Defeated No More

In all adventures of life,
lurks the fear of uncertainty
waiting,
quietly and patiently …
for the right opportunity to devour all our hopes and dreams.

Dare the warrior of passion,
this saint of the heart,
to be capable of having the courage to slay this enemy.
This enemy called doubt.

Remain true.
Stay in love.
This sympatic world is forever giving to those who wish to
believe in the impossible
and wish to live the incredible.

 

(originally written Oct 2007)

 

 

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Benni’s Dirty Secret

From his darkened bedroom window in the attic, Benni poked his head out into the snowy and shadowy night of winter and wondered if he would survive falling three stories to the cold ground below.

His worst-case scenario would be to have him end up living through the sudden impact of hitting the concrete below rendering him helpless and crippled. The last thing Benni wanted was to possibly survive become further dependent upon the very person he had come to despise.

Not cognizant of the significance of yet another beating at the hands of his father, Benni felt a wave of desperation overtaking his thoughts. He could not understand why his father would beat him again; after all, he did nothing wrong – again. How could it possibly be wrong to just be a kid?

He would prefer to cry and get it out and over with; but he couldn’t – not any more.  It seemed like a hundred years ago when he last shed a tear. It seemed like there wasn’t a good enough reason to cry anymore.

Too young at thirteen years old to understand, little did he know that the life path he was unknowingly thrust upon would take him on a bipolar journey of constant crises that would take forty years from which to recover.  Worse still, while he continued to beat himself up, Benni didn’t know it was not he who was broken – it was the dysfunctional culture of his family; and it gave rise to a defining moment in Benni’s life that began his subconscious decision to break free and move towards a life reflecting the many he witnessed outside of his family.

***

Having moved to Toronto to raise a family and seek the promise of prosperity, the Smith’s were escaping a cycle of misery and disappointment that haunted generations before them.  Their hope was to free themselves from the memories of a village where ‘less’ was the accepted norm and a humiliating handout was the grudging practice.  Dad lived with anger, and Mom with fear.  Socially under-developed, they arrived in the big city with lowered eyes and all the expected baggage: poor, uneducated, authoritarian, and waging the constant battle for power and status.

Christian leanings were strongly held and literally enforced, so it was only natural to soon begin a family with the belief that “He” will provide.  With steady jobs and a promising future, their salvation and rewards of happiness was only around the corner – or so they thought.  They didn’t realize their cultural patterns of thinking about life and living (behaviour, knowledge, and coping techniques) passed on from their parents were not left far behind in the past.

Before long, the Smith’s had babies popping up almost every second year.  They didn’t count on the incessant struggles increasing with each newborn; so by the time the final and eighth child was born, life was a living hell of diapers, debt, and desperation.

***

Benni was the firstborn son and much was expected from him.  Naturally bright and talented, he was seen as the great hope and source of pride for his parents early in life.  He was rewarded with choices not afforded his siblings as early as possible.  While somewhat lonely and isolated at times from being away from home so often, Benni was thankful for the opportunity to experience life away from the constant circus of sibling battles waged within the household.  Unfortunately, he did have to return to the home every day and he could not escape the toxic environment brewing of anger, frustration, and resentment.

Because of the poverty in the family, only basic needs were met.  Both parents had to work with he holding down two full-time union jobs and she working in factories not conducive to her chronic asthma.  Expected by everyone except themselves, family relationships snapped without repair, and the constant need of the children for attention always going unfulfilled.  Without the time or energy to cope, parental responses to the demands of the children became increasingly abusive psychologically, emotionally, and physically.

Fearful of his father’s wrath, Benni quickly accepted this way of life as the normal way of coping with life’s stressors.  It wasn’t long before the parental teachings of frustration management became the family norm and it profoundly affected how Benni perceived life and his behaviour towards it.

Given his extensive exposure to life at a private Christian school, Benni knew something was not right, but he chose to avoid thinking about it because it caused him much anxiety when doing so.  The only bright spot in his life was the love, inspiration, and nurturing he received at the choir school far from the asylum he called home.  This allowed him to detach himself from the stress of the family and focus on his own individual training and education goals with, of course, the demanding approval of his father.

From all his outside activities, Benni received guidance to become a healthy boy who flourished.  He grew into an academic scholar, as well as reaching a small level of virtuosity in music.  In spite of the evening crises at home, he was able to achieve a level of psychological competence and success in all of his endeavours by pretending he was just a visitor to the family home  – with the priests and church actually being his real parents and home.

In spite of the conflicting environments to which he was exposed, Benni was able to keep the daily troubles (and secrets) in the back of his mind even though he was constantly exposed to (and perceived) the ‘odd’ behaviours of love and affection he witnessed from his classmates and their families during social and school functions.  Sadly, when Benni reached thirteen years old, he was withdrawn from the school, and everything changed.  His private, secret world disappeared forever.

