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Sadness,grief and regret over sons incarceration

July
Community Member

Hi, I am new to this but  need to talk to someone, anyone, I am a mother of 4 children , three adults ages 25, 29,32 and a 10 year old son from from second marriage. My eldest son was convicted of  a crime and is now in prison,he is 32 and the whole experience has devastated me , sitting through the trial I cried the whole two days everyone was looking at me  obviously knowing I was the mother ,then his sentencing was a day I shall never forget I had to write a letter to the judge about my son, about his drug use, about his father not being in his life since we divorced and his downfall, I also wrote about  how I loved him would stand by him, I'm sorry I failed him  and he turned to drugs too take away his pain, but underneath all that was a wonderful creative boy who just took a wrong turn, the judge  starting reading my letter word for word out to the court room, I looked at my beautiful boy and there were tears running down his face, I think he finally realised what he has done not only to himself but to me as his mother, that image is burned into my memory ,for once in my life I could not protect my child and it killed me, his sentence was given and they took him away, he will be released about september. I cannot tell  anyone and the stress is unbearable,I have to lie to people to excuse his absence , he is clean and sober now and has turned this life around he is doing all the courses to correct his life while in prison and is deeply regretful of his choices, I do not excuse his behaviour  but I am his mother and I have to stand by him, I look at all the other families visiting in prison and it is so sad it affects the whole family. This is the first time I have said this out aloud it is so hard to live with this "secret",I just don't know how to live with this.

556 Replies 556

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi July.  welcome to beyond blue.

I', an ex RAAF, ex Pentridge prison officer (1978-1981 long time ago), ex private investigator and ex security guard. I know a bit about jail and crime.

With nearly everything in life there can be positives. For whatever reason your son went off the rails....dont we all? just some of us dont go off so far to result in jail. While I was reading your post I expected you to tell us that your son's sentence would be several years...then you said he'll be out around September. Just the right amount of time for him to realise fully his lessen, enough time to consolidate his education courses and just enough time for him to value his post prison life.

After a couple of weeks, maybe less, he would settle into his environment. He would learn to be aware of other prisoners, learn to keep his mouth shut and learn to obey officers directions while not showing that in an obvious manner to appear too eager by other prisoners. He time in jail isnt a concern for me as an adviser to you....its after he is released.

When he is released try to make sure he doesnt continue any relationship with any prisoner he befriended while in jail....it can only lead to future issues. To do this encourage a "clean slate" approach eg "I'm going to be proud of you John because together, our family will make sure, as a team that you start a clean slate and we put this jail time behind us....I'm determined to make that happen...so John, are you going to help us do this?"  There are ways to talk to a grown man, even your son (more on that soon) to get the best from him.

I'm rather proud of you and that letter to the judge. It impacted on your son. He hurt you more than he could imagine. But remember - drugs are involved. And they have grabbed your sons inner soul and potentially destroyed his life. We know drugs with some people with wind them in more than others.

In the meantime dont despair July. You didnt fail him, he failed himself and his family. Your forgiveness of his actions is very important and his determination to go "straight" will be tested upon release.

During my time as a prison officer I can reveal...some prisoners I'd trust my life with, some not, some officers I'd trust my life with, some never!. I was only 21yo when I began that career and I learned that evil people come in all varieties of clothing.

Some time ago I wrote an article here called "Talking to men- some tips"  Use search to find it.

Good luck and think positive.It isnt that bad.

Tony wk

Hi Tony, Thankyou so much for your reply, I started crying as soon as I saw your reply, just to have someone hear me ,I felt relief, and you, of all people would understand .My son has already been in prison for 11 months and has always been very respectful to all the guards and officers and he said some of the older guards have spoken to him about his future and have been like father figures to him, I think thats made him feel better ,his security rating went down to minimum within 6 months due to his behaviour and cooperation,  to be honest, sometimes I feel prison has saved his life, because he has hit rock bottom and has seen what a good life you can have if you try. I have always told him that is your past life and now you cannot associate with anyone  from your  past, as they will bring you down, and where are these so called "friends"now ,not one has been to see him or made any  contact so that proves who really cares about you and your wellbeing, and he always tells me he wants nothing to do with anyone in that drug lifestyle as it only causes pain for you and your family, apart from the divorce he had a good home life and finished year 12 at a good school, it was when he finished school he began to associate with that lifestyle .

