How Did We Get Here? And How Do We Get There? Dialog Series (#2)

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.
(T):
Then, look at Jules and tell her that.
Sam:
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.
(T):
Jules, what do you want to happen?
Jules:
I want to do closure, here.  Our marriage is over.  We need to move on.  The sooner, the better.
(T):
Then, look at Jules and tell him that.
Jules:
I want to do closure, here.  Our marriage is over.  We need to move on.  The sooner, the better.
(Silence)
Sam:
(Addressing therapist) Now, what?
(T):
I don’t know, Sam.  What now?
Sam:
(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.
Jules:
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?  
Sam:
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.
Jules:
It is too late for you to save our marriage.  I’m done.
(T):
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?”.

http://www.lifewithlevi.com/mmm-couples-counseling/

 

 

 

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Relationships, Reality & Redemption

What do I know to be true?  Know yourself, and I will know myself, and if I come up short in that area, then … then … What?  Then what?  Oh, my!  Maybe the earth will rip off its axis and hurl into the sun!!!!

No, I doubt that will happen.  Here’s one truth about me: I am able.  I am able to do both good, and not-so-good.  I am able to empower (good).  I am able to enable (bummer, not-so-good).  I’ve walked with many folks over the last 20 years in the counseling context.  And in the realm of addictions, I have encountered the “enabling” dynamic a great deal.  And, if an individual is an “enabler”, that does not mean … that their heart is not good.  In fact, with every enabler I have sat with, there has always been a good heart.  We, with our good hearts, are able to miss the bigger picture, to mess up the smaller picture.  And we, with our good hearts, are able to walk with a soul and inspire, without many words.  We, with our good hearts, are able to run races with specific individuals who have come into our world who want to run well, with love in their hearts … a healthy love, an empowering love, a fragrant love, a tough love, a tough love not without honor, a tough love not without integrity, a tough love not without gentleness.

I am able.  I am able to go after myself with rocks and razored insults; rage and disgust.  There is a fancy word for it, I think: “self-contempt”.  Truly, I am not exempt from self-contempt.  And, truly, there is no exemption from redemption.

And, to use the title of one of my favorite films, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, there is an indescribably intense piece of fighting with honor and love and fairness and staying in the place of a safe place.  Not fighting with physical warfare.  Not fighting with psychological abuse; or verbal abuse; or emotional abuse.  No … this is a fighting where, at the core, is a deep authentic love for the other; caring for the other; and choosing to not let the other “off the hook” … because that is the last thing we need, to escape the responsibility of loving well and “doing relationship” well.

And that is all I’m going to say about that, for now.

Philomena! Philomena!

Movie poster, Philomena
Movie poster, Philomena

Judi Tench: amazing.  Judi Tench plays the role of Philomena.  It is one thing to read a book, or watch a movie, and walk away with “Yeah, I liked it.”  It is another thing entirely when you watch an excellent movie, and find out at the very end that … this is a true story.  It makes to you, I hope, that as I am writing this, I will avoid giving any information away that could possibly spoil this movie, for those of you who have not yet seen the movie.  As for Steve Coogan, I really cannot imagine a better actor for that part.

So, here are some themes, words, that may encourage you to see this move:

  • Injustice, exposed;
  • Portrait of a courageous woman with priceless inner strength and profound resilience;
  • Redemptive change;
  • Disruption that will bring out the bewilderment in you … the bewilderment about how this injustice could happen;
  • Beauty in a great woman’s character;
  • Hope.

This movie will be worth your while, unless you only watch the “action / adventure” movies (Bruce Willis / Die Hard … Do you know what I mean?)

We Remember, Eh? What Valentines is Made Up Of …

That woman,  there … with the long white dress, the cross sewn into the train … she has my heart, and it will always be that way.  Those on both sides of the aisle show a glow, reflecting the beauty of  this bride, an elegant one.  Her countenance has a fragrance that reminds me of the Don Juan Rose.

She and I both remember, and reflect on from time to time, the trip to the airport, a few days before Christmas of 1994.  I had met her in October.  We went out a few times in November.  And in December, we both needed to fly out of Denver … and somehow our flights went out on the same day (different planes, different destinations).  So I had a good friend drive us both to DIA.  We followed the creed of Christmas travelers: arrive early; thus, the pre-flight java before one of us flew south, and the other flew north.  Less than six months later, we had a wedding.

A safe place.  A commitment to live well with each other, and to love well with each other, and to look ahead, for the big things, with each other.  Life is  harsh, and we fight for each other.  And we when we don’t see eye to eye, we fight with honor, with respect.  We parent together.  We rest from the storms, and we heal from the wounds, our stories have redemption.  For my amazing wife, Happy Valentines Day, my love.  I have had a place in my heart for folks who are in marriages that aren’t working.  So difficult, as they don’t always know whether to stay or to go.  A million dollar question for some is “Can this marriage be healed?”  And in some cases, the only right answer is get out of the marriage.  All of this is so difficult.  I hope the best for all.  We all need peace; we all need hope; we all need to be safe; and we all need to be loved well.

