Controversial for men, but instinctively, women generally know this.
It’s not about trust per se: it’s about access and transparency.
Why settle for a man who can’t do this?
Controversial for men, but instinctively, women generally know this.
It’s not about trust per se: it’s about access and transparency.
Why settle for a man who can’t do this?
This one makes people uncomfortable.
I “@” Dave Worthen on TikTok because I think it is a great analogy for him to compare – or criticize if he feels it’s wrong.
I stopped at the inconvenience store on the way home. The Nepali clerk was stocking the lottery scratch-off rolls. She had one loose one left that she didn’t want to place loosely in the holder. “Do you want it?” she asked. “No,” I initially replied. But then I realized I should tempt fate. “How much is it?” I asked. “$10 dollars.” Hmmm. “Well, okay, let’s tempt fate. Maybe this will be one of those stories of coincidence.” The guy behind me said, “That would be amazing!” I took it over by the self-scanner and scratched the reader strip without bothering with the top half. I won my $10 back. Though it sounds stupid, for just a moment, I had this feeling that perhaps the universe was about to open one of its rare surprise boxes for me. The clerk and the other man felt it too. We all laughed in recognition of thinking that maybe we almost witnessed a surprise.
As I headed to my car, two addicts approached, a man and a woman. I recognized the man from a previous encounter. He’s difficult to understand. They were walking a large, sweet-natured dog, which I kneeled and petted. I figured out the man wanted a cigarette, so I went inside and got them cigarettes. The woman was beyond appreciative. They moved to the side of the building to smoke. She held her back in a certain way, which I recognized as serious back pain. She’d seen better days. Her clothes were dirty, and her hair was probably a mess three days ago. But she smiled back at me, even as she seemed to understand what her male companion was saying. Though I grew up with the worst mumbler on the planet, my dad, I scarcely understood every fifth word her companion uttered. The woman looked at me again and made eye contact.
I smiled back, hoping an infusion of a bit of my energy might reach her.
You never know.
About any moment.
Earlier in the week, I received an unprovoked attack email that denigrated me with seething anger. Happy people don’t write words like those. I felt sorrow and sympathy for the author. I’m certain that the author doesn’t understand that the mere act of sending such an email telegraphs to anyone with an appreciation for human behavior and psychology that they are unhappy. Part of their motivation was to be a revisionist of the past; that’s normal, and everyone does it. People need to buttress their self-image. Revisionists are easy to spot because of their reluctance to admit wrongdoing or cast themselves in a questionable light. That’s not to say that some of what they wrote isn’t accurate! It is incomplete, however.
The other part was an attempt to silence me when I write about parts of my life that overlap. I go out of my way most of the time to avoid spilling people’s secrets or the things that they prefer to be kept hidden. Most people aren’t like me. They won’t share their warts, believing that people don’t otherwise know. This is one of the reasons I can’t be blackmailed. I’ll spill my secrets regardless of whether I need to. I’ll release nude pictures of myself after eating six Happy Meals. I don’t care. It’s hard to shame someone who willingly shares their life. I think back to dealing with some of my family, who spent years failing to dissuade me from finding out some of my family history.
As for convincing people that they have the wrong idea about me, that’s foolish. If people have only a partial story, it’s hard to blame them for listening to the person with the ax to grind. “Only the spoon knows what is stirring in the pot” is always an apt phrase to remember. As for the rest, slander is when you willfully and knowingly speak mistruths, and libel is when you write them. And if it is true? It’s neither.
It’s odd to see self-righteousness from someone who doesn’t share their full story. I don’t feel self-righteous precisely because I’m the first to say I’ve been a hypocrite. But I’m not ashamed to share the stupid things I’ve done. But I do know that I know a lot that would embarrass the hell out of people. It’s not my job to share it, nor do I want to. I write about this when I reference seeing behind so many people’s curtains.
I willingly open my curtains, even if makes you wonder if I’ve lost my damn mind.
I won’t open your curtains unless it overlaps with my story.
Go be happy.
It’s easy NOT to hear me or read my words. Change the channel, don’t look at my social media or blog, and just live a happy life.
I have a surprise for you!
You’ve been gone many years. 2013 was two iterations of my life ago.
You left a legacy of which you weren’t aware.
You have beautiful grandchildren from a daughter you never knew of.
She found out today that you’re her father. That’s staggering news for anyone who wanted the simple truth and simplicity of an answer.
