The Pearly Art of Communication
In the journey of the Pearl of Purity, we started by getting a more balanced view on responsibilities and learned to see how some often touted memes in our present day society – such as the laws of attraction – are only age old scapegoating tactics used to distort our perception of how much control and responsibility we had over the malice done to us in our lives, in a pseudoscientific new (age) packaging.
Now that we are better equipped to see through the lies of the slime, we can start working on our communication. We normally attempt to inform others in some way how we want to be treated. But what do we do when someone ignores our requests or complaints? How do we communicate effectively in a manner that furthers our healing and, in its highest application, preserves our purity as we maintain our boundaries?
THE PERFECT COMMUNICATION FORMULA?
Anyone who ever sat through a communication course will have been taught a certain communication recipe, generally referred to as the I-message, and went home believing it was an all-purposeful trick to easily maintain boundaries. The construction of the I-message generally follows these guidelines:
You start your sentence with ‘I’, followed by a description of observable behaviour. Next, you inform the offender how this makes you feel. And finally you tell them what future behaviour you expect instead. The I-message appeals irresistibly to the other person’s empathy and feelings of responsibility, while avoiding personally attacking them. Your message might sting for a moment, but ultimately people cannot resent you for unfair treatment. Meanwhile, as you empathize with your own feelings, you connect to yourself (instead of dissociating). It also empowers you, because it takes immense courage to express how someone’s behaviour makes you feel. After a decade of practice and experience of this I-message, as a tourleader and teacher, I can confirm the I-message works perfectly… on normal, empathic, responsible adults (and the majority of teens).
Unfortunately, sometimes the I-message fails. Since the I-message appeals to the other person’s empathy and feelings of responsibility, it can only work on people who are empathic and responsible. It does not work on people who lack empathy, are too self-absorbed, or irresponsible. It certainly does not work with a psychopath. But unless you have been deeply involved with a psychopath and learned about personality disorders, most people, including communication coaches, assume that everybody can ultimately feel empathy.
The idea that the I-message will work on everyone, including psychopaths, as long as you stick to the formula is a delusion. The next example illustrates how delusional. How successful do you think I was in having the ex-psychopath respect my wishes when I texted him the following I-message? “I discovered you took my credit card from my wallet while I was sleeping. I am upset and worried, because we barely have enough to make it to next week for food. I want you to come home right now and return me the card and any money you took out with it. If you ignore this, I will block my cards and report them as stolen to the police.”
Can there be anything more surreal than attempting to appeal to the empathy from a grown man who emptied my wallet while I was asleep? It seems bizarre to me now that, at the time, I expected it to actually work. Of course, my I-message went without result. I only got result (and temporarily at that), because I did as I threatened to do. I blocked all my cards. He found out as he tried to take money out of the ATM with the VISA, again, and the ATM swallowed it. That is when he called me to assure me he was on his way home, and arrived within 5 minutes.
But who did I blame for the fact that I had to block the bank cards? I blamed myself; I blamed my ‘failing’ communication – I was too demanding, or did not communicate compassionate enough, or messed up the formula. I blamed myself each time the psychopath ignored my I-message. I felt I failed my responsibilities when teens ignored my I-messages in class. At the heart of the communication issue stands the false belief that we alone are responsible for making others stop disrespecting, disturbing, hurting or harming us. When people completely ignored my request and crossed them over and over, my sole mistake was how I neglected to consider how much they had failed to comply to my request. It is not our responsibility to make someone else stop behaving badly. We cannot be held responsible for the simple reason that we have no control over other people. It is their duty to correct their behaviour themselves.
As for the I-message, the disappointing truth is that normal, empathic people are compelled to comply with a reasonable request, regardless of it being an I-message or not. Even if you completely mess the formula up, or shout, or bang your fist on the table in anger, a normal, empathic and responsible adult will comply to your wishes. In contrast, you may compose a perfect I-message for people lacking empathy and your effort will be for naught. The psychopath comprehended the message perfectly and was even versatile in using his own I-messages, on others, on me. But he could completely ignore my I-messages in a way I could never ignore his – he simply did not care for my boundaries, feelings, wishes and expectations. Worse, he loved to walk all over them. And he used my I-messages as a user guide on how to hurt, anger, annoy, disappoint, or freak me out. Psychopaths and narcissists are the few people you better not use an I-message with at all. You do not wish to hand them a road map on how they impact your feelings either negatively or positively.
The I-message remains one of the best ways to communicate with our fellow empathic man. It preserves and harmonizes relationships. But when you use an I-message and notice how it is ignored, then that is a red flag that the other either has low, diminished or absent empathy, or is irresponsible. This may be a temporarily phase as with teens, or more permanent. But when we make a reasonable request of someone, it is their responsibility to abide by it. If they ignore it, they are being irresponsible. And when you observe how a person consistently uses your I-messages to annoy, hurt or upset you even more, then you should refrain from using them at all to them.
