Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why I care what James Arthur Ray says and does

Today my husband asked me why I'm so obsessed with James Arthur Ray.

"I'm not obsessed!" I protested

"Yes you ARE!" He insisted

"Johnnie, why would you even think such a thing?" I asked, puzzled at his insistence.

"Because you are, Jeanne" Folding his arms across his chest. "and you god damned know it."

I had to think a moment on that one, then realized he was right.

"I mean it's not like James-the-Happy-Gourmet took you or me for a shit pile of money or charbroiled you or anything like that. All the guy did was call you a bunch of stupid ass names. Even I call you stupid ass names."

"It's not about me Johnnie, the posts, blogs, comments and twitters. It's never been about me."

"OK, then why do you give a flying fuck what that asshole did, does, or might do?"

"Because it could have been YOU Johnnie, it wasn't, but it could have been. And it could have been me."
Face of Compassion and Love

When dozens of people were sprawled out on the ground with injuries sustained while participating James Arthur Ray's sweat lodge, he did NOTHING. He left the state and flew to a paid event to make money. He didn't even bother to contact the families of the injured. Liz Neuman's family had to find out she was hospitalized via the news media.

When Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman and James Shore, died ~ he again did NOTHING. He didn't refund the injured their money, didn't pay their medical expenses, or refund Arizona the costs for all the ambulances, helicopters, and paramedics ... didn't visit ANYONE in the hospital, didn't offer a single apology.

Regardless of whether James Arthur Ray was legally required to pay back anyone (soon to be decided by various courts), IS BESIDES the point. It would have been, and is, the right thing to do.

What James Arthur Ray did was to set up a conference call between all the victims.

During this call, Barb, one of James Ray’s staff members said “of the two that had passed [Kirby Brown, James Shore] and they left their bodies during the ceremony and had so much fun they chose not to come back and that was their choice that they made.”

I wonder what bullshit explanation she came up with when Liz Neuman later died?

James Arthur Ray then basically shut down shop, begin shifting all corporate funds into his own pockets and lawyered up. Theft, Fraud, Deceit and more lies.

None if this had to happen, not one single thing. Had James Arthur Ray taken precautions, NO ONE would have been injured or killed. But things happened the way they happened, people were injured and killed.

The thing is, even then, after the worst happened ... had James Arthur Ray acted like a human being, offered even a modicum of support and comfort to ANY of his victims ... things could have been so different then they now are.

Had James Arthur Ray worked with the police FROM THE BEGINNING, told the truth, acknowledged responsibility for his actions, begged forgiveness and attempted to make amends ... I doubt if he would have been charged with manslaughter.

Very few people believe James Arthur Ray actually set out to kill anyone. Then again if one to judge James Arthur Ray simply by his actions, perhaps he secretly wanted these people to die. I believe it was undiluted hubris that compelled him to bankrupt, injure, lie to and steal from thousands. The same hubris which eventually lead to the death of 4 previously healthy people.

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke

So yeah I guess I'm obsessed with James Arthur Ray. It could have been my husband, myself, a family member, or a friend.

So until James Arthur Ray accepts responsibility for ALL his actions, makes amends and begs forgiveness ... I'll continue to twitter, blog, post, comment and make as much noise as possible.

As long as James Arthur Ray continues to promote himself as a source of spiritual knowledge and a power for good ... while NOT offering solace or reparation to those he has wronged ... I'll keep on making my feelings about him very public.


I currently DO NOT believe James Arthur Ray is here to help anyone but HIMSELF!

His deeds and actions have shown James Arthur Ray is neither a noble nor caring and sincere spirit.

His so called video "gifts" offer little or no tangible "value". They are merely thinly veiled attempts to promote himself while also selling more JAR products and retreats.

There are only two REAL reasons he's unable to produce live events.

First, he shifted (STOLE) all corporate funds (FRAUD) to pay for his lawyers, then HE shut down his own business.

