Games We Play

Eric Berne, in his 1964 Games People Play, showed us a side of ourselves we perhaps had not seen.  His list of ‘games’ touched such a chord that thereafter and even now we can hear someone label an attitude of another as a game of ‘Ain’t it Awful’ or ‘Blemish.’

Berne showed how impossible it is to stop someone’s game, no matter how many approaches we take.  And even labeling others’ games may also be a projection of our own.

It is unfortunate that we seem to spend so much time playing personality games that either no one can win or  in order for one to win someone has to lose.  What we all really want are satisfactory relationships with each other.  What we really want is not another episode of ‘Mine’s Better Than Yours’ or ‘Yes, But…’ but rather a game-free environment where we can laugh and joke and exchange creative ideas.  Or at least that’s what something deep inside us wants.

Sometimes I find if I exaggerate the awfulness or suggest a preposterous solution or switch to the awfulness of something that is really quite delightful, I can change the direction of a conversation.  Often it is not easy.  I think perhaps we’ve forgotten how to give each other pleasure and meaning in conversation.  And perhaps this comes from our inability to give ourselves authentic pleasure.

Berne talks about our deep desire for intimacy in relationships, not in sexual terms but rather in terms of our deepest self–the self that wants to be whole, that wants to embrace all of life in order to extract the most meaning, that wants to ponder and explore.  I am convinced that the energy of the universe is concentrated on that win-win desire for everyone.

Mottos We Adopt

From a great deal  of pondering over all my previous negative behavior, I began to see some mottos I had adopted early in my life.  It was easy to find the ‘Be Strong’ that I decided would protect me from punishments like that I received from the crying incident.  And my ‘Be Strong’ also kept me from shedding tears over much sadness that warranted them.

It took a while before I saw the other mottos. ‘Be Right’ was surely the one that had kept me from ever apologizing to my family.  ‘Be Powerful’ fed my need to be in control of everything possible.

I had no idea, however, that my mottos were so evident to others outside my family.  After my Humpty Dumpty transformation experience, I had an opportunity to visit with an elderly gentleman who had been a member of the Worship Committee at my church when I had been the chair.  When I told him I felt like I was a completely different person from the one I had been for decades, he replied, “Well, I hope so.  I decided in that committee that I didn’t want to be on your train or in the way of it!.”  We both laughed at his insight and I appreciated his revelation.

My conviction is that no matter how we are perceived to the contrary, the mottos we choose for ourselves are our best attempts to improve on ourselves–make ourselves into good people–the best we can be.

My mother gave me a motto at a  young age–‘Don’t Embarrass the Family.’  It is only just now obvious to me that her embarrassment at my three-year-old crying incident was the deciding factor.  Throughout my growing up, she often reminded me of this directive.  There must be something in my personality that continued to make my family fear I would do something that reflected badly on them because one of my sons seemed at an early age to give me the same motto.  Or maybe the mottos we give others are merely projections of facets of our personality we haven’t adequately dealt with.

Paradoxically, our mottos need to be given up in order for them to be authentically incorporated into our personality.  The ‘giving up’ manifests itself in the opposite of the motto.  In my three-day crisis, there was nothing strong or powerful about me.  I experienced just the opposite.  And in my Great Confession I admitted all the ‘not rightness’ (unrighteousness?!) about myself.  Only after the crisis did I emerge with a genuine strength and sense of power that I never had before.

My motto now is simply ‘Be.’  And I think the same is intended for everyone.  Out of the essence of our authentic Being emerges a wholeness that needs no other mottos.

Fertilization

Isn’t there something deep inside us that wonders if there is more to life than the best we have experienced? If we’re honest with ourselves, I think the answer for at least some of us is yes.

There is a spiritual fertilization that must take place if we are to be able to experience life in all its fullness. Both male and female parts of our personality are required. The egg resides in the unconscious and, like all eggs, contains the essence of life, the potential of a new being. It awaits the sperm of the conscious mind. The seed. The planting of permission.

Perhaps all the duality of the external world is trying to point us to the duality within ourselves. And perhaps all the tension we see between opposites externally is pointing us to the tension within that needs to be resolved.

Tension is resolved in the world when people of opposing views meet and agree on a peaceful, creative way of dealing with each other. The same is true within. All duality needs union where, as in the Hegelian dialectic, opposites come together in a synthesis that is greater than the sum of the two parts.

This is no more true than within the individual personality. The unconscious yearns to be unified with the conscious. Our conscious ego must want something more than it can provide for itself and be willing to give of itself so that union may be achieved.

Unlike most human biological yearnings, the feminine unconscious is the more wiling of the two. Eager. Obsessed, actually. So much so that it is constantly sending up invitations. Teasers.

But the conscious is a do-it-yourself kinda guy. A take-charge ruler, decision maker, multi-tasker and paramount achiever. It fails to recognize that its most authentic joy and creativity lies beyond its control.

For many of us a crisis must occur before our masculine conscious (rational control feature) becomes desperate enough to take paper and pencil and engage the inner feminine (a.k.a. Inner Wisdom). But the Inner Wisdom is available to us at all times. We do not need to wait for a crisis.

Humpty’s Hard Shell

Humpty’s arrogance and self-confidence seem to come from his belief that his shell is durable enough to adequately protect him. And what about us? What makes our shell grow thicker and stronger? What makes us think we are adequately protected?

Life situations, where we might have felt vulnerable, might have felt hurt by someone’s penetrating criticism but where we were able to ignore or counter the attack, contribute to a thickening and strengthening of our shell. Our accomplishments help as well. Also our ability to cope and control.

Humpty convinces himself that the King will not allow harm to come to him. We, however, come to believe we don’t need a King to protect us. We have learned how to protect ourselves. We are invincible. And besides, we’ve been perched on our wall so long we’re certain we can keep ourselves from falling.

Remember, Humpty, like all eggs, if they have been fertilized, should develop into a new creature. In order to emerge from his shell, the chicken must be strong enough to force his way out. If he is not able to peck through his shell, he simply dies inside. No one comes to his aid. Another case of survival of the fittest.

And what about us? We cannot imagine wanting out of what we have worked so hard to establish. We can’t imagine destroying what we’ve worked so hard to harden. And if we did feel a yearning to peck our way out, we doubt our beaks would be strong enough to penetrate the impenetrable.

Something must happen to make us want to emerge and that same something must be the enabler as well as the catalyst. That something is found through the deep desire for something more.

Being OK

I think Humpty Dumpty’s arrogance in the Lewis Carroll classic, and our own, must come from a sense of insecurity. If we felt genuinely OK about ourselves, wouldn’t we be inclined to believe that others are basically OK as well?

Thomas Harris, in his 1967 I’m OK—You’re OK , delineates four situations of OK-ness or the lack of. I agree. Early in life (for me, it was the punishment for crying at age three and a half), something happens to propel us out of our feeling of safety and security and into one of not OK-ness. As we grow, our attitude may morph from ‘I’m Not OK, You’re OK,’ into ‘I’m Not OK and you aren’t either; or I’m OK but you’re Not’—all thinly camouflaging the continuation of our deeply-rooted feeling of Not OK-ness.

Harris also talks of the Parent-Adult-Child alive within each of us, each of which is constantly interacting with the others. My interpretation of his explanation is that our inner Parent, originally nurturing, becomes a judging Tyrant, a constant source of criticism of the Child. And the Child, the source of authentic feelings in the psyche, begins to feel like an Orphan, deprived of the nurture and love it needs to thrive. The Adult, the part that functions effectively in the environment, begins to feel l like a Victim of both inner and outer forces.

Is it any wonder then that all these inner Not-OK feelings would erupt in arrogance, anger, and projection?

In the 1970s I read an explanation of projection in human relationships, how we identify and judge in others the very faults that we have not addressed in ourselves. The idea interested me greatly, but it took nine years before I could finally see the reality of it in myself!

Our Inner Wisdom seeks to transform all our manifestations of not-Ok-ness into an OK-ness that erases negative attitudes and behaviors and makes us genuinely OK. What is needed is our engagement with an Inner voice until we come to trust that it can do what we most desire and haven’t been able to do for ourselves.

Alice’s Arrogant Humpty

Wanting her to be familiar with Lewis Carroll’s chapter on Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass, I had my visiting 10-year-old granddaughter read it with me. Afterward we discussed what we had read. She commented, “Well, I didn’t know Humpty Dumpty was like that! I thought he was a nice egg.”

