Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grace - The Wrestler - Doubt


Here's another side of me, two sides perhaps. After watching "THE WRESTLER and "DOUBT", both of which drove me wild for very different reasons. I must admit, I am many things. each with their own purpose, experience, style, truth, design, and passion, Oh yes, passion. For all my simplicity, peace, introspection, faith, hope, love, compassion, - I am wild. Wildly passionate. The video below, "Everlast" - from the series "Saving Grace" - Oh my - I am intrigued, excited, fascinated, by the song, the show, by her - I love her character, Grace - the challenges, the history, her friends, family, her work, her Angel, her passion and strength - loyalty and honesty, her fears and weaknesses, her secrets, her inhibitions, desires, her dog, and how hard she works at everything. She is confident and yet in her quiet times alone, quite insecure. Ah, but she hides that as she 'fights' for justice and love of family and friends. she is quite promiscuous - it fills a void - puts her in charge - her way to conquer past traumas. Sound familiar to anyone?

Great song huh? I shared my love for Grace as a precursor to my writing about the movies. "The Wrestler" and "Doubt". I am in character somewhat to do so - Grace's character. It is an armor of sorts, a protection, a fierce approach, if you will. I may sound "out of character" for those of you who know me - and it is because I am - I apologize in advance for any harsh realities written in harsh tones and aggression - and as much as I am out of character it is a part of me I can access but seldom do.. Call it my dark side, or perhaps where I am moved to a rawness that is seldom exposed. I believe we all have that side to us - it is created from extremes survived - get it?!!

First, "The Wrestler". Mickey Rourke is absolutely amazing. He is really nice to look at. Talk about fantasy!! More importantly, he is passionate about his life's work as a wrestler. He lost a lot because of it. I was moved to tears by his desperate re-union with his daughter. He failed even after a tear-jerker' of a moment they had. In the end, he died for her and because of her. He was continually haunted by his life - and remained true to his truth - sometimes the truth can destroy us - his did.

"Doubt" I was an emotional mess at the opening scene. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - as Father Flynn. There he was on the altar giving his sermon - the faithful, trusting him - hanging on his every word - as he professed to be a man of God - and all the while he was "diddling" a boy, an altar boy - Donald. And Meryl Streep - Sister Agnacious - She knew - she stood firm - she had certainty . In the end, her certainty became doubt - the church and all it's pompous arrogance was embedded in her spirit - it made her doubt herself - this being the biggest tragedy. I know this doubt - when I filed suit against the arch-diocese and I asked the priest who knew everything to speak on my behalf he said he had no idea what I was talking about - I thought I was going out of my mind - it was a crucial moment of doubt - so powerful it was the only time I ever wanted to end my life. This doubt represented years of strict Catholic Italian upbringing and religious guilt. This doubt was life shattering, life changing, and life as I knew it ended on many levels.

Eventually the whole experience of doubt was life-giving as I emerged with new faith, new insights, new direction-purpose-hope-healing and after years - forgiveness. Quite a journey.

So what is the connection to Grace, The Wrestler and Doubt? Grace is courageous as she faced her past traumas and is on a journey to wholeness. She is filled with doubt and determination. The wrestler surrendered to his truth, the outcomes to his choices and tragically died doing so. He too was on a journey to wholeness and died trying. Doubt? It is a strong emotion which leads people in directions that often destroy them. Why, why, why? Even though Sister Agnacious stood firm to her certainty, in the end her doubt crushed her. Self doubt can be paralyzing.

As I reflect on my strong emotional reactions after watching these movies intertwined with Grace's character I am swirling and remembering. I am Grace, I am The Wrestler, I am Sister Agnacious. I am Grace because I, like her, have fought demons. Although my life's work is not as a cop where I can "get the bad guys" -my work does give me the gift of being part of other's slaying their dragons. I am The Wrestler because I remain true to my truth - even though some of it is horrid it is still me. I felt like him when I wanted to die - I understand his final decision to do so. And Doubt. I stood firm like Sister Agnacious - I was unyielding - and yet in my moments alone with the truth - I had doubt. And truth be told - even today, as I think back - I can doubt my own reality as I feel the power of church-priest-sacrament-sin- still wondering, if when the back of his hand came hard across my face did I deserve it - after all, he was a priest - a man of God. I should not have resisted him. Yes, I have doubt - for all my certainty - for all my standing up and fighting - for all my crushed beliefs -betrayal -that I KNOW to be true - I have moments of doubt. And so I carry that doubt, hidden but there all the same - allowing it to surface when provoked such as with Grace, The Wrestler and Doubt - Recalling that him hitting me was the act of aggression that brought me to light - even all else that he did as he prayed over me, telling me how proud of me he was, that he loved me and was sacrificing himself for me so I could be well - I believed him, I trusted him, right up until he back-handed me.

