Last Words

Well, it’s really over.

I mean, it’s really been over for a year, but it’s really, really over.  On Friday, November 15th, I received a blank text message from Alan.  Literally, just an empty bubble.  I was out driving so it took a minute for me to process what had happened, to realize that this was a message from the man I love who had ripped my heart out of my chest and stomped all over it with glee.  (Clearly there is something very wrong with me.)

I believe I am a, mostly, sane and rational person, so if I had somehow managed to send an accidental blank text to someone I had had zero interaction with for 7 months, I would have followed that text message up with something along the lines of, “That was an accident.  Sorry to disturb you.”  So I waited.  I waited to see if he would send some sort of explanation.  No explanation came.  For five days.

Look, I will freely admit that I have not handled every part of this experience in the healthiest of ways.  I’ve spent the last year of my life stuck in a terrible place, holding on to a sliver of hope that somehow he would be the exception to the norm.  Somehow, he would be one of the few that actually achieves self-realization, faces who they have become, and seeks help to heal.  Because of this delusion, I have kept an eye on his on-line activities, not to monitor him, but to have an idea of what’s going on in his life and where he might be in this process.  I knew that he had not used his Grindr profile in about three to four months.  I knew the he had logged off of Scruff the day after Labor Day and with the exception of three times that I could tell, 1) to delete his profile picture, 2) to block me from his account, and 3) to unblock me a few days later, he had not been actively using Scruff either.

Suddenly, he was back on both apps.  He had updated his profile picture on Grindr, and added one to Scruff, both the same picture, (one that was taken when he and I first started dating, which he had sent to me via text when he was off on a nature adventure with his friends.  Could be a coincidence, but as this drama unfolds, it becomes harder and harder to believe anything he does is by accident).  He was back on the apps, pretty constantly, as he was when he first dumped me – as he does when he is “single”.

This information, coupled with his “accidental” blank text, gave me a pretty clear picture of what’s happening, but I wanted to give him a chance, the benefit of the doubt, as it were (though that is a loaded statement and not something I give him any longer).  So after five days and no further contact from him, I sent a simple message:

“Was there something that you wanted to say?”

Two hours and five minutes later her replied, “My phone screen’s acting up lately.. sorry.”

“mmmm.  okay.” I replied, knowing that his answer was completely implausible.  I can think of no feasible way that he accidentally sent me a blank text message after seven months of silence due to his phone screen acting up, unless he has had zero text communication with anyone since the last time we interacted.

“How are things?” he asked me, as if there was no tumultuousness in our history and my disbelief was not clear in my response.

The last time we interacted, he was cold, aloof, and indifferent to me.  Theoretically willing to try to be “friends”, but not anything more.  I knew then that I couldn’t do the friendship thing and, painfully, I let the communication drop.  This time, I knew he wanted something, but I didn’t expect him to be nice.  Regardless, I was not going to let my guard down.  I was not going to feed him, and give him any information to use against me.

“Better question is how are things with you?”  With every message I sent I expected hostility, for the façade to drop and for things to go awry.

“Same old same old, I guess. I’m moving (again). Lol”

“I figured you would,” I replied.  “I would ask to where, but I’m sure you won’t tell me.”  Last year when he moved, while we were theoretically still in each other’s lives, he wouldn’t tell me where he was moving to.  He would invite me over “when he was ready.”

“To Fremont,” he answered to my surprise.  Fremont is a big town with a lot of apartments, but its still more than I expected.

While still dating, we had a conversation once about where we would live if we were to move in together at some point.  He works for the fruit phone and his office is in Sunnyvale, California, my life is in Oakland.  Obviously, we would need to find some place in the middle, except he was unwilling to do so because his commute across highway 237 would suck (to be fair, he is right).  But now suddenly, after we are no longer together, he is moving farther north and east and farther away from work.  (Also, he works and worked from home most of the time so the location wasn’t especially relevant since he doesn’t actually make the commute very often.)

“Intersting,” I replied.  “So much for your commute you were so protective of.”

“It’s a good deal,” was all he said.  His current roommate was moving out and his lease is about to expire.  “I think it’s time for me not have room mates.”

I reminded him that I had told him when we were first getting serious that he should have the experience of living alone at some point before settling down “with someone” (meaning me, of course).  He said, “Haha you did.  Still single so..🤷🏽‍♂️”  An innocent enough comment on it’s own, but loaded with subtext under the circumstances.

He asked about me again, but I evaded the question, saying simply, “As you said, same ole same ole.”  He said he wouldn’t pry any longer, and that he hoped I was well.

I asked, as I needed to know from the beginning, “Don’t guess anything has changed since our last conversation.  Still not interested in going to therapy?  Still solving all your problems with the gym?”

He confirmed that he is not going to therapy but stated that he’s been more open with his friends which he suggested has been helpful.

“For what it’s worth,” I said, “I try to keep texting to a minimum these days.  I’ve learned that it leads to misunderstandings and problems.  I’m open to real conversations via telephone or face to face, but minimal texting…”  he acknowledged this and I went on to say, “Also, when I say ‘real’ conversations, I mean conversations about real things, not small talk and not bs’ing.”

“Noted,” he replied.

