Archive | Justice

Letter to a Stalker, Abuser, Illegitimately Legalized Resident, Unregistered Sex Offender, Textbook Sociopath…and My Ex

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(Photo Credit: Jeremy Thomas)

 

This was not a part of my life that I wanted to share so openly or soon. However, my ex, as accurately characterized in the title, recently came into my radar by interacting w/one of my posts on FB. Before I get to the letter to him, a little background:

I met Adalberto Jose H. (aka “Alex”- the name he stole from his brother who was stuck in El Salvador when Adalberto snuck into the States) when I was 17 – just short a year of my brother’s death anniversary. The death catalyzed the journey of hell each person in my family would embark upon for the following 20 years, so at that point, it was still a raw wound, a perfect portal for infection.

I was sheltered, religious, and had to make sense of why our loving, happy family “deserved” such a thing. When Adalberto showed his first signs of stalking, which I didn’t understand at the time, I thought that his persistence meant that I should give him a chance. Maybe we were too close as a family – we never needed anyone else. Maybe we were stuck-up and didn’t even know it. Maybe this guy wouldn’t take no for an answer because he was my test to allow someone outside of my family in. That was the fatally flawed reasoning of a broken, confused, grieving, adolescent girl.

This then-illegal immigrant found out that I was an American citizen from our first conversation, and did not only start digging his claws into me to gain “papers” into this country, but he tried to “destroy my life” (his words, once he got legalized permanent residency through me) and threatened harm to my children whom he used as “anchor babies.”

I would not be his only victim
. He started having an affair with a Filipino high schooler, “Dee,” who had a pregnancy scare because of him at one point. She was 16; he was around 30 by that time. When I found out, I asked her sister to set up a meeting for me with Dee.

Dee was a small, young girl who was in love with this man who’d told her he was separated, and was married to a horrible, abusive person. When she found out I was nothing like what he’d said, she was confused. She told me he had instructed her to let me, essentially, unleash my fury on her when we met, to let me beat her, do whatever I wanted to her because I’d be mad. He was a coward who shielded himself with the innocent.  Because she was in love with him, she’d unhesitatingly agreed.

Of course, I never had any intention of harming her. She was a victim like I was, and I wanted her to think of her life and future, to not fall into the trap that I had.

Now, nearly 20 years after having left him, he shows up w/a week-old FB profile using a pic of himself and my kids when they were little as his profile picture, which he posted just a day before reaching out to me.

As much as I hate to admit something that I know would give him great pleasure, I freaked out. Part of it was trauma-memory, part was an understanding that this guy has not changed, in the worst ways.

When I’d escaped that relationship nearly 20 years ago—and it was an escape effort, carefully coordinated very much in the way Katie Holmes “escaped” Tom Cruise (whom, coincidentally, Adalberto had a man-crush on and wanted to be just like)—I’d discover that I’d entered a new chapter of fear. He could now hit-and-run. Worse, he’d use his legal paternal rights to harm me “in ways no one can see,” as he’d promised after the first time he got arrested for domestic violence towards me. (He’d kicked me because I wanted to leave. Before that, he’d given me a black eye – just in time for my final exam, for which I had to wear dark sunglasses, indoors, on a cloudy day. But he got a freebie with that one.)

The man had zero relationship with nor interest in the kids – he didn’t know their birthdays, nor favorite colors, nor anything anyone resembling a parent would care about. He never shopped for gifts for them, didn’t show up for holidays, never spent time with them unless his family/friends invited him to do something w/their kids. Even the small things were telling, such as how he’d use their displayed artwork as scrap paper, or how he’d give them the worst parts of food he was eating (i.e. inedible fat of meat that he was going to throw away). And these were while we were together.

Even still, after I’d escaped him, I tried to encourage a relationship with him and the kids—initially. He never wanted visitation, nor to pay child support. He would only call a week or two before each court date (which was months apart) to ask for them, for show. Everything he did that looked decent was for show – he was even capable of making real tears come out to persuade people of something he would be completely lying about.

The kids were never stupid – they knew who he was, and didn’t think of him as a father. They knew what love looked like, because they had me to see the extreme contrast.

At some point, a mother cannot continue to tell her children that what they see with their own eyes was unreliable, that their intuition on good or bad people cannot be trusted, that their mother is unable or unwilling to see the truth, as well. They knew Adalberto never cared about them. They were simply used as pawns to stay in America, and then to trap me through the system, abusing his legal paternity rights.

So I acknowledged their concerns, and we lived in fear. I knew that it brought him joy to see me afraid and suffering, so I appeased him with it more, to protect my children best I could.

20 years later, he’d seek out the woman he’d used, abused, and terrorized, flourishing pics of these innocent kids in his usual preposterously false narrative.

I could ignore him, sure. But he has not had enough, apparently, and I will not become small again, nor run away to allow him full rein in a country and world I helped open up for him.

I also hate bullies. It’s time.

I’M WRITING THIS for anyone who has been or is still in an abusive—physical, emotional, and/or psychological—relationship, and for their loved ones who understand—or don’t understand—and suffer and fear for them.

I’m writing this for my beautiful children, who are so good, courageous, and stronger than many—including themselves—may know.

I’m writing this for my friends, that they may get to know me better, and that I may get to know who they are better.

I’m writing this for those who have been hateful to me out of jealously from their own issues – not to feel sorry for me, but to hopefully give them insight into what has made them struggle with having an open, gracious heart.

I’m writing this for “Dee,” in hopes that she may finally see the value of women being there for one another, bearing witness, standing up and speaking up for each other.

I’m writing this for the Good in the world
, to help set it free and unbind it from shame, to place the spotlight onto the darkness and force it to be known, not only to bring awareness to others, but for its own sake.

Now, where were we, “’Berto”?

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

DEAR ADALBERTO/JOSE/”ALEX,”

STOP RIGHT THERE.

First, the girl you are looking for, the teenager who was lost and confused by her brother’s death,

– the one to whom you told you were 18 when you were 22 after she told  you she was 17,

– the one to whom you showed pictures of your ex and her mom and said were of your sister and your own mom,

– the one to whom you did not reveal that you were already married for “papers” in exchange for money with another woman, until you got this naïve girl pregnant and told her she needed to help you stay in this country through legalized marriage,

– the one whom you said caused her own brother’s death because she “was a bad person,”

– the one to whom you started openly being abusive and cheating on once she answered, “yes,” to your repeat question, “So no matter what, now, they can’t deport me?”

– the one to whom you said you could freely kill if she were in your country,

– the one to whom you admitted years later you kept trying to get her pregnant to “ruin” her body and make her life “very difficult” if she tried to escape,

– the one to whom you promised to harm without leaving marks anymore, because you were “smarter now,” and so started threatening to harm her through her children instead,

– the one whom you enjoyed scaring by jumping out from behind bushes after she’d left you,

– the one whose family and friends you’d try to move in on to slander her, when you never had a relationship with any of them prior,

– the one whose 14-year old brother you’d gotten to start smoking, and whose little high school girl friends you’d start proposing to give rides home,

– the one whose mother gave you a bird as a gift, which you later killed by snapping its neck with your bare hands and telling her later, laughing,

– the one who was so scared of you because she knew you were sick and evil, and knew you would hurt her in any way you felt you could get away with,

THAT girl is no longer here.

I am speaking on her behalf; let me introduce myself.

I AM THE ONE

who survived a family tragedy, a family’s destruction, betrayals of all kinds, and over a decade of physical and emotional abuse and threats to my children’s safety by a jackal of a man (that would be you);

who learned to recognize women who are going through abuse, men who are sociopaths and abusers,

who learned to distinguish between anger and grumpiness from beautiful hearts, and fake smiles and crocodile tears from ugly ones;

who learned to trust her instincts, speak up for others, fight for light in darkness, to beat darkness;

who has been guided, by a higher power, out of your clutches, and been protected by guardians of humanity on earth,

who walks in the company of many intelligent and strong individuals who would see through you as easily as she did and does, and who have no fear of you like she once did but doesn’t anymore,

who believes in the power of love, but will go to war for justice;

who will lead every unwitting victim, that dark souls like you seek to trick and trap, devour and devastate, to become a force of strength for good that will bring you your greatest fear: Justice & your day of reckoning.

YOU WERE A MAN WHO MANIPULATED A TEENAGE GIRL lost in mourning, statutorily raped her, and groomed her into being your baby-making, English-speaking scuttle-mouse slave.

IT DOESN’T MATTER that you grew up in a culture where beating and raping underaged girls was acceptable. You’ve told me the stories with pride. My ESL Salvadoran students have told me the stories with disgust. I’ve read blogs by Salvadoran women who have escaped, sharing the same stories, with anger and determination to bring awareness.

IT DOESN’T MATTER that you were always hungry to take from innocent, beautiful things, because you were an empty black hole which could not create its own light.

YOU WERE NOT INNOCENT. YOU KNEW IT WAS WRONG. You knew that here, in America, it is unacceptable, and quite illegal. In fact, much of what you’ve done while in this country, to me and others, have been illegal. You knew very well what you were doing, so you’ve always been careful about hiding it, lying frequently and effortlessly to everyone, including me (until you got your papers finalized).

You’ve only gotten arrested for 1 thing (while with me). And apparently, you’re still not locked up. You’ve been lucky, far, far beyond your worth.

But by reaching out to put “feelers” on me recently, you were basically STALKING a person who has had a protective order against you, whom you knew, under no uncertain terms, would have every reason to repel any form of contact by you, dangerously PUSHING YOUR LUCK.

You see, all those years I was imprisoned by you, I was weak and confused, not stupid. Back then, I thought if I showed you great kindness and love as I grew up knowing, you would become like me.

And you understood my efforts. You exploited them, because you had a different agenda.

Instead of appreciating me, you used my naïve goodness against me, trapping me with it, draining me of it. THAT’S WHAT SOCIOPATHS, PSYCHOPATHS, NARCISSISTS, PIMPS AND PEDOPHILES DO.

