A couple of weeks ago we discussed 7 ways to support someone in prison, and now I’m out of prison, so we are talking about 4 ways to support someone after prison.
Step one, show up! You might not know what to do or say but make sure you’re available for the individual who recently got out of prison. It might be making a drive over in the middle of the night to have a conversation and comfort them, or it may be answering the phone in the evening and listening to them get out whatever is on their mind.
This one is the biggest because, without one’s emotional state intact, chances of making it after prison are greatly reduced, and it’s then likely that going back to prison is just a matter of time.
For me, I have a lot of things I’ve done in my past that I’m not entirely proud of, between mistreating women who I’ve had relationships with or not being a good friend, brother, or son. I have had some tough conversations trying to amend these wrongs and there will be plenty more to come, as I continue my journey in recovery.
These conversations don’t always go the way I planned, and when they do, they can be emotionally taxing. These are the times that are I would have turned to the drugs to take away the pain, but now, I’m forced to meet these feelings head-on. I turn to my network; family and friends, sponsor, and neighbor Joe. I just keep calling until one picks up.
In regards to emotional support, it’s all about making yourself available. If you want to be there for them 24/7, then offer that to them, and be ready to follow through when it’s needed. If not, set those boundaries, and if the individual respects you, they will understand.
This part is being there, physically, spending time with the individual. Having fun, taking them to eat, going to a movie, whatever extracurricular activities they like to do, golfing, swimming, boating, camping, bike rides, and working out.
Each person’s circumstances are going to be different, right now is a weird time with COVID and I’m not allowed to leave the house very often so my friends and family have been coming here.
Jesse comes and works out with me, three or four times a week. Morgan comes and does workshops with me. People come over and grill out all the time, we watch movies, hang out in the yard, play ladder golf, and have good conversations.
As my restrictions loosen, there will be more time to fill, more options to pick from, and more temptation. That’s when I will need that physical support the most. To make sure I’m spending my spare time in a healthy and productive manner.
In regards to physical support, offer to take them somewhere or do something with them. See if they want you to come over and hang out. Start with something easy and ask if you can bring lunch and catch up.
Acts of Service
For most people, getting out of prison means starting over. License is expired, jobs aren’t lined up asking to employ you, and there is no car to take you from place to place. Whether its the job hunt, going to and from the halfway house, or making it to appointments, help getting around will be needed right after being released from prison.
My family has brought me to all my appointments, networked to find different work opportunities when I was met with restrictions on where I could work, and they have brought me food when I’m having a craving.
These things not only make me feel good but show me time and time again, how much they are willing to do for me, after all, that I have not done for them. It’s a blessing and keeps me motivated to keep moving forward. Without them, I don’t even want to think about where I would be.
In regards to acts of service, you will not only be helping out the person who just got out of prison but you will be helping out their network who are most likely doing more than they have time for. If this is something you would like to do, give them a call or text and ask if they need help being brought anywhere.
Regardless of how you view money, it’s a necessity. Between rent, bills, food, child support, debt, fines, and restitution, it doesn’t leave much left to save for the future. I was fortunate, I had a place to live, people to help me buy new clothes, get a phone, pay my monthly bill, and furnish my room.
There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t think about the less fortunate and I wonder how they make it in this broken system. The answer is, most of them don’t. Recidivism is high for a reason.
So, whatever you can do, to help someone out, whether it’s buying them some clothes, a meal, or paying a bill, I promise it will mean the world to them.
It’s not about doing all the things on this list because you will extend your self too far and nobody wants that. Also, make sure that your actions are being appreciated and you’re not being taken advantage of. I check in with my friends and family all the time and ask if I’m asking for too much. I also make sure to tell them on a regular basis, how much I appreciate everything they continue to do for me.