I am many, many things. It is a miracle I can write this - know this - feel this - believe this - and fear your rejection because most folks want to reject such truth. Do you reject this, me? Do you?

Okay, enough huh? Just know I have no expectation of you one way or the other. I have long since stopped expecting. Regardless, I am here, still me, still a woman of peace and wisdom - love-and compassion, humor, and trying every day to keep it in"neutral". And ya, I 'wrestle' with 'doubt' at times, do you?

Love Gail

Monday, April 20, 2009

Can You Read My Mind? See Right Through Me?

Who in your life seems to be able to read your mind - see right through you - and do you see this as a good thing, a bad thing?

As I reflect, there are times when I believed it was a very good thing, a mysterious wonder, an ability to be revered even. I even thought it was the way it was suppose to be, and that it was who he was. Truth be told, - he only knew/saw what I let him know and see. At the time, it made sense for me and her to keep him revered - it served our needs and his, as well. We were quite fragile then, broken if you will - her, far more than I. He knew that though - and invited me to help him help her. We were all bonded in boundary-less ways - he was in charge. Oddly, I liked the surrender. I knew I was surrendering, so in essence I was really in charge. That, he didn't know - I made sure of that. The song? It was her song - hers about him.

I don't believe anyone can read any one's mind or see through someone. I, at times, have felt as if someone could but that was more about stroking their ego than anything else and getting my needs met at the time. I wonder about those experiences, who I was then - perhaps scared, lonely, intuitive, calculating, - and a myriad of other things. Survival at the time.

Life is no longer so desperate - hasn't been for a long, long time. Those close to me, know me. It serves no underlying purpose other than truth. The chosen surrender back then was part of my journey to truth - I did what I did because it worked.

In your lives, do you create or have you ever created the illusion for someone so that they believe they can read your mind - or see right through you? If so, what purpose did it serve - did it work at the time?

Complicated questions, or maybe not.

Love Gail

Friday, April 17, 2009

"Stand By Me" (around the world)

This arrangement, synchronized from all over the world takes the song "Stand By Me' to amazing heights, places, influence and meaning.

I was thrilled.

The question could be posed - "Who stands by you, and whom do you stand by? And what does "stand by" mean to you? The more I write it and say it the more profound it's meaning becomes. I love loyalty, and valiant efforts to protect, (non-violent, of course) you sillies. I believe in standing for justice and truth, and freedom and hope and individual pursuits of happiness and wholeness so long as while doing so no one else is infringed upon. I know, I am an idealist - guilty! :-) And dare I say - love, yes "stand by" love, at all times, in all endeavors, in all pursuits, in all valiant efforts, in all loyalties, do so lovingly.

Just let this amazing message in this ole song "Stand By Me' speak for itself.

Love Gail

Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Choice Theory" a Re-Post

I have found some amazing new blogs to frequent. And I am thrilled that new folks are visiting me, as well. I have also noticed that people are clear and confident about the "what and whys" of life, what makes us whole, energy, living in the moment, and it is all so enlightening and purposeful and insighful and often writtten so eloquently that I am in awe. . I too have a foundation upon which I rely. It include much of what I have read on other sites and is blended with my own beliefs. I thought I would re-post my insight into human behavior. So, here it is:

Monday, November 17, 2008

"CHOICE" and how not to be "Tied To Te Whipping Post"

I just deleted a "post", titled "Tied To The Whipping Post", named after a song by the Alman Brother's Band. I saved it in a document for later posting. It wasn't time. Perhaps it will never be the right time.
I was definitely strongly challenged regarding an understanding I live by that explains perfectly, all human behavior. I am going to put it out here for your considerations. I have touched on this in earlier posts. Here goes: This is founded in William Glasser's 'Choice Theory' upon which the counseling style 'Reality Therapy' was developed. For this writing the focus will be an explanation of 'Choice Theory', earlier referred to as 'Control Theory'. To validate my right to even explain this I will tell you I am certified in this theory, was on the Board of Directors of The New England Assocition of Reality Therapy and live freely, not blaming or as a victim by knowing its rationale.

