There are dates we all remember as significant parts of our lives: wedding anniversaries, births of children, deaths of loved ones, etc. And for me, in addition to these, there are three unique dates I will never forget: March 9th, November 2nd, and December 5th.
March 9, 2012 — I was arrested for my crimes.
November 2, 2012 — I was sentenced to 32 months in prison.
December 5th, 2014 — I was released from prison.
——— Today is November 2nd. ———
Five years ago today, I was escorted from freedom. Five years ago today, I inhaled my last breath of free air, and wouldn’t again smell the sweet aroma of freedom for the next 763 days.
I remember waking up on the morning of November 2, 2012, knowing it was possible I wouldn’t be sleeping in my own bed that night — and I was right. I remember hugging my daughter before she left for school, knowing it was possible that I wouldn’t hug her again for a long time — and I was right. I remember driving to the courthouse for my sentencing hearing, knowing there was a chance I would not be driving home — and I was right. I knew I could possibly be given probation for my crimes, but I was reasonably certain I would be going to prison — and I was right.
I knew, if I went to prison, it would cause my wife and daughter an immeasurable amount of pain. And again, I was right.
I’ve hurt so many people with my actions, and I cannot find it within myself to forgive myself. And honestly, I really don’t want to forgive myself. I feel like, if I forgive myself for the things I’ve done, that means I’ve somehow condoned what I’ve done. And while I admit that this logic may be (and probably is) flawed, I refuse to forgive myself for what I’ve done, even if those I hurt forgive me. I know there are those I hurt who will never forgive me, and I completely understand why. I was a horrible person who did horrible things, and I don’t deserve the forgiveness of anyone. That’s why I truly value the forgiveness of my friends and loved ones as a gift — a gift I cherish.
I think my wife, on some levels, takes it personally when people don’t forgive me because she sees every day how much I’ve changed. However, there are many in her family who refuse to forgive the choices of my past. And yet, she has stood faithfully with me (even though she’s had every viable reason to leave) and refuses to allow the naysayers to sway her decision to remain in our marriage.
I think she uses Facebook to remind them of this. Whenever she mentions me on Facebook, she doesn’t simply say “Kurt,” but rather, she always writes “my husband, Kurt,” because she wants her family to know that she stands firmly with her husband. And I know some of them have ostracized her for staying with me, but that simply illustrates her amazing level of faithfulness to her marriage.
Sometimes I think my time in prison hurt her and my daughter more than it hurt me. I knew I deserved to go to prison, but they didn’t deserve to have their husband/father torn away from them — and that hurts me even more. I deserved every minute of prison time through which I was forced to suffer, but they didn’t deserve the pain and humiliation I caused them.
I’m doing what I’m doing now (writing and speaking-out against teacher/student relationships) for a multitude of reasons; one of those reasons is because I really want my wife and daughter to be proud of who I am and what I’m doing now, regardless of who I was and what I’ve done in the past. I owe it to them and to those I hurt to now be a voice against the choices I made that hurt others in the first place.
Five years ago today, I sat in a courtroom and learned my fate: 32 months in prison (of which I would serve 25). But now that I’ve been home for nearly three years, I feel like I’m living a better life, a moral life, and a meaningful life. I try every day to be a better person than the day before. I try every day to tell my loved ones how much they mean to me. I try every day to make each day a valuable day. Because on November 2, 2012, I began a 763 day journey, and at the conclusion of that journey (on December 5, 2014), another journey began — and that journey is still in the making.
Every morning, I wake up and promise myself to never be the man I used to be — and to fight against the people who are now who I was then. I want (and need) my life to have meaning. And for me, that means being a person who prevents people from being hurt the same way I hurt others.