Show me no mercy. I neither deserve it nor want it.
A random former student of mine Tweeted recently that the Halloween Article I wrote nearly a year ago, published by a national website, was somehow a lamentation of epic proportions.
Perhaps I need to write more clearly, because if that’s the message she took from the article, then she: a) didn’t grasp the actual point of the article, which is my fault as the writer; or b) her own preconceived negative bias diluted and skewed her perception of the article. But regardless, she Tweeted: “Kurt Brundage wrote a blog about how people should feel bad for him and he calls himself a ‘sex offender’ with the quotes. Like he isn’t one.”
So to paraphrase Richard Nixon, “let me make this perfectly clear: Do not feel sorry for me.” Never. Ever. Don’t. I neither want nor need the sympathy of anyone regarding the crimes I committed. I broke the law and I paid the price. And perhaps I should re-read my article to see if that particular impression is floating around in the subtext, but the intention of the article was to point out that the Halloween “hype” and “fear” regarding sex offenders isn’t supported by statistical facts. That was it. It was an academic piece, containing numbers, figures, and research.
Honestly, the Halloween “hype” has absolutely no impact on me, personally. The article itself was spawned by my own sense of logic and how it seemed odd to me that public perception so vastly departed from statistical reality. That’s what prompted the article; I saw the paranoia on the news and thought to myself, “That’s not realistically logical.” That’s all. I never wanted sympathy from anyone, because, frankly, I’ve eliminated the toxic people from my life who would give me any of that face-to-face animosity – on Halloween or any other day of the year.
But that’s not the message this former student took from my article, so perhaps the point should have been stated a little more clearly – or even flat-out. Because I remember having this student in my class, and she was quite intelligent, and we had a very positive (and appropriate) rapport. So either my crime completely changed her perception of me (which is highly likely) or I did not adequately convey the point of my article (which, admittedly, is also likely). But regardless, I’ve been asked by a different website to update the article and submit it for publication in October, so the actual point will certainly be clarified when the redux version is published. My former student also Tweeted that I wrote (at some point; not in the article) that the student with whom I had the relationship “came onto me.” I have searched everything I’ve written for that, and haven’t found anything even remotely similar. So perhaps this again was a misconception spawned from a negative preconception.
So I suppose, in the interest of accuracy and truth, I should say this: The student with whom I had the relationship never “came onto me” or anything of the sort. I manipulated her just like I manipulated the adult teachers with whom I had serial affairs – just an addict after another fix, chasing the dragon. I was the one in the wrong, not her. She never “came onto me” just like I wasn’t attracted to her “because of her age.” It simply happened because, with all the affairs I’d had for so many years – especially with other teachers – I stopped caring who my meaningless “hook-ups” were. And after I cycled through so many of the women of the East High faculty, it’s no surprise that my downward spiral took me beyond the lines of propriety or legality.
I will always hate myself for living like that. It’s not something to brag about; it’s a lifestyle for which I am deeply ashamed. Often, the weight of guilt and shame I carry from that life is nearly unbearable. And I fear that the pain I feel is nothing compared to the pain I’ve caused.
However, whose fault is that? Mine. All mine. 100% mine.
But this negativity is actually appreciated. Allow me to explain why…
This website – this journal (or blog) – has gotten a significant amount of traffic recently, and I don’t pretend to think everyone who reads it will come away with a positive impression. All I ask is that readers come away with accurate information. But when they provide negative feedback (which, admittedly, is typically about me personally, not my writing), I read it with the same diligence as I read the positive feedback (such as the positive messages left on the SOSEN article). And I actually read the negative feedback more, because I specifically need to soak it in; my ultimate goal is to deaden my sense of pride and become desensitized to the hateful negativity in order to prevent it from bringing me down and inhibiting my ability write efficiently, artfully, and effectively. In fact, when people do say things similar to what my former student Tweeted, it motivates me even more to go out and prove the world wrong. And interestingly, the negativity is typically based on a criticism of who I was, not who I am, so I actually agree with most of it.
When someone says something like “Kurt Brundage is a sick manipulative piece of shit,” I can definitely tell that they are referencing a person who does not exist anymore. So it doesn’t offend me – I very much agree. I would, instead, invite those people to have a brief conversation with me and judge for themselves. Because I can honestly say that everyone I’ve met from my past has commented on how much I’ve changed. So the negativity from people who think I’m evil or sick or manipulative is based on a judgment of the past, not the present.
But regardless, I embrace the negativity – I thrive on the negativity – because it desensitizes me to it, and as a result, the negativity does not discourage me; in fact, it encourages me to try harder, change further, live better, and write more.
So don’t feel sorry for me – don’t pity me – nothing.
I want no sympathy.
I want no pity.
I want no mercy.