Second, I don't believe he really wants to produce any more live events. Because he would be forced to interact with people, not recite from a memorized script. In the past six months James has shown he doesn't have the courage to face people and speak the unscripted unrehearsed truth.

If James Arthur Ray spent half as much time taking personal responsibility, begging forgiveness, and making amends to those harmed by his hubris ~ as he has trying to impress ~ he might actually help some people heal, while saving his own soul.

The glory days are over and the universe is NOT at his command. A higher power has come into play and it's time for Mr Ray to get real and face the truth about himself and the consequences of his actions.

August 31st is just around the corner. I for one, cannot wait to see the outcome.

God Speed James, I hope you finally get your shit together and do the right thing. It's never too late to change.

Monday, April 5, 2010

How Easily we Believe Messengers of Hope ~ The day I met James Arthur Ray

My mom used all sorts of "New Age" tricks (50 years ago they called it Metaphysics) and mumbo jumbo to keep the family in line. She was also bipolar (untreated), with various other mental problems (also untreated). My childhood was your average nightmare.

My mom believed prayer, (specifically "HER" prayers) could heal. She told my doctors, her friends, and my teachers, that my celiac symptoms, allergies and autoimmune problems were "all in my head".

The fact that I came close to dying many MANY times had nothing to do with anything. It was always my fault I was sick ... she told me was doing it to myself. "If I acted well and believed I was well, I would be well!" (Fake it until you make it.) That I even survived with my brain relatively intact is amazing.

When word of "The Secret" first came out I was really put off by it. But when Oprah (I can't believe I'm admitting this) did her specials on it, I decided to look at the video. I started researching the various people who took part in the video, checking out their web pages and reading their books.

Eventually I read James Ray's "The Science of Success" and was bothered at how much of it was about material things, money, etc. But, there was some good stuff there, so I concentrated on that ... and here's the kicker, so many people ... smart people ... were talking about "The Law of Attraction", I started to second guess my whole take on it.

I suffer from autoimmune disease and severe allergies. Some days I can walk without a cane or walker, most days I can't. I was in a wheelchair for years. I've been told to get my affairs in order so many times, by so many different doctors that it's sometimes difficult thinking about living a normal life let alone planing for the future. I wanted to be healthy, have a good life, thrive. (Still do!) I thought what do I have to lose?

From then on I was a woman with a mission, making affirmations, reading everything I could get my hands on, forcing myself to walk, etc. Looking back I feel like an absolute idiot.

In 2007, I got an email from James Ray International stating that James Ray was going to be in my area for a "Free Lecture" so I went. ~ sigh ~ (stupid stupid stupid) I wanted to thank him for reminding me I'm more than my body or my illness. (even more stupid)

It was the first time I walked into a large building without my allergy mask, first time I stood in line for any length of time (we waited almost two hours ... they were very late), first time getting out in public in years. Mr Ray put on a good show, way too materialistic for me, but I wasn't there about money or getting rich. Besides which, neither my husband nor myself could afford the retreat they were selling.

So when the lecture was over I stood in line with my walker to say thank you. When Mr Ray looked at me I felt like rolling up into a ball. Oh boy ... I'm fat and I've seen that look before, from so called beautiful people who think fat people are useless pigs.

So I took a deep breath in and started to thank him. (He looked bored and uninterested) I barely got five words out, when he abruptly interrupted and asked if I'd signed up for the weekend. I told him I didn't have the money. At which point he immediately shut me up ... again.

James Ray
"I'm going to do you a favor" he said, "Don't ever say that again, [that you don't have money] the universe is listening."

"But I don't have any money right ... (I was going to say right now)"

James Ray

"But it's true."

James Ray
"Then borrow it!"

"I have no one to borrow from."

James Ray
"You mean to say you have absolutely no friends who can loan you money?"

quietly ... "No, my friends are struggling to."