Humpty’s arrogance is obvious. He is furious that Alice should know a rhyme about him. He emphasizes, as they discuss it, his importance to the King who, Humpty is certain, will not allow any harm to come to him. He discounts Alice’s name with the argument that a name must mean something—tell something about the shape or character of a person. And he is quite proud of his own. (Incidentally, the name Alice means ‘of noble birth; princess.’)

The conversation continues unsatisfactory as Humpty dismisses all of Alice’s mannerly attempts to befriend him. He expounds on his control over his environment, boasting that he makes words work hard for him and uses them to mean whatever he wants them to mean.

He tells of orders that he gives others, outraged when they are not immediately obeyed. He recites a poem he has made about the demands he made of some fish. We are left wondering what is going on at the end of his poem where he finds that the door leading out of his house is locked and he cannot open it.

I wonder if we’re not a little like Humpty—a little too proud of ourselves. A little too smug about our control over our environment. A little too boastful of our work ethic. A little too disdainful of others who haven’t quite accomplished what we have.

I wonder where this arrogance comes from. And I wonder if this arrogance might be locking us in our own homes—in our own shells

Humpty’s Tall Wall

The Humpty Dumpty metaphor continues to intrigue me. In all the cartoons I’ve collected there is a wall. Either Humpty is sitting on top of it or he has fallen off and lies in pieces at its base.

In my research I find that Humpty Dumpty is the perennial favorite rhyme among pre-schoolers and older. Perhaps it is the rhythm of the rhyme or the rhyme itself—with its too-long last line. Perhaps it is the absurdity of an egg sitting on a wall—and the obvious understanding that eventually it will roll off. Perhaps it is the fact that the egg is always pictured as if it had human characteristics and could carry on a conversation. Whatever the appeal, we can ask any random child if he knows the rhyme and he’ll probably recite it.

In psychological terms, I argue that the wall represents the inevitable precipice that our psyche is forming all the time that we are establishing ourselves as competent humans in a world where competence is required

Competence and protection are our watchwords. We work to be able to function in the world and also harden our shell to protect ourselves. This shell-hardening begins early in childhood, at the moment we feel wounded by someone or something and subconsciously resolve to try to keep that from happening again.

Mine was the incident where I cried to keep my mother from leaving me when she took me to my Sunday School class right after my younger sister was born. I was three and a half. She stayed but was embarrassed, later told my father, and I was humiliated by the punishment. Something in my little psyche resolved at that moment not to cry, and for 40 years the hard shell I manufactured honored that resolve.

But the wall grows taller under us and the danger of falling increases. We’re so busy hardening our shell that we do not notice. Then one day perhaps we look down and are amazed. And the wall continues to grow taller.

This wall and the falling off it represents the crisis whereby the new being is hatched out.

 

Going Around in Circles

If we could change ourselves into the calm, creative, life loving persons we want to be, we would have already done just that. Who doesn’t want to feel peaceful, guilt-free, productive? Getting what we want is not so easy. No matter how often we bombard ourselves with affirmations. No matter how many good deeds we do to assuage our guilt. No matter how many craft classes we enroll in.

If we could consciously, with our own will power, change what we want to change in and around us, we would miss what is even better. We would think our rationality is the best thing we have going for us and never open ourselves to the full resources of the unconscious.

Joseph. C. Pearce says that all the creativity we individually and collectively manifest is but about 5% of what the unconscious can produce in us. Imagine! And feelings of guilt and low self-esteem are simply the garbage we have collected which keeps the unconscious from emerging into our consciousness with its power.

We need not fear that giving our Inner Wisdom permission to do what is necessary to eliminate the garbage is going to leave us unmotivated and without direction. (One Christian friend of mine told me he was convinced that without guilt he wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning.) On the contrary, with the garbage removed, our original self emerges—curious, creative, and able to be totally present in the moment so that life in its fullness can be experienced.

The collective confessions and petitions of a religious worship service will not serve, however, as the necessary engagement of our head and heart in genuine dialogue with our innermost self. Each must find his own way, initiate his own conversation. At least, that was my experience.

