Confessions of an Ex-Con

Confessions of an Ex-Con

Jean-Pierre Bellemare    File: Criminality, Prison

Sometimes my jailbird past seems too heavy for me to bear.

Many of the folks around me see me as a successful example of a rehabilitated criminal, which can be overpowering, suffocating.

This floodlight of well-meaning compliments trained on my lowly self can serve to inhibit my psychological healing. My self-esteem is still pretty low. Which is a recipe for self-sabotage.

That’s why sometimes I have to hide in my shell to escape the applause, the high expectations. So I can breathe a little easier. It takes some of the pressure off.

I’d really love to make all these wonderful average law-abiding citizens happy. But I am a weak man, and my road to rehabilitation is full of pratfalls and obstacles.

I’m well into my second year of freedom and I still have a lot of misconceptions and stinking thinking to deprogram from my brain. Take love, for example: perhaps the most difficult and delicate subject to grasp.

I was quarantined from tender caresses for a long, long time. Now that I’m out in the world sometimes I feel like an affection vampire, a mosquito looking to latch on to the nearest open patch of skin.

Romantic chatter, especially at the outset of a relationship, is full of innuendos and subtle gestures and half-masked feelings. It’d be nice if things could be a whole lot clearer. I get lost a lot. I feel like an idiot. I’m sure I look like one.

Other sorts of conversations go much better for me. I can clearly communicate with friends and work colleagues.

Not long ago, I asked my boss for a raise. I gave all sorts of good reasons to support my request.

The answer: REQUEST DENIED.

That shocked me a bit. I know I deserved the raise.

Still, I prefer my socio-cultural position to that of my boss. I’m content with my station in life. His smiles, as rare as his generosity, feed an inner core of greed that eats away at his insides. He gives the impression of working really, really hard to make himself unhappy. At least, that’s what I’m thinking.

Why, then, would I do something to complicate matters even further?

I am comfortable in my own skin. And that is priceless.

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