There is a quiet place, a secret place, that is yours for restoration. There is a realness in the stillness. Go there, when you can; when you need to. It's safe. For me, it is the Other Side of the Trees.
A man, a woman, sit together, no joy … just pain. They have come to see the seer, with the hope that she will see … something. Something that the two haven’t seen. Something that will help them push through the desert, a harsh desert; and come out on the other side. The seer hopes to see well, into and through, the fog, the pain, the guardedness. The seer has every bit as much hope that the two, across from her, will be able to see … that they will see those pieces that connect with freedom.
“How important is it, to you, that you do see?”
The two appear to be stunned, as if no one has ever asked them that question. And, maybe, no one ever has. They appear to be stunned, as the question is not just a question; they are being “called out” … called out to take a step forward and see, even if they encounter something that they don’t want to see. So they run that question, from the seer, through their hearts and minds … to the point that they both ask themselves a different question, “Am I really ready to be here?”
“We want to be here, and we want to see.”
“The information you communicated on your voicemail I received tells me that you are here to work on your marriage. Depending on what that means … ‘to work on your marriage’ … it may be difficult, painful to see what is problematic about your relationship with each other. Keep your courage close, your vision alive, your hope strong. Now, let us see what we can see.”
The scenario, above, is a context of seeing; a small allegory. Allegories and metaphors are powerful, for me, in two ways: teaching, and my own processes of grappling with thoughts I am attempting to resolve. In my last post (6/24/16), I wrote about my father, Bill Davis, who had passed away that morning. The grief issue, I am indeed grappling with and attempting to resolve, but I am quite stuck. To grieve, I think, requires that I “see”; that I see well. I was talking to another therapist not too long ago. I expressed to her that … me being a therapist, one would think that I would have a good handle on grief, and how to “do it”. She said something that validated some of my cognitive disruption: “I have found that many therapists avoid grief whenever possible.” Ironic. The grief process can be quite different for each person. For me, I am seeing different scenarios where Dad was involved. And the seeing brings about some disruption, some joy, some great sorrow, some anger. But grief is not the only context for us, where seeing is so profound. Seeing comes into play, some days more than others. When I worked with at-risk adolescents, I found myself seeing something that I truly did not want to see. It takes courage to see. It is also a gift to see. I find truth in the seeing; and I find comfort in the seeing. And in meaningful relationships, we must be able to see. Throughout all of this, there is strategic seeing. If we are in the thick of ot, it is not difficult to see … that we are indeed in the thick of it. In times like that, we must dig down into our heart and soul, and see the hope … see the truth that there is a bigger picture. The chaos does not define us. That’s all for now.
Public School really needs to be a safe place for our kids. In Kayleb’s case, I don’t know all the facts: I was not there. But based on what information is available, it’s wrong for Kayleb to have to endure this. Absolutely wrong. Then again, there will always be injustice among children … on this side of heaven. It’s still wrong.
Three days ago I walked out to see how much snow was still on the ground. A few patches in the shady places, where sunlight filters through the trees. My thoughts were that Spring is coming through the mountains; that we had seen the last of snow. Such thoughts were in the space of obliviousness. I had not checked the weather, which according to some folks up here is a cardinal sin.
Two days ago some of the people I work with were talking it up:
“They’re saying up to two feet above 8,000.”
“Oh, it’s gonna happen. It’s going to be a upslope.”
Yesterday morning, the snow was just getting ramped up. Around noon, I had to push through my reluctance and the thick snow on the driveway. Snow blower doesn’t work, so it was me and shovel. We finally measured our driveway a while back. I would not have guessed, but its 450 feet long. There is a curve in the middle. I embraced the thick wool dungarees that I bought in 1992 at a thrift store; a t-shirt; a workout jacket; a polar fleece; wool hat; Sorrels snow boots; and some gloves (one right, and one left). I attacked the snow, driving back my nemesis (one of my nemesis), to the sides of the driveway. I felt like Gandalf, not with a staff but with a shovel, standing against the bellrog: “YOU … SHALL … NOT … PASS!!!”
