Well, here we are. As many of you might have noticed, I have been absent for awhile. But I was, quite frankly, an ass-hole long before I left.
Why? Well, that is a long and painful story. I have been dealing with some fairly severe emotional problems.
It sounds so simple when you say it like that....."emotional problems". Well, hang on to your hats! Because this journey has been one of pain, fear, and introspection. I have had to not only acknowledge the fact that I had become a thing that I hated, but I had to accept that fact as well.And then deal with the wreckage and consequences.
I am in my early 50's, and this tale started around age 7, so it will be a long story. Not something that I will be able to finish in one or even a dozen sittings, but I will relate everything here. And I will warn you in advance, it is quite ugly! It is a story of sexual assault, betrayal, crime, drug abuse and the turning of a man into a monster as a way of dealing with my own private pain. I plan on going into graphic detail, so put the kids to bed and get ready for an ugliness deeper than you have ever imagined.
At least, that is how it seems to me. But ask any survivor of a sexual assault, and I am sure they would explain it in the same manner. It is an ugliness and a hole that you can never fill, no matter how much you pour into it. Eventually, you become the ugliness, unless you find a way to accept it and deal with it.
It has taken me almost 40 years to come to terms with this. I buried it so deeply that I had hoped it would never come out again, but I now see that this only made matters worse. My refusal to come to terms with these issues has led to inconceivable damage and harm to not only myself, but many, many others as well, and has lasted for decades.
No more. No fucking more. I refuse to be a victim, or to think of myself as a victim any longer.
So this is my story. Stay tuned, as it will be an on-going project!
OK, here we go. As a child, I was always the more quiet type. My mom taught me to read at a VERY young age and my dad taught me chess, and I was more interested in things like that, rather than things like sports and whatnot. My idea of a good day was going to the library, rather than the baseball field! Oh, I still did all of the things a kids does-play ball with my friends, run around the neighborhood, etc., but I was just as happy with a new Tom Swift or Hardy Boys book. One of the things we did back then (late 60's and early 70's) as a family was to go on yearly "vacations", which pretty much consisted of going to visit relatives in different states. Which was kind of cool at first, as a city kid, I had never been around a farm or rural areas all that much, so it was interesting and a lot of new things to learn. But life on a farm is not only hard, but it is pretty routine as well, and I rapidly learned after a few visits that, while it might be a nice place to visit once a year, it wasn't for me! But we would all faithfully pile into the car every year and head out to Missouri or Tennessee or Kentucky or Arkansas to visit these relatives.
Then, when I was about 8 years old and during a trip to visit my mothers uncle, I was sexually attacked and abused by his adult son. This guy-lets call him Gary-was probably in his early 20's, going to some college in the medical field, and I had never met him before. But we were at the uncle's house visiting, and he said that "Gary" was at work at the hospital and would not be back in until very late, so don't be startled if we heard someone come in late at night. Remember, this was back in the day when people left their doors not only unlocked, but wide open all night!
So we did the whole visitation thing, and it got to be night, so everyone went to bed. My mom and dad were in Gary's room and I was on the couch, and Uncle said that Gary would be home quite late and then have to leave very early because of his job at the hospital. So he would be coming in and sleeping for a few hours on the couch and then leaving again. OK, whatever! I was 8 years old and didn't really care all that much, at that point. So I went to sleep on the couch.
I woke up by hearing the front screen door closing, saw a dark shadowy figure make his way around to the other side of the fold-out couch, and sit there on the edge for a moment. For some reason, I didn't move at all. Gary removed his scrubs and climbed into bed, and then very quietly asked if I was awake. I just laid there and did not reply, thinking that his comment was because he did not want to wake me up if I was asleep.
Then he reached over and placed his hand on my penis, while taking my hand and putting it on his.
I literally froze. This was WAY before the "sexual revolution" and the explosion of gay people coming out, and I had literally NO idea of what "gay" was. He then began to preform oral sex on me while guiding my hand over his penis, and while I didn't know what in the hell was going on, I DID know that it was wrong! After several minutes of this, he moved on to other activities, after which he finally stopped. I don't know if he blew his load and got off or if he realized I was not asleep or what, but he patted my head like I was a good boy and rolled over and went to sleep.
I laid there, literally petrified, for the rest of the night. I was afraid to move, to get up.....to tell anyone. When the morning finally came, I had apparently fallen asleep at some point, because he was gone. I got up, got dressed, and stayed by my parents side until we left, and never said a word to anyone about the incident. At 8 years old, I don't think I even had a sexual identity to question, much less understand what just happened-I don't even think I was masturbating yet! And yet, another man had just forced me to have sex with him, which I knew was wrong.....men didn't have sex with other men. Or boys!
I was changed after that. I couldn't see it at the time, of course, but hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20. The books and the chess club got set aside in favor of hunting, guns, motorcycles, sports, and all of the things a boy does to "prove" he is a man. I was-looking back at it with the eyes of experience-trying to over-compensate in all areas of my life for the fact that I had been raped and forced into a homosexual experience. I was trying to prove I was a man and not gay. But it definitely changed me. For the next 8 or so years, I became a little hellion! Resistance to authority, shit disturber, typical boy who was trying to somehow prove himself. I became an avid hunter and marksman, motorcycle racer.....and loner. When I was 16, I already knew what I wanted to do-join the Army!
Again, looking back at the situation with the benefit of hind-sight, it was quite obvious as to what was and had happened. But when you are living the situation-going from a bookworm to a "man's man" and you deliberately bury the reason for the drastic change in the dark recesses of your brain, you never really see it. You lose track of the trees for the sight of the forest. But by this time (16-17 years old), I understood fully what had happened. I had homosexual sex with another man. And that was not only wrong, but disgusting and sick as well!
So, was I a homosexual? I felt no sexual attraction to men at all but, other than that event, I had never had sex with anyone-male or female-so I didn't know what the fuck I was. But I would find out soon enough! By now, I could shoot and dress any big game, race and win motorcycle races, spend days out in the wilderness by myself.....but I was hugely self-conscious around other people, especially girls. Somehow, I ended up going out on a date and discovered that, yeah.....I really liked pussy. So I must be a man after all, and what better way to prove that then to enter the military!
So I joined the Army when I was 17 1/2 and actually entered service right after my 18th birthday. I was a soldier! No "gay shit" here! I went through basic training and advanced combat training, got my jump wings and all of the little whistles and bells that go along with such a manly career, made it to my first duty station, and was doing pretty good. But inside, I was still fucked up. I was always insecure and not confident in my interpersonal dealings with other people, especially women. After all of these years of "successfully" burying this one incident, I still felt that everyone could see these huge red letters on my forehead that said "FAG", and I over-compensated in everything I did to try and erase those letters and hide the shame I felt.
I could hit a bulls-eye from as far away as you wanted to set it, I could drop an M-203 40 mm HE grenade in a man-hole cover from 300 yards away, I qualified with an expert rating on everything from a pistol to a 4 deuce mortar to a Carl Gustav, I could drink a bottle of whiskey by myself and still walk a straight line, never lost a fight.....and yet by now, I could not talk to women at all and absolutely could not talk about sex with anyone. My 19 and 20 year old sex life consisted of solitary masturbation and constant self-questioning about my sexuality. Being in West Germany, prostitutes were quite easy to come by, especially in the Red Light district of Frankfurt, because it was legal. And while I DID try that a couple of times, I felt.....nothing. Not only would I rather jack off because that way, no one would see those big red letters, but if all I was doing was busting a nut, it was cheaper as well!
Besides, each time I looked down at some whore I was trying to fuck, all I saw was Gary looking down at me. So I threw myself into being the baddest motherfucker to ever walk the face of the planet. At my height, I weighed in around 225, had a 400 pound bench and a 750 pound leg press, and I rippled like water flowing over smooth rocks when I moved. I was a dead shot with either hand, a killer with a blade, and my personal weapon was a modified sling-mounted M-60. But inside? I was still that scared little boy. No matter how many missions I volunteered for, no matter how much devastation and death I caused, no matter how big or strong or violent I got, all I could see was his face looking down at me and smiling as he raped me. It went from the point of me wanting to kill him to me wanting to kill everyone, because they could ALL SEE THOSE DAMN BIG RED LETTERS! But I survived. Or so I thought! My military career was going well, my evals were always perfect, and I had a reputation as someone who could get a nasty job done.
Then, it happened again. I was in Friedburg, West Germany during a REFORGER exercise in 1981, and we had been warned that there was some "racial unrest" on the base, so we should be careful and only go out with a buddy, etc. Well, me and a buddy had planned to go out that evening, but after hearing about this, we decided to stay on base. I was headed over to an area where there were telephones, with the idea of calling home and seeing how everything was going there, while he was just hanging out in our quarters. On my way over, I was approached by 2 big black guys, I didn't really think about the earlier warnings, especially when I saw that one of these guys was an sergeant. After all, he is a fellow NCO, right? These are my "brothers in arms", right? Big, BIG mistake.
As I walked by on my way to the phones, I nodded politely and stepped to one side, as benefits a lower ranking NCO to a higher one. Just as they passed me, one turned and made a comment about being a "tough guy". I didn't know these guys, so I just let it go. Then, I was attacked from behind by both of them. Never given a chance, beaten semi-conscious, and sexually assaulted by both of them. I fought back, but I was fucked up from the get-go and could not defend myself from either the physical or the sexual assault.
