Bullying

This blog post is worth a revisit:

From January 21, 2015

Prior Lake Priorities – On Bullying

I know everyone likes to see nice and sunny, funny stories about my sister Amanda, who despite (or maybe partially due to) having Down syndrome, has an offbeat, self-deprecating sense of humor and a characteristic bluntness.  Her one-liners quickly became a hit when I started publishing them on my FB page.

For instance: Amanda is obsessed with past relationships.  I was married twice; once in a prior lifetime, back in the early eighties.  Even now, all these years later, she still occasionally brings that up — an ancient history that I would just as soon forget.  Now Amanda and I both are drifting into *gasp* middle age, complete with the side effects of wrinkled brows and curly blonde chin hairs.  But she still loves to ask people about their exes, and to my chagrin, she has extended this inquisition to various men that I’ve dated.  She queried one guy about his ex wife’s appearance and he replied, “She’s four feet tall and has a beard and a mustache.”

“Oh,” Amanda said.  “She looks like me.”

Unfortunately, with these light-hearted moments come an occasional darker one.  It’s especially sad that for us, the darker ones are usually dealt by family members.  It was my normal MO to ignore other people’s bad behavior, and focus on the positive side of life.  But now I am finding that ignoring bad behavior doesn’t make it go away.  The book I co-authored with Amanda has raised a number of eyebrows, with or without the chin whiskers.

The bottom line is, bullies don’t like being called out.

Today the trend on Facebook is all about the video of one Bradley Knudson, from Prior Lake Minnesota, whose daughter is the victim of bullying.  Mr. Knudson is calling them out by name, in a YouTube video now thankfully going viral.  I say, “thankfully” because shedding light on this problem is the best way to solve it.  I applaud him.

People who don’t have enough conscience or personal integrity to self-monitor should be stripped of their cloaking devices.  My siblings have threatened Amanda, her guardian and me with lawsuits and who knows what else, because we have exposed their bad behavior in THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN.  We’ve even lost one of our five-star Amazon reviews, which our reader apparently deleted after the threats went public.

The funny thing is, in reading these reviews, one sees that they don’t focus on the bad behavior of siblings. They focus on Amanda’s strength, her inherent wisdom, her bravery.  This tells me that our message is ringing true loud and clear:  Get your affairs in order.  Be kind.  Stay strong.  Follow the love.  No matter who you are, what your disability, age, color, gender, chromosome or DNA, you have a voice.  Don’t let anyone force you into silence.

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9 August: In case you were wondering, I didn’t get to see Amanda. She is back in Arizona now. Our efforts to reunite were effectively tamped down by belligerent threats and obnoxious behavior.
Not by Amanda, of course.
Although sometimes I wish she would stand up for herself.
However….  The last thing she said to me was, “Don’t give up.”
For those of you who are beaten down by the white male dominant society, who don’t think you can overcome a proverbial (or maybe physical) smackdown by someone who is bigger and stronger and has more economic muscle, who calls you crazy because you stand alone in the crowd… Think again.
Don’t give up.
You can be an example of strength. Just use your brain and you will find the way.
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Excerpt: Twelve Days On An Island (Rough Draft, Working Title)

I have decided to pony Trudy just in case she lags behind. My choice of horse to ride is always Clifford. He is stumbly now because he can’t bend his left knee, but hasn’t lost his spritely vigor, and his withers twitch with anticipation.

But Trudy isn’t cooperating. Come to think of it, I can’t remember a time when I have ever attempted to pony her off the back of Clifford. She doesn’t seem to appreciate it. She is pulling so hard that it’s taking every ounce of strength I have just to hold the rope.

“COME ON!”

Her neck is stretched out to its full magnificent capacity, her nose forward, her eyes rolling back in her head as she reluctantly plods along, dark-skinned and glossy and recalcitrant as a seal being hauled up on the ice by a harpoon.

Finally, I give up. I dismount, take the saddle off Clifford and throw it on her.

Now it’s Clifford I have to pony. These guys are both in their twenties and they do not mind being left behind. They’ve been up and down the road so many times here, that I worry they will elect to just stay and eat grass.

Clifford clip clops along on a loose lead, heeling like a well-trained dog. But as soon as Trudy starts walking, I can feel the reason for her reluctance. She is stiff, perhaps due to the six-hour trailer ride.

“Oh for crying out loud!”

I get off her and we start walking. I am thinking how absurd this is — I’ve got three horses, and can’t ride a single one of them.

We hoof it on foot all the way down to Clifford’s Bay. When we reach the sandy fork in the road, I tell Trudy, “Okay, this is a soft surface, and we are going to soak your feet in Lake Huron. So I’m getting back on.”

She stands while I climb aboard and we clump along through the trees. Jr prefers to lead, even though he has never seen this place before and to my knowledge, has never seen a lake that looks like an ocean.

We reach a gap in the thick woods, and he stops briefly and stands there looking. The cove is unfurled beneath the gray sky, flat as ice, the trees dark and pointing upward. The grasses are sharp and poke through the water’s surface. There is no beach.

We squish down the two-track toward what was once the expanse of sand. The water seeps up over the horse’s hoofs, and before Jr knows it he is ankle deep in Lake Huron.

He dips his nose in, once, twice, then splashes around. He hangs close to us, circling Trudy, crowding and bumping her. He keeps his head down so he can slurp and blow bubbles in the water.

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Clifford stands comfortably in the coolness, just looking out over the bay with eyes half-closed, enjoying his soak.

Jr is not nice to Trudy in the field. He bullies her, bites her, doesn’t share food. But this day, she is his mommy. He clings close to us; so close I am pushing him away. Trudy just tolerates it, although she does offer to kick him when he bumps against her rump.
He finally sloshes over toward Clifford, who is eating the tall shore grass, and he takes an experimental bite.

The colt’s excitement is evident because he doesn’t stay in one spot very long. He is enchanted with this bay; the air, the water, all of it.

In watching his antics, I understand why the adult world is so enthralled by youth. There is a voyeuristic appeal in watching someone see and experience things for the first time. The freshness, the wonder serves as a gentle reminder that we came from somewhere, that we were once the new, excited witness to the beauty of this earth.

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On To Bigger and Brighter Things: Like A New Book About Morgan Horses

It’s pretty hard to be sad when you have horses who like to play on the beach.

Kerry 7th Gen has made his debut on Drummond Island and he is finding out exactly why his older pasture mates have become migratory beasts.

