HIS OWN SUFFERING* Tales of the Hasidim
Whenever the rabbi of Sassov saw anyone's suffering, either of spirit or of body, he shared it so earnestly that the other's suffering became his own. Once someone expressed his astonishment at this capacity to share in another's troubles.
"What do you mean 'share'?" said the rabbi. "It is my own sorrow; how can I help but suffer it?" Martin Buber
NO GREATER SORROW* Four Sufi Classics
There is no greater sorrow – no prison narrower where the perfume is lacking –
than to have to keep company with unkindred spirits. Abu-Ali Rudbari
PRAYER* Learning How to Learn
Khawaja Muinuddin Gharib Nawaz Chisti actually equates prayer with right thought and right action on the ordinary human level: 'Prayer consists in hearing the complaints of the aggrieved and to assist them; to help the needy and the oppressed; to free the people and to free the captives from captivity. All these things,' he emphasized, 'are of great importance.' Idries Shah
A PSALM OF DAVID
Be not silent, O God… For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me,
speaking against me with lying tongues. They beset me with words of hate and
attack me without cause. In return for my love they accuse me, even as I make
prayer for them. So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
YOU CARRY THE CURE IN YOUR OWN HEART
I have never yet met an abused child (at whatever age) who was not crying to be heard…believed…validated.
Emotional abuse is as painful as physical assault, with a pain that can last a lifetime. It leaves no visible marks, but it scars the heart and damages the soul.
When your self-concept has been shredded – when you have been deeply injured and made to feel that the injury was all your fault – when you look for approval from those who cannot or will not provide it – you play the role assigned to you by your abusers.
It's time to stop.
For victims with an idealized notion of 'family,' the task of refusing to accept the blame for their own victimization is even more difficult. For such searchers, the key to freedom is always truth – the real truth – not the distorted, self-serving version served up by the abuser.
Andrew Vachss, from his article, "Emotional Abuse: A Plea for The Wounded" in
Sunday Examiner & Chronicle Parade Magazine, Aug. 28, 1994 here.
THE POET AND THE PHYSICIAN* The Way of the Sufi
A poet went to see a doctor. He said to him: 'I have all kinds of terrible symptoms.
I am unhappy and uncomfortable, my hair and my arms and legs are as if tortured.'
The doctor answered: 'Is it not true that you have not yet given out your latest
'That is true,' said the poet.
'Very well,' said the physician, 'be good enough to recite. '
He did so, and, at the doctor's orders, said his lines again and again.
Then the doctor said: 'Stand up, for you are now cured. What you had inside had
affected your outside. Now that it is released, you are well again. Hakim Jami
NOW AND THEN
As kids we played the same games children always play,
My brothers and sisters and me;
Runnin', skatin', hide-and-seekin' all the live-long day,
For all the world, one happy family.
We didn't understand the shadows or the whispers down the hall,
We were kids and they were grown-ups, that was all.
Now I'm tryin' to fit the pieces to the puzzle of that lie,
While I try my best to show the world a smile,
But sometimes when I'm alone, and please don't ask me why,
The sadness overtakes me, and I cry.
The sun comes up each morning, that's the way that most dreams end.
And children grow up learnin' to survive.
But dreams turn into nightmares for those who must defend
Themselves from the grown-ups in their lives.
And I can't recall the details now or all the words he said,
But my childhood ended in my father's bed.
Well, the pain and shame and anger became something I had to hide,
And I tried my best to keep the world away.
So sometimes when a friend of mine would look me in the eye,
The fear would overtake me, and I'd fly.
A twig is bent, the tree grows on; scars are hidden deep,
And sunshine warms the places it can find.
But the visions and the voices that find you as you sleep,
Disturb the haunted seeds they've left behind.
And the hollow, bitter fruit they bear is nothing like the taste
Of the sweet and simple dreams they have replaced.
And I've spoke the words "I love you" but I could not tell you why.
Guess it's something that I wanted to be true.
So sometimes when she'd look at me with a question in her eyes,
The shame would overtake me and I'd lie.
As evening slowly falls upon our days and years and lives,
We seek and take some refuge on our own.
Protected from the world at large by the weapons we contrive,
We keep ourselves alert, aloof, alone.
