A lot has changed since the last time we featured Bobby Bostic’s story on our blog in 2021. Bobby was released on parole in November 2022, after serving 27 years of a 241-year sentence. We are honored to have been part of his life while he was incarcerated, keeping him connected with friends and family on the outside through photos. We celebrate not only his release, but his accomplishments and perseverance. You can learn more about Bobby’s story and his current projects at his website here.
It’s our pleasure to once again feature Bobby’s personal incarceration story in his own words as he reflectson the true impact of sending photos to someone in jail or prison.
A few years ago while serving a 241-year sentence, I started using Pelipost to receive pictures of my loved ones. While I served 27 years in prison, I only had photos to imagine the streets. Pictures highlighted what I was missing and served as my lens to the streets. I went to prison in 1995 when I was just 16 years old. Pictures served as my lifeline to the streets. I was released 4 months ago and now I am 44 years old.
While I was in prison, not everyone could come and see me. Pictures were the only way I could see them. I had nothing but childhood memories, but the pictures made everything real to me. I want to thank Pelipost for its wonderful service of helping prisoners like me to be able to get visuals of the free world. Words can’t express how much prison separates us from the streets.
On the other hand, words cannot express how valuable Pelipost is to prisoners. Pictures are so valuable to us in prison. In my book Time: Endless Moments in Prison, I wrote an entire chapter on pictures: ‘Pictures in Prison.’ I encourage everyone to please read this book if you want to know the value of pictures inside of prison and why a service like Pelipost is so valuable to prisoners.
While inside of a cell, pictures are like 3D for us. Pictures are alive and full of life. On a personal level I wrote about this in my soon-to-be-released autobiography ‘Humbled to the Dust: Still I Rise.’ In the meantime to find out more about my story, just Google ‘Bobby Bostic’ or follow @freebobbybostic on Instagram and Twitter. Check out some of my art, and my books on Amazon.
Pictures are not motionless in prison. Pictures are our motion picture to the free world.
Pictures are real to prisoners. They are real life to us. They capture moments in time for us to see that which we could not otherwise see. We thank you Pelipost for the service you provide for us prisoners and our friends and family. As my late mom used to say when she mailed me pictures to prison: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
Pelipost, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in a prison cell a picture speaks a thousand words to us over the many years that we keep those pictures while looking at them dozens of times in our cell. Pictures are not motionless in prison. Pictures are our motion picture to the free world. We hold the visual in our hands, and as we sit in the cell: pictures become real.
You may be asking yourself, “What’s wrong with using the word inmate?”
Perhaps you found us by searching “send photos to inmates.” At Pelipost, we respect the experiences of both incarcerated people and their families. We have lived it ourselves from both sides. Our mission is to create a more compassionate and inclusive environment for families experiencing incarceration, whether by sending photos to prison or using people-first language when referring to someone who is incarcerated. The word “inmate” defines a person by one part of their life, and is loaded with stigma and dangerous implications. Our incarcerated loved ones and their families have told us that the word feels hurtful and dehumanizing. That’s why we want to remove the word “inmate” from our vocabulary.
Person-first language promotes respect and humanity for all
Person-first language is an important concept that prioritizes people’s identities over their circumstances or conditions. It acknowledges the humanity and dignity of individuals by using respectful language that emphasizes their personhood first and foremost. This approach is especially crucial when discussing individuals who have been impacted by the criminal justice system.
For families experiencing incarceration, using person-first language is particularly important as it helps to reduce stigma and promote empathy. Referring to a person as an “incarcerated loved one” instead of an “inmate” acknowledges that they are more than just their incarceration. It emphasizes the importance of maintaining relationships and connections with them. This language recognizes that they are a person first, and that their current circumstances are just one aspect of their identity.
Using person-first language is also a way to shift the focus away from punishment and towards rehabilitation and support. By using language that is respectful and empathetic, we can create a more understanding environment for families experiencing incarceration. It can help to reduce the shame and isolation that these families often experience. It can also encourage a more positive and hopeful outlook for the future.
Overall, person-first language is a powerful tool for promoting empathy, reducing stigma, and creating a more inclusive society. By choosing our words carefully, we can help to build a more supportive community.
What about Love Your Inmate Day?
We’re glad you asked. We’ve made the decision to change the name of our annual Love Your Inmate Day celebration to Global Incarcerated Loved One Day! We want to continue our efforts to prioritize person-first language in everything we do while including our Pelipost community all around the world. Global Incarcerated Loved One Day is still celebrated annually on August 8th.
