Saturday, March 22

Why I Do the Work I Do................... 3/22/14

     Hello everyone.  Here I am again, when I normally check in with the guests of this inn.  How was your day?  Mine, in a word: restful.  I took a four hour nap in the middle of the day. This was followed by seeing The Budapest Hotel at the California
theater, in Berkeley.

One of the Biggest Compliments Ever

      I have worked with one client, "Zelda" for a year and five months.  Timid was she, agitated and fearful.  At least initially.  She encountered abuse.  Plenty.

      One Monday, while working in San Leandro, I found a note on the long, wooden conference table in the office I used.  "Pablo, can you please see a friend of mine at 12:00 noon, after your last client?" it inquired.  After finishing a session, "Barbara, " a client, brought her friend, "Zelda" by the hand, to have a session.

      This new person shuddered, distraught, as we were introduced.  At times during our visit, she clutched my arm, trying to draw from me the peace and calmness she detected I had.  Zelda suffered from panic attacks, no appetite, shame and rage.  Grateful I was for past experience, working in a sub-acute psychiatric hospital for nine years.

       I responded, not reacted, to the horrors and trauma recounted by Zelda.  Any of my colleagues would have sent her to John George Psychiatric Pavilion, right then, understandably so.  Yet, within an hour and a half, she was back in her senses.  Calm.  Collected.  Reassured.

      We set up our next appointment for the following week.  We have visited weekly ever since.

      Last weekend, Zelda visited her family of origin to celebrate a birthday.  A family member----one of many who tormented her as a child---chided her.  Calmly, she said, "I will not tolerate you talking to me this way," and got up, leaving the offender.

      This relative was dumbfounded, his mouth agape, stunned by the calmness and newly found characterological strength Zelda exhibited.  Bully for her.  Really.  When she shared with me her success, I asked her to give me "five," which she did, with a smile.


       Such is the case, when we apply healthy truths above the vulnerable aspects of our personality.  Zelda did.  Enjoying, a re-found dignity, and personal courage she never knew before.  This happens when we have Balcony People---Safe People who undergird us with their love and support.

        Zelda now knows emotional object constancy.  Even when apart from her supportive network---which includes me as her counselor---she draws from the strength she derives from the good company that is now a part of her life.  She squarely placed the wooden stake of her inner confidence into the heart of an emotional vampire that once frightened her, the cause of many of her tears as a young girl.

        Good for her!

       This writer is proud of Zelda's tremendous growth in such a short period of time, overcoming debilitating fears.  Last Sunday she spoke her truth.  She responded, not reacting to the confrontation she encountered.  She is training this victimizer how she deserves to be treated. Others in her family are growing in the wake of the recovery she's demonstrates.  Harmful past legacies are being dismantled, one bit at a time.
 "When one person takes healthy steps, the whole family is bound to improve."   Courage to Change, p 312
       She no longer tolerates unacceptable behavior.  She now realizes that acting like a victim is choice, not a destiny.  (Courage, pp 217, 207, 104, 361; Hope for Today, p 189, One Day At a Time, p 13, 16, 75.)

        How Zelda is remarkably different from the many who suffer mistreatment! (I rarely use exclamation marks, reserving them for only for phenomenal moments, like Zelda's.)  Her life is not a toxic dump of self-pity.  At least, most of the time, now.  Does she still have moments of despair??  You bet, she's human.

       As our session drew to a close, we rose from from our table.  That's when she said it.  This is when she stunned me.  Never a greater compliment did I receive, from any client.


      "Pablo, while I stood my ground with this relative, I imagined you standing by my side.  You didn't saying anything.  You were just there, giving me support.  From your presence, I was encouraged, finding the strength to say and act as I did."

      Thank you "Zelda."  It is my privilege serving you.  Life doesn't get better.  I am witnessing someone move from victimhood and despair to having the inner strength to upend an emotional bully---one who had tormented her for decades.  Stories like these make me thank God for the fulfillment I get from the work I do, giving me An Attitude of Gratitude.

Related Article: 
The Root of Insecurity


Carl H said...

Dear Innkeeper,

Thank you for sharing Zelda's (and your) story. Wow, what courage to change a legacy of fear, via faith and healing. She is our hero of the day!

My Gratitudes on this Saturday night, as it has already rolled-over in its sleep, into early Sunday morning, are...

1. A beautiful message this morning from Dr. Mose Durst about "Building Communities of Loving Families."

2. The equally uplifting gospel music of Josh Cotter's "Father's House Band," with our youngest son Anthony on Bass.

3. A warm and loving family reunion in Walnut Creek this afternoon to celebrate my Mom's 90th Birthday with family and friends from far and wide. To reconnect with some excellent cousins whom I love and have not seen in some time, and in so doing, engaging in some rich dialogue about forgiveness, letting go and healing.

4. A generous, much needed nap this late afternoon.

Pablo said...

Dear Carl,

Amen, to your assessment of Zelda. She is courageous. May her tribe increase. She is an example of what happens when we transcend our default mode of passivity and go beyond the deeply ingrained fears, born from past mistreatment and abuse.

You must have been happy, having the family together, celebrating your mother's special day. Such days are to be treasured. We want others know we love them. Tomorrow is not guaranteed for them, or us.

Thank you, for reading and commenting!

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From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

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From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

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From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.