The Meaning Of Black History Month

My Dear Readers,

Black History Month concludes this week, so I am using this week’s post to explore its meaning.

Black History Month means different things to different people, so I am very aware of the mixture of feelings, particularly pride, sadness and yes, anger that can arise.  I feel them myself.  So, as my grandmother would say, I intend to “rake the mud on the bottom and watch the muddy waters rise to the top.” So cometh the muddy waters.  As I have stated before, my comments are solely my own and do not represent the thoughts of others within my community.

We live in two worlds. In one, we are shown the glamour experienced in one of those worlds, and yet, what is hidden is the world of pain and suffering that may have been the foundation for these individuals’ successes.

As a kid growing up in the southern United States, the black history I lived was not the black history I was to learn later on in school.  I learned about the contributions, achievements, and the accomplishments of Black Americans such as:

  • Crispus Attucks: the first casualty of the Boston Massacre and the American Revolutionary War. He became the icon of the anti-slavery movement.

  • George Washington Carver researched the promotion of alternative crops to cotton such as peanuts, soybeans and sweet potatoes.

  • Sojourner Truth was among the first women’s rights activists.

  • Harriet Tubman served as an abolitionist, humanitarian and spy for the Union during the Civil War.

  • Frederick Douglas was a leader in the abolition movement, a social reformer, a writer and statesman. He was the first black American nominated for the Vice President of the United States in 1872.

These contributions, accomplishments and achievements are important, but the common theme is that all of them, at one time, had either been sold into or born into slavery.

What can we as a nation, a society, as a community of African-Americans and as individuals learn from the struggles of these five individuals?  We can understand that their struggles and traumatic experiences in their personal histories led them to great achievements as they assisted in sculpturing the American political and economic landscape.

It is in the duality of living in two worlds that the pain and suffering of one population and the guilt and shame of the other population are both hidden away. The history remains so far removed from our modern lives that in our outrage as a nation regarding the burning alive of a Jordanian pilot in a locked cage by the blood soaked hands of ISIS, we lulled ourselves into ignorance of this country’s past in which 4,743 African-American men, women and children were lynched between 1882 and 1968.

One of those lynched was Jesse Washington in 1916.  A young white man who witnessed the murder wrote in a postcard to his family about the “carnival like atmosphere” in which he and his young friends “enjoyed front row seats.”  He included a picture of Washington’s charred body with the caption:

“This is the barbeque we had last night.  My picture is to the left with a cross over it.  Your son, Joe.”

A historian describes the photograph:

“…Jesse Washington’s stiffened body tied to the tree.  He has been sentenced to death for the murder of a white woman.  No witnesses saw the crime; he allegedly confessed, but the truth of the allegations would never be tested.

The grand jury took just four minutes to return a guilty verdict, but there was no appeal, no review, no prison time.  Instead, a courtroom mob dragged him outside, pinned him to the ground and cut off his testicles.

A bonfire was quickly built and lit.  For two hours, Jesse Washington, still alive, was raised and lowered over the flames, again, and again, and again.

City officials and police stood by, approvingly.  According to some estimates, the crowd grew to as many as 15,000.  There were taunts, cheers, and laughter.  Reporters described hearing “shouts of delight.”

When the flames died away, Washington’s body was torn apart and the pieces were sold as souvenirs.  The party was over.

Yet the “party” is not over.  The lynchings and other traumatic experiences of African-American people would continue well into the 21st century.  During the days of “nigger hunts,” blacks were victimized and killed by a variety of means in isolated sections and dumped into rivers and creeks.

To many whites, killing African-Americans “wasn’t nothing.”  As reported by whites, it was:

  • “Like killing a chicken or killing a snake”

  • “Niggers jest supposed to die ain’t no damn good anyway—jest go an’kill’em.”

  • “They had to have a license to kill anything but a nigger. They are always in season.”

  • “A white man ain’t a-going to be able to live in this country if we let niggers start getting biggity.”

  • (about lynchings) “It ‘s about time to have another one. When the niggers get so that they are afraid of being lynched, it is time to put the fear in them.”

