Fools Rush In…Early Thoughts On The Abuse Scandals

As a therapist, I have wanted to write this piece for a while now, but I didn’t want to seem like I was “mansplaining”. Even now, I wonder, but I promise I won’t excuse anyone, so see if this helps…

When I see clients who are beginning to deal with trauma, I describe the healing process like this: A traumatic event happens, and it’s like someone put it in a bottle. If it happens in a healthy place, you simply pour it out to deal with it. But if not, it’s like someone put a cap on the bottle. The cap is something like shame, or fear, or blame, or people pretending it didn’t happen. In any case, what was once a possibly benign thing isn’t anymore. Inside the bottle, it rots, festers, and/or ferments. The longer it does, the more pressure builds up. When the cap is lifted, the whole thing shoots out of the bottle with an explosion. There really is no way to control the explosion. It has to happen. After that, you can clean up the mess, and see what’s in the bottle, which is probably a lot smaller than it felt when it exploded — still gross, but now ready to be dealt with, and poured out.

This is what happens for the individual when trauma happens. It’s also what happens in society. For centuries now, abuse, assault and harassment have happened to women (and some men), and it felt horrible. For whatever reasons — the need to eat while having no means of support but the abuser, the fear of losing children to the system, being told that they “wanted it”, are to blame for it because they are women, or whatever oppressive systems there are, the cap was put on the bottle.

It’s a big bottle, and it’s fermented a long time, so when the cap is removed, there is going to be a big “boom”, and it will feel un-nerving and violent and larger than anyone could have imagined, and it will go everywhere. That’s where we are as a society right now. This will go on for awhile until the pus is done. Then we, as a society will clean up the mess, see what’s left in the bottle, have less fear about the stuff still there, and deal with what’s left.

During the explosive period, there really is nothing to do but let it happen. It’s natural and has to happen. It’s futile to try to put the cap back on it. It’s simply too much pressure to fight with. Moreover, we shouldn’t even try if we want to heal. When that part is over, the rest is a whole lot more manageable, and maybe there’s very little left in the bottle to be poured out. We’ll see, and then w’ll deal with it, in the end, we’ll deal with it and move on to a new and better, much more stable, place. I know this because the original trauma has already been survived. It’s already inert now, and a lot easier to deal with.

Ok. If we’re in the explosive phase, it’s going to be scary, it’s going to be stressful, some things that we didn’t mean to get broken will be broken. Good people (men who have matured), innocent bystanders (see Savannah Guthrie and Gayle King) will be effected when they didn’t even do anything wrong. There will be some mishaps. It’s impossible to avoid, and we’ll have to grieve their losses. Then, we’ll take stock and deal with it calmly and without uproar, and process it all, making sure it doesn’t happen again.

So, that’s what to expect.

Here’s what will be left:

1) Among the millions of Truths being told, there will be a few lies. People who are psychopathic or people who are trying to avoid some other penalty or truth, will use this as a time to mis-use the situation. This does not make the Truths any less real, but they will make it hard to separate out what’s what. We’re going to need a way to deal with this.

2) There will be degrees of illness in the men, (and women) because everybody has been affected by this poison. We will see that there is a difference between a comment which wears down resistance, a grope which is irritating,, and the God-awful horror of the serial rapist. This is a big deal and will take a lot of discernment on our part. None of them are right or justifiable, and both are painful no doubt, but “akin to rape” is not the same as “actual rape”, in the same way that a paper cut is not losing a limb. Different size of tragedies should create different responses and different treatments. The trick is to keep what’s saving while getting rid of the pus. This may be easier said than done, but it is worth doing. The determinant here is the amount of damage done to the victim not the supposed “worth” of the perpetrator to society. If we had relied on “worth of the perpetrator” to serve as the factor to be taken into account, Matt Lauer would still have his job, and many women would still be suffering.

3) There will be levels of apologies. There will be the person who apologizes because their publicist said to, the person who is starting to understand it was wrong, and there will be the person who really means it. Amazingly, there will also be the person who refuses to apologize, because… well, they’re evil. Apologies are necessary for healing society and relationships, but they are not the end of the process. If nothing changes, nothing changes.

4) Changes in understanding and behavior both need to be made. Many, or more most, people will grow from it.Many will not.

5) Now comes the hard part: figuring out what needs to happen from there. I’m hoping something like Truth Commissions, which believe that mercy leads to truth and justice, would be a part of it, but that’s not my call. Shame and anger aren’t going to help us heal, as much as they seem like they should.

