I have developed a very bad habit lately, and it is a side-effect of my having filed for divorce. There is no pun intended, but I have begun “snapping” at people trying to take my picture. It should be a harmless enough act, just taking my photo, and for the recipient of my displeasure, you would have sworn I was Axle Rose going after a paparazzi. Do not get me wrong, I have had plenty of photos taken in my time, and though the model has not always been the best subject to work with, I have normally never objected. When it came to photos with the family, only when it came to my daughters, did I voluntarily venture to the other side of the lens.
Years ago, I suffered a left wrist injury that left me on a leave of absence from work for 9 months. It was a silly situation really. It was a work-related injury that my employer decided to deny. I won my appeal, and my lost pay, in a sense ending up with a 9-months vacation instead of accommodating my health restriction, allowing me to complete work that I was more than capable of doing. But that is not my point.
During the earlier part of my battle, I made the decision to give one more effort to convince my employer to give me one more chance and accommodate my restrictions before being sent home. What I got in return taught me a huge lesson. With the office door closed, the director of my department (3 levels up from my supervisor – I was not wasting time), was giving me a warning for my activities outside of work. He made a direct implication about me playing softball for our work team. “You know Paul. If I were you, I would be careful about what you are seen doing outside of work and your home.” I looked confused at him, because I was injured and was not doing anything to go beyond my “use only of one hand” restriction. “You have been seen playing softball.” I cut him off right there. I knew that his secretary was listening through the closed door, and I replied with this: “Excuse me, but I am not playing softball this year specifically because I was injured before the season even began. Now I did play last year, and I know your secretary who is probably listening at the door right now, took pictures of us playing last year, but I want to warn you, I am 20 pounds lighter and my hair is much longer than what the picture would show.” End of argument.
It reminded me of the old school days when we would call out sick from school. You could not get caught out at the movies or down in the arcade if you did not go to school claiming to be sick. And the same goes for employment. Which is what made my next incident even more baffling.
I had just been released from the hospital in April of 2008, after having emergency double bypass for my heart. My chest wall still raw from being cracked open for the procedure. Clearly, I would not be returning to work any time soon until healed. I still had weeks of cardiac therapy to go before it could even be considered.
But my orders were clear. I needed to get at least some walking exercise in each day. And so, with my children up early, I made my first walk, up my street, around the corner, walked halfway up that street, then turned around to head back home. I soon became aware of the time of the morning, as a couple of cars that had passed me, recognized me, and honked their horns at me, I thought to say “Hey! Glad you are okay! Get well soon!” What they did next was shocking… and disappointing.
At least one of my co-workers reported back to my employer that I looked “great”, I was walking “fine.” There was no reason I should not be “back at work.” Now, not everyone knew immediately the extent of the surgery I went through, but management knew, which is why what made their reaction more difficult for me to understand. I began to receive pressure to return back to work, by being forced to submit extra documentation to prove that I needed to be out longer than what my surgeon had determined. Imagine, my employer felt that I should be back to work sooner than the doctor who performed my heart surgery and made the determination of when.
I have never been one to play “hooky.” I am a huge believer in Karma, so I do not like to tempt fate. Do the right things, and you have nothing to worry about. And I still believe that.
However, with today’s media, and let’s face it, I am really a social-driven person, I do not feel a need to be in control of my exposure, because I do not do anything should ever lead to any kind of questions. I am not worried about being “set up” because I am not doing anything wrong. But as prior experience has taught me, simply planting a thought in someone else’s mind, can cause enough bother to inflict damage to a reputation.
Both my estranged wife and I have moved on since my filing for divorce. We cannot talk to each other, unless it has directly to do with the children. One of us has a preconceived notion about the reason for the divorce, the other, knows the truth. But just as in our later years of the marriage, we did not talk, we could not talk. And with us living a great distance apart from each other, only more assumptions end up being made.
But like I said, I am an open book, a simple man, “what you see is what you get.” I want only one thing at this point, and that is to be able to spend time with my daughters. I want more pictures taken with them.
Earlier this year, I actually had to “unfriend” and “block” people from my Facebook page, because they were sharing what otherwise would have been considered harmless pictures. But like the incidents mentioned above, those photos were only used to affect my character in a negative way, which I quickly addressed and proved otherwise. And though my Facebook page is a little more controlled with those who have betrayed me banned, I know, that most likely, someone will take another photo out of context, leaving me have to explain myself yet again.
So to those who will be on the other side of the lens of the camera, I apologize in advance. I mean no harm. And I would love to have a real nice photo taken of me, but for the time being, even a photo of me tying my shoe would somehow be used against me if it was published on the internet. I do not mean to “snap” at your for taking a simple and harmless picture where I might be smiling, those “proving that I have no concerns about my divorce”. I simply do not want the hassles.
And I know, as I have been consoled several times, I am simply living. I am not doing anything that pushes my body’s physical or physiological limits. I am not doing anything wrong. I am blessed to have a beautiful area to live that is relaxing to me at the end of the day as I try to gather my thoughts. I enjoy being able to listen to music, and sing music again, and I get to do it because it is free. As my friends try to encourage me, I have nothing to be ashamed and am doing nothing wrong. Let me make one thing perfectly clear, my current lifestyle is not what I want because I miss my daughters terribly. And the sooner I can get past all the nonsense, the sooner I will get to spend more time with them. If only more time and effort would be put into moving forward, instead of fighting to prove what does not exist, closure for both of us would happen much sooner.
The sad thing is, because of all the nonsense, when the final decree is made, I honestly do not believe that the reason I filed for the divorce in the first place will even be addressed, by anyone. It does not matter except to that one person.