People have seen you around and reported to me in the past years. At almost 50, you are still creeping through the malls, hunting down young girls. You have a few kids with another woman now.

Yet, a week and a half ago, you tagged me on FB using a nearly 2 decade-old pic with my kids as your profile picture, which you posted THE DAY BEFORE reaching out to me, in an account you created just a week prior. No pics of you with your new kids.

This is very easy math, kiddo.

YOU ARE LIKE A PEDOPHILE who’s tracked down the little lost girl he’s molested before, and is trying to offer a lollipop on a string to entice her again. Except, she is a strong, grown woman now, she will never forget you molested her, and she knows you are still a pedophile.

WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN in such a situation, do you think? I can tell you: It will likely end badly for the pedophile. That naïve girl is gone. The woman in her stead has zero patience for bullshit and zero tolerance for bullies.

So, trying to pick up where you left off is a very, very bad idea.

You don’t deserve the opportunities and sanctuary of this country. You deserve to be put away in prison for a long time. DO NOT KEEP PUSHING YOUR LUCK.  Your days are numbered.

You need serious, long-term, professional psychological help and painful soul-searching (yes, you need to feel pain for the pain you’ve caused many, for any chance to heal and grow).

Finally, a bit of advice to heed forever, to help change the course of your life and who you are for the better:

CAUSE NO HARM:

DON’T IMPOSE,
DON’T DECEIVE,
DON’T VIOLATE.

Simply: Don’t do to others what they don’t want you to do to them.

(Hint:  If you want to hide it from your victims, the court, the law, or the public, it’s probably wrong to do. DON’T DO IT.)

You can begin practicing this with me:

RULE: ANYTHING PERSONALLY CONNECTED WITH ME IS OFF LIMITS TO YOU.

Yes, that includes MY children. They have a wonderful father—the only man they consider their father – the one who, since the beginning, loved them and treated them like a loving father would. And IT IS NOT YOU, for overwhelming reasons YOU caused.

So whatever you think you want from us, the answer is, “NO.”

NO. You cannot win them back.
NO. You cannot impose into their lives.
NO. You cannot trick or try or pretend you’re “just saying hi.”
NO. We owe you nothing.
NO. We do not want an apology, or any other excuse for contact.

YES. Any efforts to seek us out, get info about us, connect with us, are UNWANTED and will be considered stalking and harassment.
YES. I will fight back.
YES. My kids will fight back.
YES. I will have an army of capable people who will help us fight back.
YES. You will pay, with interest, this time.

Be very clear: The part of your life involving any part of me is OVER.

TURN AROUND, WALK AWAY.

This is not a negotiation.

YOU WERE MY TEST to help me become a stronger, more aware, more compassionate, more justice-driven human being.

If I’d failed my test, if I’d stayed with you, I would have probably died. I would not have been able to save my children, nor help many other people. Failing was not an option for me.

But also, if I’d failed, you would not have the chance to take YOUR test now:

I AM YOUR TEST to give you a chance to try to become a human being.

If you fail, YOUR LUCK WILL RUN OUT. I will not be shy, or soft, or scared, or alone: I will unzip the skies to unleash the countless bolts of karma tagged with your name. (You don’t want to fail this one.)

I PASSED MY TEST by WALKING AWAY.

YOU PASS YOUR TEST by DOING THE EXACT SAME THING: WALK AWAY.

THERE IS NO OTHER WAY.

The key to make this successful: Once you start walking, don’t look back.

GOOD LUCK. God help you, because if He doesn’t, He’ll be helping me.

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20

State of Affairs: Does Cheating Affect Friendships?

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(Photo Credit: Awottawa)

“My affair should NOT affect you!”

That was my former friend’s words of “conviction” (she was convinced in their validity, and I felt convicted by them) when we spoke recently. I confronted her about rumors that she was slandering me to squash inquiries on our +25-year friendship’s mysterious end. The meeting turned out to be the moot point I foresaw when I ended the relationship 6 months ago, with that statement perfectly representing why.

Such a statement sterilizes “facts” in a realm that is not sterile. It misleads the believer into self-righteousness as a way to dismiss accountability and feelings of guilt. Worse, it is brutal, burying any rights to emotions that the speaker/believer deems unacceptable, a right that they do not actually have.

For those who feel that their involvement in an affair is a private matter between themselves and their lovers, they are partially correct. Their spouses also have the right to know, but the nature of affairs, ironically, takes away this right. But if cheaters think that knowledge of their affairs should not affect those around them, they are sorely wrong. And if they think that witnesses who have survived one of their affairs are responsible for being unaffected for subsequent ones, they are delusional.

*          *          *

We were in our twenties when my former BFF had her first affair. I was alongside her as a good friend should be, supporting her emotionally, and without judgment, for the several years it took place.