Engaging in Inner Dialogue

Two of my friends have had life-changing results from inner dialogue. Both, as their cancer returned a second time, were encouraged by their spiritual directors to dialogue directly with the disease. One told me she had an amazing epiphany and learned extremely important information about herself. The other said she began her dialogue considering the cancer her arch-enemy and ended the dialogue befriending and being befriended by it. Both are cancer free and have been for quite some time.

We need not feel something on the inside is eating us alive in order to achieve positive results from a written dialogue. Jungian analyst and writer Robert Johnson says he dialogues with his inner self each morning. Engaging in what he calls Active Imagination, he asks if there is anything his ego is doing to upset his inner self. And he says the answer usually is ‘yes.’

Something in us needs to become curious about what may lie beneath our rational consciousness. Curious enough to ask a question.
Why am I so angry about _________?
Why can I not reach closure on ___________?
Why am I not giving myself permission to ________?
‘Why’ questions usually are the best to begin with.

And understand at the outset that our Inner Wisdom is as playful as it is wise. The responses we receive may very well begin with, “What do you think?” But that very response, posed as a question by a ‘voice’ beyond our head, may be the very question to initiate new thinking that will lead to new insight.

Remember, our free will is never compromised. Dialogue with our Inner Wisdom is not a leap of faith, nor a courageous act, nor surrender. It is simply an interview—questions and answers—an exercise we decide to undertake to learn more about ourselves. A dialogue we can end at any time.

We will know when a resolution to an issue has been found. A satisfactory ending will occur.

Having It All!

I pondered what might be needed to entice people into dialogue with their Inner Wisdom—a totally non-threatening conversation which could be ended by our conscious will at any time. A poem came to me, the last line of which stated, “…one of us must die so both of us can live.”

If I could only find a way to convince folks that they get two for one. The basic human duality engaging each of us is thinking we must choose between two options when the necessary cooperation with our Inner Wisdom will give us both.

What died in me—what needs to die in everyone—is the garbage I’d collected—the drivenness, the will to power, the anger, the need to win at another’s loss. Our original personality cannot re-emerge until all the negativity we’ve gathered (all in our attempts, by the way, to make ourselves into good people!) is incinerated.

My new interpretation of what Jesus was talking about when he spoke of losing one’s life in order to save it is not losing/giving up the life we cherish but rather that life that has become stale, dry, meaningless; the life that holds no joy and laughter; the life that is killing us. To ‘save’ the remnant of the ‘good life’—and uncover the hidden abundant life deep inside, we must surrender the old, what is no longer working, what is worn out.

In the Jesus narrative, his physical death produced a new being: one with heightened interpretative powers (look at his conversation with travelers to Emmaus); greater ability to be in the moment and create a festive occasion (cooking breakfast for the disciples on the seashore—a culinary first!); and with increased sense of compassion (he tells Peter and others to tend his flocks—not teach, preach, convert, but simply tend). Intellectual, physical, emotional faculties were all totally engaged. Ours become the same as our new being emerges.

My favorite story of all Scripture is called Abraham’s Sacrifice of Isaac. The truth is, Isaac was not sacrificed. God sent an angel to prevent the deed. God gave Abraham what he had long promised—a son, an heir to be the father of countless descendants. Then God asked for Abraham’s most precious possession, that same son. In being willing to give up what was more important to him than his own life, Abraham was given it back again, with a new understanding of who God is and what is necessary for the kind of relationship with God that God wants him to have.

God has given us a most prized possession—conscious willful control over our lives. Now if we will temporarily give that up, it will come back to us transformed into more than we can imagine,

Being in Control

I began to initiate in-depth conversations with friends who were very much interested in psychology, who read widely in the field and/or were pursuing degrees in counseling.  I wanted to know what they had discovered about themselves in their introspection.  I was eager to know if they had initiated dialogue with their Inner Wisdom.

One said he knew there was something inside that wanted his attention but he was determined not to engage it in conversation.  And he most certainly would not give it any part of his conscious control.  He describes himself, however, as the rich young ruler in Scripture (Matt 19:16-22)–full of sorrow at his own situation.

