Gettin' the Ugly Out

Published by: Jo_Reed on 12th Dec 2014 | View all blogs by Jo_Reed
Today, I wanted to share with y'all my thoughts on the "ugly" side of this life. In the past, I've posted about finding the blessings, making a conscious decision to be grateful and staying positive in our actions and words while we walk this road. I've posted about my fear of honesty; "letting people in" only to lose them to judgment, scorn or negativity because of what they think about Ben, or me for LOVING Ben. I had to get some other things out of my head this morning though and y'all know if it's coming from me, it's not always pretty but it's always REAL! So here goes...

I think sometimes we sell ourselves this idea that in order to be "good" wives or girlfriends or loved ones, we always have to be POSITIVE, STRONG and SUPPORTIVE.  We have to "put up with" the struggles we go through with a smile on our face and a swing in our step, showing everybody a great example of what REAL loyalty and love look like. And don't get me twisted; those things are vitally important. You won't get far in this life if you're a negative person or a neurotic worrywart or constantly insecure. We've all seen the people who talk a good game about how they have their loved one's back but in reality, it's anything BUT! And we roll our eyes at them and keep doing our thing, reassured by each other that it IS possible to do this not only "well" but triumphantly!  (Thank goodness for each other, my LORD)

Every once in a while though, here's where I'm at. I am ANGRY. I am SAD. I am LONELY. I am OVERWHELMED. I am even (gasp!) RESENTFUL. I am INSECURE. I am WORRIED.  ALL of the ugly emotions I never want to admit I have and try very hard to pretend I don't - to others, to Ben and to myself. Except that when I "stuff" those things down and try to ignore them, they always seem to bubble to the top during really inconvenient moments. Like when I'm exploding on somebody who has absolutely nothing to do with any of it. Or when I'm sobbing into my pillow even though I need sleep. Or when I'm distracted at work. Or when I'm wishing somebody in line at the grocery store would "give me a fucking reason". Ya know - THOSE moments...

Just me? (Listening to the sound of crickets) Maybe. But I doubt it.

So here's what I've got.
JUST FOR TODAY, I'm giving myself permission to be HUMAN. My Superwoman cape is going to the dry cleaners. I am crawling into bed with a cup of hot tea, some Netflix and a fluffy blanket and I am unplugging from the world. I'm even (oh, the ultimate sin amongst "prison wives") TURNING OFF MY PHONE. Because I just cannot DEAL today. And that's OK. Really. It is. Ignore the panic attack you're TOTALLY is.

Today, I'm going to admit that I am PISSED OFF at this man for NOT BEING HERE. Unfair? Yes. Totally. True? Also, yes. I have been sick for three days and now one of the boys is sick, and I had to reschedule an important medical procedure and cancel all our fun plans for the weekend and I'm sitting around completely overwhelmed by a dirty house and it would be REALLY FUCKING NICE if my partner was here to take SOME of this load. And, oh look, he very nicely scheduled a video visit that I have to not only pay extra for, but find time to look nice for and make time for in the middle of my damn day. THANKS, dude. Really. And you're going to make some joke about what I'm getting you for Christmas that any other time would get a laugh, but today I'm going to have to work really hard not to bite your head off and call you names.

Today, I'm going to admit that I'm sick of waiting. I wait on letters. I wait on emails and calls. I wait to have enough money for visits. I wait on "Uncle Sam" to tell me where my next assignment will be and for how long and whether there will even BE an assignment. Waiting on judicial measures. Parole. Release date. Job. Place to live. ('cause oh, yes, let's discuss that finding all that stuff for the parole board to accept his request to move on an interstate compact will be on ME, before he even hits the gate, since I really don't have ENOUGH to do just taking care of myself here...) Just...waiting. Hoping the right answers will present themselves, in the right way, at the right time, to make all this work. Hoping he won't be a statistic. Hoping this whole long, lonely, seemingly endless stretch of time won't have been for nothing.

