Sunday, December 22, 2013

When your own life is the leading story

The following is a message I received by email from another woman who has gone through a very similar situation. She writes so well about something we will all understand:
"I think so many folks are inclined to think that stories like this only lie within the fringes of society, or are the makings of Jerry Springer spots.  It's so easy to flip on the news or read the paper and see the stories as distant, removed - the problems of all those "other people."  There really aren't words for the day when you find that your own life is the leading story on the 11 o'clock news and the front page of the newspaper. I don't have any friends that are divorced, much less have spouses or family members, or even distant acquaintances who have been convicted of felony crimes.  My husband and I were active in our community and church, good-standing members of society.  I find that my friends, family, and colleagues don't even know what to say and most have opted to simply ignore that anything has even happened.  It's as if even the mere reference to my husband will taint them in some foul, repulsive way.  To this day, I'm still greeted by many with looks of pity or masked sympathy, when I know that the unspoken question from so many is "how could she not have known? how could she have married such a monster?  what kind of issues does she have to have been attracted to someone like that?" I don't kid myself into thinking that people really don't make those kind of judgments. 
"I confide in you on these points not so much because I'm dwelling on what other people think, but because I find that other than through professional counseling, there is virtually no support for women in our circumstances. I'm not trying to play victim when I say that - I take full responsibility for who I married and chose to have children with.  I don't expect society to come running to my rescue.  But I do think it's helpful to connect with each other and others in similar circumstances from time to time. . . It's just comforting in some ways to know that there are others who have experienced similar experiences and truly understand the pain and trauma of something so devastating."

When I first received an email from this woman, I asked her if she would like to share on this blog. She declined, saying that she wasn't ready to talk about her story, but in that second email was also the message above. I thought it was worth sharing. If anyone else out there wants to share a message, you don't have to give personal details of your life story because sometimes a sympathetic message to others in your situation is enough.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kid at Heart

Today around 10 am, I was hiding in the bathroom at work, crying. You will wonder, what sort of terrible life event could drive a grown woman to burst into tears in a professional environment. Was someone diagnosed with cancer? Did I get laid off again? Did my car break down? No and no and no.

Shamefully, I would like to confide in you that I was crying because I wasn't on the employee gift list. Seriously. I am a temp, hired through a third-party agency, working at the nicest company on the planet and I'm thankful EVERY day . . . except today for ten minutes in the morning when I was a heartbroken little kid because they didn't think to include temps on the company gift list. And the gifts are really nice. And it was my job to package them all . . . alllllll those pretty gifts, sigh.

But that is not my point! After my little meltdown, as I was looking in the mirror and wiping mascara off my cheeks, I thought, "What a funny thing to have lived through the hell I've lived through and then start crying over a silly present." You would think that I'd grown some thicker skin and risen above such trifles.

I pondered this all day (especially after management realized their heartless oversight and added temps to the gift list and it was much easier to contemplate everything serenely) and I came to this conclusion. When life gets hard, I respond with a survivor's instinct. I act tough and power through. I accept that life is cruel and I should count myself lucky for not having it worse. However, there is still a kid in my heart who wants to have the happy, sparkling life. ESPECIALLY AT CHRISTMAS! I want twinkling lights, presents, and yummy foods. I want to have fun and forget that life is hard and unfair.

This time of year has no less challenges despite being marked as the "Holidays". I'm still sharing a house with my parents, two kids, and four cats. I still am financially strapped. I'm still not solidly employed. And I'm still struggling with depression.

And then there was that letter Jake sent, which didn't help. He wrote such a "nice" letter, filled with descriptions about his life and his deep thoughts. He said he thought we should stay in contact and have an ongoing conversation because someday he'll be back in the kids' lives and so this would make it easier . . . I hate him. I hate that he's going to do this. He's going to act nice, like the good guy, and play it up for sympathy. It kills me that HIS life seems easy. He's learning a new trade in prison. He's part of some kind of group that explores their personal problems together and tries to heal and grow. Everyone likes him and looks up to him and thinks he's great. But here I am, still reeling from the emotional and financial turmoil he left us in. He concluded his letter with "Please tell the girls that I love them and miss them."

