I’ve been running from myself since June 21, 2005. That was the day I went to court, and stood in front of a jury for Domestic Violence and Assault charges in Bend, Oregon. That was the day I was branded guilty by a bunch of people I didn’t know.
It didn’t matter that he hit me several times before. It didn’t matter that he was emotionally destructive. I took the fall. The thing is, I don’t think that is the totality of who he is, and I know I am a challenging person to deal with. I basically chalk it up to, two passionate people with incompatible support skills. I’d invite him to tell his side, but I am sure he has no desire to rehash. And since all boyfriends move on, it’s kind of better to just get the hell out of the way, unless their current person/wife, is curious about you, and makes the initiative.
We were young and emotional. I will accuse him of not wanting to meet me at the level I need for communication; and because, as my readers know; I am kind of wordy, I want to break it all down to get to the grit.
Anyway… That day I had a woman judge. I hoped the cop wouldn’t come to testify. Neither one of us had support to back us up. It was just “us” against “us”. Two people in love, but failing at making it work, being represented by strangers.
Later he told me, that while he was on the stand, he was secretly hoping I would do some Basic Instinct flash under the table. Little did he know, I thought about it. We were really attracted to each other. And when stuff was great, it was amazing. He was far more in his body; and I was far more into my mind. Neither of us lacked heart, communication was a huge issue, despite how much we had in common.
I don’t recall any of that coming up in court. Verdict by Jury, Guilty of one count Domestic Violence, One count Assault and Harassment.
I felt very strongly that this was an improper representation of who I actually am, as a person, and the majority of my actions. I knew what was on the table ahead of time, from the police charges. I did EVERYTHING and MORE, than the Court could have asked for with out going back to jail as a sentence. I did it ALL before the Court asked me to.
Shortly after my arrest, I went to the Court Assessor, and I asked, point blank “What is the most the Court will want from me?”
He said, “Drug, Alcohol, Domestic Violence Classes, counseling, and Community Service.”
I got on it immediately. I had insurance through my job, and I found a Mental Health provider. I payed the co-pays of $25 dollars a visit. I enrolled in the DADV classes, and paid $25.00 for each of the twelve classes (max sentence). I found a lovely non-profit art gallery, and volunteered my time, and met some really lovely humans.
I “paid my dues” in full, without request. I asked my boyfriend to come to the DADV classes with me (because they encourage it, ) but he wouldn’t go.
In my free creative time, I kept performing Slam Poetry, to meet people, so I didn’t feel so isolated.
The Judge and I talked “off the record” after the verdict. She asked “Were you two living together, despite the mandated restraining order?”
I replied with, “Yes, your honor. We are both, kind of, all we’ve got, here. We have only been here a year. I actually wanted to defend myself, and the Court Assessor, really discouraged that idea… but I am a writer, and I do feel this situation doesn’t really represent who I am or what I am about; I wrote a poem shortly after the incident, that I wanted to use as my defense. I wanted to share with you that I do take responsibility for myself. Can I share that with you?”
She says “Yes.”
And I recite this piece of poetry, that I had been performing for months at Poetry Slam events. Reveling in being raw and vulnerable, because my boyfriend never went to the events, and no one really knew who he was anyway, so I was somewhat anonymous.
She is moved to tears. “Can I get a copy of that? I work with a lot of women in domestic violence situations.”
I tell her, “It is my pleasure to give you a copy, right now.”
This is when she basically tells me that if I don’t fuck up again; I can have my record expunged. And she makes note on my PERMANENT Record.
Inside, I know I have learned my lesson, and this kind of thing WILL NEVER happen again, under my watch.
And I liked the idea of it. I felt somewhat empowered and emboldened. But I also felt kind of fearful, because, many times in that relationship, the only thing I felt like I did wrong, was trigger emotional reactions my boyfriend wanted to avoid. I was guilty of asking intimate questions to a person who wanted to keep secrets, and assumed I was keeping secrets as well. I was an open book, willing to be torn apart, just so he could make sure I was legit.
