Author of The Glass Character, a novel about the life and loves of silent screen comedian Harold Lloyd. Loved writing this book, love Harold! The Glass Character was published by Thistledown Press in spring 2014, and is NOW available in both paper and ebook form through Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Thistledown Press.ca, and everywhere fine books are ordered over the internet. Harold is already generating lots of excitement, and the DVD of his famous clock-dangle from Safety Last made everyone howl at the book launch. I'm also the author of two other well-received novels, Better than Life (NeWest Press, 2003) and Mallory (Turnstone Press, 2005). My (ongoing) process/spiritual biography: writer from the start. Obsessed with the word. Climbing that mountain, sliding down, climbing up again. Most gratifying quote: "Better Than Life is fiction at its finest" - Edmonton Journal
(An excerpt from one of those advice columns, it doesn't matter which one)
October 23, 2012 -
Give YOURSELF the chance to start fresh
Nearly two years ago, I broke some dishes on our loft’s concrete floor. I left. My wife broke the rest of the dishes. She also broke the kitchen tap and didn’t know how to turn it off.
She called the super who told her to call the cops. She lied and said I did everything. I got arrested, got legal aid, pleaded guilty, and got 18 months’ probation for "mischief under $5000."
Calls from my probation officer to my wife, to ensure my possessions were returned, went un-answered.
We operated a business together. I was its founder in 1998 prior to re-incorporation in 2005.
Now, I have next to nothing, struggle with making ends meet, and trying to get a job that doesn’t receive anonymous phone calls that get me sent home.
I have no money for a lawyer; get no help/sympathy from Police, or Probation.
The judge who sentenced me said I’d get my possessions back.
We’re not divorced. My probation disallows direct or indirect contact, unless by lawyer, till the end of November.
I was told that some of my possessions were sold. My wife told the courts/police that I worked for her at her company. I never received a paycheck since she re-incorporated in 2005.
I was her biggest cheerleader and found nearly 100% of the new clients, while she managed accounts, lied to me about the lack of progress on them, while telling clients that I was to blame when accounts’ issues arose.
It's like I had no idea who I married. I totally screwed up and put her at the company’s helm.
Sometimes I feel I should move to another province, but I don't want to leave my family.
I've had a lot of therapy, but I can't seem to choose to accept this and move forward… as if the universe won’t let me heal until I figure out what I’m supposed to learn from all this.
Used and Defamed
You’ve written to a relationship advice person, not a lawyer, so I’m looking through the lens of your relationship with yourself. You even close your account with an inward view… about being stuck, unable to heal from the whole episode, unable to move forward.
The issues of your lost possessions, along with business and other past “screw-ups,” must now be kept separate from your sense of self, of inner strengths and abilities, and of having a future.
You need income. You need your family. And you need to regain self-respect. You’ve served the probation time. Hanging on to despair about your stuff, or the company, keeps you mired in sadness and defeat.
Legal Aid workers can ask the court to now demand the return of your remaining possessions. It’s a practical matter; your self-esteem does NOT rest on it.
Focus on what’s needed immediately, which is a job. If anonymous calls start, inform Police you’re being harassed.
Give yourself a fresh chance at the future.
Tip of the Day: Even significant mistakes can be put in the past, if you believe in yourself.
Blogger's Comments.EARRRGHHHHHH. I am old enough to remember the ancient dinosaur advice columnists such as Ann Landers and - who was that other one, her sister? The stuff that ran then was pretty mild, such as the earth-shaking issue of how should you hang the toilet paper roll, with the end of it facing in or out. She was coy about anything sexual, and the really raw problems were - well, I'm not even sure there WERE problems like this way back in what they now call "the day".
It's not so much the appalling mess this guy has got himself into - doing a lot of heavy blaming for what strikes me as an obscenely abusive pas de deux - but the pat, ribbon-tied advice this "expert" gives him, the shallow "positive attitude and self-esteem" stuff that is so easy to dispense in a world that is becoming more superficial and less literate with every passing day.
