Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#121 The Pain of Shame (retro)

The Pain of Shame

It is just after 11:30pm here as I start this blog, but by the time I finish, then post it on my 7 prison blog sites, it will be after midnight. I suppose all is well, all things considering.

Before I continue, I want to keep thanking those of you who support my writing. It’s not just a bunch of words when I say thank you, because it has really gave me a purpose and reason to write as much as I have.

I am grateful for those who have requested to receive one of my “Grades of Honor” books, which is a series of books written about my incarceration. Each book covers a part of my incarceration, and I hope to complete the entire series, which could easily be like 12 books…we’ll see.

You can also email me about questions about prison issues or just make a comment. I’ll do my best to try to answer them.

Anyway, I said all was well, but I guess I kinda feel down. Today while I was at Wal-Mart, I ran across a high school friend of mine that I had not seen in a long time. We talked for a few minutes and I asked him if he had ever been to our high school reunion. As best I can remember, my class never had one. He agreed.

But he said there is going to be a big class reunion for the classes of 1982 to 1997, and includes 3 different high schools in town. This big reunion is supposed to take place on Memorial Day Weekend. Lots and lots of people are expected to be there.

He gave me info to check it out online, and there I saw a lot of guest sign ins from over 200 people, some of them I remember from high school, some were old friends when I was a kid…I really wanted to go…so many people are gonna be there…

But I can’t.

I talked like I was going to try to make it, but deep inside I knew I wasn’t going. A guy like me, an ex felon, going to a class reunion…there’s no way.

It really got me down when I thought about it. When I was in high school, I was one of the best students. I could have played sports but we just could not afford for my mom to take me back and forth for the practices. I was quite athletic. I won awards for drama class, made great grades, went to National Close Up in Washington DC to learn about our government, and a similar camp to learn about state government at Wake Forest University.

I graduated near the top of my class, and went on to college and studied Radio and Television, and minored in Journalism. I won more acting awards, worked for the campus radio station, wrote for the campus newspaper, did numerous other things and graduated near the top of my class.

I worked for 2 different radio stations after graduation, worked as a GED instructor for a technical college, acted in several plays, started a mail order fragrance business and many other things. All that and more…

But I also went to prison…and that’s what people will remember.

I realize that is vanity, that maybe people won’t care about that, but human nature is also quite vicious. I wanted so much to be able to go to my high school reunion and see old friends, people I had not seen in like 10 years…but I don’t think I would be able to enjoy myself with the thought of an “ex felon” in their midst”.

If I had time to had done something successful after my release, then maybe I could feel better going, but I have not really accomplished what I wanted to do. I think it’s everybody’s dream, to go out and “make it big” and return to your class reunion as someone successful. I can see it now:

Look at her, she’s a lawyer now.

Look at him, he is in the military in Germany.

Look at her, she owns a small business.

Look at him, he has a great paying job and management.

….look at him, he went to prison.

Even if I could go, I just don’t think I have enough confidence to be able to endure that. I wanted so much to see my friends after all these years, but I am just too embarrassed to go. That sucks.

I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else, wishing I was someone better than who I am, but you just hate to feel like the least valuable person at a class reunion. The funny thing is, since I got out in 2001 I have probably done more than people can imagine in the media. I was a talk show host for a local cable station, I was a radio announcer for a Christian radio station, I did interviews for two different local cable stations and became the executive producer of a second Christian radio station and produced local high school sports.

But people will only remember that I am an ex felon. That’s not what I want to be remembered for, so I will have to avoid the reunion. As much as I want to go, I can’t. And it’s probably just as well, the prices for tickets and stuff is going to cost a pretty penny anyway, and I can’t afford it, so that gives me the perfect excuse.

It had me thinking of my value to those around me, and it’s hard sometimes to try to hold your head up when you are an ex felon. Sure, I did my time, I paid my debt to society and all that jazz, but I will never be released from my past. It kinda bothers me that if I went to this reunion, all it’s gonna take is one person whispering to another, “hey, you know he did time in prison”, and I’m gonna feel like the worst person there.

I’d rather just avoid that and stay home.

Well, maybe I’ll get lucky and run into somebody at the mall or somewhere, and maybe can talk to them and catch up on old times…high school was fun, but I think my college years was the best. Still, to catch up on times with people you knew as teenagers is always nice to do. I just won’t feel very comfortable at that reunion.

I wish it was a masquerade ball or something where you could wear a mask, then I could pretend to be someone else. Oh well, life goes on, whether you want it to or not, so it will one big event I am just too ashamed to attend. Looks like I’ll be home playing video games and blogging…

Hope you don’t mind me doing that.

Anyway, email me at derf4000 (at) embarqmail (dot) com to ask about my writings and make a comment if you can.

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