reconnecting family

My blog post of 9/7, pulling the jail card, sparked a moving response from a sibling of one of the ‘inside’ women writers.  Within the writing circle, JL wrote about the “marvelous error” it has been to land at Chittenden Correctional Facility to provide her with necessary reflection and regrouping time.  Her family member writes:

 “…a very interesting piece my sister wrote.  Although I have not had direct communication with her since her ‘card was pulled,’ my hope for her grows as I see an acceptance that had not existed even 6 months ago.  I would like to thank you for posting this piece.  And thanks for giving my sister a voice and for helping me see that it is time to reach out to her once again.”

The writinginsideVT blog was envisioned as a vehicle for connecting imprisoned women’s words to the larger society and educating the public about incarceration issues.  I must say we did not anticipate the possibility of providing a reconnection point for individual families.  Wow.  A most humbling revelation this day.

On another note, I decided to expand upon my 8/29 blog post, mom’s in jail, and craft a commentary for Vermont Public Radio about children of the incarcerated returning to school.  Back to School aired yesterday morning.  Click “Listen” and enjoy!

pulling the jail card

I am refreshed when an incarcerated woman accepts her imprisonment as a needed ‘time-out’ from a chaotic life gone off the rails.  A chance to stop the drug-use fueling the crime.  An opportunity to take stock and reset priorities, so to speak.  Prisoners can become obsessessed with ‘getting out’ and not focus on the necessary ‘inside’ work at hand.

“Go to Jail” by R-E-M/Flickr

That’s why JL’s piece below struck a chord with me this week.  She excerpted the phrase ‘marvelous error’ from Antonio Machado’s poem Last night as I was sleeping and articulated deep gratitude for this reconfiguration time.  Enjoy reading on…

Long before the alcohol, the nicotine, the needle, I escaped and soothed with macaroni and cheese, hot dogs and Egg McMuffins.  I would fill the pain with pasta, escape with eclairs, de-stress with Doritos. 

It was my first addiction; not unlike my first words or my first steps, it was the building blocks of my shack of isolation.  It was my first magnificent plan to hide from the world by getting bigger.

I would immediately follow this up with crash diets, thinking that if I could get control of this, I would have control of my entire life. 

What a twisted little game of indulgence and instant gratification that would continue into my adult years, only the stakes became much higher than gaining ten pounds.  The stakes became life and death, Russian roulette with a syringe.

Win or lose, there was no end until one day, as in Monopoly, my Chance Card came up – go to jail, directly to jail.  I did not pass “Go” and certainly did not collect $200 … instead I got to stop playing the game.  And what a marvelous error it has been, to retire my jersey, to step to the sidelines, to sit back and stop playing.  Yes, what a marvelous error, what a delicious mistake.