Another friend readily admitted that for her life was not worth living because she could not have what she yearns for.  She has closed her mind to the possibility that life can hold something even more valuable than what seems beyond her reach.  She rejects the possibility that an Inner Wisdom has a gift for her and teeters on the verge of suicide.

Still another will not allow himself to believe that new life is a possibility.  What he wants it to be is so far removed from where he is now that he can’t imagine getting there even if ‘there’ were a reality.  He refuses to engage in conversation with his Inner Wisdom.

A fourth intellectually understands that the process of wholeness requires a crisis where the old self is sloughed off and the new/real self emerges.  She is, however, unwilling to allow the crisis to come on its own schedule.  She is determined to effect the process by controlling the crisis and causing it to produce mini-crises.  She fears loss of family and friends if she risks letting her inner forces have their way with her.

All four are highly intelligent adults who have suffered greatly.  Most seem to know what is needed to achieve wholeness but will not let themselves experience the existential yearning for new life that lies deep within each of us—a yearning so strong that, once discovered, is willing to give up control (in the form of permission) in order to let a force beyond our control give us new life—in all its abundance.

Perhaps for some of us being in control is more important than being whole.

Important Dream Revelations

I continued eager to find ways to tell people of the miracle that awaited their permission.  But I was always cognizant of my family’s directive against forcing myself on folks.

Some dreams came during this time to help me see that I wasn’t yet ready to give people the good news that had come to me. Several had to do with teaching. The old inadequacy dreams: I had a teaching job but couldn’t find my room; I was employed at a new school but couldn’t get there on time; I was in my classroom but had not made adequate preparations.

One had me with a friend who has chronic back problems. I touched is back and he took my arm. We tried to help each other up a long flight of stairs to my classroom. I realized I needed a great deal more help that he did.

The most exhausting dream was one in which I was assisting a medical doctor with his patients, listening carefully to their complaints and advising the doctor on what should be done for them. Suddenly I became totally confused, unable to comprehend the patient or remember the complaint of think of a proper remedy. I knew I was in no way ready to help others.

Perhaps one of the most revealing dreams was the one where I was in the sanctuary of my church. Something exciting seemed about to happen. Suddenly I was catapulted out the roof and sat atop one of the walls to observe the festivities below. As I studied that dream the idea came to me that maybe I would not be able to use the church  as a vehicle for spreading the word of my transformation.

I pondered my dreams and wondered what would be my vehicle. Then I found myself thinking of people I knew who were in crisis. I decided rather than call or go to see them, I would write to them a summary of my experience and encourage them to dialogue with their Inner Wisdom. Some called or wrote to thank me for my concern. Some I never heard from. None asked me for more information. I decided at least I had planted a seed.

Haven House Came Calling

That same summer the director of a new residential treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction came to my church committee with a request. Would we participate with some others in providing an encouraging Sunday message for the residents of his facility? I was delighted with the opportunity.

My family would be satisfied that I had somewhere to tell my story where they would not feel embarrassed. And I would have a monthly opportunity to interact with people who wanted a new beginning. I was eager to see if they would respond positively to my ideas and my story.

And they did. For 32 years they have continued as I have been taking meditations to Haven House and telling my story as well.

My first message was entitled “Good Grief!” (summary follows)

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 says “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”

Job 17:7 says “My eye has grown dim from grief, and all my members are like a shadow.”

II Corinthians 7:9-10 says “. . . I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting; for you felt a godly grief… For godly grief produced a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret. . . .”

Jesus wept over the death of his friend Lazarus, wept over his inability to win Jerusalem to the kingdom of God, and grieved over his own impending death. More than anything, the grief of Jesus points to our own basic need to grieve over ourselves. I invite you to consider using this time in your life to do some proper grieving over yourself—some Good Grief.

Grief may be the most important emotion in our lives. It certainly damages us if we do not pay attention to it.  Stages of grief can include anger, guilt, remorse, and feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and despair. Often we get stuck in the guilt. Guilt which produces tapes that keep playing over and over, telling what we did and didn’t do that we are ashamed of.

And the loneliness. And the despair. I urge you to allow yourselves to go beyond the guilt and loneliness to let your grief go even deeper than you have let it go until now. Our natural reaction to negative emotions is to try to ignore them or push them down or run away from them. You have already acknowledged that your response has been to try to escape.

