Leave The Children Alone … Men, Be Good Men

Top secret


 My heart truly goes out to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics  … angry and saddened … for fellow-Catholics who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns.  Another story in the news: victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, get a settlement (Seattle).

*”The Archdiocese of Seattle … to pay about $12.125 million to 30 men who alleged they were sexually abused as children and teens at two Seattle-area schools from the 1950s until 1984, their attorney said.” http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

“The agreement comes weeks after Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”   (Same article:  http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer

Those words from Pope Francis stir up many questions:

“(The Catholic Church should) … take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”

Pope Francis’ words came, according to the article, within the last several weeks. And sexual abuse has been happening since … the 1950’s (?) … but they have made a profound observation that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders.  Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”.  Surely this does not suggest that the Catholic leadership is more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?  I wonder: if the sexual abuse was not exposed, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?



And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes?  The words “Hush Money” have been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse to be quiet about their abuse.  “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace.  Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been abused?  I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way.  Many victims kept silent for a long time.  Why?  Shame? Fear of reprisal?  Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”?  And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests.  For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but instead a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled.  You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do.”

The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous.  At least, there is some good news: the “Hush Money” is exposed; the sex offender priests are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known.  All of this as opposed to the secrets continuing.

  • Secrecy …
  • Is a predominant theme …
  • In the depravity / violence of …
  • Sex offenders …
  • And the fear / shame of …
  • Victims

When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.

Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.

*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone.
*$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month).
*$100 million in 2005, January.

“According to Donald Cozzens, ‘by the end of the mid 1990s, it was estimated that… more than half a billion dollars had been paid in jury awards, settlements and legal fees.’  This figure grew to about one billion dollars by 2002.”  http://en.wikipedia.or/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

Between 1994 & 2009,there have been over 1,835 victims of sexual abuse.
Settlements / legal fees between 1994 & 2009?  $1.269 billion.

Here is the last piece in the story that brings about great disruption and immeasurable sadness from the link, http://news.msn.com/us/seattle-archdiocese-to-pay-dollar12-million-to-settle-child-sex-abuse-claims-lawyer:

Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,

“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

REALITY CHECK, people.  Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing with all of these men and women who have been victimized.  For some, yes.  For some, no … for some there will be no healing.  And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say (my paraphrase) …

“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad.  And we don’t want to hear anymore about this.  Now, get out of here.”

Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.

The money …
d o e s   n o t    c h a n g e …
what happened.
The money …
d o e s   n o t    g u a r a n t e e  …
full healing.

Last question, maybe irrelevant:
Is there any correlation between victims of sexual abuse and suicide?

Those are just a few links to go to if you are interested.  All links are unanimous in their research: yes, there is a correlation between childhood sexual abuse and suicide. So, healing?  No, not for everyone.



Men Who Are Pre-Suicidal

Many men have these types of mantras:

  • Leave dust, or eat dust;
  • Nice guys finish last;
  • It sucks to be you;
  • Its a harsh world;
  • Each man for himself.

And there are other men who are:

  • Emotionally or psychologically paralyzed;
  • Wounded;
  • Having racing thoughts;
  • Isolated;
  • Hopeless;
  • Overwhelmed with futility.

Neither list is exhaustive.

The man who is pre-suicidal is not always recognizable.  He may smile when he is supposed to; make eye contact when he is supposed to; laugh when he is supposed to.

The man who is pre-suicidal may be a dad; or a husband; or a single man.

The stats show that many men who complete suicide do not tell anyone before it happens.  They don’t always give clues in their talk.

Some say that suicide is based on:

  • revenge;
  • irrational thinking;
  • depression;
  • fear;
  • anger;
  • belief that they are damaged goods.

Blogging, I believed, can be a significant means of decreasing suicidal thoughts / actions.  I say this because for some folks, blogging is the only community they have.  And community, when it is healthy, helps to keep an individual thinking healthy thoughts.

Some might disagree, understandably.  Some have a logical perspective that goes something like this: “If someone chooses to take their life, that is their decision.   I am not going to worry about anyone who may be suicidal / pre-suicidal, because I don’t have time to think about such things.”  And this makes sense.

Others worry too much about such things.

And others care deeply about the relationships with friends / family / work associates.

And what can you do if you sense that an individual is having suicidal thoughts?

