Alone in Prison (Almost)

Posted: April 2, 2010 in Uncategorized

If you are an immediate family member of an inmate in the Wisconsin Prison system and still supporting him/her from the outside, God Bless you.  I’m sure you are their oxygen of survival here, their hope for the future, and they shed tears for having let you down.  Many of us aren’t as fortunate.  January 22nd was my step-daughter’s 14th birthday (we’ll call her Lisa) and one of my favorite days of the year.  Sure, I’ve sent letters over the past 260 some days of incarceration, trying to maintain contact, but as the soon to be ex-wife pulled away, so has she.  My first birthday apart from her was much harder than I could’ve thought.  I loved giving more than receiving but especially to family.  The light in the eyes, the smile and then the hug.  I smile now even as I write it.

I married the soon to be ex-wife in March 2001.  We’ll call her JoAnn.  Her and I got along great and had issues in our childhood that were similar.  JoAnn had another daughter, we’ll call her Lynn, who turned 18 this past year.  Marrying into this family was the greatest day of my life as I’d been searching for family connection my whole life.  One problem came in early on and that was JoAnn couldn’t discipline or control Lynn, or Lisa well for that matter.  The disciplinarian role feel to me, the step parent.  An extremely explosive relationship developed between me and Lynn as she had been accustomed to running over her mother.  What followed was false allegations, running away, thousands of thefts, repeated police contacts and changing schools several times.  Meanwhile, my career as a .NET programmer and IT Systems Analyst took off but required long, long hours.  The more I was gone, the more home life deteriorated.   As noted earlier I was struggling to hold myself together, trying to manage on my own, with the terrible fear I was losing another family, and anxiety from work all surrounding me instead of stepping away and seeking help, I crawled into a bottle, often late at night, trying anything to achieve peace in my mind.  Of course, JoAnn came after me so I began to arrange or volunteer for out of town trips, where I escaped the home environment but not my demons or the realization I had failed as a husband and father just as my biological father had failed.

Towards the end, I told JoAnn I was losing my mind and needed to go to a hospital for awhile.  But, we had bills.  I was earning $80,000 a year with a fortune 500 company but there was no savings.  If nothing else, I had financially supported this family for 10 years, and I couldn’t bail on that responsibility too, could I?  I failed to seek help is the bottom line, even though I knew I was going under.

After my arrest, without warning I was served divorce papers after about 10 days in jail.  She wanted a ‘normal’ life and not ironically, to have to take care of someone else.  Of course, I wanted to point out that I’d been there and cared for them the last 10 years through hell and back, but no one was listening.  Of course, this tore my guts out.  I had lost another family.  The divorce will be final Feb 10th.

In short order, our mutual friends at church and elsewhere abandoned me.  Picture life boats off a sinking ship.  That didn’t surprise me too much.

Was I bitter?  Was I angry?  Am I still?  Yes, of course.  But, I believe that love must eventually drown those negative emotions.  I also ask myself if my motives are right.  Is it really my intent to somehow solve the loneliness here and lack of family connections that make me want to reach out even though I suspect for my own well being I should stay away?  If I do, will God bring another family into my life?  Do I even have the right to ask at this point?  Would anyone want me at all knowing all of this?

Clearly, many things to work out.  I am not completely alone.  I have the sponsors and two close friends, all of whom are not connected to my former life.  In the last 9 months, I’ve lost my wife, family, home, cars, all my money, career, obviously my freedom, dealing with cancer, and debts are piling up.  The one thing is, I look at what I built against all odds before and have to believe if I stay focused on what I need to do while in prison, there’s got to be a way that God has a plan and my life isn’t over.  If I don’t believe that, why try?  I have to be willing to be honest, dedicated and involved in my recovery even though it’s going to hurt.  And, if I do all that, good things should happen.  Thanks for listening.


  1. Mary says:

    Owning up to your own stuff can be so painful. But I have to tell is SO worth it.

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