of the ins and outs of prison. And like the saying goes, knowledge is power. That kinda takes us back to the beginning of this post. People often feel hopeless because they are powerless to do anything. You may not find that loophole in the law journal that gets your son out tomorrow, but you can know the state’s prison rules and policies, so if you son calls and says he didn’t like it when the officer said that he couldn’t do this or that, you can check and see if the officer was right or not. It gives you a real sense of control, at least over your worrying. If you know that there is still something you can do to help your son, it is well worth doing. And I submit to you, it is well appreciated by your son, even if he does not say it. He knows he has a strong supporter, which reinforces the fact that you love him and will be there for him. I guarantee you, that goes a long way for inmates!”

This was followed by a couple more comments:

“Masonik4… as I was reading your posts what comes through clearly to me is a person who understands that to survive you have to have hope… that you know this intimately, I get the sense from you there were times you almost lost yours and you know how deadly that can be. You are touching others. Whatever pulled you through touched you in such a way that whether you realize it or not you were given the gift to reach out and do the same for others, helping them to find that tiny spark of hope. I was always taught nothing is a coincidence, that there is a purpose for everything, even if we don’t know what it is… my thought for you is this, whatever you do in this life nothing will mean as much as what you are doing here. God walks with you… is using you and though I have no clue what put you in prison, I do believe this is why you were put there. Thank you.”

“Masonik4 Dear: Thank you very much for giving me such a beautiful lesson, and how right you are, I did tried to learn the rules and regulations, because i was just learning all the things that my son, was unable to do,all the Big NO< NO, but what about his provileges? I become more involved on that, but, I was alone, I did not have but 1 person to talk about this situation for more than 4 years and with my broken english has been very difficult for me. Thank God I found this beautiful site, I feel like home and with a big family. We are waiting for the Parole Board decision, I pray God to bring me my son home soon. God Bless you Masonik4. I believe that this day offers possibilities to change for the better, and opportunities to reach for the best.”

If there is any question of my value to this site, you can see in the comments that I got in many of my posts. This was just a fraction of the many responses I was getting while at Prison Talk, because I shared info as one that had done time, and sincerely cared to help others. Mind you, this was before I got into blogging, and if I am correct, I had either started or just recently finished my first “Grades of Honor” book. Funny though, the very idea of writing a book came from members at PTO, but once I finished the book, nobody wanted to give me the time of day when I mentioned it. It was like to even mention my book got me warned or banned from sites like LostVault, Write-A-Prisoner and many others.

I followed the comments by adding some more encouragement in the following:

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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.

#188 Prison Talk: Staying positive (new) #190 Lost posts on PTO: Uncertainty pt 2

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