Thoughts by Richard Bleil
For over a year now, I’ve been writing blogs every day. I’ve written on topics of education, science, politics; I’ve written short stories; I’ve written opinion on a myriad of topics; I’ve written pieces that I hope people found inspirational. But I’ve always tried to open and vulnerable in my writing.
It is probably too easy to read my work and just dismiss it as the rantings of an overly sensitive man. Heck, I even poke fun at this in the name of my blog site, but that doesn’t make it easier to right. My regular readers know that I have had a very challenging life. I’ve lost a lot, been hurt and emotionally beat up, I’ve turned the other cheek so the bruising could be even.
The truth is that I’ve cried more often while writing my posts than I care to admit, and probably more than you would want to know. A lot of people might think this makes me weak, but I know the courage it takes to actually allow yourself to feel and face your emotions.
And it’s cathartic.
I guess that it may have been redundant to say that. I spent several years going to therapy, mostly twice a week which means that I was truly messed up. My therapist said very little. Week after week, I would sit in her office, and she would just sit there and listen. Oh, sometimes she would interject some (amazing) insights, but mostly she just listened.
That’s kind of what I have been doing here with the blog. You, my dear readers, are my beloved therapists, and on rare occasion, some of you have shared your (amazing) insights in the comments, although, to be fair, most of the comments are sales pitches.
Therapy, as a process, is kind of an amazing thing. We all have these emotional trip wires in our psyche, or “land mines” as I often call them, but unlike landmines, the harm is not to the one who steps on them, but rather, to the person who planted them. Recently a group of students found one of my “land mines” when, collectively, they failed to show up for class. Anybody who remembers the blog that I wrote about that incident know that it really hurt me quite deeply, and, as it turns out, that blog hurt some of those students.
And that’s the thing about being open and vulnerable. I realized this about therapy; I would spend weeks and weeks just kind of inching along, making no real progress at all. Then would come a day that I really (really!) didn’t want to even go to therapy, but I came to realize that those were the days that I most needed to be there. I would force myself to go, and typically, that is when I would show my therapist one of those trip wires. But, if I’m the one harmed when it is triggered, that means that these can be used as a weapon against me. In essence, I was giving her an arsenal of weapons to which I am particularly vulnerable.
And I would wait.
I realized that after such revelations, which invariably had an incredible lesson for me, I would go back in the next few sessions with my defenses on high. I was waiting to see how she would use that information to abuse and injure me. After all, that’s what we do, isn’t it? We hurt each other, like it’s some kind of twisted sport.
I would wait to see how she used these weapons against me. Although these were usually the times that she had her insight, she never used those weapons to hurt me. Each time I handed her a new weapon, and I realized that she would not, after all, use that weapon, I came to trust her even more. We would start on a new plateau of trust, a new level of open communication, and new walls to work on bringing down.
I suggest you try it. Seriously. You know that thing that you’ve been afraid to share with that one important person in your life? Try it. Try honesty, try being vulnerable. You’ll find it’s one of the most difficult things you can possibly do, but, full disclosure, it might go very wrong. That person might turn around and use what you say against you and try to injure you for it. If that happens, then you’ve learned the boundaries of trust that you can give that person which is a painful, but important, lesson to learn. But if they show you that you can trust them, then you’ve taken that relationship to a whole new level, and you will probably find out that it’s a great level. Like that video game where you unlock the new hidden level that you didn’t even know was there.
To close this out, I suppose I should apologize to those students who might have felt slighted by the earlier post. Rest assured, it was just my defenses lashing out. I still think the world of you all.