HELPING THE HUNGRY GHOST

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“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Hopeless. Given up, throwing in the towel. This is pointless and I cannot do this anymore. This is a feeling we all have at times. I remember a time when I was working at a rehabilitation facility. I was sitting in a staff meeting and it all boiled over. I screamed at all the staff, “What is the point of this, what are we even doing for these patients! We just take their money, give them 80 dollars a month, and do not help anyone! This is a complete fraud. We write notes so we get paid, not because we care!” “Someone tell me what we have done for Bill!” No one answered. “See we do not help anyone, this is a complete joke and it is wrong.”

The looks on everyone’s faces said it all. It was a small room packed with many people as we had the projector on as we were required to go through all the patients. Some had agreement on their faces. Others disappointment, but mostly shock. People had their heads down. It looked like shame. No one said a thing and after this went on for 10 minutes I walked out in disgust. I went to my office upstairs and closed the door in complete defeat. It was over. I am done.

After years of working in the field of psychiatry and addiction. I had quit internally. I watched over and over as patients would come in and leave. They would come back. No one seemed to be getting any better. We made money either way. We were told to write notes, because that way we could get paid money for that day. It was all about money and filling beds. We had to fill the beds.

At times, it did not seem like the patients cared at all. They had a place to stay for a few months while they attempted to get into new places. The social workers in the community did not care, because they just wanted a place for their patients to be so they did not have to worry about them. The hospitals did not care, they discharged people to us because they needed placement. Hospitals did not care about how a patient was doing, they only cared if the patient had a place to go.

I watched the other staff. They came in and sat in their offices, basically the walking dead. They sit in the offices and stare at the computer, and in the 5 minutes that the patient wanted to talk, they would blow the patients off. They would come to work, goof-off at times, but basically dead on the inside. It was like zombies walking all over the place in a dark dreary place. They would talk about how this whole system is a fraud, how we are making money, patients do not want to be here, the staff themselves do not want to be there. I would listen to this, and then as it got in my head, I would look and that is what I would see.

I gave up. My whole life was a fraud. It was a scheme and what I had lived for, my passion, was now exposed as a complete fraud. It was painful, and defeating.

We had a patient at this time and his name was “Bill.” Well, “Bill” came to us, he would not even talk. He would not eat because he thought food was poisoned. The man was about 90 pounds. Can you imagine thinking your food was poisoned? How scary that must be. He would go into the bathroom and spit until he had no saliva because he thought we were trying to kill him. He would hold his bladder because he feared going to the bathroom. He had a look of fear in his eyes, he was scared of everyone and everything. Then we had to force him to take medications. In his mind, he was at a place that was trying to kill him, poison his food and kill him. He then is told he has to take medication that makes him sick, tired, and shaky. Then he is told he has to take it and is locked up if he refuses. Imagine that as your reality for a moment. He would not even sleep. It was torture I am sure. It was heartbreaking. He had no family to come visit, he would never come to groups, and he would never participate. No one really cared. We got his money every month, we wrote a note on him every day and got paid. He had a place to stay. His social worker figured he was ok and would work on a new placement for him. But treatment? How was he getting any treatment? Staff did not care, they got through their shift. I did not care anymore, this was the blow that was ending it all for me. It is official, this is a fraud and I cannot help anyone or anything. I give up.

Then the staff meeting I described above in which I let loose on everyone. I blew up and it all came out in an angry speech in front of all staff at the meeting.

As I sat in my office with my heart pounding and my heart racing and emotions all over the place. I hear a knock on the door. I say “come in.”

It was Lonny. Lonny was the business manager of the place. He was the one that collected the money and paid the bills. He was a kind and direct man. I always wondered how he could take money from these people who had nothing. He did it every day, which was his job. He was not a bad man, he was a good man. He had a difficult job. He did not speak often, but when he did, it was important and meaningful.

So my thought as he walks in is “Oh my god he is going to give me a lecture about this, but I do not care I am quitting anyways.”

He said, “Can I sit down.”

I said “sure.”

He said to me, “I was thinking about what you said. What have we done for Bill? What are we even doing? And I think I have an answer for you.”

I said, “Ok.” I was thinking, “I cannot wait to hear this one.”

He said, “Well maybe if we do well, Bill will have a place that he can go back to some time in his life and say, you know the world is a scary place, but there is a place that I was at for 90 days that was not so scary. People were nice to me, they took care of me and listened to me. So maybe the whole world is not so bad. Maybe we can plant seeds in his mind that he will use later.”

I said “How do we get to that, he will not even talk. He is scared and no one cares.”

He responded. “Start by saying hi every day. Smile at him. Regardless of his response. Let’s just start with hello.”

This conversation changed my life. I am rarely speechless, but this was one of those times. My mind went blank. It was all still. All the emotions were gone and my mind was blank. It was like once again in my life when I could not take anymore. I was delivered a message to continue and to go on. I was given a spark of hope and a different way of thinking from a most unlikely source.

Every moment in life can teach us lessons, and every person is a possible teacher. If we are not fully present in each moment, we miss out on the lesson. IF we have preconceived notions about others, we miss the lesson. If we are elsewhere in our mind, we miss the moment. If we miss the moment, we mess with the future. Every moment builds on the next, which is how the future is built. Moment after moment.

I never thought this man had this life changing lesson for me. When I was broke, defeated, and had given up on my life’s passion. The man who pulled me up was Lonny.

I started to listen to this advice. I said hi. Nothing at first. For a couple weeks. Hi how are you doing? Then one day, it happened. “Bill” looked up at me, and said hi. Then he smiled. Then he would say he is “doing fine.”

I watched him start to talk to other people as well. Others would talk to him and be good to him. Now the same staff that were zombies were still being zombies. But my mind was not focused on them anymore. It was focused on the 2 or 3 staff that were trying every day to make a difference in each moment that they had. These were the people that I was not noticing before, because my inner turmoil did not want to see it. Now I saw it.

One staff. Her name was “Rochelle,” would give everything she had to each patient and in each moment. If they wanted to walk, she would go for a walk, they were the most important people to her in that moment. She also heard all the negativity, however it did not disturb her. I was in awe of how she did this. Maybe it did bother her, but it did not seem like it. For each patient, the moment they were with her, they were the most important person in the world. How had I not noticed this before?

“Bill” eventually got better. I mean not completely. He shaved his head, he was smiling and talking to us about his life. He actually was eating. He would still eat as fast as possible and cover it up, but he would eat. He was no longer afraid of the bathroom. It was amazing.

I go back to Lonny’s words often. Planting seeds. Sometimes we just need to do the best we can do and let go of the results. Sometimes we won’t see the results. Sometimes the results we see for other people will not be what we want for the other person, but it is not about us. It is about them. It may be that they got the result that they wanted. We cannot define another person’s success by our expectations and standards. What is their goal, and how can we help them. Do they even want help? We are like the passenger with a road map that points out things. They are the driver, it is their journey. Sometimes all we can do is make someone feel safe, or plant seeds. Or make them feel like the most important person in the world for that moment.

I thought for a long time that I planted seeds in “Bill.” Maybe I did. I let go of the results because I did the best I could.

What I know happened is that “Bill” planted seeds in me. So did Lonny. Thank you Lonny.

I thought I was the gardener, however I was the flower.

Or maybe, I was both. Maybe we all are both at all time.

The end.

Wanted: Superhero for my Children!

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“The hero, it might be said, is called into being when perception of a need and the recognition of responsibility toward it are backed up by the will to act.” – Mike Alsford

Twelve-Years-Old; Here I am screaming, hitting, kicking, and throwing anything within eyesight. Filled with rage, I only hear the echoes of laughter from my amused audience of family members and a handful of neighborhood kids. It was a show to them, their entertainment for the evening, all while I am crying inside.

“He can not hurt you,” they cackled to each other.

Then the yelling and screaming turned to tears. That was the real pain, I was a hurt and confused teenager and expressing it the only way I knew; with anger and rage. More chatter and laughter from the enthralled crowd intensified my inner torture. While this was outwardly conveyed with more violence and destruction, I am slowly dying on the inside, scared, and lost.

I grabbed a baseball bat. It stopped being funny.

One person in that room saved me from killing myself, or perhaps others in that room. I’ll share exactly how this all transpired at the end of this article.

First, I want to tell you about the story of two boys. The story begins when they are around 7-8 years old. We will call them “Boy A” and “Boy B,” for simplicity.

“Boy A” awakes in the middle of the night with typical late-night hunger and heads to the kitchen to make a sandwich and accidentally cuts his finger on the knife. Scared, he rushes into his father’s room to cry and tell him something is wrong. The father responds by hitting him and telling him that he is, “too fat anyway,” followed by a couple more smacks to the face.

In childhood, we are trying to figure out if the world is safe or unsafe and it is our primary caregivers that give us this message. The message being received is, “you are a bad person, you are overweight, don’t come to me with your problems.” As these regular beatings continue, the neurological pathways are put into place in the developing brain reaffirming his perception of himself and the world. He fears the world, he is not allowed to cry or show emotions, and express how he feels. Everything is stored deep within his subconscious, but he has been trained that it is not OK to be himself.

His mask has been created.

Now, there is “Boy B,” at age 7-8 his father comes home and tosses around the football with him. He teaches him about football as well as life lessons associated with the game; such as being a part of a team, work ethic, discipline, sacrifice, fighting through pain, perseverance, and commitment. His mother offers warmth, kindness, compassion, along with unconditional love and support.

Encouraged to do well in school, treat others with respect, and do the right thing, “Boy B” receives positive reinforcement. He trusts the world, believes in himself, and his life is filled with meaning, purpose, and hope.

Back to “Boy A,” his father decides to get re-married and his new wife wants to start a family of her own. To her, “Boy A” is a reminder of this man’s past life and interrupts with her vision of a happy family. She takes it out on him by abusing him with electrical cords and whipping him with curling irons.

The same message comes around again, “I am a bad person, a jerk, and I am no good. I am getting in the way again.”

Already engrained in his mind and belief system, the same thing comes up again and only deepens his self-perception. During adolescents is when our personality is created as these neurological pathways are created, strengthened, or dropped altogether based on experiences and reactions. The teenager also acts first on emotion rather than on analytical thinking or rationale (due to the natural evolution of the brain) which naturally means more “acting out.” When “Boy A” acts out, everyone’s perception of he being a bad person or jerk is vindicated. Including his own perception of himself.

At the same time, “Boy B” is excelling in school while his parents are putting in extra time communicating with teachers and coaches to ensure their son is growing from child to an adult. The teachers see that they are involved and care about their son, and in turn, spend additional time with their child making sure he is successful. He is applauded for his extra efforts, given awards, and is generally liked by most people. He is free to explore the world on his own, views the world as a safe place, and optimistic about the future. Whenever he is in need, his family is there for him for any advice, assistance, or general support.

And, “Boy B” happens to be naturally gifted in athletics. Along with his revered genetics, he has been raised to work hard, study, and strive for greatness. As he gets older, he begins to receive specialized instruction from the finest coaches around the country. And while he has a burning passion for football and for success, if all fails in college he still has a loving family and community that will forever be supportive.

 

“Boy A” is now growing up with the negative labels connected to his name and any good act is ignored. Like the Hell’s Angles motto, “When we do right nobody remembers, when we do wrong nobody forgets.” Only seeking acceptance he acts goofy, outrageous, and spontaneous. This is the only thing that gets attention, and any type of attention is good for him. A beating is better than nothing at all.

