It came about after a prolonged period of meditation, having the same image come up in my mind's eye over and over - A Closed Door in the middle of a giant hall. Someone said write about it and I did; hence this poetry and the concept, then 175 Missing Pieces and all the rest of the books on recovery and now workshops and seminars on spiritual recovery.
Saturday, May 8, 2010
True Confessions of A Therapist Or Observations and Conversations on the Passage of Time With Me, Myself and God
I would like to begin this journal by telling you a bit about myself. I would like to tell you just how circuitous the journey of me finding me was for me. Just how tricky it was to begin to believe that I was actually having a life and not lost in one. (BTW once found, know this nothing is resolved, it has only just begun)
It begins with me coming to a place of understanding that, just like everyone else who has arrived here on the face of this planet, upon arrival, I was instantly endowed with a survival suit, a body, to live in and work with for the duration of my stay on the planet.
The survival suit seems to be a requirement to be here.
This survival suit/body comes equipped with many interesting devices and processes but one of the most interesting is that it allows us to perform two major functions.
• One: Operate the survival suit.
• Two: Think about things.
The latter was the part that was dangerous for me.
Thinking About Things That Is.
Because, over time, as I thought about it, I came to a place where I firmly believed that this is what I did best ... thought about things.
Now that does not mean that I did this 'thinking about things' best, it just means that I firmly believed that I did. And believe me there is a difference. Of course, with the process of thinking about things, naturally came the notion that I understood what it was that I thought I thought about.
You see the problem, don't you?
It's actually scary when you frame it like that.
Well, it follows naturally, that as these two aspects of my life's predicament settled in upon me, that is, me operating the survival suit in a hostile environment and me thinking about it at the same time ... as these two aspects coupled with my analysis of my thoughts ... more thinking about thinking ... it's a cybernetic feedback loop ... seemly going someplace but always ending up right where I started ... as all this began to weigh down upon my shoulders, I began to make conclusions about my life especially about those significant others who were close to me as I thought I related to them and their circumstances. Did you hear all the thinks in there?
One of the more profound insights that came out of this whole miss adventure was; "I am the survival suit." After all what other conclusion would you come to if you had forgotten from 'whence you came'?
Actually, what I came to understand after a very protracted period of time thinking about it, was that I was just in my survival suit. (Oh yes, nearly forgot and nearly left that out didn't I, from 'whence we came'! . . . Now there is something to think about . . . really! You can sort of get lost in that one without trying too hard, if you think about it that is!)
After three thinks quit,
You can only hurt yourself after that.
Subtle difference in words ... worlds apart in process ... I have also found out through my intermingling with some of the rest of humanity ... observations on life ... that most others don't know that they are just in their survival suits too. They don't know this as a 'truth'. They may know it as a fact but not a truth. There is a difference. I do think that most suspect this is true but prefer to ignore it or if they do know this to be true then they sure as hell don't want to have a damned thing to do with the idea. They, like me, for the longest time, were or are more then happy basking in the bliss of 'playful ignorance'. It seemed safer that way, not nearly as hostile, somehow. So, it naturally followed that they would much rather be who they thought were than whom they really are. And of course there are various levels of support that are necessary for me to believe that I am who I think I am. This generally involved me believing you were who you thought you were and you returning the compliment of believing I was who I thought I was, thus we could pretend to be who we thought we were together. Together is the key word because the problem was I couldn't do that alone. This is often mistakenly called friendship or relationship. Actually one of my predominate variations on a theme was that I thought I was a therapist and I needed you to need me or I didn't like you, if the truth were known. That way, things would appear to be safer and easier to understand at least for the moment. It also served me well because as long as I could focus on you I could avoid me. Any bells ring for anyone here! They did for me.
I believe the next key word here is 'appear' because like me, most put the term 'I hope' in front of most everything they did. I know I did. Sort of like blind faith hoping that the right thing . . . whatever that was . . . would happen and we could make it safely on and into what ever is next.
The Joys of Conditional Prayer
'I hope' became the codicil phrase for a deeper belief structure that haunted me for most of my life. I went through life for the longest time with variations on a theme of this codicil hanging off me or being offered up as my daily mantra. "I hope that" or "I pray that" . . . this would happen or not happen or I can have or not have ... whatever it was that was perceived as being the necessity of the moment ... things I thought I needed just to survive ... for the moment. Sort of Dear God get me off the deck of the Titanic and I'll ... Remember, that after the 'hope that or prayer that' part, just fill in the blank(s) with whatever it is that you want to have appear in front of you or whatever it is that you would like have disappear from in front of you.
