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.
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?”.
‘Learned about a woman, today, who wants to be Barbie. Being a guy who lives at 8800 feet in the mountains, chops wood, snow blows, a family man, psychotherapist … I have no interest in Barbie, never have. My daughter does not even like Barbie!
This story was surprisingly disturbing; my heart heavy, beyond measure for this woman. This story is a vivid, disruptive, metaphor for a fear of authenticity; and one’s fear of intimacy. Check out the title of the article, published in the Huffington Post:
“Blondie Bennett, Barbie-Obsessed Woman, Uses Hypnotherapy To Make Herself Brainless”
A California woman who describes herself as Barbie-obsessed says she uses hypnotherapy sessions in the hopes that it will decrease her IQ.
“I just want to be the ultimate Barbie. I actually want to be brainless,” Blondie Bennett, 38, told Barcroft TV. “I don’t like being human, if that makes sense… Natural is boring… I would love to be like, completely plastic.”
Bennett … five breast augmentations … other procedures in the hopes of attaining her goal. But now … undergoing hypnotherapy sessions two-to-three times a week in order to dumb down her thoughts.
She says it’s working.
“I’ve had 20 sessions and I’m already starting to feel ditzy and confused all the time,” Bennett told the Daily Mail.
She … loves her looks, (but) her plastic features tend to turn off a lot of people … friends and family don’t approve of her lifestyle.
I am not able to get past my belief that this story is about a woman who had / has great pain, not so much physical, but emotional … psychological … possibly traumatic. We can all agree that life is intense, and at times some of us want to hide. At other times our hiding is found in joining the crowd. To be so passionate about removing your pain to the point that you don’t want to think, anymore, about anything … It feels tragic to me. This story is a jagged picture of the deep desires to self-medicate.
The desperate longing to be someone other than who you are … Why? Because of the pain. And when it comes to pain, your pain is your pain. I have NOT walked in your shoes, I do not know what it feels like for you. And yet, because of my own journey, I feel some of your pain.
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.
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 knowwe 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.
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.
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 word “majesty” 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“LIKE” your 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 isthe 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:
To seize the armory of the Patriots: their ammunition, artillery, and supplies;
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.
There 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.
True, 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.
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 post is written as a way of encouraging parents of special needs kiddos. My (life) experience has more to do with mood disorders and neurological issues.
THE BOY …
is watched over by angels, and I do not have the energy or the intellect or the salesmanship to convince you of this. Its something that I just know. Some parents might relate to this mystery.
And God …
gives the boy favor. In my imagination I can seethe Wild Man upstairs, the same One who created the whole deal, smiling when He sees the boy laugh, or when He sees the boy do something that is beautiful. In that same imagination I can the Wild Man upstairs become pensive, and almost weep, when He sees the pain of the boy … and when He sees the pain of the parents.
“… the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their desire, putting out to sea, they sailed close by Crete. But not long after, a tempestuous head wind arose, called Euroclydon …” (Acts 27:13)
The rest of the story in 27 (Acts) is very interesting. Among many things that stands out is the idea that Paul is a prisoner on this ship (276 souls) … and he gives the centurion (he’s in charge, by the way) advice … advice that will end up saving everyone’s life. So, to some degree, it’s not the people who are in authority who have the wisdom; it’s the prisoner, Paul. And, in fact, he does save their lives. But, Paul is still a prisoner, who paradoxically has freedom at the same time. It is not until death that Paul experiences the maximum freedom. And it is not suicide, where Paul decides that it is time to go to the Other Side. No, it is the authorities who decide it is time for him to go. Humility. Wisdom. Courage. There it is: hope in the storms; glory in the story.
Thankful, yes; the joy intense, like heat, like sun … and the joy, so intense / hot / bright actually drives me away from glory, into a hiding place … driving me away from where He wants me to be.
How can joy drive me away? There is a desire to sabotage, to bring it down, when we are supposed to be up, and connected, and present. Yeah, the desire to sabotage strangely stirs. Maybe it is the message from somewhere, someone, that this is all too good for me. Yes, that one lie that goes something like this:
YOU DON’T DESERVE THIS, LOSER
So, I hide, I howl, I hurt, I hoof it out of town, and hole-up somewhere.
But He watches on (ever watching); He continues (Alpha, Omega) to battle, to provide (“No Fear, Bro”) …
He loves (Great Lover) … And He will be. He will be here. He will be there, on the Other Side of the Trees.
Years ago late one night, Harold – – – my upstairs neighbor – – – was getting robbed. Before I knew what was happening, I drove into the driveway, seeing a Ford pickup backed up to the front door.
Something is wrong here.
As I got out of my Subaru, like nothing was wrong, a white guy with a ball-cap and wild-looking eyes walked out the front door carrying a TV, “Hey, dude! What’s happening?” My response: “Not much. Just getting home from work.” Two women stood to the side, staring at me.
Inside my apartment, I locked the door, walked to the inside door to the laundry room, opened the door a crack, listened, and heard the two women at the top of the stairs, whispering. My imagination went south: Harold was hurt (?), unconscious (?), or dead, (?). I was going to call the police; but my phone was gone.
I then stepped out to get to my car and go for help. But at the top of the hill, those same two women were standing at the driveway staring at me. I returned to my apartment, locked the door, and prayed like a wild man.
Ten minutes later, the truck started, left the property. Five minutes after that, Harold came down the stairs, through the laundry room, knocked on my door.
I opened the door, Harold's face as white as a sheet.
He asked ... "You okay?"
"Yeah, I guess." I was calm. Then I snapped: Harold! I thought
you were either dead,! Or knocked out! What was that all about?"
"He's crazy, hopped up on drugs, waving a pistol. And he started
hauling stuff out."
I will never forget the imagery of Harold’s home being robbed. “A thief in the night.” ‘So sudden, so unexpected. Life is like that, at times. Thieves come, and do not always look the same. They steal our sleep; our time; our valuables. Thieves temporarily steal our sanity, our safety. Thieves attempt to steal our courage, our hope, our vision, our dreams … our hearts. Thieves sometimes come with fear.
Bad things happen. Yeah, they do.
Good things happen. Yes. They do.
Good news is that we have FREEDOM, and fortitude, and the RIGHT to CHOOSE to transcend injustice. Andy, from Shawshank Redemption, said ” … time to get busy living, or get busy dying …” We areresilient. We arebrave hearts. We can do as Churchill did: