Star Wars and After Dinner Stories

Star Wars and After Dinner Stories

When I was little we had family meals every evening. From my young child perspective, the kitchen felt warm, the wall paper was yellow with flowers, the wooden kitchen table was large, and there was a lot of food. I have the sense of generous dishes of rice, chicken, kebab, potatoes, Israeli salad, vegetables, pita, homemade hummus. (I do know how fortunate I am to have had this.)

I am the oldest of five and back then there was me and three of my sisters. My brother didn’t join our family until several years later. The food was always good – thanks, mom. I remember my mom saying that she learned to cook from my dad and his mother so we grew up on Middle Eastern food – yum.

After dinner, instead of helping my mom clean up (why did you let us get away with that, mom??) we sat around the dinner table and my father made up stories for us. I don’t remember the content of them now, but my favorites were his Star Wars stories. After dinner he took the Luke, Leia, and Han on adventures that had nothing to do with the movies and we absolutely loved every minute of it. There was intense suspense and he did all the voices. The good guys always won. We sat glued, on his lap and on the seats next to him, listening to every word and I imagined his story playing out in my head.

Some nights he didn’t really have any stories to tell or was probably really tired after a hard day’s work, but we begged and begged him until he gave in. He laughed and laughed and asked my mom, “You see this? Why they love it so much?” He had this way of laughing and talking at the same time in a high pitched voice that made others around him laugh too.

He always ended his stories with “And may the Force be with you!” We screamed and clapped with joy.

Dad, we loved it so much because we loved Star Wars and loved you. You paying attention to us in that way and doing something just for us. Something you created just for us. It felt special. It was a time when you weren’t angry and I wasn’t afraid of you. It was you at your best and most loving.

Forgiveness One

Forgiveness One

When my father says to me: Don’t have as many children as I did, Elana. It’s too much.
I hear: Children are hard to raise and need a lot of attention, and having five of them has been difficult. I love my children, and I want you to have an easier time than I did. I want the best for you.

When my father says to me: Why don’t you become a real doctor? Or a lawyer?
I hear: I wanted to be a doctor and we couldn’t afford it. I think being a doctor is one of the best professions anyone can have. You are so smart, I know you would be a good one.

When my father says to me: Why do you volunteer? Stop wasting your time on things you don’t get paid for.
I hear: You are valuable and your time is valuable. You have a lot to contribute to the world, and you deserve to be paid for your work. I’ve never had the experience of service, and I don’t understand it.

When my father says to me: Elana, if you ever need a lawyer, find the most crooked one you can. He will do whatever it takes to win.
I hear: I’ve been taken advantage of by many people, and I’ve lost a lot of money. I don’t want others to take advantage of you.

When my father says to me: Why don’t you marry someone from your own culture?
I hear: My marriage was not easy, and I think it was because we were from different countries. You deserve to be happy in your marriage, and this is how I think you can.

When my father says to me: Forget about your passion, and make as much money as you can so you can be happy. Making money is most important.
I hear: I grew up very poor, and my life was very hard in a very poor country. I don’t want that for you. You live in a rich country with a lot of opportunity and money means an easier life, which I want you to have.

When my father says to me all of the things that I used to judge and become angry about in my youth, I can now hear what he was really saying:

Elana, I love you.

Healing Doesn’t Happen To Us

Healing Doesn’t Happen To Us

As a therapist, I’ve heard the phrase “Therapy doesn’t work” (or some version of this – it’s ineffective, takes too long) many times.

I wonder if some people go in to see a therapist thinking that the therapist can heal them in some instant, magical way. This was often the case in my work with foster and adopted children when parents and foster parents told me to “just fix” their child.

But healing doesn’t just happen to us. It happens because of us.

Each person needs to be an active participant in their own healing.

I strongly believe that the source of healing – anyone’s source of healing – doesn’t rest with the therapist. (The consciousness of the therapist is important, so please do find a competent one who continually does their own inner work.) But healing is a verb – own it. Healing requires conscious action, commitment, courage, and willingness.

You may be asking, “Then what’s a therapist for?”

A therapist shines a light on blindspots. A therapist is a guide and (hopefully) a loving and safe presence, which is needed when someone’s experiencing pain. A therapist can often symbolize the loving parent we may not have had but wanted.

A therapist holds the space for healing to take place and that healing comes from within the client.

If you don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, tell them. If it’s not a match, don’t give up on therapy – find a new therapist.

My dear friend and very talented TMJ and sleep specialist Dr. Dave Shirazi encourages his patients to take ownership of their own healing by having them sign a form which states the following:

“We understand you have come to us seeking help in resolution of the issues and problems you have been facing for considerable time now. We want to be clear on how the healing process works for everyone. At all times, and with no exceptions to this rule, you are always in control of your own healing and are even doing your own healing. All healthcare providers, at best, can only facilitate your well being, that is why there are no guarantees in medicine. It is 100% your responsibility to follow the directions, recommendations, referrals, care of appliances, office visits and treatment given by your healthcare provider(s), as well as to give feedback and inform us of any challenges and wins along the way. . . But we cannot heal for you. Please be clear on this point. To that end, and for this process to continue, we ask that you acknowledge your responsibility of your own health and well being. Responsibility is yours to have, and responsibility is your power of healing.

“I, (client name), understand that I am responsible for my own health and well being. I am fully aware that the doctors and staff and referred doctors at the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Conejo Valley are here to facilitate my wellness, but do not heal for me. My healing occurs by me and for me. . .”

This is brilliant. This kind of active healing requires being vulnerable and not just saying what one thinks they want their therapist to hear. It requires being honest with oneself and the therapist when things aren’t going right and giving that therapist feedback – and it requires doing the work.

 

Honesty & Vulnerability

Honesty & Vulnerability

One of the issues I see frequently in therapy with my clients is an overwhelming fear of being vulnerable – with me and with others. This can make moving forward in therapy tricky.

I’ve struggled with being vulnerable as well. In the past, it’s felt unsafe.

We live in a culture where we are afraid of our fear and our feelings, and vulnerability is mistakenly associated with weakness. It can feel uncomfortable, because we are afraid of what others will think of us or afraid of being hurt.

One of the best ways to connect with those we love and the only way that true healing can happen is if we are brave enough to be honest with ourselves and vulnerable with others.

This requires not hiding behind anger (which can feel powerful) or not hiding behind a wall of perceived strength built by the ego.

Brené Brown says is best in Daring Greatly: vulnerability is life’s greatest dare.