I did something wrong.  I admit it.  Whether I agree with the law that criminalizes that behavior or not, I did something that went against the grain of the society I live in and I’ve paid the price. 

I had a good life; wasn’t rich or powerful, but my needs were met.  I had a lot of friends and I was even able to take a nice vacation now and then.  Then, one day everything changed.

The day before the police came, everything was normal. I woke up, made a pot of coffee, checked the news, went to work, came home, had dinner, and watched some TV.  That was my normal.  The day my life changed was the day that normal ended: Humiliation; forsaken by friends and family; outrageous legal expenses; prison; probation.  Now, the Registry. 

I can’t even count the number of places I applied for work. Once they found out I was on the Registry, that was the end of that.  Even people who had known me for decades wouldn’t hire me because it would make them look bad!  I just can’t accept this “new normal”.  I can’t accept that society thinks of people like me as monsters. 

What about the guy I met in prison who was there, for the fifth time, for selling drugs to kids?  Why isn’t he on a registry?  Wouldn’t that be in the interest of keeping kids safe?  I guess not.  What about the guy who has multiple restraining orders on him from various women he has physically abused?  Why isn’t he on a registry?  I could go on and on.  For reasons I don’t fully understand, society has focused all of its anger and hatred on people like me.  Even though study after study shows that we’re no more likely to re-offend than the average guy on the street is.

For some of us, it’s pretty much a life sentence to be on the Registry.  My probation officer told me, on the day that I went off paper,

“Hey, just think…you’ll be 68 when you’re done with this.  Then, you can start your life over again!” 

The really sad thing was, he meant it as an encouragement.

This raises so many questions in my head. Should I sit around until I’m 68, hoping that the laws will change?  Do I just accept that society calls me a monster? Are vigilantes justified if they want to harass me?  Do I continue to do no more than simply exist one day at a time? Should I stay in a country that I know and love but does not love me back?  Or, do I look for a place where I can be forgiven and possibly given a chance to make a new life for myself?

So, now I have a choice to make. I will take stock of who I am and recognize that I am, indeed, a good person. No one has the right to harass me or my family for any reason. I’ve got a big mistake in my past but I have lots of good years left to live.  I refuse to simply exist. Some of us are ready to jump into that possibility of a new life in a new country.  Some of us have ties which keep us here in the “land of the free”.  But now is the time to work together… To help each other. 

Now is the time to think seriously about how we want to live the rest of our lives.  Contrary to what society has told you, there are better options out there.