I’m Back

I’m back.  A lot has happened.

Blogger.com discontinued FTP publishing and even before they discontinued it, it was extremely flaky making posting very difficult.  But now I’ve got this ported over to WordPress and hosted on my servers where Google/Blogger can’t break it.

I spent 2-1/2 years in state prison for sexually abusing my daughter.  I know I probably deserved more.  I was charged with and plead guilty to incest, but it could have easily been charges that would have kept me there for a decade or more.  I won’t pretend like I’m real comfortable talking about it here but I’m doing so on the off-chance it might help someone out there take action they need to before they destroy a family and basically make a mess out of their life as I have done.  I know many will read this and say, “I would never do something like that”, but in truth until someone’s mental and spiritual health goes south, you have no idea of what you are capable of.

I’ve been out since April 9th 2012, under “community custody”, the modern term for parole. I’ve upgraded Eskimo North’s web server so it can run WordPress and used the Blogger Importer module to import my blogs into WordPress, or at least those I deemed worthy of continuing.

Things happened to me while in prison, particularly during the first two months which I spent in the IMU (the prison term for solitary confinement), that have changed my life in ways that I badly needed, and that I am grateful for and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to everyone who facilitated that.

I’ve had extreme anxiety issues from about the age of 25 when I stopped smoking marijuana.  I think probably I would have had it much earlier but the marijuana was actually pretty effective self-medication, unfortunately not without it’s side effects such as asthma, marginal functioning, lack of initiative, etc.

The initial reason I stopped was because I had an incident where I came home from work and my just recently born first son had an accident and got a cut on his lip severe enough to require a trip to the emergency room and stitches.  I wasn’t stoned at the time, having just come home from work, but the thought did occur to me that had I been, my son could have bled to death.  I was now responsible for a life other than my own.

And then I noticed, hey I’m not getting asthma attacks anymore, and I didn’t miss not being able to breath so that pretty much convinced me it wasn’t a healthy thing and I’ve not gone back.

But then shortly thereafter I started having real problems with anxiety, although at the time I didn’t recognize it as such.  One afternoon I had chest pains and real sense of tightening in my chest and I feared I was having a heart attack.  Back then, Northgate used to have a hospital, Northgate Hospital, and an emergency room and I lived just across the street and a few blocks south (5th and 100th NE), so I went into Northgate emergency.

The doctors there determined my heart was fine, I was having a panic attack, gave me Xanax and hooked me up with a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist initially gave me more Xanax, but it wasn’t all that helpful because the overshoot when it wore off made my anxiety even worse and I rapidly became dependent upon it.  So he switched me to a longer acting benzodiazapine, Klonopin and started me on an antidepressant.  Over the years there have been so many antidepressants I’ve been on that I can’t begin to name or remember them all.  What I do know is that Klonopin didn’t have the rebound anxiety that Xanax did, lasted longer, and over time I was able to reduce and stop taking it.  Some of the antidepressants would be effective for a short while but none for a long (more than a few months) while.  Talk therapy also never really got me the relief I needed in part because I wasn’t willing to be honest about my past and in part because I wasn’t consciously aware of what was causing the anxiety.  I do have the belief at this point that had I been willing to be honest about my past, I would have become conscious of what was troubling me, and had at least a chance of dealing with it in a healthy manner rather than the way I ultimately did.

That wasn’t the only time I wasn’t honest with my psychiatrist. Before I started abusing my daughter, I had feelings that I knew were not right, they weren’t overtly sexual, they were feelings like being in-love as opposed to normal healthy parent-child love, and I did tell my psychiatrist about those.  But then he asked me if I felt like I were in any danger of acting upon them, and I lied and said no.  I did so because I knew if I did otherwise, he would be obligated to report it and they’d either take me away from the home or take my kids away.  If they took me away the home would be lost because I operated my business out of it.  My wife contributed no income, they’d all be out on the street, or at least those were my thoughts, so I said no.  In truth whatever would have happened would have been better than what ultimately did, so there is a lesson in this folks.  If you go to a shrink, don’t lie to them.  You know you need the help else you wouldn’t be there.

Things got worse over the years, and shortly after my last son was born, Edward, they kind of hit a peak.  There were a number of reasons. Growing up, I didn’t feel like I had a real family.  My father left home when I was around ten, I never really got along with my sister, and I never knew when my mother would explode so I avoided her.  So I didn’t feel like I had a real family growing up.  So when my last kid was born, it felt like I had a real family now, a different role, but still it felt like I had a real family.  But, in my mental state at the time, time seemed compressed into nothing, the time from when I was ten, to the present, seemed like an instant, and I knew, it would not be long before my kids were grown up and gone, and I’d feel without a family again.  What I didn’t realize at the time was how much of that was to be self-fulfilled prophesy. Because my relationship with my parents had a lot to be desired now that I was out on my own, I believed it would be the same with my children.  That how I behaved with them, and thus the relationship we would have after they moved out, was actually a matter of choice, that concept was totally lost on me.

I wanted to be all things to my daughter, I wanted her to never want to leave.  I wanted something momentarily to distract me from the fear of dying, even for a few minutes and it took something very intense to do so, and legitimate normal sex didn’t do it for me.  I wish I would have tried heroine instead, maybe even overdosed before I damaged so many lives as deeply as I did, but that’s not the road I went down.

Now, in retrospect I’ve come to understand the reason for my anxiety, the reason had to do with some crazy sexual things I did early in my adult life.  They weren’t illegal things, they involved only consenting adults, but they were definitely things that the Bible warns us we shouldn’t do.  And in spite of the fact that I didn’t live right, I believed in the reality of God, but the God I knew then was not the loving God I know now.  My mother, she used to come home intoxicated, and she’d be crying, and I’d ask her what was wrong and she’d say she’d been married five times, surely she was going to hell, and that’s the God I knew then.  And I thought surely that was where I was headed too.

Before I went to prison, I was really hoping I’d get a SOSA.  It’s a program designed for first-time sex offenders without a criminal history that allows one to stay out of prison (there may be a shorter term jail sentence) and get treatment on the outside.  But that was not to happen, and a few months into it I became aware of why it didn’t happen and in retrospect it was a good thing.

I plead guilty and initially went to King County Jail, an experience that was miserable.  They have pods designed for 12 people with somewhere between 20-24 crammed in them.  You have people sleeping on the floor because there aren’t enough bunks (and I got to do that for part of my stay).  You’ve got horrible hygienic conditions, because there is one toilet and one shower for 20-24 people, and because many of the people there are serious alcoholics or drug addicts that aren’t functional enough to take care of themselves.  People are sick, going through withdrawal from whatever, or they’re on methadone and sleeping 20 hours out of the day.

After I was sentenced, I as transferred to Shelton for classification. I had gone three days without sleep prior because I was just too frightened and wound up, and when I got there and tried to sleep but I’d snore and my cellie there kept waking me up.  I ended up in the IMU and so for the next two months I was alone in so far as being with any other human beings was concerned.  Before coming to prison, being alone and dying were my two greatest fears and they were great fears.

When I got to the IMU (Intense Management Unit), there were two books there, a Christian fiction novel which I finished in two days, and a Nelson study Bible.  I’d read the Bible quite a bit before going to prison, but I think I gained a much better understanding there.  I had nothing to do except read the Bible, pray, and write to my wife and so that’s what I did.

During the first month or so nothing really seemed to happen, and at times I found myself questioning if there really was a God, or if that was just another delusion I held.  But then I started having dreams that I came to call lesson dreams.  In them, I’d be having some disagreement with my wife, or children, or doing something else that was generally selfish, and then that part of the dream would re-run and I’d be shown how I should have behaved, how I should have handled that particular situation.

In my prayers, I asked to be taken from that place and basically blamed everyone but myself.  I blamed my father for leaving and not being honest about why he left, I blamed my mother for binge drinking, I blamed my psychiatrist for not seeing that I really desperately needed immediate help when I told him I had inappropriate feelings for my daughter and not acting upon it, I blamed the lawyer I had for not getting me a SOSA even though I told them I was going to plead guilty and not put my daughter through a trial, effectively calling her a liar when she had told the truth and I was guilty (and really could have been charged with worse), but as I was saying one of these prayers one morning, I heard a loud booming voice say, “You are responsible for the suffering you’ve caused.”, and that was all.

My inside therapist and I have some disagreement about the source of that voice, he thinks it was my own, I think it was God or a messenger (angel) of Gods. At any rate, after grinding on it for several hours, I realized that voice was right, and I prayed to God, I am responsible for the suffering I have caused, and I asked for forgiveness, and this was hardly the first time I had asked for forgiveness, but the Bible says we have to first repent of our sins, then ask for forgiveness.  Well, how could I possibly repent as long as I was ascribing my behaviors to external agents over which I had no control?

