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“You see the giant and the shepherd in the valley and Elah and your eye is drawn to the man with the sword and shield and the glittering armor. But so much of what is beautiful and valuable in the world comes from the shepherd, who has more strength and purpose than we can ever imagine.”
-Malcolm Gladwell

By Cortland Pfeffer       Edited By Irwin Ozborne

I survived a suicide attempt. I also spent years receiving treatment in rehab centers and psychiatric hospitals. However my friend, Joe, did not survive. He spent many years on the streets and in jails before taking his life on February 25, 2010. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself.

There is no difference between us, besides our resources and the subsequent treatment we were provided. He grew up in a rough environment including his home, neighborhood, school, friends, and life experiences. I grew up in a family that had money, offered support, and always knowing I had a security blanket if things went astray.

That is how our stories began and unfortunately how one of our stories end. But did it have to end this way?

There is enormous stigma associated with the word “suicide.” People cringe when you even mention the word and immediately change the subject. If we are afraid to talk about it, how on earth do we think we are going to prevent it? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, taking more than 40,000 per year. At this rate, in one decade, we lose 400,000 people to suicide – equivalent to the entire population of Oakland, California.

When someone is suicidal, the typical reaction is “don’t talk like that!” or “that’s not even funny.” Or it turns to simplifying the situation such as, “other people have it worse than you,” or “just snap out of it, things will get better.” Nobody wants to “deal with it” and most people will adamantly refuse to even discuss it. You may even be considered selfish for having those thoughts and leaving close ones behind.

But when suicide does occur, the response is quite the opposite. Suddenly, everyone is there and feel terrible. They did not see the signs, never saw it coming, and can only talk about the amazing qualities of the deceased. It even goes as far as to hear people saying, “why didn’t they just reach out?”

If anyone has ever lost someone to suicide, they know the tremendous amount of pain associated. There may not be a worse feeling in the world. There are so many unanswered questions, “what ifs”, and “Should haves”. In the end, nobody commits suicide because they want to die, they commit suicide because they want the pain to go away.

I was suicidal, Joe committed suicide.

Part of the reason Joe is dead is because of the stigma associated with suicide along with the professionals he worked with that neglected and labeled him. He did not get treated as he deserved.

Joe didn’t have money, my family did. He went to jail and stayed long-term, I went to jail and got bailed out. He stayed in jail, while I was offered treatment instead. His crimes were all non-violent drug possession charges, mine were DUI, assault, and disorderly.

The difference? I had money and resources. Based on the information in the paragraph above, is there any other reason for the difference in penalties?

Joe and I were also born with the same temperament, which is more in tune with others emotions and greater sensitivity. This is neither good nor bad, just the way we were born. This is not to say that being emotional is guaranteed to create issues.

To be on this far end of the spectrum, along with consistently being denied needed support, along with the unhealthy environment is a formula for addiction. They refer to this as the biopsychosocial model. The biology is the genetics, the psychological refers to the emotional neglect and trauma, and the sociological refers to growing up in a broken home, overpopulated schools with minimal resources, poverty, and lack of positive role models.

But to also be denied the needed support on a consistent basis.

Some people are born more sensitive than others, which means they are going to get hurt more easily. Being an extremely sensitive male is vastly unacceptable in this society. It results in repeated invalidation such as “you are overreacting,” “you shouldn’t be feeling that way,” “men don’t cry,” “tough it out,” or “what’s wrong with you?” It also leads to being greatly misunderstood and isolation. The only way to gain acceptance is to create a mask, or a false self, to find a sense of belonging or purpose. People accept you when you wear your mask, which makes it more difficult to remove. But deep inside, we know it is not our true self.

For example, the mask teaches us that men are supposed to act out in anger when they are hurt. When we respond in anger, it is accepted. When we misbehave, we are accepted.

The mask brings us great power to finally feel alive. The more acceptance and connection the mask gains for us, the  more we try to fill these roles. In fact, we start to believe that we are the mask we wear.

Then something bizarre happens. People turn on us for that exact same mask that they once praised. Suddenly you took things too far, you get labeled and judged for the same behaviors that were once glamorized.

This leads to addiction. It can be any substance or activity outside of ourselves that allows an escape from the pain. This can take the form of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, co-dependency, anger, or any compulsive behavior that lets our soul temporarily come through the cracks in our mask.

Each culture and society has their own version of acceptable masks. But they all serve the same purpose, to escape the pain and hide from any difficult emotion. It grants us temporary relief, which is reinforcing, as it seems quite simple to take a pill, smoke a joint, or drink a beer and the pain instantly vanishes. This creates a pattern of depending on our substance/behavior, believing that we are killing the pain, but in essence we are only adding fuel to the fire. The need for the substance/behavior becomes a matter of life-or-death and we start doing things we normally would never imagine all in an effort to use again and ease the pain. These new behaviors get judged and labeled as being a “bad person” which only adds layers to the mask and we begin to hate the monster we have created.

And that is just it, we hate the monster, the false-self, the mask. We don’t hate ourselves, we hate the mask that we have been wearing.

So, the truth is when we say, “I want to kill myself,” we have it reversed. It is not the “self” that needs to die, it is the “I”. The “I” refers to the ego, the false self, the mask. We need to kill our false self and then the healing can begin.

As Eckhart Tolle states, “The secret of life is to die before you die, and find that there is no death.”  He is referring to the death of the ego, the self-righteous suicide.

No health professional ever reached out to Joe, no one even talked to him, nor did they even know how to approach him. Instead they saw a “criminal” who was “angry” and was misjudged and mislabeled. While I went through the same difficulties, I was referred to as the “patient” that had a “disorder” and only needed proper treatment.

They never got to see beyond his mask. Joe was the most sensitive, caring, loving, and loyal person you could ever meet. However, that was not accepted in his culture so he became the angry, arrogant, drug addict – which is more acceptable.  He wore this mask his entire life, hiding his true self which led to more drugs, crimes, and erratic behavior.

No one in the field ever even dared to think, “This is a genuinely caring kid who has never gotten a chance to show himself.” Because once the label is created, everything you do is attached to that label. They read your chart and a decision is made before the first encounter.

While my rap sheet was for more horrendous, I was considered “a poor sensitive kid that needs someone to love him.” Whereas Joe was considered “unreachable.”

The difference in outcomes is related to how the patients are treated. One of my favorite sayings is, “you can get anyone to tell you their secrets if you love them enough.” Yet, in this field we are told to get the deepest secrets of the client, but not get too close. It doesn’t work that way. I won’t show you what is behind my mask until you show me what is behind yours.
He let me see behind this mask and I let him see behind mine.  And that is how true connections and relationships are built. I know the real Joe, something the “professionals” never took time to do.

Although I received better treatment, Joe was the better man. We shared a special bond and he would always reach out to me at times of need. One time he ended up in jail and had no place to go once released. He called me and we let him stay in our home for a while.  On the first night at dinner, he looked to my wife and said, “this is the best food I’ve ever had.” And he meant it, to him it was everything, while I had become so grown so accustom to these things I had taken them for granted.

Joe had a unique following of people. He loved to love. If he had two dollars to his name, he would spend it on others. He gave just to give, never expecting anything in return. This is what attracted people to Joe, he was pure once you got to see behind his mask.

He also had a son, Anthony, who he loved more than anything. You could see and sense the love these two had for one another. Joe would always say, “I love you buddy” and kiss Anthony. I never saw a man kiss his little boy before, it was admirable. I make sure that I do that with my three-year-old son now and I think of Joe every time.

Anthony never saw the labels of “drug addict,” “bipolar,” or “criminal.” That is the beauty and genius of children, they do not see masks or labels. Anthony only saw him as I did, as an angel. A kind, beautiful human with so much severe pain that nobody knew existed.

His friends started showing up at the house, and I started coming home to see my 10-year-old daughter sitting at home with a bunch of strange men I’ve never met.

After a few warnings we told him he couldn’t stay here if these people kept showing up on their own. He told his friends to wait until he was home, but they refused to listen. That’s the downfall of being so pure, people will take advantage of you. It broke my heart, but we had to remove him from our home for safety of our daughter.

A few years later I received an email that gives me chills just thinking about.

“Joe is dead. He hung himself.”

He didn’t call me this time. Perhaps the pain grew too great that he didn’t want someone to talk him out of it one more time. I had kicked him out, I was his support, and the guilt I carry with me is insurmountable at times.

So, when people ask me why I fight so hard for patients, this is one of the main reasons. If we lived in a just world, Joe would have received the treatment I received and he would be with us today. If we lived in a world guided with love, somebody would have built trust with him, got to know him, and offer the services he needed. But in a world guided by fear, we judge, label, and allow 40,000 cases like Joe happen each year.

People do not go away when they die. Only the false self dies along with the body. Our spirit lives on forever. The things Joe passed on to me, I still carry and pass along to my children. He is with all of us that remember him. He is here right now as long as we let him in.

I love you Joe.

largesoulcontract

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies. Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you. Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight. Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous. Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow. Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough. Give the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.

  • Mother Teresa

By Irwin Ozborne contributing writer to TTMO

There are no coincidences in life. A coincidence is defined as a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent connection or significant meaning. Again, these do not exist because all coincidences have meaning which is what Carl Jung defined as a synchronicity.

Synchronicities refer to the law of unity, that we are all linked through our unconscious. There is no separation between you, me, anyone, or anything. Any movement, no matter how small, will eventually be felt by us all.

Every interaction we have with others will trigger a chain reaction that impacts the universe. This can be small interactions that include a friendly smile to the clerk at the gas station, changing her day, which may make her smile at the next person, who treats his clients better, and they go along and feel better and pass along the chain of love to the next. It can also have enormous impacts on the world such as a woman in Montgomery, Alabama, refusing to give up her seat on a bus in 1955 which led to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

Once we are aware of synchronicities, we start seeing them every day and with every moment, interaction, and movement. In fact, we see that not only are synchronicities true, but that they exist in every single moment. Everything is a synchronicity; every moment is changing the course of history for the world.

Yesterday, I had one of these that reminded me of how simple this works.

I had plans to meet up with someone at 9:00 p.m., and I was early so I stopped by my local gym to go for a quick 45 minute jog. Cardio has become a form of meditation for me and allows me to clear my mind and come up with new ideas. Currently, I had been struggling with how I can do more to give back to others and make a difference on the world. I was hoping that a quick cardio session would boost some creative juices and give me some ideas.

However, the universe had a greater plan in place. About seven minutes into my jog, the sole of my shoe had started to rip open and I could feel my big toe pressing against the moving rubber of the treadmill. Frustrated, I wanted to “fight through it,” but knew that it would only create much greater pain. I had no choice, but to end my session at this point. I didn’t feel like lifting, so I returned to my car to text my friend and see if we could meet earlier.

As I drove away from the gym, I was receiving about twenty texts and needed to pull over and see what was going on. Through the intersection, there is a Super America gas station on the left and a Walgreens pharmacy on the right. I come here often, and I would say 99 percent of the time I stop for a snack or anything that I always go to the gas station. I had every intent on going to the gas station today, in fact, had my left blinker on and there was a car behind me and it was clear to turn.

Just at this instant, it was if somebody grabbed hold of the wheel because I felt an incredibly strong urge to go to Walgreens suddenly. I switched my blinker to the right side and made a quick, sharp turn into the pharmacy so fast that my tires squealed which was quite embarrassing to say the least.

While I sat in my car responding to texts and in my own world, I continued to ask what I can do to give back and help the world. I grabbed a piece of paper and started making a list of the things I wanted to do to help volunteer, start new projects, or reach out to others. I came up with an incredible list and then just asked, “If only an opportunity would present itself to me.”

Then, opportunity knocked.

Literally, a knock on my passenger side glass startled me and I looked up. As I looked out the window, there was a middle-aged African-American man that had taken a good couple steps back from my car and had both his hands up as if to show me that he had no weapon and that he was not a threat. He had a sincere look of helplessness on his face and I almost wondered what my facial expression looked like to have him jump back a few steps. I rolled down the window and you could see everything in this man’s body language that he was in dire need.

“I am so very sorry,” the man stated with remorse in his eyes, “I really hate to bother you but I am in need of some help.”

“Sure what’s up?” I asked curiously.

“Do you know where Brooklyn Park is?” he asked, “It’s a long ass way from here. I came out here to help some people out and now I’m the one stuck here.”

Just to clarify, Brooklyn Park is a predominately black suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul area. I live in a predominately white suburb about an hour away from this man’s destination. I wasn’t sure what he needed at this time and just kept my window down and waiting for him to continue.

“This is so embarrassing, but I was out here helping someone out and I am just about out of gas,” he said with a shamed look in his face, “I have to make it all the way back to Brooklyn Park and I forgot my wallet. I’m trying to do a good thing and this is what happens. Is there any chance you could help me out?”

“Yeah, let’s go inside and I’ll grab you some cash,” I told him and you could see the life go back into this man’s life. As if hope in humanity had been restored.

As we walked inside to the ATM machine, I felt all eyes were upon us. An elderly couple looked at me in disgust, a middle-aged white man scowled at the man who was in need, one of the younger female workers had fear in her eyes. The woman behind the counter, the only other African-American in the store, gave me a look in her eye which said “you have a kind heart” but her facial expression had a tone as if to say, “but you are being taken advantage of by this guy.”

I gave them man $20 and asked if that would be enough to get him home.

“Thank you so much, you have no idea how embarrassing this is,” he said with a tear in his eye, “I asked a couple people and you wouldn’t believe their response. One man told me, ‘How the HELL does a GROWN-ASS man forget his wallet!’”

“I do it all the time,” I told him, “We’ve all been there. I’d hope someone would do the same for me if I were in your situation.”

He gave me a hug in front of everyone in the store and wished me a happy Fourth of July weekend. I wished him well and went on my way to pick up a few snacks at the store myself.

This is what I call a soul contract. A soul contract is a prearranged contract prior to entering this lifetime that we make with others. We do so in order to teach each other lessons that help us grow. This was part of our plan to meet at this encounter, and the universe works in ways to make sure we meet.

The worn out soles of my tennis shoes led me to another worn out soul asking for help.

But this is not where the soul contracts end, it goes much deeper. We actually have soul contracts with every person we encounter, every single day. There were other soul contracts with each person in that store for us to teach each other lessons.

As I made my way to the counter, the middle-aged man who had previously yelled at the guy asking for help was in front of me. He spent $34.17 that day, mostly on junk food, soda, candy, and unnecessary items.

“I can’t believe you gave that man money,” he tells me in disgust, “You realize he is taking it to the liquor store or a crack house right now.”

“That is not up to me,” I told the man as I looked directly into his eyes that filled with hurt of his own, “I am only responsible for my actions, choices, and behaviors. I am not responsible for the outcome. The man asked for money to get home and I willingly gave him some money. That is all that happened. Nobody knows the outcome, nor do we need to know.”

The man grumbled and threw his hands at me as to say, “The hell with you.” Then he took his bags of junk food and walked out the store continuing to carry with him his bitterness of this entire situation.

I also had a soul contract with this man. He was teaching me of how I have acted in situations in the past. In fact, just thirty minutes ago, worn out soles of my sneakers had ruined my day and I was getting bitter. Everyone we encounter is just a reflection of ourselves, and this man was portraying the way I was acting internally not too long ago. I was letting a minor inconvenience ruin my day. That is the lesson he was providing me. Hopefully, my lesson to him was spreading love. But again, it is not up to me what my lesson is to him. I am not responsible for results.

The woman behind the counter did not even mention the interaction. She just smiled and wished me well after paying for my items. There was a soul contract there too. I do not know the reasons, nor do I need to know. I have no idea how this story ends and probably never will. It brings great inner peace to no longer have the need to attach to outcomes. But it also brings great humility to remember that each person I meet, despite our difference is beliefs, opinions and attitudes, is there to teach me something and help me grow.

There are three main ways to help remember soul contracts and help use them throughout our daily lives. The first one is remembering the story of Brahma. In this tale, Brahma creates the universe and all the people. His friend Maya then asks to play a game in which she cuts Brahma up into millions of pieces and puts a piece of him in every human. She erases his memory so he does not remember, and the game is for him to find himself in every person – or for each of us to find God in each other.

Taking this concept one step deeper, I realize that every person is actually me from a different lifetime. It works on the same level as the story of Brahma. We are all one interconnected being and experiencing the world from different perspectives. When I view the world this way, I see the pain and hurt in others eyes, and see into their soul. I do not know the man’s story that was so angry, but I know that was me from a different lifetime and I am trying to help him grow and flourish.

The third way of thinking of soul contracts, is taking the second concept even one step further. Since we are all God from a different perspective, I think of each person I encounter as an enlightened master and have been put in my path to teach me a lesson. Everyone I meet is enlightened, except for myself. With this perspective, I learn from everyone. The man needing gas, the old couple, the angry man, the scared employee, and the kind woman behind the counter, were all put there to teach me something. I can only hope that I learned the lesson. But if I do not learn the lesson, the soul contracts have stipulations to ensure that we do not move on until we get what we needed to know from that interaction.

Albert Einstein once said, “There are two ways to go about looking at the world; as if nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.” I prefer the latter. I prefer to believe that worn out soles leads me to worn out souls, and that worn out souls will always lead me to greater peace, freedom, and serenity.

alcoholicletterlarge

 “Perhaps the biggest tragedy in our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns.”

By Cortland Pfeffer

A patient of mine from years ago left this note after she committed suicide. I have rewritten it here.

Dear Children- I did not take care of you like children deserve. When other kids were getting ready for school, you were trying to wake me up. You had to walk to the gas station alone,  with change you found scattered around so you could eat. You thought no one loved you and you were bad kids. You missed school and events because you had no one to take you. You got teased at school because you had to wear the same dirty clothes every day. I would be gone for days and you were scared. You would sit up all night wondering what you did wrong. You had no one to teach you anything. You didn’t come home to hugs, love, or even dinner. You never knew what was going to happen. You were never allowed to feel safe in this world. You were so confused when you were taken from me. I remember you screaming for me, with your hands outstretched screaming “Mommy! Mommy! Please don’t let them take Me.!” I saw your hearts break when I walked the other way. Every time the phone rang for the next 10 years you hoped it was me, and you were hurt every time that it wasn’t. I see all the pain you are in. I see the fear, the depression, and the anger. I know the torture I caused in your heart. I know I did this. I am sorry this is how you will remember me. But I understand.

