The U.S. and Greenland

Equality

Marriage Equality

As of June 26, 2015:

To date: 23 countries have legalized same-sex marriage: Argentina (2010), Belgium (2003), Brazil (2013), Canada (nationwide 2005), Denmark (2012), Finland (eff. 2017) France (2013), Greenland (Oct. 2015) Iceland (2010), Ireland (eff. TBD) Luxembourg (2015), Mexico (nationwide, eff. TBD) Netherlands (2001), New Zealand (2013), Norway (2009), Portugal (2010), Slovenia (eff. TBD), South Africa (2006), Spain (2005), Sweden (2009), Uruguay (2013), Untied Kingdom (England and Wales, 2014), United States and territories (nationwide 2015).   ~LGBTQ Nation

This year, the US Supreme Court took up the case of Obergefell vs Hodges, and same sex marriage became legal in all 50 states and the territories.  We stand shoulder to shoulder with many other nations, including Greenland!

Stage right, enter Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky.  (First syllable of Rowan rhymes with “how.”)  She is the county clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples because it violated her “religious freedom.”  A judge threw her in jail for contempt of court.  Now that the clerk’s office has begun issuing licenses, Davis has been released on the proviso that she does not interfere with licenses being issued for same sex couples.  Former governor of Arkansas and presidential contender, Mike Huckabee, used the occasion to make a media splash.  We’ll see what happens next….

I am a huge supporter of religious freedom, but it should not be a cover for homophobia and bigoted attitudes.  Well, one can have their attitudes, but one cannot use those attitudes to abrogate the rule of law and deny other citizens their equal rights.  Religious freedom belongs to Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and Wiccans, as well as Christians.

Charee Stanley is a flight attendant for ExpressJet.  She was suspended recently for refusing to serve alcohol to passengers because it violated her religious freedom.

After defending Kentucky clerk Kim Davis’ refusal to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Wednesday would not say whether a Muslim flight attendant should be able to deny alcohol to passengers on a flight.  ~TPM LiveWire

That’s what I’m talking about!!  I was listening to a program on NPR this morning, and I heard the most compelling argument.  What if a Quaker refused to sell a gun to a hunter in a red state because of her belief in pacifism?

No one is asking Davis herself to marry a woman!  She’s only being asked to do the job she was employed to do at some $80,000 per year.  We’ve heard similar reasoning back in the day when interracial marriage was still illegal.  This is why we have the Supreme Court, and the Court has made its ruling.  Time to get on the bandwagon and join hands with Greenland!

Terms and Conditions of Use

All content provided on this DogDharma blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  Views are an expression of the blog owner’s opinion only.

Once again, no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site is claimed.

The owner of DogDharma will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Posted in Charee Stanley, gay marriage, GLBT, Kim Davis, LGBT, marriage, Mike Huckabee, same sex marriage | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dangers of Recovery Forums for Survivors of Psychopaths

chaos

I have not seen my psychopath in 2 1/2 years.  It’s been a long road to recovery, and perhaps like the AA philosophy of once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  However, one does move from victim to survivor.  With deep introspection, one learns how one was vulnerable in the first place.  Though the outcome, if one is fortunate, brings insight and strength, it’s a journey I would not wish on anyone.

When one encounters a psychopath, one gets lied to, used, abused, cursed, belittled, and in the worse cases, possibly even murdered.  It’s a battle for one’s soul.  The lies are so Himalayan, reality becomes a fog.  The relationship so toxic, one is ready to strap on the strait-jacket.  Then comes the “aha!” moment, when the pieces begin to fit together in a coherent pattern.  One stays mired in denial until the pain of something cataclysmic pushes one back into reality.

At that point, the victim begins to read and learn about psychopaths.  It’s now a fashionable topic.  Many books, many documentaries, many movies, many blogs, many articles — and many forums for recovery.  It’s the latter I want to address briefly.

Not all forums are created equal.  Look for the profit motive.  Is a forum tied to a book and vice versa?  Do some math on the number of forum members and the cost of the book, and notice the request for donations.  Such forums may not have your best interest at heart.  In fact, they may impede your healing, or traumatize you again.  If they are making a profit off of your suffering, they are not serving your best welfare.

If you have joined a forum, and things don’t quite feel right, pause and give it some thought.  Are you required to adhere to a particular “party-line?”  Are certain members bullied for inexplicable or petty reasons?  Is there a hierarchy where the moderators must be bowed to?  These are a few signs of a toxic environment.

