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The Story of a "Prison Wife"

A Tale of True Love

By Sarah TotoPublished 7 years ago 4 min read
Top Story - August 2017
"I won't let you fall"

In the photo above, what do you see? Some would see it as a couple overcoming a task together. Perhaps she couldn't quite make the climb on the rock so she's looking to her partner for support. She has his support as he pulls her up but, if she slips, she could land up bringing them both down. This, like anything in life that involves 2 people requires trust, especially in a relationship. But what if your relationship isn't like anyone else's? Say, for instance, your significant other is incarcerated?

Relationships, where one partner is incarcerated, are always difficult before you even bring the matters of trust and communication into play. However, both play key roles that are more prevalent than ever. Communication comes in the form of letters, postcards, pictures, or even a one time per week 15-minute phone call that never seems long enough when the "One-minute warning" serves as a cold reminder that it will feel like forever before they call again. So trying to get in everything you want to say is sometimes not possible.

More often than not, our loved ones behind the stone and razor wire are often left with the feeling of helplessness because as bad as they want to be home, they know that it's a debt to society that is being paid because of choices they made. And while the letters and phone calls mean a lot, it's nothing compared to being together. While your loved one is on the "inside" they are relying on you to describe everything that is going on in the outside world in detail and it is up to you, the one that is at home, to make sure that picture stays a very real image in a world of grey and darkness. You also have to "hold the fort" financially and if you have children with your mate, be both Mom and Dad for as long as your loved one is away.

As a prison wife for just shy of 21 years myself, I understand this fully because a few weeks ago, I almost hung myself with the proverbial trust rope that my husband has always graciously extended to me, even in moments when it was against his better judgement. Our relationship hasn't been the most ideal since it began as a pen pal friendship.

I was 16 and I was getting into trouble after school because of a search to keep myself from being swallowed by depression in the midst of a family crisis. I managed to struggle through the remainder of my Freshman year before the real trouble started of hanging with the wrong people, cutting class, talking back. Just stupid mistakes that teenagers make when left to their own devices and hell bent on showing independence. It wasn't until one of those mistakes landed me being in very clear danger that my parents confronted me and I was given a choice of therapy or the juvenile court system jail. Even as angry as I was, jail was not going to be an option. So I chose therapy.

After I got home, my brother who was in jail at the time told me that he was going to give me something to do after my homework was done. A few days later, I got the first letter from the man who is my husband today. He was 19 and he was lonely as his family didn't live in state. At first, Mom and Dad were apprehensive but they agreed to let me visit just one time. Once my brother and my husband came down to visiting... that was all she wrote of the 'one and done' rule. We visited with them both running back and forth from stall to stall. The visiting staff enjoyed watching because it brought smiles to everyone. Mom and Dad would alternate who signed up to see who and was my charge that day. Visits went on like this for months.

It was the fall of 1998, my junior year of high school, was eventful when his mother and sister came into town for his trial. For the better part of 2 weeks, our family sat and watched the horrible things he was accused of paraded around us. When hubby's sentencing came, I thought it was truly the end of my world. Because from a teenager's viewpoint of what love is; He was everything.

Now, fast forwarding through history; throughout the 21 years, even if we weren't together because he would want me to experience life and felt like he was holding me back. But something inside of me, knew that he was the one I wanted. It's too bad that it took me a failed first marriage and countless meaningless relationships to figure it out and then when I come so close to losing him completely, that I woke up and realized that I could never love anyone the way that I love him.

And I have never been happier!


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    Sarah TotoWritten by Sarah Toto

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