I wanted to tell my story for any who have ever wondered about the reality of a family who had a husband and father who is then suddenly stripped away to the prison system. It's such a taboo topic. I am here to shed light on it. That picture is a collage I made of me after a visit when he was in county jail on the top, him in a federal facility after he left county jail, and us together on a vacation a year before he was arrested.
I start by saying that it is probably one of the most painful and traumatic experiences for a family to endure aside from death. But it is so similar to death (dare I say), that I compare the two often. I knew he was doing the crime before I married him. But I fell in love quickly and was tired of working full time (as a single mother with 2 children prior to marriage). So in my mind I thought, "I can work with him and help him to build a legit business. He won't do this forever." As a muslim, you have an older male figure that advises you on potential mates (normally your father if also muslim, but my father is not). Mine advised me not to marry my husband. But as you can see, I said "my husband". I have zero regrets. He is a wonderful man. So we lived. Not fantastically wealthy, but comfortable enough to have what we needed while I stayed home and popped out 2 wonderful new children.
So fast forward almost five years. The feds are looking for my husband and we are worried that they may indeed find him. I kind of think that because it was a white collar crime, I gave it less thought. I won't get into the details though. I just want to say that my husband was and is a very creative gentleman. Hopefully when he comes home in 3 more years, he will use his creativity and intelligence in ways that can be profitable legally. But back to my point. The point of this article is that when you're married to someone in prison, it feels like everyone judges you. I won't say everyone. I'll say 97.3% of people. I'm a very transparent person so I don't hold back the location of my husband when I deem it best for someone I'm talking to to know. I know of a person who had everyone thinking her husband had gone overseas for educational purposes instead of telling people that he was in prison. I would never dare. And I'm asking all of you who read this to take in the knowledge of someone's loved one in prison with no judgement. Because you don't know their circumstances. You don't know their life. And like I say often, there may be someone sitting right next to you that's involved in criminal activity and just hasn't been caught.
So treat people as you would want to be treated. It has been 14 months so far for us. 32 more months to go. My husband is almost dead if you ask me. Understand that. We now have a 4 yr old son and a 2 yr old daughter who cannot even see their father because the feds moved him to a facility ten hours away from our home. After he was first arrested, our son used to run to the door screaming "Daddy!" if he ever heard movement near the knob. Imagine that. Take note that I am very clear on the fact that my husband did something illegal. But just like I told the judge at his sentencing, removing him from his family for the past 9 months that we've been waiting for this hearing have been pure torture. To extend his time to 60 whole months is unnecessary and cruel. As simple as that. I can PROMISE you that the deep pain of that sudden separation is what will "rehabilitate" my husband. Not stretching out the time to make it even more painful. And then pretending to care about family members on the outside and then sending him ten hours away from that same family. We can't visit because we had no savings. We were far from rich. I am now taking temp jobs every few months to try and survive. I haven't been able to land a permanent job in 14 months of looking. But am I trying? Of course I am.
Are employers discriminating against me because I'm a black muslim woman? Only God knows, but I don't put it past anyone. Life just isn't so simple for everyone. I look at so many others around me who seem to have it easy. But then I pull back because I know that my journey is my journey and theirs is theirs. Let's not talk about the "sin" involved in being involved in criminal activity. So, there's the general population that judges, then there's my religious community. How dare she marry someone who was doing a crime! How dare he support his family with "dirty" money! Sigh. So I walk this path pretty much alone. I've met other prison wives via social media. None that I've met in person yet. But I still have 32 months left of being a prison wife. Then I'll have 6 months of being a halfway house wife. Then I'll have a few years of being the wife of the man that's on probation. Then maybe we can finally have our dream of living in a secret bubble away from all of those who don't understand.
Prison doesn't reform if you ask me. It causes major damage in families. But who am I to say? Just a woman who lives daily with a husband, who is alive, who I cannot touch and can barely talk to. Just a woman who is now raising her children (who have a living father that wants to be in their lives) alone. Trying to explain to toddlers why their Daddy disappeared. Trying to live each day without a piece of her soul. Because he made a mistake. A mistake that was not violent in any way. A mistake where all of the victims had their credit returned to them (yes, credit...not actual items). A mistake that no one cares was a mistake. A mistake that is slowly torturing our family. But he messed up. So who cares about all of that, right?...Peace