I’m sorry life took you so early. You’d be older and tired of the habits that deflected you from focusing on what makes you happy.
I can imagine you walking up to your daughter for the first time, seeing her children, your grandchildren. Especially if your smart and handsome son Noah were with you, each of you seeing a silhouette of yourselves in her face.
I’ve done the best I can to give your daughter some closure.
Your daughter will be able to separate what you call mistakes from the fact that you were in the world. She’s here because you were.
I’m humbled by the fact that science and DNA can unlock doors in a way that people couldn’t.
Knowing the past doesn’t change it. Judging it doesn’t color or discolor any of our previous chapters.
I didn’t find out my own dad had fathered a child until 26 years after his death. That I had another sister was a secret for 46 years. There’s no doubt that some of my family knew about her. They chose to rob us of the opportunity to know each other. I understand it even though I disagree. Age gives me the ability to dislike it but also to nod my head to some degree. Most of us are doing the best we can, and such decisions are complicated.
Jimmy, I know that your daughter would have brought you joy. She’s married and loved. She’s smart, kind, and the perfect complement to Noah, who is the embodiment of what you’d want your son to be.
Be proud wherever you are.
I sit in amazement at how life still surprises me, Jimmy.
I would give anything to have you here, even for an afternoon, to watch your eyes dance with joy meeting the daughter you never knew you had. To listen to your stupid, outrageous laugh.
For now, though, I’m still happy with this turn of events.
Maybe we will talk about it one day.
For now, know that you have a daughter who finally got a lot of answers. I’ve shared your pictures and stories with her. Her children can look at the family tree I’ve made and see through generations.
I used a picture of your daughter Brianna when she was 13. It was the month you died. It brings me to tears knowing you had such a sweet young daughter who was hidden.
With Love, X
Preface: this isn’t about everyday interactions that happen over apps. This is about the personal, one-to-one, and private messages people send with intentions they’d rather keep concealed. There is a vast difference. Often, only the person with hidden intentions or desires knows for sure. People in relationships must be on guard to protect themselves.
It’s also about people who are in love, married or committed. Casual dating is a separate set of expectations and rules. Once you’re committed and monogamous, the expectations morph. The label by which you refer to your relationship isn’t what determines these changes.
I don’t know how to address connections through work or other scenarios adequately. We all know hundreds of stories wherein someone begins to morph a previously business-only exchange into something intimate. That’s what access and proximity do. As Hannibal Lecter quipped, “We covet what we see.” People in relationships need to be aware and prepare for those scenarios too. The most straightforward point to stop it in its tracks is the first time your instincts are triggered. It gets more challenging after that point.
There are a lot of lonely people out there. They have unlimited time and a lot of motivation to make connections. Someone is always going to see something in your partner, whether it is sexual attraction, creativity, or a sense of humor. Some of them will act on it and initiate conversations.
And since I’ve learned these lessons through hypocrisy, my partners will have access to my phone. I don’t have hidden apps, passcodes they don’t know, or anything similar. So if you write me and tell me that you want to eat me alive, my partner could see it.
I’ve been surprised by some great marriages or relationships being imploded because of all this. It only happens when there is a lack of transparency.
If someone reaches out by texting, DMing, or communicating with your partner, that’s normal. It’s no different than someone telling your partner, “Geez, you’re good-looking!” on the street. They might not know your partner is in love or their story. At least that possibly inappropriate or exuberant statement made in public is made in the sunlight openly.
People will cast their nets, take their swing, yolo, and all that. The biological urge toward intimacy and sex is already overwhelming. Apps and cell phones have made such access impossibly easy. What matters is how your partner responds the first time someone does. It reflects everything you need to know about love, respect, and understanding how relationships work in their heads and hearts.
If you’re lucky, neither of you has experienced the agony of being on the wrong side of this. If you have, it leaves scars – and those scars make you suspicious of almost all interactions your partner has. They pay for your previous trauma even when they are behaving appropriately and without concealment.
If they’ve engaged once, much less multiple times, the person trying to insinuate themselves sees an invitation. It’s code. You have to answer the door before someone can get inside.
Access is impossible to control.
Clarity, once it happens, is impossibly simple and elegant. “No thanks.”
A lot of people fail at this point. Whether they are looking for someone else, need validation, or enjoy someone being complimentary, they engage the other person and provide access. It’s not harmless. Just because someone knocks at your door does not mean you need to answer it, much less open it.
