Monday, October 31, 2011

The Roller Coaster

The knot was still there this morning, feeling almost larger than it was on Friday when I got the call. I have been working with Jamie (my probation officer) to get permission to purchase an electronic tablet that my sister Deb and her husband Walt had sent me money for to buy for Angelwings. The money has been sitting in my bank as I did my research to determine what kind of tablet would best fit the needs that I have as an antique dealer. Last Monday, I talked with Jamie and she said she didn’t think there would be any real problem but she would have to run it past her supervisor. She told me that I had her support. And then she told me that I was being taken off of electronic surveillance on my computer. My heart quickened…a small light at the end of the tunnel of these past eight years of incarceration and supervised release.

As I hung up the phone and her words sank in, it helped me to realize that there may actually be an end to this journey that I’ve been on. The man who started is not the same man who is ending it. The “roller coaster” of emotions that my mind and body have gone through over the past 2,810 days has had more twists and turns than the wildest ride at any Six Flags amusement park. Most have them have resembled the emptiness in your bowels that you feel when the car takes the sudden drop or hairpin curve that you didn’t see coming. There have been a few moments of the peace and rest that you feel as the car just slogs along as you come to the end of the tracks.

When I talked with Jamie last Monday, it felt like I was on that final part of the ride when your heart finally stops racing at 120 beats per minute and your stomach starts to settle back into where it belongs. But Friday’s call provided one more twist in the ride. She told me that before I can purchase the iPad, I need to take another polygraph. And then that I could expect to take another before my release from supervision date in August. Finally, I was informed that I’d have to do another “one-on-one” evalution with my treatment counselor. Heart racing…stomach dropping. So much for the smooth ride to the finish.

I’ve tried to reflect over the weekend why I have so much anxiety about the polygraphs. It’s not that I’m not confident in my answers – I don’t need to be afraid that I’ll be lying about anything. I like the man who will be performing the test…we’ve gone down this road together now for a few times. What it really boils down to is trust. As much as I try to trust, there is a deep wound that I haven’t been able to heal that makes it difficult for me to trust. It’s not only people that I have difficulty trusting, in this case it’s also the system. And the problem is compounded for me because what a polygraph actually measures is anxiety. This is a test that the results could never send me to prison (because the results aren’t reliable enough), but they could send me back.

Like that man in the car on the roller coaster, I grip the handrail and let out a scream (silent in this case) as I take this unexpected turn. The adrenaline kicks in and all of the feelings that are associated with that chemical ravage my body. But I stay in the car. I’ll take the test. And I’ll wonder when and where the next unexpected turn is going to come. I can’t trust that there isn’t another one.

Photo from Flickr - by Markku