Archive for October, 2014

The Magic of Halloween

Posted: October 31, 2014 in Uncategorized

halloween2As a kid, I loved Halloween, but it wasn’t the candy, costumes, or even staying up later than normal that did it for me. It wasn’t the creepy decorations or the scary shows on TV, although those were pretty cool. It was the spell that strange and mystifying night put me under that did it; that sense of mystery that seemed to buzz in the air with an energy and magic all its own. Each year, the promise of that night, and that night alone, held me in its sway without ever revealing the truth of its origins or power. That very wonderment – of something ancient, enchanting, and waiting to be discovered – was the biggest thrill of all.

Sunset has always been my favorite part of the day, and no other time of the year is one every more beautiful or alluring than the one that ushers in Halloween night. As a child and into my teens, I would walk due west into the ten acres of dense forest that was my own private playground and birthright. With its myriad trees, trails, brushes and hollows, it was my escape from the real-life terrors of home, school, and the mean streets of Flint’s north side. I treasured its leaf-covered canopy especially during that time of year when it turned various shades of yellow and rust and the leaves fell to the ground to become dried brown husks that crunched underfoot. They became the soundtrack for my annual “Halloween Walk.”

As was my ritual, I would slowly stroll through the seemingly endless maze of trails behind my parents home. I roamed these woods not as its master but as an equal and as such, she yielded her secrets to me. I was rewarded with a heightened awareness that allowed me to remember every sight, smell, and sound as if it were burned into my memory by the heat of an ancient Celtic ceremonial fire. Each of my favorite places – the “Odin Tree,” the swamp, and all the other hidden things – took on an almost otherworldly importance when bathed in the amber glow of Halloween’s setting sun. Oh, how I wished this sunset would last forever!

Willing to trade a lifetime of trick-or-treating for just one seemingly endless moment such as these would be worth it. I made silent pleas to whatever gods might be listening to make it so yet no matter how ardent my words, the magic of the moment could not last forever. Eventually, my mother’s voice, shrill and grating, would pierce the sense of peacefulness that had enveloped me in its autumnal blanket. The time to return home and prepare for the traditional hollow Halloween rituals always came too soon and I my only consolation was that I would have to wait an entire year to the day to once more catch but a glimpse of this glory.

Then came the night when even the empty rituals were lost to me, almost forever.

It was a Halloween that started like any other. I took my annual walk through the woods at sunset, and from there, it was back home where I dressed and went trick-or-treating with my brother and Skeeter, our neighborhood friend. It was the early 1980s and I, like many young men my age, was bitten by the Bruce Lee bug. One day, while chop-sockeying my way around the house, I stumbled upon my uncle’s old karate gi. This was the icing on the cake, as it would allow me the opportunity to finally dress the part of the invincible martial arts master that I was in the action movie reels that played inside my young, testosterone- and fantasy-fueled mind. As the old saying goes, “The clothes make the man,” and I sure believed it that night.

As we headed out into the chill of that late-October night, the three of us were blessed with a vision that was truly befitting of the Halloween spirit. Right there, illuminated by the silvery sphere of a full or new moon, a bat fluttered by. We couldn’t help but comment on this coincidence, which our young and fanciful minds took to be a sign of Halloween’s promise. And perhaps it was, for not long after, our pillow cases were nearly bursting with the sweet yummy goodness of gumballs, Bottle Caps, Pixie Stix, and a wide variety of other tasty treats just waiting to be devoured back home while watching Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Indeed, the festivities had all the makings of a perfect evening… until “it” happened.

As we rounded the corner of Montrose and Mott avenues, the distinct roar of a hot rod was heard in our vicinity. As if by magic, a 1970s Chevelle the color of Bondo roared past us and, from an open window, a fire extinguisher blasted out into the night. Before my highly-trained martial arts reflexes could muster up a flying sidekick, my comrades and I were coated in the fire extinguisher’s jet stream. There was nothing to do but freeze as the cold water penetrated our costumes and soaked us to the bones. Then, nearly as quickly, Skeeter bellowed out in pain, shouting “They hit me!” A quick check confirmed that my friend was beaned in the dome with an egg, its gooey contents coating his mousy-brown mullet. The distinct sound of laughter echoed out into the night as the car spun its oversized rear tires, spitting gravel at us, before speeding off.

And just like that, the magic of Halloween was added to the list of things ruined by the bullies who dominated the Reagan-era Hamady High social scene.

With our heads hung low, we slunk home in defeat. It would be the last of the innocence of our child-like pursuits. With our teenage years upon us, Skeeter and I drifted off into separate social cliques while my younger brother went trick-or-treating with his friends until he, too, grew tired of that “kid’s stuff.” Life changed and we changed with it in the only ways we knew how. I never donned a Halloween costume again, even for adult events; instead, I was content to be “that guy”… you know, the only one who shows up to a Halloween party in regular attire.

