Whether you have been inside for a just a few weeks or months or several years, life outside is going to be a shock. I can only tell you my experiences after serving just 32 days, the last part of which was in an open prison.
As I waited for the train I was very conscious of being very inappropriately dressed for a really cold and frosty morning. In fact snow was still on the ground from the weekend snow fall. The temperature in prison had been constantly high, 24 hours a day and so I had become acclimatised to heat, now in just a suit and clutching a bag of my personal belongings I was shivering in the waiting room.
When at last the train came I sat in a group of 4 seats and was soon joined by a woman who turned out to be a Probation Officer. I sought to hide my plastic bag with HMP on the side in large blue lettering. I think I was successful in that. I gazed out of the window as if to see what had changed in the countryside, but nothing had except it was wet and white.
As the train gradually arrived at the outskirts of the town apprehension grew. My partner and eldest son would be waiting for me. I had brought much shame on myself and the 2 years awaiting trial had been harrowing. They had had to live through the aftermath of the trial whereas I had been protected by H M Prison Service. I think at this point if the train had stopped I would have got off but no such luck, I had to get off at the station.
I need not have been concerned, there on the platform were the two of them with broad grins and welcome hugs and kisses. It was good to be back.
I felt tired already but the questions soon caused concern to me. I realised I was not coping and wanted to cry but I couldn't because, well I suppose I had to keep the stiff upper lip. We went to Sainsbury's on the way home to stock up. My youngest son who had looked after himself and the house whilst I was gone had had a pretty rough time of it. A lesson for him as well. He would have been at the station to meet me but he had just got a job. It was him I was most worried about.
In Sainsbury's I bought food for a few days, 4 cans of Stella, 4 cans of Murphys and a bottle of Whisky. Enough for a big hangover but I need not have bothered as my Partner had planned a meeting in the local put in which the land lord had been particualrly supportive but it was also the pub frequented by my accusers. I downed a pint of Guiness and instantly got a headache.
During the first afternoon I realised that I was not coping with alcohol or with people. I have no idea how others cope having left prison after months or years but I knew I was cracking. I took time to cry whilst on the toilet - being able to sit down without anyone watching was a luxury I had never appreciated.
My youngest son returned home and we just hugged each other. It was great to be back with him. A man of 23 and simply great.
Premier Monitoring came to set up the tagging and they could not have been better. At last someone in authority who was anxious to work for me and to care for me with courtesy and consideration. I cannot write too highly of them.
The evening meal and a glass or two of wine finished me off to bed. No banging and locking of doors, no spy holes, no bars just peace and an uneasy quiet.
The next day my partner went off to work and I was left in the house alone.
As the days past I find I grew in strength and am less tired after being with people but it will take some time to restore my confidence and personal esteem.
I worry greatly about my neighbour who had been pretty nasty towards anyhone who supported me and was ready to appear in court against me. I worry greatly also about the boys and girls who had been part of the youth organisation where I was a voluntary leader. I have been asked many times in just a few days if I will return but I guess the answer is NO.
10 days after coming out of Prison I still have all the alcolhol bought at Sainsbury's except for one can of Stella. I am feeling more confident with visitors and I am slowly trying to show my appreciation to those who helped.
Later I will try to get life back together.