When I was at my lowest, there were people who were there for me.

And knowing that, I will — for the rest of my life — be there for them. I owe so much to so many people for being unconditionally supportive when I was in the depths of recovery; recovery not simply from being in prison, but also recovery from sexual addiction as well as the painful recovery from the self-revelation that I was, at the age of 18, raped.

Fortunately, I am able to talk about that — the most traumatic experience of my youth — but I am also a little afraid it seems cliche or even cheesy for me to continue to talk about it. But the truth is, I’m still dealing with it, I’m still handling it, I’m still coming to terms with it, so I still need to talk about it. Therefore, since I’m a writer, I need to write about it.

There are people in my life who have remained unconditionally by my side, and to those people, I will forever be grateful and thankful. However, there are also people who have distanced themselves from me like I’m suffering from the Bubonic Plague.

Perhaps this is the point when I say, “Fuck them!” But I don’t. I understand that I’m a divisive person (not because of who I am, but because of what I’ve done). I understand how people may not feel comfortable talking to me, considering the nature of my past transgressions. But, to them, I say this: “Feel free to give me a call!” I am not bitter toward the naysayers. I am not bitter toward those who once thought or spoke ill of me (and likely still do). Humans are reactionary creatures. So if someone from my past was once repulsed by me, but now sees my altruistic endeavors, I would be happy to let bygones be bygones and start anew.

Loyalty, in my life, is rare; loyalty, in my life, is cherished.

But just like my wife gave me a second chance in our marriage, I will not turn my back on the friendships of anyone from my past.

I am a walking second chance, so it would be completely hypocritical for me to shun anyone for any reason. It’s interesting to meet new people who meet me in my current context, because after speaking to me for only a few minutes, they do not see me in a negative light. In fact, I have never spoken face-to-face with anyone who came away from our conversation thinking I was some kind of sick evil person.

So, here’s the thing: I don’t think the average person who hears about what I did actually has the courage to have an open-minded conversation with me because it’s so much easier to hate, judge, despise, and dismiss. And I am slowly learning one tough lesson: Those individuals will never be swayed because those individuals are comfortable in their judgmental misery.

However, to those who give me a chance, lend me an ear, and open their minds, I want to say Thank You. Whenever someone buys my book, it is truly an honor to be supported by someone who wants to read what I’ve written. And I hope that feeling never gets old.

Thank you, true friends and family, for remaining in my life.

I cherish your loyalty.