Posted by: Marie | December 20, 2012

(764) Passive anger – Part 1 of 7

Post #764
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, January 25, 2012]

Today was therapy day . . . Edward met me in the lobby, as usual, and walked with me up the stairs. As we ascended, he asked me about the book I was reading, titled Good Morning, Young Lady . . .


Me: Well, it’s a fiction novel loosely based on the life of Butch Cassidy. He lived much of his life in the Rocky Mountains, so the story is set in this area of the country – mostly Wyoming and Utah, though.

Edward: How is it so far?

Me: (Wrinkling my nose) Hmm . . . It’s kind of silly. I thought it would be interesting because of the historical aspect. But, it’s turning out to be more of a harlequin romance than an historical novel. I’m finding it to be not very interesting and I don’t think I’ll finish it. I’m sure it is well-written; I just don’t care much for that type of book.

Edward: Ah! What do you prefer?

Me: I like non-fiction stories . . . I like to know the story really happened.

The Rise by Martin Chen

The Rise by Martin Chen

Edward: Non-fiction stories don’t always have storybook endings . . .

Me: True . . . and that is what I like about them . . . I don’t care for fairytales, I guess.

Edward: I see . . .

(By then, we had gotten to the top of the stairs . . . he stopped in the restroom while I settled into his office. When he subsequently joined me in his office, we continued our conversation . . . )

Edward: It is good to see you!

Me: It’s good to see you, too!

Edward: How have you been?

Me: I’ve been busy! My studio is getting so busy; I have so many students now.

Edward: Is that what you want?

Me: Oh, yes! I enjoy teaching and I really enjoy being able to pay my bills . . . I’m not lying awake at night trying to figure out how to pay the bills . . . when I go to write a check, the money to cover the check is already in the bank – well, at least, that is true most of the time! So, that’s a very nice feeling.

And, I had a neat thing happen a couple of weeks ago with my autistic student . . .

(I told him about Matt starting to play with enthusiasm after three years of trying to get him to willingly play anything at all.)

Me: This week, I’ve been reflecting on the series of events that occurred that brought Matt and his family into my life . . . he was a kindergarten student on my first bus route. Because of his special needs, he always sat in the front seat . . . he always had to sit on the left side of the bus so he could watch the stop sign flip outward and it’s lights start blinking. He was mesmerized by the stop sign and would get very upset if he couldn’t watch it every single time it was activated.

Anyway, I would often hear him humming in tune with the hum created by the bus’ engine or tires. He was so exacting – it wasn’t just a kid making noise . . . he concentrated on it so intensely. It was a science to him. He really studied the varying pitches . . . and he was only five years old. It was amazing to see a kid that young concentrate so hard on sound and pitches.

One day, when I dropped him off at his bus stop, I asked him mom if he had been exposed to music much in his life. That is when she said she is a music teacher . . . I asked if I could call her and bounce some ideas off of her . . . and the rest is history . . .

Edward: It sounds like it has been a very special relationship for you.

Me: Very much so. I really treasure that little boy . . . and his brother and his mom . . . they are a neat family! His mom has been very helpful to me as my piano teacher and as a mentor . . . I think we all benefit each other.

(After a pause) I also learned this week that one of the drivers from the bus barn has cancer – things don’t look good for him . . .

Edward: Tell me about that . . .

(I told him about my colleague’s scary news . . . )

Me: The fact he is dying doesn’t really bother me so much because I know we all have to die and that dying is part of life – not everyone is “supposed” to live to a ripe old age. Some people die younger because that is when they are “supposed” to die according to some cosmic plan.

But, I’m aware this news is painful for him and his family. I feel sad for them.

I had an interesting conversation with my student who is psychiatrist . . . my student, Jeff . . . he stuck around after his lesson for a while and told me a little more of his personal story . . .

(I noticed that Edward had a puzzled look on his face)

Me: (Laughing a bit) Oh! I forgot to warn you that I was changing topics!

Edward: (Laughing) It took me a second to follow you, but I did figure out that you had changed directions! Thanks for checking on me!

Me: So . . . Jeff shared some more of his story with me at his last lesson . . . and we talked about how music can be part of the healing from the crap that happens to us as kids . . .

At one point in the conversation, I asked Jeff if he would be interested in hearing the music I’ve composed as part of my own healing journey. He said he would be honored to listen to it.

He listened very respectfully. And, after each piece, he reflected back to me what it had brought up in him . . . what emotions, what memories, how it affected him . . .

Edward: How does it feel to you to have someone take the time to really listen to your compositions?

Me: It causes me to feel that what I have to share and contribute is important and worthy of someone’s time . . . that my music has value . . . that I have value. That’s reaffirming to me – and healing.

I noticed that when Jeff shared what my compositions brought up for him, most of it had to do with what happened to him in his childhood. I’m noticing that he keeps bringing the conversation back to his childhood – not obsessively, but frequently.

Awhile back, in the book Courage to Heal, I read about a stage of healing called the emergency stage. I could identify with that . . . several years ago, at the time I was reading that book, I was definitely in that emergency stage. In fact, I still am in that stage to some extent.

Edward: Tell me a little bit more about what you mean by the “emergency stage” . . .

Me: Well, I feel like I need to tell everyone everything – it was really bad for me a few years back, I couldn’t control my telling . . . when I was getting to know someone, I would lead with the story of my history, even when it might not be appropriate to bring it up. I’m doing better with it now, but that compulsion is still there to some degree.

I’m thinking that Jeff might be in that emergency stage now, at least to some extent. He might be in the later part of that stage. He has mentioned that all his training and professional experience hasn’t taught him to deal with it . . . that he is still figuring out how to deal with it.

I think he is kind of using our time together in my studio to unload and process his history.

Edward: What does that feel like for you?

Me: It feels neat – I’m not getting triggered like I thought I might – I’m not taking on his drama and I’m not getting triggered by it. So, I’m okay with it. And, it feels good to create that healing space for him, even though I don’t necessarily always know what to say or do because I’m not a shrink. It feels good to create that space knowing that it is healing and helpful for him.

Edward: You might not be a shrink, but you know how to sit with people in their emotional place and you know how to express empathy.

Me: (With a slight grin) Yeah, I keep pulling “an Edward” and putting my hand on my heart and saying “ouch” whenever he shares something painful.

Edward: (Humorously) Oh, so that’s what you call it!!?!? An “Edward”?

Me: Seriously, though . . . I do take a lot of what you do with me and use it in conversation with my students. When I’m unsure of how to respond, I’ll think, “What would Edward do?”

[To be continued in the next post . . . ]

Quotes 674


  1. Jeff, another healer betrayed by his training. It is good that you can be there for him. It would be nice if it lead to major changes in how shrinks are trained (I guess it won’t).

    • Maybe it will be a gradual shifting in training . . . for example, Edward became aware of alternate options and he took it upon himself to learn about and embrace those options . . . maybe, in time, more therapists will do the same .. . .

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