Victim or Survivor?
Post by: SPW Contributing Author, Kaye
After meeting and talking to women in relationships/marriages with men in prison from a variety of places, what stands out in a majority of those I have been fortunate enough to converse with is that they take on one of two personas…either victim or survivor. To me, that seems so black in white in a world with many shades of gray (no pun intended) in between.
The Victim Mentality
I can’t help but bring up choices here again. We choose how we see ourselves. I’ll admit that I wavered between the victim and survivor mentality myself at first, but I realized I did not have to be a victim of my fiancé’s incarceration. I could choose to be a survivor, we both could.
Why do some choose to see themselves as victims, while others see themselves as survivors? In those that I have conversed with that chose the victim mentality, and even me at first, it seemed that we felt as if we were being punished by our significant other’s prison sentence. After all, we are essentially in our own prison, just on the outside. Many prison wives or those with various types of relationships with men in prison are often isolated, whether of our own choosing because people don’t understand, or because we are ostracized for our decision to “stand by our man”. We no longer feel as if we “fit in” to what is considered to be “normal” society. We don’t feel as if we can speak freely about our relationships because others don’t understand, and why talk about it if no one can understand? We may also feel slighted at times because we are the ones out here doing all the work, keeping the family together, paying bills, and trying to make sure there is money on his “books”, the phone system, and for trips to the facility he resides in for visitation. We need help and he isn’t here to help us, people don’t understand us or our choices, society for the most part ostracizes us, therefore we feel victimized.
I’m a Survivor!
I have always tried to be a strong person. Other people seem to think I am much stronger than I feel at times. Sometimes I really wish I could see that! Well it took getting fed up with seeing myself as a victim to decide I was going to be a survivor instead. I will admit there are times, especially when things get rough financially, that I start to lean towards feeling like a victim again. However, I refuse to be a victim! I have to be strong and be a survivor for a number of reasons, most of all for him, and for our family, but for me as well. He needs to see that I am there for him no matter what, and I want him to see that because I am! He needs to know that we are going to make it through this together, because we are! Our children need to see that nothing can destroy true love as long as you remain positive. My dad always told me “Nothing worthwhile is ever easy”, and he was right. A survivor looks into the future, to all that lies ahead, where a victim lives in limbo, a sort of purgatory if you will, neither heaven, nor hell, but somewhere in between. When you consider the fact that society, some family, and some friends actually expect us to fail, I choose, WE choose, to not only survive, but to thrive! We can do this, and we will! The road ahead of us may have a few potholes, but if the road gets too bad along the way, we know that together we are strong enough to forge ahead to live the life we have dreamed of together, even if it means blazing our own trail.
It’s Your Choice
Each of us has the opportunity to choose whether or not we see ourselves as a victim or live the life of a survivor. I choose to be a survivor; WE choose to survive this together! It is understandable that there are going to be both good days and bad, and we are just like everyone else, we have both, and when we chose to forge ahead with this relationship, we were well aware of that, even if neither of us understood how difficult it can be at times. We just have to remind ourselves that difficult is not impossible! While we have been fortunate enough that the good days have outweighed the bad, we have at least learned a great appreciation for the good, and our ability to communicate with each other during both good times and bad. Each day we learn the importance of the choices we make, and we learn from our not so great ones. One thing I have learned for sure, is that the best and most wonderful choice I have made in a long time, was choosing to be first his girlfriend, then his fiancé, and soon to be his wife. I couldn’t have asked for a better man to spend the rest of my days with, regardless of what the rest of the world thinks! I am proud of him and the love I have for him. Even if I am not ecstatically happy with where he is right now or how he got there, I am happy with him and our relationship with each other, and we will make it through all of this.
If you are here, you’ve made a choice that most people are not strong enough to make. You have taken on a life that most could not handle beyond a couple of months. You are stronger than you think, we all are. Sure we have days that emotions overwhelm us and we may even wonder how or why we got ourselves into a situation like this. If you had asked me a little over a year ago if I would find myself where I am right now, in a relationship with a man in prison, putting money on his books, or visiting him in a prison facility, not only would I have laughed at you, I would have told you that you had lost your ever loving mind! However, life has a way of happening, and the universe has a way of intervening, and here I am, with a man in prison, who makes me happier and feel more loved than I ever thought possible. Regardless of the why or the how, we are here, and I don’t know about you, but I choose to remain here, in a relationship with my one and only true and forever love, until I take my last breath and beyond. It’s all about choice, and I choose to be a survivor, a wife, a mother, a step-mother, and a positive and bright light in the dim world he is forced to live in for the next couple of years. Like I keep telling him…Our future’s so bright, we’re gonna have to wear shades! How about you? What do you choose? Are you going to see yourself as a victim or a survivor?