At first I continued workshops with Peter Sandhill. He had been my favorite male facilitator prior to the one-on-one work and although I did not want to do drugs with him or feel I had gained anything from his sessions, I still found him to be a warm and friendly facilitator who could follow the scripts as well as any other. So I did his workshops.
I noticed, however, that I had changed in my interactions with Peter. I was always pushing boundaries with him. I shouted out comments, made jokes at his expense and in general took a great deal of latitude in the relationship that I did not take with any other facilitator. Peter maintained his warm "loving" demeanor, not complaining and seemed to be living up to his statement that he was just there to love and support me. But I did not like myself. Much like I had noticed in the session, I noticed that I was only taking these liberties with Peter. And it seemed to confirm his notion that there was something wrong with me. Why was I being so rude to this "nice man who loved me?" Why did I want to poke at him? In short I did not like who I had become. And it was only around him.
So I stopped doing workshops with Peter, much as I had stopped doing sessions. Since this passive-aggressive behavior was not something I had to question in myself around anyone else, and I did not like this side of me, it was as simple as not being around Peter. It vanished again simply by doing workshops with other facilitators.
Questions: Is there any message a trained professional can gather from passive-aggressive energy being focused on them? What are some of the reasons a trained professional might consider as the cause? Was Peter being so "nice" to me and "taking the heat" because on some level he knew that his behavior was the cause of my passive-aggressive attitude and he did not want to sort it out with me or help me understand his role, so it just felt better to him to pretend to be above it all, as yet one more example of how loving and accommodating he could be. What is the impact on a patient in a therapeutic relationship of suppressing any focus on their negative impact and leading a patient in reaction to believe that their reaction has no basis? What is the impact of resisting efforts to focus on a professional's short-comings, while indulging the perceived short-comings of a client who does not feel safe or know what's going on?
Concern: I am the oldest of five children and started studying metaphysics, philosophy and psychology when I was twelve. This led me to pay more attention to my parent's behavior as they moved towards a violent and traumatizing divorce. I was one of the few people able and willing to "handle" my siblings, who my parents wound up into a feverish state of spiraling tantrums, conflict, criminal and difficult behavior. I learned something very important from watching how my parents induced this behavior:
- No child could get their needs met simply by asking or relying on either parent to do what they said.
- Each child was forced to find a unique manipulation, consistent with their personality, that would scare my parents into giving them what they needed.
- My parents lied, bribed and were erratic, the only constant being their own emotional needs.
- My parents actively set the children against each other and played sides in the marriage, sending the children as delivers of toxic messages so that the child took the heat as the messenger.
- My parents would not tolerate any healthy confrontation or truth-telling, thus suppressing the healthy side of the child.
I knew my siblings were good people. I had watched them be turned into animals by my parents. So I decided that when I baby-sat I would do the opposite:
- I waited 30 minutes in my room after my parents left me in charge, to give the chemicals in my siblings time to calm down.
- Then I told them a consistent set of rules, that left them free to do anything healthy.
- I told them I would reward good behavior and I did.
- I told them I would not give them anything for tantrumming or breaking things and pointed out that since I did not care about my parent's things any more then they did it did not bother me if they broke everything in the house to manipulate me.
- I asked them to meet the needs they could meet, such as cooking for themselves, so they would feel useful.
- I treated them with respect: Never using my superior size to take their things for myself. I asked permission to enter their room etc.
Within three baby-sitting sessions the house was silent, happy, productive and sane within 30 minutes of my parents leaving the house. I enjoyed my company with my younger siblings immensely. We went on fun walks in the countryside and played games or they did their own thing, as they wished. Within 5 minutes of my parents return, however, they became delinquents again and I retreated to my room, understanding that they could not be good children and get their needs met by my parents.
I sat my father down for a meeting I requested and explained all of this to him. He was paying for their Waldorf education, listening to channeled entities, quoting Edgar Casey and acting like a complete martyr whose life was being "ruined" by his difficult children. I told him exactly what I did, why I did it, and compared that with his and my mother's parenting approach. He looked very uncomfortable. He left the meeting. He seemed scared of me from that point forward and gave me more latitude, but changed nothing. If anything, he felt threatened and began turning the children against me in the same way he was attempting to do with my mother. My mother was much too much in fantasy-world for me to consider this meeting with her. My father was smart. He understood everything I said, as I knew he would. But either he could not or did not want to put my sibling's sanity, health, and well-being first. Instead, every time they acted out, he pointed out how bad they were and what a victim he was and blamed my siblings. In doing so, he was able to look good, look tolerant of the very behavior he demanded for them to get any attention, any of their needs. He would say he was not going to do what he said he was going to do until everyone was shouting at him and rioting and then he would capitulate, necessitating this kind of attention himself perhaps to feel important before he would finally do what he had said he was going to do originally.