While the attack could not have lasted very long (we were in a semi-public place, after all), it seemed as if it went on forever. The physical beating was very bad. After they left, I got myself together and dragged myself back to my barracks. My sergeant found me coming in to the building and asked what the hell happened, and I told him. Everything. He told me to get cleaned up and go to his locker, where I would find a quart of Jack Daniels. Start drinking it and don't stop until he got back. The problem is that I didn't stop when he got back, I went to the bottom of the bottle and didn't come back up.
He told me that the situation "would be handled" and I should just try and forget it.
Forget it? Are you fucking kidding me? I was an American bad-ass.....who couldn't keep himself safe. I started taking unacceptable risks. Drinking waaay more than was acceptable, given what kinds of missions I did. Started getting disciplinary actions for really stupid shit. Started to enjoy hurting others when there was no need for it, and really enjoyed it when there was. I tried to hide my pain in every way I could, but mainly by causing pain to others. But inside? Inside I felt betrayed. After some time had passed, I eventually asked my sergeant what had happened.....would I need to see the CO or file some kind of report or what? I then found out that he had gotten some of the other guys in our company and hunted these two down. It took them a long time to get out of the hospital, and one of them ended up getting a medical discharge when it was all said and done.
That was all well and good, but where did that leave me? I was not quite 20 years old and had been raped on two separate occasions-once by a relative and once by my military "brothers" and while on active duty. Outwardly, I was fine. Still got excellent reviews. Most of my disciplinary shit was swept under the rug (hey, soldiers fight, right? Stands to reason that some of those fights might be brutal), as was most of the drinking problems. Soldiers drink too, and as long as I wasn't seen as causing the fights, well, shit happens. But I got a ton of excessive force write-ups.
I had become something I had always hated more than anything else-a bully. The only problem was that I was a trained killer bully. Who really enjoyed what he was doing. A lot! I went from hurting people to hide my own pain to hurting others because I could, to hurting others because I liked to. I justified this mentality by telling myself that I would never-could never-allow myself to be hurt again. And the way to do that was with no mercy. No feeling. No emotion. No compassion, no empathy, none of that shit. After all, nobody showed any of it to me. Why waste time showing it to others? The more brutal I was, the quicker the situation would be resolved, so in a way, I was really doing them a favor!
Countless justifications to hide the fact that I had become a monster, as well as a master of disguise.....with all of the masks I wore, I could be anything to anybody! And I had a mask for every occasion! All to cover the fact that the real me was.....ugly. No longer quite human. A sociopath. Somewhat functioning, but shattered inside. And then, one day I screwed the pooch and did something that could not be over-looked or swept away so easily, and my military career came to an end.
OK, picking up from where I left off!
So, without going into too much detail, my team and I were operating in what was considered a safe zone. A member of my team was kidnapped, tortured, raped, and allowed to bleed to death. I.....did not take that well. I felt guilt and extreme anger.
Extreme anger. There again, it sounds so.....simple, when you say it like that. I was gripped in an all-consuming, overpowering rage, a burning, driving need to completely and utterly destroy those who were responsible for doing this to one of my men. One of my friends.
So I did. With extreme prejudice. And without orders or authorization. Normally, this would be at best a UCMJ action. But when you are in another country running an op and without that countries knowledge AND you have paperwork which states you are somewhere completely different, things are a bit.....different. Terms like "deniability" and "secret" get tossed around. You are allowed to resign, effective immediately. Placed under a gag order for a period of 10 years, during which time you are, under pain of federal prosecution, not allowed to discuss your military activities in any way, as a condition of that resignation. Not allowed to re-enter the military in any other branch. But no crime was ever committed, no order was ever disobeyed, and no records will ever exist.
Justifications and masks.
And then, as you walk out the door, you are given a slip of paper with a phone number on it and are told that there might be a job opportunity on the other end of the line for a person "of your skills". Fucking wonderful-private "contracting".
I thought about trying that, but by this point, it was obvious that there was a problem. It had been obvious to everyone else for awhile, but I was just barely beginning to perceive it. Or more honestly, to admit to myself that there might just be something wrong with me. Or even more honestly, to admit that this was a clear and logical consequence of my thought patterns and mental world-view, and that it needed to be buried deeply and right NOW! Ahhh, the beauties of hindsight!
So I did the next best thing. I went into crime! I was, first and foremost, an adrenaline junkie with serious border-line sociopath issues. I gravitated to the more interesting situations such as debt collection, rapid transportation, and whatnot. And because drugs were, by this time, a key component-via self medication-of my life, what better sub-set of crime to enter?
Needless to say, that part of my new career did not last long. Oh, the drugs and crime did, but not the violence and extreme risk and danger. By now, I had been married and divorced as well. My first actual conviction was for "unlawful production of drugs, to whit-cannabis" and was for 6 years-3 in maximum security state and 3 in federal. I was growing around 40 acres of weed in a federal area, hence the fed interest. That was where I first learned the real difference between fighting for fun and profit, and fighting for your life. Or fighting to keep from being raped and turned into property. Where I learned that beating someone into a comatose piece of hamburger because you are terrified will certainly get you huge props and respect from the prison population, but doesn't make you any more of a real man. But again, justifications. He told me I would be his bitch, and I told him I had killed better men than he would ever be no matter how long he might live. Turns out he was wrong. He didn't find that out for about 8 weeks though, because he was in a prison-run intensive care unit, waiting to regain consciousness. In the meantime, I had to severely injure several of his associates, until they eventually got me at a disadvantage and I paid the price as well.
Second time down was for an alleged forgery. My ex-brother in law was into stealing his sisters checks and cashing them for small amounts of dope money. He owes me money, we go to the store, he hands me this check and says to pay for the beer and gas while he pumps it in the car. It was already endorsed and just needed the amount to be filled out, so I did and we split. Now I'm busted for "passing a forged instrument" and was-of course-on camera the whole time while he remained outside. And denied knowing anything about it! I just got probation for that one, but it was violated when I was brought in with a charge of "masterminding a copper smuggling ring". Seems a Purina Foods distribution center was being built nearby, and they left several thousand pounds of copper wire unsecured, and someone stole it. And they claim to have my signature on a recipe selling over 900 pounds of scrap copper wire. Again, no real proof, but I was arrested, which violated my parole. So I got another year for that. Multiple contacts with the law, multiple failed relationships, multiple failed friendships, jobs, and opportunities.
But it always went back to drugs. And then I left that state and moved to get a fresh start, to Arizona.....the land of dirt-cheap meth! Within a month, I had a good job making decent money, a house, a new family, and all the crap that goes along with being a citizen again. Life was pretty good, and looking better. Clean and drug free, no law issues, and I was actually happy for a short time. But once you are involved in any aspect of the drug business, you don't just walk away so easily. Drugs WILL find you, even when you are trying to avoid them!
The woman I was with got involved with cocaine, while I went back to cannabis. The relationship eventually fell apart, she split, and I got busted for possession of cannabis and paraphrenalia. Probation again, and then I got involved with a crazy woman. I mean, she was like a female half of me! Liked to party and do crazy shit, and she introduced me to meth. Well, if I wasn't bug-house, bat-shit crazy before, I certainly was now! And while all of this was going on, I was working steady and keeping up a perfect facade, as if I was normal as the next guy. Then, like all crazy women do, she found something else shiny and fascinating, and moved on.
Lets recap, shall we? Borderline sociopath, master manipulator, man of a thousand masks, king of broken hearts and failed relationships and marriages, convicted felon, brilliant criminal, very highly educated, possessor of a skill set that is extremely useful to an active military unit or a drug cartel, but not too many others, utterly amoral and narcissistic.....and of course, a drug addict. Thoroughly convinced that not only does crime pay, but it pays very well! It's just the vacations that suck so badly. Did I get everything? Leave anything out? I'm sure I did, some where along the line.
And again, all of this is public record and sins paid for in full long ago, so I am not admitting to any unpunished activity. Any crimes I may reference have long ago been adjudicated and closed, and these references are made to only show where I was, or came from, I guess. Who and what I became, and was, all of those years ago. My criminal past is just that.....past. All convictions expunged and rights restored long ago. Just wanted to be clear on that.
So, one day I find myself sitting in an empty apartment and all alone. My crazy woman was gone and, quite frankly, I had enough of women in general and relationships in particular. I had a broken heart and was fairly certain a broken mind as well. But on the outside? The mask was still fucking perfect! I had a job and all the appearance of a normal person with a normal life. I had money for my dope, a place to do it in.....and nothing else. just a constant "Groundhog Day" routine.
I had decided to move on to another job that paid more, and went in for my first interview. It was in the medical field, and my qualifications were easily 4 or 5 times what was required, so the charge nurse was happier than a pig dipped in shit to get me. I told her up front "I'm coming off of a disasterious relationship and just want to do the job and be left alone, so can I work graveyards?" I could go to work, do my job in peace and quiet, and not.....think. No dealing with the public, no pressure, just show up, do your job, go home, sleep, and then do it all over again the next day. Well, graveyards in the medical profession are not what you might call "preferred" shifts, and here is some super highly trained guy who actually WANTS that? Perfect! My drug use had stabilized, my mental condition was well hidden, I had a job and a bit of money, the appearance of normality, and my past was hidden as well. How much MORE perfectly planned could things get?
You ever hear that old saying about if you want to make the Gods laugh, just make plans of your own? Well, they were fucking rolling on the floor of the heavens laughing at me! Unbeknownst to me, my Goddess had decided that she was not quite done with me yet, so she played her best and final card.....Love. What a fucking bitch!
