My Problems Are Not Yours

During the last two days of interrogations at the police station, I was asked a number of questions that did not seem to be directly related to the case, but were instead used to better understand my thought process. One that came up multiple times was about the lack of aggressiveness during the three weeks of detention: "How come you don't get angry at any of my questions? If I were in your position, I would be pounding the table and shouting. You've been very calm for most of our discussions. It's almost like you're not defending yourself."

The investigator was quite right regarding the lack of anger and frustration that was shown during the questions. Given the seriousness of the allegations, most people would probably gesticulate wildly during questioning while also raising their voice as the consequences of a possible guilty verdict becomes more clear. However, this didn't seem like a logical thing for me to do, and I said as much.

What value is my anger or frustration in this situation?

As one would expect, I was incredibly angry and frustrated at times during the 20-day detainment. Who wouldn't be? I was angry that I couldn't contact anybody. I was frustrated with the lack of things to think about. I was angry with some of the questions that were asked. I was frustrated with how repetitive many of the days were. What kept me balanced was what – and who – I wasn't angry at. At no time during my captivity was I angry at Reiko or the boy. I understood why I was arrested and it made perfect sense. As a result, the actions I had to follow were very clear.

I will be patient, respectful, and honest. Anything else is just unnecessary noise.

Like a lot of people, I was rather quick to anger as a teenager. Something would upset me and I would go off on a tangent, shouting expletives and stomping my feet like a fool. Not once did these rages result in a satisfactory solution. If anything, these outbursts pushed the people I cared about away. Who wants to be around an angry grouch, after all? So it was with great effort that I learned how to control and channel rage. By my late 20s, I'd become so adept at redirecting or burying anger that people would sometimes ask if I ever got angry. This control of emotion eventually went further so that I could mask just about anything, allowing me to present a calm and respectful demeanour under most circumstances. This was incredibly important during the last half of my marriage, too. While frustration would escape from time to time, my emotions could be "paused", making it possible for me to deal with them at a later time.

This is what I did in my cell when nobody was watching. However, even there, the anger and frustration did not come out in any obvious manner. I would walk around the cramped quarters, bouncing my shoulder against the concrete walls just for some sort of physical contact with the world while also making sure that there was just enough force used to create a bruise. In the mind's eye, every interaction was like a transfer of raw emotion from my upper arm to the building itself. In time the intensity would dissipate and I could go back to reading or running an imaginary coffee shop. The bruises that developed would heal after an evening or two.

One of the things that I've learned over the last four or five years is how to complain. Or, more accurately, when to complain and what to complain about and why I am complaining. For the vast majority of the problems I face, it makes little sense to communicate them to others unless I need help with a solution. For everything else, nobody cares.

There were a hundred things I could have complained about at the detention centre, but none would have resulted in changes. It's a jail, not a hotel.

There were a number of problems that I had with the way questions were asked in a manner to test a person's honesty, but complaining would not have resulted in better questions.

The prosecutor really got under my skin a couple of times, questioning my faith and intelligence as though I were less than human. Would complaining about this have resulted in a better dialogue during his questioning? Not in the least. Knowing him, it would have encouraged further line-crossing.

As one would expect, there were many what's to complain about, but never any when. Nobody would have cared. These were my problems, nobody else's. As a person in custody – as someone suspected of doing evil – there was no reason for anybody to accommodate my wishes. So, why engage in a senseless activity?

Being angry would have gotten me nowhere. Being frustrated would have gotten me nowhere. Acting on emotion would have gotten me nowhere. Complaining would have gotten me nowhere. Doing any of these would have likely resulted in the same consequences I faced as an angry teen. So, with this in mind, all I could do was to be patient, respectful, and honest. Anything else would have been unnecessary noise.