Dear Mother- I know the pain I caused you. You had no one to turn to. It was your dream to be a mother and give love. I ruined your only hope in life. I took and took from you. You sat up crying at night begging God to help me. You didn’t know how to help, because no one took care of you. All you ever wanted was a family. You thought that having a family would take all your pain away. You had to work 2 jobs to replace the things I would steal. Everyone judged you for what I had done. I destroyed your self-confidence. You felt like you failed and you had to leave. I see the guilt in your eyes. I have taken your life from you. I am sorry that this is how you will remember me. But I understand.

Dear Brother- I stole from you, I took your money, your car, and I took all of our parent’s time. This left you with little time with them. You felt ignored and it hurt you. You withdrew from the world and isolated yourself. You had to grow up way to early. You became scared and isolated. I saw that affected your ability to know boundaries and how to have relationships. I see that is all with you still today. I did all of these things. I am sorry this is how you will remember me. But I understand.

Dear Sister- I took all of your toys and hid them. I ruined the toys that you loved the most on purpose. You were just a little girl that wanted love. You didn’t know why I was destroying the family. You saw me and trembled with fear. You couldn’t understand why I stole from mom and dad who had worked so hard. You tried so hard to help. You needed their love to. We missed your dance recitals because I stole the car. Your heart was broken and you didn’t understand how someone you loved so much could do this. You grew up scared. I see your pain, even if you try to hide it. I am sorry this is how you will remember me. But I understand.

Dear Father- You wanted to have a normal family. You took me places and to events all the time.  You hated your job, but you still went every single day to support us. No one loved you when you were a child. You never felt love as an adult. You were lonely. You were afraid to come home. Your marriage was hurt by me. You became depressed, so you drank more. I became an embarrassment to you. My issues robbed you of much of your life. I see the disappointment in your eyes. I am sorry this is how you will remember me. I understand.

I know that this is how I will remember you all.

Dear Brother- I remember going to sporting events together, playing outside, and laughing together. I remember the time you were so scared that dad was going to punish you about the mailbox, so I told him it was me. I remember letting you stay at my house after you had nowhere to go because of your drinking. I remember the not so nice things you tried to do to me. You were scared and lonely just like I was, so I never said anything. I remember coming back from treatment and you telling me how I had ruined everyone’s life. I am sorry you forget about the times I protected you. I was in pain when I did these things, but I understand so are you.

Dear Sister-I remember holding you at night when you were afraid. I remember when you made a mistake and Dad started coming after you. I remember jumping up and doing something worse on purpose so he would punish me instead. I remember you calling me your hero. I remember you clinging to me when we were young for protection. I remember taking you to the park to get away, and teaching you how to do hair. I am sorry that you forgot all of that. I am sorry you are in pain. I understand.

Dear Mother- I remember before it got bad, when you would tuck me in and hug me. It was so safe to be with you. I remember your love. I remember trying to make you happy because you would be so sad. I remember when you couldn’t take it anymore and left, I ran down the street looking for you outside for hours. I remember praying to God that you come back. I cried at night in my bed wishing you would just call me. I promised I wouldn’t be bad anymore. I remember when I told you what dad was doing, how your heart broke. I begged God to protect me. I am sorry you forgot all the good, and I am sorry for your pain, and I understand.

Dear Father- I remember the first time you hit me. You bought me candy so I didn’t tell. When I got older, if I didn’t want to get punished I would watch your “special” movies with you. It made you happy. You cried afterwards. I am sorry for whatever happened to you, to create the person I knew. I see you were in pain. I understand.

Dear children. I love you, I did the best I could. You are angels. I just did not know how to love, and I was scared.

I always wondered if anyone noticed…

Did anyone see when Dad was punching me?

Or when he took me into the room to watch “movies” with him?

Did anyone notice me crying when Mom left, because I was afraid what would happen?

Did God hear me?

Did anyone see what those older boys were doing to me?

Or notice I would be gone for hours as a teenager and come home drunk?

Or that I took the blame to protect you from being punished like I was?

Maybe you did, and you forgot. Maybe you thought it was better me than you.

I kept thinking someone would notice and they would do something. But no one ever did. No teachers, classmates, or anyone. No one spoke up. I guess they didn’t see. Or maybe they thought it was none of their business.

Thank you for telling me I was the bad one, and the problem child. I went to treatment and I got to feel better for a little while.

Until I would come back. No one understood why I would do so well, and when I got out of treatment, I would relapse.

I’m sorry you never could make it to family night at treatment because it was “my issue,” Not yours. That you were “fine.”

Maybe now that I am gone, your problems will be gone.

If you find that you are still in pain with me gone, and start to think maybe you were part of the problem, I am sorry for your pain. But it may be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.

Now that you have to look in the mirror, maybe now you can heal. It is the greatest gift I can give to you.

I used to wonder why God would allow such evil, poverty, and sadness on earth.

Then I realized, he is the one that should probably be asking us why WE ALLOW IT.

He gave us all the resources we need to live here equally. We have enough to end poverty, and help each other. He gave us all the tools we need.

We choose this.

We allow this, not God.

I love you all.

Alcoholism and Addiction are family diseases. Not every case is this extreme. However, the addict is usually the one acting out the dysfunction and is a sign of strength, not weakness.

If you take the strongest one and heal them, and send them back to the dysfunctional system, it will not work.

If we do not start treating the system, we will continue to have an epidemic.

Will you notice? Will you speak up?

Silence is consent.

beauty

By New Contributing Writer to TTMO Irwin Ozborne

“If tomorrow, women woke up and decided they really liked their bodies, just think how many industries would go out of business.Dr. Gail Dines

A mother comes home after a stressful day at work with many tiny worries racing through her mind. She pulls in the driveway and opens the garage door to see her 16-year-old daughter hanging from the rooftop, lifeless, dead, from suicide. She was too fat, so she developed an eating disorder, then was too skinny and “sick” and eventually she gives her reason in a note that is summed up with the words, “soon the pain will be gone.”

Who is at fault? The parents, counselors, school, bullies at school? Partially, all of the above are to blame. But the greater culprit that allows this to continue is the media and beauty industry.

There is an old parable that explains of a small town that suddenly notices a baby floating down the river and all the people come together to rescue the child. Soon, they discover another baby and another and another all floating down the river. All of the resources of the community are put together to take care of the babies coming down the river but they can not keep up and can not save everyone. Eventually, someone offers the suggestion, “Let’s go upstream and see who is throwing all the babies in the river, then we can stop the problem at its core.” This is where the beauty industry is to blame.

Beauty in Western society has become a serious illness. In fact, you could call it an epidemic. Young women in America are being poisoned daily by corporations, advertisements, television, school, friends, and even family members. From the time they are young, they are engrained with the message “beauty is everything and everything can be obtained with beauty.”

Eighty-One percent of 10-year-old girls have a fear of being fat! Another study by the University of Central Florida showed that nearly 50% of girls, aged three to six, were already concerned about their weight. Nearly half of all fourth-grade girls have begun dieting. And by the time they reach high school, 90% of girls are dieting, while only 10% are actually overweight. But the fear of being fat is gone by the time they hit 17-years-old, because now more than four out of every five girl are “unhappy” with their body (Ross, 2012).

I saw a post that said “54% of women would rather get hit by a truck than be fat.” I laughed at the exaggerated message only to do more research and found out that it was not as far-fetched as I first believed. Thankfully, I have been unable to find any validity to that number, but some of the online posts about this scare me.

“How big is the truck, LOL?”

“How fast is the truck going? Will I get hurt?”

But, according to Radar Systems, nearly half of adolescent girls would rather have cancer, experience the death of a parent, or a nuclear war instead of getting fat. And these numbers are only dealing with weight. We haven’t even dug into the full beauty epidemic.

Actress and makeup artist Eva Devergilis states that every woman that sits in her chair apologizes for the way they look. This includes all ages, race, body types, weight, etc. Every single woman that comes in to see her apologizes for their looks. Why have we placed such an emphasis on beauty and why have we set the standard so high that nobody can be satisfied?

“Being a model is like winning the genetic lottery…Planning to be a model when you grow up is like planning to win the Powerball,” said professional model Cameron Russel, “and those are not pictures of me. They are constructions made by professional makeup artists, photographers, hairstylists and photoshop.”

The amount of time and money women spend in regards to their appearance is keeping them out of developing into a more complete person. As Jason Whitlock wrote in an article in the Kansas City Star, “How many more young girls out there are aspiring to be Beyoncé as compared to Hillary Clinton?”

Beauty is the main form of currency for women in Western culture. If you have beauty, you can have anything. They can not escape it because it is everywhere – television, internet, social media, etc. Their image is observed everywhere, by everyone, including themselves. This leads to beauty and image as the number one priority in the lives of young women and children.

But beauty is not the problem. It is wonderful and should be admired to some extent.  The real culprit of the beauty epidemic is a three-part problem which is controlled by the corporate America and the media (which subsequently profits off corporate America and has no urgency to report anything that opposes their financial interests). It stems from creating 1) the belief that beauty is the most important and powerful thing in the world; 2) this is what beauty looks like; and 3) you do not look like this.

With this system, you will always be stuck at number three. You will constantly be buying products, having surgeries to try to reach the level of beauty defined by corporations. The same corporations, mind you, which are selling you the products. It is a giant marketing scheme. None of it is true.

And women know this. But that is how incredibly powerful the propaganda system works. We know outer beauty is not everything, we know that the images they portray are not possible, but we also know we do not look like that. But at that point, we need to just say “and that is ok.”

  1. Beauty is the most important and powerful thing in the world.

You are told that beauty is the most important thing in the world. If you are not beautiful, you are not important, you are not successful, and you really have no value to the world. This message begins with the media, brainwashes everyone valuable in our lives, and trickles into our brains from the time we are young.

The media (television, films, videos, billboards, magazines, movies, music, newspapers, fashion designers, social media, and other internet sites) bombard us with body images throughout the day. Young children spend around six to seven hours per day enamored with these messages (Brown, JD 2002). Chris Downs and Sheila Harrison found that one out of every 3.8 television commercials portrays a message about attractiveness. They went on to state that the average viewer sees about 14 of these messages a day and more than 5,200 advertisements related to attractiveness each year (Downs, 2011).

By the time the average teenage girl in Western society reaches age 18, she has seen nearly 100,000 television advertisements about the importance of attractiveness. This does not include seeing images on the internet, facebook friends, or other media outlets which account for an additional 5,000 plus images per week! (Wiseman, 2012)

  1. This is what beauty looks like.

The same people shoving this message down our throats are the same people defining beauty. This definition is always changing. Look at the images of “beauty” just in the last century and how much the “ideal body image” continues to change. This is not by accident. They want you to continue to strive for an unachievable goal. Therefore, you are always in the quest for more.

A study showed that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day. The comparisons damage the minds of nearly all women each day.

And this “ideal image” you see in the media is 23% below that of the average woman in America – 20 years ago this difference was only eight percent. The gap between reality and ideal image is widening by the day, with Vogue’s Gisele Bunchen (5’11, 125 pounds) at 25% below normal body weight.

  1. You do not look like this.

Without directly saying this, this message is implicitly implied. A study showed that observing an image of body image through the media leads women would increase depression and shame while reducing self-esteem and body satisfaction.

And that is the formula they use. Present an image that is unobtainable in which they know will cause women to feel bad and hate how they look. Then repeat the image over and over – as the Hitler propaganda system has proven to work – until they believe it to be true. Then, they will spend their money on your product, watch your programming, and have your surgery.

Oppression only Survives Through Silence

“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires.”Susan B. Anthony

This is the implicit oppression of women in Western society.  For the majority of our country’s history there has been explicit oppression of women, people of color, homosexuals, mentally ill, and basically anybody who is not a white male. This only survives without anyone speaking out. Then comes the implicit, covert oppression which takes place by subliminally putting messages out through the media that one race, gender, or orientation is inferior.

There is a universally accepted concept that “nobody is perfect.” The concept of being perfect means to be without flaw and to hold all desired qualities and characteristics. So here we have the concept of “perfect” in which the beauty industry teaches us is the ultimate goal to happiness and joy, yet we are also constantly reminded that “nobody is perfect.”  Basically, stating that it is impossible to ever achieve this goal. It becomes a never-ending cycle of self-hatred, followed by seeking external pleasure to fill internal voids.

In reality, the opposite is actually true; which is also the antidote to this epidemic. The idea that nobody is perfect is the biggest lie you have ever been told. The truth is that everybody is perfect. To be perfect means to have all the desired qualities and characteristics – but it never says whose desires. If we can change the train of thought to realize that everything about us is already perfect, there would be no more comparison, and trying to be something we are not. Instead, loving what we already possess and loving everything about everyone else.

This is a concept known as unconditional love. It means to love without condition, without judgment, and to accept completely as it is. This means to not complain, question, or have a desire to change, but to accept perfectly as it is in the present moment.

While the concept seems simple, it is quite difficult. In fact, most people spend their lifetimes trying to achieve unconditional love.  In essence, unconditional love is synonymous with enlightenment.  Both refer to removing labels, judgments, and untruths, and seeing the world as it was presented to us through the lens of our true self. It means removing our mask and seeing the world for how it is, without its mask.

americandream

“They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.” –George Carlin

The Washington post reported that there was 462 people shot to death by police in the first half of 2015. The author also stated on NPR that all this information is normally something that is voluntarily reported. Police are not required to report these things. The reason the number is so high this year is because the Washington Post is keeping track.

We then see the communities blame each other, the riots, and the protests. We all want a victim and a villain. We all want change. By that, we mean we want the other side to change.

In my over 20 years as a patient and staff member, I have met some interesting, amazing people. These 2 people’s stories who I am about to share had a great impact on me. I became close to both of them. They told me their stories and I learned of them through the chart, family, and getting to know them.

They grew up 45 minutes apart. You would never know it by their stories. Read their stories, and tell me which one is the

“bad guy.”

Jerry was born a few months earlier. His height and weight for a newborn was normal. He had no physical difficulties. He passes all the tests needed. He is cleared as a healthy newborn baby. He is allowed to go home with his parents and his 2 older siblings.

The young couple is unsure of how they will handle this financially. The father did not have a job or an education. The mother worked as a secretary for little money. She worked long hours and she was not home often. When she was home, she was tired and not in the mood to cook for 2 kids and her husband.

The marriage was not well either. Neither of Jerry’s parents had a normal childhood growing up. There was alcohol, and at times there was drugs in the house. The father did not have the skills to be a father, as he was never taught himself. So while the mother was away, Jerry and his brothers were left to fend for themselves.

The first stage in a child’s life, age’s birth to 18 months, is important. It is when the child develops a trust or mistrust of the world. They decide if it is safe, or if it is unsafe.

Jerry was left in his crib most of the first year of his life. He was held and fed. He was given enough to survive. He was changed 2-3 times per day. The family needed to save on diapers and food. The mother was resentful of the father for not working, and she was tired from work. She held Jerry when she had the energy and did the very best she could.

The father was around, but he was beaten severely as a child and did not know how to care for an infant. However, he was the one home. He stayed outside and worked on the car most of the day and drank.

The older siblings, ages 3 and 5, tried to take care of Jerry. But they had no idea how to do this. They were rough with Jerry. They were kids unsupervised, so accidents happened.

Jerry developed severe rashes from not being changed. At one time his brother broke Jerry’s arm at age 1.

The family went to the hospital and the social worker examined Jerry and concluded it was an accident. The second time, she called it in to child protection.

Child protection came out and did a family assessment. The mother was working, the father was attempting to get on social security, and the house was clean. The children were not in “imminent danger.”

The social worker has 45 cases with loads of paperwork on each case because the county cannot afford more social workers. So she gives her card and closes the case.

The siblings were beaten harshly for Jerry’s injury.

At about the same time, in another part of the city, another child is born. His name is Ashton. He is born at a normal weight and height. He passes all the tests and is sent home with his parents as well.

His father was in the army for 10 years and was now working at the Airport as a mechanic. He had served in the War. He was considered a hero to most. Ashton’s mother was a Dentist and she had her own practice in town. They were very involved in the community and a well-respected family by all in the town. Ashton was the only child born to his parents.

Ashton grew up in a home that believed in performance and image. His mother was at work often. Ashton’s father was excited to teach him everything he could. He did not give many hugs or much affection. Ashton was taken to the best day care, and he was placed in the most expensive classes for kids. He was given the best food and the best clothes.

Ashton’s mother loved him, but she really never wanted children. She had grown up in a dysfunctional home and her way of escaping that was by performing. She was very unsure of herself even though she was smart and excelled at everything she did. She was a great mother, but she did not believe herself to be. So she stayed away, almost in fear of ruining her child.

That is where Ashton’s father came in, he took charge. He set the rules and the way things would be. He was the general. This comforted Ashton’s mother and made her feel safe. It also made Ashton’s father feel very important and powerful.

Ashton did not get much more hugs and affection than Jerry. However, it appeared on the outside that he did. In fact, he may have gotten less. He was always with some “expert” on some sort of child care. Jerry at least had his misguided siblings holding him.

Now they are toddlers. They are both learning to build self-esteem and autonomy. Learning new skills and right from wrong. When a child fails here, they can feel shame and develop low self-esteem. A child can also start to gain confidence at this point.

Jerry is growing up in the same home. It has gotten worse. He is older now, he can walk and talk. His brothers often use him as a toy. His father has gotten on disability so he has money. It is being spent on alcohol as he sits with his friends and drinks all day. There is rotten food in the refrigerator that the children eat during the day. They often only eat once per day. They go outside on their own and come dangerously close to accidents all the time. It somehow never happens.