I'm going to write him back and ask him not to send me any more personal letters. I am also going to remind him that he cannot have contact with children under 18, including his own children, not even passive communication. Some of you will think this is harsh and cold. But Jake is a con man. He is manipulative and coercive. I don't fear for myself any more, but I feel strongly in my heart that he will enter my kids' lives again only to take advantage of them somehow. Will it be sex? Or money? Or just to play their emotions like a yo-yo? Well, my job as a parent is to protect my kids from con men and to teach them how to protect themselves.

And after I write that letter, I will write Christmas cards to the good people in my life. I will forget my problems for a few weeks, maybe, and let my kid-at-heart have the Christmas she wants so badly. Happy holidays to all of you. I hope you are surrounded with those you love and those who love you. I hope you feel safe and happy through the new year. God bless you and your kid-at-heart!

By the way, please forgive me for being absent for six months. I plan to continue this blog and I have some nice ideas to make it more of a community project. Just be patient with me, I have a lot on my plate and I tend to get weepy when I get overloaded (as demonstrated!).

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Share your story with me

I don't know what kind of magic has been working lately, but I'm starting to get some actual activity on this blog! Holy cow, I'm not talking to myself . . . which makes me a little more self-conscience. But excited, too.

So I want to ask a question of other people going through similar situations - do you want to share your stories on this blog? I'm not sure how this would work, so let's play it by ear. Send me something in a decent blog length, maybe somewhere between 300 and 2000 words that you want to share. It could be your whole story or just a piece of it or your opinion on some piece of this nasty puzzle we are all trapped in.

I may not print everything that is sent to me or I may just print a part of something. I withhold my right to pick and choose. I promise I won't censor based on whether or not I agree with you. Variety is good, it will be welcome! Emotions will be welcome. Anything that will hurt other readers here will not be welcome.

You may use your real name or a pen name or just go by Anonymous. I will make it very clear that it is a guest blog and give credit to the name you want to go by.

Send your stories to

I'll be waiting!
(And, as always, I encourage you all to start your own blogs. The more of us talking, the less scary this all will be)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I don't like men or sex = FALSE

I'm rather vocal about my opinions on appropriate sexual behavior, especially regarding behavior between adults and children (I wonder where that came from). I'm also pretty vocal on issues of gender stereotypes and rape culture, which I believe are all closely related and deeply rooted flaws of our society concerning sexuality.

I feel like people who don't know me very well and who hear my opinions on sexual/gender matters tend to make two faulty assumptions about me:

 #1  I don't like men.

I mentioned in my last post that I don't easily trust men. That could confuse people into thinking that I don't like men. I actually think that men and women are not very different. I think we are made of the same stuff and have very similar potential for character. I also think that from an early age we are bombarded with messages that we are different. I think most of us get brainwashed before we hit puberty by all of the gender stereotypes and sexual messages. I like men, but I don't like what media and society tells them to be. And I really hate when men believe those messages, which most do.

I wish boys growing up could receive more positive messages about their emotions and ability to nurture. The good men out there are often described as being "in touch with their feminine sides", but instead, I believe, they are just awake to their own natural abilities to be a decent human despite the lies they were told growing up. This is why I protest gender stereotypes and balk every time someone says, "You think that way because you're a woman!" Or "Only a man could understand." My eyes roll every time I hear this crap - and they roll A LOT. 

#2 I don't like sex

This past week, a man in the writing group I've been attending (I will be quitting after this) concocted a story in which a 42-year-old man developed a romantic relationship with a 17-year-old girl. His story line was full of deception and twisted logic. It disturbed me greatly, but when I spoke up about my issues with it he declared me puritanical and implied that I'm lacking in sexuality. I just nodded. I've heard that before said by different people in different ways. Inside my head, I was thinking that I've probably had a more interesting and healthy sex life than him - sadly including my long relationship with a sex addict and sex offender, which definitely has marred my sexuality, but I still think I'm healthier than this guy!

My real problem with sex right now is that I'm not getting any because it is really hard to date as a single mom. My options kinda suck at the moment, but don't let me digress . . . I have one more story on this topic.

