The Company of Wolves

Jean-Luc Picard: “They took everything I was. They used me to kill and to destroy, and I couldn’t stop them. I should have been able to stop them. I tried. I tried so hard… but I wasn’t strong enough! I wasn’t good enough! I should have been able to stop them…”

Surrounding yourself with supportive people is one of the most important aspects of being healthy and happy. Some people are faced with family members, who belittle their life choices and put them down. There is always someone telling them to do things differently. These shallow types know little of the inner peace and tranquillity that comes from being thankful for what others already have. Instead, they scorn their family member and see him as “settling” in life. Some people tend to forget that loyalty and respect are a two-way street.

However happy you are with your choices, there’ll always be someone lurking in the shadows, ready to put you down. It can be exhausting when other people are constantly questioning your decisions and being overly-critical, which can often lead to a bit of an identity crisis. However comfortable you become with your choices, having them repeatedly questioned, will almost certainly make you question yourself. Those shallow wolves in his family choose only to see the negative side of certain aspects of his life, so trying to stay positive through it all is head wrecking.

It is important to realise that other people’s opinions of you are often actually a reflection of how they feel about themselves. Those who are critical of his life are probably unhappy with their own lives, so this is likely to be a reflection of their own uncertainty. Those members of his family (The Betrayers) are resentful of his lifestyle and choose to criticise it rather than accept that they are unhappy with their own lives. Most sensible people welcome truth and openness because they are good standards to live by. Not having to lie is a good thing but others in his family have told so many untruths about their own lives, that dishonesty and betrayal have become traits they live with.

He hopes compassion, honesty, and care are really important aspects of his personality, as he had to learn the hard way, that he needed to be selfish when necessary. The Betrayers in his family always find a way to put him down and make him feel bad about the truth he lives by in his life. These Wolves have no right to make him feel inadequate and as foolish as they do.

So what if he tears up for abused and neglected animals? So what if he feels touched when he meets a stranger or a homeless person who tells him they are lonely? He is not cold, nor intolerant. He isn’t withholding, judgmental and disconnected, nor is he unwilling to understand other peoples despair. His empathy tank is low for the rest of his family now that his mum has passed away. Suddenly he feels as much empathy for them as he would a common criminal. His ability to understand and care for their feelings is gone after the way they have treated him. He can feel empathetic towards strangers, acquaintances, and animals, but not with his family, The Betrayers.

The anger and betrayal he feels have made it even harder to live without his mother. These emotions have blocked off his capacity to feel warmth for those who have treated him so badly and who spread lies about him to the wider family circle. For instance, the older sister, The Treacherous Betrayer, had an infection and as a result, lost the hearing in her ear and instead of concern, he felt numb when she mentioned it. He wasn’t happy at all that she was suffering from this but it did cross his mind, was this some kind of punishment for the way she is so conceited and for the way she treats people with such arrogance and contempt. Instead of empathy, all he could muster was indignation!

The sadness he has at losing his mum is truly unbearable. Every day he tries to mask it with humour among other things but the simple truth is, the crack in his heart may never repair. The betrayal from the Company of Wolves that is his family, including his father, the betrayer who rejected, is also unbearable because it’s very painful to see so many deceived by their lies and also because they are afraid that the community around them will see them for what they really are, a pack of shit-stirring, sinister, unscrupulous, wily wolves.

In fairness to him, he has long resisted the urge to fix these problems any further. Sometimes when his family complained, insulted, or accused, his first instinct was to feel defensive especially when he knew 100% he had truth on his side. Maybe he just wanted to quickly solve these problems so that his pain and sadness would go away. We all just want to live by the truth, be heard, and be understood. But If that sounds too simple to work, or too hard for them to understand, then they have truly learned nothing from their sickening behaviour.

The Angel by William Blake

I Dreamt a Dream! what can it mean?
And that I was a maiden Queen:
Guarded by an Angel mild:
Witless woe, was ne’er beguil’d!

And I wept both night and day
And he wip’d my tears away
And I wept both day and night
And hid from him my hearts delight

So he took his wings and fled:
Then the morn blush’d rosy red:
I dried my tears & armed my fears,
With ten thousand shields and spears.