Jerry follows his brothers around and is beaten a lot. He is teased, and no one is really there to protect him. No one is there to encourage him to try new things or to teach him. He sometimes watches TV, but often his father is watching a sporting event. Jerry watches sports. His dad will at times reach over and hug him when his father’s team is winning. Jerry loves this.

Jerry’s mother will come home and the fighting will start. It is getting pretty bad. The father beats the mother in front of the children when she argues or complains that nothing is done. The children run and scream. If they are too loud, they get hit as well. They learn to hide downstairs in the filth and dog feces.

The kids get sick but are not taken to the doctor, there is no health insurance. Now there is an added fear of the social services being involved. The older kids are in school and Jerry’s mother gets them off in the morning. They look decent enough that it is not worth it to the teachers to do anything. The teachers in Jerry’s school have 40 kids in a classroom. Many are worse off than Jerry’s family. There is nowhere to put these children if social services takes them away. Jerry’s brothers slip under the radar. No visible unexplainable bruises, they are clean, and not starving. So no one pays attention.

Jerry sits at home with his father. Jerry has accidents and his father will hit him very hard at times. Jerry is 3 and has no idea what he did wrong. Or what he should do. He learns to stay away and not speak up.

Around the same time, Ashton’s life has continued. His father is teaching him right from wrong and he is pounding his beliefs into Ashton. “We” are the “good” guys. “They” are the “bad” guys. He tells Ashton when they watch the news. He points to criminals on TV and tells Ashton “they are the bad guys. We have to protect people.”

He buys Ashton his army toys and his police uniform and toy guns. When Ashton plays along, he gets hugs and high fives from his dad. He is accepted, so Ashton now knows this is what he does to get attention. So he does it. He is rewarded for this.

When Ashton’s mother sees him crying, she will go to give him love. Ashton’s father steps in and ridicules her. She is insecure and does not believe in herself. So she listens and stays away. She hears Ashton’s dad spanking him extra hard for things that Ashton knows nothing about, but she sits off to the side. She goes to work and performs. That is how she has always coped.

Ashton’s parents are well regarded. Ashton is beginning soccer and tee ball. He gets special coaches and teachers to make him the best. He is taught all the time how to succeed. He must keep up the family image. When he does well, it is fun times. If he fails, not so much. If he cries about failing, that is worse. Then there is punishment.

The children continue to grow up. Now in preschool and kindergarten. This is the time children begin to copy adults and start to create play. They begin to experiment with what they think it means to be an adult. This is when the exploring begins and the “why” questions happen. The child may start to feel guilt over natural desires and goals.

Jerry goes to preschool and kindergarten and is a very rough kid. He is very sensitive as well. His feelings are hurt easily. But he knows not to show that by crying or speaking up.

However, it is acceptable to show anger in his family. His dad shows it often. So Jerry hits and kicks. It is what has happened to him his whole life, and so when he punches back he is sometimes rewarded. His dad has the boys have boxing matches for his own entertainment.

Jerry’s mother is withdrawn and depressed at this point. It is a complete disaster in their house. She does not care. Once every so often, she still stands up to Jerry’s dad. She will get the wrench, the belt, and it is getting worse.

Jerry and his brothers have learned to hit and kick their mom when she does not serve them as well. It is what they do now. “Get me my pop.” If she does not get it for the boys, she is hit and punched by her own son’s. This increases her withdrawal. She gets them to school and that is about all they see of her.

They get good enough grades to pass and fly under the radar. At conferences, the kids will get a beating if there is a bad report. The teacher knows that if she tells the parents, that these kids settle down for a while and that makes it easier on her. She has bigger problems in her classroom. So she threatens to tell Jerry’s parents if he is “bad.” Jerry learns to hide even more.

Ashton goes to the best preschools and kindergarten. He stands out and performs well. He is advanced, not because of his intellect, but because of all the training his parents have put him through so it appears that way. Ashton is told he is the best now by the teachers, the parents, and everyone. He is the star. He begins to tell the other kids how to act if they want to be “the good guys.”

He no longer does it for affection, he knows it as his truth. He does cry for his mother at times, but that is fading. She comes less and less. She will sneak him an Ice Cream and some hugs at times. She is spending more time at work.

Ashton’s father does not allow tears. Or talk of emotion. He studies and takes his classes and the family does their public appearances. They see family for a while, but never too often. You cannot keep up this image for too long before it cracks, so they make quick exits.

They prefer to send out emails and cards speaking of accomplishments and vacations. We “don’t have problems.” They say. “It is great. “

They have the image. Truthfully, there is not fighting in their house. Ashton’s mother is not home enough to fight, and she is too fearful and insecure to fight. So there is not fighting, but there also is no love.

The children begin to grow. They are now school age. They are learning new skills and knowledge. This is when the friends begin to have a major influence. A child can develop inferiority at this stage and low self-esteem if they have unresolved feelings of inadequacy.

Jerry is not allowed to have friends over at his house. He does not want them over either. Jerry goes over to his friends’ houses all the time. He is avoiding beatings by his father and his brothers. Jerry being gone gives his family one less mouth to feed and less problem.

Jerry’s mom eventually leaves in the middle of the night and no one knows where she went. Jerry gets the brunt of this for a couple years. He is the most caring, so he is the target. He begins to stay at friends’ houses more and more. There is older kids at his friends and they begin to introduce drinking, sex, and drugs to Jerry. He loves it. He feels at peace for the first time in his life. He finally is free. He begins to do this every day. He is bright enough to pass his classes.

Ashton is going to a private school. He has a little more competition than he or his father would like. His father gets on all the school boards and makes sure Ashton makes all the sports teams. Ashton starts to have a hard time, and other children are able to beat him at academics and sports. His father becomes angry. He demands Ashton practices more, and they hire more coaches. Ashton’s mother is told to work more in order to pay for the extra training. Ashton is starting to learn how to cheat to win. As if he wins, his father is happy.

He performs well and learns to cheat well. His father gives him accolades. “It doesn’t matter how you do it, you have to beat the bad guys for the good of the world. And we are the good guys.”

His father teaches him about the “scum bags” and the “losers,” and how they need to be locked up and put away. Ashton is ridiculed by his father if he does not have friends.

Ashton goes to all the family events to hear his father and mother talk about how amazing he is. This gives him purpose. Ashton sees another kid cheating on a test and reports him. He is awarded at school and at home for stopping this awful behavior. He is told he is a hero for stopping it.

The kids go to high school. They are developing their own identity.

Jerry is a full blown drug addict. He skips school and eventually drops out. He is sensitive so the girls like him, until he hits them of course. That is what he does. He drinks and uses for that peaceful feeling. Jerry cannot find a job. His drug issues land him in court a few times.

Jerry moves from place to place. Eventually he is placed on social security like his father was. He has a girl that stays with him for a while. She becomes pregnant.

They have a child and Jerry changes. Jerry loves his little boy with all of his heart. He hugs him and kisses him and he doesn’t care what people think.

He cannot beat his addiction on his own. Jerry still gets frustrated and has no idea how to deal with things. He hits his girlfriend often. She stays for the child, and because she sees how much love is still in Jerry’s heart. They are on support. They live in a subsidy. A one bedroom apartment.

Jerry starts seeking help, he goes to psychiatrist and although he misses appointments much of the time. He is trying. He has some brain injuries from his childhood that make things harder for him.

One night, Jerry comes home and his girlfriend is crying holding their child. Someone broke in to the house and stole the food stamps and money. Jerrys son is crying uncontrollably. Jerry does not know what to do. He screams at his son and his girlfriend to stop crying. She yells at him that if he wasn’t out partying and had a job this wouldn’t happen. Jerry is about to cry. All the shame and inadequacy comes back. He doesn’t want to hit anyone. He leaves the apartment. He is scared, he feels like a failure. He has no confidence or self-esteem, and he has no idea how to deal with emotions. He leaves in anger, he has to find out what happened. He has to provide for his son. He has to make this right.

As Ashton goes to high school, he fades as the academic all-star and sports star. He begins to lose his whole identity. He knows that when he serves a “justice to the community,” he is applauded and rewarded and at least not ridiculed. He sees kids having fun, partying, and skipping class and he makes sure they are found out. He begins to tell on his own friends.

Ashton will go to the parties, go to the events and fit in. Then he goes right to his father and the principal. This gives Ashton accolades and self-worth. He starts to get excited, and feel superior, as if he is above them and is able to deceive them. He is motivated to catch anyone who crosses him or anyone who makes him look bad.

Ashton graduated high school with a 3.4. He got decent ACT scores. He did not get accepted in to the best colleges so his father was greatly disappointed. So Ashton stopped applying out of fear. He told his father he was applying, but he wasn’t.

When Ashton’s father finds this out he tells him to leave and that he is on his own. He needs to find his own way and learn to struggle and to be a man. Ashton is heartbroken. His mother tries to hug him, Ashton’s father stops it. At this point, Ashton resents his mother so much for not helping him, he doesn’t care. Ashton has no idea where to go or what to do.

Eventually he is sleeping in his car, and surviving eating ramen noodles. He has no money. Eventually Ashton goes in to community college and it is easy for him. He is drawn to becoming the law, because that is “who he is.”

He is a child that has been taught this. In his mind he is sure who is right and who is wrong, who is bad and who is good. This is for him. He thrives and graduates in 3 years with a degree in criminal justice.

After he is in the program, his father begins to help him out again. Ashton is now waiting to become a police officer. His father uses his influence to get Ashton a job right away, which is rare for police. Usually they want people with life experience. Ashton, at age 21 is now a police officer.

Now in reality, their lives never crossed. However, this is a very likely scenario if they ever did:

On this night that Jerry has gone out after he has been robbed, Ashton is working the street.

Jerry sees a pizza man walking alone. Jerry runs after the pizza man and demands he hands it over to him. Jerry steals the pizza and in his anger he kicks and punches the pizza man. He is bringing this back to his family.

Ashton gets the call. He arrives on the scene and talks to the pizza man and knows he has to bust this “creep.”

He spots Jerry and chases him down. Jerry has the pizza in one hand and his pants are falling off. He has to get home. He reaches down in his pants to pull them up, as it’s the only pair of pants he owns.

Ashton knows this is his chance. Jerry is not going to get away. BAM!

Jerry is dead. Ashton has killed him.

This is how a police shooting happens.

Now Jerry is dead and his community is enraged. They are protesting, they are against the police force and riots ensue. They set fires. Eventually police are being attacked.

Ashton’s community is giving each other high fives, saying “no one steals in our neighborhoods. No one. We got him.”

They think it’s great that a “bad” guy was caught. Over a pizza.

There is a tape of the incident. Ashton is arrested and charged with murder. His community is outraged. His father is embarrassed and his mother is devastated.

Ashton is found guilty and is sentenced to 25 years in prison.

His family abandons him. He is alone. He is an embarrassment, and he has a very hard time in jail. He is beaten and attacked routinely. He spends most of his life in jail.

Jerry is dead. His girlfriend becomes involved in drugs and Jerry’s son grows up in a worse environment than he did.

What happened to the real Jerry is he did rob a pizza man and beat him that night. That is a part of his record. He now is in prison, for multiple drug offenses and never sees or speaks to his son.

What happened to the real Ashton is he has been to treatment multiple times, he is no longer on the police force. He lives alone and drinks daily with no contact with his family.

Both destroyed. It does not always end happy. There are many others like them out there suffering.

The crisis divides us by race. But what if I told you Jerry was white, and Ashton was black? Would that change your mind on who is the victim here?

What if I told you they both were black? Or they both were white?

Would that change your mind?

I do not need to tell you what race they were, because it doesn’t matter. This is more than a race issue.

This is an inequality, poverty, abuse, and a mask issue.

What happens is the system tells you how to behave, who to like, and what is acceptable. They tell you to get married and have certain cars and houses. They tell you what you need to be, they create many masks.

Then you do all the stuff the mask makers tell you to do, and we are all walking around depressed and don’t know why.

It is because it is their dream, not ours.

Then when a crisis happens, it creates an “us vs them” issue, when it is in fact a “we” issue.

Those that are profiting off the mask sit by, keep making money, keep creating masks, and are slipping away while we all fight against each other.

You know how to stop them? Stop fighting each other and start loving and accepting each other. Then the mask makers will go away.

But we need a villain, a “bad” guy. We have to take “sides.” There has to be a “right” and a “wrong.”

We are taught that as kids. It is all over the cartoons. Batman punching the “bad” guys.

What if there is no such thing as “good” guys, or “bad” guys? What if we were all in this together?

This is one story, but behind each crisis there is a story that holds the truth.

However, we choose not to look behind the mask, we choose not to look at the real issues, and we choose not to look in the mirror.

That is partially because of the images shown to us over and over again. The images enrage us and creates a false story that gets us to take sides. The same people showing us these images are profiting off of our masks. How do they profit? Well they get higher ratings, and they can charge more for commercial time then.

Until we start to love and accept each other, this will never change.

We all are responsible for Jerry and for Ashton. How many times a day do we see a child struggling, or a family hurting, and look the other way? How many kids are starving throughout the world while we eat double cheeseburgers in excess?

Then a crisis happens and we react and blame each other. Which only breeds more hate, more violence.

Maybe they both were victims. Of all of us. Of society. Of the masks.

There is a solution.

It is simply to look in the mirror, and remember who you truly are, and dedicate yourself to love that day.

It is not just up to the families. How many people came across these kids and had the chance to be the one to love them in their lives? We cannot fix these broken systems over night, but we can give love to someone who needs it.

One person giving either of them unconditional love and acceptance, would have changed this whole story.

They both were chasing love their whole lives. Jerry to get rid of the shame and pain and feel like he is a good dad. Ashton was chasing love by getting the “bad” guys. It was not even real love they were chasing. They had that within them, no one ever showed either of them. They chased the false love and masks passed on to them.

It is time to stop making people chase after false love, and give them real love.

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“For no amount of our screaming at the people in charge to change things can change them… the powers bent on waging war against the poor and the young and the “other” will only be moved to kinship when they observe it.”

 

By Cortland Pfeffer and Irwin Ozborne

People with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are the most discriminated against people in the history of the world.

A psycho is a derogatory term for someone who is psychotic.  Someone who is psychotic is a person suffering from psychosis.  Psychosis is characterized by a disconnection from reality.

That is it, that is all there is to it. A psycho is someone who is experiencing a disconnection from reality.

At first the term was “mad,” then we called them “crazy,” then “insane,” which became “lunacy” or “lunatics,” and then of course “psychosis” or “psychotic.”

As I have shared stories of the ancient days and how people with mental illness were mistreated, a large majority of those mistreatments were towards schizophrenics.

Just as humans have always done, when we do not understand something, we label it as different and persecute those people. But, this is the one group of people that are still left in the darkness. We still do not understand it.

Even though we label it as a medical disease, they still end up locked up behind bars and it is the last group of people in society in which it is still socially acceptable to discriminate against.

In the very ancient times, in the shamanistic cultures they viewed schizophrenics as having a connection to the spirit world. They would train them as to how to use this power, this gift, to connect with their higher self and earn them the title of “healer.”

Eventually as civilizations started to form, governments were created, along with rules, laws, and norms were passed down to keep peace and order.

This was meant to conform to those in power. Schizophrenia then became viewed as different, bizarre, chaotic, and mad. People with this “disorder” were then persecuted, drowned, buried alive, burnt at the stake, locked in institutions, cut off parts of their brain, or highly medicated to control these abnormalities.

So what is schizophrenia? Medically speaking, it is a diagnosis that is characterized by abnormalities in the perception or expression of reality and the sense of the self.

These “abnormalities” are described as hallucinations and delusions.

Hallucinations consist of hearing things that do not appear to be there, and seeing things that do not appear to be present.  Delusions are beliefs that appear “strange” and that only the person diagnosed believes them and they refuse to think differently – hence, refuse to conform.

On a side note, the next version of the DSM is planning on including non-conformity of a mental disorder. They have went from trying to be secretive about these things, to just being quite upfront. If you do not act as we want you to do, then you are sick. And if you are sick, you need to take this drug. But this drug is expensive, so you need this insurance coverage.

However, these descriptions are clinical terms used to help give a diagnosis, which allows for treatment in a society and culture that has agreed upon the best way of treatment of any mental illness is a drug. In the past it was hospitalization in which they never treated the person, but rather abused them and labeled them as insane.

What would happen if we were to actually look deeper into what these “symptoms” include in non-clinical terms, but rather, in terms of the client experiencing them?

The hallucinations are nothing more than an over-sharpening of the senses and experiencing unusual sensations. It can feel like an out-of-body experience and having difficulty deciphering the difference from reality and illusion. Everything tends to flow together as one. The wall never ends, but rather flows together with the flooring. Auditory hallucinations or the “hearing voices” which is so often mocked and ridiculed is a part of being in tune with higher frequencies.

It is scientifically proven that we do not see objects as they are, but rather a transformation and interpretation made by our eyes and mind. The brain filters out what it deems to be unnecessary information. This isn’t new age, make-belief information, this is physics.  Some physicists have estimated that the percentage of light we see on the spectrum is between 1.5 percent and 2.3 percent! That means that there is up to 98-percent of things that we are incapable of seeing.

We communicate daily via invisible radio waves through internet, cell phones, television, and radio. Radio refers to sending energy with waves. Energy is transmitted across the globe without any direct connection. The end result is an announcer speaks into a microphone and the signal travels at the speed of light via radio waves, is received by another signal, and if we tune our radio dial to the right frequency we can hear their voice without any direct connection.

With all this being said, is it possible that if someone has heightened senses to see part of the 98-percent of the world we do not see? Or to hear things at a different frequency in which we are not tuned in? I would say it is almost certain.

Psychosis, such as schizophrenia and mania, has to do with cracking the ego.

The experience is so intense that words can not describe. The ego, also known as the false self, is everything that we thought we knew to be true about ourselves. The reality, as we know it, is breaking right before our eyes. The ego, or mask, is put in place to protect us from danger – but it also is incredibly limiting.