I then started another letter to my wife, and as I was writing I was overcome with an absolute intense joy.  The only thing that ever came close to it was when I was present at the births of my children.  And I felt like a million pounds had been lifted off of me.  And I knew God had forgiven me. That’s not to say family and friends and all those I’ve hurt would or have, but it was to say I was no longer destined for hell, and with that, the anxiety that I had been saddled with for the last 25 years, and it probably would have been longer than that had I not self-medicated with marijuana for a period of time, it was gone.

I was still on Celexa at the time, but I knew I didn’t need it, but I wasn’t sure how permanent the effects would be, so I stayed on it until April of 2010.  Now they generally recommend tapering off but by April I was sure the effects would be permanent, I’d never really had an antidepressant be effective that long, so I just quit, and I suffered absolutely no side effects, withdrawal symptoms, nothing.  I quit and haven’t been on anything sense nor needed it.

I’m not saying I don’t have ordinary anxiety now, things like bills are due and I haven’t got the funds to pay them, but it’s not the overpowering dread sheer terror I’m gonna die and go to hell all saturating fear that I had before.  It’s manageable, sometimes unpleasant, but manageable normal anxiety about normal things that normal people experience.

While in prison, I got to participate in a number of good programs, the Sex Offender Treatment Program there where I gained a much better understanding of my thoughts and emotions and learned better strategies for coping with them.  The therapist I had on the inside, Steve McColm, a caring decent man really helped me.  He is retired now and that is that programs loss.  There was a program called Mindfulness Meditation which simply is all about awareness and becoming aware of what triggers certain emotional states gives you some control over them and helps cope when you can’t.  You know sometimes there is legitimate suffering we just have to go through and it’s a lot easier for me to accept that now.  The church there, was had some wonderful people come in and teach and hold services.  They helped me.  The way they helped me was perhaps not what you would expect.  I saw some older pastors in their 80′s, along with their wives, come in, and what influenced me the most wasn’t what they said or did but what they were, at peace, content with whatever they had, and that’s what I wanted more than anything, is to be at peace, content with my lot, whatever it is.  And I’m still not 100% there, but I’m working on it and I feel those people showed me the path.

So now I’m back, my youngest son Edward, moved out before I got here and won’t let me know where he is or communicate with me.  Nor would he communicate with me the entire time I was in prison.  Of my three sons, he was the closest to my daughter, shared a room with her for a number of years.  I hope he is doing okay, he’s an intelligent kid, but he’s also 19, so I worry about him.  I hope sometime he will take a chance and get to know the me that is now.

Another thing I got while in prison was some education, they had an Interactive Multimedia course there which I took and went way beyond the intended curriculum, learned HTML, CSS, and JavaScript better than I had known it, learned Flash Action Script and PHP. And all that allowed me to understand that the surface hasn’t even been scratched yet with respect to what is possible on the Internet.

So I’ve come back with some real regrets, but also with an acceptance that I can’t change the past, only what happens from this very moment forward.  I’ve learned to focus my mental energy on things which I can control or at least influence and that really helps with day to day living.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve been able in less than eight months to bring up a new shell server on a modern architecture with a modern graphical interface, replace the web server, ftp server, and MySQL database server with a modernized versions, and I’m working on mail. That’s more than I did in the five years before I went to jail and with considerably less resources.

I won’t pretend like my relationship with my wife is perfect, or sons that are still speaking to me, but I think a lot better than they were when I went to prison and that’s a work in progress.  And I know there are a lot of prison converts that dump God as soon as they’re out, but I’ve come to realize that if the only place I will have a relationship with God is in solitary confinement in a prison, then that’s where he’s going to take me because God will take us wherever we need to go to be with him and folks, that is NOT a bad thing!  But it’s better if we stay near God when things are good.  So I’m doing my best to do that.

Be honest with people, especially those who are trying to help you, yourself, and God.  Don’t deny God, without spiritual health you can’t expect mental health.  If you know you’re in trouble, get help regardless of the potential consequences, the consequences of not getting it are worse, especially if sanity slips away.  Satins power over you is through lies and fear and that’s all he has.

I want to thank everyone who has helped me in the system and on the outside while I was in, my Son Carl who kept the business going, my father who helped my wife through some difficult financial periods in my absence, Mike who helped keep us in our home and Eskimo afloat in my absence.

And I would be remiss in not mentioning Bruce, my outside therapist, who although he’s a bit of a hard-ass at times never the less is a caring and knowledgeable hard-ass who has been helpful in my re-adapting to the outside world.  He’s in for serious surgery right now and so I’d ask anyone who believes, to put in a word for a speedy recovery.

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