Today, I'm going to admit that I worry. A lot. About myself. Am I strong enough to do this? We go day-by-day here because I really can't wrap my head around how much longer we do have to go. Should I put my life on hold this way? Should I plan for a future that's going to have just as many challenges as the present? What if my family NEVER accepts him? I'm insanely close to my loved ones. Can I handle them ALWAYS hating this? How does that affect my kids? How does that affect US? What if it REALLY does turn out to be "us" against the world? Can I DO that? SHOULD I?
About Ben. He's not away at summer camp. It's a tough place. He does his best to stay out of the mix but what if he can't? God forbid something happen to my HEART. I can't even entertain that thought. He's got a long way to go. He admits that he gets depressed. Feels the urge to disconnect sometimes, even from me, to protect his own mental health. Fears that these last few years will "change" him to the point where he just doesn't know how to function in society because he's so institutionalized. Worries about old temptations that will destroy what we've built. Wants to give up when he thinks about how hard it may be to get ahead and succeed in life with the label of "convicted felon" following him everywhere he goes. Can I keep him motivated and focused? Is that even my responsibility? He's a grown man. Where's the line between understanding where he's at and "putting up with" any occasional temper tantrums he throws about stupid shit, especially if it means he doesn't pick up extra time by popping off and losing his cool with his celly or a C/O? How much tough love is too much? How much patience is too much? What is being a partner and what's just making excuses? Where's the line?

Today I'm going to admit that I'm tired of being strong. I just want to cry. I want to grab my keys and take the boys to stay with my folks and go on vacation to a deserted island. I am sick of being all things to all people all the time and nobody ever even pausing to ask how I'm doing before they "pile on" with their needs for help, advice, comfort, aid and support. I'm tired of telling God how much I trust Him to take care of us and work things out in His time, because I'm impatient and I want my man home and I want to be able to at least have SOMETHING I can do, and put my hands on and control. I'm sick of being at the MERCY of the telephone system, the mail system, the justice system, the military system...I'm just DONE. I want to unplug and not plug back in again. I want to WALLOW. Except that I can't. Because there's too much to do and I'm the only one willing and able to do it. And I'm tired of that TOO.

Where do I go to RESIGN?!?!

WHOO! That feels GOOD, to pour all that out. It doesn't change a damn thing, but if even one person out there this morning went, "Oh, my god, somebody finally admitted it - ME TOO!!!" then it was worth it.  And I bet if I'm right, there was MORE than one. Maybe 10. Maybe 100. Who knows? Either way, know this. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And it's OK. We ALL feel that way. Sometimes not even for 1 day. More like several in a row! Sometimes, crazy as it makes us feel, we even feel that way in the morning and by noon we're fine and then we're all "verklempt" again in the evening! (Ben has been known to tell me, "God may have made women strong but he SURE never made them simple!")

So how do we get PAST it? Out the other side of the ugly and towards the light again? (Trust me, this is about the only acceptable "go towards the light" scenario...) Here are a few things that work for me.

TAKE TIME OFF. Growing up in my family, we had what we called the "24-hour rule". If something bad happened, you had 24 hours in which to whine, moan, cry, complain, bitch and be generally unpleasant to everybody around you while they avoided you or catered to your emotions. After that? Time was UP. You were expected to take a deep breath, crawl out from under the covers, put your big girl panties on, wash your face and throw your shoulders back and carry on living and being PLEASANT. People would still support you but nobody else was going to sit around and be at the mercy of your ugliness. Now in this life, it's very rarely one big, bad thing. It's more like several, constant little annoying things! Given that fact, I try to reserve my "24 hours" for times when something unusal has happened. Lockdown. Transfer. Visit cancelation. Technical difficulties during a video visit. Bad news from the lawyer. The "bigger" stuff. It doesn't always happen that way. (Thankfully, we're in a pretty "stable" situation right now). This week, for example, it was cumulative and today was the "straw that broke the camel's back". I realized this when I spilled some dog food this morning and started yelling. AT THE DOG. Like she was going to DO something about it. (She did - she looked at me crazy and then licked my face while I cried). Seriously, though. Cussin' out a Pomeranian. That was the point where I stopped myself with, "And...somebody 'round here needs to get a grip..." and my "timeclock" started. TAKE YOUR 24 HOURS. (You can even give yourself 48-72. If the people around you will put up with you for that long, it'll be our little secret)

