I have to laugh sometimes, because of my social background, bad deeds of any family member have been well guarded secrets. We never “aired our dirty laundry in public” by letting the neighbors know about them.
If as a kid I wanted to do something that was viewed as “not OK” I was told, “You can’t do that, what would the neighbors think?”
As an adult I eventually realized that what my elders viewed as the most important thing was “what the neighbors thought” about us, not what was actually going on, was the most important thing.
On lazy Sunday afternoons we would sit around at home after church and lunch and talk about the neighbors, who was drunk, who was bankrupt etc. and who beat his wife. I got the idea as a child that we were vastly superior to our neighbors, and especially to those that did not attend our church. Since these people did not worship exactly like we did they were bound for hell.
When my son Patrick started his criminal career at age 15 and was increasing his range of crimes by the time he was 17, I lived out of state from my family and “the neighbors.” So by not talking about such a thing, my mother kept the neighbors from knowing what Patrick was doing. Even later when he went to prison for two years after an aggravated robbery, when someone would ask about her grandkids she would say “Patrick lives in Texas and doesn’t get home very often and he works for the State of Texas.” The words were not lies, but the intent was a to mislead, he had a job at the prison, so technically, he did “work for the State of Texas” After all, what would they think if they knew where he really was?
I also kept it secret from even my closest friends when Patrick was arrested in Texas for the execution type slaying of Jessica Witt. I locked myself in the house and cried and screamed, did not eat or sleep until I was “insane”with grief. I felt the shame that my son, my much beloved son, was a killer. He claimed of course he was innocent, but I knew in my heart he was guilty.
I no longer hide where my son is, I no longer feel shame.The shame (if there were any which there is not) does not belong to me but should belong to Patrick. We should not feel shame for the behaviors of some one else. We should not cover up the bad acts of others.
I don’t go around and stop people on the street and say “Ya wanna hear about my son the killer?” LOL But if I am asked by someone other than a total stranger I will tell them the truth. It was totally freeing to me when I stopped feeling the shame about my son.I got the burden off my back.
One of Patrick’s “prison groupies” who had trolled me on the internet, even coming here and joining, wrote me a letter telling me that I didn’t really “know” Patrick at all, that he had changed and was a great guy. Like she sussed this exchanging letters with him. I admit he is a master manipulator, but anyone who will form a romantic relationship with a murderer has got to have some serious problems.
When Jeff Dahlmer was killed in prison, and they went through his cell, they found that he was writing his undying love to 12 or 14 different women and claiming undying love for each of them. One woman was totally distraught when she heard he was dead.
I also got a letter from him saying that I had ruined his life, and that “when I get out I will never be able to get a good job with my name smeared all over the internet.” I had to laugh, how could I smear his name when his own criminal record does it for him?
There are several families who live near me, our families have been neighbors for generations, and they have a child or grandchild who is a criminal, in and out of prison over and over. I know the pain these folks endure, I know the false hope they harbor—malignant hope that their criminal child will reform, will stay out of prison, but they can’t give up that hope.
“I feel so much better since I gave up hope.” Hoping and expecting the impossible will come true keeps you suffering, letting go of that false hope, that impossible hope, frees you to get on with your life without the albatross of the false hope dragging you down.