I had all I needed to know.  Of course, I can never know for certain, but from all that I have experienced with him, all the research I have done since he dumped me and everything that has happened since, I was able to draw a pretty clear picture of the situation.

SIDEBAR:  There is a website called quora best described as Yahoo Answers, on steroids, upon which I stumbled by accident in the early days, and now I get regular “digests” from them in my email.  It is disheartening, to be honest, how many people have questions and answers about dealing with someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) and what that implies about how rampant this evil actually is, but I am also grateful for the site and the people on it, from whom I have learned so much about this situation.  On Quora, and I’m sure in many other arenas, the victims of narcissists, and NPD abuse are referred to as “supply”, because that’s how the Narcissist sees us, not as human beings, but as a “supply” of the adoration and admiration they believe they so richly deserve.

Typically, a narcissist cannot be without supply.  They are usually looking for the next supply, even while they are in the devaluation phase of the narcissistic cycle with their current supply.  One post in the forum referred to narcissistic supply as being like air.  You can hold your breath for a few seconds and its no big deal, but pretty soon things start to look pretty grim without air.  For a narcissist, being without supply is the same.

I already know, by his own admission, that Alan “cheated” on me once while we were together. I put quotes around cheated because since we had never discussed and agreed on exclusivity, he didn’t actually cheat, but since he did it behind my back and waited four months to tell me when it would have the most hurtful impact, we’re going to go with “cheated”.  He admitted to doing it once.  I wouldn’t doubt it was much more than that.

I digress.  Here’s what I believe happened and lead to his “accidental” blank text.

Alan met a new supply on Grindr sometime around late July or early August.  Alan stopped using Grindr so that New Supply would believe that Alan was all in.  Clearly, Alan thought that New Supply didn’t use Scruff so that was safe.  For two months, Alan would still get on Scruff pretty regularly, but not as often as he had done before.  Due to the afore mentioned unhealthy behavior on my part, I saw in my favorites, that Alan was within seven miles of my house all of Labor Day weekend (I live 31 miles from his apartment in Milpitas).  On Labor Day, Alan returned to his apartment and logged off of Scruff.  Other than three instances mentioned above, he had not been on it again.  One guess is that he got caught by New Supply so he stopped using Scruff as well.  Again, I’ll never really know.

Regardless, the week before last, New Supply wised up.  Clearly he is smarter than I.  New Supply kicked Alan to the curb and Alan was caught unprepared and without a new New Supply lined up.  Alan logged back in to both apps, updated profiles and pictures and started actively hunting for the next supply, only, as we have seen, a narcissist cannot be without a supply for long so Alan thought, “Hmmm…  maybe I can lure Kevin back in to fill the void.  It won’t last, but he loves me and I was able to dupe him before, I’m sure I can drag him back in for a bit.”  And lo, the “accidental” blank text message was born.

He didn’t count on me having wised up, too.

I made up my mind.  I knew what I had to do, but I didn’t want to tip my hand prematurely.  On Wednesday, I sent Alan a text message.

“Is there any way we could get together tomorrow for a cup of coffee or a walk or something?  I feel like there’s more to our conversation from yesterday and as I said, I prefer in person these days.  My schedule is wide open.”

He responded with, “tomorrow would be a bit busy for me in the evening.. tonight, I have dinner plans with some friends, but I’ll be done by 8:30.. that wold be nice though”. (A narcissist always has to control the situation.)

“I have to work tonight,” I said.  “Right now actually.  And it’s Dreamforce. I made a bunch of money in a short period of time last night.  It would be dumb for me not to drive after work.”  (I am an Uber and Lyft driver as well as a Massage Therapist)

“Nice! Ok, we can play it by ear tomorrow then.”

First of all, “play it by ear” with Alan, is always a no, it’s just a no that is designed to string you along and keep you waiting on him for hours before he lets you down.  I didn’t hold my breath, and on Thursday when I had heard nothing from him, I went on out and drove some more.  Around 7:00 I looked at his profile on Scruff and he was 112 miles away.  (So…  he knew he was going out of town on Thursday, but he wanted to play Thursday night by ear?)

I reached out and he confirmed that he was out of town, “But we can still talk if you want,” he told me.

“I’d rather meet in person,” I said.  “I’d like to schedule a get together for when you get back.  I’m out driving right now.”  I did not expect a response.

Scruff told me, on Saturday, that Alan was on his way back.  Yesterday morning, he was 16 miles away, so I reached out again. “I’m available after 6 tonight or anytime tomorrow.”

His response: “Let’s play it by ear tonight.  I’m spending time with the fam today and have other things on my plate.”

“‘Play it by ear’,” I said, “is always ‘no’.  When can you get together, or do you really not want to?”

Over an hour later he answered with “Reaching back to you is a wrong move on my part.  take care and wish you the best.”  and then he blocked my phone number so I couldn’t reply to him.  But he couldn’t so easily block me on scruff.

“God you’re such a childish coward, shooting of your rude message and then blocking me so you don’t have to deal with the aftermath.  But at least you’re predictable.

“You’re absolutely correct.  Reaching out was a mistake on your part.

