Surprise Therapy

Recently, I had an opportunity to talk candidly with someone who greatly resembled an authority figure who was prominent during many years of my early childhood. She was curious and asked me about my childhood, what kind of child I was, if I was philosophical as a child or not.

I found myself spilling the beans on many issues I had as a child, which I would never have disclosed to such a person when I was young. I talked about how I related—rather how I did not relate—to social groups and how I was generally treated by other children.

I spoke about it easily, a-matter-of-factly, and she listened and nodded. She commiserated with me on a few points.

I enjoyed the conversation, but thought nothing of it for a while.

That evening, while at home, I found myself going through various memories and issues I had, processing them, talking to myself about them, thinking about things I wish I had said and to whom and how I wish I had said them.

I realized that my younger self needed a good talking to that he never got. He needed to have what he was going through discussed and explained to him from an adult perspective. He needed to learn about understanding people, opinions, biases, and the reactions people have to various phenomena and why they have the reactions they do.

I needed to understand that people often react out of ignorance, social conditioning, or out of something base, animal. The fact that person or even a whole group of people is/are being ugly to you doesn’t mean that you are ugly. What it certainly means, however, is that they are being ugly. A person should understand these issues in a way that enables  him or her to realize that another person’s ugliness does not reflect on oneself. It reflects on the other person.

I also needed to learn about values, social values, and how they work—that different cultures have different values, different beliefs about what is good, bad, ugly, beautiful, worthwhile, worthless, and so forth. These things are not cut into stone. They are often arbitrary. There is something of value to be found in every human being as he or she is. No one should have to feel like he or she has to put on an act to be worthwhile, accepted, or lovable. It does not matter what a group thinks or communicates about their opinions about your worth. It is what you realize about yourself that matters.

I went to sleep and had some unusual dreams in which I started to take charge of events. There was one part of the dream where I took a gun and fired it at bandits. Usually in my dreams guns misfire or something else happens that makes the gun useless. In this dream, however, I fired the shots confidently and scared the hell out of the bandits and made them think twice about their shenanigans, letting them know that if they were violent, then I’d be violent too and that they’d have to pay for it—maybe more than they were willing to.

After I woke up, I was beset by a series of ideas.

It occurred to me that understanding alone isn’t enough. One must have the courage to face that of which one is afraid. It is ok to have fear. You will never rid yourself of it. What is important is that you learn to be yourself even though you have fear—to somehow become comfortable with it and be able to be yourself and respond as yourself while within its presence.  Live your own truth. Give testimony to your truth when others try to squelch it.

Then you can try to lessen or rid yourself of fear. If you try to do it before then, you will simply still be afraid of fear. You will be avoiding fear. Fear must be faced, and it must ultimately be faced down.

So, no, fear. Not today. Not now. I’m willing to take the risk and pay the price for being myself.

I would like to somehow make it easier to be courageous and to face my fear. I know that this is trying to avoid fear, but I would seriously like to have a little something in my corner helping me out in times of trouble.

I think I am going to make a list of many times I have been courageous in various ways and go through those experiences in my mind until I learn something that might help me when the proverbial shit hits the fan or it looks like it will.

Long story short, it was a wonderful thing to have serendipitously told an authority figure something I wish I had said, and said and discussed often, over 35 years ago. It was very therapeutic. I had no idea that doing so would have such an effect.