Now, in my 40s, the magic of October 31st seems to be coming full circle in my life. I have discovered the secret to the glamour of the Halloween sunset and why it seemed to call out to me from far beyond just my mind. Through researching the pagan beliefs and customs of my Celtic ancestors, I discovered Samhain, the original Halloween. I was pleased to read that this holiday begins at sunset on October 31st and lasts until sunset the following day. It’s easy to imagine that the genetic memories of my long-dead ancestors – those who worshipped the old gods – are encoded deep within the primordial part of my brain. Perhaps these pagan relatives were reaching out to me each year beyond the veil of time and space.

And I’m not the only one who recognizes the power of Halloween at dusk. Look at the packaging of most Halloween candies and decorations. What do you see? Usually, it’s houses, leafless trees and wrought iron gates painted black and backlit by – you guessed it – the beautiful oranges and yellows of a setting sun. Images such as these have become iconic with the commercial and entertainment aspects of Halloween and I firmly believe that its continuing popularity is due in no small part to the residual magic of Samhain that continues to be a lingering part of our collective unconscious. It’s as if the bonfires and sacrifices made by those crazy Celts have produced a sort of magical hum that continues to echo out into eternity.

I’m proud to say that I am now a believer in the magic of Halloween night, as well. Last year, I grumbled while my wife and I took our sons trick-or-treating. I was hot, tired, and couldn’t wait to get home and was just hanging in there for the kids’ sake. Then I noticed another group of people talking excitedly and pointing up into the air. As I approached them, I asked them what they were looking at and they showed me: there, at the top of the tallest fir tree in our neighborhood sat a large owl. As I looked upon it, I could see it looking down upon me, its superb eyesight and night-vision no doubt getting a clearer image of me than I of it.Laying eyes upon this majestic and rarely-seen bird sent a chill up my spine and I’m no stranger to its significance.

All in all, the experience was magical… magical enough to restore my faith in Halloween.
J.P. Ribner is the author of three novels – “Legacy of the Bear,” “Prophecy of the Bear” and “World So Dark.”

Wow! Some of us aren’t used to talking about tough topics, are we?

I’m referring to the reactions of some of my friends after they read my last blog entry, “So He Cheated: Here’s Why.” My lovely wife followed up with the counterpoint piece, “So She Cheated: Here’s Why” on her blog, as well. Given the amount of soul searching and healing that I’ve done over the past 5+ years, discussing topics such as this aren’t too much of a struggle for me, and my wife is certainly no shrinking violet either. In all my boldness, I forgot how little it takes for some of my friends to become unglued.

While most of my Facebook friends appreciated the brutally honest look into cheating, one of my female friends did not appreciate my viewpoint. To clarify, the thrust of my piece (no pun intended) was that there are certain behaviors that women engage in that might make it easy for their men to cheat. One friend in particular, Delilah Dogooder, took exception to my suggestion that a woman could be partially to blame. She denied doing any of the six reasons I listed and put all the blame for infidelity solely upon her ex-boyfriend. She then quickly wrapped up her statement with a cute little bow by saying, “end of story” and for her, I’m sure that it is.

I personally believe she’s taking the easy way out.

As much as I like Delilah, I think she’s living on a houseboat that’s floating in a river somewhere in Egypt. Whether she committed any of the six reasons I listed or simply makes horrible choices in men, she most definitely played an active role in all of her relationships, both good and bad. We all do, and to think otherwise is a tad foolish. To compound her blind spot, Ms. Dogooder raved about my wife’s blog, which lists the five things men do to encourage their wives/girlfriends to cheat. I didn’t bother to point out to the obviously gender-based hypocrisy that Delilah is engaging in with this because I believe she’d simply refuse to see my point.

Another Facebook friend took the completely opposite stance of Delilah. Apparently, Auntie Mosity enjoyed my blog but said my wife’s blog had upset her. I can’t help but wonder why someone would engage in an obvious gender bias in the completely opposite direction. Could it be that Auntie is tougher on women than she is on men, and finds it easier to forgive men of the same transgressions she would damn a woman for? I can’t say for certain because I’m not inside her head but I will say that I believe that she, too, missed the point of both mine and my wife’s blogs. Rosemary and I were looking to illuminate, not castigate, but I guess you win some, you lose some.

Last but not least is my friend Nie Eve E’Tay. She was the hardest one to reach because apparently she lives in a binary world where everything is black and white. According to Ms. E’Tay, cheating is always and only about the cheater and never the cheated-upon. According to her idea of a perfect world, if someone in a relationship is tempted to cheat, they owe to their partner to terminate the relationship before they indulge in their carnal desires. And in a perfect world, people wouldn’t marry people for money and/or lifestyle, nor would they date or marry someone just for their looks, and they most certainly wouldn’t use people for sex. Thing is, we don’t live in a perfect world; in fact, there’s no such thing. So as far as I’m concerned, any “perfect world” argument is bullshit.

Both my wife and another Facebook friend tried to get Nie Eve to see that my post was not condoning cheating nor was it justifying the reasons men cheat. Sadly, neither of them could get through to her. She steadfastly clung to her assertion that the cheated-upon are innocent victims in all of this, which is no surprise. Everybody wants to be a victim these days because this status gives people a blank check to harm others in the name of personal “empowerment.” And if you call them out on their behavior, you’re “blaming the victim” and a horrible person. It’s sad that the moral of the story was lost upon Nie Eve but I should probably cut her some slack… or it’s proof positive that I hate women.

Despite the opposition, I’m glad I wrote the piece about cheating. While the point escaped three people, the majority of my friends – as well as many people I don’t know – understood where I was coming from and were able to apply it to their lives. Kudos to them! I can only hope everyone sticks with me as I delve into deeper and even darker waters in the future. The blog’s name is Trauma Central, after all!

J.P. Ribner is the author of three novels – “Legacy of the Bear,” “Prophecy of the Bear” and “World So Dark.”

So She Cheated: Here’s Why

Posted: October 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

Listen up, fellas. My beautiful wife breaks it down on why some women will cheat on their men. If this has happened to you and you don’t want it to happen again, you might want to read up!

The Big Girl's Guide

I need to state for the record that I have never been unfaithful to anyone – not a single boyfriend and neither my ex-husband nor my current one. That said, I was tempted to cheat in the past because of poor treatment. Though I chose not to do it, the desire to cheat is something I understand all too well. I am also the chosen confidant of many women and I know why they cheated. Using myself and my friends, I will endeavor to explain why so many women do commit adultery.

I would like to explain a few things about women. This would be pertaining to most normal women and not personality disordered women or that small minority of women that treat sex casually. Women, unlike men, need to have some sort of an emotional bond with someone to be intimate. We need to care, feel safe and believe…

View original post 1,073 more words

Do you want to know why your man cheated on you? I mean, really really want to know why? Then put down the carton of Häagen-Dazs, dry your eyes, and read this article… It might just save your next relationship!

With the exception of my wife, I’ve cheated on nearly every significant relationship I’ve ever been in. It’s a fact I’m not proud of, but there it is. If there’s one good thing that came out of all this, it’s that I have some good insider information on why men do this sort of thing. Secondly, if you want to get anything out of this, just forget about the idea of right/wrong or good/bad. I’m not your priest so I don’t deal with the binary concept of right or wrong. I’m more concerned about the facts of human behavior and you should be too if you don’t want your next boyfriend to cheat on you. Got it? Great!

Now for the third and most important fact about cheating: you helped bring it upon yourself. Harsh? You bet, but it’s every bit the truth. I’m not your girlfriends, your sisters or you mother so I’m not going to say things like, “He didn’t deserve you,” or “You were too good for him, honey.” That kind of talk just encourages you to keep doing the things you’ve been doing that drive men away. At some point you have to want to change your behavior to change your results. So if you’re ready to hear what you need to hear – not what you want to hear – then feel free to read on. C’mon! You know you want to… it’s why you clicked the link, after all.

Reason Men Cheat No. 1: You Neglect Him
If you don’t want to get cheated on, don’t neglect your man. Consider this cautionary tale: The first time I ever cheated was in my very first relationship with a woman named Lilly. We lived about 30 minutes apart, so I looked forward to the weekends when I could see her; but during the last six months of our two-year relationship, she was going out and doing things without me… a lot. Enter the Serbian Seductress, a coworker with shiny black hair, legs for days, and a pair of breasts like two heat-seeking missiles.

One particular weekend when Lilly ditched me yet again, the Serbian Seductress and I, well… you can pretty much figure out where it went from there. I never told Lilly about my fling, not that it mattered; my premonitions about my girlfriend’s copious amount of “alone time” proved true: we eventually broke up. I might’ve mentioned the Serbian Seductress after that.

Reason No. 2: You’re Emotionally Immature
You might be in your 30s or 40s, but some of you have the emotional maturity of a 15 year old. It shows in the relationship games you play. One of my exes – Ms. Piggy – believed the key to a healthy, long-term relationship was for her to constantly be playing games. Whether she was doing it to make me jealous of other men or neglecting to have sex with me often so I would “appreciate her more,” everything with her was a power struggle designed to maintain control.

These kinds of games work when you’re in high school; but when you’re in your 30s and 40s, this shit gets old. Throughout the history of our five-year, on-again/off-again relationship, I had cheated on Ms. Piggy with nearly 30 women including her best friend. Needless to say, she was rather devastated when she finally found out; I guess I had my own way of showing her who was in control.

Reason No. 3: You Sever his Manhood
While pulling the ol’ Lorena Bobbitt trick is a definite dealbreaker, that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the metaphoric act of chopping a man’s balls off, which is constantly deriding him about not being “man enough” for whatever it is that you think he should be. Case in point, my ex-girlfriend Nellie Oleson; all she ever did was compare me to my best friend, whom she said was better than me because his job paid more, he had a house, and a lake lot complete with motorboat. It was very demeaning, to say the least.

Ladies, if you’re constantly feel the need to tell your man that he’s less than a man, he’ll go out to prove that he is… with another woman. Consider yourself lucky if it’s just a one-night-stand; but chances are, he could find someone who loves him for who he is and he’ll leave your ass quicker than you can say, “Why don’t you make as much money as Tony?” Take it from me, Nellie Oleson learned this lesson the hard way when she drove over to my friend’s house to see me wrapped in the arms of someone younger, hotter, and more endowed.