What motivates a behavior? We are internally driven not externally driven to meet our basic psychological needs, no different than our basic survival needs for food, shelter, procreation, these needs are encoded within us. They are: 1- love and belonging, 2 - power and control (meaning that we believe what we do has value to ourselves and at least one other person, 3 - fun and 4- freedom (to choose to live our life as we desire, such as sexual orientation, style of dress, and so forth). Every day from the day we are born until the day we die every behavior is our best attempt at the time to meet one or all of our basic psychological needs.

Let's take for example a baby. What behavior does it use to meet all it's needs. Right, crying. Eventually, when that doesn't work the baby may try cooing or whatever and so begins the process of each person storing, what is referred to as "need satisfying behaviors to meet our needs". We all have what I will call, a "picture album of behaviors that meet our needs". These "pictures" change over time and the one's we no longer find need satisfying become memories and new pictures are put into our albums for easy access. The best way to explain this is with the following example. When I was three my Dad brought home a little red tractor that he made for me. That tractor met all my needs, it was fun, I had belonging because other little kids came over to ride it, I had power because I felt quite grown up and in charge when I rode it and I was definitely having fun. When that tractor no longer served to meet my needs I replaced it with a bike and eventually a car. The tractor was now a memory of what used to work. Otherwise I would be riding it to work! Right? :-) Moving along. A little about how we are internally motivated to behave to meet our needs and not externally driven. This seems to invoke the most resistance. I understand as I resisted too because in embracing this I could never blame anyone for my behavior and as unsettling as that is I will tell you it is truly empowering and freeing beyond measure. Examples: If you are stopped at a red light and it never turned green would we find your decayed body at that light years later. Of course not. One stops at the light because they are choosing not to break the law. So yes, the external prompted the thought but meeting one's internal needs drove the behavior. I, like you, have gone through many red lights. Another example - when the phone rings do you always answer it? No,I am sure you don't. SO the ringing does promote the thought or feeling but the behavior/choice to answer is internally motivated. We are bombarded by many external factors but what we choose to do in response is ALWAYS about us. No one can make another person behave/act. Breathe............

Okay - phew.............

Next -, "What is a behavior?" Every behavior is broken down in to four parts. 1-thinking, 2- feeling, 3-doing, 4- physiology (as in increased heart rate or tears just flow, etc.). Of the four the ONLY part we are 100% responsible for all the time is the DOING. Every day we are bombarded by external stimuli that forces us to' choose a behavior in response to the external stimuli and what we do in response is always about the one doing the behavior and not about their external world. Here is a very personal accounting to make my point for you, my readers:

When my daughter was seven she was tested and labeled mentally retarded. The language back then was harsh. This label opened up a whole set of discriminatory events, one of which being she had to ride the "special bus" to another school to learn in the 'special needs program'. Those buses were a big red flashing sign that might as well have just flashed "retard". Quite unkind. Anyway, her 'special bus' would pull up around the same time as the 'normal bus'. One kid in particular targeted her. He was older, 14 or 15, a "Jock" type, my little girl was 10. He would do such things as call her cruel names, pull her hair, bump her, pull on her back pack and so forth. She came home crying, often. I spoke to the school, the bus driver and even his Mother - I did all the right things. I would stand on the hill looking down to where the buses stopped. One day my daughter got off the bus and he came up behind her, tore her back pack off so aggressively that she fell face down. In seconds I was charging down the hill, I, without skipping a beat, threw him off balance and right on to the ground, I had my knee in his shoulder while yelling, "you wanna try that with me?" Now, who was responsible for what I CHOSE to do? Certainly not him, that was 100% about me. Did his behavior provoke angry thoughts? Yes! Did his behavior provoke strong feelings? Yes! Did his behavior create an immediate physiology in me? Absolutely, my heart was racing, my hands were clenched. But he DID NOT make me run down that hill and put him on the ground. That made sense to ME at the time. I could have been arrested, thank God I wasn't. And clearly, he never bothered her again and I was known from that point on as the 'crazy lady who waited on the hill!' I share this to make a point. I would never even consider crediting him with my behavior. It is not his to own. And so we are faced with choices every day that are stimulated by many factors. Again, what we do is always about us and our internal drive to meet our basic psychological needs. And by the way, we can never assume which need another person is meeting by their behaviors, it is unique and individual to each of us based on the "pictures we have stored in our album of need-satisfying behaviors.

Some of the more horrific external stimuli are quite difficult to apply to choice theory. It is so much easier to blame, I know. Having been a victim myself I take responsibility for what I did in response,. Of course I wish the stimuli never happened. We are powerless over other peoples behaviors and powerful in our own, even in the worst of circumstances. When I think of the sexual abuse I endured I know what he did was not my fault. I did what I could in that horrible situation to survive the encounters. I give him NO credit for how I survived him, that was about me. Yes, he is to blame for his actions and why that made sense to him will remain a mystery. What pictures did he have in his album? As one who survived I take all the credit for surviving him.

Sometimes the pictures we have stored in our albums are harsh as they meet the demands of our internal world. I had need satisfying pictures no 10 year old should ever have to have, not ever. Again, as a survivor and not a victim I take great pride in my choices and I hold him to nothing. The list could go on of behaviors people have stored in their albums that are so unfortunate and horrid, times of war, assaults, violence, all types of abuse, illness, and the list goes on. I wish with all my might such things didn't exist and that everyone had picture albums filled with gentle behaviors to meet their needs at any given time. Again, I am writing this to empower you. To let you know that no one can ever blame you for what they did nor can you hold anyone accountable for your behavior. Yes, they, sadly, are responsible for their actions and you are then able to create a picture of a behavior that will work to meet YOUR needs. Even in the worst of times. The on going argument is always, "if they didn't do whatever then I wouldn't have done whatever"> I get it, I do. I guess if we wait for the world to be okay so we only have to choose 'nice behaviors' we will be waiting until we die. There will always be powerful events that provoke a strong reaction, it is just that what we DO in response is about the one doing the doing.
In new situations we are forced to find a way to meet our needs by creating a new behavior and then storing it in our album until it no longer works to meet our needs. When I think of the work I do with addiction every client is there because what they were doing no longer works and they are searching for new behaviors to replace the old ones, i.e - using drugs or alcohol. Each person is deciding if they can get high once more or drink again without consequence. Every one is deciding if they have had enough pain. Pain and pleasure are powerful internal motivators that promote changing pictures of need satisfying behaviors. It happens in marriages all the time and certainly applies well to addiction. If people couldn't change the 'picture' of who they choose to love then there would never be a divorce. It is really no different than my red tractor story - in theory. You keep the picture and thus the behavior until it no longer works to meet your needs.

At the risk of beating a dead horse I will conclude. I hope you have been empowered by 'Choice Theory" and that you at least will consider that your behaviors are just that, your behaviors. You are 100% in charge, not of what the world hands you but what you do in response despite the challenge. I am sure this has raised a few eye brows and I understand why. When I think of how I started this post referencing the title "Tied To The Whipping Post" I am aware of my own internal conflict of what will be most need satisfying. My own basic needs are in conflict over this which is often the case. for all of us. Consider, if you will, the wondrous uniqueness and freedom in the above writing. It will only be so if YOU decide it is in your best interest in meeting your basic needs at this time.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Everybody Hurts

Everybody hurts, some time, hold on...................... this song, wow. It sends chills, ya know? I was commenting over at Grizzlies amazing site about nature, and Easter and traditions around Easter, what was, what is no longer, what is, and I found myself sharing that "it" hurt then and "it" hurts now. His responses were beautiful, and comforting and understanding and with what I experienced as heartfelt concern and wishes for me to move on, let go, be happy. All of his wishes are true, - I have moved on, I am happy - and I believe this is true because I have not let go. Let me explain:

I believe people go to great lengths to separate themselves from themselves, - up to and including death. I have witnessed this in my work in addictions services countless times. This fight to separate is almost always about something they did or something that was done to them that they wish were not true. For me, what I experienced at the hands of Roman Catholic Clergy is unimaginable, and yet "it" is true, "it" is part of my truth. And the truth is "it" hurt me, deeply. No matter how far I move on or how much I heal the experience was what it was and in my moving forward I honor that. I am actually grateful I can feel "it" when I choose to. The difference is, I am in charge now - "it" is my experience to accept as it happened. My wishing it were not true would be wasted energy and I would be living falsely were I to try, let alone succeed. My past is just that, my past. I cannot pick and choose which events I will hold on to or let go of, they are all part of my unique tapestry of design - all the colors that make me, me. Each one is as it should be.