James Ray
"You'll never be anything but a fat slob failure if you don't sign up for my retreat."

The brutality of his words, the sound of his voice, took my breath away. The people standing next to me were shocked by his words.

Whispers from people around me
"Did he just call that woman with the walker a fat slob?" "What did she say?" "Look at that lard assed bitch, James is right, she's a nothing."

I wanted to die. I have no idea how I made it back to my car. I can only thank God my husband was with me. I'd been feeling so good, but at that moment, all I wanted to do was run outside and jump off the parking structure. I cried for hours afterward.

All I'd wanted to do was thank him. I didn't know what I'd done to trigger such an intensely ugly response from someone I'd never before met. (Let's hear it for high pressure sales tactics ~ NOT!)

That was 2007, and I'm still here, alive and kicking. I located new doctors, new treatments, physical therapy, walking, different foods. Life is still hard, but it looks like I'm going to be around for a while now. Not because of some new age secret, or law of attraction ... but a lot of hard work.

When I heard about the people who had died at the sweat lodge, I realized that could have been me. Had Mr Ray shown a modicum of compassion, allowed me to pay James Ray International monthly payments for their weekends ... I'd have gone ... no questions asked, because he told me it was safe. He told me I could be cured, he had cured himself ... others ... anything we wanted was ours for the asking.

I'm an educated woman, I should have known better, especially after what I endured as a child. I'm stunned and amazed that I could fall for his vision of things so completely. I thank God he treated me so rudely that night, and I was able to see him for what he was ... a self absorbed bully who's all flash and no substance.

I may be fat, I may even be ugly (if fat = ugly), but I'm no longer broke and don't owe anyone any money. Oh yeah, I don't lie, I've never purposely hurt anyone, never stolen anything and I'm very much alive!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Growing up Barkemeijer

Growing up in the Barkemeijer de Wit family could be challenging.

Mom was bipolar, Dad suffered from Tourette's (the act stupid and make strange sounds kind that I also have) and seizures.

Mom claimed to be psychic, and deftly used her psychic visions to keep the family in line.

Mom to me ...
"I dreamt you were in a car accident during your trip to San Francisco." The force of my body drove you through the front window."

My thoughts at the time ...
(Yeah right Mom, like you could fit in the back seat of a Honda CVCC, let alone AGREE to sit in the back seat of ANY car.)

Mom to me ...
"So... I'M... NOT... GOING." In her most dramatic martyr's voice. (Pause for effect and inhale deeply) "So you won't die." Spoken in a soft half whisper.

Me to Mom ...
"Glad that's finally settled. Just so you know, a 12 hour drive in Michael's little Honda isn't my idea of fun. I really hadn't wanted to go, and had planned on staying home for my birthday."

Mom to Me ...
"Good good good. That's best for all."

Me to Mom...
"No Mom, now I have to go. If I don't, I'll always be a hostage to your visions and premonitions."

Mom to Me ...
"Mark my word, you'll loose your virginity and get pregnant.

Me to Mom ...
"Are you kidding! Not that it's any of your business, but I don't believe in sex before marriage. But I'm sure you could change my mind if you tried. Besides Mom, if I wanted to get laid that bad, I'd do it in the damned backyard."

For the record ...
I didn't lose my virginity during my birthday week end, and I never had sex in the backyard.

What Responsibilities do Pit Bull (or ANY dog) Owners Have?

6pm PST
March 28, 2010
Anaheim, California

It's been a week since my husband Johnnie and our two beloved Greyhounds (both rescue animals) were attacked and mauled by a neighbor's Pit Bull. In an instant our lives and the lives of our pets, were changed irrevocably.

I'd been home in bed recovering from a back strain, so I hadn't been with my husband during our regular late afternoon walk with our dogs. We walk the dogs twice daily, traversing both sides of the street we live on. Doing so as much for me (I've limited mobility and walk with a cane or walker) as for our two furry friends. Visiting with neighbors, the dogs receiving admiring looks and hugs along with the occasional treat. For which they prance and nuzzle while dispensing sloppy wet puppy kisses in return.

