You Can’t Change Anyone But Yourself

Thinking we can change someone is never a good idea. Even as a psychotherapist, it’s not my approach. I help people to further their understanding of self and other, then we wait and yield to the effects of therapeutic human understanding. We never know how it’s going to turn out; we only know that truth facing is medicine for the soul.

So, it’s the same when I write books. Stories can be medicine for the soul. Esoteric fiction moves us into powerful psychic realities, dynamics that shift the way we see ourselves and others. Stories are their own form of truth facing – medicine for the soul.

I remember that while writing The Unholy, my depth psychotherapy practice was overrun by patients seeking healing from religious trauma. They had suffered physical, emotional and often sexual trauma within a religious context. It was within church-going homes, respected religious institutions, and mediations ashrams that trauma abounded. As they healed, they desperately wanted to make the perpetrators change; but so often the families and organizations refused to see the problem. Thus, there was no hope for changing those in denial; but my patients, through their own journey into self-understanding, healed and changed.

My writing shifted during this time away from inspirational psychology and into visionary fiction. Here I told stories of emotional and spiritual upheaval. Trauma laced its way through action-packed dramas of religion gone bad and one person’s determined struggle to battle dark forces within and without. Within the narrative, as in our daily life, things vacillated between hope and despair. The imagination takes us into realms of visions, dreams, and everyday magic in a way that inspirational psychology approaches but, for me, did not bring home.

Stories take us headlong into what we’re grappling with in our own lives. Unconsciously, we’re always drawn to read the story that will speak most to us at a given time. The writing of Goddess of the Wild Thing bolted out of me as patients moved into issues of what it means to find love. It doesn’t go the same way for everybody. You can’t pin it down. Love is a wild goddess. The image of the wild goddess came to me in a dream one night. It was to be the title for this particular book that depicts an age-old struggle about love—whether bad love is better than no love— and the discovery that love is a wild thing.

So when it comes to changing someone, don’t do it. It’s the message of lives nearly lost and then regained. We can lose ourselves by giving more and more to someone who does not see or want to see that there is a problem. Whether in religion, love, or day-to-day work and relationships it’s the getting on with things as they are that matters. Of course, that doesn’t imply sticking with what’s bad or dysfunctional. There are mean and malignant people. They are the ones who, in small ways or big strikes, undermine our sense of worth and integrity. Actually, they seem to get a kick out of it. Oh, they might say they’re sorry, but they’ll come around and do it again. There’s a payoff for them in the form of power and control. We need to shake loose of them and move on.

In story writing, it’s utterly fascinating to experience the characters speaking to me, the writer, of their plight. Maybe (they wonder) they made up the bad thing that happened. Maybe they blew it out of proportion. Maybe, maybe, maybe. So many maybes signal upside down thinking and one unhappy soul setting themselves up for another you-know-what.

So, when we read we can go through things on the page that helps us with everyday things. That way we’re less likely to set ourselves up for another you-know-what situation. We can avoid unnecessary life pain and trauma through an understanding of self and others. Reading opens up soul paths for change because, after all, you can’t change anyone but yourself.

#visionaryfiction #depthpsychology #soulmedicine #change

Rape, Rage, and the Monster

There are timeless myths and stories that speak to the horror of rape. Rape makes us insane, and it can empower us to heal. Then, there can be hope. Hope potentially ushers in a more profound understanding of the incredible force that is rage and the patriarchy that ignites it.

A recent Broadly article notes, “If we go back to Greek antiquity, Medusa was a mighty force endowed with the power to both kill and redeem. Sculptors and painters would use the Medusa head as an apotropaic symbol to ward off evil spirits. But her tragic beauty was even more inspiring. Take the Roman mosaic floor on display at the Getty, where Medusa’s wild, snaky locks are depicted as wind-blown curls, her petrifying gaze an elegantly turned head. Her head peers out from the center of the mosaic, a protective talisman offset by a shield of concentric circles. There are countless other examples, too, where she’s definitely more muse than monster . . . Beautiful victim, monstrous villain, powerful deity—she’s all of those things, and more besides. Perhaps it’s that mercurial nature that makes her an endless source of fascination. She is, in a sense, a site for our collective projections of both fear and desire: simultaneously a symbol of women’s rage and a figure sexualized by the very patriarchal forces she is seeking vengeance against.”

In symbolic dream material treated in depth psychotherapy, the Medussa emerges as an image of rape. When the symbol enters treatment, I wonder about the unresolved sexual pain of the patient. Over time we move into the pain, find our way in and through it, and therapeutically understand the victim’s story. We all have stories, some about sexual pain.

Unresolved sexual trauma is a monster. Visionary fiction may visit the hallowed realm of rape, rage, and the monster. The dark side of the patriarchy is the monster of all manner of violation. Sexual rape is intimate violation. A monster enters and plunders.

In visionary thrillers such as Goddess of the Wild Thing and The Unholy, we experience trauma. Unconsciously we’re drawn to the stories we need to read, must read. They nourish the soul as well as the mind. In them, something within us is touched. It needs to be touched because it’s lying there dormant and in need of awakening.

“Consciousness”, reported one patient, “is so hard.” “There are so many other things I’d rather do with my time than turn within and discover what’s there. I’ve rushed around, done this and that in a frenzy. It’s all been about escaping myself—getting away from the monster and my rage. It’s there for a reason. I’m glad I faced the monster and my rage. I’ve told my story and have come out the other end of that dark tunnel. But, it was no easy task to face the monster and the rage.”

Good stories, thrillers, take us into dark tunnels of mind. We’re hesitant to go there. We should be. They are scary places. But, unless we take things a step at a time, enter into our story we never discover the hope that can heal.

Hope comes at the price of our time, energy, and effort. Nothing happens without time, energy, and effort. There’s an emotional zero, a big psychic zip, without investment into self. Remember, passivity is an investment, a lethargic and fruitless one, but an investment nonetheless. The unique fact about an investment in story, following instinct into the dark tunnel of discovery regarding self and others, is that there can be hope.

When we read, we do it for a reason. The mind nudges us to read. Stories come our way, tug at us. We listen, respond, and discover that when we read, we receive what we need. We find out that behind the rape, rage, and monster is the hope that we can heal.