He misses school and gets in different kinds of trouble. As the struggles progress, he becomes more scared, hurt, and alone with nowhere to turn. His father’s disgust for him hasn’t faded, if anything, has intensified. His father destroys gifts the child receives from his biological mother, not allowed to see his mother and is beaten and left outside the house all day on a nearly daily basis.

In school, he has no support. He is in fights, disrupting class, failing grades and the teachers only see a lost cause. Still seeking acceptance, he willingly puts on any mask for approval – the clown, rebel, etc. Anything that grants him the love that every person deserves, the love that he was cheated out of during his childhood.

Looking at the two stories of “Boy A” and “Boy B,” as adults they are souls from two different worlds. People who have been through abuse are living an entirely different reality, how are they supposed to just wake up one day and “just get it?”

This is why we need to look behind the mask.

The adult survivor of child abuse has altered brain chemistry. Early childhood development begins with the primitive structures of the brain known as the limbic system. This deals with emotional learning and survival. Our body has a natural hormone, Cortisol, which is sometimes called the “stress hormone” as it is released to help our body regulate stress. In childhood abuse, the system becomes altered as the child is under chronic stress which constantly sends cortisol throughout the brain and body. At this time, the brain is rapidly developing and the child is dependent on their caregiver for protection – which has significant long-term impacts on these primitive systems. And then as he ages into adolescence and young adulthood, these constant reminders that he is a “bad person” strengthens these already disrupted pathways.

Back to the stories, “Boy B” has graduated high school with honors, receives a football scholarship and has support from friends, family, and his community. He is well-prepared with education, specialized training, financially, and ongoing support and guidance. He succeeds again at the highest level of college football and is dubbed a “real life superhero!” He is strong, athletic, intelligent, handsome, and he pretty good at throwing a football and has a real possibility of becoming a professional athlete.

We call professional athletes, “real life superheroes.” I see it on a daily basis. In fact, just the other night Don Cheadle’s exact words on the Thursday Night Football telecast were, “these guys are real life superheroes.”

Then I watch my son put on his power rangers costume and he hits and punches. From day one we are told there are “good guys” and “bad guys.” We teach them that it is OK for the “good guy” superheroes to punch bad guys. We think it is cute. To me, it has been disturbing to see him enamored with these shows and then fired up to “get the bad guys and punch them.”

So I can bash the system which does no good or I can try to focus on the future. Which is what I am trying to do is to teach him about real life superheroes.

Back to “Boy A.” He escapes the abuse by finding a job and secretly saving money. Once he has enough he drives four hours to his Aunt’s house, which happens to be my home as well. He is confused, lost, lacks acceptance or any belief in himself. He has had a “bad guy” mask tattooed on his skull and has grown to believe that it is true.

Our house is crowded with five children, extended family, neighborhood kids, along with a number of chaotic pets. In the basement lives a 13-year-old child that is incredibly shy, but also remarkably intelligent. This is my older brother, he has basically withdrawn from the world at this point and is also scared and lost.

Then there is a 12-year-old boy who is angry, acting out, constantly in serious trouble, and recently expelled from school – this is me. Then there was another boy, much younger, and painfully terrified of the world, but also very loving – this is my younger brother.

And, now enters “Boy A” into this home. It is a frightening situation to the outsiders in fear that he is going to destroy this home and these kids. They don’t need a “Boy A,” they need a “Boy B.” A Super Hero!

Meanwhile, “Boy B” is excelling in the classroom and setting records on the football field. His fun-loving, down-to-earth, good-humored personality makes him loved my just about anyone who encounters him. He is a good man with true humility. He is not a bad person, we do not get to choose our family and whether or not we receive love and affection – he should not be hated for that. He is an amazing man and is an exceptional role model.

Right now, his biggest concern is where is he going to fall in the NFL Draft? What kind of offense do they run? Will he be able to start right away? Again, to him, these are true worries that create anxiety. It is not his fault, it is just his reality. But in terms of real-life trauma, trials and tribulations, tests of strength, willpower, or character are not likely as significant or battle-tested as “Boy A.”

“Boy B,” could be one of many quarterbacks we see each Sunday, such as Peyton Manning. Great man, good heart, hard-working, and humble. One of the best in the world in the history of his given profession – NFL Quarterback. He is often labeled, “A Hero.” In fact, quite frequently.

In researching a few different studies over the years, athletes and celebrities usually top the list of people we consider “heroes.” Currently, LeBron James tops the lists of a survey of 2,500 people age 16-35. From everything that I have read, seen, and heard, LeBron James seems like a wonderful person with an inspirational story. But a hero?

So, who is “Boy A?” This is my cousin, known to me as Little Jon, although his birth certificate reads Jon Kosiak. He enters this home, goes downstairs to the withdrawn teenager and shows him love and acceptance. He authentically cares about him, spends time with him, listens to his thoughts and interests, and gives him genuine love. He brings him out of his withdrawn sense, talks to him openly and honestly about things, and takes interest in his life. He teaches him not to be afraid of anything and befriends the kid who had all but given up on the world.

By the end of the four years that “Boy A” lived in our home, the withdrawn child is now brave and strong. He goes on to earn a master’s degree, has a family with three children and living an excellent life. He is smart, a good man, and an amazing father. At a moment in his life when he was in greatest need, Little Jon was able to recognize that and willing to act upon it. Not because he felt obliged to do so, but because he wanted to do so. And not because it was difficult, but because it was natural. Little Jon showed him not to fear the world, to love himself, and rise above.

And the younger, scared child is no longer scared. He ends up excelling at sports, receiving scholarships, and now works as a counselor. This is my younger brother. He has been transformed from a terrified child to a fearless leader. He is strong and smart, and at a time in which he needed to toughen up and face the world – Little Jon saw the perceived need, recognized it, and was willing to act.

“Boy B”, Peyton Manning, well he went on to the NFL and is called a “superhero.” He is idolized, loved, adored, and celebrated by people around the globe. He is a great man, with a unique sense of humor, oh and he can throw a football pretty well. But superhero? No.

However, I believe that Little Jon does fit that label. He spent four years in our home and molded us into better people. He was our hero.

And as for myself, well I was the angry little boy. My tendency was to smash things, threaten people, destroy property, and sabotage the entire house. People would either bail or they gave in to my demands in efforts to eradicate my behavior. But, I never was really angry. Anger is just a secondary emotion disguised as many different things – for me, I was sad, lost, and scared. It is an emotional response to an injustice (either perceived or real). That is the response, the rage is the reaction to the response. So the final product may be taking a baseball bat to a mirror, but deep down I felt an injustice creating pain and hurt.

In the opening story, we reached the climax of the action scene. Swinging around the bat, projecting anger, and spreading fear into those who have brought me pain. Then steps in the one person that changed the course of many people’s lives in that moment.

Yep, Little Jon is there. And he refuses to move. This pisses me off to the point that I grab a baseball bat and start smashing and destroying things throughout the house.

The laughter has stopped, the show is over. The bear had been poked one too many times and all hell was about to break loose. And when the bear breaks free of the den, everyone takes off, bails, and hides in the hills.

What would “Boy B” do if they saw something like this? He wouldn’t know what to do. That makes it tough to label him a superhero. We do not know who we are until we see how we handle adversity. When it comes to reading a zone blitz on a 3rd down in a playoff game, sure, Peyton Manning knows how to handle that “adversity.” So we know how he is as a football player. But real adversity, such as the situation above, can not be practiced or coached up.

This is the fight-or-flight system, the most primitive part of the brain. You do not have time to act on logic, you go on instinct, emotional learning, and survival. Nobody else in the room had the necessary tools to defuse the situation, they have not had the intense emotional learning he endured.

Most of the “Boy B’s” of the world have no idea what is going on inside the head of someone who needs love. They have never felt that and that is not their fault and does not make them less of a person. However, stop calling him a hero. If we keep calling him a hero and telling our kids he is the hero, then we have brainwashed them.

Little Jon did know what was going on in my head.

He said, “I am not going anywhere and you need to put the bat down.”

Everyone else is in fear, bailing out, and in full-blown panic. We got these two “messed up” kids about to go at it with a baseball bat and tempers flaring.

The crowd shouts, “Jon!! Jon!! Get out of there!! Leave him alone he is crazy!”

Little Jon did not budge. He said, “Listen, put it down. I know how you are feeling. It is ok Betsy.” (That is what he always called me, “Betsy.”)

I said “I am going to smash your face.”

“No you’re not,” He responded, “You just need love. Give me a hug.”

“No!” I shouted. Then, I started crying.”

The room is empty, everyone is gone into hiding or calling the police – or searching for the “hero.” But, the problem is that the hero was already in the room with me.

“Come here,” Said Jon as he approaches me with a hug.

Complete silence fills the room.

I drop the bat. I hug him and begin to cry and then the floodgates spring open and tears kept flowing. I have no idea what we talked about or what was said. I did not even know why I was so angry on that particular occasion.

But, what I do know is how I felt. Not alone. And loved.

He saw a need, recognized his responsibility, and was willing to act. Just like all other neural circuitry pathways in our brain, these continued heroic actions, develop into a habit, create character, and essentially define the person.

Little Jon has a tendency to bring this feeing to everyone he is around. He gives people that feeling of acceptance and love even though it was never given to him.

He is a true superhero. He is the one we should be telling our kids about, not Batman, not Superman, not Peyton Manning.

But, Little Jon. Jon Kosiak. That’s who I want to teach my kids about. He is a superhero.

It’s time to redefine the definition of a superhero.

Everyone thought Little Jon was a trouble-maker and a bad seed. He is not. He is a good man that gives love, despite the only thing has ever received is abandonment, emotional/physical abuse, pain, and suffering. Prominent motivational speaker/author Wayne Dyer states that the most difficult thing to do in life is to return love for hate. Little Jon exemplifies that without any effort, he does so because it is natural.

By definition, if he instinctively flourishes at man’s most demanding task (returning love for hate), is there any other way to accurately portray and define a superhero?

I Love You Little Jon.

thank you.

The end.

A Tale of Two Physicians: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

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” .. Since I knew you, I have been troubled by a remorse that I thought would never reproach me again, and have heard whispers from old voices impelling me upward, that I thought were silent forever. I have had unformed ideas of striving afresh, beginning anew, shaking off sloth and sensuality, and fighting out the abandoned fight. A dream, all a dream, that ends in nothing, and leaves the sleeper where he lay down, but I wish you to know that you inspired it.”-    Charles Dickens

Every interaction we have matters. We may not see it, but it does

Here is a story of how one patient saw 2 different doctors. With the exact same problem. The reaction was completely different, and so was the result. You do not have to be a doctor or social worker or health care worker to have this impact. It is just this example. Every day we encounter people that as simple as it may seem, just a hello or a smile can make the difference. Sometimes, just knowing someone notices you are not doing well is a big deal.

Patient walks into Dr. D’s office. Patient is a 29 year old. He has depression, has a history of suicide, drug use, and addiction. He is in good physical health. He has not asked for help for a long time. He was in the psychiatric hospital as a teenager multiple times.

Dr. D comes into the office right at 8 am as the day starts. He gets his coffee, and asks for his first patient. He walks into the room and looks at the patient. He says “what can I do for you today?”

