The Line Between Art
And Crossing The Line
7 months ago, I went dark. Before I get to the how and why — I need to reintroduce myself. My stories are still up and available to read since reactivating my account. Some of them are good, some terrible and some even went viral. That’s not important. What’s important is I’m back and never again will I allow an employer to dictate what I can and cannot say on social media.
Well…that’s a lie. Here I am with an alias persona — as recommended by a leader in my company. So, I’ll keep writing. This is what keeps me sane and has been my outlet for the better part of 20 years or, since the advent of BBS boards and other social media platforms.
You’re probably asking yourself why I turned this page off. Of course, you probably aren’t and that’s OK too but I’m going to tell you any ways.
7 months ago, I was marched into the offices of people relations. They had read one of my blogs. Strike that. They had read the first paragraph of one of my blogs. This is generally where people get into trouble with me. You simply can’t go part way in. As one peer put it to me after reading some of material “if people only ever read the first one to two paragraphs of your blog; they would think you were a colossal asshole…”
This peer, at the time, was invested in me so he invested enough time to read from beginning to end. He was in shock. I have to surmise this is the effect my blogs have on many and whether it was a conscious decision to write this way or, simply — this is my way — I never could have understood the impact my writing would have on others.
I’m sitting in the office with two individuals. One is my direct lead and the other is the head of HR. She calmly states I was whistle blown. In my mind I’m freaking out because I can’t imagine what I could have done to have another peer report me. Then it came. “I read your blog.” Still, I didn’t think much of it as I write lots of blogs that are in the public domain. “I was reading your blog and part way into it I thought — this guy needs to be fired.” She went on to explain how angry the words made her. As they came off the page, she was furious.
She stopped reading and left her computer. Fortunately, she returned and finished reading the rest of the piece. It was quiet as we all sat there, me on the other side of the table and them looking at me intently. “Our CEO asked me to fire you.” I had that sudden tinge of panic. Apparently, when a whistle blower complaint comes in, it’s all hands on deck. She said to her boss “hey, did you read the whole thing?” to which he replied — of course not. Fire him.
Her story to me was this — she convinced him to go back and read it in full. He complied and then went on to read a bunch of my stories. The word I got was he thought me clever. I guess it’s the way I reel a person in and then smack them over the head with the reality of what I’m trying to convey.
A whole bunch of executives read my blog(s) and at the end of the day, it was decided they wouldn’t fire me for actually being the exact opposite of what a peer had accused me of.
The caveat however was simple and to the point: Your blog or your job. I need to go on account as saying I love my employer, the job, the people, so it was a easy to decision to make. I wanted to stay employed.
What I couldn’t have imagined was the impact such a decision would take on me. I went dark. Not a pause, not a temporary do not pass go — it was like turning off a light switch. In the moment it felt like the right decision. I was taking one for the team and putting my emotional and creative outlet in a trunk and packing it in the attic.
Subconsciously, I must have known. I was angry. At the process, the whistle blower who either wasn’t smart enough to understand what I was writing or was too lazy to read the article in its entirety.
What pissed me off the most is I live with a victim of rape. She suffers from PTSD and only recently did I come to understand that it’s not easy being in a relationship with someone suffering from this. Writing about a woman’s experience in a man’s world is actually something I am qualified to write about. 15 years in a relationship with my beautiful wife who I love dearly and who I share in her trials and tribulations as a victim of rape.
It hasn’t been an easy journey. Her issues always bubbling just under the surface, the fact there has never been closure or justice. Her pain has become my pain. While I didn’t experience the brutal gang rape back in the summer of 88, she has trusted with me the intimate details on how it stripped her of her humanity that fateful evening. In typical fashion, a small town and good old boys who play hockey and whose dads are part of the community…the police quietly made this go away. The reports are telling and if this happened today — perhaps my wife could have assumed the role of victim instead of the unimaginable — a 15 year old being accused of putting them self in that position. Victim becomes harlot.
You can only imagine the impact this would have had on a young woman at this time in her life. The instant ostracizing, the ridicule, the whispers and then her desire to end her very young, very troubled life. Thankfully, for me, her attempt failed and she got the help she needed. Sadly, there has never been any closure and I try to find solace in the fact that at least one of those boys today is suffering inside with his knowledge that no 15 year old, very drunk 15 year old, would ever ask to be repeatedly fucked by various, random monsters in the back seat of a car.
Two months ago, I decided to seek help. There is monumental stuff going on in my workplace and it made me realize we still have a long way to go in defining roles between men and women and what constitutes appropriate behaviour. My anger was starting to manifest and cloud my judgement. I was lashing out and it was effecting me both personally and professionally. The tipping point was my wife saying to me one day as I walked in — I”m not sure who is coming through that door each day…”
I was horrified. It was clear, control was lost and my emotions were running their own end game and they didn’t invite me in. Changes were needed and while I did get a little push — I relieved myself of certain duties within the company I currently work at and booked myself in with a therapist.
It didn’t take her long to strip it all down. Which is where I’m at today. She acknowledged turning off the tap (my writing) was a bad idea as it is not only my creative outlet but it is my coping mechanism. It is how I process a world too dark at times for me to withstand. There’s little room for people like me — idealists. This notion the world could somehow be fair when it’s clear almost daily fairness is not how it works. Without getting into a whole other blog, I just need to acknowledge our greed and selfish behaviour will always contribute to the world we see today. I just need to focus on the light coming through the cracks.
I’m 46 minutes in and feeling somewhat cathartic in all of this. It’s a lot to put on the page. I will run it past my wife to vet so if you’re reading this now, she gave the go ahead…
It feels good to be back. Hopefully, I can find a new audience out there who will take the time to share in my experiences without jumping to conclusions about who they think I might be based on incomplete information.