Special Tribute and Last Photography Experience with my Friend, Joseph Inns
“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” — Helen Keller
Last Photography Experience with Joseph Inns, who passed away in April 2021
This image was published by National Geographic after our first and unfortunatly only visit to photograph the inspirational architecture of the museum.
'I still miss you like crazy, big fellow....' Grieving the loss of my friendJoseph Inns
From National Geographic's Explore Epic South Africa:
Up the Silos at Zeitz MOCAA V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
“I spent some quality time with my friend / photographer, Joseph Inns, exploring the Zeitz MOCAA – Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. We visited most of the art exhibitions inside the museum, but will return at a later date for more detailed exhibition photography.” - VERNON CHALMERS
A vast, disused grain silo complex overlooking Cape Town’s historic, working harbor now holds the world’s largest museum for contemporary African art. Spread over nine floors, the Zeitz MOCAA has 80 galleries and a cathedral-like atrium, carved from the silo’s original storage tubes: an incredible transformation that honors the old, while giving center stage to the new.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
When we lose good people that were close to us the loss / pain is almost incomprehensible to self and in explanation to others.
I lost my mother in March 2017 and it took me quite some time to process and properly grieve this loss.
Today I cherish her life and am thankful for the legacy she left with her good values, gratitude and unconditional love.
The same can be said of my friend, Joseph Inns, who passed away in April 2021. A true giant among men...
The Mental Health and Motivation journaling has assisted me in many ways for coming to terms with the two significant personal losses I have experienced during 2020 / 2021 - my girlfriend at the time and my friend, Joseph. The second loss of Joseph was the most poignant. The writing and publication on this public domain also provided definite content, context and reference to my sense of self in dealing with the aftermath of the abusive and toxic relationship towards the end of 2020.
Late December 2019 I have had the privilege to be joined by both of them at Intaka Island - a popular nature reserve (for bird photographers) in Cape Town. This was one of the proudest moments of my entire life - introducing my girlfriend to my best friend at a venue where we all shared a common interest - nature photography. Little did I know that just over a year from our special morning that both these significant individuals would be lost from my physical life, forever. Coming to terms with the disappointment of this double loss and associated trauma drifted me, at times, into a whirlpool of emotions I have never experienced before.
When you lose someone (death or otherwise) that was severely compromised in the application of basic values, healthy emotions and expectations the 'wound' can take a long time to heal. If you lose somebody in love, in my opinion, the mourning and healing is a sad, but a 'healthy' grieving process.
Losing someone out of fear and disappointment (due to abuse, continuous emotional disconnect and / or trauma bond) the healing process could be riddled with post-relationship anxiety and stress.
There is no legacy, there is no 'statue' in the mind for emotional perpetrators. I had to learn new ways to deal with my thoughts and now I am grateful for letting someone go that I thought I would never forgive for the verbal, physical and psychological abuse incurred.
Although I was scared of her physical or verbal attacks on me, I was more fearful that I would lose her. My emotion on the attacks was of disasopigment and I believed that the situation would improve. A classic example how cognitive dissonance controlled my mind.
The essence of self-preservation were the months that I had to go into the darkness of my soul with no torch / no light to face myself, to learn more about the rawness of the dejected self - in honesty and fairness of who I was, want to be, will be, can / could be... without judgement, prejudice and / or fear.
From Fearful Loss to Acceptance
After completing my My Lessons / Achievements from an Abusive Relationship article I felt a great sense of closure and relief. The core of my true self, through time, introspection and learning, was being restored by facing up to the acceptance of a failed relationship that once consumed not only my mind, but every fibre of my rational and emotional being.
Acceptance is an essential realisation of being at peace with the true self - the same self that was once simultaneously immersed in the cognitive dissonance of loving and the fear of leaving someone that neither respected nor trusted my integrity, goodwill and / or values.
The authentic self should always emerge, if allowed... not in relation to others first, but to the self first. This does not mean I diminish the roles others play in my life, their roles are meaningful - when they are 'healthy' individuals."