I cannot emphasize how damaging this emotional manipulation and diversion was. As a direct result of this and my mother's similar protocol of expediency every one of my siblings grew up knowing a primary identity of themselves as a manipulative and ugly persona they were shamed for. It has resulted in three out of five of us being suicidal, and all of us dealing with extreme compulsiveness to manage extensive psychological pain. The impact lasts to today, and it's much harder for me to see the kind, calm and intelligent children my siblings were before my parents used them for their own needs. I hold my parents accountable for this impact as a 95% probability field that any child born to them would have severe lifetime issues and think it was their fault.
I see Peter doing the same thing: Using people for his own needs, unwilling to face his own narcissism, and blaming the patient for the coping mechanism needed to process his own inappropriate behavior. There is a difference though. My parents did at least put a roof on our heads. Peter Sandhill has always insisted on charging me for every one of our interactions and has done so as a teacher of "love, intimacy and sexuality," recommended and trained by the entire facilitator body. And far from backing me up, the facilitators escalated Peter's abuse pattern when I asked them for help far more than they helped. I know the danger's of these blind spots because I see them in the pain of men and women who, if given the chance of having capable parents, were so strong in who they are that they found themselves within six hours of my care and were consistently great kids until I left the home at 17 to avoid going insane with the pain. As soon as I had left, my father lost no time explaining to them that I had left because I did not care about them, was selfish, and that I thought I was better than everyone in the family. My father was ready, if I tried any independent contact with any sibling, to take such painful jabs at me that I left all contact with them until they were adults. It took more than 10 years before they could begin to see any of this, or felt safe enough in their lives to want to. In the mean-time, all of them believed that my parent's faults were their own.
One reason for this is the need for certainty: When a child is traumatized and in a house without boundaries, their is no repair. The child clings to whatever is most stable. Unwelcome as their emotional truths were, what was far more constant than their true feelings, were the adaptive personas they developed to cope with and manipulate their parents under duress. This adaptive identity became a key anchor for them as traumatic feelings emerged, and seemed to offer some stability. This is the trap of the coping pattern for traumatized children without a single safe-advocate who can stand by them and grieve the horror they were asked to go through so my parents could avoid their own repressed feelings. They were each thrown to the dogs, and despite remarkable gifts, find themselves often divided and not knowing who they are. It is the job of competent healers, a rare breed in America, to help an adult in this predicament. Most of the people I have encountered in my life actively protect my parents in the name of "being positive," without wishing to feel the horror or understand that to defend my parents is to defend their constant message: "This is not about us. You are to blame for everything wrong in this family. You are ugly, not us." That message traps anyone who believes it into thinking that the coping mechanism necessary to survive and numb pain is who they actually are, or would have been, without the abuse. We are a culture who protects abusive parents, abusive governments, abusive teachers and abusive business-owners at the expense of their counterparts. I did not find a single adult who empathized with what was going on and who did not shame me for criticizing my parents.
Part of the complexity comes from the fact that if you met my dad or mom on the street they were average or seemingly above-average Americans. People commented on my mother's model beauty and how charming she was. They commented on what a genius my father was. He ran "the Cultural Freedom fund," was a director of a currency hedge-fund called "Gaia Corp," and built passive solar homes. I think this correlation between politically correct labels and severe childhood abuse helps me discern between words and their actual meaning, and between behavior in one sector of life and behavior in another. It has helped me see the willful blindness that allows correctness in one area to mask great harm in another. Without this training in abuse I both would not have needed a therapist and would not have been able to articulate what is so destructive about the "therapy" I have received behind closed doors by the HAI facilitators en-mass and one-on-one. Obviously some part of me wants to believe that "it's all my fault," as both my parents and Peter said, because this is the pre-requisite for the use of the label called "love," that feels better than no love and no label.
What I want to emphasize is the pattern of suppressing the true self and rewarding/pampering the manipulative self that is tolerated or even welcomed out of guilt by the abuser. This is the most profound form of spiritual abuse. Healing is the welcoming of truth from the authentic self and the gentle reminder that the adaptive coping mechanism is no longer needed or as fun in a healthy environment where the self is honored. This is what we must count on our professionals to do in a culture in which a majority of Americans are not only abused, but in such a way that it is labeled as love. The young men and women I meet in sociopathic states of shame, addicted to their dopamine-generating gadgets, are not being "loved" by the parents who ignore their feelings or who they are any more than I or my siblings were. The protocols of most schools are not much better - shaming the feminine emotional self as a matter of course and demanding the over-development of the left brain to absorb a large percentage of knowledge that is literally useless for the typical person's well-being throughout their entire life.