During the first 6 or 8 weeks I worked at this place, my crazy woman came back into my life. She didn't stay, it was in and out, but enough to send me off the deep end with the dope and the emotional bullshit again. So I am at work and in my area one night, finished my rounds, and I am sitting there reading a book I brought with me and wallowing in misery. Ruminating on how unfair it was that I could not sustain a meaningful relationship and convincing myself that it was because, well.....bitches are crazy! Telling myself that I was done with relationships, women, friends, and anything else that could emotionally hurt me.
And then She did it. Not only did She play her final card, but She slammed it down hard enough to echo throughout the universe!
She brought "perky" into my life.
You know what perky is, right? Those utterly fucking annoying goddamn people who are always happy? Always smiling, always positive, always up-beat? Even as the goddamn apocalypse is going on all around you, these are the ass-holes who stop to smell the daisies and remark on how lovely the contrasting colors of fire raining down from the sky and your fucking life going up in flames are.
Perky. I hate perky.
At this point in my life, I am a hard, cold, callused person. I care absolutely nothing for anyone other than myself, and even I think I am a bastard. I manipulate others as a matter of course, even when I don't have to. There is literally nothing I will not do if I feel it necessary to satisfy my own immediate desires, and I feel no guilt, no shame. I feel nothing, on a regular and on-going basis. To me, life is a game, where I am the one and only important player, and you are all characters I move about for my own amusement. Not real, not three dimensional, not feeling or caring. Not mattering. It's all a game, and I am Player Supreme. To me, the perky people are a vast source of amusement, because they can't even see the game, much less play it.....much less play it at MY level! And as such, they are usually beneath my notice, unless they are victims. I have nothing but contempt for perky.
How fitting then, that my eventual downfall came at the hands of perky. That the eventual destruction of everything I had done, that I had become, everything I believed in, everything I was.....all comes to an end at the hands of a perky, small woman who claims to have saw something that she felt was interesting enough to be worth taking a chance on and saving. God, I hated her! She embodied direct, clear, and convincing evidence that I was wrong. That truly good people existed, and that there was no secret agenda. And that I had been wrong for decades. And that if I was wrong, what did that say about my actions and the results to others? What did that say about me? No matter what I had done, she.....believed in me, in a basic goodness that she said she could see no matter how hard I tried to keep it hidden. Dumbass perky people! She didn't understand that I am, and always will be, a wolf, and NEVER a sheep.....never again will I allow anyone to use or control me, in any way. I WILL die, or kill, before I will ever allow myself to be used or abused ever again.
there is more to this story, and I will certainly get back to it. But not now, I find these memories are a bit intense, and I need a break. Lots more details and revelations to come. A lot more pain. Another attempted rape, this time, in prison. A lot more pus to excise and cut away. So stay tuned, and I will get back to this when I can.
But just a small spoiler alert, you say? Don't leave us hanging like this, you say? Well, OK.
I have been with perky for the past 26 years, and we have been married happily for 15 of those 26 years. How the FUCK did that happen? Believe me, it wasn't easy!
OK, here we are. So, I am working at this new place for a couple of weeks, minding my own business, wallowing in my own misery, trying to forget my crazy woman again, and trying to get a handle on my drug use and emotional state. Just got done doing my rounds and was sitting there in my area reading a book when I hear this voice over my shoulder.
"hey there, want to come out and have a cigarette with us before we start our rounds?"
Can you hear the endless optimism and sunshine there? The up-beat friendliness and always willing to help attitude? I was in a dark place, trying to go deeper, and then pull it all in behind me, and perky shows up wrapped in sunshine and good vibrations!
Did I mention how much I hated her? And it wasn't really even her, it was what she was, what she represented. Don't get me wrong, it got to be her real quick! But in the beginning? She was like a brilliant ray of light that burned away all the darkness it came into contact with, and I was the embodiment of darkness.
So I quietly said "no". To which she replied "What, don't you smoke?" And I said "Yes, but not with you." That is where it all started. Sitting there and watching perky get pissed was somehow terribly funny, while at the same time, satisfying. Wondering just exactly where in the hells this woman came from and why she was so insistent on getting me to come out and smoke with these people I didn't know, with her. What was her game? From this point on, the friction was constant. She would make it a point to be perkier than usual around me, as if she could somehow sense that it drove me crazy. And it did! I got to where I just could not figure this woman out at all.....what was she up to, why was she doing this when I made it clear I was not interested in new friends, what in the HELL was her game? I was convinced there was a conspiracy here. So I made it a point to be myself around her-rude, self-absorbed, arrogant. That should be enough to drive anyone away! But this bitch would not leave! Which convinced me even more that there was some "other" motive behind her actions. Perhaps-dare I hope for a moment-here is an adversary who might be worthy of my talents? Another true Player? How diabolically clever of her to hide as perky! Now, I was driven to figure her out! But.....God-how I hated her!
Three weeks later, we are living together. WTF? And I never saw it coming. A VERY worthy adversary! To manipulate ME! So I doubled down. I figured that if I could drag her into "deep water", she would go down soon enough, and I would find out what she was up to, what her game was. I brought perky into my world. Drugs, crime, lies, betrayal, all the things I was a master at. Lets just see how good she really is!
The funny thing about perky is that a little goes a long way. I dragged this relationship through the biggest, deepest mudpits I could find, and she was a trooper! Followed me into meth and crime. Always supported me, always believed in me, always backed me. Somewhere along the line, I went from trying to crush her to crushing anyone who might try and hurt her. It somehow went from me to us. I did everything I could to crush this perkiness out of existence, and now I was comfortable with it. Not rely on it, not depend on it, and certainly not trust it! Oh, don't get me wrong, I had not changed at all! I was still a master manipulator and user, but somehow, perky was on my side. She was me, and not other.
There never was an agenda, of course. She was not a Player. Hell, she didn't even know the Game existed until I came along. She stuck with me because of love, even while I was trying to destroy her, and myself. But it took me a couple of years to finally realize that. And during that time, I was brutal. First to her, but eventually, to anyone who I felt might hurt or try to hurt her. Another thing about perky is that, while she always seem to have this large crowd of friends, the group consists mostly of those who are taking advantage of her. She was naieve and trusting to a fault, and she was being used, and didn't even realize it.
Well, I saw it. Quite clearly, as a matter of fact. And I told her. Of course, at first she didn't believe me when I told her what was happening. Then I started telling her what would happen next. And all of my predictions came true, they all did exactly what I said they would do, just as I said they would do it. When she realized what her "friends" had been doing all along, she started to cry, which-in my mind-made it open season on these clowns. I went through them like a hot knife through butter. You see, I have always had this theory. Every set of circumstances, every situation, every thing, has a window. When this window opens, a single word, a gesture, a comment, even a look, can alter the course of this event forever. But they open and close again fast, so fast that most people never even see them. So most people don't believe they exist.
For me, it was like slow motion. I could not only see the window, but I could see what would make it open and close. I could see what would happen if I said a certain thing or word, made a gesture or comment at just the precise time. I could even see what direction the path would change to, depending on what I might say or do, and I knew.....I knew what would happen. I could destroy your life, under the right set of circumstances and with a casual word. And that is exactly what I did. I told them all first, of course. I told them that I saw what they were doing, and it needed to stop or else there would be consequences. But they thought they were better at the game than I was. But one by one, I manipulated them into situations and when the window opened, I took advantage of it. One by one, I destroyed them. Marriages failed because of distrust and suspicion. Jobs lost. Houses lost. Hope lost. All because they were trying to take advantage of someone smaller and helpless and too trusting.
I was crazy, of course. Completely and utterly driven mad from methamphetamine. There is no "magical power" that lets you see "windows". You cannot negatively affect the entire lives of others with a single word or gesture. Right?
Right? But I did it anyway. You see, I had lost contact with reality. I quit a good job to "hustle" money. Oh, I justified it of course! You buy something here, and sell it for a few dollars more over there. And I did good for awhile. I could convince anyone that not only did they need what I was selling, but the fact that the dude next door over was selling it cheaper , was only because his stuff was crap. Didn't matter what it was! I always had money. Somehow we managed to lose 2 cars and a house, while having two kids, but those were "temporary set-backs", and I was on to the next big thing. We ended up living in a motel filled with yard sale and thrift store shit, and I was hustling money day to day like any junkie. Then we ended up losing the motel, and we were living in a tent in a vacant field and had to send the kids to her parents for a summer.
Always justifying the slide down. Some how, I met this guy who was working for a temp agency, and my business was not going well that day, so I went with him on a whim. They sent me out to this electrical contractor who needed a clean-up crew. I figured it would buy the days dope, and the place was big enough to where I could hang out and not really work, but get paid anyway. Well, it turns out that my dad was an electrician and I had been playing with electricity since I was a kid. So one of the real electricians was having a problem and couldn't figure it out. The boss shows up just as I was explaining to him what he was doing wrong, and he asks me what in the hell I was doing on the clean-up crew if I knew this job? I mumbled something about it being a temp job, and he told me to come and see him the next morning. Next morning? Hell, I wanted to leave now, I didn't want a real job!
I ended up getting hired on full-time and eventually running my own crew. Making 750.00 a week (this was in the mid-late 90's).
Living in a fucking tent because of my drug habit. Couldn't get a real house because of my credit and letting one go back once already. But I managed to get us a "cottage". These dumps were trailers in the Alaskan oilfields that had been moved to Arizona 40 years ago, and this guy was renting to people who had no other options. But it was a real roof over our heads! 4 people, three rooms, maybe 600 square feet. Our bedroom, their bedroom, and a kitchen/dining room/living room. We could make this work for now. Then perky got pregnant, and we had our daughter. Followed 13 months later by another little squalling girl-baby.
