Lasting Impact After a Felony Conviction
In my case, I know I had a lot to deal with when it came to my friends and family in the time just before, during, and after my conviction.
- My parents – were disappointed and terrified, wondering what they had done wrong.
- My friends – were either enablers – in the direction of trouble – or they were backing away from me slowly.
- My siblings – basically disowned me on top of it (ten years later and we still don’t talk), and even though we didn’t start out close, it still was an added misery to be ignored by the people I thought would help me get back on my feet.
My parents, being who they were, forgave me quickly if harboring some very mild distrust with me afterward. But I didn’t mind that so much, as I knew I had let them down the most, second only to having let myself down (I had developed some pretty big plans for myself, and most of them were pretty well destroyed until I found the loopholes to get back into society).
The siblings, well… that was a different story. The sister that was always there for me had passed away a couple years before – and the other two … well, they simply act as if I died after my conviction. Even after more than a decade of time – and attempts to mend the bridge – it is still in tatters. While it’s not optimal – I also know I have found people that treat me so much better than they ever did – and that’s good enough for now.
As for the old and familiar friendly enablers, I held on to a few for a little longer than I should have (at least according to my probation officer). I did eventually let them go and cut the connections, at least for the majority of the group. I won’t ignore most of them if I see them in public, but I make a point to not dedicate time to them to any extent – we’re just not on the same path in life anymore. It does suck a bit because there are quite a few good memories, but it’s not worth the possibility of getting back into trouble and throwing everything away again.
Unfortunately, I still have some difficulty making new friends. As an awkward person that is terribly anxious – it’s slow going, to say the least. But I get by with enough social interaction to not lose my mind entirely. Online support groups have helped – #FelonsAreHumans on Facebook has quite a few good people in it – that understand everything felons experience.
Combatting the Collateral Consequences
We all need a good support system. Having a background can make it difficult though, especially if you stay in the same small town where your record happened.
However, there is hope, if you have the drive and determination to show that you’ve changed. My volunteer experience with a local shelter helped express to those in the humanitarian side of my community that I really was a changed person, and I have had a recent upturn in social interactions with the community.
I’ve also participated in a couple local events, selling craft items at a booth in a fall festival the town hosts, as well as walking in parades with various organizations my son has become involved with over the years. Every time I do this – I share my story and change a couple of minds while I’m at it.
By having a positive public presence, our image can be improved along with our own progression through our trials and after felony problems.
It’s not easy, and even after a decade, I do still get some flack about the past. It isn’t easy to deal with every time it happens, but I maintain my dignity and respond with as much kindness as I can muster in those situations. Best of luck in all of your social endeavors my felonious friends, goodness knows we all need it.
Til Next Time,
Aza @aza_enigma (Twitter)