“If you take control of your behavior, your emotions will fall into place.” ― John C Maxwell
How the loss of two significant people in my life had an adverse effect on my alcohol consumption and sense of self
I have always considered myself nothing more than a casual wine and occasional whisky drinker. Like so many of my generation I was introduced to alcohol soon after leaving school, during my military service and have enjoyed social drinking throughout my student / adult life.
As a post-graduate student I attended an Alcohol Addiction and Recovery 12-Step Programme at an Alcohol Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre in Cape Town. This was part of an Industrial Psychology module for identifying (and remedial management of) alcohol abuse in the workplace. Throughout this very informative week I was made well aware of the risks associated with alcohol overconsumption and / or abuse.
When my mother passed away in 2017 it was a huge shock to my emotional self, but thinking back to that sad period which lasted on / off for about 18 months, I consumed less alcohol in what I would normally do. A considerable part of this period was introspection in which I consumed no alcohol for weeks at a time. Alcohol consumption was probably limited to one bottle of wine per week (if that) - and the occasional whiskey with friends after work - probably once or twice a month.
My social drinking behaviour changed in 2019 after I met the woman I would have a ten month emotionally taxing relationship with. During this period we consumed substantial quantities of the best estate wines available on the local market. This was the first time in my life in which I would consume alcohol almost on a daily basis. We would cook together and go away weekends - always with a few bottles of red and white wine as part of the social routine. During the Covid lockdown Levels Five and Four we went through extraordinary efforts to source anything from wine, whiskey and / or gin. Throughout the relationship the alcohol consumption would average at two to three bottles of wine per night - not every night, but most nights.
Relationship Abuse and Withdrawal After about three to four months into this relationship I was unfortunatly subjected to physical, psychological and verbal abuse. This was not due to the effect of alcohol, but rather the antisocial result(s) of a destructive range of underlying grandiose and pathological behaviour traits. After about nine months I decided to physically withdraw from the relationship and ended up living in my studio apartment on my own. This became the most excruciating and saddest time of my life and I went into a stress / anxiety state I have never experienced before. I was sad and I was hurting - today I know I endured a variety of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms during this isolation period. I suffered severe anxiety, quilt, insomnia and constant flashbacks and I would withdrew myself further and further emotionally from the relationship and everybody else around me.
To cope with the incessant emotional darkness and PTSD symptoms I started drinking gin & tonic on most afternoons to somewhat numb this severe emptiness - and to help me fall asleep. I would wake up every morning at about 03:00 and start reading and by 09:00 would do whatever I needed to do with my stock market trading and the daily updating of my photography websites. I repeated this routine from August to December 2020. During January and February 2021 I stopped and would not drink for weeks at a time - quite aware of the potential problems that alcohol could cause.
I was still struggling with the breakdown of the relationship and the darkness inside and around me continued to consume my thoughts, my energy - basically everything in / around me was focused around the relationship - the loss of the most significant person in my life (at the time).
During April 2021 I was getting a handle on dealing with the relationship breakup. I started to accept the reality that the loss of the love of my life was permanent. My intense anxiety and stress subsided somewhat, although the cognitive dissonance, flashbacks and insomnia continued.
The Loss of my Friend, Joseph Inns My emotional state took a turn for the worse when one of my best friends, Joseph Inns, passed away on 19 April 2021 after suffering metastatic cancer for the last year and six months. I was aware of his illness all the time, but as the end became inevitably closer it made me just more emotional. After his passing and before / after his memorial service I started drinking even more alcohol for numbing my pain - for him and my failed relationship with my girlfriend.
It was not until late April 2021 that I woke up one morning and realised that I'm going to far with my drinking. I realised that the alcohol is making my anxiety worse and the worse it got the more I wanted to numb my double-pain with alcohol. I phoned my sister and gave her a brutally honest account of my emotional state and current drinking habits.