  • A big part of this is that each person has their own responsibility to get help;
  • Another big part of this is the theory that some folks are so “down the road” that they don’t know how to ask for help; and even if they did ask for help there is a belief that no one cares.  And for some people, that belief is accurate.
  • Based on the above, we as peers can be (but are not obligated) attentive to any signs (verbal or nonverbal) that there is trouble brewing in the life of someone we know.

Lastly, the man who is pre-suicidal must:

  • Move in redemptive, productive, ways;
  • Grab hope with passion and intentionality, and hold on: that is a man’s responsibility;
  • Grab courage, because it is there . . . inside them;
  • Realize that it is easier to check out at times, than to check in.
  • Search heart and mind for the causes of suicidal thoughts, and make changes ASAP.
  • Build some healthy relationships that are reciprocal: investing into a relationship, not just “taking;
  • Think outside the box;
  • Pray.

Life is difficult.  Life has some purpose, and we need to find that purpose, and keep our eye on the ball.  There are honorable ways to fight.  We have to fight for our lives, our sanity, our self-care.  “For some men, it is not the fear of dying, it is the fear of living.”  Unknown







S.A.D. Truth: What Do You Do? Part Two


Winter Cabin / http://www.flickr.com

Doctor-types  gave it a name: S.A.D., “Seasonal Affect Disorder“.  Pretty fancy. Spring will not step in until it is time to show up.  Power  struggles flare up between Winter and Spring.  Eighth season, and the snow is here.  My hope, is to get through it, stay ahead of it; read some good books, watch some quality DVDs, use the snow shoes, get more spiritual; read the bible more often.  Most of my neighbors are people who move back to a warmer place during winter.  Human interaction is limited.  Isolation is, almost, unlimited.  A famous man, or woman, once said ‘Live for the present’.  Okay, I guess.  The S.A.D.’s  is here. “

We bloggers have numerous works in progress.  I never throw mine away, even though they may never go anywhere.

For those who do experience the cryptic S.A.D., then you already know what it is, and what you do.  So, what do you do with Seasonal Affect Disorder? Some folks drink; some do mind altering substances.  Some just give up and sit in their depression, and are irritable, and isolate because … 1) no one wants to be around them; and 2) those with S.A.D. may have no desire to be around anyone else.

So if you have some substantial struggles with Seasonal Affect Disorder, here’s my take:

  1. Consider going through a winter without alcohol, and / or mind altering substances; or with a defined plan to cut down on your intake.  You won’t know if it helps until you try it.  It will guide you toward other choices and to think other ways.
  2. What? The road isn’t plowed?  Don’t use it as an excuse to stay home, be bored and depressed and grumpy.  So put on your Sorel snow boots, snow shoes, and go for it.  Get into town, sit down with some good coffee.  Go to the library.  Connect with someone.  What’s that? You don’t have any friends?  Well, that’s a potential problem. We can talk about that later. https://i0.wp.com/www.highsnobiety.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/bape-sorel-boots-1.jpg

  3. Lean into your pain, your angst,  your depression, and stand strong against that Black Dog.  Reach down into your soul, your fortitude, your experiences of battles from the past and tell yourself “I’m tougher than hell.”  And you are.  You might not know it.
  4. Find a therapist, to at least think outside the box  with.   Safety Tip – Get recommendation / referral from someone you know / trust. *Sometimes when I recommend therapy, people say “NO!  I’ll never do that!”  What I am hearing is that they would much rather be miserable, as opposed to discover some relief in their life.  Some people don’t know what it would look like to be happy, or to discover peace of mind.  Such a change might be too disruptive.
  5. Another piece to consider in all of this is the realm of prescribed meds.  Enough said.  If you can get relief from a non-addictive med, then its probably worth checking into.  After all, those of us who experience the Seasonal Affect Disorder knows that it has a fairly serious bite.

Winter is coming.  What do you do, for Seasonal Affect Disorder? 





Igor & Eeyore, Male Depression, Slight Humor

cartoon image of angry man jumping up and down

My fifth grade teacher returns from his errand, bursts through the door, crazy eyes, searching each one of us for the ringleader for our prank:  “WHAT … is the MEANING OF THIS?!!  Things happen, it was a long time ago, and we lived through it.   But the question has transcended our years on the planet: (a variation) “What does this mean?”

Other end of the spectrum, a philosophy professor.  I brought in a book I was reading (by Kahil Gibran) … wanted his opinion. He looked at the book, paused for a good minute, and I knew he was not impressed.  “Sit down. (pause) In philosophy, I ask three questions: 1) Is this true?, 2) What facts support this?, and 3) What does this mean?”

