As a child raised in a Catholic household, I went to church every Sunday morning. Once I was old enough to start school, and weekends became significant, I was forced to not only attend church but another long hour of Sunday School. I hated being there, but kept my mouth shut, for back then, the idea of being eternally damned in a place called Hell was very real to me.
By the time I was a teenager, I was given the choice as to whether or not to attend mass. This was a day I’d waited years to answer my Mom’s question.
“Nah, I’m gonna stay home.”
I’d seldom step foot in another church throughout the rest of my “angsty” teenage years. As I got older, the idea of a hell became more illogical and laughable. But as a result of many years believing, the fear of being eternally damned in a lake of fire still lingered deep within the back of my head.
As for today, the eternal lake of fire is nothing but a misunderstood fabrication that had been added into the Bible in order to gain more control over the masses.
Besides, nothing could be worse than the tortured agony I’d brought upon myself and others within the darkest days of my addiction…
September 2009—22 years-old
The officer flips on the parade of flashing red and blue lights, informing other drivers to clear a path. What’s the rush? I want to ask him, but my quivering bottom lip won’t allow it. The thick plastic divider supported by metal fencing blocks any air from reaching me in the backseat. The officer locked both doors, and the windows, magnifying the sun’s rays onto my face. My eyes quickly snap shut when a baseball-sized lump crawls up my throat. It takes everything I have to endure the throbbing pressure from holding back the sea of tears rising inside.
I thought I’d bled myself dry of tears back at the nightmare inside my apartment. My last memory of the place that resembled my newly earned freedom, now surrounded in yellow police tape like a Christmas gift from Hell. I’d kept my composure until the shock wore off as I saw my Dad walk inside. Watching his face drain of color as he realized what had happened, release the floodgates. Holding me, I could feel how afraid and worried he was for me. I cried harder. He’d shown up just a few minutes after the paramedics. The tears were immediately cut short when the police barged-in.
In a mere two-minutes, they ransacked my entire apartment—every cupboard in the kitchen, under everything in the living room, bathroom, bedroom and closet—throwing everything to the floor and leaving it. Any grief or agony rapidly morphed into guilt and anger. Then the detective began to accuse me of committing a heinous act. I lost all composure. My cries of denial went unheard underneath his shrill voice, falsely accusing and calling me a liar.
How did I let this happen?
How did I let my life completely fall apart?
I had everything going for me: I was back in school studying music, living on my own in a new place my parents agreed to pay for so long as I stayed enrolled, and on top of all that, my best friend lived two flights above me.
In just a matter of one night, I’d lost it all,
I’m scared and I need help.
I could repeat these words repeatedly in my head. But, the thought of ever letting them escape the confines of my insecure anxieties of my mind was impossible. looking and speaking to me, you could never tell, but inside, I’m shaking in fear. I’ve never been this scared before. Nor, this sad…
I sit down on the plastic chair as instructed by the officer before he walks out of the dimly lit room. The click of the lock slowly diminishes like a dying metronome, struggling to be heard. The room holds an unsubtle charge. It’s not an unfamiliar feeling. I can feel it manifesting from the chair underneath me, making my heart tremble with a fear greater than when I first sat down. It’s the same fear shared by every murderer, arsonist, junky, rapist, and the criminal who’s sat in this very chair.
God, please don’t have me share the same fate as them.
A bead of sweat slides down my warm, flushed cheek. My whole body is warm as if I’m having an allergic reaction. The room suffocates me as the walls seem to inch closer each time I look away. I close my eyes and try to escape into an alternate reality. Another world. Any place where fluorescent lights don’t exist.
I take one last breath of the stale air; my last taste of this world.
A flash of light illuminates the back of my eyelids as if a picture was taken. I am shaken back to reality from the jarring door being opened. Immediately, it brings me back to a dull office; brighter on the back of my eyelids than before.
Without opening my eyes, I know where I am. The musty air of foot odor that blows through every jail cell vent gives it away. The officer takes a seat at a computer I never noticed. I know I will have to tell him everything that happened. I did nothing wrong, but I can’t prove this, and based on what they found when ransacking my apartment, I know I’ll be their criminal scapegoat. I sit and wait for him to tell me what I’m being charged with and the sentence that’ll go along with it.
I take a deep breath, through my mouth to avoid the stench. This is a mistake I realize when I can taste the sweaty feet.
An earthquake rolls through my body as the anticipation grows by the second. I stare at him until our eyes meet. When they do, I raise my eyebrows silently asking him to sentence me already.
Whatever it is, it won’t affect the wall of apathy and truth between us. The truth of already being sentenced to a life of misery.
In a Buddhist recovery meeting, one regular, an old punk/rockabilly guy who looked maybe in his late 40s, had admitted that he didn’t believe in karma. He had a reason to justify it, which I could see why he would no longer believe. I’d liked the guy, so the urge to help him kept nagging at me. Eventually, I had to give him my two cents:
“Hey, man. Can we talk?”
He smiled as he looked up at the exit, knowing exactly what I wanted to speak about. “Yeah, sure, I guess.”
After letting him know my intention was only to help someone who seems to struggle, he nodded and uncrossed his arms, looking eye-to-eye with me.
This isn’t verbatim, I didn’t want to make him look stupid, which he wasn’t. He was an intelligent person, just lost.
“Karma is very real. It’s a law of nature, like gravity (even though gravity is actually a reaction, but I didn’t tell him this). It’s Physics 101: for every action, there is a reaction. You reap what you sow. Just because you haven’t witnessed the person who screwed you over receive their karmic debt, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
“We have no way of knowing when the karma police will come after anyone. It may not even be in this lifetime.
“We are all energy, and energy never dies, only moves. Therefore, when our physical human body runs out, our energy lives on to reincarnate into another form in another lifetime. According to Karmic Law, our negative, and positive, karma can and will follow us throughout lifetimes.”
I also added the fact that, there really wasn’t any way to tell if he wasn’t experiencing karmic consequences right then. And since he mentioned no specifics about the situation, I had to ask, “How do you know that you’re in the right?”
He seemed to understand, but honestly I think he agreed only to shut me up. I didn’t mind. I’d said what I was dying to say to him. Hopefully, it stuck with him.
Now, as I’m about to be interrogated by this police officer, the gravity of my karmic situation sets-in.
This is karma.
This is when everything I’ve done wrong in life comes back to take a chunk out of my ass. However, that’s not what’s killing me inside. The fresh, open wound that won’t stop bleeding—
I’m not the one who had received the worst of it.
One Hour Later…
“I’m sorry about what happened.”
I give him a nod, my eyes still aimed at the floor. They remain fixed in a wide-eyed gaze as if someone glued them like that. Both my hands reach up and run the dried tear gunk out of them. My eyes remain closed. All I can hear are clicks and tickings of a keyboard from someone who never learned how to type properly.
“Okay. We’re all done here,” he says. I wonder if I’m going to have to sit all day in the blue chairs at intake. “I believe your Dad followed us here. I’ll walk you out here in a sec.”
What?! I can’t believe it. This must be a mistake or some cruel joke. He gets up and has me walk in front of him straight to the exit. Before I’m outside I see my Dad’s truck through the semi-tinted window.
I don’t believe it. I’m going home!