I quit drinking on that Tuesday and went through a period of about two weeks of mild to severe withdrawal symptoms. I never thought about the prolonged physical impact that the sudden alcohol abstinence would have on me. Nevertheless, I endured the alcohol withdrawal symptoms, was indeed more than anxious with the mild delirium tremens, but did not feel the need for anymore drinking (not even after a few weeks - and later a few months would go by) and bought a pair of running shoes. Not for running, but to get in a healthier lifestyle of no alcohol and walking a few kilometres every day.
Learning Through Relationships During this difficult period in my life I learned to separate my two major 2020 / 2021 losses. I walked away from an abusive relationship and had to manage the void, disappointment and cognitive dissonance the loss of the relationship created in my mind. I now mourn the loss of my good friend, Joseph, the same way I mourned the loss of my mother. He was a good man with good values and with the acceptance of his loss I now have finally engaged, as with my mother, in a substantially healthier grieving process.
Since September 2020 I have received tremendous support from quite a diverse group of people in Cape Town and abroad. Many of them have been in my life for years, but a few others came from almost nowhere with insight and wisdom. I respected and learned from everybody's advice and recommendations. I owe all of them mountains of gratitude. Thank you!
I am currently doing a lot of research, soul searching, writing and walking to help me understand (abusive) relationship loss, trauma and substance abuse - and the impact that these two significant personal losses had on my life. I realized that alcohol overconsumption is never the answer for overcoming the emotional darkness of the soul.
Overcoming Abuse and Trauma For assistance with a deeper understanding on overcoming these psychological obstacles I've researched the consequences of alcohol abuse and the impact of trauma after an abusive relationship. I have found the 'Compassionate Inquiry' work of Dr. Gabor Maté - renown international addiction and trauma expert - for his psychotherapeutic approach towards the understanding of trauma and addiction, extremely helpful. Dr. Maté's books and YouTube videos have had a tremendous positive impact on my current situation, my alcohol consumption scare and dealing with the loss of two significant people in my life.
Small lifestyle changes of regular exercise, a healthier diet and a reduced alcohol consumption are having a beneficial impact on my mental and physical health. I have established new daily routines with set priorities towards my business, photography, mental health and fitness goals.
Some of my latest photography at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: View here, here and here.
In Memory of a Very Special Friend, Artist and Photographer
African Art & Textile Images for Joseph Inns
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller
Bay Harbour Market - Hout Bay Harbour Cape Town
On Wednesday morning (28 April 2021) Karen Donaldson and I – both friends of the late Joseph Inns, went to Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town, along the Atlantic Seaboard, to reminisce and grieve our relationship with our very special friend.
I’ve captured many images of Hout Bay Harbour before, with its 'picture-perfect' fishing boats, fresh fish for sale, impressive flotilla of yachts and glorious surrounding mountains. But for Joseph, I wanted something different.
For this post I selected four vibrant colour images from the Bay Harbour Market (African Art and Textiles) - for my friend that will best represent his love for Africa, Art, Colour and Simplicity. That they were all captured from the exquisite craftmanship from African artists and crafters next to the blue waters of the Cape Peninsula coast made it that more special for me.
Joseph taught me to see the light, he taught me composition, but above all, he taught me patience… with respect and sincere gratitude.
Although he was a more experienced photographer (as lecturer and professional) he never wilfully tried to teach me anything specific about photography and / or composition. He respected my technical camera / exposure knowledge, but always patiently listened to my many, many questions and answered each with confidence, insight, experience and example - with the wisdom of a true master and teacher.
All four Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town Artist and Crafter images are dedicated to our very special friend, Joseph Inns.
Photographed and published on the Mental Health and Motivation website with permission from the Hout Bay Harbour, Cape Town Artists and Crafters.
It Was Always a Privilege Spending Time with this Gentle Giant of a Man
Butterfly Image Copyright : Joseph Inns
"You meet people who forget you. You forget people you meet. But sometimes you meet those people you can't forget. Those are your friends." – Mark Twain
Yesterday, Monday, 19 April 2021, at 00.06, one of my best friends, Joseph Inns, passed away after suffering metastatic cancer for more than the last year and six months.