When a day, such as Easter comes along I remember years passed when I was part of a faith community and so yes, I 'feel' the loss and I remember why I am no longer involved with church. The why is painful, it is suppose to be, I was hurt. At the same time I realize my strength, gifts if you will that resulted from the hurt. My faith is strong, my wisdom abounds, my surrender and acceptance of it all is integrated. What is tragic betrayal and frightening abuse are also some of my greatest gifts because "it" is part of me, and a source of my strength. In order for me to love myself I must love all of me. I didn't come to this place easily or quickly - it was/is a journey and I arrived, whole and enlightened.

So yes, "Everybody hurts" hold on, I did................don't let go. There is a price for that - a high price. What I did with the truth, the hurt is the greater promise - reality......because now, "it" no longer has me tied to the whipping post - I am free, and not of the experience, quite the opposite -I am free to "be", dare I say, in the light because I don't have to hide or keep "it" hidden - remember, "it" is now one of my gifts of self, - I, like you, are a gift - and nothing, or no one can take that from me or from you, only if I/you let them. Don't let them. And don't let go, hold on.............................and at the risk of over-stating, this is "tragedy to triumph", yes, triumph, indeed.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Father And Son

When this song was announced on the radio a few years back I was driving to work. The announcer said, "if you are driving, pull off to the side of the road - this one is a tear-jerker"! I did pull over, and he was right - it was - a "tear-jerker".

When my son's father left, he was a pre-schooler. I, for a long time, felt that he would stay involved withhis son - not me, but certainly his son. When he left and right up to now I consistently told Dolan "when your Dad and I created you we loved each other and we loved you together from the moment you were born, the rest doesn't matter". He often thanked me for never bad-mouthing his father (Lord know I could have), anyway, I didn't.

As this song implies - there comes a time when he, the father comes back, and all the son's questions are answered. I want this for Dolan far more than he wants it for himself. If I ask him how he feels about such things, his response is always, "I hold him to nothing". Dolan is 25+ and hasn't seen his father in over 20 years. I find that SO hard to comprehend. He has missed out on a miracle - our son. Therefore the loss is his to reconcile. Some things are not able to be reconciled - moved beyond maybe, but what is irreconcilable is forever, in this situation. The lost opportunity is forever lost - the time for forgiveness has long since passed - it is nothing more than indifference - that is both a gift and a harsh reality.

I am not sure why these well hidden feelings are surfacing today - perhaps as I start to feel my excitement of Dolan coming home this weekend, or I hear him always referring to me and Skipp as his 'parents', or I revel in his gentle spirit and humor and creative expressions, and love of family, his family, and I realize - that the reason his father came in to my life was so that we could create Dolan - in his earliest form - of egg and sperm - the rest of his amazing design was created long after his father left - although the first three years we loved him together are forever part of his foundation as well. This I cannot deny.

Is it quite odd that I, from time to time, like today - hope that his father will find him - and tell him he is "sorry?" Tell him he has missed him all these years and that Dolan will, in some way, look at him, if only with pity for all that his father denied himself. - knowing that he has been right all along - he "holds him to nothing"...........nothing at all. Because without him he has everything.

And so it is his father that will stand before whomever in his final moment, and 'answer' for his actions - he will fall to his knees as the weight of what he lost crushes him - and it is in that moment he will know - that he turned his back on a miracle - his son.

Gail-in the moment

Monday, April 6, 2009



Great song- great video :-)

A universal understanding - A smile. :-)

It is also said that while on the phone, if you smile while talking - your whole tone and affect will be happy and easy to hear. Try it - especially if it is one of those calls you make or receive that is less than pleasant, - a bill collector, an angry co-worker or boss, and so on, just smile while you respond. :-)

When we went to the Bronx to visit our son and I smiled at 'Laverne' who happened by the bus stop, a lovely conversation followed It all began with a smile. :-)

In stores, in your car, at work, at home, alone, taking a walk, when you're scared, when you're sad, when you pray, when you blog, smile, smile, smile. :-)

Today it is raining, :-)

Love, Gail


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is

I love this song - it is on one of my old Peter Paul and Mary tapes - it speaks volumes

As the song builds so do I - to tears and my hands raised in desperate hope - hope that one day we can all reach across lines of prejudice, difference, and indifference and offer acceptance, understanding and love. Oh yes, I am an idealist and proud of begins with you and with me-what we teach our children and those we influence - the change begins with you and with me. In this song one Mom believed in the innocence of one daughter - joined her in her desire to love. The power of that is great -

I hope you all appreciated and enjoyed the song.

Love Gail