Decades later, as she slipped into another one, I again took my dutiful place to help her through it. The first affair didn’t affect me. This one did, for both obvious and unexpected reasons:
– It was not her first time.
– We were no longer fresh out of undergrad.
– We were in our forties, with children, life experience, and firmer footing in our values and beliefs.
– I knew her husband 20 years longer than I did when she had her first affair – he was basically family.

This time, I felt a terrible guilt. I felt like an accomplice, because I knew better. And I knew that she knew better. This was a very painful place for me to be in.

If you cannot walk away from cheating on your spouse, and you have a friend that you trust to speak to about this, a few things to consider before you do:

CHEATER’S CONFIDANT CHECKLIST

1. Get to know your potential Confidant Friend. That is, take inventory of their values and life experiences, and know them in relation to your own. Regardless of what you both may be feeling at the moment, these factors can predict how your affair may affect them.

(DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Your dependable friend will most likely step up to whatever you ask of them; it is up to you to minimize damage from the get-go by gauging how much of your affair that they may be able to handle. Remember: They can not un-know anything.)

2. If you’re going to dish the dirt, be prepared to take the soap. If you trust this person with your affair, it must be because they’ve proven to be a true friend. Chances are, they are in this dismal place because they don’t want you to go through it alone; they truly care and want the best for you. Take their advice when they give it.

DO NOT TELL THEM ABOUT YOUR AFFAIR if you are going to continue to do the exact same thing for an indefinite length of time. They are human, also. They want to be there to help you, but if you are not taking any opportunities to get out of the affair, getting counseling to save your marriage, or taking steps to get separated or divorced (if you insist on continuing the affair), chances are, they will feel like an enabler and eventually disengage.

3. Be kind to your Confidant Friend. Maintaining your dark secret is a heavy burden on them. The stronger their moral code (see #1), the heavier this burden will be. They are going to get stressed over your affair, particularly if they are also close to your spouse and children. They may feel immense guilt for your spouse for sticking around and immense guilt for you if they walked away. They may suffer sleepless nights, loss of appetite, sudden crying and depression. Be prepared to find reserve of patience for your friend: Being your confidant, they will have no one to turn to about their distress, and is most likely overturning their own principles to be there for you.

4. DO NOT, on any level, judge, dismiss, or otherwise be condescending towards your Confidant Friend. They are not judging you on your huge issue, and they take this life crisis seriously, so they may feel obliged to be there at your beck and call (and you will exercise this exhaustively). Meanwhile, they may also have to deal with their own life issues, and will feel unable to commiserate with you while you’re going through your crisis. They are essentially handling both the burden of your secret as well as their own burdens, alone.

If they have the courage to share something with you (and overcoming the guilt of asking from you takes a bit of courage for them), listen and offer support. If you cannot be there for them, let them know you are overwhelmed. Don’t be quick to change the subject and get back to talking about your affair with them or tell them all possible flaws in their hopes or dreams, should any come up. They have stretched themselves too thin for you to receive such little effort from you in return.

IF YOUR FRIENDSHIP ENDS, it is highly likely due to your affair, in which case–

1. DO NOT throw your ex-friend (and ex-confidant) under the bus to save your life. It can have quite the opposite effect. Your former friend and confidant may have had to walk away to salvage whatever is left of your relationship, and they may have had to end it in a way that may not be suitable to you. Remember, they stood by you through things that were highly unsuitable for them, and for an extended amount of time. It is unlikely that you will be put in a position to return the favor quid pro quo, so dig deep and offer compassion in its stead.

People will most likely be shocked that your friendship with this person ended so suddenly, and they will ask you why. You can be assured that it was, in great part, due to your affair, but you may give inquirers a benign, neutralizing reason, or simply say you don’t know, end of story. Do not perpetuate ugly rumors against your former friend to conveniently explain away the ending. If and when they find out, your ex-friend may understandably assume that you were diverting the affair (the one they endured for as long as they could out of love for you) at their expense. That is beyond betrayal, and grounds for open season on clarification by your ex-confidant; this is not the person to whom you want to do dirty.

2. DO NOT, under any circumstances, tell them that your affair should not affect them. This will add grievous insult to injury as described above.

FINAL CHEATER NOTES

Although the consequences can be very bad, having an affair does not make one a horrible person (depending on the circumstances). Good people make terrible mistakes sometimes. But one cannot involve another person into one’s own wayward path without getting them dirty. It is the cheater’s choice to get dirty; their confidant friend is merely alongside them in this unsavory journey as an act of love and sacrifice, to keep their lost friend safe while trying to lead them home.

If you bring a Confidant Friend along, be very, very kind. Unlike you, they are not getting any pleasure out of this journey to offset the grit. If they must exit the friendship, also be very kind – there is a good chance that they are already grieving.

2

Effective Positivity: Inspire All, Empower Only Good

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Photo Credit: S. Braswell

People are not all equal.

That is, all deserve to be approached with openness, kindness, compassion, and the basics of humanity, but not all deserve much more beyond that. This is because there is such a thing as a bad person.