Translated This Means!
Dear God please give me (fill in the blank) and finally prove once and for all that I am special. . . . But here is the kicker ... Not in your eyes oh Lord but in mine.
There is something backward in that request and it took me years to come up on it and understand that Ready, Fire, Aim was not necessarily the way to do it, but . . .
Dear Lord prove to me once and for all that I am special.
Well, here is the proof . . . You're here and you're having this experience. You're right in the middle of it. Without the specialness of the creation, you would not be here and neither would any of this, but here you are, right smack in the middle, and having a problem with it all at the same time, and here is here for you to be here in. So, if you want to get particular about it and give it a few thoughts, you may want to notice that there is a 'here' to be in. What a gift! Even though most don't notice it as that!
Simple, isn't it, if only you'd notice!
So if you really want to think about proving specialness try this. Try combining the thought of:
All this reality that we seem to a part of, taken together with the thoughts that we think we are thinking, coupled with the idea that if this wasn't here to be part of or thought about, then we would not be here trying to get what it is that it seems we can't get from whoever or whatever it is that we are trying to get it from.
Phew . . . Now there is one to think about.
There really is no other proof when you stop and think about it no matter how you try. So the job at hand seems to be that I have to accept me as me and then I have to consume and process the fact that I am a being ... separate in my own right yet a part of something that is far larger then I can possibly imagine ... all this taken in the midst of something I did not create ... I'm just here ... and the reason is not exactly easy to see ... really quite straight forward if you stop and think about it.
It Is Really Quite Simple. My life is mine and the specialness of my existence is simply proved by my being here in the first place. A Gift of Peace quotes A Course in Miracles nicely as it develops this thought. I quote:
The Pursuit of Specialness
The pursuit of specialness is always at the cost of peace.
You are not special. If you think you are, and would defend your specialness against the truth of what you really are, how can you know the truth?
Specialness always makes comparisons. It is established by a lack seen in another, and maintained by searching for, and keeping clear in sight, all lacks it can perceive.
When peace is not with you entirely, and when you suffer pain of any kind, you have beheld some sin within your brother, and have rejoiced at what you thought was there. Your specialness seemed safe because of it.
The pursuit of specialness must bring you pain.
Forgiveness is the end of specialness. Only illusions can be forgiven, and then they disappear. Forgiveness is release from all illusion.
It is said somewhere or other that God will do for you what you can't do for yourself ... not what you would like to have done for you or what you are too lazy to do or get or too befuddled to do on your own. If you can do it then you have to. That seems to be a great cosmic law. If you can't, then the Greater Power will supply "it" only if "it" is really necessary.
And only if!
When I came to the appreciation of this understanding of the 'Way of Things,' it was easier to believe in the truth of 'whom' I really was and that I was actually having a life and not just lost in one.
There are a few naturally occurring complications along the route called my life path.
The first and foremost is a thing called "The Parents".
We all have some. Some parents are nice about it and some are not. Some are ever present, some disappeared years ago and some left us to our own devices. But if we are here now ... we either have a set or had a set someplace, sometime. Often as not, they are as conspicuous in their absence as they were in their presence. Now if yours are anything like my parents, they had ... some still have ... agendas for you. They want(ed) you to grow up and become somebody … have an ego … be just like them. Sometimes that meant that the 'somebody' they would have liked you to be was in fact "nobody" at all ... but it was their hope and dream that we would develop into some sort of "somebodyness" ... just like them.
But the prerequisite seems to be that as long as the 'somebodyness or nobody-ness' is just like them, or what it is they are or were not, or would have liked to have been or . . . and the variations on that theme become endless then they are the gods of our determination, as far as we are concerned. They held the agenda for our growth in their hands or so it seemed at the time.
This idea may be defined as part of the problem or as part of the conditioning we received, and that really is more semantic and completely depends on your point of view. The problem here in lays, that as children, we actually believed that they know what is best for us. Often that was true and they did know what was best.
