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These stories are real, though some details may be fictionalized, to protect confidentiality and identities, but these are actual accounts of Qadishtu moments. Stories can be told from either the point of view of the priest or priestess or from the perspective of the client/seeker/supplicant. The point is - what do we actually DO? This blog seeks to help answer that through example. What we do is incredibly varied, depending on our individual experience, training, gifts, and inclinations, and that's why this is a group endeavor. We all have gems to contribute to the larger understanding of what it means to be Qadishtu and the significant need for this role in our society today.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Be the change

Ostensibly this post is about my first Qadishtu client “I.” However, as our initial conversations began to unfold, I realized that a current and very problematic situation in my own life was going to need to be rethought before I could truly be of assistance to this young man I was working with. While his name begins with “I,” it turns out that the situation he was struggling with was mirroring deeply within my own shadow side, and it was imperative that I open my heart up further than ever before to solutions that appeared impossibly painful.

For years, I can even say decades, I’ve been working on my own childhood issues of abuse using psychotherapy, Zen meditation, and my own unflagging commitment to embodying the changes that I’d wished my mother had demonstrated. A phrase attributed to Gandhi, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” has been of much support throughout the years, and provided guidance when I was uncertain as to the correct action to take in many situations. However, it wasn’t helping me now in the aftermath of a horrific breakup of a very valued relationship with “R.” Despite the amazing support and advice of many dear and loving friends, I wasn’t resolving the situation internally. I was completely at a loss as to how to interact, or not interact, with someone I deeply loved, but knew I couldn’t continue a relationship with, and none of my own or other suggested solutions felt correct.

As I continued to listen to and work with “I,” I was constantly reminded of another story from Gandhi’s life.

A mother went to Gandhi one day, with her young son in tow. “Gandhiji,” she pleaded, “please tell my son to stop eating sugar.” Gandhi told her, “Come back in three days.” Puzzled, the mother did as she was asked and went back home. When she returned with her son three days later, Gandhi told the boy, “Stop eating sugar.” The mother then asked Gandhi, “Why didn’t you just tell him to stop eating sugar three days ago?” "Because,” the Mahatma said, “three days ago I hadn’t stopped eating sugar myself.”

This was an exceedingly apt metaphor for my own situation. I needed to change my behavior first before I could proffer advice to “I.” My own integrity had to be intact in order for my being to have value for him or anyone else.

In my personal situation I began a new search for habits and patterns of thought and behavior that were comfortable, but not necessarily productive or even positive. I began to use another technique I learned early on at the dojo, “Always assume I’m wrong in a situation in order to find a solution.” While I’ve been doing this for years, I knew that the depth of my love for and openness to “R” had allowed previously untapped areas of my psyche to be uncovered for examination. This process is usually not pleasant or fun, as delving into the depths of anger, rage, hatred and other assorted dark aspects of myself can be horrifying and frightening. Yet I’ve had enough experience and support in this process to trust that I would be able to handle whatever came up within, as well as access the other, brighter side after I’d done so. All of this was again necessary for me in order to encourage “I” to walk this same path within himself.

Over the years of unraveling my own past, I’ve gradually learned to completely trust my intuition with regard to my self and others; and without fail it has never steered me wrong. It’s only when I second guess myself, or ignore obvious truths out of greed or incorrect self-interest that I get into trouble, and the relationship with “R” contained much of this. As I identified behaviors in “I,” their corollary in me also showed up; passive-aggression, self-pity, feigned ignorance. What was suddenly different one day was a greater depth of understanding that flooded through me after listening to a voice-message from “R.” While his voice was bright and vibrant, and the offer he made was seemingly innocent and friendly, upon hearing his words I felt as if I'd been punched in the gut. My body began to shake and I became nauseated. I had to pull over and stop the car in order to care for and settle myself down. “What is this, why am I having this reaction, what’s underneath . . .” a long series of questions began to methodically manifest in response. The answer suddenly became clear in my mind.

Both “R” and I are from extremely abusive childhoods. In that moment I identified a passive-aggressive behavior that I’d developed as a very young child that was my only means of defense. Because I wasn’t allowed to express my own anger I found ways to sadistically provoke my mother, and in the only way available to me, ease my own pain by causing more of it in her, while at the same time pretending to be innocent. While I could righteously claim “I’m not doing anything,’ in fact I was, and it was contributing to the cycle of abuse. Through my introspective work, this behavior in myself had gradually ended but without me being fully aware of its depth. In a flash, I recognized this same sadistic/pain-relief behavior in “R” in both the offer in the voice-message, and as a long-time underlying theme in our relationship. Becoming aware of this immediately, and now more fully over time, has allowed me to relax into accepting the current state of that relationship, and to respond appropriately and maturely when this particular issue manifests itself in him, myself, and others.

For “I,” me being able to identify and work successfully through another of my shadows put another tool in my toolbox that I can use in my work with him. Having the experience myself allows me to be of further assistance to all my clients. As my first bodywork teacher, Dub Leigh, mentioned often, we can only take others as far as we’ve gone ourselves. David and Amanda, my Qadishtu mentors, often say that as Qadishti we’re wounded healers. This to me has always made sense, and I’m gaining a deeper appreciation by the day for the manner in which this work enfolds everyone involved in the growth process.

I’ve been working collaboratively with “I” for about two and a half months now, and he’s making incredible progress towards realizing the goals he set out for himself. While originally apprehensive and even frightened of some of the changes and practices I suggested for him, his submissive nature and our contract allowed him to fully embrace and carry out our agreed-upon plan of action. He himself has been amazed and delighted by the difference in how he’s felt, and the different perspectives he’s gained on his life. Even his family has commented on the changes they've noticed. Where his life has been seemingly stuck for years, in a fairly short time, many areas are rapidly shifting and he's experiencing a great deal of new perspectives, and feeling hopeful for his future. By being able to utilize so many different modalities in the healing process, i.e. talk-therapy, BDSM, sensual and sexual touch, intuition, meditation, bodywork, and collaboration with other Qadishti, I am feeling for the first time in my professional career as if my entire self is being utilized, as well as directly benefiting from, the work I do.

1 comment:

Lyndsay said...

Your references to Ghandi's words touched me. I have always loved the 'Be the change you wish to see in the world' quote and use it myself as a balancing point when I feel myself out of touch with the world.
Wonderful words and story