Learning about and understanding Black History allows us to remain aware that there may always be those who, due to their own fear, maintain their perceptions of what African-Americans deserve, and display behaviors that reflect that. Only in understanding the pain and suffering as well as the achievements and accomplishments, that we can fully understand the importance of staying true to our direction and goals even in the most difficult of times.

Concluding Words

People should feel that history is not only about significant achievements of “great” historic figures; it can also be about how the individual lives her/his life.   It is from these stories of personal achievement and tragedy that we learn wisdom, perseverance and the commitment to walk one’s own path or direction.

The mistake that is often made with Black History Month is to limit its richness and celebration to the month of February of each year.  Instead of limiting it to 28 days of February, let’s utilize this period as a springboard in making or creating or telling our story.

Let’s use March-January to make history, February to be reflective, and then start it all over again, making history.

Black personal history and community history can be gained just from interacting with people in the neighborhood, such as teachers and mentors. The celebrated contributions and achievements often begin with small steps.

“Life is like a marathon. Finish the race; don’t worry about coming in first place. Cross the finish line. Just finish the race. Finish what you start.”

Ten Flashes of Light on the Journey called LIFE.

Until the next crossroads…the journey continues…

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Blowing Smoke In An Empty Chimney: Underneath Male Privilege

My Dear Readers,

I have dedicated the year of 2015 to examine male privilege, and specifically, its impact within the African-American community.  For years, we have focused on civil liberties and human rights. In doing so, our male leadership has ignored the pain and suffering that comes from our attempts to justify male privilege in our community as a result of this movement.

Although male privilege has historically been seen as a characteristic of white males, black males have also benefited from this privilege within their communities.  This has not only resulted in traumatic impacts on male-female relationships but also has had a profound effect on how male identity and self esteem is valued and pursued.

A major outcome of male privilege is domestic violence.  Domestic violence disempowers and traumatizes not only the family and the individual involved, who imprisons himself by such actions and behaviors, but the community as well.

Below is such a story….

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Dear Visible Man,

I need your opinion regarding something that took place between my wife and me.  My spouse and I are African-American. We have been married four years, and we have an 18 month-old baby, and are expecting another child later this year.

We have very intense disagreements.  There have been several times when, following an argument, I have come home from work to discover that she has taken my son and left. When this happens, she usually goes to a relative’s house, stays 1-2 days and then returns home.

After our most recent argument, I was concerned that she was once again leaving with my son, so I blocked the door to prevent her from leaving.  She suddenly began screaming to the point where people throughout the apartment complex could hear her.  I immediately got out of the way.  She left with my son, returning one day later.

After telling them about the incident, one of my coworkers informed me that I could have been arrested for domestic violence against my spouse even though I did not touch her.  This is total crap.  The cops are going to come and put me in jail for what? Because I wanted to stop her from taking my son?  Nonsense!

I can’t believe that’s true.  I dare the cops to come in and touch me.  I am not going peacefully.  I will sue their ass for harassment.

Just saying.

Got Rights Too, Seattle, WA

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Dear Got Rights,

There are times in which I simply want to shake my head and say move on.  This was one of those times.  Yet, I kept returning to this, re-reading and shaking my head.  My grandmother used to say that “an empty chimney will blow smoke and no fire.”  And this is exactly what you are doing.

Could you have been arrested for domestic violence? Absolutely!  I’ll explain my reasoning in a minute, but there are a few questions I want you to consider:

  • Was the child being placed in danger due to your spouse’s desire to leave with the child?
  • Did your spouse threaten to not return with the child? Is there a history of leaving during times of tension and not returning with the child following a cooling off period?
  • Did your spouse act recklessly in her actions? Was the child at risk of injury by your spouse’s actions?

I would ask you to be willing to explore the following:

  • The possible trauma that the child is going through by the constant emotional upheaval between you and your spouse.
  • The possible anxiety and stress being placed upon your spouse and the child she is carrying during pregnancy.

In the State of Washington, where you live, the definition of domestic violence is:

“Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; sexual assault of one family or stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family member or household member by another family or household member.”

(RCW 26.50.010)

It is essential for you to understand that it is NOT the role of the police officer investigating the alleged violation to prove “de facto” (i.e. in fact, or in effect, whether by right or not) that a law has been violated and whether you have violated the law.  The police officer has the authority to exercise his/her BEST JUDGMENT whether

  • the law has been violated, and
  • Whether there is probable cause to hold a specific individual for the violation of the law.

Furthermore, it is the office of the prosecutor and not the police officer that decides, after reviewing the written report by the arresting officer, whether:

  • a law has been violated, and
  • Whether there is sufficient evidence to show de facto that a specific individual is to be charged with the violation.

Here’s why you, due to your behavior, may be subject to arrest for violation of the stated legal code:

  • By blocking your spouse’s avenue of escape, this may be probable cause for arrest should your spouse be able to establish that because of your actions, she felt that she or the child were in danger of imminent harm.
  • Your spouse was pregnant during the time of the altercation. The police officer has the discretion to designate your spouse as a vulnerable person, which is also probable cause for arrest, if your spouse believed she was in danger from you.
  • The fact that your wife was heard screaming throughout the apartment complex by others may also be seen as probable cause for arrest.
  • Remember, best judgment is subjective not objective. Every police officer may have a different standard to reach “probable cause.”

Concluding Words

Young man, your words demonstrate immaturity, privilege and reckless disregard for the safety and welfare of not only your family, but for your personal safety as well.

There is nothing in your words that can justify the actions you took.  There is no indication that you have taken into account the impact of your behavior upon your child.  There is a history of repetitive emotional turmoil between you and your spouse.  Your spouse acted with reason and forethought to remove the infant, herself and the unborn child from the residence to allow for a cooling down period.

Since the child was never in danger, and there was never a threat of terminating your contact with the child, one can only conclude that you blocked the door to prevent your spouse from leaving because you were upset that she was taking the child outside your area of control.  This behavior of power, control and domination is not in balance with a mature and healthy marital relationship.

There is a specific issue of male privilege in which I would ask that you address with yourself.  In loving the other person, you must question your underlying need to command obedience.  If you do so, you may see that the problem lies not within the relationship, rather, it lies within your own psychological foundation and your ill informed perception of what both masculinity and the marital bond consist of.  From a professional and clinical viewpoint, such behaviors will not maintain a healthy martial relationship.

Not only have you been reckless in placing your spouse, child and unborn at risk of traumatic impact, your comments about how you would respond to the police (“I dare the cops to come in and touch me.  I am not going peacefully”) are a signal for a train wreck ready to happen.

Should the police come to arrest you, they will come prepared to deal with you with all means necessary and that includes the use of deadly force.  Police officers take domestic violence calls very seriously, and such incidents have led to police officers and others being hurt and killed.

If there is a willingness to listen to anything I’ve said in this piece, remember these words and live to see another day, with your spouse and children:

  • Never, ever resist the directions of a police officer.
  • Follow all commands without hesitation.
  • Release your “personal space.” Allow yourself to be handcuffed and taken into custody.
  • Whatever concerns there are…seek resolution in the courts ….not in the streets.

Many of our issues as African-American men lie within intergenerational trauma and historical trauma.  Over the years, experiences as a people with an enslaved and disfranchised history repeatedly responding to the pressures of racism, oppression and discrimination will create this trauma.

Lacking power within society at large may reinforce the desire for power within the marital relationship.  In doing so, one only succeeds in the infliction of further trauma and disempowerment.  Your actions in seeking power, although hidden under the veil of love and concern, may be in all actuality, displays of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and disempowerment.

Stop blowing smoke from an empty chimney.  The power you seek lies within self.  It is not power over your loved ones that will bring you this power.

I strongly encourage you to address the basis of this behavior.  Move past the cultural taboos of seeking assistance to explore the psychological pain, which lies within.  The issue is one of trauma.  We do not have to continue to suffer or inflict suffering onto others.

A wise person learns from his/her mistakes, makes corrections and finds the right path; the foolish one will continue without direction, never finding the road even when it is in front of his/her face.