PRAY. Oh, my word. I can't stress this enough. I know not everybody who uses this forum is of a spiritual bent, but plenty of us are. It's an invaluable resource (check out the Prayer Groups if you haven't already) for a lot of us. Even in there, though, we sometimes get so stuck on encouragement mode that I think we can be a little scared to be "real" with each other about anything we're struggling with. And let's face it, even as much as we trust one another, there are some things that are REALLY personal and just between us/our loved one/God. But I PROMISE y'all, my Father in Heaven REGULARLY gets an earful. I pour my heart out to him and sometimes, it's praise and worship. It's always thanksgiving - eventually. In the middle, well...let's just say I'm glad He hasn't seen fit to reach down from Heaven with a big 'ol bottle of Dawn dishwashing soap the way my mother used to, because some of the words I use aren't real holy! And I think that's OK. He loves us and created us and has a Father's heart for us and our men - I really don't think He's the LEAST BIT intimidated by our fear, anger, worry and unbelief. I do know He wants to carry it ALL for us, if we let Him. I don't always feel like going to church. I don't always feel like reading my Bible or listening to worship music. But on my worst days, I go out and sit in the Jeep where I can have a little privacy and I turn up the radio so I don't get arrested for schizophrenia and I YELL AT GOD. And I CRY. And I let go of EVERY BIT of poison in my heart and trust that HE IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS. (It took me a LONG time to get there, and if you're not there yet, that's OK too - ask Him. He'll show you. I promise that.) I tend to hang onto stuff much longer than I should and THEN hand it over, but it gets done and it always helps.

LEAN. Oh, my darlin's. It can feel like we have absolutely NOBODY who understands what we go through. The great news is, it's not TRUE! Use this forum! Look online for support groups in your area ( is a great place to start). Gather around you like GOLD a few trusted friends in your area you can share your heart with. Talk to random people in chat rooms (Kidding! Don't do that! ICK). But seriously, understand that it's VITAL to have folks you can occasionally just fall down around, who will pick you up and steady you until you get your feet back under you. Even your incarcerated partner/loved one! Really! It was mentioned in another great blog a while ago that even though they're men in prison, they're still OUR men and they still very much want to be involved and feel like they're strong enough to protect us and take care of us when we need them. Now, I'm not sayin' we should dump all the drama on them just because they're a captive audience. That's hardly fair. But, here's an example. Just this past week, I was having a really rough day after a fight with a friend, and I was still upset about it when Ben called. He asked why I sounded tense and I "unloaded" on him about it. He sat and listened, offered his perspective and support and then did his best to present a solution. As he did, I LITERALLY felt the weight leaving my shoulders, because here was my PARTNER, helping me. It was just like having a long day and coming in the door tired and frustrated and having him there, pulling me into his arms and holding me until I felt better. It was awesome. It also made me realize he still WANTS to be able to do that, in the only way he can and I don't HAVE to "handle" everything alone. (He and I have also developed a "warning" system we use for things that I DON'T particularly need him to "do" anything about. I type *VENT* before whatever I'm pissy about and then *VENT OVER* at the end of it, so he knows he doesn't have to "fix" it and I'm just gettin' it out of my system. That's caused way less stress for us both. Go ahead and steal that one, if it helps. Sometimes he knows he just needs to be my sounding board and NOT my "rescuer".)

