In flood time you can see how some trees bend,
And because they bend, even their twigs are safe,
While stubborn trees are torn up, roots and all.
And the same thing happens in sailing:
Make your sheet fast, never slacken,–and over you go,
Head over heals and under: and there’s your voyage.
Forget you are angry! Let yourself be moved!
Prince Haiman to the King of Thebes, his father, Creon
Sophocles, Antigoné, Scene III, Lines 80-86
There is one thing I don’t’ understand,
No, two that are very confusing:
Why would you come to therapy if you think you are right?
and why would you come to therapy and then lie to your therapist?
A querying Dr. Wall
A weakness I have is that I assume people are telling me the truth when they come to see me. Of course, I’ve found that that is not always the case. But, as a pessimist or cynic, I wouldn’t last very long as a therapist. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, even if your wife or husband won’t. You haven’t lied to me (yet). I’m not married to you. So if you lie to me, it’s no skin off my nose (speaking of skin off my nose, I just had skin cancer surgery on my nose and I look like a goon). I go home to my wife. All it was was a waste of my time. I try to learn something from it, so that it’s not a total loss. Look….I got a blog out of it!
Most people who lie to me just do it and leave. But I had one guy that I helped reconcile with his wife and they were doing awesome and I was so proud of them and then all of a sudden they just quit coming. That’s not usually a good sign. But I don’t dwell on it. Things happen. Crops need to be planted, decks built, vacations taken and school’s out or Christmas is around the bend, so I just go with the flow. I don’t fret. I’d have been institutionalized years ago if I did that. No, I just go home to Mary Sue and get my grove on, which is really entertaining when you look like a goon.
This guy comes to his last appointment alone. I didn’t know it was his last appointment till he told me. He said he thought he owed me an apology because he’d been lying to me and his wife the whole time he was in therapy. Yes, indeed, he was having his affair with his affairee throughout our whole process of healing. Some process of healing. What a joke. When his wife finally found out that all of her “healing” had been a mockery and he was using her and their therapist for sport, she dumped him. He came alone to tell me he was sorry he lied to me. He thought I should know. Oh. OK. Thanks…well, ah,….sure.
The other thing I don’t understand are these people that come to see me and tell me why everything they are doing and thinking and feeling is right. They go to great lengths to convince me. I gently try to plant some seeds, but get rebuffed. I get out the hoe and try to break up the ground, but it’s nothing but rock. So….tell me why you’re here again?
I could give you story after story of how stubbornness has ruined lives. It’d be a sorry state of sadness and would serve little purpose. The stubborn would be easy to mock, too. I try to have compassion. Sometimes I REALLY have to try. It’s hard to love somebody who is SO RIGHT that they don’t need anyone else’s opinion. Everyone around them, their kids, spouses, parents, friends, co-workers, are just a bunch of naysayers out to destroy their lives. It must be a sort of heaven to be right all the time. As Tom Petty sings:
Its good to be king and have your own way.
You don’t have to worry about anyone else’s input. They say that murderers have the highest self-image. Go figure.
The quote at the beginning of today’s blog is from the Greeks. Four hundred something BC. The Greeks were big into fate (To see the context of this quote, see my little blurb at the end of today’s blog.). It wouldn’t have mattered if Creon changed his mind or not. Sophecles would have found a way to illustrate that there is nothing you can do to fight gods or fate. You are stuck. A goner.
Now, I don’t believe in fate. Well, I should qualify that. I don’t believe in fate this side of the grave. After we die, I believe in fate. I believe it because the Bible says:
After death comes the judgment.
Ouch. Like, you mean, final? Yeah, there won’t be any salesmen or preacher or prophets trying to convince you that Jesus, in fact, did die for your sins and rose again and that the whole thing is true and not a ruse and that Jesus is the King of King and Lord of Lords. Now, C. S. Lewis painted a very ingenious picture of what happens after we die by writing in his book, The Great Divorce, that even after the grave people willingly chose heaven or hell based upon what they willingly chose in this life. But I fear he’s being a bit too generous and that, in fact, after we die, it’ll be pretty clear in, oh, about .001 seconds that maybe that preacher at Bible camp wasn’t so far off after all. And the stubborn will be bending finally and what they will be bending is their knees. And they won’t be doing it in gratitude. It’ll be fear, baby.
So, on this side of the grave, I try to help the stubborn temper their pride just enough to see a little wisdom so maybe they don’t have to bend their knees because they have to, but bend their spirit because they want to. Get a little practice now.
Context of the quote at the start of today’s blog: Oedipus had been fated by a prophecy to kill his father and bed his mother. All efforts by Oedipus and his family and adopted family to avoid this fate were to no avail. Oedipus inadvertently killed his father, the king of Thebes, and unwittingly married his mother and was the father of cursed children. When he found out what he had done, he blinded himself and was dethroned as king. Oedipus’ two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, agreed to rotate as kings every year, but when Eteocles took his turn as king of Thebes, he refused to give it up to Polyneices when his year was up. Polyneices attacked Thebes to take his throne back and both brothers killed each other. Creon, the brother of Oedipus’s wife, as the next of kin, became king of Thebes and declared Eteocles should receive an honorable burial, while Polyneices’ body be left to the dogs and vultures. If anyone tried to bury slain Polyneices, he would be put to death. Polyneices’ sister and Oedipus’ daughter, Antigone, tried to do so, and now King Creon had to put her to death in order to keep he own foolish decree. Haiman, Creon’s son, was engaged to Antigone, and cautioned his father to not make a foolish mistake, that it would be fine to bend a bit and not be so stubborn (the quote above). Creon scoffed at taking advice from his son. Creon imprisoned Antigone in a tomb, anyway, where she killed herself in hopelessness. Later, upon other advice, Creon, before he knew she’d committed suicide, went to her tomb to let her go after he changed his mind. But it’s too late. His son beat him to her grave and feigned killing his dad before he slayed himself in front of his father’s eyes and by Anigone’s body and then Creon’s wife killed herself on word her son killed himself. Shakespeare’s Hamlet had nothing on the Greeks.