Prison Love I: Falling in Love

Prison Love I: Falling in Love – Originally posted August 12th, 2017

A year and a half ago, I saw a post on Facebook. The post appeared on his FB page and his mother posted it; it explained that he needed friends to reach out to him in this difficult time. I had no idea he was even in prison. My relationship with him consisted of me being a client of his 8 years ago; for tattoos and piercings. No way in the world did I think he’d remember me.

I connected with his mother and got the information needed to mail a letter to him. At the time, I had no intention other than distract him from his shitty situation even for five minutes by reading my letter. Truly.

My letter went on and on about me trying to explain who I was. I told him at a very high level that I was getting divorced soon and all the high-level updates in my life from the last eight years. I remember rambling on and on about how I didn’t want to be a home-wrecker to him and his family. How me writing was solely meant to be out of the kindness of my heart. I told him I was in counseling for depression and I’d been learning about spiritual enlightenment and mindfulness.

It was a week later when I received a later back from him. He was so thrilled to hear from me. He told me he couldn’t forget who I was. That I was the girl that would “walk into his shop with a shit eating grin on my face and I’d light up the room”. He explained that he was legally separated and waiting to serve papers to his ex. He made the same comment that he didn’t want to be a home wrecker.

FYI, I had fallen out of love with my now ex-husband and no emotional attachment to anyone. He knew that he had his heart broken by his ex and the thought of being back with her disgusted him. I partially trusted that he would never go back to her.

We continued to exchange letters until he said he wanted to call and talk to me. At the time, I was going through a “wild child” time of my life where alcohol was my drug of choice to drown out sorrow and hide from the pain. To escape reality. Any time he would call, I needed to take a few shots because I was so nervous to talk to him. Because I didn’t know him very well even when I had seen him so many times previously. We talked and talked and talked and hit it off. Then he told me to stop being a “chicken shit” and come visit him.

Going to a prison the first time is intimidating as hell. You don’t know what to expect and you assume all the things you’ve watched on TV is the only way it could be. He was “at camp” which is the equivalent to the lowest level of minimum security. It was still scary as hell to me.

Then he walked in. Shock washed over me. Fuck. He was so handsome still. He walked over and hugged me instinctually. We sat down. And he smiled at me. The first two visits were awful because it was kind of like “what do we talk about now”. But he always made it so enjoyable. I felt happy around him.

On the third visit, I was explaining something that made me super nervous. And he placed his hands-on mine. And I instantly calmed.

Visits resumed over the next six months. Each time, we’d laugh and joke together. It was lust. We’d get looks by the CO’s and other visitors because we were SO happy. I never did have the confidence to look him in the eyes longer than three seconds because I lacked confidence and self-worth. A lot of my time was spent looking down or around the room. And he led most the conversations. Between his life experiences and ADD, he could talk for hours… probably even days.

It blew my mind that someone in his situation could have such a genuinely pure heart full of good intent. So humble. Such a sucker for loving animals more than life it self. Not once did I ever judge him for being in prison.

Somewhere towards the four-month mark, I told him I was starting to fall for him. Up until this point, he made it very clear that he was “emotionally unavailable”. He never said much about feelings or his current emotional state other than that. He’d say he can’t give answers or predict the future. He succeeded at remaining extremely mysterious. At the time, I wanted answers because I simply wanted to know what we shared was more than lust. The mysteriousness continues until almost a year later and I never did know his thoughts on the subject.

Shortly after that, I went into a stormy-hellish-downward-spiral from my primary care physician prescribing me the wrong depression/anxiety medication, over and over (read “Mental Health Genetic Test”), each time sending me farther into the pits of despair. This Hellish situation took nine months total to stabilize my moods. I ended up being diagnosed with “chemically induced, rapid cycling bipolar II with severe depression and anxiety”. It took me out of work for 6 months on short-term disability leave. Guess what. He called every single day to check in on me. To offer words of wisdom. To pick me up while I was in those pits of despair. To talk me out of suicide. Often times he would say something and I would cry hysterically because I knew he was trying to help but I couldn’t believe a word he was saying – words such as strength, hope, faith, one day, you’ll make it through this-really set me off. He is the reason I am here today.

When I finally got into a psychiatrist (this would be nine months after I saw him the first time), I got prescribed the “right” medication. My moods stabilized within weeks.

Three days after I saw this same psychiatrist for the first time, he went to the “hole” (i.e. solitary confinement). He got ONE call a day for 50 minutes. He didn’t get calls on Tuesdays or Thursdays. The guards chose the time he got to call. He suffered daily. The days he slept in and couldn’t call I cried for hours because he left me.

I went from lust, to depending on him to keep me alive…. To nothing at all. It still makes me cry because it hurt so bad. The shitty part on my side of things? I didn’t consider how bad confinement was for HIM. All I knew is that I was abandoned during a time when I had no one else. Literally.

He was in the hole for 4.5 weeks.

