Across too many years of my life I automatically assumed that I knew why “he” did or said things. Everyone lives out this unspoken sense, as well. Almost never, even professionally, did I hear others questioning themselves. My professors and supervisors close to constantly confirmed our tendency to keep our eyes off of self. Their never voicing a wanting to review their own views deepened my unconscious lockstep with humanity.
While my years of practice were intentionally meant to help people see their problems, I still wonder whether I ever, adequately demonstrated the full circle? After all, a goodly part of what those discussions behind closed doors repeatedly focused on how little was known about family and friends. Feelings of dismay gurgled deep within me as I caught sight of that unspoken prejudice. Allowing myself to see my client’s complaints as confirmation of commonality was at odds with what is normal.
Now and again, catching sight of my being that “other” person could have dramatically improved my ability to help others see their own part in the problem. Yet, like everyone else, I wielded family, friends, peers and yes clients to distract myself from me. A few of my older peers warned me about this mistake. I wish that I had listened, well.
Uncomfortably, I finally caught sight of my shared snag while conducting domestic violence groups. Unpleasant arguments among both men and women in the D.V. groups forced me to see my prejudices. Watching both sexes make disturbingly similar accusations against their partners set off resounding personal awareness that I, along with everyone else, was using the partner as a distraction from self.
Through that discovery a refashioning of repentance has begun to take shape. My learned acceptance that there is no outside to the box was being disrupted. True repentance, a letting go of that learned denial of self, is a painful thing to live out in one’s prayer life. Out of this, though, grew a new perspective of the works of Teresa of Avila and Saint Silouan the Athonite.