I just finished reading Choke by Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk is the same guy who wrote Fight Club and this book is every bit as bizarre. Choke isn’t about fighting, but both Fight Club and Choke are about the same thing: Freedom. They aren’t about freedom in the traditional geopolitical sense that contemporary pundits love to exploit, but rather, these books – Choke especially – are about freedom from the parts of ourselves that hold us back.
Who I am – or, specifically, who I used to be – holds me back. My past plagues me and, to many people, my past is who I am. There are many people who see me and don’t know what I’ve been through since my crime, and assume that I’m the same sorry sick son of a bitch I was when I made the terrible choice to kiss a student. To them (like this former friend of mine, Christina – not my ex, but a different Christina – who absolutely tore me apart online when I was on television being interviewed about a Halloween article I wrote), I am no different now than I was when I was at the lowest part of my existence. So in the eyes of many (if not most) people who don’t personally know me now, I am still a sick fucking piece of shit.
But here’s the thing: If someone were to walk up to me and say, “A high school teacher who makes-out with a student is a sick fucking piece of shit,” I would reply, “You are absolutely correct.” Why do people assume that I’m okay with what I did? Why do people assume that the sick fuck who had multiple simultaneous affairs with multiple teachers at East High School – in our classrooms – is the same person after prison as I was before? When have I ever justified my actions?
My past is not full of mistakes – my past is full of bad choices. Mistakes are faultless; mistakes happen because something went wrong. My choices aren’t faultless; my choices are because I went wrong. I admit that I am a recovering sex addict and I was driven by a compulsion that was stronger than my resistance to it. But I also acknowledge that I always had the choice to say “No,” the choice to walk away, the choice to not go to Mrs. So-and-so’s classroom and have sex with her during her planning hour. And I definitely had the choice to not make-out with my former student. But I did, and that can never change.
I never lacked free will – I simply lacked the will to be free.
In a lot of ways, I didn’t care. I was more obsessed with feeding my addiction than I was with nurturing my own marriage. My marriage was kind of up-and-down at the time of the worst depth of my addiction, and I used that as an excuse to act-out. But as it turns out, my wife’s love for me was exponentially stronger than any addictive impulse I’ve ever experienced.
My wife and I are killers. We have killed. We killed without regret or remorse. We killed someone who needed to die, and if need be, we would do it again, and we would do it together. I don’t regret killing the man we killed and I’m glad he’s dead. The world is a better place without him. Together, my wife and I carefully plotted his death, and on December 5, 2012, this man – this miserable piece of shit excuse for a human lump of waste – was remorselessly killed, and we killed him. He was a martyr for our cause, and he needed to die.
Some people think they see him sometimes – like sightings of Elvis or Eddie Wilson or Tupac – but the truth is, he’s dead, gone; and I killed him – we killed him, on December 5, 2012.
My two heroes from the Bible are two of the worst human beings who are now revered as Biblical heroes: David, the adulterous murderer; and Paul (Saul), the murderous hypocrite. I love these guys because I can relate to them. They both did horrendous things, then saw how absolutely horrendous their actions were, and they became entirely different people. David became one of the greatest kings of the Old Testament and Paul wrote nearly one-third of the New Testament. Both of them became a New Creation – the old had gone, the new has come.
On December 5, 2012, I walked out of prison and entered my new life. I did not re-enter life, I entered a new life. Together, my wife and I insured that the man of my past would die the moment I left the campus of Winfield Correctional Facility, and that’s exactly what we did: We killed the man I used to be – the old had gone, the new had come. And now, I live my life in a way that makes my wife proud to be married to me. As far as we are concerned, we killed the man I was by making our marriage stronger and by – together – working to make me a better husband, father, friend, and human being. She supports my efforts to grow as a person, she supports my attendance to Sex Addicts Anonymous, she supports my writing, she supports my running – she supports my efforts toward building a life free of sexual addiction, a life of stability and morality. She didn’t leave at the first sign of my improprieties, she stood up and said, “I didn’t marry you to divorce you.”
And as a result of her resolve – her relentless dedication to “For Better or For Worse” – we, as of January 7, 2016, have been married for eleven years.
So Happy Eleventh Wedding Anniversary to my partner in crime – my accomplice in homicide – with whom I have gotten away with murder. Because that’s what we’ve done. We’ve killed someone – the someone of my past – and now we are fugitives in love, like Bonnie and Clyde. But I’m sure our fate will differ from theirs, because in the end, “Bonnie and Clyde get shot to pieces.”
But in case anyone wants to know, this is my confession. my wife and I are guilty of murder – We killed the man I used to be. He’s dead. And we couldn’t be happier.