During this experience, you break out of this mask you have been wearing your entire life. You feel an intense amount of energy that takes you to the depths of your soul. Your soul is set free for the first time since you were an infant, which is the reason for such rapid changes. As a part of this, all your senses are incredibly heightened and you start to question everything around you. You ask things such as “Is this real?” “Am I going crazy?” “Did I Die?”

If we are able to resist nothing and allow this experience to continue we will feel other symptoms such as feeling connection and a sense of oneness with the universe. You begin to feel that you are everyone and everything, and they are all you. An intense level of understanding takes over and everything makes sense, you finally see to just “get it.” All the answers to life are in the grasp of your finger tips. Along with the heightened senses of vision and hearing, you also are in tune with those around you almost to the point of feeling their senses, emotions, and thoughts. The sense of time disappears, all that exists is the present moment. All worries seem to disappear as an intense sense of love for everything appears and everything becomes incredibly sacred.  Along with this connection, you also may begin to feel that everything is a test from your creator and you no longer see people in their worldly form, but rather see their souls and see the message they are bringing to you.

As this state of consciousness comes down, it changes everything. Your priorities and values change quite dramatically. It is as though you have been given the answers to all of life’s mysteries and to return to the worldly form can be depressing.

I would like you to now go back and read the last three paragraphs and take them out of context. Just read what this experience of psychosis feels like to the person. Now, instead of saying psychosis refers to cracking of the ego, change the word “psychosis” for “enlightenment.”

“Enlightenment refers to cracking of the ego.” Now read those same three paragraphs describing the sensory experience. It is the exact same thing.

The difference is with enlightenment, people try many ways to achieve this experience through deep meditations, vision quests, soul dances, and psychedelic drugs, etc. Yet, those who are labeled as mentally ill and who have been discriminated against more than any other group of people, tend to have this same experience happen to them naturally. In fact, if you were to experience bipolar mania and explain it to someone the most common response is “I think you need help.”

And by “help,” in our society means to medicate the person so they no longer have these mystical experiences. Now, I do acknowledge that sometimes these hallucinations and delusions can be quite harmful in the sense they are asking people to act violently and they are seeing demons. This is likely due to the either trauma or repressed feelings. It is still a good sign that the person is breaking away from their ego, but they need to be guided by someone with experience so they can get closer to the enlightenment side of the spectrum.

This is the story of the lunatic on the grass:

Every week we would have our team meetings in which we go over treatment plans of the 16 patients in our “Intense psych rehab.”   

I had been off for a while since a huge relapse. I was now back and this was the first treatment meeting I had been to since. My mind was empty and blank. I didn’t know anything to be true for sure, I had given up. Which, as it turns out, was a good thing.

We would have the mental health practitioner present the patients and their goals and progress.

We talk about this new patient, a schizophrenic, and we discuss his goals. It is said that this is a career schizophrenic that goes to hospitals over and over. His goal is to marry Paris Hilton and play golf on the European golf tour.

Well everyone cracks up. The laughing is intense, everyone teases, ridicules, and assasinates his character.

20 mostly privledged white kids in their 20s sitting in this board room with their first psych job determining the fates of these patients.

I am a little intrigued because I love golf. I am terrible at it. However to be outside in nature with the sun for 4 hours I love.

The lessons it taught me was like exercise for my mind. Every shot matters in the same way that every moment matters. If I hit the ball by a tree, then because of that, if I get angry and impulsive, and try to smack it out of the woods, it will likely hit a tree and I’ll be in worse shape. However, if I let my ego down, and chip it out, then I will be better off.

It all adds up, little things matter, have patience, and the only shot that matters is the one in front of you. Swing soft and the ball will go further, nothing is as it seems. Do the opposite of what the ego tells you to do.

You can’t beat nature, go with it. Use your talents, don’t try to be like the other players. Stay within yourself, and be humble.

This is why I loved golf. It was some sort of meditation for me. Those things I learned in golf, could be said for life as well.

I walk upstairs and I see these ratty old shoes hanging over one of the couches.

I look over and there is the guy, the golfer Paris Hilton guy we talked about. He wears the same clothes every day, it is likely all he owns.

He says he’s not sick but he has to take medications. He gets angry if anyone tries to talk to him, about his “illness.”

I just walk by daily for about 2 months. The whole time thinking this guy is a typical schizophrenic so let’s write our notes, get him out of here and go home. Lets get our checks and continue living the lie. I was so embarrassed to be there, after the relapse. I just didn’t want to talk to him. I felt like a fraud.

It was nice outside early that spring so I brought my clubs in one day as I was going golf after work. They were brand new fancy clubs. I tried to act like I was the man, because truly I hated myself at the time and didn’t know why.

Now I know because that was one of my false selves. A mask I was wearing, it wasn’t who I really am. When you run from who your true self is, you suffer.

So at times I talked to him about golf to measure his awareness. He knew a lot so I was surprised. Just person to person talks.

He had started coming down to talk to me more because it was more of a friendship than me just asking him about his “coping skills” and his “goals,” and the bull they teach you to say in school and at these expensive trainings.

He didn’t feel threatened by me or that I was against him, or that I was writing things down in his chart. When patients do that, we are taught to think:

“See they are paranoid.”

However, is that really paranoid? We read their charts and decide who they are without ever getting to know them.

I think lacking trust and not wanting us to write things down is a perfectly normal response based on the circumstances they are usually in. If they say the wrong thing to the wrong person, then its another forced treatment and commitment.

I swung my clubs inside that day. He saw me, and said “Whoah, you got a good swing, not bad.”

He saw my clubs and said ” Hey can I take a swing?”

Now what I was doing here was something that most places would say is inappropriate and me displaying poor boundaries. The people mostly running these places would say that I should be discussing his treatment and goals and his plan. Teaching him the “coping skills” that the book says.

However, no one will talk to you if you don’t build a relationship first. We seem to miss that in mental health.

I think it’s funny that we ask people to tell us everything, and about the worst moments in their lives. When we give nothing. We force releases of information to be signed by court order, and we use the information against them. Then we call the patients non complaint if they refuse.

I wasn’t purposely manipulating a relationship either, I was genuinely talking to him like an equal, without regards to the societal roles we were playing.

So, I said “”yeah, take a swing, let’s see.”

This was the beginning of one of the most deep and profound moments in my life in which my false selves would all die. Was it in a church, in a school, in a huge moment, no. I was about to learn about life from a lifelong schizophrenic at a golf couse. Not quite how I had it dreamt it.

He swung the club and it was one of the nicest swings I had seen in person. I was shocked. Of course that didn’t mean he was a European pro.

I did start to doubt my own pre conceived notions as an “expert.” Could I, the all mighty one be wrong? It brought me back to a time when I was working at the county hospital.

One of the doctors training me said, “You don’t treat the diagnosis, you treat the patient, everyone is different.”

I then went to get support from the program director to take him and anyone else to the driving range. The university where I got my golf lessons, it was close and I was familiar with this place.

I got the ok and so we drive the van to the driving range. We arrive and there is is bunch of young kids with fancy clubs and clothes looking as we walk on the course, a group of mentally ill patients.

They had that look like “Umm I think you guys are lost” or the “Not in our neighborhood” looks.

Here is this schizophrenic guy with 20 year old shoes, long hair, and 10 year old jeans. We had no clubs, except mine. All the course can give him is a 9 iron for kids, which is typically hit about 150 yards by professional golfers. I’m sure they had better clubs to offer. They didn’t want the lunatic ruining their clubs. They didn’t want the lunatic on the grass.

He says ok, he wasn’t arguing. This man is 6’5. The club doesn’t fit him very well but he is just happy to be there as is everyone. He has a 20 year old club used by a kid.

Then there is that moment, the one that changes everything.

He puts the ball down. All these young kids, with their 3000 dollar clubs and their fancy clothes are all chuckling and watching, I am watching, the other patients are watching.

 

He says “Wow, I haven’t swung club in a long time.”

I was so nervous at this point, because I could see all the people watching, and I was watching. I was wondering, was this a delusion? Am I hurting this guy and embarrasing him? I felt my body get tighter. My teeth clenched, heart racing, I could feel it.

 

I look at his face, I watch his eyes, they aren’t schizophrenic eyes. His tongue was tightly wrapped on the outside left side of his mouth. He has this grimace on his face, it was extreme like focus. I look at his feet, they are not schizophrenic feet anymore, they are solid, on the ground, perfect stance. His arms are not schizophrenic arms, the grip is well, but the club does not fit him.

I sense the tenison and the energy as everyone was watching this “freak.” The thing is, he couldn’t sense it. He already knew what we were about to find out. He wasn’t hitting the ball for just him, he was hitting it for me, to give me hope. He was hitting it for the other patients. He was hitting it for the kids watching. The18 to 22 year olds who already have their mind made up, they want to laugh. He was hitting it for them.

 

He hit the ball. It goes well over 175 yards, with a kids 9 iron. The ball flew soo high in the air, like when you watch a pro golfer hit it. It towered over the earth, and the ball was soo beautiful in flight, it was like you see on tv. I could not believe it and you could hear a pin drop. Complete and total silence. Everyone was still.

 

The world stopped, and mine had changed forever. Had the first shot been a miss, no one watches again. The first shot was the key. This wasn’t a ball you could say was just struck well by an amateur. It had the look of a real talented golfer. He hadn’t swung a club in years, he had a girls jr club, and he didn’t have fancy equipment or shoes or a glove. He had a sweatshirt, jeans and those old raggedy shoes.

Then this happened over and over and over again. Eventually people were not whispering anymore. They eventually went back to hitting their balls.

Then more magic happened. At a driving range like this, you see all these golfers hitting all these balls. They all are in flight and all hit well.

There continued to be one ball that towered over the rest and made the others look like little kids.

Then, I started watching the kids, they started swinging and missing, and hitting terrible shots. He’s not supposed to do that. I could barely move. I had been shown the truth yet again. I hit some ok shots, but it didn’t really matter anymore.

 

Then he walked over and started giving me tips on my golf swing and they all worked. I couldn’t believe this. Then I look back, there is 20 kids watching him hit the ball, and watching him teach me. It was that impressive. Of course on the side you had our other patients trippng, laughing, running around. The world had been moved.

 

Then a moment that still tears me up as I write this happened. One kid with extreme courage and bravery comes up and asks him advice on his swing. What courage to do this on front of his shaken peers. Instead of teasing, he came and asked for help.

They had teased and judged, but our guy didn’t care. He said sure, and he loved helping.

Before you knew it you had the schizophrenic giving golf tips to these college golfers. I will never be the same and I knew it when it happened.

I remember getting back to the facility and sitting down. My co workers said “You must really like golf, I’ve never seen you so alive and energized.”

I could not describe what I had just seen and I am still not doing it justice.

All I could say was “yeah I like golf.”

We went again maybe 3 times. We had long talks in the car. He started talking about his life growing up, how he got involved in the system. I started teaching him about schizophrenia.

Eventually, he said to me, “Well I’ve been going to these hospitals and group homes for over 20 years, and no one has ever explained it to me like that. I think I do have that disease, actually maybe they are right.”

I think other people had explained, he hadn’t listened, becasue no one had ever listened to him. He was open, without fear to me.

I only talked to him by chance. I had ignored him for 2 months.

Everyone played a role, the negative mental health practitioner who tried to make a joke of his treatment plan, the great program director. It all played a part.

 

Then I started to listen carefully to what he said when he went on rants instead of just having preconceived notions. I heard him talk about the college he went to.

I decided to look it up, then there it was. I saw a picture of him, clean cut, very well groomed and dressed. He had a 4.0 and was captain of a division 1 golf team. I wanted to be his caddy and get him in tounaments. That never happened.

 

Did he have the talent ot be a pro golfer?, I don’t know, but good enough to make money for sure.

 

My life changed forever, for that first swing was the swing hat changed the world. It came when I had given up on mental health and thought it was a fraud.

Then I realized this wasn’t always a terrible business. Yes there are terrible things that happen, terrible abuse. Horrible things happen. That was not a reason to give up, that was the reason to stay. To stay on the inside and do my best to create change. It is only a fraud if we make it one.

We have the power over every present moment we are in. That will always build on the past moment, much like golf. We can find evil if we look for it.

However as socrates said “Our energy is better spent on focusing on positive future than on the negative past.”

I think ghandi also said that “The best criticism of the bad is the practices of the good.”

Maybe it wasn’t Ghandi, however I know it wasn’t me. Everyone is a human, we are all connected, and we all have things to offer.

If we start to treat people as equals, who deserve respect and love, instead of superiors and inferiors, you start to change.

When you drop everything the ego tells you to truth, magic happens.

When we take that leap, or are forced into it. What we happens is a freedom and beauty that I can’t explain woth words.

My greatest teacher was a “schizophrenic,” that had been committed for over 10 years by the court as crazy. I almost closed myself to him as a teacher because society had labeled him as sick and delusional. That’s how labels destroy.

When we lose the mask, the world becomes beautiful again.

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“The progress of the sun throughout the year symbolizes the process of attaining enlightenment, and the summer solstice is the final climax of this journey as the day of most light in the year. The summer solstice is a time to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness in the individual. Summer solstice is a time to celebrate the light of consciousness within ourselves and within each and every person, and to reflect upon the potential for consciousness to awaken.”

The False self has died, but this is only the beginning. There will be many trials and tribulations. Some of these happen after the death of the false self. Some of these have already happened and are from previous times. You now can look back on and are able to notice that they were lessons that were being taught.

The teachers you have had in your life are not always someone you think it would be. Lessons come from unexpected sources. So when you feel something terrible is happening, know it could be a lesson and a gift eventually. Just let go of the expectations.

I will be gone someday, who knows when. This is what I hope to pass on. This is what I have learned through life’s trials and tribulations, so far.

Following this list will not make you a millionaire, it is not guaranteed to get you a great job, or have money. My hope is that it will make you happy, content, and make your world a better place.

 1: If you are different, you will be separated and labeled.

It is ok if you are lonely and feel different. That does not mean something is wrong with you. It in fact is a sign you are on the right path if you do not fit in. People in power are not always the ones that are the wisest. It is ok to question authority. This lesson came from the social workers and teachers at a preschool.

When I was in preschool I would not talk. I did not want to participate

These social workers and teachers, who were trained, stated that I was likely mentally retarded.

The school had me do special tests and go into a special room away from the other kids. I had a special teacher. They had decided that I was defective. It took them over 2 years to realize I was not mentally retarded. I still have the papers to prove this.

I acted differently than those in the “normal box,” so there was a rush to label me. That is how it works. Do not believe the labels you are given.

 

 

 2: If you speak the truth, be prepared to be attacked and ridiculed.

 

This is done to keep everyone in the “normal box.” To keep things under control, and to give everyone a mask. If you speak the truth through actions or words, people will be threatened. People who are threatened and in power will do whatever it takes to quiet you down. This is where the judgments, labels, and forced isolation come from. My lesson here came from my family.

We all have different reactions to difficult and dysfunctional times. I acted out. I started to throw things at age 7 and rebel against everything. I yelled, screamed, and got in a fight every day at school.

I was labeled as the “bad seed.” I was told that I was the issue. My own family had turned on me and labeled me when they knew deep down inside what the truth was. I was 7 years old, scared and confused. I was acting out based on what had been happening to me in my life.

 

3: Just because a group of seemingly “educated” people say things to be true does not mean they are right.

If there is one person against the group, they may be the only one that is not willing to go along with the community lie. Sometimes, the teachers are wrong. This was taught to me by my extended family, my relatives.

My grandma’s death when I was 11. I saw all the adult kids come into town for the funeral. I had never seen any of them before. They were all calling my dead grandma a drunk and stating she is going to hell.

I knew in my heart that she was kind. She was an alcoholic that had been through psychological and emotional torture. She gave me her last 5 dollars for a football. She was a kind woman. These adults never spent any time with her.

My mother is the one that took care of my grandma as a child and as an adult. She was the only one that seemed to see the good and she was the one that took the abuse the most. It was surreal how silly these adults could be.

4: How well your message is received depends greatly on how you deliver the message.

 

The world is full of people in power who know nothing. This lesson came from the school system. If you feel what is going on is wrong, the way you respond and your attitude about it will determine if people listen.

I acted out continually as a reaction to what was going on in my world. I continually was labeled the bad guy. My actions hurt me and helped the labels continue and contributed to the cycle continuing.

I was expelled from middle school. The way I tried to get my message across is what caused this. I was to go to a special school for “bad kids,” or kids labeled “delinquents.”

They were the opposite of the labels they had been given. They were the kindest kids I had ever known to this point.

5: Stay true to yourself and who you are, even if it upsets others and they reject you.

 

The person who suffers the most from being someone that others want you to be, is you. What is in your heart is all that’s real. Embrace who you are in your heart. Show the world that person. That person is beautiful. This lesson was from my suicide attempt.

I continued to be the bad guy and fill that role. I stole cars, gambled, and stole money all the time. I was always in trouble. I was of course acting out still, but I was also listening to others beliefs about me and taking them as truth. I eventually could not take it anymore and tried to kill myself.

I had held in the pain for 17 years. It exploded and I tried to kill myself. I had the concept right. I needed to kill my false self. I did not know that at the time.

I almost died and had a 3rd degree heart block. I woke up in the middle of the night with my mom there crying with doctors all around me. She was scared. She was in tears and had me committed.

If I had been myself, and accepted who I was, then the pain never gets this bad.

 

 6: There are many people in this world that have it much worse than you can possibly imagine.

 

There is serious abuse and damage being done to kids, which will affect them and those that they come in contact with their whole life. It is going on right now. There is true sadness and pain out there. I saw what true beauty was in this group of abused and neglected kids at the adolescent psychiatric hospital. They were my teachers in this lesson.

I was in the inpatient adolescent psychiatric ward for an all-time record at the time (this is what they told me,) of over 60 days. In this Hospital, I met the best people with the saddest stories in life. Some of them had never had parents. They had been beaten, neglected, and harmed. Sexually and physically abused their whole entire lives. They had never been loved. Yet, they were the most loving, kindest, and most gentle people you will ever meet.

