“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ― Buddha
If you are serving time together, there are many reasons for you to be angry. Your loved one is in prison and you are left to maintain everything at home yourself. You may be mad at that person specifically because of the effect on your daily life. On top of that, you are trying to help your partner navigate a complex prison system. You are perhaps stretched financially, emotionally, and your responsibilities at home and parenting have doubled. So what can you do?
The one common thread in the above paragraph is how many people are counting on you. It is easy to lose sight of yourself when you are spending all of your time worrying about your partner and the many consequences of their actions.
According to Mental Health America, it is dangerous for your health to dismiss self-care. “In addition to just acknowledging your feelings, be sure to take care of yourself. Self-care is often the first thing to go out the window when you’re worried about someone else — but those are the times when it’s most important. Going through something stressful like this can be hard on your mental health. And when you neglect your mental health, it becomes even harder to provide emotional support for others.”
You will have to make sure you take time to be around people that will support you emotionally. This can be a support group, family members, friends that care, or wherever you find comfort.
Not all friends are comforting or helpful. When someone has an incarcerated loved one in their life, a common complaint is having to deal with what coworkers, friends, neighbors, and others say. It is hard sometimes not to react and even feel embarrassed or upset, but it isn’t healthy.
“You don’t owe anyone an explanation. Before you react to gossip, think about whether it’s worth your energy. If it’s someone close to you, it might make sense to tell them how you feel and ask them to stop. But if it’s a stranger and you don’t have much control over the situation, it might be better to try and brush it off. Picking your battles is good self-care!”
Another thing to be careful of is falling into demonizing people. When you are faced with a situation like the one you and your partner are in, it is easy to get mad at entire groups.
“We project onto people the image of the Enemy, who threatens our safety. Often such images are projected on whole classes of people—blacks, whites, women, guards … prisoners.”
You don’t want to grow your anger into hatred and fear. Thoughts of frustration and disappointment are dangerous to inhale and will poison you if they last too long. Look at the article on positive thinking for help in this area.
It is difficult when some of your anger is directed at your partner in prison. You may feel like they caused this problem or that they didn’t always listen to you along the way. You also may not like how they are handling things since they have left.
These are all sound rationale and concerns. The part that may help you to manage it is to remember they, too, are human. At some point, you have to realize why we often use the word partner so often. The dictionary defines it as people engaged together in the same activity.
When you are enraged, you can’t be engaged in anything productive. It is essential to talk to them or get suggestions from a professional to get you back to the point where your relationship is again engaging in positive growth.
Some useful resources will help you with your anger.