There aren’t a lot of solutions here, but it’s not my place to offer solutions to this crisis. That’s for victims to determine. It’s only my job to say what I know about the process. I hope this helps.

Resisting Hate With Peace,

John

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A Retelling

And behold, in the first year of the Trump administration, a pundit asked Jesus “Who is the strongest political candidate in the race… is it the one whose base watched Fox News or the one whose base watched MSNBC?. People are asking on Facebook and your answer will be placed against theirs. Jesus responded: “What exactly does a politician do?”. The pundits asked, in unison, “They wield power and affect the lives of those around them”. Jesus answered, “The person who does that best”.

But the troll, seeking to justify himself, said “And who is that?”.

Jesus replied, “There was a town nearby the capital of a country, not so far that it had no influence, but not so close that it wasn’t independent and free-thinking.” And lo, there was a town looking to elect a candidate from their district. The town was burdened by a changing economy, a lack of jobs for years, poor education, a lack of food, and rampant addictions had fueled a great anger amongst the people which led to violence among its citizens…

Three candidates approached the people of the town. One was a Law-and-Order candidate who said to the people, “I understand your anger. I feel the same way. I’ll go to the Capitol and give them what for! They can’t tell us how to run our lives while desecrating our Laws and Traditions! I’ll bring your anger to them!” He threatened to use his anger to overthrow the educated, elite people in the town if he won. That candidate lost.”

“The second candidate had compassion for the people, but no knowledge of how to fix things, as they didn’t agree with the Laws and Traditions of the people. They were determined to rid the backward ways of the people. That candidate also lost”.

“There was a third candidate, a transgender woman, who both loved the people and knew how to fix things, because she knew the law and had compassion because she understood their pain. She made no such promise of retribution. That candidate won”.

Jesus asked the troll, “Who do you think was the strongest candidate?”. The troll grumbled… “The one who won.”

“And how did that candidate win?”, Jesus asked.

The troll, lacking any understanding, said, “I’m as confused as you are”.

Jesus answered, “Because she cared about the people, including those she didn’t agree with. of Go and do likewise”.

And the troll remained confused.

Resisting with Peace,

John

John

We Were ALL Right! 

I frequently tell clients that they know what they see and feel.  America, you know what you see and feel. All of you.  American government does not work. It hasn’t for quite some time. You work harder and get less. Your kids can’t afford college, but school departments don’t fund High Schools. They can’t. The money is gone to politicians and bankers and lobbyists and lawyers, and yes, politicians who are all of those, depending on whether they are in office or out of it. 

Yes, many elected officials no longer go into the job to represent you. They go into office to represent themselves. They like the power. They like writing the rules to benefit themselves. They like getting rich and having the “freedom” to get richer.

Now, here’s the thing. Is Donald Trump corrupt? Yes, in ways we can’t even imagine yet. Is Hillary Clinton corrupt? With Donna Brazile’s new book coming out, it seems that they answer is yes, as well. Both things can be true. Are Donna Brazile’s hands clean. I gather they aren’t. The system is rigged. And we have been too busy fighting among ourselves to notice.

In the last election, populism raised its head. On the right, people were fed up with Clinton and voted for Trump. On the left, people were fed up with every Republican that wants to turn back the clock and bows to the god of “trickle down”. Meanwhile, 90% of Americans lives don’t work financially. Yes, Bill, “It is the economy, stupid”. What you did about it didn’t help. Nor did what George W did. I still think Obama was a statesman, and a good man, but that doesn’t matter anymore. He may have been too late to save politics, especially post- Citizen’s United. In any case, he’s not the President anymore, and he’s not coming back. 

So what’s the solution? We are the solution. If it’s not working, make it work. 

Since some politicians are still in it to represent us, support them. You know if they are. Your life works better than many. But if your elected official is in it for the power, or the money, get involved in politics yourself. My friend Rick is. Other people are. Even if you think you don’t have the brains God gave a horse, could you be any worse than who is in power now? If you have an iota of morality, intelligence, and willingness to serve others, to make people’s lives better, you’ve got what it takes! The rest is style points and details. You can figure it out from there. The joy of having this many corrupt politicians, is that you — even on your worst day, could do better than that. Why? Because you know what you see, America. You know what you see.

Resisting with Peace,

John