By evening it was hammering pretty good. This morning, I looked out the sliding glass door at the two feet of snow. Ahhhhh. Just what I was looking for: more snow to shovel on my 450 feet steep-steep driveway. So … switching gears. The metaphor of the snowstorm connected with my heart and mind. I’ve been in a difficult season that has gone on … way too long. There have been several events over the last 7 years that have knocked me off the horse. In some ways, I have been a hiding man. In other ways I have been a wounded man. A handful of people, who know me well enough to speak candidly with me, have said numerous times over the last seven years: “T: get back in the game …”; “Get back on the horse …”; “You know what you’re supposed to be doing, so do it …” I don’t resent their counsel. They are right. And yet, I see some logic to the idea, expressed in this hypothetical question: “Why should I get back on the horse … just to be knocked off, again?” The snowstorm metaphor. I have no choice but to push back the snow. The snow cannot win. I have what it takes. As Winston Churchill said: “This will be our finest hour.” Chances are that some who are reading this post might have experienced some of the same anguish, some of the same type of dilemma. So, are we going to do this? Are we going to push through?
I am doing a re-write of a post, from another blog, about an issue I am immensely passionate about. Passion, a strange thing, reminds me of anger. Anger reminds me of a quote about anger, one I heard from my dad.
“Anger is like a sword without a handle: you have to hold it by the blade.”
Passion is sort of like anger (righteous and unrighteous). Passion can be used for good. There are times, unfortunately, when passion is not so good. My anger about this particular issue is passionate. And, as I live and breathe, as I write this post, I hold my sword-like passion and anger by the blade: carefully.
My heart truly goes out to the victims of sexual abuse at the hands of those specific Catholic priests / nuns who are sex offenders. My heart goes out, additionally, to the countless goodhearted, wise, godly, Catholics … angry and saddened … for their fellow-Catholics sexually abused by Catholic priests / nuns. The excerpt below from a recent story in the news, regarding victims of sexual abuse, perpetrated upon by Catholic priests, in Seattle, v a l i d a t e s the reality of such violence … a violence that many have attempted to hide for countless generations.
These words, in particular, from this man – – – Pope Francis – – – stir up my anguish:
“The Catholic Church had to take a stronger stand on a sexual abuse crisis that has disgraced it for more than two decades.”
Sexual abuse … happening in the Catholic Church since … the 1950’s (if not before then?) … And the Catholic Church is now recently expressing this profound observation … that there needs to be more action taken regarding the priests and nuns who are sex offenders. Why the sudden observation? Pope Francis’ words refer to the Catholic Church being “disgraced”. My reading of this article led me to consider this question: “Is the Catholic Church leadership more concerned about how the Catholic Church is viewed, rather than the hearts / minds / souls of their victims of sexual abuse?” Another question came up, for me: “If the sexual abuse was not exposed to the American public, would the Catholic Church still have been disgraced?”
And if the Catholic Church had not been disgraced, then would their really be a problem in their eyes? “Hush Money” (the term) has been used in articles / news referring to funds for victims of sexual abuse … to be quiet … about their abuse. “Hush Money”, therefore, is for keeping the Catholic Church from disgrace. Did the sexual abuse victims feel “disgraced” after they had been sexually abused? I think anyone would feel disgrace after being violated in a sexually abusive way. Many victims kept silent for a long time. Why? Shame? Fear of reprisal? Concern that no one would believe them? “Disgrace”? And yet, the Catholic Church communicates their concern, more about the Catholic Church’s disgrace, than with the victims of the sexual abuse from Catholic priests. For the cases that have been exposed, it was no longer “Hush Money” … but now, it is more of a pitiful rationalization, my paraphrase: “If we pay you this money, then its all settled. You go your way, and we will continue to do what we do (what does that mean?).”
The Church (globally) in America calls people to live with integrity, to be safe, to be honorable, to be virtuous. Some good news in all of this is that … the “Hush Money” is exposed; sex offender priests / nuns are being exposed; the numbers (settlements and victims) are being made known. All of this stands up against the secrets continuing.
Is a predominant theme …
In the depravity / violence of …
Sex offenders …
And the fear / shame of …
When the secrets are told, the secrets lose power.
Here are some numbers, some of many, that are staggering.
*Roman Catholics spent $615 million on sex abuse cases in 2007, alone. *$85 million in September of 2003 (just that month). *$100 million in 2005, January.
Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a statement on Tuesday (6/24/14), according to the Seattle Times newspaper,
“Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”
REALITY CHECK, people. Let’s not be so naive as to think that there is going to be significant healing for allof these men and women who have been victimized. For some, yes there will be healing. For others, no: there will be little or no healing. And its possible that some individuals are hearing Sartain say … my paraphrase …
“Hey, here’s the money; and its a lot of money; so, since we are paying out a lot of money, then we expect for there to be a lot of healing, and then we won’t feel so bad. And we don’t want to hear anymore about this. Now, get out of here.”
