Friday, May 26, 2006

Child abuse or child discipline

The Bene Diction blog has just posted on child abuse intended to be child discipline and administered within the context of a deeply religious environment. I encourage you to read that blog post.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

a gift

My wife and I are away from home right now. She needed to visit a medical specialist in a large city for her annual checkup. While there we got to renew our friendship with a buddy of mine from college days and his family. We stayed with them for two evenings. One of their sons was with them for supper our last evening. Somehow--I don't remember now--he mentioned something about some poetry he had written. My ears perked up and I expressed interest in it. I asked if I might read some of his poetry sometime. He's a quiet young man, working through some issues in his life. He left the table and soon returned with a collection of his poetry which he was happy for us to look at. I got two booklets of poetry I had self-published from our guest bedroom and brought them to the table. After awhile the young man asked if we could each read one of our poems. Great idea! He read a touching poem. I affirmed him, a man, at being able to express tender emotions through poetry, something our American culture does not always affirm. His girlfriend sat next to him and I asked him if he had ever written poetry to her. He said he had written her some, as well as long letters. I looked at her face and she was glowing.

I read two of my poems from my book Writing the Wrongs, "Safety's Smile," and "Piggyback." I was caught by surprise when my voice cracked and I nearly started crying when I got to the point in Safety's Smile where I had written about the role our son has had in my own recovery journey. Of course, it was fine for me emotions to show, but, again, our culture does not easily affirm that for men. I'm sure it helped the young man to realize that he is OK to feel the emotions that he does and to be able to express them verbally. I hope he marries the lovely young lady who sat beside him and whose face glowed as she thought about the ways that her boyfriend had shared his soul with her through tender words.

Later in the evening, after the couple left, the young man's parents told us that I had given their son a gift by taking an interest in his poetry. It was special to me to hear that. It was a gift to me to have him share his poetry with us. Had it not been for our common interest in expressing our feelings through our poetry, I probably would not have gotten to know the depth of his person.

There are many different ways that we can touch the soul of another. There are different ways that our own souls are touched and by which we experience healing. May we take the opportunities that come our way to show interest in the things that are so meaningful to others but which they may not have made very public. Sometimes when we do so we give a gift and get a gift in return.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

how therapy went

I had some anxiety before my first session with my new therapist yesterday. But I relaxed as the session began. My therapist seems competent and compassionate. She has experience working with adult survivors of child abuse. A friend had tipped me off that we would probably work on a family chart, so I did a genogram before the session. Sure enuf, the therapist asked if she could work up a family chart on me. I said, "Sure, and I've even got one started if you'd like to use it as a start." She did. The hour went by too quickly. My wife and I fly off on a week long trip today. When we return I'll have my next session.

It's been more than a dozen years since I last had therapy. I think these sessions will be more productive that my first ones. I have grown a lot since those first ones. Now I understand better what is going on. In my first sessions I didn't understand what was going on and my therapist didn't want to let me know what was going on. I think he might have been trained in a therapeutic model where the therapist says very little and expects the counselee to come up with things to talk about. I think he did his best, but he said he had never worked with an adult survivor of abuse. However, unlike today, at that time I had no choice in where I got therapy or who was my assigned therapist. It was all required by my employer. Lots of shock. Not pleasant.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Therapy, again

Tomorrow I will start therapy with a new therapist. It has been about 15 years since I last had therapy. That took place at least once a week for three years. I did not sleep well last night. I went to bed last night feeling anxious about starting with a new therapist. If any of you have comments for helping me reassure my brain that it's going to be OK, I'd welcome them. Thanks.

Perhaps I can post on some of the major topics we discuss in therapy. I know that here are some I feel a need to address:
anger management
the lie from the abuse: "You're no good!"
panic attacks
strong startle reflex

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Prodigal Aspersions

Real Live Preacher has just blogged about Cynthia, their church's poet laureate. Cynthia has now begun to share her thought-provoking poetry on her new blog named Prodigal Aspersions. Cynthia addresses some of life's difficult issues. She clearly is a good poet. Some of her poetry addresses issues which we deal with here on Wrong Words. I have added Prodigal Aspersions to my blogroll. You may want to do the same for your blog.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Depression is gray

For the first few days of last week I had the largest elevation in depression in a long time, probably several years, even though I'm maintaining an appropriate level of a good anti-depressant that I've taken for years. It startled me to have some of the old feelings of grunginess and hopelessness return from the old days of really bad depression. There were some events in my life that could have contributed to the increased depression (I have very little, if any, depression most of the time anymore). I had just completed a major phase of a work project and there was a normal letdown from that, with part of me wishing there was more exciting (for me!) discovery to do in that research project. Then my wife left to attend a week of meetings in South America. I knew I would be lonely without her. Midday through the week the depression lifted, which was a relief.

In any case, here's a poem I wrote a number of years ago about how depression has felt for me:


Darkness descends,
surrounds, smothers.
Prisoner longs for light.
Day dawns,
but uninvited ugly
night and light
mixed in mind
produces persistent pain
of groggy gray.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Child abuse in the name of God

The most recent post on the Bene Diction blog is about disciplining children so harshly in the name of God that the discipline becomes abuse, sometimes fatal.

I remember my own abusive father, a faithful member of a conservative church, reciting to me this Bible verse:
Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. (Ephesians 6:1)
I also remember that there were times, when it was safe enough, that I encouraged my father to think about the Bible teaching to him, just three verses later:
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Children need to have healthy boundaries set for them by their parents. When they cross those boundaries they need to be disciplined in healthy ways. In this process children must not be abused!

I encourage you to read the post from the Bene Diction blog as well as links within that post.