I was like many of you, once upon a time. I believed that everyone was inherently good, that many were just confused, lost, and that there were really no truly bad people. I therefore wasted my  energy in a lot of potential good, not actual good.

This is a tricky line to draw. People should be given the benefit of the doubt, and even those who make mistakes should be given a chance to show that they can be better than how they have been.

At least, in theory, it sounds reasonable. But, as with most credit-based systems in an open market, the potential for abuse is fairly high. (Check out our economy’s ledger if you need proof.)

I understand that “hurt people hurt people,” and I still believe in the majority of people being not-bad, even if they do things that harm others. But there is a small percentage (which equates to a large number, nonetheless) of people who truly are bad. Until this fact is acknowledged, these individuals will continue to cause serious damage to innocent, well-meaning, unassuming people, because bad guys understand and take tremendous advantage of the status quo ignorance.

Q: “How do you tell the difference between Good and Evil?”

A: “You give it power.” ~Marilyn Vos Savant

That answer stuck with me since I first read it in Marilyn Vos Savant’s column, one of my favorite go-to sections of The Washington Post when I was a kid. Its simple brilliant truth manifested itself through people I would meet and try to help throughout my life. The only caveat of this test is that by the time “evil” has been identified, power has been put into the wrong hands, and serious damage has often been done.

I was in a harmful relationship where I was once a Zen Ignorant – I was insistent that goodness was to be found in everyone. My perpetrator ex was simply confused because he did not grow up with the kind of love that I did. If I showed him kindness, compassion, patience, and encouragement, he would be inspired into becoming the same. Right?

What took me quite a while to figure out was that my ex understood, from very early on, my need to be fair and kind to others. So, he tailored his words and actions accordingly, and very effectively, to my detriment. This alone did not make him a bad person, though.

Not even did the fact that he knew to hide the things he did to me from the public and the law – any common criminal would do this, and not all criminals are actually bad people. (I know this because following our brother’s death, my surviving brother became a gangster. He did things that gangsters did, and felt the anger and lack of connection to his conscience during those years in order to survive in the streets. I get it.)

But my ex was not an adolescent/young adult who didn’t know better. He was not living in the streets, looking over his shoulder every second. He was not living in nor reacting from fear or violence. He was not mentally ill and needing medication, nor was he on drugs. Along with the lack of someday-pardonable reasons for his behaviors, what truly set him apart from a “lost/confused” person was the fact that my ex enjoyed causing me pain and seeing me suffer.

And this was made possible because I gave him power: the power to disconnect me from my own sense of worth and abilities; the power to flex his “paternal rights” through the court system as a means to continue to terrorize me for nearly a decade after I’d escaped him; the power to stay in this country and continue the cycle with other naive young girls.

Today, I am very mindful of whom I empower. I am openly kind to all that cross my path because I want to fill the world with whatever goodness that I can. But I do not empower everyone. The lesson on the dangers of empowering the wrong person is one of my greatest gifts from that dastardly period. My hard head about having a soft heart had to be split wide open to understand this. But yours doesn’t.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” ~Maya Angelou

In retrospect, there were a lot of clues that my ex was one to be left slithering on the side of the road. If my mind were more open—seeing people as they were, not as I insisted they were (which was “good” and “nice”)—I would have recognized what I was dealing with. But it was fixated on ideals, and no fixation in our mind allows truth to clearly materialize.

Most people who do bad things are truly simply hurt, lost, and confused, some, terribly so. Help if you can, or walk away if you cannot. But keep this in mind:

Some people are just bad to the marrow of their bones.  It is not your responsibility to fix or help them, nor to even try to understand them. In fact, that you cannot comprehend, on any common level, their reasoning, is a good thing. Chances are, there is nothing to rationalize, for there’s nothing humane in the rationalization of seeking and finding pleasure in an innocent person’s pain. You just need to learn to recognize such individuals, and deal with them accordingly, as you would with any deadly serpent in your path.

8

Stop, Thief! (You Can Quote Me On That)

HappyEvidenceCollectors

(Photo Credit: Karen Salmansohn)

I loved that message and shared it on my personal Facebook page the other day.  On that same day, I found it completely plagiarized by another blogger online, by someone who is apparently a life coach and motivational speaker, who has a list of testimonials on how great a coach he is, and who listed training credentials to include those from the likes of Tony Robbins and John Maxwell.

Impressive, it would seem.  Except, the fact that he completely claimed the artistic expression made by someone else as his own makes me see him as shady and opportunistic. And I would not want him to claim having trained from me, if that were the case; Tony Robbins would probably not be proud of the association.

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon problem, and it’s not just an academic issue.  On Facebook, people post quotes without properly crediting them all the time. I actually had my email signature posted on Facebook by someone that I knew, without any indication that it wasn’t written by her. Many people complimented her on the quote, but she never nodded my way. I was particularly shocked because she was the editor of her own magazine!

Sometimes people don’t know better; others simply don’t think it’s a big deal. And there are those, like Mr. Life Coach and Ms. Editor, who should know, but instead of sharing the joy along with its source, post it with their signatures slapped on. Very wrong, very uncool.