Of course, I was caught up in the day to day living arraingements and somehow missed it, but that was the origin point for change. Somehow, I started coming back. I was still a certifiable bastard! But I stopped trying to hurt others on purpose or for fun. I started working more and hustling less. My drug use was still excessive, but I had managed to set some parameters, and was actually able to stay within them, for the most part. I was still hustling, but I had elevated my game a bit now. This job I had fallen into? It ended up being an Intel project, and was the largest construction project on the North American continent. And there was a TON of shit just laying around! Or thrown away. I remember finding 27 brand new desk-top telephones in the trash one day, still in the boxes. I loaded them up and took them to the swap meet that weekend and sold them for 15 bucks each. Someone in Intel would change the color scheme of an office, and everything in that room would be tossed into the trash and new stuff brought in, I would dig through and find tons of shit, sell it at the swap meet, and make a ton of money! Life was moving along quite nicely.
It never lasts though. I ended up getting us another house finally, a REAL house. As I was digging through this dumpster one day looking for moving boxes, I ran across something interesting. I thought it was a digital scale, but it didn't work. Plugged it in, it lit up and everything, but it didn't DO anything. So I tossed it in the closet at home, figuring I would sell it to some tweaker. Come to find out, It was a 50,000.00 dollar microbalance, which was part of a 250,000.00 system.....that didn't work without the balance. During a move, it got put into the trash somehow, and I found it. Well, I decided to do the right thing and take it back.
Bad move. NEVER do the right thing! I went from having the head of Intel North American security shake my hand and offer me a reward to being handcuffed and put into a police car, all within 48 hours! Seems an example needed to be made, and here I was! I got charged with burglary for getting into the dumpster, theft over 25,000.00 for taking this device out of the dumpster, and trafficking in stolen goods for bringing it back. Intel adamantly refused to press any charges of any kind, they said I did them a favor. But the state picked them up and I was convicted on all counts. Went to jail, lost my job, lost my life. Got probation, got out and almost immediately got busted again for marijuana and paraphrenalia, and ended up with prison time. Hooray, I get to see my kids grow up from behind a fence. I got out of prison and we moved to another part of the state, I managed to get a job with an electrical contractor, and we started over. Again!
Enough for now, I will come back to this again later.
As I sit here and re-read this, there is so much that I didn't put in! How, for instance, I thrived in prison. Well, as much as one can actually "thrive" when locked up like an animal with animals. But that part of me came back to the forefront quite quickly, and I "adjusted" to life there. Contrary to popular belief, prisons are NOT filled with smart people! And I include guard staff and admin in there, as well. But I did well there. or so I thought anyway. Again justifications and masks! My PTSD was growing at an alarming rate, but went unnoticed because that was normal life there. But I was clean and my mind was free now, and I did the most dangerous thing I could have ever done-I continued my education in every field I could.
I didn't mention most of the truly sad and stupid things I have done either while high or to get high or how my addiction ran us right into the ground time and time again. The countless promises to stop using, and the guilt for breaking them almost as fast as they were made. I remember perky and I were in the hospital during the birth of our last daughter. She had stopped using as soon as she found out she was pregnant. I had stopped a week ago, but that was only because there was a dry spell on at the time. As I stood there holding my newborn daughter, I thought to myself "What in the FUCK are you doing! You have this little miracle now, and it is time to quit the dope for good." and I promised myself right there that I was done. For good this time. Too much to lose now!
Not even an hour later I was sitting in a car in the parking lot with her brother's ex-wife smoking meth. I just could not stop. But anyway.......
So here I am now, in Southeast Arizona and right up against the Mexican border. Working for the electrical union now and making a TON of money-when there is work. Kids are in school and we have actually managed to hide the vast majority of our drug use from them so far. They might smell something every now and then, but they have never seen us or found anything laying around. But make no mistake, my drug use was out of control. I kept it pretty much under cover from everyone because we did not go out and "party" or socialize, we stayed home. Which was easy, as we lived on a ranch! So the only people I saw on a regular basis, other than people I was either buying drugs from or selling them to, were people I worked with. Most of whom used drugs too. But I had learned a very important lesson by now-you HAVE to have a house and a job to keep using drugs long-term AND stay out of jail. So I always managed to stay working.....no more hustling for me! Kept a house, kept the bills paid, bought food, made sure the kids had everything they needed-and pretty much spent the rest on dope.
By now, even though I had the appearance of a reasonably successful life, I was on a downward spiral that was starting to spin faster and faster. And everything I did just made it worse. I discovered modern computers about the same time I was learning how to make meth. Perky was working, so even when I was laid off or just out of work, we still did OK. Our time was spent divided evenly between work, drugs, and sex. Lots and LOTS of crazy sex! We would get home, make dinner and eat with the kids, watch some TV like a normal family, and then when they went to bed, it was down to the lab!
I learned how to make meth. Then I learned how to make really good meth! I finally learned how to make really good meth in some exotic ways, and that was the beginning of the end. I became an IV meth addict, making and using my own product. This went on for awhile, and I became crazier and crazier. Between the drugs and the PTSD, I'm sure I fit the definition for insanity. Finally, one day I was in the process of trying a new method, and my beaker boiled over quite vigerously and covered me with sulfuric acid. I immediatelly dumped baking soda over everything to try and neutralize it and ran for the shower. As I stood there watching the skin literally melt and run down my body while I rinsed it off, I remember thinking "what in the fuck are you doing?" Then, as I went back in to start cleaning up, I knocked over a beaker of MEK and other assorted solvents onto an open flame Bunsen burner, and it exploded. I had never realized just how badly a couple of lungfuls of burning toxic solvent fumes can slow a person down, much less how much black smoke that shit makes!
I had the kids in the other end of the house, other people were there, perky was in another room. Fairly intense amounts of tissue damage from the acid burns over my chest and right side, still having trouble breathing from inhaling these black fumes, dope shit lying everywhere, and I am trying to scrub the smoke/fume residue off of the ceiling with a mop. Several thousand dollars worth of product lying in various stages of production, now all ruined by the acids, chem fire, baking soda, and everything else I used or knocked over in the past 30 minutes. I stood there and looked around and just started laughing, and couldn't stop. Everyone who was there came rushing in and then got all freaked out by what they saw they they all rushed right out again. Eventually, the laughter turned to tears as what had just happened slowly started to register. How I had endangered not only myself, but my woman and our kids as well. I didn't really care about everyone else, but this was too much.
This was the turning point, and there was no hindsight about this one. It was stop or die. Or even worse, stop or kill someone you actually care about and love. So I cleaned everything up, Called a fellow seeker of knowledge whose interest ran in similar places as mine, and told him to come over. Once he got there, I started loading him up with everything I had.....all of the glassware, the precursors, the chems, the solvents, the notes, everything. Perky came in and asked what I was doing, and then threw a fucking fit about it, but it was too late. All gone.
I still used for a brief time. Using well-made meth IV doesn't stop over-night. Well, actually it does, but we will get to that in a minute. But once everything had been disposed of, I called the cleaners in and had them totally clean the room. At the time, it was paranoia, plain and simple. But looking back, it was the best move I made in years! About 6 weeks or so after this all happened, several friends and family had gathered at the house and we were having a birthday breakfast for perky, after which I was going to take her to the casino in Tucson for some gambling. Well, we never made it.
It would seem that perky's cousin was being investigated by the HIDTA drug task force for ordering precursors on-line. She had some sent to my house, which I promptly returned to her, and then she got busted with a quantity of meth. She gave up everyone she could, and even said things-such as the fact that her cousin was making meth-that she knew were no longer true, just to save her own ass.
So, on that bright and sunny morning, we were all sitting around the house pigging out and talking about perky and eating this massive breakfast I had cooked for everyone. There were people scattered all over the house, but perky and I were in our bedroom with the brand new grandbaby eating and feeding him. Suddenly a friend of my sons ran in and said "dude, they are raiding your house!" WTF? I had this very dark window tint applied to the bedroom window so I could see out but you could not see in. I went over to the window to see what the fuck he was talking about, and there were people everywhere! Cars, trucks, guns, masks.....but no badges, no lights or sirens, nothing to indicate these clowns were cops at all. I drop my plate and grab the 12 gauge, and run for the door.....at this point, I am thinking it is the Mexicans or other drug people making a raid, not the cops.
Door gets kicked in, two guys come through wearing cut-off shorts, t-shirts, tennis shoes, full black masks, and M-16's screaming drop the guns and get down. I meet them in the middle of the room with the 12 and perky is right behind me, with a .45 in each hand. Needless to say, she has hardened up a bit by now! So we have an armed standoff with these two, and I am getting ready to just stop yelling and start dusting their asses, when the third guy comes through. This one had a black shirt with "police" written across it and is wearing a badge on a lanyard around his neck, and he immediately assesses the situation and begins yelling that he has a warrant. So I tell him to show it to me, and the idiot actually hands it to me! I tell him "three guns, three men" and he better read it to me. We finally agree that he had a legit warrant and that these two just about got killed because of their unnecessary methods, and that everyones interest would best be served if we just eased it down a notch, so perky and I grounded weapons and let the fun begin!
Jumping forward a bit, they spent the next 18 hours destroying our house, looking for a meth lab that had been disposed of months ago. Knocked holes in the walls, tore clothes out of closets, took all of my computers and guns, and scattered chemicals everywhere, looking for traces of iodine and other chemicals I might have hidden. Child and protective services responded to a report of children in a meth lab, but there was no meth lab present. So they took the kids in for a blood test. All negative. Swabbed all of their toys and their rooms. All negative.
