It sure feels good to be alive again. Like many people here, I went through a period believing I would never feel alive again. It is easy to look at a situation and focus only on the negative impact. Yes, I suffered from negativity, I had friends abandon me, I was told I was no longer welcome in my model building club. I have had to live on the fringes of every family get together. I have sweated when being inspected by D.O.T. or whenever a police officer shows up at my door. I have also felt the uneasiness when a family with kids crosses my path at Walmart, like many here, I have been approached and called out in public by the woman who knows EVERYTHING about EVERYONE!! Yes, fellow registrants, we’ve been there!!
When I went to jail my decision was simply to lay low and that I would let people come to me. I never dreamed how many of my friends would visit me or write me. Sometimes, the true colors of people blossom when we need to see them the most. I got letters from casual friends who I rarely talked to on the outside. A lady from church wrote me every week. One of my friends wrote me weekly an visited monthly as well as on my birthday and Christmas Eve. It continued when I got home too. Another friend who works with an organization that would normally be a direct conflict with a Registered Citizen visited me the night I got out with a cake his wife had baked for me AND I was invited to dinner the following evening. Our friends WILL be there, but only our REAL friends.
My real surprise was the people who left me. A close friend who swore he would always be there told me not to contact him. He happens to be the president of the model building club I was a member of for 15 years. What a let down!! One of the things that kept me going in jail was the knowledge that my fellow model builders would be waiting for me. Ironically, by definition, they are a group of grown men who play with toys and gather for a play date once a month and share better ways to play with toys, and I am “Just too weird” to be a part of it!! But, I still build my models, I don’t need to have friends to build models!!
After about 3 years of living on the outside of family affairs, I am finally being included again. It is funny how something I had such a happy go lucky attitude about became so important. I spent a long time enduring the humiliation of not being included in picnics, birthdays, baptisms, trips to the zoo, or even just a courtesy call to see how I’m doing. My deepest level of sadness was when my dad and stepmom went out of town for Thanksgiving and my sister and nephews were “just hanging around family” for the day. I had a unique blessing of going to my friend’s house instead and feeling TOTALLY welcomed. FINALLY!!! At Christmas, I was invited to spend the day with my family!!! Dad, his wonderful wife, my sister, nephews, and her in-laws were all there. It was just the beginning of healing. Wounds continue to mend as I was invited to a car show and dinner with my sister and nephews, and even better, vacation with dad and Deb/mom later in April!!! I am back!!!
As a long haul trucker I travel through many states and I am subject to being pulled over and inspected by D.O.T. at any time. They check hours of service logs, truck safety, and the dreaded “Driver Qualifications”, consisting of license inspection, criminal history, and wants and warrants. I have been inspected twice now. Oddly, both times, they have mentioned I am a tier 1 in Ohio, asked if I had a travel release, and dropped the subject. My probation officer has never bothered me, in fact, we get along very well. On one occasion, I ran into the prosecutor from my case at the dry cleaners. Okay, that was awkward. Not knowing what else to do, I held out my hand in greeting, he asked how I was getting along, and like 2 gentlemen, we shook hands and parted ways. The FUNNIEST was when a friend and I were buried in a bunch of IKEA furniture I had bought. As we were building it, the police showed up, somehow, his phone dialed 911 and hung up!! I think every police officer on duty showed up!! The neighborhood got it’s show once again, the neighborhood “perv” gave them something to gossip about!!!
Yes, there are rough days, too. Questions like “How long is an appropriate amount of time to look in the direction of other people at the store???” That is a big factor. It took a while to realize that not EVERYONE knows me and those who really do don’t care HOW long I look in their direction!!! Well, at Walmart one day, out of the blue, a woman I had never met before walked up to me and said, “How could you show your face around here, acting like nothing is wrong, you sick pervert??” With that, she spit in my face. Luckily, my town is not my only choice for shopping, so I simply shop in another town. Same goes with eating out, I choose other places to eat, it really has been that simple.
Finally, I owe a lot of my inner peace and a huge chunk of finding new life to you, my brothers and sisters of SOSEN. It was YOU who showed me that there IS life after registry. Each reply I receive, each personal message, phone call, affirmation, even negative comments to keep me in line here and there have been fuel for my daily walk. I never dreamed that by registering publicly into a category of undesirable group of people that I would meet such a diverse, interesting, giving, and understanding family. You understand me far more than anyone else can and true healing began when I began to see how blessed I am.
Stay strong, SOSEN!! We are unique and dynamic. God Bless!!