We live in Anaheim, less than two miles from Disneyland. Ours is a quiet street, not quite a culdesac, not quite a dead end, but isolated non the less. Our neighbors are mostly families with infants and small children and older people such as ourselves. We may not know everyone's names, but we know their faces, their children, their pets, and their homes. Their children play in our yard, and ring our door bell to look at the dogs from behind our iron gate. Harvey says "Love You" when offered a small treat, which makes the children giggle and smile. (Makes adults laugh and smile as well.)

In the 50 odd years we've lived in Orange County we've noticed a change in demographics, along with the urbanization of the areas around our home. Our lovely quiet street is now surrounded on three sides by streets full of shoddy looking homes, each of them lined with row upon row of cars.

On weekends we deal with the noise of parties, sometimes the sound of the police shutting down a party that had gone on into the wee hours of the morning. Our area even made the national news when some poor misbegotten soul shot and killed his girlfriend ... only to be shot and killed himself after threatening the police later that afternoon. We heard a quick successions of loud pops, followed by the sound of dozens of sirens.

We had a drug dealer living on our street for a while, cars driving by 24/7 ... some of them impossibly huge tricked out vehicles with strange hydraulics and jarringly loud boom boxes. We always walked past that house quickly, thinking life in this neighborhood isn't nearly as simple or pleasant as it used to be. A lot of neighbors packed up and left, even further changing things on the street.

We all breathed a collective sigh of relief when they abandoned the house. The poor owner had such a mess to clean up. Then an other family moved in, distant and uninviting, with pile of noisy dirty unkempt children and a tiny terror of a dog who kept crashing through the screen door. Uncollared, he'd roam the street, lunging at people, chasing cats, barking at other dogs, and leaving tiny warm reminders of his presence. They vanished one night as well, leaving an other gigantic mess behind them. So the house was empty for quite some time after that.

The new tenants showed up at our door last summer, asking if they could have the things we were getting rid of while remodeling our home. They told us they were sleeping on the floor and had no bedding. We put together boxes of draperies, bedding and food. Like the other children in our street, their 10 year old son came over often to play with our dogs. He spoke a lot about his dog, a Pit Bull that had been a gift from his uncle. It was living with his Aunt, he missed it.

Eventually the dog started showing up on the weekends. We saw her running around without a collar or a leash, and asked them to please collar her, and get her in the house. But she got out a lot, and I worried about the children on our street.

6pm Sunday, March 28, 2010

The phone rang, I could barely make out what my husband was saying. He was weeping, and breathing hard.

"I tried, I tried, I couldn't stop it, there's so much blood ... Harvey's Harvey's"

"What's wrong?" I asked, my heart hammering in my ears.

"I've been, we've been, attacked. A Pit Bull went after the boys and me. I need you to come and get the dogs. The paramedics are checking me out now. I called the police, they just got here. I'm across the street at the new neighbors ... the ones with the Pit. Please come."

I got up, sans cane, sans walker, forgetting my teeth, my shoes and my street clothes. I ran (sort of a quick waddle) out side in my bed clothes, wild haired, the phone's headset still attached to my head. The street was filled with people staring at the new neighbor's home. Johnnie was sort of half sitting on the ground, on some sort of a box, covered in blood. The paramedics, the fire department, the police and animal control were there as well. Flashing lights everywhere. The dogs were bloody and looked terrified. The Pit Bull was no where to be seen.

My husband looked like he was having a heart attack, his face was a frightening shade of pale blue. One of our neighbors was holding the dogs. They told me to stay with Johnnie, that they would take the dogs to our home and place them in their run.

The next 24 hours were a blur. Talking with police, Animal control, paramedics. Both dogs needed surgery, which meant going to an emergency clinic. With wounds to his face and throat, Harvey was hurt the worst.

