Saturday, February 23, 2008

Can You Fail the Test With All the Right Answers?

I could tell there was something wrong with him when he sat in the chair beside me. Last week, he appeared so friendly and talkative. But tonight, something was different. At first, I thought maybe he was depressed over something. He had mentioned in our last session that he struggled with that, but that it felt like he was getting stronger.

The rest of the group arrived and took their seats. There were two new faces tonight...men who had missed for various reasons last week. As the Dr. came in, he took his regular seat just to the left of me. I didn't realize when I claimed this chair last week that I was choosing the seat at the front of the classroom. I shouldn't have been surprised.

The Dr. spoke to the man beside me and asked him how he was feeling.

"Scared!" came the reply.

I was watching him, and that was the exactly the emotion he was exuding. I could tell there was something.

"Why don't you tell the group what happened this week".

So he started. He had failed his polygraph and he was afraid they were going to send him back to jail. He explained to the group what had happened. Like the polygraph I had taken before I joined the group, the tester had gone through a series of questions with him. It sounded like they created some of the questions together. And then he sat down to take the test.

Polygraphs (in my brief one-time experience with them) are not what I had pictured from my exposure to them on TV. The tester goes through the questions with you before the test so you know what is going to be asked. When I took my only polygraph, I thought that was wierd and helpful. After the man to my right explained his week, I'm no longer very certain of that.

It seems the man works as an Information Technology person at his work which has him on the computer all day long. There were a few occasions when he removed the filter that had been put on the computer so he could access some programs to do his work. He is also apparently a bit of a recluse and his only social life is found on-line...through e-mail correspondence with a few old friends. The tester asked him about removing the filter and if he had viewed any pornography on-line. He answered "no" and the polygraph started to dance...never a good sign. The tester told him that he failed, so they would redo the test.

There was a short break and they tried to clarify the question. But as he took the test the second time, he failed even more miserably than the first. His anxiety level was shooting through the roof.

I have no reason not to believe him that he had not viewed pornography. As the group discussed all that had happened, the man talked about how his mind was working and that he had been thinking about how this probation officer would have viewed his practices. He had watched part of an on-line re-run of the British version of "Big Brother". When he realized that it was getting racy, he turned it off. He watches quite a bit of TV and most of the reality programs. Sometimes, there is a little skin revealed. He knew his probation officer's definition of inappropriate content might frown on those images.

It sounded like he allowed his mind to worry about what he had been doing and it showed through the polygraph test. He failed it, even though he probably didn't lie and he actually hadn't violated his conditions of probation. If something like that happened to him, could it happen to me too?

I have tried to be careful since I was released from prison. I honestly don't think there is anything that I have done that would be considered a violation of my conditions of probation. But the conversation during our group did shake me a little bit. I know that I will be called in for another polygraph sometime. I don't know when. And I don't know what questions they will ask me. I don't know if it will be the same man who tested me last time or someone completely new. I simply pray that honesty will actually pay when they connected those wires to me.

I know that God is in control of everything in my life. He simply wants me to trust Him, and I do. When I get that call to report for the polygraph, I know God will be there with me. If I fail for some reason, I know He has a purpose in that. It is difficult sometimes to understand His reasons, but I know in the big picture, they are always better than I what I could have planned. He doesn't need wires or a machine to know if I'm lying...He knows my heart. He is the only one that I really have to pass the test with.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Wow! I love the title of this. I feel for the man in your group. I feel for all of you in this possibly impossible situation. It definitely adds to the question about what is truth and what is not, and who gets to decide. I'm so glad you're able to know that God's truth is your protection.

I want to know more about what's going on in group when you're ready to talk about it. Is it stirring things up for you? Helping memories surface? Contributing to your healing process?

I'm glad you're writing more - selfishly.

I love you.