Soon my Angel came again;
I was arm’d, he came in vain:
For the time of youth was fled,
And grey hairs were on my head

She’s the Talk of the Town

‘The Prison of Betrayers’ includes many people whose lives have been shaped by various events. In Dante Alighieri’s ‘Inferno’, Treachery is the worst sin in the 9th circle of hell because it tricks others into sin when they think they are actually doing good. In everyday life, there are those who are guilty of treachery against others they had close relationships with. Treachery is deliberate and calculated and clearly an act of betrayal. People can fall victim to many horrible situations such as deception and deceit, bullying and betrayal, shock and suffering, depression and devaluation, character assassination and abuse, destructive criticism and humiliation, suicidal thoughts, and social anxiety to name but a few.

The Treacherous Betrayer stands out above them all, also known as The Master Manipulator. The worst type of person is the one in the background, controlling the narrative, all the while maintaining that air of innocence and respectability. The so-called candid friend. Fear is one of those things that drives us in life. Some people can harness it and focus it and turn it into something positive. Others’ lives are controlled by it because they have been conditioned that way from childhood. Fear of the unknown, fear of loneliness, fear of rejection, fear of lies, and of course, fear of the truth coming out. But as the old saying goes, the truth will always out, and even then some people choose not to believe it. This is where the mastery of manipulation leads to Treachery.

Dante’s Inferno can serve as a metaphor for some of the people we deal with in life. Toxic people who can be good at keeping the focus off themselves while they damage the reputation of others, such as the Master Manipulator committing the ultimate sin of selfishness. The Treacherous have lied, cheated, and stolen people’s credibility without feeling any vestige of shame. They have no honour, no empathy, no compassion, no humility, and no reflection! They think they are the center of everyone’s world and will stop at nothing to gain personal benefit. The lowest circle of hell in Inferno is reserved for the worst sinner, who in Dante’s view is the traitor and backstabber, those who use their position, trust, and friendship to carry out their crimes. Everyone knows a master manipulator. A person who was spoiled in their youth by loving parents, but who learned jealousy at a young age. They tend to make promises which they never keep. Broken promises and deception became everyday behaviour for them.

This particular Treacherous Betrayer would try to portray herself as a confidant and then she would humiliate others by revealing details of their private lives which eroded all forms of trust. No matter how much her drunken father and alcoholic brother would verbally insult their mother, she would never call them out on it. She would always stand up for both of them and treat their mother like she was overreacting for being upset at their degrading behaviour. She was manipulating people from a young age. Taking mental notes on people’s weaknesses and using them to her advantage. She was sly, cold, and calculating. She never said or done a thing in her life without looking closely to see if it would be to her advantage. She used people for her own ends, family, friends, and neighbours. She never once stopped and thought about the damage her actions could cause.

She became hated by the local community for her deceit, for the way she gossiped about others, and for the way she spread rumours about people. She became imperious, thinking she was better than everyone. She was known to some as the talk of the town. She married a businessman who worked locally and told everyone a story of how he had pursued her and whisked her off her feet when in reality, she had seen him in a local bar and proceeded to find out all about him. She then rang his office a week later and asked him out on a date. She then pursued him as he was her meal ticket out of a desperate situation she found herself in at that point in her life. She had a young daughter from a previous relationship that had broken down due to her, and she found herself living in a small flat in a run-down area. So she put her plan into action, got married, and moved from the small market town she lived in, to California where apparently he had a very good career and she became a lady of leisure..

These actions of hers are small potatoes compared to other troubles she has brought on people. She definitely deserves a place in the 9th circle of hell that Dante called Treachery. So many have never known anyone that can do treachery like she can. Even at a recent funeral, every word from her mouth was laced with insult, innuendo, and pure nastiness, with no care for the mourners of the dead.

On one occasion, someone foolishly trusted her to mention that he had been sexually abused by two men when he was only 7 years old. Her exact response was “well why did you let them do that to you?” Another example of her cold insensitivity. No genuine concern, no empathy, no nothing. She made that person feel like it was his fault that the abuse happened. You can only imagine what effect that had on the guy. He happened to mention this to a psychiatrist who he was seeing and she was shocked beyond belief. She said she wouldn’t wish that reaction on anyone who had experienced such trauma in their childhood. It was considered another betrayal of the trust that had been placed in her. She even told others that it was made up and never happened. Shocking even for someone like her.