The police and animal control had told told us to give our bills to the new neighbors, as they were legally responsible. When Johnnie handed our neighbor the receipt for surgery, he was shocked at the $2,700.00 price tag. "It costs that much to fix a DOG?" (Two dogs actually, but I guess he missed the point that his dog caused these injuries.)

He told my husband his dog was hurt as well, and described the dog's wounds in detail ... as if we were some how liable for his dogs injuries because our dogs defended themselves. He then told my husband he had no liability insurance, the dog had never been vaccinated (he told the police it had), he had no dog tag and no money. Dead tired, sore and still covered in blood my husband simply walked away. We got to bed around midnight.

At 6am (day after the attack), we got up to get the dogs from the emergency clinic. We needed to transport them to our regular vet for post operative care. We got back home a little after 1pm. My husband finally made it to a doctor at 3pm. More money spent for examination, xrays, medications.

When Johnnie spoke with the neighbor again the next day, he told my husband that "dog fights are natural. That's what dogs do." Like dog bites were an unavoidable part of life, and no big deal. Our dogs nearly died, my husband quite easily could have died ... but hey it's no big deal.

As of April 1, 2010, they still own their Pit Bull. They haven't put up the security door the police and animal control told them they needed. They have told us they're broke and can't pay us anything. Which probably means they still haven't vaccinated their dog, spayed her, signed her up for obedience training and gotten dog tags ... all recommendations by the police and animal control.

Many of neighbors have been coming over to check on Johnnie and the dogs. Everyone's scared about the Pit Bull, so are we. We worry about how we'll be able to walk the dogs once their wounds have healed. The wheels of justice turn slowly ... so for now we are hostages to our new neighbors whims.

Owning a dog ... ANY dog ... is a privilege, not a right. With ownership comes responsibility.

  1. All breeds need to be socialized, so they'll not feel the need to protect their home.
  2. All breeds need obedience training so they'll obey commands.
  3. All breeds need to be vaccinated for their own protection and the protection of others.

  • If you can not afford to care for a pet properly, you shouldn't have one.
  • If you're too scared of your pet to help stop it during attack, why in God's name would you even want it?!
  • Once your dog has attacked other dogs, and you DO NOT take responsibility for the damage it caused, you shouldn't be allowed to keep it.
Right now our local dog shelter is filled with Pit Bulls and Chihuahuas, the local dog dujour. Both dogs needing a lot of attention and care. Unsocialized Chihuahuas bite and bully, the same with Pit Bulls. While a Chihuahua that nips and bites can be a royal pain, they aren't the killing machines unsocialized and improperly trained Pit Bulls can be.

In the end, it's rarely the dog that sets these things in motion. Ignorance, self entitlement and poor training helps create an animal who is bound to cause problems. Sadly once a dog's attacked and/or killed an other dog or person, it's often too late to save that dog. So much pain and suffering ... for what? To have a cool looking Gang'sta dog who can kick any dog's butt.

My husband and I have fostered and rescued all kinds of animals for decades. Socialization and obedience training has always been on the top of our list. Our dogs see the vet frequently, have all their vaccinations, and wouldn't hurt a soul. We have double doors in front, (one's an iron gate), an iron gate in back, and a special gated run in the backyard. (So the dogs can't get out.) This is as much for their safety as well as the safety of others. Greyhounds can run up to 55mph, and have been known to run out into traffic.

PS ~ It was touch and go with Harvey. We nearly lost him the first night home. He's doing better now. Raleigh barks at the Disney fireworks now, something he never used to do, he also snaps and barks at our newest foster dog (adopted before the attack). Johnnie's back still hurts, and I jump each time the phone rings. Johnnie refuses to take the dogs for walks until he knows the Pit Bull is gone.