It’s a great analogy. “Hello. No, I’m not interested, especially since I’m with someone. But thank you!” That’s perfectly nice and acknowledges the other person – but sets the boundaries.
Imagine if your partner received such unwelcome advances and responded, “Hey, I’ve said no thanks. Does your partner know you’re writing the opposite sex on these apps? Have them call me, and maybe we can be friends.” You know darn well how that would go.
Of course, the texting person’s significant other doesn’t know!
It’s easy to get angry at the other person reaching out to your partner, whether they are in a relationship or not. It is cheating if they are casting nets, even without physical contact. They can deny it all they want. That’s part of the game. They are building a foundation toward intimacy or physical connection. Intimacy, even through the internet, is dangerous to your actual relationship. They’re somewhere in a relationship spending their energy, focus, and time attempting to connect elsewhere. All those comments, jokes, wishes, aspirations, sexual innuendo, and observations? Those could be spent with your actual partner because they are your person and would love to share those interactions with you.
If your partner engages in it, you have to assume they are well aware of the motivations of those doing it. If they are not, take the time to explain it to them – and that it’s hurtful and counterproductive in a committed relationship. It’s hard to imagine in this modern age that someone isn’t aware of the possible hidden agendas of the opposite sex. To be clear, this is NOT always the case. But it so often is. And at the beginning, there is no smoking gun, no direct way to show your partner that you’re right about it. Again, the test is whether that person texting has shared their interactions with their partner: it’s doubtful. And if you’re partner hasn’t shared them with you, that should be a warning sign.
The looming problem is that your partner now has a connection to someone. If you don’t know about it, you can be confident that your partner knows it would hurt you to know or read those messages. It’s how many affairs start—words, innuendo, hidden motivations. People get to know each other, and unwanted behavior blossoms. Fantasies, traded jokes, things that your partner isn’t aware of.
The other person is siphoning your partner’s time and possibly affection. People can be entertaining and engaged through these communications. Your partner might be attracted to having someone light, witty, and perhaps sexual. That’s what “too friendly” means. That mental picture they are creating of the other person isn’t wholly accurate. Generally. Our largest sexual organ is our brain.
Another person talking to someone else’s partner may have only platonic intentions. But the frequency, timing, and content of those messages will reveal such purposes if they are entirely and transparently shared with one’s partner. If your partner reads them and sees something you don’t – or don’t want to believe – you should default to your partner’s interpretation. That’s hard to grasp because you’re too close to see it. But if your partner is concerned enough to admit it, fire lurks in that smoke.
Many men approach their texting targets by slowly revealing things about their lives. They hide subtle or clever innuendos in their texts and wait to see if the person getting them responds in kind, amplifies, or shuts it off. They only need to find a crack, a small willingness, or something missing in that person’s life or heart to escalate.
If either of you is discussing problems in your current relationship, this is a massive red flag and a signal to cut off communications immediately. Once it reaches that stage, one or both of the people engaging in such communication has more than platonic feelings.
The same is true for sexual jokes and innuendo. Once the person gets your partner to allow, much less participate in or encourage, sexual banter, the danger dramatically increases. We’re sexual beings. Banter like that is fun and dangerous. Anyone who underestimates how our biology affects us that way is susceptible to engaging in inappropriate behavior.
Everyone starts by being friendly or being friends.
It all starts with access.
It’s the interaction that opens the door.
For toxic people, they know this and don’t hit the door with a battering ram on the first approach. They knock softly and follow the signs and signals.
It’s not mean to tell someone texting you that you are in a relationship and don’t welcome anything untoward. It is the only healthy response if you’re committed to your partner. One, because your partner is communicating openly to the world that they are in love and committed. Two, it establishes expectations and boundaries with the person reaching out. Three, it’s vital that your partner shut off any further communication once they feel that the line has been crossed.
Above all, share this with your partner, okay? Even the benign messages. But especially the ones that went wonky. If you do that, you will actively demonstrate respect, honesty, and love to your partner. If you don’t, if something suspicious ever occurs, it will be difficult for them to trust you when you talk about what happened.
It’s no crime that someone thinks your partner – or you – is attractive. That’s normal. Communicating it is a delicate situation that easily crosses boundaries.
You don’t accidentally text someone repeatedly. Concealing the time and content of that kind of communication takes effort.
It’s the concealment that triggers the worry.
If your partner sees that you’ve left the door open, it’s hurtful.
It would be best if you were transparent and immediate when someone reaches out to either of you.
