Of course, Alex’s post yesterday was a disappointment to me. His announcement hardens intention. But given my philosophy, there is little for me do do but to accept his plan to leave and support it to the best of my ability.

Readiness refers to how likely a person is to seek out knowledge and participate in behavior change, and Alex is clearly not ready for what this place—and I—have to teach him. In the three months that he has been here, Alex has never explored the property nor (to the best of my knowledge) left the vicinity of the house except to pay a visit to the neighbors’. Whereas we spoke frequently upon his arrival, this ceased around the time that he began to spend hours of time on the phone each day and night with a young girl who has become his exclusive counsel.

Individuals go through various stages in order to adopt or maintain new behaviors. According to a website I consulted, in the pre-contemplative stage, the person is generally not aware of a problem or not ready to act. In the contemplative stage, the person is thinking about a change, but is not yet taking action. In the action stage, the person adopts a behavior change and is practicing it. In the maintenance stage, the person retains the new behavior as a result of reinforcement. In the last stage, the behavior is part of the individual’s lifestyle and is no longer seen as a change that needs attention or reinforcement.

Interventions work best if they match a person’s state of readiness. For example, if a subject is not even aware of a problem or its consequences, teaching should be directed toward raising awareness of the need for behavior change before any other learning can take place.

Readiness implies a degree of concentration and eagerness. Individuals learn best when they are physically, mentally, and emotionally ready to learn, and do not learn well if they see no reason for learning. Getting people ready to learn, creating interest by showing the value of the subject matter, and providing continuous mental or physical challenge, is usually the mentor’s responsibility. If the mentee has a strong purpose, a clear objective, and a definite reason for learning something, he makes more progress than if he lacks motivation. In other words, when learners are ready to learn, they meet the mentor at least halfway.

Alex appears to believe that he already has learned most of what is relevant to his personal situation. He doesn’t yet know what he doesn’t know. Give him time.


Groove of the Day

Listen to The Fifth Dimension performing “Go Where You Wanna Go”


6 Responses to “readiness”

  1. 1 matt
    November 21, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I’d like to say that this isn’t a competition, Dan, but it is, and so you need to be clear with yourself just what you are in competition with. It’s not just a matter of whether Alex, or any other young man, is ready to learn the lessons you would like to teach him, but that you are competing with “civilization” and “normalcy”, concepts that he has likely been dreaming about for many years. Additionally, there is that pressing need of most young men to just get on with their lives (especially with girls), to get into the game, and no matter how much you have to offer, the isolation of Estrella Vista may not be able to compete with that, if that be the need of the individual. So instead of viewing this as any kind of failed opportunity, consider it a learning experience for yourself and the dream, so that you can more effectively communicate the benefits of Estrella Vista in the future. I know you don’t like structure, Dan, but maybe that is a need for young men who have spent half of their life incarcerated. Just thoughts.

  2. 2 jacqueline
    November 22, 2014 at 5:26 am

    Alex is stuck in a cycle that is selfish and irresponsible. He has been doing this since the first time he was released. He starts a new relationship and thinks he’s in love in the first two weeks. Then he moves in with them automatically. Then so many months in when he starts realizing he’s not oh so in love and they’re no longer benefiting him, he drops the person with no remorse and starts looking for a new one to do the exact same thing with. I have personally listened to three different girls tell me the same story. I also watched the same selfish behavior and disrespect unfold while he was in TX that he did living here in CA and before that in FL with the other girl before me. When the relationship starts to go faulty he’ll start expressing how he doesn’t like to be touched, how he has anger problems, how he’s withdrawing from cigarettes and then he’ll isolate himself into his headphones or phone for as long as he can to avoid having to communicate. He’ll start doing nothing with himself more and more, including not taking care of his own personal responsibilities such as not doing the dishes. While he was here when I refused to clean his dishes, he attempted to “punish” me by not eating anymore. Then he would write Kathy emails claiming that he was hungry, that I didn’t buy food (while he was on food stamps) so he could get cigarette money. He didn’t even look for a job while he was here, claiming transportation issues yet he was bought a bike and given lightrail money he stayed home every day playing video games. Alex doesn’t truly appreciate anything anyone does for him, he just takes and takes. He doesn’t recognize he is stuck in a cycle. He hasn’t grown nearly as much as he thinks he has and he uses his intellect, ego and “intimidation” to cover up his insecurities and fears. Fortunately for me having counseling and struggling with my own history of abuse, I know the steps and traits of an abuser and manipulator. Some others he has taken through this process have not been as knowledgable. I used to actually care, I felt sorry for him because he hasn’t been equipped with the skills to function normally. Then I just realized I was enabling to his cycle. He is stuck in the cycle of mimicking his abusers. Until people like Kathy stop giving him handouts every time he throws a fit he will learn nothing. He’s so institutionalized he thinks he’s obligated to things that in prison come for free but on the streets, they do not. He’ll keep continuing this cycle until eventually he has burnt all his bridges and there will be no one left. Eventually he wont be in his 20s anymore and he will have nothing and not so many young attractive girls will be willing to take care of him. I hope he learns or eventually he will find himself alone, unhappy an old man with nothing to show for that cant even fend for himself. Time goes quickly. I don’t know what you expected Dan. Maybe you believe that with you it could be different, so did I and many others before me. No one has the skills to help a person that doesn’t want help. So when you lied to me over the phone as I was vulnerable and hurt, I hope you feel like a real jackass because honestly you chose to play the game of a child with the boy who cries wolf time and time again. It’s sickening what caring and hoping for a person can make us do, I was that to Alex once so I get it but really I’m 23 and your in your 50s? What kind of grown ass man does that? Apparently you. To be honest though I’m sure as fuck glad you did. I learned exactly what I Don’t and Never want in my life being with Alex and sometimes we all have to learn, maybe even when your in your 50s.