The easiest way to celebrate Global Incarcerated Loved One Day is by sending photos to your incarcerated loved one through the Pelipost app. You can download the app for free at the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. You can also shop for gifts and show your support with our exclusive GILO Day merch at the Global Incarcerated Loved One Day online store. Part of the proceeds go toward supporting children of incarcerated parents through Pelipost’s Student of the Month Program. There are many different ways to celebrate your incarcerated loved ones this year.
Why do I still see “inmate” being used on your website?
You may have noticed the use of the term “inmate” on our website. While we are committed to using person-first language, such as “incarcerated person” or “incarcerated loved one,” this can harm our search engine rankings and make it harder for people to find us. So if you see the term “inmate” in certain places on our site, we want you to know why. We are working to change this and hope you’ll join us in our mission to create a more compassionate and inclusive environment for families experiencing incarceration.
Pelipost was founded on a second chance. Our story is just one example of success after incarceration. We believe that every person has dignity and potential. But approximately 1 in 3 American adults has a criminal record, which limits their access to education, jobs, housing, and other things they need to reach that potential. This April, we’re joining our friends at Prison Fellowship to celebrate Second Chance Month and and unlock brighter futures for people with a criminal record. We sat down with Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky Calderon, to hear about her Second Chance after incarceration, and the journey it took to get there.
Tell us how your Second Chance story started.
In my case, it was my actual incarceration that led to my second chance experience. I consider myself extremely blessed, extremely lucky that I had this opportunity that so many people don’t have.
But was it in my plan? No, but I knew that my son had thought about creating an app to send photos, and I was driving him crazy wanting pictures. I got to a point where I felt like he wasn’t listening to the importance of what it means to me. And I’d say, “I really need to see some pictures. I need to receive them.” And then him finding it hard to send them and then him finally saying, “you know what, there’s a need for this because it’s taking me too much hassle to send my mom pictures.” So, it was a blessing. But my incarceration actually created my second chance.
Did you feel like you were prepared to reenter society when you were released? Did you face obstacles to getting a job, finding a place to live? Did you have a support system of people who were there for you?
I had no idea of what I was gonna do, but the one thing that I did know was that I had family. That in itself is a blessing- I had family that still believed in me. They knew I had made a mistake and still believed that I could come out and be productive in some way. So in that way, I was winning already.
When you’re inside, you look around and you see people planning on getting out that have no idea where they’re gonna go. No idea where they’re gonna spend their first night. Trying to find a shelter to go to. So I was already ahead of the game. I knew who was going to be picking me up. I knew my parents had a room for me. I had a head start, which is huge. Huge because without, I can’t imagine how scary that would have been, for so many others not knowing. You’re almost scared to be free. Because on the inside, you know where you’re sleeping, you know where you’re eating. Then you get out, and you have no idea. I couldn’t imagine that.
Did you feel the pressure of stigma after your release?
I think that the hardest critic was myself. I was coming home to my parents. My dad was beginning to suffer from Alzheimer’s. And again, I don’t wanna say that was lucky, but it was luck that I came out at the perfect time where he needed me.
So I didn’t have to turn right around and go look for a job. Family- that was my foundation. Being able to go home and help my mom take care of my dad saved me. It felt almost like a relief to me because I didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew I had a skill. I knew I had management experience. I knew I was educated. But I felt that I lost all my credibility. And I still feel that in ways. All of a sudden I was at the top of my career, and I went so far down.I knew I would have to demonstrate and prove myself again. And I didn’t know if I had that in me. I did not know if I could do that again. That was very scary because I could only imagine if I failed, what that failing could do to me.
Would you say that your family has been the key to unlocking that second chance for you?
Absolutely. 100%. And I’ll tell you why. The fact that my one and only son knew that his mom had made a mistake, but stood firm in his support. I almost had to prove to him and say “Thank you for believing in me. I’m gonna come out and show you I can do this. I’m going to fix things.” He could have easily drifted away. He was out of college and he could have just separated himself, but he chose not to. He chose to show me support. That was huge. My mom was a little different. She would write all the time, but she said, “I will never come visit you.” She was very strict, but I knew I had her support and my dad’s. When I would call home, he would just express how excited he would be that I was coming home soon.
