Sunday, March 19, 2006

Defensiveness

A number of years ago when I was in counseling for child abuse a breakthrough came in my counseling one day when my wife brought home a handout from a class she was attending. The handout mentioned defensiveness. I had understood that concept in the abstract but I had not realized that defensiveness characterized so much of my interaction with other people. That day it dawned on me.

It is difficult to make progress on our healing journey until we recognize where our needs are. I'm glad that my wife had that piece of paper that day that helped me. I understand where my defensiveness comes from. My father did not allow us to make mistakes. If I accidentally broke something or did something else that my father thought was a sign of weakness or something else he disapproved us, he would often beat me. I tried hard to get out of those beatings, but I could never escape them. But I learned to try to defend myself verbally, to try not to get a beating. I transferred that same defensive reaction to others who pointed out something I had done which could have been done better. Now that I understood what I was doing, I could begin to change my behavior. It was difficult but I could begin to trust that not everyone was going to beat me or verbally abuse me or reject me for doing something imperfectly.

There have been other steppingstones along the way that have represented progress in my journey. I wish I could write poetry about each one. But poetry doesn't come to me just any old time. For me poetry largely comes at a moment of inspiration, perhaps a time when some phrase strikes me as something that represents some of my experience. Then I can work with the idea, adding meat to the bones that got the poetic skeleton going. Skeleton is an apt metaphor here, isn't it? Most of us have skeletons of one kind or another in our backgrounds. It helps to deal with them, to open up our closet doors and face the skeletons so they have less power over us.

If you ever feel like you can identify with something I say on this blog, feel free to comment on it by clicking on a Comment link.

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