What Happened?

“I wanted to do good. What betrayed me?
My mind? My heart?”
-Al Pacino
The Godfather: Part III

As I type these words, I have no idea where I’m going with this, so you may just have to bear with me. All I know is, I’ve spent the whole day in a terrible headspace and it is an inner-turmoil which I can’t seem to get over. Perhaps it’s because I keep looking at my ruined life, remembering the great life I had and threw away because of my own destructive choices.

I mean, here’s the thing: I was a sentimental and reminiscent kind of guy before I committed my crime and went to prison. But in the past, my reminiscence was based on the fact that time had simply passed and the past passed into the past. It was simply — time. Time took away the life I enjoyed. I had no choice in the matter; I had to grow up, I had to move on, I had to progress through life.

But now, I think about the life I no longer have — the life I ruined as a result of my destructive choices, not time. I lost a great life because I’m a broken and shattered human being.

I’m in therapy — clearly because I need it — and my therapist (who is great, by the way) often reinforces the perspective that I became a broken person because I was forcefully sexually assaulted at a young age, betrayed in 1998 by someone whom I considered a “friend.” And this subsequently caused me to struggle with trust, intimacy, and morality, because I never sufficiently dealt with the trauma when it happened; I just buried it, bottled it up, and tried to pretend it didn’t happen.

But sometimes, I just want to say, “Fuck that; maybe I’m simply a terrible person.” It has become clear that people cannot separate themselves from the evils of their past, no matter how much good they do in the future. A terrible person will always be a terrible person, even when all evidence and action is to the contrary.

One of my favorite Shakespearean quotes is from Julius Caesar: “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones.” What does this mean? Simply put, it means when people do bad things, they become their legacy; when people do good things, they are less than a footnote.

I’ve done my best to turn my back on the hate which has been projected toward me. I’ve done my best to only hear the positive and disregard the negative. But honestly, it’s impossible. However, I suppose the fact is this: None of those who display their hate toward me will ever hate me as much as I hate myself.

What the fuck happened to me? How did I go from a guy in 2006 who became a wide-eyed optimistic English teacher, to a guy in 2010 who thought it would somehow be permissible to be an English teacher who initiated multiple extra-marital affairs with numerous other teachers at the school and then kissed a 15-year-old former student? Where was the disconnect? What happened? The only answer I can come up with is that it goes back farther than 2006. According to every therapist I’ve seen, it goes back to the summer of 1998. And maybe they’re right. But regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that I ruined everything, hurt so many people, and now have to live with the guilt of knowing how many people I’ve hurt, including my wife.

She didn’t deserve this. She didn’t deserve what I put her through. She didn’t deserve this humiliation. And yet, she refuses to walk away from me. And I hate to say this, but sometimes that actually makes me feel worse, not better. A woman with that much integrity, that much loyalty, and that much character deserves a man who is an exponentially better person than I could ever hope to become.

The fact of the matter is, after years of two prison, four years of therapy, and twenty years of self-reflection, I still have no idea what the fuck happened to me. I find little solace in knowing that I’m not that guy anymore because any solace is overcome by the pain and humiliation of knowing that I was that guy at one point in my life.

I’ve betrayed so many people, but the biggest betrayal was to myself.

I refuse to forgive myself. I don’t deserve it, not even from me.

A lot of people hate me. But none of them hate me more than I do.

This is a prison from which I will never be released.

I would not wish this life upon anyone.

“I swear, on the lives of my children,
give me a chance to redeem myself.
And I will sin no more.”
-Al Pacino
The Godfather: Part III