How to love a prisoner. Part 3

Self-care for #LoopyWarriors.

My previous blog was all about supporting your man through lockdown. The attention was solely focused on his wants and needs. Is that sexist? Does it fly in the face of equality? Not at all, it’s expressing love, care and compassion for the man you love while he is forced to endure a living hell. Why did I chose to make your man the priority? Because life is a hell of a lot easier to deal with when you know your man is ok.

This blog is focused purely on the needs of #LoopyWarriors.

I’ve looked into what the experts say about ‘self-care’ and they pretty much all provide the same advice.

You know you should ‘self-care‘, you know how important it is, but most of the time you haven’t got the time, money or energy to invest in everything the experts recommend. It’s much like being told we should exercise every day and only eat vegetables – we just end up beating ourselves up for not doing what is best for us.

Don’t even start with the guilt – you’re being amazing and you’re keeping it together in the most challenging and heartbreaking of circumstances.

You are #LoopyWarriors.

There are a huge variety of ‘self-care’ apps available online.

Prior to the introduction of ‘self-care’, the advice was to take care of yourself, look after yourself, give yourself a break or make some time for yourself.

Call it what the hell you like – it really doesn’t matter what you do to cope and reduce stress and anxiety. If it works for you, then crack on.

Creative Writing

Don’t even think about saying you’re not creative or you’re rubbish at writing – you’re a creative writer already. No, I’m not saying “You’re a poet and you don’t know it.”

Every message, every post on social media and every email you send is creative writing. It really doesn’t matter if you can knock out sonnets like Shakespeare or prefer abbreviations and emojis. Nobody else is going to read it. This is for you and nobody else.

So, get over yourself and at least give it a go before you say you don’t like it and you can’t do it.

Have a go at poetry. Write a loving, romantic poem about him, your relationship and the love you have for him. It goes without saying, that I’d ditch the romance and write funny, rude or silly poems.

You may want to buy a fancy pants new pen and a special notebook or just use your phone, tablet or PC to express yourself or share your feelings on social media.

Apps are also available for creative writing.

Happy Book

Your Happy Book is where you can go when you need reminding that HE is worth it, life isn’t all bad and you are coping really well. A private and personal place where you can capture all the happy, positive times and your favourite memories. It doesn’t need to involve creating long lists of the day’s highlights or every previous moment, unless, of course, you want to.

There are no rules to say that you have to write in your Happy Book every day and there’s nothing to say you can’t go back in time and write about your first date or the best night out or the most memorable birthday. Just write about whatever you want – great phone calls, video calls and visits. The victory of losing 6lbs, giving up smoking, clearing out the airing cupboard, the kids’ going to bed on time or even the houseplant that you kept alive for more than 4 days.

There are apps for this too, but I think they are referred to as journals.

Lose your shit

If you find writing about the negative useful, do that instead or in addition to your Happy Book. It’s a great way to lose the shit in your head. You might even get a decent night’s sleep for once.

If you want to help keep him out of jail, write about all the negative experiences while he’s away. The stuff you don’t discuss on the ‘phone for fear of upsetting him and making him feel bad or angry.

This is the stuff he needs to read to fully understand what life is like for you on this side of the wall.

Write about your struggles to make ends meet and make sure he knows about the sacrifices you make to have enough to money to put into his private account, send him money, emails, post letters, visit him and keep him clothed in designer trainers and tracksuits.

Write about the grief you get from your family and friends and going six weeks without a washing machine because you couldn’t afford the repairs. Everything that wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t behind the door.

Yep, guilt trip him into changing his ways. But, don’t hit him with a list as soon as he walks out of the gate, that is never going to end well. You’ll know when the time is right. If he’s not interested in reading it, just leave it lying around and wait for him to poke his nose in!

You can probably find an app for successful guilt tripping.

Write him a letter that you’ll never send, just get all your thoughts and feelings about him out of your head. Once you’ve finished you can burn the letter in an empty kitchen sink, (H&S) rip it up into the tiniest pieces possible or just put it to one side for your next pity party.

Of course there are apps for this!

You can always lose your shit in the traditional way of throwing yourself to the ground and having a full blown tantrum. Please make sure you’re home alone on a carpeted floor and bare in mind that being sectioned is just not a good look. Not forgetting that we’re fast approaching the 2020 Cancelled Christmas.

There’s a gap in the market for apps to record tantrums!

Outcast

Look to your friends and family for support and there’s a good chance that they haven’t been in your shoes, haven’t got a clue what you’re going through, what you’re feeling or the type of support you need.

They might even seize the opportunity to confront you with the same words they say every single time you get upset …

“Don’t know why you put yourself through it … You’d be better off without him…… You haven’t even seen him for seven months, you might as well finish it now.”

Bless their cotton socks and their good intentions. But really?? How is that going to make you feel better? Cheer you up? Feel loved and supported?

Not a chance – you just end up feeling rejected and even more alone. Cheers for that, Fam!

There are no apps for such pointless advice.

You are not alone

Hate to say it, but the reality is you will stay alone until you connect with others. No Fairy Godmother is going to knock on your door and support you through this. The best support you can find is other #LoopyWarriors who feel like you, think like you, worry like you, cry like you and they lose their shit from time to time, just like you.

There are plenty of organisations doing incredible work to support and advise loved ones, but sometimes you just need to be with #LoopyWarriors who get it and are going through the same pain.