A male friend of mine recently went into a rant about how he can't get laid. I laughed because it was awkward, but I was totally sympathetic! I'm lonely! I'm sexually frustrated! But I don't say it out loud. Just because I don't talk to everyone about how much I like sex doesn't mean that I don't like it.

I've thought a lot about that conversation since then. I think society taught my friend as a male that it was okay to talk about his sexuality. It's okay for him to be overtly sexual. But as a woman, I was taught to hide it. I completely sympathized with him, but I couldn't tell him that. This is sad for both of us. It makes both genders lonely and divided. I can see why men say that women are confusing. He internalized it as a problem with himself, but so many men might as easily turn it around as a problem with women. Men find women confusing and women find men brutish. Maybe if we stopped promoting the differences between the sexes, maybe if we paid more attention to our similarities and tried to use a little sympathy, (maybe if men weren't brainwashed into thinking they need to take sex from others) maybe then we wouldn't have so many problems. 

Another thing, I keep the details of my previous marriage pretty quiet because I don't want to be judged by it. I don't like when people say, "You feel strongly about this because of what you went through." That's a load of BS. I've been awakened to the issues of society because of what I went through. Everyone should care about protecting children from sexual exploitation.

You shouldn't have to be a certain gender to appreciate healthy sexual activity or to recognize unhealthy sexual behavior. There are real reasons for why there are more male sex offenders than female, but I think only a small part of that is due to natural differences of the genders. I think society has produced most of the monsters I fear. I think the best way to fight it is to talk about it . . . although there are days when I'm sure that I'd get more dates if I'd shut up. But I don't really want a man who is scared away by a woman who is willing to stand up for what is right. Right?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trust - what's that? (ideas on child safety and romance)

Could there be a more complicated thing than trust? I find love much easier. I can love many more people than I can trust. I can love people without fully trusting them. I can forgive many trespassers in my life, but it is likely I will never trust them again. To me, that's just logical.

But you have to give some trust to some people, especially when you have kids. The hardest person to trust is the one you don't know. But then, the most dangerous person is likely the one you think you really know - the one who you already trust. Anyone who has a close connection to a sex offender has experienced this phenomenon.

It is natural for us to have trust issues. All my trust issues are centered around my children. I can get very paranoid about the people I leave them with or allow them to have contact with. I'm not just worried about sexual abuse, I'm worried about any caregiver in any way not cultivating a healthy environment for my kids, whether it may be physically, emotionally, or socially. I have spent many hours in the middle of the night fretting and crying over these things. Here's the thing, though, I don't think I'm wrong in worrying about these things. I don't think I'm crazy, even though I feel crazy sometimes. What I do think is that we live in a society of people wearing rose-colored glasses, giving trust away undeserved, because, well, it's easier that way. I think I know better than most people that I SHOULD worry about how our flawed society is affecting our children, especially in sexual ways.

Let me back up, though, to shortly after Jake was first arrested. My emotions were torn apart and my sensibilities about the world were confused. Everything I had known seemed false and my whole self felt like a raw wound. Everyone I looked at, from family to social worker, I considered as a possible sexual predator. How could I know? Momentarily, I even had doubts about my own family. I reassured myself many times that if my parents and my brother didn't sexually abuse me as a child - and they didn't - then I didn't need to worry. But the sad truth is that sex offenders might pick one child and not another, one generation and not another. You never know. Not knowing had me paralyzed as a parent for a long time. I didn't feel like there was anyone other than myself that I could trust with my kids. I was a prisoner of distrust.