This is why: When we create something, whether it be through an art, invention, or piece of writing, we are putting our time, effort, intention, and essentially, a piece of ourselves, into it. For the most part, it is an act of love to share it with the world, and it is a source of joy to see others enjoy it so much that they want to share it. In that act of sharing, with acknowledgment, one tells the creator, “Thank you, this positively affected me. I want to pay it forward because it bubbles within me that much.”

However, when one takes a piece of the creator and purposefully omits giving proper credit, it is saying, “I think what you made was so awesome that I will steal it and claim it as my own, because I want people to think I’m awesome.” Some may say that it can be considered a form of flattery, but that’s like saying, “Wow, love your car, so I’m going to steal it and ride it around town!”

I want to clarify that this is not about sharing an idea that already exists; almost every idea has been repackaged.  There may be a fine line on this subject, I know, as I’ve held back sometimes out of fear of riding off the coattails of another blogger. I have to keep in mind that, as a writer, there’s nothing wrong with joining in on a popular conversation, so long as it is my own dialog.

In these cases, we are not stealing, but being inspired and then sharing our inspiration through our personal filtering lenses, resulting in a unique product of inspiration. Painters may use the same brushes and paints, and they may use similar strokes and colors, but the landscape will be interpreted many ways across different painters.  This is okay.

What is not okay is if you paint a picture and I take the painting and sign it, and then show it as my own in an exhibit.

So now that I’ve explained why plagiarism is, indeed, that bad, let me emphasize why giving credit to its creator actually beats stealing for free accolades:

1. You get to be in touch with true gratitude. Very little in life will matter without connection with gratitude; giving credit where it’s due returns us to a state of humility and the acknowledgment that the world we live in and the factors independent of our control are awesome.

2. You get to make connections with people you admire. Crediting an author or artist for their work may open doors to connect with them. (Obviously, if the creator is no longer living, this may be harder. But crediting them honors their memory, and stealing from them will probably make you look quite stupid, as there is a good chance people will be familiar with their work.)

3. You honor your creative potential.  Even if no one discovers your lie, your creative integrity is the platform from which all creative growth springs. If you steal, you cannot go through the raw process that creating your own work demands; you cannot grow to your potential as a creator.

4. You may still be seen as an expert. You don’t have to be the creator to be thought of as an authority in your field of interest; crediting all the great people from whom you’ve drawn your brilliant shares show that you are self-motivated in learning and growing, that you process what you observe, and that you recognize talent. It also shows that you are gracious and have integrity.  Speaking of which–

5. You maintain your integrity. If you deny yourself of any level of integrity, you cling on to some fear of shame, of not good-enough. And when someone finds out (and someone will, because intellectual property thieves are usually repeat-offenders), it will be a self-inducing prophecy that will be very hard to reverse.

I will now probably forever see the “Lie” in Mr. Life Coach, which is a shame if he actually has genuine value to give. But he insulted another person by stealing instead of honoring her work, and there are so many great bloggers out there with integrity that I don’t have time or interest to wait for him to prove himself otherwise.

Meanwhile, Karen Salmansohn, of whose writing I am a fan, reached out to thank me for looking out for her, and generously gave me a copy of one of her e-books, neither actions of which I was expecting, but was delighted to receive.

Again, authenticity rules, and the holding up of integrity pays forward manifold.

Related: “Choosing the Red Pill”

10

Life Code: Lessons from “Dexter”

Dexter

“Dexter: Harry’s Code” Scene (Photo credit: http://swishost.com/dexter-widescreen.html)

From the beginning, I loved the idea of Dexter’s character: A serial killer of serial killers.  Perhaps I am too elementary spiritually, not transcended above the idea of such a system of justice.  I’m not sure what it is within me that makes it gratifying, not horrifying, to think of someone killing those who kill innocent people, like my twisted sense of relief to know that child rapists often get killed in prison when their inmates discover the nature of the predator’s crimes.  I feel that somehow I am wrong to think this way, and I am partly ashamed to admit having a side comfortable with such brutality.  The fact that I am not entirely convinced that it is wrong to think this way, however, brings me to believe that my sense of shame is more a learned one rather than an instinctive one.  So, for now at least, Dexterity, it is.

I feel, though, that I am not alone, as “Dexter” was quite a popular show, and not just for his sexy love interest, Hannah McKay (played by Yvonne Strahovsky) in the latter half of the series.  I remember going into a department store and talking to a sales associate about the show when it was at the height of its popularity, and was told that the Henley shirts Dexter sported always sold out quickly.  It made me wonder if the general population was as dark as I was, or if Dexter was, in fact, not really a bad guy, despite the general acceptance that killing is a bad, bad thing.

What made Dexter’s “dark passenger” a welcomed one, I believe, was “The Code,” a set of rules that was taught to Dexter by his father before he passed away:

  1. Never get caught.
  2. Never kill an innocent.

This code serves Dexter well throughout the series, both for his objectives within the context of the show as well as for his likeability as a character from the perspective of the show’s fans.  His code perpetuates his survival and ability to carry justice in the most primal and efficient way.  Without it, his character and story unravel.

