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Family, Healing, Intimate Relationships, Marriage, Prisons

Teresa’s Story: Love, Marriage, and Incarceration

My husband and I were together for seventeen years, there were always issues, as all couples face, especially that we started our relationship at a very young age. However, I believe that the irreversible things started occurring when my then boyfriend got arrested while I was six months pregnant of our son. I had no idea what I was facing, I remember telling him to “take the ten years, I will wait for you.” Thank god he didn’t take it. We didn’t know it, but that moment was the beginning of our end together.

Our son was born and I did it without him, and it took years to shuffle through the pain that it caused me. Soon after him and I got married at Rikers Island on 3/13/02. It was not my ideal wedding but he was my ideal man, even while facing so much time.

It finally came time for them to send him upstate, I never said anything but the thought of him being so far away from us scared me and worried me, he on the other hand, kept saying upstate is better for us. Maybe it was better for him, but it was not better for me. Long story short, raising my son alone became a burden, and I began to resent him. I went from saying they stole him from us to he left us here alone without money.

Visits were so expensive, collect calls put me in debt and to make matters worse he would sometimes ask me to mail him things or bring things up when I visited. I began hating him for how my life turned out. I got sick of going upstate and being searched to the point that they would tell me to remove my bra and touch me. They would even search our son’s pamper and his pockets and even make him walk through the medal detectors. It was horrible and I felt ashamed of him, our situation and what we were going through. I kept telling myself our son is growing up and he was missing everything. So I made a conscious decision without even discussing it with my husband to never visit him again.

I felt broken and defeated and I could not focus one minute on the pain he was going through. I remember the last time I went to visit him, some white CO was being so nice to me and I thought to myself, that’s nice of him, but when I got home my husband had a story to tell. He told me the same CO was nasty to him and told him if he ever saw him touching a woman again on the visit he will live to regret it, I was so disgusted! I guess my husband was venting but for me his story was confirmation that I needed to stay away from this dreadful place.

It was three years before my husband ever saw me again, he always asked me to come and sometimes I would try but it never happened. Until one day I decided I needed to go visit him to see what was left between us. I left feeling guilty and confused as to why he still loved me, so from that point on I promised to make us work, but I had no idea so much damage had already occurred.

A few months later, he was released from prison and although I should have been happy, I wasn’t. It had been years and I didn’t even know him anymore, all I knew was that I was choosing to love him and keeping my promise. That feeling of trying to catch up, still sits in my heart even after six years of him being home. I felt he owed me for leaving us. He felt I owed him for leaving him and at the end it killed us. I chose to love him, but I failed to realize how much his arrest hurt us. Watching his relationship with our son only angered me more, it was though he knew nothing about our son and my son knew nothing about him. We let the pain consume us and soon the love was gone.

A very sad ending to my story, is my husband and I didn’t realize what we had, we didn’t know how lucky we were to have each other, so many of our arguments were not even worth it. Thinking about it now, makes me want to scream. We took each other for granted and completely forgot about our promise to stay committed. We were consumed (or at least I was) on the world’s view of a happy/loving marriage. Our idea of a “healthy” relationship was based on our personal happiness, rather than always doing what was best for the both of us.

Love is for better or worse, when you choose not to love, you have given in and given up and ultimately it’s a decision you will regret. Take it from a wife of eleven years who’s marriage ended in separation…all of his imperfections that I hated most and complained about daily, are now the things I miss the most….go figure!

It is only now, seven months after he moved out that I see I was blaming him for something that was not his fault, he was targeted by the system. He was stolen from us and the ending of our marriage only proves that they won and the torture we endured was a vicious plot against us.

Don’t be blinded by your pain….choose love instead but most importantly stay constant during the storm.


About Spread Mass LOVE

A dialogue, a movement, a commitment to radical love in the era of mass incarceration


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