Have you ever encountered an event you KNEW was going to happen? An event you have been looking forward to for YEARS? One where, once this happens, your life will change DRASTICALLY? Once this event takes place, you will start to see the fruition of the hard work you have put forth for over a decade. Now imagine orchestrating all of your hard work strictly through phone calls that are limited to 20 minutes each and you are never able to physically handle any of your business. You must rely on the “good faith” of those around you and hope they have the discipline and free time to complete a request. This is what it is like for sooo many individuals getting out of prison.
These people have no actual control over what happens in their lives prior to release. Speaking from personal experience, this is a scary event to encounter. Not knowing what is being said about you to potential housing. Or not knowing what is being said to the community corrections officer, whom has your freedom in his hands. Or not being able to know with any certainty what is going to happen upon release. Will the people currently in your life continue to be there? Will they do what they say they will do? Will you be able to succeed with a felony on your record? What’s going to happen when my time at the transitional house is up? Will I be homeless? What am I going to do about transportation? What if I can’t open a bank account because I have been away for so long and now its as if I never existed? How will I afford to clothe and feed myself?
These are just a few small examples of what goes through our minds as we prepare for transition from prison to freedom. And as all of these thoughts are racing through our heads on one long, loud, obnoxious möbius strip, we are trying not to let other things happening in our immediate environment affect us in the negative. Our irritations are heightened, our tempers are shorter, and our desire to interact with others is diminished.
Most who are not close to release refer to this as the “short timer syndrome”. I was one of those people who, for 10 years, kept saying “I’ll never get to that point” “I’ll never get ‘short timers’.” Well I am here to tell you THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! It is inevitable, short timers will come and with it a bombardment of emotions which were once thought to be under control. And one could theoretically say, “well you just have to do this.. or do that”. Listen, when I call a friend or family member, I am not calling for advise. I am calling because I trust you enough with my emotions to say “hey I am stuggling here and I just need you to listen. I am trying to tell you my life is about to COMPLETELY change and I feel scared and helpless.”
Sometimes we don’t need advice, we need a hug. We need someone to hold us and tell us everything is going to be fine. Most of us understand what we need to do in order to stay on track, but sometimes this is scary stuff. And through all of it, we need an ear to hear us.
WILL YOU HEAR ME?