In real life, we all must live by codes.  The law has a set of codes, religions have their codes, and general society has its own code of conduct.  People teeter-totter, pick and choose among these different sets of codes to create a basket of their own, some with very full baskets, adhering to every code they know, others, with fairly empty ones.  The exercise of identifying one’s own personal code is important, I believe, because it forces one to examine one’s self, both internally as well as in relation to one’s world, with all the people and triggers in it.  This connects us with our sense of control and, more importantly, accountability, which is a necessary moderator for the sense of power that comes with control.  If there’s any ethical standard or quality control to be found, accountability is the sleuth for it.

I’ve always thought about this theory of a code of conduct, although I’d not labeled it, but I recognized its existence immediately whenever one of my unspoken codes was being violated – the protest rose in full form, from my thoughts to emotions, to the heat rising to head and my neck hairs standing up.  For whatever reasons, I was made to feel and think (and when I was younger, be physical) intensely, and people would see just a facet of me, usually the peaceable side, the side I give freely to everyone in my path; the other side, the one that says Dexter can be my best friend, must be earned.

So my code consists of a justice unfazed by whatever gruesome fate must be met by an individual who gleefully causes comparable pain and destruction of an innocent life.  Understanding this helps me come to terms with who I am, as Dexter had to come to terms with who he was, and to best focus my life in light of this.

My own personal code, in no particular order of importance:

  1. Seek truth.  Every good thing needs strong roots in truth.  Seek it within yourself first, so you can help others find it.
  2. Seek balance.  This is not about becoming homogeneous; this is about living life in such a way that you are truly happy and at peace inside.
  3. Seek joy.  “Face the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”  Walk towards and amongst the positive; shine so brightly that your light is contagious.
  4. Seek to grow.  Read, listen, learn, connect, record, reflect, venture, and think for yourself.
  5. Share what you find.  Contribute to the good of the world; let your knowledge be a platform for others to stand upon as they build theirs.
  6. Be kind.  Many people are hurting in the world, and your kindness may disarm their expressions of pain or salve them.
  7. Be open.  You don’t know everything.  If knowledge is power, and you need power to help or protect the powerless, stay open to keep learning.
  8. Be aware.  It is not enough to be kind or open alone. Know what you’re dealing with.  This is part of self-preservation.
  9. Be of service.  This is another way to contribute to the good of the world, and to honor #10.
  10. Be grateful.  Life has little meaning or joy without this.

Although not spelled out, Dexter actually did most of these things on my list, and I can say vice versa to his.  (Don’t be shocked – I’ll wager most of you can say the same thing.  😉 )

This code has been fairly consistent all my life.  Whenever I’ve failed to adhere to or protect it, it is like I’ve abandoned myself.  Spelling it out has helped me become more aware of it to maintain its integrity.

What about you? What is your personal code, the one that defines and directs the best of who you are and want to be?

5

The Misconception of the Misconception of Bad People

MisconMisconBadGuys(Photo Credit: WiseWander)

This is where I will be frank.  Forgive me for sounding crazy.

Some people are just bad.

They are not just confused, misled, or poor victims of abuse and crooked government that should be given compassion, etc.

These are not people who made stupid, even terrible mistakes in life.

These are people who prey on the innocent, who prey on kindness, who study what “good” and “kind” and “trustworthy” look like, talk like, act like, in order to manipulate the system after they’ve manipulated their victims into a mangled pile of their selves.

These people are evil, bad to the marrow of their bones, and until we recognize that such individuals truly exist, we will not be able to properly protect the good, the normal, the innocent who become victims to such entities.

I used to be where some of you are right now – bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, love-for-all-and-all-for-love.  I would believe in the best of everyone, that the potential is there to be awakened, that there just needs to be kindness and generosity and goodness poured into them, and they would be touched and healed, and evolve.

While this is true for most, this is an absolute lie—a dangerous one—to prescribe across the board.

Our (oxymoron ahead) “justice system” has been played by such individuals because people mean well but don’t know well enough: that not all men are created equal, that “a fair trial” needs far more discretion and knowledge on the participants than the court has any control or interest in ensuring, and that the lax of demand for true justice spreads repercussions into our society like a crack on glass, fanning out into splintering shards.

The problem is that good people play by the rules and the not-so-good play by the feigning of playing by the rules, so they see and predict every move, and intercept and destroy, cheating all the way.

There is a reason why the shady like to do business in the dark: concealment is the best way to ambush, and ambush is an effective strategy to take over what is not freely given.  As long as people don’t know, or insist to not know, they foster successful victimization by these types.

Shine the light – know wtf we’re dealing with in this world.  That’s the first step to solving the problem.

(More to come on this when I start sharing my story.  Stay tuned.)

Related article: “These Babies Are Real: The Beauty of Authenticity

1

No Smoke and Daggers Allowed in the Courtroom

NoSmokeDaggersInCourtroom

Before we can have a true system for justice, we have to fairly define the parameters of what is okay vs. not-okay to do to others.