 7: It is not really about what you say but how you make other people feel.

The staff at the adolescent psychiatric hospital. I loved being around them. I do not remember much of what these people said, but I remember how I felt around them. I felt accepted, loved and safe. Safe to be me, they planted the seeds.

If you believe in someone or something, do not let anyone or anything stand in your way. You may change someone’s life by believing in them. This lesson came from staff at a hospital.

The staff at this hospital were amazing people. Especially a social worker named Mary and an RN named Daryl. They did not force love down my throat. They waited for me to be ready. They started by saying hello. They did not force treatment, they did not try to fix me.

First they accepted me and got to know me. Then they taught me about a world I had known nothing about. They gave me hope.

My mom came and gave me a cupcake on her birthday and I threw it in her face for committing me and “ruining my life.” The staff did not even judge me for this.

The whole hospital staff eventually had agreed that I was unmanageable for even this hospital. They had agreed to send me to the state hospital. That would have ended my life. A 17 year old going to the state hospital system is basically throwing in the towel. Even the staff here had done that. However, these 2 people fought for me and saved me from going. May you be someone’s Mary.

 

8: Hurt people hurt people.

 

You have to love yourself first, or you will hurt others unintentionally. Monsters are created by other monsters. People who are very sad, especially when they are children, can do damage to the world. It does not mean they are bad people. It means they are hurting. This lesson came to me from a teenage girl in a lot of pain.

I met a girl who would become the mother of my first child. We were best friends. I soon learned of many terrible things that happened to her in her childhood. I saw it was not all beauty with people that have been hurt as children.

She loved me I believe, she did not know how and neither did I. We hurt each other because we were hurting ourselves.

It is like a surgeon trying to do surgery while they are bleeding, they would spread all their blood into the patient, all while trying to help.

 

9: Everything you gain and all you love will one day go away. Attaching the idea of love to other people or things is a set up for suffering.

 

If you attach all your hopes and dreams to what other people do, say or think gives them ultimate power. It is also power that’s false. The only one who can give you the love you need is you. I would learn this lesson again a few times. The lesson will repeat itself until you learn it. This was another lesson from the same teenage girl in pain.

This young woman could not handle my attachment and love. She did not think she deserved it. She ended up cheating on me and crushing my new found love for life and the world.

I was crushed because I had attached the whole idea of a good life to her. Had I not had this attachment, the suffering would not have happened. The attachment is caused by emptiness. If I did not want anything to do with her at the time, I would have been relieved by this. My perception, not the event, was the problem.

However once I attach anything or anyone to happiness, I set myself up for suffering. Everything goes away, all that you gain and cherish, will disappear and go away. Attaching to things is a set up for suffering.

 

10: There is a truth out there that when you get to it, is the most magical, exhilarating thing you can ever experience. When it happens, enjoy it and remember it for future use.

 

What is important is love. True love. That word does not do it justice. It is like experiencing a oneness with the world and everything pours out. You will one day experience this. Hold on to that feeling whenever it comes. You will need to use it again. It is there. That is who we are at our core. This lesson came from an infant. Kayla Ann, my first child.

The birth of my first child at age 19. Everything slowed down. Everything changed. I saw true magic and love. Everything dropped from me, all of the stuff previously thought to be important was gone. I got to see the truth. The most amazing moment of my life. All emotions at once.

Tears pouring down my face in front of a group of people and I did not really care what they thought about it. Something I never would have done, ever. I was the rough tough kid. What they thought didn’t matter anymore. This was pure truth. All I had was truth.

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 11: If there comes a time you lose everything, it may be the best thing that ever happened to you.

 

If you have deep pain, It means you are about to awaken. Soul search and look within yourself. All you can change is yourself. If you want change, take a long look in the mirror. You can only change you and your reaction to things. The loss of everything can be liberating. It brings an immense freedom to be yourself without anything to worry about. This lesson came from pain.

My daughter, my hope, was taken from me, she was taken out of state. At the time I did not even know this was illegal. It was kidnapping. I had her taken from me for 3 years. Usually not knowing where she was or who she was with.

One time, my daughter had called me to tell me her “daddy” bought her shoes. She was not talking about me when she said daddy. This left me motionless. The phone dropped. I was broken open. My mind emptied, I was broken completely for the 2nd time. This one brought me to my knees.

It opened the light to me as I broke open. As Rumi says, “The wound is where the light enters you.”  I learned to look deeply into myself and change my behavior, regardless of any wrongs I thought were done to me.

It was complete defeat. It was in some sense complete freedom. I saw once again what truly matters.

This pain is one of the 3 major moments of truth in my life.

 

 12: When you are silent, still and deal with emotions, only then will the answers come. Only then, can you move forward. The only way out of it is through it.

You cannot escape pain. Pain may not end up being a bad thing. Seemingly great things at the time can end up hurting you. Withhold judgment and let things play out. You can spend your whole life running from your pain. But then, at the end, you are tired, and you have spent your whole life running and not living. This lesson came to me from a serious physical injury. A shattered leg and knee to the point I could not move.

Drugs, booze, drug dealing, and more stealing. For years a tried to numb the pain. I had the original pain, then added on pain. If it is never dealt with, it stays in you. It won’t be released.

Anything to block the pain. I stole from people to get money when I lost my jobs. I stole from friends. I was a drug addicted drug dealer thief.

All to block pain. In reality it was an escape, a temporary escape that caused more damage. The brain never dealt with these emotions, I had never learned to. I always learned to escape. It used to be anger, then it was other people. Now it was drugs. I just wanted to get away from the world and this allowed that. I was hurting many people, but I just wanted to go away. The drugs took me away.

On the outside, it looked as if I was a complete selfish jerk. Behind that was immense pain of my original pain from family, and now add my daughter thinking someone was her dad. My only hope and chance at life was gone. No one saw the pain. No one looked. I tried to overdose every chance I got. I made sure to remind people, “If I OD, just let me go,” I said that before every time I used.

Eventually, I broke my leg in half playing football and was forced to sit at my mother’s house on a couch for 6 months. No drugs, no escape. Just me and my thoughts. I was finally forced to deal with the emotions of losing my daughter and all of the previous pain. A forced meditation and return to truth.

My mom makes a suggestion. LPN school. I had my GED.

 13: You never know how close you are to the miracle.

 

Human angels come in unexpected spots and from unexpected people. You never know what good you are doing in the moment. This lesson came from an ex stripper and drug addict. One step at a time. Stick it out. Keep fighting.

I had never finished anything in life. I did not know how. Too scared, distracted and fearful. I went to a few classes. I met a former drug addict stripper trying to get her life back together. She kept me going to school on my depressed days. She motivated me to change and be better.

Eventually, I finished. She did not. I do not have any clue where she is. But for the first time in my life. I finished something. I graduated college. Not on my own.

The person who was the most judged and ridiculed in school, the ex-stripper drug addict, she was the one that got me through. She never finished.

She disappeared. I have not heard from her since or of her.

14: Do not ever leave words unsaid.

 

Speak from your heart in each moment. Every moment is precious. Tell people the great you see in them. It takes nothing away from you. In fact, you grow from it. This lesson came from the death of one of my best friends.

After LPN school, I was working at a group home for mentally ill. I get word of one of my best friend’s death. He was killed in a freak boat accident. We were 25 years old at the time. He was gone forever.

We all talked about how much we loved him and how great he was at the bar. No one had ever told him this stuff to his face.

 15: It is hard to give love when you are in pain. But try it, and watch the miracle. If you give love away, love will come back.

 

You will get what you need, if and when you are prepared for it. If you start to heal yourself and be good to others, regardless of your pain, then great things and even miracles begin to happen. You will be amazed at what the world gives you. This lesson came from giving effort to the world.

As I continued to try and get better. Using some of the lessons above, I start to call people that I had hurt before. I apologized to them.

One kid, said “what happened to you? You used to be a tough guy, now you are some wussy.”

I said, “No, I used to be. Now I am real.”

People were thrown off, but I was starting to use previous lessons. Then, out of the blue, I get a call that Kayla and her mother are coming back to town. I get to see my daughter again. She still thought someone else was her dad, and it took her a while to adjust but she did.

Her mother, due to her own undealt with issues, became a full blown meth addict that was being investigated by the FBI. I ended up with full custody of this 6 year old girl.

Her mom would eventually go to federal prison with a sentence for over 10 years.

What was lost forever, was now back. The miracle had happened. There was more to come.

 

 16: Where you end usually depends on where you start.

 

We need to equalize things for people that start off life with less opportunity. Those with privilege need to stop acting like they are on 3rd base because they hit a triple, when in fact they were born on 3rd base. We need to give everyone the same opportunity. Or stop claiming that we are the land of opportunity when we are not. We have to stop penalizing people because they have less resources. It is not equal, most of the young men and women in jails and institutions have much less opportunity and resources.

Before Kayla’s mother went away, she would come around. We would fight and then get along back and forth. Eventually I took her phone when I caught her making a drug deal and threw it away and threw away her drug money. I ended up in Jail for the way I acted out.

She was in pain, and I was panicked. As I went to jail, I realized it was because I saw issues and I wanted to fix them. I now had jeopardized losing my daughter again and her going into foster care. My actions affected everyone. My mother helped me get a lawyer and get me advice and bailed me out. Got me out of trouble. She worked double shifts to do this.

I also saw how biased and racist our system is. I saw many young men with less resources and money were locked up for much lesser crimes. I sat in court and it was almost all young black men, all with no one to bail them out, they were looked at differently by the system. I was not better than them, in fact I was worse. I just had more resources and money

 17: Who you surround yourself with is one of the most important decisions of your life.

You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. This lesson came to me from being in different environments.

I had escaped long term jail thanks to my mother’s working extra. I went back to work at group homes. I met my future wife. While at the group homes I was in charge. I let my ego back in. I believed myself to be in charge. I thought I knew everything so I acted like it.

When you think you know everything, disaster happens. The ego built back up. The false self. With the new girlfriend taking care of everything and myself making my own hours thinking highly of myself, the false self-emerged again.

Drinking heavily started again. I spent more time in jail for a DUI, and a 3rd time in jail for disorderly conduct and fighting 7 security guards. I had such an ego I thought I could take them.

I got less time than I should have. When I got out of jail worked at a county hospital. I was not only NOT the man, I was the lowest on the totem pole. I was the peon. Because of feeling insecure and inadequate around all these genius doctors. I decide I need to be better and entered RN school.

When at the group homes, I gained an inflated ego, and started drinking again and failing. When at the county surrounded by great doctors and nurses. I wanted to learn to be like them.

Who you surround yourself with plays a major factor in your life.

2 of the greatest teachers in my life were doctors at the county hospital. One was a pig farmer and started school at age 33. The other was homeless, living in his car, and then took one college class and started at age 33. Both ended up being great psychiatrists. They were the smartest of this group of geniuses. They were the best with the patients also. They had a freedom to them that I could not grasp.

They were enlightened folks and I wanted to be like them.

 18: Living for others approval will kill you inside

 

Buying and accumulating things is not the answer. You will walk around depressed because you are living someone else’s dream for you. This lesson came from false success.

The drinking was something I was doing nonstop now. We got married, I finished school, and had our first daughter. I finished school by coming home and studying every night and at lunch time instead of taking breaks.

I figured I wasn’t a drunk if I did this. My wife watched the kids nonstop for this and my mom would travel 50 minutes at night to help watch kids and study. So I finished and got a major raise.

We bought a fancy house with the new money. We bought a BMW and Mercedes. The house we bought was a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom “look at me house.”

On the outside, it looked like I was the comeback kid. I got a lot of handshakes and pats on the back. On the inside, I was falling apart. I was living for other people’s approval. I was getting the approval that I had never gotten before. I was accepted by society finally. I soon forgot everything that had upset me about it. Because now that they accepted me, I became a part of the corruption.

The American dream is a lie. It is made up by people who make money off the wedding, the cars and houses we do not need. I had forgotten my true self again and now I had a new false self. The successful rich guy. This all was eventually going to crumble because who I am at my core is someone who cannot live the false life. Some can, and my hats off to them.

 19: It does not always end happy.

 

It is not people who work hard who get better and ahead. It is a lot about the breaks. Society is set up to keep the people in the gutter, in the gutter. It is not right. Life is not fair sometimes.

You can be a part of the problem or the solution, which is up to you. You may not see the results you wish. Do not let that keep you from trying. When we start planting trees that we will never benefit from, then we have grown as a society. Joe’s completed suicide is where this lesson came from.

One of my best friends kills himself by hanging. He had been living with us. Eventually all the old friends came around my about to be teenage daughter and we had to have him leave.

He had always called me when he was in trouble. He did not this time. He was dead. He was a better man than I will ever be.

He did not have the resources or money to get better. I did. I was 33.

20: When you make someone the center of your world for the moment you are with them, you can save their life.

 

You can change the world by simply being present with someone in pain.

Taking time with people, and listening to them is what is important. This lesson came from a doctor.

I was about to have a son. I go in for help finally. I had gone in before and was told that I have chronic fatigue syndrome and I was blown off by the doctor. He did not really talk me.

This final time I was seen by the magical Dr Michael Broeker.

He took time, he listened, and he remembered my name. He was the man that led me on the right path.

As Dante said. “In the middle of my life, I was in a dark wood.”

This man’s actions saved my life. I was about dead when I met him.

I was close to death when he psychologically resuscitated me.

 21: Lessons will repeat themselves until you finally learn what you are supposed to.

There are many different ways to try to escape. Other people, food, gambling, anger, self-harm, alcohol, drugs, and many more. I think I have tried them all. This lesson came from a relapse.

I had relapses. First was on the day after my son was born and the week following. Then I broke my own record of 24 days without booze, then relapse. Made it 60 days after that, then relapse. Then made it 90 days, and then the worst relapse possible.

The drinking was so bad that my wife was leaving me. Kayla had left to live with her mother who had just gotten out of federal prison early. I took my mother’s pills and all of my anxiety medications. I was taken by ambulance to an out of state hospital. I would in the end have 3 stints in rehab, and 3 stints in psychiatric hospitals. Along with the 3 jail sentences. Every time in rehab I was at a different point, they never judged me, always welcomed me. There are many reasons for relapse. I think I went through them all.

Life was too hard and there was too much pain. I could not deal with it. I knew I had to, but I did not have the tools necessary. My life was over. What kind of person abandons there only son to be drunk?  Then still cannot quit? One in pain.

I learned to be ok with emptiness. This was very similar to when Kayla told me someone else was her dad. I was once again, for the 3rd and final time, reminded of the truth. I remembered what matters, and what is important. I was certain I would lose my RN license and my house and my cars. You know what, I didn’t care. I felt freed.

 

 22: You’ll never help anyone by punishing them.

Those that attack others usually have the most to hide. Loving is a sign of strength. To see someone for who they are despite everyone what everyone else says is a special person. If you ever have decision making power over someone’s life. Get to know them. Do not ever base it on what other people say, they have their own biases and agendas. If someone gossips a lot, they have a lot to hide. If you sit in silence while they gossip, you are an active participant. Gossip and talk is not harmless, it destroys character. Punishment does not work ever for an illness. I learned this lesson from my mom, my wife, and my brother Larry.

 

No one would talk to me after the final relapse. Everyone had turned on me. A loser, a criminal, and a bum. I had been given everything by this world and I kept throwing it away. I was a no good and rotten person. These are the things that I heard. I was going to be committed for the second time in my life. The character assassinations were constant. All that did is make me have more pain, more depression and more anxiety. This leads to more drinking. When you are down and lose everything, you learn a lot about everyone.

I never realized that subconsciously, I kept throwing it all away because I truly never wanted it. I knew it was all bull. I didn’t want it.

The 3 people that I had been hardest on, the 3 that I caused the most pain. They were the ones that were there for me and helped pick me up. My brother, my wife, and my mom. They had yet to throw in the towel.

I never got committed thanks to these 3 people sticking up for me. If I was committed, I never would have had a job or been able to help others in the same situation. That’s what punishment would have done to me, is prevented me from ever working with other troubled people.

The nurses at this hospital told the doctor to commit me based on gossip. Not one of them ever even talked to me. I was drugged up and out of it. I could not talk, so they called me non-compliant. No one asked. No one said hi or welcome, their minds were made up about me. They said I did not eat meals, if they would have talked to me, they would have known I was a picky eater.

I learned to say hi to patients and people every day.

 23: Drop all preconceived notions of everything.

You cannot truly see the beauty and magic until you lose all the things and knowledge you think you have. You have to lose that. When you do, you see magic. This lesson came from a lifelong committed schizophrenic.

I made it back. I was working again as RN supervisor. I had an empty mind and I was open to anything. But also lonely and depressed. I was an infant at this point. Just been re born. I did not like this old life of working with mentally ill people. I believed it all to be fake. Then I met the lunatic on the grass.

A schizophrenic told us that he was going to be on European Golf tour and we all laughed. I talked to him, he knew about golf. I took him to range, and my life was changed forever. I now knew the direction my new true self wanted to go. More to come on this story in the future.

Do not ever think you know everything about anything or anyone. Having preconceived ideas will stop you from being able to see the truth, which is beautiful.

This moment proved that for me.

24: Fierceness and toughness are not always loud.

 

Sometimes it is timing. It is not what you say but when you say it. The best way to know what time to say something and what advice to give if any, is easy, but easy only if you are truly listening. Do not force it, timing is everything. This lesson came to me from Mary, a counselor. This happened at a treatment center in an obscure building behind a super 8 motel.

I had to go in to forced treatment. I am going on rants that I am a bad person. I am convinced that this alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, anger, attachment to others, and over consumption is a sign of a bad person. I take over the group and I am trying to convince everyone else how bad we are and how we need to change.

Mary walks in and says “Time for the video.” Everyone agrees. The video changed my life. Addiction can take over your brain and torture you. The video is Dr David Ohm’s video. The disease of addiction.