Man alive, there is NOTHING EASY about all this mess, is there? But those three things, combined with a wicked sense of humor and the occasional bottle of wine (just keepin' it real), DO help to get me through. I'm COMPLETELY grateful for y'all, who keep me inspired and motivated and encouraged and laughing until I snort every day! And it means a lot to know that even on days I'm not ANY of those things, I still have a strong support system waiting for me when I crawl out from UNDER the bed. HANG IN THERE, sweet ladies! BRIGHTER DAYS ARE COMING. I'm even cautiously optimistic that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't an oncoming train. Pass the Girl Scout cookies. Let's do this.

Much love,



  • Jojo
    by Jojo 3 years ago
    **Like** button a million times. In one blog, you probably summed up the way the majority of us ladies feel. Your writing's are always an inspiration as well as REAL! Love your vulnerability and honesty.... it shines through you! Nothing about this life is easy, but if we have chosen to hold our men down, we have chosen this life! Every story is different, but we all have common ground. Great Job Jo!!!!!!!!
  • brujamaldita2
    by brujamaldita2 3 years ago
    I second that **Like** button .. love this. it is so true, I think we need to be reminded of this sometimes. thanks for sharing
  • Samie
    by Samie 3 years ago
    Kool Very Kool......I can agree some of what your sharing with us and deffinetly relate to the REALness of it!!!!We all have different sitiuations different familys some with kids some without....Some with a release date and some who dont..Some of us are Strongerb than others we tyr to help the youg girls with our experience in this Lifestyle that we did not choose.I can honestly say If My Husband was not The Man I know and Love I would NOT be in this .....You deffinetly must have a BIG Heart to handle this...I give you alot of credit and wish I could help with The Twins:)
  • Jo_Reed
    by Jo_Reed 3 years ago
    Thank you, ladies! It means so much to me to have a place where I CAN be totally real and transparent with ALL my emotions! Samie, I know I've said before (or at least I think I have!) that if Ben were not the man he is, there is NO WAY IN HELL I'd be doing any of this, so I completely understand where you're coming from on THAT one! :) This is NOT an easy life but it's one I will gladly do EVERY day (even the really HARD ones) in order to have him by my side at the end of it! :)
  • Suee
    by Suee 3 years ago
    Love it *****!!!You could have not word it better ,I believe we practice the "fake it till I make it "attitude just to cover up the ugly side of this journey , I'm going through a bad crisis with my husband right now just cuz I'm so upset and resentful abt everything this life involves , not saying I Luv him any less but in just tired of putting a fake smile on my face , as I was reading this I felt you were just directing every single word to me , Thanks so much , we really need to keep it real and you are great at it , much Luv !
  • naturally authentic
    by naturally authentic 3 years ago
    Wow that summed it up. I so appreciate how real you was. I think a lot of us feel that way sometimes . God bless you.
  • Diedre
    by Diedre 3 years ago
    yep! you got it down. way to be real cuz we all feel this way some times.
  • Chrisnali
    by Chrisnali 3 years ago
    Can I print this and send it to Chris? He asks "why do you sound down?" I can't really explain the emotions that I go through on sometimes an hourly basis over this whole situation. 15 YEARS?!? Really??? It's overwhelming and all the unanswered questions are torture. I think it might help him to understand some of what happens from my end.
  • Valerie
    by Valerie 3 years ago
    Wow! Thanks...You should write for a living. Very inspirational.
  • Jo_Reed
    by Jo_Reed 3 years ago
    @Chrisnali - You go right on ahead, sweetheart, but tell him I'm a little bit crazy so at least he'll understand that part too (grin).
  • Turtlelove
    by Turtlelove 3 years ago