SPEAK NO EVIL
We may have no control over another person’s actions or words, but we do have control over our own. When we act and speak with integrity, the more pure we become, and the less affected we are by slime. Communication is not just a technical issue on how to express yourself. Timing and content of our speech also has its influence. What we say, how we speak, and when we communicate has a direct impact on another human being. We experienced this with the psychopath who could make us believe on their word alone that there was world peace while we stood in the middle of a war zone. Our own words are no less influential. Ultimately, our speech has the most impact upon ourselves. We can empower, heal and even liberate ourselves through the way we communicate. But it can also backfire, harm, taint and weaken us, when we utter words that disagree with our own values.
In the past we may have tried to use speech to defend or stand up for ourselves and to try and make others see what they were doing was wrong, but either we ended up fouling ourselves or heaped too much responsibility upon ourselves as well as a false belief of ability to control those around us. Instead we can learn to use speech to heal ourselves, to purify ourselves and to grow our Pearl. And to explain this I will have to borrow from Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path.
|Ethical Conduct|| |
Conduct or behaviour consists of two elements – speech and action. Or more specific, speaking is a particular type of action, since it requires energy to speak as well as to listen. So what does ‘Right Speech’ mean? The Buddha says it is “abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter”. How does that differ, for example, from the Bible’s command not to “bear false witness against your neighbor”? Because it goes further than just advising you not to lie.
A person is not to utter disagreeable and divisive lies. Pleasing white lies or flattery are out, even truthful flattery. A truth that benefits no one should not be said. And it is best to wait for the proper time to tell a truth that is disagreeable but beneficial. Even if what you have to say is factual, beneficial, endearing and agreeable, you can sense and wait for the proper time to say them. In short, it means that the wise (wo)man only speaks truth and fact when it is beneficial and the appropriate time for it, preferably in an agreeable manner. Even if your words are true, but not beneficial or timely, it is most wise to remain mum. Because we are empathic human beings.
The above paragraph is comprehensive and may need rereading again and again, but I found it incredibly wise and recognizable the first time I stumbled on it as I was already on my path of Purity. And I would ask you to reflect on it, before continuing to explore the forms of speech relating to this Buddhist advice.
Initially, you will feel pressure to blurt out whatever you think and feel or to explain yourself and make another understand. And yet, it gets easier with practice, as you discover how empowering it can feel when you choose to walk away from a situation that would otherwise have gone ugly and probably would have left you feeling ravaged by your own impulsiveness. I became acutely aware how feeling the need to defend myself actually belies powerlessness. We all learn the powerful lesson that silence can teach us, the moment we commit ourselves to having “No Contact “ with the psychopath in our life. The realization dawned that I do not owe toxic people an explanation, and how silence is the most effective way to show this. Silence says and explains it all on its own and yet does no harm, neither to myself nor another. When I am silent, I free my mind from the obsessive task of having to find the right words and arguments. Not having to speak liberates my mind from the fog, from chasing MacGuffins. Shrouded in my own silence, it becomes far more easier to recognize who makes a lot of dramatic hullabaloo over nothing and how unworthy they are of my attention and energy. If we are not even spending energy by speaking to a toxic person, we are even less likely to spend energy in other ways on that person. In a more hidden sense – complete silence, the lack of talking, has its own impact. Sometimes, it even has a bigger impact. It is hard to be silent when we feel we must explain ourselves for having boundaries at all. We fear that silence might be seen as letting someone walk all over us. In our culture we associate empowerment with speaking up and victimization with silencing. So we are under the illusion that we must speak and react to prove we have the power to defend ourselves. But when we are in the company of people who contemplate our demise, we then freely hand them a manual on how to hurt us. So, all we end up doing by reacting is hurting ourselves far more than we can ever hurt them. Speaking up only feeds their needy attention monster. But they abhor silence! They are frustrated when they do not know whether they hurt, upset or angered you. They despise being ignored. So, bite your tongue. Put your hand before your mouth and prevent yourself from saying anything to toxic people.
Refraining from explaining or defending ourselves to toxic people is not the only way many of us need to practice silence about. Silence is even a more difficult thing to accomplish when we are in an anger phase of our recovery. Certain profanities or graphic descriptions seem very factual then. It can feel good to curse, to swear, to name-call, and use the most vulgar and graphic language. It may even have a therapeutic effect. At the very least we may want to refer to him or her with profane names to those who sympathize with us.
I once had a difficult toxic situation in a classroom with a triad of toxic girls who loved nothing better than drag the blood from under my nails. One time I found a writing on a desk in that class referring to me as a ‘bitch’. I wanted to take the wind out of the sails by referring to it as ‘I know some people here think of me as a bitch, an opinion I have no control over whatsoever, but I still expect respectful behaviour from you all.’ Of course the triad did the opposite and eventually I got so upset that I blurted out, “Stop behaving like a bitch.” I do not have to explain how horrible I felt the moment that word had escaped my lips. In fact, I am quite sure it hurt me more to have said it than it hurt their feelings. On the contrary, I had given them ammunition. Now, I did request all three to remain at the end of the class and I apologized to them, and the horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach spurred me on to solve the dynamic issues once and for all. Next class they supposed they could pull all the strings. They were quite stunned when I proved them wrong as I set up the lesson in a way that they could be as noisy as they wanted and I could ignore them completely, while giving all my attention to the majority of the pupils who wanted to learn something. I practiced silence and patience without any difficulties.