My experience convinces me that the only way we can get through with our grief is to turn and face it—to actually give it permission to let it take whatever expression it chooses to take, whatever form it needs to take to work itself out in us and heal us. A written dialogue with what it eating away at us is what is needed to learn that something deep inside can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Grief is an emotion that cannot be denied if it ever is to disappear. The sadness must be permitted, experienced to the fullest. We must shed all the tears that have been bottled up inside of us in order for all the guilt to be washed away and joy emerge.

Someone has defined laughter as the soul’s most perfect prayer. After our painful, paralyzing time of mourning, authentic laughter will return and with it a special kind of joy. Look at what happened to Jesus as a result of his tears. He was able to raise Lazarus from the dead. In his death the old body died and a new personality was born. Not only the Jerusalem he wept over but people all over the world have followed him as disciples. The same kind of amazing power will happen in our own lives.

I urge you to get on with your grief work.

My Miracle

All the confessions and apologies began a trip into the depths of remorse. Besides the side of me that needed to be right and in control, there was another side of me.  A me that had set out to make myself into a good person. I realized I hadn’t accomplished that and there was no starting over.

The remorse produced a kind of spiritual despair that is indescribable. I felt an empty space inside that cried out to be filled with something good. But I could find nothing good to put into it.

The next morning a telephone call asked me to help with a funeral at my church. I said I had been quite ill and was unable to help with anything. My caller did not urge me.

As I hung up the phone, a voice came to me. It called me by name and said was its child. It told me I didn’t ever have to do another thing. That all that was intended was just for me to BE.

I heard it in my head and I experienced it all the way to my feet. All the anger and guilt and despair disappeared. And what came into the space inside was a kind of joy I never expected to experience.

I began to laugh—at the unimaginable absurdity that such a miracle should happen to me. The laughing felt wonderful. I realized I had never laughed like this before—a laughter that came from a sense of well-being throughout my entire body—and mind—and spirit. And the laughing was such fun that I kept on laughing.

My Great Confession

Reluctantly, my family agreed to sit down together and listen to what I had to say.  They were exhausted by my uncontrollable and inexplicable sobbing.  It was painful for them to watch me, be with me.

What I had to say was nothing short of amazing.  I asked their forgiveness—forgiveness for all the times I was wrong and should have apologized but wouldn’t.  As tears flowed again, I told them how sorry I was for being the way I had been.

The way I had been was a woman so determined to be  in control, to be right, that I never admitted I was wrong, said I was sorry, for ANYTHING.  Even when I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was wrong, I would not admit it.

When verbally backed into a corner with my misdeeds, I would turn everything around and accuse a family member of making the situation look as if it was my fault when it wasn’t.  I always put the blame on something or someone else.

My family was flabbergasted!  For a while, speechless. Then they told me about the many times they had wished for an apology from me, and it never came.  They told me they finally gave up hoping they would ever hear one.  My family had given up hope of ever hearing an apology from me, and here I was confessing and apologizing for EVERYTHING.

As I repeated my tearful confession of guilt and shame, I could see fatigue taking over.  What I had to say was so heavy to hear that they finally could listen no more.  I think we all took naps that afternoon.

The Unexpected Crisis

My husband met me at the airport as I was arriving home from a meeting out of state. As soon as I saw him, the tears I had been holding back with all my might for hours were released and I began sobbing in his arms.

“What in the world is the matter?”

“I don’t know.”

“What happened at the meeting to upset you?”

“Nothing. Nothing at all. I kept thinking on the way home that maybe something terrible had happened to you or one of the boys.”

“No, we’re all fine. Or at least I think so. Robert is still on his Boy Scout camping trip. He’ll be home tomorrow. But I haven’t had word of any problem. Now just relax and I’ll put in a call to check on the troop.”

“Okay,” I said, still shaking with sobs.
“Now, you know no news is good news, right?”

“Right,” I said, still sobbing.

“Well, let’s get your bags and go home.”

All the hour’s drive home I sniffled and wept, trying my best to stop. We reached home and the phone call was made. All was well in the scout troop.