Living again at home “full-time”, Benni was beginning to experience the full force of his father’s brutality.  Having disappointed his father by wanting to pursue interests other than music and religion (Benni wanted to become a priest), the privileges of being ‘the one’ quickly vanished.  He was now subject to the same methods of disciplinary ‘correction’ as his siblings.  Daily beatings were expected to the point where any contact with his father automatically brought him to tears and wet pants even before he stood before that powerful force of authority.  Long-lived physical and mental scars were beginning to rupture.

Why, he wondered, does his dad never tell him he was proud of his achievements, or hug him, or smile when something was done to his strict level of satisfaction?

Benni was beginning to understand now why his siblings often lied; after all, when truthfulness was punished, “what was the point?”  Flurries of questions were soon to follow.  Was all the piety and goodness he modeled from the priests and other leaders nonsense?  “Was there really goodness, or were the priests lying to me all along?”  “Why was I being punished for laughing too loud?”  “Why, all of a sudden, was I beginning to wet my bed at night and chew my fingernails?”

Benni quickly re-learned the brutal social norms and values of the house (not home).  Along the way, stress, higher competitiveness, lower perception of control, and fewer feelings of ability to make choices were beginning to take hold of his consciousness.  It was no longer safe to invest his time or interest with his own family – and this concerned him greatly.  The only option available was to find some kind of escape from the madness because everything he knew was no longer valid, and the assimilation of new information was slowly changing his beliefs in ways in which he didn’t like.

Gone was the joy of life.  His vitality was being sucked out of him and feelings of depression were beginning to creep into his mind.  The house was a constant war zone and Benni never won a battle.  There was never enough of anything from basic needs and security to affection and trust.  A culture of various abuses was accepted and internalized in this family of ten; and as a result, dysfunctional secrecy became the norm that was successfully thrust onto his generation.

One day, after spending the weekend at a friend’s house without his father’s knowledge or approval, Benni was banished to the attic – after a severe beating and a broken collarbone, of course.  His father said he didn’t want to look at him any more.  Benni was labeled a disgrace for asking his friend to have him over, and “that kind of behaviour (begging) was simply not tolerated”.

Benni knew this was just another reason for his father to beat him up.  His father was always angry now, and everyone disappeared like roaches in the light when even a hint of his presence was felt.  The mother was always sick and she was fearful herself, so any assistance from her was non-existent.

As for moving his bedroom to the attic, Benni actually felt relieved as he finally found his tiny respite from the pain.  He was already emotionally detached from his family and he had nothing in common with any of them.  All that interested him now was listening to hockey games on the radio under a small spotlight in the darkened room and exploring his newfound talent for painting.

Emotionally and psychologically, the attic was taking its toll.  Solitary living, although a choice at the time, was sucking the life out of Benni.  Loneliness was a constant companion and the isolation drove him to a world where his only joy was reading and re-reading motivational books by Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, and Norman Vincent Peale he stole from the local library.

***

Soon, Benni’s search for meaningful friendships outside of his bedroom walls was completely gone.  Endless days and nights brought lots of time to think and ponder about the meaning of life – his life; and somehow he felt this wasn’t something he should be concerned with at that stage in his life.  Not knowing it, but Benni was not developing normally as a young adolescent was supposed to become.

Everything was confusing and nothing seemed real as it appeared as if there were two alternative worlds in his same existence.  A part of him felt stuck and lost, yet the other felt as if he was going to become someone great and important.  A part of him wanted to meet new friends (but he didn’t even know how any more), and the other part didn’t want the emotional hassle with relationships.  Benni wanted to be a part of his family, but couldn’t bring himself to have anything to do with them.

He didn’t even know who he was anymore.  He wanted to believe in something positive again.  Breaching his teen years, he couldn’t quite articulate the feeling of a deep personal crisis forming in the base of his chest.

Benni went to the attic windows overlooking the street far below, opened them wide and invited the cold wind to choke back his first deep breath, and then fell to his knees.  Unable to cry, he looked to the sky and asked for help.  He then leaned over and exposed his head and shoulders to the frigid beast of fear.  With a long deep breath inhaled through his nose, he closed his eyes and wondered …

Self Expression: Imagination

IMAGINATION will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

Carl Sagan

Relationship: What Happened?

There are three sides to every story:

.    

1 – your story
2 – my story
3 – the full story.

     .

Can anyone relate?

 

 

Values & Beliefs: The Evil of Graham James’ Criminal Sentence

With the sentencing of the pedophile Graham James, is this an indication of the Canadian justice system not understanding the true effects of sexual abuse against boys?

At least to me, there seems to be a huge void within the official government system in coming to grips with the true reality of the effect of this kind of abuse – against anybody!

How this act of ignorance by the justice system is still allowed to continue is beyond me.  In all their history and education, do they not truly hear and feel the effects on victims when their stories are shared?  Do they not have information from medical and psychological experts that worked with victims?  Do they not have access to cold statistics from agencies that show the cost to society?


The government of Canada is not short of information and resources
to know
the evil and life-long negative effects this can have on a victim.