A strange thing started me on the road out of that funk. I was asked by my social worker, Umbridge, to go to her office and watch an educational video. Grooooaan. She tried to make if more comfortable for me by inviting a bunch of her coworkers to watch it as a training exercise. That actually made it worse because they all treated me like the leper of the group. The video, however, was very helpful. It was called Darkness to Light and discussed steps to prevent sexual abuse. It was good to learn the statistics on child sexual abuse and it was good to be given some guidelines for prevention. There was something more though, something about it that gave me a sense of empowerment. It planted ideas that worked on me slowly. How it changed me was so subtle, that it's hard to describe. I started putting a context and structure to my fears, which was important because then I could decide what was within the realm of my control. Guess what? A lot of things are in my control as a parent. Those are my kids, damn it. Mine. I get to say who takes care of them. I get to pick the conditions. If I don't like it, then I get to point that out and ask for a change. If that caregiver can't change, then I get to pick another caregiver. That video helped me realize that I had been giving so much of my parenting control away because I thought that was how things worked - you know, like saying okay to a dentist that won't let parents into the exam room because the parents' anxiety might upset the kid - but I woke up to the knowledge that I can keep my parenting control. It's mine, after all. And I can be vocal about it without being rude or obnoxious. I won't lie, it has led me into a few uncomfortable moments I wished I could have avoided, but better my discomfort than my kids being led into abuse, right? Mostly though, I am respected for being an advocate of my children's safety. I get positive responses when I make my expectations clear. A good childcare provider who has had the right training will be happy to show that they know how to create a safe environment and cultivate healthy attitudes.

Of course, a sexual predator will hide behind the same things that we trust and give us false reassurance. I believe in choosing environments that have open layouts and multiple adults to minimize the chances of anything being hidden. I also believe in surprise visits. You should always be able to drop-in on the place where your child is being kept - I don't care if it is grandma's house, your best friend's house, or the babysitter's. But really, the most powerful thing is communication with your child. You have to wait until your child is three-years-old or more before you can ask them about their day, but it is such a great tool once you get there.

Even then, talking to your child can be tricky. Establishing the conversation early helps. My 4-year-old, Elise, and I talk every couple weeks about body parts, privacy versus secrets, respect, and anything else I can think of that will introduce safe ways to navigate life. It's valuable. Today Elise told me that some boys at preschool were talking about "private things". My stomach turned, but at least I knew she would be able to answer my next questions: What private things? Were they talking about private body parts? Were they keeping secrets? Her answers were clear: Pee and poop, no body parts, and no secrets. Whew. It sounds simple, but if I hadn't given her the knowledge of body parts or privacy how could she answer? If I hadn't explained that some secrets can be dangerous then she might not tell me if someone asks her to keep one. I don't know if this works with every kid, but I feel pretty confidant that it works with her. Hopefully the conversations can grow with her so she'll always feel safe to come to me. Trust between myself and my kids is probably the trust I care about most.

My anonymous commenter who turned me onto the subject of trust was probably thinking more about men - the ones we might be romantically interested in. Alas, I have no words of wisdom, only empathy. I find it extraordinarily more difficult to trust  men than women. I feel this is unfair and discriminatory of me, and yet, it is how I am now. I could not leave my kids at a daddy daycare or let a man babysit, other than my father or brother. When we were still dating, my ex-boyfriend asked me why I acted weird whenever he volunteered to babysit. I explained to him that after each time I leave my kids with someone I ask my kids questions to make sure nothing inappropriate happened and I didn't want to have to do that with him. It really upset him. He thought I was doubting his character without reason. I wouldn't say I was doubting it, but I was playing it safe for the sake of my kids. And isn't that my job? I can trust a man again with my heart, but I'm not sure I can trust one with my kids. Maybe in the future we should all discuss methods of dating for single parents because right now I feel like the safest method is to wait until both kids are 18!

By the way, anonymous, I would love to read more about your story and thoughts. I would love to read anyone's stories about their relationships and dealings with sex offenders, even if they feel and act differently from myself. I think we need a community. I think we need to learn from each other and have each others' support. The more vocal we are, the better recovery will be. And if someone outside of our situation reads it, the better they will sympathize. We also have an opportunity to make our society a safer place for kids through our unique perspective. But first we have to start talking out loud. I hope to hear more from you. 