I'm grateful my husband and our dogs weren't killed. Hopefully in time, life will feel normal again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Notes on Loosing a brother

I grew up believing my brother was a God. Incredibly smart, multi-talented and good looking, he was everything I aspired to but knew I could never be. Concert violinist, world class photographer, brilliant student, surfer, guitarist, and general all around cool guy.

Whenever I had trouble with math, or spelling or ANY school project I'd hear how great my brother was ... and how stupid I am.

Mom to me ...
"You can't do simple arithmetic?! Your brother does advanced Algebra! Why can't you be more like Dick?"

Mom to me ...
"You can't do your multiplication tables?! God you're stupid! In Holland I had them ALL memorized by the time I was six!"

My brother AND my Mom could do EVERYTHING better than me. What kid could compete with that much talent? Looking back now, my brother's 7 year's old than I am, and my mom was 36 years older, so I was being set up for failure.

At age six I gave up and accepted the fact of my stupidity.

I adored my brother, any attention he gave me was like a gift. I loved the fact that this amazing person was "MY" brother. I always wanted to be around him. I'm sure he thought me a royal pain in the tush.

The summer I turned four, I got a hold of one of Dick's old swimming trunks. I thought if I wore them without a girl's swimming top, I could will myself into a boy. I had really short hair at the time, and a number of the neighbors thought I was a boy, which only served to fuel my fantasy.

One morning while speeding down the sidewalk in my tricycle, I landed in our neighbor's rose bushes. I ran into the house, crying my eyes out. As my Mom pulled the thorns out one by one, she told me I wouldn't have been hurt as bad if I'd been wearing a top or blouse. From that day on I always wore a top.

My brother's bedroom and mine were connected by a bathroom in the middle. I loved peering into my brother's room from our adjacent bathroom. His room was full of interesting looking books, models he'd made, neat toys and other fascinating things.

For a while he got into keeping aquariums. My Dad built a floor to ceiling wall of shelves to hold all Dick's fish tanks. I loved the sound the pumps made at night, and the pretty colors of all the fish when the lights were on.

My brother was the best part of my childhood, the person I most admired and believed in. I felt safe when he was around, and proud that we were related. I would have done anything for him and defended him with my life.

In 1969, when my brother turned 21, (back in the days when you had to be 21 to be considered an adult) he moved out of the house. He and our Mother did not get along. That's sort of an understatement actually. His life at home was a living hell. Both of ours were.

I understood why he needed to leave, and was happy for him. I hoped and prayed one day he would come back to rescue me from hell. I was 13 at the time. It never happened, and though I've tried in so many ways to have a close relationship with my brother, from that day on he's always kept me at arm's length.

From time to time, between marriages and jobs, Dick's dropped into my life for a day or a week. He took me to a Star Trek movie after he divorced his second wife Linda, which really blew my mind. In the end he's always returned to keeping me at distance.

He married two of my friends, is still married to one. Used my car for a year, took jobs I helped him get ... but was still mostly unreachable. At which point I assumed it was me.

When I recommended him to work with me at D-Link I agreed to no wage increases while he was there. Something I only told my Father. I remember when a coworker made fat jokes about me, that my brother always laughed with with him. One day my Dad had been there when they were joking about me, and found me crying at my desk.

Dad to me ...
"Do you want me to talk to your brother? You know he doesn't mean it."

Me to Dad ...
"What's the point? I am fat. And yes he does mean it. Even if he didn't start the conversation, he certainly finished it."

Dad to Me ...
"You're not that fat Shrimpy (his pet name for me) and you're not ugly." he gave me one of his patented bone crushing bear hugs. "So stop crying."

My Dad was dying at the time, and I knew it. Long story that. Yet he still took the time to see his kids at work. He died a month later, at home in his bed. The day before he died, Dad came to the office to take my brother and I to lunch. My brother begged off.

They day my Mom gave my brother the keys to my Dad's VW it felt as if Dad died again. He was so much a part of that car. I hadn't cried when Dad died, but cried while preparing the car for my brother. After Dick left with Dad's car I cried for hours on end. For years afterward, I cried every time I heard a Volkswagen drive down our street.

Within days of Dad's death, my brother moved to Colorado. That was over 21 years ago. I've seen him once since, when Mom died in 1994.

For a while I wrote letters, which he rarely answered. Eventually I wrote his wife Angie, who always answered. Mom became too sick and I had to quit my job to care for her. My health started going down hill. Mom died, and I was in and out of hospitals. Some days I had little or nothing to eat, I got food from a local non profit ... it was a bleak time.

My car broke down, and the breaks needed fixing. The owner of the gas station I'd been going to for the past 15 years said he'd repair it for free. He said your my family had been good customers and he liked my Dad. Amazing kindness and the darkest of moments.

Through all the times in my life ... good, bad, indifferent ... I'd always believed that one day my brother and I would connect again as family. He was, and still is, the person I most admire in life. There's not a day that goes by when I don't miss him.

On January 6, 2010 I found my Brother on FaceBook. I was overjoyed. I immediately sent a friend request and hoped this could be a new beginning for us. Eight hours later his FaceBook page had been taken down. A day or so later he emailed me, saying he was busy but would get back to me soon.

Good to hear from you. Sorry about Facebook, but it is just not my thing. Got talked into joining and it has been way over the top.

Who are these people! I'll send you an other email soon.


~ The promised email never arrived ~

The whole FaceBook thing really threw me for a loop, I cried constantly afterward. I hadn't expected that sort of response, and ruminated about it for days. Two sentences kept repeating over and over in my brain "Why doesn't he like me?" and "What did I do wrong?"

After a week of crying to the point of dehydration, near constant melt downs and acting like a total fool, I decided to write a letter to my brother. Fearing the worst, no response or bad response ... I had the mother of all panic attacks and ended up in E.R. with tachycardia and a blood pressure of 230/200.

I don't want anyone to think I went over the deep end because of what my brother did or didn't say. As that's not the case. Last year I watched my father-in-law (and dearest friend) die ... followed six months later by my brother-in-law Tom's death to stage IV melanoma in our home. (He did hospice)

Not that we were close, but Tom's death affected me deeply. It forced me to look at the distance between my own brother and myself. Facing so many losses in such a short period of time, really messed with my mind.

So armed with a soul shattering need for answers ... and bolstered by a healthy dose of Lorazepam (supplied by an understanding Kaiser Permanente E.R. doctor) I finished my letter and sent it out.

Trying to Reconnect for the Last Time

Sun, Jan24, 2010 at 5:40PM,
Jeanne Barkemeijer de Wit wrote:

Dearest Dick:
It's been way too many years since either one of us have spoken, let alone kept in touch in anything other than a cursory manor. So much time has passed, I wonder if either one of us would recognize the other if we happened to pass on the street.

I don't understand why there's no real connection between the two of us. I don't understand why you disconnected the phone number you gave me years ago, and never gave me a new one, let alone call. While it may be coincidental, it felt really weird to have you shut down your FaceBook page immediately after receiving my friend request. I don't understand why you never acknowledge gifts, respond to letters or answer my emails ... other than to say you're busy and you'll get back to me ... which of course you never do.

If you no longer desire further contact, I can obviously live with that, as that's more or less the way things have felt like to me for a very long time. But could you please get that message across honestly and directly. Simply tell me to stop trying to contact you and I promise you'll never hear from me again. If you you still want to know your sister, that's great."

I remember you as the best part of a phenomenally screwed up and painful childhood. You were the person I always looked up to, admired, and wished I could be like. Whenever I felt life was hopeless, I took solace in the knowledge that everything I believed good in our family, resided in you. I'd love the opportunity to get to know that person again. Because I've really missed having him in my life.

