Dear Paulding County

But everybody else in town wants to bring you down and that's not how it ought to be. - Rockville by R.E.M. 


The Lake House. 2013. Photo my me.

Dear Paulding County,

After the latest abuse on my Facebook account, I abandoned it for the toxic relationship that it was. When something is unhealthy it must be eliminated like pruning a tree. The most recent incident confirmed that I cannot remain on that service. It was part of one long string of incidents that took place over almost three years. As a result I have updated my contact and social media guidelines to prevent this from happening again.

I remain angry days later and some of that anger is directed at myself for being trusting enough to allow the past back in the door, even a little. I have been sitting on my patio at night watching the stars, the first lightning bugs of the season, listening to the owls and coming up with a strategy. It feels as though I was in a bad, bad car crash. This feels like a setback to what I should be doing.

The Lake House. Photo by me.

 It was 2012 when I almost died from a stomach problem. The aftershock of that near miss with death is how I feel again. I also felt this way a couple of years ago when I felt pushed to the brink by someone placing pressure on me to reveal the identity of a character. I was disoriented as though it was an interrogation, they pushed me too far. After the 2012 incident the recovery was slow, not in a physical sense, but in a mental one. I would go to my father's lake house one week a month in the warm months and recover away from the noise of the city. It was the most peaceful place, sitting on the porch, watching and listening to the water. I fished, sat on the docks at sunrise with my coffee and loved to watch the reflections of the clouds in the warm water. I was reminded of the 1970s and summers at Lake Allatoona. Otherwise, I was in Florida and when I was back in Georgia I hiked and got lost in the woods as much as I could. 

It took almost three years for me to feel like me again.

Fort De Soto, Florida. 2013. Photo by me.

I do not have three years this time and so I push onward. I have thought long and hard about this until I realized the common thread to the problem and came to a solution.

I have realized that the fundamental problem was that many people do not respect boundaries nor do they know how to communicate. What I had hoped would be a positive experience on Facebook, at times it was, became a nightmare. My real life nightmares had increased over the last two months and my agitation with the people on the service was building until finally someone stepped across my boundary the final time and insulted me. It set off a reaction and I addressed a few issues at once, one being that people had placed enormous pressure on me to reveal the identities behind characters in my books – which I cannot do. I will address this issue at length in a future post on my blog. Needless to say, they never should have backed me into a corner, not with my history.

My present life is fantastic and so much better when they (meaning most of my Paulding County classmates) are not a part of it. I have so much joy and happiness with my better half, writing, traveling, pursuing my hobbies, working on our house and building what I hope to be a beautiful rear garden as an oasis that includes my childhood roses. 

U.S. 278 entering Paulding County. 2019. Photo by me.

Now to address the more complex problem. It is painful, but necessary to write that many people from my childhood caused me anguish and misery then and still do. In some cases they cause me more misery now than they did when we were young, just in different ways. They remind me of everything bad that I left. This does not include all of the people I knew then, but most of them. I still enjoy knowing ex girlfriends and boyfriends and some other people.

One of my high school ID cards.

 Most people from my Paulding County childhood never will understand, no matter how much I write or attempt to explain. Why cannot they understand? I do not know for certain, but I suspect some of them do not care to understand. It might mean looking at themselves for once. Maybe it is their own failures, small-mindedness, misery, phoniness and mistakes? Whatever their issues are, they are not my problem.

There were too many of my former classmates on my Facebook account and they caused these problems every single time. They contained me in a box, or maybe my old locker on the back hallway, that was the past that never was truly me. They see me one way when I never was all of what they thought they knew. I cannot ever be that person and I never was that person. I was someone underneath that they did not understand then and cannot understand now it seems. I do not want most of those people in my life because of the expectations they place on me, sometimes without them knowing it. They cannot seem to update their image of me to reality. I have written this a few times before and here is a reminder: I write about the past, but I do not live there. It was like being trapped in another person's life that is not mine. My books were the real me, the one that grew up in Paulding County and went through experiences that they were unaware. I am not sorry that it does not align with the person they thought they knew. It was time for them to upgrade their thinking, not mine. The person I am today that lives this life and writes these words is the real me. 

I hoped between Dweller On The Boundary and Terminal Wake, especially some of the stories in Terminal Wake, that they would understand the magnitude of how seriously my childhood effected me then. It was not just one incident, but years of them. I would share lengthy excerpts for those that do not want to read a book, but my contractual agreement with Amazon does not allow that. I would say pay attention to the chapters Two By Three, Ringer and I Talk Alone.

My mother's cemetery. 2022. Photo by me.

I do not owe an explanation and I never did. I wanted to explain. The books were supposed to be in part explanations, but I do not think they want or can understand what is written and what it means today.

Paulding County, I loved you as a child no matter what, but I do not owe you anything. I am a son and product of Paulding County, born at the old Paulding Memorial Hospital and educated in your schools. I visit once a year for cemeteries and that is all I can do. The only people that can be a part of my life now on any level is decided on a case by case basis. The rest cannot come with me, not as a part of my present life, only the people that are in some way special to me or that I trust. To anyone else, you are welcome to read my past books and future ones, but that is it. Facebook blurred the boundaries too much and made it too easy for people to step where they should not. My old house on that hill was surrounded by fences and trees on all sides and I liked it.

I am not going to let Paulding County hurt me anymore. You almost killed me before and I am not going to let you have another chance. I have not gotten this far into the story yet, but I gave Paulding County three chances. I lived there three times, most recently as 2001 and even then the county did not let me live in peace. I was paying for a house in New Georgia that I could not live in because it got dangerous. It was an isolated house, I wanted peace, and that was a bad idea by the third year.

Snow covers the ground at my New Georgia house in 2000. Photo by me.


Paulding County, I have so much more to write about you, but we cannot be friends.

Thank you for reading.