Reason No. 4: You Constantly Accuse Him
When I get constantly accused of doing something I didn’t do, it kinda makes me want to go out and do it. Double that for anything illicit, illegal, or immoral. During our first year of wedded bliss (cough!), my ex-wife Peaches constantly accused me of cheating on her. It got to the point that it became a nightly ritual when I came home from work. The first few times I was able to say, “No, honey. That’s not what’s happening. I love you with all my heart.”

After a few months of near-constant harassing and haranguing, I quickly changed my tune to, “Well, if I’m gonna get blamed for it, I might as well do it.” Thirteen years later, my ex-wife still remembers the name of the woman I had an affair with. What’s more, she said that woman’s name with all the bitterness and venom of a clutch of rattlesnakes. And here I thought I was just doing what I was told!

Reason No. 5: Feminism
Yeah, I said it and I’m going to stand by it, too. Look ladies, I know the angry, unreasonable, man-hating feminist routine is a huge hit when you’re in your 20s; but if you want to keep your man at home, you might not want to subscribe to an ideology that demeans, belittles, and outright castigates him and his entire gender. And let’s be honest, either all feminism is radical or only angry, hateful, radical women subscribe to its theories. There wouldn’t be such blatant man-hating otherwise.

When men are looking to settle down, we want a woman who’s soft, caring, and nurturing. Forever and ever, amen is a LONG time, after all… too long to spend with some Valerie Solanas wannabe lecturing us about how leaving the toilet seat up is a form of patriarchal oppression. And have you ever seen the leaders of the feminist movement? They’re like pit bulls in drag, only with less sex appeal. I wish I had a personal story to share here, but even I’m smart enough to avoid the feminazi brigade when I met them.

Reason No. 6: Magical Thinking
“Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Ever hear that one? For the most part, it’s true… but if you think otherwise, you’re engaging in “magical thinking” or the belief that you will somehow be special or different that the proven statistics. Aesop of Aesop’s fables fame new all about magical thinking way back when he wrote the story of The Farmer and the Viper. I suggest you read it, because if you’re dating a cheater, then you’re the farmer and this guy you think you’re going to change is the viper.

If you marry the guy who cheated on his wife to be with you and expect him to be faithful, you’re engaging in magical thinking. You’re also an idiot. Same goes for women ignore the warnings from trusted friends to date men with horrible reputations and baby mamas all over town. These ladies are actually shocked, mortified, and completely devastated when he sleeps with some tower of whore. And women who stay with a guy who admits to having cheated in all his past relationships are just too stupid to try to help so I won’t even try.

While men who cheat might be nasty, evil, disgusting pigs, chances are you played a starring role in his infidelity. Yes, in a perfect world, people would either be the perfect creation you thought your pussy would make them or they would have the balls to just break up with you before they stray. Well I got news for ya… this world is far from perfect.

Until the day comes when we all piss rainbows, shit clouds, and live in peace and harmony with each other, you’re going to have to suck it up and change some of the negative habits and patterns that might be preventing you from having the relationship of your dreams. It’s either that or you start buying kitty litter in bulk. The choice is yours, princess but don’t take too long; time waits for no man… or woman.

J.P. Ribner is the author of three novels – “Legacy of the Bear,” “Prophecy of the Bear” and “World So Dark.”

I can’t even have dinner without dealing with the personality disordered!

So my wife and I went to Ruby Tuesday’s tonight because both of us were looking forward to their delicious salad bar. Unfortunately, when it was my turn to fill my plate, I got stuck behind Pokey McFiddlefuck who took forever to make her salad. As far as I was concerned, she was doing it purposely; it was all in the way she took her sweet-ass time.

Just choosing between the spinach leaves, spring mix, romaine, and iceberg was nearly a five-minute ordeal. Now imagine her consternation with the rest of the bar’s myriad offerings! At each choice, she’d dab a little bit onto her plate that look at me out of the corner of her eye, which was hidden behind a tangled mess of black hair. Then, keeping her feet planted to the floor, she continued to ponder each additional choice as if it were a matter of life or death. I could almost hear her thinking, Do I want the cucumbers? Hmmmmm… And what about the carrots? I can’t remember if I like shredded carrots or not.

She even fucked with me when she got to the dressing station.

As if considering the fate of the free world, Pokey could not decide which dressing to put upon her salad. Again, after what seemed like five minutes, she finally decided on Ranch… for half of the salad. With the skill and precision of an artist working on his masterpiece, she drizzled the creamy white dressing into a pattern that would’ve made Jackson Pollack jealous. Then, after another minute, she finally decided to go with French on the other half. Needless to say, it was applied with equal attention to detail. With one more sideways glance to me, she finally walked back to her table… slowly.

I was certain the bitch was fucking with me because I’ve seen this type of behavior before. My friend, The Dude, has often employed similar passive-aggressive tactics to piss people off in social situations where the other person felt compelled not to say anything. One time on our way back from a hunting trip, we stopped at a small party store somewhere in the sticks. I no sooner got one foot inside the door when the backwoods idiot working behind the counter shouted, “You talking to me?” I said, “No. I’m talking to my friend,” but this wasn’t enough to calm him down. His eyes, with their angry, confrontational, I’ll-kick-your-ass-right-here-and-now glare, never left me the entire time I was in the store.