    Holy put every thought, every emotion, every difficulty, and every seemingly bipolar moment that I have been dealing with for the last year!!!! My guy just had his one year of incarceration...oh what an anniversary. DAMN. This has been the worst year of our lives...mine especially because I'm the one that CAN'T fall apart even though i kind of deserve to be able to every once in awhile!! Thank you for speaking the truth about it all...some days I am so tired of plastering a smile on my face, or encouraging people going through a "tough" time, and just want to tell people to go jump off a bridge! Ha! I get it...I may use some of it if that's's just too good not to share so people REALLY understand what we deal with on a daily basis.
  • Chrisnali
    by Chrisnali 3 years ago
    Haha... Every letter he writes is addressed to his "crazy redhead" so maybe we are kindred spirits.
  • Jo_Reed
    by Jo_Reed 3 years ago
    Y'all share whatever you want with whomever. I just "say it here so I don't say it there" a lot! LMAO!!! I talk to Ben in some way, shape or form every day (letters, emails, calls, etc.) but I also keep a blog/journal to "unload my brain" as well. I'll PROBABLY share it with him when he comes home. I may not. I don't know yet. But sometimes as I'm journaling, I'm also thinking, "Hey, I didn't know I felt this way until RIGHT NOW." And if I feel like anybody else might get encouragement from knowing they're not the only one who feels that way, I share it in here :)
    As for the kindred spirit thing, let's hope God loves the world too much to make TOO many copies of us, girl! LMAO!!!
  • Valerie
    by Valerie 3 years ago
    I shared your blog with my fiancé's mom and she said what I was thinking, you need to write professionally...So well written
  • Liz
    by Liz 3 years ago
    Jo - I just joined this morning and just read your post. I'm sitting here crying because everything you said is so true and exactly what I feel. Thank you for being so truthful and encouraging. I just hit a roadblock but I'm glad to hear there is support and encouragement.
  • TysHeart
    by TysHeart 3 years ago
    I just joined as I am feeling very overwhelmed and stressed. It was very encouraging to read your blog. Thank you
  • Sweet T
    by Sweet T 3 years ago
    Felt like you were saying everything I've been feeling. It's not fair this life, we chose it but that doesn't make it easier. I'm tired, frustrated, impatient and angry lately.
  • Flora
    by Flora 3 years ago
    Thank you Jo for saying it ALL, for being real, and letting us know that we are not alone and the only one thinking the same exact thoughts, and feeling those same feelings. I cried when I read your post. You nailed it! And I'm new at this too. Thank you!
  • cris
    by cris 3 years ago
    I always love reading your posts. My journey has just begun, and I already feel like I'm going through half of those emotions. This made me cry, shaking my head saying " yup" laugh, especially the schizophrenia comment. I always think ppl are talking about me cuz of the talks I have with God. I will use the " vent" code word! Good job, keep writing blogs plz;-)
  • NoviosQueeny
    by NoviosQueeny 3 years ago
    Wow. Thanks I'm just getting my feet wet. It's very overwhelming. This helped.
  • Tsq0527
    by Tsq0527 2 years ago
    Thank you! I am just found this site. It's like you took the thoughts and words right out of my head. Thank you and God bless.
  • CombatVetBride
    by CombatVetBride 1 year ago
    Turning off my phone always makes me too nervous but I know EXACTLY what you mean and how you were feeling. ((hug))
  • Island Girl
    by Island Girl 1 year ago
    I am so grateful to have read this!! To say that you were on point on everything would be an understatement!! Thank you for writing & sharing this:) Keeping the Faith<3
  • Admin Lisa
    by Admin Lisa 1 year ago
    Wow I just read this what I have thought you had put in words.
  • chula
    by chula 1 year ago
    great read!!! loved it your an amazing writer
  • JkmAtz
    by JkmAtz 1 year ago
    Thanks for sharing. I feel the same a lot but I usually think about going to a cave in the forest instead of a deserted island. It's helpful to hear I'm not the only one that has these questions/ doubts/ thoughts.
  • Future Mrs. Washington
    by Future Mrs. Washington 8 months ago
    Like button
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