Until I am free
It doesn't seem like it's been two and a half years and in retrospect, I'm amazed it's taken me this long to feel like I'm going to explode. Better things are so tantalizingly close.
I am fairly good at making do, finding a silver lining, some way to enjoy myself. Being an introvert comes in handy in this way.
I think the tipping point was realizing the kinds of places I'll be able to live and work after I get out of here. Imagine going to jail as an innocent person and being told eventually you'll be released and have a much better job than the one you had before. You'll be living large, you just have to serve your sentence. Sometimes you just get dealt a bad hand and you can't do anything about it. For a bit you forget that you once lived outside where you could eat what you want, interact with people who weren't inhabitants of the bottom rung of society, choose where you slept and went. You make do with the food, the minimal activities and entertainment, the miserable people that surround you. Somehow you repress your anger at wrongful imprisonment - after all, if you burn bridges, you'll get shanked in the shower. You get used to it and think it's okay, I have my own cell - I've customized things, the prison library has a good collection, and I've discovered my cell mate is another innocent person like me. You form a little club of the innocent ones. You work out together and swap books and contraband. You find solace in solidarity. You become the model inmate and everyone tells you how glad they are that a crooked judge had it out for you. Things don't seem all that bad! Heck, they even give you medals every so often to distinguish you from the rest.
Then a family member visits. There are the usual pleasantries. Unlike the last several times, they start telling you about the places they're looking at getting a house for you, and tell you about where you'll be going when you get out, where you'll work. It's coming up soon, after all. Suddenly everything floods back. You're not supposed to be there. You're going home soon, to a house, real society, and a job that doesn't involve folding inmate laundry without pay. The life you've gotten used to, it's not really a life. You won't always have to tolerate being surrounded by scumbags, being ordered when to eat and sleep and go outside. It's like a cruel joke, a social experiment.
The trick you played on yourself to maintain your sanity doesn't work anymore.
You've seen through it and there's no going back.