"I Thought I Knew You...What Did I Know?"

Or perhaps, "I Knew You Then, But Do I Know You Now?"

They say writing is good therapy and an effective way to get feelings and thoughts out in a way that's easier than doing so verbally, so here goes nothing...

This is a difficult post for me to write, and I'm warning my readers up front that I'm going to be intentionally vague about details in order to protect the people affected, but my world was rocked the other night with some news I got about someone I know. We'd been close friends for almost ten years and were in regular contact, with plans to get our families together in a couple of weeks once I'm on vacation. Then, oddly, I didn't hear from him for a couple of weeks. We'd last communicated on good terms so I had no idea what was going on and began to get concerned that something was wrong. Imagine my surprise when his wife contacted me a week ago to let me know that he was in jail for having a sexual affair with a minor. Needless to say, I was stunned: first, as a husband and father of four (three of whom are my precious daughters) I was appalled by his actions; second, I was thrown for a loop because in all the time I'd known him I never would've expected him to do something like that.  My heart goes out to his wife and two children, neither of whom he'll probably ever see again, and I've wiped him out of my life by deleting and blocking him from my phone and social media accounts. 

While all of this has been a huge shock to me, it's also shaken me regarding my ability to read people. All I've been able to think about it is how he could do such a thing? I'd known the guy for almost a decade and he was one of my closest friends. I never suspected he could or would do anything like this, not in a million years. I thought I knew him but now I'm wondering if I ever really did? Did I only know who he presented to the world while he kept the rest of his true self hidden?  It's made me wonder if I'm a poor judge of character, or if I'm too gullible that I fell for it. I also feel the tiniest twinge of guilt over cutting someone who was such a close friend out of my life so wholly and suddenly, but I then remind myself that he did that to himself and that what he did was so heinous that I can never have anyone who is capable of that in my life in any capacity.  I have a nagging fear that he'll try to contact me when he gets out on bail (which is only happening after he gets fitted with a tracking ankle bracelet) since we haven't spoken in almost a while and we were supposed to meet up later this month. I've blocked him from my phone and social media and if he does try to get in touch, I'm just going to ignore it, but it's a situation I hope I won't be in in the first place. Finally, it's set my mind racing as to whether anyone else I know has something so horrifying as this hidden within them. However, I am refusing to let this prevent me from trusting wholeheartedly in the rest of the people in my mind who haven't given me a reason not to.

Basically, this entire thing has really knocked me sideways and I'm still coming to terms with it, not only in terms of sympathy for the victims, but all of the anger, disappointment, horror, and confusion it's wrought in me. I plan on following the case as it's reported on in the papers and I don't feel any remorse in hoping for a just and severe punishment. Some things are simply beyond the pale regardless of how close you once were (or thought you were) to someone.