And The Dude made sure we were in the store a good long while.

Seeing that the Backwoods was being a complete asshole, my friend purposely dawdled about to further annoy the asshole. Unsure of whether he wanted Funyuns or Doritos, he carefully read the ingredients on each package, counting both calories and sodium count. He was likewise as careful when choosing his soda and candy bar. By the time we got to the counter, Backwoods was a deep shade of red just shy of lobster and he was shaking as he tallied up our total. I thought he was going to jump across the counter on us but ironically, we walked out with our goods while his mighty stare of impotent rage followed us every step.

The difference between The Dude and Pokey McFiddlefuck is that he had a legitimate reason to pull that shit. Backwoods was a total asshole to me for no reason whatsoever; I believe Pokey did it just to be a bitch. I almost said something to her but held back because I didn’t want to ruin one of the precious few nights out with my wife. She looked like the type who would’ve talked shit back, ensuring that her husband got involved as well. He would no doubt take exception to me “frontin’” on his woman, which would have ultimately led to me knocking both of them the fuck out. And for what? Fifteen extra minutes at the salad bar? Some things really aren’t worth it.

I got back to the table and told my wife about it and she promptly pointed out that I can’t know with any degree of certainty that Pokey was doing it intentionally. Having two Autistic sons, she said that there is a good chance that woman could be Autistic as well – or have a similar condition – where precise order and patterns are a must. I conceded that she was right; I did not know that woman so there’s no way I could know with 100 percent certainty that there wasn’t an innocent and legitimate reason for her taking so long.

The pep talk from the Mrs. allowed me to put everything behind me and enjoy the rest of our evening. I even forgot about Pokey, completely losing track of where she and her husband were in the restaurant. I didn’t see her again until we were pulling out of the parking lot. She and her husband slowly walking toward their car… slowly. Right at the point of us driving past them, she looked up at me and smiled and it was the nastiest, most mean-spirited and mischievous smile I had ever seen.

I knew it. Fucking bitch!

SSPsharkII Anyone remember this awesome toy?

I’m taking a break from trauma and the personality disordered to bring you a lighter, whimsical tale of childhood memory: the Kenner Super Sonic Powered (SSP) Shark. It was one of many SSP Racers to come out in the 1970s, and it was a lean, mean, racing machine.

Basically, all SSP Racers had one large rubber wheel with a smaller wheel of teeth attached to it. To get the car to shoot across the floor, you inserted a toothed cord – I believe it was called a T-Stick? – then you gave it a pull, not unlike starting a small push-mower. Yanking on the T-stick got that wheel a spinning and you basically just set the car down and watched it zoom off at near-subsonic speed.

I’m guessing this particular model was made post-1975, shortly after the Jaws movie craze. The popularity of that film spawned a slew of shark-related toys, iron-on patches (remember those?), and games all marketed toward kids whose parents allowed them to see that awesome movie. Thing is, the shark on the SSP racer looks like it’s been crossed with a proboscis monkey, but I still thought this car was the shit back in the day.

Though I was never short on toys as a kid, I never had the SSP Shark. It’s not like my parents wouldn’t let me have one, either; it’s just that every time Xmas rolled around, I always wanted something else more than I wanted the Shark. By the time I thought to ask for one, the 80s were in full swing and video games, role-playing games, and kung fu movies were more my focus. C’est la vie!

Now, with the halcyon days of my youth behind me, I sometimes think about those amazing things from my childhood. Perhaps one of these days, I might go cruising eBay in hopes of one day finding a “for sale” sign hanging above a bright yellow Kenner SSP Shark. It might be too tempting to not put in a bid. SSPshark

Ever have an SSP racer? Or any other awesome toy from the 70s? Share your Generation X toy memories here!

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.


Last night, I put up a post about what I believe are the secondary traits of the personality disordered. In it, I identified five traits that were shared amongst people who’ve passed in and out of my life and whom I suspected of being a sociopath, two narcissists, and one with borderline personality disorder. Tonight I’d like to apply those five traits to someone from my past with whom I had a brief but tumultuous business relationship.

First, let’s meet the suspected PD. I call him Mr. FanTAStic with an emphasis on the middle syllable just the way he said it. It was his favorite term to describe his abilities as a musician and to his credit, he was quite good. The problem was, he knew it and the knowledge made him an unbearable asshole. From the minute he walked into a room, the dark cloud of his demeanor descended, coloring everything in its rotten hue. Still, he was a good musician and we needed a fourth member, so the guys and I agreed to let him into the band on one condition: he was told up front that he was a new member to an existing band that was led by me. He would have to be okay with this arrangement, which he said he was. His actions, however, suggested otherwise.

Stage One
As to the secondary traits of the PD, the first one I identified is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” How it works is the PD automatically assumes that he/she is the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In the case of Mr. FanTAStic, his Assumption of Authority was a lot like the disease of cancer in that it was a silent killer – I never actually heard him make this assumption, which is often the case for those like him. I would only come to find out later that this was his mindset when he began to engage in the second of the five secondary traits of the PD.

