FOCUS ON IMPROVING THE PRESENT—NOT RELIVING THE PAST
Start making healthy decisions, and remember that whatever choices you make now will directly impact your future. “Tell yourself, ‘I am going to avail myself as much as possible to improve me, so that if my child ever does reach out to me, I’m a better person,'” Stanosheck says.
WRITE LETTERS TO YOUR CHILDREN—EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEND THEM
Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. Tell them how much you love and miss them. And avoid blaming others for your incarceration or speaking negatively about the custodial caregiver. If you don’t even know where to start, Stanosheck suggests reaching out to your mental health counselor to ask for help with what to write. Hold on to the letters; just putting your feelings in writing can be very healing. If you ever reestablish contact down the road, you can decide if you want to mail them.
CONNECT WITH OTHER CHILDREN, IF POSSIBLE
If your facility has parent-child reconciliation programs, you can aid other families by volunteering to help with set-up. You might not be able to participate, but you’d be helping children indirectly. Some facilities have a nursery program where prisoners in good standing can volunteer in day care.
CONNECT WITH OTHER WOMEN
Start a book club, peer support group, or Bible study. Forming a sense of community is important, especially when you find other women who understand your situation. You might be able to serve as a mentor to another woman who is struggling.
Find books on anger management, mindfulness, trauma healing, and holistic healing. The Bible is also a great source of wisdom and comfort. On days when you don’t have the strength to dive into challenging nonfiction self-help books, even reading novels can take your mind off things.
PRAY AND MEDITATE
Yoga and meditation in your cell can help you heal. Bedtime relaxation exercises can help improve your sleep. And prayer can be very healing and calming. Pray for your children, using specific requests, and thank God for any blessings you do have.
TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL
Speak to a counselor, medical staff, or chaplain about any troubling feelings you may be having. Speaking to someone who isn’t incarcerated can give you a different perspective.
Do whatever you can to improve yourself while behind bars. Volunteer for as many programs as you can, and work on healing yourself and growing as a person.