Sunlight, above all, for both people’s sake.
Love is supposed to be easy and it’s supposed to be kind. Love is easy but daily living distracts us from the essential nature of a one-on-one relationship. Love is easy as an emotion and much more difficult as a commitment and an action.
I think all of us expect transparency. We just don’t know how to get there. I believe this is especially true for younger people. You achieve it by doing it first. If there’s no reciprocity, that’s something you will have to learn to accept, change, or learn from. In my experience, I have learned that it’s impossible for things to get sideways for either of you in a relationship is transparency is the foundation.
Never catch yourself behaving in a way that would hurt you if your partner did it.
Remember, I confess my hypocrisy.
I’ve seen the danger.
Beware, but love openly and fully.
Protect your partner and your relationship.
It starts with access and ends with concealment.
I love sharing on social media. I do. It’s personal, revelatory, and I try to be honest without stepping on people. I tend to step on myself the hardest.
I learned to play the game of Chicken with my crazy dad. Do you know what his secret was? NEVER veer, even if you’re going to get killed. He told people beforehand, “I’m not going to veer. I’m not kidding.” And he never did, even when it could have killed him. People learned not to play Chicken with Bobby Dean. Not in cars, not on tractors, not ever. Never veering is a stupid way to play chicken – unless your goal is to stop people from challenging you. There is no truth I will not confide if it is in my heart to do so.
I wrote very personal posts on the 23rd and yesterday. Both were honest and revelatory. The one from the 23rd was an admission that I’m as guilty as anyone about being a revisionist. I’ve not hurtfully crossed the line needlessly about anyone – including my ex-wife. That’s not to say I couldn’t. Two of the components of my post were to mention that I appreciated the good years, as well as to mention that I could have engaged in a flame war during the divorce, even though I bore the responsibility for the mess. It’s okay to need to gain perspective and distance. Even if it makes me the villain. It’s not okay to wipe away the good times, the good things, or the concessions I made to mitigate my self-made disaster.
With my level of humor and stark, combined with my willingness and ability to literally say anything, it would be manifestly easy for me to shatter a lot of illusions and break eggs. Even while still admitting I’ve behaved like a lunatic at times. I’ve been considerate after-the-fact. I can’t erase the past. It’s unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, or with someone who will respond to accusations by admitting even worse truths himself. No one can win a “let’s share secrets” war with me. I will go there – not out of spite, no matter how someone pushes me to inflame or respond to fire with fire. It’s a fool’s game, especially after the final whistle has blown. The players should exit the field, hopefully with the goal of learning from what happened. Even if they fouled forty times during the game. An examined life always yields lessons.
People trust me not to reveal secrets they share. Believe me, one of the most satisfying aspects of social media is that many people have shared some of the most intimate things possible using it.
As you’d guess, I caught hell privately for the things I shared. Even the post about my wife who died brought out a level of accusation that surprised me. None of those accusations touch the truth, though. Everyone was kind, loving, and supportive to me for both posts. Well, almost everyone. And I love that. Worrying about the critics is another fool’s errand. Because I’m a fool, I’ve been guilty of that at times.
“You’re the villain in someone’s story” has always been true.
Equally true is that telling me I can’t tell my story isn’t going to end well. I’ll be respectful – but not silent. Trust me to be both honest and responsible.
If you play Chicken with me, I will not veer, now or ever.
Because it’s my life to tell, I could tell some stories that would make you wonder if I’d lost my mind. Though I’ve shared so much of what most wouldn’t, especially on my blog, I’ve tempered my urge to be open against the strains of privacy with which so many people shield themselves.
Most of them have the same common thread: we all have a similar composition no matter how people present themselves.
Careers, family aspirations, doubt. All of it succumbs to the same basic need for appreciation and understanding.
Standing in a kitchen, holding someone.
Waiting in a parking lot, even as the rain quickens and drenches.
The gut-wrenching hurt of loneliness, anger, or misunderstanding.
Looking at the doctor across the desk, holding one’s breath, judging the content of one’s life in the interval between test and certainty.
The litany of thoughts, desires, and jokes people tell in private but fear the knowledge that others might see and hear – and judge.
I’ve peeked behind so many curtains in this last year!
All of them are from the same fabric.
We superficially seem to be vastly different; I know better.
I see your secrets.
I know your secrets.
I am your secrets.
For those who wanted a simple timeline, instead of my endless commentary. Names have been changed to protect whoever wants such protection.