They found less than 1/4 gram of meth, on one of the other people. About a 1/2 ounce of weed. No other drugs at all. Several cans of brake cleaner, lying in the driveway next to the car having the brakes done. Some paint thinner and varnish stripper in my wood shop, securely locked in a wall-mounted steel safety cabinet. A case of mason jars in a yard sale box and some epsom salts in the bathroom. No precursors, no chems, no solvents. No lab equipment. No drugs being produced in any way. So they put all of this together along with the snitch confession and some really strange odds and ends (like an external gas tank I had mounted to a go-cart-they said it was a hydrogen gas producing device used to make dope, because of the pH of the fluid in it. Gasoline! Duh!) and eventually charged me with manufacturing meth. Go figure.
Because of CPS taking the kids, we now had to undergo regular drug testing now. So neither of us were using. We fought this for almost 18 months and I had 6 drug tests a week for that entire time, including random tests every time I went to CPS. Always clean. But when it comes to PTSD, this was like dumping aviation gasoline on an already-raging bonfire, and it did nothing but get worse. Distrust, paranoia, hypervigilance, you name it and I was showing it on a regular and on-going basis. We had the lead detective purjure himself on the stand and under oath, several other cops had their stories discredited partially or completely, they put together this mock meth lab in court, attempting to show what we were doing, which looked really impressive. Until my lawyer started removing the things they did NOT find, and suddenly their little show and tell project looked like a bunch of crap anyone could have in their garage. My lawyer was saying we had a 95% chance of beating this at trial, and then one day, he comes up and says that they are going to give me 20, perky gets 7 to 10, my son and his finance gets 3 to 5, they take our kids away for good, take away my son's kids for good.....or I can sign for 5 years, and the deal is good for the next 10 minutes.
What happened to the 95% chance? The purjery and discredited testimony? The show and tell? Well, it would seem that the HIDTA task force produced a confession. Well, not really a confession. It seems that this lead detective said (this is AFTER he already committed purjury) that I made a verbal confession to him and he took notes and "incorporated" the confession into his current testimony. Ok, so lets see the notes. Well, it seems that standard practice is that once you have incorporated these notes, you destroy them. So, there are no notes. Nothing but the word of an already once-discredited cop saying I confessed to everything.
And that was good enough for the judge. Can you say conspiracy theory?
Can you say completely off the deep end?
More to come.
So many details left out! I re-read this, and each time I do, I think of the little details that tie everything together. Or at least it seemed that way at the time! But anyway.....
So, I took the "deal". Strange how they call it a plea deal, as if you actually have some input into how the "deal" gets structured. By this time, Perky and our kids had become my entire life and I could not risk losing them. Not even for a 95% chance. And by this time, I had come to the conclusion that the only way I could possibly quit meth was to be locked away from it. So in a way, I welcomed prison, for the simple fact that I really did not want to die now. Suddenly, I had too much to live for. So, after almost 18 months of telling my daughters I would not leave them, I had to confront them with the truth.....daddy has to go away for awhile because some people think that he did a bad thing. Mommy has to finish her part of the court thing and then you are all going to pack up and move to Colorado with your oldest sister and her family. I will be staying behind and cleaning up my mess, and I will be there as soon as I can. So I went into prison again. For drugs. Fucking wonderful!
Any time you go to prison, one of the first things that will happen is that you will be tested. Not by the prison, but by those who you will be living with for an extended period of time. Sometimes it is called a gut check, and others, a heart check-to see if you have "heart". Normally this involves some sort of physical test, such as defending yourself against two or more convicts who want to try and beat you down. Now, every time I had gone to prison before, I had always gone to the same facility. It was crazy, but the state of Arizona would always send me to the place closest to my home, which made visitation and fitting in very easy.....when you have sold dope to the majority of the prison guards on the street, they recognize you. Well, this time, they sent me to Tucson. So the majority of the convicts there did not know me and they felt the need to test me. Another crazy thing in the Arizona system is that respect is based on your number (your prison ID number). The lower your number (meaning that you have been in the system before) the more respect you get. I have a pretty low number, but I guess they didn't notice that. I was "tested" pretty much within hours of my arrival, with disastrous results for everyone concerned.
The first guy who rushed into my room left with a broken arm.....I slammed a solid steel security door on it while he was talking shit. Normally this would have been the end of things, but this guy was someone important who was showing off and got his ass handed to him for his trouble. The next day they sent in two. And I sent them right back out again. Then word got spread around that I would be jumped the next time I went to the shower and raped.
Big mistake. They sent in three this time, and I hurt them really really bad. Then I went to the guy who ran the yard and told him that I would kill the next ones he sent, no matter how many of them there might be. He told me that I could be his bitch and get protection, and I told him I could kill him just as easily as anyone else. Things went downhill from there, and we ended up getting into a battle. I will say this, he was one tough motherfucker! He fucked me up! I tried everything I could to kill him, and he would not stay down. We were finally broken apart, and came to the mutual conclusion that a heart check might have been just a little bit out of line. He could tell everyone that he won, thereby maintaining his position, and I would be left alone from that point on. Of course, we both spent over 3 months in the "hole", but because I did not say anything, it was realized that I was a stand-up guy, I just had no interest in prison politics. We ended up becoming reasonably good friends after that, and I introduced him to tax refund scams from prison, among other things. I ended up transferring to an Oklahoma prison not too long after that. But the guys who run the yards in prison are tough, they have to be in order to survive, and this guy was no exception. His only problem was that he had a thing for other guys butts, and some kid who was just in stabbed him 12 times during an attempted rape, and he actually lived through it. He was never the same, but he lived.
So here I am. Sitting in prison for something I didn't really do. Well, I did do it, but I had finished and quit before I got busted, so I could justify my innocence in my own mind. I settled in to as normal of a life as I could manage, got a routine started, and began to count the days. By this time though, I was clean and could actually start to think somewhat straight. I did some serious soul-searching, and decided that I would never use meth again. That was over 10 years ago, and I have not touched it in all that time. But make no mistake, I was still completely dis-functional! Completely mad from drug use and PTSD. But crazy like a fox! I have always been able to compartmentalize my thought processes, and I tried to make my crazy work for me. I got a job as the library clerk, which gave me access to office supplies and the copy machine. This is a coveted position because of the graft involved. I played that for all it was worth and the transitioned to a programs clerk. This is when you run various prison-approved programs, such as AA, NA, CBT, substance abuse, anger management, parenting, and whatnot. Because the prison system requires each convict to have a minimum number of "programming hours" in a variety of classes in order to advance and get more benefits and perks, this is a VERY coveted position.....suddenly, I could make sure you got a room or stayed in a dorm. I could make sure you got extra visitation hours. I could determine how much money you could spend each week at the commissary. I could determine how much visitation you got.
All because I controlled the paperwork. The sign-in sheets, the program completion sheets, the daily sign-ins-everything. I was "the guy behind the guy" in the yard. You needed something done, you pay me and I would take care of it. Legal work, copies, release issues.....you name it and I could make it happen. And all I had to do was make sure that the proper cuts got passed along. It is kind of like being in the Mob, you have to be a good earner and you can do pretty much what you want. I was even doing bankruptcy, tax, and divorce paperwork for the guards! But all good things must come to an end! While I was teaching these classses, I actually started learning a little. I first learned about PAWS while in prison.....the hard way! I chaired over 2500 hours of AA and NA meetings. I started getting involved with CBT. But it was like I was two different people! On one hand, I was a hardened, ruthless criminal who would beat you down for a wrong look. On the other, I was a man who realized there was something seriously wrong with his behavior, attitudes, and mental/emotional states. This conflict eventually led to something I had not experienced before.
Guilt. The realization that I was not a good person, and never really had been. That I had hurt others. Some very badly. Things started to change at this point. I was NOT in a good position, you never really want to feel guilt while in prison, as it will make you weak. But I found that I would hesitate at bad times. Like when beating the hell out of some dumbass. I would.....back off. Eventually word got around that I had lost my touch, that maybe it was all a bluff and I wasn't as bad as everyone thought I was. So another rape attempt occurred. The weird thing is that if these people had just tried to beat me up, they probably would have succeeded and taken my place. But they tried rape instead. The one thing that is GUARANTEED to make me lose all contact with reality and civilized behavior. I went nuts and carved these clowns up with a razorblade, and then walked up to the guard station looking like that scene from the movie "Carrie". It was touch and go there for a bit with one of them, but I think he eventually made it through alive. Not really sure about the other one though. I was immediately moved to maximum security and investigated, eventually being transferred to the out of state facility and eventually cleared because it was two of them and one of me, and they had publicly threatened rape and assault, and they attacked me first. So I claimed self defense. Nobody was talking, so there was nothing they could really do.
And as it is wont to do, time moves along. Eventually the days spent became more than the days left, and I started thinking about what I was going to do when released. I started making plans. And you know what they say about that.....if you want to make the gods laugh, make your own plans. I withdrew into my own head, trying to figure out exactly what I had become and how to reverse that make-over. Didn't have a lot of luck, either. But I tried to prepare as best as possible.
By this time, I was physically strong, but was also broken down. My body had suffered through years of abuse, my back and knees were shot, and my neck hurt constantly. I could put out 110% effort.....for a limited time. Most of this, I felt, was simply due to a lack of proper medical care while in prison. As soon as I got out, I could see a "real" doctor and get taken care of properly. My problem was that I no longer felt any real contact with humanity. It was like I was the star in my own movie, everything revolved around me, I was central to the plot and everyone else were just bit players. They were not real, YOU were not real! Just a counter I could move about as I pleased, in order to gain whatever it was I wanted at the moment. Everything was a plot, nobody was to be trusted, and the only one you could depend on was yourself. But I figured lets start on the physical end first.
