Research Paper By Ana Tampanna
(Life Coach, UNITED STATES)
In 1982, I married a handsome soldier, an army recruiter. His three young sons showed up for our wedding in play clothes, their hair shaggy and unwashed. They returned to their mother afterwards, who had also remarried. I felt relieved, thinking they were “handled.”
When each boy was 16, he was removed from the mother and her husband and placed in our home with a day’s notice. I hardly knew what to do with teenaged boys who had no goals, manners or plans for education. I was preoccupied with a toddler of my own, and soon another baby.
In 2001, a horrendous tragedy took the life of 2 people, leaving two of the stepsons imprisoned with 3 life sentences each. The third son was imprisoned a few years later for an unrelated, but deplorable crime. All three in prison.! Now what? Do we write them off? Forget they exist? People hated them.
As I entered the coaching field in 2005, I struggled with my conscience and the need to interrupt a pattern of addiction and abuse in the family I married into. At first, I decided to write them…to be someone who at least cared. Then I discovered bits of their former lives growing up. Like many incarcerated people, they had each:
- Been molested as children,
- Experienced poverty, with very little supervision,
- Had no role models for education, parenting, or healthy lifestyles,
- Were raised in a home of alcoholism and abuse.
This was difficult to understand…and my husband seemed resigned himself. Then in a counseling session, I realized that he had been raised in a similar environment, and didn’t know that it wasn’t normal! I felt a new compassion and understanding.
My communication has been limited to writing. Some prisons have video communication. Phone calls are extremely costly. There is a service where I can email my letter and it is received within 48 hours, or so I’m told. Their response is mailed by USPS and takes a long time to receive. I began sending books. Just maybe, they might read them. I expanded my own ability to forgive, as the crimes were heinous and sending money and books were a stretch for my generosity. My letters were greatly appreciated, since I was the only one writing. Two of the three responded immediately. Then, I shifted again, and decided that if there were anyway possible for them to find a purpose in prison, then that’s what I wanted to cause. Again, they responded. Inside of my own transformation, I decided to be their REAL mother….committing to their well-being, recognizing their years of neglect and hurt, and being a stand for purpose, inner peace, and forgiveness.