That explains why most of us did not play in traffic all that often or snake-handled too much ... but ... that blind faith in those that stood before us as our imagined gods ... actually launched us onto the path of spiritual growth.
Why "launched onto a path of spiritual growth?"
Simply out of the fact that at the very beginning of our life's journey there was a little confusion about who and what was God.
Oh well, best not reveal too much too soon.
There are signposts, benchmarks and station stops along the path. It is essential that before embarking on life's journey, we understand how to read the instructions that were left for us. But first, most of us have to come to terms with and accept the fact that directions were left for us and that hopefully those directions mean something.
Simple Statement of Fact:
We have to be able to read the truth these signposts' hold because our very future depends on us being able to understand what it is that we 'think' we are seeing and what it is that they are really saying.
Carl Sagan used this concept as one of his organizing principals in his book "Contact". It seems that we have to learn how to read the weave of signposts for what they really say without trying to twist the messages into what we think they should be saying. This urge to twist our perception seems to want to happen out of desperation and a deep-seated frustration at having been dumped into a life, into a system, that we never really asked to be dumped into in the first place like: why am I here, really? All of this is a part of the conundrum of life and all of this is part of the journey along the path called life.
Two Opposing Forces
As I began to pay attention to these processes of attempting to appreciate my own life's conundrum, I noticed that there were always two opposing forces that set up in my consciousness. Each with its own set of observations and values, each separate from one another, yet at the same time contingent upon each other, and all was about what it is that I thought I noticed and appreciated about my experiences on the path of life.
It seems that as I paid close attention to these phenomena of ying/yang, black/white, either/or, I was actually beginning to notice the signposts or benchmarks for my journey. I still could not read them, but at least I knew they were there to be read if I could. It seems to follow that the spiritual truth of the message contained in the signpost always had a complimentary egocentric message that offset the truth of the spiritual message contained therein. My conundrum seemed to be to know the difference ... which one was which. Because I knew that sooner or later I would have to use some form of the message as I made my next move along my life's path.
These opposing forces can be defined differentially as 'of Spirit' and 'of Ego'.
One set of variables connects us to 'all that is,' and other keeps us tied to 'our terrible dailyness' of self-seeking definitions, or of having to understand ever more hollow and never satisfactory reasons for "why?" and always leaving a sense of despairing emptiness deep inside.
But neither force reveals its nature until a bite of the apple is taken and swallowed. Sort of resembles being the King's official food taster. The ups are wonderful and the down days are deadly. Either one, spiritual or egotistical has myriad sets of consequences that seem to need endless amounts of unraveling ... that can consume even the most seasoned traveler on the path.
Discernment is what is called for ... but how do I do it by myself? Well you don't. You do it in conjunction with someone or something.
If you are like me, you do take time to speak with a Higher Power but the secret is that you take the time to speak with your Higher Power ... share ... yes I know it is a strange concept ... but actually share. It can be done quietly in your head or sometimes I do it in the middle of traffic. Sometimes sitting alone or laying awake late at night, just thinking about things. Having a deep desire not to be alone, as my wife sleeps and breathes deeply beside me, ever present ... but deeply involved in being who she is in that moment and ever so removed from me ... all at the same time as her body rests against mine. So, I reach out in my mind and from my heart and share with the 'Great Unknown' a few moments about my day, or my wishes or my wants, or about what I think I need, or what I did, or what was funny, or what was not.
Sometimes it's just about my day, no big deal.
Sometimes it's the great prayer of desperation. If only 'You'd' save me from . . . fill in the blank . . . than I'd do . . . fill in the blank . . . I promise I will ...'
Sometimes it's just me simply sharing what it was like to be me today, or what happened during my day; every now and then it is me asking what the Creator wants me to do for Him. Imagine that, I asked if I could be of service.
Coming to terms with accepting that there might be a Higher Power in my life took some time for me to get past, considering my first experiences with a Higher Power my parents.
Once on the other side of that psychological and spiritual ridge, I could see that they were just like me, working as best they could with what they thought they had, but baffled by the signposts and benchmarks just as I am. When I saw this, I could accept a Higher Power into my life. Now I never said that He, She or It was not there all along ... what I said, was, that I could accept It as being there in my life.