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

 

The Visible Man

To Protect And Empower: A Parent’s Guide To Interaction With The Police

My Dear Readers:

It’s no secret that we live in troubled times.  Police-themed television shows of years past such as Dragnet, CHiPs, S.W.A.T. and others portrayed police officers as a dedicated group of individuals committed to “protect and serve.”  Back then, the police strongly held the public trust.

Today, we see a largely militarized police force.  Their reaction to riots such as the one that occurred at the WHO conference in Seattle, and the aftermath of the grand jury verdict in Ferguson, MO and individual criminal acts like the rape in Oklahoma City and beatings of citizens across the country have beleaguered the police as an institution and as a result, many citizens view them with suspicion and distrust.

In 2002, the US Department of Justice published a survey of 80,000 Americans involved in police directed traffic stops. They found that:

  • In general, 9% of White, 9% of Black and 9% of Latino drivers were stopped
  • Black and Latino drivers were less likely to be issued a simple traffic warming from police and …
  • Black and Latino drivers were more likely to be handcuffed and arrested.

Although in many cases the charges were dismissed, the “record of arrest” is NEVER erased, and therefore follows the individual to his death.

  • Even though the charges may be dismissed, how does one “dismiss” the experience of public humiliation and the traumatic memories that may result?

When it comes to the safety of their children from being stopped, arrested and shot by the police, many of today’s African American parents live in fear.

Below is such a story…..

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Dear Visible Man,

I am the mother of two African-American sons, ages 16 and 12.  I am a faith-based person who has strong belief in my God, whom I accept as my savior.

In January 2015, my 12-year old son became upset after hearing about a story where an elderly black man was thrown against a police car and handcuffed by a white female officer here in Seattle.

The officer alleged that the elderly man had threatened her, but upon further investigation by the Seattle Police Department, it turns out that the police officer had falsified her actions and that the elderly man was innocent.

I am very much concerned with how these stories are impacting my son psychologically.  Between this incident and the events in Ferguson, he is very fearful of the police.

He’s had nightmares of being shot by the police and being left out in the street uncovered.  Now he has recurring dreams of being beaten by the police as he is walking along the street.  Once, he woke up screaming hysterically and would not allow me to leave his side.

He said that in the dreams, I was crying over him.  He is now very hesitant to leave without me.  I have difficulty getting him to go to school.  At night he sweats profusely and has on several occasions, wet the bed.

When we are in the car and he sees the police he becomes anxious, shakes, and slumps so he can’t be seen.  My older son laughs at him, and calls him names, saying that he is weak.  My older son says he isn’t afraid and nothing going to happen to him.

As they get older, they are becoming more involved in activities outside of my home.  I’m not able to be with them all the time, but I still want to protect them.  They are all good boys, but I worry most about my oldest, who can be mouthy when interacting with those in authority. Both of them are very tall for their ages and consequently can be mistaken for being young men instead of little boys.

I have spoken to our pastor, and he has prayed with me.  I have prayed over my sons, placing holy oil on their foreheads, asking God to keep them safe.  I just don’t believe this is enough to protect them. I live in fear that I could lose my children if the police should stop them.

I am scared.  I have one defiant son and the other one is frightened to the point of being paranoid.  Should I limit the information my 12-year is observing when it comes to media and the police?  What do I tell my sons? How do I protect my sons?

Running Scared, Renton, WA

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My Dear Madam,

I want to thank you for taking the time to openly share your concerns regarding the welfare and safety of your children.  The concerns you have expressed are no doubt shared by countless parents throughout the country.

Indeed, numerous pastors of churches and leaders of faith-based organizations are speaking to their congregations and memberships about these issues. The question at the heart of these discussions is simple: what do we tell our sons?

Let’s begin by clarifying your concerns regarding your sons:

  • The 16 year old is “mouthy” to adult authority. In addition, given the resulting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson he appears not be take the matter of safety seriously as it relates to interacting with the police.  Furthermore, he has made demeaning and unsupportive comments regarding the actions of his younger sibling.