‘Never forgot that discussion.  I focus on male depression with the work I do . . .  And with the multifaceted pieces of male depression, this necessary question comes up:

Cover of "I Don't Want to Talk About It: ...
Cover via Amazon

“What does this mean?”  I will once again reference this work: I Don’t Want To Talk About It by Terrence Real.  Excellent read, if you have any interest in male depression.   Because of my commitment, or eccentric desire, to think outside the box, I have thought of other metaphors for male depression.  A short ride, but go ahead and fasten your seat-belts: we’re going outside the box.

Igor going after a brain.

I was thinking of Igor, but I get Igor and Eeyore confused.  At times I think of Igor as a small mule with an abnormal growth on one of his shoulders, who works for a severe introvert, a temperamental bear … I found out that it was not a mule with a bowling ball-shaped growth on his shoulder.  It was a human being working for a guy named Frank … not a bear.  I think of Igor as an unfortunate gentleman who experienced a great deal of isolation, which is part of the whole depression dance. Igor has some performance issues and he goes to great lengths to become accepted.  He has a crush on a gal, Esmerelda, and she doesn’t really love him, but she doesn’t have the substance to tell the poor boy … Things get messed up real quick.

Quasimodo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In fact, in one story he goes by “Igor”; and in another story he goes by “Quasimodo“, the Latin words “quasi” and “modo” also mean “almost” and “the standard measure” respectively. As such, Quasimodo is ‘almost the standard measure’ of a human being.’  Anyway, Esmerelda dies … and Quasimodo kills his boss who is in reality “Frollo“, which should NOT be confused with “Frodo”.

Let me add some words that might tie all this together.  Igor and / or Quasimodo are given a great weight to bear, which . . . for me ….  symbolizes a number of things, possibly depression.  Igor / Quasimodo deal with isolation, stigma, great sadness, and anger at times.  Those are just a few items that intersect (at times) with male depression.  I used the term “Eclectic View” because I do believe that the men who fight depression effectively MUST think outside the box and think from an eclectic perspective: CBT, Rogerian, Existential, NLP, RET … etc., In addition to thinking with responsible eclecticism, a depressive MUST acquire redemptive humor.  Oh, as for Eeyore?  He had an exchange with a bear that struck me:

“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it is a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.  /  “Why, what’s the matter?” “Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can’t all, and some of us don’t. That’s all there is to it.” / “Can’t all what?” said Pooh, rubbing his nose. / “Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush.”

Yes … an eclectic view.

Writers: Ever Heard of Lou Blonger?

Not referring to spectacles, as I am wearing now, to see clearly, as in “I can see clearly now the rain has gone …” (Credence Clearwater Revival / John Fogerty).   No, I am referring to readers: books, articles, blogs.  Not only writers, but readers.  Stephen King, in his book on writing, said:

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Most of us are reading different things, these days.  I am oddly reminded of the importance of reading today.  I am visiting a little town two hours west of Denver, an hour outside Rocky Mountain National Park.  And I’ve always … always … always … been intrigued by the legends and stories of Mountain Men, Mountain Men Outlaws, and Mountain Men eccentrics. Front Cover One particular volume I’d like to throw out on the small table to the side of your infamous reading chair (maybe you have more than one reading chair): Outlaw Tales of Colorado by Jan Elizabeth Murphy.   Murphy covers one character in particular, who intrigues me: Lou Blonger, who came to Colorado in 1879.  

Lou Blonger was raising a great deal of hell, running con-rackets, a saloon, a gambling house.   What Murphy tells you about this ruffian is really wild.  Another “player” in the con-games in Denver, Soapy Smith, ” …was running the underworld (at the time) …  and his brother Bascomb were charged with the attempted murder of a saloon manager. Realizing he had lost control of the situation, Soapy left for the mining boomtown of Skagway, Alaska in 1897, relinquishing control of Denver’s underworld to Lou Blonger.”  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lou_Blonger

From that point on, when Soapy Smith left Denver (1897) Blonger ran the underworld in Denver.  Lou Blonger was known as: “The Fixer“; “The King of the Con Artists“; “The Overlord of the Underworld“.  All of that came to an end in 1923, when he went on trial, was found guilty, sentenced for 7 years, but died in 1924 at the age of 74.

See what you miss out on if you are not a reader? Be a better writer.  Be a reader.

