Mom, Joe and other friends have all been telling me lately about the level of support that I will need when I get released. They have noted that my transition is going to be very difficult because no one can go away to prison for 16 years, get out and be just ‘okay’. Sometimes I don’t think even they know how scared I am of getting out. What’s worse is that I hate the fact that I have gotten to a place where I am actually afraid to be out of prison! It is a classic sign that I have become institutionalized without even knowing it. Most days I choose to ignore it but, when I am alone with my thoughts, well, that’s when it all comes to the front and center.Thus far, after 10 years, I have adopted the following traits:
1. I do not like being in a crowd of more than four people. My defense goes up immediately
2. I do not like people behind me, for any reason
3. I do not like to be touched from the side or from behind. I always need to see what is happening.
4. It is difficult to maintain steady eye contact with anyone during conversation because I am always scanning my environment.
5. Ridiculous words trigger anger in me; ie: “pussy”, “punk”, “bitch”, “mother fucker”, “rat”.Having these issues will make me appear to be crazy and I am worried about the length of time it will take me to break them.
Other concerns that I have, are even scarier for me. I will list them in order of importance to me, alright?
· EMPLOYMENT – I have a few ideas as to what I want to do for work, but I will obviously have to live hand to mouth initially. Knowing myself though, I will need to hit the ground running in order to make up for lost time.
· LIVING SITUATION – I am pretty independent. Moving in with my mom terrifies me. Though we could live together easily, I would feel as if she would have a certain amount of control and say over me. She would also subconsciously be all up in my business. Moving in with Joe would be extremely time sensitive. He is the consummate bachelor and loves his space. I would pose a challenge for him regardless of how close we are. The pressure to find my own place, would be on.
Ideally moving in with Jan would be the best idea because living with her would be easy and her house, is in a way, my house. I love it as much as she does. The problem however is that she is in the Bay area and I want to live in Boston.
· SOCIETAL ACCEPTANCE – In my mind, people’s acceptance of me is neither desired or required but in my heart, I would very much like to be accepted. Deciding upon whether or not to be completely open about my prison experience or to pick and choose times to divulge that information is concerning. I know I am going to be judged, and seen differently. That will bother me to a degree. I just do not know to what degree. I do not want to live a life where I am constantly having to prove myself to everyone.
· RELATIONSHIP – Though I have subtly changed my outlook on having a partner and being in a relationship, I know that at some point, I am going to want someone special in my life. My past could very well be a serious deterrent for anyone considering involvement with me.I do not really discuss these issues with my friends or family because they are like the white elephant in the room. When they tell me that my transition will be hard, well, it kind of sums it all up. I try to bury these concerns of mine but I know that is not healthy. Still, I feel talking about them and attempting to deal with them now, is premature.