I’m about to get real here. In many of my blog entries I’ve shared private feelings and thoughts. So today won’t be anything I haven’t done before. But, today it about something I’m finding deeply embarrassing, which is why I’ve not shared yet.
For the first time in my life, and I had hoped I’d never have to experience what I did today, I went to visit someone in jail. In my entire 55 years, I’ve never set foot in a jail. I have been in a Court House before, even been in a Court Room a couple of times. The Court House was a bit scary if I’m being honest about it. I didn’t leave though, with the same feeling I did from the jail.
Jail has always, and still does, seemed like a very scary place. As a teen, I watched the tv special, Scared Straight. That show alone was enough to keep me on the straight and narrow. The jails and prisons depicted in the movies also made me wary enough to keep clear of anything that might even remotely put me on the police’s radar.
Today was scary. A jail house is a formidable looking building. It is very stark inside. When one has never been in one before, the building itself gave me the creeps, but it was also the feeling of being naive about what to do. Where do I go for visitation? What will the people around me be like? What is expected of me and how do I get the monitor to work?
Luckily, the people around me were actually very nice. The lady I walked up the stairs with was friendly and helpful. She kind of walked me through some of what I needed to do because, when I asked (and let her know she could tell me to mind my own business), said this was not her first time because it wasn’t her man’s first time at the rodeo.
I was glad of her help, and also sad for her as she had to drive 45-minutes to make the 30-minute visit. A long drive when we don’t even get to physically see our person. It was basically like a FaceTime or Zoom call, all on monitors where we speak into an old phone receiver. The saving grace is the visit is free, whereas a video call from home costs 40¢/minute (calls are 20¢/minute, paid in advance).
So not only are we not actually seeing our loved one in person, we also go in knowing we will have to carry most of the conversation. Their day mainly consists of getting up, showering, eating, and pacing about, maybe watching a little TV. No games, no workout room, not even books to read. I know it’s jail, but not to be able to at least have a paperback to read seems counterproductive. Providing lots of free time with nothing to do just seems to ask for trouble among the incarcerated young.
We also have to keep it to a surface level chat because we are being monitored and recorded. Nothing too personal, and definitely not anything about why they are there or asking why they did such a stupid act to get them in the slammer. It is tiring having to monitor what we are saying, more so them than us, that it wears on the conversation as well.
When I left, I joked with my hubby that I was able to get out of jail. To not joke would be to cry instead. It was a very sad building. A very sad feeling in the building. Sad about how the visit must go. A great sadness to see one’s child behind bars and all that entails and means. It is truly a feeling of helplessness because there isn’t anything you can do to help keep them safe in a place like that.
Walking outside was a great relief. A relief just be out of all that bad energy. A relief that I was able to do it in the first place. A real relief that I was able to walk out to enjoy my life, such as it is.
Even hours later though, I’m still on the verge of possibly just breaking down in tears. Tears of what more could we have done in raising them. Tears in the feeling of failure to teach them right from wrong. Tears because we can’t just bring them home for a hug. Tears of knowing they probably won’t get out anytime soon and hearing the anguish and sadness of their voice in realizing where they are. Tears in listening to their hopes and dreams of how it will all play out, in knowing, based on the charges and history, probably won’t occur as they believe.
So, I’ll reflect and process. Let my psyche take it in and adjust to the reality of the situation. Life always goes on, and it shall with all of this as well.
Keep my child in your thoughts and prayers. Pray for their safety, pray for the best possible outcome, and pray they reflect and learn from the experience, so much so, that they never ever end up in such a sad scary place again.