The patient says, “I am very sad, I have low energy, and I do not feel normal.” The patient is shaking and is embarrassed to be at this point in his life.

The patient says, “I have struggled with drinking and drugs and do not feel good about myself. I am scared to talk to anyone about anything, but especially this. I am at an end, I have to get help or I am going to die.”

Dr. D says, “Ok, well let’s draw some blood. Have you ever been checked for diabetes, low blood sugar, or thyroid problems?”

Patient says, in a trembling voice. “No. I don’t seem to have any of the other problems that would go with diabetes though. I work in the health care field.”

Dr. D says, “Well I am going to run some blood tests. I also see you once had a positive PPD test, so we will give you some INH.”

A ppd test is when you are tested for exposure to tuberculosis. If you are positive it usually means it is in your system but not active.

So Dr. D has the patients’ blood drawn and has given him the INH. The blood tests come back normal. No problems.

The clinic nurses call the patient and state everything is ok. Dr. D said to follow up if you have any concerns. They as a clinic have so many patients, they forgot why the patient came in the first place. They get a list of lab results, so when they see them come through, they never think of the patient. They see the results and make the call that they are ok. This is not their fault. They are completely overwhelmed with a huge volume of lab reports of patient’s to call.

This patient was anxious and depressed and afraid to ask for help to begin with. Now with this call and this response,  the patient is basically pushed aside, IF the patient wants help, he will have to make the call again and go through the embarrassment and shame of asking for help again.

Now, the patient does not go for the INH. He is now feeling hopeless. He never even went for medical problems, then when the results came in, the clinic never even thought that it was to rule out anything. The patient got lost in the pile of papers. Basically became a number, not a person. This is normal these days. They want the Doctors to see as much patients as possible, as fast as possible. So give them a pill and get them out of here. It is our medical system, and it has become a business.

In this case, the patient now goes on another binge, and gets more depressed. If anyone has been through this they know any binge can result in death to self or someone else. Thinking again about suicide month later, the patient calls up the clinic. The patient has lost hope in Dr. D. However the patient is afraid to ask for another provider. Because he will be considered “difficult.”

The patient, using all the courage that they have, gets another appointment. This  is months later. So at this next appointment, Dr. D walks in, and he does not recognize the patient.  He treats him as if he is a new patient. He asks again if he has any medical problems.

This time. Dr. D says “Let me draw blood for some things” once again. Checks his heart. He does not know the patients name, or occupation, or any of what had happened before.

The patient is a number, he now feels worse and is upset that he even came back. He gets his blood drawn.

The patient gets a phone call back. He is to come see Dr D again, he must come in to go over the results. They cannot tell him over the phone the results. However, there is also some hope. He feels that maybe they found a reason he has felt like this his whole life.

The patient is scared, he knows if you have to come in to go over results it is not good. Saturday morning Dr. D walks in as he is the on call MD this weekend. His eyes are bloodshot and red, Dr. D did not sleep last night you can tell. He does not recognize the patient, his name, or anything. He feels he is just seeing all emergency patients as they are the Saturday clinic this month and he is on call. Dr. D has no idea he is talking to his own patient.

He then asks the patient, why he is here.

Then Dr. D still not knowing the patients name says “oh yeah, well, looks like you have chronic fatigue syndrome and there is really nothing we can do. Maybe go to groups, or exercise.”

Just what the patient wants to hear right? You are chronically tired and out of luck. You are not depressed or any of that. Sorry, go to groups.

The patient puts his head down, that’s it. You can see him, the thoughts are something like, “I guess I never was depressed, I’m just tired,” that is what he is feeling.

Any of us can tell these things in watching people if we just watch and are truly present with them. If we take time for one another it is easy.

Then Dr. D says well I can give you Provigil to keep you awake during the day and trazodone to help you sleep. SO let’s do that and check back in a few months. We are now giving a patient with severe anxiety a pill that they used to give to pilots to keep them awake during long flights.

The patient gets the pill to stay awake. His depression and anxiety have still not been addressed. He has learned that this is what happens when you ask for help. The patient now feels hopeless, sad, anxious, and like a fool for asking for help. There is nothing they can do for him.

First they tell him he has tuberculosis, then its chronic fatigue. They spend 15 minutes with him each time because management wants doctors to see 4 patient per hour so they can bill for that. Then they make more money. Dr. D is considered more productive if he sees more patients in a day because he makes the clinic money then.

The patient then with this depression history, drug abuse history, has made his last ditch efforts to get help. It took everything he had to even ask for help. He was pushed aside, they didn’t know his name. He got lost as a number. Then he was told different things by the same doctor each time he went in.

Why would someone go seek help after this? Dr. D never even asked him about his depression or anxiety or his history. He was a number, and he pushed it off like it was not depression. Just give him a pill and get him out. I don’t blame Dr. D, this is our system. I have seen Doctors get scolded for taking too much time with their patients.

This patient would then go into severe depression and his drinking and self-destructive behaviors would intensify over the next few years. He had many near death experiences, he got a DUI and spent more time in jail. He got to a point in which he almost died and his family had given up on him completely. He was basically going to fade away to the world. You could tell, he had given up on himself and everyone else had given up on him.

About 3 years later after Dr. D. This patient called the clinic. They said “So you see Dr. D, would you like to see him again.”

The patient has an opening and says, “No anyone is fine.” Simple stroke of luck.

The patient is set up with Dr Broeker. This is his real name he still practices for Allina. It is at the end of May. The patient has made up an excuse to go in he says he is having urinary problems.

He is in the clinic office in the room waiting. Dr. Broeker knocks on the door, he says, “hey XXX, I just want you to know I am running a little bit late but I will be in as soon as I can.”

The patient is shocked, Dr Broeker knew his name and just knocked on the door to tell him that he was running late.

Then during their meeting, the patient is comfortable, and feels at ease. Dr Broeker comes in and says his name, what his experience is and does not have a clipboard. IS not looking at the computer. He asks “what are you here] for?”

Dr Broeker then says “what else can I do for you?”

The patient starts to cry and says “I am anxious, nervous and afraid to ask anyone for anything. I hate myself, I cannot stop drinking and I want to get help for feeling depressed.”

Dr Broeker spent the next hour talking with this patient. It was amazing. He talked to the patient about life. Dr Broeker talked about his time as an MD and how he wants to get this right. He explains the depression scale, the anxiety scale and fills it out with the patient.

It was like this patient had been waiting years for someone to say, “It’s ok to be sad, let’s talk about it.” Finally after, years and years of internal torture. Dr. Broeker had released this man from his own internal prison. It was amazing. Words will never do it justice what Dr Broeker was doing for this patient.

It was supposed to be a 15 minute appointment. Dr Broeker knows the patient has been seen by Dr D because he read the chart, he says “why were you tested for all of this?”

The patient says,” I don’t know that’s what he thought.”

Dr. Broeker says “well, ok, let’s start you on celexa and come back in 2 weeks to make sure you are not having any side effects.” Dr. Broeker did not judge the other physician and was respectful and kind about what the other MD had done. When someone is truly great like this, they do not need to question anyone else. He is pure, there is no competition for people like Dr. Broker, he practices out of love, and he is a doctor for the right reasons.

The patient was so much at ease with Dr. Broeker that he was able to tell him everything and open up about the drinking, drug use and all other issues that he was facing.

Dr Broeker wanted him back in 2 weeks just to check on side effects. The patient felt he had a new lease on life.

Then in 2 weeks Dr Broeker pops in and knows the patients name. He talks to him for a while like they are old buddies and shakes his hand and is friendly with him.

This patient has had a history of no shows throughout his life, but never with Dr Broeker. Usually if we have a patient with no shows, we label the as non-compliant or as not really wanting to get help. But, could it be that the problem is in the provider and how we treat patients? Or at least say it is 50/50? In a few months the patient was in rehab, and able to look at people. Dr Broeker then eventually recommended therapy to this patient.

This patient was willing to listen because he trusted Dr Broeker. He believed in him. The same recommendation could have come from another Doctor and it would have gotten a different reaction. The difference is in the relationship, not in the knowledge. Dr Broeker took time, he did not care about the 4 patients an hour.

Dr. Broker is special, he is in it for the right reasons. He takes time. That is true productivity.

He saves lives, He saved this patients life.

 

I know this, I watched it. The patient was me.

The Doctor is Dr Michael Broeker.

He saved my life. He is one of the “fab 5″ that I refer to that changed my life. That is number 1. The magical Michael Broeker.

 

If it was not for him, I would not be alive today. The patients that tell me I saved their lives and changed them forever, my friends and family and everyone that I have touched, it is all not possible without him.

 

I almost died and did not want to ask for help ever again. He sat down and listened. And talked. He didn’t follow the 15 minute rule. In my moment, lost in the woods, he gave me the light and pointed me in the right direction. All because he took time to get to know me and did not judge me.

 

I am alive today because of him.

 

Thank you Dr Broeker.

 

The End

 

 

Forced Surrender: Fear will make you a prisoner, but love will set you free

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“Sometimes our inability to control our instincts gives us a level of courage we don’t normally have.” -Jason Whitlock

We all try to hide ourselves with the mask, even if we do not know we are doing it. However, there are times that we cannot hide our true nature. It is usually in a crisis or a moment when our instincts take over. The true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Usually, it is a beautiful thing to witness. It is like seeing a picture of love. It is a rare occurrence. I was thinking of this example the other day and decided it might be a good moment in my life to share.

The courtroom was full. The custody battle has been long and complicated. Judge Harrington has heard this go on in his courtroom for months. Everyone was finally done presenting their cases and the evidence. It was full of emotion but silent. Judge Harrington is to address the court and the hundreds of people that are there with an emotional, vested interest.

He stands up and says “Tom, you are the mother’s father, you have been here for every single event in the courtroom. You have come to all the conferences and meetings. You have missed work for this, you are a dedicated man. What is your opinion on what should happen with the child?”

What? He is asking Tom what he thinks. He is the Judge and he is asking Tom what Tom thinks? Tom was the father of “Ally” who is the mother. “Ally” was his only daughter. He has one grandchild, and that was Kayla. He has been a large part of Kayla’s life up to this point. Kayla is the child in question here, she is 5 years old. Kayla and “Ally” live close to Tom, Kayla goes fishing with him, and she knows him so well. She hugs Grandpa Tom every time she sees him. He loves having Kayla around, she brings life to everyplace she is, like most 5 year old little girls.

Tom and his daughter “Ally,” have a great relationship. She has gotten involved in drugs recently, and he is trying to help her. He has always been a loving father. When “Ally” was young, she was emotionally abandoned by her mother, who never wanted children. So Tom raised her most of his life and was a loving, caring man. He was not perfect, as none of us are, but his heart was pure.

Is this why the Judge was asking him? I didn’t know. I did not like it. I was the one on the other side. I wanted my daughter and had been waiting my whole life for this moment. Her mother, “Ally,” was a full blown drug addict, and had been failing drug test after drug test. This should be a slam dunk. I was very upset that the Judge was asking Tom this.

I yelled at the Judge, “What the hell is this Bull****, why is it up to him? Why are you even asking him?” My heart was trembling in fear. I was shaking, I was sweating and nervous. I looked back at my mother and her lower lip was quivering. My father was standing in silence. All my siblings were looking. We were all so young. Ages from 16-24. No one had been in a situation like this.