RESPONSE:

Given his age and level of maturity, he is within the middle phase of the developmental stage of adolescent behavior.  Individuals within this phase tend to have the attitude of “living life large” without the concern or personal safety.

Children in this stage of development often have the perception that bad things happen to others and therefore minimize the impact of reality upon themselves. As a result, he has a carefree air and acts with bravado when he envisions his own interactions with police officers.

This combination of immaturity, the nature of the developmental phase and poor conceptualization of fear can be lethal. As an African-American male, this attitude can place your son at risk when he comes in contact with police officers.

  • The 12-year-old has been very focused on the news media regarding the shooting of Michael Brown and now, the recent abusive treatment of the elderly male in Seattle. This has resulted in having an intense fear of the police. He has nightmares, anxious feelings and on occasion, bedwetting.   He is reluctant to attend school and has increased anxiety when he is away from his parent.

RESPONSE

Given his age and level of maturity, he appears to be within the early phase of adolescence.  In repeatedly viewing this media coverage, your son has been over stimulated and negatively impacted, thus culminating in the responses of nightmares, anxious feelings and bedwetting.

Let’s clarify your concern as a parent:

  • As the parent you are “running scare” You are fearful that the police will mistaken your sons for being older than their actual age. As your sons are getting older, they are being involved in more activities where you cannot control their actions or whereabouts.  Your faith has seen you through difficult times, but you are not sure that it will see you through this one.

RESPONSE

It is perceivable that the ongoing media coverage as well as talk within your faith based community has resulted in your own vicarious traumatization. You really are “living in fear.”   Living in this fear has resulted in your own psychological disempowerment.

What do I tell my sons? How do I protect my sons? 

First, I would like to clarify a point of concern. Fear is a normal human emotional response to a given situation We must want to normalize the concept of fear, rather than demonize those who are wise and honest enough to acknowledge what is a very natural and human emotion that is exhibited with in all of us, regardless of gender.  Simply put, fear as an emotion can be utilized to heighten our vigilance in a specific situation.

Second, it is my hope that in reading my response to your concerns that you will be able to transform from living in fear (running scared) to living with fear (achieving empowerment).

Third, you can normalize fear and begin the movement towards living with fear by equipping your sons with training on how to respond when interacting with police officers.  Having such information will serve to empower them as individuals and help them work to be with their fear instead of in their fear.

As your sons are getting older and getting involved in activities outside the home, there is the possibility that they may be a driver or passenger in a vehicle.  In the event of being followed by a police vehicle be aware: the officer may be:

  • Running your license plates for possible warrants and infractions
  • Observing the vehicle for malfunctions and defects
  • Observing for suspicious behaviors
  • Preparing for a possible stop and search of your personal space including your body and personal possessions

As your sons may be involved in community activities and find themselves being observed by a police officer be aware that the officer may be:

  • Questioning whether they are “out of place” or not
  • Scanning them for suspicious behavior
  • Preparing for a possible stop and search of your personal space including your body and personal possessions

Teach your sons that the police are prepared to use deadly force (as in the incident of Michael Brown) or unnecessary physical force (should he or she feel physically threatened (as in the incident of the elderly male in Seattle)

  • Understand that it is the officer’s perception of whether he or she is being physically threatened that counts the most.

Teach your sons that they are not helpless; they can be empowered by following these actions:

  • Use their powers of observations and inform the police officer of their legal status as minors/juveniles
  • Request that their parent or legal guardian be available prior to answering any questions
  • Inform the officer of their intent to remain silent until they have legal representation-and then STOP TALKING
  • Document the incident and any concerns regarding the behaviors in question
    • Date, Time & Location
    • License Plate / Vehicle Number
    • Officer’s Badge Number
    • Legal Organization (City, County, State Patrol)
  • If needed, file a written complaint with:
    • The law enforcement agency’s Internal Affairs Department
    • The Mayor’s Office or County Executive
    • A City Council or County Council Member
    • A State legislator for your district
    • The Governor’s Office

Concluding Words

I recommend that you pursue mental health treatment for your 12-year-old son.  The symptoms that you have indicated—nightmares, anxiety, bedwetting, fear of being without their parent and school avoidance warrant further evaluation by a trained child or adolescent mental health professional.

