“I am not my crime”

I believe there comes a defining moment in everyone’s life when they are faced with a decision that could make them or break them – a “get busy living or get busy dying” kind of moment. Mine came on a Tuesday morning in October. While I didn’t see this as my moment at the time, you know what they say about hindsight.

Close to one year later, we were in a hotel room getting ready to attend a wedding, and I stepped out to take a call on my cell phone. I was five months pregnant with twin boys and still riddled with morning sickness. My stomach sank to an all-new low. I feared this day but I didn’t believe it would actually come. I was still hoping my former employer would have mercy on me and accept a pre-file intervention my attorney was offering rather than press criminal charges against me but, lo and behold, here we were. By my lack of better judgment two years’ prior, I had changed our lives forever. A warrant had been issued for my arrest and I had to turn myself in.

What was worse than the humiliation of being pregnant, handcuffed, searched, photographed, DNA-tested, medically assessed and forced to sit on hard furniture waiting for the unknown was the excruciating experience of the mental autopsy I was performing on myself. I could not quiet the committee in my head. I knew I had done some serious work in the past year recovering from massive character defect, but now there was the arduous process of legal defense and the public eye. Seven long months later, I pled no contest to one felony count and sentenced to eight months in jail with five years’ probation. Thankfully, I was granted house-arrest; therefore, I was able to be home with my newborn babies.

Why did I do it? It took me two years and a complete transformation of my soul to finally answer that. It’s scary how simple it was. I harbored a deep resentment. I fed it with all the Miracle-Grow I could muster and conveniently surrounded myself with people who helped me tend my garden of weeds. I was weak and naïve and, rather than be strong, I participated in the chaos. What I found was that, not long before this, I had severed my relationship with a Higher Power in which I no longer had faith and allowed myself to become spiritually unwell.

Where am I today? I have learned, changed and grown. I am deeply spiritual and know faith intimately. I still grieve and pray every day for the people I betrayed. Not an hour goes by I don’t feel sad or remorseful for what I did. I had to learn to forgive, though. It’s the most difficult task of my journey. While I understand forgiveness, that it does not put a stamp of approval on the wrong-doing, I have yet to learn how to apply the act to my own self. I still struggle with it daily, but I trust, in time and with His help, I will learn. I am confident I am not that person anymore. My heart has been permanently etched with good, and I do know with all conviction today that I am not my crime.