Stage Two
Once Mr. FanTAStic assumed his authority over me, he started to engage in the trait of Assertion of Authority. This was initially done through his many haughty gestures and attitudes he would affect both at band practices and live gigs. From there, he began verbally asserting his authority in small ways at first. The first way he did this was by strongly suggesting we hold band practices at his house. Since he was a new member in a well-established band of friends, such a request might seem odd, especially since the band had been practicing at my place for more than two years. I considered his request a means of placing the band in his sphere of power and control and I quickly nixed the idea, the other members agreeing that we should just continue practicing where we always have.

The Assertion of Authority trait always starts out small but it quickly begins a pattern of escalation. Such was the case with Mr. FanTAStic. One time, he began grilling me about what equipment would be used for the recording of our CD, with particular interest being placed upon what type of guitar and amp combination I would be using. He made it clear that he didn’t like the sound of the gear I was using and forcefully informed me, “You’re going to need to get a new guitar.” After uttering his demand, he defiantly stared at me with cold blue eyes as if he was daring me to contradict him. I didn’t have a chance to answer him since another member of the band quickly asked me a question, thus diverting my attention from Mr. FanTAStic. Although I switched gears and conversations, I never forgot how off-putting the boldness of Mr. FanTAStic’s statement was that day.

Having poked and prodded my defenses with a series of small but escalating assertions, Mr. FanTAStic finally worked up the courage to go for broke. One night he asked me to meet him at the bar to “discuss a few things” and I already had a feeling this was not going to be a pleasant meeting. Apparently during a previous gig, I committed he unforgiveable act of skipping ahead one song on the set list. It was at an outdoor gig in the blistering summer sun, and sweat had gotten into my eyes, causing me to accidently calling out the wrong song.

Apparently, this was the gravest of personal disrespects to him and he made it his duty to scold me for it as if I were a child. Sitting there in the bar, listening to this asshole berate me for a simple mistake filled me with the urge to smash his fat head with my beer mug and keep hitting and stomping him until he was down and out for good. Fortunately for him, I chose to be diplomatic and at least hear him out. I regret it to this day.

Stage Three
My experiences with Mr. FanTAStic up to that point had exposed the third of the secondary traits of the PD: their Social/Moral Blind Spot. In very basic terms, this means the PD sincerely believes that he/she can do and say anything they want, no matter how rude, and the people in their life must accept it without retaliation. My FanTAStic friend seemed to believe in this doctrine so far as he and his interests were concerned… and he was interested in my band. More to the point, he had now considered it his band, and since the other guys still considered me the leader, he was going to do all he could to run me out of “his” band. Admittedly, I should have said something early on to put his ass in check but I didn’t, and my silence only encouraged his ever-escalating behavior.

Stage Four
It’s my belief that PDs display something I call “Singularity of Boundaries” in which they demand their boundaries be respected while they refuse to recognize anyone else’s. After discussing “the great stage incident,” Mr. FanTAStic began over-asserting his boundaries in all things band related and it became quite clear that the only possible outcome to any situation was going to be what he and he alone was comfortable with. In doing so, he heavily implemented the fifth of the secondary PD traits: Force Majeure. It’s a French word that means “superior force” and Mr. FanTAStic wielded this weapon with the skill of a master samurai.

So what was Mr. FanTAStic’s superior force? His membership in the band, and he would threaten to withdraw it any time things didn’t go his way, which is to say every time. For example, a couple of us came up with a marketing concept to draw more people to our shows and FanTAStic threatened to quit on the grounds that marketing and promoting the band was “selling out,” and he wasn’t going to do that. We capitulated to his demands under the false belief that without him, we wouldn’t have a band, and this set the pattern for how all things were decided from that day forward. It didn’t take long for this cycle to grind the band to a halt and we lost many prime, good-paying gigs because of it.

Stage Five
They have a name for a band that doesn’t play any gigs and it’s called “basement-playing drinking buddies.” Sadly, that’s what our once-popular band had become after Mr. FanTAStic began asserting his perceived authority. Feeling extremely frustrated at our complete lack of momentum, I made the snap decision to exert a little of my own Force Majeure. It happened one day at practice when FanTAStic came strolling in and started verbally disrespecting me. I don’t remember exactly what it was he said, all I remember is exploding upon him with all the rage I had pent up since the first of his Assertions of Authority. As the other guys were showing up, I was screaming and yelling at FanTAStic as he scrambled to get his gear together and get to his car. I followed him outside, getting in his face once more and challenging him to “do something.” Well, he did something, all right: his eyes filled with tears, his jaw trembled, and he began to stuttered like the quivering coward he really was.

To state the obvious, Mr. FanTAStic’s tenure in the band was over… unfortunately, so was the band.