I would also recommend that you identify an individual who has competency working with ethnic minorities as well as advance training in the field of trauma for your son’s treatment.  I would also encourage open discussion with your son regarding media coverage of police misconduct and abuse.  I would be hesitant to restrict such information, as these are the realities of what can occur when an African-American male interacts with members of law enforcement.

I also recommend that you engage in a serious discussion with your 16-year-old son.  During earlier times, when your 16-year-old was in elementary school, police officers may visited the kids in the classrooms, knew the kids in the neighborhood and may have resided within the community he served.

However, times have changed; it is often the situation that police officers may live in a different community or city, far away from the one the police officer patrols and serves. The consequences of this distance and separation lends to greater fear and tension that the officer may have towards the community he or she is entrusted to “protect and serve.

Our children in general have the responsibility to “protect and empower” themselves.  Specifically, our young people can choose to be dismissive of what is occurring around them in the world of today or they can choose to “Love the Self” by taking steps and adopting specific protocols directed for their protection.

The realities for young black males are sad, bleak and yet true.  Across the United States, members of law enforcement, private security officers or vigilantes kill a black male every 28 hours.

Until change can be effected, the following is evident that one’s protection may be dependent upon one’s complexion. Through no fault of their own, African-American males and other males of color are viewed with suspicion, and even though they are entitled to the conflicting emotions they have about this, they must still abide by the rule of law and respect those who are sworn to enforce the laws of their community.

However, there is a distinct distance between “respect” and “trust” that our children must be taught.  Specifically, respect is a “given” whereas “trust” must be earned.

Give the police officer your respect.  Protect yourself.  Empower yourself.  Have the police officer earn your trust.  Then trust with caution and consistently verify.

To be successful with school and workplace politics: decide after careful consideration who to trust. Then trust with caution and consistently verify.”

-Ten Flashes of Light for the Journey of Life

The Visible Man

The Price Of Enjoying Male Privilege

My Dear Readers,

I am grateful to return to writing for Loving Me More.  During my time away, I traveled to the Justice Institute of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where I completed a year-long trauma certificate program in Aboriginal Focus-Oriented Therapy and Complex Trauma.

The program was excellent.  As I sought to improve my skills as a Clinical Traumatologist, I learned more about myself as I continue my own journey of self-discovery.  I greatly benefited from the experience and the relationships I formed, and was honored by my peers with a new name: Gentle Bear Who Walks Softly.

In this week’s writing, I speak to the tragedy of “male privilege,” which has wounded women, children, and men as well, and resulted in historical as well as intergenerational trauma within the African-American community.

Below is such a story……..

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Dear Visible Man,

I am so overwhelmed, and I have to tell my story.  I am an African-American woman mother of three children, and I am recently divorced from my husband in a marriage of 20 years.

I finally had enough after coming home exhausted from my second job and having him ask me if I could work overtime so we can get some bills paid.  I just told him he had to leave.  I did love him, but I wanted him to go out and hope that he would become the man that I knew he could be, because he wasn’t reaching that potential with me. I was finally able to accept that my ex-husband was never going to be the provider my family needed and would always continue to expect me to be the wage earner while he sat at home unemployed.

Three months later, he comes by and gives me $450.00 to buy clothing and food for the children. He was proud as he gave me the money, and I was shocked, but happy. I felt that he was finally living up to his potential.

Later on, I learned that he was working as a “life coach” to a woman who was 27 years his senior.  This made me suspicious, since I knew that he wasn’t trained to be a life coach.  As if that wasn’t enough, he was actually living with this woman and she had given him a cell phone for which she was paying the monthly bill.  She had put him in her will so he would receive the house and car, and I later learned that the money he said he earned actually came from her!

Needless to say, I was stunned.  I have been crying for three days.  My ex-husband is a nothing more than a gigolo.  He is selling his body to a woman who is older than his mother.  He actually wants our children to meet her.  I told him absolutely not.

Lately, he hasn’t been available for the children.  They are always asking me why he doesn’t call or respond to their voicemails.  What do I tell them?  What do I tell our family and friends? He is not being truthful to anyone.  People are starting to question me after talking to him.

