I have mixed feelings on this last episode. I’m not sure how else to put it. Naturally all of this has brought me back to those times and that relationship and the way I felt during that relationship. I’ve been somewhat accused of only focusing on the bad memories of that relationship. The reality there was that most of what I experienced in that time was bad memories, and I struggle to think of the good ones because most of the good times were in some way tainted with an undertone of bad that I realize now others in our life simply didn’t see. I masked my true feelings a lot in those days.
The reality is I have been in a struggle of sorts. Between speaking my truth and also not hurting others, mainly John’s Mom and Nana (Susan, from the docuseries). And the more I think about it the more I realize is because I actually have more positive memories that come to mind involving the two of them as well as Nana’s son than I did in that relationship. It hurts me somewhat to think of this in that way but I will choose to be grateful for the good memories I share below.
But first, some context. Shane and I fought nonstop with each other basically from day one. It was not an easy time for either of us. He was recently out of prison and angry about it and I was recently traumatized from the sudden death of my Mom. We both needed good therapists, not each other. Part of the reason I stayed in the early days was because he was afraid that I’d go to the cops about his very illegal lifestyle, something I never would have done but also something I couldn’t prove to him regardless of what I said. He was terrified of going to jail again and in some regards I was terrified of being alone.
Then I broke my jaw rollerblading 2 weeks into our relationship and things somewhat chilled out for a few months, mostly because I slept most of the time sleeping off the pain or was in school trying to do the college thing. We still found ways to conflict though but for that first week or so he took care of me and then for a long time after that when I tried to confront the reality of our relationship I was reminded of that. It was then I basically decided to become silent.
I didn’t share about my relationship with anyone really in the entire time we were together. When I tried, it would lead to a bigger fight than before, which didn’t seem worth it. I held on because I saw potential there, likely the same potential his family saw in him. But the reality of what I lived was different and I’ve been trying to pay respect to what the reality was instead of what I wished it was instead.
Back to Judy and Nana. Judy (Shane’s Mom) wasn’t perfect but she repeatedly tried to find ways to bridge the gap that was there over the years, which really wasn’t easy all considered. She also tried to be friendly with me and as a result I do have many good memories with her. She helped us financially repeatedly over the years and she’d often send pre-prepared food with us after we’d visit. If there’s one thing Shane and I could really agree on, its that we both loved her food. Especially the vegetarian chili and the chicken paprikash.
Then there’s Nana, but I can’t talk about my time with Nana without first talking about her son, Michael. Neither of them knew me other than what they’d been told by Shane and his Mom. About 4 months before we were arrested, Nana held a graduation party in Florida for her adopted son Izaac. And Nana wanted Shane to be there.
Nana was always close with Shane and often they’d spend hours on the phone discussing life, his childhood, his struggling relationship with his Mom and more. His relationship with Nana is part of what gave me glimmers of hope within that relationship. He treated her gently, with love and had literally not a bad thing to say about her. And considering he had complaints about basically everyone close to him, that was really saying something.
So obviously we didn’t have the money to fly down there. At the time we were staying with his aunt, his mother’s sister a woman I am admittedly still not fond of for reasons simply not worth listing here. So Michael, Nana’s son, paid for plane tickets for both Shane and I to go to Florida for this graduation. Michael had never met me before, but decided to do so out of the goodness of his heart, mostly in an attempt to make his Mom happy by delivering her grandson as requested. I won’t get into it too much because its Nana’s business but she was having a hard year that year to say the least. Shane’s Mom was also living there at the time, and she’s who we ended up staying with down there.
We met Michael at his apartment, where we crashed for the night before getting on the plane early in the morning. Michael was great, very friendly and he bought us food that night. The next morning we flew to Florida and within a day or so of that I finally met the famous Nana, who was everything I hoped for her to be.
Now I do have good memories from that trip but also bittersweet ones with Shane that I will gloss over here for the sake of remembering the good in this one situation. I realize now that I have only been able to focus on the bad because save for a few hours or maybe days of peace here and there, much of that relationship was a silent sort of chaos hell that I was immersed in. Better said its a chaos I allowed myself to be immersed in.
But that trip wasn’t bad and Nana left a lasting impression on me. I found myself wishing I’d had a Nana like that growing up. My Grandma on my father’s side was dependent on me for daily intense nurse like care for 10 years of my childhood, and my Mom’s mother was fairly far away from me geographically so I only saw her a few times a year if that.
After that, Judy tried to help us move to Detroit where we planned on pursuing our cannabis fueled lifestyle more legally. It was in one of our return trips to Ohio where we stopped for more of our stuff that we got arrested. I talked to his Mom repeatedly from jail itself, she was one of my few sources of comfort there. She put a small amount of money on my books so I could afford things I needed. And she also came up with the money used to bail me out of jail, though she couldn’t do it herself because she was still in Florida.
Now I have been told that Shane insisted I be bailed out first because he didn’t want me to suffer in jail anymore. This is very different from what he had to say when he was actually out so this was something I never knew until after he died. I have been told many times how much he loved me by other people, but I will say he had a funny way of showing it, which is an understatement. But I will say that Nana and her son were both there in the jail when I got out, and they welcomed me with literal open arms. Nana was there visiting Shane and Michael sat with me in the waiting room cracking jokes about how silly it was we were arrested in the first place.
We went to lunch, and after that Nana bought me a tent to live in (I was intending to crash on the property of his aunt, the one we’d lived with though that was short lived). Nana also bought me some clothes from the Goodwill. I will never forget the kindness of her during those days because I was SO embarrassed all considered. We spent a few hours talking by my tent about life that first day I got out of jail.
With the help of Nana’s other son, Izaac, I got a phone on Judy’s plan for the purpose of communicating with people. Shane had a phone on her plan when we were arrested but the cops had taken it and Judy knew I needed a way to communicate with her and others during this time. Shane and I used that phone until we decided to go on the run, and we shipped it back to his Mom with the hopes that she could return it and get her money back for it.
Now things between his Mom and him weren’t very good as terms of the relationship itself but she did repeatedly do whatever she could when he really needed it to help him, especially in times of financial or legal trouble. And subsequently because I was his partner, she helped me a lot too. I won’t forget that.
And getting together with Judy and Nana in Acapulco after the murder was incredible and while it had its bittersweet moments, I was genuinely happy to see people I could trust during those days. My heart hurt for them because of the circumstances, but I am glad they came and did what they could to do right by him, following his wishes of being cremated at great financial cost to the whole family.
Then about 6 months or so later, Nana came to celebrated Dia de los Muertos here with me in Mexico. She got to meet my new partner, known to all of you mostly as Cabra Cuerno. It was good to have that time to remember the good times but also to move on with our lives. We celebrated those we lost, not just Shane but other recently lost family members as well. This was filmed by the crew, though Im not sure how much of this will be shown since there’s only one episode left.
But those times celebrating what was my first Dia de los Muertos within Mexico with Nana I will never forget. We spent a lot of focus on that trip talking about moving on. We also spent a lot of time wandering around the city going to markets and shops together.
Inbetween when Nana and Judy coming to Acapulco and Nana’s visit for Dia de los muertos both Judy and Nana were there for me virtually speaking. For better or for worse, we were family and they treated me as such. I think this is probably partially why it hurts them to see the negative things that I have recently posted about someone they loved so dearly. I want to say that I do not mean to hurt you guys (as I know you’re likely reading), but just to finally give light to the things I did deal with in that situation.
Now I originally wrote this post to be much more combative. I have to be honest in that I am remembering a lot of pretty horrible things that happened during that relationship, especially of our time in Mexico which was nothing short of extremely difficult. The good times were very few and far between. I wish I had the strength to end that situation so we could both find happier situations for us. That’s my regret.
And the reality was I simply didn’t talk about how much of that relationship was very hard for me because I was embarrassed. It took me a long time to really see it for what it was. I was hurt and the reality is that I was hurt more by what I allowed to happen during those times than by what actually happened. I didn’t stand up for me. I didn’t fight for a better life for both of us when I should have because we both would have likely ended up much happier apart in the long term.
