This is the last of a four part series on lessons revisited and solidified during the pandemic.
The first 3 posts on Scarcity, Three Human Hungers and Structuring Time, are issues that for me, have definitely floated to the surface during my confinement.
And here is the fourth.
I started seriously considering the possibility of the existence of Dual Realities way back in the 1980’s. I found my Psychotherapy practice filled with those who were diagnosed as “Borderline Personality Disorder”, an unfortunate label. I mostly didn’t use the suggested DSM whatever-number-it-was back then. I didn’t want to stick my clients with a reputation that might limit them in some way. So when I got a referral called Borderline, I started switching it to Borderline Personality Organization. I also encouraged my therapy community, especially my trainees, to adopt this different perspective.
I bring this up because the clients with this “diagnosis” were most therapists’ worst nightmare. No one wanted to work with them back then, and tried to limit their practices to one Borderline at a time. No surprise. A person whose personality worked that way, could frustrate the most experienced of practitioners! A “Borderline” tended to be quick, smart, combative, testing, and successful at what they do (healthy or not). Typically, they were extremely creative…but mostly at proving their own strongly held mistaken belief that they were unlovable, and that you too, would eventually abandon them….another thing they were successful at…getting a therapist to give up on them.
I never felt that way. I absolutely loved the ingenious ways they could get all of us therapists to fight over them, to disagree about them, to “split” over them. It reminded me of me and my sisters growing up.
Talk about immersing one’s self all the way into a pre-decided reality…all or nothing, black and white, no gray. Brilliant. And a lot of therapists bought right into the reality, compelled to choose a side, or a singular definition of right or wrong.
(imagine a photo of the yin/yang thingy here)
But see, I was raised by my Dad, a brilliant, but covert, Master Teacher, who from day one, taught me that one thing, two things, even three could be completely true at the very same time.
He had three daughters and out of necessity I suppose, quietly negotiated, and mediated, and helped us see things from each others’ perspectives.
It may have been easiest for me though. Not because I was his oldest, but because, though he was my Dad, he was not my father. (He married my mother when I was two-ish.) It took me until well into adolescence to straighten out that conflicting statement.
“You’re my Dad but you’re not my dad? Huh??”
I had lived the proof throughout childhood, that two seemingly opposing things could both be true. I had enough experience with it in other parts of my life, that when I started getting calls from frantic therapists, throwing up their hands wanting to refer a Borderline (remember, labeled with affection by me), that’s what I set out to teach my new clients…exactly what my Dad had taught me…
“You’re Mother left you. AND Your Mother loved you.”
The real anchoring for me of the concept of Dual Realities came right after 9-11-2001.
Immediately following the attacks, in my search for understanding I stumbled across a PBS Special. The program was interviewing religious leaders, teachers and philosophers from all over the world who, in my opinion, were valiantly trying to prevent the next world war…trying to get us to consider the event from other perspectives.
One of my very first Blog posts was about this experience. https://chosenperspectives.com/2015/11/19/absolutely-nothing-is-absolute/
Anyway, what grew for me out of those experiences was an idea…my version of a primary theory, like my mentor’s all-encompassing idea about Scarcity forty years ago.
What if there really is only one single task for every human being to accomplish during their time on the planet? I now believe there is.
We need to learn how to be separate and connected at the very same time.
Talk about conflicting states, or dual realities! How can both of those be true simultaneously?
This is not new. We have each been dealing with this exact issue since our very conception. Think about it…even as we were growing our separate little bodies inside our mother’s womb, we cannot, and will not, ever be any more connected to another human being than that!
It may also be the oldest existential discussion of all. We are whole entities, completely unique, and separate from all others. No one can ever fully be in our shoes, and on our death beds, we will all take that final breath completely alone.
But at the same time, we are completely connected to everyone else. (Hey, all those people at Woodstock would tell you they were ONE with each other!)
We are certainly connected as a species, and some would say we are linked, attached, and related to ALL living things on the planet.
Well, as if we needed a reminder of these facts, in case we needed to learn this lesson experientially, along comes Covid 19, throwing us all into the ongoing, daily circumstance of being separate and connected at the same time.
We have had to literally separate ourselves, to socially distance, to hunker down and isolate in order to slow down or stop this virus.
But what is also true is that we are all in this together, finding creative methods for proving and anchoring our connections, all while frantically searching for the way to save our entire species.
In every single moment of our lives, based on our individual and collective stories, we are choosing a perspective, a way of seeing, defining or experiencing the world.
I never thought I would be quoting one of Mr. Trump’s staff, but his Dr. Birx said the following, actually as I was writing this:
“We need to protect each other at the same time we’re voicing our discontent,”
And an even more surprising resource for me to share is about the video made by former President Bush:
In a three-minute video shared on Twitter on Saturday, Bush urged Americans to remember “how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat.”
“In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants. We are human beings, equally vulnerable and equally wonderful in the sight of god,” Bush said. “We rise or fall together, and we are determined to rise.”
What the virus is teaching us, shoving in our faces really, is that we have to find a perspective that includes both being separate and connected at the very same time….
And we have to find it soon.
As always, I’d love comments. Helps me feel connected even if you disagree with me…
5 thoughts on “Day 60 of being “grounded”– 5/4/2020 Lessons Solidified Part Four- Chosen Perspectives”
I am writing now before I get re-buried in my workday. Managing people and construction during the time of coronavirus has challenges!
I also wanted to write now and not let time go by because I have really appreciated the writing in your four recent essential lesson posts. I like them BECAUSE they run deep, and they resonate for me. I feel their density with the learning and experience you have gained personally and professionally. Some of your other posts have lighter or darker qualities and provide windows to who you are but these have a broader, cohesive reach and the message is even bigger than the writer. In these writings, personality takes a back seat to substance and value. Your writing doesn’t come across as trying; it feels more like you unselfconsciously wove chords and threads we recognize into a rich and sturdy design. When I was in design school, I remember a discussion we had about the definition of design as compared to that of art. The upshot was that design uses artistry to solve problems. These four posts help solve problems and I am drawn to look for that in writing. Whether the writing is fiction or non-fiction, something in me looks for how the writer builds a bridge that helps me get from where I am, helping me understand something (myself, life, others) better than I did before so I can learn and grow as a person and reach the other side ready for the next learning. Thank you for writing these. I hope you write more like them.
Oh my gosh, what a wonderful response! Thank you, thank you so much!
This is a lot to chew on. Because of severe mental illness there have been a lot of bad experiences in our family. One ongoing challenge is to keep remembering the good. Instead of focusing on the negative. Like in the news the bad stuff can dominate because it causes a more primitive, fight or flight response. When good things happen we feel safe and loved. If we focus, as I believe our media causes the entire society to do, on these dramatics, then we have a sense of impending doom and the scarcity that you mentioned causes combativeness. People protesting and dramatizing about not being allowed to go to the movies or keep their hair roots died as if these are true freedoms. It inures us to the real problems, like the boy who cried wolf.
Oh my, so well said! I think my next post will have to be another Spirit Lifter! Thanks for your comments, XingfuMama.
I didn’t continue my diatribe: I truly believe that if we can see the good from the past, while still recognizing that bad things happened also, it helps give us balance and allows us to live in mental place where we feel secure even as we see the bad stuff and try to remedy it. Ultimately that makes us stronger in the face of adversity when it comes along.