Family for me was the number one motivator. It’s what kept me trying- the word is trying because if you don’t try, there’s no sense in anything. And it’s really very easy to feel overwhelmed at what you have in front of you. The mountain that you have to climb to try and prove yourself to try and say, “I’m worthy of a second chance. I’m ready for someone to give me a try again. Yes, I made a mistake, but I can still do something productive.” You’re more than that mistake. More than your worst moment.
There’s a little part of me that feels a little guilty and I shouldn’t, but I do because I consider myself so blessed that I got my second chance after incarceration. The guilt comes from knowing that many people that don’t have that. A second chance is the hardest thing to believe in. It’s the hardest thing to do if you’re starting from scratch. I took advantage of my second chance. Because I had a wonderful opportunity in my family and I knew I couldn’t mess this up. I could have, but I didn’t.
My heart hurts for people that have to start with nothing. But I love seeing things like Prison Fellowship and the advocacy groups that are fighting with you to give you that second chance after incarceration, to find you people that can help. Because you need help- everyone needs help. You can’t do it alone. 99.9% of failing is because you’re alone. Because I wasn’t alone, I was blessed. And I just say to people that are alone, to please look towards the advocacy groups that are out there because they are there with open arms, open hearts, willing to help. Find support, because being alone makes it too easy to give up. All you have to do is try.
Millions of people in America have a criminal record. Many are ready to own their mistakes, learn from the past, and become who they’re meant to be. But it’s harder than it should be. At every step of the journey—by unjust laws and daily hurdles—they’re reminded of who they were.Learn more about Second Chance month and how you can take action to #bethekey to unlocking second chances for Americans with a criminal record here.
We founded Pelipost from a family’s real experience with incarceration. We know how difficult the experience can be because we’ve lived it from both sides. A major part of our mission is sharing perspectives from the incarcerated and their families in order to support our community. We sat down with TikTok’s Ashley Martinez to hear how this former prison wife coped with her husband’s incarceration, her advice for loved ones, and supporting others in the Prison Wives communities on social media. We believe that voices like Ashley’s can be a powerful tool to help us shatter the stigma of having a loved one incarcerated. This also helps us in the fight to keep real photos in our loved one’s hands. You can follow Ashley on TikTok at @ashllllllay_ashes.
Hey, guys. My name is Ashley. Most of you may know me on TikTok as @ashllllllay_ashes, former prison wife. My husband served a two year and nine month sentence in prison on a six year sentence. He is out on parole. He got out September 9th of 2021. I’m going to answer a couple of questions.
How did sending photos help you and your husband stay connected through his incarceration?
I made sure that my husband had tons and tons and tons of pictures. In that way, it gave him a sense of freedom while being incarcerated. And that’s something that they appreciate the most. Other than talking on the phone, of course. So, yes, it is very important that you all send pictures.
What advice would you give someone who is experiencing having a loved one incarcerated?
Dealing with someone who is incarcerated is overwhelming, and it’s just so stressful. One of the main things, while my husband was incarcerated, that we worked on was trust and communication. If you don’t have trust and communication when dealing with a relationship, of course it’s going to be very, very hard. Always let them know that you’re waiting for them, you support them, and anything that they do when they get out, you’re going to be there to help them. So that way they don’t ever go back. Just speak positivity into them and let them know that they have someone who actually cares about them. Because a lot of the times when they go to prison, they feel like everybody just turns their back on them and that’s not cool.
Tell us about the Prison Wives community on TikTok and social media. How did these communities help support you during your husband’s incarceration?
So back in 2019, my husband got arrested and sentenced. I didn’t start my TikTok until 2020. At that time, I didn’t really see anybody on TikTok doing the Prison Wife thing. So I had a conversation with my cousin and she told me to start posting and overnight, maybe in a couple of days, my videos were going viral. I was supportive, helpful, and motivational to a lot of women out there because I spoke and still speak a lot of positive things. When dealing with this situation, we already get enough backlash from everybody else. They actually helped me keep going because it was helping them. What you pour out is what you give in, you know? And me posting videos continued, because I loved helping people and being supportive, being motivational, being encouraging. So that’s one of the things that kept me going- the other prison wives kind of looking up to me in a sense.
Like I said, you do have a lot of people that are negative towards our situation and it’s just different when you have somebody who you can relate to and who’s not going to judge you for loving a person who simply because they’re incarcerated.
Why do you believe it’s important to reduce the stigma of having a friend, family member, or a partner incarcerated?