And still I wept. I was frightened, more frightened than I’d ever been in my life. I had no idea what caused the tears but I couldn’t stop them. Through the night and the next day the tears continued. I believed I needed tranquilizers or other drugs, but a little thought in the back of my head told me that I would be all right only if I didn’t take any drugs. A therapist friend diagnosed the situation as a crisis and said I would get through it if I didn’t thwart the process with drugs or alcohol.
Sometime during the next day I was moved to ask all my family members to gather because I had something important to tell them. I call that now my Great Confession.

 

The Impetus to Dialogue with our Inner Wisdom

As I look back on my life-changing conversation with my Inner Wisdom, I think my pastor’s words to me were indeed inspired.  He did not say go pray, read Scripture, etc.  Instead, he said, “Listen to the message the pain has for you.”

The dialogue for any of us is not a courageous act, leap of faith, or surrender.  Our free will is never compromised.  It is simply a conversation–an interview with our Inner Wisdom.  Questions and answers.  Nothing more.

And yet so much more!  What we find is a force for good that wills us so much more than we can imagine.  it can do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Yet it will not coerce.  It invites our cooperation–our participation in our own miracle through our permission.

Being so convinced in my dialogue that the force beneath my pain willed me life and not death, I readily gave permission.

“Are you ready?”

“Yes, let the process begin.”

No more questions, no hesitation.  The resolution was so satisfactory that I folded up the piece of paper, put it away, and forgot that the dialogue had taken place.

Some time later the miracle occurred.

 

Encounter with My Inner Wisdom

When I was a young adult, I named two things I vowed I  would not allow to happen to me.  An ulcer was one of them, even though no one in my family had been bothered with ulcers, and I had only once in high school been diagnosed with a “nervous stomach.”  Throughout my 30s, however, and into my 40s, chronic stomach problems persisted.

The stomach problems were finally diagnosed as an ulcer, and I knew I had lost control of my life.  As related last week, I went to my pastor for comfort, only to hear him give me a strange directive.  “It sounds like a rebirth to me,” he said.  “I think you need to go home and listen to the message the pain has for you.”

He had never said anything so unusual to me–or so important.  I sat down at a table with paper and pencil and began asking the pain inside, “Why are you killing me?”

Immediately a response came. “Do you want to live or do you want to die?”  My head began to think about my life and all the drivenness that seemed to motivate my every action.  And I realized I did want to live but not the way I had been living.  I realized I did want to live–to be glad just to be alive without any need to drive myself, without any guilt over not constantly doing, without any need to do at all.

And in the short conversation, I realized that something in me needed to die in order for me to live in that new way.  And that I could not consciously sort out and kill the part that needed to die.  And that  the force beneath the pain in me could do for me what I could not do for myself.

And all it needed was my permission.

 

I Am a Transformed Humpty!

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall;

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Could not put Humpty Dumpty together again.

Thirty-five years ago I was dying.  One of the two things I vowed not to let happen to me had happened.  Cancer loomed large. I went to my pastor for comfort but received instead a strange directive.  He told me to listen to the message the pain had for me.  What ensued was a conversation between two parts of my personality which resulted in a cooperative venture that saved my life physically and allowed an entirely new personality to emerge.

Part memoir of a miracle and part unique insight into psychological phenomena, Humpty Dumpty Hatched: Transformation for Everyone has indeed something for everyone whose shell is breaking and whose wall is crumbling.  It tells the secret that is intended to be shouted from the rooftops.  No trying harder.  No giving yourself endless affirmations.  No getting busy.

As personal story, Humpty Dumpty Hatched suggests our kinship with the nursery rhyme egg, but unlike Humpty, our need is to break open our shell and allow a new being to emerge. A new being that is cleansed of anger and guilt.  A new being that has expanded space for creativity and authentic joy. A new being that finds itself satisfied in merely being rather than needing to justify its existence by doing.

Meet the person I was for much of my life—driven, controlling, determined to have life work on my terms.  Meet the me after of my shell-breaking, three-day crisis—free, laughing, whole, for all these 30 years.

My repeated question, “Why me? Why has this happened to me?” was, each time I asked it, answered with , “Why not you?  Why not everyone?”  And I realized that my story is intended for everyone.

Stay tuned next week for part of the Humpty Dumpty story. . . .