Now, I know; I know, I know, I know … that those were not the words from the archbishop from Seattle … but if I was a victim of sexual abuse from the Catholic Church, I might just think that way about what Sartain is saying.
The money … d o e s n o t c h a n g e … what happened. The money … d o e s n o t g u a r a n t e e … full healing …
The money does not guarantee that the sexual abuse will stop. So, healing for everyone? No. It doesn’t work that way.
So much written about R.W. Thus, Solomon’s piece, at the core of my writing: “It’s all been said before.”
Here some thoughts of a disc-jockey in “Good Morning, Vietnam”, a professor in “Dead Poets Society”, Mrs.Doubtfire, Teddy Roosevelt in “Night at the Museum”, Ramon the penguin in “Happy Feet”, Maxwell “Wizard” Wallace in “August Rush” … Those are a few parts of Robin Williams.
And here are a few parts of who I was, and how I was blessed, and impacted, by Robin Williams, and his art. I was the class comedian, high school; a joke for anyone and everyone. The rush of making people laugh was amazing. I studied the great comedians: Robin Williams, Bill Cosby, George Carlin, Jerry Seinfield, Steve Martin. Out of these mentioned, and those I have not mentioned, Robin Williams was … at times … present: where I was, what I was doing. I read a magazine interview with Robin Williams, and among the many things I read I remember something that wasn’t so cool. I paraphrase: Williams said that at times, when he was not doing well, he had to go somewhere by himself.
I was blown away by his prolific spontaneity linked up with priceless humor. I also couldn’t shake the idea that there was a dichotomy happening: humor / laughter with melancholy / depression. The mixture of these two forces haunted me a bit … and it was because I wanted my depression that I had struggled with since I was a child to be separate from everyone. I wanted to go to Robin Williams for robust laughter, and I did not want to know that the man who made me laugh struggled with depression like I did. Incidentally, I didn’t know, when I was a child, that it was depression. I didn’t learn that it was depression until I was in graduate school (my late thirties) … Sounds crazy. Robin Williams, to a large degree helped me to release some of my “crazy”, and to be able to sit with all of this, and to laugh through this.
If I could have a discussion with R.W., it might include some of these comments …
“Bro, just to make this clear, suicide, yes, I agree, is wrong.
Just as important, please know that there is no is condemnation coming from me, nor from my God. And, I’ve got no judgment for you.
My heart goes out to your family. I can only imagine that their pain is immeasurable. And its been said that there is no pain up in Heaven. But, I know your heart is good, Bro; and surely you feel some of their pain … But, I don’t know, because I don’t know much about Heaven. And by the way, I hope there are people making you laugh … I’m sure there was pressure, through most of your days, to make people laugh. I know that there are no excuses for ending your life; but there are definitely factors that contributed to your decisions. Our pain, our struggles, our failures, our shame, we are driven passionately away from all of that … toward something that relieves our suffering. And the relief is always temporary. When the performance is over, the Black Dog, depression, remains.”
Robin Williams messed up when he took his own life. I should have permission to tell my close friends when / if they messed up. And my closest friends have permission to tell me when / if I messed up. We can do that without condemnation. Do I condemn Robin Williams for taking his life? NO. Am I angry with Williams? NO, not so much angry, but sad. So, maybe the takeaway is this. We all need to “do” self-care. We need to take care of ourselves; and in turn, we can bless our families. If we are wounded, and we are not doing our own work, then how can we be our best with those we love?
This post is a continuation of an earlier post, “How Did We Get Here? (#1). The following dialog is a picture of what it might look to take “relationship stuckness” to the next level, regardless of what the outcome will be. Both of these dialogs are “composites”, based on my counseling work with married folks for the last 17 years. The setting, below, is a counseling office. The two people from the dialog in the earlier post, “How Did We Get Here?” have agreed to meet for counseling: one hoping for their relationship to continue; the other hoping to make this place and time a context for closure so that the relationship will be dissolved. Incidentally, this is an excerpt from the first counseling session, possibly the last. The “formalities” of beginning a counseling session have already been accomplished …
(T) / Therapist:
Sam, what do you want to happen?
Sam / Husband:
I want to keep our marriage. I want Jules to give me a chance to change, so I can prove to be a better husband who loves her well.
Then, look at Jules and tell her that.
Jules, I want us to keep our marriage. Give me a chance to change, so I can prove to be a better husband. I want to love you well.
Jules, what do you want to happen?