I am so embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated.  I just can’t stop crying.  I need to stop crying.  I wish he would just man up and stop being a ho.

Hurting & In the Dark (Seattle WA)

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My Dear Woman,

I feel the pain and suffering as I listen to your words.  I only ask that as your tears flow, please allow the body to continue letting go, releasing the pain, allowing the tears to flow.

In reading your letter, I am reminded of the fable “The Scorpion and the Tortoise.”  In it, a tortoise who gives a scorpion a ride across a raging river on his back is stunned when the scorpion stings him halfway across, ensuring the demise of both animals.  As they go down beneath the waves, the tortoise asks the scorpion why he stung him, to which the scorpion replies: “You knew who I was when you met me.  I am a scorpion. I was only doing what comes natural for me.”

THE MARRIAGE

My Dear Woman, let be honest, for twenty years you were married to this person.  For twenty years, he never provided for you or the children.  During the entire marriage, while you held two jobs, he held none. What does this say for his commitment to supporting you and your partnership?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why did I terminate the marriage?
  • If he had been consistently a non-provider for twenty years, why would he change at this time?

THE CHILDREN

My Dear Woman, as a responsible parent, it is clear that you are seeking to protect your children.  However ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I protecting them from?
  • Why is it in their best interests to hide the truths of their father’s behavior?
  • How will the children respond to me should they find out that I lied or covered up information regarding their father’s behavior?

FAMILY & FRIENDS

My Dear Woman, please remember that if we see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil, it is not because one is blind, mute or deaf.  Rather it is because we have chosen silence.  Have the willingness to ask yourself the following:

  • Why has your ex-husband chosen not to be truthful to family and friends?
  • After talking to him, why are the same people coming to you for answers?

THE LAND OF MAKE BELIEVE

My Dear Woman, your ex-husband may want to live in a made up world, but you must decide whether you and your children are going to join him.  Assuming that you left your former spouse for the right reasons, why would you think he would transform into the “person you feel he could be?”

In twenty years of marriage, he showed you the reality of his inner self. Since you saw no hope for or intention to change, you left the relationship.  Now, you are seeing behavior from him that validates your decision to terminate that relationship.

As parents, we must never lie to our children.  However, it is crucial for the parent to decide how to tell the story and at what age the story should be told.  To willingly lie to protect him may reinforce the pain you are seeking to prevent as well as create a troubled relationship between you and your children.

EMBARASSMENT, SHAME & HUMILIATION

My Dear Woman, You are feeling embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated. Why do you carry this burden? What specifically did you do? Working 1-2 jobs, providing for your family?

It appears that you have unwittingly fallen into “the trap” created by the “larger group,” that is, society, community and family.  As individuals, all of us spend our lives in service to this “larger group.”   These entities seek to control the individual by exerting social pressure or as in this situation, your embarrassment, shame & humiliation.

Having done nothing wrong, it is up to YOU and not the “larger group” to define you and dictate your direction.  You are empowered, however only if you allow yourself to be.

CONCLUDING WORDS

My Dear Woman, language may change with the sands of time, but some behaviors and actions do not.  In my day, there were men known as gigolos who preyed upon vulnerable women.  This was a result of male privilege that reinforced the suffering of not only women and also the children who witnessed their sordid behavior and actions.

Your comments about his “failure to man-up” are incorrect. He is not a failure as a man.  He has failed due to his unwillingness to live with fear and instead has chosen to continue with long experienced behaviors of using women and thus living in fear.

It is clear that he is able to seek employment, but that he has instead chosen to sell himself sexually under the guise of “life coach” to a vulnerable woman.

Allow your children to see the consequences of poor self-esteem, self-worth and the lack of self-validation. Allow them to see with their own eyes the traumatic wounds that it creates not only on others, but also on the individual who allows himself to be used in such a manner.

Let them stand at the crossroads…and hopefully they will choose to do what their father is unwilling to do. Love the self …and in doing so …learn to love the self MORE.

The Visible Man