approaching therapy

musings as they come, and as they evolve …

don’t be nice – be real

without comments

That’s the title of a book by Kelly Bryson. I really do admire his work and perspective.

And then I read this quote in Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, by Richard Bach. New York: Dell Publishing, 1977, p. 59:

Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.

But I like to question things.
So I ask, “really?”

Is that true for you?
If you can’t speak your truth, would you rather be dead?
Live free or die?

For you, are there some needs which may be more important than authenticity?
How about safety? A roof over your head?
Would you choose to hold your tongue in exchange for what scraps you do get in your relationship with your partner?

It’s easy for therapists to exhort people to “be authentic” and to suggest to them that they aren’t responsible for someone else’s reactions.

But just b/c you aren’t responsible for someone else’s experience doesn’t mean you don’t have to deal with that other person’s reactions. It’s what my teacher Judye Hesse calls the game of “truth AND consequences.”

What if you tell your partner that you love him and then he withdraws because he’s afraid to allow himself to receive love for fear that if he allows himself to receive, then he’ll also allow the possibility of loss, and now he’s admitted vulnerability, and that’s not a position he wants to put himself in. Or what if he yells at you back and tells you to stop taking care of him, and gives you the icy shoulder for three days?

Or what if you tell your partner you are disappointed that you didn’t get to spend some time with him this weekend and he just turns it back on you and gets on your case for the time you went out with a friend of yours two months ago, and he won’t stop yelling at you until he’s had the last word. Is it worth it to say anything?

Would you stay in this relationship? Would you rather be alone?

Sure, you can take responsibility for your own experience — you can try and manage what comes up in you in the face of your partner’s reactive display and soothe yourself. But how much tension and coldness can you stand?
And sure, you can always heed Jim Morrison’s advice and just “walk out of town.”

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Written by David

October 11th, 2010 at 9:39 pm

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