And the safety of our solitude is the price we have to pay
To survive the night and face another day.
Well I'd like to make it different, every now and then I try,
But it seems the same no matter what I do.
And some day, no doubt still alone, when life has passed me by,
My years will overtake me and I'll die.
Although the shadows of the past can hide the sun today
And cloud our view of what is yet to be,
I feel a spark deep in my soul that will not fade away,
A fiery voice, dying to be free,
To speak the truth of who I am, out loud and without fear,
To sing my song for all the world to hear.
So raise your voices with me now, we will not be denied.
The treasure's not impossible to find.
Summon up your courage, your passion and your pride,
Feel the power and the strength: "We have survived!"
Wield your power and your strength will thrive.
Find your power and the joy to be alive. J. M.
Secrets are systemic. They are kept by nations, by families, and by individuals.
We keep secret the things we are ashamed of, and the things we fear we cannot face. We also keep secrets when we are intimidated into silence. Within the family, secrets define who is in and who is out, drawing some members into hidden alliances and leaving others out in the cold. When secret-keeping becomes a way of life, secrets and betrayals ricochet like pinballs from one family member to the next, triangulating each in turn.
Secrets can grow like weeds through the generations, sending unexpected tendrils into every corner of a family's life. Secrets require at least avoidance, at worst outright lies that can become a habit, branching into seemingly innocuous areas until whole dimensions of life are off-limits to spontaneous talk. Secrets shape not only relationships, but inner lives. "If you knew, you would not accept me," think the secret keepers, while those kept in the dark grow worried and confused. "Something's wrong. I'm not supposed to notice, and it must be my fault."
When a family with a secret walks into a therapy session, the heaviness is palpable. The secret haunts the room like a ghost, looking over everyone's shoulder, a tense and hovering presence. Everyone waits for the other shoe to drop. When secrets are skillfully uncovered, the truth can make people free. And yet for years the subject of secrets was almost a secret within family therapy itself.
From "Ghosts in the Therapy Room: Cries and Whispers – The Haunting Legacy of Family Secrets" by Evan Imber-Black in The Family Therapy NETWORKER – May-June 1993
CAN WE TALK?
Healing requires words. There is no way around a tragedy or trauma. The only way over is through, and the way you get through is by talking. Shakespeare understood this in Macbeth when he wrote:
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.
I would not have gone down like a kamikaze pilot in my own life if I had started talking years before. Friends help, but therapists are essential for anyone who has been profoundly traumatized. I could not have survived without the professionals at Johns Hopkins. My past was a minefield. Without them to guide me through it, I would have exploded.
The sad thing is that no one could have convinced me to start talking. I had no idea — and could not have been persuaded — that something from so long ago suddenly could take over my life. I want others to know what I learned — if you have been traumatized by abuse, you must find a way to understand and resolve it. Even if your life seems fine at the moment, unresolved trauma neither goes away nor diminishes over time. It can erupt at any time.
Even if the trauma never recurs, its initial impact can have long-term effects. Depression, alcoholism and other addictions, rage, insomnia, nightmares, and low self-esteem are some of the common shoals for people who carry too much emotional cargo. They should lighten the load by finding a supportive therapeutic environment and safe place to feel terrible.
From Come Here by Richard Berendzen and Laura Palmer
REPRESSION* For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-rearing and the Roots of Violence
Loving parents in particular should want to find out what they are unconsciously doing to their children. If they simply point to their parental love, then they are not really concerned about their children's well-being, but rather are painstakingly trying to keep a clear conscience. This effort, which they have been making ever since they were little, prevents them from letting their love for their children flow freely and from learning something from this love.
As I have repeatedly stressed, it is not the trauma itself that is the source of illness but the unconscious, repressed, hopeless despair over not being allowed to give expression to what one has suffered, and the fact that one is not allowed to show and is unable to experience feelings of outrage, humiliation, despair, helplessness and sadness. This causes many people to commit suicide because life no longer seems worth living if they are totally unable to acknowledge all these strong feelings that are part of their true self. Naturally, we cannot require parents to face something they are unable to face, but we can keep confronting them with the knowledge that it was not suffering per se that made their child ill but its repression. I have found that this knowledge often provides parents with an "aha!" experience that opens up for them the possibility of mourning, thus helping to reduce their guilt feelings.
