The 100th Post – You Can Get There From Here…If You Want To

Posted on December 5, 2013


If you need me, don’t let go.  I will never give up on you.  Wang Chung

The prize is always worth the rocky ride.  Emily Saliers

I’ve never lost a game, I just ran out of time.  Michael Jordan

We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.  Vince Lombardi

Whatever happened to Bob’s Big Boy?  I was always fond of the place.  When I was a teenager, we used to go there after we closed at Taco Bell since Bob’s was open 24 hours.  The Big Boy combo was $1.70 and you got your Big Boy double decker burger, fries, and a salad.  The burger had that great relish on it and the salad, Bob’s Blue Cheese dressing.  You can still find the blue cheese dressing in the grocery store, but I don’t know where you could get the relish.  When I was a kid, one of the things I liked about Bob’s was the comic books.  They used to have the adventures of Big Boy and Dolly.  On the front of the comic book they had a 10 cent price superimposed with “free to our guests.”  I find it sometimes odd and amusing (not to mention oddly amusing) the things that stick in one’s memory.  I remember one comic where a stranger asked Big Boy for directions to the library on Maple.  Big Boy begins with “Go 3 blocks north; turn left at Elm and go 3 blocks.  No that’s not right.”  He begins again, “No, you go 2 blocks east and then turn left on 3rd.  No that’s wrong.”  He starts again, “You go a ½ mile down to Park and turn left.”  After several attempts he is stymied and announces, “I guess you can’t get there from here.”  This is of course the punch line.  The idea that you can’t get where you need to go in town from where you are is a silly concept.

Life and relationships are a little more complex than directions to the library.  It is helpful to have a view of how you would like things to be while at the same time dealing with what is.  I was having lunch this week with a pastor friend of mine.  The subject came up of some mutual friends who are in the process of divorcing.  My comment was that I wished for them and their children that they had stayed in therapy.[1]  Though they were not my clients, I was close enough to the situation to feel that the situation was salvageable if they both had been able to stay through the difficult work of therapy.  I made the observation that I have yet to have a couple come for therapy with whom I thought, “You can’t get there from here.”  I have seen first session couples whose fighting was so escalated I had to say, “You aren’t ready to talk to each other yet in here so just talk to me.”  Or situations where they constantly interrupted each other where I had to say, “I know this is really hard to listen to, but if she tells me two plus two is seventeen, I need to be able to hear where she is coming from.  I promise I will give you time too.”  Anger and escalated fights don’t necessarily mean the end of the relationship.  You can get there from here, but you both have to want it and be willing to do the work.  It is not easy, but it is possible if you both want it.  You get to say whether or not the game is over.  While you are both in the game, there is still hope.

There is a 2500 year old axiom attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus that asserts that “You could not step twice into the same river.”  Among the variants of the adage is added, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”    Extrapolating from that, one could assert that it is not possible to get therapy from the same therapist twice.  The old Freudian concept of the therapist as a blank screen for the projections of the patient[2] is not realistic, and I would assert that it is not necessarily desirable.  The therapist always brings himself or herself into the therapy room.  At the start of therapy, I share with my clients that I am one imperfect person trying to help another (or two others).  The therapist inherently brings his or her view of life, health, and relationships into therapy.  Goals for therapy are set by the client, but the therapist still brings a therapeutic orientation and their own life experience to bear on the problem.  Further, we are all always changing (and hopefully growing) throughout our lives.  In that regard, Heraclitus was essentially correct.  As an aside, when I graduated high school, our class song was from some more recent philosophers, namely, Seals and Crofts, who asserted, “We May Never Pass This Way Again.”  To some extent they were combining Heraclitus’ thought with a call to muster our courage to seize the day.

With regard to this blog, my plan has been to put out 50 posts per year (to get something out on roughly a weekly basis).  This is the end of my second year of blogging.  I have no idea how I will come up with 50 new ideas for next year, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  For my readers, thank you for reading whatever I have had to say each week.  I hope you have found some things that were helpful to you.  To my fellow Christians, I wish you a merry Christmas as we celebrate again the birth of our savior.  For those of other faiths or no faith, I wish you blessings in your lives as well.  For my clients, thank you for your trust and faith in me as your therapist.  It is a blessing to me to be of support for you.

[1] I was not their therapist as they were friends of mine which would mean that I would need to refer them to someone else.

[2] I also don’t consider the people that I help to be “patients.”  To my thinking, the term implies that there is something wrong with them that I am going to diagnose and treat.  They are my clients who have come to me for help with a difficulty in their lives.