Dark Places

I was caught. Surrounded by a group of girls, accusing me of having sex with one of their friends, as my girlfriend stood nearby, crying. I was relentless in my resistance to the inescapable reality of my predicament and complete dishonest in my defense. Nothing I could do but quote an old song by Shaggy, “It wasn’t me.” I only tell you this because it was a catalyst in the drama that was to come later and a moment I will never forget.
Later that night, I called my girlfriend who was staying at her friend’s house. She wouldn’t talk to me, so her friend’s mom got on the phone (a woman who once adored me) and began laying in on me. Telling me what a horrible person I was the kind of guy who “lived” in dark places and would never amount to anything. I’d been yelled at before, called worse by much bigger people but for some reason these words would come to have a big impact on me. Now, this isn’t the most momentous or life altering experience I’ve faced but the words are important because they speak a truth of who I was for many years.
Dark places aren’t always as straight forward as one may think. May times these dark places are in our minds, always with us no matter where we go. There is no escaping this problem because you can never escape yourself. When you spend years thinking a certain way, it begins to warp your perception of reality, until people no longer recognize the person you’ve become. The crazy part is that you normalize your behavior and maybe even come to defend it.
I don’t want to live in dark places anymore, avoiding change and just accepting the relative comfort of having to do nothing, which prison provides. I’ve decided that I have to do more, help others in any way I can and give back to a world I’ve only taken from until now. We are a fully capable species with the ability to make extraordinary changes in ourselves and transforming our environment. We have shown definitively (sometimes adversely) since our ancestors learned to use tools, and live in ever functioning societies, that we can change the world. We can truly do anything we set our minds to. So it’s up to people like me who have done harm to others to accept responsibility, step forward, and try to make this world a better place for all. This planet is our home, a home we must all share.
Most perpetrators of serious crimes prefer to “forget” what they’ve done because it’s a much easier thing to do than face further judgement. I see this first hand every day in prison. But victims of sexual assault and a variety of other crimes, don’t get to just “forget” what happened to them. They are forced to live with the trauma (and possible P.T.S.D.) because men like me gave them no other choice when we committed our crimes. They will have to “do time” as well, only their sentence will be served in the mind.
I can never forget, I won’t forget. I will continue striving to find new ways to give back, help in any way I can, even if it’s just with words. This blog, my mission is a way for me to keep this subject foremost in my thoughts, which will in turn continue to influence my actions.
This world is full of problems and I know one person can’t solve them all. I can start by working on myself for now though. Every morning I wake up is another opportunity and I’ll do my best not to waste another moment.

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