Over two decades of summers on Drummond has led to some pretty spectacular experiences for horses: and a new book!

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Working title: Twelve Days On An Island: A Family Of Horses

The story is about a five-year-old Morgan and his first summer in the great tradition of his relatives. He inherits the experience, much as I have, from my ancestors before me.

When Jr., as we call him, arrives on the island, I suddenly realize that he has one behavioral idiosyncrasy that is going to make life very difficult for both of us:

He refuses to stand tied.

A horse that won’t be tied up is a big problem.

When his halter is attached to anything, he dances around. He digs holes with his feet. Worst of all, he has developed a habit of leaning back into the halter and breaking free.

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Jr. cherishes his freedom, but the real problem is that for some reason, the experience of being tied up just terrifies him.

His story is intertwined with that of my sister, Amanda, and how the struggle continues to liberate her from the shackles of an emotionally abusive situation. Amanda is my co-author to our award-winning book, The North Side Of Down. Unfortunately it has turned into only the first part in the story of her quest for social freedom, and a human rights battle that is not uncommon for people with disabilities.

Twelve Days includes the usual cast of characters, with Clifford the Library Horse, and Trudy, and a bevy of dogs.

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I’m in the process of polishing the manuscript, which is in journal form, much as the original story, Clifford of Drummond Island, began.

I am scouting around for publishers, but if it doesn’t work out, I will self publish and hope to have the story available by the Christmas season.

BTW, in my search online for expert advice on solving the tying issue, I didn’t find any method similar to how I fixed the problem. It just goes to show there is more than one way to skin a cat…. Or secure a horse.

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The Day I Kidnapped My Sister

I hope to give some uplifting words to people who are being lied about, or gossiped about, or bullied.

Take heart!

If evil people are maligning you, you must be living right.

Just stay above it and keep on track.

I wanted to include this excerpt from THE NORTH SIDE OF DOWN.

I am so glad I documented all this right as it happened, because when I look back now, I still can hardly believe it went down this way.

In one of the most atrocious actions my sister “R1” has ever pulled off, she called the police when I took Amanda to the movies, and told them I had kidnapped her.

R1 at the time was Amanda’s temporary guardian. It was shortly after the death of our dad.

This scenario, in my opinion, is a perfect example of how our justice system fails people with disabilities.

I feel sorry for my siblings, actually. It must be so exhausting to have this negative energy, grinding away at you day after day.

I have recently tried to get down in it with them, and I just can’t. I am no good at it. I don’t want to hang around down there.

I admit it’s hurtful that, after all I did for every one of these people over so many years (you know who you are) they would put so much energy into trying to tear me down.

There is not a single one among them (save Amanda) who has stood by me through the hard times.

Not. A. Single. One.

But that is fine — I just have too much to do to worry about it.

I really like our book, Amanda. I wish I had gotten a professional editor to look it over, but I guess we did okay.

I probably won’t try to revamp it. The story is told — it was a very important phase in my life.

North with BRAG

I do not know the answers to the problems that our legal system faces in scenarios like this. But I do know that people with disabilities need better protection from predatory family members.

Here is the portion of the chapter about the “kidnapping.”  (We actually went to the movies.)

The North Side of Down, Chapter 10 – Excerpt

I met R1 to pick Amanda up after an appointment.  We met in the Wendy’s parking lot and R1 got out of the car and stood in front of the passenger door as if to block Amanda from getting out.  She handed me her cell phone.  “Here.  Rose wants to talk to you.”

I took the phone.  “Hi. What’s up?”

“Can you please go to the credit union and talk to them about Dad’s account?” she wailed.  “They won’t give me any information because your name is on it.”

“It’s gonna close,” I said.  “By the time I get there it will be after five.”

“Not if you hurry.”

I sighed and looked at the clock.  “Okay, I guess we will do our matinee tomorrow.”

I was looking right at R1 when I said it.  She just stared at me.

We hung up and R1 finally permitted Amanda to get out of the car.  “See you later,” I said cheerfully.

Amanda and I took the hour’s drive, listening to our music and laughing.  

“I hate driving fast when I’m this tired,” I said.  “My judgment is like the weather: A little cloudy.”

“It’s not THAT bad.”

“Aw, thanks Manda!”

“I meant the weather,” she said.

“Ha, ha, ha.  Very funny.”

I turned the music up.  “Sister Golden Hair” was playing on a CD my friend Steve had made for me.  Amanda said, “Nancy do you get it? Will you meet me in the middle.” She pointed at me.

“Will you meet me in the end,” she pointed to herself.

We were indeed the middle child and the “end” child. I smiled.  “Brilliant!”

We pulled in to the Credit Union lot that overlooked the ferry dock.  “Wait here.  We can go over to Desi’s afterward,” I said.

Dori in the credit union informed me that as estate executor, in order to get account information, all R2 needed to do was submit a copy of the death certificate.  I smiled and thanked her, and asked her to print me a copy of the account’s activity.  It showed the account was empty, and had been for some time.  I kept a copy in case I needed to face any more accusations.

I held the door to the Mainsail open as Amanda crutched up the ramp and inside.  I left her near my usual table and went into the restroom.  When I came out, Amanda had bellied up to the bar and was surrounded by a half dozen locals.  They were all laughing boisterously.  “My family is crazy!” Amanda was saying, then she spotted me coming around the corner.  “Oops.  I guess I better go sit down now.”

There was more raucous laughter from the group.  “Nice!” I said, and followed her to the table.

We only had a couple of hours to hang out until R1 was supposed to meet us.  But she was running late.  Meanwhile, I bought Amanda a late lunch and while I sat there with my computer, Desi came over and said, “Amanda, do you want a magazine to look at?”

“Yes, please,” Amanda said.

Desi gave her a gossip rag so Amanda had some celebrities to catch up on, while I skimmed Facebook.  “You can keep that,” Desi said.

“Hey thanks!” Amanda said.  She stood up.

“Where are you going?” I said.

“I’m going to the bathroom.  And I’m not speaking to my guardianship.  I’m going whether anyone likes it or not!”

As the afternoon waned, we sat together and Amanda gave me updates on the celebrities featured in her magazine, and showed me pictures of various people, and who they were dating, and who looked best in the same dress.

Two hours later, R1 finally arrived.  “Okay Amanda, let’s go.”

