Something happened last weekend that I feel like I need to share. For those of you who don’t know what I’ve dealt with for the last couple of years, please click here. For those of you who already know, my heart is broken right now, and I’m extremely hurt that someone I cared about would jump to a worst case conclusion without even talking to me.
The person is a former teaching colleague, a lady I adored and believed to be a true friend. Last Sunday, she posted something about having a pinched nerve in her neck and asked for home remedies. I’ve got a little experience with neck issues, so I commented asking if she had tried heat. After my comment, someone else told her to alternate heat and ice. In my experience, ice makes my neck feel worse, but I wasn’t in the mood for an internet argument, so I sent her a PM saying as much.
Not long after that, when I checked my notifications, I had a new friend suggestion for someone who had my former colleague as a mutual friend. I’m sure most of you have experienced similar on Facebook after interacting with someone. Because of my circumstances, I have been pretty judicious about adding new people, but lately I’ve been trying to open back up a bit more. I clicked on the profile, which had very little information, and virtually all of the profile pics were memes and positive affirmations. About all I gleaned from the profile was that she was a female in Johnson City, probably a college student, who liked to read. Because she was friends with my former colleague, I figured it was safe to add her.
A few minutes later, she accepted the friend request. I messaged her to say hello and try to find out a little more about who she was. We chatted for maybe 5-10 minutes, and at one point, I asked if she was a student at ETSU. She responded that no, she was still in high school. At that point, I stopped messaging her, and she never messaged me again either.
In my mind, I had done the right thing. I had extricated myself from the situation and had not allowed anything improper to occur. As far as I was concerned, the situation was over. However, the next morning, I got a PM from my former colleague blasting me for approaching her 16 year old niece online. She threatened to call the cops on me, deleted me as a friend, and blocked me.
When I woke up, I sent her a brief email explaining that I didn’t know the girl was 16 and had thought she was a college student. My former colleague responded that I had betrayed her trust by trolling her friends list for a young girl to contact. I can’t really describe how deeply that hurts.
I’m honestly crushed by her response and the allegation. Ever since my release, I have lived the most wholesome and honest life I can possibly lead. I don’t drink or take drugs, don’t lie to people, don’t use anyone, don’t bother anyone, don’t chase women, don’t go to bars, and don’t do anything that could be misconstrued as inappropriate. I live 100% in compliance with everything expected of me. I work 6-7 days a week and only want to get back on my feet, have time with my kids again, and redeem myself from this bullshit stain on my reputation.
It hurts to think that someone I cared so much about would think so little about me as to immediately leap to that conclusion. Not only that I had intentionally “trolled” her friends list for a young girl, but also the implication that the only possible reason I would ever befriend a woman is for sex. Most of my closest friends are women, and our relationships are purely platonic.
It also hurts that my friend didn’t come to me one on one and have a conversation about what happened. She simply had a knee-jerk, emotional response and has probably been telling people what a horrible human being I am. I get that superficially it looks bad, but the reality is that I did not purposefully approach a teenage girl and removed myself from the situation immediately. If she had taken any time to discuss it with me and think it through rationally, we might still be friends.
I will share screenshots of the entire conversation below. I did not flirt, did not say anything inappropriate, and did not say anything that could even slightly be misconstrued as sexual. As soon as I found out she was in high school, the conversation ended. I truly do not know what else I could do other than remaining in an insular bubble for the rest of my life.
Anyone over the age of 40 who is single can attest to how hard it is to meet people. I don’t even mean people to date. Just people to interact with and have meaningful conversations with. For the last year and two months, I’ve not really attempted to meet anyone new. When I first got out of jail, my life was a shambles and really had no room for new people. Slowly, I have begun to build some semblance of normalcy for myself, and now I do want to start living fully again.
I know that there are people out there who will always think the worst about me. I can’t do anything about that. All I can control is how I conduct myself on a daily basis. The people in my inner circle, most of whom are women by the way, know the real me and see the kind of life I lead. All I can do is continue to work hard and live a decent, honest life. For the people in my life who truly matter, that is enough.