He phoned me on Valentine’s Day 2020 in Cape Town to convey the tragic news. I cried, I’m still crying after the loss of this giant of a man. He was the most peaceful person in my life and I believe, in many people’s lives.
I’ve known him for 28 years – as lecturers – as business partners – as photographers – as friends – together we dreamed of conquering our world(s) – and we did!
In many ways he was my inspiration into photography. I believed in his passion, his image making and above all, his endless patience.
Today I’m sad, very sad, but it’s a 'positive' sadness. He is / was a very good man with exemplary values of kindness and gratitude.
He left a legacy to many - he left me a better person than ever before. Like many; his family, all his students, other photographers in his life and I (and so many others) will mourn his loss – and I will build a big statute for the big man here right inside of me.
The Life of Joseph Inns : Image Credit: Joseph Inns family
As for me – Joseph will never be gone – he will keep living in a very special place throughout my existence as a person.
We will never forget you, Joseph.
Rest in Peace, Big Fellow.
As I recently replied to his wife, Janice Inns, on the Joseph Inns Memorial invitation "I just cannot believe it when I look at the memorial invitation - its unreal. I am so sad, its the same sadness as when my mom died.
I miss Joseph - just the emotional connectedness we had. And can just about imagine how you and the family must feel. Mike also messaged me on Monday. But, be proud, he was the best of the best. I learned a lot from him. He calmed me down in ways nobody else could."
The Life of Joseph Inns - Memorial Service 26 April 2021 10:00. I wrote this to my friend in France on 26 April 2021 - after the memorial Service. (she's been going through the motions with me for months of Joseph's illness) "I listened carefully to every word spoken about my friend at his service and the words that came out from all the speakers were Compassion / Care / Non-Judgmental / Artist / Creative / Love / Peace - all exemplary value words. He was all of this - and more. He did not try and be this, he was this - every time I saw him - for 28 years in our friendship."
I forwarded above message to Joseph's wife - Janice, as well.
It was a beautiful tribute for Joseph at the Bloemhof Restaurant in Bo Oakdale, Cape Town and many people presented their love, feelings and celebrations for the Life of Joseph Inns. I re-connected with many of our old-time colleaques and friends during this informal service. Due to COVID there were not many people there, but of those there, Joseph touched us all in a very special way.
"For any man who is being emotionally, physically, verbally and / or sexually abused by a woman (in any intimate relationship) it is not a shame, but rather the disrespect and violation of the man's body, character, integrity and values. Never retaliate with force, but rather end the relationship as soon as possible. Physical assault (even) by a significant other is a criminal offence - treat it as such! I wish I did at the time." — Vernon Chalmers
Continuous Verbal Abuse
Characteristics of Abusive Behaviour
When the first verbal and physical threats occurred about four months into the relationship I was overwhelmed with my ex-girlfriend's threatening and aggressive behaviour towards me.
I was oblivious to the fact that she was capable of this aggressive behaviour (although at that stage I was well aware of her at-times callous and self-centred nature). I was therefore quite shocked and visibly shaken when threatened with a knife one evening - with the words to literally kill me, followed up by some nasty and belittling name-calling.
Checkmate: be careful what you wish for...
All of this happened because I won her in a couple of chess games one evening. It was the first time we played chess together. She was nagging me for weeks to play, but I was reluctant because I haven't played for the last 30 years (and according to her she claimed to be a very good chess player). Nevertheless, we played one evening and lo and behold I won the first two games, she won the third game and I won another one or two games. Immediately after this she became angry at me and when trying to calm her down (and touched her on the sides of her arms) all hell broke loose - she started shouting and raging at me - threatened me with her chef's knife. Followed by a barrage of verbal abuse of utter disrespectful name calling, but I did not retaliate and waited for her to calm down.
