Sunday, December 28, 2014

#54 - I think I can, I think I can (Journal Entries Through February 1, 2014)

It started out as a normal day.  Breakfast, clean up, getting kids off to Saturday practices, returning emails, then I packed my things and took our 3 youngest to my in-laws and my mom met me there. 

And then....  My mom drove me to jail.

If it happened everyday for a year, I still wouldn't be used to it.  I go about my normal life for 3 weeks with mom responsibilities, driving to practices and piano lessons and volunteering at the school, signing permission slips and helping with homework and cooking meals - and then one day I drive 2 hours away and check myself into jail.  I thought it would get easier each time, but it never does.  It just never does. 

I walked through the doors, completely free, and spoke to the person through the glass to tell them I'm there to check in.  Surreal.  Like a strange movie, here I go again...

I'm trying hard not to be grumpy each time, but it's extremely hard not to break down and feel the injustice and unfairness in this whole situation.  I have to remember that I can do good in any situation I am in.  And if that's not with my family, then it better be darn worth it!  I have prayed diligently each time I have come in for 1 thing in particular - that the Bunkie I am matched with will be one I can be some kind of light to. 

Check in through booking did seem a little easier this time - or am I just getting used to it?  The guard on duty wasn't as thorough as they have been in the past.  I was thankful she skipped the 'flea dip' that's supposed to kill head lice, along with a couple other details.  Should that be a compliment of their trust?  I'll take it as a blessing, as degrading as the process can be. 

Every time I come, they start out friendly and buddy-buddy, asking how my day is going.  That slowly fades away as I move through booking.  By the time I've given up all my belongings and am dressed in stripes and orange crocs again, I'm considered an inmate.  Then they are all business. 

Funny thing is, I wouldn't have it any other way.  It would be awkward if I went through the process with someone that was not professional about it.  I'm not asking for any favors or special treatment, so I would rather be 'one of the girls' in there than anything more.  It's a tough job they do and they've done a good job and drawing the line and sticking to it. 

However difficult it is to check myself in to be punished for something I didn't do, I've wondered a lot of 'What if's' this time around.  What if all this sacrifice being here was translated into a moral strength for my kids?  What if it were translated into Bryer's continued development?  What if it were translated into more patience or energy for Jason as he takes care of kids while I'm gone?  Would this all be worth the sacrifice? 

Without a second thought - of course! 

But what if those blessings of 'what if' weren't seen in the near future?  What if it took a lifetime - or the next life - to see those blessings.  Would it still be worth it?  It's not immediate gratification, but of course it would be worth it!  The things that are of the most worth are also worth the biggest sacrifices. 

Hmmm.  Yes.  The things that are the most worth are also worth the biggest sacrifices

As I write that, I think that maybe these girls are of the 'most worth' to Him.  So this sacrifice this week must be worth it.  I'm human though and I still have doubts and frustrations and deep sadness and all the emotions that come with being in a place like this.  I hope I will be in tune with the spirit this week for Him to use me.   


They moved me through booking and gave me my bedroll and hygiene packet for the week.  Through a couple heavy doors that banged shut behind us, the guard escorted me to the common area once again and assigned me to a lower level cell with my new Bunkie. 

Nettie and I will be sharing a cell this week.  She's a strong lady and from what I've gathered, she's spent most of her life in the system in one state or another.  She's a black lady and keeps her short hair in cornrows most days.    She doesn't seem hardened though.  She's easy going and counting her blessings that she has a roof over her head and food to eat.  For the circumstances she's come from, this may be a step up.  She's as humble as they come.  I remember her praying at church the last time I was here and was touched by her words.  She seems content to be here and happy to have a simple talent to share, by cutting the other inmates' hair on Saturdays when the guards bring in the scissors and razor. 


Netty helped me get my mattress into the cover and sheets on my bed.  She's been around long enough to know all the tricks.  "Fold your mattress like a taco," she told me.  I kind of wanted to laugh and cry at the same time as she gave me tips to put my cell together. 

A handful of girls came to the door of my cell to welcome me.  Rachel was one of the first and I was so glad to see her still here!  There's a 1/2 dozen that are the same and they were all friendly and went out of their way to welcome me back and tell me they were glad I was here again.  Rachel said when they found out I was coming back in, she told everyone they needed to be good.  I've heard a lot of 'Oh my goodness!' since I've been here - far from the normal language used.  I have to laugh.  Rachel has fully taken a hold of her leadership position and I love to see her using it in a positive way.  I never said anything about watching their mouths or changing anything they do - especially for me.  It's unnecessary, but completely appreciated! 

At one point I heard one of the new girls ask one of the regulars, "Who is that?  Why does everyone know her?"  When someone new comes, the first question is always 'What are they here for?'  A normal reply would have included a list of the charges, what facilities the inmate has been through, rehab programs, etc.  I heard this inmate say, "Oh, that's Krissi.  She comes for one week a month."  I kind of waited, bracing myself to hear the charges or anything else that would identify why I am here.  But there wasn't anymore said about it. 