It cannot be avoided in this day and age of wide open communication and personal expression to realize we are only now beginning to see the victims come forward with stories of heinous acts perpetrated against them.  What’s becoming more evident, is that we are only starting to see the “tip of the iceberg” on how wide-spread this epidemic will spill into the everyday walking public.  And how does the justice system deal with it?

I know one thing for sure, every organization that works, or have worked with young people going back 40 to 50 years ago are certainly shaking in their boots right now as they desperately re-visit their pasts.  And sadly, I have no doubt (given the conversations I’ve personally had with victims of pedophiles), that there will be a lot of shocking (or maybe not) news of organizations who have either made the complaints go away or turned a blind eye to the “quiet whispers” within the ranks.


Sadly still, this will not be limited to boys.
I’m sure we will hear about girls’ groups and organizations as well.

***

But back to the sentencing.

I’ve tried to look at it from different angles so I could firmly get a grip on my emotional rationale.  (Isn’t that a contradiction in terms, eh?)  Anyways, I was wondering how the public and the Justice System would react to such heinous and evil acts were perpetrated by Graham James if the boys were abused in a different way.

Now, I am just looking at the effects any particular crime would have on a victim.  I’ve considered the vulnerability of the victims and how they would relate to my following made-up scenario victims.  I’ve chosen that particular type of victim because I personally believe the same types of vulnerability relate.  They only differ in that James’ victims have an emotional/psychological disability, whereas the victims in the story below, they are physical.

***

Would the sentence be different if the boy’s lives were destroyed by James from a criminal misdeed such as this:

As a trusted community leader wielding enormous and unquestioned power (a dream coach), James promises success to blind boys who live by his every directive and hang on his every word as if he was a god. But after their work, James chooses specific vulnerable individuals who are told they must secretly drink a questionable and disgusting muscle-enhancing cocktail – or no more chances at fulfilling their dreams. They simply cannot say no. “Besides”, they think, “it’s not hurting me, and James would never hurt a blind boy trying to reach his dreams”.

After many years of increasing problems, the boys find out the cocktail was not healthy; rather, it was a poison that slowly eats away the brain. James deliberately gave it to them – on purpose – without their regard – with false promises – all for his personal and diabolical satisfaction while knowing that some day those boys would be physically broken, struggling, and never be the same again.

Some time later, James finally gets caught and admits his heinous crimes. As a serial offender with many other blind victims now living in the same shame, guilt, and pain, the epidemic of poisoning blind kids becomes more known to the public (80,000+ in Canada at some estimates).

When James go in front of the judge for sentencing, he tells the judge he’s sorry that he destroyed lives, and families, and CHILDREN who are now walking around quietly suffering without end.

***

This is what I HEARD IN MY HEAD (that other voice), what Her Honour had to say on passing sentence (interchange the real and made-up events):

“Mr. James, I believe you are truly sorry. I don’t believe you have any more now-adult blind victims out there (out of the thousands you were in contact with) who were forced to drink your poison when they were just boys.  So I’m going to be lenient.

Mr James, while statistics show otherwise, I believe someone who poisons blind boys for their own personal satisfaction usually only does it once or twice.  I believe that after attending that short program on how to stop poisoning blind boys, you have convinced me that you are honest in being cured of wanting to poison any more blind boys. Your truthfulness calls for leniency.

Mr James, I don’t see any physical issues your victims are currently facing. We can’t see how their minds are still slowly being eaten away after decades.  They are walking around and running their lives.  The issues they face can be fixed after a short program (something like yours).And finally Mr. James, forget about how their families suffered all those years as the poison quietly ate away at the victim’s brains. They don’t look like they have been or currently are suffering in trying to deal with the horrible effects and how they manifest in the victim’s actions.  Besides, all families fight, have secrets, and shame issues.  So, I will go easy on you.

Therefore Mr. James, I will only sentence you to 2 years for the following 10 reasons:

  1. admitting your actions (only after you’ve been caught),

  2. feeling sorry (only after you ran out of legal options),

  3. abusing your immense power (and getting away with it your decades),

  4. inflicting life-long pain on your victims (from which they would never recover),

  5. hiding in another country to avoid detection (hoping people will ignore or forget),

  6. being nice and coming back (to save you from a longer sentence),

  7. deceit, lying, coercion, destroying trust (on thousands of kids and adults who believed in you 100% without question),

  8. forcing the victims to risk their identity and shame by having to come forward publicly,

  9. allowing me the opportunity to totally disregard the severe and devastating impact on the his many victims, and

  10. I don’t think this crime is that much of a big deal. They were only blind kids and you only poisoned them a few times many years ago.

I trust this meets with your plea bargain.

***.

I know I am biased in my opinion when I compare these stories because I chose the scenario.  Personally, I believe vulnerable young people who are give their trust, innocence, power to an older and trusted individual, are ripe to sexual predators and pedophiles (whether against boys or girls).

.

Would you accept James’ actions if it was for poisoning instead of this type of crime (and hidden epidemic)?


After all, they provide the same result.

.

.

.

Relationship: Relating

The meeting of two personalities is like contact of two chemical substances: If there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Carl Jung