Saturday, December 24, 2011


Being divorced gives you a fair amount of free time.  Time that one could spend in reflection, I suppose.  Or exercising.  Or donating to charity.  Or, in my case, playing mindless, soul numbing video games.

OK, maybe "soul numbing" is taking it a bit far.  Perhaps it would be more accurate to observe that there's little I would take from such experiences and say at the end of my life "damn, I'm really glad I spent time playing THAT game!  I really learned something."

With the notable exception of a concept from the latest game I've played:  Words of Power.

Now, in the game, learning such words allows you to do all manner of things, mostly in combat.  You can push stuff around, breathe fire at them, run at impossible speeds, turn invisible.  The notion is that once you learn the true name, the true essence of something, it is yours to use in some type of magical way.

Now life would be AWESOME if it worked like that, though I would have to be much more careful about the words I taught my children (let's just say disciplinary situations would become much more fraught with peril).  But of course, that isn't the way of things.

But I am in a profession that believes in the power of words.  And I am starting to find that there are indeed "words of power" in a sense.  But first you have to understand the nature of the problem deeply enough.  My word right now is "trust."

I should take a step back here.  If you read my last post, you may recall that an autism consultant has been giving me some feedback about ways to work with my son, Patrick.  Among that advice was the recommendation to reduce his sense of demand -- in large part so as to create a relationship he chose to participate in, a relationship where he could develop trust. 

So this idea of trust has been in my mind a lot lately.  I've been thinking about the clients I work with, and the various ways in which they struggle to trust...whether it's trusting in themselves, trusting in their partners, trusting in therapy.  I've thought a lot about how I want Patrick to feel trust in me, to have an instinctive sense of our interactions as safe, to know that I won't let him fail because I'll be there to support him when he needs it.

And then one morning, I was reflecting on myself.  I was thinking about that side of me that somehow questions whether people want me around, that side of myself that feels a pressing need to do things for people in order to be considered good enough, the side of myself that (despite these efforts) never feels like it can quite get there.

And it hit me.  The missing piece here  Trusting in others.  Trusting in myself.  Trusting rather than having to prove myself.  Trusting rather than constantly striving.  So I took a few minutes and sat with that anxiety, picturing it as a ball of energy, holding it and accepting it, summoning whatever kindness and compassion I could and directing it there.

And, frankly, it took a few minutes before it began to relax, to melt away.  And once it did so, I became aware of this almost palpable sense of relief, of opening up, of just letting life happen rather than trying to make it go one way or another.  I experienced trust.

So I'm not sure if "trust" as a concept is what really changed things.  Maybe the true power came in having that experience of holding that feeling, experiencing it relax, of experiencing trust.  But still, the word "trust" has come to mean something different than it did before.  It's a reminder of how I hope to approach things differently, a habit of mind that I hope to cultivate.

It's my word of power.

Much love and joy to you all, my friends.