Having somebody incarcerated, you’re already going to get a lot of backlash, whether you’re in a relationship or whether you’re just there supporting a family member, being there for them as emotional support while they’re going through their sentence. You always get, “Oh, they’re just going to go back in.” The vast majority do go back in, but there’s always that small percentage that actually go in there and utilize their resources to become a better person, if not for themselves and for the people that love them.
Some of the smartest men come out of prison. They go in there and they utilize their resources. They go get their certificates, they get their degrees, they go to the law library and they gain knowledge, and some people really do change their life in there. And I feel like everybody shouldn’t judge one person off of what they went to prison for, because if they’re in prison, they’re serving their time. Once they get out and they’re changed, they shouldn’t be judged on their past. And that’s one thing that I really do have a problem with, because once you’re in the system, it’s hard to get out of. It’s hard to see someone in a different light. Nobody wants to see people change for some reason. And it’s hard for them to accept and grasp the fact that people actually do get out, and do better than probably people who have never even been in prison.
I just feel like society needs to accept the fact that once someone gets out of prison and they paid their debt to society, you should no longer hold their past against them. It should no longer hinder you from trying to prosper and get ahead in life.
If you are interested in sharing your experience with family incarceration or how the Pelipost app has helped you stay connected, please reach out to us at email@example.com
It’s hard to know what life is like for the incarcerated. At Pelipost, we believe in the importance of sharing the experience of incarceration by bringing our PeliPALS’ stories to light. Today, we bring you Kristopher DeShawn’s story in his own words.
My name is Kristopher DeShawn. I am 34 years old and have been incarcerated since 2005. With this being the first time in this situation, the biggest things that enabled me to survive and work my way from a level 4 maximum security prison, to now a minimum level 2 is the ability to adapt and be aware. Also, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I have goals, people, and family to work myself back to.
Furthermore, I know I’m not defined by this situation. Now, I’m a mature adult male. I finally reached the growth and obtained and identity of which I’ve never had, with multiple negatives in my life, a life sentence, and the possibility to never leave these walls, I could’ve self-destructed.
“I’m no longer a person that just exists- I know I have a purpose.”
Kristopher DeShawn, PeliPAL
I have fully embraced my faith (Islam,) graduated from high school, obtained an Associate’s Degree in social and behavioral science, and utilized all self-help / cognitive restructuring tools / classes, so now my manner is one who is constantly evolving. I’m no longer a person that just exists- I know I have a purpose. While I continuously make strides in life, I also strive to impact others and not to be so stereotyped and also to be around like-minded individuals.
What also gets me through my day-to-day is that I write poems, short stories, and read. I’m an athlete, enjoy music, and constantly make it apparent to my mom and younger siblings that I’m still vital to their lives and I love them and vice-versa. As a bonus, I have nieces and nephews now and I’m grateful for the role in their lives, plus they know who their uncle is.
What I look forward to the most from my family is first knowing they are alive every day. Then with that, the phone calls, greeting cards, visits, and photos that let me know that they care, but also that they enjoy life. To have the opportunity to listen to their problems, issues, whatever is going on because I care about them. All of the above things my friends and family do and keep my spirits high. With this, praying, and remaining diligent, every day I wake up I feel blessed.
For now, I wait for my time to impact the world from the outside and not from within a cell. To also show the man I’ve become that my family and friends are proud of. Thank you.
A period of incarceration can be confusing and scary for a person. It’s hard to maintain a positive outlook when ordinary life is stripped away. Receiving photos and staying connected with the outside world can make all the difference for your loved one’s mental health. This applies both while they’re inside and when they return home. Unfortunately, recent facility policies such as photocopying and reduced visitation can make it harder for friends and family to maintain that connection with our incarcerated loved ones. Read on to learn more about these policies, what you can do to help, and some exciting news from two states who are making prison communication much easier in 2023.
The Fight for REAL Photos Continues
When we speak to incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people, the “tangible connection” that comes with holding a physical photo or handwritten letter is often mentioned. According to incarcerated writer Ryan M. Moser, “We treasure mementos like physical cards, letters and photos in prison because we have little else.” As we’ve previously discussed on our blog, facilities across the country are opting to replace original mail with scanned photocopies or even banning physical mail completely. In an effort to prevent contraband, more and more facilities are requiring that friends and family send all letters, photos, and cards to a designated central processing facility. Instead of receiving the original letter or photo, incarcerated people receive a photocopy or digital copy accessible on a tablet. Mail digitization comes with additional fees that add to the financial burdens shouldered by families with incarcerated loved ones.