T

Story Series: An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory Part 1

Story Series: “An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory”

Notes: A great joy, storytelling, comes with a great privilege: to release my craft of storytelling in the midst of a fairly large group of willing listeners, two to three times each year.  After telling a fellow blogger, prior to the most recent storytelling session (12/1/13), that I would be telling one of my stories in front of a crowd,  I was fortunate to have this good man / blogger express his interest.  He suggested that I bring the story to the blog realm.  Here are some “safety tips”, if you choose to read An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory”:  

      • Time and setting: 1779; a young America is at war with England.
      • American Patriots are severely outnumbered and out-trained.
      • This story is not about the United Kingdom being “The Bad Guys”.
      • This story is about the reality that we all have battles to fight.  
      • Our battles are interlinked with our own individual, unique stories.
      • Our battles are harsh, and ugly, and we will get nicked, wounded, clobbered, dazed, knocked down, discouraged, and at times we will forget what is it we are fighting for.
      • We are not fighting alone; we need vision, hope and courage; we do not give up; we need to know we are fighting our battles for something worth fighting for; and this will help us see why we do not give up, why we  keep fighting.

George Washington Crossing the Potomac / http://www.PasteMagazine

The Story: An Extraordinary Conflict and a Profound Victory Part 1

The year is 1779.  We are at war with England.  We are patriots.  We are Americans.  We are a young country, and therefore, we are a young America.  We are thirteen colonies. And, in the eyes of England, out of the mouths of the British, we are fools and rebels.

Below: picture of King George III made possible from www.napoleon-empire.com.

Rebels?  Yes.  We are rebels. We rebel against tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation, and “The Quartering Act”.  Fancy wording, eh?  “The Quartering Act”: it means “Home Invasion”,  British soldiers living in our homes, against our will.  Rebels? Yes.  Fools?  No.  We are not fools.

Right: picture of George Washington, made possible  from sccoec.edublogs.org.

 The British Monarchy and King George III’s perspective goes something like this:
      • “I don’t care if you live in America, Russia, Jamaica, or on Mars.  It makes no difference.  The British Monarchy and I, own you … the Patriots.
      • We will tax you heavily, you will pay dearly.
      • We will take what we want, when we want.
      • You will fear us because we are so powerful, you will be thankful to be servants of the British Monarchy.
      • You will LIKE it, you will not complain.  You will be silent, say nothing.
      • This is the way it is, this is the way it will always be.”

The Patriots’ perspective is, as you might imagine, quite different from that of King George III’s.  Picture yourself sitting with King George III.  The discussion might go something like this:

  • “Your Majesty … Let me stop there and confess my confusion.  This wordmajesty” means dignity, and grandeur, supreme greatness.  And then, there is you: a “majesty“; a little man, a large amount of greed, and an addict’s desire for control and respect; but you will not give freedom, and you will not give respect.
  • Anyway, Georgie, that’s not why I came.  There has been a misunderstanding.  You and your people have expressed that we will LIKEyour oppression and tyranny and excessive taxation; that we will be thankful for our servitude to the British Monarchy; that we will not speak; that we will accept this as it is, and as it will always be.  
  • Here is the truth:  we do not like “it”, and never will.  We will not settle for this. We will not take this lying down.  George, we have made efforts to work this out with you and your people.  But it looks like you want a war.  If it is a war you want, it is a war you will get.   I’ll close with this, sir.  Read my lips, I know I do not speak very loud:

WE … ARE NOT … VICTIMS.

WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

In 1775, British troops marched into Lexington and Concord with two objectives:

        1. To seize the armory of the Patriots: their ammunition, artillery, and supplies;

        2. To capture two Patriot leaders, John Adams and John Hancock.

The British failed with both objectives, thanks to an American spy ring, successful in obtaining  invaluable intelligence data: the British plans to march into Lexington and Concord, and their objectives.  The Patriots moved their armory / supplies ahead of time to a safe place; and  the Patriots moved John Adams and John Hancock to locations where the British would never find them. 

Below:General. Gage, Commander of the British Army and Military Governor of Massachusetts, from www.landofthebrave.info.

File:Thomas Gage John Singleton Copley.jpegThere is a rumor . . .

that the intelligence data came from Mrs. Thomas Gage, the wife of the General Thomas Gage, Commander of the British Army and Military Governor of Massachusetts.

Mrs. Thomas Gage - John Singleton CopleyTrue, all sources indicate that this was never proven.  However, General Gage sent his wife away, back to England in 1775, shortly after the battles at Lexington and Concord.   
Mrs. Gage, wife of General Thomas Gage, from

April 19th of 1775.

British troops marched into Lexington and Concord.  A 500 man militia of Patriots were waiting, armed and very much pumped up.  The Patriots gave the British a run for their money: key word “run“.  They retreated all the way back to Boston.  These two battles, Lexington and Concord, marked the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.  It was a long, and ugly, war.  The Patriots did not win every battle.  But they did win the war.  

This is a good perspective: we will lose some battles; but we will win the war. We are called to fight with honor, for what is good.  We are called out to live with passion and vision, even when the cards are stacked against us.  We have an opportunity to leave behind us a powerful legacy.

This is the end of Part 1