Mary was gentle, like a grandma that says c’mon in and have some cocoa. But when she meant it, there was a fierceness in her eyes that told you it was time to listen. She never yelled.

 

 25: Appearance means nothing at all.

 

People at the top can be much, much sicker than so called “sick” people. What people tell you a crazy person looks like is different than the truth. This lesson came from a CEO of a major treatment center.

Do not be swayed of by others opinions. What we see in others, good and bad, is a reflection of ourselves and what we like or dislike of ourselves.

I got a new job as supervisor of an alcohol and drug program. 6 figure salary. I was on top in my deluded mind, and at a job that I loved. Helping other addicts find the truth. I was certain everyone in these major jobs are the healthiest, most normal people in the world. They have to be, right? To get to this point, they must be smart.

I met the leader of the company, Debby. The people in these positons are sicker than anyone I learned. They are good at manipulation, gossiping and throwing people under the bus. She would come out and get to know staff. I thought she just was nice. In reality she manipulated them.

She worked to fill beds and to make money. She did not care about the patients at all. I did not ever think that addiction and mental health had become a business, and an evil one at that. I started to be her friend. She taught me how to manipulate the system and make more money.

Then I spoke up against her and I was fired. I lost the big job for speaking up to her bosses about her corruption. She told me I had to dress a certain way and I refused. This eventually was my downfall was thinking she was healthy. I also had the assumption that some of these executives cared about patient care.

She showed me what true mental illness was. She trained me to be still and to be quiet and to observe people at first when in a job like this. This lady with this huge job and fancy clothes is mentally ill. While the misfits she claims to help are healthy. Just needing guidance.

 

26: If you choose to fight for something, make sure you are fighting for something that you are willing to lose everything for. That way, you can fight without reservations and with all you’ve got.

3 things will help you to fight when you have to. Your intentions must be pure. You must know how to fight, and you must be willing to lose everything in order to fight with all you have got.

I lost this fight because I did not do any of these 3 things.

Justice can be served if you fight the right way. There is a time and a way to fight, There is an art of war. This lesson came to me from a 55 year old man with so called ADD, Asperger’s and was working as an assistant making 12 dollars an hour.

After I was fired. I fought and yelled and screamed about the injustice. Another person was fired at the same time. I fought because I wanted the money. I held back because I was not willing to lose everything.

He did not scream and fight and yell. He stayed positive, he just wanted to be with the patients. He got a lawyer, he stayed silent. He fought the right way. He got his job back. I did not.

 27: Labels are destructive.

People are not their illness and no one fits the pattern of the book. Do not treat the illness. Treat the patient. What helps the most is love. This lesson came from an 8 year old confused, scared boy.

I met a young child named Jonah. His family had labeled him the bad kid. He was, like me at that age, the bad seed. Labeled anything from ADD to ODD, to you name it. They wanted him diagnosed for funding and to validate that he was the bad guy and they were somehow ok. It is all about perception. It can be the same behavior and one person sees ODD, another ADD, another aspergers, and another could see it as gifted. None of it is truth. Truth has no words. No labels.

I treated him as if he had all these disorders, just as the book said to. It never worked. We would manipulate things to make his behavior fit our preconceived notions. It never worked, because he was not an illness, he was a person. I researched over and over again all these diseases, only to find some of these diseases meet the same criteria for gifted people. What worked for him was love and acceptance.

He showed me myself as a child. He gave me the idea that maybe I wasn’t a bad kid my whole life. He allowed me a glimpse into my life as a child He brought me back. He showed me my own truth.

28:  Sometimes, people live up to the hype

 

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Words can change people. But they must be pure and genuine and come from truth. This lesson came from the great PVD.

As I make it through the full 8 month treatment for the first time, finally getting towards the middle to the end, all the other patients talk about PVD. They say he is a game changer, and you have to hear him speak. Blah Blah Blah. I cannot stand when people hype things up, I always end up disappointed.

I meet the man, the man that eventually took my mask off. He more than lived up to the hype. He dealt my false self a blow that it never recovered from. His name is PVD, and he will take your mask off and never give it back. He saved my life. He gave my true self life. He put the thought in my head that maybe my own, and others ideas about me may be wrong.

He was the program director for the treatment center. It is a small place, and it shared a building with an assisted living facility. It was not a million dollar huge treatment center. It did not stick out, in fact, it was hidden. You would never know it was a treatment center or the magic happening in that building.

Being there was like being in the womb, once I was done there, my true self was going to be released to the world. His success rate is 70 percent in a time most people’s success rates are 10 percent for addiction treatment.

Everyone should get to meet PVD. I again caught a break.

 

 29: Little things add up to big things

 

When trying to change things, patience is crucial. Systems don’t change fast. First, listen and observe. Pay attention to small things and details. You gain credibility and build up through small things. You lose credibility if all you do is fight. You don’t need to fight all day, every day. Pick your battles. This lesson came from an old Manager at the jail who I constantly fought with.

I was supervisor of a jail now. I saw the injustice and all the mental illness in the jail. I came in and started trying to change things right away. I fought for patients’ rights, I fought for justice. I was loud and was free.

I was missing crucial little details as I constantly fought for justice. My new found true self was being used by myself incorrectly. It is like a child learning to walk. Stumble, stumble. I went after anyone who mistreated patients who were mentally ill and did not deserve to be in jail.

Eventually I angered enough people and was fired. Told to resign or be fired is more like it.

I never got to the big things because I didn’t do the little things right.

 30: Do not believe your own thoughts sometimes, they come from other people.

Your false self is just that, false. Acceptance comes first. You can change yourself, only after you accept yourself. This lesson came from a therapist, Dr Nasaff. He showed me that my thoughts may in fact be false.

Forced therapy from all my self-destructive episodes. I walk in and there is this man in his chair. I would spend 3 years with him. It ended up feeling like I was walking to the Himalayas to see the great wise man. He never judged, always listened. Accepted me, then when the time was right, he challenged me. He is the one who finished the work that PVD started.

He rewired my brain completely. He took it to a new level. He made me look in the mirror. He reframed things. He showed me how my thoughts affect me and my emotions I saw him every week for 3 years. He sent me to EMDR.

I miss him. He gave me armor every week to get me ready for the world. He never labeled anything, ever. Not one time. He went back into my hell with me. He taught me how to earn trust. He taught me to reframe things. He gave alternatives to my beliefs. He worked out all my deep underlying emotions with me. Instead of calling me a psychopath, he said I like to live by my own rules. That I am just outside the bell curve.

Then after gaining my trust, then he challenged me.

He finished what PVD started. He finished taking my mask off. He taught me about challenging my old false self. He placed the dagger in my false self.

31: If you want to help people, walk with them, not above them.

Stay in the senior slow lane of life. Let people rush by you if they want. Patience and walking with people is how you help them. Even if you get in a position of power, there is more corruption at the top. This lesson came from a 77 year old psychotherapist former alcoholic.

After I moved. I was sent to see this retiring old school psychotherapist/psychiatrist. He believed in paper charts. He believed in the relationship with the patient. He was the master. I got 12 sessions with him before he retired. We talked for over an hour a week. I was trying to get all he knew passed on to me. He called it “giving you my molecules.”

He had been an alcoholic and suffered as a kid. He was a true healer. I was learning how to emerge, I was trying to learn how to guide and how to manage my new found true self. I was trying to figure out how to live in this world of falseness and how to function. I wanted to stay at a job, and with my family. I wanted to create change. I tried to take all his molecules of knowledge from him before we were done. I got a job at the state hospital that I was once committed to.

He taught me how to manage in this messed up world. How to function. He showed me how to operate.

 

32: Sometimes you have to walk away.

 

You have to take care of yourself. Sometimes you cannot change things, self-preservation is necessary. Enjoy the great moments, as they do fade. Do what you can in the moment, nothing lasts. You never know the results of your actions. There will come a time the truth will be exposed. Do your best. That is all you can do. Be ok with that. This lesson came from people who abuse patients that they had complete power over.

I get a job at the state hospital. The same state hospital that I was committed to as mentally Ill 20 years ago. What an immense rush. On March 2nd 1994 I was committed as mentally ill to the state hospital (I still have papers.) On March 2nd 2014 I was in charge of one of the unit’s at the same state hospital. It was the 20 year anniversary of my commitment and I could tell no one due to stigma. Instead I sat with an internal glow on this day. It would have been so great to share this, with staff and with patients, but I couldn’t. As soon as they would know, I would be treated differently. I was right, that is what happened.

I did things right, I was patient. I spent time with the sickest patients that there is. I changed things. I used everything I had learned. This is where my destiny unfolded.

However, people that have been abusing patients there for 20 years did not like this. Soon there was a split in staff. Those that are for the new way of person centered care, and the old school. They abuse patients if the patients disagree with them or tell the truth and make them work.

I reported 3 vulnerable adult attacks by these people. One that I know of was substantiated abuse of a 22 year old DD female. I was disciplined each time I reported abuse. For not reporting it correctly, like not filling out their form. Their way to quiet me down.

They all had built relationships over 20 years and knew the system. I refused to be quiet about abuse that I saw. I told them of my history and why I think I am able to help, then the retaliation came.

About a month ago. I walked away from this abusive system in tears and in defeat. Walking away from these patient is heartbreaking.

33: If what you do comes from your heart and is genuine, you can’t go wrong.

This is the last lesson. It came from my mom. It is the lesson of how to love. This is how you change the world.

Through all of this. I have had something to always go back on. Someone who was always there for me. Every single moment, there and with love. With unconditional love and acceptance. I did not make this on my own. There have been many teachers, many breaks. Many opportunities. But we go back to our core when we are in trouble. What was given to me was a love that cannot be matched. This person that did this for me is my mom.

I watched her take care of my dying grandma who had abused her. She always was there. She always sat by my side with love. If I never had that to go back on, then I am dead 10 times over.

My mom grew up with an alcoholic mother abusing her. She retuned love. She did not have a father. She had no clothes. She buried dead fetuses. She had no food. She was tortured. She returned love. She meets the criteria for a saint. I always come back to her love. That is the most powerful.

She was the girl you see on the street wearing the same clothes, hungry, and dirty. No one taught her anything ever. No guidance and only abuse is what she has always known. But you know what she knew? Love. That doesn’t have to be taught. That is us at our core. It was all she had.

So when we say there is evil and bad and why it does happen. Well my mom went through hell. But if she didn’t, I would not have the same mom. I would not have the same life. So the answer to me is that there is good and bad in everything. We choose what we see.

My mom took care of me and everyone in our family. She helped me raise Kayla when I didn’t know how. I would say a greater good has come from her suffering. That is why that particular evil existed.

Why her? Why are some people sacrificed? I believe they are the chosen ones. They are special. The ones that are open and able to do it. They are the strong ones.

I learned a few days ago that at age 39 I am going to be a grandfather, (A YOUNG GRANDFATHER) which is humbling. Kayla is pregnant and 20 years old. Kayla’s first thought was to move in with my mom. Everyone knows the gold that exists in that woman.

My grandchild will be blessed if they get 5 minutes of what I got a lifetime of. Thank you mom.

image

“Our lives will represent the rising of the phoenix if we allow it. Out of the fire and ashes of our crash and burn lives, we are offered a new beginning. And this Grace is offered over and over again.
This mythical bird never comes out of its ashes despondent and dejected; it arises with great power and beauty, undamaged and strengthened by the flames of its self-created fire. We can be encouraged by the power of this timeless myth to rise up—to be re-birthed— into a new beginning, a new opportunity and sometimes, a whole new life.”

This self created fire of the phoenix is what we could refer to as our Dark Night Of The Soul.

Most people, when they speak about addiction and mental health issues, they will tell you of the terrible things that happen to them and their families. The awful days, the time in jail, institutions, everyone looking at your family and judging, and the hangovers.

I can tell you that is all true. Jail, mental hospitals, and destruction. I hid alcohol in dirty diapers so no one would look. I screwed up about every holiday and special occasion for 8 years. I went to jail and other institutions. I lost a 4 bedroom, 4 bathroom house. I lost a wife. I lost a daughter. I lost a best friend. I lost a Mercedes, I lost a BMW. I even lost a dog.

Yes, it is terrible. It is awful. It is also the best thing that ever happened to me.

Because I lost myself, I killed myself. My false self. I became enlightened through addiction and mental health issues, I refuse to call it mental illness anymore. How can I refer to it as an illness when it brings so many people home to their true selves?

I found out what was important. It was like in the movie “The Grinch who stole Christmas,” when the Who’s down in who-ville have all their presents ripped away from them. In the morning, with everything taken from them, they still sing, and they learn what Christmas is truly about.

Alcohol and mental health was my Grinch, it took everything from me that I THOUGHT was important. Although I am sad about the pain, I would not change a thing. The thing I am most grateful for is my alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health issues, and my recovery. Thank you alcohol and mental health, you are my Grinch.

Like the Grinch stated at the end of the movie, “Maybe Christmas is not about what you get in a store, maybe Christmas is about much more.”

Well, maybe life is about much much more than what we have:

Doctor: “She cannot have any more children, she is infertile.”


9 months later:

“Wake up, wake up, it is time to go!” Words we wait for, words I waited for my whole life. My wife says the words to me. It is time to wake up. It was time, it was time for my only son to be born. Something I had dreamt of my whole life. Something that seemed impossible 9 months ago.

Inside my head, the thinking was this:

“God I hope this is over so I can get a drink, this cannot be real. She is just faking it. I need to be able to drink tomorrow, it is Saturday, and I want to golf and drink.”

So the next morning, before I visited them, I went to have a drink. I wound up in the garage passed out all day while my family sat in the hospital. Everyone was there, all the relatives, and my now 3 kids awaited. I was passed out in a garage. Exposed for everyone to see.

I missed the first 3 days of his life. Then when he was a week old, after I had sworn off drinking and drugs, we were at a huge family gathering. I drank, and did drugs. I was driven to the hospital for treatment and I ran. I got out of the car and I ran as fast as I could.

I was run down by my 240 pound brother in law. How he outran me on that day I will never know. He was the tortoise, and he won the race. It was the most important race of my life, and I had to lose. Thankfully, he ran me down and drug me into the hospital. Then, I began to “wake up.”

It wasn’t one aha moment. It is a continual process, 1 step up, 2 back. Constantly learning, like an infant. Because that is what you are. You are being re born. People tend to think of waking up as a finale. That is completley wrong, it is a beginning. After the waking up comes serious trials and tribulations. This is a waking up, you are beginning again. Nothing about waking up is final, it is a start, not an end. Well, maybe a bit of both.

When she said, “It is time to wake up.” She was right. In more ways than one.

I now know what life is about, what is important. I know the reasons why we say do not judge people. I have seen the true power of love. The true power of forgiveness. I have seen magic. I have seen what it feels like to be at the end, with nowhere to go, and people thinking you are some monster. Being annihilated brings a sort of freedom that I can not explain.

I have seen how we get caught up in money, and in things. I know the emptiness we feel, yes we are empty. However, we are all part of one, we belong to each other, and to the earth.

We must love each other. Little things do not disturb me, my thoughts are just that, thoughts. I let them pass. I observe them and watch what they can do to me if I let them.

It is ok to feel emotions, they are a sign.

I finally decided to be my true self, the one I was hiding for so many years. The one that wants to love everyone and tell everyone how great they are. The one that writes, and finds beauty in every moment. The one who talks openly about everything. The one who has let go of what the results are. The one that just puts himself out there. And you know what, I do not need a substance to do that. I never did, that was an illusion.

Others still try to push that true self down. Sometimes, they are successful. Sometimes I put the mask back on. Sometimes, I am very afraid.

The others that try to push down my true self benefit from the false self I created.

However, recovery taught me about resentments, and cleaning my side of the street. I have learned to love myself, to have gratitude, to have affirmations and meditation. To have a good group of people that you trust. Do not be ashamed if you relapse. Shame creates isolation, fear, and depression. The result of that is more relapses.
Be open, it does happen. Learn from it and it is not a mistake. It then becomes a learning experience.

Our family is back. We live a humble life. We teach love. I see people for who they are, I see the good in them. I refuse to push this true self down.

Others pushed the true self down before, that is where the drinking came in, because it helped bring him out.

Now I sing out loud, act goofy, play, speak my emotions, love, and let the thoughts go.

I am at peace. And it is all because of my addiction and recovery. There was pain, but because of the pain came great joy. It was like getting a second chance at life, it was a rebirth. I got to find out who I am, and I still do that every day. Every moment builds on the new me. I am still creating myself.

Focus on right now. Do the very best you can in this moment. Then repeat.

My son’s birthday is June 30th. He is too young to read this. Hopefully, when I’m gone, someone will show this to him. Maddoc, you are my miracle. My phoenix, my proof of the true power of love. Whatever comes your way in life, carry your head high. Your life started by saving mine.

I held him so tight when I finally got a hold of him. People were gathered, whispering, and rolling their eyes. I cried and whispered to him:

“No one believes I can do it, and I don’t even know if I can do it. But I’m going to try my best, little buddy. I’m going to use this love to try. No more. Let’s be born together.”


Focus on right now. Do the very best you can in this moment. Then repeat.

My son was born June 30, and a week later, so was I.

“Wake up, it’s time to wake up.”

Thank you addiction. Thank you mental health.

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“You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.”

This was years ago. This is about a patient who had relapsed terribly. He had many troubles throughout his life with the law, and with school, and just about everything. This was his worst moment he said this as he entered treatment. All this information is in his chart. This is a well-documented case of the mask.

These are 2 emails he received from his 2 brothers. Now this was less than a month after he started treatment for the first time.

Less than a month after his whole world fell apart. These are the actual emails. I’ve taken names and dates out for obvious reasons.

I think this gives a great example of the 2 different ways people treat the addicted and those with mental health issues.

Email 1: From brother 1. (Dale)

After talking to you last night, I am convinced more than ever that you haven’t changed. You are no different than the teenager who would trash the house and punch holes in the wall to get attention. Now you just go about getting your negative attention in less physical ways. Everything still needs to be about you all the time. You can’t stand it when anyone else has any kind of attention. You still engage in negative attention seeking behavior because that is the only way you know how to communicate with anyone. That’s why you sent a prank message to the family last night. NOT because it was a joke. You KNEW it would get people upset. That’s why you sent it. You did it to get a reaction and to get attention for yourself. The “joke” is a convenient excuse so you can just say “people are over-reacting” when they get angry, that way your behavior never has to be dealt with. It’s a clever little game you play. It’s manipulative and you’ve been doing it for years.

It’s no different than two years ago when you called me a “phony” when I volunteered to be a pall bearer at grandma’s funeral. Again, you couldn’t stand attention being on someone other than you. You couldn’t be silent and respectful even at a funeral. You still had to draw attention to yourself. It’s sick. But if anyone had called you out on that disgusting behavior, you could’ve said it was “just a joke,” that way you weren’t to blame. It’s a very clever game you play.

I can’t even go to a family gathering and have a quiet, adult conversation with someone without you screaming and yelling over the entire room because you can’t stand for people to be having a conversation that doesn’t involve you. You need everything to be all about you all the time and all eyes to be on you. It’s like you’re a 5 year old. No wonder you like treatment so much. You get to sit down and have everyone talk about you for three hours. It must be your dream come true.

I’m even starting to think you couldn’t handle the birth of your own child getting more attention than you, so you “created a crisis” by going down to the bar and getting drunk so the attention could be directed back at you. You’re not trashing the house anymore or punching holes in the wall, but it’s the same behavior…it’s seeking negative attention to yourself.

But what really got me was last night you had the guts to tell me you won’t tolerate stuff from me. Who the heck do you think you are???? YOU’RE not gonna take stuff from ME?? Are you kidding? After all you did when we were kids? You should be on your hands and knees every day thanking god that anyone in this family still wants anything to do with you after all the crap you did when you were a kid. Do you need a reminder???? You stole my clothes, my videos, my high school graduation money and my drivers license so you could gamble. You pushed mom down on the kitchen floor when she refused to lie to your parole officer. You chased our brother around the house with a baseball bat. You dumped a glass of pee on our sister’s head. She used to sleep with a knife under her bed she was so afraid of you.

These were YOUR actions. YOU did them. And for you to say to me that I did NOTHING? That I just hid in the basement and “ran away” from high school to high school? Bull! I used to have to disconnect the engine on my car every night so I could drive the other kids to school in the morning (otherwise you would steal it and take it to the casino and we wouldn’t get to class). I used to get up early in the morning in the summer and take our sister’s out of the house and we would sit at the park all day until mom and dad came home because mom said you were “too violent for them to be around.” I bought bread and milk for the house and sometimes even furniture when I was only 18 because mom and dad were so broke paying your gambling debts.

And after all that, I let you back into my life, and for that, you give me a sarcastic “oooh, that was big of you.” IT WAS big of me! Do you know how many people I’ve talked to about you and the things you did when you were a kid? They are all shocked when I tell them I let you back into my life. I remember Uncle B, Aunt K and Aunt M. As well as all of our cousins asking all the time what it was like to live with the “psycho.” You made my life from the time I was 16 to 18 terrible, every single day. And never ONCE did I EVER hear the words “I’m sorry” come out of your mouth. You are such an egomaniac you are incapable of thinking anything is ever your fault. Your actions are never dealt with. No one in this family has ever stood up to you. Your behavior is accepted and that’s why you have never changed.

I am done with it. I was right about you all along. You haven’t changed. You are still the ego-centric, attention-seeking, loudmouthed sociopath you were when you were a teenager. The worst mistake I made in my life was forgiving you. You are no different. You will never change and no one in this family will ever make you change because your behavior is tolerated by them. They are just as messed in the head as you are. There was a reason I didn’t talk to you for five years when we were teenagers. Looking back, it was actually the happiest time in my life. I should’ve never started talking to you again.

You said the other day that you “challenged” people to have a relationship with you. No thanks. You are not worth having a relationship with. I get nothing out of knowing you as a person. You are not worth knowing. I’m getting too old to still be dealing with the same old bull from you 20 years later.

I remember when we were kids, the only thing that worked when you had an outburst or a tantrum was when we all left the house, so you didn’t have an audience anymore. Well that’s what I’m doing now. Your negative, attention-seeking behavior won’t have an audience from me anymore. Go get it somewhere else.

Email 2: From Brother 2 (Larry)

We are never born and never die. We are all eternal spirits. But you took this current human form on this “day.” I think you are one of the smartest, funniest, greatest people in the world. You always share all your wisdom and knowledge and love. Even though it is not always accepted by others and that hurts you. My life got a little crazy and I was not always available lately. I apologize. I know I have done this before, but I have mental issues, a disease. I’m trying to get better. I feel bad, and feel worse that you do not want to talk to me anymore.

You continue to teach me every day. Since we were kids you have always done this. You were the one that was always there for me. The only one. You are always right. Everything you say becomes true. Everything they say in college, you have already told me. Now working in this field, I use your wisdom (well THE GREAT SPIRITS wisdom through you).

You see the good in everyone and you wish for what is best for the world. I wish more people were able to hear your message of love and the world would be a better place. You are my friend and my greatest influence in life. You have been the greatest role model anyone could ask. I continue to look up to you, listen to your words, and strive to do the things you do. Just following your path, I know I am making a difference in the world thanks to the words you have spoken to me.
Well hope you have a super duper DAY and that you don’t hate me. Sorry for my sadness in the past. Being friends with someone who is depressed is one of the most difficult, yet kindest acts someone can do.

There you have it. Strange to think they are talking about the exact same person. They grew up in the same house, during the same time.

It shows that people’s reaction to you has a lot more to do with them, than you.

As it turns out brother number 1 (Dale) had many issues of his own. He was also an alcoholic, and he still is to this day. He lives isolated from the world. Depressed, lonely and without help. He is said to be a brilliant man, which creates loneliness and is often one of the causes of addiction and mental health issues. When you have no one to relate to, and you are able to notice things that others do not, that can be very lonely.

Was he a bad guy? No, I don’t think so. He was also in pain, you can tell that in his email. He felt he had to grow up and be an adult. He suffers from the same issues but did not act out. However, he never got the help the patient did. The patient being the identified “sick” one, prevented this guy from ever getting help. This is how the ego can hurt you.

When someone is so adamant against someone or something that is usually a red flag to me, as it was in this case. If you notice, brother 1 (Dale) mentions how bad it was. However, he also mentions that they didn’t talk for 5 years as teenagers. It’s hard to imagine that all of this is based in reality if you never have talked to someone, yet you are saying they are the person that ruined your life during this same time. How is that possible if you never interacted? We all have perceptions about situations whether they are truth or not.

In family systems there is usually a scapegoat. The one that is the strongest and most sensitive takes on all the blame for the family’s issues. In a way it’s also a blessing, because the scapegoat is the one that gets the help. While the others live in pain, yet not an open to the world type of pain.

In this case brother 1 (Dale) is so mad at the patient for things the patient did as a child.

Did this approach help the patient? Well, in truth, it did. Not because of the way things were said, but he was able to see the lessons in this. Lessons are usually painful. The more painful, the better the lesson. It also crushed the patient and set him back. It is ok to tell the addict and psych patient how they have affected you. It needs to be heard. It can be therapeutic.

However, only when the time is right. The intentions needs to be pure, and it was not in this case. There needs to be trust, and a relationship first. Without the relationship with the patient and trust, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter if you have a cure to their particular condition. If there is no relationship, and the intentions are not pure, nothing else matters.

To kick someone while they are down, and at their worst moment is not at all an approach that heals.

What it did though was show the patient that he had hurt others, and that some people will never accept him. It taught him that it is not about him. The patient can’t force others to become healthy by his standards. He had to detach. There is a lesson in every interaction.

He also heard things in this letter that helped him see what had happened. The patient had forgotten about how everyone in the family including aunts, uncles, and cousins that had rarely ever seem him and spent no time with him at all, were getting together talking about how “psycho,” and unsafe he was. How could that even be possible unless the patient’s own family was telling people this? It broke his heart.

It crushed him. You could tell his heart was breaking. From the patient’s perspective, he was a good guy that was sad and had been acting out. He thought everyone knew that he loved them and this was not really who he was.

However, family systems that are broken do not want to admit fault. That is due to shame, fear of judgement, rejection, and ridicule. They place on a family mask. A false front. They are in pain themselves. Generational pain will get passed on for thousands of years. You may have had anxiety passed on to you from things passed on to your parents. It could have started thousands of years ago. However, it only takes one person to reverse it.

The scapegoat is born when there is a serious system dysfunction. The scapegoat then acts out as if to say, “Something is wrong here.” Which takes immense bravery for a child to go against the adults and culture telling him to be quiet. It is also usually to help younger siblings as well.

Children know nothing about how to communicate, so they act it out. Want to see how a child is feeling, play with them. Let them lead.

In this case, this patient punched holes in the wall. He was a child in serious pain. So he was acting out, because he likely was more sensitive and could not keep things in as well as others. Some say that is a weakness, it is not. It is a strength.

This is how the scapegoat is born.

This is great for the family. They don’t have to talk about their issues any longer. They can now say, “See it is him.” He is now the “identified patient.” Again, this is not a purposeful thing at all. A bunch of pain and hurt. They have basically turned on their own.

However, the same system that helped create this violent child, now is blaming him for being violent. He has become the sacrificial Lamb of the family. There are other roles that are formed in these families, but this is the one that leads to addiction and mental health issues.

Then the gossip begins, which is like murdering someone’s character.

Now, these adults who have never truly spent time with him are somehow disgusted with him. Lies have speed, but the truth has endurance. Not one of these adults ever sat down and talked with his child. Instead, they chose to talk about him.

This gains the family acceptance and saves them from ridicule.

The children, in this case, the brothers, sisters, and cousins all gained acceptance from the adults every time they agreed and told stories about how awful this misfit was. I’m not saying the adults cheered them on. But they paid attention, they talked to the children, and they told these kids “I’m so glad you’re so well behaved and not like that.” It again is not purposeful.

We now have adults teaching kids how to put on the mask.

The scapegoated patient is a hurt child that acted out due to system dysfunction. Now they have their own family turn on them. They now are told by adults, and everyone around them, that they are the issue, that they are the bad seed.

That then causes even more pain and isolation and depression. Acting out in school begins. The patient has been reinforced not to talk about things, and never taught honesty (real honesty). So he acts out in school.

You can’t bottle these emotions, the scapegoated patient is always the most sensitive by nature. So the emotions will come out soon, especially in a child. With the added stress of kids at school who are socializing, acting human and communicating, the extra stress is bound to cause an eruption in the scapegoat. So when kids act up in school, and I hear teachers say, “oh yeah, just a rough kid.”

That is a cop out. There is always more to it that can be done. If you sit back and do nothing, then you are part of the problem. Anyone can see another person struggling, we can do something if we choose to.

So now that this patient is acting out in school, now we have a defined trouble maker at school. More back up and evidence that this child is the problem, this is the bad kid. Now he even has more people telling him this. The chart is already building.

When I worked at the juvenile home for boys, the guards were teaching the kids how to act “when” they go to prison as adults.

This patient now believes himself to be a bad person. He is now more depressed, more isolated, and now more fearful of the world.  He is unable to trust anyone.

Eventually these type patients will meet other outcasts. Then the normals will say, “all the bad seeds find each other.” More gossip, when one act of kindness would change the world. Then these outcasts have a drink, or use some drugs and it takes it all away.

Relaxation, the mask is off. If anyone ever says to you, “I love when I drink that I become myself.” You have an issue on your hands. But it can be a blessing.

It’s all gone. This mask is off. The outcast gets to be this loving, sensitive person that they always have been. They are also around others just like them. This is a perfect storm.

Everyone is calling them losers, the outcasts will then attach to each other more. Many of them will quit school. No one is surprised, they shake their heads, and the chart is building already.

At any point during this one person could step in and change everything. One moment, one minute of time, anyone can do this. We want to take care of “our own.” What if we looked at is as all of us were in this together, we all are “our own.”

But the real reason they quit school is they are usually bored at school, and they are mocked and ridiculed. They also are learning things by being told to memorize things that the outcasts don’t believe. The way our system is set up is that those that get the good grades are those that repeat what the teachers want. We are not teaching people how to think, but how to pass a test.

The outcasts have learned to question the answers, not just answer the questions. This gets them further labeled as disruptive and challenging. This develops early on in life as they found out early that just because adults say things are ok, does not mean it is true. To have a kid who questions things should be embraced, not punished.

So the outcasts would rather go with friends and use or drink or whatever. No one really pushes them to stay, because, you know, they are “losers.”

They have proven everyone right. They believe it, although on some level they don’t believe it. Which is where the misunderstood attitude comes from. Which is why you hear the stories of “one person believed in me and that changed my life.” Because one person understanding will stop all of this.

At this point, usually they are only able to function with substances. So if you take the substance away, and on top of that, they still have never learned to deal with emotions or situations. So jobs are hard with this lack of how to be a human skills, or domestication. Add in no “education.” Now the outcasts are also addicted.

You now have a drug addicted high school dropout without a job. Loser? I do not think so.

Everyone says they just knew it, poor family has to deal with this.

This is where you see the complete brainwashed brother number 1(Dale). He sees this patient getting help. That may mean that the lie is going to be exposed. How will brother 1 (Dale) cover up things he has done (and there was plenty). Without the patient to trash, the family must look in the mirror. They do not want this. So they subconsciously try to direct the patient back to the sick role. The identified patient.

This patient getting better will throw everything off, he was starting to speak up. He was not afraid to tell the truth, like back when they were kids again. Like when the patient was saying the funeral was phony. As the patient put it, they never saw the grandmother. Maybe one time in 15 years. Now she was dead and everyone was acting sad. The patient could not understands the phoniness. So again he acted out.

Again, he is the bad guy.

Families do not do this on purpose. But everyone deep down knows the truth. Yet they are not strong enough to get help. Forgive them father, they know not what they do.

The scapegoated patient is lucky in a way. He gets to go to therapy, to treatment, and to hospitals. These patients often do so well in treatment, and then relapse and we wonder why.

Well you have helped the most sensitive person. Then you send them back to the same dysfunctional system.

How many times do families refuse to participate in the treatment? I would say about 80 to 90 percent. The excuse is often that it is not them that is the problem, it’s not their issue. That is more proof we are going to have a relapse. A relapse of acting out.

Mental health and addiction are systems diseases, you help one part of the system, usually the strongest part. Then send them back to the system. Until we start calling it a family disease and treating the system, it will not get better. The patient either has to leave the system, or the whole system has to change without help the way we do it now.

The scapegoated patient in this case was getting better and telling everyone that he is not a bad person after all, thinking everyone will embrace him and say they are sorry. Well that threatens the whole community lie. If they are out of character, it forces everyone to change.

So the family will try to make the patient take the sick role back. They usually will. It is a way to be accepted by the dysfunctional system. Be the sick one, or leave. People are afraid of taking that leap to something unknown. They would rather stay in known dysfunction, than leave to the unknown. They are scared of the world. We must remember that. This is why support systems are so important.

The patients are lucky if the family has money to get help. Otherwise these patents end up in prisons or hospitals or homeless. Most will see the homeless, drug addicted, and those with mental health issues and see trouble.

I see the most amazing, sensitive people we have on this earth. I see future awakened and enlightened souls. I see beauty and pain, but potential.

I love when someone gets to the point that they either want to or have to get help. Because I feel like it is another scapegoated modern day leper about to awaken to the truth they have always known. It is a thing of beauty.

This brother 1 (Dale) has the anger, the shame, and the same old issues he has always had.  With no one to blame, he has gone into isolation. He has some serious issues that were never and still have not been dealt with. I hope he finds peace.

He still reaches out to Brother 1 (Dale) from time to time. But he let’s go after that.

Brother 2 (Larry) saw past this patients mask his whole life. Brother 2 (Larry) saw the true person. He was the younger brother. Scared, but as you can see from the email, since he saw the true self of the patient, the patient had always shown this brother his true self. He did things like being there for him when he needed something, helping him when no one was looking. Teaching him. Talking to him about life. But you have an unskilled, wounded young animal trying to guide a younger child. Disaster awaits.

This scapegoated patient saw his younger brother, and knew that brother 2 (Larry) was vulnerable. He was very sensitive. So the patient was able to be his true self with his younger brother and show him love. The patient felt safe. But the patient only did this when no one else was around. Otherwise he put on the mask.

The patient was actually very mean to brother number 2 (Larry). When others were around and watching, the patient was abusive. Emotionally and physicality to brother 2 (Larry). The patient was cruel and he embarrassed brother 2 (Larry), and humiliated him. The patient was so insecure that he did that to feel better about himself. Although it always worked opposite.

There are many reasons the patient did this to brother 2 (Larry). One of them was when people were around, the patient didn’t want everyone to see his true self. The other was this younger brother was so kind and saw his older brother as this great guy while everyone else saw a monster.

This scared the patient. He tried so hard to push the little brother away. He had to show brother 2 (Larry) that he was this jerk. But be couldn’t do it. The little guy kept seeing the greatness. So slowly, the greatness started to come out.

This younger brother talks in his email of the older brother teaching him so much. But in reality, it was the younger brother doing the teaching. Teaching him it’s ok to be loving, and caring, and sensitive. To help others. He kept the true self of this patient alive.

When the other kids would all get together and decide to blame something on the scapegoated patient, they would offer to pay the younger brother to go along with the lie.

He would refuse. Even though this caused him great isolation. The scapegoated patient was at this point gone a lot, with his “loser” friends gambling or drugs or crimes.

So the younger brother was maybe the bravest person you could ever meet. Even as a young kid. But many adults will do that, but a child?

He taught the patient. Kept his hope alive.

So that’s why the emails are so different. They saw two different people.  But it was because of how they interacted.

One of the most astonishing parts of this to me was the younger brother was the one abused more than anyone. Yet he’s the one that loved the most and helped this patient the most. A child shall lead them.

