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Dec 082014



Throughout my life I have had mentors at various times. Sometimes they have been life long mentors, other times they have been in my life for only a short time, but they have left something permanent in my life that has helped me become who I am today.

At the time they were supporting or teaching me, I haven’t  always appreciated how much these people taught or supported me.  Sometimes this has only been appreciated in retrospect, even years after the fact.

As we age, or move on in our lives, sometimes we lose contact with these mentors, but we don’t forget them, and sometimes they are older than us and pass on, leaving us to remember and miss them. Today I received an e mail from the personal assistant of one of my mentors from the mid-1960s when I first met him in Africa.  I was there working for my biological father (a full-on psychopath) filming wild life for a TV series. The man was Dr. Ian Player, who died November 30th, 2014.

Ian’s obituary doesn’t even begin to tell what a remarkable man he was.

Ian Player, conservationist.
Born: 15 March, 1927, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Died: 30 November, 2014, Karkloof, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, aged 87.
It was my own privilege to walk with Player in the South African wilderness among lion, rhino and hyena and talk with him for hours and hours in the tree-enveloped Zululand farmhouse where he spent his final years.
Ian leaves a great raft of extraordinary achievements to his name, but he will be memorialised above all for his derring-do endeavours in saving the white rhinoceros, whose numbers were once down to fewer than 50, from extinction.
Today, thanks to Player, there are more than 20,000 white rhinos in the wild throughout central and southern Africa – so many that they are now being poached in South Africa alone at a rate of more than one thousand animals a year, their horns being smuggled out by ruthless mafia-style gangs through foreign embassies to feed the modern craze for powdered horn in China and Vietnam.
For the full obituary, click here:

I met Ian in 1966 in Hluhluwe National park in South Africa, when I was an adolescent , and he a game ranger, working to save the white Rhino. Ian had a huge library on the history of South Africa and the game  animals and I spent many many hours reading books about the country and it’s people, both black and white. I spent many more hours with him darting and capturing various wild life as we filmed these adventures.

I left Africa and came back to the US and for decades I didn’t have any more contact with Ian, but then due to the internet and e mail I got back into contact with this man and he again  became a wonderful mentor to me over the last 20 years of his life. We discussed many things about my trip to Africa that I had wondered about, and about my biological father and some of his psychopathic dealings both with Ian and with the government of South Africa in another trip Arthur  made that I was not on. I had wondered about these things, and though until Ian and I became more intimate he didn’t want to discuss these things with me, but he eventually did reveal them to me. I gained more and more respect for this remarkable man. While I was there in the 1960s  I had heard stories of his bravery and courage from the other rangers there who were in awe of this man. These were the men who had worked hand in hand with him for years and years.

Ian’s willingness to share with me the information I wanted helped me to finally come to some closure about the events in Africa both when I was there and after I came back to the US.

In his autobiography my biological father had damned both Ian and myself for hundreds of pages. I realized after I had heard the real story from Ian about his last interaction with my psychopathic father just why he would hate Ian so very much. Ian had stood up to him when they were in a literal “Mexican Stand-off” and the psychopath could not stand to have someone call him out…”Shoot, Luke or put your gun down.” Arthur (the psychopath) was in a dire financial and political position and he threatened Ian with death if he didn’t bail him out (illegally) and Ian stood up to him and said “Go ahead and kill me, but I will not do what you are demanding.” Arthur backed down. Not long after that the South African  government confiscated everything Arthur owned and threw him and his group out of the country.

Arthur hated Ian after that because he stood up to him. He hated me because he knew I was not afraid of him any more and had escaped him after he raped me. He was always afraid someone in his extended family or the public would believe me about the rape.

Other mentors

During the time of my beloved step-father’s illness and death, and the time we spent together as I cared for him for the last 18 months of his life, I realized just how much he had loved me and mentored me as a child, and I fully came to appreciate just how much, though at the time I didn’t always appreciate it for what it was, a deep love.

