I clearly remember thinking, as a young child, “I’m not going to be like my mother or father. I’m not going to be a screamer. I’m not going to be mean. I’m not going to ignore my children. I’m not going to try to mold them and control them.”
Yet, over and over, as I’ve done my inner work, I’ve had to face those aspects of myself that are exactly like my mother or father. It’s not fun to face those aspects of ourselves that we judge and work so hard to hide, but it’s essential if we are going to heal them and become the loving caring people we really want to be.
Do you have the courage to face your deepest guilt and shame, your deepest secrets – the things you most want hide from others? Do you have the courage to compassionately embrace the wounded aspects of yourself that you inevitably developed as you were growing up? Do you have the courage to face and heal the parts of yourself that are exactly like what you most hated in your parents?
When Marcus and I worked together a number of years ago, he uncovered memories of extensive sexual abuse at the hands of his father. He worked through this with me and then moved on in his life. Occasionally, he would consulted with me regarding his relationship.
Marcus started to work with me again at a point when he was terrified of losing his massage license, which was how he earned his living. As a message therapist, it was Marcus’s responsibility to create a totally safe environment where his clients could relax and let go. Just as a client is emotionally naked with a therapist, and the therapist has to have solid boundaries in order for clients to safely act out their issues, so clients who are physically naked with a massage therapist need to feel safe in their nakedness.
Marcus had touched two of his women clients inappropriately, and he was now being called to the carpet.
His first reaction was to blame the clients. “They wanted to be touched. They had sexual energy with me. They have some responsibility here.”
Then he blamed Samantha, the owner of the healing center where he did his massages. “She should have stood up for me. She’s known me for a long time. I should be allowed to make a mistake and be treated with compassion rather than with judgment. I’m taking responsibility for my actions, which I know were wrong. I’m not denying it, but she’s not taking responsibility for her lack of compassion for me. She’s making me into a bad guy and throwing me away.”
“Marcus, do you have compassion for yourself – for the little boy in you who is hurting right now?”
“Sure I do. I have a lot of compassion for myself.”
I knew this wasn’t true. From our work together, I knew that Marcus had a very hard time being compassionate toward himself, and had a hard time taking responsibility for his feelings. I knew that Marcus was projecting onto Samantha his own lack of compassion for himself. I also knew that this level of blame and projection was covering up a deeper issue that Marcus had never come to terms with.
Due to what his father had done to him, the last thing Marcus wanted to know was that he was anything like his father. He had spent his life trying to be as different from him father as any son could be.
Finally, we reached a place in our work together where I felt that Marcus was ready to face his deepest demons.
“Marcus, how are you like your father?” I asked.
“I’m nothing like him,” he growled.
“When you were touching your clients, what was your intent?”
“I told you - I get my sense of aliveness from sexual energy.” Marcus had struggled for a long time with sexual addiction.
“What do you think your father’s intent was when he abused you?”
Shock and a dawning awareness covered Marcus’s face. “Oh my God!” He covered his face with his hands and sobbed.
Marcus had never wanted to know about the part of him that is empty and needy like his father was, and who wants to use women sexually for his aliveness – like his father used him. Because he was a kind and caring man who would never deliberately hurt anyone, he didn’t want to know that his sexually addictive and needy behavior was hurtful to others. And, because he never wanted to know this, he shied away from taking loving responsibility for himself – always afraid of knowing this part of him.
As Marcus learned to compassionately embrace this very wounded little boy inside, and to forgive himself for being like his father, he was able to start giving himself the loving care that he needed to feel truly alive. His secret was out and he was free.