Judge Harrington said “I suggest you settle down or you will be held in contempt of court, do you even know what that is young man?”

My lawyer had me leave the room. He said, “It may be best if you are not here for this, you are too emotional and you will be perceived in a poor manner.”

I am thinking to myself, “What the heck is going on here. I am not the one addicted to drugs. I am the one trying to go to school, I am recovering for my daughter.” My daughter was gone for years in Florida, then she had come back. I had started to get better and prepare for this. Now it seemed everything was falling apart right before my eyes. “I am going to lose this thing now,” is all I could think.

After doing the right thing, after going through the pain of losing Kayla, then getting her back in my life. Then I dedicate myself to bettering myself to become a good father. I tried to help her mother “Ally,” get into treatment, and still after this I am still going to lose her again? My heart was broken and I was in distress. The anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, embarrassment, and everything from my past was all coming up, and making me look to Judge Harrington like an out of control emotional kid. I had already lost her, my child, once, and I had thought forever. Now this second chance was being taken from me is what I felt.

Why was I so afraid of him asking Tom? Well in the beginning, I was good friends with Tom. But I was also a 17 year old punk that got his 16 year old daughter pregnant. We then fought for years. I said some horrible things to him and was rude and a jerk to him. He was the same to me. He did not like me and it was clear. Now he was going to decide my fate? How is this justice?

When “Ally” came back to the Midwest, and was getting involved in drugs. I was not trying to take the child away. This got Tom to respect me a little bit and earn a little trust. I was trying to get her in to treatment. I was trying to help. However, when you are not healthy yourself, and you are trying to help someone it is much like if a surgeon is bleeding while they are doing surgery. You are trying to help, but really you end up just injecting your own poison into that person.

I had no idea about addiction, mental health or anything. Yet here I was trying to understand it all and help someone who was a full blown meth addict and shooting up daily. I couldn’t understand why someone would leave their child for weeks at a time. I couldn’t understand why someone would say they wanted treatment then ditch out when they realized the cops were not after them anymore. I didn’t understand why someone would keep using after all the consequences. I didn’t know who this person was that was neglecting, and abusing my daughter.

The “Ally” I knew was a caring, and loving person who had been abandoned basically by her mother emotionally her whole life. Then her mother left for Florida when she found out her 16 year old daughter, “Ally” was pregnant. “Ally” was abused in many ways as a child, physically, emotionally, and sexually. But her heart was pure. I could not understand this person she had become. I was trying to help her. We all were. However it was not going well, and speaking for myself only, I was making it worse and I did not realize it at the time.

Tom was surprised that I was not coming down and just trying to get custody. We started to talk, we bonded as we tried to help “Ally” together for the child. Tom loved his daughter “Ally” and was a great father. We were so frustrated, she was calling everyone names, bringing up everyone else’s dirty laundry. We didn’t understand. Tom saw me prevent her from being arrested. Eventually, I had given up and we were now in this long drawn out custody dispute.

It got to a point that I bailed “Ally” out of jail once, and Tom had become mad at me for helping her too much. Everyone really was doing their best but we were all brining our own stuff into this situation and the years of mistrust and fear and anger were all present.

As I look back now, I realize we were all fighting because we all wanted to love this child. If you take away the fear, anger, anxiety and other negative emotions, we could have solved this ourselves. But here we were in a recess at court after my blowup in the courtroom with the Judge asking Tom of all people what he thinks. This was it, I was the crazy one. This was all going to be taken away and I knew it.

I sat alone in a room at the courthouse. I refused to talk to everyone. I was alone. This was one of those points in my life that I realized I really have no control over anything what so ever. It was not a painful thing. Well, at first it was frustrating, I could not talk my way out of anything, I could not throw a fit and get my way, and I could not manipulate. I could not take Kayla and run, I would be in jail then. This was completely out of my hands, I had no control. The funny thing is, we never do. We only think we do. Control is a human illusion.

This was one of my first forced third steps. Forced to surrender. I would forget it later, but also go back to it throughout my life when it was needed. I was receiving a painful gift. I got on my knees and I cried, first about how unfair it was, then about how mad I was, then about what I was going to do if things didn’t go my way. Then when all the garbage was out, it was just tears. Crying and hoping for the best. I was hoping that the best happens and just trusting that if I am a good guy and my intentions are pure and I do it with love in my heart that it will turn out ok. I surrendered that day. I was not mad, instead all the anxiety, fear and negative emotions were gone. What I felt was a freedom I had not felt before. I realized that I was allowed to love my daughter regardless of where I was or who she was with. No one could take that from me. This was not going to be the end. No one can take my heart or my soul. I felt an immense freedom.

I was calm and came back to the courtroom. I apologized to the Judge. The Judge continued, “Before we were interrupted by the outburst, I had asked Tom what he thought. Tom, where do you think Kayla should be. With you, with the uncles, or the mother or the father, what is your opinion?”

Tom stood up, everyone was looking at him, He had tears in his eyes, and his voice was shaking. This was a large man, he works on the railroads and has his whole life and loved life. His voice trembling as the courtroom was in silence, he said, “She should be with her father.”

Whoa, that was me. This man could have said his daughter “Ally”, and believed he could get her help. He could have said his son, the uncle, or himself. He did not. To stand up in a courtroom and say something like that when it held so much weight was one of the most amazing acts of unselfishness I have ever seen. This was true love. He had no idea if I would ever let them see Kayla again if I had custody. We had a rough history which was getting better. He knew this could be the end of his family and ever seeing his only grandchild. He still said what he thought was best for her.

Because of this I was granted custody. There are times that we cannot hide our true nature, we all try to hide ourselves with the mask, but at times, the true self bursts out despite our best efforts. Tom’s true character is that of one of the best most amazing people in the world. He is pure. He is real.

Why did the Judge care about what Tom thought so much? I was told this story after the fact. When Tom and the Judge were 6 years old. The judge was drowning in a lake. No one was around. Tom was the kid that pulled him out of the water and saved him. Tom had shown his true character before to this judge, so he knew he would get the truth. It was a small town, they grew up together.

Kayla still to this day, goes and sees Grandpa Tom all the time. He has been a major part of her life since that day. Tom and I used to talk a lot until “Ally” got out of prison. When ”Ally” went to prison, Tom saw Kayla every other weekend and summers and talked all the time. He was able to keep their family involved for when “Ally” eventually got out of prison.

The rest of the story is for another day.

Thank you Tom for showing me what love and unselfishness looks like.

Thank you Judge Harrington for showing me to treat everyone with kindness at all times, you never know when the tide will turn. To love each other always.

Thank you that day for forcing me to surrender my will for a moment, so I would have that to go back on later in my life when it was needed.

Thank you crisis. You helped awaken me.

On this day, I saw what real love was.

Thinking of suicide? Read me

“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

 

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I survived a suicide attempt, spent years in rehab centers, jails, psych hospitals. Now I have worked as a staff, and at times as a supervisor at these type of facilities.

However my friend, he did not. This is what suicide looks like. This is him after hanging himself, right before he died. February 25th 2010.

 

The difference between us is nothing except our resources. He grew up in rough environment, by that I mean school, neighborhood, friends, and life experiences.

I try to preach getting to know each patient regardless of what the chart says. It’s also important to take time with everyone, this is one of the major reasons why. Part of the reason Joe is dead is because the professionals he worked with neglected him and labeled him. He did not get treated as he deserved.

They didn’t have money, we did. He went to jail, he stayed. I went to jail, I got bailed out. I was sent to treatment, he had to stay in jail. My crimes were worse. My crimes were DUI, assault, assault, disorderly. His crimes; possesion, possession,possesion. You tell me who should have stayed. The only difference was money and resources.

When he did go to the M.D., he didn’t get to pick which one he went to, he went to whomever they told him to. The doctors, knowing this, did not have to negotiate anything with him such as what meds he liked and didn’t.

When I went to a doctor, I got to decide which doctor to go to, so they had to listen to me or I could go elsewhere. My mom had money and resources, his didn’t.

Some will argue that he had a brother that grew up in the same enviornment and did fine. That’s where the studies of innate temperament come in. We are all born with an innate tempermant. Low emotional reaction to things, normal, high, and extreme. The studies are numerous, and they all prove the same thing. Some people are more in tune with other peoples emotions, and are more sensitive. This is not to say every emotional person is going to have issues. It is the combination of being super emotional and not getting any support on a routine basis that creates the mask. That is the cause of addiction and mental illness. It is not the enviornment alone or the genetics alone, it is a combination of both genetics and constant problems in the enviornment. By enviornment I do not mean just home life, but school, friends, everything.

We all know people who we think are more emotional and we think to ourselves, “wow he really gets emotional,” and about things that we don’t think even matters. But in the severe cases, the super sensitive people, they get hurt more easy, get scared. Then if they get invalidated, or misunderstood their whole life and told to be quiet or are ignored routinely, they have to create a mask that gains some sort of acceptance. Or some role in life that gains you love.

Then others start labeling and judging for behaviors that the mask/false self does, and this only creates more shame. It is sad, we tell people to wear this mask, then judge them when the mask goes to far. So yes, it happens all the time that 2 people from same family can have different reactions to environment. That’s because we all have different genetics.

He didn’t have a car to go to places when he had time, he had to go when he could get his ride. He had no options, not as much support. If he didn’t show up, no one would believe him as he had been labeled as the “criminal,”  and I was labeled as the “patient.” Again, no difference except money, resources, and the labels.

He was the most sensitive, caring, loving person you could meet. However, that wasn’t acceptable by our culture or his culture. So he became the angry drug addict. That’s more acceptable. So he had his mask. While wearing the mask, his true self hides and he gets more depressed. This leads to more drug use, more crimes, and more erratic behavior.

Why drug use? It’s something that blocks all the pain for a moment. It could be anything, drug use was acceptable in his world, more acceptable than the other forms. Other forms can be overeating , gambling, sex, anger, co dependency, and many others.

It depends on what mask is acceptable to your culture. They are all of the same purpose, to run from your true self and emotions. Then, it gives us relief, so we think that the behavior is what helped.

We have a surge of dopamine. So of course we go back to that thing again thinking it is relieving pain, but in fact it is adding to it. Then we become so dependent on the behavior to relieve us from the pain, that we start doing it at the cost of anything. We do things we wouldn’t normally do to get the relief.

Then others judge those behaviors, telling us more and more that who we are is a bad person. The layers of the mask get to be more and more, we despise ourselves, we think. But who we truly despise is the false self we have created and society has helped us create.

So yes, kill yourself. But not literally, kill your false self. Thats how you heal.

No one in the profession reached out,  no one talked to him, or even knew how. Instead they saw the criminal, the anger and they judged. This just added more shame and guilt and more layers of the mask.

I remember one birthday, I stopped by and gave him 50 dollars. He said “you are the only one who even remembered.” So he went and spent it on other people

Whenever he had even 2 dollars, it went to other people. He was the kindest, most gentle, loving person you could ever meet.

He let me see behind his mask, because I let him see behind mine.

No one one in the field ever thought “Hey this is a genuinely caring kid who has never gotten a chance to show himself and been accepted.”

Instead they saw him as the angry man, drug addict,  and the continuous offender.  Once he is labeled, everything he does is attached to that label. It goes in his chart, and everyone reads it before they meet him. 