P.S. I was working on this while my girls were in the tub. I was just about to hit publish when Elise dropped the bar of soap and it slipped between Sabrina's legs. Elise reached to get it and it made Sabrina giggle. Elise didn't find the soap, but she reached between Sabrina's legs again to make her giggle again. I had to pull her out of the tub and have a talk - again - about private body parts and respecting other people's bodies (even when they giggle). Obviously, it is an ongoing conversation. Sigh!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Hidden Blessings

So the guy I've been dating for three months just broke up with me on Sunday. Basically, he thought I was going to break up with him so he decided to preemptively strike out at me by picking on the things I'm most concerned and self-conscious about. He hurt me, he really did. Ironically, I wasn't planning on dumping him, that was just his mistake. Of course, after he made me feel like crap on the bottom of his shoe, I wasn't going to correct his bad assumption. I went right along with his script and I'm quickly recovering.

However, there is a weird sadness that lingers from all of this because he seemed like such a good guy right up until the break up. We had some disagreements before this stuff, but nothing that wasn't livable. He was great with the kids - really freaking great. I find myself sighing over how near-perfect he was . . . and then I remind myself how thankful I should be that he revealed his true colors before we got any more serious. There is a big blessing in finding out who someone really is. I am so glad that my ex-boyfriend volunteered this little scene to expand my awareness of his character.

This brings me to the hidden blessings of Jake's arrest and all the drama I endured because of it. It is a blessing that his true character was revealed. It is a blessing that someone reported him to the police. It is a blessing that I didn't have to figure these things out on my own and make the decision to turn him in. It is a blessing that I didn't get an STD from his extra-marital affairs. It is a blessing that my kids were not abused. In so many ways, I am relieved that everything happened when and how it did.

It is a tough road to find out that your spouse is a sex offender. It breaks your heart and tears up your family. But there is a second chance that is born out of it. The biggest blessing is being given choices. I had several wise people encourage me to start making decisions based on what is best for me and my children. It took a long time for me to grow into that idea, but it has served me well. My life is incredibly flawed right now, but I feel so free compared to the situation I left. I wouldn't go back for all the money in the world. And I won't settle for a flawed relationship, even with a near-perfect man. I like having my choices and I like having a second chance. I hope that every spouse of a sex offender finds this personal freedom. You don't have to choose to leave your spouse - just make sure your choice is really best for you and not just a guilt reflex from that "till death do us part" line. I'm guessing that vow was already broken by the sex offender and it isn't your job to fix it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

After Divorce

Ah, anonymous commenters, you bring me back every time. The latest comment reminded me of how long it has been since I posted - three months! And so much has happened.


My divorce from Jake was finalized in April. It was such a strange process. We worked though our lawyers to come up with a separation agreement. It was incredibly awkward since he is in prison and has very limited ability to talk to his lawyer. He wouldn't agree to let me change the kids' names to my maiden name - no surprise there. He also wanted me to pay off one of his debts as part of the divorce. This sent me through the roof with anger. I recently had to file bankruptcy because I couldn't afford childcare, let alone credit card payments left over from my destructive marriage. I feel like my unfortunate financial circumstances all lead back to him. I don't want to be childish, but in all fairness, HE owes ME money and great apologies. Instead, my lawyer talked me into appeasing him by promising that if he is ever taken to court and forced to pay off the credit card then I will forgive him from having to pay a portion of child support. This is all quite laughable - and I laughed like an insane person gone manic when my lawyer came up with it because: A) the state of Colorado doesn't believe that incarcerated persons should have to pay child support, B) the debt is so small that it is unlikely any credit card company will care enough to take him to court, and C) even after he is out he will never pay me child support as long as he lives because he has a knack for wiggling out of all responsibilities. Basically, I got nothing out of the divorce except my freedom from him and a huge lawyer bill.

At least I have a few years before he can get visitation with the kids. I fear the time when he will have access to them. How will he con them? Will it be for sex or money? God help me that I have to lay awake at night worrying about these things. Well, before he can see them he has to be out of prison and through a certain amount of sex offender treatment. Any visitation will be supervised. There is a little comfort in that, I suppose.

I thought I had six years to prepare for the time when the kids would be exposed to him again. Six years was what I believed his earliest release date would be with good behavior. However, when I looked Jake up in the prison system, they have his first parole hearing listed just three years from now. My heart sank when I saw that. Just three years. Do I dare hope that they routinely deny parole for a few years? I am terrified for my kids. They don't deserve to have such a father. They really don't deserve to have him reintroduced to their lives while they're too young to understand his manipulative ways. How can I protect them?