One part of my motive for this blog was to share my stories and cement my stories so that revisionists couldn’t later do what they do when attempting to silence someone doesn’t work.
This isn’t going to be perfect. I’m leaving out huge gaps of nuttiness and drama.
People who read this blog won’t know who is being discussed unless they have a Ouija board or an exceptional dossier on the thousands of people in my life.
Earlier this week, my family member (who I will call Mark) created more identities and emails to attempt to interact with my blog. I already have a large list of blocked IP addresses, aliases, and emails he’s used previously. Though I can screenshot them, only people in denial would claim I’m making it up. I’ve shown it to a couple of people, ones who are familiar with the long pattern of anger and addiction that I’ve dealt with.
Mark was always a blowhard. When he was younger, his wit and intelligence were formidable. As his personality hardened, he became a victim to his own assuredness and secrets. We had a lot of great moments. To talk about the ones that diminish him does not negate that great moments occur. Mark hated my outspoken nature, especially when it walked over family honor. (Or dishonor.) Throughout most of his adult life, he was angry. Addiction did not help him in this regard. Whether anyone wants to hear it or not, his legacy will be one of anger and discord. There will be those who point the finger at me. Those who know me know that my life isn’t punctuated by this sort of addiction or constant refueling of anger and drama. It’s pointless.
When Mark resurfaces and starts in on me, he usually has a commensurate reaction in his personal life. When people get out their flamethrowers, they tend to scorch everyone. Previously, I let his wife know. (I’ll call her Jolene.)
I wrote Jolene a simple email to let her know Mark was at it again.
She responded angrily and with a swatch of allegations regarding my motive, character, and credibility.
I replied back, saying I wasn’t going to reply in anger, given that it wouldn’t help anyone, much less either of us.
She replied again, doubling down on her accusations. The email was boiled in anger. I could post the email chain here with names edited. It’s obvious when reading them who is suffering. And although Jolene wouldn’t want to hear it from me now, I still feel a profound sense of loss and empathy for her and those who grew up in Mark’s sphere.
It has nothing to do with morality, superiority, or any of those accusatory defenses. It’s simply a matter of life not well-lived.
I replied a final time, using a short 3-sentence reply, one absent rancor, or accusation.
I went a long time without interacting with my Mark. In 2013, while I was helping to care for a cousin who was dying of cancer, Mark launched an all-out campaign to threaten me. It was effective. He worked in a job that gave him great ability to follow through on his threats and had a long history of alcoholism and anger issues. Instead of pressing charges, I tried to get someone to get him some help. I nearly lost my sanity for a bit.
As he does, Mark flipped it on me and told everyone that I was trying to get him fired. I still have the emails with his bosses that easily prove I’m telling the truth. Having perfected his skills over the decades, he told his bosses that I was bipolar and his family that I was out to ruin his life and get him fired. It took me forever to make him stop contacting me. My cousin died while I was dealing with Mark. Afterward, I had to endure the interference of family members who tried to paint it as a disagreement, despite that Mark had threatened to kill me – and that I believed it. People who knew me and who had heard his voicemails and calls knew it. While I might have been guilty of being an asshole, a charge I must confess to, Mark was guilty of an actual crime, one which I contributed to me trying to get him help instead of arrested.
In the intervening years, I dreaded the other shoe dropping. I knew that it would.
Not terribly long ago, Mark was forced to retire from his job due to alcoholism. I didn’t know that for quite some time. I didn’t know that he had been forced to get treated before, either. How could I know?
He began to call me intermittently and I answered. I was cautious. During one of my trips to Hot Springs, Mark called me. I’ll never forget telling him that he broke something in me in 2013 and afterward and that I might not ever regain it.
Mark began calling me more frequently. I tiptoed around his issues, wanting just to reconnect.
Many of us foolishly try to keep a relationship alive, even while swallowing huge parts of ourselves in exchange for doing so.
I sent Mark books, encouraged him to write his stories down, and made him personal gifts to encourage him. I tried to put in an effort.
Later, his wife Jolene wrote to me using an alias on social media, asking me to please call her. It’s important to note that I did not reach out to her; she asked me to talk.
Much to my surprise, we had an instant rapport, after so many years of not communicating. She shared with me that Mark was suffering badly from alcoholism. We talked many times and at length. I can’t stress enough that it was rewarding. We found out that Mark had told us differing stories to keep us from comparing notes. He had constructed a huge web of deceit and was continuing to victimize those around him.
