Shock Waves That Ripple Through Time
Sometimes there are painful events that occur in our lives but the violence is time-limited. How does one repair the damage that keeps repeating and echoing across time? Every opportunity lost as a result of this event and what it said about my character, is another flesh cut on the soul of my existence. This was like the waves that roll in upon the shores at Wrightsville Beach... At once those waves brought serenity and I cuddled with Lynn, my love.
Then, at some point, after I tried to help some women in 2000, I found myself in a place where it felt like I was waking up with the beach water covering me... I got pulled out and each event is like drowning... like tasting that bitter saltwater that you swallow sometimes when a big wave comes and your mouth hasn't closed in time and you take a breath... trying to breathe, I choke on the saltwater.
Each job lost because of a criminal record built on lies has felt like violent waves and undertow pulling me under. I sometimes have felt that feeling that precedes vomiting. I do my best always to avoid vomiting. I wouldn't make it with an eating disorder. Each time I had to answer questions about my criminal history it has been so painful and surreal. I feel like I am drowning.
I had asked someone at a local church how I could still believe in God with all that I had seen. She would draw a parallel to the story of Jesus - crucified though he did no wrong. Over the years, I often have wondered why I am alive and forced to endure a life without meaning. That is why I sought to end my life in December of 2019. It wasn't a cry for help. I wanted out. Had I succeeded, I would not have asked Mary at the local Catholic Church, how one could believe in the stories I was told as a boy growing up Catholic.
I've had this phobia about these matters and been afraid to discuss them for so long. A phobia can be paralyzing. That is exactly what I have experienced - a paralyzing phobia of anything to do with living and facing these issues. I was afraid that if you found out about the truth you might hurt me. At a minimum, I feared that you might not know how much I need protection.
I did finally tell some supportive people. The first time was to a girl in the hospital. She was so supportive. Then there were others in the hospital who were very sympathetic and compassionate.
When I told Kira in the hospital about the false allegations and claims made by Ana, she said she was "100% certain" that I could not do that. I thought at that moment, "of course, you are. Why would anyone think that someone who dedicated his life to helping others who are in emotional distress choose to cause emotional distress in another person?" We would not do that because we know what it is like to hurt or to be scared.
It still hurts that I might be denied a chance to work with children as a volunteer or adopt. Of course, it hurts. It is an assault on my sense of reality. It's patently absurd to believe that I would hurt someone. I know that for those who don't know me those are just words. They are my reality in which I will live.
The problem is that I cannot yet rearrange the reality of the rest of the world to synchronize and align with my own reality. People can choose to deny me those things that would bring me joy... jobs, the right to adopt a child, the opportunity to volunteer in certain situations.
The biggest barrier to these dreams, goals, and aspirations of mine is the lie that started with a woman named Ana. That lie could block me and has kept me from the things that others take for granted and enjoy - the knowledge that others see you in a way consistent with who you are. Ana told a lie where she was not a violent attacker but a victim. The police officers who heard her and had not seen me after the attack believed her. The newspaper printed the story... the real victim - me - was put in jail for seven months.
When a person experiences victimization the support one receives from others to the victimization predicts their later health and well-being in life. Similarly, a lack of proper support and a lack of a proper response to victimization predicts further problems in life. Instead of a family asking if I was okay after I was brutally attacked, I was alone. Instead of getting victim services, I was put in jail. As an update to the story, the Orange County Rape Crisis Center ( I live in Orange County NC) is treating me as a victim and my healing is hopefully going to continue. The person with that agency who helps me is awesome but they can't do everything for me.
The laws have to change so that we can challenge the determinations of made within the system - by courts, police, and others. It's about freedom - the freedom to live a life that one desires and a life that has meaning for each and every person. For me, that life was social in nature. It was also related to helping others.
This story is not just about justice or injustice. We are so far beyond that now. It's about reality itself and that was going to be the title of this book. I wanted my reality to align with your reality, dear reader. Were it not for a few malicious people and a broken system, I would never ask if you inhabited a different reality... It would never have occurred to me to wonder if you are wondering if I could have done something violent and harmful to another person.
That's a reality that was stolen from me. The reality where I hung out with Lynn at the place where she worked which doubled as a shelter for young kids who were runaways (and in other similar circumstances) that was a reality that was taken from me. There wasn't anything I did that would justify a change in that reality. It was taken from me. Were it not for circumstances beyond my control, I would be volunteering at places like that or maybe I would volunteer at a rape crisis center. Maybe I would volunteer at a psychiatric hospital with people who have schizophrenia... maybe I would be getting paid to do these things as part of my career.
So, you see this is about something much bigger than a single action or a few actions that occurred in the past. This is quite literally an assault on reality - a once shared and aligned reality. Exactly how do we realign our realities?
If I really was capable of hurting another person, I wouldn't be asking these questions. I wouldn't care what anyone things nor would I be trying to help others or perhaps do any of the activities I mentioned... Note, the word "really" as I said if I really was. We are not just talking about a few jobs that I lost. We are talking about reality itself - mine and yours. That's why I am writing this. I want to take you along through my life. I wish I could show you what actually happened at each and every moment.
I haven't applied for enough jobs in my field to find out if I can inhabit a shared reality with others where my character is not questioned. I was lead astray and told I couldn't do those things. I have always wanted to be a father as far back as I can remember but I'd have to use the adoption process to do that now unless I married someone very young. It's not an issue of my financial situation that worries me. That might be improved if I inhabited the same reality I once knew... a reality where the world seemed open to me and life seemed full of hope and opportunity. The lies of others took that from me, seemingly forever.
I understand that it's hard to wrap your mind around the concepts presented here but that's the point. You likely cannot imagine such profound injustice and unimaginable pain that comes from having years of living according to the highest of moral principles reduced to meaningless facts that only you know with complete certainty. It has never made sense to me how morally righteous I have been while simultaneously being characterized in such a false manner.
The mere thought that you or anyone would question my right to adopt based on my character is a singular event that shatters our shared reality. Again, I understand that this is hard to understand and that is the point. I can't show you everything that's happened in my life and how firmly I have been committed to proper actions. I felt I had entered a fantasy world that only Lewis Carroll, the author of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through The Looking Glass" could imagine. It felt literally that surreal and Kafkaesque.
Note: There was a point when I explained this to my counselor at Vocational Rehabilitation and he said that my situation was not like that presented in Franz Kafka's "The Trial" because I knew that with which I had been charged. The problem was that I had been singularly harmed so viciously that I was the one bleeding profusely and this had been observed by the Durham police. Yet, years later, someone wonders if I myself am dangerous! I haven't so much as raised my voice to a person and certainly lacked any capacity for even self-defense! I know that's embarrassing for a guy to admit but I never had an experience where I genuinely thought I should learn how to act in self-defense.
So, I don't care, call me a sissy and a wimp. I've felt that way my whole life and while I live in my home in Carrboro, NC, I don't fear anyone's going to hurt me for being feminine.
This concept of reality is what is hardest to convey to others. The feeling that comes from my imagining your questions about my past or future behavior and whether you would trust me fractures that reality that I once knew. There is the time when I hang out at the children's and teens' shelter where Lynn was working without giving it a second thought and then there is the reality where my true identity was distorted beyond recognition.
I was telling someone that my cat knows my true identity and character. He goes only on my actual behaviors. If I had a bad temper, he would act nervous and/or demonstrate other compensatory mannerisms. Instead, he is quite serene and curious. To my credit, I can say that I am very nurturing with him which I believe also creates that sense of serenity in his nature. He's not suspicious. He doesn't look up when I come into the room where he is eating - he's not concerned about whether I will do something unpredictable and unexpected.
The person to whom I told this said I know these things about myself and she is right. I do know myself. I don't assume the projections of other malicious people who have wrongly characterized me. However, there was a time when my reality was not something I imagined would differ from that of anyone else's reality. I never imagined that there would be any ideas floating out there anywhere that would make anyone doubt that they could trust me!
Things happened and reality itself was fractured. Each time it happened in the blink of an eye. One minute I am one person to everyone who looks upon me and my life the next I am someone else.
My sense of safety was also shattered. It seemed that people I had expected to protect me might not be there to protect me. That's a scary feeling when you don't know who will protect you or care about your well-being.
Everyone needs to feel safe and we all want to feel like we inhabit the same reality as others. What does one do when that changes?