    • November 22, 2014 at 10:10 am

      I am actually in my late 60s, and yes I did cover up the fact that Alex was coming here because I had promised him I would. You were not exactly truthful with me, either, when you told me a check I had written to Alex had “bounced.” When I visited the bank to inquire about this, they reminded me that I had stopped payment on that check and replaced it with another. Alex had explained to me that the original check was lost for a time in the mail, reminded me that he had requested that I replace the original check and stop payment on it, and told me that you suspected I was up to something untoward through the whole check-replacement thing. I wasn’t.

      That having been said, yes, sometimes I do wonder if I am enabling his pattern of anti-social behavior. But I have promised him that I will always be here for him whether he likes me or not. Unlike the young women that repeatedly show up in his life, I am not trying to change him… only to provide a space, time and again if necessary, where he is free to figure out things for himself and change as it suits him. Because he has so far not made much progress in this regard does not mean that he won’t eventually adopt more pro-social ways.

      The experience of having him here for the last two months has caused me to question a number of things, but I have no problem changing my ways if it will benefit him. I am not too proud to change. I have learned a little something in my 66 years.

  3. 4 sirens
    November 22, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    I too, was once naive. As a child who was no stranger to virtually every form of abuse, I simply aspired to do one thing in life- to help people. People like me. My only fault, of course, being that I was so arrogant as to think that my personal experiences and overcomings could in fact benefit those who were either going through what I once had, or at very least, feeling what I once did. My intentions were pure. I was genuine every single time I befriended a wounded soul. I put all of my energy and all of my love as if to mend the broken fragments of their hearts, even if it meant forfeiting parts of my own. Fast forward, I am 24 now. I still have the same aspirations to help those I can, though this time around, I’ve adopted a new set of methods entirely. To help another, you must be selfless. You can’t go into these types of situations having already choosen to love someone. You can sympathize for their trials and tribulations, yes, but don’t assume that their struggles are justification enough in itself to adopt them as people without ever actually taking the time to truly get to know them as a whole. We are all flawed, each and every one of us, to want to mold someone to your ideologys of perfection, is in fact selfish. It’s easy to say Alex isn’t normal, it’s easy to write him off as a lost cause, a 12 year old boy who never stood a chance. It is easy to give not only him, but yourself the excuse that he is destructive and aggressive due to the environments he grew up in. Take away the murder. Take away the prison sentences. And you assume he would have been an different person all together. Maybe it’s true, maybe not. My point being, don’t set out to help Alex because of his struggles. He is not a puzzle in which you can simply piece together based on the picture that is his past. Don’t try and change him because you think how he is,is wrong but rather help him to see the underlying characteristics in him that are good. Acknowledge the fact that he is more than a broken person who needs to be taught like a child at 25, the rules of society, the ways of normalcy. Allow him your insight, try to gain his, vocalize your true thoughts and you’re sure to be met with his. When seeking to help someone, they must first trust you, they must trust that to you, they are more than just subjects in which you wish to fix. Get to know them before you decide to befriend them and if you so choose to befriend them, do so without expectations of who they might me and do not feel obligated to maintain a friendship that isn’t just as mutually beneficial to you as it is to them. One can always sense when their presence is only being acknowledged or dealt with in pity. Do not seek personal gratification in helping others. You are not a messiah nor will you ever be. Your only mission, my only mission, when allowing myself to be vulnerable to those who have been broken is simply to seek the only thing that matters at the end of the day, a mutual understanding of each other and even more than that, appreciation of their life. For all of Alex David King’s faults, there are some things within him that are worthy of one’s time. There is good, regardless of his deep rooted opposition and as long as there is, he has the ability to flourish. See the good in people without consciously choosing to be oblivious to the bad and you have everything you need to initiate the beginnings of a truly beautiful friendship. These are just my thoughts though, my only proof being that the few friendships I have, are truly irrevocable regardless of time or distance.

  4. 5 jacqueline
    November 22, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    This isn’t a competition. Lol. I’m not going to bother to defend myself against people who have a tendency to make up stories. If you want to be a pawn of a child’s lies and games, that’s your fools errand. Frankly I think you have a predator like infatuation with all these young boy parricides starting when they’re very young and it’s disturbing. You certainly don’t help any female parricides cases. You sure use your money as a tool to invoke them. If people really knew where their donation money really went. Lol. If you think Alex actually has respect for you or any of you that give him handouts, your easily manipulated and fooled. There’s nothing wrong with helping a person when they’re down or giving them a step up but that’s not what your doing, your an enabler and a predator. I shared my piece and I have nothing else to say to you. Good luck. I’m sure it will go so well for you.

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