Towards the end of his confinement, I asked myself “what the FUCK am I doing?”. I was waiting for a man that stated he was emotionally unavailable. I was ready to date. I wanted to date. I was ready to move on from my mood instability and for him to realize that he had a wonderful woman at his fingertips. A woman that would do virtually anything for him; in the sense that I have a good heart and I will do anything within my control to see those I care about happy.

I was the first one he called as soon as he got out of the hole. He explained that he just went through Hell; that it was awful and that he thought about me every day. He told me that I got him through that time and I gave him hope for the next day.

We proceeded talking for 20 minutes each night after the hole.

A few nights after he got out, he told me that he wouldn’t have survived the hole without me. That he was embarrassed that he took so much time to fully get over his ex.

He called the next day and clarified his reason for telling me that information was that he thought he WAS emotionally available, suddenly. And just like that, he said he wanted to be with me.

I was shocked at first. I didn’t understand because we missed a step in there somewhere. We went from nothing to an unknown something without me being aware of it. I told him I was at the point of confusion since I was about to give up on wanting him romantically. I told him I was in a moral dilemma because I had invested so much time and energy that he’d be with me one day and I was constantly being made very aware that he wasn’t ready. I was in control now instead of feeling like I was strung along. However, of course I cared about him. He now, was shocked. He told me he didn’t expect to hear that. He said he was prepared to tell me how he wanted to be with me and how excited that made him and how he imagined good things to come… but he didn’t prepare himself for my response that I gave him.

I ended up explaining via phone that that was a lot of information to take in and I thought it was best if he call me the next day so I had time to process. He sounded sad – a type of emotion I had never experienced from him – he’d deny that to this day if I mentioned it. I ended up telling him that I didn’t want to decide anything until I saw him next time to gauge our feelings for one another.

Recap on our “relationship” so far (from my point of view): We spent a lot of time together at minimum, phone calls every night, I had fallen for him, then I hit rock bottom due to medication errors, he kept me alive by his words of wisdom – he became the world to me because I depended on him in order to stay alive -he gave me hope and strength when I had none, he disappeared for a month, then he wanted to be with me even though I thought I was ready to move on.

Let’s continue…

He got moved to Medium-Security due to him going to the hole.

I tell you what. Going to visit at a medium security prison is a lot different than the low-key camp situation at minimum. At Medium, you got searched, processed through a metal detector, then you waited for them to call him down, then you went through five huge and loud metal doors that a guard, that you couldn’t see, had to open for you. While you are walking through the narrow path, there are high fences with seven layers of razor wire all around. Guards with guns on the towers. This shit was EXACTLY what you saw in the movies.

You get filled with an overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear prior to even making it to the huge room full of visitors and inmates. You can’t feel anything but the pounding of your heart and the lack of oxygen around you. Hoping your knees don’t give out because your feet have no clue where you are going.

I held back the tears when I finally saw him. The emotions flooded through me.  During my first visit there, I couldn’t stop holding his hands tight. I didn’t want to let go. I didn’t want to lose him again. He asked for a drink from the vending machine and I literally couldn’t move. I couldn’t let go. I can’t even remember what we talked about or if we talked at all. We were both so happy to see each other and we were both so thankful to see one another. We were both emotional but neither tried to show it.

When I left that day….the second I got outside, I lost it. I couldn’t remember the last time my heart hurt so much. It was a different type of broken. A broken you’d know would heal regardless of what happened next but also the type that I imagine resembles the feeling that you were super happy, abandoned months later, then scared shitless.

The second time I went to visit, I knew with all certainty that I loved him. I was in love with him. He took my hands in a way he’d never done before, and I felt it. I felt his love for me. He was in love with me. It was such a strong feeling that it is hard to explain in order to do it justice. I left that day and he called me later that night.

He asked if I wanted to tell him something and I said no. I told him I was confused. His response was “everything will happen as it should, in time”. I knew that he knew what I was referring to, but I was so scared of rejection that I didn’t say it.

The next day when he called, the same conversation arose. We danced around the subject and he asked “is there something you want to tell me?” I said no. He asked four times, each time I said no. Then on the next two more times…then it happened. I told him. “I love you”. He giggled quietly and asked if that was so difficult, I said yes. Then he said it.

“I love you too”.

I loved a man I had never been intimate with. A man I had only held his hand and kissed for no longer than 5 seconds each time. A man who I talked to on the phone for TWO hours a WEEK. A man that I could only visit for EIGHT hours a WEEK, if I was lucky. A man that even when I did visit, the rules were so strict that your other body parts could not touch or one of us would be tasered.
It is the most unconventional falling in love story I’ve ever heard of. Or read about. But subconsciously, I think that we both put an insurmountable amount of faith into one another even though neither of us could ever predict the outcome of if/when we’d make it to this point.

He was put into my life by God; I wouldn’t be alive without him; I wouldn’t have made a new best friend; I wouldn’t have been “adopted” by his mother since my mother never approved of me. The love and support that came out of our faith and hope is indescribable. I am beyond thankful him and the fact that he didn’t give up on me during my brain-shit-storm.

I love him will all my heart.