However, people that live like Brother 1 (Dale, ) get desperate when they feel a lifelong lie is going to be exposed. They have so much fear, and that’s what I see in brother 1 (Dale) and his email. What I see is fear.

It is too bad because being exposed is the best thing that can happen to you. Then you heal by killing the false self. That’s why the scapegoat is lucky. It is always a great moment when I hear someone come out of the closet. It is a moment. A very special moment where they say I am going to be myself.

Brother 2 (Larry) is now a LADC, in recovery himself.  He is on his way to becoming a counselor as well.

Of course he became addicted. He was isolated, alone, and attacked by his idol. He spent his childhood scared and all alone. So of course he became a fearful and depressed person. He had learned to hide his loving caring self as well.

The patient did serious damage to his younger brother, as hurt people hurt people.

So they got older and would get drunk together and talk about life and love and be their true selves together, that is the basis of all of this pain.

Now they are in recovery together.

This was the story. This true story.

I was there. This is my story. I was the patient.

I remember when I was 14 years old playing a football game with my uncle from Detroit. We all thought he was the coolest guy. We didn’t see him much. But he was cool. He came back after football and told my mom how surprised he was at how well behaved I was. I heard it, I heard a lot, but that is all that needs to be said.

They were so proud of me. But my heart broke in half that day. I realized that everyone hated me, and I didn’t know why, because all I did was love everyone in my head, I didn’t know how to show it. Or let it out.

I didn’t even know I was being so good. I was just being myself, I was relaxed and my uncle was nice to me, I had never really spent that much time with him so I was heartbroken to hear that he thought I was awful. I looked up to him. That was when I realized I had a mask on.

Then I tried to kill myself. I knew I had to kill myself, but didn’t realize I only needed to kill my false self. So I tried to end my life. My brother 2 (Larry) this young soft loving kid, wrote me this handwritten letter telling me how much he loved me and wanted me alive.

To me, someone who just realized they were a monster and was locked up, that was something that put my heart back together. I wouldn’t be here without any of that.

This is why the mask is important to me, and I know anyone can step in at any moment and change the world. This was just the beginning of my story. Please, spread love. Everywhere you go.

Did I do all those things? Throw pee, steal cars, and trash the house? Yes. I did not graduate, I robbed houses. All of it and more is true. I was chasing love and acceptance. I did terrible things. Terrible. I now have worked at these institutions as a supervisor and staff for over 20 years. On the other side of the desk.

The comeback was made because of love.

I was my brother’s first patient.

Thank you Larry. You deserved better. I was only a kid, and I did the best that I could.

I am sorry with everything I have got.

I love you.

You are my teacher, and my hero.

“Being friends with someone who is depressed is one of the most difficult, yet kindest acts someone can do.” -Larry Pfeffer

To be continued……

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“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

I walk into the jail. It is my first day as the new supervisor of the medical unit. What a great opportunity to change things with this job. I did not know why they hired me to do this job. I had at the time 10-12 years working in psychiatry and this was a jail, which is mostly medical I thought.

I was there for a few minutes, and met the staff members. Right away there is a behavior code called and we are to rush to the cell to see what it is. I follow along and watch. We get to the cell and there is where I would first meet Anastasia. She was a 21 year old Russian female. She was cutting herself with an object she had stolen.

“Anastasia, give us the scissors NOW!” screamed the guard.

“No, you guys don’t care. No one does, I want to die anyways.”

She continues to cut and the guards with the riot gear on jump on her all at once and put her down. She is screaming and screaming and crying, “get off of me, get off of me, I will give it to you.”

“Too late for that!” Scream the guards and the nurses.

They bring her into the medical unit and she is checked out by one of the nurses. The nurse, as she goes over to check Anastasia’s blood pressure and her wound is furious. It is obvious. She came into work, and she was just getting her coffee started, listening to her music, and catching up on the gossip of the day. She rolls her eyes as she walks shaking her head towards Anastasia.

Anastasia is sad and crying and asks the nurse, “Are you mad at me now.”

The nurse replies, “Well why do you keep doing this?”

This would be typical of what I would see in my time at the jail. I heard many of the staff say things like, “They get free care and I do not.” Or “They are taking our tax dollars every time we have to call the ambulance.”

I watched my boss come in and yell at an inmate who was going through withdrawal. “Shut up!! You are annoying! Just shut up and leave us alone.” He had paperwork to do and she was interrupting him.

What would happen when an inmate made a self-harm gesture as Anastasia did is that we would place them on intense observations. Meaning they had to come in to talk to someone at least once per day and we would have a series of questions to ask them to gauge how they are doing. Then we would decide if it was to continue. Great idea I thought, this will be fun.

However, I soon realized that no one really wanted to do this, and no one really made any effort when doing it. However, you are less likely to help someone if you have it in your head that they are just a bad person instead of taking the time to get to know them.

“She just wants attention.” “She is a manipulator, a baby and playing games. Now we have to do all this paperwork.” These were things some of the staff would say.

I began to see why they hired me. By diagnosis, about 75% of the jail inmates had mental illness. But I can tell you from my lifetime of experience, it was 100%. That is not an exaggeration. This is now where we are housing our Mentally Ill. In jails. Across the country and this was my first taste of it personally. It costs 1,000 dollars to send a patient to CD treatment or to Mental Health treatment per day, whereas the jail only costs about 100 dollars.

Every single inmate that I encountered would have benefited from mental health or CD treatment. The charts are all similar. Abuse and neglect as a child. Then drugs, alcohol, cutting, gambling, some sort of escape. Then fights, crimes, and then jail. Then back in jail, again and again and again.

We have this high recidivism rate and we wonder why? The reason is the system. We don’t treat the underlying conditions, and we punish the result of the condition. That would be like punishing someone for having a heart attack, but not telling them about the heart disease or helping them with diet modifications and lifestyle changes. Then when they have another heart attack, we punish them again and say “they just do not get it.”

We are the most incarcerating society in the history of mankind. We have private prisons that make money of people being jailed. We have people who lobby congress to make tougher laws so we can lock up more people and everyone makes more money. Most of these people that are locked up are mentally ill.

So we are taking those that were abused and traumatized, and we are not treating them. We are locking them back up, and making money off of it.

So how did Anastasia get here, and how do we solve this issue of locking up the mentally ill?

You see the picture at the top. That is a Russian orphanage. That is where Anastasia spent the first 4 years of her life. In a crib, with no human touch or affection. Fighting for food. Forming no bonds with anyone.

“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much like smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”

There was also a study done using monkeys regarding early bonding and its significance and how it affects our future development. It showed that lack of early maternal interaction, and early adversity in life, as well as lack of bonding significantly increases your chances of developing addictions and mental health issues, and behavioral issues later in life. Here is the full study if you want to read it.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3161556/

So, in Anastasia’s case, she was in an orphanage the first 4 years of her life. Which altered her brain development significantly. Russian orphanages are well known for their lack of resources, neglect, and abuse of the children. Some have been shut down. There are many awful images that can be seen online and article about it.

She then was adopted by her American adopted parents. They were excited to bring home this child, to be helping out the less fortunate. However, as in many cases with these adoptions from Russia or other countries, they did not get what they thought they were getting. They were not equipped to handle this young girl.

She was 4. 4 years old. Imagine a 4 year old. They are exploring life, starting to gain independence, asserting themselves. Many studies state that the personality is almost fully developed by age 3, some say by age 6. No one argues that it is fully developed very early on.

So now imagine a 4 year old sitting in a crib most of the day with no one to bond with or hold, no one to love her, or care for her. No one to ask questions to. No one to smile at or to play with. How is that fair that when she gets older we expect her to just have somehow magically “figured it out.”

She gets home and she is not a typical 4 year old. She screams, she throws fits, and she yells, hits, and kicks. She has no idea where she is or what is going on and she is scared and does not trust the world, nor should she.

Her adoptive parents were sold on the idea of bringing this kid to America and giving her a better life. They were not ready for this.

So, by around age 5 or 6, Anastasia’s new mom is holding her down, locking her in her room, and making her stay outside. Almost hiding her from the world. She is once again punished when she has emotions, or feeling. If you scream and feel, you are hit, held down, or locked outside. That was the message that was being sent to Anastasia. What this teaches the developing brain is that when you are feeling something, you deal with it by inflicting pain. It is how her young brain was molded over and over again.

When a child is abused like this over time, the hippocampus sometimes shuts down, that is the part of the brain that involves memory of events. However, there is also proof that the chemical reactions in a child’s brain at this time are similar to that of heroin withdrawal. So what I am trying to say is imagine a child going through this much pain over and over, and getting this sick over it. No one is explaining any of this to her. She doesn’t understand why she is dying inside. Then the memory part of the brain shuts down almost so she doesn’t have to remember all of the events. I would ask her all the time about the orphanage, she didn’t remember. But I read the chart. So I knew, but she didn’t. It is probably best that she didn’t.

So we see these children as adults and we say, “Well only half of them were traumatized.” I am certain that is false, you still see the behavior, because the body remembers. The brain does not always remember the things that happened. But the body does.

Just like an alcoholic or drug addict learns to use the substance when emotions come up. Someone who self-harms usually has learned at an early age that when emotions come up, you inflict pain and punishment. Then it goes away and the surge of dopamine happens much like it does in an addict. However, the feelings stay inside. They are never released. So now, this temporary relief has actually made things worse. Now there is shame over the self-harm, and the original emotions stay. Now you have someone with all these emotions bottled up. Eventually it’s going to explode.
Anastasia began cutting herself at age 7. I asked her how this started. She said “It just made the pain go away, when my mom would hit me, I would not be sad about whatever I was sad about anymore.”

She was eventually sent to groups homes. Her first one was at age 11. She would cut and self-harm. She has scars all up and down her arms.

She has tried to walk into traffic, and she had tried to overdose. She has tried to stab herself with a knife.

Her life has been this. Placement after placement, event after event.

Now in the jail, the staff when she is not around state that she is “attention seeking” and “manipulating” and “playing games.”

They are not motivated to help heal her because they believe in their head that it is made up. I think she does want attention, because she has never gotten it. What you think of someone in your head affects the way you treat them.

Some of the oppressors of the mentally ill and addicted walk around like they are superior, like they did something to have this privilege. Like it was earned. They were born on 3rd base and act like they hit a triple.

I learned all of this about her life as I talked to her, and confirmed it by reading her chart. I would get my eyes rolled at by the staff and guards, and told “You spend too much time with the inmates.” and “You are causing issues because now they expect everyone to spend time with them.”

However, some agreed with me. That’s another thing I learned, there is usually a silent majority that agrees with being kind to people. Everyone has this at their core. They are more willing to do this if they have a partner in doing this. So by acting out of love, you usually bring out the others that have been fearful to do things different.

The oppressors of the mentally ill and addicted take someone abused, who never had near what they had, and lock them up. Then they punish them and do not treat them. However, they continue to make laws and laws to punish and punish. Prison is a big business here. We have people making 100,000 a year. In their minds, they need to keep making that money, and more if they can. They do this at the expense of the mentally ill and traumatized and addicted.

The oppressors say, “They do not want to get better, they keep coming back.”

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

When Anastasia was 18. She was in an adult foster care program. She had a staff member that was very strict and had this attitude like the staff at the jail. She felt Anastasia’s behavior was purposeful and deliberate. She ordered Anastasia around. She bossed her around, she had power and abused it, much like the jail staff.

How did this staff member grow up? She was told she was a princess and got everything she wanted. She was told she was special. She was told she deserved all that she had. She was a victim of all of us also. She was also told lies as a child. She ran her house since she was little. She was abused in another way. We create this, our society creates this. We are all co responsible for the staff, and for Anastasia.

How is it all of our faults, some say to me. Silence is consent, if we say nothing and do nothing, we are consenting to it. Some live in excess, and as a whole, we have a lot that we do not need. We spend billions per year on Christmas, and the super bowl alone costs billions of dollars. We as a country and society have all this money. We see the suffering in the other parts of the world and we do nothing. We say we can’t change things. We are only one person. So we sit on our couches, and we watch TV and we over consume. We pay entertainers billions of dollars. We are using up all the resources.

We are acting like a virus. Viruses attach on to the host. Viruses eat, multiply, and use up the hosts resources, then move on.

There are people suffering all over the world. They are the future Anastasias. Or worse. We can prevent the next school shooting, or the next serial killer. We are capable of this.

We also see the spoiled little girl and think it is “cute.” We watch the shows that encourage this, we show children by our actions. We consume and teach young girls what beauty is, by how you look. You have to be skinny, you have to look a certain way. You have to act a certain way. Very rarely do I see someone just accepting their young daughter for who they are.

The young spoiled staff members are victims of the lies as well. We all see it, but do we do anything? NO.

It’s hard, I do it. I try my hardest not to and I am getting better at it. But it is all over and it is hard not to become a part of it. You have to be aware. I am not always, it is a process.

We sit and wait for people to come along and change all of this.

But, what if we are the ones we have been waiting for? What if you do something each day, and someone sees it and it continues. The effect of one kind act or word is much larger than you can ever imagine.

So yes, you are only one person, but you can change the world if you want to.

Anastasia was hurting one day, and having intense emotions. So she left to the store. She came back late and was yelled at by this staff member. She told Anastasia she cannot eat supper. The staff was mad that Anastasia was not following “the rules” which really were “her rules.” She did not like Anastasia doing her own thing and going off. This was not the first time Anastasia has disobeyed her. No one had ever challenged her. These 2 people and their generations of pain collided on this day.

Anastasia was doing poorly on this day. She had bought a knife. She pulled it out. She was going to hurt herself. The staff member was scared, this was not how it was supposed to go.

The staff called the cops and they surrounded the house. They broke in and arrested Anastasia because they had to evacuate the house. The staff was angry, and said she felt threatened. That was enough for felony terroristic threats.

What happened was they then officially charged Anastasia for felony terroristic threats. She did not know what to do, Anastasia had a public defender that was overwhelmed with cases so he got her to plead guilty. No one really advocated for her. You have this young, law abiding staff member that was scared and this brutal criminal that tried to hurt her. Lock her up. That was the perception.

So now Anastasia is at jail. A felony terroristic threat. She was getting punished more in jail. She was not getting any treatment. She was continually shamed by staff. She never had visitors. She was now a mentally ill person in a jail. This is how it happens. This is just one story, but there are many like it that result with mentally ill being in prisons all over.

What will they think 100 years from now about us? I hear people of this generation always say, “I can’t believe they had slaves,” and “I can’t believe they didn’t let women vote and men just did what they wanted to their wives.”

What do you think this says about us? We take people who were abused, and traumatized. We charge them with crimes and lock them up. For money. We do not treat them either. We make money off of it. We are taking sick people and locking them up, we are the most incarcerating society in the history of mankind. Most of which are mentally ill and have been traumatized and we do not treat them. We can fix it, we choose not to.

Anastasia and I talked daily. I read her chart, got her records, and got to know her. She was a kind, loving caring young lady that never had a chance. Now she was not perfect, as none of us are. I still heard the talk from staff and guards, “She just wants attention, game player, and attention seeker.”

So, at times she was afraid to report symptoms because she was convinced that she “made things up for attention.” That’s what she was told her whole life.

One day, during clinic, she passed out in the hallway. A medical code was called. They all rolled eyes and said “Anastasia again.” She would say she was ill at times to get an opportunity to talk was the perception of many.

We went down to the code, but this time she wouldn’t wake up. If she was faking it, it sure was a good job. We called 911. She went in.

She was in the hospital for a few days. She would have to go back and get tests done.

It turns out she had developed cancer that had spread all over her body.

She was not going to make it. She was going to die.

She was placed in the hospital ward for end of life care. At age 22.

Everyone was surprised by how she handled the news that she was going to die in 6 months. She said to me, “I hope my dad visits me now.”

I lost it. I lose it again now writing this. I cry every time I think about this moment.

That’s all she wanted was a visitor.

She came into the hospital ward as we had to monitor her hourly now.

What I saw from everyone was their humanity. Everyone was truly sad over this. They started to see her every single hour on the hour as they had to, due to her illness. Since she was now in the ward right next to us. So the staff were almost “forced” to interact with her and get to know her.

They got to know the true Anastasia. They treated her so gently and kindly. Everyone was laughing with her.

Everyone got to know her quirks. They got to know who she was. Because of this, they all knew when there was a change in her behavior, so they knew when she needed attention. They knew her so well they could see when she needed extra when she needed time alone.

They knew her favorite foods. Some would sneak her in treats and pop and everyone was breaking the rules for this kid. Some of those that were the roughest on her were truly the ones with the softest hearts.

I saw so much beauty in this such painful moment. Everyone had their masks off.

Why does it take this for it to happen? Why did this kid have to die for people to see her for who she was?

They were forced to get to know her. It was amazing.

At one point during all of this, I sat down at the desk next to the oldest meanest nurse in the building (my false perception.)

Her name was Dorothy. I just started small talk. Her head was down, she was shaking. I said “what is it?”

I looked in her eyes, now this was probably the toughest woman I’ve ever met. Smart and rough and tough. You know, old school. She was crying.

She said “you know it just hurts. I lost my daughter at age 21 to a drug overdose and I see a lot of her in Anastasia. I was mad Anastasia was wasting her life and going to kill herself like my daughter.”

I never would have guessed that is where all her anger towards Anastasia came from. Everyone has things that lead them to be who they are, give them their beliefs, and things that dictate their behaviors.

Which is why we all are co responsible for each other.

When Anastasia died, she died with all the nurses and guards around her crying. Everyone came in on their days off to say goodbye. She finally had her family. It was us.

I sat next to her as she passed away. She had this huge smile on her face.

I said “What the heck are you smiling for?” That was our relationship. We teased a lot and goofed off. Even as she was going away.

She put her hand out, she held my hand gently, which was very unlike her. She looked at me dead in the eyes and said. “This was the best 6 months of my life.”

She finally got treated the way she should have been her whole life.

She finally got what she always wanted, and what she never had gotten.

Love.

Anastasia means resurrection.