To see how that whole experience went, read the "here we go again" entry of my blog. It was hell that ended well. But I am skipping ahead!
So I get released from prison. Jump a bus and head for Colorado. The entire way there, I am getting really nervous. I'm on a fucking bus filled with people that I don't know! "freaking out" is pretty mild. But I maintained for 20 hours or so, until I got to the bus station in Denver. Got to the bus station early, and didn't know what to do. I had not seen perky and our kids for around 2 years now. We talked every day, but visitation was not happening over that kind of distance.
I was scared. I was a walking nightmare, and here I was getting ready to see my wife and kids after years. What if I did or said the wrong thing? What if she didn't really want me back after all? What if my kids forgot about me? What if I was just too crazy for her after all? what if, after all this time, I was really alone? So I found a dark corner and had a seat. Started thinking myself into trouble.
But it would seem that the Goddess was not quite finished with Her little joke yet. I heard my name on the PA, asking me to come to a certain area to "meet my party". Well, I was in that area, and I didn't see anyone! Except for all these idiots with the damn balloons. Wait a minute! Those balloons have my name on them. They have "welcome home" and "we love you, dad" on them. Perky and our two youngest daughters, the oldest daughter and her husband, all the grandkids.....all there, waiting. For me!
That broke me. I swore right then and there, in front of my Goddess, that I would find my way back. That I would find a way to be a good dad and husband. That I would find a way to be a decent person. That I would stop being crazy and come back.
You see, I deliberately chose insanity as a defense against pain and betrayal. The betrayal of your family, the betrayal of your "brothers' in the military. the betrayal of the military as well as the legal system. But more importantly, I betrayed myself. I chose anger over kindness and brutality over civilized behaviour. I made a vow to myself that I would die, or kill, before I let myself be used and betrayed again. And then I did it to myself. I became that which I hated.
I am responsible. I am responsible for the consequences of my behaviour. I am responsible for the drug abuse and addiction, the many lives I have wrecked, the people I have hurt. The relationships I have destroyed, the criminal activity. The broken trust, the humiliation. It is all me. My fault.
And I am OK with that.. You see, I choose insanity as a defense to keep from getting hurt. And I rode that tiger long and far! But it is time to get off now. Therefore, I can choose sanity. All I have to do is.....accept what was and has been done to me. To understand that I was a victim and that I did not, I never, choose for these things to happen. To realize that, while I did horrible things, maybe-just maybe-I was not a horrible person. Not really too sure about that last one though. I have to understand that things are different now, that I do not have to play these games. I don't have to worry about being attacked.
There is no plot, there is no game any longer. No conspiracy, nobody out to hurt me. No need to be brutal or violent any longer, no logical reason to continue my insanity. You see, there are games, and then, there is The Game. In The Game, there are only losers and those in the process of losing. You always think you are winning, but you never seem to get ahead. You are a one day millionaire. Drugs, manipulation, crime, violence.....they are all aspects of The Game. Self-delusion, insanity, madness.....all part of the rules.
So where does that leave us now? Well, I am retired. No more Game. I have a wonderful wife and some lovely kids and grand-kids. Too much to lose now! It is time to heal, because over the years, I have hurt myself severely while trying to avoid hurt and pain. And I am actually making good progress! I have most of the markers of civilization now, such as a home of our own and all the toys that go along with being "normal". I have gotten off of drugs and am no longer an addict. No criminal activity, no taking unfair advantage of others. Taken care of, via multiple surgeries, a great deal of the physical issues which caused the chronic pain. Started counseling and therapy to try and find my way back out of the insanity and to become human again. Came to understand that you are a real person, with real feelings, wants, and desires, and not a marker to be moved around at my convenience, and that you deserve respect and consideration. I understand that I do not have to abuse and hurt others to keep them from abusing and hurting me. That all I have to do is reach out with an open hand instead of a closed fist.
This is a work in progress. A journey, if you will. I still have problems emotionally at times. Recently, I went off the deep end because of a series of events that came too quick for me to deal with and process properly, and I slipped back into being an ass-hole for an extended period of time. My youngest daughter had a problem with another girl at school, and this girl called the cops and said that she (my daughter) was going to hurt herself. So I had two of Greeleys finest imperial stormtroopers kick in my door, threaten guests in my home, tear my daughter crying and screaming out of her home and take her to the local hospital for "evaluation". Needless to say, with my previous disposition towards police officers and those in authority, that just about turned into a gunfight. Then, the so-called medical professional there repeatedly lied to both my daughter and ourselves, got pissed at me when I caught him at it and called him out, and them had her committed for 3 days because he was mad at ME. Over the Christmas holiday! Got that finally dealt with, and then had some jerk-off at the VA tell me that I didn't really have PTSD during my latest mental health evaluation. To have to sit there and listen to some guy tell you that you are lying and were never raped or physically assaulted because HE could not find any records.....lets just say that he came very close to becoming a crime statistic that day. But the long and short of it is simple-I did not deal with that well, and I slipped up. I have since addressed those impulses and made my peace with myself as well as those who I feel attacked me and my family. For now, anyway! But my behaviour here was unacceptable during this time, and I most humbly apologize to those whom I might have offended. You have my word that I will try very hard to prevent this from happening again.
Karma is a funny thing. We all try to avoid it, when we should be embracing it. Just trust and have faith, and healing will occur. I have often wondered what I will do when karma catches up with me, with all of the bad things I have done, the people I have hurt, the destruction I have caused. But I think I have been my own karma. The goal is not, as Alice once said, to believe six impossible things before morning. The goal is to believe in one thing.....myself. Which was impossible! But not quite as impossible as it was yesterday.
Or perhaps there is no goal. Perhaps it is really all about the journey. All I know is that I am no longer alone. The monster is in the process of transforming himself back to humanity again, and he has discovered several important truths along the way. One of which is the value of friends.
Thank you, my friends! More later.
Wow. So many holes! So many things that were left out, that seemed so important at the time, but have faded now. For instance, as bad as I was while in prison, I managed to get 27 other convicts their freedom. Nothing fancy, just finding discrepancies and errors in paperwork. I was unable to get my dumb ass out, but I could help others! The stop smoking programs I ran, the drug classes I taught to others, the multiple college degrees I earned there.
There was the time shortly after I got to Colorado that I ran away from home I was off parole and living with perky and the kids at my oldest daughters place, and the stress got too much for me to handle. So I took my dog and ran away, and we went down to the Poudre River and camped out for a couple of weeks. Perky knew where I was, and she knew I would be home eventually. But she also understood that I was unable to deal with the pressures of that environment right then.
There is the truly strange fact that while I was free, I could not control my drug use in the slightest. But as soon as I went to jail or prison, I never touched any kind of drug at all, from the moment I walked in the door to the minute I walked out. I was at the tail-end of a massive binge right before I went to prison the last time, I slammed a half gram of meth and walked into the courtroom for sentencing, knowing I would be taken straight to prison. That was.....lets see, close to 10 years ago, and I have never touched meth since-in or out of prison!
All of the crazy people you meet while active in a meth addiction! Every fucking range of the spectrum of insanity, from people who talk to invisible bugs to people who want to fuck everything that is not nailed down (and some things that are!) to people who are convinced they are being watched to people who tinker and fix shit that isn't broken to people who have it under control and do not display the outward signs.
Oh my god, the sex.....the SEX! How crazy do you want to get? While doing meth, nothing is off-limits or taboo. And the crazy thing is that things that would normally play right into my PTSD didn't bother me at all. My personal kink was a cross-dressing dom in mild B&D games, but it spanned the gauntlet. The bad thing was that the meth didn't make the PTSD disappear. After I got clean, I had a great deal of hidden guilt and embarrassment regarding some of the sexual activities I had participated in. And of course, the guilt-being both hidden as well as embarrassing-played right into the now-free PTSD! Damn, I was a wreck! But I have since come to understand (through various types of "therapies" and just plain common sense) that there is no need for embarrassment in this or any other aspect of my life. There is no right or wrong, no "normal" when it comes to sexuality. If you and your partner are on the same page and comfortable with each other, what is "right" and "wrong"? What is "normal" or "kinky"? And the fact that consentual activities of any sort in the bedroom have absolutely NO bearing on your masculinity or "how much of a man you are".
But the spectrum has indeed been spanned! I have gone from unknowledgeable about sex to forced homosexual acts to asexual to hypersexual and back to asexual, currently being categorized as a "gray-ace". I would really kind of like to be somewhere within the "normal" category again some day, but it is what it is.
So, where am I at now, on this journey of experiences? Well, I am really in several places! I have decided that it is time to re-engage and come back. The hurtful things which were done to me are in the past and no more, and the likelihood of them ever being repeated is non-existent. Once I came to this simple conclusion and after wading through the fog of fear, guilt, and embarrassment, the decision was relatively easy.
Conclusions. Again, a simple-sounding word. Like it was a cut and dried process. As with just about everything, hindsight shows that the demons you face down are really quite small and insignificant. But while you are neck deep in embarrassment and guilt and fear, nothing is quite so easy. I have a deep-seated, irrational fear of being embarrassed. So to sit down and talk with strangers about my life was.....hard. To admit the wrong and weird and crazy things I did, both to myself as well as to others-I have never experienced anything like that before. To open up emotionally, after all the years (decades!) of ruthlessly suppressing my emotions in order to survive, and the rush of painful memories that come along with that damn near broke me. To re-live it all......
