Now that you are caught up, I have had two encounters in the past two weeks.
AJ and I use the same grocery store. I have gone to great lengths to make sure we are never there at the same time. One of these lengths is circling the parking lot to make sure his car is not there. Last Monday, his car was there. So I parked in a hidden spot and waited, watched him leave (not in a creepy way, just in the way that I wanted to make sure he left), and THEN I went grocery shopping. So that was panic inducing, but not to the point of needing to take Klonopin.
Tonight was different. Tonight I went out to dinner with some important people from our underwriter, and some important people from my company. There were 7 of us. We were sitting at a table in which I had my back against the wall and was facing out to the rest of the restaurant. I randomly told Chris, my supervisor, that AJ sometimes comes here, and how much would it suck if he came in. But I was in such an obvious spot, I assumed if he DID some in, he’d have the sense to see me and ask to be seated elsewhere.
There I am, happily engaged in conversation, but looking to my left because most of our table was to my left. Then I looked at Chris. The table a little bit to the side and behind Chris, formerly an empty table, now contained AJ’s Aunt, Uncle, Dad and Step Mom. There was no hiding the look on my face. Eye contact was made with the aunt, and my face turned to pure horror. She glared at me. I looked away and went back into conversation with the people to the left of me. But then, a little further into the conversation, I looked at Chris and saw the aunt and uncle both give me the stink eye. This dance went on for about 30 minutes. I got a casual, over the shoulder stink eye from the step mom. As much as I was trying to not look at them, they were also going out of their way to not look at me – that is much harder at a table of four than a table of 7. It looked awkward for them. To his credit, Mr. Novak did not turn around to give me the stink eye.
Here is the thing. All you know right now is “aunt” and “uncle” – I have not named names and I won’t. But this particular couple has a son in prison for heading up a child porn ring, and another son waiting on a legal settlement from Disney because he tripped over a railroad track and broke his ankle. I, on the other hand, have not committed crimes, been to jail, or sued anyone. I work hard, and have climbed the ranks of my company to the point that I am having dinner with important people. And yet – the stink eyes I received were enough to induce panic.
Now the stink eye from the step mom. She has a step son who SHOULD be in prison for statutory rape, but got off because the family has money. I play by the rules. I have always followed the rules. Much like Alexander Hamilton, I am honest to a fault, wordy, and have no issues sharing my opinion. So yes, I have shared my opinion about AJ with them, and they did not like that. That’s fine. I understand that no parent is going to say “You are right, my kid did some really horrible things.” But this parent said “The horrible things my kid did, they are all your fault. You are 100% to blame, and you are the person who brought all this about.” Except, I didn’t. I tried to talk AJ OUT of committing a felony. I tried to tell his dad to talk him out of committing a felony. When I saw more potentially felonious issues on the horizon, I tried to tell them again, this is happening. Instead of stopping AJ, they blamed me again.
Anyway, you know the story.
Back to the present. They thought they had the right to give me looks. They thought “This is a bad person who did bad things.” I looked at them and thought “These are people with one son in jail and another trying to live off a law suit because he tripped on something, and the other person is AJ who has cheated on more women than I can count on one hand, burned every bridge he ever crossed, lied, cheated in school, and flat out put me through psychological hell for 8 years. Why am *I* panicking? I am morally superior to all of them, I am more successful than any of the “kids” in this scenario (and actually, more successful than 3/4 of the adults there), and I am, and always have been, right when it comes to what happened with AJ.
When I got back into my car with Chris, I LOST MY SHIT. I was shaking, I was hyperventilating, I was in full blown panic. But on the ride home, I realized that no. I sat through that dinner, facing them, knowing how much more successful I am than any of their kids, knowing I am right, I do right, and I follow rules. I won. They gave me the stink eye, I gave them something to aspire to be. They’ll never know that, because no one is going to say “Damn, she’s right.” But I am right. I have always been right. I have always been good.
To top it all off, this night made me love my job even more, if that is even possible. The four Embracers who were there, some of whom are a Pretty Big Deal, stood up when it was time to leave and created a Wall of Embrace so I could walk out without having to pass the table of The Stink Eye. They didn’t even discuss it, they just stood up, and boom. A Wall of Safety happened.
I won. If this happens again, I won’t panic. I’ll do what I always do – I will have sympathy for those in worse positions than me. I will feel sorry that they have criminal children, and that my parents have had it easy with two very successful, honest, good people as children. I will try to realize how hard it must be to know that part of the reason you have to have a high income is to pay for the best lawyers for your kid. I will try to understand that it is impossible for a dad to not defend his kid, no matter how very wrong what that kid did turns out to be. And I will try to be more empathetic to the aunt and uncle who had no idea their kid was going to be spending 15 years in prison because the child porn ring was so well hidden from, they had no idea what was coming. I will take all of the good things I put into the universe, and hope that it gives some peace to the parents who have to deal with morally corrupt children, knowing there is nothing they can do about it. You have to love your children no matter what, and it must be very difficult to love these kids knowing what they’ve done to other people.
Instead of panic, I will focus on my healing thoughts and my visions of peace for the parents involved in this situation. They blame me 100% and that is 100% wrong, but I don’t know that I could turn to someone I raised and say “Wow, you really messed up a lot of lives, I have no respect for you.” If I had a kid, I would probably try to make anyone else the bad guy, too.
And yes, this was only written after major amounts of Klonopin were consumed, after I stopped hyperventilating, after I stopped shaking, and after I got home and squished my cat.
I am fierce. I am resilient. I am good. I am a fighting spirit. I am pure. I am innocent. I am confident. I know exactly who I am.
Thank you for listening.