If you and Ang need a rest, and if the idea of reconnecting with the weird side of your family intrigues you ... we own a really large house with extra rooms and all the amenities, all geared to tall people. (Including three state of the art Sony Bravia digital HD televisions, extra large sofas, chairs, and beds, ultra high speed Internet, wireless WAN/LAN, multiple computers, enclosed 10 person jacuzzi, tricked out patio, tons of software, musical instruments, cameras etc., and more) If you're interested in a reunion and/or you'd also like to see Dirk ... I'll gladly send tickets for the both of you to fly over to OC. You can stay as little or as long as you wish.

Regardless of your decision, please don't blow me off or tell me you're too busy to respond. That excuse was old 10 years ago. So please let me know, one way or an other, where the two of us stand, and if I need to stop contacting you.

Love Always,

On Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 8:30 AM, Dick Barkemeijer de Wit wrote:

Just a quick note. My pc crashed. Have gone over to a friends house to use their computer. Just wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about you. Not putting you off. No outside computer access at work and I'll be in training for the next three days and working on Sat. Hope to have a working pc late Sun. Get back to you as soon as I can. Hope you understand. Have to go, long drive to the training center."

~ the promised email never arrived ~

Thu, Mar 11, 2010 4:22PM,
Jeanne Barkemeijer de Wit wrote:

I hope you're OK.

While I may just be restating the obvious, I've finally gotten it through my head that you don't want a relationship or contact with me. I wish I knew why in the hell that is, but it's kind'a clear you're never going to share that info with me.

Truth be told I'm tired of waiting for a response from you (good bad or indifferent). Life's too damned short to be spent waiting for something that never comes.

That said, I won't be bothering you with emails or letters any more. My love and good wishes go to you and Angie both. I hope life grants you only good things.

Love and Care,

Thus ended decades of trying to get close to the person I loved most in my immediate family.

~ To date I haven't receive any type of response from my brother ~
~ I no longer expect one ~

For decades I've always thought there was something wrong with me, that my brother was ashamed of me, how I looked, or that something I'd said, not said, done, or didn't do properly, caused the distance to widen between us.

The way things now stand, I have no relationship with my brother. In reality, I haven't had one in decades. I've been living in a dream for more years than I care to say. A dream where I had a brother who cared about me as much as I cared about him.

Now that I'm forced to accept that no relationship exists between my brother and myself, it feels as if he died. I feel homeless and adrift. I still love my brother, and I miss him more than I have words to express. I always will.

I remember my brother as tall, good looking, wildly talented, funny, witty and impossibly smart. I'll always think of him as the coolest person I ever knew, and the best part of my childhood. I'm grateful for having had him in my life, if even for a brief time.

God willing, one day, my brother (or someone he knows) will take the time to tell me why he chose to exile me from his life.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Gratitude Project 2010

Life hasn't always been easy for me. I was born with severe allergies and food intolerances, that went undiagnosed and untreated until I was well into my 40s.

Rather than get treatment, my Mom labeled me a "hysteric and a hypochondriac". (There's nothing like a Mother's unconditional love.) Mom was bipolar. Her disease went undiagnosed and untreated until she was in her 70s. By then then she was too old and too sick (congestive heart failure, recovering from stroke) to generate the kind of chaos and terror she was capable of when she was in younger and in better shape.

For decades I've been trying to finish my memoirs. Yet each time I get close to the end, I destroy the manuscript. A lifetime of painful memories burned and dumped into the trash or deleted into some distant and unreachable cyber hole. Which, when you think about it, is pretty stupid. Months of crying myself raccoon eyed while typing (no easy task) for what? To create an incredibly bleak and depressing book outlining the horrors of my childhood. Even more stupid. There's enough pain in this world without rehashing all of mine.

Through it all, even during my worst times, I've also been incredibly blessed. During the times I needed it most there was always something there to feed my soul and keep me sane (no small task).

So from today on ... I'm going to start writing about the things I love and am grateful for. Hopefully in the process I can heal myself and grow beyond the pain.