As I unplugged my computer and wrapped up the cord, I watched while Amanda stood up.  Her crutches were leaning against the wall.  She fumbled with her coat while R1 stood in front of her, making no move to help her.  I put my computer in its bag and put my own coat on, meanwhile watching as Amanda struggled with her box of leftovers, her magazine, and her crutches. R1 simply stood there with her hands hanging by her sides, looking on.  I couldn’t stand it anymore.  

“Here,” I said to Amanda.  “Give me that.”

I carried her magazine, her lunch box and my gear, and held the door for her while she crutched outside. I put her items and her crutches in the back seat and helped her into the car.  “See ya tomorrow, Blood Sister,” I said.

The next day I was greeted by a thousand white blobs of petals as the trillium bloomed all around R1’s trailer in the woods.  There was a small cluster of daffodils near her front step.  The hardwoods were covered in a bright green mist.  There was nothing so beautiful as spring in the UP, I thought.  Amanda and I drove to the Soo listening to our music.  This time it was Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, “The Girl is Mine.”

“She’s mine, mine, mine.  Hey!  That sounds like you and Raven,” Amanda said.

“That’s not funny!” I snapped.  She chortled with glee.

When we came out of the theatre, the sun blasted through the front entrance, revealing a sky so deep I felt we could dissolve into it.  The birds regaled us, cheering en masse from their budding heights.  Even though it was mid-May, the air was still and smelled like snow.

“Let’s take a drive down by the Locks,” Amanda said.

“Okay.”

We drove down the hill, through the aged brick-and-mortar town, past the corner bars and the fudge shops, down by where the ships pulled carefully in to the massive stalls known as the Soo Locks.  Tulips bloomed along the walkways, bright splashes of color against the cement.

“Let’s take a little walk,” Amanda suggested.

“Okay.”

I glanced at my cell phone.  It was a little after 3.  If she was getting off work on time, R1 would arrive at her trailer ahead of us.  But Amanda still would be back in plenty of time for dinner.  I pulled over and parked, helping Amanda out with her crutches.  “I just didn’t want to go back yet,” Amanda confessed.

“I understand.  It is such a beautiful day for a walk.  Hey, I’ve got an idea.  Grab one of those little flags I got you, and I will take your picture by the tulips!”

The flags were in a small packet, tucked inside Amanda’s purse.  I had spotted them at Wal-Mart and instantly thought of her. Portable patriotism.

Amanda obligingly crutched over by the flower bed.  I took the crutches and leaned them against the fence, and aimed the camera. She posed with her little flag, smiling against the backdrop of bright colors.

“Perfect!”

We walked through the iron gates, into the park by the Locks.  I looked up and down the river in both directions.  “No freighters today!  Dang it!  Go figure.”

She was quiet, not her usual buoyant self.  She was heading for the stairs of the viewing platform.  “They have a ramp,” I said.  “Do you want to go up there?”

“No,” she said.  “I’m just looking at what this says.”

She had stopped and was facing a square of concrete, an engraved plaque on the wall below the viewing deck.  I stepped over and began to read aloud.

When I finished, I said, “Isn’t that nice?  They give money to the families of lost sailors.”

“That is great,” she said.  We turned and walked along the fence line by the water’s edge.  

I nodded toward a grassy area where picnic tables were scattered.  “We were here about this time last year.  Remember I set up the camera and took our picture?  I think we were right over there.”

“Yes I do remember that!”  She crutched along in silence for a moment, holding tightly to her little American flag.  The young leaves above us moved softly as the Lake Superior wind touched them.  Suddenly, Amanda added, “We are gonna be okay, Nancy.”

I looked at her.  Her eyes were down, concentrating on her steps.  “Yes,” I said.  “We are.”

The walk angled sharply and took us back to the gate near where the truck was parked. We followed it reluctantly and climbed back in.

“I wish I could come to your dog class on Saturday,” she said as I started the engine.  I would be teaching an obedience workshop at JD Kennels, a new business that had opened up in Cedarville.  I was quickly becoming fast friends with Jane Doty, the proprietor.

“I know you’d like to be there.  You can ask Raven.  I would come and pick you up.  But I am sure she has plans for you Saturday.”

She looked out the window.  The corners of her mouth turned down a little.  There were tiny lines on her forehead, long and fine as hairs.  It was hard to see her looking so sad.  I was developing a new appreciation for people forced to share custody of their children.  I thought it ironic that, even though I wasn’t a parent, I was enduring this kind of separation, possibly the same type of pain.  The difference, of course, was that Amanda was an adult.  The law had stripped her of her freedom to make choices; even choices as simple as where to spend her Saturday.

“I don’t know how you do it,” I said.  “I don’t know where you find this strength.”

“I don’t think I am strong.”

“Well, you are.  You are so composed.  You are so calm.”

“But on the inside, I am not.”

I knew it wasn’t the weekend that was bothering her.  It was the whole business.  It was the idea that a mere sister, who should have been her peer, had complete control over her every moment.  It was degrading.  It was depressing.  She had to be wishing that Dad would come back and set everything right.  There had to be some way to make these next few days easier for her.  I searched for something that would help.  Suddenly, I knew the thing.

“Do you remember what I said to you, at the meeting following the hearing?  When you started to cry, and I was hugging you, and I whispered something in your ear?”

“No, I don’t remember what it was.”

“I said to be brave.  And you stopped crying.  Do you know why I said that?”

“No.”

“Do you remember the Special Olympics creed?”

“Oh, yes. Uhm…  Let’s see.  ‘Let me win.  If I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.’”

“Yes.  Do you remember the time I was waterskiing?  And I had lost a ski and I was getting scared, floundering around in the deep?  And you and Marcus were in the boat?”

“Oh, yeah!” She was laughing now, amused at the memory, so confident in her own swimming abilities.  “You are really scared of deep water.”

“That’s right.  I was starting to panic.  And you called out, ‘Be brave, Nancy, be brave in the attempt!’”

“Oh yeah.  That’s right.”

“It really helped me!  So, that’s what I was thinking about when I whispered in your ear that day.”

“Okay.  But Special Olympics isn’t the same.  That’s not what they meant.”

“That’s true.  But it still works. Because there are all kinds of bravery.”

She was silent for a bit, pondering this.  Finally, she said, “Okay, I know what you mean.  But I still don’t want to go back there.”

“I know you don’t.  But just think.  Tomorrow is Saturday.  On Sunday, Ted is flying in from Arizona.”  I knew R1 would keep Amanda to herself all weekend.  The dog class wasn’t going to happen for her.  She needed something to look forward to.  So I added, “On Monday, Ted will be here in Michigan and on Tuesday is court.  It’s supposed to rain on Monday.  That could be our next movie day!  We could see the new Star Trek movie.”