“I really wanted to get tougher so you could hear my voice, see my face and not be able to project your own anger and hostility onto my words, as I know you will now do.  I wanted you to know that I am not angry.  I am sad and I pity you, but I am not angry.  I also wanted to give you a chance to say your peace like a grownup and maybe we could walk away from each other with little shared dignity and respect.  I guess you’re not really capable of that.

“I can’t stay on this roller coaster with you.  I know you don’t believe it, but if you are not a narcissist, you absolutely have many narcissistic tendencies and serious emotional issues that need to be addressed.  I believe you are a full blown narcissist and you have proven it over and over.  This exact situation helps prove it again.  Do yourself a favor and research it, in depth!

“Therefore, as much as I still do love you, I do not ever want to hear from you again, unless you are in therapy and taking it seriously.  That is what I wanted to talk to you about in person.

“I’m not going to block you and if fate makes us cross each other’s paths again, so be it, but your message last week was nothing but a fishing expedition and I saw through it from the start.  You can’t keep doing that to me.

“The next time you contact me, if you ever do, the first thing you have to say had better be, ‘I have been in therapy…’

“I’m sorry it has to come to this.  I really hoped for more for you and I really hoped we could find a way to be in each other’s lives, but you have proven yourself to be a good person who does horrible things.  I love the good person, but I can’t watch and I can’t be a victim of the horrible anymore.

“I hope some day you find the peace you need and find a way to be mentally and emotionally healthy.  If that ever happens I’ll be happy to hear from you.  Until then, do not contact me again.”

Of course, I expected a response.  I expected cold, callous, unfeeling disdain.  I got disdain, but…

“Is that all you have to say?  Have you not said enough?  I actually thought that we actually can meet and have an adult conversation.” (That’s why you refused to commit and then blew me off?) “But apparently, you already have a projected image of my ‘full blown narcissistic’ tendencies.  That’s your opinion and everybody’s entitled to that.  I’m sorry if my behavior has caused you so much pain.” (Not actually an apology.) “If this is your way of projecting yourself, and to actually find closure, so be it.

“As far as I’m concerned, my relationships with my friends and family were never toxic, nor did I even try to play with theirs nor any body else’s.”  (Of course as far as you’re concerned.  A narcissist would never see it any other way.  Also, the grammatical incorrectness and missing words are verbatim.  I used to attribute this to English being his second language, albeit one he speaks fluently, but again, I question whether it’s deliberate vagueness.). “That was never my intention and I believe you have already said your peace over and over again – may it have been unsolicited or not.  If you never found peace sending me an unlabeled mail, stalking me on LinkedIn, and now assuming immediately that I am trying to avoid hearing what you have to say in person, then you will never be at peace.  Ever.” (I sent him a letter after the last time he blocked me before I could respond to him and I deliberately left the return address off to increase the odds that he would actually bother to read it – he did.  I have no idea what stalking him on LinkedIn is supposed to mean.  How could I not assume you are trying to avoid hearing what I have to say in person when you blocked my phone number?) “I feel bad for you.  I actually thought you were sane.  Your life choices reflect a lot about how you think.  I see it over and over again.  You were a mistake.  Everyone around me who has met you were right. (Four people with very limited interaction and no knowledge of who I am or what I’m about.  Two were his roommates who were almost never home when I came over, and two were people who he told me at the time, said they “approved”, but whatever.) “The fact that you cannot even hold a decent relationship with your own family is true testimony to your projections.” (My family is abusive and hurtful.  Self preservation is not the same as “cannot hold a relationship”, but he never bothered to familiarize himself with these facts.) “I cannot be a part of that, nor comply to your unsolicited assumptions and/projects of who I am.  Keep telling yourself I need professional mental help.  If that helps you sleep at night and move on.”  (It does, because it’s clearly true.)

This is an example of a narcissist who has been rejected and how they become unhinged in response.  His only objective here is to hurt me as deeply as he can muster as a final assault.  Despite how it may sound to some, he did not hurt me.  The commentary above is to put into perspective for those who do not actually know either of us just how insane his rant really is.

Nevertheless, there was one error on my part.  I genuinely wanted to keep the dialogue focussed on behaviors and not on people.  So I sent one final message.

“I will offer you one apology in that I should not have said you are a childish coward.  I should have said it was a childish and cowardly act.

“I won’t bother to respond to your message as there’s no point.  I think we can both just count our blessing that this is over and move on.”

Four hours later, he responded with, “Please do”

It was all I could do not to send one last message.  “Last word!”

The Innocent

A few years ago, after several years of consistent writing (and a fair amount of therapeutic results), I had to stop writing on this site.  You see, my brother had stumbled upon it unexpectedly. I never wanted my family to know about it because I wasn’t ready for my family to really know me.  My brother was the worst possible member of my family to be the one to find this blog because he does not have the first clue about respecting people, let alone boundaries.

After finding the blog he spent an entire weekend reading through the entire thing, and apparently, making notes about every single thing that he felt painted him in an ugly light, was, in his mind, inaccurate, or in some other way pissed him off.  He sent me a lengthy, angry email about all of this and told me I had no right to write, and say, the things I did.  He then refused to unsubscribe to the blog because, he said, I needed to be held accountable for the “slanderous” things I had and might say about him.  “Slanderous”, of course, equals wrong.

I tried to maintain control of my circumstances.  I moved my blog to another platform, but he hunted it down.  That platform, unlike WordPress at that time, allowed me the option to block his IP address, and email address so that he wouldn’t be able to see the blog, but he knows a lot more about computers than I, and he utilized some technological wizardry to force his way in.  I tried setting up a whole new blog, but ultimately, it just didn’t feel right.  This is my blogging home.  So I gave up and I lost something that had meant so much more to me than just a place to exercise my writing ability.

As if all the harm he had done to me over the course of my childhood hadn’t been enough, he had taken away the one thing that, at that time, offered me some hope for healing and achieving peace and happiness for myself.

Some time later, I found this on-line:

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I’ve posted this here before, but it is relevant today.  You see, part of the work I’m doing now is to figure out who I am. Not who I need to be to make other people happy or like me.  Not how to live up to the expectations that others place on me to make me acceptable in their eyes.  But who I am.  For me.  Today.  And always.

My life is mine.  My stories are mine.  What has lead me to this moment, to this point in my life, I own that, and I can do with it as I please.

I no longer wish to hide from anyone.  I no longer wish to live up to anyone else’s expectations.  I no longer wish to seek approval or blessing from anyone.

Going forward, in these pages, there will be no name changes “to protect the innocent”.

THERE ARE NO INNOCENT.

If people want me to write warmly about them, they should behave better.

Because You Gotta Have Faith

I didn’t get a job that I interviewed (twice) for last week.  I’m really disappointed.  I really wanted that job and I was really optimistic about it after my interviews.  I texted my mother to tell her I didn’t get it, because I knew she was wondering.  She called me back to tell me, “don’t despair over it, honey. God has a job for you.”  She proceeded to tell me how I just have to be faithful and trust that God has the job for me.  Oh and that I should be going to church (like there’s a comfortable church that would have me) and that I should be giving 10% of the money I can’t afford to spare to that church, because apparently, even though I was taught growing up, that God wants to bless me financially and that He can do anything, the only limit to that awesome, unlimited power is His ability to bless me financially without provocation.  Apparently, that’s just not possible.

For the record, I do not believe that.  I believe wholeheartedly that God can and will bless me.  I believe wholeheartedly that God does have a job for me.  And I believe He will provide for me.  I’m just not 100% convinced He will provide for me in a way that I feel good about.  I don’t believe for a minute that I will be homeless.  I know that I have friends and family who will take me in if push comes to shove.  I know that I will not have to be the troll under the bridge (and by the way, BayAarea?  Count them…  The bridges, not the trolls.)  I’m even relatively confident that I will find a job that will prevent my utter financial collapse, before I have to move out of my apartment.

It’s just that, well, I’ve been through a lot.  I’ve made considerable efforts toward that job.  I’ve applied for things that I didn’t want to do, knowing that I was surely qualified.  I’ve applied for jobs as file clerks.  I’ve applied for jobs as grocery store Cashiers.  I’ve applied to staffing agencies which, in the past, were completely reliable to get me working, even if it wasn’t for enough money.  I’ve applied to COUNTLESS jobs that are exactly in my wheel house, right up my alley, catered to my unique set of qualifications.  I’ve been ignored and turned down at nearly every turn.  I’ve had a handful of telephone interviews, each of which went wonderfully and ended with assurances that I would be called in for face to face interviews, only to have the person never contact me again.  I’ve had an even smaller handful of face to face interviews, each of which ended with me feeling utterly confident about my chances, even if I wasn’t 100% sure it was the best fit for me.

And then last week happened.  I had two interviews, first with the hiring manager, then with his manager, for a job that was perfect for me.  Possibly a little beneath my abilities, but something I could build on, with a company at which I could confidently build a reliable career, lots of opportunities for advancement.  I was told repeatedly that there was no doubt I was qualified for the job.  No question that I would be able to fulfill the responsibilities of the role with ease.  I was told that I was excellently qualified…  and that, in truth, that was the only thing that might work against me.  I’m “overqualified”.  I’ve heard it more times than I can count.  I’m too qualified for a Facilities Coordinator position.  And you know what?  That’s true.  I am.  The problem is, I’m not quite qualified for the next step up.  I’m ready to take that next step, but nobody wants to hire me for that step, because I’m missing a few key components that I ought to have.  I get that.  I understand it, and that’s why I’m willing to start in a Coordinator position, so I can get my foot in a door, and work my way up to what I’m really ready for.  But if everybody thinks I’m “overqualified” and doesn’t want to hire me for that reason, what the hell am I supposed to do?

My mother went on and on about how God has a plan and there’s a job out there just for me, and I shouldn’t worry because it’ll happen.  The fact is, I’ve been hearing those messages my whole life.  I’ve been taught not to speak negatively because “words have power”.  So I don’t.  I don’t tell my friends how I’m running out of money, and I’m scared that I can’t afford to continue to live in my apartment and how if I don’t find a job soon, I might  have to move out of state and live with one family member or another, who doesn’t accept my sexual orientation and who doesn’t want to (or can’t afford to) support me, not that they should have to, and that I can’t even make any assurances to anyone that I will work and pay my own expenses while living with them, because if I can’t even get a fucking grocery store cashier job, what can I possibly hope to expect?

