Dear Ms. HeartBeat:
For the past 11 months of my 18 month relationship, my 21 year old boyfriend has been in prison. He was accused of something that he would never do, and is now incarcerated for 7-10 years.
This is the hardest thing I’ve been through in all my life, and I don’t really know how to handle it. I love him and I always have, but I know that things can’t work like this. I am only 19, and I feel confused, lonely and just heartbroken. I have told him before that I can’t put my life on hold for the next seven years, but he didn’t seem to understand. So I just told him to forget that I said that.
I guess all the guys in prison are telling him that I will leave him and he’s really worried. He seems to be more protective now than he was before he got locked up. I know I have to think about my future, because after he gets out of jail there will be a lot of things I won’t be able to do because of him. But that sounds selfish, and I don’t want to be selfish. Yet, he didn’t think of me and think that I couldn’t wait 7 years for him!
Now he thinks that I’m seeing someone else because I’ve been too busy working and going to school to be at home every time he calls. What do I do? I can’t take this anymore!!!
Confused in Love
Dear Confused in Love:
First of all, since you’d only dated this guy for six or so months before he got locked up for years and year, you don’t really know WHAT this clown is capable of doing! You are talking like you’ve known this man for decades since babyhood or something. Girl please!
Secondly, you’re acting like you owe him something. You have to remember you barely know this guy. You are not married to him. You are not engaged to him. You are not the mother of his children either. You are just some woman he was dating for a few months.
This situation is very sad, because he has squandered a large portion of his life on foolishness. However, that has nothing to do with YOU. He has no right to ask you to put your life on hold waiting for his butt, and if you do it that means you are crazy. I want you to stop babying him and pretending everything is okay when it’s not. He and his feelings are NOT more important than yours, and you need to stop treating him like they are.
Next time he calls (or write him a letter) and tell him that you have decided you cannot wait for him and are moving on. Remind him that you two barely were together before he got locked up, and most of your “relationship” has been with him behind bars. Tell him that you are too young to live your life like that, and that you refuse to be in prison with him because YOU didn’t do anything wrong!
It is not selfish to want to go to school and make a life for yourself, to model yourself into a woman both you and your family can be proud of. That is exactly what you SHOULD do.
My other concern is that while he is in prison, there is a good possibility that he will be engaging in illicit sexual activity with other convicts – whether by consent or by force. The transmission rate of HIV/AIDS amongst young, black heterosexual women in your age group is sky high and directly correlates to the high number of young black men behind bars. Bottom line, don’t you ever let someone else’s stupid choices impact your success, growth or health.
Let him know that you gave it a try, but you just can’t do it anymore and you won’t try because the situation is entirely too stressful and confusing. Stop taking his collect calls, don’t put any money on his books, and don’t you dare call or visit him. Change your number if you have to and make sure no one that he knows has the new one. Look into moving to a new city or even transferring schools to another state. You need a change of scenery and to get as far away from this guy and the influence of his friends and family as you can get.
You are too young and have too much promise to be tying yourself to a kite that isn’t going to take flight for 10 years, if ever. You need to be flying as high as you can go without being weighed down by this loser and his crime dramas.