Yes, I was abused emotionally and in some other ways pretty heavily throughout that relationship. But this is also a direct result of me not willing to stand up for myself when I needed it most. I own that.
So to Judy, and Nana, thank you for being there for me and treating me as family. I hope that you understand that for me to heal from this situation fully, it does need to be talked about. What happened up on that mountain was unnecessary and likely could have been avoided had I had the strength to walk away and focus on healing myself, alone.
I want to talk a bit about Thad Russell again, who was someone who was advocating for me and helping me in a HUGE way during those days. He dedicated his speech that year to Shane and I in an effort to help raise money for my legal defense and it worked. That speech was something else and I will include a link to that below, as well as both interviews I did with him. The second interview we got into a lot of the stuff I really have been talking about with the dynamic of that relationship. I figure its better left said there, than repeating it again here.
And finally a note on my Dad. The scene with him this time was filmed literally days after I had contacted him for the first time in five years. I actually had my sister contact him first for me because I was afraid to. I reconnected with my sister via email within 3 days of the murder happening. The first time I called my Dad and said hello to him on the phone all he had to say was “what the fuck Miranda” which actually made me laugh. We cried a bit on the phone together but that was the beginning of a rebirth of a relationship that should have never ended in the first place. Seeing the literal heartbreak in his face as he was still very much processing and still very worried for me, got to me.
My Dad has since visited Mexico to get a glimpse into my life. You think a father would worry more about his daughter now that Im obsessed with what many consider to be the dangerous aerial arts but he knows that’s just part of who I am, just as me spending literal hours in trees during my childhood was. He misses me, I miss him but at least he’s at peace with knowing I am ok.
Thad Russell’s speech at Anarchapulco 2019
Lily Interview One with Thaddeus Russell
6 thoughts on “Episode 5: Damage Opinion and Personal Perspectives”
Your circus work outs are fun to watch ~ much more fun than HBO show!
Thanks for sharing your side of the story. I was wondering tho aren’t you worried a little about being so visible when you have an active warrant in US?
It’s clear they show how you’re healing and quite a bit healthier than when you 1st got there. The episode 1&2 it seemed like you didn’t have as much of a voice…
Its true I didn’t have much of a voice in those times depicted in Episode 1 and 2. I am admittedly a little nervous being so visible but I’ve somewhat been telling my story since 2016 so its my hope that I continue to remain free albeit restricted in some ways here in Mexico
Thank you for sharing with us. I appreciate your truth and candor.
It wasn’t until the last few episodes that I realized how similar your story is to mine. I too was arrested for marijuana when I was 14 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I managed to avoid incarceration, but friends of mine weren’t so fortunate. Instead I was sent to an outpatient “treatment” program where I was told I was an addict, ipso facto the same as the decades-long meth users that I sat with in NA meetings. I had nightmares about the police and years of guilt over my substance use.
I also entered into a volatile and conflict-prone relationship in my early 20s. We were united against the world in a similar way to you and John, although not to the same isolating extent (we were in a band). I really appreciate you attempting to describe a complicated relationship without leaning heavily into the language of “abuse”. As you say, hurt people hurt people. I don’t know how helpful it is to have regrets, or decide that the tragedy could’ve been prevented if you acted differently or ended the relationship. People are imperfect. You had each other’s backs when the world was against you. The pressure must’ve been enormous.
Both my partner and I eventually moved on and it sometimes feels like that relationship leeched all the fight out of me. I met someone else and left the anger and combativeness behind. It seems you have done the same. I’m happy for both of us.
It’s interesting that the Freemans were originally inspirational to you. From the start of the HBO doc I feel like I had them pegged: people who ran a successful business from the relative stability provided by the United States who then decided they didn’t want to share. While they may see themselves as community builders, when a tragedy occurred they did little to step in. Paul was described in the doc as the ultimate troll, and he really did illuminate the cracks in the dream. A stateless society which wants to remain a functional community has to have ways to deal with ruptures. Watching this doc made me realize that I am happy to pay a yearly fee (taxes) to a larger entity (government) in order to provide services for / deal with people like Paul. The damage they deal is immense and terrifying.
This whole series has been very thought-provoking. For a true, peaceful anarchy to exist, people would need to be willing to help each other and come to each other’s aid. If not with their own efforts then at least materially. I’m sorry your community seems to have let you down.
Thank you much for this comment! I am sorry to hear about how the drug war has affected you too, as well as your difficult time in that relationship. For me it was all a learning experience and while it was hard I am ultimately grateful for my lessons. I will say I could have done without the felonies though but life has a way of sacking people really hard. I was told that I could get out of my charges by going to rehab but the idea of going to rehab for weed felt ridiculous to me.
That’s an interesting point about the freemans and I think to an extent, we wished we were as financially stable as they were. When we got to Acapulco we realized pretty quickly they were only interested in building a community of the famous celebritarians and the wealthy, which was so discouraging. As far as Im concerned, a community really shows what they are worth when times get tough, and that community there was very much lacking. Its somewhat my experience that this is the case with most of these gringo (the Mexican term for Americans) enclaves in Mexico.
I know some voluntaryists and anarchists would be mad to see that this doc made you somewhat glad for the system in the US, but I don’t blame you. Its really hard to live this way. Most of those claiming to live anarchist are still paying their taxes for their nice house and family homelife. Maybe they homeschool their kids, maybe they speak out against the government online but the reality is most of them are playing into the system. Larken Rose is another good example of what happens when you try to buck that system.
A note on the final paragraph, this likely won’t be shown in the series but Anarchapulco has really evolved to be something special and very different with a huge focus on helping the hard parts of the community. They’ve helped me raise some money for my legal funds, and they yearly raise huge amounts of money for the local orphanage in Acapulco. It’s not perfect but it is a start showing that the community is learning from their mistakes of the past.
Watching the series makes me feel like for all the close and intimate access over the years, very little of the many positive experiences of others were mentioned. Also the series seems to suggest that Jeff Had to Have ALL the answers for how to do “Anarchy” and when a bad example existed, well obviously Anarchy or anyone who advocates it, is to blame. Might as well pay taxes or die… Which considering he paid for the production, and provided such an intimate access, there could have at least been a more balanced or proportionalstoryline.. Of ALL the attendees, how many had good experiences?
2020 was lockdown year, but the show blames Berwick for Governments shutting down travel!
The liberty community is quite large. Not everyone who attends Anarchapulco is an anarchist. Not every bitcoiner or crypto fan is anarchist. I remember the early days of BitcoinTalk as a lurker, seeing posts about wanting to report bitcoin profit on tax forms!
It is obvious that 1) No, Berwick is not some cult leader 2) bitcoiners are not all anarchists 3) Much has happened to the positive to keep you involved in even the web development for the conference 4) Many positive experiences and people were purposely and/or unfortunately Not brought to the fore. This could have been much more than 6 episodes.
Is any movement perfect, no, of course not. The troubles you had while there were real and not disputed, but it seems like the focus on you and the Freemans to the exclusion of so many others, seems like a missed opportunity at best, and an agenda by the producers at worst.
I don’t know, but I sure hope that in the future a more balanced view or even % view would be portrayed.
Thank you for your part in the production. I look forward to attending my first Anarchapulco in the future!
I dont remember the show blaming berwick for shutting down travel. In regards to not showing enough of the good times, the reality was Anarchapulco was about a week out of the year and the other 350 days were very different than what happened during the high season of the conferecne. While it outlines a lot of the story of the event that spawned the community, the focus of the show was always meant to be on the people who called Acapulco home of which there were few.
That being said, it did a good job for the most part of portraying what these community members, myself included, were feeling throughout those years. It isn’t pretty but it is what it is. I agree that Berwick is not a cult leader, the reality is we didn’t even see him outside of the conference despite living in the same city. I also agree there was a lot of positive missed after the 2020 event, when i got hired by Anarchapulco and eventually became coproducer. I wish the dream team and rebirth of Anarchapulco in 2021 was shown but I think its up to me now to show that as best I can. I also agree it could have been much more than 6 episodes.