That didn’t keep us together. Shortly after the trial, he said he needed to think things over, and get some space. He rode his motorcycle back to Colorado to celebrate his birthday, and see his friends. ( I always felt like he met his wife, on that trip. My intuition is rarely wrong, but he never owned up to it.) He didn’t come back on time, and I got worried, and then I got angry… He was back for maybe a month, and then I went and did something to piss him off.. and he was done. He packed his car, and planned a date to leave.
His chosen departure date was my 25th birthday. He asked, “Do you want me to stay around for your birthday?” I said, “You don’t want to be here, and you don’t want to be with me. I know that. Staying isn’t doing me any favors.”
So he left, and I threw myself a birthday party with co-workers from the pizza shop I worked at. I felt sad, and independent. Our lease was up a few days later, and I closed a chapter of my life, with my longest (admitted) serious relationship to date.
In the meantime… maybe I felt like I needed to hide a little bit. I couldn’t stick out in a bad way. I couldn’t be in a relationship, because I started to believe that I am too volatile and I lead people to anger, aggression, and violence. And how could I be loved if I was such a beast of a human.
So much pain for a three year relationship- 2000 mile move-one year of living together in a foreign place-kind of situation.
Turns out he moved on quickly. Now he is married with a child. I hope he is healthy and happy; we don’t keep in touch.
His life went on, emotionally. While mine, kind of stunted. He was the only person, I felt like I was really willing to lay it out on the line for, and he wasn’t willing to take it, or give it back. I felt like, I broke him in, for some other woman. That I got nothing out of it… and what am I? Just some set of training wheels for men to use, in order to learn how to respect and communicate with women? Then they get to go on to have loving, intimate relationships with other people, while I exist as some sort of emotional Dakini?
If so, so lame. I want a long lasting love, too.
So, I did what anyone who wants to guard themselves from further emotional disaster would do; I further reinforced the fortress around my heart and my intimacies grew even more casual, short term, and brutally honest. I refused to be anyone’s girlfriend. I would hook up with one guy for a month or two (tops) seasonally. I didn’t like the idea of being with many people at once… so occasionally, I would give some one a chance, and “feel it out.” I would get bored or frustrated easily. Occasionally the men I was interested in, were not very interested in me.
With every one I would try to be with, I kept feeling this dissonance, like “I shouldn’t be with this person”, but I would let it “run it’s course” until things got awkward, and eventually just faded into a “somebody that I use to know” situation.
I kept running.
Four years, before I could expunge my record… Mugshots.com uploaded my mugshot to their website. As did a couple of other sites. Four years, before, I could just pay the court eighty dollars for an expungement and seal off my records… Some dumb dotcom is out to make money off of people with public criminal records. I was horrified.
When I googled my name… my horrible head shot was the first thing you would see. To have it removed I would have to send proof of expungement ($80.00), and then send proof of the expungement with an additional payment to the website of $237.00 to take it down. The catch? I read the small print, and it states , “that there is no guarantee that it wouldn’t be re-uploaded” because it is PUBLIC RECORD.
Welcome to the times. Public Records are all over the internet.
What the actual FUCK, people?
My record, and mug shot were now potential internet fodder.
So I went to my mug shot page, and I left a comment, saying that the picture is ME and how I feel about the whole matter, and that if anyone felt like discussing it, I would fill them in.
I took on the moniker, Madge Midgely Laycock. I created a personality, so that I could release my artistic stuff, and not have it directly tied to the top google search of my name, leading to that humbling mug shot, my criminal record.
If I do say so, I honestly did a really good job with redirecting myself, from myself, to “protect” myself.
I haven’t checked on my appeal. I haven’t paid for expungement, because now it is already out there on the internet, and the court won’t be responsible to make sure all public accounts on the web are sealed. I have written about it more than once. As open as I have been, publicly, for myself… I have continued to run.
I’ve been running for almost a dozen years, because of one night.
I don’t want to run any more.