Fellow From the Past

‘Stood below the six-foot mark; somewhere between 150 and 200; hair, eyes, the color of a muskrat; a recipient of a few psychological  issues he did not ask for, one example being intermittent manic symptoms, with sting-like swings into melancholy.  He was in his mid-thirties, and never considered himself an extrovert;  but communicating with folks in social situations was . . . doable … for short periods.

[The drawing, top left, was created from Jeff Hein / heinacademyofart.com.  This is an amazing image, that fits the good-hearted man I am describing in this post.] 

If and when the first hint of depression emerged, he glided away like a prehistoric hawk, into hiding.  During such times he read Faulkner, Hemingway, Foster, the Hardy Boys, and Jack London.

William Faulkner / rjgeib.com
William Faulkner / rjgeib.com




Col. Charles T. Lanham and Ernest Hemingway / http://commons.wikipedia.org
Col. Charles T. Lanham and Ernest Hemingway / http://commons.wikipedia.org
Richard Foster / www.aacc.net
Richard Foster / http://www.aacc.net

Eye contact was second to none with some unexplainable exceptions. He had a “lazy eye” (the left) and a full beard, slight gray in the middle.

Hardy Boys
Hardy Boys (Photo credit: Chris Blakeley)

He drove a red Ford pickup truck, with a gray wool blanket (purchased at a garage sale for a dollar) over the bench seat.

Thousands of sunflower seed hulls scattered over the floor mats.  Between the driver’s side and the passenger side sat a worn brown bible (pages, thin, curved up at the corners – – – page numbers rubbed off) and a small spiral notebook to jot down “to-do” items and measurements for building supplies and sheds he was building for people.

A cup of black coffee /  needmorecoffee.com
A cup of black coffee / needmorecoffee.com

His first cup of black chicory coffee was between 5 and 6am. The writing started about that time, and went to 10am.  The deal with the editor was . . . three pieces each week: from fishing to hunting to grieving to laughing to friendship.  Chicory coffee didn’t interfere with him from sleeping like a big dog.  But he couldn’t sleep worth a hoot if didn’t write well.  The book he was working on would probably never be finished.  But that didn’t matter.  He wrote every day between 5 -6am and 10am; and from 7-8pm until 1130-midnight.  The chronic pain got going some nights during that time.  He would write with such intensity to take his mind off the pain.  I always felt like there was some courage, there, living on and writing on and pressing on, in the midst of mania, and blues, and pain.  And if he couldn’t write, because of the pain, he would just weep for a while, drowned out by loud Bruce Cockburn music.   If he wasn’t fishing, or hunting, or visiting old folks, or building sheds and things for the people he cared about, he played his fiddle, or took walks with his dog that looked a lot like this one (courtesy of http://www.farmprogress.com):

A good dog. ‘Didn’t complain much about anything. And that is all for now, other than that he was a good guy.

Evil Thieves in Cleveland

There are different kinds of thieves.  Ariel Castro is one of the worst, most evil, kinds of thieves on the planet.  He stole ten years from three woman; Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry, and Michele Knight.

Here is a random question: is there is a pattern between certain crimes with certain cities?  I consulted a website (you may all be familiar with), “Neighborhood Scout”.  This is what I learned there.

Cleveland’s Crime Index is “2”.  This means that Cleveland is safer than 2% of American cities.  The safest index would be “100”.  A resident of Cleveland has a 1 in 72 chance of being a victim of a crime.  Fortunately, the State of Ohio’s rate is much different: the chances of being a victim of crime 1 in 325. 

Here is a look at some numbers for Cleveland, Ohio:

Murder:  .19 per 1,000 / National Average: ..05
Rape:   .9 per 1,000     / National Average:    .27
Robbery:  8.03 per 1,000             /  National Average:  1:14
Assault:  4.68  per 1,000             / National Average  2.41
 Crimes Per Square Mile: 376    /  National Median 39.6

Here’s New York City, Crime Index is 47 (remember, the higher the number, the safer the city):

Murder:  .04 per 1,000 
Rape:  .14 per 1,000 
Robbery:  1.46 per 1,000 
Assault:  2.34 per 1,000 

I am crazy about stats, but I also cannot ignore that numbers can be helpful when it comes to data.  I cannot imagine the hell, the despair these three women went through, for ten years.  Some goons stole ten years away from these women.  Is there something wrong with this city, when it comes to keeping their people safe?