So I think you get the picture of what life is like in prison – boring. Plain, simple and boring – and you can get terrible contact dermatitis from the excessively strong chemicals used to clean everything. But what’s life like as you come towards the end of your sentence, specifically what’s life like for both parties (if your other half has stuck by you).
I think I might have said it before – it doesn’t get easier – and it doesn’t, after 11 months, we still had tears today as I slammed the back door, railing at my husband for incorrectly shutting it. We got over that one quickly, but it’s an example of the tension going on. The tables have turned. My husband was never off the bl**ding Blackberry, always being called by his very forgetful colleague who would go over the same story several times a day. Time off and weekends were regularly interrupted because “I’ve just got to make this call…”, “I’ve just got to respond to this email” and now I find myself collecting my husband and saying the same thing back to him. On Friday, my head was spinning after a particularly stressful event where I got blamed for the ruination of someone’s overseas holiday because something had gone wrong with her i-Phone – this was ALL MY FAULT! I’m not the sort of person to walk out one day saying “sorry, I’m on holiday for the next three days”. I stew over work, it’s important that I do a good job – like my husband – we find it difficult to switch off. So the first day I couldn’t take anything in, couldn’t relax. Saturday was good, I officially don’t work at the weekend, so no-one could contact me, Sunday lovely. Monday, well, he’s going Tuesday so mentally I was already saying goodbye.
It’s the same when you work and take a well earned week off. You spend the first couple of days getting there, stressing over little stuff, the next couple of days are lovely, then you start getting anxious about going home, then you’re back at work! 4.5 days at home with your loved one goes in a nano-second, especially when one of you blows it by being in a strop because the other one is about to go again. Grrr, I could kick myself.
But seriously, rant over, it is strained mentally, difficult emotionally. Husband has made that transition now from “doing time” to “coming towards the end”. He returns after his home leave not willingly, to continue his sentence, but because he has to and wonders what he’s still doing there. Enough time has passed for him to have contemplated his misdemeanours and to want to start helping me build for our future. The point is now lost, enough has been repaid to the victim in terms of both time and money. This is when many a prisoner thinks “enough is enough” and absconds. I seriously wanted to hold on to Mike today and tell him not to go back. I need him home with me helping to sort out our life, I’m fed up with carrying the can on my own. When you think about it, a lot of women in my situation may well have not been working when their husbands went away, they may have children. Suddenly they have to take control, they are the decision makers, they have to get jobs and keep everything together. Husband comes home from a life of enforced indolence (yes, we’ve already discussed that) and the wife is none too pleased by the change in attitude. I have a different routine and it takes a strong couple to work through that. I’m in such a privileged position where I have an understanding boss who is allowing my 20 days a year to be taken piecemeal so I am at home when Mike is on home leave – I can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise. Some prisoners do not bother with the home leave feeling it is too much of a disruption (to both parties) to be worthwhile.
So as he comes towards the final two months of his imprisonment, has our tax payer’s pennies been well spent – I’m afraid to say I think neither of us believe this. You’ve not been safer in your beds because my white collar criminal husband has been locked up. And the gross employment of prison officers to guard him and his ilk is a total waste of money. He should have received a suspended sentence, should have been tagged from the word go. We almost succeeded in turning a workaholic into a lounging, swearing, smoking bum – but not quite. Mike is desperate to get out and to get working. I am desperate for him to get out so I don’t have to keep taking odd day’s off!
Life on the way out of prison for your “average” white collar criminal is just as difficult as it is going in to prison. But maybe I’m a hard taskmaster!