Shame on Me

the most selfish person on earth

I spent half the day yesterday filling out a questionnaire, documenting all the ways I think my therapist has let me down. Suddenly she’s a fallen angel. One more greedy businessperson, sucking off of the poor and downtrodden. I had always trusted her competence, but reading a book about the condition I have diagnosed myself with has led me to believe that she is just another therapist who doesn’t know what she’s doing. The arrogance of people who believe they have superior knowledge! The impudence of the fees they charge! The stupidity of people with access to money, who choose to spend it on this horseshit. If therapy really works, it should be available to everyone. Why should a therapist be paid more than a loving daycare worker?

I can only afford therapy because my father’s family had money. They got here first. They cut down forests. They shot Indians. They imported slaves. Then they became carpetbaggers who ripped off Southern farmers after the civil war. They were industrialists who polluted whole valleys, denuded mountains, worked for companies that invented things like napalm. That’s why I have a little money. And what do I spend it on? Me.

Today I read an article about a Jewish congregation in Charlottesville. Here’s a quote from the article:

On Saturday morning, I stood outside our synagogue with the armed security guard we hired after the police department refused to provide us with an officer during morning services. (Even the police department’s limited promise of an observer near our building was not kept — and note, we did not ask for protection of our property, only our people as they worshipped).
Forty congregants were inside. Here’s what I witnessed during that time.
For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple. Had they tried to enter, I don’t know what I could have done to stop them, but I couldn’t take my eyes off them, either. Perhaps the presence of our armed guard deterred them. Perhaps their presence was just a coincidence, and I’m paranoid. I don’t know.
Several times, parades of Nazis passed our building, shouting, “There’s the synagogue!” followed by chants of “Seig Heil” and other anti-Semitic language. Some carried flags with swastikas and other Nazi symbols.
A guy in a white polo shirt walked by the synagogue a few times, arousing suspicion. Was he casing the building, or trying to build up courage to commit a crime? We didn’t know. Later, I noticed that the man accused in the automobile terror attack wore the same polo shirt as the man who kept walking by our synagogue; apparently it’s the uniform of a white supremacist group. Even now, that gives me a chill.

My therapist is probably Jewish. I’ve never asked. I have to be much more gentle with her! Suddenly I see that she is a person, a person like me, a person who could be threatened, afraid. I’m angry that she has a way to make money and I don’t. I’m angry that she isn’t perfect and all-knowing.

What do I think I deserve? Now I am ashamed of myself.

But this is how anger gets shut down. How does someone communicate anger without violence? How can I tolerate angry feelings in myself without shame and guilt? How can I address the anger I feel without putting the blame on someone else?

Harriet Lerner wrote The Dance of Anger. I’ve read it a bunch of times. I believe that in the current political climate exploring my own anger is important.

I saw a quote today, attributed to a neo-Nazi website, about what happened in Charlottesville:

“The real tragedy is what happened to the car. It was a very nice car, worth much more than the life of whoever died.”

I know that there is a place in me, a part of myself, that doesn’t care about anyone else. I believe it comes from an experience of pain, of not being protected, of having the shit kicked out of me, and no one stopped it, or even bothered to ask what happened or how I felt.

I know that as a parent I did the same thing my parents did, ignoring the obvious pain of my children because I was too wrapped up in my own pain during certain periods to care about them. Or maybe too afraid to hear the truth from them, their experience of me.

We can’t change the past. I can’t change anyone else. But I can be gentle with my therapist, who’s always been gentle with me.

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