I don’t know what to do, but I had to do something.
The only person that truly would understand the bombshell that just happened was Brent. Brent had been the attorney for the fund I was working for which was now the subject of a federal criminal investigation. At the very least, Brent would care and know what to do. No long explanation would be required. I called Brent and was more thankful than ever that he was available to actually talk. Voicemail would not have gone well. I explained to Brent that I just got a call from a prosecutor. No doubt, Brent leaned in hard, clinging on to the words I said. He didn’t seem to be in shock like I was, but I don’t know if that was because he was keeping his cool to be helpful or he thought he might be next. Either way, talking to someone that truly understood what was happening at that moment was what I needed and I was grateful.
Understanding the gravity of what I was facing, Brent implored me to seek legal counsel immediately. He recommended a few criminal defense attorneys in the area and why I might consider one over another in his opinion. It was the push I needed to at least respond to this catastrophe for the moment. I let go a sigh. At least I had taken one step.
I called up one of Brent’s recommendations, Dan, and a very sweet lady answered the phone. It was the day before Thanksgiving. Brenna explained to me that Dan had just left for the Thanksgiving holiday with his family and would be back on Monday. That seemed like an eternity from Wednesday. I was going to left to my own thoughts about what all this meant for a full 4 days. It felt like torture.
Brenna encouraged me to relax and enjoy the holiday. Politely, I questioned if she had understood what I just had told her. Now, it was up to me if I would wallow in this news alone, tell someone and if so who and was there something that I could do so that when Dan and I met on Monday, I would somehow be “ready”.
What will other people think
I was on the local news for the first time in my life.
Being a target of a federal prosecution is mind blowing enough, but allowing myself to think about what other people will think of me was overwhelming. It was polarizing. Unexpectedly, it became interesting and defining. There were people that I have known most of my life that knew everything imaginable about me. There are people that I have casual relationships that know an aspect of who I am. (There was the rest of the world which I couldn’t even begin to consider.) There was no doubt in my mind that both sets of people would find out my news at some point. I had already defined these groups broadly as “the people that knew me well” and “the people that knew me casually”. Who would still know who I was after the news of being a target of a federal investigation was available?
I guess I was thinking that the people that knew me well would rise to the occasion and rally with me for justice if I needed their help. I imagined that the people that knew me casually would dismiss our relationship as they didn’t know me that well and now, weren’t interested in knowing me better.
I was wrong. Absolutely wrong. The labels I put on these groups were meaningless. People I barely knew contacted me and said that they believed in me and if there was something I could do to help, just let them know. People I had known my whole life were suspicious, I watched them look at me as if they wondered if they knew me at all and worse than that, should after all these years – should they continue to associate with me. I didn’t want to ask them what they thought about me being a target because if their face matched their thoughts, I removed all doubt. Right then, I wanted to believe that people that really knew would know that this target news was a mistake.
I realized that I didn’t have the luxury of caring what most people thought. I couldn’t bear the weight of their opinion. Simply, there were more important things to spend my emotional energy on. What difference was caring what other people thought going to do to help the situation anyway? Who were the people that I did care about what they thought? I needed to identify and work with them.
I had three kids and my concern went to them immediately. I didn’t want them to have any repercussions of my news from other kids or their parents. Protecting my kids was instinctive and strong. I decided that I would go see the kids’ teachers and explain so that they would be aware of the situation and at least they would hear the facts from me rather than potentially some fragmented, distorted version from well-meaning others.
There were already so many unknowns and the news was barely out.
Communities are so important. At their core, communities are a collection of our relationships. From a “happiness” standpoint our relationships make us successful in life or not so much. You can’t measure this kind of success. You just know it. I realized that I hadn’t done a very good job of creating a meaningful community in my life. No offense to those that were in it at the time. I just needed more of them and we needed more substance from each other. With three young kids, my community was the people in my office, my immediate family and my kid’s friends’ family. It was a bit limiting.
Limiting in the sense that I took for granted that their character was solid, but I hadn’t had soulful conversations to confirm my true feelings on who each person was as a human being. They were a good employee, good teacher, good coach, good friend, but who were they really? I just had not built a strong community that could support me in these devastating times. I realized how meaningful that could be for so many reasons and I knew that when I had the chance to do better, I would.
Do you have people in your life that can hear the really tough news and react in a way that takes some of the load?