While I did a good job of calling him out on his synthetic courage and exposing him for the fraud that he was, he ended up having the last laugh on me. You see, the other guys in the band were pacifists and vegetarians by nature, not the kind of chaps who understand the need for a good ol’ fashioned blood-and-guts war to take the edge off. They were mortified at my “atrocious behavior” and began to see Mr. FanTAStic as the poor, beleaguered victim of the ego monster that they believed I’d become. The put their writing on the wall and I could read it in its bright shade of cowardly piss-yellow; I decided to employ a little Force Majeure once more by disbanding the ailing and dysfunctional project. Our floundering and indecision made us the laughing stock of the music scene by that point anyway so it was time to stick a knife in it and call it dead.

I have many other instances where people in my life have displayed the five secondary traits of the personality disordered but I want to hear from you. If you can break down a similar experience using the secondary traits I described, just post your story right here in my comments section… but don’t use any real names. Even the guilty deserve to be protected to some degree.

I look forward to your responses!

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder… there are so many fucked up people out there and diagnosing them is typically a matter for the experts. That said, after dealing with one sociopath, a couple narcissists, and former lover with BPD, I’ve noticed certain patterns began to emerge between all of them. They’re what I call the Secondary Traits of the Personality Disordered (or PD for short).

Below you’ll find a list an explanation of what I consider to be the Secondary Traits of the PD. I’ve shared them here in hopes of helping you determine whether that charming yet difficult person in your life is just a garden variety asshole or someone harboring a deeper, much darker secret. If the person you know displays two or more of these traits, chances are you’re dealing with someone with a personality disorder or PD for short. Read on…

Assumption of Authority
PDs by their very nature are authoritarian people and much has already been written on this. What I’ll focus upon is something I call “Assumption of Authority.” Simply put, the personality disordered tend to automatically assume that they are the authority in your friendship/relationship/business arrangement with them. In their minds, the matter has already been decided – if you’re going to have a relationship with them, it’s going to be by their rules because according to them, that’s just the way it is.

Because of the damage done to them in the past, these people are fanatical in their belief that they must remain in control of everyone and everything in their lives; it’s the only way to think they can prevent themselves from being hurt.

Assertion of Authority
Once authority in their relationships is assumed, it must be asserted, hence the second of the PD’s secondary traits. It’s not enough that they believe they’re in control, it’s of primary importance to them that you know and recognize that they are in control. And the way that they assert their authority typically follows a rather insidious pattern that starts out with small statements and gestures – you need to do this, don’t do that – early in the game. Sadly, many people don’t understand these early warning signs.

All too often, the other person in the relationship often laughs off or explains away the PD’s Assertions of Authority. Ask yourself if this sounds familiar: “Oh, he didn’t mean it that way.” Or this: “You don’t know him/her like I do.” If not put in check, the PD becomes emboldened and quickly escalates his/her assertions of authority until they are too egregious to ignore, such as demanding people change their lifestyles, relationships, and beliefs to suit the PD. Having not put the PD in check during the early stages of assertion, the other person often finds it difficult to reason with the PD or escape the relationships once his/her Assertions are at full blast.

Social/Moral Blind Spot
Most of us operate under the assumption that it’s generally good to be polite to people we meet in our day-to-day lives in hopes being treated in a similar fashion. It’s a basic social contract of sorts that’s meant to prevent our world from becoming a chaotic free-for-all of rape, robbery, violence, and murder. Because of their Social/Moral Blind Spot, the personality-disordered have no concept of this unspoken agreement between people in a polite and civilized society. Instead, the PD believes that he/she is owed civil conduct from others while simultaneously not being constrained by the expectations of society themselves.

The Social/Moral Blind Spot is likely an extension of the PD’s Assumption/Assertion of Authority complexes, as the PD will often treat others harshly and with no regard to the consequences of this behavior. Worse yet, all efforts to discuss this behavior with them will fail due to the PD’s stubborn insistence that he/she is entitled and even obligated to behave this way for their own protection and advancement of their interests, etc.

Singularity of Boundaries
To the personality-disordered, their personal boundaries are sacrosanct and they will guard them with a vehemence that’s downright violent. In layman’s terms, you can’t ask about their lives, touch any of their belongings, accidentally brush up against them, or do anything else that they interpret as an intrusion into their personal space. Even a simple question such as, “Did you go to the gas station today?” could be considered an infringement and cause them to fly into a rage.

The biggest problem with this outlook is that it’s highly singular, meaning that the only boundaries that the PD respects and/or recognizes are their own. And as jealously as he/she will guard against those who trespass against them, they will equally trample over the boundaries, rights, and privacy of anyone unfortunate enough to be in their lives. Reading other people’s mail, listening to their phone calls, and searching through – and using – their personal belongings are all fair game to the PD.

Force Majeure
The French term meaning “superior force,” Force Majeure is the best way to describe how the PD goes about irrationally imposing his/her will onto others. If there’s one thing all these secondary traits have in common, it’s the sense of grandiosity that accompanies and fuels them. Doing onto others while simultaneously expecting them to treat you with kid gloves is absolutely unrealistic and perhaps, deep down inside, the PD realizes this. Sooner or later, friends/loved ones/business associates will begin to question the unrealistically selfish nature of the PD’s expectations and to the PD, this comes across as extremely confrontational.

