About Me

 

My road to where I am today has been a difficult one.

Tom122007 On the personal side, I grew up in a thoroughly dysfunctional home in which I suffered extensive physical, emotional and sexual abuse. As a result, I did not develop the self esteem required to form healthy relationships. I was a rebel with no trust in or respect for authority. Nevertheless, I managed to accomplish quite a bit. As an activist against the war in Vietnam and for civil rights, I worked with several famous people and helped organize many of the key demonstrations of the mid 1960s. Because I followed the belief in nonviolence taught by Gandhi and King, I strongly opposed the takeover of the peace movement by advocates of violence, such as the weather faction in SDS. Sadly, my voice was in the minority. When I realized I could not prevent the change, I withdrew shortly after the demonstration at the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1968. Political activism had been my anchor, and I felt disillusioned and bitter.

I married the wrong woman, although I can not say that I had the social skills to make a marriage work. I had a religious conversion. I fell under the influence of a religious right church group. I followed, because I was desperate to belong. I attended a Bible College for three years, but had to withdraw to earn more money. I was successful in business, but I still felt miserable. I have too good a brain to maintain right wing views indefinitely, and I was struggling to believe my own sophisms. The marriage ended badly. She got caught with a deacon in the church. In the divorce, I lost everything except the bills. Again, I felt disillusioned and bitter.

I met a woman who liked the wild side of life. We became swingers, but soon enough, the novelty wore off. I remarried. We moved to Portland. We actually had a good relationship, until she suffered a sudden adult onset of bipolar disorder with schizophrenia. I retreated back to the religious right. After years of fighting to get her treatment against her will, she finally stabilized on lithium. However, she refused her meds, relapsed, and left. My life had been a co-dependent relationship with her. I felt so bitter, disillusioned and depressed, that I fell apart, suffered an emotional breakdown, committed a crime, and ended up in a prison cell for nine years.

In prison, I had time to think. I admitted to myself that I was a mess and focused on fixing myself instead of blaming others for my problems. I started rebuilding myself by voluntarily giving up all my attitudes and beliefs to discover who I really am. I attended college in prison and earned an AA with a 4.0 GPA. I took anger management and cognitive restructuring. Later I became a facilitator for that group. I joined the Gavel Club (Toastmasters), became an officer in that group, and learned enough to teach Speechcraft there. I joined 7th Step, a group dedicated to helping convicts change on the inside and transition to productive, law-abiding lives in their communities. I also became an officer in that group, and developed a program from scratch designed to teach prisoners how to seek, apply for, and find employment after release. I became the prison’s facilitator trainer, teaching other prisoners to facilitate whatever programs their groups offer. Over this long process I grew into an authentic human being with attitudes and beliefs rooted in who I am, a person with genuine self-esteem.

After almost nine years, the parole board deemed that I had ceased to be a risk to society and released me. I found work and a place to live immediately. Over the course of the next seven years, my wage more than doubled. I became politically active again when the GOP stole the 2000 election for GW Bush.  I had another relationship failure, but this time I had the skills and self esteem to bear the pain without falling apart. By the summer of 2004 the economy had become so GW Bushwhacked that my company had to cut back and fired me, using absence over a three week bout with pneumonia as an excuse. I found another job, but with only 2/3 the wage, 2/3 the hours, and no health insurance. Without medical care my health deteriorated, until I had to stop working in October 2006. I did volunteer work to help elect Jeff Merkely to the Senate and oust Gordon Smith.  I fought  for SSDI until December 2009, when I finally won my appeal.  I now have a small income and Medicare.  I have continued my involvement in 7th Step as an outside volunteer and a Director of the outside 7th Step Foundation.  I am now Treasurer and Webmaster.  I also used to volunteer one day a week assisting a treatment provider by co-facilitating a therapy group for former prisoners, until I could no longer handle the steep hill between the bus and his office.

Overall, there are many things about my past for which I feel deeply ashamed.  However, I am proud the be the person I have become, for learning from my mistakes, and for transforming from part of the problem to part of the solution.

My online history is equally eclectic.  I purchased my first computer in 1974.  In the late 1980s, before the WWW existed, I ran a right wing computer BBS.

After my release from prison in 1999, I became the bane of MSN communities and was kicked out of several for my posts opposing the Bush/GOP war for oil and profit.  I blogged at Windows Live for a while, but had no traffic. I moved to Blogger in 2006 and Politics Plus became a successful blog, until I failed a polygraph that I had violated my parole. I had not, but the polygraph is only accurate 75% of the time. To punish me, my parole officer confiscated my computer, and about three months later, she forbid me to access the Internet from anywhere else. Six months later she allowed me to retest with the state’s most reputable polygrapher, and I passed, contradicting the results of the one I had failed. My parole officer chose to ignore the second polygraph and destroyed my computer. I immediately started saving or a new one, knowing that someday the nightmare would end. I later learned that many of her clients had lost their computers. Last September (2009), I got a new parole officer, and after two brief conversations, she restored my computer and Internet privileges.

I immediately relaunched Politics Plus on Blogger, and it became successful again.  However, I kept butting heads with Blogger’s limitations and wanted to run both this blog and 7th Step’s blog on the same software.  So I moved to WordPress late in Feb. 2010.  I knew it would be a statistical disaster.  What was once a successful B list blog became just another new blog, and is now high on the B list again.

Last Updated: 8/14/2012

 Posted by at 9:11 am