Pain over the frustration one has suffered is nothing to be ashamed of, nor is it harmful. It is a natural human reaction. However, if it is verbally or nonverbally forbidden or even stamped out by force and by beatings, as it is in "poisonous pedagogy," then natural development is impeded, and the conditions for pathological development are created. Alice Miller
PLAYING DEAF AND DUMB* Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
We really know when we are fooling ourselves, but we try to play deaf and dumb to our own self-deception. The situation is the Guru. Situations develop automatically. We do not need to fit ourselves into special roles and environments … limiting ourselves, pigeonholing ourselves into narrowly defined sets of circumstances. We spend so much energy focusing our attention in just one place that to our surprise, we discover that there are whole areas we have missed. Chogyam Trungpa
'Face the simple fact before it becomes involved.
Solve the small problem before it becomes big.'
The most involved fact in the world
Could have been faced when it was simple,
The biggest problem in the world
Could have been solved when it was small.
The simple fact that he finds no problem big
Is a sane man's prime achievement. Lao-Tzu
SOLVING PROBLEMS* Reflections
No problem can really be solved merely by assuming that it can be solved and
that its solution lies in hard work – any more than that its solution lies in inaction.
Yet so much the reverse do the facts appear, that rabble-rousers and pretended
mystics use the problem-solving argument to keep people busy.
Solutions come through knowledge: so much so that where there is real
knowledge, there is no real problem. Idries Shah
THIS WORLD* The Mathnavi
This world of illusions, fancies, desires, and fears
Is a mighty obstacle in the Traveler's path.
Thousands of ships, in all their majesty and pomp,
Have gone to pieces in the Sea of Illusion. Rumi
TRUTH and ILLUSION
Funny thing about truth and illusion… If you hear a story enough times,
you'll start to believe it, whether it makes any sense, or has any truth in it,
or not. I have noticed that the human mind – given enough time without proper
attention and correctives – tends to accept the absurd without question,
regardless of the consequences.
Rule No. 5 in The Private Investigator's Handbook clearly states:
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE OBVIOUS
I remember arguing with them
how righteously I stood my ground
They laughed and shook their heads
their eyes hardened and wise
with third grade worldliness
and during class I could hear their whispers
I feared for them really
surely they would rise to taste the bitter
disappointment of coal, or rotten potatoes
in their stockings
After all, the evidence
I had personally, on two occasions
almost spotted him flying in the distance
in the dim light of dusk over the valley
And my brother
sneaking out of bed early
had seen his boot go around the corner
in the twinkling lights
he had told me so
And when I arose
the cookies and milk were always gone
and even the celery I had left for the reindeer
had been nibbled on
And of course there were the presents
oh, the presents
spreading out, overlapping around the tree
the blinking lights dancing on the paper
the splayed bounty of my wildest dreams
there could be but one explanation
for such magic
So I held my ground
with the strength that comes from knowing
And one day
a family trip
together we went to the harbor
and somehow, who knows
it came up
and again I defended
this time to my older brother and sister
the truth I carried with me
My mother watching
she must have thought
he's eight years old
and maybe I've waited too long
She took me into the car
to be alone
just the two of us
as my brother and sister laughed
and the men working on their boats ignored us
And she spoke
gently, so as not to bruise
the sweet fruit of my childhood
I sat numbly
as her words took meaning
her eyes full of my pain
mine full of tortured images
my father's wry smile
as I held up the empty cookie plate
to prove he had been here
while we slept
I looked at my mother
and my eyes filled with tears
she held me
wishing it could be different
And I knew then
in her arms as I cried
that things would never be quite the same
I looked out the car window
at my dad
my brother and sister
and I knew I would have to go out there
but I wasn't ready
and I stayed in the car for a long time.
Poem by Jim Brumm, eNVee Newsletter, Napa CA, Dec. 1991
It is only to be expected, of course, that if we have been wrong for
so very long, we shall be less inclined to admit the truth than if we
did not already have a vested interest in error. Dr. Saleh Hamareh
(Click on* asterisks to see book titles.)