At some point, Mark called me and told me he was another state to confront an ex-brother-in-law who slept with his wife Jolene. He was going to come back through Arkansas afterward. When I called Jolene, she said, “What are you talking about? He’s outside the house right now.” And she sent me a picture, which I still have.
Suddenly, all the things that Mark shared with me were called into doubt. He had told me a 1,000 stories, many about how evil Jolene had supposedly been to him. Most of them weren’t true. Jolene and I shared a lot of stories and compared notes. Mark had lied about his injury while drinking, as well about so many others. I won’t recount the list here. Suffice it to say there was a staggering amount.
My heart broke for Jolene and her children. All those years of assuming she hated me washed away. Mark was the spider in the middle of the web.
I tried to continue to talk to Mark. We talked many times, usually reminiscing. I tried to avoid mentioning the disparities or anything that would crash his fantasy world. It became harder and harder to do it – as well as to be nice to Mark. The longer I interacted with Jolene and her children, the more I tried to make him get help. I also worked hard to convince Jolene to get as much help as she could and to leave Mark if he wouldn’t do everything possible to get better. We talked many times about these issues.
I can prove it all, not that anyone reasonable would doubt what I’m saying. For those that do doubt, I can prove it. I’d hope that no one would make me. It’s needlessly traumatic.
During one episode, I recorded Mark at Jolene’s request. I emailed her the audio of the conversation. It laid bare to her how deeply Mark’s pathology extended. I’ll never forget that conversation we had. There was no escaping how deeply Mark’s addiction had advanced or how far he’d go to protect his choices.
At one point, Jolene sent me a picture of Mark passed out inside the garage, between the car door and the car. He wouldn’t stop drinking and driving. He was hiding alcohol everywhere.
I spoke with Jolene and one of her children.
I didn’t do it to refuel my drama cart. I did it because I was concerned. That concern grew to be anger at Mark for refusing to get help – as often as it took and for as long as it took. I discovered that he’d been misbehaving for a long time. I already knew it to be true due to a combination of observation, instinct, and passing comments from friends and family. Families traffic in gossip, truth, and innuendo.
It’s true that toward the end, I grew to be disgusted with Mark. I had to avoid him for long periods because I couldn’t peacefully maintain the facade of deceit or pretend I approved of his life. It would have been different had he not been so evil to his own family.
At some point in all this, he was caught driving drunk and endangering a lot of people. It was mishandled and because of his profession, he was not required to be accountable like a normal person. And so, he continued to drink and drive. I won’t share those stories which were shared with me.
He threatened his family and did and said things that were truly malicious.
Jolene told me to let it out and tell him how I really felt. I finally did.
Naturally, Mark waited until the day of the funeral for another family member. I’ve never participated in a conversation so ugly, even those involving my Mom. The level of pathological lying and misdirection was beyond what I’d dealt with before.
For me, the worst I behaved during all of it was during the phone call on the day of the funeral and later texts I traded with Mark In October 2019. I hit him in the jugular to try to get him to admit his issues and to get him to talk with me and Jolene simultaneously so that I could ask questions with her listening and gauge his response.
There are other screenshots in which I’m chasing Mark to be honest, to talk to me with someone else, etc. Truth be told, I wanted nothing except to have Mark and Jolene on the phone with me at the same time.
Ultimately, Jolene stayed with Mark, even though the children wanted her to leave. Jolene tired of talking to me and said she thought it would be easier if she didn’t keep me informed anymore. I agreed. I couldn’t be nice to Mark anymore and I realized that Jolene reached her endpoint.
I talked to her another time, as well as to one of her children, who told me that it was still terrible at home.
I knew the risks of talking to someone so close to Mark and that the likelihood of it being spoiled given enough time would be a certainty.
I traded texts back and forth with someone earlier this year – and it was worse than I had left it. It killed me to know that Mark not only had angrily refused help but had tightened his grip on those around him.
Each time I asked Mark to stop calling me, texting me, etc., he took great pains to go out of his way to ridicule me and do it even more. I have screenshots of pages of his calls. If I blocked his number, he’d leave nasty voicemails. For a time, I had to leave my voicemail full just to keep him out of it.
A few years ago, I had changed my email and phone number to avoid talking to him and my Mom. An allegedly well-intentioned family member gave him my new phone number.
No matter what Mark’s mental condition, he was together enough to employ complicated and ongoing efforts to create identities, use IP addresses, and continue to bother me when he knew it wasn’t welcome. His addiction and anger worked together to continue to convince him that I had no right to keep him at arm’s length.