Well, I am thankful that the divorce is final. I have a second chance to choose a better life for myself and the kids. It's been hard. We're poor. But we're often happy despite everything else. In terms of the future, I'll just have to hope for the best.

Friday, February 8, 2013

My Friend

Last time I blogged – you know, right after I googled the name of a new friend only to find out that he had recently gotten out of prison for killing a cyclist while driving drunk - I was freaking out a little. Let me update you about that freak out and about my friend, the ex-con.

I shouldn’t call him an ex-con. It’s accurate, but I think he deserves something kinder, something that reflects the fact that he paid the debt that society asked him to pay and he is rebuilding his life . . . As you can see, I’ve decided not to condemn him in my personal sphere.

Sure, I freaked out about his past. It hurt me that someone I already had accepted as a friend had such a dark history. It angered me that he had so recklessly taken the life of another person. And it scared me that he was likely an alcoholic because it brings this question to my mind: Do I gravitate toward addicts, like my husband? It seems that some women are drawn into abusive relationships over and over. Am I drawn to charming, manipulative, selfish men? It is a scary, scary thought that will keep me out of the dating realm for a long time . . . but I digress. [Note, this man was never a romantic interest to me]

It took me a few weeks to really process this new discovery a la google. I avoided him in the meantime. I let the news stories I had read online percolate in my head. His mug shot. The angry and mournful comments from the community that stretched out below each article. I was angry right along with them. But there was one comment that softened my thoughts:

I knew this man 20 years ago … what a terrible shock. . . . As a cyclist, I share the outrage of the community and am confused by his lenient sentence. As the old friend of a talented, but self-destructive artist, I can’t help but be saddened by all the wasted potential that this event represents – a tragedy in the true sense. My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s friends and family – though I’ll save a few for my old friend, too.

I was relieved to see that someone else - someone who knew him once - believed in his value, even if he had disappointed them. It gave me leeway to start believing my own intuition about him. I went about my life without making an attempt to think about him, but in the background I knew my brain was merging the man I had befriended with the cold facts I had learned.

Something else was happening in my brain. More and more each day, I admitted to myself that I was having a problem separating my new friendship from the lingering pain created by my husband. These two men are very different. My husband has not yet served his time or done anything to repay society. I pray he will reach that point someday. I pray that he will exit the correctional system and find a place in the community where he can be useful, accepted, and even find healthy friendships and loving relationships – not from me, mind you, but I do want that for him. So if I want that for the man who has created such damage in my life . . . then I think it is okay to help someone else accomplish those same goals. Or, at the very least, not hinder him.

I finally  made two big decisions. First, I decided that I didn’t want to be the kind of person that couldn’t forgive, especially when the offense didn’t involve me. From the legal perspective, my friend had done his time and even been released early for good behavior. Second, I decided that I would never haunt a friend of mine with their past. I won’t confront him about it or question his personal penance. After all, I don’t want my own past haunting me.

The decision I hadn’t made was whether or not I was going to continue a friendship with him. It was easy to avoid him, so I gave myself permission to take as long as I wanted with it.

One morning I was sitting at Starbucks, typing away at my email. At a table very close to me sat two women. They were trendy, polished ladies, each staring at their smart phones even while they talked to each other. I was trying to tune their voices out while I worked, but little bits would slip through. One of them was talking about a high school friend that she had reconnected with over facebook. I tuned her out for a moment until she said, “He’s been in prison for the last fifteen years!” That’s when I very actively started listening. She sounded offended at his past, of which all she seemed to know about was his incarceration, but not the reason for it.

Her friend sympathetically replied, “You unfriended him, right?”

“Oh yeah,” she said.

That burned me to the core. Neither of them had stopped to contemplate what his crime was or whether he had changed his ways. Neither of them thought about what he was trying to do with his life now or what kind of grace they could offer him. I felt so strongly offended by their quick condemnation that I almost told them what cold bitches I thought they were. Instead, I packed up my stuff and paid my friend a visit. e’sHhhHhhh

That visit was a delight. In his office, where we were chatting, I suddenly was very aware of all the clips of articles, poetry, and handwritten notes he had pinned to his wall. They had to do with faith, resilience, following one’s passion, being optimistic, and seeking peace. He’s in the business of helping people, so I had always thought those clippings were there to motivate others, but now I hope it reflects his own journey, as well. He was happy to see me and I was happy to see him. We talked away for an hour. It was nice. I was sure then that I can be his friend.

