jail, fixated on the “why” and “how” questions:
why did I do this and how can I kill myself?
I’ve shared the most private details of my life with others in the effort to find an answer.
There seem to be many answers and none at all.
The first time I saw child pornography was during a search for music on a peer-to-peer network.
I wasn’t seeking it but I didn’t turn away when I saw it.
Until that moment, the only place I’d seen these sorts of images was in my mind.
I found myself drawn to videos that matched my own childhood abuse.
It’s painful and humiliating to admit to myself, let alone the whole world, but I pictured myself as a child in the image or video.
The more an image mirrored some element of my memories and took me back, the more I felt a connection.
This is my deepest, darkest secret.
As a child I didn’t understand what had happened at the time of the abuse.
I did know that I must not tell anyone, ever.
Later the memories took on new and more troubling meaning when I became a teenager.
They started to appear more often and made me feel increasingly apart from everyone else.
In my mind I instigated and enjoyed the abuse – even as a five and nine year old – no matter the age difference.
Discussing what had happened would have meant shame and blame.
I always worried someone might look at me and know, so I paid close attention to others for any sign they might have figured it out.
No one ever did.
By my late teens I reached a sort of mental equilibrium on the matter.
I couldn’t stop the images from appearing altogether, but I generally controlled when they appeared.
As an adult I thought I was a tougher man because of the experience; that I was mentally stronger and less emotional than most.
I told myself that I was superior to other people because I had dealt with this thing on my own.
Those I worked with on the Hill would likely describe me as a controlled, independent, and rational person who could analyze a situation with little or no emotion.
That’s how I viewed myself.
In retrospect, the qualities that helped me succeed on Capitol Hill were probably developed partly as a result of the abuse and how it shaped me.
In the aftermath of my arrest and all that followed, the mental equilibrium I had created to deal with my past is gone.
Today the memories fly at me whenever they choose.
They’re the first thing I see when I wake and the last thing I think about