There is a neurological reason to avoid profanity though. Neuron paths are like furrows in a field. The more we use a certain neuron path the deeper the furrow becomes. If we then want to plow a new furrow the plough tends to slip back in the old one. Making a new neuron path is possible, but it takes energy and mindfulness, and depending on where you are in your healing stage you may not yet have plenty of those. The mind is lazy too when it comes to using vocabulary. The vocabulary we use the most and the most recent will pop out of our mouths the easiest at moments when we are stressed or emotional. It needs no reminding who is most able to make us feel stressed or emotional, and who would wring their hands in ecstasy for making us behave badly over them.
Profanity is hardly harmless in a public setting, even with an internet support group. It crosses the readers’ boundaries and it pleases toxic people to no end. The latter love nothing better than turn a recovery forum, blog or website into a vulgarity fest. It may be too much at times to completely avoid profanities, and it can indeed work therapeutic during an anger release session. But there is no audience needed for a swearing session to have a therapeutic effect. By all means, if you have to indulge in every name-calling and malediction you want, but do it when you are alone. Be like the silent tree in the forest who made no sound when falling, because there was no one to hear it fall. In time you will get to a point of anger where you can formulate coherent accusations, instead of helpless profanities.
TIMELINESS AND BENEFICIAL
When we first learn about psychopaths in the wild we want to expose them, especially to people who need to be warned, like the new victim. But it may not be the good time for some of them to hear the truth at all – someone who is being lovebombed by a psychopath for example will not believe you. I made the mistake of trying to warn the woman he traded me for. But, by telling her at the wrong time, my speech most likely had the opposite effect. The psychopath used it to manipulate her in doing all that I supposedly did not do enough for him: trust him more (than I ever did already), forgive him more (than the many times I forgave him), finance him more, be with him more, sacrifice more. We and our warnings become an example in the mind of the pity-played victim on why they will succeed in what we failed – fix the psychopath. Remember what picture he or she painted about their latest ex, and how this seed manipulated you into proving him or her you certainly were nothing like his ex. So, alas, we help a psychopath when we oppose them at the wrong moment as much as when we enable them.Most of us, have no problems to speak agreeable and truthful. We want to, and do so most of the time. But we have a hard time recognizing the timeliness of it or even the benefit of our speech, especially when we hope to protect or save other people from harm or when we hope to achieve some form of justice. Again we can turn the whole ordeal with the psychopath into a lesson on timeliness and benefice, or rather how most moments are untimely and unbeneficial.
Meanwhile, the attempt of exposing a psychopath publically can be physically dangerous or you might be sued for liable. And if you do it anonymously, who will care? You will appear only as petty and vengeful. And lastly, it will be you who keeps a virtual mental contact line open to the psychopath. There will come a time that the psychopath will contact you about this, and when that moment comes you do not want that. They will manipulate others into talking to you about it, to emotionally blackmail you to remove it or they threaten you personally. And before long, the peace you strove for has suddenly turned into a dramatic soap opera again. You want peace, instead of drama.
Contacting relations of the psychopath in order to feel vindicated or have some justice is not advisable either. It is very likely, that if they are not disordered, you simply passed the psychopath’s slime onto them, while they are as innocent and helpless as you were. There is one big difference: they cannot escape the lifetime blood tie they have with the psychopath. At the very least, each time whenever the psychopath does severe wrong, someone, including the police, will tell and confront them about it. And every time they latch on to a new person who hopes to be the psychopath’s savior, his or her family more than likely fervently hopes the same. They probably are slimed enough directly by the psychopath. While they may empathize with you, they do not need an extra slime reminder of the psychopath’s shamelessness.
So when can you warn someone about the psychopath? When is it timely and beneficial? Of course with a heavy crime such as murder attempt or child and sexual abuse, any time is timely and beneficial. Only make sure not to compromise your own physical safety. Aside from those emergencies, the only appropriate time to expose a psychopath is when a victim contacts you. They only tend do so when there have been enough incidents to make them consider the notion that there is something wrong with the psychopath. They independently started to investigate who the psychopath is, and thus are more open to the truth of your story. By then you have probably or hopefully healed enough to give a disinterested, factual report. The right time occurs when people ask for your advice about the psychopath. Then you can pass on info like the telephone game where you hold hands and pass the unseen signal with a slight squeeze to the next person.
And of course speak facts in therapy, to your support network, to those who are healing. It is timely and very beneficial to you and others in order to heal.