“That would be good!” She brightened visibly. “Thanks for taking me to the Locks.  You sure made my Memorial Day.”

Memorial Day was still a week away.  “I did?”

“Yes.  Giving me the flags, and then reading that sign down by the Locks, about the lost sailors.”

“Oh, yeah.  That was a good Memorial Day thing.”  I hadn’t thought about it.  She was right, though.  If she went with Ted, they would be flying out the Sunday preceding Memorial Day and she wouldn’t be able to visit Mom’s grave, or see any parades, hang Dad’s flag out, or enjoy any of her other rituals.  A simple walk by the Locks for me had been something much more significant for her.  She was seizing the moment.  She had been thinking of our Dad, our fallen Merchant Marine, and carrying her little flag in his honor.

“I’m glad I could help,” I said.

“You still have Dad’s flag, right?”

“Yes.  It is in a safe place.  But you can have it back now if you want it.”

“No.  You keep it until May 21st.”

“Okay.”

“I was just checking up on it.”

“I see.”

We drove on, along the road lined with misty green trees, through the woods spattered with clouds of white trillium.  We pulled up in R1’s driveway.  Her car was parked there, long and black, like something a dour reverend might be driving when he shows up to deliver the worst kind of news.  We got out of the car and I helped Amanda hobble slowly up the steps.  I ran back to the car and got her coat.  As I trotted back with her coat, R1 flung the door open.  

“Hi!” I said, handing her the coat.


R1’s face rumpled into an ugly scowl.  “Nancy, I am gonna be straight with you.”

“No.  Don’t be straight.”  Whatever this was about, I wasn’t going to allow it within Amanda’s earshot, especially with her fragile state of mind.  Amanda put her head down and crutched through the open door past R1.  I turned around and walked back to the car.

“Come back here!”  R1 yelled.

I waved.  “Have a nice weekend.”

Nearly an hour later, as I headed back into the tenuous cell phone range of the Cedarville community, my voice mail chimed in.  It was R1. “If you don’t call me back within five minutes and tell me where you are with Amanda, I’m calling the sheriff!”  

I hung up.  She should have known we were out of range.  Cell phones were useless throughout most of the Eastern U.P.  I forgot about her threat as I pulled in at Jane’s and proceeded to walk around her kennel, discussing our plans for Saturday’s class.  Later that night, my phone rang.

“Uhm, is this Nancy Bailey?”

“Yes.”

“This is officer West from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department.”

I stifled a laugh. She had actually done it.  

“Hi,” I said.

“Are you in Sault Ste Marie?”

“No, I am closer to Cedarville.”

A half hour from him.  He hesitated.

“Can you pick a time to meet me, or if it’s okay, can you discuss something with me over the phone?”

“Sure, we can do it right now.”

“We had a call from your sister, uhm – “

“Raven.”

Better known as R1.

“Yes.  Raven.  She said that apparently you had taken your other sister to the movies?”

“Yes.”

“She said that you did this without her consent, and she is the guardian.”

Temporary – God willing, knock wood, cross your fingers – temporary guardian.

“Okay.”

“Well, I just called to get your side of the story.  I did talk to your other sister, Amanda, who said- “

“You talked to Amanda?”

Great.  Just great.  The poor girl had obviously not suffered enough.  I immediately started thinking of ways to help her deal with this new punishment.  I decided that slapstick would be our best defense.  Blood sisters at the movies.  A felony.  No, a Miss – Demeanor.  De more movies we miss, demeanor we get.  We were going to have a field day with this one.

“Yes,” he said.  “I talked to her.  She said she looked forward to Girl’s Day Out. She said that you went to the movies and took a walk down by the Soo Locks.”

Fun at the Soo Locks – sue me!

“Yes.”

“Well, you do understand that you need Raven’s consent to take Amanda.  I don’t know if you could get proof, or whatnot.  But she has the paperwork and you could go to jail.”

“Oh yes, I understand.”

Girl’s Day Out turns to Girl’s Day In – in the slammer, that is.

“Do you have anything to say?”

I sighed.  Why bother?  Was the whole thing even deserving of a response?  It was ludicrous, but, to at least one person, this appeared like a rational course of action.  Maybe the best thing to do was clarify it, for the record.  “Yes. First of all, I want to apologize for you having to spend time on this trivial issue.  I know there are other things you could be doing.  Raven is lying.  She thrives on drama.  She absolutely knew I was picking Amanda up.  I told her yesterday that we would be seeing the earlier matinee, because we missed yesterday’s movie.  I did it out of consideration for her work schedule.  We have a court date pending on the 21st and she is getting panicky.  I think she is angry because I was an hour late taking Amanda back and then I wouldn’t stand on her porch and listen to her squall about it. Now, it’s her word against mine, so she’s decided to do a little chest-thumping.”

“Okay,” his half-distracted voice told me he was writing.  “So you say she’s a drama queen?”

I laughed.  “Yeah, put that.”

“Well, you know it is your word against hers.”  He was polite, and sounded completely unbiased.  I could tell he was young.  I thought an older cop would have said something like, “Yeah, I agree it’s crazy, but just cut me a break and play along.”

“And Amanda has no say in the matter?”  I asked.

“No, none whatsoever.”

“Interesting.”

“So unless you have some documentation, or whatnot, proving that you have Raven’s consent to take Amanda, if it happens again, you could go to jail.  Do you understand this?”

“Oh, yes, I understand very well.”

Hit the Soo Locks, then throw away the key.  

I thanked him and hung up.  It immediately occurred to me that, in a normal community, this wouldn’t help R1’s case at all.  I was starting to think that maybe she needed to be on some kind of prescription medication.  Her behavior was becoming more and more blatantly irrational.  Poor Amanda!  I knew that strange things could happen in a courtroom.  I didn’t have a lot of faith in this judge, based on what I had already seen.  I could only hope that what was glaringly obvious to me – that being in this person’s control was very unhealthy for Amanda – would be obvious to Judge Temple.

First thing Monday morning, the day she could talk freely, I had a voicemail from Amanda. “Hey Nancy what’s up? I just wanna find out how you’re doing this morning.  I missed you the other day.  You know why, the other day, because Raven’s been calling the cops!  And I was scared.  And she approached them in the house. They asked me the questions. I wondered why they asked me the questions about you, Nancy.  Ugh. I can’t handle this. I was scared.  So I hope you get my message. This is your baby sister. I hope you call back soon. Bye.”