I get it.  You don’t walk around moping and spilling your guts to anyone and everyone who will listen about how horrible your situation is and how dire things are and how scared you are because there is NO livable solution that involves moving away, because you don’t want to be spewing all that negativity into the ether, or the universe, or whatever you believe in, because again, apparently, God can only bless you and provide for your needs, if you’re speaking positively about it, because God’s will and power is inhibited by negativity…  apparently.  (Except it’s not.)  The problem is, if you never tell anyone the truth of your situation, then no one knows you need help.  No one, who might be inclined to offer assistance if they know you need it, can do so, because they don’t know you need it.

Thinking strictly about my current financial obligations I have about a month and a half to two months worth of money left, assuming I’m very careful and don’t spend any more than I must.  That does not account for giving my fabulous landlady 30 days notice if I have to move out, and it does not account for moving expenses if I have to move away and it does not account for having money in the bank when I get wherever I’m going, because I can’t face the idea of moving and I’m holding out hope for something to come together at the last minute and save me from that devastation of having to move.  (Honestly, I’d rather die.)

But at some point, you have to speak the truth.  You have to tell someone what your circumstances are so that people understand what you’re dealing with.  Is it really necessary to give the person a sermon about faith and positivity in that moment?  Can’t we just let the person vent their frustrations and understand, sympathize, without making them feel guilty for “not being faithful”?

One Non-Parent’s Opinion on Child Rearing

“Why do you have to act like that?” the woman asked her young child, anger and disdain dripping from her tongue.

This was the latest in a long stream of spewed venomous words that had me checking the transit app for a different route home just so I wouldn’t have to listen to it.

“Stop pushing her!” the woman had yelled so loudly, as soon as she and her three kinds were on the bus, that it startled me from my reading and made me jump.

“Stop whining,”  She snapped moments later, “I don’t want to hear all that!”

I don’t want to hear all the yelling, I thought to myself as I turned the volume on my phone up to what I had hoped would be deafening enough levels to drown it out. It didn’t work.

Finally she said it, “Why do you have to act like that?”

And I thought the only answer that made any sense: “Because you don’t love her!”

——

I have a friend with a six-year-old son.  I hear her yelling at him all the time.  The boy is just being a boy.  More importantly, he’s being a boy in a room full of adults.  He’s being a boy, in a room full of adults, who is trying to get noticed.  Because isn’t that what little kids want?  To be noticed?  Paid attention to?  Acknowledged and validated?  Isn’t that what everyone wants?  This little boy, isn’t trying to be bad.  He isn’t trying to be destructive.  He isn’t trying to be a brat.  He’s trying to fit in, to belong, to be part of the group, even though he can’t fully assimilate with the adult crowd.  But instead of trying to understand those things, instead of trying to acknowledge his needs, she yells at him to stop whatever it is he is doing, and when he looks at her with puzzled and hurt eyes, she gets indignant that he “just keeps behaving this way”.

——

My whole life I’ve been amazed when I’ve been out in public and kids have been asking for their parents’ attention and the parents ignore them.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“Mama!”

No answer.

“MAMA!”

No answer, but the objective observer can see the parent’s patience wearing thin.

“MAMA!!  MAMA!!”

“WHAT!?!?” the angry parent yells at the child.

By now, whatever the child wanted seems trivial and unimportant to the parent, compared to the annoyance she feels at the child’s persistent demand for her attention.  Because I generally observe these behaviors out and about, the child is usually asking the parent “Can I have this?” or something like it, to which the parent angrily answers “No!  Put that down!  Stop touching things!”

——

I want to be clear here.  Dad’s are just as guilty of these behaviors.  I’m not deliberately singling out mothers.  It’s just that my friend is a woman.  The parent on the bus today was a woman.  And misogynistic as it may be, it’s usually mother’s that are out doing the shopping with their children.  These are the examples I’ve observed.

—–

I understand.  I know it’s hard being a parent, especially if you’re doing it alone (though my friend isn’t).  I know it’s a thankless and never-ending job with no breaks and no vacations.  I know it can be tiresome.  But being a parent is also a job with no excuses.  You can’t take a day and just slack off.  You can’t put off being a parent until later while you relax and surf the internet and ignore the job.  Children are alive 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that means that parents are parents 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Every interaction a parent has with a child is a moment in that child’s personal development.  Every one!  Each experience builds on the last.  While a parent might say, “He’s just working my last nerve, today.  He just needs to shut up!”  The child is thinkingall she does is yell at me.  I just want her to pay attention to me and love me.  Maybe this will get her to pay attention.

In my experience, children are far more capable of reason, than we give them credit for.  No, they’re not as advanced as we are.  We can’t explain every dynamic of a situation to a child and expect them to understand, agree and comply, but we can tell them what is expected of them in simple terms, for finite periods of time, and expect them to comply fairly closely.  We can, in small bursts, give them specific information about what we want from them in a situation and expect them to do as they’re told, even if they don’t understand why.  (And by the way, we can tell them why, even when we know it won’t make sense to them, because again, every interaction is a moment in that child’s human development.  Over time, it will come together.  They will begin to understand.)