Staffing Shortages are Impacting Visitation
Visitation was particularly difficult for friends and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some facilities reduced or suspended visitation hours, which meant some families went years without being able to visit their loved one. Unfortunately, this trend is continuing in some states due to higher-than-normal staffing shortages. Montana, for example, began suspending all in-person visitation indefinitely on October 31, 2021 due to staffing challenges. Meanwhile, some facilities have not resumed visitation since the pandemic began, switching completely to video visitation.
Positive Changes are Happening: California & Connecticut Make Phone Calls from Prison FREE
California took a major step forward to keep families experiencing incarceration connected. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill in September 2022 that makes phone calls from California’s prisons free of charge. The new law places the cost of calls state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation rather than families.
Now, with the governor’s blessing, “the simple cost of a call is never going to impair their ability to tell their children they love them or help their partner problem-solve a parenting situation,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of Worth Rises, a prison reform organization that advocated for the bill. This exciting change in California follows Connecticut, who was the first state to make all phone calls for people in state prisons free with a new law passed in June 2021.
Advocates believe that these changes to prison communication will improve both reentry outcomes and general mental health. “To me, being able to maintain relationships with people was really priceless, and certainly served me well once I was able to come home because I didn’t feel like I was being dropped into a world that I had not been a part of for many years,” said Gus Marks-Hamilton, campaign manager for ACLU-CT who spent eight years in prison.
Studies have shown that incarcerated people who received visitors were less likely to return to prison after their release. A 2014 study of incarcerated women found that those who had any phone contact with a family member were less likely to be reincarcerated. Phone communication in prison was even proven to have a more powerful effect on recidivism compared to visitation.
How Can Friends and Families Help?
If someone you love is incarcerated, you can advocate for positive changes in your own community, city, or state. Visit National Write Your Congressman’s website to identify your state’s legislators and write in your concerns about prison communication policies. You can also inspire others- use your platforms to get others to voice their concerns as well. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay. Research both local and national issues, and make sure to look for verifiable information from trusted sources.
If you know of a facility that is photocopying photos, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This will allow our Correctional Facility Relations Department to contact the facility and provide solutions like our photobooks. We are here to advocate for you and help get REAL photos into your loved one’s hands.
Keeping families connected is at the heart of everything we do at Pelipost. In the words of our CEO Joseph Calderon, “We started Pelipost because we understand how much these photos mean to someone on the inside. That’s why we will do all we can to make this process accessible to everyone.”
The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those of us who have a loved one who is incarcerated. We miss our loved ones and might find ourselves wondering what the holidays will be like for them, or if it’s even possible to have a merry Christmas while in jail or prison. Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky shared her experience along with valuable perspective on how families can provide support by sharing their holiday celebrations with their loved ones on the inside.
What are the holidays really like on the inside?
It was definitely not ignored, like just another day. Christmas was big- as big as it can be in there. We would get toilet paper or stuff like that and we would try and make snowflakes out of it and decorate our windows and stuff like that. It’s simply amazing what just using your imagination you can do to get into the Christmas spirit and to feel like you’re bringing it in to yourself so that you can celebrate it, because it’s still a celebration. You still want to celebrate the holidays.
You prepare for your Christmas meal. You start when you have canteen, and you buy your products. And who is going to do what- “I’m in charge of the cheesecake,” “Who’s in charge of this?” It’s like a little potluck that you create, trying very hard to maintain the spirit. And for an evening, for Christmas Eve, for Christmas Day, you try really hard to just separate yourself from where you’re at.
One thing that we did when we wanted to do something special was sharing of the mail we had received that previous year, anything special that we wanted to share. And we had a bunch of letters and that kept us all busy. So sharing our pictures, sharing just where we were, where our families were. “What news did you have of your family?” “What has changed?” Christmas was really a time to sit, eat, and reflect. Everyone knew it was Christmas. We celebrated it, and just made it joyful, as joyful as you can while you’re in there.
How can photos help bring the outside in?
A few weeks before Christmas and the holidays, holiday parties start happening, family gatherings start happening. Scenery, Christmas lights on the house, things that you take for granted. You’re driving by and you see- “Oh wow, that house is really decorated.” The street that you used to cruise by that’s filled with Christmas lights, all those things are things that you can still share. Things like that- those photos can be used to decorate the room because they’re lights.