My reaction to this phone call was pure, unadulterated rage.  I thought I could feel blood swelling up in my ears.  It was as if R1 was now inventing ways to further traumatize Amanda.  I realized her actions were due to her own agenda.  But the fact that she had no inclination to put her weird impulses aside at a time like this, even for Amanda’s sake, infuriated me.  I had decided to treat the situation with humor, but Amanda didn’t have a full understanding of why the police were involved.  Apparently no one had bothered to explain it to her.  And really, it defied reason.  It was no wonder she was confused.

The first thing I did was forward her voicemail to Ted, thinking he may need it to help his case. Once I had calmed down enough to where I could make light of the situation, I called her back.  “Hello?  Amanda?  It’s me, your blood sister. I’m in the klink.  They gave me one phone call.  Can you come and bail me out?”

“Oh, very funny!” she said.  But she was starting to laugh.

“Can you believe she called the cops because we went to the movies?”

“I can’t believe it!”

“Was the cop at least a good looking guy?”

“Oh yes.”

“Hot cops!  Okay, that’s good.   Was he nice to you?”

“Yes.  He was very nice.  He said his wife has horses.”

“Oh, you told him about Clifford?”  

“Yes, I did.  I told him my sister was an author, and artist, and trains animals, and does dog shows.”

“Nice!  Thank you!”

“You’re welcome!”

“Well, you know why she called them, right?  Did they explain it?”

“I think so.  But I still don’t get it.”

“Actually it doesn’t make much sense to me, either.  But what happened was, Raven got mad for whatever reason.  Who knows.  Maybe because we stayed out too long.  And then I didn’t call her back, because we were out of signal range when she called.”

“I see.”

“So she called the cops and told them that I didn’t have permission to take you to the movies.  Because she has a court order stating that she is your guardian – “

“Temporary guardian,” she corrected me.

“Yes.  She showed them the court order saying she is your temporary guardian.  So she has the legal right to keep you from going to the movies.  If she claims she didn’t give permission, the cops could take me to jail.”

“They could?”

“Yes.  It’s not their fault.  They are just doing their job.  But they have to do what the court orders.”

“I see.”

“Yes.  When I picked you up at Wendy’s on Thursday, I told Raven we would see the earlier matinee on Friday.  So she knew we were going to the movies.”

“Yes, I remember that!   Nancy.   Do you know what she said to me?  She said, ‘I forbid you to go to the movies!’” Amanda’s tone was angry. She was practically spitting the words.

“She did?”

“Yes!  ‘I forbid you!’ she said!  How can she forbid me, Nancy?”

“I do agree that is pretty extreme.  It’s a good thing we will be in court tomorrow.  We need to get this straightened out.”

“Yes, we do.”


If you read the whole thing, thanks for sticking with us. If you like the story, you can order it on Amazon. It is also available as an audiobook.  Amanda and I split the royalties. It is her life, her story…. Our story.

I hope those who read it will see that all people, in fact all living things, deserve respect.

Just because a person has a disability, it should not make them a tool at anyone’s disposal. Amanda is not a child. She is not a house pet. She is a person: A super smart, funny, generous, loving and sometimes exasperating person.

She is the best sister. I am lucky to have her.

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A Trail Ride By Design?

 

Ponying the baby, on Thursday:

I grab the lead rope that is hanging on a fence post and snap the end on the colt’s halter.
“Come on.”

He pulls against us at first, but then he gets what’s going on and he ponies quite nicely. He walks away with his head by Clifford’s right hip and doesn’t seem to mind going.

We head up the hill. As we reach the top, past the sawmill, Clifford’s head starts to bob, every other step.

“Are you kidding me?!”

He continues to limp. I decide to keep going.

“Let’s just walk this out. You were fine a minute ago.”

We keep walking. He seems better, but then the head bob returns.

“Oh for crying out loud.”

Then, Clifford stumbles. It isn’t just a stumble. It’s stumblestumblestumblestumblestumble as his neck stretches out before me, and he struggles to catch himself for one, two, three, four five six beats. I think about bailing off, making quick decisions to throw the lead rope away on my right and jump off his left side.
But he rights himself.

“Okay. I get it.”

I climb off.

“So now I have THREE horses here and can’t ride a single one of them?”

Today:

When I get back to camp, Clifford nickers to me, signaling that he is ready to ride. Isn’t this the time of day we usually go?

He is standing in the early evening light, outlined in gold. His white blazed face is turned to watch me intently.

After twenty-three years, he knows what time it is on Drummond Island.

“Well, the last time we went, you limped. And, you almost fell down.”

He just keeps watching.

“Okay then. But if you are ready to turn back, you let me know.”

It will be just me and him. I don’t want to drag Trudy out, and I don’t want to put Clifford through another episode with the colt.

I decide that tomorrow, when I go to the Soo for lunch with my friend Lori, I will stop at the feed store and get some anti-inflammatory for both of my elder horses. I just want them to have a chance to enjoy the island, not be stuck in a corral putting up with this bratty punk all day and night.

Til races ahead as Clifford ambles up the hill by the old sawmill. The horse’s ears are perked forward and he strides out with purpose. He loves to go.

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Normally, in years past, there would be a lot more trotting. He was always in a big hurry. But now, I don’t have to hold him back anymore. He walks right out.

We go about a mile and a half down the road, and then he wants to turn down the little two track to Pat’s Lake.

So I let him.

We get about halfway down to the big, swampy lake, and are stopped by a tree that has fallen across the trail.

I look around for an alternate path, but Clifford uses it as an excuse to turn and head for home.

I take this as a signal he has had enough.

I am riding him with just a halter with a rope attached, but I hardly use the rope, instead letting it lie over his neck. He picks up a nice, long stride heading back for home. There is not a single sign of a limp. He still stumbles now and then. He can’t help that. He forgets that the knee won’t bend.

The ground is soft from the morning rain, so maybe that’s why he has had an easier time than the other day; less impact on the joints.

Still, I have to wonder about his sudden stiffness when the colt came on board. The exaggerated stumbling. The eager trot for food after the colt was put away.

I can’t underestimate Clifford. He is, at times, eerily smart. I look up at the trees, overhead, waving their tops in the gusty breeze.

Clifford walks into camp, straight over to Wheelzebub and then with no bidding from me, parks himself in the usual spot. I am laughing.