—–

It’s raining buckets today.  When this woman and her three children boarded the bus at the train station, they had gone a long way out from under cover to get to the door of the bus.  Of course the offending child wanted to get on the bus and out of the rain, as quickly as possible.  Maybe the child shouldn’t have been pushing and maybe the mother should have addressed that, but there was no need to use the tone she used with the child and make the child feel unloved and humiliated.  There was no reason to attract the attention of everyone on the bus while she “reprimanded” her child.

My friend’s young son does not desire to misbehave, he doesn’t even know he’s doing it.  And while some of his behaviors are inappropriate and need to be brought to his attention and corrected, it’s not necessary to shout his name, in a room full of adults he loves, and yell at him to stop doing something.  It would be just as easy to say his name in a stern but loving tone and direct him to come to her before telling him why what he was doing was not okay and that he needs to stop.  Even if it happens again, the same tactic can be used before informing the child of the consequences of his actions if he persists.

And that parent and child in the store?  Gosh, wouldn’t everyone involved, including the innocent bystander, have been happier and better served if the parent was paying enough attention to the child to respond the first time he called out (and really, in a public place, shouldn’t a parent have one eye and one ear on their young child at all times?)

So often, I’ve observed parents getting angry at their children for behaviors that have persisted for too long, when the parent did not say a word to the child when the behavior began.  If the child wasn’t told from the start that the behavior was unacceptable, how was he to know?  At that point, really, isn’t the bad behavior the parent’s fault and not the child’s?  I think so.

—–

What’s the point of all this?

I know from first hand experience the damage that can come from a parent that is too self involved to give their children the time and attention they need, and the fact is, children need a lot of time and attention.  But you see, when a person makes a decision to be a parent, whether it’s by planning to have children, adoption, or choosing not to give up the child that was “an accident”, they are also making a commitment to that child to help the child become the best human being they can be and in order to do that, the parent must be the best parent they can be.  And that will never include ignoring a child when they need the parent’s attention, or yelling at the child for no good reason (and by my estimation, the only good reason is when their safety is in imminent danger and the parent needs to get the child’s immediate attention, or when the child has belligerently disregarded the parent’s direct orders and no other means of communication will get through.)

Children often need discipline, but that discipline can and should be administered with love and compassion, not anger and impatience.

There.  I think I’ve finished with the soap box if someone else would like to use it…

Probably Not So Popular Opinion

I usually look forward to Fridays here on ye old blog.  Well let’s not kid ourselves.  I look forward to Fridays in general and I know I’m not alone in that.  Fridays are meant to be wind down days.  If you can work from home you probably do (I, sadly, do not have that luxury).  Certainly you work with less vim and vigor than you probably do the rest of the week.

I have been looking forward to Fridays here on the blog lately though, because that’s when Write on Edge posts the link-up for the Red Writing Hood prompts that I’ve been participating in lately.  It is not my intention to be bragging (so if it sounds that way, I’m sorry) when I say that I usually bust those short fiction pieces out in the course of an hour or so.  The hard part with those prompts isn’t writing the pieces, it’s deciding what I’m going to write about.  Sometimes the prompts seem so vague and indecipherable.  I usually figure out something eventually though.  Most of the time I just have to kick my literal thinking mind out of the way and let it be a little more – well, vague.

This week though, that just didn’t work out.  This week’s prompt goes something like this:

This week we’d like you to stir up some conflict, using the following quote as inspiration.

“It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.”
Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Well…  Not “something like” that.  That’s a cut and paste, so it goes exactly like that.  Only the problem is I’m not sure if I truly understand the quote, and what I think I understand of it, I do not agree with.

Honestly, the quote seems to be self-contradictory.

I do not believe in violence, period.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.  I do not believe in violence.

I also do not really see a connection between “be violent, if there is violence in your heart” and a “cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.”  How these two things even relate to each other, I do not know.

When I read the quote though, the first thing that comes to mind is some of the recent political protest activity that has happened around this here country of ours.  Thinking specifically of the “occupy” protests or, going back a little further, the Oscar Grant riots that happened here in Oakland a while back.  Things that were supposed to be “peaceful” but turn violent without much provocation.  Things that I heard lots of people argue in favor of, under the guise that “you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet.”  Sounds like a “cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence” to me.

Only we aren’t impotent.  We can do something.  There are steps we can take that don’t involve breaking laws and destroying public or private property.  There are ways we can get our point across without belligerently disobeying the police.

Angry does not have to mean violent.  It does not have to mean disruptive.  It does not have to be destructive.

Impotence is laziness.

Impotence is an excuse.

If anything we tend to use violence, not nonviolence, as the cover for impotence.

Your Gay Friend Doesn’t Speak For Me

A few months ago, a friend of mine, whom I know not to be racist or homophobic or otherwise filled with hate posted a comment on Facebook to which I took offense:

The cars with the reindeer decorations are gay. I have seen 2 today

I replied by saying that I didn’t realize cars could be gay, to which she said this one was.  I said, “Dislike” since Facebook hasn’t been kind enough to provide an “I don’t approve of this” button – yet.

