by Anonymous, VSPW
All names in this article have been changed to protect the identities of those involved.
While inside, we need to fight within ourselves to stay together. I tell my story to uplift other incarcerated mothers, and to reach my son. This goes out to you, my beloved.
I lost Peter, my son, when he was nine years old. One of the abusive things his father did snapped my spirit. Anthony, Peter’s father and my former husband, raped me. Afterwards I was bleeding to death and I couldn’t get up. The next day, I did what I did. In my culture, you don’t say my husband’s hurting me and my child, so after I was arrested I couldn’t say “but he’s beating us”.
The last time I saw Peter was when he came in for a visit. He asked me, “Mommy, what did you do?” and I said, “I broke the law and I’m going to be here until I fix the problem. But remember to be good and that I love you.” Being separated from my son Peter was worse than hearing my sentencing. My mother and I both felt it was better for Peter to be with his father, even though Anthony was abusive. We thought that if something was to happen, he’d actually be held responsible.
Now, thirteen years later, I spend my time in here trying to do everything I can to get out-so I can find my son. I schedule my duties as a prisoner in such a way to make certain to not break any rules, and I keep to myself in here. I write Peter letters, it’s a way to speak out to him, even though I cannot mail them to him. I don’t have an address due to the fact that everything surrounding Peter has been denied to me.
A lot crosses my mind now, and writing Peter letters is a way to get it all out to him symbolically and spiritually. In these letters I ask him how he’s doing, and hope that my heart reaches and finds him in the best of spirits. I tell him to please know that I think of him daily, because I don’t ever want Peter to think I ever stopped loving him. I ask him about his life in these letters, which remain unsent. I wonder about things like how he is mentally and physically doing, and so I ask him in the letters.
Peter–how was school today, did you do your homework, what’s your favorite subject, do you like sports and if you do–what kind? Peter, do you have any best friends? What are their names? Peter, are you eating your favorite food (spaghetti) still? Are you eating good? Peter, my beloved son, how are you adjusting to your new family? Your new life? Do you know that Mommy never stopped loving you, and I have your name engraved in me to remind me of you everyday?
I have no contact with my ex-husband, Anthony, and he has my son. If I had contact with him, I’d want to say that I’m terribly sorry for the poor choice I made. I pray to God everyday, that he’s being a good father to OUR son because OUR son deserves to be happy.
I want to tell other mothers that I know the pain they’re feeling; the awfulness that comes because we don’t know where our children are, the anxiety that comes around certain dates like birthdays. I know the loss of joy in those days, because they’re not things to celebrate without our children. I know, because we’re all facing the same problem of not being able to see our children. I think it’s more painful to not see our children, then the sentence we have to serve.
We need to get our spirits and mentalities strong and together, to fight the good fight! We have to do whatever we can to work the program to heal our scared and scarred cores, and not let the prison system work us. Do your time, as “they” say, and don’t let time do you. There is always tomorrow, and there is always hope. We cannot lose that hope, not now–not ever.