They bring new life, they bring Christmas in to us. When you see a decoration or anything like that that you think, “oh, this would bring a smile to so-and-so’s face,” take a picture of these moments and send them in. Because if they’re lucky enough to put them up and share them, they bring so much joy and they almost take us out of the cell we’re in and remind us of wherever it was that these events were taking place.
In the back of your mind- yes, of course you wish you were there. But to see the joy being shared, and to see pictures of grandma holding a baby, or granddad with all the kids trying to play football, or any kind of moments that are happening out there, you’re happy for your family. You’re happy for the people that are out there. And to me, it brought me joy to see the people out there and how they were sharing within family and friends and how beautiful it is- beautiful memories.
Watch our full interview with Becky on our YouTube channel here.
If you have a loved one who is spending Thanksgiving in jail or prison, you may be wondering how to approach the Holidays. Should you send cards and photos, or does that make the fact that they’re far away more painful? We spoke to Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky, about how the power of photos helped her through the holidays while she was incarcerated.
What is Thanksgiving like on the inside?
You know, surprisingly, there is a lot of warmth inside. There is a lot of camaraderie, and you truly become family with the people in your cell or the people that you see every day. You walk the track with them, they serve the role as your family there. And so in the same instance, Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a thing that you like, ignore. We all knew it was Thanksgiving- “What are we going to do for Thanksgiving?” “Let’s share stories,” “let’s talk,” “let’s watch something special on TV.” You know, you find a way to make it celebratory.
Does sending photos and mail really make an impact?
As soon as the holidays came about – Thanksgiving Day was a big one – friends sending me, “Happy Thanksgiving, thinking of you” cards- all those are bonuses in there to receive. The value of a card changes. And what I mean is, out here where you can go and see hundreds of thousands of cards at Hallmark Store or anything like that, inside, when you receive a card, it means so much more. And I loved it. And I loved receiving cards. And you share them with everyone. They bring you so much joy. So to receive a card with photos inside is jackpot. When I was feeling like my tank was running on empty, with feelings, with emotions, with trying to get through another week, and I would get the envelope and pictures and reminders of home, it would refuel my gas tank and make it possible for me just to get through another week or another month or whatever it was. But it means a lot.
How can families be supportive?
A lot of my family used to think that receiving photos of the holidays was hurtful to me. So they would say, you know, “is it okay if I send you?” or, you know, “we don’t want to make you feel worse.” And they were concerned about that, and I’m sure that there are differing opinions about that. For me, it actually helped to see the families still going on, still celebrating, still living life. And although I was on the inside, it made me personally feel good that people were okay. I got to see my dad. I got to see my mom. I got to see- and don’t get me wrong, it is hard because I’m not there. But the- the happiness that you see. “Oh, my dad looks good.” “Oh, so-and-so’s growing up.” That supersedes what I feel by not being there. I feel good because I was able to at least catch up with that day and be part of the day. And it brought me joy.
September is National Recovery Month, which celebrates individuals in recovery and raises awareness of substance abuse and recovery treatments. We were honored to sit down with Pelipost’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Becky Calderon as she celebrates a decade of sobriety, and we drew strength and inspiration from hearing her story of overcoming addiction. We hope her story inspires others who are affected by addiction, as well as their families.
Was there a moment that inspired you to begin the process of recovery?
I really did have a moment where it just happened. I remember many people saying, you know, “You’ll know when you’re ready. It has to come from you. You’ll feel it.” And it’s true. I was drunk and I was exhausted. Physically exhausted of being drunk, of needing to be drunk. And it was just one week in where I just said, I can’t live like this anymore. This is not living for me.
What were some of the key factors that helped you maintain sobriety over the past 10 years?
I would say that some of the key factors that helped me maintain my sobriety were understanding why I drank and understanding what led to it and knowing that that was under control, that that was not happening any longer in my life. And then also, if you ever feel like you think you can drink again, or you want to drink again, you remember the worst point of your drinking and you almost literally scare yourself straight. Like, is it worth risking this beautiful space I have in my brain right now to begin the whole toxic trip again? And so, the feeling of just being clear minded and not wanting to risk it again was important to me.
What is the best thing that has come from your sobriety?