But anyway, I have very recently went through 16 weeks of fairly intensive therapy so far, with more yet scheduled, to get a better handle on who and what I am, and can become. Worked through a wide range of pharmaceuticals, from mood elevators to anti-depressents, to anti-anxiety drugs to ADHD and PTSD drugs. Discussed the acts of abuse with my parents and got it all out in the open. Started to face the military sexual trauma and deal with that by understanding first and foremost that I was a victim.....I did not invite or desire this to happen to me. Come to terms with my current state of sexuality and how it impacts my life. I work each and every day on control of my mental and emotional state and how that affects my interaction with society at large. And it really does get easier as time goes by and I keep practicing! Each day I succeed builds confidence in the fact that what I am doing is right and proper. And nothing builds confidence LIKE confidence!
On the physical end, I have gone through a wide variety of surgeries, from extensive cervical fusion to arthroscoptic repair on my knees and shoulders to gastrointestinal work to injections in the spinal and other joints. Physical therapies, both traditional as well as asymetric. I have very successfully defeated a massive prescription pain med habituation, which saw me kick a large selection of very potent natural, semi-synthetic, and synthentic opiate and opioids. My chronic pain condition has been reduced by about 80%.....not the pain level itself, but the variety and number of conditions which caused it. I currently have some lower spine issues that cause a lot of pain, but the surgeries actually worked on everything else.
But more importantly (I think) is that I don't FEEL bad anymore. I don't feel weak so much physically now.
Mentally and emotionally? Well, as I said earlier, that is still a work very much in progress. But I have made great strides, I think. I gave up being a hurtful, hateful manipulating bastard long ago, but I have recently made a concerted effort to clean up the wreckage I left behind. Not so much like AA/NA suggests, like making amends, but in my own life. By taking responsibility for my actions-past, present, and future. By facing down the guilt and embarrassment. By facing my issues head on, instead of burying them and hiding.
By finally understanding deep down inside that there is NO problem big enough to defeat me, and that the only way I can lose is if I quit. That I transformed myself into something horrible as a reaction to horrible things that were done to me, but that I did nothing wrong to deserve the original or subsequent acts. I was a victim.
And now I am not. So I concentrate on the now, and not on the then. I can live my live and do what I do because of what I am now, not what I used to be. I look at what I can become, rather than what I was. It is still hard, and by no means complete. I still deal with PTSD symptoms, but they are more or less minor ones. Hyper-vigilance and extreme distrust of authority mostly, with some anxiety thrown in once in a while. But the really bad stuff, like the blood-drenched dreams, the anger and violence, the inability to function in society, the constant replay of what happened-those are finally gone now, I think.
The music is back! One of the things I noticed long ago was that the music of my life had disappeared. You know that little voice we all have in our head-not the crazy one, but the one that affirms and re-affirms our reality? Whether you call it your "conscious" or your sense of right and wrong, or whatever, it is that little voice that describes and explains your world to you as it occurs. Well, in my case, that "voice" was music. The soundtrack of my life! Everything was set to music of some sort. My first experience with music was, of course, my parents. Pasty Cline, Hank Williams, George Jones, Tammy Wynette. But that lasted about as long as it took me to discover Elton John and the Beatles. From there, it became Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbeth, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and the rest of the "murderers row" of 70's and 80's hard rock. Somehow, that turned into the Grateful Dead, Hall and Oates, Warren Zevon, Zappa, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and the big hair bands of the 80's and early 90's. But somewhere between the time of the military sexual assault and my full-on descent into crazy, the music disappeared. There was.....nothing. For years! I was alone within my head, and it was a pretty ugly place. But I have noticed over the last year that the soundtrack has been restarted and the music plays again.
I don't know how or why, and I have not researched it, but I truly believe that the music and sanity are tied together somehow. The music is WAAAY different now, I really don't like the crap that is passed off for "rock music" these days, it seems as if the musicians have confused "playing fast" for "playing well" Eric Clapton said it best when he said "If you can play well, you don't need to play fast!" But these days, the soundtrack is Jimmy Buffett and "island-style" music, Western (not country and western, just western-like Dwight Yocum), a little Reggae, and singer-songwriter stuff like Paul Simon. Mellow, not confusing, easy to listen to, nothing extreme.....kind of like my life is now. i know, I have often wondered myself if it a chicken and egg kind of thing, or what?
But for today, I make a concerted effort to lead a balanced and reasonable life. Recognize my danger zones and deal with them right away. Understand that everyone has an agenda, but it is my choice to buy into it or not. And realize that none of us-myself especially-is locked in to a certain fate. Today, I choose how to feel and what to think, I determine if my life will or will not be directed by another, to see that negative emotions and actions happen to each and every one of us.
To see that your character is defined by how you respond and react to those negative events. I have had a real shitty character for the past couple of decades. But that was then, and this is now. Today, I choose to see new beginnings. Not the memories of pain or the horror of the past. I choose not to be bound or trapped. I'm the driver, not the driven.
I don't know what tomorrow will bring. None of us does. But I am done hiding. The scene for the movie TED keeps playing in my mind.....Fuck you, thunder!
I'm not afraid anymore.
From this point on, I will probably add things here as I think of them or feel they might add something, but my opinion of my mental state is that the hard work is done. There is still a vast amount of clean-up to do, and there will continue to be flare-ups and trouble spots along the way, but the decision has been made. And the hard work is by no means over! If anything, the hardest part is yet to come, as I come to terms with what I have done over the years. There is so much I have deliberately suppressed and buried, and now it gets to come out and look around.
But I would like to talk about this music thing a bit more. As I have mentioned, I have a soundtrack of my life. Every waking moment and for as far back as I can remember, except for the Dark Side years, there has been a song of some sort playing in my head, and it will describe my thoughts, feelings, emotions, the circumstances of that particular moment, and any number of different things that all go in to making up this huge cosmic joke we call our life. For years, that little voice, that music, was gone. Not muted, not on a break, but gone. I was dead inside. But then one day, I was driving across town, doing my usual thing of constantly making a running danger assessment, like looking for lines of advance and retreat, good sniper positions, defensible buildings and locations, etc......this is actually what I do practically every waking moment, no matter where I am or what I'm doing-and I heard it.
Very faintly, a voice. WTF? It was a voice, and it was saying the same thing over and over, but it was more of a mumble and hard to understand. And it sounded.....weird! Then I understood what it was saying.
"We will defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We will NEVER surrender!"
It was the intro to the Iron Maiden song "The Trooper" And as soon as I "remembered" that, the entire song burst into my head-just like when I first heard it in concert a lifetime ago! And it fit perfectly with my mindset and the circumstances I was dealing with at the moment. And at the end of the song, I was shocked. First of all, I had never noticed it being gone until that very minute. And I noticed that there was a certain lightness to the day somehow. So I started actually listening to the radio in the car and it was there. Every word, every song. No matter what channel I surfed, I heard the songs in my head again. Then I realized that 10 or 12 minutes had passed, and I had not done a single threat assessment in all that time-and it was not really bothering me! I felt.....not bad.
Since that pivotal moment, the music has returned non-stop. Not OCD-like or anything, but it is back to what it was like before I had this major trauma. Just a soundtrack of my life, in my head, that describes my world with music. Everything in tune, everything in balance. It helps me see things in a more even way, all the time. For instance, I recall that when I finally had the conscious thought that it was time to take matters into my own hands and start this journey, the song that was playing was Jimmy Buffet and Martina McBride doing "One More Trip Around The Sun." I heard this as an acceptance of the futility of continuing to play games and the hubris of thinking that I was somehow important in the grand scheme of things, but then I began to hear the freedom of just letting go and accepting things as they are rather than as I want them to be. Eventually, what I heard was freedom.
Finally deciding to confront these horrors in my mind, but terrified of admitting them to myself? Bob Marley and "Redemption Song". Telling the very first person-my mother-about the sexual abuse I went through the very first time, when I was 7 or so? Bob Dylan and "Tombstone Blues". I don't understand that one either! Realizing that I could not do this alone, that I would need to return to my Goddess? "Fly Away" by Wendy Rule. But I think the best by far was when I decided to write everything down here. Grateful Dead, and "Hell in a Bucket".
There is a song for each and every situation or circumstance you can ever possibly conceive of. Try to think of a situation that could not be described as a song somewhere! Music helps relieve stress, anger, heartbreak, illness.....you name it and someone has written a song about how they felt when it happened to them. And those songs can be applied to your own life. Eventually I got to the point in which I could let the music dictate my moods. That, in turn, would color my interactions with society. I listen to what is today considered "heavy metal" in the morning, to get up and ready for the thought of another day-awake, energized, and ready for whatever the day might bring. Then, as I leave the house, I switch to Radio Margaritaville-laid back, easy-going, relaxed, and up-beat. When I get back, it is classical, old-school Western (Bob Will and the Texas Playboys, Dwight Yocum, etc.), or Marley-era reggae. If I am in a different vehicle, I listen to whatever is on there. But regardless of what is playing, it always seems to exactly right somehow!