One well-known forum forbids any discussion of what made the victim vulnerable in the first place.  Words like “co-dependency” are verboten.  This is a stilted injunction against “blaming the victim.”  Now, rightly so, no victim should feel shamed or blamed.  The tactics used by psychopaths are akin to psychological warfare.  But to move from victim to survivor, one must eventually ask, “What was my Achilles heel that got me into this mess?”  That is NOT blaming the victim; it’s called learning from mistakes.  Yes, it is painful to shine the mirror on oneself, but it is part of what makes you stronger and less vulnerable in the future.

Any forum that limits how you go about your own healing in the way you need to is an impediment.  You can re-hash your story till the cows come home, and have all sorts of theoretical discussions about psychopaths, but if you are precluded from thinking for yourself, you are in a toxic environment.

A healthy forum will give you support as you go through the stages of denial to understanding to acceptance, and then you are ready to move forward.  You’ll have one step forward, two steps back, which will eventually become two steps forward, one step back, which will eventually lead to healing, and you won’t need to be a part of the forum any more.  The purpose of the forum should be to help you and gently guide you so that you come to that point where you don’t need it any more.

Here are a couple of blogs on a similar topic:

Beware of Recovery Forums

Sycophant Free

Terms and Conditions of Use

All content provided on this DogDharma blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  Views are an expression of the blog owner’s opinion only.

Once again, no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site is claimed.

The owner of DogDharma will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Posted in danger, forum, psychopath, psychopathy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Trust

Trust is truly a gift of the soul.

Trust is truly a gift of the soul.

Having spent a good long while now — much longer than I would have thought — studying the nature of good vs evil and psychopathy, I come to the conclusion that cognitive dissonance is the most shattering part of dealing with people who lack conscience.  In my blog thus far, I’ve shared many of my experiences encountering such people with candor and bold honesty.  There’s that old quote, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

I have been trust-impaired, meaning I have trusted too easily, even in the face of evidence that my trust was misplaced.  To be fair, this goes back to my relationship with my mother, as does my quest to understand the nature of good vs evil.  We come into this world helpless and we learn about trust from our care-takers.  By all rights, the one person we should be able to trust — in order to have a good start in life — is our own mother.

Unfortunately for me, I had a mother who was not trustworthy.  On the other hand, I had a father who was gentle and imminently trustworthy.  My mother did not know how to nurture, and I was an object to her, an inconvenience, and a puppet to be used for her own gain of love and admiration.  She didn’t take proper care of me, did not protect me from a world that can be cruel, and added her own doses of cruelty to boot.

I’ve long since tired of analyzing my childhood experiences, but they are instructive in how a human being can become trust-impaired.  Like a Shakespearean tragedy, my mother was not to be trusted, but my father was a paragon of trustworthiness.  Unfortunately, he died when I was young, leaving me — seemingly — in a quandary.  Yearning for that sense of safety he had provided for the briefest of whiles, yet getting smacked down time after time by my own mother.  And the disconnect was lodged in my psyche, hindering my ability to know when it was wise to give my trust to others and when it was dangerous for my well-being.

Learning when to trust and who to trust begins in early childhood.

Learning when to trust and who to trust begins in early childhood.

When I was an adolescent, I took notice of Janis Joplin and still adore her music legacy.  She did a song called Trust which might have been my theme song or which might have been a warning call:

Years ago, I read the classic book by Ann Rule about famed serial killer Ted Bundy, The Stranger Beside Me.  Recently, I re-read that same book along with another by Stephen Michaud and Hugh Aynesworth called The Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy.

Ted Bundy has become daggered into the public imagination as the iconic psychopath.  What many people fail to grasp is that Ted is on the far end of the spectrum, but that psychopaths walk among us who may not be serial killers, but their affect on our lives — the lives of their targets and innocent victims — is destructive and calamitous.  Until one has encountered a person without conscience — yes, until one has been caught in their web of deceit fueled by their charm — one cannot understand the scope of the dynamics at play.

Studying Bundy and his depravity and the impact he had on the lives of the people who entered his orbit is revealing.  Aside from the heinous and barbaric acts he committed, he used the same tactics and M.O. you will find in your “garden variety” psychopath.  A charming narcissist who was admitted to two different law schools and who was involved in state-level Republican politics, who would have guessed his avocation was killing young women and engaging in necrophilia?

Ann Rule, who had been a policewoman and who wrote pieces for True Detective magazine, encountered Ted Bundy when both of them answered crisis calls at a suicide hotline.  The “Ted” known to Ann Rule was a handsome clean-cut man who could soothingly talk a caller out of suicide.  No wonder she was rocked to the core when she began to suspect that he might be involved in the cases of missing women in her region.

As a writer for True Detective, Ann Rule had close working relationships with many local detectives.  She was privy to details of the cases of the string of women who vanished so elusively.  And ironically, her big break had come when she’d signed a book contract to write about the cases when they were solved.

One can hardly imagine and only shudder at the ravages of cognitive dissonance Rule felt over time, as clues began to point to her “Ted” as the perpetrator!  On a grand scale, this is what all of us who have been ensnared in the spider web of a psychopath experience.  Ted #1, the charismatic and handsome fellow who softly guided people in the depths of despair out of bleak notions of suicide and who studied law and who socialized with the Washington state political elite versus Ted #2, the maniacal serial killer who feigned broken limbs to arouse sympathy and quell doubts as he lured his victims.  The two images are irreconcilable and clash from top to bottom.

Our “garden variety” psychopaths may be one of our parents, our siblings, our children, our boss, our neighbor, or our romantic or domestic partner.  My heart especially goes out to the latter because I’ve been there.  Close friends can see we are clearly being deceived, manipulated, and abused, or worse.  They watch helplessly as we crumble.  And they become exasperated because no amount of counseling and listening and talking to us until they are blue in the face can assuage our confusion or deter us from remaining loyal even as the evidence mounts.  We carry our own version of Ted #1 and Ted #2, and the twain do not meet.  Bundy had already been convicted of kidnapping, and Ann Rule could even still not quite fathom that he was actually guilty.  She wrote him letters of comfort and sent him money for his prison account….   If someone with her background in crime-writing and detective work was still not disabused of Ted’s innocence, the rest of us can be forgiven for our lingering cognitive dissonance.

Be careful who you trust....

Be careful who you trust….

For those of us who are trust-impaired, the wisest advice is to listen to your gut.  Many potential Ted victims survived because they did just that.  The “psychopathic stare” is often written about.  Over and over, potential victims and witnesses talked about the “creepy” look in Ted’s eyes.  Superficially, he might have seemed like an ordinary guy, quite polite and well-spoken.  When a psychopath rests his or her gaze on you, it’s not out of interest or love or admiration or infatuation — it’s the stare of a predator after prey.  Somewhere deep inside you, you will sense the “evil.”  Honor that feeling.

Yeah, it’s disheartening to write about such things.  So much nicer to think about flowers and rainbows and unicorns and warm hugs from special doggies.  Life doesn’t come with an instruction booklet.  (Some of wouldn’t read it anyway!)  Sounds jaded to offer a reminder that everyone you meet is not to be trusted.  Maybe these lessons are better learned the hard way, but I still subscribe to the words of Emily Dickinson:

IF I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.


Terms and Conditions of Use

All content provided on this DogDharma blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  Views are an expression of the blog owner’s opinion only.

Once again, no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site is claimed.

The owner of DogDharma will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Posted in cognitive dissonance, psychopath, Ted Bundy, trust | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Dust

Moondust

DUST

Troubled waters
Ain’t the storm,
I need you
To keep me warm

Jagged pieces
Torn apart,
Would you look
Inside my heart?

Dreams and songs
Scattered dust,
On the moon
’Tis only rust

Touch my soul
Take my hand,
You write poems
I understand.

Posted in poetry | Tagged | 2 Comments

F*ck It List

Bucket

We are all our own worse critics:

  • Should do….
  • Shouldn’t do…
  • Should’ve done…
  • Shouldn’t have done…

My “to do” list has grown to a Master To-Do List with infinite sub-lists.  The bright and shining people talk about “bucket lists” and we are in awe when we see them tick off items when the best we can do is languish on our sofas in despair.  This is what depression does to one.

I have stolen an idea from President Obama.  He recently spoke at the annual 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.  This man is a comedic genus.  If you haven’t seen it, take the time to watch:

2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner

Mr. Obama says that he has been asked if he had a bucket list.  He said, no, he had another list, implying a “f*ck it list.”  What a great idea!!!!  Life hasn’t been easy for some of us.  We have to start where we are and keep in mind what we’ve been through.  We need to not judge ourselves harshly for what we have or haven’t done, but appreciate what we have done that has moved us forward, one baby step at a time, at our own pace.  So…  here’s a starter F*ck It List for anyone who is feeling discouraged:

  • Didn’t get the garbage out?  F*ck it.
  • Didn’t mow the lawn?  F*ck it.
  • Wasn’t up to washing the dishes?  F*ck it.
  • Didn’t go to the gym?  F*ck it.
  • Ate potato chips for dinner?  F*ck it.
  • Laid awake all night wishing the stars would twinkle?  F*ck it.
  • Indulged in a cold bottle of beer?  F*ck it.
  • Stumbled over a pile of dust-bunnies?  F*ck it.
  • Didn’t get that resumé out today?  F*ck it.
  • Had a weekend movie marathon?  F*ck it.
  • Didn’t change the world?  F*ck it.

If you managed to get out of your house and smile at ONE person, you’ve done all that needs doing.  And if you didn’t manage to get out of the house, smile at yourself in the mirror.  You deserve love as much as anyone, and you can accomplish that by being as kind and gentle with yourself as you would be to someone else.

Terms and Conditions of Use

All content provided on this DogDharma blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  Views are an expression of the blog owner’s opinion only.

Once again, no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site is claimed.

The owner of DogDharma will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Posted in bucket list, depression, f*ck it list, healing, judging oneself | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Kindness

Kindness

The past few days have been a study of personal endurance in the face of overwhelming odds.  For the many kind people who have followed my blog, and managed to grasp the gist of my struggle, those amazing souls have cheered me on and given me hope.

I really do not want to re-hash past history, but a very quick — I promise! — summary.  I had my cornea transplant on January 13.  All seemed to be going well — and possibly is still on course — but on last Thursday, I had my second post-op appointment which was rather depressing, alarming, and disappointing.  While my vision has improved a tad, with more improvement possible, I was told that the pressure in my “bad” eye had sky-rocketed to 40.

Not good.  The most likely cause for the increase in pressure is that the shunt in my eye has become blocked by scar tissue, and if that is the case, the only remedy is yet another surgery to implant a new shunt.  The medical complications are worrisome enough, but for me, the daunting part is the transportation to and from the hospital.  And to date, I have had to depend upon the help of my social worker.  He has not been helping me because it’s required by his job description, but because he is a kind human being who cares.  Yet I know it is a burden, and I cannot guarantee how long he will be able to help without too much sacrifice to his own career and well-being.  Yet another surgery will mean even more post-operative appointments.  A series of seemingly endless 2-hour round trip drives to Baltimore.

In preparation for the cornea transplant, I had a good 3 weeks of not smoking cigarettes under my belt.  One of my older posts is about how I started smoking later in life, something that appalls me and shames me.  I had carefully arranged to have enough food in the house for myself and my dogs.  I had done my laundry and put clean sheets on my bed, and done everything humanly possible to make certain that I could care for myself after the surgery, when I would be restricted on lifting and bending, and even “straining on the toilet.”  Yes, TMI, I know, but there’s a lot that can make a cornea transplant go wrong.  I was determined to make it all go right this time.

But then the bad news at the last appointment set me back.  I had exhausted most of my food supply.  Bed sheets needed to be laundered again, and more work to be done.  But how could I accomplish that with another possible emergency surgery looming?

This is how bad things were, prior to my cornea transplant:

Cigarette - 4 Cigarette - 3 Cigarettes - 2 Cigarettes - 1

As can be seen, the situation was pretty dire.  But despite the depressing news at my last ophthalmology appointment, I was determined that I would carry on with the 3 solid weeks of being smoke-free, and had even gotten an estimate for my “smoking room” to be cleaned and rehabilitated.  (The guy came with his measuring tape, took notes, and I’m still awaiting his actual estimate.)

The despair was rather profound.  This afternoon, I perused my email.  Here is Greenbelt, we have a local Yahoo list-serve run by a fellow I won’t mention.  The way he runs the list-serve has been to the consternation of many residents.  Despite being openly gay, he curiously espoused a conservative ideology, seems to enjoy race-baiting, and constantly stirs up fears of rising crime in our neighborhood.  Meanwhile, he has the list-serve set up such that there is much divisiveness and tends to selectively allow what opposing viewpoints get posted.