I missed being able to talk casually with Jolene. We all shared a common battle and it shaped all of us and all of our lives.
But even that is gone now, probably forever, another casualty in the addiction war. Mark won. He’s poisoned us.
I have a mass of notes and records from all the craziness. I don’t like to peer into it for too long or look up details to understand. There’s nothing to understand. It’s just another wasted life being brought to a withering end.
Because Jolene called me a victim and insisted that I love washing in it, I’d agree I’m a victim in the sense that Mark perfected part of his skill at angry manipulation on me. I was stupid for returning to the scene of the crime. I failed Mark – and I failed Jolene and her children.
I knew there was a good chance that I’d end up on the wrong end of anyone conected to Mark. He’s gaslighted so well and so consistently his entire adult life that it is a rare person who escapes unburned.
As for that, there are more footprints on the internet that Jolene may realize. Not from me; rather, from those who were close and shared bits and pieces in their own way. They too shared parts of their stories, whether Jolene realized it or not. I didn’t go out of my way looking for them. They were offered voluntarily and at their own pace. They prove that the carnage was real and much worse than what is willingly admitted to. A lot of people eventually tell their stories. They validated what we all knew and whispered about. It’s no shame that someone had an addiction or couldn’t get their loved one to make amends.
We all failed. I wasn’t equipped to deal with it. I learned my own way and mostly avoided the craziness that Mark did. I didn’t escape it entirely, though.
As to whether I wrote too much about it, I only wrote about it when it dramatically crossed paths with my life. That’s my right. I can’t help it that some of those involved wouldn’t escape it. I understand that they have to paint a different picture, choose another villain, and ask someone else to pay their price on their behalf.
If you think I’m the problem, you need to take a long hard look across the internet. The truth is out there.
The King of Kung Fools Rule: once you ask that someone leave you alone and not communicate with you, total silence is the only option. If you engage, you will be bogged down in a perpetual fight wherein you’ll be held into a perpetual account for exercising your right to be free of someone.
If you’re reading this, you should think of Carly Simon: “I bet you think this song is about you.” It’s not. It’s about me and about the lesson I have to learn over and over.
We watch in society as people with protective orders still deal with the people tormenting them. It’s incredible it requires that. Pathology drives people to ignore the wishes of other adults.
It’s hard. Believe me, I know. I’m a fool on my best day.
Despite what people at a distance from me might think, I’m a bigger fan of snark, wit, and pithiness than you’d imagine.
I don’t care what you have to say or what motivates you. If I’ve asked you to stop communicating with me, you can be sure that you’ve done or said something (or many things) that brought me to the decision. Even if I decided on the spur of the moment, it is still my right to do so.
Even though I’ve been on both sides of this issue when I was younger, I’ve learned repeatedly that when someone says, “Leave me alone,” you should leave them alone. No matter how you’re connected, whether you’re related, past friends, or any other relationship, real or imagined, when someone says “No,” it means “no.” Regardless of your past connection, an adult has the right to say “Enough is enough,” if not, “I’ll let you know when I’m ready.” Forcing a conversation when it is unwelcome is aggressive and indicates that you don’t understand that each person has the right to choose who, what, when, how, and where regarding their lives. Who they permit to interact with them is entirely their choice and not subject to veto.
Manipulators and abusers insist they have a right because of __________. (Fill in the blank with the most common nonsense abusers mention.) This insistence indicates either immaturity, anger, or pathological tendencies on their part. Do not engage further. No matter what explanation you provide, it won’t be good enough. They will move the goalposts, gaslight you, or avail themselves to the tactics that all manipulators attempt. The worst will misbehave by saying or doing things to provoke a reaction. These actions will escalate to horrific levels if you acknowledge them. Being kind to them won’t work. Being mean to them won’t work. Their insistence to have access to you is a warning sign that they need help.
Have I mentioned how terribly I have failed to follow my own realizations listed above? I am an expert in falling into the holes I’ve dug for myself.
If you do engage, they’ll eventually succeed in making you respond with anger. They’ll then triumphantly screech in mock horror (and glee) that you got angry. Your anger at their stupidity is normal. It’s a superpower to be able to ignore abuse like that.
My Mother was a Kung Fool like no other.