I slide down. “Well, that was a very nice ride! I do feel better! And thank you so much!”

I can’t resist flinging my arms around his neck and hugging with all my might.

This is why, I tell myself, this is exactly why some of us have horses. I feel, at that moment, nothing short of exhuberant. All my cares are gone.

He looks pleased. I open the trailer door, reaching into the bag for an apple wafer. He accepts it gladly, with a look.

Would that be… Smug?

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Snakes, And A Promise Kept

Well, my brother who currently has my sister Amanda (adult with disability) in his care here in Michigan said that he will not allow me to visit her until I delete or rescind my post about snakes and narcissists.

I said that’s not how it works — I do not delete stuff. But if you change behavior, I will be glad to write about it.

In fact, I said, I will write about this conversation. I promise!

If I see behavior that is conciliatory, and in Amanda’s best interest, I might even apologize for the thing about snakes.

I would like nothing more than to be wrong about these people!

But there I go, being optimistic again.

Anyway, I am planning to take Amanda to movies — FINALLY — on Friday.

Can there be a light at the end of the tunnel?!  Oh please, please, please say there is….

 

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Muskegon Tubing and Witches On the River

The lil ol’ Muskegon River is trending on Facebook today as 3 city girls from Muskegon Heights spent the whole night stranded after tubing on Tuesday.

The girls thought the river went in a circle, going on a conversation with someone where apparently there was a miscommunication, or perhaps they ran into a prankster. (Like someone who might tell tourists about the Porcupine Festival or Hot Air Balloon Rides on Drummond Island, or that the petting zoo closed when the coyotes had eaten all the animals.)

Possibly, someone had advised them of a hairpin turn where they would have to portage with their tubes a short distance in order to get back to starting point.

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We may never know what was said.

According to mLive, though, they “hugged trees” and screamed for help all night.

The young women were, of course, terrified, and my heart goes out to them. But who could help but partake in the fodder of comments that developed in the aftermath?

 

 “So much win in this article I don’t know where to start!” – MIxPlant

 “At first they wanted to go water skiing, but couldn’t find a lake with a hill in it.” –ailteoir
“No names? Condition of the tree? – daretohope
We are (at least momentarily) properly chagrined when NoAgendaFan chimes in.
“Everyone can get a good chuckle from this, but when you see the WZZM report you realize that these were three girls from Muskegon Heights who were interested in getting out of the city, but were ill informed.  The word there isn’t that the river “went in a circle” but that it took a sharp loop (an oxbow https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxbow_lake) and they could basically get in an get out at the same place.  There certainly was probably some mistaking the Lazy River at MI-Adventure which is also in that general area (at least to three kids from Muskegon Heights).  People have to realize that kids in Muskegon Heights don’t have all of the opportunity to see the world outside of their neighborhoods.  My wife was working with a group from there and found that many of the kids hadn’t even seen Lake MI, even though its only 5 miles down Sherman Ave.  So make the jokes and what not, but these girls were trying to see something more than the devastation that belies their neighborhood and were given some bad information.”
I have to think back to Blair Witch Project. It was such a huge disappointment to me, because the whole scenario was brilliant — I loved the idea that it was made by a couple of college students who used real interviews, and the acting was pretty good too.
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Photo by Blair Witch Project

I was all caught up in the story until I saw the main characters who were “lost”, hanging out by a river.
Uhm, hello?
Everybody knows when there’s a river, you are not lost. You are simply misplaced. You can follow a river in any direction and it will take you somewhere. It could be a while, but eventually you will find your way out of “lost.”
However, after reading this story, I have renewed respect for Blair Witch.
In much of modern media, the woods becomes the villain. I sometimes forget that a large percentage of the population is truly terrified when out in nature.
There really are people who don’t know enough to follow a river.
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An Old Horse’s New Trick

All his life, Clifford has been a notorious practical joker. Some of his pranks are small ones. A favorite is a pretend bite, which he does out of the side of his mouth, a quick nipping motion that used to startle me, but now tells me that he’s in a good mood and all is right with the world.

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He has set up more elaborate tricks in the past. These were mostly orchestrated to confuse Dad. He would move equipment or lumber around at camp or hide tools that Dad had just laid down.

He loved to shove Dad from behind, while walking. He would plant his whole face right between Dad’s shoulder blades and give him a push.

He still does that on occasion, but now he does it to me.

A favorite trick he has done for years is to ambush me when he’s running loose and I’m riding Trudy. He will jump out at us, screaming out of a clump of brush or trees at ramming speed, turning just in time to whiz by and scare the bejeepers out of me. He loves to hear me yell.

These fake attacks seldom fool Trudy.

This past week, Clifford set up the most elaborate premeditated prank he has ever orchestrated in the 23 years I have known him.

We had two library visits, one day apart. The first was in Cedarville, the second, a half hour north in Sault Ste Marie.

Rather than drive back and forth from Drummond, I was invited to stay with a friend who lives right in Cedarville.

She is not set up for horses, but Clifford is long accustomed to being tethered out on the grass.

At night, he stayed in her pole barn.

We had a long drive up on Wednesday, and I noticed that Clifford had not consumed any water the night before the five-plus hour trip.

I became slightly alarmed when unloading him in the library parking lot, because there was no manure in the trailer.

I was thinking he was possibly dehydrated, and maybe even blocked. But he seemed fine, willing to gobble up peppermints. So I went ahead with the program, thinking he might actually have to drop a load, and would let me know while we were in the library.

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But he didn’t. He spent two hours entertaining kids and as usual, gave no indication that he needed a potty break.

Any horse owner can understand my growing concern. Pooping is a big deal. It’s a sign of health, keeping things in the system moving. A horse typically poops every hour. Clifford had now waited for seven hours.

A trip to my friend Jane’s revealed no manure in the trailer. I gave him a bucket of water, which to my relief he drank, and then he went to busily cropping grass on his tether.

I was happy to note that later, there was finally a manure pile in the grass. FINALLY.

Feeling a sense of relief, I put him in the pole barn with hay and water and we all said good night. I had told Jane if she wanted to, she could tie him out in the morning.

Next morning I got up and looked outside. No Clifford. I thought he was likely still in the pole barn. I wandered out into the back yard, and heard the unmistakable sound of approaching hoofbeats.

Through the trees he appeared, galloping straight up to me, no halter, no rope, nothing. He skidded to a stop and looked at me.

Jane was nowhere in sight.

I had no treats. I was not prepared to catch a loose horse.

“Follow me. I have peppermints in the trailer.”

I turned calmly toward the trailer and he did follow. But instead of waiting for me to open the door, he decided to blast off across the road.

I called him. He gave one look over his shoulder, put his tail up over his back, and galloped off up the foggy morning highway, his hoofs clickety clacking on pavement,  as cars whizzed past beeping at him.

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I reached into the truck and grabbed my phone.

“911 emergency.”

“I’ve got a loose horse, running north of Cedarville.”

My truck keys were still upstairs in the house. I ran inside and grabbed them. When I came back down, a farmer in a truck pulled up in the driveway and said, “I caught your horse.”

I guess he caught Clifford, saw my horse trailer in the driveway and then put two and two together. Or maybe he had noticed us out in the yard when he was driving past. Everyone knows everyone’s business in a small town. I wasn’t terribly surprised, because the area is rife with horse-wise farmers and well, let’s face it, Clifford would go to anyone.

I called 911. “Nevermind the loose horse.”

I took the trailer up the road about a mile, and there was Clifford, standing in the guy’s driveway with a rope around his neck, waiting expectantly for me to come and get him.

He climbed up into the trailer, and when we got back to Jane’s, I found the evidence of his escape. The halter lay on the ground still tied to the tree. There was a grass-flattened area where he had been rolling.

A fluke, I thought. He had slipped it off. I adjusted it to the tightest hole and put it back on him.

Every time after that, when I looked outside, he was on the ground, thrashing around with all four feet waving in the air.

Damn. Colic. Why did he have to be sick, today of all days? We had an event coming up in a few hours, a half hour drive to the Soo.

I went outside and unhooked him, snapping the lead rope on, and we started walking.

We walked around and around. As we walked, I noticed multiple piles of manure, and his water bucket was nearly empty. I offered him a peppermint and he crunched it down.

He sure wasn’t acting sick. His eyes shone as he looked around brightly, checking out the beautiful Up North trees and grassy, flower-studded meadows.

Hm.

I led him over to the trailer and got his saddle out. I threw it on his back.

“If you are okay, and you need walking, we will just do it this way.”

I climbed aboard and he lunged forward, head up, ears perked, Clackety-clackety-clack and we were off, the little horse with the springy stride, and aboard him I could feel the years falling away. He was purring snorts, smelling the air, checking out all the surroundings. He bounced along down the road and I thought, this is not a sick horse.

“Well,” I said. “I guess this is what you have been trying to do all along.”

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We trotted down a side road until we came to a two-track at the end, and he broke into a run. But the path had a gate at the end with a “No Trespassing” sign.

“HAH!” I said. “That’s the end of your trail ride!”

I turned him back, but he fought it. He wanted to just keep heading east.

I remembered the day before, in Cedarville, when he had been posing outside for pictures with the little kids, but he could see the shoreline from there. His head was up and he just kept gazing out at the water.

Cedarville Library 2016

It is the 23rd year since Clifford first came to Drummond Island, his summer home with the rocky shores.

He had tricked me into riding him. The library thing is fun, but let’s face it, it doesn’t hold a candle to real Up North horse stuff.

It’s hard to believe he would actually feign an illness to do so, but he definitely knows how to get my attention.

Back on his tether that evening, I saw him lie down, rub his head, roll on his side, rubbing, rubbing, no doubt hoping that halter would come off.

I imagined the next time, we would catch him on the beach.

 

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Free State of (Disability) Jones

 

It’s Independence Day, so I guess it is the ideal time to point out that all Americans are not free.

The film Free State of Jones is a triumphant and tragic commentary on how far independence has come.

Matthew McConaughey glides through the film wearing the same expression for the entire 2 hours and 19 minutes: A white-eyed glare, one angular eyebrow lifted, as he bears witness to the carnage of the Civil War and then the exploitation of poor Southerners, and then further exploitation of slaves and former slaves.

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STX Entertainment

I can’t say I enjoyed the movie very much. While normally I would be bemoaning the absence of visuals of McConaughey’s six pack abs or his tight hindquarters (he wears baggy trousers through the entire film), all I could do was make comparisons.

In a nutshell, people who are considered “lesser” on the human scale are exploited for their financial worth. They are given no say in anything that happens to them. They are forced to separate from family and loved ones. They are talked down to, talked over, talked about.

Furthermore, their advocates are targeted with acts of seething hatred.

The same exact thing is happening to my sister, who has Down syndrome.

Bigotry has a wide arc.

Let’s just say the hearing, in which I tried to help give Amanda more control over her life and activities, did not go well.

This was a shameful display of apathy by the justice system. Amanda’s court-appointed attorney never even bothered to contact her. The judge allowed the hearing to proceed though Amanda wasn’t even there to speak for herself.
 Amanda’s court-appointed attorney Charles Palmer admitted that he had not attempted to reach his client prior to the hearing. He had no idea what her opinions were on any of it.
“I thought she would be here.”
Upon learning that Palmer had not even spoken to her, the first thing I did was request that the hearing be adjourned until Amanda could be present to speak for herself.
“Amanda doesn’t need to be here!” said her guardian’s lawyer. “All she’s going to do is mirror everything you want her to say.”
“THAT is not true!” I snapped. “Amanda has her own ideas, trust me!”
The judge shushed me.
The attorney went on to claim that Amanda had cried because she was so upset over going back to court.
I had no doubt Amanda had cried, but I had doubts about the reason. I suspected it was more like she was worrying about me, and upset over the dispute. I didn’t think she was afraid of court. She had not been at all afraid the first time.
After brief contemplation by the judge, my request to give Amanda a voice in the matter was given the smackdown.
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Amanda and me, 1984


