Dear Inner Circle,

Engaged in discussion with a young fellow this week, the world shattered. We’d met a few times and he’d shared at depth his history of abuse at the hands of his father. Until now, his discussions only referenced his mother as a glowing, almost saintly hero. This week, while describing the circumstances of his background, he told a couple of stories that stunned me, but registered no emotion in the telling. His mother had clearly abused him in ways so unthinkable that I dare not tell of them here. All I said in response was, “Gosh! I thought your father was the monster!” and his whole world shattered. Tears and wailing were all he could manage. It seems that in order to distance himself from his father, he’d constructed a saint-like mother. As soon as he saw his mother as an abuser, or less than heroic, he could not bear to look anymore. I felt like I’d made him an orphan with just one short statement. At that point, I believe I saw a chick breaking out of an egg. It was awkward, it was painful, it was bursting out of relative comfort into a fearful yet promising, unknown.

As a much older man spoke to me this week, we marvelled together at the lengths to which he has spent his life seeking the approval of his family. The approval never seemed to be delivered, even though it was often promised. This man is no “spring chicken” and yet he has spent most of his money and ordered much of his life in an effort to achieve his longed-for approval. He was with me this week because he’d just copped some dreadful verbal abuse from his parents and some close relatives, even though he’d just emptied his bank account for them. He felt like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick, that moved further away with every step he took. When he stopped walking in moment of exhaustion, the family seemed to bring the carrot closer. The words they used on him were vicious this week. They suggested that they’d be better off if their son was dead – they even had some suggestions on how he might bring his life to an end. This was a tough time we spent in my office. Toward the end of our session I said, “Mate, all the weapons your family use against you are no match for your feather.” “What’s my feather?” he asked. “You my friend, have the power to call this stuff from your family by its real name. It looks like and sounds like family love, but its actual name is alienation and severance.” The man is a grandfather and his own children and grandchildren are paying a price for his constant need of approval, that has never come and never will. Through a lot of pain, I saw this fellow push toward something new. I saw him want to leave his fate and instead find his destiny.

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