This master manipulators’ behaviour was an emotionally unhealthy psychological strategy used by her repeatedly. She tried to control everyone’s narrative, gaslighting people and spreading lies about others, even to her own mum who had dementia in the last few years of her life which was seen by many as unforgivable to confuse an elderly lady like that. She got what she wanted through deception. She created lies and illusions which she used to confuse and control her parents. This Treacherous Betrayer would never admit her mistakes. She will continue to lie and distort facts and change events to suit her own agenda. A lot of people’s lives are grounded on the basis of love being the ‘mystical goal of a noble life’, but treachery and betrayal are an insult to any decent human beings’ core values. What act expresses better the desire to live only for oneself than the explicit and extreme rejection of the closest relationships of humility and humanity? Take away the ideas of family, friendship, honesty, and loyalty, and no human relationship is left, only this woman enduring herself forever. Not only is she the Treacherous Betrayer, Shes The Talk of the Town.

My Mum

You were the sunlight in my day,
you are the moon I see far away.
You were the tree I leaned upon,
you made sure all my troubles were gone.

You were the one that taught me life,
how not to fight, and what was right.
You are the words inside my song,
you are my love, my life, my Mum.

You were the one that cared for me,
You were the eyes that helped me see.
You were the one who knew me best,
When it was time for fun, and time to rest.

You were the one that helped my dreams,
You heard my heart and you heard my screams.
Afraid of life, but always loved,
I’m blessed for God sent you from above.

You were my friend, my heart, my soul,
The greatest mum, I could ever know.
You are the words inside my song,
You are my love, my life, my Mum.

Farewell at the window

She recently passed away at the age of 82. She spent the last four years of her life in a nursing home as she began having a lot of falls around her own home and apparently her husband couldn’t look after her any longer. She was born into poverty in a local Northern Irish market town. Her family had a tough upbringing for many reasons, then ‘The Troubles’ broke out in Northern Ireland which brought a whole new set of challenges for her family and friends, including being evicted from her home by the local neighbours because of sectarian tensions that had arisen between the Catholic and Protestant communities. After she gave birth to her youngest son, she became very ill in the hospital and nearly died but managed at the last second to pull through. The ordeal left her with mobility problems and no doubt had a long-lasting effect on her wellbeing and mental health.

She was a woman of small stature but had a huge loving heart. She always made sure her 3 children were clean, well-fed, and cared for in every way. Life in the 70s and 80s brought various problems and she put up with a great deal. She was a very sensitive Lady, she was warm, generous and would never turn anyone away if they needed help. She would always try and see the best in people and because of this, many would underestimate her intelligence and her ability to cope. She had to cope with an emotionally stunted husband, who liked to drink and entertained himself with such past times as badger baiting. Not long after she got married her first child, a little girl was stillborn.

Her eldest son was a hot-headed, republican supporting alcoholic and drug fiend whose only interest in life was engaging in rioting and who would always come home in the small hours smelling of alcohol and petrol bombs. Her only surviving daughter was a spoiled, manipulative young woman with deep jealousy towards anyone who had more things than her. The third and youngest son was very shy and reserved and found it hard to cope in social situations as he was so overshadowed by his siblings. There was also an age gap of 9 and 7 years between him, his brother, and his sister. The youngest son lived in a different world which he thought was normal. But from his mid-teens onward, he began to realise just how far from normal his childhood years had been. He was more of a third wheel than a third child and right up until his present age of 47, every week brought a new family drama. He loved and admired his mother a great deal and it was him she asked to make sure that she would never end up in a nursing home. And of course, being the dutiful son he made that promise to her with every intention of protecting her from such a fate that clearly they both dreaded.

Even though this Mother did not suffer directly from the current pandemic sweeping the globe ie Covid-19. It did in the end, indirectly kill her along with other factors. In the final analysis, she suffered a great deal before her death. She died with her family members not speaking to each other. She died in a nursing home in July 2020 and her family had to watch her pass away through a window due to the UK government Covid-19 restrictions. The family had not been able to hug and kiss her or hold her hand since March 2020. Her health problems included Dementia, heart attacks, water on the brain, circulation problems, and the complete loss of mobility in her limbs. She died feeling frightened, alone, and in a state of confusion as to why her family wasn’t at her bedside. This will haunt the family for the rest of their days, as will the look on her face as she drew her last breaths. She looked up at the sky above for about 10 seconds and smiled ever so slightly before she left this world which made the youngest son wonder if one of their deceased relatives had come to take her onwards to a more peaceful place.

Now feels like the best time for these stories to be told. None of it easy, a lot of it difficult, and a lot of characters that would give Dantes Divine Comedy a run for its money. The one thing the mother and her youngest son shared was a good understanding of ‘truth’. They were both on the outside looking in at The Prison of Betrayers. And of those, there were many whose stories will be told here.