I referred the court to the case of Jenny Hatch, a 29-year-old woman with Down syndrome who prevailed in a guardianship case in which the judge declared she could live the life she wanted, rejecting a guardianship request from her parents that would have kept her in a group home against her will. Jenny lives with friends and works for them in their thrift store.
“Jenny has an I.Q. of about 50. Amanda’s, as I recall, is in the high 70’s. Amanda has proven that she can hold a job and make decisions and she deserves to have this freedom.”
I endured a somewhat exhaustive testimony in which I had to defend the book Amanda and I wrote together, The North Side of Down, time and again, and I was accused of exploiting my sister for financial gain (it was never mentioned that she gets half the royalties), was told I was no longer a significant part of Amanda’s life, was told that Amanda is doing just fine and doesn’t need to spend time with me.
The session ended with Judge Harold Johnson saying that he didn’t want to undermine the current guardian.
By the time it was over I was so livid that I stalked out of the courtroom without even so much as a glance toward my gloating brothers.
The court documents revealed letters from our sisters, seven and eight pages long, maligning both Ted (Amanda’s current guardian) and me.
Raechel, who wrote from Colorado, even went so far as to say, “Nancy might just decide that if she can’t have Amanda, no one can!”
Uhm, no. I don’t want to kill her. I just want to take her to the movies.
They said stuff like that, and worse.
Oh yes, they really are that crazy.
In what possibly makes matters worse, the passing of the ABLE Act is making Amanda a valuable financial commodity — a lot like the slaves.
I did get to meet with Amanda once, for about two hours, in a Big Boy restaurant on my way downstate. She was calm and seemed content and healthy, but she managed to sneak a couple of comments in.
“I was wondering what Mom and Dad would say about this.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “They would not like this. Not at all.”
All I could do after that was hug her goodbye and tell her I hope I will see her again. And hold back the tears when she clung to me.
Amanda age 8

Amanda, age 8

I can only hope that she is okay. I hope she isn’t too worried about me. I know she is well seasoned to those who talk down to her, to those who don’t understand her brilliance. Her compassion reaches out to all of them, despite how they treat her. She knows so well that she can’t change anyone.
Last night, as I watched Matthew McConaughey drawl his way through Free State of Jones with his baggy pants and awful beard, I understood how advocates suffer. I used to think that the struggle for inclusion of blacks was about blacks.
But now I understand it is about all of us.
Posted in amanda, disabilities, disability, empathy | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Snake Called Narcissus

My little pond with its rocks and pebbles and shrubs has attracted a garter snake I call Athena, as I explained in a previous post. (Snakes… Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?)

Athena ‘charmed’ me with what appears to be an idiosyncratic habit of playing in the water spout that pours into the spillway. Over and over, she climbs carefully up the water fall, her scaled hide sliding over the stones, rounding the edges, curving upward in her striped elegance.

When she gets to the spout she appears to be overcome by some kind of ecstatic fit. She bites the water and flings her head around much as a dog does when it plays with a hose.

I can’t get enough of Athena.

So, this is my downfall.

This morning, I noticed my biggest, 3-year-old koi, Tuna, was missing.

As I tossed fish flakes, all the others flitted out and gobbled them up as usual. I called. No Tuna.

Uh oh.

It wasn’t too long before Athena slunk out from beneath her salvia “cave,” curving her way across the flat slate, leaving a trail of water parentheses as her body moved.

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She looked at me innocently, but I knew.

There wasn’t a lump or anything. Her body was as smooth as ever. She isn’t skinny, but she hasn’t been.

She gracefully muscled and surged her way into a patch of sunshine, where she coiled up for a few minutes. Then she crawled up on the warm wooden edge of the garden, and lay there, stretched out to the full magnificence of her 35 or so inches.

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I have to justify her presence, since I think she has already eaten all the frogs. I loved the frogs. But any animal who offers an experience you will never forget, plus has no rancor toward you, and is quiet and pretty to look at, is one worth having around.

In fact, many people that I shared the video with, suggested that Athena is some kind of spiritual connection.

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The message from Snake on Spirit-Animals.com said, “Be prepared to defend your territory or your personal beliefs. Understand that your opinions are worthy.”

The snake, I learned, is a feminine energy, the symbol of change, of wisdom and healing.

That’s perfect. On Tuesday, I have to go to court and fight for the right to have a visit with my sister, Amanda. I am fighting on Amanda’s behalf, for her right to choose.

It is not the first time I have had to advocate to the system on Amanda’s behalf.

It frankly is ridiculous, and horrible.

But I feel empowered. I love the idea of a snake charm, helping me through the ordeal.

But Tuna!!!

Yes he is just a fish.

tuna RIP

Tuna first came here in 2013 to live in the horse tank but we built the pond for him that year. He came with a friend but the friend didn’t survive the horse tank days. Tuna wintered in a too-small aquarium in the house. He never really responded to me like some of the goldfish do, but he was fun to watch because of his maneuvers. And he could jump. I once saw him jump up on and land on his slate ledge and then roll back in. He would hit an earthworm, grubs, anything wiggly. R.I.P. Tuna: we really enjoyed you!

I am more upset about this than I expected I would be. I had been warned that Athena might eat some of my fish.

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Do I feel angry at her? No.

 

But I realize she has to be relocated, so I don’t lose all of the fish, or some birds, and so I can bring the frogs back. I am grieving for Tuna, and also for this experience of the water-eating snake that I have never seen and may never see again.

She murdered my fish, but I can’t hold it against her. She is who she is. Her agenda is doing her own stuff, living her snake life.

My job is to deal with her, as she is, so she doesn’t do further harm to me or loved ones.

*ding*

Then I understand the other message.

I cannot afford to remain so angry about this situation with my brothers and Amanda. What they are doing, keeping us apart, is horribly, HORRIBLY abusive, to both of us.

Rage. Pure, heart-pounding, nauseating, wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night rage.

Bullies suck! They SUCK!!!

This is the kind of rage one feels only when witnessing the helpless being victimized.

The worst kind of snarling, soul-burning, gut-wrenching fury that has changed nations, started wars, inspired epic sonnets in its righteousness.

But, my anger has to be tamped down. It doesn’t do well in court to start swearing and throwing things. And, it may already be affecting my health.

I have to set my emotions aside, and realize that I can’t change a snake.

athena5

A narcissist slides through life. Yes, he will play in your water spout. He will entertain the heck out of you. You might even think you are friends. But, lo and behold, when your back is turned, he will rob you.

He will then proceed to sun himself on your patio the next day, and stare at you without even blinking.

This has been an expensive lesson — again — about Narcissus. Oh, man, I just keep running into him. I sooo want to be done with him!

But he continues on with his own slithering agenda, and sometimes he is in your rock garden, and your pond, and he will do damage until YOU get rid of him. Yep, it isn’t fair, you didn’t ask for it, but in order to protect your loved ones, Narcissus must be removed.

It can be done in a humane way. But he has to be gone. Because he may shed his skin at some point, but what comes out is still a snake.

So there will be no peace in the garden until Narcissus is faced down and dealt with, and taken somewhere that he can go snake around someone else.

 

 

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