A friend of her’s, someone she knows face to face (I’ve only known her through on-line interactions) responded and said that there’s nothing wrong with saying “gay”.  I agree, and I said so before adding, “it’s not OK to use ‘gay’ as a derogatory statement.”  He provided a nasty, spiteful comment that doesn’t bear repeating and that really demonstrated to me that there’s still a long way to go, even in the realm of gay’s bashing each other.  And I opted to see my way out of that conversation.  The last thing I saw before “hiding” that “story” from my timeline was a statement from my friend who said that she meant no harm by it, that she would never want to hurt me and that there was no “cause for ‘ugliness'” as a result of her comment.  She said that her gay friends have “given me permission” to make gay jokes.

The other day, after a much too long absence from her blog, she talked about “Me and my bestest queer* are going to…”  The asterisk pointed to a footnote that read, “*He allows me to call him the queer so it’s fine.”  One has to question:  Why was it necessary to point out his permission, if “it’s fine.”  Clearly my friend is aware of the potential for offense at the comment.

First, let me say that I am not calling this friend out, personally.  This is a commentary on society, which uses these two relatively recent events as examples of the issue I’m discussiong.  I’ve made a point of not naming her and I’m pretty sure she’ll be the only one who knows who I’m talking about, so let me also say that she is the only one who could out herself if she chooses to comment on this post in a way that will make it clear that she’s the one I mean…

Second, let me say that I know my friend is not a homophobe and that she does not personally harbor any ill will or negative feelings about me, or the gay community as a whole.  On the contrary, she loves us.

Third, let me say that I don’t, personally, take particular offense at the use of the word “queer”.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word queer as:  Different from the normal or expected : strange.  So, maybe I should take offense at the word, but I don’t.  Just like I don’t take offense at the word gay.  Personally, I am gay, and that’s not a bad thing.  I am not queer, because there’s nothing different or strange about me.  However, when those words are used to describe anything or anyone with a derogatory connotation involved, then those words are offensive to me.  And they ought to be offensive to you, too!

So here’s the thing.  In discussing this friend of mine and her “bestest queer” (whom she revealed to me, in a separate communication, that she refers to as “the queer”) she can call him whatever she wants in private conversation between the two of them.  If he has no problem with her referring to him as “the queer”, than more power to them.  If he doesn’t feel that saying something which she clearly doesn’t like “is gay” is a derogatory use of the word, and she wants to say it to him; more power to them.  But just because the two of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, doesn’t mean the whole world agrees with them.  It doesn’t even mean most of the world agrees with them.  And I’ve got news for the two of them:  It doesn’t even mean that the majority of that particular community agrees with them.

So, okay.  The two of them are having a private conversation and she wants to tell her friend that cars with reindeer decorations on them are gay, and he thinks it’s funny, but they happen to be having this conversation in the middle of a restaurant and other people hear them.  That is not a private conversation and instead of making a funny joke, they’ve just utilized hate speech.  To the people in that restaurant, they’re not two people having a joke, they’re a couple of homophobes (or at the very least, very insensitive people), using a perfectly valid word that describes a perfectly valid portion of our society and comparing them to something that is unwanted and negative.  You can make the argument that “it’s a private conversation between the two of them” if you want, but it’s not.  It’s just not.  (Certainly Facebook isn’t.)    And just like that (*snaps fingers*) It’s not “okay, because my gay friend gave me his permission.”  Your gay friend doesn’t speak for me.

But let’s take this just a little bit further.  Let’s say my friend and her “bestest queer” agree that it’s not okay to use this language in public, but they are sitting around in the “bestest queer’s” living room using gay slurs (in a “humorous way”) and making jokes in which the term gay is used in a derogatory manner and they both think it’s funny and they’re completely at ease with it.  How long is it going to be before one of them slips in public and makes one of those jokes where other people can hear (or read) them?  When you allow yourself to think of something as being okay in private, before long you start thinking it’s okay in public, too.  Before long you lose your perspective and you stop censoring yourself when it’s appropriate to do so.

Even worse!  Suppose my friend and her “bestest queer” think I’m crazy and there’s just no way they would slip up in public and so it’s okay to make there jokes in private, just between the two of them.  This friend of mine has a young son; a toddler.  If she and her “bestest queer” sit around her house behaving this way, not only are they losing their own perspective of what’s appropriate, but they’re setting the example for her son that it’s the proper way to behave, or even worse teaching him that there really is something wrong with being gay, teaching him to judge, hate or otherwise criticize homosexuality, and if he happens to be gay, there’s a good chance that he could feel shame and fear of telling his parents because it’s been portrayed as something to be made fun of.

Outsiders do not get “inside jokes”.  The people around you can not read your mind.  The only thing people can go by, in understanding your beliefs and developing a sense of who you are, is your words.  It is necessary, therefore, that you use a sense of good judgement in determining how you use certain terms in modern society.

A person can make the argument until he is blue in the face that he doesn’t mean any harm with the use of certain words, but the bottom line is, when you use a term, like say, “gay”, in a context in which that term does not fit by definition, like say, “cars with reindeer decorations are gay”, one can only go by what they hear (or read).  Webster’s dictionary defines “gay” as:  1. Merry.  2. Bright and lively, especially in color.  3.  Inclined toward social pleasures.  4.  Homosexual.  — n. A homosexual.  I don’t think cars are capable of either emotion or sexual identity/behavior, therefore, I can only assume the statement is a derogatory statement which should not be made.