I was in an absolute daze. It took me a few days to process her aggressive action. I knew I was treading in potentially dangerous (pathological) behaviour territory as far as her explosive rage was concerned, but decided to stay. I did not receive an apology and when I tried to discuss this unfortunate incident with her there was absolutely no conversation, just a blank stare and an agony of silence. I parked her unacceptable behaviour in the 'back of my mind' for the time being and we carried on with our lives.
Physical assault Late one evening, a few weeks later, I was physically attacked by her. I was punched, my clothes ripped off my body and I was screamed and shouted at. I went into a state of shock, did not retaliate and told her that it would be best for me to leave. She said nothing, just grabbed all her house keys (there was no way for me to get out) and locked herself inside the bedroom. Again, I did not retaliate, I calmed myself down and planned an exit strategy. A couple of minutes later she returned from the bedroom and I said to her that it would be best for me to go home. I had a few things in her bedroom that I wanted to collect and as I was picking up my camera bag, I was intentionally and forcefully hit over the head, from behind, with quite a large chocolate Easter bunny. It scattered in hundreds of little bits all over the floor - I was dumbstruck and confused by her senseless explosive anger. I realised then there is no way that I will be able to leave and waited for her to calm down - which she eventually did.
All of this happened because I switched the television of while she was apparently watching. Well, she wasn't watching, she came out of the shower and I was also ready to go to bed. As I was switching the television off she entered the living room and then it was when all hell broke lose again. I knew she was edgy during the evening, but had no idea what was about to happen later.
Ongoing verbal abuse In trying to discuss this the next day, or any day thereafter, I received no discussion or apology from her - just the blank stare again. I knew that the relationship was in a danger zone (at least from my perspective), but still decided to stay. I stayed another three months. During this time we had some good times, but this was also the time that the verbal abuse (mainly over the telephone) would escalate to a weekly episode - generally on a Thursday or a Friday.
The physical and continued verbal abuse combined with her ever increasing lack of gratitude, and low levels of empathy / remorse made me not to return to her, but stay in my own apartment for a couple of weeks. This is where I struggled the most with understanding my situation - I was in love with an intelligent and smart woman, but she would frequently engage in uncontrolled anger episodes towards me which can only be described as an uncontrollable narcissistic rage when her needs and / or unrealistic expectations were not met / or when she experienced setbacks and disappointments.
Identifying the disorderly behaviour
Being on my own, at times, I tried understand her behaviour, my responsibility in potentially triggering this antisocial behaviour and the future of this relationship. As I started researching and identifying many of her inappropriate (and unprovoked) behaviours toward me I realised that this is a common behavioural theme with many people associated with (or diagnosed with) a Cluster B personality disorder i.e. borderline personality disorder (BPD), narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), histrionic personality (HPD) disorder and / antisocial personality disorder (ASPD). I could unfortunately identify many traits and red flags across the Cluster B personality / mood disorder spectrum. Note: these are my own assumptions / interpretations and I believe each situation (and person) will have his or her reasons for executing these alarming and gratuitous behaviour traits / patterns.
I also realised that although I loved this woman there is no way I could continue a relationship with her. I started examining my sense of sadness and confronting the darkness of my mild Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms manifesting through continuous anxiety, fear, hypervigilance, insomnia and guilt.
My family and friends also requested me to stay away from her. I went completely No Contact in September 2020 and still maintain this today. I'm slowly coming to terms with all of this. The FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) is lifting, my cognitive dissonance is slowly dissipating and the majority of my PTSD symptoms are making way for a healthier lifestyle through increased motivation, creative activities and physical fitness.
'Being in the Moment' at Kirstenbosch Garden : A Tribute to my Special Friend, Joseph Inns
Strelitzia Flower - Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town
“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” – Og Mandino
At Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town (for turning sadness in comfort and inspirational moments - for being in the moment)
It was with eager anticipation that I prepared my camera bag for an early morning photography session at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. I have not been there in more than a year - and at the time was left with sad memories of a special person that unfortunatly consumed to much of my life.