This afternoon’s volley was a link to a Washington Post article:

George Will: Vermont’s Bernie Sanders has mountains to climb

Folks who follow politics will know that George Will is a staunch conservative, and that Bernie Sanders is an impeccable independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats and who is considering a bid for the forthcoming presidential election.  Bernie may be up there in years, but as to what he stands for, I cannot think of a finer candidate.  The article by George Will is full of baloney.

Naturally, we all have our political proclivities, usually grounded in our early experiences and the world views we hold dear.  I don’t want to do a political analysis of the article, but I could if I had the patience.  “Sanders says his idea of socialism exists in Europe’s social democracies, which he considers hugely successful.”  This one line is what makes me see red, not in terms of poor eyesight, but in terms of understanding the larger forces at work in today’s political landscape.  The social democracies of Europe are not perfect.  But having lived in England, which is not the best of the best, I know first hand that the gist is — for the more fortunate to provide a safety net for the less fortunate.  In my view, the most compassionate way of governing.  The opposite view, a “survival of the fittest” mentality means that those who truly need help fall between the cracks.  People do not get the health care they need.  Will (and conservatives) seem to prefer the paradigm where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and corporations are “people” who don’t pay their fair share of taxes, while everyone else descends into poverty.  “Trickle-down” economics never trickles down.  I really could rant on and on.  The Scandinavian social democracies, in particular, are often cited for their high level of happiness — because it’s the general welfare of the populace that matters, and not the almighty dollar.  So reading the piece by George Will did not help my frame of mind.

Thankfully, the Washington Post article had a link to this:

Are you raising nice kids? A Harvard psychologist gives 5 ways to raise them to be kind

Much of my blog is about psychopaths by dint of my experience over the past 5 years.  The above-referenced article is an antidote to psychopathy run rampant on a large scale — raising kids to be kind and compassionate.  If you are a parent, it would behoove you to read the article in its entirety.  The enlarged-upon suggestions are:

The five strategies to raise moral, caring children, according to Making Caring Common:

1. Make caring for others a priority

2. Provide opportunities for children to practice caring and gratitude

3. Expand your child’s circle of concern

4. Be a strong moral role model and mentor

5. Guide children in managing destructive feelings

I am reminded of the old movie Elephant Man starring Anthony Hopkins, John Hurt and Anne Bancroft.  The movie is based on the true life of John (Joseph) Merrick who lived from 1862 to 1890 and suffered from Protheus Syndrome.  Full stop, it was one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen.  Merrick had a terrible condition that caused him to look like a hideous monster, but beneath the deformities that afflicted his body, he was a kind and gentle soul.  His story of survival is a testament to human perseverance in the face of incredible odds, due in part to the kindness he received — kindness that is sorely lacking in this tired old world.

Then, I found another YouTube clip that pairs nicely with the second Washington Post article I referenced above:

As for me, the craving for nicotine overcame me this time.  Too many hours alone with too many obstacles ahead of me.  As I made my way to the convenience store that sells cigarettes, I was walking beneath the pedestrian underpass as a silver-haired woman walked toward me.  As she approached me, she called out my name, and grasped my hands.  “Terry, it’s B…  We missed you at church today and we prayed for you.  How are you doing?”  With embarrassment, knowing where I was heading, I gave a quick update on current ordeal.  That simple act of kindness, coming a little too late to forestall my backslide, convinces me that I will somehow struggle on.

I’ll have my urgent appointment in Baltimore tomorrow and find out if an emergency surgery for a shunt replacement is necessary to lower my eye pressure.  God is looking after me, even when I feel all alone in the world.  There is simply no way to express the depth of gratitude for the people who have been kind to me when I needed it — including me therapist who has gone above and beyond in getting me back and forth to Baltimore, and to my friend, L, who calls me daily to check on me when I’ve been distracted and grumpy and dispirited (we may disagree on politics, but she has a heart of gold).

Writing a post to remind people of the importance of kindness and compassion is the best I can do at the moment, in the way of “paying it forward.”  Honestly, these simple acts of kindness are the way to make the world a better place.

Terms and Conditions of Use

All content provided on this DogDharma blog is for informational and entertainment purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.  Views are an expression of the blog owner’s opinion only.

Once again, no representations as to accuracy, completeness, correctness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site is claimed.

The owner of DogDharma will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. The owner will not be liable for any losses, injuries, or damages from the display or use of this information.

Posted in Bernie Sanders, cigarettes, compassion, Elephant Man, eye surgery, George Will, healing, John Merrick, kindness, parenting, psychopath, psychopathy | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments