Coming out of incarceration, whether jail or prison, is a time of reconnecting with family and friends. If it’s been a long time, the people you’re going back to may not be exactly who they once were. They may have changed, for better or worse, and this will be part of your transition. For example, roles in a relationship may have changed, kids may have grown up and changed, everyone may have changed. But that’s true for everyone. No one, no matter what they experience, is the same person at forty that they were at twenty. We all evolve, and that’s a good thing.
Best advice? Manage your expectations of your homecoming. Give yourself and everyone else time to adjust.
Healthy relationships depend on communication, honesty, trust, and respect. Sometimes we’ve never been exposed to what a healthy relationship looks like. Wikihow.com has good advice on how to have a healthy relationship. The pictures are sort of corny, but the advice isn’t. Click the button to go to the website.
Sometimes we need to disconnect from friends, especially when it’s all about them and not about you. Sometimes we even need to disconnect from family members. Keep this in mind. If someone’s actions are likely to get you back in jail or prison, that’s a good reason to disconnect. If someone is abusing you, that’s a good reason to disconnect. If someone doesn’t want you to succeed, that’s a good reason to disconnect.
Starting over after incarceration can be a time to start new friendships. You may find these friends in recovery groups, or faith-based groups, or re-entry groups, or whatever you’re doing that’s positive. Rebuilding after incarceration is all about you. You are your best investment, discovery, venture, and undertaking. Give yourself time to connect with what helps you return, rebuild, and reimagine who you want to be.
Many churches and community organizations offer free classes on family relationships. For example, Family Tree in Wheat Ridge offers free clinics on custody issues and parenting classes, and Catholic Charities in Denver offers couples counseling. Our list of Community and Re-entry Help is a great place to start when you’re looking for a local organization.