There are no apps, it’s down to you to put the effort in.

Fear not, you can find a safe space on social media with likeminded #LoopyWarriors. Do not feel that you have to share your story, bare your soul or pour your heart out. You have my word, once you have read a ton of posts from #LoopyWarriors you will breath a huge sigh of relief to find you’re not alone. You don’t have to post a single word or contribute to any thread unless you want to. It took more than a year for me to find my voice on social media and now there’s no shutting me up!

On Facebook you will find a never ending list of private groups. There are groups where the main topic of conversation is what can be worn on a visit, there are debating groups, political groups, nasty groups and lovely groups. Join all the groups until you find the right fit for you and ditch the groups that have nothing to offer you.

Maybe I should set up a Facebook Group for #LoopyWarriors so we can have fun and laugh at our men, our prisons and ourselves.

Each prison has their own Twitter account to share updates news and achievements. Don’t think for a minute that a Screw has been deployed to maintain a permanent presence on Twitter. Don’t make the mistake of assuming they have a direct line to the Governing Governor of all Governors and the Ministry of Injustice. Their only purpose is to share information and that is all.

If you complain to a prison’s Twitter account do not be surprised if you receive a standard response, because that’s all they can give you. They have absolutely no power to make changes. Kicking off at them is pointless and nobody benefits. It’s as effective as kicking off at the supermarket checkout because you don’t like the new store layout!

Talking of kicking off. Imagine how you would react if that same Twitter account blatantly slagged off someone in prison, somebody’s loved one being named and shamed. Now imagine how they react when you attack them and their colleagues.

There’s always a chance that your loved one will be the beneficiary of any repercussions. Go kick off in a private group. If you want action, send a polite e-mail to your local MP and encourage everyone you know to do the same.

Please follow me @hecallsmekeef

Let’s Tweet with the hashtag #LoopyWarriors to make it easier for others to find our Loopy family!

Instagram is the place for positive, inspiring, inspirational quotes. Share the love with other #LoopyWarriors by posting them on other social media platforms.

There are countless accounts for Prisoners’ Wives you can follow and although many are from the States; what they are going through and what they are feeling is exactly the same as you. Actually, prisons in other countries often have much tougher conditions than our own prisons. So, there’s that.

You can follow me @loopywarrior

Warning – I post rude and inappropriate jokes that aren’t for Twitter!

Use the hashtag #LoopyWarriors and it will be easier for others to find our Loopy family.

He can’t stop you

In any relationship there will always be compromises to make sure the man-child gets exactly what he wants. What you eat, watch on tv, where you go and what you do.

Forget all that. Now is the time to do exactly what YOU want and you really should take full advantage.

David doesn’t like the look, smell or taste of fish. If I was on my own I’d stuff my face with smoked salmon, prawns, cockles and sea bass. I can’t even remember what they look like now! I can assure you that I wouldn’t be serving mashed potato, gravy and a stack of white bread with every meal.

I would watch ALL the soaps, as many chick flicks as I want and anything involving George Michael. I wouldn’t have to endure watching hours and hours of the history of organised crime and the Mafia. Having said that, I’d happily watch Casino, Goodfellas and anything else featuring De Niro and Ray Liotta. I would watch prison documentaries without the running commentary.

Believe me, I’d be booking the (fkg waste of money) VIP seats at the cinema before he’d even made it to the Sweat Box.

You get the picture.

If it makes you happy

How the hell do I know what makes you happy? We’ve never even met. What do you want from me? A list of 27 ways to make you happy? No chance, we’re all different and we all find our own happiness in different ways. This is on you.

My only suggestion is to make a list of ten things that make you happy. It really doesn’t matter what is on your list or whether you’ll get five minutes of happiness from galloping around the house waving your knickers in the air, or five hours bliss from choosing which house you’d buy on Right Move if you won the lottery. Just make that list and chose one thing to make you happy every day.

I wonder if there is an app for happy lists too!

As always, I’ve reviewed all the expert advice, ignored it and tailored it to meet the needs of #LoopyWarriors. I am not dismissing ‘self-care’ at all, so if you want to know more, ask the Googles or download an app.

There are no right or wrong ways of looking after yourself, there are just different ways. Find out what works for you and do that. You can also try something new and different to find out what doesn’t work for you.

My key message and only message is take care of yourself and do what makes you happy.

Don’t ever forget – you are a #loopywarrior, you are strong, determined, unbeatable and will never give up. You can do this.

This is the awkward bit, so I am taking this shameless opportunity to remind you of my previous blog about people who have been to prison working unpaid. And by that I mean David.

Buying a £3.00 coffee actually makes a real difference to us. Not only because we are grateful for, and motivated by your support, it will make a real difference to our bank account!

Please click on the poor, desperate children with mullets and leave a tip. It’s good Karma!

Thank you for your support.

Take care of yourself.

Best wishes

Keef x

One thought on “How to love a prisoner. Part 3

  1. Each and every one of your posts I am sure speaks for the experiences of so many, and the importance of families sticking together on Social Media and in person is vital. There are too many judgemental “Saints” who sneer who try and put people down. They must be resisted. And the idea of people keeping records of their feelings is excellent, get it out of your head and onto paper! And one day they could be published so that in years to come the world can read them and be appalled at the way the system today deals with those in prison in the way we are horrified at the views of the Victorians!

    Like

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