The only possible way for the PD to maintain the irrational inequalities of their expectations is to enforce them with violence or the threat of violence. In personal relationships/friendships, this can often mean physical violence. i.e. Force Majeure or the greater force. The PD’s basic assertion is that because they believe themselves to be physically superior to their victims, this is enough for their victims to comply with the PD’s demands; right or wrong is of no consequence. In the case of business relationships, the PD’s expectations are often enforced via implied or threatened termination of employment/contract/business relationship, which is still considered Force Majeure.

In Conclusion…
As previously stated, there are several types of personality disorders, each with their own unique set of traits and ways in which these traits manifest themselves. To further complicate matters, many of these traits overlap each other, adding more confusion to exactly what might be afflicting your friend/family member/spouse/partner/etc. Further, while I’ve had experience with people I’ve suspected of having personality disorders, I’m by no means a licensed expert. If the secondary traits I’ve listed above describe someone you’re currently involved with, seek professional help and plan a safe and effective exit strategy.

One thing I can tell you – and this will be backed up by professionals in the field – the personality disordered person in your life WILL NOT change and WILL NOT get better. In fact, things will continue to get worse. I urge anyone currently enmeshed with a PD to seek the help they need as soon as possible.

Stay safe, good people.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

I might not be professional life coach but I play one on social media!

I give the best advice on Facebook. Seriously. Whenever a friend is feeling down, I’m the first one to offer scads of advice drawn from the deep and ever-plentiful well of my own misery. My friends are equally as helpful… even if it’s just the same old well-worn phrases such as “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or “You just gotta hang in there, J.P.” While I appreciate all this online love, it does have me believing we’re all as full of shit as everyone else.

With such a wealth of feel-good philosophers out there (myself included), why the hell are we so miserable? I swear to the gods, if I’m not posting some angry missive on Facebook or my blog, a simple scroll through my newsfeed will show that one of my friends is. You’d think with all the wit and wisdom we share, at least some of us would employ one or two of these great ideas when the shit hits the fan in our own lives. Is it because we know our advice is bullshit? Hmmmm…

Let’s face it, it’s easier to help someone else than it is to fix our own problems. It all has to do with a little something called “objectivity,” which is “a sense of impartiality or fairness.” One must be able to look at a problem objectively in order to solve it, which pretty rules out any idea of us being able to help ourselves. The only upside to this observation is that at least I’m aware of my helplessness. I wonder if any of my fellow social media psychologists are willing to admit their lack of objectivity in their own lives.

Another problem with online advice: few people are truly so altruistic that they’re just willing to offer of themselves for just the sake of helping others. If you believe this about other people, you’re a fool; if you believe it about yourself, you’re a liar. There is a variety of reasons why most people like to “help” others, but the big three are:

1. The “helper” gets off on having a reputation of being a “good person.”

2. It makes the “helper” feel superior to the other person.

3. The “helper” is earning the trust of the other in hopes of manipulating that person at a later date.

Number three is the most insidious of the bunch and subject to a blog post all its own. (It’s an interesting story in manipulation tactics and if you’d like to read it sometime, message me in the comments.) Riddle me this, all ye stalwart crusaders: Deep down, you know I’m right. Admitting it is the first step.

The worst thing about Internet do-gooders is the complete hypocrisy under which so many of us operate. Constantly immersing oneself into other people’s problems really only succeed in one thing: it allows us to willfully ignore our own unresolved issues, personal shortcomings, and character flaws. The more the “helper” tries to help others, the bigger the mess he/she is. Perhaps it’s time these Internet advice columnists (myself included) start looking into a mirror instead of our inboxes. Just saying…

Wow! I really unloaded here, didn’t I? It was all for a good cause though… ’cause I said so. (LOL) There’s a lot of this going around lately, yet everyone who I see giving advice (myself included) will be the same people who are griping about how life isn’t fair a few days later. I guess this only means one thing: unlike my wife, who is a successful advice blogger, I don’t have much of a future in doing the same on here.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

J.P. Ribner Used to be in a Punk Rock Band

When I used to play live music, I got A LOT of requests… but I would keep playing, anyway. (Ba-doom-tiss!) Here’s a new song about a phenomenon I’ve recently identified and it goes out to my good friend in Indiana. (You know who you are!)

Hognose Snake

Lyrics by J.P. Ribner

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Puffed up like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than you take
From that dirty rotten, no good, low-down, yellow-bellied snake

Chased down the dark path,
I turned and ran away
Fuel the fire in my ears a’burnin’
The liberties taken that day

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Puffed up like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that dirty rotten, no good, low-down, yellow-bellied snake

Spirit of Red Wolf came to me in a dream
Said that the snake ain’t all that he seems
You gotta give way more than you take
From that dirty rotten, no good, low-down, yellow-bellied snake

Apologies were accepted
Set the sword down in the glade
It’s been a score, maybe a few more
It’s time to reclaim that blade

Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Puffed up like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that dirty rotten, no good, lowdown…
Hognose Snake! Hognose Snake!
Puffed up like a cobra, but ya know he’s a fake
You have to give more than ya take
From that dirty rotten, no good, low-down, yellow-bellied snake