20 April 2021

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns

It Was Always a Privilege Spending Time with this Gentle Giant of a Man

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns
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.

Grieving the loss of my friend, Joseph Inns
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 passed away in 2017.

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 during our special 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. 

© Vernon Chalmers for Joseph Inns

Attached Butterfly Image: From the Joseph Inns Collection. Photographer: Joseph Inns (with one of his beloved Nikon cameras).

The Joseph Inns Story By His Wife Janice Inns Dignity SA

01 April 2021

From Darkness into Light...

'Being in the Moment' at Kirstenbosch Garden : A Tribute to my Special Friend, Joseph Inns 

From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers Strelitzia Flower - Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town
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 into 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 during this time was left with sad memories of a special person that unfortunatly consumed too 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).

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light...  Copyright Vernon Chalmers
From Darkness into Light... Butterfly : Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town
Personal Support
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.

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers
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.

From Therapeutic Journaling to Online Publishing

© Vernon Chalmers : Mental Health and Motivation (From Darkness into Light... at Kirstenbosch)

Image Information

Image 1: Strelitzia Flower Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 2: African Monarch Butterfly Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 3: Cape Robin-Chat Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Image 4: Pincushion Protea Flower Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Cape Town

Mental Health and Motivation : From Darkness into Light... Copyright Vernon Chalmers
From Darkness into Light... Pincushion Protea Flower : Kirstenbosch, Cape Town

Abusive and Violent Behaviour Against Me

Intimate Partner Abuse and Violence Information

Abusive and Violent Behaviour Against Me : Mental Health and Motivation

"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.

Restoring a Sense of Calm

© Vernon Chalmers : Mental Health and Motivation (Abusive and Violent Behaviour)

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