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!

kneeling at the foot of patience

“Patient Tree” by Bhamgal

Middle-aged women who have managed successful careers and families–and lose everything due to addictions–tug at my heart in a particular way.  This week, LN joined our circle of 13 women to write about the diamonds of patience.  She wasted no time sharing her life-story and ongoing battle with alcoholism.  The final line of her piece caused eyes to well up with tears.  Read on…

Patience is not my strong suit. I’ve had to work diligently to acquire this most humble virtue.  Patience, as modeled by my mother, father, brothers and grandmother, did not run deep in my family either. So when it comes to my own patience, my only role models were family, outside of priests, nuns, and school teachers, and that didn’t run as deeply as you might think.

I humbled myself with my conversations with God – He alone showed me that His will be done was what I had to accept in His, and only His own time. 

I had major back surgery when I was 15 years old.  I convalesced in a full-body cast, flat on my back for six months.  I had my first taste of my true human nature when all was taken from me so quickly.  I lost my freedom.  I lost my spirit.  I gained humility and patience.

When I became a nurse in 1981 when I was just 21, I learned that my patients didn’t always tell time by my watch.

When I married at 24, I didn’t realize that husbands could also be as impatient as their wives. 

When I went on to have three sons in quick succession, I had to really put on my thinking-cap to keep up with their demands and needs.

When I went to prison in 2004, I learned to wait for all my most basic needs, like nutrition, health and medication.

My final challenge has been accepting that family and friends have set boundaries around my alcoholic words and behaviors. I am aware of my Jekyll and Hyde personality when actively drinking. 

My family’s love comes now in the form of tough love. I only know if I have patience now, those I love and hold dear to my heart will come back to me, even if I arrive in heaven first.