I want to do closure, here. Our marriage is over. We need to move on. The sooner, the better.
Then, look at Jules and tell him that.
I want to do closure, here. Our marriage is over. We need to move on. The sooner, the better.
(Addressing therapist) Now, what?
I don’t know, Sam. What now?
(Talking to Jules) Jules, I can make things better. I can’t fix it; what has happened has hurt you. I am sorry. But I want to know what I need to do to save our marriage. And, I will do it.
I’ve never heard you say that you cannot fix “it” (words couched in sarcasm and anger). And tell me, Sam, what has happened that has hurt me?
I have put work in front of you many, many, times. And when I am home, I have often checked out, going to my books, or my laptop, or spending time with my friends, instead of spending time with you.
It is too late for you to save our marriage. I’m done.
We are almost out of time. Jules, for the sake of your own hope, for your own marriage … because this is your marriage, as well, for the sake of saving something that could be one of the best things that has ever happened to you, I need you to come back again, in one week, and meet with me and this man sitting next to you … not to do closure, but to sit in your pain with this selfish man who loves you, a man quite insensitive at times. I’ve sat with folks before, with similar wounds. Please do not be unwise, and throw away something that could become better than it ever was before. So, you’ll be back next week, and we will continue. Sam? Any problem with that? Good. Jules? Any problem with that? Good. See you next week.
Part of my writing style is, for both fiction and non-fiction, to leave things hanging a bit in limbo. My motive is not to be cruel but to accentuate reality. Reality is … that life has jagged edges. Things are not always smooth. And in this scenario above, I attempted to accentuate that healing does not always happen quickly. In the words of a psychotherapists I admired for her wisdom, “This might take a while.” We live in a fast-paced society, saturated with short-term gratification. But when relational wounds emerge, chances are they have developed over time. With that being said, the healing process can take a bit longer than a few weeks. It’s important to acknowledge that the future of Sam and Jules is unknown. Perhaps one of the more important truths, here, is that Sam is making an effort to save the marriage; and to some degree Jules is also making an effort to save the marriage. But we don’t know what is going to happen. In fact, it is a good way to end this two-part series “How Did We Get Here?”.
No, no. No-no-no-no-no-no. You are where you are at, and I am where I am at. And believe me: I wouldn’t want to be where you are at.
How’s the view up there? Up above guys like me who don’t have it together like you?
(Pause) What are you were asking me? And, I’m kind of in a hurry, okay? So, tell me what you need, and I will try to help.
I was asking you … how we … “I” … arrived here, at this place.
Our relationship? Fading. I have become isolated. My addictions, like work; like books; like fast food. And, life – – – I do not enjoy life as much. That’s a picture of what I am talking about.
Okay. (Pause) I have to get going, need to be somewhere. Take care of yourself.
You asked me about “this place” I am in, I told you, and I thought we were going to talk about it. But, you … are just leaving, now.
(Pause) I am sorry about your confusion. I can’t help you. I don’t do well with others’ shame. I don’t do well with addictions. Your isolation is something you have chosen; your relationships evaporating didn’t suddenly happen. It’s been in the works for a while. And your enjoyment of life? Not happening? I don’t want to have anything to do … with that. (Pause) On top of all that, you wouldn’t even hear what I have to say.
Why would I not want to hear what you have to say?
Because you are right where you want to be. And if you are right were you want to be, why talk about how you arrived at this place? If you wanted to change all that, you would. But, there is no change.
(Pause with some hesitation) Uhhhh, maybe.
You’ve got me all wrong.
‘Doesn’t matter. This is your party, not mine.
The dialog, above, is like a metaphor, representing some of the relational pain / disappointment that happens … on some level … in the human soul. Our hearts, our minds … bring about different dynamics of expectations (realistic and / or unrealistic), an arcane blend of intimacy (healthy and / or unhealthy, whether it be physical or emotional or both). The relationship and dialog happening up above is somewhat of a composite derived from my years working as a psychotherapist with married folks. Lastly, the nuances / verbal clues accentuate the factors / themes we deal with in our society, and our relationships:
“I don’t have the time to have this conversation …”
“Don’t blame me for you problems …”
“I don’t have any compassion for you, now …”
True, this is a rather cold exchange happening between two people. My hope is that one can see their thankfulness for being able to transcend such unhappiness, such insensitivity. We all need help, at different times, and in different ways. Here is a truth that is disruptive to many, and this truth applies to the “composite” dialog at the beginning of this post: