Never in a million years would I have ever guessed I would end up engaged to a man in prison. I want to stop any and all negative comments right now and say: No, I am not getting married to a prisoner because I’m desperate and lonely. That is not why women love men in prison. I admit that I thought that too, but once Jon and I got back together, that immediately changed my opinion.

Jon and I met online in a Yahoo! chat room in 2004 and hit it off to the point of me hopping a bus and heading to Kansas. I had NEVER done anything like that. I was 19 years old and in love. What I didn’t know at the time is just how deeply in love I was and would be forever.

Christmas Day 2004, Jon proposed to me. By Valentine’s Day 2005, he had dumped me and broken my heart. What I didn’t know at the time that I do know now is that he dumped me while high on meth. He also dumped me over the phone. Now, before you start hating him, let me tell a little something. In the 9 years that we were apart after that, each and every time we got back in contact, regardless of how short of a time it was, he apologized, first thing. Every. Time. I can’t count the times that he has apologized for doing what he did.

In the 9 years we were apart, we both got married to other people. When I got divorced in 2014, I contacted Jon’s brother. When his brother told me he was in prison, I was shocked. I went to the Oklahoma DOC website and there he was. Jonathan Benson. Lawton Correctional Facility. I knew that if I wrote him, we’d end up getting back together. It just felt right and I was okay with waiting. I knew it would be hard but I knew not being with him was much harder and boy, was I right.

Jonathan BensonI had never written to someone in prison before and I had no earthly idea how to address the envelope to make sure he got it. I used a letter service online that I still use when I want to send him photos. I was on guard at first because I had no idea how, or if, he had changed (due to being incarcerated and just in general) and if he was still the man that I remembered.

I quickly learned that I could let me guard down and I did. I admit that it was scary telling friends and family about getting back together with my ex-boyfriend that was currently incarcerated. I kept it to myself for a while but once I told a few key folks in my life and they reacted much better than I expected, I now tell anyone and everyone that asks. I am not ashamed or embarrassed by this situation. I am proud to be back with Jon because he loves me just as much as I love him and he brings me more joy than I’ve ever felt.

I have had a few instances of negative comments and “you’re crazy” looks from people but that is something I learned quickly to brush off. You can’t let people and the negativity they spew get to you in this situation. It’s hard enough without that. However, it’s all 100% worth it.

I have learned a lot in the 4 months since we got back together and I am still learning every day. The first thing you have to learn is patience. That has never been something I’ve been good with but, in order to not drive myself crazy, I’ve learned it. Everything moves so much slower than you realize. It takes forever to get things done because case managers don’t give a crap about the inmates.

It was two months before we were able to speak on the phone. Most of that time was spent on Jon waiting for his case manager to get him a phone list so he could add my number to it, even though he is supposed to hear from his case manager more often than once every 4 months.

The phone calls go through GTL (GlobelTel Link) and are $3.08 for a 15-minute phone call. If you have your call disconnected or, like we’ve had happen before, he has to hang up and call back because he couldn’t hear me, that money is NOT refunded to you. You lose that $3.08 and there is nothing you can do to get it back. Plus, most of that money is pure profit for the prison. Getting taken advantage of by the “system” is something else you have to get used to.

Megan’s fiance, Jonathan Benson, is a former Corrections  Officer who got caught smuggling meth into prison. Read his story “Breaking Bad: Meth-Selling Prison Guard Now A  Prisoner Himself.”

It took even longer to get me added to his visit list and it was only taken care of because I ended up calling and getting it taken care of. Jon’s case manager ignored his request for many weeks. However, once I was added to his list and I sent in my visitation forms (which requires a background check and a copy of your driver’s license), it took 1 week for me to get approved. Once I knew I was approved, I read up on what you can and cannot wear but, even with that, I still wasn’t 100% sure. I went with a t-shirt, jeans, and some boots. I had to make sure the t-shirt wasn’t blue or white since the inmates there wear blue and the C/O’s wear white.

The day to visit came and I felt very ill prepared. It is a two-hour drive to Lawton Correctional Facility from where I live and the drive there, the first time, seemed to take forever. Thankfully, when I got there, a very nice woman was there, visiting her husband and helped me do what I needed to do. Each time requires paperwork and you leaving your driver’s license up front.

Walking into the front door for that first visit was a little nerve-wracking. I had never even been NEAR a prison, let alone IN one. I was going to be frisked and put through a metal detector. Plus, who knew they wand your hands for narcotics? I sure didn’t know that! Of course, I was worried because I had been touching money and we all know what they say about money and traces of drugs. I washed my hands like I was preparing to perform open-heart surgery before I was called back for visit. Another thing you have to get used to? Basically getting felt up. Of course, so far, I’ve only had females do it and I hope it continues that way but I do know that some women that visit their men in prison aren’t so lucky.

Our first time seeing each other in a little over 4 years took place behind glass. We both knew that would happen and we didn’t care. We just wanted to be able to see each other. Sitting there waiting for him to be brought to visit was a very odd feeling. Put aside the fact that I was about to see the love of my life for the first time in years and let’s focus on the noises. Over and over, you hear the loud slamming of the heavy doors and the loud mechanical locks. That is a very daunting sound when you’re already nervous about being inside a prison. However, you quickly get used to it. Especially when you know you’ll have to hear that noise for many years to come. Plus, all of that falls by the wayside when the only man you’ve ever loved walks in with a big smile on his face. The only thing you hear is his voice. The only thing you see is him.

Being engaged to a man in prison is something I never thought I’d do but I don’t regret a single moment of it and, even though we’ve got about 5 years left, we will make it through. We plan on getting married while he’s in, which will be even more learning for me to do. Being engaged (and eventually married) to a man in prison is a never-ending learning process.

Only the strong survive.