This is about where I'd like to pick up the idea I like to call True Confessions of a Therapist or Observations and Conversations on the Passage of Time, with Me, Myself and God.
"Experience Has Taught Us " also flows from this thought.
The ideas and thoughts are simply outlines ... of and ... for deeper experiences, some from me but mostly from others. Not every one of these passages moves a person in the same fashion or the same direction.
What I have learned is that only we can create those supposed mystic, deeper experiences for ourselves. We do this as we begin the exploration of our newly discovered 'truth'. And that process of exploring more deeply into our newfound truths, in and of itself, creates more experience … deeper, subjective expressions … and then those outcomes create more effects and so on and so on. It is really a proactive chain of events that requires only one thing. You and I getting off our collective ass-ends, and doing something for ourselves ... just me for me and with my God, as I have come to know Him, Her or It, us working together.
It seems to be how each individual spiritual path is built. It seems to be there for the building. The idea seems to be 'trusting' that it needs to be built and the journey taken. That is all it takes, just a little faith. Mustard seed size actually. One thought or experience leads to another and to another and another. It's like following the jellybeans and eventually you'll arrive at a place called 'different'.
I have come to notice that the various outcomes of my endeavors have many levels of observation to them but there seems to be a consistency to them that is highly personal. Here is a collection of those observations I have made about myself, my journey, and the effects of my journey on others and me.
There doesn't appear to be a way for me to give someone else what I know. All I can do is help create opportunities whereby they might see "different" for themselves.
When I do attempt to give someone else what I know or what I think I know and then make the fatal mistake of believing I have succeeded in passing on this piece of wisdom, I often discover I have not. I have often discovered to my own chagrin that by thinking I have succeeded in keeping someone from going through one more private, painful little hell, I haven't. And the long run always proves me wrong. That can be disheartening at times. It seems that it is a universal rule that they have to go through that private, painful, little hell for themselves. It is as if it were necessary, a rites of passage, part of the 'deal' of being here, it needed to be done - it seems as simple as that. So…
The truth of the matter seems to be that each person has to learn 'it' for themselves and usually experience it over and over again before the message is ferreted out and understood at the deepest levels of the psyche. And…
They seem to be able to do this better when I have stepped out of the shadow of my good-guy helper role and am just here as a facilitator. So…
It's obvious to me now that many of the problems I have to face in my life are a result of how things were when I was growing up. This seems to be true for just about everybody else too!
It follows then, that my life's conundrum is:
I am here spending the rest of my life suffering for personality traits I never really asked for.
Where is the justice in that?
Well, there isn't any ... is there!
But on the other hand I was never promised justice was I. So
It seems that healing, health and life style are all really the same thing.
They are all simply habits. Habits that will, one way or another, develop along the way. Learned as actions and/or reactions that should become involuntary or habitual at some point. Habitual, and hopefully, helpful, towards discerning my life and what to do with it now that I am in the middle of it.
That's The Theory Anyway!
So it seems that there are more complex conundrums to solve as I move deeper into my journey. It seems that I have to overcome my original "involuntaryisms" - habits - the ones that I picked up early in life to save me from a fate that nearly scared me to death. The ones that helped me originally survive 'til now. I still carry them with me and use them daily. Actually I trip over them now more then I use them but they are and were the habits that I really trust.
Here is the problem: These habits are the 'grandchildren' of those habits I used to survive, in the face of overwhelming evidence that I either wouldn't survive the next few moments or shouldn't have survived those few moments but did.
These 'grandchildren' of my survival traits are all cloaked in a strange aura that seems so inviting and strangely familiar but I am learning that they are dangerous. They seem to work best only in my mind.
What I am coming to learn is that when I (do) attempt to put those old habits into practice in reality ... they hurt, and cause pain for, both others and me.
But they are so familiar, and they are my habit.
One wise soul likened this situation to the person walking around with the Kick Me sign hooked unbeknownst to them on their backside. Eventually one awakens to the fact that what they are doing must change, must go and they have to come to a place of understanding that what they learned 20 or 40 years ago is not what will work now. Then be prepared to work very hard at creating 'new and different'. Be prepared to make mistake after mistake and then work very hard at staying put in this new place in their consciousness that they have created.
To do this they need to be in a place where they can appreciate that they just might have to come out of hiding, and take risks, and learn how to trust someone other than themselves.