Ultimately ‘right speech’ eases the path to ‘right action’. Eventually by consistently behaving as if you believe your emotions, your energy, your time, your money, your body, and your attention are too precious to spend on people who disrespect you, you will start to believe you are as valuable as you portray to be. As you wisely speak no evil, your Pearl of Purity grows. And sometimes the only way to speak no evil is to be silent. Sometimes, the most right and most effective action requires little activity or energy from you, little or no explanation. You just cease to have contact with these people. You do not spend time with or waste words on someone who is irresponsible with your feelings, your time, your energy, your finances. Avoid the use of profanities, even in thought, because in stressful times our tongues are more apt to speak what we use regularly. And it will only result in you feeling worse than the person you cursed at. Once you behave by your own moral standards and see responsibilities in a correct way you neither soil yourself nor accept someone’s slime either. You grow to be a very wise (wo)man.
Lastly, the wisest of us remember their humanity. Sometimes you will make a mistake when you communicate. Surely, you’ve made plenty in the past. Recognize that those mistakes were never grave enough to deserve evil behaviour from others. Each person, including children, are responsible for their own ill and disrespecting behaviour — not you. Empathic people respect even the most garbled or angrily voiced request. As long as you have the capacity to learn, forgive yourself your communication mistakes and take them with you as a lesson. I only learned to see the benefit in the above communication advice through my own mistakes and the accompanying bruises and bumps. I too had to forgive myself for making them.
Further related reading:
1. Skylar’s article on how to communicate with a psychopath when it is not possible to go ‘no contact’: http://180rule.com/the-gray-rock-method-of-dealing-with-psychopaths/
2. The first article of the Pearl series: http://180rule.com/precious-pearl-of-purity/
3. The second article of the Pearl series: http://180rule.com/attraction-by-the-pearl-of-purity/
4. I-message: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-message
5. Compassionate communication: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonviolent_Communication (important note: this is a form of communication using the I-message formula combined with the disastrous and faulty assumptions that everyone has the ability to feel compassion, enjoys giving and that everyone can change. A minority of people do not fit those assumptions at all or only marginally)
Slim, it’s good to “see” you! 🙂
MsLily, I completely understand and empathize with the need to “feel” validated and this is rather what I was getting at when I made my comment about researching and memorizing statutes, etc. My reference wasn’t meant to harm or diminish, at all, but to indicate that we (WE = survivors of sick-azzed people) are compelled to defend ourselves, at every turn, and that defense-mode can develop into something way beyond our ability to manage.
“Too old” to be doing this? You bet…….I get that, too. Last year, I felt too old to scavenge firewood from the forest to heat the structure that I live in. I felt too old to cook on top of that wood stove because I didn’t have a viable cook-stove, nor could I afford the fuel for one. I also felt too old to heat water on that same wood stove to take sink-baths and wash dishes with. I learned that it took exactly 20 quarts of water to wash and rinse a load of dishes, and about the same to wash my body and hair in the sink. But, guess what? I did that, and more, to survive. We’ve ALL gone through the motions of survival, whether we’re on auto-pilot, or making deliberate decisions. Each one of us has gone through our own survival experiences, and each one of us felt “too old” to get through it.
So……..this is how attorneys cause their clients to feel helpless: demanding a retainer before they even do anything, then making those clients FEEL that they have no other options, which simply is not true. I’m SO glad that you contacted the women’s center – that’s a STEP, MsLily!!!! And, it’s a POSITIVE step!
I would also strongly and lovingly urge you to contact your local domestic violence hotline so that they can put you in touch with resources that will help you. Counseling. Legal representation (or, suggestions). Etc. MsLily, we’re simply not prepared to deal with the aftermath of a sociopath, and learning to let go and get the help that we need without “feeling” that we need to defend or explain ourselves takes time – a LOT of time.
You’re going to be okay, MsLily. You ARE okay. Right now, you may not “feel” that things are going to be okay, or that you’ll survive this mess, but you will. “Feelings” are not facts, as one of my counselors explained to me. ((((((((((((((HUGS))))))))))))))
I have recieved honest, sound advise and support from all of you and I am grateful.
I learned more last night in the Divorce/Mediation Seminar about where I stand, my rights and what are already standing court orders than I have heard or felt secure about from my attorney. The one thought all night was “disengage”, which held me mentally stronger. He is trying to intimidate me because of his financial secrets. That’s why he got so nice, his fear of what I know. Because “we” were court ordered to go last night, after he left I asked questions about what I requested a year ago to my atty, (mediation and violating court orders) what was done and ignored by my atty and now it’s crunch time and my case is pushing me into a corner with a scheduled court ordered mediation in two weeks and 5 weeks after that the trial. (Non-prepared trial) I can say they looked very uncomfortable knowing I had an atty and was not being represented with my best interest in mind. I am filing a Motion for Disclosure tomorrow morning for my H/spath. Requesting all his financials. The mediators will let me show exactly how he has been manipulating both financially and with intimidation and they have to present my case to the Judge. H/spath cannot change any existing Agreements or orders already signed by both of us and a Judge. He has been threatening my survival with insinuating he can “NOW” fight the permanent alimony, it’s already wage garnished 4 years, nor has he ever Motioned to change it, “he can’t”, and I am disabled. I know I would not have been reacting to his threats if I had been more informed. Therefor the “obsession”. Makes sense to me now!