At each stage of my life that I exerted control, she’d enlist any available family member to guilt me into reconnecting. My love for her sometimes interfered. It was a long, exhausting cycle. Not too long before she died, I finally broke the bond. I’d had enough. I mean, really enough, not the ‘enough’ of ‘maybe I’ll change my mind later’ enough. I only talked to her again because my Aunt Barbara called me and told me she had stage 4 cancer. Even then, I felt like I violated every protective mechanism I had in place. This was especially true because I had another family that convinced me he was going to kill me. In my family, that sort of thing is discounted at your own peril.
Addressing the other common refrain: you’ll be called crazy, a liar, or heartless. (Or some other word you can find it an Abusers Thesaurus.) IF the other person is correct and I am demanding to be left alone because I’m mentally ill, irrational, or simply hateful, it still doesn’t change the fact that I’ve demanded to be left alone. IF you insist on continuing the attempt anyway, you become the problem. If I’m spouting off nonsense, let me continue to do so and the truth will find me. Even Obama made famous a saying to let fools do their own talking.
If you can’t let me, you’re afraid of my message and that becomes obvious to people watching.
If you’re the abuser or troll, once the word “Stop” or its equivalent reaches you, stop. If you can’t get help, because you have control and anger issues that need to be addressed.
So, again, I don’t want to hear from you.
I’ve always had my DNA set to ‘share’ on the sites I use. Recently, because of renewed interest because of the show “Genetic Detective,” I ensured that it was uploaded to GEDmatch for law enforcement use. I’d been a victim of my own procrastination, even after watching a season of “The Innocence Files” on Netflix.
Are there cons to this? For some people, yes. No pun intended with the use of the word “con.”
Are there advantages? Definitely yes.
I can understand why some people have objections to DNA sharing. I’m not entirely comfortable with it. There are legitimate reasons. There are also many unfounded reasons. The good thing about DNA is that only a portion of the populace needs to participate to map out everyone else – so even if you withhold your genetic map, it is likely another relative will divulge theirs and make your decision moot.
I’m that guy. I have to be. It would be immensely hypocritical for me to constantly tell everyone that privacy is both a leprechaun and unicorn while foolishly attempting to protect my invisible genetic blueprint.
Despite being a liberal, I’m in favor of never having another unidentified soldier, as well as ensuring that crimes involving DNA are solved. It would be ironic for me to be charged with a crime based on voluntarily-submitted DNA results. Mistakes do happen. If humans are involved in the process, things are going to go wrong. If the government can force me to sign up for the Selective Service, I don’t see much of a problem with us collectively expecting a genetic database to protect us all. Again, I recognize that this sort of thing can (and sometimes will) be abused. Using the potential abuse of a few to justify doing nothing different doesn’t appeal to me. No system is going to be perfect.
However, I’ve always believed that DNA (and other advances) are going to strip away generations of mistruths and ignorance about our ancestors. If this information assists law enforcement with doing their jobs, I’m for it. I have the same argument for fingerprints. As long as scientists have review power over the application of such evidence, I’m at no greater risk by others having it.
If I don’t trust the government, I’m already screwed.
Believe me, I have some problems with the government, especially under our current President.
As for the police? If you know me, you know I have a sideways opinion about several of them and systemic objections to the way they are operated. Focusing on these concerns, however, as an excuse to fail to help in the way I can, that would be a greater sin of omission.
The interesting thing about the show is that it beats the drum that even remote ancestors allow for research and triangulation toward suspects in crimes involving DNA. This means that my DNA could potentially come up in a criminal investigation. It’s possible that someone will knock on my door as a result.
I have relatives who I believe are capable of committing crimes, even crimes a generation ago. Many currently living certainly committed such crimes already. It’s not a question of debate. It’s true.
Though I have no proof per se, I also know it’s likely that family members might have fathered children during WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I have only whispers to base my suspicion on. However, my other suspicions have been proven correct, too, even though I waited years for some of them to find confirmation.
For much of my life, I endured ridicule and hostility for some of the views about my Dad. Just a year ago, I found out that my suspicions were correct and that he’d fathered a child with a very young woman in the early 70s.
Such revelations, in combination with a checkered past for many of my relatives, paints a realistic picture that other shenanigans may have gone undetected, too.
I’d like to part of the solution to the problem.
For those thousands of people who’ll be reachable because of my participation, please accept my apologies.
It is my DNA, after all, freely given.
In the same way that some of my ancestors kept their foot on the closet door, gun in hand, in order to protect the skeletons in the family closet, I now stand on the other side, with the door wide open.