I talked to a new girl today.  She has 3 boys that she loves very much.  Before all of this, I think I would have thought, "If you love your kids so much, why do you let all this other stuff get in the way of that?!"  Since I've been here, I realize it's not that easy.  She is free of all the addiction that seriously runs her life.  It's not just a matter of not seeking it out.  It takes commitment - every. single. day.  And sometimes every single hour.  It's a struggle and a fight to stay clean.  And when she thinks she's doing good and staying away from the temptation, then the temptation finds her.

She said her 3 boys have keys that they wear around their necks.  They are the keys to their mom's heart.  As sentimental, and maybe a little cheesy as it sounded, I just imagine these 3 little boys running around on the playground with keys to their mom's heart flopping around their neck - while she sits here in jail because of an addiction she can't overcome on her own. 

I asked about her tattoos.  Just to write that seems funny.  I would have never asked someone about their tattoos before.  But she went into detail about her swirly bracelet with her boys' names on her wrist that swirls up her forearm.  She wants it to swirl all the way around and up her arm and around to the back of her neck where she'll have 3 hearts with keyholes in the middle.   

I'm not one for tattoos, but it's the way she tries to show her love I guess. 


The girls watched 'Cops' today on TV.  I was confused for a while, watching their reactions.  I remember watching it with my uncle a few times when I was little and singing the theme song, "Bad boys, bad boys, whacha gonna do?  Whacha gonna do when they come for you?"  We'd clap and cheer for the cops when they chased down the criminal and caught them. 

Watching it with these girls was the exact opposite.  The girls here show that same excitement, clapping, and whooping, but for the criminals trying to get away.  They yell things like, "Run faster!  Get out of there!  They're right behind you!"  It's the same for shows like Locked Up.  The bad guys are the cops to them.  It's a whole different world in here. 


When I left this morning I told Walker that I would call home about 7:30.  I should have known better.  When I'm locked up, there's no guarantee that I will be able to call at a certain time.  My phone privileges hadn't been turned back on yet so I couldn't call until 8:30.  I tried not to pace while I waited to call, thinking I was looking like all the other moms in here that say they will do something and then don't.  8:30 was past his bedtime.  Luckily he was still awake.  I sat in the chair right next to the phone - mostly because I have to sit right next to the phone with the cord as long as it is.  (Wouldn't want it to be long enough for someone to swing it at someone or use it to strangle themselves.)  Walker seems fascinated just by the fact that he can talk to me while I'm actually in jail.  "Are you in jail now?"
"Did the police let you use their phone?"
"Yes, but it's expensive to call."
That was all he needed.  Just a check in and to confirm we're all okay.  I'm glad for Jason and our families that make things as normal as possible for our kids while I'm gone.  Still, his sweet 5 year-old voice made me tear up, as short as it was. 


Before bed one of the girls that's been here a while asked, "Why are you here again?"  I reminded her that I found my 2 month old baby not breathing during a nap.  I thought that much information would be enough to jog her memory for her to remember my story and charges.  She looked at me like she didn't remember, so I went on.  "I called 911 and did CPR until help arrived."  Still no indication that she remembered.  "By that night they were accusing me of child abuse."  It seemed to hit her out of no where.  She sat there just shaking her head, "That's just crazy.  They don't know who you are, do they?" 

I just laughed at the irony of it.  No, actually they don't. 


I had a hard time going to sleep.  I laid there thinking about my family sitting in church tomorrow lined up in a pew without me.  I thought about how refreshing and rejuvenating church is.  It gives me oomph for another week.  I thought about how much preparation we put into church.  We spend Saturday shopping, cleaning, and doing laundry so we can take Sunday 'off.'  We sit in a pew in our Sunday best, teach our kids to be quiet and reverent, spend 3 hours at a church service, Sunday School and then separate guys from girls for separate lessons.  We do all this with kids in tow and trying to look and be our best. 

And then... life happens for the next 6 days.  It's messy and chaotic and full of changes to try to adjust to.  All of that learning and knowledge and good feelings that we absorbed on Sunday has to last us for 6 days as we are tested, tried, tempted, and feel the disappointments of life.

It's easy to apply patience, faith, hope, love, charity, and be Christ like when we are all dressed up looking our best on Sunday.  The real test comes through the week.  I think a person's traits are magnified through the things that test them. 

My feelings haven't changed - I still would rather just huddle in my cell on my bunk.  It would be easier to mope.  Feel sorry for myself.  Let the emotion take over.  Miss my family.  Be mad at the injustice.  Get frustrated. 

But God did not create us to be miserable.  He didn't.  Like the verse says, "Men are, that they might have joy."  I know that joy comes from thinking outside myself.  Be a light.  Find something of myself I can share.  Set a good example.  Laugh with someone.  Be a good friend.  Understand.  Have compassion.  Be a listener...  That all sounds easy when I'm sitting in church...  And a lot harder as I lay on a thin, worn mattress in jail listening to a big black lady snore on the bottom bunk under me with the light in my face. 

...In 6 more days, it will be fully squeezed out of me and I will need to refresh.  I will pass this test this week.  I think I can.  I think I can.  I think I can. 

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