Someone asked me recently if I always believed my husband was innocent. The answer is yes, always. I knew it from the beginning when the detectives knocked at the door. So keeping hope alive during the trial, even though difficult, felt bearable. We were sure he could not and would not be convicted. There was no way. No physical evidence. Horrible “witnesses” who changed their testimony depending on which statement you read. Nothing to tie him to the crime except the corrupt police department that manufactured and intimidated their way to a guilty verdict.
When the jury went out we were hopeful. They were out for 3 days. The public defender we had at the time said that was a good sign. That there was reasonable doubt. And there definitely was. On the afternoon of day 3 they came back and announced they had a verdict. We were so sure it would be not guilty. By this time I was back in Florida at work. When the lawyer called to tell me that they had come back guilty on all counts I was beyond devastated.
There is this crazy feeling that comes over you when you know someone is innocent but you see that the government is stronger than you and you cannot do anything about it. There was no one there to help us figure out what was going on. My husbands convictions carried a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Meaning you will die in there before they let you out. It was unthinkable. And definitely the worst possible outcome.
At first we had some faith in the attorneys appointed to him but they all turned out to be overworked and underpaid and really just checking on boxes to get things filled out and done. It was a harsh reality we had to face. I knew if I stayed I would be living on hope and prayers because he had no out date.
I find it so odd that there are innocence clinics and all this help given to death row inmates, and rightfully so, but life without parole is a death sentence too. Why not employ the same help for them? Anyway, that’s just a side thought.
So I’ve been asked a lot how do you manage being with someone for 20 years and them not having an out date. The best answer is soul love. That soul love we have and have had since we were just kids running around together is solid and strong. It’s big love. It is the kind that demands you listen. It’s the kind and fills you up and always lights the way back if you get lost.
But that love has to have some other things for it survive. First of all, before I get into that let me say that I am talking about a faithful relationship. I do not have men (or women) on the side. I am 100% faithful to my husband. No funny business. And to be honest, I think if there was we wouldn’t have lasted this long. Thank God for phone sex lol. But let’s be honest, it’s all we have had over the years. And who gets to say that’s a bad thing? The amount of judgement I had to learn to release was overwhelming and surely would have taken me down long ago had I not figured that out. And I am not sure of the formula. I just know that when the pain gets big enough you figure it out as a matter of survival.
And even then it is two steps forward one back. Because it doesn’t happen overnight. There are periods of wondering what the fuck you are doing. I questioned myself and sometimes still do although now we are so close it is much less. There is shame and guilt that has to be dealt with. Our society shames prison and anyone who has anything to do with it so you really have to find yourself before you can find your strength there.
I had to start living my life. I know it sounds hard or maybe even obvious but it is easy to make all your plans around their out date. When you don’t have one those plans are stalled indefinitely. You have to take the vacations and buy the house and do all the things because life is too short to put it on hold. Plus waiting for them will bring you a slow death. I like to say waiting with him but still living. It is so important to still have friends and build your business or find an hobby. Do things that you find joy in.
I had to decide how committed I was. It matters. A weight like this requires a firmly rooted love and commitment. This may seem like a no-brainer but when it comes to loving someone with a life without parole sentence you have to be all in. Because it’s easy to be knocked down. Another appeal or court ruling not in your favor. When things get tough and you know it would be easier if they were here.
Even though I knew my husband was not guilty I still got mad at him for not being here. For wanting to go on the trip in the first place or for making any decisions that put him in the position that he’s in even if they were innocent decisions. The anger phase of a sentence like this is real. It is hard. It will test the strength of your love over and over.
The biggest thing I did was to find my connection to my higher self, the Universe, God. That is a missing piece in so many relationships because we take for granted being able to get our fix from someone else. The person who comes home every day and does life with you. What I noticed after my husband went away is that I was no longer able to fill my cup through him in that way. You know in relationships of all kinds we tend to fill our cup or empty it based on how others show up in our world. If you argue, you feel bad. If they are adoring you, you feel amazing. Well, when he went to prison all he could do was say nice things on the phone but it wasn’t the same and wasn’t enough. I needed to find my footing. I needed to find my connection to myself, my soul, source energy.
That is where the work came in. I had to look inside and start to figure out what was going on with me. I couldn’t keep holding myself hostage to his feelings or any one else’s for that matter. It took time. It didn’t happen over night. We had to work at it. I am lucky to have a man who loves me and is always willing to be open minded and reach for more with me.
There is no chance I would have stayed if he wasn’t willing to grow and actually become more. Because the thing is, he is accountable. Not for being arrested but for energetically being in the proximity. I never felt bad for him or felt like “poor him”. We knew too much to stay in victim mode. It was time for creating new opportunities not being upset about what had happened. There is simply no power there.
Since I always knew he was innocent I guess I have a different road than someone who is with someone in prison who did it and is rightfully sentenced. I can’t imagine that and don’t want to. Hope, then belief, then knowing he would be free before we saw the proof has been what has kept me warm at night since he’s been gone.
I also had to let go of what I thought my life was supposed to look like. Letting go of what society said my life should look like. Digging deep and figuring out what I really wanted and who I really was outside of his sentence. Once I figured that out I started to chase that. To find my happiness. To feel whole.
Because the truth is you don’t need any other person to find your wholeness and your connection. When we decided to let each other off the hook for how the other felt it was life giving. Coming to your marriage at 100% is the best gift you can give to your partner.
The reality is I always knew I would spend the rest of my life with my husband. I didn’t know we would have this particular situation but I know it’s an opportunity to grow into more and to evolve. It’s the journey. And I don’t say that lightly. We just decided that our journey was going to be as happy and joyful as we could make it. That decision was the best decision we made for our marriage. It led to all the other things that have kept us solid over the last 20 years and continues to keep us moving in the direction of freedom.