I tell him it his second chance at life and he needs to respect that , he tells me about prison and it scares me, he keeps a low profile and does was he is told,  and keeps to himself, I think this has really impacted on him and he never wants to go through it again and nor do I, it has really opened my eyes going into the prison to see him I think the discipline is good for him, thats what he needs, and he has never had a problem with anyone in there.You can't imagine how good this feels to talk to someone who can relate,thank you .

Neil_1
Community Member

Hi there July

 

It’s great that Tony has come along to respond to you with his wealth of knowledge and past experience.

 

I’m just stopping by to say “hello” to you (as I’ve got no experience in this kind of thing at all) but just wanted to say, that (a) I’m very sure you were so pleased to read Tony’s response to you, but also (b) that I hope by coming here and “unloading” it has kind of helped you in a way.  To kind of get things off your chest and to write about this situation.   As you say, with most others that you know, the ‘secret’ is in operation.   Perhaps he’s taken some time to go overseas to travel?  Or has gone interstate searching for work??   I’m sure you’ve got that all sorted now, and so the others don’t need to know a thing.

 

It is good to hear that he hasn’t encountered any problems while in there and I’m really sure, as you say, that this will have impacted on him massively and that the discipline he has no doubt received will serve him well once he’s out.

 

I do hope that you’re managing as best as you can over this time and that you’re keeping occupied as well as you can also.  I know it’s very easy for me to write this but the actual act of putting it into action, I imagine would be such a tough task for you.

 

The last thing I wanted to say was that we are always here and so if you’ve got other things or more things that you’d like to write, then please do so – as long as you feel ok to do so.

 

Kind regards

 

Neil

July
Community Member

Hi Neil, 

Thankyou for your reply,my situation is uncommon and I because of it, I feel the need to not tell anyone in my life, because of fear, prejudice and judgement and to protect my son when he gets out ,as I do not want people to label him over one mistake which he is paying for.

I have had a bad situation at work as well just after the time my son was incarcerated and that was very stressful as it was a betrayal of a "friend" Ive known for over 5 years ,she knew nothing about my son, although I told her I had some major family problems, so I had to take time off work as I couldn't face work and I was always on the verge of tears and the stress and tension was to much, and I work in a very stressful environment to begin with, something has to give and I couldn't tell anyone at work so it just all got to much.

I have no family support at all and that makes it hard, I don't tell friends because I am worried about their reaction, so you go along pretending everything's ok when underneath it all you can hardly breathe.

But on here I feel at least I can talk and  get some stress released.

Thank you hope to hear from you soon

July

 

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi July,

We live with stigma everyday. Worried others will find out about our Mental illness. Then again some here announce it easily and have a "too bad" view about it. As if their illness is a part of them and take it or leave it.

In the same way you have decided to approach this incarceration of your son as a bad stigma for you, for him or for both of you.. Yet there are many people sent to jail. And this stress is raised by you "telling fibs" about your sons current location. This is because its hurtful all round.

I'm wondering if this is putting more strain on you, keeping it a secret. As I said in my forst post- it isnt that bad. He gets to learn what he couldnt learn i.e. that if you continues on the path of drugs and drug related crime he will go to jail and until he learns that or it sinks in, he will go there. It is several months of compulsory learning of lessens.

We have carers here. People that care for their loved ones that have mental illness. They read here and write here. When their mentally ill partner or child refuses help from the carer the carer tries all sorts of methods to "lead that horse to water"....but as we advise them eventually..."you cant make them drink".