On this glorious and fresh sunny Friday morning I went back to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden with one of my photography club friends, Karen Donaldson, (a dear friend of mine for many years and also a friend of my best friend, Joseph Inns, who is now very ill - I've never been to Kirstenbosch with either of them).
I had one of the very best mornings ever at Kirstenbosch, free to roam the gardens and to think about love, life and to share the crispness of the beautiful morning with a real friend.
Love and Fear
In "Conversations with God", Neale Walsch wrote something to this effect, what God said - "When you meet your biggest Love, you will meet your biggest Fear". I grappled with this for months. I became Fear.... and this was so profoundly true - in every breath I took. It took me months and months of working through personal conditioning efforts to understand / unpack this Fear. - it was a case of my own cognitive awareness of trying to recondition my brain for overcoming this Fear (and the lingering sadness).
From Darkness into Light... Butterfly : Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town
I've had the greatest support over the last 6 - 8 months to get my mojo as photographer and person back. It will be unfair to identify any individual in my healing, but you know who you are.
Some of of you I unfriended from Facebook, because any reminders of her which was hurting me to the core, was just to challenging at times. I will never forget you, your words, your wisdom, to carry me back into the true light of life and photography.
From Darkness into Light... Small Bird : Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town
Update: 25 August 2021 Its been a year since I walked away and removed myself from this abusive and toxic relationship. I have certainly gained a fair amount of (relationship) behavioural knowledge and understanding during this soul-searching journey. It will still require some processing to finally let this relationship slide completely into the past.
The flashbacks and feeling of disappointment still lingers, but I have to steer the course towards a life without reminding myself of the constant misery and sadness that consumed my being.
Returning to Kirstenbosch
I have been back to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden quite a few times for small bird and flower photography since writing this post earlier in 2021. It is definably becoming easier to go back. I have had some wonderful photography mornings there - images can be viewed here, here and here.
A Personal Choice : Taking Responsibility and Decision-Making
“Personal responsibility takes rejecting the pain and hurt we learned as children and deciding to create a new legacy of success, kindness, and love.” ― Charles F Glassman
My response to a Facebook Statement of Relationship between Choices and Origin (of Responsibility and Decision-Making)
Our past - especially our development as a child, will have an impact on our emotional development / decision-making (or the lack thereof). Someone with a diagnosed personality disorder i.e. Borderline Personality Disorder / or any other (mood) disorder on the Cluster B Personality Disorder spectrum - as per DSM-5™ criteria and diagnosis (Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder will be impacted on choices he / or she will make especially in relation to other people (in close and or family relationships) - due to unresolved childhood trauma / neglect.
Therefore, an underdeveloped sense of self could lead to (severe) impaired emotions and decision-making. People with Cluster B Disorders generally lack emotional intelligence, have an incoherent sense of identity, low level of empathy towards others and could succumb to irrational personal relationship decision-making (due to these identity deficiencies - as a distorted reference to sense of self).
Even people with addictions (as a choice / decision - that could impact decisions in close relationships with other people) could be traced back to childhood psychological, sexual and verbal abuse, trauma and / or neglect. Parents / care givers play a vital role in the emotional development of the child - if there was i.e. love, care, gratitude, respect and peace in the family environment the child (and adult later) should have a more coherent and healthy approach in his / her future relationships (and mindful emotional state / decision-making) - in the absence of love, care, gratitude and peace, the child (and later adult) could be severely impaired with regard to i.e. no empathy towards others, ingratitude, poor decision-making, lack of remorse and diminished sense of self.
It does not mean someone with impaired decision-making should be excused - it means that the 'normal' individual in relation to them should be mindful that there are indeed real reasons why impaired decision-makers make their 'as is' decisions without rational conscience, responsibility and or perpetual lack of gratitude / remorse. You may find these individuals make (important) important decisions out of anger, anxiety, lack of confidence, sarcasm and / or identity deficiency - as projection for shielding a weak sense of self.