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Re: The same old circle cricket

Posted by Damos on October 13, 2005, at 19:05:55

In reply to The same old circle, posted by cricket on October 12, 2005, at 11:06:29

Hey Cricket :-)

First, just want to apologise for being so slow to respond.

Our Tamar is a true blessing isn't she? I tend to agree with a lot of what she said.

Now you just feel free to tell me to 'F' off or shut the h*ll up anytime okay.

A lot of the difficulties in our relationships stem not from what actually happened or was said but from all the assumptions, judgements and stuff that we apply to and interpret things through.

It's interesting how you interpret his body language. Did you know that studies have shown that when the words and the body language conflict, we nearly always take the non-verbal message as the most significant. Body language and tone actually have a greater impact on our perception of trustworthiness than the actual words do. Even the clothes someone wears can have more significance than the words at times. Can't remember the actual figures but studies have shown that the words only represent about 10-15% of the actual message that is received.

Sorry but I had to laugh when you said "He was getting defensive already. Arms crossed. Body turned sideways." It took me 25 years to realise that pulled back in the chair, arms crossed with a really stern expression and crushing silence was actually my grandfathers mulling things over deeply position. I always read it as "You stupid little sh*t." It is very possible that he's done this all his life and doesn't even consciously realise he's doing it and also doesn't realise how it's being interpreted. It's also possible (and likely) that every client interprets every single thing he does in a way that is unique to them.

The purpose of assumptions is to test them. The problem is that if I don't share my assumptions with you or even let you know that I'm making them a) they never get tested so we don't know if they were right or wrong and b) we both proceed as though there weren't any and then can't understand why there are all these road blocks and barriers between us. Hence the saying "When you assume, you make an *SS out of U and ME."

His saying "If we decide to do this," to me could be his way of saying, "I know the risk/cost involved to you in going to these places and revisiting these things, and I care too much about you to just ASSUME that it's okay to do that." This seems even more likely to be true given he said it again after your revelations.

So lets turn things around and 'assume' he does understand why he would be perceived as an authority figure by the adolescent girl. Why would he pursue this line? Because what's important to him and the progress of your therapy is not whether he is or he isn't; but what it (being an authority figure) means to you/the adolescent girl, and every member of the family. ARRRGGHHHH, this is so hard to explain. He can't change the truth of your experience of anything, all he can do is work with you about the meaning of the experience. And to do that he has to understand how and why that can be true for you - develop shared meaning. It is only through shared meaning that other possibilities or what is true are possible. And you see, in your post you have revealed layers of what being an 'authority figure' means to you. You even right at the start made a really important distinction between different authority figures (cops, teachers, bosses). Now he can work out how to work with you on this.

I know it's hard to understand how he struggled with what you were saying. But each of us views the world through the lense of our own experience. For someone who has never actually experienced the kinds of discrimination and prejudice you describe, it'd be like you describing a meeting with martians. So what did he do? He accepted that the experiences are absolutely true for you and tried to understand the meaning of those expereinces for you. That's why the questions about the testing are important. It changes the meaning of the experience as is revealed in your response, "You don't think people are judged based on the way they look, they act, they smell." Remember before we spoke about how important it is for him to hear you speak your truth, you know, you needing to be able to admit that you have those thoughts and feelings before he can work with them.

I'm absolutely with you on the "Ugh, ugh, ugh" re his comments on privilege/suffering.

Like you said, he'll probably come back next week with a better, fresher perspective. The discomfort involved in getting to shared meaning is really important, but so damn hard.

Hope this helped a little. I'm so full of pride and admiration for you Cricket.





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