The bottom line is this:  No matter what is in your heart, when you make a statement that has a negative context and you use a term that describes a particular section of society (particularly one that is already persecuted) to convey that negative context, you are, in fact making a statement of hate.

And it should. not. be. done.

Rides and Monkey Poop

“I’m in the process of getting over myself,” I told the small band of do-gooders sitting around me.

It was my weekly meeting of advisors for my Building Emergency Response Team (BERT) program and we were discussing deployment of our website.  This website isn’t a new idea, nor is it a new product; it’s just something that hasn’t been in our control and hasn’t been properly maintained

Years ago, I asked for access to the site so I could make sure the data relevant to my buildings was kept current.  I was told I would have it and then the matter died there with no fulfillment or follow through.  The site remained out of date and the person whose job it was to maintain it, the person who, coincidentally enough holds the title of “systems administrator”, couldn’t be bothered to keep up with it and wouldn’t post the updated information in a timely manner.  No one seemed to care about this, besides me… and my 230 “clients” who utilize the information that was chronically out of date.

My little band of helpers and I started looking for another way to make this information available.  My company has its own “Facebook” type site on the intranet and we set up a group for the BERT program, but the information we were discussing, that needed to be readily available and easy to find, would get lost on that site as newer items were added and pushed that information further down the page.  Not everyone on my council is as jaded as I am.  Some of them still hold the mistaken belief that things can be done properly around here.  They wanted me to ask for access again.  I explained to them that I had done so more than once and that the end result is always run-around and disappointment and it’s reached a point where no one wants to listen to me about it any longer.  The perception is that I’m the rabble-rouser, troublemaker and that the Systems Administrator is doing nothing wrong.  So some of the more optimistic participants of the group took it upon themselves to contact my boss’s boss on my behalf and request the access for me.

Somewhat to my surprise, no one got upset that it was requested.  No one came down on me for stirring things up, or for sicking my “underlings” on them.  A week or so later, I got a simple e-mail with a user name and password and a link to the administrative portion of the site, ironically hosted on WordPress.

On closer examination, however, I discovered that the site I had been given access to was an entirely new site.  The old site had not been on WordPress and the decision had been made to move everything over for easy of use.  As I perused the information that was available, I discovered that none of the properties that I work with were included in the site.  No pages even existed for my properties.  Nearly a week later, I got an e-mail from the Systems Administrator asking me to let him know when I had time to talk (on the phone) so he could show me how I could create the pages.

I discussed this with my manager and the conclusion that we agreed on (shocking, I know) was that it is the Systems Administrator’s job to build the site; the only thing I had ever wanted was the ability to keep the downloadable documents up to date.  My manager sent an e-mail to the Systems Administrator and CC’d me asking him to create the pages for our buildings so that I could update the documentation.  His response?  “The pages are created, Kevin just needs to copy and paste them from the other buildings.”  My manager didn’t respond and no additional action was taken until a couple of days ago when I sent him my own e-mail and copied my boss saying, “Can you tell me when the pages for my buildings will be created so that I can add the documents to them?”  His response, once again, was to tell me to let him know when I was available so he could tell me how I could create them.

Now, rationally speaking, I realize that it’s not going to be all that difficult for me create the pages and customize them to my buildings.  I realize that it will get the job done more quickly and my cohorts and I can get on with our project.  Ultimately, I understand that it’s the thing to do.  It makes more sense, I suppose, at least to most people, and it would be a lot easier on me, just to go ahead and do the work and get on with my life.  I get that… Really.

But the problem is, I can’t bring myself to do it, at least not yet.  I have such an egalitarian perspective on life that it stops me being able to shrug my shoulders and go on with the work.  I believe so strongly in right and wrong, fair play, that it hurts me to do something that I feel violates that sense.  I see it as a much bigger picture than just me getting my website built.  Here is a person who doesn’t do his job and pushes it off on other people.  A person whose customer service (and we are his customers) sucks.  He makes no effort to understand his customers’ problems, he doesn’t communicate his answers clearly and he doesn’t do what’s asked of him, by the customers he serves, in anything like a timely manner. 

And no one does anything about it!!!

Something needs to be done, and of course I realize, I’m not the one to do it.  No one will listen to me; I’m only one man.  Only then the thought comes to mind, “Martin Luther King, Jr. was only one man.”  Except, I guess he wasn’t only one man once he actually accomplished something.  He was a leader of many men and women who believed in his cause and followed his example.  Something I’m not going to be able to do here and in this situation.

I have yet to convince myself that my creating these web pages isn’t an endorsement of this persons behavior, and while this is a simple and small thing for me to do and only a small part of his job, it literally makes me ill and angry to consider doing it for him.  I mean, literally, I can feel tears burning behind my eyes just thinking about it.

How do I make this rational knowledge of simplifying my own existence translate into a psychological peace with performing the act?  I do not know!  Because it’s not fair!

K’s father has a saying, “A fair is a place you go to ride the rides and step in monkey poop.”  (Actually most of his dad-isms involved poop in one way or another.)

I wish I could figure out how to reconcile the knowledge of what has to be with my reality of its wrongness…

I’m still in the process of getting over myself.