The Woman’s Center/domestic violence center now takes insurance for their counseling, and they cover a wide range of therapy. I have been advised to look for a different PTSD therapist. That is a main issue, 8 months and I am still losing weeks of time going in and out of a fog is not working. They have a D/V group for free one day a week. They have been a good recourse for the help I need.
I have to find another attorney for a short free consultation, even if I have to hire one for 3 hours to help me in mediation. Spath is ordered to pay all attorney fees already.
To say I have been frustrated is short of what I have been going through with this legal system. I did pro se for 6 months before I got him to sign the Marital Agreement in 2/2010. Six months without funds other than selling my jewelry, collectables, and personal items. A Violated injunction with police reports that were filed and ignored, (Stalked by a neighbor and he paid them to do it, on report) his atty then purposely countered every Motion I had to get emergency funds. Two real estate atty’s who basically lied, and now my own divorce atty. And the foreclosure atty’s who have threatened me verbally, and are now asking for new motions every two months, the newest court date is a few days before the divorce trial. How convenient!
So I am a bit overwhelmed, and this area is a buddy system, good old boy county.
My saving grace is this mediation. I was informed they can separate the bull from the facts. They can advise the Judge with their findings, I can go and not mediate and have the time to get another attorney, I do not know how soon the trial needs to be cancelled if it can.
Deep breath… I am doing the best I can with high boots on. It is hard not to feel angry, but who didn’t know his recent niceness was self motivated. I did not expect to be betrayed by my atty. I expected to be in a better place mentally by now with my therapist. I am alone, and this stuff is too much to share, nor has my family been supportive or active in understanding the PTSD. Now I have to make more phone calls, find out some options, write everything down because I forget everything when I am highly stressed.
I was pulled in, grabbed by the shoulders and shook by honest caring people. Decision to get a new atty, legally postpone for that reason, get a better therapist who is more pro-active in my recovery, do everything to have “no contact”, and I know I am safe and secure in terms of his misinformed ideas of what he can and can’t change.
I slept 9 hours last night.
Today I feel grateful, blessings to all
MsLily, TOWANDA for you! Your last paragraph read as an acceptance of certain facts, and that you’re intent upon recovering and disallowing the spath to drag you through the ringers, again.
Yes, yes, and YES, he was “playing nice” for every nefarious motivation, and then some. When they are backed into a corner and facing FACTS and not “feelings” or emotional/financial manipulations, they suddenly change their tactics to keep us off-balance.
No Contact is the only way that I personally know of that ends the madness. Absolutely, it’s going to be painful, etc., by going No Contact, but this passes in due time and far quicker than you would imagine. The further away from their games that we take ourselves, the clearer we’re able to see. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!
I’m grateful that you’re feeling grateful, today. And, remember: it’s OKAY to feel angry. It’s a normal response, and getting it out in a healthy manner is proactive and positive in our recovery and healing. So, you’re doing just fine, and this is going to be over and done with, in due time.
I remember preparing for trial in my divorce and it was a 6-month ordeal that was exacerbated by my personal issues and fear-based thinking. Less than 10% of all “No Fault” divorce actions end up in actual trials, and I was terrified. So, I completely understand your level of fear and anxiety, and I will tell you that approaching all of it as a business matter and saving the emotional expressions and reactions in a “safe” and healthy environment will help you keep your focus on business-at-hand.
Big hugs for you, MsLily – you’re not alone, and we really understand what you’re experiencing.
Sending you giant cyber ((((((hugs)))))). I can hear your deeper voice speaking now. It is good to hear.
Ms Lily, good for you, I second Truthy’s TOWANDA!!! It is our unofficial battle cry!!! They keep us in the spin cycle, twirling around, like someone being pecked to death by a flock of geese….and it is difficult to think when you are spinning around like a fish on a hook. Psychopaths are excellent in getting us into those spin cycles, so try very hard to keep CALM. One of the best ways I have found is MEDITATION…which has been proven by honest medical studies (not fake gurus LOL) to lower stress hormones and to calm our brains and bodies. So hang on. A therapist who understands PTSD is a MUST and having been theremyself (I was formerly a therapist myself but even I needed professional help) It is important that we put our health and well being FIRST… Sounds like you are doing that now and taking control of your own life. That is very empowering and we must take back our power. God bless.
they know that keeping us engaged is the key. I’m glad you are blocking that avenue in every way that is possible right now. DRAMA is their weapon. Drama addicts are everywhere and it seems like you’ve met another one in your lawyer, so I’m glad you are dumping her.
I think, that in order to avoid a repeat of that lawyer, you need to keep yourself as calm and collected as possible when getting a new lawyer. Try to keep all emotions to yourself. Of course that isn’t easy, especially after a lifetime of bleeding emotions for the spath to drink, it becomes part of our personalities to emote. Just try to be aware.
The things that Slim said about her tendency to compliment instead of staying silent, are especially appropriate to your situation right now. Her observation of herself was very astute considering the subtly of that behavior. Your own behavior will be subtle too and you will have to be astute in observing it.
Furthermore, from my own experience, I can sometimes observe these subtle dysfunctional behaviors in myself and feel helpless to stop myself anyway. If that happens, just forgive yourself immediately, don’t let the feeling spiral. Relax and try again. That’s the best advice I can offer.
Ms Lily, I would also recommend that you get a REFERRAL to a lawyer from someone who knows about them and their WORK, maybe someone at the DV group or a therapy group can mention a lawyer who is HONEST. Believe me there are too many of them who are just into it for a buck and a hundred bucks. I was very FORTUNATE to stumble up on a lawyer to represent me in my sons parole hearings of protest who IS HONEST, who does care and he does not charge me an arm and a leg. So referrals are a good way to find a good one who really cares about his/her clients, not just the money. They ARE out there but there are also lazy and psychopathic uncaring ones as well. Good luck and God bless.
MsLily, OxD is 100% spot-on. Getting a referral for an attorney will likely have far better results than any other approach to choosing an attorney. Particularly via DV&A groups and agencies, you’ll get a list of attorneys that ADVOCATE for their clients, rather than rack up billable hours by discussing their personal issues with their clients – which, oh-by-the-way, is extraordinarily UNprofessional for an attorney.
Strong and positive prayers are with you.
Truthy, here’s a short story about one attorney I hired to represent me against the oil/gas drilling companies who ruined my water well…I gave him a retainer of $500 and then NOTHING….finally I got him on the phone and weeks after I had given him my money I asked him “What have you done for me besides CASH MY CHECK?” He actually admitted NOTHING and then began to give me a list of EXCUSES of his personal life getting in the way of him working…so I suggested that he send me my retainer back or I would go to the Legal Board.
Too many people in the law profession, just like in ANY OTHER profession are INCOMPETENT. In medicine we have a joke about “what do you call the physician who finished LAST IN HIS CLASS?” Well, it is DOCTOR of course! Same with lawyers and every other profession out there. It seems to me to be though that there is a higher rate of incompetent or personality disordered attorneys than in the general professional communities. Of course that just may be my prejudices but i t is a profession that under certain circumstances allows those in it to become extremely wealthy by “chasing” business.
I was just insulted by that attorney and she withdrew. I sent an email on Fri being assertive in my case. I had found the contract I had signed with her a year ago. It held me financially bound to her with my alimony for payment. It was twice more than what she “told” me she would charge until the court order for payment of legal fees by ex.
I requested she cancel the trial date and get a different Judge. I said that she was hired to do a job that had not been done, also that her marital problems were her business and not my concern. I asked what were the plans with my case Now, and I wanted a response by Mon.
When she called she told me she felt ” attacked” by my statement about her personal problems. Then she asked what the issues were that she had not done. I went on to say I had emails dating a year ago about mediation, etc, she ignored. This Feb she said “we are not going to trial on this” and told me what I was going to get. She did nothing but crunch me into a corner and try to force feed me a settlement?
Her last statement to me: “I thought I felt comfortable with sharing my personal issues with you, I should have known better with your mental issues”, I said “Excuse me, I am not mentally ill, I have PTSD which you knew when you took the case”.
I absolutely expected her to try to manipulate the whole conversation so I listened, made a statement and listened again without any fast defensive comments. She crossed a very big line here and it was insultive and discriminatory.
I sent the email on advise from a legal source. Since I am not an attorney it isn’t reasonable to expect me to be verbally specific, but I had a right to state my requests in an assertive manor. Her behavior was expected, and I expect some of you knew that too.
Now I have to ask for pro se help at the courthouse. They make it as easy as they can for people.
I will do my best to handle this whole situation. I know I will be fine, I have a small support group of friends that I care about. It can only get better, and we have to learn to have a better sense of humor.
I am grateful for this. Very good advise.
Dear Ms Lily,
Se4nd a complaint to the legal board, enclose her e mail about her “sharing her personal troubles” with you, that is TOTALLY UNPROFESSIONAL ON HER PART….and you may not have to pay any “outstanding” fees and she may even have to REFUND some of what she has already gotten.
That attorney that took my retainder and then didn’t DO anything and blamed it on his personal problems, I asked him “did you DO anything for me besides cash my check?” Well, no he hadn’t and if the refund had not come INSTANTLY I would have reported him…I communicated with him by e mail so I had written proof of what he said/I said.
I suggest that you TAPE any and ALL meetings with your attorney and do as much as you can yourself in the future, like running down copies of various records, making copies etc. so that they can’t bill you for that time for things you can do yourself.
The legal system in this country is farked up…and unfortunately too many people who handle their own legal problems except in small claims court LOSE because they don’t know all the legal ins and outs, the common person no longer has REAL access to the courts. That’s a shame but it is pretty much true.
I had some “business law” classes in school and so know a BIT more about the law than the “average Joe” but in anything except a small claims court, I would do my best to get an attorney. Sometimes even with a GOOD attorney working hard for you you still lose because of some legal loop hole.
Hang in there though, and good luck…just keep your head out of the spin cycle over small things, don’t argue over SMALL things with his attorney, save your strength and mind for the BIG things that REALLY matter. He and his attorney will try to smother you with nit-picky shiat, don’t let that get to you, during the time I was in the MEGA SPIN CYCLE I let a lot of money shift through my hands because I was literally out of my mind with anxiety, fear, worry, stress. They kept me spinning to the point I didn’t know up from down. I hate like heck I lost tens of thousands of dollars because I couldn’t make good decisions on what was worth worrying about and what wasn’t. But that was the “tuition” I paid to the SCHOOL OF HARD KNOCKS.
MsLily, I am SO sorry to read of this recent development. The attorney’s actions came as no surprise, but I’m very sorry that you’re experiencing this.
OxD has offered some SUPERB suggestions, starting with the one of reporting her actions to the local Bar Association.
YES…………recording all interactions would be prudent, at this point.
You’re okay, MsLily – your concerns about this attorney have been validated. You can trust your gut instinct and yourself to call a spade what it is. The lessons that we learn from Hard Knocks University stink in the worst way, absolutely! Dammit, but life should be so full of these very painful lessons………but, they are. And, you’re okay and you’re going to BE okay when this is all said and done.
I wanted to go back to the core of this article, for my own benefit, today.
I have mentioned a friend with multiple issues and having “helped” her out for the past couple of years, and I’m going to call this person, “Jenn.” Jenn was raised in a very abusive environment, and she made a number of choices based upon those dynamics. I’ve been talking with her for the past 2 years in an effort to support and encourage her in her recovery and healing processes. Well, that went out the window, recently, and it is strictly due to the “Pearly Art Of Communication.”
This person would call me in tears and obvious personal pain, and talk for hours (literally) about their problems, and they did nothing to help themselves. They relied strictly upon someone else to solve their problems FOR them, and I could clearly see this, and then I began to back away. This person needed intensive counseling, and didn’t do anything to facilitate it other than to talk to lay-people and then question the wisdom of the lay-people (me, coworkers, etc.) because they weren’t trained, paid, professional therapists.
So……….when we are involved with someone who is that needy, we have to speak the truth and say, “I am not an educated professional.” For the past 3 months, I have said this verbatim to Jenn – “I’m not a counselor. You need a counselor.” Each time she “tried” to get involved, there was some kind of problem, and she looked to me to solve it FOR her.
Finally, she left a monotone voice-mail that had become all-too-familiar …. it was the “pitiful” Jenn that was in a needy space. When I returned her call, she became shrill and launched into a (literally) non-stop jag of hysterical rhetoric and sobbing – none of which made ANY sense. I finally had to shout over the phone at her to stop it and figure out why she was punishing herself over something that was inconsequential. Well, come to find out that she had neglected to tell me that she had experienced 2 very dramatic events within 18 hours – the first being a catalyst of fear, and the second being a FEAR-BASED decision as a result of the catalyst. Well, I was incredulous that she had just neglected to mention these two events that were clearly the basis of this self-flagellation about what a “bad” person she was. She actually used those words, “I’m a bad person……..bad person…….bad, bad person….” I told her to stop it and her final words to me were, “Leave me alone,” before she hung up on me.
Okay. Jenn is over 50, herself, and her behaviors have been SO off the rails for SO long that she honestly doesn’t even realize that she’s engaging in them. For me, it’s 100% toxic, draining, and distracting my own focus upon my own healing and recovery.
Listen, everyone, very carefully. If ANYONE leaves you feeling drained, confused, and distracted from your own recovery and healing, please, examine the dynamics and distance yourself until you can see the whole forest instead of the one tree.
I was raised to be a “perfect victim,” which is the role that I played for nearly my entire life. I am weary of playing victim, and I am beginning to relish my personal recovery and healing. I am jealously guarding myself, now, with vigilance and attention. We EACH need to do this, even if it requires making decisions that are challenging and, sometimes, painful. We have to let some things go in order to guard our own recovery and healing. And, we don’t have to make these decisions in a climate of anger, rage, or fury. We can recognize when someone is a soul-sucker, and put distance and barriers between them and us as a means of self-protection.
It is not…………NOT………..”bad,” wicked, mean, or evil to call a spade a spade. If we protect ourselves, we are not “bad” people.for protecting ourselves and guarding our precious vulnerabilities from people that would harm us, deliberately, or as a result of their own dysfunction.
So………..TOWANDA to everyone. Hold your recovery CLOSE and dearly guard it! 😀
Truthy, when people want to be “rescued” and are unwilling to help themselves, all teh good advice and support we can give them will come to naught because what they are really doing is trying to get someone else to be responsible for their plight.
I remember you talking about “Jenn” wanting you to move in wiht her when you leave your current residence and then finding you that HER HOUSE WAS IN FORECLOSURE AT THAT TIME….Having your house in foreclosure is traumatic…BUT on that note…HOW did it become in foreclosure? WHO was responsible for that? WHO can go on with her life? She obviously wants YOU to become her “mommy” and her your little baby, but you know. I AM a trained professional but I REQUIRED COUNSELING myself.
While it is nice to be validated by someone else and to feel supported, too many people who are involved in the DRAMA TRIANGLE of “victim, rescuer and persecutor triad” that if we were raised to be “enablers” these people will seek us out if their “favorite” role is “victim” She obviously feels that she is a VICTIM and she wants RESCUE…without her having to solve the problems that she made herself.
You have made EFFORT to fix your own situation, financially, medically, and emotionally. You have WORKED to heal and recover in all these areas which you have difficulties in. Sure, you’ve vented, cried, raged, and thrown pity parties, BUT you have made Progress because you worked on your problems, didn’t blame someone or some thing for your problems but acknowledged that you allowed these problems to build up on you and now you are facing the consequences and YOU have to make changes. No one can do it FOR you.
Your “friend” Jenn is a toxic victim and is not going to want to hear GOOD advice because it doesn’t go along with her finding a rescuer. I’ve had a bunch of these people in my life that made bad choices and bad decisions that caused them to lose their home and I felt sorry for them and allowed them to move on to my farm in an RV and they immediately treated me like THEY owned it and started taking advantage of my vulnerabilites as I was just back at the farm from my stint in hiding, but eventually, I realized that they felt ENTITLED to have me “take them to raise” and provide them a place to live, utilities, storage space, and allow them to turn my living areas into junk piles so eventually I learned to SET BOUNDARIES in how I “help” people… and I asked them to leave.
just last year I needed some work done here at the farm and there was a neighbor family who were very poor, they survived by selling scrap metal. I gave them a job and they did most of the job, but they started trying to con me, Stole a few things, and I learned that they all had criminal records. and were scamming the welfare system.
You know…my ex father in law used to say “you can give people things, but you cannot HELP them” and I think he was right. I appreciate the support and good advice I’ve received from you guys, the insight you have given me daily, but my healing, my coping is MY RESPONSIBILITY, not yours, and vice versa.
OxD, yes, indeed. I’ve done some really hard work to get to this point. And, when Jenn offered for me to bring Bob and our then-4-cats to live with her on her property, it “sounded” like a win-win situation. BUT, the more that I considered it, the more it just didn’t FEEL safe for me. I didn’t know why, at the time, but that was BEFORE she told me that she had stopped making payments on her house, and immediately AFTER he son moved out.
She fought to hold onto that property during her divorce and mentioned (2 months ago) that she had refinanced the mortgage several times, already. Then, she moved in that boyfiend (spelling error INTENTED) just so he could pay the mortgage while she finished her degree.
Well………it seems like she’s making decisions that aren’t’ based upon common sense or even practicality. And, I put the kiabosh on the cohabitation idea when she told me (finally) that she’d stopped making payments. If I had moved in with her, last year, then I would now be looking for another place to move to. She never, at any time, gave thought to the idea that she couldn’t EVER afford to keep paying for that place. She banked (literally) on getting a position with her degree, and it never panned out for her the way that she had planned.
I learned the very, very UGLY way that we cannot guarantee that any of our plans will come to fruition. Sure, I know hundreds of people who worked hard in college (or, wherever they chose to make their careers), and made excellent lives for themselves. And, I know many, many others who experienced dramatic and unforeseen tragedies and events that placed them on completely different paths than they had planned for themselves. For me, personally, I never imagined that I would be this sick, this destitute, and this undone at this point in my life. But, guess what? I’m managing my health, my finances, and my own recovery and healing, and I’m doing it because it’s my choice.
Perpetual victims are the most difficult, and Jenn kept crying, over and over, “WHY is this happening to ME?!” I tried to tell her that these things had happened to millions, were still happening, and would continue to happen. It wasn’t WHAT was happening, but HOW she chose to sort it out that really mattered. She did not hear a single word that I said. She only heard what would allow her to behave like a petulant child and hang up the phone – and, I will be blamed for her current state of mind, I imagine. I don’t imagine her saying to herself, “You know, I should NEVER have thought that I would be able to keep this place on my salary. And, I should apologize to my friend for hanging up on her in a pity-tantrum.” It’s not going to occur to her.
So…..I’m walking away without any anger. It is what it is, and she is what she is. I can’t “fix” other people. I am working like crazy to recover and heal myself, and it’s VERY important to me that I not allow anyone else to interfere with that endeavor. So, I’m okay with it, personally. 😉
The “why is this happening to ME?” question smacks of arrogance and feeling that she is entitled to “good things” and that she can’t SEE the decisions that she made to get where she is…in foreclosure. I know that some people come to foreclosure due to no fault of their own, but living “too high” and trying to hang on to a big expensive house when you don’t have the where-with-all to pay for it is a good way to go bankrupt.
I’ve been very conservative financially and it has bode me well through the years.I try my best to stay out of debt, pay off credit cards monthly, etc. My financial salvation now that I had to retire so early due to the PTSD is that I don’t owe anyone anything and I live frugally. I try not to spend what I don’t have. Cut out the “frills” like cable and such as that. I keep utilities low by being frugal with both heat in the winter and AC in the summer.
I like to eat well and healthy but I do it on a budget, cooking from scratch and growing some of my own food, primarily meat (which is getting more and more expensive)