Hi Prison Widow UK. I have been reading your blog for a while now and ready to share my story. Please don't publish my surname but you can use my first name. Thanks in advance.
My name is Cheryl and when I was around 7 years old; I asked my Mum where my Dad was. I felt lonely and embarrassed because I didn't have a father figure in my life. All my friends did so I felt a sense of exclusion when they spoke fondly of their fathers.
All I remember was my Mum telling me that he worked away. She used to read out letters he'd written to me but I still wondered why he wasn't around at special times of the year such as Christmas. Christmas is for families and Dad never came home during that special time of the year. But I carried on with life as normal and accepted that Dad had a job that took him away from me and Mum.
When I was 13, I became a bit more inquisitive because no one can work away from home and seemingly permanently stay away from home?
I spoke to Dad on the telephone once a week, maybe twice, and he didn't spend much time talking to me. Sometimes the line would go dead and he wouldn't phone back.
I was 15 when I overheard my Mum and grandmother talking in the kitchen one day. My grandmother said to Mum; ''the prison is moving him to another one''. I kept quiet but that evening I asked my Mum if Dad was in prison. She started crying and said yes he was.
I stormed out of the house and went to a local park and cried. I don't know who I was upset with the most; Dad for being in prison or Mum for lying to me for years.
I went home eventually and Mum was waiting. She apologised for lying to me and said she did so to protect me.
My Dad was in prison for murder and I couldn't accept this. My Dad was a murderer, why did this have to happen to me?
I refused to speak to him on the telephone and our relationship broke down. Mum and Dad both lied to me and I became rebellious.
As I grew older, I started researching my Dad and found out what he'd done. My Mum told me basic events of what had happened but I didn't trust her and knew she was hiding some facts. I decided to find out for myself and was shocked and devastated when I did.
One day I decided to write Dad a letter. I wanted some answers and he wrote back to me and answered some of them. Not all.
This year I went to visit him in prison and I was petrified, scared of my own Dad. The visit was awkward but I got some answers.
We are taking things slowly, one step at a time, and whilst I will never understand why he did what he did, he is my Dad and is doing well with various courses he is taking in prison. I still can't truly explain how I really feel. Perhaps in time that will come naturally. I want a relationship with my Dad, he's my Dad.
He and my Mum are no longer together. Mum met another guy and Dad is accepting of that and wants her to be happy.
What I find difficult to accept is the betrayal of not being told the truth of where Dad was. I understand to a degree why they both wanted to protect me but it did me no favours at all.
I wish all the children who have a mum or dad in prison all the best and send my love and hugs to each and every one of them. From Cheryl.