I know the whole music thing sounds crazy, but I swear it isn't. Really! I actually try to live more of an "island-style" way now, which helps (Havana Daydreamin'. Jimmy Buffett). There are very few things that are so demanding that I need to get worked up over them (Boy in the Bubble. Paul Simon). I pay less attention to time and more attention to self (Work is good, work is fine, but first take care of head! Sublime). I realize that stress is my reaction to external events. MY reaction. And if it is mine, it is mine to do with as I will. I choose how to act when confronted by an unexpected or discomforting event. And rather than choose anger, violence, manipulation, or some other similar negative action, I choose.....Jimmy Buffett. Toots and the Maytals. Bob Marley. John Frinzi. Any number of other people who say "Hey, life is too stressful as it is! This shit won't make it better, so sit down, feel the breeze, have a margarita if you want. But chill out, because people are just people-funny as hell! Watch and laugh!". But obviously, you cannot live your entire life like that!
Here is another small clarification that I thought might put things in a better perspective. When I say "crazy" or "socio/psychopath", I don't necessarily mean like James Holmes thinking he is the Joker and shooting up a crowded theater or the two kids they blamed Columbine on years ago. I never singled out an innocent to prey on. Yes, some did get caught up, as collateral damage, but I never saw someone like perky and consciously made the decision to exploit them. I always preyed on people like me-the dregs of society. But I found this excerpt that explains it somewhat better:
What defines a psychopath
Psychopaths are pathological liars, manipulators, and charmers. They have a distinct lack of remorse for their own bad actions, a failure to accept responsibility for the same, and an overall lack of empathy. They are impulsive and irresponsible, seeking constant stimulation. Many are horribly violent and their motives "more commonly will involve sadistic gratification," according to an FBI bulletin devoted to the disorder. "The psychopath is an intraspecies predator," it reads.
Psychopaths are found in every country, belong to every race, and the majority are men. According to several studies, roughly 1% of the men in the United States are probably psychopaths, and they most likely exhibited signs at a very young age. Those signs are key -- there is no known cure for full-blown psychopathy.
What kind of treatment might a psychopath even receive? "You can try to train them to feel emotions," said Hare, "but that is like trying to train a cat to be a mouse. None of the programs seem to work except those that change behavioral problems. You might get them to look out for themselves in a different way, to develop an enlightened self-interest." And in order to do that, early detection is paramount.
While children are not labeled psychopaths, the markers that predict a high probability a child will develop a psychopathic personality include many of the same characteristics: lack of guilt; lack of empathy; lack of concern about performance; and shallow or insincere emotions. Because children showing high levels of the callous-unemotional traits also typically have very low levels of fear and anxiety, they usually don't have a positive behavior change from programs emphasizing discipline. They are more likely to respond well to positive reinforcement and reward-oriented programs.
And as Hare points out, "Not all psychopaths are criminals. They are in business, government, academia and media. You'll find lots of these people, but they're not committing criminal acts. They will take advantage of people."
And, as I have always believed, not all psychopaths who are criminals are bad ones. When a person preys on bad people and-for the most part-leaves the innocent alone, does that make him a bad person as well? Well, I guess the answer to that would be determined by whether or not you personally are bad! If you are, then what I am doing is terrible because I am targeting you or the group you belong to. But if you are not, then am I not doing you a service by removing the ability of those who would target you or the group you belong to?
Masks and justifications. Lies and manipulation.
The answer is yes, that person is still bad, because there is no justification for this type of behaviour in a civilized society. No matter what kind of mask you put on it. And as I sit here reading this over prior to posting it, I wonder.....am I doing it as a form of manipulation? Am I trying to justify my actions after the fact? Am I trying to appear as somehow less than totally guilty because of some medical condition? After all, is this not exactly what psychopaths do?
No. I am guilty as hell. Of everything here and much, much more that has not yet been related. I believe that what I have admitted about myself throughout this thread dovetails quite well with the excerpt. Now I will probably second-guess everything I write here from now on, to make sure! But that is how you come back from crazy-you examine your motives and intent, as well as your interactions with others, on a minute by minute basis, so if you start to slip, you can identify it and get back on track right away. Positive re-enforcement. Eventually, what started out as a thing that had to be attended to hourly and daily on a conscious basis becomes habit. And habit becomes character. And character is what people remember. Not how many times you fell, but how many times you got back up. I'm working on my character, and it seems to be a project with no end in sight. But is that not how it is supposed to be? I just climbed down the ladder first, then started back up!
I have come here and re-read this a few times, and just could not add anything at the time. There are still a few bits that are somewhat painful, and I have to maintain a balance between "getting everything out" and doing so in a healthy and effective manner. I remember the very first time I was intentionally cruel to another human after the first sexual assault occurred. The group of kids I ran around with had a "secret spot" we hung out in, which was an abandoned gas station that had become overgrown with weeds and trees and shit. But we found a way through it all and once inside, set up our "fort". One of the things abandoned was an old refrigerator, and it was just stuffed in a corner. Well, one day, we 3 of us were hanging out, and one of the "hangers-on" showed up. These are the kids who are tolerated but not really part of the "in" group. This kid was tryiing to buy his way into the group, and he was taking money from his mom to do so. We didn't know that at the time of course. All we knew was that he showed up with cash and gave it to us! Well, he showed up and I extorted the hell out of him! Took all of his money, stripped him down to his underwear, and stuffed him into the refrigerator, then swore I would walk away and leave him in there if he didn't go get more money. He came out crying and covered in dirt, swearing he would go get all he could and come back.
I was 9 years old. And having that kind of power over someone felt......good! I didn't really want his money, because I always had whatever I wanted. The money was just an excuse. I wanted power. I wanted control! I never wanted to be hurt again, so I started hurting others first. This kid actually did come back, and with a shitload of money, too. Which surprised me, I damn sure would not have returned! But we told him to take it back, and he ended up getting caught sneaking it back, so the whole extortion thing came to an end anyway and he got into trouble. I found out later that he had been caught a few times before taking money that didn't have anything to do with us (he was a fat kid and liked candy), so we didn't feel bad for him at all. but I remember how it felt to stand there and listen to him inside that refrigerator, and knowing that I had the power to let him out or not. And what I remember the most was that it did not feel bad or wrong.
Of course, all of this was years before the big deal about taking the handles off or punching holes in the door ever started, we never realized that you could die like that. But that was the beginning, the first remembered deliberate act of aggression against another person. And it just got worse from there. But, just for a change, lets jump to the other end of the spectrum! Where am I at now?
Well, perky and I have been married for 13 years now, and together for over 24. We have 4 wonderful kids who are either successes or succeeding in what they want to do. The two youngest are in college now, the one who dropped out is now studying computer engineering and the other is working on becoming a dentist. I have 5 grandkids now, as well. Bought a house for perky 2 years ago. I drive a new car, she drives a new car, and I just bought our youngest daughter a reasonably new Jeep for her first car. I own my own business as well as managing the business perky owns, and we make stupid amounts of money for what we do. I'm typing this on a $4000.00+ gaming laptop I custom-built. I carry around a Colt M1911 Gold Cup .45 pistol and have everything a family of 4 will need to survive the coming zombie apocalypse for 1 year-food, fuel, survival items, and everything else you can think of in storage in the basement AND a complete duplicate set of everything in a secure bug-out spot hidden in the Rocky Mountains. OK, that might sound a little paranoid, but I see things that others don't. And what I see coming scares even me! Well, not really scares, but it DOES "concern" me greatly! We go out for dinner as a family every Friday night and I take her to breakfast on Sundays. Movies, day trips, sporting events like MLB and UFC, trips to the Denver museums and public events.....whatever and whenever we want.
In short, I have all of the toys and "markers" you would expect to find in a successful persons life. I am now and always have been (even in the beginning, I just didn't know it then) madly, crazy, deliriously in love with perky, and she returns it ten-fold. All of our kids, as I have mentioned, are great. Oh, they are kids, don't get me wrong! But nothing like me. They have all the things I didn't have, like values, morality, and ethics. They understand that a dollar is something you work for and appreciate, not something you take from others, and that there is nothing shameful about getting dirty to earn your dollar. They know that "hard work" is not just a phrase, it is the key to success.
I am part of, and co-leader of, this Pack of ours. And every single member of that Pack knows that there is Pack, and there is Other. Pack takes care of their own, survives and thrives as a family unit, while Other just.....dies. Usually in a herd and confused to the very end. But Pack also understands that we do not have to be a part of, or contribute to, that death. All we have to do is go our own way and be left alone to thrive. Just because it is easy to take advantage does not mean it is right or proper. But when one of us is attacked or threatened, you suddenly have 28 sets of teeth (including the grandkids, boyfriends, sons and daughters-in-law, assorted other family members and friends) at your throat. And as much as I have changed, as much of this ugliness I excise, as much as I truly want to be a better person, mercy and understanding are not words in my vocabulary when it comes to an attack on my Pack.
I will go so far, I will change so much, but there is a certain point beyond which I will not go. Not because I can't, but because I have drawn a line and have said "this far, but no further." I will change and return to what passes for normal, I will stop all of these crazy beliefs and habits and thought patterns and return to sanity. I will not hurt others without cause, nor will I take unfair advantage of anyone. I will not manipulate or use others for my own purpose or advantage. I will let bygones be bygones, apologize, and maybe even eat a little crow. I will stop all of the drugs and return to a clean and healthy lifestyle, both physical as well as mental. I will address the physical issues with my body and the mental ball of strings in my head in a positive way.
But only up to a point. If you put your hands on me without my permission, I will break something on you. If you attack my Pack in any way without justification, I will come for you with every resource at my disposal. And those are much more considerable than you might expect. But other than that....live and let live.
Well, I just found out that these posts are limited to 100000 words! So I continued this as a comment. I will wrap it up soon enough anyway, I have found that going through this as I did and relating what I did has served as a huge catharsis.....I am really OK with a lot of shit now that would have sent me batshit bughouse crazy a couple of years ago.