One last thing . . .

Yesterday, I was at Walmart in the auto garage to get a tire fixed and my overdue oil change done. The rough-looking men who work there usually make me feel like I need to keep a wide birth. When I act that way, they respond in kind. This time, though, I felt like I should treat each of them like a member of my family - dad, son, brother. We chatted and joked and laughed. As I left, the men all gave me a cheerful goodbye, just like I was a friend who always visits. I can’t help but feel like this new ability to befriend unknown - and somewhat threatening looking - people stemmed from the whole dilemma above. I think maybe all the crap I’ve gone through and all the damage I’ve suffered might actually make me a better person! Go figure.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Year, New Ways

I am one of those people who likes new year's resolutions. I made some great ones last year. I didn't achieve all of them, but I worked on each a bit, which makes me proud. This year, I decided to renew a few of last year's resolutions - do more yoga and learn spanish - plus, I've been forming some rather unique new ones. One of the most important is that I won't beat myself up for being a good person. It sounds silly, I know, but my last post was full of detest for my "good" self, so I felt that I had to decide whether I would hate myself, change myself, or accept myself. I decided that being a good person was not something that I should be fighting. The real problem is that I need to be smarter and safer.

That leads to the second resolution: I will google people more. You might be laughing, but as I'm building a new life for myself I am letting new people into it, rapidly. If I have a tool in my hand that will give me some background about those that I am befriending then I should use it! This is a big deal to me because I am also a polite person and "googling" someone feels impolite. It even feels a little sneaky. It feels so strange, in fact, that it took me the first 20 days into the new year before I decided to do it.

Drumroll for my first google project . . . I made a new friend, a man quite a bit older than myself. I enjoy his company. He seems smart and kind. He flatters me to a ridiculous extent, which made me question whether he is flirting with me. I feel a mix of pleasure and discomfort in his presence. It bothered me to the point that he became my first google project. I sighed as I pulled up an old news article from the google list with his mug shot on it. Several years ago he killed a cyclist while drunk driving. The article pointed out that it was not his first incident of drunk driving. He went to prison for several years.

Lord almighty, a felon and possible alcoholic. Just my luck.

This brings me to my third resolution: don't hide significant things from the people who matter. Like anyone else, I have a tendency to glaze over information that I believe my family and friends will criticize. It might be a natural and normal habit, but I've decided it is immature and sometimes harmful. The people who have proven their love for me in the last few years are exactly the people I should be sharing the story of my life with and trusting them to help me form a healthier, safer existence.

My google project is a good example because, even as I read the article, I knew that I would probably still give him a chance at friendship. My instinct was to not mention any of this to my mother, who I feared would judge me as a fool for being kind to a convict. However, I was true to my resolution and told her about the story. I shared it in a black humor tone, starting with "Do you want to hear something awful?" After the story, she just looked sad and shook her head, but didn't say anything harsh. I figure I'll give her a day to soak it in and then ask her what she thinks about it tomorrow.

And if my mother suggests that I stay away from the convicted drunk driving murderer? Well, that makes sense. I'll be glad that my mother wants me safe. And I might even listen to her . . . But he did serve his time and has been "rehabilitated". He is probably sober. He might be terribly repentent and needs the world to give him a chance . . . Or he is a manipulative addict looking for a good person to be his patsy.

Well, this debate could go on a while, so I'm going to set it on the shelf for a week or so . . . In the meantime, I will just be satisfied that I am keeping to my new resolutions.

Oh yeah, Jake was sentenced to 8 years in prison for combined counts of sexual assault and attempted sexual assault on a minor by a person in a position of trust. This news is still soaking into my head and heart. I'm not exactly disappointed or upset by it. I figure I can take my time in forming my opinion and reaction on this news.