Other mentors in my life have had profound  effects on my healing from the devastation of the psychopaths in my life. A minister, Charles Moncrief, who was a volunteer minister in the prison in Texas and knew Patrick (or thought he did anyway) comforted me after the death of my husband in the plane crash 10 years ago, and during the time I was in hiding, was there for me by e mail and telephone and helped in my spiritual awakening during the most difficult time in my life. Charles writes and preaches non-violence for domestic violence victims.

The list could go on and on of the people who have “been there” for me to support and/or guide me, including my therapists and many friends. There are also  those I have met on the internet, and never set eyes on their faces,  yet who have also mentored me and supported and taught me…many of them post here. Many of them have shared their own stories of abuse and recovery.

I have tried to return the support and mentoring to those who are also suffering from the effects of violence and abuse at the hands of abusers and offenders (convicted or not) but I have found in the process of reaching out a hand to others, that those others have provided me with just as much support or more than I have given to them.

When two one-legged men put their arms around each other they can both stand. If you have had mentors, then mentor others. You will both profit from the exchange.


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  5 Responses to “THE MENTORS IN OUR LIVES”

  1. Article up

  2. Joyce, what a phenomenally positive and empowering article.

    I’ve lost contact with most of my mentors, but I recently had the opportunity to write to one that I had in high school. He was brand new to teaching, and I was one of “those students” that tried the patience of every teacher and was, in general, a disruptive component. But, this teacher was able to see beyond my behaviors and encouraged me to embrace my creativity, and he also encouraged all of his students to think outside of the proverbial box. This was during a time when such a notion was rather controversial, and he managed to raise a number of eyebrows amongst the administration.

    I let this teacher know that he had touched my life and that I never, ever forgot the things that I had learned from him. I also apologized for having strained his patience to such a degree. But, the main thing that I wanted this priceless human being to know was that he was, and will forever be, appreciated.

    Mentors are one of those things for which I am truly grateful, and this article is one of those that comes “on time” to share an important and positive message to contemplate. Thank you for sharing a fraction of your experiences with Dr. Player, AND the importance of accepting mentoring, as well as providing it. Excellent article, and I am very sorry for your loss.

  3. Truthy, though I actually havent laid eyes on Ian since we left Africa in the mid 1960s, his death, though at an advanced age, has made me very sad. Ian was both one of the kindest men and the bravest men I have ever known. His lovely wife Ann was also so kind and sweet to me.

    After his two books came out, one about saving the Rhino and the other about his relationship with the black man in the photograph, (they were best friends and the black man was Ian’s mentor) was when I got back into contact with him. The books not only taught me a lot about Ian and the parks we filmed in but about courage. It isn’t being afraid, it is being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.

    I too had teachers who were mentors, encouraging me to do my best. And my step dad was a teacher all my growing up years and a coach. He was also a GREAT mentor to the under priviledged back woods kids he taught in the Ozark mountains. In fact, in his terminal illness he still got calls from some of his students from 60+ years ago. “How’s coach? How’s coach today?” Some kids from families who never had a member graduate from high school, with his mentoring went on to college and professional careers.

    Those men calling (many of whom were not much younger than he was) made me realize just how beloved he was among his students. Made me realize what a profound effect he had had on their lives.

    I wish I could like you, go back and tell some of my mentors how much I appreciated what they had done for me…I did tell Ian long before he died. In fact, he asked me to mentor a woman who is the daughter of a very famous and “beloved” psychopath. To help her to come to grips in her middle age with her cruel father. (who was long dead) I kept up an e mail relationship with this woman for almost a decade, and I do think I helped her to cope. Her father publicly was considered a “saint” but in practice he was the reverse of a saint. The woman’s cog/dis was tremendous. (like many of us when the abuser is someone we love)

    Since I can’t go back and thank the many many wonderful people who have mentored me as most are out of reach or have passed away, I can thank them in my heart and be grateful for these “angels” I have entertained unawares” as the Bible says.

  4. Joyce,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. Still, what a privilege to have known Mr. Player and to have the opportunity to pass on his wisdom.

    Your sperm donor may have gotten away with slandering many people but he outed himself when he tried to slander someone as authentic and as well known as Mr. Player. A spath’s envy has no bounds.