Once you have accepted you cannot change his sentence then its time you cared for yourself. Look after your own mental well being, your work and your life. Focus on this as your number one priority. This focus is the best thing you can do for your son.

So essentially July, start looking at yourself now. Your son, and your other children need you in good health. Your son in jail needs things when he is released. And what are the most important things he needs when that day comes?

Accommodation, food, care, stability, friendship, your ears and a mum that is composed, relaxed, one that wont smother and a mum that will be mentally well.

This should be your focus. And as you are a caring and wonderful mum, you can get through this by caring for yourself as your priority.

As my friend Neil said. We are here for you

Tony WK

Hi Tony,

I just had this conversation last night with my husband, and I know you are right about looking after myself, I have had that struggle because I have always had to look after someone else, as I became pregnant with my eldest son at just 19 and I have had no "free" life as such , my commitment to others started early, and I find it difficult to let go and relax, I think to because my childhood was very dysfunctional, I over compensate with my children because I don't want them to feel as I did, my mothering goes overboard because my mother was an abusive alcoholic and did not show any compassion or love to me.

I am going to attend counselling to sort through this, I want to feel happy again as you said, I need to support my son through his release , he will be coming home to live with us until he is settled and self sufficient .

Some days I just want to run away from everyone and everything  but I know I can't cause I have to many people relying on me, and your parents are supposed to be someone you can always trust to  be there for you know matter what, although I never had that.

Its a hard process to accept but time will tell and I know it will get better eventually,its just the here and now thats hard .

Thanks

July

Neil_1
Community Member

Hi there July

 

It was great to hear back from you.

 

Yes, things can become all too much when we take on different issues and if there becomes too many, it can have bad repercussions for us.  The ability to cope and deal with things, so while you are in a stressful job environment, I do hope that you are able to get some kind of respite during your work – a bit of downtime so it doesn’t become too much for you.

 

But yes, bad situations (no matter where they happen) are never good – and somehow they are made worse, if it’s caused by someone who we thought was a ‘friend’, that somehow makes it worse, I think.

 

That does please me to read that you feel good about coming here and posting – it can be a very good way to release tension and anxiety and I hope that you find that you’re able to continue to do this for as long as you feel you would like too.

 

Kind regards

 

Neil

July
Community Member

Hi Neil,

Its funny I am not one to really spend time on a computer but since joining this I find myself looking froward to my posts and responses,  like its my lifeline at the moment, and the words of wisdom from others who are not directly involved are of comfort, I must admit I was scared at first wondering what people would say, but you can't judge until you have walked in those shoes, and I never expected to be in this position.

Its hard to ask for help sometimes, to admit you can't cope or things are getting on top of you, its like the world is moving around you , and you are  standing still ,frozen in that sadness and heartache.

Your head and heart  in a conflict against each other for some peace and answers which I'm hoping to find.

Thankyou

 

July

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi July,

So glad you are benefitting here. Yes, over compensating is common and you are normal there in terms of your motherhood compared to your own mother.

I'm happy you are seeking counselling. It's not so bad eh. We all need a stronger rudder at times to overcome the issues that overtake us.

There is a lot of pain out in society July. Pain such as your is not unlike a parent losing a child through death or separation. Dads often lose their children through mind poisoning or the mother moving away (and in reverse)

And in my life nothing can compare with my youngest daughter's comment when she rang me at age 13 "I dont want to see you anymore". I then held onto hope for 7 years before I said enough is enough. That daughter has only one way to see me, at my home and alone. If she cares enough one day she'll come. This daughter has been brainwashed by her mother, vengence from my older daughter coming to live with me at 12yo. I paid child support for 14 years with not one late payment plus a one off payment of $14,000 to pay for my daughters jaw alignment and teeth.

The pain lingers but you have to accept and get on with life. What I have seen here in you is a mother totally devoted to her son and other children. What a mum!!!It would be surprising how much pain is out there that we dont think is there.

Tony   WK