#197 Finding Thanksgiving in prison (retro)

May 21, 2010 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

Finding Thanksgiving in Prison

10:49pm as I write this as my New Orleans Saints just jumped further ahead of Green Bay 38-21 but there is plenty of time left. With a pot of coffee brewing, I decided to make a blog here.

Earlier today I made my first blog in quite awhile, after having to step away from the whole prison writing thing. I came back and found new readers, and I realized I had to get back to writing to help them. Just awhile ago I got an email from one of my valued readers, a person who has supported me in the past.

She emailed me about the things she has to be thankful for this year as her loved one is doing much better than a year ago. I remember it well because we have traded emails on some of his situations, and it really, really is nice to hear that even in difficult times, she can find some level of comfort.

Her loved one is, in my opinion, found his marks while in prison. What do I mean by that? It means that through the difficulties, he has seemed to find a rhythm of how he is able to do his time. And this is important because in finding that rhythm, you are also gaining control of your time. You can’t spend all your time in prison just feeling miserable, if so you will destroy yourself.

Take it from one who has been there folks.

But if you can get to a place where you can find comfort, or peace, you put yourself in a better position to get through this. See, that sounds insane to any novice who might have just lost a loved one to prison a week ago, or even 6 months ago. But you have to understand that as time passes, you are going to need your loved one in prison to find his rhythm. And it goes both ways, both for him in prison, and YOU outside of prison.

You need to find reasons to be thankful.

“That’s foolish! My loved one is having a miserable time in prison!”

That may be true, I never said prison was fun. But if you cannot find something to be thankful for, you will only see the absolute worst scenarios over the holiday. And you know, we REALLY need to talk about that, how so many people just fall apart over Thanksgiving and Christmas with a loved one in prison. But that is another blog.

Anyway, the email I got said that her loved one is now tutoring now, something I am familiar with. When I was in prison, I used to be a GED Assistant, so I know a bit about that. And there is some inner peace in that, because what it proves is that any man can be of value, regardless of what society thinks of him. Too many times we think the answers are gonna come from a perfect person…and ironically they come from some of the ones you least expect. I mean, think about it, who do you think is writing this blog, a saint?

When I read that person’s email, I thought about how I might have found a time to give thanks while I was in prison. And if I had thought about it some more, I would have gone up into the attic and brought down some of my journals I wrote while I was in prison, because I do remember writing some Thanksgiving entries down. I’d love to share those with you so you can see how I actually felt during this time of year.

Can there be real Thanksgiving in prison? Sure. As an inmate, the very last thing I need to hear while I am in there is that something happened to anybody in my family. I was blessed to do my time and not lose anyone, so in retrospect I was very thankful that even if I could not be home, at least my family was doing ok. If they were, then I could make it through the holiday…I mean, it’s only 24 hours.

But let me tell you something that makes it harder for inmates…YOU. Well, not all of you, but a LOT of you. Why? Because some of you break down like a $2 Ironman toy whenever the holidays come around. Is that wrong, no, not really, but it is when you transfer that grief to your loved one during that phone call or that letter or that visit.

I mean, COME ON folks, you have to encourage them! How do you expect them to cope if you are always telling them how terrible you feel? I read so many letters and posts about people who feel completely horrible during the holidays. And these people drag this same negative energy to their loved ones, making both sides miserable during times like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

It’s already hard enough trying to make it through those days, why triple the misery? In order for some of you to get through this, you MUST find ways to be thankful. I mean, if that means spending a night or two praying for that person, at least you did something rather than mope all day.

When I was in prison during Thanksgiving, there were indeed some things I was thankful for. One, my family was ok. My mom, my friends, my brothers were doing ok. I can live with that. Two, I was still alive…strange coming from a guy who attempted suicide, but hey, what can I say? Three, in NC prisons they often served an actual Thanksgiving meal…usually as lunch instead of dinner. This was a heavy meal that was appreciated by many of the inmates. Four, I was thankful that even in my difficult times, I knew I wasn’t totally alone. I had made lots of friends that were missing the holidays just like I was. Not that misery loves company, but that I knew there were kindred spirits.

And maybe something I didn’t think too much on, I knew I really wasn’t alone. My faith in God was ripped apart when I first went to prison, but there are a lot of very interesting things that happened during my sentence that proved that I was being watched over. If I ever get the support to get back to writing my “Grades of Honor” books, I’ll reveal them to you.

The bottom line is, or was, that I had reasons to be thankful. And so do you. Now I understand if you are new to this and cannot receive this, but if you have had a loved one in prison more than a year or two, then you must try to find ways to stay encouraged. This is critical because your loved one feeds off the life you now live. If it is misery, he will pick that up. If he sees that you are trying to make it, he will pick that up. So many people don’t realize the fear, guilt and pressure and stress they put on their loved ones when they so called, “try to encourage them”. Look up the word “encourage” and find out what that means, and ask yourself if you are at least trying to do that.

That email I got today is a reminder that every person reading these blogs must try to find some reason to be thankful. You don’t have to go all out and have a party, because we know you miss that person in prison. But don’t let this holiday break you down, fight it by finding reasons to be thankful. Notice I didn’t say happy, I said thankful. However, I might wager that if you find enough reasons to be thankful, there may well be some joy in that.

Oh well, enough of my babbling. I got a few requests for my books, and it has been awhile since I printed up any, so I’ll have to stir myself up to get my products back out. Don’t let that discourage you from asking, because I don’t mind doing that; it is a great boost when people ask about my prison books, cards and prison encouragement certificates.

You can email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask me about it. Oh, as after I put this blog up, I am going to see if I can find some retro Thanksgiving blogs to put up for you guys. Don’t be afraid to email me, ok?


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.

#196 Lost posts on Prison talk: Books #198 The FEAR of inmates (retro)

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