    I try to learn from everyone I meet, including spaths. Everyone has a story even if the only thing they teach us is how NOT to be. The best part of learning from others though, is when an authentic friendship develops in the process. That’s not something that you can get from just anyone. 🙂

  5. Thank you Sky, I did so wish I could have gone back to visit him before he passed, but it was not to be. He is stilll in my heart though. And his kindness to a confused and abused teenager back then, and his kindness to me as an adult.

    Yes, we can learn from anyone and also I have found that if you TEACH something you learn it better than the people you are teaching. Teaching anything from math to about psychopaths and abuse helps YOU to gain insight into the subject.

    Sitting down and going over in my head about the OTHER mentors in my life made me appreciate what they had taught me and I realized consciously just how MANY mentors I have had in my life. Many are passed away now, but they still live as long as someone remembers them. I didn’t fully appreciate most of them AT THE TIME but have now grown to see just how much they gave to me. The ones who were nurturing did it out of love and concern, and those who did it by their example of evil…I learned from them all.

    I can’t actually say that I am “glad” I had the painful experiences I have had, BUT, that said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” The trials and tribulations that we have in our lives make us stronger. It is like lifting weights makes your body stronger, surviving trials makes us stronger in our lives.

    I think about some people I have known who NEVER had to face anything worse than a paper cut and if something bad comes up, they FOLD and go into a spin cycle they never recover from. I think too many parents don’t let their children learn to grieve and recover. If the kid’s dog dies, they don’t give the child time to resolve the grief, the parents run out and get the kid another dog the next day. The parents think they are “saving”the child from pain, well…I think that they are keeping their child from learning and when that child has a problem worse than a dog that dies, they fold up.

    I see too many people who have had a bad relationship with someone that hurt them, abused them, and the first thing they do instead of grieving is to run out and find a new relationship before they have adequately grieved the loss. I know that I did just that very thing after my husband died. I felt so “old, fat, ugly, and undesirable” that when the first psychopath came along who love bombed me I FELL head over heels for him, and then when he became obviously a cheat and liar and a drunk, I was devastated AGAIN. It took me several years to properly mourn my late husband AND the P-BF as well. But now I am older, fatter and in spite of that I am OK without a man in my life as a SO relationship. But I had to properly grieve the loss of my husband and I eventually did and came to acceptance and peace with that loss. I can think about him now and not feel sad, I can laugh at the things we used to do and enjoy them in my heart. With the P-ex BF I no longer hate him or wish him ill, I have reached the nirvana of indifference to him.

    Until after ARthur’s death, for decades, I had not properly grieved the loss of my illusions about my “father” and his cruelty. I had expected to feel X when he died, but actually, it brought me to closure and I’ve reached the nirvana of indifference to him as well. I KNOW what he was and Ian knew what he was, and Ian validated my feelings about Arthur, which helped very much for me to reach that closure. My late husband also knew Arthur and he validated my feelings about Art. That’s the thing, I NEEDED that validation to come to closure.

    I think that we (survivors) help each other by validation of our experiences. However, I also realize that the “need” for external validation is not enough–we must eventually come to the point that we can VALIDATE our own judgment about a person. That SELF validation is what comes as we heal and gain confidence in our own ability to set boundaries and enforce them and NOT REQUIRE that external validation. I am STARTING to reach that point. I also see others here on this blog who are getting to the point too. Truthy’s recognition of her “friends” soul sucking, and her emotional abuse of Truthy, is an example of that very thing.

    Also, as we reach that point of self validation (and I think it is also a process not a destination) when we DO recognize that a relationship or person is toxic, when we cut them out of our lives or back off from the relationship it doesn’t hurt as much as that recognition did as we were trying to “fix” every relationship. We just say “Oops, that relationship is not what I want” and we back off without a great deal of pain.

    The mentors we have had that have validated us when we were unable to validate ourselves are important to us in those early stages of the healing process. I am grateful to Ian for that validation, and I’m grateful to Arthur’s cousins who have totally validated me and discarded him. They embraced me as part of the family and that was important.

    And yes, Sky, we do make some great friends as we support and validate each other. It starts out as two wounded souls, but becomes something more as we see the healing in each other.

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