A beautiful message from Tabitha McCormick, a valued member and volunteer.
No matter the length of the sentence, it is never easy to maintain a relationship with someone that’s incarcerated. Even the most seasoned of us are struggling with decreased contact during the pandemic and there isn’t any consistency between facilities or even states when it comes to communication, sentencing, or prison conditions. Lately, I’ve read many stories about homecomings, video visits, phone calls, artwork sent in the mail, and other happy news.
True talk: we are all living in a bit of scarcity. None of us really ever receive what feels like enough letters, or visits, or phone calls, or general contact that we want from our loved ones. That’s not because they don’t want to give it to us, but because there are extreme limits related to incarceration. Some of us get frequent visits (when there’s not a pandemic). Others get several phone calls a day. Some have emails. Some have video visits. Some rely only on the occasional letter that moves like molasses through the miles between them. Some people have out dates coming soon. Some have years or decades to go. And some currently do not have an out date.
It is natural, as human beings to project our pain onto others. Typically, this is a subconscious deal, but not always. Sometimes, we want others to know that we are “hurting more” than they are. The truth is that we do not actually know how much someone else is hurting. We do not know all of the details of their story or the depths of their souls. Truly, there is no reason to even attempt to compare. There is no hierarchy to suffering.
The constant longing and ache for our loved ones is something that we all feel. We all hurt. And our loved ones hurt too. There is no doubt about any of this. Pain can show us truths, but if we’re not careful, pain can also lie to us. Pain can cause feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and loneliness. I’ve been there. I think we have all been there.
I truly believe that being in a partnership with an incarcerated person has formed me into a better human. I have been forged in the fire. Meaning, I now know that I can endure anything. I can endure it. And, I can keep my sense of empathy for others no matter how much I hurt. I have learned that it feels much better to celebrate the good news of our fellow travelers than it does to begrudge them their joy. If we view ourselves as a true community, their wins are our wins. Their joys can bring us happiness. Their struggles can bring us pain. We learn to live as a community that provides support, tough love, and celebration. We hold space for everyone. We bear witness to each other. We hold up mirrors to remind us all of who we are and where we’re going. We don’t let anyone get lost along the way. We are not only here to support each other through pain. We are also here to laugh and squeal when someone receives happy news.
I miss my partner’s face more than I can say, but I love seeing other people’s video clips. We have years to go, but I feel giddy when someone is preparing to pick up their person at the gates. This is not because I’m some kind of pollyanna, because anyone that knows me knows that, while I try to stay in the sunshine, I can get down in the mud with the best of them. What I am inarticulately trying to convey is this:
We get to choose our perspective. We are all in this together and I am going to make a conscious effort to celebrate with you every single chance that I get. We all need good news on this arduous adventure as we travel this winding path. May we always rise together.
How has being on this journey made you a better person?”