Collateral damage — learning to live without regret: Part VI

See also: Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V

Part VI: Accepting reality

By Daisy . . . Looking back on our impossible journey, I see now that it was the accrual of tiny little steps—just minute little decisions—that sent us on a trajectory that involved future full-time employment, completed education, home ownership, savings for retirement, and friendships. It’s not everything that I expected as an arrogant and entitled youth, but I have come to accept the path my life has taken.

One thing I work on daily is grappling with regret. Gone are the days of the “why” questions:  Why did he even download those five photos? Why didn’t he think about what he did and destroy the computer’s hard drive? Why didn’t he set it on fire, burn it, beat it with a hammer, and bury it in the forest? Why didn’t we find money to pay for a lawyer instead of resigning ourselves to a series of unhelpful public defenders who each knew nothing about Alan? Why didn’t we try harder to get the judge to give him a lighter sentence? Why did this happen to us? Why are we so stupid when I thought we were smart? Why? Why? Why?

Sigh. I have played that game countless times and it always ends up with me feeling powerless to do anything about my future since I’m so focused on my unchangeable past. My realization came when I opened up to my friend who calmly listened and proceeded to pass not an ounce of judgment on either Alan or me. I realized that at least one person can appreciate the honest and raw pain of my story—despite the troop of people before her who did not—and that was good enough for me. She was a bright light in a dark forest as I made my way through alone and stumbling, trying to make sense of life and how I got to where I was.

Part of my realization was that I had to accept the reality of my life. I obviously had to accept it because it was either acceptance or suicide—though I was not averse to the latter. While deep in thought about the terrible, dark pathway my life had taken, I had an “Aha!” moment. Because I had to accept the reality of the situation, I therefore had to accept myself with no regrets. I simply could not regret the path that I took, the person I had become, and the opportunities that I had lost. When you fail, you learn. We failed majorly but we also learned and grew and developed in a way that I’m completely certain we would not have done had we not had this experience. Because of this, I am far more centered and grounded than I ever was. I am more empathetic and patient with others. I am more understanding of the fact that everyone has different life experiences. And I have a better sense of what it means to live an authentic life with purpose and meaning through helping others. I am happy with the person that I have become, and I would not be who I am without this experience. I must accept myself and my past—warts and all.

I slowly began to understand the importance of at least attempting to live without regret after we moved back to our original city and into the house that would eventually become our first real home. In late 2012, I ended up finding an excellent job in social services (a far cry from my original science-related goals). At that same time, Alan had graduated from a community college with two degrees in a promising technical field after I gently but persistently cajoled him into enrolling in 2010, and he was poised to enter the job market as well. One month after I took my first “real” job, Alan was also hired at his first real job—despite his criminal record. We were both around age 33. At 33 years old, we were finally taking entry-level jobs that we should have taken ten years ago. We were finally earning money. We were finally gaining confidence.

The clouds began to part, and that elusive silver lining became sunshine after the storm. 

Part VII, the conclusion, will be posted June 28.

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Avatar Lisa Chaney 3 months ago.

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  • #57131 Reply
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    admin

    See also: Part I  Part II  Part III  Part IV  Part V Part VI: Accepting reality By Daisy . . . Looking back on our impossible journey, I see now that
    [See the full post at: Collateral damage — learning to live without regret: Part VI]

  • #57138 Reply
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    Ernest B Tucker

    Your husband is lucky to have you. My wife left me after 39 years. The day I was released, she moved to a different town.
    She has denied me any info about my children and alienated all affection. God bless you.

  • #57144 Reply
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    Mark Goodenow

    Without going into the point that simple possession of banned should be a misdemeanor at worst (as it once was).. Let me thank you for your time and story! Such things are a great motivator to continue in the good work of trying to prevent others from experiencing the horrors we have endured in attempting to live a free and productive life. God Bless!
    Mark Goodenow; member Oregon Voices.

  • #57143 Reply
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    Mom

    Mom here,
    My son is currently in prison and very worried about finding employment. He’s learning how to become an electrician in prison.
    It is important to know that one day the clouds will part and the sun will shine again. Persevere!!

    • #57191 Reply
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      Chuck

      Hello,
      The key for your son is to be honest, direct and explain to the hiring manager how the job he is applying for is going to help him get to where he wants to be. If the hiring manager can see he is someone trying to learn from his mistakes, they might be willing to give him s chance. Basically I made a mistake and this is what I am doing to turn my life around. It is really easy to fall into the mentality of whoa is me. Don’t let your son do that. Let him know it is going to be tough but you will emotionally support him.

  • #57142 Reply
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    Lisa Chaney

    Thank you for sharing this journey. It gives me a glimmer of hope for my Son. He still has 11 yrs.
    Ernest, my prayers for you and hoping you have some support system.
    Lisa

  • #57149 Reply
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    Mike Ward

    Hi , I had everything going great in my life. My wife had cancer surgery and the night I brought her home from the hospital I received a call and was laid off after 31 years of giving everything to the co.
    It is impossible to not have regret. I had a nervous breakdown after I lost my job and worrying so much about my life , I ended up in Malibu Cal in one of those 45,000.00 a month rehab/ counseling as I was severely sexually and physically abused when I was 7 this went on for 4 years. Regret I wear as a badge.
    Many many drugs

  • #57154 Reply
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    Mp

    Accepting the reality of your life….yes….the hard part. Once you do, positive things follow. It is difficult to change the way we think and view what happened that started it all. And in the case of being a registered family, what continues to happen. But we can and we must. Speaking out and sharing is what helps to get us there. Thanks for taking the time to tell yours.

  • #57174 Reply
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    Jim

    It has been a deep and challenging effort to accept the reality of my life, and overcome the regret of it all. I virtually live in a hole most of the time, and find little support (if any at all) apart from my wife and one of my children. And it is more burdensome still that they, too, share the present difficulty of my past actions ( which was over 30 yrs ago.) Politicians will never provide relief, nor will mercy be found in society in general because of the incessant negative propaganda by those whose career prospers because of the registry. It is unlikely that any real positive relief will come via the Supreme Court anytime soon. I feel certain they will delay as long as possible. But, I (we) press on, unwilling to just roll over and play dead. I (we) may be wrongly robbed of our liberty, but I dare not be robbed of my life. The worse the conditions, the greater the opportunity to overcome.

    • #57192 Reply
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      Chuck

      It is important when you speak to someone about being in the registry you hold your head high. You made a mistake, you are now in the process of rebuilding. It’s been almost 11 years since I was arrested and it’s tough trying to put it all behind me. I have 1 year left on the registry. I can’t believe the day I been waiting for is almost here.

  • #57507 Reply
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    Saddles

    You know I hate to think because we can all think too much. I wonder if we are all collateral damage. Actually no one should say they are collateral damage. Sure we have all been abused by some mean’s, form or fashion weather male or female young or old makes no difference.

    Abusive families or relationships., marriages or self abuse. Sure we are on the registry in many ways but how many high balls does it take to get one sober? Are we all guilty or should we just take it and hope it all passes or stand up to this victimization of conscience.This story is a good self help for the writer and speaking out about this is conforting to all in this psychocological damage that the registry can cause to a person. Yes things can play on the mind and even the label can be stigmatize

    Is the registry a controlling factor or an error on man or woman’s part or are we puppets in all this human infriengment. Are we scared to even walk outside our doors or should we all curl up in a psycho ward. This person is brave to even write their story and even thou we all struggle in many areas’ of this sex registry encounter their are still those being abused either wrongfully or is the registry actually a form of collateral damage.

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