5:30 AM and I wake to titles for posts swirling around my brain. Royal Trickery grabs me by the eyeballs and won’t let my lids close back over them. I wonder about that word, “royal.” It suggests power to me. I have just learned that a good trick, played splendidly, changes the course of lives. That’s certainly power. So royal trickery makes sense to me.
It didn’t always, though.
In the early days of serving as a psychotherapist, a colleague shocked me by suggesting that I needed to be more manipulative, more calculating with my clients. She suggested that trickery should be in my arsenal of therapeutic weapons. She says, “You might call it “manipulation”, Deb, but sometimes you have to trick people in order to get their attention.”
“Hogwash” I say.
“No way,” say I with true blue, straight arrow, goody-two-shoes conviction.
“Never,” say I again to make sure my stance is absolute.
I change my mind as years of experience flow under my feet.
Far away from home only last weekend, I miss a ferry and have two hours to wait for the next one. I whip out my seldom used cell phone and call my daughter. My granddaughter answers.
“Oh, good, Gemma, you called right back,” she says.
“Yeah. Aren’t you calling because you got our message? We called you only a minute ago.”
Don’t you love it when stuff like that happens?
“No, Pol, I didn’t know you called. This is soooooo cooool that we knew it was time to talk. But why did you call?
“ I have a friend who wants to commit suicide,” she says mincing no words. “Mom, suggested I call you.”
“What?” I almost shout into the phone. I’m horrified because we’re talking about 11 year olds here.
“Yeah, she just “texted” me. Cut herself about an inch long and a half inch deep. What should I do?”
We talk about lots of options. I remember a “trick” I used to”play.” When a client said directly, “I’m thinking about killing myself” I’d reply, “Good for you!” They’d look at me like I was nuts, and then I could go on with something like: “I’m so glad you’ve finally gotten sick and tired of living how you have been.” Their horrified expression would morph to curiosity.
As if a mighty wind had blown open a long locked door, we could then walk over that threshold and examine what part of them did want to die so the rest could live more fully.
In the film Mythic Journeys, Michael Meade also describes this phenomenon. The camera approaches a large bridge while Meade tells us that everybody thinks about suicide when they’re young.
“Listen,” he says, “You’re not supposed to die. You’re old enough now that part of you needs to die so that you can have a big life. You think all of you needs to die. All we have to do is figure out which part of you needs to die and we’ll throw that off the bridge. Then you’ll cross the bridge and keep going.”
Sometimes, when we’re curled tightly and all bottled up, we need to let someone else know we’d like their help, an option the snake doesn’t have as it pulls off and wiggles out of its too tight, too dry skin.
Your stories here might help someone else, you know?
Thank you Deborah, This is a great posted. Birth, death, rebirth follows us our whole life. I think that is why ceremonies at different stages of our lives are important. A ceremony stops us at the doorway of change, asks us to pause and be thankful for what has been. There could be a line of branches or anything to represent crossing over and after crossing, others that have made the same journey give stories, gifts, words, and support to the new born.
I was telling my 9 year old grandson that this was his last year of one digit birthdays. Uh, he said? Never ever again will you have a one digit birthday, I repeated. A long silence followed and then he said ‘Yeh, I guess that is right’ not sounding excited about the adventure of a two digit birthday. This exchange reminded me how hesitant, reluctant, and unsure we are of change. Change IS about lose, death of the old in some form. Change is also about accomplishment and the excitement of a new adventure. Two strong emotions coming together to create………….A ritual to honor this amazing point in our personal history would create a cauldron for the emotions to move and form the new.
Yes, I feel all warm and fuzzy reading about your initiative call to your daughter. How is Poll’s friend?
Thank you Cinda so much for your deeply thoughtful reply. I’m gonna write more about trickery tonight…
And I remember the enormity of turning 10…horrified me because I really didn’t want to grow up – there was a certain safety in being dependent, even though it might not have been a very happy childhood, I had my dog, the willow tree, the compost pile and books. What more did a girl need in the 1940’s?
To answer your question about Poll’s friend, she, too, was playing a trick…as the story unfolded over the weekend, turns out her cutting was done by a knife which slipped on a bagel and sliced a finger! She told her more dramatic story as a way of finding out how her friends would respond. She ended up apologizing. I have a feeling more drama will come.
Everyone needs a bag of tricks. It’s part of negotiating ones way through this world:-)
Lovely post, Deborah, thanks!