Before my father passed away from dementia, he was always the one who picked me up as the drunk daughter. And when I got out of my recovery classes, three months later, his dementia progressed, and he would come and go. And there was a moment where he said, “How are you doing, mija?” And I said, Dad, I’m not drinking! I’ve been sober for three months. He gave me the thumbs up, and he said, “I’m proud of you.” And that was probably the last real ‘him’ that I got to see. To know that I redeemed myself in his eyes is like a miracle to me.
What would you say to those who are currently struggling with addiction?
What would I say to those that are struggling? I find it one of the most difficult questions because I know I truly know that there’s nothing one can say. It has to come from within. My first steps of leading to sobriety actually came when I was incarcerated, and I dealt with why I drank. It was a program called Houses of Healing. It was a 13-week program. And I dug into the childhood trauma in my life. That program was the foundation of the idea that you don’t drink, or do drugs, or whatever your addiction is because you choose or you like the alcohol. You do it because you choose to numb something that caused you damage. And I truly believe that if you’re trying to quit without dealing with that damage, that trauma, that pain, it’s impossible. So there’s nothing anyone can say to someone to get them to stop drinking. Believe me, everyone tried that. But until somebody educated me enough to say, “you’re drinking for a reason. Let’s figure that reason out and deal with that reason.” So what I would say is, don’t judge the addiction. Focus on what led you there, what caused your pain, what caused your trauma? What caused you to give up? And if you take one of those at a time, it will liberate you. It will clear your plate of everything you’re carrying. Then you can really see that it’s not the alcohol or the drugs, it’s the numbing of your brain that you’re trying to do. And when you have happy things and know how to conquer the negative, you don’t need that.
What would you say to the families of those struggling with addiction?
In closing, I want to share something about not the person who is in recovery or in their addiction, but the people that love them and don’t know how to help. What I can say is there truly is nothing that you can do to help somebody want to stop. All you can do is support, love them, and just let them find their way. You can try and guide them. But please, the one thing that you do not want to do as family, as friends, as sons, daughters, parents, is you stop living because of that. Because if my son would have stopped his college education or stopped living his life, or if I would have caused any permanent damage to anybody in my family because of my addiction, I would never forgive myself.
What are some of the ways that your life has changed compared to when you weren’t sober?
My life as an alcoholic was a blur. It was a life of hiding. It was a life of lying to everyone I loved, and hiding everything I did. Just wanting to be alone so I could just be alone with my bottle. Now it’s a life of relaxation. I can be me. If somebody says “I’m coming over,” I don’t have to panic if I’m sober or not. It’s freedom- that’s the best way to describe it. I’m free. There’s no more hiding. I’m able to just be me and enjoy being able to give someone a hug if you run into them and not worry if they’re going to smell alcohol on your breath. Little things like that. It’s just being free.
Have you ever tried to send photos to your incarcerated loved one, only to have them tell you that they received a black and white photocopy instead? Some facilities have policies in place where original photos are scanned and copied to prevent contraband. Read on to learn more about why this happens and how you can make sure your loved one is receiving real photos, not photocopies.
Contraband from the outside, including drugs, is a concern for all correctional facilities. In an effort to prevent contraband entering jails and prisons from the outside, some facilities scan original letters and photos and distribute the copies to those who are incarcerated. We understand how crucial receiving photos can be for our incarcerated loved ones. Photos serve as an important reminder of the outside and can provide inspiration , comfort, and hope. We also understand how disappointing it can feel for both you and your loved one to receive photocopies when you’re expecting to send or receive real photos.
Pelipost works with facilities to find alternatives to photocopies
At Pelipost, our mission is getting your photos to your incarcerated loved one safely, quickly, and easily. We advocate for our customers and want to make sure all loved ones are receiving full-color, high-quality photos. We have a dedicated Director of Correctional Facility Relations who works with correctional facilities to provide solutions and alternatives to photocopying. One of these solutions has been our photobooks, which are printed with Pelipost’s signature high-quality, full color photos, directly from our secure fulfillment center. We are excited to announce that Pelipost has received approval from the Virginia Department of Corrections (VA DOC) to become the exclusive provider of photobooks in Virginia! Our photobooks are also currently available to customers sending photos to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC).
If you know of a facility that is photocopying photos, please contact us via email at email@example.com or send us a text message at +1 (844) 387-5755. This will allow our Director of Correctional Facility Relations to contact the facility. We are always here for you and we’re happy to help get real photos into your loved one’s hands.