How many times have you experienced as or witnessed the victim, the person who had something deliberately and unfairly imposed upon them by another, having to defend him/herself after taking the hit, while the perpetrator went scot free?  Frustrating, isn’t it?  And yet it happens all the time.  Why the eff is that?  Because people are allowing themselves to be distracted by dramatic tones and fancy hand flourishes in the circus court of life.  In the hubbub, a dust storm erupts and the victim is shanked.

Real-Life Case 1:  Precursor Perpetration Accusation

  • A young girl is molested by her uncle, who is then fumingly thrown out of the house by her mother.  The uncle’s brother, the young girl’s other uncle, says in his defense, “The punishment does not fit the crime.”  And rumors circulate that the young girl shouldn’t have been wearing tight tops, etc.  Um,  who’s doing the molesting?

Real-Life Case 2:  Guilt Deflection

  • A couple enable their 30 year old son to live at home, not work, not go to school, do drugs, and verbally and physically abuse his baby’s mother.  The mother seeks consolation from someone.  The mother of the dysfunctional son starts spreading false rumors about the “helper” to isolate the girl and turn the rest of the extended family against the helper.  Who’s doing the enabling? Who’s doing the abusing?

Real-Life Case 3:  Internalized Abuse

  • A young girl is raised seeing abuse from her biological father to her mother.  Unrelated, kids are teasing her in school.  As a teenager, she falls into a sexually abusive relationship.  As a young adult, she covers herself by branding herself with tattoos and piercings because she doesn’t think that she’s pretty, and is ashamed of herself.  Who were the ones saying ugly things? Who are the ones doing hurtful things? 

Real-Life Case 4:  Broken System

  • A teenager is trapped into the sex trafficking ring, subjecting her to abuse by her pimp and rape by 40+ men a day.  She gets caught by the police and booked and treated as a criminal while her pimp walks.  Who is psychologically and physically abusing these girls and women?  Who is selling their bodies to be tortured, their minds to be broken, their lives to be shredded?

I could go on, and I’m sure you could add your endless list alongside mine.  That being so is a quizzical misfortune.

Why do people believe the hype against the victims?  Why don’t they think and act accordingly?

1. People are lazy.   They are emotionally too lazy to put themselves in the victim’s shoes, but if someone yells “Witch!”, they want in on the excitement, and so jump at the chance to chant along.  They are too lazy to think, so they let the also mentally lazy, but in power, think for them, and let’s face it, it’s a lot of work to confront perpetrators.  So much easier to start bopping on the head of a victim who is already subdued.  These forms of laziness are also forms of complacency.  Complacency inhibits individual growth and breeds all sorts of societal disconnect and dysfunction.  (Solution: Care, damnit!)

2. People are scared.  They are afraid of what others might say, or of what might happen to those they care about who are responsible for hurting someone else, over what is just and fair.  (Solution: Grow a fair pair!)

Sadly, the general population is often a goofy herd of individuals that go along with their faces in the arses of their fellow herd members in front of them, not seeing where they’re being led, bleating when they hear a bleat.  And to be fair, sometimes it’s hard to see in the midst of the sea of fluff and noise.  One has to be willing to raise one’s head and look beyond the herd.

How can we be sure we’re not becoming part of the problem in this mis-assignment of accountability?

Let’s use the hot topic of rape as an example for this exercise.  The options given are a sampling of those often grouped together in this case:

          “It is not okay to ______ someone else.”   {dress scantily, seduce, rape}

Let’s plug in our options now:

1. “It is not okay to dress scantily someone else.”   First off, you can’t “dress scantily” someone else (unless you’re the wardrobe manager for a Victoria Secret’s fashion show); “dressing scantily” is not what you do to someone else.  One chooses one’s way of dressing as one pleases – hopefully with respect to children and/or cultural considerations.  In any case, to say that “dressing scantily” is a criminal act against another, or the cause of a criminal act, is invalid.  NEXT.

2. “It is not okay to seduce someone else.”  This is true if you or the other person is in a relationship with someone else, on a moral sense.  However,  seduction implies the seduction target’s willingness to be seduced; otherwise, you’re just trying to seduce.  In any case, along with #1, this also is invalid as a case for criminal violence or instigation, as explained here:

Rapist2

3. “It is not okay to rape someone else.”  That is all.  The chart below, found circulating online, illustrates this point:

Image(Usable as template for “Causes of Victimizing Acts Imposed from One or More Individuals to Another”)

It is not okay to molest a kid, it is not okay to abuse your baby mama, it is not okay to bully a school mate, it is not okay to physically and psychologically torment someone and sell violations of their bodies.

And, it is not okay to ignore these wronging acts, and worse, put the victim on the stand, behind the bars, or on the gallows.

Be willing to care, to think, to be brave.  And if you already are doing these things, clear the smoke, blow the whistle, shine light in the shadows; make a case for justice, every day.

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