He’s the bad guy to them, which affects how they treated him. That affected his reaction, then they could say, “See, he just was not reachable.” When in fact I had done much worse, and I got to be a patient. “That poor sensitive kid needs someone to just love him.” That’s how I got treated and labeled.

The difference in outcomes is related to how the patients are treated; however there is no way to measure this because the egotistical providers will deny what they do, but I see it everyday and have for almost 20 years.

The problem is, in this field, if you start to spend time with the patients and try to reach out, you get in trouble for having poor boundaries. So,  you are told basically “Don’t get to know the patients, however they ask the staff to get the patients to trust you and open up without ever really becoming close to them.”  These patients have usually been in terrible situations, and they do not trust anyone and the staff is told “Stay away, watch boundaries, but get them to tell you everything.” That’s why people do not get better, thats why people don’t learn.

One of my favorite sayings “You can get anyone to tell you their secrets if you love them enough. “

I was one of the support people he had. He would call we would talk for hours and hours. When he was in Arizona, or St Paul, it didn’t matter. He always called when he was in trouble, or just randomly to talk. We were in it together. Although I got better treatment, he was the better man.

He was a boxer, loved it. We would box, he destroyed me. I watched him brag like I did, but he also had true humility when it mattered. The best boxing match I’ve ever seen was him vs his brother. He was a much better man than most people ever will be.

Then one time, he was in jail and he had no where to go. So he called as usual. He came to live with me for a while. I was starting in my recovery already. I remember Jenny making him spaghetti and him eating it like he hadn’t eaten in months. He said “this is the best food I’ve ever had.” I had become so selfish that it was nothing to me to even eat like that. It was just spaghetti, but to him, it was heaven. It shouldn’t be like that. I was no better than him, in fact I was less than him. Yet I got to experience this daily while he suffered, where is the justice in that?

Then the old friends started to come around. We had a 10 year old, I was recovering and going to school.

We told him after some warnings, that “Hey you can’t stay here anymore with all these people coming around my daughter, its too scary to come home seeing her sitting on couch with these guys.”

He said “I can’t control them,” he warned them and asked them to wait until he is home. They just come. Which was true, he just had a following people loved him. He was a truly good person and once he let you in, you loved it.

He had a son, Anthony, who was a little guy but was as fierce as his dad, you could see that. Joe and Anthony would box, fake of course. But you could see the love and it was special. Anthony would come around, we would all go on walks. Joe would say “I love you buddy” all the time and kiss anthony.  I never saw a man kiss his little boy before, but that was cool.  I make sure I do that with my 3 year old son now and think of Joe every time I do it. He loved Anthony so much, it was soo clear. Joe was a great man.

Anthony didn’t see the label of “drug addict, bi polar, criminal.” That’s the mask Joe had to wear. Anthony was a kid, kids are genius that way. They don’t see labels and masks. Anthony saw Joe as I saw him, an angel. A kind, beautiful human with some severe pain and couldn’t do anything about it. I loved watching them together, because I knew the feeling.

Then, I get an email that joe is dead. He hung himself. He didnt call me this time. I had kicked him out. The guilt is terrible. When people ask why I fight for patients so hard, this is one of the main reasons.  Just building that trust is important. I’m sorry Joe, and god do I  miss you. Again, the wrong one got treatment, and the wrong one is dead, it should be me. I am no better, in fact I’m much worse than him. What else can I do, but preach love. I have to do something.

I don’t believe people go away when they die. Their bodies leave, as all of ours will. But as long as we remember them and hold the love with us, it will live on forever. Some things that Joe passed on to me, I still carry, and will pass on to my kids and so on. He is with many of us that remember him. He’s here right now. As long as we let him.

I love you Joe.

Adios to Affluenza: Sentencing of the Rich and Poor

 

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Whenever there are drug-related court cases in the media, I tend to pay attention at the incident, the sentencing, and the public reaction. There were two that came out around the same time that have always stuck out to me and I thought I would compare them.

 

Child A was arrested for possessing Xanax, a benzodiazepine.

 

Child B was driving under the influence of alcohol (with a BAC three times the legal limit), after stealing two cases of beer, had valium (a benzodiazepine) and THC in his system at the time. He was driving 70 miles-per-hour in a 40 mph zone. Once his friends told him to slow down, he sped up intentionally. He then crashed the truck, killing four people and severely injuring two more.

 

Both are first-time offenders. Who spent more time in jail?

 

Let’s take a look at their court cases further:

 

Child A is dressed in an orange inmate jump suit. The judge issues her bail bond of $5,000 before wishing her a sarcastic farewell with a childish-like wave saying, “bye-bye.” Child A replied back the same phrase, only in Spanish, “Adios.” This resulted in her bond being doubled to $10,000, in which the judge then mocked the child by wishing her well with the exact same phrase, “Adios.”  In nervous frustration, Child A flips the bird to the judge and fires back more expletives and lands a 30-day sentence in jail.

 

Well, it seems a bit extreme, but certainly Child B must have served more time.

 

But Child B is wealthy and white. In fact, he is so wealthy that his legal defense team argued that he has never been able to learn consequences for his behavior since his money always gets him out of trouble – coining a new disorder, “Affluenza.” Although this is not a legal or medical term, it worked, and the child was put on probation and sent to a rehab facility that features horseback riding and massage therapy.

 

While there may be something to the argument that Child B was raised in such a way that he didn’t know any better, why can’t we argue that Child A was raised in such a way that she didn’t know you can’t tell the judge “Adios?”

 

It seems like a rather harsh penalty. Especially since Child B would get out jail free based on the notion that he was raised in such a lifestyle that he does not have the ability to determine right from wrong. Yet, Child B not only was taking a similar substance, he was also driving a vehicle and twice the posted speed limit, he had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system (for an adult, he is only 16), stole the beer from a Walmart, also had THC in his system, and killed four people. But he didn’t know he couldn’t do that?

 

But don’t take my word for it, here is an explanation from Judge Andrew Napolitno regarding the sentencing of Child A’s case:

 

“I think [Judge Rodriguez-Chomat] grossly over-reacted, I think the judge brought on her contumacious behavior, and he violated the procedures,” Napolitano continues, “She is innocent until proven guilty, she is charged with an illegal possession of a prescription drug, she has no priors.”

 

Typically in a case like this, the person will be Released on Recognizance (ROR) – basically meaning that she would not have to post bail with a promise they will attend all future court hearings. Rodriguez-Chomat posts bail at $5,000 based on his indifference towards Child A and then doubles it to $10,000 because she said, “Adios.” She reacted to his over-reaction and he gives her 30-days in jail? Where is the justice here?

 

“If someone misbehaves in your courtroom, you have to display some sort of tolerance,” Napolitano continued, “If you are angry at a person, you can not sentence a person in anger because that is not the right or fair mental framework.  Here is the rule on contempt, if you tell somebody not to do something and they do it – you can sentence them for contempt.  But if they do it spontaneous on their own and you are offended by it, you send them to another judge for sentencing.”

 

And this is just the quantifiable punishment that Child A would go on to face. She became a media sensation on YouTube.  With titles such as “Flipping the Bird to Judge,” being viewed more than 15 million times; “Judge DESTROYS Ditzy Rich Girl,” with more than 7 million views; “Judge Doesn’t Take Crap From Disrespectful Girl,” has more than 700,000 views; “Woman Curses at Judge, Flips Bird,” with more than 450,000 views; “Judge Flips out After Getting Flipped Off,” has more than one million; and “Dumb Girl Gives Middle Finger to Judge,” with 117,000 views.

 

Besides being viewed upwards of 25 million times by the general population, the titles are incredibly misleading of the entire incident. She took a couple of Xanax and was arrested, after receiving her sentence she simply states, “Adios.” The judge then abused his power. He initiated the entire incident as stated by Napolitano.

 

Judge Rodriguez-Chomat has a violent, disrespectful history of his own, as well as receiving the second lowest approval rating among local attorneys.  As a representative, Rodriguez-Chomat was advocating against school vouchers while sending his own kids to private schools. After being called a hypocrite by fellow lawmaker Carlos Valdes, Rodriguez-Chomat grabbed Valdes by the tie and started a brawl with him in public. Imagine what kind of sentence he would have handed out to himself for that incident? But who judges the judge?

 

Notice how this part never makes headlines? Our society doesn’t want to hear that, our society wants to hear about a disrespectful girl – as the YouTube titles indicate. But four days after this case, Child A made a second appearance and apologized to the judge for her actions, admitted to being under the influence, and had her sentence dropped. This video never seemed to get shared on any of my news feeds.

 

Just three weeks from her original arrest, Child A passed all eight of her random drug screens, was attending rehab classes, working towards her GED, and doing clerical work. She is improving her life, but we still only remember her in her darkest moment and crucify her for something that was erroneously titled and unjustifiably marketed on social media. It is truly unfortunate that this young child had to deal with the wrath of public condemnation during her worst moment, because a power-hungry judge couldn’t control his anger. Yet, we never share when she comes out of the darkness and makes positive changes in her life.  

 

Ironically, the video entitled, “Judge DESTROYS Ditzy Rich Girl,” has more than seven million views as if we want to cheer and applaud some judge for taking care of a spoiled rich girl. But that is not the case, she was under the influence (which explains the so-called “ditzyness”) and if she was rich…well then she would have never seen the inside of a jail house because she would have likely been suffering from Affluenza.

 

Chopping Onions: The Truth is in Our Core

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“Nothing in the world is permanent, and we’re foolish when we ask anything to last, but surely we’re still more foolish not to take delight in it while we have it.”

If you take an onion and cut it as close to the roots as possible, without cutting the roots, it can grow larger and larger every time. We are like this, we grow and become wiser and more loving by giving away what we get, as long as we keep the roots. This is a lesson I never believed to be true, I thought how can you gain more by giving things away? I thought I needed to keep it all to myself. That is what we are taught. This is the story of the day I realized I was much like an onion.

These toasts and things are common at weddings. They are also common at graduations and other special occasions. It is so bizarre to me that we only talk like this about each other at these rare times and usually when heavy alcohol is involved. Then we forget. We forget to tell each other how we truly feel. We are afraid, or embarrassed.

Dave grabbed his drink and stood up. Everyone listened as Dave spoke. “I remember one time, we were playing video games when we were kids, and it was so important for Bob to have the best team, that he went and bought a 12 pack of mountain dew and stayed up all night creating this master team so he could beat us. He always wanted to win, ever since he was a kid. But when he was done, then he worked on everyone else’s team.”

Everyone laughed and hollered. It was a great toast. After the laughing was done. Dave continued, “Bob is amazing, he is a rare person, and I love him and am lucky to have grown up with him. There was a time that I was driving without a license and crashed. He didn’t think twice, he jumped in the driver’s seat and pushed me aside and took the blame for the accident.”

Then after that, all of a sudden Jacob stood up, this was unexpected. He taps his glass and says. “Bob, Bob, Bob, he loves borrowing other people’s cigarettes.” Everyone knows this to be true and has a good laugh. Jacob continues, “But what Bob never bragged about was the time he had only 5 dollars left and gave it to me because he knew I was struggling. He never told anyone. He is kind and a humble man.”

Then Brian stood up and held up his glass. This was turning into something rare for us. Brian was not one to speak in front of a group like this, Brian says, “Bob and his heart. When I was in the middle of my addiction to heroin, Bob came and got me and drove me 6 hours in the middle of the night to treatment. Then I ditched it. He still came the next time I called. He missed work, and family time. He just took the heat. I love you Bob.” That one got everyone’s attention. People were getting emotional. Brian recovered from addiction, but none of us knew that part of it. It was starting to seem like Bob did a lot of things for all of us. We all had these stories. Brian’s was very strong because we all had pretty much given up on him, well, except Bob. We had wondered how he had finally beaten the addiction, I guess Bob had given him what I call “psychological life support.”

Danny stood up now. “I hate Bob. He makes us all look bad.” That was how Danny was. He then got serious, which is very out of character for Danny, and he said, “I got kicked out of my parents’ house and Bob came and got me every day, and he drove me to work for a month. Never asked for anything.” We all were surprised, we thought they hated each other but dealt with each other. They were kind of the arch rivals in our group that were always fighting.

Jim stood up and said. “I don’t have a story like any of you. However, I’ve seen Bob with opportunities to be unfaithful, and he was not. His loyalty, it really is something that changed me. In a hot tub, with women all over him, he left to go to his ex-fiancés house and be with their kid. They were no longer together at the time, and she was seeing other people. But he did not care. His love is strong. He is probably embarrassed by me even telling this story, but I think it tells you all you ever need to know about Bob.”

So I am sitting there, thinking about them saying these things. I am hearing words describe Bob, like humble, kind, caring, loyal, considerate, and unselfish to name a few. Wow, we all liked being around him all the time. I never had heard these things before. I felt like I should say something. I sat at the corner. This had become a moment that we were all speaking of our relationships. It was my turn it seemed.

I stood up. I said, “Bob is amazing. I remember one time we were walking in the city at night. There was a homeless man and Bob gave him his shirt and jacket. Bob went and got another one for himself. Everyone else was mocking the old homeless guy. But Bob made sure no one was watching. He did not do this for show, he means it. All heart.” Everyone agreed.

But listening to all this about Bob was hitting me hard. So I decided to say more.

“I was just wondering if anyone has ever said any of this to Bob’s face. Because I have not. I do not know why either. This feels good.” Is what I said.

Dave said, “No. I have never said this any of it. Why? I do not know.” Everyone else shook their heads in agreement. It was sad to hear that, everyone had the same look on their face. Why not? Why haven’t we?

Well, in this case, it was not Bob’s wedding, it was not a graduation either. Bob had died at the age of 26 about a week prior to this. He was in a boating accident. We all were just at the funeral 2 days ago, and no one mentioned a thing. Everyone was in shock. His best friend was Joe. Joe would later take his own life. He was emotional and crying and kissed Bob as he lay in his casket. No one else said a thing. I think we were all in complete shock. This was 15 years ago, I was 24. You do not expect things like this to happen when you are 24 and you are thinking you are invincible.

A couple days later, as we sat at this restaurant, just sharing stories, we were having his real funeral. This lasted until 5 the next morning. I sat that day, when it was over, thinking to myself if I ever see something positive about someone I am going to tell them. At first when I did this my face would get all red, sometimes I would tear up and my voice would crackle. Then I started to see the impact it had on me, and on others. I was growing more each time I gave more away. Much like the onion.

It doesn’t work if it is not genuine. But when it is genuine, it is amazing. It is almost like I get more out of it than the people receiving it. The more I give away, it seems the more I get given to me. By that I mean love. If I give it away completely, it seems that I get more placed in my heart.

I think people believe that it takes away from them if they give it away. They may think it will be scary or they will be rejected, but if it is pure, it is amazing. If it is a manipulation, and you have a hidden agenda, it does not feel the same. It has to be real. Even if the person already knows it to be true, it is good for them to hear it. I remember when I started doing this, my brother said, “I wish I could talk to people like that.” I said “you can.”

Anyone can do this if they want to. Try it. That is the key to growth, is doing things that you are uncomfortable with. If you only do things you are already good at and are strong in, you will never truly grow. That is fine if you are satisfied with the way things are, but if you want to grow, the way is by doing things that are hard or uncomfortable.

Imagine it is raining outside, and everyone has a bucket, if you try to keep all your water to yourself, and hold the bucket close to your chest, you will not get very much. If you take your bucket and start pouring what water you have into other peoples cups, someone is going to say, “Hey get that person a bigger bucket.” You will start to see more opportunities come, and you are never depleted. As weird as that may seem, it is true, the more you give, the more you get. Our minds do not think that way. Because we were trained otherwise.

Removing the outer layers of the onion brings tears. In fact, it can be so painful, people publish articles as to how to get to the core of the onion without the tears including cutting under water, wearing goggles, or freezing the onion first. Similarly, we freeze or emotional feelings with things such as alcohol or drugs for an easier way to get to our core. Freezing vegetables, or feelings, similarly creates changes in texture and we lose the natural flavor.

This was what came of Big Bob’s death to me. Some people look at me weird, which is ok. I do not want to leave love left unsaid or undone when I go, I want to leave it here in the world. So it can keep being passed on forever. That will stay forever, regardless of where my body goes.

I hope Bob heard us that night. He never did when he was alive.

 

 

Hoover Damn: Unmasking America

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“Inquiry and investigation should begin with oneself. For what we see in others is the reflection of our own selves, our own prejudices are our preferences.”

– Sathya Sai Baba

 

Along the coast of a small village in West Africa, a 16-year-old girl is abducted from her family, taken into captivity by authorities without any explanations. Her innocence gone, lives forever changed, and she knows this is the last time she will see her family.

Near the sea, she spends a week in a dark, secure facility with about a thousand others from various tribes uncertain of the crime they have committed or where their future lies. Eventually they are brought to the surface only to be stripped naked, inspected, and branded with hot iron on their skin with an unfamiliar marking. An enormous ship is docked along the shore awaiting the human cargo.

Aboard the ship, there is an unbearable stench of death immediately creating nausea and vomiting. The prisoners are crammed into tiny docks about three feet high, forced to sit between each other’s legs, with no chance of lying down or even changing positions. The ship crams nearly 600 people into the docks like sardines with little breathable air, forced to sit in feces, and take on the scorching sub-tropic sun.

After a few months of these deplorable conditions, the ship docks in New Orleans at an auction house for white savages. Again inspected carefully, one-by-one they are sold as property, given new names, and sent to their slave master’s plantation.

This girl is renamed Elizabeth and she is sent to live with Christian Hoover, a plantation owner in rural Mississippi.

In the early 1800s, this is one of the final Transatlantic Slave Trade shipments as the trade was finally made illegal in 1807. In all, more than 54,000 journeys have taken place stealing nearly 12 million Africans from their home and put into the trade. But this is just the number that survived. It is estimated that more than 20 million, like Elizabeth, were abducted in West Africa during this time.

It was a worldwide three-part system. The Europeans would trade guns, rum, and clothing to African kings for slaves. At first, the kings would send criminals, or prisoners from war, but the demand from the Europeans was too great. This led to African kingdoms starting war, with the new guns they were purchasing, and hunting down slaves to keep the movement alive.

The middle passage was the horrendous transatlantic voyage described above putting the slaves into the fields for free manual labor. The essence of colonization is conquering an undeveloped country, strip them of their natural resources, to produce cheaper products to increase profits. In the Americas the raw materials were tobacco, sugar, rice, and cotton – all of which were labor intensive. In order for the colonies to succeed and America to prosper, they needed cheap labor, and the slave trade made this newfound nation an economic super power.

In elementary school, we all learn the famous line written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Less known, or told in school, is that Jefferson owned more than 600 slaves throughout his lifetime to help build his estate. Later, in a message to a friend, Jefferson then wrote:

“If there is a just God, we are going to pay for this.”

Stealing land from Native Americans for more room to grow and using stolen Africans to do the work, America soon became the leading exporter of cotton. In the 1800s, cotton was king just as oil has been since the 1900s. And America was exporting 75-percent of the world’s greatest cash crop.

On the Hoover plantation, Christian was married and had 11 children. It was not uncommon at this time for the women to be giving birth on a yearly basis. It was also common for select slave women to serve as “bed warmers” while the wife was pregnant, sleeping with their master.

Elizabeth served as a bed warmer for Christian and gave birth to a light-skinned daughter named Elizabeth Ann.  Although born with light skin, any slave child was considered black and was granted no rights – giving these children the most undesirable of situations being excluded by both blacks and whites.

From here, the Hoover family tree gets tangled which was typical on slave plantations. They are even more difficult to keep track of due to no records being kept of slave births in most states.

 1814 – Christian Hoover has a daughter with his slave, Elizabeth. They also name her Elizabeth Ann.

 1830 – Christian Hoover has a daughter with Elizabeth Ann (also his daughter) and they name her Emily Allen – making Christian both the father and grandfather of Emily.

1859 – Emily Allen goes on to have many children with all of her half-brothers. Her oldest son is named Ivery Hoover. This makes Christian both the maternal and paternal grandfather of Ivery.

 1834 – Elizabeth Ann then passes for white, moves to Washington, D.C., and marries William Hoover. They have one son, John Hoover.

 1857 – John Hoover then marries a woman and they have three children. The oldest is Dickenson Naylor Hoover.

After Dickenson Naylor Hoover marries Anna Marie he is put into an insane asylum.

While in the asylum, Anna Marie moves back to Mississippi and has an affair with Dickenson’s cousin, Ivery Hoover. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to John Edgar Hoover (J. Edgar Hoover) on January 1, 1895.

Confused yet?

Dickenson was aware that J. Edgar was not his child and he was abused and neglected throughout his childhood. The embarrassment and shame of having a slave child was too much for the family to bear and this became the dark secret of the Hoover family for decades.

Growing up, Hoover likely considered himself to be white until the secret was finally exposed to him in which he kept with him to his grave – in fact, he did everything he could to don his mask as a white man. And it was not the only mask Hoover wore.

At age 29, Hoover rose to the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (F.B.I.). Crime in America had been steadily rising and Hoover was the man to make the change. He gained prominence with his efforts for chasing down radicalism and communists with his landmark case of deporting Marcus Garvey.

Garvey was a pioneer in the black civil rights movement. Hoover, part-black himself, often targeted black activists and viewed their beliefs as radical. Perhaps this was his way of hiding his true identity – because if it were ever discovered his heritage he would have never been allowed to prosper in racist America in the early 1900s.

Garvey was born in Jamaica and traveled throughout the Americas and recognized everywhere he went that blacks were on the lower end of society. His vision was to improve their quality of life, self-determination, and repatriation to Africa. Hoover brought him down by hiring insiders to find dirt on Garvey and eventually got him arrested and deported on charges of mail fraud.

Although some of Garvey’s views were controversial, he did trigger the remarkable leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. who spread his message in the 1960s. Not coincidentally, both were also premier targets of Hoover in his prime.

Knowing the foundations of the African people in America, imagine all the good Hoover could have done for the civil rights movement with his passion, intelligence, and determination. Instead, he focused on shutting it down to protect his true identity. This is the danger of growing attached to our psychological masks.

Although crime was rising, the Alcohol industry likes to blame this strictly on Prohibition as the sole contributor. In reality, organized crime was on the rise and prohibition just opened up a new industry for the mafia – bring a product (alcohol) to a population that had a high demand and their supply taken out from under their feet.

In 1929, the stock market crashed. This was followed by banks failing, leading to fewer loans, less spending, fewer wages, no jobs, reduced trading, and a global economic collapse – also known as the Great Depression. Not too much different than what we experienced in 2008.

One out of every four citizens was unemployed, people waited in bread lines for food, or headed out west in hopes of finding work. Criminals like John Dillinger, “Baby Face” Nelson, “Pretty Boy” Floyd, and Bonnie and Clyde weren’t necessarily viewed as criminals, but more like Robin Hood. They destroyed mortgage papers at the banks they hit.

Harry Pierpoint explained, “I stole from the banks who stole from the people.”

Dillinger became the most famous of all with lotteries putting up odds as to when he would be arrested next. More money was spent on trying to catch Dillinger than the actual money he stole from banks.

This was Hoover’s next prized possession. And cleverly enough, Hoover created a public relations campaign of his own – making the cops the new heroes. The name Hoover was synonymous with the FBI and soon people were cheering for the cops instead of the robbers.

With all his amazing capabilities to fight crime, capture secrets, and change the perception of America – it’s too bad his mask led him down a path of greater crime than that of the criminals he exposed.

And it is not just that Hoover did not like black progressive leaders, he abused his power in a hell-bent effort to bring them down.  Hoover’s used phrase such as “Neutralize black-nationalist groups,” or “Prevent the rise of the black messiah.”

But it wasn’t just blacks that Hoover was after, he was out to expose and eliminate the homosexual community. Hoover’s reasoning was that Communists would blackmail U.S. Citizens – specifically those involved in government agencies – to gather secrets. His claim was that no one had more at risk of being exposed than the homosexual population.

This was known as the “Lavender Scare,” which Hoover was focused on removing any and all homosexuals from office and exposing them to light. During the time of the Cold War, rise of the American Mafia, and all other events going on during this time, it makes one question why targeting homosexuality was a priority.

Although never openly admitted, Hoover was incredibly involved with his number-two man at the Bureau, Clyde Tolson. While there is plenty of evidence to support they had a romantic or sexual relationship, that is not the point of this article and more in-depths documents have been revealed. The point is that that, much like the Larry Craig incident in the Minneapolis restroom, Hoover’s anti-gay rhetoric was clearly a cover-up to prevent himself from being exposed. In fact, nearly the entire Hoover estate was willed over to Tolson at his death in 1972.

So, here you have the best cop in the world, in charge of the greatest police force in the world – yet we have a rise of the American Mafia?

Hoover adamantly downplayed the rise of the mafia or their existence. It baffled people inside and outside the organization as it was a glaringly obvious problem, which Hoover refused to acknowledge.

Well, Hoover had another vice which connected him to the mafia. He was a gambling addict. At the time, horse racing was king in the United States. The mafia set up gambling rings, set lines on the races, betting wires, and even fixed the races. Hoover was highly invested in this system, connecting him to the mafia, and if he were ever to try to go after the mafia – all his secrets, or mask, would be exposed.

On November 22, 1963, the president of the United States is killed in Dallas, Texas. This is in the height of the Cold War and you would expect the most thorough investigation in the history of the world to take place. But instead, Hoover was at the race track the next day. Again, it is well-documented that he frequented such places as the Del Mar race track and that every town Hoover went, you would find him at the local track.

But in testifying to the Senate in 1951, Hoover states, “The gambling problem must be viewed as a phase of the entire crime picture. Organized gambling is a vicious evil. It corrupts our youth and wipes the lives of our adults. It becomes a springboard for other crimes such as embezzlement, robbery, and even murder. “

The man who held the most secrets on others, held the most secrets about himself. It was all just another ploy to protect his mask.

It was a real-life game of Spy-vs.-Spy. The Mafia likely had secrets on Hoover and it was in his best interest to stay away from being exposed. Again, his mask prevented him from doing his work and corrupting a nation.

Regarding the killing of Kennedy, another highly unknown nugget is that Lyndon Baines Johnson hired Hoover to do his own investigation. His 500-page report alleged that Lee Harvey Oswald acted as the lone gunman. Rather than the Warren Commission doing their own diligence, they relied heavily on Hoover’s report and agreed that Oswald was the “lone nut.”

Even at the time of release, only 56-percent of American’s believed Oswald acted alone. Today less than one out of 10 people believe the government’s official story that stemmed from Hoover’s “investigation.” In the 888-page Warren Commission mockery of an investigation, it never gives a motive for Oswald killing the president. Just a lone nut.

Whether or not Hoover was directly involved in the assassination, it is clear he played a role in the cover up. Not only this protected Hoover directly, there is a more indirect protection here. The lone-nut theory, clears the mafia from any alleged involvement – protecting Hoover’s secrets from being exposed by his friends in the organized crime business.

On May 2, 1972, Hoover passed away and his body was found by his chauffeur (or possibly his live-in cook). His cook then contacted Tolson, who in turn contacted Hoover’s secretary Helen Gandy. At this time, Gandy went to work shredding all of Hoover’s most secretive files as one final attempt to keep Hoover’s corruption and illegal activity in the darkness.

Since his death, Hoover’s legacy has been tarnished due to the uncovering of some of his illegal activities of wiretapping, break-ins, bugs, confiscating mail, and blackmail. Hoover was discriminatory, racist, contradicting, and viewed everyone as the enemy. He rose to power by punishing those who shared characteristics of himself – African-Americans, homosexuals, and addicts.

Stigma about race, about sexual orientation, and disease of compulsion turned Hoover into a monster. What if he were to unmask himself and join the fight for equality and empower people like Garvey or King? What if the most powerful man in the world told us he was a homosexual, what would that have done to propel the gay rights movement? And what if he sought help for his addiction and freed himself from his allegiance to the mafia?   

A six-page pamphlet written by Hoover in 1957, entitled, “If I Had a Son,” speaks candidly about activities boys should be involved when in their youth. A strikingly odd title for a man who never wanted a son, nor did he ever want a wife. Indirectly, Hoover unmasks himself in this little-known document. In the booklet, Hoover writes:

“If I had a son, I’d do one thing. I’d tell him the truth. I’d never let him catch me in a lie. And in return, I’d insist that he tell the truth. When children go astray, it isn’t the fault of the children but of their parents…I’d try to understand my son. For if I didn’t, I’d be a failure as a Dad!”

The 危機 Theory: The Flutter of a Butterly’s Wings Creates a Typhoon Halfway Across the Globe.

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“Some believe that it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small-every day deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay with Small acts of kindness and love.”

 

In traditional Chinese, the word for Crisis is composed of two symbols. The first symbol, “危 (Wei)” pertains to facing an imminent danger or threat. The second symbol, “機 (Ji)” describes an opportunity presenting itself.

 

Edward Lorenz, pioneer of the Chaos theory, coined the term “Butterly Effect,” illustrating how a seemingly mundane event results in a significantly different outcome than would have occurred without the original divergence.

 

Or simply put, there are no moments in life that are too small and there is no crisis too great. Because life is full of chaos, presenting each moment as a crisis, leaving us with a choice between the Wei and Ji – ultimately determining the course of the future.

 

I find myself saying this a lot lately. Then I think, do I live that way, and the answer is usually not. What is so hard about embracing the moment? We are running and running and we are missing the most important thing, which is that which is in front of us. We think these are all mundane moments and we want the big moment. The truth is, there is no huge moment. For me it was going back to treatment 3 times, psych wards 3 times, and jail 3 times. It is not a failure to return, because each time I was in a different spot. I was progressing further each time. Today I take 1-2 steps back, then maybe a few forward. My miracle did not happen with an explosion, it happened gradually, over years.

There were big moments, but not ever some epiphany. My gradual and eventual recovery came behind a super 8 motel in a building that was half assisted living, and half treatment center, some obscure building in the middle of nowhere that you would never know is a treatment center. Much less the magic that happened in that place. No one knows, but, I do. Does it matter? Yes, every single moment matters. Most of us addicts and mentally ill are always looking for that big explosion of dopamine and the sea to part, the problem is it won’t happen, and by chance it does then what? We are usually so bored with the mundane day to day activities. Sometimes, one small thing, one small decision, can alter your whole world. You don’t know what’s next, we have to stop pretending like we do and like we can control it. It doesn’t matter what we think we control, we control nothing. We only have right now. One of the great men I learned from, his name is Alan. He said “if what you are doing, you are doing with love in your heart, you cannot really go wrong.”

 

How do we know which small moments will change the world. Well, we will likely never see them, but every single moment builds on the last. So the truth is every single moment is huge, and every single moment alters life as we know it. We do not see the results, but it happens. I want to share a story of a man, who to him, made one little mundane choice, and it altered the world forever. He still does not know he did this, it was an everyday activity. The choice he made was one we may say, “Oh man, what the hell this is pointless and interrupting my day.” What I see when I remember this story, is that just because we do not see the results, does not mean every moment does not have a huge impact on the world, because it does. This is not to say to you to have all this pressure on you to think “oh I better do the right thing, it matters too much I have to do the right thing.” You don’t have to think, you just act out of love, and not fear, and there is nothing else to it. That takes the pressure away. That’s the answer, act out of love with each moment. No need to put pressure on yourself.

 

This was a cold day in January. It was about 15 below 0 in the location that this took place. It was a moment in this man’s life that he changed everything. Many lives where altered. Here is how.

My daughter, at the time was 6. We had her when we were very young troublemakers. Her mother “AK,” had left across country with our daughter for a couple years and now they were back in the Midwest. AK, the mother of my daughter, was in the middle of the terrible disease of addiction .She was shooting up methamphetamines and was deeper into this addiction than most people ever see. I mean we are talking hourly, and at a minimum daily use, she was not eating. She had lost tons of weight and would rage at anyone and call them out on their faults if they said anything.

AK, the mother, was being investigated by the FBI. My daughter, who I will call “K” was hungry on this day. She had to eat. Her mother was not feeding her on this day. AK was passed out, and K was hungry. My young 6 year old had already missed about half of the days of school, she had been left with drug dealers and at stranger’s homes for up to 2 weeks’ time. Her mother would not wake up on this day, so little miss K left a note and decided to walk towards my home. Which at the time was in the next state over. With the temperature of negative 15 degrees my daughter and her friend decided to head across state lines and to find me. My daughter, who I remind you was 6 at the time, had no mittens, no hat, and an unzipped coat. I know this because I’m reading the police report as I write this, that’s when I see these details. Going through these old files, I see that this man saw my daughter, and stopped his van. He saw 2 little girls not dressed appropriately walking down a highway and they were freezing. What he did was he called the police and brought them in. As I read this report, what sticks out to me is that it states there was “another van” coming up to her at the same time. I don’t know who was in that other van, but who knows. This could have been tragic. This was his act, his kind seemingly simple, courteous act. One that may seem long ago and meant nothing to him, maybe even an annoyance. However, there are many people that see wrong and do nothing or just drive by. This man didn’t, now I want to show you the ripple effect of his actions.

K, then 6, was started on a child protective case in which eventually she would live with me full time. She had been tardy and was not doing well emotionally or in school, neither was her mother. This man started this ripple effect that brought change to millions of lives, here is how.

K graduated high school early, from 7th grade to 11 the grade, she was on the honor roll, captain of cheerleading team, and went to state in forensics. Now has a job and a life, not free from struggles of course. She struggles severely with depression and has a very hard time with relationships. She has gone to the psych hospital a couple times. But she has the warmest heart in a person I’ve ever seen, she spreads love to the world. She used to take special care of the kids in special needs at high school, she is one of the greatest people alive. She is kind and loving. If he didn’t pick her up that day, she may have been dead or worse. Something very tragic could have happened to her or her mother. She had been neglected, and left alone many times. She had been physically, and sexually abused while her mom was using, or sleeping. She had missed many many days of school. She was behind emotionally and academically. We got her in therapy, we, as a village, took care of her. I had my own demons, so when I say village, I mean my family, her family and everyone got involved. It was a community parenting effort. We got her on track. Well, now she has normal struggles, we don’t talk much, but I’m sure when she grows up, matures, that maybe she will realize what love I have for her. At this point she almost never speaks to me but that is ok. That is normal rebellion and I am way over protective of her because of what I saw her go through. I’m sure she needs to be on her own for a while. I will wait for this time. It is painful, but she has opportunity and happiness.

As for me, she was my whole life. At age 2 she was taken by her mom to Florida, her mom had then told her someone else was her dad. She came back, and we were building a bond after I thought I would never see her again and she was basically lost to me, that is another story for another day. Then her mom, with her depression became addicted to meth. She was deep in it. I was eventually granted sole custody and K was full time in my life. This brought me closer to my family, they helped raise her. This made me appreciate my mom more. I got better for a while and went to school and graduated college the first time, I would go back to finish more school later, but this was the first time I ever finished anything. My motivations was to finish so I could care for her. If not, I likely would have floated through life in depression and drank my life away. Now because I was back on track, I met a great woman, married her, and we had 2 children. Now 4 and 3. They are the joys of my life. They wouldn’t exist, my life as it is now wouldn’t exist, if he hadn’t picked up k. There would be no little ones walking around with me if this did not happen. I went through addiction, jail, treatment myself. But with the love and hope I had on the other side, I got through.

I was going to be an addict either way. That has always been my destiny. However, my reaction to this destiny was now different, that is where choice comes in, is reaction, now I had hope. My addiction and mental health collapse were the best things that ever happened to me, but that is for another day.

My wife, her life was altered as we met and married. We never would have even met if I hadn’t gone to school. I wouldn’t have gone to school without k, without school, I wouldn’t have had that job, and so never would have met my wife. We would have not had these kids. J was a mother figure to k for a long time, while I drank and destroyed things. J took care of her, kept our lives in order. All this does not happen without this man’s action. Why was this good for j? Well you would have to ask her, but when I met her, she was against many things, and closed off so she wanted to work her way through life. Through my addiction, she discovered her codependency, we both found truth. Not the truth we were taught about, but we had an awakening to the truth together. Then my kids, and the love she has for them, watch them together once, she’ll tell you it was worth it. Her family may not think so, due to the pain she has had because of me and in their view, it is one sided. But she does, the kids do. She is a strong, amazing person, her spirituality and soul were developed they this, without his action, this doesn’t happen for her, none of it.

K’s mother then started on an amazing journey. She did end up going to jail, then federal prison for about 12 years. However, she beat an addiction almost no one beats. Became a manager at her job. People want her to talk about how she made it. Her and k are now best friends, get along great, and are great for each other. She is an amazing person and mother. I share her comeback story with many of my patients who are down and think they cannot get their kids back. If he didn’t stop, the cops never get involved, who knows, maybe she overdoses, or dies, or something terrible happens.

 

This man stopping his van and acting out of love, changed the world. I think if he didn’t stop that van, who knows where the world would have gone. He does not know this. We all affect each other in ways like this good or bad.

 

I think of patients I have come across, and the change they have told me I have had in their lives. Well, I wouldn’t be there without this one act. The thing is, once you start offering yourself to do this and to live in the moment and look for opportunities to spread love good things happen. You start to see opportunities not to judge. All of sudden you will see the opportunities arise, it will seem like they just show up more. The thing is they were always there, we just were not looking. This is how ripple effect occurs and how we can change the world.

 

When I say I am here writing this it is by chance, I mean it. One bounce in a different direction and I am the guy on the street corner. I am not here at my job with my kids because I am special, I had resources and things turned my way, it is not me. It is my responsibility to do as much as I can to give it back until my body goes back to the earth. We all are special. No one person is better than the other. I am not one of those people that was born on third base and act like they hit a triple. We have to stop this separation, because separation is man-made, and it’s not real.

 

We have to let go of the results. Just keep throwing love out there and being kind, and looking past the masks that others put up. If you are doing it for appreciation or to see it, your intentions are wrong.

Imagine we are building something, one piece at a time. When it is completed, we may not be here, but the idea and the thoughts will be. Instead of thinking of the past, or the future, just let it go, and think about right now. We feel joy just by giving. It doesn’t have to be something like this act of this man. It can be simply a smile, or letting someone who seems in a hurry go ahead of you.

 

You see you pull these weeds out of a garden and throw them behind you, and keep digging and throwing them behind you. You are tired, you say what is all of this for? What is the point? But behind you there is a beautiful garden that you have built that you may never see. If we all do that for each other, then we all have these beautiful gardens, then no one is trying to take from each other.

 

If you end poverty, you end violence.

 

You may not see the results. But there are results of every action, good or bad. The choice is yours.

 

The end

SHOW ME THE MONEY: A Story About Professional Farts

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“I do not like that man, I must get to know him better.” -Abraham Lincoln

I often hear people wonder out loud why there is such a high rate of recidivism, why do our patients come back, and why is there a high rate of repeat “offenders” in the Mental Health System. We can’t fix Mental Illness they say. We can’t “cure” it. The problem is we are trying to cure the wrong people. It is the staff that needs to be “cured,” or fixed. Not the patients. The patients are not the problem. The staff members and the stigma of society is the problem. I can give many examples of my over 20 years as a staff and patient to describe it. This is one that really sticks out to me.

She walks in she is wearing and old dress, it has stains on it. It may be the only dress she owns. It is green, with tan. She has hair that is getting gray, but it is still brown. She has attempted to put it in a nice pony tail. It is off to the side, the left side. The hair is still very frizzy and sticking up. She is trying so hard. This is a big day for her. She is interviewing to get into this program that will likely get her into an apartment.

That has been her dream, this is the way to accomplishing her ultimate dream, her own apartment. She enters the room with the “team”, she comes to the interview.

She farts, and farts loud. She laughs, it is a loud loud laugh. She says she is sorry that it keeps happening. It happens throughout the interview. She answers all the questions, she seems very nervous. She is trying hard to look her best and be on her best behavior. She has a whiny screechy voice. I watch and I see the “team” roll their eyes and shake their heads in disgust.

After she leaves, the team of Doctors, psychologists, OT workers, Social workers then are to evaluate her and decide if she is a “fit” for their program.

They all are dressed up in their fancy clothes, and they all laugh. They all grab the hand sanitizer and clean their hands, because “she touched my hand.” They laugh and tease her. They mock her hair, they laugh about her dress. They say “ick” and shake their bodies like they just touched a rat.

They are really feeling good about themselves. Remember, these are the so called healthy ones that need to “fix” and “stabilize” this patient. They are all getting paid over 100 dollars an hour, each of them, to analyze this woman. If they accept her, their program gets 8500 dollars a month to “treat” her.

The owner is there, she teases the patient as well. The owner goes to France 3 times a year. They all tease her. I know, I was in the room. I was new, I was watching. They accept her to their program, only because they had 3 open beds and they needed the money to pay for their vacations, they said this. Then they mocked her. Money, Money, Money, Money.

After her admission, I got to know her. She had a screeching type whiny voice that sounded like fingernails against the chalkboard. That loud laugh, then the farting, the gas was nonstop. It was a big joke to the staff and the patients.

Everyone blew her off, and no one wanted to talk to her. She annoyed everyone. So she isolated. She was crying uncontrollably one day and came into my office and sat down.

I wanted to say I was busy, but for some reason I didn’t. She said, “Please help, just listen to me.”

She told me about her dream and how nice she thought she looked that day of the interview. She told me that was the best dress and she saved it for so long for her big day. She wanted to impress these guys so much. She practiced for hours about what she wanted to say. She did practice interviews. She told me how she would do whatever staff wanted. She wanted that apartment so bad.

The thing is, they didn’t really care. They didn’t listen to her. They rushed it, it didn’t matter what she said, and they were focused on how “icky” she was.

They were feeling superior. They took her because they had open beds, they wanted money. This was the biggest day of her life, and the “team” they didn’t really care not one bit. What they cared about was getting her out in the hour, so they could admit her and leave on time.

She heard the mocking, the teasing. She had to take it. She wanted the apartment. The counselors never really met with her, the groups only lasted 10 minutes, and no one really asked her about her medications or what was going on.

They didn’t want to deal with her. They were annoyed. She was a thorn in the side of their day in which they did nothing and collected pay for it.

She made them pay attention and that bothered people.

I sat down and talked to her. She cried. She knew, she heard. Why was she always farting? Was it a medication?

N0.

When she was 4. She was raped by her father continually. Then he beat her when she told. He slammed the kitchen table against her stomach, over and over and pinned her against the wall with the table. This all crushed her insides.

He jumped on top of her and beat her. She was age 4. Around the same time that the doctors at the same age were worried about what was for dinner and where they were going on vacation that year. This was happening. This is happening somewhere near us every day. It is happening to someone right now.

She had to have most of her insides removed. This created the farting. But no one cared. The staff were “annoyed” The doctors and psychologists were worried about filling the bed. They don’t want staff to: “feed into this attention seeking behavior.” They said “use your boundaries.” “We don’t need to talk to her when she is doing this for attention.”

This is how they guide treatment. Well, I didn’t listen. This story was then confirmed by records we were able to get.

This is why the mental health system is broken, not because of medications, not because it is untreatable. Not because of people that were institutionalized. Not because they are so “violent” and “dangerous.” In fact mentally ill people have less occurrences of violence than the general public.

The term Mentally Ill is a terrible term. Mental Illness in this culture, in America, is considered this bad thing.

In other cultures it is a healer waiting to be born, in other cultures mentally ill is a term used for those that live in excess.

The reason the system is broken is because of 75% of the people that work in the system are like this. This is changing, I want it to change more, it is coming, and the revolution is coming.

This is why I will keep writing about these things. I have sat in team meetings for the last 18 years hearing stuff like this.

This won’t be over, and I will not be done until we have stopped the feeling of superiority and labels and trying to find what’s “wrong” with people.

Until we stop treating people like this it will never change. Sure we will react when there is a school shooting, or some tragedy happens. We love to react. To over react after the crisis. When we do that, we completely screw it up. We are having an emotional reaction to an event so we overdo it.

We can prevent that by dealing with it right now, everyday. Simply by engaging people and talking to them and showing them that we have love.

Next time you see someone that annoys you, or that you just seem to not like for no reason. Maybe it’s time to get to know them better.

That is how we change things. Sometimes people do whatever they can to “get attention.” A whine, a cry, a yell, a fart.

Either way, it is just that, a cry for attention.

When we see that, it is not time to “put up our boundaries,” as the so called professionals will say, it is the opposite, it is time to let our guard down and remember we are all in this together.

Boundaries create division. Money creates division.

Love brings us back to humanity.

Fight on.

Til the end.

addiction mental health stigma

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