As I vacationed at the beach this past week, I had the opportunity to see National Geographic Explorer Photo Journalist Brian Skerry give a presentation entitled “Ocean Soul”. Mr. Skerry drew us into his world of inspiration with a boyhood photo of himself when he was about 6 or 7 years of age. He shared his boyhood dream when the ocean first captured his imagination. He proceeded to tell us with words and his poignant images the oceanic world that has captivated his dreams and his life’s work which has spanned the globe with National Geographic Explorations.
At the end of this dramatic photo story he was asked “Which photo is your favorite?”
“Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.”
The Wizard of Oz has long been a favorite story and metaphor of life for me. I love the many metaphors contained within the story. The tornado delivers Dorothy into a "call" she cannot avoid. The yellow brick road is an invitation to the journey of life and discovery of the mettle contained within oneself. Along the journey Dorothy discovers other seekers who have been stuck in fear or shame for the “things” which they do not perceive to have within themselves. They have feelings of brokeness, a yearning for courage, and wish for a completeness of self. There is bonding in that brokeness, support for courage, the capacity one needs to reach beyond fear, and sustenance for the journey in finding others who struggle.
On this day I had the luxury of sitting with a cup of coffee and taking in a bit of CNN as I began my day. Dr. Sanjay Gupta was reporting his experience of giving the commencement address at his alma mater, Michigan University. I was struck by the main message he wished to convey to these graduates. His advice: “Do one thing that you fear every day and become the action hero in your own life.” Well said.
That message applies for those working on recovery, as well. Fear is to recovery as Kryptonite was to Superman. Many in recovery face actions that are fearful, yet, doing that fearful act can bring one to their own aid. Reaching out to another peer with personal struggle, calling a sponsor for aid with the craziness in one’s own head, making an amends to those whom amends are owed can all be very scary acts indeed. If you can work through the fear and take action imagine where that might lead you. The sky is the limit!
The demand for my services for the treatment of sexual addiction has grown over the past several years. Even with the increased frequency of phone contact, I do not think the pain I sense in the clients first call will ever lose its impact on my heart. For the person whose life has been plagued by secret shame and finally has the courage to make the call for help, the pain is palpable. For the spouse who has stumbled upon information of a secret life kept hidden by their partner and now questions the reality of an entire relationship, the level of pain has profound impact on this therapist.