I have a feeling there is a lot more going on here than this guy is revealing, just from the menacing subtext which seems to murmur the abusive tyrant's sweet refrain: "Look what you made me do." What appals me even more is the way women seem to be sucked in by these frightening losers, as if they have no protective emotional radar whatsoever.
Maybe I watch too much Dateline. I don't know. But it happens over and over again, not just on some slick American TV show but right here in my own back yard. I wonder sometimes what sort of cushy self-esteem-oriented advice these rotters get that gives them license to go right back out there and find some more victims.
What frightens me even more is this: more victims are never in short supply. In too many cases, women CHOOSE to be with men who are convicted criminals. They write them sweet letters on death row, even marry them, buying their well-practiced, totally self-serving line of bullshit that they were railroaded by the legal system and are in fact completely innocent. I once heard it said that a woman like this will walk into a room with 100 men in it, and gravitate immediately toward the one loser, the one on probation, the one with a secret wife stashed away, the one who can't help his rages because he's in the throes of a terrible addiction that he can't recover from because he was abused as a child, and furthermore, whatever is wrong with him is HER fault anyway, so how can she leave and stir up all his tragic abandonment issues?
Women can be just as evil and slimy as men, can be sociopathic murderers and not bat an eyelash, but it seems the really elaborate, Byzantine stories of emotional destruction are man-to-woman. These guys don't need hand-holding or lectures on self-esteem. They don't need bullshit New Age therapy that tells them "the universe won't let them heal" until they figure out "what they are supposed to learn from all this". Jesus, give me a break.
They are supposed to learn that they are assholes, and if they don't change their behaviour and their attitudes and KEEP them changed, they will always be assholes. But that's not the refrain we hear from therapy circles.
First, I don't get this "universe" stuff, as if all the stars and galaxies revolve around ME, the mighty epicentre of all things. It reminds me of The Secret, that infamous crooked belief system spawned by sociopath James Ray, which claimed we can have anything we want (and isn't that the purpose of life, after all: to get what we want, particularly wealth?) just by wanting it. Even Oprah got down and kowtowed to this person, who obviously fed into her financial might-means-right philosophy. In an insulting parody of a sacred native ritual, Ray brainwashed his followers into entering a cobbled-together, unsafe sweat lodge, an updated version of drinking the Koolaid, this time involving searing smoke and fatal fumes.
I don't even think Galileo believed the universe was some sort of Big Daddy God-force that looked after him, wiped his nose and patted him on the back, spewing out "lessons" at regular intervals. I'm afraid such an entity does not exist. I used to ascribe to it, more or less, but I now believe that there is no one hovering above us that knows everything about us, that made us in the womb, etc. If there is a God, it's a totally impersonal force that was somehow ignited when life on earth began, then didn't know how to stop itself. The rest was up to the relentless forces of evolution.
If there is a personal God, then it lives within us - hardly an original thought, but it's the only one I can adhere to after a personal crisis that nearly tore me to pieces - and it has become more imperative than ever that we listen to it. Whatever it is, wherever it comes from, I believe it compels us to love and care for one another in a way that can make a profound difference. If we think we can get something just by wanting it, try wanting sensitivity - wanting compassion - wanting grace.
If I got a letter like this guy's, and thank God I'm not one of those glib advice-spewers who generally have no qualifications at all to do what they are doing, I'm not sure what I'd say. How about, for starters: you're a creep, buddy, you're lying to me, and if SHE had a chance to speak she'd tell me a whole load of stuff you didn't say because you're a con and a sociopath who sucks people dry, then ruthlessly moves on. You can't say that, or you don't, because everyone has to learn to love themselves, even Jeffrey Dahmer types who strike me as more reptile than human.
Is there no such thing as true recovery? I know it exists, I've seen it, but it's hard work, it's long and discouraging and must be maintained day by day for the rest of your life. How many criminals and cons are willing to take on such a gruelling wilderness trudge when ripping people off and fucking people over is so much easier and even more personally gratifying?
I get tired of it all. Tired of the bandaids plastered over cancer, the "stay positive", the basic falseness that keeps people from finding real recovery, the kind of recovery that generally speaking turns your guts slowly inside-out until you somehow find some semblance of personal authenticity.