Richard L. is a member of our White Collar Support Group that meets on Zoom on Monday evenings. On March 6, 2023, we will hold our 350th meeting – 7 years of community! In honor of this milestone, we’ve asked our group members, guests and supporters to contribute written reflections for publication on our websites, emails, newsletters and social media. If you would like to submit your contribution, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Turning the page into the new year always brings with it a melancholic reflection of years past, and contemplation, with some wonderment, at what the next chapters will hold for me and for my relationships. This year marks ten years since my criminal legal case began. I wanted to share a reflection that those in our community might identity with – to find solace in shared emotional experiences, and for those early in their journey, that their anxiety might be eased.
A criminal case often sparks a catalyst for the accused to reflect on their life – perhaps it was a life out of kilter, spiraling downwards through a chaotic mix of narcissism and addiction, with a dose of a need to control people and outcomes. For me, it was the case itself that sparked the tension and anxiety that sets aflame that vicious cycle. At times, the pressure was so great I ceded all agency to others – in a sense, I thought surrender itself was the answer. During the case, and in its immediate aftermath – I felt a frenetic need to reinvent myself immediately, to find the answer and path forward. I can only describe that state, which lasted for many years, as one of unconscious vulnerability;, searching and seeking for self-truths. Many approached me purporting to have “the answer”. Whether lawyers who cross the line from counsel to making decisions for you through manipulation, to others who try to gain trust through claiming affinity. Don’t lose your agency, like I did. It is a precarious time, and you must be careful who you let in. “Guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
In the years subsequent, I enrolled in courses to fulfill prerequisites for application to medical school. I took the LSAT. I drove for Uber for six months. I consulted for the fanciful startup aspirations of former large medical device executives. I became the CFO of a software company and executed its merger into a publicly traded peer. Still, I still consider myself directionless, a bit rudderless.
And in those years, I lost people I cared about. College friends who died suddenly and far too young. My father, who I think about several times a day and whose selfless devotion to his wife and to his children is not exaggerated in my memory. And of course, countless relationships which were abruptly cut off by my case and of which only a handful have since been restored.
What is different today is that I have faith in that unknowable future, that the twisting, meandering path will in good time straighten into one with a clear direction.
As we mark 350 meetings, I welcome you to join our fellowship, but with a practical note of caution. Many come, looking to take – be it practical and pragmatic advice, or to find sympathy in a world that is temporarily offering little to none. That is fine, but I always hope for more – a relationship, that you might not only find comfort and a shoulder to cry on, but that as you grow, you can learn to carry the burden of others too.